Tuesday, January 8, 2013


   This diy comes from /lifeartcollide.blogspot.com .  Here is another great project you can make for this Halloween holiday or for next.  These are really cool.

Glittered Witch Shoe Candy Dishes

How about a pair of witch shoe candy dishes! These are going to look fantastic on the treat tables filled with goodies. A few alterations to a pair of ordinary shoes, a bottle of glitter and these are yours. I dare you not to try to put them on!

Start with a pair of shoes that have a bit of a witch look to them to begin with, pointy toes, high instep and thin heal. **Don't worry by the time you have finished these shoes they will have been papered over, painted and glittered banishing all traces of the ghosts who once wore them!

 Use a bit of foil to shape the toe, hold it in place with masking tape. Cut shapes for the front and back from cereal box board, attach them with a glue gun. Fill the toes with scrunched pages from the phone book, tape into place with masking tape. Filling the toes with paper will strengthen the shoes.


 Using a mixture of 1/3 water to 2/3 white glue (I use Weldbond) glue small strips of phone book paper to the shoe covering the entire surface. Allow this layer to dry then do another for added strength. Just a note, phone book paper is much thinner than newspaper and will result in a finer surface.

When the paper and glue are completely dry use a fine grade sand paper to smooth out bumps and lumps.

Apply a coat of black acrylic paint to the shoe, I use the paint at full strength. Allow to dry.

With an old paint brush and white glue straight from the bottle paint a layer of glue onto the shoe (not the inside or bottoms) working in sections. You will know if you have enough glue when you can't see the black peeking through. Don't let the glue begin to dry out. Use a spoon to sprinkle with black glitter.  Press the glitter lightly into place with the back of the spoon. Keep working in this fashion until the shoe is covered. Leave to dry.

Cut straps and buckles from cereal box board, paint and glitter in the same fashion as the shoe. Paint the buckle with a color as close to the glitter color as possible, this will give it extra pop. Attach the straps with pins dipped in white glue when the pins have dried touch up the pin head with a black marker, it will disappear. Alternately, if the sole of the shoe won't allow you to force pins into it, attach the strap using wire running from the holes in the strap under and across the bottom of the shoe forming a tight sling. 

Apply water base varnish to the inside of the shoe. Let dry. Decorate with these jazzy little glittered spiders (Michat store). Fill the shoe with wrapped candy otherwise the stray bits of glittered might attach themselves to the treats. Enjoy!


   Christmas songs and Christmas carols are an incredibly important part of Christmas. But when the season hits it is easy to become tired of the same old songs. This list is going to change that. I am using the term “alternative” simply to describe songs outside what you normally hear, rather than as a definitive genre of music. So, if you enjoy Christmas but are over listening to the same tunes, here are some others to check out.

A Bizarre Christmas Incident
Ben Folds Five

   I stumbled across a video of this song on the internet and have been unable to track down when it was recorded or what album it is on (if any). What I can tell you is that it is a wonderful song and exactly what you would expect from Ben Folds Five. A delightful yet chaotic pop tune filled with frivolity. The song tells the story of an unfortunate and lesser known incident in Christmas history when Santa got his “fat arse stuck” down the chimney.

Dance ‘Till We’re High
The Fireman

   The Firemen are a two man band featuring Paul McCartney and Youth from Killer Joke. Their recent album, released two years ago, was received with universal acclaim. This particular song was the third single released from that album. There are some doubts about whether or not this is a true Christmas song. However, with lyrics about “winter coming”, “snow falling”, “bells ringing out” and a real uplifting joyous tune, it’s close enough . Plus it’s allot better than Wonderful Christmastime.

Santa Claus
Bob Dylan

   Unfortunately Bob Dylan’s record company won’t allow his songs to be embedded via you tube, so here is a link to listen to it. The clip above is Dylan reciting The Night Before Christmas. Bob Dylan left those “serious” music critics baffled and nervous last year when he announced that he was working on a Christmas album. Music buffs were horrified; after all protest songs, autobiographical songs, open ended lyrics and bluesy rootsy music is considered “cool”. Christmas songs on the other hand are “uncool” unless done by an ex-Beatle with an anti-war message attached at the end. The reality is that Dylan, for the last two decades, has been making great music, with the main inspiration being traditional songs that have been passed on through generations; this is just another example of his love of such music.

My First Xmas (As a Woman)
The Vandals

   Without doubt the only Christmas song that contains the lyrics “Chop it off! Chop it off! Chop it off! My penis, chop it off”.

Baby Please Come Home
Death Cab for Cutie

   Death Cab for Cutie have been darlings of the indie scene for some time now. They were asked to submit a recording for the 2004 compilation album “Maybe This Christmas Tree”. Their decision to play it straight with respect to the original, results in a delightful tune which is beautifully sung. I think you will agree the vocals on this track are top notch.

5. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Jack Johnson

   I am not a huge Jack Johnson fan, however this song suits his trademark acoustic twang. A very relaxed and laid back version of the Christmas classic, featuring an additional verse questioning if Rudolph should have been so quick to forgive the other reindeers, after all those many years of taunting.

Carol of the Bells
The Bird and the Bee

   The Bird and the Bee play a progressive and diverse mix of jazz influenced electronic music. They have taken a Christmas song, originally composed in 1916 for a classical choral group and transformed it into a great piece of psychedelic pop.

Silver Bells
The Bright Eyes

The Bright Eyes stepped into the studio in 2002 to record a charming thirty-five minute Christmas album with all proceeds going to the Nebraska AIDS Project. The album stuck to well known Christmas songs and traditional carols. The songs are full of great arrangements and a strong sound. The vocals of The Bright Eyes seem to be perfectly suited to a song like this.

Get Behind Santa
Sufjan Stevens

   From 2001 to 2006, Sufjan Stevens recorded five separate Christmas EP's. Featuring a mix of traditional carols, instrumentals and original compositions, these EP's were originally only intended as gifts for friends and family. In 2006, he bundled the five EP's together and released them as a full length album. This particular song has all the traits that make Sufjan so popular, including great hooks, fun lyrics and a superb melody.

White Wine in The Sun
Tim Minchin

   Tim Minchin is an Australian comedian, however in this song he takes a more serious and sentimental tone. Some may object to the idea of an atheist Christmas song; in particular lyrics such as “I would rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu”. However in the end, its hard to argue against the message of the song. Despite not being religious, despite acknowledging the over-commercialization of Christmas, he still loves Christmas because it gives him a chance to get the family together. Being an Australian myself, I fully understand the joys of spending Christmas drinking “white wine in the sun”.

Coventry Carol

This bonus item is less a bonus as it is an alternative from the alternatives. The coventry carol is a beautiful Christmas carol dating from the 16th century which is not as well known as it should be. It describes the massacre of the innocents part of the Christmas narrative in which Herod orders the murder of all boys two and under. The carol is the lullaby sung by a mother who laments the impending murder of her son. It is my second favorite carol of all time (with the first being O Holy Night) and you should definitely add it to your list of songs to play this Christmas. Merry Christmas one and all! [JFrater]



    Christmas celebrations in Puritan New England (1620–1850?) were culturally and legally suppressed and thus, virtually non-existent. The Puritan community found no Scriptural justification for celebrating Christmas, and associated such celebrations with paganism and idolatry. The earliest years of the Plymouth colony were troubled with non-Puritans attempting to make merry, and Governor William Bradford was forced to reprimand offenders. English laws suppressing the holiday were enacted in the Interregnum, but repealed late in the 17th century. However, the Puritan view of Christmas and its celebration had gained cultural ascendancy in New England, and Christmas celebrations continued to be discouraged despite being legal. When Christmas became a Federal holiday in 1870, the Puritan view was relaxed and late nineteenth century Americans fashioned the day into the Christmas of commercialism, liberal spirituality, and nostalgia that most Americans recognize today.

The Puritan view of Christmas

    In Puritans at Play (1995), Bruce Colin Daniels writes "Christmas occupied a special place in the ideological religious warfare of Reformation Europe." Most Anabaptists, Quakers, Congregational and Presbyterian Puritans, he observes, regarded the day as an abomination while Anglicans, Lutherans, the Dutch Reformed and other denominations celebrated the day as did Roman Catholics. When the Church of England promoted the Feast of the Nativity as a major religious holiday, the Puritans attacked it as "residual Papist idolatry".
    Puritans heaped contempt on Christmas, Daniels writes, calling it 'Foolstide' and suppressing any attempts to celebrate it for several reasons. First, no holy days except the Sabbath were sanctioned in Scripture, second, the most egregious behaviors were exercised in its celebration (Cotton Mather railed against these behaviors), and third, December 25 was ahistorical. The Puritan argued that the selection of the date was an early Christian hijacking of a Roman festival, and to celebrate a December Christmas was to defile oneself by paying homage to a pagan custom. James Howard Barnett notes in The American Christmas (1984) that the Puritan view prevailed in New England for almost two centuries.


    Stephen Innes in Creating the Commonwealth (1995) writes that the Puritan calendar was one of the most leisure-less ever adopted by mankind with approximately 300 working days compared to the 240 typical of cultures from Ancient Rome to modern America. Days of rest in the New England calendar were few, Innes writes, and restricted to Sabbath, election day, Harvard commencement day, and periodic days of thanksgiving and humiliation. Non-Puritans in New England deplored the loss of the holidays enjoyed by the laboring classes in England.

Christmas in Puritan New England

    The Plymouth Pilgrims put their loathing for the day into practice in 1620 when they spent their first Christmas Day in the New World building their first structure in the New World – thus demonstrating their complete contempt for the day.
   A year later on December 25, 1621, Governor William Bradford led a work detail into the forest and discovered some recent arrivals among the crew had scruples about working on the day. Bradford noted in his history of the colony, Of Plymouth Plantation:

"On the day called Christmas Day, the Governor called [the settlers] out to work as was usual. However, the most of this new company excused themselves and said it went against their consciences to work on that day. So the Governor told them that if they made it [a] matter of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed; so he led away the rest and left them."
   When the Governor and his crew returned home at noon they discovered those left behind playing stool-ball, pitching the bar, and pursuing other sports. Bradford confiscated their implements, reprimanded them, forbade any further reveling in the streets, and told them their devotion for the day should be confined to their homes.
Massachusetts and Connecticut followed the Plymouth colony in refusing to condone any observance of the day. When the Puritans came to power in England following the

File:Cotton Mather.jpg
Cotton Mather

execution of King Charles I, Parliament enacted a law in 1647 abolishing the observance of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide. The Puritans of New England then passed a series of laws making any observance of Christmas illegal. A Massachusetts law of 1659 punished offenders with a hefty five shilling fine.


    Laws suppressing the celebration of Christmas were repealed in 1681, but staunch Puritans continued to regard the day as an abomination. Eighteenth century New Englanders viewed Christmas as the representation of royal officialdom, external interference in local affairs, dissolute behavior, and an impediment to their holy mission.
    During Anglican Governor Sir Edmund Andros tenure (December 20, 1686 – April 18, 1689), for example, the royal government closed Boston shops on Christmas Day and drove the schoolmaster out of town for a forced holiday. Following Andros' overthrow, however, the Puritan view reasserted itself and shops remained open for business as usual on Christmas with goods such as hay and wood being brought into Boston as on any other work day.

The examination and trial of Father Christmas (1686)

   With such an onus placed upon Christmas, non-Puritans in colonial New England made no attempt to celebrate the day. Many spent the day quietly at home. In 1771, Anna Winslow, an American schoolgirl visiting Boston noted in her diary, "I kept Christmas at home this year, and did a good day's work."
    Although Christmas celebrations were legal after 1680, New England officials continued to frown upon gift giving and reveling. Evergreen decoration, associated with pagan custom, was expressly forbidden in Puritan meeting houses and discouraged in the New England home. Merrymakers were prosecuted for disturbing the peace. The Puritan view was tenacious. As late as 1870, classes were scheduled in Boston public schools on Christmas Day and punishments were doled out to children who chose to stay home beneath the Christmas tree. One commentator hinted that the Puritans viewed Santa Claus as the Anti-Christ.
    In the aftermath of the American Civil War, Christmas became the festival highpoint of the American calendar. The day became a Federal holiday in 1870 under President Ulysses S. Grant in an attempt to unite north and south. The Puritan hostility to Christmas was gradually relaxed. In the late nineteenth century, authors praised the holiday for its liberality, family togetherness, and joyful observance. In 1887, for example, St. Nicholas Magazine published a story about a sickly Puritan boy of 1635 being restored to health when his mother brings him a bough of Christmas greenery.
One commentator suggested the Puritans had actually done the day a service in reviling the gaming, dissipation, and sporting in its observation. When the day's less pleasant associations were stripped away, Americans recreated the day according to their tastes and times. The doctrines that caused the Puritans to regard the day with disapprobation were modified and the day was rescued from its traditional excesses of behavior. Christmas was reshaped in late nineteenth century America with liberal Protestantism and spirituality, commercialism, artisanship, nostalgia, and hope becoming the day's distinguishing characteristics.


  Found this on www.notmartha.org .  These little houses have so many uses and can be given away as gifts or made for that  next Christmas party. Happy holidays!!

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

I made tiny gingerbread houses that are meant to be perched on the edge of a mug of hot chocolate.

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

I had been thinking about those sugar cubes that hook on the rim of a teacup earlier this month, and I was also thinking about 3-D cookies and how they fit together and figured it would be pretty neat to make cookies that hang on the edge of a mug. I thought I was being so brilliant but it only took a few seconds to discover that a flat cookie on the edge of a mug has already been done. So I started wondering what else I could do. At the time I was making a bunch of gingerbread recipes trying to find one that would hold up for my partridge in a pear tree cookie, so a gingerbread house was on my mind.

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

I made a few versions to figure out how to make one that wasn’t so top heavy that it would flip off the mug, and how small I could get away with and still fit on both large and small cups. I generally followed the size of my The Mini Gingerbread House Kit (though, those pieces don’t fit together as nicely as I’d have liked).

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

I’ve made a PDF pattern of gingerbread house pieces which you can open or download right here. My only instruction is that you should make sure that the wall pieces are to be sandwiched on the inside of the door pieces, that way the roof fits on properly. I included two door pieces you can choose from, one at 3/8ths inch wide and one at 1/2 inch wide. I found that a 3/8ths inch door, or slot, fits most mugs but the 1/2 can be used for your really big and heavy mugs. I traced the pieces onto this template page at 9:54 in the evening, please forgive the sloppiness but I’m getting tired, let’s just call the untidy lines charming.

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

I used the Gingerbread Snowflake and the Royal Icing recipes from marthastewart.com.

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

I rolled it out onto a sheet of tin foil at 1/8th inch thick. I skipped a silicone mat because I use a paring knife for the corner details and didn’t want to accidentally cut down to the layers of glass fibers, and after some trial I found that parchment paper will warp after being chilled and then stuck in an oven which can distort some shapes.

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

I used a dull sewing pattern roller (like a small pizza cutter) to go around most sides. You can do all of one side than turn the entire sheet of tin foil 90 degrees to do all of the next side, this makes the process go a bit faster. Try to fit all the pieces for each individual house in the same batch, I found my batches browned differently from each other. Lift the excess dough up from the tin foil, not moving your cut out shapes at all, this will help them keep their shape. Then slide the tin foil sheet onto a cookie sheet and put both in the freezer for about 15 minutes, you want the dough really well chilled before baking.

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

I used a (well cleaned) flat head screwdriver to get in the detail around the doors, then a paring knife to make sure the corners are cut cleanly.
Here are some tips, most of these are in the recipe but I don’t want you to overlook them:
  • After making it divide the dough into thirds (I made half a recipe) wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Make the royal icing while it’s chilling, you’ll need it before you make all the gingerbread you are planning on.
  • Roll the dough out to 1/8th of an inch. It seems impossibly thin but you be cutting the shapes and pulling the excess dough from around them so your pieces won’t be too disturbed. Feel free to nudge your shapes back into squares before chilling them again.
  • Preheat the oven, roll the dough out on tin foil, cut your shapes and lift off the excess dough, slide the tin foil onto your cookie sheet, now put the cookie sheet into the freezer for at least 15 minutes before baking. This will keep the gingerbread from spreading too much.
  • Make a single test house with your chosen door width. This sounds like a pita, and it will be, but it will be far less trouble than the frustration of finding none of your finished houses fit on mugs. Knowing now that you need to cut a wider door is worth it.
  • I found that dough chilled for only an hour puffed up quite a bit, but didn’t necessarily spread if the cut out shapes were chilled in the freezer. Dough that had been in the fridge overnight, or even the second day (it’ll keep for a few days) puffed up quite a bit less, perhaps because the baking powder had lost it’s mojo by this time?
  • If you suspect your intended mugs are thicker and sturdier than usual grab some cardstock or a magazine insert and cut a few different slots — 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 inch wide, about two inches deep (or tall). The one that slides easily onto the edge of you mug and even has a little wiggle room is the width you want for your door.
  • If your gingerbread should spread and the doors look too narrow to you, you can trim them when the gingerbread is just out of the oven before it sets and cools too much. I suggest a paring knife and trimming just a bit from either side of the door.

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

I decided to only decorate the roofs for now. I might make these again next year and get more detailed with the decorations. I used a variety of sugars and sprinkles. One note, I discovered that candy cane dust will stick together so well that it will not show any piping detail beneath it. I liked the way regular sanding sugar made the roof sparkle a bit, though I couldn’t capture the cuteness in my pictures.

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

Don’t fill your mug of hot chocolate too full, you don’t want the bottom of your gingerbread house to get soggy.

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

Can you tell the crushed candy cane one was my favorite?
I would be these would be fantastic made out of sugar cookie or shortbread dough. You could certainly leave them undecorated, or perhaps press sanding sugar into the roof pieces before baking. On the other hand I’m curious to see what one would look like covered in pieces of tiny candies. I’m also planning on making house-shaped marshmallows that will fit on the edge of the mug.

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

update: I made a few variations including a chimney and a version made out of sugar cookie dough which you might be interested in.

a few variations on my tiny gingerbread houses