Monthly Archives: December 2017

A Homemade Christmas

As I mentioned in my Pre-Christmas post I had many projects in the works, so today I’m going to tell you about the Christmas gifts I made for my family this year.

My first thoughts were about what to give to my grandbabies Jackson who is 18 months and Adeline who is about 6 weeks. A few weeks ago I had asked my daughter what they needed for the baby. The one thing she mentioned that they didn’t have was a car seat canopy or tent. I’m not sure how much of a need this is because they were making do with a blanket thrown over the handle of the car seat to cover the baby when she was out in the cold. The design of the car seat canopy that attached to the handle would certainly be more convenient. So I decided to make one.

Crochet is usually my medium of choice but since my crochet time was being taken up by another major project that I was working on (I will write about it soon) there just wasn’t time to crochet anything more. While sewing is not something I am really skilled at, every once in a while I get out my sewing machine and pretend that I know what I am doing. This project would be my “once in a while” for the year.

I searched the internet for car seat canopy ideas and tutorials and found many. Then I combined some of the ideas I found and came up with my own design. One thing I have learned from my sister, who is very talented at sewing, is that flannel and fleece are “very forgiving” fabrics to work with. I am thankful for this because if there is a “sewing sin” I will undoubtedly commit it. I selected flannel for this project.

I decided to make it a patchwork blanket, but since I knew that finishing the edges would be a nightmare for me, I decided to use the rag blanket technique. Rather than having finished seams, I could sew the edges together then clip the edges so they would become frayed and fluff up after washing.

I selected four flannel fabrics, placing priority on finding one with a lady bug design. I wanted lady bugs because “Lady Bug” is the nickname that her parents have given Adeline. I think this nickname came by default, as they call her older brother “Bug”, none-the-less Lady Bug is a cute nickname.

The following photos are the end result, although another trip though the washer and dryer will make the edges fluff up and hide any stitching that is still visible.


Designing the straps and the placement of them was mostly done with a prayerful guess since I didn’t have a car seat do to a fitting.


This is the back side since the straps are attached to the other side.

IMG_3561On Christmas Day I found out that my Prayers were answered. It FIT!!! 🙂

Jackson’s gift was next and just what do you make for an 18 month old who appears to have everything? Well I spotted a bag of poly-fil in my craft room and decided to make him a fleece pillow. For this project I decide to forego the sewing and make a tie pillow.


At this point Jackson could use it as a full body pillow, but I am sure it won’t be long before he grows into it


and do boys ever outgrow puppies?

Lastly I needed to come up with an idea of something to make for my daughters. I already had plans to bake banana bread for each of them, give them each a jar of homemade strawberry jam, and a soap and balm gift set,  but I wanted to add a little something more. I was thinking about tote bags or market bags but knew I would not have time to crochet them.  I was searching the internet for ideas and I came across this tutorial for t-shirt bags. Quick, easy, practical, this was perfect. I first took one of my old t-shirts that I had used for painting several times in the past and made a sample. I loved the outcome so I stopped by the Salvation Army Thrift Store to see if I could find t-shirts designs that my daughters would like.


Success! Clockwise from top left – I picked the Disney shirt for Hanna, who even as an adult loves all things Disney; the Spartans shirt is for Lindell who is a Michigan State fan; I bought the fish shirt for Tina, who always enjoys visiting Aquariums; and the House of Blues shirt is perfect for Kara, who is my musician.

In the photo below Kara and Lindell are displaying their bags after opening their gifts on Christmas Day.


Incidentally after seeing me make these for the girls my husband asked if I would make him one, since we often pack up a bag of stuff to take along to the farm. “I’ll give you an old t-shirt,” he offered. One of the things we like about the t-shirt bags over the canvass bags that we use is that the t-shirt bags will wash nicely in the washing machine and dryer, whereas the canvass bags seem to shrink a little more with every washing.  I suspect I will be making more of these in the future.

So this is the results of my crafting marathon which took place December 20- 23rd 2017 and left me with  December 24th to do some holiday baking 🙂

Be sure to watch for my next post – My Biggest Accomplishment of 2017.




Our Christmas Tree

For the second year in a row we decided to cut our own Christmas tree. Last year, and again this year, we cut spruce trees from the farm. When we purchased the farm in 2011 there were many deciduous trees growing on the property but there were absolutely no evergreens. The following spring we placed an order with our local conservation district spring tree sale and amongst the things we ordered were 50 spruce trees, 25 Blue Spruce and 25 Norway Spruce. When the 12-15 inch seedlings arrived we had no idea where we were going to plant them, so we made a nursery area for them within our fenced garden area where they were well tended through the summer. It was a hot and dry summer, and the garden required much watering. It was the summer before we had the pond or the windmill so we carted many barrels of water in the back of the truck, from our house to the farm, in order to keep our garden alive. Having these seedlings in the garden area, where it was convenient to water them, proved to be a blessing and allowed them to flourish. By the fall of that year we were ready to plant them in their permanent places. We decided to line the North and East sides of the back field with some of them, as they would eventually provide privacy and wind breaks.

Over the last five years these trees have received much TLC, they have been fenced during the winters to protect them from the deer, they have been weeded and mulched, and during the droughts of summer we have driven the truck around the outskirts of the field delivering water to each of these trees in attempts to keep them alive. Not all of the trees have survived, but most have with some doing better than others.

We have continued to order Norway Spruce and Blue Spruce seedlings each spring and place them in a temporary nursery area until we decided where we want to plant them. Some of them have replaced spruce trees that we lost, we use some to replace dead Ash and Elm trees that we cut down, and we will also replace the trees that we cut for Christmas trees.

Spruce Trees Line The East Side Of Our Field

It was about 10 days before Christmas, and we had gotten our first decent snow fall, when we went out to cut our tree. My husband and I walked the path along the East and North of the property and examined each tree before we decided which one to cut.


Scout and Trooper were happy to be with us.


We selected this Norway Spruce. We didn’t measure it but I’m sure it was close to 5 feet tall. It took my husband less than a minute to saw through the trunk.


As we walked back from the field we spotted this hen who had made her way through the snow out to the field. We were really surprised to see her there because chickens do not like to walk in snow. My husband picked her up and we gave her a lift back to the coop.


We opted not to trim the longer, upper branches to achieve the “prefect” Christmas Tree shape, but left the tree in it’s natural God-given shape. The short needles and less than crowded branches made adding lights and hanging ornaments easy. And we have been enjoying the simplicity and beauty of our homegrown Christmas tree.


On Christmas Day we added one final ornament after opening the gift from Tina and Ken. We hung the new “Ciani Family” ornament next to the “God Bless the Farmer” ornament they gifted to us last year. I think I am seeing a theme here to complement our new tradition. 🙂

Crunch Time

With only a few short days before Christmas I still have several projects in the works. Even though I don’t do Christmas shopping, I guess this year I am as bad as a last minute shopper. Call me a “last minute crafter”. Thus the next few days will be spent finishing those projects (that I will tell you about after the holidays), grocery shopping for our Christmas meal, and baking some Christmas treats.

I did want to take a minute to tell you how my latest soap turned out. I wrote about it in this post It is the one with cucumber, yogurt and Rosemary. I will start by saying my first impression was positive, but I always keep my thoughts to myself until I get some feedback from others. My husband was the next to try it. He showered with it in the morning then headed to the farm to get some work done. A while later he called me, “what was that soap I used this morning?” he asked. I told him and he went on to tell me his experience. “I always start my shower by lathering up my hair” he said.  (Yes we both use my homemade soaps to wash our hair as well as our bodies.) “I started rubbing that soap in my hair and the next thing I knew I had a big pile of lather on top of my head. It felt really good and rinsed off nice too. I like it.”

My niece stopped by a couple days later so I gave her one for her and one for my sister to try.  When I asked my sister about it she said something like this, “I usually don’t spend much time in the shower, I get in, wash up and get out. When I was using this soap I didn’t want to get out. It left my skin feeling so good, and I don’t know if I have ever felt so clean.” My niece also liked this soap, and I only wish I had written down her comments because I can’t remember them right now.

Besides the rich creamy lather and my skin feeling really soft after the shower, I noticed some things that no one else mentioned. First the bar had a bit of a gritty feeling like small grains of sand in the soap. I am not sure where this came from unless it was ground up cucumber seeds. It wasn’t offensive, in fact it gave the bar a little extra scrubbing power much like to coffee grounds in my coffee soap. The other thing I noticed was that I could smell the scent of Rosemary when I sniffed the bar. I am not surprised that no one else noticed this because I had to actually put the bar right up to my nose and sniff it in order to detect the fragrance. This soap recipe is definitely a keeper.

In my previous post I shared that my biggest dilemma was coming up with a name for this soap. A couple of readers offered cute suggestions, and while I very much appreciate their ideas I decided to stick with my “Don’t Eat It!” theme. This new soap is now called———————————————————————————————–







Yep! It’s Salad Bar Soap. Cucumbers are definitely salad food and yogurt and Rosemary could be ingredients in a salad dressing, so quirky as it may sound “Salad Bar” it is.

Now before I get back to all of the busyness of the next few days, Dom and I want to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas. God Bless.