Monday, December 31, 2012

happy new year

This is how it goes down over here... the G-Rated celebration that happens at our house usually ends with us all falling asleep before 10 pm.

May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the
quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.
May the flame of anger free you from falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.
                                                                             -John Donahue

Friday, December 28, 2012

joseph wood hill park at dusk

Another find only 20 minutes from our house, Joseph Wood Hill Park is at the top of Rocky Butte in NE Portland.  Ryan and I found this one while looking for a letterbox about a month ago but wanted to take Naiya for a visit ('cause it looks like a castle!)  The night creeps up on us so quickly now we didn't realize it would be dark by the time we got there.  It was still a magical place and we got to look down at the lights of the city as the fog rolled in.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

a christmas package from the fairie queen

On Christmas morning, the resident queen of the fairies in our garden didn't forget her favorite little girl.   Of course she doesn't have access to wrapping paper, but she still managed to leave a little surprise.

It's hard to see with all the holly in the photo above but the present was wrapped in a big aralia leaf.

Inside was a darling little carved wooden fairy candle for Naiya's nightstand.  I almost loved the packaging more than the gift.  Naiya was just pleased that the fairies remembered this special day so soon after the Solstice had just passed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

merry christmas to all

Why do the bells of Christmas ring?
Why do the little children sing?
Once a lovely shining star
Seen by shepherds from afar
Gently moved until its light
Made a manger's cradle bright.
There a little baby lay
Pillowed soft upon the hay
And its mother sang and smiled
This is Christ, the holy child.
Therefore bells of Christmas ring
Therefore little children sing.

                                                                         -E. Field

Sunday, December 23, 2012

last minute gift that kids can make quick

Naiya got it in her head today (two days before Christmas ?!!) that she wanted to have a little gift for everyone we'd be seeing on Christmas day.  Never fear, mama crafty is here...

In about an hour we made 15 of these pretty little "stained glass" window thingys.  Originally we had talked about giving them to people as bookmarks but seeing them all lined up together in front of the window, we started to think they could just be lovely bits of art.  Maybe even hang a few together as some kind of mobile?  Whatever they end up being used for, I thought they were beautiful last minute creations that kids could put together for any occasion.  They're basically the same as the "stained glass" hearts we made for Valentine's Day a few years ago with a variation in the shape.

We started by shaving some scrappy broken crayons with a cheese grater.

We sprinkled the shavings onto a sheet of wax paper that was sitting atop a towel.

(A few shavings go a long way.  If the distribution is too dense, all the colors just melt together and make a dark glob.)

On top of this we laid another sheet of wax paper and another thin towel.

(From past experience we know it's possible that some of the colored wax will weep through the wax paper onto the towels so we chose towels with this in mind.)

We then melted the crayon bits by pressing a fairly hot iron on top of the top towel (pressing the iron, lifting and pressing again) until the  shavings had melted and the wax paper sheets had stuck together.

Using our handy roller paper cutter, we cut some card stock down to about 2 1/4" x 6". 

Leaving about 1/2" frame around the edge, we cut out the center. 

We used two of these frames for each book mark, one on either side of the wax piece.

We cut our wax stained glass slightly smaller than the frames and then assembled them using glue sticks.

Naiya helped with every step and only needed some guidance with the paper cutter and, of course, the iron.

Kinda pretty, eh?  Who doesn't need a super fancy bookmark?

fanciful gift tags

Inspired by some gift tags I saw online (which I cannot seem to find again), Naiya and I have been making some fanciful labels for our Christmas givings.

The version I saw online started with little fingerprint sized pieces of fabric glued onto card stock. 

I set these in front of us and (much like we have sometimes made critters and people from our own fingerprints) we came up with some interesting and silly little pictures to display on our tags.

My favorite of Naiya's is the one with the mama bird feeding a worm to the baby bird in the nest that sits on the ground.

Not the most winter-y scenes but Naiya fixated on birds and they're super simple for kids to make.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

winter solstice gift from the fairie queen

This morning the Fairie Queen left a little Solstice gift for Naiya on the back step.  The fey are gone in Winter but the Queen visits occasionally on full moons and holidays to leave a little something reminding us she's still around and will return to live in the garden sometime in Spring.

We forgot she was coming so the little box she and Naiya often exchange presents in was sitting on the kitchen counter.  Instead of using the box then, our pixie friend put the little snowman in a woolie bowl that Naiya has decided will be the perfect rabbit hole on our Winter Nature Table.

clothespin snowflakes - another advent craft

Back in Summer we were making suns and stars out of clothespins and all the while I was thinking they'd make much better snowflakes come winter.  So, basically, I'm re-posting those instructions and throwing a little cool colored glitter on in place of the warm tones we used before.

All that's needed are a bunch of clothespins and glue (and some glitter, if you're into that).  I've made them with both quick drying craft glue and a glue gun.  Actually, I'd say the glue gun works better.  Wood glue would probably work better than the craft glue as well.  (A few of our craft-glued creations fell apart a few weeks after making.)

Begin by taking all the clothespins apart.

(Depending on the specific size and shape of the pins used, the number needed for a complete circle will vary from about 22 to 30.)

 Glue the two separated pieces back together back to back.

(I have no idea what to do with the discarded metal springs.  If you think up a good use for them, let me know.)

(Wait! Note added Dec. 2013: I just found a great use for those leftover metal bits!  Check it out here.)


After they had dried, I glued the smaller ends together to form the snowflake shape.

To make an even, smooth inside edge, it helped to use a form to push the pins against.  For this circle, I found the perfect sized lid as a kind of mold.

They can be decorated with paint and/or glitter  or, of course, left in their natural state.

Since the sun is coming back (hurray!), perhaps we'll use one on our Nature Table to celebrate the return of the light as well.

Friday, December 21, 2012

the third week of advent

Advent Advent a candle glows
Advent Advent a candle glows
First one then two then three then four
Then stands the Child of Light at the door
The third week of Advent
Is the light of beasts
Who all await the coming
In the greatest and the least

As I mentioned last week, I was frantically making an animal a night to fill Naiya's Advent treasure bag in the mornings for this, the week of animals. We aren't able to place the animals on our Advent wreath for fear that some actual animal (read crazy savage cats) will rip the critters to shreds.  Instead they make their way to the manger on our mantel and await the arrival of the shepherds, wise men and holy family.

I think I could use some instruction in animal anatomy.  (This is supposed to be a camel.  There were camels right?  "The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum....  The camel hummed a tune, pa rum pum pum pum...")

When I looked up ox on the internet I found a lot of pictures of something that looked a lot more like a buffalo than a cow.  I was going for the draft animals with the yokes.  You know, with the big shoulders and horns?  Hmm...

All these fellows are built with an armature of floral wire wrapped in many layers of wool roving.   They're needle felted into shape and were sculpted while I sat looking at a number of actual photographs of real animals. 

I have a lot of un-carded, un-dyed wool which worked really well to create realistic coloration, especially in the sheep (which are, you know, made from sheep).

Tomorrow the shepherds should arrive to watch over the flock...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

the grotto's 25th annual christmas festival of lights

 Of all the light displays we visit during the holidays, this is my favorite.  This year marks The Grotto's 25th Annual Festival of Lights.

 We have gone to this festival for a number of years and somehow, the only pictures we ever seem to get of our family of three together are those taken on these exceedingly cold nights.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

winter terrarium

One of our simplest Advent crafts this year was a new one we came up with after failed attempts to fill those round glass Christmas bulbs with different varieties of sparkly goodness.  (They just looked trashy and we never put them up.)  Instead, we found this cool hanging glass terrarium (with a much larger opening that small hands can reach into) on sale at our local craft store.  Whereas the bulbs were just filled with texture and color, in the terrarium, we were able to build a small world and Naiya loved it!
We filled the bottom with white sand mixed with a fair amount of glitter (the closest we could get to snow) then our dear daughter found mini ornaments we weren't using and some bits of natural-ness to brighten up the tiny winter world. 
It's hanging in front of a window and Ryan says it's his favorite craft of the season.  Perhaps we'll have to gather more miniature goodies and make a couple more...

(I took about 40 pictures in various kinds of light trying to minimize glare and maintain focus.  This, which doesn't do it justice, is the best pic I could get.  As you can see, I was none too successful. )

Friday, December 14, 2012

the second light of advent

Advent Advent a candle glows
Advent Advent a candle glows
First one then two then three then four
Then stands the Child of Light at my door

The second light of Advent 
Is the light of plants
Plants that reach up to the sun
And in the breezes dance

   We moved the stones to the wreath's perimeter and this week welcomed a eucalyptus branch and pods, star anise, a tillandsia from a local nursery, a sprig of lavender and some aralia from our yard, nutmeg nuts and a felted poinsettia flower...which Naiya wouldn't allow on the wreath because "it wasn't real".  The juniper berries and pine cones are permanently attached.
   I had hoped to felt little animals for next week and add them to last year's Nativity Scene of felted people.  I'm still working on the first sheep.  We shall see...

Monday, December 10, 2012

advent crafts

We're a pretty crafty house and, at this time of year, when the cold, wet weather keeps us from enjoying many of our outdoor activities, our craftiness bumps up a notch.  For this Advent season, we've got a fun list of crafts old and new.  We even made ourselves a handy little calendar.

It isn't actually a schedule.  The crafts have moved dates already at least four times.  We do whatever inspires us each day and then rearrange what's left over for the days still to come.

We rolled these from sheets of beeswax purchased from Ruhl Bee Supply and decorated them with decorating beeswax from Stockmar.  A few months ago we found some great mini cookie cutters that come in themes for each season.

Our gingerbread house was a store bought kit.  (This one came from Trader Joe's.)  One of these years we're going to have a go at making one from scratch.

We've made a few more felted trees since we started and Naiya's had fun changing the decorations as the little people celebrate with festive parties on her Nature Table.

Advent crafts still to come:
felt wreaths

What are your favorite natural winter and holiday crafts?  We'd love to add them to our list!

the christmas tree

Searching for the perfect tree...

Our tree was a little short this year so we'll have to wait until we take it down to cut this year's nubbin.

The Christmas tree, against the night
Beyond the window bars,
Stood bright with flames of candlelight
Before a sky of stars.
I stood and stared, till suddenly
It seemed to me that I
Saw stars alight upon the tree
And candles in the sky!
                          -Isabel Wyatt

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