Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Holiday Tradition I love (and how I'd really love to win a new mint cleaner!!)

So I was surfing through my favorite blogs today and I found this awesome giveaway on Tatertots and Jello.  To enter to win a Mint Cleaner Robotic Floor Cleaner you just have to post on your blog about one of the topics they mentioned...so here is my entry and boy, could I use something to help me keep my kitchen floor clean.  Have I ever mentioned how Chris says I would be the perfect wife if only I liked housework a little more.  Well, he's exaggerrating on the perfect part, but definitely not on the liking housework part!

  So...my family is big on tradition and it's something I'm hoping to pass on to my children.  Every year of my life (except for the year my Mom was pregnant with my brother), we have driven to Illinois (an 18-hr drive, mind you) to my grandparents's house to have Christmas with them.  And the entire trip has become such a tradition that when Chris and I married, it wasn't even a question.  We'd be making the trip ourselves.  There was no way I was missing Christmas in Pearl.  Now, understand that my Grandparents live in a town so small they have to drive half an hour to get to a town the size of the one I live in and my blog is called Small Town Stitcher.  There is absolutely NOTHING to do there EXCEPT spend time with family and make our own fun.  But that is why we love it so much. 

  So, every year, when school lets out we get ready to go.  We pack warm clothes and hope for snow.  We pack snacks and Christmas movies in the car.  We pack our Christmas presents and hide them in suitcases from nosy inquisitive little eyes.  We pack extra blankets just in case and we head out.  We drive as far as we can go in one day (although many times in my life we've driven through the night to avoid a hotel room), stopping for meals, gas and time for little legs to run.  We talk to each other, play games like I Spy, watch (or listen from the front seat) to the Grinch, Polar Express, and an occasional Mary Poppins or Madagascar (whatever was already in the DVD player from before!).  We sleep and listen to the radio.  When a family is trapped together in a car on the highway, it's the perfect time to catch up on all the talking you forget to do in your everyday lives.

A view of the creek last year in one of those lucky snowy Christmases!
  Once we're there, we again hope for snow.  We bake.  We talk.  We read old magazines and Reader's Digests Grandma has saved.  We play card games, feed the horses, play pool and hope for snow.  We drive to Walmart to get what we've forgotten at home and check on sleds just in case it snows.  Are you noticing a theme here?  These Florida people WANT some snow!  And sometimes (like this last year) we get lucky, althought not often enough!
  
 
Emma giving her GG and Granddad some love last year!
    But the best part is having four generations of family including cousins, aunts and uncles, all gathered in my Grandparents' living room.  We open presents.  We laugh.  We reminisce.  Some wrapping paper fights get started with the balled up paper.  We share in traditions that all of us love.
   I know that this tradition won't last forever.  I know that life is not forever, therefore things have to change.  But that makes each Christmas there even more special.  I know that I will NEVER forget spending Christmas with my family in Pearl.  I hope that my children won't either.  Wherever Christmas finds our family in the future, I know the memories of our family tradition will warm my heart and I can only pray it does the same for my children.  Maybe one day my grandchildren will LOVE to come and spend Christmas with me like I do with my Grandparents.  I can only hope!
I LOVE this picture of my sweet boy!
  And now for the obligatory mention that I posted this as an entry to win the Robotic Cleaner.  But, please believe this would have been posted anyway.  Stories like this are what make the Holidays so special.  So, share a story with me...what's your favorite Christmas tradition?

I am participating in Infarrantly Creative and Tatertots and Jello’s Blog Hop for a chance to win a Mint Cleaner. It is the revolutionary machine that cleans your hard floor surfaces for you.
Click here to join the blog hop and a chance to win!Mint_cloth2
The Mint Cleaner is available at the following places:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sewing Along

As busy as this week's been, I've managed to get some sewing done in the evenings.  Wednesday evening I got an Itty Bitty Baby Dress from Rae's awesome tutorial done from picking a fabric to showing it off in about an hour including the time I put the kids to bed and walked out to the living room when I pinned things together to sit with Chris and my brother, Jay.  I thought it came out so cute!  I can't wait to give it to Oren's teacher.  It is so precious to think of a baby that small.  I barely remember my kids as babies some days.  And other days it seems like yesterday...  I really hope Tara likes it.



And then Thursday night once everyone who wasn't spending the night had gone and we'd all had naps and nibbled on leftovers I got out my fabric and pattern pieces for the Mad Men Sew along over at Presser Foot.  I chose a really cool denim-looking linen blend with a glitter sparkle to it for my muslin in the hopes that I'll get lucky on the first try and have a new top to wear.  I say top because after I'd chosen it from the dollar bins and waited in line, it wasn't enough fabric for what the pattern called for.  Oh well--I'm hoping the muslin will help with fitting the top, I'm pretty confident in the skirt, so...I just cut it as long as I had room for and if it turns out good, I'll hem it to a cute length for a top.  I've never done a sew-along before, so I'm trying to keep up. 

Also, I heard from my cousin who's due with her little boy any day now and they've finally chosen a name and nursery theme, so the only Black Friday shopping I did yesterday was for some fat quarters and fleece to whip him up a little quilt.  I won't see them until Christmas, so this one isn't a rush.  But with all the other ideas floating around in my head, I think I'll get to it pretty quick.  I've never quilted fleece...any suggestions or ideas??

And now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, we've begun the holiday season.  We went and saw a movie yesterday and once we got home, the kids and I have the house semi-decorated for Christmas.  We usually get 2 Christmas trees (live ones), so that will wait probably till this coming weekend, but most everything else is out.  Now we'll sit down and decide what we want to do for sure this month--Christmas concert at school, watching Christmas movies, having friends over for oysters and clam chowder, crafty projects, etc.  I love this time of the year because it is so family oriented.  It's a time when people want to be surrounded with people they care about and are usually just a little bit nicer to everyone.  Today I'm headed to a huge craft show with my sister.  I can't wait to see what's for sale and what ideas I can bring home...

So let the holiday season begin and I'll be right here, just sewing along...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A baby gift

I mentioned yesterday that I would have pictures of my latest baby quilt today, and I finished it up last night.  Well, it's still waiting on a label, but I'll quickly handstitch that on.  I wanted to mail it today, but I didn't get a chance to photograph it with any light left last night, so I guess it can hold on for one more day....

So this gift is for a dear friend of mine from high school.  She's now got 3 little ones; 2 boys and a beautiful baby girl.  I asked how she was decorating the nursery and she said she'd wanted to go with a pig theme, but couldn't find anything, so she'd settled for pink and green and was putting in little piggy accents where she could.  The pig theme made me laugh since we both collected pig figurines in school, so I automatically went to Etsy and searched for pig baby items.  Once I saw this hat, I knew it had to be bought.  Usually I think, I could just make that, but my knitting is so slow and I rip out as much as I knit because I don't pay attention, so the do-it-myself factor never came in to play.  I contacted the seller and she knit and shipped me one in 2 days.  2 days!  I couldn't even have cast on and started knitting in 2 days!!  The hat is absolutely precious and I can't wait to see a picture of it on Miss Reese!!
This is the picture from Etsy, but I have no doubt Reese will be just as cute!
  
But then I had to make her something too.  She had mentioned that she was thinking of taking up quilting before she found out she was pregnant with Reese, so a baby quilt would be perfect.  I was looking for inspiration online and found Amanda Jean's quilt on the Moda Bake Shop and knew it would be perfect. I even had a Soiree charm pack sitting around.  Of course, Amanda Jean called for 2 packs, so I decided to switch it up a little and hand-embroider Reese's name in the middle column.  I'm all for trying out new techniques and ideas and I haven't embroidered anything in years!  I got the columns all put together and got some pink perle cotton to embroider with.  I played with fonts on my computer until I found a design I liked and then printed it out.  Then I used my trusty light table, window with sun coming in, to trace the name onto the fabric.  Then I just sat and caught up with Dancing with the Stars while her name came to life!  Sometimes I like handwork, like the binding of quilts, because it helps me to focus on the person I'm giving something to.  Using the machine I think about what I'm doing and what comes next and a million other things, but handwork always makes me concentrate on the project and who it's going to.  I know it sounds silly, but I like to think that I'm adding in love and prayers to the quilt with each stitch I take.





When it came to quilting, I debated a few ideas.  At first I'd planned to stipple the whole thing except for right around her name, but the background fabric was too busy for stippling.  So I decided to just outline everything.  But the thought of outlining all of those little rectangles...so I spur-of-the moment decided to just do vertical lines in the white areas and went for it. I figured I could spend some time with the seam ripper if I didn't like it.  And I do like it.  It's different for me, but sometimes different is good.



So, these pictures are in mid-day sun, and while people tell you that full sun washes you out, it actually darkened the colors for me.  Imagine the backing quite a bit lighter.  I usually always piece the backing, but for this simple quilt, I just laid it down and went for it.  I added the extra coins that I would have usually put on the back to the binding.  I thought it added a whimsical touch.

And there it is...my latest quilt.  A simple, yet loving gift for an old friend and her new little one.  Isn't giving from the heart so gratifying? 

Does anyone else ever fight with Blogger about turning pictures sideways??  Oh, well, at least it's easier to read now...


Monday, November 22, 2010

Working through the night...

So as I’ve mentioned in the last few posts, life is crazy right now, but I have the distinct feeling that I’m just getting warmed up and as my kids grow, craziness may be our life for awhile.  Right now, I’m finishing up a baby quilt for a beautiful little girl.  A friend from high school has 2 little boys and just had a baby girl.  Some might call her crazy for having 3 under the age of 4, but she’s a great person and I know she’s a great Mama.  I couldn’t help but make her a special and very girly present for that sweet baby girl that’s sharing her house now! Here’s a sneak peek, but I should have finished pictures tomorrow..I’ve just got a little binding and a run through the washer and dryer to finish it up.

   And we all know that Thanksgiving is this week and then starts the rush to finish up Christmas gifts…  Is it okay to admit I haven’t even really started thinking about Christmas?  I hate how Thanksgiving often gets overlooked in the madness that can be the Christmas season and I just wanted to take a deep breath and enjoy all I have to be thankful for, which is so, so, very much, before I jump in the madness with both feet!

   As if Handmade Christmas giving wasn’t knocking at my door, I’ve also got an Itty, Bitty Baby dress from Rae in the works for one of Oren’s teachers at school.  She just had her FOURTH baby girl.  Can you imagine a house with 4 girls spread over 14 years??  Oren just adores Mrs. Tara, and I wanted to do something special for her.  So, she’s back from the 6 weeks of maternity she took with her sweet baby, but…better late than never, right?  Oh, and did I mention that I jumped in to the Mad Men Sew-Along over at Presser Foot.  I love Kelli and Rian’s blog and style.  I almost NEVER make anything for me, or finish it if I do start something, but I thought I could handle a sheath.  Plus, the dress is so super cute, how could I pass that up?  So, I’m linking up with them and will be trying to keep up!

   So, I see some late night sewing in my near future, because I don’t see how I’m going to get everything done between now and Christmas, but I can’t wait to try!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One cute little Queen

   Like I said last post, my Emma was the Little Queen for Homecoming this year at the High School.  Chris is both an alumni and current teacher at the school, so Emma and the assistant principal’s son were the little royalty for the game.  This meant wearing a fancy dress, getting all dolled up and walking across the football field holding flowers for the Homecoming princess.  The little king wears a little tux and holds a pillow with the 2 crowns on them.  Their other responsibility was to ride in the Homecoming parade on Friday afternoon….okay, here’s where my crafty side kicked in!  I did think of making her dress for Friday night, but decided to throw that crazy notion out the window before I got bogged down in the stress of it.  But, I did make the signs for the parade with my new Silhouette!


Should have gotten a closeup on the signs, huh?  Click to blow up the picture for a closer look.

  Like I said, I got it for my birthday last week so it’s brand new and I’m completely learning as I go.  But I managed to easily cut out the letters for the 2 posters (and letters for my friend’s little girl who was also in the parade).  But after we got the letters cut and run through my Xyron sticker maker, the posters looked a little bare (and, yes, if I had them to do over again, I totally would have backed each letter with another color to help them stand out more.  Live and learn.) So, I used some of my $10 free credit to the Silhouette store to purchase a little crown and a football design.  I thought these filled in the space well and I flipped the placement of the designs on each poster so the crown was over king on one poster and queen on the other.  I had a little trouble cutting out the crown on one, I lined it up wrong and it cut off the top of one of the bauble-things on top, so I just covered them all with blue to tie in the color scheme and cover that right up.  And I think it looks even better!  Don’t you love happy accidents…

These 2 were loving posing for us!

  The day went so well and Emma had a great time as Homecoming Royalty!  I am overwhelmed looking at the pictures both because I can’t believe my little one looks so beautiful and because I know that before I am ready, she’ll be preparing for Homecoming again, only this time as a high schooler, and not as a 6-year-old.  I am so blessed to be her Momma and I was so proud to see her out on that field.  So, for both my sake and for all the family that read this…here’s a few gratuitous pictures of my precious girl.
Look how little they look!


Blogger will NOT let me turn this one correctly for some reason...it's so precious though that I had to include it!

One day I will get Oren to look at the camera and smile normally!!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When it rains, it POURS (and ramblings from a semi-coherent woman)

Hey all,
  You know that old saying...well, we haven't had any real rain around here lately, and my flowers are all showing it, but my life has been hit hard with a hurricane of responsibilities, obligations, events and STUFF lately.  In the last month we've had a 4-day trip to see my grandparents, Halloween, Chris' birthday, 3 doctor appointments, a long-weekend trip for Chris and me to Nashville, my birthday, parties at school, events at school, youth football games, high school football games, a trip to the ER for stitches (details to follow), birthday parties (besides family ones for Chris and me), and this week is consumed with Homecoming Duties as Emma is serving as the Little Queen this weekend!!!!!

  I'm not sure I've sat down for more than 15 minutes in a row except to drive somewhere!  Don't get me wrong, I love my life and every blessing in it, but I told Chris the other day that Christmas is going to be here before I have time to turn around and put the Halloween decorations away (don't judge...I'm working on it!)He just reminded me that life is a roller coaster and before we turn around twice Emma and Oren will be graduating from high school and we'll still be busy then.

  And that's one thing I've really thought about lately.  If I get so busy racing through life to "get it all done" I'm missing the point of being here and having things to do.  So, I'm taking a minute to blog, eat an Oreo or 2, and write down some things I wanted to show ya'll and some things I'd like to get done in the next little bit.  So here goes...

   Last Wednesday, Emma was sitting at the coffee table in the living room coloring and when she got up to get a new crayon her hand slipped on a paper she'd laid on the arm of the couch and her face smacked the arm HARD.  Now, understand, the couch is completely padded, but that little face hit so hard that the skin just burst open and she squalled!  I knew immediately that this was a trip to the ER/Dr. office kind of cut and I called Chris who was still working at school (since we were due to leave on our trip to Nashville the next day!!) and told him to hurry home because Emma was busted open.  When it comes to the kids getting hurt, I am the picture of calm (and it's the only place in life I'm really super calm, so I guess that's good) and when I called Em's pediatrician they told me to just go on to the ER since it was 4:45 and we live 30 minutes away and two towns over from them and the hospital.  Ahhh, life in a small town....  So when Chris got home we loaded her up and drove over.  The nurses and doctors in the ER were great and fast tracked her so we could get her cleaned up.  It took 7, yes, I said 7 stitches and a Hello Kitty bandaid to get my girl put back together and she handled it like a champ, even when Oren told Chris "Hey, text Emma and tell her I think she stinks!"  Oh, love from a 4-year-old!  Chris treated us to supper afterwards and I was very grateful!


Excuse the picture...cell phones in emergency rooms don't make for great picture quality!

  We almost cancelled the trip, but it's one Chris and I take every other year for the Florida/Vanderbilt football game.  It's usually in between our birthdays, and we always go out for a nice dinner and see a show at the Grand Ole Opry while we're in Nasvhille.  I was a little (okay, A LOT) worried about leaving Emma, but she was stitched up by then and looking forward to spending the weekend with Grandma, so we went.  We had a great time.  Sometimes it takes getting away from your everyday life for a couple of days to realize how much you love it!  We ate REALLY well and spent time just talking which was great.  Oh, and the Gators won, so that helped a little too!

  This week, my favorite (only) sister came over and took me out for pedicures and lunch for my birthday before we went back to the doctor to get Em's stitches out.  And after I finally got home after a bunch of errands, Chris had my favorite supper cooked and ready to eat!  What a great way to turn 31, huh? 

  Oh, and I didn't even mention my birthday present...Chris bought me a Silhouette!!!!  I've been trying and trying to win one in all of the giveaways going on in blogland, but he heard me mention it on the plane to my grandparents, dug out the magazine I'd been looking at when we got home and ordered it for me with no real idea of what it was!  I've been playing with it a little, but it's going to get it's first real workout tomorrow when we make Homecoming signs for the parade.  Emma and her little King get to ride in the parade together and us Moms are making signs for the car.  I'll definitely be back with posters and pictures this weekend or early next week.

 Okay, enough rambling....I'm off to clean the house since my wish for a maid or a magic wand haven't come true.  I guess you can't get everything, huh?  Otherwise, life is pretty good!  Busy, but good!