Friday, December 30, 2011

On Christmas Eve we went to services at my sister's church. They have just moved into their new building. My brothers Aaron (and his girlfriend), and Marsh (and his daughter) were home and went along. Mom and Dad were here too. After the service, we all went to Daughter A's to open our family presents.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chalkboard Paint

I had lots of chalkboard paint left over from our chalkboard glasses, here. We tried a couple more projects with it. First we made some chalkboard coasters. All you need are cheapie tiles from the hardware store and chalkboard paint to paint them with. Our tiles were about 40 cents a piece. I chose black tiles and put two layers of paint on them. Glue some felt cut to size on the backs and you're done!

M. made some microwave caramel popcorn for gifts, and we painted the tops of the recycled containers with chalkboard paint. It made a nice presentation. The recycled ice cream buckets could be re-used for other things later.

Sixty-five Years

Last Sat. we attended a lunch with Husband's Uncle and Aunt to celebrate their 65th anniversary. They are amazing! The bottom picture is his Uncle Ron and Edna, his Aunt Shirley and Don and a cousin (Joyce and her husband Pat)  who introduced Ron and Edna to each other in high school.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Classic Christmas

Our little country church has a very traditional Christmas program, always based around the Biblical account. Each class has "parts" and there are "special music" offerings. We end with the reading of the Christmas story and singing of Silent Night with a live nativity. (Above: angels, shepherds and wise man-Brim, Gus J., Gus S., Trevor, Gate, Brim, Drake and W. Piano trio-M, A, L.)

Birthday for Mac

We attended Mac's birthday party last week. She is a lovely daughter-in-law.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Flannel Nesting Forest

Daughters L., W. and I made this little set of nesting puppets for Daughter W. for Christmas. I thought it should be a forest set, so I started with a tree.

A bear seemed like a logical second puppet by size, plus I thought he would be cute to make.

The third puppet was a fox, since this is one of W's favorite animals.

L. embroidered the owl, and M. embroidered the toadstool on the last two puppets. I designed and planned all of these myself. We chose colors and stitching as we went. We used felt embroidered onto some scrap cream flannel that I had. They all fit one inside the next like little Russian nesting dolls, and make a nice, soft, creative play toy "bring along." I was very happy with how they turned out. The spark for this idea came from the excellent blog, Made by Joel. Here is the link.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rosie Christmas

Last weekend we went to Sister Rose's for an early Christmas. Rose and her brother were foster kids with us when she and I were in first grade. We both grew up and married farmers named Kevin and we each had two boys and a girl. (Then she quit keeping up, so I have three more kids!) Above: W. hangs around with Uncle Kevin, sisters

There is always PLENTY of food. This is just the dessert table(s). There were also tables of salads, ham, chicken, turkey, meatballs, potatoes, sauerkraut, corn...With about 70 guests, I could not get a picture of those tables after the eating began.

After lunch, we had a Christmas sing along, then Santa and Mrs. Santa came and handed out presents for everyone.

After we ate so much that we could hardly move, they brought out MORE food-root beer floats. I could not even look at them! We all had a happy day!

Above: The two husbands serve up floats.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Preparing for Bethlehem

On Sunday I had the children's sermon. The text was Luke 2:1-7 about Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem. As I read the text, I began to think about how Mary and Joseph would have to prepare for their trip. I decided that they would need three things for the trip.
First, I gave each child a penny. We know Mary and Joseph needed money for their trip because the story tells us they tried to stay at an inn. If they had been staying with friends or relatives, they would not need to pay for a place to stay.

Then I gave each child a "leather" bracelet to represent the donkey's bridle. Mary and Joseph used a donkey as transportation to get to Bethlehem. The donkey's bridle was needed to guide the donkey where they wanted him to go.

Since Mary was at the end of her pregnancy, they also needed to prepare for the baby by bringing along baby things. I gave the kids a bit of fuzzy flannel to represent the warm, soft, swaddling clothes they prepared for Baby Jesus.

In these three ways, Mary and Joseph prepared to go to Bethlehem where Jesus would arrive. These three things can also represent ways we can prepare our hearts and lives for Jesus's coming.

I gave the children a sheet of paper with these three questions on them:
Money: Am I using what I have for Jesus?
Leather (donkey): Am I letting Jesus guide my life?
Flannel blanket:Am I sharing God's love and warmth with others?

I made these little bracelets for the kids with the "leather" string and showed them how you can tighten and loosen the bracelet to fit.

We used a string about 10" long. Tie one end of the string around itself as seen above. Tighten the knot a little, but leave it loose enough that the string inside the loop can slide. Tie the same end again.

Now tie the other end around the other side of the string as above. Tie the end a second time.

You want to leave a little tail on the end of each of the knots. When the knots are close together, you can slip it onto your arm. Pull on the string as in this picture to make the bracelet bigger.
When you get the bracelet on, pull on the little tails and the bracelet will tighten up.

Chalkboard Gifts

Chalkboard paint seems to be big in crafting these days. One day we saw some of these re-write-able glasses in a store. We thought we could make them. We could and we did. They turned out great. Now we have to find some more things to use the paint on. Not to worry.

You need:
chalkboard paint-stirred well
clean, clear glasses
denatured alcohol
paint brush or sponge

I read a bit about making chalkboard glasses on-line and started in. Wipe the area you will be painting with alcohol, to remove any grease or dirt. Dry with a lintless cloth. I tried masking off a shape with masking tape and only got a mess. So I chucked the masking idea and just ran the sponge brush across the side of each glass a couple of times in an overlapping rectangular band. We thought it looked good. We did two layers on each, making each layer pretty thick. Let dry. We added a box of chalk to complete the gift. Hand wash only.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Old-Time Milkweed Pod Ornaments

These pretty little ornaments are made with dried milkweed pods from our ditches. The girls collected them this fall and we let them dry before spraying them with gold paint. I used to make these years ago, and they make me feel very Little House-y. They were a hit at our mother-daughter craft day.

We used to make them with "angel hair" (spun glass) tucked behind the cut out card images. I'm not sure they even make "angel hair" any more. As a substitute we used polyester stuffing behind the picture. I also tried some mini feather "boas", which worked great (see above), but they were not good for a crafting day. The feathers flew all over!
You need:
Dried milkweed pods-wider ones are better for images to be glued into
craft glue
gold spray paint
scissors, pens,
polyester fiberfill
gold thread (or other) for hanger
glitter or small beads (optional)

Spray paint both sides of the milkweed pods. Follow safety instructions on spray can. Let dry. Choose the pod you will use. Sort through old Christmas cards and choose an image that will fit inside the widest part of the pod. Lay the pod on top of the image and copy around it with a pen. Cut out the image inside the pen lines, trimming as needed to fit image into pod opening. Use some gold thread (about 6" long), double it over and tie the two ends together in an overhand knot. Glue into the top of the pod for the hanger. Glue some polyester batting into center of pod. Add some more glue and attach the cut out picture from the card. If desired, add glue and glitter around edge of the pod to finish.

Daughter M. saw the painted pods and thought that the insides were too pretty to be covered up. She suggested using beads to decorate them, so I worked out a way to make beads hang in them.

I used jewelry findings to make a reinforced opening at the top of the pods. (See first picture above.) I glued the ring to the top of the pod where it was attached to the plant. If there is still a stem attached, pulling it off will usually leave a hole. Let these dry overnight. I used earring findings (1" and 2" gold) and attached them together (as above.) Thread the beads onto the longer wire and bend the end over to hold at the bottom. Thread the short wire through a small bead and then through the top of the pod, then another bead. Twist the top of the short wire into a loop around a needle nose plier. Ready to hang.

2013 update-We have since made other milkweed pod ornaments, seen here and here.