Sunday, November 22, 2009

A big Thanksgiving with all the trimmings -- and relatives

Nostalgic for those big family Thanksgivings of yesteryear, we've decided to invite the whole family to our house this year. That means we'll be gathering relatives we haven't seen much over the past few years, mainly since they had kids.

I have nothing against kids in general, but when there are too many of them, they tend to run around the house like wild turkeys on herbs. My couch turns into a trampoline, my expensive knickknacks become toys and the cats barely escape with their remaining lives.

That's not the only reason we've avoided the mass invasion. One year, a battle broke out between the two major clans — the vegans and the carnivores — and the tofurkey food fight was not funny. You can't get that stuff out of your tablecloth, let alone your hair.

Talk about guests who never leave, my relatives were still partying at midnight when I came out in my flannel pajamas and turned off the lights. Before they left, they raided the refrigerator and ate the leftovers that would have fed us for a week.

But my kids have been nagging us to have another big Thanksgiving. They miss the frenzied chaos, deafening noise, and broken furniture the holiday brings with it. Now that they have kids of their own, they want to show them off at a "family reunion" this year.

Fine. So, I mailed off handmade invitations to anyone with a related surname. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I asked them to bring a dish to share (a bag of chips?), a game to play (Pass-Out?), and something they're thankful for (that they're not hosting Thanksgiving?)

Around the dinner table we'll take turns sharing our blessings. The kids will say they're grateful for video games and iPods, and the fact that Christmas is only four weeks away (which means more video games and iPods). The adults will just say "Alcohol."

Then, after we all devour enough food to feed the city of Fresno, we'll sit around with our guts exposed and watch a sports event, like "The Jerry Springer Show," on the plasma TV.

My kids will leave early because they have to go to their in-laws for a repeat Thanksgiving, ditching the rest of the relatives who've brought their sleeping bags.

Exhausted after everyone leaves, we'll try to get back into the spirit of the season. Before you know it, the relatives will be back for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

By Guest Blogger Sue Warner from Paper Shaper!

Lately, I’ve been inspired by all the gorgeous reds, yellows, and browns in store windows and on neighbors’ doorsteps. Why wait until December to decorate your home? It’s time to get creative and crafty now. Don’t get rid of all your pumpkins yet. Put some beads, glitter and shimmer around the house. The warm, spicy colors of fall are sure to brighten any home.

Here are 10 simple ideas that you can use to create the latest fall crafts.

1. Decorate with beads.
Make wine charms with fall colored beads in red, yellow, and brown. Add them to small wire rings, then give them to your friends as hostess gifts. Or make fall-themed key chains or wine bottle toppers. Go to your local bead store for ideas and classes. Two new bead stores in downtown Danville offer a great variety of beads and unending project ideas. Both are located across from Lunardi’s. supermarket. Femme Chic, 294 Railroad Ave. ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) has a lot of great project ideas. Just a few blocks away is Beaded Bliss, 222 Railroad Ave. ( with great kits and bead sets. Both stores offer classes and trunk shows to get you motivated to start any project.

2. Decorate with Styrofoam and beads.
Make beaded ball ornaments. Cover 2 or 3-inch Styrofoam balls with beads from one of the bead stores. First, cover the ball in glue. Use pushpins to string the beads, filling each with 3 to 5 beads. Push the pins into the ball until it’s covered. Add a loop of string at the top with a pushpin and glue. Use the loop to hang your ornament onto an ornament tree. Turn one of your small plants into an ornament holder or get a small ornament tree at a craft store. In December, use your ornaments on your Christmas tree.

3. Decorate with glitter.
Cover everything with glitter. Martha Stewart’s glitter is the best I’ve found ( Buy tiny pumpkins and cover them with glue using a foam brush. Follow with a coat of beautiful bronze or gold glitter. Paint the stem with acrylic paint. I covered mine with three coats of spray fixative so the glitter didn’t get everywhere. They turned out adorable and were so easy. You can also glitterize leaves, wreaths, candlesticks, fruit, flowers, or whatever you can find that is just begging for glitter.

4. Decorate with paper.
Make a fall sign to hang on your mantle or use it for your front door. Construct the sign to say F-A-L-L or A-U-T-U-M-N using 2-inch chipboard letters from your scrapbooking stash or the craft store. Paint them chocolate brown with acrylic paint. Back each letter with 3-4 inch squares of coordinating fall themed scrapbooking papers. Glue each letter-square side by side to form the sign. Glue on some glitter-covered leaves in the corners. Add a matching chocolate brown or orange ribbon at the top for a hanger by punching holes at the top on each end, lacing the ribbon through, and tying a knot to hold it in place on each end. For examples and photos of these signs, visit The Paper Shaper at

5. Decorate with circles.
Make a wreath from fall-themed scrapbooking papers. Cut out several 5 to 6-inch circles, overlap them to form a large ring, and glue them together. Add a ribbon to the top of the wreath to make a hanger and a festive bow. In the lower left corner add some fall leaves, sticks and pinecones using hot glue. Feel free to cover anything in glitter for a snazzier look.

6. Decorate with vases.
Create festive Thanksgiving centerpieces made from vases. November’s issue of Parents Magazine offered a cute version of this project. ( Place all of the beautiful vases that you own (and hardly get to use) across the center of the table like a table runner. Fill them each halfway with stones, lima beans, acorns, sticks, or anything fall-like. Cover 12 to 16-inch-long sticks with acrylic paint (and glitter if you want). Cut large squares, or circles out of paper. Draw letters on each shape to spell a word, such as T-H-A-N-K-S or F-A-L-L. Glue one letter onto each stick and put it in a vase.

7. Decorate with ribbon.
Make napkin rings from hair elastics covered with fall-colored ribbon. Cut the ribbon into 6-inch lengths and tie each piece onto the elastic until it’s covered with ribbon. Finish off each napkin ring with a dangling leaf charm from the craft or bead store. These will look great with your other table decorations.

8. Decorate with frames.
Put fall leaves in frames. Get matching wooden frames in a variety of sizes from a local craft store. (Richard’s Crafts in Alamo has a good selection: Remove the glass, fill each frame with a variety of fall leaves, then replace the glass. Arrange them on a table or hang them on the wall.

9. Decorate with fleece.
Make a warm fall fleece throw. Buy 2 coordinating cuts of fall-themed fleece from the fabric store. Get about 11/2 yards of each. Cut 7-inch-long slits 1 inch apart along the perimeter of each piece of fabric. Lay the 2 pieces on top of one another and tie each slit of fabric to the one below it, attaching the two pieces together. Now you have a softy, cozy fall throw!

10. Decorate with gourds.
[Here's a great project to do with kids]

Here's a great project to do with kids
Fill a large basket with a variety of gourds from the pumpkin patch. Include mini pumpkins (covered with glitter!). Tie bows to the basket with wide orange or brown ribbon. This will look good all fall long.

Now that everything’s decorated with orange and brown glitter, it’s time to have a party! I just need to figure out how to find time for all of these crafts.

Sue Warner lives in Danville with her husband, Matt, and her children, Bradley,4 and Stephanie, 9 months. She enjoys scrapbooking, paper crafting and all things crafty. She sells handmade paper crafts such as scrapbooks, gift tags, cards, wine charms, and more. Visit her blog at