Friday, November 26, 2010

In the Season Live Interactive WebTV: Nov. 26, 2010

We had a great time on In the Season today!  Maria showed us some fabulous gift ideas and I talked a little bit about Advent and Hanukkah.  Advent begins on Sunday, Nov. 28th this year.  To figure out the date that Advent begins each year, first you need to see when Christmas Day is.  The closest Sunday before Christmas Day is the 4th Sunday of Advent and then you just count back from there.  O Come O Come Emmanuel is one of the commonly sung Advent hymns:
The word Advent means “coming” and it is a season when the focus is on preparing for Christmas.  The different parts of the Advent wreath symbolize different things.  It is usually a circle because circle is eternal like God’s love.  There are some churches that use a triangle shape instead to symbolize the Trinity.  The wreath is made of evergreens to remind us that God never changes.  Holly is often used as a reference to Jesus’ crown of thorns – the red berries representing the drops of blood on Jesus’ head.  Three of the candles are purple – purple is the colour of royalty and repentance.  One candle is pink – that candle is lit the third week and stands for Joy as Christmas is almost here.  Some people, like me, also use a white candle in the center as the Christ candle to be lit on Christmas Day, white signifying purity.  The candlelight itself reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world, especially during this, the darkest time of year.
I showed how to make a child friendly Advent wreath.  When I was teaching, kids always wanted to help light the candles on the Advent wreath but of course this could become dangerous.  They also liked to have their own wreaths and so I came up with this idea.  The main base of the wreath is a paper plate here but you can also just cut a circle out of a scrap of cardboard.  For each of the candles I used a toilet paper tube.  The tubes can be covered with tissue paper, construction paper, napkins (that’s what the purple ones here are covered with), felt, or fabric to name a few materials.  If you use fun foam or a fairly sturdy paper, you often don’t even need the tp tubes as those materials will stand in a tube shape on their own.  I’ve also had children paint or colour the tubes instead of gluing things on.  It partly depends on the age of the children you’re working with and what skills you’d like them to practice.  For attaching the tubes to the base, I found it helpful to “fringe” the bottom of the tube – making little 1/4 inch slits all the way around so you can bend those out into tabs.  This gives you a better surface than just the edge of the tp tube to put the glue on.  For this wreath, I cut out a bunch of holly leaves from construction paper but again there are many other possibilities.  With little ones, I often used green tissue paper that they could tear and crumple into small balls and then glue those on.  For older kids, I would give them a holly template and they could practice tracing around it and cutting out the leaves themselves.  Here, I’ve crumpled up little balls of red tissue paper as the berries but you could also let the children use a hole punch and punch out circles from construction paper.  The part the kids all loved best was that they could “light” their candles each week.  As you might be able to see in the picture, what I do is to tape the flames (cut out of construction paper – I made a flame shape but a plain old rectangle works too) inside each tube and then “tuck” the flames down inside.  When ready to “light” one of the candles, the child can merely pull the flame up out of the tube as you can see with the center candle.  For more tips and to see just how I put this all together, check out the playback of today’s show.
Hanukkah begins this year on Wed. Dec. 1st.  Now, I’m no expert in Jewish history so please if I make any mistakes here, feel free to correct me!  The word Hanukkah means dedication in Hebrew.  My understanding of Hanukkah is that it commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees were able to drive the Syrians out in 2nd century BCE.  Because the Syrians had been using the temple as their own, the temple needed to be rededicated to God.  This rededication meant relighting the eternal flame within the temple but there was only enough oil to keep it lit for one day.  Through God’s miracle, the flame remained lit for 8 days, giving them just enough time to press some more oil. Hanukkah is, therefore, an 8 day celebration.  A crucial part of each day’s celebration is the lighting of the candles on the Menorah.  A Menorah has 9 arms to it – one for each day of Hanukkah and the 9th one being the Shamash – the candle that is used with which to light the others.  A fun game often played at Hanukkah is Dreidel, a spinning top game.
Today I showed how  to make a simple Dreidel with your children.  This is just a cube made from a piece of construction paper with a bamboo skewer stuck through so that it can spin.  Please excuse the symbols on mine – I copied them the best I could!  The idea is that each person playing has some gelt (chocolate coins) and before each round, they each put in 1 or 2 into the center (kind of like putting in the ante when playing poker).  Then a person takes their turn at spinning and depending on which symbol lands face up, that directs them as to what they get to do.  For example, if they spin and get Nun – they do nothing and the turn passes to the next player (leaving the coins in the pot and adding another “ante”).  If they get Gimel, they take the whole pot.  If they get Hei, they take half the pot, and if they get shin, they have to put a coin in.  It’s a fun game and if you can’t find the Hanukkah gelt to use (it’s plentiful at party stores in my neck of the woods – as are wooden dreidels), you can always play with chocolate kisses or some other wrapped candy!  If you’d like to try this game with your family, here’s a link that will take you to a printable template for a Dreidel that’s similar to the one I made along with the symbols and instructions.
Here’s the playback link to today’s In the Season.  Check it out! We’re live every Friday at noon Eastern.  Come and join in the fun!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

In the Season Nov. 19, 2010

Here are the craft projects I presented on In the Season yesterday.  If you’d like to see the tutorials on how to make them, check out the replay link:
These ornaments are made from vintage wooden spools and vintage bottle caps.  I left them unpainted because I liked the natural wood showing through.  I used some scrapbooking paper scraps and images I had on hand here.  I have purchased image sheets from a variety of places but these are some of my favourites:
Teesha Moore (the image used on the blue spool is a Teesha Moore) (this site is currently being moved but they have some great images…I bought some CDs filled with images from them)
There are also a few free, copyright free sites that I like to use for images as well:
I’m sorry I can’t tell you specifically where I got the Madonna and Child image from.  It’s been in my computer for about 10 years and I just can’t find the source for it.
I also made snowflakes out of popsicle sticks (no I didn’t eat all these popsicles!…these are craft sticks purchased at Michaels).  The original instructions I saw someplace online last year called for using a protractor and measuring all the angles to be sure they were all 30 degrees but I’m more of a “wing it” kinda girl so I just eyeballed it.  If you look really closely, you can see that it’s not perfectly even but I think they look great anyway.  I’ll be making more of these and painting some blue, some white, and some silver to match my decor.  Glitter and rhinestones may also make an appearance.
The top snowflake is about 2 feet across and the smaller one is about 1 foot across.  They’re quite quick and easy to make and I think they’ll look really pretty from both the inside and out hanging in my big picture window in my living room.
Check out the video for all the details on how to make these projects:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mary Lou’s Angel

By Maria Nerius and the audience of “In the Studio with Maria Nerius”
Every once in a while we are visited by angels in disguise and our friend Mary Lou was one such angel. She shared her creative heart with all and her favorite craft project? Angels!
1/2 Yard of muslin washed
1 Yard purple ribbon
1 Yard pink boa
5” White boa
5” Silver star garland
1 Beaded flower (brad)
1 Purple glass butterfly bead
1 Pink heart button
Hot glue and glue gun
3-5 Tea bags and 1 gallon hot water
1 1/2” or 2” wood bead
Chenille stem
Place washed muslin into a tea bath (steep 3-5 tea bags in large bowl) and allow to soak for at least an hour, remove, rinse, and allow to dry. This gives the muslin an aged look. Along the bias of the fabric cut 1” into the fabric every 1/2". Rip along the cut marks to create long strips of muslin.
Arms. Take two of your strips and fold in half, then in half again, and one more time fold in half. You should have a length of around 5” in front of you. Measuring in 1/2" from each raw end, tie off with another strip of muslin (or ribbon) to create “hands”. Trim.
Body. With 12 more strips gather each at raw end and fold in half keeping your finger in the fold. Slide in arms and balance. Gather up under the arms and tie off creating the the top and bottom of a dress or body for the angel. Trim if desired. This is a very long angel, you can choose to add another fold to shorten her.
Head and hair. Glue wood bead to top of angel body at center. Loop white boa twice and secure with chenille stem, this is the angel’s hair. Glue to top of wood bead. Loop silver star garland twice and secure with chenille stem, this is the angel’s halo, glue to top of hair.
Wings. Looping a figure 8 twice with pink boa shape wings. Secure at center with chenille stem. Glue to back of angel’s body. Glue wings to back of angel’s body. Adhere a medium heart button to center of angel’s wings.
Finishing. Purple ribbon was tied at angel’s waste and trimmed. A beaded flower brad, with the brad removed was glued to center side of ribbon, then a purple glass bead butterfly was glued to side of flower. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Some time ago, we were chatting during In the Studio with Maria and asking what kinds of craft projects people would like to see demonstrated.  Mary Lou Makela brought up angels and several others joined in saying they loved and collected them.  Mary Lou was even involved in an angel swap so I promised I would share my ideas with her.  Unfortunately, she passed away the day before I was demo'ing them but in subsequent weeks, I did show how to make these on In the Season and am sharing them here now.

Autumn Angel

When I found a small box of pinecones among my craft supplies, I immediately saw that they would make great bodies for some Autumn themed angels.  For this one, I hot glued some silk Autumn leaves to the back of the cone to form her wings.  For her head, I wanted something that looked natural.  If I could have found any acorns in good shape, I might have used one of those but all I could find were the acorn caps.  So, I used a filbert instead.  For her hair/halo, I had some little silk fall flowers leftover from another project and glued one of these on top of the filbert.  Spanish moss makes for nice hair too and the colour goes nicely with the Autumn theme.  You could add a hanger to this and use it as an ornament or sit her in a basket with some pumpkins and gourds or other such fall items. I liked keeping this one faceless and not adding any arms to her but you certainly could if you wanted to.  How about spraying or painting the tips of the pinecone with white paint or glitter, using silk poinsettias (white would be really pretty I think) as her wings, and perhaps adding a sparkly chenille stem as her halo to turn her into a winter angel?

For this one, I used a small bell as her body/skirt.  A small bead (either with a face or not) becomes the head.  I found it was difficult to find beads that were an appropriate size to fit the body but had a hole large enough to fit over the top part of the bell (the little "handle" so to speak).  What I usually have to do is to insert some sort of an item (could be a craft knife or a sanding tool for example) into the hole of the bead and "gouge" it out to make it large enough to fit right over the top of the bell.  Another option is to glue it in front of the "handle" but that doesn't work with some of the slightly larger beads.  On this one, a little piece of wire was formed into a halo - you could also use some of that garland that has little stars on it or something similar.  When I made these with my students, some also added hair out of things like cotton balls or embroidery floss.  The wings are made out of a small piece of ribbon that was folded over and then gathered in the middle with a piece of wire - lace is another nice option.  These make for really cute little ornaments if a hanger is added or can be suspended from a chain for a necklace or have a pinback glued onto them to make them into brooches.  When I was teaching, I would give these each year to the classroom volunteers I had.  I attached a little slip of paper that said, "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.  Thank you for being our classroom angel."

Here's another one of my favourites.  Can you guess what these are made from?  The body is a piece of rigatoni.  The arms are pieces of macaroni, the wings are a piece of bowtie pasta, and once again, the head is a filbert.  A bead works for the head too.  These can be painted with spray paint (a good option if you're making lots of them) or acrylic craft paint (usually needs more than one coat though).  Again, moss can be a good option for hair but on the one on the left, I used tiny pasta that was labelled pepperini (one of the brands around here also just calls it "baby pasta").   On the one on the right I thought an acorn cap made a lovely little topper for her - kind of a natural looking halo but once again things like wire or chenille stems work well too.  Because her arms are curved they are ideal for holding little items like flowers or in the case of the one on the right, an apple, making it a cute gift for a teacher.  I assembled these with glue guns.  When I've made them with children, I made sure to use the cool glue guns or Aleene's Tacky Glue (just requires some holding time until they dry).  Again, hangers can be added to turn these into ornaments or pinbacks to make them into brooches.

Join us every Friday at noon Eastern for In the Season where we share ideas for celebrating the special occasions in life, both big and small.  On Facebook: OR on the web,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In the Season, Nov. 12, 2010

[caption id="attachment_52" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Real Maple Leaf Rosebud and One Made From Felt"][/caption]

On this In the Season show, I demonstrated how to make these pretty maple leaf roses.  Because on that day, the leaves were too wet and soggy for me to use, I showed the technique using leaves made of felt.  For the real maple leaf rose bud, I used 3 leaves but since the felt is so much thicker, I only used 2 of them for it.  The lovely thing about the real roses is that once you have made the roses, they will dry and take on some really pretty tones and textures.

I also showed how to make these whimsical paper pine cones.  I did them in brown tones so that they would be suitable for fall and Thanksgiving displays, but I can see them being really pretty in a Christmas print or a metallic paper.

The pine cones are made from paper, wire, and beads.  You can hang them like an ornament or perhaps a window decoration or I can picture them in a basket type display as well.

Although I didn't show the steps for making these, I did show an adorable little craft made from plastic needlepoint canvas.  For this one, I had made it into a Jack O'Lantern for Hallowe'en but there are lots of other possibilities.

You can attach a string to these to make them into ornaments, use a pin-back to turn it into a brooch, or even hang it from a cord as a necklace.  They are quick and easy to assemble requiring only three small pieces of canvas and some yarn (I added features with fun foam).  Attach a note to each one that says "Squeeze my cheeks and I'll give you a kiss."

When you squeeze on either side, it pops open like a little mouth is opening up.  Place a Hershey's kiss in there for a surprise treat!

Here are some links to some other versions of this but I would think it would be pretty easy to just come up with your own design for many items just like I did:

Kissing Mouse
Kissing Frog
Kissing Santa

If you'd like to check out the playback of this In the Season show, here's the link:

In the Season is every Friday from noon til 1 pm Eastern in the Creative EdVentures room. OR


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