Handpainted Eye of Sauron Holiday Ornaments!

He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake… 😉

Last year, I designed and made an Eye of Sauron pen holder for a convention booth. After the event, I looked at it and thought “That would make a great Christmas ornament design!”… and here we are!

Perfect for any Tolkien fan on your gift list, this ornament will add a special something to any geek’s holiday tree – Lord of the Rings themed, or not. Go ahead, hang it next to a TARDIS, it’s all good!

Ornaments are all hand painted on plastic (I’m a cat owner. I can’t wrap my head around glass ornaments hanging from a tree!), are durable, and look great!

The “eye” is painted on both sides of each ornament, so it looks great from multiple angles.


Due to the hand painted nature of these ornaments, no two will be alike – expect some variation from the photos shown. Order before December 12 for delivery before Christmas, US only. To order, visit our Etsy page, HERE


2.5″ Diameter Ornament



3″ Diameter Ornament



3″ Diameter Disk



Set of 10 2.5″ Ornaments


Tolkien Fan? Be sure to check out these other posts:

The One CHEESE Ring
How to make a Hobbit Hole Cat Shelter
Caturday: Tolkien edition
How I Made that: Dwarf Wig
So I’m Dressing My Husband up as Thranduil…
The Two Week Thorin Costume!
Thorin Costume!
How to make Thranduil’s Crown
Smaug the Terrible… I mean, Terribly AWESOME.
I am Fire, I am FRUITY – Smaug Fruit Bowl
Smaug Costume
Doing the Elf Meme Thing…
Gandalf the Fabulous


Maple Leaf Roses

This weekend, we went up the shore to Duluth, to enjoy the fall colours. Managed to not take any photos of anything, somehow… but we DID collect some leaves. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making maple leaf roses for the past couple years, ever since seeing them popping up on Pinterest. October is usually my busiest time of year, but with my elbow injury preventing me from sewing… I finally had some free time.

These came together pretty quickly once I figured out what I was doing. All told, it took about 1 hour from the time I first sat down. I soaked the leaves overnight, let them dry to the touch in between paper towels, and then went to it. I folded and wrapped them around lengths of florist wire, using floral tape. Once they were all done, I soaked them with some serious hairspray, and let that dry.

I love how they turned out – a gorgeous bit of fall colours right in my living room! These would be so pretty as wedding bouquets or centerpieces – they did lose some of their vibrancy overnight, though. Thankfully, my husband took these beautiful photos while it was still bright and fresh!

What do you guys think? Any plans to make a set yourself?

“Nerds” Wedding Favour Boxes – a Free Template!

Ever since posting about it a few years ago, this post about the wedding favours my husband and I made for our wedding has been one of THE most popular entries on this blog. Not only was it a cool idea for wedding favours, it would also work well for birthday parties, graduations, and more!

Since then, I’ve had a lot of requests for doing custom boxes for people (I’m not comfortable doing so, because of IP issues!), and some requests for the file itself.

Well, I’ve finally dug out one of my original files, and am making it available for download! The file is 4MB, click here to download it.

Please note: I am offering this as a free, standalone resource. I am unable to offer any design assistance or trouble shooting, beyond the information contained in this blog entry. Thank you for understanding.

Here is what you will want to do (more or less!)

1. Open it in Photoshop.

2. Change the background colour to one more appropriate to your own event. Delete the background copy layer (just left it in there as an idea of what looks good for texture). If you’d like a textured background, go for it. (Works best with a really small, fine texture)

3. Edit “Website or greeting here” to… well, a website or greeting. 🙂

4. Swap out the flowers for flowers more appropriate to your wedding, or – for other events – something else. Maybe a birthday cake, etc? Use a high res image for best results.

5. Change the colours of the dresses and bowties, if desired.

6. Personalize the Name(s) and date for your own use. Also, feel free to change the wording of the greeting on the back of the box.

7. Make sure everything is as you want it, save the psd file as is (just in case), then convert to JPG and save it as a different file. It should look more or less like

…. with your own design added, of course 🙂

8. Obtain a template for a large postcard from your choice of printer – we used VistaPrint, with their “Oversized Postcard” option.

9. In Photoshop, select all for your completed design, copy and paste it to the printer’s template. Center it, making sure to keep it within the safe space guidelines provided. Delete the guidelines layer (if applicable), flatten and save.

10. Order your prints. I HIGHLY recommend ordering 50% more than you think you’ll need – this will allow for cutting/assembling mistakes, accidents, last minute extras needed, and keepsakes.

11. Order your choice of filling. We were able to find a company that sold Nerds candy in bulk – so much easier than buying retail boxes and transferring the contents!

12. When your print order arrives, use a slide cutter to trim the postcards to the outer outlines of the box.

13. Use very sharp, pointed tip scissors to trim all of the little “v” cuts, etc. (We used small scrapbooking scissors)

14. Using the dull/blunt attachment for your slide cutter (you may need to purchase this separately), score all of the fold edges.

15. Fold all of the boxes.

16. Glue the boxes together at the side flap.

17. Glue all of the boxes together at the bottom flap. Allow to dry completely.

18. Fill the boxes about 2/3 full, glue the top flap closed.

… and that’s it! It’s a bit of effort, but VERY much worth it!

Wedding Stationery Inspiration – Florida Keys

Now that “engagement season” is over, I’d like to pause the food talk to bring you a little wedding inspiration.

When our friend Lisa got married in late 2011, we were floored by her invitations. Wedding stationery can be so.. stationary. Some of the invite catalogs out there are hawking the same designs they sold in the mid-late 90s (literally), and so many invites I’ve seen during my time in the industry are just so .. blah.

To me, wedding stationery should give a bit of a hint about the event, beyond just words. When you look at a GREAT invite set, you should be able to see the couple in it. With a great invite, you can feel the love and care that went into it, and know that the couple really values your presence at the event.

When I got Lisa’s invitation in the mail… I’ve never been more excited to attend a wedding in my life. I knew that it was going to be a thoughtfully planned event, and a truly memorable wedding.

Unfortunately, post-tornado budget issues got in the way, so I had to live vicariously through the raves of mutual friends who HAD attended. The wedding had lived up to the invitations!

Let me show you the stationery that instantly won my heart:

Says Lisa:

“We wanted something different, something that no one else would have, and that worked with our literary theme. Invitations set the tone for your event, and it was a good opportunity to let people know that we wouldn’t be having a standard “wedding industry” wedding. The mad-libs style RSVP was a second clue.

We sourced all of the invitation materials from library supply houses, and I did all of the graphic design. We did our own envelope liners in several styles from a recycled encyclopedia, comics and maps, and hand stamped all the envelopes. The invites were hand stamped by my friends one afternoon (we also put stems on 300+ hand-folded paper flowers that day, but that is another story).

We loved our invitations, and we are still getting comments on them today”

Sigh! I wish we still had the envelope ours came in – it was lined with a recipe from a magazine!

So, there you have it – my favorite wedding stationery ever. What is the coolest invite YOU have ever seen?

Candied Rims for Cocktails

As you may have guessed from my recent Birthday Cake Martini post, I am a big fan of customizing beautiful, flavorful rims for cocktails.

In addition to the added visual interest, customized rims can add a great pop of coordinated flavor to your chosen cocktail. A great drink suddenly becomes memorable – garnishes can go a long way to establishing a”signature” drink for your wedding, party, or other special event.

While it’s not the most common application out there, I love to use crushed hard candy to rim cocktail glasses. They work particularly well for my taste in drinks (“Diabetes in a glass”!), and I love the way it looks. Candy color and flavor can either match or contrast with the drink, and bring a bit of sparkle to the presentation of it. Also, the possibilities are almost endless!

Use crushed peppermint candies or candy canes (Great for holiday drinks!), black colored hard licorice flavored candies (Ouzo shots!), fruit flavored candies for a jeweled look, hard caramels / toffees (perfect for a Candy Apple Martini!)… cinnamon candies, coffee flavored hard candy on a chocolate or Kahlua based cocktail…

See what I mean? Tons of possibilities!

Candied cocktail rims are quick and easy to do, and the technique comes in handy for my NEXT blog post 🙂 Have fun with it!

You will need:

Hard candies
2 small plates
Corn syrup
Martini glasses

1. Crush your candies. I like to use a mortar and pestle, but there are many ways to do this – food processor, rolling pin, hammer, etc. You will want any chunks to be relatively small, or they’ll just fall off. Alternatively, you can crush the candies down to a powder, for a less chunky look.

Once candies are crushed, spread them out on one of the plates – you’ll want to use them fairly soon – moisture in the air will make the crushed candies sticky.

2. Pour a small amount of corn syrup onto the second plate. carefully twirl the very edge of a martini glass in the corn syrup, until the edge is coated the entire way around the rim.

3. Hold the glass above the plate and allow any excess corn syrup to drip off of the glass. Take your time – extra syrup will run down the side of your glass, not hold the candy securely to the rim!

4. Twirl the edge of the rim through crushed candies, gently pressing down to secure.

5. Fill glass with cocktail of your choice. Enjoy!

A Special Geeky Wedding Cake

Let me preface this with a reminder that I am NOT doing wedding cakes – or any other cakes – for order anymore. I burnt out, there is no amount of money that could convince me to take an order.

Carrie and Otha get a very, VERY rare exemption to that rule, however. They’re good friends, and this weekend I made their wedding cake. Carrie and Otha aren’t traditionalists (unless we’re talking certain aspects of geekery!), and their cake would need to reflect that. At a quick, casual design session, it was decided that I would be making a Transformers themed cake for them.

As an accomplished comic book artist, Otha was VERY detailed in drawing up reference sketches for the fondant Optimus Prime that would be down on one knee atop the cake. Rather than holding out a ring box, he would be holding up a Matrix of Leadership. Awesome, right?

I was SO nervous! The sketches were so detailed, I was worried that I would never be able to live up to expectations.

As we hadn’t even discussed what the main cake would look like, I wanted to surprise them with something more detailed than whatever they were picturing – probably a sheet cake. (Seriously, the focus was ALL on Optimus Prime). What, though? I don’t know anything about Transformers! I saw the recent-ish movies, but all I really remember from either was Leonard Nemoy having a Spock quote as a line in… the second one?

Luckily, I have friends of every conceivable flavor of geekdom. I polled some friends who are fans of the old-school Transformers cartoon series. So glad I did – I was thinking “Well, the AllSpark thing was a cube, I could just do that…”. I was given the very sage advice of:


Good enough! We settled on a base dome shaped cake representing Cybertron. Well, half of Cybertron, anyway. Source material photos online showed that this could be extremely complicated… but hey, any excuse to whip out the edible metallic airbrush spray, right?

Whew. The whole time I made it, I was worried that my Cybertron would not be recognizable as such, or that I was making a wrong version, or… I don’t know. It’s stressful to make cake for people that I actually know! Beyond Cybertron, I also made “metallic” gold fondant roses to surround Cybertron, both to cheekily “wedding-it-up” a bit… and, again, metallic airbrush. What can I say, I must have been a magpie in a former life!

I guess I didn’t need to worry – the cake went over incredibly well, both inside and out. I had to let out a huge sigh of relief when Otha IMMEDIATELY commented on the cake being Cybertron.

The cake was cut, and both bride and groom went straight for the peppermint flavored fondant as their first bites. I’m pretty sure that I’m the only caker I know, who has people get like that over their fondant. People were diving into the fondant all around me, and going back to claim fondant roses as well! (Want my fondant recipe? It’s included in my cookbook, “Evil Cake Overlord“)

Inside all of that were layers of moist vanilla bean cake with chocolate-peppermint Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Yum! Looked great, tasted great, AND I got to say that I was giving them a wedding gift that money couldn’t buy!

Congrats again, Carrie and Otha!

More Silk Florals

When preparing to post my How to make silk flower pomanders tutorial the other day, I was disappointed to find out that we had apparently lost photos of my more recent Twin Cities Pride Festival floral designs. Between a move, a tornado, and the folders on one of our servers getting jumbled… somehow the photos got misplaced.

My husband noticed how bummed I was about it – I really loved the more recent florals. As many of them had been stolen from the site that year, the photos being gone just seemed even more tragic. He scoured the various computers and flash drives here, and finally found them! So, even though it’s a bit belated, I want to share the photos with you, as another example of what can be done with silk floral pomanders as outdoor wedding decor.

This set of floral designs was done as a rush job. It’s kind of a funny story, even if that was NOT the case when it happened.

I arrived at the festival to set up, and we found out that the previous commitment ceremonies coordinator had accidentally THROWN OUT the florals I’d donated a couple years before, after the previous year’s festival!

So, with only a day to not only set up, but now also redo the entire floral design scheme for the ceremonies area, the festival armed me with a credit card, and I raced to a local silk floral wholesalers. With NO idea what would be available when I arrived, I had to cobble together a color scheme on the spot! I found several varieties of silk flowers in colors that worked well together – mostly hydrangeas, roses, and ivy – picked out my whole order, and rushed home for a LONG day of floral arranging.

With the help of my friend Susi, we managed to turn out the entire thing in record time, and were able to set up at the ceremonies site that very afternoon. Whew – what an adventure! Given what all was involved with the creation of this floral set, I’m doubly happy that the photos were eventually found! I love how they’re very pretty, almost serene looking… but *I* know the panic that went behind them. It makes for an interesting contrast of emotion for me!

These florals were all done using the same techniques as described in my earlier tutorial, with minor variations in technique:

– The pomander hung across the aisle had a very long ribbon run all the way through it.

– The domed arrangement with the draping behind it was done on one half of a larger styrofoam ball. I had cut it in half and poked two holes in it, from the center of the dome, through to the center of the flat side. I folded a long ribbon in half, feeding one end through each of the two holes and out the back. I then decorated the domed half of the ball, and used the ribbon ends to affix it to the pipes in the tent.

There are just so many things that you can do with these techniques, and I can’t recommend it highly enough… especially for outdoor weddings. It’s great to be able to get the design work done well ahead of your event. Trust me, I know this from experience! LOL

How to Make Silk Flower Pomanders

2.5 years ago, I posted my first wedding floral design tutorial, planning to make it a regular thing. With floral design being one of my earlier ADD career incarnations, I’ve got about 15 years experience (off and on for a decade of that) – a lot of floral knowledge! – kicking around in the back of my head, ready to share. Procrastination took over, though… so here’s my second floral tutorial. Better late than never, right?

For the past few years, June really makes me think of weddings. Not because June is the stereotypical “Wedding Month” (August was always FAR busier, for me!), but because it’s Pride month. While weddings happen all year, and can / do happen every day of the year… the sea of rainbow really had a way of making me stop to think about weddings, marriage, and happiness. When you’ve been in the wedding industry for 15 years, it’s easy to lose sight of some things.

For instance, it’s easy to take weddings – and marriage – for granted, when you’re one of the many for whom it’s available. I’ve never had to consider the idea that I wouldn’t legally be able to marry my husband, that there’s any chance of being denied any of the legal benefits to being married, etc. Hell, even before that… we didn’t need to worry that our falling in love, dating, or getting engaged could result in any sort of fallout with family, or provoke hatred and violence from strangers. No one sees our marriage as a “threat” to their own, no one campaigned against our rights to marry, etc. We didn’t have to fight for it.

As a Canadian immigrant living in the USA, I still haven’t wrapped my head around why gay marriage is even an issue. If anyone’s marriage is threatened by someone else’s ability to marry – regardless of anyone’s plumbing – perhaps it’s *their* marriage that needs to be examined. You know, NOT the marriage of the happy couple who wants nothing more than the right to be together. UGH. I’ve ranted about it before, so I’ll cut the tangent short, here.

As you may know, I was a sponsor of the Twin Cities Pride Festival for a few years, providing all of the floral design for their commitment ceremonies area. The year I moved to MN, we went to the Pride Festival, and were shocked to see that the ceremonies area consisted of a single, unadorned garden trellis – no flowers to speak of! I signed up for the following year, and created many floral arrangements for the site.

To this day, I still receive compliments about the designs – especially the pomanders pictured to the right and below. Yes, the silk flowers were very cheap and not the most realistic… but the color and visual impact that they brought to the site completely transformed the entire look and feel of the ceremonies site!

(Don’t judge! We needed durability, first and foremost, as these flowers would be outside – through various weather conditions- for several days. Then they would be packed away for a year, and brought out to decorate the following year.. lather, rinse, repeat. Nicer flowers would NOT hold up!)


In honor of Pride weekend, I’d like to show you how to make them. Pomanders are a great way to decorate wedding ceremonies and receptions: Put them in trees, suspend them from garden hooks, or hang them off the corner of chairs or church pews. As a DIY thing, they’re a great way to save money on decor, and can be made WAY ahead of time – so they’re great for pre-wedding time management.

Happy Pride Week / Month, everyone!

DIY Wedding Pomanders


Styrofoam balls – I used 3″, you can use larger if needed.
Chopstick or BBQ skewer
Ribbon (Preferably satin type, 1/2″ – 1 1/2″ wide)
Silk flowers – MANY*
Silk greenery or accent flowers (such as baby’s breath), if desired
Pins (I like beading pins. Perfect length + bit larger head)
Decorative accents, optional**

* Flowers: I like to buy stems with many small flowers attached – ideally the kinds where the flower heads are easily pulled off. It’ll require a LOT – the small pomander pictured took about 50 smallish flower heads! (1.5″ – 2″ in diameter, when pressed flat)

** Decorative accents: Depending on the look you’re going through, there are SO many options for what you can do to really customize these. Metallic airbrush accents, spray glitter, stick-on rhinestones, sprays of wired beads, etc. I’ve seen steampunk bouquets with gears glued on, and I’ve seen pieces of Lego successfully use in a wedding bouquet. Have fun with it!

Alternatively, you can use larger flowers (such as the silk roses pictured above). Cut the stems to 1.5″ – 2″ long instead of pulling the flower heads off the stems.

Using a chopstick (preferred) or metal grilling skewer, puncture a hole right through the middle of a styrofoam ball.

Cut a length of ribbon. You’ll want it big enough not only for the loop, but for the ribbon through/under the styrofoam ball as well. As an example, if I want a 12″ drop (IE: the ball sits 12″ below whatever it’s being hung from), I’d allow 24″ for the loop, 6″ for the two ends to pass through the 3″ ball, and then another 6″ or so for knotting, etc… meaning a 36″ length.

Fold the ribbon in half, “good” side out.

If using a chopstick, fold the two edges of ribbon over the end of the chopstick by 2″, and push through the styrofoam ball, before knotting them together on the other side.

If using a (sharper, pointier) skewer, knot the two ends of the ribbon together (small, tight knot). Use the skewer to GENTLY push the knot through the styrofoam ball.

Carefully pull the knot out of the other side and knot another time or two – you’ll want the knot to hold the ball on securely, and pushing the knot through – rather than un-knotted ribbon – has a tendency to leave a fairly wide hole.

Start affixing flowers to the styrofoam ball. I like to push the ~1/4″ rubber/plastic nub on the back of the flower into the styrofoam, then secure with a pin. I push the pin through the flower somewhere near(ish) to the center of the flower, but not through the hole in the very center of it.

If you’re using larger flowers with the small pieces of stem attached, just push the stems into the styrofoam.

If your flower type has several layers of petals, try to push it through a spot where most of the layers overlap – it’ll be more secure that way. On this type of flower, I made sure to catch the pin through part of the plastic center, so that it’ll remain on the ball. If I had pinned it just through the petals, there’s a good chance that the center would eventually fall out.

Continue attaching flowers over the entire surface of the ball. Be sure to lift petals of an already-affixed flower to be able to place the next flower fairly close to it – you don’t want any styrofoam showing between the individual flowers.

Once your ball is completely covered with flowers, attach your decorative accents, if using.

If you would like to attach a decorative bow, tie one in a length of ribbon, then push a pin through it.

Pin the bow to either the very bottom of the pomander (hold it up by the loop to see where the very bottom actually is!), or to the top, near the loop.

Your pomander is complete, and ready to bring some color and visual interest to your celebration! Now… make a bunch more.

To do a pomander set like the one on the right, feed one end of a ribbon through the ball, rather than two ends. Knot and proceed as described. Once you have two pomanders ready, tie the ribbon length from each together in a pretty bow. This style is especially great for hanging from trees, as pictured.

Like what you see? We added a second post, More Silk Florals with updated photos of some faux floral decor we’d done for another year of Twin Cities Pride!

Wedding Trends: Not Quite What You May Think

Fell out of bed this morning, checked my email – and there was a brightly colored bit from an industry publication.

Now, I may not be directly in the wedding industry anymore, but I’m still on a lot of mailing lists – too lazy to get myself removed. Plus, sometimes there are nuggets of entertainment in there. The wedding industry, when watched as a former member, is probably something akin to the sleeziest reality show out there. You know it’s gross, lowest-common-denominator at times, and that a lot of the characters are just loathesome… but it appeals to some twisted voyeuristic (schadenfreude?) section of the brain. I do enjoy when friends behind those “enemy lines” keep me up to date on the current gossip in the local industry, LOL.


This particular publication was loudly declaring that “vintage big-top circus” is going to be HUGE as a wedding theme this year. I wish I could include the photo that’s attached to the article, but I’d rather not get DMCA’d over it. Let me describe: (more…)

Secret Caker Voodoo for Fabulous Holiday Entertaining

Remember back in October, when my husband made a Cake Wreck ?
Well, it wasn’t just his ADD that had him “like a kid in a candy store” at the cake decorating supply shop.

You see, lay people tend to have NO idea just how many cool things available to cake decorators, to really finish off a cake. Aside from all of the wrecky goodness we could find (Naked plastic babies, creepy Barbie torsos, etc), cake supply shops are also well stocked with what I like to refer to as “secret caker voodoo”.

From super concentrated food coloring in every shade you can think of, to various tools, molds, trimmings, and … well, everything… yeah. The sky’s the limit. It was always fun to work with clients who’d really let me play. You know the feeling you had when you were young, and someone gave you a BIG art kit filled with all sorts of pastels, markers, crayons, and paint – all new, pristine, and in a variety of colors? THAT… only grown up, and slightly more refined.

Anyway, more to the point… some of this “secret caker voodoo” can be used in non-cake ways, with spectacular results. Your secret arsenal to make everything just a little more fabulous when entertaining. Let me tell you about my favorite stuff …. (more…)