Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!

Just a short post to wish all my family, friends and readers a Happy New Year, not long of 2010 left  to say good bye to old father time and prepare for the arrival of the fresh baby new year 2011. I hope you have all had an eventful year, and will join me in raising a glass in toast to all the challenges and adventures that may lay ahead for us next year, whether they be big or small, hopefully some steps will bring us closer to the life we dream. Thank-you also to all the wonderful people who have inspired us all year.

We had such fun in December making our own decorations, some of the natural pine cone ones are above, some of the others I have already posted about. It was a shame to pack all the decorations away, but this was done with great care so that we could hopefully enjoy them all next year again, and start the new year afresh.

The whole family got involved making our Christmas cards too, I hope everyone who received one liked them. The paper quilled one above was made using the snowflake pattern and some of the others are below. What matters most to me is the fun we all had making them. We even made our own crackers, complete with hats, jokes, toys and snaps. 

so good bye 2010 and I'll see you all on the other side 2011. Happy new year, blessings to you all.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Velvet Christmas sacks

I finally took the plunge and did something I had been putting off for more years than I can remember, I cut up my Grandmothers old, very heavy red velvet curtains! I can see you all thinking that I went to my grandmothers house and attacked her drapery but NO, I had the curtains in a drawer for years, we have never used them but they were too good to throw away. I decided to make Christmas stockings / sacks for the small children as a family keepsake, a memento of all the wonderful Christmas times we have had together.

The above photograph is what I have ended up with, I have made 2 largish sacks on my new sewing machine. We have used Christmas ribbon as the drawstring, although we may change this for cord at a later date. I have also stitched on a snowflake and a few sequins to symbolise the snow that we have had this year. As these sacks are so sturdy they will last forever and I intend to add something new to the decoration every year as a sort of ongoing project to reflect us as a family. Next year I'm thinking that I may sew their names on in a Christmassy way.

This is how the fabric looked a few days ago, It is so heavy and a really stiff fabric, I did bend one needle sewing them, but I'm not that experienced at sewing. If I had more of this fabric it would have made a perfect cape or bodice it really is that thick. I used a simple method to make the bags hemming, sewing a channel for the drawstring then sewing all round the edges.

Here is a photograph of the finished bag with something inside, definitely cord next year I think. I'm pleased that we were able to recycle some old fabric into something that will hopefully become special to the children because lets face it little ones as young as mine are usually only interested in what's inside the sack. It's only when they get older they appreciate all the love you add to these little touches that make Christmas special.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Solstice Blessings

                   Wishing you all winter Solstice Blessings and a very magical Yule!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Remember to feed the birds

  It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but it is so cold and has been snowing a lot and some of our garden friends may have a little trouble finding food and water. Throughout the winter we ensure all our feeders and the bird table have a good supply of many different types of food the children have even helped make some bird feeders and they really enjoy watching the things each type of bird will take.

  I took this photograph in our garden today, the children were very surprised to see a blue tit's tongue, not something you see everyday. If you click on the photograph it will enlarge, so that you can see it's tongue close up. I think the nuts look a little frozen though. This is not only helpful to the birds and a way of giving back to nature but it is also educational and a great way to really study the garden visitors.

We have been wondering what happened to this starling today, it is difficult to see in the photographs but it looks like it has a strange hump on the back of it's neck, maybe from an injury. It's feathers stick right out at right angles sometimes and don't go flat.

Here it is in another photograph, it looks quite odd but the bird had no trouble feeding or flying, so it can't be seriously hurt. I did notice in another photograph that it had a toe missing too!

 It doesn't have to cost a lot of money to feed the birds either many of the things on the RSPB list are kitchen leftovers, as you can see here. If you want a guide to see how to make some bird feeders and also some other photographs of our garden birds see my husbands blog here.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Origami Tree cards

Just a quick post to show you what I made last night, we are making all our Yule / Christmas cards this year and we are going to be trying out many different styles, some for us and some for the children.

 Last night I made this card for someone, it had to be posted so I wanted to get it done quickly, it was my first attempt at an origami card, those of you who follow me on twitter will know I failed miserably to make an origami paper crane for my husband on our 1st wedding anniversary (paper). So although this is quite easy I am still very pleased with it. If you would like to try out this card there are many guides on line.  Happy folding.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Paper Quilled Snowflakes

As home educators, we hope to provide our children with the opportunity to try as many different and exciting arts and crafts as we can fit in over the years, with the aim of finding the ones the children love most and wish to continue with. Some of this enthusiasm has also rubbed off on us and this season I have tried out the art of paper quilling.

I found a free guide on a craft site, which looked very self explanatory (link at the bottom of this page) and my husband made me a quilling tool from a cut down needle stuck into a piece of wood, isn't he lovely! We then used the paper shredder to get the strips of card or paper to the correct size. I used the card we use to make greetings cards from as I wanted my snowflake to be sturdy enough to go on the tree.

The snowflake was sprayed with silver paint and glitter spray, which made it a little stronger, and matched the colour scheme of my tree.

This is a photograph of my finished snowflake, with ribbon added so that it will hang on the tree. I really enjoyed making this and I think it looks beautiful hanging on the tree. You could also fix the snowflake to the front of a home made Yule or Christmas card and wow the recipient. My eldest daughter has also tried it out, although she has taken it a little further and created her own designs.

 My daughters remind me a little of fractals, these are also waiting to be put onto the tree. The art of paper quilling has a long history which you can read about on this site.  If you would like to try this very relaxing craft out for your self and create these beautiful snowflakes for your tree you can find the guide here. My husband has done a guide for making your own quilling tool which you can see here.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Tree and Star

Finally got the tree up, well, mostly up! We still have some decorations to go on the tree which are in various stages of being made, painted, glittered or drying. Some of them I'm quite excited about and will be writing about them soon but at the moment this is how far we have got.  This photograph doesn't do the tree justice, it is so sparkly in real life. I have to admit to being a little obsessive with the tree and getting it just right, I don't know why because after a few days it always looks like it has been attacked by several bears.

 This is one of the stars my husband made to adorn our ceiling, it looks so beautiful reflected in light, it has also been sprayed with silver paint and glitter. I was originally going to make these with holographic paper to be more reflective but I think they look OK. So as you can see we are a little bit closer to being ready... if you would like to make the above star you can find a guide on this site.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Yule log and door wreath started

Time is moving so fast, I'm really behind in the seasonal preparations, I've managed to get the Yule log inside and partially decorated as you can see in the above photograph. The wood has been carefully selected to reflect our current situation and my husband has made a hole for the candle. I have decorated it with small clippings of holly and ivy from our garden, I need to add a few more things but for now that is as far as I have got. I was hoping that other family members might add a little of something they like, my daughter did add a couple of white pebbles and a drawing of a four leaf clover but she has since moved them on somewhere else. I will post another photograph when it is finished so you can see the end result.

  This is our door wreath, I got the basic ring with the circle of twigs for a pound locally about six years ago. It has lasted very well and I still really like the simplicity of the twig style ring but this year I thought I would enhance it slightly with nature. I have carefully wound in a couple of trimmings from our garden of holly and ivy, I could have gone overboard and made a huge holly wreath but I really love my little holly bush by the front door and would much rather it stayed alive. I intend to wire on a few more pine cones as we have loads of these and maybe some fir tree clippings too, but so far I'm quite impressed with my handy work, definitely OK for hardly any cost. I will post another photograph of the end result so you can judge for yourself.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Pine Cone Trees

   This is the first of our Yule / Christmas crafts this year, little pine cone trees. It is very easy, so even the smallest of the little folk can try this one. We always find ourselves with loads of pine cones this time of year, collected from many nature walks and displayed on our seasonal nature table. So finding something to use them for is always on my mind.

   First, the children selected a good shaped pine cone and painted it green, these were then left to dry while we prepared the pots. Anything pot like can be used here, (bottle lids for example) but we have used old cotton reels and wrapped a piece of sparkly paper around them. My husband then glued the two together as you can see in the above  photograph.

   The next stage is also very easy, though a little messy, adorn with your chosen decorations. As you can see above my children have used as many sparkly things as they could find, totally raided the craft cupboards. We dabbed with glue then added sequins, jewels and glitter, of course! My daughter even found a different way of getting sequins and glitter on the little trees, smear with glue and roll the pine cone in them, seems to have worked well.

   I think the final effect is very magical, they look so cute on the window ledge. The children had a really good time decorating the little trees and are quite impressed with their craft work. This craft can very easily be adapted to suit any age child and we hope you have as much fun as we did making them.

Quick Update

    December has roared in with lots of snow and freezing cold weather, and for the last week or so we have been stuck inside due to stomach bugs and bad weather. Only venturing outside to play with the snow in short bursts as it is so cold. We have been getting ready for the Yule / Christmas craft sessions and choosing which things we will try to make. Very exciting stuff!

   I still haven't improved much with the crochet, I made the above headband for my daughter, but not much else. I think maybe using the cheap wool that has been in the craft cupboard for years is probably not a good idea, so before I carry on with more I'll probably buy some of the good wool.

     With the onset of bad weather our thoughts have been with the birds that visit our garden, my husband and the children have been busy making bird feeders from coconut shells as you can see above, and various other ways of feeding the birds. If you would like to read more on our bird feeders you can check out my husbands blog here. Last year we made bird treats by rolling pine cones in peanut butter then in bird seed, which they loved, both the birds and the children.

   My husband has also been making lots of these little wooden plaques for me, various designs and all from recycled materials. Isn't he handy and thoughtful and just plain lovely. If you would like to read more about these and see all the other designs have a quick look here .
    Well, that was a very quick round up but I will be back here very soon with some of our Yule / Christmas crafts. We are intending to make as much as possible ourselves, some hand made things make the season much more magical and will bring many lovely memories for future years.