Handmade Christmas 2014: Personalized Initial Pendants

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As of this moment, nearly a week before Thanksgiving, I am proud to say I am well over halfway done my Christmas gift shopping.

I also have a lot of gifts made and at least most of the way ready to go. What a good feeling!

Today’s handmade gift idea is one I just did for my 3 nieces as well as my daughter. All are between the ages of 6 and 9.

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Each pendant has their first initial, along with a little charm that contains a pearl and their birthstone.

Though I have a lot of experience making jewelry, this is one style I have not done yet, so I have a learning curve to go through.

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For starters, I picked up a package of these pendant backs and clear fronts at Michael’s.

I typed out each girl’s initial in a couple different fonts, using a fairly large font size. I had to experiment with several before getting one that I thought looked just right for the round pendants they were to go on.

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I then cut out a margin around each letter and glued the flat side of the clear topper, pressing it down onto the paper so the letter was centered. I used a clear tacky glue that’s supposed to be multi-surface, but I’m not sure what the best kind would be. It looks a little foggy while still wet (like pictured above), but clears up once dry. After it feels pretty dry, trim the paper to the edge of the circle so nothing is sticking out. Then use the same glue to bond the back and front together.

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I added a jumpring to the top of the pendant, then strung it on a necklace cord.

I also beaded a crystal with each girl’s birthstone color along with a faux pearl onto a headpin. Then I used pliers to make a little loop to attach it to the cord or the jumpring as well. One could also do this onto a necklace chain of whatever quality you choose.

Overall I liked how these turned out and would love to experiment more with this style of jewelry.

Made with love and hopefully a hit at Christmas!

Handmade Christmas 2014: Glittered Lightbulb Ornaments

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Well, here I go again with the colored glitter. Lots of it.

This time around I used up some old style light bulbs that we had kicking around in the garage and gave them a completely new look.

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Add some twine and a little charm and the result is a pretty, repurposed Christmas ornament.

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As you can see, I did them in a variety of brilliant colors.

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The process for these is fairly straightforward and you don’t need a ton of supplies either.

To make one of these pretties, first dig up an old style light bulb, either one that burnt out or one you don’t plan on using.

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I used a sponge brush to apply a thin layer of Mod Podge over the entire surface of the bulb.

While it was still wet, I held it over a plain piece of paper and shook glitter over the whole thing. It takes a LOT of glitter to cover one of these. After a minute or so, shake off the excess onto the paper, then funnel it back into the glitter container. I allowed my bulb to completely dry on a piece of paper towel while I glittered others.

To finish, cut maybe 12″ of twine or jute, tie a loop in the middle (to hang ornament), and wrap around the top of the bulb. Hot glue a thin layer as you go. As I did this, I placed a charm so it kind of hung down the front a little.

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I had bought a pack of charms that look like old keys, but you could use whatever.

Overall a semi-quick and simple little project. Very easy to make a bunch at a time as well, which you know I love!

Not sure which one is my favorite yet, but I think they turned out kind of adorable.

Fall 2014 in Pictures

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If I could choose a brief description of this fall, I would say it was “busy but beautiful.”

Here are a few pictures I have chosen that show a little of what we’ve been up to:

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I’ll start with my absolute favorite one. This I snapped with my phone camera one evening a couple weeks ago. I had a crazy day and took a little walk right near sunset. The sight of this literally stopped me in my tracks. I just had to capture the Stop sign in the foreground with the beautiful sky in the back. I felt more than a nudge from my Creator telling me, “Rachel, you just need to stop right now and worship me.” So I did.

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A lot of my time has been taken up with leading our school’s PTO. Though I had a couple of years in as Secretary, this was my first year as President with a completely new group of officers. Our one and only fundraiser for the year is a Race for Education, which we do in early October. To say I put a lot of time and effort into this is an understatement. But it is worth it.

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Our theme was “Wild Safari,” so our group had a lot of fun with making it all themed out for the kids. It was an awesome day!

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My poor husband dressed up as a gorilla and stayed in this costume most of that day. The kids loved it and enjoyed chasing him around.

I’m told he must really, really love me for doing that. He does.Thankfully.

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Our family has been really into hiking whenever the opportunity presents itself. We have had a number of gorgeous weekends to take advantage of and lots of pretty trails within reasonable driving distance. This is just a little snapshot of the kids checking out something on one of the trails.

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A shot of my husband sitting atop a huge rock at the end of one of those trails overlooking the Susquehanna River. It is named “House Rock,” due to the fact that it’s huge.

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My daughter is in her second year of violin, which she is pretty into. This is my sweet girl serenading us one evening.

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Not a very good picture, but this is my oldest son flipping acorn pancakes. Yup, you read that right. Acorn pancakes–as in, made from acorn flour. We took it upon ourselves to experiment with making acorn flour. A long process, but it turns out good! Next fall I would like to do more when the acorns first start dropping. We have a bit left that I put in the freezer to use in another recipe.

Well, that’s all folks. A brief snapshot into just some of what has been shaking around here. Like I said, busy but beautiful. I have LOTS to be thankful for!

Handmade Christmas 2014: Folded Antique Music Ornament

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Hey everyone!

So I am slightly obsessed with things made out of either vintage sheet music pages or book pages.

I have done a number of previous crafts on here using this as a medium, usually for Christmas.

This is my latest trial set of projects and I have to say that I made quite a few.

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Definitely one of those things that once you make one, you are eager to do more.

They are fairly simple to pull off, and I promise that those who are supposedly “uncrafty” can still make these.

You can buy old books or hymn books at yard sales, used book sales, thrift shops, etc. I scored several antique music magazines from the 1920’s-1930’s at a local antique store for a couple bucks. They are awesome! I could seriously frame some of the ads in them for decoration, but that’s for another day.

Here’s the process I followed:

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I ripped out some pages and cut same-sized rectangles out of the paper. I stacked three together, lining up the edges, and folded them accordion style, or like a fan. It’s important to keep your folds approximately the same width.

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Next step is to separate them and fold each accordion in half, like in the above picture.

Glue together the middles of each so they all turn into a one-piece fan shape.

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Finally, to complete the circle, glue the three (or you could do a fuller one with 4) fan shapes together where they meet.

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You could leave them plain, but I chose to put some kind of embellishment in the center. Some have a bit of burlap with a sparkly snowflake on top, others have a glittery word like “Joy,” and some have little pictures from that old music magazine that are backed with cardstock. Cutouts from vintage Christmas cards would be really cool too I would think.

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Another option that looks neat is to make another layer that’s larger and place it underneath. Just use much larger pieces, or even a full page, to fold. I love the look of these, and you could go really big to make a wreath.

For any size you choose, just make sure to back it with something for stability. I used canning lids that had been used and washed, hot gluing them to the back. For the larger ones I used a round plastic lid that had been on an ice cream pail. You could use a circle of cardboard or something else that’s sturdy though.

Happy crafting! Stay tuned for more handmade Christmas ideas.

Handmade Christmas 2014: Glitter Magnets

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If I’ve seemed rather sparkly lately, there’s a clear explanation for it.

(No, for those of you who tell me I need another baby, I am NOT pregnant!!)

I have been testing out a few Christmas projects that involve glitter.

Inevitably, no matter how careful I am, I always sparkle for the rest of the day. Glitter ends up on my face, in my hair, and on my clothes.

This is one of the projects I really have had fun making.

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They are a snap to make and end up looking downright amazing.

The process is such that you could knock out a bunch of these in one sitting.

For starters, you need to purchase the flat backed glass gems that come in mesh bags. I usually get mine at the Dollar Tree.

You also need Mod Podge, a foam brush, and different colors of glitter!

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Lay out the glass gems so that the flat side is up. I like to glitter over pieces of scrap paper so I can salvage unused glitter back into its container (and so my table doesn’t end up looking like a sparkly mess).

Brush the entire flat side with Mod Podge, then sprinkle heavily with glitter while it’s still wet. This is where you can do a bunch of one color at a time. Give it a few minutes, then tap off the excess and lay glass onto another sheet of paper. Funnel the first paper into your glitter jar so all that extra good stuff gets saved for another use.

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Now is the time to fire up your hot glue gun. I buy packs of round magnets at Wal Mart or the craft store to glue on the back.

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When all are dry and ready, flip them over so that the rounded top is up.

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The result? The sparkliness is magnified and looks really cool.

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This is a great project for kids to help with–or at least to shake on the glitter.

I have packaged these in groups of 4-5 stuck to a canning lid, then bagged in a cello bag with ribbon. They would be a cute, easy, and inexpensive little Christmas gift.

Shine on!

Rachel

Canning Jar Band Pumpkin

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Today is a revisit to one of my past favorite fall projects. This particular one is from just over two years ago. Enjoy!

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I am such a huge copycat sometimes and this little project is no exception. Granted, I do have a lot of at least semi-original ideas, but some are just imitations of other cute ideas I’ve seen and just put my own little twist on. To be fair, I always try to acknowledge my source of inspiration and I am incredibly grateful when others do the same for me. For this project I completely fell in love with Simply Klassic Home’s canning lid pumpkin and knew I had to try making one.

This was a snap to make and only used a few materials, all of which I had on hand.

For the stem I rolled a length of burlap and glued down. I trimmed this up a bit as well.

Then, simply gather a bunch of canning jar bands of the same size and run a string or twine through their middles. Gather and tie around the stem. Arrange bands so that the tied portion is covered up and there are no major gaps.

I added a green felt leaf for some of the pictures and tried it without for others.

As you can see, I didn’t try to clean up or pretty up my canning bands.

Some are newer, but others are well-worn and loved.

Happy Fall Y’all!

Rachel

 

“Gather” Mini-Grapevine Wreath

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Well, apparently I’m on a bit of a wreath kick again. They really are one of my most favorite things to make.

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This time around I went for a grapevine one, just to mix things up.

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It is adorned with these little flowers I made from a cute orange & white houndstooth print fabric.

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Across the top I formed the word “Gather” using scrabble tiles. They are mounted on a rectangle of burlap, which I let peek out around the edges. The burlap is on another rectangle of felt for a little stability. Everything is hot glued onto the grapevine.

I used just a basic gold ribbon for hanging.

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All in all, a quick little project that turned out sorta cute.

Blessings to all,

Rachel

Criss-Cross Fall Wreath

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Howdy everyone!

I’ve been a little MIA lately, but it’s all been for a good reason.

School started and I’ve been in PTO mom mode, dealing with beginning of the school year craziness and preparing for our big yearly fundraiser coming up in several weeks.

This is how I deal with stress:

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I make stuff. No surprise, eh?

I also take lengthy walks, pray for wisdom and sanity, drink too much coffee, and eat comfort foods.

But I digress. About the wreath…

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Again I went with a yarn-wrapped style. This time I picked out a brown with neutral flecks of color in it.

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For the flowers I used different neutrals as well, then added in a little pop of pink. IF I had some coral-y orange I may have thrown in a bit of that too for interest. I placed a rectangle of burlap underneath them all, leaving a bit to peek out near the middle. A couple of buttons were used for accents. To make this more interesting, I used a buttery light yellow yarn and criss-crossed it around the portion of wreath not covered by flowers and such.

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And since I hadn’t busted out my trusty chalkboard for pictures in awhile, I thought this would be a good shot.

Happy Fall Y’all!

–Rachel

Summer Memories 2014

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Forgive my randomness, but I am putting up just a variety of pictures taken this summer. They are not in chronological order, but capture some things I would like to remember this summer by.

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One small sampling of the many green beans (and purple beans) we picked and then froze.

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A cute little turtle that my husband found when mowing and “rescued” for my kids to fuss over for a few hours. They then released him back into his habitat.

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I had the fun experience of taking my twins to a combine demolition derby. (Yes, such a thing does exist. I live in southern Lancaster county, this is what we do for fun;))This was one of their favorites. Do you recognize what movie he comes from?

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My older boys were learning the art of doing lashings and made me a cool trellis-type thing for some of our tomato plants.

Photo: Feelin' saucy on this fine day.

A spectacular batch of spaghetti sauce, probably our best ever. We’ve learned that using a giant can of tomato paste thickens it up perfectly. Roasted garlic also adds a nice touch!

Photo: Kilby Cream!

I don’t think I’ve ever taken a selfie until this past year (and no I haven’t taken hardly any, I think it’s slightly narcissistic). To the young folk this is apparently a life skill. This one was at one of my favorite ice cream haunts.

Because ice cream is very important to me. Amen.

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Each of my kids had a chance to attend summer camp, even my little boys. We are fortunate to have a fabulous Christian summer camp just a few miles away from our home. They all had a grand time!

Photo: Our crew at one of many pretty spots within Black Moshannon State Park. A summation of our week there: lots of hikes, swimming at the lake, too much great food, pontoon boat tour, campfires, reconnecting with an old friend and making some awesome new ones, family time, and sharing a wild blueberry patch with a Black Bear!

Our family vacationed at Black Moshannon State Park, in central-ish PA. We rented a cabin within the park for a week, which is what we did last year at another State Park. On the day we left we also celebrated our fifteenth anniversary, Woohoo!!

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Just a little snapshot of the lake at the park. The water really was almost black, but not dirty.

(Not pictured: The looks on my husband and big boys’ faces when they hiked and ran into a black bear when stopping to pick wild blueberries. Apparently the bear was doing the same thing! I so wish I could have seen it play out.)

Photo: Picking Lima beans...along with cantaloupes, beets, berries, corn, tomatoes, and some peppers. Feeling extremely thankful for this provision in our lives!

Two of my kiddos picking lima beans.

A cowboy themed party we attended just last weekend for a friend’s birthday. They had a little photo area where my hubs surprised me by pulling this off. Probably one of the best pictures of us ever!

What can I say? We do still enjoy smooching on each other.

Another snapshot of the shooting range at the same party. My crew was all over that!

Hope you had a wonderful summer!

Rachel

Climbing Out of the Comparison Trap

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This post is one that has been niggling at me for awhile. After another candid conversation with my best friend about this subject, I decided to actually sit down and write out what I was thinking.

You see, I think this is something that affects almost every woman at some point, maybe even daily. I’m sure men have their own version of it, but I’m obviously not a guy, so I’m mostly addressing the ladies here.

Comparison. I really, truly believe that comparison is a deceptive thief that sneaks in and leaves us feeling cruddy about ourselves. It can work the other way and make one feel superior or self-righteous too.

Either way this is NOT a good thing, my friends. With our society’s overdependence on social media, I’m certain this has escalated to the Nth degree.

I consider myself to be a relatively joyful person who exercises thankfulness and is usually quite content with what the Lord has given me. As I get older I find myself even more comfortable with who I am and how God has designed me. However, I still fall victim to the comparison trap ALL the time.

It can start innocently enough. I may be feeling like things are going honky-dorey and Bam! All it sometimes takes is one little picture, post, blog, phone call, article, or visit to someone’s house to suddenly evaluate and compare many aspects of my life to my perception of that person—my looks, home,  kids, personality, marriage, style, talents or gifts….the list could go on.

A few recent examples from my own experience:

*I was invited to a pool party at another Mom’s house. As I enjoyed an afternoon there, I admired her beautifully landscaped pool area. Excusing myself to use the bathroom inside, I found myself envying her neat and well decorated home. Right away my own little Cape Cod seemed cramped, messy, and lacking in charm.

*Back in July we took a simple yet beautiful vacation as a family. For the second year in a row we rented a small cabin at a State Park, a nice week-long getaway for just the 7 of us, completely unplugged. We also celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary at the tail end of it. Well, upon coming home I decided to “catch up” on Facebook for a bit. Immediately I was bombarded with what seemed like tons of pictures from all these great getaways that other people were having. The wonderful trip we just took seemed a little so-so compared to the places these other families visit!

*One weekend night we had a quiet evening at home. I baked some homemade pizza and we watched Netflix, very content to be together with no other happenings going on. I even remember thinking, “wow, this is so nice. This is just who we are and I’m good with that.” Again IT hit, this time a day later when I heard of someone’s fun party they attended that same night I was sitting at home. Now I thought, “Wow, maybe we need a better social life after all…”

*On yet another day, I was actually feeling fairly self-confident as far as looks. I had what I would consider to be a cute outfit on and my hair was not a complete mess. I felt “put together” and was pretty sure I had a few appreciative glances from the male species when the kids and I were out and about. (Not that I should notice that or care, but hey, I’m being honest here.) Better yet, my wonderful man looked at me when he got home from work, smiled huge, and gave me a good old fashioned wolf whistle. I felt good, right? Yeah…not so much later on when Facebook (Yep, that again!) was fired up and I saw a picture of another Mom almost my age wearing a bikini on the beach. That self-confidence I had just hours before was blown apart and I felt old, fat, and frumpy.

I’ll stop with the examples now. I’m sure you have your own times when comparison has done a quick job of making you feel crappy about yourself in some way.

However, as I did mention starting out, it can work the OTHER way too. This doesn’t happen as often, but I have fallen into that trap as well, and it is equally as dangerous.  I won’t give personal examples of this one, but I’ll readily admit that I’ve sized other women up, made a quick judgement, and deemed myself better in some way. It pains me to write that, but it’s the truth. I know I am in no way better than anyone out there. Not in any way, shape, or form.

So ladies, what do we do about the comparison trap?

I wish I had some pat answer to give you, but I am in the same boat here.

What I would recommend is to seek some scripture verse that personally speak to you regarding this subject and memorize them or write them down on index cards so they can be referred to easily.

Here are a few that I really like:

“…But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

 

I think another important thing to remember is that what we see may not be what is really going on. We are comparing all of our inside stuff with what they are choosing to show on the outside. That person who you may think has it made may really be a mess on the inside, or is hiding all sorts of hurt.

 

Another thing is that that person may be comparing themselves to YOU. You know that conversation I had with my best friend regarding comparison? She pointed out that those same people that I found myself not measuring up to in some way may be comparing themselves to me and feeling the same way. I was kind of like, “Whoa, really?” Yup. Yikes.

I’m not going to stretch this out any further. I obviously haven’t “arrived” in this area of my life and am not sure I ever totally will. Ladies, we need to stop doing this. It only causes discontent, jealousy, and all kinds of ugliness. Next time we find ourselves falling into the comparison trap, let’s stop and remember all the good things we do have going for us. Let’s be thankful for all the blessings God has given us. You are amazingly made with care by a loving God who treasures you just as you are. He has a specific plan for your life that looks like no one else’s.