Just chatting

It’s been a while since I’ve had a “just chatting” kind of post, so I thought I’d catch up with the doings around here.

I wanted to let you know that iBelieve.com contacted me and asked to reprint an article I had submitted to the Perennial Gen about caregiving. They gave it a different title, but the content is the same: 3 Lifegiving Tips for Caregivers Struggling with Guilt and Resentment.

Writing progress

My WIP (work in progress) has over 29,000 words now! Yay! I’ve written most of what was in my mind. Now I am going through notes I left to myself on my phone to remind me of points I wanted to add. Then I need to go through a list of posts and a stack on books that I wanted to reference. Then I need to take a look at each individual chapter and see what shaping-up I need to do. This is all a bit more tedious, but very necessary. I am still mulling over some of the same writing questions I mentioned a month or so ago, but I think I am about ready to create an author Facebook page. It seems like that should wait til I am finished or even published, but I am told publishers want that kind of thing established beforehand.

Cards

As many of you know, I like to make cards as a creative outlet. It has been a while since I shared them, so here’s what I have made since last time I showed them.

This was my Father’s Day card for Jim, done on the Cricut.

This was for Jason for Father’s Day, also cut on the Cricut machine. As Timothy’s into super-heroes, I thought this would fit. πŸ™‚

I forgot to take a picture of my step-father’s card.

This was for a friend’s birthday. The paper was so pretty in itself, I didn’t want to cover it up with a lot of other things.

This was for Jim’s mom’s 90th birthday. She likes yellow.

This was for Jason’s birthday last month. Technically the design is not a birthday one, but when I saw it on the Cricut design space, I *had* to use it. I also learned a new skill with this one: changing out the blade for a Cricut pen, which does the lettering.

Movies

I mentioned yesterday the books I’ve read the past month. We don’t watch many movies – Jim prefers shorter programs. But we’ve seen a few over the last several months. The Book Thief was excellent, set during WWII about a girl sent to live with foster parents in Germany who then hide a young Jewish man in their basement. Wonder, about a deformed boy trying to go to school for the first time, was really good, too, with several touching moments and a lot of fun ones. The Finest Hours was based on a true story about the largest small boat rescue ever. A tanker was ripped in half during a storm, and four men in a small boat brought back 32 survivors (the boat was only supposed to hold 20 or so). Warning: there were a couple of bad words at the beginning. But otherwise this was excellent. I especially liked watching the main character’s growth.

My first podcasts

Lisa would be so proud of me! She mentions several good-sounding podcasts every month, but usually I listen to either music or audiobooks. But recently I listened to several in regard to the recent PBS adaptation of Little Women. It was fun hearing some of the background and views from some of the actors.

Recent Conversations

For July 4th, my son and daughter-in-law brought over some themed plates that someone had given them. When we asked Timothy what the plates reminded him of, with their red and white stripes and white stars on a blue background, he said, “Captain America!”

One day I spilled my lunch down my front and lamented, “I’ve been feeding myself for over 50 years, and I still keep spilling!” Jim said, “It’s only going to get worse.”

One day I found this on my bathroom ceiling:

I called Jim to come and take care of it for me. He said, “It’s ugly.”

I replied, “It’s gross.”

He responded, “He can’t help it.”

πŸ™‚

Around the Blog

Besides the weekly Friday’s Fave Fives, book reviews, and occasional laudable linkage, my favorite posts the last month have been:

When the Solution I Want Isn’t What I Need

Doing or Don’t-ing?

Psalms for the Sleepless

Violence in Films, Books, and the Bible

Bedrock Truth

***

We’ve had a pretty quiet, routine summer so far. Lots of fun times together with the family. Later this month my oldest son comes for a visit, and Jim will take some time off then. We usually have a few outings the week Jeremy is here. It will be nice to have some extended family time and a bit of a “stay-cation.”

Better get back to work now. Thanks for visiting and chatting with me!

(Sharing with What I’m Into with Leigh Kramer)

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Recent Cards

I thought I’d share some of the cards I’ve made recently.

This was for a friend.

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The wording was made with a stamp. I don’t remember where I got the stamp, but I love it.

This one was for Jim’s birthday in March.

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The wording was done on the computer and it and the background shapes were made with two different sized punches.

This was for Timothy’s birthday:

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Since these are licensed characters (PJ Masks, for those of you unfamiliar with preschooler TV heroes. πŸ™‚ They provided the theme for his birthday this year), I wanted to be careful not to just copy images from the Internet. I searched for free PJ Mask printables and found these as cupcake toppers, then printed and cut the figures out for the card.

The rest are for Mother’s Day. This one was for a sweet lady I’ve looked up to as an adopted spiritual mom since my college days.

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The paper was so pretty and detailed, I wanted to keep any added decorations simple.

This was for a friend, and I ended up using the same basic idea, but on a square card.

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This was for my mother-in-law:

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The design was done on the Cricut, but was a little smaller than the card, so I filled in the corners with these stick-on 3-D flowers.

And this is one of my favorites, for my daughter-in-law:

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This just looked like her and Timothy! This design was on the Cricut also, so all I had to do was choose the design and papers, push the right buttons to cut them out, and then glue it all together.

You can tell I am not a professional, with not-the-best lighting and my fingers in some of the photos to hold the cards down. But I make them as an expression of love to the recipients and for fun and a creative outlet as well.

Recent Cards

I thought I’d share with you some cards I’ve made lately, most of them for Valentine’s Day.

This one was for Jim, from an idea I saw on Pinterest.

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None of my heart punches was big enough for the size I needed for the heart cut-out, so I traced a stencil on the back to cut out with an Xacto knife. But I forgot that, since it was on the back, I needed to tilt it the opposite direction from what I wanted it to be on the front. So trying to write the initials the right direction was really confusing – I guess that must be the way left-handed people feel about much of the right-handed world. In fact, after a number of tries, I ended up tilting the paper with the initials on it to line up with the direction of the heart, resulting in the “grain” of the wood print underneath to run diagonally instead of vertically. But don’t tell anyone – maybe they won’t notice. πŸ™‚

This was for my oldest son, apt since he lives in another state:

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This was also spurred from a Pinterest find. To take you behind the scenes a bit, when I clicked through to the web site from which it came, I read that the box came from a stamp. I didn’t want to buy a stamp for a one-time usage and didn’t know if I could find one anyway, so first I tried to draw one. That didn’t go so well. πŸ™‚

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So I thought I’d look for a clip-art box online that I could trace around, and then it dawned on me that I could print off a clip-art box and then just cut it out (duh!). So I did that and used an Xacto knife to open a slit to put the little hearts into. The hearts were made with a heart punch and several scraps of red paper. The letters were stickers, which I ended up not being too crazy about because the sticker wasn’t just the letter: it included a little plastic around the letter, and when the light hits it just right, you can see all the plastic. But I did like the script and the way it came out overall.

This was for Jason, also inspired by Pinterest:

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I just noticed the title there said this was from designs “for her,” but I thought this was masculine-looking and used it for that reason! I found a world map online, printed it out, and used a stencil to make the heart shape.

This was for Mittu. She likes purple, so I looked through my purple papers until I came up with an idea. The design was embossed with a Cuttlebug folder, one I don’t think I had used yet.

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The wording on all of these except Jeremy’s was done on the computer, and I used scrapbooking scissors to make the edge on this one.

This was Timothy’s:

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You can tell who he likes. πŸ™‚ This idea was also from Pinterest. I found the cityscape on the Cricut and cut it out there. I found the Batman logo online and finagled the ray of light myself. I was going to put “Have a SUPER Valentine’s Day” in the light, like the example did, but the space ended up being small, so I just put a heart there and wished him a “super-duper” Valentine’s Day inside – apt not only for the superhero logo but also because he says “super-duper” sometimes.

This was Jesse’s:

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I found this design on the Cricut Design Space and and used the Cricut to cut it out, so it was pretty easy. And this was good for him – conveying the thought without being mushy. πŸ™‚

This one I was going to throw away, but I ended up not having time to make another one. It was from this idea and was going to be for my husband. Though it looks cute there, my version ended up looking childish, so I put it aside and went with the other idea I had for him above. As I worked on the other cards, I thought perhaps I could rework this for my mother-in-law and decided to use that idea if I didn’t have time to come up with something else. As it turned out, I didn’t have time – somehow I miscalculated and thought I had another week before Valentine’s Day, and then it hit me I think on Sunday that Valentine’s Day was THAT week. So I had to do all the cards between Monday and Wednesday. I changed the sentiment to “You planted love…” on the outside, and inside, “…and grew a family,” and went on to say that her love started it all for the rest of us. I liked the thought but still didn’t like the design itself – primarily the stems. I had tried to cut them out freehand and that just didn’t work very well.

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Then we celebrated my daughter-in-law’s birthday recently, and I made this card for her:

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Once again I looked through my purplish papers for inspiration, and when I started to use this one, I decided to keep the design simple since the paper itself was so pretty and had a lot of design in it. The wording and mat underneath were done with two different-sized punches.

The hard time I have with making cards for Mittu is that, since she’s the only daughter-in-law in the family so far, I have all these feminine ideas pinned and have a hard time narrowing down which one to use! And then I ended up not using any of my pinned ideas at all for her cards. But I liked how they turned out.

So, that’s it for this time – not perfect or professional, but heartfelt. πŸ™‚

Homemade Christmas cards and other stray thoughts

Today is the first “back to the old routine” day in a while. I love all the holiday activities, and God was kind to grant me some pockets of quietness and rest amid the busyness. Getting out of the normal routine for several weeks was fun and refreshing. Getting back into it feels both good and sad at the same time. We had a wonderful Christmas with all the family home and then a very quiet but enjoyable New Year’s Eve and Day.

I thought I’d show you the Christmas cards I made for the family. I buy boxes of them for extended family and friends – I’d never be able to make as many as I send out – but for our own family I like to make individual ones.

This is Jim’s:

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It doesn’t show up in the photo, but the white words are flocked. If I had been thinking, I would have cut off the bottom pine cone so more of the word Noel showed up.

This is Jeremy’s:

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Sometimes ideas come from others I’ve saved on Pinterest, sometimes from something in the Cricut design space, and sometimes they come as a result of looking over the materials I have. This one started out with the fox sticker, as Jeremy likes foxes, and then the other elements came one by one. This is one of my favorite cards I’ve ever made.

This is Jason’s:

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I had wanted to use blue because he likes blue, and I had also wanted to use the snowflake embossing folder on one, so those came together here.

This is Mittu’s:

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I love that cozy sweater background paper, and they love coffee, so these seemed like a good pairing. The cups were done with the Cricut.

This is Jesse’s:

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This started with the word sticker – that just seemed to fit him. Everything on the white part is a sticker.

This is Timothy’s:

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I had seen the cookies on a cookie sheet idea on Pinterest, but the shapes on it were three of the same gingerbread men. As I looked through my scrapbook paper, I found one with these gingerbread figures on them, so I cut them out. Thankfully I had enough of a scrap of the metallic paper for the cookie sheet. πŸ™‚

This is Jim’s mom’s:

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And this was for Jim for our anniversary:

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Other stray thoughts this morning:

  • We had turned on the TV New Year’s Eve long enough to see the ball drop, and I commented that I always wondered how they did bathroom issues in Times Square during that event. I envisioned a long row of port-a-potties somewhere. Jeremy looked it up and said there are no port-a-potties – and businesses don’t let the crowds come in to use the restrooms. And some people are there as early as 8 in the morning! They also don’t allow backpacks or large bags, don’t allow people to sit down, and they kick out the food stands to make more room for people. I looked up a couple more articles this morning (here and here). I never had aspirations to go to this anyway, but it’s definitely on my “Nope, I don’t think I’ll ever do this” list – which is guess is the opposite of a bucket list. πŸ™‚
  • I’ve rediscovered cheese and crackers as a snack. My mom used to always send Swiss Colony cheese and sausage packages for Christmas until the kids all got older and it got too expensive to send them. But usually one of us gets a Hickory Farms package at some point during the Christmas season. This year we opened it on Christmas Eve. Then I had mentioned earlier that somehow we got started having the Chicken in a Biskit and Easy Cheese during the holidays, so I have enjoyed munching on them all month. They may not be the healthiest snack, though – especially the Easy Cheese – so I probably need to find a better salty snack.

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  • One of the things I miss most about putting Christmas decorations away is the lights. But not enough to keep any up year-round.
  • I’ve also enjoyed several weeks of Christmas music. I got a new Christmas CD this year, Worship the Newborn King from the Wilds Christian camp. I especially loved the Candlelight Carol. I’ve loved that for years but rarely hear it. Other long time favorites have been their Christmas With Friends album (although that doesn’t seem to be available any more) and Sacred Music Services’ King of Glory. I also like some of Pentatonix – not the more raucous stuff, but I especially like their versions of Silent Night, The First Noel, Carol of the Bells, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Mary Did You Know, and others in that vein.
  • I don’t make resolutions per se, but I do like to make reading plans for the year and map out some projects I want to work on, so I hope to do that this week. I like to incorporate some purposefulness in my reading but with some flexibility in case I come across something new I want to read during the year. I hope to have my reading plans posted in the next day or two.
  • Also this time of year you see a lot of people writing about words for the year. I’m not sure how that got started. A lot of people derive great blessing from it, and that’s great. Personally I have never felt led to do so. Usually God has more than one word to work on in my life at any given time. πŸ™‚ But can I say, if you feel stressed about choosing a word for the year or guilty because you don’t have one, don’t worry about it. Seek God about it, and if you sense His leading toward one area of concentration, then go for it, but if not, just seek Him in His Word and seek His will every day.
  • This is also a good time of year to find a good Bible reading plan if you haven’t already. I wrote on that extensively here. There are all kinds available. Probably the best plan is one you’ll actually use. Reading the Bible through in a year is a good thing for several reasons. A Christian radio station I listen to reads through the Bible throughout the year during daily 15 minute segments, not really too difficult for anyone. The last few years I have continued to read the complete Bible, but not in a year. I am not sure how long it takes me. I aim for a couple of chapters a day, but vary it according the the length, difficulty, or density of the passage I am in and whether I want to stop and slow down in certain passages.

And now I had best get on to some of that daily routine that needs attending to. Thanks for visiting. πŸ™‚

(Sharing with What I’m IntoΒ atΒ Leigh Kramer)

Father’s Day Cards

I thought I’d show you the cards I made for this last Father’s Day.

This was for my step-father, adapted from an idea seen on Pinterest.

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I love that it’s simple but still makes for a nice design. The buttons were made on the Cricut machine. I toyed with using real buttons and thread, but I was afraid they might fall off in transit.

This was for my son. My grandson likes super-heroes, so I thought it was fitting for a super-dad. πŸ™‚

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This was from one of the Cricut Design Space’s “Make It and Take It” cards, but I tweaked it a bit from what they had – they didn’t have the “Super” at the top, and their whole card was the size of the blue frame.

For my husband, I wanted something to do with grilling, so I searched the Cricut Design Space’s files for “grill.” Both this grill and the little man showed up, so I used both of them. The design kind of evolved as I worked. I cut little snippets with scissors in the “grass” so it would look like grass blades. I started to stick the figures in the grass, but we grill on our patio, so I used the textured-looking grey paper for the patio. I was going to put “Well done” at the top (a play on the idea of well-done food and well-done fathering), then decided I would put that in a cloud. I had everything centered in the middle but thought the cloud looked odd centered right over the figures as if it was about to rain on them. So I moved it to the side and added another for balance, cutting them both out freehand (I had typed the “Well Done” and printed it on cardstock, along with the inside sentiments of the cards). Then the bottom corners looked like they needed something, so I looked up flowerpots. This flower design actually had a couple of other layers on the flowers and leaves, but they were so tiny they didn’t come out well. I decided the flowers looked ok as is.

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That was it for this time. I think everyone liked their cards. πŸ™‚

(Sharing with Made By You Monday)

Recent Cards

It has been a while since I’ve shared with you some cards I have made, so I thought I’d catch up. πŸ™‚

This was for Mittu’s birthday. She likes purple and lavender, so I tried to incorporate those.

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This was for Timothy’s birthday. He is very much into anything on wheels right now, especially construction vehicles.

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Though I have been driving for decades, somehow I got the traffic light upside down…but when I noticed it, I didn’t want to try to peel it off and tear the paper underneath. I don’t think he noticed. πŸ™‚

This card is the only one I have made on more than one occasion (only with different colors of paper), the occasion being a bridal shower. Since the recipients were in different states and didn’t know each other, I didn’t have to worry about them comparing notes. πŸ™‚

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I got the idea from Pinterest, and the dress part of the card there took up more space and the top and bottom of the dress flared out more. But both the girls I was making this for are very slim, so I slimmed down the dress here. I ran white card stock through my Cuttlebug to get the embossed pattern on the dress. I printed off the label on the computer and used two different sized punches for it. If you turn the punch upside-down, you can position a phrase in the opening, though it is a little tricky to get it to stay centered and still while you punch the design.

Paper punch

I don’t have a steady hand for cutting, so punches help a lot. (Punches can be expensive, but craft stores often have them on sale 40-50% off, and with gift cards I’ve collected a good many.)

The next three were for Mother’s Day.

This one was for a friend, someone I consider a second mother:

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This was for Jim’s mom, who likes yellow:

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Even though I don’t care for yellow myself, this ended up being one of my favorite cards I’ve made.

Up til now, I’ve made the inside sentiment of the cards on the computer, printed them out, and cut them out, and glued them in, but I felt that came across a little tacky and made it look home-made in a negative rather than positive sense. I don’t do lettering or even write well, so I didn’t want to do anything by hand. I could run cards through the computer. But for now I decided to try embellishing the inside as well as the outside.

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This was for Mittu’s Mother’s Day.

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Sorry about the shadows! This was the only one I’ve used the Cricut on lately. If I had it to do over, I’d use the lighter color as the floral frame and the medium color as the background. But I didn’t think of that til a few hours after it was done. πŸ™‚ I didn’t realize at first that the little flowers look like little faces:

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I have a Cards and Paper-crafts board on Pinterest where I go for ideas and inspiration. Sometimes, as with the bridal shower card, I’ll have a specific idea in mind before I start. Other times, like with the rest of these, I’ll look through the papers and embellishments I have in the colors or theme I want to use, and then ideas of how to put them together will arise. Sometimes I’ll scroll through the Cricut Design Space online either at their ready-to-make cards, or, as with the last card, I’ll search there for specific items, like flowers or sayings, and then put them together.

At any rate, this is a creative outlet I enjoy, and I wanted to share it with you.

Valentine’s Cards

We had a lovely Valentine’s Day. We’ve always made it a family day. We’ve tried once or twice going out for dinner, but the restaurants are so crowded it took a long time and wasn’t enjoyable. A few years ago for Valentine’s Day I used the recipe for Li’l Cheddar Meat Loaves but shaped the loaves into hearts, and that has become a tradition. (Note on the recipe: I use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs, only about 1 1/2 Tbs of brown sugar instead of 1/4 cup, and I omit the mustard because it gave it more of a BBQ flavor).

It’s also become a tradition to make heart-shaped cupcakes…

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..and peanut butter cookies with Hershey’s heart candies on top.

img_0083I received flowers and candy from my dear husband and cards from him and Timothy.

img_0084Jason and Mittu and Timothy also gave us these cute magnets from Photo Barn.

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I’ve also been making my own cards the last few years, and I know some of you like to do the same, so I thought I’d show them to you. I collect card ideas on Pinterest – I have one board for cards and one for Valentine’s Day. So when I have occasion to make a card, I’ll scroll through those for ideas plus the Cricut Design Studio. My generous husband gave me a Cricut Explore a few years ago, which can be hooked up to my laptop. They have “make it and take it” designs, which will allow you to cut the needed elements piece by piece and tell you how to layer them (the computer sends the design straight to the Cricut). Or, if you have an idea of your own, you can search for particular things, like “mug,” and it will show you several designs to choose from and then you can cut them out with the Cricut. So I peruse a lot of these ideas beforehand and see which one seems to “fit” the ones I am making a card for. I seldom copy a design exactly. Some times, like last Christmas, I don’t use the Cricut at all; this time I used it for every card. Of course, many things, like a mug, can be cut out without a machine like this. I can wing it with some things, but not so much with others. πŸ™‚

So here’s what I came up with for this year:

For my husband:

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For my oldest son, who lives out of state:

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I had planned to put something like “Sending love your way…” on the front, maybe on one of the clouds. But I thought this looked balanced as is, so I put that on the inside.

For Jason, a coffee aficionado:

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For Mittu (it’s nice to be able to do one girly one. πŸ™‚ ):

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I was particularly excited about this one for Timothy. He likes anything on wheels right now, and I had seen one design with a dump truck with hearts in it that I was planning on using. But when I saw the design for an excavator, I had to use it. He’s very much into excavators right now (and it is so cute to hear him say it) thanks to this guy, and can even name all the parts.

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I was thankful to find stick-on letters (for sale half price!) for that one and the next one at Hobby Lobby.

This was Jesse’s. From the time he was very little, he’s always had a bright, happy spirit, so this seemed perfect for him.

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And this was for Jim’s mom. My machine had some trouble with the small cuttings – I think maybe I need a new blade, but I didn’t have time to run out for one. There were four hearts layered for this one.

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I enjoy making these as my gifts to my family.

All in all we had a great day. πŸ™‚

Family Christmas Cards

I hope you had a special Christmas. We had a nice day with all the family here. Someone, I think my son or daughter-in-law, had the idea of putting our photos in stickers on the Christmas gifts so Timothy could help pass them out to the right person that way. He was very patient as we got breakfast and read the Nativity story, then passed out a few gifts to others, then said, “Baby presents?” like, “Hey, shouldn’t I be getting one of these?” πŸ™‚

The last few years I have been making cards for my immediate family, so I thought I’d show you the cards I made for Christmas. As I scouted Pinterest for ideas, I noted that several I had pinned had snowmen, so I decided to go with a snowman theme.

For this one for my husband, I looked up “snowman template” and cut out this little couple, colored them with colored pencils, then decorated around them. The background paper has phrases from “The Twelve Days of Christmas” on it.

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This was for my oldest son. I used the Cuttlebug to emboss the snowflakes on the background. I love the perspective of this one (I can’t take credit for it – I saw it on Pinterest. πŸ™‚ )

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This was for Jason. I love the cheeriness of this one.

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This was for Mittu. I was delighted to find wintry paper that had purple in it.

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This cute one was for Timothy.

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This was Jesse’s. I think I got something a little askew with the hat…

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This was for Jim’s mom. I had seen the idea for “JOY” with a wreath in place of the O, and changed it for a snowman’s face.

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Then I stayed with the same theme for our anniversary card with a different template:

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I used punches for some of the circles and squares and buttons and eyes, stickers in some places and markers in others.

Overall it was fun to do while listening to the Instrumental Christmas station on Pandora. Most of it was done after the toe injury and thankfully after I had almost everything else done but the cleaning, which my husband graciously did. I think they all liked them.

I’m working on some end of the year blog posts of books read this year, my favorites of them, and a wrap-up post for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. I’m afraid they will overlap a bit. πŸ™‚ And usually around this time I look back over some of my favorite posts of the year. So, as time allows, that’s what will be up the rest of this week.

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A few cards

At our ladies’ Christmas party last week, we were to bring three of the same item ($5 or less each) to give away that were some of our favorite things. At the party, we each had an opportunity to share why these things were our favorites, then three names were drawn and our three things given to those three people, and we each went home with three gifts from others.

After mulling over what I could possibly share, I came up with note cards. Even though people don’t send them as much as they used to, there are still occasions for them. Making cards when I have time is one of my favorite things, and I have a stamp that says “I’m thinking of you prayerfully,” which covers a lot of situations. So I made six cards in different designs and combined them two to a package for my gifts. I thought I’d show you how they came out.

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The brown above was meant to be a suitable for a man or woman, and I think it is, but the flocked butterflies make it maybe a little less masculine than I had intended. πŸ™‚

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This blue one turned out to be one of my favorites.

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The leaves on this one were from one little square stamp. Some years ago someone showed me the technique of rotating it a quarter turn while stamping it in a row so it looks like the leaves are tumbling. And a multi-colored stamp pad accounts for the variety of color. Though I can see that for the phrase stamp, it would be better not to end of begin the word in the yellow part – it makes it look like it is fading out.

Part of me thought I must be crazy trying to do this in a busy Christmas season, especially when I have family Christmas cards to do (I make Christmas cards for my immediate family but buy them for extended family and friends – it would take too much time to make them for everyone we send them to). But I kept them pretty simple, didn’t use the Cricut at all, and the trim and flowers were either cut with a straight edge and glued on or were stick-on. I like how the flowers on the blue cards add some texture but aren’t over-fussy. I don’t like a whole lot of stuff sticking out from the card, but a little is nice.

They afforded a few pleasant afternoons of creating while listening to Christmas music, and I hope the recipients enjoy them.

Ornaments for Timothy

I mentioned a few weeks that my son and daughter-in-law were going to put a mini Christmas tree in my little grandson’s room and asked if I would make some ornaments for it. I decided to go with felt because it’s obviously not breakable and hopefully will hold up to being handled by a little one. I wanted something he could be free to be “hands-on” with. That was part of the idea behind his own tree.

So I researched Pinterest (love that place) and got several ideas. One included free patterns; some I cut out freehand; for others I googled things like “gingerbread man template,” “candy cane template,” etc., and found basic designs.

I thought I could machine-stitch most of them, which would have made the construction go much faster. But it was a little hard to control, especially for the small ones.Β  So I looked up how to do a blanket stitch (if I had ever learned it before, I had forgotten it). By the last few I was pleased that my stitches were getting more uniform and even. I think the blanket stitch overall makes them look cuter though it did take a bit longer.

I’m learning in my (ahem) middle age that I have to have good lighting to see to stitch well. My craft room doesn’t have the best lighting except in the afternoons, so I’d go in there for a couple of hours a day and open the blinds, and that worked best. Sometimes I was motivated to do more, but my neatness fell off after a while, so it ended up being a good thing to work on it only a limited time each day. Sometimes my lack of dexterity in my left hand, leftover from transverse myelitis, was a bit of a problem. Even though I’m right-handed, holding the ornament in my left hand just right to be stitched was sometimes problematic, especially when trying to hold those tiny buttons in place. But overall I was pleased that even with “issues,” I could still do something like this.

I used Wonder Under on some of them (like the fox and deer ornaments) to fuse a design on, both to make it more sturdy and to use less stitching. πŸ™‚ I also used it to fuse a basic woven fabric to the back of some of the designs that had a lot of buttons, because the newer felt is kind of thin, and I didn’t want the buttons to be pulled off due to the weakness of the felt.

There is an old-fashioned kind of felt that is thicker but also pliable (I am thinking it might be made of wool, but I’m not sure). Then there is a newer synthetic version that’s very thin and worked well for fusing on top. There is an even newer synthetic version that is very thick and not very pliable. I tried to cut the gingerbread people out in a double layer and nearly gave up because it was hard to get more than a blob: the finer details, cutting around the neck, etc., were hard to do. I came back the next day and cut the layers separately, and that worked much better. I was glad I persevered because they turned out to be some of my favorites.

This first one I did not make: I bought it. I saw it on Pinterest, clicked through, and found it was from an Etsy shop, and, unfortunately, got a notice that the item was sold out. I messaged the seller and told her my little grandson loved Batman, and would there be any possibility she would be making any more. She said she happened to have one left, and she sold it to me. Yay! I had given some thought to trying to make it on my own – but she did such a great job, I was glad she had one left to sell.

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Here are the ones I made:

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Free patterns for the deer and fox ornaments are here.

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They’re Starbucks aficionados, thus the Starbucks-type coffee cup. πŸ™‚ They always ask for a small empty cup for Timothy so he can have “coffee” with them.

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I think the gingerbread family are my favorites. πŸ™‚ They’re supposed to roughly correspond to my son’s family, thus the blue eyes for the Daddy. etc.

I stuffed some of them, others I left flat, just depending on what I thought looked best for each one. The first one I completed was the little house, and got it kind of over-stuffed, but that taught me that they just needed a little. I had thought about using one type of hanger for them all so they’d look more like a set, but it seemed better to vary them with what I thought would look good for each one.

I found a sturdy gift box from W-Mart which had a lid that just lifted off, so Timothy would have a box to keep them in and also so it would be easier for him to open rather than unwrapping something.

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We took the box over to him on Saturday. He enjoyed checking out the ornaments and putting them on his tree.

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Sorry that’s a little blurry – it looked clear on my camera. πŸ˜€

I hope they hold up well – I hope he can use them over and over again for years to come. It’s been a long while since I’ve crafted anything besides an occasional card, and I enjoyed doing something creative, especially something to contribute to Timothy’s Christmas. πŸ™‚

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