Shoe box fun

Operation Christmas Child ~ How to Pack a Shoe Box ~ By Bubblegum Sass

Last year, hubby and I put together a couple of shoe boxes to donate to Operation Christmas Child. We also had the immense pleasure of volunteering one evening down at the processing center in Calgary. So amazing to see the amount of donations that come in and to think about the number of children this programs reaches around the world! So when it came time to start thinking about filling shoe boxes again this year, we decided that we wanted to do several more. We’re blessed to be expecting our own child and I know that he/she will always have gifts to open at Christmas and birthdays. It was one of those moments where you realize that simple acts on our end can really bring joy to a child across the globe, so we set out to fill our boxes. I thought it would be nice to share some of the things we tend to put in the boxes, in case others are looking for ideas (it will also help me to remember for future years). Nothing too incredibly ingenious, but it’s amazing how much you can fit into a shoe box, so the more ideas the better:

Ages 2-4

  • Washcloths
  • Bars of soap
  • Combs/hairbrushes
  • Stuffed animal or doll
  • Big chunky crayons
  • Colouring book or notepad
  • Stickers
  • Board books/picture books
  • Hard candies (which may or may not be the best, given the choking hazard)

Ages 5-9

  • Wash cloths
  • Bars of soap
  • Combs/hairbrushes
  • Crayons
  • Pencil crayons
  • Pencils
  • Sharpener & erasers
  • Stickers
  • Notebooks
  • Stuffed animal
  • Small musical instruments (harmonica, whistle, etc.)
  • Hair ties and accessories (for girls)
  • Hard candies

Ages 10-14

  • Wash cloths
  • Bars of soap
  • Combs/hairbrushes
  • Pencil crayons
  • Pencils
  • Sharpener & erasers
  • Notebooks
  • Stickers
  • Small musical instruments (harmonica, whistle, etc.)
  • Hair ties & accessories (for girls)
  • Hard candies
  • Sewing Kits (A couple spools of thread, a hand sewing needle pack, small bag of colourful buttons, assortment of ribbon, grosgrain, webbing, small squares of fabric)

We’re hoping to volunteer again this year at the processing center and I will try to remember to jot down notes on good ideas for shoe box gifts. Sadly forgot to do that last year and there was so many good ideas that people had!

What types of things do you like to put into your shoe box donations?

Samaritans purse banner

And so it begins

Festive Hot CocoMy first craft fair of the season is this weekend! I can’t believe it’s already here! My hands have been busy working away on crocheting scarves, but little time has been spent on sewing up more coin purselettes or working on the other seasonal products I had in mind. Gotta go back to the “Keep it Simple” rule for now. This week I need to get all the new scarves tagged, stamp shopping bags, figure out a lovely seasonal display, etc… you know, all those other things that are key to the craft show experience.

There is one new item that I’m excited about… scarflettes for kids (and possibly babelettes). I revamped my scarflette design to keep all those small necks cozy this winter. I haven’t tried it out on a baby/toddler though, so I’m not sure if I still need to come up with a third size that is slightly smaller. None the less, excited to be able to offer this new product!

If you are keen to start your Christmas shopping early or just want to come check out some great local arts & crafts, come by the Bowness Christmas/Fall Craft Fair this Saturday, October 22nd. The show runs from 9am-4pm in the Main Hall of the Bowness Sportsplex. I’m really excited about this show because I grew up in Bowness and my parents still live there. Plus my hubby lived in Bowness for a number of years too (his dad even owned the Bowness Hotel for a while). We’re truly Bownesians at heart! It will be awesome to support this local show! Oh yes, and did I mention that my crafty buddy Kalen of minibytes will also be in attendance, as well as a couple other fellow Etsy team members? Should be a fun day!

PS – If you haven’t already noticed, I added an Events page on the site if you’re interested in seeing the various shows I’ve got lined up. I’ll keep posting about them here too, but if you’re a die hard craft show shopper, you can come up with a schedule for the whole season and never have to step foot in the mall.

Santa’s workshop revealed

Christmas StockingNow that the gift-opening flurry is mostly complete (we have a couple of stragglers still in Europe that have presents waiting their return), I can share some of the things that got made up this year. The most important of course, was that our kitty Chloe was graced with a Christmas stocking. It’s not like she’s a new addition to our family, but for some reason we generally overlook her at Christmas. My mom, never fails, gives Chloe a Christmas gift. We, on the other hand, are rarely in our own home Christmas morning and thus, don’t get to open gifts with Chloe too often. This year I was determined to include her. I cheated a bit by purchasing a plain ready-made stocking from the craft store because the first chance I had to work on it was on the 24th. Cutting it close, but it did get nicely decorated, if I do say so myself. Just a bit of felt, some buttons, and embroidery thread. Voila!

Sugar Skull Coin PurseI had a very special request for these coin purses from my sis-in-law. I made her a coin purse out of that sugar skull fabric a few years ago and she has loved it into the ground. So I was happy to make up a replacement one for her. There’s still a bunch of that fabric kicking around which I fully intend to make into a sassy apron one day… one day. My sis-in-law also recently discovered that her Canon Powershot S90 fits perfectly into my coin purses. So a second one was sewn up for use as a camera cozy. That’s the same camera that I use, by the way (for those curious what my blog photos are taken with).

Crochet ScarfThere were two crochet projects undertaken for Christmas gifts this year. One is still in progress. Yes, I realize that Christmas has passed, but like I said, there are a couple of folks in Europe who won’t be back until the New Year, so that’s a whole extra week of crafting. That project is still under wraps, but I can share the second crochet item with you. It was a scarf for my mom. The pattern is just something out of my head. Not too complicated. Some single crochet, some treble crochet, and some scalloped edging that I winged. It’s nice and long. I was worried that I had made it too long by the time I was finishing it up, but I was told by a couple people that a scarf can never be too long. Especially, here in Canada. Anyway, it should keep her nice and warm. It’s made out of some Lionbrand Homespun yarn.

Hand-dyed prayer flagsHand-dyed prayer flagThe last bit of Christmas gift making were sets of hand-dyed prayer flags. I spent one Saturday dying fabrics in the basement (just with that cold water dye stuff). I used various bits of fabric that I had stashed in the sewing room, including some cotton that I had previous rusted. Those pieces ended up being some of my favourite out of the whole project. I have a stack left over too, which I can either make into a strand for us to hang or I could sew up some coin purses.

I feel like there’s a lot to catch you all up on. Big boxes of new yarn, the death of my herb garden, and book reviews. Oh, and I celebrated the big 3-0 yesterday. Must do more blogging.

Hoping that you had a lovely Christmas and are recovering from the sugar-overload!

Santa’s workshop

Christmas tinsOur house felt a lot like Santa’s workshop this past weekend. There was so much “making” going on in in the basement, the kitchen, the dining room, and the sewing room. And it was just the two of us. I’m so very thankful that we have the space to do so much in our home. I can’t imagine trying to do it all in our old apartment! There would a lot more swearing, chaos and ruined carpet. With our home though, we can keep the dangerously messy task of dying fabrics contained in a section of undeveloped basement, leaving hubby the entire kitchen for his “making”. Some of my “making” is still in progress, but the result of hubby’s is in those lovely tins. Aren’t those simple paper tags so sweet? That’s all him. Quick sketches on kraft paper, backed by an art degree.

Tissue wrapped giftsWe have regularly made gifts for Christmas, sometimes out of need because money was tight, and sometimes just because we love making things for our family and friends. There has generally still been bought presents in amongst those handmade gifts though. This year we have been thinking and talking a lot about gift giving, in particular, for Christmas. I have become a lot more conscious of, well, everything this past year. Spent time questioning how much of the super consumerist world I want to get entangled with, what’s healthy and what’s not, and what really matters. There have also been lots of conversations about how we would like to raise our children. In reflecting about how we celebrate Christmas, we have a strong desire to simplify the gift giving. Some of our thoughts were nicely expressed in Leo Babauta’s post “The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents“. So we hope to cut back on the amount of gifts that we receive from others and eventually move to gifts of “time”, especially with family. As for hubby and I, we want to move to only making gifts for each other. No bought things. We didn’t really come to this decision until after we had each bought items for each other this year, but we’re excited to do this next Christmas.

As for the Christmas “making” that I undertook this year, I can show you a sneak peek, but the rest will have to wait until after folks receive their presents (as some of them may be reading this). I am enjoying the colourfulness of everything! So typical of me to point out the colour, isn’t it? Anyway, the gift making is a nice mix of crochet and sewing projects with tie-dye thrown in there. Most of the Christmas crafting was put on hold until after the big craft sale, so I’m now working diligently to get everything finished up in time. Lucky for me, my brother and his wife are away for Christmas, so that’s two gifts I can complete after Christmas while I have some time off work. Now I just have to figure out when I’ll sneak some baking into the week.

Red, yellow, green blue dyed fabricsCrochet scarfCrochet sock in progress