Snowflake or Chrismon Ornaments

 

I first came up with these snowflake ornaments a few years ago for a homeschool Christmas craft day. A year or so later, I needed to come up with some ideas for ornaments to make for a Chrismon tree at our church, and realized that they work well for that, too. Chrismons are “Christ monograms” and in some way represent Christ. They are always to be handmade and the only colors used are white and gold. The “x” looks like the first Greek letter in “Christ” and the “I” symbol looks like the beginning Greek letter in “Jesus.” Thus, a common winter-y symbol also becomes a symbol of Christ. There are lots of sites all over the internet with more ideas for Chrismons as well as information about the history of this tradition.

This ornament is great for groups because even the very smallest children can make them. For the littlest ones, I put a line of glue across one section of the ornament at a time and the child fills it up with macaroni, beans, buttons or whatever we are using. Older kids and adults sometimes get very elaborate (and manage their own glue, of course!) and make balanced patterns using a variety of shapes. Everything ends up looking nice! My daughter has also made some that look very pretty by simply painting the white ornaments with glitter glue.

The first step is to drill a hole in the top of a popsicle stick. It really is best to do this first and not when you’ve finished painting, as popsicle sticks are not made from great quality wood and some of them will split when you drill the holes. You can imagine how I learned this and the number of base ornaments I had to re-make as my beautifully glued and painted ornaments split :).

Next, glue two sticks together to make and “x” shape. I use tacky glue for this and have found that the store brand works just as well as the name-brand kind.

Let this dry and then glue on the third stick, the one with the drilled hole.

When the glue has dried, I paint them all white. For big groups, I usually spread them all out in my carport and spray paint them. When dry, turn them over and paint the other side. Sometimes, they will need a couple of coats of paint. At home with my own kids or with a group who will have more than one day available to finish these, I’ve let the kids hand-paint these as part of the crafting experience. I have one child who has always really, really liked to paint, so, especially when she was younger, I looked for many opportunities like this for her.

Now comes the fun part- decorating! I have used all sorts of things- beans and noodles, sometimes painted gold or white, glittery sequins, buttons. It’s worked well for me to have kids work on a paper plate. Then, when finished, I move the ornament to a fresh paper plate or some other place to dry if the first plate got very glue-y. Also, I usually pull the ribbon or string that’s used for the hanger through the hole before decorating, just in case the hole gets covered up during the decorating.

Whole Wheat Homemade Better Than Pumpkin Pie Cake

Last week, I saw a recipe being shared around the internet for Better Than Pumpkin Pie Cake.  It sounded interesting to me, but because of one of the ingredients was a spice cake mix and because we have family allergies to many ingredients in traditional cake mixes, I knew I’d have to either find an ultra-expensive “natural” cake mix or figure out a way to make it from scratch. 

I didn’t have time to experiment before Thanksgiving, but today, I came up with my own version.  I decided to take the dry ingredients of a basic cake recipe we use frequently, changing the flour to all whole wheat pastry flour, which I thought would add something to this recipe. I have a grain mill, so used fresh ground soft white wheat berries for this. I’m pretty sure that regular all-purpose flour would also work here if that’s what you prefer or what you have on hand.  I’m all for using what’s already on hand :).  I also used the spices listed in another recipe I have for a spice cake to make my own version of spice cake mix.  I used the rest of the recipe I’ve seen circling around the internet as written.  In my recipe, where “sugar” is mentioned, I used Wholesome Sweeteners Evaporated Cane Juice.  For the brown sugar, I used Wholesome Sweeteners Dark Brown Sugar.  I may experiment with using a bit less sugar on a future baking day, but didn’t want to change too many things the first time I tried this. 

Here’s my version:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt one stick of butter.

While that’s melting, mix together:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. allspice

½ tsp. ginger

Reserve one cup of this mixture.

To remaining cake mix mixture, stir in melted butter and one egg.   This will be very thick.  Pat this into a greased 9 X 13 inch pan- I used my hands. 

In the mixer bowl (I just used the same one), mix together:

1- 29 oz. can pumpkin

1- 5 oz. can evaporated milk (and a note- if you find you only have a 12 oz. can, like I did, you can use ½ cup plus 2 TBSP to get this amount)

3 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Pour this mixture over the first layer in the pan.

Now make the topping:

Mix together:

Reserved dry cake mix

½ cup sugar

½ cup nuts if desired (I didn’t use these as I didn’t have any, but I think they would be good)

Cut in:

½ cup softened butter

Sprinkle this over the top of pumpkin mixture.  Bake for 50-55 minutes.  Cool for 30 minutes. 

We thought it was good warm, but even better after it had been refrigerated.  A successful experiment!

Felt Stitched Ornaments

I enjoyed stitching the stars featured in this earlier post:

https://hinzpired.wordpress.com/2007/11/10/card-stitching/ 

After playing with stitching them on paper, I decided that I wanted to try to adapt the idea to fiber.  For the images shown here, I used the same pattern as in my earlier post.  I poked holes through the pattern and then taped it to a piece of felt. I then used a fine-tipped sharpie marker to make dots on the felt through the holes.

I couldn’t get a good picture showing the dots on red felt, but here is a picture of the dots on a white background:

As I began stitching, I realized the felt needed to be more rigid, so I pinned a piece of non-fusible heavy weight interfacing to the felt.  This is very easy to stitch through and gave me the added  stability I was looking for (Timtex is one brand name for this sort of interfacing).

I then followed the stitching pattern in exactly the same way as I did for the card-stitched images.  I did knot the thread rather than taping it.

After I finished the stitching, I cut the felt into a circle, making a matching circle for the back.  I trimmed the interfacing a bit so that it wouldn’t show.  I then used my sewing machine and a zig-zag stitch to sew the two circles together.  I stitched a length of thread through to make a hanger to finish the ornament:

Card Stitching

A few months ago, someone shared the link to stitchingcards.com with me. This company offers free patterns as well as patterns to purchase for stitching images on to cards. I liked the idea and started looking around on the internet for other string art patterns that I could use in the same way. I came across this scouting craft site: http://www.e-scoutcraft.com/string/star.html . I really liked the star and have used this pattern sized exactly as it appears on this site for the paper stitched stars shown above. I’ve also played with creating my own pattern in different sizes, with more dots, etc., using graph paper. (And a side note- I usually print out graph paper from this website: http://www.donnayoung.org/math/papers.htm)

Here are step-by-step instructions showing exactly how I used the e-scoutcraft star pattern to create an image stitched onto card stock.

Print out star image from e-scouting link listed above, or create your own. Tape lightly to a piece of card stock Re-positional tape would probably be a good idea, although I didn’t have any :).

Use a sewing needle or pin to poke holes through both pattern and cardstock. I placed my paper on a slightly firm couch pillow for this step.

Remove the paper pattern and then go back over the holes with the sewing needle you’ll be using, pushing it completely through to makes sure holes will be large enough.

Thread needle (I used crochet cotton as shown in the first picture-embroidery floss would probably also work)) and pull through the first hole as indicated in diagram. Tape thread end to back. Follow the thread pattern starting at hole one and moving to opposite side hole 6, then moving to hole two and stitching to opposite side hole 5 continuing until all holes in section are used. Here are some pictures illustrating this:

 

When complete the section it will look like this and you will then move on to the next set of holes and repeat the process until it is filled in.

Finish stitching the third set of holes in the same way. Your card will now look like this:

Now you will repeat the same stitches to fill in the open areas as shown here:

Continue stitching until all areas are filled in and tape thread to back to finish.

These stitched stars can then be used in many ways- add frames and make them into cards, ornaments or whatever else you can think of. I’ve come up with a version sewn onto felt that I’ll post about soon.

Paper Star Ornaments Part 2

For part one,click here

After both sides are coated with glue, insert shorter piece inside longer piece. It should look like this:

Continue gluing remaining pieces:

Now, all of the pieces will be glued together. Apply glue to top of folded piece, as shown here:

Place next piece on top of glue. It should look like this:

Continue until all pieces have been glued together. Star should now look like this:

Now, apply glue as before and pull other side around to make a star shape. The star should now be completely formed as pictured here:

Make a hole in the top for hanging.  I used a hole punch:

Add some ribbon or thread for hanging and the star is finished!

I’ve enjoyed experimenting with different colors of paper, stamping on paper, adding words, etc. Try different numbers of segments, adding glitter or whatever else you can think of!

How to Make Paper Star Ornaments

I came up with the idea for these star ornaments a couple of years ago after seeing some instructions for making a star book. They are very simple to make. Last year my daughter and I made a bunch of them and hung them up in our front window from the beginning of Advent until Valentine’s Day.

Here are the step-by-step instructions:

Supplies needed are simply pieces of cardstock , a glue stick, and ribbon or thread for hanging.

First, cut cardstock into 1 inch wide strips. These strips will then be cut into pieces that are 4 inches tall and 3 inches tall. You will need a minimum of 5 pieces of each. The ornaments pictured above used 6 pieces for the left ornament and 8 for the one on the right. When I prepared these for a large group, I was able to have a college print shop cut up an entire ream of cardstock for me into these sizes with some fancy cutting machine that they have. I suspect that other print shops have something similar.

 

After the paper pieces have been cut, fold all of them in half.

Then, take the longer pieces and apply glue with the glue stick to the last half-inch or so as pictured here:

Apply glue to opposite side, as well.

For Part Two, click here