Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010 has come and gone...

our christmas tree this year

the christmas holiday is finally over, and i find that i'm breathing a much needed sigh of relief...and i am happy that my plan to do less and appreciate more went off without a hitch or an ounce of regret.  it was a sentiment that most of my family shared, and i have to say that no one seemed disappointed that we didn't stress ourselves to our usual degree just to construct the holiday as we always have.

jack and his new buddy, bailey, sparring on christmas eve

this christmas eve was spent with my parents and my siblings (including one very tiny and very furry addition, in the way of a new westie puppy adopted into my parents' home), wherein we enjoyed the traditional polish christmas wigilia.  this meatless dinner usually consists of a number of courses and dishes, including fish, pierogi, blintzes, and czarnina (an unsettingly purple soup that contains duck's blood...ew).  christmas wigilia is amongst my most cherished childhood was when my grandmother shined, moving around her kitchen like a dancer performing a wonderfully choreographed show full of good smells and good food.  i miss her terribly at this time of year...

jack wondering when he gets to open his gifts

i chose to work less this holiday season, opting not to participate in my usual local christmas shows even though they are small and not too demanding.  i wanted to be able to slow down and relax, especially after another very busy halloween season for The Crepe Confectionary.  i honestly needed that break, and i'm glad i was able to be a good boss and give myself a little time to re-energize.  so, to sum up my holiday season, the time i usually devote to being a christmas nutjob with a compulsion to create 'the most perfect christmas ever', was reallocated to spending time merrymaking with friends and family or to doing nothing in particular.  and it was exactly what i needed, because i am finding myself more enthusiastic and burning with creativity.  i am ready to go...i have re-organized, recharged, and reset my systems, and i'm pleased to say that i have big plans in the works for The Crepe Confectionary for 2011! 

doing the pin up girl thing at a recent christmas wedding...

it has been another wonderful year for me, one full of challenges and blessings.  to all of you, my wonderful readers and customers, i wish you the happiest of new year's!  celebrate the turning of the year with those you love, be thankful for what you have, and look forward with hope and joy.  may all of your future endeavors sparkle!

Monday, December 13, 2010

decking my halls...and a reader giveaway too!

our first christmas on west ferry street...

in between lake effect snow bands last week, we were lucky enough to get our holiday decorations up on the exterior of the house.  i don't mean to brag, but it took hubby all of 30 minutes to put them up!  since we've moved into our bungalow in 2003, we've done pretty much the same thing from year to year with our exterior holiday decor.  we keep it fairly simple with lit artificial garlands draped above the windows and front door with some red bows at the peaks.  it wasn't too difficult or expensive to do, and at the end of the season, they come down and get hung as-is in the basement amongst the rafters.  installation/storage is easy and quick, and hubby has the cord scheme down to a science by now.

we were pretty smitten with ourselves and our gaily decorated little bungalow in the city that first christmas, and each year when the lights go up and i see the house all aglow for that first time of the season, i still get a little swell of pride and gratitude that this small yet quaint piece of Buffalo architectural history is where i call home...

however, after seven years, i think our holiday decorating is getting a little stale, at least on the outside.  i'm thinking my tired little gem needs a bit of a holiday makeover.  so i've been combing the interwebs, searching for some holiday decorating inspiration...

Pottery Barn's entryways are famously festive...

for me, the obvious starting point is the Pottery Barn catalog, because when i think 'entryway', i immediately picture the warm, welcoming doorsteps leading up to those Pottery Barn doors...sigh.  i love red doors like the one in the picture above, not just because they are a symbol of a warm and friendly welcome, but because they are so sharp and eye-catching.  red doors can be seen from afar, and beckon the caller forward along the 'approach' to the home's precipice.  i learned about the concept of 'approach' while in my masters program for architecture.  essentially, it is the consideration that one gives to the way in which your visitors will approach a structure.  is it a winding pathway with spectacular views on the way to your point of destination, or is your approach straightforward and perfunctory?  architects and landscape designers pay great attention to approach, and thus i have learned to do so as well...

 A charming Christmas welcome from

Sweet Annie, skates, and a red sled over at the HGTV blog (

now, i still happen to quite like my window garlands, and i don't plan to lose them...i just think i need to add a little something extra to my holiday trimmings on the outside of the house, something that will kick my curb appeal up a notch.  i have always preferred to keep my christmas decor natural and organic -- nothing too fussy, nothing plastic and tacky -- i think that the best holiday homes are those that follow the 'use what you've got' theory of design.  i love using lots of pinecones, berries, and natural greenery...vintage sleds and skates like the ones pictured above...and simple clear lights to add some glow.  needless to say, there are no nylon inflatables in my front yard -- i don't think they would survive the neighborhood for very long anyway!

 A window box brimming with natural greens, berries, fruits and pincones (

Lush urns that sparkle from Martha Stewart.
i'm thinking of flanking my front door with some urns brimming full of greenery and ornaments like the one i found above at perhaps even some small pine trees decked out in red glass ball ornaments and lit with some clear lights.  on the other side of my porch, i would love to try setting a little scene...something charming and cute, but not so cute that it all up and walks away mysteriously in the night (grimace and  i haven't decided what this little scene will be just yet, but i'll keep you all posted.

Ice luminaries from

finally, this is one idea i am determined to try this holiday season: ice luminaries.  you need nothing more than a few metal or plastic bowls, water, and some cold weather to create these!  look at how beautiful they are with a candle glowing from inside!  i can just picture a bunch of these lining the walkway and scattered amongst snowpiles on the front porch...what a lovely approach that would be, wouldn't it?  i've even seen these done using snow and a bundt cake pan as a form, with stacked layers forming the luminary.  i don't know about you, but where i live, there is plenty of cold weather and snow to spare for this charming fresh take on the traditional luminary.

what about you, readers?  what are your favorite ways to deck out your home for the holidays?  well, from now until December 17th (that's this friday!), if you send me a picture of your home donning its gay apparel, i will enter your name into a drawing for a chance to win a Christmas confection from The Crepe Confectionary valued at $25.oo!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

finding holiday inspiration from store windows and displays...

anthropologie window display, 2010

you know that feeling you get when you come across something so wonderful, so charming, so inspiring, that you just melt into a puddle of smiles?  anyone?  is it just me?  lol...

well, i get that feeling on occasion...i discover something, and it just fires me up...makes me wanna try it for myself...makes me go, "now that is so damn clever..." 

i experience this sort of goofy elation every single time i walk into an Anthropologie store.  if you are not familiar with this whimsical, frilly store, i strongly encourage you to follow the link and check them out.  BUT, if you are lucky enough to have an Anthropologie retail location near you, i implore you to walk in...see for yourself why this proprietor is not merely a seller of clothes and jewelry and home goods, but a creator of experience.  all throughout the store, you will find the most ingenious and creative displays of decor, and often, these displays are true transformations of ordinary items or materials into amazing art installations.

tree stump gnome homes and mushrooms blanketed in snow...

i was lucky enough to take in the holiday displays at Anthropologie recently when i was doing some christmas shopping, and i was completely taken with their displays of rolled paper christmas trees and tree stump gnome homes.  and what i find so cool about Anthro is the fact that a lot of their displays are simple -- you can easily see that you could create something similar on your own.  in fact, i even came across a small (and free!) 'how to' card for creating pine trees from recycled paper. 

Anthropologie's windows showcase tall christmas trees made from rolled up paper plates that have been dipped in green dye!

Pottery Barn is another great source of inspiration around this time of year.  a trip into their stores right now will reveal christmas trees trimmed with ornaments made of sheet music and glass glitter, garlands of old fashioned burlap upholstery webbing, and tons of mercury glass.  there are also many ideas to be found for centerpiece and mantel displays.  i love their sheet music wrapped pillar candles -- what a great idea for a hostess gift or kris kringle gift!  who couldn't wrap a white pillar candle from Michael's ($2.99) with a piece of sheet music or old book pages?  finish it off with a twine bow and some berries or greenery.  i know i will be creating this look for my mantels this year.

and there is always something so simple, yet so perfect about Pottery Barn's christmas tree displays.  they're never overdone or gaudy, and the trees are always so winsome, like they have just been cut down from a field somewhere.  i'm resolved to try the paper banner idea this year, as soon as i figure out what i want it to say.  i'm certain that the paper garland can be handmade using a roll of brown craft paper and a sharpie. i smell a tutorial brewing here?  maybe...

i'd love to hear where you find your holiday decorating ideas...which is your favorite?  which have you tried and just loved?  which would you like to try for yourself, but haven't had the courage yet?

Friday, October 8, 2010

a little halloween inspiration...

as to be expected, the last few weeks have been full of hustle and bustle for The Crepe Confectionary...

between a mound of halloween and custom orders for the shop, and taking a little time to enjoy the Country Living Fair in Ohio with my mom, i've been eating, sleeping, and breathing halloween...and i couldn't be happier!

so i thought that i would share with you some of the great ideas i've stumbled upon for scaring up some truly inspiring tricks and treats...

i love these handmade treat bags crafted from old dictionary pages, and this idea couldn't be hotter right now. it seemed that everywhere i turned at this year's Country Living Fair, there were these beautiful handmade items reusing old book pages. for this bibliophile, i couldn't be more smitten with the look...

now this idea, i have vowed to make for halloween this year, its just too cool not to! and believe me, it is a lot easier than it looks...all you need are two little LED lights and a couple of watch batteries -- both of which you can get at your local hardware store for just a couple of dollars. i've already started going through my mom's old photo albums for good pictures...i'll post a more detailed how-to, promise!

one day, i will host my mom's halloween birthday dinner in a setting such as this...doesn't it look absolutely magical?

but for now, i think i could definitely do this in my own dining room. i am completely taken with the vintage charm of this dining room, decked out with orange and black crepe paper festoons and tissue lanterns...its straight from the pages of a Dennison Bogie Book.

and these...(sigh)...these velvet pumpkins have completely seduced me this fall season...i saw them a few months ago on the web somewhere, and a number of vendors had them at this year's Country Living Fair. to buy them, they are quite pricey...but i assure you that their construction is incredibly simple! in fact, if you check back here in the next few days, i will post a step by step tutorial on how to construct some of these soft, lush lovelies for yourself!
until then, may all your endeavors be crafty ;)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Crepe Confectionary celebrates it's first year!

just over a year ago, a very good friend of mine and i were sitting on my couch, brainstorming ideas for a creative business opportunity that we could establish for ourselves as a fun way to make some extra cash. we talked about screen printing, event planning, and even doing a BBQ lunch truck. as we sat trying to identify each of our talents and weaknesses, he began to convince me to stop 'playing' at my crafting, and instead, take it to the next level.

i used to dabble in primitives under the name "Prims & Propers"...

see, up until this point, my crafting was something i did for fun, for relaxation on weekends when i wasn't on call at the hospital or working the emergency room...i never once considered that my little hobby could make me any sort of meaningful income. it wasn't that i didn't think my 'work' wasn't good enough -- truth be told, i had sold some of my items to local shops and boutiques before, and each piece was very well received. but, in spite of this, i still didn't consider it a way to make a living. i was, afterall, a last fine arts class came my freshman year of high school. even my modest education in architectural design didn't really count as 'art' education, at least in my mind.

an original st. nick doll from 2007

so when my friend finished making his case, attempting to convince me that my work was actually worth selling and that i actually had some creative talent, he proposed --dared me, actually -- to give it a try. open an etsy shop, he said...give it a finite time...make a business plan...operate with all the seriousness i would if i were still practicing medicine...if it fails, you'll know. but, if it doesn't? well, who knows where the path could lead me...

my cheesebox lanterns were always a huge hit in the shops...

and now, one year later, The Crepe Confectionary has become a major part of my life, with many successes and some failures, but still going strong. i won't lie: i struggled in the beginning, mostly with reconciling the very scientific half of my brain, that had been in the driver's seat all of my life, with the more creative half of my brain, which had always hung around, but was happy to be chilling in the backseat. it was odd, and still is at times, when people ask me what i do for a living...people generally laugh or don't know how to respond when i tell them that i run a creative design business and i'm a folk artist, especially when they know that just a few years ago, i was a practicing doctor.

i loved making this piece, and i never made one for myself!

looking back on my first year in business, however, i see many reasons to be proud...and i'm truly happy with this little life i have 'crafted' for myself. i am my own boss, i am my own workforce, i make my schedule, i carve out my own path. and honestly, when i would think about what i wanted to be when i grew up, i was never quite sure what it was that i wanted to be, but i was damn sure that i wanted to be in charge. the path of my life has wound in many directions, but it hasn't been until now that i could say that i am truly, truly enjoying my stroll...

(thanks, scott. you really made me believe it all, because you believed in me.)

Friday, August 6, 2010


my latest halloween party hat

if you've ever had a peek in my shop, you know that i have a thing for party hats. i make them for all sorts of occasions, and i believe they're not just for wearing. i think they look great displayed on pedestals or on top of a feather tree. i have halloween hats, valentine's hats, and of course, birthday hats.

i don't know what it is about a sweet party hat that just puts a smile on my face...maybe its because i never had one for my birthday as a kid. both of my parents worked their hinds off, and while we were always celebrated warmly on our birthdays, there was often not a lot of time for frivolous details such as party hats. so now when i get a custom order for one, i always do what i can to make each one as special as the last. i guess this is my way of sublimating my wish for a frilly party hat all those birthdays as a

the image on this hat is taken from the old Dennison Bogie Books

but my favorite kind of hat -- to create, wear, or display -- is a great vintage looking halloween party hat. i love playing with the traditional black and orange color theme, adding classic details and imagery, yet with modern polish. so, this got me to thinking...
perhaps The Crepe Confectionary should host a party hat swap for halloween?

what do you think dear readers? are any of you game?

i've participated in swaps before, and i can't tell you how fun it is to get a bundle of surprises from the postman! and i love seeing what sorts of creativity fuels other crafty peeps out there. if you have never participated in a swap, i thoroughly encourage it! and, i think this one might be right up a beginner's alley...

  • i will provide the party hat template for download through the blog
  • you drop me a line saying 'COUNT ME IN!'
  • i will assign swap partners, and hand out addresses
  • you dream up something extra spooky and fun for your partner
  • once we have swapped, we'll post pictures for all to see!
so what do you say ghouls and boys? i think of it as 'trick or treating' for adults...very crafty

who's in? leave a comment on this post if you're interested.

and, i just want to take a moment to thank all of my readers. its always so encouraging to hear from each of you, and i love finding inspiration in how you see the world. now, i would love for you to join me in some of the fun!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

let the halloween preparations begin!

our haunted parlor at halloween...

if you are even a casual reader of my blog, you likely know that i am an absolute fanatic about halloween...even my shop is stocked year-round with halloween confections.

the hatbox ghost, the crafty witch, and a furry sceptre...

i was blessed as a kid to have a mom who was happy to sew whatever costume i requested, as well as an older cousin who lived just up the street who would take me and my brother and sister trick or treating not only on halloween night, but on beggar's night too. oh, and halloween just happens to be my mom's birthday (lucky, lucky!), so we almost always have some sort of samhain celebration from year to year.

one of my hand-carved pumpkins

so, naturally, i've already begun thinking about what i am going to craft up for halloween this year...and not just items for the shop. costumes, spooky decor projects, and home haunt brain is always spinning when it comes to halloween.

a witchy label from LOVEMANOR.COM

last year, i came across these fantastic labels for a 'witch's cupboard' at the Love Manor blog...they are meticulously designed and look incredibly authentic when adhered to old antique glass bottles and jars. i was so thrilled when i came across them, i just had to pick up a bunch of antique glass bottles the next time i was out junking and thrifting. this project could not be easier, and the results are so authentic, it will surely fool any spooky guests that should come calling on this hallow's eve.

here is what you need:
  • old glass bottles, jars (or newer ones, with their labels and glue removed)
  • mod podge
  • sponge brush
  • walnut ink, or walnut stain (pad, spray, or crystals work just fine)
  • labels, which you can find HERE
here is how you do it:
  1. make sure all of your glass jars and bottles are clean and dry
  2. decide which label will go on which jar, and use a photoshop program ( to edit the image so it will fit on your jar. print out, and cut along edges
  3. apply mod podge to area where you wish to adhere your label, place label onto bottle and smooth out bubbles and edges.
  4. wipe away any excess mod podge from the glass surrounding the label.
  5. once dry, use some walnut ink on a cotton pad or paper towel and gently buff the label around its edges to give it an aged, worn appearance.
  6. embellish your bottle with moss, just twine, spiders, etc. i like to keep my witchy bottles and jars looking as authentic as possible for a more convincing effect.
  7. display on a shelf, an old silver tray, or table top along with an iron cauldron and lots of candles.
a witchy apothecary ready for casting spells...

see how easy that was? so while you're out and about this summer, strolling through flea markets and yard sales, keeps your eyes peeled for some vintage looking glass bottles and turn them into something frighteningly fantastic!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

you'll find me in the garden...

pansies waiting to be planted in my garden...

its true. if the sun is out, i am out in my little patch of green happiness. planting...pruning...seeding...rearranging. i quite literally look for reasons to keep myself busy out there poking in the dirt.

an early pic of our house in the city, built 1905.

its an obsession that began when we purchased our first and current home here in the city. we are fortunate enough to be in a fantastic historical district near buffalo's hub. its got all the luxury of neighborhood living within minutes of downtown. i love my old home, but its definitely a work in progress. and admittedly, i have a lot planned for the green space around my house. we've tackled some of the major hardscaping projects already, like ripping out a rotting old deck and brick courtyard in the backyard as well as rebuilding the stone wall around the front yard's bed.

each year i add more and more, grooming and restoring our little abode to its former 1905 glory. i dream of brunches in the warm sunshine of my terrace, surrounded by a lush cottage garden full of mystery and charm...of candlelit dinners amongst the fireflies and fragrant peonies. there are moments, at the end of a day spent toiling amongst the blooms, where i will pause and look out at my little patch of life, and i see that mon petit jardin is creeping closer and closer to my flower-filled fantasies.

a nearby neighborhood home, part of the buffalo ny garden walk.

but if you really want to know, my ultimate goal is to have my home garden be included in our city's annual Garden Walk event. occurring each year at the end of july, just when all the area gardens are at their vegetative peak, hundreds and hundreds of homes around the city and surrounding areas open their gardens for people to wander through and admire. i try to catch a new neighborhood or area each year, taking photos and gathering ideas for my own greenspace. its astounding what some people can do with a small space, a few plants, and some sweat! believe me, buffalo is not 10 straight months of snow and cold. though the winds may blow and the snow may fall (really only a few inches each season), i assure you that our harsh and oft publicized wicked winters melt away into some of the most beautiful spring and summer weather in the country.

a charming entry to another secret garden on the Garden Walk.

so if you've been stopping by only to find the 'be back in 10 min' sign still hanging on the door, i kindly apologize, but i've been enjoying the lure of my garden and the beauty of our unusually early summer weather. and i certainly hope you all have been cultivating your own bit of green in your own neck of the woods. oh, i still have work to do in the shop...gobs of custom birthday orders and a new halloween line in the works. it just has to wait for a rainy day...

happy summer!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

a little peek...

a nautical themed birthday banner for one very lucky little boy...
(and yes, that is burlap and seersucker you see! i work with fabrics too!)

glass glitter whales for hanging...
(its going to be one 'whale of a time', don't you know...)

and some very sweet cupcake picks...
(monograms in the works too...)
i've been up to my elbows in glass glitter and crepe and fabric...and loving every moment...hope you're all off revelling in some creativity of your very own...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

this just in...

these pretty silver dresden numbers...

and these lovely silver dresden letters...

and these sweet aqua doves...sigh...

AND!..this! the sparkliest, shiniest, most superb german glass glitter!
and its all available for you now in the shop! i am so excited to be expanding my ICING ON THE CAKE line of vintage inspired embellishments and supplies for all of your own confectionary crafting cravings! i can't wait to share all of my ideas for using these vintage charmers with you very, very soon!

Friday, April 9, 2010

drum roll please!


i wanted to drop in for just a moment so that i could share some exciting news! in the coming weeks, i am going to be introducing a new line of handmade crafting and decorating embellishments in the shop. you can expect to see the sweetest of crepe paper ruffles, the sparkliest of glass glitters, and the most whimsical of vintage bits and baubles for all your creative pursuits. i call it the 'icing on the cake' line because it consists of the very bits and pieces i handcraft or gather for use in my own know, the sweet little details that really add that final touch to a piece.

so now you too can add some vintage charm to just about anything! i absolutely love crepe paper, and i fold and gather it into almost any imaginable machination. and i use it almost wrapping, party hats, banners, costumes, as garland on my tinsel tree, and even on the edges of my shelves. it adds just the right touch of antiquated charm, no matter what the use. i even go so far as to create my own fringed festooning, reminiscent of the kind once seen in the old Denison Crepe Paper Company's 'Bogie Book'. and yes, this too will be available for sale in the shop, should you be so tempted...

i will even be offering confectionary kits, including do it yourself party hats and other holiday items, for those of you adventurous enough to give yourself a sweet tooth. i don't know about you, but i love disappearing into my craft cave to toil away on something frivilous. i suppose i want to share that sense of respite and whimsy with those of you willing volunteers out there...enjoy the experience, revel in the process, spend time on the tiniest of details, smile at what you accomplish.
so tie an apron on, grab your glue gun, and let the glitter fly!