I've been putting off this project forever (okay, about 8 months). Ever since coming back from Mexico, I'd been dying to try out something I'd seen down there in the kiosks. Since my husband is able to create steel dies that cut wood, I asked for his help in putting into wood what I'd envisioned in my head. He obliged.
I finally got around to painting it tonight. Can you guess what (or who) it is?
Since this was only a test piece, scrap wood was used. However, even being scrap wood, the puzzle pieces came out just as I wanted them to! Each piece is 3/4" thick, so they're super durable. Vince has already chucked pieces across the room for kicks and nothing split or cracked (aside from the slight crack that was there to begin with). I though that was a good sign, especially since we'd only used scrap wood!!!
For reference, this is what 3/4" of an inch looks like:
Anyhow, the naked pieces have been sitting on my counter just waiting for me to pick out the perfect colors. I finally did so tonight because with the oncoming snow, I figured a crafty activity would keep me occupied. Here I am about halfway through the process:
To get some of the colors juuuuuust right, I got to try my hand at mixing. I wanted a subtle rosy pink for the cheeks, but the red I had was too dark and the white didn't help, so I added yellow and got precisely what I wanted. I felt all sorts of artsy!
I must've painted each piece about five or six times. Wood absorbs paint like you wouldn't believe, and I wanted certain colors to REALLY stand out (like that gorgeous cobalt blue).
Besides, I don't mind if things take longer to do if they come out looking nice in the end.
The halo might've been one of the more time consuming parts of the project because wanted to use special metallic paint to highlight some of the rays. To ensure I didn't make a total mess of things, I taped off lines for myself:
It definitely looked a bit silly at the time, but I was so happy with the way it turned out.
Definitely worth the agita of fighting the tape.
All in all, it took me about an hour and a half to paint everything. I used a hair dryer at some points to help the paint dry faster (so I could paint facial features, for example). Otherwise, I just spent my time sanding, painting, painting some more, and taping off things here or there.
I used a different brush for each color because I didn't want anything getting mixed that I wasn't mixing on purpose, ya know? The sponge tipped brushes worked best on the wood to give it a smooth, even coat. The fine-tipped brushes were perfect for the details. I'm really happy with how the final project turned out. Have you guessed who I was painting?
I haven't sealed it yet, but that's because I want to wait overnight to let everything really dry thoroughly.
Now that I know I can actually paint these pieces and have them look like a cute facsimile of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I'm going to have John make me a few more using non-scrap wood. He'd know the best kind of wood for a project like this, so I'll defer to him, but I wanted to share with you folks because I'm just so pleased with how she turned out.
I'm contemplating painting other versions since this is such a basic design. Suggestions? Thoughts?
I'm also thinking about coming up with other designs - specifically ones that involve the Holy Family. I've always liked those Holy Family images with St. Joseph basically encompassing Our Lady as she cradles the Infant Jesus in her arms... something like that.
So, that was my craft tonight. Any ideas on which version of Our Lady I should try next? I'm very open to suggestions!
My poor kid was so sick last week! His fever just wouldn't quit. I ended up taking him to the ER late Friday night because his breathing was so awful. He had some fluid in his lungs. My poor little munch!
He missed a whole week of school. This is the first time he's actually registered that he wasn't feeling well. When the doctor asked him where he hurt, he replied, "My esophagus!"
Ha ha ha. That anatomy app I purchased was totally worth it. The doctor got quite the chuckle out of that one.
I made this diaper cake for a coworker's baby shower. I always enjoy putting this sort of stuff together. I'm not a baker by any stretch of the imagination, but you'd be amazed at the things I can do with a few diapers. Ha ha ha!
This is our first office baby, so we're all pretty excited (at least the women are). I can't wait to meet her! This is my coworker's first child, too, so keep her in your prayers. She's due in a few weeks and is nervous (as all new mothers are).
The shower was so much fun. I think Carla (the new mom) was surprised. She was definitely super appreciative that we organized the event for her. Good times!
Had a REALLY disturbing experience on Friday night before taking Vince to the hospital. I went out with my friend, Theresa, to a brewery for dinner. Great food, nice service, REALLY ridiculous dining neighbors.
While Theresa and I were enjoying our food, an older woman (45-50) and a younger man (maybe 25?) sat next to us at an adjacent table. Their table was likely a foot and a half from ours. The woman was obviously inebriated, and apparently they were on a first date. She kept smacking him across the table and repeating, "You're so HOT! You don't think I'm gorgeous. Tell me that I'm gorgeous again!"
It was embarrassing. If that wasn't bad enough, she slipped off her shoe and placed her foot against his lap (we were outdoors, no table cloths, and again... we were less than 2 feet away). I started giving Theresa the "We need to get out of here NOW" stare, so she started pounding back her drink.
The woman then suggests they take a selfie (REALLY, lady? A SELFIE? Just stop). She threw herself into his lap and put her hands where her foot had just been. She then said, "This would be easier if you'd open your legs" and then loudly declared, "I'm going to bed you tonight." (WHO SAYS THAT?!)
I immediately paid the tab and left. I couldn't stop balking about it the whole way home. It's almost a week later and I'm STILL balking about it! Who DOES that?!
That guy was young enough to be her son, and she was acting like a tweeny-bopper fawning over One Direction. I was so incredibly embarrassed for her. As for the guy, he didn't seem to mind anything her aggressiveness nor her inebriation (for obvious reasons). I just can't...
They were in a VERY public place during the dinner rush. They were in VERY close proximity to us and the table on the other side of them. The woman was loud and obnoxious, and the guy did nothing to point that out. I almost felt like looking around for Candid Cameras because the situation seemed so ludicrous.
Ick. Please never let me turn into that when I get older. Ick. Please never let Vincent allow himself to be as degraded as the yahoo with that woman. IIIIIIICK.
What are you even supposed to do in that situation? "Excuse me, folks, but could you take your lustful stupidity down a notch? Normal people would like to enjoy their dinners."
When did it become acceptable to act like this in public?!
I got the opportunity to take Vince to see Medieval Times. We had SO MUCH FUN! At first he was terrified due to the over-stimulation, but after we got him focused on his own shouting (cheering on the black night you see us standing with).
There were nine of us altogether. The three kids had a blast and us parents were getting giddy just watching them enjoy themselves. Definitely one of the best nights we've had in a long time.
I finally got around to adding some new stuff to the Store.
The new features include multiple pictures of the earrings, a zoom feature, and an actual "Cart."
Anywho, feel free to peruse. 10% of every order still goes to the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia, and they do some awesome, life-saving work!
These were the cute little crafts Vincent and I put together for my mom and John's mom for St. Valentine's Day. I saw something similar on Pinterest and thought I could adapt it to Vincent's skill set. I'm really happy with how they came out. They're simply adorable!
All you need:
A frame (I chose 8x10)
Fabric leaves (optional)
What to do:
1) Paint your child's hand with red paint (or, as I did, let your son smash his hand around in a dish of paint).
2) Press hand firmly onto poster board (top center leaving about an inch border).
3) If you're using fabric leaves, you can thread a green pipe cleaner through the stem, or you can simply glue them in place as sepals. If you'd rather, you can simply paint, draw or use pipe cleaners to create the sepals.
4) Use different colored pipe cleaners to form letters. This was something Vince needed help with, but once I showed him how to do it, he kinda liked trying to bend the pipe cleaners into shapes.
5) Glue the letters into place. We chose to spell out "Love," but obviously you can spell out whatever you'd like.
6) Date the project!
7) Insert the poster board (now completed) into the frame after allowing time for the paint / glue to dry.
Super easy and super fun. I absolutely loved how they turned out, and Vincent's really proud of them, too. Plus, it was a great way to work on his fine motor skills. We can't wait to give them out. Hopefully the snow goes away so we're able to do that soon!
Michelle at Liturgical Time is hosting a Jesse Tree ornament swap.
I was excited to take part for the following three reasons:
By the time I'd gotten wind of the swap, many of the "good" ones were taken. Determined to make the most of my "do something crafty" point, I ran through the list for the most boring sounding ornament of all. I found it in Zechariah. Suggested symbols were pencil and paper. In my mind, it doesn't get much more boring than that. So I e-mailed Michelle and asked if she'd be kind enough to put me in for good old Zechariah so long as no one else had claimed him (not that I was even slightly worried he was taken, 'cause again... who takes Zechariah when there are cool folks like Adam, Eve, Noah, Elijah and Mary to choose from?).
When Michelle wrote me back and gave me the green light, I felt a quick pang. "Uh oh. It's official. Other folks are counting on me to come up with something that isn't gonna suck. Now what?"
I did a quick Pinterest search for Zechariah. Did a quick Google search. Did a quick check back on Michelle's page to see if I could grab someone else because, thus far, nothing on Zechariah looked at all appealing.
I stopped myself, though. I wanted to stick to my guns. I'm creative, gosh darn it! I could come up with something fun that embodies the theme of anticipation and summarizes Zechariah's place on the Jesse Tree. I could! I definitely could. Maybe. Hopefully.
So I thought about it for a bit. Zechariah's best known for being struck mute upon disbelieving that God would deliver a son to his wife, Elizabeth, and he. Given they were both older, he was incredulous. In fact, Zechariah wasn't able to speak again until little John the Baptist was born. While everyone was running around demanding that his son be named after Zechariah, mute Zechariah finally regained use of his voice to affirm the child's name as decreed by God.
How could I capture that?
Cue the Holy Spirit.
No, seriously. Circle pouch. I thought of a little zippered coin pouch that could serve as Zechariah, himself. I did a quick tutorial search and found this by Erin Erickson:
Pretty snazzy, right? She's got some cool stuff that way - go check her out!
Anywho, this looked simple enough. I figured I'd just modify the zipper portion so it was lower, put a "hanger ribbon" in place of the keyring, and slap some googly eyes on brown felt fabric to make Zechariah's face. Zippered shut signified his silence while opened up would signify his ability to speak. In addition to this unzippered mouth, I was contemplating a way to have a ribbon come out and be able to fold back into the pouch that said, "His name is John."
Well, I finally sat down to try my hand at this little pouch today. Since I wanted to get my students (and craft friends) involved, I wanted to hammer out the process. Thank God I did, 'cause I was a flat out disaster! Seriously. Disaster. Take a look at this sexy thing:
Go ahead and recoil in horror. Scream. Cry a little inside. That's what I did. In fact, when I showed my husband, he said, "That might just be the worst thing I've ever seen. Ever."
Alrighty then. So my little Frankenstein wasn't gonna cut it. I cannot sew in a circle, and the creepy little button eyes were getting to me. So I decided to go a sewing-free route. It took a few trial-and-error runs, but eventually, I got Zechariah looking a little more human:
And since I still wanted the anticipation of "opening his mouth" to be something the kids could look forward to when they used this little ornament year after year, I kept the creepy "John" ribbon and made it look a little less creepy:
Eventually I'll put a step-by-step up here for anyone interested in doing this little craft themselves. I'll save you the trouble of that first monstrosity. ;)
So far, though, most folks are tickled by the idea behind this ornament. Everyone loves pulling his mouth open to see "John" slide out, and it slides right back in again with the tug of the top part of the ribbon (that you can use to hang it). For kids, they'll look forward (with anticipation!) to opening Zechariah's mouth and hearing the story of how John the Baptist got his name. For adults, it'll hopefully be a good teaching tool in sharing the story of trusting in the goodness and power of God.
Now, I've got five made (sans that little monster face). Only 27 more to go (and I'll have the help of my students and a few craft-friends). WOO HOO!
I've been a busy bee with earrings lately. I had a special request for guardian angel earrings (last set!). A group of teens (8 in total) will be wearing them in solidarity for a Pro-Life event they helped put together through their Youth Group. How cool is that? I did them free of charge (of course!). How cool that they thought to wear earrings in solidarity with the "angels" lost to abortion every day? Sometimes these kid astound me. They'll be giving the Pro-Life Union of Philadelphia the first My Broken Fiat check I've been able to amass through your generosity. $100! So thank you so much for your support, guys!!!
When I get a new batch of these particular beads in, I'll start offering them in the shop. The others are new designs I was fiddling with to add some gold to the mix since most of my pieces are silver.
Anyway, here's what I've got! I'm really loving the metal charms and glass beads. The colors are pretty and they're just so much fun to work with!
Since I've still got plenty of beads and yarn to work with, I tried to figure out a fun Lenten craft that would use them up!
I lucked upon some cheap foam sheets at Walmart and put the two together. Fun was the result!
Since Ash Wednesday falls on the day before Valentine's Day this year, I decided to combine my Lent and Valentine's Day crafts. To prep my students for the upcoming craft, I spent Tuesday night's lesson explaining to them the purpose of Lent and why we prepare through prayer and sacrifice. We spent a good portion of the class going through the Triduum and why that is considering the most sacred time of year for Catholics. Since Jesus was willing to sacrifice so much for us, it's only fitting that we return His love by showing our love for Him by loving others.
So this coming week, we're going to be doing Valentine's to Jesus, but instead of simple "I love you Jesus" messages, we're going to be offering LENTEN Valentines. I'm having the kids mark down things they'd like to both give up as a sacrifice and do for others as a sign of love. They'll put their ideas onto the foam sheets and frame them out with decorations and symbols of their faith.
To further prepare, I mocked up these samples:
The first one is a combination of Love Letter and Sacrifice Beading. I took 40 purple beads to signify the 40 days of Lent and strung them along four strings of yarn. For each time the child resists temptation, a bead can be moved down the line. This is a good way to help children see the progress they're making and give them a sense of accomplishment. The beads along the bottom are red, white and blue. They weren't chosen because I was feeling patriotic. Instead, I chose them to provide special meaning for "gifts of love" done by the child.
Red is to remind us of the pain that sometimes comes along with sacrifice. Jesus gave us the gift of Eternal Life, but it came at the cost of His Blood. Thus, when we sacrifice things during Lent, we should aim to sacrifice things that might be a little difficult (like video games, candy, fast food or shoe shopping!).
White is to remind us of the purity of God's gift. The Father did not force the Son to sacrifice Himself for us. Jesus was not guilty of anything. Instead, Jesus's motive for coming to earth to die was pure. His Sacrifice was driven purely by love. Our sacrifices duing Lent should also be driven by love.
Blue is to remind us of the Blessed Mother. She, too, consented to take part in these Sorrowful Mysteries because she knew it was necessary for God's children to return to Heaven. When I explained this to the kids last week, I likened Our Lady to a firefighter's mother.
If a firefighter knows a baby is at the top of a burning building, what does he do? He runs up to the top of the building to save that baby! It's his job! It's what he chose to do with his life because he cares about others and wants to spend his life helping them!
Would his mother object to him trying to save the baby? Would she have jumped in front of him and sacrifice the life of the baby? No. Why? Because she understands he has to save the baby. She knows the baby would die without her hero son, and so she suffers the fear and pain of losing her son because being a fireman is who he is.
Just like that fireman was born to save lives, Jesus was born to save humanity. Thus, Our Lady consented to the fear and pain that went along with seeing Her Beloved Son die so that we could all gain eternal life. In my Lenten meditations, I always tend to stick with my sacrifices better when comparing them to hers. If she could do that, I can give up fries and junk food, ya know?
So I put the blue ones in there in case the kids want to do something similar.
Put a magnet on the back and you can hang it up on your fridge so you can keep track in an easy-to-reach spot!
The next one is a horizontal frame that includes three "give up X" and three "do X for others" items. I alternated them and to denote which was which, I placed either a heart (for loving others) or a cross (for sacrifice) above or below the corresponding picture.
I'm a terrible artist, so forgive me. I used Sharpie markers for this one. I chose three typical sacrifices to showcase as ideas: Fast food, chocolate and mean / angry language. For the "love others" items, I chose organization, prayer and monetary donations. Obviously these pictures can vary based on the child's choices. I liked putting the "Lead me to Your Cross, dear Jesus!" at the bottom, though. It just seemed to fit. Sacrifice undoubtedly leads us to Christ, and loving others through things like prayer and help are about as Christ-like as you can get!
I chose to make slits in the frame to give the smaller foam piece a place to anchor into. No glue necessary! Just make the slits with a knife or pair of scissors.
Finally, I made the more "traditional" Valentine card. It's very simple and made mostly with the little foam stickers I found in my travels. I did end up hot gluing the red piece onto the white background for this one.
Fish on Fridays, remembering to make my bed in the morning, and making a concentrated effort to pray with faith - no empty words here!!!
So those are just a few of the fun little projects you can do with your kids / classes. It will give the children a chance to really think about and express their love for Jesus while preparing for the Lenten / Easter season.
My friend, Faith, got Vince a super cool sleeping bag for Christmas. He uses it for nap time at daycare almost every week. As a result of the constant use, the velcro straps on the ends have become relatively useless as of late. So, I decided to try fixing it with a single velcro strap that went around the middle of the entire bag instead of around the two sides.
I originally wanted a buckle, but I couldn't find one of those snap buckles (the kind on high chairs?). So I went with velcro since it was cheap and easy to use.
I did a quick measure of where the stitch would need to go and set that bad boy through my sewing machine. Again, success! I really enjoy short little projects like this because I end up feeling productive and motivated to try again.
So that's my advice to newbs out there like myself. Keep trying your hand at the little things. Build up your confidence and motivation through them. They'll hone your basic skills and introduce you to new ones little by little. Yay!
So I saw this adorable idea on Pinterest the other day. I don't have a Pinterest account, but I do regularly see "pins" on Facebook and this particular one caught my eye. An easy apron you can make out of a potholder and a dishtowel?
Color me intrigued.
So off I go to find a cute potholder / dishtowel duo that can serve as my base. Here's what I found (Walmart for $3!):
The set came with two square potholders, a mitt, three towels and a washcloth. Not bad for $3. Material definitely isn't the best, but I figure $3 on a practice project is $3 well spent, especially when I can get several projects outta the pack!
So anyway, I decided to give the project a go tonight after I picked up the pink ribbon you see above.
I cut the towel a little less than halfway through. I wanted the pattern of little cupcakes to still show up in a way that didn't look odd when completed. Unfortunately, I underestimated the fabric allowance I'd need to fold over to sew a decent looking seam. As a result, the lines aren't straight again and I think the cupcakes ended up being on a slight angle. Meh... gives it some character. *Grin*
From here I decided I should attempt to fold down the corners of my little rectangle so I could sew the potholder onto the towel. I eye-balled two triangles on either side of the top and sewed them in place. I didn't take pictures of this part - though I really should've - because I didn't want to stop since I'd finally gotten things working right.
Those triangles taught me the importance of having an iron handy. I don't think I'd've been able to sew those seams closed had I not had the iron to help me make the creases that would hold down the fabric. So yes! Irons really DO make all the difference in the world. Who knew?
Once the triangles were in place, I took on the potholder. I measured the seam out to where I thought it should go. GLORIOUS mistake on this one. Since I was sewing backside (to keep the stitch colors where I wanted them) I didn't see that my measurement was way off until I flipped the pieces over to view my not-so-handy-work. I actually laughed. This is what it looked like:
Oh well. I figured I may as well continue making as many mistakes as possible with this one. Get 'em out of the way so when I try my hand at this again, I won't have so many goofs to take photos of. Ha ha!
Once the potholder was attached, I decided to put a ribbon across the center as a little belt. It'd cover the stitching error and would add a touch of cute (as if cupcakes weren't adorable enough!).
So I grabbed the ribbon and was pleasantly surprised to find that it folded out into 2 inch fabric! It's not real ribbon... it's something called bias tape. Worked for me!
So I unfolded it out and cut a center piece for the belt. Again, I eye-balled it since I'm not really sure what I'd be measuring anyway since I didn't start out with any sizes. I then folded those and sewed the ends into place.
I decided against sewing the belt down the center because after I secured both sides, it actually sat pretty flat against the potholder. I felt that adding a sewing line would be silly. Granted, I would've gotten practice sewing in a straight line, but I think it looks cute enough without the line and I do plan to give this to my niece.
Anyway, after the belt was secured, I attached the ribbons to tie in the back and around the neck. Those were simple enough. Once completed, I was pretty pleased with myself. It took me about an hour and a half to accomplish (mostly because I was fighting with my machine), but all in all, this was a really good practice run and I learned a few new things about my machine and the sewing process. Plus, I feel like I'm an expert threader now that I've had to do it about a bazillion times.
Here's the trial run apron. Can't wait to see what the 2nd one looks like!
I sincerely hope a year from now I have enough practice that I can look back at this photo and cringe in horror. Right now, though, I'm basking in my success, even if it's the messy sort. :)
I'm currently teaching my kids about the Liturgical Calendar. I wanted to do something more hands on for them to help them better understand how colors and season work together to tell the story of Jesus' Life.
Since I have a plethora of colored beads on-hand (these are given as rewards that kids can exchange for treats), I figured a beaded liturgical calendar was in order!
I pulled some yarn and cut them into strips about 12 inches long. I then had the kids sort the colored beads into their proper seasons and string them, in order, onto the yarn. Once completed, they tied their ends together to create an easy to follow (and portable!) liturgical calendar!
These are what the looked like:
The best part about these (aside from how cheap and easy they are to make), is they can be customized to suit the level of your children!
Older kids can do a calendar that features Holy Days of Obligation (the above is only Sundays plus the Triduum). Or maybe they want to do the ENTIRE calendar and see if they can't coordinate the feasts of martyrs, the Blessed Mother and other saints while still paying attention to season.
I was so pleased with how these turned out that I plan to do one with Vincent! He'll enjoy stringing the beads, and even though he doesn't have much concept of Church colors, we can match them each week when we go to Mass so he can begin to "follow along" in his own way.
So there's my liturgical craft for the night. You folks enjoy!
So I finally buckled down and took those two sewing classes I've been eyeing for the last several months. While I'm certainly no seamstress guru, I'm not terrified of sewing my fingers together anymore.
The first class I took was back in October. Me and another woman learned how to sew a pillowcase. I still have no clue what basting means, but I was able to figure out where things needed to be placed in order to look "right" when the seams were finally stitched. Good thing, too. Our teacher was so busy working the front desk that the other woman and I were left to our own devices. Ah well. At least she taught us how to thread the machine! I feel like that's half the battle right there!
Anyway, after the class I purchased extra fabric as "homework" for myself. I wanted to make a matching pillowcase at a later date just to refresh me on how the machine works.
Unfortunately, I ended up neglecting to touch my sewing machine until December when I took the 2nd class with my friend, Faith. Lucky for me I hadn't forgotten everything and was able to set my machine up out of the box again (woo hoo!).
For our second class, we were instructed to make pajama bottoms. These were a lot trickier than the basic pillowcase. These things had patterns and everything. Talk about intimidating! In order to cancel out the intimidation factor, I chose the most ridiculous pattern I could get my hands on.
I was glad to also have Faith there to keep things entertaining. Neither one of us really had a clue, so we sorta winged it as the teacher - again - flitted back and forth between us and the front desk.
It's okay, though. Considering how condescending she was to Faith, myself and the other two women taking the class, I was happy to have her attention focused elsewhere. We were able to manage well enough on our own, and she was there if our thread tangled, something wasn't working, or the directions didn't make sense.
But boy oh boy. It took us almost FOUR HOURS to make those gosh darn pants! All of you wonderful women out there who know how to sew - GOD BLESS YOU! I'm envious of your natural skill set.
I'm happy to report, however, that I did practice this weekend since it's been about a month since that December class. I was able to successfully make a matching pillowcase with the fabric I purchased in November. Even more exciting, I was able to fix one of my veils that had ripped last summer. But the best part? I figured out my machine. I had been taught to incorrectly thread the bottom bobbin and it took several messed up attempts to finally figure out the problem.
I had run into the same problem repeatedly at the sewing shop, but each time I was met with the same "solution." I knew it was wrong (because my machine kept angrily spitting out thread), but I couldn't figure out why it was wrong.
So I spent a good fifteen minutes taking apart the bottom workings of my machine and tinkering around until I realized my thread was getting caught because I was loading it improperly. Once I worked that out, it was smooth sailing. I was so proud of myself!
That's one item slowly being marked off my "things I'm going to learn someday" list. I've wanted to learn sewing for a long time now. It took me about 3 years, but I feel like I'm finally on my way towards learning a skill that I can really utilize for myself and my family. Torn toys, here I come!
I have been incredibly busy the last few days (as you could probably guess from my lack of posting).
Anyway, some good and blessed news!
First, I attended the beautiful wedding of two wonderful people up in NY on Saturday. The 5 hour road-trip was a ton of fun, and the end result of the ceremony and reception will be fond memories I'll always treasure.
The rest of the weekend I spent filling orders and creating new earrings (which I've now posted to the store... mostly).
Also, I was privileged to see one of my best buddies for his birthday as an unexpected bonus. How incredible is that???
And finally, please shoot a prayer of thanksgiving up to God for the miracle of my friend's bike accident.
And yes, I just said the miracle of my friend's bike accident.
While he was on his way to the wedding, he was thrown from his motorcycle at about 80mph. The angels must have been with him, because he ended up walking away with a dislocated shoulder and road burn.
80mph on a highway into a guardrail, and the boy not only survived, he was able to leave the hospital the very next day.
God is incredibly good to have protected him from what could have been fatal. Thank you, Lord, for keeping an eye on him. We like him around. :)
Here are some pictures!
I've finally updated the Craft Store a bit with new styles I'd been working on.
Special thanks to those of you who helped kick off my online selling venture. I appreciate it and John no longer things my "religious blog" is a complete waste of time anymore.
It's the little things... heh.
Anyway, I mailed out the last remaining orders that needed to be filled and am mostly stocked on everything. The Miraculous Medal dangles, however, are just about depleted (one pair left). I'm waiting on a backorder of the centerpieces.
I've had several of you write in to ask about the cat beads. I don't make them. I wouldn't know how to make a glass bead! Ha ha. But yes, they've very adorable and I'm willing to work with you on creating a fun reminder of your furry friends.
I'm also looking into possibly donating 10% of the "Kitty Collection" sales to a local rescue organization. I haven't figured out exactly how to do that yet, but as soon as I do, I'll let you all know!
I'm open to any suggestions and feedback you might have (even if it's unhappy!). I promise not to be personally offended if you want / need to return something for whatever reason. I'm new at this, too, so I'm willing to work with you until you're happy so long as you're willing to give me the chance to ensure those ends!
Thanks so much for your well-wishes and prayers everyone! Blessings!
1st three projects!
I've been trying really hard to expand my skill set recently. I've decided to get serious about trying my hand at sewing, and I finally buckled down and agreed to give jewelry making a go.
Tonight was my first attempt at jewelry making and it was so much fun!!! I went with two friends I don't get to see much of - Faith and Sam. Double happy!
Jewerly making, itself, was definitely a lot harder than I thought it'd be, but once you get the hang of it, you can't stop!
Anyway, our first "project" was simply a string of beads we had to wire together. It was to teach us how to use the various tools to make the loopy things that connect the beads together. A series of seven beads (5 large, 2 super tiny) took us about 20 minutes to complete, but once we did, we were ready for the earrings!
The earrings were a bit more complicated because of the center piece (something called a briolette?). Once we figured that out, though, the rest was cake. I made the purple earrings for my first attempt (since I'd been wanting purple earrings for about a year and hadn't found any I liked enough to buy). I'm pretty pleased with the way they turned out. On the way out, I picked up the two rose beads and the four "leaf" beads you see in the picture above.
After I put Vince to bed, I found an old pair of earrings and dismantled them in order to get two spare beads to recycle into the rose earrings that became my third attempt (the first without any help!). I'm so happy with how they turned out. In fact, I'm wearing them as I write this!
Anyway, it was so much fun learning a new skill. I absolutely cannot wait to go back and learn some more!!! And what a great excuse to get out with friends. I've missed that sort of camaraderie. What a blessed night!
Theresa and I
Today I got to help throw my friend, Theresa, her bridal shower. It was a blast!
I even wore pink for the occasion (she's a huge fan of pink).
Anyway, it was really nice getting to meet all the wonderful ladies who've been dropping me messages and phone calls these last couple months with their respective RSVPs. Putting a face to the lists of names I now seem to have memorized is nice. Ha!
Anyway, since this is one of the five separate parties I've been helping to coordinate, one of my friends asked me to list some of the things I ended up doing that weren't trashy or marriage / bride degrading.
May this help her and the rest of you looking for fun things to do for a shower!
Vistaprint. Seriously. For anything printed, I use Vistaprint. It's like the Salvation Army of print shops. I chose a postcard format with a butterfly backdrop (since she loves butterflies) and went to town.
I stayed super simple on this one. I created my own crossword puzzle using an excel spreadsheet (for the blocks) and Word for the clues. I used clues that were unique to Theresa and her fiance, but I tossed in some general "wedding" hints in there, too.
We also had a candy counter filled with Reeses Pieces (due to Theresa's sometimes nickname in high school - Reeses). Folks could guess how many pieces were in the dispenser and the closest number won the dispenser. We ended up giving it to a woman to take back to her 1st grade classroom. :)
Finally, little things like winning a prize if the bride opened your gift first, if you had a sticker on the back of your poem (part of the favors), or best "First Kiss" story (done at the individual tables) kept folks entertained as Theresa opened the line of presents.
I don't know if this'll help anyone, because these were really, REALLY specific to Theresa, but who knows?
Keeping the butterfly theme going, I found these incredible Murano glass butterfly keychains online. I tried to get them in pink (her favorite color), but they only made them in purple / blue. I got them anyway, because I knew she'd still really like them (especially since they matched the invitations).
From there, I knew I'd want to make her chocolate keys to go along with the keychain. I found the molds online (Amazon, I think) and purchased the meltable candy from AC Moore. I also got little pink heart candy to spruce up the key molds a bit.
Finally, to tie everything together, I wrote a poem entitled "The Key to Love."
Back in high school, I used to keep a book that would keep tabs on all the poetry I'd write. Theresa would sometimes keep track along with me, and after I hit the 200 mark, she said I'd have to write her wedding vows one day. I replied that I wouldn't write her vows, but I'd definitely write a poem for her. This was that poem, and it tied together the favors nicely.
This is what it all looked like:
Prizes - I admit I went a bit overboard on these, but I like variety!
I ordered a bunch of yummy smelling candles online. They were wonderful, a great price, and who doesn't love a yummy smelling candle? Theresa and her mom love those things, so I figured if we had any left over, they'd be more than happy to take them.
A couple nice accessory scarves found their way into the prize bags because I found them on sale while I was at AC Moore.
Two pretty (and sweet smelling) perfume spritzes were also found on sale, so they, too, found their way into the prize bags.
Oh, and the cake - Theresa's mother wanted to provide the cake, so when she asked me what should go on it, I said, "Just make sure it's pink and has butterflies."
This is what she came up with:
So that's about it. Lots of fun was had by all. Happy planning to all you ladies out there!
Oh! And the wording to the poem:
The key to love is simple
yet so very hard to find -
For some it's in a sonnet
or two roses intertwined.
For others it's a mystery
with an ever-lasing quest
to find "the One," a soul-mate
or the man most richly blessed.
There are those who search in vain
amongst novels, songs or plays
for this key that's ever hidden
in an ordinary haze.
The key is not some trophy
or a prize that's won and done.
It's a friendship that rekindles
with each rising of the sun.
So search out not a soul-mate
or a lover, god or spouse
Look not in romance novels
or in bankrolls, cars or house
The key is there before you
in a friendship strong and true
Love, sacrifice and compromise
The vows of "Yes, I do."
(She's a fan of rhyming quatrains... at least those were her favorites back in high school).
The shadowbox I made to tell John Vince was coming!
Nope, I'm not pregnant and it's doubtful I will be anytime in the foreseeable future. However, I came across a brilliant photo announcement today that absolutely made my day. Plus, several of my buddies just announced their news in thoroughly entertaining ways and made me think back to my own announcement regarding Vince!
Mom-to-be was holding her ultrasound photo against her belly while her husband stood next to her, holding a photo of a cheeseburger against his.
Ha ha - brilliant.
I had gotten pregnant with Vincent the very first time we tried. I almost didn't believe the results when a week after our first try, my chest was super tender and my period was late. I pretty much took the pregnancy test to prove to myself that I was insane, but don't ya know two little pink lines appeared!
I remember sitting there looking at the stick in disbelief saying, "No way! Oh my God, no way!" all while tears of joy welled up in anticipation for the child I've longed my whole life to hold.
Since that first line was barely visible, I thought for sure my mind was playing tricks on me. So after taking another dozen, I waited a week to try the digital tests. All this time I kept the secret to myself, incredulous and scared out of my mind that I might be wrong.
Anyway, after all the digital tests ('cause you can never be too sure) came back positive, I scheduled an appointment with my family doctor, just to make a million percent sure. I could barely contain myself at this point. As soon as he confirmed, I set my plan into motion.
John was going to be visiting his Nan that night. Thus, I had about three hours to purchase, create and set up everything.
Immediately after work, I went to AC Moore and purchased a shadowbox and materials. I painted the whole box white and gave it a green background. I'd already decided that we'd do a neutral color scheme, and light green and white seemed perfect for a boy or a girl. So since I had wanted the shadowbox to go into the nursery, I wanted it to match!
Anyway, I embellished it and created a special spot inside from one of my many, MANY pregnancy tests. I chose a "line" version as opposed to the digitals, because digital ones would die out. The lines, however - they remain!
After I finished putting everything together, I went upstairs to what would become the nursery to set up a video camera which would capture John's reaction. Just as I set everything up, I heard him enter the house. I can't even express to you how nervous I was! I can only assume this must be the feeling men have when they're about to ask their future bride to marry them. AH!
Of course, John made me wait forever and a day. He needed to use the bathroom, wanted to clip his toe nails, get a drink... I was going out of my mind! Finally, he came into the "spare room" and I held up the shadow box (that housed baby stuff and the positive pregnancy test), and asked, "Do you think this should go here... or here?"
He looked at it, completely dumbfounded for a minute, and said, "There."
I said, "Really? Here?"
He said, "Yes. Sure."
I responded, carefully, "John are you serious?"
And he replied, "Are you trying to tell me you're pregnant?"
I could've died. I honestly thought he was unhappy with the news, but it turns out he was just as incredulous as I was. As soon as it sunk in a few minutes later, he was going bonkers telling his friends.
We waited until this next day to tell our families. I wanted to do it in person, because I wanted to really see their reactions. By far, my favorite reactions were from Nicole (John's sister) and his father, John Sr.
I had wanted to tell Nicole first of all. I was dying at this point (having kept it a secret for about two weeks). Since she's crafty like me, I said, "Hey Nik, wanna see what I made last night?"
She said "Sure" and I handed her the shadow box. It took her all of two seconds to realize what she was holding and then looked up at me and John with astonishment. She was barely able to utter a "OMG, are you guys...?" before she started crying, hugging us and saying, "I'm so happy for you!!!"
Next, we had to wait for John Sr. Nicole was now JUST as anxious as we were to see his reaction. Considering how much he gives to all of us, it was exciting to finally be able to give him something back.
Anyway, the night before, I had made a "Valentine" for him. When he finally came in that morning, I had John hand him the card. On the outside, it looked like a real Valentine's card. Hearts, gorgeous red trimming, all that good stuff. I cut out and pasted the words "Will you be my..." in big letters on the front.
When he opened the card, he saw that instead of the word "Valentine" I'd pasted the word "Pop Pop" in big letters. I created a "baby border" of strollers, storks and baby faces, and pasted little pink and blue baby booties around the interior. At the bottom, I pasted a stork carrying a baby bundle. I wrote on this "Arriving September 2009."
It took him a split second to realize what it meant, and that look on his face will never escape my memory. He looked first at John with this... this utter amazement. He said, "Get outta town." Then his son smiled and said, "Yup!" John Sr. then immediately grabbed me in a hug, and Mike D (our office manager) must've realized what had just happened because he got up from behind his desk and said, "You guys pregnant? Congratulations!"
Ha ha - every time I think of that moment, I can't help but smile. I must look like a darn fool right now, but it was such a wonderful, wonderful moment!
Anywho, Vince's shadowbox now resides on the wall above his changing table. It serves as a shelf for his statues of Our Lady and a Guardian Angel. It's even got his little baptismal candle inside!
But yeah - I love, love, love "reveal" stories. They're always so great! So if you have one, please share!!! Give me something to smile about today! :)
I definitely made a diaper cake tonight. It's the one you see to your left.
My friend, Lien, is having her baby shower tomorrow, and I wanted to go ahead and do something extra special for her. This is what I came up with.
It consists of diapers (sizes 1 and 2), various things like a brush, washcloths, diaper cream, sunscreen, lotion, and teethers, a few plush animals (she's going for a safari theme), and a few bath toys. I even snuck a little wall-cross into the top tier!
All in all, I think it came out pretty well for my first go at these babies!
Plus, the cake itself will be part of the games. Guests will get a chance to guess how many diapers went into the cake for a prize!
The answer, BTW, is 86.
I had originally wanted this to be part of a cake tower (with the diaper base being used to hold up the cupcakes), but it dawned on me that the icing would end up ruining the diapers. So I nixed that, got a stand for the cupcakes, and embellished with ribbons and such.
Anyway, here's some more pictures! I hope it survives the hour commute to the shower. Ha ha!
I was lucky enough to have my CCD class on St. Valentine's Day! How exciting that I was able to share the history of St. Valentine!
I planned a special craft to get them into both the Lenten spirit and help them understand what Valentine's Day is really about.
I was sure to wear red and I asked the class why I was wearing red for St. Valentine's Day. They all answered "Love." Now, we had JUST finished discussing liturgical colors last week, so I asked them to pull out their notes and see if they couldn't figure out why I might choose to wear red on SAINT Valentine's Day.
One of their hands shot up and she answered, "It's the color of blood. Did he give his blood?"
Slowly but surely it began dawning on them. One of my boys proudly said, "He was killed!"
I confirmed his deduction and taught them the word "martyr." I explained that martyrs are a special group of saints who died because they loved Jesus so much. I explained that in St. Valentine's time, it was illegal to be a Christian. In some parts of the world, it's still illegal, even today! The kids were floored. One chimed in "That's stupid! What if you only say good stuff about Jesus?"
From the mouths of babes...
I said that in some parts of the world, it's illegal to even mention Jesus' name because people believe that even the name of Jesus offends their god. The people in charge don't want everyone believing in Jesus when they believe only their god is important.
It was like that back in St. Valentine's period as well, but instead of an invisible god, they believed that the emperor was god (or the son of god depending on which emperor we're discussing). I likened it to everyone in the United States thinking that President Obama was a god. They shook their heads in disbelief that anything so preposterous could ever have been true.
Ah, but so it was! And in some places, so it still is! May we keep these persecuted Christians in our prayers.
With that, I told them the story of St. Valentinus (now known as St. Valentine) and why we send "Valentines" to one another. Not one of them had ever heard the history behind this feast! Can you imagine?
Anyway, as a special craft, I had them create little "Valentines for Jesus." These were half Valentine - half Lenten preparation. On each foam "heart" (they were given 10 each), I requested that they draw a picture / write a prayer or good act they could do to offer to Jesus as a show of love. After all, we are all the "hands of Christ" and what we do unto others, we do unto Christ. My class really did an amazing job exemplifying this through the choice of their offerings:
Originally I had intended them all to glue the hearts into a wreath (as you see in the original picture), but their words / pictures extended too far in some instances, so I came up with the idea of a ladder. I had them poke holes into the tops and bottoms of their hearts and they laced them together that way for a cute chain:
All in all, they turned out really nicely, and I'm really glad the kids had so much fun coming up with ways they could show Jesus they loved Him. Now they've got ideas for Lent which was a great prep for next week's Ash Wednesday lesson! Woo hoo!
Seriously - I love teaching these kids. I'm so blessed!
Photo of my silk-bouquets!
Father Z had an interesting post today that got the cogs in my little brain churning today.
Someone had asked him about the tradition of giving the Blessed Mother a bouquet of flowers during a wedding ceremony / Mass.
He basically answered, "I have no idea how it started, but since it's not in the rubrics, it shouldn't be done during a Nuptial Mass."
I'm neither here nor there with his answer, especially since he opened the combox for others to chime in since he wasn't sure of these traditions. I'd say that's fair.
However, I'd have to say I disagree with his assessment that it "shouldn't be done" at the Mass. As many of the commentators posted, this could easily be something as simple as a bride wishing to pray before a saint after Communion. So what if instead of just prayer offerings, she's got a little fistful of flowers?
For my own wedding, this was my most cherished moment. Considering I had planned my whole wedding around the Blessed Mother (month of May, my colors were "Blessed Mother Blue" and I got married at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, etc, etc, etc), I wanted to be SURE to pay her this respect during the Ave Maria reflection after Communion.
I know - 110% KNOW - she interceded for John and I. I know it. She's still doing it. So when I got down on my knees before her with my bouquet of flowers (the only real ones I used the entire day as my sister is allergic to them), I sobbed like a little baby in gratitude. It was the only time I cried that whole day. I was so elated, so thankful, so touched by her maternal love that I couldn't contain myself and needed SOME way to express my gratitude. My flowers, prayers, and tears were all I had to offer. I also entrusted my marriage to her then, too.
So there is, in my opinion, a beauty to that gesture. I can't speak for other brides, but that moment wasn't about me - it was about Our Lady and the knowledge that she interceded for our marriage at the Throne of God before we had even met. I really do believe that.
***BTW, I'd love to claim that I created those gorgeous bouquets, but I did not. My best friend, Mary, and her mother spent hours hand-crafting those beauties. They're silk flowers, believe it or not, because my one sister is allergic to the real thing! So they created 7 smaller bouquets, my larger, cascading one, 10+ boutineers, several corsages, and probably several pew arrangements, too!***
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