17 December 2011

Christmas projects in action

Well, I didn't get 12 Christmas projects done this year but I am happy with what I did finish. Here they are in action!

 project ONE!

the garland over the patio door

 Making a wreath wasn't on my original list of things to do, but I saw it online here and really liked it. It's kind of small on my door when looking at the whole thing but I still like it. Adam actually wound all the yarn, and I made the roses out of felt like this.

Baby girl TA in her jumper that matches the playdresses that her sisters have. RG and JE modeling their dresses here.

This is the only picture I have of SM in her dress, with Mary Lane Haskill, an up and coming Broadway singer who performed in a show locally that I sang in a backup choir for.

The Christmas cards made with my tree skirt scraps are all tucked into envelopes and I was just waiting on my photo order from Walmart (which was LATE. Dumb store.) They can finally go in the mail on Monday.

I've been going a little crazy with the present-making, and yeah, I'm getting a little impatient to post pictures of them so I can show off and say, "LOOK WHAT I DID!!!!"

06 December 2011

Christmas Picture and Crafts

I'm terrible at taking photos AS I do a project, but this one is the culmination of several. I had a friend embroider the second stocking from the left (Maddie's) ast year, and I think I'm going to do green, gold, and red and get one embroidered for each of us now that I think the family is "complete". My goal is to get a quasi-unified look on all the stockings. Also, there are two homemade ornaments from this year on the tree (which, unfortunately, you can't see really well). Directions for them are below. You're also looking at the entire extent of the Christmas decor in the house...we didn't want to go overboard with small kids!

Ornament project #1:

You'll need a lid from a baby food jar, an ink pad, some colored construction paper, glue, and ribbon. Get a thumbprint of your child (baby's first Christmas is fun, but any age will work) on the paper. Around the thumbprint, write the child's name and the year. Cut a circle from the paper the same size as the inside of the baby food jar around the thumbprint and writing, then glue it inside the lid. Wrap ribbon around the edge of the jar, secure with a little glue, and hang on the tree. I have one of these from when I was a baby, and I thought it was really fun to make them with my kids too.

 Ornament project #2:

 You'll need pasta with holes (penne, macaroni, wagon wheels, etc.), food coloring, yarn, tape, and an oven. Put DRY pasta into a bowl with a few drops of food coloring; for about 1/5 of a box, I used about 8-10 drops. Stir until the pasta is coated. Repeat for all the colors you want to do. Then put the pasta on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 until the food coloring is set, about 10 minutes. After it cools, wrap tape around one end of a piece of yarn and let your kids string the pasta onto it for garland and/or necklaces (we ended up with both!). Unfortunately, like a popcorn string, trying to make a big enough garland to wrap all the way around the tree wasn't a reality with short attention spans. We made four small garlands and just put them in the FRONT of the tree! As far as the Shutterfly link, this is my favorite photo ordering site, because they ALWAYS have coupons (part of being a domestic goddess is saving $$$!) and ALWAYS give cash back into your Upromise account. I definitely recommend checking it out if you haven't done Christmas cards yet.

04 December 2011

Spinach Artichoke dip that will change your life!

OK - so I am willing to admit that ... maybe... just maybe the "change your life" part of this post may be influenced by this pregnancy. I am not ashamed to admit that I have been making this weekly for almost two months now. But my hormonal food issues aside this is REALLY GOOD, and super easy! I actually haven't ever baked it - I usually just make it cold and then heat up a small portion at at time - or for large gatherings I have put it in a crock pot to stay warm for the entire party. And yes, I am eating some right now as I type this :)

01 December 2011

as backwards as it gets

Adam asked me to make him a sleeping bag liner for one of his presents, so I ordered some fabric for it. I haven't told him what I got - just that he won't be embarrassed to have it when he camps with the Scouts. Yesterday, my fabric shipment arrived (with fabric for a couple of other projects as well). Well. The fabric I need for Adam's project was not in the box. The sticker that said "(print) blue fleece" was on a piece of fabric that was NOT fleece. And it was NOT blue. It was regular cotton in a nice shade of purpley-pink. 2 yards of it.

Adam is so anti-pink right now that ... well, I still don't even know how to describe this except to just say what it was. I was on the phone to fabric.com within 5 minutes of opening the box to get the BLUE FLEECE sent. Fortunately, Adam's project can move to last in line because it can be done the quickest.

(And I get to keep the 2 yards of pink cotton - it will be cute for spring skirts or dresses for the girls. But we'll talk about that later. I have all the Christmas presents to finish before I start on something new.) 

25 November 2011

it's working!

A Washington Post article you might be interested in:

The new domesticity: fun, empowering, or a step back for American women?

I found it interesting since I did exactly what this article talks about - gave up a career in government and politics to stay home with my kids. Now I'm homeschooling, I'm learning to sew and knit, Adam and I started canning this past summer, we grew our first container garden this past spring and it's still producing tomatoes and various herbs, we bake all of our own bread, we have the stuff to make our own laundry detergent (just need to actually do it - haven't had time) ... wow. I hadn't put all that in a list in this context before. Operation Domestic Goddess - while not finished by any means - is well underway and so far pretty successful. Yay!

Actually, I'm kind of stunned.

11 November 2011

still nesting?

The baby is a month old today so I'm not sure if this is some sort of postpartum nesting thing (does that even happen?) or the weather changing or what. But I want to clean clean clean. I want to sew. And I really want to bake something warm and sweet and yummy. Adam is on his way to the grocery store in a few minutes and I'm cleaning the fridge while he's gone. Then we'll see what happens with the rest of the weekend.

10 November 2011

trick or treat bags

Sorry I'm late getting these up as an idea. Maybe for next year? Anyway ...

I've been stockpiling felt and a friend was commenting in early October about wanting a particular shade of green to make Frankenstein face trick-or-treat bags for her little boys. I had the right shade so I gave her what I had and some black ... and she gave me the idea. So I sat down with my girls and let them choose what color they wanted for the background of their bags, and gave them options for the shapes on the bags. I did all of this free-hand.

1. I had 2 9x12 sheets of felt (I think that's the size - whatever you get in the little sheets at craft stores) to be the bag. I cut about 1 1/2 inches off one end of each to be the handles.

2. Before I put the bag together, I cut out and sewed on the character shape things. Not sure what to call them. I sewed all the way around the face cut-outs on the jack-o-lanterns. At first I didn't but it looked funny so I went back and fixed it. The stitching looks awful. Do not examine these bags too closely.

3. I sewed the handle on each side of the bag.

4. I put the bag wrong-side out to sew all way around the edge, leaving the top open of course, and then flipped it right-side out.

They're fairly small bags but I have small children (the oldest is 5) and really - how much candy does one kid need anyway. They filled the bags twice - once at a church party, and once going around our neighborhood complex.

I'm really getting into this sewing thing. I like the idea of creating stuff, and I like the little rush I get when I finish something because I can say, "I made that!" Wait until I can get some of my Christmas gift projects up here. I'm making most things this year and that makes me a little giddy. (And a little stressed because hello - Christmas is in less than 2 months.) I just came up with some ideas so they're not started yet, and other things are mid-stream.

24 September 2011

in the groove

I don't know if I'm starting to worry Adam a little bit or what ... but I just came home from a quick run to Walmart with t-shirts and fabric to make 2 more t-shirt/skirt playdresses. This is new for me. Really new.

The two shirts are pink (one dark, one light) and the two skirts are a really soft corduroy in two different shades of blue with flowers all over them. I'm totally in love with this fabric, not to mention that I'm stunned our Walmart is actually carrying fabric again (it was just brought back after about 3 years of nothing) and it's even really cute! Yay!

I have SM's Christmas dress done except for running it through my friend's Serger and hemming it. I've been itchy to do something else but needed more bobbin spools for my sewing machine. After going to both little fabric shops in town and Walmart 2 or 3 times, I finally found the ones I need today so I can get going on switching between projects because I don't have to rethread my one bobbin spool with a new color every time. I have the squares cut and pinned for the Christmas present doll blankets - I can finally start sewing them all together, and now I also have the two extra dresses to make. Those aren't waiting for Christmas - they're short sleeves so the girls can wear them right away. They need new playdresses anyway - they're outgrowing what they already have. RG gets SM's hand-me-downs but SM needs new dresses because she has now outgrown all the hand-me-downs we got from friends.

20 September 2011

Height Chart & Chalk Board Menu

Pinterest (love that site!) reminded me of a couple of craft projects that I needed to do, so we got the supplies on Saturday at Home Depot

First up: Oliver's Height Chart

We made these for the other kids years ago
It is one of my favorite things we made for the kids
I wanted a physical way to record their height
but didn't want to use a door frame, because when we moved, we would not be able to take that with us
So we made these charts out of fence board, spray paint, a measuring tape hot glued down the middle
I like the way I did the names on the other kid's better
I can always change it later (nothing a little paint won't fix!)
Then you record their heights on one side and pictures of them at that age on the other
We measure the older kids every 6 months
It is fun to see how much they've grown!

Project #2 Chalkboard Menu

Ever since the kids started school, as soon as they get home they ask
"what's for dinner"
and then they ask that again every two minutes or so
either because
they never listen to my answers
or they forget just 2 minutes later :P

So I made a menu board for the week
That way they can quit asking
It also helps me with planning!

Fence board, primer, sanding, spray chalk board paint
let dry and done

I was so happy when they got home from school yesterday
"What's for dinner?"
I pointed to the board and they didn't ask again
YAY for things doing what they are supposed to do
Now, what question are they constantly going to ask now that I have solved that one??

18 September 2011

Christmas project 5

This project is half done ... or it's 2 projects with 2 more to go. I'm making winter/Christmas playdresses for my 4 girls. I got the idea last year from someone I went to church with - she bought a cheapo t-shirt from Walmart for her daughter and attached fabric to the bottom for a skirt - voila! A playdress!

I got the turtlenecks on clearance from the boys' section for 2 bucks apiece last January, and made sure I got them in the sizes I'd need now. They actually might last until next year as well, which would be awesome. The two big girls have red tops and the two baby girls have white, because that's what they had in the correct sizes. The new baby will have a different style - I'm not going to attach her skirt to a onesie because new babies go through onesies so fast. She may get a jumper - I'll wait and see after she's born.

I ordered the green fabric from fabric.com, and had to order some more because I didn't know if it would go with the red or not. Obviously, it worked. I'm waiting for round 2 of my fabric order. Basically, I cut the fabric into a rectangle measured to fit onto the shirt, and then sewed it with one seam which I attached at the side. A friend showed me how to do a gathering stitch, which I didn't know the first thing about but I do now! She also let me use her serger, which I very much appreciated. I hemmed the dresses at mid-calf and did a wide hem so they're pretty long, and the length can be altered next fall so they could still fit next year. White tights, black shoes, and we're in business.

The idea of making the top of a dress (armholes and sleeves) is still rather intimidating and there are a couple of other things about skirts that I need to figure out (how to put in an elastic waistband). But the t-shirt/skirt dress - I'm good! When the rest of my fabric gets here, we'll see if I manage to do the other two by myself!

The photographic evidence that I actually made clothing that my children can wear:

Christmas project 4

Or maybe this is project 1 for round 2. I'll just keep going with the current count for now. Here are two sections of my felt garland - I have no idea how long it is. I just used the entire spool of ribbon and kept laying shapes on it until I ran out. I used Christmas cookie cutters as my stencils onto the felt, sewed everything straight onto the red ribbon, and decorated with glitter glue. It could go around the Christmas tree, across the mantel, or over a door. I haven't decided where I'm going to put it yet when we decorate for the holidays.

12 September 2011

Pumpkin Mousse and Gingerbread Pie

What started as a delicious cookies and dip combination turned into an amazing pie.  Lots of compliments and requests, so here it is. 

GINGERBREAD (two pie crusts and then some)
-Cream together 3/4 cup butter and 7/8 cup brown sugar.
-Stir in 1 tsp lemon zest, 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, and 1/2 cup molasses.
-Gradually beat in 2 eggs.
-Sift together 3 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp ginger, 2 tsp allspice, and stir into everything else.
-Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to firm it up before rolling it out. For cookies: cut out shapes, bake at 375 for 10 minutes on a greased cookie sheet. For pie: roll out and place in a greased pie plate, and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

PUMPKIN MOUSSE (enough for two pies)
-In a saucepan, stir together: 1 15 oz can of pumpkin (1/2 of one of those large cans), 1 cup heavy cream, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg. (I accidentally put it 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice, plus some ginger, and it worked great.)
-Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently for five minutes.
-Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 tsp vanilla.
-Chill for at least one hour.
-Whip 2 cups chilled heavy cream into stiff peaks. Gently stir in half the pumpkin mixture until fully incorporated before folding in the remaining mixture. Chill.
-For pie: pour into the baked pie shell and refrigerate overnight (to stiffen up the mousse). If in a hurry, put it in the freezer for 45 minutes.

06 September 2011

Minny's Chocolate Pie

After seeing the movie The Help a few weeks ago, I was craving a chocolate pie. I know, I know...the chocolate pie is supposed to gross you out, but maybe it's the pregnancy thing. Anything chocolate -- especially fudgy-chocolate -- sounds divine. I went in search of a chocolate pie recipe, and after some searching, I found the gem below. It's the actual recipe used by the food stylist from the movie. I've made it twice now, and it's quick, easy, and tasty. I have yet to go at the whole thing with a fork, but I do have eight more weeks of pregnancy left, and I'm not saying no to anything!

1 1/2 C sugar
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 C butter, melted
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 tsp salt
1 5 oz. can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 refrigerated pie crust (or...I got REALLY bold and made my own!)

1. Place pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate and prick the bottom and sides with a fork.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Mix sugar, cocoa, and butter in amixing bowl.
4. Add eggs and beat for three minutes.
5. Add salt, milk, and vanilla.
6. Pour filling into pie shell and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and middle is partly set.
7. Cool completely, then refrigerate. Serve with whipped cream.

A few notes:

  • I had the best success making the entire thing with the whisk attachment on my Kitchenaid. It seemed to hit the perfect consistency. If I did it by hand, I got a lot of bubbles that kept the pie from being as pretty as it could be.

  • Also, let the pie cool COMPLETELY before trying to put Saran wrap over the top; otherwise, the top layer will stick to the wrap. If the pie is cool first, it will peel off easily -- no sticking!

02 September 2011

back to work

Yeah, so, um ... my 12 Months of Christmas have not exactly gone according to plan. I'm chalking it up to the fact that I've spent a majority of this calendar year pregnant, along with starting to homeschool our older 2 girls.

Today, I finally just had enough and sat down and sewed my April project - a felt garland. I've had all the little shapes cut out for months, and bought the ribbon and thread earlier this summer. Last night I started pinning it and today I finished it. No pictures quite yet because now comes the embellishment with fabric paint and glitter, but that can't be done until after the kiddos go to bed. My girls MUST TOUCH EVERYTHING. Drives me nuts. But really, this puts me in a crafting mood. I actually want to work on more stuff. Part of nesting, since the baby is due in about 3 more weeks? Probably. But still. I'll take advantage of the motivation while I've got it - lightning strikes so rarely around here.

Anyway, so I missed 5 months of Christmas projects - April to August. I'm happy with the 3 projects I did at the beginning of the year, but I'm going to start over on the 12 Months thing. It's one of my bucket list things to do so it needs to be done right.

01 July 2011

my first order!

I just got my first order from fabric.com delivered - so excited! Yes. Yes, it's true. I was happy to buy fabric. Go figure. I got flannel to make my traditional swaddling blanket for the new baby ... no pink! The print is flowers so it's definitely girly, but the colors are yellow, orange and multiple shades of blue and green on a white background. Adam and I are so over pink - there's tons of it in our house. Clothes, toys, bedding, the bed itself ... Time to introduce some complementary but different colors into the scheme.

I also ordered fleece to make a blanket for a new niece coming in November - when I made the order, we didn't know if it was a girl or boy yet, so I got fleece for both. We found out yesterday it's a girl. I'm stocked up for when another nephew joins the family! I make fleece blankets with the knotted edges for all of our nieces and nephews - I did a full run of them for everyone the year after we were married (we had 6 total from both sides of the family then), and since then, I make them as the babies are born. Anyway, I'll take pictures of the blankets when they're done.

And I got some Christmas fabric for one of my projects - making playdresses for the girls. I got the fabric for just one dress which will have a white top. I didn't get fabric for the red or green tops yet - that's harder to order online because the red/green has to match. But this fabric does have some red in it that may match with the red tops - I haven't checked it yet. If it goes well, I'll order more if needed. The dress idea is to attach fabric for a skirt to a regular shirt. Last January, I went to Carters and got turtlenecks on clearance (from the boys section, since the girls section had nothing I could use) for just 2 bucks apiece in red, green, and white. Based on the shirts I got, SM and RG will each get a red and a green top, and JE will get only a white but she'll have plenty of things to grow into. I just need to figure out something to do for the new baby - maybe a jumper to match JE's skirt with a white onesie underneath.

22 May 2011

advance planning

It's apparently a whole year of Christmas stuff ... this morning, I randomly told Adam that I already have an idea for Christmas presents for our girls. I want to make little blankets for their dolls with fleece left from making blankets for some of my nieces and nephews (I make a fleece blanket every time there's a new baby in our extended family). And if the dolls have blankets ... maybe they'll need a crib. Or two. Or a miniature bunkbed ... that we could also paint pink! Heh. I think Adam would kill me if I even suggested that, even though we do have more pink paint. We're about pinked out here and need some other colors in the mix, not just this solid wall of PINK every time you walk into their bedroom.

Anyway, so that's something new on Adam's furniture-craftsman list, when he finishes fixing the dining room chairs and building me another bookcase - doll furniture. I know it's early to be thinking about Christmas presents, but when you're planning to make them and you're as inexperienced as we are, you need to start sooner rather than later.

As for my monthly Christmas projects - I'm behind because I gave Kera's sewing machine back to her. I was given a sewing machine to keep by another friend but she hasn't come over yet to show me how to use it (it did not come with a user's manual). I have my April project cut out - just waiting on the sewing and then I'll need to take some time to add the details. Fun with glitter glue! I think the May project can be done all by hand - no machine sewing involved so maybe that one will get finished first. And I have June's project mapped out. It's my first Advent calendar. I want to do two and they are totally different, but I don't know how the 2nd one will work out. It took quite a bit of thinking to figure out the first one but I think it will be cool. Hopefully by the end of next month, I'll be caught up and able to start fresh for July.

28 April 2011

Ice Cream in the middle of the night!

I don't know about you - but I HATE going grocery shopping! I stall it as long as I possibly can - which usually means that after two weeks there is not much left to snack on at 10:30 at night! Until we discovered this! [Truth be told I have gained an undisclosed amount of weight in the last few months... this recipe is probably why :) it feels like, "this isn't bad for me, it's just sugar" apparently I am unable to admit that sugar calories are still calories... but anyway - here is the recipe (I am using the term recipe very loosely here, there are no actual measurements, I ususally make it using cereal spoon)

1 scoop powdered milk
2 scoops hot cocoa powder
1/2 scoop sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 a ice cube tray

Run it through the blender until all the ice is gone.

It ends up tasting like a frosty from Wendy's - kind of like cheap soft serve ice cream. When you are home, late at night, and don't want to go to the store - cheap ice cream is a good deal better then no ice cream at all :)

20 April 2011

drop scones

I found a treasure a couple of weeks ago! Drop scones. I found them in The Joy Of Cooking. I love that book!

Dried Fruit and Buttermilk Drop Scones

Moist, light scones with a golden crusty exterior. Buttermilk produces a pleasantly tangy flavor that complements any dried fruit.

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet. Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl:

2 cups all-purpose flour, or 2 1/2 cups if using oil instead of butter
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Whisk together then add all at once:

1 large egg
1 cup low-fat buttermilk* 3 1/2 tablespoons warm melted unsalted butter or 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup raisins, or dried currants, blueberries, cherries, or cranberries, or chopped dried apricots or pears

Mix with a rubber spatula, wooden spoon, or fork just until the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter will be quite sticky. Use a soup spoon or ice cream scoop to drop the batter in mounds 2 1.2 inches in diameter at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with:

Cinnamon and sugar

Bake until the tops are golden brown, 12 o 15 minutes. Let cool on a rack or serve warm.

I don't usually have buttermilk on hand either, so what I do is put 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in the bottom of a liquid measuring cup, and then put enough milk in to make a complete cup. Let it sit for 1 minute. And then you have a substitute for buttermilk.

I made this recipe three times the week I found this recipe(without the dried fruit). The kids love them, and so do I! Granted, they are a bit lighter than your classic scone. More like a nice sweet drop biscuit. But hey, I was wanting to find a recipe like that anyway! :)

16 April 2011

is it just me?

I need to rant for a second here ... and since I'm the boss of this blog, I will do it if I feel like it.

Is it just me, or do a number of the home design blogs out there come across as being totally fake? The "inspiration" collections of such and such designer or whatever. These rooms cannot possibly be lived in, or even had a human being set foot in them. The whites are way too pristine, the fabric is much too straight, there's not a speck of dust or clutter anywhere in the picture, and what idiot thought of open shelving in a kitchen? Doesn't everything on them get coated with ... whatever that crud is that's all over my cupboard doors and ceiling near the stove that I can't get off? If people actually do live in these rooms (as opposed to them being mock-ups for a catalog or magazine), there certainly aren't any children.

Also - kitchens or bedrooms that look like they're the size of my entire house - right.

Where does one find the amazing fabrics featured, for furniture upholstery or drapes or just a throw pillow? Maybe I'm just in a non-cool-fabric part of the country (which would not surprise me), but I can't find anything except really boring shades of brick red or brown or navy, whether I'm walking through a furniture store, a craft/fabric store, or just the housewares section of Target. Memo to the local stores: it's SUMMER. Or at least spring. Lose the navy and brown. I love the seaglass color combination - light blues and greens - but have never actually seen it anywhere except these unrealistic house blogs. I would redo my bedroom in about 2 seconds if I could find those colors of bedding, and not with flowers all over it. It's my husband's room too. No flowers except real ones in a vase.

And "tablescapes" ... 20 dishes/flatware per place setting, fancy linens, and so many centerpieces there's nowhere to put the food on the table. Really? Again - no children. There can't be. There's no way my kids would let anything like that sit for more than 5 seconds without having to touch, rearrange, and destroy (or at least damage) in some way.

So what gives? Is it realistic to have a nice house, even with destructo-children? I'd like to think so. Am I just that incompetent when it comes to actually decorating a home? (I'll go with a Yes on that.) I need to do something with my house because it's driving me nuts, but I don't even know where to start. All this "internet inspiration" does is make me think that a nice house is completely out of reach because it's not even real. Argh.

13 April 2011

Christmas project 3

We were out of town for the first 2 weeks of March, then I had really bad allergies when we got back, then my sister was here for a week ... so my March Christmas project had to be a quick and easy one.

A couple of years ago, a friend gave our family the gift of a Christmas ABC book - it was blank pages in a 3-ring binder and plastic sleeves, with a Christmas poem at the bottom and we were supposed to add old Christmas cards to "illustrate" it. I'd just slid old cards into the sleeves but had not trimmed or glued them down yet. So that was my March project - to get the ABC book caught up.

We received blank pages like this. Some pages are still blank because I don't have cards with those pictures on them. I'll give it another year or two, and then maybe we'll fill these in with drawings from the kids.

I added our old Christmas cards like this. We have a couple of pages with personal Christmas photos on them (rather than cards), like my brother's family on U is for Uncles and Aunts.

Sometimes we had enough for a 2-page spread. One of my sisters has her Christmas "trademark" of sending cards with penguins.

If you would like to make your own book, here's the whole poem (author unknown).

A is for angels with white robes so bright. Their carols were heard on that first Christmas night.
B is for baby, the Christ child so dear. We celebrate Christmas, his birthday, each year.
C is for candles that flicker and shine, and send a warm welcome to your friends and mine.
D is for doorways whose garlands of green make Christmas merry as far as they're seen.
E is for elves who cheerfully make fun Christmas toys for Santa to take.
F is for fun the whole season through. With family and friends, there's so much to do!
G is for greetings, a merry hello, with a heart full of love for the people we know.
H is for holly with berries so red to make into wreaths that hang overhead.
I is for ice on the snow-covered hills, where sledding is fun, along with the spills!
J is for jingle bells merrily ringing, telling the world of the joy they are bringing.
K is for Kris Kringle, old Santa himself. Have you ever seen a jollier elf?
L is for lantern. I'm sure that its light helped Joseph and Mary that first Christmas night.
M is for Mary, her heart full of love for her baby son Jesus who came from above.
N is for Noel - the angels did sing to herald the birth of Jesus, our King.
O is for ornaments, shiny and bright. With lights on the tree, they sparkle at night.
P is for packages under the tree. They're filled with surprises for you and for me!
Q is for Christmas quilts, bright green and red. Will Grandmother make one to go on your bed?
R is for reindeer who stomp overhead. But you do not hear them, asleep in your bed.
S is for shepherds who first saw the star over Bethlehem's manger, and followed it far.
T is for trees trimmed with lights and with toys, surrounded by presents for good girls and boys.
U is for Uncles and Aunts that we greet at Christmas time parties, a holiday treat!
V is for voices that rang through the air announcing the birth of the Christ-child so fair.
W is for Wisemen who brought gifts so rare and fell down to worship the Christ child there.
X is for Xmas, a short spelling for Christmas. But I like to spell it this way: Merry Christmas!
Y is for yule log, whose bright sparks fly high and give a warm welcome to friends passing by.
Zzzzzz is for snores of dear Santa asleep. For on Christmas morning, his work is complete!

Christmas project 2

I may not have been posting anywhere for the past few weeks, but I have been working!

February's project was my Christmas cards - I got the idea to sew fabric onto the cardstock on MADE here. I used the scraps from the tree skirt, took some time to slice and dice the little squares from the red for some of them, and just laid the fabric criss-crossed on some of the others. Sewed, then trimmed all the edges.

If you look closely enough (or just look at them at all), you can tell that these are NOT professionally made, or made by anyone with any sewing experience. The fabric got bunched up or folded over wrong somehow on every single one, and my lines are most certainly not straight and even. But actually, that makes me like them even more. These are Christmas cards with personality!

I will admit, though, that I will most likely never do this project again. It was fun and I can say, "I made that!" But for the hours it took and I got only 25 cards ... I'll stick with scrapbook paper and stickers if/when I make cards again in the future. Much faster, they look a lot better, and my kids can participate and have fun with me.

all 25 cards. Where there is white space on the card, that is also fabric.

29 March 2011


11 February 2011

Christmas project 1

I've had fabric to make a Christmas tree skirt for literally years. I don't even remember how long anymore. I used to have a pattern for it - I think I gave it to someone thinking I'd never actually get around to making the tree skirt.

But here I am with my 12 months of Christmas and project 1 is - oh yes - the tree skirt! My friend Kera helped me figure out how to cut the pieces without a pattern, let me use her serger, loaned me her regular sewing machine, and showed me how to use bias tape for edging. I obviously didn't finish it in January but here it is! Done!And I did it myself! I had coaching, but no one did any of the work for me.

I did all the cutting at Kera's house and started sewing. Then I brought her machine home to keep working on it here. Adam was rather suspicious that the project would just sit there taking up space until I just returned the machine, but I proved him wrong! HA! One day, he came home from work and I said now that he was there to keep the baby out from under the table (she's crawling now), I could finish the initial sewing. I sat down and got to work. Adam went and got the camera. Punk. I went back to Kera's to use the serger.

For the edging, I got bias tape. I found a teeny little fabric shop here in town (there is one at all! Hooray!) with two cute little grandmas who held the baby and talked to my other 2 girls, or rather listened to SM talk nonstop. I had the tree skirt with me and we measured it and they showed me how to put on the bias tape with sewing on the back, and then flipping it over and sewing it again on the front. Yesterday afternoon, I was kind of restless so I decided I'd do the straight sides that are short. It went pretty quick, so I did the inside circle. By then I was on a roll, so I just kept going until ... with 2 panels left on the final run, I ran out of bobbin thread. AAAAHHHH! So I loaded up the bobbin and got the whole machine rethreaded, and finished.

I'm still a little stunned that I did it.

I'm totally stoked for my next two projects - ideas and instructions here and here. The links are not specifically for Christmas projects, but they will be when I do them! Kera is not getting her sewing machine back any time soon.

10 February 2011

Eggplant burgers

These might sound weird, but they are so YUMMY and EASY! I actually get cravings for them :) There is no real recipe for them, just add and adjust to your liking :)

this makes about 6 burgers:

1 eggplant (large)
Green onion
Garlic (if you like)

Peel and cube up the eggplant. Saute the Eggplant with a little olive oil until soft. Then place the eggplant, green onion, garlic (you could saute the eggplant with the garlic too), cheese, and breadcrumbs into the food processor. Add breadcrumbs until you get the right consistency to make them into burgers - depends on the size of your eggplant :) I really don't measure anything, just until it is not too sticky and can easily be made into burgers - just add until it looks/feels right.

Place the burgers in a pan with a bit of olive oil and cook until you get a nice crust on the burger. You could coat the burgers in some cornmeal if you would like a little more crunch/breading/crust on the outside of the burger.

Top with your favorite burger toppings!

09 February 2011

mini coat racks

Adam was getting really tired of the girls' coats always being on the floor by the front door - we had just 4 hooks on our coat rack and were trying to pile more than 10 coats and sweaters up there (2 or more for each of us), plus scarves and a couple of bags. Not working. So we got some scrap wood from the bunkbed - a 1x6 about 12 inches long, one for each of the girls.

I had paint samples from Home Depot for the bunkbed - the Glidden brand paint has little bottles of already-mixed colors and when you take the lid off, there's a little brush attached to the bottom of the lid. PERFECT for small projects like this! I didn't use primer so I put 3 coats on instead of 2. SM and RG were both very excited to paint their own coat racks - it took just a few minutes one afternoon, sitting on the front porch. I sanded them, and the girls painted the first coat. SM decided they should all be decorated with hearts, so I mixed things up a little with the patterns. I used a tiny crafting brush for the hearts. I got the hooks at Walmart, and voila! Coat racks for the girls!

I helped RG get all the strokes in the same direction.

But SM had to do it BY HERSELF!!

Signature colors: SM - pink, JE - yellow, RG - purple. The paint colors: sexy pink, freshcut honeydew, violet shimmer, and the hearts in pink lemonade.

the coat cubby under the stairs

25 January 2011

big plans

Someone has been holding out on me. Why did I not know about this site before?

Ana-White that diy furniture blog

Oh. My. Heavens. I spent the whole afternoon today going through this website. I went through every page of her "beginner level" tags and bookmarked 10 different projects, like this and this and this for my kiddos. I'm turning into a babbling idiot with just saying over and over, "Look! How CUTE is that! A-a-a-and LOOK! AHHH!" And holy crap, I have multiple variations on a theme with THIS. I want. And because Adam wants to turn woodcrafter as his hobby because being a government lawyer is boring, I can HAVE! YEEEEAH!

I haven't even started looking at the headboards for queen-size beds, which is one of the things Adam and I want for ourselves, or a bench for the dining room table, or a number of other pieces of furniture that would be nice to acquire. We're making a list. Boy howdy, are we EVER making a list!

11 January 2011

FHE - scripture power version 2

This second version of a scripture discussion is what we did for our FHE yesterday. The discussions that I had assigned to my parents and my sister seemed a bit out of reach for our family right now.

We started by singing Scripture Power.
We laid out the 4 Scripture Readers and talked about what is in each book of scripture - the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine & Covenants.

We each said what our favorite scripture story is. Adam's is the Helaman's stripling warriors and mine is Jesus Christ blessing the children, both in the Book of Mormon. SM likes David and Goliath, and RG likes Baby Jesus.

My parents had sent their watercolor paintings of their favorite scripture stories and a letter talking about what they're doing for their personal and family scripture study - we read the letter and discussed their pictures. My mom's favorite story is the same as mine, and Dad's is the vision of the Tree of Life in the Book of Mormon.

For our pictures of the favorite scripture stories, I printed a couple of things off the Friend LDS Coloring Pages Index and we colored.
We closed by singing Search, Ponder, and Pray.

FHE - scripture power version 1

For the Family Home Evening in a Box gift exchange, this is what I sent to one of my sisters and her husband, and I also sent it to my parents.

Sing the song Scripture Power - this link has an mp3 with the music and a pdf with the sheet music and words. This song is not in the regular Primary music book - it was an extra that came with the Sharing Time outline a couple of years ago.

Each person share your favorite scripture story or prophet – why this means something to you and how you try to apply those specific lessons in your life.

Read and discuss the following scriptures:
2 Nephi 32:3
D&C 84:85
Mosiah 1:7
1 Nephi 15:24

Discuss the following:
How can you each improve your personal scripture study?
How can you improve your scripture study as a couple?
Set at least one goal for each of these to work on over the next month. Write it in your journal, and assess in one month.

Sing the songs Search, Ponder, and Pray in the Primary songbook and The Iron Rod in the hymnal.

Use watercolors to paint a picture of your favorite scripture story.

09 January 2011

the saga of the bunkbed

The PINK bunkbed.

Adam and I talked at length about what to do about the sleeping arrangements for our girls - ages 4 and 3, both in toddler beds (one of which was actually the crib converted to a toddler bed), and the baby who had outgrown the bassinet but had nowhere else to go because her sister still had the crib so she slept with us all the time. We decided to have him build a bunkbed with a trundle beneath, with the future intention of it being the bed for all 3 girls. We estimated the cost to be approximately what it would cost to buy a regular bunkbed at Sam's Club but that wouldn't have the trundle. And we figured building one would be much more sturdy than buying a cheap one. A good solid bunkbed costs over $1000.

We ended up paying about $500 for the wood and aaaaaall the screws, bolts, sandpaper, paint, and tools we didn't already have. That was about twice our estimate, but we realize that we estimated correctly for just the wood. Not all the other stuff. We'll do better next time. We bought 2 brand new mattresses that were $100 each, but we had that estimate correct.

The steps:
1. Adam bought raw lumber and sanded. And sanded and sanded and sanded. The already-finished furniture grade wood cost twice as much as the raw lumber, but next time, we'll pay it because the sanding took FOREVER. And we had to buy a truckload of sandpaper. But thank heaven for electric sanders!

2. Adam and our friend Aaron - sainted Aaron! - went over and over Adam's original design and measurements. Aaron is an engineer so he was a good one to have on the team. They measured and cut and checked and measured again, and cut all the pieces to their specifications. This also took a lot more hours than we had anticipated. Once they started this step, Adam told me many times, "Just a couple more hours." It took a long time to do this because of tweaking the design midstream to get everything balanced right. They did a dry-fit of putting the two bunks together while they were drilling the bolt holes to make sure it all worked.

3. Once the dry fit was done, they brought all the boards to our house from Aaron's house (they did everything at his house up to that point because Aaron has all the needed shop tools in his garage) and stacked them on our patio. Time to treat the wood!

ready to ... stain? paint?

4. SM asked repeatedly for a princess bunkbed - a PINK one. Dad didn't want pink, he wanted a "nice stain." I'm tired of dingy cream-colored walls and carpet (dumb rental rules) and brown furniture, so I was more inclined to go with the pink, or at least some color. But I went to the store and came home with a stain, as requested, that I "disliked the least." None of them appealed to me. Adam sent me back to the store and said that he didn't care how much it cost, just get whatever I was willing to live with for the next 10 years. I came home with testers for 3 different shades of pink, a couple of purples, and a yellow. Guess which one the kiddos liked the best. They were with me when I went to Home Depot to buy the paint and oh my - you would have thought it was Christmas. (Well, it was. But that's beside the point.) They told everyone they saw, including other customers, that we were there to get pink paint for their princess bunkbed.

5. Painting. I let the girls help me paint a little bit, but mostly I did it myself. I suppose it would have been a good experience for them to help more, but at that point, we'd already been working on the thing for over a month and I just wanted it done. The weather turned rather cold while I was working on it which meant the paint wouldn't dry well outside, and when it warmed up, it started raining. So the wood just stayed under tarps outside for a week or two while we waited for the weather to cooperate. I finally just put a drop cloth down on the living room floor at night after the girls were in bed and painted inside. It took about a week of this to get both coats of paint onto the boards. Once I finished painting, we put a clear coat of polyurethane on everything as a protection for the paint. It adds a little bit of gloss but mostly it's so marks on the wood wipe right off and the paint doesn't get gouged.

one of the days I was able to paint outside

6. Time to put this baby together! Two days before Christmas, we rearranged our entire upstairs by switching Adam and me into the small bedroom and all 3 girls into the larger one. JE finally got moved into the crib at 8 months old (and she's still freaking out about it). Adam put the bed frame all together and went to buy the mattresses. Merry Christmas!

framing the bed late at night

ta da! the pink bunkbed!

7. And then ... the mattresses didn't fit. The bedframe was too big by at least 6 inches all the way around. Plus, it was REALLY tall - note in the picture that the frame for the lower bunk hits Adam just below his hip - normally a bed height is around your knees so you can sit on it. We crammed pillows and cushions around SM's bottom bunk mattress and called Aaron to come over and look at it to see how to fix it.

8. Yesterday, Aaron came over in the morning with his saw, and they took the whole thing apart and cut every. single. board. Fortunately they had to cut only one end of each of them, so no repainting was required. And they got it all done and put back together before 9 pm, when it was time for little girls to go to bed.

The final shot: storage on top for now, SM on the bottom bunk, RG on the floor. Princess blankets for the princess bed ... SM has all the pink, and RG has a purple Tinkerbell blanket. The green sheets match Tinkerbell's dress. P.S. The basket at the foot of the bed is for their dress-ups, not dirty clothes.

We're still not quite done. The trundle platform will be built in February or March - my target is to have it done before my sister comes to visit on March 26. But the bed itself is done. Doesn't it look great!

And yes, if we have more children to need it, Adam would build another bunkbed. He's hoping for blue rather than pink.

04 January 2011

FHE - helping the missionaries

For Family Home Evening this week, we decided to support the missionaries. We took our lesson from the manual for SM's Primary class (CTR 4) titled "I can be a missionary." We sang "I hope they call me on a mission" and talked about the ways to be a missionary in the lesson outline. SM especially liked the stand up/sit down designation. Adam also printed off a coloring page (which I can't find to link to) of a picture of a child giving a gift to an elderly person.

For the activity, we baked cookies - white chocolate chip and macadamia nut - to send to our friends Elder Mark and Elder Loebs, who were serving here in Vicksburg last spring/summer. The girls drew pictures and I wrote letters to each of them. This did carry over to Tuesday because the recipe I used didn't make very many cookies, so I made more this morning.