The rest of the hearts

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On Instagram this month, I posted a heart a day, #amonthofhearts. AllSparkledUpDesign . Part way through the month, I wondered if I would have the stamina and commitment to finish. Some of these took hours to complete. The discipline of taking a creative photo every day for a whole month taught me so much.
~ You never know you can do something until you try.
~ Don’t give up. Just keep going.
~ God has millions of ideas. Scripture says God is the author of all inspiration. If you hang out with him, you’ll find that out.
~ Don’t over think it. Sometimes what you do doesn’t have to be big or loud or even shared. God enjoys the flowers blooming deep in a jungle, unseen by humans, the songs of birds unheard by ears. Some creativity is just for your and his enjoyment. It’s ok. Slow down, breathe deep.
~ I had more ideas for hearts than I had days in the month. So I’m hoping to do this next February too.
Today is Day 28, the end of the month of hearts. Here are the remaining heart photos I posted on Instagram. Enjoy!

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Date Marmelade Scone and Turkish Coffee

Date Marmelade Scone and Turkish Coffee

16.

French Beaded Flowers.

French Beaded Flowers.

17.

Pennyslvania Dutch Heart. I'm still not finished with this one.

Pennyslvania Dutch Heart. I’m still not finished with this one.

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Our Siamese kitten and her favorite stuffie and scarf.

Our Siamese kitten and her favorite stuffie and scarf.

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Marble Heart.

Marble Heart.

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Coffee Heart in a cup I used as a child.

Coffee Heart in a cup I used as a child.

21.

Peach Walnut Flip. I usually bake this in a U-shape but twisted the ends to form a heart this time.

Peach Walnut Flip. I usually bake this in a U-shape but twisted the ends to form a heart this time.

22.

The old Remington Portable typewriter was really fun to use for the typed heart. I had forgotten how noisy but charming a typewriter sounds!

The old Remington Portable typewriter was really fun to use for the typed heart. I had forgotten how noisy but charming a typewriter sounds!

23.

A heart of Charms. Some from my childhood, some from my husband's family, some from my mom and grandmother.

A heart of Charms. Some from my childhood, some from my husband’s family, some from my mom and grandmother.

24.

I really didn't want this month to be about sweets. But... Chocolates!!!

I really didn’t want this month to be about sweets. But… Chocolates!!!

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Orange Ginger Cake. I didn't write down the recipe as I made it up. It was scrumptious!

Orange Ginger Cake. I didn’t write down the recipe as I made it up. It was scrumptious!

26.

I was feeling so rushed but decided there WAS enough time. And there was! I just had to believe it and it happened.

I was feeling so rushed but decided there WAS enough time. And there was! I just had to believe it and it happened.

27.

I drew this four times before I decided to just let it go and do it freehand. Words of wisdom from I Corinthians, chapter 13.

I drew this four times before I decided to just let it go and do it freehand. Words of wisdom from I Corinthians, chapter 13.

28.

For the very last heart, I made a paper cutting. So simple and yet so deep. Love them all, ALL of them.

For the very last heart, I made a paper cutting. So simple and yet so deep. Love them all, ALL of them.

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A Charming Heart

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On Instagram this month, I am posting a heart a day, #amonthofhearts. AllSparkledUpDesign . Today is Day 23 and I thought it would be fun to share the full size image here. I’ve had most of these charms since my childhood and some go back to my mother’s childhood. Some are old Cracker Jack prizes, some are homemade. My granddaughter and I spent a couple enjoyable hours placing these charms in heart shape for this photo. Click on the image to access the full size. At the end of the month, I’ll post the rest of the photos here as well. Enjoy!

A heart of charms. Can you find two toucans? A mouse with no tail? Two boxes of teeny tiny roses? Ken's missing sock? A Real Wicker Basket? A sphygmomenometer?

A heart of charms. Can you find two toucans? Three trains? A mouse with no tail? Two boxes of teeny tiny roses? A roll of paper towels? Barney Rubble? An old iron trivet? Ken’s missing sock? A Real Wicker Basket? Sparkly ballet slippers? A sphygmomenometer?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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If you follow me on Instagram, AllSparkledUpDesign, you know I’m posting A Month of Hearts. Today is Day 14 and there are 14 days of hearts to go! Here are the hearts I’ve posted so far. Make sure you check instagram so you can read all the captions that go with these photos. Love to you all!

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Pink Lace candy box

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Candle-lit heart

Candle-lit heart

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Real, edible, miniature chocolates.

Real, edible, miniature chocolates.

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Mercury glass heart and pearls.

Mercury glass heart and pearls.

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Beaded Heart, neat and tidy

Beaded Heart, neat and tidy


Beaded Heart, wild and unkempt

Beaded Heart, wild and unkempt

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Circuitry Heart

Circuitry Heart

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Welded Heart

Welded Heart

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Tiny Raggedy Ann and Andy

Tiny Raggedy Ann and Andy


Tiny Raggedy Ann with her ILY heart

Tiny Raggedy Ann with her ILY heart

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Vintage Valentines

Vintage Valentines

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Ribbon Flower velvet candy box.

Ribbon Flower velvet candy box.

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Silk Ribbon Embroidered heart box.

Silk Ribbon Embroidered heart box.

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Stone and Crystal Heart.

Stone and Crystal Heart.

13

Pink Ribbon Flowers.

Pink Ribbon Flowers.

14 Happy Valentine’s Day!

Two swans heart.

Two swans heart.

We got a Siamese kitten!

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She’s adorable! She was from a shelter and it was love at first sight.
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Our Siamese kitten has a little stuffed Siamese kitten. How cute is that! The stuffie was from American Girl and our kitten instantly adopted it.
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♡❤♡❤♡❤♡❤♡❤♡

I went treasure hunting… INSIDE an old quilt!

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We’ve had this quilt for about 30 years. We know who made it but the history of the quilt is now lost.

The old red, white and blue quilt.

The old red, white and blue quilt.

The quilt was mostly just displayed folded or kept in a box. When I got it out the other day, I noticed a new tear in the fabric. I looked closer and then peeked into the tear and was amazed that there was another quilt inside the old quilt! I know quilts have been “recycled” like this for centuries but had no idea the older quilt existed.

I carefully removed the hand stitched binding from one edge of the quilt and turned the quilt inside out to see the old quilt. What a beautiful surprise!

This old quilt is actually inside the red, white and blue quilt, which has been turned inside out.

This old quilt is actually inside the red, white and blue quilt, which has been turned inside out.

Such pretty fabrics!

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There is significant damage in several places of the old quilt. But I find the worn spots warm and charming, much like the tattered sections of old jeans. It’s a sign of having lived fully.

The tattered sections of the quilt are beautiful to me.

The tattered sections of the quilt are beautiful to me.

The next quilt I make will have intentional peeks at the insides. It's all beautiful.

The next quilt I make will have intentional peeks at the insides. It’s all beautiful.

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I think I’ll leave the red, white and blue quilt side turned inside for a while and enjoy this lovely pastel beauty for a while.

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Succulent Garden

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I made my first succulent garden! My mom gave me some of the succulents so long ago that they were starting to root into the paper towel on the plate. I got most of the others from Homewood Nursery.1-succulent-arrangement-materials

The platter is actually a big, heavy plant saucer, 14″ in diameter. Since it was so shallow, I decided to build a little stone wall in order to build up the soil. The stones used for the wall were all gathered from my back yard. Since the edge of the saucer was curved, I had to hot-glue the stones to keep them from sliding in to the center of the plate. It only took a small amount of glue to hold them together. I planned on using a cement filler between the stones but ended up not using it.2-succulent-arrangement-stone-wall

Since the saucer has no drainage, I covered the bottom with more stones.3-succulent-arrangement-stone-drainage

A layer of bonsai soil was spread over the stones. Not shown is a very thin scattering of charcoal to help with drainage.
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A thicker layer of cactus/succulent soil was placed on top, with a little more bonsai soil mixed in. I also arranged and glued more rocks to make another wall on top of the soil, then built up more soil inside to give the arrangement height.5-succulent-arrangement-layer-of-cactus-succulent-soil

Not all the succulents got used.6-succulent-arrangement-planting-finished
I’m so happy with how this turned out since it the first time I planted succulents.7-succulent-arrangement
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16-succulent-arrangementI got a container of “vase filler” from Target and sorted through to pull out all the black stones and light stones. The black stones were used on and near the elevated area in the center of the arrangement. The light stones were used everywhere else.17-succulent-arrangement

This dish is beautiful but I weighed it and it’s very heavy… 22 lbs! Wow! It’s definitely not a casual arrangement I will be moving often. But today, I’m really enjoying it on my dining room table.18-succulent-arrangement

Don’t miss it

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Yesterday I took a poinsettia outside to shake out the dead leaves. One leaf from the poinsettia had fallen. And then it rained during the night.

The day was busy but from the dining room, the tiny sparkle caught my eye.

The poinsettia leaf was no longer on the plant. During the night, it rained.

The poinsettia leaf was no longer on the plant. During the night, it rained.

I looked closer and it was even sparklier.

The poinsettia leaf had fallen but it was still good for something. It held rain.

The poinsettia leaf had fallen but it was still good for something. It held rain.

What are you missing today? Is there something you need to look at? What is tiny and quiet that you forgot? Love it all. And if you’re what has fallen, collect light from where you are.

Even a fallen leaf can still be bright. Don't waste anything, even hitting bottom.

Even a fallen leaf can still be bright. Don’t waste anything, even hitting bottom.

Never give up.

A Warm Winter Game Weekend

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I’ve wanted to host a game night for a while but everyone’s schedules were really busy. So we freed up the whole weekend and let the gatherings happen when they could. What fun!

First of all, I wanted warmth and light. Right after Christmas is always so dreary. All the prettiness of Christmas is packed away and all that’s left is cold. So I did a little searching and gathered a bit of warmth from around the world.

First and most important, there had to be fur from Russia.
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I have a large fur throw in the living room but needed something smaller for the dining room chairs. I found the perfect fur at JoAnn fabrics and made two throws from 1.5 yards of fur to drape over the backs of the chairs.

I adore knits from Scandinavia and found a beautiful heavy knit, also at JoAnn Fabrics. 1.5 yards made two more comfy throws for the chairs. I also used another yard of fur and a lovely wool throw that a friend had given me.

On one chair is a pillow I made using Floral Wood Carving Stripe fabric from Spoonflower.  2 carved wood flower stripe fabric pillow.jpg Roostery sells premade pillows using the wood carving fabric too. The wood buttons were fun to carve while watching Gilmore Girls. :) 3-hand-carved-wood-buttons

On the table, more softness. “Go ahead and put your elbows on this table!” Oh the softness! 4 Winter Game Weekend soft table.jpg

I’ve never leaned on a table so soft that your elbows sink in, and there are no words to describe how comforting this is!!! If you want your guests to linger, you’ve GOT to try it!

To get it soft enough, I used these layers: Felt-backed plastic tablecloth, cotton table cloth, fluffy old blanket, chenille bedspread-turned into a tablecloth and a thick cotton throw. 5 Winter Game Weekend table throws and blankets.jpg

Our table belonged to my grandparents. Decades of love and laughter have taken place around this table. The only thing I’d change is if it were a trestle table with rounded corners and center pedestal so we could fit more people around it without bumping the table legs. My father made the family trestle table and I’ve always wanted one. This trestle table is beautiful! But really, all these tables are gorgeous here.

The first two nights I used the white bedspread/tablecloth as the top layer. The last night I put the maroon spread on top. You simply must try this! Make sure you use washable throws though, in case there are crumbs and spills. From now on, I’m going to be watching for thick, washable throws that can be layered on tables. I might even make one for my desk. Yes! … um… zzzz…. maybe too much comfort for a desk… ;)

For lighting, I wired old chandelier crystals and glass icicle ornaments to the light fixture. The crystals were salvaged from a family heirloom and I cherish them so much. 6 Winter Game Weekend icy chandelier.jpg They add a delightful sparkle and look quite wintery.

7 Winter Game Weekend chandelier with crystals.jpg Two corners of the dining room have lamps. The terrarium is still unfinished, tied together with cord but the plants are growing fine. They’re over a year old now. I finished all the carving but have yet to cut the wood base, glue it all together and line it with copper. The glass top of the terrarium is the old dining room light fixture that we removed when we bought this house.

8 light fixture and wood carved terrarium.jpg I also keep white mini lights on top of the china cabinet and dining room bookcase until winter is past. To me, mini lights don’t remind me of Christmas, they mean health and well-being. The more light in winter, the better!

While visiting my daughter in Tokyo, I learned about Japanese tables that were warmed underneath. What a great concept! To mimic the comfort of a kotatsu, I put an electric blanket under the table to tuck our stocking feet into. 9 Winter Game Weekend electric blanket floor.jpg

On the table I put a beautiful leaf plate from Arhaus. It was perfect for holding cookies – German Springerli and Viennese Chocolate Hazelnut Crescents.10 Winter Game Weekend Springerli Chocolate Hazelnut Crescents.jpg

One of my sons made me a gorgeous chalkboard tray for Christmas. He did a beautiful job on it! It was jolly fun writing on the tray, playing tic tac to and keeping score. 11 Winter Game Weekend Arhaus leaf bowl.jpg

We warmed our hands on cups of rich cocoa, Swiss chocolate of course. 12 Winter Game Weekend Chalkboard Tray.jpg

Friday night was just the girls. We played Old Maid, the very cards that I used in my childhood in the 60’s. So much fun!! 13 Winter Game Weekend playing Old Maid.jpg It had been so many years since I played with those cards. There was Fifi and her poodle, Greenthumb Gert, whose plantings were being nibbled up by rabbits as fast as she planted them, and Milkman Mo with his begging cats. Love the humor in these old cards, which probably would be deemed totally “politically incorrect” now-adays. 14 Winter Game Weekend vintage Old Maid cards.jpg

Saturday night, children and adults together played Clue. We did our best using  English accents and Oh the mystery and laughter!

15-winter-game-weekend-clueMiss Peacock, how can you be capable of such a deed! Mr Plum’s strategy was quite scientific. And Colonel Mustard actually held the pistol and knife. This view of the chandelier is only possible if you’re a game piece lying in the billiard room. haha 16-winter-game-weekend-professor-plum-looks-up

One of my favorite warming strategies was loading fireplace videos on tablets and displaying them in the bottom of the china cabinet. Fire where there is never any fire!  17-winter-game-weekend-china-cabinet-fireplace I sure wish some company would create a mini fake fire device that could play a simple, looping fire video like this and fit in a small space like a china cabinet. I would buy several in a heartbeat. Fire amongst the plants in the living room? Yes! Fire on my nightstand as I go to sleep? Yes! The last time we had a fake fire was when we made a fireplace in the oven. There’s something comforting about flame, even if it’s fake.

Sunday night’s beer and poker game ended up being postponed because the flu visited. Alas. But even as I write this, I’m feeling quite toasty. The throws are still on the chairs and I feel the warmth radiating against my back. My laptop is set up on this table and my arms are leaning in on the softness as I type. A Winter Game Weekend after Christmas has definitely become a tradition in our home.

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Sweet & Sparkling Specialty Sugars for tea and coffee and sprinkling

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So happy she loved the gift I made for her! Specialty Sugars for her tea and coffee and sprinkling on toast, cereal or anything else that needs a little sweet sparkle.

Delicious and beautiful flavored sugars in jars.

Delicious and beautiful flavored sugars in jars.


I bought the decorative knobs and glass jars at Hobby Lobby. It was easy drilling a hole in the corks, using a hack saw to shorten the knob bolt and gluing them together with a few beads.
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~ Lavender Sugar ~
I ground up culinary lavender with a mortar and pestle, then put the lavender and sugar in a food processor. The lavender sugar was then layered with crystal sugar in the jar.
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~ Lemon Orange Sugar ~
Lemon and Orange zest were placed in a food processor with sugar and ground medium fine. I’ve been making this mixture for years for use in cheesecake because it makes a very fine textured cheesecake. To fill the jar, I spooned in a layer of Lemon Orange Sugar then used tongs to place white sugar cubes against the side of the jar. Then I spooned in more sugar and repeated the layers. Next time I’ll add more orange zest for a darker orange colored sugar.
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~ Vanilla Bean Sugar ~
I scraped the seeds from two vanilla beans and ground the seeds with sugar in a food processor. I used one half of each vanilla bean, split lengthwise, to place in the jar. I spooned in about 1″ of Vanilla Sugar in the bottom of the jar. Then I used tongs and a wood skewer to position each vanilla bean against the side of the jar before adding the rest of the Vanilla Sugar.
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~ Pumpkin Spice Sugar ~
This recipe is something one of my sons and I made up, based on the spice ratio I use in my Pumpkin Pies. We keep this sugar blend on hand to make Pumpkin Spice Lattes, which everyone knows don’t have any pumpkin in them anyway. haha. Still, the flavor is very close to my pumpkin pies, sans pumpkin. To fill this jar, I used a small spoon and a tiny funnel I made from two straws. I can’t explain how I did the design but if you look up “sand art in a bottle” on youtube, you’ll get the idea. The white layer is Vanilla Bean Sugar. The dark brown “spots” in the white layer are pieces of cinnamon stick. I wanted to position the cinnamon stick pieces to look like hearts but the white sugar kept filling in the spaces so it didn’t work out.
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“Necessity is the mother of invention,” it is said. So true. I couldn’t access my precut wood pieces or run a saw so I ended up using the only wood on hand, a 30 year old piece of Sassafrass root from my parents property. It’s been in my tea collection for decades and still has a beautiful scent. I used a small craft saw to cut thin slices of the wood to make the tags. I wrote on them with permanent marker. Now I wonder if I had wood-burned the words in… could the slice of sassafrass be steeped in boiling water to flavor tea? What fun that would be! I’ll have to try it out.

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For each of the flavored sugars, I used one cup of granulated sugar plus the flavoring agent. That was plenty to fill the jar, with a little left over.
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I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! We sure had a jolly time.

THE Carpenter Christmas Tablescape

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Carpenter, as in not someone’s name, but rather the vocation. The wood worker that cuts down trees and uses sharp gouges to make houses and three-legged stools.

And not just any carpenter, but THE carpenter. Jesus could have been any profession in the world. But he was a worker of wood, a simple carpenter by trade. When I volunteered to do a tablescape for the Christmas brunch event at our church, the first thing I thought of was Christmas trees and wood, and how significant wood is in relation to Christmas and Jesus… and me.
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Jesus worked in a wood shop. He used logs and blocks of wood. He used saws and gouges.
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At the end of a day he would have had the glorious smell of aromatic sawdust and curly wood shavings clinging to his garments.
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As an apprentice, one of the first pieces of furniture he would have made would be a three-legged stool.

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Three legged stools can sit firmly on uneven surfaces.

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And if one leg is a little longer than the other, the stool still works so it is the perfect beginner’s project for making furniture.
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My dad enjoyed wood working as a hobby but he didn’t build furniture. He built his own house, he loved cutting down trees and chopping wood, and he loved carving.
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I learned to carve by watching him. “Never fight the grain of wood,” he quietly said. “Work with the grain, not against it. Take tiny cuts. You can’t put wood back but you can always cut away tiny bits. Take your time.”
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My father had incredible patience and I watched in silence as he made tiny cuts in the wood.
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I was 22 when I married and moved away from home. All I learned about woodworking was during my childhood but I never forgot my father’s skill. My father passed away just a couple days before Christmas, two years ago. But instead of having the memory of his passing be something hard, it is beautiful this time of year. Because my father worked with wood and so did Jesus. My dad never got to see my carving. But somehow, I think he knows and is glad.
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Wood workers mark their tools and their woodwork. It’s called a “maker’s mark.” My dad carved his name into the gouges he made from nails.
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He carved his name and date in his carvings.
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He sometimes carved the location where he made his piece.
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Jesus knew all the details of woodworking.
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His first contact with wood was being laid in a wood manger, a feeding trough for animals. It was rustic and rough.
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As he grew, He learned how to shape wood and smooth wood, remove tiny bits to make something functional and beautiful. He knew which trees were strong, which had the best grain, which smelled aromatic. And he would have known about maker’s marks.

As I put together my Carpenter tablescape, I included two wood cross beams leaning against the back of the creche.
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After spending a life working with wood, Jesus’ last contact with wood was being nailed to it.
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And there, in the cross, was Jesus’ “maker’s mark”, the nail prints.
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This Christmas, what is precious to you? To me, it is the memory of my dad, the wood carver.
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And being blessed with the ability to work with wood like my dad and Jesus, The Carpenter.
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