Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays

We have been busy around here finishing some final Christmas projects, baking cookies, reading stories, visiting with friends and enjoying all the season brings. It's been a little chaotic but still magical.
Tonight we are bundling up to walk around our neighbourhood, as we have most nights, to see all the lights. Tomorrow we will be wrapping those last few gifts, planning for our Christmas feast and enjoying the company of family. I will be taking a break from this space for the next few days. I wish you all a very happy holiday and I will see you here again before the new year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

For the Tree

Not that our tree is lacking in ornaments in any way, but somehow it's just doesn't feel quite like Christmas unless we have hung a few newly made ornaments. This year I ended up making a whole basket full of wrap scrap ornaments. My favorite is the star made from Girasol Rainforest scraps with a mother of pearl button. With a toddler in the house, softie ornaments are a big hit with mom and dad as well as our little one.
I've also tried to get April involved in making some ornaments this year. We made a few popsicle stick snowmen and clothespin penguins with a friend. Just today though we made these salt-dough Santas. One for our tree and one for a gift. I think these will be treasured in our family for years to come.
Here are the instructions if you'd like to make some for your tree:
Make a dough from 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Roll out to about 3/4 inch thickness. Have your child press his/her hand into the dough. Cut out the hand print then transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Use a straw to make a hole for the string. Bake for at least 2 hours at 250 degrees (this time will vary based on the thickness of your hand prints). Decorate as desired once cooled.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Festival of Trees

Every year the Fairmont Empress hosts the Festival of Trees. Local businesses can sponsor and decorate a tree then for a donation visitors can vote for their favorite tree. It's been many years since I stopped by the Festival of Trees but as April is starting to really enjoy all the lights and decorations that make an appearance this time of year we decide to pay a visit.
The trees were all so unique and beautifully decorated. Though I do think it is a bit too tempting for a toddler to simply pick things off the tree when stuffed animals are used as decoration. Nonetheless we had a great time, it really put us in the holiday mood.
The display continues into the new year so if you are in the area, stop by, it's a fun and quick walk.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Boughs and Berries

Last week went went on our annual hunt for foliage to dress our home with for the holidays. I always like to go on a day after a very windy night, so as not to cut much from the plant but rather to collect wind-fall. This year April really enjoyed taking part in the hunt for the perfect bough. Things got a little messy but we came home with a big basket full of greenery.
Beyond the aesthetic of these arrangements, I love the smell. It so vividly reminds me of holidays past. I also appreciate the living arrangements. They eventually dry up and remind us that another season, more floral, will soon be upon us.
Do you bring things from nature into your home this time of year?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tree Day

As April grows I think tree day is getting better and better. I loved sharing the experience of choosing and decorating a tree with my little girl. We went to our favorite tree lot and took our time choosing the perfect tree. Of course it's more than just the shape, it's the smell, the feel, everything. The perfect tree must be the complete package. Together we found our tree and with pure delight brought it into our home.
We were lucky, April napped while Daddy and I got the tree just right and hung the lights. April as so delighted to wake up to a brightly lit tree. It warmed my heart to unwrap those ornaments that are just saturated with memories and to hang them with my child. Of course it was equally special to hang ornaments that were made especially for her. We took our time, put each ornament in just the right place, we sang and danced to Christmas carols then turned down the lights and sat by the fire while we enjoyed our masterpiece.
It smells wonderful, it look wonderful and it makes our home feel wonderful. This beautiful symbol of nature has made the perfect canvas for displaying our memories and handcrafted pieces of art. It feel like Christmas has truly begun now that we have had our tree day!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Art Kit

I really enjoy giving gifts that are activity based. Whether tickets to a show, passes to a museum or a kit such as this one I feel the recipient gets more than just something to store in their home. This art kit was some what inspired by the book First Art. I used some Heather Ross canvas to make a drawstring backpack so April can take her art supplies wherever she wishes. I covered a good quality sketching pad with a piece of fabric, sewed a small drawstring bag (made from more Heather Ross fabric) to hold her beeswax crayons and a small case of watercolor paints with a little brush.
April already enjoys the art projects we do at home. I'm excited about these new materials. So far we have just been using soy crayons and printing paper. April loves tracing things like her hand or magnets and we are learning about the colors. I've read that the beeswax crayons produce beautiful colors and I'm hoping they are more sturdy that the soy ones (that seem to crumble if used too furiously). I also decided to invest in a good sketch book. I would like her art to hold up and good quality paper helps.
I really love this project, I felt good making it and I know it is sure to bring my daughter hours of fun and creativity. What sorts of kits do your children enjoy? Are they homemade?

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Wreath, this year

On Saturday I did my annual wreath making class. I look forward to it every year. It's a break from the housework, the kiddo, all the rushing that seems to come with this season. I love the way the greenhouse smells. All the pine and cedar and the smell of the ginger snaps and hot cider they always have for us.
I decided to take a break from the usual red and green I do for our wreath. I still did the green (of course) but added brown, pink and gold this year. I love it! It makes me smile whenever I walk up to our door.
Now that the wreath is up, I'm reminded that I have yet to bring in the winter berries and greens. I'm planning a walk this week to collect our usual materials. I'm looking forward to makings swags, centerpieces, and filling the vases and jars around my house with all the beautiful boughs and berries.
How are you welcoming this holiday season?