For the Love of Books: Christmas

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Hey, y'all!  I'm just stopping in, with this month's For the Love of Books pick, a little earlier than usual, as I also wanted to share the fantastic list of children's Christmas books that grace our own library shelves, just in case you've still got a little shopping to do.  But before I get to that, I've got a seasonal treasure for you all.  It is written for children ages four to seven and beautifully illustrated in such precious, watercolored details.  It's also one of my favorite, Christmas stories for its tender and priceless lesson in humility.
Tallulah's Nutcracker, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger, is the story of a young ballerina, named Clara, who received the only Christmas present she really wanted, being picked to be a mouse in The Nutcracker for a real ballet company in a real theater.  Rehearsals took much of her time, and she didn't get "to go Christmas tree shopping with her family or catch the season's first snowflakes on her tongue."  She didn't even get to go to a holiday party, but she also didn't seem to notice.  She was too busy bragging about how busy she had been after getting picked to be a mouse in The Nutcracker.  On opening night, she didn't look elegant like a real ballerina.  "She was wearing a gray jumpsuit, ears, whiskers, and a tail... But she decided that it didn't matter."  She was going to dance as if she were the Sugar Plum Fairy herself.  When disaster strikes on stage, Clara is worried she'll never be a star; but a little encouragement, from some of the key professionals in the ballet, convinces Clara that "in ballet, embarrassing things happen all the time, but a REAL dancer keeps right on dancing."  And that's exactly what Clara did, right before she dodged her first snowball of the season.

Now, on to that list.  The last six have been added since last year.
  1. A Christmas ABC by Alice Gold
  2. My First Treasury: The First Christmas by Leslie Lindecker
  3. Nate the Great and the Crunchy Christmas by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
  4. The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs (LOVE all of Liz's parable stories!)
  5. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (a favorite of mine)
  6. The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola (another favorite of mine... It never fails to bring tears to my eyes, though.)
  7. Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki (yet another favorite of mine)
  8. The Berenstain Bears Trim the Tree by Jan & Mike Berenstain
  9. Clifford Celebrates the Year: Clifford’s Christmas by Norman Bridwell
  10. Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
  11. God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
  12. Winnie the Pooh: The Merry Christmas Mystery by Betty Birney
  13. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston (another one for which you'll need the Kleenex box)
  14. Dream Snow by Eric Carle
  15. Snow Happy to be Here: The Slightly Silly Story of the Snowblatt Family by Cheryl Hawkinson
  16. You Can Do It, Sam by Amy Hest
  17. The Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas by Anne Muecke (super fun music CD with it) 
  18. The Twelve Days of Christmas by Anne Geddes
  19. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (This one will always be a classic.)
  20. The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg (still another favorite of mine)
  21. The Snow Must Go On: A Way, Way Off-Broadway Adventure by Molly Wigand
  22. The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne (great history here)
  23. Merry Christmas, Curious George by Cathy Hapka
  24. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
  25. Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney (great rhyme)
  26. It's Christmas, David! by David Shannon
  27. The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt
  28. On This Special Night by Claire Freedman
  29. My First Read and Learn Countdown to Christmas by Mary Manz Simon
  30. Bear Stays Up For Christmas by Karma Wilson
  31. Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson (Adina's favorite)
  32. The Christmas Star by Marcus Pfister
  33. Charlie and the Christmas Kitty by Ree Drummond (Kaden's favorite)
  34. The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck (Ezekiel's favorite)
  35. Little Golden Book: Christmas Favorites
  36. A Very Marley Christmas by John Grogan (So glad we have a good dog ;)!)
  37. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert L. May
  38. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell! by Lucille Colandro
  39. Grace at Christmas by Mary Hoffman (Christmas is changed forever for a little girl reluctant to welcome strangers into her celebrations.)
  40. Tacky's Christmas by Helen Lester (Gotta love that Tacky!)
  41. A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz
  42. The Christmas Candle by Richard Paul Evans
  43. The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
  44. The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore (This is a Hallmark recordable storybook read by Ezekiel to Adina.  It was his gift to her for Christmas 2013.)
  45. Tallulah's Nutcracker by Marilyn Singer (such a tender lesson in humility)
  46. Home for Christmas by Jan Brett
  47. Disney's Mickey's Christmas Carol
  48. The Poky Little Puppy's First Christmas by Justine Korman (a Little Golden Book)
  49. The Animals' Santa by Jan Brett
  50. Santa is Coming to Kansas by Steve Smallman
  51. Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini
  52. The Legend of the Christmas Cookie by Dandi Daley Mackall
Thanks so much for reading!  I hope you found something here to give or add to your own bookcases this year.  We've already got a great start on our mission to, once again, get through every one of our titles before Christmas.  Wish us luck!  And have a truly blessed Christmas season!  Hugs!

Family Update

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Afternoon, y'all!  I just wanted to stop in and share a little of what's been keeping us busy lately, beginning with Thanksgiving.  We had plans to go to my parents' house to celebrate with them, as well as my siblings and their families; however, Kaden began running a 103 degree temperature late Wednesday afternoon.  It stuck around until the wee hours of the morning the Friday after Thanksgiving.  So, we stayed home; and although it was a last minute change of plans, we truly had a wonderful day.
We started the day with scrambled eggs, bacon, and homemade cinnamon rolls.  This pan was actually to take to my dad.  He requested them, but he'll have to wait for a fresh batch at Christmas.
My kiddos got to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on television, which we, literally, never get to do.  We're nearly always on the road traveling during it.  We also got to watch the lighting of The Plaza in the evening.  Some day, we'll brave the crowds and hop over to see it in person.
The rest of the day we spent relaxing... REALLY relaxing, which I cannot remember the last time we've done.  We've got to try it more often!  I even got to play in my studio for a bit, while Kaden napped and my big kiddos went, with my hubby, to see Moana.
Then, because we couldn't find any fresh turkeys, and there wasn't enough time to defrost a frozen turkey, I fixed Sour Cream Chicken; corn; mashed potatoes; traditional, green bean casserole; homemade rolls, which were heading to my parents' house with us; and a fresh salad for dinner.  It was pretty tasty for a last-minute, trying-to-make-use-of-what-we-had-on-hand kind of dinner.

We even rounded things off with a Carmel Pecan Pumpkin Cheesecake, which I had made, in advance, for Friday company.  Those plans, too, were thwarted due to the ickies; but we definitely weren't going to let dessert be wasted.
And before the day was through, my beautiful girl lost another tooth!
By the Saturday evening after, Kaden was feeling up for decorating the Christmas tree.  My big kiddos and hubby picked it out.  Then, while he napped, we strung the lights; and once he awoke, everyone helped trim the tree, beginning with new ornaments for my kiddos.
We don't have a lot of holiday decor.  Matter of fact, the bulk of it is our tree, as well as little, artificial trees for each of my kiddos to set up in their rooms; and the rest is a mixture of fresh and artificial greens strung throughout the house.  Thomas the Tank Engine joined the festivities again this year as well.  It just wouldn't be the same without his "Jingle Bells".
Ezekiel celebrated the end of another semester of homeschool band with his Christmas concert last weekend.  It was his first semester of Wind Ensemble and has been such a great and challenging start for him!  He got invited to join Jazz Band next semester; but with basketball, too, on top of Adina's activities and an outstanding hospital bill, our budget is a bit overstretched.  He's going to keep on playing in Wind Ensemble, though, and he's okay with that.
That covers things, for today, other than basketball practices; our studies; and all the other events, from Christmas programs and dinners to art projects and activities, all over the city.  It's a busy time of year, and I'm doing my best to keep my head above water.  I know that I'm not alone.  Thanks so much for checking in on us, and may your Christmas season be blessed!

November Recognition

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Evening, friends!  I meant to get in here much earlier in the day, but I'm hopelessly behind in all areas of my life.  That is, all areas, except for my children's education.  We're on track to complete our first semester before Christmas vacation, which is a first EVER for us.  Woohoo!  Doing so will make our time away from our studies much more relaxing, which is definitely something we all need.  Anyway, if it's okay with you, I'd like to share a few projects that received honors last month, with you all, today.  This page was named the October Fussy Cutting Challenge Winner at Picture This!  It also earned me the opportunity to guest design with their talented team next week for this month's Shapes Challenge.  So excited to play along!
This layout was the October Week 5 Fave at Let's Get Sketchy...
and this card was Claire's Pick for Top Cup at Sunday Stamps.  I cannot thank each and every designer, who had a hand in the above, enough.  What a treat it is to receive any acknowledgement for my work amidst the growing number of talented designers in the papercrafting industry.  I'm truly honored!
And thank you, to each and every one of you, for your visits, comments, and support of what I do!  I know that I say it all the time, but it'll never be enough.  It just wouldn't be the same around here without YOU.  Blessings, and sleep well!  XOXO

Pretty Little Studio: Apple Butter Gift Tags

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Note: This is my second post today.  Please be sure to scroll down and check out my previous, The Studio Sketch Challenge post, too.

Hey, y'all!  If you're a follower of my blog, you know that my family has a tradition of going apple picking every fall.  We then set aside a Saturday to turn our loot into dozens and dozens of pints of apple butter, which, other than providing us with a constant supply of delicious goodness throughout the course of the next year, become Christmas gifts for family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, our mailman, the trash men, etc.  I like to dress up those jars with a little, seasonal sparkle before they're gifted and thought, for my turn on the Pretty Little Studio blog today, that I'd share the ones heading to my hubby's place of work with you all.  Once again, I got my inspiration, for everything you see here today, from Heather Adams' new Holly Jolly Collection.  Enjoy!
As soon as I saw the Just for You Tags, I knew they would be perfect for my jars.  I started by popping each one up, with foam tape, off a slightly larger die-cut, from those fabulous, Christmas Confetti and Snowflakes Red Metallic prints, tag.  I cannot say enough good stuff about these metallic goodies.  They really bring the wow-factor to any project, and I'm super impressed with how well the shine stays put.  I then wrapped them up with a length of Baker's Twine, encircling the jar itself and tied, in a bow, through a red button, embellished with a couple of die-cut, from textured, Garden Green cardstock, holly leaves.  A tab, punched from our Gold Metallic Diagonal print and stapled to the left edge of the larger tag...
as well as a Gold Metallic Number Die Cut star, popped up with foam tape, and trio of Crystal 4mm and 8mm Sequins, completes the look.
There are 12 of those circular tags in the Just for You Tags package, and I used every one of them in the same way you see above.
However, I still needed a few more.  So, I reached for my Trim the Tree print; cut it down into a quartet of squares; punched their top left corners with a small hole; and added each one, with foam tape, to the same die-cut, metallic tags seen above.
They were laced up in the same way as above, too, with the exception of the Baker's Twine also being strung through an additional, skinny tag.  To create this tag, I cut short strips of white cardstock; topped them with a die-cut, from our Gold Metallic Diagonal print, tag topper; stamped them, in Jet Black ink, with the "SENDING HOLIDAY CHEER" sentiment; and punched their bottom edge to mimic the tag topper itself.
This particular jar got that peppermint square, topped with a "happiest of holidays" Magical Words Sticker, which I backed with white cardstock for durability and popped up with foam tape.
The other three jars were created in nearly the same way.  So, keep in mind the above details, and I'll just point out the differences.
This one got that little deer peeking out from behind the skinny tag...
as well as a "be merry" Remember Sticker.
This third one...
got a "holly jolly", paper square...
and different Remember Sticker.
And this fourth, or rather 16th, and final jar might just be my favorite.
It got a plaid, paper square, topped with Gold Metallic Number Die Cuts, as well as a "holly jolly christmas" Magical Words Sticker, treated in the same way as the other described above.
I know this was a long post.  Thanks so much for hanging in there, with me, until the end, friends!  I hope you've been inspired to create a few, Christmas tags of your own this week.  Thanks, as always, for humbling me with a visit!  Be blessed! 

{Supplies & Tools}
Stamps: Heartfelt Holiday (Wplus9) Paper: white (Recollections); textured Garden Green (SU!); Holly Jolly: Trim the Tree 8x8, Christmas Confetti Red Metallic 8x8, & Snowflakes Red Metallic 8x8 & Here Comes the Sun: Gold Metallic Diagonal 8x8 (PLS) Ink: Jet Black (Ranger) Other: foam tape (Scrapbook Adhesives); buttons (Papertrey Ink); staples & stapler (office supply store); Baker's Twine (Clean Country Paper Supplies); Hang Ups & Holly Confetti Cuts dies (Reverse Confetti); Timeless Tags 1 die (Wplus9); Big Shot (Sizzix); Upper Crest Border punch (Fiskars); Tab & 3/16" Handheld Circle punches (SU!); Here Comes the Sun: Gold Metallic Number Die Cuts, Summer Vibes: Crystal 4mm Sequins & Crystal 8mm Sequins, & Holly Jolly: Just for You Tags, Magical Words Stickers, & Remember Stickers (PLS)

The Studio Sketch Challenge

Morning, y'all!  A new month means our first bi-monthly challenge over in The Studio, and Anna has cooked up a lovely sketch to start things off right.  I flipped it to better showcase these pics of my sweet, little niece with her mom and dad.
I started this page by anchoring a large heart, Cameo-cut from a black, plus, patterned paper, to a woodgrain, patterned, base page, with gold-threaded, straight, machine stitching.  I then played with white gesso, watercolors, and Pure Black and Titanium White acrylic paints to create the background effect before adhering my photos, which were secured into a large, white, cardstock square.  The "Ada Rose" (my niece's name) title ended up fitting best in the bottom left corner of the photo grid and was created from chipboard Thickers.  A couple of stamped, in Jet Black ink, phrases...
turn our attention to the opposite corner of the grid.  All of the flowers, branches, and leaves were hand-cut from cut-apart prints and patterned papers.  Some of them were popped up with foam tape to create dimension, and others were secured fast to the base page.  A number of gold, leaf sequins were also tucked into the cluster; and a darling, deer die cut takes center stage amidst it all.  The "heaven sent" phrase was stamped, in Jet Black ink, on a cut-apart label and popped up with foam tape.
Those same flowers, branches, and leaves extend up the right side of the photo grid, past vertical center.  A "WEEK 1" die cut, embellished with a couple of chipboard hearts, tops it all; and a white-embossed on vellum and hand-cut butterfly...
directs us to the cluster at the top of the design.  Here you'll find another, smaller, vellum butterfly, as well as a butterfly die cut, amidst a heap more hand-cut flowers, branches, and leaves.  I also tucked a hand-cut, "celebrate" tab, as well as a "handle with care", phrase sticker into the mix.  A scattering of ivory and mint sequins, as well as a number of stamped, in Jet Black ink, bitty flowers, complete the look.
Here's your December Sketch Challenge to get you off and running in the right direction.
You have until Sunday, January 1, 2017, to link up your takes in the right-hand column of The Studio blog.  Be sure to stop by the challenge link above to see how the rest of my talented team was inspired.  Thanks so much for stopping by!  Have a blessed week, friends!  XOXO

{Supplies & Tools}
Stamps: Baby Basics (Market Street Stamps); Love You More, Fresh Cut Florals, & Flora & Fauna 1 (Wplus9) Paper: white & vellum (Paper Studio); black plus signs (Simple Stories); woodgrain (Citrus Twist); branches & blooms (Maggie Holmes) Ink: Jet Black (Ranger) Other: gold thread (Coats & Clark); sewing machine (Janome); foam tape (Scrapbook Adhesives); gesso (O'Leary Paint); Pure Black & Titanium White acrylic paints (FolkArt); white embossing powder (Zing!); watercolors (Kuretake); "WEEK 1" die cut (Maggie Holmes); chipboard hearts & phrase sticker (Pinkfresh for Citrus Twist); mint sequins, "celebrate" tab, leaf cut-aparts, & mint label (Citrus Twist); chipboard Thickers (American Crafts); Monarch & Lucky the Fawn die cuts (Pretty Little Studio); ivory sequins (The Ribbon Reel); gold leaf sequins (Jenni Bowlin); Basic Hearts cut file (Creative Scrappers); Cameo (Silhouette)