Advent activities: making ornaments

12 12 2011

We are well underway with our list of advent activities!  Frankly, I’ve not been super on top of things and instead of having the next day’s book and activity ready, I often find myself in the morning hastily wrapping up a book and trying to decide which activity fits into our schedule.  Last night we drove around to look at Christmas lights, which is something the kids really enjoy and is so easy compared to anything else. You just strap ‘em in and drive around, listening to Christmas music and their “oohs” and “aahs.”  If you are in the vicinity of West Henrietta, we went to see this house, and I thought it was impressive for an amateur display.  It’s not Disneyland, but it’s good to have a destination when you’re out looking at lights. 

Anyway, looking back on what I took pictures of so far, we have mostly been making decorations.  First there were the felt ornaments that I bought last year after Christmas on clearance and re-discovered on December 1st.  Score!  Fun and easy. 



Even LB wanted in on the glue-and-stick action.  For him, I put dabs of craft glue on the tree, and he stuck the “gems” on.  BB did the whole thing himself. 

Then one day we were going to make birdfeeders and I still hadn’t quite worked out the logistics of it, so I decided to do it by threading cereal onto yarn.  Educational, because LB is learning his colors, and good for developing fine motor skills.  I am deeply, deeply sorry to the birds and those who love them that we set out this kind of crap for them.  I don’t want my kids eating it either.  If it makes anything better, neither the birds nor the squirrels have recognized it as food, so it’s still hanging outside as a colorful garland.  Which is fine. 


And last but not least, we made salt dough ornaments.  Looking around the web, I found the recipe was consistently 1 part salt, 1 part water, 2 parts flour.  So we mixed:

  • 1/2 c. salt
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 c. flour

and this gave us a nice dough and a good quantity.  We made about a dozen ornaments.  It was a little sticky so I floured the surface we worked on.  We rolled out the dough pretty thin, maybe 1/8” to 1/4”, then cut out trees, gingerbread men, and circles.  I wanted to do a tree like this one on Pinterest only to find that it was a LIE.  If you click through, it is not made of salt dough, it’s ceramic, and all the other cool thumbprint things on Pinterest are made of clay, bronze, etc.  Well, let me tell you that salt dough does not take detailed impressions well.  We did some fingerprints but these are sort of cookie-ish and so they puff a little, thereby destroying the imprints.  By far the nicest ones, I thought, were the ones we stamped and then baked. 


Before baking, I used a straw to make a hole at the top for a ribbon.  Then, I baked them at 250F for about 2 hours, and I did flip them about halfway.  When they cooled, we painted them.  You can see in the middle my thumbprint tree; it sort of worked, but BB’s (yellow) print is bigger than my print (orange).  I painted the black cord, but I think a sharpie might have been a better idea.  I did a thumbprint reindeer too, with BB’s name and the year.  I don’t know if we’ll keep them, but it would be a cute keepsake.  He insists it’s a moose, though.   These are my 2 favorite:


Inspired by this pin, which is absolutely all over the place on Pinterest. 

And to think, we still have some more ornament crafts lined up!  BB says he thinks our tree is the most beautiful tree in the whole world.  I find that so sweet; proof that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, because in reality, it is a scrawny fake tree from Big Lots with very sparse decoration.  It is our own Charlie Brown tree, beautiful only because we love it. 

Buttercup Bag

9 12 2011

I finally tried out the free buttercup bag pattern over at Made by Rae!  It’s been on my to-try list for ages.  I actually don’t have much in the way of cute quilting cotton, but I’m thinking of making one (or a few) for Christmas gifts, so I had to make a practice one for myself, right?  Field test it a bit?  🙂



I bought a remnant of brocade on a whim years ago, and used suedecloth for the lining.  I have a ton of it from my diaper-making days.  It came together pretty quickly, and I think it looks super cute, but am I alone in thinking it needs some interfacing?  As written, it’s made with quilting cotton for the outer and inner, and even with the thicker fabrics I used, it’s very floppy.  But, you don’t notice it much while you’re holding it, just when you set it down. 

“But you already have a purse,” says my husband.  “Hahahahaha!”  I say.  Now I have 2. 

Wrapping with fabric

2 12 2011

Yesterday we unpacked all our Christmas decorations, and lo an behold, I had bought a bunch of stuff on clearance last year after Christmas that I had forgotten about completely!  Sadly, this included a gingerbread house, so we won’t be making our own this year, but truth be told, I’m not that heartbroken about it.  I have everything I need in a box!  Waiting in the laundry room!  It’s like an early Christmas present.  Anyway, I also had some fabric; last year I had this plan of making reusable gift bags that we could use to wrap gifts.  But today I had this even better idea, so simple, yet I haven’t seen it out there (I’m sure it is somewhere, but I haven’t come across it), so I’m sharing it here.  Instead of a bag, I made a square (well, it came out 20” x 21”, but it’s pretty close) of fabric with serged edges (No serger?  Hemming would work just fine.)  Then I scrounged up a ribbon to go with it. 


Now, I’m planning to do a book a day, and thankfully the order from Scholastic arrived yesterday, so we are set!  I feel like the wrapping is probably pretty self-explanatory but I put together some instructions so you can see how it works. 

2011 12 December

Basically, just put the book on the square (diagonally), fold in 2 sides, fold up the bottom and the top, tucking in any extra fabric.  Slip the ribbon underneath, center it, bring the sides up and twist in the center.  At this point, flip it over, then bring in the sides and tie a bow.  Done!  The ribbon holds the wrapping in place really well.  After today I will put out a new book under the tree every night, so that we can read it in the morning.  Better late than never, eh?

I think I will make a bunch of squares in different sizes for wrapping gifts this year.  I realize that this is more pricey than wrapping paper, but thinking of all the paper that’s thrown out on December 25th makes me cringe, so at least there will be a little less paper trash around here this year.  And, it’s possible that if they are used year after year, they will pay off in the long run  Now I’m not sure how Santa will wrap his gifts this year…

What?!? It’s December?!?

1 12 2011

Wow, where did that come from?  Didn’t school just start?  Well, I pulled a not-quite-all-nighter to make our advent activity list, like last year.  Here are our plans, subject to lots of rearrangement as needed:

Advent Activities:

1. Set up tree and decorate!

2. Make bird feeders

3. Holiday Party

4. Holidays at the market

5. Send Christmas cards

6. Candlelight night in Pittsford

7. Make felt ornaments for tree

8. Make gingerbread houses (day 1)

9. Decorate gingerbread houses

10. Make Christmas gifts for family

11. Decorate wrapping paper, send gifts

12. Christmas tree craft

13. Make ornaments from salt dough

14. Go for a winter hike

15. Make Christmas cookies, share with neighbors

16. Watch a Christmas movie together.

17. Make “snow” playdough, make little snowmen

18. Make bells, sing Jingle bells

19. Preschool Christmas party and visit to nursing home

20. Take silly pictures in santa hats

21. Go for a drive to see the lights

22. Play games and have hot cocoa

23. Go sledding

24. Christmas Eve service

25. Christmas!

I joined Pinterest and have started collecting activities and potential handmade gifts.  I love it!  (A little too much…)  Are you on Pinterest?

Turtleneck refashion

1 12 2011

This is an “easy project” that was about 3 months in the works.  Frankly the biggest obstacle to finishing it was that my sewing area was a total disaster; really, it was grim.  I avoided that mess entirely, which means I haven’t gotten much sewing done.  But look out world, I cleaned up that mess and I have a dozen UFOs (UnFinished Objects, for the uninitiated) that are gonna get done!

Anyway, I had looked around for ideas for a turtleneck refashion but not found anything I really liked, so I just did whatever.  I wish I had a before picture, but really, it was just like this but with a turtleneck on it, so it’s not hard to imagine.  The finished shirt:


I goofed the neckline the first time around so I had to pick out the whole durn thing.  Once I restarted, it was finished very quickly.  Essentially, I just cut off the whole neck, seam included, then cut open the ribbing.  I had to join 2 pieces to fit the new, larger, less choke-y opening, so there are 2 seams on the back instead of just one, but if anyone notices that they are way too far into my personal space anyway.  Then for fun I added the flowers (or barnacles, as my dear husband called them) using this tutorial on presserfoot.  I didn’t go as big as she did because I didn’t have the same color and I thought it would be a bit much.  I love it, despite some continued mistakes in the neck (which I am NOT picking out again, if anyone sees the inside of the neckline they are WAY too in my space, thankyouverymuch).  It will never be as cool as the J Crew shirt it was styled after, but I think it’s a little better than the St. John’s Bay it started out as.  If anyone is interested I could make a tutorial; I have some more turtlenecks that I might need to transform now that I know it can be done.  Thanks for visiting!