Monday, December 27, 2010

Why Our Family Doesn't Celebrate Christmas

     This is a tough topic to discuss because people, especially fellow Christians, get so offended over this. They seem to want to ignore the logic and information, and go straight to the attacking. I would appreciate no attacking on this post. I am not ignorant, misinformed or one to make rash choices. This was well thought out, researched and prayer over.

     Every year I would get so excited for the holidays, only to be completely miserable when they arrived. I couldn't figure it out. They would be absolutely horrible no matter who I spent them with or what I did. This year I began looking into the Sabbath day, the actual day (that is a whole other post!), and I ended up finding information on christmas. I found out that it is, and still is, a pagan holiday to celebrate several different gods, as well as the winter solstice. Many of the things people use in their celebrations have pagan roots, and were used in pagan festivities and worship. I began to research even more and try to find out everything I could.

     After hours and days of research I decided that I did not want to celebrate christmas in my household anymore. Christ was not born on December 25th, no where close in fact. He was most likely born in September or October. So there goes the main "Christian" reason for the holiday. The reason the holiday was put on that date was the "Christianize" a pagan holiday and help persecuted Christians fit in better at the time. Not a proud moment for our group, so why celebrate a willingness to compromise and fit in with the "worldly"? Add to that the pagan holiday, the pagan traditions. And the whole santa fairytale/myth made me extremely uncomfortable. I don't believe in lying to my child at all, and I don't like his pagan roots as well. There is very little information on St. Nicholas, and nothing factual to prove he gave out gifts like he is portrayed to have done. The "magical" qualities given to him have more to do with pagan gods then they do an actual person. So in our home it is common knowledge that the "santa" thing is a myth, a fairytale, and nothing we believe in. But even more than that, it's a shopping holiday. It's over-commercialized, it's all about spending, outdoing others, getting all you can. Even if the holiday may have once been about Christ, it sure isn't now.

     I couldn't go into any store, not even the dollar store, without being bombarded with the over-commercialization of the holiday. I was told I needed these things for a more beautiful house and tree, that I wouldn't truly enjoy my holiday without them. I was told I, and my daughter, needed more things, more expensive things, or to truly enjoy the holiday and have it be a success. Somehow, if I wasn't standing in line at 4am in the morning, I wasn't a good mother. If I didn't have a tree that reached my ceiling and glowed like a Time Square, then I was letting down my family and not fully celebrating the holiday. If I didn't go into debt buying things, as many things as possible, then how would anyone know I loved them and appreciated them? All that totally turned me off. I decided I didn't want anything to do with this holiday anymore. No wonder it was so miserable every single year!

     I haven't regretted my decision one bit! We didn't get a tree at all, we didn't decorate the house. Being this was the first year of doing this and I reached this decision late, we did have presents during the month of December. But I decided we would open them as they arrived, not set them aside for a certain day. It was much nicer that way, and my daughter truly enjoyed getting to open her gifts when they arrived for her. I am an early bird, so I had all my shopping done by mid-November. The gifts I had set aside for her she got to open one a week. We didn't make a huge fuss for our meal, we were both ok with cooking at home or getting something unhealthy we normally don't eat like pizza. We ended up at a friend's house for dinner, which was nice and very laid back thankfully. It was so nice!

     Don't think I have forgotten about Christ in anyway, because I haven't. We will honor His birthday in the fall when He was born, but His death is what is much more important. Even in the Bible we are called to honor His death, not His birth. For me, I felt awful putting His name on a holiday He would in no way celebrate. Christ was the least materialistic, overindulgent, item driven person, and I know there is no way He would have celebrated a holiday all about those things, let alone condone it. There are scriptures in the Bible that tells us not to be part of things that aren't Godly, things that are done by those who don't follow Christ. It's not a holiday in the Bible at all, and I just do not feel that God wants me to participate in something that is pagan with commercialization and materialism piled on top. I don't want my daughter, or any future children, to focus on such things, or for them to obscure the importance of Christ.

     I got a great idea from reading an article written by a woman who's family exchanges gifts on Thanksgiving instead. It is a holiday devoted to thankfulness and so giving gifts then fits in better. We are working hard to limit the amount of things we have and how many gifts we give each other as well, but we did still want to find a time to give something special to each other. Next year we plan to exchange on Thanksgiving and give our family a heads up to send gifts then if possible. We are understanding not everyone can though. We just want others to respect our feelings and wishes about this. That being said, the majority of the population in America do celebrate it and we will not "bash" those who do. We will explain why we don't and hope they can respect that with open minds and hearts. Like I said, this was not decided upon lightly at all and I want people to understand that and respect that I fee, with God's leading, that I am doing what is best for myself and my family. I wouldn't do it any other way. :o)

     This is not to attack others or "convert" to my way of thinking. This is to share what my family believes and does, and hopefully others may learn from this. Here are just a few of the links I found about Christmas and it's pagan origins. I didn't save them all unfortunately, and I can't seem to find them all. If I find any others I will add them to this list. -Great article I agree with, my top 10 as well! - Articles on Christmas, Easter and Halloween - Info on Santa Claus, so much stuff I never knew! - Another link on the pagan aspect of the holiday - Another link talking about the origins of the holiday - And yet another informative link

Monday, December 20, 2010

Creating One Big Book From Several Paperback Books *

     One thing I try to avoid is too much clutter, too many small things, too many loose things. It's not easy to do when you live with a child, but it keeps me on my toes finding new ways to organize and condense things. A few years ago when I was selling Avon products, they were selling a set of "Dear God" books. I ordered them and found they were all very thin, small paperback books. Needless to say I was disappointed, I thought they would be more book quality. So since then, they've been on my daughter's bookshelf, getting put under other books, inside of other books, in the back of all the other books. I worried they would get ripped up or lost, or just not read because they were getting lost among the other books.

     So today I decided to combine all the books into one big "Dear God" book. What I did was very simple, and not very fancy, but you decorate your combined book as much or as little as you want. First I decided how many holes to put in the books. Our books had writing in the middle so I could only do holes at the top and at the bottom of the spine of each book. I picked where I wanted my holes, and punched holes in one book. I then set it on top of the other books one buy one, and traced inside the holes. I then punched holes in each of the books, and stacked them in the order I wanted them when done. I used metal book rings in ours, just to make turning the pages in all the books easy for my daughter, but twine, ribbon or yarn would work just as well. I put a ring in the top holes and bottom holes and had one big book! :o) I grouped books together that were from a set, but you can group books together that have the same main characters, or by type of books, whatever works for you. It's nice because it keeps paper books together and more organized. My daughter loves it and has paid much more attention to these books. You could even create your own cover with card stock paper and add embellishments to it if you want.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Build-A-Bear Box Dollhouse *

Any of you moms who have gone to Build-A-Bear Workshop, know you usually come home with a big cardboard box, which they refer to as a "house" for child's your new stuffed friend. This box is cute for your child's new friend to travel home in, but once home the new stuffed friend is removed and usually the box is forgotten about. My daughter will play with her box for a day, maybe two, then it's doesn't have a use anymore. It ends up in trash or recycling (hopefully). I have felt bad that the boxes are getting wasted in massive quantities, and that's when I came up with a fun idea - make a dollhouse out of it!

This is simple, it doesn't take much time at all, but you have the freedom to make it as detailed or simple as you like. You can add another floor with extra cardboard, put two Build-A-Bear boxes together to "add on an addition," you can add wooden dollhouse furniture, whatever your child will love. I have been blessed with a daughter who adores the things I make for her, and she never notices when it doesn't look professionally made. She quickly loses interest in fancy store bought toys, but always finds ways to play with the more simple toys, and the homemade toys. I am going to share with you how I made our dollhouse and you can add and change anything you like. We plan to take a trip to the craft store soon to pick up some cute little wooden furniture for her dolls to have in their new house. :o)

     First step, tape down the bottom flaps inside. It doesn't really matter how it looks when you tape it, you're going to cover it up. I used clear packaging tape. I taped them down enough to stay down. You can also add some extra tape on the bottom on the outside of the box as well.

     Next, use a knife (be careful!) to cut out a bigger area for the door. You want the opening to be big enough for your child to see inside and reach their hands inside. Only cut 3 sides so that the door stays attached and can swing open. Once you're done, take clear tape again and tape the little door that the store had pre-cut, and tape it shut. This way it's now part of the big door and doesn't get in the way. This door does not need to be cut perfectly and evenly. Children do not see what we consider to be flaws!

     Next, I added a doorknob. I found a piece of some plastic thing that had a round piece sticking out that was perfect to put into the door. I glued on a multi-colored puff ball for the knob. You can use whatever you like for your doorknob. My daughter likes the puff balls and it's soft to touch. Just make sure it's something they can grab to pull open the door.

     Next, add "carpet." I used some old fabric I had leftover. I put the box on top of the fabric, traced around it, cut it out, and used a glue stick to glue it in. You can use other types of glue if you prefer, I used what was handy. Again, this does not need to be perfect. However, if you want you can sew the edges or add embellishments if you like.

     Next, add little curtains. Again, this was very simply done. I had two little windows, one on each side. So I took a piece of fabric from the same big piece, estimated how much I'd need and cut. I then bunched it up in a few spots to give it that "curtain ruffle" kind of look. I glued it on a little above the window. You can do long curtains if you like, but I wanted to get as much light in the box as possible. Again, these don't need to be perfect, and you can add whatever you like to them.

     Next, add a picture. Now, this can be a picture of your family, of your child, a cut out from a magazine, one of your child's drawings, or those included pictures you get in a new picture frame. You can make more than one as well! I took a picture, added a paper frame, and then added sparkly puff balls to it. You can add glitter, little gems, shells, buttons, etc. to your frame. You can even make a wooden frame from popsicle sticks or something else. Again, you do what works for you!

     Next, I added a wall flower vase. I had this little flower in my mixed items box and no use for it until now. I took the lid from a small marker that had dried out, and I glued it to the wall of the box near my picture. You can add yours anywhere and use any kind of flowers.

     Next add a light of some sort. I decided to try a hanging light. I used a small plastic cup, the kind they give samples in at the stores. I poked a hole in the middle big enough for a thin piece of wrapping ribbon left over from a present. I traced the bottom of the cup on a piece of green paper to make the top part you see, and I poked a hole in the middle of that as well, then glued it onto the bottom of the cup. I tied a small knot on the end of the ribbon, measured how long I wanted it to hang, then I put the ribbon through the holes. Again, I traced the bottom of the cup but this time on a piece of yellow foam, to use for light. I glued that on the inside of the bottom of the cup, covering the ribbon knot. I cut out other small strips of foam to make beams of light. I used all scrap foam for this, I like to try and use up as much of our leftover craft scraps as possible. Once I was done gluing the little beams of light to the inside of the cup, I hung it from the middle of the box handle on the top. Now, the other handle has a cardboard piece that goes under the 1st handle. So I just cut a line down the middle of that cardboard piece so when you put the two handles together, and go to tuck that cardboard piece under to connect the handles, the ribbon for the light stays in the middle of the handles and doesn't get pulled to the side.

     Next, I added a mailbox. We had a small metal mailbox for stamps that wasn't really being used much. I took 3 popsicle sticks, glued and taped them together to make my stand thick, then sanded down the tops of them to make them flat, and attached the mailbox on top. I taped the mailbox to the dollhouse just to keep it in place. It's a cute thing to add because I plan to make little felt "mail" for her to send to her dolls.

     That was the end of my work on it for the night. We will add furniture when she wants, and maybe some embellishments if she chooses. The great part about these boxes is that they are white with just the outlines of pictures on them, so to create the outside design of the dollhouse just let your child color it! This way they can add to their doll's home and make it look how they like. It's fun for them to take part in the creating process. :o) Once the coloring is done you can add glitter or glitter glue, stickers, gems, any embellishments you want to add. It's such a nice use for the box because it has a handle, which means this dollhouse is easy to carry and take with you. You don't have to pay a lot to create it, which is great on your wallet! And the best part of all is that your child will enjoy it! They can use it will dolls, stuffed animals, little plastic animals, whatever they want. If you need any help with this, please let me know!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sweet Baked Apple Crisps Recipe

     I really enjoyed making, and eating, Baked Apple Oatmeal Streusel. I thought it was yummy, but my daughter wasn't as crazy about it having the whole apples filled with the mix. So I decided to try my own variation and see if it would work better. It was a hit! :o)

     I cored and sliced 2 apples, you can use more if you need. I mixed together about a tablespoon of vanilla, and about a table spoon of cinnamon in a small cup. These are just estimations because I added my ingredients by what looked like the right amount, sorry guys! I mixed together the ingredients and then used a small brush to brush the mixture onto the apple slices. I covered all the peeled sides really well. Once I was done, I sprinkled large oats over them. You can also try dipping or rolling them in the oats if you like, I plan to try dipping them next time I make this. After that I drizzled honey over all of them, set my toaster oven (you can use your full size oven as well) to 350 degrees, and put them in for about 10 minutes. You can vary the time depending on how soft you want yours.

Before going into oven

    This is what they looked like before I put them in the toaster oven. I forgot to take an after picture so I will add one after I make them again. My daughter loved them and ate them all! You can add sugar to the cinnamon vanilla mix for an extra bit of sweet if you like, or add honey to the mix as well. I used wildflower honey to drizzle this time, but I've made them with regular honey as well and they tasted just as good. These are great for breakfast, a snack or a dessert! And they are a pretty healthy sweet treat, which is comforting :o)  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Homemade Air Fresheners: Vanilla, Lemon, Scents and Pomanders

    I'm always looking for natural ways to scent my home. I had automatic spraying air fresheners in every room of my home last year. At the time I didn't realize how many bad chemicals are in them, I just loved my home smelling pretty and that was the easiest way to do it. But I was getting really bad headaches almost daily, and I didn't know why. I was browsing some information online one day, and found that many people are intolerant to air fresheners. Headaches are not uncommon, which explained why I was getting them so frequently at home. Then I found that the chemicals in them are not good, and having mine spray all day long was definitely not a good idea. I removed them all and began researching homemade air fresheners and found a lot of good ideas!

     I like mixing some vanilla extract with water in a spray bottle for a sweet vanilla scent. You can add a little spices to it if you like. Another good one is lemon juice mixed with water in a spray bottle to give your home a lemon fresh smell. Take whatever scent you like, find it in a juice or extract and add a little to a spray bottle of water. This way you can create a nice scent in your home that is just as strong as you want, without exposing you and your family to harmful chemicals. To kill odors in your home you can put baking soda in pretty bowls and put them throughout your home. I don't recommend putting baking soda and water in a spray bottle to spray in the air in home, because when I tried it everything got covered with white spots. It would be a good thing to spray fabric furniture with to take out smells, but not just up in the air. I had spots all over my tables, my floors, my my furniture and all my things I had in the rooms I sprayed. Not fun. I also don't recommend adding food coloring to sprays either, food coloring stains and what you spray up must come down....on your furniture and carpet. I do recommend getting a pretty spray bottle that isn't clear so the color of your mix doesn't matter because no one can see it. That way you avoid turning your home permanent colors!

     Another fun idea is to make pomanders. I first saw the name and thought, "Is this some tropical fruit I've never heard of?" :o) It's not. It's a lovely and natural way to scent your home! Get a few oranges from the store. Since you won't be eating them it really doesn't much matter what kind you get. You will need whole cloves as well. We got a small bag of them and maybe used half on our 2 oranges. You can use more or less depending on your liking. Basically you are going to push the pointy tip type side of the clove into the orange. You can do this two ways: You can take a thick needle or the tip of a blade on a pair of scissors (or some other pointy object), and poke holes into the orange where you want to put the cloves, then push them into the pre-made holes. Or you can just push them into without first making holes. I chose to just push mine in, but for my munchkin I made little holes first. You can make pretty designs on your oranges or just put them in randomly. We chose to just put them in randomly this time. Once you are finished you can place them in pretty bowls and put them all in one area or in each room. I put one in my living room and one in my dining room. They give off a noticeable scent, which is nice if you like having a noticeable scent in rooms of your home. It's a spicy citrus scent, so make sure you enjoy that kind of scent before starting! :oP

     You can even make ornaments with them by wrapping pretty ribbon around them after you're done putting in the cloves, you can add a nice bow if you like, and hanging them on the tree.

     Below is the picture I took of the 2 we made today. I didn't use many cloves because the scent was strong. It was fun for both my daughter and I, and a project that has a use after it is done. These last for a while, when you see them drying up it's time to replace them. Please feel free to share your homemade air freshening and home scenting ideas and tips! :o)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How To Make Yarn Dolls *

     Recently in one of my searches for fun homemade crafts to do with my daughter, I discovered a lovely pictures of yarn dolls. My daughter saw them and got so excited, asking me to please, please make her some :o) I looked online and found a lot of instructions for making them. I put together my own instructions with what I found, and I'm sharing it with you below.

Messy yarn dolls with hair

Picture from Google search
     To start with, you need any color of yarn, you can use different colors for different parts if you like, scissors, a piece of cardboard or a book. I used yarn that was a mixture of colors. The length of cardboard or book will the the length of your girl doll. With the boy doll you need something about 2 inches longer, because when you braid his legs you loose length. Here are some size guidelines: Large 16 1/2 inches, Medium 9 inches, Small 7 inches. Now for the yarn, I had no idea what kind of yarn to get. I ended up getting something thinner than usual so I had to wrap it a lot more times. I wrapped mine 100 times, and our dolls were good sized, but a little thin. With a thicker yarn you can wrap less or more, some instructions suggest wrapping it 200 times. This is up to you to decide how thick you want your dolls.

Thick doll
Picture from Google search
     You start by taking putting the cut side of the yarn at the top of your board/book. Wrap around it, so it is tucked under the pieces of yarn you are wrapping. Wrap the board as many times as you want for the thickness/thinness you want in your dolls. Once you are finished wrapping, cut the string and tuck it under the pieces you've wrapped, just like you did with the beginning piece. Cut another piece of yarn, about 10 inches long, and slide the piece under one side you have wrapped. Then pull the two ends together to tie a knot at the top of the board/book, holding all of the wrapped yarn. This will be the top bow for the girl doll, or you can make a loop to hang your dolls on, or just tie it off and cut it for the boy doll.

Put your string under the yarn to tie it off at the top
Picture from
     Carefully slip the yard off of the board/book. Cut another piece of yarn 10 inches long. This second piece will be used to make the head of the doll. You can make your doll's head any size, most are usually 1-2 inches. You can make a head two ways: Just take the string, put it 1 inch below the tie on top, and tie it off to make the head. Or you can make a small ball of yarn to go in the middle of the area you are making for the head to give it more thickness and firmness. Once you've tied this knot, make it into another bow for the girl doll, or tie it off and cut it for the boy doll.

Remove yarn from board and tie at neck to give doll a head

Pictures from
       Next you will make the arms. You can make your doll's arms the same length as your doll or a little shorter. You want to wrap the board/book half the times you did for the body. This time tie the yarn off about 1 inch from the edge of the board. Cut about a half way from where you tied and the edge of the board. Remove the tied yarn. Divide the yarn into 3 sections and braid it to the bottom, tying it off about a 1/2 inch from the bottom. Now, if you want longer strands at the end, you can do so. Just tie the yarn on the board/book 1 inch above the edge, then cut at the edge, not above it, and when you are finished braiding it tie the end 1 inch from the bottom. The nice thing about these dolls is you can vary them however suits you!

Take the cut piece and braid it
Picture from

     Once you have finished the braid and tied the end off, find the middle and tie it off 1/2 inch from the middle on each side. Then cut the braid in the middle, between the two ties. Now you have 2 sets of arms - one for each doll. I feel this is a better way to do it because it saves you yarn and time, you only have to braid arms once. Now open up your doll in the middle of the yarn loops under her neck tie. Put the arms in that opening and close the yarn over them. Lift the doll's arms up so you can tie under the arms tight enough so the arms don't come out. Take another 10 inch piece of yarn, and tie it as close under the body with the arms as you can. For the girl doll make another bow, for the boy doll tie it and cut it close. 

Split the yarn loop in the middle and  slide the arms in
Picture from

     Next cut the loops at the bottom of the doll's body. If this is a girl doll - you're done! She's adorable and ready to be loved and played with. :o) If you think her arms might not stay in well, you can always sew them to the back of her yarn body a little, same with the boy doll. Now, if you are making a boy doll you aren't done yet. You need to split the bottom part of the body you just cut, into 2 equal sections. Braid each section, making 2 braided legs. Tie off the legs 1/2 inch from the bottom. Now - you're done! You have successfully made a boy girl and a girl doll! :o)

My finished girl doll :o)
     Do not worry if your dolls aren't perfect! Mine sure weren't! But my daughter didn't care one bit, she took them and happily played with them. These make wonderful gifts, and I feel they mean so much more because they were handmade. I feel anything you make has more value because you put your time, energy and love into something for another person. :o)

My finished girl and boy dolls! :o)

     You can make varieties of these dolls, making a girl doll with braided legs if you'd like, adding yarn hair, adding embellishments to the body, etc. These are created by you so add to them what you like!
Finished thick dolls
Picture from
 And with the girl doll, there is a part where you cut the braided piece for the arms. I cut the piece in half and tied off both ends to that I could use the other piece for the boy's arms. This was much easier for me. I made our girl doll first and my daughter was beyond thrilled! :o) She absolutely adored her. When I made the boy doll, she spent the evening playing with the both of them continually. She truly enjoyed the dolls and still does!