Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Legend of the Bayberry Candle

"Why can't I find bayberry candles anywhere?" my mom asked me before the holidays.

I asked Mom why that fragrance was so important.

"You know. The legend of the bayberry candle!"

Nope. Completely forgot about that one. But as she spoke of it, it did begin to ring a bell.

In colonial times, the bayberry candle was prized and saved for special occasions. According to the legend, it was to be burned on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. And here's why:

"Legend has it burning a bayberry candle from tip to socket puts luck in the home and gold in the pocket."

I went to the Yankee Candle store before Christmas and purchased these taper candles...a box for Mom's house, and a box for our house as well.

Wishing you all blessings in 2017...because who needs luck when we have the Lord?

Friday, December 30, 2016

Crafty Resolutions

Do you make crafty resolutions?

Sometimes, I like to take a step back and review what I've accomplished in a year, and what I'd like to do in the future.

This year, I picked up my needle again and made seven different projects. And I finally learned to use my Janome Sew Mini with confidence. I have a LOT of projects in the queue just waiting to show you, too!

I've had a goal for some time to make it to a crafting retreat, and I managed to do that this year. I had a great time with my mom and reconnecting with old friends.

I probably got cards in the mail, with stamps!, about half as often as I'd hoped to. I need to improve on that as well.

Here are a dozen crafty goals that I've been mulling over for 2017!

Use what I have and buy less
Get rid of what I don't use
Simplify my crafting
Learn to watercolor, practice more often
Learn print making with lino cuts so that I can design on my own
Make more time for needle art
Move away from relying on die cuts and papers
Hand craft whenever possible
Doodle every day in my planner... More bible journaling
Work on hand lettering 
Start a card ministry at church
Take a few crafty-related classes

A dozen goals. Pretty lofty ambitions! 

I guess the point of resolutions is that I hope to grow a little, creatively and personally, in 2017. And that takes practice, daily. And because I'm a tactical learner, it helps if I write it down.

Do you have any crafty goals for 2017?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Rooted: Where My 2016 Word Took Me

On Christmas morning, I was talking with my son, John. We drank mimosas and spoke of life and faith.

I told him about my frustration this year with various bible studies and popular speakers that preached if you only did A, B, and C, you would be a much better Christian. Empty out your closets, stop eating drive thru, plant an organic pesticide free garden, stop your social media. It seemed like every book you read told you what you should and shouldn't be doing to cure all the social ills that plague us. Do this. Don't do that. You know, all the things Jesus did while he was here on earth. If Jesus had a Facebook account and cluttered closets.

{insert dramatic eye roll here}

John said the most insightful thing, and it's been in my thoughts ever since he said it. He said that's not what our faith is about at all.

"We're not about doing," he said. "We're about done! We're about done-ing!"

I love that so much.

We are about done-ing!

It is not what we "should" or "should not" do. It is about what God did through His Son, born in a stable with just six miles and thirty-odd years separating him from the cradle to the cross.


My word for 2016 was "Rooted". And I really and truly thought that God put this word on my heart because He wanted me to get rooted in my new community. Join this, serve at that, talk with this person, work there.

As the year progressed, I realized that I really never felt one inch closer to being rooted. Not at all.

And then, at the tail end of the year, I re-examined my bible verse from Colossians 2:6-7.

"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving."

Ah, there it was all along.

Not rooted in place. Rooted in him! Rooted in the faith that I was taught, the faith passed down from generations and poured into me as a child.

It was an eye opener.

And I need to be rooted in this faith, so that I can pour it into my own children and preserve it for future generations.

I'm holding on to my faith this coming year. I'm going to continue to read the word and walk with Jesus every day.

Abounding with thanksgiving. Abounding!

It feels good to finally be rooted.

2016. Done!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Variations on a Theme

Merry Christmas, cafe friends! And Happy Boxing Day!

I hope your holidays have been blessed!

We've had a wonderful time with the boys, playing games and eating too much food and watching movies. Jemma had a fun First Christmas with the family. She loved all the excitement of opening presents and checking stockings.

As you know, there are officially twelve days of Christmas, leading up to Epiphany. I plan on using all of those days to finish mailing out some of the last minute Christmas cards! I'm going to tell myself that these greetings are not belated until January.

I couldn't put those stamps from Christmas Faith (PTI) away until I'd given them a try in black ink. And I love it! I knew I would. Simple is always better.

The black and white card really looks like the IKEA napkin that inspired me.

I added some strips of gingham and different colored card bases to change things up a bit with some of the green stamped trees.

You know those cards that you put off mailing until the end because you really should write a note or letter to go with them? That's what I'm going to work on this week.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Birthday, Sweet Jemma!

Jemma celebrated her first birthday yesterday!

Yes, we celebrate dog birthdays in our house. We're those kind of people.

Jemma loved her new toys! A Hive of Bees (big hit), a wobbly rubber ball, and a Chuck It Flying Squirrel! Big fun!

We love our silly girl!

She is in puppy school, part two, and loves to learn. Our new trainer said that she's so sweet, she could even be a therapy dog one day! (Okay, that did make us laugh out loud! Especially because we refer to her in our house as our Discomfort Dog! LOL!)

She's maturing and settling down more every day. Who knows? Maybe one day we can even take the gates down. We plan on puppy proofing the house after Christmas to give it a try.

Psst. Jemma. We have a secret to share with you. Santa's coming!

Oh the joy!

Blessings, cafe friends!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tutorial: How To Use Stamps To Create a Shaped Focal Point

This napkin from IKEA sparked an idea yesterday.

I had been playing with the stamp set Christmas Faith (Papertrey Ink) and thought "Why not use the images to create a Christmas Tree?"

So I did! And today, I'm here to show you how to create a shaped image using stamps!

To begin, I cut out a simple triangle tree shape from scrap paper and placed it on my cardstock in my MISTI tool. This will be the guideline for where to place stamps.

Next, I placed the stamps onto the triangle shape, filling in gaps to form the tree.

When I had all the stamps in place, I closed the lid of my MISTI and pressed so that all of the stamps would stick to the lid.

Now the stamps are ready for inking! I removed the scrap of triangle tree paper from the top of the card stock, and I was ready to stamp.

When all the stamps were inked, I closed the lid and pressed.

And voila! You have a Christmas Tree, created using nothing but small stamps!

I had two small stamps remaining from this set (both berry clusters), and I used these to fill in any white space holes in the design.

Finally, I adhered the panel to a card front, stamped the sentiment, and done!

Truly, I do not use my MISTI enough, but when I do, I fall in love with it each time. This great little tool made quick work of this card, and I was able to make multiple cards in no time. This would be a fun project to try with other shapes, too, like a heart for Valentine's Day.

I love the folk art-inspired look of this card! I think this would also look fabulous all in black, just like the napkin. I may try that on kraft card stock later today.

Blessings, cafe friends!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Let Heaven and Nature Sing

It's been a few weeks since I've had time to sit at my craft table. The reason I know this is because I finally found the time today, and when I looked at the wall across from my craft table, I saw the calendar was still on November. Time flies when you are enjoying the holiday season!

I have been obsessed with print making this month, pinning prints and researching linocuts. I've been drawn to this style for a few years, probably since I lived in Pennsylvania. I keep telling myself that I'm going to buy the supplies and give it a try, but then something else comes up.

No more excuses! I promised myself that this January, I will learn print making and  design my own prints. After sixteen years of paper crafting, I think it's time that I try my hand at design.

These stamps from Papertrey Ink really remind me of the look that I love! Simple, primitive, nature-inspired.

I used linen card stock for extra texture, and then roughed up the edges of the panel with a distressing tool. I tried raising the panel on foam adhesive squares (above), but in the end I decided that it looked better when I adhered the panel directly to the card front (top).

{Today's Brew: Christmas Faith stamp set (PTI), PTI inks and linen card stock}

Monday, December 19, 2016

Little House Sheep Virtues: Joyfulness...finished!

Good morning, cafe friends! I'm serving up piping hot creations today because "Baby, it's cold outside!" Negative eleven this morning, with a wind chill of negative twenty five. Brrr! And yes, we still had school this morning. Who needs buses when you have moms like me to drive the neighborhood kids to school?

We just got home from a weekend trip to Michigan to celebrate Christmas with our families. Great food, lots of laughs, card games, movies, and children running everywhere. What a joy!

I finished the Little House Sheep Virtues "Joyfulness", just in time to give to my mom  this weekend!

Today will be a good day for more indoor activities! I need to get my Christmas cards finished and mailed out. I've also started a new needle art project from Lizzie Kate. And I have a wool felt applique project that's been brewing in my head this weekend.

Time to put on a pot of Winter Blend coffee and get to work.

Stay warm, cafe friends!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Looking Ahead: 2017 Planner

With Christmas quickly approaching, it's easy to forget that the new year is also just around the corner.

My planner pages were coming to an end, and I had to decide what I would use for my pages for the new year.

I still LOVE my Simple Stories Carpe Diem planner. The A5 size is just big enough for me to tote around and to keep things organized. My only problem was that Simple Stories had released two collections with new planners, but I wasn't overly thrilled with either one.

I looked at A Cherry On Top to see what else I could come up with, and that's when I took another look at the Simple Stories collection called Life In Color.

Just one problem: Life In Color was made to use with the SNAP album, two ring system. But the clearance price was just too good to pass up! So I ordered a few items to see if I could use it in my planner.

The pages are just a little bigger than the Carpe Diem inserts, but not enough that it really bothered me. They still fit in the A5 size just fine. And lucky for me, I have a planner punch from Recollections!

I sat with my planner pages, watching television and punching away, using an original Carpe Diem page as my punch guide. It took just a few minutes to convert all the pages from a two ring to a six ring system.

And here it is!

New Life In Color washi tapes, paired with Planner Basics calendar stickers.

Still reusing the items I have left from the original Carpe Diem planner, like these sticky notes.

As you can see, the pages are a tad bigger, but they fit just fine!

I LOVE the fact that the pages are basically black and white. I can add my own color depending on the month and seasons!

The colors look so sweet with my teal planner, too!

Now I can start planning for the new year! One of my biggest plans? STOP ordering craft supplies and start using what I have! And yes, it seems silly to say in a post about the new planner pages I ordered. I am going on a spending freeze in 2017, for a number of reasons. For starters, I have too  much and need to cut back. But most importantly, I want 2017 to be about generosity. Me less, others more. This is tough for me because I have the attention span of a gnat and my gaze wanders to every shiny object and I want it all.

I plan on changing my focus in 2017.

In a few days, I will share with you my Scripture verse and "word" that I will be meditating on in the new year.

Tell me...what are your plans for 2017?

Blessings on this day, and the days ahead, cafe friends!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Traditions of Christmas

The holiday season is usually the time when I splurge on lots of magazines for inspiration. I love looking at all the lovely homes and towns decked out for Christmas!

But not this year. For some reason, I stood at the magazine aisle of Barnes and Noble, looking at issue after issue for something that spoke to me, something that said "Here it is! Christmas!" With the exception of one or two British publications, I came away feeling as though no one really captured the spirit of the season for me.

I visited the book store three times over November and December, each time coming home empty handed.

I had to ask myself "Why is it that those glitzy, sparkly, glamorous magazine spreads do not reflect my ideas about Christmas?"

It was pretty simple, really. Christmas is steeped in tradition. And for me, the traditions reflect my family's German European heritage.

I decided to decorate with a nod to that tradition this year.

I found these adorable mushroom/toadstool ornaments from IKEA this year! I used many on the tree, but also added a few to the hutch. I thought they looked so sweet with these springerle cookie molds that I found in a local antique shop this year.

IKEA always has lovely Christmas items that reflect their northern European style. This cup and bowl spoke to me, and I had to have them!

I found this Humpflmann (spelling?) at last year's Christkindl market in Chicago. I remember playing with the Humpflmann  as a child. Pull the string and he dances!

This year, I found Herr Humpflmann a Fraulein!

These nesting tins from IKEA will be great for storing cookies!

Lots of greenery and pine cones for a woodland Christmas feel.

The celebration of Advent is also a big part of our family tradition. These Advent candles from IKEA are so pretty! We love to light them in the evening.

Music is also a big part of our holiday traditions. This piano gets played every day! Sam can't resist tapping out a tune whenever he walks by!

I also found these springerle molds at the antique shop! The molds all come from the company House on the Hill, and their molds are little works of art. I may get ambitious and attempt to make some springerle cookies with them this year. Last year, I used my Nordicware shortbread pans, and the cookies were melt in your mouth yummy!

I'd love to hear from you! What are your family traditions during the holidays?