Wrapping Paper Beads

My little holiday gift to you: an idea for all that post-holiday wrapping paper you’ve accumulated.


  • Wrapping paper, catalogs or any colorful paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue, such as Elmers
  • Wooden skewer, or other thin rod


1. Flatten the wrapping paper and cut out a long skinny isosceles (equal on two sides) triangle.

2. Place the design-side of the paper on the table and fold the widest end of the triangle back on itself about 1/4 inch.

3. Roll the paper around the skewer, beginning at the shortest side of the triangle and ending at the point of the triangle. Don’t let go or the whole thing will unravel.

4. Place a dab of glue at the point on the wrong side of the paper and press firmly to the rest of the paper. Your first bead! Carefully slide the bead off the skewer and allow it to dry.

5. Repeat with more paper until you have enough beads to make a bracelet, a necklace, a skirt, curtains for every window in your house.

Not only can you have fun, you can get your geometry in the for the day. Experiment with different widths and lengths of triangles to see how the beads turn out.

If you don’t manage to make all your wrapping paper into beads, see if you can recycle it at your local recycling center.

Happy Holidays!

Let the celebrating begin!

Maddie and her good friend Red Ball.

Maddie and her good friend Red Ball.

Sigh. Yesterday I shipped out my last custom piece due for Christmas. What a relief! It’s been a busy few weeks of making lots of Christmas gifts for customers.

After the run to the post office, I treated myself to a celebratory cappuccino, then sunk into the sofa with Three Cups of Tea. Imagine that! Reading a book in the middle of the day! I intend to do it again today.

Up above my dog is celebrating her victory:  The beginning of Red Ball Season. What? You’ve never heard of Red Ball Season? It often coincides with the beginning of winter, during the first decent snow.

Red Ball was a gift from Maddie’s “grandparents” many years ago. The plastic is really hard so the dogs can’t pick it up in their mouths and the humans can’t kick it (very painful if you do). Maddie loves this ball. She pushes it around with her nose, eats the snow off of it, gets it stuck behind rose bushes. It’s the most fun any yellow Labrador retriever can have.

My German Shepherd finds the thing a nuisance since he can’t pick it; red ball makes him very angry.

Once upon a time, Red Ball Season was year-round. That lasted about 3 minutes. My single-minded Maddie bowled over every single flower, attacked rose bushes that “stole” red ball and dug up the yard because red ball escaped behind the grill (she’s not a digger).

So Red Ball has been relegated to winter, when snow and ice safely ensconce all manner of precious vegetation. Despite being 11 years old and ready for the geriatric ward, Maddie chases this ball like she’s a puppy.

Gluten-free Scandinavian Almond Bars

Gluten-free Scandinavian Almond Bars

The other tradition we love around here right now is lots o’ cookie making. I’ll leave you with a great cookie recipe that is a family tradition among my husband’s Swedish relatives: Scandinavian Almond Bars. These are incredible. Bake them just until the edges are brown and you get a very chewy cookie, which is out of this world. The icing is not necessary, but adds another almond kick. Even better, I was able to easily translate this recipe into a gluten-free version, courtesy of Bob and his Red Mill. Enjoy!

Scandinavian Almond Bars

  • 1 1/2 c. Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • milk (to brush dough)
  • 1/2 c. sliced almonds
  • Almond icing (below)

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat butter until soft. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg and almond extract and beat well. Add flour mixture and beat well. Divide dough into fourths. Flour hands and then roll each lump of dough into 12-inch roll. Place 2 rolls, 4 to 5 inches, apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten to 3 inches wide. Repeat with the remaining rolls. Brush flattened rolls with milk and sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 325°F for 12 to 14 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. While cookies are still warm cut them cross wise at a diagonal into 1-inch strips. A pizza cutter works well for this job. Cool. Drizzle with almond icing. Makes approximately 48 cookies.

Almond Icing

Stir together 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and enough milk (3 or 4 teaspoons) to make icing of drizzling consistency.

Merry Music

In my parents living room is a stereo my mom has had since before I was born. It was a high tech piece of equipment in its day. The turn table can handle six records and drop them (hands-free!) for continuous music play. There’s also a built in AM/FM radio.

Despite being a centerpiece in the living room, my mom didn’t spin the tunes to often. Come Christmas, however, holiday music was constant. Elivs and Andy Williams, Bing Crosby and Kenny Rogers were belting classic carols, plus a few originals. They came to be my yardsticks by which all holiday music is measured.

We’ve been cranking the carols since Thanksgiving, through cookie making and tree decorating. Here’s my list of my favorite Christmas albums.

Enya  And Winter Came…

The latest addition to my holiday catalog. There’s the ethereal music we’ve come to expect from Enya. The chant-like qualities of “Trains and Winter Rains” will having you humming them for days. There’s also a riveting rendition of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Silent Night” in Gaelic. My favorite track: “White is the Winter Night

John Denver and the Muppets  A Christmas Together

Doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an adult, this whacky Christmas listen spans the spectrum from funny to religious to near-irreverent.  Okay, so most carols don’t culminate with screaming “Run, run reindeer!” but the unexpected is what we love about the Muppets. John Denver’s stories and “The River Meets the Sea” balance it all out. “Christmas is Coming” cracks me up every time. Favorite Track: “Silent Night” (sung in German).

A Very Special Christmas 3

This is the best of the bunch of Very Special Christmas CDs. Who knew there could be a ska Christmas song professing to love everyone? Sting, Natalie Merchant, No Doubt. Admittedly, this is my college years in a Christmas album, so I’m slightly nostalgic for the artists, but I love the songs, too. Favorite Track: Tie between “Christmastime” by Smashing Pumpkins and “I Saw Three Ships” by Sting

Bonanza: Christmas on the Ponderosa

Before you think I’m old enough to have enjoyed Bonanza in its heyday, hold on there, Hoss. I took to this album from my mom’s childhood because a girl named Susie with red hair got to put the stor atop the Christmas tree.  The stories holding the songs together make you feel like you’re there on the Ponderosa lighting candles  on the Christmas tree (yikes!). Favorite track: “The New Born King”

Barenaked Ladies Barenaked for the Holidays

Any CD that includes the infamous “Batman smells, Robin laid an egg” verse of “Jingle Bells” is a must listen, at least once a holiday season. Plus their folksy Hanukkha songs brings my knownledge of Hanukkha songs to 4 (you can guess the other two). The organ renditions of carols makes me think I’m at the Lowry organ store in the Lehigh Valley Mall in 1988. Favorite track: “Elf Lament

Elvis It’s Christmas Time

Hey, it’s the king of rock ‘n’ roll. And boy does he have a lot of Christmas albums. He brings a rockin’ Christmas, but you also believe he cried in “Momma Loved the Roses” ( one of the many tracks from my childhood that as an adult I realized was very depressing, right up there with Merle Haggard’s “If we make it through December”). Favorite Track: “Blue Christmas

Any suggestions for holiday songs or CDs I should add to my collection?