Craft/DIY Ideas, Uncategorized

Handmade Christmas 2016: Fingerless Gloves

Howdy, and welcome back. I hope you have a chance to enjoy this gorgeous fall weather!

Fall is definitely here, so I thought it would be a perfect time to share this wonderful crochet pattern. I have been cranking out different pairs of these cute fingerless gloves as of late.

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The pattern is not difficult, and I think that if you have a just a little bit of crochet experience, you could easily make these. It appealed to me because I am not an expert crocheter and am intimidated by making ones with fingers!

I found this pattern on Red Heart Yarn’s website, and it is free to access and print out.

They would make a super cute, stylish Christmas gift for a child, teen, or adult.

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This particular pair is modeled by my 11 year old daughter, who has been wearing a purply pair of these that I made almost every morning to school!

These beauties don’t use up a ton of yarn, and take maybe 1 1/2-2 hours to make (depending on how many interruptions you have!). Once you make one pair, it’s easy to crochet up some more.

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Great for chilly fall days and the approaching winter cold. The Red Heart website has tons of other cute glove patterns too!

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Craft/DIY Ideas, Uncategorized

Handmade Christmas 2016: Simple Sugar Hand Scrub

Welcome Back.

Today I am sharing another item that can easily be made for Christmas gifts to give to friends, teachers, neighbors, bus drivers, etc. Or you can make some for yourself!

The idea I have to share is for a simple Sugar Hand Scrub.

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I can attest to the fact that this is an easy, inexpensive thing to make. It also works really, really well and makes your hands oh-so-soft. I gave these out as teacher gifts 2 years ago and they got rave reviews.

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These only take two ingredients to make: white sugar and Dawn with Olay Hand Renewal (this now comes in a variety of scents).

Here’s the basic directions if you’d like to make some this holiday season:

Pick out a cute container to put your scrub in. I would recommend glass or plastic.

Fill container at least 1/2-3/4 full of the white sugar. Fill the rest of the way up with the Dawn Hand Renewal. Leave a little space at the top as you now need to mix these together without getting them all over the place! Stir up really, really well until sugar is thoroughly incorporated. Put your lid on and make a cute tag to attach to it. (I recommend just a short note saying that it does need to be stirred right before using. That sugar will tend to settle.) Then, voila! Done!

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That was easy. Even if you are not crafty you can totally do this. I promise.

Craft/DIY Ideas, Uncategorized

Handmade Christmas 2016: Button Bookmarks

Christmas gift ideas have started to pop into my mind already. If you know me well at all, you’ve likely heard me state that I can’t stand the over-commercialization of Christmas. I love the simplicity of a thoughtful handmade gift.

This fall I plan to share some of my old & new ideas for sweet little handmade gifts, beginning with these cute bookmarks. I originally shared these waaaay back in 2011 and it’s one of the most popular posts I’ve had since I’ve been blogging! They are perfect for avid readers, obviously, and especially ones who still appreciate a great paper copy.

Thinking of trying to make some ¬†yourself? All the materials you’ll need are: fabric scraps, paperclip, button-cover kit, and hot glue/gun.

All it takes are a few simple steps:

1. Cut out a fabric circle approximately twice the diameter of the button cover.

2. Place the fabric printed side facing down in the button-cover mold.

3. Push the front half of the button rounded side down on top of the fabric.

4. Tuck the edges of the fabric into the center, and then press the button back into it until it is firmly encased.

5. Thread the paperclip through the shank of the button until the button rests at the top rounded edge.

6. Hot glue in place. I dabbed hot glue around the shank area and also where the edges of the button back rest on the paperclip.

 

Craft/DIY Ideas

Easy & Pretty Teacher Appreciation Gifts

You may or may not be aware of this, but Teacher Appreciation Day is tomorrow, May 5th!

I happen to be highly thankful for my kids’ teachers and all they do on a daily basis. Therefore, I want to let them know what they mean to our family by at least giving them a little something.

As I am also in charge of our school’s PTO, I came up with this handy little idea for all the staff in our school this year:

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Packs of flower seeds displayed on various flower and leaf shapes I made from printed cardstock.

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I attached each one to a bamboo skewer to act as a stem.

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The skewers are inserted into foam blocks I placed at the bottom of several baskets. Colored mesh was bunched up to cover up the foam. I attempted to place the flowers at different heights to create some semblance of a flower arrangement.

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I then made a sign that reads “Thank you for helping our students grow.”

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Hopefully they like it.

Many thanks to all of the teachers out there!

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

How We Do (and Don’t Do) Christmas

Today I am digging into my blog’s archives and bringing up this little article again. It’s one I wrote last year right before Christmas day and I totally hold to it still. Happy reading!

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I realize that every family has their own traditions and ways to celebrate this season. The signs of Christmas are everywhere as it is less than two days away.

Lately I’ve been pondering this and thinking about how we celebrate Christmas as a family. Please don’t take this post as a personal assault or think I’m getting all judgmental on you. Really, I’m not. Try not to judge me and I won’t judge you, okay?? However, I am really fed up with how commercialized Christmas has gotten and, to be completely transparent, fed up with parents who have bought into this and spoon-feed their children the commercialized version of Christmas.

So, before I go on a huge long rant about Santa, Elf on a Shelf, and people going in to debt to buy their kids a bunch of junk they don’t even need, I’ll just share what we personally do–and don’t do.

What We Do:

-Each child gets around 3 gifts, not a whole pile. Usually I give them each one main thing they really want, followed by two small items they need or something just for fun. (Just as an example, we are giving Andrew a Plasma Ball that he had been asking for, along with an origami book and one other small item.) They also each have a stocking with a couple of little items, usually something like stickers, a new toothbrush, or candy.

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-On Christmas Eve, we attend our church Christmas Eve service. It is typically about an hour long and not late at night. At the service there is usually Bible readings, special music, and we also have communion together. After coming home, the children get to choose one thing out of their stocking to open.

-Christmas morning we typically have a nice hot breakfast before opening any gifts. One or two kids will help Daddy cook for everyone. Our kids are always early risers, so they don’t really get up earlier than usual.

-Before opening gifts, I like to have someone read out loud about the birth of Jesus from the Bible.

-When opening presents, I sort them into piles. Each kid gets to open one gift, then the next one will open one, and we keep going around until all are eventually opened.

-The rest of Christmas day is spent visiting our families and enjoying meals with all of them.

-This next one is new, but something I know some other families do: My children requested just the other night that we make a Birthday cake for Jesus and sing to Him. Sure, I said, so I guess we’ll be baking a cake on Christmas Eve.

What We Don’t Do:

-Make a huge deal about presents. Sure, we exchange them, but the emphasis of our celebration is not about getting stuff. It’s just not.

-Spend a lot of money. I just shake my head at how some Americans indulge their children in material things, but especially on the holidays. I shop ahead during the year, hunt for sales, and even buy yard sale or thrift store items if I think it’s something they will really like. We have never gone into debt or seriously compromised our budget due to Christmas shopping. And yes, we have 5 children and one income. It can be done.

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-Santa. Or Elf on the Shelf. I grew up in a household where Santa was pretty much forbidden. No Santa anything. My parents are absolutely wonderful and I thank them for not putting an emphasis on Santa, but instead placing it on why we really do celebrate Christmas. I won’t go off on a huge tangent about Santa here, but I could. I won’t, and I’m not judging anyone who does do Santa with their kids. I’m not quite as strict as my Dad about Santa and we do have a few Santa decorations and stuff that has been given to us, but we make it clear that Santa is just a pretend character based on a generous man who lived long ago.

-Try to make things perfect. This one’s mostly for the Moms out there. It’s great to try and make things nice for your family. Things like magazine articles, blogs, and Pinterest make me want to have everything “just so” for the holidays. You know exactly what I mean–a perfectly decorated house and tree, perfectly wrapped gifts arranged just right, a perfect Christmas card to send out to friends and family, a perfect array of Christmas goodies and succulent holiday meal, and a sparkling new outfit to wear on Christmas day. Really, do you ever wonder if we just set ourselves up for disappointment when thinking this way? We are imperfect people and nothing is going to be picture perfect when we plan it that way. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s just not. I have gotten lots better about this over the years. Seriously, you may just laugh if you saw my kid-decorated artificial tree, not-too-decked-out halls, and non-planned Christmas outfits. But you know what? It suits me just fine and I have embraced my more relaxed approach.

That’s my “in-a-nutshell” version of how we celebrate Christmas. Basically, we try to not emphasize what this world can give us and focus on what God already gave us, over 2,000 years ago.

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The one perfect gift. Jesus.

God in human form, sent here to save us from our sins. All of us imperfect people, undeserving of His grace and love. Not even able to fathom His love for us.

Emmanuel, God with us.

May you have a blessed Christmas and, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season, remember why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

Craft/DIY Ideas

Handmade Christmas 2014: Personalized Initial Pendants

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!

Craft/DIY Ideas

Handmade Christmas 2014: Folded Antique Music Ornament

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.