Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Freebie! 15 page preschool Christmas Fun Pages from Mama's Learning Corner!

I am printing these off as we speak!  Great entertainment for the little ones so we can get some crafting for Christmas done!  Sure beats TV!
Christmas Fun Pages: 15-page worksheet set from Mama's Learning Corner
She has lots of great freebies so be sure to check them all out!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Felt Christmas Tree Advent Calendar & Kids Felt Play Tree in one!

I wanted to share this quick easy tutorial for a handmade felt Christmas tree advent calendar. It is similar to one I saw at Pottery Barn. No sewing machine needed.  I attached the simple pockets on the front with hand stitching while watching TV.  You can of course pull out the machine if you feel so inclined.  
 On the back side I made a play felt tree for the kids to decorate over and over.  I even had them cut out the shapes of the felt ornaments themselves using cookie cutters and chalk to trace.  You can of course do it yourself and make them much more elaborate.
I first saw this idea here at I can Teach My Child

You will need some green felt for the tree, and other colors for the decorations on the back, needle and thread, chalk, ruler, scissors, felt decorative stickers, and a sharpie.  I like to use a rotary cutter and cutting mat with ruler but you don't have to by any means.

The first step is to measure out your tree size.  Cut out a square that size and fold it in half. Now take your chalk and draw the outline of half a tree since your fabric is folded in half.  Cut along that line.  You should have something like the photo below.

Now  use your ruler to mark out your squares using chalk.  I marked in each square how many pockets fit on each row.
Once you measure those out, you can fold your fabric accordingly and cut the advent pockets with a rotary cutting tool and ruler.  If you don't have one you can just cut them out with scissors.
  Then simply attach the pockets to the tree with your needle and thread!
I then randomly added the felt stickers where ever I liked, and marked the date on each box with a sharpie.  You could use cool felt number stickers but I was in a hurry and couldn't find any locally.  I could not get the above photo to turn (though I turned it several times!) so sorry for it's sideways view.

 In each pocket I placed one of the tickets that will have the activity for that day. I simply write the activity on the back.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
 I found that printable for the free Christmas "tickets" HERE from Miss Cutie pie goes 80s.  These make really cute gift tags too!
There is a great list of activities here at Baltimore Mommies or you can type in winter bucket list into a google search for a whole array of options.
And that is it!  You can EASILY whip this out in a few hours. 
Have fun and let me know how it turns out! 


Friday, November 23, 2012

Gifts that bring JOY and OPPORTUNITY to the poor!

Gifts that bring joy and opportunity to the poor!

View on the Web | Forward to a Friend
Gift Catalog

Dear Kristy,
This Black Friday, instead of running around town to find this year’s “it” gift, take a moment and choose a present that will save a life.
Food For The Poor’s Christmas Gift Catalog makes gift giving easy, meaningful, and there are options to fit every budget.
Your loved ones will be delighted to know that a practical, desperately-needed gift has been given to the poor in their honor.
Your gift will commemorate the birth of our Lord by providing a hungry child with "daily bread" for an entire year.
A goat provides poor families with
Contaminated water causes disease and even death among young children. Your generosity will save lives.
Let your dollars do double duty!  Get your Christmas presents and feed the poor!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

How To Have a Peaceful, Budget Friendly Christmas Season.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving up at my parents with all the kid-lets, my uncle, and some friends.  We ate a beautiful feast.  Of course I forgot my camera, which is my common response to a lot going on!  We ate our typical feast (all the recipes listed earlier on "My All Favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner Recipes year after year (made with whole foods)."  YUMMY!

When we are being thankful it is such a reminder of God's grace in our lives. All the little and big things we are thankful for are gifts from God.  Made me think that next year I would love to add a time of praise and worship to our traditional celebration.  A time of showing God our thankfulness and enjoying His presence.

Came home by 5:30 after stopping to look at Christmas lights on the way home, got everyone into jammies and watched a fun family movie.  By 7:30 we were all exhausted (pregnancy and sleep are not going that great for me at the moment) and in bed!  I was of course just "laying down with Cruz" my 2 year old, but at nine I woke up to find a quiet house, husband in bed and feeling refreshed :).  I love a quiet house to sew, blog or craft in!
The end of Thanksgiving signifies for my family the start of the Christmas season as well.  I love the weekend after Thanksgiving as it is so fun to put up the tree, decorate and get in the Christmas Spirit.  I don't however get into the whole Black Friday craze, and was sorry to see that so many stores started black Friday tonight.  The consumerism can really rob from the time of thankfulness and time with family.

I LOVE Christmas.  Everything about it... The lights, the craftiness of making decorations, presents, and what not, the music, the spirit of generosity.  It is the perfect way to celebrate the gift of Jesus.  Being generous with others as God was so generous with the gift of his Son Jesus the hope of salvation. I always explain it to my kids like this.."We give gifts to others, because God gave Jesus to us."  It blesses Gods heart to see generosity, so that is our gift to God.  We also keep it simple at our house. Setting a budget at the begining of the season helps too.  We have 5 kids (if you count the one due Christmas day), and a small budget so we make a lot of gifts, swap names between the adults and include thrifted gifts as well that we have scoped out at the local thrift store, on craigslist, or at garage sales.  This year I found a pink DS in great shape for my daughter at a garage sale for $1!!!  I also found her a kids sewing machine (something I had been wanting to get her), and a few board games that looked new.  She is by far the easiest to get gifts for!

Christmas can be simple, budget friendly, and peaceful.  I try to focus on the traditions and season of giving more than just the presents.   I wasn't raised with Santa and we choose not to do it at all at our house. I didn't want to confuse the reason for the season with Santa as it can be overshadowing but we do read stories about Saint Nick and other Christmas tales that inspire generosity and love.  We have started a few holiday traditions like wrapping 24 Christmas books under the tree, some we own, tons are from the library, etc.. and then the kids take turns every night of December till Christmas unwrapping one and that is what we read before bedtime.  We try to incorporate giving to the hungry or needy where ever we can.  We might sponsor a child, give gifts from World Vision so the profits go to feed the hungry, or buy a sheep through World Vision for a family across the globe in need etc.. in someones name on our gift list who doesn't want anything.  We also have an advent calender (tutorial coming soon) that we fill with activity ideas like making cookies, seeing the lights, giving a gift in secret to a friend, etc...  Christmas morning we will eat a big fun breakfast and read the Christmas story, and we always have our big meal Christmas Eve so mom's don't have to cook Christmas day!  Then we can snack on all the leftovers all day on Christmas.  I also have the kids find or make each other presents so they get to participate in the giving side of things.  They love it!

These fun things keep the focus on togetherness, generosity and love the real reason of the Season.  If I don't get it all crafted I am not too worried.  I am not looking to focus on getting everyone the perfect gift (although I would love it if they were thrilled!), but on really enjoying each other and God's goodness the whole season through.  I do not want consumerism, long lists of "I want", in fact we don't let the kids make lists or get them into the habit of thinking they need to tell us exactly what they want for this very reason.  It should all be a pleasant surprise not a demand or expectation.  They know that thrifted presents are part of it and in fact they look forward to finding things for their brothers and sisters at the thrift store too!  It just sets them up to appreciate whatever comes their way and allows us to get them something they would really like even though it is not in a new wrapper.
Here are some of the fun DIY ideas I am using for my kids this year!

 I am making her and my younger daughter these owl  pillows from Button Bird Designs but in fun fabrics (in fact I started those a while ago and am almost done).
Cape Tutorial
These amazingly cute wool cape's for the girls are next on the sewing list!  The pattern is made like a simple circle skirt so as cute as they are they shouldn't take long.  I LOVE them and once I get the hang of how to make them I plan on making one for myself!
I think with all the things I have to sew for her, and all the gifts I have found over time that I need to be done for her.  They get gifts from grandmas, and grandpas, and aunts so we try not to go overboard. I do not want to set the expectation at this stage in life that Christmas is an over top budget blower.  My youngest is really starting to get into imaginative play so I am making her a DIY doctor kit.  I have found some really fun ideas for it and have so many of the supplies on hand around the house.  She will love it!  I will post a tutorial on that once it is done.
fort kits | diy hang tags | saltwater-kids
My oldest son who is 8 will be getting a really cool fort kid that I found a tutorial for here at Saltwater-kids. I can't wait to get started on this!  He will love it!  What a great birthday presents for his friends as well.  I am sure I will have to sew a few more up in the near future!  Just so you know I really don't get to sew that often.  We homeschool and being pregnant, having a 2 yr old, 3 yr old, 5 yr old and 8 yr old they keep me busy getting water, doing school, cleaning, cooking etc... So most of the projects I picked for this year are really simple ones!
Like this cape for my youngest son.  I followed the cutting tutorial to get the right shape from the picture above at Moms Rising, but used black knit so there was no sewing involved with that part.  I did however create the CUTEST felt logo with a lightning bolt and his initial out of felt that I sewed on the back!  I love it! I added some cuffs from this tutorial at The Train To Crazy, and made two cute super hero masks with lightning bolts that I will have to show you when I make my DIY super hero outfit tutorial.  I hope he loves it.  It is too cute and we can't let the girls have all the fun with their princess dress ups!
How To Sew Sock Monkey ~ tutorial and pattern
I plan to make these sock monkeys for Cruz my youngest and our newest baby boy for when he is born.  They are so cute!! Not sure how hard they are.  We will see.  I have lots of stuff to make all the kids on my list but this last one for Cruz is so cute I had to share in case you have a little "cowboy" on your list as well!
lightbluegrey: Let's diy!
I adore these stick horse, hobby horse or whatever you want to call them!  The tutorial is Here at Light Blue Grey.  So like I said I have way more ideas of what I want to make for all kinds of people on my list and if you want to see the tutorials and gift ideas I am pinning at pinterest be sure to Follow Me on Pinterest and check out my Christmas gift ideas board and my Christmas and fall holidays board.  There are tons of fun ideas that I plan on adding to as well. I figure if I don't make it all this Christmas there are plenty of holidays that I will be looking for gift ideas for!  I also posted some money saving ideas on these older posts Here and Here.

Anyway, I got a little sidetracked showing you all the fun DIY ideas out there for presents but my point was that Christmas is about God's Love and should remain the focus of the season!  I may not get all my ideas crafted, or get around to Christmas cards (so please don't be offended if you don't get one), or get my house perfectly decked out, or get around to throwing that great holiday party, but that is ok.  I don't want anything to take the place of focusing on God's great gift and opportunities to be generous and be a blessing. I really want to take the time to enjoy my family which is His second greatest gift to me.  If any to-do item is robbing me of my joy and stressing me out than it isn't that important!   What do you do to keep the spirit in the season and avoid the craziness that can rob your joy during the holidays?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Show Your Gratitude This Season SPONSOR A CHILD Who Needs You!

"He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord and he will be rewarded for what he has done!"
Proverbs 17:19

In this season of gratitude as we approach Thanksgiving lets show it!  Lets thank God for all he has provided by sharing!  These children need people like you and me.  Before the great spending sprees start for Christmas shopping spend where it matters first.

Sponsor a  Child with Children's Hope Chest and help a child in Ethiopia!
You will never regret a decision to put others first and care for the poor in a real and meaningful way!

Click HERE to put your gratitude to work and make a difference today!  We sponsor a child through this charity and fully trust it.