Category Archives: Christmas

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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. https://www.mommypotamus.com/no-sew-t-shirt-tote-bag-tutorial/ 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Scout and Trooper were happy to be with us.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

The Tree Is Up

Just one week before Christmas and our Christmas Tree is finally up. It’s not because I’ve been too busy, lazy or procrastinating that it’s taken so long. It’s because I love the tradition that we have for putting up the tree. I’m not sure when it started, but it was sometime over the last fifteen years. My four daughters and I put up the Christmas Tree together.

With the girls all living on their own now, and having to schedule around their work and college commitments, it has become more difficult to find a time when they can all get together. We have been trying to coordinate a time for this since Thanksgiving and I had even entertained the thought that I might have to put the tree up by myself or maybe just not put the tree up at all. Finally the time was set for noon yesterday that they would all arrive for the task. As it turned out only three of them made it because Hanna was not feeling well (some things you just can’t plan for).

While there were all ready a lot of specifics to our tradition of putting up the tree, I decided to add to our fun. My sister had sent me a crochet pattern for a Santa hat. It was a cute hat but I really didn’t think I had any reason to make it so I had just filed it away, but for some reason on Tuesday I decided I would make elf hats for the girls. Since I didn’t have yarn in traditional Christmas red and green, I decided to use what I had. I started crocheting and completed the first one Tuesday night and finished up three more before bedtime on Wednesday. Then I realized that the girls would probably say “Mom, where is your hat?” So yesterday morning I dug out some more yarn and stitched up one more elf hat. I was still finishing it up when Tina (elf # 1) arrived but had it finished before (Kara elf # 3) and Lindell (elf # 4) arrived shortly after noon.

 

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Elf Hats for the girls
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One last elf hat

When I made the hats I had an idea of which hat would go to which daughter (elf) but I decided to let them pick their own. I decided to let them choose in the order that they arrived, so Tina picked first as she arrived before noon and waited quite awhile with me before the others got there.

Tina, who is a fashion designer, and loves colorful patterns, chose the purple hat. I was happy because I had her in mind when I made this hat. Lindell arrived next. I was disappointed to see that she was alone because she was supposed to pick up Hanna (# 3 elf) and bring her along. Lindell got next pick and she took the red and black one. This is actually the hat I had in mind for Hanna, when I was making them but it looked really nice on Lindell.  There was no doubt in anyone’s mind which hat Kara would pick. I made it specifically in Wayne State colors with Kara in mind, and even though she didn’t get first pick, her sisters knew it was her hat and would not claim it for themselves. I then asked one of the girls which of the remaining two I should have and she said the blue one, probably because I was dressed in all blue.

My elves assembling the tree
My elves assembling the tree

 

Tina #1 elf
Tina #1 elf
Kara # 2 elf
Kara # 2 elf
Lindell, Elf # 3 has an angle looking over her shoulder
Lindell, Elf # 3 has an angle looking over her shoulder

By the time Kara arrived 20 or 30 minutes after noon, we had already begun the tree assembly but there were still plenty of branches that needed to be unfolded and “fluffed” as they called it, and then installed on the trunk. The girls have become very particular about the way the branches are fluffed and placed on the tree. After the tree was put together it was time to put the lights on. This is where we really missed Hanna. It is her job to help me with this. After we plug in each strand to make sure that it works, she stands on one side of the tree, and I stand on the opposite side. We start at the bottom of the tree and I hand the strand to her, then she hands it back to me as we wrap it around the tree moving upward as we go. Kara and Lindell both took turns filling in this position, although they are not nearly as proficient as Hanna, the lights were successfully put one the tree.

After the lights go on the tree comes a very special part of our tradition. Many years ago I purchased a collection of Snow Angels Christmas ornaments. I don’t have a complete collection and I’m not sure how many there are total in this series or even if the still make them. I do have about 30 of them and each one has a tag that says Blessing of ___. Some examples are Blessing of Hope, Blessing of Love, Blessing of Jubilee, Blessing of Patience and Blessing of Coyness. These are the ornaments that get placed on the tree before any others. While I unpack these “blessings” I will read the tag and select one of the girls to place it on the tree. Sometimes I give it to the girl I think has that blessing or a quality and sometimes I think it is a blessing that the girls needs. The blessing of Slumber for example has mostly gone to Tina or Lindell who both love to sleep the day away, but this year it went Kara who has pulled two all-nighters in the past week due to exams and projects that are due before the semester ends.

Once the Snow Angels adorn the tree, the girls hang the rest of the ornaments that we have collected over the years, many of then have their names on them or were acquired in groups of three or four like the three Christmas Dinosaurs or four Christmas Dogs. Lastly the angel is placed on top of the tree. I usually do this but had some help from Lindell this year.

As I told the girls to put all of the packaging back in the bins, I noticed the tree skirt and said someone needs to put that around the tree. Kara said she would “dress” the tree in it’s skirt but decided to model the tree skirt first.

Kara modeling the tree skirt
Kara modeling the tree skirt

Once the we were finished and the packaging was put away we all posed for a picture taken by Elf # 4, with her long arms and being trained in digital media. Then we enjoyed some homemade chicken soup that was prepared, with love, by my husband for our tree decorating elves.

Kara, Lindelle, Tina, Mom (back)
Kara, Lindelle, Tina, Mom (back)

As each of the girls left I made sure they were wearing their elf hat. I told them that I hope that they would wear them and embrace their eccentricity or maybe just indulge mine. I don’t know whether the girls will wear them again this year, but maybe they will become part of our Christmas tradition in future years.

As always I think the tree looks beautiful, and this year despite the lack of snow and the unseasonably warm temperatures we have had lately, it is beginning to feel a little like Christmas.

A Gift For The Giver

Tis’ the night before Christmas, and if you believe, it is certain for your caller, some treats you will leave.

Now cookies and milk are a fine gift for sure, but doesn’t this person deserve a little bit more.

Perhaps covered in ashes as the story is told, or simply worn out from shopping out in the cold.

T’was a labor of love, undertook just for you. You want to say thank you from deep, down, it’s true.

But what could this giver and hard worker need, a gift that is thoughtful and useful indeed.

This persons been planning so long for this night, with shopping and wrapping, or making the flight.

Now the work is all done and the mission complete, this person is exhausted from head down to feet.

Your goodies have fed him and the milk quenched the thirst, so sleep is what’s calling, but a shower comes first.

A nice bar of soap to clean and to scrub, will make your friend happy in the shower or tub.

It’s labeled “Don’t Eat It” so he won’t get confused, between what is the soap and what is the food.

The lather is soothing and it won’t dry the skin, unlike store bought soap it has glycerin.

Now to order this soap and have it in time, just visit my store and drop me a line. ruth20012001@yahoo.com