Sarah makes a book

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girl, craftsMy friend, Sarah, came over for an afternoon of crafts a few weeks ago. It was the day before her birthday so we decided to make a special book that would be ‘all about her’.

In preparation for book-making, I went online to find some inspiration and ideas on different types of hand made books. I was very happy to find Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord’s website www.makingbooks.com. Susan is an artist and works mainly with natural materials as she explores ‘connections between nature, aesthetics and spiritual transcendence’. My favorite of her works is The Spirit Books, a powerful collection of handmade books that took my breath away when I first saw it on her blog. Each book is made with natural materials, handmade papers, coconut shells, etc., and features stitching and beadwork. Each book sits in a cradle of twigs, driftwood or twisted vines. She has published a book featuring this collection and I promptly ordered it for myself. Now that I have found The Spirit Books, I could not live without them. Click here for the cabinorganic blog post on The Spirit Books.

I digress! But please, do check out her website!

Back to making books with children: Susan has been making books with children in schools and in small groups for over 20 years. Her www.makingbooks.com website features eight book designs and there are a number of youtube videos of Susan demonstrating how to make a few of them. She also provides PDF versions of the instructions and I have printed them all out for myself as I would eventually like to try making all of them. Susan is a fantastic teacher and I really like how she stresses re-using and recycling paper and cardboard for the books.

Sarah's book

Of the eight book designs, I decided on ‘the stick and elastic’ and gathered the materials. We used colored paper, some decorative scrap booking papers and photographs of Sarah and her family. When Sarah arrived, I described the project to her and she dove right in, easily decorating her first pages. The book was a ‘Celebration of Sarah’ and she had no trouble coming up with ideas on how to illustrate each page.

Sarah's book

 

Sarah's book

Once she finished all of her artwork we assembled the book. Instead of an elastic we chose some ribbon that complemented the color of the cover and wrapped this around a twig. I think her book really turned out beautifully- a unique and true Celebration of Sarah.

Sarah's book

Sarah's book

Sarah's book

By the way, you may recognize the family picture above if you follow my friend, Adrienne’s blog: Becoming a Country Girl.

For a closer look at the stick and elastic design, here are a few photographs of my book.   (Note: Mine is still blank as my job was to keep 16 month- old Chayton distracted while Sarah worked. I’ll have to decorate mine later).

stick and elastic book

 

To keep things simple, I cut 10 pieces of white 8-1/2 x 11 card stock in half. I scored a line 1-inch from the left side on each page to give the book a cleaner look and make opening the book easier. We each got five pages which could be decorated on both sides. The covers were rich and colorful piece of card stock, again, cut in half for the front and back and scored on the left side. I punched two small holes in the left scored margin for the ribbon to go through. The twig anchored the ribbon and give a book a natural look.

hand made book

Sarah and I had a lot of fun together making our books. Very special thanks to Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord and her helpful ideas and instructions and for sharing The Spirit Books.

creating a craft/play space for Chayton

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kid's craft center

Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn. -O. Fred Donaldson

One of my favorite jobs as a mom is setting up and providing stimulating learning environments here at home for Chayton as he develops and grows. This is even more fun now that he is 16 months old and able to do so much more. To this end, each room in the house has some kind of basket or bin containing toys or other interesting household objects for him to discover and play with. These are changed every week to keep things exciting.

There are also a few learning ‘stations’ around the cabin as well. For example, the mattresses on the floor (where Chayton sleeps) are perfect for wrestling and doing gymnastics safely. There are lots of soft cushions for pillow fights and his favorite books are nearby for snuggling up and reading together before naps and bedtime. The coffee table in the living room is another perfect play surface. Chayton plays with dinosaurs, builds with lego, and reads books here while standing up.

kid's craft center

Play is the beginning of knowledge. -George Dorsey

Once Chayton began standing up a few months ago, I decided to set up this simple little play space in the kitchen. I wanted to encourage Chayton to keep practicing standing up so I used these two LACK end tables from IKEA and placed them on a non-slip carpet. Brian installed two BYGEL rails and hung the BYGEL containers. To finish the space, we hung a beautiful picture of a giraffe (at child’s eye level) that Chayton’s sister, Jenna did for him as a birthday gift.
kid's craft center

Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning. -Diane Ackerman

 
This set up hardly cost a thing and even though it may not look like much, it has become a very useful space for all kinds of things. Not only does Chayton play here, both on and around the table, but he also has snacks here, does crafts here and uses the space underneath to crawl and hide and park large trucks.
 

kid's craft center

 Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity. -Kay Redfield Jamison

I love the flexibility of this space. I can pull out the tables and seat a small group of young friends for crafts or snacks or play dough or real baking projects. At the moment I am putting toys in the BYGEL containers but eventually they will hold random craft materials for Chayton’s free creative play (these also will be changed weekly). I also plan on finding a shallow bin for sand and/or water which can be placed on the tables.

baby eating jello

We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing. -Charles Schaefer

 

As a grown-up who has never lost her sense of play, I love spending time with Chayton each day as he explores and discovers and creates. This play space is a new little corner of the world where Chayton can continue to do just that.

Happy (Belated!) Halloween

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Jack-o-lantern

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness—for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.

From “Spirits of the Dead” by Edgar Allan Poe

Hello Dear Readers!
It has been a while since I have been able to post regularly and I thank you for your patience with me. If you have just discovered this blog recently, Brian and I had a son 15 months ago and Chayton has been keeping us very busy. However, at this stage I am finally (finally!!!) starting to get some free time (“me time”) here and there and I am really looking forward to catching up with you all here at cabinorganic.

lion costume

I have some exciting projects to share with you, including the setting up our chicken coop and the creation of a rock garden. I have also continued to cook and experiment in the kitchen and look forward to sharing many new and tasty recipes with you. Also, we picked baskets of baskets of berries this summer and fall and made our favorite jams, jellies and syrups.

jack-o-lantern
As I write this, Chayton naps nearby, birds are visiting the feeder just outside the window, pumpkins are roasting in the oven and Brian is outside hanging the Christmas lights. Later, we will rake the leaves in the front yard and take Lucy for a long walk in the woods.

boy with pumpkin
Autumn is always a busy time around here as we prepare for the cold and snow. With Halloween come and gone we can now focus on enjoying the arrival of winter from the comfort of the cabin. Take care, everyone!

jack-o-lanterns

Rosemary Gladstar’s honey onion cough syrup

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honey onion cough syrup

Chayton just got his very first cold: chest congestion, cough and runny nose. I was not prepared with any herbal or home remedies as we simply did not need any until now. And although I usually have a jar of rose hip syrup in the fridge, I had long run out of that medicine months ago. Yesterday morning, up with a sick baby at 6:30 am, it was suddenly the perfect time to make a fresh batch of honey onion cough syrup.

Chayton

I’ve never made this honey onion syrup until now and I really love it. You can also add ginger and/or garlic to the mix but I wanted to start with a classic batch. With only two ingredients: honey and onions, this medicine is gentle enough for Chayton and effective for both Brian and I if ever we are feeling under the weather or are developing a cough. This medicine is both powerful and delicious. It is sweet and pungeunt and I have had no problems getting Chayton to take his small doses. In fact, he asks for more (nonverbally) the same way he asks for more food that he really likes.

“Christopher Robin! I think the bees are suspicious,” said Pooh.

“Perhaps they think you’re after their honey.”

“It may be that,” said Pooh. “You never can tell with bees.” ~A.A. Milne in

Winnie the Pooh and Some Bees

Here is Rosemary’s recipe. Also, click here to go directly to her youtube video.

Honey Onion Cough Syrup

1 onion (for a small batch, feel free to double or triple this for a larger batch)

enough raw honey to cover (~1 cup for one onion)

Cut the onion in half then slice thinly.

Place onion in a pot and cover with raw honey. Set on a warm oven on low heat for at least two hours. The syrup is ready when the onions soften and darken. Store in a jar in the refrigerator and take by the spoonful whenever needed.

honey onion cough syrup

introducing solid foods

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baby food

Just before Chayton reached six months of age he began to take an interest in food. We noticed that he would look to see what Brian and I were eating and would watch us eat and drink. Early on, one of us would stick a clean finger or spoon into the food or drink and then let him have a sample.

baby feeding

As his interest grew, I began pureeing fruits and vegetables for him to try. I would freeze these in ice cube trays so that I would have a variety of foods for Chayton to eat without my having to prepare every meal from scratch each time. I store the ice cubes in little ziplock bags- each bag holds one dozen ice cubes) and then I ‘file these away’ in a plastic box which acts as a drawer in my freezer. I like how this keeps things neat and tidy and I can keep track of what I have and what I need to make.


baby food

Now that Chatie has started eating lumpier foods I can simply mash whatever we are eating in my mortar and pestle or lightly blend it in the blender so that it’s still a bit chunky, like this corn chowder that we had recently. We eat a lot of fresh (organic, where possible) fruits, vegetables, whole grains and some lean meats (and we avoid processed foods as much as possible) so it is very easy to share whatever we are eating with Chayton without worrying about preservatives, pesticides, hormones, excess sugar or salt, etc.

corn chowder corn chowder1

So far, Chayton has eaten banana, avocado, mango, orange, cantaloup, blueberries, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, apple, pear, lemon, kiwi, carrots, sweet potato, potato, tomato, cucumber, green pepper, celery, spinach, cabbage, peas, corn, pumpkin, mushrooms, rutabaga, lentils, adzuki beans, oatmeal, corm meal, brown rice, coconut (jasmine) rice, rice cracker, cheese, kamut pasta, almond milk, almond butter, pickerel, chicken, raw chocolate… I think that covers it.

baby feeding

baby feeding

I usually provide a small plate with a few choices so that I am not running back to the kitchen if Chayton decides to be picky. Most days he eats what we provide. It’s rare that he doesn’t eat and that is usually when he is sore from teething. He always tastes everything at least a few times before deciding.

baby food

At eight months, he is now just beginning to feed himself. He likes to hold the spoon (we give him an extra one) and he is starting to grab for pieces of banana, crackers and cheese on his high chair tray.

baby feeding

I have heard of ‘baby-led weaning’. This is an approach that follows baby’s lead as his or her interest in food grows. There are no pureed foods, you just simply give baby whatever you are eating and allow him or her to feed themselves. I like the philosophy behind this but feel very uncomfortable giving my baby large pieces of banana or harder foods right at the beginning. I personally like providing the pureed and mashed foods because they mimic what our ancestors did -and what some people may still do today in some parts of the world- which involves pre-chewing their child’s food. I also love having  selection of safe and delicious foods ready to go. I can pull out a few cubes to defrost overnight, or if we are leaving the house I can pop a few in a small container and I have Chatie’s meals ready in an instant. I appreciate the convenience and have never had to resort to store-bought, processed foods for my son.

I am still nursing Chayton so at the moment his little meals are supplementing the breast milk and I do not have to worry if he is getting enough iron or protein. Sometimes he drinks a bit of water in a sippy cup or I give him cold chunks of fruit in a mesh bag.

We love cooking and eating here at cabinorganic! Allowing my son to develop his palate, explore tasty foods and develop an appetite for a wide range of foods is important to us. It is also exciting to see his fine motor skills improve each day with practice. Soon he will be helping us prepare and cook the meals and things will really get fun!

baby feeding

 

Wizard Lake Soap & Body Products: a gift of natural baby products

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Wizard Lake Soap

When Chayton was only a few weeks old, my wonderful friend, Lynne Thieven of Wizard Lakes Soap & Body Products and Dragonfly Lane Tea came by to drop off a welcome present for him. I was delighted to receive her gift basket wrapped in two high quality flannel blankets and containing an assortment of Lynne’s baby products. I have been using Lynne’s products for three years now and was not even aware that she made baby products! Since then I’ve been meaning to do a product review post to rave about the products and to let you all know that they are available for purchase.

Wizard Lake SoapsWizard Lake Soap & Bath baby products are truly a decadent gift, especially for those who want to minimize the chemicals absorbed by the skin that are found in many baby products today. As we know, the skin is the largest human organ and it is advised that we do not put anything on our skin unless we can eat it. This may sound funny but many people today are turning to more natural products containing minimal ingredients, or even making bath and beauty products themselves at home. Lynne’s products contain all natural ingredients so I like that I do not have to worry about what I am applying to my child’s skin.

baby in bath

Wizard Lake Soap and Bath’s Babies Bottom Ointment contains the infused oils of calendula, chickweed and plantain in camelia and sunflower oils with beeswax as well as lavender essential oil with need and GSE. I use this many times a day when I change Chayton’s diaper and at almost eight months old, he has not even once experienced a diaper rash. I have also been applying this on his face if it looks like it’s getting chapped from teething drool. He often receives compliments on his beautiful skin. I also apply this on any dry areas of my own skin before putting the cap back on.

The Head-to Toe Baby Wash is paraben-free, SLS-free and preservative free. I use a few pumps of this in every bath. The Lavender Baby Oil contains jojoba and meodowfoam oils and lavender essential oil. I use this all over his body after each bath as well as for baby massage before bed. The Lavender Belly Butter contains shea and cocoa butters, meodowfoam, rosehip seed and seabuckthorn oils with beeswax and lavender essential oil. I’ve actually been using this product daily on my hands after washing them.

baby faceI highly recommend all of Lynne’s products and especially her baby products. Not only will you receive health-promoting, high quality products at a fair price, you will be supporting a local small business where one woman is simply doing what she is passionate about- and very good at– promoting natural health with quality products.

Please feel free to contact Lynne to see where you can purchase her products.

Click here to see previous posts featuring Wizard Lake Soap & Bath and Dragonfly Lane Teas on the main cabinorganic blog.

Wizard Lake Soap

the pleasure of starting seeds with kids

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planting seeds

All kids love nature outings; they love nature instinctively. The same way they love animals. It’s part of their makeup as human beings. They share this planet with other living creatures, and somehow they’re aware of this fact from the very start. ~Fine & Fine (2009)

I can’t think of a better way to introduce children to gardening -and hopefully instill a love of growing things yourself- than starting seeds. Especially starting them indoors in the spring when it is still cold outside and green nature is still asleep under the snow. There is something so amazing about watching a seed disappear into the soil, only to emerge as a tiny plant days later. Then seeing that plant grow larger and eventually flower and perhaps even produce food. It’s incredible!

baby planting seeds

Three weeks ago, Chayton and I started some seeds for this year’s garden. We planted three varieties of heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, green and yellow zucchini, parsley, chives, basil, echinacea and black-eyed susans. At seven months old he didn’t do much of the actual planting but it was exciting for me to have him involved, watching and taking an interest in what I was doing. Whenever I plant seeds I can’t help but reflect on the miracle of life embedded in each tiny seed. Looking at Chayton, I reminded myself how not too long ago, Chayton himself was the size of a poppyseed. Tiny yet so full of promise.

cucumber sprouting

If you’ve been following cabinorganic you are already aware of our commitment to live simply, close to the earth and in harmony with the rhythms of nature. Raising our son in this environment allows us to be more in tune with his needs and rhythms. With the slower pace of life out here we find that we are more relaxed and focused on what really matters to us as people and as parents.

Children are typically better connected with nature than adults. They don’t have to wade through other stuff- “to do” lists, job concerns, what to make for dinner- to be fully present and enjoy whatever natural phenomenon is presented to them at any point in time. Luckily for us, their observations and obvious fascination with nature are contagious. ~Sherlock

baby planting seeds

At seven months, Chayton may be too young to understand gardening but he is certainly very interested in what his mom is doing with all of that dirt. In the years to come, he will have participated in many cycles of planting, watering, sprouting, caring for plants, harvesting and eating. I love thinking about how his awareness of where our food comes from (the backyard!) will be just a natural, simple fact of life, how ‘work’  (as in digging, weeding and harvesting) can actually be deeply pleasurable and satisfying, and how good food is an important part of living a good life.

baby starting seeds

Starting seeds together with Chayton this spring made the process even more enjoyable. I am looking forward to getting outside with him in the next few months as we plant the little plants that we started ourselves. There is so much to learn about life while digging in the dirt. It’s going to be a fun season and hopefully we will have many more years of gardening ahead with my son’s participation.

Even if you live in a big city there is almost always enough green somewhere to provide contact with the organic world. A local park, an empty lot, a tree on a tree-lined street, a grassy patch by the side of the road, all can quickly be turned into a learning laboratory for the infant mind. “I’d take Kesem to the park every day,” Dalit says, “We’d sit on the ground together and play with the soil. I’d bring a little spoon and some digging toys. I’d dig into the earth and I’d show him worms. I would show him soil. And let him get dirty. See it and smell it. Or we’d roll in the grass together. I’d give him a flower to play with or a piece of bark, a handful of pebbles. We’d pick dandelions and study them up close. Children at this age need very little to introduce them to the natural environment. ~Fine & Fine (2009)

Resources:

Fine, J & Fine, D. (2009). The Art of Conscious Parenting: The Natural Way to Give Birth, Bond with, and Raise Healthy Children. Toronto, ON: Healing Arts Press.

Sherlock, M. (2003). Living Simply with Children. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

making Valentine’s Day cards with Chayton

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Valentine's Day cards

A fun craft from the heart- and fingers- of a baby boy.

For Valentine’s Day we decided to make cards featuring Chayton’s own art. The fact that he is only six-and-a-half months old did not deter us in any way. Using the ‘ancient art’ of finger painting we knew that we could come up with something that just might stir the heart.

child painting

We started by brushing Chayton’s hand with red watercolor paint. We let Chayton touch and smear and pat the paper however he wanted. We let that dry overnight and then did the same with pink paint. We finished it off with white paint. This is what we ended up with:

Valentine's Day cardsAt first glance, this may not look like much but when you look at the painting closely, squint your eyes and turn it sideways, then the other way, then upside down, you can actually find some subtle heart shapes in in there! I cut these out in little squares and adhered them to deep purple card stock using double-sided tape.

Valentine's Day cardsI stuck these to a larger square in pink paper using mounting tape so that it would stick out a bit then adhered the whole square to the red or white card. Inside the card I stamped ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’.

I like the heart right in the center on this one:

Valentine's Day cardsI like this one as well (the heart is a little to the left):

Valentine's Day cardsI’m so happy with how these turned out! They are a bit abstract but that just seems to add to their charm. These cards feature Chayton’s art made with his own little hands and just a bit of help from mom to put it all together. These are destined for the grandparents, Chayton’s older sister, and one for us to keep forever. I am sure we all will love our cards no matter what!

the Happy Wrap baby carrier (product review)

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happy wrap

Even before Chayton arrived, I had a strong desire and plan to continue to carry him with me wherever I went after he was born. When he arrived at 35 weeks (five weeks early) it was even more important that Brian and I spend as much time “skin-to-skin” with him as possible (especially within the first month) in order to provide the safest and most comforting place for Chayton to continue his growth and development.

happy wrap

Also known as “kangaroo care” (Bergman, 2001; Nicholson & Parker, 2013), when skin-to-skin, a baby’s heart rate and breathing improves and their heart rate becomes more stable and regular. Also, baby’s head rests right next to mommy or daddy’s heart, which provides a familiar and comforting sound. Research has shown that there is no better temperature regulator than a baby’s mother. While being held skin-to-skin, if baby’s body temperature cools down, the mother’s body warms up, and if the baby’s temperature gets too warm, the mother’s body cools down (Nicholson & Parker, 2013). This is also known as thermal synchrony (Bergman, 2001).

Another advantage is that babies who are carried can see the world at their parents’ level but can also snuggle in when feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated. Babywearing also meets a baby’s need for physical contact, comfort, security, stimulation, and movement, all of which encourage neurological development. ~Nicholson & Parker, (2013)

happy wrap

I chose the Happy Wrap for our first baby carrier. A friend had recommended the same style of carrier but made by a different company. When that company was out of stock on the color I wanted I looked elsewhere and was impressed by Happy Wrap’s selection, availability and informative website.

happy wrap

I love our Happy Wrap. It is both beautiful and comfortable. It is made of 100% organic bamboo, which is not only eco-friendly and sustainable, but very soft and absorbent. According to the website, bamboo is also hypoallergenic and antibacterial.

happy wrap6

The Happy Wrap is completely adjustable and fits both mommy and daddy perfectly. When not in use, it fits into a handy little pouch and takes very little space in the diaper bag.

happy wrap5

There are two different ‘holds’. We used the newborn hold for the first three and a half months. After that we moved to the hug hold. By the time Chayton was four months old we started using a Baby Trekker, a more structured soft carrier, for outdoor winter walks in order to accommodate his snowsuit. We continued to use the Happy Wrap indoors for a few more months before switching to a ring sling when Chayton become too heavy and needed a thicker, less stretchy material to sit in.

We used our Happy Wrap daily, on our walks as well as while doing indoor and outdoor chores. With the Happy Wrap we were able to take our baby berry picking in the fall and I have fond memories of spending an afternoon with Brian harvesting peppermint from our herb & tea garden with our Little One sleeping comfortably in the Happy Wrap.

There are many amazing benefits of babywearing. Here is a direct quote from Happy Wrap’s informative website:

• Smarter Babies  When in the security of the wrap your baby enjoys a state of “quiet alertness” and has the advantage of a 180 degree view of her world, increasing her visual and auditory stimulus and giving her more opportunity for interaction with you.

• Better emotional and physical development  The constant contact and reassurance a baby feels when in a wrap will give him a sense of security that will better prepare him to form relationships as an adult. Research has also shown that premature and special needs babies who are held and touched have a faster weight gain and are overall healthier than those who are not.

• Decrease in post-partum depression  The increased physical contact of wearing your baby can lower the incidence of post partum depression by strengthening the maternal bond.

• Independence  According to Harvard researchers when babies are nurtured and held close, rather than developing increased dependence they grow to be more independent.

• SIDS Prevention  Babywearing has been shown to stimulate the neurological and respiratory systems thus aiding in the prevention of SIDS. Another advantage is that your baby can nap while being worn, receive constant monitoring and avoid having to lie on her back.

• Hands Free For You!  Wearing your baby allows you the freedom to take care of other responsibilities while nurturing and caring for his needs.

I highly recommend the Happy Wrap! Mary is ready and available for support and will contact you via email as soon as your package arrives to ensure that you are satisfied.

For more information on the Happy Wrap, please visit their website.

Resources:

Bergman, N. (2001). “Kangaroo Mother Care” video (Geddes Productions, 2001) http://www.geddespro.com

Fine, J.L. & Fine, D. (2009). The art of conscious parenting: The natural way to give birth, bond with, and raise healthy children. Toronto, ON: Healing Arts Press.

Nicholson, B. & Parker, L. (2013). Attached at the heart: Eight proven principles for raising connected and compassioate children. Deerfield Beach,FL: Health Communications Inc.

may your days be merry and bright- making our Christmas card

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Chayton

May your days be merry and bright…. Hope you had a wonderful holiday season and wishing you all the best in the New Year!

We did not have a lot of free time this year to make Christmas cards but we were still determined to send out something personal and heartfelt. We decided to print out a favorite winter photo of Chayton as friends and relatives were due for an update.

baby photos

First, I cut white 8-1/2 x 11 card stock in half and folded each of these in half. Using silver pigment ink, I stamped these cute little snow flakes on the front. (Note: the stamp is from Stampin’ Up!)

Then Brian sized and printed these pictures out for me and I trimmed them, leaving a small white border. Then I adhered this to silvery paper using double-sided tape and trimmed this as well. Finally, I used thicker mounting tape to stick the whole square onto the card.

Christmas cardInside we put the words ‘May your days be merry and bright…” (“…and may all your Christmas’s be white” should come to mind to finish the sentence.)

This was a very simple project but we were happy to send these out to friends and family. As we also love receiving cards this time of year we know that these will be appreciated.

Christmas cards