Tag Archives: christmas

Cookies, a shepherd, and a meme waiting to happen

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cookies

These are the gluten-free Christmas goodies I made for our after-Christmas-pageant family dinner. Chocolate-covered peppermint meringues, roll-out sugar cookies (from the book 100 Best Gluten-Free Recipes), pralines, and chocolate-covered bourbon balls. I made chocolate-chip and oatmeal scotchies for the gluten-eaters among us, too.
shepherd

Here is a picture of my little shepherd right before the pageant. He had one line and took it very seriously. His big sister was one of the star narrators and I was proud of them both.madsantaAnd my little Santa Baby in the same fleece Santa suit both my other children wore. She’s just a meme waiting to happen, don’t you think?

 

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Crafty kids

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quilt

There are lots of things I’m not sure about when it comes to parenting. I really struggle with my kids and food, for example. All my fine ideas about how they were going to love vegetables haven’t really panned out. But one thing I feel pretty confident about is the way they both (I’m excluding Daphne here, who can hardly be expected to show creativity or initiative at 10 weeks) can envision a project and tackle it head-on, with whatever materials they find. I think I’m doing a halfway decent job of giving them confidence in the “homemade” department. At least that’s something, right? So at least if they ever lose their teeth to poor nutrition and go to jail for bad behavior they can sit in there and knit a cozy for their meal tray. Or something.

Dorothy has really been into sewing lately. She sews lots and lots (and lots) of little pouches for things and gets really upset if we don’t use them for all the things they are meant to hold. Although I’ve taught her about sewing on the wrong side of the fabric she prefers her own free-form methods, which I think is fine. Just recently she’s progressed from pouch-making to quilting, and has made coverlets for her doll, a doll of her brother’s, and now one for baby sister. I thought it was an adorably sweet project, and I loved seeing the big sister cozy the tiny sister up in it. It did get slightly less charming when the big sister basically followed me around doggedly for the next whole day, placing and replacing the little quilt over the baby just in case I “forgot” to cover her up in it just for a trip to check the mailbox or something. But I understand; it’s the same reason I don’t like to sew Halloween costumes–you want your sewing projects to get used.
bracelets

Dorothy has also been really into making rubber band bracelets. I realize this is no different from almost every other 2nd grade girl in middle America at the moment, but it is possible that being a homeschooler and having more free time has given her the opportunity to be a little more prolific than most–she’s about to suffocate every bare surface in the house with these little rubber chains, made in two styles and a variety of colors. She and her friends trade them and make them for each other. It’s funny how every few years sees a new trend of childhood “currency,” and I think it’s nice that this particular trend involves the kids making something with their own hands to swap and gift. cookies2

Yesterday we made iced sugar cookies to share with the kids’ grandparents after their church Christmas pageant this weekend. I cut out only snowmen to keep things simple, then set each child up with their own jar of icing, a small stack of cookies, little bowls of candies to share for the decorating, and a big fat lecture on hand washing and not licking.cookies3

Worth was not old enough to remember the last time we decorated cookies together and took the job very seriously.cookies4Of course the most enjoyable part of the project was the tasting at the end. Dorothy ate her “weird” snowman, I ate my piped icing mistake (oops! a uni-brow!), and Worth ate his snowman with the most candies and icing crammed on top. As is our custom when I have frosting in tubes, we wrapped up by me piping a “finger rose” on the tips of all their fingers, for them to lick off before going for one more good hand-wash.

first-christmasThere is nothing homemade in this photo except my beautiful baby herself, and her fine chubby cheeks. Breast-feeding can give such a sense of accomplishment when you see your child fill out and grow! Like I’m not sure how I did it, but I did it! Is it crafty? Nope, but still homemade. 🙂 She’s ten weeks old now and is doing great. She’s not a particularly easy or laid-back baby (of course I’m comparing her to Worth, who was just about the most pleasant and obliging infant I’ve ever encountered) but we don’t really mind trying to keep up with her exacting standards. She should have what she wants, this precious (final) baby #3!

After the holiday buzz

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I love that after-holiday feeling. As eager as I was to pull out the Christmas tunes after Halloween, I’m equally satisfied to have packed it all up now, returning to life as normal with a new zest. Doesn’t everything in the house look serene and uncluttered once the holiday decorations come down?

I guess I took a little break from blogging during all the whirl of celebrations, but here are some photos I’ve collected to share.

Belle got a new collar and tag in her Christmas stocking. Her collar came from this Etsy shop, and the tag (check out that awesome camper stamp!!) came from this one. Maybe I should be embarrassed that my dog’s accessories will match my camper but I’m not. Belle seemed impressed with it, but was more impressed with the chocolate she stole from our kitchen counter on Christmas morning. If I’d had to make that phone call to the emergency animal hospital before Christmas I might never have been so generous with the dog gifts! But it all turned out fine…nothing says “Merry Christmas” like inducing dog vomit. Oy. At least she’s nicely accessorized.

The owner of Stamped with Love also sent me this fantastic key chain, which I think speaks for itself. It’s stamped with the same words as our camper sign. I love it!

This is my favorite picture from Christmas 2011. My boy refused to let anyone remove his new shoes from his feet and he slept with his arms around his beloved new fire truck. He’s still too little to grant affection to Christmas gifts on any other basis than how much he loves them in the moment, and these wee running shoes and charming fire truck took the day. Dorothy’s favorite gift (I think), after all was said and done, was the new “pet” mouse Santa brought. We’ve been reading the Ralph the Mouse books, so I purchased a very cute toy mouse and stuck it in a real cage with a real rodent water bottle and clean shreds of scrapbook paper. The cage has a handle, so Dorothy totes the whole setup around with her. She loves it. It wasn’t a homemade gift, obviously, but I did feel like my creativity in assembling it made it more special than the ready-made gifts she has played with less.

These are the sugar cookies the children decorated at our New Year’s Eve celebration with another young family. I baked the cookies using Martha Stewart’s sugar cookie recipe, then iced them with plain white royal icing, then let the kids do the rest.

I put a shark applique on a plain white cotton tee as a birthday gift to a little friend who turned one on Christmas Eve. This felt like a useful and simple gift and I hope he likes it.

And last but not least, one of my own favorite Christmas gifts was a bit of a long shot. Some time last fall before Rob injured his heel we concocted a plan to acquire family pogo sticks this Christmas (with the exception of Worth, who has just perfected jumping on his own two feet). I don’t remember now what made us think this was a good idea. In any case, Rob got a pogo stick but can’t use it until his physical therapist and surgeon allow him to do so (maybe March?), Dorothy got a pogo stick with a nice, wide, detachable base to ease the learning curve but is still a bit of a stretch for a novice pogo-girl in chilly weather, but  me, well I’ve gone pogo crazy! I love it. I thought I’d never be able to get up on the thing, but it turns out that pogo jumping is rather like riding a bicycle; the muscle memory of the skill perfected as a young person followed me, forgotten but not gone, into my adulthood. Jumping on the pogo stick is the most fun exercise I’ve gotten in recent memory. It’s intense and makes the legs burn, but it’s so fun and thrilling I barely notice. I’ve been adding sets of pogo jumps to my day before and after our evening dog-walk, and the increase in heartbeat makes the whole endeavor more worthwhile, health-wise. If I’d just lay off the sugar cookies (see above) maybe I’d lose a few pounds too!

I hope your holidays were wonderful!

Curtains and Christmas crafting

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Our family room has been late to get the love that some of our other rooms got months ago. I’ve had the fabric (Kiki Pinata) picked out to make the curtains for months but could never find the time to start them. I finally got fed up with not having curtains one night recently and stayed up until 2:00 a.m. sewing, but my sleepy brain screwed them up and I spent most of that time trying to fix my own dumb mistakes. Curtains are pretty easy–mostly straight seams–but for some reason that night I couldn’t hack it. I did finally did finish the set for this one window and I really love the print, even though it is not the most appropriate backdrop for the Christmas tree we just set up in front of it. Now one down, one regular and two double windows to go. Yikes. But this room is really shaping up. Here we were right after move-in last year, with the unlit last-minute Christmas tree thrown in the corner next to a pile of boxes. I’m thankful every day that we are not moving this year! This year we set the tree up on a table to keep precious ornaments out of reach of kids and puppies, and my crafty Grandma’s memory is honored by the use of her handmade felt tree skirt and complete felt nativity. A much more peaceful scene than moving boxes.

After enjoying the seasonal pillow cases I made for my sofa a few weeks ago I decided I needed new ones for Christmas. I used wide strips of Christmas fabric (which accidentally found it’s way into my Fabric.com shopping cart when I was buying the curtain fabric) of varying widths to make intentionally non-matching pillows for each side of the sofa. The kids keep taking all the cushions off to make a mouse house with them and some blankets so I was unable to photograph them on the sofa, but here is one on the floor in its more natural habitat. I did some decorative machine stitches where the strips are joined and it looks cute. The final product looks cheerful and seasonal and kid-friendly both on the sofa and off.

My other recent holiday project was to make Rob a new stocking. His previous stocking was small, and Dorothy noticed this year that it seemed a bit plain next to the others. (This year we’ve also added an Etsy-purchased personalized stocking for Belle the dog.) I was under the impression that Rob’s old stocking was one of those emotion-infused items that came with my husband and Must Not Be Changed, but it turns out he didn’t even remember who made it for him so I was able to stick it in his Thou Shalt Not Throw Away box downstairs (we have issues with him being a keeper and me being a tosser–but that’s another story) and upgrade his stocking by the fireplace. I wanted to make it myself since I love him better than the dog. I used a rather manly green and gold stripe print I had left over from a project a couple years ago and lined it with some green corduroy, also from my stash. I stitched his name in gold thread and then sewed on some red jingle bells for color. My favorite part of this project was the way Dorothy fussed over unveiling it for him when he came home from work–she’s so glad Santa can now treat him with adequate generosity!

A Christmas hat

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My daughter told me this hat looks silly on me (kids say the darndest things!) but I kind of like it. It’s this free pattern, scrap yarn in four different shades of red and green, and it was quick and easy. This was my first knooking project with a lot of color changes and that is clearly a skill I need to work on as the back seam (not shown) looks a bit scraggly. Still, I’m picking up confidence with the knooking and I like my cheerful holiday hat no matter what my five-year-old thinks of it. I did the stripes in a completely random pattern, which got difficult in and of itself after some time. Like wait, if I use three rows of green here does that still look random? I’m not accidentally making a pattern here with two light reds and a dark, am I?  Intentionally randomness will drive you nuts after a while–I’m sure there is a lesson in there somewhere.

This is a hinged shoe box Dorothy painted. I could get revenge and say I think it looks silly, but really I don’t. I think it looks cute. This is the sort of out-of-the-recycle bin project that can be so satisfying. I needed to keep her entertained in the kitchen at some point a few weeks back so I gave her an empty shoe box and some latex paint. She painted the box quite happily and then forgot about it until I needed to keep her out of the way again a few days ago, so I set her up again with her now dry, painted box and my private stash of Sharpies. (Permanent markers are only for grown-ups around here, except under rarest circumstances.) She was once again happily entertained while she decorated it and now she has a cute treasure box to fill with childhood ephemera and stash on her shelf until it gets stepped on or broken or chewed on by the dog–at which point it will land back in the recycle bin, full circle. That’s really  not a bad life cycle for a shoe box.