handmade for the holidays

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Over the years, I’ve been fascinated with handcrafting for and with kids.  I’ve poured over some beautiful blogs and books by many a crafty mama.  Amanda Soule from soulemama has been one of my all time favorites.  So has Ginny from smallthings.  I’ve stood in awe over how these very busy women juggle so many creative projects all while beautifully mothering their large broods of adorable kiddos.  And I love the idea of giving of yourself (taking the time to utilize whatever amount of creative ability you do or don’t have) to create a gift for a loved one.  Especially when that loved one happens to be your child.  Natural toys are quite the rage now, but I think something is still missing when we buy that organic toy off the shelf or online.  And I’ve bought many!  Developmentally, kids certainly benefit more from a toy made with natural textures rather than plastic.  But there is also something very soulful about a toy that you the parent has made for them, despite every imperfection the toy may exhibit.

After holding onto Growing Up Sew Liberated by Meg McElwee for almost three years (yikes! how did that happen???), I finally took the plunge to sew a doll for our youngest Sprout last Christmas.  What held me back? I think it was a combination of not thinking I had enough time and also a bit of fear.  Fear that I couldn’t do it.  Fear that it wouldn’t look as beautiful as the dolls I see in Nova Natural Toys or Bella Luna Toys.  But, time was of the essence because last year out daughter had just turned seven and I knew she probably wouldn’t be playing with dolls much longer.  Meg’s instructions in this book are great for beginners and so I dove in to create her Mi Amiga doll.  I ordered supplies from A Child’s Dream and bought the yarn from a local yarn shop.  It wasn’t as hard as I’d thought, although I did have to backtrack and repeat a few steps.  Our Sprout had been wanting an Indian doll, so I created the doll with that in mind.  I winged it and made the Indian dress from felt and used some scrap yarn for a headband.   Overall, it turned out well except that Kaya started loosing her hair after a few days of being played with so I had to go back and secure it.  She is one of our daughter’s favs though and I’m glad that I made the effort!  I’d encourage all of you parents of Littles to take the plunge and give handmade holiday toy making a try.   Just knowing that you made something for them will be special to them in itself.

What sources have you enjoyed for a handmade holiday?  Some of my other go-to books have been:

Toymaking With Children by Freya Jaffke

made to play! by Joel Henriques

the creative family by Amanda Blake Soule

I’d love to hear of some other goodies if anyone wants to share!

 

spring fling

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This may or may not be monumental to my Southern California friends, but out here in Colorado spring has sprung!  Yes, really.  Friends from the Midwest and Montana know how riveting this is.   In contrast to our families back East who are braving winter storms, we have had warm days sometimes in the 50s and 60s.  This is the warmest February our family has experienced since leaving SoCal almost a decade ago.  Folks, that’s huge!  Over the years, February has become my least favorite month so I can tell you I’m doing a little happy dance over here in the high desert of Colorado.

The daffodils are blooming and there are green sprouts everywhere.  We even have new baby chicks!  A friend here has connections with a family hatchery in Texas and we got three Rhode Island Reds and three Easter Eggers from her.  Last year, we went with a children’s literature theme for both the chicks and ducklings.  This time we went for a floral theme (well, with the exception of Miss Cluck Cluck due to my eldest child’s insistence!).  So, we are thrilled to welcome Violet, Chrysanthemum, Daisy Mae, Miss Rosa (named after the flower and Rosa Parks), Miss Cluck Cluck, and Daffy (short for Daffodil).  Both breeds are specifically egg layers versus the dual purpose birds we got last year, so our hope is that egg production will increase enough to sustain our own Sprouts as well as to have extras to give away to neighbors and friends.  We are also very curious to see what colors of eggs the Easter Eggers lay: blue, green, light pink, or brown?  Getting chicks early will also make our lives easier since they will obviously be more mature and easier to care for by the time we begin our spring and summer travels.  Now in the meantime, if we can just avoid a late spring snow storm….

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brainstorming for names
brainstorming for names

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one chick's name was inspired from this book
one chick’s name was inspired from this book

black Friday

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Instead of fighting the crowds to frantically purchase more stuff, I’m pleased to say that our family spent Black Friday up on the Grand Mesa hunting for a Christmas Tree.  With a permit costing us less than $10, we trekked through the snow to find a perfectly imperfect Douglass Fir.  We all had a blast and even had a picnic lunch in the snow at a nearby campground (leftover turkey sandwiches, of course!).  This was our second year of hopefully many spending our Black Friday together in a more mindful and peaceful pursuit.  Let the holidays begin!

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recycling our Chistmas tree

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Well, you know what they say.  What comes around “goats” around.  At least, that has been the case with our Christmas tree this year!  It only seemed fitting that the tree which we snagged in nature on Black Friday should be returned, in some fashion, to the great outdoors.  We discovered that goats have a fetish for evergreens once the holidays subsided and a fairly goat local ranch, Top of the Hill, asked our community for discarded Christmas trees. It turns out that the roughage supplied by the evergreen needles is extremely beneficial for the four chambered stomachs of our little goat friends.  The only caveat is that the trees can’t have tinsel (or other ornamentation) on them.  And, trees that have been sprayed with chemicals are detrimental.  However, our little tree from the Grand Mesa was a perfect entree!  Instead of hauling it forty miles away, however, we contacted some local homesteading friends who have several goats of their own.  Recycling at its best, would you agree?

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the trees not only provided a yummy meal, but the goats also loved rubbing their heads against the rough bark
the trees not only provided a yummy meal, but the goats also loved rubbing their heads against the rough bark

 

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{this moment}

I’m  joining Soule Mama in {this moment}.  In Amanda’s own words, {this moment} is “A Friday ritual.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special , extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember.”  Happy Friday, dear friends!

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fabulously five

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Our tiniest Sprout recently turned five!  Five is absolutely fabulous if you ask her.  She swears her feet grew longer during the night before she turned five!  I’m sure she must be right on both accounts.  We had a warm and endearing homespun celebration day for her which included cookie pie, the Waldorf candle circle, her birthday crown (mama-made crowns have become the tradition around here), thoughtful presents from friends and family, and of course, hotdogs!  They are the best food in the world according to this spunky Sprout.  All in all, surrounded by those who love and adore her, I think she had a wonderful day.   We love you, Love Bug!

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black Friday: our new family tradition

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We have never been ones to participate in the Black Friday mayhem.  Honestly, it hurts my head just to think of it!  And, like so many others, we are finding the crass commercialism of the holidays to be the polar opposite of the soulfulness that really should characterize the season.  So, instead of just staying home this year on Black Friday we decided to be more proactive and started a new family tradition: Christmas tree hunting!  For almost the same price we would have paid at a tree lot, we rented snow shoes, obtained a $8 tree cutting permit from the National Forest Service, and had lunch at a cute lodge on top of the Grand Mesa.  While all of the Grand valley was stuck in a cloudy inversion, we ventured on top of the largest mesa in the US and into a sunny and pristine Winter wonderland!  Granted,  our tree is a bit on the wonky side.  But we had a magnificent time and will be doing this for years to come.  I think I’m beginning to adore Black Friday (grin).  Let the holiday festivities begin!

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ready for the hunt
ready for the hunt

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timberrr!
timberrr!
success
success

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homeward bound
homeward bound