Thursday, December 31, 2009

An Unassuming Shopping Spot (Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.)

A very new and unassuming shopping spot has quietly opened in Summerfield, North Carolina.  It’s called Golden Antiques and Treasures and it is now occupying the formerly old, decrepit and vacant Food Lion.  I’ve have driven by it several times and the facade is not all that inviting but I stopped in anyway to have look-see and was pleasantly surprised.  Summerfield is a very rural area.  There is no “downtown” to speak of.  Really, all you will find shopping wise here is the “new” Food Lion” and Purgasons which is also know affectionately as the “horse store” and where you can find horseback riding gear like saddles and everything you could ever need to help take care of your riding and horse needs.  Any new business that open up here in my opinion is Big News! 

Golden Antiques and Treasures is series of booths that the vendors rent and there are all sorts of things for sale.   It is not a Flea Market.  The owners have a final say in what goods are allowed to be sold here.  And I like that.   Antiques, iron ware, hand bags, and art are just a few of the things you can find there.  One of my favorite booths I have to say was called “The Perfect Piece” and some of the most wonderful pieces of furniture and accessories could be found there.  This is the booth that I found these wonderful hand painted tables and trays. 

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How beautiful is this table with the hand painted yellow plaid ribbon?  Just gorgeous!

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Now I have to admit that I have stopped into this store twice.  The first time was a few weeks ago before Christmas when I really didn’t have much time.  I loved this table and took a photo of it to show my husband think I might like this little number as a Christmas gift.  But after much thinking it over I decided against it because we really do not drink Chardonnay or any white wine really.  I still think its beautiful white wine or not!

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Now I saw this beautiful tray on my first visit and snapped it’s photo to show my neighbor who told me she was looking for a tray to set on her ottoman.  I saw it again today in a different setting.  Still just a beautiful. (Sorry for the blurry photo.)

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And take a look at this one….

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This tray is also gorgeous!  You know how much I love that harlequin pattern!

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Yep, this is the place you want.  And don’t judge a book by it’s cover!!  There are lots of delightful things to find inside and if you like ice cream they just opened an ice cream parlor right next door.   I would love to see this business succeed.  The more diverse and unique shopping spots the better it is for all of us!  For all of you locals, if you are in the area stop by Golden Antiques and Treasures.  It is located on Hwy 220 North on the left side of the road as you are heading North just before the intersection of 220 and NC 150. 

Golden Antiques and Treasures

4537 Hwy. 220

Summerfield, NC  27358


And lastly, before I go…I was delighted this morning when I learned that my blog was recognized as a favorite by Triad Smarty!!  Triad Smarty Pants is a locally based blog and resource for families living in the Triad area of North Carolina which includes Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point.  It is a great resource for families and if you want to know what the latest is happening around town this is the place to be.   Lot’s of “Mom” information here too.  Check it out and take a peek at their list.  More new blogs to discover!  Thanks Triad Smarty Pants and if you are visiting me via their link…WELCOME!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Parmesan And Thyme Crackers

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About a year ago I attended a Wine and Cheese Party that was actually a birthday party for two friends who had birthdays within the same week. It was a great idea to combine the birthday party with a wine tasting and of course I had to bring along some cheese. I also decided to give the following recipe a try and took a batch of these crackers along for the party. I am not kidding when I say every single cracker was eaten by the end of the night and I have been making these crackers ever since. I am a big fan of Ina Garten better known as “The Barefoot Contessa” and this recipe is from her latest book “Back to Basics”. The secret to this recipe is to use the good stuff. Real Parmesan Reggiano is an absolute must here in my humble opinion. If you use the stuff in the “green can”, I cannot be responsible for the results! Let’s just say that the Parmesan Reggiano makes a huge difference.

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I write in my cookbooks all the time. I always have. How about you? I like to write in the date that I made the recipe, and I like to jot down anything special that I might have done or any substitutes I might have made. And I like to include any other details about why I was making the recipe. Was it for a party? Did every one like it? Did one of the kids help me make it? I have a lot of cookie recipes with little notes about the kids helping me. Lots of drips and smudge marks too. :)

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Parmesan And Thyme Crackers

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used salted butter)

4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup) (Use a Microplane Grater if you have it, it gets the cheese nice and fine and fluffy.)

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves ( I used about 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme and rubbed the leaves together to crumble them up)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, add the Parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper and combine. With the mixer still on low, add the flour and combine until the mixture is in large crumbles, about 1 minute. If the dough is too dry, add 1 teaspoon of water. ( I had to add several teaspoons of water to get a workable dough. Be sure to mix after each water addition. You do not want to add too much.)

Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 9 inch log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days. (You can also freeze the log at this point and bake them at a later date. Just defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then slice and bake them when you are ready to serve.)

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the log into 3/8 inch thick rounds with a small, sharp knife and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (I used foil). Bake for 22 minutes, until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during the baking. Cool and serve at room temperature. Makes about 24 crackers.

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These crackers would be just the thing to help you ring in the New Year. And if you have any leftover from the party, which is hard for me to imagine, these freeze really well even after they are baked. They are a handy thing to have on hand when you want to have something to nibble on while enjoying a glass of wine. Just pull a few out of the freezer and pour. You won’t believe how deep the flavor is. You will actually “nibble” on these because they are so rich. They kind of melt in your mouth and just one or two will do the trick. Enjoy! (Thanks Ina!)

And Thanks to Kelly over at Dare to Be Domestic for the great new wine suggestion. I found us a bottle when out shopping and I have to say that we are liking the Gnarly Head!! Cheers!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cheese Anyone?

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Have you ever seen such a beautiful set of cheese knives before in your life??? My sweet daughter gave this set to me as my Christmas gift this year. And I am tickled to have them.

Christmas 2009 031 Here they are in their box. She purchased them at Pier One Imports. Now as some of you might remember, I have been lusting over the set of cheese knives that I saw before Thanksgiving at Pottery Barn. Remember this photo below? I vowed that someday they would be mine.


I still think they are beautiful but decided against them because the handles had the names “Cheddar, Swiss”, and “Blue” on them. What if I wanted to serve my favorite Parrano? Or a Monterey Jack with Horseradish? Hmmm??? I didn’t want to feel “locked” in. :)

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I wish I had a pear to slice and some grapes to add to this plate. (If you like Blue Cheese the “Bayley Hazen Blue” in the center of the plate is highly recommended. A slice of that with a piece of sliced pear is heaven!)

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An enhanced version of this cheese plate and my new cheese knives might be making an appearance to help ring in the New Year. :) How about you? Any cheese lovers out there?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I’ve Got Some Reading To Do

Hope you all had a marvelous Christmas Day. I actually got all of the gifts wrapped and I am happy to say that it was before midnight on Christmas Eve! We have been cooking and baking for days and it’s time to take a breather. We had a wonderful day. With no little ones waking us up at the crack of dawn anymore, we all slept in and opened gifts finishing with all of that just before noon. A far cry from when the kids were little and they were up at 5:30 a.m. dying to open their gifts. The past few years we have been getting up at a more civilized hour. :)

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Santa was very good to all of us and Christmas time is my favorite time to catch up on my reading. Santa must have know this because I have lots of new reading material. I have already started Andre Agassi’s autobiography called “Open”. I am enjoying it immensely! That boy was driven…by his intense father…and he has an incredible memory for details. I just started it so I will let you know what I think when I finish.

Some of you might think the autobiography of Andy Williams called “Moon River and Me” might be an odd selection for someone my age but I requested that book after hearing an interview with Andy on NPR a few weeks before Christmas. What an interesting life he has had. Did you know he was with Bobby Kennedy the night he was assassinated? Neither did I.

The Girls From Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow, follows a group of women over the course of forty years. I usually like books like this. Has anyone read this one yet?

Then there is Blogging for Bliss by Tara Frey. Lots of my favorite blogs are featured in this book. And although I have pretty much figured out the basics of blogging by my lonesome, this would be a great book for someone just starting out or thinking about starting a blog. It is a great guide to other creative blogs. There are lot of them out there to discover.

And finally, it wouldn’t be Christmas for me without a new cookbook. I am a huge fan of “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day” by Jeff Hershberger and Zoe Francois and I have had great success with all of the breads that I tried making from their first book. Their latest book is called "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day" and so now I can try my hand at making more whole grain breads. Lot’s of healthy bread recipes are in their latest book and there is even a section of gluten free recipes.

So how about you. Have you read any of my new books? Did Santa bring you any new books of your own? I will keep you posted as I start to plow my way through my new library. :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

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It is Christmas Eve and not a single gift is wrapped!  I hope you are more on top of things than I am.  (But I did get some of my cookies baked. :)

Allow me to wish you and your family a wonderful and very

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Some More Christmas Decor

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We were finally able to get a photo taken of the kids with the dog this weekend. My husband and son started building an igloo with all the snow we got this weekend and so we put the kids in front of it for their photo.

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Here are my Wal-Mart berry trees. I have had these for years. I have to store these in my husband’s closet most of the year because number one, there is more room in his closet than mine (I wonder why?) and because two, the heat and cold from the attic would destroy them.

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Ever hear of Mark Robert’s Santa Fairies? I saw my first one a few years ago and decided to bring one home with me. I wouldn’t call myself a “collector” just yet as I only have two but I do love them. They are very detailed.

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The stripped candy cane Santa is not a Mark Roberts but the one with all the feathers is and I have to say he is my favorite. I love his little wire eyeglasses and he has a bird on his head and in one of his hands. You can see his fairy wings peeking out from behind him. The stripped candy cane Santa is nice and “bendy” so I like to wrap him around the lamp each year.

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When my kids were little they played with these nesting Santa's every year…now no one plays with them so I just like to display them.

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I added a new ribbon to the candle I made out of recycled magazines. The bigger bow and green ribbon were a definite improvement.

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Here is my mini collection of wood Santa’s all carved by my Dad. The Snowman was made and given to me by my Aunt Gayle (my Dad’s sister) who passed away this summer. I am so glad to have this little snowman. My Aunt loved to make things. :)

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Love all the Christmas colors in this candle stick ring.

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And my good friend Nicole gave this Snowman to me years ago. He’s the guest of honor in the powder room. :)

Christmas is almost here! Are you ready? Me…not so much. I still have shopping and baking to do and I haven’t wrapped a single gift yet! Help!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hand Painted Christmas Ornaments

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I saw these ornaments a couple of days ago at Pandora’s Box and loved them. Patti did such a great job on them and I love the color combinations she used so much that my daughter and I did the exact same thing. We needed a fun and somewhat easy craft for the First Year College Student because she wanted to make something for her friends. With all the snow that came down we weren’t going anywhere so the timing was perfect as we spent most of the afternoon and evening indoors and painted these funky Christmas bulbs. She surprised me with her painting skills, patience, and talent! :) We personalized each one with an initial. We made 3 “K”s, 2 “M”s, and an “A”, and I think they turned out great!

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I stopped by “Michael’s” early in the morning before the snow started falling for my supplies. I found a box of white Christmas bulbs on sale for $3.99 which was half price. You can use any bulbs you might have on hand and Patty over at Pandora’s Box used clear bulbs. Here are the “Delta Ceramcoat” paint colors that I used: Lime Green, Black, Fuchsia, and Magnolia White. ($1.39 each). I picked up a Sharpie Pen but ended up not using it (will explain why in a minute! ) I found some cute ribbon also half off at $1.50.

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First step was to paint each bulb with the Lime Green paint. We used chop sticks to suspend over some glasses so that the bulbs could dry. (It took 3 coats to get solid coverage.)

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Then we painted round polka-dots with the Magnolia White. (It took 3 coats and a slanted brush worked best for the circles. We made the white polka dots approximately the size of nickels.)

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Then we painted pink polka-dots inside the white circles. (The pink polka dots were about the size of dimes and also required 3 coats of paint.)

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After all of the polka dots dried, we painted on the initials free-hand with black paint. My first bulb I thought I would save time and use a black sharpie pen. It looked great until it came time to spray on the sealer and when I did all of the black Sharpie ink began to run!!! :( I had to make a new one after all that work was ruined!!


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After all the initials dried, I used the round end of the chop stick to paint on the white polka dots by dipping the end of the chop stick into the paint and then touching it on to the bulb. Find something small and round for this step, the end of a pen, the end of a chop stick and I also used the end of one of the paint brushes. I also dipped a larger round end in the black paint at all of the end points on the initial. We then sprayed each bulb with a clear sealer to protect it and to give it a nice sheen. Than AFTER the sealer dried I used a fine tip Sharpie pen to write the year 2009 on the bulb. (Do not spray with sealer again or the date will run!)

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We tied each bulb with a cute pink ribbon and they are ready for delivery! I saw some cute individual ornament sized boxes at Pier One Imports that will be perfect for these. I also think that those cute Chinese Food Containers would also be a cute means of delivery for these as well. And my daughter came up with another good idea. The individual cup cake boxes that you can now buy (I think they are made by Wilton) would also work here and be the perfect size for these. After the roads clear and the snow starts to melt it should be safe driving so that we can get some Christmas shopping in and get our boxes. Thanks to Patti at Pandora’s Box for posting these ornaments on her blog. This project saved us from wandering aimlessly store to store looking for a little something for my daughter’s friends. She is so happy to be able to give these as gifts!

I am linking this post up to Make It For Monday over at Cottage Instincts. Stop by won't you?!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Snow and Peppermint Crunch Cookies

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It snowed all day yesterday and the schools let the kids out 3 hours early. Big fat snowflakes came down for hours and it’s beautiful! Looks like we got between 6 and 8 inches which is a huge amount for around here…and the dog loves it. :) Christmas Snow! We don’t mind snow this time of year since it makes it feel more Christmas-y and it’ll all melt in the next few days anyway. But it is still very cold outside and trying to drive anywhere around here today would be downright dangerous! So I’ll be making a big pot of soup today along with these Christmas cookies.

I made a batch of these last week and they are so very good. Peppermint Crunch Cookies! They were completely gone in 2 days. I used the same recipe that I used on the Mint Chocolate Delights that I posted a few weeks ago. Switching out the baking chips in the recipe made such a different but equally tastee treat! :)

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The “Secret Ingredient” to these great cookies are the Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips. (This recipe is NOT on the back of the bag.)

Peppermint Crunch Cookies

2 Cups of All Purpose Flour

2/3 Cups of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 large eggs

1 10 ounce package of Andes Crunch Peppermint Baking Chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bow. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by well-rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Try one of these with a hot cup of coffee or an ice cold glass of milk. And these are good enough to leave out for Santa! :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Tray of Silver Bulbs

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I found them yesterday and was not quite sure what to do with them.

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So I heaped them high in the tray on my coffee table. And it’s working for me!

But…I am still thinking…

Thanks for all the great ideas that some of you left for me in my “comments” section. I like the Eddie Ross Wreath idea a lot…Might be a fun project for this weekend since we are supposed to get some snow this afternoon and I might be stuck in the house anyway. Time to run out to stock up on milk and bread! Two to four inches is serious around here and could shut this city down!!!! :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hmmm…What Should I Do With These???

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Haven’t had much luck this past week at the Goodwill but I did find these today.  I paid $4.99 which isn’t fantastic but it is a lot better than what I could do at Target.  So any ideas on what I should do with them???  :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bacon and Egg Christmas Treats???

Okay, these are just about the cutest thing I have seen in a long time! They are a cookie/candy that look like bacon and eggs! And I have to thank Kathy at “Sweet Up North Mornings…A Creative Oasis” for them!! Kathy lives “Up North” in my home state of Michigan and she is an artist and posts beautiful photos of everything including her work. A while ago she posted her “Bacon and Eggs” and I couldn’t believe how cute they were and decided they were a fun treat to make for the holidays. Imagine taking a plate of these to a cookie exchange? On Kathy’s post she showed how she serves them in a frying pan!

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Wouldn’t it be cute to find some mini toy sized frying pans and wrap up some of these and give away as a holiday gift??

I found yellow M and M’s at my local “Fresh Market”. Check at specialty food stores where you can buy candy in bulk and you can pick and choose your M and M colors. Picking out only the yellow ones from a regular bag would require a big investment in several bags in order to get enough yellow ones. I only melted half of the white chocolate chips and I got a full 3 cookie sheets full. After making them and the chocolate cools down, they are easy to remove from the foil on the cookie sheets. I would store them in a cookie tin and not in the refrigerator which I think would make them soggy after a while.

Here is how to make them:

Bacon and Eggs Cookie/Candies

1 bag of mini pretzel stix

1 bag of yellow M and M’s (approximately 1/2 lb.)

1 bag of white chocolate chips (12 oz.) (I worked with half of a bag at a time)

Line several cookie sheets with aluminum foil. Set the pretzel stix in pairs on the cookie sheets. In a heat proof Pyrex Measuring Cup, pour in half of the chocolate chips and microwave in 30 second intervals. Stir in between each interval. (It took me three 30 second intervals in the microwave and then I did one turn for 12 seconds and it was perfectly melted.) Use a very small spoon (I used an old baby spoon) and drip a drop of melted white chocolate on the center of the pretzel stix pairs. I did several drips of chocolate and then followed up with placing 1 yellow M and M in the center of the drop of chocolate. After the white chocolate cools and hardens, remove from the cookie sheet to serve or store in an air tight container. That’s it!

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Once you start making these you can start an assembly line with them.

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I was able to get 3 full cookie sheets filled with my Bacon and Eggs and I only used 1/2 of white chocolate chips. I used up all my yellow M and M’s so I will make another batch of these with the other half of the white chocolate chips when I get some more yellow M and M’s.

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After the white chocolate hardened I was able to move them to a serving plate.

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I wish I had seen these years ago when my kids were younger. They would have loved to help make these.

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Too Stinking Cute!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pottery Barn Inspired Burlap Placemats

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What a fun project these turned out to be! My love affair with burlap continues and today I finished a set of placemats that were inspired by Pottery Barn. Numbering every thing is very big in the world of Pottery Barn and I can’t get enough of it! And I needed something to match my napkin rings that I ordered from their catalog a few weeks ago. These burlap placemats were just the thing.

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I made a set of 6 placemats and stenciled on the numbers by hand.

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These are an easy project but I have to warn you that I did have to pull out the sewing machine!

Step 1: I started out by cutting out the burlap. I used one of my old placemats as a pattern for the size. To make your life easier, leave your burlap folded so that you are cutting out your pieces 2 at a time. Do your best to get a neat and even rectangle.

Step 2: Sew two of your pieces together around the entire perimeter of your placemat. I sewed approximately 5/8 inch from the edge on all sides. Doubling up your burlap like this gives you placemat a nice weight and feel.

Step 3: Pull the threads on all four sides at the edges to get your fringed edge.

Step 4: I used my stencils to number each placemat and used a stencil brush and some black acrylic craft paint. I LOVE my new number stencils and ordered them from this website if you need a source:

Helpful hint: Use blue painters tape to secure your stencil to the burlap. I did not use it and one of the stencils moved and I smudged a wee bit of black ink on number 42. :( But, I will bet you didn’t even notice till I told you...right? :)

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These are fun and easy and I love how they turned out. Can you say homemade Christmas presents? :)

I am linking up to Jen’s Tater Tots and Jello for her Holly Bloggy Christmas Bash Party where on Monday handmade gifts will be featured. Stop by for some more ideas on handmade gifts for the holidays!

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And I am linking to Make It For Monday over at Cottage Instincts. Come and follow me over there!

I am also linking to Thrifty Thursday over at Tales from Bloggeritaville. Leigh has a beautiful hand crafted angel on top of her tree for you to see there along with all the other great Thrifty Finds and links. Pop over!!