The long-overdue what I made for Christmas post

I will confess to playing a bit since the youngest has been home for a long stretch. That will end Sunday, though, and we’re back to boring around here.

I dumped a bunch of photos out of my phone the other day and was reminded that I intended to share what I’d been up to in December. I’ve kept a habit of making the kids something as a gift each year. One year everyone received a booklet of family recipes. It gets a little more challenging the older they become, but I still manage to pull it off.

The oldest received a flannel scarf like this one. A click on the photo will take you to the tutorial.

It was in a great blue to match his eyes. He took one look, said he has a favorite scarf so he wouldn’t be wearing it, and plunked in the pile. I suggested I could keep it as I would wear it, and he gave me the eye and said no. He’d take it with him.

I have the other half of the fabric in the basement and will be making my own anyway.

(FYI. Kids have phases all the way to 25 it seems.)

The youngest received a leather wrap bracelet – three rounds – with a favorite phrase from J. K. Rowling: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” I liked the way it turned out, but the snap I hammered onto the thing was a challenge. I used some dye stamps I’d bought at an estate sale years ago.

(I’ll pop up a photo when the kid comes home from running errands. Didn’t plan ahead very well…) Took one!

The newlyweds received a framed photo of their first dance with the lyrics as the photo mat. I found that one on Pinterest where the version is handwritten, but I used some of the Photoshop I know to do it on the computer instead. (My handwriting is miserable!)

I’m pleased with it. It looks a little wrinkled here but I think it flattened out ok. I don’t know if it’s found a place with them, though, as I haven’t dropped in on them in a while.

Finally, my favorite was a surprise for Son #2. He’s quite a fan of his fireplace, but lamented he was spoiled to a gas starter. I saw a couple of things, combined ideas, and came up with these fire starters.

That’s an egg crate stuffed with some wool lint from the dryer. There’s a cork in the center of each and it’s all held together with some leftover wax from our family candle making days. This photo shows before they were cut apart.

Word is they are fantastic and burn for about ten minutes each. I’m already saving lint for the next batch. (How’s that for mothering love. I save my lint for him.)

You are caught up on Christmas. Now I need to figure out what happened to the entire month of January.

Prepping and pouting

We are readying the house for the last scheduled holiday gathering. In a couple of hours eight girls and eight moms will find there way here for what is becoming an annual gathering. I’m cool with that. The youngest is making brownies. I did my duty by dragging out 16 plates and 16 glasses and the matching stainless. I’m thawing the party-sized lasagna. (Yep. I work that hard.) Oh, and I changed the rabbit’s litter box. That’s real party planning.

There’s nothing like another party to remind you what you meant to get around to before you had people over again. You should see the catastrophe that is piled on the kitchen desk! I usually slop it into a laundry basket and hide it all away, but I have decided to look human. Unless I chicken out. I always love going to someone else’s house that isn’t perfect. Homes should be lived in, don’t you think?

The other thing that happened today is Mom left to head home. I know it was a hard week for her to travel first to Houston and then here. Sometimes it still gets very tender when we talk about Dad. Today it was remembering his chasing moles and gophers and conquering woodpeckers. Mom remembered the last time he dug up a mole he didn’t have the heart to kill it so he put it in a box and drove it a few miles away to find a new home.

Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll forget his voice. It’s a good thing we have all the technology these days. He’s on a video here and there and I can visit when I want.

That’s it for now. I should surface again in a few days. If I don’t get to it again, be safe New Year’s Eve. Here’s to a great 2012.

Gift tags

I’m finally starting to wrap things up around here, so I’ll show you the tags I’m using this year.

Green is to; red is from. Everyone is on there in one place or another.

I used this program to do the search. (Be sure to print the key, too, or you’ll go bonkers looking for them all.) Cut and paste the image to do several on a page and then print them onto card stock.

I’m pleased with the effort. It’s different, but fun, and saves me from writing out tags which is my least favorite thing about wrapping packages.

Checking in a week before Christmas

I’m still here! Hopefully I’ll have a photo of some tags I’ve made later today. But, to be honest, it doesn’t seem very clever to post about everything I’ve been up to lately since some of the recipients might stumble across those items. I’ll be sure to get you full details after the gifts are delivered.

Right now I’m struggling with the idea of what to have for Christmas dinner. We traditionally do a ham from one of those yummy places where you have to stand in line for an hour just to pick the darn thing up. This year I’m toying with the idea of beef Wellington.

I have a tenderloin (that equals the cost of a car payment) in the freezer from my favorite beef guy, and it seems like a good idea to do that instead.

What’s your favorite Christmas dinner? I’ll be honest, I’m trying to stay out of the food this season. I do have a candy cane biscotti I’m going to make today for a hostess treat. Other than that, no baking. No fudge. Not even Grandma’s pecan pralines.

I can remember years when the kids were young that I’d spend a full week in the kitchen. No more. The oldest did say he had plans for a geodome gingerbread house. I’m thinking the oldest is quite nuts.

That’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll pop up a photo later if I get some wrapping done.

As easy as pulling the cork.

That’s what they want you to believe, anyway. I will argue there are a couple of very colorful phrases and at least one moment of exasperation involved.

Yes, it’s another Pinterest project. This time I chose a small bulletin board made of corks. (Did I mention I have a few of those?) Here’s a visual reference for now:



You might notice a certain someone said “want” below that.

Easy. Choose a frame, grab a bag of corks, heat up the glue gun.

Or not.

Now there are a dozen such board ideas floating around out there. Most of the instructions are about that easy. A clever young thing shows you a billion pictures of her finding just the right frame and attaching the corks. Without burning her fingers, I might add. (I haven’t fired up a glue gun in maybe five years. The technique is mostly still there, but there were a couple of close calls.) However, stubborn Cindy is determined to approach this crafting revival without spending a dime in new materials. That means I had to use a frame I already possessed. I have dozens! However, not one was in the size necessary to arrange my corks without cutting a few. And of course, that was more difficult than I planned.

I eventually decided a herringbone pattern would be a good match for the frame’s size. Away I went laying out the pattern inside the frame I chose. I wanted to make sure it would work, so I didn’t take out the picture and glass before making the pattern just in case. In the end, I pulled the backing off a piece of contact paper I had in my stash and laid it over the corks to save the pattern. I flipped the frame over, and disaster. About a third of the corks ran over the table and onto the floor.

Colorful phrase one left my lips.

I persevered. I cut corks, I sanded cork ends, and finally, I had a project ready to put to the backing with hot glue. Except the hot glue didn’t want to stick the cardboard backing to the frame, so I used Elmer’s glue all for that. And then it wasn’t sticking fast enough so I grabbed some clamps.

I heard my dad’s voice say, “You can never have too many clamps.” It made me tear up a bit. But you know what? He’s right. I could have used a couple more small ones.

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So that’s the almost finished project. I’m pleased. I think a certain someone will be, too.