Monthly Archives: December 2011

Necklace Make-over!


Well hello all.  I’m not sure how to start this out.  I’m not the eloquent writer my sisters are.  However, I am brilliant at saving a penny or two on things I like.  For years I bought necklaces at a store that would sell their old necklaces ten for five dollars.  I would easily get tired of them and give them away, but that was fine because they didn’t cost much.  Well one day I had brilliant idea.  I would take them apart (those that I could), save the beads and make new, cooler necklaces!!  So that’s what I did.  If I had planned better I would have taken pictures of the old necklaces and my refurbished necklaces, but I didn’t.  So to start I went and found a box (an old jewelry box) to hold the beads.  I went and bought some wire.  I found necklace making books at my local library (it took me a couple of tries to get the right books).  Then I went to work.  One of the books showed how to string beads to make cool patterns.  Other books just gave me ideas.  I had a lot of fun and learned a lot!  I felt really good about my dexterity and mental acuity.  This made me want to do it more and more!  So now I have another hobby that I have no time to pursue!  Please enjoy these picture which show the fruits of my labors.










Thanks for stopping by!


Symbols of Christmas


“All things bear record of me.” *

Every Christmas we have the tradition of reading a version of “Teach the Children” and setting up a small tree with ornaments to illustrate the story.  My kids love to do this and I love that it helps them remember what Christmas is all about.  I got the small tree and ornaments at my local craft store, and I sewed the bag myself.  Of course you could use almost anything to illustrate the story: a tree and ornaments made of felt, pictures or drawings of the tree and ornaments, or decorate your large tree with the ornaments.  The key is to make it interactive.  This would also make a great gift for a family with children.

Here’s my version of the story.  I found several versions on the internet but none of them fit exactly the way I wanted to tell it (and the ornaments I could find!) so I cut and pasted different parts together and added sections for the ornaments I could find.  What I’m saying is feel free to edit my version to suit your needs!

Christmas symbols with meanings:

  • Red – the blood of Christ
  • Green – eternal life
  • White – repentance and forgiveness
  • Evergreen tree – eternal life
  • Wreath – circle shows eternity
  • Bow – unity
  • Gifts – gifts of the magi, gift of Christ (John 3:16)
  • Star – Star of Bethlehem
  • Santa – anonymous charitable giving
  • Candy cane – shepherd’s crook, ‘J’ for Jesus, more!
  • Bells – proclaiming the good news, seeking lost sheep
  • Candles/Lights – individual testimony, good works *

I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas


Yes, yes, I know everyone really wants a White Christmas,  but after 25 years of them you start to long for warmer climates.  My little family is currently preparing for a move south to go to school where the temperature is a balmy 60 degrees, so we are currently dreaming of green Christmases.

But there are other ways to make your Christmas a little “greener” and no, global warming is not the answer.

LED vs. incandescent Christmas lights

Did you know that LED Christmas lights use up to 95% less energy than traditional bulbs?  It’s true!  So why hasn’t everyone switched over yet?  There are several reasons.

First of all, the price.  LED lights are still significantly more expensive, although the prices have dropped in recent years and may continue to do so.  Besides, LED lights last longer so it might be worth investing a little more.

Second,  a lot of people don’t like the look of LED lights.  They are blindingly bright and their white is more of a frostly blue instead of the warm welcoming yellow of incandescent lights.  Well, that problem has been addressed by manufacturers as well!  There are now “warm white” LED lights available in some stores and online.  They are still blinding, but isn’t that what you want on your quest to keep up with the Griswold’s?

Other pros include:

-Mulitple strands can be strung together, which is nice when outlets are few and far between or when one uses hundreds of lights

-It has no glass cover or filament to break.

-The cool LED bulb is safer than a standard bulb that can get quite warm.

(check out the comparison and even prices here)

Homemade vs. Store Bought Presents

There are a lot of “environmentally friendly ” Christmas presents you could buy at the store and you’re more than welcome to if you happen to be able to afford it.  But why not go green and save yourself some money at the same time?

Regifting:  it’s not impolite, it’s smart!  Your Great Aunt Tess, bless her heart, gave you a cookie jar last year that you will never use.  Instead of throwing it out, fill it with cookies and give it to someone else!  (Just make sure it’s not your Great Aunt Tess).

Upcycling:  Open up your closet.  See all those clothes that just don’t fit right or are out of style?  You never wear them anymore.  That stretched out sweater could become a dress for your niece.  Or you could recut that old shirt and add some flare for your sister!  For more ideas, check out our craft and project posts here!

Be Thrifty: Thrift stores are a great place to find unique gifts.  You can also find fun and cheap ways to package goodies- decorative tins, wicker baskets, sewing/craft boxes- at a fraction of their original prices and you’re giving new life to old things!

Service Gifts: Instead of giving objects, give someone an experience or a gift card- a night out at the movies, free babysitting, tickets to an event, gift card for a massage…- this is a fun idea to do within the family as well, especially for mom- do someone else’s laundry for a week, mop the kitchen floor, breakfast in bed, free makeover, etc.  Be creative!

Recycled Decorations and Wrapping Paper

Instead of buying new decorations, buy used at a thrift store or make your own.  Paper chains can be made from magazines or old calenders and Christmas tree decorations from salt dough.  Trim your tree with a string of popcorn and cranberries.  You can pick up pine cones from the neighborhood and set up festive Christmas cards from friends to deck your halls.  Kids love making decorations.  Include the whole family!

Wrapping paper can come from anywhere.  Newspapers, magazine pages, old calenders, paper bags….I’ve even received gifts wrapped in fabric- which was also part of the gift. if you do buy wrapping paper tie it with ribbons instead of using tape so the paper can be used again.  I also like to save gift bags and tissue paper that my presents come in.

If you want to read more, check out the book, Green Christmas!

Slow Cooker Apple Butter Part 2: Canning


And now the exciting conclusion to “Slow Cooker Apple Butter”! 

(From the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.) 

You can try to use all that butter at once or you can preserve it to use later.  Here’s how…. Read the rest of this entry

Mincemeat 2: Mini Holiday Tarts


Mmmmm…. I love mincemeat!  So this past week I used my homemade mincemeat in yummy little tarts.

I made a basic pie crust dough, used a cup to cut it into circles and formed the circles into mini pie shells using a muffin pan.  (Remember to poke holes in the bottoms so they don’t puff up.)

Then, I made cream cheese layer by mixing together an 8 oz package of cream cheese, half a container of whipped topping, and 1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar, depending on the consistency you want.   I put the cream cheese layer in the tart shells first, put mincemeat on top  and voila!  Mini Mincemeat Tarts!  Feel free to put dollop of whipped topping on top!   I also made some tarts using blueberry pie filling instead of mincemeat.

This is the same way you can make my favorite mincemeat pie- just add a vanilla pudding layer on top of the mincemeat layer by using half the milk with a vanilla pudding mix and stir in some cinnamon and nutmeg.  Easy!

What’s your favorite holiday treat?

Homemade Christmas


I like making as many Christmas presents as I can.  In a previous post I mentioned my reasons why, basically that they are more personalized and I feel like I am giving more of myself in the gift.  They feel like love made tangible.  Here are the ones I have made thus far. 

First- for my 3 year old niece I made these 2 skirts and shirt with a hair clippie from 2 t-shirts.  The sites where I got the tutorials are listed below the picture.  The shirt embellishments I came up with on my own using the leftover fabric from one of the skirts.  The hair clippie is clipped on the waist of the green skirt and you can get the tutorial of how to make the rosette here.

Sew Much Ado

Friday Tutorial

This is the first quilt I have made, and I just looked at the pattern here and tried to feel my way through it.  It turned out OK, but the binding is pretty bad.   The doll is one my mom made me when I was a kid that I just had to glue back together and refill with beads.  This one goes to my daughter.

I got the pattern for these gingerbread dolls from the book Heaven on Earth by Sharifa Oppenheimer.  So fun and not hard to make at all.  These are also for my 5 year old daughter

Presents yet to make:  For my 3 year old son, a felt crown and kings cape, and for my 1 year old daughter, some felt fruit. 

Happy Holidays!

Countdown to Christmas


We put most of our Christmas decorations up this past weekend, the earliest we’ve ever managed. No tree yet, I didn’t want it dead by Christmas. As I was looking around at our decorations, I realised we have 5 different ways of counting down to Christmas.

Gift Bag Countdown.  Read the rest of this entry