What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in review

In January...
I shared the family secret that had plagued me for two months. Adele' might be deaf. She went through five hearing exams, all failed (some due to technical difficulties) only to be told to come back when she is two. A year later~while she may be hearing impaired in one ear (maybe) she is not deaf by any means and jabbers with the best of them and comes a 'crawlin when you call. I praise God that He allowed me peace and joy as I accepted the news and I thank all of you for sharing and encouraging me during that questioning time.

In February, I spied my first bluebird.

In March, we got ChIcKeNs!!!

April showers brought:

lots of sewing for me and my girl...and a Panda who turned THREE.

In May,
I got apple blossoms for my birthday, laundry got lilac-infused on the line, I started my cardboard garden, Opa came to visit and MacDonalds farm got larger with a calf.


sisters adore one another. (and I posted a skirt tutorial.)

In July:
I start my Gratitude list.
(and I hosted a rainy book exchange. And the garden grew.)

In August:
we went visiting.

Matt used vacation time for the first time in....ages.

In September:

my girl turned six (*sniff*)
I got my LIBRARY!!!!!
We had our FIRST Foto Friday Challenge (to be restarted next week! So be ready!)
we started off the school year with a bang!

In October:

Harvesting went into high gear
we made cider
the Blob MOVED NOT
Got bunkbeds--now have a spare bed--NEED MORE CHILDREN
Had a tussle with Blue Eyeliner (I won)

In November:

We somehow survive self-portrait Christmas Family photos again this year
The Elf workshop opens
We get indoctrinated in evolution
We use any excuse to play

and baby turns ONE.

In December:

We created
We decorated
We admired
and we had the best Christmas ever.

Because we have life and love that is so much more abundant than we deserve.

Christmas Day

Since moving back near family again, Christmas has become....hectic, once again.

Christmas Eve with my folks (and bros and sisters).

Christmas day with Matt's Gram and about 30 extended family

Christmas evening with Matt's folks (and bros and sisters)

This leaves not a whole lot of time for US and a little family Christmas of our own or the making of our own yearly Christmas traditions. A fact which I mourn every year.

It also makes the days go by super fast, be super-filled with visiting (and gifts) and as a result: makes picture taking hardly a priority.

Nevertheless, I snapped a few.

From Our House:

1. Somewhere in the midst of baths, doing hair, dolling up, gathering and wrapping presents and opening stockings, I managed to make gingerbread pancake snowmen. With real whipped cream snow. (and REAL maple syrup that Matt's dad made....for the record)

a lovely living room with bits of love framing doorways, stockings waiting expectantly in the golden glow, and Mary and Joseph beaming with pride and adoration.

3. Finding a spot to hang stockings was quite the predicament. Eventually, I settled on an old salvaged shutter leaning against the wall.

4. Throughout the rest times of December, Corynn would make drawings, then wrap and tape them up and secretly tuck them into stockings. (I had my suspicions she was an elf!) I loved to watch how excited and intent she was as the receiver opened her present to them. She clasped her hands behind her back and stared intently at the unwrapping just long enough for the paper to rip before she swooped in and starting pointing and explaining the meaning of it all. Incredibly dear.

5. My precious nativity. One of the best wedding presents we received. An angel eventually flew from her treetop home to the stable in order to pay homage to the Christ child too.

6. Utter exhaustion. The very best kind.

From Gram's:

After lunch and before presents, entertainment is provided. This year we had a visit from Elvis.

From Matt's Folks:

The very best Christmas present ever was for Andrew this year. Grandpa built him a huge, beautiful wooden barn. With boxstalls and a removeable roof. And two entrance doors so the tractor can come in and out with turning around.

It is beyond beautiful and even more so was the time and effort he put into it. Grandma had the idea and Grandpa brought that idea to life, making the gift a beautiful token of love written from their hearts to his.

Everyone was flabberghasted when it was revealed and nothing could compare afterwards.

Apparently it was Santa's workshop over there because he also made a little doll cradle for Miss Adele'.

We feel incredibly blessed by their love.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Handmade Christmas, again (are you sick of it yet?)

A Homemade Christmas at SimplyVintagegirl.com

A few more handmade gifts to share. This will complete all the extended family gifts. Believe it or not~none of these include any gifts for my own children or husband. I hate to say it, but I will have ONE more handmade Christmas post coming sometime in the (near) future.

I am overlooking the fact that it will be mightily late (as is this one) but perhaps even the post-Christmas gifts might inspire in the future one of the visitors here. And if not~ at least I will be able to look back on this Christmas and see how much I accomplished.


For two of the most adorable nieces (who are not very far apart in age and due to differing body types-about the same size): Matching Shirred sundresses. I have been hoarding this material for my own children...but you know what they say: Tis better to give than to receive. (Or Hoard.)

And for a little sister who loves *LITTLE* things: A Wee Doll family to match her own (family that is...)

This was, believe it or not, the most TIME CONSUMING gift of all of them probably. And incredibly intelligent me decided to wait until a day or two before the gift exchange to get serious about completing them. So the outfits are entirely too plain for my liking-but it was miraculous enough just to complete them on time. I was sweating it. Profusely.


Some super cool record bowls for my super cool brother and sister in law. Loved them. Inspiration: HERE.


For a little chef, No-Sew Play Food was just the ticket. This was probably the most addicting gift I made. I could have made a TON more deliciousness to give had I had more time. As I would create one thing, I would get an idea for another. The children loved it all so much I promised we would work together to make some for our kitchen sometime this winter.
For Breakfast:

Eggs (Dippy, if you ask me)

For Lunch:

A serious sandwich (Bread, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and bacon)
A gingerbread man cookie
For Dinner:

Ravioli with mozzerella topped sauce

All were made with cotton balls, felt, fabric paint and hotglue. The carrot included some scrap green fringe.

I made a foam grocery bag to store it all in.


I made a BEAUTIFUL ruffled scarf (which I forgot to take a picture of! *sniff*) out of this yarn (light rose) using THIS free pattern.

I am so sad I forgot a picture. It was really beautiful. And amazingly soft and shimmery and oh-so-feminine.

I love Bernat's Bamboo yarn.


A Blue-birdy Bath Mat with coordinated towels for my mom. Used a towel for the mat and mitered corners with some of Oma's blue fabric. Appliqued bird, embroidered branches and button berries. LOVED it.

Want to make a birdy pillow for myself in this exact same style. Different colors, maybe.

Had the coordinated towels set aside for some animal hoodie-towels. A year later, animal hoodies still hadn't appeared. Convenient!


A Manicure set for my beautiful niece is cosmetology.

The tutorial/pattern was graciously shared here.


And wouldn't you know?!? Matt got into the gift-making too!!!

He crafted some soft maple frames to house some posters he had bought for his dad and brother. They were big hits (and very well made, if I might add.) The frames had shiplap corners. (whatever that means) :-)

And He also made a leather bible bag for my dad.

Beautifully stitched and the leather so perfectly suits my Dad. I had taken some incognito bible-measurements during a visit to Mom's.


In the final analysis:

I challenged myself to a completely Handmade Christmas because:

  • I had a craft room full of supplies that I was tired of not doing anything with
  • I wanted to rekindle an appreciation for homemade gifts in a time of plastic toys, XBOX and giftcards. (None of which, btw, can be homemade. Ever.)
  • I wanted to challenge myself to think deeply about the person to receive the gift (and see if I could discover something that they really loved.)
  • I wanted to reject the notion that holidays have to be expensive.
  • I wanted to return to a time when thoughtfulness was gift enough and when time and effort counted for something.
  • I wanted to encourage myself and others to slow down and find meaning in those things that REALLY matter, the gifts that God have already given. Like creativity and devotion and love.
  • I wanted to see if I *could*
I think I succeeded in every one of those things and discovered a few more blessings along the way.

I discovered how exciting it is to see the reaction of the person who received a homemade gift from you.

I discovered how worthwhile it is to spend your own moments thinking about the receiver. What they like, what blesses them, considering their lives and praying for them. Making something for someone draws those moments into your heart much more than a shopping trip and quick wrap-job.

I realized how much can be accomplished if you set a goal for yourself.

I realized that a home swirling with creativity fosters the very same in the little people of the house and that devoting time to others as adults results in little people looking beyond themselves and thrilling at the thought of doing good for others.

And finally-I realized there is NOTHING LIKE the pride of handing over a gift that has love moments wrapped in paper and saying (without really saying) "I did this for you because I care."

Honestly, I wonder if/how I will ever be able to go back to non-homemade Christmases.

I do have some regrets though.

1. December was harried, not by shopping but by making. So much so that many projects that I had hoped to do in anticipation of Christmas (with the children) had to be set aside. That was sad for me, because I do very much love those silly holiday craftings and traditions leading up to Christmas. And so do the children.

2. After doing more than 20 gifts, I did begin to lose steam. Especially when I saw laundry piling up and cool projects I wanted to make for myself (greedy!).

3. A week before Christmas the timing in my sewing machine went bazerk. (I am beginning to think my sewing machine has a vendetta against me). A week BEFORE Christmas. (May I remind you I JUST got it back from getting CLEANED?! Molly Monkey was the only project I got out of the thing before it had a little hissyfit. argh) A WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS! And I had several sewing projects in line. I ended up borrowing my Mom's. (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU MOM!) but my goodness was I stressed for a while there!

ALL of these things could have been resolved with just one little thing: starting EARLIER. Had I been working through the year (or even for a few months prior to Christmas) I would have had plenty of time to do it ALL, casually, with time to spare for fun little advent projects and homemade Christmas decorations.

Even despite those minor inconveniences, I had a blast and this personal challenge was not only reqarding but made this Christmas tremendously meaningful to me.

And I proud of myself for sticking to it. :-)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

Christmas Eve is always spent with my side of the family in their home.

It's always a mighty full house and the children outnumber the adults.

Here are a *very* few shots from there. I get frustrated with low-light situations and would rather not take any photos at all then to waste time taking bad shots. Call me lazy. Call me dumb for not knowing how to clear the flash hurdle. Call me whatever.

But it would be a SIN to not take a picture of this funny moment:

Those headbands from way back when were worn in a different way than I had anticipated. Much more stylishly I might add!


Mom really wanted a family picture this year. This is my brother Benjamin's first year back home in many a year, so it was extra special to have him for Christmas.

Can I remind you how much I HATE taking indoor shots when the sun goes down at, oh, 2 o'clock?? H.A.T.E. it. They are always ALWAYS grainy.

But here they are Mom, full of grain and all. Hope you like!

I couldn't decide which I liked better, so I made a black and white version too.

And because we are who we are, a silly version was absolutely necessary.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

(I couldn't resist a repost of my favorite Santa baby from last year.)

Be well, friends

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On the Eve of Christmas Eve

On this Eve of Christmas Eve, I .........

  • have not even started the crafting for my children or husband. Um. HELP.
  • have three more projects to complete for extended family (though all three only require a *bit* more work
  • forgot entirely to make a cookie/candy tray for Mattie to take to work. And today is his last day until after the holidays. This is a MAJOR oversight in my book.
  • have SEVEN loads of laundry piled up on the schoolroom sofa and floor, to fold. It has been there (and been added to) for two days. I had been so busy crafting, shopping, baking, etc. that I forgot all about the laundry until we had no more undies, socks or shirts left between us. I knew if I didn't get cracking, I wouldn't get a chance until AFTER Christmas when we would have to lead clothing-optional lives.

This fact brings to mind several things:
  1. I am not accustomed to drying clothes in a dryer-you can accomplish A LOT with one of those in such a short period of time!
  2. I am terrified to open our electricity bill.
  3. we have ENTIRELY too many clothes!!!!
  4. The whole "One Sunday outfit, one for play and lots of aprons seems VERY appealing to me.
For the record-the only thing in my dirty clothes basket now is a hanky (that was hiding out in a pair of pants, two socks (of COURSE not matching) and a cloth napkin stowaway. that is, until tonight.

  • am being tempted to let my DVD player be a babysitter. (and that is SO not like me.) Don't worry, I haven't yet succumbed to the pressure.
  • have pompoms, pipecleaners and felt slathering the dininr room table.
  • have a craft room that can barely be walked in
  • haven't taken a new photograph in almost a week (with one exception)
  • am listening to Christmas carols constantly through the house and car (and I am not sick of them yet)
  • think hot cocoa is a very good thing
  • was shocked when I did animals chores this morning, a bit of water spilled on the patio and it froze in it's pile. It didn't even get a chance to spread. (No-I am not kidding.)
  • have a fridge needs a cleaning in the WORST way. I wish I could pay someone to do it.
  • watch as my children fill up stockings for their dolls and each other-and play at that for hours.
  • have made 8 batches of peppermint meringues so far this Christmas and eaten about 3/4 of them myself.
  • haven't wrapped a single gift.
  • find that feeding a deliciously warm woodstove is my favorite winter chore.
  • am making chili for supper tonight. with sour cream, taco cheese, and tortilla chips.
  • find immense pleasure in receiving Christmas cards.
  • am incredibly thankful to be celebrating the 12 days of Christmas this year: the only way I could finish it all in time.
  • like to sit in the living room and stare at the beautiful tree. I wish I could do it a little more.
  • have played Bananagrams with Matt almost every evening for two weeks straight. We love it.
  • could keep going on this list forever but I just realized I think I *might* actually be using it to procrastinate. SO, I'd better be off. :-)
PS. The above photo was taken after I asked Corynn to make a bored face. She couldn't do it without laughing her head off. Over and Over. She would make a bored face and within two nanoseconds she'd be laughing hysterically. So no-she doesn't have an attitude (even if it might look it in the first photo. Just so's you know....)

Friday, December 18, 2009


Imagine a brother and sister in law who cut down a tree from their own land, drove it 30 miles and plunked it in your yard with a "Ho Ho Ho~MEERRRRYYY Christmas!!"

Imagine stringing the tree with colored lights just to restring it with white lights because...there is something so pure about lights like stars. Or THE star. A living room filled up with twinkling declarations of His coming.

Imagine the cd player not working properly, so Papa singing out Christmas carols instead. Imagine little voices and BIG voices joining in whenever they knew the words (and even when they didn't.)

cups of cold, homemade eggnog courtesy of the chickens that morning with freshly whipped cream and a sprinkling of nutmeg.

whipped cream lips.

dancing with angels.

Imagine eating a very-favorite meal (sausage gravy~the children's favorite) over freshly toasted, homemade cracked wheat bread. Using wheat you cracked yourself.

Imagine eating said meal in the LIVING room (never done that before!) all around the Christmas tree.

Imagine "You a good Mama and a weally good cooker." coming from a little boychild right into your heart.

Imagine gazing at your love, in candlelight, across the room-and still seeing the twinkles in his eyes.

Imagine snowflakes falling on your tree as big as your head.

Imagine laying out the tree skirt and fondly recollecting the determination to finish making it the day before Christmas, that first Newman Christmas, yearning to have that skirt grace all of our Christmases in the future. Pining for a tradition to begin.

Imagine laying it out and thanking God that it has seen 7 Christmases, all very different from one another but all incredibly dear.

Imagine strands of popcorn and cranberries, as elegant as pearls and rubies, draped across the boughs.

Imagine so many lights it seems to be daylight even in the black darkness of midnight.

Imagine a tree so tall the angel has no room for a Halo.

a tree nearly 8 feet wide at the base, swallowing up a once-spacious living room and radiating because of it.

the stories told as old ornaments are carefully unwrapped. One from my 1st grade teacher. 1st Christmas feet prints from all my babies. A "First Christmas Together" locket ornament that STILL, seven years later, holds the generic photos of strangers.

Imagine the awe of it all.

And then, realize that you never were imagining at all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More Handmade Goodness

A Homemade Christmas at SimplyVintagegirl.com

Whose ready for some more HOMEMADE Christmas?!?!

I know *I* am!!!

When I took on the task of a completely homemade Christmas, I did so knowing I didn't want to just make some universal gift and thrust it into arms saying "HERE! LIKE it." I wanted to be deliberate and thoughtful, creating personal gifts that would not only have the receiver pleased-but also knowing that I *knew* them. For that reason, finding the project ideas took nearly as long as completing the projects. (well, maybe not-but it did take a long time!)

Probably the gift I love most of all this year is this one:

The Soma Square.
It is basically a bunch of cubes glued together to make pieces which, when appropriately placed, makes a cube. It looks mild-mannered but let me tell you~this puzzle is REALLY challenging!

I love it because I think it is a perfect gift for guys (and those are hard to come by) and because I find it terribly clever. I LOVE that it is challenging but also drives determination. And finally~I love it because my husband has been playing with it ever since I made it. I SHOULD have made it for HIM. (He has since found SIX solutions to the puzzle!)

This gift requires 27 wooden cubes, glue and PAINT (if you want to paint it). The directions for making the pieces are here.

Have you yarn-workers out there heard of Ravelry?
"ummmm...who HASN'T??"

HEY! WHO JUST SAID THAT?! Well, I joined up and found a few great patterns to use for Christmas (and A LOT of projects queued for later!).

Another guy gift: A HAT

crochet pattern found here (At Ravelry)


And ANOTHER HAT (this time, with EARFLAPS) :

This pattern, too, came from Ravelry.

(Did I mention it is free to join?)

My goal was not to go buy MORE yarn but to try to make many of these gifts with supplies I already had on hand. The "recipe" calls for Jiffy Thick N Quick but since I didn't have that, I used TWO strands of yarn.

I have never done that before so I feel mighty proud of myself.

Mattie was kind enough to model them for me. My, he is a looker.


Sick of crochet yet?

Here is super cute neckwarmer.

I simply chained the width I wanted and loosely (and with a big hook) single crocheted enough rows until I had the length I wanted.

Well, I WISH it could have been a wee bit longer--but the skein ran out so this is as long as it gets.

Love it.


Here is another fabulous gift I am excited about. I made necklaces out of some of my photographs and since I didn't want to give anything away for the worthy recipients, I *HAD* to make one for myself too. (To post HERE)

This is my most favorite picture of myself. Taken about an hour after giving birth (taken by me) it perfectly conveys to me the emotion and utter peace of new birth and motherhood. This photo evokes passion in me like no other photograph ever.

I love it.

And NOW, I can wear it!

Merry Christmas to me!!! (From: ME!) hehehe


Speaking of photos:

How about some MAGNETS? I made these with twist-top beer bottle caps that I have been saving every time Matt pops one off and rare earth magnets so they are SUPER strong. I put a clear resin over top of the photo and MAN-that is some GNARLY stuff. Phew.

I want to make some of these for my OWN fridge, but I think I will wait until summer-when I can do it OUTSIDE to escape those awful resin fumes.


And last (for now) but not least:

I post this idea especially for you Riahli (sorry it has taken me so long!):

A perfect gift for the kids to get in on~ SOAP!!

These are SUPER simple to make.

You need a container of glycerin soap (at A.C.Moore for $9.99 but you KNOW that 40% off coupon comes in handy right about then...), a plastic cup or soap mold and a small toy of some sort.

You can make these fancy with glitter, food coloring and scents if you would like, but you certainly don't HAVE to.

The toys I used were squishy bugs from the dollar store. I have made them before and my kids had a BLAST with them. Once the soap gets used enough to grab a "piece" the squishy bugs stretch and pull out of the soap and create the COOLEST FOSSILS ever.


(Yes-we are homeschoolers.)

You melt the chunks of soap, stir in the coloring, glitter and scent (if you like) and then pour into the mold. Wait a minute or two and then place your toy in there (face down). When it is hard plunk it out of the molds and admire them!

That's IT!

Easy peasy!

Here are some that I made this past summer (sans food coloring and glitter).

and THAT'S All Folks!!!

(for nnnnnoooooooooooooowwwwwww)