Saturday, November 19, 2011


Tis the season! Earlier this week we posed our Christmas picture. These are some of the goodie-props we used, but it was actually the strawberries that were the biggest hit. You'll notice that we were able to get multiple uses out of the candy canes.

Gobble, Gobble
I found this little guy in the clearance section at Hobby Lobby and knew immediately that he would make an excellent centerpiece on our table. Baby painted it herself. We did one color at a time because that's how you keep everything from looking brown when you paint with a toddler. I varnished it and he has a proud seat on our Lazy Susan.

Okay, it had to come out -- I love Christmas. I love the music and the decorations and the story and everything about it. (Okay, not everything. I hate shopping.) The Hater used to have rules that I wasn't allowed to decorate or listen to music before Thanksgiving was over, but he's mellowed over the years.

I've been listening to Christmas music in my office since mid-September. I've been dreaming up Christmas crafts and projects since mid-October. And this weekend (with The Hater gone out of respect) Baby and I took the holiday season by storm.

Friday I came home from work and put out the tree, nativity and doo-dads. I went shopping for project supplies. I have embraced the season.

Salt Dough Ornaments
I'm not really sure when I got this burr in my saddle, but sometime in the past couple of weeks I decided that we really needed to try to make some salt dough ornaments. I'm not going to completely reinvent the wheel - this was my inspiration, recipe, directions. My friend sent this to me from her Pinterest.

I had no idea how hard it would be to knead the dough for 20 minutes. Holy cow. I thought my wrists were going to fall off. Baby was so excited she was jumping around like a crazy girl the whole time.

Helping Mommy by breaking things up. While I was using the knife I'd just give her a wad of dough to manipulate.

This is all that we made out of one batch.

I have a brilliant cousin (who I'll talk more about later) who did a similar project with her daughter last Christmas. They used air-dry clay (like the kind Crayola makes) and she let her make patterns in them. I stole her idea and we used a paper clip, a key, and a dinosaur to make patterns in the dough.

Most likely these will never actually hang from a tree, but they were lots of fun to make. We've painted some of them already and will paint on more tomorrow. We have family coming in later in the week for Thanksgiving, so I've already called to see if that grandmother will bring cookie cutters so we can do this all over again next weekend.

I'm really proud of this one and completely claim it as my own brief moment of brilliance. I traced Baby's hand on paper, then used the pattern to cut around in the dough to make a turkey. I've not varnished them yet, but she had lots of fun painting them this afternoon.

I went in to this project with low expectations, planning to be content if it ended as a good way to keep us both entertained in the house for a while, and I give it an A+. It wasn't that messy, was super easy, and because of the turkeys I'm extremely pleased with how it turned out. I would recommend doing this again.

These are just some random Christmas projects that we've been working on today.

As I type this I realize I forgot to take a picture of the fridge. On the bottom of the fridge I have a little tree magnet puzzle set (on one door) and a santa head puzzle set (on the other door). I had bought the tree set, not knowing if Baby would care about it or not. Well, she LOVES it. So I went back and bought the Santa set, too.

I also found a felt wreath set at Target for $5. Now for me that's really steep for a do-it-yourself gig, but I think it'll hold up well and be something that I can pull out every year for a while, so I went ahead and bought it. It's actually for kids 6 and up, but with help she was able to put all of the felt sticker-decorations onto the wreath. She laid where she wanted the bling and I glued it on. With leftover punch-out felt I cut some letters and put on it, too. (The reason you're not seeing that picture.) I also "sewed" the yarn through the precut holes on the edges. But she thinks that it was completely her project, so we're going to roll with that.

The wreath messed me up. I thought they were window clings, but turns out they were wall clings instead. I wasn't feeling sticking them up on the wall ($1 store treasure - not trusting it on the walls), so we put it on holiday scrapbooking paper leftover from a project last year. She signed it, too. I'll take this to work for my office door.

Window clings= $1 store treasures that she can stick and restick and stick again a thousand times.

The Nativity

One of my first real purchases for Christmas after The Hater and I were married was my nativity set. My grandmother has a beautiful set - and she gave her kids beautiful sets, too. I wanted one and knew it would be something I could add to over time. But, like theirs, it was not to be played with by little hands. I remember being little and longing to play with the beautiful pieces.

Yes, these are little rubber duckies that make a nativity scene. I mail-ordered them at the beginning of the year when the Christmas things went on sale. It's important to me that Baby has something she can play with - enter the ducks.

We acted out the Christmas story with the ducks about a dozen times today while sitting at the piano. She loved them and I love that she loved them.

The set-up! I am really proud how this side of the room came together. And it makes my heart happy that most of the space is dedicated to the holy part of the holiday.

The Tree
The star is a used toilet paper roll, slit and cut, then painted by Baby with a q-tip. It's just tied on with some extra yarn.

I stole the idea for the ornaments from my brilliant cousin. Her specialty is early childhood education and I steal brilliant ideas from her all the time. She used dead plants in her house to make "Thankful Trees" where she cut out leaves and let her two year old come up with things that she was thankful for to decorate. Turned out super cute.

I used a circle cutter on plain, boring craft paper. Then we came up with things that Baby was thankful for. Except that's a tough concept for a two year old, so we talked about things that made us happy instead, then I explained that when we practice focusing on what makes us happy - that's kindof like being thankful. Went way over her head, but we're still going to talk about it and hopefully by Christmas she'll figure it out.

I wrote the things that she came up with, then she colored each of them. I ran some yarn through the circles and slid over the end of the branches.

I had emailed my brilliant cousin that I was going to steal her idea and do this, then of course in her brilliance she emailed me after I was done to suggest more brilliant ideas. So if you think about doing it- here's a way to make it more fancy: Give your leaves (or whatever you're attaching) stems, put glue on the stem, wrap stem around the branch, then here's the biggie: use mini clothespins to hold the leaves in place until the glue dries a bit. Works like a charm!

It would also be interesting to use scrapbooking paper. I had some of that, but chose to use this instead because I wanted less-opaque paper that would allow the lights to glow behind them.

Can you tell that she's the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of farmers? Or what we prayed for a whole whole lot this summer? Or who her friends are?

The colored candy canes were $1 at the dollar store - the red and white ones are actually stickers for gifts that I forgot to use last year, also bought in a $1 section.

This is her request for supper just about every night. I was completely not surprised that she listed it with the things that make her happy.

It's a $20 tree with homemade paper ornaments, but Baby thinks it's the most beautiful thing she's ever seen. Forget the Hokey Pokey - that's what it's all about.

We're on our way to being ready to ring in the holidays.


Cerulean Bill said...

Great jumping chmumpkins, thats nice.

Anonymous said...

I must say you're in the spirit of the season early. Creative, too, and baby is getting a delightful education.

genderist said...

Thanks guys! I'm on the lookout for more obnoxious hand-made holiday bling, so let me know if you think of something that we simply can't do without.

Kelly said...

I'm blushing over here! You give me way too much credit.

Love all the holiday cheer going on in this post. Makes me want to get started on mine! I bet Baby is having a blast.

Anonymous said...

Rodger, dodger, will keep me good eye peeled.

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Harrison said...

I am absolutely in love with the decorations! They look great!