Snow…The Drums…& RTS! Happy December 16, 2010 RTS

When the weatherman calls for snow, every child gets excited, while most adults sigh and think, shoveling snow, Ughhh.

Sometimes I wonder what happens to us as we “grow up” that changes our way of thinking and acting. For example, I had the honor of attending a Christmas Musical where two of our precious neighbors were singing. During one song the choir leader asked the school band drummers to the front. As soon as the children in the audience heard the drum beat they began wiggling and be-bopping, clapping their hands, and nodding their heads to the beat. All of the adults laughed and enjoyed the enthusiasm of the children. I smiled too, then wondered why aren’t we all enjoying this just like the kids are?

It’s the same thing when it we talk about snow, for some reason many of us do not see the snow as play time anymore. Instead we think about rock salt, shovels, and the commute to and from work. I doubt many grown ups wake up on a snowy morning and cheer to the top of their lungs, “YAY SNOW!”

Today as we RTS I say lets turn back the clock a little and take a minute to play in the snow. Make a snowman, while you’re shoveling the sidewalk. And then when your sidewalk is finished look around and see if you can help out a neighbor. How nice it would be if they came home to a shoveled sidewalk? Just an idea.

I hope we never forget the simple pleasures in life. I hope we can all laugh and enjoy every minute God has blessed us with, and I hope that while we are finding the beauty in each moment, even the beauty of snow, we never forget the beauty of life itself! RTS!!!

Love, S

DIY – Graham Cracker Houses

This year we made Graham Cracker Houses instead of Ginger Bread Houses. If you frequent Target you can also choose Ginger Crackers, they are in the Christmas Baking Section, next to the traditional Graham Crackers.

I was very impressed with the candy selection at Walmart this year. Many companies made their candy with the Holiday in mind. We found Whoppers that are made of white chocolate then decorated with green and red flecks of sugar. And Eclipse gum printed adorable candy canes on their traditional white rectangle shaped gum. This made the perfect little fence for our Graham Cracker House. Enjoy the photos!

We used regular white icing on the graham crackers, one graham cracker was kept whole for the base, then we broke the other graham crackers to create the walls.

These are the graham cracker walls.

This is the graham cracker roof, entirely edible.

Patience and gentleness was needed while spreading the icing, Seth did so well.

Adding the candy was fun! See the little Santa waiting by the candy cane fence?

Great Job Seth!

I hope you all will love creating these cool Graham Cracker Houses as much as we did, enjoy every minute of the season! RTS!!!

Love, S

DIY – Wrapping Paper Bows

My cousin Jeanne has always been very artistic, in fact I don’t think there is any project be it a craft, or a beautiful painting that she can’t skillfully do. So when she offers to teach me how she has done something I pay attention, because I know what I am about to learn is going to be good.

One year at Christmas time I complemented the bows on the presents she had wrapped. She smiled then shared with me that she had made them herself. Then before I knew it we were in her living room and she was sharing with me step by step how to create these cool wrapping paper bows. I do not know where she learned this technique, and I would like to share this with you.

How many times do you finish wrapping a present only to find you have left over wrapping paper that will not be used? Like this:

What do you do with left over wrapping paper? A: Make a Wrapping Paper Bow!

First, make sure that all the edges of the left over wrapping paper are smooth. You can create a rectangle or a square shape.

Next, fold the wrapping paper in half.

Then, using scissors, begin to cut the wrapping paper into strips, stopping about an inch away from the crease.

After cutting the strips into the wrapping paper, open the wrapping paper and place with the printed side facing you.

Place a strip of wrapping paper in between your thumb and the closed blade of your scissors to begin curling the paper. Starting at the crease apply light pressure as you slide the scissors under the strips. This will make the wrapping paper curl just like curling ribbon.

This is what the wrapping paper will look like after you curl both sides of the paper.

Flip the paper over so that the printed side faces down.

Starting at the end that is closest to you, begin folding the wrapping paper in an accordion type style.

When you finish folding your wrapping paper will look like this.

Gather the wrapping paper in the center, then pinch and twist.

Continue to pinch and twist, about three times, to create a skinny middle. This is where you will affix sticky tape and secure to the present.

Secure wrapping paper bow to the present using clear sticky tape. You can continue to add more wrapping paper bows for a fuller look, or place an ornament in the middle, or other embellishment.

This is the finished wrapping paper bow using (3) bows total. So cute! So pretty!

You can get as creative as you like, such as using decorative blade scissors instead of straight edge, just be careful when curling the paper because it rips more easily. You can also take a curling ribbon shredder and shred the strips into fine strips then curl the fine strips in groups of 4 or more. And you can add curling ribbon to the center of the wrapping paper bow, or another festive item that will enhance your crafty wrapping paper bow. Happy wrapping everyone!

Love, S

Happy December 14, 2010 Give the Change! RTS!

Dear Readers,

Have you ever been in your car waiting at a traffic light, and glance over to find a smiling fireman carrying a boot towards your vehicle for their “Fill the Boot” campaign? You look into your purse or pockets to find – no change, then your eyes move down to the car change holder or cup holder, only to find – no change, next you start that all too familiar search for change on the floor of the car and in between the seats. By the time your search ends, there he is, smiling wide holding the boot, and we have to look him in the eye, hold up our hands, and mouth, “I’m sorry.”

Or perhaps you are walking into a store and you hear the bells ringing, and see the bright red kettle swinging from the holder with the faithful, and freezing bell ringer saying, “Merry Christmas and God Bless You.” You realize you have no change, and walk a little faster, and you don’t even think about making eye contact.

Well, like you I have been there, and let me share with you I feel like a total jerk when I can’t give a little something, especially when I know it for a good cause. So this year to RTS (Redeem the Season) I have a special “Give the Change” envelope. It stays close to me and when we go out, and I see an opportunity to give I am not searching around looking for quarters, or dimes, I am prepared and feel like the donation super hero of the day! Well, maybe not a super hero, but it does feel great to give.

Here are a few ways to collect change without really missing the change. First, decide how much you would like to give total, it may be five bucks it may be twenty-five bucks what ever the amount you decide is between you, God, and your family. Share with your family that we have a Give the Change envelope, or you may want to use a clear ziploc baggy so that you can keep track of your giving easier. Next you will want to go around the house looking for loose change, if you are super organized and have a change jar, you can get some change from there. Or, if you are a great financial guru and account for every single penny then you may need to visit your bank. An easy way to gather change is to just place the return change into the ziploc baggy after each transaction. This way you are not missing it, and your baggy gets filled fast. So the next time you are stopped at a traffic light and there is a group collecting for a cause you believe in, get out your ziploc baggy and “Give the Change”. If you are headed into the store and notice the famous bell ringers and red kettles, give each one in your family a coin or two and tell them we are going to “Give the Change” this is a great way to encourage your family to be givers, and you will never be caught empty handed again. RTS!!!

Love, S

CONTEST EXTENDED Happy December 13, 2010 RTS!

Dear Readers,

Over the weekend I posted a contest. The contest was supposed to end today, however because I started this on the weekend I am thinking that many of you were just too busy to comment. So, in the spirit of giving I am EXTENDING the contest until this FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010 at midnight. The winner will be determined and posted by Sunday, December 19th, 2010. Please read the Blog dated for December 11, 2010 for contest details. Please comment and refer this contest to your friends. Thank you everyone! RTS!

Happy December 11, 2010 RTS CONTEST

Today I thought I would Redeem the Season by doing something special for all of you. I want you to know that I really appreciate you reading this blog, and subscribing. I wanted to do something to show my appreciation so I have decided to hold a little contest.

RTS CONTEST 2010

All you have to do is share with me by commenting on this Blog what you will do, or have done to Redeem the Season (RTS) this year (For RTS ideas please read my previous Blog posts), and please subscribe to this Blog and forward to a friend so they can enter the contest too. The more entries the Merrier.

The 1st place winner will receive a $25.00 Gift Card from Target and The Redeeming the Season Book. The 2nd place winner will receive a $15.00 Gift Card from Chick-Fil-A, and the 3d place winner will receive a $10.00 Gift Card from Chick-Fil-A. It’s a sweet deal.

The contest starts right now, and will end first thing Monday morning on December 13, 2010 at 9AM EST. All of the comments will be printed out from this blog, so you will need to comment on this Blog not on Facebook or Twitter, please include your first and last name with your comment. Once the comments are printed, they will be separated one comment at a time, then placed into a hat. Monday morning on December 13, 2010 at 9AM EST my son Seth will draw out a winners from the hat,  3d place winner will be drawn first, 2nd place winner will be drawn 2nd, and 3d place winner will be drawn 3d. We will video the drawing so that you know it was fair. The video will be posted on this Blog. Every person gets a fair shot at the winnings. The more ideas and comments you make the higher your chances for winning, so please be creative, and please subscribe to this Blog. The winners will be announced Monday morning on December 13, 2010 via this Blog, and their creative idea will be posted on this Blog. I will provide a contact email for the winners to reach me, so that I can mail out the prizes. Best wishes to you all! RTS!!!

Love, S

The Gift That Gives for 10 Years! December 10, 2010 RTS

Gift giving is a great part of this wonderful time of the year. Many of us spend much time and energy searching for the “perfect” gift for our loved ones, so when I read about this idea I thought what a great way to Redeem the Season!

The idea is a perpetual (10 year) calendar, it is a little work on the gift giver’s part, however it is a gift that will make your loved one smile year after year.

The calendar is made by cutting index cards to fit a nice small box, then you would use a date stamp to identify each index card by date, leaving off the year. Next, you arrange the cards in the box by month separating the months by vintage postcards, or colorful card stock, or perhaps fun photos of you and the gift recipient. You can take it a step further by writing a short poem, phrase, or encouraging scripture on all cards or a chosen few.

When you give the calendar to your loved one, explain that this is a special calendar that is meant to record their special memories. The owner of the calendar takes a minute each day to first write down the year on the first line, then they write a thought, special event, or moment that happened that particular day of that year. The date card is then moved to the back of the box. As the years pass it will be fun to look back and reflect on what happened on that day of the following year. Since we are approaching 2011, this makes a great gift to record the next decade of events, and special thoughts.

The link with photos of the calendar with all the how to information is below. Out of respect for the owner of this idea I am referring you to their Blog. I really hope you like this idea as much as I did, and remember you can create this however you like, vintage, modern, traditional, you are the artist, get creative and have fun! RTS!!! Love, S   Here is the link:

http://www.designspongeonline.com/2010/12/diy-project-vintage-postcard-calendar-journal.html