Red, White, and Blue Friday

Have you heard of Patriot Voices? The concept is simple…

Alone, we may think our voice is unheard; together our voices are much louder.

This shopping season we would like to turn Black Friday into Red, White, & Blue Friday. How do we do this? Agree to actively seek out gifts that are made in America and purchase as many as possible. Let’s send a message that we believe in our country; we believe in our small businesses. Let’s keep our money in America! Come take the pledge here!

I will try to update this post with a few small businesses where you can find some great items made right here in the good Ole US of A! Please feel free to add your favorites too (No affiliate links, please. Also I will be checking them out before posting.)

Let me know in the comments if you took the pledge – I did and I hope you will too!

Contentment

As this holiday season comes to a close with Epiphany, I find myself reflecting on how this last month or two went. As I think, I realize that this has been one of the best Christmases ever.

  • It wasn’t because I got the best gifts.
  • It wasn’t because we hosted the best parties.
  • It wasn’t even because we attended the best parties.
  • It wasn’t because we had the best clothes.
  • It wasn’t because all the food turned out great.

I am realizing that for the first time, I really put Christ in CHRISTmas.Here’s how:

  • We participated in Holy Heroes Advent Adventure;
  • We took my daughter’s doll cradle and some shredded paper (added for acts of kindness and sacrifice) and made a bed for Baby Jesus;
  • We wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a Manger;
  • We followed the genealogy of Jesus with a homemade Jesse Tree:
  • We celebrated the lives and Feast Days of some Saints who loved Jesus long before we were alive – we discovered we can learn a lot from their faith and example!
  • We made many of our gifts, removing ourselves from the malls (we did go to a couple of stores, but were determined not to participate in the madness);
  • We made Christmas Eve Mass a priority – it was something special – we arrived early and didn’t rush out. We lingered. We studied the beautiful Creche. Then we went home and read The Night Before Christmas, but the last thing we did as a family was to read the Nativity story from the Gospel of Luke.

It was such a beautiful time this year. There was no stress. There were no worries about the ‘perfect’ gift. There was just family and love. From the First and Holy family, to our immediate and extended family.

I am convinced now that this is a lot closer to the way things are supposed to be. It’s amazing that the more I let go of the way the world thinks I should do something, the more I feel at peace. How about you? How did you make your Christmas season centered more around Christ? Happy Feast of Epiphany!

Handmade Holidays

Well, now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays is complete, we can sit back and just relax while we enjoy the remainder of the Christmas season! I am so glad that this season does not just end at 11:59 pm on December 25th.

So while I’m relaxing I thought I’d share some of the handmade gifts my children and I made for our recipients. I joined pinterest earlier this year and began saving ideas of gifts to make and recipes to try for Christmas. Feel free to check out my boards.

The first project Diva and I made included a few varieties of Sugar Scrubs. These are really expensive in the stores, but are oh so easy (and much less expensive) to make at home. Here’s the links to what we tried: Sugar Scrubs, Coffee Scrub, and Foot Soak.

And here’s what we made…

The kitchen smelled so wonderfully when we were done, even though we used a variety of scents. I won’t go into details on the recipes for each of these as you can go directly to each tutorial from its link on pinterest. But I will tell you how we personalized them. After mixing each batch, we put each scrub or soak into a clean canning jar and tied a pretty ribbon around the lid. I cut tags using Papertrey Ink’s Tag Sale #1 Die and wrote some basic instructions on each one. For the labels, I used Papertrey Ink’s Limitless Layers 1 3/4″ Circle Collection (Letter E), wrote the scent on it and ran it through the Xyron Sticker Maker and attached it to the lid. We then added the completed jars to a basket for an at-home spa gift.

We gave this to my cousin who is pregnant with her second child. Her daughter, who was about to turn two a couple of days later, absolutely loved the coffee scrub! She loved its aroma so much that she refused to put it down and open any other presents!

Next Diva wanted to make some gifts of her own for her Godparents. She collaborated with LegoFan to make a set for their Grandmother as well. What did they make? Well, they made their own versions of these Post-it Note Holders and Decorated Clipboards. We forgot to take pictures of the ones for Diva’s Godmother, but here are the ones for her Godfather and their Grandmother…

I think it’s obvious which set is for the Grandmother and which is for the Godmother! It doesn’t show up really well, but we used glitter mod podge on the blue clipboard. On each piece we die cut a label using Papertrey Ink’s Angled Labels Die Collection (scroll about half-way down the page) and attached it with more mod podge.

This last gift I’m going to mention here is my absolute favorite. I made this for my brother and my sister-in-love who have been married for a little over a year. Anyone who has been reading my blog for the past year knows that my marriage has been a rocky one at best. We have had some major issues over the last 11 years because we didn’t make our marriage a priority. We are actively working on changing that – a New Year’s Resolution of sorts.

I recently came across a blog called Dating Divas, which has a wealth of ideas on how to keep the romance alive in your marriage. One post was how one of their readers took their date ideas and turned them into a gift. They provided some printables that made putting this together really easy. The only real work I had to do was decide on the dates and format the instructions. Once that was done, I printed them out and placed everything into a couple of pocket folders. The idea is that each spouse plans a date on the alternating months, so that they get 12 dates during the year. They are not supposed to share the date ideas with each other so that each month is a surprise. They are also not designed to break the bank. They are simple, fun, creative ways to continue to grow in love as a couple. I really hope that they have fun with this gift – it was my favorite gift to make! There are a few other couples in my circle that may see one of these gifts in the future – it’s a simple, homemade gift that has the capacity to last a lifetime!

Well, that covers most of our handmade gifts this year. If you give any of them a try, please let me know how they turn out.

On this New Year’s Eve 2011, I pray that you and your family will celebrate safely and that we will all welcome in a wonderful New Year. May God continue to Bless you all this coming year.

This post is linked up to Pinning it Down at Amongst Lovely Things.

* None of these links are affiliate links.