Monday, November 29, 2010

Handmade Holiday - How our journey began

Post Edit...I have made a few explanations throughout this post to answer some emails...
As I mentioned yesterday, this is our 3rd year doing Handmade holiday. We are still evolving with this event and so far, I really like where it is going. Let me give you a bit of the background on how we got to where we are today.... This is a long Christmas story.....


I LOVE Christmas...I mean, I REALLY LOVE Christmas....like decorate my little house (approx. 3000 sq. ft)  with at least 5 Christmas trees...change all the dishes in the kitchen over to holiday decorations...etc.

I DESPISE commercialized Christmas....I hadn't been to the mall or to the big box stores during Christmas for over 1 1/2 years until last year. When my older 3 children were little we went over the top every year with their gifts ~ and I always felt awful about it. I always felt like it was too much..and it was!..Yes, I am aware that it was my choice to buy those gifts....

My husband and I have always taught our Children (based on his Ukrainian heritage and my German/Irish heritage) about the story of St. Nicholas, the Magic of Christmas, the Christmas Spirit, and the gift of Giving.

As the years progressed with the older 3, we began to alter our gift giving strategy because we didn't like the excess and the 5 foot Christmas list (literally...) of toys that they didn't really need or want, but had seen commercials that made them crazy for that toy! We began to explain to them, that they could make their list as long as they wanted, but to really highlight the TOP 3 because ~ St. Nicholas brought children 1 present and it was always a handmade toy...and Jesus only received 3 gifts from the Wisemen....so, they would only be receiving 3 "toy" gifts from Santa and the rest will be Mommy/Daddy presents.

Fast forward to 3 years ago when we were fast approaching Christmas and all commercial toys were looking the same to me and my babies (Lily was just over 1 at the time) toys were all being recalled! Ta Da ~ handmade Christmas emerged into our lives...I had been reading in blogland about this concept and I adopted it and adapted it to our family.

We have tweaked it each year and thrown in a few challenges here and there...like NO big box store purchases last year....that was fun, and it didn't work because two kids wanted electronic items that we were forced to purchase at a major retailer!
Part 2 of our Story...The Gig is Up~Santa
As I mentioned earlier in this post, we have always taught our children about the real meaning of Christmas, and tried not to just focus on the Big Guy in a red suit! Last year I read a book called The Glass Castle, which is a true story and very moving. It brought a deep dark fear/belief of mine to a head for me no~my fear is NOT that I am crazy!....the mother who was TRULY crazy in this story had what I believed to be, a moment of brilliance, when she explained to her children that just because "Santa" didn't bring them tons of toys or ANY toys, it wasn't because they were less deserving or bad kids.  She popped the Santa bubble for them because they were VERY poor and couldn't provide for their children what other children were being given. BUT she wanted her children to know without doubt, that they were worthy of the best in life. I give this woman credit for nothing more than the explanation of Santa For me...It brought to light the fact that I didn't want my children to think they were less worthy or bad because they didn't get TONS of presents from "Santa". I didn't want to go into debt to keep up with the Jones...I saw that at times we bought for our kids because we wanted them to have what "other kids" were getting - to be equal - to not feel like they were not as worthy. Our financial situation is obviously much better than the family in the book, but I don't like the way people put themselves into debt to give to their children, and I refuse to do so.... The recession brought a new twist to many families and for our growing family, with a small business in a small town, this was no different.

My older kids had already started to not believe, based on school and their age...So...I sat my three older children down and we talked about Christmas and Santa.... I never came out and said that Santa didn't exist, but we talked about whether or not we believed that Santa was a big guy in a red suit who came down the chimney? Did Santa bring their friends BIGGER gifts (say a pinball machine) because they were a better kid? ...Or was it just luck of the draw? ....Or was it because their parent had more means than we did? In the end we came to the conclusion that The Spirit of Christmas is where the real magic is, and spending countless hours as a family, making crafts and foods together ~ to share ~ is truly the beauty of Christmas.I recently mentioned in conversation that our older kids know the "truth" about Santa and one of the women I was talking to had the saddest look on her face and said "Awww..." but honestly, the truth has been quite wonderful. To me, to see my kids really embrace the spirit of Christmas and make it magical for the ones that they love ~ especially their little sister has been quite wonderful.

So we focus on Handmade, we give 3 Santa gifts, Mom and Dad give gifts that they may want and may need....no one is missing out! Etsy has been a wonderful treat for handmade shopping! Sometimes Santa and his little elves have to visit the box stores to produce one of their gifts - but Santa really loves the Internet so much better than the actual store!

PLUS...this is the reaction you get when you are really committed to your Christmas list!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Handmade Holiday 2010 - Yr. 3

We will once again be doing Handmade Holidays at our house...this is our third year. Christmas has evolved over the years in our house and I really like where it is going. Please read tomorrow for a further explanation about how this holiday has become what it is today in our house....


No Crazy Black Friday shopping for us! We just had our first installment of Handmade Holiday this weekend! My in-laws come for Thanksgiving and we also did Birthdays and Christmas all at the same time...it is a Mega Holiday weekend. A bit stressful bringing it all together, but it works out great! We introduced our in-laws to Handmade Holiday this year..it was fun. My older nephew was not really on board, but my younger nephew loved it! The best part is that they participated in it fully!

Here are the Guidelines for our family...just in case your wondering...
1. You must make and give a gift to receive a gift.
2. If your an adult male who is unable to "craft" or "make" anything, you can purchase a handmade item.
3. Santa only brings 3 gifts to each child. (I will explain this in a later post)
Maybe I should have reversed the order of those guidelines...

For my In-laws we changed the rules a bit...
1. You must make a gift to receive a gift
2. Each individual had to make something...rule #1 had to be clarified a bit..
3. We will exchange one "family" gift that could be purchased.
**AND...we added a bit of fun to our event by having a "Tacky Sweater" contest with our gift exchange...**

We also like to throw a hitch or challenge in at our house..we like to attempt to make all gifts from items on hand - recycle or upcycle whenever possible. I have a competitive bunch here...lol.

We had a really good time! It was great to see everyone bring their creativity to the table. My sister-in-law broke the rules a bit by purchasing more than just ONE family gift. She purchased everyONE an individual gift. ...I did NOT.

our projects...hence why my camera got glued to the table. That darn *cancer glue* ate a hole in itself and leaked out onto the table where one of the kids had put my camera down "near" the glue. NOT a happy mama!!

Here are some of the pretties that my family has made! Pictures of all gifts made by each child...

Breeanna made a picture collage for her Grandparents, Duct tape wallets for her cousins, a bird feeder for her uncle and a picture holder for her aunt.

 Lily drew pictures for her uncle and one cousin (the big envelopes hold the pictures), she hand rolled Fimo to make beads and then strung them into bracelets for her aunt and grandmother, and the CD envelope has a few "supplies" for her other cousin who likes to "make stuff" too...
 Jacob made a bud vase for his aunt, a snake sculpture for his one cousin, a turtle paper weight for the other cousin and a jewelry tray for his grandmother. NOT PICTURED is a bird house for his uncle made from a barn we had on our farm.
 My submission the event...Felted sweaters made into hats. These pictures are really bad because they were done at 2:30 in the morning....I used the body of one sweater for both of these hats, and an arm of another sweater for the one below. NOT pictured...two neckwarmers that I crocheted,  one for my sisternlaw and for my mothernlaw

I AM VERY UPSET WITH MYSELF because in our rush to get everything wrapped and given out, I did not get pictures of the boxes that Hayden made for everyone. Using Cigar boxes he made a box to hold his cousins Xbox controller's, a treasure box for his other cousin. A jewelry box for his grandmother and a trinket box for his aunt, and a box to hold keys and change for his uncle. He did an excellent job on each of them.

Our family gift was a basket filled with food from Trader Joe's (they don't have one in NY where my in-laws live) and a cookbook of family favorite recipes with a subscription to Food Network magazine.

Our gifts in return were fleece pillows for the kids (the hand tied style) and a playing card holder for each kid made out of a jeans pocket. (The kids and their NY family love to play card games whenever they are together and apparently there is never a full deck of cards here.....no pun intended!) And homemade cookies and chocolates. Very yummy.... our family gift was "Just Dance 2" for the Wii....HOLY COW! That is funny!!!

FUN and laughter were had by all, I was a proud mama watching my children hand out their handmade wares and the joy that was on the faces of those receiving them made me even more proud!

Hayden won the Tacky Christmas sweater contest - and I won the Tackiest sweater of the night! Good times!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful Indeed


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! May your day be filled with Blessings!!!

~ Heather

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks - Silver Bella Edition

I am a little behind on my Thank You's from Silver Bella and since I am offering a bit of Thanks every day this week....I thought I would include these wonderful women in my gratitude!!


I would LOVE to show you all the pictures that I have taken...but...my Big camera wont connect to the computer...so I used my little camera! Well... *somehow* my little camera got glued to the table....check back on Friday and you'll understand why! So I turned to my phone...took all the pictures AGAIN and the darn thing ATE the pictures! I can't find them ANYWHERE!!

Since, I am just so thankful for the Women and all the cute little things they gifted to me, I am going on with the post anyway! Here goes...


To my two lovely travel partners...
Pam ~ You have truly inspired me in many ways...many ways...
Sue ~ Thank you for taking me under your wing! It was a warm and cozy wing indeed!!


To my beautiful and gracious roommates....
Jen ~ thank you for all the wonderful little goodies you gave me ~ and thank you for not letting me put those cute little "lip glosses" on my lips! They are for painting, really??


Kathi ~ thank you for the lovely necklace! I have worn it several times so far...really appreciate it!


Terri! ~ Oh Terri...how I LOVE my cute little hat! I might even where it on Thanksgiving??? Just never know....and the goodies that were included with the fabulous hat....THANK YOU! I am a lover of Bingo cards and hankies!! Thank you for your help with the swap as well!


Kana ~ thank you for the box of toffee....it was DELICIOUS..thank goodness I was able to have a few pieces before my kids ate EVERY last bit!!
Kana and I on Vendor night...photo from her blog



Kim ~ Thank you for the lovely soap...I love lavender!! MMMM....thank you!


Shawn ~ Thank you for the yummy lavender sachet!


Jill G. ~ Thank you for the adorable milk container filled with chocolate! That was ADORABLE!! It will take a place in the holiday decor!

To my Swap partner Jill.....NO WORDS...JUST NO WORDS to express my incredible gratitude for my beautiful box filled with amazing goodies!! It literally brought tears to my eyes!
To my swap partner Susan ~ Thank you for the adorable vintage bag and tussy and all the other goodies!! So many to play with - thank you!


Michelle ~ Thank you for letting us have a sneak peak at your vendor goodies...I love you for that! :) And...my cute little key is still in my change pouch!

Suz ~ thank you for the little trinket you passed on to me in our Tea Cup Fairy Class

HOPE~thank you for getting me through our soldering class....I really couldn't have made it without you...literally...I enjoyed all our conversations and look forward to spending time with you again!

Jennifer ~ Thank you for my trinket in our Gilded Fairy Class!

JULIE B. ~ The Chocolate....MMMMMM....the chocolate! So yummy!!! Thank you for everything, I LOVED spending time with you!

Swiped this picture of Julie and Jennifer and I from Michelle's blog...thank you!

Roxie & Robin ~ Thanks for the laughs!!!


And to all the other Silver Bella Ladies....Thank you for making my first year a wonderful year! If you didn't see your name here ~ it doesn't mean I didn't LOVE YA!!

I did a little photo swiping to show you some of these ladies...so glad SOMEONE has pictures!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Offering Thanks ~ Part 3

Image from The Graphics Fairy
Today I am having a difficult time picking just one thing to be Thankful for. There have been so many blessings bestowed upon me in life ~ not to be confused with having an "easy" life or that things have "come easy" to me in life.



I have worked hard, and I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to do so.

I have loved, and thankful for the broken hearts that brought me to my husband and blessed me with the four beautiful children that I have today.

I have been blessed with some degree of creativity and talent. I have been blessed to be a part of creative events and meet creative women. I am so thankful to have an outlet for all the ideas that are running around in my brain all day long!

I am blessed and thankful for the mundane...the Grocery Shopping, the laundry, the pick-up/drop off for sports practices, the house cleaning. Without these things it would mean no food to eat, no clothes on our backs, no home to clean and no little people in our lives.



Today I give Thanks for all the "Dailies" of my life....all the things we forget to be thankful for!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Offerings ~ Part 2

Sometimes Blessings come in different packages...sometimes the blessings are not always wrapped in ribbons and pretty shiny papers.
This place is a blessing I never thought I would have to be Thankful for! Ronald McDonald houses offer a comfortable environment for those who are going through a very uncomfortable time. Our family has been fortunate enough to stay in one of their facilities....I say "fortunate" because they are sadly, always packed and difficult to get into, but without the Ronald McDonald house our family would have been separated for an extended period of time when we REALLY needed to be together.
I FIRMLY believe in this charity and always throw some extra change their way. You would be amazed how even a little bit of money can make a difference!

If you are feeling so inclined, please show some love and support to this wonderful charity!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Offerings

I have been blessed to be wrapped up in Silver Bella excitement for the past few weeks, but with Thanksgiving approaching this week I wanted to take some time to GIVE and be THANKFUL.

Things have been difficult since losing our business a few months ago, but we are still more fortunate than others and I will not ever forget that.

My blessings are abundant in life~Beautiful children, a home that keeps us warm and cozy and a husband who comes home from work every day.

I like to support charities that are in my own "backyard" so to speak and I like to give to charities that are important to me. Here is one that I want to share with you.....


Visit the Share our Strength website to see how you can help!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Silver Bella Part 1 ~ The Ladies

Silver Bella was wonderful! I had so much fun ~ I came home with no voice...my excitement and wee bit of nervousness about being at this event made me partially crazy, lol. Being my first year and participating in swaps, worrying about my contributions to the swaps, packing and all the other extra stuff that goes on before hand had me pretty much in a frenzy the entire time I was there. I am sure that my little hummingbird wings were out the entire time!
This will be my first Silver Bella post...I want to showcase some of the wonderful ladies I met and then I will show you my projects...Some of these pictures are from other sources because I was so excited that I didn't really take many pictures!! Plus, I had to sacrifice my big camera for the sake of a crown that I needed to travel with. OH...the Silver Bella Sacrifices!

My classes were wonderful ~ I took classes from amazing teachers and stretched myself to learn a few new skills! I made wonderful new friends!
Jill and I...she is by far one of the sweetest people I have ever met! I LOVE her...and she was my swap partner for our inspiration box swap...INCREDIBLE!!! Hope Ellington, Jill Sibbald and myself. We were all swap partners in Heather's B/W petite inspiration boxes ~ Friday night was Vendor Night and "Hats on Parade"...Kaari Meng of French General...she is awesome!!!!! I am dying to go on the French Chateau trip with her. Charlotte Lyons...(Day one) I loved her class, it was fun ~ relaxing ~ and she is so sweet and down to earth!

There were many other wonderful women that I didn't get pictures of...guess I better go stalk some blogs and get some pictures!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I have returned from the Fabulous Silver Bella!

I brought home so many great things....new friends, new skills, new ideas....and a little bit of a cold.
I have so many things to share with you....(not the cold of course) and plan on doing so tomorrow.
Right now, I have a excited little girl that is craving some one-on-one time with her mama and a slight bit of chaos to attend to in the house. Amazing what being gone for 4 days can do to your relatively clean house...
I will share this one picture with you...the smile on my face and the crown on my head are a definite indication of the fun that was had!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Just Listen....

No words tonight...just listen......

Actually....you might need to scroll down and press pause on my play list to enjoy this beautiful song...

Hope your as inspired as I was by this song...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sneaky....Peaky....

I have surfaced for a moment to bring you a sneak peak of what I have been working on. In exactly 1 week from now, like right now, I will be attending Silver Bella and exchanging wonderful trinkets and goodies with fabulous women. I am over the moon excited...seriously....


Here are a few of the things that I have been working on. Hope you enjoy...

Back to work...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Inspired Ideas, Christmas Issue

I am SOOO blessed and excited and over the top giddy....PLEASE take the time to look through it!
Amy Powers has put forth a tremendous amount of time on this - and it is absolutely beautiful!! Enjoy!


Enjoy!

Halloween in a Nutshell

Halloween is Over...I missed our last installment of Frightful Friday..Sorry!
Bonfires, Costumes, Costume Changes, Last minute plans...all in all...a GREAT Time!
Mr. Monopoly...completely his idea! Loved it!
A Billionaire....oh, how I wish we had one of those!!And...the cutest little Fairy in all the land!

We also had a 80's Teenager..but no pictures to show of it!

PS: This years costumes...total cost...under $20.00