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Category Archives: Holiday Magic

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Romantic plans for the evening: Chick Fil A dinner; Olympic viewing; tasty raspberry pie cookies*. Wishing you love this Valentine’s Day!

 

*Yes, I totally cheated and Pillsbury-ed the crust. There’s still plenty of love baked into these little beauties!

Love is In The Air

The second her teacher said, “Wear your prettiest Valentine dress on Thursday!”, I could tell by the look on my girl’s face that I was hosed. See, she does not have a Valentine dress — not a specific one, at least. Silly me, I thought that her favorite red and gold sweater dress would do just fine. It’s red, it’s gold — it has short sleeves! Short sleeves rule!

But no.

“Mom, I need a dress for my party.”

The next morning:

“Mom, don’t forget my pretty dress. Oh, I can’t wait to wear my pretty dress for the Valentine party!”

Oh boy.

Okay, so a mom who is not super cheap would just mosey on down to Target and get whatever glittered heart madness they’re churning out this year, but I’m not always that mom. It was cold yesterday. So, so cold. Better to hit the fabric shelf and see what I could come up with…except I didn’t want to make a dress. More importantly, I don’t know how to make a dress. My only trick is attaching a skirt to a t-shirt, and I didn’t like any of the options on hand.

And then

I took one more look in her closet and found this:

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A $6.00 H&M dress with a spot on the front. Well! This looked promising! After a quick peek at the Pinterest files, I came across some reverse applique instructions, cut a sleeve off of one of my old shirts, and was off to the races. A couple of hours later, voila!

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Best of all, the young boss loved it! (I wasn’t sure it was going to fly, since she’d already said that the red and pink tunic she was wearing would be “crazy” for her to wear, due to the black and grey in the color scheme. Imagine!)

Bolstered by this success, and drunk with ideas after the whole Pinterest perusal, I also cranked these out for the kids at my AWANA table:

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They were…well, less than enthused, but I bet they’ll use them sometime. Or leave them to get smushed up at the bottom of their bag. I really am trying not to overthink these things. They certainly weren’t going to be any more excited over the stuff that I’d thought about doing two weeks ago and never did, so there we go.

Two more bookmarks are in the works today for the two at my breakfast table. Theirs will be stuffed into new books, so that ought to be worth something. Not that they wouldn’t prefer them to be sticking out of the top of a Lego box, but come on. Speaking of Legos, we saw the movie on Saturday and thought it was terrific. I think Kevin and I laughed more than the kids. Anyway, one of the great points the movie makes [spoiler alert, but not really] is that there are so many creative things to make with those little bricks that aren’t on the instruction pages. True! But then what’s with all the movie tie-in sets? I mean, I know what’s with it — cha ching! — but it really offended my sensibilities.

 

Move ‘em Out

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This year I foolishly ended up with several different types of teacher gifts instead of one good assembly line offering. Well, these things happen. Also, due to the craziness of the girl’s preschool (they follow the same calendar as the elementary school…except when they let out three days early for Christmas break. And finish up in the Spring a week early…and start back in the Fall a week later), we have kind of a rolling delivery schedule going this week. Actually, that worked well with the variety of gift situation, so all’s well that ends well.

Here’s hoping it ends well. I keep remembering more people, and have to shuffle around and make things work. But it’s a good problem — we have a great community!

Anyway, the Wellness Pack — which includes a tissue pack, tea, tasty lozenges, lip balm, hand lotion, and hand sanitizer — from last year made a reappearance for the preschool teachers, but this year I traded in the cumbersome jars for sleek zip-top bags. So much easier to assemble and transport! These are out the door, and we are left with only two more deliveries this week. Things are happening.

Speaking of Apples…

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…my other oldest one didn’t fall far from the tree. This is his creation. Well, it was a team effort, but he designed and stitched it, so it’s his!

At the beginning of December, he brought home a letter explaining that they would be researching a country — in class, and no home research would be allowed — and would then be responsible for creating an ornament (at home) based upon that research. They would also present their findings and their ornament to the class on the 17th. The research paper would be coming home on the 4th. Oh, and the ornament needs to include of a minimum of five materials in its construction. So, I — good mother that I am — signed the letter, posted the info on the fridge, and waited for him to bring home the info and his idea on the 4th.

Fast forward to the 11th, when he casually mentions that the project is due next week. Oh, but wait! Isn’t there supposed to be some paperwork coming home? You say you’ve been carrying it around in your backpack for a week?! And I promise you, it wasn’t until that very moment that I re-read the note and connected the dots: the 4th was a week ago! And the 17th was Tuesday! And we had no ornament!!

Luckily, he had his idea firmly planted in his mind. Our country was Finland, so I was thinking about Lapland reindeer and there is this whole thing about a mean goat. Thank goodness he was stuck on the bird, because it was sure a lot easier.  [According to his research, our Finnish friends traditionally put out a sheaf of wheat for the birds on Christmas; they get to eat first. This was Joey's favorite fun fact.] Best of all, I buckled down and made him do it on Saturday night, so it was good and done come Tuesday.

Clearly, though, I need a better system for my “reminders”.

That’s Me

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When Bridget was a baby, it was widely agreed upon that she looked like a plump and rosy little apple. Once she was about six months old — long past the screaming colicky stage — she reminded my mom and I of the Happy Apple of my youth. With that in mind, I set out to find the perfect little apple ornament for her second Christmas. Man, I searched high and low, but never found anything that fit the bill. Then the thought occurred to me: Hey, Genius — what are you looking for? You MAKE ornaments!!

Riiiight.

So, I made an ornament, and it wasn’t exactly what I’d wanted, but it was much closer than anything I was finding online. Success!

Do you know that blasted little apple was still sitting in my to-do pile, waiting to be finished? Because, you know, adding the loop to the top — that’s hard. Oh my gosh! I have no idea what is wrong with the sorter in my brain! Bridget came across little Apple a couple of weeks ago (and she knew it was an apple, which was another victory) and wondered why it wasn’t finished. Yeah, we’re all wondering the same thing. The next time I was at the work table and it caught my eye, I threaded a needle, ran the twine through, and knotted it up. Jingle BAM! It’s on the tree. And she was so surprised, which was a little hilarious, but these kids know me. But maybe they don’t!

Maybe 2013-14 is finally going to be the year when things get done. Maybe?

Seasons Greetings

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Well, hello.

Needless to say, I seem to have hit one of those patches where I could either do something or talk about doing something, but not both. One of my main goals going into 2014 is pretty much the same as it has been for the past two years: to use what I have, get rid of the rest, and use great care before bringing in any more. This here wreath is actually a good example of putting that plan into action. Last year, I set out to make a new wreath for the front door, but couldn’t settle on anything I really liked. Actually, I thought I was so clever: Instead of just making a pretty yarn wreath, I’d kick it up a notch by finger crocheting the yarn first to give the wreath more texture. Ooh!

And then I saw someone else had the same genius idea; it took the wind out of my sails a little. Yeah, that’s as childish as it sounds, but it’s true. Anyway, this year’s version was inspired by the tinsel wrapped one on Alisa Burke’s [a user-upper extraordinaire] wreath wall. Once I started wrapping the tinsel, though, I realized that I didn’t have enough — this piece was one that didn’t make the cut for going on the mantel — so I went ahead and dug up some chenille yarn to wrap the rest. The trees and star were cut off of the wreath we’ve been using for the past few years. I love the way it turned out, and it would have only taken a day to complete had I not waited an extra week to heat up the hot glue gun.

Heating up the hot glue gun is hard. Almost as hard as whipping up the cookies I started three days ago. We’re not talking plum pudding, here — this should not be taking three days!

Salvaged

Goodness! What a ridiculous couple of weeks it has been.

Long story short: The pre-Easter virus stretched halfway through the week, seemingly went away, and then returned in time to make Easter a little bit of a chaotic bust for half of the household.

The night before Easter, I realized that I hadn’t — how you say? — arranged for the Easter Bunny to stop by our place. Oh, oops.

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Pinterest to the rescue! Whipped these up on the sly and added a couple of treats. The kids were happier than I thought they’d be, so that was a plus.

And lather, rinse, repeat. It just seems like the month of April has been swallowed by little upheavals and I’ve been more easily beset than usual (which is to say: completely off-track.) But we just keep moving forward, right? Yes!

My girl had a Fashion Show/Tea Party Day at her preschool this morning, and I just couldn’t bear to send her in the blasted red satin-y dress that she insists on wearing any time it appears in the closet. Sunday to church? Yes. Monday to Grandma’s? Sure. Thursday to school? By all means. I’ve given up on trying to convince her that it’s a little ridiculous, and I don’t care as much as I used to about people thinking I’m an idiot to let her out of the house that way. I’m all about choosing my battles. I’m also getting pretty good at choosing my weapons; in this case, a sundress. Apparently, sleeveless totally trumps satin.

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I picked this skirt up at Old Navy about a year ago, on clearance, because it was long and pretty and my size. Turns out that it looks horrible on me, but I held onto it in case I had a change of heart. (You know how that goes.) No such luck, but I was pretty sure that I could turn it into a dress for the girl, since it came mid-calf on me.

011Voila! I cut off the top of the skirt — right about the lettuce ruffle edge — and finished the inner edge, which also secured the lining to the outer shell again. Then, I added about twelve rows of shirring. The rows should’ve been spaced further apart, but I only realized that after the first two were done, and well, that was two rows too late for me. Charge on! Lastly, I made straps out of the discarded skirt top, and there you go. Getting the straps placed correctly took about as much time as the whole rest of the process, but it still only took me a couple of hours. Truth be told, it’s a little on the short side, but it’s floaty and fancy and she was thrilled and it was free. Happiness all around!

 

So Late, It’s Early

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True confession: The embroidered Elf Stichette in the center took a while to make. Embroidery always takes longer than I think it will, but it probably would have come together faster had I not left it sit in the bag for one full year. When I took it out, it turned out that only the smile and the cheeks needed to be stitched. Er….

Also: I didn’t even take Joey’s Christmas quilt out of the box this year for fear it would start the “where’s mine?” chorus from the girl. He didn’t notice it’s absence, but I felt badly about it. I knew what I’d done.

Goodness. The pains I’ll go through not to finish something! I’ll tell you, I remember starting this quilt long ago, but I can’t put my finger on exactly how long. It’s been at least two years, but I have a bad feeling that it may have been three. Oh, who cares? It’s done now! I finally pieced it after Thanksgiving, and decided to put the pedal to the metal to get. it. done. a couple of weeks ago.

And — voila! — just like that, I’m officially months and months ahead of the game. The first gift of the Christmas ’13 season is in the bag!

Better Luck Next Time

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There are times when everything comes together, and I really get things done. Then, there are times when it just doesn’t work out; not much gets done.

Well, except these here bags. They got done, but don’t be fooled: they are absolutely not filled with delicious raspberry scones for the kids’ teachers. They should have been, but I didn’t have enough baking powder, and that was that. To quote The Gambler, know when to fold ‘em. Happy Valentine’s Day! I figure they’ll be just as tasty on some random Tuesday down the road, no?

I also arbitrarily decided that Valentine’s Day gifts are the responsibility of the man of the house. (Actually, this was my mom’s assertion, and I grabbed hold of it.) Still, I like the little people of this place to feel special, so this morning I went the heart-shaped-breakfast route. PB and J for the boy, and apples spread with PB for the girl. They did everything but carry me on their shoulders around the living room.

Lesson: Don’t be so hard on yourself! Sometimes a little is enough.

Now I’m off to finish cleaning the kitchen before I mess it up again with some chicken and biscuits for my favoritest guy in the world. Lucky for me, that’s gift enough for him. We really do make a good team.

Getting Ready

Ah, Valentine’s Day. This year, with both kids in school (sort of), it’s double the fun.

After last year’s oh-so-clever stab at using what I had — which failed miserably — I was determined to do better this time around. After some thinking, I remembered that the whole friendship bracelet debacle only went terribly wrong (from a cost standpoint) when I had the bright idea to make them in the school colors…and then had to buy all new floss, thus defeating the whole purpose of coming up with a project that might make a dent in my overflowing supply of odd-colored floss. Doh! Therefore, the plan really could work this year with the girl’s class. Woo hoo!

Here she is, putting the finishing touches on her gifts:

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Hey, she wrote her own name on the backs, too; definitely a team effort. [Idea and template can be found here, by the way.]

And, through the magic of Pinterest, I managed to find another cute idea that doesn’t involve candy. My son’s school doesn’t allow them to bring candy, which is a huge pain, but whatever.

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Although I didn’t have the bouncy balls on hand, I did have everything else (except for a paper folder, hence the flathead screwdriver. I will have a tight crease on that fold!) I think this project is super cute, and am always so grateful to the talented artists who share the darn pdf files for the tags. SUCH a time saver!! Of course, the treat bags that I had were the wrong size, but it was nothing a little creative [off-center] cutting couldn’t fix.

All in all, both projects cost me $4.00, and — better yet! — they’re both done and it’s not 10:00 at night.

Happy Valentine’s Day, indeed.

 

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