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Category Archives: My Favorite Things

Beatiful things- I just cannot contain myself! I am compelled to tell you about it.

My new, not-so-shabby ottoman!

Hello, all!

I am definitely on the mend! The first clue to my return to health: I started and completed a project! (Yes, I am psyched!) I have looked high and low, hither and yon, for furniture pieces I could repurpose. The problem is I have not found the pieces I need at a price I could afford (near $0). Yesterday, I visited my local thrift store and a couple of consignment shops. The one of the consignments had a lovely queen-sized bed set I would have loved to remake into a sofa; yet, it was way out of my price range. It also had two great tables, I would love to get my hands on, but they were $150 each! Yikes! The thrift store had a very sturdy coffee table, with interesting feet, which sported three panels of smoky glass. The table, left that thrift store (minus the glass panels) in my hot, little hands for the snazzy price of $20!

Before:

My $20 Thrift store table. Like: 1) the size and shape (25″ X 50″). I have a long, narrow front room, so this shape fits my space. 2) this table is sturdy, the legs are solid, no wiggles! 3)The feet already have plastic protection on the bottom so my wood floor is safe and I do not need to purchase them new. Not-so-much: 1) The oak is fine; but, not impressive. 2) The pattern in the wood are sea shells; again, not bad, just not “my thing.”

My fist step: Gathering the rest of my supplies. Luckily, I have pale paint from another project.

Next, I had a slab of plywood in the garage. I could have lugged it out myself; however, I called in a favor and had my husband cut it for me. Awesome!

He also hooked me up with the proper nails and staples to go with his compressor-powered nail gun and stapler, so I didn’t spend a weekend nailing and stapling by hand. Very nice!

I found a large piece of foam at my nearby Home Depot. I found it while comparison price shopping online for another project. Wow! $19.99 for a 3″ thick, 30″ wide by 79″ long slab.

I used some cotton batting I purchased during the gathering phase for another project, which will need to wait a bit (but that is okay because I still have other things to gather and I may find batting for it elsewhere).

Then, I mixed up some chalk paint. (I found a DIY blog via Pinterest (the gist: 2 parts paint for 1 part plaster of paris, which makes a thick, matte paint with a shabby/country/rustic/vintage feel). This was my first experience with chalk paint. My verdict is still out. Pros: I like the texture and the aged, yet clean feel. Con: I think it lightened my “natural wicker” paint a little too much. I may opt to give it another plain-paint coat later…

I cut my upholstery from a natural canvas drop cloth. (<$20 for a piece 3 yards by 4 yards! I am using the rest in another project next week, so none will go to waste; although, a smaller drop cloth could be used if this was a lonely, solitary project.)

Last, a piece of sand paper, which was the first thing I used.

Next step: I sanded just the feet/legs, and just a bit higher up the frame to rub the varnish out. I wanted to make sure my paint would adhere to the wood well enough. I waited a few hours for it to dry, then sanded it very lightly, and added another coat before turning in for the night (which was really early morning-typical for me).

This morning, I woke up eager to go at it again! I plugged in the compressor and let it build up pressure while I fed my troops and said, “hello!” to the morning. By the time I was ready to get to work, so was the compressor. I used the nail gun to fix my plywood to the top of the table frame.

The plywood was left-over from an old twin bed. Now… it is mine! (Insert villainous laughter AND grin.) It’s sturdy, a little spattered; but, that will not matter in a matter of minutes!

I measured the length of HD (high density/ Home Depot) foam to match the table. (I just used a straight edge and a sharpie.) A sharp, old kitchen knife with a serrated edge made shortening it easy. (Some people use an old electric knife when cutting foam, but I found that even with projects always in play, I never used mine; so, I donated it to a thrift store a couple of decades ago. The regular knife worked just fine for me.) I am relieved to get the foam covered because my children pounced on it immediately when it entered the house!

Anything this wonderfully big, white, soft, and new HAD TO be made into a toy in my home! Sonnet (my “baby”) could not resist it! She climbed right in.

A Sonnet Sandwich!

My foam is a little wider than my table’s narrower measurement, so I just split the difference and placed the frame right in the middle. I made a couple of guide marks with my lovely Sharpie marker so it would not come to a crooked end. Then I covered it with two layers of the cotton batting.

Here’s Christian, my third-born and my champion! He’s manning the music library on my laptop (he is phenomenal about taking listener requests!), lending moral support, and once I was ready, he lent a hand for holding my rolled edges in place while I operated the stapler. Sonnet is pleased-as-punch in the foreground, showing off the dragonfly ring I put together for her last week.

I used the stapler gun to attach the cotton batting to the corners, creating a tuck on each side of the corner. I rolled the foam on the long edges down toward the edge of the plywood, and stapled the batting covering it to the under-side of that edge, keeping the tension on the batting and foam even along the way. I wanted the sides to look “fitted” without puckering. I worked from the middle of each side out to the corner each corner. The staples made attaching the batting easier, and less noticeable. Because I want the base of the piece to have a straight edge, rather than the shell scallop, I attached batting (4-ply) to that edge as well. I had to assure I pointed the staples at appropriate angles for each shot because some spots had less wood behind them than others and I needed to be sure each staple caught the backing.

The batting phase is complete! Tidy staples and smooth edges in the batting made adding the canvas upholstery easy! (There’s the canvas next to the foot of the table.) I followed the same, basic pattern in adding the canvas, except (because I created a straight edge at the bottom of the base to hide the scallop) I started with the sides (middle mark to corner, smoothing as I went), and then did the corners.

I ironed the canvas and laid it across the top of the batting. I made one staple in the middle of the first long side. Then, maintaining the tension I established with the batting, I spaced a row of staples up, under the edged of the wrapped plywood. Then, to create my new bottom line, I placed a diamond-pattern tufting (created with the staples). The lower points of the scallop beneath my batting allowed just enough low staple placements, and the diamond pattern reinforced them higher up in areas where I could not place them as low. Because I used a packaged drop cloth, two of my edges were stitched, two were raw-cut. I could have used my sewing machine to run a straight stitch around the other two edges; yet, I didn’t because I was about to cover them anyway. As I continued my straight edge of fabric along the bottom of the base, I tucked the raw edge in and stapled it in place. Along the corners, I developed a lower point of fabric as I created the tucks. I trimmed them a little lower than the neat edge, and followed the same, tuck-and-staple technique.

I considered placing a row of decorative upholstery tacks around the edge (fancy!), yet I decided that was unnecessary. I will return the two packs of tacks ($1.99 each) and recoup the cost. I did decide to wrap the base with a giant burlap ribbon (Hobby Lobby 15′ for $4.99- I waited for the store’s weekly sale in that department, and bought it at 1/2 price for $2.50 +tax). So,

Table ($20); Foam ($20); plywood (free); paint and sandpaper (free); cotton batting ($30- could use poly batting or reuse an old comforter next time for lower cost); staples and nails (on-hand); burlap ribbon (<$3.00); Canvas (used less than 1/4 of the cloth, about $5 worth. I will use the remainder on another project next week. Not a speck will be wasted)=

After:

My finished piece: A not-so-shabby ottoman! Cost: about $78. Response: My family loves it!

Well, although I adore days that end this way- a completed project always helps me relax, feeling satisfied with success for the day- I will sign off! I am stealing time from the wee, small hours of my morning. Later, I will be back to work, with a major project: repairing a damaged cupboard and replacing our old, laminate kitchen counter tops with concrete ones! I am SO excited, but it must wait until I have rested a bit. More on that before the end of next week… So, until next time,

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Oh, my stars!

As I said in my last post, I imagined my glitter hearts at Christmas as I was making some 3-D star ornaments.  Here’s how those went together:  First, I began with a slice of cardboard and a cookie cutter.  Chipboard is better, but I didn’t have anything large enough at the time.  I outlined the star and trimmed it out.  This became my template.  My cookie cutter came in a package of 3 sizes, so I actually made 3 sizes of stars.  Tiny, medium, and large.

Each 3-D star needs two matching cardboard stars.  Set one star aside, and work with the second for now.

scored star

On one side of the star, use a craft knife or utility knife to score from each tip to the center.  Cut through only one layer, not all the way through.  Flip the star over, and on the other side score from the inside corners to the center.

Scored and folded star

This scoring allows the star to bend, making the lines as straight as possible.  Make a fold at each score line, bending the scored edges away from each other.

Putting the star together

The folded star “pops” up.  Use a piece of craft wire (about 8″ long to make a loop.  Place a dot of hot glue about 1/2″ from one point of the flat star and adhere the wire loop to it.  Place the scrunched, folded star on top and hot glue the sides together.  trim excess cardboard from the flat side of the star.

Here is the finished star, ready to be sealed and decorated.

If the star will be painted or glittered, fill in the score lines with hot glue and smooth with a straight edge (like a spare piece of paper, knife, of popsicle stick).  If covering the star with paper, filling the line is unnecessary.  I made some covered with vintage book pages, left over from the woven star ornaments, and I made some covered with glitter.

A thin coat of glue and a sprinkle of ultra-fine glass glitter, or a gluestick, paper, and a coating of shimmery paint make these stars really sparkle!

This was a great way to keep my hands busy while I watched Christmas movies!  I even kept working on them once Christmas was over.  I want to decorate for New Year’s Eve this  year with TONS of stars!

For now, I’m going back to my Anniversary prep and Prince Charming!  Until later,

Hearts, glitter, and whimsy

I am having a lot of fun as I continue in my preparation for my anniversary with some crafty projects and with finding more quotes to inspire me.  I love pulling out my boxes of decorations after a year has passed!  I love the tradition of decorating (just like I do for Thanksgiving and Christmas) because it sets apart the time of year with visual reminders.  I like the familiarity of seeing old things, the novelty of things I haven’t seen in a while, and the mental shift that gets me thinking, “Yay, I get to celebrate my marriage!”

Several years ago, I made a garland to hang in my front room.  I used lots of glass glitter (it is shinier and prettier than regular glitter), cardstock, crepe paper, paper valentine doilies, glue, a grommet kit, heavy craft wire, and some vintage pictures out of a book I had on hand.  Its showing its age and I am in the process of remaking it.  I don’t know if I’ll finish it on time for my anniversary, but definitely before V-Day.  Just in case, I want to share this now.  If I get the new one done, I’ll post that, too.

I made this back in 2002. I love the red glass glitter and the vintage pictures. I definitely want to remake this, and I will make my new one more durable.

This is probably my favorite heart! I used the red glass glitter, two sizes of paper heart doilies- one metallic, one matte, some printed scrapbook paper, and some cream-colored cardstock, on which I printed the "ooh, la la!" I punched a hole in each side, and used a grommet kit to make them sturdy. Heavy gauge craft wire in black connected each heart. I wrapped each end around a pencil several times to make them curly cued.

I used the same basic method for each heart and just changed out the embellishments. This one- Eternal Courtship- I think is a cute idea. I have decided that I will replace the white glitter with silver in my new one though-- the white doesn't stay as sparkly over time as the silver will.

This one- Be still me heart- is a little different. I used smaller hearts, and overlapped them over the banner, which I printed and lined with ruffled crepe paper. Crepe paper can be found online in sheets, but I just cut a roll of party crepe paper in half, gathered it, and stitched it. The stitching isn't required, but I thought it made gathering it around the edges of the paper easier for me.

This "Sweetheart" heart is pretty cute! I used scalloped scissors to ruffle the white layer and crepe paper, again, behind that.

One mistake I made was I used cardstock for the hearts.  Cardstock isn’t sturdy enough and the glue warps the paper, so I will use chipboard when I remake it.  The grommets were a great idea, and in chipboard, they’s last forever.  (Eventually, two of them pulled out of the cardstock.)  Maybe my attachment to something made of paper and glue is a bit silly, but my joy, creativity, and celebration went into making it, and every time I put it up, I remember that.  I think that feeling is what the attachment is all about….

Next, I made some glitter hearts.  I had the idea at Christmas when I figured out 3-D star ornaments for my tree.  I did not post them!  I just ran out of time, but I’ll put up a separate post for them with how-to’s.

Each 3-D heart has a solid heart at the back (left) and a second heart at the right. I used the scoring blade on my paper cutter to make my fold lines straight. I made one fold right down the middle, folding right sides together, and one fold on each side (back sides together) along the dotted lines. Across each of the curves at the top of the heart, I made a fold (back sides together), and made a small snip into the heart where the bold lines are. The snips allow one side of the snip to overlap the other (held with hot glue), which made the curve 3-dimensional. Once the two top points were glued, I set that aside and clipped a piece of wire about eight inches long. I made a loop by twisting the edges together. I hot glued my heart (folded in an accordian-like manner) to the flat heart with the connected edges of the wire attached right in the middle between the two layers. The folded heart is a little smaller, so I let the hot glue set, and trimmed the edges. A good, even coat of craft glue and then one of glass glitter, and the heart was finished.  This is a real “close-up,” yet this star is about 2″ wide and 3″ tall.

I love to reuse things! I knew I wanted lots of small glitter stars, and since I can't buy much right now, I used my "thrifty gene"- My family loves using drink packets, and the boxes make great layers for my stars.

This is a template for the silver star above. I just free-handed a heart and played around until I got it.

Deep red glitter heart! This is just a larger version of the other one. It is about seven inches in width. I used a box from a recent book shipment. The deep red glitter is really bold, I think.

When I'm on a roll, I want to get whatever I can out of getting messy!

I made five 3-D hearts, then I decided to make some slightly larger flat hearts.  I used the same sized boxes as before, but made the hearts longer.  (I made about 15 of those.)  I could assemble the flat hearts much more quickly, so I don’t know which ones I like better.  For the flat ones, I inserted my wire loop between two layers, hot glued,and made a seal around the edge.  Smoothing off the edge allows the glitter to coat the edge without defining the line between the papers.  I only glittered the front (because I want to make my glitter stretch), but both sides could be glittered if the hearts would hang and be seen from both sides.  I also used the bottom of a candy box that my band was given at christmas.  The material was just as thick as craft store chipboard, so I like its sturdiness.  I cut one dramatically long, thin heart (picture above) from the center, and I found that the two angles left over were enough to give me a matching heart with a little hot glue splicing.  I have one hanging on each side of my mantle, which is still a work in progress.   I really love the silver glass glitter!

I believe I have mentioned previously that I adore ribbon…well, I do!  I hang ribbon every chance I get.  Autumn, Christmas, Anniversary, Spring, and Independence Day-  coordinating ribbons everywhere!  Even on the dining room chandelier.  I want to recover the shades, and if I get around to it, I’ll share, but for now- my fixture sports red and white polka dot ribbons, red grossgrain ribbon knots, and miniature heart ornaments.

My dining room is north-facing, so it doesn't receive a lot of natural light. I brighten it up with extra color. Silly? I know! 🙂

My favorite heart ornaments are vintage ones I've had for years- they're glass, deep red, and have a sprinkling of glass glitter just on the top, but these are just cheapy ones I picked up a couple years ago from Walmart or Target. They are plastic, so I don't need to worry about them being bumped off and breaking. They're still cute and shiny.

I have several projects to go; a couple are digital, and a couple hands-on!  The next I’ll start, even before redoing my banner is to make a Prince Charming for my Queen of Hearts!

Queen of Hearts by Nicole Sayre (2006) Retired.

I bought her back in 2006.  She was designed by Nicole Sayer and I think she’s great; however, she needs a man!  I had the idea three years ago, but I just couldn’t do it then.  My imagination has him patterened similarly to the Disney Prince Charming- black hair and blue eyes (that’s Steven) sash across the suit, etc., but all I have so far are some rough sketches.  I think I’ll make him of cold porcelain over a wire frame.   This may be my Friday night splurge, since I am all caught up on my studies….hmm!

Well, until I have more to share,

Remembering Romance, continued: Hugs and Kisses!

  Hello, everyone!  Yesterday (Sunday, supposed to be relaxing and joyful, was definitely not!) offered me several challenging opportunities for practicing remembering love and romance.  I’d like to offer you a jumbled rainbow of my archived quotes.  Perhaps one will make you smile, strengthen your resolve, soften your heart, or give courage to your spirit, as rereading these this morning did for me.  I hope you enjoy! 

 happiness is like a kiss-

In order to get any good out of it

you have to give it to somebody else.

-anonymous

Don’t worry, be happy!  -Bobby McFerrin

A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away. ~Bil Keane, “Family Circus

Everybody needs a hug. It changes your metabolism. ~Leo Buscaglia

You can’t wrap love in a box, but you can wrap a person in a hug. ~Author Unknown

Hug Department: Always Open ~Author Unknown

I love hugging. I wish I was an octopus, so I could hug ten people at a time. ~Drew Barrymore

No matter how hard you hug your money, it never hugs back. ~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I will not play at tug o’ war
I’d rather play at hug o’ war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs….
~Shel Silverstein

Arm ourselves for war? No! All the arms we need are for hugging. ~Author Unknown

A hug is a handshake from the heart. ~Author Unknown

You can’t give a hug without getting a hug. ~Author Unknown

A hug delights and warms and charms,
 that must be why God gave us arms.
~Author Unknown

Hugs are the universal medicine. ~Author Unknown

A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange. ~Author Unknown

A kiss without a hug is like a flower without the fragrance. ~Proverb

If you’re angry at a loved one, hug that person. And mean it. You may not want to hug – which is all the more reason to do so. It’s hard to stay angry when someone shows they love you, and that’s precisely what happens when we hug each other. ~Walter Anderson, The Confidence Course, 1997

Hugs grease the wheels of the world. ~Author Unknown

A hug is two hearts wrapped in arms. ~Author Unknown

I don’t discriminate – I’m an equal-opportunity hugger. ~Author Unknown

A hug is a smile with arms, a laugh with a stronger grip. ~The Quote Garden

Hugging has no unpleasant side effects and is all natural. There are no batteries to replace, it’s inflation-proof and non-fattening with no monthly payments. It’s non-taxable, non-polluting, and is, of course, fully refundable. ~Author Unknown

Never wait until tomorrow to hug someone you could hug today,
because when you give one, you get one right back your way.
~Author Unknown

Sometimes it’s better to put love into hugs than to put it into words. ~Author Unknown

Be a love pharmacist: dispense hugs like medicine – they are! ~The Quote Garden

A hug is the shortest distance between friends. ~Author Unknown

Hugs can do great amounts of good – especially for children.
Princess Diana

They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything  -Bil Keane

We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.
 Virginia Satir

Millions and millions of years would still not give me half enough time to describe that tiny instant of all eternity when you put your arms around me and I put my arms around you. ~Jacques Prévert

The secret to having it all  . . . is believing you already do!

“In my ninety-plus years, I have learned a secret. I have learned that when good men and good women face challenges with optimism, things will always work out! Truly, things always work out!”
~ President Gordon B. Hinckley

Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.  Look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.  Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best.  Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.  Live on the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you!                                                                                                                                           –Christian D. Larson

(context for including this in my love quotes:  I think to myself, “what am I bringing to my relationships?  what am my creating?  do I hold my spouse in smallness, flaws, and mistakes of the past; or, do I wake up allowing him the opportunity to grow and change, do I recognize that he is a different person today than he was yesterday- just as I am?”)

“BE the change you wish to see in the world.”  Gandhi

                                                                                                                       

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
 my heart) i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
 by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
 no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

e.e. cummings

  I’ll be back to share more soon!  This month is such a big one, I’ll have lots to share, including some of the projects, gifts, children’s crafts, and decorating I have planned. 

 

Remembering Romance

At the end of the month, my husband and I will celebrate our 19th anniversary.  We’ve had our ups and downs; we’ve had rough days and rough years, yet we’re in this for the long haul.  We believe in eternity!  Marriage isn’t easy, nor is it meant to be a walk in the park.  It is meant to teach, protect, and strengthen.  Some moments feel more like teaching, testing moments, yet for me that’s ok.

For the past week, I’ve gathered more quotes and ideas for celebrating.  I’ll be posting some of them under my love tag, but there are more on my Pinterest Romance board.  Check those out if you like.

Shifting mental gears; bear with me:  I have never been very impressed with Valentine’s day.  For me, it isn’t a religious holiday; it seems over-hyped by retailers; and, most of all, can present perfect opportunities for people (women especially) to adopt an attitude of dissatisfaction.  However, years ago, I wanted to decorate, and I decided that I would decorate in mid-January and make my anniversary a month-long focus instead.  Now, my anniversary date resides right in the middle of that month, and Valentine’s day is right at the end.  I find having something big to celebrate brightens up the bleak, cold months of January and February.  So, we’ll have a lot of lovey-dovey stuff going on around my house.  I like to draw my children into it, because our marriage was the beginning of it all.

I want to remember: I want to remember where my husband and I are headed, why we chose each other, and all the great moments, sweet moments, strong moments.  I choose to remember the romance.

So, here are a couple of my favorite quotes, which I journaled long ago that bring a smile.

      ” 12 February, 1840

Already the 2nd day since our marriage; his love and gentleness is beyond everything, and to kiss that dear cheek, to press my lips to his, is heavenly bliss.  I feel a purer more unearthly feel than I ever did.  Oh! Was ever woman so blessed as I am.                             -from the journal of Queen Victoria”

Although I conquer all the earth,

Yet for me there is only one city.

In that city there is for me only one house;

And in that house, one room only;

And in that room, a bed.

And one woman sleeps there,

The shining joy and jewel of all my kingdom. 

-Anonymous

       Sonnet XVII

Who will believe my verse in time to come,

If it were fill’d with your most high deserts?

Though yet, Heaven knows, it is but as a tomb

Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts.

If I could write the beauty of your eyes,

And in fresh numbers number all your graces,

The age to come would say, this poet lies,

Such heavenly touches ne’er touch’d earthly faces.

So should my papers, yellow’d with their age,

Be scorn’d, like old men of less truth than tongue;

And your true rights be term’d a poet’s rage,

And stretched metre of an antique song:

But were some child of yours alive that time,

You should live twice;- in it, and in my rhyme. 

  -William Shakespeare

(Steven always teases me about my love of Shakespeare’s sonnets and their abundance of beautiful eyes 🙂  But I still love them- Hence, two of my children’s names:  William and Sonnet.)

Well, I will be back with more about love, marriage, romance, etc. soon.  Until then,

A Theme for 2012

I am a new year’s resolution maker- have been since I was a young teen.  I love the idea of a theme or focus for the year!  This year, my theme is “Remember!”  I have so many blessing for which I am thankful!  I must remember every one of them, and from whom they come!  I have a purpose, which I need to remember.  I need to remember who I am, the ideals for which I stand, and so much more.  My remembering assists me in retaining my focus, keeping a positive attitude and my faith, performing challenging tasks, and fighting off boredom in mundane and routine situations.  My remembrance of the important, sometimes simple and precious, sometimes complex and intricate aspects of my life holds a critical place in my experiencing joy, appreciation, and gratitude.  So, this year, I will focus on remembering, speaking, witnessing, studying, searching scriptures, and living in a way that promotes and manifests my remembrance.  I will teach my children to remember what they have learned and assist them each in building their perspective of  “the whys”- why they should learn, and why they should remember.

My younger children, Simon, Grace, Abigail, Sonnet, and I are working our way through C.S.LewisChronicles of Narnia.  (Side note:I love the Chronicles of Narnia!  I am a firm believer in reading the entire series and I think that those who read or watch the movies of only the three most popular books are really missing out!  The movies are wonderful, yet the series is wonderful when read in its proper order, and full of wonderful imagery and Christian symbolism -for those who are ready- and an awesome adventure for those who just want a good read.  Digital versions of the series are inexpensive, and one printing was a paperback 7-in-1 deal,  yet I love the illustrations in my paperback copies, which were the 50th Anniversary printing with Illustrations by Pauline Baynes, from 1955, which we’ve read over and over during the past 13 years.  If you’re experiencing on your own or want to listen during a commute, the books on disk are available in a set (more expensive, yet fun in its own way), each book touting a wonderful artist/actor (such as Kenneth Branagh or Jeremy North as its reader.)

Today, we began The Silver Chair, which is the sixth installment in the series.  The children in the story, Eustace Scrubbs and Jill Pole, learn some key signs, which they must remember, recognize, and to which they must respond to fulfill their “mission.”  I found a quiet, yet powerful teaching moment within our literature lesson, which I will remember and reference this year as we study, grow, and progress.

I am so excited for this new year, for my children’s potential and my own.  About what areas of your life are you particularly excited or passionate this year?

Light of the World Christmas Theme, continued

Hello again!

And, now, back to the Christmas preparations!  A few months ago, I searched for a new recipe for play clay because I do not like the consistency and feel of the type with a high salt content.  I found a cool site offering several recipes and how-to tips for cold porcelain, a no-bake clay that feels smooth and silky, which artists sculpt into amazing creations.  (I am not artistically inclined in that way, so I’ll use the recipe, but do not expect a masterpiece like some I saw on the site or its links.)  Some of the projects were beautifully detailed!  Here is the link to the recipe I used: http://coldporcelaintutorials.blogspot.com/2010/08/recipes-to-make-your-own-cold-porcelain.html#more.

I used the cold porcelain as a roll-out clay for my christmas star ornaments, which I covered in silver leafing.

This is one of my cold porcelain stars with Silver leaf- I used a few sizes of cookie cutters for the various ornaments and embellishments (each with its own coordinating ribbon) but the recipe was the same for all of them.

The next project was some woven stars made from old book pages.  I do not usually defile books.  Books are my great friends.  However, I had an old favorite, which was not is great condition, and I had another copy…so, I gave it a new life.  One old paperback made several stars, and a centerpiece for this year’s mantle (which is still a work in progress).

Made from old book pages, a little glue, glitter, crepe paper, and a cold porcelain silver star. The pattern link(along with the others I've used) is on my Pinterest board for this year's Christmas theme.

Here is another variation I made on a pattern I found on Pinterest

This one is the first I made. A little simpler. I like it, yet I think the others have a little more visual "pop."

I made about a dozen of these altogether,  tried a few variations and added a little red to some to match my tree topper star.  No two are exactly alike.  They went together fairly quickly, just  simple cuts, some folding, a glue stick, and some hot glue for assembly and glitter.

Boy, the lighting makes my walls look yellow! They are actually beige. Oh well....This is a close up of the star centerpiece for this year's mantle. I used a design idea I found on Pinterest (the link is on my Christmas theme board), yet mine is a little different than the original, which was wonderful, too!

       Next, I had to make some mercury glass ornaments!  I have seen so many this year.  (Pottery Barn has beautiful etched ones, but at $8.50 or so a piece, I cannot say yes to that.  I found a few sites suggesting various methods and I tried combinations from a couple, including silver leafing/ silver paint, acid paint washes, and looking glass paint.  I experimented on a couple of inexpensive vases I had in my cupboard, but the method I liked best was Krylon’s Looking Glass Paint alone.  I found a bottle (it is a spray paint) at Walmart for a little less than $8.50 and I purchased two dozen clear glass ornaments at Hobby Lobby while it was having a sale.  I spent about $14 total, and made 24 ornaments-enough for my tree and mantle – with quite a bit of paint left for another project.

"For God so loved the world!" This phrase from John 3:16 is the essence of Christmas joy, isn't it? These took a little longer because they required five very light coatings, which need drying time in between. Pop off the glass ornament's top, spray a tiny bit of the looking glass paint directly into it, swirl it around and set it back in its plasting case to dry for a while. Repeat four times, or until sufficiently coated for mirror/mercury glass look. I tried one technique that suggested spritzing the inside with water first, which creates a more mottled texture in places; however, I found I got that anyway because the paint sticks unevenly in each coat of paint. I topped these with the silver star (hot glued so the ornament will not come loose from the top), added a ribbon, and a glittery tag that ties into my theme.

Here’s one from the tree. Each had a different scripture reference regarding Christ or light.
       The mantle (still a work-in-progress) is different from what I’ve done in past years.  I usually have a lit Christmas village there and a garland of greenery.  This year, I wanted the star as the focus, so I have the village ona side table where the children can gaze at it with more ease.  With my youngest being five now, I do not have the worry of tiny ones trying to touch all the time, as I have for the past 18 years.

It's still a little plain, but that's what "in progress is all about"

       Because the lighting in my north-facing living room is a little weird, I had difficulty taking a picture of the whole tree- there was just too much glare.  Here are a couple of partial shots to give an idea of the after shot:

Here's the topper from my last post.

and a shot from the middle of the tree (sorry for the glare).

On the wall opposite the tree and front window, my quilt rack sports a mini quilt I made about a decade ago, which just happens to blend with the stars, cream, black, silver, and red. Cool!

    My project list is still pretty long.  I may need to save some of it for after the new year and put them away for next Christmas.  Either way, considering my late start this season, these were good ways to keep my hands busy while I listened to Christmas movies or carols as I wound down from long days or late study nights.  Not too bad.
     Wishing you warm, cozy surroundings and a very merry Christmas!
Until next time,
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