Handmade holiday beads

I didn't do as much of a handmade holiday as I wanted to. In fact, I made fewer gifts this year than I have in the past, unless you count printing my photos!

I did make these beaded keychains for my four boys using up hand-me-down beads . I bought the drum charm (on the bottom) from Etsy for my oldest. It is from the US Bicentennial. The two red charms have knights' helmets. I got them for pennies at a garage sale.

The second one from the top is for my youngest. I received a string of beads from a friend a few years ago. It was supposed to be hung to entertain cats. Since we have no cats, I looped it together like a necklace.

My youngest loved to hold onto it while nursing or sitting in his stroller, fingering each unique bead. It broke apart over the summer so I reused some of them, including a bell at one end and a kitty bead at the other.

The boys have hung them from their backpacks. I won't win any awards, especially for how I finished off the ends of the wire that hold the beads together, but the fact that they like them is enough for me.


You can never read enough blogs

Get inspired by Penny's pretty sewing and knitting projects at sewtakeahike. She even provides tutorials!

Rock-Paper-Scissors writes about things close to my heart -- food allergies, vintage lovies and toys, thrifting, crafting and teddies. She's also a published children's book illustrator.

Mama Said Sew shares her craftability (is that a word?) in many ways -- sewing (of course), baking, thrifting, swapping, and most importantly in the posts about her little guy Nathan.

The family at Rainbow Cottage seems a bit like my inlaws, when I first joined the family. The age range is about right.

I find links to The Old Painted Cottage all over the blogosphere. Beautiful!

I first read about Musings of a Southern Girl at Heart and her projects on Wardrobe Refashion.

Jo at Bits and Pieces found me first. And I'm very glad she did. I like reading a grandma's perspective.

How about orange... brings me back to my graphic design roots.

The Helpful Homemaker is another mom of four boys. Enough said!

One half of DDco Design is a friend of a friend. I even have some of her work. It is nice to see the large-scale things they make from recycled and reclaimed materials.

More creativity

While my younger boys were creating with oranges, my oldest was working on a larger scale. See what he's been doing with old bikes over here.

Oh my darling...

...Oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine. And Clem and Tina. They don't really have names but this is what resulted from a sudden burst of creativity yesterday.

Dad got the silicone cupcake forms for Christmas only because I found them on clearance and had heard they are great to bake with. He thought I was crazy, lol.

They've been played with, used as bowls and now for assemblage art. Little guy was eating cheese out of one, then the boys realized they were a perfect fit for the Clementines on the table.

Time to bring out the googly eyes and glue.

And why not add clothespins and acorn tops, since they were still in the container with the googly eyes from the last time we used them.

Markers for facial features and there you have an orange trio.


Post-holiday clean-up begins

My boys thought it would be fun to stack the gifts on Christmas Eve. This is probably the neatest the living room has looked in 48 hours.

Boxes make a good napping spot for elves too.

Believe it or not, I didn't take too many photos on Christmas morning. Shocking, isn't it? That little toy above is why. I spent most of the morning putting vacation photos into my new digital picture frame.

Isn't it great when art supplies are more fun than bigger gifts, like bikes?


The first few days of Christmas celebration

Amazingly enough, it is Christmas Eve and I have a few minutes now to myself. Everything is wrapped' baked or otherwise prepared for tomorrow. And it is Boys' Night in our house. My husband's only brother is here doting on the boys, and vice versa.

I'm going to share a few photos from the last few days and then retire to my room -- alone!!! It is the best present in the world!

This is Noelle, a little Christmas gift a friend got a week early. She's a snuggler, but our dog Alice didn't like her so much.

The little one didn't mind seeing Santa at dh's Christmas party. It was the 5yo who was less than cooperative. See the scowl?

We all went to church together yesterday. (The older boys usually go with Dad while I stay home with the little one. He's Catholic. I'm not.)

The oldest two were a wise man and shepherd in the Nativity pageant. The 5yo was being less than cooperative about that too, lol.

I had to pause and take pictures of the decorations, of course.

Then it was on to a possible new tradition for my side of the family -- Christmas bowling -- followed by food and gifts at my sister's house.

I finished the day with some last-minute gifts. Printed labels for packaged seeds from our garden and ribbons for the dog biscuits we baked a few days ago.

And finally, printing pictures for a frame I got for Christmas last year.

Good night all. See you after Santa visits.


Merry Christmas!

I could blame my inability to get our Christmas cards out by now on the fact that there was a photo printing goof up, but honestly, I could've gotten them all written, stamped and mailed by now. I just chose not to.

My goal is to get them out by New Years Day. With such a lengthy deadline, I know I'll get them done in time. Without feeling nearly as much pressure or stress.

So, family and friends who usually get a card from us, here is a preview:

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you all.



White Christmas?

Well, I thought we were going to have a white Christmas. Now, I hear we're going to get mostly rain tomorrow. I'll just look at my pictures from this past week and pretend.

See more photos here.


Keeping 'em busy

Vacation started today. And while my boys are pretty creative and self-sufficient (as demonstrated by Rudolph and Santa above), I've been looking for things to keep them busy. I've had to go no further than my blog roll on the right.

I actually meant to share this link to Jenny at Allsorts' virtual gingerbread house decorating when I posted about our gingerbread house. You can also dress Zoe for Christmas.

You can print out Angry Chicken's free gift tags or follow Calamity Kim's link to Mr. and Mrs. Claus paper dolls on Flickr.

I wish I knew about this one earlier in the month. Bella Dia is sharing a book and corresponding craft project for every day of Advent.

If you need a last-minute gift for a wee one, follow Heather Bailey's directions for making Bitty Booties.

One of the first things I do when the Christmas boxes get moved upstairs is reread last year's cards and then cut them up for the kids to make their own cards. This year instead, we will make a collage like the one at Old Red Barn Co.

You and your kids can make their own gift bags with Dawn's easy tutorial.

turkey feathers' kids sound like mine. One reminded her to take a photo for her blog as she cut into her Creamy Chocolate Silk Pie. Good thing. She decided to share the recipe too.

I'm signing off now. We're ending day one of vacation with a bit of hot cocoa and our stack of Christmas books.


Building a house

I took the easy way out. I bought my boys a cheap gingerbread house kit instead of making one from scratch.

To be honest, I've never actually baked a gingerbread house. I thought a kit was a good first introductory step. (We' did make little ones out of graham crackers with cousins one Christmas. Now that was taking the easy way out, lol.)

The instructions (replete with typos, BTW) said to decorate the walls and roof before they were assembled. It was supposed to be easier. As it was, I had to pipe the icing where the boys and their friend wanted it. They basically globbed on the icing willy-nilly.

What candy they didn't eat, went on the house. I'm not sure if it falls under "you get what you pay for" but the candy was quite stale. They broke one of the walls taking it out of the box, so the interior needed a bit of support. We also forgot to let the decorating icing harden before attempting to assemble it and needed to go back with reinforcing.

Same thing happened when we tried to out the roof on before the sides had the chance to dry. That broken wall was my downfall, I tell ya. It would've been so much more structurally sound if that hadn't been damaged.

A few hours later, the icing and candy were used up and we had a completely decorated -- and dried -- house. I think it lasted a few more hours before they decided to eat the gingerbread men.

Natalie uses a to glue gun for assembling her gingerbread houses. I'm thinking that is a good idea for next year. Less chance of pieces being lost due to improper drying techniques and little fingers. The gingerbread man might not lose his eyes next time.


Have a flocked Christmas

When we were "snowed in" on Sunday, we relented and let the boys decorate the tree by themselves.

It's decidedly un-Martha-like and sparse. Perfect for the little 5-1/2-feet-tall tree they picked out the day before anyway.

I don't think they wanted to bother with carrying all the boxes upstairs and quickly got sidetracked playing with the two different train loops they put under the tree.

I was pleasantly surprise that they took my new collection of vintage plastic and flocked Santas from my work room and put them on the tree along with some of their handmade ornaments, gold glass balls, candy canes, a stuffed moose, one strand of lights and a roll of duct tape (don't ask).

They don't really go together but I thought it was cute that the Mrs. looks like she's puckering up to plant a big kiss on the Mr.

Another Mrs. Claus.

And another Santa.

I don't know why Dopey was hung upside down by his wrist and I didn't dare ask.

This is probably the last time these guys will be hung on a tree. I have some crafty little ideas for them for next year.


Knitting bag

What started out as this...

...turned into this.

It is an over-sized and sturdy knitting bag and is the first new thing I created for Collage . It is up for sale at noon today.

The green quilted fabric was once a vest, the red handles were cut from a scarf and the florals and the calendar on the interior side panels were cut from the linen tea towel shown above. The trims were all thrifted and the solid red and green gingham fabrics are new.

I sewed in 3 rows of varying-width pockets for knitting needles and other paraphernalia.

And on the other side, I put in a large pocket for patterns or other things that need to be kept separate from yarn.

It was a fun challenge to figure out how to put everything together. I have another dozen tea towels to use in similar bags. I can't wait until I have time to make them.

UPDATE: It sold!!! Thank you so much Missy.

We've been elfed!!!

OMG! This is just too funny. Better than sending out Christmas cards. Easier too!

See the results here.