10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Six

Hello, and welcome to Day Six of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog! Today I am going to show you how to decorate brownies into cute little Christmas trees. It is really simple, but I think they look so sweet (pun intended)!

You will need a batch of brownies, some green icing (or perhaps you could try red, or yellow if you prefer), candy canes (ideally the mini ones) and a small selection of sprinkles or small sweets, like the ones in the photo below…

Once you’ve gathered all of your ingredients and supplies, there are just a few simple steps.

Step 1

Bake your favourite brownies!

Step 2

Once your brownie batch is almost cool, cut it into small triangles. Mine are about 7cm along each edge, but if you are using larger sprinkles, you can cut larger triangles. While you have your knife handy, you can also cut a small (approx. 2-3cm) straight section of candy cane, and put this aside for later.

Step 3

Some stores sell green icing in little tubes, ready to use, which is the simplest option! Sadly, I couldn’t find any when looking this time around, so instead I colored some plain white icing with food coloring to create a nice festive green, and then I popped it into a piping bag. Pipe your icing in a curvy zig-zag, starting at the top of the “tree”, and going from side to side to the bottom of the tree (see photo down below).

Step 4

Next, add some sprinkles (I used the tiny ball sprinkles that were available in festive colors), a star for the top of the tree (or an m&m in this case), and any other decorations you want to add.

Step 5

Take your candy cane piece and push it into the bottom of your brownie tree, to look like a tree trunk…

And that is it! Seriously, how easy is that?! 🙂

I hope you have a chance to give these a try! They might make a fun gift for a teacher or neighbor, or just something different for your dinner one night. The best part is, no matter how you decorate them, they taste simply delicious!

If you’re thinking of giving this a try and making your own… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “10 Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series!


CorrinAbout the Author  Corrin is a member of the creative team here at The Digital Press. She is a fan of the Big Bang Theory and a lover of cozy pajamas. She lives in the breezy South of England with her husband and 4 crazy kids, who regularly discover & plunder her secret chocolate stashes! She is still trying to get the house straight after moving nearly 3 years ago. Who knows… maybe this will be the year she reaches the bottom of the laundry pile!

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Five

Hello, and welcome to Day Five of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog! Today I am going to show you how to use your digital scrapbooking supplies to make a holiday memory album. It’s much easier than you’d think… and so much fun!

Supplies Needed

  • Digital scrapbooking kit (or kits) of your choice
  • White cardstock paper
  • Scissors or cutting machine
  • Other physical scrapbooking supplies, as desired (optional; for adding extra dimensional embellishments, etc.)

For my album this year, I primarily used the digital kit Hello December By Dunia Designs, as shown here…

Once you’ve gathered all of your supplies, there are just a few simple steps. I’ve broken down what I did on a page-by-page basis, below…

Album Cover

  • I chose a patterned paper for the cover, and trimmed it a little bit smaller in order to create a border around that patterned paper background.
  • I also chose two pocket cards and re-sized them in order to fit to my cover as embellishments on top of the patterned paper background.
  • Next… I re-sized, printed, and cut some cute elements and word bits to add on top of the cards from the last step.
  • Finally, I added a piece of pompom ribbon and two enamel hearts (I like to finish a lot of my hybrid projects using some traditional scrapbook supplies; they add more interest and texture to my projects).

Inside Cover / First Page

  • I used a piece of vellum paper behind my front page to soften the first page view and to give more depth and interest to my album.
  • Next, I chose a banner-shaped page from my physical supply stash and decorated it with a card and some elements. I re-sized both the card and the elements in order to them fit to my banner page without making it too full/busy.
  • Finally, I added some washi / glitter tape.

Inner Pocket Pages

  • For the first of my inner album pages, I chose two pocket cards from the digital kit and printed them to fit into my pockets.
  • I added some digital sequins to my 3×4 digital card (see right page, below) and this created a new card. I also glued a border onto my 6×4 card, in order to give balance to the spread.
  • I re-sized some digital elements (including the cute flair button on the right), and I glued these outside the pockets.
  • I typed my journaling before I printed my 6×4 card, and I used a piece of word art as a title.
  • Finally, I added some traditional embellishments… like a cute Christmas tree, a clear holly sticker, a clear word art sticker, and some other bling.

  • For the next spread of pages, I used a page with lots of pockets on the left (to include lots of little individual photos, etc)… and I made a tag insert using a very beautiful patterned paper on the right.
  • I also chose a 3×4 card, which I embellished with a cute printed border.
  • Additionally, I chose some printed elements and put them into all of the non-photo pockets (see below, left side) along with some traditional embellishments like the sequins, the glitter stars, the cute bow, the Christmas twine, a word sticker, etc.
  • I printed my little photos slightly smaller than 2×2, because I wanted to leave a white border around them.

  • Here’s a look at the back side of that fun tag (from above), where I added some journaling…
  • I also decorated my page with pompom ribbon along the right edge/border.

  • Here’s a closer look at some of the small pockets, so you can get a look at the contents I added into each tiny pocket before sewing them shut (as you can see, I chose some patterned papers to be the backgrounds for some of the flat circular flairs that I printed… and the same elements I used in the front of the page. I glued them back to back as well. I used one more cute glittery Christmas tree to create a focal point almost in the middle of the page)…

  • And here’s another closer-up look…

You could repeat different variations of these last few pages I’ve shown you… in order to accommodate as many photos/pages as you like in your own album! You’ll find that it’s so fun to fill the pockets with little decorative objects.

And that is all there is to it! Wasn’t that easy?! 🙂

I hope you have a chance to give this project a try! If you’re thinking of giving this a try and making your own… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “10 Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series!


About the Author  Andrea Albuquerque is part of the Hybrid Creative Team here at Digital Press. Andrea has been a scrapper since 2010 and a photographer since 2012. Although she adores the flexibility and creativity of digital, she can’t resist playing with paper, paint, and embellishments… so hybrid scrapping is the perfect medium for her! She lives in Brazil with her hubby.

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Four

Welcome to Day Four of the 2017 edition of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

Today I’m here to share instructions for making simple, gorgeous (and even kid-friendly!) glitter ornaments! The project only requires a few supplies — all of which are readily available this time of year!

Supplies Needed

  • Clear ornaments (I buy plastic #becausekids & they are found at any craft store during the holiday season)
  • Your choice of glitter
  • Mopping solution (I use whatever I happen to have on hand — today it was Murphy’s oil soap)
  • A dropcloth (not required — but as you can imagine, glitter is messy! I simply laid down some old wrapping paper over our table so I could throw the whole thing in the trash when done)

 

Instructions

  • Take hanger tops off of the ornaments & set them aside.
  • Pour a bit of mopping solution into the ornament & swirl around to coat the inside (this is what makes the glitter stick).
  • Set the ornament upside down to drain (I use an old egg carton) and/or simply pour extra solution into another ornament.
  • Once the excess solution has drained… simply dump in your glitter! (I’ve learned that if you use different types of glitter like we did — use the larger-sized glitter first, and then add the finer glitter last to ensure that the larger pieces have enough surface to stick to on the ornaments).

 

 

  • Shake, tap, swirl your glitter around to coat the inside!
  • Dump extra either back into the glitter container, or onto a piece of paper.
  • Repeat as desired! (I also have my kids ‘sign’ and date their ornament, as it’s fun to look at their previous year’s signatures!) 😉

 

 

  • Voila! Beautiful glittery ornaments in less than an hour (clean-up time included!).
  • TIP: I let mine ‘dry’ overnight before replacing the hanger tops, to ensure that all of the glitter stays in place.

 

 

  • After they’re dry… simply hang on your tree!

 

How gorgeous is that with the lights shining on it?! 🙂

If you’re thinking of giving this a try and making your own… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “10 Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series!


AmieAbout the Author  Amie is a craft-loving dental hygienist who lives in Washington state. She loves her husband, her two kids (ages 9 & 6), and her English Bulldog… as well as coffee, baking cupcakes, daffodils, glitter & sprinkles, reading a good book, and lip gloss — not necessarily in that order.

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Three

Welcome to Day Three of the 2017 edition of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

I’m here today to show you how you can make the cutest (and easiest!) bottle toppers to use for hostess gifts, festive home decor, and more!

In December, my family and I often find ourselves going to all sorts of holiday gatherings for which we bring along a hostess gift. We usually bring a bottle of wine or a lidded jar filled with shiny wrapped candy, but I like to go a step further and dress up the container a bit.  If it’s a seriously last-minute event, this means I end up crocheting a little scarf and maybe a hat for the container while my husband drives us to the event, but if I have a little more time to prepare, I like to make one of these cute festive bottle toppers…

Step 1

Gather your materials, as shown here…

About the felt — for this project, one of those sheets of felt from the craft store works fine, but so do leftover scraps (thus whittling down any accumulated fabric, which is always a bonus in my book!). The most important component here is ensuring that the piece of felt you choose is sufficiently wide to go around the container, and tall enough to get sufficient height on the finished topper (I like mind tall; the end product shown up above is is about 8 1/2″).

Step 2

With the flexible measuring tape, measure the circumference of the container for which you’re making the topper. Add 1/2″.  For a standard 750-ml wine bottle, this measurement should be 4 1/2″; for a regular Mason jar with a canning lid, it’s 9 1/2″.

Step 3

Because I like these toppers to be rather tall, I usually just use the full height (the shorter of the sides of a craft store felt sheet) of whatever piece of felt I’m using. On one of those craft-store felt sheets, that’s about 9 1/4″. Lay out the felt, and along the bottom edge, measure and mark that circumference.  I usually just make a tiny snip with the scissors to make the mark.

Step 4

If you’re satisfied with your straight-line cutting skills, cut a straight line from that tiny snip to the upper corner for a “full height” topper. If you’re not confident that your scissors will obey, then line up a straight edge between those two points and cut with a rotary cutting wheel, or draw a line with a fabric pen and cut with the scissors. If you don’t have a fabric pen, make sure you draw on the back side of the material, and then flip it over before starting the next step so the marker line stays hidden in the final product. Your end result after cutting should look like a tall right triangle.  If you want a shorter hat, just aim for a point further down the long straight edge (remember, though, that you’ll be trimming about an inch off that long edge in Step 5, below).

Step 5

Thread your needle with a piece of thread 2.5 to 3 times as long as the hypotenuse (diagonal line) of that triangle. Fold the hypotenuse over to the long edge, and pin it closed if desired. The bottom edge will not line up correctly. This is okay. Don’t cut anything, as we’ll clean that up in the next step. Starting at the top (this is key!), but about 1/4 to 1/2″ down, whip stitch the two edges together, keeping the stitch depth about 1/8″ and the spacing about 1/8″. Stitch all the way to the short end of the felt, and knot off your stitch so it doesn’t unravel.

Step 6

I usually do a quick fit-check at this point, just to be safe. The topper should be loose enough to fit over the top of the bottle, but not so snug that you really have to shove and tug to get it on (these aren’t skinny jeans!). Once that’s done, I even off that bottom edge by eyeballing a straight line and cutting it off with scissors. Be sure not to inadvertently snip off that nice knot you just made, though.  You can also snip off that top edge too (be sure not to cut off the knot on this end, either, though). Fit-check again; if the topper seems a bit loose, simply fold up the bottom edge (this also reduces the gnome-y look slightly).

Step 7

To embellish or not to embellish… that is the question. 😉

Sometimes I like the rustic elf look, and I just stop here. More often than not, however, I add a bell or a button to the end of the topper, and/or a strip of ribbon or felt as a hat band.

If adding a band, add an extra 1/2″ so you can fold over the outer edge for a cleaner finish. If adding a hat band, make sure that the final result isn’t narrower than the base of the hat.  A too-tight band will warp the hat and it won’t sit nicely on the bottle or jar. Hot glue is probably the easiest way to get ribbon or a hat band on, but it’s more susceptible to breaking with rough handling than a handful of small, independent stitches.  If using fabric glue, don’t forget about the necessary drying time so that you don’t end up getting sticky fingers in the car on the way to the party.

You probably noticed in the first image of this post that there’s a special red “Santa” hat topper. To get the Santa hat effect, I use Baby Bee Lambie Pie yard in “angel”. I cut a length about 12 to 16″ long (fingertips to elbow) and wad it up, making sure the ends are tucked in. Then I wrap white thread around the bundle a few times, and stitch that into the pointy end of the topper.

*TIP* If your felt isn’t really stiff or thick, I recommend folding the pointy tip down about 1/2″ and tucking it into the cone, then sewing on the yarn ball. To get the fluffy hat band, I loosely wrap the Lambie Pie yarn four or five (or more if you want it to look fuller) times around the base, 1/4″ to 1/8″ up from the bottom edge.  I secure the ends and all the loops with white thread in four separate places, each about 90 degrees apart on the circle.

 

And that’s all there is to it — easy-peasy festive bottle toppers! Can you image how cute it would be to show up with a six pack of fancy soda bottles all wearing cute hats like these? Actually, I love that idea so much I think I might just make a few more and put them out on my mantel…

If you’re thinking of trying this project… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum to get details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “Holiday Tips & Tricks.”


caliten

About the Author  Carrie is a creative team member here at The Digital Press. She and her family enjoy spending time outdoors, year-round, near their home in Colorado. In addition to scrapbooking and the occasional hybrid home decor project, Carrie also reads voraciously, accumulates fabric, makes soap, brews beer, grows hops, and tries to keep indoor plants alive.

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day Two

Welcome to Day Two of the 2017 edition of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

Today, we’re reviving a post that originally appeared on The Digital Press blog back in December 2015, written by our favorite photography guru, Farrah Jobling. Farrah was one of the original founding members of The Digital Press’s creative team, but she bid a fond farewell to us here at TDP earlier this year in order to pursue an exciting new career change. Because we still get a bunch of questions about the elusive skill of creating and capturing bokeh when taking photographs this time of year, however, we decided to revive her post as one of this year’s 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks.

As such, here’s a look at her original post in its entirety… 😉


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Most people have their trees up, sparkling with lights… and now they’re wondering about the best way to get some great photos. Getting great photos of holiday lights is easier than you might think! Here is a simple tutorial to get those great shots.

First, I need to tell you a little about bokeh.

Bokeh is defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.” So what does this mean, exactly? In general, it means that while the in-focus parts of a photo are beautiful, the parts that are out-of-focus are just as beautiful. How do we apply this to our holiday lights? Easy peasy… we do what we never plan to do: we take a purposely out-of-focus shot.

The secret to shooting bokeh lies in its definition: out-of-focus points of light. You need four things to shoot great holiday bokeh: (1) pin-point highlights (twinkly lights on the tree), (2) low ambient light (your only light source should be the tree lights themselves), (3) a lens able to open to a large aperture (f/2.8 or wider), and (4) a short focal distance (or rather — enough distance between the lights and where your lens is actually focused).

TIPS:

  1. If you have a tripod, use it; if not, rest your camera on a steady surface.
  2. Turn off all other lights and use a higher ISO. I recommend ISO 800.
  3. Use your widest aperture. I recommend f/2.8 or wider.
  4. Keep your shutter speed high enough to avoid camera shake if you aren’t using a tripod. This will vary based on the amount ambient light available. I used SS 1/400.
  5. MANUAL focus! The key here is to manually take your lens out of focus to force your lens to a shorter focal distance.

 

Here is my example:

 

Don’t have a DSLR? No worries! You can still get great bokeh photos with a point and shoot camera (or even a cell phone camera). The key here is to trick your P&S (or phone) into taking a photo at a shorter focal distance. The answer? Put your camera on macro mode. Macro mode has a little tulip icon. I have an iPhone 6S and use the Camera+ app, which also has a macro mode.

Here is an example using my iPhone:

 

 

BONUS TIP:

Want to get even more creative? Try making shaped bokeh!

To do so, I dug out my paper punches and punched a few shapes into black paper. I also used my DSLR and lens, as I haven’t figured out a way to do this with my phone’s camera.

 

 

First, cut out a circle of paper the same size as your lens…

 

 

Punch a shape in the middle of the circle (fold the paper circle in half if your punch is short and you can’t reach the middle).

Next, tape the circle to your lens as shown below… and then follow the same instructions listed up above for “normal” bokeh photos.

 

Here’s a look at the result… isn’t it fun?

 

 

You can try some other fun shapes too…

 

 

Hopefully, this will help you capture some great bokeh photos this holiday season. Give it a try!

If you’re thinking of trying this… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series!


Farrah
About the Author Farrah Jobling is a former member of The Digital Press creative team who left in 2017 to pursue a fantastic new career opportunity. She remains one of our favorite photography gurus, however, and therefore on occasion we find ourselves reviving her posts. She lives in Denver with her husband Mike; her son Nicholas; her daughter Claire; and her dog, Hope.

10 Holiday Tips & Tricks | Day One

Hello there! Amie here (of Little Lamm Paper Co.)… wishing you a very Happy December and welcoming you to Day One of the 2017 edition of our always-popular 10 Holiday Tips & Tricks series here on The Digital Press blog!

Today I’m here to share a fun “book-a-day” style Advent Calendar that I am doing this December with my son, Ian. I’m hoping this post is early enough to be helpful for anyone who has kids (or book-loving adults?) in their household and still needs Advent Calendar ideas for the upcoming holiday season!

I’m not going to lie… originally, in the beginning, my plan was to wrap up 24 books individually and tag each one with the numbers 1-24… but then I found a really easy (and actually quite fun!) “lazy” way to get this project up and running — an awesome time-saver, and yet still exciting for the recipient!

I was saved from the work (and waste) of endless wrapping by none other than the Dollar Spot at Target (you red card holders know where that is!). There, I found some cute burlap-ish gift bags and bought one to use as a daily “Santa Bag,” of sorts, to deliver each day’s book. I decided to alter one of my own home decor designs — the Arctic Reindeer print — to make an iron-on transfer for the bag…

After making birthday shirts for 6 years now, I definitely have a few tips to share for successful iron-on transfers…

  1. Don’t forget to reverse your image! If the image is not backwards on the paper, it will be on the shirt/bag. 😉
  2. Don’t use the “iron transfer” setting on your printer. This has always come out with fuzzy images on any printer I’ve ever owned. Instead, I reverse the image myself in Photoshop… and I print it out as a photo on matte paper at the best printing level. This gives me a perfect crisp image every time.
  3. LINT ROLLER YOUR CLOTH BEFORE DOING THE TRANSFER! We have 2 cats and a bulldog in our house, and no surface stays clear for more than 2 seconds. Most of my son’s birthday shirts have a cat hair embedded into the image if I forget this step.
  4. Don’t forget to let the image cool completely before taking off the paper.
  5. Save money by planning ahead. I’ve learned not to buy iron-on transfers from local big-box stores like Office Depot, etc. (where I have, in the past, spent $18 on the same item I could have gotten from Amazon for $8).

With regard to the book-a-day part of this Advent Calendar project… I have heard of some people who wrap library books or buy used books (BetterWorldBooks is a great used book source). Some people also just use any stories — they don’t necessarily have to be Christmas-themed!

For our family, we unwrap our last book on December 23rd due to the fact that we spend Christmas Eve with family. On that final night, my son gets a new book and a set of pajamas as his final gift. This year, we got him the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them book because it has a Griffin on the cover (a family name!)… and also some Star Wars PJs so he can wear them to the late showing of the upcoming The Last Jedi movie on his birthday, which is December 26. 🙂

To make sure I remember to re-fill the book bag each night… I have set a reminder on my phone for 9:00pm each night starting on November 30th — and that’s when I put a new book into the sack. Then, the sack will go into the basket with any books that we have already opened…

Every morning when Ian wakes up, there will be a new package under the tree.

In case you need some ideas for books… here are some of my of favorite Christmas/winter-themed books from over the years…

  • Christmas for Greta and Gracie by Yasmeen Ismail
  • The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold by Maureen Fergus
  • Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree by Lori Nichols
  • Bear’s Winter Party by Deborah Hodge
  • Bear Stays Up For Christmas by Karma Wilson
  • The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas by Laura Murray
  • Beyond the Pond by Joseph Kuefler
  • The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi
  • Du Iz Tak by Carson Ellis
  • Harold at the North Pole by Crockett Johnson
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh
  • A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe
  • The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert
  • Olivia Helps With Christmas
  • Walking in a Winter Wonderland by Richard B Smith
  • Wendell The Narwhal by Emily Dove
  • The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy
  • The Lost Gift: A Christmas Story by Kallie George
  • The Great Spruce by John Duvall
  • The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear
  • First Snow by Bomi Park
  • Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant
  • The Little Reindeer by Nicola Killen
  • Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht
  • Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares
  • Walk This World at Christmastime by Debbie Powell

If you’re thinking of trying this… head over to The Digital Press’s challenge forum and get the details about how you can earn challenge points for December 2017 at TDP if you try any of our “Holiday Tips & Tricks” throughout the month as they appear here in this blog series! Additionally, I’d love to see any photos of your December/holiday projects using TDP goodies in the gallery this month, so link me up after you’re finished creating and uploading! 🙂


Amie Lamm

About the Author  Amie Lamm is the designer behind Little Lamm Paper Co. at The Digital Press. She is a work at home mom/graphic artist living in Fargo, North Dakota with her hubby, her almost 6 year old son, 2 lazy cats, and a hyper bulldog. She survives her days with copious amounts of coffee and recorded episodes of Fixer Upper.