Thursday, December 29, 2011

Freedom to make Choices

     Over a month ago now Ken made the startling decision to give up Mountain Dew and drink Coffee instead (with plenty of cream but no sugar). This has been strange to me because ever since I have known him he has had a Mountain Dew addiction (When we were in college together he would come in the mornings with his Mt Dew and a Honey Bun for his very unhealthy breakfast) and neither of us have ever drank or even liked coffee. That said I was and am pleased as can be over his decision! Mt Dew is not good for you nor is it cheap (even though I would try to buy it when on sale)- Coffee, thought not at all what I would consider a health food/drink, is better on both accounts.

   This got me thinking again on the choices that all of us make in life. It is interesting to think about all the choices we make financially. Whether they are thoughtful or thoughtless choices- we do make choices.

     In our lives we have chosen to stay away from Tobacco and Alcohol (easy choices for us as that was the way we were raised) which are expensive and contribute to health problems which are also expensive. We also have chosen to generally avoid pop/soda (a new decision on Ken's part! ) which is not good for you and costs a lot. On the other hand we have chosen to enjoy Downhill skiing each winter which is also somewhat expensive and some would argue that it also could be hazardous to our health (though as long as we don't have an accident the fresh air would be good for our health!). This is a choice we have made- one made thoughtfully and together.

 Another choice I have made is to spend very little on clothing for our family. Instead I find ways to cloth my family by using what we have or are giving, buying second hand or on sale for the most part. On the other hand I made a choice to buy a quality sewing machine this year when my old one bit the dust. Those choices fit our lifestyle and where in harmony with what is important to me.

   I think being thoughtful in what choices you make is a huge part of managing your finances. It is fun when you realize that you have the freedom to choose. That when I choose to not spend in some area that will free up money in another area. We have the freedom to look at the amount of money coming in and prioritize the use of it in a way that works best for our family.

  I am very thankful for the country that we live in, a God that so bountifully provides for us and all the fun choices that we can make!

 I pray that we all will make wise choices!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Slippers for Megan

  I made slippers for Megan for Christmas and they have been well worn since. It is always fun when you know for sure that the recipient of a gift you have made really likes the gift! The slippers are the ones pictures above. They were quite fast and easy to make. I was inspired by this post at Zoom Yummy. I didn't follow the directions exactly but I did look them over and then did it on my own from there.

Do you have any homemade gifts that you have given or received that have been well loved?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

From our family to yours....... Merry Christmas!
We had a great day- I hope you did as well.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
  “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Luke 2:8-15

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gingerbread Creations on the First Day of Winter

 Yesterday afternoon my sister Keren came over and we had fun making a gingerbread house and church building. It was the first time that we done it and we were quite happy with the success. I don't have a lot of time to write today so I will just show you plenty of pictures instead.....

Yesterday was the first day of winter and we were bemoaning a bit or lack of snow- it did start coming down a little during the day and then through the night about an inch came down and it looks lovely and white outside! What a fun surprise!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Holiday Week

 Well I had thought I would do a handmade Christmas post yesterday (even though I officially ended the series last week) but it didn't end up happening. We were working on this instead:
-Getting our Christmas letters and pictures out in the mail. I am sure these will be late for quite a few of our friends but oh well. I had run into trouble trying to get pictures, I ordered 60 and they sent me one- and thankfully we have more than one friend so that wasn't going to work, and then I was so busy I almost decided not to send a letter at all but then I had a little more time and found a good deal on pictures so we decided to put one together after all. We worked hard yesterday morning and got about all of them out the door before the mail man arrived around noon.

 It is a fun family project with lots of jobs available. We create our own fancy paper by stamping on it, then they have to be folded. We also use our envelopes made out of calendars so they need labels attached and stamps and then the letter and picture inserted and then they have to be taped closed. As we would get a few done somebody would run them out to the mailbox so that as many as possible would go in that days mail. Most of them we sent with just the typed letter and the picture but to some we spent the time to write personal letters as well.

  We decided to take this whole week off from school (even though the public school around here doesn't get off until Friday) so that we could work on projects and other fun things. We do still have been doing school like activities though with all the letter writing and then we are still doing all our educational reading, we have been concentrating harder on music (as the kids are going to help play for Sunday church service) and lots of sewing and stuff which is also educational.

 Yesterday afternoon we were busy working on various projects. Aaron finished up a rag doll that he was making for Megan (with my help), Jonathan made some leather luggage tags for Ken (with some assistance from me), Mara worked on a book of stories and poems that she has written and Megan had fun making a mess various projects from pipe cleaners and foam sheets. Meanwhile I was working on making some photo books. Looking back I am not quite sure why I chose that activity as it has nothing to do with getting ready for Christmas- so if later in the week I am feeling frazzled (I hope not!) please feel free to remind me that I chose to work on photo books on Tuesday. :-)

Here are some other things that we have worked on lately:

Mara made a bracelet making kit to give to Megan (she has really admired and loved to use one that Mara was given earlier.
 I made little Candy Cane mice to give to my music students.
 This project was inspired by my friend Emily who made some last year.
 I have also been working on some knitting and crocheting- socks for the boys (I learned how to make heels- no thanks to the pattern- and I am rather excited about it!) and slippers for Megan.

The kids have been busily into decorating still. Paper chains being their decoration of choice. They had made some in class at church and Megan (and sometimes the boys) have been busily making them ever since. She made a really long one and started to string it across the dining room at about 2 feet off of the ground. I thought maybe it would work better in a little different spot so I helped her to string it across the hallway ceiling.
Since then she and the boys have busily added many paper decorations (chains, paper lanterns, etc) to the hallway and some in the bedrooms too. It has become a little interesting to navigate but it is certainly festive!

 Anyway- that is some of what has been going on around here. We have also been playing lots of games when Ken is home. We love our family time together and this sort of weather gets us in the mood for games. We are also hoping that we might get more snow- it has been pretty minimal so far this year.

I may not post much more this week- but then again maybe I will a bunch- you never can tell! :-)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

13 years of marriage- To God be the Glory!

" Jesus replied, "Have you not read that in the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and he said: Man has now to leave father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body? So they are no longer two but one body; let no one separate what God has joined." Matthew19:4-6

Ken and I are blessed to be celebrating 13 years of marriage today. I am so thankful that God designed marriage!
We had fun celebrating our Anniversary by going skiing yesterday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Enjoying Children's Artwork without it being Clutter

This display was during our Alphabet Adventures.
(I didn't have any recent pictures and couldn't take any just now as we just emptied it.)
Clutter is something we have to constantly deal with around here. With a family of 6 it seems to be able to multiply quite quickly. Whenever I can find a good system for dealing with a source of clutter that is a big blessing!

  For most all families with young children one source of potential mess is artwork and crafts. It might be from Classes at Church, Pre-school or school or even if your children are homeschooled like ours you might like us have some prolific artists like we do. Whatever the case with your family it is likely that you also have or need a way to deal with lots of artwork.

 Here is a system that we came up with that works quite well for us:

We created a display area in our hallway by nailing up some ribbon and adding some painted clothespins. In this area we can hang a lot of artwork. It can be admired and appreciated and then when it gets full we can do one of the following......

  • Take really special items write the name and approximate date on them and put them in my folder that I have for each child in my file cabinet. Or you might want to frame a few and give them a permanent location.
  • Send pictures off in letters to Grandpas and Grandmas, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins and anybody else you might be writing. People love letters and if you include a bit of news too- this will surely brighten somebody's day. They can then discard or save them as they please.
  • Use big artwork for wrapping paper or turn it into some other sort of craft.
  • RECYCLE the rest.
It is a pretty easy system that works well. The kid's are happy to have their pictures appreciated but yet we don't have to keep them around forever unless we really want to.

  I have been enjoying reading through some of the posts on 31 Day's to an Organized Home over at The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking. You might enjoy them too.

What do you do with kid's artwork or anything else that seems to pile up fast? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Handmade Christmas Week 11 {Crafts for Children}

 I think one of my favorite things about Christmas is the fun times that I have crafting with my children. We craft throughout the year but we do more of it at this time and we do have fun making special surprises for others and that is always fun.
Even while Mega was sick (and wearing PJ's) we had fun doing some crafting.
We were working on a snowflake inspired by this blog.

Here are some of the kid friendly things we have been making lately, maybe you would enjoy doing them with your kids too.

Bird Feeder Pine Cones

 These are quite easy, inexpensive, fun and fairly practical. So several things are going for this project. It can also be a bit messy- so I will warn you on that account- but messy is often pretty fun!

  Around here it is pretty easy to gather pine cones from the woods. If that is not the case for you then this might not work as well.

  After you gather the pine cones then attach something to hang them with (we used yarn or ribbon- you could also use wire). Then take your pine cone and spread peanut butter all over it. (This is the messy part!) Then roll them in birdseed. That is all it takes. They are then done and ready to hang. If you want to give them away then you will want to wrap them in something to keep the stickiness from going everywhere! I used some cellophane wrappers that my flowers come in and cut them up and then wrapped the pine cones up in them.
 Frosty Pine Cone Ornaments/Decorations
These are really simple to make- you simply brush some glue on your pine cones and then roll them in Epsom salts. Then you can display them just like that or add something to hang them with (we used wire ornament hangers or ribbon) and then if you want you can also glue on a pretty little bow as we did.

Nativity Scene from Recycled Products

 On the day Megan was sick and we were crafting- she had fun making part of the Nativity Scene. We were inspired by the picture here. She only got one wiseman done (and afterwards- I was kind of kicking myself for encouraging the crown on him- It bugs me to have biblical incorrectness but I encouraged it in this case.) and then of course the main characters- Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The adults were made using toilet paper tubes and baby Jesus was made with a spool all wrapped up in fabric. Maybe later we will make more of the scene.

That is a few of the things we have been having fun working on. What are you doing at your house?

If you have a blog I would love it if you would share the link of your post, And for everybody I would love it if you would leave ideas in the comments.

I can't wait to see what you make!

-Please link up a handmade idea that would work for a Christmas gift, decoration or for eating.

I have decided not to use the linky tool but rather if you would include your link in a comment or send it to me in an e-mail, I will then put the link to your blog post in this post. Thank you!

-Please make sure it is family friendly.
- Please link back to this blog. I would love it if you also would display my button (grab it from my sidebar) either in your post or on your sidebar so that others can learn about and join this carnival too.

Check out these fun ideas that others have shared....

 Sorry I am late getting this up- I was working on my decorating post instead and this one got put off. I will be linking this post up to The Inspired Room's Christmas party post. Also- this is the last official week of A Handmade Christmas. I may post something on it next week but I might decided to take the week off instead.
Great Holiday Barn Hop

Monday, December 12, 2011

Welcome to our home....{2011 Christmas tour}

Hello! I am so glad you came to visit!

I decided it would be fun to join in The Inspired Room's Christmas Home Tours. I am joining not because our home is anything spectacular or grand (it's not) but rather because our family has fun doing a little bit of simple decorating using things that we have and it is fun to have company (even online company) over to share our home and festivities with.

 So come on in and I will give you a tour of our simple home.

This weekend was the weekend of decorating the inside- I don't like to do it to early because I am still enjoying Thanksgiving decorations and so we will probably leave some (or maybe a lot) of these decorations up into January. On Saturday night Ken and Aaron went to a Hockey game and the rest of us had fun doing some decorating to surprise them when they got home.
 We hung a swag that I had made from some greenery we picked from my parents woods up above the coat closet which you see first thing when you walk in the entryway. I also pulled out some old ice skates to decorate with.
 The white skates with jingle bell toes are old ones of mine but they are to uncomfortable to wear anymore. The others I think may have been my Dad's when he was young. I love the way they look on the closet door.

After you hang up your coat why don't you come on upstairs....
 You can join these crazy and fun children for a cup of peppermint hot chocolate (a special gift from my sister) and some Sesame-Honey Candy (Pasteli) that Aaron and I just made.
Aaron hard at work cutting the candy. He loves to help make snacks.
 When we were decorating on Saturday night Jonathan's big project was to run a long string of white lights across the tops of all the cupboards and around the kitchen and then also around the top of the windows in the dining room. We don't usually put lights in the house (instead we have them all over outside) so the kids think ( and I am enjoying it too) it is pretty neat to have some inside.

  On the cupboard tops we also added some evergreen boughs and pine cones and some splashes of red. I am really enjoying the red this year. Some years I have tried to avoid it but I like it a lot this year.

Closer detail of the cupboard tops.
Lights, greenery, grapevine and frosty pine cones (which we frosted) above the kitchen sink.
The lights in the dining room at night. Snowflakes on the window were made by Jonathan.
Here is closer detail of the cross stitch picture on our Kitchen wall. This is one of the many cross stitch pictures that Mara made this year.

Now lets walk over to the living room and chat for a bit.

On the wall is one of my favorite decorating places. The shelf underneath our family picture. We also hung another swag up above it.
 Here are some details of the shelf.  I have fun adding all sorts of odds and ends to it that I think go with the theme. If you haven't noticed already, I love pine cones and evergreens. I love the outdoors and enjoy bringing the outdoors in for my decorating.

The kids were quite excited about getting the stockings hung up. Our family rule is that all gifts have to fit in the stocking. Someday I think it would be very fun to have a fireplace mantle to hang them from but for now they hang from the half wall by our stairs.
 The other side of the living room is our music area. I enjoyed having poinsettias and fresh flowers (along with evergreen, pine cones and candles) available to decorate the piano top with.

 Here are a couple of more wreaths that we are displaying. The grapevine/evergreen one is a combination of the kid's efforts (I am tempted to place the Reindeer a little differently but currently am working to appreciate the uniqueness of it) I do love that they like to help decorate. The other wreath was one that some friends and I made from some old music. It fits in well in my entry way where I have a variety of music pictures.

Now to head downstairs....

 We don't have a ton of decorations here but it looks very changed to us because we did some major rearranging and really open up this room which had been before split in half with some big bookshelves. We are really loving it! I have had fun adding some evergreen and pine cones and other rustic touches as well as some snowmen decorations.

This snowman wreath got to be inside out of the weather this year.
 Here is where the bookshelves went...
 In our bookworms room. We added some garland and sparkly jewels to the top of the shelves and then our homemade nativity from a couple of years ago got put in here as well and also some new nativity stuff that Megan just made.

Thanks so much for visiting!

We hope you enjoy seeing our outside lights as you go. I wasn't able to get a picture of them all (as I didn't feel like running that far down the road to take the picture) and this picture is rather blurry but it gives you an idea. :-)

 How do you like to decorate for Christmas? I would love to hear from you!

Great Holiday Barn Hop


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