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DIY Owl Tote

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Last year, I made this advent calendar counting down until Christmas. Always one to cram extra projects into an already exhaustingly busy month, on day nine I had written, “Make a Christmas present for your teacher.” Blah.

I have a few friends who are teachers and I know they often receive the same gifts. So, I wracked my tired brain for an idea that might be somewhat original, cheap, and also something the girls could make, preferably having to do with owls since their teacher has a fondness for them.

I came up with nothing. HOWEVER, while I was browsing the aisles of Walmart in search of other last minute craft supplies, I stumbled across canvas totes, all under $3. Score. I snatched one up and scurried home, giddy with anticipation and self-congratulations of being so thrifty and clever.

This bag took less than an hour, and if we’re being honest here, it could have taken half that time had I not enlisted the girls to help me out with this. Ah! I love them. They are precious, but heaven help me! Let me get this out of the way because if you read any of my posts you know I like to keep it real, lest you think this was some Hallmark, Kodak moment so when you try this out with your kids you are cursing me and my family for generations to come because I made it seem like this project was sunshine and kittens and lollipops. Sugar and spice and everything nice it was not.

First, I had the girls help me cut out pieces for the wings (I don’t have a pattern, but it was pretty easy to freehand them) and was trying to make sure we all had ten digits on each hand by the time it was all said and done because Ev couldn’t keep her eyes on what she was doing and the dogs were wrestling and bumping into us. I asked Nora to keep an eye on the pieces to give her a “special job” while I was trying to sew pieces on. She lost them. Twice. Poor girl tries so hard, but is slightly absentminded like her Mama. Then I had the girls take turns helping me by pressing down the pedal while I guided the bag through the machine. StrEEEEEEssful!! The dogs kept looping around my legs and under the table, digging in my garbage and stepping on the pedal. Again, fingers were counted after that fiasco. I discovered also, much to my great annoyance, that I had to rip out one side of the bag so I could fit it into my machine, then I stitched it back up when all was said and done.

So, that out of the way, I will tell you how we pulled this together. Let’s start with the supply list, shall we??

-canvas tote

-scrap fabrics for eyes and wings

-large buttons for eyes

-sharpie paint marker

-fabric markers

-glue gun

-sewing machine

We started out by making a wing pattern out of paper and making two, cutting them out along a fold so you have two mirror images. Then I traced something round for the eyes and drew large circles in the middle of large buttons (also found in the craft section at Walmart). I pinned the fabric pieces to the bag (after opening up one side so, as aforementioned it fit better through my machine) and went to work sewing the pieces on. I chose to do a straight stitch because I like the raw edge look, but you might prefer an applique stitch. Once the fabric pieces were on, I stitched the open side back up and hot glued the button eyes on. Once all of that was done, the girls wrote on the back of the tote. Pretty easy peasey, my friends. I think┬áthey turned out cute, don’t you? Oh. Yeah. The bag is pretty cute, too. ­čśë

norawriting girlswithbag eviewriting backbag

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Confessions of a Christ Addict

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“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, O, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”

“Come Thou Fount” was penned in the 1700’s by a young convert to Christ. It is said that Robert Robinson walked away from his faith as the last stanza of this song suggests he feared he would. It is rumored that many years later, while riding on a stagecoach,a traveler with him began singing this song. When asked if he liked her song, he replied, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.” It is debated about whether he ever returned to his faith before his death in 1790.

This hymn is one of my absolute favorites. I have the words written on the wall in our dining room. “O to grace, how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be, let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee…” It is one of my favorites because it is often the cry of my own heart.

I stumbled out of bed at 3:30 this morning, careful not to disturb my peacefully sleeping husband or the cat curled at my waist. I woke up in a panic, knowing I needed my “fix”.

Hi. My name is Courtney. I’m a Christ addict. It’s been… Three days since I last read my Bible, gave more than a cursory prayer or applied Scripture to my life.

If this really were some therapy group, I would tell you that I wasn’t a full blown junkie. I’m more of a social Christian, really. I just really go to God when I need a quick fix; a temporary high. Nothing serious.

See, I just need my quick fix every once in awhile. I need it when I’m frustrated with the kids. I throw a prayer toward the ceiling, a brief plea for wisdom, just something to get me through the next hour. I read my bible when I know I have a half hour here or there, but only if my day allows, and even then my mind is wandering about my to-do list. A temporary high, so I can feel good about myself and my “dedication” and have something else to check off my list for the day. I hurl a verse at my girls when convenient, when it helps me make my point to them. A quick fix.

This time of year can be especially distracting for me. Every year, I feel like I’m chasing the white whale of Christmas, the stuff Bing Crosby songs are made of; the charmingly decorated house, filled with Nat King Cole carols, pine scented candles, homemade, personal gifts, a tree sagging with tacky ornaments, gingerbread houses and freshly baked cookies. I am longing for the feeling I had when I was a child, the feeling you only got at Christmas time. I lost it somewhere around age thirteen, when I thought I was obviously too old for such childish behavior and have tried to find it ever since. In my search, I have lost the true joy of Christmas, of everyday, 365 days of the year living, that comes from a true relationship with Christ that satisfies like nothing else in the world. In my search for it, it’s only robbed me if my joy, thankfulness and contentment. It’s made me cranky and discontent, always searching for something better: more Christmas spirit, more Christmas movies, more parties and traditions, more presents to make or buy, more CDs to listen to. I’m always on the hunt, but in my search I’ve only found that Joy is not something that can be bought at Target.

I woke up with the sweat of this verse on my brow: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul?”

In my own way, I’ve gained the world. I have this house that may not be a mansion in the Hamptons, but it’s prefect for me, with it’s ornate fireplace, wrap around porch, claw foot tub. I have a cozy, warm bed to crawl into every night next to a faithful, loving, adoring husband that I don’t come close to deserving. I’m the mom of two wild, rambunctious, strong-willed, sweet girls. My husband has a job where I get to work beside him and both do what we love. I have friends and family who love me, somehow. I eat everyday, often more than I should. In worldly possessions, I really lack nothing. Still, what does it profit me, even as a daughter of the one true God, if my life is dedicated to these things rather than to Him?

See, I don’t want to just be a social Christ addict, I want to be a full-blown, all or nothing, go big or go home junkie. I want to be like this pastor we met in NYC who holds bible studies in homeless shelters in the Bronx and hands out care packages to people in AIDS facilities. I want to be bold enough to stand the ridicule he faces when he sings on the subways and ferries in Manhattan, when at times he has been openly mocked, kicked and been threatened bodily harm. He still peaches with boldness, with love and with joy. You see, the thing about pastor Jeff is that he is always smiling. Always. The joy of Christ oozes out of him; it runs through his veins. It is his life blood. I want to be so addicted to Christ that I can be called, as he does himself, “cross-eyed and crazy” for our Savior. I want to be crazy out of my mind, totally hooked and overflowing with a love for God that can never be satisfied, a thirst that can never be quenched; an addiction that always has me on my knees crying out for more. I want to be that kind of Christian. I want to be able to say I am living out I Thessalonians 5:16-18 that says, “Be joyful always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus, or Lord.” I want to be able to say:

“Hi. My name is Courtney. It’s been…. Well, I haven’t stopped praying, giving thanks or worshipping Christ…”

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24 Days of Christmas Crafts: Day eleven (sort of)

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Soooooooo…..this is me. A ┬álittle cross-eyed and crazy with Christmas preps. I am a little embarrassed to even be writing this post because my promise of 24 days of Christmas was paved with good intentions! But, simply put, I’m pooped! Christmas is only two weeks away and my list doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter. Though I HAVE been busily preparing and crafting to get things ready for Christmas (making a superman quilt, a queen size quilt, teacher gifts, garland, a bunny and a kitty hat, two princess dolls, two ballerina shirts, a painted plate, two books, two screen printed tees, shrinky dink dog name things {see? this is how tired I am}, a wreath, two VERY ugly Christmas sweaters….you get the idea), I have neglected to take pictures and haven’t had time to blog about them. This is me being incredibly lazy because I am tired! I have also been trying to potty train a puppy at the same time (an early Christmas present for me from my amazingly sweet husband), but it’s honestly like having a toddler in the house. Sooooooo….rather than make any more excuses or promises (though I do hope to be able to post some of my crafts soon as well as yummy recipes) I am offering a peace….um…..offering. Here is a free Christmas printable. Maybe you can use it to make some Christmas crafts of your own!

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(Just right click on image to save and download)

 

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24 Days of Christmas Crafts Day 9: DIY Shrinky Dink Necklaces

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Like I am EVERY year, no matter when I start my Christmas projects, am waaaaaaaay behind! I am behind on this blog, too. Anyway, here is another project that I made for the girls. If you have any little girls on your list and they are anything like mine I know for sure they like two things: 1) Anything with their name or face on it and 2) Anything that would constitute as dress-up. So this idea was spawned! 

I have always been fascinated by the idea of Shrinky Dinks. I mean, who came up with that?! I would like to shake that man’s hand. What a fun and brilliant idea! Anyway, I ordered mine off of Amazon for a pretty reasonable price. I was so excited to get them in the mail. The possibilities were endless! This was on fact my first endeavor with Shrinky Dinks. So, to make these necklaces here is what you will need:

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1. Shrinky Dink sheets

2.Scissors

3.Permanent markers

4.Beads and elastic for necklace

5.Small hole punch

I started by cutting out a square from the sheets about twice the size of what I wanted my final pendant to be. Then I drew out a very amateur face of each of my girls as princesses and put their names on it. When I was done with that, I punched a hole in the top middle for threading it onto my necklace after it baked.

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Then I followed the instructions on the package, popped ’em in the oven, and that was basically it!!! I threaded the pendants onto my jewelry elastic (I chose one that was gold and sparkly, of course, for extra girliness) in between my beads. Pretty basic!┬á

Here is the final product:

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24 Days of Christmas: Day Four- Vintage Christmas CD

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I usually try to make myself wait until Thanksgiving Day to start listening to Christmas music. It takes a lot of self-control, which apparently I don’t have because by the second week of November I had made this Christmas CD and have listened to it almost every day since. ┬áSince I love all things vintage as well, I like to call this my “Vintage Christmas List”.

I started by searching for songs by my favorite members of the Rat Pack and also honorary modern-day members like Norah Jones and Micheal Buble. I looked for songs by Burls Ives and Doris Day. I grew up listening to Bing Crosby every Christmas, so he is my absolute favorite when it comes to Christmas songs.

I found them, downloaded them, and burned them to a CD. Pretty complex, right? But I wanted to share my list with you. Oh yeah, I also added “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas”, another classic I loved growing up, which my kids love now, too! Every time we get in the van, they request it.

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Christmas Crafts Day 3: DIY Band T-shirt

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So I know this is an odd choice for a Christmas craft, but if you are anything like me, I like to make a lot of my gifts. It makes them more personal and I can often make them cheaper than buying them. Hence, this project.

This is the cover to my brother’s band CD. As of yet, though they have a rockin’ CD, they don’t have any accessories. ┬áSo for Christmas, I decided to make my brother a t-shirt to wear to his gigs. Thankfully, though his cover looks complicated, because of it’s haphazard nature I figured if I didn’t get the design exactly duplicated it would still resemble the CD cover moderately.

I confess I am not entirely done with the shirt yet. I wanted to be able to keep up with my “24 day” commitment, but I figured you would get the idea anyway!

So to start, here’s what I used:

*Fabric paints as well as silkscreen paint picked up from any craft store

*Plain t-shirt (I got this one for $3 at Hobby Lobby)

*hair dryer

*Alphabet stencils

*Contact Paper

To start, I cut little strips of contact paper in jagged strips to mimic the pattern on the cover. Like most of my projects, it wasn’t too scientific. I just taped the strips down and painted in between the lines.ImageImage

After I had painted in the lines, I used a hairdryer to dry the paint to make the process go a lot quicker. It took an average of ten minutes to dry between each application when using the dryer.

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Aaaand, that’s about it! I know, I know….super complicated! I just kept doing layer after layer until I got a pattern that looked like the one on the CD cover. I still have yet to stencil the letters on, but this project pretty much took me an hour or two to do. Not too bad! I hope he likes it!

Merry (almost) Christmas!

***DISCLAIMER: If my instructions on anything don’t make sense sometimes, it’s usually because I am being bombarded with a barrage of questions at any given moment; anything from: “what time is dinner” to “MOOOOOM, why doesn’t this Barbie have underwear”

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Twenty Five Days of Christmas Crafts: Day One-Advent Calender

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I L-O-V-E Christmas! It always seems to go so fast, though. I look forward to it months in advance. I start my Christmas shopping in May, and still, it comes and goes in a blink of an eye! I always try to prolong it as much as I can. I am the person who has to make a conscious effort not to play Christmas music by October. Yep. I am THAT person. So this year, I wanted to take the whole month of December to try to share with you some of my Christmas craftiness. I am also the kind of person who is super, duper cheap and like to make a lot of my presents. This month, for the next 25 days am going to be showing you things I made to decorate the house, my favorite Christmas recipes that also make superb presents, some gifts I am making, and also an awesome Christmas sweater I plan to wear for a festive Christmas party. Soooooooo…..stay tuned!

But for day one, I am going to show you a really simple advent calender I made. It is so super simple. As most great ideas are formed, I totally cheated and found similar ideas all over Pinterest. Just search “advent calenders” and a plethora of ideas of wonder will pop up on your screen. My favorite ones, though, were the ones that had ideas for things to do each day leading up to Christmas. This is my version of that.

First, I went to Walmart and found super cheap scrapbook paper. It was only $3 for a mini book. Score, right?! I found some that I thought would be nice and festive for my calender, purchased it and brought it home. I also bought a thin, green ribbon that was 48 cents that I thought would look nice for stringing. Now, this next part is incredibly scientific, so pay close attention. I found something round in my house, a candle holder, that I thought would be the right size for what I wanted. I cut out 24 circles (four from six different types of paper) and wrote the numbers 1-24 of the back of each, being sure to stagger them in a proper pattern.

Then, the fun part happened. I went to work putting on the back some traditions we have done in the past as a family along with some new ones. I got out our calender first to look at the dates to see what was feasible to do for those days depending on what we already had planned. Also, for each day, we will be reading a Chapter from Luke, beginning to end. It has exactly 24 chapters in it, and the Christmas story is so much more than just the birth of Christ.  Christ came to this earth, born in a stable to ultimately die 33 years later to save us from our sins. It starts with the manger, but ends with the resurrection of Christ. We wanted to make sure our children understood the full Christmas story. Anyway, here are a few ideas that we put down:

1.Decorate the tree (duh!)

2.Watch a Christmas movie with popcorn and hot chocolate

3.Drive around to see Christmas lights (I LOVE this idea about doing it like the Polar Express and putting tickets under their pillow. Such a cute and genius idea!!)

4.Make caramel corn

5.Write a letter and send a small gift to Ermionne, our sponsor child

6.Sing Christmas carols in front of the fire with hot chocolate

7.Make paper snowflakes and hang them in windows

8.Make cookies for the neighbors

9.Make a meal for a needy family

10.Go shopping for Daddy

I think I tripled or even quadrupled #2. ­čÖé

After I had written all of those out, I punched holes in the top, then strung them on my ribbon, being sure they were in numeric order. After I would put one on, I would tie a knot about it so that it wouldn’t slip. I also want to add that I made the ribbon as long as my banister is since this was where I planned to hang it when it was all done.

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And that is it! Once they were all on, the girls helped me hang it on the banister. Pretty simple, huh? I thought it was pretty, too.

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I would LOVE to hear any traditions you might have! Maybe next year I can add them to my calender, or who knows? Maybe sneak ’em in this year.