Holiday Gifts

So Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Are you in need of a last minute host gift? Perhaps you want to show your appreciation to your neighbors, friends, or in laws? Here are a few ideas for some festive personalized treats.

The Classic Host Gift: Wine

For many events (especially large dinners) wine is typically a go-to gift for a host, Thanksgiving is no exception. But what kind of wine is best and how can you add your own personal touch?

Both white and red wines can work with Thanksgiving day feasts.

Whites

While chardonnay is typically a reliable standby ,its intese flavor may not be the best for such an overwhelming amount of flavors. Instead consider a lighter fruity choice. The most popular of these include Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc.

Reds

Yes, red wine is typically served with dark meat, but lighter reds are just right! Stay away from tart choices like Cabernet. Instead try Pinot Noir, Zinfadel, or Syrah.

Or…

You could marry the two and choose a nice, pink Rose! Its light, crisp flavor may be a nice compliment for a hearty meal.

Personalization:

There are a variety of ways to personalize wine bottles. You can use printable holiday labels like this or this. Or you can customize your own label here. These sites let you choose whether you would like to print free from your home wine labels or tags to drape around the bottle’s neck.

Another way to add your own personal flare is to use a wine bag or box and customize it. You can add photographs, gift tags, and more!

NOT 21? NOT A PROBLEM!

Pumpkin Nutella Bread

This festive holiday treat is both scrumptious and easy to make.

ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon hazelnut extract
8 tablespoons Nutella (2 tablespoons per mini loaf)

directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Using non-stick spray, coat a layer onto your bread pans. If you do not have spray, canola oil and a paper towel will do the trick.
  2. In a bowl, blend together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk together completely.
  3. In a separate larger bowl, combine sugar, canola oil, water, pumpkin, eggs, vanilla and hazelnut. Make sure the mixture is a smooth consistency.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixture and continue to stir.
  5. When the ingredients are well combined, pour the batter into your pans. Add a spoonful of Nutella to the top of each pan. Swirl the butter into the mixture.
  6. Place the loafs into the oven. The bake time will vary based on the size of your pan. I used four medium sized pans and baked for 40-45 minutes. If you are using smaller trays you may be safer at 20-25, or if you are using one large pan it may take up to 60-65 minutes.
  7. You will know your bread is done when you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. When done, allow the bread to cool for 15 minutes before attempting to remove from the pans. Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

And there you have it! Yummy, simple treats!

Pumpkin Candle Votives

Have leftover pumpkins that you feel guilty throwing away? Here is a waste-free way to use them!

Materials

  • Pumpkins (smaller sizes tend to work best)
  • Knife
  • Tea light or votive candle
  • Lighter or matches

Directions

  1. Take a damp cloth, wipe down the top of your pumpkin stem to remove excess dirt or blemishes.
  2. Using your candle as a guide, dot around the border of your candle with a knife.
  3. Take the knife and cut your circle connecting the dots. Be sure to only carve as deep as your candle need be. You dont want it sinking to bottom or falling through completely.
  4. Insert your candle, you may have to clean up the edges in order for it to fit better.
  5. Once in place, melt the wax on the edges to conform to the pumpkin’s shape.

You now have a fun, festive candle! This project is very quick and extreamely easy!

And there you have it!

A complete list of thoughtful, simple ideas that anyone would appreciate receiving!

Have fun and enjoy your holiday festivities!

Wall Garden

Sick of living in a room with monotonous white walls? Ever wish you could add a touch of color to a room without having to use paint? Well the answer is here.

Tapestries have been an implement element of decor since the 3rd century B.C. They not only add color and texture to a room, but they can also be quite expressive. The types and styles have a variety of ranges, from elaborate depictions of famous artwork such as this piece recreating”The Birth of Venus” or the more simplistic designs like this elegant floral design.

Recently, tapestries have been trending in design and decor stores (such as Urban Outfitters, World Market, and Pottery Barn) and can be found in younger, hipper spaces. They are popular among college students and young adults alike.

Cal Poly freshman Rebecca Taylor explained what drew her to purchasing one. “I like how it makes it feel more homey,” Taylor said. “It completely changes the mood of the room.”

But many of these shops charge upwards of $50.

“I was looking to get one, but when I saw how expensive they were I decided against it,” stated Brianna White, a Cuesta student.

Here we will be showing how you can make it yourself for under $20.

HOW TO!

The tapestry we will be making here will look as if a garden is growing out of your wall!

You will need:

  • White sheer fabric ( your choice of yardage, I got about 3.5 yards and it cost about $15)
  • Needle, pins and thread
  • Fabric flowers of choice ( I used red roses from the dollar store, 2 bunches of 6 flowers)
  • White Christmas lights (optional)
  • Push pins

Directions:

  1. Iron out your fabric so as to eliminate wrinkles. From her cut the buds off of your flower arrangement. Be sure to save the leaves for this adds to the effect. 
  2. Position the fabric flowers to your desired position. Be sure to change it up so it does not look too orchestrated. Have some facing upward, outward, down, and sideways. Maybe cluster some and have others solo.
  3. Once positioned, sew the flowers and leaves to the fabric. They do not need to be sewn completely around, just tacked on in one spot enough to hold the position.
  4. When finished, take a step back. Decide at this point if Christmas lights are something you would choose to incorporate.
  5. Begin hanging! Using push pins, pull the fabric tight and put a pin in each of the four corners. Add more around the border for security as necessary.

And there you have it! 5 easy steps

Serving it Up

From toddlers to the elderly, decorating and personalizing ceramics is a relaxing way to demonstrate creativity. Plus, the product is a handmade piece that can be used or given as a gift.

There are myriad ceramic shops located throughout the country that allow patrons to come in and paint items of their choice. This includes figurines, dishes, vases and various other knick knacks. Heather Gelfound of Paint Pals in Simi Valley explained the attraction to this particular art form. “It’s versatile because a ceramic can be painted any way that a person desires. It can be baked in an oven for a smooth finish or it can be glossed with a spray,” Gelfound said.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Rachelle Beaudoin said she would use this as an idea for a gift. “Hand made gifts are special because you know a lot of time and effort went into it,” Beaudoin said. ” And i think that’s more important than how much money it cost.”

Gina Allen of Firefly Ceramics stated, ” There are a variety of age groups and experience levels. Some take it more seriously than others, but it’s a lot of fun no matter what.” She elaborated by saying that the studio hosts everything from children’s birthday parties, to baby showers and more.

However, these shops tend to be a bit pricey. They can vary from $5-45 depending on what is being made and the establishment. It can be made for under $5, and here is how!

What you will need:

  • A plate or cup ( I got my plates for $1 each at Ross)
  • Pencil
  • Permanent  marker (any color you choose)
  • Oven

Directions:

  1. Wash your plate or cup well and be sure to remove price tags and dust.
  2. Find your decorative inspiration. This can be song lyrics, quotes, book segments, or stencils!
  3. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. In pencil, layout your design in order to assure there is space.

4. Go over your pencil design with the permanent marker. (TIP: If you find you are unhappy with the way it looks or if you make a mistake, a sponge and dish soap will do the trick)

5. When you are happy with your look, put your item in the oven for 30 minutes.

6.When it is done, carefully remove it from the oven. It will be very hot so use hot pads or oven mits for safety.

And there you have it! The design is set into your piece and will remain wash after wash!

    

Play Your Cards Right…

52 REASONS WHY I LOVE YOU

    You want something special and personal to show someone you love just how much you care? You may have just hit the jackpot!

Here is what you will need:

  • Deck of cards ($1 at a dollar store or drug store)
  • Ribbon (color of your choice)
  • Construction Paper
  • Hole punch
  • Thin Sharpie
  • Access to a printer (optional)

Here’s the deal…

  1. Come up with a list of things you love about this person. You will need 52 as there are 52 cards in a deck. The hardest part will be narrowing it down to just 52 things. Remember to make it personal, including personality traits, inside jokes, and qualities. Once you have these ideas, assign what cards you want to correlate. (For example for “The way you make me feel”  you may want to put on the Queen of Hearts)
  2. Hole punch your cards. You want 2 holes in order to thread the ribbon. Be sure not to put it too close to the edge as this may tear easier with wear. On the other hand, do not do it too far in either because that will make it hard to turn between pages. I did mine about 1/4 of an inch from the edge.
  3. Put your cards in the desired order and decorate! Have fun with it! Use clipart, internet images, photographs, or just construction paper with your reason. Change it up and allow the decor to vary. Here are some examples of what I did:

4. Use one of the Joker cards as a cover. Say whatever you please or what you deem appropriate!

5. Now comes the assembly! String your ribbon through and tie it in a bow. And thats it! You have yourself a handmade bundle of love that I bet they will enjoy!

Oh la la!

The french braid: its versatile, its polished, its out of your face! According to  The French Braid, a website dedicated to this stylish art, french braiding has been around since 400B.C. Hair styling was one of the most popular arts in the 18th century and you would often see braiding in paintings and sculptures.

But this style isn’t cheap. If you were to get it done at a salon, pricing would start at $30. Here there will be a tutorial so that salon expenses can be a thing of the past!

Learning how to french braid can be a useful skill. Olivia Michel, a stylist at The Bluebird Salon and Shop in downtown San Luis Obispo said that braiding prices vary depending on the stylist. She gave some tips for learning how to do it yourself. “Practice! The first time it will take a little while, but the more you practice, the better you will get,” stated Michel.

It’s a great style for people on the go. Jessamyn Liu, a California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo student said, “I do know how to french braid my hair. I learned two years ago from my sister.”

Gwen Olsen learned how to french braid by watching a coworker do her daughter’s hair back in the 1970s. ” I began braiding my daughter’s hair when she was about three. It felt awkward in the beginning  but with practice became as easy as a regular braid, ” said Olsen. ” You can easily ‘glam up’ a french braid for a formal occasion just by embellishing with flowers or jeweled combs or barretes.”

So how can you create this look? The tutorial begins now!

MATERIALS:

  • Brush
  • Hair tie
  • Wave enhancer (optional)

HOW TO:

  1. Make sure your hair is combed out. I usually braid my hair when it is slightly damp. This allows for it to have soft waves once the braid is dry and removed. I like to use a curl enhancer because it controls the possibility of frizz. I use Be Curly by Aveda. (Aveda is great because they use all natural ingredients and they do not test on animals!)
  2. Separate a small section at the top of your head, use a brush to smooth if necessary. This will be the start of your braid!
  3. Separate this section into three parts and begin braiding like a normal braid, starting from the right and crossing over the center piece.
  4. After you have done one complete cross over with all three sections, begin gathering hair from the sides to incorporate into your braid. Try and keep the gathered sections small and smooth. 
  5. Continue down the length of your hair, it will get easier as you work down. As you braid, the three sections will become larger and more distinct.
  6. This is where your arms begin to tire and it becomes harder to reach. Many people try braiding from over their shoulder at this point, but that could result in a twisted braid which will not lay flat. The best option is to keep straight back if you can. You will begin to notice that you are running out of hair to pick up. At this point, finish the braid as if it were a normal three-piece braid.
  7. Now you are coming to the end of the braid. You can end it as high or as low as you please. Secure the end with a hair tie, and there you have it!!

Et Voila! 

Whether you are an athlete out on the field rocking dreadlocks or a school girl on the playground styling pigtails, braids are adroit at being perfect for any occasion. Knowing how to do this craft is useful for an array of people!

Tip of the Hat

There are a variety of upcoming artists that have caught my eye and deserve recognition.

MUSIC

  1. 1. Bill Fay! He is a singer/songwriter who actually produced his first album in 1970. Now over 40 years later, he has another album entitled Life is People. It is definitely worth checking out! You can buy it on iTunes

2. Ezra Furman! He has a very Bob Dylan/Neil Young sound, partly because he incorporates the harmonica in many of songs. He is bringing a touch of folk rock to this generation. You can even download half the album free from his website or buy it from iTunes.

3. Tennis! They are a husband and wife band. They have a very early ’60s sound. Their music is catchy and the lyrics tell a story. Their videos are also shot with a very retro feel. You can find them on  iTunes or sample some songs on their Myspace page. 

FASHION

  • LeatherworkByLars is an Etsy shop that makes handmade leather purses. They can be personalized and customized how you would like. Who would want a Fendi or Coach purse when you could have a one of a kind authentic bag? I actually have one myself, and I get compliments on it everywhere I go. I get stopped in stores and on the street with ladies asking where they could get one. Plus, it is extremely well made. Definitely one of the best purchases I have made in a while!

Or if purses are not something that is of use to you, the shop also has handmade knives and sheaths.

There is a little something for everyone!

I tip my hat to you, for putting yourself out there and exploring your creativity!

My Stache Cash Stash

Mustaches have become quite trendy this last year. This and similar crafts can be seen roaming around places like Etsy and other crafting websites. It’s cute, its punny, and a great way to store laundry money or pocket change! In the posting to the right, it’s going for $15.00. That isn’t terrible, but add on the price of shipping and its a bit much.

Pam Bailey of Beverly’s Fabrics in downtown San Luis Obispo commented that she has seen quite an increase in the number of people using mason jars for crafting. ” They use the jars for gifts usually, decorating them and using them as special packaging,” stated Bailey.

Apparently the project is quite popular among college students. University of California Davis student Molly Marrone recently made one of her own. “It’s currently sitting on my desk and slowly  starting to fill up with quarters,” Marrone stated. “It’s useful as decoration, but also to show when I won’t have enough quarters to do my laundry.”

Benjamin Franklin once said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo student and craft enthusiast Amanda Lim agrees. “Its a cuter way to store and save your money.”

Here we can make one of our own for just under $3.00!

20120924-210725.jpg

Here’s what you will need:

  • A Mason Jar ( You can find these at your local craft store in varying sizes, such as Joann or Michaels)
  • A thin paint brush
  • Paint color of your choice (Acrylic or Tempra works best)
  • Access to a Printer

And that’s it!

Directions:

  1.  Wash the jar. Remove any stickers or price tags and make sure you have a clean surface.
  2. Next, in Google Images, search “My Stache” or “moustache” in the browser. As you know there are many kinds of moustaches , so choose which one appeals to you! Copy and paste your image into a word document. (I used this mustache and this font)
  3. From here, choose the font of your choice and type “My Stache” or if you are feeling extra clever “Don’t Touch My Stache.” ( It may take some time to figure out what size font/image works best for your particular jar)
  4. Print your document and tape it in place to the inside of your jar.
  5. Paint over the image and the wording. This may take a coat or two.
  6. Allow to dry and carefully remove the paper from inside. Touch up the paint if necessary.

And tada!! You have yourself a new money jar!

Whether you make it as a gift or use it to add a little functional decor, it is a fun craft with a pragmatic product!

Hello World!

Welcome to Ravishingly Retro, a blog all about how to emulate trendy looks for less! Thematically it is similar to this do-it-yourself blog, but will differ in that it will have the simplistic style of this student blog. Another site I am highly inspired by is Roots, Wings and Other Things!

A little about me…

My name is Larissa Olsen, and I am a Journalism student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo! If I had it my way, I would have been alive in the ’40s. But I wasn’t, so instead I revive a touch of the time to our winsome digital generation. I relish in anything creatively stimulating, and generally like to recreate things I see rather than spending money I don’t have. I think any frugal college student can relate. Here I will give step-by-step instruction on how to get the look for less.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy the coming journey!