Sunday, December 19, 2010

Water Bottle Slings, Christmas Trees, and Lasagna

Well a couple days ago I shared what the girls have been making for Christmas gifts.  I haven't done a whole lot of crafting but the other day I made these water bottle carriers.  Now I am not much of a sewer but this tutorial at Make It and Love It was very clear and made it very easy to do (I did have a few fights with my sewing machine as it continues to dislike me, but I made it through).  So the girls are getting new water bottles with nice slings to go with them for Christmas.  My husband works at a furniture store and came home with a big box of upholstery samples one day.  That is the material I used to make these which is why they aren't all done with the same material.

In other news, since we had put our tree up on a chest, I was hopeful that LK wouldn't be able to get into it.  However, at ten months old he has decided that climbing is a fun thing to do so he can now get into more stuff then ever before.  Here he climbed up onto the table that our Nativity set is on and pulled a star ornament off the tree.  He is really proud of himself.

And now I bet you were wondering about the lasagna in the title.  I just wanted to share this tidbit as I thought it was quite amusing.  As hubby was picking out some songs to sing in church this weekend.  Sky suggested that he sing the "lasagna" song.  It took as a while to figure out that she meant "Hosanna".

Well that's all for now.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teacher Gifts

If your like me the last day of school is coming up and your frantically trying to think of a gift for your children's teachers.  I'm never sure what to get them and I am working from a limited budget, but I did want to give them a little something to show our appreciation for all they do.  After some debate I decided chocolate was the way to go.  They can serve it up at a holiday gathering, regift it as a hostess gift or to the mailman, or freeze it for a sweet treat when the holidays are just a memory. 

Then I came across this M&M nativity legend and decided that M&M's it would be.  I purchased a couple bags of M&M's and then printed out the M&M nativity legend and glued it onto card stock.  The girls made their teachers a card and then I tied it all together with some ribbon.  Hopefully they will enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Homemade Fun

This Christmas the girls (Star especially) have been into making gifts for others.  Star has gotten into sewing and is enjoying it and Sky has even been doing a little bit.  We have the book Homemade Fun by Rae Grant and the girls have been getting ideas from there.  It has a good section on hand sewing.  (We have her other books Cooking Fun and Crafting Fun too and you can find many of her projects from here books at her website here.)   We really enjoy her books.  One thing though is they have no pictures of completed projects.  This can be a good thing in that you are not comparing your craft to the picture perfect one in the book.  However, when we first got these books Sky was not into them as she couldn't read much and without pictures she couldn't pick out what she liked.  Star has always really liked them and I really like the vintage graphics in the books.  So I would recommend these books for ages 7- 12 or so.

Sky made this purse for her cousin.  She came up with idea, did all the stitching herself, and made a crocheted chain for the handle.

Star made this stuffed bunny for LK.  She started this project when I wasn't even home.  She traced the pattern onto the fabric and cut it out all by herself.  Then I looked on YouTube to find a video on how to do a blanket stitch and she took it from there.

Now I realize that these are not works of art but they turned out pretty good for the girls having done most of the work themselves.  In the past they would have wanted to make these things but I would have ended up doing all the work.  This way they got to feel the joy of making something themselves and learned some handy skills along the way.  If you notice both projects involved sewing on a button and that is a something everyone should know how to do.  You never know when you will lose a button.

One other thing that Star made was this "I Spy Jar" for another of her cousins.  It is simply a jar filled with rice and small "treasures" that you have to find in the rice by moving or shaking the jar.  She just went on hunt for small items around the house put them in a jar and filled it almost to the top with rice (you want to leave some room so the rice can move around).  You can find more pictures and instructions here

So those are a few things that the girls have been working on this December.  It has been a joy to watch them create things to give to others.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

O Christmas Tree

Star and Sky decorating the Christmas tree.

Today we put up our Christmas tree.  The girls have been asking for weeks to put it up.  It is one of our favorite Christmas things to do.  Daddy sets up the tree and puts on the lights.  Then we let the girls do all the decorating.  They love looking through the ornaments and finding their favorites.  Also we have a lot of homemade ornaments that they have made through the years and they always seem to remember who made what.  (Amazing considering they can never remember to pick up their socks even after being reminded a thousand times.)  Our tree is definitely not fancy but fun.

We have a small artificial tree that we put up.  I love the smell of a real Christmas tree but they can be a little pricey here on the prairies.  This small tree we inherited from my Aunt and it is really old but it still works.  It doesn't take up too much room which is nice as our living room is full!!  Also we can put it up a little higher so hopefully LK doesn't knock it over.  We may get a real tree again in a future year but this is working for us this year.

Last year I bought this Little People Nativity Set as our other one was quite destroyed.  If you have little ones I highly recommend this or some other nativity set that they can play with, without doing much damage to it.  Kids love to play with the figures and act out the Christmas story.

Star setting up the Nativity Set under the tree.
LK playing with the Nativity Set.

That really is the extent of the decorating we do.  We hang our stockings up and have a few other odds and ends that we put out; but the real highlight is the Christmas tree and Nativity set. 

Now that the decorating is done I just have to focus on keeping the place neat and clean which is always a challenge for me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent Time!

I know this post is coming a little late as advent is nearly half over but I thought I would share with you what we do during advent.  We have an advent wreath which we light during our evening prayers.  The girls really like lighting the candles and blowing them out so it makes our prayer time a little special.  The other tradition we have started is having a Jesse tree.  For our Jesse tree I just clip a branch from one of the bushes or trees in our yard, put it in a flower pot and keep it in place with some stones.  In some places I have read that a Jesse tree should be green but this works for us and then we put up our evergreen Christmas tree a little closer to Christmas.  I use the devotional and symbols found here with our Jesse tree.  For the ornaments I just printed out the symbols and had the girls colour them.  Then we glued them onto some red and green card stock and used some yarn to hang them on our tree.  It isn't much but I know the girls appreciate the little extra effort.  The other day Star said that her favorite time of day is lighting the candles on the wreath.

Our Jesse tree and Advent wreath.

Oh, and as we light the advent candles we sing this song to tune of Jingle Bells.

Advent time, Advent time,
It' Advent everyone.
It's the getting ready time
to welcome God's own Son.  (2 times)

One (two, three, four) candle(s) on the wreath,
Shining oh so bright,
Help us all to think about
The coming of our light.

How do you make Advent special on your home? 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010



Outside my window...the sun is starting to set and it is not even 5 PM.  The days sure are getting short.

I am thinking...about Christmas gifts.  There is a flurry of crafting happening here as we make some gifts and cards.

I am thankful family.  My children bring a lot of joy to my life.

From the kitchen...I have some homemade chicken soup simmering on the stove.  It smells delicious.  I hope it tastes as good as it smells.  I think I may make some biscuits to go with it.

I am wearing...jeans, a t-shirt, and a sweater.

I am creating...water bottle slings for the girls for Christmas.

I am going...nowhere today.  It is nice to have a full day at home.

I am reading...Flowers on Main by Sheryl Woods. A fluffy, feel good romance.

I am keep a peaceful feeling all through December.

I am music playing in the background.  I seem to always have music playing lately but that is better than having the TV on in the background.

Around the house...I cleaned out some kitchen cupboards yesterday, got rid of a few things and organized them a bit.  They are looking a lot better.

One of my favorite things...a hot cup of tea.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  I have to clean out the porch and take the recycling in.  The girls have skating on Friday and I plan to do some shopping while I am in town.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
LK trying to grab the camera as I take his picture.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Baking: Ranger Cookies

Well it is time for me to start thinking about doing some Christmas baking.  I don't do a lot of baking but we do have some favourite cookies that we make only at Christmas time.  I am looking forward to shortbread, gingerbread, and sugar cookies.  However, as I don't have any baking on hand right now I decided to make these Ranger cookies first so we can snack on them and save the Christmas cookies for Christmas.  I wouldn't really consider these cookies a healthy cookie as they are fairly high in sugar and fat but they are pretty filling and make a yummy snack (and the oatmeal means they have to be somewhat healthy, right?)  I did reduce the sugar a little in this recipe and it was still plenty sweet.  I also used 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 white flour.  The cranberries give them a little bit of a festive feel as well.  Enjoy!

Ranger Cookies

1/2 lb (1 cup) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups oats
1 cup corn flakes (crushed)
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
2 cups shredded coconut

Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Then beat in eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Then add to cream mixture and stir until well blended.
Stir in oats, corn flakes, dried cranberries, and coconut.  Drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheet and bake in a 350*F preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.
If desired you can roll the dough into logs with the help of flour and wrap well with cling wrap.  Freeze wrapped cookie dough logs.  When ready to bake cookies, take logs out of the freezer and slice into half inch thick cookie disks and bake as directed above.
Recipe makes approx. 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

It is a busy season here with girls skating a couple times a week and other seasonal activities popping up so making a menu is more important than ever.  Otherwise I know we would be eating less that healthy meals and convenience food.  Admittedly not all my planned meals are super healthy but at least I have an idea of something I can serve that is better (and cheaper) than eating out.

Monday: Roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn.  Monday is one of our skating days so I will do the chicken in the slow cooker and have the potatoes ready to go before I leave.

Tuesday: Smokies, perogies, and mixed vegetables.

Wednesday: I need to make some bread so we will have chicken sandwiches with the leftover roast chicken on fresh bread.

Thursday: Chicken noodle soup.  I will make some soup using the carcass from our roast chicken.  I might get the girls to make some biscuits to serve along side.

Friday:  Beef Stroganoff, egg noodles, and peas.  I will make the stroganoff in the slow cooker as Friday is one of the skating days so we don't get home until supper time.

That's the menu for this week.  What's on your menu?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sky's Birthday, Christmas Shopping, Getting Sick

Sky and her cousin celebrating Sky's 7th Birthday.

I'm back!  I know I have been MIA for a little while.  Last weekend we went to the city to visit Grandma (and Grandpa and various aunts, uncles, and cousins).  While there we celebrated Sky's 7th birthday.  (7 already! I swear the older I get the faster time flies).  For her birthday we took  her to the Science Center.  They have a lot of interactive displays and play areas there and the girls had a lot of fun.  Then we had pizza and of course cake at Grandma's.  Lot's of my siblings were there and it was great to visit with everyone.

Also while in the city I took off by myself for a couple of hours Saturday morning and got most of my Christmas shopping done.  It was nice to shop by myself for a change and I went early enough that the stores were fairly quiet.  We try to keep things pretty simple for Christmas here.  The girls get one gift from us usually $20 to $40.  This year Star is getting a build a bear kit as she really wanted a teddy bear, Sky is getting a mega block set as she likes to build, and LK is getting a wooden playset.  In addition in their stockings they are each getting a board game, a craft kit, a book and a few other trinkets (like a new toothbrush).  LK's stocking is a bit slim as he is a little young for games, books, and crafts but I don't think he will mind.  We draw names for the adults on my side of the family and keep a price limit at $30 to $40 dollars.  This year we decided not to exchange gifts on hubby's side of the family.  That keeps Christmas shopping pretty simple and we spend a lot less than the average person on Christmas.  I am happy to be mostly done with Christmas shopping.

When we got back from the city we all (except for Sky) got sick with some sort of stomach virus.  It was not a fun week but we are all finally recovered and things are starting to get back to normal around here.  I hope your week was a better than mine.  But here's hoping that since the virus went through our house now we will all be healthy for Christmas. (Wishful thinking maybe, but I am hoping).