Posts Tagged ‘Handmade Holidays’

I must admit that my little alphabet list was blank when I came to H until I took the photos of the hand-painted ornaments that my Great Aunt made. Over the years, my brother and I have to receive the most beautiful hand-painted and handmade gifts from her. When my mom and I were up in Wisconsin visiting my brother we all had a great time going through all the decoration boxes as we decorated his tree. There were so many wonderful decoration filled with memories. We talked about the memories as we each pulled out another ornament. It was a lot of fun.

Hand-painted ornaments

Hand-painted ornaments

At the same time, we cleared out some things that none of use wanted anymore; old decorations that were broken and un-fixable. There was a plastic garland that had small fruit on it that mom used to attach to the railing going down the stair with velvet bows – that had to go, it was all sticky and just couldn’t be saved. 041I have some of my Aunt’s things on my tree, but it was so much fun seeing the ornaments that were going on my brothers tree. The photos I took aren’t the greatest, but they will remind me of those ornaments when I look at them.

As we talked and looked and decorated we realized that there are five generations of ornaments on my brothers tree. My Great-Grandmother, 2-Grandmothers, my mom, me/my brother, and his two girls. There is a lot of history there and a lot of great memories.

H is a lot of things; Happiness, handmade, hand-painted, holiday, history, and more

Do you have some treasured ornaments that are filled with memories?

Sincerely, Emily

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Things that start with H…


Since we are in the midst of the holiday season, H is rather fitting. So, H is for hand-painted and handmade ornaments that my (Sincerely, Emily) Great Aunt made years ago.

Hand-painted ornament (I know, it is a terrible photo!)

Hand-painted ornament (I know, it is a terrible photo!)


Do any H words spring to mind for you right now?


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I started thinking about Halloween cards earlier this month, then a little tug in my memory somewhere made me think that I had already made them.

Off I went up the stairs in search (gotta do it while I am thinking about it or that thought is gone lately!)Oct 2013 2

Low and behold, there they were. Done! Good job Em!

After looking for a photo to use in the this post, I see that I made these cards back in February! I love it when I think ahead.

When I was making these cards, I remember running short on designer paper so I made up another version. Just added another layer of cardstock (black).Oct 2013 3

Here are some other Halloween cards that I have made:

You can also see some other holiday cards that I have been working on.

Will you be making some card this holiday season?

Sincerely, Emily

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Grams yarn hangersI am taking a chance and posting this before Christmas, hoping that my nieces are not reading! This is all about Gram’s hangers. Now, I know my Gram wasn’t the only person out there making these, but she was the only person out there making them for me when I was younger… hence, Gram’s hangars.

When I got a bit older (I’m guessing 10 or 12 years old), she taught me how to make them. I searched all of our closets looking for one of Grams hanger. Do you think I found one? NO!  I just wanted to look at it and work out how I was going to make them. Do you think I remembered how to do them?  Yes, and no! I worked it out rather quickly, but I knew mine are a bit different. In fact, when I took the hangars I finished to MN this past fall to wrap them up and stash them away for my nieces, my mom came in to see what I was doing and then started pulling hanger after hanger out of her closest. All Gram’s hangars! She has all of them! I couldn’t help but laugh.

Started at the base of the hookWhat I love about using these hangars is that my clothes don’t slip off the hangar (and I made them by recycling old wire hangars and gave them a new purpose in life)

You start with two metal dry cleaner hangers that are of equal shape and size.  Tape them together in a few spots so you are fighting to keep the hangars together as you are working your yarn around them. You need two balls of yarn. They can be the same color or different colors, that is completely up to you, but the yarn does need to be in balls (not skeins). I could not remember how much yarn it took to make a hanger, so I bought two skeins of blue (for one niece) and two skeins of pink( for the other niece) and started wrapping them into balls. Make your yarn balls a manageable size so you can handle it easily enough and not be fighting with it to get it through the triangle form of the hanger at each pass. I made two hangers for each niece and have TONS of yarn left over. I could probably make them two more hangers each year for several years and still not run out (and hope they still like the colors I have!)

Make a loop

Make a loop

I started at the bottom of the neck where the hanger branches out and the worked my way around the hanger ending up back at the neck and then worked my way up to the top of the hook and back down to the neck. I know working my yarn over the hook and back gave it a bit of extra bulk, but I didn’t want to end at the top of the hook and have loos ends and knots up there where it gets most of its wear as it is put on your clothes rod and taken off over and over.

pass you yarn over the hanger and through the loop

pass you yarn over the hanger and through the loop

Tie both balls of yarn onto the bottom of the neck of the hangers leaving about a 6″ tail to work with later.  You want to keep one ball of yarn on one side of you and the other ball of yarn on the other side of you. I hold the hangar between my legs so that my hands are free to work with the yarn balls. I will mention that the chair that I sit on in our living room is an old swan neck rocker. It has open arm rests which isn’t the best situation because there isn’t much room on either side of my body to rest the yarn balls without them falling through the arms rest, off the chair, and unrolling out on the floor.

Pull tight

Pull tight

To make a “stitch” make a loop with your yarn and then pass your ball of yarn over the hangar and through the loop. Now pull it tight. The tighter you pull the more loops you will need to make to cover your hangar. The loosen your “stitches” the lass yarn. I made mine rather tight. From time to time you can also push your “stitches” so they are tighter together also. There are no rules here, do what ever you are comfortable with.

You can do one “stitch” with each color yarn or more. I did one hangar with single “stitches” and the other with two “stitches” with each ball of yarn before working the other side.

used single stitches on left and double stitches on right

used single stitches on left and double stitches on right

I finished by knotting my ends together and leaving about a 6″ tail on each end. I added pom poms that I made out of the same yarn and used the tail ends to attach them to the hangers.

Crossing my fingers that my nieces will love them.

Have you ever made yarn hangers?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Short days, wet patio, warm blankets and hot mulled cider: it’s Fall, y’all which means TIME TO KNIT!

I’ve got two new knitting books checked out from the library for inspiration and am trying my hardest to finish this last pair of socks so that i can dig into Christmas projects and some warm clothes for personal use. On my list to make this season: mug coozies, leg warmers, fingerless mitts, mittens and a bunch of baby things like socks, bonnets and toys. I love knitting stuff for others, and love it even more when i get all those gift projects finished and can work on stuff for me! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

After all, knitting for yourself is the best way to learn. If you keep giving away all your finished knits, you have no idea how they wear: comfie, itchy, good, bad, long lasting, etc. My last project was an experiment that failed, and i’m okay with that. Plus, now i have yarn available for another project after i rip out this non-cowl.

What sort of projects are you looking forward to working on this fall? Do you knit, quilt or sew? Do you like making things for yourself or others more?

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We talked a lot about celebrating handmade/homemade holidays during December and many of us showed gifts we made for others. Today I’d like to share some handmade gifts I received from my nieces & nephews (ages 3-10).

Each of the oldest nieces & nephew decorated a terracotta pot for me. Most likely my sister found these pots at a garage sale and kids painted them for me. They will certainly look fabulous this summer on my back porch filled with a few succulents.  I might seal them with some sealer to make sure the paint doesn’t come off or wear away.

They also made me a batch of paint swirl ornaments. My sister said even the three year old picked out which colors of paint she wanted in the ornaments my sister helped her make.

One of my nieces is very crafty and creative (a lot like I was as a girl). She made me this scarf from fuzzy yarn at one of her homeschool co-op classes, it was a gift made just by her for me (modeled by Dexter). It’s nice to see that we’re passing on the love of spending time rather than money on gifts for the holidays. No doubt they had a blast making these gifts!

Did you receive any homemade/handmade gifts this year from friends & family?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, maple sugaring, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Your Day Magazine, and you can follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

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With all my traveling, sewing, soap making and present wrapping, i missed out on participating in much handmade holiday conversation here at Not Dabbling, so my post this week will be a run down of all the projects i worked on this year.

Check out An Austin Homestead in the next week or two to see all my projects revealed. You can also find all my original handmade holiday posts in the archives on the left sidebar.

I got started with my holiday gifts early this year, beginning in September with some canned blackberry jam made from berries i picked just down the road, blended with dried cayennes saved from my Austin garden.

While i harvested gobs of berries and sold veggies to folks at the local farmer’s market, i was inspired to make my own produce bags for use at market and at home. I played around with my crochet hooks and came up with a sweet and easy pattern. I made at least 6 of these to give to several family members as Christmas gifts. *And i’ll be posting a tutorial on how to make your own market bag soon- so stay in touch and crochet with me!

My spinning wheel was a big contributor to my gifts this year. Not only did i give some beautiful skeins of “meriboo” (merino/bamboo) yarn to my mother in law, i also spun the yarn for several knitting projects for other loved ones. One mother has a new scarf, one father has a new hat, and each sister has a headband or hat. I am especially proud of two hats i knitted for my two best friends. One is in Texas, the other in New York and thus one has ‘not so warm’ hat, and the other an extra warm hat made of handspun quivit fiber (musk ox). I don’t yet know how to follow a knitting pattern, so all my projects come out rather “uniquely” which makes them even more special: they’re the only ones like them!

Giving my handmade gifts filled me with so much pride this year. I think my recipients loved their gifts, and i could tell they were all touched by my truly ‘hands on’ experience with each of their presents. Whether spun then knit, or picked then canned: all my gifts started with me from scratch to become treasured and useful possessions that will hopefully remind my recipients of me whenever they taste, wear or use them. To sit down to spin yarn for a project for someone you love to enjoy for years to come: THAT is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. For me, at least.

In these dark days after Christmas (and other gift giving holidays) and before the new year, what thoughts and gifts are you pondering – both given and received? What present (given or received) stands out in your memory as the most treasured this year?

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Sometimes we think that putting up food is all about canning, drying, and freezing. But there are items that compliment our foodstuffs that we can also put up for the lean times of the year. Items like extracts, wines, and vinegars are a few things that many people don’t realize they can make at home and easily!

Now that baking season is upon us, I’m taking advantage of vanilla beans being on sale and making some of my own vanilla extract. This is such a simple process – the hardest part is waiting for it to be finished!

First off, since I’m a little frugal I buy inexpensive vodka and run it through my water filter pitcher to get all of the impurities out of it. The result is a smoother flavor that won’t put as much hair on your chest, or empty your pocketbook like the more expensive brands. Just make sure you run a small amount of your alcohol through the purifier to clear out any lingering water so your vodka doesn’t get watered down. On the same note, run several cups of water through your purifier after you’ve filtered alcohol or that glass of water you drink later may just get you drunk.

The good recipes call for 6 whole vanilla beans, split and scraped per one cup of 75-80 proof vodka. Don’t skimp out on the beans – you need the potency of the vanilla and the alcohol to meet the standards of an extract, unless you’d rather be making your desserts with vanilla flavored vodka. (Here’s a good resource for the types of beans available and their best uses.) Put the whole bean in the liquid, including the seeds, and let it steep for at least 4 weeks; store it in a dark spot and give it a good shake every now and then. As you empty the bottles into something more decorative or practical, reserve the seeds and beans and top of your jar with fresh liquor, then re-steep for several weeks. Now that weaker stuff you made last year may taste good in a winter-themed martini….

As crazy as it sounds, one can get tired of vanilla flavored goodies. This summer I had a great harvest of mints.  Instead of making dried teas, I’m making some homemade mint extract using a similar technique. I took a large bunch of mints, washed and dried them, then gently bruised them with my fingers to release some of the oils. I then topped the mints with my purified vodka. Don’t pack the jar with mint, you want some room for circulation. Let steep for 3-4 weeks, then strain the leaves and any sediment. The result will be a brownish tincture. If the color puts you off, you may consider adding some vegetable-based food coloring.

Now, if you want something that doesn’t have a brown tinge to it, you’ll want to follow a more scientific process of extracting the oils from the herbs. Here is the best site I’ve seen yet that explains this process. But if you’re really in a hurry and need your flavoring, like now… then try this method. Yeah, I get a little geeky sometimes. Up next for me, by the way, is homemade bitters and meyer lemon extract!!

Here’s hoping I’ve helped some of you out there to think beyond the cans and dried goods! After all this chatting I know I’m craving a nice vanilla libation.

Jennifer can also be found at Unearthing this Life where’s she’s soon to blarg about all the snow she’ll experience in Michigan.

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Recently one of our autumn projects was to make these nifty painted leaves. I found this awesome tutorial via Pinterest, created by Little Wonder Days. We had all of the items available in and around our house and it was completely doable for a 7 year old with minimal guidance, and easy enough for preschool age. Of course we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. But as we were looking at our pile of shaving cream leaves, a bulb went off in my head.

shaving cream painting

Candy canes and Christmas tree ornaments!!

These are some of the cutest and easiest decorations I’ve made. It seriously took us less than an hour to cut out and “paint” these little guys.


candy canesWe used red and pearl acrylic paints and pink cardstock for the canes. The ornaments were made with off-white cardstock, two different blues and pearl acrylic paints. Use whatever colors and designs you can dream up!

Start with shaving cream. Smooth out a pile of shaving cream, drizzle some of the paint on top, then swirl it around with a toothpick (reminded me of those brownies I used to make…).

Lay your cut-out flat on top of the paint, and press lightly. Allow to rest for a few seconds, then remove. Do about 4-5 at a time so the paint has some time to adhere to your paper. Then, take an old spatula (that you’ll no longer use for cooking) or a palette knife and gently squeegee the extra paint off.

When you drag the paint across with the squeegee, you’ll affect the pattern, so be mindful of the direction you choose to pull your paint.

Allow to dry and choose what to decorate! I even doodled some hardware with silver metallic Sharpies on the ball ornaments.

The Kid and I will probably be making hundreds of these and some tree over the next two months as Christmas gift tags.



Jennifer can be found at Unearthing this Life where she blargs about food, homeschooling, and life away from her farmette.

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With Not Dabbling bursting at the seams with new writers, we’re also bursting at the seams with lots of great ways to “get real” during the upcoming holiday season. Every tradition–Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Wicca; theist and secular, worshipping God or the goddess or the gods–celebrates the year gone by as the days get short.

We’ll be sharing our homemade treats, meals, rituals and celebrations and hope that you’ll celebrate the central point of all these traditions–honoring family and the earth.

I, Xan, am spending the next several weeks making, and making up pies. I’ll be talking about it here, and putting the recipes on Mahlzeit and Sconeday. As you may or may not know, I’m not much of a baker, but I love my sweets. Since I’m really trying hard not to consume processed foods or things that come in boxes, I decided I had to learn. So on to the pie baking!



Over the last few years, I (Jennifer) have moved more toward handmade gifts for the holidays. I suppose it comes from all those years growing up with homemade candies and cookies for our treats. I remember not going out to buy ornaments for our tree decorations, but making them with my mother and grandmother.

For me, homemade and handmade gift-giving also stems from wanting to give people something that they may treasure for years, rather than a gift that they could’ve or would’ve bought for themselves. I love seeing the birdhouse that I decoupaged for my grandmother still on her bedside table – 15 years later.

Since my daughter’s first Christmas, I’ve enjoyed making crafts and ornaments with her. This will be our third year with a “Craft-a-Day” during Christmas! We’ve already started our handmade holidays with a craft or two, and I’m looking forward to more!


Here at Chiot’s Run we’ve been celebrating handmade holidays for quite a while. I think often people are a bit scared to jump in to handmade, especially if they’re not crafty. Homemade/handmade holidays aren’t about making something elaborate, they’re about taking the time to make something that you’re good at to share with those that you love.  They’re also about taking time with your family and friends to make gift.   Homemade/handmade gifts sometimes can be the simplest of things, for example: last year I made one gingerbread cookie per day for one of my friends show LOVES my gingerbread cookies.  This was also a perfect gift for her because she doesn’t like have unwanted clutter in her home, there wasn’t a crumb of this gift still around after February, I can guarantee it.

You can even just gift extra jams/jellies from your panty. I have found these to be quite popular among friends & family. If you’re good at baking bread, a delicious loaf of homemade bread to accompany the jam would be well received by just about anyone!

Handmade/homemade is also a great way to get your kids involved and to encourage them to move away from consumerism. Last year I spent some time with my nieces and nephew making suet cakes for friends and family. They had a blast making them and were incredibly proud to hand out their handmade gift to everyone at Christmas. They enjoyed the pleasure of making/giving so much they were asking me a few weeks ago if we were going to do it again this year. (here’s my recipe for homemade suet cakes)

There really is no limit to what you can make at home. Last year I even made some homemade cat toys from scraps of felted wool sweaters for those people I know who love cats. They were stuffed with some catmint from the garden.  The cats loved them so much I almost didn’t have any left to give away because they stole them all.


Out here in the damp Northwest, I’ve been busy spinning on my wheel in the kitchen or cozying up on the couch under a pile of handspun yarn, working on scarves and hats for the special people in my life. I’m a beginning knitter, and these homemade gifts are sure to be a little rough around the edges, but i think that will make them even more well loved. For the knitters in my life, i’m spinning them skeins of yarn with the colors and fibers chosen specifically for them.

Handspun, single ply yarn wrapped on a Niddy Noddy

Although i don’t have a garden to harvest from this year, my husband and i took advantage of wild harvests during the late Summer. Oregon is full of blackberries for the taking, and take we did! I put up a few half pints of blackberry/cayenne jam that we’ll be sending back to Texas with our Christmas package so that the family we left behind can enjoy some of the seasonal bounty found in our new home. It’s apple season here now, and i’ve been slicing, coring, peeling and boiling until my hands cramp into achey claws. Apple crisps, pies, breads and rings are sure to play some role in my holiday plans and gift giving. We’ll even get to toast the new year with some homemade hard cider!

Home pressed, unpasteurized apple cider, fermenting to become hard cider and apple cider vinegar

This year marks the first holiday season spent in the same state as my family in about 5 years, and i’m absolutely thrilled to enjoy our silly traditions with them once again. (I’m also pretty happy about only having to ship one Christmas parcel this year!) We have some pretty great traditions that always make the season seem to last forever. One of my favorite traditions that was started by my mother’s parents and has been passed on to every new family member i have acquired, from step-sisters to in-laws. Instead of the basic “To/From” tags on our Christmas gifts, we also include clues that make the package mysterious and even more exciting. These clues are often riddles or rhymes, not meant to be a hint or description of the gift, but rather something more involved and silly. Something as basic as:  To mom, From Miranda…….. “Greasy Bug”       Greasy Bug really meant a decorative silk “butterfly”and after 15 minutes of trying to guess and failing, my mother opened her gift and laughed.   That’s what the clues are really all about: extending the morning, bringing out laughter and creating family memories for years to come. Because memories and joy are what the holidays are all about, and handmade gifts bring back memories every time they’re tasted, worn, looked at and enjoyed. -Miranda, An Austin Homestead

Will you be making any of your gifts this year for the holidays? What will you plan on making?  

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