Christmas wishes – instructions for the perfect gift

Christmas wishes – instructions for the perfect gift

Somehow over the years finding the perfect gift for loved ones has become harder and harder. Or is that just me?

I don’t know whether this is because so many things are readily available at all times. Or whether we simply like other things than 10 years ago.

When I created this Christmas card – I named it “Christmas wishes” – I was thinking about what we REALLY wish for. Probably not just at Christmas, but maybe especially at Christmas. We all would like more time, love, health, satisfaction, and joy in our lifes, wouldn’t we? So I was thinking about … how could we GIVE those things to the people we love?

Postcard "Christmas wishes" by Ursula Markgraf

Christmas card “Christmas wishes” – can be bought HERE
 

I came up with some ideas, but feel free to add your own ones in the comments! Would love to hear them!!!

LOVE

Give something that tells the person every single day how much you value him or her. This could be a piece of jewellery – maybe even custom-made or made by yourself. Or it could be an art print that expresses how important that person is. Or you could simply write an old-fashioned loveletter. Yes, with an actual pen. Or even fountain pen? Not on the computer! :-)

HEALTH

Health is such a huge thing. And as health is not just the absence of illness, there are many things that you can give someone to help them feel more healthy, more well, more whole.
You could give a gift certificate for a massage, for a sauna visit or a meditation cd or course. I am still loving the meditations by Deepak Choprah and putting those on my Christmas wishlist.
Or simply a handmade bar of soap that does not contain unhealthy ingredients – what a wonderful and luxurious way to support someones health. You can also make things like sugar scrubs yourself. It’s quick, easy and the recipient can pamper his or her skin.

TIME

Of course you can not really gift someone time. We all have the same amount of time – so that is that. BUT, you can gift someone special time. Time he or she can spend with herself or himself. (For moms probably THE best gift ever.)
Often we get the perception that we do not have enough time when we’re simply too busy. So helping someone stop the crazy-race for a bit will give them more – consciously spent – time. You could also gift him or her a wonderful looking planner or calendar that can be used to organize time in a better way.

SATISFACTION

This one is really tricky cause in the end there is nothing you can give to someone that will make him or her feel satisfied if they do not have a certain mindset.  In my opinion – and experience – feeling satisfied is less about what you actually own or have accomplished, but more about how you feel and how much you are in tune with your own needs and desires. So in the end it really is up to each one of us to make sure we do feel satisfied, but you can still give something that will make it easier for the recipient to find a way to feel satisfied. One of my favourite things to give – and to get – is of course books. And my all-time-favourite in regard to how I feel about my life is “Steering by starlight” by Martha Beck. If it was available in German, I would literally give it to everyone I know!
(And no, this is not an affiliate link. I just simply totally love and adore that book.)
You could also gift a wonderful precious journal with the intention for it to be used as a gratitude journal. Most of us actually have pretty amazing lifes, but with the business and the distraction we simply forget to focus on all the wonderful and beautiful things that happen each and every day. This is also a totally wonderful gift for kids!

JOY

I think this one is the easiest to give. At least if you know the gift-recipient a bit. Whatever this person enjoys will bring her joy. Right?
She likes to draw? Get her colored pencils or a fresh sketch book! (ME!)
She likes to read? Get her a book! (Again – ME!)
She likes to cook? Some wonderful spices or a cooking course. (Not me. Send that to my husband. ;-) )
And if worse comes to worse and you really can not think of ANYthing that this person would enjoy … how about a fresh notebook? I somehow feel that with a notebook you can never go wrong. You can buy them big or small, beautiful or funny, simple or super-fancy.
I recently fell in love with the look of the Paperblank ones – OMG. They look just so wonderful. And the ones by Ecojot – different style – also look wonderful. And love their cause.
Awesome thing is, you can use notebooks for everything you can think of: jotting down ideas, planning your to dos, writing down your dreams, journaling, collecting your fav recipes, glueing photos or little bits and bobs from your every day life in there, sketch, …. The list is endless!
Or is that just me that has a tad of a notebook-obsession? ;-)

I hope I could give you some starters for Christmas present ideas. Let me know what your thougths are in the comments! And if you have a favourite gift to give – share it!

 

Sunday whispers – Advent

Sunday whispers – Advent
Sunday whispers is a little series. My goal is to post something shortish but inspiring for you each Sunday – hopefully together with some art – so that you have a little incentive to slow down, reflect and think. I know how crazy weeks can be, but after all, it is Sunday. :-) Enjoy and let me know what you think. You can find the other Sunday whisper posts HERE.
 
 

Today is the 1st of Advent. I LOVE Advent. Yes, I wrote it deliberately like this. Not “I love Christmas”. I love Advent. I love this time of waiting, hoping, looking forward to …

During the last years however, for our family Advent has turned more and more into a race. Somehow the more kids you have the more demands are placed upon you during Advent time. It is incredible how many appointments or dates even kids suddenly have!
After all, Advent lasts about 4 weeks. :-) And if you try to stuff as much as possible into those 4 weeks – at some point it is just TOO much. Even if baking cookies, crafting, reading, decorating, puppet theatre, going to the Christmas market, Christmas parties and all such things are fun, when you are only running from one event to the next, then the whole point of Advent is lost. 

Therefore I try each year to say “no” more often, but also to celebrate Advent with little things. Cause if you really enjoy and savor the little things, then they are actually not less than the big things.

Weihnachten/ Christmas - mixed media - by Ursula Markgraf

The art pieces shown above are Christmas mini-canvases and read “God became human” in German.

So today I would like to inspire you to think about how you want to celebrate Advent this year. What is important to you?

For me the most important things are:
-baking cookies with my kids
-reading Christmas stories and Christmas books
-putting up the manger
having an Advent wreath – or at least 4 candles ;-)

What I want to “let go”:
-decorating the whole house
-handmaking gifts for everyone
-taking part in all Christmas activities or events
-having a wide selection of homemade cookies available, at all times
-crafting all the fun things that I find on Pinterest ;-)

And now it’s your turn:

What are things that are important to you in Advent? What are things you want to let go off or want to do less? 

 

Where does a cat or dog button live?

Where does a cat or dog button live?

When I put the dog buttons and cat buttons from the last post in my shop I had to think about two little houses I sewed for my kids last Christmas. They are like tiny fabric doll houses/ stables to carry along. Super cute! :-)

Maybe you are already looking for Christmas presents for some special kids in your life. After all, now is still enough time to actually make them. ;-)
(I usually have a LONG list of stuff I want to make … which never gets done in the end.*laugh*)

Sewn fabric doll house / stable by Ursula Markgraf

My kids got these fabric houses together with some dog and cat buttons. They then could choose which ones of the buttons they wanted on the houses – and where (in front of the door, on the roof, on the window sill). And I sewed the buttons on as they wished.

Sewn fabric doll house / stable by Ursula Markgraf

(The photos of the houses were taken before I had sewn on the cat and dog buttons.)

You can find the instructions for the fabric house on U.K. lass U.S.

Little disclaimer: As always all my buttons are handmade and one-of-a-kind. When they are gone, they are gone. Right now I only have 4 cat buttons available, 2 in the shop right now. Once all of those are sold there will not be new cat buttons until somtime next year. Just so noone ends up being sad. :-) 

And if you knit there is a supercute knitted take-along house on Fusselideen.

So, what will you be making for kids for Christmas?

 

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Quickest Advent wreath

Quickest Advent wreath

Today comes the last Crafty Christmas post. Here are the links to all the Crafty Christmas posts:

free crochet pattern to make gingerbread house tags

inspiration for making Christmas cards

making scented Christmas ornaments

my tiny gingerbread house

tiny origami stars

Today I do not have a tutorial for you but “just” some inspiration. This was my Advent “wreath” for this year. :-) 

(If you like, check out my “wreaths” – do not take this too literal –  from last years HERE and HERE. )

It looks rather different compared to the traditional German Advent wreaths. But you know what else? It is EASY and FAST to make! 

And that is actually what I wanted to show you today: DIY and craft does not always have to be elaborate, costly, and take forever. It can also be quick and easy … and I think it looks pretty good, too. Especially right before Christmas quick crafts can be such an sanity saver! :-)

Do you agree? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 
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Cuteness alert! Teeny origami stars

If you know me, you know I like “tiny”. No idea why. So after yesterday´s tiny gingerbread house I have another “tiny” one today. Tiny origami stars!

Look at them! They are SO cute!!!

And with a teaspoon for scale! I LOVE these.

Once you have figured out how to make them it is really easy. To me it always takes a bit to wrap my head around such stuff … But it really is not that hard. Now even my daughter loves making these.

And it is so easy to decorate with them. Just put some in a clear glas container … or on the table … It always looks good! I love easy decorating! :-)

If you want to make your own there are MANY tutorials out there. I used these:

video instructions and written instructions

 

And as you can see I made them using old music sheets. Flea market score! :-) I am a sucker for everything “musical”. Just look here

But you can use ANY paper to make these. Old magazines, printed paper, newspaper … anything really!

 

Do you like them? If yes, don´t be shy and leave a comment! It makes my day! :-)

And check out all the other Crafty Christmas goodness. :-)

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Do you want to see my tiny gingerbread house?

Do you want to see my tiny gingerbread house?

After such a long post yesterday I thought I give you a little break today. ;-) So today there is not much to read – I just wanted to show off the tiny gingerbread house I made.

For years I wanted to make a gingerbread house myself but with two small kids it just always ended up being of the store bought variety. The one that you buy in pieces and put together. Which was okay. But this year – with a little trick – I got my gingerbread house. :-)

(See the tiny bird on the pile of wood logs?)

The trick? I just made it VERY small! *lol*

Very. Seriously. It is basically made out of cookie sized gingerbread. And as we make cookies all the time with the kids this was actually a really fun project.

Here you can see HOW small the gingerbread house is. The spoon is a tea spoon.  

 I had made a few blank ones as well that the kids decorated. It was so much fun! 

What fun baking projects have you done this Advent? Share away in the comments!

And check back tomorrow for another “tiny” Christmas goody in the Crafty Christmas series. No I will not tell you just yet what it is …. ;-)

 
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Easiest Christmas ornaments to make with kids

Easiest Christmas ornaments to make with kids

Here comes another post in my Crafty Christmas series. Another quick and kid friendly craft – how to make cute and SCENTED applesauce-cinnamon ornaments. You might have already seen this wreath in my tutorial on how to make crocheted gingerbread house tags. But this time we focus on the cute cookie-like ornaments. :-)

Now please – these are not meant to be eaten! They may look tasty! I am pretty sure they are not. But the good thing – they last several Christmases if you are not throwing them around too much. :-)

So how to make them? It is SUPEReasy. You can either google for applesauce-cinnamon recipes. Which I did. And then just ditch the recipes and throw together applesauce and cinnamon. Which I also did! *lol*

(I love google. But I get overwhelmed quickly.) 

1. Make dough:

So, I did not add other stuff. If you do search you will find all kinds of recipes … some call for glue and other things. I literally just mixed together the cinnamon and the applesauce. Now, you do need ALOT of cinnamon so you might not want to use the best and most expensive one you have around. I used about 2 parts cinnamon and 1 part applesauce. But it does depend alot on what consistency your applesauce has so I encourage you to just play around and add a little at a time.

 You wanna end up with something dough-like that is not too sticky. I only made a rather small batch but it made quite a bunch of ornaments! 

2. Cut out shapes with cookie cutter

Now let your kids get “dirty”! ;-) Sprinkle cinnamon on the table to prevent the dough to stick to it.

 (WARNING! Do NOT use flour for this AT ALL! I did that last year – I thought I am clever – and the ornaments with the flour ended up with some rather not so pretty mold on them. :-/ You do not want to have that believe me! Especially not if it is followed by a discussion with your 2-year old WHY on earth you are throwing out HIS amazing work!)

You can roll out the dough with a rolling pin – but you can just as well press it flat with your hands. That is what we did and the kids can help!

Then go nuts with your cookie cutters!

(Smaller shapes work best. Also very intricate shapes might break easily.)

3. Let your “cookies” dry

In order for the ornaments to harden I just put them on a plate and let them sit near the heater for a couple of days. I have read that some people bake them. I never did that. 

I was never in a hurry AND if you let them sit and dry your house will smell AMAZING like cinnamon.

So if you happen to get sick from the smell of cinnamon – please do not do this project. ;-)

After the ornaments are dry (it does take a few days) you can draw some “icing” on them with acrylic paint if you like. Then hang and enjoy! 

If you like this post you might also like yesterday’s post on how to make fingerprint Christmas cards … or just hop on my email-list to not miss anything! :-)

Comments are highly appreciated as well. ;-)

 
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Sneak peak into our Christmas mail

Sneak peak into our Christmas mail

Have you already sent your Christmas cards? 

No? 

Well, here comes an inspiration for some quick handmade cards that are really easy and fun to make. Especially if you have kids that you can employ have fun with. ;-)

Just get out some paint – preferably not the water proof one! – let the kids dip their finger in it and make some fun marks on the cards. Then connect them to make Christmas lights and write a short message … DONE!

This was actually not my idea. I found it last year somewhere on pinterest and a google-search pointed me to this tutorial as the original source. Hope that is correct!

When you read the tutorial you will notice that I did change up it up a bit. I just let my kids put colourful blobs onto the cards with their finger (not thumb) anywhere – and I connected them later with a dark grey pencil instead of drawing the line first. That way no “Oh no, you put the light ON the line”-incidents could happen! ;-)

So, have you sent your cards yet?

 

This is actually part of a small Crafty-Christmas series. Yesterday I posted a tutorial on how to make crocheted gingerbread house tags. Check it out HERE. And tomorrow … well, you will have to check back tomorrow … ;-)

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How to make your own crocheted gingerbread house tags (free pattern)

How to make your own crocheted gingerbread house tags (free pattern)

When I was at my first market selling buttons EVER people were very interested in my decoration. (It really got me to the point where I was wondering if I am selling the right thing. *lol*)

One of my decorational pieces were these little gingerbread house tags. As a little pre-Christmas gift just for you I decided to put up the instructions so if you are interested in making your own – well, now you can ;-)

This is actually the first post of a little mini-blogpost series “Crafty Christmas”. So if you like it be sure to stop by tomorrow to get more Christmassy DIY inspiration. 

This project is perfect for beginners,too. Very easy!

Crocheted Gingerbread House Tag

supplies:

-yarn in dark brown and white
-crochet hook matching your yarn

 

Now, let’s do it! :-)

Chain 10 and chain 1 more for turning:

1. row: single crochet into second stitch from hook until the end (10 stitches), chain 1 for turning:

2.-8. row: single crochet each stitch (10 stitches), chain 1 for turning. When you are done it should look like this:

9. row: Start decreasing for the roof. Crochet first two stitches together, single crochet into each stitch until you reach the last two, crochet last two stitches together, chain 1 for turning (8 stitches).

10. row: Repeat 9th row (6 stitches).

11. row: Repeat 9th row (4 stitches).

12. row: Repeat 9th row (2 stiches).

13. row: Crochet last 2 stitches together. Pull yarn through and finish off. Your house tag is done and should look like this:

With some white yarn single crochet around the “roof”. When you are at the top chain 25 and slip stitch to the “base”. This way you form a loop which you can use to hang your cute tag. Finish the “roof”.

Now, very important step – you need to block your cute tags in order for them to look pretty.  Spray them with some starch, let dry and … embellish and use them to decorate!

I used some of my tiny handmade gingerbread buttons (CLICK to see them) for embellishment. But of course you can use something else just as well.  See:

Done! Was that easy?

 

Please – pretty please with cherry on top – leave me a comment how you liked the pattern! It is my first pattern that I am sharing so I am super excited! :-)

P.S. Let me know as well, if you are interested in knowing how to make the teeny crocheted hearts.

EDITED: Wanna see how I made the teeny tiny crocheted hearts? No problem – here is the free tutorial. :-) And if you like what I share please sign up for my free newsletter below or here.

Ever seen a knitting mouse?

Ever seen a knitting mouse?

Judging by the activity on here you might think I am not really doing anything. But I was quite busy during the last days preparing for my first craft market/ fair ever! It is a small local Christmas market and I am very excited to be part of it!

And I will get to use my new business cards. ;-) Very curious what it will be like.

 

The mouse in the photo will accompany me to the market. She lives in the suitcase where all my buttons will be displayed. It seems that she got bored and stole some of my decorating yarn balls and … started knitting. What else should you do when bored, right?! ;-)

Have you ever sold at a craft market/fair?

Any advice or stories? Please share in the comments!

 

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