Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gifted (12/20/11)

One of the lovely friends from our homeschool group had the brilliant idea of having a Secret Santa exchange among the moms this year. Many of us would really like to “do a little something" for each of our friends at this time of year, but have budgetary constraints. And many of us would really like to “craft a little something" for each of our friends, but have time constraints. So, this really helped each of us feel we have gifted something unique and memorable to ONE of our dear friends, without busting the budgetary and temporal budgets, and in a way that was appreciated by the bulk of our lovely group.

And, I have to say, everyone guessing who their Secret Santa was, was one of the best parts of this exchange. There are those of who have known one another for several years, and know exactly what one another’s talents are. And, there are those who are relatively new to the group, or that we don't know every well, and really don't know what their talents are. But in the end, through a process of trial-and-error and "knowing" guesses, we each figured out who our Secret Santa was.

So, apologies in advance to those whose lovely gifts were not appropriately photographed. Not everyone was able to attend our exchange today. And, for those whose gifts were represented, I mostly suck as a photographer, but I did my best.

In general, some of my favorite gifts to give and receive are consumables. This one was a "spa" theme, with a lovely hand-knitted item to make it extra special. The knitted items just “happened” to match the recipient’s bathroom d├ęcor.

Those of us who knit have been mysteriously focused on fingerless gloves. So, one of us made some lovely lavender ones, along with the most fabulous felted bag made from a wool sweater. It kind of says a lot when you can look at a knitted item, recognize the pattern, and figure out who knitted it ;)

Our Master Photographer created a custom calendar which was absolutely spectacular. Not just that the photography was spectacular, but each print was taken from a field trip taken with the recipient's family, or of her absolutely beautiful girls. Every single print was absolutely frame-able. I want a calendar like that!

Please excuse the paltriness of this photo, but this gift was a really fabulous collection of hand-made cards, all of them with the thingy-hoochie-dealy-bobs that scrapbookers are fluent in, and which I have absolutely no clue how to use or assemble. The use to which I would put this collection....really...so lovely...I'm so jealous, because I actually write notes to people! ;)

One of the sweetest, really. Lovely little napkins, just perfect for coffee or tea or a small snack. Mom doesn't sew, but her young daughter does, and put these together. Love, love, LOVE these!

This basket was absolutely OVERFLOWING with wonderful goodness, most especially those "cookie/soup/goodie in a jar" dealies that I have never had the patience to assemble myself, but have loved each time I receive one (and then some!). I know what someone will be having for breakfast on Christmas morning!

This little sun-catcher was crafted by someone whose sun-catchers grace both my home and my vehicle. (It was kind of humorous watching the recipient try to guess the crafter while one of the crafter’s sun-catchers quietly hung from my window just behind the recipient’s head ;) The pendant is a lovely two-sided piece with a dragon on one side and a phoenix on the other. The colors are fabulous!

Finally, my own little stash of goodies, complete with “Mama Bear” coffee mug (how sweet is that?!?). The frozen “hot chocolate balls” I have hidden in the furthest frozen reaches of the full-sized freezer (top shelf in the back corner where the kids won’t find it), just waiting for a night of insomnia. Drop one of those puppies in my Mama Bear mug of hot milk, with just a dash (or two) of Baileys, and I’ll be snoring til dawn. The chocolate biscotti’s I’ve already sampled, and WOW! I might just have to hide those away and ration then throughout the dark winter months as midnight snacks. And just in case you’re wondering, I’m NOT sharing! Unless you’re a special friend (and aren’t you all?) and happen to be in my bedroom at 3:00 am when I’m snagging one ;)

One of the best parts of our little gathering (aside from the wonderful company) was the pile of home-made eatables brought and shared by one of our friends. Lots of yummy goodness!

Thank you, ladies, for a very enjoyable day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Accidental Tradition

You know how, back when you didn't actually have any children, you had these visions of all of the lovely family traditions you would create/discover/carry forward once you had kids? And then you had kids. And, somehow, traditions were born that absolutely did NOT receive the Mother's Stamp Of Approval, but they somehow manage to keep popping up year after year? This is one of those traditions.

I'm not sure exactly how it started. Okay, yes, I do know exactly how it started. It started with me stupidly taking our youngest child to a craft store after all of the Christmas Stuff had been put out on display (probably sometime in July). Said child spotted the Build Your Own Gingerbread House kit prominantly displayed in one of those Stacked Cube O Merchandise that you bump your cart into in the middle of the largest aisle in the store. And, of course, "we" had to buy it.

I say "we" because I, personally, was somewhat horrified by the thought of what, exactly, was in that "gingerbread", and how long it had been sitting in a warehouse. The oh-so-low price of $9.99 did not inspire confidence in the nutritional value of said gingerbread. But, after me saying "no" about 14 times, and running out of viable arguments against taking one of these kits home, said child and I agreed to a compromise whereby he paid for said kit with his allowance.

That was a few years ago, and, somehow, now I am paying for kits (yes, that would be a noun in the plural). And I even allow my children to EAT said kits after they have been assembled.

So, here's what this year's Gingerbread House Project looked like, with SIX kids assembling it.

Phase One: Using copious amounts of icing, assemble the structural elements of said house, preferably letting said icing on each stage solidify before moving on to next stage.

Phase Two: Kids all agree on overall design of house, and who will be implementing each aspect of said design.

Just kidding. Actually, I assigned Thomas (the eldest of six Cubs) the task of applying concrete.....ummmmm, I mean icing....to each bit of candy, as said candy was presented for icing by each child in turn, beginning with the youngest and progressing through the Pack to the oldest, then repeat. Miraculously, this actually worked, with minimal adult supervision.

Thomas weilding icing cone, and offering suggestion as to placement.

The beginnings of a plan.

Okay, at this point I had to run out to take the dog to the vet (whole other, way long story), so I missed the bulk of the Decorating Phase. But, when I returned, the masterpiece had been completed, and no blood had been shed (that I could see). The entire project seems to have been a success.....

Front of house.

Side of house.

Other side of house.

And, best of all......the garage!

Good job, Bear Cubs!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Craft Day at The Park

Our homeschool group's usual Tuesday Park Day was a bit unusual today.

It wasn't just that we had almost every family in the group there (I think we had 14 families there?!?).

This certainly wasn't unusual....

A gaggle o' moms.

This was a little bit unusual for our family...

One too many cupcakes.

Nope, this isn't unusual, either....

Babyman showing off his find...

...a lady bug on a stick.

Nuthin' unusual about a flock of boys...

Gathered around the go-cart.

There really wasn't even anything all that unusual about someone stopping to ask if we were having a knitting class, since the majority of moms were knitting (or crocheting) something as we visited.

But, THIS was a bit unusual...

Ms. G. orchestrating craft time!

Ms. G. brough along bunches of clear glass ornaments, fancy markers, and paint, and helped each child decorate their own holiday ornament.

Finished products!

Thank you, Ms. G., for all for the time and effort you put into this fantastic project. And, thank you to all the mamas who brought snacks to share. Very nice day!