Thursday, December 29, 2011

Memory Keepsakes

Yesterday I said goodbye to my mom, her husband and my step-sister. Step-sister and I walked to Wallyworld from the restaurant where we had breakfast. I wanted to buy a baby-doll for C-o-M and sparkly red shoes for LB. While waiting in line to pay, I pulled out my little wristlet. Now, I hate this thing - it's hideous! - but it is a dollar store special (and functional) so I'd purchased it on our trip to Miami.
Anyway, step-sister asked if I'd made it and I explained that I actually bought it - but there came a new idea. Many people have asked if I made the wristlet or where I bought it. So after mom, step-dad and step-sister left I went back into Wallyworld and headed over to the craft aisles. I bought some new beads, stocked up on hot glue, replaced the liquid stitch and found some new ribbon. We came home and I started thinking, trying...we came up with these:

Child-of-Mine had to have this!

So it's not quite a wristlet - and these aren't lined...we're still working on the logistics. But they're up in the Etsy store:

What suggestion or cute new idea has stirred your creative juices?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Good News!

So we made the 12 hour trip home yesterday. Grandpa was still in the hospital when we left but the doctors decided not to operate - his heart is too weak. He kept solid food down and expects to be sent home today. :) We love Grandpa! We're so proud he's getting better and is able to come home.

On the ride home we stopped off at Wallyworld. I picked up some Christmas for me and started figuring out the hair bows. I told my dad I'm tired of seeing all these pretties and not having the money to buy them - so I'll make them instead!

A little needle, a little thread, several inches of ribbon, some elastic hairbands and a little hot glue created these: 


So my dad thinks I should try to sell these. They'll be going up in my Etsy store soon. Christmas ornaments are still available. Get planning now for your personalized gifts :)

My New Year's Resolution:
1. Spend more time with God.
2. Spend more time with my children - give them more of me. :)
3. Spend more time crafting and creating.
4. Live life to the fullest!
5. Enjoy a good cup of tea at least twice a week.

What is the most important resolution you are striving for this coming year?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Vacation

So this Christmas break has been pretty uneventful. Child-of-Mine is spending half of the vacation with her dad. She'll be back with us on Tuesday. My mom is bringing her and coming to see "her girls".
Dad brought Little Bit and me to Miami, FL, for Christmas. My grandparents are in their 80s and not doing so hot. Grandpa is in the hospital again. All year long he's been asking me to come see him so I'm glad to be here - we got here before he passes, unlike last time. :'(

On the way down I stopped at a Dollar Tree to pick up a squirt bottle - and remembered to grab the extra gift box I needed. While there I found a little wristlet and purse. It's one of the most hideous things I've ever seen. LB likes it but I think it clashes. I told Dad I could make something similar and add a little bling - dress it up some. I can't sell them for $1.00, though. LB might be able to, or CoM, so maybe we can do something :)

What is one item you've decided to re-purpose to send out the year with a bang?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Little Greenery

Every year we try to decorate in ways that are simple but tasteful (note the try). We keep it simple but effective, I hope. Last year we took an old Coca-Cola tapestry that had Santa Claus and a tree. We outlined the window with garland and lights then put our presents beneath the whole display. 

This year we live with my dad, who is disabled and has a service animal, so a tree is a little unfeasible.
Instead, we are taking a wreath and wrapping it with items on hand. I bought several spools of Christmas ribbon a month or so ago, on clearance, and found pearls I wasn’t quite sure how to use. Now, I like understated elegance, and I’m don’t know if I attained it, but here’s what we did: we took a string of lights (5’ fit pretty well, with an extension cord because of the placement) and followed the wire form of the wreath, wrapping the greenery back onto the lights to hold it in place. Next, using a hot glue gun and a bit of nimble fingerwork, we glued one end of the string of pearls to the wire on the wreath. We then wrapped the pearls around the wreath diagonally and twisted them into the lights. Using a red ribbon with the wire edges, we tied a pretty bow and hot glued it to the string of pearls – making sure the string ended where we wanted to put the bow so it all worked out nicely and gave a finished effect.
I’ve been painting Christmas ornaments for the last couple months and hung several of them onto the wreath before attaching it to the wall. One could also use pine cones, tiny birds, flowers, gingerbread men, pictures of the family members...Here’s a picture of the completed work:

Bringing the Outdoors In...

Sinterklaas. Nisse. Father Christmas. Père Noël. de Kerstman. De Goede Sint. Whatever one calls him, however your family celebrates the season, traditions the world over agree that at one point the personage of St. Nicholas did, in fact, exist. It may have been a simple idea of a gift freely given in a spirit of love and peace. It may have been the wonder lighting a child's face with joy and smiles to awaken to a house transformed by the magic of love. It may have been a form of worship or celebration done in secret to protect the lives of friends and family for those who grew up in areas of persecution for their religious beliefs (whatever they may be).
Either way families and children join together the world over to celebrate a spirit of giving and a season of love, hope, peace and joy. These celebrations and traditions are passed down from generation to generation, spreading that spirit and sharing that love.

I remember as a child sitting at my grandparents’ knees where we heard stories of growing up during the great depression. These stories helped spark a desire for learning and reading. Hearing them talk about decorating the house with strings of popcorn or hanging pinecones from the windows gave several childish ideas and questions. Now that I have children of my own and want to share “new-to-us” traditions, I’m pulling old ideas out and throwing in a twist.

This past week we watched a movie about Sinter Klaus. The children received a simple, hand-carved, well-made gift early Christmas morning. Idea: what’s one tradition of decorating that deals with wood? Hand-carving? Not me. Pine cones! There are so many cute crafts available with pine cones – dipping and rolling them in paint, spray-painting them, hanging them from the ceiling or hiding them amidst the greenery. Acorns, leaves, rocks – all the little treasures we like to collect on nature walks. And those ornaments that are just laying around the house needed to be displayed. But how? LB took a glittery ornament and a pine cone, pretending they were balls, and threw them to her seizure-alert dog. Idea!

LB, C-o-M and I took the treasures and compiled them into a clear fruit bowl we had sitting on a shelf collecting dust. There are recipes online for baking the pinecones and acorns in essential oils to make a type of potpourri. We used an essential oil room spray and doused the items before baking in the oven at 250 degrees for 1-1 ½ hours. (Using essential oils, I believe it has to be baked for 3 hours.)

 We put down a bed of leaves and pine straw before placing 5 pine cones into the bottom of the bowl, four around the side and one in the middle. We then put a glittery ornament between each pine cone. Next, we put pine cones on top of the glittery ornaments and put ornaments on top of the bottom layer of pine cones. We put some leaves between the sides and the middle. 
We alternated each layer, interspersing the leaves and acorns, until we had the finished project, shown here:   

As needed, I take the essential oil room spray and touch-up on the pinecones. It brings a little of the outdoors in and helps us to appreciate nature, and the season, more. 

A (no-mess) idea for the glitter ornaments can be found at It's day 14 on the 25 Days of Christmas!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

School's done - six years in the making...

Six years ago I started back to school to work on my bachelor's degree. Two years ago I declared a double-major. I really didn't know what I was getting into. The new major was very interesting and really challenged my mind. I enjoyed (almost) every class (statistics for psychology - yuck!). Yesterday I took my last final for the last class needed to graduate with a bachelor's in Psychology/Christian Counseling. I passed :D And now I have the excellent news that I also passed my last final for the last class needed to graduate with a bachelor's in business management.
I promised my little girls that if I passed and could graduate, I'd be "Mommy"! again - we once had routines and schedules and I was involved. *Within the past 4 years I allowed the housework to slide and the girls were cared for but had to really work for my attention.* Where I was able to go to Child-of-Mine's school for kindergarten, I haven't been able to for Little Bit's. Now I can.
Working full-time, part-time, going into the military, sick children, family drama - all these "parts of life" dragged out the learning experience. Finally, finally!, it's done. I want to pursue my master's and go on to attain a doctorate but, for the next few years, my children will have their mother back. The doctorate can wait until they graduate high school if need be.

We are very excited and cannot wait to celebrate the next stage of our lives and maybe even my career.
This is such a blessed Christmas gift and we'll take it with hands outstretched and smiles of peace, sounds of joy echoing in our hearts.

What unexpected (or even expected) and long-awaited goal have you reached this year?

*Neither girl suffered harm or neglect. Thankfully I have a wonderful family who was able to step in at various times and help out when we needed it.*

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas is (almost) Here!

Last week I posted on Wordpress: Too late to start...or is it?
The girls have been home sick this week but are on the mend, so they go back to school tomorrow.  When they took their meds & felt like it, we sat around the house, making cards, talking, decorating the wreath & building a gingerbread house.
We opened a "store" on
We enjoy hand-making items and look forward to sharing with you!
May you have the merriest, most blessed Christmas this Holy-day season!

Now I get to post again: :) I should have taken pictures of the girls this morning. 
Last night, Little Bit helped mommy cut out a Christmas tree from this cute snowman material and glue it to her red shirt with Liquid Stitch. No sewing required. She then decorated it with sparklies, snowflakes, reindeer and pom-poms. Creative her! 
We allowed the shirt to set overnight and then I threw it in the dryer this morning. (Should turn it inside-out so we don't lose decorations - thankfully the glue was completely dry & held.)
Child-of-Mine made a simple Christmas tree card to give to Teacher. We found this cute little Christmas tree template, printed it out on two pieces of green cardstock, cut it out, then slit halfway down the middle top of one tree, halfway up the middle bottom of the other tree, and voila! Fit them together (with a little glue), decorate as desired (she didn't desire) with sparklies, pom-poms, glitter, etc. and she had one Christmas tree card. I may have to use that & finish our cards this season.
Little Bit chose to give Teacher one of the hand-painted ornaments we've been working on. She liked it soooo much, she gave away Rudolph. Now Santa won't be able to see Christmas Eve...but I'm sure the gifts will still make it under the tree.
No tree for us this year (because of the dog & cat with which we now live), so instead we're using a wreath wrapped in a string of pearls (WalMart), lights (CVS), and decorated with more hand-painted ornaments. For our table-top centerpiece, we collected over several days pine cones, leaves of varying size & color, acorns, gold glitter ornaments (KMart), and we bought vanilla room spray (Walmart). We laid out a layer of the leaves and pine straw then alternately placed the gold balls and the pine cones. We layered the mix throughout the bowl. I spray the vanilla on it whenever I think we need a fresh burst. Overall, I like the effect. 
How have you brought the outdoors in this season?