Category Archives: tutorials

how to cook Thanksgiving dinner from scratch (without losing your mind)

Let me start by saying that this post was completely unplanned.  If I had planned on writing it, I would have done it a couple of weeks ago to help people prepare.  Instead what happened was that I was deep in my own preparations, when I thought back to previous years and the fact that I occasionally get this question from readers, and I thought huh, maybe I should just write a post.  So if this is coming too late to be of much help to you this year, maybe it will be of help next year.*

All photos from years gone by.

Cooking such a large meal from scratch is a major undertaking, but it needn’t be stressful.  The key to success, as with so many other things in life, is careful planning.

Plan on doing your shopping the week before Thanksgiving.
You’ll save yourself the stress of crowded stores and have everything you need on hand well in advance making it easier to do a little bit at a time.

Make a detailed menu

Before you shop you need to know what to buy.  Before you can know what to buy, you need to know what you are making!  Write out a full menu.  Don’t forget sauces and drinks.

Determine amounts

There are calculators all over the internet to help you determine how big a turkey you need and so forth.

Plan for leftovers 

You don’t want to spend all of this time making a single meal that’s going to be gone in one sitting.  After all that time in the kitchen, I know that I’m all for taking a day or two off.  In our family, the day after Thanksgiving, after the guests have left, is traditionally devoted to laying low; playing board games, sledding with leftover pie for breakfast!

Once you have your menu and amounts determined, it’s time to make your list.  Look at the recipe for each thing on your menu, one at a time, and make sure you have every ingredient you will need.

Consider bake ware and other supplies

Do you have a large enough pan to roast the size turkey you are trying to cook?  Do you own two pie pans, but plan on making four pies?  Do certain recipes require twine or cheesecloth?  Make plans to buy or borrow whatever you need.

Clean out your refrigerator

I can’t stress this one enough.  Probably best done before your big shopping trip.  Eat up all of the leftovers. If you have multiples of the same item, try to condense containers.  Organize everything to make the most of your space.  Fair warning: you will be re-organizing many times over the next several days to make everything fit.  Save some time and energy by starting off with a fair bit of open space.

Make a schedule

There are a lot of considerations here.  Some things can be made in advance, some can’t.  Only so much can fit in a single oven or refrigerator at once and different dishes need to cook at different temperatures.  It’s something of a balancing act to be sure.  Come up with a basic plan that seems to work.  Write it down.  Don’t even think about trying to keep it all in your head.  More on this below.

Make your base ingredients in advance.
What I mean by “base ingredient” is any ingredient that you need to make something else.  So if you make your own ghee, cheese, pumpkin puree, bread, broth, etc, make a nice big batch in advance so that when you go to make say, stuffing, it’s not actually making 4 or 5 things, it’s just making stuffing.

Consider your assets 

Does your oven have a warming tray?  Do you have a double oven? (if so, lucky you!)  Does your mother-in-law live right next store, making her kitchen possibly available to you as well?  Are there certain dishes you can prepare in the crockpot, freeing up oven space?

Start cooking well in advance

No one wants to spend all day Thanksgiving in the kitchen while everyone else visits and enjoys themselves.  Plan on having as much ready as possible so that you can do the bare minimum on the actual day of.

Think of easy ways to pad out the meal

If you have a lot of guests coming and you put up a lot of apple sauce this year, put a few jars out on the table.  There is no extra work for you and everyone has another dish to sample.

Enlist help

Can you do it all yourself?  Yeah, actually, you can.  There have been years that I’ve done it out of necessity.  But it’s always nicer to have an extra set of hands around and someone to chat with while you work.

Wear an apron

Just trust me on this one.

To put it all together in an example, this is the menu and schedule for our family this year.


Bacon Wrapped Turkey




Twice Baked Potatoes

Cranberry Sauce

Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Sparkling Cider

Sparkling Grape Juice

Apple Pie

Pumpkin Pie

And our schedule:


clean out the refrigerator



cook pumpkin (the last one from our garden)

make pumpkin puree- there are some nice instructions here.

make cranberry sauce


start chicken stock- to have on hand for gravy and stuffing later in the week

thaw bread

harvest (out of the snow!) and prepare brussel sprouts- I don’t cook them at this point, just chop and season them and store them in a baking pan in the fridge, all ready to slide into the oven Thursday morning.

make ghee


thaw steak- for the non-turkey lovers- I usually do a roast in the crockpot, but steak was requested this year making day of oven timing extra tricky, we’ll see how it goes!

brine turkey- I use this brine- I have a large stockpot that fits the size turkey we usually get.  I tie and tape the lid on tightly and store it on the porch overnight, as it’s always cold enough here at this time of year.

make stuffing- again just preparing, not cooking

first bake the twice bakeds- this is Steve’s specialty, he’s even mastered a dairy free version for us.  On this day the potatoes get baked, the filling gets made and they are stuffed, all ready to be heated through on Thanksgiving.

And Iain, who acted as secretary when we sat down to make a schedule as a family wrote:

“pie, pie, pie, pie, pie and more pie”

The kids and I usually make and decorate all of our pies on Wednesday night.


Set out cider to chill first thing- our cider also tends to get chilled on the porch, unless there happens to be room in the fridge.

Prepare the turkey for roasting.  I use this recipe.

Cook turkey and steak, heat up everything else.

Put in the squash to cook.  If there is room in the refrigerator I’ll cut it and de-seed it the night before.  If not it’s not a big deal to do it the day of.

Make gravy right before dinner is served.

And that’s it.  As you can see there is no one day that contains an over-whelming amount of work, instead a little bit gets done and put away each day.

A very happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

*We had a surprise snowstorm, causing Steve to work from home and me to not have computer access, so now it’s really, really late!


Màiri Rose’s Floral Crown- a tutorial

(that one above is one of my all-time favorite pictures)

I loved the idea of Màiri wearing flowers in her hair.  My preference would have been for fresh flowers, but since we were doing our own flowers, I didn’t want to add in another last minute project.  I was kind of inspired by the shapes of ’50′s style half hats (also sometimes called half bonnets and probably other terms I don’t know).  But I didn’t want to go too-too far with it and have it be overwhelming.  So I kind of blended that look with a traditional flower girl halo.  As it was, I finished it and smiled because it was exactly what I had envisioned.  Then I placed it on her head and was shocked at how visually over-whelming it was on a little 4 year old head!  But I got used to it and over-all, I think it turned out pretty sweet.

I considered using a Juliet Cap frame or something of that sort, but couldn’t find any locally and eventually decided it was cheaper and easier to make the frame myself.

My apologies for the picture quality.  They get progressively worse as the project goes on!  Something about hot-gooey glue and trying to juggle a camera.

How to Make a Floral Crown:

You will need…

2 lengths of 18 gauge cloth covered wire

fine gauge floral wire

floral tape


a hot glue gun

felt (preferably wool)

fake flowers, berries and leaves of your choice

ribbon (optional)

a comb (around 3″-clear or in a color to match the recipient’s hair)

hand sewing needle

thread to match the felt

Determine where you want the frame to sit.  Take 2 lengths of 18 gauge cloth covered wire and twist the ends together at the appropriate place.  Make the wire in the back slightly shorter so that it conforms to the head.  Try it on to make sure that everything lands where you want it to.
Weave thin gauge floral wire back and forth through the frame.  Wrap any extra around the end.  Trim the ends of the frame.

Optional:  You don’t have to have ribbon ties, but I wanted them and I think it’s nice to have the extra element to secure it.  If you want ties, pass the ribbon through the ends of the frame and double knot securely now.

Wrap the ends well, ribbon, wire and all, with floral tape.
Cut a length of felt (wool works best) approximately the length of the frame and slightly wider then the widest point.  Wrap around and glue using a hot glue gun, trimming excess as you go.  It will not wrap all the way around in the middle, that’s ok.
Cut the stems off of the flowers and berries, leaving a flat base.  Begin gluing them to your frame- I started with some leaves on the ends, that I knew I would want to layer flowers over and around.  Then start in the middle and glue in flower buds as clumps or three or four, nice and close together so that none of the frame shows through.

Optional, but recommended: cut another strip of felt to cover anything that was left exposed on the inside of the frame.

Hand sew a comb to the underside of the frame.

ta-da!  All done.  The only thing I would have done differently is to set the comb further back on the frame.  It bothered me that from certain angles it showed a bit.
As you can see, she got a little wild and crazy at the reception!  But the headband had amazing staying power and didn’t even shift.

Many of the photos above (the good ones!) are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.


the cake

Considering all of our food and budget restrictions, making our own cake was a no brainer.  Besides, I wanted something that tasted GOOD!  And in my experience most bakers botch low-allergen cakes, giving a bad name to all things gluten and dairy free.  I wasn’t about to spend a small fortune on something I wasn’t even interested in eating.

My sweet sister was so wonderful to help me with this project.  She made everything go so smoothly.

So the cake….oh my goodness…it was kind of the cake to end all cakes.  I wanted something delicate and light.  Something with kind of a fresh, artisan feel to it.  Steve wanted CHOCOLATE and had no interest in anything beyond that.  Since it was one of the few things he had a clear and decided preference in, I conceded and made my flourless chocolate cake, which is his favorite dessert.  In between layers of cake we alternated nut butter caramel and coffee icing.  The whole thing was glazed with two layers of chocolate ganache, followed by almond (mock) butter cream icing and decorated with honey marzipan leaves and flowers.  It was rich beyond rich and made quite the impression.  We all laughed when the photographer sent us the link to our on-line gallery with the password: flourlesscake.  To by honest, my sister and I were a little afraid we might kill someone with it.  Not your typical plain-Jane wedding type cake for sure!

DIY Wedding Cake Tips and Tricks:

  • Make a practice cake or three or four!  Do some taste tests, experiment with different decorating styles.
  • Let a least one of your practice cakes sit out for a while to get an idea of how it will hold up while sitting out on display.  You can obviously skip this step if you are not planning on displaying your cake.
  • Take scrupulous notes on exactly what you did and how you did it: Any modifications to any recipes, baking time, number of batches, etc.
  • An extra set of hands is always nice.
  • Be flexible.  Make adjustments if a recipe or decorating method isn’t working for you.  Better to make a simpler cake well then a more complicated one poorly.
  • Your timer is your best friend, don’t forget to use it.
  • Choose a cake that is very sturdy.  The flourless chocolate cake we used is an excellent example.  Pound cake is another good option.
  • Do your math and double check it.  Figure out exactly how much batter you need to make enough layers to feed your guests.  Then figure out exactly how it should be divided into each cake pan.
  • Always grease your pans well.
  • Make as much as possible in advance.  We baked the cakes, made the marzipan decorations, as well as the caramel filling well in advance and froze them.  I froze the flowers and leaves on was paper in a pyrex container.  The caramel was also stored in a pyrex.
  • Take great care with freezing your cake.  Make sure each layer is entirely cooled before doing anything.
  • I wanted to use ziplock bags to cut down on the risk of freezer burn, but was concerned about the cake developing a plastic-y flavor.  We put each layer on it’s own cardboard cake board for support (packs of these can be gotten very inexpensively at most major craft stores), then wrapped them in wax paper, followed by foil and then into the bag.
  • Gallon bags were big enough for the size layers we were working with, check your measurements.  Make sure to get as much air out of the bag as possible.  A nifty little trick; take a drinking straw and place an end in the bag.  Seal the bag all the way up to the straw.  Suck out all the air and quickly seal the rest of the bag as you remove the straw.
  • Use common sense with freezer placement…store them flat, try not to stack anything on top of them, etc.
  • Make sure your cakes are completely thawed before trying to assemble or ice them.  In most climates, overnight on the counter should do the trick.
  • Also consider the benefits of making other parts in advance and decide if it’s worthwhile.  Our mock butter cream icing took around 10 minutes to whip up.  It didn’t seem worth making in advance and risking it separating as it thawed (I’ve read of some people having trouble with this).
  • Make a cake schedule and assign dates for each step.  Write it all on your calendar and don’t forget to include getting the cake out to thaw!
  • Again, cake boards are indispensable.  Each tier should be on one.
  • A thick bead of icing piped around the edge can help to hold in gooey fillings and also help one layer to adhere to the next.
  • Invest in or make a pretty cake stand, it can make a world of difference in presentation.
  • Take the time to measure to make sure your cake is centered on the stand and each layer is centered on the next, unless of course you are going for an asymmetrical look.  Then measure and make sure they are evenly off center!
  • Make sure nothing is going to shift.  We used a bit of painters tape, rolled on itself, under the bottom cake board to keep it from slipping off the cake stand.  You can use drinking straws to secure one layer to the next.  Just push them all the way through to the bottom and trim off the excess at the top.  To attach one tier to the next, you can use a thin sharpened dowel.  Gently hammer it through all of the layers and cake boards down to the lowest layer.
  • For our cake we completely coated everything in two layers of chocolate glaze which, once chilled, completely glued the entire thing together Making any extra measures unnecessary.  Very convenient!
  • Before decorating your cake, slip strips of wax paper under the lowest cake board, all the way around.  When you are done decorating, simply pull them out and you will have a pristine cake stand, rather then one that’s smudged with chocolate and icing.
  • Youtube has many cake decorating tutorials.
  • Craftsy now offers a wide variety of cake decorating classes, from basic to advanced, including a few free mini-classes.
  • Above all; relax and have fun!  Pick a delicious cake.  If it doesn’t turn out beautiful, your guests will enjoy it all the same and you’ll have a fun/funny story to tell.

Up next: the recipes!

All the photos above are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.


doily table runner and other pretty things

There were candles everywhere.  I emptied out my cabinets and the pantry of jars in every shape and size and filled them all with ivory candles.  Jam jars, honey jars, canning jars, vases, whatever I could get my hands on.

The candle holders on the table were made in the style of faux  mercury glass, only in gold instead of silver.   Steve sprayed the insides a bit with plain water, then a coat of metallic gold spray paint and left them upside down to dry.  It gives a neat, uneven crackly sort of effect.  With a candle lit inside it creates such a wonderful warm glow.  He also spray painted all of the cream colored vases that show up in various pictures.  All of the spray painted items were five to twenty cent yard sale finds.

I wish I had more photos of the table runner.  I guess I could actually go and takes some, but that seems like an awful lot of trouble.  The contrast of the shades of white, cream and ecru over the dark cherry finish of my sewing table was just lovely.  I started from the middle and worked my way out because I had a particular piece that I wanted to be the center.  I pinned on a few at a time, overlapping them a bit and sewing them on the machine with a straight stitch and matching thread.  Normally when you sew lace you used a zig-zag stitch because it blends better, but for whatever reason the straight stitch worked much better for this.   For stability I tried to make sure that each doily was connected at least two points.  It was a very quick, fun, free-form sort of project.

All the photos above are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.


ribbon wand tutorial


 3/8″ dowels – a 3′ dowel will make 3 wands, a 4′ four wands, etc.

brass hooks- the kind that you can screw into things

a handsaw



ribbons: in a variety of widths, no greater then 5/8″ wide


ric rac, lace trim, pom pom trim

We made these wands for people to wave at the end of the ceremony.  The ceremony was supposed to take place in the garden, but an unexpected rain storm drove us inside at the last minute.  Instead we took shelter on the porch, which is rather small and didn’t leave much room for waving.  But it mostly worked out.  And Iain Irish Danced us back down the aisle with some in hand.  The wands were a big hit with the kids and wildly popular with pretty much everyone on the dance floor.  I think they would be a lot of fun for a kids party or just for dress ups and creative movement type play.  We’re planning on breaking out our collection for people to borrow for May Day next year.

For ours I used three different ribbons, all satin; a 1/4″ light blue, 3/8″ darker blue and 5/8″ sage green.  You can use any combination of colors, widths or textures and mix in other kinds of trims.  I think they are much prettier and more interesting with a bit of variety, all of one kind of ribbon would be a little dull.

How to:

Cut your dowels into 12″ lengths.  Sand well.  We made all of the edges on ours curved.  At this point we also polished ours with beeswax polish, but that’s entirely optional.

Carefully screw the hooks into one end.

Cut your ribbon to approximately 68″ lengths (somewhere around 5 1/2′)

Layer 4 or so ribbons on top of each other.  Depending on the width of the ribbons used, you might want more or less.  Fold them in half lengthwise.  Poke the folded edge through the hook to create a loop.  Pull all the ends of the ribbons up through the loop and tighten.

Using pliers, pinch the brass hook completely closed.

Dance around and enjoy!


flower girl bag tutorial

I wasn’t going to bother with flowers for Màiri, but when she heard that all of the other girls were going to have some, she didn’t want to be left out!

While looking at other floral supplies, I came across these bags.  I hadn’t really seen anything like that before and I thought they were kind of a cute idea.  Rather then buy the $27 bag, I bought a plain, $3 one and embellished it myself.

I do not have pictures of the process, but it was fairly straight forward.

I used a bit of unbleached muslin that I had laying around for the skirt.  First I measured from the top edge of the basket to the fold for the bottom.  Then I measured around the edge of the basket.  I multiplied the second number by 2.5.

1st measurement by 2nd measurement x 2.5 is the size you need to cut your fabric.

You can finish the edges if you like.  The unfinished edges really appealed to me for whatever reason, so I just left them.

Fold the fabric in half, right sides together, lining up the short edges.  Stitch the short edges together.

Run a gathering stitch along the top and gather evenly to fit the top edge of the basket.  Pin it to the basket and stitch in place.  I used a zig-zag stitch for this.

At this point you can do whatever else you like to decorate it.  I used a strip of 3/4″ cotton lace, that I had leftover from Màiri’s blessing gown.  I sewed it over the top edge of the skirt.  Then a used a little scrap of Alençon lace from my gown as an applique to cover where the lace trim was joined.  The whole thing took around 15 minutes.

To fill it, I found that a milk carton was the perfect size, so I cut the bottom off an old one and cleaned it (obviously).  Then I cut a chunk of floral foam to fit neatly inside.  Once the foam had been soaked, I simply stuck spray roses into somewhat randomly.  I really only wanted to use the peach roses, but we had so many of the other ones with short stems, leftover from bouquet making, that it just made sense to use both.

It was a little heavy because of the water saturated foam, but the Wee Miss thought it was great.  And now she uses the bag to hold all of her hair ties and things.

All photographs by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.


squash seed necklaces

With all of the squash eating going on around here, we’ve had a surplus of seeds.  Some we roast for eating.  Did you know that all squash seeds are edible, not just pumpkin?  With slight but interesting differences in flavor and texture?  Some have been carefully set aside for the garden for next year.  And some we’ve just been playing with.  A squash seed when squeezed between your forefinger and thumb can really go rocketing across the room!

During our nature study week we took things a bit further and started wearing our seeds.  We decided to make them a bit more interesting with a little dye.  First we washed the seeds and patted them dry.  Using some disposable cups that we had left over from an experiment, we added in a couple drops of food coloring and swirled the seeds around to cover them.  Then we let them sit and soak up the color overnight.

In the morning we laid them out to dry.  I tried to speed the process along by putting them in a warm oven, but they started sticking to the pans so we ended up just letting them air dry on the counter.

Using long needles, we then strung them on hemp string.

We did find that with a whole lot of handling, some of the dye came off.  The younger the crafter, the more likely they were to pop the thin skin of dye off the seed.  All the same, it was still a project enjoyed by everyone.



I’ve had some requests in the last couple of days for that beard pattern I mention in this post.  At this point it’s rather belated for Halloween crafting, but I thought that perhaps it might fit into some people’s Christmas plans.

And at least this way it’s out there for next year.

Disclaimer: This is a very loose, very rough tutorial, not a full scale knitting pattern, for a gnome/Santa/old man/wizard/what-have-you beard of all trades.  Obviously it has not been test knit or anything of that sort.

For both of these projects we used Sensations Cello eyelash yarn in ‘white’.  Snotty yarn snob that I am, normally I wouldn’t be caught dead knitting with novelty yarn and synthetic fibers at that, but it’s strange the things that crazy requests from cute kids will do to you.  It’s considered a bulky yarn, I guess because of the eyelashes, but it doesn’t seem the least bit bulky to me.  One ball is sufficient for this pattern (more may be needed for some of the variations).

You’ll also need a set of size 7 (4.5mm) needles, a length of 1″ elastic, matching thread and either a hand sewing needle or a sewing machine.

gauge is approximately 17 stitches and 22 rows per 4″ of unblocked garter stitch

Beard knitting notes, more or less as written in my notebook:

we start by making a little mustache…

row 1: co 5

row 2: k across

row 3: co 1, k to end, co 1

row 4: K1, bind off 5, k1

row 5: co 2, k1, co 8, k1, co2

**note: we’ve found this mouth shaping to fit and work for everyone in our family, that doesn’t mean it will be perfect for you, but consider it a one-size-fits-most.  I really just can’t-stop-typing-like-that-today.**

increase section: work 6 rows, casting on 1 stitch at the beginning and 1 stitch at the end of each row

K5 rows (7 for a larger beard)

repeat increase section

k 10 (33) rows

decrease row: k1, ssk, k to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1

K 5 rows

repeat decrease row

K 5 rows

repeat decrease row

K 3 rows

repeat decrease row

K 3 rows

repeat decrease row

K 2 rows

repeat decrease row

K 2 rows

repeat decrease row

K 1 row

repeat decrease row

K 3 rows

repeat decrease row

K 3 rows

repeat decrease row

K 2 rows

repeat decrease row

K 5 rows

k1, k2tog, k1

K 3 rows


break yarn

Picking up stitches for chin strap:

You should now have this kind of funny shaped thing that looks like a trapezoid with a hole in it on top of a big inverted triangle.  Starting at the very top corner of one of the sides of the trapezoid, pick up 5 stitches, working your way down towards the triangle part.  I know this needs a visual aid.  I’m sorry I don’t have one to offer at the moment!  This should take you about half-way down the side of the trapezoid.  If you would like a wider chin strap, feel free to pick up more stitches.  Knit approximately 8 rows.  This will depend on how far up the cheek and into the hair line you want the beard to go.  Repeat what you did on the first side for the second side.

This is the exact way I knitted up the gnome beard, pictured on a 5 year old above.

Attaching the elastic band:

This design includes an elastic band that goes up and around the back of the head creating a very secure beard that conforms to the contours of the face in a more realistic way.  Most people seem to like wearing it with the band just above their ears.  This band can either be covered with a hat (as shown) or it could be camouflaged with additional yarn.

Sew one end of the elastic to the under side of one of the chin straps.  Try on the beard, stretching the elastic across the back the head to get a good fit.  Trim the extra elastic, sew the other side in place and you are done!

After working in the ends we opted to trim back some of the eyelashes around the mouth area, mostly because no one thought they tasted very good.

 For a longer beard:

As shown on Santa above and Dumbledore below, simply increase the number of rows in between the shaping.  Suggested row counts for the beginning sections are in parenthesis.  Elijah and I were both working on that beard and I guess I stopped taking notes after that.  Be sure to mix up the number of rows you use to give it a more natural look.  A straight edged triangle with shaping at regular intervals will not look right.

For a beard with a rounded bottom edge:

Work as above until the first decrease row.  At this point you can either work straight or as above until the beard is approximately the desired length (presuming that you are wanting a shorter beard then the one above, otherwise you will run out of stitches).  Decrease at the beginning and end of each row for a couple of rows before binding off.  This will round off the corners.  How much rounding off you wish to do is entirely up to you.  Continue with the pattern as written starting at the “chin strap” section.


It does knit up quickly, so if Halloween has been delayed for you, due to the storm, you may just be able to get one made in time after all.



Some quick and easy DIY wall art…

We’re working on putting the finishing touches on Iain and Elijah’s room.  It’s not a large room for two people, so we’re trying to choose the things we put in there with care.  We want it to be fun and functional and oh, so many other things.  But in the end, we mostly want it to be a reflection of who they are at this point in their lives.  To suit their lives and their current loves.  I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far.  With one glaring exception.  There just wasn’t enough baseball!  What can I say?  My kids are the ones who show up for a casual pick-up game of baseball in full uniform, including cleats, having used face crayons for eye black.  They take it seriously!

We’re not really a poster sort of family.  At least not at the moment.  Who knows what will come in the future?  I’m not even sure that my kids realize that sort of thing exists.  I can see how a room could very quickly get completely covered by a zealous young fan.  But I’m not really sure that’s as relaxing or conducive to studying, reading, resting and the artistic endeavors that I feel should be the mainstays of time spent in this space.  So, apart from a framed team photo, how to represent that very large part of their life?  This is what I came up with…

It’s basically a fabric covered canvas.  You could easily use a canvas frame from the craft store.  Steve made mine from some scraps of wood.  I’d say it took less then 10 minutes.  And then I covered it with fabric.  This is an older Alexander Henry print called “Bases Loaded“.  I used just a fat quarter.  I did a serging stitch around the edges, which was probably unnecessary, then I wrapped and stretched it around the frame, kind of like wrapping a gift.  I folded under the serged edge and stapled everything in place using a staple gun.  Two of those little nail-on picture hanger things on the back and it was all done.

There are so many interesting fabrics around these days, so many of which look like works of art, all on their own.  I think I might have some fun with this.


making a vine wreath

I wanted a wreath for our front door this holiday season, but I didn’t want to buy one or even buy the supplies for one.  I wanted to work with what we had.  I considered our resources and mulled over my options for a bit before deciding to try my hand at making a vine wreath.

This meant a trip to the area where the forest and our yard meet.  I had help in the harvesting.

And our coming and going earned us a great many burdock burs to pick off ourselves.  But we gathered up a sizable heap.

These are all wild grape and wild cucumber vines.  Both of which we have in abundance here.  For those in the south I’ve heard that kudzu works well too.  Most of the vines we cut were around 10′ long.

I knew that I wanted to keep my wreath fairly simple, with sparse decoration.  So I wanted it to have a lot of texture.  I specifically looked for vines in a variety of shades and thicknesses, especially seeking out ones that had interesting looking tendrils.

I started with one of the thickest grape vines and made a loop of it, gently twisting and twining the overlapping ends.  Then slowly started layering over vines on top, twisting them around and tucking the ends in where ever they fit.

I added many, many layers because I wanted it to be thick and sturdy.  If I had one piece of advice to offer it would be to keep your work away from your pile of vines!  Otherwise they grab at each other and tangle again and again.  So, if you are working at a table, keep your supplies on the floor.  If you working on the floor put them in a different room, or better yet, just leave them outside and bring in one vine at a time.


When it was done, I decorated mine with baby rick rack and some clippings from the yard.

I think the more official way to attach ribbons and things would be with a hot glue gun, but I wasn’t willing to permanently commit my rick rack to the wreath, so I just tied the ends to the wreath in the back.  Everything else I slipped into the nooks and crannies created by winding the vines.  This way I figure I can redecorate it with the seasons if I choose.


Galen made his own.  He was all about the ribbons for decorating his.