Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Night in Bethlehem

Our church always has an annual Christmas dinner.  Sometimes its the usual sit-down dinner with some light entertainment.  One year it was a breakfast at the North Pole.  We have even had Christmas in Nauvoo.  But this year, we went all the way back in time to Bethlehem.  We have done this before and its always a lot of fun.  

Upon arrival, each person must stop and sign the census, pay their taxes (canned food for the needy) and pick up a bag of coins to purchase things in the marketplace.  Everyone is encouraged to come dressed in biblical attire.  If you don't have a costume, you can visit the tailor shop upon entering the city and get outfitted for the festivities.   Townspeople enjoy walking around the open market of Bethlehem for good food, music, and the smell of spices in the air.  The kids have fun making beeswax candles, shaping things from clay, and making wooden mallets in the carpenter's shop.  Each family can pick out something from the gift shop.  If you're tired, and you want to spend one of your gold coins, you can sit in the inn to eat your food.

A garland of bagels helps to define the bakery shop filled with many delightful home-baked goodies.

Next to the bakery was a shop offering lentil soup and smoked salmon.  Further down was the Pita Inn offering delicious pita pockets filled with chicken salad and cucumber slices.

Jasper, the donkey, was watching over the photo area.  Just a side note...Jasper is a well traveled donkey.  He has been south of the border, to Nauvoo, Bethlehem, and other various locations (depending on what church activity we're having!)

The fruit stand offered a variety of fresh fruit.

The gift shop was filled with ornaments depicting the nativity, small clay figurines of the nativity (some from red clay, others from fimo), simmering spice potpourri, and other small items.

Other shops were the dairy, serving cheese cubes and olives, and the "winery" serving grape juice.

The pottery shop allowed the kids to sculpt something from self-hardening clay.

The shop also had some pottery on display.

The other two shops were the candle shop, where beeswax candles could be made, and the popular carpenter's shop where a lot of enthusiastic pounding was taking place!

After everyone had enjoyed the market place, townspeople made there way into the chapel for a reenactment of the Christmas story and the singing of hymns, ending the evening with our thoughts toward the real reason that we celebrate Christmas.  I am thankful for the birth our Savior and for the life that he led so that we might have a perfect example to follow.  May we all strive to be more kind, more patient, more loving, more forgiving, more like Him!

Below is a beautiful, short video about the most important gift ever given.

This is a fun activity, but needs a lot of advance preparation for it to be a success.  You can find several ideas for this if you search the web.  A couple of things we did the first time was to get several castoff sheets from a local hotel.  I cut a cardboard stencil and used spray paint to make the stone walls surrounding the city.  I also dyed several sheets brown, blue, burgandy, and green.  These have come in very handy for covering all the tables.  The upright supports for all the awnings are 2x2's that are attached to the table legs with duct tape...lots of duct tape!  All of the baskets, pottery, fringed fabric, table runners, greenery, etc. were purchased over time from thrift stores (a fun assignment to have, I might add!)  We're lucky enough to have two large plywood boxes that fit on the roll-around carts under the stage for storage...and they are filled to the brim!  It takes several hours to build the city of Bethlehem, but with enough workers, only about 45 minutes to take it all down...yay!

I like to link to these great parties!


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gears, Gadgets, Goggles...Steampunk!

Every year our church has a Harvest Festival, which includes a chili cook-off, entertainment, trunk-or-treat, and costumes!  I love costumes and thought this year it would be fun to dress in a steampunk style and decorate the "trunk" of our van to match.  In case you don't know what steampunk is, here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery,[1] especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power.

So basically, I like to think of steampunk as Victorian Sci-fi, i.e. really fun costumes!  Of course a trip to the thrift store was in order.  As luck would have it, I discovered a local thrift store had already gathered steampunk inspired clothing and decorations and made a whole display from them.  Plus, it was half off women's clothing that day, so I got my jacket, black velveteen vest, and crushed velvet skirt all for $7!

I found a lace skirt at another thrift store.  Add that to the hat, belt, jewelry, boots, and victorian blouse I already had and I was well on my to completing my costume.

The victorian era blouse with the lace collar was just what this costume needed.

My pocket watch necklace originally made its appearance on my blog back in January of 2012.  It was the perfect accessory for this outfit.  The other necklace and wristwatch that I wore on my belt was already in my stash.

I just gathered and pinned the skirt up in the front to showcase the lace skirt underneath.

Of course, no steampunk outfit would be complete without the goggles!  I found a pair of green glasses with kaleidoscope lenses at a thrift store for 25¢.  I cut the sides down with my Dremel and drilled a couple of holes in each side so that I could attach some strapping. 

But first, I painted them gold and then layered on some copper and black metallic paint to distress them.  I super glued earrings to the side for decoration and used leather lacing to secure my straps.

I picked up a jewelers loupe at Harbor Freight for a few dollars and clipped it in place.

My husband and I like to match (or maybe its me that likes to match), either way it was time to work on his costume.  I picked up some welding goggles at Harbor Freight and got to work.  After taking them apart, I first sprayed them with a plastic primer hoping that it would make the spray paint adhere better.  Even so, the gold and silver spray paint crinkled up, but it was perfect for what I wanted.  Using a scrunched up piece of plastic wrap, I dabbed on copper, silver, and black metallic paints for a distressed effect.

I added some strapping and placed it on his top hat.

I found a lone knee pad at a thrift store and thought it would be perfect for his shoulder.  It basically got the same paint treatment as the other gadgets.  I added some straps and a buckle and he wore the pad on his shoulder with the straps going around his chest and back.

My husband is a good sport about dressing up, but it always helps to sweeten the deal if there are weapons involved.  In fact, we have been a gangster and flapper, pirates, a mediaeval knight and maiden, and Indiana Jones characters, to name a few...all involve weapons!  So this year it was no different.  Our futuristic steampunk weapons are in reality a squirt gun and toy gun that were worked over by a paint brush.

I used the same metallic paints as I did with the goggles.  I didn't worry too much about getting everything perfect considering they've probably been through a few battles already!

For the trunk-or-treat, we decorated our van in the same theme.  I rounded up things I had at home, and picked up a couple of things at the thrift stores.  My son had a plasma light that added some electric fun to the scene.  I also downloaded some vintage film footage of the industrial age and had it playing on the laptop.  To complete the whole feeling, we blasted Electro Swing music from the speakers...its a rather catchy genre of music!

The old dictionary was turned to the page featuring gears.  I highlighted the entry with this fun hands-free magnifying glass.

It was a fun style to dress in and made for a fun evening of food, entertainment, and handing out lots of candy!

I like to link to these great parties!

Monday, September 15, 2014

No-Sew Housecoat Refashion!

We had the fun of heading to the Oregon coast for Labor Day.  The weather was beautiful!  We played board games, walked on the beach, watched some football, and, or course, went to thrift stores....well, at least us girls went to the thrift stores!

I found some fun things that will be used for my upcoming bedroom redo.  And, I also found this sweet aqua, bandana print housecoat!  I loved the fabric at first glance and knew I wanted to do something with it.  I tried it on and realized that this might be my quickest refashion yet.  I figured all it needed was a belt, rolled sleeves, and some accessories.

I could have went through the effort of cutting it at the waist, taking in the bodice, reattaching the skirt, etc.  But, my wide elastic belt did all of that work for me!

I love the picot trim on the pockets.

That same trim also adorns the collar.

I accessorized with a black and white beaded necklace, beaded bracelet, and black heels.

So simple!

You can check out my other housecoat refashions (where the belt didn't do all the work!) here and here!

I like to link to these great parties!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Sewing Studio: The Accessories

So this is the final post of the "My Sewing Studio" series, giving you a little bit of info on the accessories in the room.

I love vintage patterns, but had a hard time finding the real thing in my local thrift stores.  Instead, I went to the internet and downloaded some of my favorites.  I then cut some colored mats from card stock and framed them in some frames I picked up for 50¢ each. 

I found this nifty replica of a vintage phone at a yard sale for $2.00.

My small closet (still lamenting a bit over not getting the bigger room with the walk-in closet...see original post as to why I don't have that room) anyway, my small closet allows me to hang some of my future refashions, and also stores containers of lace, ribbons, and trims.

I picked up this ugly thing for $2.00 at a thrift store...

It didn't stay ugly for long.  I switched out the "snake/dragon/serpent" painting for a cork board.  I cut out the word "INSPIRE" using my cricut.

The push pins were made by layering vintage buttons on top of each other and gluing them to a thumbtack.

I picked up this little wooden cabinet for $4.00 at a garage sale.  It was dark brown and one side had broken glass.  I replaced the glass and painted it to match the blue hutch.  It hangs across the room from the hutch which helps to bring that color of blue around the room.  

I spent $10.00 on some baby food jars and painted the lids green.  I already had in my stash spice containers which I painted to match also.  Then I had fun sorting all of my buttons by color.  I really lucked out having three different sizes of jars that fit perfectly on three different heights of shelves!

I found this mirror at a thrift shop, half price for $12.00.  I really liked the shape and felt that once painted, it would make a great addition to the sewing studio when trying on and fitting my refashions.

It was painted the same blue as the hutch, once again bringing the color across the room.  You can see the reflection of the blue hutch in the mirror.

I had a friend cut the vinyl lettering for me.  "IMAGINE" seemed like the perfect word to put above the mirror!

The clock started out as a simple $3.00 clock from Walmart.  I liked the bright color, but it wasn't substantial enough on the wall.  So, I picked up this metal tray for a couple of bucks.

I centered the clock on the tray and drew around the edge of the clock with a pencil, creating a circle.  I then measured on the back of the clock the distance from the outer edge to the clock's hanger.  I measured the same distance from my penciled edge and placed a mark on the tray.  I then drilled a hole big enough for a nail head to fit through.  I had to sand off the rough edges left by the drill bit.

Next, I sprayed the tray with cream colored spray paint.  When dry, I masked off the center and sprayed the edges with a nice teal.  Here's a hint, when masking off a circular design, use electrician's tape, it has a lot of stretch to it!

To hang it, I just placed the hole of the tray on a nail, then I placed the hanger of the clock on the same nail.  It centers perfectly on the tray and its easy to remove the clock when I need to change the battery!

And there you have it, all the accessories!

Total spent on accessories:

Picture frames.....$2.00
Pictures and mats.....printed and cut at home
Storage containers for trims....hand-me-down from a friend
Vintage style desk phone.....$2.00
Bulletin board....$2.00 (buttons and cork already on hand)
Small wooden cabinet....$4.00
Replacement glass.....$3.00
Baby food jars....$10.00 (with extra to spare)
Spice jars.....already on hand
Wall mirror.....$12.00
Vinyl lettering.....$8.00
Wall clock.....$3.00
Metal tray....$2.00

Total cost.....$48.00

Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this series.  If you missed any of them, check out the original post for links to all the projects!

I like to link to these great parties!

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