Archive for January, 2011

Christmas Past – Part Two

As I posted yesterday, every ornament on my Christmas tree has special meaning.  Here are some ornaments that were handmade by others.

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This ornament dates back to college.  It was my name tag from sorority rush final party of the sorority I pledged.  Yes, I am an Alpha Chi Omega!  There was so much work put into this and the following year I learned just how much when I made these same name tags for the Rushees.  It is very similar to the Alpha Chi Omega pin.  The names were written in gold on the black banner.

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I taught school for three years and during that time I received a lot of Christmas ornaments as gifts.  This one was made especially for me.  The little clothespin horse has numbers painted on him because I taught math.

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This is another ornament given to me by one of my students.  Because she knew I crocheted, she asked her grandmother to make this especially for me.

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This ornament was made by my daughter when she was in kindergarten.  It is one of those made with applesauce and cinnamon.  Even after all these years it still smells wonderfully of cinnamon.

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Here is another ornament my daughter made at school from a pipe cleaner and pony beads.

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I picked this little Santa up at a craft show.  My orignal intention was to make some of these myself as little presents for my Brownie Girl Scouts.  (I must confess I never got them made!)  It is open on the back and a flat lollipop can be inserted.  It makes a darling favor.  My Mom served as room mother for several years when I was in grade school.  I guess that has something to do with why I still find I’m drawn to such adorable little items.

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This is the first fuse bead project that my son completed.  All of the colored beads were placed on the bead form by his little fingers.  I added the clear ones so that I could fuse the project together and keep it forever.  Fuse beads were a huge thing with my daughter who attended so many Girl Scout Camps we lost track of the number.  I found them fascinating too.  During one of our craft sessions, my son wanted to be included as well.  The remarkable thing about this ornament was that my son created it when he was only about 18 months old!

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My son’s Godmother made this ornament of my children for our tree.  I never knew exactly how she had done it but when we got together this past Christmas she revealed her secret.  I can’t wait to try it out for myself!

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In 2001, my Mom’s church’s youth group made Liberty Bells in remembrance of 9/11.  She gave one of these ornaments to my daughter, my son, and me for our trees.  They are made from tiny inverted flower pots that were painted with acrylics.  And they actually ring!

Christmas Past

“When Christmas is over we take down the Christmas tree.”

That was my line in the Christmas program at church when I was in second grade.  I don’t remember much else about that program, probably because I was concentrating so hard so that I wouldn’t forget my line.  And that’s also probably why I still remember it today!

I’m always very busy with my consulting business at year end so I don’t worry so much about taking down my Christmas decorations.  Plus, I hate how bare the house looks when I do.  My goal usually is to have everything packed up and returned to the attic by Martin Luther King Day.

I love my Christmas tree.  Every decoration has special meaning.  As I was taking it down this year, I decided to take pictures of many of the ornaments and document their origins.  I’ve become very involved in genealogy this past year and one of the recommendations I’ve uncovered was to create some sort of written legacy for family heirlooms.  When we decorate the tree, it is a family event and I repeat the stories about the ornaments as we hang them on the tree.  However, years from now will my children and grandchildren remember them?

I decided to start with the ornaments that I hand made myself.

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I made quite a number of these felt ornaments from scraps and sequins I had on hand when I was still in school.  I didn’t have a lot of money so my Mom and Grandmothers all got half a dozen or so different ornaments similar to these for their trees.

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I searched and searched for patterns and when I finally found them, I hand crocheted these snowflakes.  They were then dipped in fabric stiffener to hold their shape and pinned to wax covered cardboard to dry.

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This little fan was made from lace from my first prom dress.  Again fabric stiffener was used so that the fan would hold its shape.  I got the idea from my Mom who at the time was making adorable floral hat and fan magnets that she was selling at a craft shop.

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Another felt ornament.  This was from a much larger pattern that I reduced in size.  I think I made 100 of these the year my daughter was born.  I put one in every Christmas card that I sent out.

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What crafter hasn’t done at least one project with plastic canvas?  This was a little gift box with a flocked teddy bear that I copied from another crafter.  I made a number of these which I gave as gifts.  I also made some of those “squeeze my cheeks and I’ll give you a kiss” ornaments.  When he was little, my son fell in love with that one and absconded with it for his own tree.

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This is a set of hand painted ceramic ornaments I made when I was doing ceramics.  The workshop where I spent a lot of my time allowed crafters to pour their own ceramics.  I made these right about the time my friends and I were all getting married.  I gave several sets of ornaments that I had made as wedding presents.

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This is set of those stained glass style ornaments where you fill the sections with colored pellets and then bake them in the oven.  I made these the year we were living in an apartment while our house was being built.  We originally had a contract on a different house that was supposed to be finished well before Christmas.  When that didn’t work out, we ended up living in the apartment much longer than expected.  All our Christmas decorations were in storage so we made do with a small tree my parents gave to us and decorations that we made.

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This little Santa was made from a kit at one of our Girl Scout Troop meetings.  We made a number of ornaments over they years and my daughter has several of them in her collection.  Some, such as the reindeer made from dog biscuits, didn’t survive.  One year, much to my dismay, moths somehow found their way into the ornament box and had themselves a feast on the biscuits.

His First “Machine” Project

In my last post, I mentioned that my son had learned to use my sewing machine when he was in the 5th grade.  I thought I’d share his project.

The school assignment had something to do with westward expansion and pioneers but the details escape me.  Social Studies has never been one of his favorite subjects.  In fact, he thought he could escape this project simply by not doing it!  A note from the teacher quickly remedied that.

He had a choice to build a model of a bridge or to make a carrying bag.  He immediately dismissed the bridge.  Then with some guided brain storming he came up with a fun idea to make the project more interesting.

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He located an old pair of jeans and I helped him out by drawing sewing and cutting lines to guide him.  Then we located a bandana from which to make the carrying strap.  And of course he used the scraps for the added “belt’ decoration.

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So maybe it wasn’t exactly like what the pioneers might have carried, but much like the pioneers, he did create it from items he had on hand!

Can’t Resist the Allure of a Sewing Machine

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The Infamous T-Shirt Quilt required a lot of hours at my sewing machine.  It was just a matter of time before my creative son would once again be drawn to it.  Emphasis on “machine”. 

He had already learned to use my sewing machine in fifth grade.  His teacher had assigned a project where the students could build a model of a bridge or sew a carrying bag.  I believe that she thought that the bridges would appeal to the boys and the bags would appeal to the girls.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  But that is another story for another day.

There were quite a number of squares left over from the quilt project.  My son decided he wanted to make his sister a pillow to go with her quilt.  He carefully selected the squares he wanted to use and painstakingly layed them out.  With just a bit of guidance he quickly remembered the skills from his earlier project and soon had all the squares sewn together.   He did ask me for help with ironing the seams.  For some reason he didn’t find the iron as alluring as the sewing machine.  Perhaps because it was missing that all important word, “machine”?

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It wasn’t long before he had it all sewn together, turned and ready to stuff.  That was probably the most painful part.   We didn’t have a pillow form but we did have quite a bit of batting left.  Before he could stuff the pillow, he had to take the time to shred and refluff the batting — an annoying delay in his mind.

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Having fulfilled his creative needs and now out of patience, he appealed to me to complete the final step.  I obliged him and sewed the opening closed.  Again, I think it had more to do with the lack of the word “machine” when it came to “needle” and “thread”.  Still, he had done nearly all the work.

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And it was exhausting!

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It was a very proud little brother that presented his sister with his labor of love on Christmas morning.

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They really DO love each other!

The Infamous T-Shirt Quilt

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It’s been a long time coming.  Years, as a matter of fact.  Ever since I discovered HGTV in 1996.  I’ve been saving my daughter’s special t-shirts.  And did she have them!  Schools, softball, Girl Scouts, camps, dance, special presents, special events…  Once she outgrew them it was hard to toss those memories away.

The original plan was for me to turn them into a quilt for her high school graduation.  She’s half way through her sophomore year in college so obviously that didn’t happen!  And then I blew it again when she thought I was going to surprise her the Christmas of her freshman year.  I knew I couldn’t let another Christmas pass by without making it happen, so as soon as she left to go back to school after Thanksgiving, I set to work.

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T-Shirts all cut to size and ready to be sewn together.

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All sewn together!  The small squares in between are from a project that Girlie Girl and I were going to do together back when she was about 10 years old and first learned to use a sewing machine.  Again, another one of those things that never seemed to get done!

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Snickers issuing his pre-approval!

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The actual quilt itself is for a queen size bed.  I used a king size sheet for the backing and two layers of quilt batting.  It was so big and heavy, I had to put my sewing machine on the floor and and enlist the aid of my husband to help me guide and turn it to get all the layers sewn together.

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Trimming the edges!

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Voila!  It’s finished!

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Oh yeah, Snickers approves!

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Christmas Morning!

One down and one to go…  At least I have 6 more years before my son goes off to college…  Or do I?

Creativity Takes Many Forms

I have been missing in action again!  Well at least from my blogs…

The holidays were wonderful although they flew by.  My daughter was home from college for two weeks before she was off again.  This time on an excursion to New York City.  My son enjoyed two weeks of sleeping in and lots of online gaming time.  Except for the snow days, our life is back to normal.  Well sort of…

Amongst all the hustle and bustle of year end, I decided to take on a new endeavor.  Yes, another one! 

This tax season, you’ll find me creating print outs as I prepare tax returns at H&R Block!  While it’s not quite the same as scrapbooking, in a way it is — capturing our year in numbers and then saving it for future reference? 

And you didn’t think taxes could be fun!

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