Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Homemade Christmas

As I told you in an earlier post, my family decided to draw names and make homemade gifts this Christmas. It was our first time attempting something like this, and it went over so well that I think it will become a yearly tradition. I am happy to show you what each of us made...

This first gift is what my son, Morgan, made for me. It is a mosaic, and if you look closely, you can see the image of the dolphin in the blue tiles. Didn't he do a fabulous job?

This next one is what my oldest son, Mason, made for Morgan. He decorated Morgan's initials using this abstract way of coloring that he learned in his school art class, then he put it in a nice frame. Mason spent a long, long time on this, and Morgan was thrilled with the result!

This next one is what I made for Mason. I remember having a huge string art ship that my grandfather made hanging above our couch when I was a little girl. I thought it might be neat to introduce my kids to this old art by doing Mason's name the same way. As I had hoped, Mason loved it and can't wait to hang it above his bed.

I was tickled that Michael was as excited about this idea as I was, and he knew immediately what he wanted to make. When we were getting ready to draw names, he announced that he wanted to make Maddox's gift. We told him that he can't just CHOOSE who he wants, that he has to draw like everyone else! To this, he said, "Well, whoever I draw is going to get a wooden tractor!" we let him have Maddox. :) Michael's becoming quite handy with wood and tools! (some of you may even remember the ink pad cabinet he made me?)

And finally, because I was going to have to assist Maddox in this project, we let him "choose" Daddy. Together, Maddox and I made this little keepsake box that Michael can keep in his briefcase so he can always have a piece of his little boy with him... it's an Altoid tin with Maddox's handprint wrapped around it. When you press on the "Love You Dad" circle, you will hear Maddox saying in his cute little voice, "Hi Daddy! I yuv you Daddy!".

On the inside is a picture of Maddox, along with the sound recording box that I got from Build-a-Bear workshop... little 2-year old voices are so precious, and I wanted Michael to be able to take Maddox's message with him on business trips. In the empty space above the recording box, I will be placing a piece of Maddox's favorite blanket - but I'll need to get some scrap fabric from my step-mother-in-law (who made the blanket) so I don't have to ruin the actual blanket.

So there you have it... our own little homemade Christmas! Thank you for allowing me to share it with you. It was a pure joy to watch each of our kids take this idea and make it special. I look forward to many more years of beautiful, *priceless*, homemade gifts.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Love You Much Bundle

This just in from Stampin' Up!: Stampin' Up!'s Love You Much Bundle (item 115404) contains the perfect products to create fun and fanciful Valentine's Day projects that say "I love you" from the heart. And from December 23, 2008 through January 31, 2009, you can purchase the Love You Much Bundle at 20% off the retail value!

Click on the flyer at left for full details... but this bundle includes the NEW Love You Much stamp set, NEW Candy Lane Designer Series Paper, and the NEW Heart to Heart punch! The retail value is $51.58, but until January 31st, you can get it for just $41.48!

Contact me to place your order, or just visit my website and click on SHOP NOW in the upper left-hand corner!

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Blog Sweets" Winners!

Hi everyone! As promised, I am here to reveal the winners of my earlier Blog Sweet post... I thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every comment - there were some tremendous stories and loads of great ideas for homemade gifts! As always, I used a random number generator to choose 3 numbers... and it chose 27, 54, and 68.

Number 27 is Paula in Illinois:
I have you on my Google reader so I never miss a post. :o) Several years ago at the daycare I was working at we had secret Santa's. I had no idea who mine was, but my final gift was a hand made sweatshirt. It had an angel made from lace handkerchiefs on the front. My boss, who was very crafty, had gotten my name. It was one of the best home made gifts I ever got! Have a Merry Christmas!

Number 54 is Cathy Carter:
I hear you! Handmade gifts are the best! I think the best one I ever received was from my friend April. One year she typed and printed the lyrics to a TON of Christmas songs on all kinds of different Christmas papers...laminated them...and bound them together with ribbon. It was so beautiful - one of the best gifts I've ever gotten, and definitely my favorite hand made gift!

Number 68 is Darla in Virginia:
I love your blog! I was inspired recently to start being an SU demonstrator, partially b/c of you and others like you with your gorgeous creations! I love to get inspiration out there from what others are doing. You definitely have a gift! Love, love, love your Christmas cards. My favourite handmade gift is likely a set of building blocks, trucks, and a toybox my dad made for me and my brother when we were about 5. I still have them and my kids now play with them too!

Ladies, please contact me with your mailing information and I will send the goodies on their way soon... but it will have to wait until after the holidays! Also, when I get back from my parents' place, I will show you what I will be sending, but I can tell you that it will definitely include a stamp set!!

PS: I also can't wait to show you all the homemade gifts that we made! We'll be exchanging them tomorrow... I'll take pictures and show you soon!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cookies, Anyone?

I'm still hard at work preparing for Christmas... but I'm happy to report that I've already mailed over half of my cards. I had to take a break, though, because Friday is the boys' last day of school, and I need get their teacher's gifts ready.

At Christmastime each year, my husband, sons, and I make one particular "cookies-in-a-jar" mix to hand out to a few people. These cookies have a peculiar (but memorable) name - Cranberry Hootycreeks. I found this recipe many, many years ago from I don't know where, but it has always been a huge hit. This year, I decided to jazz up the tag using the same look as my Christmas card:

The instructions are printed on the back:

Normally, I put a piece of cloth over the top and tie a ribbon around it, but this time, I used my Coluzzle and 1-3/4" Circle punch to make a snowflake topper.

...and because this may very well be the last thing I post until after the holidays (except for the winners of the drawing, of course!), I wanted to leave you with a special gift...

The Cranberry Hootycreek Recipe!

Layer the following in a quart-size jar:
5/8 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flour (yes, another layer of flour)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Print these instructions on the tag:
In a large bowl, cream together:
1 stick of butter [that's 4oz. for you Aussies!]
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
Beat with a mixer until the mixture is fluffy. Add the entire jar of ingredients and mix together by hand until well blended. Drop small rounded balls onto a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges start to brown. Makes approximately 24 medium sized cookies.

Now, go grab a cup of hot chocolate, surround yourself with loved ones and have a very Merry Christmas!

Tag Recipe:
Stamp Set: Winter Post, En Francais background
Ink: Riding Hood Red, Baja Breeze, Chocolate Chip
Cardstock: Chocolate Chip, Baja Breeze, Ski Slope DSP, Naturals Ivory
Accessories: Gold Metallic thread, Riding Hood Red Taffeta ribbon, Alpine Ribbon Originals, Antique Brass Jumbo Eyelet, Antique Brass Eyelet
Tools: Designer Label Punch, Tag Corner punch, Small Tag punch, 1-3/4" Circle punch, Crop-a-Dile, Stamping Sponge, Coluzzle

Monday, December 15, 2008

Final Draft

First of all, I am so humbled by all of the wonderful comments you have been leaving in response to my last post! What awesome stories! If you haven't taken a moment to read through those comments, I strongly encourage you to do so... there's a lot of love out there. I have been busy working on my handmade gift for my oldest son, Mason, and I can't wait to show you... but for now, let me show you the final result of my Christmas card:

I didn't really change anything on the outside from the original, but I decided to use brads instead of the linen thread to save on time. I also found that by using the direct-to-paper technique around the edge of the postcard, it made it look more authentic. I ordered a custom 3-line personalized stamp with our names on it, and I love how it takes the place of what would be an address on the postcard... plus it saves my wrist from all that writing! I am, however, going to include a small hand-written message on each one, just so it can be a bit more personal.

Then, on the other side is our family photo which hopefully mimics how a real postcard looks!

I am still working on these, and I do intend to get back to regular posting as soon as I can breathe. In the meantime, thank you all so much for your loyalty and understanding! Hugs!

Christmas Card Recipe:
Stamp Sets: Winter Post, En Francais background
Ink: Riding Hood Red, Chocolate Chip, Baja Breeze
Cardstock: Chocolate Chip, Baja Breeze, Naturals Ivory, Ski Slope DSP
Accessories: Vintage Brads
Tools: Designer Label punch, Stamping Sponge

Friday, December 12, 2008

Feelin' the Love...

No, I don't have anything new to show you today... I'm still working on my own Christmas cards and haven't had time to play. But I DO want to show you some LOVE! I am so thankful to have all of you as true, loyal readers. I see it in my blog hit numbers, the comments you leave, the awards you give me (I'm horrible at posting those), and in my ranking just how often you come visit. And because I feel bad that I've been too busy to stamp for you, I thought I'd give you something else...


As you see, I've changed the name a bit, because I know there are some "blog ______ surfers" out there who just search for those words and don't really give a hoot about who I am and have probably never even seen my blog before. I know this may seem harsh, but I want my LOYAL readers to have the best shot at winning, so only comments with the information I've requested below will be counted. Entries without it will be skipped.

I don't know what the "sweet" will be yet, but my closet is overflowing with great stuff, so I'm going to draw not just one, but THREE winners this time!

All you have to do is leave a comment telling me about your favorite HAND-MADE gift. You see, in the Force household, we are sick and tired of the materialistic side of Christmas... it's always just "what can I buy for you this Christmas?" So we decided instead, to draw names (I drew Mason) and MAKE a homemade gift for the person we drew... something that no one else could give. I am very old fashioned, as you know, and so this reminds me of the old days where girls would work for months on a hand made quilt or some embroidery and the guys would stay busy out in the barn carving a new doll or building a table. THESE are the gifts that really MEAN something to me!! I am thrilled that my family agrees and we're all excited to see what each other comes up with. Even little Maddox will be in on the action (he drew his daddy). If you're interested, I could even show you after Christmas what we all made!

So, tell me about a hand made gift that you've either given or received that you continue to cherish. Oh, and please be sure to leave a way for me to contact you!

I will draw the winners on December 22nd, so you have exactly 10 days. Thank you again for your loyalty!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Big Savings on Retiring Sets!

It was just announced today that through December 23rd, Stampin' Up! is offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $70!! This is just in time to get those last minute gifts! (and a really good reason to get something for yourself as well!)

By the way, I do take wish lists and am always happy to contact your husbands, mothers, or anyone who needs gift ideas for you. Just e-mail me a list of the items you're interested in and the contact information for whomever you'd like me to reach out to. I do not put any pressure on anyone to buy, I simply offer them the idea. Stampin' Up! urges all holiday orders be placed by December 16th in order to be received by Christmas.

In addition to the free shipping, I have another great offer to share with you! The retired list was posted today and Stampin' Up! is giving a 10% DISCOUNT on all retiring sets!! How great is that?!

Click here to view the list in alphabetical order by stamp set.

Click here to view the list in numerical order by page number.

And click here to view the prices at the 10% discount!

Remember that you can shop at any time through my website. Just click on "Shop Now" in the upper right hand corner.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Deck the Halls...

I mentioned earlier that we spent an evening trimming the tree, and I wanted to show you the result. We used our very small tree this year because we will be spending the holiday with my brother's family and my parents out in the country. This tree is nice because it fits on our foyer table. We made all the ornaments from the On Board Trinkets Ornaments kit that is on page 14 of the current Mini Catalog, some of which are shown below:

They are so easy to make, that my boys did most of them by themselves! This is Mason...

and this is Morgan.

Oh, and even little Maddox got in on the action. He watched how Daddy "fixed" the lights, and that became his job.

I was really excited that the boys took such an interest in this project, and how they wanted to make the ornaments themselves.

Needless to say, we had a great time, and the tree turned out super cute!

Mason got very ingenious with the star topper... he made two of the paper stars that come in the kit and then attached them together with eyelets (he loves using the Crop-a-Dile!). When we placed it over the top of the tree, it was beautiful how the lights glow through it! You can see the glowing effect in the first picture above, but here's a close-up of Mason's handi-work:

We scattered several of the stars on the table at the base of the tree for a finishing touch.

Now, when you visit our house, Mason will be the first to say to you, "Come over here - you have to see our Stampin' Up! tree!!" Gotta love that!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Decision Made...

Thanks everyone for your great comments! I love to get your advice.

Just to clarify, though, the first card is intended to have the same family photo on it... it will go on the back of the postcard. I think some of you missed that part. In any case, last night, while the boys were busy trimming the tree (I can't wait to show you photos of that cuz it's a Stampin' Up! tree this year!), I was busy making OUR Christmas cards... and I'm going with the FIRST one! I've got 96 of them prepped and half-way made already! I opted to use brads instead of the linen thread to save time. I will show you the final result when I get one entirely finished.

Thanks again!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Dilemma

I'm still here... I know it's been way too long since you've seen anything from me! The bad news is that I haven't made anything new except what I'm about to show you. The good news is that I (knock on wood) haven't gotten sick! All 4 of my men have had sickness in one form or another, but I have been spared. I think I like this Airborne stuff! ...either that, or the good Lord is letting all of my boys get well before I get stuck with it!

In any case, I have a dilemma that I need help with. I have shown you the Christmas card that I was going to make this year... here's a refresher photo:

Remember that the postcard slides out and I'd put our photo on the back of it. You can see a second photo at this post. Anyway, y'all loved it but thought I was out of my gourd when I said I needed to make 150 of them (I probably am). So I created this, much simpler, card instead:

Well, here's the dilemma... my husband really likes that first one. He says that all the guys we send it to will think it's really cool. So that makes me want to do that one after all! Heck, to be able to impress GUYS with a homemade card?? How tempting is that?!

There's a second dilemma as well... with that second card, my original intention was for it to be a postcard-type (totally inspired by the custom card I created for a friend) and not open. But that doesn't really leave room for me to put all of our names. Sure, I could do it on the back, but the brads show back there. I could make the brads pierce only through the white background, but then I'd have to use SNAIL to hold the whole thing closed. I could let it open, but it doesn't look very good because of the brads in there, either.

As you can tell, I'm torn. And I think my head is so overloaded that I can't make this simple decision. But I'm almost finished with the wedding ensemble (YIPPEE!), so I need to figure out what I'm going to do and get busy! Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!!