Winter Solstice (and a quick sewing tutorial)

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Winter solstice this year was a great one… a full lunar eclipse (although I admit we slept right on through it in our house) on the eve of winter solstice… magic in the air for sure!

We really enjoy winter solstice at our house… we have a few traditions that we repeat every year. One is stringing cereal onto thread and draping it across the bare branches of our trees for the wildlife to share… some apples too, hung on a thread. Our gift to the creatures that share our yard in the night, the longest night of the year.

Miles threading Cherrios onto embroidery floss…

Clara checking to see how far she has gotten on her strand…

I realize you probably don’t need to see a closeup of a cheerio on a string, but I just liked how this picture turned out!

Apples hung on our front yard tree branches, for the deer…

The cheerios for the squirrels…

And extra cereal flung all over the yard… for the birds… and for FUN!

Then we welcome the return of the sun by eating our entire dinner in only candlelight and firelight… thanking the sun for all of it’s strength and energy, and for bringing light into our lives.

Homemade chicken noodle soup heats up on our woodburning stove…

First, the kids hand roll beeswax candles for the center of the table.

For dinner on winter solstice we always have soup and rolls… Letting the candlelight spill over the room, we soak in the stillness and darkness and make wishes for the new year.

Beeswax candles the kids made… and a mini forest created from SouleMama’s idea (love her blog!)

Writing our hopes and dreams for 2011 on slips of paper, we light them on fire by our candles and watch as the paper transforms to smoke… carrying our intentions out to the universe.

Miles lights his intention on fire…

Clara’s intentions release into the air…

… and the strips of paper get safely dropped into a waiting jar of water when the flames get close to sweet little fingertips!

This year I also crafted a little family gift for the darkest day of the year… water bottle cozies… one for each of us. Not just for tummy aches, we use hot water bottles to hold onto when we go outside and look at the stars, when we are watching a movie, even to fall asleep with. Our old cozies were getting pretty nasty, so I made up this pattern to create some fresh new ones.

Tutorial: Water bottle cozy

Water bottle

fleece fabric, inner and outer layer, both cut into a 10 inche x 33 inch rectangle

sewing machine (or needle and thread if you are going to sew by hand)

1. I used a standard sized water bottle, but you may need to tweak those measurements to make sure that this cozy works with your particular water bottle. I’ve seen larger water bottles out there… so just make sure you make a rectangle that is a few inches wider then your water bottle and 2 and a half times as long.

I used an inexpensive sale fleece for the lining (in white) and a nicer fluffy fleece for the outside.

I’m very sorry that these pics have such bad lighting… I was sewing at night!

(I also cut out a quick heart from felt and sewed in onto the outer layer of fleece, for decoration. Totally optional!)

2. Lining up the outer fabric with the lining fabric, right sides together, sew around the perimeter of the rectangle, leaving a gap at one end big enough to slip your hand through.

Sewing around the perimeter

The scissors show you where I’ve left a hole to flip inside out…

4. Reach inside the opening you left and pull the fabric through… flipping the rectangle inside out. Hand or machine stitch the opening closed. You now have a long rectangle with completely finished edges.

Nice tucked in edges!

5. Fold the rectangle like an envelope… pulling one of the short ends of the rectangle up 3/4th of the way, as shown…

6. … and folding the remaining edge over, so that the two short ends of the rectangle overlap by about 1 or 2 inches, as shown.

7. Just sew all the way down the side, along the long edge on both sides, securing the fold.

8. Slip your water bottle inside! Congrats! I hope you all had a lovely Winter Solstice, my friends! xoxo