Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Ornaments, part 2

Ok, time for a second installment of Jesse Tree ornaments.

Day 5: The ram represents God's provision of a ram after He called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It reminds us that Jesus was sacrificed in our place.

Day 6: The ladder, from Jacob's dream about the ladder. This reminds us that Jesus is always with us.

Day 7: Joseph's coat. We modified the scripted devotion slightly; we focused on the parallel between Joseph being thrown into the pit, and then brought out again, as Jesus died as was raised again.

Day 8: The 10 Commandments represent the Law, both the fact that we cannot follow it perfectly, and the fact that Jesus did.

Day 9: The grapes represent Israel's promised land, and remind us that God is making a home for us.

Day 10: The sheaf of wheat represents the story of Ruth and the fact that Jesus is our redeemer.

Day 11: With the slingshot, we talked about David and Goliath, of course, and the fact that God is our strength.

Day 12: The scroll reminds us of Josiah and his faithfulness and that God's word is to be central in our lives.

Day 13: It may be hard to see the small green shoot coming out of the stump, but the shoot from the stump of Jesse describes Christ. The line of Jesse was thought to have died out, but Jesus is the new life from the old.

Whew, that was a lot to post all at once. Tonight I made or finished three more, so we're good through Friday. The only hard part about this project has been staying a couple days ahead of our devotions. I have only 7 left to make, and then we'll have them for years to come. For those of you who are thinking about doing this yourself, I hope my pictures can give you some good ideas for your own ornaments. I'd love to see how others have interpreted and created the ornaments.

Monday, December 13, 2010

In the Bag

This year for Mother's Day, I made a tote bag for Brian's Mom. She is involved in several Bible studies, and has binders and study materials, in addition to her Bible, to take to her lessons. She mentioned about a year ago that she needed another bag to carry all her books in, so I volunteered to make her one. I modified an existing pattern I had for a market bag (it would have been about twice as deep) so that it would be a better fit for her books and binders. We went to Joann's to browse through the fabric and pick out something that she liked. We settled on a pre-quilted fabric, which gives the bag a bit more sturdiness (is that a word?) and also happens to be rather popular right now. The neat thing about this particular fabric was that it had contrasting prints on either side. I was able to use the contrasting fabric for the straps, and the inside of the bag has a more finished appearance.

I think the funniest part of the whole process was when Brian's parents came out for Thanksgiving. I looked at the bag his mom brought in and had enough time to think "that looks familiar, I wonder why" before I realized that I had made it!

Friday, December 10, 2010

More Table-Scaping

Ok, another table-related post. My sister and her new husband have set up house with the old table that we grew up with. It's a good, sturdy table, but certainly not the most attractive member of the table species. So my wedding present to them was a table cloth to cover it up. :) It was hard to tell who was more grateful...Carrie or Field.

Black may seem like an odd choice for a table cloth. Their every day dishes are red, with black backs. I didn't want to use a fabric that was going to clash with the red in the dishes, so I decided on a neutral. The border is a black and white floral print to provide some relief from the solid black.

After I finished the table cloth, I had some extra fabric left over, so I decided to make matching napkins rings. I have some jewelry wire left over from a previous project, so I cut some to the right length, and sewed small strips of fabric around the wire. If they had been a bit longer, they would have been more successful, but I think they're still fun.

Before Carrie's wedding, we realized that she had registered for the same fine china that Brian and I have. So I set the table with the china so she could get an idea of what the table would look like. Of course, I never actually sent her the photos, so I don't know that I helped her out much. So, Carrie, these photos are for you. We'll just pretend that you still need them, instead of being able to set your own table.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thanksgiving Table

This year, we had the privilege of hosting Brian's family for Thanksgiving. Setting the table with the special china made we want to do something special with the rest of the table. We don't have much in the way of traditional table decorations, so I had to get creative. I took advantage of the over-abundance of acorns that have fallen on the driveway in the last few weeks, and Jonathan helped me gather some, until we finally had enough to fill several glass candle holders. Then he, Brian and Papaw scoured the backyard for leaves that had changed colors.

Pulling the fall color into the house helped me feel a little more at peace with our Texas fall. I miss the fall color of the Appalachians more than anything else about the east (or at least as much as the mountains), so it made my heart happy to see so much color on my table. I got a little piece of autumn right here in Texas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent Ornaments, part 1

We've started a new family tradition this year, called a Jesse Tree. I've heard this term used to describe several different things, but in this case, it is a sort of Christmas advent tree. Every night leading up to Christmas, starting December 1, we read a short devotion that talks about or points to Christ. Then we hang an ornament on the tree that corresponds to the devotion and serves as a reminder of what we've learned that night.

We're using a combination of bought and hand-made ornaments, with most of them being hand-made, of course. This is me we're talking about. I wanted to post pics of the ornaments, in case anyone else wants ideas for the same thing, or is just curious about how I've been spending my evenings this month.

Day 1 is creation, and we learn that God created the world, and that Jesus was present at and helped with Creation. We were able to find the world image below, which I was glad for, since geography has never been my strong suit. As it was, I just had to get everything facing roughly north and drill a hole for the ribbon. Drilling, thankfully, is one of my strong suits. ;)

Day 2: the Fall, brought about by Adam and Eve's first sin, represented by an apple/fruit with a snake. I made this one out of two pieces of felt sewn together, with a green felt snake wrapping around the apple.

Day 3 covered the story of Noah's ark and the rainbow, and discussed how Jesus saved us. I had a lot of fun making this ornament out of craft foam and a piece of cork wall covering, but somehow the picture has disappeared. I'll try to post a picture later, but Jonathan's asleep and the tree is in his room.

Day 4 described the calling of Abram, represented by a tent and camel. I did free-hand sketch the tent, but totally stole the camel profile from Microsoft clip art. I'd still be sitting at the table if I had to draw a camel by hand. Architecture drawing classes did not cover animal figure drawing!

Day 5 told the story of Abraham's (near) sacrifice of Isaac, and how the ram represents Christ's death in our place. This story is represented by a ram, which I made out of craft foam.

We're actually up to day seven now, but I'm not up to date on all my pictures. We didn't get all the ornaments made before the start of the month, so I'm having to make them as we go along, and just try to stay ahead of the schedule. I haven't had many idle nights this month. Of course, it doesn't help that I somehow decided that it would be a good idea to make presents for everyone on my side of the family. I have a few of those finished already, but I'll have to wait until after Christmas to post pictures. Sorry, fam, no advance notice of what you're getting under the tree!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Greener Cleaners

As I mentioned in the last post, a few months ago I started thinking about the chemicals I was cleaning with around Jonathan, realizing that I didn't feel comfortable using them when he was around. As a result, I switched to a cleaning solution that I mix up at home, described in the previous post.

A few weeks ago, while browsing at Half Price, I ran across a book called "Green This! Greening your Cleaning." It was on clearance for $3, so I bought it. I've been reading/skimming it this weekend, and it's pretty interesting. If I read really closely and buy into everything the author says about the chemicals that surround us, I'll soon find myself unable to leave the house or eat anything I didn't grow myself, so I'm taking everything in with the proverbial grain of salt. But I'm definitely up for cleaning ideas that use less harmful chemicals while saving me money. (Who isn't?!) Since I thought a few of you might be interested, I thought I'd share a few of the cleaning suggestions that she has put in the book:

(Disclaimer: I have not tried all of these, so I can't guarantee that they'll be completely successful. They just sound good to me.)

Hard Floors: The microfiber cloths (like with the Swiffer dry system) can be washed and dried in your machine, between 5 and 10 times each cloth, according to the author. I tried this last week with one of my (name brand) cloths and it worked. That is definitely good news, given how pricey those are.

Bathroom: Instead of toilet bowl cleaner, sprinkle baking soda in the bowl, followed by distilled white vinegar. Scrub with the toilet brush like usual, and flush. I did this today, allowing the solution to sit a few minutes after scrubbing, and my toilets are sparkling clean, without the nasty smell.

Pest control - Roaches and ants: She suggests this mixture for getting rid of these pests (wish I'd had this in undergrad!) Combine 1 cup borax + 1/4 cup crushed fresh pepper +1/4 cup crushed bay leaves in a jar, close and shake well. This can be sprinkled in the corners of pantries, drawers, other pesty places, and should get rid of these nasty bugs.

Laundry: Add a cup of vinegar to the wash cycle to keep colors bright and as a natural fabric softener. **Do not combine vinegar with any product containing bleach!**

Like I said, I haven't tried all of the above solutions, but they seem interesting and I'll probably give them a try. If I try other tips in the book, I'll try to keep you "posted" on their effectiveness and cost.

And just in case you're interested, check out 1001 uses for White Distilled Vinegar for additional cleaning tips.