We did our annual gingerbread decorating yesterday. Aka sugar-fest 2012.
Last year we did graham cracker houses so this year I thought we'd try ice cream cone trees.
It was good in theory. I bought waffle cones though instead of sugar cones so the bottom wasn't level and they wouldn't sit on the table while we worked on them. I flipped a waffle cone upside down and used frosting to glue a pretzel rod inside. I hadn't considered was how heavy the cone would be once it had a layer of frosting on it, and how wobbly it would be. I went on the search for something to hold the trees while we decorated and what I came up with was a piece of foam mat and a jar. Not ideal, but it did the trick. Next time...sugar cones NOT waffle cones. (tho' I do think the waffle cones look pretty with frosting)
The kids got to decorate their own, as they did last year. They were allowed to eat their creation when it was finished which of course led to maximum candy application upon the trees. Encrusted, they were. And many candies were sampled in the process.
The kitchen is still a sticky mess but they had a good time. I think they're still running off their sugar highs.
My teenager is making his gifts for his brothers and sister this morning, these adorable little boats made of acorns and toothpicks. I saw this idea on pinterest from this blog. (lots of fun projects on there)
They even float!
I'm finishing up on the last of my projects too, and today we'll decorate gingerbread trees (ice cream cones turned upside down) and do a little baking. We're tucking in for a cozy couple of days of nibbling in front of the woodstove.
A few last-minute gifts are getting finished up. It's amazing how much one can get accomplished when a deadline looms.
Last night I pulled out a length of cotton muslin and the jar of onion peels I've been saving and did some shibori dyeing. I stood at the counter securing stones in the cotton with rubber bands while the dye pot simmered away.
I had previously mordanted the cotton with alum so once the peels were strained from the pot, the scarf was ready to go in. After letting it soak for an hour on very low heat, I removed it and rinsed it, then set about the task of freeing all of the rocks. The dye was still strong and it seemed a shame to waste it, so I tied up another scarf and dropped it in. This one I let sit overnight and it's darker than the first.
I love the splotches from where the rubber bands were. Marigolds? Dandelions? A very hungry caterpillar?
Maybe little suns? Speaking of which, the sun has peeked out today after days and days of gloomy weather. It makes the bitter cold much easier to handle, though I did think for a moment when I saw the room illuminated with light "ah crap, Mayan apocalypse." Thankfully, we seem to have escaped that one.
A stone turtle, promised to a patient someone, and another that hopped up on my felting pad this weekend. They were comforting for me to make, as if it were my way of meditating, "strong and steady, strong and steady". A reminder I'm sure many of us need right now.
This little guy, the color of the seas, has found his forever home but Leaf, the little olive colored nature turtle is in my shop now.
He too has a stone in his belly and a sweet disposition.
Speaking of the shop, I'll be closing up tomorrow and will reopen sometime in early January. I'll still be popping in here in the meantime to share some projects I've been working on for family and fun. I'd love to hear what you've got in the works too.
Thank you so much for your kind comments after yesterday's blog post. Parenting is without a doubt the most difficult job I've ever done and I don't always feel like I'm doing it right, and often probably am not doing it right, but it made my heart much lighter reading your words of support.
There will be more tough days ahead, of that I'm sure, but we're taking it one day at a time. Strong and steady like the turtle.
After our talk, my boy wanted to make an ornament for the tree out of wool. He needle-felted it first, then together we wet-felted it. He included the important details like toenails and my favorite...a smile.
Yesterday was a tough day at school for my youngest boy.
Too much energy and too little focus. A call home from the teacher. His little voice trembly with tears when he got on the phone. He's all energy and emotion, this one. A constant stream of wonder and noise. It pains me to know that his teacher doesn't get to see the amazing, creative, caring little soul that I know. He's one of 22 in a class and the time she does have for just him is spent trying to reach him, and teach him.
So when he came home from school we sat down over a cup of cocoa and talked about turtles. We talked about how turtles are strong and steady, how they always have their home, a place of comfort, with them when they're frustrated or sad. We talked about the little stone turtle I made for him, and I told him that he will always be his friend, and that he carries Momma's love with him.
He went to school this morning with his turtle in his pocket and his chin up, willing to try again today.
There are two more turtles on my work table, one has been promised to someone who's been very patient, and the other will be in my shop this weekend. This will likely be the last update until after the new year. I'll be taking the next few weeks to finish off some handmade gifts, some nagging tasks I've neglected, and re-group.
Last week I had a holiday party to attend that required a slightly less woodsy attire than I normally wear. We don't get out much so my selection of dress clothes is pretty slim. I put out my clothes and looked for my black dress boots and came up with only one boot out of the pair. After much fruitless searching and grumbling about my kids getting into everything I decided to wear my black heels instead. I found...one. What could they have possibly done with the others? Who knows. I'll probably find them in the bottom of the duck pond or something. I had neither the time, inclination, nor the budget to drive 25 miles to the store to get new boots. You know what I did have? Paint.
During my search I had found a pair of tan leather boots in the back of the closet that I never wear. I've painted shoes before so I thought, what the heck I'll give it a shot. I wiped the boots down with rubbing alcohol and let them dry then applied thin layers of black acrylic paint to them (tho' they look blue in the photos, they're really black).
I had intended to leave the soles tan as they are plastic and wouldn't hold the acrylic well, but my daughter decided to help me paint (while I was outside) and I needed to fix those up too. I had a tiny jar of army green enamel in my paintbox, so that's what they got.
The acrylic finish looked kind of unconvincing as it was, and I was concerned about it scraping off so I applied a beeswax sealer and that made a huge difference. (I used Sno-Seal) Looking at them in my hand, I couldn't tell that they weren't black to begin with. I probably could have used an acrylic sealer too, but the wax was faster.
After a full night of walking around and eating appetizers, they still look pretty good. If you look closely you can see some paint loss where my foot bends but overall, they served my needs just fine.
Sometimes you have to make do.
I know we've all been there... safety pins holding shirts closed, staples on the pant cuffs... what are your "make do" stories?
A new stone completed, the second in my felted stone project. This one came to me from Julie in Denmark (you might know her as julochka). It was given a minty green wool coat, a color that abounds in the leafless woods right now in the form of lichens that coat the oaks. The stitching suggests to me an explosion of growth (mold, spores, ?), peppering the lichen around it. As I've mentioned before, the stitches seem to lead my hand instead of the other way around, and I'm often surprised at what the finished design looks like. I think in this case, Julie's personality impacted the feel of the stitches. In an exuberant kind of way, not in a "ew, mold" kind of way.
This summer I had the privilege of meeting Julie in person when she came to visit us under the poplar and pine. She brought with her delectable treats (breakfast chocolate?! who knew?), gin, and a baggie of satin-smooth stones. One of which became her addition to my project.
Two stones completed, and more in the works.
Thank you to everyone who has sent a stone off or have helped spread the word. If you or someone you know would like to take part, you can find the details HERE.
Yesterday's unseasonably warm weather lured me out to the woods to check on my wool mushroom installation.
It isn't hard to spot it in its perch now that the snow has melted
When I last checked on it, some little critter had been nibbling on the cap and veil. Now, it seems those nibbles have turned to gnaws. A good 1/3 of the cap has been pulled off, the veil is gone, and the stem juts out horizontally from the tree, indicating that it is being used as perch for said nibbler's gnawing. (I'm guessing there's a pine squirrel with a very cozy den nearby)
I spotted a few tufts of wool and a gill in leaf litter below.
And I still think there may have been attempts to burrow into the wool-lined knot in the tree. I thought about pulling it out to have a look but wanted neither to disturb the piece nor get some unknown nibbler jumping out onto my face, so I let it be.