1-1-11 and “A Handmade Holiday” Part I

Happy New Year!  Good-bye, 2010.  We had a blessed year in 2010.  My hubby completed his degree.  We watched as our sweet son turned five and successfully entered Kindergarten with barely a glance back.  We learned that we would soon welcome a third child into our family.  We’ve watch our second child grow tremendously in his speech over the last few months, and that means that we get to enjoy twice as many of the sweet (and funny) things that kids say.  I never want to forget that our two year old wished everyone a “Merry Pick-us” this year. 

When 2010 began, I had two primary resolutions.  First, I would learn to sew.  I’m still not an expert by any stretch, but as you’ll see below, I can now handle the basic operation of my sewing machine.  I love sewing, and I hope to set aside more time for it in the coming year.  Secondly, I resolved to move forward with my graduate studies with “vigor, enthusiasm, and commitment.”  That particular goal took an unexpected turn in May when I decided to postpone the final stage of my work and perhaps shift subject-matter entirely.  Well, it wasn’t completely surprising to me.  I contemplated the choice at length with perpetual prayer and a critical eye, but I think it might have been largely unexpected for many people in my life.

As I enter 2011, I have the freedom to learn new things every day.  I can practice a knitting technique or read up on the latest research on overuse of antibiotics.  I can make clay animals with my sons or sit down with my husband for a cup of Earl Grey when our little guys are in their bunk beds.  I can read Little Women AGAIN just because I feel like it.  So…given this freedom, how will I resolve to improve myself and my family in the coming year?

1.  I will keep a tidy (not perfect, just tidy) home.  Organization does not come naturally to me, so I will be putting a very specific plan into place in order to work toward this goal.  More about my plans later. 

2.  I will listen to more music.  Okay, this might sound like a silly goal, dear readers, but I have some real reasons.  I promise.  Sometimes, even a house full of the sounds of two very active little boys seems too empty, too quiet.  I find myself turning on and leaving on talk radio or random podcasts even when I don’t have a real interest in the topic. My recent pattern is the masked return of an old habit that I thought I had broken.  I used to put on the television…not to watch, just to have sound…when my husband wasn’t around or he was working in our home office (a.k.a. the attic).  My brain would feel frantic without sound.  Once my kids started paying attention to the TV, I made myself turn it off.  But little by little, I’ve noticed that I’m giving into the need for sound again.  Pretty harmless, right?  Probably.  But sometimes I find myself placing more attention on the radio show than the play of my kids.  I become disengaged from the learning and fun right in front of me, and my mind heads into thoughts of politics, religion, and other assorted topics.  The solution?  Music.  Good music that lifts my spirits and exposes my children to new, rich sounds.  I can have the sounds I need without being distract from the present.  And if the music gets us up and dancing, even better!  I’ve been in a music rut for years, so I’m eager for your suggestions!

3.  I resolve to appear in more of our family photographs.  I will not stay behind the camera!

On to Christmas…

Way back in the summer when Christmas felt like forever away, I promised myself that I would have a “Handmade Holiday” this year.  I would make gifts for loved ones, and the gifts that I didn’t make would be handmade by another crafter or would support a private business.  In the fall, I made my commitment official by signing up here .  (But I see now that I’ve been deleted.  Hmm…I was there a couple of weeks ago.  I guess I didn’t update my blog enough.)  Anyway, as Christmas approached, I was disappointed that I didn’t have as many handmade gifts as I had hoped.  I felt sad that the end-of-semester rush kept me from making some of the projects I had planned, but throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the aesthetic of “handmade” that I so love kept coming up in small but inspiring ways.  I’ll share our bits of “Handmade Holiday” in several posts.

On Christmas Eve, the boys and I made salt dough ornaments inspired by this amazing post by Katy Elliot. 

Wow.  This project certainly brought back memories.  My sister and I often played with salt dough at Grandma Kitty’s house.  I clearly remember a dough birthday cake that we painted pink with watercolors.  We poked holes in the top of the cake so that we could stick the required number of candles in it.  So much fun!

That’s my sister’s pretty little hand putting one of our ornaments on our parents’ tree.

“O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by…”

I’ve had this owl pennant on the list of potential gifts for months.  I found it here at Moonstitches.  I have no idea how I came across this blog or its 2007 post, but as soon as I saw these spunky little owls, I knew I had to make them for my sister.  Then, I grew so fond of them that I decided that my mom needed a set as well. 

The original pattern calls for linen for the belly pieces, but I chose to use wool felt to avoid fraying or any need for ironing.  I hate ironing.  I just slipping the jiggle bells over the twine, so my sister and my mom can easily remove the bells if they want their pennants to be year-round decorations.  “Joy” isn’t only for Christmas, you know.

I’ll have more to share soon.  Wishing you a healthy, happy, and creative 2011!

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8 thoughts on “1-1-11 and “A Handmade Holiday” Part I

  1. Hi Erica…thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. 🙂 I like sewing too, have rediscovered it the past three years or so…trying to remember what I learned in that 8th grade home ec class so long ago. I also connect with your goals on music. I think music can really set the tone and flavor of the home or car. We listen to mostly Christian artists…but I do have a few instrumentals, and some 40’s music… My newest daughter (11 years old) is longing for some Ethiopia music, so I am going to hunt for some. Since I don’t speak the language, but she does, I need to talk to someone who can recommend child appropriate music.

    Happy sewing and have a blessed 2011.

    1. Thanks for visiting! Wow…Ethiopian music sounds interesting. We have borrowed some African music from our local library. We enjoy Christian music as well, but we mix things up often. Happy 2011 to you, too!

  2. I loved reading this post! I have purchased two journals for the new year. One is for making notes and keeping track of what is going on daily in my family’s life. The other was for my Ah-ha moments with God, pondering moments, and just vent moments. I have gotten out of the practice and it wasn’t a positive move. You know we writers…we have to ..well…write! Or we explode. 😉

    I know you must be missing music…we were raised with music playing all the time. Gram was always playing her music…your mom always was playing music. Even Unc was always playing music upstairs when he still lived with Gram and Papa. We all love to sing…we are just musically blessed…whether we can sing or not..or play an instrument or not…God still hears a perfect pitch…a joyful noise.

    Okay…I’ll stop..hee hee…You make me wish I lived closer! 😦 🙂

    1. Oh yes! I remember that as you walked up Gram’s sidewalk you could hear the Sound of Music sound track practically making the walls shake. And Unc has been a huge influence on my musical tastes. John Prine, Jackson Browne, Steve Miller Band!

      Thanks for visiting. It’s nice that we share so many of the same memories.

  3. This Christmas I had mom bring me her box of old ornaments we used to use on the tree as kids..on top..was an ornament made by your mom! A little flet bell with Christmas Wish attached! I think she sent them as her “card” that year! What fun that I now have it for my tree!
    We made the salt dough ornaments last year, sadly this year my “crafty” gene was not awakened. Have you ever made the cinnamon/applesauce ornaments with the boys?

    1. I remember those felt ornaments! How nice that it has been preserved all these years. We’ve never made the applesauce ornaments, but I remember them from Sunday School. Do you have a recipe?

  4. thanks so much for your message, Erica. I loved reading about the salt ornaments. I can’t wait to read more of your blog and know there is someone else out there who shares all my existential crises.

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