Category Archives: Christmas

A Blessed Christmas Season

Welcome friends! I thought I would give you fair warning that this post turned out to be quite lengthy, so you might want to grab a cup, glass or bottle of your favorite beverage to enjoy as you share in our pre-Christmas and Christmas activities.

O Christmas Tree

I had intended to include several photos documenting the cutting of our 2019 Christmas tree as I have done in past years. Regrettably, it was not meant to be. Although I snapped many pictures as we ventured out to the farm and cut our tree, it seems they are trapped on my cameras SD card. When I put the card in the computer the photo program seems to search for them but then freezes up and refuses to retrieve any photos. Fortunately upon buying a new SD card I am able to once again take pictures and load them onto my computer, so it is only those few that I will not be able to share.

Even though I cannot access those photos, I felt it was important to document this event since part of the purpose of this blog is to journal our activities. This is our fourth year of cutting a Christmas Tree from our farm. The trees we have been cutting are either Norway Spruce or Blue Spruce that we planted as when they were 12 – 18 inch seedlings in 2012. When we planted the young trees it was not our intention to grow our own Christmas Trees but this has since become our tradition.

It was Sunday, December 15, when we headed out to the farm to cut our preselected Christmas Tree. The temperature was hovering around freezing, and though the sun was shining bright as we walked out the door, the clouds quickly moved in and produced a brief snow squall. By the time we got to the farm, about 5 minutes later, there was a thin layer of snow blanketing the driveway, and setting the Christmas-like mood. The snow subsided as quickly as it had appeared and eventually the sun reappeared and melted the snow away.

After going to the barn to retrieve a saw we headed to the south-west corner of the property. The tree we had chosen was in a line of trees that were planted near the west property line to separate our property from the neighbors to the west. It is a lovey blue spruce that is slightly over four feet tall. We will plant a tree to replace this one in the spring.

 

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Christmas 2019

I won’t bore you with the details of setting up the tree and decorating it since it all went smoothly and within a couple of hours the task was complete.

Made With Love

As in past years, I spent the month before Christmas making gifts. Since I have been working on increasing my sewing skills lately I decided to make aprons for the girls. This may seem an odd gift since only one out of four of them likes to cook, but I decided to personalize them.

The first two were made from a pattern that I bought several years ago and have never used. The second two were made out of worn out blue jeans, using this  tutorial. I learned new sewing skills while making each of the patterns – the first involved hand basting a seam before sewing it in place and top stitching (that actually turned out pretty well). The second pattern involved making a ruffle and bias tape. On the last one I got very bold and changed the design from a ruffle and bias tape trim to a cut flannel, rag-type, trim. I was very pleased with the way they all turned out.

It was then time to personalize them – I wanted to capture each of the girls attitude for cooking.

 

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The first was Tina who simply does not like cooking. She laughed when she saw it and agreed that described her.

 

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This one was for Kara, who doesn’t like to cook, but calls me often with cooking questions. I’m always happy to get those calls. She too laughed when she saw the words and realized it was an apron.

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The third one was for Hanna. While she may cook occasionally she is more likely to spend time painting, so I decided to make hers a painters apron. The old blue jeans that I used already had some paint stains on them and I added some more splotches with fabric paint.

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The last one was for Lindell. She is the only one that seems to enjoy cooking and has recently told me about some of the meals she has made. When she tried on her apron she smiled and said “I love that it has pockets!”

The other big project that I made as a gift was a afghan that I crocheted. This was one of those situations where you might think “everything happens for a reason” or as I prefer to think “God was working behind the scenes”.

I started crocheting this afghan around Thanksgiving time simply because I found a stitch pattern that I wanted to try. I really had no plan for what I was making or what I would do with it. I began with alternating rows of red and blue yarn but when I ran out of the blue yarn the piece was not really big enough to be anything. I went to my yarn stash and found that I had enough of the gray and green yarn to at least double the size of this project. When I finished the gray and green section the afghan would have been a good size for a child, but since I didn’t much care for the color pattern and I didn’t have any children in mind to give it too, I decided to add a third section to make it large enough for an adult. I again went to my yarn stash and found that I had enough black and orange yarn to make a third section.

It was about this time that my husband asked me who I was making it for. “I don’t know,” was my answer, but I began to think about what to do with it. I realized that in the past I have made blankets for all of my daughters except Tina, so I thought I would give it to her. I wasn’t sure if she would like the colors but I was sure she would like wrapping herself in it as she tends to be chilly a lot.

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It was two days before Christmas that we learned that we would be having an unexpected guest for Christmas. My father-in-law accepted my husbands invitation to join us for the day. That evening as I finished crocheting and began weaving in the ends I decided to give him the afghan.

Food and Family

Our guests would start arriving around noon so I spent most of Christmas morning in the kitchen preparing our meal. The turkey went into the oven at 8:00 am, then potatoes were peeled, celery and onions were sautéed for the stuffing and frosting was made then the cake was frosted. Meanwhile my husband vacuumed and tidied things up, started a fire in the fireplace and asked if there was anything he could do to help me.

Lindell and Brycen were the first to arrive, so I recruited Brycen to decorate the birthday cake for Jesus. Despite never having decorated a cake before he was eager to help. He completed this task with enthusiasm and I was grateful for the help. I didn’t get any pictures of the cake but I will say – Great job Brycen!

Other guests arrived shortly after. Another picture I didn’t get was Aunt Donna in her Christmas Tree tiara, but in the background of the picture below you can see the comfy-looking elf slippers she put on after removing her shoes. She brought two trays of mini cheese cakes announcing that one tray was made with amaretto. My first thought was “Oh, I’ll have to try that.” My second thought was “that explains the tiara”. LOL! I’m just kidding Aunt Donna doesn’t need to be under the influence of alcohol to do fun and crazy things.

Even before we ate we got Jackson and Addy busy opening gifts. I didn’t make anything for them this year, instead my husband and I spent a few hours perusing toy isles to pick out some gifts.

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Jackson

For Jackson, who has a mechanical mind and is always trying to figure out how things work, we bought this truck/racetrack set. The truck has a horn that blows and a key, that when turned, makes the sound of an engine starting and the headlights come on. It also came with race cars and tools to take the truck part. Once the truck is taken apart the race track is stored inside but we didn’t get it taken apart to see the race track while they were here.

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Addy

For Addy I picked out a stuffed kitty. I remembered how much she loved Peanut the cat when she met him at our Halloween party, and since her mom said I could not get her a real kitty a stuffed on would have to do.

By far the best gift we received was having the family all together. When the girls were growing up we spent so much time together and never realized how much we would miss each other when they went their separate ways. Nowadays though they keep in close contact through a “sister chat” having them all together happens but once or twice a year.

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The Sister Picture

I am not sure which one of them mentioned having a “sister photo” taken but when they were ready to pose I was ready with my camera. I snapped several photos and when I looked at this picture I wondered what they were all looking at to my left. Then I remembered that Brycen was standing next to me and after I took several photos he said. “now it’s my turn.” Apparently they all looked at him while I stole another photo.

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The Next Two Generations

I had the girls put on their aprons and pose again.

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Me and My Gang

Then I handed over my camera and joined the girls. After this picture was taken I said, “now that you are all dressed for doing dishes…” and we all had a good laugh. Actually by this time my husband had many of the dishes already washed up.

Having both of our fathers there was such a blessing. Just like with the girls, the time spent with my dad has become less as the years go by, and the time the girls get to spend with their grandfather is even more rare.  Isn’t it true that the more rare something is the more we value it? This was a day to cherish!

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My dad and My Father-In-Law

Having my Father-In-Law with us to celebrate was truely an amazing gift. This is the first time since we have been together that we have spent a Christmas with him, and I felt honored that at 86 years old he would make the two and a half hour drive from Ohio to celebrate this day with the family.

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It had been many years since he had seen the girls and this was the first time he met Jackson and Addy.

When I gave dad his Christmas gift he told me I didn’t have to give him anything. “I wanted to,” I replied. When he said he would open it later, I had to insist that he open it now. He was pleased when he realized that it was an afghan and said he would use it to cover up with in his easy chair. I could relate to this as I have an afghan, that my mom made for me about 30 years ago, that I use to cover up with when I kick back in my recliner for a nap. Dad also marveled that I had made the afghan and asked how long it took. As he was leaving our house to travel home he told me “I can’t wait to use it.” 🙂

Christmas 2019 was a blessed day. As we celebrated the gift of the Christ Child our home was fill with laughter and love.

If you have stayed with me to the end of this very wordy post I thank you, and we wish you many blessings in the New Year.

Did you have a Merry Christmas?

Sharing Christmas With You

Christmas 2019 was filled with blessings. Let me share some our Christmas with you.

Gifts

Gift giving,  especially buying lots of commercially made gifts, is not the focus of our Christmas.  If you read my previous post about homemade gifts you know that I have been working on making gifts since just after Thanksgiving. That certainly wasn’t too soon to start because I didn’t actually finish up until the afternoon of December 24th. Whew! That was cutting it close! and I didn’t even have time to bake any Christmas cookies this year.

This year since all of our daughters are living in their own homes or apartments I decided to crochet them each a doily. I have several doilies, that were made by my mother, grandmother and my husband’s grandmother, that I treasure. I have them on dressers, book cases, our entertainment center, and our dinning room table. I think they add a touch of class. I also think it is not something that my girls were going to buy for themselves.

As I mentioned I finished up the last one out of four on Christmas Eve and I only snapped a couple of quick photos as I was pressing them because I still had wrapping to do.

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The other thing I have been working on for at least as long is making candles. Actually making bees wax candles is something I have been trying to get right for quite a while now. Bees wax seems to be incredibly finicky and will not burn or melt properly if it does not have the right wick.

I spent the month doing candle trials with bees wax, bees wax blended with coconut oil, bees wax blended with tallow and some that were plain tallow and using different types and sizes of wicks that were recommended for bees wax candles. I was able to find a  few combinations that burned well, but in  no way have I mastered the art of making bees wax candles. (If I ever do I will blog about it.)

As gifts I gave votive candles in a candle holder with an inspirational message attached.

 

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The message was one of these two quotes:

Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

The Weather

Having a white Christmas here in Michigan is hit or miss. Last year on Christmas Eve we had a snow storm. We woke on Christmas morning to a world that was blanketed in the white fluffy stuff. It was picturesque. We had the “White Christmas” that everyone is said to “dream of”. The snow that fell made driving treacherous. I heard accounts from people who were out in it. They said driving took two to three times longer than normal to get where they were going. It also created a lot of work. My husband spent last Christmas morning plowing and shoveling snow – first at the farm, then bringing the tractor home to clear parking spots for our guests. He also did some plowing for (much grateful) neighbors along the way. As it drew closer to time for our guests to arrive I received phone calls from my aunt and one of my daughters who had started out and ran into blinding snow squalls. These hazardous driving conditions prompted their decisions to stay home and safe.

This year we celebrated Christmas without snow. It was a chilly day with temperatures hovering around the freezing point. The ground was brown, the trees barren, and the skies mostly gray, but we did not have the extra work involved in clearing snow and travel conditions were good for our guests. I was not at all disappointed that we did not have a white Christmas.

Food

I spent Christmas morning preparing our meal. The menu included a fresh fruit platter, cheeses and crackers, smoked salmon (my husband smoked it the night before) and olive mixtures for appetizers. The main meal was tossed salad, lasagna and garlic bread. For dessert we had pumpkin pie, (Aunt Donna’s) cheese cake and birthday cake (for Jesus). Not necessarily a traditional Christmas meal of turkey or ham but very much a hit with all of our guests.

Guests

On Christmas Eve we were extremely disappointed to learn that my Father-In-Law was not up to making the 2 1/2 hour trip to spend time with us on Christmas Day even though my husband was going to pick him up and bring him here. Thankfully everyone else we were expecting made it. Our guests included my Dad, Aunt Donna, all four of our girls and 2 sons-in-law and of course our two grandbabies 🙂

After we ate we gathered in the living room where we opened gifts, talked, laughed, played, shared memories and created special moments that have now become more precious memories.

One funny thing that sticks in my mind was Kara and Lindell shouting “CAMO CORN” in unison as they each realized at the exact same moment that the bucket of caramel covered popcorn that they had received as gifts was not called Caramel Corn. Nor was it Camel Corn as they thought they had heard someone else say. It was indeed called Camo Corn. LOL!!!

 

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There were precious moments spending time with our two little miracle grandbabies. Jackson who is now two and a half was born at just 26 weeks and spent his first 4 months of life outside the womb in a neonatal intensive care unit. He under went eye surgery before he ever came home from the hospital and when he came home he was still on oxygen and being tube fed. He had surgery to repair two hernia’s when he was about six months old and at this time the surgeon discovered that his appendix was tangled in the hernia, so he had his appendix removed at that time as well. It was only after that surgery that Jackson began eating better and gaining weight and was eventually weaned off the feeding tube.

Each time I spend time with this little guy I am awed by how far he has come after having such a rough start to life. Although Jackson has not yet begun to speak he is learning sign language. When they were here on Thanksgiving his dad was holding Jackson and  I threw him a kiss from across the room. His dad showed Jackson how to throw a kiss back to me. We each repeated the action several times. As I stopped and began having a conversation with someone else Jackson signed “more”. When his dad asked “more what?” Jackson leaned in and kissed his dad. Precious moments!

Jackson seems to have an innate curiosity about the world and how things work. He notices little things and studies things as if trying to figure them out. On Christmas we spent time looking at the Christmas lights that hang from our mantle. He would touch one and I would say the color, then he would touch another and I would say the color –  then I would say a color and he would look for a light that was that color. He also took an interest in some of the tree ornaments that were hanging at his eye level. Together we looked at them but learned not to pull on them.

When it was time to open presents Jackson started with a gift from Aunt Donna. He took the paper off the box and I removed the gift from the brown card board box. It was a set of 4 wooden puzzles. They were bound together in a plastic wrapper. When Jackson saw them his face lit up. His Mom prompted he to say “thank you” and he signed “thank you”. Then quickly signed “please” indicating that he wanted to play with the puzzles. My husband sliced open the plastic so we could get out one of the puzzles. Jackson removed all of the pieces from the puzzle then began picking up each piece and studying it, then fitting it back into it’s proper place. Later he and he dad spent time playing with the farm set (tractor, cow, horse, corral) that my husband and I picked out for him.

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His little sister Addy is now almost 14 months old. It was not Ken and Tina’s plan to have another baby while Jackson still needed so much attention, but God often has plans that differ from we humans. Addy’s entry into the world was much smoother than Jackson’s but only with the aid of much medical intervention. The special prenatal care Tina received allowed her to carry Addy to the date that the doctors had planned her C-section. While it was not a full-term pregnancy she was only a few weeks premature and her development has been normal.

On Christmas day I heard Addy say both “mama” and “dada”.  We will be working on “grandma” soon. LOL! While Addy spent some time playing with toys, her activities more so involved being on the move. She busied herself by quickly crawling in whatever direction she was facing. I wanted to give her the freedom to explore but not allow her to get into trouble in our non-baby proof house, so when she took off crawling I would follow along behind her on all 4’s. When she noticed that I was there she would stop long enough to turn and give me a “what the heck are you doing?” look. Then she would quickly be on her way. When she reached  a point where I felt she was getting close to trouble I would lift her up and turn her around. Each time I would pick her up she would loudly voice her objection (scream), but once set down she would be happily on her way.

Tina had brought along the sweater and hat that I had made for Addy’s birthday so I could get pictures of her wearing them. When we put the sweater on I was delighted to see that it was a perfect fit. Tina sat Addy on the beanbag and so we could get pictures. I then placed the hat on her head, but before anyone had time to snap a picture Addy had removed the hat. I thought the hat looked very cute on her but I have no proof because each of the several times I put it on her she immediately removed it before we could get a photo. Oh well – I decided I would at least like a photo of her standing up wearing the sweater. She is still wobbly on her feet unless she is supported so I held her up. As soon as her feet touched the ground it was like her legs became springs. She began bouncing up and down as fast as she could and continued bouncing for a good couple of minutes while I held her trying to get her to stand. This little girl’s antics had everyone in the room laughing and I never did get the picture I wanted. (I think her mom got it on video though.) I really don’t see a career in modeling in her future. LOL!!!

Though our time together lasted only a few hours it was a lovely day packed with Christmas blessings. I hope you enjoyed reading about it. ♥

 

 

Gangly and Awkward – Our Perfect Christmas Tree

It was sunny but cold Saturday when we went to the farm to cut our Christmas tree. Although having snow in the air and/or on the ground might have made the event more festive I was thankful for the ease of not having to trudge into the field though several inches of the white stuff. It was also nice that we did not have to clean up puddles of melted snow after setting up the tree in the living room.

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This is our third year of cutting a tree from our farm for a Christmas tree. When we bought the property in 2011 it had absolutely no evergreens growing on it. So in the spring of 2012 we bought 50 12-18 inch spruce seedlings (twigs) from our local Conservation District spring tree sale. When our trees arrived we had no idea where we were going to plant them all so we made a nursery area in our main garden. At least the trees were in soil and could grow there until we decided where their permanent home(s) would be. This also made it simple to care for them especially since it was a very dry summer and we spent much time watering.

By fall the twigs that we had planted had begun to take shape and turned into small trees. We then planted them along the north and east sides of the back field where we hoped they would eventually grow large enough to act as wind blocks and provide privacy. We have continued to nurture these trees, fencing them in the winter to protect against deer, mowing around them so they have not been choked out by weeds and watering them during extreme dry spells. Despite our best efforts we have lost some. Each year we order more seedlings to replace ones that we have lost and to increase the spruce evergreen population on the farm.

2016 was the first year we cut our own Christmas tree. Life had changed. The girls were no longer living at home. They had grown up and moved out. Some were married, some were in college, some were working and I had to accept that our days of the girls and I all getting together to put up a tree were over. It made me sad. Life had changed in another way. My husband who had always worked a job that took him away from home for weeks or months at a time and often missed the holidays with the family, was no longer working that job. He was home for the holidays. This made me happy. To help cheer me up he suggested we start something new – make Christmas ours – by cutting a Christmas tree that we had grown on our farm. I loved it.

I think it was in September this year when my husband pointed out the tree he thought we should cut and I agreed it was a good choice. It was a the right size since we set it up on the coffee table and it had a nice straight trunk. It’s not exactly picture perfect and probably not a tree I would have picked out had we gone to a place to purchase a tree. It has an awkward shape and the braches are gangly and reaching out in all directions, but I am delighted that this tree is a product of our farm.

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When we had the tree set up my husband helped me put the lights on the tree and the Angel on top, then I brought out my collection of Snow Angel ornaments to adorn the tree.

My Snow Angel ornaments are small angels each having a different pose and a tag attached that assigns them as a  different blessing. There are Blessing of Love, Blessing of Hope, Blessing of Generosity, Blessing of Playfulness… I have 36 of them in all.

When the girls lived at home and we decorated the tree together I would take out each Snow Angel, read the tag and assign it to a specific daughter to hang on the tree. They would read the tag out loud and everyone would talk and sometimes laugh about why I gave that particular ornament to that daughter. Sometimes it was a characteristic that I admired about that daughter and sometimes I thought that daughter may have needed more of that particular blessing. At times it was difficult to decide and the blessings were given out randomly. This activity was one we enjoyed year after year.

For the past two years, with the girls not being there to help decorate the tree, I had left the Snow Angels packed away but this year, I am not sure why, but I decided to bring them out.

As I hung the ornaments on those gangly braches that reached in all directions I noticed how easy it was for the ornament to hang freely, something I struggle with when decorating a “perfectly shaped” tree with nicely tapered branches. Thus increased my appreciation for this awkward looking tree.

The more I look at it the more beautiful it becomes. I see this tree as representative of our life. Much like this tree our family has grown and our lives have changed in the past 6 years. We have branched out in all different directions and each branch bears blessings. Yet like this tree each branch stems from and is supported by the same trunk. It binds us together. Our trunk is love – our trunk is Christ.

 

 

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Merry Christmas!

 

7 Years of Homemade Christmas Gifts

For several years now I have been making Christmas gifts and that is what I am spending a lot of time doing right now. I can’t tell you what I am making this year because it would ruin the surprise (my daughters do occasionally read my blog) but I thought I would tell you about some of the gifts I made in years past.

Making something for the girls (our daughters) has always been my first priority, but now that we have grandchildren and sons-in-law they are also recipients. The growing family is really challenging my creativity. 🙂 Since we have four girls I usually (but not always) make four gifts, the same – but different, for them.

My very talented sister K.C. inspires my sewing projects and is always on stand-by ready to counsel and console me when I call about sewing projects. Some of the things I have learned from her are:

  • Fleece and flannel are forgiving fabrics (I am thankful for this because if there is a “sewing sin” I will undoubtedly commit it.)
  • Use LOTS of pins.
  • Press seams.
  • When you get frustrated take a break and come back later.

My Mom is my inspiration when I crochet. She taught me the basics of crochet, but she was the one that always had crochet projects going for the whole family. She passed away in 2011 and now when I crochet I feel connected with her.

Some of the gifts were made before I started blogging and taking photos so there are no pictures to show but I will do my best to describe each.

 

Fleece Bath Robes – I think this was the first year I decided to make Christmas gifts for the girls. I had an old sewing machine that I decided to learn how to use. My husband saw me struggling and decided I needed a new sewing machine. At least this one came with directions – LOL.

This was a fun project because there are so many colors and patterns of fleece to choose from. The bath robe pattern that I selected was a simple wrap around with a tie closure, so I would not have to deal with buttons or zippers. I then selected a  different fleece for each of the girls.

Most of the girls were still living at home at this point which meant I had to schedule my sewing time when they were at school; it also meant that I got to see them wear their gifts often. 🙂

Flannel Pillow Cases – Notice I again choose a “forgiving” fabric to work with. The pillow cases were made with a solid color for the main part and a complimentary pattern for the trim.

Each girl or couple got a set of two pillow cases and I purchased new bed pillows for them as well.

Sister Shirts – This was one of my favorite projects and it involved neither sewing or crochet.

Here is a little background on sister shirts – I have 3 sisters, and like my parents, I have 4 daughters. When my sisters and I were growing up my parents, especially my dad, often got our names mixed up. One year when we were teenagers my sister J.B. and I (jokingly) decided to give dad a hand with that problem. We had t-shirts made for each of us. We each had a different color shirt. On the front it had our name, on the back it had the year we were born and our DD# (darling daughter #).

Several (more than 10) years ago I decided to have our shirts remade as sweat shirts this time (yes, Dad still gets us confused). I wear my “sister” shirt often, not necessarily for dad’s benefit, mostly because it is comfortable.

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One day one of my daughters, I can’t remember which one, said “we need sister shirts” and that got the wheels spinning. I had to come up with a “sister shirt” design for them. Even though I do have the “parent with too many kids to keep straight syndrome” I decided my girls needed something different. The girls are very close and I wanted to make something to express how they feel about their sisters.

At this point I was well into the DIY Christmas gifts so I had to figure out how to make them instead of having them made. I found printable iron on transfer paper at the craft store and purchased plain hooded sweatshirts for each of the girls. I found a picture of all four girls together and printed it as an iron on (4x). I also printed the words “SISTERS ROCK!” and ironed that message under the photo on the shirt.

I have seen each of the girls wear their shirt many times over the years and it always made me smile. 🙂

 

Slippers – This is a pattern very similar to the ones my mom used to make. Her pattern called for two strand of worsted weight yarn held together and she would usually use two different colors to give the slippers a variegated effect. I began using heavy weight yarns (only one strand required) to make these.

The year my mom passed away I made these for everyone – all of my daughters, sons-in laws, sisters, mother-in-law and even my husband now has a pair. I wear mine in the house throughout the cold seasons and like to keep a couple of pair made up incase I (or someone else get a hole) in one. 🙂 I will be making more as soon as I finish this years Christmas projects.

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Fingerless Gloves and Ear Warmers – This was the year I realized that all of the girls had smart phones and were spending lots of time swiping their phones for one reason or another. Fingerless gloves seemed a practical gift since they were probably swiping even when they were out in the cold.  I found this beautiful, free crochet pattern online.  http://www.beatriceryandesigns.com/2015/02/09/amazing-grace-fingerless-gloves-free-crochet-pattern/

I also made the matching ear warmers using the same stitch pattern.

Incidentally, when the girls were over for Thanksgiving, Kara mentioned that she lost her ear warmer. She said she wore it all the time and asked if I could make her a new one in the same color. I happened to have one (a different pattern but same color) already made up and she was wearing it when she left. It is a wonderful feeling when you know your gifts are used and appreciated. 🙂

Memory Quilts – This was a challenging but super fun project. The idea came to me after my youngest daughter, Lindell, moved out and I discovered that she had left behind all of her t-shirts from high school. When the girls were in school they had t-shirts from every activity that they participated in; homecoming shirts every year, sports shirts, band or choir shirts, drama club shirts, there was a whole stack of t-shirts that she hadn’t worn in a while an apparently didn’t plan on wearing again. They didn’t seem like the kind of thing you would want to donate to a charity since they wouldn’t hold any meaning for the person wearing them, yet they held too much meaning to my daughter to just throw them away.

While looking through the pile of shirts I discovered that there were two separate piles, one belonging to Kara and one belonging to Lindell. I decided to make them into keepsakes for the girls.

Below are the girls with their “High School” memory quilts. There are many online tutorials for these. Lindell’s (on the left) was made as a rag quilt with flannel  backing and Kara’s (on the right)was made with a fleece backing. Perhaps their smiles in the photo give you an idea how much the girls liked these blankets.

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T-shirt Bags – Last year I was in a quandary about what to make for the girls. I thought I would like to make them market bags or tote bags. It seemed like a practical gift that could be used for so many purposes. I looked at several crochet patterns but realistically I knew I did not have time to crochet 4 of them. I  started searching for other ideas and found this https://www.mommypotamus.com/no-sew-t-shirt-tote-bag-tutorial/. It was super simple.

I had used all of the girls t-shirts for their quilts the year before and I did not want to buy new shirts for this project, so I went to the Salvation Army resale shop. I was able to find shirts that matched each girls personality for only a couple dollars each. There is one for the Disney lover, one for the MSU fan, one for the musician and one for the girl who loves to visit the Aquarium. 🙂

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This was a quick easy project and I filled the bags with homemade treats – banana bread, honey or jam, and soaps and balms.

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I am not certain if the girls use these bags but I am sure that they enjoyed the contents of them. 🙂

I am certainly not a master crafter and I admit that some of my projects have flaws but there is much to love about homemade gifts

  • There may be a cost savings, though this is not necessarily the case.
  • I find joy in creating things and especially for those I love. (I rarely find joy in shopping.)
  • The gifts can be one of a kind and tailored specifically for the individual.
  • They are always made with Love or TLP as I like to call it – Tender Love and Prayer.

Thank you for reading. If you have ever thought about making Christmas gifts I hope you have found some inspiration here. If you are a crafter who makes Christmas gifts please tell me about your favorite project that you have made, I am always looking for new ideas.

God Bless.

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.