DIY: gold vinyl christmas wall decal + Cricut machine giveaway

Gold Vinyl Holiday Deer Head Wall Decal

Well it’s been a few months and the love for my Cricut Explore machine has not faded at all. In fact it’s even bigger with the holiday craft season upon us. So many ideas!! I can’t believe that this is already the last round of the Cricut Design Space Star challenge. If you remember so far I created a cake topper and a holiday card and today I’m sharing this simple but adorable holiday wall decal with you. Keep reading to see more of this piece of holiday art I created plus a chance to win a Cricut Explore of your very own! How great of a Christmas present would that be?!

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Introducing Merry Magazine: A Handmade Holiday Guide

So I’ve never been pregnant but this is the closest thing to giving birth that I can relate to. Today I’m so excited to welcome into the world Merry. She’s my baby. Merry is a 100 page online magazine packed with original and awesome handmade holiday inspiration from myself and some of my talented creative friends. It includes DIY projects, holiday art, recipes, entertaining, holiday home decor, style and an Etsy handmade gift guide. Like human babies, it took more than me to make it happen. I worked with no less than 15 other bloggers to bring Merry into the world and we’re a bunch of proud mama’s.

Merry Magazine - A Handmade Christmas guide / The Sweet Escape

The objective of this magazine is to bring back the handmade element of the holidays. I want you to get lost in the pages and links of great projects then step away from your screen and enjoy those projects and inspiration with some of your favourite people. I’m beyond proud of what the team produced (in an insanely short time) but what’s so great about it is that it’s not totally perfect. It’s a magazine full of real projects by real people who just can’t help themselves from making and sharing. We’re encouraging you to make and share too!

Take some time with a nice tea or coffee to take it all in. In the meantime, here’s a small taste of what you’ll find within the pages of Merry. And if you’re in love with the cover, you can find the full project tutorial below.

Merry Handmade Christmas Magazine Preview / The Sweet Escape

Now you’ll have to check out Merry to find all these and way more great projects!

Full disclosure is that this magazine is a great life lesson for me and maybe it will inspire you as well. I left my full-time creative corporate gig just over a year ago in pursuit of a more editorial career as an Art Director and I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy. This little blog of mine has been growing steadily and I’ve met a million awesome people because of it but unfortunately it’s not enough to pay the bills, know what I’m saying? I’m struggling and the constant job hunt (and rejection) is wearing me down. So what did I decide to do? Well if getting a job at a magazine wasn’t happening, then I would create my own magazine! Make it happen. That’s one of my all-time favourite quotes. So I made it happen and I can’t tell you how awesome it feels. It was a crazy (!) amount of work but it feels pretty awesome and I’m beyond thankful for such a supportive team. So in the name of manifestation I’m putting it out there! If you’re looking for an awesome art director, consider this my resume.

We were super lucky to get the talented Maya Visnyei (last month’s Chatelaine cover photographer!) to help us shoot our cover. Here’s a little behind the scenes from the photoshoot. As you can see it wasn’t a big production..ha! Just Maya and me making some holiday magic.

Merry Magazine Behind the Scenes / The sweet Escape

Big decisions happening here. Should the wreath move up or down 1 inch?

Merry Magazine Behind the Scenes / The sweet Escape

Do you love our cover and want to make it for your own space? Here’s how. First round up some gold thumbtacks. This was harder than I thought. Silver was easy, gold not as much. If you can’t find them at your local dollar store, try Home Depot that where I found these. I used about 1200 and this is a 13″ wreath. Now that was just for half a wreath, double that if you want to go all the way around.

Gold Thumbtack DIY Christmas Wreath / The Sweet EscapeI spray painted the wreath gold so any parts peeking through the thumbtacks wouldn’t look bad then I just started tacking away.

Gold Thumbtack DIY Christmas Wreath / The Sweet EscapeIt takes a bit of time but if you sit in front of the TV or do it together with a friend, it goes by really quickly.

Gold Thumbtack DIY Christmas Wreath / The Sweet EscapeThe trees were a little more complicated only because you really need a saw to cut them out. But if that’s not an option, you could always make these out of foamcore and just make a little easel on the back for them to stand. I used 1″ thick finished pine. I made some simple triangle templates, traced them on the wood and used my brand new circular saw, which I’m totally in love with.

Wood Forest Christmas DIY / THe Sweet Escape

Then mix up some painted washes and paint away. Use some white glue and glitter to add some bling snowcaps if you like. Wood Forest Christmas DIY / THe Sweet EscapeFinish it off with a nice fat silk ribbon (silk will look the prettiest, trust me)  and hang up your beautiful wreath for everyone to see!

Merry Handmade DIY Christmas Magazine Cover Project How To / The Sweet Escape

GOOD EATS: the cutest holiday appetizers ever

How can you look at these adorable little guys and not smile?! I don’t care how old you are, these should be on any holiday party hostess’ appetizer table. Like seriously – look at them! They are almost too cute to eat. Almost. I bet you were just thinking “mmm, a snowman caprese bite or olive boccocini penguin would be delicious”. Well then it’s your lucky day.

This project is just one of many featured in Merry magazine. An online magazine full of handmade holiday inspiration – including DIY, home decor, entertaining, recipes, style and an Etsy gift guide.  Be sure to check it out to see these guys and soooooo much more amazing handmade holiday projects.

Here’s what I call, Snowman Deconstructed. Large size boccocini balls, cherry tomato, rosemary twigs, black peppercorns, carrot.

Snomen Caprise Appetizers Breakdown

Caprese Snowmen Appetizers / The Sweet Escape

And the snowmen’s buddy, Penguin Deconstructed. Small olive, large olive, medium boccocini ball, carrot.

Penguin Appetizer Breakdown / The Sweet Escape

Penguin Appetizer Breakdown / The Sweet Escape

Don’t forget to check out Merry magazine tomorrow for lots more delicious recipes and entertaining tips.

DIY: rustic ribbon holiday gift tags

DIY Holiday Christmas ribbon gift tags / The Sweet Escape

If you’re like me and keep all your crafty scraps then you probably have a bunch of short pieces of ribbon tucked away that aren’t really long enough to be super useful, until now. This really easy DIY is a great way to use up scrap ribbon or gives you a reason to go buy 1 yard of a bunch of different ribbon. May Arts ribbon has an endless selection of options in any style your pretty little holiday heart desires to make these simple gift tags.

DIY Holiday Christmas ribbon gift tags / The Sweet Escape

Pick your favourite ribbons and have some fun with colour and texture combos. I decided to go a little more rustic with the craft paper wrap and some natural materials. You can make your own gift tags like I did from some handmade paper and a hole punch or just buy some blank tags. Then comes the sewing part but don’t worry, it’s just straight lines, no sweat.

DIY Holiday Christmas ribbon gift tags / The Sweet EscapeIt’s easy and it’s made by you. DIY Holiday Christmas ribbon gift tags / The Sweet Escape

DIY Holiday Christmas ribbon gift tags / The Sweet Escape

DIY Holiday Christmas ribbon gift tags / The Sweet EscapeIf you’re looking for some more rustic style holiday craft ideas, check out these great ideas by some of my talented blogger pals.

Rustic Christmas DIY Projects / The Sweet Escape

Santa Cookies from A Pretty Life in the Suburbs

Deer Head String Art from Clean and Sentsible

Vintage Door Advent from The DIY Mommy

Rag Ribbon Christmas Trees from Craftberry Bush

Rustic Christmas Tree from Fynes Designs

Christmas Window Box from Echoes of Laughter

Ribbon Napkin Rings from Suburble

Vintage Table Setting from The Sweetest Digs

Twig Stars and Snowflakes from The DIY Dreamer

Pretty Gift Wrapping from The Sweetest Escape

Rustic Wreath from North Story

Wood Block Presents from The Happy Housie

Winter Swag from Satori Design for Living

photo holiday cards with Shutterfly

Christmas Holiday Photo Cards by Shutterfly / The Sweet EscapeOk, so this post is either going to make you laugh at me, make you think I’m a total narcissist or make you go out and order some cards with you or your family’s face plastered all over them. Hopefully it will be the latter. Here’s the thing – I absolutely love Shutterfly and their beautiful cards but there’s a category missing from their photo selection. You know how you’ll receive all those family, couples or pet photos from friends and family? Sometimes there’s just the kids, not even the parents – like the parents aren’t part of the family. ha..that always makes me laugh a bit. Well the question is, what do you do when you’re a petless single gal or guy? Well I did it people, I ordered cards with just my photo on them. I admit that I ran the idea by a few close friends first to see if it was super creepy but I think I’m really loving them.

Christmas Gold Foil Holiday Photo Cards by Shutterfly / The Sweet Escape

I ordered two versions, you know, just to change it up a bit. I had this photo above from the blog’s 1 year anniversary that I liked and a photo (below) from a mini style post I did last winter which I thought was appropriate for the season. You can find the stunning foil-stamped Happiest Holidays design here and the fun Happy Holiday design here. Of course they both show children, not a grown 30-something year old woman. There’s lots of ways to customize Shutterfly cards aside from the photo. You have a bunch of options for size, trims, colours, etc. that really give you some creative flexibility to make the card your own.

Christmas Holiday Photo Cards by Shutterfly / The Sweet Escape

I know that we live in a really selfie-obsessed society but there’s something to say about printing out and documenting happy  looking moments because it’s inevitable, as we get older we look back on past photos and think “I looked great, why wasn’t I happy with myself then? I’m so much older now!”  Am I alone on this one or not? That’s just one reason I think it’s nice to embrace your current you and go ahead and print yourself on cards and distribute to all your friends & family.

Christmas Holiday Photo Cards by Shutterfly / The Sweet Escape

As you can see, it was easy for me to edit the type and customize with my own name instead of a whole family. Christmas Holiday Photo Cards by Shutterfly / The Sweet Escape

And here’s a close-up of the beautiful foil-stamp. There’s so many gorgeous foil-stamped designs or regular christmas card designs to choose from. Honestly the hardest part is choosing your favourites, that’s why I think it’s nice to choose a couple.

Christmas Gold Foil Holiday Photo Cards by Shutterfly / The Sweet Escape

I also decided to get some address labels because they were so pretty and I’m running low. The labels I picked match my card designs without being overly festive so I can use them all year. I went with the Blessed Striped Labels and the Merry Ever After designs. You know me, I’m a sucker for colour. Shutterfly also has lots of great holiday specific designs and you can even add a photo if you want. And no, I’m not going to tell the whole world my address. Silly.

Custom Return lables by Shutterfly / The Sweet Escape

 

Custom Return lables by Shutterfly / The Sweet EscapeSo? Are you ready to print some of those pretty faces for the holidays? Your aunts & grand parents will love them, trust me. Head over to Shutterfly and check out the lovely card & stationary selection, I bet you won’t be able to resist. There’s some great 30-40% off promotions on right now so it’s a no brainer really.

So I know that was a major spoiler alert if you’re on my Christmas card list but I just had to share. If you don’t get one……..I’m sure it just got lost in the mail, don’t worry.

 

 

BEAUTY: gifts made easy for the beauty lover

Beauty Christmas Gifts and Stocking Stuffers / The Sweet EscapeIronically even though I’m posting this today, I’m a really last minute holiday shopper. What about you? Consider this a seed planted in your brain that you’ll need to remember during that last minute dash before the holidays hit full force next month. I find the best place for last minute gifts is Shoppers Drug Mart because a) they have a little bit of everything and b) there’s one on almost every corner, some open 24 hours. They really help you with GIFTS MADE EASY. They are an especially great gift destination for the Beauty Lover or Luxurious Lady on your list. Or maybe that’s you? It can’t hurt to pick up a few things for yourself while you’re at it.  Here’s some great beauty products that would make any beauty lover happy to pull out of their stocking on Christmas morning.

Stocking Stuffers for the Beauty lover / The Sweet Escape

 

1  Eye Studio Mascara Sampler: This will provide endless hours and reasons to get dolled up and sample each of these mascaras before making a beauty commitment.

2  Quo by Orly 18 piece Mini Nail Polish Set: So many parties, so many nail colours. She’ll be covered with this selection.

3  EOS Rachel Roy Lip Balms: A popular staple in any beauty lovers handbag to keep winter lips hydrated.

4  L’Oreal Colour Riche Eye Shadow (various colours available): some fab colour to help ring in the new year’s eve.

5  Covergirl Lipperfection Lip Colour (various colours available): red lips are a party go-to classic for any party.

6 Fragrance Sampler & Certificate Collector’s Edition For Her (also available for Him)

If you want to plan before you hit the crowds be sure to visit Shoppers Drug Mart’s online GIFTS MADE EASY site where you can shop by price, categories, or the type of person you are shopping for. Once you have your list stop by your local store between November 12 and December 25 and take advantage of lots of in-store sales, promotions, and earning Shoppers Optimum Points for yourself along the way…thank you very much. If you visit the Shoppers site from December 1-24th you can play the Unwrap to Win game for a chance to win 15 daily prizes (360 in total!) given out including beauty, fragrances, skin care sets to toys, electronics and gift cards.

AND – if you’re the type who does their shopping on their smartphone while riding the bus, join the #SDMHolidays retweet to win contest for a chance to win 1of 10, $100 Shoppers Drug Mart gift cards. If you win, you can fill a stocking for that beauty lover or luxe lady on your list! Contest ends November 21, 9:00 a.m. EST.

 

Although this post has been generously sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart, the opinions and language are my own, and in no way do they reflect Shoppers Drug Mart.

 
 * please note that the image source is unknown. If you know the original source, please share and I will update

 

DIY: holiday cheers mimosa bar + $100 giveaway

DIY Holiday Mimosa Bar / The  Sweet Escape

And…..the holiday flood gates are open. I’m not sure if you’ve been following along on Instagram or Facebook but you may have seen me post a few sneak peeks of an upcoming project (#MerryMag). Well I’m happy to announce that Merry magazine dropped today! It’s an online mag jam packed with holiday handmade inspiration that put together with 15 of my amazing and talented blogger pals. Aren’t you pumped? Yeah me too. Well let’s start this party off with a party. Being a great hostess is important but sometimes there’s just too much going on and you just want your guests to make their own damn drinks. That’s when you set up a serve yourself mimosa bar. Keep reading to see how I created this mimosa bar with lots of custom holiday touches.

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LIFE: I dare you to give

So you’re about to get totally bombarded by everything holiday – shopping, crafting, socializing, wish lists, gift guides etc. and this blog won’t be an exception but before we get too caught up in the holiday hoopla it’s nice to pause for a minute and think about giving. Not gift giving, like real life giving that will make a difference in someone else’s life. I know I’m guilty of getting caught up on the fast moving train of life and forget to think about what I’m contributing to my community. That’s why I was totally on board when asked to participate in Dare2Give.

It’s a fact – One the main reasons people give is because someone asked them. Well I’m not asking, I’m daring you to give! Who doesn’t like a good dare? The Dare2Give campaign is asking Canadians to give and then dare others to donate or volunteer with them to make a bigger impact and to make Canada an even better place.

Why I like this campaign so much is because it’s not all about money. Sure, donating money is a great way to give and I still encourage it but if you don’t have money to spare there are so many ways to give, whether it’s your time, talent, or just kindness by helping someone else.

As for me, I decided to give my blood, sweat and tears. Ok, minus the sweat & tears, I don’t think anyone wants those. But I’ve been meaning to donate blood for ages and Canada’s blood bank is in need. They are like desperate vampires for your blood right now. I’ve been hearing some shocking stats recently about how much blood is needed to help accident or health patients and I keep thinking if that was me or someone I loved I would just assume that the resources are there to save them, but that may not be the case if people don’t keep donating. So I made an appointment through Canadian Blood Services and prepared to get the life sucked outta me.

Dare2Give : Giving Blood / The Sweet Escape

Confession. This was my first time giving blood. I tried many times but got turned down for one reason or another (travel, sickness, dental work etc.) so this is the first time I made the cut. They treat you extra special when you’re a first timer.

Dare2Give : Giving Blood / The Sweet EscapeI honestly didn’t realize it was such a production, I thought I would be in and out in 30 minutes. Give yourself at about 1-1.5 hours for the process. But then you get to chill out in these super comfy chairs. I want one in my house.

Warning: turn away if blood makes you queasy. Obviously I don’t have an issue with it because here’s me holding my bag’o blood. Apparently I was super speedy. That blood is pumping fast in my veins. Dare2Give : Giving Blood / The Sweet Escape

Act of giving complete!

Now the whole point of this is spreading the giving by daring others to give. I’m accepting the giving challenge and daring 3 people to give. It can be anything, volunteering to help a neighbour, donating money to your favourite charity, helping at a school/drop-in centre/shelter, running an errand for someone who isn’t able, donating goods to a shelter,  buying a warm meal for someone who can’t afford it, donating food to the food bank, babysitting for a working single mom, etc, etc. etc. So many ways to give, especially this time of year!

So you’re all witness to this dare, right here on the live interweb. I’m daring the following three friends to give:

Kerry  - because she’s very passionate about what she stands behind and I know she can’t turn down a good dare.

Marissabecause she’s a natural born giver and always finds ways to surprise me with her acts of kindness. 

Shannonbecause she’s one of the kindest & uplifting people I know and it will be the perfect way for her to spread her kindness in the brand new city she just moved to. 

Ladies, you’ve been challenged! Remember it can be any form of giving. I can’t wait to hear what you do.

If you’re feeling inspired to give, then I’ve done my job! If you’re not, excuse me, are you human? Well there’s even more motivation. Visit Dare2Give website or see below before December 14 and share your numbers of dares to win for your favourite charity including the grand prize of a television commercial. See, you’re still getting something out of it even when you’re giving. Win-win.

dare-2-give-logo

Although this post has been generously sponsored by Rideau Hall Foundation, the opinions and language are my own, and in no way do they reflect Rideau Hall Foundation.

HAPPY WEEKEND: links to love

happy weekend photo / The Sweet Escape

A pretty fall tablescape by Homey Oh My!

These lamps from Anthropologie just got top spot on my want list. It’s a long list.

This free fall floral menu printable from The House That Lars Built makes me want to throw a dinner party.

Super cute vases spotted on Cup of Jo.

Stunning agate ornaments from Anthropologie.

This string art piece in Em Henderson’s living room is to die for.

A great dining room before & after by Hello Lidy.

How fun are these striped heels?

This is definitely the cutest bathroom idea spotted on A Beautiful Mess.

I’ve been looking for a “healthy” non-crust quiche recipe for ages. I want to try this Asparagus Quiche with Spaghetti Squash crust recipe.

 

 

SPACES: new lights in the new kitchen

It’s happening people, little by little. Today I’m happy to share another kitchen update with you. Today’s before & after is all about lighting. It’s truly amazing how much a light fixture can change the look of a room. It’s like a pretty necklace – it adds so much to an outfit, or a room. Here’s the before pic of the old kitchen light pendant. There’s nothing particularly offensive about this fixture but it’s contemporary look just wasn’t for me. Fun fact, I put this fixture on craiglist and can you believe that the person who bought it was my next door neighbour? As in the person I share a wall with?! Crazy huh?

Wayfair kitchen pendent makeover / The Sweet Escape

And here’s the after. If you remember from my last kitchen update, I decided to go with two of these gold round pendants from Wayfair. I’m super happy with my choice.  They’re a timeless and simple style and without giving away the rest of the kitchen, they also work well with the other gold accessories. They also look great with the cedar railing- they stand out without competing with the feature.

Wayfair kitchen pendent makeover / The Sweet Escape

So electrical is one area that I won’t tackle on my own. I once accidentally got a crazy shock from a live outlet and decided to leave the job to the experts. In this case it was more than just changing out one fixture for another. I went from one outlet to two and did I mention that my loft has 13″ ceilings? Yup, I left the work up to Jeff the electrician. Thanks Jeff for your patience figuring out the right height and space between fixtures. I’m more of a ‘let’s eyeball it and figure it out’ then measuring it. Wayfair kitchen pendent makeover / The Sweet Escape

If you’re digging this look and looking to add a pop of gold in your space I suggest checking out Wayfair. They have sooooooooo many great options to choose from. Here’s a handful of my favourites. 
Gold Statement Lighting by Wayfair / The Sweet Escape

1  ARTERIORS Home Zanadoo Small Chandelier / 2  Hudson Valley Lighting Pelham Mini Pendant  / 3  Crystorama Broche Semi Flush Mount /  4  Selamat Selene Drum Drum Pendant  /  5  Hudson Valley Lighting Lambert Pendant  /  6  Hudson Valley Lighting Bethesda Semi Flush Mount

If changing fixtures is just a bit much to handle at the moment or if you’re renting you can still take advantage of Wayfair’s great selection of lamps. AND there’s also a special 15% off discount on all lamps for Sweet Escape readers from Nov 6-10. Just use the code WFLAMPS15. Here’s a small collection of some I have tagged for my own space that you may like.

Wayfair lamps / THe Sweet Escape

 

1 Dainolite 3 Light Floor Lamp /  2  Adesso Walden Floor Light / 3  Diamond Table Lamp with Drum Shade /  4  Crestview Nina Lamp

Time to light it up!!