Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mod Podge the Christmas Elf

So now the cat's out of the bag.  I've admitted to the world wide web that I do not like to decorate Christmas trees. In the interest of equal time, and to keep myself from being dubbed Ebenezer McElf,  I think it's only fair to yak about the one kind of tree that I do like to decorate.

That would be The Dollar Tree.

I love that place. Truly, it's the Deco-Addict's paradise. You can drop by The Dollar Tree any hour of any day, and on every occasion, you can find some new piece of schlock upon which to glue leftover pieces of  paper.

Here's my latest. 
It's a recipe holder for me, 
but I guess you could just use it for decoration.

I started with one of these little things.
I think it's a cutting board, although I don't know who would want Betty's
 name all over her cutting board. 

Fortunately, I could just paint over it with Fusion pant. I would have painted it anyway. As I've said before, I think plastic stuff just looks less plasticky when covered with a coat of paint. I painted mine bright red to cover the bright red.

I gave the part I was going to decoupage a quick coat of white to keep the red from showing through, too.

Since I'm working on a candy cane theme for my kitchen this year, I used some striped tissue paper for the background. I was planning to use actual candy canes on here, but when I saw these little ornaments at a dollar a pair, I decided to use them instead.

Now, I don't know whether this part is necessary, but I really did want to be able to prop recipe cards on there so I gave the ornaments a little depth.  I just glued them to these little knobby things that I had in the craft closet. I think they are about a dollar a bag.

And there you have it. 
My Dollar Tree Christmas recipe holder. 

Total cost to me?

Admit it. It's kind of cute in a Mod Podgey sort of way.
 I think I'll celebrate with a cup of peppermint cocoa

Sharing this with the other Cheapskate Crafters
at the Dollar Tree Christmas Party

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Christmas Confession

So today officially begins the Christmas season around the home place. Both pilgrims are safely back to school and work, and Super Dad headed out this morning for a busy week of money making.

That leaves Herself the Elf to begin preparations for the most festive time of the year.
 Ho. Ho. Ho.

I thought I'd start this holiday season with a little yuletide confession for you. 
I hate to decorate the Christmas tree. 

It's true. Not only do I hate it; I've generally flunked it for the past 28 years. I'm not exactly sure how that happened, either. By rights, I should have inherited a Christmas tree gene.  The Duchess puts up fifteen full sized designer trees. The Farm Sister is working on her own slippery slope with six of them.

Me? I struggle to put up one.  

Part of the blame for that lies with the man of the house, who insists on buying a live tree. 

Everyone knows that elves with Decorating Deficiency Disorder ought to stick to artificial Christmas trees. They're just plain easier to work with. With a faux tree, you can bend those boughs any way you have a mind to. They never sag when you stick a heavy ornament on them and create a gaping hole where a branch is supposed to be, either.

For years, I tried to convince him to go with a nice, artificial one, pre-lit if possible.  It would be so much easier, I said.  Just whip out  the box from the attic and set her up.  No trips to the tree lot. No cuttings all over the back deck. No lights to stretch out all over the floor. No belly crawls every few days to check the water level.

But he said...

No evergreen aroma to waft through the home place. 

OK... technically, he said, "They don't smell good", but since I was tossing him under the bus, I thought I ought to at least make him sound a little more eloquent. The man just has a thing for tradition, and in his mind Christmas isn't Christmas unless it smells like Pine Sol.

So every year on the day after Thanksgiving, we head to the tree lot and buy our annual forty dollar Pine Sol. I used to try to make a family outing out of it, but as the years passed, dad and daughters were more than happy to leave Ebenezer Scrooge behind.

This year, dad went all by himself.  

I shall never allow him to do that again.  

I took one walk around that beast and decided that Christie Kringle was way above my pay grade. Not only is she built like the governor of New Jersey, but she appears to be sprouting whiskers. I honestly didn't know where to begin.

But fortunately...

Although I didn't inherit the Christmas tree gene, I am a carrier.  One of the two daughters has been putting up Duchess trees for years and was glad to dig through my meager supply of tree ornaments to give me this:

.I like it. 

I still need to trim some whiskers and fill in some gaps, but she left me with a great start and good suggestions before flying back to Capitol Hill.

I'm off now to by some gap stuffing. I might just update this if I'm pleased with my additions.

So far, that's the only decorating I've done around here. As you can see, Christie Kringle is sitting next to a fall mantel. Such is life on Debbie Drive.

So what about you?
 Do you like to decorate the Christmas tree? 
Do you use a real one or a faux one? 
Inquiring minds want to know...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving week, folks, and like the rest of the mothers in America, 
I'm as busy as Priscilla Alden getting ready for a three day feast. 

OK, maybe not quite that busy. I don't have to chop the wood and stoke the fires or anything, but I'm still busy getting ready for the days ahead. That's because in the  next day and a half, my two favorite pilgrims will be arriving home for the holiday. 

One on wheels...
One on wings. 

That's why, in the middle of this busy day, I want to stop and thank God for some important people who have gone before me, people without whom this celebration would be impossible. 

Orville and Wilbur Wright
and Henry Ford. 

Yes, I know that Henry didn't invent the automobile. I thank God for that man too, whoever he is. Henry did, however, dream up a way for middle class folks like us to be able to afford one of those wonderful contraptions. Somehow, I can't picture Miss Whimsy riding a mule all the way home from Mercer University.

And I definitely can't picture The Practical One on a racing steed 
all the way from Washington DC.

A stagecoach, maybe...
wearing a jaunty little hat. 

In truth, without the gifts of imagination, intellect, and courage that God gave those two brothers,  I might not be spending Thanksgiving with my DC daughter.

That's why I'm pausing today to thank God for the gifts that He has given to others. You see, it seems to me that we're cultivating a spirit of ingratitude in our world today, a spirit that doesn't appreciate the talents of others, a spirit of gift envy that shows contempt for the Giver.

So today I strike a blow against that spirit, and I thank Him for the gifts He showers on others, the kind of gifts that gave us the airplane and the automobile...

The vacuum cleaner and the washing machine...
the blow dryer and the curling iron...
radiation and chemotherapy...
 the computer... 

Hoping to have one more post before the big day arrives, but in case I don't, I want you to know how thankful I am for the folks who live inside my computer as well. You inspire, encourage, convict, and entertain me more than you know. I thank God for the gifts He has given to all of you.

A special shout out to Mary at Home Is Where The Boat Is, one of the most gifted tablescapers in Blog Land. She inspired me to drag out some metallic craft paint and gild those apples on my table. I love the effect. (Better remember to warn the family, or I'll be thanking God for dentists next...)

Happy Thanksgiving! 

What gifts of others are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Crafting in the Shadow

I got a little treat a few weeks ago. 
I got the chance to be a student in my own Sunday School class.  

I rarely get that chance. I generally teach the class unless I'm going out of town. This time, I had asked for a little break.

The lesson was about using our gifts and talents for the Kingdom of God. At the end of the lesson, the teacher asked the class  to share what they believed to be their own talents.

From my quiet chair in the corner, I studied the women in that room. What I saw made me sad. They shifted in their seats. They rearranged their Bibles. They shrugged and sighed and chewed on their lips. In the entire class, only two women actually shared something that they thought they could bring to God's party.

There's no good reason for that, either. Sitting around that room was a group of gifted women. They can bake and sew and decorate. They can sing and craft and organize. They have many talents. They just have one little problem. None of these women sees herself as one who shines. 

You see, they sing in the choir, but never sing the solo. They serve on committees but never serve as the chair. When a job needs to be done, they're the hands and feet behind the scenes. You rarely if ever see their face out in front or their name in the bulletin. They are the shadow people.

Can anyone relate?

I chewed on that scene all week long. I even considered doing a lesson to address it but went ahead with plans to begin a study on the Ark of the Covenant. We began with the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus.  It wasn't long before I stumbled on this:

 Then Moses said to the Israelites, 
"See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-- 
~ Exodus 35:30

OK...Am I the only one out there who has never noticed the name Bezalel before? 

If you've read the Book at all, you know that it took an entire nation to build and furnish that Tabernacle. What you might not realize (because I didn't) is that God only names two of them. One was Bezalel,  

And name him, he did. The actual rendering of that verse doesn't say that God chose Bezalel. It says that God called him by name.  

Now, I don't know about you, but whenever I read that God calls someone by name, I'm always curious to know exactly what that name means. I looked it up, and do you know what it means? 

In the shadow of God.  

Bezalel wasn't a spotlight kind of guy. He wasn't a speaker or a warrior. He wasn't a prophet or a judge. He was never going to wear the priestly garments and be covered in gold and precious stones. He wasn't going to blow the trumpet or carry the Ark of the Covenant. 

No, Bezalel wasn't a spotlight kind of guy. He was just a man with a craft and a heart for his God.   A few verses later we find out he had a heart to teach others the craft as well.  If he were alive today, I bet he'd be a blogger. 

But then again, maybe he wouldn't. Maybe he would be perfectly content to do the job that God had gifted him to do, knowing that if God had called him to do it and equipped him to do it, it must be an important job to God.

By the way, it was. 

You just don't find out which job had Bezalel written on it unless you keep reading that wonderful Book. A few chapters later, Exodus 37 begins with these words:

So Bezalel made the ark...

That's right folks. Bezalel made the Ark of the Covenant, the treasure of Israel.  
Just think about it...
In the entire history of God's people, only two hands ever touched the Ark of the Covenant and lived to tell the tale. Both of those hands belonged to an obscure crafter named Bezalel, a man in a shadow of God.

So here's to you, shadow people.
 If you only hear one thing this morning, hear this:

The God who created you has gifted you with specific skills for a specific purpose, and that specific purpose has your name written all over it.  You may be crafting in the shadows, but from where God sits, you shine.

Comments off for Sunday

Monday, November 12, 2012

When God Says Retreat...

You retreat. 

That's exactly where I've been for the past several days. 

It couldn't have come at a better time, too.  As the rest of the country was focused on current events, was focused on the Word of God, preparing for a ladies' retreat in a remote camp about 3 1/2 hours away.

 A Season ~ A Purpose

I've taught this topic before, but I have to say that I have never seen a group of woman put together a better weekend. Really, every detail was just amazing! I only wish the shiny red Kodak had been more cooperative.

Apparently, it was her foggy season. My shots kept turning out so blurry that I finally gave up. I'm hoping that someone will email some photos to me. Wish mine did it justice.

It was far more than just a time for me to speak

It was a time for me to laugh.   

The activity leader was a creative hoot.
She planned something different for each season. 

 Here's Farmer Pat during candy corn harvest.

And here she is again for some spring cleaning. 


Maybe it's because of my years in the classroom,
but I just love it when a theme is carried out well. 

Folks, these ladies did it up right.

Season themed goody bags

And  season themed door prizes.

The praise and worship was led 
  by an amazing singer named Cheri

I'd share her photo, but she got lost in the Kodak fog 
along with Pat the Christmas elf and Pat the beach babe. 


All in all, it was a wonderful weekend,
and I truly appreciate the planning that went into it.

Mostly, though, I stand amazed at the work of  the
Master Planner.
The One whose timing is always perfect.
The One who knows that to everything there is a season...

And a time for every purpose under Heaven.
A time to speak...
And a time to laugh...
And a time to weep...
And a time to dance...
A time to embrace...

A time to retreat. 

How about you?
Do you enjoy retreats?
When was the last time you went on one?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Remember Your First Election?

OK now, admit it. 
Isn't that the cutest little poll watcher ever? 

It's The Practical One, from a twenty year old newspaper photo.
It graced the front page of the local paper. 

Do you see the line running across the middle?
That's the crease from the fold. 

And do you see the wide load hanging over said fold?

Yeah, well, that' the reason I'm filing this under stuff I should be ashamed to yak about. That's my wide load, of course, and just in case you haven't figured it out, that's Sir Boney Butt on the other side.  

My fifteen minutes of shame. 

Just thought I would share it on this election day. Aftet all, once your patriotic patootie has graced the front page of the local newspaper, you might as well put it on the world wide web.

(Old pictures from a 2010 post) 

Have I mentioned how much I love election day? Well, I do. I've loved it ever since I was a little girl. I honestly can't remember a time when my family didn't make a big old deal about it. Dad and the Duchess always had a horse in the race. They had their yard signs and bumper stickers, and the Duchess would volunteer in the local campaign headquarters.

On election night, we had a family party. They would let us stay up later than usual to watch the results, even though back then you usually didn't know a thing until morning.

Once the results were in, they taught us how to be
 humble winners or gracious losers. 

My first presidential election was in 1980. Since I was away at school, I had to vote by absentee ballot.  I was a little bummed about that, but back then it was absentee or nothing.

My how times have changed.

Now, most states have election month instead of election day. I'm still not sure how I feel about that, but I go with the flow.

As for us? We still wait to vote until that magic Tuesday in November. Tonight, we'll stay up late and watch the results in our pajamas, just like we did as kids.  

And just like then, we probably won't know a thing until morning anyway, probably longer. All signs point to this being a close one, after all. Those race horses are neck and neck. Someone is going to win by a nose.

That being the case, I hope you all get your own patriotic patooties down to the polls and cast your vote.

 Just one word of caution, though...

Beware of hidden cameras.  

So what about you?  
What do you remember about election day growing up?
Do you remember your first Presidential election?

Inquiring minds want to know. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Keeping Peace

It's rough out there. 
Has anyone else noticed? 

There's violence in the Middle East, murder in Benghazi. crippling gas prices, and an economy that would rather mark time than march forward.  Just when you think things can't get worse, some Frankenstorm comes out of the sea, destroying homes and  ripping little children out of the arms of their mother.

I can hardly stand it.

I would turn off the TV and pretend it didn't exist if I were the kind of person who could do that, but I'm not.  Pretending never has worked for me.  I don't need pretense; I need peace. 

I don't need a regular portion of peace, either. I need a double portion. I need the kind promised in Isaiah 26:3.

You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is fixed on You
 because he trusts in You.

  Perfect peace.

In the Hebrew, that's Shalom, Shalom. 

If I'm going to have any kind of peace at all, I'd like the perfect kind, thank you very much.  I've tried the imperfect kind, and it just doesn't have any stay power. It's hard enough to keep that kind of peace in the easy times. I certainly can't keep it in the hard ones.

That's why God doesn't tell us to try to keep it. Read the promise again.  Perfect peace isn't the kind of peace you keep. It's the kind of peace that keeps you. 

It's a keeping peace.   

Lest you think this is some sort of warm and fuzzy verse that pious Christians toss your way when they really  just don't want to hear to your problems, it isn't.  Oh, it's warm and fuzzy, but it's actually a very practical verse as well.  Isaiah not only tells us that there is such thing as a keeping peace, he tells us exactly how to get it.  According to Isaiah, it's a matter of fixing the mind. 

I know it seems trite, but stick with me here.

The front line in the battle for peace isn't the heart. It's the head. Fix the mind, he says.   The Hebrew word covers the entire intellectual framework. It includes by definition, our thoughts, our meditations, and our imaginations.

Now maybe I'm alone, but around here it's that third one that generally disturbs the peace.

Let's face it. As wonderful as an imagination can be, it can also be the worst enemy of the chronically creative. Oh, the thinks I can think... I can imagine up just about anything if I have a mind to, and I definitely have a mind to.

Folks, if it's peace we seek, we're going to have to learn to rein in our imaginations.

That may be easy for some, but for those of us with imaginations set on autopilot, it takes self-control. It does absolutely no good to tell us to put something out of our minds.  It takes a decisive plan to fix our minds on something else.

Someone else.

Fix our thoughts on Him, he says. Think about Him. Read about Him. Talk about Him. Meditate on Him. Pray, not just to Him but about Him. 

That's probably the most important one of all.

Have you ever listened to yourself pray during those peace-stealing seasons? Have you ever noticed, as I have, that you are praying as if God needs a constant reminder of the situation?

Here's a newsflash: He doesn't.

No, really. He knows. Sometimes I think we forget that. Sometimes, our minds are so consumed with "it" that "it" even consumes our prayer life.  We think the call to pray without ceasing means to pray about it without ceasing.

And we wonder why we have no peace.

Wouldn't it be infinitely more productive (and certainly more peaceful) to make an all- powerful God the focus of our prayers instead?

Yeah, I think so too.

That's because something supernatural happens when God is the focus of our prayers: He becomes the the main character in our imaginations.

And do you know what happens when God becomes the main character in our imaginations?

He changes the story.

... and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  

Comments off for Sunday


Related Posts with Thumbnails