Block Printed Wrapping Paper

Last year we enjoyed printing Christmas & thank you cards with my eldest daughter’s designs, so this year we had a go at printing wrapping paper. This was a great project that we could all get involved with. My four year old did the design this time; a sweet reindeer drawing that made a great print.

 
Materials

1 roll of Plain wrapping paper

Block printing ink

Ink tray

Lino cutter

Ink roller /brayer 

Lino sheet

Paper

Pencil

Marker pen

Wooden block (cut to size of design)

Strong craft glue

1. Draw out a design. Using a thick marker pen on the lino.

2. Cut out the areas around the marked section. Trimming off excess lino. Glue to wooden block.

3. Roll out some ink and apply a very thin layer to the lino. 

4. Do some test prints for positioning and ink density.


5. Apply a very thin layer of ink after each print for an even finish.

6. Print the red noses. We used a flat crayon dipped lightly in ink but fingertip will do too.

7. Leave to dry.

8. Ready to wrap gifts!

Reading the Bible

Two months ago I finished reading the bible, it took 26 months. I’m not a big reader, I absolutely hate reading, the first thing I do with a book is flick through to find pictures. Years ago I tried to read the bible because I was intrigued, I started at the beginning but didn’t even make it past Genesis 1. It was big, old and boring. Some snippets I randomly read were lovely, some frightening and I couldn’t make any sense of it. But then I met Jesus and my heart was changed. This time I read with such excitement, starting at Matthew through to Acts then Revelation and then the letters. Finishing the New Testament I began the Old Testament at Genesis through to Deuteronomy continuing with intervals of the later OT books, then finishing with Psalms. 

This incredible book is no ordinary book. Some say it holds secret codes. Others say it’s just a load of fairytales. Truth is you can be the greatest bible scholar, the most respected theologian, attend church religiously but still not grasp it’s meaning. It’s possible to know the bible inside out, read it daily but be as the Jewish leaders that Jesus told “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:39-40

But it was never intended for human wisdom. “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:21. In our spiritual blindness and deafness, to which we are all born, it makes no sense to us. But God who loves you, who can not stop lavishing you with the best gifts freely gives you the eyes to see and the ears to hear. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” James 1:5

The whole book is centred on the greatest gift you will ever receive. It shows us the love of a Father who never gives up on us when we rebel, run, fail and fall time and time again. Who cannot stop giving us incredible gifts, who is righteous and just. We see a Father who is faithful in his promises, displaying his incredible love for all at the cross.

In poetry or songwriting, readers can come to many different conclusions about the meaning of a poem or song. But the only person who can ever give you the truth about it is the author. We know that “All Scripture is God-breathed” 2 Timothy 3:16. The big question is are you willing to go to the author to receive life? 

I now call the bible the greatest love letter. Somebody asked me what I’d do when I finished reading it, my reply “read it again and again and again of course!” Same as a love letter!! 

As I came towards finishing reading the bible, I began to wonder what the last verse I would read would be and it couldn’t have been more perfect; I was overjoyed when I read Psalm 150! What joy there is in his presence that our hearts overflow with praise now and for all eternity! 

Light Party 

It was such a treat to spend time just me and my eldest on Halloween night; to take her out for dinner, watch the sunset and then go to a light party with music, games and glow sticks. During the evening pumpkins were given out to prep and while we scooped out all the seeds and placed a light inside, a lady spoke of this being like what God wants to do with our hearts; take out all the sadness and mess and fill it with light, joy and peace. I thought it was a really lovely simple way to interpret the verse “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 

If you are someone who is yet to encounter the magnitude of God’s love, it doesn’t matter how old or young you are he is ready to drench you in it the moment you ask. Do you have to earn it? Definitely not. Do you have to try and be good or do good things? Not a chance! Do you have to try and change yourself? Not one bit. Do you have to hide all the bad stuff? Absolutely not. You have a Father who has dealt with the darkness and is ready to ignite the heart that asks a with the light that can never ever be extinguished.

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13 

Homemade Sparkly Scented Play Dough

We get through so much play dough that I thought I’d be worth having a go making it ourselves. I’ve tried a couple of times before but always ended up with that stodgy floury nursery school smelling stuff. This time I experiented with some different ingredients and invested in some good essential oils. The children enjoyed having different fragrances to sniff, they love smelling the tester perfumes in shops so it was great to have an activity like this at home. 

To make four colours –

You will need 

2 cups plain flour

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1/2 cup salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

1 – 1.5 cups of warm previously boiled water

Food colouring 

3-4 drops of glycerine

Essential oils

Vanilla essence

Bowls

Wooden spoons

Plastic containers to store play dough 

Glitter


I used cinnamon leaf, pine needle and mandarin essential oils and vanilla essence. Make sure to research the oils which are safe for you and children, also in pregnancy and breastfeeding. Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil such as grapeseed oil.

I have used grapeseed oil with all my children in baby massage so I knew their skin wouldn’t react to it. A good tip my baby massage instructor showed me, if using for the first time, is to dab a little on the wrist and wait ten minutes to see if there is a reaction or not.

I divided the ingredients into four so the children could make a tub with a different colour and scent each. But you can always make one batch and then divide the dough to  colour and fragrance.

1. Into four bowls add flour, salt and cream of tartar. 


2. In a separate jug add 2-3 drops of essential oil (or 1tsp vanilla essence) to a teaspoon of grape seed oil and glycerine.

3. Add a 1/4 cup of warm water to the mixture and add the food colouring. 

4. Take one of the bowls of the flour mixture and slowly combine the wet mixture with the dry, adding more plain water if needed, until you get a bread dough like consistency that can be kneaded.

5. Adding different colours and scents repeat stages 2,3,4 for the remaining three bowls of flour mix  

I used yellow with vanilla, green with pine needle, orange with mandarin and red with cinnamon.



6. Place the dough on a smooth surface and add a sprinkle of glitter (too much will cause the dough to crack). 

7. Knead the dough well and it’s ready for play. 


8. Work into a soft ball and store in airtight containers when finished with


If you feel the dough needs refreshing at any point rub a few drops of grapeseed oil into hands and work though the dough, it moistens the dough and your hands!

Make a Children’s Apron 

Materials

Oil cloth 

Invisible thread 

Apron tape 150cm

Cotton thread to match rear side of oil cloth

Cotton thread to match apron tape

Paper Scissors 

Fabric scissors 

90/14 machine needle

Teflon machine foot

Pattern paper

Pencil 

Set square 

Sew on Velcro (2cm wide and 7cm length)


1. Draw pattern using set square for straight edges and making the arm curves not to severe otherwise it won’t hem well.

2. When happy with pattern, cut the oilcloth 

3. Cut x3 50cm of apron tape

4. Double fold the end of two of the strips of apron tape and stitch with coordinating cotton

5. Hem the arm curves with a single fold (approx 0.8cm) and stitch in place, using invisible thread in the spool and cotton thread that matches the backside of the oil cloth in the bobbin.

6. Stitch the two unhemmed tapes in position as shown above

7. Stitch the remaining tape to the two points shown above.

8. Hem the remaining edges

9. Change the bobbin thread to the colour that matches the tape. Fold back and stitch all four points where tape is attached 


To make the neck strap adjustable… 

10. Cut the neck strap 11cm up on the right and hem both ends.

 

11. Sew 5cm of the hook side of Velcro to the short part of the strap and sew 7cm of the loop side to the long part making sure they fasten as pictured below.

Rejoice

A couple of months ago I found myself spiritually lacking, the fire had gone, the comfort had gone, the overflow of joy was no where to be found. I felt lost. I felt like God had abandoned me. I blamed him for the tough journey I was facing. Why couldn’t life be straightforward, I succumbed to the fact that the pattern of my life had never been straightforward so what did I expect now. I was down on every aspect of my life. I whinged to God about it all and even complained that me and my family don’t go to church and I felt left out. But even in my angry rants and my sorry self pitying painful state, I couldn’t shake off the hope, the light, the certainty and the excitement that the turnaround was near. I waited on his word. 

It is such a good and impossible-to-comprehend feeling to have everything come crashing down around and to feel so weak but to have a well of hope bursting from the centre of your being, to sing praises in the pain because God is good, his plans are always good, every rocky path leads to a place that is good. 

I took the children to a free community event, after crafts and play we sat in a tea room tent. A group of belly dancers were performing and I was shrinking into my seat hoping I wouldn’t get called up to participate. After the audience participation was over, a man was introduced and began to tell his story. He articulated everything I had been feeling and his words sank so deep into my soul that tears uncontrollably started running down my cheeks. I felt embarrassed I was crying in a room of strangers and wanted to leave but no sooner than he’d put the microphone down I stood up, approached him and told him his words had really spoken to me. He spoke such words of sweetness and encouragement to me, “yes of course you can pray for me” I answered and he very simply prayed peace over me. He gave me a big hug and reminded me to always speak truth over myself. The next day I had a renewed strength. 

When we are in the wilderness we become acutely aware of our spiritual need, nothing and no one can satisfy but God and through the trials our faith is strengthened. We long for deeper and cling on harder and grow stronger to stand firmer than ever before. I love Psalm 63:1 David writes “my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you”. Jesus is always pulling us closer, he is “the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2) It’s so easy to get comfortable where we are, but He never leaves us stagnant, he lovingly disciplines us, guiding us in the right direction. He continually draws us in more so we get to know him more intimately, positioning us perfectly so we can see the unraveling of everything he has already laid out before us, leading us further into spiritual maturity. 

The weekend before last as I walked along a pier I got talking to a woman and as I was about to leave she pulled me back and prayed for me, she prayed with such power and authority about deep things that I hadn’t told her or anyone. As I walked back to the shore I couldn’t help smiling because that is the Church; in tea rooms, on piers, all over the place. The body of Christ, one in spirit. He in us.

The trials will come, the temptations will come, the spiritual battle is on but it’s not an ordinary fight because we are fighting from victory ground and “the weapons we fight with are not not weapons of the world” as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:4

So “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 

I was Blind but now I See

  

Luke 24:13
Jesus walks along with two followers returning from Jerusalem but they are kept from recognising him. I love that he asks them what’s wrong because God’s humour really shines through here, it reminds me of the playful excitement of a parent when they’ve got you your dream gift but haven’t told you yet. The two friends are so sad, they can’t understand what has happened to the one who was to save them. They had heard the news “Jesus has risen” but it seemed like nonsense to them. I love the way Jesus pulls out their feelings by asking them questions. 

We have a loving father who doesn’t give up on us even when we have given up, who walks with us even when we are unaware that he does, who is here to listen and take our worries and problems and breathe on us the truth that overcomes the lies.

Jesus explains everything to them. When they arrive at their destination, Jesus goes to continue on. It’s only after they urge him to stay with them, inviting him in and Jesus breaks bread and gives it to them that “their eyes were opened and they recognised him and he disappeared from their sight”. Then it hits home that it had been Jesus all along -“Were not our hearts burning within us as he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us”. And even though it was late and they had wanted to get back home they couldn’t hold in their excitement and joy and immediately return to Jerusalem to share the good news with the others.

When you urge Jesus to stay with you, accepting Him as your Lord and Saviour, he comes to live in you. Your ears and eyes are opened to him, he gives you the wisdom to understand his word and a new heart capable of doing his will.

In 2 Corinthians 3:16 we read
“But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed”. Just one encounter with the risen Christ will change your life for eternity. There are no special words, no special place to be, no special praying position, just a heart that says “yes” to receive God’s greatest gift. Jesus is walking right along side you now, waiting for you to invite him in, longing with such joy to give you eyes that see, to enjoy the beauty of his presence now and for ever.