Thanksgiving is now over. Our family had a really fun time getting ready for Thanksgiving and then ultimately celebrating with the grandparents. Munchkin’s birthday was the following Monday, and we had a little party for her. Sadly, though, we’ve been sick with colds (I’ve had mine for 2 weeks, and am just now getting over it!).

I do, however, want to share a craft we did this year for our table. We made felt placemats.

Simple, easy, and very, very cute! This easy method can and will extend to other seasons and holidays throughout the year, so I thought it appropriate that I share it for the Christmas/winter season. 1 yard of 65-70″ craft felt will make about 8 or so placemats. (Or, you can simply use a regular 9×12″ sheet–it’ll be a tad smaller, but won’t take up as much space on the table!! 😀 )

At the same time, purchase some 9×12″ felt sheets (I can’t say squares, even thought the signs at Hobby Lobby and JoAnn’s say squares…I just can’t bring myself to do it! They’re NOT squares! They’re rectangles! Parallelograms! Quadralaterals, even! But they’re definitely NOT squares!) and cut out some seasonal shapes. For Thanksgiving, I had cut out various leaf shapes, fruits, and veggies in their corresponding colors. I also had cut out stems from greens and browns, and cross-stitched them onto the proper place on the veggies/fruits.

Allow the kidlets to arrange them however they like on the designated placemat and glue them into place with regular white glue (it doesn’t stick really well, but they’ll stay in place long enough for the next step!) or you could use fabric glue. what I did for dd1 was squeeze some glue into a small stainless steel cocktail sauce cup I had purchased from the Dollar Tree years ago (muffin tins work just as well, or old jar lids, etc.). I gave her a round 1″ foam stencil dauber, and showed her how to dab the glue onto the cut pieces and then place them on the place mat. Once they’re nice and glued, allow the mats to dry (white glue only takes a couple hours, tops!).

When the kidlets are in bed (this is the only time of day I can do this undisturbed!),  take some corresponding embroidery floss and a sharp hand needle (I don’t know which type it was, but if you get the variety pack of needles at the store, test them to see which needle goes through two layers of felt the best!) and sew a running stitch either around the border of the item or–in the cases of leaves, pumpkins, and carrots–where ever you might see texture or veins on the real thing.

For instance, you could also get really fancy with the round ball ornaments on some of the Christmas place mats! If your children are older, you could even allow them to do the embroidery, thereby saving you a bit of work. 😉 Now, the mats could be finished if you like the look of them as they are. I ran out of time (and was–ahem–too sick to finish this part!), but I was hoping to take some pretty gross-grain ribbon and sew it about 1″ inside the outer edges of the place mats, giving them a more “finished” look. Take some pics! Let me know how they turn out for you!

Also, I do have two new favorite blogs to share…One is crafty, and the other is foody! Yum! And they often guest-blog for one another, and I enjoy reading their new posts. Lollychops.com is a blog I’ve been reading since the spring. Perhaps I’ve mentioned Lolly before? She’s based in the Dallas area, and has the cutest embroidery patterns I’ve ever seen! Either this past spring or last year, she even blogged about a link she found that had free stuffed bird sewing patterns, where the blogger made a bird-mobile using these birds and sticks, suspended from the ceiling. I soooooo wanna do that when we get a house! I would love to put that in the girls’ room, as well as a trompe l’oille (sp?) painting of a tree on the wall next to the mobile. Next is Our Best Bites, a wonderful foody blog! The gals over there have some scrumptious recipes, as well as gift ideas! One terribly cute invention they blogged about a couple weeks ago was pies-in-a-jar! How cute and how cool is that? Go check them out! My girls and I are going to make the Fruity Candy Popcorn for dd1’s dance class (we’ll be making the popcorn ball version) and hand them out either this week or next.

It’s been so long since I last logged into my crocheting blog, that it’s now considered inactive; I can’t access it! Ack! I need to add some new patterns that I’m re-writing from vintage turn-of-the-20th century patterns and updating the language, and I can’t add them to the one I want to! So, I’ll have to add them here. *sigh* Oh well. As one of my bffs would say, “Such is life.” (Hmmm…maybe I can simply start a new one? There’s a thought!….)

Anyway, in the group Reclaiming the Home on Ravelry, there’s been a challenge to blog daily this month. I don’t know how well I do, because thus far my track record isn’t that great. 😦 Please pray for me so that I can at least blog 2-3 times per week, and talk about the various things we’re doing here during the Advent season.

Speaking of Advent, last year I mentioned making a felt Advent Calendar, inspired by Pottery Barn Kids. Munchkin and I decorated 25 little 3×3″ felt squares to look like gifts, and we glued them onto the huge green felt tree cutout I had made. I used glitter glue to write on the numbers above the squares, and attached magnets to the back. Sadly, the magnets aren’t strong enough to hold the weight of the empty-pocketed tree to the front door! Ugh! And I kept wracking my brain, trying to figure out how to get this thing to stay on the door, and failed during the entire month of December last year. Well, this year, I had a brain storm (well, with a little help from L at Munchkin’s dance class! Hi, L!), and used 3 wire coat hangers. I sewed ribbons to the back of the tree at the top so that one whole hanger could be tied and sewn into place. The second hanger I cut with really strong wire cutters (believe me, plain jewelry craft wire cutters would not have worked! Grab your husband’s wire cutters out of the tool box to do this!) about 3″ on both sides from where the hook is twisted into place. I then used pliers and straightened this piece at the “shoulders”, then I curled back the cut ends so that little fingers couldn’t cut themselves upon touching the ends of the wire. I added more ribbons to the back of the tree at a branchy section, put the wire where I wanted it, sewed it into place, and tied the ribbons over the thread. With the third wire hanger, I cut just below the twists and straightened out this piece as well. (btw, throw away the hooks…you won’t be needing them!) Bend the ends just like the second, and sew at the bottom, just like the last piece. The next dilemma: still couldn’t get the thing to hang on the door! Well, I looked around a few minutes, then went to the dining room. There, on the wall, where a picture once hung, was a frame hook still nailed into place! Perfect! i thought. So, I happily took my huge-honkin’ felt tree to the hook and hung it there. And there, it stays until after Christmas. 😀 Inside each pocket I placed a 2″ bell. These bells I bought at the Dollar Tree (9-pk/$1, 3 pks. total), and last year at the end of the season, I had bought those nifty curlique wire hooks for, say, 25 cents? at Hobby Lobby. Took them out, placed them on the bells, and placed the bells into the pockets. Now, we have a fence surrounding our fire place (we take it down during the warmer months, when we don’t have fires) with exactly 25 spaces in between the posts on the front. I took a length of white organdy ribbon (you know, that sheer stuff that comes in 10-yd. spools for $1.47 at Wal-Mart), tied a bow at one corner and wrapped the ribbon through the spaces and around the top of the fence to the other end (25 times 😀 ), where I tied another bow. Each morning, the girls alternate who takes out a bell from a pocket and hangs it on the ribbon in front of the fireplace. Here’s the kicker…Once all 24-25 bells are hanging on the ribbon, Santa will be coming! Since he’ll be coming down the chimney, he can’t help but at least bump into the fence…Heeheee…Also, we’ll be leaving a note for him, with some milk and cookies, and some carrots for the reindeer, plus a giant, yellow brass bell that Grandma L gave to the girls last week…I’ll tie a huge ribbon onto it, and we’ll ask Santa to ring the bell and take it with him to help us wake up on Christmas morning. Cute, huh? Shhhh…Don’t tell Santa!

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