A crafty Christmas

Hi, Martha,

We missed you so much at Christmas. We thought we’d give you a little taste of some of the things we made for gifts and such.

Esther here. The holidays have left me exhausted! So many things to do and friends to see, and I’m off to a New Year’s gathering right now! But I do love seeing everyone and enjoying the time spent together. One thing I really enjoyed about this Christmas was making and receiving homemade gifts. I got homemade juice, apple butter, grape jelly, fancy handmade room-darkening curtains, and my parents are making us a coat tree / bench out of an old door! (See similarly themed furniture on Pinterest. The one below is on Pinterest and ours will be similar!)

IMG_0407.JPGAnd in terms of gifts I gave, I had a fun time adventuring with making earrings and wall decor. For the wall decor, I traced Pooh characters in AutoCAD and added quotes and thoughts about Jewel’s baby! We love him already.

IMG_0475.JPGThe earrings I made used pieces from old necklaces, wire, hot glue, and sterling silver earring backs from Michaels. Putting them together was definitely a challenge! But I’m happy with how they turned out:





IMG_0453.JPGIt’s so empowering to make things instead of buying them! I enjoy the saved money and the creative thought required. Hopefully I’ll be able to do more things like this in the future!

Jewel here: It was a homey homemade Christmas and I loved hearing people’s ideas for presents.All of the presents I got were wonderful and generous; I get so excited over things like WEN hair stuff, Mama Bee lotions and oils, and new make up and socks. I know that the home made things I’ll look back on in years to come and feel so touched by the gift all over again. While packing up and moving I found a sweet embroidered bookmark Esther made me a looong long time ago (you might have been 10 or 11?). I’ve started using it in the library books that I read every night. The other day I held it up and showed it to Kevin and just marveled at how sweet it was; it made me all verklempt to think about my little sister Esther embroidering it when she was so young.

SDC12248To save money this year I bought most of our gifts at Goodwill and then made some for the kids. I decided the stocking gift would be Christmas themed pj pants for pretty much everyone (Dad and Krestia got different stocking gifts) and it was really fun to see in them as we opened our presents! I even got Eve a little snowflake sleeper that she looked so precious in. Being thrifty is a good thing, and makes me feel successful, but I also can’t wait for the day that I have a Christmas budget and can buy the fun, luxurious, high quality gifts that I want to give my loved ones because they’re worth it! My happy medium will probably be a mixture of handmade and specially bought gifts, but as so many things in life, that goal can wait until we’re older ;-).

Baby bump for size comparison :-).
Baby bump for size comparison :-).

My kids gift was a small book that I sewed a cover for, embroidered “My Family” on the cover and put a ribbon in to keep it closed. The pages were filled with pictures of the family, and then two pages devoted to each family member (including pets!) showing a few pictures and a list of three or four things he or she liked to do. For example:

After Miriam opened it she loved to come back and read it throughout the day, laughing at different pictures or things people said they liked to do.

SDC12245Miriam: “Rachel likes a clean house?! I like making it messy.” 🙂 It was so fun to hear her talk about it, she said, “I can read this at home and then I won’t forget anyone!” It’s my hope Archer and Era will enjoy flipping through the pages of family and feel close to us, even though they’re far away.

Janna here: This whole winter break thing is fabulous. I’ve been pretty lazy with it, but along with recuperating from a busy semester (and catching up on Doctor Who) I found time to get some projects done for Christmas. One of the more fun projects was the Frozen-themed cape for Miriam. All it took was glittery fabric, which Mom helped me pick out, and an afternoon. I looked at a couple blogs for inspiration. This one probably helped the most, but mine was its own thing. It seems to be a success with its recipient. She wore it while coloring, dancing, reading, and of course while watching Frozen. Here is one of the better pictures of it in use, and I’ll totally admit to quietly asking Esther to straighten it out before I took the picture.

Miriam's capeI made chocolate covered bacon for everyone’s stocking, mostly based on this recipe. I just used chips, though, and hickory-smoked bacon from Wegmans. The stripey stuff is bittersweet chocolate with a mix of white and semisweet for the stripes, and the other is semisweet with hazelnut bits. Mmmmm, bacon. Bittersweet with stripes Semisweet with HazelnutsAnd finally, oh finally, I finished Esther and Marcus’s curtains. Yes, the same curtains that I gave to them in pieces last year for Christmas. It only took a year to finish them. Quality takes time. Or something like that. More like procrastination, major life changes, and working through the design issues (and mistakes) that kept coming up takes time. They were definitely a bigger project than I expected, and they aren’t perfect for sure, but I think they’ll do fine. The curtains have blackout fabric lining. As usual, I looked at several patterns and ended up doing some of my own thing, but I got most of my inspiration for backing and hanging here.

You can see the pattern and the back lining here.
You can see the pattern and the back lining.
and the hidden back tabs at the top here.
and the hidden back tabs at the top.

I didn’t even have them finished on Christmas day this year, but they were much closer. I finished them up in few days after the fact and took them up when we dropped of Jewel and Kevin before their return flight. I based the colors and size on the windows in Esther’s old apartment (you know, the one she lived in when I started the project) and they are small in the tall, beautiful windows in Esther and Marcus’s new place. They seem to work with another, longer curtain behind them and should hopefully work in smaller windows, should any future residences have them.

You should see that Miriam is getting good use out of the stocking that you knitted for her.

Before the stockings

She was so excited for Christmas. Having kids around helps keep the day fun. At different times, Jewel and I were both wearing the fingerless gloves you made for us, too, and we all really enjoyed looking through the new calendars you and BD sent. We missed you and are so glad that you are loving Ireland. I’m jealous of Mom and Dad’s trip. Hope you all have a grand time. I’m looking forward to hearing about it.

Love from all of us.

One thought on “A crafty Christmas

  1. Miriam still loves her cape! She wore it to the New Year’s party and told everyone “the best part is the glitter!” I managed to make peppermint bark this year–not much else handmade. I blame the baby. 🙂 I’m looking forward to starting some quilting someday, when I get a machine and space for it. Thanks for all your homemade gifts, sisters. Homemade is the best!

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