My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.




Blog Index
The journal that this archive was targeting has been deleted. Please update your configuration.

Entries in Christmas (21)


DIY Letterpress Holiday Cards with Foil Accents

Happy holidays! This year we got snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so we are enjoying a cozy white Christmas here in Michigan. It's been a busy month but I managed to finish making our holiday cards and mail them out a few days ago.

For the design this year I wanted to do letterpress again since I have enough navy ink left over from making our letterpress wedding invitations to last a lifetime. I created a simple greeting "Happy Holidays from the DiMaggios" using Adobe Illustrator and then ordered a letterpress plate through Boxcar Press.

To make the invitations I used the tools that I previously used for my past letterpress projects, Lifestyle Crafts Letterpress Combo Kit, letterpress plate, two pieces of acrylic plexiglass, a palette knife and a rubber brayer. For these cards I also used Crane's Lettra Pearl White 220lb Cover which is my favorite because due its thickness you can make a really lovely impression with it. I buy it in 8-1/2 x 11 sheets which I cut in half to print the cards and then later cut down.

I've explained my letterpress process in this previous post which has all the details but the number one tip is that you need way less ink than you think. Practice makes perfect and over time I am becoming happier with the quality of the impressions when I print and at the same time I am managing to get less ink stains on my hands. It now takes me less than a minute to ink the plate and print each card.

After printing the cards I wanted to add a foil detail along the bottom so I drew a little snowscape design on my computer using Silhouette Studio. Since I knew that my final card was going to be 7" wide I made sure to make my design a quarter inch wider. Once I was happy with the design I copied it across the workspace so I could cut 7 at a time and then used my Silhouette to cut the design out of blue adhesive foil. If you don't have a Silhouette you can make a pattern from cardboard and then trace and cut out the design by hand.

I applied the foil designs along the bottom of the cards and then trimmed the cards down to 7" x 5" to fit into A7 sized envelopes. Because of the thickness of the 220 lb. stock I used to bring my cards to Kinko's and use their paper cutter to trim down cards. However, a few months ago I picked up a huge 24" x 24" paper cutter at a second hand shop for $20 which is perfect for handling the thick stock. Despite being a little worn from a previous life in an elementary school art department, the paper cutter was super sharp and I was able to quickly trim all of the cards. Making the cards oversized and then cutting them down ensures that the edges of the foil design line up with card perfectly.

With the cards finished I mailed them off to our friends and family. It was fun to add the blue foil to the design this year and I'll have to come up with a different unique touch for next year. Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and a happy 2018!

If you are interested you can check out some more of my handmade holiday cards here and here.


DIY Letterpress Holiday Cards

I love to make our annual holiday cards and this year I decided to do a simple letterpress card. I previously had made our letterpress wedding invitations a few years ago so I had the benefit of some lessons learned this time around. I already had plenty of navy ink that I had previously custom ordered for the wedding invitations and my Lifestyle Crafts Letterpress Combo Kit so all I needed was to order some more paper and create a design. I'm just going to share some basics in this post so for a thorough rundown about the process, check out my wedding invitation post as well as the information from Boxcar Press..

I started by creating my design using Adobe Illustrator with a simple greeting and a few snowflakes. I then ordered my plate through Boxcar Press. They have a minimum size so I like to add on a bunch of other fun things that I may use later, like small designs, greetings or initials. Also, when ordering they will send you extra plate strips for free that you can use as bearings when inking so definitely ask for it in the comments of your order. After receiving the plate I cut out the design using a scissors and removed the blue backing so that I could stick it to the top board of my letterpress bed. 

The big thing that I learned from last time was to start with a very, very small amount of ink and use a large acrylic piece to work with as your base. Instead of using the small piece that came with the kit, I ordered a nice large 12"x12" acrylic piece. I used my ink knife to only spread out a pea sized amount of ink and then worked it with my knife back and forth until it was smooth.

I then transferred only a small amount from my blade onto a second large piece of acrylic and used my rubber brayer to roll it back and forth until I had a very, very light coat of ink on the brayer.

I used some of the polymer plate strips that came with my plate for roller bearers. I didn't do this when I did my wedding invitations (it didn't work well for me then) but this time it resulted in a much better impression. With my brayer loaded with ink, I very lightly rolled it over my letterpress plate. It is very important to only roll once otherwise you will have way too much ink on the plate and you will get a messy impression.

After the plate was inked removed the polymer plate strips and put my paper on the bottom board of the letterpress bed.  I splurged and used the Crane's Lettra Pearl White 220lb Cover again. It is hard to show in pictures but it is amazingly thick and beautiful and I felt it was definitely worth it. Instead of using gage pins to align my paper on the letterpress bed I just aligned it with the markings on the letterpress and then trimmed down the card afterward. 

With the paper in place I carefully flipped the top of the letterpress over the bed. I then put the letterpress bed into the Epic Six and turned the crank which pushed the letterpress bed through the machine. After trimming it down to size my card was complete.

To make sure that I got good impressions, after each print I wiped the sentiment part of the plate clean with a dry cotton rag before reinking. I found that not wiping the snowflakes worked best to make sure that they filled in well. I also found that after trimming the cards down, if it was a little rough on the edges using a very fine sandpaper (600 grit) made it nice and smooth for a professional look.

I am very happy with how the cards came out and hope that our friends and family have enjoyed receiving them this year. It was definitely worth some blue ink stained fingers.

If you are interested you can check out some more of my handmade holiday cards here and here.


Gold Foil Holiday Cards with Hand Drawn Evergreens

Nothing says holiday like a little sparkle so this year I decided to design my holiday cards using black cardstock and gold foil. For an extra touch I also added some evergreen branches that I drew with colored pencils.

To apply the foil design I used my Heidi Swapp Minc Foil Applicator. I started by making designing my card with scattered small dots across the left and my holiday greeting in the lower right corner. I made my cards 5"x7" and fit two on a page. I then printed my card using my laser printer onto black cardstock. The Minc reacts to the toner of laser printing so it won't work with an ink jet printer but you can always bring your print to a copy store to make laser printed copies.

Next I drew my evergreen branches using colored pencils. I started by using brown to draw some branches along the side of the card. I then used light colored green to add pine needles and then added a little shading with a slightly darker colored green.

When I was experimenting with making the cards I tried drawing the evergreens first and then laser printing the design but I found I had much better results when I did the laser printing first.

With the evergreens drawn I placed my cardstock into my Minc transfer folder, layered some gold reactive foil on top, and fed it into my Minc using a setting of 3.

About a minute later it was done and I could peel back the foil to see the gold design where I the laser print had been.

 After I trimmed down my cards to size they were complete.

To send off my cards I used black A7 envelopes I purchased at my local stationary shop, Rock Paper Scissors. As an aside, if you are ever in Ann Arbor you should definitely stop to visit it as well as its sister store, Bed & Butter, which is an amazing shop to pick up things for your home. To match the gold foil on the cards I addressed the envelopes with a gold metallic Sharpie.

I really like how the cards turned out. The gold foil is festive and the hand drawn evergreens are a personal touch and make each card unique. Now I'm off to the post office to drop them in the mail...


Merry Belated Christmas!

Merry belated Christmas! Frank and I had a great Christmas spending Christmas Eve at his sister's home and heading to his parents' on Christmas Day. We ate too much delicious food and had fun hanging out.

I've been busy the last week working on finishing making my Christmas gifts so I thought I would belatedly share our home's Christmas decorations. Frank and I didn't host anything but I still love to dress up the house a bit for the holidays.

Except for some new ornaments for the tree all of the decorations were things that I already had on hand or made previous years for Christmas. We got a noble fir from a local tree farm and set it up in the corner of our living room. We decorated it with silver and teal glass balls that I already had with a new collection of glass ornaments that we started this year representing places we've visited along with our hobbies and interests.

A few years ago I made some teal and white throw pillow covers for Christmas that I put out again this year. My favorite one is the corduroy one with the felt snowflakes on it.

I couldn't resist adding a little bit of holiday fun on our TV stand with some extra glass balls and a star.

I added some more glass balls in a wooden dish that I got in Honduras on our coffee table. I made the teal and white runner a few years ago and have matching ones on the dining table and buffet as well.

On the dining table I cut out teal felt circles to top candlesticks I had from IKEA for perches for silver spray painted pinecones. In between the candlesticks I placed goblets I found thrifting which I filled with more glass ball ornaments.

On the buffet I filled two glass jars, one with mini pine cones and the other with glass balls, and put some white bottle brush trees under a cloche behind them.

Because I already had everything on hand it didn't take me long to decorate and it was worth it to having everything look festive for Frank and I to enjoy for our first Christmas married.

How was your Christmas? Did you have a nice day with family or friends?


2013 Holiday Cards

I am finally starting to get some of my holiday cards in the mail today. This is the first holiday for Frank and me to send a card together since it is our first Christmas married and I had a lot of fun making these cards for our friends and family.

To make the card I started with some blank cards that I had found a while back that had two folds with a cut out at the top. Since I have friends from a variety of religions I decided to make the card saying "Wishing you joy this season."

I thought it would be cute to have the "joy" pop out from the back of the card through the opening so I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out circles with the word "joy" from red textured cardstock . I attached the circles to the center of the opening with some foam tape so they stood off from the card 1/8".

I added the rest of the words using my Silhouette Cameo to cut "wishing you" and "this season" from black vinyl and used transfer paper to add them just above and below the circle on the innermost part of the card. To make it all stand out I used some white polka dotted black washi tape to frame around the opening on second page of the card. 

I like how the card turned out. It was simple enough that I could make a bunch of them in a day (thank goodness I am on vacation this week!) but they are unique for Frank and I to send to the special people in our life.

Happy Holidays!


My Japanese Christmas Tree Decorated with Orizuru (Paper Cranes)

When I was living in Japan I was set on having a small Christmas tree for my apartment. Most Japanese people are not Christians but due to Western influences some Christmas customs like exchanging presents, particularly between couples on Christmas Eve, have become popular. As a result I was able to find myself a little table top tree with all the trimmings after hunting around for a bit. I found my little set-up at Nittori, which is home goods store kind of like a Japanese version of Ikea. My options were quite limited since the trees were sold as a package set including the lights and decorations, but at least I had a small Christmas tree plus it was a great deal at only ¥999 (about $10 US) for everything.

After taking the tree home and setting it up in the corner of my living room I thought it looked a little plain with just the silver balls and lights since I wasn't so keen on the red bows and garland that also came with my set. After thinking for a bit I decided to make some paper cranes to add to the tree's decorations. Orizuru (折鶴, folded crane) is a classic origami design and the paper cranes are symbols of peace, good fortune and good health among other things. It seemed like the perfect fit for my Christmas tree.

I pulled out a few sheets of red origami paper as well as some special red foil paper that I had and made about a dozen cranes to grace my Christmas tree. I nestled them in the boughs and loved the way they looked incorporating a bit of the Japanese culture from where I was living with my personal tradition of having a Christmas tree. 

When I moved back to the US I didn't have unlimited space to ship things back so I got rid of my little Christmas tree but I did save the menagerie of orizuru that I had made for the tree. While my Japanese Christmas tree wasn't the largest or most beautiful of the trees that I have had over the years it is definitely one that has a special place in my heart.


Decorating the Front Porch for Christmas

Now that December is here I am starting to get into the Christmas spirit. I started my decorating this year with my front porch swapping out my summer accessories for more festive things. 

I swapped out my multi color rug for an inexpensive solid teal rug that matches the accent trim on my house. On my accent table I placed some greens in a metal pitcher from Ikea. In front I had a little red pail that I got from the Target One Spot that I filled with pine cones. I picked up several of the red star pails a few summers back and love how versatile and festive they look.

I swapped out my pink pillows for red outdoor pillows layered with small burlap snowflake pillows I found at Target.

Just to the right of my front door I put a small Christmas tree in the planter I built this past summer along with an outdoor lantern that I used in the backyard this past summer.

It only took a few minutes but it makes me so happy and puts me in the Christmas mood when I walk up to my front door.

This weekend Frank and I are going to get a Christmas tree and hang Christmas lights on the house and I can't wait. Have you started any holiday decorating this year? 


Merry Belated Christmas!

Merry Belated Christmas! I hope everyone has been having as lovely of a holiday as I have had. It is quite a winter wonderland here right now which makes it seem quite festive. It is so pretty that it almost makes it worth the cold. Almost.

Christmas Eve Frank and I went over to his sister's house and we had a wonderful dinner and exchanged gifts. There is really nothing more fun than giving people something that they would enjoy and I was so happy that Frank's nieces liked their gifts. Not having my own munchkins I had so much fun thinking up what to make them and their smiling faces really melt your heart.

On Christmas Day we went over to Frank's mom's house for dinner. Frank's sister prepared a wonderful meal and Frank smoked some salmon for a tasty appetizer. I contributed dessert with some egg nog custard in individual glasses topped with whipped cream and nutmeg and a Bûche de Noël made with a chocolate genoise cake and chocolate-coffee buttercream icing.

I also made some chocolate cupcakes and decorated them together with Frank's middle niece using the cake decorating kit that I gave her for Christmas. I made some buttercream icing in advance and then showed her how to mix the icing colors and fill the decorating bags. She enjoyed experimenting with the different decorating tips and making different designs on each of the cupcakes. I gave her a little advice on what tips might work best for the look she was trying to achieve and showed her how to hold the bags, but the rest was all her. It was so much fun and reminded me of when I was little and my grandma showed me the basics of cake decorating. Anyway, I may be biased, but I think Frank's niece is quite a talented little lady and her cupcakes look fabulous. If this is what she can do at 10 years old I can't imagine what she will do when she is grown up! 

I also had a great time with Frank's oldest niece with the earring making kit that I put together for her as a companion gift to the triptych jewelry stand I made her. She is 13 and I loved making my own earrings when I was her age so I thought she might like it, too. I showed her how to use the tools and she was off and running picking out bead combinations and making all sorts of earrings. She was quite productive and they all turned out really cute. We had a great time and I think she could be a budding jewelry designer! 

The day after Christmas I got to spend with my sister, her boyfriend and Frank. Living so far apart it is always so wonderful when we get to spend time together. We had a chill day running errands in the morning (she is in the process of moving from the Caribbean to the West Coast) and then just relaxing in the afternoon. We also had quite a snow storm and what was a light dusting of snow on the ground for Christmas turned into several inches of accumulation in a matter of hours. My sister was quite enamored with the snow since it has been six years since she has lived in the Midwest and seen much of any.

It was a such a nice visit, albeit way too short, and I am looking forward to visiting her in her new home once she is settled a bit. She is a pretty darn awesome person and I wouldn't trade her for the world. Well, except maybe when she decided to tell Frank this morning over breakfast the story about how I hit our house with my dad's car when I was 16. In my defense it was actually the back porch, it was only a light tap and there were some extenuating circumstances. However, I don't think that any of this was heard over their loud laughter.

How was your Christmas? Did you have a nice few days spending time with special people like I did? Did you get any snow or are you in a warmer clime?


Picture of the Day: CN Tower Illuminated for Christmas




















Toronto, Canada


Holiday Decorations in Toronto

Frank and I arrived back from our short trip to Toronto last night. Due to me not feeling well and being out of town a lot I didn't do much decorating in my home this year for the holidays but I thought I would share a few pictures of the decorations in Toronto that inspired me.

The first thing that you notice wandering around town is the way that all of the outdoor planters are done up for the holidays. The basic theme was to have tall birch logs in the center of the planter for height with an arrangement of greens around the base. I saw tons of variations on this with curly willow, magnolia leaves, seed pods, pinecones and ornaments included in the mix. They were all really pretty and looked quite festive.

My favorite variation that I saw was swapping out the birch logs for bamboo painted a bright, cheery red color. It was so striking to look at.

Moving indoors, I thought that this line-up of Christmas trees each decorated in its own color scheme was really fun and pretty.

Our hotel lobby was beautiful with all of the decorations done in white and silver to complement the dusky blue color scheme of the furniture.

The part I loved best were the flower arrangements.  They had huge bouquets of white football mums in glass vases with a few silver pinecones tucked in to make it festive. It was so simple yet so elegant and beautiful.

Have you been inspired by any decorations that you have seen this year? Do you do any decorating around your home for the holidays?