Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ribbon Trees

Starting to put up Christmas decorations and came across these two trees I made last year.

Brian was deployed in Afghanistan (again) so I decided AJ and I were going to do what we normally would do and spend Christmas with our best friends. Oh, except they were no longer on base, 20 minutes away, but in Texas! So 12 hours of driving with the kid and the dog and we were back home with our friends. I had taken a picture of a tree very similar to this that my bible study teacher had and thankfully my girls were ready to give it a go with me!! A quick shopping trip later and we are up to our eyeballs in ribbon and pins.

We chose non-traditional colors which makes them look like they belong in Whoville. The cones were more expensive than we thought, who knew Styrofoam shapes cost so much - plan to use a coupon! The ribbon on the bottom needs to be wider or plan to use more of it. Start at the bottom, figure out how you want your loop to look and use that to measure the rest of the ribbon cuts. Only cut as much as you think you'll need, otherwise you'll have tons of little pieces of ribbon leftover. I think next time I would probably have some glue ready and dip the small pin in glue before tacking it down, but it seems to be holding up so far. Overlap the next row of loops so they cover the pins. The snowflake on top is glued in with some green glitter glue to finish off the top. Cute!! Now I want to do a button one ....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Just a few things...

Well, now that Thanksgiving is over I have a little time to post a few things that I've been working on.

The very first thing I'll share is my super secret recipe that everyone raved about this last week. I made turtles for AJ's class and also to take to Thanksgiving at our friend's house. It's one of those recipes that isn't even a recipe because it is just THAT easy, but they taste oh-so-good!!

First buy a bag of pretzels, I like the ones called Snaps, they are a little square grid shape and perfect for this. Next, buy a bag of Rolos (or three actually!) If anyone out there knows the manufacture personally, please let them know of a need for these to come bagged but NOT individually wrapped. Until that time, you'll have to unwrap each little golden treasure. Layer like so:
Parchment paper makes this so much easier and less messy. I also did aluminum foil and it worked, but they stuck a bit and were harder to pry up. Top each of these with a pecan half and place in the oven at 300 degrees for 5 minutes.
Once the chocolate is melty and the caramel soft, press down on the warm nut to squish it all together. WA-LA - very addictive little bites.

The next thing I'd been working on is a pennant banner. My friend wanted to make one since she hosts Thanksgiving at her house each year, so I ordered the same paper packet and made one with her. I must say it turned out very cute!!

Here are a few close ups:

We've also been working on a few tags for a swap. I signed up for three spots hoping to coerce my friend into her first swap and it worked! We had to make 10 tags each. The first one is the ones my friend did, they are soooo cute! Love the little snowman.
These next two are the ones I did, I love the colors of the tree one!

Well, that's it for my creativity right now... next in my future is decorating for Christmas! My husband thinks I need to purge a bit.... what do you think??

Friday, November 18, 2011

Through the looking glass

I love glass. I love that it can be recycled.... but it never seems to make it to my recycle bin.

My favorite are fancy vases and mason jars, but in a pinch any glass will do. I have glass all over my kitchen and try to put as much into glass as I can get away with. Thankfully, AJ is a little older now and it isn't such a problem as it used to be. I love finding new ways to re-purpose glass and make it decorative.

These are areas in my kitchen where I've got glass hanging out:

So, yea. I like glass. Here are two sets of the same glass jars that were ready for the recycle bin. Instead I played around. I made this set for a friend for a Thanksgiving swap, this is her picture since it turned out so much better than mine did:

I painted each jar in a different fall color (cheap acrylic craft store paint and a sponge brush) 2 coats and then painted over them again with mod podge - glossy. I used the same mod podge to add some scrapbooking paper backgrounds and then glued on black buttons to spell out T H A N K S. I was thinking they would look good with bare branches, wheat stalks or yellow mums. :0) Oh and they are from left to right - starbucks frap, sliced green deli peppers, salsa, cheez-whiz, cream soda, and starbucks frap.

I was on pinterest and saw some wrapped jars and made these:
They take a little more patience than the paint did. I used double sided tape to hold everything down while I was working and went back over the ends with glue to tack it down. I was thinking of using the black buttons again and this time spelling out W A R M T H . What do you think?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's that time of year again!

I love Autumn! I love everything about it, even though here in AZ we really don't get that whole "leaves changing colors" thing. Mostly, the weather finally cools down to a more reasonable daytime temperature. I love this time because it highlights some of my favorite things - the colors of fall, soups and fresh bread, pumpkin in anything!, and everyone getting excited for the holidays. One of my favorite things is when I start to plan our family traditions of giving.

There are so many ways to give and show our appreciation for all that God has blessed us with. I always end the season feeling good about what we did, but wishing it could have been more. So, I am hoping to find even more ways this year to bring that Thankful giving spirit into our family. Please let me know what you all do with your families in the spirit of giving. Below are the things we typically do each year, I hope one or two of them are new to you and things you can begin to incorporate into your traditions!

  • Starting now, when the sales start up for cooking and baking, I try to buy extra of any staples that go on sale to donate to the food banks. There are tons of opportunities to donate these items and we try to make sure to do any we come across: our school, cub scouts, as admission to events, at church, etc. Look around, there is a box somewhere you go that is waiting to be filled up!

  • Pay your kids their allowance in change or $1 bills and have them keep it in the car, then they always are able to put something in the buckets for the Salvation Army. We like to listen for the bell and see how many we can find in a single day running errands, let them put the money in and remind them to say "Merry Christmas"! 

  • Compassion International. We have a sponsor son in Bolivia who is only one month older than AJ. We have been sponsoring him since the boys were 4 years old and we always try to do a little extra around Christmas and his Birthday.

  • Kiva.org is a wonderful site where you can loan a little money which is combined with others to make a larger interest free loan to someone who is trying to improve their life. I've just made my forth loan and love to get the updates on repayments so I can pray for the person/organization. It's amazing, check it out!

  • Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse. If you have never filled a shoe box for this organization then you are missing a great opportunity! Each year we fill two shoe boxes, one for a boy and one for a girl of AJ's age. He loves shopping for the boy, but I think it's great for him to also have to consider what would make a little girl happy. (Never too early to get guys thinking about making us happy!!) Now, it's even more fun because you can print tracking labels for your boxes and find out what country they are being sent to. We have also received precious thank you letters back from kids that have received our boxes. Collections are going on now, so get on this one quick!

  • Our church has an Angel Tree ministry and we pick an ornament to buy a present for a child who has a parent that is currently incarcerated.

  • AJ's school also has gives us an opportunity to purchase presents for struggling families in our community. We love looking over the wish lists and then finding kids that have the same likes and interests as AJ. Although, last year he surprised me by wanting to chose ornaments for kids that were much younger than he was, he had a great time shopping for them and remembering what he used to like to play with when he was little. :0)

  • Santa's Sack is a favorite tradition started when AJ was 3 years old. That was the first Christmas in our house and Santa left his beautiful velvet bag behind with a note. Santa explained that when he comes back next year he would be happy to collect any toys that AJ no longer plays with or that are a little broken. He would take them with him and fix everything up brand new to have even more toys for those children who might not have as many toys as AJ. So now a few weeks before Christmas we start cleaning in AJ's room and he go through his toys, books and puzzles to fill up Santa's Sack. Once it is filled it is placed right next to the milk, cookies and carrots. The next morning the cookies are just crumbs and the sack is empty and ready to be packed away for next year. (Be sure to have a black trash bag available to move the toys to until they can be donated!)

I'm sure there are many more things that I just can't think of at the moment, I may add comments as more things come to me. Please let me know what are your favorite ways to donate time/money/talents!  I just feel that to avoid the post holiday let-downs I need to remember to do four things: stick to my budget and don't overspend, spend as much time with my loved ones (friends and family) as I can, give from my heart as generously as I can, and honor the meaning of the season and my Savior in all that I do.