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No Ugly Ornament 2014 Wrap-Up

No, I’m not on holiday yet! Like many of you, in the minutes I’m not rushing around, finishing DIY gifts, school work, recitals, scouting parties, baking, and roller derby (What, am I the only one with scrimmages on their calendar?), I’m attempting to keep all the mundane day to day things going. Thankfully I have finished the majority of my shopping but I still need to wrap up that closet worth of gifts.

When it comes time for the gift wrapping my crunchy side comes out, if I can’t wrap it up in cloth I reach for the packing paper I’ve saved up over the year. The only problem is that while plain craft paper has a simple chic-ness about it, it still needs a little pick-me-up! Ornaments are great at doing double duty in this department; they dress up your presents and make great keepsakes for those you are gifting.

Below are ornaments from this year’s NOU Challenge, all of which will look just as lovely under the tree as they do on it!

  1. Wire Ribbon Ornaments
  2. 3D Paper Ornaments
  3. Christmas Vacation Ornament
  4. CRAFT FAIL: Ballerina Silhouette Pick
  5. Ballerina Slipper Ornament
  6. Clothespin Ballerina Ornament
  7. Wood Bead Ornaments
  8. Rolled Magazine Ornaments
  9. Painted Feather Ornaments
  10. Glittered Leaf Ornaments
  11. Pipe Cleaner Elves

Erin Sipes
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Craftastic TV: Felt, Ribbon, Button Toy

Fine motor skills, shapes, colors, patterns, this simple DIY toy is an awesome learning tool and better yet it’s an gift idea easy enough for the kids to put together! Head on over to Craftastic TV and see how I put it together or go straight to the YouTube video!

I mention it in the video and in the description but I really can’t say it enough. Unlike the ribbon snake projects you see on other blogs I’m recommending that you weave the ribbon through the buttons rather than sewing the buttons to the ribbon. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a couple kids who never outgrew putting things like buttons in their mouths, but I try to avoid potential choking hazards whenever and wherever I can. If you’re worried that little hands might get tangled up in the doubled ribbon just tie knots along it. The felt should be able to get over the knots and little fingers won’t get hurt.

Erin Sipes
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Want–Need–Wear–Read Printable Gift Tags

Every holiday season we’re reminded of our gross consumerism and while I’m not the kind of parent to ban Christmas gifts (don’t get me started on those types) I do think it’s important to put limits on the number of presents my kids receive. I’d rather give them gifts such as dance lessons throughout the year. I want my kids to enjoy visiting family for the sake of keeping in touch NOT for the gifts they will be given. Plus, I don’t like the mess. The packaging alone makes me have an anxiety attack, so much trash!

For a few years now we’ve been focusing on ONE bigger gift, not from Santa by the way-I never understood why he gets all the glory, let your kids know that YOU worked to be able to afford what gets put under the tree-he just stuffs the stockings in our house. Anyway, I should say we try to focus on one gift but as the day grows closer I’d end up picking up more and more so this year we’re giving the Want – Need – Wear – Read concept a try.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, gifts are limited to something you want, something you need, something to wear, and finally, something to read. I have to say, I wish we’d started this sooner. Christmas lists this year were much more thoughtful, it wasn’t a bunch of toys that would find their way to Goodwill within a couple months. Thinking about the things they needed spilled over into the way they thought about everything.

Science kits that would normally be a homeschooling expense were listed as wants, electric toothbrushes (don’t ask) were listed as needs, and for the wear category, they included new bags for sparring gear and dance shoes, again things that would be normal expenses associated with their extracurricular activities. This has made it much more friendly on our pocketbook and easier for me NOT to overspend!

Below is a free printable of want, need, wear, and read tags you can print or download for yourself. 

I’ll be sharing gift wrapping ideas, including how to use these tags, next week! 



Erin Sipes
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31 Breakfast Meals

Recipe Round-ups are becoming the church cookbooks of our generation! It’s a chance for blogging friends to get together and share their favorite recipes with each other and our readers. Hope you enjoy what we’ve cooked up!

The holidays are one of the few times of the year when entertaining happens in the morning as much as it does in the evening, whether you’re feeding visiting family and friends, hosting a mid-morning brunch, or simply indulging kids home on winter break. Here are over 30 breakfast meals to give a try!
Erin Sipes
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Over 40 Christmas Cookie Exchange Recipes

When it’s time for dessert we all have our weaknesses, for me it’s cookies! Crunchy or soft, chewy or crumbly, chocolate dipped or fruit filled, I love them all! A great way to sample a variety of recipes and share your favorite is during a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party.
Today I’m so very excited to be taking part in a virtual exchange featuring over 40 cookies recipes from some of my blogging friends. I hope you find a new favorite in the bunch, ahem, I’m partial to the Cranberry Almond Shortbread Bites.
So much yumminess, I can’t wait to give some of these a try!
Be sure to follow along on the Cookie Exchange Pinterest board for year round cookie recipe inspirations!
cookie exchange 4 

cookies 1 Andes Mint Cookies Double Chocolate Mint MnM Cookies Hot Cocoa Cookies

cookies 1

cookies 2

Image Map
Erin Sipes
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Cranberry Almond Shortbread Bites

Shortbread is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated cookies. It really has a lot going for it, rich buttery taste, crumbly sweet texture, and unmatched versatility. You can add nearly anything to the dough to create one of a kind flavors such as this Cranberry Almond recipe.

These bite-size cookies are perfect for wrapping up as a gift, serving at a party, or snacking. Plus the recipe is easy enough for kids to make! Hope you enjoy them! 

  • 1/2 cup of cold butter cut into pieces (I would not recommend making this with margarine.)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 almond flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries-finely chopped


Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and cut together with a pastry cutter. Perfect work for little hands!

Cuttingthedough #cookies #recipes #shortbread #cookieexchange
Once the dough passes a pinch test (Grab a pinch-if it sticks together it’s ready.) knead until all the crumbs are combined.

Pinchtest  #cookies #recipes #shortbread #cookieexchange
Form into four four-inch balls, flatten into circles and cut with a dough scraper into wedges. Leave the wedges together!

Scoredandreadytobake  #cookies #recipes #shortbread #cookieexchange
You don’t have to form the dough into four balls you can also make just one, I happen to like lots of crunchy edges and the smaller bites also make it easier to pack if you’re going to be giving them as a gift!

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 325-degree oven for 25-30 minutes until the edges are golden. Once removed from the oven re-cut the wedges and let it all cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

This recipe is part of the Christmas Cookie Exchange Party, be sure to check it out for over 40 treats for you to try!

Erin Sipes
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DIY Gift Idea: Embroidery Floss Washer Earrings

Making jewelry has always intimidated me, thankfully these earrings can be put together in a pinch and make for a perfect gift, Just think of the possibilities, you could use school colors, give it a holiday theme, go ombre, or keep it simple and go all black! 

These earrings have become my newest crafting obsession! I want to make a pair for me, my daughter, my sister, etc.. I tried out a couple different methods and because a picture sometimes explains it better than my words can the following tutorial is, um, very visual.

This was the first technique is below, it creates a looser earrings meaning the washers twist easily.

Technique two, below, created a much tighter earring, the washers barely moved. However, it was hard to cover the connections. While I preferred technique one my daughter liked the second better, go figure.

Whichever technique you chose when it comes time to connect the actual earring all I did was tie it on. Just be sure that if your earring has a ‘back’ side you tie the earring on so that it will hang correctly.

I can’t wait to make more of these as Christmas gifts! I’m thinking we might also have to make a necklace or two!


Erin Sipes
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Pipe Cleaner Elf Ornaments

Hmm, these look suspiciously like those elves everyone sits on their shelves…

Let me explain, growing up there were two ornaments on my grandparent's tree that always grabbed my attention. One was an umbrella (yep, tried unsuccessfully to make one like it – maybe next year) and the other was a kind of elf with long bendable legs and arms.

After finishing the elf and realizing I’d created exactly what I wanted to – one the first try no less – I was sitting at the table, completely full of myself, when my son walked by and said, “Cool, you made Gladys some friends.” Gladys is our Elf on the Shelf. Crud…that’s when I realized I had indeed made a rather crafty, DIY-ish version of that sometimes loved, sometimes despised elf.

Similarities aside, I’m still so happy with these guys and THEY ARE intended to be ornaments you can pose on your tree branches, I swear! Here’s how you can make your own!

Erin Sipes
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Glittered Leaf Ornaments

Remember last week when I kept going on and on about nature themed décor and altering natural elements? Yeah, I’m at it again.

Earlier this fall I picked up a package of flat leaves at the Dollar Store thinking they’d be perfect for crafting – and they are, but I didn’t think the first project I’d be sharing with you would be a Christmas ornament!

Erin Sipes
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Painted Feather Ornaments

Paint dipped feathers are being used in home décor everywhere you turn these days so why not turn this trend into an ornament? 

I’ve been loving the minimalist look lately and one of the decorating elements it uses is altered nature pieces, think painted branches, faux animal trophy, yarn-bombed rocks, and of course feathers. Most of the feathers I’ve seen are dipped and/or painted using gold paint, which I will show in the video though it’s hard to see because of the brightness issue (sorry). To give the project a holiday feel I also used red and green paints to decorate the feathers. While I used a simple Christmas ornament hook for hanging you could also use a colored wire (find it at your local dollar store) to keep with the festive feel!

Erin Sipes
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Rolled Magazine Ornaments

Rolled magazine pages are a classic recycled crafting resource, there’s just so much you can do with them! After you’ve rolled up a page or two it only takes a few minutes to glue them together and create unique ornaments like these! In fact since it took me less than 15 minutes to put these two together they’re the perfect Craft Lightning – Holiday Edition Series project!

Supplies Needed:
  • Magazines
  • Paper cutter or scissors
  • hot glue
  • tape runner
  • ribbon


First up, cut a couple magazine pages into two inch wide strips.

Cuttingpaper #CraftLightning #NUO2014 #Ornaments #recycledcrafts #hotgluecrafts
Next up fold and/or roll the strips so that instead of being two inches wide, they’re barely half an inch. Below I’m using the tape runner to hold the folds together, it’ll make things easier down the road.

foldingandtaping #CraftLightning #NUO2014 #Ornaments #recycledcrafts #hotgluecrafts
Once you’re strips are all folded up you can roll them them into circles and/or create Vs like the one below.

foldedmags #CraftLightning #NUO2014 #Ornaments #recycledcrafts #hotgluecrafts
Now, using your hot glue gun, start putting them together in whatever pattern you fancy.

gluecirclestogether #CraftLightning #NUO2014 #Ornaments #recycledcrafts #hotgluecrafts
A word of caution, these pieces can get heavy if you put too many together, resister the urge to go BIG!

Puttingitalltogether #CraftLightning #NUO2014 #Ornaments #recycledcrafts #hotgluecrafts
Once you’re done creating your design simply glue the ribbon to the back. Now you’re ready to hang in on the tree or use it to decorate a gift!

glueingonribbon #CraftLightning #NUO2014 #Ornaments #recycledcrafts #hotgluecrafts

Don’t forget to visit Angie at The Country Chic Cottage and Carolina at 30 Minute Crafts all week long for the 2014 Craft Lightning Holiday Edition!

Erin Sipes
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Wood Bead Ornaments

Another week, another ornament! I have to tell you, every time I start this challenge I think I’m going to run out of ideas or get tired of ornaments but I NEVER DO! All it takes is an afternoon of tinkering and I’m overwhelmed with inspiration. 

I have to admit, before I started this year’s challenge I scoured home décor sites reading up on forecasted trends and (here’s a shocker) for the most part is was the same old thing we see every year. I mean let’s face it, Christmas is classic and there aren’t many ‘looks’ that haven’t been done. That said there was something that caught my eye.

For the longest time the country look was, well…dated. Thankfully that is no longer the case, today’s country is more like a hipster folk song than a bedazzled country ballad. Natural elements are being introduced into home décor in unusual and quirky ways that are simply fun and chic!

These wood bead ornaments fit right into this new ‘country’ look! Here’s a video showing how they were made.


Erin Sipes
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