Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snow!

     We finally have snow!  After an unusually mild winter, it has turned cold and snowy.  The kids are ecstatic, and I have to admit that I am happy about it too.  The endless rain and mud was getting me a little down.
     Yesterday, we had what the kids call "snowman snow"; wet and sticky. They built a snowman, went sledding, and had snowball fights, until Samuel started dropping giant snowballs off the deck onto Abriel and Anna. They came in soaked and crying, and had to have a warm bath. 

     Today, after the snow we received last night, everything was powdery, cold, and crunchy.   The snowman's face had been obliterated.  Samuel and Abriel tried to spruce it up, but found that even the hat was frozen to it.

      They decided that today was a good snow ice-cream day, so Anna made a big batch after she had tended to the chickens.

    I am trying to ignore the fact that snow ice-cream is just dirty ice crystals.  I just hope she was really careful about where she got the snow. There's a lot of chicken poo around, hidden by the snow.  Hazards of free-range chickens.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Little Moomins

      I've been doing a little post Christmas crafting, now that I no longer have project deadlines looming over me.  I decided to make something that I've been wanting to for awhile; something just for fun.
     I loved the Moomintroll books as a teen, and still love reading them occasionally. I've always wanting to make little dolls of the characters.  There is something so endearing about them. I never could figure out how to make them, until I discovered needle felting,but it's only been recently that I felt my skill level was up to doing anything more than birds and mushrooms.
     So, here are my three favorite moomins, Moomintroll, Snufkin, and Little My.  Little My has always been my favorite, despite her naughtiness.
      Moomintroll is the only one who is completely needle felted. For the other two, I used a combination of techniques.  Other than the felted heads, they are made very similar to Sally Mavor's wee folk.
      Snufkins hands were particularly challenging.  I would have liked to have made Little My's the same, but it wouldn't have worked out, with her being so small. 
      It was a fun little project, but I'm not sure what I'll use them for. Maybe I'll attach strings to their heads, and use them as ornaments.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Anna at her concert

     Anna had her Christmas band concert last night.  She's been playing for about a year and a half, and she is doing so well.  Here is a picture showing her intense concentration.  
 
     I'm not sure who the girl in braids is, but Samuel informed me that he intends to marry her one day.  Of course, he says that about a lot of girls.

Summer in Winter

     It has been so unseasonably warm lately.  It's been in the sixties all week, and today it got up to seventy.  I mowed the yard in a tank top... in December!  It doesn't really feel like Christmas, but hey, I'm not complaining.  I hate the cold.  In fact, it felt so nice today, that I decided to have a little bonfire. 
     We roasted sausages and watched the flames as it got dark.  Listening to the sounds of the chickens bedding down for the night, and noting the absence of night noises, as it is after all, December, and all the insects know that. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree

  
     We got our Christmas tree this Saturday.  We always get it the first Saturday in December, although we usually end up decorating it a few days later.  This year we had to get a new stand, after not being able to find the stand that both Dave and I swore we bought last year.  Apparently we are both losing our minds, because there was no stand to be found anywhere. 
     After we finally got the tree put up, I realized we were down to only one strand of lights, so I had to get some of those before we could finally decorate.  I told the kids to do it a little differently this year.  We only put on the ornaments we really like, and the ornaments that no one was really crazy about, we would donate. 
     We all really enjoyed doing it this way.  After it was decorated it looked so pretty that the kids all begged to be allowed to sleep under it.  I usually let them do this at least once a year.  The patterns the lights make in the dark room are so magical, and the smell of the fir tree makes you feel all homey and safe. 

     After they finally fell asleep, I snuck in and took a couple of pictures.  Luckily the flash didn't wake them up.  Anna didn't want to sleep on the floor this year, because it's too hard.  I guess she's getting older.  It looks like Ginger Cat felt the same way.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Jesse Tree Ornaments Days 21-25

     Today is the first of December and the day we finally get to start our Jesse Tree devotionals.  I did get all the ornaments made in time. (Barely.) Yay!  I finished them today, and got our branch up.  It hasn't stopped raining since we've gotten back from thanksgiving traveling, so I gave up on it stopping long enough for me to cut a branch and take pictures, and had to take the pictures for the last five ornaments in the rain.  Our advent wreath is still bare because I haven't felt like collecting wet greenery in the rain.  I am really getting tired of all this rain.   Anyway, here are the final ornaments, and our Jesse Tree awaiting it's first ornament.


Day 21: Return to the Land

     This is suppose to be a wall, and it is just a little piece of wood with rocks glued on to it.  Easy and simple to do, but I like the way it looks.


Day 22: The Star
     This is made with wire.  The same difficult jewelers wire I used for the grapes.  This time as I was trying to wrangle with it, it whipped around and stuck into my pinkie.  It really hurt, and I will probably never make another wire ornament in my life, but... It did turn out pretty.  This is Anna's favorite one.


Day 23: Light of the World
     Next year I am going to get a real metal clip-on candle holder, but I was trying to spend very little money on the ornaments this year, so this is my makeshift replacement.  It's a wooden candle holder glued on to a clothes pin.  Not ideal, but I didn't have to buy anything for it.



Day 24: Angels Proclaiming the Coming of Jesus
     Angels are so hard to depict.  I don't like to make angels look like women, since that's not very biblical, but I still want to make them look ethereal.  That's why I love wool roving angels.  If only it held up better to touching.



Day 25: The Birth of Jesus
      The final ornament of course, is baby Jesus.  The "manger" is crocheted, and the baby is felted. 


      That's it for the ornaments, and now for the tree it's self.  Finding a place to put a tree and 25 ornaments is a real challenge in my little home, where every bit of space is already being utilized.  I had to move our toad to Anna's room, and the potted plants to the dining room, where I am hopping the will not die from lack of light until January. 
       I chose to have a bare branch for the Jesse Tree.  I thought a little fir tree right next to our big Christmas tree would look a bit silly. I hung some glass icicles on the branch to pretty it up until it gets its ornaments.  The ornaments are in the numbered bags at the base of the branch.  The nativity scene is also on the table.  Unfortunately the TV dominates the whole scene, but oh well.  There's not  a lot I can do about that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Jesse Tree Ornaments Days 16-20

     I'm nearly finished with all of my Jesse tree ornaments. In fact, I only have one more to make, but I'm the least inspired about it, so it might take awhile. Here are the next five.

Day 16: Prophecy of the Gentle Shepherd
     This is the last sheep ornament.  Even though it is needle felted like the ram, it doesn't look like a repeat of the same ornament.  The legs and the shepherd's staff are made with pipe cleaner wrapped with tapestry wool. 
 
 
Day 17: The Prophecy of the Suffering Servant
     I used shimmery Sculpy for the cross.  I wanted something very simple and symbolic of a cross, rather than just making a little cross.
 
 
 
Day 18: The Prophecy of the New Covenant

      I wanted this heart to be different than the heart I made for Ruth and Boaz, so I needle felted a heart.  I was going to embroider writing on it, but I couldn't figure out how to make it look nice on the needle felting.  My solution was making a little quill pen for it.  It's not quite as straight forward as it would be if it had writing on it, but I really like the way it looks.  The prophecy ornaments are hard, because they are not connected with a recognizable image like the Genesis and Exodus ones are. 
 
 


 Day 19: The Prophecy of Bethlehem
       This one was not thought through very well.  I had some ideas about what I wanted to do, but ended up just cutting out a silhouette and sticking it onto some cork I had.  I don't really like it, and will probably redo it at some point.
 
 
Day 20: Exile
       I had planned on doing something really simple for this one.  I showed my idea to the kids, and they all didn't like it.  It was just representing flames, and they were all like, "Where's the furnace?"  So I made a little clay furnace.  And just because I am who I am, I researched on how ancient furnaces were constructed, and based my ornament on that. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Angel Craft

     I am doing a Christmas themed craft with my Sunday school class for the five weeks leading up to Christmas, so I've been looking for craft ideas that are fun and easy, and don't require a lot of materials and prep-work.  My kids made folded paper angels a couple of years ago, and had a lot of fun with them, so I thought it would make a good craft for my class.  When I looked on-line for a template, I couldn't find one that I could print directly on to card stock.  All the ones I found were either too small, or it had writing on the template.  I ended up making my own pattern, and am sharing it, in case anyone else would like to make a similar craft. Here is the link for it.  You just cut it out on the lines, and then fold it into a cone and slide the slots together.
 
     Here is some that the kids made.  They used glitter glue to decorate them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Chick Eggs

     We added three new pullets to our little backyard flock this summer, and we've finally started to get some eggs from them.  I love the little eggs that pullets first lay.  I call them chick eggs.  I would blow a few of them, and use them for decoration, but our hens are hardly laying right now, so we eat all the eggs we get.
    Here is a size comparison photo.  The large egg is from one of my older hens, and the small one is from one of the pullets. 

Pilgrim Anna


     Yesterday was our co-op's "Parents Night".  Anna has been taking a class on the US Constitution, and her class recited the preamble to the constitution, and a little bio about an important historical figure that they had written.  Anna's was on Phyllis Wheatley.
      Her teacher also wanted everyone to dress up as someone from America's past.  Of course Anna didn't tell me this until the day before.  Being pressed for time, I decided to make a Pilgrim costume.  I used Simplicity pattern 3725 to make a hat, collar, and apron.  It's just over a regular black t-shirt and a skirt she had on hand.  I love this pattern.  It is my go to pattern whenever I need a costume, since it is so easy to modify.
      I think she looks pretty cute.  She has the type of face that looks as if she could have stepped out of a Dutch painting.