Quotes – The Heart of Christmas

“The very purpose of Christ’s coming into the world was that He might offer up His life as a sacrifice for the sins of men. He came to die. This is the heart of Christmas.”

                                                      ~ Billy Graham

“Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love Divine; Love was born at Christmas; Star and angels gave the sign.”

                                                      ~ Christina Rosetti

“It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you…yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.”

                                                    ~ Mother Teresa

The red poinsettias in this post are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day

Projects – Stars, Stars and Stars

Five years ago I blogged these instructions for paper stars. I’m sharing the steps again because I’m amazed at how durable the stars have been in storage over the years. I will use these stars again on trees or the mantel. The stronger your paper the better your stars will hold up.

PAPER STARS

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I had so much fun making paper stars at Christmastime. The stars can be used for any holiday…New Year’s, The Fourth of July, Easter, etc. They also could be created to hang from an indoor porch or ceiling for permanent decorations. Crafted out of glow in the dark paper, they would be a terrific non-electric night light for a child’s room.

I’ve included a link to the blog where I found perfect directions for this project. Paper Star Directions.

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My paper stars were created out of pages from an old out of date Atlas. I love the colors and shadings of the maps, and also thought it appropriate that stars commemorating Christ Jesus’ birth included countries from all over the world. I also used pages from favorite childhood classic books to create smaller stars for my tiny Christmas tree.

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Since these pages did not have any color to them, I gently watercolored them with pastel versions of primary colors.

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I’ll give a quick description of the steps I followed to make the stars, but the directions are condensed. For isntructions with more detail visit the link I provided at the beginning of the post.

To start I cut the maps into four inch squares. For the smaller book page stars I cut two inch squares. Because the Atlas pages were heavier, smaller stars and squares would not have been easy to fold and glue.

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The next step involves folding four times, twice on the diagonal, twice straight across the middle. Along the middle line on each side, snip a cut about 3/4 of an inch for the 4 inch star. For the smaller star you will make a smaller snip. Trial and error is the best way to judge how long to make the snip.

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At this point you are going to turn the paper over on itself and glue the edge of the star point together. Hot glue made it quick and easy for me, but I have tough fingertips and am not too bothered by the heat. You want to use a glue that will grab hold quickly so you don’t have to hold the star tip too long.

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Glue four points from each square, then glue another square into four points. After gluing the middle of the star will have a raised dimension. Glue two of these stars together, string a piece of clear thread through the top, knot and hang.

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Here is my star created from a page of one of my favorite books, Anne of Green Gables. I also used Mod-Podge on these and my atlas stars to add a coating of glittery crystal.

I use books I find at local thrift stores and yard sales for projects such as these. You could also photocopy pages of books you love, or copy old letters and photographs with a scanner or photocopier to use. Photographic stars would be great for a party with the person of honor’s image on stars hanging from the ceiling or light fixture. Have fun making your stars. I had a great time making mine. They are easy and inexpensive and are sure to please.

Quotes – The Gift of Christmas


“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” ~ Titus 3:3-7

 

“Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.”

~ Oren Arnold

This post is part of Becca’s Sunday Trees.

Project – Caterpillar Update

I’m posting an update on the caterpillars I saved from the hard freeze. The beginning of their story and first update can be found at the links below:
The Big Save
One Week Update

I was surprised when the smaller and weaker of the two caterpillars was the first to complete his metamorphosis into a chrysalis. He didn’t attach himself to any of the twigs or plants, but instead transformed on the soil. Today I noticed the larger caterpillar, who has been very still for days, had spun a web and seems to be beginning his metamorphosis too.

Can you see the thin thread of web anchoring the caterpillar in place? I’m leaving a place holder below for a photo of the second chrysalis, probably complete by tomorrow morning. Check back for the posted photo.

I removed the photo place holder I originally posted. The caterpillar is very still, yet has not formed a chrysalis. As the days pass I am losing hope that he will begin metamorphosis. Something seems to have gone awry.

 

Photo Challenges – Copper Snow & Candelabra Trees

We had a small snowstorm this week. It took me by surprise; I hadn’t heard the forecast and didn’t know snow was on the way.

“Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.”

                                  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Can a snowstorm be perfect? This one was near perfection, quick, never accumulating on roads or sidewalks, in and out of the area in a hurry, leaving behind a beautiful dusting of white to reflect the waning sunlight.

The winter sun gleamed so brightly in the sky it almost seemed as if it had become a supernova for a moment, illuminating the frozen landscape with a burst of copper.

I looked up the street towards my friend‘s house; she would soon be one of the drivers heading home from work. Maybe she had already made plans to open the curtains, heat up a hot drink, and enjoy the beauty outside her window. The tree in her backyard blazed so bright in the sun it resembled a lit candelabra.

In my backyard, the sun continued to set, leaving behind a pure lavender and gold sky…utterly breathtaking! Winter does have its delights after all.

“Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall each one a gem

                                          ~William Hamilton Gibson

Quick Tip & Pheathers – A Gritty Helping Hand

Today while running some errands I stopped at the local pet store and bought some bird grit. I don’t have pet birds, but recently was reminded while reading through Country Wisdom & Know How that birds are vulnerable to digestion problems when they can’t scratch up and ingest grit from the frozen earth.

“Grit is necessary for birds to grind the food they eat and for some mineral value. Offer ground oyster shell, sand or ground eggshell either alone in trays or mixed with seed or recipes." Country Wisdom & Know-How

We had snow yesterday, and while it is pretty and seasonal, it also makes life a bit harder for the backyard birds. When I fill the feeders I will add a bit of the grit to the tray. When the snow melts I’ll sprinkle a small amount beneath the feeders each day where the birds can easily find it.

Photo Challenge & Pheathers – Weather Vane Wednesday/The Hunt

Almost every week finds me searching for new weather vanes. Most times the hunt takes me to areas I know, but this past weekend, we drove to a town we rarely visit, Salem, New Jersey.  On the way we passed barns, silos, and many open fields. In one of those fields two large birds drew our eye. At first glance we thought they were vultures, but then noticed the eagle-like head. This is the first time I’ve been able to see and photograph juvenile bald eagles. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology it takes about five years for a young bird to attain its adult plumage.

I did find some good weather vanes on the drive. A cockerel is a commonplace weather vane, but this brass and copper rendition is far from common. I consider it a classic remade into something extraordinary.

Salem is an old town, established in the 1600’s. I had limited time to take photographs or explore the town. We visited the weekend the Christmas Parade was scheduled, and were hardly able to drive through the town at all. As we left the main street the police and firemen were beginning to  put up barriers for the parade.

I did take a photo of two of the weather vanes. This one was very large and looked to be a favorite perch of some starlings. I know I’ll make another trip to Salem soon and take a few more photos for the challenge.

Thanks to ‘The 59 Club’ for taking part in last week’s challenge:
The 59 Club – Hiding in the Moss

The Photo Challenge: Each Wednesday, I post a photograph of a Weather Vane with a short description of where it can be found and any history connected to it. The main focus of the challenge is the photo of the Weather Vane and the location. The challenge can be Wordless if that is what you choose. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #weathervaneweds. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Thanks Cee!

Project – Easy Christmas Tree Crafting for Kids

Once again, I’m reblogging a terrific seasonal project. I used the same technique a few year’s later to create a Valentine’s Day heart with my grand-daughters. The project and shape can be adapted to any holiday.

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This beautiful Christmas tree was easy and inexpensive to create. All three of my grandsons loved putting it together. The only supplies we needed were bought at the dollar store. We purchased one piece of black foamboard and two packets of glittery stars. We had freezer paper on hand for the template, but old newspaper would work just as well.

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First we scattered the stickers and took a good look at them. We noticed the stars could be used as they were, or to double the amount we had to use, the insides could be punched out and used as separate stickers. Whoo-Hoo…fun…let’s begin!

Before the boys were ready to start I cut a piece of freezer paper into a tree shape by folding it in half and cutting away half a tree. When opened, the sides matched and when placed on the foamboard waxy side down, the paper clung to the  surface just a bit. To help keep the freezer paper from shifting we weighted the corners down with what was handy…salt and pepper shakers. The littlest grandson thought the salt was part of the project and promptly salted the foamboard.

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All three of the boys ages 2 1/2 through 8 years enjoyed the project. It was completed within fifteen minutes and was instantly gorgeous and bright. The only problem we had was some of the paper backing on the stickers stuck a bit for the younger boys.

When the tree was complete and we had oooh’d and aaah’d over how beautiful it was, I used my glue gun to place a string for hanging about a third of the way down from the top. The foamboard is very light and will hang on even the smallest nail.

Happy Christmas Crafting to You!

Plants – Bargains in the Clearance Aisle

Christmas Red Tulips/Longwood Gardens Conservatory-Friday Foto Friends

What is that oddball bag lying beside my carrots in the vegetable bin of my refrigerator?

What looks like small onions or shallots is really a bag of Spring-Flowering bulbs, leftovers from my Autumn plantings.

While you’re looking for Christmas trees and poinsettias in big box stores or garden nurseries, take a moment to check if there are any leftover Autumn bulbs on clearance. Often a business will slash prices of out of season plants to the point of almost giving them away. I mimic frosty cold by storing unplanted bulbs as the Gardening-Know-How site suggests:

The highest chilling temperature is around 40 degrees F. (4 C.), so chilling bulbs in the refrigerator is ideal. Just be sure not to store them near any fruit, as the released ethylene gas reduces bloom. Store the bulbs in the refrigerator in a ventilated mesh bag.
~ Gardening Know How/How to Chill Flowering Bulbs

The article has many fine tips on how to select, chill and plant the bulbs in Spring. I have about three months to come up with good ideas for forcing these beauties. The bright flowers and colors will certainly be an antidote for the doleful greys of late-winter skies.

The glorious red tulips are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Goodbye November!

Perspective & Project – Scrub Pine Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree That Ran Away was a favorite album of my sister and me. Why do I mention this song? Because the words and tune ring through my head whenever I decorate a scrub pine and turn it into a sweet Christmas tree. Here’s the Youtube song, if it sounds dated, it is; the album is from the 1960’s.

I had forgotten how cute a scrub pine can be when decorated with simple ornaments. This one is loaded down with some turned-wood decorations I found for pennies at a thrift store. Planted in a pot and placed on the kitchen table, it reminds me that things that are ‘found’ are sometimes what become favorites during the Christmas season.

We dug this little scrub pine up along the railroad tracks. Plants that grow in the rocks that border the track are by necessity resilient. Most foliage succumbs to the lack of dirt and good soil, which is what the railroad wants…encroaching plants and trees would be a hindrance to the train’s smooth travel. When Christmas is over I’ll find an out of the way spot amid the ivy where a fir tree that can grow in rocky soil will survive.

Photo Challenge – Wednesday Weather Vane/Seashore Offerings Part II

Most of our seashore weather vanes are nautical or fishy. We even spotted a sperm whale vane on one of Ocean City’s summer homes.

Further along, across Corson’s Inlet bridge into Strathmere, we came upon a weather vane that is probably a fisherman’s weather vane. This vane is perched high on a tower and is definitely no-nonsense in appearance. Most likely, it is used daily by a seafaring man to see what direction the wind is blowing.

You can see it’s height in relation to the nearby houses.

Thanks to these bloggers for their response to last week’s challenge:
Exploring Color – It’s a Dog
The 59 Club – Fishing Forecast
Robert’s Snap Spot – Photo Challenge – Weather Vane

The Photo Challenge: Each Wednesday, I post a photograph of a Weather Vane with a short description of where it can be found and any history connected to it. The main focus of the challenge is the photo of the Weather Vane and the location. The challenge can be Wordless if that is what you choose. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #weathervaneweds. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Thanks Cee!

Phlowers – Silken Petals

Autumn Rose Scepter
Pure silk bloom of royalty
Reigning o’er chill Fall

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
                                                              ~ Matthew 6:28-30

This rose isn’t waiting for dormancy, but is blooming still. When I pick a flower, whatever the season, I have contact with the Creator of heaven and earth. Does this bring the 2018 growing season a sense of closure or will I still dream of rosebuds in December?

Today’s beautiful blossom is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Blog Post.

Pots & Pans – Repeat of a Repeat of a Repeat/Rollo Pretzel Bites

I had no intention reblogging this recipe yet again, but then I whipped up a batch for after Thanksgiving game playing. Oh MY!!! They are fabulous and everyone loves them…and they are so easy.

Rollo Pretzel Bites are a great recipe for the absolute perfect bite. There are only three ingredients involved: Square waffle type pretzels called “Snaps.”

Rollo candies, a bag or several rolls.

The third ingredient is pecan halves.

I use my toaster oven set on a very low temperature, around 275. I arrange the pretzels on the pan. (This year my toaster oven was broken so I used the large oven…works great too! I think the large oven is a bit faster)

 Place one rollo candy on top of each pretzel…

Place the pan in the toaster oven and watch closely until the bottom of the Rollo begins to spread out and melt. It only takes a minute or two.

To finish them off  lay one pecan half on the top, smoosh it down gently. Ah…the perfect bite in just minutes.

They are a bit pricey to make since pecans are so expensive right now, but definitely worth it. Your guests will love them.

Places & Pheathers – Town, Country & The Pied Pipers of Raptor

Small Business Saturday has arrived, and we supported the cause by window-shopping in one of the small towns near us, Pitman, New Jersey. I like the reflection of the Broadway Theater in the door.

It’s fun to check out how the small businesses decorate their windows to draw shoppers inside.

We went from town to a small woods and field behind our home. As we walked, a large bird swooped in front of us, almost as if it was showing off a bit, and flew to a tree on the edge of the field. What excitement filled us to see not just one very large hawk, but two. I zoomed in with my camera and after downloading was able to make out their markings. I believe they are a pair of red-tailed hawks, although one appears to be much older than the other. Not only did we see them, they were very aware of us and split up, one flying into the horizon beyond the woods and one towards the homes nearby.

I followed the hawk that flew to the trees near our neighborhood as if it was the Pied Piper of Hamelin, or as my imagination deemed it while I played catch up with it on foot: The Pied Piper of Raptor. I never did get close enough to get a photograph without using the zoom on my lens. Smart birds! What a perfect Saturday we’ve had, a little bit of town, a little bit of country.

This post is part of Skywatch.

Phavorites – The Nativity Story/Christmas Movie Listings Online Guide

I often reblog my favorite tips for seasonal projects or recipes. Every year I also repeat my recommendation of The Nativity Story as a reminder of the events that led up to Jesus’ birth.

My heart is always filled with gratitude as I watch this realistic depiction of God’s perfect plan to bring salvation, through his Son Jesus Christ, to all mankind.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with holiday shopping and activities. For those of us who find it relaxing to pull up a seat for an hour or two of seasonal entertainment, here’s a terrific movie channel and schedule available through Countdown Until Christmas/Christmas Movie Database. The Journal Sentinel also has a day by day movie schedule that is worth a look. Take a look at this amazing collection of Christmas and holiday movies and their air times. There is also a search box on the site with an amazing database of movies.

Quote – Heart’s Gratitude

“Thanksgiving is very vocal: doorbells ringing, kitchen sounds, automobiles hurrying up driveways, and in cities hasty footsteps resounding on pavements. It is also full of sounds of greeting, welcome, laughter, and reunion.

But it’s quiet during the moments when we pause to offer heart’s gratitude, not only for the blessings of the months past but for the disciplines; and above all for the ability to believe in the future, whatever we may read or hear; to believe in friends, in love, in the world itself, no matter how troubled it may be.” ~ Faith Baldwin

I always feel a sense of calm when I read the reflections of Faith Baldwin. I have three of her books and most often when I read her words I am inspired by her insight. The quote above was taken out of Evening Star, pubished in 1966.