Jesse Tree Update #2

Do you have holiday traditions that have been passed down from your grandparents, parents or other family members? Have you created new traditions with your family? A Jesse Tree advent calendar is a new idea to me that I began to research in this post. After reading and reading and reading and talking, we’ve decided to try this out during our holiday season. Last week I went to GR to find materials for our advent calendar. I happily discovered that Hobby Lobby had felt choices galore and on sale. I stacked and stacked and stacked until the pile was so large that Boo couldn’t resist touching and trying to peel stickers off of them. I was so excited to find as many colors in stock as I did. Boo and I are working on ornaments for our tree.
Here’s our plan so far:

  1. For creation, I’m making a globe. I didn’t like the idea of focusing on just one aspect of creation from Genesis 1.1-2.4.
  2. For Adam and Eve from Genesis 2.7-9 & 18-24, I’m making stick modernish people, so the woman looks like she’s wearing a dress. Not historically accurate, but clearly a man and woman.
  3. For the fall of man, I’m making a generic red fruit as depicted in Genesis 3.1-7 & 23-24
  4. For Noah and the flood, I making a rainbow, see Genesis 6-8.
  5. For the tower of Babel, I’m making a ziggurat/tower. Although the tower represents disobedience, without it we wouldn’t have scattered and developed all the cultures. This story is told in Genesis 11.
  6. For Abraham, I’ve chosen the Star of David because he became the father of many nations, more numerous than the stars., Genesis 12-15.
  7. For Isaac, I’m making a stone altar because he trusted his father and God, Genesis 22.
  8. For Jacob, I love the image of the ladder to represent Jacob’s dreams at Bethel of the stairway to heaven to remind Jacob that in time God would allow him to return home.
  9. For Joseph, I couldn’t use anything but his coat of many colors that became the physical manifestation of his brothers’ jealousy. Joseph’s story is in Genesis 37-45.
  10. I have a cute lion which will either represent the prophesy that a lion from the tribe Judah will rule or Daniel’s obedience and punishment of the lion’s den.
  11. For Moses, I am making two. A basket will represent his mother’s (dis)obedience by hiding him in the river and stone tablets to represent his obedience to God by talking to him on behalf of the people. See Exodus 1, 3, 19 & 20.
  12. For Samuel, I am making a candle to represent the lamp of God that was burning in 1 Samuel 3 when God first spoke to Samuel.
  13. For Ruth and Obed, I’m making a stack of wheat because she obeyed God and stayed with Naomi and allowed themselves to be redeemed by Obed after working his fields. See the book of Ruth for this story.
  14. For Jesse, I am making a sheep as he had many flocks his sons had to care for. In 1 Samuel 16, Jesse says he has one more son in the fields with the sheep.
  15. For David, I am making a slingshot to represent his obedience in the face of certain defeat when he went up against Goliath told in 1 Samuel 17.
  16. For Solomon, I am making a crown because he was a wise king, see 1 Kings 3.
  17. For Isaiah, who foretold the Messiah in Isaiah 9, I’m making a scroll with Emmanuel, God with us embroidered on it.
  18. For Jonah, I’m making a whale to remind us of the cost of disobedience with the possibility of redemption when we seek forgiveness. See the book of Jonah.
  • Pictures of finished ornaments and at least 6-8 more symbols to come . . .

I originally thought to glue them down because I didn’t want to invest too much time in something that may not stick as a tradition, but after seeing the sites I’ve linked below, I’ve decided to sew them by hand or machine depending on the size of the pieces. Serendipity has lovely ornaments that I looked at when deciding that my shapes would look like. I linked to the general topic rather than one post because the ornaments span five posts. From this gallery of ornaments, I found a slide show of ornaments (52 images). I’m considering sewing my ornaments down to leaves as well, but I’m not sold on the holly tree look. I love the stitching detail and the idea of the same base on each ornament to bring a unified look to my tree. I love the 3D and texture variety in materials of the ornaments I’ve seen, but for ours I like the simplicity of felt ornaments that will pack flat at the end of the year. I like continuity of materials from one ornament to the next. If I made one from modeling clay, my brain would want them all to be like that. I don’t have enough clay in my stash for that kind of project, nor do I have the time to make a 3D tree and hangers. I can almost guarantee that my ornaments won’t be sewn to leaves this year, but I’m making them to a similar size, around three inches high, so that in the future if I decide to create a base it will be easier.


2011 organizational system

Last October I purchased a blank leather wrapped journal to turn into a custom calendar system for myself. I was so excited that I wanted to date it for Nov. 2009 and use it immediately. Since I had a current calendar at the time, I forced myself to date it for Jan. 2010 but started carrying it immediately to schedule things for the new year. I made a two-page spread for each week, a section for tasks, a section for projects and a section for random notes. I hated it. I am pretty sure it was the journal I chose. While the journal was attractive, it was bulky and heavy. I could tell instantly when I took it out of my bag or put it in because of the dramatic weight difference and it didn’t fit into my purse at all so I didn’t carry it unless I had my bag. I used it faithfully for a few months because I wanted to love it. I found myself only using the calendar part. I think I have used a total of 3 page fronts in the tasks/projects/notes sections. I tried to like it, I spent so much time drawing lines and number the pages and dating everything. It was so unhelpful that in October of this year I purchased a new pocket calendar that is so light I can’t tell if it’s in my purse/bag without looking.

I’m sure you know the kind, it’s a paper calendar with a staple or two in the center. It has a nice plastic outer wrapper that the covers slip into to protect it. I love it, well, not love it, but I’m using it and like it. It has silly inspirational quotes every month, though I’d prefer weekly ones. I started using it immediately. It’s a 16 month calendar, so October was already there just begging to be written on. I can’t cram 5 appts. into each day, but it’s working because it leaves the house with me. I’m using the post-it sticky flag to mark the current month so I can just flip to it. I use the covers to carry a few of my personal business cards in case I need to give someone my contact info. Each month has a two-page spread, the boxes for each day are less than an inch but I can write small. At the same time I purchased a wall calendar for 2011. I haven’t purchased one in years, I usually receive one as a gift at some point or am allowed to pick from a stack someone is giving away. I love to pick the ones with animal pictures for the months. The calendar I picked for 2010 had a problem. I couldn’t read the numbers on the calendar from across the room as the print was too light. The 2009 calendar didn’t have that problem. I tried using a sharpie to darken the numbers but that only frustrated me because it looked messy and sometimes the numbers still weren’t dark enough. Next year I have a rather plain calendar. It’s larger than the others I’ve had, at last 6 inches longer and the two pages are all calendar. I can write multiple things for each day when I need to and perhaps interesting sayings when I don’t. I can see it across the room and think it will be a good thing for me. The secret is the calendar’s intended purpose,I bought one that is marketed as an organizational calendar. I can write my stuff, Boo’s stuff and husband’s stuff as well as family stuff on it. Yes, there will be multiple times to write stuff because I also put family, Boo’s and my stuff on the one I carry but it’s worth it if it doesn’t aggravate me and I get where I need to be when I need to be.

The last organizational tool I added to my arsenal was a calendar plugin for Thunderbird. I tried multiple online calendar plugins with the blog, but 2010 has not been a stellar year for me blogging as I’ve been busy chasing a little boy. If I don’t look at the blog, I miss events or miss counting down and preparing for them. I can’t cram everything I’d like to do on to any paper calendar and lists were getting lost. I really only want to write the repetitive task once and let it carry itself along until an end date arrives. So I finally looked to the intarwebs (giggle) for a solution. While I detest MS Outlook, one of the nice tools is the calendar system. I’ve never used it in a company where everyone uses it but I love that I can schedule a meeting and it automatically sends invites to everyone or I can just make them accept it if I have the right privileges to do so. I have no need to do that, but I have my computer on every day. While I don’t spend all day at it, I hear the beeps and check in once every couple of hours or so. I love being notified as soon as I start my day of the tasks I need to accomplish or the appts scheduled for the day.

Check back in a year to see how it’s working for me. I can tell you that for the last month this new system of small paper calendar and huge Thunderbird calendar been wonderful.

Jesse Tree for Advent Season

I have always been fascinated by advent calendars. I have memories of several paper advent calendars over the years. One was a village that had little flaps to open numbered for each day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25. One year we had a nativity scene with flaps and another year we had one that had little chocolates in each day, of course we ate the chocolates that year and I have no further memories of that one. At least one was stored in the Christmas box because I recall it surfacing year after year.

Once I became an adult and was on my own, I stopped counting down to Christmas but the love of advent calendars didn’t fade. In 2006 I purchased a cross-stitch calendar with ornaments at a local flower shop turned seasonal Christmas shop. I was unable to start the project until I finished another one already in progress. In Feb. 2008 I began working on it and was hoping to finish it for Boo to use this year. I took in on vacation with us and worked on it until I discovered a glaring error. Demoralized, I began carefully ripping stitches out to get it to a point where I could fix it. Small errors abound with little impact, but adding 10 extra stitches into all the rows near the right edge of the calendar is a huge problem for me. Ripping stitches takes more time than adding stitches, maybe next year we’ll have the calendar. The pictures is the cover art from the package, what it should look like, bot what it currently does look like.

Either last year or the year before I stumbled upon the concept of a “Jesse Tree”. I admit the idea intrigued me even though I was unfamiliar with it. Using the following sites, I was able to piece together the understanding of how it works:

During the Advent Season, which varies from 23 to 28 days depending on the year, children learn/review the life and ancestors of Jesus as well as important events from Adam in the Old Testament all the way through to Mary, Joseph and the birth of Jesus in the New Testament. Each day has a Scripture reading and a symbol to remind us of the reading. For example, creation is day one and can be symbolized by stars, sun, moon, earth, a dove or whatever symbol causes one to think of the creation of all things. Each of the above documents seems to have different symbols listed so there is no standardization.

While looking up Jesse Tree in various searches, I happened across a photograph of a relief sculpture called “Relief of Tree of Jesse” in Cathedral St. Peter, Worms, Germany which apparently depicts the lineage of Christ back to Jesse, the father of David. While searching for more info on that I found other artwork depicting the ancestor’s of Christ and also referred to as Jesse Trees. While Wikipedia is not the end all for research purposes, it shows several interesting photos with brief descriptions of some of the works. So, Jesse Trees aren’t new, just being displayed in a new form.

Some families incorporate Jesse Trees into traditions by printing the symbols on paper, putting the Scripture passage on the back, coloring the front, cutting them out, and making them into ornaments to hang on an artificial table-top tree. Others purchase fancy ornaments to add to an existing Christmas tree. Still others will carefully craft ornaments by hand from materials that speak to the symbol, a wooden ark for Noah, a clay tablet for Moses and the commandments, and a tiny manger for baby Jesus. I’m somewhere in the middle. While paper is the simplest, I have a wee one and paper won’t survive the day let alone the year unless I laminate them and I’m not sure I’m fully committed to this tradition to laminate scraps of paper. If paper is the medium of choice, I’d rather wait until Boo can draw and color his own ideas. I don’t think I have time to hand make special wooden ones, but I did contemplate cookie cutters, dough and a bit of paint. This plan would put all the work on me without much for Boo to do.

After some thinking, my favorite idea was knitting and/or crocheting them, but again with the deadline looming that felt like an impossible task. November 28 is the start of Advent this year and I just don’t have the time. If I turned out one a day (and that’s a big if to make a crochet apple takes me 45 min. uninterrupted), I might be able to complete them but it would be at the expense of my other holiday projects. I have tentatively settled on simple, flat, felt ornaments with a felt tree or some sory. I think I can cut out and glue at least 5 a day even with Boo’s help. I have to get supplies, so the project can’t start until Sat. most likely. I’ll cut and put drops of glue on and he can stick things down. I am sure I could reuse these in other projects if we move to a different medium another year or if the tradition just doesn’t work for us. When Boo is older, I’ll give him the opportunity to decide if he wants symbols made from different materials or if he likes what I made this year, assuming they turn out and stand the test of time.

While this last link isn’t specific to Jesse’s tree, it does have some neat Advent ideas. There is a mixture of secular and religious activities. has recipes, online games, crafts and printables for each day counting down to Christmas.


Super Secret Santa Sewing 2010 #1

Every year for Christmas, my husband’s family pops names into a bowl and each of us selects one person to give a Christmas gift to. We are encouraged to make it if possible. This year I have Granny again. I last had her in 2006, where I cross-stitched a stocking that took me a few years to actually complete. In my defense, I started the project too late and had a very busy next year.

As the following is super secret, please, for the love of everything good, don’t tell a soul. It’s why I’m putting it here, to keep it under wraps.

I have been contemplating this year’s present since we drew names. I have finally settled on a couple of things, the largest being a Northern Cardinal table runner. I have hunted high and low for the perfect pattern and not finding it I created one with Inkscape with the goal of cutting all the pieces with my Cricut. I couldn’t get things lined up just right so last night I sat down with paper, pen, and a ruler to draw. I’ve taken measurements of my drawing, made copies to color and am ready to head back to the computer for more drawing. I’m pleased with the results so today my goal is to size all the pieces with a seam allowance and get it back into Inkscape for cutting. There are entirely too many pieces to cut by hand. By next weekend I hope to report that pieces have been cut and I have started sewing them together. There will be a male cardinal at one end and a female at the other. I will use neutral border colors and center mounting squares so that Granny can use it any time of year. I haven’t decided on the quilting yet, but there’s plenty of time.

The second part of my gift is a handspun, knitted cowl (neckwarmer). I didn’t purchase enough fiber, so I’ve ordered more to be dyed but it won’t ship until the 19th. I was able to spin 50 yards in an evening, so my hope is that I can spin the rest (150 yds) the week it arrives and then knit. Merino-tencel is a difficuly blend for a newish spinner. I’ve received lovely advice that I think I’ll follow when I get the rest of the fiber-spin over the fold.

The last part of my gift came about as a a compromise on an earlier idea. I thought to make a fabric wallhanging of her family tree, but I do not have access to an embroidery machine for lettering. It would take me too long to hand letter as my handwriting leaves much to be desired and too expensive to have the work done by the companies in the area that specialize in those kind of things. I found a neat poster that maybe she will enjoy filling in and then we’ll mount it somehow and hang it when she’s used her beautiful handwriting to complete it.

Stay tuned for pictures and updates.


Inventory of projects

September is WIP Wrestle, so I’ll be tackling all my works in progress. Admittedly, I have done a fairly good job since the last time I wrestled with them so my sticks are fairly empty. I have more “want to starts” than I have actually in process.

Currently on my sticks:

  • Amigurimi animals for Boo-crochet
  • Plushie-intarsia knit
  • Jellybean socks-two at a time toe up

Once I finish those, I’ll tackle my holiday crafting. In theory I have plenty of time between now and my tentative completion date to complete the following:

  • For Boo
      Boo’s animals
  • Top secret gift knittingx2
  • Boo’s Secret Elf gift
  • My Secret Elf gift
      Sewing project
      Spinning/Knitting project
  • For me
    1. homespun sweater
      2 pairs of socks

If my hands still work after that list, I also would like to complete:

  • Purse
  • tennis ball frog
  • Spinning, lots and lots of spinning


MI Fiber Festival

Every year over the third weekend in August, there is a fiber festival in Allegan, MI. I’ve wanted to go the last year or two, but it competed with Buckley Old Engine Show. I suggested the compromise of Buckley on Thursday/Friday and the Fiber Festival on Sat. but this year we decided to go to the Fiber Festival on Sun. It was less busy than it would have been on Say. and we had Boo with us so it made for a relaxing day instead of frustrating. I had a lot of fun petting all the fiber and drooling over all the tools. I found it interesting that some of the booths were yarn shops that packed up and came for the weekend while others are small independent dyers/spinners. We saw sheep, alpaca and a few other animals.

I tended to spend more time looking at fiber than anything, I had a list and a budget. I’m happy to say I didn’t over spend and found 60-70% of my list. Some of the things I purchased were for a swap I participated in and I forgot to take pictures before I mailed it off. I bought two things of sock yarn and a bit of fiber that I kept.
Next year I may have to save up a bit more so that I can have a bigger list of wants.


Biter Biscuits

A few months ago I bought some of those boxed biter biscuits for Boo because he had such a difficult time with his teeth. They were a bust, he had it less than 3 minutes before he bit through it and had a huge chunk in his mouth. He didn’t have enough teeth to finish it off, so I had to fish it out and get rid of it. Fast-forward to today when I think, the “interwebs” must have a recipe for me. I looked at several, but didn’t have ingredients for all of them, so I tried the one I found here. A nice healthy option, I made mine with 100% whole wheat, freshly ground by my brother-in-law and strawberry puree because I didn’t have any interesting extract flavors I felt comfortable using. I baked them for a while, so that they would be extra crunchy, just shy of burning them. After 25 minutes, he’s still gnawing on it without breaking it. He wouldn’t even let me have it to change him, I did supervise closely though, to make sure he didn’t choke. And best of all, these aren’t sticky like the store bought ones, so he’s got a few breadcrumbs hanging around but not gross sticky everywhere.


Boo is covered

The diapers are officially finished. Here and some of them in his drawer and some hanging on the line in the basement. Hopefully we’ll be able to hang them outside this summer. I still have bunches of fabric left, but I think I will save that in case we wear through any of them. I’ve had to do a quick repair or two, quality control was more interested in napping on the fabric than in inspecting the workmanship.