On any given day you are most likely to find us communing with the gnomes and the fairies Under The Old Oak Tree

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Christmas Cards and Gift Wrap

Christmas is going to be here before we know it!  I've been busy for months working on handmade presents for family and close friends. For details on the gifts we are giving this year, see my handmade holiday posts.  My goal is to get all of the presents done by the end of November so that I can focus on decorating, baking, celebrating, honoring old family traditions and starting some new ones as well.  Most of my knitting is completed. During December I may work on knitting a few gift items, but for the most part they are little things to supplement larger gifts.  If I get some of them done great, if not, they won't be missed all that much.  What I do need to get really busy with this week is sewing.  I have plans to sew several items for Daddy and W.

I'm thinking that means one of this week's tasks is going to be starting to draft this year's Christmas letter and and get our card address list updated.  Maybe I'll have Daddy start printing out some address labels this week too.  We always try to do a photo card.  The last two years have been of all three of us, but I'm thinking this year we should probably just feature the young man of the house.  His Grammy has purchased several nice holiday outfits for him, so once I have all of them, we will choose one and start taking some pictures.  Last year we used our Christmas tree as a backdrop, but I'd like to get the pictures done this year before it's time to put the tree up so, I'm debating what would make a good setting for his holiday pictures.  Also, last year we got a great deal on our photo cards from SeeHere.  I think we paid something like $2.00 for 50 cards (including shipping).  It was a fantastic deal.  I'm hoping there is a similar deal from them this year since I have already designed the card and just need to insert the picture of W.  I'm also including a picture of the winter scene needle felting I made this fall on the card.

By the way this 12x12 needle felted wall hanging is currently for sale in my etsy shop.

As for gift wrapping, we have decided to try to make reusable cloth gift bags for as many things as possible this year.  I have a few styles that I have collected over the years already.  My aunt always sends gifts to W in cotton drawstring bags with Christmas prints on them so I have quite a few of those at this point.  I also have one that I bought at a craft sale last year that has a contrasting piece of fabric at the top and an attached ribbon.  The benefit of this design is that it can be used to wrap a box similarly to how you would wrap with paper.  Over the past 6 months or so I've been trying to give gifts in cloth bags when possible and have usually just made a mitered bag with a very wide hem at the top and done with a decorative stitch.  I then have put in the present and tied a pretty bow around the bag.  My mom and I have been collecting some Christmas fabrics for a while now, so we need to start sewing on some of these bags pretty soon.  I anticipate still needing to use some boxes and wrapping paper this year to supplement the bags, but hopefully much less than we have in the past.  I figure we can add a few bags each year form now on and buy the fabrics we want to use on clearance after Christmas from now on.

Edit 11/18/10-

I ordered our Christmas cards from SeeHere  three days ago and they arrived today.  I used the best deal I could find this year which was 25 free cards ($4.95 s&h) and then ordered 10 more at regular price.  With tax our 35 cards came to just over $10.00 which isn't too bad.  Our Christmas letter is written and I am waiting for my mom to send me some extra pretty paper she has to print it on.  My hubby and I have also compiled our card list and are working on gathering up addresses.  We need to get stamps this week and print out our address labels (these are are the hubster's responsibility too) and we will be ready to send out our cards by sometime  in early December.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Just wanted to share a quick post with you all about our Halloween last night.

We had a great time but everything felt very last minute and  I wasn't nearly as organized as I would have preferred.  I usually try to carve pumpkins on the 30th, but didn't get it done.  I also had to spend a couple hours finishing the head for my husband's longhorn cow costume on Halloween itself.  My mom made the costume, but didn't quite get it finished before she had to send it (I received it on the 30th)!  That left me to finish it in a panic.

W's costume was pretty easy.  He was a cowboy (a very cute little cowboy if I say so myself).  My mom lives out west and had purchased the chaps, vest and boots for him from a western wear store before he was even born, and sent him his (3rd maybe?...we seem to go through them) cowboy hat  a couple of months ago.

After I finished the cow head I had to carve pumpkins.  I frantically carved three of the four jack o' lanterns in the hour and a half before trick or treating began.  They may not be my best jack o'lantern's ever, but I'm pretty happy with how the turned out.

I also very quickly made these cute little luminaries to put on our walk.  They were inspired by these from Moment to Moment.

And  I just have to share one last picture of my guys...the cowboy and his longhorn cow back from a long walk trick or treating!

BTW the Great Pumpkin came to visit W last night and left him a couple of lovely Halloween books, some pretzels, once piece of candy and some play dough that W got trick or treating.  For folks out there who give out play dough, pretzels and other non-candy items, this mama thanks you!  It's really nice for the Great Pumpkin to be able to give these items back for a child to enjoy without causing havoc in our home and sleep schedules with sugary treats!

Also, be sure to check out our family's November gratitude tree on my Counting Our Blessings page.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Handmade Holiday

Okay, so I've not posted about our handmade holiday efforts in a while, but I do have some projects done and ready to share.

Again, the disclaimer, if you are a member of my family, please stop reading this blog till Christmas gifts are exchanged!

First a warm wool hat for my husband's cousin who lives in upstate New York.  It was my first Beanie #212 watch cap knitted flat and seamed together.

I then thought that my BIL who works out on a boat for a couple weeks at a time could also use some warm wool on his head and I used the same pattern but knitted in the round and added some cables.  I love how this hat turned out!

Remember my favorite scarf pattern for women?  Well, I made two more of them  A solid rosy color for MIL and a pretty pink and brown colorway for DH's aunt.

When I saw the wool handle cover at Moment to Moment, I knew I had to make my mom one to use with her cast iron skillet.  I ended up following the instructions to knit one from A Hand Made Life and felted some flowers on it.  I want a couple of these too.  Maybe if I get all the other projects finished, I'll find some in my stocking...

Except for a pair of socks that I started for my b-day and am not allowed to work on till all my Christmas gifts are complete, that is everything that I had cast on my needles finished.  I need to go get some more yarn so that I can cast on some slippers for W, and three more beanie # 212's for my hubby, father and FIL.  I also need to get busy on a few cat toys for the pets in our lives but those are super quick kits.

This week I felted down another sweater, unsure of what I was planning to do with it.  Later that evening, I remembered that I had wanted to make little tissue holder pouches for my mom and MIL from felt.  I decided to use this felted sweater instead.  I also needle felted designs on them and stitched up the sides with a blanket stitch.  I loosely based the idea on these.  The needle felting was a great way to add a little "red hat" to the gifts for MIL.

Over the summer, after receiving a batch of pictures of my son, my mom stated that she wanted to "wear a picture of W around her neck".  That became the inspiration for a Christmas gift of course!  I made one for my mom and one for MIL.  I found these little charm frames at Michaels several months ago for 75% off and printed out tiny little pictures of W to put in them.  I need to put the charms on jump rings and then  make them into necklaces, but the hard part of the project (selecting the picture, shrinking it and putting it in the little frame charms) is done.

Speaking of photo gifts, I also found pictures of FIL, DH and W all taken when they were between the ages of 18 months and 2 years old.  I've edited them to make them look fairly similar and will be framing them together as gifts for my hubby and FIL.  I was moved to tears when I put the three pictures together into a collage to see how they sit together.  I think the family resemblances between these three little boys is amazing!  I hope they like this gift as much as I do.

In our house we also allow a few purchased handmade items.  I mostly have used this get a few things for W's stocking so far.

At our Waldorf School Fest of Fall, I purchased these beautiful shooting stars from my table-mate L of Blue Iris Handcrafts.

On Etsy I purchased this cute little tub turtle for W from MamaMadeThem.  I also have purchased him one of her bathtub boats for him as we are trying to transition him away from plastic bath toys.

The other thing I bought for him on Etsy is this set of  creative wood play clips  from Creative Wood Toys.  I am sure that W and A are both going to enjoy these since they have been asking me to make them playsilk tents for the past week.  My plan is to dye a big playsilk to go with these clips as one of W's gifts.

Also at the Waldorf School Fest of Fall, I purchased this beautiful bar of lavender soap from Sweet Cheeks.  Her things are beautiful and I'm thinking there are a couple stocking-stuffers I need to order from her for the hubby!  This soap is going to go to my mom who has always loved all things lavender.

I have a couple more projects in the works here including more photo coasters, and some felted soaps which hopefully will be done for my next handmade holiday post.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Family Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

This past week we made a trip to Gallmeyer Farms to visit the pumpkin patch.  We had a great time and W and I really enjoyed having Daddy come with us this year!   We told W he needed to wear a hat so he insisted on wearing his fabulous gnome hat made by by very talented friend over at Blue Iris Hand Crafts (she is the friend I have shared a booth with at our Waldorf School's Holiday Bizarre/Fest of Fall for the past two years and her things are beautiful)!  I love this hat and I think W chose the perfect hat for the pumpkin patch!   Daddy of course picked out a huge pumpkin which our little gnome had quite a time trying to push in the wheelbarrow!

W also picked out his own smaller pumpkin which he tried to carry around himself...but it was really heavy!

So we put it in the wheelbarrow with Daddy's and let him try to push both pumpkins.

We also took a family trip through the hay maze.

And ended our trip with hayride.  W especially loved riding behind the tractor and getting to see the turkeys they keep at the farm.

We are eagerly awaiting carving our pumpkins for Halloween but enjoying them while they grace our front steps!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Apple Picking for My Birthday

I celebrated my birthday last week and had a wonderful time! I took a break from preparing for the Fest of Fall and W and I went apple picking with some of our neighbors at Carter Mountain. It was a beautiful day.

We picked lots of Jonagold apples and then had apple doughnuts and what I think must be the best apple cider I've had in a long time.  It was so much fun watching the kids picking the apples.

Of course we all had to sample some as well.  They were delicious!  One of our neighbor girls declared them "the best apples ever" and she might have been right.  Eating them while sitting between rows of trees in  the orchard, you really couldn't get any better than that!

 W ate one that was almost as big as he is and he loved every bite of it.  We've been eating our wonderful apples all week and have been so grateful to have them and happy that we know exactly where they came from.  It was a wonderful morning!

We finished off the day having a dinner out with Daddy at one of our favorite Italian places and then topped it off with gelato from DeLuca's.  I had pumpkin and amaretto gelato.......yummmm!  DeLuca's is one of my favorite places.  We rarely go there but when we do it is such a wonderful treat!

The day after, W and I went to the Richmond Folk Festival.  It was wonderful! Our family always says how lucky we are to live in a place that has such wonderful festivals and I think this one is the best of them all!

 W and  I listened to lots of bluegrass and oldtime music (which luckily he enjoys as much as I do at this point), and both particularly enjoyed the female Cajun group BonSoir, Catin.  W gave me the cd for my birthday and we've been listening to it all week.  W claps for many of the songs each time he hears them and we've been dancing and singing along when I manage to figure out the French words.  We topped the folk festival off by listening to the Sand Mountain Sacred Harp Singers.  I love shape note singing and it was a real treat to see  a live performance of it!  If you've not heard it before, there's a sample on the Richmond Folk Festival's Performer's page. This music gives me goose bumps!

I had a wonderful couple of days celebration and then it was back to work.  The Fest of Fall at our local Waldorf School is tomorrow, and surprisingly, I'm ready and really looking forward to it! Of course, best of all is that unlike last year, I'll actually get to sleep the night before the sale.  I won't say I haven't pulled a couple of all nighters this week, but at least these last couple days before the sale I'm able to catch up on my sleep and I should be able to go and be present and really enjoy it!  I'll be back afterwards with pictures!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fest of Fall Items

I finally have pictures of a few of the items I have made so far to sell at the Fest of Fall.

And since we are also trying to enjoy this beautiful fall season, here's a photo of  W and I picking apples this morning.  We had such a wonderful time!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We've Been Under The Weather...and The Pressure's On!

I haven't posted since Michaelmas because W and I have both been a bit under the weather.  I've been hit with a not so fun cold and W seems to have a combination of teething (those 2 year molars) and possible allergies.  He never seemed to get a cold like I did, but he has had a runny nose and is drooling like nothing I have ever seen.  When he was an infant I soaked up all that drool with the constant use of bibs but now he's such a big boy he won't wear one and his front is constantly drenched.  I am tempted to  knit up some sort of wool drool soaker to go around his neck but under his clothes.  With the weather changing I'm so afraid he will end up really getting chilled going outside sopping wet from the drool.  Of course, I have next to no time to work on this right now.

Time is short and the pressure is on.  Our rhythm is all over the place and I have suspended all Christmas present making (as well as most house keeping) till after October 16th!  "Why?" you might ask.  Because earlier this week I agreed to share a table with my friend L at our local Waldorf school's Fest of Fall selling my wool creations.  Last year we shared a table for the Holiday Bizarre at the school and had such a wonderful time and I am really looking forward to this year's event!

Here are some pictures L took of our table from last year.  Her beautiful items are on the left and my things are on the right.  W is a big fan of her gnome hats and her little gnomes!  He  wears the hat and plays with his little gnome almost daily.

I am deep into production mode here at the moment and have been keeping my hands busy during the day knitting and working intensely on needle felting items during nap times and late into the night. I need to take some pictures or the items I have finished (if I ever can get  a hold of the camera during daylight hours to take these pictures) and post them here to give you all a taste of what I will be selling.  Okay, back to work!  I'll be back to blogging after we get through the festival.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Michaelmas!

Our Michaelmas celebration was delayed by a day since on Michaelmas itself Daddy spent the evening at our local Waldorf School's parent meeting for the parent and toddler class and I was at a women's group at church.  We typically try to celebrate the Waldorf (and other) festivals at dinner time when Daddy is home to celebrate with us though W and I do lots of preparations ahead of time.

I'm actually pretty excited that Daddy will be going to the class with W, though I'm sad that I can't be there this session due to my work schedule.  I think it's a great opportunity for Daddy to learn more about Waldorf from someone other than me and it will allow him to better support what I do with W at home.  It's also nice that they are going to have a thing that they do together and the fact that it's at the Waldorf School is just perfect if you ask me!

Okay, so back to Michaelmas.  This was our second year celebrating and of course this year it was fun to make it a bit more interactive for W.  I know in the coming years there will be even more celebration activities that he will enjoy so much.  For this year, I kept it pretty simple.  A song, a couple verses and we added a candle and a couple of new foods to our celebration.

W and I have been singing the Michaelmas song from Come Follow Me daily during our September Circle Time and we sang it multiple times today.  It's fun now as he gets a little older he sings along when I sing a song he knows and I can actually tell what he's singing.  This evening we also sang it for Daddy at dinner time right after we said grace.   W and A helped to collect the asters, leaves and acorns that we used to decorate the table for this lovely fall festival as well.

I also made a rolled beeswax dragon candle for Michaelmas a couple of weeks ago.  We generally light a candle when we eat, so we will use this candle at meals throughout the autumn months to remind us of Michael's strength, courage and protection.  It was fun to make a rolled candle and then warm and mold bits of the wax sheets into a dragon to decorate this special candle.

This morning W helped me to make our dragon bread and blackberry pie.  Unfortunately, a particularly messy situation kept me from getting to the oven when I needed to for our poor dragon.  We are just pretending that he accidentally burnt his own nose and tail while breathing his fire....

W loves dragon bread.  He loved helping to make him, he loves the dried fruit and nuts mixture inside his belly, he loves looking at him and at one point this evening he loved eating the eyes off of him when I wasn't looking.  It was also his favorite part of dinner!

W also loved making the blackberry pie.  He helped to cut out the hearts for the top and he sampled lots of the blackberries for me.  For a while this afternoon he was sporting a little blackberry soul patch.  I wish I had the camera at that point because it was really really cute!

We have blackberry pie for Michaelmas because according to legend when Michael killed the dragon/expelled the devil from heaven, he  landed in a blackberry bush.  It's actually considered bad luck to eat blackberries after Michaelmas.  We will tempt fate and have some today since this is Michaelmas for us!

Traditionally goose is served at Michaelmas, but I stayed with our tradition from last year and made Cornish game hens again with the traditional onion stuffing.  We also have carrots on Michaelmas which is based on one of the traditions discussed here.

This year we also added a special drink for Michaelmas.  W, A and I made homemade ginger ale from this recipe earlier in the week and then let it brew for a couple of days at room temperature before refrigerating it. My suggestion if you make this is to take it outside and open it very slowly.  It probably took me ten minutes or so of opening and closing the bottle to let the gas escape without having a big explosion.  Definitely head the advice given in the comments section for the recipe or it could be a big mess.  It was lots of fun though and we all thought that it tasted really good.  I don't think I ever want to have the store bought stuff again now that I know how yummy this is!  I can't remember now where I saw that it is traditional to have ginger at Michaelmas but I do know that I found this in some of my research this year.  I also added some fresh grated ginger to our blackberry pie this year.

Here is our dragon and our St. Michael picture from our nature table.

Wishing you all warmth, strength and courage in the dark, cold months ahead!
Happy Michaelmas!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Our Early Autumn Nature Table

Our Autumn nature table was not as easy to put together this year as I had anticipated.  Somehow, I can not remember what special place I chose to keep our autumn nature table items safe.  I remember that I did put them away and choose a special place for them while I was putting up the Christmas decorations last year, but, for the life of me, I can't remember or find where.  So, we have basically been starting over from scratch this year.

Here are some pictures of this year's autumn nature table so far.  We have also started putting out some items for Michaelmas including our dragon puzzle and some blue asters.

Also I have done some leaf rubbings which are now framed and hanging up in our dinning room.  I love how they complete the room's seasonal feel (this is also where we have our nature tables).

I leave you this evening with a lovely picture of the harvest moon taken by my husband earlier this week.

Happy Autumn to you all!


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