Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Parties

I have had the most fun this year. I no longer have children at home. I no longer have a heavy duty calling in Church. I no longer have a job where I work more at Christmas time than at any other time of the year. This meant I could spend my time partying and I did.

It started with a Christmas Party for my Activity Day Girls. They are a group of girls ages 8-11. We decorated Christmas cards, made Christmas trees out of graduated sugar cookie stars, ate and then had a white elephant exchange. I had a lot of fun and the girls seemed to also.

I attended our ward party and accompanied several musical numbers. Immediately after the ward party, we headed to the stake center to participate in a stake program that was very well organized and beautiful. I accompanied while our ward choir sang and for a quartet's rendition of "O Holy Night". We got to see a live Nativity and see nativity sets. I also was able to sight read and sing in a stake choir presentation.

No more parties until Christmas Eve when we had our traditional Christmas Eve program and a meal. I love this tradition. I think it is my favorite one and yet I spend the least amount of time preparing for it. We eat and then read Christmas stories, sing Christmas carols and act out the Nativity. This year was notable as my son and his family joined us by video chat on the computer and they dressed as the angels as we did the other characters for the nativity. We finish by opening the Christmas cards that we wrote ourselves the previous Christmas Eve and then write another Christmas card for the coming year. It is totally personal and can be anything. I usually do a summary of the highlights of the previous year and a prediction of what I expect to occur in the coming year. Lastly we have dessert and by then everyone is anxious to get away and prepare for Santa's arrival.

Christmas Dinner was at my house too and it was yummy and an easy meal. Everyone attending brought something to help with the meal.

The day after Christmas our extended family had it's traditional White Elephant Party and my husband and I were in charge. We held it at our church building and it was fairly easy to prepare for and it turned out well.

I partied again on Tuesday as several of the Young Women who were in the Young Women's program in 1996 came to my house to eat and open a time capsule from that year. It was fun to see these young women who are mothers of up to 6 and one women who is single and owns her own home. They are not the YW that I knew, but as we talked I realized that these women are wonderful people who are doing wonderful things in their families and in the church. It was wonderful to see them.

When these women left my home, I realized that I had way too many leftovers for us to ever eat them and so I threw a let's eat up the leftover party tonight. The people I invited were all some of my favorite people. Some were able to come, some didn't. It was very casual. We had lots of children running around and people came and went and I think I enjoyed this gathering as much if not more than all the others. It took virtually no time to prepare for and we just sat around and yakked.

This has been a great season and I hope you have all enjoyed it also.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thoughts on Christmas

This post includes no pictures and I won't be sending a notice through Facebook, but I want to talk a little about how I am able to enjoy a Christmas where I can give to many of my friends and family and not break the bank.

I am the wife of a school teacher and I'm a homemaker. I have never worked full-time, but have worked part-time most of my married life. Money has always been scarce and my husband and I have learned to be frugal. Because we are frugal, we never pretended to our children that they would get what they wanted from Santa. They were invited to make a list and Santa would do what he could. I can remember one especially hard year when my sons received a pack of 10 metal die cast cars. We didn't feel we could afford a Hot Wheels car (you know... the $.50 ones.) At one point, my poor, long-suffering sister was relegated to receiving a new statue that had to be mended because someone at the store had broken it. It was a magnificent price and I had little money to spare, so she was given it.

Our church teaches maintaining a food storage and I have always had a 3-12 month supply of food that we eat and rotate continuously plus a year's worth of the necessities of life including wheat, oats, beans, flour, sugar, oils, and powdered milk. In order to maintain the 3-12 month supply of food, I buy things on sale. For example, I know that sometime in October or December baking supplies will reach the year's lowest prices. I know that sugar, flour, cake mix, marshmallow creme, evaporated milk, and Hershey's candy bars will all be the cheapest prices in the year and I make sure that there is money set aside to buy enough of these to last the year. This means that I can make all my candies for the cheapest prices possible.

At this point in my life, I can spend a little more for gifts. Even so, for my friends, I plan on spending less than a dollar on gifts that I make. This year, they received my borax star ornaments. They cost about $.25.

Good friends are relegated to $3-5. I find these gifts on sale at different times of the year and pick them up or I will find a really cute pattern to make something that requires more time and/or money than the general gifts described above. The Santas fell into this category. They were not particularly expensive, but the time factor made them a gift for good friends. Other good friends got gifts bought at a deeply discounted price. Really good friends might have a little more spent on them. I am not above using the rewards programs from my credit cards or discounts from my employer to get a better gift than I pay for.

Credit card rewards have been extremely good to us. We use our cards to pay for everything... bills, food, gas, clothes, insurance, supplies for business. We then pay our credit card bill completely each month. By doing this, we earn rewards but pay no fees. Last year, my daughter and her spouse received an I-touch from my husband and I. We had enough rewards money to purchase it without any cash passing from our hands.

I'll get off my soapbox now and go fix dinner. Bye!

My last Christmas post

Late Christmas Eve, I finally finished this little fellow and his twin brother. I found the pattern for him in the December 2009 "Crafts 'n Things" magazine and fell in love. I've looked on their website for an on-line tutorial or picture to share with you, but can't find one. I particularly love the craft boa. It makes the Santa and I loved the blanket stitch. I'm not great at it, but I like to do it.

I was late getting them to their intended recipients, but hopefully they'll forgive me. Especially since they were accompanied with this.

It is my signature toffee that many people seem to love (including myself and my family.) I cannot seem to make a decent sugar cookie like so many people can and do. My peanut brittle, fudge, and sweet breads like banana bread are pretty good too, but I learned long ago that the toffee is the main event. I long ago decided to quit wasting my money on the run of the mill candies and specialize. I have! I have 4 heavy-duty aluminum pans, 8 cookie sheets, candy paddles, and a thermometer to make my toffee and make 6-7 batches at a time in 4-6 hour increments. I only make the other stuff for my family.

OK, I know I'm boring you silly, but it's my blog and I can do what I want! Right???

I hope each of you have had a wonderful Christmas full of family, celebrations of the Savior, and taking the opportunity to serve others. I'll also add that I hope you have had the opportunity as I have of crafting, cooking, sewing, buying and making gifts, keeping secrets and perhaps slipping on a few, decorating, staying up late at nights, getting up early, skipping a few meals, taking your grandchildren (children) shopping, being a secret Santa, planning and throwing a party, cleaning your kitchen 2 and 3 times a day .and generally enjoying this Holiday to the fullest. Merry Christmas to all of you!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


One of my favorite pastimes when I am bored is to peruse craft blogs. I found this and was fascinated. I went to the Martha Stewart how to and totally enjoyed making a smaller version.

I used 3" pipe cleaners and added 1" pieces to the point. That way I could use a pint canning jar to make the snowflakes.

Here is the finished project.

I don't know if I used too much borax or left the snowflake too long, but it is much bulkier than the ones shown on either site.

I'm trying to decide if I like these enough to give away as Christmas decorations or if I want the girls to do it as a craft project for Activity day or both. Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The residual

Now here's the real question...
When you don't have a fireplace, you don't camp out a lot, you don't smoke, what do you do with these????

Christmas Countdown Calendar

I saw this on another blog and decided I wanted to try it. Two days later I've managed to do 3 of them. Though they aren't hard, it took a lot of mental energy to come up with 24 different things to do with matchstick boxes, paper, and embellishments.

Here is my red period,

and my green period,

and my blue period (thank you Van Gogh for your inspiration.)

Following are some close-ups of the boxes.

I especially like the 15th on the following. I used a button with the shank cut off and attached a part of a ballpoint spring as the top of the "ornament".

Tips and the things I used include:

*a specialty cardstock 48 sheet pack from Michaels by me & my big ideas. It says that it is "Kay-Oh What Fun".
*Scrappy Glue to glue on virtually everything but the magnets.
*The magnets were attached with E6000.
*The only thing that I had access to that would attach the paper to the cookie sheet was Scotch ATG-714.
*I took a magnet to the store to make sure the cookie sheet had steel in it and the plus was it only cost around $3.
*My cricut machine. It was absolutely invaluable. The original I saw used stamps, but I don't have much of a stock of stamps. But I do have several different cartridges for my cricut machine and was able to do everything I would want.
*Martha Stewart's doily lace edge punch.
*lots of ribbon, rhinestones, and buttons for embellishments.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fall Decor from recycled materials

As I was putting away my fall decorations, I looked at one of my favorite decorations and realized that it was entirely made from remnants of other projects. The fabric was leftover material from a muu muu I made. The stem was a small branch. The leaves from silk pansies I used for a party. The stuffing is dry beans. The curling tendril is a leftover plastic stem from flower that I had needed to be stemless. It was easy and cheap (it cost nothing). I think it is awfully cute, especially in combination with fall leaves or a scarecrow statue.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Turkey

I came across this on the web and loved it. So I went shopping and found not one candy corn in the multitude of stores... convenience stores, grocery stores, drugstores and Walmart in the one square mile of my domicile. So I ended up making this...

He consists of a vanilla wafer, a chocolate backed shortbread cookie, Reeses peanut butter cups and...
Brachs maple chews softened in the microwave and cut and shaped by hand. I glued it together with canned chocolate frosting.

I was preparing him and his friends to give away, so this is the finished project.

Tom and his friends are much cuter in real life than in my photos. I am not a good photographer. (My definition of a good photographer is one who can make someone look better in photos than they do in person.) But you do get an idea of what he looks like from these. Here he is with some of his friends.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another Fall Pillow

While I had all the stuff out and since I had another pillow from Walmart, I made another pillow and dare I say I like it better?

Did you see this little fellow? He contains the last of the fabric from my Deseret Industries Exchange find. I made a stuffed bird, a stuffed owl, and 4 of these little owls and remade the shirt for my granddaughter.

Here are the two pillows I made together.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fall Pillow

What happens when you take this conglomeration of scraps,

and this pillow that was being clearanced at Walmart for $5,

and this tutorial?

You get this.

Do you see the owl that I highlighted in an earlier post and promised another craft using it? It is sitting on the branch.

I liked this sewing project and was able to do it from start to finish in about 3 hours.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fall Wreath

Each year our Queen's Wreath vine takes over my chain link fence in the summer and fall season. As I prepare to plant my vegetable garden, I must cut this vine back to the ground so it doesn't interfere with the light needed for the garden. Most times I pull it back after it is dead, but last year I didn't and I realized that it might make a good base for a wreath. It was too late though, I already had tossed most of it by then. This year on Conference weekend, I pulled the still green vines away from the fence and formed them into 3 wreaths, not knowing if it would work or not. I let them dry. Here is one of the resulting wreaths.

I went to Michael's last night and found that their fall products were 80% off and I bought 2 vines for around $5 total. I wired one to the wreath and cut up the other and hot glued the leaves to the wreath. Voila! Instant cheap wreath! I am not a great arranger, but I think this turned out decently.

A Christmas Wreath

I found this cute wreath on line here made from dollar store Christmas bulbs. I liked it and so I made one. Here is the link she took it from.

There were some issues making this wreath. You may notice that the wire hanger shows through. I found that with the tops to the bulbs made of plastic (instead of metal and wire,) the pressure of moving the bulbs around would fairly quickly cut through the tops and I would lose the bulb. I ended up spending about $9 on bulbs and could have used a few more.

It was a fun project and didn't take too long. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Primary Program

Today was our ward's Primary Program. I was so proud of the children! We have approximately 25 active children total and yet they knew and sang those songs so well.

In our very small ward, we use a lot of music to fill in the program. We taught the children all the verses on virtually every song and had 13 songs in the program.

I made it very difficult for them. They had to sing "Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam" without all the jumping that they usually do. They did pretty well. I helped them along by making them hold out all the usual words that they jump at... "Jesus wants me for a sunbeeeeeeammmmmm. To shine for him each daaaaaaaaaaaaay." etc.

One of the songs was sung by my granddaughter. She is very young and when she saw everyone watching her, her courage almost escaped her. She turned red, stared down, and she said that her eyes were tearing, but she did it and I was very proud.

It suddenly dawned on me during the week that I needed to do something about singing time and so I called the counselor in charge of me. She told me that they had plans for the whole meeting, so I wouldn't need to prepare anything. I asked if I could go to Relief Society and was assured that I could. I even went so far as to tell the current Relief Society President that I would be there.

After the program and my singing time in Nursery, the counselor came to me and apologized and told me that the movie that they planned on watching was only 20 minutes long. I would need to fill the rest of the time. Thankfully the Spirit works full time and I was able to come up with a game that the children would enjoy and no singing would be necessary (my voice, at least, needed the reprieve).

I still went to Relief Society and 6 months after my release as Relief Society President, the Relief Society President got up and thanked my counselor and I for our service and gave us both framed quotes. Mine was the quote by Lucy Mack Smith, the first Relief Society President in the Church. "We must cherish one another, watch over one another, and comfort one another... that we may all sit down in heaven together" She also gave us cards signed by many of the sisters in the ward. It was very nice and I appreciated it a great deal.

I left Relief Society and went back in to Primary to play the game. It was very easy and very popular with the children. I had word/picture 8x 10 pages for all the songs that the children sang in the Primary Sacrament Program. I had used these pages to remind the children of the song they were about to sing and to help them with the words, as needed. After the program, these pages were a mess and I knew that I was going to have problems sorting them out. When we needed a game, it dawned on me that I could use those pages. I had a child come choose one of the pages. He/she had to tell me what song it was from. If they couldn't, they could choose one person from their team to help. If they guessed correctly then they threw a dice and got points for their team. (It has just dawned on me that this was a take-off of the papyrus game I highlighted earlier in my blog.) It was easy, fast to put together, and very popular.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


I'm pretty sure this will be my last post for Halloween this year. I was perusing the internet when I came across this. And it was so cute and so easy, I had to make some for my Activity Day Girls and one of the people I visiting teach. Here are the results...

I think they turned out pretty well.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New stuff out of old

When I went to our Deseret Industries Exchange Night, I picked up a shirt that I liked specifically for the fabric. I started out by making this from one of the sleeves. No pattern, just trying it out.

My granddaughter thought the shirt was adorable as a dress and asked if I'd fix the other sleeve and give it to her. I thought about it and told her, "Sure." Here's the finished dress. I just had to cut off the gosh awful sleeves that looked something like upside down mushrooms and hem what was left. Here's how it turned out.

I still had a sleeve to play with and so I took the idea from this blog
at this site and made this.

Next I found this site here and decided to make these cute little fellows.

My granddaughter's dress got this one.

And I put together a little set for a baby. It has a button to button the owl onto plus the cute little owl and the stuffed owl also.

I still have 2 more owls and little more fabric and have great plans for them, but they'll have to wait until after Halloween. I have too much to do between now and then.

And yes SB, I figured out how to link websites, but there is no infinity key on my keyboard.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My creation

I was surfing blogs and came across this website

and loved this simple craft. There was a tutorial so I threw it together today. In the light, it is really nondescript or maybe even ugly.

But in the dark with battery tealights, it looks great. It was a lot of fun to make and put my abilities with decoupage to the test. Thankfully it was a very forgiving project (in other words it looks good in the dark and that's what I needed.) I'll be using this to decorate my trunk for the ward trunk-or-treat.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Working on Sunday

I was talking to our former Bishop (I would say old, but I'm older than him and what would that mean about me? LOL) and he said something that made me remember a story about my husband's family.

As the WWII started, it was determined that many of the Japanese peoples needed to be contained in internment camps in the U.S. The U.S. government needed workers to build the internment camps. This came at a time when money was short, at least in my husband's family's house and so my husband's dad, grandpa and Uncle T decided to apply. They applied and got jobs as carpenters.

The workers were not accomplishing things as quickly as the powers that be thought they should be done, so it was determined that the workers needed to go to a 7-day work week. Uncle T told his supervisors that he would not be there on Sunday. Threats were made that he would lose his job, if he didn't work Sundays. The pressure was on. Would he or would he not show up? Sunday came and Ken's dad and grandfather were at the camp, but Uncle T did not come. He went to Church as was his lifelong habit. He was back to work on Monday and nothing was said, then or ever. He continued working. As the camp neared completion, workers were laid off, but Uncle T was one of the last to be laid off.

I have always admired Uncle T for choosing his God over his job. It was a hard decision, but the right one for him.

For pictures, go to

Friday, October 23, 2009

Decorating for Halloweeen

It's past time to decorate for Halloween and I decided to invite my two oldest grandchildren that live close by to come decorate my house. I started by putting out my homemade wood projects and the carefully selected store bought decor.

My grandchildren weren't too impressed at that point. They sat down and watched the Disney Channel. Then I pulled out the store bought decor that I had bought to decorate the church many years ago when I was in charge of the Halloween Party. There are enough to decorate much of the church. They also found some homemade stuff from when I couldn't afford to buy much of anything. Here are my grandkids and what they did.

There are decorations in my kitchen, my dining room, my guest bedroom, the bathroom, the hall, plus all the ones you see in the main living area. Yet, I wouldn't have it any other way. The reason I decorate is to delight my grandchildren and they were truly delighted with the results.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our trip

While on our vacation, we decided to go to Atlanta, Georgia with our oldest son and his family. We invested a huge amount of money going to visit the world's largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium. It cost about $24 each. It was fun and interesting, but immediately after, we went to the Olympic Park across the street.

There the grandkids had an even better time for no money at all.