Sunday, August 29, 2010

Is this the most beautiful wreath for the holidays? It can be ordered from Cactus Jungle in Berkeley, CA during August. I think you probably have to live in that area to pick it up and transport it safely.

This is just an added extra Sunday notice since I found this over the weekend. Blessings...all...Cathy

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Make Your Own Book

For Christmas one year we gave a really fun gift to my mother-in-law. Yes, this is the same lady who makes angels in the snow (see the story in our book). She was a member of the Robbins' Antarctic Adventure in 2006 which was undoubtly one of the best trips we have ever taken. I don't know that she ever got her pictures organized into anything other than the envelopes they came in from the drugstore developer. So I set about making her a photobook.

There are several websites to choose from for making photobooks. The one I started out with was They have an easy online program which allows you to follow one of their templates or get creative and design your own pages. They supply all the backgrounds to choose from and the page layouts and fonts and colors, etc. All you do is upload your digital photos and click and drag them to the pages. Or you can just let the program fill them in for you. The books come out looking very professional. Prices are not bad. Most of the books I've made have ranged between $15.99 and $30.00. They run specials every so often.

Since I started, I've also found with a similar program. I made a book for our grandkids about our visit to their house this past summer. Lulu had some very colorful backgrounds suited for a kid's book. I put together the pictures of things we'd done while Mommy took care of the new baby and added a storyline so that it read like a simple children's book. Prices here were similar to the other sites I found.

If you don't mind downloading and installing a program from the net, has a terrific design program that is easy to follow and allows for lots of creativity. You can even put a picture as a background on a page. It's very flexible in what it allows you to change on the page layouts. I had a terrific time putting together a nice book of some of my travel stories with my own pictures.

My mother-in-law was delighted with her photobook of Antarctica and has it displayed on her coffee table. Think of all the ways you could make someone smile with their very own book.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Rudy Day

I recently learned that some folks have designated the 25th of each month as Rudolph Day, affectionately called Rudy Day. Since I post on Fridays, I didn't post this on the 25th.  Today, August 27, is my dear husband's birthday, also an important day!

The idea is that on the 25th each month you pause and think about organizing for Christmas. Here on our blog, every day is Rudy Day, since we give Christmas celebrating tips from July to January. So enjoy your own Rudy Days in the months to come, as you prepare to celebrate the day Jesus was born.
Do any of you use Rudolph Day to help organize for the holidays?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reindeer Ornament

Several years ago my grandkids made me some reindeer ornaments that have adorned our tree ever since. They are among my favorite decorations. They aren't difficult to make and would be a fun project for little ones.

You'll need some brown construction paper, scissors, crayons, string and glue. If you want to get fancy, you can get the movable plastic eyes and a little red pom pom for the nose.

Trace the child's foot on a piece of the brown construction paper. Cut it out and set aside. This will be the reindeer's face.

Next trace each of the child's hands on more brown paper and cut out. These will be the antlers.

You may want to glue these to some poster board or stiffer paper to make them sturdier.

Then glue the hand cutouts to the top of the "foot" on the back to make the antlers. Use the crayons to make the eyes and nose or glue on the plastic eyes and red pom pom nose.

Add a string to the back with some glue and you have a cute little reindeer made by your cute little dears.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Home made flour dough ornaments

Many years ago, when we were first married and before we had children, my husband and I made ornaments from flour and salt for our Christmas tree. The ornaments are still gorgeous years later.
We experimented with the mix of flour, salt and water to use and the ingredients are approximately: 4 cups flour, 1 cup salt and enough water to make a very stiff dough, about 1 1/2 cups water. Form it into a ball and place in the refrigerator for a day.
Press or roll the dough and then cut out shapes with it, using a butter knife. We made churches, apples, Mr. and Mrs. Santa, gingerbread men, and angels.
Make a hole at the top of each ornament big enough to put an ornament holder or thin ribbon through. We used a pencil to make a wide hole.
Let the ornaments dry by putting them on a cookie sheet in an oven on the low setting for an hour and watch them because it could take more or less time for them to dry. After you remove them from the oven you will probably need to let them set and dry further for a few days and even as long as a week, turning them over occasionally.
Buy hobby paints in the colors you want, and I recommend glossy red and white and green, among others.
Testors brand model paints in bottles of gloss enamel work well. Some people decorate with permanent markers which I haven't tried, since we like the glossy paint look.
I painted the year we made them on the back of each ornament.
When Christmas arrives this year, and we get out our heirloom flour ornaments, I will take photos and post them here.
No matter what kind of ornaments you make, your family will enjoy working or playing together while making them, and I'm guessing that for years to come they will be a cherished feature on your trees.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Favorite Ornament is Homemade and Personal

When this book first launched in September 2008, I received a package in the mail not long after. I glanced at the return address, and upon seeing Karen Robbins' name, I quickly tore into the package.

Karen had made and sent each of the Word Quilters a homemade Christmas ornament that was a miniature cover of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. She used a note card provided by Leafwood Publishers, our publishing company, and craftily added Mod Podge and glitter. The result? An astounding treasure commemorating a major milestone in my life--a true Christmas first.

Thank you, Karen, for that special ornament. I loved it then, and continue to enjoy hanging it every year.

Leslie Porter Wilson

Monday, August 16, 2010

Little hands can help make fabric covered lollipop decorations

We made many of these fabric covered lollipops for our Christmas tree one year when my son and daughter were small. A word of advice, if you assemble all the needed items and have your squares of fabric already cut, then you'll have plenty of time to assist your children with the tying of yarn.

If you want to make extras, keep them in a basket and when friends drop in, let your children give them a lollipop for their'll not only teach them giving but the joy of giving and doing for others.

We only have a few of these left after all the years, but each year, they go on my tree. As I hang them on the branches, I reminisce about the blondies who help make them. Or, if the grands help decorate, I re-tell about the rainy day, and cupcakes and Kool-Aid. And each year, this storyteller, adds to the story a few raindrops and a little more bluster to the wind.

Find step-by-step instructions at e-How: (picture borrowed from there) 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Spell It Out

Now while the weather is still good enough to open windows or work outdoors, do some preparation for some new Christmas decorations. One idea I ran across uses large wooden letters that can be purchased in a craft store to spell out Joy or Peace or Love or all three if you have enough space on your mantel to set them up.

Decide on what you want to spell out, purchase the letters and some spray paint in the color scheme you've chosen for your decorating. Use a dab of wood glue to attach the letters to each other in a pleasing way. Don't just set them out in a straight line. When the glue is dry, give the wooden letters a couple of light coats of paint. If you spray too much at one time, you'll end up with runs. I would paint them front and back.

When it's time to decorate, set your word(s) up on the mantel and tuck some greens and or ribbons around the base of them.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly

Each Christmas I bring out 2 nativity sets, my 15 wooden nutcrackers, set up our big sparkly freshly cut tree, and set out Christmas theme towels. What next? I love holly. If you have a few holly bushes, or a friend does, you can make a gorgeous bouquet with holly branches, and sometimes plant stores sell the branches.
Last year I learned a new use for holly, to make a mistletoe holder.
Wrap wire around a large potato, and leave wire on the top for hanging it, and at the bottom where you can tie mistletoe. Cut many holly tips, poke holes in the potato with something sharp like an ice pick, and press in the holly twigs to cover the potato with holly tips. Tie on the mistletoe, hang it up, and people will be sure to kiss under it.
Holly are handsome shrubs, and are one of the few plants that grow in all 50 states. If you do some searching, you will find a holly suited to a garden in Maine, or Alabama or any other climate conditions. Since the berries are their glory, you will want to plant a female holly which has the berries, and it is best to plant a male holly nearby. While most hollies have red berries, some holly species have yellow berries, so check first on the berry color before you buy bushes to plant.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Holiday Houseplants

Since I have a collector’s heart, I possess far more Christmas ornaments than I could ever hope to decorate trees. But I don’t want to keep favorite, meaningful ornaments encased in their plastic storage boxes! What to do?

Decorate other things.

My family (my mom) started with houseplants—specifically a Norfolk pine that sat at the end of our sofa in the log home in Colorado, where I grew up. The space between branches allowed room for larger ornaments. One year we used crocheted (Or was it macramé?) snowflakes, the white against green providing a striking contrast.

From there I moved on door knobs, cabinet pulls, wall hooks. Just about any horizontal protuberance (Gotta love the thesaurus!) works. Now I can have my ornaments and eat them too. Or something like that. (Hmmm . . . kinda makes me hungry for gingerbread.)

Leslie Porter Wilson

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Christmas Ice Wreath for Northerners

This week we share our favorite decorating tips. One that I'll most likely not get to try is a frozen ice ring to hang on an outdoor gate or any door of your home, but they are so pretty. A round tubular mold, such as a bundt pan or Jell-O mold may be used. You may want to fill it about a third full, then layer some small fruits or pine needles, do another layer and freeze and then a final layer. These can be made ahead of time, and when below freezing days stretch out for a week, pull out your ice wreath for a quick decorative wreath.

For more detailed instructions go to 

For those of us who rarely get a hard freeze, you might want to try a Hershey Kiss (red and green) wreath. For those instructions visit this link 

For an after dinner and presents activity, let kids and adults make Christmas wreaths from left over paper, store carefully for use the next year. Link at Instructables

Tell us about your favorite wreath.

(Photo borrowed from last link at Instructables, where you'll find instructions to do many things around your home and elsewhere)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Legend of the Robin

This was one of I'm sure many legends that I've never heard of but with the last name of Robbins, how could I resist not retelling a story about a robin?

While Mary was lying beside her son on a bed of straw, the night became chilly. She was too tired and weak to get up and stoke the fire to keep her son warm. Mary asked the oxen in the stable to help her and blow the embers with their breath. But they didn't stir from their place. Then, the poor mother pleaded with the ass to breathe upon the flame to make it brighter and warmer but the animal was fast asleep.

At last, a brave small Robin heard Mary's pleas and saw her and her son's discomfort. He took pity on them and come through the window to help them. He flapped his wings till the flames rekindled and started burning brighter. Some of the sparks even leapt up and seared the creature's breast but the Robin continued on bravely till the stable grew warmer and the Child slept softly. The thankful Mary blessed the Robin for his bravery and kindness and said that from that point of time, every Robin would have a breast of red as a reminder of the great charity it had done unselfishly for Baby Jesus.

What a perfect excuse now to find a feathered robin in your craft store, attach a ribbon to it, and hang it on your tree!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Legend of the Christmas Spider Ornament

Do you have a spider ornament for your Christmas tree?
The ornaments themselves can be quite cute and not at all scary. I have always liked Daddy Long Legs spiders and usually rescue them when I find them in our shower area, but I know some of you may think ick when you see a spider. I have one handmade spider ornament made of clear and gold faceted beads and another made of a shell with glitter on it.
The legend of the Christmas spider explains why a spider ornament is welcome on many Christmas trees.
A humble spider, according to the legend, watched a family decorate a tree one Christmas eve. He was fascinated by this activity and when the people went to bed, he crawled all over the branches looking with wonder at each shiny ornament. He wished he had a way to help decorate the tree as his gift to the Holy Child. As the spider examined the ornaments he left a trail of spider webs which covered the tree.
When Santa Claus arrived he turned the web into gold and silver strands that shimmered brightly.
 So when you decorate your tree with angels, fish, reindeer, Hallmark ornaments, Santas and more, consider adding a reverent spider to the tree too and share this story with your children.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Legend of the Stocking - by Trish Berg

As a family we hang stockings on our staircase banister because we do  not have a fireplace. Ours are filled with small, wrapped gifts, candy and (now that we have teenage girls) makeup and perfume. Our children look forward to opening their stocking gifts later in the day on Christmas Day, almost a second round of gifts. I always try to tuck a little surprise or two in there just to keep them guessing.

So why do we hang stockings up? Well, it started a long time ago. Here is the Legend of the Christmas Stocking:

"Yet another version of the story of Saint Nicholas lies the origin of the tradition of washing the stockings on the night before Christmas and hanging them up on the window sill or near the hearth, in readiness to receive gifts from Santa. It is said to happen 17 centuries ago in Turkey. Here the Bishop of Myra, Nicholas was known all over for his benevolence and love for children. He used to distribute gifts secretly to children on Christmas Eve as a surprise for them. While he was passing a house he heard a father and his daughters lamenting their poverty and how they were unable to be married because they could not provide dowry that was prevalent in those days.

Overcome with pity and sympathy, Nicholas observed the woolen stockings of the girls that they had put on the windowsill to dry and secretly placed enough gold pieces in each to provide dowry for the girls. Another variations of the custom of hanging out stockings for Santa Claus (popular name for Saint Nicholas) are putting hay and carrots in their shoes by Dutch children for the horse of their dear Sinterklass who is their patron saint and brings them presents. Swedish children wait for a kindly gnome called the Tomte instead of Santa on Christmas. This gnome is believed to live under the floorboards. In some parts of France, Mexico and Spain, children wait for the Three Kings to fill their shoes with presents.

However, children of north French pray that Pere Fouettard or Father Spanker would not visit them as he is reputed to punish and spank children, if they are naughty and bad. La Befana is another version of Santa that visits the Italian children and gives them gifts albeit on Epiphany or 6th of January. Agios Vasilis, the Saint of Letters visit the Greek children living in plains but those living in the mountains are taken care of by the tiny elves who bring the desired gifts to the good little children. The tradition of giving gifts reminds us that Jesus himself was a gift to the world and the gifts that he received when he was born."
Source: World of Christmas

Monday, August 2, 2010

Flying Reindeer, Really?

Someone who thinks they know about reindeer at the North Pole started the rumor that Santa's reindeer were all female because they still had antlers in December. It's time we set the record straight.

I've done a little fact checking and have found that reindeer at or near the North Pole, both male and female, have antlers. If those girls wanted to chip a bit of ice for a cold lemonade, they need the equipment to butt heads with a block of ice.

Most males lose their antlers in late November or early December, but the females don't shed theirs until spring. However the young bucks often hang onto their a bit longer. I tried to reach Santa to ask him in person, but his answering machine said to leave a message and he will call back. I've waited a few days, and haven't heard from him. I know a large shipment of red paint went north, so I imagine he's busy painting toy fire engines and nutcrackers for December.

Here's my two peppermints worth: I personally think that Santa needed the younger teenage male deer to pull his sleigh. Why? They have to get a really good running start to launch that thing into the air. When you don't have the assistance of wings to help you fly, your feet surely has to do a lot of sky-dog-paddling to keep Santa and all those toys airborne.

Can you name all of those flying reindeer? That's another reason I think they are male. Santa picked out all boy names, and he just doesn't make mistakes. He gets all those trucks to the boys and dolls to the girls every year. Silly people. Don't they think Santa knows boy reindeer when he sees them.

If you want to calculate how old you are in reindeer years, just follow the link below.