Monday, December 24, 2012

Packages and Names...tied up with String!

When I saw the tutorial for twine-wrapped wire names on Pinterest, I knew that I wanted to use the idea for my embellishments for this year's brown paper packages! 

When I posted the above picture on Instagram, I had some questions about the process I used.

The tutorial featured on  Crafts Unleashed (which I followed) is really I won't go into the full process, but just share some additional tips I found to be helpful.

Molding the wire into the names takes just a couple minutes. Wrapping the twine takes a while. I think it took me almost an entire two hour movie to finish Hadleigh's name from start to finish. 

Initials obviously are much quicker projects but still cute!

Cut more wire than you think you will need. I used about 20 inches for names with 4 or 5 letters. I used a little more than double that with Nathanael & Madeleine...and still came up a bit short with Madeleine. Looping letters like "e" and "l" don't take much wire, but letters like "a" "d" "m" and "n" have extra folds to make the letters form correctly and therefore require more wire per letter.

The above picture shows what the names or initials look like before stringing.

Leaving the letters with wider gaps helped me to wrap the twine more easily. If you compare the above picture to the one below, you can see how I tightened the wire after wrapping with the twine.

You can tighten the wire before wrapping, but it is more difficult to make the twine wrap smoothly in the creases.

On letters that overlap each other, like "L," "H," "G," and "K" I would recommend securing the point where the wire overlaps together with one wrap of twine AFTER you've wrapped all of the letter (up to to the overlap point). This way the letter does not stretch apart easily.

With the "T" above, I wrapped the twine up the left side of the "T", and halfway down the right side. Then I wrapped a small piece of wire to cross the "T," following the original tutorial's directions for wrapping it with twine. Once the cross-piece was covered in twine, I continued to wrap the bottom half of the "T."

And my last tip...double names. :) I used a really long piece of wire and started from the beginning. When I reached the "h" in Sarah, I spelled right to left with the wire for the second name, and I actually found this to be much easier than working from left to right.  I left a little extra between names so that I could center "Kate" underneath "Sarah," knowing that I could always make the loop after the "h" a little bigger or smaller.

I think these would make adorable ornaments or cute decorative pieces to hang in a child's room!

If you have any questions, please ask in the comments, and I will add my responses there!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Grinch Punch Party

Our children LOVE the Grinch. Watching the movie...reading the book...searching for inflatable lighted Grinches on our Christmas light drives.

So this year, when I saw the recipe for "Grinch Punch" on Pinterest, I knew it would be a hit for this year's viewing of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Grinch Punch

Lime Sherbet
Simple Syrup
Green sprinkles/sanding sugar
fun straws

1. Pour simple syrup into a wide bowl. Pour sprinkles into another similar bowl. Dip each serving glass first in the simple syrup and then in the sprinkles, coating the rim.

2. Place two to three scoops of lime sherbet (we used a rainbow one as we couldn't find lime) in each prepared glass. Pour Sprite to fill glass.

3. Add a straw and serve! (We used milkshake straws, which work great for younger children trying to drink ice cream through a straw!)

My kids (and I!) loved it. Nathanael said it tasted kind of like key lime pie. :)

Enjoy...just like the Grinch would now!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Capturing December, take two...

Here are the latest pictures, via instagram.

 Day 8: Ornament

 Day 9: Something you're reading

Day 10: Wrapping Paper

Day 11: Green

Day 12: A Beautiful Sight 

Day 13: Family (hike) 

Day 14: Christmas Tree

Day 15: Favorite Holiday Song, 

Day 16: Outside Christmas Lights

Day 17: Presents

Day 18: Stockings

 Day 19: Candy Canes

Day 20: Tree Topper

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Christmas Tour

Just a few peeks into Christmas at our house this year...joining in with The Nester's 2012 Christmas Tour of Homes

I was a little nervous about figuring out how we would adjust our Christmas decor to this new house...but it was so fun to find new spots to decorate and to see our "favorite things" in a new perspective!

Let's begin in the family room:

Stockings hung by the chimney...and the mantle decorated for the first time ever! (Our advent countdown books are in that red basket!)

The "kitchen tree" in the family room. (No room in the kitchen this year...and the real tree didn't fit in the family room, so it's off in the "library.") Thankful for the warmth & twinkle of this little tree.

So excited to have a piano to decorate this year! I bought the score of Handel's Messiah on a whim at a used bookstore this summer, hoping that I could use it "someday."

This nativity is my favorite. I began to paint it just before Nathanael was born...and I finished it a few weeks before Madeleine was born. So many precious memories of my own hopeful expectations while pondering the One in whom our Hope rests.

The Library:

Our tree, full of special ornaments. And you can see a peek of the Christmas train off to the left.

The children's gingerbread village. They love setting this up each year. It's lovely at night...when all the lightbulbs work!

This might be Hadleigh's very favorite Christmas decoration. She is probably the only one who remembers a Christmas spent at my parent's home...and therefore, my parent's little skating rink. Madeleine's first Christmas was also the first one we didn't spend in Asheville. We were back and forth between Texas and moving to Oklahoma that December...and my Mom found an ice skating pond, just like hers, so that our Christmas would have something familiar to add to our new family traditions for Christmas. It is still magical to watch...and Hadleigh can often be found, mesmerized as she watches the skaters glide across the pond.

The Dining Room:

Our advent candles...I love the mercury glass candlesticks instead of a wreath!

Hadleigh and Nathanael made a pair of these banners when they were 3 & 5...and I think they are one of my favorite child-made decorations.

On top of the buffet...

And below. I love to see the pile of Christmas cards grow! (And mine are going out tomorrow!)

In the office/craft space:

Christmas projects of mine over the years on a top shelf.

Our growing collection of December Daily albums...every year since 2008.  2010 & 2012 are in process!

And upstairs:

The children's room trees...the purple tree (selected by Madeleine) is new this year for her room. Nathanael's tree makes me smile each year, as I recall so many memories of it. 
It's first Christmas was in my college dorm!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into our home!  Let me know if you participated...I love seeing homes decorated at Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Traditions: Cookies

When I was a little girl, we discovered a bakery in Asheville that made the most delicious gingerbread men all year long. It was always a special treat to get one...and I remember that Mom would often surprise us and stop by on our way home from school to pick one out.

I was sad when the bakery closed...but this year, I think I've found a recipe that comes very close to those original cookies I loved!

My children love the Gingerbread Baby books by Jan Brett. And so they requested to bake gingerbread men and houses (and a pirate...can you spot him?) for this year's Christmas cookies.

This recipe, adapted from Annie's Eats is sure to be the new standard for gingerbread cookies at our house! Let me know what you think!

Gingerbread Cookies
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
16 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 large egg

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and all the spices to combine; set aside. 

2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed, using the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the molasses and egg and mix until combined.  Add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Cover the dough and chill for at least one hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Divide the dough into three parts. Keep chilled until ready to work with each part. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface, about 1/4 inch thick. Cut desired shapes with cookie cutters. Immediately place shapes on cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Place cookie sheet in refrigerator, about 10 minutes. Return unused dough to chill. Meanwhile, work on second part of dough. Repeat until all dough has been used.

5. After chilling the cookies, bake in the oven (one pan at a time) for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rach and cool completely. Decorate as you choose!

(I prefer my gingerbread men simple! )

What is your favorite Christmas cookie?

Friday, December 14, 2012

On the fourteenth of December...

...I am always thankful for my little brother.

He stands a head taller than I do...and my children sincerely doubt that there is any way he could be my "little" brother.

But on this day in 1981 I was blessed with such a gift in Michael. 

He is adored by his nieces and nephews (every picture I have of him from the last year has Hadleigh in it!) and he occupies a very special place in my heart.

Happy Birthday Michael! We love you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twelve on the Twelfth

The final edition of Twelve on the Twelfth.

  1. Second breakfast at Panera with my little hobbits.
  2. My apple/cherry/almond oatmeal
  3. Beginning adoption paperwork mailed! (More to come on this!)
  4. This one loves her handwriting practice workbook.
  5. Button wreath craft
  6. The sentiment describes our day. :)
  7. A happy scrapbooking mess...
  8. due to this year's December Daily album!
  9. My favorite nativity.
10. So glad I bought this over the summer, now that I have a piano to decorate at Christmas!
11. Advent countdown book for today...Nathanael's favorite!
12. A special gift that we all love given during Madeleine's first Christmas!

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