christmas cards - making the cut

i am sitting here at work - 3 days after christmas - and i am frantically trying to get out my cards for this year. i tend to procrastinate getting them out every year...and that coupled with delays in shipping this year - well, here i sit....

but that is half the story. every year i tend to struggle with my christmas card list. when i first had kids i didn't think twice about it. i'd over order those cute photo cards and mail them to everyone i knew. one year i'd address them myself.......the next i'd use printed labels. then i'd sign our names on the card - the next i'd have that printed on too. it got to the point that i simply opened the box of cards - printed out a sheet of address labels - peeled off the free return address labels i get from wwf or other organizations looking for money....stick on a stamp - and viola...i could bang out the cards in less than 15 minutes....

very impersonal

and last year it really hit just how impersonal it was.....so i took a handful of cards and hand wrote a personal message to those friends we have not seen in a long time......and it felt good.

this year i struggled again. cost was one factor (w/hubby still without a job) and with facebook - i've seen everyone's kids...and they've seen mine. do they need a photo of them again? don't get me wrong - there are still so many friends we have that we don't see often and i LOVE seeing their photo cards. there are also friends that i have that even if they don't send a card back - it doesn't bother me at all and i enjoy sending them a warm holiday greeting......

then there are the others....family and friends who i know only send me a card once they get mine. being this late this year has made those people stand out loud and clear....and has got me re-evaluating the whole christmas card thing.......and honestly it hurts. ok - maybe not "hurts" but it definitely has me rethinking my relationships. in the age of facebook people are gathering friends left and right - 100, 200 or more! and out that many - how many are friends? don't get me wrong - i am one of them and my friend and i have had numerous discussions over this...but that isn't my point here (that is a whole other post!!!) my point is.......

i really miss the true meaning of christmas cards.
i still keep a written journal as well as my blog. i use a daily planner instead of an online calender. call me outdated - but i love putting pen to paper.

i can count on one hand how many cards i've received that any trace of handwriting anywhere on it - card or envelope.

i don't fault anyone for that at all. i understand the convenience of them. people are busy - have full time jobs - are running households - are raising kids...............i get it and that is fine...i still love receiving those cards - preprinted and all..

but i'm not comfortable with doing that anymore. this year my list is much shorter (made even shorter by the weeding out of people who i realize i am just sending them cards out of habit) and i am handwriting little messages and the addresses.......and while a small step towards putting meaning into the cards - its still not enough

but its late - the cards are paid for and i need them to get them out today......

but next year? things will be different. i want to make the cards. i will still include a photo in some of the ones that i think would want them. i will write a message in every one of them. i will put the true meaning back into them - for my sake - if not for anyone elses.


the day after - a haiku

my friend cindy is on a haiku kick lately. i'm copying her.

rip, shred, toss aside
recycling center open
finally see my floor
wishing you all a poetic holiday recovery!


Christmas Day

searching for the pickle

snapping the christmas crackers

taking a chance

opening some presents

sharing a meal with family

laughter and love filled our day

i feel truly blessed


2 days til christmas - final preparations......

boys are asleep
so much yet to do
i have a scratchy throat and droopy eyes.....
but its so gonna be worth it tomorrow


3 days til christmas - granola

as usual at christmas - i've had to scrap some plans for homemade items b/c of lack of time due to poor planning on my part. luckily - making granola as teacher gifts was not one of them.

a dear friend said to me today "a subaru driving vegetarian giving granola as gifts.....how original"...........i laughed all day at that comment.

i found some great glass containers at the local thrift shop for the main teachers

while the secondary teachers got cute little boxes instead......

this recipe was unbelievable - huge batches of just enough sweetened clusters..........perfect wet to dry ratio so that there were no uncoated oats just lying around - i hate that kind of granola.

this recipe is a keeper - and i am posting it after the holidays b/c i have another batch in the oven waiting to be stirred............

(more countdowns to christmas here!)


4 days til christmas - some things don't change

i keep posting pics and deleting them.

they all seem so forced

and rushed

exactly like i am feeling right now.

i find myself drawn to the old homes in my area

imagining this same season

but 100 years ago

it calms me

to wonder......

its 10:37 pm and i am just starting my evening

making granola for gifts

and soap bars for kids

100 years later

i guess some things don't really change


6 days til christmas - snowed in!

the predicted snow actually came

and its still going strong

did some laundry

and some cleaning

and finally some crafting

heather and i had the same thought one nite - we both tried to figure out how to make a way to carry journals and colored pencils around together.
her's is so much prettier.
mine is for a 6 year old boy.
my pictures stink.

here is how i made mine. pencils and books are in seperate pockets on the same side.

it is folded in half twice. i am thinking of putting elastic on both sides of the inside fold to hold more journals.

and handles were added for easy carrying. i'm thinking of putting his name on it too.

like heather i kept thinking of easier and better things to do as i was making it.
i'm thinking of making one for my niece. i'll have to let the memory of making this one fade though before i attempt it.............

don't forget to read other countdowns to christmas!


7 days til christmas - HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

16 years ago at 3pm
on a perfect December day
we were married
Happy Anniversary Sweetie!
i keep forgetting to mention the others playing along! go visit their blogs!


9 days til christmas - oh no........

out of nowhere it hit like a ton of bricks
i am feeling dizzy and all i want to do is sleep
trying to muster the energy to get through tonite..........


the 12 days til christmas - a photo countdown

i am joining kyndale at earthy crunchy in spending the 12 days til christmas posting simple pictures without lengthy posts as a way of capturing the beauty of the season - thus allowing me the opportunity to focus on family, friends............and final preparations! enjoy!


dec 13th - bah! humbug!

~ my coffee machine is broken and i was really looking forward to a quiet sunday morning reading emails with a piping hot cup of coffee...................

~ my camera is dead and i've lost the charger.............

but that's ok - i have to clean this disaster of a house and i'm sure the charger will turn up - and later this afternoon i'm going out with my cousin's while the dads stay home with the kids....

now what to do about that coffee.........


dec 11 - date nite

my husband and i have season tickets to a theatre in the city. tonite we are going to see Oliver. i've never seen the movie nor read the book so i am really happy to see it. initially i wanted to bring the boys too - but it would be too late of a nite and the show itself is long and i just don't think they'd appreciate it.

the last time i was in the library i noticed that they carried both versions of the movie....the original one and the disney one....perfect for a family movie nite in....but for tonite its our nite out and i am thrilled for it!


dec 10th - oh DEER its a christmas wreath......

our house sits in the middle of a nicely wooded property. all year long we plant native trees - some to fill the bare spots.....

and others to replace trees that look like this.........

we have many deer on our property - and we don't mind them usually

but during rutting season - we mind them a lot

so before we replaced this tree i decided to use the beautiful branches to make a wreath for our front door.

i gathered greens for the base

and anything else with texture and color for the accents. berries and ferns, holly and flowers filled my basket.

i whipped up a quick bow

and viola my wreath is completed.

i think my favorite thing about this wreath is that i didn't spend a single dime on it and i think it looks like it cost a pretty penny!

i have more greens and accents left over for a few more wreaths. looks like its gonna be another late nite!


dec 9th - christmas crackers! (w/tutorial)

every christmas eve morning i have a brunch for my in-laws. my first year hosting i wanted to make it special so i googled christmas customs and stumbled upon 2 that i thought were pretty neat. one is finding the christmas pickle. the other is christmas crackers. my mil is from england and when i pulled them out for the first time she was thrilled! she fondly remembered them as a child. she said everyone would stand in a circle and each person would hold the end of a cracker. then one by one each cracker would be "snapped" open and inside would be goodies. i hand made them that first year and have continued to do so every year since.

this year i am making 2 sets of them. one for my family and one for carrie's stocking stuffer swap (i can't find a link for her blog!) they are really easy to make. once you make them you'll want to do it every year.

first gather your materials. you can order them online if you want. that is what i did b/c i really wanted the snaps and the paper hats - but otherwise you can make really simple ones with household items.

you'll need:
cardboard tubes (or toilet paper rolls)
lightweight wrapping paper or tissue paper (i use 2 layers of tissue paper for each cracker)
glue or double sided tape
snaps (if you are using them)
trinkets for inside

cut your paper to size....12 inches by 7.5 inches. b/c i used 2 layers of tissue paper i cut the plain paper that size and the patterned paper (which will be the paper you see on the outside) 11 inches by 7.5. you don't have to do this though if you don't want. also - there really is no need to be so precise. i've been in rush mode many a time and just cut freehand!

after you cut the tissue paper use glue (or double sided tape) to attach the roll to one of the long edges. lay a snap (if using) next to it. roll the tube across the paper and glue it down on the other edge.

it should look like this

crimp one end and tie a ribbon right up against the edge of the tube

this is the other end. you can see the snap. fill the open end with trinkets.

for the stocking stuffer swap i used organic candies, paper hats, a joke and homemade mini lotion bars.

crimp the other end - curl the loose ends of the ribbon and you are done!!!!

when 2 people pull an end (like breaking a wishbone) you'll hear a snap! and all the trinkets will come flying out. put on your hat - read your joke and enjoy the treats!