EVENTS: Be the Maker Series + Bic Marker Giveaway

Be The Maker Series at West Elm by The Sweetest Escape

I’m so excited to share these photos with you today. If you remember about a month ago I announced that we would be hosting our very first Be The Maker Series with West Elm Toronto? Well I’m happy to say that the sold out event was a big success thanks to West Elm Toronto & its great staff, Bic markers, and of course our amazing guests. Twenty crafty ladies each walked away with a set of seriously stylish one-of-a-kind napkins at the end of the night. Also a big thanks to Andrea from Personally Andrea for photographing the night so I could share it with you today.

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I was a little bit nervous because I had never done something quite like this before but once I started setting up I relaxed a bit. It’s crafting after all and I’m kinda a pro at it. How can you not get excited with a marker spread like this?!?! It doesn’t matter how old I am I still get insanely excited about colourful writing supplies. Thanks to our friends at Bic Canada we had more than a rainbow of colours to choose from for our project. These are from their Bic Mark It Colour Creations 36 pack of permanent markers.  Sweet Escape BeTheMakerSeries 1

The evening started off with a little group huddle so I could show everyone how to marker dye their napkins. Don’t worry I had lots of scrap fabric for them to practice on before they took the leap and put marker to napkin. We used these simple but beautiful linen napkins from West Elm.

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The the craft flood gates opened and everyone was ready to be the maker! There was lots of experimenting with shapes, patterns, colour and design. It was really interesting to see how everyone approached the project a little differently. There was some chatting, laughing and deep concentration happening all at once.

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Thanks to Mildred’s Temple Kitchen for keeping us fed and hydrated during our mini craftathon. The sandwiches and fresh squeezed juices were delish.

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Here’s my set of finished napkins to give you an idea of how great they will look on your dining table.

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And here’s just some of the finished designs at the end of the evening. Aren’t they gorgeous!?! It was a talented bunch, that’s for sure.

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(photo collage by The Sweet Escape)

Overall it was such a great night and I hope my guests had as much fun as I did. Making something is always fun but doing with with your friends or with some new friendly faces is even better. I want to say a special thanks to Carlos, the manager at West Elm Toronto for hosting us all, being so accommodating and spoiling us with some great gifts. And thanks again to Andrea for capturing the evening with her camera. She’s your gal if you need a talented photographer for your next event.

If you’re feeling a little left out, don’t worry, there will be more Be The Maker Series workshops. Make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter so you don’t miss the next announcement.

If you’re dying to try this project at home, I have a special surprise. I’m giving away a pack of Bic Mark It 36 pack of Colour Collection markers to one lucky reader. See below on how to enter.

Bic Mark It 36 pc perm markers

Bic Mark It Giveaway

 

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DIY: gifts that make you smile

Gift wrap ideas using photos / The Sweet Escape

Did you get a chance to check out our gift wrapping ideas in Merry Magazine? Gift wrapping is one of my all-time favourite things to do. Seriously. Even when I was in high school, my friends would have me over so I could wrap their gifts for them and I loved every minute. There’s like a bazillion gift wrapping ideas out there but I guarantee that this one is totally unique. No one will have the same gift wrap as you under the tree (how embarrassing!) because each gift is personalized with a photo. It’s like one of those really simple ideas that makes you say “duh, why didn’t I think of that?!”. Instead of or along with using a gift tag, why not use a photo of your loved one or with you both together to make it even more special.

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First dig through your Instagram feed and #tbt archives from the past year, pick your favourites, and get them printed at BLACKS. You can print and order directly from Instagram using the BLACKS free photo app or your computer…hello easy! I think 4″x4″ square with a border works really well. It’s like a 2 for 1 gift!

Check out the BLACKS website for my post full of photo gift decorating ideas including some more memorable photos of mine. I love them all but the #tbt ones are my favourite.

If you want to keep with the photo theme, why not also give a great photo gift? BLACKS has lots of great options to help you turn your photos into something stylish, artistic, practical or just fun. Here’s some of my top picks. Don’t forget to get your orders placed in time for the holidays!

Photo Gift Ideas / The Sweet Escape

 

 

1 Collage Photo Blanket, from $119.99  / 2  Acrylic Wall Art, from $64.99 / 3  Personalized Ornaments, from $19.99 / 4  Little BLACKS Book, $14.99 / 5  Snow Globe, $19.99 / 6 iPhone 5/5s case (also available in other sizes), $24.99

GOOD EATS: a winter cheese tray for your guests

Winter Cheese Tray for Holiday Party / The Sweet Escape

One of my favourite spreads (no pun intended!) in Merry magazine is the holiday wine & cheese story. When it comes to entertaining there’s so many ideas but you’ll almost always find some sort of a cheese platter, and some wine of course! A cheese platter is so great because it’s a no cook way to serve your guests and it’s the perfect snack for any event, large or small.  Pair it with a nice rich cabernet like the Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon by Kendall Jackson and your guests will seriously never leave. I wouldn’t. I like to overstay my welcome like that, especially when there’s food & wine involved. Stop by the Kendall Jackson blog to see my full post on what you need to put together a wonderful seasonal cheese tray for your holiday event.

Winter Cheese Tray for Holiday Party / The Sweet Escape

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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