Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How do you make Christmas special?

A friend asked on her blog, "How do you make Christmas special?" ( See her blog here )I would have to say the 'traditions' that have developed over the years are one way we make Christmas special for our family.

When the girls were young, Christmas was rarely the same each year - some years I had to work, some years Tom had to work, some years we spent it at my sister's home in Indiana and some years we were at our home trying to make it to both sets of grandparents in one day.

We had a few things we did whenever we were in our own home for the holiday like watching "A Christmas Carol" with all four of us in our bedroom (that way I knew when they were asleep and it was safe to put out the presents and fill the stockings - they rarely made it past Marley's ghost). Most of our traditions were flexible like the "Wehrheim Family Ornaments". No matter where we celebrated or on what date, the ornaments have been a part of our Christmas for over 30 years.

In 1977, my sister Jane got the idea to put up 'stockings' on the mantle for everyone who would be at our parents' house on Christmas Day, She waited until everyone else had gone to bed and since I was a night owl even then - asked me if I wanted to help her. She had purchased a pair of socks for everyone (there were about 15 or so I think) from our parents down to the niece and nephew who had been born that year. There were men's work socks, brightly striped toe socks for my mom and our Aunt Ruth (yes those are not a new fashion statement - they were around over 30 years ago), sport socks and baby socks. We nailed one sock to the mantle then stuffed the other sock inside with some candy or a small toy. The shock on my mom's face the next morning was priceless - who in the world??? It did not take her very long to figure out who although my younger brother could have easily done something like that.

In 1978, Jane and I purchased gold engraved ornaments for everyone and hung them on the mantle. In 1979, we bought little wicker baskets, filled them with candy and placed them on the hearth - one for each person.

Then Jane married and moved to Michigan and did not even get to come home for Christmas 1980 - so I took over. And it became my 'task' every year. I started making some sort of ornament for everyone. One year my mom helped but usually it was my yearly project. (Dad made a special strip of wood to attach to the mantle so we would stop nailing holes for 15, 20 or even 30 ornaments each year)

The knitted snowmen from 1983 is one of my favorites

Then I got married and had a baby - who had time - right? So I announced on Christmas 1989 that Santa was retiring. Both sisters grabbed me by the arms and drug me into the bedroom to have a conference. They did not want the tradition to stop (it had been going on for 12 years by that time) They realized that since they did not live locally the bulk of the burden would still fall on me but they wanted to be elves. So we started planning for the next year.

Quilt square ornaments we designed in 1992

Over the years we have cross-stitched, painted, glued, laced, stuffed, designed - you name it. We also started having Sisters' Weekends in 1991 - and during our weekend retreat we would either start on the ornaments which we took home to finish or complete all of the ornaments over the weekend.

We made these trees on our Sisters' Weekend in 1999 with buttons from our mom's button box.

Some years we have not been able to find a time to get together so we just work on our share at our own pace. A few years we have 'allowed' other family members to help out.

Brother Ron and his wife, Sue, made these birdhouses in 1998

One year, a niece learned how to cross-stitch helping us make some of the family ornaments.

Cross-stitched Santa sacks in 2004

In God's providence in 1995 and 2005 one of our nieces agreed early in the year to do the ornaments for everyone using her skill in painting and stamping. Unknown to any of us (of course) those were the years our Mom ('95), youngest brother ('95), and Dad ('05) passed away. Those years were both very emotional and busy for us and making the ornaments that was one less thing we had to worry about. God is good!

Kelly's painted wooden mittens in 1995

Things have changed - Mom, Dad, Brother Dave, Aunt Nina, Aunt Ruth and Uncle Les are no longer with us.

We have another generation in the family.

We no longer get together on Christmas Day but usually sometime close to that - and even though Mom and Dad are gone - our family has remained very close and involved with each other.

A 'highlight' of the Christmas gathering is the delivery of the ornaments. Usually the grandchildren and great-grandchildren are handed the ornaments by one of the 'aunts' so they can deliver them to each family member. If there are any guests -they get an ornament too.

And our numbers have grown - we are up to 43. In 2010, we gained 3 (one birth and two marriages). In 2011 - we gained two new members through an engagement (congrats Jamie and Dave)and a birth (Luke). We are already expecting a new baby in 2012 (No - not Katie and Jake - Congrats to Nick and Grace).

And we have tweaked our criteria for the ornaments a little - we add the year and the recipient's name.

It is interesting - my sisters and I may not agree on everything - but I think we would agree on one thing - families are important and tradition is a glue that holds the family together. The best part of the tradition is the memories. When I put up our tree and pull out one of the family ornaments - it's not just something pretty to hang on the tree - it is a memory. I think about where we celebrated that year, how we got the idea for the ornament, who helped with the task, where we went for our Sisters' Weekend or the fun we had making them (and with a few, the PAIN we had making them).

The plastic canvas Santa clips were a real pain in 2006

Each one is special - and Lord willing we will continue making them for many years. In 2012, one of the great-nieces is requesting to help us so hopefully the tradition will carry on for many more generations.

In 1977 we did not 'plan' to create a 30+ year tradition (for our 30th anniversary we made some ornaments with snowmen cross stitched and put some music buttons inside so when you squeeze them they play Frosty the Snowman - and we have the '30 years' stitched on the back). We did what we love for the people we love.

30th anniversary musical snowmen in 2007

Monday, December 26, 2011

More Previews and a Tutorial

Here are some more cards featuring new products from the Occasions Mini Catalog (Jan 4 - April 30,2012) and the Sale-a-bration promotion (Jan 24 - March 31, 2012)

I have to admit I was not thrilled with the Gnome Sweet Gnome stamp set when I saw it in the Occasions mini catalog - I am just not a big gnomes fan. I received it free through a demonstrator challenge so thought I better play with it a litte. It is fun to color and experiment with the different stamps. On this card I used 4 stamps (girl gnome, watering can, mound of dirt and the bunch of flowers). I used my Stamp-a-ma-jig to get the placement of the stamps exactly where I wanted them. If you haven't used a stamp-a-ma-jig or need a refresher, check out my new tutorial HERE.

Here is a close-up of the Everyday Enchantment Designer Series Paper and Brads and Ribbons. These are all part of the 2012 Sale-a-bration promotion. You can receive these or other items free with every $50 in merchandise you purchase. A great way to get more for your money. The ribbon on this card is actually two ribbons twisted together.

Here is another fun little gnome. This image is done with two stamps (male gnome and a lantern). Once again I used my Stamp-a-ma-jig to place the lantern handle in his hand. This card also uses some of the Everyday Enchantment DSP and ribbon.

Here is a close-up of the ribbon and image. The Lucky Limeade and Calyspo Coral ribbons are very sheer and shiny.

This is another card using the Everyday Enchantment DSP. The stamped images are from Four Frames and Bring on the Cake. The Stamp-a-ma-jig again was very helpful to get the placement of the sentiment in the center of the frame. I used the Calypso Coral ruffled ribbon and the Decorative label punch on this card.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Preview of Mini Occasions

I am so excited about the Mini Occasions catalog that is coming out in January. Here is a preview of one of the great new products - Heart Framelits, varying sizes of heart dies that come nestled together in a package. I had so much fun playing with these today.

I used the smallest heart to cut the three hearts along the bottom of the card and also the center of the larger heart. I used the second smallest heart for the larger heart on the card. The stamp is from the I Heart Heart set. The colors are Cherry Cobbler and Sahara Sand. The designer paper is retired. I added some crochet trim and a punched eyelet border.

The second card uses two of the framelits and a new stamp set called Take it to Heart. The center heart and the banner outline are from that set. The sentiment is from Bring on the Cake. I embossed the background with the Vintage Wallpaper embossing folder and added an antique brad (which I got free through an SU demonstrator book-a-thon) to the crochet trim.

Here I changed up the colors a little. I had out the Candy Cane fabrics so thought I would play with that in the framelits. It took a little hand trimming but not bad. The hearts are all cut from the framelits. Colors used are Baja Breeze, Wild Wasabi and Pretty in Pink. The tag is from the Tiny Tags set. I looped some linen thread through it and adhered it behind the Baja Breeze heart. And why did I have the fabrics out - I was experimenting with a new idea I had from another demo's site.

I took some tiny glass votives and decoupaged fabric strips inside using Modge Podge. It was a little messy but really turned out cute. You brush the Modge Podge on the right side of the fabric strips and then put them inside the votive so the right side is stuck to the glass. When I finished I brushed more Modge Podge over the inside. I did the one on the right first and used all the strips from the same fabric. With the one on the left, I was trying for more of a 'crazy quilt' design. I'm not sure if they are safe for use with actual lit candles but I have some of the battery operated votive candles that I will use in them.

Next on my list is playing with some of the new ribbon and brads from the Sale-a-bration catalog.

Christmas cards, love them!

I love Christmas cards and the family newsletters that many people send. Love seeing how kids change from year to year in photos. Look forward to getting the mail with so many cards. I especially love getting handmade Stampin Up cards from my family, friends and customers. This year the popular stamp set was the Beautiful Season. It is cute but since I have the retired Cardinal Christmas I could not justify buying another Christmas bird set.

This card is from my sister who is also my upline SU demonstrator (guess that makes her my boss :-)

Another family member, a niece who belongs to one of my SU clubs, created this card.

And another from a club member . I like the way she stamped it on the So Saffron card stock. Gives it a whole different look.

Even though they all used the same stamp set, each card has a distinct look.

Here are some of my cards on display. I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought I would try it. Started with the china cabinet in the dining room.

Quickly had to move to the kitchen cabinets. And now those are full so am looking for other doors to tape ribbon and clip cards :-)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Menu Monday

I have started using Pinterest and that has re-kindled my love of cooking. So many recipes there and I just can't wait to use them. I tried a Tomato Basil soup over the weekend that was delish!

So I am going to make Menu Monday blog posts (or try to) so I have these documented and can find them during the week.

Monday - Taco Corn Bread Casserole

Tuesday- Baked Cheesy Chicken and Penne

Carrot and celery sticks

Leftovers or frozen pizza

Friday -
Bar-b-q Meatloaf
Mashed potatoes

Homemade Panini
Potato Pancakes

Sunday -
20 Minute Teriyaki Chicken and Rice
Ramen Slaw

Let's see if I can stick to the plan :-)