Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Jolly English Tradition (& Tutorial)

I love the thought of a jolly English Christmas…you know a real ‘Happy Christmas’ =) full of traditions ancient & new. Carols of old being raised to the heavens, green countryside turned white with a fresh blanket of snow, Charles Dickens’ stomping ground, & figgy pudding! One of the English traditions of the season is the Christmas cracker. Click here to see a video of a British mum (& her son & daughter) explaining Christmas crackers! The first Christmas cracker originated in the 1840s – the creation of a London baker named Tom Smith.

Traditional Cracker Contents…
-a paper crown (you can create one by cutting a crown (zig-zag design) on tissue paper & taping it to fit your head - fold to put into cracker)
-a small toy/trinket
-a joke

What You’ll Need to Make Your Own Christmas Cracker…
(NOTE: This makes one cracker.  Don't forget to fill your cracker first!)
-a paper towel tube
-tape/glue stick
-tissue paper
-wrapping paper
-string or ribbon

A peek at an English Christmas...

Cheers (& Love),

P.S.: Here's a rare glimpse into a London factory's Christmas cracker creation process from way back when (1910!)...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Card Merriment Via Shutterfly

This time of year mailboxes begin to be magically sprinkled with special cheer in the form of Christmas cards. These seasonal greetings come in all shapes, sizes, & hues, but each is designed to send love in the form of paper & script. What better way to say ‘I love you’ than to send a personal photo (or photos) across the miles, or perhaps, just down the street. No more costly duplicating fees so that you can tuck the same family photograph inside each card before you seal it up & stick a stamp on. At Shutterfly.com they print your personal photo(s) on the card for you! Talk about easier, cheaper, & a nicer presentation! Heavens, they even have a service to address & mail your cards for you (for a charge, of course)!

Shutterfly has literally hundreds of oh-so-cute card designs to choose from. Really, it can be quite impossible to choose, but here are some of my favorites (all images from www.shutterfly.com)...

I think I might use the top design as my card this year, & place in black & white photos of my trip to Scotland or family photos. I love that this card has so many places for pictures; my recipients will get to see lots that way! I can’t wait to send out my personalized greetings to all those I love! This will be my first Shutterfly experience & I am in great anticipation!

My Favorite Shutterfly Links...
Christian-Themed Christmas Cards
All Christmas Cards
Christmas Gift Tags
Personalized Photo Calendars

Love & Card Merriment Via Shutterfly,

Friday, November 26, 2010

Crafty Gift Tutorial: Dandy Doily Necklace (Anthro-Inspired)

Possible Recipients: Grandma, Mom, Aunt, Sister, Friend

As most all know, I view Anthropologie (the quirky, cute, & artsy clothing/house wares/gifts company) as I do a kindred spirit. And although we’ve never met – I’ve yet to pass through the threshold of an Anthropologie shop, as we have none nearby & my pocketbook couldn’t take such strain – I just know tis true! Why am I suddenly waxing poetic here? Hmmm…I’ll ponder that later. I’m pleased to present you with my 1st Crafty Christmas tutorial…my take on a lovely little piece of jewelry from my dear friend, Anthro (I think I’ll refer to her as Anthie). Take it away Anthie! Here’s the real McCoy (i.e.: the genuine article)…

The Cluny Lace Necklace
from HERE
Anthropologie's price...$42

Bess' Way: Dandy Doily Necklace
my cost...less than $5

You may have to remove links (about the same number from each side), in order to shorten the necklace to desired length.

Voila!  Anthropologie chic-ness for pennies on the dollar, darling!


P.S.: Here's another statement necklace I created from a doily.  I used the amazing Disney's tutorial found here.  She is one creative cookie =) (who's currently taking a long break from full time blogging).  I love Disney!

P.P.S.: Test your memory & skill with this doily-themed game!  Click here!  It's funny, my mom loves these games!  Between you & me I think she's quite addicted...=)

I linked my tutorial to...

The Girl Creative


Crafty Christmas Has Arrived + Gifts For You

Today’s the day - the start of Bess’ Bag’s Crafty Christmas, that is. Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving – sadly mine was not so “wonderful” per say…it was certainly thankful, but not “wonderful” (okay enough with the quotation marks=). I was under the weather & didn’t get to spend much time with my family or share in the delicious eats. Yes, no turkey, no dressing, no pumpkin pie, no creamy mashed potatoes… just lots of mugs of hot tea. Ugh, being sick on a holiday (especially one with so much good food) is horrible. Thankfully (see, I’m being thankful=), I feel better today – not 100%, but much better. So much so that I forced myself out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to visit Joanne’s Fabric/Craft Store. Crazy! I was there when they opened the doors in a line (braving rain & cold elements) with other crazy crafters. I was rewarded, however, with a $5 gift card! Our store gave them out to the 1st hundred or so. Mine’s already spent. Well any who…
Crafty Christmas

Welcome to Bess’ Bag’s Crafty Christmas! As you can see from my confessions above I heart craftiness. I happen to love handmade presents, too – they’re personal, thoughtful, & show time, effort, & love. So, I’ll be sharing loads of crafty gift tutorials from here on out until the Big Day + I’ll be sharing Christmas-y decorating inspiration & other sundry merry & bright cheer! My crafty gift tutorials will include (at the top) a section called “Possible Recipients,” where I’ll provide a list of who the item could be gifted to (such as “sister, friend, aunt”). Tuesday Tutorials/Tips are hereby suspended for the rest of the year, as I will be posting such craftiness by the boat load. I can’t wait to begin! Christmas is by far my favorite time of year! Stay tuned! Oh, & be sure to visit my good blogging friend & little sister-in-Christ, Grace, for “An Old Fashion Christmas” at her blog “Grace’s Garden Walk” for even more handmade gift ideas! We’re sort of hand-in-hand events going on simultaneously!

Oh, yes, mustn't forget your gifts! 
In honor of the start of Bess' Bag's Crafty Christmas... 

Get a $3 MP3 Amazon credit using the code GET3MP3S here.  That's like getting 3 songs for free!  Just make sure your picks are $0.99 or less.  Also, currently the entire Tangled soundtrack  (MP3 download) is just $3.99 (I can't wait to see this movie)!  With your $3 credit, that's 20 songs + a digital book, for only $0.99!  If you go that route, click & purchase through the Amazon link provided in this post to help support the blog!  This deal ends 11/29/2010.  Enjoy!

Snag a free 8X10 photo collage (personalized with your photos, of course) at Walgreens online.  Enter promo code THANKSGIVING & choose in-store pickup.  Put your collage in a lovely frame & this could be one of your Christmas gifts, just like that!  This offer ends 11/27/2010.  Hurry

Much Handmade Love,

P.S.: Christmas music is now playing! How do you like Bess’ Bag’s wintery look?

Here's the 3 songs I got + the $3.99 Tangled steal!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Greeting

Thanksgiving Greeting II

Love to all & a warm & happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Peanuts Thanksgiving

A Peanuts Thanksgiving


P.S.: Don't you just heart Snoopy & the gang?

Monday, November 15, 2010



If you've been listening to the music here at Bess' Bag within the last day or two your ears will have noticed that I'm playing a vintage-y mix of Thanksgiving themed tunes.  One of them happens to be a song from the old Disney Johnny Appleseed cartoon film.  This ditty is (apparently) quite popular with children today or so you'll see in the clips below. It all has to do with the verse above if you ask me...

Aren't the kids cute in their 1st Thanksgiving garb?

I dare you not to crack a smile.

The little girl in this film is adorable, but pay close attention (as if you could do anything else) to her baby brother in the background.

The very end of this makes me laugh every time.

Hope these made you smile, laugh, & be thankful!  I'm going to take a blogger's vacation until the start of the very special event (Crafty Christmas) here at Bess' Bag!  I have a couple more Thanksgiving greetings that I've scheduled for the in between time.  Take care! 


P.S.:  And because I can't help myself, here's the short movie from whence the song comes...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bess' Thanksgiving Style Menu



Sweet Potatoes

Cranberry Sauce

Pumpkin Pie

Counting My Blessings

Count Your Blessings

I have so much to be thankful for this year!  God has blessed me with much, & I praise His Name for all He has done for this sinner saved by grace - now called "daughter" by the King of Kings!  Here are a few of my blessings...
Counting My Blessings

In America, we are preparing for Thanksgiving - a holiday where we get together with family & friends, give thanks for our many blessings, & share a special meal together.  Even though we think upon our blessings especially at Thanksgiving time, everyday we should give thanks to God for all He has done.  He has given the most precious blessing to us all (all over the world) in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ (see the "Good News" page for more).

Love & Blessings,

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fabulous Freebie Alert for Bloggers

I know, I know, it’s not yet the start of my oh-so-secretive Crafty Christmas event, but I can’t help but bring a little early Christmas cheer to you (for free no less!). Shutterfly, an online photo/ photo gifts company, is offering 50 free Christmas cards (personalized with your family photo(s)) for bloggers who’ll spread the word about their services. Wouldn’t it be simply wonderful to get your Christmas cards for free this year? I encourage you bloggers to check this out! Click HERE to sign up!


P.S.: Here's one of my favorite cards...
image from www.shutterfly.com

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

Let us not forget those who serve.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Good Morning, Lord" Devotional Review

I don’t know about you, but I’m not much of a morning person…let me rephrase that I’d be a morning person if I could wake up peacefully & well rested with a happy day staring me in the face – you know, the kind where I can do whatever I please (+ a stack of pancakes, maybe). Hmmm, what I usually have is an alarm clock, a breakfast that can be devoured by the time I pass a couple red lights, traffic, rush, & work. Not that I’m complaining about mornings – okay, so sorta – but they’re just not my cup of tea most days. When BookSneeze.com provided me with a free copy of Good Morning, Lord by Sheila Walsh (from the book's publishers) in exchange for my honest review, I knew it would be interesting. Can a devotional possibly change how I feel about mornings?

The book is designed to be read daily & is geared toward women. Each devotional begins with a header reading “Good Morning, Lord!” + a larger header that works as the lead-in to the devotional itself. Every devotional is about 2 paragraphs (very short, easy to read, & to the point), followed by a couple journaling questions with space for writing directly in the book, a short prayer, & a Bible verse (all of which go along with the main reading). The book also has a presentation page perfect for gift purposes, as well as a lovely embossed floral hardcover.

Okay, so has reading this devotional made me a morning person? No. But I have felt a closeness to God, a peace, & delight in knowing Him more while reading this devotional. Sheila Walsh’s words are easily relatable & full of Biblical truths that we need reminding of. These devotionals are very short & would likely take at the most 10 minutes (if you go in depth with the journaling questions). I have to admit, I most often read the devotionals at night. I know, I know, if I could wake up a little earlier in the mornings I could fit it into that dreaded time of the day, & who knows I just might become a morning person after all. Might. Either way, this devotional is a great place to spend some time with the Maker of dawn, dusk, & every nook & cranny in between.

Bookish Blessings,

P.S.: Have a blog & haven’t signed up for Book Sneeze yet? Head on over – you’ll be rewarded for the trip with free books!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dear November: A Poem Written in Letter Form

Dear November

Dear November,

How did you get here so darn quick? Do you have powers that surpass the speed of light? Oh, well, whatever your transport I love you! I love you, I do! I’m mad for your frosty mornings & cherish your thankful heart. As we chat in enchanted foggy circles, I sigh a happy cloud. I unearth ripening wisdom at your beginning & anticipation at your close. You are a joy! Thank you for…being you.

With Love,
An Admirer

Just thought I'd share a small token of verse I formed at the start of this November.  Hope you enjoyed my unusual habit of penning letters to months!


Tuesday Tip: Make Thanksgiving Place Cards

Place Cards

It’s likely you may find your family table a little fuller this Thanksgiving as relatives & friends head in. What better way to help them find their seats (& make them feel important & comfortable) than to make place cards – you know, special little cards with the guest’s name printed in front of the guest’s seat or place setting! Oh, yeah, these also work great to keep those feuding uncles separated or busybody aunts (you know the type, probing about any upcoming wedding news in your future) out of harm’s way… You know me, ever the peacemaker. =)

Create your own cards on the computer or handwrite ‘em. Remember that place cards can double as favors or mementos, if you so choose. Cards are most often placed above or on either side of the place setting or on the plate itself.

You can find printable thanksgiving themed place cards at HGTV’s website HERE.

Embellishment Ideas…
-use scrapbook or other specialty paper(s)
-add a seasonal sticker or 2
-glue on a faux or real autumn colored leaf
-draw turkeys, pilgrims, & the like around the border
-hot glue on an acorn or 2
-add some glitter
-add a Bible verse to the cards (this is one of my favorites + one I’ve done in the past)

Out of the Box Ideas…
-use a photo of each person instead of writing out names (you could even find small inexpensive frames to place them in)
-write each name on a small pumpkin &/or gourd & place on or above/beside each plate
-write it real fancy on a decorative paper napkin
-write each name on a lovely autumn leaf
-ice it on a cookie
-write it daintily on a ribbon & tie it to something (say an apple stem (connected to an apple, of course=), around an orange, stem of a glass, cutlery, etc.)
-use a disposable tablecloth & write names directly on it (you could even leave pens on the table with instructions for guests to leave little notes on what they’re thankful for)

Bible Verse Ideas...
“Praise be to the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
–Ephesians 1:3

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.”
-1 Chronicles 16:34

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving & His courts with praise; give thanks to Him & praise His name."
-Psalm 100:4 NIV (our current memory verse of the moment=)

“For everything God created is good, & nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” -1 Timothy 4:4

“Let us come before Him with thanksgiving & extol Him with music & song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.”
–Psalm 95:2-3

Love & Blessings,

P.S.: Psst!  Did you happen to notice a special event here at Bess' Bag is only days away!  I can't wait!  You'll hear more later...  Shhh!

Friday, November 5, 2010

"It's My Party..."

Happy Birthday, Me

Today's the day!  My birthday, that is!

I wish we could all get together for a shindig - so I could meet you face-to-face!  What a superb gift that would be!  I can just picture it...

Here's the cake we'd eat...  I'd make sure you got an extra big slice!
Bess' Birthday Cake

Here's the stack of presents waiting to be unwrapped...  Oh my, flowers, too!  You shouldn't have!
Birthday Presents

& here's what's inside...  I declare you are far too generous!
Bess' Birthday Gifts

Oh, & here's the party favors I'd hand out to all my Gal Pals.  Ahem, guests...  Mmmm, these look good enough to eat (well, almost).
Have Your Cake...
Okay, so hey, this is complete fantasy...but can't a girl dream on her birthday?
November 5th

You know, I've got everything I need (& more).  Thank You God for all my blessings & for this new age - I know with You it will be one big adventure!

& thanks to all my Gal Pals & sisters-in-Christ...just knowing you're out there makes my birthday happy!

Love (From the 1 Year Older),

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday Tutorial: The Newsgirl Cap

You know the old vintage-y, boyish (Is that redundant?) newsboy caps that many a fella has donned? Well in today’s simple tutorial we’re gonna turn a regular ole’ newsboy hat into a fun & snazzy (yes, I said it) newsgirl accessory! I read that back in the day (say early 1900s), boys would wear these distinguishable caps to let the public know they were selling newspapers. So, follow me to the newsstand, girls…

What You’ll Need:
-newsboy cap(s) (You can find these for pretty cheap at thrift stores & yard sales.  I also suggest asking your dad/granddad if they have any in their closets you can confiscate.  My hats were my dad's. =)
-ribbon (I used a nice stiff velvety green specimen=)
-needle & thread
-button (optional)

Create a bow or simply crisscross 2 pieces of ribbon (as seen in 2nd pic). Next, sew ribbon/bow to the back of your hat. You’ll need to try it on & play with the positioning before you take the needle & thread to it. Don’t forget your thimble! Voila, the tres chic newsgirl cap just right for an autumn stroll (tuck a newspaper under your arm for a more authentic look). =)

Crafting Love,

P.S.: Vote in my special edition (“crafty”) poll if you haven’t already!
P.P.S.: Oh yes, here’s a little music video (below) of a song by the Christian band appropriately named The Newsboys…they’ve been around for a long time & I love ‘em!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Veggie Free Christmas! =)

Oh, no!  That's not what I meant!  Keep reading...

I know lots of you have kids in your life (They're so precious, aren't they?).  Whether it's younger siblings, nieces &/or nephews, or maybe even children of your own - most have one thing in common...a certain disdain for vegetables.  The funny thing is once these genius guys animated 'em, gave them faces, & started calling 'em names like Larry & Bob a drastic switcheroo took place.  Oh, sure, kids still have a quaking fear of the produce section, but they majorly love this thing called Veggie Tales!

So, I'm happy to announce that Amazon is currently offering a free download (internationally) of the entire Veggie Tales album The Incredible Singing Christmas Tree.  This is a limited time offer, & I have no idea how long it will be available, so snag it while you can for the tiny tot in your life (or even for yourself - you know you want to=).  Click the link above to get it (you do need a free Amazon account if you don't already have one). 

A perfect Christmas treat at a perfect price!  It's amazing to think how the 1st gift of Christmas was a child, King Jesus!  

Early Christmas Wishes for a Christ-Filled Season,

P.S.: AK at "Forever Faithful" interviewed me a little while back & today you can stop by her lovely blog & take a peek at the questions & what I had to say.  Click here.  No, AK doesn't stand for amazingly kind (though I think so=), but for Anna Katherine.  If you've never given her blog a visit I encourage you to do so!  She loves visitors & is very gracious!  She's also on the lookout for more of you who want to be interviewed!  Head on over!