Gold and Silver Leaf Ornaments

by ilene on December 19, 2014 · 2 comments

in christmas, decor, holidays



Yesterday, I shared how I had Zoey decorate some Christmas ornaments for our Christmas tree with silver and gold acrylic paint and some tips I had for painting with a toddler.   I bought a bunch of the same ceramic ornaments for myself to decorate, too, because why should the 2 year old have all the fun, right? I invited my friend K to come over after Zoey went to bed and we had our own little ornament decorating party.  I got these star and ball ornaments from Michaels in November when they were on sale for about $1 each:foil_ornament6

I shared a tutorial a couple years ago on how to silver leaf when I re-did some decorations on our wall.  I had still had my silver leafing starter kit from that project which came with some gold leaf sheets. I had bought some extra silver leaf sheets, too, so I was able to use those to decorate these ornaments. Silver/gold leafing is pretty straight forward but can get kind of messy if you aren’t careful.   I made sure to cover the table I was working on because little microscopic flakes of foil flew everywhere and will drive you crazy.  They are impossible to pick up with your fingers!  I followed the instructions in the kit which was to first brush on the adhesive glue with a paint brush in the design I wanted:


Wait 45 minutes for the glue to dry, then press the metallic leaf sheet into the sticky glue with a soft brush and gently brush off any excess foil:foil_ornament8

If I missed a spot, I dabbed a little bit more glue on it and then added more leaf to it.   Then I carefully painted the sealant over the leafed parts to protect it from flaking off.  Set aside to dry.

My designs were pretty simple, but my friend K came up with some pretty fancy decorations! I wish I took pics of the ones that she made.



Some are hanging on our tree and some I mixed in a bowl of other silver and gold ornaments, including some of the ornaments that Zoey painted:
I love how these turned out!   The handprint ornament was one that Zoey made last year when she was just one years old!



See how I glass-etched some glass ornaments a few years ago, too!

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I always thought I’d be one of those moms who were super active and creative, always coming up with fun activities to engage her children’s imaginations and teaching them through interactive, hands-on learning experiences.   I thought I would be one of those upbeat, high energy moms who never seem to tire and come up with memorable activities that my daughter would cherish for years to come. I mean, I have a master’s in education from Harvard, you would think I would try to use it.  But no, these days, I’m usually counting down the minutes ’til naptime/bedtime, longing to climb into bed myself, and turning to the tv/ipad/iphone more often than I would like to admit.  One thing I’ve really want to do is spend more time with Zoey doing art projects.  So far, she has shown no absolutely interest or talent in art. Just like her dad.  She has a pretty short attention span, being only 25 months old, so its been a challenge coming up with projects that hold her attention and are appropriate for her age level.  I really hope she shows an interest in crafting one day. I dream of the day that she will set next to me at a table and we can sew together!

This holiday season, I enlisted Zoey’s help in painting ornaments for our tree.   Look how happy she was to get her paint on!



Setting up a craft for my toddler can sometimes be more work and hassle than its worth.  I try to do all the preparations during her nap time so that it’ll be all ready for her when she wakes up. The key to doing messy projects like this is lots of wet wipes and supervision!  I’m a little neurotic about mess, especially when dealing with acrylic paint, so I had her sit in her hair chair and taped butcher paper on top of the tray. She also has this long sleeve coverall (similar to this one) that she wears whenever we do anything with paint. I bought a bunch of these ceramic ornaments from Michaels at 50% off so they were a little over a $1 each.  I took off the metal part and ribbon on the ornaments and set them on a egg carton to keep them from rolling around while she painted:


I limited the color palette to silver, gold and silver glitter to keep the ornaments from looking too crazy and gave her one color at a time to paint with.   I squirted one color on a paper plate and let her choose one paint brush to use for that color.  I gave her a couple ornaments at a time and then I would remove the ones from her reach when she was done with them and let them dry on another egg carton.  Look at the little painter hard at work:


They turned out pretty good!! Not bad for a two year old!ornamentpainting4

Zoey painted about 8 of these before she called it quits.  We are giving some of them to family as Christmas presents. The rest are hung on our tree with a piece of satin ribbon and her name/year on it written with a black Sharpie:

I think they would look pretty cute tied on top of a gift or even piled up in a bowl as decor:ornamentpainting6
We also invited a few of Zoey’s friends over to decorate the leftover ornaments using paint pens.   These turned out super cute, too, and were a lot less mess!



Check out the simple handprint ornaments that Zoey made last year when she was just one year old:



Stay tuned tomorrow to see how I decorated some of the ceramic ornaments myself with gold and silver leaf!

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(6 weeks late, but better late than never!) 


My Zozobean,

Hi baby girl! This second year of your life, I’ve seen you really shine. Your dad and I continually marvel at you as you reveal more and more of your playful personality to us. You are passionate, whip smart, funny, silly and so much fun to be around. Even though you stand at 34 inches tall and weigh only 22.5lbs, you are our little fierce firecracker. You have the rare ability to light up any room.  Your joy, spirit and energy captivate us. Aptly named, you are full of LIFE.


Like all parents, we think that our child is just brilliant. You truly are amazing! Friends and family marvel at your verbosity and smarts. You speak in complete sentences already, learned how to spell your name at 16 months and mastered the alphabet at 22 months. I’m constantly surprised by your perceptivity, language skills and your astounding memory. To our amazement, you can remember song lyrics, books, words and events months after they have happened. Your ability to retain and recall information is truly astounding. (This, we all know, you did not get from your father.)

This past year, we have seen you exploding with words. You are a non-stop chatterbox, constantly talking (or singing), most often demanding things. You have always known what you have wanted (a friend once described you best when they said you “possess a strong sense of self”) and now you finally have the vocabulary to express what’s going on in that spunky little heart of yours.

Some of the phrases that you say that make my heart sing:

  • I love you, mommy
  • I excited! I happy!
  • Thank you, mama
  • It’s so fun!
  • I’m here! Zoey’s here!
  • Mommy pretty
  • Jesus is in my heart, praise the Lord!
  • Zoey did it!
  • Hakuna Mattata!
  • Go Giants! Go Duke!
  • There, all better
  • I funny
  • Oh, so beautiful!
  • There you are!

Some of the words you say that make my heart sink:

  • Uhoh, what happened?
  • I fart
  • Daddy fart
  • NonoNO, I wanna play!
  • Uh oh, broken
  • Big diaper
  • All wet
  • Where you going? Come back!
  • I tired
  • I so crazy
  • I hurt
  • Mama, get up! Get up!

We hope your knack for quickly learning new things will come in handy when we tackle your next big challenge: potty training.


Even a bigger surprise than your language skills is your emerging talent for entertaining. You are a pure performer. You love to sing and dance. You love ballet, family dance time, wearing your tutu, listening to music and belting out Frozen songs at the top of your lungs. I’m completely perplexed where you got these genes from, as your father and I obviously did not pass these on to you, but you truly shine on stage. Quite regularly, you sing yourself to sleep and wake up with a song on your lips.  We love this about you.

Like your dad, you have shown yourself to be a true extrovert. You come alive when surrounded by people. You hop into a circle of friends- kids and adults alike- and announce “Hi, everybody!” or “I’m here! Zoey’s here!”   You love playing with your buddies, especially older boys (we are in trouble!). While we are still working on sharing your toys, you love having your friends come over and greet them with loud shrieks, jumping up and down and huge hugs.   You love going to MyGym classes and ballet school and have proved to be an excellent listener and obedient student (though I’m not sure why this doesn’t apply at home, too). While, ironically, you still don’t like going to Sunday School, we have made huge progress recently and last Sunday, you were able to stay through a whole Sunday service by yourself. Though I saw your tear-stained cheeks and snot-crusted nose when I picked you up, you made me so proud with your bravery. Like you proudly proclaimed, “Zoey did it! Big girl, don’t cry.” Such a hard fought battle its been that we got a standing ovation by the church staff when we left.

This past year, you were lucky enough to travel to Hawaii (twice!), Las Vegas, San Diego, North Carolina, Boston, DC, Seattle and numerous trips to visit Ahma/Ahgong in Orange County. In your short 2 years, you have taken 38 flights!  You are quite the jet setter! You have an adventurous spirit and have shown us that you adapt well to new situations. You love meeting new people and exploring new places. We hope to keep fostering this curiosity in you and take you on more fun adventures.

Although we are proud of your many gifts and talents, we hope to instill some other equally important qualities in you: namely kindness, compassion and patience.   Unfortunately for you, you inherited your mom’s feistiness and strong will which often leads you and I to butt heads. Our daily battles have really stretched me to grow in love and patience as I try to understand and embrace the unique person that God created you to be.  I’ve always said that my biggest challenge as your mother is to channel all your passion towards good and I pledge to do my best this coming year to guide you in this way. Your father and I pray that you will continue to grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). You have so many gifts and talents, our desire is for you to use them towards furthering God’s Kingdom.


This next year of your life will undoubtedly bring many new changes and challenges for you as we welcome a new baby sister into the family in just a couple short months. My heart already hurts knowing that this will be a difficult transition for you but Mommy promises to do whatever she can to help you grow into your role as big sister.   Knowing that you are my strong, brave and fearless girl assures me that you will tackle any challenge with tenacity. Your indomitable spirit gives me hope that you will be an amazing older sister who will be a great role model to your sibling and a leader in our family.  Know that you are so loved by me. You are my firstborn and will always have a special place in my heart. You are my pride and joy. My everything.

Happy 2nd birthday, my baby girl!





Also read: My letter to Zoey on her first birthday.






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See yesterday’s post to read the first part of this series on Zoey’s 2nd Birthday Party. The theme was “Zozo’s Zoo”.

For party favors, I bought 3 dozen of these adorable animal hand puppets from  Zoey already had a set of these puppets and plays with them EVERY DAY so I knew her little friends would love them, too.  The animals are pretty cute and really affordable.   I stuffed each one with tissue paper and tied a little tag around their necks that said “Thanks for visiting Zozo’s Zoo!”   To display them, I lined them in a cardboard box (an jcrew shipping box) and glued a paper white picket fence around them to create a little animal pen:


You can’t really see in the above photo but I also lined the box with some faux paper grass.  The rest of the animals were piled into this white bucket with more fake grass: 

In addition to the animal puppets, I also had these cute animal lollipops for the guests to take home:


My awesome sister helped me make five dozen cupcakes for the party – half chocolate and half vanilla.  These were made the day before the event and I frosted right before the party.  When I know I have to travel with a large amount of cupcakes, I make the frosting a couple hours beforehand and keep them in icing bags in the fridge.  Then I quickly frost them when I get to the venue so that they don’t get smashed enroute. I learned this the hard way!  It’s really hard to transport 60 cupcakes without ruining them!


I used this easy buttercream recipe that I found here.  This recipe is by far the easiest and quickest buttercream frosting that I have ever made.  It turned out light, fluffy and perfect. I tried to just put just a small dollop of frosting on the cupcakes so that the kids don’t get too sugared up:


We also had a snack bar filled with animal-shaped goodies:zozozoo10


We had teddy grahams, gummy bears, animal crackers, goldfish, cheddar bunnies and circus animal crackers to snack on.   Guests could make their own snack bags and bring them home with them, too.   For the main meal, we just ordered pizza for everyone (we asked the pizzeria to cut the pizza slices in half so that they would be perfectly-sized for smaller appetites), veggie platters and mandarin oranges.  We kept the food really simple this year.

I also gathered a bunch of Zoey’s animal books for our young guests to read and set up an art station with animal stickers, markers, card stock and coloring pages:


That’s it!  I told Jeff that after this year’s party, I want to keep next year’s small, but who knows, its hard not to get swept up in all the planning and excitement!

Read more about Zoey’s 2nd Birthday here.

Read about Zoey’s 1st Birthday here.

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The two things I look forward to every year are planning Zoey’s birthday party and sending our annual Christmas cards.  Both bring me so much joy!  And both are so important to me that Jeff happily hands the reigns over to me and lets me call all the shots.  He knows not to mess with me when I’m on a mission.  His only responsibilities for this particular party were to order pizza and make sure the sound system was hooked up.  Lucky guy got off easy this time.

For Zoey’s second birthday party, I chose the theme “Zozo’s Zoo“.  The theme was a no-brainer for us, our little girl is OBSESSED with animals!!! We go to the San Francisco Zoo at least once a month and she knows all the animals.  She loves to imitate them, make all the animal sounds and dance like her favorites.  Her current favorites are monkeys, giraffes and elephants, though it changes every day.  I figure this is probably the last year I could pick out the theme of her birthday party as she is growing up and becoming more and more opinionated.  I’m sure next year she will want a princess party so this year, I was relishing making all the decisions myself!  Plus, I loved being able to surprise our animal-lover with all the zoo details.  We tried to keep the party smaller and simpler than last year’s 100 person bash but still ended up having over 70 guests.  Zoey is one lucky and well-loved little girl!

My original plan was to have a small petting zoo with baby animals, like chicks, pot belly pigs and bunnies. How awesome would that have been?  But being in the middle of a big city in a big high-rise building, I knew it would be hard to pull off. So we made do with plan B: a balloon animal artist!  We hired the amazing Mr Shap who was a total hit with the kids.  He came with a special zoo hat for the birthday girl adorned with all kinds of animals and made all sorts of other complex figures for the kids like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Frozen’s Elsa.   We also had a bubble machine blowing outside for the kids to run around (Super fun!! I highly recommend this bubble machine) and a short story time where my sister read one of Zoey’s favorite animal books.

For decorations, I bought and downloaded cute animal images from etsy (from this awesome vendor) rather than try to draw them myself.  This saved me a TON of time!   I spent lots of evenings making yards of paper bunting and flags to decorate the room.  We also hung up the same 8 foot birthday banner that I ordered from last year in the background (see the same banner at last year’s party):


I made this welcome sign by cutting all those letters and animals and taping them onto a 3 foot long chalkboard sign that I already had:


Lots of bunting, flags and signage were made!

The color scheme was red, turquoise, green and yellow, so I ordered helium balloons in those colors.  I found these cute animal stickers that I stuck onto some of the balloons to turn them into little animals:
I also ordered these animal inflatable beach balls to decorate around the room, which were given away at the end of the party:
zozozoo12 zozozoo13

I wish I had more pictures of the decorations but in the haste to get everything set up before guests arrived, I forgot to take a lot of photos!  I don’t even have a picture of the main food table!   Or a lot of the bunting and decor I made!  Stay tuned tomorrow though for a few more details like dessert and party favors!

Read Zoey’s 2nd Birthday Party, Part 2

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