Wooden Christmas Gifts

Every year Jay and I like to make a few gifts. This year we tried to make even more than normal. I will post about the gifts we made in a few separate blog posts so that they are easier to digest.

First up we have a coffee table that Jay’s mom wanted him to redo the top. There was some pretty heavy water damage.

Coffee Table 1

Jay had already started to clear the top of the table when he took this picture. You can see the water damage on the left side of the table. This is a chipboard table with a veneer finish. Jay decided to rout away the majority of the top and then he inlaid a piece of luan.

Coffee Table 2

I was away on my work trip when he started this project. I’m glad because I would have been fretting over the mess he was making in the basement.

Coffee Table 4

I am told that the mess in this picture was practically spotless as compared to the other messes he had made. Jay actually took the time to try to vacuum up a lot of the dust, but when you’re dealing with chipboard it just goes all over.

Coffee Table 3

I guess it was quite the process to rout out the top of this table. When it was finally finished he cut a piece of luan to size and stained it. Then he started to put poly on it. I was eyeball-deep into my own projects so I let Jay do everything on this coffee table. At one point, though, he told me that he was going to tear his hair out because the finish was splotchy and looked like crap. He’d put about a dozen layers on and couldn’t get it right. After sanding off about three layers and smoothing it out I helped him get the finish to a point where he could tolerate it. I think that it came out pretty good.

Finished Coffee Table

And there are enough layers of poly on there that it should be more difficult to mar the finish. We took this over to his mom’s on Christmas day and she loved it. Way to go, Jay!

The next gift that Jay made was one for me. I’ll show you a picture and see if you can determine its purpose.

DW Pedestal 12-26-19

He really did a beautiful job. He glued a bunch of scrap pieces together into a block and then turned it on his lathe.

DW Pedestal Top

Technically he has a metal machining lathe, but it turns wood, too.

DW Pedestal Profile

I love the finish. It really looks great in the kitchen.

Have you figured out what it’s for?

I’m sure that you could spend all day guessing and never get it right. Here, let me show you…

DW Pedestal Used

Yes, it is my Dishwasher Door Rest.

You see, I typically use my dishwasher as a giant drying rack because I hate how it washes dishes. I only run a load through it when I need to get the dishes off of the counter, but I don’t have time to spend washing them by hand. I know that I’ll end up re-washing some of them, but at least they aren’t on my counter.

Anyway, Jay was worried about ruining the hinges with the weight of the loaded bottom rack as I was washing the dishes and stacking them in there. For I don’t know how long I’ve had a can of polyurethane in the kitchen that I was using to set the door on each time. I kept asking him for something simple that I could maybe kick under the edge of the cabinet so that I no longer had to look at a can of poly on my counter.

No, I won’t be kicking this pedestal under my cabinet. Instead I will gladly display it on my counter. I LOVE this gift. It’s better than all of the jewelry I saw advertised on TV for Christmas (which was all ugly). Give me a utilitarian gift any day of the week over a piece of jewelry that will end up sitting in my jewelry box most of the time.

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A Manger for Jesus 2019

Since it’s Christmas Eve, and I’m a Christian, I feel that it’s only right that I give you an update on the Jesus Shed that Jay has been building. Tomorrow we will celebrate the birth of our Saviour by being materialistic and teaching our children that Christmas is all about waiting for a magic elf to leave us gifts just because we were “good.”

I try not to get religious or preachy on my blog, so if this offends you then please skip this post and come back on Friday when I’ll have pictures to show you of things that we made for Christmas this year. Even though I’m going to get all Jesus-y on you today doesn’t mean that we don’t celebrate Christmas by exchanging gifts. After all, the Wise Men gave gifts to the Newborn King when they arrived after his birth.

Let’s go back a few thousand years, shall we?

Imagine a young teenage woman of no consequence. She lived an ordinary life and followed her faith. She didn’t have a title nor did she have any claim to wealth. She worked very hard every day just trying to get by.

Jesus Shed Start

She was betrothed to a poor carpenter who also struggled as so many of their neighbors did in those days. Just ordinary people, living their lives and following their faith.

Then the young woman is visited by an angel of God, Gabriel, who tells her that she has found favor with God. Now, imagine that you’re suddenly confronted by this being that tells you he’s an angel of God and has been sent with a great blessing. That blessing? She is to “conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)

Yikes! What?! Panic would set in, right? Not only has Mary never beenĀ with a man, but in those days even though she was betrothed to Joseph they weren’t yet married in the full sense that we know it. However, it was highly frowned upon if a woman was betrothed to one man and carrying another man’s child. That would bring great shame to Joseph and Mary was an honorable woman. But she was also a woman of great faith. More faith than most, and so she trusted in the Lord and of her own free will agreed to carry the baby who would be our Messiah.

Jesus Shed Framed 11-8-19

Joseph is troubled by this whole situation and decides to divorce Mary. However, he is also visited by an angel who explains, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21). Joseph was a man of deep faith, so he did as the angel told him and took Mary into his home.

At this time the Emperor decided that they needed to do a census so that he would know just how many people he had dominion over (it was a power issue). In those days you had to travel back to the town from which your father came. Joseph was of the house and family of David, so he had to travel to Bethlehem to be counted.

When they arrived the town was filled to capacity because everybody else had traveled back for the census, too. Joseph had been unable to make reservations ahead of time. You see, back then ‘mobile service’ meant that you traveled there and hoped for service. It had nothing to do with cell phones. And ‘mobile service’ was not good. At this point Joseph would have been happy with a cheap one-star roach motel on the outskirts of town. Mary was very close to giving birth and they needed to find her someplace to do so quickly. Unfortunately, Motel 6 did NOT leave the light on, so they had to make do with a stable.

Jesus Shed 11-15-19

Now, Mary had been told that she was going to bring forth into the world the Son of the Most High. And here she was, in labor, in a stable. Little did she realize at the time that later on as Jesus was growing she could not use the phrase, “Were you born in a barn?” in order to get him to shut door behind him or clean his room.

So there he lay, in swaddling cloths, in a manger with hay. The Messiah. The Prince of Peace. The Son of God.

“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Jesus Shed Installed

The miracle of Christmas is this: In that humble, dingy, smelly stable was born a man who would give sight to the blind, feed the hungry, make the lame leap, raise the living from the dead, turn water into wine, walk on water, and love all of us so much that he willingly died in order that we might live with him in his kingdom. And he did ALL of it with great love.

I want to leave you on this Christmas Eve with the image of Mary cradling her newborn infant. She has no idea what is in store for this child, but her faith tells her that he will do great things. Most of which she probably can’t even imagine.

Jesus Shed in Place 12-20-19

“Mary, Did You Know?”

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb!

Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.

 

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Traveling Monitor Bag

At the beginning of December I had to travel for work. I had to go to our facility in North Carolina in order to help with the physical year-end inventory count. I was taking my laptop, but our ERP software is super tiny when viewed on my laptop screen. In order to work from home Jay purchased a second computer monitor for me. I decided that I was going to take this monitor with me on my business trip. Luckily I was driving so I didn’t have to worry about getting it on a plane. All I had to do was get it to North Carolina in one piece. I decided that I would make a bag for it. Now, I’ve tried to make a monitor bag before, but to be completely honest it really sucked.

I decided that I wanted to have solid sides with cushioned interiors. I knew that Jay had a lot of extra luan laying around, so I drew up my plans with that in mind. Here is the drawing that I created for this project:

Monitor Bag Drawing

Art was not my best subject in school.

I gave Jay the dimensions, and with his assistance, I glued some foam to one side of the luan.

Monitor Bag - Luan Pieces

The thin piece on the right is for the bottom. I wanted a sturdy bag.

I used a fairly dense, but thin, foam for one side of the luan.

Monitor Bag - Foam Side

I then took a flannel sheet and cut pieces out of it to fit the padded luan, plus the bottom piece. Then I serged around the edges with the luan in the flannel pocket. This was a bit tricky at some points!

Monitor Bag - Cushioned Sides

It is definitely not the prettiest serging job, but it worked.

Next I dug through a tote of fabric to see what I had that would work. I wanted something sturdy that wouldn’t stretch. I came across a corduroy jumper that I must have purchased at either Goodwill or Salvation Army. The skirt of the jumper gave me plenty of material with which to work.

Monitor Bag - Corduroy Material

If I remember correctly, I doubled up the pieces to give it a little more structure. Again, I didn’t want anything happening to the monitor in transit. I then added a snap closure and some handles. Within a short amount of time I had a decent shell.

Monitor Bag Shell

I placed the luan bottom and padded sides in the bag.

Monitor Bag Clearance

I started to get nervous at this point. I had spent all afternoon working on this and HAD to have it done that day. Would that be enough room for the monitor without squishing it? I worried about the screen and what damage might get done if it was squished incorrectly.

Monitor Bag in Use

There definitely wasn’t any wiggle room, but I was able to get it in and out without too much of a struggle.

Monitor Bag with Padding

It worked! The monitor traveled over 1100 miles and worked perfectly every time I turned it on. When I had my hands full and it was banging around my legs I didn’t have to worry that I was ruining the screen. This was definitely a good use of my time!

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A.C. (No)Moore…

I know that by now this is old news, but I felt like I needed to blog about it.

If you haven’t heard, A.C. Moore is closing. ALL of their stores. ALL OF THEM.

Recital Kimberly Up Close

My sister is perfectly modeling the despair I felt when I heard the news. “No! It can’t be! Tell me it isn’t so!” The only reason why I didn’t throw myself on the floor and throw a good ol’ fashioned temper tantrum was because I was just a few minutes away from leaving for work. I couldn’t get my clothes all messed up. On the inside, though, I was child-in-a-candy-store-not-getting-what-she-wanted screaming. It was bad.

Why am I so upset? As I stated to Jay, “A.C. Moore has the best yarn!”

“There are other places that sell yarn,” you may be saying. Yes, there are, however, the A.C. Moore brand was THE BEST.

Project Linus Blanket #22 - Yarn

They carried the Nicole brand of yarn. It’s so much softer and plumper than your regular acrylic yarn. It was a dream to crochet with and the blankets were always snugglier. It was slightly more expensive than Red Heart, but completely worth it!

Project Linus Blanket #21 Detail

It even looks softer. So when Jay told me that A.C. Moore was closing, my heart broke! Why couldn’t it have been Michaels? They have an okay selection of yarn, but a lot of the affordable acrylics are scratchier than Red Heart. The regular brands that they carry don’t appeal to me because I feel that they are too expensive for what you are buying. I’ve just never been inspired by Michael’s selection. They like to carry a lot of the ‘trendy’ stuff and none of what people are actually using. At least, that’s my opinion.

I do love Hobby Lobby yarn, but it’s even pricier than the Nicole brand so I only used it when I couldn’t find the right color any where else. I guess that once I get through my current stash I will be purchasing my yarn from them.

I have purchased yarn online from Ice Yarns, but there are times when you really just want to touch and see the yarn before committing to buying it.

This whole situation put me into quite the conundrum. On one hand, I really don’t need more yarn and I had said that I wasn’t going to buy anymore until after the 1st of the year. On the other hand, this yarn would no longer be sold and it’s my favorite. “What am I going to do?” I asked Jay. Because he loves me he said, “I guess that you should go stock up.”

Jay Dressed Up

(Sorry, ladies. He’s taken!)

So that’s what I did. It was the day before Thanksgiving and while everybody else was making last minute trips to the grocery store in a panic, I was making one last trip to A.C. Moore in a panic. What if all of the yarn is gone?! What if I never get to purchase another skein of Nicole’s yarn again?? They were having a heck of a Black Friday sale on the one pound skeins plus they had sent me a coupon for $10 off the purchase of $40 or more (including sale items).

When I arrived at the store I was shocked. The news had only been out for two days (I was a little late to the party), but the yarn selection had already been decimated! A good portion of the bins within arm’s reach were already empty. I began to despair. Then luckily I found some skeins that were up higher where I could reach. So I filled my cart.

ACMoore Yarn Haul 11-27-19

I brought home two giant bags. I think I counted 30 skeins of yarn. I wanted just the basic colors that I use a lot: black, white, brown. I found a few burgundy and green skeins, so I grabbed those. I spent more than I would have wanted, but to be fair I ended up saving slightly more with the sale price than what I actually spent.

ACMoore Yarn Haul Skeins 11-27-19

And it was worth it. I told Jay that this could count as a Christmas present. After all, I would love to get premium acrylic yarn for Christmas. I even offered to let him wrap each skein, but he declined.

So now what’s the plan? First, I have to finish pouting.

Pouting Kimberly-Recital

Then I saw that Glenda over at Creative Grandma is getting some help from Premier Yarns to try to get the big box stores to take notice. Premier Yarns has set up a survey to better understand the needs of the people who use yarn. If you knit or crochet please take a moment to fill out the survey.

I would love to see more of their yarns in the big box stores. Michael’s and Wal-Mart have some of their yarns, but not nearly the selection or variety as A.C. Moore carried. Maybe if enough of us make our voices heard we will get a better variety of the reasonably priced premium acrylic and won’t have to walk past the shelves of the icky stuff. One can dream…

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Woodworking – Stocking Holders

‘Twas the day after Thanksgiving and all through the house,

not a Chester was stirring, and Bob was a grouch.

Sorry, I thought I would try to get into the holiday spirit. It didn’t work.

The day after Thanksgiving I spent most of the day getting the Christmas stuff out and trying to get it all put up. I had to leave for North Carolina for a work trip two days later, so I wanted to get it all done before I left. I ran into a problem, though.

I tried to hang up our stockings, but they wouldn’t stay put.

Side Stocking Hanger

Between the little hook on the holder and the garland pushing at the stocking, it wasn’t going to stay. If the stockings were just decorative then I wouldn’t worry about it. However, I usually put a few things in Jay’s stocking and I didn’t want it to be always falling.

I didn’t blame Santa. I blamed his designer.

Stocking Hanger

I ran into this issue last year and decided that I needed heavier hangers. If they were heavier then they could hold the stocking a little better. I looked ALL OVER, but everything felt really light. When I weighed St. Nick I found out that he weighs 1.2 lbs. Seriously, Santa? I would expect a man of your dimensions to be a bit heftier.

So, I took my problem to the best designer I know.

Jay's Broken Foot 5-30-19

He was kind of disappointed when I told him that all I wanted were some heavy boxes with hooks. I didn’t want anything fancy because they are going on the mantle surrounded by lights and other fancy things.

These are the boxes:

Unfinished Stocking Boxes

They look like square cat butts, don’t they?

I wanted a simple finish, and since they are oak I went with Danish Oil to just highlight the color and grain.

Finished Stocking Box

Isn’t the change amazing? I really love how the finishing oils work on woods to bring out their natural beauty.

I had to let them dry, but then they were finished.

Completed Stocking Box

How pretty is that?!

You’re probably wondering how Jay weighted them. Let me show you.

Stocking Box Assembly

The box is hollow and two of Jay’s workshop weights fit in each one.

Weighted Stocking Box

I weighed this and it is 2.4 lbs. At least, according to my electronic scale. I was too lazy to carry them downstairs and use Jay’s scale.

Let’s see how they look on the mantle.

Stocking Box on Mantle

Oooo… pretty!

The real test was to add the stocking.

Stocking Box Hanger

That holds better than Santa, but I might ask for some design changes for next year.

In the meantime, I wish you and yours a very blessed and Merry Christmas.

Fire Mantle 2019

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Dear Santa – 2019

Dear Santa,

This year has been rough. Plans were waylaid.

Gettysburg: Day 3

Projects took longer than expected.

Lean-To Revised 9-28-19

And beloved pets were lost.

Not all was bad. We did have an engagement and wedding that helped us remember that love will prevail.

Pauline and Remi 8-3-19

Santa, it’s the time of year when we are bombarded by marketing campaigns telling us how badly we need the latest technology. Or they make us think that if we don’t get our loved ones really terrific gifts then we will ruin their Christmas. And yet, while we sit in our warm houses agonizing over the decision to upgrade from an iPhone 8 to an iPhone 11, there is somebody out there shivering in the dark without a home.

My Christmas wish is not for me. I have everything that I could ever desire. I have a wonderful husband.

Me and Jay

A terrific family.

Family Picture

Wonderful friends and a very spoiled cat. So, Santa, there isn’t really anything that I need this year. I already have it all.

Instead, I ask that you please feed the hungry,

Veggie Beef Soup 10-9-19

please clothe the naked,

WEC All Sewed Together 9-13-19

and shower love on those who need it the most.

Project Linus Blanket #21 6-2-19

Santa, on Christmas Eve please deliver love to all those who are filled with hate so that we might finally find peace on earth. That is my Christmas wish.

Quilted Nativity Scene

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Crocheted Christmas Gifts – 2019

I have a confession to make. I haven’t worked on a Project Linus blanket for a little bit. I’ve been working on crocheted Christmas gifts. There are some that I can’t show because I think those friends read this blog, but I can show you some other projects.

I decided that I had a lot of crochet cotton so I made some dish cloths.

Christmas Dish Cloths 2019

I decided that since I’d made some dish cloths then I also needed to make some scrubbies.

This fall JoAnn Fabrics had a really great sale on fleece so I bought some yardage for lap blankets. I then found some border patterns and crocheted around them.

Christmas Fleece Blankets 2019

I think they turned out okay. I’ll give you a closer look at the borders.

First we have the Atlanta Braves blanket.

Braves Fleece Blanket 2019

The pictures are kind of dark due to my poor lighting, but you get the idea.

Braves Fleece Blanket Border 2019

I did more of a ruffled border for this blanket.

Next, I worked on a Steelers blanket for my friend’s husband (and kind of for her, too).

Steelers Fleece Blanket 2019

The interesting thing about this blanket is that on the reverse side it’s got a faux wool backing so it’s extra cozy. I found an angular border that I felt went really well with the Steelers’ logo.

Steelers Fleece Blanket Border 2019

In this picture I was trying to show that there’s also a black toothy border along the very outside edge, next to the yellow.

The last one to show is an Air Force blanket for my step-niece. She just graduated from Air Force basic training and she is being assigned to a base in Colorado.

Air Force Fleece Blanket 2019

The colors in the yarn that I used for the Warm Embers Cardigan were perfect for this blanket so I used it even though it was chunkier than the pattern really required.

Air Force Fleece Blanket Border 2019

It’s a nice ruffle, though, so I left it. Also, I don’t think that the recipient will really mind.

As you can see, I’ve been slightly busy, but then I decided that there was another project that I needed to do before Christmas. As a special little treat to myself, I decided that I wanted a sparkly top for Christmas Eve. I looked through all kinds of patterns and then finally found one.

Abundant Motifs Tunic Picture

This appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Crochet! Magazine. I knew exactly what yarn I wanted to use…. Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn in Metallic Black.

I can picture it with a black skirt and a red turtleneck. Won’t that look great??

To make this I have to make 12 large motifs, 32 medium motifs and I don’t know how many connecting wheels. A few weeks ago I posted about substituting yarn in blanket patterns and I mentioned that when it comes to garments you have to pay closer attention to gauge. I want to show you why.

Abundant Motifs Tunic Lg Motifs 11-28-19

Here are four of the twelve large motifs that I have to make. Can you spot the obvious issue?

Motif Gauge Difference

This might be a better picture. I tested my gauge and it matched. I changed hook sizes because the pattern called for a #3 light yarn, but my choice is a #4 worsted. I crocheted the left motif with a tighter stitch. The finished motif is suppose to measure 6.25″, but lacking the finished round you can see that the motif on the right is almost that size already. If I don’t pay attention to the gauge then it’s not going to fit like the design shows in the picture. What I’ll probably end up doing it pulling out the larger motif and recrocheting it with a smaller hook and a tighter stitch.

I just wanted to give you a visual of how important gauge can be when making a garment as compared to a blanket.

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