Our Little Elf

In our family we get to decorate the Christmas tree everyday.

You see, we have an elf.

This little person likes to shop our tree, complete with her very own shopping bag.

She’s very methodical hitting only the areas she can reach.

At least that used to be the case.

Now our elf  has taken to climbing at higher elevations to reach her prize.

The reward seems to be satisfying every time.

It’s questionable whether Santa would consider her a helper.

Either way, she’s out little elf.

Semi-homemade Gifts

This was originally posted over at Sunny Vanilla a few weeks ago when Jennifer asked me to be a part of her Homemade for the Holidays week. Enjoy!

When Jennifer asked me to participate in the Homemade for the Holidays series I was honestly a little worried.

You see, I’m more like semi-homemade. In fact, I’m the crafting equivalent of Sandra Lee.

I get mistaken for her all the time.

Notice the resemblance?

No? Huh. Must be a setting off on your computer.

Wait. Let me give it one more try.

See? I told you. We’re practically related. In fact, maybe “Sandra Lee & Me” should be my new blog title.

I love to create homemade gifts but don’t always have the skills to implement my big ideas so I do what I can and learn a little more each time. Hopefully one of these days I’ll move away from my Sandra Lee tendencies.

Today I’m going to share with you two crafts I will use as part of my Christmas gifts.

Both projects I’m going to share would be great used as ornaments, wine adornments, or gift tags.

The first ornament involves layering pieces of felt to create a desired shape.

It’s relatively simple and uses only a few materials.

Here are the materials needed: felt, objects to trace circles, scissors, a piece of wire, a Sharpie, and a glue gun.

Trace the circles onto the felt.

You end up with various size circles depending on the jar circumference used. Pardon the different colors shown as I dropped my camera after the picture below was taken and needed to take new pictures).

Stack your circles once they are cut into the desired shape.

Individually fold each circle and cut a small slice in the middle of it. This creates a hole for the wire to pass through.

Bend the bottom of the wired ninety degrees so the felt circle has a place to “sit.”

Take the circle you would like on the bottom of your ornament and slide it down the wire.

Place some glue on the bent wire and attach another felt circle to the glue. This new circle becomes the new bottom and the curved part of the wire should no longer be seen.

Stack the desired number of felt piece by simply sliding each felt circle down your wire.

Continue layering felt pieces into the shape you desire.

Glue on embelllishments in order to complete your ornament.

The shape and color combinations are endless. Adding wooden beads between layers gives the ornament a more rustic look.

Christmas tree, ornament, snowman, modern design

Since personalized gifts are always a hit, I created custom ornaments. The one below is for my father-in-law who is a proud Canadian.

Cut out a design using your scissors and felt.

I free handed the letter “a” but cut out the maple leaf using an image I printed out and placed on top of the felt. I then cut around the paper.

Glue all of the front pieces together.

Using the twine, glue a loop onto the back of the ornament. Next, glue a matching piece of fabric to cover the glue.

Add some fun and personalization to a tin of cookies…

… or use them as wine gift tag

This tag is for my sister Amanda and her husband Ben and it includes an image of their home states.

What about….A lively gift tag for the music teacher or the Saints football fan in your life? Really, the possibilities are endless.

In addition to brightening up a gift, they will look great on their Christmas tree.

Hope you’ve seen something that inspires you to create something handmade (or semi-handmade for some of us) for someone you love.


Have you been making any of your Christmas gifts?

The 36th Avenue

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

My Husband is One Lucky Guy

My dad loves to give silly t-shirts for Christmas presents.

Over the years we have all had our fair share.

One Christmas my sisters and I each received a shirt that said, “What Happens With the Sisters, Stays With the Sisters.”

Another year Derek received a shirt that said ,”Derek, the Man, the Myth, the Legend.”

Last year my shirt had a wine glass with the phrase, “More book club please.”

But this year my dad found a shirt for me that speaks the truth.

When you see this shirt, you will automatically think, “Yes that’s Jen.”

I am this shirt.

I think you will understand once you see it.

trophy wife shirtHousewives of North Dallas, anyone?

Sew Wrong

I have no idea how to sew correctly.

I do not read tutorials. I do not read books. I cannot read a pattern.

I simply look at pictures and try to copy the idea.

Sometimes it turns out. Sometimes not.

I bought some fabric in October from City Craft but had no idea how I would use it. I just loved the animals with the mix of red and green. I eventually settled on the idea that I would make some Christmas place mats.

Measuring is also too much of an extra step for me.

So I took an old place mat I have and placed it on top of the fabric I was using. I then ironed over the edges of the fabric. I made some rudimentary cuts in order to create some corners. I did the same thing for the back piece of fabric.

I then pinned the front and back pieces together and sewed them together.

placematNot pretty, awful craftsmanship, unbelievably ugly corners but… I had 4 place mats done.

Problem was I wanted 6 place mats. Since I didn’t buy enough fabric I had to think of an alternative design. I settled on a small strip of the animals down the place mat. I needed some sort of border between the 2 fabrics so I bought some red ribbon to go down the sides. You can see how it turned out.

other placematI was pretty proud of these place mats until I washed them. My abysmal sewing skills made themselves abundantly clear. Part of the animal fabric came out from under the ribbon and instead of 6 rectangles I now have 6 oddly shaped place mats.

Have you ever had any sew wrong moments?

Christmas Pics: A Little Late

I realize this is late but I figure better late than never.We managed to decorate our house a bit for Christmas so I thought I’d show you some of the pictures and a few of the activities we did.

Here’s our Christmas mantle. I decided to go with a red, silver, and blue theme. I thought those colors might be a nice change from the typical red and green. The JOY letters were stuck on the wall until they came crashing down one night at 3 am. They have been sitting on the mantle ever since. I bought them at JoAnn’s, painted them red, and modge podged them with glitter.christmas mantleI took a frame and hung snowflakes in it. I placed it next to my Pier 1 glitter trees. Boy oh boy I wish my sister still worked there. The only thing I bought bedsides the JOY letters were the blue ornaments.

left side of the mantleThese are a couple of branches I took and spray painted white. I hung various blue ornaments from the branches. I placed some white and silver Mardi Gras beads inside the jar to keep the branches stable. treeHere’s our cheap and easy Christmas card display. I wanted to create this elaborate yarn and metal display that I have floating around in my head but it never happened so I’ll keep that in mind for next year.

christmas card holderI took a 3M Command Strip (which failed to keep my JOY letters up) and placed them on the wall. I took strips of ribbon, punched a hole at the top, and hung the strips. We then hung the cards with clothespins.close up holderGetting ready to visit Santa. Alex was feeling very sick that day so only Caroline and Andrew went. Turns out they were only willing to look at him and neither one would go close to Santa.before going to see santaMaking gingerbread houses – yes, it’s a pre-made kit, they loved itmaking gingerbread house

Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas as a family.Who knew I had six chins?

The Action Nativity SetnativityA wise man watching from the trees, ready to attackaction nativityEvery day Andrew would move the figures around and have a whisper dialogue with them. I desperately tried to hear some specifics but never could get close enough. All I know is that one day the wise men were on their sides, the animals were on top of the stable, and baby Jesus was behind the trees.nativityFamily photo I took of everyone before we went into the ICE exhibit in Grapevine.ervyoneHope your holidays were wonderful!

Sweets for School

I decided at the last minute to make some treats for the boys to take to school for their friends. Usually they come home from every holiday celebration at school with bags of goodies. There have been cellophane bags filled with miniature puzzles, themed pencils, candy, and even a stuffed animal one year. I never make these goodie bags because I kind of thought they were a waste of money and unnecessary. But I thought…new schools…new traditions.

Since I thought this would be a wonderful project to take on at 9:00 the night before the parties, I went to the pantry a little doubtful. I looked up into our dessert box and found marshmallows and chocolate chips – perfect!

I had seen something in blog world about using marshmallows as ghost  poop during Halloween so I thought I would do something along those lines.

I scooped little handfuls of marshmallows and chocolate chips into plastic bags and tied them off. I attached a note that said,”Enjoy your Texas snow and snowman buttons.”

marshmellows and chocolatesAlex wanted to put “Enjoy your Texas snow and reindeer poop.”

Clever, but I was afraid that wouldn’t go over so well at Andrew’s religious school so we went with the other version.

school giftsNow I say I implemented this plan at 9:00 at night but the thought about doing a treat had occurred earlier in the day. When driving through the car pool line I asked Andrew’s teacher if he could bring something for all of the kids in his classroom. She said sure, “As long as it doesn’t have too many sweets.”

Could she possibly be referring to the large box of Christmas candy I gave her the day before? I choose to think not. But I’m not too sure.

The Best Made Plans

Derek and I have had today scheduled for weeks as a designated “Santa Works Around the House & Helps Mrs. Claus finish Christmas shopping and wrapping day”. He was planning on taking the day off from work and help with the above. Boy oh boy I have had plenty of plans for projects just brewing in my head.

And then Friday Alex gets sick.

Why do they always get sick on a Friday afternoon?

Is it their way of avoiding the doctor but still ruining your weekend? Perhaps a little harsh.

So the whole weekend Alex was sick. He was mopey, tired, lethargic, running a high fever.

Out the window went Angel shopping, seeing Santa ice skate & do back flips, going out to eat, and visiting Santa.

Monday when he woke up he immediately started to complain that his throat hurt. It looked red to me but the fact that he was literally wrestling with Andrew made me question the seriousness of the problem.

So Derek and I pondered and pondered, “Should he go to school?”

I decided to take him to the doctor. I immediately started second guessing my decision since he was singing, laughing, and hopping around in the parking lot.

Turns out he has strep throat. With lots of energy.

Doctor said he can’t go back to school until Wednesday.

Now what are Santa & Mrs. Claus going to do about their day? Mrs. Claus is pretty sure she is going to ban Alex to his bedroom from 1-3 so that serious Santaring can get done.

Two days home. These are the only days Alex has been absent from school all year.

I think he knew the plan and wanted to be an elf.

Tree Update

Well, I thought since it’s been a week since I posed the real vs. fake question I’d give you our decision. But first I must say this was definitely a hot button issue with you guys. I promise we took all arguments into consideration and weighed the pros and cons.  It appeared to be almost a split argument between Northerners and Southerners. Of course those demographics are a bit different than what you might think. I put our Canadian readers in the Northern catergory while Chicagoans were the majority of southerners.

And our decision was…..

christmas treeCan you tell?

We went with fake.

We got a good price at Dillard’s for our 9 ft tree and I have a little more piece of mind when I sleep now. I always worried our real tree would catch on fire in the middle of the night. I have taken more than my fair share of trips to check on trees at 3 am. (I’m very aware that I am neurotic so no need to comment on that.) I’m also excited to deal with less tree needles. Of course, we managed to bring some of our previous tree needles into our new house. This is due to the fact that last year I just threw the tree skirt full of needles into the Christmas bucket.

Surprisingly the boys didn’t care one way or the other about the tree. They were just excited to put up the tree and decorate it.

For my family who may not be in favor of my decision I will have this waiting for you when you get here.

Real vs. Fake

No…I am not talking about body parts.

I’m contemplating Christmas trees.

Real vs. Fake

We’ve always had a real tree for as long as I can remember. I remember going to the tree farm with my parents to cut down the tree. We’d walk up and down the rows of trees until my mom could decide which one was the fullest. Then my dad would throw himself on the ground and attempt to saw the tree down with the worst saw known to man. We would then drag the tree to the cashier. Then they’d tie up the tree and my dad would try and hoist the tree on top of whatever minivan we were sporting.

Derek and I have not taken our kids to a tree farm but we have gone every year to chose a tree. For some reason, this special event always occurs on the coldest day of December. After wandering the tree lot for ten minutes we decide we are just too cold and chose whatever tree we are next to. Sometimes our quick decision turns out well and other times we get home and discover we have the Charlie Brown tree.

This year I’m thinking about a fake tree.

We have higher ceiling in our new house so I was thinking it would be great to get a 9 or 12 ft. tree. But I don’t want to pay for a huge tree every year. Maybe a fake tree would be okay. We would spend a bit more out of pocket this year but not have the tree expense again.

On the other hand. The tree is fake. You don’t have the annual trip to get the tree.

“Come on everyone. Get your coats on. We’re going to the attic!”

Doesn’t have quite the same feel.

I’m sure this is a hot button issue with all of you.

Break free and let your tree thoughts be known.

Thoughts? Real vs. Fake.