Tag Archives: Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from my house to yours!  I hope you all have a joy-filled holiday!

This was the view from our deck on Wednesday.  Unfortunately the rains came today and there is very little snow left.  I am still dreaming of a white Christmas…how about you?

Enjoy this beautiful time of year!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Big and Meap, My newest create-a-creature friends!

I realize there have been a lot of these create-a-creature posts recently.  As the holidays approach I do seem to spend a lot of my time bringing creatures to life (and significantly less time cooking, reading, and doing all of the other things I usually do, but those posts will return, I promise!)

But I never get tired of it.  Because each one is so different.  I love it even more when the creatures have names, and stories.

These two pictures were drawn by sisters and sent to Santa.  The story will be told that he liked them so much that he couldn’t help but turn the drawings into real live toys.  I even wrote a letter to each artist on Santa’s behalf.  It was kind of fun to be both Santa’s elf and head of communications on this job. :)  And seriously, if you were Santa, wouldn’t you want these to be the next toys your elves made?

Meet “Big.”  I don’t know what a Moshling is….but they are awfully cute!

Then there is “Meap.”  I’m not sure if he will learn to speak English, but there was a lot of “meaping” going on in my workshop this week while he waited for his friend Big to come along.  I’m just glad he wasn’t shooting his lasers….

Both are now on their way (by Santa’s sleigh, of course) to their new home!

10 Months Early

Remember my list of projects for the finish-a-long?  10 months (and a little more) before Christmas and my tree skirt is done!! :)

(Never mind that I started it in November…it’s much nicer to think of being really early than really late, don’t you think?)

It’s super simple, just two layers of fabric encased in bias binding (which I made myself.)  It’s completely reversible in case I get bored with this side, which I can’t imagine happening because  I LOVE this side.  Being the bookworms that we are in this house, I think it’s perfect!

And now there is one less UFO trying to take over my sewing room….

A Special Order for Christmas

Someone must have put in an order for Christmas snow, because on December 23 we woke up to this:

 

 

We enjoyed this snow (and more!) right through Christmas until this morning, when I woke up to green grass and rain.

Oh how I love a white Christmas!  Everything just looks prettier when it is covered by a layer of fresh white snow!

Did anyone else enjoy a Christmas that was white?

Make Your Own Evergreen Christmas Wreath

Last year I shared with you how my mother-in-law taught me how to make an evergreen wreath.  This year we gathered with the whole family (my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, too!) to make them again.  We started our outing at our land to gather the evergreen boughs, and after a long (and somewhat wet!) hike we finally found the perfect branches.  After lunch we had a wonderful time creating our wreaths, and then going through the bags of flowers and pinecones that my mother-in-law has kept for just this purpose in order to decorate them.

Creating an evergreen wreath is super easy and fun!  Here’s how:

1.  Gather a bucket of fresh evergreen boughs.  We found fir trees to work best for this because their needles lie flat and aren’t prickly.  I think other branches would work, but you might want to wear gloves to keep from getting poked by the needles.

 

2.  Find or make a wire wreath frame.  You could make one out of a wire coat hanger, and the bonus is you will already have a hook for hanging!  You will also need some florist wire.

3.  Cut your boughs into lengths about as long as your hand.

4.  Gather these “hands” into a group of three or four (depending on how full your boughs are).

5.  Secure your wire to the wreath frame.  Wire the greens onto the front of your wreath frame by wrapping the wire around the wreath and greenery several times.

6.  Gather another group of “hands” and wire them to the back of your wreath frame, a small distance away from the group you just wired to the front.

7.  Continue to wire groups of branches alternately to the front and back until your whole wreath is covered.

8.  Twist the end of the wire to secure, and cut it off.  If you need a hanger, twist the wire into a hanging loop before cutting.

9.  You now have a beautiful evergreen wreath!  If the shape is a little wild, trim the boughs until you are happy with it.

10.  Decorate as you wish!  When I purchased wreaths in years past I only ever decorated them with a long velvet bow that I reused year after year.  I can’t resist my mother-in-law’s collection of decorations though, and love the way the flowers and pinecones look on the greenery.  These are attached with a glue gun, and they pull easily off the wreath at the end of the season to reuse next year.

Happy wreath making!

Christmas is for Giving: Spreading the Joy with Extended Family

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  The candle has been lit, the streets are white with snow, and the sound of Joy to the World still echoes in my ears from this morning’s church service. 

The Christmas season has begun.

Hubby and I have been busy making Christmas lists, planning celebrations, and I have at least ten homemade projects already on the go.  (Tutorials for evergreen Christmas wreaths and homemade envelopes will be up on Artisan in the Woods soon!)

But as much as I love the bows and ribbons, papers and cards, decorations and gifts, I know Christmas means so much more.

And as family begins to ask us what we want for Christmas, we are reminded just how very blessed we are in that our lists reflect beautiful things that we want, because we already have everything we really need.

It was out of this feeling and understanding that a new giving tradition has been born in my extended family. 

Many extended families have become creative with gift giving over the years.  Gift swaps, drawing names, gifts for kids only, gifts for the whole family to share, homemade gifts only, and card parties are just a few of the ways that families I know have chosen to celebrate the season of giving with each other, and as a way to lessen the number of gifts each family member needs to buy.

In my extended family, we decided that rather than trying to fill stockings with our wants, we would instead come together to help meet the needs of others.  This endeavour has had us shopping for Christmas dinner for families in need, giving gifts to those who otherwise wouldn’t have any, sharing gifts of love and handmade items to those who struggle through the season, and putting our hands and hearts into serving others.  Even my young nephews are involved in the gift-giving and love-sharing.

And this giving to others is also a gift to each other.  A gift of time spent together doing something worthwhile.  A gift of counting our blessings together and knowing we have more than enough.  The gift of watching the children among us grow in their understanding that Christmas is more than Santa and gifts under the tree.

When we come together as an extended family for Christmas dinner we may not be passing each other shiny-wrapped presents, but we share in the joy of the season and allow time spent together and warm embraces to be our gifts of the day.  It has become one of my favourite parts of celebrating the holidays together.

 It came without ribbons,
It came without tags,
It came without packages, boxes, or bags.
Christmas can’t be bought from a store…
Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.

~ Dr. Seuss 
How do you share Christmas with your extended family?    

How to Host a “New-to-You” Gift Swap

Some of you might be saying, “The holidays?  Already?  Isn’t it too early for that?”   I’ll admit that I don’t like hearing Christmas carols in the grocery store in October or walking past rows of Christmas trees before the leaves have even fallen from the trees outside, but if you are thinking about planning holiday events and parties – now is the time to begin.

 And this is one of my favourites. 

 What is a “New-To-You Gift Swap?”

It is similar to the standard office party/large group gift exchange, where everyone brings a gift to the event, and everyone takes a different gift home.  The big difference is that the gift you bring is something you already own. 

What types of items do people bring to a new-to-you exchange?

It could be that beautiful Christmas ornament that you just never put out, or that scarf you were given that you never wear because it doesn’t match your coat, or that game you thought you’d love but your family never plays.  It’s something that you don’t use anymore, but you think someone else might love.  This leads to a whole lot of variety, and a whole lot of fun.  One year one of the party-goers in my group of friends wrapped up a tacky Christmas sweater as her contribution to the exchange.  What a laugh we had when that gift was opened!  It was quickly followed with a photo shoot of the recipient modeling the “beautiful” sweater.  It was such fun that it has become a tradition and there always seems to be a festive sweater hidden in the pile each year (and with the popularity of “ugly sweater” parties, it has actually become a very useful gift!)  J   Of course, if you only want pretty things or useful things at your party, you can just say so in your invite.   

Why bother?  Why not just buy something new?

In my group of friends, the gift exchange started as a way to share the joy of gift giving with each other, without having to add another item to our long “to buy” lists.  For those of us concerned about the environment, it is a way to reuse and recycle and lesson the “consumer” aspect of the holiday season.  But most of all – it’s fun!  The selection of gifts is always varied and it’s exciting to see what items will appear in the gift exchange each year. 

How do you decide who gets what gift?

This is the fun part!  We play a game commonly called a “Yankee Swap” around here.  (I have no idea how it got that name.)  You can find the rules here.  It’s the swapping and exchanging part of this gift-giving game that makes it so enjoyable – and it’s always interesting to see which gifts are the most popular and most often swapped.  There are other ways you could hand out gifts, of course.  But adding a game aspect adds to the excitement. 

What would I write in an invitation?

On top of the usual “what, where, when” here are some things you might include:

You are invited to a “New-to-You Gift Swap” – a gift exchange party without the stress of buying a gift!

As part of this evening of fun and giving, each person will give a gift, and go home with a different gift.  The only rule is – the gift must be something you already own.  Maybe it’s something you have, but never use.  Or something you love, but don’t need anymore. It doesn’t matter what the item is, as long as it is something that can be used by someone else.  The variety of gifts is half the fun!  Don’t forget to wrap it up!

Take it a step further

Are you loving the swap idea?  Here are a few ideas to take it a notch further:

  • Have a tacky swap party.  If laughs are more important than the gift, have everyone search their houses for the tackiest thing they can find and wrap that up!  This might be a great accompaniment to one of those “ugly sweater” parties!
  • With a really close group of friends you could go in the other direction and have everyone bring something they own that they really love.  This is the true spirit of giving, isn’t it?  Giving things that are important to us to those we love!
  • If you really want to make this an earth-friendly party, you could also encourage reusable wrapping for your exchange gifts.

Time to Party!

Does anyone else host these types of parties or plan to hold one this year?  Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

 I was inspired to write this post after “meeting” Amy from  Joy to the Earth.  Her plan for a more joy-filled, less commercial Christmas really resonated with me.  It reminds me of the story of the Grinch - where Christmas came to Whoville even without the presents, the decorations, the roast beast.  That’s the holiday I am celebrating this year – the one that makes us sing for joy no matter what is lying beneath the tree!  Happy party planning!

Inspiration

In this moment I have herbs that need harvesting, a project in half-completion in the sewing room, a book half-read whose story dances around my head even when I have decided I MUST leave it and get back to doing something more productive.  My to-do list extends well beyond what time and space will ever allow, as my creative mind dreams up 20 new projects to start before I have even finished the first on the list.

And yet, I can’t help seeking out new inspiration, dreaming new dreams, solving new problems.

Truth be told, I don’t think I’d want to live any other way.

Here are just a few things that have grabbed my attention lately:

Sew, Mama, Sew is posting daily holiday inspiration.  I want to make a neighbourhood of these and isn’t this one of the coolest scrap-busters ever?

I somehow stumbled across a new blog today and am in love with some of the cute crafts!   I am definitely inspired to do something creative with all of the buttons I own.

I was also reminded this morning that what I have is enough, I learned to use picnik and created my own banner for my new Etsy shop (more on that in a few days),  and I discovered this fun Halloween treat  and am busy trying to think of a way to make it without the chocolate.  (I’ll let you know if I come up with something!)

Isn’t it wonderful to be a part of a world-wide community of idea-sharers?   What is inspiring you today?

A Handmade Holiday

I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas holiday!  Hubby and I packed up the car on Christmas Eve (and boy was it packed!) and headed over the river and through the woods (literally) to his parent’s house where we spent the holidays with all of his family.  It was a wonderful Christmas full of love, laughter and lots of good food, we certainly could not have asked for anything better.

One of my favourite parts of the week-end was finally being able to watch everyone open their hand-made gifts, and now that they have all been received by their recipients I am equally as excited to share all of my “secret sewing” with you! 

For Hubby I made him a lunch bag using this tutorial.  I toyed with the idea of making a number of more complicated insulated bags, but none of them seemed big enough for the containers we often use for lunches, and because he stores his lunch in the fridge the insulation seemed unnecessary.  Plain and simple won the day!

It’s lined with NASCAR fabric to jazz it up a little. 

For my sister-in-law I made a sewing set. 

The big piece of fabric is a sewing machine cover based on this tutorial.  I had lots of fabric left over so decided to sew up a few accessories. 

A little pin cushion

A needle book.  I have seen several of these on blogs over the years but couldn’t find a tutorial to make one so just made it up!   I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

And finally I made a gathered clutch to hold it all.   This tutorial was a lot of fun, I now understand why everyone seems to be making them.   This was my first zippered bag and I have to say I am no longer afraid of zipper installation. Yay! 

My sister-in-law had also asked for some produce bags (I use them in my fridge instead of plastic) so I made a set of those, too.

For my mother-in-law I rediscovered the joy of paper piecing.  I had forgotten how much fun it is (and also how time-consuming – I was still sewing on the evening of the 23rd – yikes!)  This is my first paper-pieced quilt with such tiny pieces and I am really happy with the way it turned out – and I think my mother-in-law liked it too!

For Hubby and my father-in-law I made personalized mouse pads.  The pads were bought blank and then I used an iron-on-transfer to decorate them with a photo that reflects their interests.   (The canoe is for Hubby)

And finally, I made some handmade ornaments for a good friend of mine.  She has a nativity-themed Christmas tree but happened to mention that she didn’t have any shepherd ornaments.  I can understand why when I tried to find some and come up empty-handed!  Not finding any tutorials on how to make your own shepherd (!) I had to improvise.  Based loosely on penny rugs I rediscovered hand-stiitching and made a felt shepherd and sheep. 

It was a busy week before Christmas (I know, I know, every year I say I am going to start earlier but there I was on December 20th just getting started!), but definitely worth it! 

Did you make or receive any handmade gifts this year?

‘Twas Four Days until Christmas

‘Twas four days until Christmas and it was pelting with rain,

The grass was brown, the trees were bare, it was looking rather plain,

But inside something festive had started, something that would not be stopped,

The smells of molasses and ginger and spice, the fresh pine of a tree that had been chopped.

Oh only a few days ago things inside were looking rather grim,

Saws had been whirring, plumbers should have been stirring, and no one had painted the trim,

“Perhaps we won’t decorate for Christmas this year, with concrete dust looking like snow,”

“Perhaps we will just enjoy the festivities, when off to your mother’s we go.”

But oh, who can resist the joys of Christmas, with the house all merry and bright,

And so out came the boxes of tinsel and trim, of ornaments and lights.

It wasn’t long before this half-built house started to sing out with glee,

I am decorated for Christmas, oh come in and look at me!

Although far from Martha Stewart’s nod, we have done what we are able,

We look past unfinished rooms and dust, remembering that the first Christmas was in a stable. 

And this will be a sign unto you: you will find a Baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:12- 14)

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

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