Monday, December 26, 2011

Pretend Play Mail Bag

Christmas has come and gone and I can’t believe the New Year is around the corner. I loved being able to make so many of my gifts this year (even though it took most of my time…yikes). One of the things that I loved to make were these pretend play mail bags and mail boxes. I know that my kids LOVE to be able to pretend, so I thought this could be a fun gift. I made my kids a mail box for their playhouse a while back so I just replicated what I had made and added a mail bag. I was happy with how they turned out and I think they were a hit!

Mail bag

I used a upholstery weight fabric for the bag and a regular cotton for the lining of the flap.

mailbox

For the mailbox I just used extra 1x4 that we had in the back yard. I also make sure I had 2 hinges for each mailbox. I used vinyl to write mail on the box.

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Here are the 3 mailboxes and mailbags that I made for some special kiddos.

To make them I first cut out 4 pieces of fabric. 3 were from the upholstery weight fabric and 1 -10x12 from a piece of cotton.

pieces needed

Then round the corners of the 10 x 12 squares using a bowl as the pattern.

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I then sewed right sides together then turned them out and ironed. I then sewed the 10x10 pieces together and turned them inside out and ironed. I then stitched the top edge of the bag at a 1/4” inch seam.

inside bag_thumb

I stitched the top flap on the pack of the bag and then just sewed the strap to the side of the bag. I used freezer paper to do the words “MAIL” on the bag (if you have never used freezer paper check out the tutorial here) and then painted with fabric paint, and they were done!

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These were pretty easy to make and didn’t take too long. Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and enjoyed time with family and friends.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gifts with a purpose

I really enjoy giving gifts. I have to admit that I have a hard time receiving them, but I know that gifts can convey love through the thought and work put into them.  I have a couple of gifts that I am working on and excited to be able to finish to share here, but in the meantime I thought I would compile a list of businesses that are embarking on socially responsible missions. They all function a bit differently, but at their core is a desire to love people and give dignity through work. Businesses can be a great catalyst for change in many areas of the world if we are able to use our resources wisely. Business gives people the honor of working while being able to gain income to support other businesses in the community. Most of these businesses are based overseas and sell things that we need. I am all about practicality as well :)
First is a business call 3Seams that you can check out here. They sell handmade dresses and small purses. For every dress purchased, one dress is given to one Haitian girl. All products are made in Haiti, so purchases are also supplying jobs.
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The second company is called 31Bits. It specialized in jewelry made from recycled paper by women in Uganda. They started with 3 women and now employ 99. Pretty cool!
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Another company is called One Mango Tree. They carry many clothing, jewelry and handbag items. They use the fair trade model to give jobs to women living in impoverished and war torn areas.
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If you like coffee I would recommend checking out Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee. It has a fairly large selection of coffees and their motto is “Drink Coffee. Do Good.” They use the fair trade model and buy coffee from Rwanda, Thailand and Haiti. In Thailand farmers are now growing coffee instead of opium for the drug trade. Good idea.
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If you live somewhere tropical or are able to wear sandals year round then Sseko Designs is the company to check out. In Uganda they give women the opportunity to earn money and the women save that money and then are able to go on to the University.  There are multiple ways to tie the sandals and they even have Youtube tutorials on how to do it! They have recently introduced handbags that are super cute.
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Those are some of the companies that I have found that are trying to make a difference. If you know of any other companies, please let me know by leaving the info in the comments section.
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Traditions

The Christmas season is upon us! Yikes! I have to admit that I love Christmas and the traditions that come along with it and want to create some special ones for my family. I know I posted about the Jesse Tree in the last post, but I have more ideas to share! I thought I would share with you some fun traditions that a dear friend has done with her family, from toddlers through adulthood. I look forward to seeing my kids grow and enjoy all our activities together!

Here is a list of some of the things that a dear friend (of whom I actually get to call Aunt!) gave us to spur our creative minds with our families!

1. Make a manger out of cut wood and twine and place it under the Christmas tree. During December we would have a sign that says John 3:16 written on it in the manger. Christmas morning put a doll wrapped up in the manger to represent Jesus being born.

2. Make a special "Christmas CD" that they would listen to during the month of December. Include the biblical Christmas story being read aloud for them to listen to.

3. Read the book Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes during the month of December.

4. Have a birthday party for Jesus with friends at some point in December. Make a craft, play pin the star over the manger, read the Christmas story and have cake of course and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.

5. Save the Christmas tree after Christmas and cut off all the branches. Cut the trunk in 2/3 and 1/3 and make it into a cross. Save it and bring it back out at Easter to help make the connection between Jesus being born at Christmas and dying on the cross at Easter.

6. Keep Christmas cards received in a basket and pick one out at the dinner table and pray for them that night until all the cards are gone.

7. Give gifts to Jesus on His birthday. On Christmas Day set aside time to give your gifts to Jesus. Each person can think of something they want to change for the following year (maybe a character quality to work on, setting a goal of reading through the bible in one year, spending time each day in prayer, etc.) Write their "gift" on a piece of paper and wrap it in a small box and place it somewhere prominent to serve as a reminder.

8. Collect stories throughout the year and read as devotions during the month of December. You can read the best ones year after year or add new to your liking.

9. Read the story The Last Straw by Paula Palangi. After talk about how we have to get the manger ready for baby Jesus so he will have a very soft bed. Each time a child does or says something kind to someone else a new piece of straw can be added. Hopefully this encourages the children to keep doing nice things for each other so by Christmas day the manger has LOTS of straw!

Here is mine :)


At our mom's group our leader brought all the supplies so we could make little mangers. My girls have already started trying to make the manger soft (its been a slow go at it!)

10. Create an advent calendar with scripture or service ideas in it for each day. This is the first year that I had made my own advent calendar and I was able to have a little helper in my oldest daughter! I found an old cabinet door at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and spray painted it white. Then I spray painted some clothes pins red. I hot glued those on to the door and suddenly I had 24 little clips ready for bags. Here is what it turned out like...


 
I ordered these muslin bags for $.13 each (Score!) and then cut out the numbers from fabric. I printed off numbers in word used those as the pattern and used interfacing to adhere them to the bags. I liked the red fabric much better and might change the green numbers to red next year, yes I am crazy!!

 
Merry Christmas to all and I hope this gives you some ideas to enjoy your family and the birth of Jesus this Christmas season.



Monday, November 21, 2011

Jesse Tree Ornaments

I know that it is not Thanksgiving yet, but I am gearing up for the Christmas season. We went to our downtown's Christmas preview, which consists of some pretty awesome music, hot chocolate, cider, cookies, ballet in store windows and an overall sense of excitement. It definitely was able to get me in the Christmas spirit. For the past few weeks I have been working on some ornaments for a Jesse Tree exchange that I went to. Some of you are probably thinking what is a Jesse Tree? I know, it's an odd name, but it is a tradition around Christmas that goes through the whole Old Testament until Jesus' birth. There are quite a few different resources out there but one of the best books to follow is The Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults to Prepare for the Coming of the Christ Child at Christmas by Dean Lambert Smith which you can find here on Amazon. It has some great intros and questions to discuss every night. After you read it you are supposed to put the corresponding ornament on the tree. I am excited about doing the tree this year and knew I had to get all the ornaments ready. There are different lists you can follow, but in general they are the similar. I was invited to a ornament exchange party which was so fun! I was super duper impressed when I got there and saw all the awesome ornaments. People had put such time and thought into them!!! I wanted to show you what people created in case anyone needed ideas, there are lots of ornaments to make!


 
Here are the Earth, Apple, Ark and Tent.


 
The Ladder, Ten Commandments, Jar of Oil and Colorful Coat


The Tablet and Pen, Ram, Altar and Shepherd's Staff (how cute is that Altar!)


The Wheat, Heart, Tambourine and Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh(present).


The Angel Wing and Baby Jesus.

I am missing a couple of the ornaments (Star, Moon & Sun and Flowers on a branch) but hope to make those this weekend so we can get started. Below you will find the list that our friend Jenee (check out her blog here) made to give to all of us. It is a shorter and more succinct list of what everything means.

Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange

Hope that this makes sense and looking forward to this advent season!





Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankfulness

Last post I realized that I wanted create a spirit of thankfulness in my children. At the mom's group that I am attending we just talked about gratitude being caught not taught. I know that there are days that I can be grumpy or tired, but I know that I can still chose to have a spirit of thankfulness. My mom just finished her last round of chemo in her fight against breast cancer. I am ever amazed at her attitude of thankfulness and joy during this time, it is something she chooses to do. We have had some great conversations about life as times like this tend to produce. She has thought of others during this time and in turn has been blessed by her church and small group family as they have served meals, helped with my brother's wedding reception and cleaning. It is definitely the way God intended relationships to work and it is a blessing to see that in action. I hope that through little things we do as a family we can instill habits that will affect them for the rest of their lives, one of them being thankfulness. My sister-in-law just wrote about gratitude and I thought it was excellent if you want to check it out here. May we all be thankful for the abundance that we have.

This week I have seen this floating around on Pinterest.