December 11, 2017

Last Minute Christmas Projects - Packages for Kids

Welcome to my stop on the Last Minute Christmas Projects blog hop, hosted by Jen of Faith and Fabric! If this is your first time here, then an extra big welcome to you 😊 If you're interested, I'd love to have you sign up for The Bulletin, my monthly newsletter. When you do, you'll also receive a copy of my Wind Farm quilt pattern, available exclusively to subscribers.

I have a different sort of project to share today. It's something my mom used to do for my younger cousins and I've been doing it for a few years for some of the little kids I babysit. We just call them packages, for lack of a better name. It's not a sewing project, though I like to include handmade things in them.

You know when you want to give a gift, and it has to be small (money-wise), but you still want it to make an impact? These packages are the perfect answer.

It's not so much the gift itself that makes the big impact, though. It's the delivery!

The packages are a bunch of small gifts and the idea is that the kids open them, one at a time, over the days leading up to Christmas. Mom used to do 7 days of gifts and I do 5 days, starting on December 20th. You know those days when the kids are practically dying to know what Santa is bringing them and they just want to open ALL THE THINGS? That's when they're allowed to open the packages.

Genius, right?

I've heard from the moms of kids I've given these packages to that they were up, asking if they could open "Leanne's present" at 6 in the morning, then spent the next hour making puppets from the kit they opened. I love it! Sure, the moms might not like it so much at 6 in the morning 😀, but the kids sure enjoyed what I gave them, more than they would have if they opened the same gifts on Christmas morning along with everything else.

I usually aim for a lot of the gifts to be things to do, like art supplies, craft kits or colouring books. I also like to include something handmade, like this play alphabet or this bean bag toss game.

Here's what the kids will be getting this year:

Day 1 - homemade playdough. I use this recipe to make my playdough and it is so, so soft. It also lasts for months when stored in a zip-top plastic bag. I think I've included play dough every year I've given the packages.

Day 2 - watercolour paints and brushes.
Packages for Kids |
Day 3 - the personalized placemats I've been working on, along with a little treat to enjoy so they can use the placemats right away.
Packages for Kids |
Day 4 - stickers, paper and glitter glue.
Packages for Kids |
Day 5 - refrigerated cookie dough. This last gift is always the same, and I make sure to explain to the moms that the gift marked 'day 5' needs to go in the fridge right away until it's time to open it. I've thought about making jars of cookie ingredients, but that seems like I'd be giving the moms more work. This way they only have to heat the oven and scoop the dough onto the pan. Keep it simple for Christmas Eve, right?
Packages for Kids |
Just as a note, I don't do packages for kids younger than 3, unless they're the younger sibling in a family already getting a package. The younger kids just don't have that same anticipation about Christmas yet and they don't get that opening a present early is extra special. Likewise, I find kids tend to outgrow my packages, but that's only because of the gifts I choose. You could certainly choose 'older' gifts and keep the fun going as the kids get older if you wanted.

Technically, this isn't a last minute gift, since you have to be thinking ahead enough to have it ready a few days before Christmas, but it doesn't take much work. Most of the gifts are from the dollar store, or they're things I make myself, so there's not a lot of running around to do to get it all ready. Plus it's so much fun to hear about how excited the kids were to open each day's gift and how much fun they had using it.

There are lots of other last minute gifts being shared in the hop, so be sure to check them all out!

Thanks to Jen for hosting the hop and to everyone participating! It's always fun to see what everyone comes up with to fit a theme 😊

So, are there kids on your list who would enjoy getting to open some presents early? Packages are definitely the answer!

Advent 2017 - Peace

Devotion for the Week...

It's the second week of Advent! Last week, for the start of Advent, we looked at hope. This week we're looking at the peace Jesus provides.

I've read a lot of references lately to something known as "imposter syndrome." Have you heard of it? Basically, it's the feeling that you don't actually know what you're doing in your work, accompanied by a fear of being exposed as a fraud. What I find interesting is that everyone seems to have it, to some degree, even people who are wildly successful in their fields.

Imposter syndrome often manifests itself as that little voice in your head that says, "You're not good enough." There are lots of variations of what the voice actually says, but they all boil down to the same thing - you're not good enough. And with that thought comes the fear that people would laugh at you or turn against you if they knew the truth about you.

We Christians have our own, slightly different, version of imposter syndrome. Instead of feeling like we're not good enough in our work, Christians may feel inadequate because of our sins.

Whether it is sin that happened before we accepted Jesus as Savior, or sin that happened after, those memories stick in our minds and play over and over, reminding us of how we do not measure up to God's standard of perfection.

Those thoughts rob us of the peace Jesus promised us. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).

If our minds are constantly focused on the things we've done wrong, even after we've asked for forgiveness for those things, then we have no peace in our own minds. If that is you, look at this:

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1,2).

No condemnation! None. God is not sitting in Heaven, shaking His finger in anger at us for the things we have done in the past. In fact, once we have asked for forgiveness, those sins are gone and He does not ever hold them against us again. Isn't that an amazing thought?

Jesus came to earth as the baby we celebrate at Christmas so that we could escape the condemnation of sin. Because He came, and because He died for our sins, we are no longer condemned by God for the sins we have committed.
Advent devotions |
That fact is the perfect shut-down for the voice that tries to rob us of our peace by reminding us of our sin. We do not stand condemned. Because of Jesus, we are set free. What peace that will bring to our minds!

December 07, 2017

TGIFF - Personalized Placemats

Welcome to TGIFF! If this is your first time here, I hope you like what you see 😊 If you do, I'd love to have you sign up for The Bulletin, my monthly newsletter. Each month, on the 16th, I share some of the news from here on the blog, a family favourite recipe and a fun themed round-up of things to make. When you sign up, you'll also receive a copy of my Wind Farm quilt pattern, available exclusively to subscribers.

'Tis the season for secret sewing, but thankfully some of my recipients are much too young to be snooping around a quilting blog looking for hints about their gifts, lol. I decided to make personalized placemats for the kids I babysit and a few other kids on my list. All told, I'm making 8 placemats. The plan had been to have all 8 finished for today, but that didn't happen. Instead, I have 2 finished, 2 basted and ready for quilting and 4 more waiting to be basted. Slow and steady wins the Christmas race, right?
Personalized recycled denim placemats |
I made the tops of the placemats using recycled denim. I have a closet full of old jeans and I love finding ways to use them. It's like free fabric! Plus, my denim log cabin placemats have seen heavy use for almost 2 years and they still look almost pristine, so I'm sure the denim can stand up to toddler/preschooler/school age kid messy eating and still look good for awhile.
Personalized recycled denim placemats |
I made the tops the same way I made these denim cushion covers, using an old sheet cut to 12" x 18" as the foundation layer. The sheet was a little flimsier than the fabric I used before, so it wasn't a great foundation layer. It was hard to keep the sheet straight, and some of the denim strips ended up being a little bunchy in places. That will definitely be something to consider next time I'm looking to use old fabric as a foundation.
Personalized recycled denim placemats |
Once the backgrounds were pieced and trimmed, it was time for the personalization. I printed the first initial of each of their names in a nice font, really big, so it filled about half of a sheet of paper, turned landscape. Then I just cut the letters out and pinned the paper to the fabric and cut around them. A little washable glue stick and a quick zigzag stitch and the letters were attached.
Personalized recycled denim placemats |
This K one was the first one I quilted. I used the swirl hook design, but I don't think I'll use that again. First off, it took twice as long as the loopy design and it didn't quilt as nicely on the denim. Partly that's because of the bunchy spots from the foundation being flimsy and partly it's because the denim is just so thick in places that it was hard to stitch smoothly.
Personalized recycled denim placemats |

Personalized recycled denim placemats |
The echoed loop design went much faster and created fewer ripples.
Personalized recycled denim placemats |

Personalized recycled denim placemats |
Each placemat is made using that kid's favourite colour, for both the initial and the binding. I really love how this pink (Kona punch, I think) really pops against the blue and black of the denim.

So, that's 2 down and 6 more to go!

Now it's your turn. Link up your finishes and tour around to celebrate some others finishes. It's more fun when we celebrate together, right?

December 04, 2017

Advent 2017 - Hope

Devotion for the Week...

It's Advent season again! Like so many others, I love this time of year. I love the decorations, the tree, the food and the music. More than anything, though, I love the reason we celebrate.

"For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus came as a baby, born into this world to bring hope to a people who were completely hopeless. I'm not talking about the Jewish people, though they were hopeless under Roman rule at the time. I'm talking about the entire human race.

We are, after all, one people. Though we've divided ourselves according to religious and national differences, we are really only one people and Jesus came to rescue us all.

I've been thinking about it like this: one of the little girls I babysit is named Edie. She's 18 months old and she loves to sit at my kitchen table and play. Sometimes, she wants to play with our Little People barn or one of our big Tonka trucks, but they're too big for her to get onto the table herself. She picks it up and tries to get it that high, but she can't do it, and by that point she's in such an awkward position that she can't put it down either.

That's when she starts calling out for me. "Help, help, help, help," she'll yell over and over until I come and take the toy from her and set it on the table.

We were like Edie. We had a burden too heavy for us to lift and impossible to put down. That burden, of course, was sin. Romans 3:23 says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." All. There is no one who can say they have never sinned, except Jesus. That's what makes it possible for Him to remove that burden of sin from us and set us free. Verse 24 goes on to say, "and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

That is the hope that came to us as a people when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. That is the hope still offered to so many who are struggling in their sin, not knowing or not willing to accept that Jesus came to take their burden.
Advent 2017 - Hope |
Without Jesus the entire human race was hopeless, without a way to escape from sin. But with Jesus? What hope we have!

November 29, 2017

QuiltCon Submission Quilts

I decided to submit two quilts for QuiltCon this year, for the first time. Actually, I had to join the MQG to even be able to submit, lol. I'm not sure why I had never joined before, but now I finally have 😊

The quilts I've submitted are Pinwheel Whirl and Medallion Magic. They're both entered in the piecing category.
Pinwheel Whirl quilt |

Medallion Magic quilt |
While I'm hoping they get in, obviously, I'm also keeping my expectations realistic considering all of the amazing quilts that have been rejected in years past. If nothing else, I'm now a member of the MQG and can take advantage of the webinars and other resources they have available. Are there any MQG webinars you especially recommend?

On another note, have you purchased the Handmade with Love bundle yet? If not, you can read more about it here, or see everything that is included and pick up your copy. The free Craftsy class is still available until the end of Thursday, November 30th and the whole bundle is available until Monday, December 4th.

Have you ever submitted a quilt to QuiltCon?
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