Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!!!

Oh my stars, what happened to the last 10 days? I hope your holidays have been as full as mine. If you are like me though, you're ready for "real life" to return. With a most sincere heart I wish you a Happy New Year! May blessings and lessons be showered on you!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Simple Baby Card

More and more I find myself drawn to clean lines and simple images. This is one of the first cards that looks like what I had pictured in my mind. I tend to use a lot of ink and have always liked "dirty" or shabby looks, but this clean and simple thing might be more up my alley. Sure didn't take long to make!

I used Bashful Blue Craft ink to stamp the square with Great Shapes. The sentiment is stamped in Chocolate Chip and is from the Graceful Words set. I used the "Welcome Little One" stamp from Riveting, stamped it with Bashful Blue Craft ink, then punched it out with the 1-1/2" circle punch, filled the centre in with a button from Fresh Favourites. I added a bit of glitter with a Sakura clear gel pen and found the soft blue ribbon in my stash. The paper is gorgeous Fabriano Medieovalis, wonderful to stamp on and work with. All supplies from Stampin' Up! unless otherwise noted.

I have a card to make as a thank you to a friend who picked up a bookshelf for us earlier this year. I have a bunch of Tim's gift certificates to put in it but I just seem a bit stumped with the card. Hopefully I can get it together tonight and post for you tomorrow. Today is cleaning day around here, the kids and I go to get our hair cut (and a bit of colour for me) this afternoon, and then tonight I am meeting a couple of girlfriends for dinner. Only 4 more sleeps!!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gingerbread Joy

I have a lot to share today! Obviously these are pics of our gingerbread construction session. All I can say is "Hail the Costco buyers" for bringing in these $9.99 kits. We had a great time putting this together and there wasn't even any icing to mix, just a bag to submerge in warm water for a short period of time. Everyone worked cooperatively and we are quite pleased with the results, it even smells like gingerbread in here! Georgia did have some trouble during the assembly. "The candies keep falling in my mouth, Mommy!" Darn gravity. Never works the way we want it to.

New topic: Olivia's piano recital. Olivia played on Sunday afternoon at her Christmas recital. She chose to play "Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine" and "O Come, All Ye Faithful." Okay, I know this is going to sound like your typical mother bragging session but can I just say that this child oozes talent? She is this cool little cucumber who walks on the stage and plays like she has been doing this her whole life. This is her second year of lessons and I am so delighted with what she has accomplished. She finished her Suzuki Book One at the end of November so will be moving on to new things after Christmas. The recital was piano and violin. Here's the thing: Sophie wants to play the violin. The violin is a pain-inducing instrument if the recital we listened to is an accurate measure of what we can expect. Gary and I both have well-trained musical ears and we were cringing at some of the pitch issues. Sophie seems to have excellent pitch, based on her singing voice, but I'm not sure if we're up to this or not. We'll have to wait and see on that one.

Packages are mailed, including a Neighbourhood Round Robin cross stitch piece that is winging its way to Pam (if you're reading this, Pam, it was sent express post on Monday night). Tonight is my last night of music lessons before the break. I have some more baking to do and wrapping has yet to begin but I feel a sense of peace about this whole season. The Sunday School class I was teaching ended on Sunday and it was just excellent prep leading into Christmas in understanding why Jesus came and the beauty of God's plan of redemption woven through Scripture. Good stuff! No, perfect stuff!

I'll have a baby card to share tomorrow for some friends of ours in Ontario. You start to feel a bit old when your friend's children start having babies...

Monday, December 18, 2006

'Twas the Monday before Christmas

and all through the house, all the children were hyper, you couldn't hear a mouse. The stockings were hung with lackluster care, in hopes that Miss Sophie would stop sticking things in there.

Seriously, the girl checks her stocking every morning, "just in case." We are full tilt into our last week of Christmas prep. All the Sunday school teachers have been given their tins of caramel corn, Christmas cards (22) were stuffed into church mailboxes yesterday morning, and stocking stuffers were purchased last night at the now 24/7 Walmart. I have yet to mail my packages or out of town cards, a little backwards, but hope to get those things out in the next day or so. We have a gingerbread kit ready to be assembled sometime today and I have a bit more baking to do, stuff we will keep instead of giving away. The only thing in question is the state of our laundry. Last time I checked, it still hadn't learned how to do itself.

I bought some Mod Podge yesterday at Walmart. I have some biggish chipboard projects in mind that I plan to use it for. Not sure if I will get to play with it before Christmas or not but a pot of glue?? How cool!

Wishing you joy, love and peace as you enter into this last week before Christmas!

Friday, December 15, 2006

{Bethlehem Journey}

Wednesday night's tour of Bethlehem was so neat! The kids did a great job remembering their lines (Noah and Olivia had a lot to remember!) and Sophie looked angelic (remember...looks can be deceiving!). It's always exciting to see the kids dressed up and part of something. Especially as homeschooled children, I just love to see them jump in and be part of the group. Let me tell you, my four bash all of those "socialization" fears right out of the water. They are in there like a bunch of dirty shirts!

Such a timely production, this drama really was an encouragement to me to follow the star, to chase after something more in Christmas than what the mall has to offer. We just returned from our weekly Costco trip and had to stop by the mall downtown for a couple of things (including an adorable coat for my youngest girl, but I digress...). I remember standing in our kitchen a few Christmasses ago, preparing breakfast for my family, thinking that it wasn't that much different than any other day. I was struck then at how meaningless and trivial it could all seem without the eternal value of celebrating the Christ child. Jesus has always been part of my Christmas but that was a moment of adult clarity, of knowing that the gifts were all opened, the food would soon be consumed, and hours of work would be exchanged for a few minutes of holiday fun. How very thankful I am that Christmas follows me through the year, that the Bethlehem star is one I chase every day, and that the baby born so many years ago didn't just come to give us a good December celebration, that His primary focus was, in fact, our Easter redemption. I hope your Christmas is about more than what you can find in the mall, even more than you can find at Hallmark!

I have to show you a pic of these cookies I made. I'm not sure what drove me to try this magazine recipe (the current Canadian Living) except that I had a few lemons in the new fridge. These might be the only "Martha moment" I have this year. I was thinking about that as I garnished these beauties yesterday and decided that Martha likely would have made her bed. Please note: they taste as good as they look!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Tags and a Card for Fun

It was so nice to sit down last night and get a few of these gift tags out of the way. I am pretty good at making sure we have enough wrapping paper in the house via end of season sales. Gift tags, ribbons, etc. always seem superfluous...until I'm wrapping a gift. Not this year! I got the jump on these tags last night while relaxing with my dh. After I had finished making about 16-20 of them, I felt like watercoloring something so I stamped the house and decided to make a card just for fun. This won't be one I'll mass produce, too much time, but I really like how it turned out. We have a gingerbread house kit waiting for assembly, maybe tomorrow. All supplies are from Stampin' Up, except for the cardstock for the gingerbread card. That is stamped on some yummy Fabriano Medioevalis paper I ordered from StarLit Studio.

Tonight is a Christmas play at church. My oldest two each have a fairly significant speaking role and Sophie is an angel (typecasting, I know). It is an interesting format. There are 5 times of 3 "travellers" who will take groups on an "interactive tour of Bethlehem." The "travellers" (Noah and Olivia are both cast in one of these roles) have a dialogue that they perform while escorting a group through the church to various locations (ie. Bethlehem Inn, the census registry, the manger, etc.). They've had extra practices for several weeks for the speaking parts and we have been rehearsing at home. Energies are high here today!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Evidence of wildlife?

In the last two weeks we've had a lot of snow. I know, that shouldn't surprise me, this IS Saskatchewan, after all. It seems like this is the land of extremes. We had a gorgeous fall and in a matter of just a few days we were rudely catapulted right into winter. Frozen rain followed by deep freeze temperatures. Driving around the city you would think that we imported our citizens from a tropical country, such is the icy road amnesia that afflicts a good portion of the population every time fresh snow falls. I prefer to stay in.

When I do have to venture out, however, it's always a bit of a thrill to see the brilliant diamonds sparkling on yards where the snow is untouched. A sheet of white blankets yards connecting houses in an uninterrupted twinkling whiteness. Over the past few days, temperatures have begun to rise but most yards remain pristine. Except ours. As my husband said on our way to church yesterday morning, "It looks like a herd of buffalo stormed across our front yard!" Happy to say the rest of the neighbourhood, save for the corners of one or two lots, remains in perfect snow sheet condition. I think I've seen this particular herd before. They are the same creatures that track loads of sand across my kitchen floor during the warmer months. Peculiar migratory patterns but I think we'll just let them continue on. Our lot may not look as pretty but it's all evidence of fun.

Friday, December 8, 2006

"Isn't She Lovely" or Thank You, Stevie Wonder

This isn't the shot I was going for. I was trying different settings with the camera, pretending I know a lot more about it than I actually do. Quite honestly, I was a bit annoyed that this particular 4-year old couldn't leave me to do "my stuff" for a few minutes so I tried to snap around her. And then this is what I upload. If I could freeze her right now, at this very age and stage of cuteness, I would be very tempted to do so. Thanks, Stevie Wonder. What other song could I have going through my head looking at this photo?

Several envelopes are addressed. I'm beginning to think this Christmas card confession was good for more than the soul. Canada Post, lick your chops, I just might be contributing to your bottom line this year. I bought 4 lbs. of butter at Costco today in preparation for the Caramel Corn production line of 2006. At last count there were 12 gift tins to be filled. I'm off to look through my stamp sets for possible tag images to finish off these festive tins.

Just a warning: tomorrow is Saturday. A Saturday in December. Avoid shopping if you can. It's just not worth the aggravation and there is no possible way you will find the perfect gift. Even if you did, I'm sure someone would ram you with a cart. I'm telling you, it's not worth it. Stay home. Make some hot chocolate. Make a shopping list if you must. Just don't risk catching the wrong kind of Christmas spirit.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Tie me down!

This Christmas resolve is getting out of control! I finished, yes I did say finished, assembling those Christmas cards last night. Now comes the hard part though...writing in them, addressing the envelopes and mailing them out. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting down last night and putting them together. Of course, I can't post a pic here. That would ruin the surprise. Just trust me, it's cute! We zoomed through school this morning so we could do a good cleaning/rearranging of the living room before lunch. This afternoon the kids and I put up the tree, decorated it, and put out the Christmas ornaments. Such fun memories and it was delightful to see my four working together as a team. Makes me a wee bit sparkly excited.

Growing up, we always did exactly the same thing on the tree decorating day. We drove out to this trailer park north of the river, picked out a tree, shoved it in the trunk of the car, and thanked the man in the coveralls for the Christmas orange. We'd come home, get the tree set up in the living room, and have a dinner of chili and bread. Then, after the dishes were done, we'd decorate. A couple hours later the tree would fall down and we would reassemble. I'm quite serious when I say every year. My parents are like that.

Last night, my husband and I were discussing our schedule over the next few weeks, deciding when school would end before the holidays (we homeschool), and he suggested that the kids and I decorate the tree today. There were a number of reasons why I initially thought that wasn't a good idea but I didn't verbalize them. Mostly, I thought this should be an evening event, I should be making some chili, is a girl even ALLOWED to string the lights on the tree?? By lunch today, with four very eager children, I knew that his suggestion was a great one. We have few evenings free over the next couple of weeks and we really want to relax when those do happen. While Gary enjoys the end product, I'm not sure that it makes or breaks his Christmas to unwrap each and every little treasure. I've got four happy children, currently watching Elf, who can hardly wait to show their Daddy what a good job they did. I should listen to my husband. At least once a year.

Pictures to follow when I capture that elusive beautiful tree shot.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Christmas Card Confessions

I have wanted to make Christmas gifts for years but rarely get the time to do so. I haven't received many homemade gifts either but, when I do, they are absolute treasures. I hope the things I give this year will be able to convey how I feel about the recipients. These bracelets are my late night work from last night. I bought bracelet kits from 7gypsies, used Crate Paper and BG Fruitcake, and Crystal Effects. It was so much easier than I thought! If they don't want them, I'll gladly take them back. Especially the Christmassy one, I think it's my favourite.

I'm determined to not let this Christmas stuff get complicated but to also not let this year go by without doing the special things I want to do. Enter the Christmas card secret I've kept hidden for some time. Deep breath....I haven't sent out cards since 1999. What's worse is that I spent a small fortune on supplies for cards 2 years ago, made the cards but didn't assemble them. There are 40 of them. They're cute. It wouldn't take a long time to put them together. Deep breath. I can do this. If you would like to be on my list and think I don't have your address, please email it to me and we'll work it out. This Christmas or next. For sure.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Mornings are too early

We're at that time of year here in the serene north where daylight hours are precious and few. The sun doesn't rise until about 9:00 AM and my children usually rise earlier than that. The sun sets before 5:00 PM. It is the time of year of much yawning and coffee, my chosen performance enhancing substance. It's either that or go to bed early. Who would want to do that? The hours after bedtime for the younger set in this household are blessedly quiet and demand-free. I can fold laundry at my leisure. Read a book quietly. Work on my Bible studies. Have a cold drink that I don't have to share. Talk to my husband (should that be further up the list than laundry, likely so). Watch a television show without a cutesy theme song and a talking animal.

Crafting, both cross stitch and paper crafting, speaks to my need to create in those late hours. After a full day of endless tasks (aforementioned laundry, meal prep and dishes, housework, child washing) and demands on me to teach and engage (wonderful activities, I know), I crave a little time to use another part of my brain. To use my hands to make something lovely instead of something loving. Just for a while. That's what fulfills the "me me me" that feels need to be heard. I've been thinking about this as I know there are some who think that, at this stage, outside pursuits are frivolous, that all energies should be focused on children and homemaking. Indulge me for a moment as I work with this it possible that this need to create comes from being made in the image of our Creator? The Genesis account of Creation attests to the diversity of what God made. All things were purposeful but, maybe some creation was for the purpose of beauty and His enjoyment? I heard a cool sermon once (that's about as specific as my memory is of late) that we will never be satisfied here because we were, in the image of God, designed for perfection. I wonder about the connection between this and the need to make something with our hands, something that just speaks to that desire of beauty, symmetry, loveliness.

Okay, serious need for coffee. Above is a card I made a week or two ago with a new Stampin Up! set. The heart is chipboard that I covered in patterened paper and then sanded the edges. The buttons are SU! and the matted edges were distressed with...wait for it...the edge of my fingernail. Enjoy!

Monday, December 4, 2006

{Big learning curve}

I've never been quick to embrace "the latest" in anything. I'm thinking I would have been one of the ones to say that television was "just a fad." In the last month or so we've purchased both a digital camera and a new computer. A MAC no less. Can you say "big learning curve?" I feel like parts of my regular routine--checking email, posting on message boards, even checking the weather--require a lot more brain power than they did just in October. I wonder if it's a waste to have this fancy machine and not know much about it. Then I see a digital pic like this and I wonder what we were thinking in delaying.

These hands belong to my 9-year old. The photo was taken at Agribition, a huge agriculture and livestock exhibition we spent a day at just over a week ago. The chicken people have a nifty display of newborn chicks that they allow the children to hold and my 4 are fascinated by this. However, this photo is not really about the chick for me. It's those hands. Those hands that I inspected when they were just a few hours old, counting the fingers and marvelling at their perfection. Those hands that started to hold things, those little fingers that curled around mine. Those hands that were washed countless times in a day after eating finger food (like spaghetti), playing in the dirt, and touching everything they could. Those hands that slipped into mine to cross a busy street. Those hands that curled around a pencil to write a name for the first time, to form the letters of the alphabet. Those same hands now play guitar, write whole stories, have the ability to hold a lot of candy at a time. They rarely slip into mine to cross a street anymore and he can wash them himself, although not always as thoroughly as I would like. I am the mother of those hands and the half grown person that is attached to them. I still love those hands.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Here's a pic of what I've been working on:

These terrific tins are from Maya Road, all stamped images are Stampin' Up. These will be gifts for the children of special friends. I'm really pleased with how they turned out.

Falling headlong into blogdom

Okay, I wasn't going to do this. I mean, really, is there need on this planet for another blog? I've always loved to write and I'm enjoying reading a number of blogs out there. It feels like I'm eavesdropping without opening up some of my own thoughts I go.

My purpose here...hmmmm...I'm not sure what that is. I'm a wife, mother, homeschooler, Bible teacher, friend, crafter, musician, reader, get the picture, a normal woman wearing many different hats. Some days they fit better than others. What I do know is that life continues to fascinate and frustrate me, that I've been incredibly blessed, and that I love to learn...sometimes the hard way. If you decide to drop by here, I hope you'll feel as though you've been invited to my kitchen table, for an honest conversation, some good hot coffee, and that you leave feeling that your time was not wasted.