Words To Live By:

"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you finish the work."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Check This Out!

I've been channeling my creative energy and actually getting stuff done!  (I've also decided without a shadow of a doubt that next year I need to get my holiday move on waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay in advance.  I'm feelin' the pressure with a number of countdowns on the go - and all less than the 2 weeks away!)

On Tuesday, we went to Montana's to celebrate my parents' 30th anniversary (whoa, I just accidently typed 50 - seriously overdating them!) as well as my sister's 25th birthday.  Big family dinner with all 13.5 of us - I'm sure the other restaurant patrons were happy when we called it a night - especially after Kaleb played paparazzi with Auntie B's camera and focused on tables besides ours.

Here are some of the photos of the card I made for Mom & Dad (sorry, I can't remember the name of the paper pack - it's upstairs in the craft room and tonight I'm too lazy to go find out for you!)

I was so excited about the sophisticated silver theme... until I realised silver is for the 25th!  Whoops.  Still a pretty card and I really think the gift card pocket was a nifty little add-on.

Here is another project I've worked on (for details on my inspiration, check out my previous post!)

I picked up the blocks at Michaels the other day (25% off because of the fantastic US Thanksgiving sales.)  I would've preferred larger blocks but they were slim pickings!  I think these were an inch and a half or maybe even 2 - can't quite remember.  The paper is from a pad I picked up last year post-Christmas from Walmart.  The boys have already started using them and it has alleviated many of the repetitive and annoying "How long til Christmas?" types of questions!

Here is my final completed project of the week (BIG BIG DISCLAIMER:  if you are my brother and sister-in-law, please read no further!  You only have to wait until Saturday before the reveal!!!)

I 'created' these for my nephew, Hawksley, who was a year old in July.  Wasn't sure what to get for Christmas and wanted to stick to something heartfelt and homemade.  He'll still get something fun to open but this is his 'big' gift.  I talked to Krystel the other day and she said he could use stuff for his room - that made me think that I could easy pull off something like this - I'm just hoping they're done in the right colour scheme.

The first picture shows how I was going to originally keep them but I'm an embellishment kind of girl so the second picture shows the end result after I dug through my stash!  I got the wooden letters at Michael's and painted them with acrylic paint.  The papers are WeRMemory Keepers (Precious Metals - Coppered Out kit from Winners or HomeSense once upon a time.)  Buttons (Latte), ribbon (Double Stitch Grosgrain in Chocolate Chip) and brad (Designer Circle) are from Stampin' Up (thanks to Karey Jeans @ Creative Craft Corner for my recent order!)  The rub-on phrases were from a pack I picked up at the Sandylion outlet last year.  I sanded the papers, modpodged it all and then gave it a UV gloss sealant.  I think the letters turned out pretty well - and my boys loved them so much they've requested I make initial hangers for their room. 

Countdown takeout boxes?  Yeah... don't ask... they're a runaway train - or maybe more like a car that ran out of gas (in that I was all gung-ho and then lost my excitement for that particular project.)  Should've just bought the kit (my advice to anyone considering that project - JUST BUY THE KIT!)  They're almost done - just have to attach ribbon to 12 more boxes and stuff them with delights (well, in our case, puzzle pieces from a Nativity puzzle I found somewhere...)  Hopefully tomorrow, I'll get it all tied up and can show you the finished project.  Note to self:  next time buy the kit!

This week is a busy one - lots of yummy (as in food) gifts to complete and I'm going to attempt cute little recipe books.  On a final note, does anyone know anywhere besides Michael's for good crafting supplies (even if it's online?)  I'm looking for other sources for chipboard diecuts, wood supplies, etc. but at reasonable cost and with good selection.   Share, please and have a great week - only 27 days til Christmas!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Makin' A List....

...and checking it twice. Wondering if this makes me naughty, nice or simply crazy? Christmas 2011 gift and crafting extravaganza planning has begun. I haven't even finished my shopping or creations for 2010 but as I Google (or Yahoo search to earn my Airmiles!) yet another query, I'm motivated by all the great ideas I'm finding.

One search result will bring me up pages of neat ideas and then of course, I have to browse each page, seller, etc. and come up with even more great ideas. Here are some of my think-I-have-to-try ideas for Holiday Season '11! (Spoiler alert: if you are one of my regular holiday gift recipients, please try to contain your excitement for the actual occasion. You have 12+ months to perfect that look of awed amazement!)

From Little Birdie Secrets: (one of my new favourite blogs!)

Easy Photo Blocks & Tiles

Christmas Countdown Blocks

From that legendary domestic diva, Martha Stewart, here are some good things:

I’ve seen a number of these simple yet lovely ribbon wreaths on various sites but Canadian Living offers easy instructions.  I found my original inspiration in the Stampin’ Up 2010-2011 Idea Book & Catalogue.

Following the chain reaction of ideas spurning ideas, when I searched for an image of the Stampin' Up wreath, I found another great wreath project I'd like to keep for me.   

This may be just the project to kick off a crafting new year... I love it!
(Hint:  search for Stampin' Up and any number of queries in Google and you'll find a ton of ideas to tweak - thanks, ladies!)

These are just some of my creative giving plans.  (I've been fighting with images, text, formatting and a computer that keeps freezing for hours to get this post finished... so I'm not sharing the rest!)  Maybe I'll find myself organized enough to devise a schedule of sorts to keep me crafting for Christmas throughout the whole year.   Keep sharing your ideas too - you know how much I love them!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Feelin' Blue

Not my state of mind... just the colour scheme that seems to have struck my fancy during some recent Etsy browsing sessions!
The Sweetpeat,
katecotten, $8 USD

Blue Chocolate Flowers BBQ Apron,
apronsandmore, $18.95 USD


Kindle, Nook or Kobo Cover,
hobop, $29.99 USD

I know I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again... but I LOVE Etsy! I just made some stocking stuffer purchases (first Etsy purchases ever!) and am anxiously awaiting their arrival in the mail. It's a great source of inspiration for do-it-yourself projects or out-of-the-ordinary-I-think-you're-extra-special gifts for everyone on your list year-round and pat-on-the-back-I-deserve-a-treat steals or splurges for yourself.  The hardest thing about it is the overwhelming choice - with so many options it's hard to decide. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Think Outside The Box

Yesterday being Rememberance Day, I find myself in a somewhat reflectful mood.  Honourable men and women worldwide are willing (and have been willing for years) to stand up for freedom, liberties, justice - to fight in the name of peace and truth that this world be a safer, better place. The cost of these freedoms is ultimate sacrifice - sweat, blood, tears, life - and we remember these men and women willing to serve, who lay everything on the line day in and day out.  I know it's an oversimplified viewpoint but I'm not looking for an in-depth discussion; I'm merely trying to lay a foundation for my thoughts.

For myself, I find Rememberance Day is always a prelude to the Christmas season.  As much as I love Christmas, I hesitate to totally embrace the 'season' (not the meaning!) until we've paid our respects to those who have served our Country faithfully.  As I relfect on the sacrifices they've given - often their lives - in a fight for peace and goodwill, I am reminded of another ultimate gift and ultimate sacrifice - for those of us of the Christian faith, the basis for our every belief, the birth and ultimately, sacrifice, of Jesus Christ.   Perhaps the subject of life and sacrifice in terms of those in service and the advent of the holiday season also celebrating life and sacrifice is what ties these occassions together in my mind. 

While we sit cozy in our homes, with our Christmas trees, stockings stuffed and tummies overflowing, there are so many who do not get to celebrate in a warm environment, who do not get to experience that feeling of peace, joy and goodwill. 

Casting Crowns has a Christmas song, I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day, that gets to the heart of the matter.  I'm not sure if it is their original song, but the lyrics just remind me that even though there is suffering in the world, and we may not be living in a time of peace, God is still the cornerstone of Peace on Earth and He still cares for each and every one of us.

All this brings me to the title of my entry today.   I think it's time to (and I know you do!) think outside the box... when you're wrapping your gifts and you're tying yet another ribbon, when you've written so many Christmas cards your hand begins to cramp, when you fill your belly with a warm meal, sip at your hot chocolate while wearing your flannel jammies, sitting in front of a warm fire with your loved ones around, when you stand up on Rememberance Day with a poppy on your lapel, a hand on your heart, what sacrifice have you offered?  What have you been willing to do to promote peace on earth and goodwill to men?

There are faith-based and secular national and international organizations alike that offer a number of programs (and I'm sure there are a number local to your communityas well!) that reach beyond Walmart to offer inspirational gifts this Christmas season.   My extended family in years past have, rather than exchanging gifts, pooled money into a group fund and donated to charity in the family name.  

Last year, we personally purchased farm animals through Samaritan's Purse for my nephews, who obviously did not see the farm animals, but had a little notecard tucked into their stockings to remind them that Christmas is more than getting - it's all about giving and sharing that precious love.   It's reaching out to mankind, here or abroad, and remembering that it's more than tinsel and gift wrap and yet another toy. 
Kaleb's teacher will be getting a candle from Bath and Body Works this year because, hey, after spending day in and day out with (20) 4 and 5 year olds, a girl deserves something nice.  We'll also be purchasing school supplies or a gift card from one of the organizations below to give on her behalf. 

I just remind you that even though we may not be laying our lives on the line everyday, we may not be fighting to make this world a better place, but that doesn't mean we can't do something small to influence the life and well-being of someone outside our social circle.  Make a hamper for the local food bank, find a family to sponsor this Christmas, check out with local adoption agencies or womens shelter to see if they have needs for a care cupboard or Christmas parties (i.e. Jewels for Jesus in Mississauga) and instead of stuffing those stockings with yet another plastic toy, why not slip in a donation card from one of the organizations below?

Please note that we have not sponsored all of these organizations, nor do I necessarily endorse them... they are just the ones I could remember and you can also do a quick Google search for "Sponsor A Child" for similar programs.

Think outside the box this year and give something with a little more love behind it - you'll bless someone less fortunate, you'll feel good yourself and the gift card recipient will be honoured that you chose the heart of the season as your inspiration.  Let's all inspire some peace on earth and goodwill to men!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Homemade Holidays

Now that Halloween is over, Rememberance Day is just around the corner (wear your poppy with pride!) and before you know, Christmas will be upon us.   My mom has been suggesting for years that we celebrate the "commercial" (i.e. gift-giving) side of things as the Dutch do, celebrating St. Nicholas, early in December for Sinterklaas Day and leaving the 25th for a the true reason for Christmas, a celebration and rememberance of love's greatest gift.  After a hectic October and what is shaping up to be a busy November, my siblings and I discussed (and decided) that, hey, maybe Mom's onto something here.  So with my immediate family, we'll be celebrating Christmas in early December (not actually on Sinterklaas Day, though.)

This is all excellent in theory... but it means I've lost close to 3 weeks in my "making-a-list-and-checking-it-twice-all-while-staying-on-a-budget" window of opportunity.  Don't get me wrong - I'm organized on paper but my ideas aren't really gelling this year.   I want need to keep things to a minimum and honestly, I'm the kind of girl who goes a little overboard, especially at Christmas - just because I love all things merry and bright - and incorrectly think that the more I do or give, the more expressive my love.

Every year I try to, not necessarily simplify, but do less commercial gift-giving.  Yes, I still stuff the stockings and pick out those perfect gifts, but I'm trying for heartfelt or homemade, without being chintzy, cheesy or cheap.  I'm a crafter at heart, even if those ideas don't necessarily translate into physical realities as nice or often as I would like.  I'm all set on crafts to do with the kids - the idea folder (in my head!) is chock-full of goodness.   It's the nice-to-give, lovely-to-receive things that I have a harder time with.

I need ideas so I've been scrounging the internet, magazines, catalogues and even browsed one of the local craft shows (ok, who am I kidding - I went to shop!) for some easy-to-implement homemade holiday ideas. This has led me to a number of blogs and Facebook groups I'll be following (I'd share the links but I have them saved on my laptop and I'm logged into the home pc.)  I stumbled upon Martha Stewart, Stampin' Up and Close To My Heart - and I think I'm suffering from inspiration overload but still haven't found those perfect somethings that I'd like to create.

Candy Countdown Calendar
by Stampin Up
 I am definitely going to do some of my "gifts-in-a-jar" (or bag or box) - mixes for homemade goodness and of course some homemade treats.  I also found a cute (I absolutely love it!!!) Advent/Countdown Calendar kit from Stampin' Up - which I am not going to buy but will use as inspiration for creating my own take-out box Advent calendar garland for the boys (thereby tapping into my endless supply of scrapbook materials!) After tinkering with my printer, Adobe and some papers, the question of the day becomes:  do I create my own (48!) takeout boxes or do I splurge on the boxes and just embellish using my own supplies???  Decisions, decisions....

Here's my next question (or two or three) of the day:  What homemade holiday decor, gifts, packaging, etc. ideas do you use or share?  What traditions or do-it-yourself projects do you incorporate to keep things more heartfelt and less commercial?

Less than 2 months to go - I'm sure my posts will be very holiday-themed and I'll try to keep you up to date on the Advent garland project.   Share your ideas, comments, etc. - you know I welcome your feedback.  Enjoy all the preparations as you get into the holiday spirit and remember that neverending, unconditional love is the reason we celebrate the season and should be the basis for all we do to make it special.