A Simple Christmas Gift

I have a confession: I didn’t know what Black Friday was until I dated my husband. Growing up in the boonies, there was no such thing as Black Friday. Prices were the same the day after Thanksgiving as they were the rest of the year. There was no online shopping back then, so Black Friday was unknown to me. Some of you avid Black Friday shoppers are probably shocked, but that’s the truth. However, this Black Friday, I was going to be brave and stopped at Target to find a bargain or two. I walked in, assessed the crowd, took a deep breath, grabbed a cart and started browsing the $1 and $3 section. Only to put my cart back and walk out the door five minutes later! It was too much. Couldn’t handle the bustle. Oh well… I tried.

Christmas is really about Jesus, and spending time with family and making memories anyway, right? I’d rather be able to do more of that and less time browsing crowded stores trying to find the “perfect” gift. 

After the Target fiasco, I decided to make gifts. Something simple. Perfectly imperfect maybe. I really enjoy simple, homemade Christmas gifts. Even the dish cloth Grandma crocheted can be appreciated. It’s the time and effort someone puts into crafting something special that counts. And if it’s either useful or beautiful, that’s an added bonus! 🙂 

A couple summers ago, I came across an ad on Craigslist for free wood. Someone was tearing down their old barn. And wouldn’t you know, it wasn’t far away! I excitedly drove my car over and loaded as much beautifully weathered Ohio barn wood as I could into the back of old Betsie. I didn’t necessarily know what all the wood would be used for, but I knew there were projects in the future where it would come in handy.

Like today. My simple Christmas gift. Totally doable on a cold, snowy day.IMG_0627I found a couple boards of varying width and used my saw to make them the size I wanted. Using gorilla wood glue, I made the cross and put a bunch of library books as weights to hold them while they dried for a couple hours. Then I looped jute string around the center, with just a little bit of hot glue on the back to hold it in place.

Christmas is about Jesus humbling Himself, coming to this earth as a baby in a manger (can you imagine?), and thirty-three years later, dying on a cross to redeem fallen mankind. What better way to remember what He did for me?

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“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame. And I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.” (The Old Rugged Cross, by George Bennard)

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DIY Deer Antler Mount

Most gals don’t go out hunting and bag, tag, field dress, process and prepare their deer. But I do. I grew up hunting. When I was too small to carry a gun, I just trudged along with my parents, looking through the wrong end of the binoculars at my little sister and giggling. All the while learning to hunt. When I was 12, I bagged my first buck. My dad helped me mount the antlers. I have since done a couple of horn mounts. That leads me to today’s post. October 5, 2004- Hunting 2 026 I recently watched a “Design Rambling” on Miss Mustard Seed’s blog (which I ardently follow). Marian and her assistant Kriste were talking about the recent trend of deer heads/antlers/animal heads and whether the fad should stay or go in their opinion. Their conclusion at the end was that real ones and classy ones should stay. (Miss Mustard Seed has a rustic-looking cow head above her stove, after all…)

My deer from this year, although not huge, was mountable. Definitely not the trophy buck that my mom got, but nonetheless, one that I’m not ashamed to hang up in my house.IMG_4646 IMG_4638After the antlers and skull were removed from the rest of the animal, I started by boiling the skull to get off all the hair, etc. I chose to do this outside on my BBQ burner so as to not stink up the house. It took a good day and a half of boiling. (Actually you don’t want the water to be fully boiling, but almost.) For the last few hours, I added some Dawn dish soap to help de-grease. (I don’t have any pictures of this process.) I put a 2×4 across the pot to hold the antlers up out of the water since it will stain the antlers. Just the skull should be submerged. I added about half a bottle of hydrogen peroxide to a bowl-full of water to whiten and brighten. (The experts suggest using a 40% peroxide solution.) Here’s what they looked like after all that process- by far the most gross, stinky, and time-consuming. 😉 IMG_9859 Next, I wrapped the skull in jute cord, making sure to cover all the white that I had just whitened and brightened. 🙂 (So I guess really the whitening and brightening would be more for a European-style mount with the skull showing… oh well.) 😉 IMG_9883 In my garage I have a stash of barn wood… you never know when it could come in handy! This last summer I drove down the road to the neighbor’s and stuffed my poor car full. (I say poor car because I have a nice car. But she has hauled everything from straw to goats to dogs to baby trees to barn wood… She’s a good car!) The wood is gorgeous wood from an old barn that was being torn down. I cut a piece in half and mounted my antlers on it with two long screws, one through the existing hole near the bottom of the skull and another through a pilot hole I drilled through the top. Lastly, I nailed a picture mounting thingy on the back. (One of these.) IMG_9942 And, voila! The finished mount hanging in my entryway.DSC_4654 DSC_4693 DSC_4694