Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We've shared our family presents tonight on Christmas Eve as the children will be away tomorrow at their Dad's. A great time was had by all. This year for the first time all of my children went independently shopping for each other and put in a lot of thought about what each of their siblings might like. I was so proud of them. 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's the Season of Giving

I've always fostered traditions for my family at Christmas time. I believe this is what makes Christmas special for us, the anticipation of the rituals of the season and the happiness evoked from that. For us, sharing some kindness through out December has become part of the tradition and this year it became a daily event of the Christmas advent with the introduction of R.A.O.Ks.

Random Acts of Kindness seem to have gathered momentum around the world. When devising our family's list, there was plenty of inspiration from blogs, websites and Pinterest. We sat down one night about a month ago together and thought of some ideas that might work for us. My new advent calendar (Dusty Attic) is now the R.A.O.K. calendar - a different idea for each day.

Some R.A.O.Ks that we did this year included:

  • baking cakes for the police and fire departments
  • leaving candycanes at ATMs
  • putting 'Instant Kiwis' (scratchies) on car windscreens
  • donating toys to the charity tree
  • giving one of my 'family and baby' artworks to the local maternity unit
  • opening up my Christmas house and donating the money to Hospice
  • leaving vases of flowers at people's doorsteps
  • giving the newspaper person, the postie and rubbish truck drivers gifts
  • buying a coffee for the next person in line
  • leaving a Christmas CD for someone to find
  • donating clothes to the Salvation Army
  • giving sweets to the swimming pool lifeguards
  • baking snickerdoodle cookies for our neighbours
  • singing carols at the local resthome

On reflection it has required a fair amount of organisation but has been a lot of fun....the sight of my 6 foot son sneaking a vase of flowers over to a friend's door was priceless, and the younger boys loved distributing out the R.A.O.Ks on windscreens, ATMs and to people. Definitely now part of our Christmas traditions!

'Twas the Night Before....

It's 1am on Christmas Eve, less than 24 hours to go until the big day. I've just finished wrapping all the presents and it's very peaceful. Not so peaceful up in Christchurch where they have had a bout of significant aftershocks today - my thoughts are with them tonight.

The Gingerbread Christmas House was a great success once again. I think approximately 500 people would have come through. It certainly helps me to get in the Christmas mood. One thing I love is that my candles are all lit  - it really is a magical effect.

I've been making simple candle holders out of glass, tissue and ink. I made eight of them tonight to give to my sisters for Christmas.

There is not much to them - you need a straight sided glass to use for your holder.
Using tissue paper, stamp an image all over an area to fit the glass. I used a Tim Holtz script stamp with grey ink. Cut the tissue roughly to size and then Mod Podge the tissue carefully to the glass. I did this using a large brush directly on the glass. When dry, Mod Podge the outer side of the glass. 

Finally, when the glue is completely dry, use an emery board to sand the edges back. The tissue is an excellent medium for allowing the candle glow brightly through.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Made with love

When my children were small I was a stay-at-home mum. I started my own childrenswear business, sewing baby and toddler clothing, which kept me busy for a few years but I became really hooked on quilting at the same time. I've made quilts for each of the children, for me, for friends and to donate to charity. What I really love making is Christmas wallhangings and I typically make one a year (although the wall space seems to be decreasing somehow!)

Today I'm sharing some of my favourite quilts and Christmas crafts.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge | Furry Faces

This is Spike, our seal Burmese, as a kitten. It was a shot that wasn't intended but what a great expression!

I decided to get another Burmese cat and give the ownership to William who was 9 at the time and going through a bit of a rough time. It's been the best thing for him - whenever he feels a bit down he seeks out his cat and takes him down to his room for a cuddle. And Spike gets to sleep on his bed at nights too. Everybody loves Spike - he's big and friendly and loves people back, in fact, he has many characteristics of a dog. Sometimes I get a call from a tradesman to say that a cat has taken a ride in the work van after a visit to our house (he is a big fan of car rides).

Spike has spent a few of his lives already, including a run in with the neighbour's Alsatian that had him in at the vets for a week, but let's hope he is around for a long time as part of our family.

Let it Snow!

Not only can we buy penguin decorations, but also snowflakes, icicles and snowmen. It's a contradiction to Christmas in New Zealand where we celebrate with BBQs at the beach! But I have a gorgeous snow tipped tree and the obvious choice was to decorate it with snow themed ornaments....

The rail behind the tree will have a blue and white star quilt hanging on it for next week.

I made the decoration below using a mini canvas which I did a collage on, mod podged it and then added embellishments. The ribbon is attached with a heavy duty staple. I'm crafting with Jack's Year 1 and 2 class tomorrow for the last day of school so was experimenting with some ideas.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Peter's Penguins

Today I'm posting about an unusually themed Christmas tree - Peter's penguin tree. Since a very young age Peter absolutely loved penguins (so much so he asked for penguins as his 4th birthday theme). So over the years, when I've bought each of the kids a decoration for their own collection, Peter's decoration has always been a penguin.

Surprisingly, especially for a country that is celebrating the Christmas season in mid summer, penguins continue to be a prevailing theme in decorations available in the shops. Now we have enough to decorate a mini tree and although it doesn't fit with the overall decorating style I do, it looks perfect in the kids' bathroom. The dominant colours are bright blue and black. I love the way ribbon adds the perfect finishing touch as a tree topper.

Next week I'm opening up my home again for two nights. Originally I wasn't planning to open this year but I've had so many requests and since most the house was done anyway I've advertised for Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd. Donations to South Canterbury Hospice - call in if you are in the area!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas makeover day

I woke up motivated today so have made the most of the fleeting mood and worked on the house for Christmas. A little Harry Connick and Michael Buble helped to inspire some Christmas spirit. I've done three trees now. I'm not sure if that's my limit this season... I love my snow tree so that might be the weekend project. If you are around, feel free to call in as I'm not opening to the public this year.

This is the progress:

 You can imagine how the introduction of the lolly jars had some small people very excited. I really should have held off a few more weeks but somehow even I couldn't resist...

And thanks to my friend Lowri and her awesome blog Papervine I finally did her paper covered lid project with Echo Park Seasons Greetings Plaid paper. Tim (9) said it looks just like Craigs Jam.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Home for Christmas

Yesterday I made myself proud as I became a truly independent woman with the purchase of an 18v cordless drill. The reason was to mount this gorgeous piece of furniture to the wall. I have coveted the Pottery Barn cubby organiser for months and when I saw it in Houston I knew how perfect it would be on the limited wall space left in my living room. Unfortunately my luggage, and strength for carrying it, was at capacity and I sadly left it in the store.

When I got home last week I looked it up again and the shipping was half price (thank you!). I ordered it on Thursday afternoon and on Monday morning it was here at my doorstep in Timaru, New Zealand!

I've put some decorations in it and it looks even more fabulous than I imagined it would :)

Milly in an awkward position sleeping while I decorated.

I just loved Pottery Barn. Here a few photos of their very styley store displays:

I bought several PB ornaments, cranberries for filling a hurricane lamp and this old fashioned sled which did come back in a suitcase ( a few shoes thrown out as sacrifice). The rat and the hare were New York purchases from the coolest toy store ever, Dinosaur Hill in East Village. It was a really old school store which sold kazoos, tin whistles, finger and hand puppets, unique games etc. The soft toys are handmade by a lady in the Netherlands. Just divine.

Ribbon was exceptionally cheap compared to NZ prices and I bought a number of rolls for Christmas decorating. Here I've put bows at the end of the garlands above the living room windows. I am a big advocate of using greenery in your decorating (does that excuse me for having nine full sized trees?) And ribbons can really add to the finished look. For more ideas, head back to my blogs from last Christmas and of course, keep checking my blog as I will be adding more updates over the next month.