Entries in holidays (49)
Thank you so much for all of the heartfelt, wonderful comments. It is nice to know that we are not alone in our feelings and thoughts. Especially when they aren't the expected 'norm'. Your responses helped, huge! Today, the kids and I are delivering goodies to family and friends.. we bought tons of toys for the Toys for Tots, we have been singing carols (nothing makes me smile more than my 2 year old wailing out 'Jingle Bells' in the backseat.) and my 4 yr old daughter spent all evening making the cutest reindeer clothespin ornaments for all of her classmates. As you can see from above pic there isn't much to them. We used a gluestick, red pompoms, googly eyes (I just love those!) and antlers. The antlers in the photo are construction paper, but the ones she made for her class were from felt. (less likely to be torn) You can also attach a magnet to the back and put them on your fridge. We clipped a small note that said 'Merry Christmas Love Taylor' in their 'mouth'.
I mentioned that we were a 'churchless' family in my last post and it sparked quite a few comments and emails. Allow me to explain... As a child, my parents and I didn't attend church, but when my parents were growing up they certainly did. My grandfather was a very prominent member of his church and my maternal grandmother was deaconess of her church for many years. But, I think due to all the moving (USAF) we did not attach ourselves to a congregation or building. And with that, we didn't have those community ties that are so intricate in many lives. Regardless of my own personal views I have been teaching my children (within certain frameworks) about the meaning behind Christmas and that it is the celebration of Jesus's birth. Jesus was a real man, who made real changes for humanity and we do celebrate that along with the changing of the seasons.
Just within my own and my husband's immediate family we have so many religious beliefs represented... Jewish, Mormonism, Protestant, Christian, Atheist, Jehovah Witness.. so I can not say that my beliefs are the 'correct' belief, as then I would be inferring that others that I love so dearly are 'wrong'.. how can I do that? but how on earth can 'everyone' be right? That would also conflict with the very essence of most beliefs.. I have yet to figure it out for myself, so therefore, religion is just a place I don't go to very often. So above, all else, I am trying to teach compassion, understanding and respect for everyone, regardless of their religious views. Mind you, I DO NOT condone any religion that encourages the segregation or harming of others.
Other than that, I won't share anymore with you in regards to my religious beliefs and practices. Similiar to politics, they are just too personal for me to share in such an open forum. I realize this is my own blog and I can do/say as I wish, but I encourage and enjoy readers from all countries and walks of life to visit and return. I do understand that if you try to celebrate 'Christmas' without 'Christ' there is definitely going to be a emotional gap in the season, such as it would be for any religion to celebrate their respective holidays. That hole, I think, is filled within my family. Thank you for your concern and willingness to help. Such kindness is not found easily and I appreciate it so much! Your passion and conviction of belief is a wonderful and treasured thing. Thank you for sharing with me. It truly makes me smile.
The traditions that you shared also made me smile.. so many wonderful moments. I read in a past Victoria magazine that a woman wrote down small notes and thoughts about the holiday/year and kept them with the Christmas decorations. Every year, when they would open the decorations they would read the notes and be reminded of the small, special things that happened in the previous years. She said after one of her children passed away, that those notes became so priceless to her and her family.
I hope that you make smiles, give hugs, and keep sharing so much of yourselves this season with others. Sometimes just speaking or writing our beliefs, feelings and thoughts outloud helps us reafirm our lives and purpose. (even if we are completely confused!) :)
I have been struggling with the Christmas season for years now. I get so excited, love to decorate and make things but then as the 25th approaches I loose steam and get, well, ugly. It's not the hustle and bustle.. or the falafalalallaaa.. for so long now I associated my emotional shift with seasonal depression perhaps or the weather. But that's not it. It has to do with family, I think.
My memories of past Christmas's are nonexistant. I have none, no sweet thoughts, no emotionally charged gifts or overall feeling. Most of them were filled with nice gifts, some family (ranging in numbers from just my parents to 20+) but I can't remember them. Nothing. I mentioned it to my mom this evening and she was able to rattle them off.. where in the world we were, (Italy, Germany, Austria..) who was there that particular year and some of the events. I, on the other hand, have got nothin', so to speak.
She apologized for not making them more memorable, but I'm not sure if that's it either. There has just been something missing, a gap. The only memory of Christmas I have during my high school years is of the year my brother went through a nasty divorce and on his way to my mother's Christmas morning, he hit and killed a puppy. Not exactly Christmas cheer.
My memory has never been very good, as I can't remember many of my birthdays either. What I am trying to get at is I don't want Christmas to be forgotten by my children as quickly as I have forgotten them. I want and they need, for Christmas to have more meaning. More purpose than just to get more stuff.
I have yet to step into a store this year (for the purpose of buying gifts). Gifts were made or bought, but I did it all from this very seat, over the internet. The spending was cut way back too.. not out of necessity, but out of disgust. We have enough. Enough clothes, enough toys, enough puzzles, enough food, enough stuff. Enough is enough.
It's not about the stuff anyway. If it was I'd remember what I was given or blessed with as a child (or atleast a couple of gifts right?) I do recall a gold necklace with solid gold pendant that my father gave me. But it is long gone, and although I know where it is, I know I'll never see it again. I was so sad, and my father was sad/disappointed, when I 'lost' it.
For years I have been going through the motions and so very happy once it all ends and I can take down all the 'stuff'. I think, perhaps, it is a lack of tradition. I don't think we had any family traditions, infact now that I think about I know we didn't. Atleast none once I was old enough to recall them. Ones that separated us from any other churchless family. No special songs, carols, movies, drives or games. Nothing significant and unique to us, some thing or event to bind us together as a whole through the years. Those novelties to look forward to from year to year.. or to remember as the years pass us by. No one special meal or treat, or routine such as hunting for a tree together or Christmas Mass to attend. Nothing that floated with us from year to year. And still there are none.
So, now for traditions.. perhaps. But what makes memories memorable? Last year I spent days making cinnamon ornaments and on Christmas eve the kids and I drove around and delivered them to our friends and family. I think we need to do this again. And again. and again. It will be the first annual tradition I start with my children.
Thank you for 'listening'. As I typed this out, it helped. Helped me organize my thoughts and feelings. It isn't about the stuff. The stuff changes from year to year. It is about the things that don't change.. the joys of giving, of everyone playing Santa, of finding our 'us' among the stuff. I have a new family now and children who are counting on me to give them Christmas's they won't ever forget. I don't care if they forget the stuff.. I just don't want them to forget the 'us', like I so quickly forgot my childhood...
Make it memorable..
As a child, I had a German friend whose mother was a very talented salt dough artist. When I'd go to her house often times we'd end up at the kitchen table completely surrounded by salt dough and our plethora of creations. It has remained a favorite medium of mine but now I try to put my own spin on the craft.
First, you need the dough.
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
3/4 - 1 cup warm water
Mix the salt and flour until combined, and then slowly add the water and mix until the dough pulls together. Too sticky? add small amounts of flour. Too crumbly? Add little bits of water.
If you'd like to color your dough add a drop or two of food coloring to the water BEFORE mixing with the flour. A marbled effect? Add the food coloring directly to the dough as you kneed it. You can also use acrylic paints to color your dough.
Kneed the dough for approx 10 minutes. (this is tough work.. set the timer as you'll want to stop part way through!) Cut off a chunk of dough to work with and place the rest in under a damp paper towel or wrap it in plastic wrap.
Roll the dough out nice and thin. (atleast that is how I like my tags/ornaments) They dry quicker and feel more delicate/elegant to me. Now, take out your rubber stamps, an ink pad and get stamping! Stamp directly onto the rolled dough. To smooth out the surface of the dough after you stamped, you can gently roll over your image with a rolling pin. (I really like the small plastic rollers that came with my daughter's playdough)
Cut out your images with a sharp knife, I like to give mine a tag look by beveling the top corners. Eyeball it! Use a straw to cut out a small hole for the string. The pieces above I had placed on a cookie sheet. Don't do this! :)
Put them on parchment paper, on top of a drying rack and flip them often over the next few hours to dry them evenly. You can bake them in the oven but I have found, even at a low temp, some have the tendency to 'puff'. Not a nice feature. They will take a few days to dry completely. I brushed a small amount of white glue to certain spots (ie.. the tree stems, the snowflake) and sprinkled them with glitter. I am not a huge glitter fan, but the fine glitter adds a nice little sparkle.
These are limited only by the rubber stamps you have. Although, even without stamps there are plenty of things with texture that you can use to 'stamp' onto the dough. Coins, you can lightly draw with a sharp pencil, small dots with a fork, use cookie cutters to cut them out, ( my tools are only a knife and a wine glass for the circles).
They are great tags for gifts.. you can use a fine tipped sharpie to write on the reverse side. Small messages of love and friendship never get old, especially when handmade!
I just love this card! I scanned it for you so you can print it out. Cut it out along the edges, fold in half, then half again. Easy peasy!
(NOTE: The punched hole you can see on the card front was where a small gold ribbon was threaded. A nice touch to add to a home printed card.)
The package labels (great for shipping boxes!) and the gift tags are very high resolution (making them quite large) so if you are unfamiliar with setting up and printing out images, I would recommend you import them into a Word doc or whatever letter writing software you use and adjust their print size that way. I just didn't have the time to create 8.5" x 11" print sheets for you.. sorry!
Just left click on image to enlarge it, then right click on the image to save it to your computer. (the entire image may not show when you click on it, but the entire image WILL save to your computer.)
I saw something similar to these (not quite as embellished) somewhere out there on the vastness of Bloglandia... PLEASE, if you know where, let me know, I want to give them credit!!
As I said, I found this great idea for an advent calendar using toilet paper rolls (or cut paper towel rolls). She did not completely cover them as I do here, but I loved the idea immediately!
Start with paper rolls, 24 obviously.. sheet music or wrapping paper (I used sheet music.. noticing a trend here?) tape, glue dots, scissors, images, ribbons, etc...
Cut four slits at one end of a roll up about an 1 inch and half. (equally spaced around the roll)
Fold over ends and tuck them, paper box style, into each other. (below)
Tape the folds shut.
Rap the roll in a paper of your choice leaving a 2" overhang on the open end and just enough to wrap the closed end neatly.
I used tape. You can glue the paper, for me that took too long.
On the closed end, fold in the paper and secure with tape, glue or glue dots (my weapon of choice).
Flip your tube over and cut small slits in the paper that hangs over the tube, making fringe. I was originally going to curl this out, but it was too fussy and froo froo for me. As you can see above, I trimmed the fringe slightly and tucked it IN, thus making a cover. The kids can't see in, but they can easily reach in a grab the contents! (and it can be used over and over.. just refluff the fringe) Sometimes I amaze myself... ;)
I poked a hole in the back of the tube, strung a ribbon and hung them that way. You can poke two holes, opposite each other and string them in line. (what the clever lady did in the post that I cann't find again)
These would also be cute as small gift holders at the holidays, like Christmas Crackers..
I wanted to make this because I have 3 kids.. and did NOT want to make or buy 3 calendars. AND I wanted to be able to choose the 'prize'.. such as the candy or treat. These tubes are larger enough to hold three notes, three candies, you get the idea...
Where does the chocolate come from that is in the 2$ advent calendar's in the grocery store? (because I'm not sure I want my kids eating them! ) Hhhmmm...
Oh, how I love these!
Having grown up in Germany I have a weak spot for their crafts.. such as salt dough and their paper decorations. (I'll post how to make paper bells later)
I am not going to recreate the wheel though. I found a great site that has easy to follow directions for making the stars at craftideas.info. I copied and pasted the directions into a Word doc, reduced the image size slightly so I didn't use too much ink and printed them out. It is very nice to have them as reference for the first few stars you make. (I did finally memorize them)
Of course, I used antique sheet music, German no less.. the directions say you need 4 strips of paper, 1.5 cm by 50 cm. I found that if I took a sheet music book, laid it open and removed the pages from the center INTACT, that the side by sheets measured 46 cm and that was close enough. I taped the center fold as it was 100+ year old paper and I didn't want it to rip. The fold is perfect as you need to fold the strips in half anyway. Use a paper cutter! Your strips need to be quite exact, you don't want wonky edges..
I took a few photos of the progress and folding. When making the stars NOTE the direction of the diagonal folds. They are important later when trying to make the dimensional points... trust me, I found out after several stars and lots of struggling.
Another tip, shown below, be sure to tuck BOTH ends of the strips into the loops when you start. You'll understand once you get there..
Yep.. I learned that one the hard way too...
I strung a few on metallic thread and hung them from my mantel.. I like them simple this way but they would be fabulous dipped in a clear wax (helps preserve them) or sprayed with glue and dusted with glass glitter (something I avoid with wee children in the house). Antique them, tea stain them, add bells, make garlands, top gifts, who knows! No sheet music? use double sided gift wrap. (both sides of the paper will show). HERE are directions to make them into a wreath..
I just love them!
It is the time for resolutions, change, renewal and reaffirming. How about survival? My resolution is just to survive the next year with my three kids, three dogs, husband and mother in law. Survival of my Etsy shop. Survival of my creative spirit. Currently my creativity is being strangled by the heaps of laundry that are waiting for my attention. The survival of my youth... perhaps some exercise and diet changes are necessary for that one. The survival of my children. Right now they are cruisin' for a bruisin', (as the saying goes) and my two year old will be lucky to make to three. (I am speaking purely out of frustration and of course, would never actually hurt them, but I can now see how some parents snap.) So my resolution this year is simply to survive 2008."
(-my resolution for last year)
I survived! (so did my children..) Who knew? I have found a quiet pace to life this year which is nice. Something that is really helping, I have started planning out the meals for the week on Sunday. I check the flyers, coupons, recipe box, and get thoughts from the family, then grocery shop once, for the entire week. It is working nicely and it is so nice not to fuss over what to make each night. I know that I'll have everything on hand. With six in the house, it makes a big difference in my time management.
I am so happy that the holidays are over. It is a heavy weight off my shoulders for some reason. The halls have been un-decked and I spent way too much money at HomeGoods today buying lovely things to freshen up the house. Feeling very tired of red right now. Anyone else? Not sure how to handle the upcoming day of love, but I'll have to find some other color to show off my passion. Going with bright, sunny yellows and limes. I want to say a quick Thank you!! for all of you who visit my other blogs. (The Vintage Moth and Button Floozies) Between the two blogs we managed to raise $100 for The American Cancer Society!!! Whhoooohhoooo!! I am so excited! It is nice to see that the time I put into them can help someone other than me. That was in about 6 months so hopefully 2009 will be an even better year.
The only creative endeavours that I have tackled lately have been holiday related. A quick tip for those of you who have started following my blog since last Christmas, is to use your holiday greeting card pile as gift tags. I have mine all set to go for next year. In fact, there were so many tags, I didn't need to buy anymore this year. Recycling at its best! (see above image)
Happy New Year, things are brewing in the pot and I have lots of new changes around the home to share!
and a large jolly man who lets you eat lots, but only if your young! Young at heart I say, only for those who enjoy the day.
For those who think that candy is keen!
Ginger breads, gumdrops and kisses galore!
When he calls we come running, hungry for more!
He jiggles his belly with a "Ho Ho Ho!"
While tall gumdrop spires are lined up in a row.
For when it is over, beware, for it'll be time for a diet!