How to make a cute recycled gingerbread house tag – tutorial

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To be completely honest, I have a bit of a divided opinion on wrapping gifts. Of course, I do love beautifully wrapped gifts. But I also always am super conscious about the fact that I’m using up resources just to wrap a gift up pretty, that is going to be unwrapped within seconds and then the wrapping is most likely going to be thrown out.

(I personally actually often use wrapping paper or tiny decorations from wrapped gifts in my art journaling and mixed media stash. But of course, I can’t use everything … and not everyone does that, either.)

So, I’m always happy when I find a way to make gift wrapping a bit more ressource- and environment- conscious. Recycling is one of the ways that you can do that. And as I had quite a few cardboard boxes standing around from past orders, I was thinking … why not make some cute recycled gingerbread house gift tags for Christmas?

I enjoyed this so much. It’s a low-key and super relaxing activity. No measuring. No being exact and precise. Just some loose drawing. You can do it while listening to an audiobook or just while relaxing after a stressful day. Light a few candles, brew a nice tea, and just sit down and doodle.

What you need:

– cardboard
– scissors
– white acrylic pen (I love POSCA-pens!)
– hole punch
– some sort of ribbon

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Steps:

1. Cut the cardboard into a house shape. This doesn’t have to be perfect. I did not measure anything and it’s not exact at all. I think if the house is a bit wonky, that makes it even more adorable! To make the house look more like actual gingerbread, make sure that the edges are all rounded.

2. With the white acrylic pen add “sugar icing”. You can draw anything you like. Just doodle! Windows, door, hearts, fun lines, and flourishes… Lots of dots! Here’s a little video, if you need some inspiration:

3. Add a hole with the hole punch and add some cute ribbon!

That’s it! You’re done. Quick and easy!

Do you have some ideas for other easy-to-make gift tags? Leave them in the comments!

In a rush and don’t have time to create your own Christmas gift tags? Then check out the printable reindeer gift tags in my etsy-shop.

 

Tealights with secret message – tutorial

 

Today I have a little tutorial for your for a very sweet gift idea. It’s not my typical “thing” as it doesn’t involve any paints or such … but it’s quick and easy, you can send it via mail and even kids can help. So I just thought I had to share.

As you can see in the photo above I made a little tealight Advent calendar with this idea and mailed it out. But you can also easily create candles with your wishes for a new year for New Years Eve or candles with secret messages, wishes or even gifts for birthdays or just because … I love that the tealights look like ordinary tealights … until you light them and they burn for a while and reveal the secret message.

You have to let the tealights burn for quite some time until all the wax has melted. Then the white wax becomes translucent and you can see the secret message underneath. (Just a little warning – it takes quite some time until all the wax melts. It’s not done in 30 minutes!)

You need:

-tealights
-paper and a dark pen
-scissors
-optional a Candle-Liner

How it’s done:

First you cut out the message. You can print out the pdf below if you like and write your message into the circles. But of course you can also simply draw some circles (a bit smaller than your tealights) on some paper and write down your message on those.

Hint:
I wouldn’t recommend writing your message in the middle of the circles as that’s where the flame of your tealight will be and that might make it hard to read. Also, you should use a darker color to write down your message so it will be easy to read it through the liquid wax. A light pencil does not work too well.
;-)

Once you cut out the message, take the candle out of the metal tealight capsule. Put your paper into the capsule and put the candle back on top. Done!

Hint:
With some tealights you can very easily take the candle out of the metal capsule. With some it takes a bit more persuading. If possible already check when buying them whether you can disassemble them easily. I had some that were quite persistent not to be parted …. so I actually needed some metal pliers to persuade the candle to come out of the metal …

If you wanna make an Advent calendar then you need to make 24 (or 25) tealights with secret messages. Once you’re finished you can write the numbers on top of the tealights with a Candle-Liner. I had a glittery one, which I really liked. But you can of course also use any other color. I think red would also be very pretty for example.

If you just wanna give them as a gift, obviously you can make any number you want. And you can either draw little symbols or such on top – or just leave them as they are. I would however recommend to add some sort of instruction to them when giving them as a gift as they really look just like ordinary tealights and really takes some time until they reveal their hidden secret. And it would be rather sad if the person you gave them to missed their secret message just because they didn’t expect it … and didn’t look.

What do you think of this idea?

Write me a comment and let me know who’d you like to give a tealight with a secret message to?

Or tell me what little gifts that are easy and quit to make you like to give?

P.S. Here’s the pdf – just right-click and choose “save as”. Have fun creating!

Blanc circles PDF

 

Meditating reindeer Christmas cards are here!

Finally they’re here. The new Christmas cards! And this time with a meditating reindeer.

After all, Christmas is not only stressful for us, but for reindeers, too. That’s why they do some yoga and meditation to be able to have a wonderful and relaxed Christmas time.

And if you do feel stressed, too, then just try it! Do a bit of yoga or meditation!
If it helps angels and reindeers, it’s gotta work for you, too. :-)
And afterwards you can finish wrapping the gifts … relaxed …

I’m especially excited that I was able to get the new cards printed on the lovely mother of pearl cardstock I love so much. It has such a gorgeous shine to it!

Unfortunately my photography skills aren’t good enough to show that shine off. :-( But if you have ordered Christmas cards from me before you might be familiar with it’s wonderful look and feel.
(Not all of my Christmas cards are printed on it. Some had to be printed on linen-cardstock as the mother-of-pearl cardstock wasn’t available when I got cards printed last time. So I’m super excited that it is again available now.)

And in case you’re curious how this Christmas cards actually developed … here are some snapshots. :-)

From the first sketch to the “salted reindeer” and to coloring … I had so much fun creating this. I hope you’ll have just as much fun writing and sending them off.

They are available in my etsy-Shop – of course with matching envelopes – either as single cards or in a more afordable set.

And of course the “old” Christmas card designs and Christmas postcards are also available. And if you’re rather stressed about the idea of having to write Christmas cards, why not read my five tipps to make it a calming ritual.

I’m wishing you a wonderful and relaxed first of Advent!

And if you have ideas or suggestionsn for me what kind of Christmas card motives I should create next year – just let me know in the comments! :-)

An Advent Angel just for you (free download)

An Advent Angel just for you (free download)

Yesterday we celebrated St. Nicholas’ day. Do you celebrate that day?

(If you don’t know about that day at all, you can read a very short description of it in this blogpost.)

I love that day and the story about St. Nicholas alot. And eversince we added the tradition of putting cookies and milk out for St. Nicholas and his horse – I love it even more. ;-) I’d actually prefer tea to milk, but oh well …

And you know what – St. Nicholas left a little present FOR YOU with me. Look! A little angel! Just for you!

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To download right-click HERE and choose “save as”.

The little angel wants to remind you that during Advent- and Christmas time you should take good care of yourself. If even angels need to meditate in order to stay sane during Christmas season – why should we think that we can do it without “help”?

No, you don’t have to meditate, if that isn’t your thing. Even though I would highly recommend to anyone to try it. ;-) But you should definitely take time for yourself.

Time to figure out what is really important to you during Christmas.

Time to listen to yourself. How are you doing?

Time to decide what you wanna say “Yes” to and what you would rather say “No” to.

Time for selfcare.

Time to just enjoy the moment. Read a few lines in a good book, take a hot bath, have a good cup of tea …

A few minutes a day can make such a difference and can help to break free from all the rush that Advent time often brings. And that’s what this angel wants to remind you of.

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To download right-click HERE and choose “save as”

You can print out your angel and put it in your wallet, calendar or on your mirror. So every time you see it you are reminded to take a bit time for yourself.

Or you can also send it via email or on your social networks to your friends to wish them a wonderful Advent- or Christmastime. Just as you like.

And if you’d rather send “real” angel postcards or cards – there are still a few in the SHOP. ;-)

So, do you have a St. Nicholas tradition?

NEW Folded Christmas cards 2016

Finally the new folded Christmas cards have arrived as well and I quickly put them in the shop. (If you happen to be looking for Christmas postcards, you can find that post HERE.) As the mother-of-pearl cardstock unfortunately wasn’t available anymore I had to choose a new one. The new cards are printed on linen textured white cardstock.

(If you fell love with the mother of perl cardstock that I used last year – there are still a few of those folded cards left, too. You can find the designs when you scroll further down.)

Folded Christmas cards

– printed on 280g linen textured cardboard –

 – gorgeous silver envelope is included –

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Calm Christmas Angel – folded card available HERE

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Snowglobe Angel – folded card available HERE

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Weihnachtswünsche – folded card available HERE

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Calm Christmas – folded card available HERE

The cards printed on mother of pearl cardstock still available in the shop are the following:

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Angel hug – folded card available HERE

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Christmas hug – folded card available HERE

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Calm Christmas – folded card available HERE

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ChristmasTREE – folded card available HERE

And there is also the mix and match 5-pack of folded Christmas cards – you pick any 5 folded cards for 9.90€!

Just go HERE – and don’t forget to tell me which cards you want during the ordering process. ;-)

Now, do you have any suggestions or ideas for new Christmas card designs for next year?

Can’t wait to read your comment! :-)

 

NEW Christmascard postcards for 2016

NEW Christmascard postcards for 2016

It’s November already. Time seems to fly. It doesn’t feel at all like Christmas to me, but I know that it’ll come quickly – so here are finally the new Christmas postcards for this year.

If you’re more interested in folded cards – you can find some folded cards from last year in the shop. The new ones will be out next week. If you don’t wanna miss it just sign up to my newsletter.

If you have ordered Christmas postcards – or any postcards – from me before – these are different. :-) After having tried different printers I finally gave in and did try out moo.com. I had to let go of the rounded corners that I was rather fond of. But they are printed on thicker cardstock and have an easy-to-write-on back. I figured that’s more important than the rounded corners. Even though they would have been nice. :-)

Christmas postcards

– printed on 330g thick  cardstock –
– matte finish –
– 14,8cm x 10,5cm –
– easy to write on back –

I added two new designs:

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“Calm Christmas Angel” – postcard available HERE

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“Calm Snow Angel” – English version – postcard available HERE

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There is also a German version of this card :-) – just in case you have some German relatives – postcard available HERE

And of course my designs from the last years are also available:

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“Calm Christmas” – postcard available HERE

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“ChristmasTREE” – postcard available HERE

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“Christmas Wishes” – postcard available HERE

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“Weihnachtswünsche” – again a German card – postcard available HERE

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“Christmas Hug” – postcard available HERE

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“Angel Hug” – postcard available HERE

If you can’t decide which postcard to buy – you can buy a pack of 8 and pick your favorites. (And save some money while doing so as well.) You can find the Christmas postcard set, where you can pick 8 cards of your choice HERE.

Just a little warning: I ordered 50 postcards of each design and I won’t be able to reorder this year. So if you really like a card, please order as soon as you can. Once they’re gone – they’re gone.

And again, if you wanna be informed when the new folded cards are in the shop, sign up to my newsletter HERE.

Now I’m curious – which of the postcard designs is your favorite?

You’re a star – mixed-media star ornament tutorial

A little while ago I made a bunch of origami stars out of old book pages.

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Even though I really liked those stars I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if I add a bit of paint, a few stitches with my sewing machine and some words. ;-) So I finally tried it ….

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… and loved it so much, that I made some more.

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I’m planning to use some of them as tags on Christmas gifts, some will go on a little Christmas tree and the rest will probably looks sweet in a window.

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If you wanna create your own mixed-media stars, you can. Just for you I filmed how I made them.

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But first, here’s a list of what I used. Of course, please feel free to swap out stuff or simply use what you have on hand. This is meant just as an inspiration.

List of materials:

-origami star made out of old book pages, instructions on how to fold the star can be found HERE
-gesso (alternatively white acrylic paint)
-sewing machine
-silver acrylic marker or acrylic paint
-white acrylic paint
-materials for mark making like old credit card, little tube cap, piece of drinking straw or similar
-decoupage glue or matte medium (if you don’t have either you can use any clear drying glue)
-printed out words or similar, scraps of fabric
-little silver stars or similar decoration
-button
-wire
-little glass bead(s)

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And this is how I made the stars:

I’m wishing you lots of fun making stars! If you make some, I’d love to see them! :-)

And if you have any questions, just ask in the comments!

Christmas card writing as calming ritual – with 5 tips and my Christmas card collection

I love Christmas. And I love writing Christmas cards. The first one has always been that way. The latter … not.

Eversince I was a child I loved to write. Letters, cards, diary, everything. Still, there have been a few years when I did not write any Christmas cards at all. Why? Cause it was additional stress in an already stressful time of year.

A few years ago I started to say NO alot more often during Christmas time. No, I won’t bake 20 different kinds of cookies. No, I won’t attend every Christmas party. No, I won’t go to every Christmas market or fun sounding activity with my kids.

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Christmas card “Calm Christmas” – available HERE

Interestingly at about the same time I started saying YES to writing Christmas cards again. :-) Why?

Cause it turned into a little ritual that helped me to be more calm during Christmas time. Slowing down. Enjoying the moment. Fountain pen in my hand, steaming tea in front of me, cuddled up in a blanket, candle burning … A few minutes just for me and the recipient of a card in a busy time. :-)

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Christmas card “Angel hug” – available HERE

Even though I don’t write a huge number of cards, I still never write all cards in one sitting. I take my time. And each time I sit down to write a few cards, I get more into the Christmas spirit.

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Christmas card “Christmas hug” – available HERE

If you wanna create a little calming ritual with your Christmas card writing for yourself – here are a few suggestions:

1.Start early to get everything to gether that you’ll need – cards, stamps, address labels, favourite pens, stickers or other embellishments, tea, cookies, chocolate … ;-)

2.Only use things that you truly deeply enjoy. Use your favourite mug for your tea. And have a cup of that special tea, you’re saving for special days. Light a candle. Use cards that you enjoy – the picture and the feel of them. Write with a pen you love.

3.Have everything you need for your little Christmas card writing break in one place. Nothing disturbes the mood like having to search for that one pen, the stamps or the ink … while your tea is getting cold.

4.If you like involve your family and create a little family tradition. I personally like to have the writing time just for myself. But my kids love to help sticking stamps and address labels onto the envelopes.

5.Take your time. There are probably only few people that enjoy the prospect of writing 30 cards at once. No matter how much tea is involved. ;-) So, only do as many cards as you truly enjoy. I for example tend to write around three cards in one sitting. If you’re rushing it, it’s no fun – and definitely not calming – anymore.

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Christmas card “ChristmasTREE” – available HERE

Addtional idea:

You can try to find something that will make your Christmas card writing time extra-special for YOU. Maybe you’ve been meaning to learn handlettering or calligraphy? Wouldn’t that be the perfect time to do so? You’d definitely have lots of opportunity to practise. Do you enjoy being creative with others? Check if you can join a workshop in your town on making your own Christmas cards. Do you like to paint, draw, take photos … all those things you can bring into your Christmas card writing. They will not only add a wonderful extra-personal touch to your cards, but will also make the time even more enjoyable for you.

And if you try all these things and you still can’t stand writing Christmas cards?

Then I hereby give you permission to not write any. The world won’t stop turning – I promise. ;-) It’s your life and your time. You are the only one who decides how you wanna spend it.

But if you are in the mood for some Christmas card writing and could use some special cards, I have a special offer for you in my shop this week:

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If you buy FOUR sets of Christmas cards (each contains 5 folded cards that you can pick) – then I will gift you a fifth set. All you gotta do to take me up on that offer is order 4 sets until the 22nd of November, 2015 and pick the cards you want. (While ordering you just tell me how many of which cards in the comment field.)

Now I’m curious, do you write Christmas cards? Do you enjoy it – or is it a dreaded must?

Do you have any additional ideas for me and my readers how one can make Christmas card writing a calming ritual?

Favourite Christmas cookies – Ginger cinnamon cookies

Favourite Christmas cookies – Ginger cinnamon cookies

I love Christmas and I love Advent and of course I also love … Christmas cookies. :-)
During the last couple days I was baking with my kids and these ginger cinnamon cookies are one of our favorites. And since I was asked for the recipe a couple times already I will be sharing it here and now. Lucky you. ;-)

Ginger Cinnamon Cookies

*gluten-free *refined-sugar free
(If you would love to save and print the pdf of this recipe, please keep scrolling.)

ginger-cinnamon-cookies-ursula-markgrafIngredients:

3/4 cup butter softened
1/2 cup coconut sugar (granulated)
1/2 cup palm sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour mix
1/2 cup chocolate chips – or more ;-)

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1. Stir together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt.

2. In another bowl beat butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy. (If your sugar is in pressed form – “cakes of sugar” – chop or grind finely before adding to the butter.)

3. Add egg and vanilla to butter mixture.

4. Add flour mix to butter mix and stir together.

5. Add chocolate chips and stir until well incorporated.

6. Chill about 1 hour.

7. Preheat oven to 350F. Roll dough to 1/4inch thickness. Cut out cookies.

8. Bake 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned.

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Tips and alternative suggestions:

-sugar:
In this recipe I use a mixture out of granulated coconut sugar and pressed palm sugar (sugar cakes). As the palm sugar is pressed I simply use a knife to cut it into small pieces – kinda like cutting up chocolate – and measure it then. Once I mix it together with the butter I mix it really long – so it starts “blending” a little. It does not dissolve completely though. But my kids totally love the tiny caramelized sugar blobs in the cookies, so it does not really matter. :-)
You can also make the cookies just using granulated palm sugar or brown sugar.

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-vanilla extract:
We make our own vanilla extract out of used vanilla pods. Kinda like recycling. ;-) You can also simply scratch out a vanilla pod or use vanilla sugar.

-gluten-free flour mix:
We mix our own blend: 600g rice flour, 250g potato flour, 150g tapioca starch, 2 tsp carob gum, 4 tsp psyllium husk

-chocolate-chips:
I try to use chocolate that has no refined sugar added to it (and no milk for that matter). Here in Germany that is not easy. I do order online or buy raw chocolate. But for baking I sometimes also buy really dark chocolate that has only very little sugar added to it and I prefer the ones that use raw cane sugar. I do not usually like eating really dark chocolate but in the already sweet cookies it does blend in nicely. As those chocolates come in bars I just chop them up in small pieces. Done.

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I hope you will have alot of fun baking. And in order to make it even easier – here is the recipe in pdf-form (letter-size), so you can just download and print. If you prefer A4-size, download HERE.

Ginger cinnamon cookie recipe by Ursula Markgraf

Just right-click, choose save-as, save – print – done. :-)

Happy baking! And what are your favourite Christmas cookies?

 

Some gifts from St. Nicolas – for you

"Calm Christmas" - mixed media art by Ursula Markgraf

Today on the 6th of December we celebrate St. Nicolas day here in Germany. It’s a sweet tradition – I think – that goes back to the story of a good man called Nicolas (who became bishop) who gave the poor money. The story says that he would sneak up on the roof at night and throw little pouches with money down the chimney … and the money would end up in socks and shoes that were put on/near the chimney to dry.

So to celebrate that day kids have to clean their shoes and put them near the door in the evening of the 5th of December. Then the Nicolas will come at night and put small treats, candy, nuts and oranges or little toys in there. Of course my kids totally love that day and are totally excited about it.

But I also wanted to give YOU something, so I created these little pictures with my art-work on them that you are free to download and share in your newsletter, on your blog, on facebook, on twitter … or wherever you might hang out in the virtual world. :-) If you wanna link to my site that would of course totally thrill me, but it is not required.

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To download just right-click on the file you want to save – choose save as – and pick the location where you wanna save it. Then share and spread a bit of joy and calm around. :-)

Have a wonderful St. Nicolas day! xxx

P.S. And if you need some special Christmas cards, you can find some right HERE. I ship worldwide. ;-)

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