Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Christmas Countdown - Advent Ideas

So what's going to go in all those lovely Advent Jars?? I'd like it to be a mix of fun stuff and service related things. Cheri over at I am Momma - Hear me Roar posted a fabulous list of good deeds to fill her calendar. Some of the ones from her list we will use are:

- Find the home with the best Christmas lights and take them a thank you note with a treat.
- Take Doggy treats to someone who has a dog.
- Put money in the Salvation army cup.
- Leave kind notes for Daddy all over the house.
- Call an aunt and tell her you love her.

and a few more I came up with!

- sing a Christmas song on video to send to friends
- make Christmas goodies for Daddy's office
- buy and deliver food to a local food pantry
- put quarters in the carts at Aldi
- swap cookies with our friends.
- bring Christmas cookies to the neighbors.
- make a Christmas gift for a special friend.
- make Christmas cards for your teacher.

In the middle of December, the husband has to go out town for a work trip for four nights. During that time I want the kids to have some fun things to do each day. Like:

- Paint everybody's toenails in Christmas colors.
- Have a picnic for dinner.
- Go out to look at Christmas lights after dark
- Roast marshmallows in the fireplace
- make snowflakes to hang on the windows
- make a Christmas ornament
- have a Christmas music dance party
- make our own Nativity pictures
- get doughnuts in our jammies for breakfast
- have a Christmas tea party
- take a trip to Bethlehem (this a special event at our church)
- read our favorite Christmas story
- make a birthday cake for Jesus

There you are, 25 things to do this holiday season to prepare for Jesus' birthday! I can't wait till tomorrow!!

Advent Jars

It's advent. It means coming. The time is coming to celebrate Jesus's birthday! Tomorrow is the first day of December and I will be finishing this up this afternoon. I wanted to show it to you unfinished in case you haven't come up with an Christmas countdown for your kids.

In the past we have had one of those punch out the doors, chocolate, paper calendars. Fun, but it's all about the Chocolate. I wanted something this year that was about more than that. I wanted room for a little treat but also for a gift or two, and a slip of paper with a fun activity or a service we could do for someone else. I have two kids, I need lots of room. I also wanted it to be big enough that the kids could see the numbers.

I would have like to sew something but my machine is on the fritz. So, I started digging around in the basement and found a box of jars. Then I cleaned out the fridge and the cupboards and found a few more. Then I made spaghetti so I had 25 jars! I think you could also use baby food jars, tin cans wrapped in paper, drinking glasses??

 I wanted my jars to have some color so I filled each one with a strip of scrapbook paper. No glue or anything, just slid it in each jar. My jars were different sizes so I laid my jars on the paper and made a mark to determine how long they needed to be. You may need to adjust some since a few jars angled in at the top and such.

See, slid them right in.

And then the tags. Oh the tags. I'd have loved to have a Silhouette and cut out some awesome vinyl letters to slap on my jars. Or a Cricut to make some awesome tags. Alas, I do not so I came up with some tags in Publisher and printed on scrapbook paper and cut with a plain old scissors and punched with a plain old paper punch.

Tied on the tags with some red & gold ribbon and put them on the mantel. Mine aren't quite done because I ran out of gold ribbon! Back to the store today!

I also be back later this afternoon with some ideas of what will be filling our jars!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Glass Ornament

So I have this tree. It's a little tree. A Christmas Tree. And it needs some help. It used to have lots of decorations on it. It was all decked out with tiny gold balls and glow in the dark angles when I brought it to my brother in laws hospital room sever years ago when he was battling cancer over Christmas. It lost a few when I transported it to my office at work for a couple years. It lost even more when I moved it across several states. And even more after the kids discovered it!!

Anyway, it needs some new ornaments. Small ones. It's a tiny tree. We are just reaching the time of year here in Missouri where I'd rather spend my afternoons indoors than outdoors which means Sweet Pea is bored. Making these mini glass "marble" ornaments was our craft project yesterday afternoon.

We started with some of those glass marbles. You know the kind you get in the floral department. The kind that all sorts of people have made fridge magnets out of. These are similar but a bit bigger. We got them at the dollar store last week. We also dug into the giant pack of scrapbook paper I picked up for an advent project (coming soon) and some E600 glue.

 Yes, those ovals of paper are rough. Sweet Pea traced and cut them. She LOVES scissors. So yeah, these ornaments aren't perfect but we love them.
 We put a little glue on the back of the glass. We used E600 because it dries transparent and is good for lots of surfaces.
 Then we pressed our circle of scrapbook paper to the back and watch the glue slide and the little air bubbles slide to the sides.
And we added a bit of ribbon.
And another circle of scrapbook paper.

We let them dry face up over night and hung them on our mini tree this morning!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

K for Christmas

This post is coming to you courtesy of my iPhone. I apologize for the less than stellar photos and any other strange issues that may occur.

Jojo & I whipped up this piece of holiday decor shortly after one of his 5am wake ups last week. The camera was up in the bedroom with Sweet Pea & the hubs & I didn't want to wake them. I once again started with a piece of my trusty corrugated plastic sign. This time I cut out a giant "k" for our last name.

I wanted to wrap this baby in greenery for the frot door but it looked really bad - craft fail!! So, we moved on to wrapping paper.

We wrapped it up just like you would a present. We held the paper to the back with hot glue.
The insides of the K were a bit tricky.

I'm a bad mom & let my toddler play with scissors. It was 5:30 am.

When it was all wrapped up I thought it needed a little something. So we glued on a couple of Christmas ornaments & a bow.

And some ribbon to the top for hanging.

And hung it up. I'm not sure I love it. Any thoughts??

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 26, 2010

No crafts today.

No crafts today. Too busy doing this with my two youngest sisters. Yup, two weddings next summer!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

My belly is full. Really full. My brain is really full too. I have countless blessings to give thanks for and yet I still am celebrating with a mixed feelings. I am thrilled to be in Iowa with my family for the first time in ten years, but being here means that we are not in Wisconsin with my husbands family to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am thrilled that two of my sisters are here with us, but sad that my other sister and her husband celebrated by themselves in New York. Although an hour worth of skyping made them not seem so far away. I am happy that I am in wonderful health & that my children are too, but concerned that my husband is not and has to have surgery next week. So yeah, a full brain on Thanksgiving. I am doing my best to focus on the blessings and hope that you are too, despite all the things that may be weighing on your brain today. And since Elizabeth over at Twelve Crafts  just posted a list of 5 blessings for the day, I shall do the same.

- My husband, he works REALLY hard and lots of hours so that I can stay home with our kids.
- The great and wonderful Sweet Pea and Jojo. The make me laugh, they make me cry and I can't believe I made them.  And since I'm thinking of it, how does one explain what "romantic" means to a four year old??
- my family. My mom & dad & my sisters and their men. I love that we are close. I love that my baby sister lived with me for three months this year. Special times.
- my health. I don't post about it here but I am a bit of a gym rat. I enjoy the hour each day I spend in exercise classes, spinning or on the treadmill. It gives me time to think and restores my sanity.
- friends, yup. They have helped keep me sane too. Friends for my kids, support for me when I needed it. New ones reading this blog. Yeah friends.

With that said, how about something exciting!! Today is my guest post over at Twelve Crafts Till Christmas. It's all about the food traditions my family has at Christmas. Go there and read and then be sure to come back later this week to see the recipe for Stained Glass Window salad! (I'd post it tonight but I'm on my mom's computer and the photos are at home!) So enjoy and be sure to scroll down and read all the other great posts on holiday traditions!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

For the Birds

So you all already know we feed the birds here right?? If not, check out the birdfeeders we made a couple of weeks ago. They are pretty popular with the chickadees and we have seen cardinals, junco, nuthatch, bluejay, finches, doves and two different kinds of woodpeckers so far! Lots of fun for the kids. So, I figured, let's do another project for the birds so we made up one of Under the Table and Dreaming's birdseed wreaths. It's made by mixing two packs of unflavored gelatin, a cup of water and two cups of birdseed!  Easy and cute! We added a few cranberries to ours that were still in the freezer from last year to add a little color!

And now a note:  I don't know if it's not quite cold enough here for this due to the fact that it's made of gelatin or if one of the nasty squirrels in our neighborhood tried to jump on our wreath, but it was down when we got home from the YMCA today. So sad. I set the chucks up on the deck rail and a big chunk in the suet feeder so the birds can still enjoy it! I will be trying this one again for sure!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cranberry Fluff

So you still need an idea for a side to bring to Thanksgiving dinner, right?? Okay, maybe not, but you should still try this. It's been a staple at my mom's Thanksgiving table for as long as I can recall and was at my Grandma's before that. Nine years ago when I started celebrating Thanksgiving with my husband's family instead of my own, it became my contribution. In my opinion, it's the perfect combination of sweet and tart and it must be good because my kids were sneaking it by the handful out of the fridge last night. Enjoy it for Thanksgiving, or anytime of year.

Cranberry Fluff
2 cups frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 container of cool whip

Start with your cranberries. Put them in the freezer overnight.

Throw your cranberries in the food processor and grind them up. I think a blender would also work and I know that an old fashioned meat grinder will work. (Don't ask about the meat grinder)
Add one cup of sugar, stir and let stand for at least two hours.
This is what it will look like. The cranberries mix with the sugar and get sweet and juicy.
Next you will mix in one cup of crushed pineapple & one cup of mini marshmallows. The original recipe says to let this sit over night but I just stir them in and add the cool whip and get this. Actually much more than this but before I could take a photo I sampled it, the kids sampled it, the next door neighbor sampled it, we all sampled it some more.
I feel like a bit of a cheater for making this early but I wanted to share it here. And, I don't have to make it for my husband's family since we aren't making the trek to northern Wisconsin this year. Hopefully, I'll be eating my mom's version of this recipe!

Also, if you wish, you can serve this frozen or add nuts.

Cranberry Fluff
2 cups frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 container of cool whip

Grate cranberries (I use a mini food processor) and mix with sugar. Let stand 2 hours. Add pineapple & marshmallows and refrigerate overnight. Add cool whip before serving. You may need to drain off some of the "juice" before mixing in the cool whip to keep it from being too soupy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mini Felt Wreaths - Pint Sized Project

So after making the wreath out of pants, Sweet Pea really wanted to make her own wreath. She loves it when I display her art work and I figured we could use something new to replace a few of the items I tossed from last Christmas. (Yes, I toss my children's art work. Sweet Pea produces about 20 pieces a day. I can't keep it all! )  I did some digging through my scrap fabric and found some green felt, and cut out more circle from my trusty corrugated plastic signs!

Our circles were about ten inches I think. I traced a mixing bowl for the outside and a yogurt cup for the inside circle.
We cut the green felt in to strips and fired up the glue gun. I started by putting down a dab of glue and having the kids stick down the felt. Then they wrapped it tightly around the circle.
Okay, so Jojo didn't really wrap his. He mostly picked at the hot glue.
This is what it looked like when we had it all wrapped up. I did put a few dots of glue here and there under the felt to hold it in place. Next we cut some circles out of red & white felt. They were about four inches across I think. I eyeballed these so they aren't really very round.
Fold your circle in half and then in half again.
I put down a generous circle of glue and Sweet Pea pressed her flower into it. From the top to avoid burned, gluey fingers!
Then we glued down a couple more felt flowers, added a strip of felt for hanging and called it good!  I hung these in the windows in our breakfast area by pulling the top window down, tucking the felt strip in, and shutting the window.