Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas American Girl crafting

Hazel received a couple of new-to-her (from Craigslist) American Girl horses for Christmas.  I got a pretty good deal on them, but they're not pristine, which is fine, given how rough she is on belongings.  The larger horse was also missing the saddle that she had originally come with, so I had a couple of projects I wanted to do for the horses before they were gifted.

First, hay bales! I followed Ana White's plans for burlap plush hay bales.  They turned out cute, which is good, since they were a GIANT PAIN.  Seriously.  Never sewing with burlap again.  I think these could have been done with a glue gun with much less frustration.  Live and learn.

Second, I made blankets for both horsies.  Don't they look warm and cheerful?

The pattern for the blankets is here.  I made the foal's blanket by slowly cutting down the pattern for the larger one and laying the paper pattern across her back, then cutting it down some more, and some more, until it looked the right size.  Good enough.

My last project was a replacement saddle for Penny, the big horse.  I used the template provided by this blogger, but used different materials than she did.  I bought a quarter yard of that fabric that has sheepy fleece stuff on one side and faux suede on the other (I'm sure there's a name for that, but I don't know what it is!) and made the saddle out of that. The main saddle piece has the suede-y side up and the fleecy side down.  The seat part is fleecy side up.  I sewed the seat part on to the saddle part and that was pretty much it! I bought some cute braided trim at Joann (a yard, and I didn't use it all), put two small grommets in the saddle and ran the trim under the saddle and out through the grommets to be straps for the stirrups.  Does that make any sense?  Stirrups are just 1.5" d-rings, but I should have gone up a size.  I took a doll shoe with me to Joann for sizing, but cowgirl boots are bulkier and they barely fit.  I used a needle and thread to tack the ribbon in place to hold the d-rings.  Seriously, 15 minute project, easy peasy, and SUPER cute.  This also could have been done with hot glue or fabric glue just as easily, if anyone is in need of a dolly horse saddle and doesn't sew.

When Hazel and I went to the American Girl store in Washington, D.C. at Thanksgiving, I very sneakily purchased the Western Riding Outfit to complete the set.  Gracie looks adorable in it, and Hazel has really enjoyed having horses to play with, with her dolls!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Our Favorite Christmas Books

We are Christmas book-aholics over here.  I thought I'd take a minute and share some of our favorites with you.

For several years, our most loved Christmas books were board books.  My kids are now old enough to listen to and enjoy longer stories, but these four are still favorites:

  • B is for Bethlehem is out of print, but lovely if you ever come across one.
  • Christmas in the Manger is my favorite for a very first Christmas book.  Perfect for infants and toddlers to go along with a Little People or other nativity scene that can be played with
  • The Story of Christmas
  • The Night Before Christmas--We still like our board book version of this poem well enough that we haven't upgraded to a "big kid" one.  

We like to focus in early December on reading about the historical person of St Nicholas.  We don't "do" Santa here, but we discuss how the modern Santa Claus has his roots in St Nicholas and then we're free to enjoy the season with Santa around every turn, in stores, in books, in movies, etc, knowing where that came from, and not waiting for him to bring us presents on Christmas Eve.  To aid us in those conversations, we have a couple of books on St Nicholas.  I prefer Saint Nicholas: the Real Story of the Christmas Legend (red, below) to The Legend of St Nicholas: a Story of Christmas Giving (blue), but I don't super love either of them.  The red one is better for a younger audience for sure.  This is the first year that mine have sat through the blue one willingly.  I'm still on the lookout for an even better version, and if I find it, I'll update!  Our other favorite resource on this is the super silly Veggie Tales video on St Nicholas. Streams on Netflix!

Others that mama never minds reading again and again,  year after year include:

Also, in the spirit of there never being enough Christmas books, I requested a few at the library that had been recommended by others.  We have found a few winners among them!

Of course, we have our fair share of groan-worthy Christmas books, too.  You know--the ones that I consider hiding in the night (and still might!) like the book that comes with the Elf on the Shelf, anyone with me on that one? But mostly, Christmas books bring us much joy, and we love to share them with our friends!  

Any favorites of yours that you think we ought to try? I'm all ears!