Archive | May, 2013

Handmade Wedding Gift

24 May

One of our former youth back home in Texas is getting married soon.  These kids grow up too fast, as it doesn’t seem possible that any of them can now be college graduates and getting married!  But they have grown up, and now we’re past graduation gifts and into weddings.

I typically do something for the home, like towels or kitchen items.  I did buy bowls.  Really fun confetti bowls, actually.  But I wanted to do something a little more personal, as well.  I remember the first Christmas Steven and I had together after we were married.  We went out and bought a special ornament together for our first tree.  I also unwrapped an entire box of ornaments that my mom had saved from my childhood.  Lots of great memories.  Steven stood and looked on sadly as I gleefully unwrapped all my special ornaments because he had none.  They didn’t do Christmas trees in his house when he was growing up.   Isn’t that terribly sad?

I don’t know whether or not this young man and his fiancee have ornaments from their own childhoods for a tree or not, but I wanted to make sure that they have at least one ornament waiting for them for their first Christmas tree.

I didn’t want to do anything overtly Christmas-y.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not really into snowmen or Santas or other typical Christmas scenes.  I’m not against them, but they don’t really have any special meaning.  Nor did I want to do something lame like cut up their wedding invitation and put it into a Christmas ball.  Not only is that not very attractive, but to me, it’s like giving someone their invitation in a frame; it comes across as cheap and not very creative.  (I’m a strong believer that couples will save their invitations and other wedding mementos in their own way that befits their own style.)

I went more with a (loose) theme of love, home, and happiness.  I opted for a bluebird of happiness.  The old story goes that two young children went all over the place looking for the bluebird of happiness, only to go home and find it there.  So this was my Christmas-ornament interpretation of that:

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The secret to getting the bird in there is acetate.  I’ve tried in the past to get paper inside one of these glass ornaments, and it was a disaster.  The paper didn’t want to unroll properly once inside, and it looked crumpled and messy.  I searched a long time online one night and ran across this tutorial, which neatly explained how to do what I wanted to do.  The one change I would make to the instructions is to buy acetate in the specialty craft paper section of the craft store.  (I bought mine at Hobby Lobby.)  The instructions say to use overhead projector sheets, but as a former teacher, I can tell you that they yellow.  Badly.  One summer in a Texas attic, and that ornament will be ruined.  (Although, admittedly, I don’t know how the stuff from the craft section will fare.  I’m just hoping it’s better, as it appears to be made of much sturdier stuff.)

A little touch I added was to use shrink plastic to cut out their initial.  (Remember Shrinky Dinks?  Yeah, that stuff.)  I cut their initial out with my Sizzix, colored it in with some Tim Holtz Distress Stain, punched a hole in it, then put it in the toaster oven to shrink.  I then threaded some ribbon through it and attached it to the top of the ornament like a little charm.

I also changed things up by using seed beads inside the ornament, instead of glitter.  The beads can rattle around in there, but they won’t stick to the glass like glitter does.  This was super important, as the ornament had to be shipped from Oklahoma to Texas.

I like big, fluffy bows, so I added that to the top.  As for the bird itself, I used a Martha Stewart stamp and watercolor pencils to color it in like an Eastern Bluebird, which I’m fully aware the stamp is not.  It gets the point across, regardless.

I sent it to a friend back home to take to the church shower for me, as I couldn’t be there.  I’ve already heard some nice things about it, so I think it was a success!


Days of Duck Ponds and Bubbles

14 May

Spring has hit with all its glory, and we’re spending time outside more and more frequently.  Alex has taken to bringing my shoes to me and attempting to mash them onto my feet.  It’s his way of saying he wants to go out.  I’m loving our little town in Oklahoma for its outdoor beauty and opportunities.  We walk the Pathfinder, a trail that goes through town.  We visit the duck pond to feed the ducks and geese.  We spend time in our backyard and the field beyond.

I have days that being the mom of a toddler wears me out.  It’s easy to feel inadequate.  My child was born to older parents, and he has a mother with chronic migraine and an autoimmune disorder.  To say that I’m tired is an understatement.  And often I have the doubts that plague modern mothers: Am I teaching him enough?  Is he properly stimulated?  Is he doing what other kids his age are doing?  Why doesn’t he have more teeth?!  (That last one might be unique to me.)

But somehow, when we’re outdoors, I’m unaware of these concerns.  Instead, I’m entranced watching my child experience the world around him.  Seeing his delight as he tosses bread, and ducks swim up to eat it.  Blowing bubbles for him to chase, as he giggles with the sheer joy of it.  Tossing maple seeds so he can see them twirling back down to the ground, then watching him try to make them spin, too.

He is busy, always busy.  He grabs his bucket, which I’ve conveniently taught him to fill with weeds, and he wanders the yard, picking dandelions to place inside.  Sometimes he brings them directly to me, grinning with the praise  he receives for picking the little yellow flowers.  He finds sticks and wanders the yard, waving them about, as if conducting a symphony that only he can hear.  He bobs his head a little, then his whole body follows, as he dances spontaneously to the music in his head.

This is the stuff of childhood.  These are the days that will be seared in my mind to become precious memories in the future.  Because I know that someday, the world will cease to be new to him.  It won’t be a big deal to see a duck eat a piece of bread.  Bubbles will not be worthy of chasing.  And he may stop noticing the seeds and sticks and dandelions all around him.  But I hope the music he hears, the song in his heart, will never truly change, and he’ll still want to dance for the sheer joy of it.

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DIY Mother’s Day Corsage

7 May

We always give my MIL a corsage for Mother’s Day.  We could do that inexpensively when we lived in Texas, as we’d just pick one out at the store and drive it over to her house.  Last year we were in Oklahoma for Mother’s Day, and we learned how unbelievably expensive it is to have a corsage made and delivered.  Ouch!  My husband works for a non-profit Christian organization here.  He took a very large paycut to work for this ministry we’re passionate about, and that means we really have had to cut expenses.  I started looking online for an alternative to having flowers delivered.

I first googled “DIY Mother’s Day corsage,” but that kept leading me to a felt flower corsage.  While lovely, I had no desire to cut little pieces of felt and sew or glue them together.  What’s more, I wasn’t sure MIL would care for that as much as something more realistic.  So I changed my search to “DIY corsage” and found this.  Looked easy enough, so I headed to Hobby Lobby to buy the supplies.

FYI, if you didn’t know, they sell realistic-looking flowers.  They’re even labeled as such and have minor imperfections like a real flower, as well as a realistic feel.  I bought all my flowers on a 50%-off sale, bought the wire and floral tape at Dollar Tree, and used a 40%-off coupon for corsage pins, so that brought the total cost to around $11.

Not only did the tutorial make it look easy, it really was easy!  I put a corsage together in under 10 minutes.  As a mama who can only get things done during her busy toddler’s nap, this was wonderful!  The corsage turned out beautifully, and when Steven hand-delivered it to his mom last night (he’s in Dallas on business), she didn’t even know it wasn’t real until he told her!  I’d call that a definite win.

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(I did spend a little beyond the cost of corsage supplies to buy a box and some yellow ribbon for packaging, but it was only about $3 more, again with a coupon.)