Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Signs of Waiting

On a different note- the winner of the inappropriate maternity comment goes to the man who said to me, "You're hanging low, baby." Creepy man, please don't call me baby. I wish he were referring to the child in my womb, but the way he said it, I know he was not.
My six year old wrapped this pretty little advent wreath that he made in school today
 and gave it to me. So sweet.

Survival Tip for Moms

Moms: If you ever find yourself stranded without a baby carrier- follow this handy tip.

Brilliant idea inspired after an impromptu dress up game in my room unbeknown to me. Crazy kids. I'm not allowed to show you what the rest of them looked like.  Let's just say dress up is not allowed in my bedroom anymore.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Making a Living Advent Wreath

This year, I dismantled the 7 year old Advent wreath that I made with fake evergreens and bright purple and pink ornaments. It's been growing out of my favor in recent years. Funny how your tastes change.  I was happy to see it being replaced a living, handmade Advent wreath that is so much more symbolic. 
The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. Even these evergreens have a traditional meaning which can be adapted to our faith: The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing. Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns, and one English legend tells of how the cross was made of holly. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. Any pine cones, nuts, or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection. All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death, and resurrection. (taken from here)
 Last year, my friend mentioned how she made an advent wreath and kept it alive all advent by spraying it with water.  I guess the book she got it from also advised to soak newspaper in water and wrap that around the wreath first, but since she managed to keep her wreath alive without that step, I decided to go that route too.

Today we collected the prickly holly and everything else that was still green and pretty.  When we got home, I put everything around the brass candle holder with floral wire.  It didn't take much imagining to think of the thorns on Jesus crown like the above paragraph states. I'm still a little sore from all the pokes!

I obviously do not have a natural talent for floral arranging, but the kids approved. It's circular and green and alive- those were the only requirments of this craft. Beautifully arranged- optional.

Then we sprayed it with (not floor cleaner!) water. I had emptied this bottle for water.  Now we just have to remember to water it every day and hope it stays green.  Hope you are having a peaceful time preparing for advent. We are preparing for more than one birth this year! I look forward to having my husband off for much of December since he will be on leave when the baby comes.  We'll have every reason to slow down and stay at home. I think this will be the best Advent yet.

Monday, November 19, 2012

DIY Christmas Gift: Wooden Memory Games

As promised, here are a few pictures and tutorial of a fun Christmas gift- or anytime gift- that can be unique as you want it to be.  I have been Miss Procrastination lately as I feel pulled in a million directions with the baby coming, homeschooling and such, so I didn't get a chance to take as many pictures of the finished projects as I wanted since they were finished late at night or the very last minute before rushing out the door to give them away.  But I will provide all the resources and instructions you need.

1. Order the wooden blocks for the correct size of picture you want on them. I settled on 2 inch squares, so I ordered 2 inch square blocks and 2 inch square pictures.  I also did a set of 2 inch round blocks with the 2 inch round pictures, but decided with the game of memory, it's better to have squares that circles. Here's where I ordered mine:

2. Order the download-able collage pictures in the correct size. I was able to request to have a set resized to two inch. Most people will do this for you.  Here are the collages I settled on, after hours of searching for the right look. There are so many different themes and styles- it was too fun to look through them all!  adore the charm of the vintage, so I picked these three:
 3. Print out the downloaded collages. Pick 12 images and double them up so you have 12 pairs for the memory game. I made one extra and drilled a hold in the extra one to tie a string on it and put it on the outside of the bag where they are stored. It made a pretty tag/label for easy identification.  Here are the bags I purchased:

4. For the complete vintage look, I antiqued the squares before I decoupaged the images onto them. You can easily do this by taking a brown stamp pad and swiping the edges of the squares across it. I also did this to the images that I thought needed some antiquing- like the circles pictured.  In theory, you could skip a step and antique the images and the edges of the wooden block after you glued them. However, I didn't feel like testing any theories. I'm not sure how the ink would look over the glue or if it would look quite so neat.

For my vintage animals, I used a rust colored ink for the edging instead of the brown.

5. I also used the ink pad to stamp a simple design on the back of each square. For the religious ones, I used a Fleur De Lis and for the other ones, I used a pretty sunflower. 

6. Decoupage the image onto the wood. Put two layers of decoupage on top the image and one layer on the back and sides for a finished look. I have not tested the durability of the decoupage...get back to me in six months- these are Christmas presents, so I should know by then.  I think they will be fine, though.

7. Place them in your cute bag and put your tag on them (see #3). Finished! Depending on the cost of the collage, how many sets of each design you use and how many of the supplies you already have on hand, the estimated cost of the project is about $13.00- $15.00.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Back on My Game

Very shortly, I will be posting pictures to accompany all the claims I make in this post.  I am back on my game, now that my husband is done working 12 hour shifts and done being away for weeks at a time.  I feel like I can breathe again! He comes home everyday and gets to spend time with us.  It is feeling like a luxury after the last several months.  He even picks things off the ground for me knowing how much I hate to bend down with my basketball of a belly.  He's really wonderful.

Also, a huge weight off my shoulders- another year down for making things for the Mary's Shelter Benefit.  I love doing it for them, but for some reason, I thought I could put a billion things together at the last minute this year.  Instead I ended up stressed out and keeping my in laws awake until midnight because I was working in the same room where they were supposed to be sleeping. Sorry! Not such a great way to kick off their visit.

The plus side of being stuck inside a pressure cooker for a day is that A LOT gets accomplished. I was able to finally put together a decent piece of jewelry from my butterfly beads.  It only took me about 2 months, 10 tries and a quick trip to Michaels for some different beads.   My friend bought it after it was on display for about 10 minutes.  I knew I should have made two of them!  I am looking forward to putting them in my shop this week.

Another hair brained scheme of mine was to put together some cute vintage looking memory games for the benefit. Because I really have nothing else to do!!  I will be posting a DIY on that soon.  Two nights before the benefit, my wonderful husband again saved the day and helped me decoupage the last of the sets.  It was a romantic evening of crafting together. What he wouldn't do for me!

This is why I say NO to learning to how sew.  I have used a sewing machine before and vaguely know how to put things together with thread, but I cannot have another distraction.   In another life, I would make the cutest things for myself and my daughters (boy clothes are boring) and sew all the time, but for this life, I'm good with clay.  This doesn't mean that I won't live vicariously through my daughter and have her sew adorable things with the sewing machine I am already planning on buying her when she gets old enough. 

So now I can focus on getting the rest of the things in my shop that have been waiting to get in there in between practicing relaxation techniques for the quickly approaching home birth in December. Oh yes, I did say home birth. It's going to be great. Eric has been reading The Birthing Partner and says we should get our money back from our expensive birth assistant because he's going to be that awesome.  His confidence is contagious.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Christmas Gift for the Girls

I have to share these with you:  custom made matching dresses for my daughter and her new sister! Thank you, Jesus, for talented friends who enjoy sharing their beautiful products! I think this is going to be my favorite gift to give the kids this Christmas. 
My friend, Chance made these for the girls:
Here Etsy Shop is:

Thank you, Chance! Now I might have to get them some sweet red shoes and cardigans to match.