Get Your Nails Did (Naturally)

As I predicted, I did not have time to try the homemade makeup recipe yesterday.

The odds aren’t looking a whole lot better today. Tomorrow I don’t have any music lessons so I’m determined to get it done then.

For today, I wanted to share something similar but even easier. I love doing my nails. I’m not all that good at it but the recent discovery of Winstonia nail stamping plates and other such marvels have made it easier and lots more fun.

I received some for Christmas and have tried out several designs already.

I also received these skinny nail tapes. And that’s what we’re talking about today.

If you haven’t caught on by now, I’m trying to cut out chemicals and live more naturally. Nail polish is one area I’m thus far failing at miserably.

Fortunately, there are a lot of toxin-free choices out there nowadays for the nail art obsessed. And these nail tapes are a great way to add a wow factor to an otherwise plain manicure, without any toxins or dangerous chemicals.

So, I’ve assembled a list of some great nail tape tutorials and ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Take a look, try some out and post the results. I tried one for New Year’s Eve and loved the way it turned out, but so far haven’t discovered the secret for making them stay put for more than a couple of days.

I’d love to see your results and read your tips so don’t be shy.

Enjoy!

No Link Ideas (no tutorials but you’re smart)

These are killer

Pink Negative Space Nails | All Nails Everything

Love the idea of having a blank space in between- reminds me of a backless dress

Id just choose one design and so it for all of the nails

Very “Tiffany’s”

17 Perfect Nail Designs With Striping Tape

Love the ring finger

17 Perfect Nail Designs With Striping Tape

Blue and gold always look good together

17 Perfect Nail Designs With Striping Tape

Looks great with upper finger rings

17 Perfect Nail Designs With Striping Tape

Not sure I could pull it off but I love looking at it!

And the tutorials: (click the pic)

Easy! - Pella Zab

I love textured nails and this one’s easy and classy

Manicure Monday: Chevron Nail Tutorial at LuLus.com!

striping-tape-manicure-revlon-indigo-night-maybelline-nail-polish-swatch

Would look great with other color combinations, too

And a couple of videos to make it even easier:

Black and Pink Tape Mani

Sea Foam and Gold with Pearls

(the pearls were a bit large for my taste but this one could be very cool with some adjustments)

Easy Striping and Scotch Tape Tutorial- Pink, Black, Silver

I Feel For Ya, Garfield

Monday. I hate Mondays.

Being in ministry, the weekends never feel much like weekends for me and Luke.

We don’t sleep in, we don’t rest and enjoy each other’s company, we don’t goof off and play Donkey Kong Country for exorbitant amounts of time. But I’m not about to complain.

Yesterday was a rare Sunday that we were caught up on what we needed to do (for the most part) and were able to spend some time lounging in bed after church and a nice lunch. We were back at the church at 4:00 to prepare for youth group and not home again until 7:30, but we both love the youth group kids and wouldn’t change anything.

All this to say; Mondays are the worst. Either 1) you do get a nice relaxing weekend and come Monday everything’s piled up and you so aren’t ready to tackle another week or 2) you had a productive weekend and worked steadily and you’re not rested enough to tackle another week. At least that’s how it feels to me.

So, to get to the point, today won’t be a super-involved post. I did want to share something I’ve been putting a lot of time and thought into, though.

As you know, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to live more naturally and healthfully. One of the ways I’m doing this is by kicking out chemicals and beginning to make my own hygiene, beauty and cleaning products. I decided to start with beauty products as that seemed like the most fun and immediately rewarding (something I need to keep myself motivated). I wanted an easy recipe to start with, and not too expensive. I found this free Kindle book on Amazon and am going to try out the Spicy Powder Foundation.

For detailed ingredients and instructions grab the Kindle book. If you’d rather try a recipe out first, you can follow my instructions and check back for pics and further tips later this week.

Ingredients: arrow root powder (or cornstarch if you KNOW your skin isn’t sensitive to corn or are willing to give it a try), cinnamon, cocoa powder, nutmeg, turmeric, ground ginger

Instructions: Pour about a tsp arrowroot or cornstarch onto a paper plate. Slowly add other spices (about 1/8 tsp at a time) until you’re happy with the color. Test frequently on the back of your hand. Use your current makeup as a quick comparison. KEEP TRACK of how much you add of each spice. Write it down as you go. When you’re finished, save the recipe, give it a shade name and keep it for future use. Store it in whatever little container you have/prefer and apply with a kabuki or fluffy brush.

(this is a kabuki brush from a brand i like)

You can double the batch and use half for a creamy foundation. We’ll tackle that later on.

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I’ll be doing that later this afternoon (or maybe later this week… my day is already getting away from me) and taking pictures to share the results with you, but for now I thought I’d share the recipe and see if you’d like to make this attempt with me. I also want to try out a super simple body scrub made from three kitchen ingredients.

Grl Look at Dat Body (Scrub)

click the pic for the original post for this scrub

As the author of “Kick Chemicals to the Curb” said, “If you can’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t be putting it on your skin.” 

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So what do you think? Maybe it seems a little odd and hippie-dippy to you, but keep in mind there are so many benefits of living naturally and no real reason not to. We’ll definitely be spending more time on this subject, but in the meantime have fun researching and experimenting with all the ways to live more naturally by diy-ing and making things your own (I love that you can make all of these look cute and it feels good knowing you made it yourself. They also make great gifts!)

Hopefully this makes your Monday a little better 🙂

Love always,

Tara

UPDATE: Apparently the Kindle book now costs $2.99 but it is well worth it!

Ringing in the New You

The New Year is almost upon us. Are you ready for it?

I am.

2014 was a good year; I have no complaints. But I love a fresh start and  a blank slate to fill up with new exciting things. New Year’s is easily one of my favorite holidays.

Not only do I get to see extended family that I only see a couple of times a year, but I get to take stock of the past year and look forward to what I can do differently to make the next one better- or EVEN better.

I don’t make massive New Year’s resolution lists. I learned as a teenager that that doesn’t really work. Instead I try to think of a few broad goals, then narrow those down with some markers to keep myself on track.

A long list of super specific goals doesn’t work, but a short list of far too broad goals doesn’t work either. Research tells us that our brains respond better and we form habits easier when goals are specific, so you have to find a middle ground between the broad and minute.

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I recently learned of a book and blog called Mini-Habits.

I haven’t checked it out too much so I won’t endorse just yet but I thought the idea was interesting. The author explains that before Mini-Habits he was having trouble exercising consistently. He told himself one day that he would do just one push-up, but that quickly turned into a set of push-ups. He said it was then he realized that setting very small, impossible-to-fail goals motivates us to get them done and gives us a confidence boost when we do. Then, we often go above and beyond that tiny goal, which means more confidence and more getting things done. I thought about that for a while and decided he had a point. I remember telling myself the other day that I had to clean out the fridge. The leftovers were lurking and stressing me out. I told myself I would just dump all the food and soak the dishes, but not scrub them clean, dry them and put them away just yet. To my surprise I not only dumped the leftovers and rinsed them clean but proceeded to load them and all the rest of the dishes up and wash a whole load.

Point being, there might be something to this theory that could possibly help with your New Year’s resolutions.

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So what kind of goals are you setting for yourself? Right now, I have three broad goals that I’m working on narrowing down:

1. Live more naturally and healthfully

2. Become more spiritually disciplined

3. Use time more wisely

That last one will definitely include making a cleaning schedule of sorts to keep up on those less-frequent chores that I seldom get around to doing (dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the oven, etc., as opposed to dishes, laundry and de-cluttering which are always there reminding me, nay, forcing me, to get it done) The second will definitely include doing some sort of devotion with prayer time every day. I have no excuse for not doing this already. As for the first one, Luke and I are really focusing on avoiding preservatives, GMOs, unnatural ingredients and chemicals. On top of that, we’re trying to eat less empty calories and consume more vitamins, antioxidants, lean protein and healthy fats. As for exercise, I haven’t even started planning that, seeing as the pregnancy makes things a little tricky. After the baby’s here and the initial exhaustion wears off we plan on, well, planning, I guess.

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Enough rambling! I’d like to hear from you, and I ‘d like to leave you with some fun things. New Year’s isn’t all about making major life changes; it’s also about parties and good times. Here are a few blog posts and things to help you ring in the New Year.

1. Get Pretty

Line your inner rim with gold for subtle sparkle.

with this Buzzfeed list

2. You need killer hair with that pretty face

gorgeous-new-year's-eve-hairstyle-ideas_05

Love this list (especially that bun) from Top Inspired

3. Guys, I haven’t forgotten you

e0b1132256766258c00e32c455a04494

Proper Kid Problems

4. Party time

ClaasyClutter.net

5. Food

buffalo chicken bites 1

How To This and That

6. Crafts

19 Quick And Easy New Year's Eve Crafts For Kids

How to This and That

7. Resolutions Apps

Sworkit

hongkiat.com

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That should get you started on your best year yet.

Seriously, let me know what you’re thinking. We could all use tips and advice so if you have any, please share.

I have a few fun tutorials coming up so stay tuned (especially if “more diy” is one of your resolutions).

Love always,

Tara

P.S. Please enjoy this lovely duet about New Year’s Eve by the loveable Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt

Screenshot (6)

Last Minute Christmas Gifts

Christmas is less than a week away and I’m still buying/making gifts.

I’ve found all sorts of tutorials and lists of ideas for you so you can hopefully fit in those last minute gifts before Christmas Eve.

Luckily for me, we don’t celebrate Christmas with my dad’s side of the family until New Year’s Eve, so I get a whole extra week for those guys.

Alright, let’s get started:

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1. First up, something pretty; diy rings

10 DIY rings!  Oh the lovely things: 60 DIY Accessories- Last Minute Gifts For Fashionistas

From Oh the Lovely Things

2. Next, remember these washi tape tea lights?

Washi Tea Lights t www.thebensonstreet.com

From The Benson Street

3. For the kids

From Little Crunchy Mama with super simple instructions and only 2 ingredients

(scroll down a bit once on her page)

4. For him

This huge list of fun diy gifts

From Everything Etsy

5. Not feeling Do-it-Yourself-y? Any of the gadgets from this list will thrill him:

From Imgur

(I got my husband this “grenade”)

6. How about your neighbor or mail person?

Free Printable Holiday Gift Tags

Here are 101 ideas from The Dating Divas

7. Everyone loves food

Double Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Stuffed Pretzels

From Baker By Nature

No-bake chocolate chip cookie dough truffles made with no eggs

From I Heart Naptime

(Planning on making some of these myself. And yes, they’re egg-free)

Sour Cream Cookies

Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies Recipe #BringtheCOOKIES

From Java Cupcake via In Katrina’s Kitchen.

(My sister’s getting these; she’s obsessed)

Check out my Pin Board for more delicious recipes.

8. One more (or 75) for the kiddos:

75+ INEXPENSIVE Handmade Gifts for Kids - so many great tutorials for great gift ideas! { lilluna.com }

From Lil’ Luna

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Hopefully that will get you started. Have any great tutorials or ideas to share?

Link us up in the comments. I’d love to hear from you or check out your blog.

Until then, happy gifting.

-Tara

P.S. Next week I’m sharing pretty gift wrap ideas and inspiration so stay tuned.

Even More Advent

So how is your St. Lucia’s Day going? Did you get up early and make a breakfast feast? Are you having a big brunch?

Luke and I chose to sleep in a bit, then made breakfast burritos and THIS delicious cranberry orange bread, only I replaced all the orange ingredients with lemon and doubled the glaze 🙂

Cranberry Orange Pound Cake from chef-in-training.com ...This Pound Cake is so moist and is perfect for the winter and holiday season!

Maybe not a traditional St. Lucia’s Day breakfast but it was yummy.

I’m going to keep this short today as we have a busy day planned, but I wanted to check in and ask about your holiday and talk a bit more about Advent.

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Let’s start with the Advent wreath and candles. I mentioned in my previous post on Advent that there are five candles (4 surrounding the fifth in the middle) and that each one represents something. You light one each Sunday in the four weeks leading up to Christmas, and the fifth one on Christmas Eve. Here’s a list of what each Advent candle represents:

Candle 1: (Sun Nov 30) Hope

Candle 2: (Sun Dec 7) Love

Candle 3: (Sun Dec 14) Joy

Candle 4: (Sun Dec 21) Peace

Candle 5: (Christmas Eve) The Christ Candle

Each candle represents a virtue that Christ brings to our lives, and finally Christ coming as a light to our dark world. We look ahead as well to Christ’s Second Coming in the days ahead. If your church doesn’t do this, or if you’d like to reinforce the idea with your family at home, I encourage you to buy a simple, small greenery wreath, four tapered candles and one pillar candle and make your own Advent wreath. I suggest having a Sunday dinner with your family, reading the appropriate verses, and lighting the candles each week. You can then pray a prayer based around that week’s candle and finally enjoy a meal with your family.

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This is a great way to forget the busyness of the holidays and spend some quality time with your loved ones. HERE is a link describing the colors of candles  to use (scroll to the ‘What you need’ section) and the verses to read each week (this one had a verse for every day, which is a great idea, or you could just read the ones listed for Sundays).

This website has a lot of other tips and ideas for celebrating Advent with your family. And remember, it’s not too late! You can catch up this weekend and finish the last two candles on their appropriate days.

You could also use this cute coloring page or one similar to help your kids remember what each candle represents.

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I’d love to hear from you about how your Advent celebrations are going. Let me know in the comments and photos are always encouraged.

Check back Monday and later next week for a Last Minute Christmas Bucket List and Last Minute Gift Ideas. Until then, Happy Advent!

-Tara

paper pyramids :: DIY advent calendar by Julie Ree

P.S. I LOVE this Paper Pyramid Garland from Julie Ree via At Home with Kim Vallee. There is a lot of cutting and folding with this template but those pyramids look identical to these Tea Forte boxes. You could simply cover up the two sides that are printed, or turn one to the back and just cover one side! Much simpler if you’re a tea lover like me. Start stocking up now and by next Advent you’ll have plenty of boxes to make your own calendar.

P.P.S! Don’t forget to make a gift bag or basket and deliver some goodies to someone who would appreciate it in honor of St. Lucia’s Day.

Ok, that’s it, really.

St. Lucia’s Day- Gift Baskets and 10 Fun Ways to Celebrate

Yesterday we talked about who St. Lucia was and why we celebrate her. We also talked about some St. Lucia’s Day traditions and recipes.

Today I’ll be sharing even more fun ideas on how to make this Saturday more than just another Saturday.

First up, let’s talk about the most important part of this Saint’s day; giving. Similar to St. Nicholas’ Day, giving is a major part of St. Lucia’s Day. Remember how St. Lucia took baskets of food and supplies to the Christians hiding in the catacombs in ancient Rome? She wore a wreath of candles on her head to light the way so she could use both hands to carry goods. She risked her life to help those in need.

When I was a kid, each person in my family would pick one person or family they wanted to give to. We’d make our list, then get gift bags ready. We usually put in some baked goods, a small gift like a candle or a flashlight (to reinforce the theme of light) and some other treats like popcorn and fruit. Then we’d make each person/family a card and explain about the holiday. On December 13th we’d go around to each house and present them with the gift. We did this for several years and since I come from a big family we reached out to a lot of people this way. Everyone was always very surprised and seemed touched that we thought of them.

Even though this is probably the busiest time of the year for you and your family, taking time to do these things will help you to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way and look past all the materialistic things we get so consumed with this season.

Here is a list of some things to include in your gift bag or basket:

  1. Baked goods (mini loafs made in disposable tins are perfect)
  2.  Fruit (oranges are great)
  3.  Popcorn (homemade or a few Orville Reddenbacher bags)
  4.  A candle
  5.  A flashlight and batteries
  6.  A grocery store gift card (if you know someone who would really use it)
  7.  Pretty soap bars
  8.  Candy canes
  9. A handmade card explaining the holiday and signed by your family

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So you’ve had your breakfast feast, your gift bags are prepped and ready to go later on, now what?

 Don’t let the fun stop after breakfast. There are so many activities to keep your bunch entertained until the last light on St. Lucia’s Day.

Let’s start with crafts:

1. Print and cut out these adorable Kirsten paper dolls

Go HERE then just hit ctrl+p to print. Cut out and enjoy.

2. Make St. Lucia peg dolls

Finishedlucias9

Go to Posie Gets Cozy and follow the instructions.

3. Make a paper Lucia crown or Star Boy hat

Stephanie Santa Lucia 03

You can find a tutorial from Kiddley or get creative and make your own design.

4. Decorate tealights

Buy a bag of unscented tea lights and a few rolls of pretty Washi tape at Walmart and go nuts. This is very fitting with the theme of St. Lucia’s Day and P.S. would be perfect for your gift baskets.

5.  Color a picture

You can find this one HERE or do a search to find even more.

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There’s more to do besides crafts:

6. Learn the St. Lucia song

This song is traditionally sung at the St. Lucia celebration in Sweden. Listen and see a performance HERE. Then look at the lyrics to understand the meaning of the song and maybe even sing along.

This website compares the Swedish and English lyrics side by side.

7. Learn to say Merry Christmas in Swedish and other languages

This website has more about St. Lucia and shows you how to say Merry Christmas in many languages. Have a contest to see who can remember the most.

8. Make Play Doh St. Lucia buns

Go to Making Learning Fun for a printable Play Doh mat with a St. Lucia bun template.

9. St. Lucia puzzle

Another cute idea from Making Learning Fun

10. Read a book

There are lots of books out there about St. Lucia. You can order this one from Amazon or maybe even find some at your local library. If nothing else, you could read a kid-friendly article or brief history online.

Then, if you want even more to do, make your own book with drawings and coloring pages and write the story in your own words.

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I hope this post has inspired you to celebrate St. Lucia’s Day in new and exciting ways. I can tell you from personal experience it made my childhood that much more magical. I’d love to hear from you about how you celebrate St. Lucia’s Day or how you plan to in the future. Take some photos this weekend of you and your family and let me know how your celebration goes, what your kids thought and if you tried any of these ideas.

Until then, keep checking back for more ways to add some wonder to your week.

Love always,

-Tara

P.S. Read yesterday’s post for even more ideas and how to make your breakfast feast.

St. Nicholas’ Day

Surprise your kids, spouse and loved ones with a gift that they’ll find in their shoes when they wake up- Tomorrow is St. Nicholas’ Day

No, I’m not talking about Christmas, though a lot of people seem to think the two are one in the same. Santa Claus, as you may know, is an adaption from the true story of a real man named Nicholas who was made a Saint because of his incredible story. I encourage you to learn more about the holiday and then take part in it but if you want to jump to the fun stuff, keep scrolling.

Who Was St. Nicholas?

The St. Nicholas Center website does a great job of summing this one up without leaving out too much detail. Here is their telling of St. Nicholas:

“The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

St Nicholas giving gold to father

“One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.”

There are so many other tales that show the character of St. Nicholas, the Gift Giver and Protector of Children. I highly recommend visiting the St. Nicholas Center website. They also have tons of ideas on how to celebrate St. Nick’s Day, craft and gift ideas, printables, as well as more articles on who St. Nicholas was and how we came to our modern adaption known as Santa Clause.

                                              

Some coloring page examples

By the way, I’m not Catholic, if you were wondering. Half of my family is but it was actually my Protestant mother that started the tradition of celebrating St. Nick’s Day and the upcoming St. Lucia’s Day in our family. They are fond memories from my childhood and you don’t have to be Catholic or believe in praying to saints to celebrate.

And now for that fun stuff.

St Nicholas famine relief

St. Nicholas’ Day is December 6th which means the night of December 5th is when you leave the gifts for your loved ones. Classic St. Nick’s gifts include candy canes, chocolate coins, clementines, as well as other small gifts. You can see where the oranges and chocolate gold coins come in from the story above; the candy cane is used to represent St. Nicholas’ crozier.

That thing in St. Nick’s hand is a crozier.

Growing up, my mom didn’t really stick with the traditional gifts. We usually got a small gift like a stuffed animal or head phones and our favorite candies. It was like a mini-Christmas we got to look forward to. As much as I loved that tradition, I’m planning to make my own traditions once Muggy (weird nickname for in-womb baby, remember) is old enough. I want to get the meaning of the holiday across and make that the focus. I would probably stick with the traditional gifts and explain why, as well as include something more personal and special.

It’s just me and Luke this year but that hasn’t stopped me. I’m planning on sneaking a few hidden gifts into his work boots in the wee morning hours since I’ll be up anyway to, well, wee (hashtag pregnancy problems).

I found a pattern on the St. Nick Center site that shows you how to turn a chocolate Santa into St. Nicholas. The patterns can be found here and you can choose what size based on your chocolate Santa.

For my St. Nick, I used the Palmer brand Double Krisp Kringle. He’s not quite as stoic as you might like but he was somehow the only chocolate Santa my local Walmart had. I also had to settle for fuzzy yellow chenille sticks rather than the cool gold ones from the pattern. Get the gold ones if you can!

I used red card stock for his miter  (Bishop’s hat) and I also colored out the words “Krisp Kringle” that were originally printed on the gift he’s holding with a black Sharpie. I like the fact that he’s holding a gift as it fits well the theme.

I measured how long I wanted my pipe cleaner, made the swirl and glued it on.

Then it was only the miter left to make. I used red card stock since I didn’t have any cool foil paper. Then I painted a little cross on the miter with Mod Podge and sprinkled glitter over.

I think he turned out nicely.

Remember, a big part of St. Nicholas’ Day is doing an anonymous act of kindness for someone. Here are some suggestions:

* Leave a gift card to a grocery store in the mailbox of someone who needs it

* Make a basket of baked goods and food and leave it on their doorstep

* Pay for the person’s order in line behind you at the drive-thru

* Tape quarters to a vending machine

* Shovel snow from someone’s drive. If you’re caught, explain why.

* Donate goods to a food bank or Goodwill

* Donate to Toys For Tots

* If you can, leave a note or print off some info from the website explaining St. Nick’s Day. Hopefully next year, the person you helped will join the tradition.

Here are some more fun ways to celebrate St. Nick’s Day for kids:

Puzzle 2                                                                         

                             1. St. Nick puzzle       2. How to draw St. Nick       3. St. Nick cut out

Lots more HERE

P.S. See those cookies in the boots in the top picture? I have the recipe and they’re delicious. Check back tomorrow. Til then, enjoy your St. Nicholas’ Day!

Tara