Monthly Archives: December 2012

A home-made Christmas

A home-made Christmas

“Christmas time is here….” that’s the theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas, I can hear it playing inside my head.  There’s something cozy and comforting about watching Charlie Brown and Snoopy’s Christmas cartoon (that’s older than I am! haha!) while snow falls outside.  The kids love watching it to.  Is it because it makes us think back to simpler times?  Remember the sad little tree that Charlie Brown finds, and the kids give it a bit of love and spruce it up?

I really don’t know why I’m mentioning that cartoon, it just popped into my mind, and seemed to fit (in my mind anyway) with the home-made Christmas idea.  This year I was trying to make a bunch of home-made stuff for Christmas, instead of buying new things.  I keep finding amazing ideas online that I wanted to try, but have run right out of time!!  So I thought I’d post some photos of the things that I did get done because I know it will make me feel better to see the loveliness on my blog, instead of surrounded by the boxes and mess and clutter that are here in my house!!  (No I am not going to post a photo of the mess that surrounds the decorating…that would ruin all the loveliness, even though it would show my real life!)

Our Christmas tree is a “throw and go!” tree, as my son called it: throw the ornaments on and then go away!  I let the kids do most of the decorating with only one box of ornaments….I don’t know why.  I guess I was too exhausted to pull anything else out, and they were happy to do a “candy cane tree”.  (Ok, I did buy something new, those wood & fabric words for a buck each!).  This is the first time we’ve ever had a color-coordinated tree.  So that was nice for a change! ;)denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made ChristmasHere are some ideas I found online to print out…denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: sugar plum snowflake ballerinasAdvent things, denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmasdenna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown books denna's ideas: our Jesse tree for Advent 2012Cookie things (for teacher gifts and just for us to eat on a cold winter’s evening), trying out some new recipes….denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made ChristmasOrnament things,  denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmasdenna's ideas: a home-made Christmas paper tree denna's ideas: a home-made ChristmasGift things…..I just had to snap some photos of the presents my daughter wrapped, they are so cute!!  She wrote out all the tags with our names on in English and in Japanese characters!denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made ChristmasAnd a few anniversary things, denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas, gingerbread bride and groomdenna's ideas: a home-made ChristmasOur six year old photographer took this 19th anniversary portrait of us, we had just kissed at 19 hours and 19 minutes on the 19th of December for our 19th anniversary!  Now that’s home-made stuff!!

So that’s a few glimpses of our kinda home-made Christmas decorating and traditions and stuff….really, our life is not as together-looking as it seems in this blog…..I just have to mention that so that I don’t feel like I’m lying too much with all the perfect-looking photos.  I have perfection ideals in my head, but just can’t make them work out….so I take photos of the stuff that turns out…and once-in-a-while of the things that don’t turn out!  🙂

Merry Christmas to you!!!

Sugar Plum Snowflake Ballerina Fairies

Sugar Plum Snowflake Ballerina Fairies

That’s what I’m calling them!  “While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads…” mixed with snowflake ballerinas and the nutcracker’s Sugar Plum fairy…make a lovely Chrismas decoration.  I found them on pinterest, of course, and just had to try them out!!  Here’s the blog called Krokotak where I found them and printed out the patterns from, though the original idea came from here, though it’s not in English.

They are fairly easy to make, if you like cutting up paper!  Cut out a ballerina silhouette from cardstock (or 2 pieces of paper glued together).  Make a snowflake from paper.  Cut a slit in the middle of the snowflake and gently pull it onto the ballerina, to make her “tutu”.  Hang them up and watch them pirouette!!

I know, my sugar plum snowflake ballerina fairies are hanging by large clothespins gripping their heads….it wasn’t meant to be, but I was in a rush, and the clothespins hanging on twine have been there since Henry’s bday ( I had photos hanging from them).  So the season changed and now it’s Christmas ornaments and Sugar plum fairies!

The only different thing I did from the original version was to cut out one silhouette from paper printed with that Christmas Mouse story I did the other day…I thought text on a ballerina would add visual interest…and it does.  (no, they are not tatooed fairies!!)  I love watching them “dance” in every little breeze (from the hot air registers) that comes their way!denna's ideas: sugar plum snowflake ballerinas denna's ideas: sugar plum snowflake ballerinas denna's ideas: sugar plum snowflake ballerinas denna's ideas: sugar plum snowflake ballerinasAfter Christmas (if I ever get the Christmas stuff taken down and packed away) they will make cute hanging ornaments for the girls’ room until winter’s over….still lots of time left!!!

Nicholas and the Christmas Mice

Nicholas and the Christmas Mice

Here is the story I wrote of Nicholas and the Christmas Mice, to go along with a new tradition of Christmas Mice Mischief.

Listen, my children and you will hear an interesting (if not completely accurate) tale from the long ago…

Once upon a time, far far away in a little village called Patara, there lived a man named Nicholas.  He lived alone, for his parents had passed away from a terrible sickness when he was younger.  They had left him a home and plenty of wealth for him to have an easy life.  Nicholas decided that he wanted to obey Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” so he used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God.  Wherever he went he helped out both people and creatures.

He couldn’t bear to see anyone in pain without helping out.  Even the smallest little animals were helped.  One time he saved a mouse from a mangy cat who was playing with the little mouse like a ball of yarn.  Another day he pulled a small mouse out of a washtub where the little thing was drowning in the soap suds.  Once a trap had captured a young mouseling by the hind leg and Nicholas set it free.  And one cold winter night a starving mouse crept in to warm himself by Nicholas’ fire and scavenge for crumbs and he didn’t have the heart to sweep it back out into the cold, so he let it stay.

Needless to say, these little creatures were forever grateful to Nicholas for saving them from certain death.  They refused to leave him and settled into his home, determined to help him and cheer him up and be his family.

The little mice quickly caught on that Nicholas had some secrets!  He had been helping out the people in his community.  Using his inheritance, he tried to do good wherever he could, but didn’t want to let anyone know that it came from his hand.  The little mice would watch as he put on his cloak with a furry hood and quietly leave the house in the dark and damp of the night, not even lighting a candle to see by.

At his return, right before the sunrise, the little mice would blink open their eyes at the squeak of the door, and peek out from their cozy beds.  At first they wondered what Nicholas was up to in the dead of night.

Then one day he let them in on his secret doings, for he needed their help.  He explained in a modest way how he was trying to help his neighbors, and how he didn’t want anyone to find out who the secret helper was.  Down the road aways was the small cabin of a poor fisherman and his three daughters.  They were so poor that the fisherman feared that no one would want to marry his daughters and that they would become sad old maids.

Nicholas wanted to share some of his gold coins with the fisherman so that his three daughters could have lovely weddings to fine young men.  The problem was that Nicholas couldn’t figure out a way of getting the gold coins into the fisherman’s hut at night, because the little home was always guarded by an old but fierce and loyal dog who wouldn’t let anyone near his master’s home.

The little mice pleaded to be allowed to help.  “It will be a dangerous mission, but worthy of your courage and generosity, my dear little mice,” said Nicholas.  His jolly face beamed down at the four of them, pleased to have company on this lonely midnight adventure.

The small group of mice climbed onto Nicholas’ shoulder and nestled close in his furry cloak as they set off into the dark night.  Nicholas had the gold coins in a small sack which he held tightly, but every now and then the mice could hear a faint jingle as the coins clinked together, as there were several of them in the sack. Before long, they were nearing the fisherman’s cabin and Nicholas slowed his pace.

“I will go to the other side of the house,” whispered Nicholas, “in order to distract the watch dog.  When you hear him barking at me, you must quickly make a dash for that window which is slightly open and somehow get the coins inside.  Can you do it my little friends?”  The little mice squeaked with agreement and excitement!  There was nothing they loved better than an adventure!

Nicholas carefully set them down on a tree stump and handed them the gold coins, then turned to the corner of the cabin.  The old watch dog sprang to life and started in chase of the shadowy figure.  Their hearts beating like little drums in a parade, the mice ran, clutching the coins in their tiny paws.  Up the side of the rough wooden house and onto the windowsill they climbed in a flash!  There was just enough room to squeeze through the crack where the shutters stood slightly open.  They could hear the barking of the dog getting louder and knew that it would be only moments until the fisherman woke and saw the midnight visitors.

Hardly daring to breathe, much less squeak, the mice glanced around for the safest spot in which to place the coins.  Not far from the windowsill was a small fireplace and by the glowing of the last embers, they could see that by the hearth there was a sewing basket, a pile of aprons and some long fuzzy stockings hanging from some pegs in the wall so they could dry out by the  heat of the now sleepy fire.  The sewing basket, they winked at each other!  Quickly creeping to the edge of the window ledge, each little mouse hefted a gold coin and aimed for the safe-looking sewing basket.  Most of them had good aim, and 3 gold coins plopped into the sewing basket, but the fourth went spinning off the side and plunked down into the ladies’ stocking and slithered down into the toe!

No time to waste!  The fisherman gave a groan and was dragging himself from his bed as the four little mice whisked back through the open window.  Just in time too, for Nicholas appeared at that moment and held out his hand hurriedly to the mice.  They jumped and clutched his hand as he ran off, away from the grouchy dog.

Safe and sound back home, Nicholas could tell from the bright eyes and happy grins of the mice that their mission had been accomplished!  He chuckled at their excitement and suggested that everyone go to sleep before the sun rose, but the little mice were already busy planning their next midnight adventure!!

And so that helper of children, grown-ups, sailors and animals, himself had help!  He took care of the little band of mice, and they in turn helped him.  His busy days and nights were livened by the antics of the friendly little mice.  When they weren’t helping him on his missions, they were bound to be up to some mischief in his house!!  There was no keeping them still!

Their favorite time of year was near Christmas, when Nicholas would set up a small nativity scene and read to them the story of that very First Christmas.  The little mice would snuggle up to hear the story and gaze with wonder on the manger.  Then soon they would be off on another “helpful adventure,” doing their part to spread cheer and love and kindness.  Through the years, the little band of mice grew and had their own little families, but they were always faithful to the ideals of their human friend and taught their mouselings the joy of giving and helping.  If you ever spot a helpful little mouse in your house, forgive the mischief it might cause and remember that we can all be helpful and bring joy, no matter how large or small we might be!denna's ideas: a new tradition, the Christmas Mouse in the House!