Thursday, December 20, 2012

Handmade Holiday Countdown, Week 3: Gifts for the Grands

They boys have many sets of grandparents, step-grandparents and grandparent-like characters in their lives. I like to have them make gifts for these special people. In the past they've made pillows, twig frames, silk scarves, freezer-paper stencil shirts, balsam pillows, key hooks and bookmarks.  

For the woodburning grandpas, we made pinecone firestarters, by tying twine to the tip of a pinecone and dipping it alternately into melted wax and cold water. The wax stuck better as it cooled in the pan, so some are more thickly coated than others. We haven't tested any yet; I hope they work!

My dad, doesn't burn wood (and lives too far away to make shipping a box of pinecones practical), so we turned this bit of beaver-chewed wood into a card-holder. E ad Z took turns sawing the notch (I like to include a woodworking project in our holiday makings, even though I'm not the woodworking expert in the house), we rubbed a bit of beeswax polish over it and the boys sketched pictures on blank postcards.

For the grandmas, we made birchbark votive holders, from this season's Rhythm of the Home. I found this set of Chevrolet logo glasses at goodwill that I thought would be perfect (while there, I wondered who on earth would want to own Chevy glasses; when I got home I found out: boys between the ages of seven and eleven).

This turned out to be one of those projects that seems like it would be a good idea for kids, and turns out, not so much. Partly they were just too bouncy and not in the mood for a project. Partly, the birch bark is very fussy. We had a bunch of thick pieces my sister and I found in the woods, and they had to be pulled apart into thin layers that were flexible enough to wrap around the jars, but then the thin layers were delicate and shredded easily. The bark was also full of spiders. (In the photo below, E is just pretending to be helping). The boys did help pick out the pieces of bark, squeeze the glue and put their fingers in place for tying the bow, but in general, this was a mom project.

I bought some yummy beeswax candles at a nearby farm store and tied them up with pretty twine and string and a bit of fir. We have an extra one for an emergency last-minute gift, but I kind of hope we don't need to give it away, because I want to see what the candle flame looks like through the birch bark.

Finally, and this had nothing to do with kids, I made a batch of cranberry jam. Despite all the jam I made this summer, I never managed to make a batch in mini jars for gifting (first I didn't have enough jars, then my second flat of blueberries never came). C bought seventy-five pounds of cranberries from the farm down the road, so we have crans to spare. (To make it, I brought 5 generous cups whole cranberries and the juice and zest of one orange to a boil, added four cups sugar and boiled until it reached the jammy stage, then processed in a hot water bath for five minutes).

Hope your holiday makings and bakings are going well!

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