DIY: Felt Flower Wreath

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Using twigs found on a walk and leftover scraps of felt from a holiday crafting project Spring came early in the form of this adorable wreath! Sure, the felt flowers are simple and lovely on their own, but grouped together on a homemade wreath they become très chic! Keep for yourself, or gift to a friend who needs a little Spring in their step. 

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Felt Flower Wreath
makes one adorable wreath to give or keep

What you need:
9″ x 12″ basic felt sheets in assorted colors (I used a more muted palette found in the French countryside)
1 bunch of twigs (mine were various sizes and widths)
Hot glue and glue gun
Scissors
Small piece of floral wire or ribbon for hanging (optional, it can also hang over a hook just as it is)

What to do:
1. Make the Flower Center: Cut 1 felt sheet into a square. Fold the square in half and glue down. On the fold end, cut thin lines about halfway down. Start at one end and place a dot of glue. Carefully roll the felt and glue at the end. Set aside to dry.

Felt Flower Wreath, Diy, Craft, DIY WREATH, ROUND WREATH, LIBBIE SUMMERS, PASTEL FELT, VALENTINES DAYFelt Flower Wreath, Diy, Craft, DIY WREATH, ROUND WREATH, LIBBIE SUMMERS, PASTEL FELT, VALENTINES DAYFelt Flower Wreath, Diy, Craft, DIY WREATH, ROUND WREATH, LIBBIE SUMMERS, PASTEL FELT, VALENTINES DAY

2. Cut and Add Flower Pedals: From a sheet of felt cut 8 to 10 petal shapes. Take the flower center you made in Step 1 and glue the bottom of your petal to the bottom of the flower center. Make sure the folded end of the flower center is at the top. Continue glueing your petals around your flower center until you make it back to the first. Repeat the process a second time around.

Felt Flower Wreath, Diy, Craft, DIY WREATH, ROUND WREATH, LIBBIE SUMMERS, PASTEL FELT, VALENTINES DAY Felt Flower Wreath, Diy, Craft, DIY WREATH, ROUND WREATH, LIBBIE SUMMERS, PASTEL FELT, VALENTINES DAY

3. Cut and Add the Flower Leaves: From another sheet of felt, cut a leaf shape that looks like a ‘+’. Next, cut out an oval shape that is a bit larger. Fold that in half and glue 1/3 of the fold. Glue the ‘+’ shape to the bottom of your flower. Glue the other shape onto the bottom of the ‘+’ shape.

Felt Flower Wreath, Diy, Craft, DIY WREATH, ROUND WREATH, LIBBIE SUMMERS, PASTEL FELT, VALENTINES DAY Felt Flower Wreath, Diy, Craft, DIY WREATH, ROUND WREATH, LIBBIE SUMMERS, PASTEL FELT, VALENTINES DAY

4. Make the Wreath I found twigs in my backyard that are about 6 to 8 inches long and started glueing them together until they resembled a circle and had a few layers (NOTE: This doesn’t need to be a perfect circle, actually less than perfect is best!). Next I glued the bottoms of the flowers to the twigs until the wreath was covered just how you like it (I left some of the wreath exposed). To hang, twist a small piece of floral wire through one of the twigs at the top and hang onto a nail OR hook or wrap a beautiful ribbon around the top OR hang straight from the wreath onto a hook.

Felt Flower Wreath, Diy, Craft, DIY WREATH, ROUND WREATH, LIBBIE SUMMERS, PASTEL FELT, VALENTINES DAY

Felt Flower Wreath, Diy, Craft, DIY WREATH, ROUND WREATH, LIBBIE SUMMERS, PASTEL FELT, VALENTINES DAY
Check out these other homespun chic felt crafts! 
Felt Fortune Cookies
Tiered Felt Holiday Ornaments
Felt Gnome Hat
Felt Ball Garland

 

Chocolate Saltine Double Toffee

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

My Aunt Darlene used to make a version of this midwestern holiday treat when I was a kid. She called it her “Special Toffee”. It wasn’t until last year that I knew there was a cracker inside. Some call them cookies. I prefer to think of this as Aunt Darlene’s Special Toffee 2.0. I’ve taken her recipe and raised it a toffee. 

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Chocolate Saltine Double Toffee
makes one quarter baking tray/24 crackers

What you need:
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
24 salted saltine crackers (or you can make these using  a 1/2 sheet tray and use a full sleeve of saltines. The rest of the recipe will work with either amount)
3/4 cup Chocolate Heath Toffee Bits
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a 1/4 baking sheet tray with foil and spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Get a timer ready!!
2. Arrange Crackers: Line the baking tray with the crackers in a single layer.
3. Start Toffee: In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat add the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Once the mixture has started to boil DO NOT STIR. Allow to boil for 3 minutes only. Pour the hot mixture over the tray of crackers and spread to cover crackers if you need to (I never need to). Bake for 5 minutes.
4. Add Second Toffee: Remove tray from oven and spread toffee bits over the bubbling mixture. Return to the oven for 2 minutes.
5. Add Chocolate: Remove tray from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes until the chocolate chips are almost completely melted. Be patient! Once melted, use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the top.
6. Rest and Cool: Let the tray sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (this will help the crackers soak up all the goodness) then refrigerate until hard.

To Serve: Remove from foil and cut into uniform pieces or break apart into irregular pieces (I prefer to break apart). Package in a cute vintage tin for a lovely gift from the kitchen.

Check out these other Easy Candy Making Recipes! 
Chocolate Nut Clusters: Recipe or VIDEO
Homemade Tootsie Rolls: Recipe or VIDEO
•Beautiful Bark: Recipe and Video 

 

Chocolate Nut Clusters

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

If you interested in giving candy making a try, I’d like to introduce you to this Chocolate Nut Cluster recipe. It’s a very forgiving recipe that is as delicious as it is beautiful. Bonus, it’s my father’s favorite holiday candy! The recipe makes two dozen and let me tell you 6 of these make a perfect gift, so give away 3 gifts and keep one for yourself! Happy candy making! 

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Chocolate Nut Clusters
(makes 24)

What you need: 
1 pound white candy coating, chopped
6 ounces milk chocolate chips (can sub bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (can sub bittersweet chocolate)
2 1/2 cups dry roasted and salted nuts (I used 1 1/2 cups cashews and 1/2 cup peanuts)
Maldon Salt (optional)
Chipotle chili powder (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

What to do:
1. Prepare Trays: Line four 1/4 baking sheet trays or two 1/2 baking sheet trays (whatever will fit into your refrigerator) with waxed paper and set aside. *note: if you don’t have enough baking sheet trays, use any flat surface that you have that will fit into your refrigerator. Plates, platters or whatever.
2. Melt Coating and Chocolate: In a pyrex bowl set over a sauce pan of simmering water (a double boiler), add the candy coating and chocolate. Heat until melted and smooth.
3. Cool Chocolate Mixture: Remove the bowl from the double boiler and allow the chocolate to cool for 5-10 minutes. This step can not be skipped. Allowing the chocolate cool for a few minutes help keep your clusters together when you scoop them out.
4. Add Nuts: Stir nuts into the slightly cooled chocolate. 5. Scoop and Set: Using a small portion scoop (about a heaping 1 tablespoon size), scoop the chocolate nut mixture onto the prepared baking sheet trays. Sprinkle the tops of each cluster with a wee bit of salt, chipotle chili powder or sprinkles if you like. Refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Try out these other Easy Candy and Sweet Snack Recipes!
They make great gifts from the kitchen! 

Homemade Tootsie Rolls
Beautiful Bark
Homemade Caramel Corn

Quick Craft: Patchwork Ornaments

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

This year, the holiday season is about all the the heart thumping cozy things that make this time of year special. No big box stores or mall shopping for me (in all honesty, nothing has changed there). This year I’m decorating my tree with homemade bits and bobbles including these Patchwork Ornaments. I’ve been collecting fabric scraps for years from old clothing and family heirlooms (like my grandmother’s bed sheets) that just couldn’t take another wash. Coupled with some of my new favorite fabrics from Rifle Paper and a modern nostalgic craft is born.

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Patchwork Ornament
(makes 1)

What you need:
1 smooth finish (not that rough styro) styrofoam ball (any size, I used a 4″ diameter ball)
Craft Brush
Mod Podge Glue Sealer (or make your own by mixing 1 cup white glue with 1/3 cup water)
Cotton fabric scraps cut into small squares (thin cotton is best, I cut mine into 1″ squares for the 4″ diameter ball. The larger the ball the larger the squares)
1 Screw Eye (size will depend on the width of ribbon you are using for hanging)
Ribbon for hanging
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What to do: 
1. Brush a thin layer of the Mod Podge glue sealer onto a small area of the ball. Apply one of the fabric squares to that area and coat the top of the fabric square with another layer of the glue sealer. Line up the next fabric square to the last square and top with a coat of the sealer. Continue around only half of the ball…applying the glue sealer to the ball and then topping with the squares and sealer (I only do 1/2 of the ball at a time because it’s easier to hold. The process can get sticky, this keeps your hand free and clean). Allow to dry (2-4 hours).
2. Continue the process with the other side of the ball until the ball is completely covered in squares. Allow to dry overnight.
3. Screw the eye screw into the ball.
4. Thread the ribbon through the eye screw and tie in a knot at the top.

To Use: Hang on a tree, decorate a package, tie on a doorknob or just fill a beautiful bowl with them.

PS Have a bandana collection? Try using bandana fabric
Cotton fabric scraps cut into small squares (thin cotton is best, I cut mine into 1" squares for the 4" diameter ball. The larger the ball the larger the squares), bandana crafts

More Holiday Crafting Ideas Here! 
DIY: FUN HOLIDAY WREATHS

12 Handmade Ornaments to Trim Your Tree

6 Unique Handmade Holiday Garlands

DIY: Pom Pom Tree Skirt

•Handmade Stockings

 

 

 

 

Homemade Gifts from the Kitchen

By Libbie Summers for Better Homes and Gardens
Photography by Andy Lyons

With the holiday season approaching, here are some homemade gift ideas to create from your kitchen quarantine. 

In a large mixing bowl combine both flours, salt, and baking powder. Stir in seed mixture. Add oil and stir until combined. Add water and stir until a loose dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 5 times until smooth. Divide into 8 portions; cover with a towel and let rest 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll dough into a very thin rectangle, about 11×5-inches. Transfer to a prepared baking sheet. Bake each for 4 minutes; turn. Bake for 4 minutes more or until browned and crisp. Cool completely. Break into irregular shapes. Store an airtight container up to 5 days.

 

Herbed Nuts and Honey
Inspired by a Middle Eastern sweet snack, this jarred recipe makes for a fantastic party appetizer or holiday gift!
Spoon some over your favorite soft cheese. 


What you need:
1 cup salted mixed nuts (cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, and/or walnuts)
4 sprigs fresh marjoram
1 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper

What to do:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread nuts on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Transfer warm nuts to a clean kitchen towel and rub to remove any loose skins from hazelnuts. Cool.

Rinse marjoram sprigs well. Pat with paper towels until completely dry. In a small saucepan combine the honey, marjoram, and black pepper. Heat over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Divide nuts between four clean 4-ounce jars. Pour the honey mixture evenly between the jars atop the nuts. Gently tap jars to remove air bubbles. Seal jars. Refrigerate up to 1 month.

Candied Ginger
Homemade ginger candy is the perfect hostess gift or cocktail addition. With just 4 ingredients, this Candied Ginger recipe is as easy to make as it is to enjoy.

What you need:
2 cups water
2½ cups sugar
pinch of salt
1 large ginger root (8 ounces), peeled and very thinly sliced

What to do:
In a large saucepan stir together the water, 2 cups of the sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat until just boiling, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Add ginger to sugar mixture. Boil gently, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until syrupy.

Strain, reserving syrup (place in clean bottles for gift-giving*). Arrange ginger slices on a wire rack set over a shallow baking pan. Allow to dry overnight (ginger will still be sticky).

Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Add ginger and toss to coat. Divide into four 4-oz. jars. Refrigerate up to 1 month.

Spiced Bourbon Cherries
Spiced Bourbon Cherries are one of the best ways to add boozy fruit to your favorite cocktail. (Hint: They taste especially amazing in whiskey drinks!) Sweeten up your next cocktail hour with a batch of bourbon-soaked cherries. Not a drinker? Spoon some over a scoop of vanilla ice cream and thank me later. 

What you need:
1¼ cups water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1¼ cups bourbon
1 pound fresh or frozen pitted dark sweet cherries

What to do:
In a medium saucepan combine the water, sugar, vanilla bean paste, cayenne, and cinnamon. Bring just to boiling over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Stir in bourbon. Cool slightly. Add cherries and let stand 30 minutes. Divide into four 8-oz. jars. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks.

Toasted Seasoning Salts
Whip up a big batch of these savory seasoning blends and give them to the meat-lovers in your life to season their steaks. Vegetarians can toss this no-cook food gift with popcorn, nuts, or roasted chickpeas.

What you need: 
Regular:
1/2 cup flaked sea salt
1/2 cup coarsely ground pepper
1/2 cup garlic powder
Smoky Hot: 
1/2 cup flaked sea salt
1/2 cup coarsely ground pepper
1/2 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground chipotle powder

What to do:
In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients…yep. That’s it.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Use to season meats before grilling or roasting or combine with flour to coat chicken before frying.

More Gifts From the Kitchen Ideas:
Candied Ginger Syrup
Sweet Maple Mustard
Spiced Ketchup
Everything Bagel Topping Mix

 

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