December 31, 2012

A Very Crafty Christmas! (in review)

Posted by Ethne~

Ok, it’s New Year’s Eve, and dinner is cooking, so I’m a little late on the Monday post, but I promised Lori I’d post today since she and Steve are prepping for their New Year’s party.  We’re not heading to little city, ND, for it and I’ve been moping.  She’ll tell you about it sometime this week.

Before the holidays get too far away from us, though, I wanted to give you a run-down of my crafty Christmas gifts, sans a couple of them which haven’t been given away yet.  That’ll have to be an update.

For Dad & Connie and Mom D & Dad D, Shaun and I made napkin rings out of forks a la this inspiration from a blog Lori often reads (Renovating a Brooklyn Limestone) here.  She’s pretty creative and loves Halloween.  If you’re into baby stuff, she had a baby, yesterday, so she just decorated a funky nursery.  I also made homemade cloth napkins with the hem stitch on Thrifty Nana’s (my mom) serger sewing machine.  So slick.  The forks were $.25 apiece from Salvation Army and the fabric was from my stash.

These are hers from Brooklyn Limestone; mine don't say 'eat' on them.
I used the serger hem stitch today to make little baby butt wipes for the girls' baby dolls - same principle for cloth napkins, they are just about 14"x14" or 16"x16", depending on what size you're aiming for.  FYI, the baby butt wipes are 3"x5" and they're adorable.

For all the gals, I crocheted scarves.  Mostly in the infinity patterns I found either on allfreecrochet.come or Pinterest like this one.  I did make up my own pattern and I plan to post that in January for you guys.  The yarn was all from Michael’s and JoAnn’s, with my coupons.

Scarf I made for Thrifty Nana

For Rich and Mel, we do Pinterest Challenge gifts for each other, but we haven’t gotten together, so those RAD gifts will be the update.  We can do multiple gifts for each other but can’t spend more than $10 apiece, besides the basic crafting supplies which we can use for other stuff like glue or Mod Podge.

I like the girls to give everyone an ornament, so this year Shaun saved up some beer bottle caps and we painted the insides of them white and then with a black felt-tip pen, some orange felt, Christmas-y ribbon and the glue gun, we created snowman ornaments.  I had everything except for the white acrylic paint, which, with my Michael’s phone app coupon, cost less than $2.

I also made a Santa key since our house doesn't have a fireplace.  All this was from the stash and I gave it to the girls on Christmas Eve to hang on our door.

I was jonesing to try the sharpie baked onto mugs/plates/etc. technique so I had the girls sign their names onto plain white coffee mugs I found at Good Will for less than $1 apiece – they were stoneware, so I knew they would hold up in the oven.  You write on the mug – if you mess up, you can remove it with rubbing alcohol – let it dry overnight, then bake it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  It’s supposed to be totally permanent, though I didn’t test the dishwasher.  We made one of these for Grandpa Paul (my dad) and Shaun’s brother, Scott (and to his we secretly had his future step-daughter, Ava, sign too).

This is from Pinterest - I totally didn't do the fingerprint thing.  We needed room for the 5-year-old Sharpie signatures.

Sorry I didn’t take pictures of all of these things.  If possible, I’ve provided links instead.  It was pretty much a gift-crafting sweatshop around this place, so I didn’t always think to have the camera at hand.

Last but not least, I did put the kids to work making a holiday decoration for our house: button Christmas trees.  Thrifty Nana gave me a big jar of old buttons, many of which I’ve used for the scarves; I’ve seen a lot of crafts with buttons on Pinterest, so what’s better than let the kids decorate a felt Christmas tree with glue and buttons?  Nothin’, that’s what.  Kept them busy for a good hour.  I sewed a metal keyring on the back with some green thread and then hung it onto the door via a small 3M hook.

I'd recommend Elmer's glue with wax paper beneath.

So that’s the Crafty Christmas!  It was a lot of fun.  Shaun and the kids got involved.  For his part, beating some forks into submission (17 to be exact), was a project Shaun could sign on for.

Happy New Year’s Eve, Friends!  Stay safe tonight!

December 25, 2012

Lyle, that Sneaky Elf!

Posted by Ethne~

Oy!  I find myself already at the end of Christmas!  Wonderful, as ever, and what a fun age for my children to celebrate!!  I was especially excited when the smoke alarm went off (dying battery) at 2:30 this morning - that's right, the one directly outside the girls' bedrooms.

Merry Christmas!
Whit and my sweet kitty, Theodore, who LOVES to celebrate
Thrifty Nana (seen here with the girls) got me a Canon Rebel camera (!!!!) for Christmas!!!

If any of you have missed us over the past week, I’m sorry, again, about that.  We’ve missed the ole blog too.  I’ve been doing a lot of crafty Christmas gifts, but one side-effect of making such gifts is I can’t blog about them yet.  D’oh!  And we had a snafu with the girls’ biggest Christmas gift which we purchased online, in advance, and was therefore supposed to be FOOLPROOF.  Well, only one (not two of the identical order) came, so I had to scramble out locally and find an equivalent.  To top it off, I got into a car accident.  Not bad, no injuries, and they THINK they can fix the damage.  Get on that, jack.  Sans the car accident, that pretty much summarizes Lori’s past week too.  She, Steve and Mur-Man are now in Williston spending Christmas with her parents and siblings and their families.

Since I haven't put together my crafty Christmas round-up yet (having just given most but not all of the gifts and of course not taking pictures of all), I'll post a few pictures of what our SNEAKY ELF LYLE has been up to.  He even trekked down to Omaha to make sure Grandpa Paul and Grandma Connie were minding their manners!

Partying with the Barbies
Playing the Playstation
Riding the Christmas wreath
Lyle riding the buffalo bronze in Omaha at Grandpa Paul and Grandma Connie's
Lyle on buffalo, close up
Grandpa Paul and Grandma Connie - OMG, how did that sneaky elf get down here?!
Christmas morning Lyle was seen ziplining onto the Christmas tree
Very brave!
One more shot - we were very impressed and figured Santa had a hand in this when he stopped in to drop off presents.
Merry Christmas to you and yours, Friends, from Ethne, Lori and our families!

December 18, 2012


Posted by Lori~

I continue to make little changes here and there in Mur-man’s room.  Basically, I am done with the little upgrades, with the exception of spray painting the heating vent white (to match the rest of the trim).

To make Mur-man’s bedding, I enlisted Crafty G-Ma (AKA my mom).  And, I purchased loads of  fabric at Wal-Mart (this is where I saw THE fabric).  They even ordered more fabric in for me and called when the fabric was in.  (I had NO IDEA that Wal-Mart would do this!)

Around $80.00 worth of fabric for the top and Crafty G-Ma picked out and purchased the fabric for the back.  I had enough to also make two coordinating pillow cases.

We opted to make it into a down comforter cover versus a quilt, because I already owned the comforter. 


December 17, 2012


Posted by Lori~

Here's a "sneak peek" of my family christmas card, complete with Steve, Mur-Man, Roger, and even our fish Finny!  I plan to show more (after the cards go out)!  By far one of my faves!  Just by reading it, you may be able to determine this year's "theme"! 

Please Help a Stranger and Hug Your Kids.

Posted by Ethne~

Sorry about our lack of posts this past week, Friends.  For my part, it’s just been nuts and the girls have been off the wall with what I can only guess is Christmas mania.  I know Lori had a really busy week too.

My Thursday was especially horrific (in its way), and I was going to write to you about it on Friday in my usual irreverent sarcasm, but then the shootings of those kids and teachers happened in Connecticut and it just didn’t seem fitting.  I still get tears in my eyes when I read about those little kids, and the teachers protecting them and covering them and hiding them in bathrooms.  That horror just didn’t compare to the mundane of my Thursday.

I still want to tell you about Thursday, though, now that a few days have passed.  It’s kinda funny, and touching, and laughter is a really good thing.  When you hear my full story, you’ll understand why I want to tell it.

So Thursday morning I woke up to KD very cheerfully getting dressed.  Then I realized that she was wearing an outfit I had seen A LOT OF recently.  I looked twice and it was TOTALLY DIRTY.  I told her she can’t wear dirty clothes, EVEN IF THEY’RE HER FAVORITE, because her school teachers will think we neglect her.  This sent us into full-scale nuclear meltdown.  She told me she hated me, I was ugly, she wished she never had a mother, she wished she never had a family, she kicked me, she punched me; she spent some time in time out, but we don’t have a lot of time to spare in the morning, so I ended up dressing my 5-year-old myself.  In clean clothes of my choosing.

In the meantime, I was also monitoring the dressing of Easy Mac.  She didn’t want to get up because she claimed she was sick.  I told her it wasn’t possible she was sick because I took her temperature and it was 96.3; and also because she just got off antibiotics.  This sent her into nuclear meltdown as well.  She kicked and screamed and refused to get dressed.  The whining, oh Lord, the whining.  Then she wanted to eat raisins and said she couldn’t go to school because she felt like she was going to throw up; I reminded her that if someone feels like they are going to throw up they don’t have an appetite for raisins.  Boy, this set off a new round of s%*tstorm.  She kicked and screamed as I dressed her, and then tried telling Shaun that she COULD eat raisins because she WASN’T sick.

By the time we got to putting coats, hats and mittens on, Shaun and I were ready to run for the hills.  Not literally, since we live in the plains of the Midwest, but pick your metaphor for mode of desertion.

Work, fortunately, was inconsequential, just standard and busy, but then I had to truck down to big city for a dr. appointment – don’t worry, I’m not dying, just a routine check-up.  After my appointment, I went to get out of the parking lot, and I noticed that there WAS NOT THE LITTLE VISA/MASTERCARD sign on the outside of the pay booth.  I knocked on the window, knowing darn well that I did not have but pennies in my wallet, and sure enough, they only take cash or check.  Bonus: I would have to trek a good block through the innards of United Hospital (and get lost in the birthing ward on the wrong floor) trying to find the ATM for a total of $4.00 I owed.

But that’s not the end of the story.  When I finally found the ATM, the PIN number I am SURE is correct, was rejected.  I about died.  I walked away from the machine and called my sister, in despair.  “What am I going to do, Whit?  There is no way I remember my PIN.  I am stuck in this lot in downtown St. Paul!” I whispered.  I told her I had to go call Shaun and see if he could look it up online for me or something.  Well, I had gone a few feet and some angel came up to me and said, “How much do you need?”  I said, “Four bucks.”  She handed me a ten dollar bill and quietly walked off.  I don’t even know her name.  I almost cried except I was right there in the lobby and felt dumb for not having any money in the first place.

When I finally made it back to my car (I got lost again on the way out of the hospital), I paid, and I kept the remaining $6.  I plan to put $1 in a Christmas ornament to remind me of that nice stranger’s goodness, and I will pay the rest forward to someone else, when I see a need.  I won’t brag about it, though, since I think that cheapens the good deed somehow. 

All I have to say, Friends, is just doing one small deed can make all the difference in the world for another person.  That lady had no idea I was having the day from hell.  She just overheard me tell my sister I couldn’t remember my PIN number and I was stuck in that dumb lot over $4.  But boy, did her small deed make my day a million times better.  I was able to get to the girls’ daycare to pick them up on time, and they were excited to see me; we had to dicker with them a little bit at dinnertime, but they were noticeably better Friday morning (having picked out *approved* clothes the night before) which made a huge difference as I yearned to hug them all day long as I heard reports of someone killing little kids at an elementary school in Connecticut.

So, you see, the stranger helping me out not only got me out of the parking lot on Thursday, but she also made the rest of my day better and that rolled into my Friday morning being better and that rolled into me not feeling guilty about having yelled at my kids (since I didn’t) as I heard about other people’s terrible, terrible tragedies.

God Bless.  Now please go hug your kids, help a stranger and say a prayer for those teachers and kids.

December 11, 2012


Posted by Lori~

Recently, I did a semi-reorgnization of my linen closet.  Then a trip to IKEA, re-inspired me. Yuck!  What a mess it had become!

I actually purchased these white containers at IKEA.  They are actually in the food storage section of IKEA and are a total steal.  They do come in packs of two (notice that one has holes and one does not).

MUCH BETTER!  PS:  I did go through and end up throwing a bunch of expired items, organized a bunch of items.  IT FEELS SO GOOD TO BE ORGANIZED!

December 10, 2012

Ethne's House is Decked for Christmas!

Posted by Ethne~

We’ve got our house all decked out for Christmas ~ which I say lasts from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, but the culmination being Jesus’ Birthday!  It’s my favorite time of the year besides my birthday and the girls’ birthday (same day) (and of course I reserve the right to have several other favorite times of the year but I’m pretty sure those are the top three).

We really don’t have a themed tree, like all silver or plaid ribbons with red cardinals or something – our tree is full of the sentimental ornaments collected from childhood (mostly mine since Shaun’s kid ones are still on his parents’ tree), from our time together, and now the girls’ growing collection.  I love to look at each ornament and wouldn’t have a themed tree in exchange for anything.  Of course, if I had won the Powerball last week, we’d most certainly have purchased a mansion with a big old entryway and then I could have a themed tree in the entryway to look snooty and them my sentimental tree in the living room where we didn’t care so much about being snooty.  And it could be real too, because my cleaning staff could pick up the pine needles.  TOTALLY.

Shaun is awesome about decorating, too.  I don’t think I could’ve married a Christmas Scrooge.  He decorates the house with me – outside (I supervise) and inside!! – applies the lights and garland to perfect alignment on the tree (I like real, he likes fake, but for the sake of our marriage, I’ve compromised on fake with balsam fir-smelling candles) and he doesn’t raise objection to all of my Christmas crafting that grows exponentially (not really, since I give a lot away) each year.  PLUS, he is totally on board with our Elf on the Shelf, Lyle.

Lyle macking on the Barbies

So here’s what we’ve got.  If it gives you any ideas, that’s wonderful.  We’d love to hear about your Christmas decorating traditions, too!

The tree - wine cork garland juxtaposed with nativity tree skirt - totally works.
It plays ' Halleluiah ' when it lights up too
I made the teensy mouse in the walnut shell
The famous leg lamp from 'A Christmas Story'

Shaun's Jack Skellington
The girls' first ornaments ~ from Shaun and me
The Christmas Pickle - so many layers of interpretation
I loved this ornament as a kid - one of my first
The Advent calendar I painstakingly made last year
This day Lyle was hanging in the door wreath (inside of course, where he can watch)
Santa Homer doesn't dance anymore when he sings, but he's still Shaun's favorite decoration
Whit made this weekly Advent candle hanging years ago, modeled after one she made in Sunday School as a kid.
The musical houses are the village aroung my Christmas cactus centerpiece at our table.  Note the teeny owl sitting in the cactus. 

December 6, 2012


Posted by Lori~

As you know here, Mur-Man celebrated his 3rd birthday recently with a ROCK themed party!  And in honor of the party (and to continue the theme), mom (aka Crafty G-Ma) and my two nephews (J and P) and I whipped up some microphone cupcakes!  SUPER EASY!  Perfect for a daycare birthday celebration.
Ahead of their visit, I made and froze chocolate cupcakes (out of the box).  When they arrived, I thawed them out. 

You simply take colored ice cream cones and put some M&Ms (or other candy) in the middle to weigh down the cone.  You then put frosting on the inside edge of the cone and place the cupcake to ensure that it won’t move.  From there you frost the cupcake and then cover with sprinkles.

ADORABLE and awesome!

December 5, 2012


Posted by Lori~

I cannot believe it…I can remember this day three years ago like it was yesterday.  I could do a play-by-play of the timeline (6 a.m. induced, 11 a.m. begging for an epidural, 11:30 a.m. napping, and 1:20 p.m. bringing Mur-Man into this world!)

Time flies!  I am blessed!


Here’s the run-down of the big shebang!  You name it…we did it!