Saturday, December 31, 2011

What a year!

2011 has been an amazing ride.  I made some amazing memories both here on the blog and with my family.  Each year that comes brings new joys, challenges, smiles, cries and plenty of laughs.

I made a collage of some of the memories made from projects completed to everyday life that made me smile.  Enjoy!



Have fun tonight, but not too much fun...  ;)

Happy New Year!!

As 2012 begins, I wish each and everyone of you the best of luck, love and happy sewing.  May this year be filled with smiles, hugs, full stashes, lots of finishes, color combinations that make you smile, and challenges that make you better in life as well as quilting/sewing/knitting, etc.

These are Emma's favorite colors.  My girls has a deep love for purple...the color I stash the least!  ;)

 We spent last night ringing in the new year with good friends, a warm fire and plenty of oysters, chilli, and cheesecake!


We went to Chris' aunt and uncle's house for a very traditional Southern New Year's Day meal for lunch.  Black-eyed peas, greens, and cornbread.  It's to bring you good luck and fortune in the new year.  We'll see...  I've been pretty blessed so far in life, so I'd say it's working for me.  ;)

I'm still cementing my goals and will be back to discuss them with you.  I can't wait to hear yours too.  Let's make this a year where we get to know each other better, support each other more fully, and get a LOT accomplished!

Hope your year is starting off with a bang!  Thanks for stopping by.  :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

One Christmas Gift Given

As I said yesterday, we left a day early on our Christmas trip last week.  We had planned for weeks to leave on Thursday of last week, but the weather channel said Thursday was going to bring us rain ALL day.  And driving 16 hours in rain isn't really pleasant.  But, in the end, it wasn't the rain that changed Chris' mind, it was the little blonde that lives at our house.  She told Daddy how bad she wanted to see GiGi and Granddad (my grandparents, her Great-Grandparents) and he melted.  So with about 4 hours notice on Wednesday, I had to finish packing, cleaning house, finish my Sew Mama Sew Giveaway prize and get out the door...  I only forgot to pack a few things and nothing major.  I was pretty proud of myself!  ;)

So, here's a really bad phone picture of my giveaway prize.  My camera had already been packed and I couldn't find it among the suitcases, presents in a black garbage bag, blankets, etc...



When I contacted Lee about winning and her color choices, she said that the colors of fall were her favorite.  And I do love them too!  So it was very fun to pair some Kona Khaki with brown, orange and yellow scraps to whip up a rice warmer bag and cooling bag.

I added a twist on the freezer bag by putting in a zipper.  That way she can remove the outer bag and wash it if needed.  I picked out a bright yellow zipper at Walmart.  Now, with my deadline approaching that zipper is not perfectly installed since I just went for it with no instruction or remembering how to make a zipper pouch, but hopefully Lee won't mind. The picture doesn't do it justice, but I was very happy with how they came out. I threw placed them gently into a box with some chocolates and a Bath and Body Works set I'd picked up and winged it off to her on our way out of town.  Lee, I hope you've received it by now...if not, let me know.  ;) 

This project was a lot of fun.  It's freeing and enjoyable to have someone give you colors and you just go from there.  That's one thing I want to do more of in 2012..grab fabrics and go...the projects don't have to be full-size quilts.  I don't have to have a purpose in getting there, I just want to enjoy the process more.  Hmm...I'm going to think about this over the next day or so when making my goals for 2012.  What are your goals?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Alive

Hey everyone!  I just wanted to pop in to say I am alive and well!  ;)  I had posts planned for over the Christmas break while I was visiting family (with absolutely no internet and no cell service, really), but we ended up leaving a day early on a whim and I didn't get them posted.  And since I've been home my internet and blogger have been in a go-round with the internet winning.  I finally had to go to the old blogger interface and refresh a bunch of times to get this far!

I have so many ideas and things I want to share with you and will hopefully be back tomorrow, but before I head to bed for the night, I wanted to share our Holiday picture for the year.  We had cards printed here locally (Walmart) because I was running too late to order them from etsy.  Oh well, at least I got a family picture and cards out, right?


Look at my precious girl's toothless smile!  I was so glad to catch it.  What a precious memory.  I took this with the timer on my camera...we took about 50 and used the 2nd one.  :)  Oh well!

I hope each and everyone of you had a very Merry Christmas (or appropriate holiday here...).  We did.  Quiet and calm, like I like it.

I'll be back soon so we can all get caught up.  I've been putting in some serious time with my Google Reader to try and catch up on blog reading...seriously, some were dated back to November.  Man!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Guest Post for Jenny

This is the post I did for Jenny over at her Sew Crafty Christmas Event.  If you clicked over yesterday, this is just a repeat of that.  I just wanted to share it here for everyone who didn't and so I have it in my archives.  Happy Monday everyone!

When Jenny asked me to be a part of her Sew Crafty Christmas event I thought I'd show y'all a craft I do with my children every year at Christmas.  It's easy and there are about a million different tutorials for versions of this on the web.  But, I'm going to show you this most basic version and you can take it from there.  My kids are 5 and 7 and we've been doing this together for a few years.  Emma, my 7-year-old can pretty much do it on her own now, but Oren, my 5-year-old still needed guidance. So it is definitely a craft you and your kids can grow into and make a tradition.

We're going to make some fabric-covered Christmas trees!

 


You'll need styrofoam cones (of any size, we like to mix it up), fabric cut into small squares and rectangles (I just hack away...bigger shapes fill the tree faster, little ones give you more control), decoupage glue (we use Mod-Podge mixed with some water) and a paint brush.  I'd also recommend some newspaper so you don't glue the trees to your table, but that's up to you.  ;)
And here we go:

1.  Lay out all of your supplies and start gluing.  I usually put a little glue on the tree, stick the piece of fabric down and then dab a little glue right over the fabric.  Then you can just overlap pieces until the tree is covered!

This little tree is in progress.  See how you just glue down the pieces on top of each other?   That way you make sure to cover everywhere.

2.  Now for that pesky top...there are two ways to conquer this.  You can start here so that the folded-over edges will be covered, but it can be tricky for little fingers to keep the edges smooth, or you can end with the top piece.  I've done both.  For these trees, I glued down the top for them.  The key is to make snips along the fabric that overhangs the top flat area.  Then these snipped pieces can be folded over and arranged to lay flatter.

Here I started with the top and glued it down well before going down the sides.

3.  What I love about this craft is that it doesn't require perfection.  This is a craft you are making with your kids and (from a distance at least!) they'll look just as good if they're perfectly flat or a little bumpy.  Now, if you're a perfectionist, you can certainly make these yourself and they'll look great.  In our little "forest" there are some I've made with the kids and some I've made alone.  I choose to let the happy memories of time spent together haze out all of those bumpy-edged trees from years past.  :)











4.  But fabric is not your only medium to work with.  We've also made yarn-covered trees








and tissue-paper trees.




And really, the sky is the limit here.  I've seen these trees made with ruffled fabric, scrunched up balls of tissue paper, sequins, etc.  You could use newspaper or sheet music for a vintage look.  You could use pins with jeweled heads or beads to be ornaments on your trees.  I mean, what I'm showing you is just the first step...where you go from here can be all you!

Thanks again to Jenny for letting me come over and hang out today!  I wish each of you the very Merriest Christmas and a happy heart this holiday season.  Now get to gluing you up some Christmas trees and start your own Christmas forest filled with memories of time spent together!!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Knitting away the time

Is it just me, or does busy in your life often involve a lot of hurry up and wait.  You know what I mean, right?  Like hurry to get to an appointment only to wait 15 minutes for the doctor or dentist.  Or hurry to get a child to dance/practice only to have an hour to wait on them to finish.  Even in the Santa Shop at school in December, we'd be slam full with kids and then have 10 very quiet minutes before the next group showed up.

Well, I know I'm becoming an adult (haha), because I'm having a harder and harder time sitting down with nothing to do.  My Great-Grandma never sat still.  She always had some needlework or a crochet hook in hand, and I'm beginning to get there. Although I will admit that a good book or google reader is plenty to keep my hands full... :)

Anyway, tangent aside, I've spent some of this waiting time knitting.

I finished off my second mitten.  Don't they look nice?  Flatter me and agree here...they were more a lesson than an actual accessory that will get much use.  I mean, honestly, I should have made gloves or at least convertible mittens.  How am I supposed to check my email and smile about new comments here with a mitten on my hand???  ;)

After previewing this post I realized I put the mittens backward to how they fit on your hands.  Oh well, just pretend they're palm-up.  ;)


But I had still had some yarn in this colorway, so I just decided to knit up a scarf.  But not just any scarf, a scarf with a lacy pattern.  I've never done anything other than knitting and purling, so I wanted to try something new.



I have a ravelry account, found here.  I'm new to it and I don't have any finished projects on there yet.  I found this scarf on there offered as a free download and I loved it!  It's easy to follow and I love the look.  I mean, One-row lace.  I can handle that.  So I cast on...

This is a close-up so you can see the lacy areas.  It is very pretty in person and I am incredibly surprised at the ease  this scarf is coming together!!

As usual for me, there was some ripping out and starting over with this scarf as I lose focus often and start my own design.  :)  But, I am loving it so far.  And, it's destined to end up on the neck of a very good friend of mine sometime soon.  And that makes me keep working on it each night and during those hurry up and wait moments.

Just wanted to share...  :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Baby Quilt Delivered

**A quick side note...my post is live over at Jenny's Sew Crafty Christmas Event, so make sure and check it out when you're done here...or now, either way!  ;)  It's an easy-to-do craft you can make with your kids for decoupaged Christmas trees.**

Last weekend I had a baby shower in the town I grew up in for an old high school friend expecting her first little one. She now lives in North Carolina and I live 2 hours away from our hometown, so it was great to catch up with her and a few other old friends.  I finished up this quilt Friday night and we left Saturday morning to drive down for it.  But I consider that a success, because I had time to wash and dry it before we went as opposed to hand-stitching the binding in the car on the way there which I have done before...

So, here it is:



I mentioned before that I used the colors from the nursery set that my friend chose to make this baby quilt.  Even better, the only fabric purchased for it was the green since I needed a specific color and this green is pretty specific.  All of the browns and blues came from stash.  Yay!!  I just cut the coins at 2.5 by 5 inches and sewed together 4 groups of 20.  I chose the strips randomly and just made sure that like colors weren't too close together.

Then I printed the baby's name out on my computer in a font I liked and then traced it on to the center green piece.  Then I just chain-stitched with a brown perle cotton to give it that raised, hand-made look.

For the back, I went more modern (for me anyway) and basically just made another quilt-top.  I really love it and thought it would make a great quilt on it's own, but there you go.  And, I promise it's not so bunchy in real life, I did get a good basting job (with spray-baste, my new best friend) and it was flat before being washed and dried and snuggly.


I quilted the plain green strips with fairly-straight-line quilting and then did more concentric-square (or rectangle in this case) quilting on either side of Corbin's name.  This matched the concentric square quilting on the nursery set.  It's not perfect by any means, but I did it all in like an hour, so I wasn't really going for perfection.  ;)

Plus, I wrote a note to the Mom that this quilt is much like parenting.  It's not perfect and you'll question your abilities and your decision-making often.  BUT, it's made with love and hopefully, it'll all work out in the end.  That's how I really feel about my role as a parent.  I often question myself as a Mom.  I worry that I'm not sympathetic enough, not supportive enough.  I worry that I push too hard, or do too much for them depending on the situation.  I worry that I am not the Mom that they need, but I am reminded by Chris and my Mom that parenting doesn't come with a rulebook.  All I can do is love them and do what I think is best and pray a lot and hopefully all will be well in the end.

I love being able to share a handmade gift with friends.  That way, she'll have a reminder of our friendship with her wherever she is and she'll know that her sweet baby boy is loved by many of us just because we love his Mama.  Handmade gifts are the best, aren't they?

We've got a Winner and some ramblings

Hey everyone!  I'm still here plugging along, but not much time for crafting adventures, much less time to blog about it.  Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by for the giveaway, especially to those who took the time to become followers!  What a simple joy in life to see that number under followers go up.  It's so silly, but it makes me so happy.  I guess it's that age-old want that we all have for people to like us.  Whatever it is, thanks again, you made me smile.  :)

So...out of 123 comments, out winner was #7!  I don't know how to do the cool screen capture thing, so just go with me, okay??  #7 was Lee who said
     how nice! I love to listen to classic music to relax. thanks!



Congratulations to Lee!  I've already emailed you about it.  I was surprised how many people mentioned yoga as their de-stresser.  I used to do yoga like 3 days a week, but then summer came and I had to actually be Mom all day long and I didn't have time.  Then this fall, I just never got back into the habit because running is so much quicker and actually, easier.  But I think I will certainly be adding it back in, because you all can't be wrong and I really do miss it.

Anyway, we're busy around here getting ready for the holidays.  I've got a tutorial for Christmas trees you can make with the kiddos written for Jenny over at Seamingly Smitten for her Sew Crafty Christmas event and as soon as it goes live I'll let y'all know.





I've spent 4 of 6 days in the last 2 weeks at Santa Shop at our school helping kids buy Christmas presents for their family, and honestly, for themselves.  We decided to go out and shop for inexpensive items ourselves this year and then sell them in the shop so the kids would get nicer gifts at a lower price than the crap (honestly, there's no other word for it) that we used to get from the Santa Shop company we went through before.  I always help with this because I think it is so important to teach children to love to give.  And what is better than bringing your money in a sandwich baggie from your Mama and figuring out how you can make that $10 or $20 become gifts for everyone you love and something for you too?  I love to see their smiles when they get their bag of goodies all ready to take home and wrap knowing that they are going to make everyone they love happy on Christmas morning.  Now...whether Daddy is really going to be happy with that mini flashlight or Mama with that bottle of shower gel...I don't know, but that smile is worth it!

I've also flipped pancakes for Oren's Christmas breakfast, served Pizza during Emma's Polar Express lunch, watched two Christmas concerts, went on a field trip to the local state park, spent a day in the "big city" shopping for Christmas presents, took family pictures of us with my self-timer for our Christmas cards, visited Sea World for their Polar Express party, and had 3 physical therapy appointments for my back, which is much better already.  Whew...I was so glad for school to get out just so I can breathe!  Now we've got a few days to enjoy each other and some Christmas spirit before we pack up to head to the Great White North (otherwise known as Western Illinois...we're just hoping for some white stuff) for Christmas next week.

I'll be back tomorrow or the next day to show off the finished baby quilt from last week and some other stuff we've got going on around here.  I'm telling you, this being able to breathe without worrying about what we have to do next is a good feeling.  I can feel my creativity returning as I type.  Now to work on a scarf, quilt, secret project, and that dreaded UFO pile that is snarkily smiling at me, waiting to be emptied...  :)

p.s.  I just whipped up some of the easiest dessert ever.  You MUST head over to Vanessa's and try her 3-minute, 3-ingredient mint fudge because you won't be sorry.  Mine is cooling on the counter...hurry, fudge and cool already so I can cut into you!!  ;)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Giveaway Day!!

Yay!  Giveaway Day is here again!  And I'm so excited to be a part of it again.  If you don't know, the web site Sew Mama Sew, which was one of the very first sewing/quilting blogs I found on the internet (and a big reason I began blogging) hosts a semi-annual giveaway day where bloggers worldwide can link up and give something away.  You can choose whatever you want to give away and set up all the rules around it.  It's awesome!  I've won a few things in the past, but I think it's even more fun to pick something to give away and see who'd like to get it.



 So...as in the past, I thought long and hard about what to give away and finally inspiration struck close to home.  Recently, my back has been hurting a lot to the point I felt like I was walking around like a little old lady (I'm 32, nowhere near old, right...right????).  I am a runner, albeit a self-made one and a slow one to boot, but I wondered if all of my running had hurt my back.  I saw the doctor and he recommended physical therapy for it.  I laughed to myself that an otherwise healthy "athlete" would need to go to physical therapy, but at the same time, I was excited to go and learn any tips, tricks and advice to both heal my back and improve my running.  And one of the tips they gave me...get a good heating pad.

And to get to the point, I decided to whip myself up a Rice Warmer Bag and one for one of you!  I've made a few of these as gifts and they're always well received.  I actually use a tutorial from SMS, so it's really full-circle that I use this great tutorial from their site as my giveaway prize.

This is the bag from the tutorial

These little bags are awesome and really helpful for those nagging aches and pains or for cold feet on a winter's night.  I made my bag in shades of blues and brown and used an mix of German Chamomile and Sweet Orange Essential Oils to give my bag an uplifting and soothing smell, but the winner of this giveaway will get to choose their colors and essential oil from my stash to make it completely perfect and personalized.



And what about those booboos or the aches that come right after a run or a long day on your feet?  I'm throwing in a square rice bag that you can throw in the freezer and use cool instead.  It's the same concept, but that way you'll have one for heating and one for cooling off.  I usually scent this one with peppermint for additional cooling, but again, the winner and I can discuss the details...  And I'll throw in a couple of other relaxing goodies which may or may not include chocolate and bath goodies...  Because honestly, who doesn't want to be pampered?

"BooBoo Bag" or Cold Therapy Bag from tutorial

And this is mine!!

What do you have to do to be entered to win this great wellness package that will be delivered to your door?  Just leave me a comment answering this question:  What is your favorite way to de-stress?  I mean, after all, this giveaway is all about relaxation, so share your best secret for doing so with us.   I like easy giveaways 'round here, so no hoop-jumping, just comment and then you're free to enter all of those other great giveaways too!

The giveaway will be open until Friday, December 16 at 8 p.m. EST and after that I'll randomly choose a winner and contact you via email.  Please make sure you aren't a no-reply blogger so I'll have an email to contact you with.  If you're not sure or you want to play it safe, make sure to include your email address in your comment.  If I can't contact the winner, I will announce it here and wait for a few days to hear back before choosing a new winner.



Giveaway Details:  Winner will receive one Rice Warmer Bag (finished size approximately 6 x 13 inches) in your choice of colors and essential oil scent from my stash, one Rice Cold Therapy Bag (finished size approximately 6 x 8 inches) in your choice of colors and scent as well, and a few other goodies of my choice to help you fully relax.  Just leave a comment here with your favorite way to de-stress and make sure I have a way to contact you!

Have fun with the giveaways this week!!  Click here to check out all of the different categories!  Mine is under Gifts for the Home.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baby Love

I have a good friend from high school that is expecting her first little one soon and I'm attending her baby shower this weekend.  So....I started a quilt for her three days ago.  Yep...that's right, I'm a procrastinator.  But I'm okay with it, because I'm apparently used to it by now.

Since I got started so late, I went for a simple coin quilt design, similar to the one I did for another friend's baby last year.  The bedding is from Babies R Us and looks like this:
So I picked up the blues, browns and the light green and came up with this:



After stacking the coins, I hand-embroidered the baby's name down the middle of the quilt.  I think it gives it that personal feel of an heirloom blanket, but is fun enough that she can use it every day and not worry about it getting messed up.

I'm piecing a back now from the leftover scraps and some Kona Khaki I have and then I'm going to do some simple straight-line quilting through the green areas.  I'm debating what to do in the middle section.  I'm thinking of straight-line quilting to a few inches from the name and then turning and going across the green and then back up the other side.  That way the middle section would mimic the concentric squares on the nursery quilt...what do you think??

Okay, back to the grind.  I'll be back soon, I promise!  :)



Friday, December 2, 2011

do. Good Stitches--Share our love

How can it already be December?  I don't know, but I do know that December is my month to host the Empower Group of do. Good Stitches and assign the block and colors for our group.  I thought about all of the cool blocks out there that I've bookmarked and pinned to try, but then I thought about what this group means to me.  The whole point of this group is to share our love--our love of quilting and our love of people with others.  So...what better way to show our love than with hearts.  Plus...the blocks are due to me by the end of the month, so after adding in time to get them all and quilt it, I'll be sending this quilt off just in time for Valentine's Day.

But, I wanted this quilt to really be from the 10 of us in the Empower Group.  So, here's what I told them:

I asked that each of us make two 12.5-inch blocks where a heart (or hearts) is the main focus.  You can paper-piece, applique, use patchwork, etc.  I want these hearts to be from the individual making them, so each person should make them in her favorite style.  The block can have one big heart or multiple hearts.  

As far as color goes, I thought we could focus on reds, whites and pinks.  BUT...as these hearts are personal, I asked that each of us add in one color.  Our favorite color, the color that speaks to each girl's  heart (unless it's red or pink and then a second favorite color would be great!!).  That way, the block design and special pop of color really represents each of us that make up the Empower Group.

Here are some examples of heart blocks that I found while scouring the internet:

Paper-Pieced hearts:

Rays Heart
source

Source: quiltingworks.com via Kelli on Pinterest


 Patchwork:

Source: modabakeshop.com via Juliana on Pinterest


Source: ebay.com via Suzenne on Pinterest


Applique:

Source: etsy.com via Marnie on Pinterest



Source: flickr.com via Gina on Pinterest



Untraditional:

Source: modabakeshop.com via Suzi on Pinterest



But there are PLENTY of more examples out there if none of these speak to you.  I realized I wasn't alone in my love of hearts.  Just search heart quilt on either flickr or pinterest and you'll have more inspiration than you know what to do with.  I can't wait to see what my wonderful and creative group comes up with.  I am very interested to see where they go with this idea and I HOPE that they like it.