Podcast #67- 316 Days to Go!

candy cane hearts

Podcast #67- 316 Days to Go!

Click here to listen to our latest podcast- Catching up for 2015!

We try to get back on track this week and collect our thoughts for 2015 podcasting.  Natalie and Jeremy discuss thoughts about holiday bargains, the 2014 Christmas wrap up, and lots and lots of craft ideas!
Snowmen, winter and snow days off from school also feature prominently in our chat leading up to Valentine’s Day 2015.  Listen in for all the details.

Fall = Craft Festivals!

Fall has officially arrived!  It is October and that means there’s some type of festival, craft fair, or show every weekend.  This is the perfect time to get out and about and spark your Christmas ideas.  These shows run from the simple to the elaborate.  There are smaller church and neighborhood fairs.  Maybe a local fire company fundraiser or a local PTA night of crafts.  There are larger “shows” that might require an admission or some travel.  These are usually much larger and at some location like a fair or carnival grounds or maybe in a field house or warehouse.  Then there are the mega festivals that are full-on magnets for the craft crowd.  These are the ones that take over a whole town and can be your whole day.  Whatever your taste, get out there and visit one or two.  Your approach can take a variety of angles.  You could just go and watch the people and observe the crafts and creations to get ideas.  This can be of supreme value.  You might find just the right home-made inspiration to spark your own gifts this holiday season.  Maybe you’ll discover a new local candy or cookie that you will introduce to your family and friends come December.  The ideas you can absorb at these fairs is unlimited.  Of course if the idea is that good you might just have to purchase it.  Fairs and festivals can be great places to get amazing gifts.  Unique and original items are everywhere.  Might be the perfect pair of earrings for your sweetie, maybe that awesome wool sweater for mom, an original watercolor for dad, or some clever ornaments for the children.  Believe me- if you can think of it, you can probably find it out there somewhere.  Get in the car and let’s go!  Here are some local possibilities for your upcoming weekend adventures:

Oct 5-7: Sugarloaf Craft Festival in Timonium, MD
Oct 6: Cultural Arts Festival in Oakland Mills, MD
Oct 6-7: Fall Fest Weekend in Mt. Airy, MD
Oct 6-7: Railroad Days in Brunswick, MD
Oct 10-14: Autumn Glory Festival in Oakland, MD
Oct 13-14: Catoctin Colorfest in Thurmont, MD
Oct 13-14: Great Pumpkin Festival at Summers Farm in Frederick, MD
Oct 20: Myersville Harvest Festival in Myersville, MD
Oct 20: Holiday Craft Show at Westminster High School
Oct 20-21: Fall Harvest Days in Westminster, MD
Oct 27: Fall Frolic at Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, MD
Oct 27-28: Christmas Craft Fair in Salisbury, MD
Oct 28: Halloween on the Farm at Crumland Farm in Frederick, MD


Podcast #29- 153 Days to Go!

Podcast #29- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Bethlehem, O Little Town.

This week we dish a little on the week in review- mangers, crafts, and of course music.  Our new topic of discussion is focused on the song of the week- O Little Town of Bethlehem.  We talk a little about some of the recorded versions of this classic and look at the variety of forms.  Natalie has the epiphany that she doesn’t like a lot of Christmas songs, or does she?  We wrap up with a return to our craft ideas, which will be our focus next Monday.  Crafts?  Yup, only 5 months left of prep time!

Don’t do it alone!

On Saturday, my sister Susan and her two sons (ages 9 and almost 5) spent the rainy day at my house.  We drew up a list of what we might want to accomplish. Everyone got to contribute to the possibilities.  It looked something like this:

  • Make a Lego creation for Howard County Fair
  • Make waffles
  • Drink hot chocolate
  • Feed chickens watermelon
  • Jelly sandwich taste test–which jelly is the best?
  • Birthday present craft for two grandmothers (cannot be revealed because two grandmothers read this blog)
  • Small turtle craft made from foam pieces
  • Wax paper butterfly mobiles
  • Clay pot people (birthday or Christmas gifts)

I admit that this is a ridiculously involved list, and there was no expectation that all of it would be accomplished; however, the key factor in the success of the day of crafting, for me, was having my sister present to motivate me.  She brought her supplies and ideas.  I brought mine, and away we went.  Roger clears out when we bring up the extra folding table!

My point is that if Jeremy wants to get that nativity set made, he might want to recruit a friend who is willing to make a set, too.  Not everyone likes to work this way, but thinking back to the popularity of quilting and knitting circles, I think many people benefit from the energy of the group.

(Here’s a tip:  When I am working with my nieces and nephews, often, I try to have a photograph of the finished product and/or one I have made myself with clear steps that can be checked off as we go.  Everyone benefits from knowing the end result. And don’t choose something that takes more than 30 – 40 minutes when working with elementary children.)

I made jelly with a friend earlier this summer, and some of those jars will be gifts.  Canning is a labor-intensive task that is most definitely better when shared.  What might have been a lonely, hot, sweaty day was enhanced by conversation and blueberry smoothies.

One of my friends once said that making cookies together was the best Christmas gift I could have given her.  Another said that wrapping presents together was a gift in itself.   I recommend that if you are getting a slow start on your hand-made Christmas gifts, purchase two of everything and recruit a friend.

P.S.  Fig jelly was the favorite–yes, it’s true.  I believe some people (especially children) turn off when they hear “fig” jelly, but it is better than blueberry and peach.  I have the ballots to prove it!

Three Ways to Save- Christmas 2012

If you really want Christmas 2012 to be awesome you really MUST start to think about things now!  If you meet any of the following criteria you can just skip this post: never decorate, spend money, give presents, travel, or in any way do something to celebrate the special day and season.  Ok, so you see that everyone really needs to read on.  In the coming months we plan to share tons of tips and ideas to make planning and prepping for the holidays easier, more affordable, and hopefully fun!

Today I want to start our discussions on saving money (as well as time and sanity) as part of your Christmas plans.  Remember this is just the introduction to these three ideas, we have so much more to come.  Here are three areas to take action to make your Christmas 2012 more frugal and financially wise.

Number 1- SAVE UP!  That’s right, save your money.  Plan ahead.  Save now.  Most of us have probably spent at least some time since Christmas 2011 opening bills and figuring out how to pay for the things we bought or did as part of the celebrations.  Too much of the time after the holidays is spent paying for the holidays.  Too often, especially at Christmas, we are guided by the “spend now and pay later” model of action.  Make 2012 the year that you shift that thinking to “save now, spend later”.  There are many ways to do just that.  To be able to save money you must have some type of plan.  You have to have an idea of how much money you will need to save.  It is simple to create a budget for Christmas 2012.  Take time in the next couple days to total what you spent in 2011.  This will give you a dollar amount for your saving plan.  (Some of you might for the first time discover just how much you really spend!)  Think of finding this budget amount as your homework assignment:)  Look for information in my next post a variety of online savings account options to create your own modern Christmas savings account.

Number 2- BUY NOW!  Another way to not be burdened with huge bills at the end of the year is to make purchases throughout the year.  There are so many ways to shop early and we will be going into many of them in-depth in the coming weeks and months. Just to give you a little taste here are a few ideas.  Shop sales on frames and photo albums in clearance at major department stores.  Check out yard sales and garage sales in the spring and summer to find great and inexpensive items.  After Valentine’s Day check out the discount sales and buy all kinds of red things to keep for use at Christmas.  Do the same after St. Patrick’s Day.  Having ideas of gifts for family and friends in mind can save you much money and stress.  Coming later in January we’ll share our tips for tracking your gift ideas and projects in 2012.

Number 3- MAKE IT!  We have all had that moment, usually around December 21st, where we wish we had found or started some great homemade present or craft idea earlier.  Something that our friends and family would have loved but there just isn’t time to do it now.  2012 is the year to end that tradition.  Learn that new craft now!  Start that project in February!  Practice baking the new cookie recipe for a friends Super Bowl party.  Both Natalie and I have hinted at some of the new things we will be starting early in the year to be set for Christmas.  Natalie has already mentioned her cookies and I am working on improving my candy making.  Another new idea I have for 2012 is to spend some time with my nieces and nephew building or making something that later will become a gift.  For example, at the 2011 after Christmas sales I bought a really cool unfinished wooden advent box in the shape of a tree.  I plan to paint it and decorate it this winter and then fill it with little items or remembrances from the kids for the year.  Won’t my sister be surprised as she opens the little drawers in December and finds treasures from the kids back in February?  More tips and ideas coming all year long.

Countdown Podcast #3: 349 Days to Go!

Click on the link to hear us- Yule Log 349 to go

This week our discussion focuses on crafts you can make with the Christmas cards you received this year.  We also share some thoughts on cards in general and how our site and podcasts are catching on.  Check out the links and photos below for more details on the card crafts mentioned tonight.  Here’s the link for more information about the program at St. Jude’s- recycled card program.  Here are links to the individual crafts:

Directions for 20-point Star (time-consuming but pretty); YouTube Video of 8-point Star (easy to make–accuracy required); Simple Treat or Gift Boxes (addictive and easy enough for children); Gift Card Envelopes.  Martha Stewart’s ornaments (not pictured) are the traditional ball shape made with round circles of Christmas cards.  This was fun to make, but the dogs thought it was a toy.  No photo, but here’s the link to her directions.