Friday, December 19, 2014

How to make paper snowflakes

Early in our relationship, my partner and I decided to get a Christmas ornament each year. We don't like buying the Christmas ornaments that you find in stores. It seems to me that all the collections available are cheaply made in China. The glitter is more in the box than on the baubles, Santa's eyes are drawn on his forehead and angels have dubious things hanging from their backs, that definitely don't look like wings. We like to buy from small businesses or independent vendors at craft shows or online, but we're also learning how to make Christmas ornaments from scratch.

Making a paper snowflake was a simple and fun project done while we were watching TV. I remember doing this paper project when I was in kindergarten, so it really is easy. The most difficult part might be picking the right book to butcher, if you choose to use book pages instead of regular paper. I did, so I picked Jerry Seinfeld's Seinlanguage. Jerry wouldn't mind, and all the jokes are in his shows anyway, so I felt the sacrifice was minimal.

What you need:
3 book pages for every snowflake
sewing thread
a needle
scotch tape

1. Take a page out of a book. 
2. Fold it accordion-style. 
3. Cut the ends into little hearts or stars (optional, but it looks nice). 
4. Fold it in half. 
How to make a paper snowflake :: EuropeanBeautiful
5. Make two more, following steps 1-4. 
6. Tie three folded pages in the middle with regular sewing thread or a thin ribbon. 
7. If the snowflake doesn't stay "open" (this depends on the paper), use scotch tape to attach the separate pieces of paper at the ends. You can also use double-sided tape.  
8. We used a needle and thread to attach the snowflakes together. 
How to make a paper snowflake :: EuropeanBeautiful
If you're making just one snowflake, you can leave the thread long and  use it to hang the snowflake on the Christmas tree. We made three flakes and put them up on a wall. As you can tell, it was really dark when we finished. Which means it was probably 4:30 pm in Pennsylvania. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This the season to buy from a small business

Anna from Door Sixteen is crowdsourcing a list of independent crafters, artists and designers that offer an excellent alternative to shopping in big box stores for your holiday gift. Supporting a small business means supporting a talented artist make a living. I strongly believe that making a living through your art and work should be a viable alternative in this day and age.

 So I combed through the links of talented designers and makers, and picked a few gift options that are made in Europe:

1. Inge of Windward Made offers sustainable fashion accessories and home goods made of fine hemp fabrics. A couple of her creations that I really like:

Hemp and organic cotton tea pot cozy and tea towel. Hand-printed, non-toxic ink and organic fabrics.

Hemp and organic cotton tea pot cozy by Windward Made on EuropeanBeautiful

Hemp and organic cotton tea pot cozy by Windward Made on EuropeanBeautiful

 2. Ella Moe makes mesmerizing kaleidoscopic cards that you can buy in a set of 4.

kaleidoscopic cards by Ella Moe on European Beautiful

3. Boxwood pendants stamped with handmade stamps are a really unique gift made by Judith of  Kiriku Artesania

Boxwood pendants by Kiriku on European Beautiful

4. Yvonne of Mouseblossom is drawing botanical prints on ceramic brooches. You'll know that these mushrooms are in good company, if you look at the other nature-inspired illustrations in Yvonne's shop.

Botanical prints by Mouseblossom on EuropeanBeautiful

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Simple Christmas Trees

I always loved putting up a Christmas Tree. The glitz, the anticipation, taking the ornaments out of the boxes, reminiscing about each and every one of them.

But there are times when a tree may prove too big or too complicated an idea. I remember that before I moved countries, I wanted to keep the Christmas tree decorations as hassle-free as possible. So if you're getting ready to move, or your apartment is too small for a Christmas tree, or you're traveling for the holidays and can't justify decorating an empty house ... these 4 ideas are for you.

Small simple Christmas Tree decorations -

From top, clockwise, we have inspiration from :

1. Live tree in a pot with polka dot hearts and stripped hearts found on Trendenser.
2. Wooden tree with white stars made by Ann Elin from Idyll and him.
3. Advent calendar in the shape of a tree from Home by Linn.
4. Twig Christmas tree with black stars and lanterns from Lekker Fris.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas ornaments from Finland

This adorable house with a Christmas tree next to it is made out of stoneware clay and high fire glazes by Elukka.  

Finnish gingham stocking

Kimara Crafts sells a few variations of this Finnish Christmas stocking upcycled from vintage curtain, medium weight white cotton fabric with red gingham pattern. 

Christmas Ornaments from Finland

These cross-shaped felt bowl by Aika Felt Works are made using an innovative technique for bending felt into shape while maintaining consistent thickness. 
 Green heart garland

 A soft cotton heart garland would make the tree look even more festive and lovely. Sold by Poppy's Home.

5 European Christmas Markets to visit this winter

Christmas markets are one of my favorite places to be in December. I love going to markets because there's no knowing what you're going to find, but you can be sure there will be a feast for the senses. Christmas markets embody all that is right about shopping (beautiful craftmanship and artistry) without the consumerism of malls and chain stores. It really gives a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that you can buy homemade gingerbread, mulled wine and wood carved figurines and, at the same time, help a small business sustain itself.

The first Christmas markets originated in Germany, and dates back to the 1300s. So it's only appropriate that we start our list with a German Christmas market.

1. Munich, Germany

European Christmas Markets
Source: EuropeanBeautiful

The market at Marienplatz, facing the city's charming Gothic City Hall, is the place that becomes a winter wonderland in the heart of Munich. The origins of this market are though to date back to the 14th century, thus making it one of the oldest in Europe. Enjoy festive live music, cooking workshops for kids and a Christmas Post Office (which will send a letter anywhere in the world) between November 27th and December 24th, 2014.

The official website for the Munich Christkindlmarkt  is here.

2. Prague, Czech Republic

European Christmas Markets
Source: From There to There
The Prague Winter Markets are open daily at Wenceslas Square, Old Town Square, Republic Sqaure and Havel's Market starting with November 29th until January 6th. You can buy the famous Czech glassware and jewellery, visit a mini petting zoo and have mulled wine in the center history-steeped Prague.

Find more information on PragueExperience.

3. Innsbruck, Austria

European Christmas Markets

There really is no better way to shop for Christmas than at a market in the Alps. Innsbruck is the host of six Christmas markets this year, for the romantic, the artsy and the gourmand.

Find out the hours of operation and the locations on the official Innsbruck tourism website.

4. Kerststadvalkenburg, The Netherlands

European Christmas Markets - Kerststadvalkenburg, Netherlands
This is a truly unique Christmas market due to the fact that some of the stalls and displays are located in caverns and caves. Until January 4th, you can visit the largest and oldest underground Christmas market in Europe.

More information, as well as brochures and pictures can be found here.

5. Lille, France

Christmas Markets in Europe - Lille, France

About 80 stalls are displaying Christmas goodies at the markets in Lille in Place Rihour. This small but festive market is surrounded by cafes, bars and patisseries.

Find out more information here