Friday, December 23, 2011

Nativity Craft

Surprise, Surprise... I found this craft on Pinterest!!  It actually turned into two Pinterest crafts in one.  I am so pleased with how this turned out; I think other than my first yarn wreath, this may be my favorite craft I've made. And the best part? I used everything I already had. This craft didn't cost me a thing!

Here is the link to the original:  As you can see, hers is a bit more subtle in the colors, but it is quite beautiful. I personally went a bit more Christmasy. I also didn't have the vinyl stencils she was talking about. I'll show you what I did instead.

1. I was going to go to the craft store for some wooden blocks, but I noticed some spare 2x4s the hubby had in the garage. Since this wood isn't really "nice" enough to build something substantial, like furniture, it was actually perfect for this craft. That's the key, if you are buying wood to use, it doesn't have to be expensive. This is a craft that is OK to look a bit rustic and since it doesn't have to be super sturdy (no one is sitting on it), cheap is OK. It did require a bit of sanding, though, and it was on the dry side, so it took a few coats of paint. Truth be told, the edges of the red blocks could use another swipe of the brush.
I had my husband cut out 9 2" blocks, 1 3" block, and 3 5" blocks from his 2x4. For the stable, I needed something a bit taller, so he cut two 12" pieces off of a plank and glued them together. *Please keep in mind that if you do this, it will have to set overnight* He was trying to talk to me in "Home Depot" speak, but I wasn't following. Basically, I was only concerned with the space on the front face, where the images are going to be. As long as that is big enough and the width is wide enough for the block to stand up, I'm happy. After they are cut, sand them to your satisfaction, depending on how "rustic" you want yours to look.
2. Paint the fronts your main color. I chose a cream color, the original project made the blocks different colors. You can do whatever you prefer. Let them dry and if you need another coat, go for it. After the fronts were covered and dry, I painted the sides either red or green (sorry, I guess I forgot a photo of that step.)
 3. This is where second Pinterest craft came in. I used this idea for transfering images onto wood from this blog: That tutorial is GREAT, especially if you are looking to create something vintage looking. However, for this particular project, I thought the images came out way too light. I could barely see them. So I just used the image that did make it onto the block as a stencil and filled it in with black paint. The stable I did freehand because that is basically just straight lines.

4. I used puffy paint to write "Oh Holy Night" at the top. I thought of other things too like "For Unto Us a Child is Born" or just "A Child is Born" or "Joy to the World" but I love the song "Oh Holy Night" and I think it is just the most perfect way to describe the Nativity setting.

5. This little star is also something I had in my crafting supplies and just painted it a simple gold color. I used the same gold puffy paint I used for the letters to add little accent lines to the star. Then I just used my trusty glue gun to attach it to the top. You could probably put it anywhere. Since I was putting it right on the top, I made sure to add a little glue to the back for stability.
6. That's it! You're done! It seems like a lot of work, but I actually got it done in an afternoon (well, technically my husband cut out the blocks the night before). It's cute, right?

Happy Crafting and a very Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas wreath and garland

I am such a fan of Christmas! I love, love, love it!! I love decorating my family room, hanging our stockings by the chimney with care, putting up our wreath, decorating our tree. It is so beautiful!  This year I finished with the everyday decor in the den, so I needed something to put in there. JoAnn's was having a HUGE sale on Christmas decorations so I went crazy and this is what I came up with:

1. Gather your supplies

2. I used a foam wreath. Normally I don't use this particular kind because they are a bit pricey and you can make them cheaper by using plumbing foam instead, but since they were 50% off and I didn't want to make a trip to the hardware store (not like my husband couldn't have used the excuse!) I went ahead and got it. The extra long plain garland was also on sale, so the combo was cheaper than buying a pre-made plain wreath. I just kept wrapping the garland around the wreath, gluing as I went, and it got bigger and fuller as I wrapped. Don't worry if there are extra spaces, you'll cover them up with fun stuff.

3. I rummaged through the flowers and the mini decoration bins and found a bunch of cute things to put on my wreath. The little peppermint candies and the berries were 50% off and only .79 to begin with! What a steal!

4. Using the same garland... well, the same type, obviously a different garland! I doubled it up to make it fuller. I glued randomly down the line so it would stick together.
5. I used the same theme for the garland as I did for the wreath. For the berries, I got a garland of red beads and loosely wrapped it around the garland. I placed all my accessories and when I was happy with the results, I glued everything down. I made two of these.
6. To hang them up on the window box, I re-bent some ornament hooks that I already had (.99 for a box of way more than I need!) and made them into double-ended hooks, one end hooked over the top of the window box and the other hooked outward for the garland to hang on. To hand the wreath, I used the 3M Command wreath hanger that will just come right off when the holidays are done. The hook can be used over and over again, just with new sticky stuff.

7. I was very pleased with the results and it is something I can put out every year!

What Christmas crafts are you doing this year?

Merry Christmas and happy crafting!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nostalgic for Christmas Movies

Ah, Christmas... I LOVE this time of year. It is my absolute favorite. I love the lights and the colors and the warm feelings despite the chill in the air. I love Christmas music, but what I really love are the movies.

Yep, I watch Christmas movies all season long, almost always starting with Love Actually. The ones on Lifetime, Hallmark, or ABC Family are my current favorite and guilty pleasure, bonus points if they include Dean Cain as a cocky Scroogey rich who unexpectedly falls in love with a down-on-her-luck girl who changes his whole world view, all thanks to the magic of Christmas.

I love the classics like Miracle on 34th Street (Natalie Wood edition), It's a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn and White Christmas.

Lately I have been feeling nostalgic for the children's classics I enjoyed growing up. JJ is about the right age to start enjoying them too and I am loving being able to relive them with him. My friend said it best: "Having kids is like having a time machine." This year, we've been watching "Mickey's Christmas Carol" "Frosty the Snowman" "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Charlie Brown Christmas."

When I was a kid, we had a VHS tape of a bunch of Christmas specials taped off the television. It included the ones above and also a few others like "Smurf's Christmas" "Muppet Family Christmas" "A Mouse, A Mystery, and Me" (bonus points if you remember that one! You can watch it below, thanks to Google Video!), and "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (I just saw that one at Costco today and I am kicking myself for not buying it!). I was just telling my brother that I wish we had kept that video so we could have converted it to DVD now. I get nostalgic for it every year.

Thank you Disney, Jim Henson, and Raskin Bass for giving me great childhood memories that I can pass on to my own children.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Art of Marriage

Sometimes someone says it just right and that is all that needs to be said about the matter:

“Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created. In the Art of Marriage, the little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say ‘I love you’ at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry. It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon; it should continue through all the years. It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives. It is standing together facing the world. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family. It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have the wings of an angel. It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is finding rooms for things of the spirit. It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and obligation is reciprocal. It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner."
- Paul Newman's letter to his wife on their wedding day