22 August 2014

A Simple Birthday Gift Garland

A dear friend of mine is having a birthday this weekend and I thought it would be a great time to pop a little surprise in the mail for her. I wanted to make something simple and making colorful little garlands for friends has become a fun hobby for me. It gives me a chance to play around with all the "candy" in my beauty-filled paper supply drawer. 

I thought something fall oriented would be a good option, so I perused printable graphics for fall themes like leaves and acorns. I ended up copying an acorn pattern off my computer, literally -- I put a piece of scratch paper up to my screen and traced it with a pencil. That saved me a sheet of good paper & printer ink, plus it made it really easy for me to size my pattern by just shrinking down my screen appearance by ten percent. Super easy.

I traced the top of the acorn in one spot and the bottom in another so I had a two-piece pattern to work with. I extended the top of the bottom half of the pattern so that I could glue the cap over the top of it more easily.

I wanted this garland to have a little sparkle to it, so I picked up some flat gold ribbon and decided to use olive green glitter paper as a background. The ribbon was the only thing I didn't already have on hand so a quick trip to the fabric store was needed.

When I make a garland I try to always create an odd number of pennants. That way there is a center pennant for the eye to focus on and it doesn't look too symmetrical. My usual plan is to use nine to eleven pennants on a garland. This works out to be just perfect for hanging across a mantle. This time I went with nine.

The base brown paper is rectangles cut with a paper cutter to four inches by three inches. Then I just use scissors to notch the bottoms. I'm not exact on that part, but I like a little imperfection to keep things real. I used a circle punch to cut the perfect little circles from the green glitter paper.

Next I traced the acorn bottom nine times across the backside edge of a sheet of paper (so my pencil marks wouldn't be visible on the front side) and cut them all out with scissors. After that I did the same with the acorn caps.

Gluing came next and I experimented with school glue and even though I liked the adhesion I got with it, better than a glue stick, it was quite messy and hard to keep contained. So I went back to the glue stick and just tried to use a whole lot to keep things stuck together. Sometimes glue stick doesn't hold as well, but I do like that I have a little bit of time to re-position things before it dries hard.

Then I folded over the tops of each pennant and glued them to the ribbon. Keeping the ribbon flat so there are no twists in it is the hardest part of this procedure.

While the garland dried I whipped up a card using some coordinating paper and bringing in a similar circle and metallic theme. I also used the same brown paper that I used for the bases of the acorn to further tie things together. I couldn't find my gold metallic pen (rats!) so I went with silver. But it's trendy now to mix metallics, right?

I popped this all in the mail a few days ago and I hope it gets there on time. I hope it is a fun treat my friend will find in her mailbox just in time for her special day.

I have realized that I am doing a lot more creative projects lately. It's not that I have more free time but that I've been making more time. The best part is that I recognize that not only is it great for my soul but also that it's not taking anything away from the rest of my life to take that time out. This all plays into my self care goals and I really love that. Taking care of me really does make the rest of my life richer, happier, more peaceful - and I am more effective, creative and healthy.

Hope you are having a great day. Thanks so much for coming by.

21 August 2014

Our Back To School Feast Extravaganza

Can it really be back to school time already? I don't understand at all why our behemoth district chooses go to back to school in early August, but whatever....I firmly believe in going back to school around Labor Day! Amen.

This is our second year of doing a Back To School Feast which we held the Sunday night before last. You can see our first year feast here. I am so glad I went back and read through that post to remind me what I did, how it worked and what I said I would do differently.

Before I jump into anything I have to again thank Stephanie Nielson of NieNieDialogues for the inspiration for Back To School Feasts. You can see links to her yearly feasts here. She does an amazing evening for her kids the night before they go to school, something I had never even really thought about. So I am so grateful for her inspiration and shared wisdom on the subject.

When back to school happens the second week of August, while summer is just getting to full bloom it can be a bit of a shocker to the system! I want two more weeks at least, seriously! So it's a tight adjustment to wrap parents' heads around putting on a back to school feast so early in the month.

Here's how The Man and I break down the duties. I take care of any decorations and food, including this lovely crown for her to wear and a couple of posters. I also made dinner, which this year was her favorite meal: spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad. I made brownie sundaes for dessert - more on that here.

The Man takes charge of the evening's program and takes care of the coming up with and presenting the family theme for the school year.  He also offers a blessing for the kiddo for the upcoming year at the end of the evening.

Last year our family theme was Courage and Attitude. It was a great one. This year The Man and I discussed his ideas around self-reliance and hard work. These seem to be themes that are very present in our house these days.

It's a big transitional year from seven to eight years old we are finding -- at least in our family. This age seems to bring a little bit of an attitude and less willingness to help than we have seen in the earlier years. Yet at the same time it also brings a load more ability and need for personal responsibility.

So it was decided that teaching self-reliance and the importance of hard work would be very appropriate for this year. Here's the poster we used to present the theme for the year.

Each year we post this near her bed so that it's there as a reminder and opportunity for frequent teaching lessons as well. It's a good reminder to her but also to us as parents to remember our goal to teach those values and attributes.

Being self-reliant for us means kiddo is getting up half an hour earlier this year and doing a few, small chores before the school day. These include making her own lunch (with help from parents), making her bed, cleaning up the bedroom, unloading the dishwasher and personal scripture reading each morning.

The first morning of school she awoke, quite delighted at first, to see a beautiful welcome to the first day of school poster on the table next to her bed. She was a little less thrilled when she realized it was a glorified chore list, haha. I don't blame her!

But now it's there as a daily reminder of what she needs to do before school each morning and she can follow that along with very little parental involvement - which is great for everyone. She has been pretty fantastic as getting through the list each morning. There have been a couple of less than cheerful mornings, but we are finding that the appropriate amount of sleep is key to pleasant mornings.

Hard-work fits right in with these assignments. We've talked a lot the past couple of years about how everyone in the family has to contribute to the care and well-being of the family. The emphasis on hard work also extends to school work and after school lessons. Being diligent and having integrity in the work we do is important and so these values are on our list this year.

Teaching The Bug to work is also valuable because it is taking some small bits of work off of my and The Man's plates. It's great to have a third set of hands to help out in a more significant way around the house. It's amazing what having an empty dishwasher each morning has done to help keep the kitchen cleaner each day! Huge difference when everyone can just drop their dishes in during the day and then we can run it in the evenings.

This works best with all three of us at home. When it's just two of us, the dishwasher isn't quite full in one day, then it gets run at odd hours and times and that throws things into a bit of chaos. But being able to run it each night has been life-changing as far as work and mess go!

We are already well into our second week of school. Have the kids in your area started yet? Just think, summer break is just about 35 weeks away. Haha. I'd love to know what you do or did growing up to celebrate back to school at your house. I love hearing new ideas!


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