Homemade gifts Feed

From the Heart of your Home ...

... come the loveliest of gifts, those that have been made with your very own hands ~ or perhaps the helpful little hands all around you. :)

Handmade gifts might come from the kitchen, the garden or the craft Loveliness_logo_3basket ... but whatever their source, they always come from the heart and they are always lovely ...

And so it is with great pleasure I announce that The Loveliness of Handmade Gifts will be right here next week on Thursday, November 8th! And I am cordially inviting everyone to join me!

Please share your thoughts and plans for making homemade gifts this year - or tell us about gifts you've made in years past. Bloggers and non-bloggers alike are welcome to participate (see below for my contact information).

Here are some ideas to jump-start your thoughts ...

~ What are your favorite homemade gifts to give and receive?

~ Do you plan to make some gifts this year?

~ Are you perhaps longing to do so but can't find the time? (A post about not making gifts is fine too!)

~ Do you have a signature gift for which you are "famous" within certain circles?

~ How about your thoughts on how handmade gifts can save a family money?

~ Or perhaps what great lessons they teach children who give and receive them - patience and creativity?

~ Do you set up a "Santa's Workshop" for yourself? What supplies do you lay in for gift making?

~ What are your favorite gift making resources - where do you get your ideas? (Some of my favorites will appear soon on the sidebar at right.)

~ How about handmade cards and gift-wrapping?

~ What about gifts of time, love and energy?

(And for more ideas, please see last year's Handmade Gifts Fair!)

Any ideas about homemade gifts are welcome and I would love to hear from you! If you are a blogger, please send me a link to your post or leave me a link in the comments box below. And if you're not a blogger, you are also more than welcome to join in the fun! Just send me an email with your ideas about handmade gifts (and a picture if you'd like) and I will plug you right into the Fair!

Please send all submissions for the Loveliness of Handmade Gifts to drhanigan AT comcast DOT net. I would like to have everything by next Wednesday night so I can get the post up bright and early Thursday morning!

And please feel free to help me spread the word! Grab the Loveliness button above, and invite your readers to join us!

So let's get our creative engines going, ladies ~ Christmas is just seven weeks away! November is here and it's the weekend! Let's get those thinking caps on ... and get out those needles and that glue and those cookie cutters and that rolling pin ... ;)

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to hear from you soon! :)

Crafters Night!

I have no time to blog tonight, because I am on my way out to my very first Knitting Circle! Actually, luckily for me, all kinds of handcrafters are invited, not just knitters. Sure I've knitted before, but I'm sort of a random crafter - I dabble and dream more than I actually finish things. ;)

So, I have my bag all packed ...


.. with autumn-hued yarn, felt, embroidery thread and oatmeal-colored linen. Hopefully I'll feel inspired to start something!

But just in case I draw a blank, I am also packing a bunch of craft magazines and idea books, as well as my two most recent journals, in which I have taped loads of clippings and pictures from all kinds of places. I would like to at least maybe write out a handmade gifts list for Christmas. (Oh, and speaking of handmade gifts, ahem, the Loveliness Fair on this very subject will be right here on November 5th! Stay tuned for more details soon!)

Well, so much for no time to blog, lol. You know I can always eke out a paragraph or two, even on my way out the door.

Have a great night, everyone. I'm off to craft!


A Quick & Crafty Apple Tote

Apple picking is such a treasured American tradition; I look forward to it every autumn! Have you been yet this year? We're planning to go next week on Johnny Appleseed Day, and so over the next several days we'll have apple stories to tell, books to read, crafts to make, experiments to try and snacks to eat ... But first, we'll make tote bags to bring to the farm!

This is a fun, kid-friendly project, requiring some quick and easy parent set up. I did a trial run today, and took pictures of each step. Here's what you need:


      • a plain canvas bag
      • red fabric paint
      • a new sponge
      • a laundry detergent cap (clean and dry)
      • hot glue gun
      • sharp scissors
      • a black marker
      • paper towels


Now, there are plenty of apple-shaped stamps and stencils available at the store, and of course you could always just use an apple half itself! But in the September issue of Parents magazine, I saw a neat idea for making a homemade stamp by attaching a sponge to a laundry detergent cap. Well, I just happened to have an empty detergent container sitting in our recycle bin and a new package of sponges beneath the sink. :)

The first thing I did was to draw an apple on the sponge. Not having any apples on hand for an impromptu still life, I looked up stencils online. I found this one which turned out a bit bigger than I needed, so I eyeballed it:


I used very sharp scissors to cut out the shape, trimming any rough edges.


Next I attached the sponge shape to the top of the detergent cap, using my trusty glue gun (marker side down).


After a few minutes the stamp was ready to go, so I poured myself a good size dab of apple-red fabric paint ...


I dipped in my stamp, making sure to coat all the nooks and crannies, and ...voila:


Sorry that's a bit blurry; it was taken at the very moment Earlybird discovered what I was up to! (Remember this was supposed to be a trial run, lol!) I did find I needed to blot the stamped images gently with paper towels to remove excess paint. Then I set the bag aside to dry.

Of course, then EB got into the act:


And here are the two bags I (or we, as it turned out, lol) made today. We'll make a few more before our apple farm visit next week.


These are smaller bags, just the right size for small hands - whether they get filled to the brim with rosy red globes, or tote home just one or two. :)

I also think these bags would make lovely gifts for someone special - perhaps an elderly relative or neighbor who can't get to the farm on their own. Fill them up to the top, and attach a pretty fall ribbon, bring along a jug of cider and plan an autumn afternoon visit.

Well, I'm off now for the night. Tomorrow's a busy one, so I'll catch up with you all again soon!

May Day in the Afternoon ...

There's just something about May Day - it can be hard to get your head in the game when your day starts with baskets of flowers and damp bunches of clover shaken all over your face. ;)Yes, the tradition continues, and honestly, I think my skin feels a bit softer!

Today was so beautiful, too. Spring perfection - sunny, soft breeze, 70 degrees. Every shrub and tree that can flower is doing just that it seems.

But ... we did manage to get a little math done before lunchtime, and we shared cookies with Uncle Matt who stopped by. Then it was on to the preparations for Crackerjack's CCD class. It was his final class today, though not a regular class, but a group rehearsal for First Holy Communion. Talk about chaos! But that's another post. For now, I'd like to show you the tiny May posies we made for CJ's teachers.

We had been poking through our craft bins and came across our healthy stash of paper towel and toilet paper tubes.

"What can I do with these things?" I asked myself. A few lightbulb moments later, I had pulled out the materials and we set to work.


We painted the tubes in soft colors, and made a copy of several holy cards (mostly Marian, one St. Agnes and one St. Joseph). We pasted the image onto a small golden doiley - you know how I love doilies! - and taped it all onto the tube (once the paint dried). I then stuck a small circle of self-adhesive felt to the bottom to make a base. Hole-punched sides were threaded with thin ribbon and then the tubes were ready to fill! Which we did, with bunches of forsythia from the garden. I'm glad forsythia is so scrappy and easy to grow - it brings such happy, exuberant color to the spring landscape. Save for the dandelions, it's the only thing blooming in my yard right now.

In the picture below you can see how the posies turned out; they are standing up next to gift bags for the teachers. (Here's a little tip - right now all the card stores are carrying a wide array of religious gift supplies for spring sacraments; these are great to stock up on and have on hand for any gifts you might need for your pastor or religious friends.)

In addition to CJ's three teachers and Sister M., the head of the religious education department, we also prepared a posy for our pastor. His was painted green and had St. Joseph for an image (whose optional memorial was today, btw). (As it turned out we didn't get to see Father, so we'll save his for Sunday after Mass.)


Once the bags and posies were filled and ready to go, we turned to CJ's banner. It needed a few more touches and lots of glue to hold everything in place. Here's how it came out:


CJ chose the colors and images; I cut and glued. He loves doves (and asked for two, not just one), and, of course, the color red. He also chose the Chi-Rho symbol after paging through a coloring book we own. He was very happy with how it came out and so was I! By the way, we used self-adhesive letters, and I used Fabri-Tac to adhere the felt shapes - it worked beautifully. We had to drop it off at the parish office where it will be kept until his First Communion Day. We'll keep our fingers crossed everything stores well (i.e. not too many sequins fall off, lol). The banners will hang from each child's pew on their special day.

Well, we're still putting the finishing touches on our May altar - I will post some pictures tomorrow. Oh, and in our rush today, we forgot to have blueberry pancakes - a must for any Marian feast! But since the whole entire month belongs to our Blessed Mother, we'll have plenty of time to partake. :)

Have a lovely night, my friends. See you in the morning ... 

Little Gifts, Big Fun

Crackerjack and I would like to show you the little gifts we made for his CCD teachers yesterday. Here are the materials to make the God's Eyes (a project I posted about a while back) and the decorative gift boxes. (Note the helpful little hand - that would be Earlybirds' - reaching for the glue stick.)


We used multicolored yarn to make the God's Eyes, and then set about decorating the gift boxes. These plain little boxes are available at the craft store in various sizes and colors.

In fact, while we're on the subject of the craft boxes, there is also a long thin rectangular box available that would make a perfect size for a rosary or chaplet. I love the ones at Gardens of Grace and Beads of Mercy, especially. Just by the way. Honey, are you reading this? :)


What we did was cut out a small construction paper star (red being Crackerjack's signature color) and glue-stick it onto the top of the lid. (This one is a demo; on the "real" ones, CJ wrote his name and message before we glued the star down.) Next we used a small paintbrush to apply Tacky Glue all around the edges, working one side at a time.

(A brief aside - can anyone recommend a good craft glue that dries clear?)


Then came the necessarily copious amounts of glitter all around the star. I don't have a picture of the next step which was to glue a thin golden ribbon around the edge of the lid.


And here you see the God's Eye nestled inside the box, a bit of green tissue as a cushion - and the lid ready to pop on once dry. (That would be my cat's ear on the right in case you were wondering. Yes, there are always lots of helping hands and paws when crafting commences around here.)


We just had to post this picture - the boys thought it was very neat that the glittered boxes caught the light in this way on the side of the craft bin. Earlybird thought it was a "gaksee" (or a galaxy)!


Here are the four finished boxes - notice we tucked a couple of delicious candies underneath!


You knew I was going to finagle a basket in here somehow. :) It was easy to carry the very glittery boxes in this basket and hand them out when we reached class.

And speaking of class - what a fun time! We had a Christmas party with a Bible story video, delicious goodies and crafts. Today's project was decorating foam crosses with stickers and glitter glue. Below you see the two CJ made. The teacher was very kind to send home two extra kits for my other boys to work on today.


One CCD party down, one to go! Bookworm's class meets tonight! :)

Two More Poinsettia Crafts

Thanks to Elizabeth's wonderfully clear instructions, I was able to make a poinsettia fairy yesterday in under 30 minutes! (Time is not usually of the essence when I'm crafting, unless I'm trying to do it in such a way that my 5 yo doesn't notice the hot glue gun.)


I really like the way she looks on our tree! This was an easy, but very satisfying craft - and oh, how I love to work with felt, even little bits of it. I think I could make loads of these fairies, maybe in various varieties. Hmmm... where are those Flower Fairy books, anyway ...? :)

Next I set about making a sand dollar ornament, but as I went to follow the instructions at this site, I felt compelled to do something a bit different. (I'm a rebel, I know!) I liked the way the imprint looked on the front, curved side of the sand dollar rather than the one the back. So instead of painting a poinsettia on the back, I "glittered" a poinsettia to the front. I simply used a small brush and some Tacky glue to brush the glue onto the petal-like imprints. Then I liberally sprinkled red glitter all over the glue - tamping it down a bit, letting it set, and then shaking off the excess. (I used a small brush to get rid of stray bits.) I glittered the center with gold as a final touch and then tied the ornament to the tree.


Upon further reflection, I think it looks more like a red daisy than a poinsettia, lol! Next time I woud make the "petals" more jagged to more accurately represent the shape of the poinsettia leaves.

Still, it sparkles nicely in the lights - and it was a fun way to use up some of my glitter stash! :)

Happy Birthday Earlybird (and Papa)!!

Just before Daddy left for work this morning, we celebrated our sweet Earlybird's birthday! There will be more celebrating to come  - friends tomorrow and family on Saturday - but we wanted to kick off his special day in a fun way!

Here he is receving his "crafty" gifts. (Note the green marker on his forehead and crayon clenched in his fingers. He'd already been crafting all morning!)


Oh my, look at that big glittery 5!


Ooh, and even better - new crayons and markers! And colorful containers to store them in ... somebody get this boy some construction paper!


Forgetting all about breakfast, EB set right to work ...


The red circle is Jupiter with its raging surface storms, just so you know. :)

Now, how did this happen? How on earth did my baby boy get to be FIVE?

My Christmas baby celebrates five wonderful years today! I say Christmas, because he was due on the 21st, but came one week early. In fact, he was born on my dad's birthday, just as my dad, possibly (probably) the smartest man on the planet, said he would. :)

When I told my dad my original due date, he just shook his head and smiled. "He'll be born on my birthday," was all he said. And he stuck by his story all nine months long. And wouldn't you know, come December 14th, 2001, I was indeed starting labor at 4:30 a.m.? (Even back then Earlybird was early!) A few hours later, and he was here, sharing his dear Papa's birthday.

My dad jokes that he was "done with his birthday anyway," and that from now on it belongs solely to his youngest grandson ... but Dad, you know we're having none of that! The fact that you share your birthday with Earlybird only makes that day more joyous for our family. And if Earlybird grows up to be anything like his dear Papa, he'll be the luckiest boy on the planet.

Now, dear readers, here are a few things you should know about EB:

~ He is a love, an absolute love, and will hug you the moment you walk in the door.

~ He is bright, happy and brings a lot of joy (and noise) to our family!

~ He works very, very hard to overcome his challenges. His speech is delayed and he has some physical issues - all which have improved greatly in the past year through much therapy and lots of work (and love) at home.

~ He loves, as you know, the planets and stars. His favorite show is Nova, followed closely by almost anything on the Science Channel. He also loves trains, doing arts and crafts (the messier the better), and playing with his brothers.

~ The boy loves to eat. He probably eats more than his two older brothers combined! Despite the fact we keep him on a special diet, he doesn't let that slow him down. His growth is wonderful and his doctor calls him a little quarterback!

~ Finally, Earlybird is so named because he sleeps no later than 5:00 on any given morning! (Did you know the sunrise is absolutely beautiful these days?)

In five lightening fast years this boy has taught me more about being a mother than I ever thought possible. I have grown in so many ways - truly his life and his place in this family is a blessing to us all. I thank God every single day for Earlybird, as I do for each one of my boys.

Before I go, here are a few pictures showing his gifts up close. I worked on these projects one day while EB was napping.


As I painted, I could not help but feel a little like one of Santa's elves, busily making toys in the workshop!


Getting there ...


Done! A star-shaped crayon holder (holding brand spankin' new crayons), a wooden art tote (holding lots of markers) and a wooden star peg for EB's room. He can hang his bookpack and jacket from this hook.

Happy Birthday Earlybird! Happy Birthday Papa! I am so blessed to have you both in my life!

The Feast of The Immaculate Conception

Isn't this like a little breath of springtime in the middle of winter? A soft breeze of May right here in December?


For today's feast, honoring Our Blessed Mother's Immaculate Conception, we baked some sugar cookies - though I held myself back from sprinkles and icing and kept them perfectly plain. But alas, there was no tea! I ran out of milk this afternoon and tea's just not tea without plenty of milk (and sugar).

Above you see our small feast day tableau - the cookies, a book about Mary's life (by who else but Tomie), our Mary statue (on loan from Earlybird's room), and a candle we decorated just for today.

This was not the candle craft I originally envisioned, but time was pressing, so here is what we came up with. (Next year I hope to make (or buy) one like Jen's or as Ruth describes.) I happened to have a plain white pillar candle on hand - I wrapped it with a wide sheer pink ribbon, then slipped a Miraculous Medal onto a thinner blue ribboon and placed it on top of the pink. I tacked the ribbons into place with double-sided tape. (I know, there I go with the tape again! I really have to get my glue gun working.) Gold star stickers sprinkled above and below added a final touch. The effect was very nice actually, and the shades were so light and lovely - it had me thinking of the merry (Marian) month of May.

Feeling all crafty, I next made up a quick bookmark for my new book (which I am loving, by the way).  Here is what I did. I started with a plain white bookmark (available in bulk at the craft store) and pasted on a photocopy of the Immaculate Conception (from a holy card). Then I added 12 golden stars stickers and a pale pink tassel. Done! This craft was a snap to complete and could be done in any number of styles. (This would make a nice gift at Christmas - a decorated bookmark to go with a new book.)


Lest you think I had all the fun, I did have the boys wielding crayons and glue before the day was over! I saw similar projects to this one in A Year with God and Art 1 for Young Catholics but the one we used was from the Mary, Mother of God coloring book.

Here you see Crackerjack's and Bookworm's (left and right, respectively) cardstock Miraculous Medals. We read and talked about them, and looked at the one I have, noticing all the details. They colored the front and back images as they wished (I love how they love color) and then we glued thin yellow ribbon inside the two halves to allow them to wear the "medals" around their necks.


Here they are all finished, below. These are not really for wearing of course, but will look nice on their bedroom wall for a time.


Now this last craft was a spur of the moment thing. We were poking around in my craft bin and found a wooden letter M. M is for Mary of course, and "Hey, how about this cross," Bookworm wondered aloud, holding up a wooden cross image. Together they made the very symbol on the back of the Miraculous Medal!

So a little paint, a little glue ...


and a lot of glitter (we're really into glitter these days) ...



And we had a sparkly Marian ornament for our Christmas tree! It will help us remember this fun day, our beautiful faith ~ and it catches the lights very nicely. :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 

Easy, Sparkly & Fun!

Perfect ingredients for a Christmas tree ornament! This is a simple, satisfying project to work on together these dark and cozy afternoons.

This neat idea was shared with me by my dear little friend Abby (8), whose mother Lisa is one of my best friends. Abby is a crafter like me, and after making these ornaments with her church group recently, she made sure to tell me all about them. In fact, she showed me how to make them last week! I couldn't wait to tell you all here. :)

This craft requires some patience, but is nice methodical handwork. It would be easy to keep the materials in a small basket (or in my case, a tupperware container) and keep them handy for those quiet afternoons leading up to Christmas. A perfect craft to work on while listening to read alouds or maybe while watching a holiday movie.

So, on with the craft! Materials you need: styrofoam balls (the smaller the ball, the quicker the craft), sequins, sequin pins, thin ribbon and a pair of scissors.


It's as easy as this: place a sequin on the ball, and secure it into place with a sequin pin. Repeat until the ball is completely covered, then pin a small loop of ribbon at the top.


Once I started working on mine, the older two boys immediately started in on their own. We found it easy to work with a tupperware lid as our craft tray.

This was our first try and we kept it pretty straightforward, but you could use various colors and patterns to snazz up the design, even layering two sizes of sequins for texture. You might spell out a loved one's name - writing it in marker first, then using one solid color to outline the name before filling in the rest of the space as described above. (How about a set of these bearing the kids' names? A lovely gift for the grandparents at Christmas.)


And here is the final result:


From left to right we have Bookworm's, Crackerjack's and mine.


This craft took a little under an hour to complete. Crackerjack (7) didn't have a lot of patience for this (hence the smiley face instead of a fully covered ball), but Bookworm (11) really enjoyed it. (Bookworm, by the way, is eager to learn knitting this winter. Calling all knitters for help!) As I mentioned before, you could keep the children's work-in-progress in a small container and pick up where you left off as time allows. These sparkly little balls would look beautiful on any tree, but perhaps most lovely on the children's own Blessings Tree.

Many thanks to my sweet friend, Abby, for showing me this wonderful craft! And for a few more ornament craft ideas, please see my recent post at O Night Divine and today's post at Higher Up and Further In. (LOVE that felt gingerbread man!)

Happy Christmas Blessings to you!

Our Advent Log

Our Advent Log "took root" this past summer, when Bill found a fallen birch tree in the woods out back. Birch is such a lovely wood, he knew it should not go to waste, so he chopped a few lengths, and stacked the logs next to our potting shed.

We imagined a few different gift and toy crafts, but as the months passed we gave the wood little more thought. And there the logs stood these many months, just waiting for some inspiration to strike ... and thanks to Rebecca and Alice, it did!


This year we decided to place our Advent candles in a birch log rather than a wreath. (We have a very pretty wreath, but for some reason it never holds the candles steady, causing what this timid mother believes to be a certain fire hazard!) So this Advent season, the log it will be!

The morning after Thanksgiving we set to work. Bill and the boys set up the saw on the deck, and brought up the logs.


While I kept a close eye on the boys (in other words, at a safe distance), Bill trimmed a log portion to a size that would fit our fireplace mantel:


Next, he drilled four holes (and thanks to Alice's advice, we remembered to use the candles as a guide).


And that was it! We brought the log inside to the mantel. We placed our candles in the holes, and Bill brought in some juniper greens and holly cuttings for a little festive and natural decoration.

And now our Advent Log is ready to serve us these next four Sunday evenings, as we celebrate this special season at home!


For another variation on the traditional Advent wreath, (a smaller-sized candle set for the children), please see my post at O Night Divine.

Have a good night and God bless!

Thank You So Much!

So many of you dear readers sent in posts and linked to my Fair yesterday and left such kind comments and gave me so much support, I hardly know where to begin to thank you all ... well, I'm going to begin right here and simply say THANK YOU!!!

My little blog's head is spinning from all the traffic, LOL! (But in a very good, very fun way.) :)

If anyone still has entries let me know, I would be glad to update the post ... I realized last night as I re-read the Fair that I never even entered a gift of my own! Well, I'm working on that, but as soon as I get a Christmas craft done, I'm going to post it right over at O Night Divine!

For the time being though, I'm turning my attention back to the season at hand - this glad and joyful time of Thanksgiving. Today I'm going to read in Mrs. Sharp's Traditions, make up some marketing lists, housekeeping notes, and think up something for KC's Loveliness of Thankgiving Fair next week. (Oh yes, and there's math, science and laundry, too.) All of this over a good hot cup of tea, of course. :)

I thought I'd share the pretty card I have pinned up on my desk. The quiet woodsy little image has me thinking late autumn thoughts, which of course lead me to think of Field Day ... which is not too far away itself ... more on that soon!


Inside the card reads: Wishing you a peaceful Thanksgiving ... and I do!

The Loveliness of Homemade Gifts

~ A gift from the heart is a treasure from the start. ~

I am so pleased to be hosting this week's Loveliness Fair! As you've probably come to Loveliness_logo_4 guess, I am a big crafter at heart - if not always in practice. Which means my closets are full of all kinds of crafty supplies, but that does not always mean the crafts come to be! Making gifts by hand means more than just having seven kinds of glue and every shade of paint at my fingertips - it means first making the time to make the crafts. This is where things can get tricky.

I grew up spending the holiday season helping my mum prepare for Christmas. I fondly remember days spent around our dining room table helping to decorate candles with bits of printed napkins and adorning homemade ornaments with sequins and ribbons. I remember the packages of penuche fudge she'd make up every year for my teachers. I remember how proud I was to hand out those gifts. I would like to emulate my mum - not just for the gifts she made, but for the memories she made for my brother and me. I would like my children to know how special it is to give of ourselves at Christmas - and all the year round!

The good news is, Christmas is still seven weeks from today! So there is hope! There is plenty of time to craft, cook or create some homemade gifts to give this year! Please take a look at what some of my blogging friends have to say about gifts they are making, and those they have given and received. Having read through all their posts, I am completely inspired and my gift list is now taking shape!

~ We begin with Margaret who sets the tone beautifully with a post full of honest and loving thoughts on gift giving.

~ Krisann's cheerful family quilt was a gift for her mother - a patchwork of love and an heirloom as well.

~ Katherine is felting a pair of clog slippers - a warm and wonderful gift for her dad. (Katherine, are you taking orders?) :)

~ Jennifer's making candles with her children. I love this idea - a simple yet satisfying craft. I can almost smell that sweetly scented beeswax.

~ Rachel's beautiful family has been blessed by her talent at making wonderful handknits - sweaters, hats, scarves. Simply lovely!

~ Leonie enjoys making handmade cards with her children - one of my favorite crafts too! She provides several very helpful links, as well.

~ Charlotte also enjoys cardmaking at the holidays and she has some yummy recipes to share. I for one would be thrilled to receive such a treat at the holidays!

~ Cheryl's children are preparing a special shirt of honor for their daddy this year - I love this idea and plan to "borrow" it myself. (Hope you're not reading this, honey!)

~ Mary is planning all kinds of special knitted gifts with her children. I love her quote:

"The time the kids spend to choose colors and yarns, to create something, is time spent LOVING the person getting the gift ... It's time spent on the person -- so much more priceless than buying a present."

So very well said, Mary.

~ Maria shares the sweetest pictures of her four darling children sporting colorful crocheted scarves that she made for them! What a merry bunch!

~ Speaking of scarves, Rebecca has also been busy knitting up some gorgeous handknits for her lucky family members. She also shares a fabulous decoupage idea as well as her son's colorful handmade rosaries and sacrifice beads.

~ Can there be a more treasured gift than one made by a child? Erin shares beautiful gifts made by her children through the years. I especially love those bookcases!

~ You are in for a visual feast of handmade gifts at Louise's A Time to Keep: Life on The Good Shepherd's Farm. (Oh, how I love that name!) Make sure you click on her thumbnails for descriptions of each gift.

~ Elena beautifully captures the joy of homemade gifts she's given over the years and reflects on two special gifts she's received. 

~ Kristina shares many tasty gift ideas! Her biscotti sounds scrumptious, and those homemade lollipops will delight children of all ages!

~ Perhaps the gifts we look for most hopefully at Christmas are those treasures made by our children's own hands, inspired by their beautiful imaginations. Alice shares her children's lovely artwork, part of a new Friday tradition at The Cottage.

~ Marjorie shares fond family memories and a terrific idea for a children's dress-up box ~ a gift that will keep on giving through many play days all year!

~ Angel reminds us of the true holiday spirit - opening our homes and our hearts to those around us. Her simple but lovely hospitality ideas are so inspiring!

~ Jenn has a fantastic idea for recycling those old, but beloved Christmas cards into exquisite ornaments! I love anything with all that glitter - so festive!

~ Tracy shares this delightful gift idea for homemade peppermint cocoa:

"This year, I'm going to make a gift in a jar of homemade hot chocolate mix with chopped up peppermint candy canes, making it homemade peppermint hot chocolate. I received this as a gift one year, and it was SO yummy!

I'll make up labels on the computer with a candy cane border that says "Peppermint Hot Cocoa," and the instructions. And I think I'm going to buy some candy cane type of material, if I can find it, to cut out squares, and tie with ribbon to the top of the jar. I've been saving my jars!"

Tracy, that sounds so good, I may have to make the first jar for myself! ;)

~ Kim has put together a lovely collection of simple and wonderful homemade gift ideas. I especially love that votive candle idea, Kim!

~ And while Michele awaits the greatest gift of all this Christmas season, she is reflecting on the why's and the why not's of homemade gifts. Michele, your holiday plans sound just perfect to me. :)

So are you inspired? Are you ready to head to the craft store, the grocer, the yarn shop, perhaps? Check out the many gift idea books available at your local library. And as Mary points out, there are many, many Christmas magazines out on the stands. I agree completely with Mary that the best issue by far is Martha Stewart's Holiday Issue; her theme this year is - how perfect - Handmade Gifts. (She must have heard about our Fair!) ;)

There are also many places online to get ideas. Two of my favorites are Mary Ellen's O Night Divine and Lindsey's Advent for Evangelicals.

I hope you have been inspired by the wonderful posts shared by my friends. Thank you to all who took part in my Fair, and thank you again to Elizabeth for thinking up the Fairs in the first place! Next on the list is the Loveliness of Thanksgiving to be hosted by KC at her happy Cabbage Patch.

And if you have an idea or a post for today's Fair, please drop me a comment below and I will gladly add you in!

~ As the season of Advent grows near, may your heart be filled with hope, your home with joy and your days with quiet peace. ~

Quick and Crafty Puppet Curtains

Do you know a little person (or 2 or 3 or 4) who enjoys puppet shows, storytelling or just plain old make-believe? Well, then have I got a craft for you! :)

As I've posted before, my boys really enjoy our nature puppet collection. (Notice I say, our puppet collection, LOL!) Well, we've been collecting various critters for years and have amassed quite an array! A few years back, my mum noticed how much Crackerjack, in particular, loved making up stories with his finger puppets, so for his birthday that year she made him several pairs of homemade puppet curtains! I helped pick out the material, relating to themes we usually pretended - snowy woods, starry night, magical kingdom, sunshiney days, etc. A simple tension rod was all we needed for the boys' bedroom door and voila - we had our own puppet theatre!

Recently we decided to add an autumn leaves theme to our collection. I picked up the fabric a few weeks ago and today I took advantage of my mum's visit and asked her to show me how to make the curtains. I am happy to report, it was very easy and it only took about 2 hours. (I can tell you that because we worked on them right after Earlybird went down for his nap, and we finished just before he woke up!) 

I have included many photos in this post - big surprise, right? :) I don't know about you, but I do much better with visuals. Let me confess right away, I am no seamstress at all. My mum - now, she can do anything - knit, sew, crochet, paint, etc.  Me, well, I can glue pretty well. :) I can also fold and iron - and basically that is all this craft requires - folding and ironing.

Now, as I sit down to write this post, most of the facts and figures have flown right out of my head so let me start by saying this craft is completely adaptable. There really are no "set" measurements - you can make your curtains in any size or shape that suits your fancy. I hope this post gives you an idea of one possible final product.

Our curtains are a set of panels, which fit on a tension rod that can be easily placed in a regular door frame. Spectators sit on one side (usually the bedroom side) while the performers sit (or lay) in the hall, and reach through between the panels with their puppets. It's really fun!

(Note: Another idea is to turn a small child's wooden table into a portable theatre. Simply attach velcro (dots or strips) around the edges. Cut material into two pieces to fit around the base of the table (leaving the back open). Then, the children can lay under the table and poke their puppets through the front, where the two pieces meet.)

But I digress - my aim is to show you the curtains we made today!

Start with a fabric to your liking. When choosing prints, consider themes your children like to play out - princess, knights, safari, etc. You might start with the puppets they own. And puppet shows can be performed by all kinds of toys, believe me - Bionicles, dinosaurs, Toy Story characters. You name it, if it's a toy they love, it belongs on stage!

I was even thinking our saint spoons might make wonderful "puppet shows!" We could re-enact the stories of the saints we've come to know. I'm sure we could find some celestial-looking fabric. Ooh - and a dark desert night fabric would be a wonderful backdrop for a set of Nativity-themed spoons (the Holy Family, three wise men, angels, shepherds, etc.). Hmmm ... the wheels are turning ....

Good grief, enough of my chatting, on to the project!


You will want to buy your fabric (approximately 2 yards), a tension rod (we use 32"; check your door frame size) and a package of Stitch Witchery.

The snowflake print above is already a curtain, we used it as a template to cut our autumn leaves fabric to the right size. This picture also shows the snowflake curtain's bottom hem.


Above you see the first panel we worked on. (Instead of using an ironing board, which I, er, couldn't locate at the time - funny, that - we worked on the dining room table with a couple of towels laid out underneath.)

A note on the fabric- it should be pre-washed before you begin. Once it's cut into shape, press it lightly to smooth out any wrinkles. As I mentioned above, your curtains can be any size or shape. Our panels measured 44 inches long by 22 inches wide before hemming.


The above photo shows the right side hem on one of the panels (and the package of Stitch Witchery). We folded each side of the panel in about an inch. (You want enough material to cover the Stitch Witchery.) We pressed the fold first, and then ...


... tucked in a length of Stitch Witchery (which by the way is a fusible bonding web - and I LOVE it). Following the package directions we pressed the hem twice (front and back) for 10 seconds each turn. We had a little bit of trouble with this but realized it was probably because I forgot to wash the fabric first. (Such a rookie mistake.)


Above you see the first panel with side hems complete.


And here is the bottom hem finished. (Turned in about an inch and a half.) My mum had an excellent point - you could finish the bottom hem in different (and perhaps easier) ways - for instance, cutting the bottom with pinking shears or adding a lace trim.


The above photo shows the top hem (folded down about 2-3 inches). Remember this does not have to be exact - just as long as the two panels match in length. We actually made two folds. The first was about an inch; we pressed this (using no Stitch Witchery) to keep the inside edge neat. We then turned the hem down another length - allowing space for the tension rod to run through. This edge we adhered with the SW once again.


Working on the second panel, we first made the side and bottom hems. We then lined it up with the first panel to check for accurate length. In the above photo you see the unfinished second panel on the bottom; the completed first panel on top. We used the finished hem of the first to guide where we folded the hem for the second. (I know that probably sounds very confusing, sorry! It will make sense when you do it, though.)


And finally here are the two completed puppet curtain panels (undersides up)! I am really very happy how they came out - nice neat edges and perfectly sized to each other! (Thank you, Thank you, Mum!!!) We will have so much fun acting out our late autumn stories with these!


Above you see our current curtain collection (left), a basket of nature puppets (right) and the folded new curtains in front.

I have a few other ideas for this puppet project, but once again it is getting late and I really should wrap up. I would like to post again more about all this, hopefully this weekend - including photos of the curtains in action! Because I bought 2 yards of fabric, I had a good bit of it left over ... but I have a really fun idea how to use it  up, and after a trip to the craft store this weekend, I will post about that too!


Thanks for sticking with me on another loooong post, LOL! Good night and God Bless! :)

Another Quick and Crafty Project

A picture frame for my prayer corner! :)

Some time ago I saw a beautifully framed picture of Jesus and Mary in a catalog. I thought it was lovely. I loved the images - the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart - side by side. Later, I saw it in person at our local Catholic gift shop - and it was as beautiful as I imagined. I loved it.

I thought how nice it would be to have the picture set in a place of honor in our home. But the price was a bit high for an everyday purchase. I thought I might drop a few Christmastime hints ... and if that didn't work, there was always my birthday in January. ;)

Last weekend, I stopped in at the gift shop and, again, I looked long and hard at that picture. I called to mind my new prayer journal and the quiet corner I'm setting up at home. I envisioned how perfect this picture would be in that spot.

I almost bought it - but in the end, I resisted. I reminded myself patience is a virtue and I reminded myself that I could set up my little laminated holy cards at home in some makeshift way.

And that was when the lightbulb went on ... I could make a picture frame for my cards! And that's just what I did!

It is certainly not as beautiful or well-made as the ones they sell through catalogs and shops - but you know, as with my journal, I like the homemade touch. :)

Now you could use any colors, styles and images you'd like, of course. And while this was a relatively easy craft, lining the ribbon up in the groove of the frame proved a bit fussy. (The ribbon was a last minute addition - I had some laying about and the frame looked like it could use a little something else.) The whole project took me just about an hour.

Here are the materials to start with:


A piece of floral scrapbook paper (I used the same one as I did for my prayer journal), a 5x7 unfinished wooden frame, a blue accent mat and my holy cards. Not shown - acrylic paint in a shade of pale gold, a length of blue ribbon and a glue gun.

I simply cut the paper to fit the frame and, with a tiny bit of tape, centered and adhered the images in place. I then painted the frame with golden paint. Once it was dry I used a glue gun to add the ribbon.

Here is how it came out!


And here it is next to my prayer journal. I am setting up a small table in the family room as our prayer corner. It is still in the works, but right now I have it next to a very comfortable chair and the fireplace. :)


This frame might make a nice gift for someone - perhaps you could find out their patron saint, or if they have a special devotion. It would not be difficult for a child to make this craft with a little help from mom or dad.  (Note: If I do make the prayer journal as a gift, I will use double-sided tape on the cover for a neater look.)

You could give both of these projects together as a set. It might be hard to tell in the picture, but the background of the picture coordinates with the prayer journal. :)

And while I have your attention - and while we're talking about handmade gifts - please consider entering the Loveliness of Homemade Gifts Fair which is set to run here next Monday. (For details see this recent post.)

And remember - any kind of post about homemade gifts is welcome! Thoughts, challenges, plans, projects - anything! If you can't think of anything to post about, how about answering one or both of these questions:

~ What was your favorite homemade gift you've received?

~ What was your favorite homemade gift you've given?

If you don't have a blog, you are still more than welcome to join in the Fair! Simply email me your thoughts and/or photos.

I look forward to hearing from you (by Sunday night, please). :)

Thanks for stopping by - I hope you have a lovely day!