The Magician’s Nephew is the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, and I’ve always thought that it’s my favorite. “It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began.” (Though every time I start reading any book from the series, I think this one is my favorite!) Can you tell I’ve got Narnia on the brain? Let’s start at the very beginning….
When I first thought of having a Narnia theme around here, I thought: a display. Then I thought: baking. That’s how my brain works. How to display something edible with a theme. That’s what it’s all about, people!
So in today’s post I have our first display, for the first book, The Magician’s Nephew. The book starts out with two children named Polly and Digory exploring an old house, and accidentally ending up in Uncle Andrew’s study. He is a magician, or magician wanna-be and has supposedly found a way to travel to a different world. Or at least he thinks it’s possible, but has only tried it out on a guinea pig, who unfortunately can’t tell anything about his experiences in the other world! So Uncle Andrew needs someone else to try it out! But not himself, of course! He offers to let Polly have one of the lovely shiny yellow rings that are humming on a red wooden tray on his desk….
I love the image of the red wooden tray with the shiny green and yellow rings! I knew that it had to be a part of my display. I had already decided to start off with things that would remind me of Uncle Andrew’s study. I dug around in our basement and found some old-looking and even just large books. Some old candlesticks, an ancient globe, anything that looked old. (I wanted sealing wax and an old microscope, but didn’t have them on hand!) My old wooden “treasure chest” with safari animals on it was perfect, representing the secret box where Uncle Andrew first found the dust from another world, and the safari animals were perfect graphics for the animals who burst out of the ground in the new land of Narnia! There are a few other symbols in here that weren’t from the study, but just appeared in the rest of the book (like the golden apple, but more on that later!)
Back to the red tray….I thought a lot about it. How to do it? I didn’t want to buy anything for this project, (except the special plastic animals, in this case, the winged horse). A picture frame could work as a tray….yay, found one from an old school award. Next step: to paint. My son was happy to help me out with this project and painted the frame and a piece of cardboard red. After that, we added some wood-look lines and a few sprays of glimmery paint, then a bit of distressing with brown paint. I really really wanted to make handles for this tray, and spent a lot of brain power on it, but didn’t end up having the time. Assemble the frame without the glass, presto, a tray!
Next: the rings. That took a lot of thought, and it wasn’t till the last minute that I thought of making cookies. But how perfect (much better than another idea of cutting up paper rolls from toilet paper). Here are the cookies, step by step. Many of the photos were taken by my son, as those are my awkward-looking hands in the photos. For the cookies, I used the End-All for chocolate cookies recipe from Lilaloa, so yummmy, and melted Wilton candy melts for the icing.
Cut out small circles cookies. They are about 1 and 1/2 inch cookies.Melt up some black candy melts in a small baggie and snip off a corner. Outline 2 circles per cookie.(When I saw these photos I realized how strangely I hold the icing bags! ha! And don’t worry, that is fresh chocolate candy melt under my fingernail!)With yellow candy melts, snip off a bigger corner and fill in outlines that have already set. Then go for the green!Before the “icing” on each cookie had set, I added a small white line for a bit of a “shine” on one side of each ring. Then later when they were set and hardened, added a white asterisk to make it look like a sparkle. Can’t leave well enough alone, I wanted more shine. I painted on a bit of silver sparkle, too. It went faster than it sounds. Really.All that spiffing up and you can hardly notice…. ! Set out the rings in pairs of yellow and green on the red tray! We’re ready to travel to the Wood between the Worlds and on to Narnia…(My son was practicing some fancy photography techniques…) This is how Polly must have felt when she touched the yellow ring….“They were no bigger than ordinary rings, and no one could help noticing them because they were so bright. They were the most beautifully shiny little things you can imagine. If Polly had been a very little younger she would have wanted to put one in her mouth.” (I have always loved that description!)I think the “funnest” part about these ring cookies, was sending them to school in my kids’ lunches, then asking them if they had whisked off to Narnia during Math class!!! 😉
There are lots of easy things you can do to decorate your home for fall, autumn, Thanksgiving, all the fun October and November times! Look around to see what you have on hand, hidden away somewhere, like baskets and birdcages, then add some nature and raffia 🙂 Here are some of the things I came up with for this year….without really buying anything new except the hens and the moose….A few years ago I invested in a wicker cornucopia basket, so that always comes out of storage, to be filled with flowers or fruit for our Thanksgiving table. Started with some fake flowers, then added some small red lights, some dollar store grapes and free picked nature!I loved the green vine flower things that I found on one of my walks, they really dried nicely…Baskets stuffed with nature:
This next photo isn’t home made, but could be….little stuffed hens on a beaded cord….our newest Fall decor addition to hang by the window and by our chore chalkboards in the kitchen:Also in the kitchen, a little gnome who doesn’t want to freeze outside (he’s also afraid of being gnome-napped), an old apple basket and our avocado plant, also afraid of freezing….
And if you can’t find real pumpkins, make some chubby stuffed pumpkins, no sew! Tiny colored frames from Michaels can be filled with black cardstock, then written on with chalk for a chalkboard look, add a big-eyed owl…
Some table decor:
Fruit and veggies always make colorful decorations. This year’s splurge: a pomegranate! And how about some fresh cranberries floating with some apples stuffed with candles….this was a combination of ideas that I pinned on my Fall Ideas Pinterest board.My Guatemalan textiles always come out for fall….ok, they’re always out, all year around! And Pies are a great fall decor idea!! And they are good for so many things….
Pumpkin, a tradition.My first cherry pie and dollar store ceramic pumpkins.A very old painted Canadian flag made by one of my kids a long long time ago. Something else made by my kids: a clothespin wreath hanging on a chalkboard!My last DIY Fall Decor Idea: plant sunflower seeds in the spring and transfer them to your backyard for super Natural fall decor! 🙂 Doesn’t seem like ours bloomed early enough to get the seeds for eating, though…
Have a great rest-of-the-fall!! Looks like it could snow in a couple of days around here…..so soon I’ll be packing up and disassembling my fall decor…..Christmas is coming!!! 🙂
I love squirrels!! The icon that is, I don’t want to pet a real squirrel or anything like that, though I do find them fascinating to watch…anyways, here’s a super cute place card idea for your next fall event or Thanksgiving. We assembled and used them for Canadian Thanksgiving this year. Beside our little brown friend is a pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese icing and a little fondant pumpkin topper. First a word about the pumpkin toppers, then about the friendly picketing squirrels….The cupcake toppers turned out so cute! They were really fast and easy to make. I found the idea and tutorial by Nikki here on Catch My Party. I just mixed up some marshmallow fondant (melted marshmallows, icing sugar, water and vanilla) and rolled out little balls, scored them with a knife and popped a clove in the top…..that’s all!After I baked a pumpkin pie, I had a cup of pumpkin puree left, so I made up my traditional pumpkin and cream cheese recipes. They were easy cupcakes and baked while the pumpkin pie baked, then just added the icing and fondant pumpkins at the last minute before serving.So I found the pumpkin topper idea on Pinterest, but this next idea was my own idea (I have to make a distinction because my kids are always asking if it’s a Pinterest idea or my own idea! heh heh). Ikea has a cute set of woodland cookie cutters that includes this little squirrel. A batch of The End-All for Chocolate Cookies Recipe from Lilaloa was perfect for little brown fall squirrels. I was in a rush when I was making them, so I don’t have step by step photos. But it’s easy, just cut out squirrels, and for every squirrel cut out a circle (plain or scalloped) for a base. Before baking, add a toothpick to each squirrel, sliding it under the head and poking it through the little hand, so it looks like the squirrel is holding the toothpick on his shoulder. Bake them up, and when they are totally cool, use some melted chocolate candy melts to ice the squirrel to the base. It’s probably a good idea to add the signs to the toothpicks before “gluing” the squirrel to the base. You can just tape the place card to the top of the toothpick. Then it only took a line of melted chocolate on the bottom edge of the squirrel, then a few moments of slight pressure holding it onto the base to assemble. Here they are, being assembled by my sister….The squirrels were my idea, but I did see another fun idea on Pinterest that I really wanted to try….chocolate acorns! I found a great tutorial here on Once Upon a Pedestal for these candy acorns. They looked so cute! But I couldn’t find the same kind of peanut M&Ms that she used….and I didn’t have Tootsie Rolls, so I used chocolate covered almonds and brown fondant (another idea to add to my Chocolate Almond Ideas!!). And I asked my daughters to make them while I was working on Thanksgiving dinner! (remember, everything’s done last minute around here….)The table settings looked really cute with a cookie squirrel, a chocolate acorn and a fall leaf doily at each place….I used the same set of cookie cutters and same idea to make a stand up chocolate moose, too….kinda hard to see, but he’s in the middle by the cornucopia.Mr. Squirrel and his friends were a hit!! But he didn’t stick around very long…..Any squirrels that did linger around too long, and Mac the Moose, were sadly (or more like, deliciously) turned into another dessert with the leftover real whipped cream from the pie….leave overnight in the fridge, and voila!Who knew squirrels and moose could taste so wonderful?? 😉
So I’ve been rushing around, cleaning and decorating. But this year I decided to try and only decorate with things that I already had….to squeeze my brain for budget-friendly decorating! Ok, I admit, that I did buy a few very small things for Thanksgiving before I decided to try out this plan. But they were very few, heh heh. For this rather awesome crafty decoration, I used some nested baskets that I bought at Ikea about 8 years ago. The the larger ones usually hold fruit and the smaller ones lurk in dark corners of the basement “holding things”. So I dug up a nested set. And then I went for a walk to “gather things”. They say the best things in life are free, and my autumn walk was a best thing for sure! I found a few small pine branches, some little black berries of some sort, and some orange berries, which I should know the name of the tree they are from, but am hopeless at tree-knowledge.
I found this idea on Better Homes and Gardens for this basket tower. They used mismatched baskets, which looked cute. They also used lots of expensive floral foam, which I don’t have. A temporary tower sounded good to me. Since it was looking rather large, I decided it wouldn’t be a table centerpiece, but just a decoration, that will be up out of the reach of little hands….so I didn’t do much to anchor it. It’s another one of my “temporary” ideas.These baskets dip down in on one side, so that would be the front. I found things to stack in between, cans, jars, stuff like that. I just left the heavy things as is, but duct taped some of the lighter things for a bit of stability. Ta da, my not too wobbly tower!Now to fill it with nature….start with the pine branches, just some small ones. Then clumps of berries. Then a few pine cones.Shove everything in….I’m not sure how long this arrangement will last, but it will just turn into a dried fall arrangement! The example I was following had some really cute kumquats (whatever those are) and some lovely cloved oranges, that I did want to add, but the baskets were full! No room for oranges. No prob Bob. I think it looks nice just like this….Ugh, except for the color of that wall!!! The wall is not supposed to be pink, it’s orange, but for some reason my photos never show the right color!! I like orange stuff….. 🙂
Anyways, I hope that this little post gives you some ideas for using stuff that’s sitting around your house, and some bits of nature (real or otherwise) to decorate for Thanksgiving or fall in general. I know not everyone has berries popping up everywhere at this time of year……use lots of pinecones and clove some oranges!! Some ribbon would be nice, too….oh, and you can put a candle in the top like the Better Homes and Gardens version….but then it would have to be a stable tower…..I could go on and on. But maybe you should go decorate something….
Thanksgiving is almost here for us Canadians, are you ready? I’m still housecleaning and baking like a crazy. Kind of. I keep getting distracted by little fun things, like decorating or going through boxes that I haven’t seen for a while. I saw a list yesterday that said countdown to Thanksgiving, and shows you what to do each week, for 4 weeks before the event!! Things like start baking, send out invitations, etc. And it says 4 weeks before: finish major housecleaning! I figure that if I changed weeks to days, I’d be right on schedule.
Decorating is so much more fun than cleaning and de-cluttering. I have a frame in my living room that is for changing, with the seasons, or with the birthdays, whatever. It’s easy to pop out the picture and add something new. I was looking around for a “free Thanksgiving printable” to print and frame, and I found lots of nice ones, but they were in color. And even if I switched them to black and white, they’d be all grey and use up tons of ink. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m down to only black ink, so I made up something myself to print out for my frame, and thought I’d post it here, in case anyone else with a black-ink-only printer problem would like to have one for their Thanksgiving decor. All the fonts I used are by Kimberly Geswein, I really like her stuff! Ooh, I just saw some new ones on her blog that I want, nice very nice! There are links on her blog to download all her fonts, and she has examples, so you can see what the fonts look like in a paragraph form. The border is artwork by the Gypsy Chick, that I had for commercial use. (warning: blurry photos ahead!)
The printable is for a 8 1/2 by 11″ page, but my frame takes 12×12″, so I printed off 2 and cut one up to go behind the other. My printer also didn’t print to the edge of the page, so I had to shave some off. The printable should go to the edge of your page, if you can set your printer to do that. So this is what I did:
I don’t like the placement of the red leaf, but am trying to tell myself to just leave it, to not take everything down to rearrange!!! grrrrr. Oh well. So this is what it looks like, and you can click on the folder below to download a zipped folder. Unzip and print! Let me know if it’s not working, since, ahem, it’s been awhile since I’ve uploaded a printable…. This photo below is just the example, and somehow one of the words is cut off and there’s a watermark that says personal use only, so that means it’s just for you to use in your home, y’know, no copying or selling or that kind of thing!
Easy as pumpkin pie….actually, much easier and faster than that! Fasy, easy, temporary decor: I’m all about these three this year. These pudgy pumpkins are so easy to make, you can have a pumpkin patch in your living room in 10 minutes. The “ingredients” for the pumpkins are materials that you probably have around your house….and if you don’t happen to have cinnamon sticks, maybe you could substitute something else….like small rolls of cardstock or cardboard. And the best part is that you don’t have to sew anything!Materials: (new or clean) dish towels, rubber bands or hair elastics, plastic shopping bags, some sort of string or yarn and/or raffia and whole cinnamon sticks.I was so happy to find a use for these tea-towels (that’s what I call dish towels, is that Canadian, eh?) that I bought for a fun Christmas project last year. I had meant to use them for drying dishes after Christmas, but they ended up downstairs in the craft basement….and didn’t come to light until recently….hmmm, they’d make cute pumpkins!!! Find the rest of the ingredients:Now grab the narrower end of a dish towel and accordion pleat it, but not perfectly, remember this is supposed to be fast.Pleat the other end, too, and fold in half. You might have to hold one pleated end, while pleating the other end with one hand. Don’t be perfectionist, it will all be fixable in the end.Lay the pleated ends out in a heart shape. The idea is that the ends will be rubber-banded together, with the ends inside the pumpkin. Now add a rubber band or hair elastic.You can vary how much of the end pleats are going to be inside the pumpkin, and so vary the size of the pumpkins. Now pull the bottom of the “heart” down….And tie with some string, yarn or raffia. Just a couple of regular knots will do to hold it.Start fluffing out the sides of the dish towel a bit. You can add the stem of the pumpkin now, or later, it doesn’t really matter too much. Grab a couple of sticks for a larger pumpkin, or just one stick for a smaller pumpkin, and insert them into the top, in the middle of the rubber-band “knot”. Now stuff the pumpkin with loosely balled-up plastic bags, opening up the pleats a bit, and arranging them to cover any plastic bag that peeks out through the side cracks. And that’s it!!Later, I decided to tie some raffia around the cinnamon stick stem, to give the look of leaves and vine tendrils.It took about 10 to 15 minutes to make 7 pumpkins for my “patch”. The yellow pumpkin is a table runner, folded in half. The two smaller brown pumpkins were bits of fabric from Walmart, those ones that are smaller than a fat quarter, something like 18″ by 21″ or whatever. They were from last year’s project, too. I had been looking at fabric pumpkins, but didn’t want to sew, or permanently use up my small stash of fabric, so this worked out perfectly. I can pull them apart and use my tea-towels for drying dishes (if I want, ha) or anything else.
Photo canvases seem to be all the rage. So far I haven’t taken the plunge and ordered one yet, they are cool but pricey. I guess I’m more into the DIY thing right now anyways….
The other day when I was crazily decorating for my daughter’s Lalaloopsy Cute-As-A-Button birthday party, I found a dollar store canvas and easel that I had bought without a specific purpose in mind. I kind of thought that I would glue buttons to it, in the shape of the birthday girl’s age…but at the last second, decided to make a photo canvas to display this cute photo that my photographer friend April snapped of her at a kitty birthday party. I went to handy dandy Pinterest and looked up how to print an image onto tissue paper. Hmmm, seems easy enough! Let’s try it out, I said to myself. I went for a black and white photo since I have run out of colored ink! I work with what I have!
Honestly, this craft took almost no time if you have the supplies on hand. I usually have some Modge Podge somewhere on the premises, so I started the project before I exactly checked…turns out the Modge Podge I have is an antique colored Shimmer finish. (Modge Podge is the brand name of a water-based sealer glue and finish, a paste-like medium from PLAID and is usually completely transparent, but you can find different finishes like glossy or matte.) Oh well, I thought it might work, and in the end I was quite pleased with the look it gave the canvas….if you don’t mind a sepia tint and shiny finish.
So the supplies are: Modge Podge, paint brush, white acrylic craft paint, a printer, tissue paper, double-sided tape (or even clear tape should work), paper confetti (optional), a canvas and easel, and some photo editing software to touch up your photo and print it out. Here’s the canvas I used, sorry I don’t have a photo of the Modge Podge and my camera battery is dead at the moment…Here is the fairy easy process: first, edit your photo. (don’t spend too long on this if you don’t want to. You can always print off a photo w/o editing it and then just snip off the corners etc. of the tissue paper copy).After cutting out her arm, blending her hair and cutting off the corners of the photo, I blurred the edges and erased a bit more, then I added some digital embellishments, like swirls and some flowers with buttons in the center (from my digital stash), but of course this step isn’t necessary and real embellishments could easily be glued onto the canvas afterwards.Now print off a test photo, to see the effects and to see where to position the tissue paper. Using a sheet of white tissue paper, cut out a rectangle. I thought it had to be almost the same size as the paper, but apparently it only needs to be bigger than your photo. I used double-sided scrapbooking tape to tape the tissue to the regular printer paper, but I think even regular scotch tape should work. Make sure there is no stickiness showing! The tape showing must not be sticking!! I can only image what kind of a paper jam that would cause!! It’s hard to see in the photos, but you can kind of see the edge of the tissue paper (in the photos above and below). When you go to run your paper through the printer, be sure you know what side it will be printing on!! To check that out, when you print off your test copy, add a small X with a pencil to the corner of the paper before it prints, then check to see what side was printed on. Then you’ll know whether to load your tissue papered paper face up or face down (I hope that sounds clear?)Cut as close as you want around the tissue paper photo and test it out on the canvas….this is the tissue paper just setting on the canvas….(I should have photographed the tissue paper held up to the light, it’s so cool, but I was in a big hurry…..)Now add a layer of glue, Modge Podge, to the canvas…See how yellow the glue looks in the jar? It’s harder to see on the canvas, but paint on your glue then quickly get the tissue paper on before it dries. I actually had to peel off the photo, add some more glue and try it again. It worked without tearing!! yay!I wasn’t sure if I should paint right over the photo, as is usual with Modge Podge, as it is a sealant, too. But I didn’t want her face to get too yellowed looking, and since my Modge Podge is shimmery and a bit shiny, I knew that if you look at it from the side it would just glare…hmmm, what to do? But first I added some white paint to the edges, to kind of soften them up and hide the edge of the tissue paper a bit (not that is showed very much) and I wanted to downplay the yellowish sepia color, too and make it look a bit like a painting….So this is what I ended up doing, following the direction of her bangs with brushstrokes of shiny glue…I only painted over the edges of the photo with the Modge Podge, and left the face free of it…so this is how it looks with the light shining at an angle.I seem to always have to do that extra little bit, add that extra detail, it’s the hardest thing in the world to stop myself (I know, Art is knowing when to stop, and that’s why I don’t make money by my “art”!!) so of course I threw some paper confetti that I had laying around from some other party decoration onto the canvas while the glue was still wet. I like it anyhoo. And my little buddy was quite pleased, too!! 🙂I hope this little tutorial has been helpful to someone! 🙂 Now I just need to make 3 more……