Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Craft #3 - Mistletoe

Yes this craft is coming to you post-Christmas. Yes I have a good reason for that. My college besties and I get together for a Christmas gathering every year and for the last few we've done it the week after Christmas, which is FABULOUS. It takes all the stress out of it when you get to do it after because there's so much less stuff on your mind. Anyway, last year we decided to do an ornament exchange instead of a secret santa and loved it so much we opted to continue the tradition. Last year one of my friends bucked the system and made picture frames for everyone, so this year I was the token system-bucker who made a non-ornament. I've been wanting artificial mistletoe for the house so I figured I'd make one for each of them too. David told me real mistletoe was toxic to dogs...I didn't google that to know if it's true but I still wanted fake. I'm not the best with plants.

Here's my little mistletoe tutorial. I totally made it up as I went along and although there's probably a much easier way, here's how I did it.
I bought two stalks of fake greenery at JoAnns and they are even fuzzy. I also bought some ball trim just a tad smaller than what I used for my tree skirt, and then I just used twine I already had. I made 5 of these so that's why I have 2 stalks of greens and lots the ball trim. Obviously for just one you'd just need one stalk or an even smaller different bit of artificial greenery....whatever tickles your mistletoe-making fancy.
I cut pieces of the greens off so each mistletoe had 4 twigs.
I had to piece them together to get 4 twigs so I held them with the twine. I just kept wrapping and knotting it around the top and then made a loop for hanging it.
Then I made the "berries" out of the ball trim.
I folded the small piece of trim in half and hand stitched it...
Then I folded it in half again and hand stitched so it formed a little ball. A ball of balls...this project just got weird.
I left a bunch of thread on the end because that's what I used to attached it to the greens.
Then I just pulled it tight to the stalk and looped the needle through to keep basically knotting it around the greens...see below. I did my best to take a photo:
I kept looping and sewing through the trim part of the balls...
So once I was finished it was very tight against the stalk, and I just knotted and cut the end of the thread. I did three clumps of the balls ("mistletoe berries") at different lengths on the leaves. Then I dabbed a little of my trusty Stiffy fabric glue (I'm sure most types of glue would work) on the back of the wrapped twine to prevent it from unraveling.
I just dabbed it on with a Q-tip and let it sit overnight.
Then I tied white and twine ribbons on the top to have some variety. Here's the four for my friends:
And then I hung mine up and tried to make David walk under the doorway :)
And there it little mistletoe craft.

Here's me with the girls and sweet Killian at our annual Christmas dinner and ornament exchange. He just jumped right up there and it only took 3 blooper photos before he posed like the little old senator that he is :)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Family Photos

We started a family tradition of taking a photo next to our tree...strangely enough it also means we're sitting on the dog bed. Here's this year's photo from our 2nd Christmas:
And here's last years. Oatsy's grown a bit.....
Good thing we're wearing different PJs. That could've been embarassing.

Here's another favorite photo from this year on Christmas Eve night:
Hope you all had a great Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Craft #2: Tree Skirt

For my parents' first Christmas together, my mom sewed her own quilted tree skirt. She's so crafty and way amazing at sewing. When we got married I told her I definitely wanted a quilted homemade tree skirt like theirs, so we bought some fabric on Black Friday....last year....and there it sat. I'm not the best at completing projects, and sewing ones...oh boy.

I am litrally, in the words of Rob Lowe, the worst sewer ever. To be clear, my dad knows more about sewing than me. The other day I said to my mom...."I hadn't used my sewing machine in a while and I couldn't figure out why everything kept bunching up when I tried to sew." My dad, who never hears anything, overhears this, and states, "You forgot to thread the bobbin." Yes, thanks Dad. I had actually figured that out after 15 minutes but I'm glad to know I'm that dumb at everything homemaker. I should also mention he's never used a sewing machine in his life.

So I figured I should at least try to get this thing made for our second Christmas, since I slacked last year and had to use a tablecloth. Yeah. I told you I'm no Holly Homemaker. So anyway, here we are, 5 days before Christmas, in my typical last-minute fashion, and it's finally done. And no, it was not quick, or easy, and was moderately fun. As always, sewing is way more fun when you complete a full project without the seam ripper....HA. Well this bad boy was sewn, ripped, sewn, thrown on the floor, ripped, sewn, laid on by Oats, etc, etc, many times until it finally made its entrance under our tree tonight. It is totally imperfect. The squares are not even, the skirt is not circular, and the buttons don't line up with the button holes, but by golly it's better than a tablecloth. And I made it. So BAM...take that sewing! It's going under a tree and getting covered with gifts and pine needles, so hopefully no one will ever notice it's amazing crappiness. I'm just proud that I made it myself and I luuuurve the fabrics I picked. And it's ours, unique and homemade, and that's how I like things.

I used this Simplicity pattern circa 1983 my mom thankfully saved.
Every single time I put it on the floor to measure or pin, someone thought it was her new bed. I had to gate the room off whenever I used pins. Like I said, made with love and Oats is a slogan that's completely accurate for our life.
Actually when I put it under the tree tonight I swear she looked at it and looked at me as if to say, wait, that's not my Christmas bed? Here it is all finished. Go easy on me....yes I see that red square that's smaller than all the others.
Here's the detail....I was going to do lace like my mom but at the last minute decided this pom-pom trim was more me. And I added buttons. I love the trim, the buttons and the fabrics. It's us, and it's so nice to have this done and finally under the tree. Although now David's convinced I'm a quilter. I just laughed.
This will probably be my second and last craft this year...this one took a lot outta me and I have about a thousand gifts still to wrap so it can actually make itself useful holding them.
Hope you're all having a great week before Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Beyond Words...

Our state made national headlines today in the worst possible way. What an unbelievably horrendous, senseless tragedy happened at Sandy Hook elementary school this morning. There are no words....except prayers. I am praying for the families and friends of the victims and the community of Newtown. I am so sad today. Tonight I will hug my family and friends and remember to take nothing for granted. I hope you'll do the same.

May God comfort those whose hearts are broken today.

Men & Christmas Music

Most people are not like me this time of year, in that I LOVE Christmas music. Yeah, it's weird, but c'mon, we only get one month all year that it's acceptable to listen to it and I want to use that to my full advantage. However, I don't know many men that will willingly listen to Christmas music without some serious grumbling. This year, though, I was able to get David to listen to, and actually enjoy, a few songs while we decorated our tree. So I asked him to help me compile a list of some holiday songs that he enjoys in hopes that maybe other men would agree, and it wouldn't be like pulling teeth for those of us women that want to play them in December. Without further adieu...

2012 Christmas Playlist - David's Picks:
1. All I Want For Christmas - Mariah Carey (she's gorgeous with a dynamite voice, what more could you want?)
2. Wizards in Winter - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
3. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee (because it's the one from Home Alone)
4. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Frank Sinatra
5. Run Rudolph Run - Chuck Berry (another from Home Alone)
6. 12 Days of Christmas - Straight No Chaser (a fav group of ours)
7. Christmas / Sarajevo - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
8. Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms (this surprised me but I'll take it!)
9. A Mad Russian's Christmas - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
10. Carol of the Bells - either John Williams (from Home Alone) or The American Boychoir (from The Santa Clause)
11. Feliz Navidad - Jose Feliciano
12. The Twelve Days of (Canadian) Christmas - Bob & Doug McKenzie 
13. Dominic the Donkey - Lou Monte (of course)

Well I got 13 out of him. Enough for a playlist. And now that I know, twenty bucks says he'll hate them all by the end of the week.

**I put these songs together in a playlist on youtube which can be accessed via this link. When I couldn't get the official video I looked for best alternative, and for two of the TSO songs I chose Christmas light versions because I looove to watch these. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Our Blog Name: Validated

Just a little validation that this blog is aptly named. Tonight I was making a blanket and I laid it on the floor to measure out the cuts. I put one of our blankets underneath to keep it from getting dog fur on it, but Oats couldn't stay away. She got one touch of the outrageously soft fabric and couldn't handle herself. I asked her 17 times to move back to her bed but she just kept creeping back.....
So everything in our house is literally made with love and Oats.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Craft #1 Complete: Advent Calendar

I really love Advent Calendars. I've always enjoyed countdowns (anyone who used to be my friend on AIM knows) so this is right up my alley and I wanted to make us one this year. I've been looking for inspiration for a couple months now and here are some of my favorites:

Gosh I love those mini mittens! And I did spend a good week searching for mini knitted cute mittens before I knew it was time to move on. It's already December so time is of the essence with this project. So two of the other ones above that I really like use buckets...shocking. Of course I have a bunch of them lying around. My mom used little white ones at my bridal shower and had a ton leftover, so she pawned them off on me and until now I've had no clue what to do with them. Until now........

Here's my twist on the bucket Advent Calendar:
The mini white buckets are from Oriental Trading. I used white because it's what I had, but they also have silver, gold, red, galvanized....almost all for less than $1/bucket. There's even a make-your-own advent calendar kit if you don't want to make everything yourself. I simply glued the numbers to burlap-covered paper (glued burlap to cardstock with gluestick...yeah I'm 3) and then made a loop of twine taped to the back of the cardstock to hook onto the bucket handle. Pretty simple and it cost me nothing because I used all things I already had. I put little red scrolls inside each with fun things to do during the month of December. We're already a week in so we've got some making up to do.

It would be remiss for me not to mention that to make this possible, we had to create another shelf on the current shelf. You know, cause I have to make things complicated. As I've said before, I love having a husband with power tools :) David whipped up this wayy nicer-than-I-asked-for-but-awesome shelf:
I covered it with a piece of linen and put the garland in front. Here's a shot of the built-in shelves with the new addition. And I finally completed a project for Christmas...woot woot.

The beauty of the buckets is that you can fit anything in them. We have the little scrolls with fun things to do every day, but you could put an ornament in each to hang that day, or I've seen people put little gifts in Advent calendars too, if you want to go all Hanukkah on your Christmas calendar. Gifts could be fun to do with kids I think, so maybe someday :) The other great thing is that the numbers are just hung on the buckets so I can take them off if I want to use the buckets for something else throughout the year.

So there it is...I give you my first completed Christmas project. I'm working on a couple more now so we'll see if I manage to finish them before Christmas morning.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like....


We got our tree...
And we decorated it...
Oh and then we took a nap evidently.
Made a wreath...
Filled our tiny front porch with goodies...
And got to work on some other Christmas projects :) Hope you're all having a wonderful December too!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Taking Our Own Photos

We took a total of 225 photos in order to get one good one for our Christmas card. Our tight budget forced me to get my crap together and learn how to use my fancy camera for more than just point and shoot. I've been working on this for a while now but it's a process that takes a while to perfect. I recently got some new camera gear...mostly because I really really want some great family photos. Sadly we could not afford to pay a professional for this photo shoot. Instead, we invested some money in a lens, remote, tripod and Photoshop, and I'm super excited with the results.

Here's a sneak preview:
The toughest part is getting Oats to focus on looking at the camera when David and I are in the picture. She doesn't quite understand it, obviously. That's why it took 225 photos. There's a LOT of bloopers. And one nearly destroyed stocking. However, it's done, we got some awesome frameable shots, and the cards are on their way :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Recipe: Squash Casserole

For our Spanksgiving dinner I made my mom's amazing squash casserole and had some recipe requests so here she goes:

Squash Casserole
3 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
2 small yellow squash, shredded
2 small zucchini, shredded
1 small carrot, shredded
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix stuffing and butter. Reserve 1/2 cup stuffing mixture. Spoon remaining stuffing mixture into a 2-quart baking dish (11x7 pyrex).

Mix soup, sour cream, yellow squash, zucchini, carrot and cheese. Spread over stuffing mixture. Sprinkle reserved stuffing mixture over soup mixture.

Bake at 350˚ for 40 minutes or until hot.


(I'll try to add a photo to this recipe sometime in the future. Try to survive until then)


We....correction: I started Thanksgiving with some good college friends in what we affectionately call Spanksgiving. There's no spanking, we're just weird. Here's our amazing hostess prepping stuff in the kitchen:
Even her precious little Killian joined us for a little while...
One of our friends that could not attend send an adorable card and some nametags (Jenks you owe me one next year). Kara's is pretty amazing.

I was unable to get a group shot of everyone but I did get someone to take this terrible picture of us girls. I look like a deer in the headlights.
Our true Thanksgiving Day started with some good ole fashioned pie apple crumb versus David's crust-on-top apple. That's what I'm calling it. I'm sure it has another name but I'm tired and don't care. Go with it.
Here's us making our pies...we planned to do a competition with our family but David chickened out so clearly I won. Honestly, they were both delicious and I wish I had them right now.
I didn't get a photo of my family together because 1) I forgot and 2) we see each other all the time. However, David's grandparents came up from Florida and it was a rare chance to get a shot of the family together, and they asked I apologize but this was the best I could do. It was a challenge to squish everyone together in one photo in the living room with less than thrilling lighting. In the end, I edited it to B&W because it looks much nicer. It was a fun time getting this picture and I'm thankful the dogs didn't run through it as I clicked the remote. Here's what we ended up with...the Wright gang.
So I finally got my Thanksgiving photos up just in time for Christmas season :) Happy December!
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