Monday, February 1, 2010

'Twas A Crafty Christmas

I've been patiently waiting to tell you all about some of the crafty Christmas gifts that I made this past season!  One of the items that I am proud to showcase was not opened until sometime this past month of January, so I couldn't exactly post a picture previous to that moment.  Creations that I am about to share with you, in further detail and photographs, are done by me, a family member, or a man with expensive equipment.  You may click on the photos that you see throughout this blog to enlarge the image.  I know this is a lengthy blog, but I've been anxious to share since long before Christmas!!!

You will find that I don't often stick with one type of craft.  When I can't pull something off on my own, I can usually look to my Mom, my husband, or my brother for assistance. My family is a very creative bunch. A few of our combined talents are sewing, painting, drawing, paper crafting, carpentry, etc.

The first fantastic creation I'd like to share with you is one of the most important of the holiday season.  Above on the left, you will spy a black and white photograph with red accents.  Let me just tell you that Adobe Photoshop is a friend of mine.  After everyone got dressed for our annual Christmas photos, we set up our photo area (in the living room), and placed our camera on the tripod.  A number of pictures were snapped with our Canon PowerShot before we got the desired look.  Then, I worked hard to create the portrait that you see before placing it onto a 4x8 photo card design from Shutterfly.

Each year, I find that one of the best gifts created is in the memories.  Including my boys in crafting Christmas gifts is not only fun, but a chance to teach them to take time to do something for others.  Thoughtful gifts are more important than expensive presents.  Pictured to the right is a little glimpse into some of the activities that kept us busy this past holiday season, as well as some special gifts made for my sweet little guys. 

Ceramic frames were painted and sealed before a photograph of the elf like designers was placed inside.  A narrow window flanking our doorway has been decorated since October with colored drawings that feature peep holes to look outside.  Twenty-five yards of banner paper really goes a long way!  Teachers, school staff, and our favorite storytime librarian each received packets of cocoa & marshmallows in a mug or disposable hot drink cup (with the lid) as a Christmas gift.  O's classroom teacher received a couple of other items to go along with her cocoa.  After pulling out some fleece fabric, that was just waiting to be stitched, and purchasing 2 long sleeved green shirts, my boys had one of a kind matching pajamas this year.  We took the time to find Yoda online and turn him into an iron-on transfer so the outfits were complete.  A simple "O" and "M" stitched on the waistbands helps take care of any confusion and fighting.  Of course, this Christmas would not have been complete without Buzz Lightyear and Jeff Gordon blankets with sleeves (otherwise known as a Snuggie) made by Grandma.  As my boys are seriously into reading and Leapster games, these are well used and loved.

 One of the other fun items on our list this year was not a Christmas gift at all.  In fact, it was a baby gift for O's teacher from the previous year.  I created a set of burp clothes with cloth diapers, a little fabric, and an embroidery machine.  My Mom created a Strawberry Shortcake receiving blanket to complete the package. 

Another fabulous creation this past holiday season has a back story.  I know you are curious, so without further ado...  In the Winter of 2009, my youngest son began calling himself "Super M...."  I have no idea where he gets this love of super heroes --looking behind me to make sure my husband isn't calling me on my fib-- but he certainly feels as though he is one.  When Mother's Day 2009 approached, my oldest son decided that he wanted to "write a book for Grandma."  While he created a masterpiece, I asked my youngest child what he wanted to do for Mother's Day.  He insisted on making a "Super M" movie.  Before you ask... Yes, we certainly did!  He told me all of the heroic things that Super M would do and with a little help from Adobe Premiere Elements, we put it all together.  Now that you have the back story, you should know that for the past few years, we have also created a family Christmas dvd.  This year, my children decided that Super M should make another appearance.  Of course, we didn't stop there.  Super O joined the cast of characters as well as COAL Man.  Costumes were winterized and upgraded to include a new iron-on shirt and shiny blue cape (which Grandma took care of as my machine was in the shop).  Writing the family skit was fun for me, especially when I could throw in some double meanings and tongue in cheek moments.  I must say that my boys are getting very good at following a script and acting things out.  Everyone who saw our family movie this year enjoyed watching it almost as much as we did making it.

Creating something special for my father-in-law and his girlfriend was high on my priority list this Christmas.  With some help from my Mom, we purchased a glass pillar candle holder that would be etched with one of their most loved photographs.  This was completely out of my area of expertise, so we brought the item to a man who has very expensive equipment for this purpose.  When the gift was created, a wooden plaque was also included.  They turned out beautifully!

 Probably my absolute top of the list gift this year was a stationary set.  I enjoyed putting together these personalized gifts more than almost anything else.  When I was having a bad day, I sat down to create and came up with this Christmas item... as well as a way to relieve my stress.  By the time I was done with one, I was relaxed.  Four of the five note sets are pictured above.  I personalized each set with favorite colors and items, such as umbrellas and airplanes.  My new red Cricut Expression even helped complete the vision I had for my older brother's set. 

Before Christmas, I asked my older brother, M, to create a special gift for my boys. After telling him my basic idea, I said "it's all yours," and let him break out his carpentry skills.  The force was most certainly with him as he created a one-of-a-kind lightsaber holder for my young padawans!  -- Sorry.  The nerd in me forgets that not everyone is one with the Star Wars lingo.  Padawans are Jedi-in-training.-- I'm thrilled with the results and so are his nephews!

A few unphotographed items should also be mentioned to get the full effect of my personalized gift giving spirit.  Shutterfly was used to create fancy schmancy calendars for a few family members, as I have done in the past.  In all the hustle and bustle, I neglected to photograph hand stitched luggage tags (addresses were done with an embroidery machine) and a few variations of other previously mentioned items.  All in all, I enjoyed crafting for Christmas and hopefully created smiles for the recipients to go along with their gifts.

I know this was an incredibly long post, so thank you for reading!  Regardless of the length, did you enjoy hearing about my crafty creations?  Would you like to see more posts (shorter next time I promise) like this one?  What have you created lately (with or without your kids)? 

Congrats to Taylor Swift on her impossible dream!!!