Cookie Policy Privacy Policy

Gift Guide: House Proud

Gift Guide: House Proud

house proud gift guide 2014


Who wouldn’t love some gorgeous wooden lids for their mason jars, a beautiful modern twig hook,  or some cute sea otters to cheer them in the morning?

Clockwise from top left: Paint by numbers deer pillow cover by StudioLiscious, New York Porcelain Chemists Bottle by Revisions Design, Twig modern wall hook by StudioLiscious, Porcelain egg sprout planters by Revisions Design, Sea otter print by TripleStudio, Set of four wooden mason jar lids by Cattails Woodwork

PS – Still haven’t written your Christmas cards? Check out my favourite photo cards from Minted – all by independent designers.


How to make this centrepiece for $15 from IKEA bits

How to make this centrepiece for $15 from IKEA bits


Standing in the As-Is department of IKEA, I came up with the idea for this centrepiece. I am a sucker for fake flowers. Real ones are beautiful, obviously, but I try to stick to things grown close by and in the end of November in Canada, there isn’t much around. So when I spotted branches of less-than-perfect white ones for 59¢, I dug around the garish pink blossoms to come up with three nice stems. If your As-Is department comes up empty, the regular stems run about $1.29 – $2.99 each, I used three here.




The vase is the bigger of the two ENSIDIG vase sizes ($2.99), and I filled the centre of it with two strands of the SÄRDAL LED light strings with the battery pack attached ($3.99/each). Cramming the artificial flower stems inside and pressed along the outside edge disguises the battery packs. Just pull some of the lights around so you’ve got some poking out the top and some illuminating flowers from behind.


Lovely things: Holiday photo cards from Minted

Lovely things: Holiday photo cards from Minted

I know, how did it become the last week in November? I’m pretty sure it was October yesterday.

As we do the scrabbly and panicky slide down into the Christmas season, let me simplify one of your problems: Christmas cards.

When we lived in England and all our family was back in Canada, the Christmas cards were a critical part of the holidays. That’s also when I first discovered the photo card companies. It made everything much easier – there was no printing photos on expensive photo paper that I would waste because I never get on with my printer. Only to find out that the photos were about 2cm bigger than the card and envelopes I had bought, followed by rum and eggnog fuelled x-acto knife wielding.

I’ve had mixed success with photo cards. Some are beautiful but cost a small fortune if you get a small number. Others are affordable but show up on shiny, flimsy paper, or all the design options are terrible. However, I’ve been eyeing the Minted selection of holiday cards for a couple of weeks now, and it was serendipity that they emailed me about picking out my favourites. There are so many really lovely options, as well as some neat ones with fancy shapes. There are holiday postcards which has got to be one of the best ideas ever. Forget the envelopes, and why does a card have to fold anyway?

The shipping is $10 to Canada for 3-5 business days which is really quite reasonable. And incredibly, they will print your recipients’ addresses for free. No writing hand cramps. Or fighting with my printer to do the envelopes.

I have tried to confine myself to five of my favourites, you don’t even want to see my ‘maybe’ list.

2014 in a nutshell

2014 in a nutshell by Spotted Whale Designs

Merry little chalkboard by geeking design


Handlettered fa la la la la by linda and harriett

instant camera

Instant film by Olivia Kanaley


Simply joyous by carly reed

This mini-book option is a bit more, but it would be a lovely gift for some relatives you don’t see as often.

Insta-book holiday by up up creative

So pull up your stockpile of family photos and pick your favourites.



Quick ideas for beautiful yet inexpensive gift wrapping

Quick ideas for beautiful yet inexpensive gift wrapping


I love wrapping presents.

I start thinking about it in early December, I’m that into it. But I have to tell you I don’t spend a fortune on materials, it is only wrapping after all. I’m sure most of you know at least some of these tricks to making your presents look beautiful, but I thought I’d share anyway.

Use plain kraft paper. You can buy a roll at a craft store, or even the post office. From here, you can potato stamp it all over, get your kids to splatter paint it in the garden, or use it plain.

Make a gift bag for those awkward shapes. Forget buying these things, making them is not hard. I love this tutorial that has you half wrap a couple of books for the shape. Kraft paper is great for this, or even that pile of nice wrapping paper you hoarded from last year (is this just me?). I don’t even use tissue paper to stuff them, but baking parchment. Cheap and looks lovely against brown kraft paper.

Invest in fabric ribbon, a hole punch and a pair of decorative scissors. These are things I will spend some money on. Try a fabric store before a craft store, and look for real fabric, not poly blends. These drape beautifully and make any present look incredible, even if all you do is tie a bow. Often people will return your ribbon to you, or maybe it’s just me. Ha. Decorative scissors work well on the top edge of those gift bags you whipped up, or evening out a small piece of wrapping paper that looks ragged.

Use greenery. A quick walk outside with some shears should provide a fistful of nice green bits – you’re looking for evergreens, as they will keep their shape for a day or two outside of water. Even a few snips from the back of your (real) Christmas tree will work. Tuck underneath a bow for a spray of natural beauty. If you’re really without any trees, try the grocery store or plant area of a big home improvement store: rosemary or bay sprigs look lovely and smell incredible, or a twist of ivy wrapped around a ribbon.

Keep leftover cuts of wrapping paper. Colour blocking looks deliberate when you actually ran out of a patterned paper, especially paired with plain kraft paper (see how handy it is?). Cut strips of beautiful paper and layer under ribbon. Make snowflakes with it and paste against a plain background.

Happy wrapping!


Make a simple pine cone bird feeder

Make a simple pine cone bird feeder

pinecone bird feeder 2sm

As the weather gets colder, the birds that have not flown south for the winter could always use something to eat. This super easy bird feeder uses peanut butter for two purposes: as important fats for the birds, and as an edible glue to hold the bird seed onto the pine cone.

You’ll need

Large pine cones
Yarn, ribbon or string to hang the bird feeder
Peanut butter
Bird seed
Plates to contain the mess


  1. Tie your yarn, ribbon or string securely to the top of the pine cones.
  2. Coat the pine cones with a layer of peanut butter. Roll in bird seed and press it in.
  3. Put the pine cones in the freezer for an hour. Hang in a tree!