Christmas


1. For some reason, my post from Saturday didn’t post until I logged on tonight.  I don’t really know why.  I must have angered or annoyed the blog in some way.  This is paybacks.  Sorry for a second post in one day!

2. My Christmas tree and outside decorations are still up.

3. Last night I took down the inside decorations.

4. My plan was to take down the tree last night, but discovered that my cats have been peeing all around the base of the tree.

5. I spent the evening cleaning up cat pee.

6. The cats are not sick (they were at the vet last month). They just don’t like Christmas trees. They did this last year.  We thought they wouldn’t this year because last year’s tree was real and this year’s was artificial.  Our vet had suggested the real tree may have confused them and made them think they were outside.  I don’t think so.  The artificial tree didn’t matter apparently.  They are just grinchy.

7. If anyone would like two adult cats who have a tendency to pee on the carpet anytime they get pissed off (pun intended), please let me know.

8. I realize the above won’t really entice anyone to request my cats, but I believe in truth in advertising!

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Every year, we have a big New Years party.  This year was no exception. We did have the big party.  It was a blast.  I love welcoming the New Year in surrounded by friends and fun.  Then we spent a day recovering. The boys and I had a jammie day.  Today was church and then knitting group. I  never really feel like it is a new year until work starts back up. That is tomorrow.  I really feel like my year starts tomorrow.  So I have spent today doing what most people do on New Year’s Eve, thinking about the upcoming year.  I don’t really like New Years Resolutions.  I prefer to think of New Year’s goals.  So, here is what I have come up with in the crafting realm:
Christmas 2011 cloths 2
1. Every year I make a Christmas crafting plan in January. I assign different gifts to each month and work on them through the year.  This year is no exception.  For my Christmas dishcloths, I chose the Nubby Dishcloth pattern.  I have already made 6 1/2 cloths. I will need at least 20.  I am working on them in January and February.

2. I want to do more scrapbooking. One of my big holiday plans is a 2011 scrapbook for my mom and mother in law.  In the January/February 2005 Simple Scrapbooks magazine, there was a “Scrapbook 200 photos tonight!” article.  The idea is that you use a “two-up photo album” (an album that holds 200 4×6 photos).  I loved the idea and bought two albums back in 2005. I also cut 400 4×6 pieces of coordinating cardstock.  Then, I put it away. All I have to do is print out photos, attach them to the cardstock, embellish, and do some quick journaling. My plan is to do two identical albums and to do a few pages each month.

3. Each year I have a goal to learn something new.  This year, there are two things that I want to learn. The first is that I want to learn to really use my serger. I have used it a few times for very simple stuff.  I know that it will do a lot more than I have ever used it for in the past. I got a book called Ready, Set, Serge.  I plan to make some of the things from the book (and put them in my future gifts basket).  I am really excited to do a rolled hem. One of my Christmas gifts next year will be cloth napkin sets!

4. The second thing I want to learn to do is make soap.  I don’t really have a plan on this one, but I will soon.  I would like to make soap for gifts next year too.

Wee block jar

5. This is the cookie jar I bought for $3 today. I put my very small sock yarn balls in the jar.  These are for my sock yarn blankie!  These are only the ones that have not been put into the blankie yet.  After I use a ball, I put it in a bin. Later, they will be put back into this jar to be used again (just not too close to the first block).  One of my goals is to work on this blankie more consistently!  I really think the jar looks beautiful. It will be a nice reminder to work on it.

6. I also want to finish some unfinished projects.  My February Lady Sweater needs one sleeve.  I need to assemble Logan’s blankie from 2009. I need to finish Wyatt’s block borders and then assemble his.  Neither will take me long, but I just need to buckle down!

7. I want to start an Etsy shop. I am working on getting all of the legal stuff in order. I am hoping to announce more and launch in early this year!

8. My last crafting goal is to blog regularly.  I think this is self-explanatory. I love blogging, but I don’t do it as regularly as I would like.

I also have some personal goals. The first is to get pregnant. I know this seems a bit weird, but we have been trying for about a year. I had an ectopic back in March. Since then, no luck. I really want another baby (my last).  The second is to go through Operation World as a family.  We have “family church” every night. We read a bible story and pray as a family.  We are really excited about a more guided prayer experience as a family.  My last personal goal is to keep my house up.  We have been doing a pretty good job.  I want to keep that going.

Well, that seems like quite enough for one year!  Happy New Year to you!!

The gifts are all opened. The ham has been eaten. I am enjoying some quiet time while my boys and husband sleep. The best part of today is hanging out with family.  Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Most years, I intend to make most of my gifts.  Then I run out of time and then spend a ton of money at the last minute to make up for the gifts I didn’t finish.

This year, I planned ahead.  I made dishcloths all year long. I also made sponges. I also made some small items and bookmarked the best recipes. I made a schedule of what I needed to make and when.  I gave myself extra time.  This year, I have a mostly handmade holiday!  The only thing I didn’t do: take photos of everything before wrapping it up!!  Here are some of the pictures of the gifts I made:

1. Fabric covered notebooks.  To make these, I took a composition notebook and cut fabric just a bit bigger than the notebook (remember to wrap the fabric around the the closed notebook). Then I Heat n Bond to stick the fabric to the notebook. I then used my rotary cutter to trim the excess.  These are cute journals for my nieces.

2. I-spy bags: I have linked to the post where I describe how I made them.

3. One of the magnetic paper doll sets, a fabric covered notebook, and my hand sanitizer sock.  I have linked to the paper doll tutorial, and my explanation of how I made the hand sanitizer sock. I made around 10 sets of paper dolls. I also made 5 hand sanitizer socks.

4 and 5. Capes

6. Gathered clutch.  I used this tutorial.  This is for my mom. Not pictured is the the tiny composition book covered in matching fabric.

Some gifts that are not pictured are my crocheted dishcloths, crochet dishsponges, candy, coupon holders, and the contents of the magnetic dolls.  I am really happy with everything I made.

In the past years, I have had a lot of guilt around handmade holiday gifts. I make something, and then I worry that the person will think I didn’t care enough to buy them something.  This year, I haven’t felt any of that guilt. I know what goes into my gifts. I am not going to worry about it.  I was going to write a whole blog post about my attitude this year, but then the Yarn Harlot so perfectly summed it up. I can’t do better than her, so I will link to her post!

Merry Christmas!!!

My mom had a really neat tradition of giving us at least one ornament per year.  That way, when we moved out, we would have a tree full of ornaments.  We have continued that with our kids.  We also have some “family” ornaments that my husband and I have collected during our marriage.  We have enough family and kid ornaments, that I only hang out some of my most special ornaments each year.  I rotate some ornaments, but I have a few that must go on the tree each year.

Row 1 (from left to right):

1. This ornament was given to me by my grandmother the year I was born.  It was the first ornament that I received.  She bought it in a Norwegian shop in Iowa (my grandma was born in Norway).  This ornament has hung on my tree every year since I was born. Just looking at it brings back a hundred memories!

2. This ornament is the Little Book of Gnomes.  My aunt Pat gave this to me in 1985.  I love gnomes and have always had a fascination with them. I blame my Norwegian roots.  I read this book every year.  My kids love this little book too!

3. This angel ornament is also from the year I was born. My grandmother also bought me this ornament.  This ornament is very heavy and has an artist signature on the back. My grandmother told me that she bought it at a craft fair.  It has also been on the tree every year since the year I was born.  This ornament is what I picture when I hear Hark the Herald Angels Sing (since I was tiny).

Row 2 (from left to right):

1 and 2.  These are handmade ornaments made by my childhood babysitter (Aunt Barb…not my real aunt, but an honorary aunt). She made a whole bunch of these for the annual church craft fair each year.  I don’t remember what year I got these (although I remember it was the same year). I would have been between 5 and 8 years old.  I was fascinated by both. They are really well made, and always make me think of Aunt Barb.  They also remind me of how much I loved that craft fair!

3. This is a little angel with a tree in a thimble.  This was given to me by my paternal grandmother.  She collected spoons and thimbles.  I was less than 5 years old when she gave this to me.  I love the angel’s little chubby face!  She is really tiny, so she hides in the tree.  I used to like to move her around and make a game of having my younger siblings find her.

4. This little angel was also from a craft fair. I think she was also made by Aunt Barb.  She was one of the first ornaments I ever bought myself.  Some years later, I helped Aunt Barb make a bunch of these (that is why I think she made this one).  These make me nostalgic for that craft fair and the fun of preparing for it.

Each of these ornaments brings back memories of decorating the tree with my family, tucking presents under the tree, cuddling with various family members while studying the tree, and (most recently) telling my kids stories about Christmases past!  It wouldn’t feel like my tree without them.  To me, they symbolize what is important: family, making special memories, and love. That is why these ornaments are my favorite things!

My Christmas crafting is nearly done, and I am in the home stretch! I have finished all 6 I-Spy bags for the kiddos in my life.  They came out really cute.  The key to making them is the teflon foot for sewing the vinyl.  They were super easy with that attachment.  Otherwise, it would have been a real pain!  These are so fun. I have all kinds of small goodies inside.
All 6 I-Spy bags!

To make these, I cut out 2 9″ squares of fabric. I picked out my toys.  Then I printed the list of toys on an iron on transfer sheet. I ironed it onto a piece of ivory knit fabric that I had.  I then sewed that onto  one of the squares.  On the other square, I cut out the center. I then cut a piece of vinyl a little bit bigger. I sewed the vinyl to the back of the opening (double stitched). I then sewed the 2 squares together (right sides facing), leaving a small opening.  I then topstitched around (except for the small opening).  I added the toys and poly pellets. I then stitched the opening closed (blind stitch by hand).  Then I topstitched the small opening area.  They were pretty easy!

Showing the back

The last couple of days, I have been working on making other little gifts.  For my nieces, I decided I wanted to do a little hand sanitizer holder. I spent a lot of time looking online for a pattern/tutorial I liked. I never found one.  I had some socks that I bought for another project. I started thinking about how to use them.  This is what I created:
Sanitizer sock 1

I am calling them hand sanitizer socks!  I love how they turned out.
Sanitizer sock 2
The button is just for decoration. It closes at the top with a snap.
Inside

I have been covering composition notebooks with fabric using fusible web.  I ran out with two notebooks left.  After I pick some more up and finish, I will post pictures.  Besides that, I need to do a little more candy making. I also want to make a few coupon holders to have on hand to give as emergency gifts.  I have a few things I have made that need to be photographed.  I should be posting the final wrap up in the next few days.

This weekend has been really busy. I have made chocolate/white chocolate coated pretzels, coconut bon bons, and peppermint bark.  I got a chocolate melter at JoAnn’s on Black Friday. It was the best $15 I have spent in a long time!  It made it so easy to make all my Christmas candy.  It cleans up so easy too!

Besides that, I finished the superhero capes.  Four capes, instead of the three I planned.  Fortunately, flannel was $1.27 a yard at JoAnn’s on Friday.  I got some pink and a pink/brown floral for my niece’s cape (special request from her mom when she found out I had done them for the boys).  They came out really cute.

When I first read that it would take about 2 hours to make a cape, I didn’t think that was accurate.  It was.  The pink cape took me an hour and a half this evening. The other capes I made together. They took me a total of 6 hours to complete (which is 2 hours per cape).  They are not difficult. The hardest thing was the applique.  I had never done it before, but it wasn’t too bad. The flames on Logan’s cape were the most difficult.

Besides cute superhero capes, I also made a notebook cover for Logan’s teacher and a coupon holder for my mother-in-law. For the notebook cover, I used this tutorial, but I used a large composition book. I had some cute vintage fabric.  For MIL’s coupon holder, I used this tutorial.  Next time, I will add some interfacing to give it a little structure, and I will print the labels on ribbon and sew them on.  Sewing vinyl is a real pain!  I will post pictures later.  I also have been knitting on a baby hat for a friend.

I feel like I got a lot done. I still went shopping, ate too much, spent time with family, went to the city tree lighting, and went to church. I didn’t just craft all weekend.  It has left me feeling very accomplished!

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