Posts Tagged ‘crafts’

Christmas 2012 020

I’ve been blessed this Christmas, but I’ve also been blessed throughout the year by some pretty amazing friends. Friends that have encouraged me without saying a word, friends who have inundated me with kindness and laughter,  and friends that are so special I know I could search the world over and not find their like in ten thousand years. They are the kinds of people who are difficult to shop for and so this year I decided to “make merry” instead of buying them something for Christmas.  First up, my friends from work.

There, I’ve a friend who has inspired me to both search harder for the grace-moments even when everything goes wrong (it seems) and to respond quickly with gratitude to Christ and to others when I receive it.

She’s had  many amazing things happen this year, and she’s also weathered some devastating events. She makes me want to be not more like her, but more like Jesus.

I’m reminded of a story I read recently of a homeless man who recently got saved and prayed each day that the Lord would make him more like Mike, the man who worked in the mission and helped the others who had no place to go. Someone asked him ‘Hey, why don’t you pray that the Lord make you more like Jesus’ and the man piped back “Oh, is Jesus like Mike?”

Replace Mike with her name, and you’ve got the idea of how she lives. Is she perfect? Nope, but she makes me hungry to ‘be like Jesus’ with the same kind of transparency and grace she possesses.

I wanted to give her a really special Christmas present. She’s a journal keeper  so I knew right away I wanted to give her a journal. But not just any journal would do. I scoured Tuesday Morning(TM) for a C.R. Gibson(C) blank book (picked it up for just $3.99 shh don’t tell her) and found a black bonded leather one that was just perfect.  Then I started thinking about what I was going to do with it to alter it, just for her. My friend’s life is a mosaic of places and people, nations and neighbors, family and friends and  she  really likes word games like Words With Friends(TM) and Scrabble(TM).  I decided to  incorporate the gypsy/bohemian feel of her life with her love of word games and that pulled the theme together.

I ransacked my altered letter stash and slowly started putting the words I wanted on the cover using superglue. It’s perfect for this kind of project where I’m bonding all kinds of materials to each other and I want them to stay put.

After the words were in place, I  wanted to add some flash and fire to the layout, a look of gems scattered here and there against a dark background because she’s always finding precious things in the middle of a trial.

Oh, to have her sight when I go though my own hard times.

Finally, I wanted to put on a wing  on the journal because she waits on the Lord and mounts up over the hard places with wing of eagles, and also because I have often prayed that she find rest in the shadow of His wings.


All the planning and cogitating paid off, I gave her the journal for Christmas,  and she loved it.


That was the first journal I altered to give as a Christmas present, and it kinda opened the flood gates.

So for my second friend from work, I went with a Mead College Ruled Composition Book.  She’s a writer, and a gamer, and just all together way cool. We’ve hung out once for coffee and to ‘talk writer talk’ and intend in the new year to do that way more often.  She got me a fantastic Loki necklace since he’s my favorite hero.

Wait, what do you mean he isn’t a hero? Yes he is! He’s a tragic hero! His dad betrays him, his brother doesn’t understand him, he’s manipulated and played and.. .oh fine go ahead and believe the Avengers propaganda.

Anyway, I wanted to give her something just as cool as what she gave me and that meant, making something.  She’s currently playing through the Mass Effect games (she started with Mass Effect, and then Mass Effect 2, and then Mass Effect 3 but had trouble importing her Shepherd so she’s toggling between playing a new Shepherd and working through ME2  as well as Knights of the Old Republic and other games)

Since I had little understanding of the mythos of the game, I was delighted to find there was a Mass Effect Wiki. That helped me pick the color red, and the metal plating as the game relies heavily on heroic sacrifices  and there is a philosophical pondering throughout the universe about what does it mean to be sentient. Can inorganic be sentient? Can a hive-mentality created artificial life possess a soul?  The game is much deeper than a simple ‘run through the universe and destroy enemies’ and it has solidified some thoughts  I’ve had  about story-telling in video game format. That is definitely another post.

For now, back to the journal.

After I laid down the kick-plate silver paper, I ‘ripped’ the red against itself and set that on top using UHU sticks. If anyone wants to cover notebooks like I do, invest in UHU glue sticks. They’re readily available at any craft store in the glue isle and come in two sizes. They come either colored (to help you see where you’re putting the glue and will dry clear) and clear. I used the colored.   They work so much better than mod podge, they are not nearly as wet, and they bond BETTER to cardboard with less paper warping that any mod podge I’ve used. I learned this trick from a lady who makes books for a living, when I took a class on book making. (Yeah I can do that too but it requires WAY more prep time).

After I glued down the papers front and back it was time to put my wood cutting blade to improper use in cutting out  the characters for her book. They’re  from Mass Effect 3 Playing Cards I found at  Think Geek  and worked perfectly because they’re all ready printed and laminated. The only difficulty was their somewhat odd and incomplete poses. But I think they work. I had to pick who to put on the front (there are more on the back too) but I picked the ones that I liked the best, as well as some of the ones that I’d heard her mention at work. The gears are held on with superglue (really the altered book go-to adhesive) as is the game spinner, and the firey swarovski sequin.

The characters are stuck in place by UHU glue and they are bonded to that paper, really bonded. I always test their adhesion by using the element as a handle to open the book. If nothing moves, then I know it’s good for travels and adventures. The words are the only bit I wish I had done differently. I just stuck them down using their own adhesive and am all ready regretting it–several lifted and I had to ‘reglue’ with the  UHU stick. Hopefully, the others will behave. I can repair for her, however, if they come off. The phase ties in both to writing and the game, as anyone who has played Mass Effect 3 will know, the Crucible is a device/ship/element that Shepherd has to decide to use, or not use. It’s also a “ceramic container where metals or other materials may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures”  which makes the play on words that much more fun.

Here’s the front:

Cati 1
And here’s the back (sorry it’s a bit blurry)

Cati 2
It reads “Friends walk beside you into the flames” continuing the thought on the front, and showing off several of the most endearing companions you can have in the game. The little metal disk says “journey”
I gave it to her for Christmas and, she loves it!


I know she’ll fill it up with some amazing words of her own, and hopefully get lots of compliments on it.

Whew, this is turning into a long-winded post, and I’ve two more to show you. I think I’ll stop here, and then post again.

So, watch for the second part and tell me in the comments below, what do you make and give away? Or what “made” gift did you get this year the blew YOU away?

Coriam Deo, Scribes

I had a blast Wednesday meeting a friend for coffee and talking writerly stuff, and then there was a birthday party I attended. All in all, a very nice day. I’ve needed one.  During the party (which was at my house) I started snapping pictures of all the decorations we have up (we’ve kinda gone all out this year) and as promised here are some of the highlights.


Our Christmas tree has been up since the day after Thanksgiving. That’s a little early for us but with all the news we’ve gotten this year, extra cheer has been nice to come home to.  We use colored lights on the tree, and that’s the only place we use them. All the rest, as you’ll see, are white lights.  The ornaments on the tree are either gifts from friends,  bought at special occasions, or home-made.  Here are a couple of my favorite:


This is a tiny little nativity hidden inside a white star. At the bottom, there’s a place for a Christmas Tree light to be tucked up inside and illuminate the scene, but I prefer it just plain white.  A friend from work gave this to me after he heard me admiring it for several weeks. He didn’t have much at the time and I wasn’t expecting a gift from him at all, it was so sweet (the ornament wasn’t much so I didn’t feel bad accepting it) but the memory is such a dear one, I smile every time I hang it on the tree.


This one is special because of the whole Isaiah 9 proclamation that I’d been reading for several days during advent and then WHAM there it was on an ornament as if He’d dropped it down straight from the throne room just to encourage me. I’ve always loved this passage:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

I’d never seen one before with Isaiah 9 on it. Oh, there are plenty from the New Testament, and some from the Psalms, but I’d never seen Isaiah 9 referenced so blatantly before. It was definitely a God Wink, from Him to me. Every year I remember that (I’ve been practicing this remembering thing for a while) when I set this on our tree.

Mt Vernon Globe
This is the last ornament I’ll share today. It’s a stylized ornament from Mount Vernon, and is meant to replicate the globe that George Washington had in his study in his grand estate. I had such a lovely time last Christmas with my cousin Sally, her friend, and Mom and Dad seeing Mount Vernon at night. There was a lovely tour of the estate with actors dressed in period costumes, hot cider, cookies, and even a real live camel!  If you ever have a chance to go at Christmas, take that chance, it was definitely an evening full of memories for me.


This, is Aurelius.   He’s a dwarf pine Mom bought me from Wegman’s and he’s only suppose to grow 2” a year. We’ll see about that Aurelius, we’ll see how fast you grow. Mom bought him for me because every year I lament  and look sorrowful over the fact that our Christmas tree is an artificial one, and so now I have my own TINY natural one. Speaking of which, he needs a good watering, I’ll be right back.  There, now he’s had a good drink.  Aurelius means “Golden” and while this tiny tree isn’t golden in color, he is definitely  worth more than gold to me.   Doesn’t he look spiffy?


This is the mantle in the family room, and Mom and I are really proud of this one too!  The lights and decorations are just right, and the ribbon adds a sparkling point for the lights.  I also love the cheeky cardinal perched to the wreath. He’s just the right touch.  It always takes us so much longer than we think it’s going to take, decorating, and there are differences of opinion and small catastrophes to overcome but in the end we have this lovely sight and that makes it all worth while.

Mantle close violin
See the lights shining through the ribbon? The look is enchanting with the lights out, but then I can’t take a picture which is kinda the point of this post. Mantle close bells
It really looks as good or better than the decorations we saw when we were in Williamsburg in 2010. Our house has a  Colonial look and Mom, Dad, and I love Williamsburg so we tend to have  Christmas decorations that echo that style. There are  lots of berries, small birds, bells, and natural elements. We’ve even made popcorn strings before and strings of dried cranberries.


This gorgeous piece rested on our dinning room server for a bit, and was stuffed full of amazing little things.  It’s now over our door outside.

Door 2

It’s so lush looking! I love it. And it’s all wired into place so no one will be hurt as they walk beneath. You want to see more outside stuff? Sure! Door 1

That’s running white pine and some other pines draping gracefully down the sides of the front there, and that lovely over stuffed box fills the window nicely.   I wish you could  catch the scent of the running pine when the sun lays on it, it smells like Christmas.
Decorations 2012 Take 2 098

Here’s our door decoration (again greens, birds, bright ribbons and berries) which has weathered nicely.


We have three outdoor lights, all like this one, and each one has a wreath too. Whew! This is becoming a long post even with the pictures. I think I’m going to have to do a ‘part two’ because we aren’t done  with the decoration tour, not by a long shot.

How does your family decorate for Christmas  or Hanukkah? Do you use family heirlooms, or add pieces bit by bit? A combination of both?  What unique part of your festival display is your favorite? Tell me in the comments below!