Oh it really is Christmas! Yay! I love this time of year, and getting a Christmas tree is one of the best days of the festive season…well it should be…but you know how life is, sometimes it just isn’t so. This year we had intentions of cutting down a tree, rather than buying a pre-cut one. I wanted to go to a Christmas tree farm and and actually saw down a live tree (gosh that sounds terrible, kill a tree!). I had heard about a wonderful Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania from a friend only a 90 minute drive from our house, and I decided we just had to go there! I became very excited planning our day out. I got up early on Sunday, baked muffins, made a thermos of tea, packed a picnic blanket, made sure the girls were dressed snug as two little bugs, filled the car with gas, and off we went.
We got about 10 minutes down the road and the whining and whinging began…”I want to watch cartoons on the iphone.”…Elle insisted. “I want to listen to a different Cd.” Maya complained. And so it goes, two children who would rather not be in the car for an hour and half start the verbal dispatch, that feels totally bombarding and impossible to dispel. Cam responded with threats to turn back home, and being that I actually think the children need to be able to sit and look out the car window without constant stimulation and entertainment, I did not intervene when he pulled off the highway and headed back towards Montclair. I was very sad that my happy perfect family life experience was not going to be all of that…and I was pretty peeved that I had gone to the effort to make it all happen, only to turn back around for tantrums. Humph! Kids! But I was pleased that my husband was not full of empty threats and that he acted on his words. “Girls, be quiet or we will go home”…and so we did. We went home. Without a tree.
These are the lessons that I feel we must teach the children, Misbehave and you miss out. I don’t want my children to grow up to be needy. I don’t want them to need something every time we are in a car. Did someone say “snack?” and I certainly don’t want them to need constant stimulation from a device…iphone, ipad, or ipod. Why, because i-say. Look out the window, close your eyes and have a nap, or, use that other wonderful thing that starts with i, your i-magination.
And so that is exactly what I did. I imagined I went to the adorable Christmas tree farm. I imagined we arrived just as a fog was lifting, and the tops of the trees were emerging from dense white. I imagined everything was dewy and moist from the condensation and the air was still cold enough that we were breathing fog. I imagined the Grandson of the Farm founder, who explained to us the protocol while giving us one of the red and white candy cane measuring sticks that was leaning against the 100 year old stone house. I imagined we happily walked through the paddock of trees, searching for the perfect tree to take home with us. I imagined the children co-operated to carry the measuring stick, one either end, walking peacefully until we reached the tree we thought was ours…I imagined, a wonderful live and fresh Christmas tree!
Sounds perfect right! Now what actually happened was that we went without a tree that weekend, and the following weekend Cam went down the road alone to the local Montclair tree lot “Fred’s Trees” and picked a tree out by himself and brought it back to us. I was still a bit perturbed that I did not get to go to the Christmas tree farm and did not feel like going to the tree lot. I did not want a lot tree…I wanted an experience, I wanted to go to a farm, and cut a fresh tree so that it would hold its needles! But as you can imagine…this scenario, of a 5 minute drive alone suited Cam just fine. Anyway I did not get my imagined perfect tree, but you know what, we ended up with another kind of perfect. We have a beautiful tree, and I am grateful for that…and even though I was decorating the tree I did not want, it is the best tree we have ever had, and it is beautiful.
Note: Still using broken camera…so difficult!
Now if you are part of my family – don’t read this, or it will spoil the surprise!
I like to have a handmade Christmas gift to give my family each year. Last year we gave them needle felted toadstools, and this year they will recieve screen printed dish towels. Last week I had a little printing factory in the basement and I screen printed Maya’s heart image onto a dozen dish towels. This is really not many, but screen printing, like everything done by hand involves trial and error, and time, precious time. Certainly one gets better at these things as one goes along, but even a small batch like this involved me washing/drying the screen and re-taping it three times…because I kept bleeding the paint! I am happy to say though, that even so, I managed to print all of the dish towels without wasting any. Good odds! I wanted twelve to give away, and I did it. Maya was really happy to see her design re-printed. You might remember when we screen printed Maya’s drawing onto t-shirts. We then went on to make a pair of screen printed cushion covers that I sewed out of recycled sheets. We gave them away before I had a chance to take photos.
Gift giving can be expensive, and I am please to say this was a thrifty project, as I purchase the dish towels from Ikea for 79 cents each. I looked other places, but I was unable to find any plain towels to print on elsewhere. I would have liked heavier quality fabric, but the price was right! I loved how they turned out, and think they are a simple, sweet and useful gift. I was pleased that they were small and light weight to post of to Australia. I tied some red and cream ticking ribbon around them and attached a hand stamped gift tag with bakers twine. Then packaged them up in a bundle and shipped them out. Nothing much to give, but a little creative handmade something to let them know we are thinking of them on Christmas day.
If anyone is interested in screen printing, I am very happy with the kit we have – Maya received it for her 6th Birthday, I ordered it from here.
I have been having some fun this year making gift wrap! A few hand made rubber stamps, some Wholefoods bags and a roll of ikea paper and tada…Christmas gift wrap! There is really not much to explain to the process. I carved stamps using the Speedball Carve block, and stamped using these stamp pads. An easy creative project, that anyone can do! I stamped away, heart content, and the children enjoy it too. Very much looking forward to wrapping gifts and putting them under the Christmas tree.
As is our annual tradition, we make Christmas cards over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. It seems to be the perfect time to make Christmas cards as we then have 10 days to write in the cards and get them to Australia before the Christmas postal cut off date.
Last year I did not have a chance to make cards because we were actually visiting Australia right up until Christmas, but you might remember the Christmas tree print cards from the year before. Both the cards from 2010 and this year were made with hand carved rubber stamps, using this type of carving block. This year I printed the cards using pigment ink stamp pads, instead of the printing ink and brayer I used previously. They certainly give a different finish – I prefer the depth gained by using the ink and brayer, however I do like the ease of the stamp ink pads, they are much less of a process…you know, dare I say it…it is easier!
I played around with a few designs and then had my family choose which one to make an edition of. The large ornaments pattern was the favorite. I then made another ornament so that there was three ornaments in the design. I decided on the layout I wanted on scrap paper, and then removed the ornament prints with an exacto blade so that I had a templet. I was then able to make an edition of cards very easily by stamping into the template. This was a great guide so that I did not make an absentminded mistake and waste a card. It also protected the card in case I dropped the stamp.
I intended to sew string from the ornaments with the sewing machine, but Cam preferred the ornaments on their own and talked me out of adding the machine stitches. Cam is a great designer, and so I listen to him (sometimes!)…this is what happens more and more frequently now he is at home being the art directer of our family.
It is starting to feel a lot like Christmas, glad to have this checked off my list. Feeling very satisfied to have a stack of handmade Christmas cards in envelops and ready to be addressed to Australia…off to the post I go!