Wordless Wednesday- Christmas

December is always a pretty slim blogging month for me. Other bloggers are sharing all of these awesome Christmas craft tutorials and I am usually just stuck at the idea stage of any Christmas craft projects. I get all of these fabulous ideas, perhaps even purchase the supplies, and then we just get busy. That is life. I have been trying to simplify Christmas as much as possible. I don't want it to be a stressful time of year. I want it to be a joyful time of year.

Everything went pretty smoothly and we had one of the nicest Christmases that I can remember.

But Christmas break is kicking my butt. It is hard to enjoy the time with your children when they steal coffee, fight, act out, trash the house, etc. I took all electronics on Day 2. We have no TV. It is too cold to play outside. They are definitely getting bored. Yet, I feel like if I take them anywhere fun it will be a reward for their awful behavior.

Yesterday I ate a half of a bag of m&m's.

So, I am trying to blog, but the words are stuck. So, although I just typed out a bunch of stuff, I am now giving you a "wordless Wednesday" post, inspired by the good old days when people read blogs daily. It is a conglomeration of fun pics snapped around the house and assorted crafts. Enjoy.

 

 

DIY Handwriting Copy Sign Tutorial

A new trend I have noticed is displaying portions of handwritten notes enlarged as a sign. I think it is a lovely way to remember special words. I was recently asked to create a sign with a portion of Clarence's note from It's a Wonderful Life so I thought I would snap a few pictures of the process to share a tutorial on the blog.

 

DIY Handwriting Copy Sign Tutorial

I happened to have the perfect size board already on hand. It is a rough cut board sanded slightly, so it has the rough edges and saw blade marks still visible. It really gives the piece some rustic character. I just lightly brushed some cream paint onto the board to get a weathered effect. You can also sand the edges to remove paint and make it more rustic.

Next, I resized the portion of the original note I was using and printed it out. (I just use Microsoft Word because I can use the page size to estimate dimensions.) I used carbon paper to transfer the image to the painted wood.

It's a Wonderful Life Quote

Use carbon paper to transfer handwriting to wood

How to transfer handwriting to signs

I used a fine tip black paint marker to paint the words onto the wood. It is more natural to make handwriting with a paint marker vs. a paintbrush. I also let the roughness of the wood texture the lettering by not filling in chips and grain.

How to easily make a sign from handwriting

Finally, I applied an antiquing wax to further age and seal the piece.

It's a Wonderful Life sign- Clarence's note

I think this technique would be really sweet for old love notes from your spouse, cards from special occasions, or even treasured family recipes!

 

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{Painting Christmas Signs}

 

Easy Mason Jar Snow Scenes

The girls and I had a "craft day" over winter break. Christmas flew by in a blur and we still had a lot of craft projects that were still just big ideas and a pile of supplies. Honestly, some of the supplies were several years old because this seems to happen every year. One of the things that I wanted to make was a "waterless" snow globe decoration. The little plastic deer and bottle brush trees kept disappearing on me over the past year or so. Some of the deer didn't make it because their legs were chewed on. :( I picked up a few more things when Christmas shopping in early November, so before we had any more casualties, I wanted to make this one a priority.

Mason Jar Snow Globes

We used some "mason-type" jars. The "real" mason jars I use for canning, but there were some smooth sided jars mixed in my supply I didn't mind forfeiting.

Mason Jar Snow Scenes

The first one was the easiest. It is a little ceramic fox family and bottle brush tree from the Christmas village section at Walmart. I just stuck them in the jar and my 5yo added epsom salts. I did use a vintage lid and tie some baker's twine around the neck of the jar just to add a little more detail.

Easy winter scene in a mason jar.

The deer scene was probably the hardest. The supplies came from Michaels last year, so they were not in good shape. I made a snow mound out of clay and stabbed the trunkless trees and plastic deer into it. Getting those deer to stay in place was a pain and I needed pliers to push them down in firmly. Then, we also poured in some epsom salts, but I should have let the clay dry first.

Simple DIY waterless snow globe.

The snowman was made out of clay with wire arms, a play-doh orange nose that fell off, a jute scarf, sharpie dotted buttons, and a hat borrowed from our Monopoly game. There is a lollipop stick (unused) to hold all of the layers together, including a rounded base underneath the snowman. Unfortunately, I did not let the clay dry first and the moisture as it dried caused the epsom salts to crystallize up the sides of the jar. I had to take the whole thing apart and redo it. So, if you are making these, have a little patience and wait a few days for the clay to dry.

CLay Snowman Mason Jar Snow Globe

These were really simple to make and the kids like them! It is a nice decoration that I can leave out all winter long.

Easy Mason Jar Snow Scenes

An Imperfectly Merry Christmas

It has been awhile. I know. I have been super busy, so I have a lot to update here on the blog. If you are looking for something crafty, there is not so much of that in this post. However, I feel the need to do more writing about real life.

In November, I was asked to be a part of a MOPS panel on Holiday traditions and encouraging thankfulness and kindness in our children. I did mention some of the things that our family does, but I also confessed many of the ways I have messed up over the years struggling to keep up with traditions that weren't working and striving for Pinterest-worthy Christmas perfection. I have come to realize that I need to simplify many areas of my life.

A few weeks later, a last-minute, long term subbing position came up at the elementary school. I thought it sounded like fun and a good challenge for me! I love staying home with my youngest, but this was only for a few weeks leading up until Christmas and it helped our family financially.

There were so many things that I never saw coming...

First, I remembered how much I miss teaching!

Second, I am now a coffee drinker.

Third, there were some extra challenges for our family. I knew it would be hard and that we would all have to pitch in to make it work. Oh, but we faced trials that left me scratching my head and wondering why I ever thought I should take this position. Seriously. It was the worst possible timing. I was broken and humbled, stressed out and reduced to tears. But, I had to put it aside and put on a smile for my class because that is what they needed.

On my last day, I mentioned my pefectionistic tendencies and someone was surprised that I still had any of that left with having six children. It dawned on me that with so many of the things I had been going through, I had no other choice but to let go of some of my perfectionism over the past few weeks. I can see that more and more of it has been chipping away over time, with a larger chunk knocked off more recently.

christmas mess

For our school's Christmas Around the World, we presented the country of Italy. One of the things that we taught the students was about the legend of La Befana. Here is the gist of it... La Befana was an old woman who was very dedicated to cleaning her house. The three wise men stopped to ask directions to Bethlehem and invited her to come with them to see the Christ Child. She was too busy sweeping her house, so she declined. However, that night when she saw the great light in the sky she realized her mistake. She grabbed a bag with some toys that had belonged to her own child and ran to catch up with the wise men. She ran so fast that she began to fly on her broomstick. She never could find the Christ Child, so instead she leaves gifts in the stockings of the children of Italy each year.

This really made me think. I may not be consumed with having a perfectly clean house (a great housekeeper I am not!), but I do get wrapped up in my tasks and my quest for perfection in other areas instead of seeking Christ.

Last year, I ruined Christmas Eve for my family with a meltdown/tantrum that involved my failure to sew new stockings, a poor movie choice by others, an attempted new tradition of Christmas pajamas that were opened without me, complete flipping out, tears, and apologies. It was MY FAULT, MY PERFECTIONISM, MY SELFISHNESS. I promised myself that this year would be better.

But, to do that, I had to let go and simplify.

Instead of stockings, which I still haven't made, I stuffed everything in gift bags. I even let the kids help wrap each others' gifts (although they were threatened to maintain secrecy). It was a way for the girls and I to get some one-on-one time together on Christmas Eve Eve and they loved being in on the Christmas secrets. We had a Merry Christmas!

gift bag stockings

How to wrap earmuffs!

I hardly did any decorating. I let the kids put things wherever they wanted. Less hassle for me. More fun for them. My pumpkins and mums were still on the porch up until Christmas Day, when the boys took the pumpkins away... to use them for target practice. My poinsettia lost all of its leaves, but the girls liked seeing the new growth on it and won't let me throw it out. Even without fabulous decorations, we STILL had a Merry Christmas!

leaves fell off of the ponsettia

I hand delivered a lot of our Christmas cards and the rest were last-minute or late. I am sure the recipients did not love them any less and I bet they still had a Merry Christmas!

I started decorating our tree with colored lights and changed my mind halfway through. Then, the white lights stopped working on half of the strand. I planned to fix it later, but while I was upstairs, the girls decorated it. The ribbon was perfectly spaced, but the few ornaments they put on did not match. I never had time to fix it, so we were left with a very original tree that made people smile. It was still a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

half colored lights and half white lights on the tree

So, things might be a hot mess around here, but letting go of my own ridiculous ideas and perfectionism feels so freeing. I am so grateful for even those awful trials that helped me to simplify this year!

Merry Christmas!

 

 

Scarves- Crochet and Sewing

mustache2Bscarf.jpg

I made four scarves this year for Christmas. The first was a basic, crocheted infinity scarf for my mom. I forgot to take a picture.

The second was made the same way, but a bit smaller for my 10yo. Well, she thought it was too long, but not long enough to loop around twice, so I offered to rip it out and redo it. I ended up making a smaller cowl with a shell stitch. She likes this much better. It only used a half skein of yarn and the variegated colors somehow lined up on their own to make diagonal stripes.

The other scarves I made were from a flannel remnant I got at Joann's.  I just made two basic infinity scarves- they ended up costing about 80 cents apiece. My daughter loves mustaches and I thought that this was fun fabric! I kept one and she kept one. We're twinsies. :)
They were pretty lightweight, which was good because Christmas was so super warm in PA this year! The kids got to go outside to play without coats! There was no "Staching through the Snow" for us! :)