A Date with my Sweetie, Part Two…

I took way too many pictures last week on our little day trip to fit into one post… so here’s the what we did AFTER we left the museum! We headed  to Longwood Gardens! We usually make a “Girl Trip” to Longwood around Christmas. Over the years, it’s included Mom, Robin, Jo, Kate, Nana Anne, and Me. I don’t think Chris has gone there at Christmas since the girls were pretty young, so it was all new to him! Every year, Longwood decorates with different flowers and has a different theme… this year was mostly red and white, and the theme was Gingerbread. Here’s what it looked like when you walked into the Conservatory…

And as you walked toward the back…

The photos really do not do it justice…

Hubby loved the Poinsettia Topiaries…

And I loved the Moravian Stars in the Rose Room…

There were trees made of Real Gingerbread,
and a Gingerbread Train…
THAT room smelled heavenly.

And a Gingerbread and Sugar-Glass Conservatory…

… And a Gingerbread Peirce duPont House!

But the best of all is the Indoor Children’s Garden!
We probably looked silly exploring in there since
we had no children with us!

All throughout the Children’s Garden, water drips, pours,
and spurts. It’s pretty amazing. The kids are so fun to watch as
they try to catch it or figure out where it’s going to come from next!

And I’m definitely not into scary Gargoyles…

But SOMEONE was a genius when they thought of this…

There were paint brushes available for the children
to “paint” with! The light changes color,
so they think they’re really doing something!

And I even came away with a new idea for an art project!

The ornaments on this tree were made by local elementary
school children… If you look closely, the designs were
taken from antique Butter Molds! What a neat idea to
combine art with early American history!

Hubby and I really did enjoy our “just us” day. We topped it off with a great Mexican dinner, and got home WAY past our bedtime! Being self-employed and usually having a mile-long “To Do” list, we often feel guilty taking a day off, but it’s a good thing to do every now and again.

Before you toss them…

My Nana Anne saved every card and note she was ever given. She stored them in those plastic zipped bags that blankets come in, and after she passed away, we spent several wonderful (and teary) days going through them and making up little bundles to return to certain family members. After a few hours, we could often look at the outside of a card and guess who it was from before looking inside… we all must gravitate to the same type of greeting cards each year!

But that wasn’t all Nana did with old cards. Coming from the “Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do Without” generation, a stash of old greeting cards was a treasure! When I was little, if I mentioned having nothing to do, Nana would always pull out a box-ful of cards, buttons, fabric scraps, or magazines, along with some scissors and a bottle of Elmer’s and tell me to “make something.”

And I did. These were the pre-video game days. We didn’t even know what a video was. Her TV only got two channels, and one of them was PBS, and I thought I was too old for Sesame Street. So days spent at Nana’s house were constructive instead of entertaining. If I didn’t busy myself by “making something,” she’s find some work for me to do… but she’d make that fun too. :-) We’d take those old cards and cut them up to make new ones. Or gift tags. Or collage pictures. Or we would try to draw the picture that was on it.

“Be creative,” she’d say. “Imagination is a great nation.”

When I was in middle and high school, I became very interested in art, and developed close relationships with my art teachers. And guess what? They saved greeting cards too! In the pre-Google days, greeting cards were a free way of obtaining reference photos for drawing. Both of my favorite art teachers kept filing cabinets full of greeting cards, organized in manilla folders marked “Birds,” “Snow Scenes,” and “Flowers.” If I needed to know how to draw a rabbit, they would send me to dig through the “Reference File.”

So with that in mind, as I was taking down the Christmas cards this morning, I thought I’d share some ideas on how to re-use them before recycling or throwing them away…

Cut them up to make new scrapbook-style cards!
Save pictures that can be re-used, or even the sayings
from inside the cards! A box-full of card parts can keep
little hands busy on snowy winter days!

Use them to make Scrap Ornaments!
Scrap Ornaments date back to Victorian times,
when greeting cards were just coming into fashion.
Blumchen is a great resource for tinsel and other
supplies to turn your card tidbits into something special!

Make Gift Tags for next year!
Sometimes a small picture or  the saying from
inside would make the perfect gift tag!

Start an Art Reference File!
Take an old shoe box, put in some cardboard dividers,
and file greeting card pictures according to subject!
The next time your 8 year-old wants to know how to
draw a camel, you’ll be prepared!

Draw it…
Tape a picture from a greeting card into your
art journal, and try to duplicate it on the opposite page.
Or, just try drawing elements of the picture,
such as a candlestick or manger.
It really does help to see how other artists depict
simple subjects. Artists often do a lot of “copying”
as they are learning how to draw!

For a challenge, tape HALF of a picture into
your journal and attempt to finish the other side!
Or tape in a picture of a person or animal
and draw the background around them!

Make a collage using bits and pieces from old cards!
Using Modge Podge or watered-down glue,
decorate a box to hold special Christmas treasures!

Make tiny boxes out of them!
Tutorial HERE!
We had a fun girl day, many years ago,
and spent the afternoon learning to make tiny
greeting card boxes! (Hello Poe Family!)
Jo and Kate showed Nana Anne how to make them,
and we soon had oodles of precious little boxes!
We even received the one on the left for Christmas this year,
made by ladies at church! (Hi Donna & Barbara!)

There are lots of other ways to use old cards…
A quick internet search will give you plenty of ideas!

Be Creative! Imagination is a great nation!
~Nana Anne~ 

Some things are just too pretty to throw away.

Silent Comes the Joy…

Silent comes the Joy, without proud announcement,
Like the hint of dawn is whispered to the night.
So then without warning, morning breaks victorious,
Extravagant and glorious – heralding the day.

Silent comes the Joy, delivered to a manger,
In the quiet night of stable and the world.
A world in need of angels and visions of life’s meaning,
To reinstate the dreaming that sin had torn away.

Silent comes the Joy, like a spring erupting,
Unseen in the desert, then carving out a stream,
Coursing down the mountain, soon a torrent swelling,
Jubilantly telling the pow’r of the unseen.

Silent comes the Joy…

~ Gloria Gaither ~

If you’re in Delaware, join us tomorrow at the
Christmas Shop in the Odessa Fire Hall!

Even better… spend the entire day at
Christmas in Odessa! 

Expectation…

Today snuck up on me.

The First Sunday of Advent.

As we were sweeping away the last crumbs of pumpkin pie, and simmering the turkey carcass to make stock, Advent came in quietly. The halls aren’t decked yet, and fighting the crowds at the malls and department store is the last thing I want to do. But, we couldn’t let this day pass without hanging up the Advent wreath.

I first heard of “Advent” when I was a twenty year-old newlywed… the churches I grew up in didn’t celebrate it. Our little church in upstate New York asked Hubby and I to light the Advent candle and read scripture on one of the Sundays in December, and that made our first Christmas together even more special. A few years later, we added an Advent wreath to our home celebration, and our girls grew up lighting candles on the Sundays that led up to Christmas. Every year we tried to find a new theme to study as we prepared our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s birth. A few years ago, we decided to try hanging the wreath, Tasha-style, so Hubby and I decided to hang it in the living room ceiling again this year. It still needs a dash of red, but at least it’s up!

This will be the first year in 25 years that it’s back
to “just us two” lighting candles!

Advent is a time of expectation… a time of preparing our hearts for the Coming Lord. For our family, celebrating Advent at home has helped us remember that there’s more to Christmas than buying and wrapping and decorating and baking. There’s much more to Christmas than a guy in a red suit and flying reindeer. There’s even more than a baby in a manger… the baby came into the world to be our Savior. The first candle of Advent symbolizes Expectation or Hope, bringing to mind the Old Testament prophecy of the coming Messiah. It also symbolizes the New Testament promise that He will come again!

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel, 
And ransom captive Israel, 
That mourns in lonely exile here 
Until the Son of God appear. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel!

And before we wrap up November… a little friend at church surprised me with a beautiful drawing of a turkey that she made! Emily’s grandmom printed out my Turkey-Drawing lesson, and she did a great job! Thanks for letting me share it with everyone, Emily!!!

On the Second Day of Christmas…

… It Snowed!

It actually started last night, so we can officially say
that we had a white Christmas!

And we decided today was the perfect time
for an official “Snow Day.”

A much needed “get the coffee going, stoke the fire,
and stay in your jammies for a while” sort of morning.

And on this wintry morning, I thought I’d share
a bit of December with you…

April the Goat decided to escape last Sunday
as we were heading out early to church.
I think she just wanted her neck scratched.

We had another visit from a little feathered friend.
A hawk was chasing her, and she got confused
and bumped into a window.
Hubby held her for a while, and then settled her onto the woodpile ’til she could gather her senses.

 

And Christmas came.

 

This Christkindl is one of my favorite decorations…

During the Protestant Reformation,
Martin Luther began the tradition of a child-like gift giver,
to discourage worship of Saint Nicholas,
and to represent Christ incarnate.

Christkindle eventually became more angelic looking,
but I like this symbolic version.

The boy Jesus… the Lamb of God…holding the Bible.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us
and we beheld His glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth.
~John 1:14~

Merry CHRISTmas!


Thistle Do-Ings.

The past few days have been very full, but also fulfilling! Thanksgiving dinner was at our home… I think we had sixteen people this year, which was actually a small gathering when you add up both sides of our family! We had a wonderful dinner (and I think could have fed another sixteen with the leftovers!) and then laughed together for a few hours over a can-full of old family photos and some silly stuff on YouTube.

On Friday and Saturday, we had our Christmas Open House at the store... LOTS more people, and lots more fun. It’s always good to see familiar faces and drink gallons of hot cider! Since then I’ve been working to get ready for Christmas in Odessa. A few new designs are in the works…

…and…

Oh, and we had art class today with five of my favorite little people! And tonight included a web call for Mark Mitchell’s Children’s Book Illustration Course. There were some technical difficulties during the call, but the artists made the best of it and began cartooning and doodling all over the screen as we waited for things to get fixed. Corporate doodling is pretty fun… especially with a bunch of really big kids!

And I’ve just about tuckered myself out enough to head to bed. Taking early evening naps on the couch really messes up my sleeping habits… but I’ve discovered I can get a LOT done in the middle of the night! I even had help tonight… although it was unsolicited…

Ummm… Oreo…

… this might not be the best place for you to take a nap!

Christmas things in the works…

Hello Folks! We’ve been trying to get in the Christmas mood lately, since we have a couple of shows coming up, and will need to have Christmas-y sorts of things on the table!

We’re going to be at…

and also at…

Christmas in Odessa

So, that means lots of Christmas carols playing around here for inspiration. Haven’t broken out the hot chocolate or mulled cider yet, but that’s next.

:-D

This morning, I took a few minutes and added our current Christmas designs to our Tidings of Comfort and Joy shop page. And a few on our Miniature Papercuts page. There’s still a bit more to come, so keep a watch on it… my scissors are still snipping…

Oh, my gosh, my golly
It’s time for mistletoe and holly…

(…and maybe a bit of pine too!)

Christmas-ing…

Hello folks! It’s been quite a week so far! Industrious, with a few mishaps, but all in all a good week.

I think we have all the orders out the door and on their way to their destinations! If we’ve forgotten anyone… well… we hope we haven’t forgotten anyone!

:-P

In the mishap department, our dear printer/ scanner/ copier/ fax/ all-in-one/ Jane of All Trades/ my right hand gal/ very important piece of equipment is deceased. Hubby performed an autopsy… well, he actually attempted to fix it, but pronounced it dead once it was completely taken apart. It was quite an impressive operation, with lots of wires and screws and electronic looking things hanging out everywhere.

Also in the mishap department, our dear computer is acting very strangely. We’re not sure if she’s in mourning for the printer, or if it’s something more serious, but if we disappear from the internet for a short while, SOMETHING has happened.

And the washer made a funny noise. Which made Hubby start singing our theme song…

Honey, don’t kick it, Promise I’ll fix it,
Long with ’bout a million other things…
…Just another day in paradise.

However, Christmas preparations are coming along nicely! We should have the glitter and cookie dough cleaned up by Christmas morning.

We got the picture frames out of the way just in time to make some cookies. Kate made the Ginger Cremes first (recipe below!), and accidentally added an extra cup of flour to the doubled recipe. So we doubled the recipe again, left out a cup of flour, and mixed the two batches together. Then I made the chocolate chip dough… two giant batches… and left out the baking soda and salt. This was discovered because the first two trays of cookies were looking rather flat. So we managed to stir in the missing ingredients and said a prayer that it would work. The next two trays came out just fine, and the chickens will get flat chocolate chip cookies for Christmas!

:-D

And Somebody got a really neat early Christmas present from her Sweetheart! It was a little too big to wrap…

And, we thought we’d share an old family recipe… these are everyone’s favorites around here!

Ginger Creams

Dissolve 2 teaspoons baking soda in 1 cup hot water, and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup shortening, 1 cup sugar, and an egg. Add 1 cup molasses and the soda & water mixture.

Sift together 4 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a teaspoon each of Ginger, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Ground Cloves. Add to the wet ingredients, and drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes in a 400 degree oven. When cool, frost thinly with vanilla icing.

As the oven and baking sheets heat up, they seem to bake quicker… sometimes as fast as four minutes… so keep an eye on them. The cookies should look like little ginger cakes, and should spring back and not fall when you press on the top of them.

Merry Christmas!

An “At Home Craft Fair”… and a FREEBIE!!!!

Hello folks! We’ve finished up the last of our Fall and Christmas shows, and have finally gotten the entire stock of papercuttings up on the website! There are several pages (5 total!) of papercuttings, from large to small, so if you’re in need of a last minute hand-made gift let us know! We figured this is sort of like a craft fair you don’t need to leave home for, so until Christmas we’re offering…

FREE SHIPPING FOR ORDERS $50 & OVER!

And, we have a special “Scratch & Dent” Bloggy Give-Away!  This sweet papercutting met with a framing accident… somehow our utility knife flew into the air, and landed “point down” on the edge of the mat that this was mounted on. It was really quite impressive. So, Hubby trimmed it a bit and made a frame that hides the little “ding” under the left edge. Or at least it almost hides it… you can see it if you turn the frame sideways and peek under the edge. So, we have another pretty piece to give away on the blog! If you’d like to be included in the drawing, just leave a comment on this post and make sure I have your e-mail! We’ll choose a winner on New Year’s Eve, to be announced on January 1st !


Harmony
10″ x 10″ Framed Size

We’re finishing up the last of our 2009 orders this week, and will be taking a much needed break until early in 2010! I might even get a chance to blog a bit more and visit with our internet friends… I’ve missed you all!