Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The holiday season

I love Christmas for so many reasons.  First there is the meaning of Christmas and the celebration of the birth of our Savior.  Then there are all the traditions, festive decorations, family meals, and time spent with extended family.

Over the past few years, I put great effort into establishing traditions with my family.  This includes getting a new pair of PJs the night before Christmas, a new ornament to reflect each child's interests over the past year, adding a tracing of each child's hand to the Christmas tree skirt, and the list goes on.

Well needless to say this year was different.  Some of the traditions still happened, and others did not.  I have to get a new tree skirt and retrace all the handprints minus one onto the new skirt.  I didn't have enough time with the kids to do some of the other events that we have done in the past.  We were able to spend Christmas eve and Christmas morning together, and I am so grateful for that.

But there is such heartache and grief now that they aren't here.  The house is filled with new toys scattered everywhere.  And yet the house is totally silent.  It looks like the kids were just plucked out of the home into thin air.  The drop off today was harder than nearly any other.

How do you hand your kids over to their father and another woman who has just moved into their lives without any regard for me?  How does another woman who has never been a mother before get to claim my children for this great holiday?  It makes my blood boil and my stomach curdle.

And then I remember why today is so important, why I want it to be important to my children, why I teach them what today means as I know they will never get that message at the other house, and I try to relinquish my grief and anger.  I try to be on bended knee before the manger.  And I try to think of Mary giving birth and later watching her Son be laid in the tomb, plucked into thin air.

So on this day I try to remember the reason.  I try to exemplify the qualities I want my children to have. I try to remain hopeful, faithful, and filled with grace.  And I try to think of the unspeakable joy this day brings.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday crafting 2012

I know it has been awhile.  I will write more again someday about adjusting to life as a single mom.

But for now I wanted to share my holiday crafting.  Last year I posted my pinterest related crafting attempts.  There were definitely some hits and some misses.

So I thought I would show what I was able to do this year.  I feel that this year's projects went much better than last year.  And I was able to resurrect one of last year's misses and it was much better this year.

First was the remake of last year's miss.

This year I used green fabric (instead of burlap) that I had on hand and wrapped a single large picture I had hanging on the wall.  I stapled the fabric to the back of the frame (obviously not a super valuable picture so I didn't care about staple holes).  Then I hung the same letters and stapled those to the back of the frame.  I used duct tape again to just hold them in a place a bit better.  And the result was a success!


The second project was an idea I first saw on "The Chew" but saw all over pinterest that same day.  This one involved taking cheap peppermint candies, unwrapping them, and melting them in the oven to make something.  Pinterest pins mainly showed how you can do this to make a serving plate.  But "The Chew" mentioned making ornaments with this technique.  So that's what I did.

Unwrapped a bunch of CVS peppermints.  Heated oven to 350.  Then placed peppermints on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Popped them into the over for 8 minutes.  The peppermints melt together - and voila a serving tray for your holiday cookies.  Or make small little rectangles (10 or so mints), let them cool for a minute or two, then use cookie cutters to make some ornaments.  The key to this project is you have to let the mints cool enough that you can cut/score them.  If you do it too soon, they melt back together.  So I cut them several times over and over as they cooled.  Once cooled enough that i could touch them, I could just break off the extra.  I also used a tooth pick to create a hole.
And here is the finished result!

A sibling and wife recently bought their first house.  I wanted to give a bit of a unique house warming gift.  So I decided on etched wine glasses.  I bought the glasses at Target (just didn't have time that day to make an additional trip to dollar store to buy glasses), got some armour etch from Michaels, and found a font on the computer that I liked.  I downloaded a free font, made a text box in a word document, typed the initial in the text box and blew up to size that I wanted.  And now the reason I did in a text box is so that I could use the "flip vertical" tool.  So now I was left with a backwards letter "V".  I held up a small piece of clear contact paper (still on backing) to the screen and traced the letter onto the backing of the contact paper.

Then cut out the letter/design from the clear contact paper.  Clean the glass surface with isopropyl alcohol.  Peel contact paper off of backing and place on glass surface (design will now be in correct orientation).  Use a popsicle stick to rub contact paper onto glass making sure no air bubbles are on the edges of the design.  Use same popsicle stick to stir etching cream.  Then use stick to gob some over your design.  The stick allowed me to easily make an even coating.

The bottle said to wait 1 minute - but in my trial on a mason jar I didn't think the etch was deep enough.  So I let it sit on the glass for 2 minutes, then washed off with water.  Peeled off the contact paper - and beautifully etched glasses!

Some tips: I used the clear contact paper because it was easy to trace, easy to see where the air bubbles were, and once the goo was on the glass I could look through to the inside surface of the glass to make sure there was cream evenly applied to the cut out area.  I used a small blade exacto knife to cut out the stencil.  I used my cutting mat and a straight edge to make sure I had a very neat cut out.  I used a clear ruler and held the stencil up behind it so the top of the "V" was exactly at 3.5 inches and then stuck it to the glass.  Then they were all placed at the exact same position.
To do non-straight lines you would have to use some sort of guide on the OUTSIDE of the cutout area.  Then if you slipped you cut into the area that is being removed instead of the area you don't want etched.

So that's a quick synapsis of this year's projects.  Not too many.  But I liked how things turned out.