Monday, December 30, 2013

Secret Santa

A beautiful Christmas tradition has developed over the past couple of years on etsy's  castteam (Christian Artist Street Team). One where we volunteer to participate - then chief Secret Santa and her elves (helpers) pair up the participants. It is all super secret - not divulged until after Christmas what you received or who you received it from (your secret Santa).

The gifts arrive from all over the globe, which is super exciting.

A new development this year was that the participants created a Christmas Wish List in their "favorites" file. That was a big help in knowing how to bless the one to receive the gift. You had an "inside track" on what their secret wishes were.

Now that it's all out in the open, I can tell you who my secret Santa was and who's secret Santa I was. My secret Santa was Lynnette Cretu. This is her etsy shop:

She sent me the most charming tchotchke box which she decorated by hand using glazes, her wonderful handwriting and drawing skills, and decoupage techniques. She filled with with tea. But it could surely hold any "treasure" you hold dear to your heart. In the Christmas package was also a box of green tea, some of her hand made scripture magnets and an enchanting card with her artwork on it.

I don't know Lynnette but I would love to get to know her. One thing I do know is we are related by our Lord and Savior who made us "sisters" in Christ. If I never get to know her or see her on earth, I know I will in heaven and then I'm going to thank her again for these delightful gifts.

I was secret Santa to Teresa of CreationsbyJessi. I feel like I really know Teresa. We chat often on the castteam chat thread. We have met in person twice because Teresa lives near to one of my sons in the Greenville, SC area. So when I visit my son, Teresa and I get to have a little coffee date as well. Whenever I meet with Teresa, her daughter, Jessi (of CreationsbyJessi) comes too. She also has an etsy shop. This time, I also had the pleasure of meeting daughter #2, Heidi. She snapped the pic of Teresa, Jessi and me.

Teresa's Wish List Favorites helped me to choose what to gift her with. And because I just love to create, I knitted her an infinity scarf in her favorite color (purple) and made her a button charm bracelet. The charm bracelet speaks of her wonderful sewing talent as you can see from her shop. Here we are at Starbucks, Simpsonville, SC.

I hope you'll join in on the Secret Santa tradition next year. It is "no end of fun" and if you have an opportunity to deliver your gift "in person", that's the ultimate.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More Christmas

I have more Christmas Spirit this Christmas than ever before. It almost seems OCD-ish.

I think the reason for this total immersion in Christmas is because I'm not stressing over it. I stopped sending out cards years ago. That caused me entirely too much stress. This year I did not even do any Christmas shopping. I used to spend so much time trying to get people the perfect gift that would delight their socks off. I do have to send most of my gifting by mail and postage is outa sight. So I stopped at the few shops I know my family like to shop at and bought them all gift cards. Popped them in my handmade cards or stuffed them in a box and tied it up with ribbon and one of my handmade gift tags. And the postage for those very small packages was very minimal.

These are the things I've been having fun making. I'm a "maker". That's what makes me happy. When you're happy, there's not much room for stress.

I want to share with ya'll the cute gift tags and the Christmas cards. All of this paper-craft is totally personal.

These are some of the gift tags I made. The one on the left is an old photo of me and my sisters when we were tots. The other is a pic of me in my clown get-up

Here's a close-up of me and my sisters. I am on the right.

This is how they look on a present. I printed them out wallet sized, getting 9 pictures to a page. Then I cut them with a paper punch.

This is one of the cards I made. I made several different versions. This one is my house after a snow storm.
All of the cards I made have personal pics on them. Some of the pics, I edited aggressively with my photo
editing program (Picassa). I printed all the pics on off white card stock. I cut the card photos out with the      fancy scrapbooking scissors. Then glued them to red cardstock. One sheet of cardstock makes 2 cards. If I wrote a message inside, which I did, I do glue a piece of white plain paper, cut to fit inside the card. I write my message first then glue it. Otherwise I may mess up on an already glued in paper and be in deep trouble.

On the inside of the card, torn edge paper can be used. I have even used very faded sheet music on which to write my inside message. I do that by scanning the music, saving it to my photo file, then editing it so it appears very faded.

How do you feel about a handmade card versus a store bought card? Same question regarding gift tags. I feel like I'm giving a part of me away with something that I have thought about, planned out, designed, snipped, glued, altered, etc. I'm all over it. My fingerprints are on it and I'm sending it off with much love and attention.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Handmade Christmas Decorations

My house is ready to embrace Christmas visitors. I've made room, by relocating all the Fall decorations to a closet until Fall of 2014 and dragging out all the Christmas decorations from their hiding places and setting them up in places of honor for this season.

The one new  embellishment I made for this year is the wreath on my front door. I had seen one like it at a shop and knew I had all the materials in my stash. I went home from my outing in the country and put together this wreath in a flash where it hangs proudly on my front door waiting to greet holiday visitors.

I set out a grapevine tree, which I made years ago. It's a table top tree. I scrunched up a couple vintage lace doilies on the table to resemble snow, then set the tree on top of the lace "snow". Also, standing knee deep in snow are a few snow people - standing guard over the tree.

I have two grapevine trees, each in a matching pot, standing guard over the front entry of my house.

These grapevine trees are a joy to make in the Fall. I wrap wild grapevine round and round a tomato cage 'til I'm happy with how it looks. I may have to secure some bits of the grapevine to the tomato cage with bits of florist wire (to secure the vine to the base structure). Once done, these trees can be used over and over again ad infinitum. I have mine all twirled with tiny white lights, which I normally just leave on when I store the trees at the end of the season. I cover the whole enchilada with a giant garbage bag - and into storage it goes until next Christmas season.

There are millions of spots near where I live to access wild grapevine. I usually bring my pruning shears when I'm on the hunt. I toss huge, long strings of vine into the trunk of my car. I leave the vines outdoors until I'm ready the make the trees. I make them outdoors too because the process produces a huge mess of dried leaves (which just get mixed in with the leaves that have fallen off the trees in my garden and eventually raked up and dragged to the curbside for the town to collect and dispose of).

One little important note: if you intend to make grapevine trees and don't get to it right away, remove the leaves clinging to the vine, twirl the vine into circles and put in a tub of water - leave this outdoors - the water will keep the vines nice and supple so you can wrap them around the tomato cage - otherwise they will dry out - become brittle and difficult to wrap around the cage - this lesson was learned the usual hard way.

These three little trees, I made last year. They are cupcake paper liners trees. Made by removing the flat bottom of decorative cupcake liners. The pleated sides of the liners are then wrapped, layer over layer, around styrofoam "trees" and attached to the form with straight pins. On the very top of the "tree" fit a tiny cone made with a scrap from the discarded cupcake paper bottoms. I have mine displayed atop a spool of pink crochet cotton "tree trunk".

Christmas time - my favorite time of year. "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift"   11 Cor.9:15