Monday, December 6, 2010

handmade ornaments.

I have been inspired to have a handmade/repurposed Christmas this year. I'm really trying to make things instead of buying them and I'm finding that there is a great deal of satisfaction in doing so. I've been crafting and making gifts late into the night with a dear friend, the enjoyment of crafting made even better by good company, meaningful conversation, and hot tea.

In keeping with the handmade theme of this Christmas I have been making some handmade ornaments most of which have been inspired by this post. This is my simplified version of her Book Page Bird Ornament. I simplified it because I didn't have some of the supplies she used. I also don't have a lot of patience...

My first step was to pester Mr. Gardner about letting me cut up one of his old books {this is tantamount to asking him if I could cut up one of his children}. After some deliberation, he said I could have this book that he had only bought because it was old (circa 1936) which he said he would never read. As you can see the pages are beautifully aged.
Using the bird template from the previously mentioned blog post, I began tracing and cutting. I did have to make my own wing template because there was not one provided. Fortunately, they turned out looking fairly anatomically correct.

Then I distressed the edges with an ink pad and glued the wing to the bird with my son's glue stick :)
Next, I flipped the whole bird over and stuck a cheap ornament hook through the paper. I had to experiment a little with placement so that the bird was not bottom heavy...that wouldn't fly {pun intended}...
Once I had the placement right, I used another wing template and glued it onto that side, matching it up with the wing on the other side.

I'm afraid we don't have a Christmas tree to model it on....I'll post a picture of our tree when it's up.
Aren't they sweet? They won't last long in this house...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

advent tree

I love the idea of having an advent calendar. I have some fond childhood memories of opening the little doors as the anticipation of Christmas Day grew through the month. We haven't ever done one in our home, mostly because it would require planning on my part, but I've been wanting to start some traditions as the boys get older.
So...when I saw this advent calendar tutorial over at maya made that she crafted out of toilet paper tubes I was smitten. Two days after I posted a link on facebook and lamented about how I didn't have enough tubes, I had two bags full of toilet paper tubes donated to the cause (Thanks Pam!)
So I got to work on them. I followed the directions precisely, except that I didn't paint the tubes 1. because I like the brown cardboard and 2. because I didn't have any paint. I also added squares of wintery scrapbook paper I had on hand to the doors. They turned out darling, and I've hidden little tickets with special things to do with my boys behind each door. So far we've had hot chocolate with "mushrooms" (marshmallows), and "helped" mama make some cookies.
The wonderful thing about this calendar is that it gives the gift of time to my little ones. Each day I'm reminded to do something special with them...

What better gift could I give them?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

giving thanks.

Today, I'm giving thanks for these boys...

And for this man (who looks smashing in my apron)...
For the abundance we have in our home...
For simple pleasures...
For friends and family to share with...
For the Giver of all good gifts...
And for this thrift store hospital-cart-turned-buffet I scored for $4!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with the ones you love!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

pirate party

Every kid needs a pirate party, right? Josiah turned 5 this last week and so we re-used our pirate get-up from halloween and had ourselves a pirate party! I found these great free pirate printables from the lovely cottage industrialist blog and used them for the party.

She had these adorable cupcake wrappers and decorations...

Pirate hats and eye patches for the kids to cut out and put together...this one was a bit big :)
And a darling pirate bunting for the wall.
No pirate party would be complete without a treasure hunt! I wrote out clues on a scroll image I found on the web and hid them in various places around the house. The last clue led them to...
Party favor bags!
Most of the loot for the party bags I found at the local dollar store, some of it discounted because it was left over from halloween (who knew the dollar store had sales?)
I made some little maps for the party favor bags out of vellum I had left over from my days of attempting to scrapbook...

And filled in the decorating with some shells (from the dollar store), gold chocolate coins and some pineapple "boats"

He's still talking about it...Happy 5th Birthday Josiah!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

fall fun...

I have mixed feelings about Halloween. I HATE all the evil nastiness that comes out around Halloween, but fall is my absolute favorite time of year...and I am a huge fan of parties, dressing up, and eating candy.
So...all that to say, this year is the first year that I've dressed my children up and attended a Halloween "alternative". Our Church hosted a Harvest Party/Chili Feed/Trunk or Treat/Bonfire which was very well attended, and oh, so much fun!

I started looking for pirate attire about a month ago at the thrift store and managed to buy outfits for myself and my three boys for about $30 (Mr. Gardner declined the dress up fun...) It took some very creative thinking, which made my head hurt, but it really helped that there are so many creative people out there blogging all their creativeness and making it available to people like me : )

Josiah was the fearless Captain Calico Jack Rackham
Elijah was the fearsome first mate Bart Roberts, eye patch optional.
And Noah was the dread pirate Little Henry.

Isn't he scary?

I could die from cuteness overload!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

where i've been...

It's been a long time since I posted. We really have been busy, but I also really haven't had much to say. Blogger's block, I suppose? Life has been ridiculously busy with school, work and pastoring a church, but it has also become very monotonous. With school starting the days and our hectic schedule have become routine. Josiah is in preschool and Mr. Gardner is back to school full time. Family time has become sparse, and I find myself longing for a day of rest. The idea of Sabbath is becoming very, very appealing. I find that Sundays are far from restful, in fact, I often feel that we need a full day to recover from them. The days are getting shorter, and colder, making me wish that we could all stay inside our home and spend time together. Mr. Gardner will be done with school in May, and so we are comforting ourselves with that thought. We are truly looking forward to spending a little more time together as a family.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

menu planning.

In a desperate attempt to save myself from that panicked feeling that comes from wondering what to do for dinner every day around 4pm when the kids are going nuts, I have been organizing my recipe files. My plan is to create 10 master menu PDFs with 10 dinner meals and a corresponding shopping list to keep in my kitchen binder. Each menu should get us through about two weeks of meals. My plan is to just rotate through the ten menus throughout the year and make changes as needed. I'll have to supplement the shopping list with pantry staples and breakfast and lunch items, etc. Really, though we eat mostly the same things for breakfast and lunch, so that part of the menu doesn't change.

I'm also making dividers for each set of recipes in each menus for my recipe holder and paper clip the recipes to the menu divider they belong in, so all I have to do is pull out that set of recipes when I start a new menu. I used the dividers from old photo storage boxes that I had lying around, which I cut to size and covered with some lovely black and white patterned scrapbook paper I had left over from some sort of project {the paper clips are from Walmart I think...} I plan to make dividers just for breakfast and dessert recipes, and probably also side dishes, appetizers, beverages etc.
It's going to be a lot of work at the outset, but I'm just quick printing the recipes that I want and resisting the OCD temptation to write them all on matching recipe cards.

I did, however, design my own recipe cards inspired by these and these {drooling}, just for kicks and maybe someday all the recipes will all be on matching cards. Hey, a girl can dream.

Here's the menu PDF as an example and a link to print my recipe cards...
Menu 1

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

table for five...or ten.

I have been curiously absent from my blog for over a month.

There are several reasons for that, which I won't go into. Mostly, life has just been crazy busy.

Not that it's any better now...I just have something to post about.

It recently occurred to me that, very soon, we will have five people eating at our table (Noah is still in the high chair at the moment...but not for long), and we have a table that only seats four.

I have also found that I don't invite people over much because there's nowhere for them to sit down and eat.

All these things led me to scour the internet in search of farmhouse tables...and discover very quickly that we could not afford one.

But in my searching, I found this blog and these plans for a farmhouse table loosely based on a Restoration Hardware farmhouse table that I have loved from the moment I first saw it.

I casually mentioned to Mr. Gardner that I really wanted a new farmhouse table and I had found some "really easy" plans online...the next day he said he was going to make it for me.

"Now?" I asked, incredulously.

"Would you like me to wait a few years?" He replied.

"Um, no. Now is great!"

I really wanted to use reclaimed wood, but it turns out that reclaimed wood is REALLY expensive and hard to we went with plain old pine. Mr. Gardner and his good friend built the table in just under two days.
And then it sat there for about a week. Truth be told, I was afraid to stain it.
I didn't really want it to look TOO polished because, after all, it is a farmhouse table. I wanted it to look like it had some history. So we did some distressing with random tools. My favorite distressing marks actually came from a bent-up dog comb.

Several of the blogs and websites that had instructions for creating a distressed finish on furniture recommended starting off with a layer of whitewash stain. So we used a stain called Pickled Oak as our base stain.
We followed this with a sanding sealer (which the man at the paint store highly recommended...maybe because it was $16 a quart). Then we sanded the table lightly with a fine grit sandpaper

Then it was the moment of truth. We decided on a walnut stain and tentatively began applying it to the table with rags...and it looked good!
I loved the results after the first coat, but wanted it a little darker, so we did one more coat of stain before finishing the process with Varnish.

And this is how it turned out.

The table looks absolutely amazing. I still can't believe that we made it. And I just love having a big family table to gather at for meals, visiting, studying and fellowship...although it barely fits in our dining room! We figured it could easily seat ten, and up to fourteen in a pinch with a few benches.
So now, I just need some benches...

I'm trying to decide between these three styles, all from the same website as the table plans:
I'm leaning toward the storage is always good.