Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Handcrafted Holiday ~ the homemade gifts of 2011

These are the gifts we gave out this year from our little workshop.  I couldn’t show them on here early because quite a few of the people that got them read this blog.  It was hard not to share the ideas, but as it stands, I am already filing things away for next year and if you are too these may be perfect for filing away and making early for your own loved ones!

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This one was a collaboration between Alex and I.  I used dried craft moss as the base which is glued to the bottom with clear dry glue and then I put in the tiny cranes Alex made.  It was kind of like a ship in a bottle… I needed skewers and glue dots, etc.  It was so worth it though!   I think they are beautiful and would gladly put a set on my tree… after the baby wouldn’t smash them.  Perhaps I’ll make some and put them away for next year.  I am also excited about new paper options for the cranes.  We tried several things and the ones that worked the best were plain paper.  I since have gotten some really pretty origami paper and am going to try to make some from that too.  (The ornaments I got from the craft store.  They had glass and plastic.  We used both depending on who was receiving the gift.)

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Next gift was a work with Logan. He wanted to give everyone popcorn.

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So I made popcorn toppings in ranch, cinnamon sugar, and pizza flavors.  Then added in organic multicolored popcorn and a jar filled with dark chocolate M&M’s and two movie tickets for the theater. 

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We used some of the left over topping last night while watching Kung Fu Panda 2… it was quite awesome!  (The movie was good too.) 

Logan obviously wanted to give me something similar…. I know this because a week before Christmas we had this conversation:

“Hey mama.  We got you a present. 

I can’t tell you what it is. 

I can just give you a little hint…

It pops popcorn.” 

(Good thing he didn’t give me a BIG hint, huh?  Gotta love 4 year olds!)

This was the gift for the grandparents this year.

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I am pretty sure that since you saw my holiday card and my banner that you saw this one coming.  I still think it turned out lovely!  It took a while to find a 4 opening picture frame… so just in case you would like to make one of your own, save yourself some time and go to Michael’s for the frame.  It’s the place that has them. Smile I am still seriously enjoying the one that is up next to my new mantel

These were for Luke from me. 

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Two have plastic bags that crinkle inside for some added fun.  They are all nice wool felt too… so lovely to feel (and taste, I'm sure).  Pattern from this post on The Purl Bee.  I decided to blanket stitch the ends instead of turn them because the felt fabric choice is super thick and hard to turn.  I think it added a cute touch of handcrafted to them.

My last minute Handcrafted Holiday project was this:

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These stockings I sewed by hand during my college lectures before I got married (although Don and I were engaged, so his and mine were made to match on purpose). I made 5 because I just had the time and that was how many different kinds of fabrics there were. I didn’t think we would have 3 kids, much less 4. So when we had Logan I naturally thought that because we filled all the stockings meant we must be done having kids (I know… it sounds silly… but why else would I make 5 stockings when, at the time, I only had 1 child??)

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Last year when I was pregnant with Luke I was SURE that bringing person #6 into our family meant I would have to make all new stockings. (See how me being sure about something is so accurate?)  Cyan vetoed that idea by reminding me that we have technically used those stockings since 2 years before she was born and we couldn’t possibly stop this year “just cuz we had Luke.”  Sigh… so the hunt was on for matching fabric. 

I asked everyone I know and my friend Heather just so happened to have some IN HER STASH!  She said she must have had it for 10 years or more.  Yep, that sounds just about right.  Talk about magical!  So the day before Christmas as everyone else was rushing to get gifts wrapped or braving the mall, I was wearing a thimble and sewing away on Luke’s stocking. I even found the same felt in my stash… somehow it survived the fabric purges that came along with all the moves and everything else and I was able to put the same color holly and berries on the stocking with it.  Even though it is not really my style anymore, I feel like it is a cute addition to our Christmas décor and now Luke can be added in on the “timeless” tradition.  (Thank you, Cyan!  Winking smile ) Can you tell it was made 13 years after the others? 

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I loved working with my kids on these projects!  They are getting good at the handcrafted holiday thing and it made me very hopeful for their handmade gifts in the future!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas to me! (Livingroom reveal!)

That project I posted about in October got finished last week.  My livingroom went from being sadly outdated:

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To beautifully timeless:

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And I LOVE it… love it so very much!  It updates the whole house just like I thought it would.  And I have a wonderful new place to decorate for holidays and birthdays.  Which is always fun for the crafty at heart.  Winking smile 

We had to change a few things from the original design:

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Finding faux brick to make the whole thing work proved to be the hardest part of this project and with some advice from the friend who built it for us (who is awesome!) we decided that instead of getting faux brick we would just build out over the brick and mirrors.  He built out about 3 inches on both sides with studs so that we could drywall right over the top of everything and still have space to put up pictures. Then he built a mantel to fit over the top of the concrete one that was there, and put in the side columns to pull the whole thing together. 

Then I puttied, sanded, and painted the whole thing a nice white color and could hardly wait to put up my Christmas décor.  I was feeling grateful that I could go to sleep and let the paint dry while I slept… I may have ruined the paint with sheer excitement!

Some details:

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I feel like I got pretty spoiled this Christmas.  I got this beautiful new mantel, a new phone, and a new wool coat in my new favorite color: red.  I feel downright pampered right now! 

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I’m starting off my New Year warm and bright with tons of new inspiration for my new space! 

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Blessings to all of you!.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Summertime Holiday Down Under

Our day started out with Koala Chocolates in the kids advent pocket and a card that said “Let’s spend a sunny afternoon Down Under!”

In Australia Christmas is in the middle of the summer.  You are more likely to be camping or playing at the beach when the presents get passed out and chestnuts aren’t even in season.  The holiday is in the middle of their summer vacation, so kids are already at home and Christmas is the highlight of the summer.

We started our day off this version of The Greatest Story Ever Told from down under:

Cyan said “Mom, are they at the beach??” and I got to explain about the equator and sun rotation and all that jazz before moving on to pictures of Santa Claus in the sunshine:

After our little online summer adventure, we sat down to make wrapping paper with a summery theme!  I got out all the flower stamps (because of course, flowers are all blooming right now in Australia) and as I did the kids saw the seashell stamps and wanted to add those too!  Sure! 

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The wrapping paper turned out beautiful and the kids really enjoyed making patterns and ‘flower gardens’ on their papers.  (I was going to use this idea… but someone threw away my two celery ends… they probably thought they were garbage.  Funny about using everything… some people’s everything is somebody else’s trash.  Winking smile)

After we were done with that we made s’mores!  I was thinking of going outside like they would be camping in Australia, but saw that it was 26* and thought better of it. 

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Sometimes it tastes GOOD to be a homeschooler!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Design on a Dime - Seriously

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It was my favorite show on HGTV (for the 6 months I had cable out of the last 15 years).  So much fun and good improvements made on modest budgets.  My kind of show!  $15,000 is really hard to get up and pay for anything short of a complete remodel…..  but $500?  Yep.  I could see spending that.  Winking smile

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For me, the same is with holiday décor. I can’t spend money on it. At least not much. And anything I do get has to be able to be used again and again. The cones in the top left of this picture were filled with mums. I bought them in a moment of weakness. I really liked the shape and could think of tons of things to do with them. But whether I would was yet to be determined.  So when the mums were dead and gone, I asked Alex to collect fir branches from around the yard. That along with some branches from our holly tree next to the carport and an old ribbon saved from a package several Christmases ago and I have two of these horns of plenty hanging from my porch bringing Christmas cheer! I LOVE them!

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For all of you who have been following our advent stuff… I will catch up.  I have all the pictures, I just am having a hard time finding the time to post anything that requires thought.  Two new teeth for the baby and a new living room for me (soon to be shared!) and I just didn’t have the brain power to sit down and write anything intelligent.  Thank you for your patience!  Blessings and love for this merry time of year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A new home for the bitties

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We finally finished the chicken coop in the garden!  We can’t paint the flowers again until the weather is warmer, so they look somewhat unfinished for now, but everything is set for birds.  The nesting boxes have already been put to good use! 

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We thought our birds were molting, and thus not giving us any eggs, but a couple days after we finished remodeling the coop, we discovered the real reason we had no eggs:

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This little bugger is happily relocated to the deep forest near Roy and we are getting 4 eggs a day again! 

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Moving the chickens from coop to coop.

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Happy chickens!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Filipino Christmas

The Philippines is the only country in Asia that is mainly populated by Christians.  Christmas is a very festive time there and there is much focus on star of Bethlehem.  Stars are everywhere.  They are shown in windows, hung from doorways, even strung across streets from house to house.  People make large star lanterns called Parols to share with friends and neighbors.  (The name change between the types of peoples and the name of the islands is explained here.) 

We started out the evening with a book about stars! 

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What an adorable book (and horrible picture… but whatever).  The little owl follows the star to the baby Jesus and gets to see the baby and then go back and tell the star all about it.

After that book we read this one just for fun:

We spent the next two hours making all kinds of stars!  The main ones the kids loved were the ones made out of straws and tissue paper from the book Celebrating Christmas Around the World. (They love anything with pipe cleaners. Seriously!)

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The kids LOVED those stars! 

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Here are some more star making tutorials that we thought would be fun, but didn’t have time to make.  Perhaps another day:

Greek Paper Stars

Music Sheet Stars

Star Birdfeeders (would also work for Scandinavia)

Another cool paper star tute (not English, but really good pictures)

Cyan and Logan put theirs above our nativity scene from Greece and then we made some star soup with tiny Stelline pasta for dinner!

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As the starry night closed in, the kids and I went to bed with tummies full and some new fun crafting memories.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas in Scandinavia

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Christmas in Scandinavia started out with the tale “Who’s that Knocking on Christmas Eve” which is a wonderful story by Jan Brett, based in Norway. 

And a movie called Christmas in European Style with Tasha Tudor.

After that we moved on to making Swedish straw ornaments.  Many Swedish Straw Ornaments are very complicated and it wasn’t until we were nearly done making ours that I figured out that you make them with damp straws!  The straw is soaked in water and then used while damp to be shaped into the elaborate and beautiful ornaments that we see in the stores.

(These are NOT ours):

Ours were much more simple, but beautiful just the same!  Here is the website we used to make our Swedish Straw Stars!

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After the crafting, we made St Lucy’s or Saint Lucia Bread in the traditional style:

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As the oldest girl, Cyan got to light the candles (which thankfully were NOT in her hair as the St Lucy girls usually are) and she served us each a slice of this amazing sweet bread!

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It was a beautiful homeschooled day!

Friday, December 09, 2011

A German Christmas

German potato soup and homemade soft pretzels anyone?  That was our celebratory dinner tonight from Germany.  The kids and I read about the German Christmas Markets!  How fun those places must be!  And the prune people?  It is said that gold and good fortune will always be yours if you have a prune person in your home.  (So where is mine hiding?)

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This was one of the easiest lessons yet.  Everyone was in a good mood, they all LOVED the food (ie: had seconds, and thirds, and then put cinnamon sugar on the left over pretzels), and we didn’t have a craft because we were going to make cake, but we were all stuffed! 

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I let Logan use a big knife for the project and although he has done it before, this was the first time I really gave him the job of cutting up something like the main ingredient of a meal and he did REALLY well!  I was super impressed with my little man today.

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All of my kids and I were in the kitchen at the same time.  Normally I would say that’s a recipe for disaster (just cuz we don’t have a big kitchen) but we all did really well and sticking to our own corners and the meal was amazing!

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Then we read German folk tales from Grimm’s Fairy Tales (The Elves and the Shoemaker being my favorite) .

and Alex read a book called Cobweb Christmas by Shirley Climo

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We finished the evening with tea and looking at pictures online of the German Christmas Markets.

   

It was a super yummy day!