Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Great Ideas from the Reagan Library

I took my parents to the Reagan Library on the 24th. It's such a wonderful place. Reagan was president for a good chunk of my childhood and I have very fond memories of him. This is not exactly a "fond" memory, just a very vivid one: I was home sick from school watching The Price Is Right when he was shot. I remember it like it was yesterday. And, although I was very young, I remember liking how glamerous Nancy Reagan was. What can I say, the Reagan years were good to me and I like his library too!

Anywhoo, they had an exhibit of Christmas Trees from around the world. There was a tree for each of the 29 countries Reagan travelled to. I didn't jot down which tree was from which country, but I was really inspired by some of the decorating ideas. I decided to "write it up" and I am going to publish it now review it again next year.

Here goes! Great Christmas Tree Ideas from the Ronald Reagan Library-

A huge trend this year was big stuff stuck on the tree.
Gift Shop Patriotic Tree
Here is big Santa and also big sticks. I guess they wire these on.
Vatican Chirstmas Tree
Here is a big bird- actually, birds were another big trend. They were featured on almost every tree.
The Mexico Tree
I actually have a similar cross on my wall! Use what you have!

I love this one with the Holy Family in the middle of the tree.
Holy Family Tree
What a great way to focus the tree on the reason for the season. I have plenty of Nativity ornaments, but they get lost. The big scale really works here. I could do without the parrots, but I guess they are paying their respects to the baby Jesus.
Holy Family in the Tree
I think this tree was supposed to represent Barbados. The pictures don't begin to do it justice. It was stunning.

You may have also noticed that sticks, feathers, and flowers of all kinds were another huge trend in this exhibit.
 Switzerland's Tree
If I had a daughter with American Girl dolls I would so be tempted to requisition the collection for December!

All of these pictures and a few more in this flickr set. You can also click on each picture to see them enlarged.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Have You Seen the Christmas Dove Candies?

The ones with the Martha Stewart tips inside?
Marth Stewart Candies

These are cracking us up while we snack on the crack-like addictively good Peppermint Bark Doves! Yum!

This one says, "Individually wrap ornaments in acid free tissue for storage."

My brother's mysteriously said, "Don't eat yellow snow."

I think if  Martha had truly written that one it would say something like "Shovel the yellow snow into your compost. It makes for great mulch in the spring."

My father was looking through all of them for stock advice.

Hope you are enjoying some candy and some laughs!

Project Update: Three Tiered Snack Server

A few months ago as part of the Shanty Sisters "Gorilla Glue Challange" I made this PB inspired snack server.

Pottery Barn Inspired Serving Trays

Here it is finally filled!
PB Inspired Serving Tower

This thing holds a ton of cookies! We gifted it to our good friends James and Dallas. They live just a few blocks away and are  putting up my parents for three days so that my brother and sister-in-law can stay with us. Cookies are just a small gesture for dear friends who treat us like family.

I am linking up with the DIY Show Off Holiday Highlights!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Quake Hold Decor

Temporary Apothocary Jar
See that cute apothecary style jar with the vintage candle stick stand? It's not what you think!

Blog after blog this season had apothecary jars made from candle sticks glued to jars. Loved them! Love the idea of making my own! However, things with stands are harder to store. Really, storage considerations have to be my guiding light for almost every decor purchase or craft. So, I bought a few jars at the thrift and procrastinated. Then Cliff instated the "END to Santa's Workshop." No more crafty mess after the 18th.

Here I was wandering around my clean apartment with time on my hands just hours before my parents were to arrive.  The cute vintage white holly candle sticks had not "made the cut" this season and I was feeling a bit sorry for them.

Quake Hold

Quake Hold! It's an Angelino's friend!

Stickier and stronger than fun tack and just as temporary!

Just a few blobs with do ya! A temporary vintage holly apothecary jar! With no "crafty mess!"

Is it strong? Sure enough! You can buy Quake Hold here in CA at just about any hardware store or online at Amazon. Great product if you have kids running around near collectibles too.

Still enjoying family, but up early with a wicked case of heartburn. Turns out I may be too old to gorge on Christmas cookies at 11pm. What to do while the rest of the family slumbers? Blog of course. You can think of the following few posts as my "Early Morning Heartburn Series."

Linking up with the DIY Showoff for one last Holiday Highlights!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas Candles

Loving God, we open ourselves to your this Christmas season.
As these candles are lit, light our lives with your imagination.
Show us the creative power of hope.
Teach us the peace that comes from justice.
Fill us with the kind of joy that cannot be contained, but must be shared.
Maginfy your love within us.
Prepare our hearts to be transformed by you,
that we may walk in the light of Christ

Last Sunday's Call to Worship -Rev. Dave Stambaugh -Hollywood United Methodist Church 

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Year of the Stocking

Whew! Cliff set a December 18 craft deadline and I almost made it. I ended up finishing very early on the 19th.

Everyone on my Christmas list got handmade stockings this year.
Felted Sweater Stockings

First up, my two former roommates and dearest sister friends, Kate and Piper. Kate is my personal stylist and she has kept me well supplied with stripey sweaters for years, so sweater stockings were my first priority. Mind you, I had to go to Goodwill to find just the right sweaters to cut. My stripey Gap sweaters will be with me for eternity. Love them so.

Next up, my former colleague out here. Without Nicole, my first year at OFS might also have been my last. She helped me make sense of the nonsense that is teaching in the 'hood. Nicole has a beautifully decorated "eco-chic" apartment on the west side. But, I thought there was room for a little sparkle at Christmas.
White Stocking

I already wrote about the stocking I made for my inlaws here.

Citra- Solv transfer stocking

And, I already wrote about the stocking I made for Ashley, my Sweet Goodness Swap partner, here. I think it is my favorite.
Rejoice Stocking
Or maybe this watermelon stocking for my sister-in-law is my favorite?
Watermelon Stocking

Each summer for decades my in laws have gathered at Brynilsen's Viking Village for a week. They decorate their whole cottage from top to bottom in watermelons.Going to the cottage is a very important tradition to my sister-in-law.  Every time I see pink and green I think of Lee.

Stockings for Cliff and I were a bit trickier. Cliff had weighed in a few months ago, when I first started thinking about stockings. He told me he didn't want crazy colors or patterns. He wanted something soothing and calm.

I of course, would choose to make some colorful Sara's Art House inspired stockings. So it was a bit like Designing for the Sexes over here.

This is what I came up with. Light blue pinstripes with white cuffs and just a bit of red trim.
Our Stockings

With Christmas just a week away I still needed four more stockings for my visiting family. As it turns out, I wasn't the only one with stockings on my mind. My brother called and suggested that we just do stockings this year.

Around Wednesday, I hit the stocking wall. Fortunately, I had bought these felt stockings years ago at Joannes and I decided to just embellished them. Simple fleece holly leaves and some button berries. Easy peasy!
Embellished Stockings

My brother and his wife are newlyweds. In fact their first anniversary was Sunday!  I wanted to do something a little special for them, but it took weeks to think of anything Finally under pressure to clean up the crafty land,I doctored some images found on google to celebrate new marriage.
They are known around town for their romantic nature, so what's more fitting than mistletoe for her?
 Stockings for the Newlyweds
And, fixing up their new home is my brother's pride and joy. I wish they were both the lighter gray color. I also wish I had time to add ruffles for her and a cuff for him, but they are done and they are good enough!
Family Stockings
While I had toyed with embroidering names on the red and the blue stockings, I wanted to leave them more open ended. I had thought of making tags when my mother in law sent me the cutest red, white and lime gift tag set for Christmas (opened with permission!) They are Mara Mi Multipurose Gift Tags and I can not find a link to them online. If I was a gift tag, these are the gift tags I would want to be. They fit my aesthetic to a T! Anyhow, they are the perfect  finishing touch for the stockings and I am thrilled to be done.

Very soon all these special people will be gathered around this fireplace. I can't hardly wait. I am fixing to sign off here for a few days of family. Thank you for stopping by and making blogging so much fun! Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Updated: The metal scroll-y thing is a candle door frame that I got from Linens & Things when we got married. I bent it a bit to fit our mantel -less fireplace. Sometimes I wish for a mantle, but mostly I am satisfied. I am not sure if they even make these anymore, I think they were a "turn of the century" trend. LOL
Here is one on Ebay. This store sells something similar (not for candles though) that could go over a fireplace.

DIY: School Party Treats

My classroom (affectionately called the Crayon Box) is in a very poor barrio. This year things are especially tight for everyone and I made the executive decision to scale back our holiday party. LAUSD has a rule that parents have to buy baked goods and treats for school. With 30 kids in a class this adds up quickly.

I explained to the kids that we are in a serious recession and with the holidays coming, their parents were under even more pressure to make ends meet. They all nodded with a knowing look. I explained that their parents could put the money they would spend on treats to better use and that they would most likely use that money for Christmas anyway. I told them that this year they were forbidden to ask their parents for junk food for our class party. That I  would provide one special treat and that they would have to trust me that it would be enough.

This is what I have made in the past and it has always been a big hit. You can find the recipe here.
However, this year I was super tired.Cutting the brownies like this for 30 students requires extra batches of brownies. While Cliff enjoys eating the scraps, I wanted to save time.
Improvised Reindeer Brownies
 What do you think? Will I end up on Cake Wrecks?

I baked the brownies in mini muffin tins.  I had this dream of going to bed early, so I skipped frosting all together and just pushed the pretzels and mini M&Ms into the still warm brownies.

Just as I was finishing, I dropped the last pan on the floor. Too hot! I could have cried. I lost a dozen brownies and now I was three short! Cliff suggested that 7:30 wasn't too late to go to the store and buy another mix, but I was just too tired. When I get tired, I get stubborn . So I improvised taking the three regular sized brownies I had made for him and using them as well.

The next morning, before the rooster crows, off to school I went with this sad box of less than perfect, mismatched brownies.  Bah humbug!

And, at the first traffic light the box  slid right off the front seat of my car onto the floor.

Fortunately, it had a lid. However, the formerly sad looking reindeer now looked truly war torn.

At party time, I told the Crayons my woes. About how I was about to cry when the pan fell, about the car wreckage, and that I hoped they would understand that their special treat was pretty wonky.

I quickly replaced eyes, noses and antlers as I passed them out, but they had no staying power. I was pretty disappointed. This is a doctored up picture, but you get the idea. It was sad.
Smell no evil, See no evil

But then I heard the Crayons' reactions,
"Look! Mine's Stevie Wonder Reindeer!"
"Mine's a pirate!"
"Mine's winking!"
"I can't smell you!"
"Ouch my antler! It's been chopped off!"

They actually were enjoying the mishap!

Willa Cather was quoted saying, "Where there is love there are always miracles."

Isn't that what Christmas is all about? Not perfection, but joy in the moment.

As for the three big brownies, those went to the three students who improved their fluency the most. Everyone cheered for those students who glowed at the idea of getting rewarded for their success. As it turned out those three students were three of my special education students! Hoooooray!

Merry Christmas dear blog friends! I hope that you are able to ditch perfection and embrace joy in the moment this Christmas and in the coming year!

Linking to Kimba's DIY Day!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sweet Goodness!

My swap package from Ashley arrived the other day and I tore without taking a picture of all the goodies first. Rats! Cliff was getting a bit tired of the Santa's workshop vibe we had going on here for nearly a month. (Kate and Piper, you remember that look!) Anywhoo, I quickly put out all the goodies and today I had time to go around and photograph most of the stuff in it's new habitat.
First up, I have over a hundred salt and peppers, but no packages! So these two little gift salt and peppers delighted me to no end!
Package Salt & Peppers

Next up, this delightful snow day box. It says, "Let it snow!"
 Snow Day Box
For the most part snow is just a dream in LA. Nonetheless, I am putting in lots of wishes for another snow day in NJ. Exactly a year ago it snowed so hard that Kate and Piper had a school closing that was perfectly timed with my visit. There is nothing better for three teacher sister-friends than a whole day bundled up on our respective couches watching movies on Lifetime and laughing together. Anyway, that box reminds me of that day-so it is much beloved.
 Revised Christmas Shelf
Check out the fancy jingle bell garland! The package also contained a dozen or so glittered goodies. There are glittered snowflakes all over the apartment now.
Stocking from Ashley
Here is a very lady like silver satin stocking in our bedroom.

Snow Man
How about this cute little fellow?
Elvis Card
Speaking of fella's, Ashley is from Tennessee, how cute (and fitting) is this Elvis card?  (Makes me wish I had sent her one of my LA gang prevention program Christmas cards. Oh right! I haven't done my cards yet! Arrg!)

Anyway, thanks so much for everything Ashley! And, thanks to Rebecca, Lucy, Heidi, Leigh Ann, and Shara for organizing another fun swap!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Maybe You Have A Friend Who Celebrates Like This

Happy Birth Month
Happy BIrth Month Banner
Happy Birth-Month Banner

This was done with scraps and freezer paper stencils for Piper. The shape and stencils were inspired by the birthday bunting in Stitched in Time by Alicia Paulson.

Friday, December 18, 2009

From the Crayon Box- Paper Mache Winter Ball Dioramas

Looking Good in Line...
Last Easter we made the Family Fun Easter Egg Dioramas in the Crayon Box. This year, I decided to put a little twist on that project and create winter scenes.

Paper Mache Winter Ball Dioramas

They are very time consuming, but very affordable and adorable!
In the Crayon Box
See how festive hanging from the ceiling!

Close Up
Here is a close up- super cute!

Here is the quick tutorial- if only the project were as quick...

Balloons -rounder the better
Snowflake tissue paper ( I found mine at the $ store.)
Scrap paper- white/manila is best
Bold tissue paper
Glue, flour, water
White tissue paper
Bottle cap
Silver paint
drill or nail
Pipe cleaner
This paper house pattern
White tissue paper
hot glue
Batting- I bought a "snow blanket" at the $ store and it was enough for the whole class.

Inflate balloons just so they are round.
Cut/tear snowflake tissue paper into small pieces.
Mix flour, glue and water into a thin paste.
Paper mache balloon with a layer of snowflake tissue paper making sure to over lap a lot.
Allow to dry overnight.

When dry, cover first layer with a new layer of paper machae and scrap paper. Overlap a lot and make sure there are no gaps. This is the strength layer. (With 29 Crayons paper mache-ing- I was praying for strength at this point!) Dry over night or until you have the courage and patience to go on. For me that was about a week. Just being honest.

When dry and sane, paper mache final layer of bold colored tissue paper. At this point I had run out of flour and was just using thinned Elmers glue. Dry overnight.

Take a sharp scissor and poke a hole in the center of the balloon. From that starter hole cut out a circle to make the window. Carefully peel out the balloon and discard. Now you can see the snowflake background! Patch the small hole at top with a bit of tissue.

To make the hanger on top, I spray painted milk and water bottle caps. When dry I drilled two holes in the top. Then I took about two inches of pipe cleaner and threaded it through the holes. I twisted the bottoms under the cap and hot glued it to the top. This was the only part the kids couldn't do at all.

Finally, decorate! The kids used white tissue paper to make snowball trims. They printed colored and assembled gingerbread houses. Not pictured are snowmen made from cotton balls that some added later.
Paper Mache Christmas Balls

I loved having these around the classroom and hope the parents were happy with their little handmade gift. Most of the kids were excited about the project. Red crushed his and trashed it on the way out the door. He's not into art. I tried not to take it personally, but it made me sad. Then as we were leaving the coolest 5th grade teacher told the kids how awesome the project was and that was just icing on the cake.

This might make a great activity for Brownies or some other *small* group during the winter. However, take my word, it's too late for Christmas this year.

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Frugal Christmas Decorations 2009

Today is the Frugal Friday holiday edition over at the Shabby Nest. I am looking forward to bookmarking lots of inspiring ideas...for next year.

This is our first Christmas to stay in LA! I am so very thankful to not travel this year. I can not wait to go to my own awesome church for Christmas Eve! Home Sweet Home!

However, somehow I thought that staying here would give me exponentially more time to get things done, not so much. I think I was more efficient with travel plans always on my mind. On the other hand, maybe I bit off more than I could chew. Oh, right, this is also the first in a few years where I havn't been "off track" for November and December. Maybe that's the real interference- work!

In any case, here it is a week before Christmas on the dot and I haven't really finished decorating the apartment, haven't baked and I have not cleaned at all. I have been busy with other fun stuff though, so I am not really complaining- just behind my schedule is all.

On to decorating! With six people in the apartment on and off for a week, I decided to pare down my decorations and go with a "less is more... space" theme.

This summer I met a vintage Santa at every thrift I went to.
Vintage Santas
For $0.99 or less each, how could I pass them up? My mom is a true believer in Santa and so it is fitting that the apartment is decked out with the jolly old elf.

Christmas Shelf

We decided not to get a real tree this year. After six Christmases on the road, we don't really have a tree tradition and at close to $80 a tree, we decided to stick with my 99 Cent Only Tree from a few years ago. Isn't she darling? This little tree was a real blessing to me. One day I was feeling down about apartment life and wanting more. I happened to be coveting a white feather tree I had seen on a blog. Finding this tree at the 99 Cent Only store was just the pick-me-up I needed. Finding red and white mushroom ornaments half off at Cost Plus was icing on the cake.
Christmas Tree 2009

Filling in for a tree, the green chairs have assumed the responsibility for present storage. Love them! Love the red and white wrappings paired with the green. Today my cousin in Florida sent me a whole box of presents wrapped in my favorite Target Dollar Spot paper from last year. I have been rationing that paper like like a depression era granny! Now I have a whole chair-ful to enjoy!

Green Chairs

Last but not least, my favorite "splurge" of the season...

Skates -$7 at Goodwill, ribbon $2 at Joannes, floral picks $2...visions of the Ice Capades dancing in my head... priceless.

Hope you all have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Oh, if by chance you find yourself in Los Angeles for Christmas and you are looking to celebrate in a place just brimming with peace, love and joy, I invite you to join us at- Hollywood United Methodist Church!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sweet Goodness Swaps- WInter White Swap

This round of SGS had a winter white theme. A bit challenging for me since I am all about color. For a few weeks I was really stumped. But after reading my partner, Ashley's blog I found my inspiration. And, since Ashley has received her goodies, I can now share them here!

Ashley is into digital scrapbooking and has created an elegant shabby chic vibe for her blog. She also writes very eloquently about her faith. So I tried to create projects that would emphasize the reason for the season.

First up,
Altered Bottles
A trio of altered bottles. I had so much fun making the first bottle that I couldn't stop. Plus all the designers say to group collections-right?

These were fun and I got to try a new product- etching creme. If you click on the picture you can see the etched bottle is the one with the polka dots.
Rejoice Stocking

Next up,
A Christmas stocking of course! This is the year of the stocking around here!
I wasn't able to get to a copy shop as planned. So I didn't use Citra-Solv. Instead I made a patch by taping fabric to a piece of card stock and then printing it on my computer. The trim has tiny bells on it. I was thrilled to find this at Joannes after Thanksgiving.
 Inkjet Printed Stocking

I used an image I found in a google search and this quote from Martin Luther:

Good news from heaven the angels bring,
Glad tidings to the earth they sing:
To us this day a child is given,
To crown us with the joy of heaven.
- Martin Luther

The stocking was filled with a few goodies I hope Ashley will like. 
Spool Ornaments
An ornament, some nail files, and a few crafty odds and ends.

For the thrifted item, I got lucky and found this little pewter (?) snowman dish. 
Thrifted Snowman Dish

Once again the ladies at Sweet Goodness Swaps have organized a fun and creative challenge!