Friday, December 23, 2011

J'ai Fini

Although a few days ago I could have easily said, "Je suis fini", which still means "I am finished", only it means the ultimate finish!  Yes, I am done preparing for Christmas.  By the skin of my teeth, but I am done shopping, and making.  On Wednesday I had to admit I committed Christmas hubris, where once again I did too much; made too much; bought too much, etc.  Anyway, here is what we have been up to:

 Dipping dried fruit in chocolate for My Favourite Boy's "something to eat" gift.

Dipping licorice sticks in chocolate and sprinkles for gifts, as well as making countless candies!

The kids dipped many, many pretzels in white chocolate and sprinkled them with coloured sugar for teacher gifts.

I found these cute bags at the dollar store and they worked just perfectly for the pretzels.

I stitched up a bag for a Secret Santa gift at a networking group I belong to:

I also made chocolate sugar cookie snowflake cookies for each member and a little tea envelope:

Of course I got the china cabinet varnished and everything put inside it :)

And I foolishly decided that every child in each of the two classes needed to have a felt and candy cane mouse so I made 48.  Yes, that was very, very foolish.

Today I have to deliver some Avon orders and clean the house.  I can't believe in a few days it's all over. I seriously think we need to celebrate Christmas over the 12 days so we can enjoy ourselves a little longer; unwind a little longer.  However, I have a suspicion that I would think of sewing and craft projects that just had to be made as gifts somewhere in those 12 days!

I hope you all have a great Christmas and a wonderful 2012.  As you no doubt noticed by now the one thing I did not do was write up my Christmas cards!  I didn't even get them out of the box this year.  In fact I don't even know if I have any.  Maybe you will get a Valentine card, but then again, who knows?!

Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Weekend Stuff

I bought an all red puzzle at the thrift store a few years ago for a dollar.  My idea was that we could bring it out on Dec. 1 and the goal would be to have it done by Christmas Eve.  The first year we got a bit done; I don't think it made it out of its container last year, but this year we did it!  It only took the weekend to do too.

It was challenging, but fun too.  I had forgotten how addicting puzzles are.  I could never pass by the table without just trying to find a few pieces that fit!

My Favourite Girl squirrelled herself away at the craft table this morning and came up with another totally fabulous creation:  behold our plasticine and popsicle stick creche!

She's just so awesome I can't get over it :)

I also gave Mr. Crafty World an early Christmas gift:

There are now two cars in the garage and not one car and a partially refinished china cabinet.  The china cabinet is in the dining room, wearing it's second coat of stain and will be ready for varnish this week!

All in all a productive weekend I think.  I also got the house cleaned.  Both kids were at a movie night last night until 10 and Mr. Crafty World had a work function.  The house seemed so lonely and empty I decided to have a date with the vacuum cleaner.  Fun, fun, fun in my Crafty World!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Slow Day

I'm being so pokey today.  I haven't done much but upload some pictures and scout away on the internet for useful things.  For once I don't feel too guilty, because I have been productive lately.  I filled the freezer with chicken recipes.  I have almost completed my Christmas shopping.  I have been sewing.  In two days I started two sewing projects and finished them both!  Mr. Crafty has commented three times in the last week on my habit of having many projects on the go: I guess it must be getting to him.  Perhaps it's the fact that there's a partially refinished china cabinet in the garage where his car is supposed to be.  Maybe he's jealous that my life has so much more variety than his.  Who knows.

Anyway, back to those projects.  A few years ago I accumulated some wool sweaters and ran them all through the wash to felt them.  So they sat in the basement until I decided to make something.  I have seen cute little stuffed owls all over the internet in the last year and wanted to make one for My Favourite Girl.  I ended up with this colourful  owl and sweet sleeping owlet:

For My Favourite Boy I made a soft stegosaurus out of blue polar fleece.  Again, started and finished in one day!  So proud of myself :)

He will make a great companion to this (very dirty) t-rex I made last year.  I think My Favourite Boy will be pleased.

I have to say it's so much nicer to sew upstairs where there is some natural light.  If I had done these projects in the basement there would have been many breaks for tea and email checking, etc.  The only downside is I have to completely clean up my mess when I'm done!

I have also been doing a bit of crochet: working on some holly leaves during My Favourite Boy's karate class and the Big Project after supper.

I'm almost half-way done the main part, and then there will be edging.  Or maybe not!

For the rest of my pokey day I hope to make some lip balm for My Favourite Girl.  Her lips crack terribly in the winter and I want her to have something nourishing on her lips.  I found a few recipes this morning on the internet, along with a recipe for home made laundry soap I might give a try again.  It's been years since I made it last, but I think I still have all the stuff.  I have the time to make it anyway!  
I might pop over to the library and pick up a craft book they have on hold for me: that will make for a fun afternoon's entertainment.  Supper will be left-overs so I don't have to worry about that.  So, for today life is good.  

P.S.  I found out last night that I did not get the wedding coordinator job at our church.   To be honest I'm not terribly disappointed; it was good to get my resume dusted off and have to stretch my brain again  to promote myself in cover letters.  Since then I have applied at two more places and time will tell.  Nothing is going terribly quickly around here lately so I am waiting patiently for once.  


We have been decorating.  Once Advent started My Favourite Girl asked everyday if we could put the decorations out; including the tree.  Last week I succumbed and put everything out while the frightful weather outside carried on.  I'll spare you all the details, but here are my favourites this year:

The tree, of course:

As we were decorating I remarked that it was really my tree in a way.  I know where all the ornaments came from because I either made them, bought them, or selected from the kids makes.  That's probably why I love decorating it so much.  We have a Christmas story I just love, called 'Christmas in the Country'.  In the book a little girl describes Christmas in the little house she lives in with her grandparents.  As they pull the decorations out of the closet and she looks at the glittered balls and other things she has made, she says she love the ornaments because each one reminds her of her whole life.  That's exactly how I feel about our ornaments.  There's the ceramic wreath I made in grade 1: one of my first experiences with "real" art. The glass balls filled with rose petals from the three dozen roses A. gave me when he got his Commission;  the blown glass baby shoes commemorating My Favourite Girl's first Christmas; and all of the foam, popsicle stick and tissue paper creations made by my two little elves.  Oh my, I'm getting teary eyed just writing about it!

Next: the kid's tree.  This little tree was Mr. Crafty World's and my tree before we bought the big one in our first house.  It came with us through many moves and now we use it in the basement for the kids to decorate.  They have a lot of fun decorating it each year and adding new things to it.  My favourites this year are the paper chains and button wreaths:

I love the new little hand made decorations like this sweet elf:

...and these snowman pots:

Another project the kids made are these snowball votive holders.  I was amazed at how well these turned out and created our mantle display around them.

I bought round glass votive holders from the dollar store and we coated the outside with white glue and rolled them in epsom salts.  I put a few coats of clear acrylic spray on the outside after they dried to keep the salts from falling off.  They look so sweet when they're lit.  I'm using the battery operated tea lights in them; that's why the light is so yellow.  

It finally started to look festive outside as well this week.  We had our first "real" snowfall and it was so beautiful.  

The kids had a blast at the bus stop making a fort and growing big plans to make it enormous when more snow fell.  Alas, most of it has gone now, but it will come again I'm sure.

Have a blissful day :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Seasonal Makes

The weather has taken a turn for the better here the last few days.  Yesterday was so nice we could be outside without our jackets on. I bought a bunch of mixed greens and figured I had better change our garage window planters while the soil was still soft.  Last year I was too late and had to pour boiling water over the dirt to get my greens in!

I used one bunch of mixed greenery from the store and supplemented with a bit of my own cedar and some of the neighbour's - shh! don't tell!  I made two like this:

I bought a tree shaped ice cube tray for a dollar with the idea of making more crayons or bath fizzers or something.  Last night My Favourite Boy and I made bath fizzers to test it out.  We used balsam fir, sweet orange and a little bit of pine essential oil to scent them.  They smell like Christmas to me!  


The recipe we used was 1 part citric acid; 1 part epsom salts; 2 parts baking soda; witch hazel to mist them and about 1 tsp of our essential oil blend.  We colored the epsom salts to get the speckled look.  The outer trees are green by the way; it's not showing up so much in this picture.

Since Advent begins tomorrow I decided I had better finish off a cross stitch project I started last year during Advent.  I finished my cross stitch as a flat fold as best I could.  I messed it up a bit, but I think I'm the only one who can tell :)

This is what a flat-fold finish is like:

Sort of like a little easel is the best way of explaining it.  I bought this fabric this year and I love it.  I think it's the perfect fabric for this so I'm glad I waited.

Here it is next to the Advent centerpiece My Favourite Girl made in Sunday school last year.  Each week you pull a tissue paper 'flame' out of the candles.  As far as kids crafts go I think this one is spectacular, and plan on keeping it for as long as I can!  Isn't it just the cutest?

I heard back from the church about the wedding coordinator job:  they can't decide between myself and another applicant so we have to respond to some scenarios they are creating for us next week.  All this will take place via email - thank heavens.  It makes me feel good that I'm the top two; of course I don't know how many applicants there were.  Maybe only two!

I also just applied for a job with a company that makes school lunches.  Not cafeteria style: parents order the lunches and they are made in a commercial kitchen and delivered to the schools.  This would be a great one because it's from 9-1:30 during the week and whenever school is out you don't work.  Fingers crossed I get called for an interview next week.  Prayers please!  One of our cars needs a replacement transmission so the sooner I can get working the better! 

Thanks for stopping by :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Newest Hooky Project

I have discovered Pinterest.  If you have a few hours to kill and want to spend them in front of the computer screen, try it out.  I found a picture of a crocheted cowl with a link to a pattern yesterday and loved it.  I pulled out some yarn I was saving to make myself a regular scarf and set to work on it last night.   It took several hours, but I finished it tonight.  There are 23 rows of 55 crochet stitches; some double, some single and some half-double.  It's wide enough I can pull it up around my ears if I don't have my hat.  I guess I twisted the foundation row while I was beginning and ended up with an Infinity scarf.  Oh well; at least they're all the rage right now!

(Please ignore those tired eyes: it's the result of too much cross stitch and crochet recently.)

If some of you are wondering how my other, big, crochet project is going; you know, the one I was supposed to have finished for July 2, well, it's coming along.  I think I'm almost half done.  I am not going to speculate any more on when I think I might finish it.  Every time I do that I end up putting it down for weeks at a time.  Let's just say it will make a nice first anniversary gift.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This Week

...or maybe I should say Last Week, since it's Sunday.  I have never gotten that figured out: I consider Monday the first day of the week, not the second.  Anyway, assuming Sunday is the last day of the week, this is what has been going on:

My Favourite Boy finally lost one of his upper front teeth!  This one has been loose for months and months.  He was so excited, and I would love to show you the picture of his glowing face right after he yanked it out, but there was quite a bit of blood involved :O.  So here he is the next day, still fairly excited because the Tooth Fairy had been to visit already.  He insists there are no such thing as fairies, except the Tooth Fairy!


I will miss those little front teeth; mostly because when the adult ones come in they are so big and look goofy until the kids grow into them.

We had our first snowfall this week!  It wasn't much and it was gone pretty quickly, but it did put me in the holiday spirit enough to buy a winter urn filler and fresh wreath for the door. We also saw this weird cloud in the morning:  look in the center for the spiral.

It stretched downward for a ways and then it blew eastward and disappeared.  We were wondering if it was the beginning of a tornado that never materialized.  It was weird anyway.

Now back to Christmas:  I joined a cross stitch ornament challenge and finally finished some so I could post it on this blog.  Lots of inspiration there!  Here is what I stitched if you don't see my stuff on the challenge blog:

I was hoping to make some cake pops to put in our church bake sale yesterday, but I burnt my chocolate.  The sugar in the chocolate crystallized, so I couldn't use it to coat the cake pops because there was the odd crunchy bit.  Instead of throwing it out I made these:

I call them Merry Peppermint Crisps.  You spread white chocolate on a Christie's chocolate wafer and sprinkle crushed candy cane on top.  The candy cane bits will conceal any of the crystallized sugar bits.  I did not put these in the church sale!  They're almost gone anyway:)  I think these might go in my cookie boxes this year.

I had my first job interview in ten years this week.  I was not nervous at all before I went because it had been so long I had forgotten what I would probably be asked.  Once I got in there I remembered and then the nervousness kicked in.  I know I was twisting one of my rings around on my finger during the interview.  My hands would have been shaking if I hadn't.  The job is for Wedding Coordinator at our church.  I will know next week if I got the job or not.  I also applied at the library, but not for any specific position so I won't hear anything from them unless something comes up.  Well, hopefully anyway!  With our new car payment and My Favourite Boy in a new after school activity I think some extra income will help.  So wish me luck and put me on your prayer list please!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


There's nothing like a little crafting to start your day!  I woke up early this morning and took advantage of the quiet time to make some pendants I have had on my 'to do' list for a while.  I just love the looks of these:  I'm sure you can tell because I made so many!

I used silver plated wire and glass, stone or fresh water pearl beads.  I'm having a tough time deciding which one I want to keep!  Probably the pearls, which are in the middle, but the frosted blue glass (top left) are a close second.

Another kind of nesting has been going on here lately:  cleaning!  I cleaned and organized the storage room in the basement and now I can find my wrapping paper and extra foodstuffs.  This weekend I cleaned out my craft area.  It was atrocious I can tell you.  I moved my fabric and sewing stuff up to the spare room, because the light for sewing in the basement is not very good.  That freed up a cupboard to put kiddie crafting supplies in - the kind they need permission to use - and get them out of the storage room.  I put all my Avon stuff in a rolling cart and put it in the storage room.  Part of me thinks that the Avon stuff distracts me from crafting so I wanted it out of my creative space.  I can just roll it out when I need to do orders and process the catalogues and then put it away. I also moved my table because I didn't like sitting with my back to the rest of the basement.  This is what it looked like before:


 Doesn't it look better now?  I can actually tuck my chair under the table! The messy table in the foreground belongs to the kids!
 I want to replace the light with a pendant one, and hang it right over the table for better lighting.  My ageing eyeballs are really noticing poor lighting these days.

A. also cleaned out the garage so it's almost ready to put both cars in.  I say almost ready because I am still sanding down a bookshelf in there.  Fingers crossed that will get done this week. My Favourite Boy had to explain to his piano teacher why there are books all around the perimeter of the living and dining room.  I wonder if he was embarrassed?

Weekend Fishing

The kids and I made some funky crayons this weekend. They were telling me about a crayon maker you can buy that uses broken crayons to make new ones.  I told them we could do it without the crayon maker and they were both gung-ho to try it.   I had picked up this mould at the thrift store a few months ago, thinking it would be good for just this thing.

They picked through their crayon box to find the best colour combinations.  Once they had the cavities filled with broken, peeled crayons, I put the mould in the oven at 375 degrees F. for about 10 minutes.  It's funny how you can tell the cheap crayons from the better ones once they melt:  cheap crayons turn very watery and lose a lot of their colour.  Crayola crayons take a lot longer to melt.

The' newly designed' crayons came out looking like this:

Nice and bright but all the tails cracked off when we were trying to get them out of the mould.  Now I know why it was at the thrift store!  

Anyway, the kids had fun and they like coloring with the fish crayons.  Next time we will pick a better mould. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shortbread Candy Bars

I tried this recipe from Everyday Food (Oct. 2010) last night and they are goo-ood!  If you don't have any Halloween chocolate left over you might still be able to get yourself a bag at a very good price.

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups assorted chocolate candies or roughly chopped candy bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  With an electric mixer beat butter, brown sugar, and salt until light and fluffy.  Add flour and beat on low speed until mixture is crumbly.  Press dough into an 8 inch square baking dish.  Bake until golden brown and firm, 30-35 minutes.
Scatter chocolate chips only on top of shortbread.  Bake until soft, approx. 1 minute.  Evenly spread melted chocolate chips over shortbread using the back of a a spoon.  Scatter candies over top.  Let cool on a wire rack 30 minutes.  Refrigerate briefly to set the chocolate, then cut into bars.

These are very, very rich, but oh, so good!  I would suggest using a slightly larger pan so you don't get so much shortbread in every piece.  There's a lot of butter in there!
We used a combination of miniature Oh! Henry bars, Kit Kat, Coffee Crisp, Aero, Crispy Crunch and Reese's Pieces.
I guess I could have "styled" this photo a little better, but I was pretty excited to share the results with you.  That, and I had to make sure to take a picture before any more of them got eaten!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's Grey; It's Gloomy

...I need a bit of cheer.  After I dropped the kids off at the bus this morning I headed straight downstairs to do some crafting before the call of dishes/errands/taking a shower took over.  I even put some Christmas music on the get into the spirit of things!

This is a project I have been wanting to do for ages.  I have been collecting the supplies at after Christmas sales for two years, and have almost donated them all in fits of purging!  Last night I did the first, and most time consuming job: glueing all the caps to the glass ornaments.  Thankfully I only broke one :)
I had an assortment of red balls: some are frosted, a few are glittered and the rest are shiny.  All told there are 79 glass balls and I used them all, except one that got glued into the box :(

The only other thing you need is a wire coat hanger.  Mine was fairly thick metal, and I wish I had a flimsier one.  Who would ever think you would wish for a flimsy wire coat hanger?  Anyway, all you have to do is thread the balls onto the hanger that you have bent into a circle shape.  At first it is a little frustrating because they all just hang straight down; but keep going and eventually they bunch together nicely and start to look like something a reasonably capable crafter would make.  I made a bow for the top to hide the metal ring for hanging.  I'm not completely happy with the bow, but that's something that can always be frou-frou-ed with later.

If I did it again (and I just might because I would love one made with silver, pink, lime green and turquoise),I would buy one of those big containers of plastic balls.  It's making me a little nervous on how I am going to store this wreath without any damage for 11 months at a time.  I would also use more ornaments and try to find a coat hanger that's a little easier to manipulate.
If you want a little more inspiration, look here.  You can also find instructions with pictures on the same site on this page.
If you make one send me a picture!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mantle Make Over

We have the same mantle as everyone else on our street.  There must have been a sale on at the builders warehouse when they were making this subdivision!  As far as mantles go, it's fine.  I am grateful to have it and I have for sure seen worse.
 At one point in our house's history the owners put new stone over whatever else faced the fireplace before.  Instead of removing the mantle, putting new facing one and then replacing the mantle, they just put the stone around it.  Because the stone sticks out over the mantle, and in some spots by quite a bit, it has made putting things on the mantle a little challenging.  Because the stone is not completely flat, you can't really hang anything from it.  Any pictures or mirrors I have, have to rest on top of the mantle (thereby taking up valuable display space) and be secured by chains into the ceiling above it.

(See how the stone sticks out?)

Things like this plate rack actually hang over the edge; just waiting for something to hit it and knock it over.

Pulling the mantle off was out of the question.  The quickest thing I thought to do was to face the mantle with more wood and trim to make it a little deeper.  I had to use 1/4 inch wood pieces for the sides to fit between the stones:

...and I used 3/4 inch pine for the front, along with some more trim at the top to add an extra 1/2 inch.  I just nailed everything in, then glued and nailed the trim on.  The actual facing and staining only took a day to complete; I only got the thing varnished yesteday!

  I have been debating whether or not to do an aged paint treatment on the mantle so that's why it took me so long to decide whether to varnish it or not.
Here is the mantle now, and I can say it's much more fun to play around with!

(The blue candles don't really "go" here, but you get the idea!)

I'm not sure if I will put the mirror back on or not.  It takes up a lot of space and is so heavy I still have to rest it on the mantle.  If I can find a lighter one and try to hang it off the stone I will. For the moment I am loving the white iron decoration against the stone.  I think I'll move the candles and put my white birds there, currently living in a box slated for the church sale!  I also found some white porcelain fruit that would look pretty good up there I think.

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