Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Homemade Holiday Decorations

A lot of people have skipped the designer stores this Christmas, and have taken to making homemade decorations for the holidays. I've stumbled across some innovative ideas where regular household items have been converted into elegant decorations with the help of some tender love and care... and not to mention, some glitter and glue! Here are 10 ideas featuring some of my favourite (and easy) DIY Christmas decoration projects.

Old light bulbs repurposed into ornaments with the help of some glitter!

Decorate simple white candles with cinnamon sticks and ribbon. You can also place candles of varying sizes in mason jars and vases, and fill the containers half way up with fresh cranberries or chestnuts for a lovely holiday feel.

Fill clear glass ornaments with creative ideas. I like the peacock feather.

For the Scrabble fanatic! Make an assortment of Christmas words with Scrabble letters.

Use sparkle spray paint on an assortment of branches, and place them in a glass vase for festive cheer. The best part about this DIY is that you can also hang mini ornaments and trinkets from the branches for a personal touch!

I couldn't leave Martha Stewart off this list, could I? I love this beautiful way of displaying Christmas cards. Another simple way is by hanging ribbon from doors and curtain rods, and clipping the cards on with clothespins.

For the music lovers! An easy DIY project with the help of glue and some sheet music. 

And the alternative, made with vintage newspaper and glitter. I absolutely adore this! 

Decorate a curtain rod with ornaments hung by matching ribbons.

A beautiful DIY wreath that you can hang on your door or over the fireplace.

So there you have it — 10 fun and easy DIY projects for Christmas. Do you have any favourite craft projects for the holidays?


Images courtesy of Google Images and

Monday, 12 December 2011

10 Unique Christmas Trees

One of my favourite holiday traditions as a child was setting up the Christmas tree with my family. We had a fake one that we reused every year, along with an assortment of antique ornaments (mostly angels and baubles in different colours and sizes). Every year I'd anticipate the beginning of December because it meant the tree would come out of storage, and we'd proceed to adorn it with the usual trimmings — complete with cotton balls to mimic snow. (The joys of growing up in a tropical country!)

There's something absolutely magical about tastefully decorated Christmas trees, isn't there? The lights, the tinsel, the ornaments — the entire package can add warmth and comfort to a room in an instant.

I have decided to dedicate this blog post to a few friends who share my love for Christmas trees. I've curated 10 lovely images featuring fun and creative trees that I'm sure you'll adore. Some are uniquely trimmed, and others are traditional to different parts of the world. Cheers!

Recycled for Christmas

For book lovers everywhere!

Treats of Sushi

Objects of My Affection

99 Bottles of Christmas...

All I want for Christmas is a bicycle... or two.

Taters and Tots for Christmas

Gumdrops and jellybeans, oh my!

Pac-Man for the win!

Ginseng Roots for all! (This one takes me back to my days in South Korea.)

For more fun and festive trees from around the world, check out this awesome slide show, over at What do you think of these trees? Do you have a personal favourite? If you have your own collection of unique Christmas tree images, you can always share them on our Facebook page.


Images courtesy of Google Images

Friday, 9 December 2011

Festive Baking

We're almost at mid-December, and I'm starting to get into the festive spirit. I've always enjoyed baking, and I think the Christmas season begs for some relaxing time spent in the kitchen. Yes, I said 'kitchen' and 'relaxing' in the same sentence!

Nothing brings me more joy over the holidays than setting aside time to listen to carols, while baking festive treats for friends and family. How comforting is the smell of freshly baked shortbread? What about ginger molasses cookies? These smells send me into a state of nostalgia —the good kind! The kind where every one of my senses gets engulfed in happy memories.

So I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some of my favourite recipes with you. These aren't family secrets (I'll save those for another post... maybe!), but they're a blend of tried and trues, and ones I'd like to attempt over the holidays this year.

Classic shortbread cookies, all dolled up for the holidays. Shortbread cookies are my standard go-to when it comes to baking. Easy, delicious, and SO much fun to decorate.

I get especially excited over Christmas time because Hershey's brings out their Candy Cane Kisses. These beauties are chocolate peppermint cookies with Candy Cane Kisses. A delicious blend of some of my favourite things!

One of my best recipes for family and friends is this delicious chocolate chip cheesecake, with an Oreo cookie crust. It took me a few tries to get it right, but now it's a recipe I turn to at almost any celebration.

My friend Melissa baked these fantastic vanilla bean cupcakes, with strawberry buttercream during a get together this past weekend. She found the recipe online. The cupcakes are delicious by themselves, but the buttercream is unbelievable. She took fresh strawberries and mixed them in a food processor, then added them to the buttercream. The result? Buttercream that tastes more like strawberries than sugar. Delicious!

Love 'em or leave 'em, no Christmas bake-a-thon is complete without a classic rum fruitcake. My mother has a great recipe that she turns to every year. She even soaks the fruit slices in rum, months ahead. The smell of the cake baking in the oven sends me into nostalgic overdrive.

So what are your festive baking plans for Christmas? Do you have your own tried and true recipes you turn to? Or perhaps you're attempting something new this year? Do you have any secret recipes passed down through the generations? I'd love to hear from you.

Whatever you find yourself doing in preparation for Christmas, I hope you have fun! I hope you're surrounded by love and laughter, and that your experiences give way to wonderful memories you'll cherish and turn to in the years to in the years to come.


Images courtesy of and Google Images

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Twinkle Happy

I've found a new guilty pleasure online. It's this fantastic site called Pinterest, and I'm absolutely hooked. I posted an entry a few months back with some lovely images I found on that site — Paper Inspired. It's actually one of the most popular posts on this blog.

So since we're into December, and with the holidays just around the corner, I thought I'd share some of my favourite images that add a little twinkle to my day. These are also easy do-it-yourself projects, which can completely change the ambiance in your space. Who knew you could do so much with mason jars?!


Images courtesy of

Quit the Quiet

I'm horrified at how long it's been since I posted a blog entry. Straight From The Curls used to be my safe place. I would find solace in my writing. I would come here to de-stress and share little pieces of my life with you. And for the past few months it's been impossible to spare a few moments to just breathe and let my thoughts process.

I don't like how things are at the moment, so rest assured that one of my resolutions for the coming year will be to find my way back to Straight From The Curls on a more frequent basis. 2011 will go down in history as one of the most tumultuous years of my life. There have been health scares, career ups and downs, utter confusion about life choices, and moments when I've truly felt alone in this big world. Perhaps it sounds a bit dramatic, but I can say with certainty that I am coming out of a messy mid-twenties crisis — partially of my own making, and partially the result of external factors.

On the plus side, this year also acknowledged a couple of positive firsts in terms of my career — editing my first nationally produced magazine and a monthly stint as a health columnist. Two things that I only dreamed about a couple of years back. It's been a tough year, but I got what I asked for, so I've been lucky.

I'm making a few changes in 2012. It's funny how people get so introspective at this time of the year, huh? For one thing, I've been reducing my lists on social media. I think it's great that 'Sally' from elementary school wants to become friends on Facebook, but if the only reason she's adding me is to troll around my profile and not say a word, then chances are, Sally, I'm going to delete you asap.

Isn't it funny? Did you ever think in, say... 2002, that this would even be a problem 10 years down the road? About someone from your past who you've made no efforts to stay in touch with, all of a sudden resurfacing, and with the click of a few buttons goes on to find out about what you've been up to since your grade eight graduation? Not cool.

Life certainly has changed a lot in the past decade. And it's weird, but I think more and more people are remaining static instead of changing along with the ebbs and flows of life. We're spending way too much time in front of a computer screen, watching other people live their lives, instead of actually making our own memories. Adding chapters to our own lives.

I know that for now, I won't be able to fully disconnect from social media. It's part of my job, and it's part of how I share my work. In fact, as soon as I publish this post, it will appear on my Twitter and Facebook feeds. But I'm hoping I can change the way I use social media. I'm hoping that it's something I can turn to when I need it, as opposed to logging on out of habit. Someone referred to it as social media snacking.

Definitely need to cut back on the social media snacks.


Image courtesy of

Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween

Guest Post: The Happiest Rooms

Hello, I’m Joanna, a writer for Arcadian Lighting, a great source for beautiful lighting. My work takes me daily around the world (via the Internet) on a mission to find the most incredible interior designs and furnishings on the Web. Thanks to Straight from the Curls for letting me share with you!

Bright colors make us happy, energize us, and generally, make us feel good. When creating a home with bright colors, decorating ideas are seemingly limitless. Whether you add pops of color with colorful glass light fixtures or lots of color with a brightly-hued area rug, you’ll find it brings joy to your everyday life. Here are some of the happiest rooms around!

Bright Rooms
This warm orange sitting area feels very Indian with its carved settee, textured fabrics and lovely tasseled pillows. An adjustable floor lamp adds a modern touch to an otherwise classic space.

Bright Rooms Chandeliers
Cheery lemon-yellow chairs brighten this transitional space while light blue walls reflect ambient light from the room’s large windows.

Bright Interiors Lamps
Lemon and lime furnishings brighten this city apartment with its pale gray walls and floor. Yellow panels on the windows welcome the natural light in to illuminate the room even more.

Bright Interiors Lamps
We’ve been having a romance with turquoise for awhile now. We see it everywhere: on walls, floors, beds, pillows and even lighting fixtures. This room, with its high white floor and furnishings, enjoys a bit of color with a boastful blue wall.

Bright Interiors
We love, love, love this pink and white dressing room! A fun floral lining in the open-faced armoire and on the pouf, make way for the brilliant fuchsia of the accent walls and rug.

Bright Interiors
The color of nature, green (in all its hues) is everywhere. This living room is a perfect example of how shades of green can flow together to create a cohesive and naturally happy environment.

Bright Interiors Lamps
In such a traditional setting, one might think lime green and aqua inappropriate. We beg to differ, this room makes us smile, especially those curvy green lamps and their interesting shades.

Bright Interiors Ceiling Lights
This room is so energetic and fun…I love the floral ceiling. The crisp light flowing through the large windows highlights a sumptuous purple rug.

Discover a wide variety of design ideas to suit your every mood over at Arcadian Lighting's blog!

Arcadian Lighting is the best source for lighting fixtures and accessories at discount prices. Arcadian Lighting has been in the lighting industry for over 15 years selling decorative home lighting fixtures and lamps online, and has become one of the top Internet retailers for home lighting products.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

A World Without Jerks?

Generally speaking, we're a bunch of jerks. We really are. I don't know if it's because I've experienced a terrible couple of incidents over the last few hours, but right now, I've got a general distaste for humanity.

A few months back I noticed a new ad campaign become prevalent on TTC billboards in Toronto. The campaign, featuring simple graphics and text, is part of this movement encouraging people to do good. It's called the People For Good project.

When I first stumbled across it, I couldn't help but smile, because I thought, "Wow! Here's a group of people who truly want to do well by this world. What a refreshing use of ad space!"

As time went by I began to notice more of these posters, and not just on the TTC anymore. The campaign had spread to the street, stores, and to bus shelters across the city.

I never really thought Toronto was a bad city, you know? I never thought it was filled with people who turn to anger before kindness, and selfishness over simple human consideration. I mean, I understood the point of the campaign, but I didn't think we needed to be reminded of it everywhere we went... to choose good.

But after my experiences this evening hit a boiling point, I realized just how essential it was. The sad reality is that we NEED to be reminded to do good. To be good. To choose good.

Today was a good day. After a stream of not-so-good days, I welcomed the end of my working hours, and headed to to the subway for my daily ride home. I stopped off to pick up my October metro-pass at the TTC booth, and after paying with my debit card, I asked the collector for a receipt. This request was met with a series of angry remarks from him, along with demeaning comments at a very loud tone:

"You already have your debit receipt!"

"You already have a receipt in your hand, why do you need another one? Can't you see what's already in your hand?"

"What the hell is wrong with you? Are you stupid? Woman, just get out of here!" 

My request was simple: I asked him to provide me with an additional receipt to go along with my purchase, because another TTC employee had informed me in previous months, that this was needed for my own accounting purposes. But the employee from today's incident didn't want to hear it. Instead of explaining it to me simply, or asking me for my reason, he chose to yell and humiliate me in front of a growing line of customers.

If I didn't need an additional receipt, he simply had to tell me. If he didn't understand my request, he simply had to ask me. There was no need to yell.

Anyway, I walked away feeling about two feet tall, and completely embarrassed. All because I made a simple request. And for the record, I always pay with my debit card, and when I ask for a receipt, other TTC employees always provide a written one... that includes their signature and employee number.

*Deep Breath*

So suffice to say, my good day did a 180 and turned utterly horrible from this single incident. An incident that could have been avoided with simple customer service (that the TTC prides itself in delivering), active listening and understanding.

Then, while I was getting on the train, I saw a young man standing in the doorway while people were trying to get on. He was blocking the entrance, and making people walk around him, while he stood there with his backpack.

After a number of people squeezed through, one older man said, "Do you mind moving in a bit please? There's people trying to get on."

This simple comment made the young man so angry. The audacity that someone asked him to move in and show some consideration to the people trying to get on the train.

He smirked and responded  with, "Show some respect! Why do you care where I stand?"

Really? Show some respect? You're saying this to an older man who is asking you to show some consideration. The way I see it, you and your 15-year-old self have a lot to learn about respect. And of course he cares where you stand. We all do! Especially when where you choose to stand is making it difficult for other people to get into the train.

Most days, I just really don't understand people.

And then I got to thinking about this campaign. Wow! How desperately do we need it? How desperately do we need to be reminded that life doesn't have to move at a thousand miles a minute? That we don't need to be so quick to jump to judgment. That a wee bit of understanding can make such a huge difference in situations, and in life all together.

What's to gain out of being mean? All you're doing is hurting someone else. I understand that some situations warrant quick wit and rebuttal, because let's face it -- some people deserve what's coming to them. But in everyday behaviour? What do we have to gain by being rude? Unless you're some sort of sadist who thrives on the misfortune of others and from making people feel beneath you. If that's the case, I feel sorry for you. Life is about so much more than sitting on a high chair and looking down your nose at people.

There's something to be said about really connecting with people. About listening. About paying attention to things that don't necessarily involve you. About having points in your day, week, month, where you choose selflessness and kindness.

Doing good and seeing the reaction you get from your actions -- the smiles, the aura that changes from one of darkness and doom to hopefulness? There's nothing quite like it. It fills your soul and it becomes contagious.

So try it. Choose good. Do good. And watch how the wave spreads and takes over humanity. There really is no catch.

Call me a hopeless optimist, but I truly believe (down to my toes) that it's possibl/

Images Courtesy of Google Images

Sunday, 11 September 2011

9/11 - You May Say I'm a Dreamer

"You may say I'm a dreamer.
But I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us.
And the world will live as one."
- John Lennon

A lot of people have spent today reflecting on their whereabouts exactly 10 years ago. Almost everyone can perhaps remember where they were, and what they were doing when they found out the twin towers in New York City had come down, as the result of a terrorist attack.

Me? I was one week into my grade 11 year in high school. I can't quite remember which class I was in while it was happening, but I do remember where I was when I found out. Our second period English teacher had been called away with the rest of the staff for an 'emergency meeting.' When she came back into the classroom, she looked pale and obviously shaken up. She, then, choosing the best words she could muster given the situation, proceeded to tell us that there was an 'attack' in New York City, and that we wouldn't be on a regular schedule for the rest of the day. Little did I realize that the schedule I'd known up until that point, would never be the same again. Not for me. Not for the rest of the world.

2001 was a pivotal year in my life. I turned 16 that summer, to a lot of chaos, both personally, and externally. I never realized that the events of that year would have ramifications so far into the future.

I'm not going to go into details about my thoughts on the fact that this tragedy has resulted in more wars and hate crimes in our world. But suffice to say, I don't think we've learned anything since the tragedy that was 9/11. That, in and of itself, is it's own kind of tragedy.

I do believe, however,  that a new generation with a new understanding has emerged -- one that strives for peace, and is fueled by hope. It's inspiring.

But there are still a lot of people in power -- the decision makers and influencers -- who are choosing not to promote change for the better. They're encouraging hate in political platforms, and are drawing lines among citizens who should be working together for the common good. They're promoting fear, when they should be encouraging hope and love.

Call me dramatic, but this is just how I see it right now. I sometimes catch the broadcasts on conservative news networks, and get goosebumps. I can't believe people are allowed to stand on their soapboxes and say the things they do. It's all so heartbreaking.

Here's my hope.

I'm hoping that 10 years from now, we'll be able to look back as a world that's managed to piece itself together. That we're encouraging peace and taking the time to break down walls. That we're teaching our children to think and act with love in their hearts, rather than hate. And that our priorities remain more focused on engaging in discourse where we're actually listening to each other, instead of focusing on getting the last word.

It might be a tall order, but a girl can imagine, right?

I'd like to end this post with one of my favourite singers, Neil Young, performing a tribute cover of John Lennon's iconic song, Imagine.

Here's wishing you, dear readers, lots of love and peace, from my heart to yours.

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