Advent Week 1 - The Littlest Angel

WEEK 1 - Gift Giving From the Heart
The book: The Littlest Angel
The craft: Wool roving angels (natural wool roving)
The recipe: Angel wings
The applique: An angel

Children are constantly learning whether we are aware of it or not. Think about this. How many times between now and December 25 do you think someone will ask your child, "And what do YOU want for Christmas?" A very innocent question, and one that is sure to get a response from even the shyest child. But if the conversation stops there, we are teaching our children that Christmas is all about receiving.

Many years ago, I was in a Community Bible Study, and one day the speaker made this statement... "Children are born selfish, we have to teach them to be giving." My first reaction was, "NO! Children are innocent. They learn selfishness." But the more I thought about it, the more I began to agree with her. Of course, babies are innocent, but they are also self serving... they have to be to survive. As parents we teach our children to care, to love and to share by our actions. Christmas is a perfect time to help children discover the joy of giving to others and what it means to give from the heart.

The lovely story The Littlest Angel, by Charles Tazewell is a wonderful way to share this concept with children.   It was first published in 1946 and has been in print ever since. It is a small wonder that so many of us grew up with this story! I remember the story from Christmas time when I was a little girl, and it was one of my children's favorites. Over the years there have been many different illustrators but the story has remained the same. Our well loved copy is from the late 1970s, and although dated, I love the illustrations.The version that is in print today is beautiful, though, and I've been tempted to order this updated copy!

The story is about how the Littlest Angel is having trouble adjusting to Heaven. An Understanding Angel retrieves the Littlest Angel's Earthly treasure box for him to help in his transition. Just as he receives it, the Christ child is born. In an act of pure selflessness, he decides to give his most prized possessions to the Baby Jesus. Almost immediately he regrets his decision because he thinks his gift looks so ugly next to the beautiful gifts the other angels are giving. But before he can become too distressed, God speaks. He proclaims the Littlest Angel's gift the best, because Jesus has taken a human form, and will be a human boy, and he will value the same treasures as The Littlest Angel. For the first time he feels like he belongs in Heaven!

I know in our family, we used this story to help spark discussions of selfless giving. I also love this story because when speaking about Jesus, we often talk about the babe in the manger or the grown man. We tend to forget the time in between. But Jesus was a little boy, too! It's a concept children enjoy thinking about!

BTW... To share the concept of giving from the heart with older children, share O'Henry's story of the Gift of the Magi. A young couple learns about the joys of giving when they both give up their most prized possessions to by gifts for each other.

Tomorrow... Wool Roving Angels 

Join Our Advent Celebration!

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. This is a very special time for our family as we prepare for Christmas. I have put together Advent Activities to do with the wee ones and happily will be sharing our activities with you. In case you would like to join us with all or part of our activities, I'm giving a quick overview here, so you can collect books and materials in advance. I don't have all the details hammered out, but in general, there will be a book each week, an applique block, a kid craft, a recipe and possibly an extended craft. I've also included a rudimentary supply list to get you started. Whether you join us for all the activities or just some, we hope your family has a joyous and meaningful Advent!

WEEK 1 - Gift Giving From the Heart
The book: The Littlest Angel
The craft: Wool roving angels (natural wool roving)
The recipe: Angel wings
The applique: An angel

WEEK 2 - Symbols of Christmas  
The book: The Legend of the Poinsettia
The craft: Weaving a small blanket (scrap yarns for a 3" x 5" blanket)
The recipe: Sopapillas
The applique: A poinsettia

WEEK 3 - Celebrating With Family
The book: Christmas in the Big Woods
The craft: A Gingerbread House
The recipe: Pancake men
The applique: a log cabin

WEEK 4 - Birth of Jesus

The book: Room for A Little One
The craft: Nativity with Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus (using 2 large people bodies and 1 boy peg with assorted fabric scraps)
The recipe: Coffee cake birthday cake for Baby Jesus
The applique: not sure yet!

Lot's more detail and lot's more fun as we help the wee ones prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

A Tad Bit Obsessive

Tim and I have had one of those rare weekends that we stayed home... alone. Doesn't happen often, and it is also the beginning of a week long vacation for Tim. YAY! Being behind after the trip to the kids, I finally got Halloween put away, and we decided to kind of skip over Thanksgiving and shift directly to Christmas. Tim has long since given up trying to understand my obsession with Christmas, and simply good-naturedly, indulges me. Between working on a craft I hope to publish tomorrow, I've slowly been getting out some Christmas wrappings. I must admit, my holiday preparations have been trimmed back the past few years as we've become semi-empty nesters, BUT I still love every moment of the holiday season, and can't seem to focus on anything else. Today I was reminded of a blog I wrote for One Generation to Another back on December 4, 2007. I hope you enjoy!

“You’re nuts,” she said.

“Yep,” I agreed.

“No, I’m serious. You have a problem,” she continued.

“I’m not arguing with you. You’re right,” I concurred.

“You should get help,” she belabored the point.

“Probably,” I acknowledged.

“Does look great in here, though,” she conceded.

“Thanks,” I said, as I continued to swag say, hmmm, at least a mile of evergreen roping on my living room rafters.*

She was referring to Christmas, or more to the point, my obsessiveness with the Holiday. I will be the first to admit I’m obsessive, but genetically speaking, it’s in my blood. My father was obsessive…just ask my mom; use to drive her to distraction. Didn’t matter what he got interested in, he obsessed. It could be his new stereo, playing bridge, collecting big band music, outwitting neighborhood squirrels or to her total vexation, “That damn computer!” Obsessive people totally get it when others become fixated on their latest interest, but non obsessive people (yes, I would go as far as calling them “normal” people) don’t understand how we lose the total capacity for rational and appropriate involvement with our most recent pursuits.

Case in point…my daughter, also possessing the obsessive gene, has recently become fixated on baby carriers, even after using them and making her own for several years. Undoubtedly, the general public would say it isn’t necessarily time well spent. This particular carrier is for her third child, she doesn’t plan to have any more, and her toddler will only be in it for the next couple of months, BUT, to an obsessive person, this doesn’t matter. Once bitten, all that matters is that she acquires information and an impressive understanding of the structural, historical, safety, and fashion worthiness of ALL carriers; past and present. She can identify which styles originated in Central America, the Far East, or with the Plain’s Indians. She knows which carriers are manufactured in this country, those hailing from China or Europe (ah, those elusive and highly sought after Scandinavian models), and those being sewn by half-crazed women trying to find ways of making money, while staying at home with their children. These women, btw, are the ones that she prefers to support, herself being a half-crazed women trying to find ways of making money, while staying at home with her children! Birds of a feather!

Anyway, most obsessive people could give you a fairly comprehensive list of their lifetime obsessions. For the non obsessive, let me explain that there are two distinct forms of obsessions. The first is what I refer to as “A passing fancy.” These are the interests that totally consume us for a time; you might say they are the spice of life, providing variety and interest, not sustenance. In days of old, these obsessions lead us to libraries and museums or taunted us to take classes and consult “professionals”. Today, the Internet has eliminated the necessity of moving from the comfort of our homes as a world of information is now available for the taking 24/7. If you live with an obsessive individual, you can wait for these phases to pass. Sooner or later, usually sooner, when we’ve acquired enough information to sate our curiosity and provide us with just enough data to be hence forth insufferably knowledgeable on the topic, we become bored and move on to our next fascination. The more diabolic of obsessions, which I refer to as “life long passions”, do not go away; EVER! These are seen in the guy next door that loses sleep because a mole has attacked his perfectly groomed lawn or the woman who would rather miss her child’s graduation than the latest issue of People Magazine. (Good Lord, how would you know whether or not Angelina Jolie’s new tattoo is written in Arabic or Swahili?) Then there is the guy who will play golf in a thunderstorm, or yours truly, who goes slightly (uh, slightly, extensively, why quibble over semantics, right?), overboard preparing for Christmas! (Ah, bet you never thought I’d get this back to Christmas!)

But there you have it. I totally and completely obsess over Christmas. (A book is required on that topic, a weekly blog simply won’t do!) But who can blame me? In my opinion, Christmas is the ultimate legal, feel-good, addictive drug. I love the colors (uh, my house is predominately red and green, so you kinda feel like you’re at the North Pole, even in August!), I love the smells, and I love the way people act. To quote Frank Cross in the movie Scrooged, Christmas is…”the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we-we-we smile a little easier, we-w-w-we-we-we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be.” And that, my friends, justifies all the prep and planning. While preparing for Christmas, I enter a euphoric state. I think of how people will feel when they’re snuggled on the couch, wassail in hand, taking in the room. I can hear friends and family giggle as they unwrap gifts. (I wrap EVERYTHING separately…even dividing up pairs of socks into individual boxes…let’s face it, opening gifts is as much fun as owning what’s inside!) And I love how the child in all of us surfaces each Christmas Eve as we slyly scan the evening sky, still wanting to believe! And although the Holidays can stress us out, there is indeed something magical about the season. Strip away the commercialism, extended visitations with in-laws, and increased waistline girth, and the essence of the Holiday shines through, like the Christmas Star. Christmas is a time for all of us to be the people we always hoped we would be. Come on, obsess a little or a lot…it’s allowed, and in my opinion, desired!

*That year I hung EXCESSIVE amounts of greenery from the rafters, filling the room with not only the smell of the great outdoors, but enough allergens to keep us rubbing our red, itchy eyes throughout the month! BTW…Safety note…NEVER throw what amounts to a quarter acre of dried boughs in a fireplace and try to burn it all at once. This falls into the realm of scathingly brilliant mistakes and fodder for a future blog!

Pumpkin Recipe Marathon!!!

At the end of October we invited readers to share their favorite pumpkin recipes. Because the markets are overflowing with the fall harvest right now, it makes sense that pumpkin is such a common ingredient in fall cooking. The smell of spicy pumpkin dishes always makes me think of cool autumn days, and of family, friends and the holidays.

Our plan was to tuck in a recipe here and there as they came in. Well... things got crazy and we had lots of wonderful recipes, and here we are, days before Thanksgiving, and many recipes we have yet to share. We decided to have a Pumpkin Recipe Marathon. So throughout the day, we will be posting several pumpkin recipes. New recipes can be viewed directly under this post. 

We again want to thank everyone that shared a recipe. And, we hope all readers take the time to look over the recipes, visit our contributor's blogs, and enjoy yourself baking some luscious pumpkin recipes! 

Oh, btw... wonderful Timothy got our recipes organized. Just a wee bit of tweaking needs to be done BUT they are now visible and in an order that is useful. Check out the new format HERE!

Holiday Give Away - Poinsettia Garland Kit

EDIT: The contest is now closed. The winners will be announced Monday, November 15. Good luck to all!

Back in 1980 I first caught a glimpse of a fabric garland in the book Treasury of Christmas Crafts and Foods. It was a large garland, strung around an entire room, and I vowed to make it. Well, here it is, 30 years later, and each and every year I'd pull out the old book, which always opened to that page, and I'd say "This year!" 

Finally, swallowing a hearty dose of reality, I realized I would never make a fabric garland that spanned an entire room, BUT, I could redesign one that spanned my mantel! So, using my beloved garland as an inspiration, I designed a garland that was just right. Plus, given my love of working with felt, I created felt poinsettias to embellish the garland. This year, I made the garland, finally taking it off my to-do list after 30 years!

So you can well imagine, when Michelle and I teamed up with Julie, from Prairie Point Junction, and started talking about a Give-Away, I knew immediately what we wanted to do. I wanted to share the pattern for my Poinsettia Garland and Julie agreed to provide materials for 2 kits! YAY! Each winner will receive materials to make approximately 9' of Poinsettia Garland. The kits include: 

1 Wee Folk Art Garland Mini Kit
Kit includes 1/3 yard each of Barnyard Red and Red wool blend felt, six wooden buttons, and four skeins of coordinating floss. (A $9.50 value)


1 Wee Folk Art Garland Fabric Selections:
Choose from the following 100% cotton green prints to complete your garland. Each garland requires 1 1/2 yards (1.5 yards) of fabric. (The value varies slightly depending on fabric selection.)

(My garland was made with fabric #1 but I LOVE them all!) The pattern and directions can be found HERE.

Everything is included to make approximately 9' of garland (6 poinsettias and 7 sections of roping) except paint for the wooden buttons, the batting, and sewing machine thread.

Julie has put together kits for purchase at her website HERE. And remember, as always, Julie provides Wee Folk Art readers a VERY generous 20% off their entire order... everyday! Just use the code WEEFOLKART at check out to get your discount.

NOW... about the Giveaway. There are several ways to enter this Giveaway and each gives you another chance to win.

1] Post a comment here (be sure to include a name... nicknames are fine).
2] Link to us through your blog, FaceBook, or Twitter. Post one additional comment for each link. Wow! That's up to 3 more chances to win! Make sure to include linking info.
3] Then, head over to Prairie Point Junction, visit their blog, and leave a big, juicy THANK YOU to Julie and her crew, then run back here and tell us you did, and yep, another chance to win!

So, if you were counting... you can enter FIVE times! Cool beans, right?

The contest will run from today, Wednesday, November 10 through Sunday, November 14, at 9:00 p.m. EST when 2 lucky winners will be chosen at random. Winners will be announced on our blog Monday, November 15.

Additionally... if it is possible you haven't been to Prairie Point Junction yet, it's high time you did! Since I discovered them, they have been my primary supplier of felt and other supplies. And remember, every day is a savings day at Prairie Point Junction if you are a Wee Folk Art reader! Just use the code WEEFOLKART at check out and with all the wonderful products available, I'm sure you'll be making good use of the discount... I know I do :)  

Good luck to one and all. And thanks again to Julie and her wonderful staff, for helping us say HAPPY HOLIDAYS with this giveaway!

Again, the pattern and directions for the Poinsettia Garland can be found HERE! Enjoy! 

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