Celebrating the magic of Christmas with a Nutcracker embroidery

Art, Holiday

There is undeniably something magical about Christmas and the season that surrounds it. Sparkling snow, sweet treats, cheerful music and smiles on even the most sullen faces. Truly, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

One story I always found to capture Christmas magic in its own whimsical way is “The Nutcracker.” If you’re up to date with my holiday posts then you know I love incorporating these mystical wooden figures into my work this time of year, usually through drawings.

Last year, I decided to embark on a bigger undertaking: a nutcracker hand embroidery. Measuring nearly nine inches tall and having started the project in early December, I wasn’t able to complete the embroidery for last Christmas – there was a lot of baking and wrapping to be done, after all – and has been tucked away for the past year.

Having finally wrapped up most of my DIY gifts for the holidays (more to come on these later) I decided to pull this little German guy out this weekend and work to get him done for this Christmas.

Finally finished with this massive embroidery undertaking, I’m through the moon excited with how it turned out.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I can’t wait to display him my house for many Christmases to come! And who knows, maybe every year will be marked with a unique nutcracker piece – but only if I start the piece immediately following Halloween!

Advertisements

Christmas checklist: Inspiration for getting into the Christmas spirit

Holiday

With Christmas less than two weeks away, there’s no better time to inspire yourself and get into the holiday spirit! For everyone who may be feeling a little grinchy this Christmas, here are a few tips and ideas to help you channel your inner Buddy the Elf:

Stir up a Christmas cocktail

Nothing says happy holidays like a stiff, spiced drink! Click here to read more about my favorite Christmas cocktail.

img_3825

Turn up the tunes

Listening to Christmas music is a sure-fire way to inspire holiday joy. I love listening to it while I’m working on projects in the studio. Bing Crosby on repeat, please.

IMG_3776

Get your DIY on

Make a homemade ornament or gift! Words can’t describe how fullfilling it is to make something with your own two hands. And it only gets better when you give homemade goodies away to loved ones.

img_0052

During this time of year, I also love making wreaths. Check out my tutorial here!

IMG_3814.jpg

Turn the oven on and open the spice drawer!

Nothing makes me happier during the holidays than baking, especially cookies. This year my family started a new tradition: Christmas cookie baking day! Everyone brought two doughs with them and we spent the afternoon baking and sharing laughs over Christmas cocktails and record music.

Set up your own Christmas cookie baking day! Make up some gingerbread dough, invite your friends over and spend time cutting them out and decorating together. Pour some eggnog (or wine) and enjoy making memories.

img_3937

Practice gratitude

Get away from the commercialism by taking a moment to remind yourself of all you have to be grateful for – there is no better time than Christmas! This year I am especially grateful, celebrating my first married year with Andy, and in our new house none the less!

It truly is a wonderful life.

Only 12 days until Christmas!

Sketch, bake, carve: Reconnecting with my creative side post-wedding

Art, Baking, Holiday

This month has been crazy! Andy and I were married on Oct. 6 and departed immediately after for our honeymoon trip of a lifetime to Maui and Kauai.

It was magical and perfect, and we couldn’t have asked for a more memorable October.

While I’m sad to have these amazing life events behind me, I’m also, admittedly, relieved. For the first time in over a year and a half I finally have some free time!

This week I’ve been having fun using my free time to get back to being creative and get into the Halloween spirit.

Sketch

The first item on my creative agenda following our honeymoon was to get back to sketching. I’ve always been a “Hocus Pocus” fan and I definitely had the Sanderson sisters in mind when I was creating this pen & ink sketch:

Bake

I also decided to get creative with cookies. I’ve made cut-out cookies before, but decided this time to try something new and decorate them with royal icing — I’m all about trying new things!

The decorations came out far from perfect but they were a lot of fun to make. I would highly recommend this chocolate cutout cookie recipe, which tastes very similar to a chocolate sandwich cookie. Pair it with Alton Brown’s recipe for royal icing which comes out so shiny and beautiful (don’t use my application as basis for judgement!).

Carve

And, of course, no Halloween is complete without a Jack-o-Lantern. Andy and I carve pumpkins every Halloween and I have to say, I think his looks better than mine this year!

Note to self: Next year, remember to buy a carving kit. The chef’s knife just isn’t cutting it anymore!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

With Love On Valentine’s Day

Holiday

Like most young girls, I went through periods of romantic doubt when I was younger. I used to jokingly refer to “Somebody To Love” by Queen as my theme-song, dramatically stating that never would I, a self-proclaimed oddball, find my match.

Oh how I was wrong.

Today I’m celebrating my fifth Valentine’s day with the man I’ll soon call my husband. Our first and last V-day as an engaged couple.

On this day of universal love, I’m taking a moment to be grateful for the amazing person I’m choosing to spend the rest of my life with. Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate how truly lucky I am, knowing that I, the oddball, have found someone I can talk about hand embroidery projects with, who I can count on to watch every, single “Harry Potter” Freeform marathon with me, and who not only tolerates but encourages my very loud, very repetitive vocal +piano renditions of broadway musicals.

Yes, I am truly lucky.

Here’s to our last Valentine’s day as an engaged couple and to the many future holidays we’ll celebrate together as husband and wife.

Wishing everyone a beautiful day filled with love, peace and lots of chocolate.

Emily Engagement-72

Happy Holidays!

Holiday

Happy Holidays from the Perpetual Creator! I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas filled with peace and joy. Keep your holiday spirits high as we prepare for New Year’s Day this weekend and be on the lookout for some perfect holiday recipes!

Christmas with the Celts

Holiday, Inspiration, Review

To get into the holiday spirit, my family and I decided to attend a show brought to our local Arts Council: Christmas with the Celts.

FullSizeR (1).jpg

If given the opportunity, I would highly recommend attending this show, as it was a combination of lively energy, festive music and the perfect amount of Christmas that you are looking for during the holiday season!

View this post on Instagram

#Christmas with the #Celts! 👏🌲🍀🎻

A post shared by Emilee Smith (@emileejaysmith) on

 

The performance even incorporated local Irish step dancers during a handful of songs and a local elementary school chorus joined in during the group’s rendition of John Lennon’s “So This is Christmas.”

With the tickets only costing $31.00 per person, I’m was very happy with the quality of the show! Seriously, how can you listen to Celtic music and not be happy?

Here’s to checking off that Christmas season checklist! 

P.S. Only 7 days until Christmas!

Happy Halloween!

Festivity, Holiday

As I mentioned last Halloween, we don’t have children and don’t hand out candy, so typically, our Halloweens are pretty low-key. This year we stuck to the basics by carving jack-o-lanterns…

 

Watching “Hocus Pocus”…

And handing out candy and cake to our few trick-or-treaters, AKA: Andy’s younger siblings.

Though simple, we had a pleasant evening, enjoying candy and Halloween classics on TV. So whether you went all out with a party, costumes and haunted houses or stayed in for a low-key celebration, I hope that you all had a Happy Halloween!

Easter Bunny Cake

Food, Holiday

Out of all the shaped and festive cakes you could make for various holidays, this is probably the absolute easiest. I first tried making this Easter bunny cake last year and cannot stress how incredibly simple it was to make and assemble.

So if you are looking to create a simple (but adorable) holiday goody, you have come to the right place!

Cake:

While I chose to make a carrot cake (for obvious reasons) you can essentially use any cake with a spongy consistency. This means using a cake that is moist as opposed to crumbly so that it won’t fall apart when you cut it into shapes.

If you are a box-cake kind of person, that’s totally OK! Cakes made from baking mixes tend to be quite moist and should hold up when you are slicing into it.

Bake the cake in 2 nine-inch pans. Leave one of the circles in tact and cut the other into three pieces to make the bow tie and bunny ears.bunny-cutout-cake-template

Frosting:

Last year I used canned cream cheese frosting for lack of time, and the cake was no worse for it. This year however, I plan on making my own frosting. This recipe looks promising.

Decoration:

Adorn the bunny’s face using colored frosting, candy or whatever strikes your fancy! I also used sprinkled nutmeg to add texture.

Easter Bunny Cake

So there you have it: simplest shaped cake in the world. I hope everyone has a happy Easter and that it is filled with delicious foods and sweets!

(This year’s cake:)

View this post on Instagram

This year's #cake. Hoppy #Easter!

A post shared by Emilee Smith (@emileejaysmith) on

The Land of Graham Leprechaun

Holiday, Writing

Anyone who reads this blog knows about my obsession with fairies, elves and other wee folk. In which case, it should come as no surprise that growing up, one of my favorite holidays was St. Patrick’s day. Every year my brother and I would leave out potatoes as an offering to the leprechauns and, in return, we would be greeted in the morning with mint candies and hand written notes.

My leprechaun obsession grew so large, in fact, that one summer I convinced my visiting cousin that there was one residing in my grandmother’s closet. At the time, we were probably eight years old and my leprechaun hysteria not only convinced him of my declaration but also scared the living crap out of him.

It probably didn’t help that my grandmother went along with the rouse and had (speaking on the leprechaun’s behalf) accepted the invitation I had left for the elf, inviting him to dinner. Unsurprisingly, we did not have a leprechaun dinner guest, but to this day, my family still laughs about the incident.

Inspired by this memory, last Spring I wrote a short story for my grandmother that interpreted this incident into a fictional story about a leprechaun that wreaks havoc on the land of Graham (I grew up on John Graham Road, by the way) and plays pranks on children Em, Matteo and Billeth.

Since having written this first “Land of Graham” story, it is my hope to one day have it published as well as write several other installations, all based loosely on the antics of the childhood I shared with my brother and cousin.

I thought, given the holiday, this would be an appropriate time to share this aspiration. I also hope to one day share the stories I have written on this blog.

In any case, have a Happy St. Patrick’s day! I hope that the leprechauns didn’t destroy your home and that you drink lots of beer!

Erin go bragh!

  
(ps. cover photo done in Prismacolor pencils)