Owner/Creator:Anita Knits

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

DIY Christmas Crackers!

This Christmas will be the first year that we will making our own Christmas Crackers!  I am soo excited!  I hope that this will be a family tradition that will continue for years to come!

I found this site very helpful. I do believe this is where the cracker snaps were ordered from as well (I am not entirely certain as they were a gift from a friend!).  I was inspired to make our own cracker this year, after watching this the program.  I just love idea of making things like this for your family, to add a bit of cheer!  
I filled our crackers with chocolates, Werther's caramels.

Christmas riddles that I printed.

And a small handmade ornaments.  I decided to not make the "traditional" tissue paper crown.. only because no one really wears them!  So I substituted for a small homemade ornament.

For the Christmas ornaments I decided on a snowman button ornament which I found here.

I also made a twine star.  For this I basically cut out a star shape out of card stock and covered it with twine using hot glue.  And finally strung some beads and buttons that we had on hand.

The only labor intensive part of this project was the ornaments.  They weren't difficult, but just took some time to make.  You could chose to just pick up a small toy from the dollar store or just substitute for something else small and fun.  The way I made this decision... is like this: what would I like to be surprised with in a cracker!  I decided to keep the look of them very simple, I used craft paper and a dollie.. you an use any type of paper you'd like.

Hope this inspires you to add a little bit of fun at your Christmas dinner!  Your guests will surely be surprised!

Homemade Christmas Gifts

I am going to start by confessing something.  I am always nervous when I share something I've made or crafted for the simple fact that I just don't want anyone to think I am taking credit for the idea.  I am well aware that most if not all of these crafts or ideas are not new.  They may have been re-invented or become popular once again.. but definitely not new.  I can only take "credit" for our take on what is very likely to be an old "idea".

Every year our oldest daughter wants to buy presents for everyone in our family.  As she gets older it actually becomes more and more fun to brainstorm and just spend time together thinking up what to give to each family member.  This year we decided on making the gifts for her siblings.  Ava has had a lot of fun learning how to sew and use my sewing machine.  I too have really cherished our evenings together sewing, learning and just spending some one on one time together.

For Gabriel we decided on an indoor hopscotch game.  I thought it was pretty original, but once I Googled it I realized it has been done (much like many crafts or gifts or what have you).. nonetheless we were pretty excited and proud of the end result.  I prepped many of the pieces by ironing the hems and even sewing some of the smaller pieces together.  Ava did a lot of the sewing and pretty much pieced the whole item together.

 She really enjoyed learning how to use my sewing machine, and I had a lot of fun teaching her!  I really loved to just sit back and watch her creativity, it was really amazing to watch her.  I think it's moments like this that help a person to really think out side the box.  What are the possibilities?  What are some potential issues that may come up?  Really helps you to think ahead and problem solve.
 All in all this was a really simple project, a bit labor intensive, but this is how we tackled it and the materials we used.  First off, the cream fabric is actually from tab top curtains that I owned.  I really don't like tab tops, so I thought I would put the fabulous cream fabric to good use :)  The green and white-ish fabric we bought at a second hand store.  I can't even tell you how much fabric it was... not very mathematical.. but it was alot and for $3.99 - so you can't go wrong there!

I cut out the size of squares that would allow numbers 1 through 10 to fit on the cream fabric.  Then I used mircosoft publisher and chose the font that I wanted to use for the numbers.  You can use any program you like, I just happen to really like microsoft publisher.  OK... so this is the super easy part... I just scaled it to the size we wanted to use.. and get this.. taped up the a small piece of fabric and traced it right from the screen using chalk.  Yup!  No printing, or making pattern.  Easy peasy - love it!.

Then the squares were hemmed and the numbers were sew on top.  Every piece of fabric was double stitched.  The reason behind this is because this is going to get a lot of use and there will be a lot of rubbing and jumping going on.  So I thought it would be best to reinforce where we could :)

 Along with the hopscotch we made a ball.  This I did "research" and I found this website to be very helpful on how to make a fabric ball.   For that I am grateful..........thank you! :)

Here is the finished project.  This took us two nights to make.  The design is pretty simple, but we think Gabriel (and the rest of us) :) will have lots of fun playing with it!


 The bag was a bit difficult for Ava to make, so I went ahead and made this draw string bag. Inside both the hopscotch "sheet" and ball fit perfectly.

 Added the "G" monogram and there you have it!

Another gift that we worked on together was a fabric bowling set.  Again, pretty sure this isn't new.. but we thought it would pretty darn cute!  For this project, we used another set of curtains that we re-purposed (which is the moss green coloured fabric), and the second fabric we actually re-purposed a sweater!  So really this project was very inexpensive as well.

This project we found to really move along quite quickly and was very straight forward.  We measured the length we wanted the bowling pins and then sewed them together to what look like a sleeve.  Then added a circular piece of fabric on the bottom.  Once the bottom piece was added it started to take shape, essentially looking like a cylinder.  To add weight to the bottom Ava added dried large beans (we happen to have a large bag left over from our fall crafts).  Then the rest of the cylinder was filled with stuffing.

She then sewed across the top of the "pin" to ensure all the contents stayed inside.  Then tied the top with the green fabric.  I simply ripped a long strip of the fabric to give it the frayed looked (which we like).

For the numbers I again used mircosoft publisher.  Chose the font we liked, sized it, and traced it straight from the computer screen.  We actually decided to hot glue the numbers to the pins, the reason for this is because for this we didn't want to see the stitching.  I'll admit there probably is a better way to do this, but I am not a "professional" sewer!  Nor do I sew very often.  I am certain this will last and stand up against time.

Made a pull string bag to fit all the items in.  We added the monogram letter "L" for Linden's name - and viola that's his Christmas gift from Ava! (with a mommy assist) :)  And of course we also made a ball to go with the pins.


All in all we think they turned out pretty great, but I think most of all Ava and I really just enjoyed staying up late, just the two of us, sewing, chatting and having a bit of fun and testing out the toys we made :)

A special memory I will always treasure :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Season of Love, Joy and pure Peace

In my heart and home, it is the season of love, joy and pure peace.  We've set aside time as a family to show this to each other and to those that are in our lives.  Yes, its fun to search for that special gift, wrap it and and put it under the tree.  Excitingly waiting to give it to them!  And of course it is thrill to watch the children every morning run around the house plugging in all the holiday lights.

However I wanted to share some new traditions and some that we that we have done in the past.  One simple act of love is to nature that surrounds us.  It can be as simple as creating a wreath seeds to show that you care and cherish the beauty of the animals that God has created for us.  When I watch the chickadees from our kitchen window, I am reminded that God ensures that the birds and animals will be provided for.  And so He will surely provide all our needs as well.  That is love.  And that gives me peace.

If you truly know me, you know that my love language is to "do" for others.  I show my love by  homemaking, cooking and other things I do for my family and friends - acts of love.  This year I stumbled across this tradition (of making it yourself).....  I hope I can incorporate in our festivities every year.  We have begun to gather the items that we will use to fill, what will be our first attempt at Christmas crackers this year.  There was a good chance that I wouldn't be able to make them the way I had hoped.  I wanted to add the "Christmas snaps" to them.  Essentially it's the little piece of paper that you pull that makes the "POP" sound.  I found it on the internet.. but I soon realized that if I ordered the item and had it shipped to my home it would have been very expensive.  I was bummed out.... as I wanted my act of love to my family to be the way I had pictured it.  But as I write this, I am reminded that I was the recipient of an act of kindness that I am certain brought joy to this person!  I told a friend that I had found them.. but they would be too costly to ship... well without my knowing, they had gone ahead and purchase them and had them shipped to where the cost was very minimal.  They then called me and told me that they ordered a bundle for me!  Wow!  Some might think this example is trivial.  But its worth is far more than just Christmas crackers.  Its about putting others first, lending a helping hand.  An act of kindness!  An act to love, to show that even in the small details that you care about - it is important to others as well.  Thank you!

This year Ava and I delivered plants to shut-ins and paid them a short visit.  People from our congregation that have lost a loved one over this past year, or are physically unable to frequently leave their homes.  This is a simple act of love goes far beyond a plant or visit, it is an act to show that these men and women are cared for and not forgotten.  And in this day that we think that a quick phone call or a simple email or note to say "hi" goes un-noticed or not cared for - is I believe untrue and probably just what the person needed that day.  Surely we would all love this tender act of love to be blessed upon us.

Plans are well underway to open our home to guests, this is an act of joy and love that is so precious to me and my family.  To open up your personal space can be difficult for some, for various reasons.  Over ten years ago when we bought our first home, there were many times that we found it difficult to have groups of people over due to the size or condition of our home.  We thought it wasn't good enough, or too crowded.  But I can assure you, it really doesn't matter on the "condition" of your home, what does matter to us is to show those around us that we care.  And that we want to invest our time in their lives and families.  Even now that we have moved into our second home, and it is considerably larger than our first (although our family is considerable larger now as well).  It's not always pleasant when our children are having melt downs or juice is being split.. but you know what.. this our family.  Every member is unique and brings that special piece that makes us - us.  Take it or leave it!  But please take it -- because we love friends and family to share our home. :)

One year for Christmas we purchased each guest that we were entertaining for Christmas dinner an animal from World Vision.  I created little name place cards printed with the type of animal we bought in their name and placed them on each setting.  We decided again this year that this was the perfect gift for some of our family members.  Pure peace - giving to World Vision,  knowing that my Lord and Savior looks down and smiles when He witnesses an act of compassion to those who can not help themselves.  We are living by example to the next generation (our children), that we are called to love on those that need it.  Be God's hands and feet, even if love is a fruit tree or warm blanket.

Jesus didn't pour His love on the "easy" people.  He loved the tax collector or the Samaritan women at the well.  As Christians we are called to be light in this world.  To bring joy, love and peace.  Is that always easy?  Nope.  We are flawed.  I am flawed.  I have bad days.  I can allow the worlds negativity to seep into me... and then I turn around and pass it on.  We are also called to especially love and cherish our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Is that always easy?  Nope.  Not for me.  But I try.  I try really hard.

In this day that we live in where social media exists, it's proves to both easy and tough.  Easy, to pretend that our lives are fine.  Easy to edit the parts of our lives that we want your "friends" to see.  Easy to put up walls.  Its also tough, because if you truly use it to let "friends" and family into your life, home or family you can also fall prey to ridicule, or even be shamed for what you accomplish or don't accomplish.  You could very well be called a "bragger".  Not celebrated very often for the efforts that you put forth to make others around know that they are loved.  Nevertheless, this sadden me.

During this special season, we celebrate that the Lord came down to live a life (a short life) on this earth.  To experience first hand what we would face: joy, pain, sorrow, peace, love and so many other emotions.  I have truly enjoyed the simple acts of love, joy and peace that I have experienced over this Christmas Season and over the past 2012 year.  It's not always easy to find these components of the fruits of the spirit in my life.  But I try, everyday, very earnestly.  And for now, that's all I can say.

Merry Love, Joy and Peace this Christmas

Friday, December 14, 2012

My non-dryer use Challenge Update

I haven't had a dryer since July 2011.  We are a family of six.  I hang our clothing.  Winter.  Spring.  Summer.  Autumn.  Yes, 365 days of the year.  Oh I guess I should probably let you all know, we have a wood stove, therefore when it is raining, snowing or just too damp to hang our items outside our laundry hangs inside, across the family room on a very very long line.

Just thought this update would be fun :)  It's a bit more work, but we enjoy the benefits of a considerably lower hydro bill.

Happy laundering
17 months, free of my dryer.
And yes, we are crazy!

You KNOW it's a good nap when....

There we go, all tidy up now.. and ready for snack!

Really, we are just happy that she has hair! :)

Simple & Personalized!

Just wanted to share some of unique, simple and very inexpensive things I have done this Christmas for my family.

Who doesn't love to see their name on something - anything!  This year I decided to make these super cute and simple name tags for our stockings.  The reason is two fold, 1) when the children run down and see their stockings laying on the couch they will immediately know which one this theirs and 2) I swear I am getting old, because frankly I can not remember who's stocking is who's (except for my hubby's and mine).  The other day, one of my little ones was asking me ... "Mommy.. is that my stocking or this one".. sadly I just pointed to one and say "Sweetie... this one".  So I'll make the decision now.. pop those handy tags on the stockings and I'm done!

One of the fun items that I have added to the children's stocking this year... are personalized gift certificates or passes.  I saw a "stay up late" pass on pinterest.. and then I started thinking... what about if I made up passes or gift certificate for the things that my children like to do.  So I created six of them.. they vary from a computer pass, stay up late, pick the game the family plays after dinner and so on.  Our family isn't huge.. but it's big enough to probably have our children feel like they don't have their own time or special thing that they do.  We try to do one on one dates .... but this is a great way to teach taking turns, decision making, and being gracious and accepting what another family members choice is.

These were really easy to make, choose what type of certificate or pass you would like to create.  Select free clip art from the internet and chose your desired size and colour.  I use publisher to create all my documents, but you can use any program that you like.