Thursday, December 26, 2013

How the Grinch Saved Christmas

I was convinced that Christmas was going to be ruined.  We found out with one week to go that our two oldest children couldn’t make it home.  Their new jobs, and starving college student budgets led them to the decision to stay put and earn all the $ holiday hours working that they could get.  So for the first time in 23 years I didn’t have my whole family at home with me.  My heart was heavy and tight.  I felt like the Grinch.

My inspiration for Christmas I found in a magazine.  It made me nervous, yet I was eager to try.  My husband and I have long felt that experiences are what you remember and not gifts.  So every year our Christmas has a different theme…  Disney, Danish, Pioneer, Give-Away, etc.  This year’s theme was,  ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas!’  So I became the Grinch.

We forced our children to set through the classic cartoon version a few days before and both my husband and I read the story to our younger girls a couple of times during the month of December.  Christmas Eve came with the accustomed Pajama’s and Ornaments. 

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Would have loved Grinch PJ’s, but the stores were all out.  We were able to get the kids different Grinch Character Ornaments.

Christmas Eve was fantastically traditional as we sat through readings of the Nativity and ‘The Cremation of Sam Magee?’  And why that poem is traditional is an entirely different post.

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The kids helped put out their stockings, label their chairs, and leave a treat for Santa and his reindeer.

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Our Home felt Magical.

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Then the kids when to bed and the Grinch came to visit.

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So when the kids arose Christmas morning they found everything Christmas gone.  EVERYTHING!  Including our outdoor lights.

They were not too happy.

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They let us know they were not liking this experience.

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But Hope was Not Entirely Lost!  They found 7 bags and this note by the fireplace.

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To:  The Who’s named FawnDear’s Herd

He stuffed Christmas in bags.  Oh, that Grinch, very nimbly, stuffed all the bags, one by one, up your chimbley!   He took every present you wrapped up with glee.  And yes, he himself, took your Christmas tree!   You must help him to realize that Christmas means more,      than presents, and wrappings and things from a store.  Let’s help his small heart to not be so darn tight,    by giving some cheer to some homeless in plight.    So off to Seattle, you must travel right now.   I know you are asking, what, who, when, and HOW?   Find seven poor people whose budgets are tight,   and give them a bag full of goodies they’ll like.    That ought to do it, his heart will grow quick.  Scurry back home, and you may meet St. Nick.Max_the_Reindeer_Dog_by_bechedor79

Sincerely,  Max

 

In the bags we found chap stick, gloves, McDonalds gift cards, A Candy Cane, Chocolate Santa, tissue and a Picture of Christ.  To the bags we added hand warmers, bottled water and a fresh orange.  Then we left for Seattle. 

Here is where nerves kicked in.  I was nervous,  I’m a lousy judge of people, and my thoughts drifted to all the horrible new stories you seldom hear on the news.  What would we find, how would people react?

I was shocked by how many homeless there were.  Bundled up in Sleeping bags, blankets and tarps.  Within minutes our bags were gone.  And even those we didn’t have enough for wished us a Merry Christmas and God’s blessing.  They were so grateful for our meager little bags.  Our hearts all grew!  Little 8 year old Hope said, “We should do this every year and not because of the Grinch.  We should just do it because.”  I agreed with her. 

All too soon our trip was done as we headed back to our empty home.  And you know if that was the end of my day I felt richly blessed, but it wasn’t.

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Back at home we found our Christmas Activity Elves on the couch with another letter that read.’

‘Thank you for thinking of other poor folks.  See it wasn’t that hard, and you didn’t  choke.    You shared your hearts, found some Christmas Love… brought Holiday cheer and blessings from above.   The Grinch’s heart grew and your holiday’s back.  But the Sneak, hid those goodies he stuffed in his sack.   In the back yard, look by the gate,  for he left part of his load there, for Goodness Sake!   Your gifts to each other that were covered with bows, are hidden in baskets under some clothes.   The presents from Santa are somewhere quite warm,  near the furnace, don’t worry – They came to no harm.  Under the porch three items are near,  a Manger of Straw, and two white reindeer.   Someone strong like the Grinch should be able to shift,    two bookcases near the window to find some more gifts.         Merry Christmas.

So Christmas came back.  The kids loved searching for all the places that the Grinch hid their presents.  We were finding them well into the evening. 

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And when the neighbor boy stopped by to play in the afternoon.  Guess what?  My girls didn’t regale him with what Santa brought for Christmas.  Instead they told him about their amazing experience with The Grinch.

And to make it a near perfect Christmas we Skyped with my boys!  I love the Grinch.

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Toodles,

FawnDear

Monday, January 28, 2013

14 Days of Valentine Love

February is fast approaching and I thought I’d share our plans for Valentines Day.  Maybe, I should clarify.  14 Days of Valentines.  This isn’t your typical candy heart variety of Valentines.  It’s 14 activities that you can do with your family to promote love and appreciation.  The older our kids get the more we realize that it’s not the gifts or handouts they remember but the experiences.  So here are some hands-on Valentine fun – In random order.

Day 1:  Set up a Valentine Station like this one by RibbonWoodCottage. 

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You could even have pre-addressed cards to grandparents, cousins, and far-away friends.  Then, when-ever someone get’s a hankering to spread some love, everything is ready to go.

Day 2: Surprise someone with a Paper Heart Attack.  The non-lethal kind where you cut out and decorate paper hearts and then go stick them to a friendly someone’s door, like this one over at A Mom Knows.

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Day 3:  Have Dinner by Candlelight.  Pull out your fine china, dress up the table and have dinner by candlelight.

Day 4: Go on a Heart Walk.  I love this idea.  Go on a walk and look for heart shaped rocks like all of these people over HERE.

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Find that local rocky beach or river walk and see how easy it is to find these rocks of love.  The point being is that when you look for love, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you find it.  That and walking is good for your heart too.

Day 5:  Plant a Giving Tree.  Read ‘The Giving Tree’ by Shel SilverStein.

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I love this book.  It’s so appropriate for Valentines Day too.  Follow-up your read by planting an apple seed and placing it in a sunny window. Potato Wings tells you how over here at Instructables.

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Day 6:  Make Valentines for all your friends at school or work.  Don’t wait until the night before.  Start now.  Pinterest and Blogland are covered with so many fun and easy ideas for making valentines I’ll leave this one open for you to research.  I did find these goofy ones you could give co-workers over HERE. 

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Day 7:  Valentine Movie Marathon.  Watch your favorite movies about Love.  Here are some of our family’s favorites. 

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The Princess Bride, Up, Wall-E, Ever After, Stardust, Shrek, Anastasia, Rapunzel, Lady and the Tramp, Enchanted, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, etc. 

Day 8:  Don’t Eat Cupid.  This is a fun version of the Don’t Eat Santa game.  Sugardoodle has a version and instructions HERE.

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Day 9:  Have Secret Cupid Come. 

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I loved this idea over at How Does She.  Print up some hearts and hand them out to your family.  How Does she has some fun ideas of secret service you can give each other.  Love it.

Day 10:  Bake Heart Shaped Cookies.  It’s time to head for the kitchen.  Bake your favorite sugar cookie, decorate them and share with your neighbors.

Day 11:  Decorate Valentine Shirts for the family.  Here are a couple of cute ideas.  For the Girls you can check out Adoily-able t-shirt over at Spoonful HERE.

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And not to forget the boys, BeDifferentActNormal has some fun ideas HERE.

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Day 12:  Valentine Theater.  Dress up for an evening at the live theater.  Live theater performed in your very own home, that is. Starring your family.

Make this cute Valentine Theater found Here.

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You may want to pre-make this one.  Then have your kids help make some valentine puppets like these found HERE.

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You may want to make them a bit smaller than explained in this post, but I love the idea.  Then let the kids plan a puppet show and put it on for the family.

Day 13:  Love Potion Number 9

Mommy by Day, Crafter By Night has 14 Day’s of Valentine Printables.  I happen to love her day 4 HERE.

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To include the family in the Activity.  Have them help make these potions.  Another fun idea would be to have them make a berry smoothie with their favorite red berries.

Day 14:  Make a 14 little booklet like this one.   Make one for each member of the family.   I stuck to 14 pages because we have a large herd.  Just use Cardstock and Ring Clips.

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Again, involve the whole family.  Supply stickers, decorative paper, glue sticks and colored pens and have them write/decorate something they love about each other in that persons specific book. 

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Craftster had some cute ideas of what to put in the book.  Check them out HERE. 

Other ideas include: 

Have a Valentine’s day Tea with heart shaped sandwiches and scones. 

Make Friendship Bracelets. 

Leave Secret Admirer notes to your local service providers thanking them for the admirable way they do their job.

Sing Sweetheart songs at your local nursing home.

Listen to Love Songs All Day

Paint your Fingernails for the Heart Holiday.

Push back the furniture and ballroom dance to love songs. 

And so much more.

Just Remember this year and Always.  Love is spelled T-I-M-E!

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You can find this download HERE.

Tootles, FawnDear

P.S.  Special Thanks to my Prince Erik who started this whole  14 day idea years ago.  See HERE.

Linking to…

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Re-furbished Dining Room Chairs

In trying to rid the Dining Room of the Blah-Brown phase we decided to try our hands at reupholstering the dining room chairs.  Now don’t get me wrong the fabric was durable and fabulous for hiding the occasional food spillage.  It was the overwhelming brown of every piece of furniture that prompted this change.

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Changing out the material is a whole lot less expensive than buying new chairs and less time consuming than painting the wood.

I chose a blue weave upholstery material that I found fairly inexpensive at Fabric.com .  Maybe spent around $5.98 per yard and used around 3 1/2 yards to cover eight chairs.  What I loved about the site was the fact that you could buy sample swatches on the cheap so I could see the colors before investing in a bunch of yardage.  That, and they were the quickest at shipping out of four different fabric stores that I ordered online from.  So the cost of repurposing all eight chairs was less than $20.

Supplies needed:  Upholstery fabric, scissors, staple gun and staples, pliers and something to pry up old staples, and a screwdriver.

First unscrew the padded part of the chair from it’s base.

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Once it’s separated from the chair notice how the material is folded and stapled to the base.  You’ll probably want to make similar folds on your new cushion.

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Whoever constructed my chairs used a lot of staples (curse them). 

So then, you can either spend a lot of pry-time working out the staples, (I found pliers and a can tab opener to be my best friends for this job)…or

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cut off as much of the old material as possible.  I ended up using this method on 7 of my 8 chairs.  Decided this option after spending 1 1/2 hours removing the staples from just one chair.

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Then I flipped the wood over so that the old material would be on the top inside of the new pad.  I’ll explain this in a bit.

I reused the cushion because I was too cheap to go buy new and the old cushion was still in pretty good condition.  Then I cut out my new material using  the material from the first chair (which I unstapled) as a pattern.    Place the material (right side down) and put it on the floor.  Then added the foam (top side down) on top of the material and finally added the wood chair base (pretty [unstapled] side up).  Like this.

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Once it’s all laid out you can trim the excess material off.  I even went a little further and cut out some small triangles in the corners to the fabric wouldn’t bunch up too much.

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In before stapling the material to the wood base I folded a tiny edge so as to give  the material more durability when being stapled.  I could just imagine the staple pulling through the weave.  So folding seemed like the right thing to do.  Plus, it looks nicer should anyone decide to plop themselves on your floor and look at the underside of your chair seats.  Ha, like that will happen.

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Then start stapling away.  I stapled side to side then back to front leaving the corners until last. 

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Here’s my tip.  You can do all of this on your own – However, if you really want a smooth nice corner, enlist a friend to help with the stapling.  That way one person can hold the material to the proper tauntness (love making up new words), while the other staples away.  Ms. Passion helped me.   Thanks  to her the chairs turned out great.

Instead of gathering the corner and showing pleats when decided to try the method used by whomever it was that put my chairs together in the first place.  Ms. Passion called the fold a diaper fold.

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It involves making tiny gathers on the underside of the seat while stretching the top side so that no gathers or pleats are visible.  

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The final fold is what Ms. Passion called the diaper fold.    Once in place so that your corner looks great from the upper side, staple away.

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We tackle the back corners of the chair first (less visible and more practice) and then worked on the front corners.  It was a little time consuming and took both of us around 8 hours spread out over three days.  A couple of the seats we ended up taking apart and trying again because the cushions had shifted while we were stretching the material.  But the finished project was gratifying.  You would never know they were a re-do.  Once the cushion meets your approval screw it back on to the chair.  Go slowly so that if the screw happens to catch a thread it won’t pull.

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That’s it – You’re done!  And the final approval was immediately recognized by my fat cat Pumpkin.  He seems to think every new surface in my home is a brand new bed made just for him.

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So from this…

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to this  (Yeah, no more brown)…

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Believe me, they will look great in my new dining room.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nintendo DS Organizer Tutorial

I decided to make an organizer for my family’s Nintendo DS.  Same building principles could be used to make organizers for a Game-boy, or PSP, or about anything small.  Think in girly colors it would also hold small toys like Pet Shop Pet’s or Polly Pockets.  You determine the size you want.

Too simple to make. 

Supplies needed:  A recycled box, ruler, permanent pen, exacto knife, matching duct tape, button, elastic, material.  I used a bulk brownie box because it was a bit more durable than a cereal box and still not too bulky.

First guesstimated using game pieces how deep the box would have to be.  I then used a ruler and sharpie to draw my cutting lines.

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I cut only the front and two sides with a Sharpie knife.  You’ll see why later.  

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So it looked like this. 

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Here’s my learning curve.  I had notched the corners because I originally intended to have a small lip folding over on those front three sides (you’ll see that in some of the pictures).  I ended taking off those folded over lips when I covered the box later.  They got in the way and were a Nuisance.  However I did learn not to just try and fold the cardboard because it doesn’t fold in a straight line.  So, where ever you have a fold, first lightly score that fold with your exacto knife.

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The long back of the box I scored and then folded over the front.  Marking the excess that I could cut off.

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In order for it to not be as bulky I also took out excess pieces of cardboard and re-enforced edges with a little strip of tape.

With the cardboard left over from the main box I cut a piece perfect for the inside bottom.  I’m not giving measurements because it all depends on the size of box you want to build.  However, make sure you measure twice before you cut.

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I also wanted a few dividers.  So, measuring the height of the inside of the box (allowing for a padded bottom), I cut some extra strips of cardboard.  Leaving a little over a half an inch on each side to bend and secure it to the inner walls.

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Remember to score the cardboard with your knife, where ever you need to fold it.  Use your game pieces to determine the sizes, leaving enough room around their edges to take them out.

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I happened to have an imitation leather jacket that one of my sons had worn through.  The lining was in shambles and the collar was duct taped to hide the cracks.  It was heading to the dump.  But, then I thought that I could re-use the material for small bags and boxes like this one.  Oh, the joys of being a craft hoarder,  saving trash for a new life.  I suppose you could use any material you have laying around.  Might want to add a thin layer of batting if you material is super thin.

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The quilted lining of the coat provided just what I wanted for the bottom of my organizer.  So, I took the lining and cut a piece large enough to go over the bottom cardboard insert piece.

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Here’s another learning curve.  I tried first gluing it on.  Didn’t hold too well so I turned to the duct tape again to hold the lining to the bottom side of the cardboard that no one would see.

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Then I cut a piece of the faux leather from the back of the coat and made sure I had enough (with a little extra, mine was almost too little) for the entire outside of the box.

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Using coordinating (black) duct take I was able to tape the leather to the box.  I would fold it over the sides and tape it in.

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Not sure how to explain how to trim the leather.  But where ever there were corners I made sure to trim so there wouldn’t be bunches of material wadded up.

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The sides were the trickiest.  First I taped a small section of the front and back to the cardboard, then I folded the side sections up and over that taped section.  I even used a little glue to secure the leather would stick to the cardboard.

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Once the leather was secured to the outside of the box, I filled in the remaining inside area of the flap with more duct tape.  Trying to make the tape lay as smooth as possible.  Then I placed the lined cardboard in the bottom of the box.

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The box is pretty sturdy and baring some child stepping on it should hold up quite well.

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The dividers are what I added next.  First, I put matching (of course duct tape on one side.  Then, the next piece of duct tape that I used for the other side of the cardboard strip, well, I cut it a wee bit longer so the tape could hold the folded edges to the inside walls of the box.  Don’t know if that made any sense, but it involves using duct tape to adhere the dividers into their positions.

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Then I filled up the sections of my new organizer.  Yeah.

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To the front of the flap I sewed on a button.  I’m sure you could use Velcro too.  I just wanted to use what I could find laying around.  I also had a thin string of elastic.  I had to use a black permanent pen to color it black because it was white to begin with.

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Tie a know in the elastic and loop it around the button.  Then stretch it around the box and loop it back over the button from the opposite direction.

And there you have it.  A mini-organizer to keep those game pieces and stylus’s from getting lost.

It can be stored in almost any position.  Here it is in a cubby of my china hutch.

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I think you could also decorate this box using Mod-Podge and decorative paper.  I lined a Hidden Book compartment with Mulberry paper and Mod Podge once and it turned out terrific too.  Let your imagination guide you.  I made this organizer when I heard about the recycled box challenge here. 

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That and I also needed a cheap way to organize some kid stuff.

Happy Crafting.