paper crafts

Our Wedding | Invitations

"open in the name of the king!
an urgent message from his imperial majesty"
cinderella receives an invitation to the ball
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Call me "Georje Bahnks, Georja BAHNKS," because I feel like I'm walking through my allegorical wedding "mess."  Cue the fizzing champagne bubbles.  "I used to think a wedding was a simple affair."    As thrilled as I am to be living as a wife and as happy as I am about the great adventure of life before us, I can't help but play through our last few days of engagement and our wedding day.  We had a truly wonderful time planning our wedding.  The hardest week, was also the fastest week, and was also the last week ;)  I love being a wife more than being a fiance' or bride, but I loved both of those roles.  In every way.  
So now?  As I wait to see my own wedding pictures from Shannon, I'm going to unveil little bits of our day.  Today is our invitations!  I talked about our wedding inspiration in the spring and I'm thrilled with how our ideas turned into real products we could touch and keep.  Here's a little refresher on the feel we were hoping for (that whole playful-yet-royal, childlike-yet-elegant vibe? Remember?):
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We made our invitations ourselves, and I knew exactly what I wanted them to look like (well, almost exactly.) I designed the invitation-wording in photoshop.  I can't tell you how many slim sans-serif fonts I looked through!  And as much as I would have loved to have hand-calligraphed invitations, I found a very budget-friendly solution!  Calligraphy by Hilary hand wrote our names and then sent me the jpeg file over e-mail.  I loved having custom handwriting (instead of a script font) - it felt very Cinderella to my heart ;)  Two colored card stock squares and thread finished off these babies!
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She also hand wrote and then made a stamp with our return address.  This was also so nice because we didn't have to worry about printing on the letterpress envelopes and something feels satisfying and old-fashioned about stamping from ink pad to paper!
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The inner envelope was a spanking gold vellum with confetti-glitter band.  Double sided tape for the win. (Special thanks to my new mother-in-law for hand punching all the confetti for me!)
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The final product!
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We ended up using five or six different colors of card stock.  I couldn't make up my mind and just pick two! Haha!
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A close-up of the stamp.  When it went well... it went really well.  When it was messy, it was REALLY messy.  I don't even want to know how many envelopes we had to toss ;)
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A few thoughts (tips? lessons?) if you make your own wedding invitations:

1 // Have my friends.   
Starting with Caleb, then to my mother, then to my Aunt Pam and Becca, Janet, Lydia, Katie... they helped, worked, tied, cut, counted and breathed these into existence.   It got a little frustrating at times (printer formatting, blade-breaking, wrong measurements, etc), but the crew didn't give on me!
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2 // The details are worth it.
Once we started the project we weren't sure if we had to have the bow.  Or if we had to include the gold glitter.  But I'm so glad we pressed on and did those extra steps... even at 11:30 pm in a Florida hotel room the night before my entire family moved back to Maryland.  I wish I had planned better?  But I don't wish we had skipped the "little things."  I love how they added to - possibly even made! - the whole look.
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3 // Buy your own paper, but let someone else print and cut it.
Unless you have a commercial printer, heavy duty paper cutter and warm comfort food on hand, I do not suggest doing this part yourself.  After a few days of printing/cutting, uh...haha, fun?, I finally took the invitation file and white card stock over to FedEx office.  An hour and $12 later everything was perfectly cut and crisply printed.  I should have done that from the start.  The paper there is a little pricey, however.  So go do your good amazon.com or coupon/sale/deal hunting and bring your paper to them.  So worth it.
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4 // Have fun with the wording.
I loved writing out the invitation and choosing the words very carefully.   Joyfully.  Celebration.  Respondez S'il Vous Plait.  I say: say what you want to say, not what "the websites" tell you to say.  Does that make sense?  Use words you love and make it your own.  I say.  You say.  We all say for ice-cray!
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5 // Invite me to your wedding.
I just love weddings - more than ever.  So I want to come.
;)

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I was so pleased with how these turned out.  Especially because I think they complimented the other paper goods (the bridesmaids books, the programs, the table cards) but they also gave such a perfect introduction to our wedding.  And after all his grumpy, doting dad-ness, George was right: getting married is a NOT the same as "having a wedding."  And we girls do love our weddings... and the perfect "welcome" to the wedding really matters sometimes.

Enjoy Project | Making Things | Memories + Food + Books

"we ate well and cheaply, 
and drank well and cheaply,
... and loved each other."
ernest hemingway | a moveable feast    
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(I think I need this for our new "married" house, come August.  It's exactly what I hope our marriage will be.)

For our one year anniversary last month I finally became an official girlfriend/fiance'.  I made a memory book. Everyone knows that the sign of true love is a memory book.  And homemade gift certificates (for things like back rubs, long hugs, homemade meals and "one-watch-whatever-movie-you-want!")  But we did gift certificates aaaaaages ago.  One Year of Together seemed liked the perfect time for this book!

The cover was all cool and trendy and modern and "whoa" with our first yellow-pink plastic spoon combo.  The first time we got frozen yogurt we used these spoons.  It's tradition now! 
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Then I had to do a collage.  Because.  Doing 213 of them in middle school just wasn't enough.  
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This page is from December 2010! How has it gone so quickly?Photobucket
I can't wait to tell this part of the story...
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And this part of the story!
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I can't wait to use this idea again!  Wrapping presents in pages from travel magazines? Uuuh, so fun.
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CalebCaleb loved it.  Now we can really get married ;)
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The next three pictures are just for the joy of food.  Go make Smitten Kitchen's Roasted Buttermilk Chicken.  And then eat it on your deck.  Or sidewalk.  Or roof.  Or at least near a window.  It's the good life.
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Last month I made mini-cheesecakes.  I asked Caleb to put the berries on top.  I was expecting maybe a strawberry on one, three black berries on another, something like that?  Or art.  My little Cheescake Angel.  Bless his heart.
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Lastly, a sweet lady named Lori e-mailed a picture of her gorgeous daughter with the cinnamon pull-apart bread I made in March.  (Remember how neat and orderly I was?)  Lori's e-mail made my day!  And I couldn't help but show you all, too!
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So I guess this post can really be all tied together with the above pin: "We ate well and cheaply, and drank well and cheaply... and loved each other." Such a good life.  

Enjoy Project | Making Banners

β€œwhat day is it?"
"it's today," squeaked piglet.
"my favorite day," said pooh.

aa milne  

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Before Janet had Edith there was a darling and refined Favorite Things Party thrown in her honor.
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Eight ladies enjoyed peach fizzy drinks, tilapia, quinoa with beans, and oven-baked green beans.  I felt like such a lady.  
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If you've never heard of a Favorite Things Party, let me introduce you!  Eight woman. Those eight women bring seven gifts each.  (My seven gifts were in the butterfly boxes! I gave some marker pens I adore.)  There is usually a price range of about $10 each gift ($70 total).  At the party, each woman gives her seven gifts away, and then receives seven new gifts!  It's like a grown-up white elephant meets Oprah's Giveaways.  You can see white serving platters in the picture - I love mine! And I also got a new chopping knife, some pretty darn cool soap, a reusable shopping bag, and more!  Each woman gifts one of her daily-life "favorite things" so everyone leaves with treats! Fun idea, huh?
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For today's "making things" post, I have to give props to Becca (the host of the shower/party) for her banner idea.  Flag bunting has kind of had it's day (in my opinion), so I'm always on the lookout for new banner/garland ideas.  Becca punched different colored craft paper with a nice big paper punch. She then stitched them together with a sewing machine! I was impressed ;) It'd be fun to get creative with different shapes and layering styles and colors! Oh my!
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I wish I could just take home an Edith. I am so in love.
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Enjoy Project | Making Gift Boxes

success is fickle, but creativity is a gift.
tommy shaw
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Haaallloooo friends near and far!  Though today's project was technically a Valentines gift, I cannot wait to use the idea again on client packages, birthday presents, baby shower gifts, and more!  Wouldn't it be fun to write out a new baby's name?  Or a couples' initials?  Or one word you think just "fits" the occasion? I'll answer that: Yes, it'd be fun. You can obviously use as many or as few boxes as you need, for any occasion under the sun!  Heck, you can make one and send it to me for no darn'tootin reason at all! BECAUSE FUN IS ALWAYS FUN, not just on special holidays.  A'right.  Let's get it on like Donkey Kong.  To start with you need to print out letters and cut them out very, very carefully.  
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Next, you tape the letters onto your gift boxes (I bought 50 square boxes online... You can pretty much get these anywhere).  I used painters tape (the blue or green kind) so that it would be easy to pull the letters off and they wouldn't rip or shred the boxes. Press the corners down hard!
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And then spraaaaay awaaaaay!  This literally took 11 seconds.  So easy.  If you wanted to tape along the sides of the boxes with painters tape, I'm sure that would look beautiful.  I didn't because I'm lazy and dumb.  
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After the spray paint has dried for 15 minutes or so, peel the letters off!  And wa-la!  I used chalkboard spray paint... but I think you can use whatever kind you want.  I think?  I didn't try.  Because I'm lazy and it was really cold outside.  
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This part of the project is a take-it-or-leave-it part ;)  I wrote a word with a chalk pen (the kind they use at Starbucks or for menu boards at restaurants) that described my man starting with the letter on the box.  Inside the box was a little gift that went along with that word.  Somehow it really wasn't complicated... it seems trickier now that I'm typing it!
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To contrast the dark and simple exterior, I wanted the insides of the boxes to be like exploding fireworks in a dark moonlit night! (Too much...? Yeah.)
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Okay, so one of his "O" words outside the box was "Oh-so-kind!" (which is fully cheating, but YOU try to come up with a word starting with O that describes kindness!). Octopus on the oven (I'm trying to set a world record for "O" usage in a paragraph.  Oliver.)  Inside the "Oh-so-kind!" box was his favorite candy bars, so he'll "Stay Sweet!" Candy is sweet, sweet is kind, I'm kind and give him candy - it really all works so well. Oprah is at the opera in Oklahoma.
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I filled these boxes up by paying next to nothing.  Many of the items were either free treats in my gift box at Alt Summit (like the black SquareSpace beanie, canned Izze, and other items) or were bought using gift cards from Alt Summit (I got a free $20 gift card to PinHole Press just for attending their mini-party!) He also got a wooden pocket knife with his name engraved on it that I bought in Park City during the Sundance Festival for $9.  Add some ever necessary mints and gum (come on, we ARE dating after all), cheap disposable cameras for a new date-night activity and a hand-written letter, and he really had it pretty good!  Even though his girlfriend is a cheapskate ;) (He instagrammed all of his goodies if you want to see)
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(I was pretty proud of my other O word: over-the-top.  He is one of those people who has to go above and beyond in everything he does, he's not satisfied unless an idea is the very very best it can be.  Basically, he's a perfectionist to the core.  So his gift inside "over the top" was a blank PinHole Press notepad where I encouraged him "to stay dreaming!" I love all of his grand, nearly-impossible dreams.)
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Turned out better then I expected!
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To make sure the boxes didn't empty themselves during transportation (a friend hid them for me in his basement apartment), I tied these babies up with peach string!  Which was two tons of total fun in and of itself.
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Fun, huh? :)

Enjoy Project | Making a Valentine's Banner

"a life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, 
but more useful than a life spent 
doing nothing.”
george bernard shaw


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Well, folks.  Today I come to you from the pits of a creators despair.  The grand idea, the motivated and patient effort, the setbacks that don't phase, the setbacks that make you a *little* frustrated, the setbacks that make you walk away and nearly scrap the idea all together, the hope of a new take at the project to keep it alive... and then... yeah... you just stop.  I am committed to posting according to schedule everyday but this is not my favorite thing I've ever made ;)  
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I think the whole thing went wrong when I had an idea (that I STILL think could work!) and I had free fabric samples (from the Alt Summit gift box! Woohoo!), and I forced the two to work together.  I should have just used a different material from the start.  I should have saved the fabric for a different project.  Oh well.
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The original idea was to cut out letters, so as to leave the negative space of the fabric, and have the wall color show through the letters (it looks kind of cool on the wood, right?!).  I wanted to create a vertical banner because, as much as I think bunting and long banners are cute, they are quite done these days ;) And I thought I was perhaps being a little different in going a different direction! Literally.
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Well, after about three hours, hot glue guns, irons, flopping letters, cardstock, paint pens, and a sad sad Kristen I called this project quits and will try again a different time.  I need to use either felt or cardstock... something sturdier than cotton fabric.  I also need my Craft Angel to cut out the letters for me with his sturdy, perfectionist hand.  I feel like this ended up being a fine.  Not cute.  Not whimsical.  Not fresh.  Not modern.  But if you feel like you could take elements and make it work, I'd love to hear tips!  And I am going to give this a whirl some other day with the proper materials.  

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In the meantime, I refuse to let this post be a debbie-downer today! SooOoo I decided that "making memories" counts as "making things"... Can I get an "amen!"?  Last Friday, when mistermisterchickendinner arrived home from a three-week absence we had a lovely date day.  He arrived at my house around 5:21 am (around...) and we stayed up until 7 am.  He finally needed to get some sleep (so did I... it's very tiring blow-drying your hair at 2:30 am).  After a looooong nap until 10:00 am we headed out to Great Falls, Virginia.
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There were only a scattered few runners and tourists there, so we for all intents and purposes had the place to ourselves.  So we taught ourselves how to waltz on the "dance floors" (look out points). And we took pictures. Here is proof:
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I told him that this was my artsy picture of the day.  He is responsible for the first picture of this post, which is clearly more artsy than my shot.  He told me he could take over my business as an artist if I needed. 
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Afterwards we drove around Potomac, Maryland and gasped at the mansions.  I'm sure nobody knew that the two blondies in the scraped up Corolla weren't Potomac natives.  We blent in seamlessly.  After we were fully inspired and mentally broke, we headed into Washington DC.  (Don't worry about it: Virginia, Maryland and then DC all within a couple of hours. We get around.)
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I wanted to take a picture of us in the city.  It went something like this:


He: You need to update your phone so you can take a picture with the side button.
Me: I know, I know, I know. I will. But I can't now.
*click*
Me: Alright you're not looking at the camera. Let's try again.
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He: Kristen, this is seriously hard to do.  Let's use my phone. It's updated. 
Me: Make sure you look at the camera this time!
*click*
Me: Were you looking at the camera?!
He: I was TRYing to! But it's hard to take a picture with this dumb phone! And the sun is in my eyes! I'm shielding you like a man.
Me (reviewing the last picture): Oh, oops, okay, camera is still on.
(scroll through last two pictures)
He: YOU are a hypocrite! YOU weren't looking at the camera!
Me: Because it takes you thirteen months to push a button!
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He: Turn this way, the sun doesn't hurt my eyes.
Me: Excuses.
(He was right.)
*click!*
He: Aw, that one is good!
Me: No, it's not... The Red Guy from The Wiggles is walking into my head.
(He doesn't know what The Wiggles are because he grew up TV-less, so he ignores that comment.)
He: Alright, let's try one more time. Kiss on the cheek?
Me: (apparently really not down with that idea?) No.
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We gave up on the perfect picture because Founding Farmers reservations were encroaching.  So we went, studied the menu like a mid-term outline, photographed our food, devoured our food, discussed our food, took home our unfinished food, picked food out of the box, paid and cancelled our plans for the rest of the night (including skipping a couples seminar at church to stay home and watch The Bachelor on Hulu).
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On our way to the car I made more art:
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It was an add for Vodka.  But you'd never know it.
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And then I made my final masterpiece of the day: A complicated sunset landscape of the ethereal Mormon temple on I-270.  Don'tcha wish your girlfriend was skilled like me? Don'tchaaa?
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Go make something.  Even if it's stinks.  Because memories are better than perfection.

Christmas Crafts {Personal}

he puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. 
then the grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 
maybe Christmas, he thought, 
doesn't come from a store. 
maybe Christmas, perhaps,
means a little bit more
how the grinch stole christmas | narrator
--


He is an Angel.  Or at least that's His nickname around here.  All my friends love to tease Him for His super conservative personality, over-the-top honest and kind ways, and His naive precious demeanor.  They joke "don't taint the Angel's wings!"  Sometimes when we are all hanging out and He's sleepy everyone calls Him "Baby Angel."  Ladies and Gentlemen, we have entered a new season of nickname-ness: The Christmas Angel.  This handsome mister I am dating is obsessed with Christmas.


And since this is his first Christmas away from his homeland, I want it to be super-definitley-marvelously wonderful for him.  Beginning the day after Thanksgiving I've planned one Christmas activity per day.  We'll see if I can actually pull it off.  Since this blog has been a bit on the lonely side since He came along, I decided to show you some of our Christmas fun!


The 8mm Video App and ReelDirector App changed my life.  At least my video shooting and editing life.  We've been driving nearly every other Sunday to spend the day with some of our favorites, the Shorey/Baxter clan.  Elizabeth (Shorey) Baxter had her first baby a few days ago.  We spent the day driving, singing Christmas carols, talking, eating, watching football, holding a little guy, Muppet-ing and enjoying each other.
Then we got into craft mode.  I saw these yarn-wrapped letters on Pinterest a while ago.  I had the blessed idea to do this with a short holiday word.  Good idea, huh?
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No. These letters were Christmas Purgatory - temporary and unusual punishment.  Word to those who think this looks fun: Use sans serif wooden letters.  Those horrible, terrible, curvy serifs really make your  throat tighten and pits warm up.  He saved the day with His newfound crafting skills - but it even took Him over two hours to complete just the N.  Boo to serifs. Booooo.
(This lady, however, took a different approach to serifs.  Might be worth a shot?)
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Thankfully neither of us were ruined for yarn-wrapping crafts. These yarn wreaths have been all over the inter-webs and homes the past few years.  I decided to go ahead and make my first one.  SO easy.  So great.  Love it.
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What could be better then a big wreath? Mini wreaths! Made out of shower curtain rings! These are actually fast to make, the options are endless, they are darn-tootin' adorable, and they make great Christmas ornaments!  We just had a ball working on them.
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When you buy yarn and you can't knit, you must do something with it.  I spotted some cute yarn trees made from styrofoam cones a while back.  Even a gorilla could make these.  By far the easiest and fastest craft yet.
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Happily I did experiement with a different textile: feathers! This photo caught my attention and I loved the little white, fluffy tree on the right side of the table.  I just hot-glued white feathers to the tree, sprayed some adhesive onto the feathers and shook glitter all over it! Eets maaaagical.




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On the fluffier side of things, I modified a pom wreath to make my own version!  I probably would have chosen to use the same size ball-puffs, but my local craft store only had bags with many sizes.  I still how it turned out, though I would like to try to copy the "original" again sometime.  This was also easy: hot glue, styrofoam wreath and fuzzy balls! (Restraining my inner Michael Scott...)
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Aaaaaand now we come to the best part.  We are only at the very beginning of this "doing something Christmas everyday" event and I've already used my Hail Mary.  We both got home on the later side of an evening because I had a basketball game (I coach in the winter).  My mind was buzzing with all things time-out, full-court press, foul trouble and winning.  When we got back to my house He said "What Christmas thing are we doing tonight?!" with His adorable, cheerful, eager voice.  Oh snap.  I forgot to prepare for the craft tonight. Shoot. "Let me run upstairs and change! Then I'll show you the special, exciting, um, awesome craft for tonight."  In my room I grabbed a bag of popsicle sticks, hoping for success though I knew the chances were small.  Popsicle sticks.  Jeez.  What a holiday wizard I am.  Poor boy.  He's used to multiple Christmas trees, home baked goods almost nightly, cozying up around the fire place and pretty ornaments.  Not popsicle sticks (plus a few scattered clothespins).  But it's all I had and I needed this for the win.  

"Okay.  SooOoooo.  We are going to make ornaments for your tree out of these!" I hoped I was selling him.  "We can make snowflakes! And letters! And we can paint them!" He looked at me.  He took the bags from my hands.  He asked "Can we put glitter on them too?" Touuuuuchdooooown!!!

But wait for it.
We spread out our sticks.  We start gluing away.  I'm all "Hey! Look, these could also be Stars of David!" like a first-grader making props for the Nativity Production where I have to wear a bathrobe and pillow case on my head.  I was making snowflakes and "J's" like a boss.
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I look over and see Him in a trance.  Sawdust is everywhere.  Sticks are broken.  He has the hot glue gun in his lap, pencil behind his ear, tongue over his top lip.  Christmas Angel was assembling a to-scale North Pole Wonderland Fleet.
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His Saint Nicholas Sleigh of Delight is not only aerodynamic, it has a roomy seat for a big tushie with safety rails for the long, busy flight.
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We haven't painted the Yuletide Caribou Squadron quite yet.  But I'm sure Rudolph will have an actual red blinking nose and they will really be able to fly.
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Psh. Popsicle stick snowflakes my foot.

I wish I could send you to a blog with a cute tutorial on how to make this Holiday Troupe for yourself, but, alas, I cannot.  It's all in His Christmas Angel head.  In a matter of minutes he can whip up the most sturdy, perfect, lovely crafts.  And I'm over there burning myself on the glue gun.

Oh well.

What would this world be if everyone was really good at crafts?
All I know is that I'm having the time of my life making memories this cheerful season.

Like the Grinch realized: 
Maybe Christmas, he thought,  doesn't come from a store. 
Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more! 

How have YOU been making Christmas time be "a little bit more"?
:D