Monday, December 28, 2009

Note Cards

...catchy title, isn't it?

The little bits sewn to paper were turned into note cards. I seem to have developed a tradition of giving note cards at Christmas. They seem well received and are fun to make. Each year I try to do something different with them. This year they were mini quilts. I was inspired by the rainbow wreaths that Amy over at Sweet Sweet Life made, so I tried working on monochromatic cards in the colors of the rainbow. That actually made them pretty fun to create. I managed to knock out quite a few over the course of two evenings, although I didn't get all I wanted done, so fewer went in a pack and some people will be getting theirs for their birthday instead.

These were made using 1.5" squares of fabric, four wide and three high. I used a dab of glue from a glue stick to hold them in place on the card stock and then machine "quilted" them before embellishing them with hearts, flowers, brads and what nots. These have given me so many more ideas that I can't wait to whip up some more! I'm also thinking that a few small ones framed in shadow boxes might be kind of neat. The ideas are rolling, so bring on the time!

We are home from our travels and awaiting family traveling our way now, so the days will continue to be full. I hope the holidays are treating you all well and wish you a very Happy New Year if I don't make it back in the next few days.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Down to the Wire

With just days left till Christmas and even fewer days until we hit the road to travel to my parents, I have decided to think up more gifts to make and more things to do, but have failed to find more hours in the day. I started the above project yesterday evening and am very excited about them. Twenty-four are complete as of tonight, but there are hundreds more ideas bouncing around in my head now, thanks to them. The combine my love of paper and fabric and that's all I'm going to say about them for now.

The elves are still here. Some days they are more interesting than others. This morning they couldn't be found until one of the girls was sent out to feed the outdoor kitty and there they were, hanging out on the porch. The girls didn't look any further and had to be prompted to look past the elves and into the yard. We were "caned" (the good kind) last night. A treat for everyone because we got to take the night off from elving and let our church's youth do the job for us. The cane the homes of all the families with young children each year. This involves taping candy canes to plastic knives and forks and then poking them into the ground all while being incredibly quiet and covert. I think the girls were both in our living room, which looks out onto the front yard while this was taking place. The below photo is not very impressive, but you get the idea....and the kids are impressed.

Now it's time for me to head to the kitchen because even though the girls and I baked for three hours this morning, I decided to invite the neighbors over tomorrow to decorate sugar cookies and we currently have no sugar cookies. Then maybe I ought to wrap some presents. Or think about the laundry that needs to get done tomorrow so that it can be packed. And there's also a to-do list for tomorrow morning when I run out to finish that... oh what's that called? Oh yeah, the Christmas shopping. Need to finish that too. And then deliver the goodies we baked for neighbors. And mail the packages that I know won't make it in time, but still need to go. Surely there's more, but my mind might be about to blow.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Thank you for all the kind words about the kitchen. It's kind of hard to be wowed by it now, as it was such a long process - no one week instant makeover and reveal for us. Still, it is so much easier to function in...we all fit in it now, our sink is deep enough to fill with dirty dishes and leave for later ( and the pantry, ah the pantry - still loving that!!

So there was more celebrating going on yesterday than you could shake a stick at. Both girls had parties at school, which I attended, we finally got to go see Santa after being delayed two weeks first by snow and then the flu and most importantly, Jim and I got to celebrate the completion of year #14. Seriously, 14 years? I must have gotten married at fourteen or something! We whopped it up with our visit to Santa, pizza with the girls and a drive from here to there and everywhere to look at Christmas lights. It was fun.

The sewing machine is still working overtime. I managed to whip up two of these Tuesday night. One for Rachel's teacher, who has a little girl who just turned one and one for her kindergarten teacher from last year, who became a Grandma this year and whom we need to continue to maintain a close relationship with because she will be Sarah's teacher next year. Yes, trying to butter her up a year in advance.....but have you met Sarah? There need to be more of these coming down the pipeline. There are babies to be welcomed and babies on the way. All I need is the time.

Well I've just woken from a long winter's nap...or at least I fell asleep on the couch from 7-10, so I'd better get back to the tasks at hand, like making, making, making and wrapping. So much wrapping.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kitchen Tour 2009

Since I've had a few requests, I figure it's time to share the kitchen with you. Mind you, we still have some painting to do, a back splash to decide on, and some other little details(like a door for the fuse box), but when compared to this time last year, we are so so so done! So I'll narrate and you can peek. Then you can see the progress we made by checking out this album with highlights of the process over on flickr.

Entering the kitchen from the dining room. Where the shelves are, between the two window banks, is where the wall use to be that divided the two rooms. Kitchen was on the left and the room on the right was what we called the "un-room". It did nothing but hold extra storage furniture for stuff that didn't fit in the kitchen. After moving into the house in 2001 and rewiring, it also had not power in it, if I recall correctly.

One more view from the dining room into the kitchen. There is a bedroom on the other side of that white door. Currently the girls are sharing it. That was once a porch, which we demolished and had a bedroom and bath put in its place.

Long view of kitchen. My back is in the girl's bedroom doorway. The door you can see leads outside.

Long view from the opposite direction, with my back now against the door to outside. The floating shelves were the last bit of cabinetry to go in. I intended for them to hold a good bit of weight, but when the cabinet maker installed them he expressed concern that they would tilt forward. I loaded them up with cookbooks to test it and they were tilting within minutes. While he proposed having some metal support fabricated, Jim announced that he thought he had an idea and could fix it with rebar. I was concerned, but I'll be darned, those shelves will never sag again!

Pantry and ovens. The pantry was a #1 item on my list. We made a lot of adjustments to everything else on this wall to be able to fit this pantry in, but I am glad I stood firm on my desire for it. I LOVE it!! It came from here.

My inside view is not as pretty as the company's, but you get the idea. I still need more canisters and organization in there, but it is so easy to find thing and use.

The oven and refrigerator wall. In the old kitchen, the refrigerator was recessed into a nook which has now been walled in and the refrigerator pushed forward. Now, the bedroom closet on the other side of the wall can be widened. Another day. When I have forgotten about the dust that demolition causes and all the turmoil that ensues.

Long view of same wall. The desk area on the far left will eventually have a computer at it. I'm also thinking about cork against that wall vs. the back splash (which we haven't even begun to think about). Our cabinets were made by a local cabinet maker who works full time as a fireman and does this on the side. The counter tops and floor came from the Tile Store.

Well, that's about it. It's twice as long, the same width, much prettier to look at and only a year in the making. I do have to stress that Jim did everything himself except for build and install the cabinets, run the gas line and cut and install the counter tops. He did all the demolition, framing, repair work to damaged wood, drywalling, plumbing, wiring, flooring, paint stripping, name it. His eldest brother did come help over the course of three weekends, once to install the header that took the place of the load bearing wall that we removed, once to help with hanging drywall and once to help lay tile. We are very thankful for his help in those areas, as they were really two person jobs.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sick. Again.

Just when I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with what still had to be done, the commitments we'd made, the birthday parties and Christmas parties and all that stuff that's supposed to be fun, but in mega doses becomes nothing more than a duty fulfilled, nature sent us a not so subtle reminder to slow down. Rachel had a head ache Wednesday and was cold all day, which is odd for her. By ten that night, her temperature was almost 103. By noon on Thursday, it was 103.5. Thankfully the doctor had an opening at 3:00 and we were there! As her pediatrician put it, she got an A on the only test you don't want to get an A on....Flu, Type A. She was sooooo sick last night. I don't ever recall having the flu and had no idea that it was so horrible. At one point, I swear, her eyes rolled up in her head right before she threw up. Again. On a tummy that had already lost the only thing she'd eaten back at the pediatrician's office. Poor girl. Thankfully, she is feeling better today. The whole family is taking Tamiflu (man it's expensive!!!) and she's got several other concoctions to take as well. We were lucky to catch it early and hopefully everyone will be well for Christmas.

So the elves thought they ought to do something fun last night to lift spirits this morning. Those little buggers strung toilet paper (again with the TP!!) from the dining room light out into the dining room and sprayed silly string on the table! Tsk. Tsk. They could be found hanging in the light this morning with their tools in hand and their antics were well received.

And in the effort to be a bit crafty, I have to mention Picnik. I am usually the last to hear about something, so you may already know all about it, but if you like taking photos and don't know about it, clear some time from your day and have fun. Lots of photo editing tools, great filters and fun to be had. I tweaked the above photo of Rachel with it. It's free for the basics and reasonable for a year's subscription which gets you extra features (of which I cannot tell you about, as the budget will not allow it right now).

There is crafting that desperately needs to get done, but what with school cancelled, welcoming the flu into our house and all that sort of stuff, projects are waiting on my table. I'm hoping to make some progress now that nature has forced us to slow down a bit.

And a kitchen tour is in the near future. I took photos yesterday after I gave it a good picking up and before the Mr. went to town making some incredible lasagna in it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Busy Busy

Everyone is busy busy around here. The elves were at it again last night with a marshmallow fight in the kitchen. I wonder if they knew that the marshmallows would grow stale overnight and stick to the kitchen floor. Hmm... I think the girls were excited to see a little naughty behavior out of them as well. That would be my girls! And I am excited to show you a little peek of the new kitchen. One day, when it is clean, I will show more, but right now it is not. By far. Still some details to be taken care of there, as well as a backsplash, but it beats the pants off last Christmas when there was just a gaping hole at that end of the house.

I'm still whipping up gifts as fast as I can, which some days does not seem very fast. The wrapped gifts went to Rachel's Daisy Scout leaders today - blackberry/mulberry jam. Hand picked, home made and tasty. The bottom "thing" is a secret and that's all I'm saying for now.

And since some of the recipients of the these may be getting an early glimpse of them, I won't tell you what they are for now either. I'll give my secrets away on Flickr, but remember, Santa knows if you've been naughty or not! Plus he might have elves watching!

And lastly, cookies for the Daisy Scout cookie swap they had today. We brought Thumbprint cookies. I love these - I think it might be the jam. I am really loving jam these days. Jam on toast, jam in cookies, heck - jam on a spoon! I took the poor woman's way out in packaging them though, when I found that the containers I liked were not on sale. Rachel thought the fact that our container was the only one with a candy cane on it was a good selling feature.

And speaking of cookies. The reindeer cookies. Bleck. I'm not sure if it was the peanut butter that I used, if I over cooked them (burnt) or what, but they taste - well, nasty. The idea is cute, but the taste is not. I would suggest using your own peanut butter cookie recipe, or any other cookie recipe for that matter instead. Don't say you haven't been warned.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

An Interruption

It must be the holidays because our world is full of magic right now. The kind of magic that brings an early morning snow to Southern Tennessee just weeks before Christmas. My wake up call came at 6:30 this morning - not a favorite time to rise on a Saturday morning, but they were magic words squealed by excited little girls "It's snowing!!".

I got up. I grabbed the camera. I'm glad I did. I also went back to bed for an hour or so before rising again, taking more photos and then heading out to play. All before breakfast....but not coffee. The coffee tasted extra good outside in the cold!

Our winter wonderland is melting right now, but there's still magic inside. Friday morning the elves were found snuggled up in a basket in a toilet paper nest reading "The Night Before Christmas". These elves seem to have a thing for the T.P.

Then last night, before I went to bed I caught them already having their breakfast on the table. And more magic this morning, when they cereal they'd started out with last night was all gone!

Perhaps Santa has a helper when it comes to this magic stuff.

P.S. The cats are not supposed to be on the table, but I am guilty of taking the picture first and then getting the squirt bottle out.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mission Accomplished

I can't believe I got them done in time! Phew!! My girls will both be getting a new quilt for Christmas this year. Hopefully this will be something that they will treasure and have for a long time. My favorite part about these quilts is that some of their clothes have been incorporated into the squares. I know, when I see a particular orange print that I will remember our trip to visit Jim's brother's family in Iowa and buying that dress on our way home from the Iowa State Fair. Or the pink print from the top that Rachel's Nina gave her and her daughter wore as well. And the blue sundress that Sarah wore when we visited my Grandparents in Florida. I'm so glad that there are already memories folded into these quilts. I also embroidered "xoxo mom 2009" into the lower right corner of each....just in case they forget how much I love them. Now I just hope they will go over well, seeing as how they are not battery powered, don't have any glitter and are not hand held gaming devices.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Busy Elves

All manner of elves are busy at our house these days. The girls awoke this morning to find their elves coloring in new coloring books on the dining room table. It was reported that they must have gone to the "North Pole Shop" and that they also are very good "colorers" and stayed in the lines. Thankfully, the fear over the elves seems to have passed. A few more 3 AM freak outs over them and they would have been sent packing!

Another elf is busy at the sewing machine whenever she can find the time. The above three are done and waiting matching bits. "Above what?" you ask? That's my little secret. Ho ho ho!

And what would the holidays be if we weren't baking? Sarah requested some backing today, which pretty much translates into "I want to grab insane amounts of dough out of the mixer while you foolishly believe that I actually wanted to make cookies.". These cookies are cute, but not very durable. They're pretty much a peanut butter cookie with pretzel antlers, mini chocolate chip eyes and an M&M nose. The recipe was from here. We ended with stick antlers instead of their broken pretzel antlers, but come on, we're just going to eat them anyway.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's That Time of Year

Not a lot of crafting going on this weekend, but lots of family time, which I am thankful for. We spent a couple of fun days with Jim's oldest brother and his family, including a Thanksgiving day romp through Point Park and a yummy Indian Feast to warm us back up upon our return. No turkeys were harmed at our house this year (or any other year, for that matter).

Today we picked out our Christmas tree at a cut your own farm and already have it lit and partially decorated. I think the girls might be excited. Just a little.

And who wouldn't be excited when Santa chooses to send some of his elves to play pranks on you and monitor your behavior? We woke up Friday morning (AFTER sunrise) and found that the elves had taped all our doors shut and then taped themselves to the door! There has been so much conjecturing as to what the elves will do next, it's been quite fun to listen in on!

What wasn't so fun was my 3 AM wake-up when Rachel decided that the highly anticipated elves were freaking her out and she was afraid of them. Apparently it is still undecided as to whether they are here for good or evil. They seem to be just swell during the day and questionable at night according to the six and under crowd.

And check this out....I'm a winner! Not often I get to shout that out, but today it's true. I discovered Amy Hanson's blog Sweet Sweet Life a month or two ago while flipping through pictures on flickr. Her flair for decorating and creativity is incredible. A few days ago I entered a give-away on her website for a bunch of Japanese crafting goodies centered around kids. I was so shocked to visit her site today and see a picture of her two beautiful girls holding a sign with my name on it. I honestly didn't think it had anything to do with this Colleen, let alone that I'd won, but by gosh by golly, I did. So whoo hoo and what a way to start the holidays!

Now...there are precious few days left and I've got a whole lot of sewing to do, so it's time to get to work!

Friday, November 20, 2009

In a Bind

Both the girls Christmas present quilts are quilted - ha, I almost said done...oh how I wish! Now on to the binding. I have made a ridiculously long strip of binding (of which only a tiny portion is shown in this photo because the rest was on the floor being treated as a kitten toy....argh!!) from fabrics that were used in the quilts and will start sewing tonight after the Nosy Noras have gone to bed. When it gets to the hand sewing part, I'm going to use this great idea I first saw over here - hair clips to hold the binding in place vs. my fingers holding it and cramping along the way (too lazy to pin). So I know what my weekend holds for me - I hope you have a great one doing something you enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fall....In the Nick of Time

These pictures should have existed two months ago, but with just days left to think brown, gold and orange, I finished this garland. It's hung in the doorway between our dining room and living room, which is quite wide. I wish I could show a full shot of it, but it would also show all the chaos and clutter that is/was going on in the surrounding areas. Believe me, it's not pretty. The leaves were cut from felted wool sweaters that I and those who love me have been gathering up for me. I used a template from Martha Stewart for the Maple leaf, and just drew my Oak leaves free hand (her Oak leaf looked to thick to me....maybe we have different Oaks in the South) and then did some free motion stitching on them to give them veins. The rest of the garland was made with fabric strips, burlap, ribbon, raffia and beads. I'm still trying to decide if I like this or if it came across as too country cutesy. I almost wish I'd just stitched the leaves together in a chain. Maybe next year.

These were another project that I'm still scratching my head over. I was going for something natural and autumnal, but I think I got Christmas pine cone trees instead. I'm thinking that sticking them with pumpkins didn't help. And in addition to them not really looking very autumnal, I can see a lot of dried glue on them, so I'm thinking I need to invest in a can of spray "snow" and give them a good dusting. The Mr. says he's not a fan of fake snow on things, but I'm not really a fan of Christmas tree decorations in October or visible globs of dried glue. Glitter was my other idea, but I'm not sure that's the best course of action either. Either way, I need to give up on fall and focus on Christmas now, which will be easier now that I have a new iron to replace the one that went kaput the other night. I can't say it's from all the clothes that I iron, but I'm guessing it croaked after all the fabric and seams it has ironed over the past years. The important stuff, you know.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Friendly Little PSA

Just a friendly little reminder that your sewing machine might appreciate being cleaned out and delinted every once in a while. Perhaps more often than I do mine. I think I was on the verge of needle felting....and it was cotton! I must say that I tend to use machines (of any sort) and forget about maintenance. My vacuum cleaner is about 8 years old...I wonder how long they can go without changing the belts, or how to change the belts...or get the belts for that matter. I will not mention how far past due my car is for an oil change or any other sort of maintenance, but it is also 10 years old and treating me poorly, so bah to it. But my sewing machine, her I love and want to treat well and take good care of her, so perhaps I should stop between projects and give her a little TLC.

And while I'm full of all sorts of brilliant information like clean out your sewing machine, I thought I'd share these gloves with you. They are quilting gloves made by Fons & Porter and set me back all of about $3 with a coupon at Hobby Lobby. They come in S, M & L, are light weight and have made machine quilting so much easier for me due to the tiny little gripper dots on the fingers and palm side. Previously, I didn't have a good grip on the fabric as I moved it around. and ......want to know something gross? I tended to lick my fingers from time to time to stop them from slipping on the fabric. I do wash all my quilts before giving them away now, so rest easy if you were have been a recipient of one. Still, not the most awesome way to go about quilting. These gloves though, so much easier!

And now, because Christmas is just a sneeze away and I have more projects laid out for me that I could shake a stick at, I think I might go make more cute little fabric acorns. Yeah, that would be the smart thing to do, I'm sure.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend Progress Report

Well my weekend proved to be a productive one. I took a large stack of 10.5'' quilt squares, and managed to get one quilt assembled and completely quilted. Still needs binding, but that will come. That part I can do easily at night after the girls go to bed. It was good to get one out of the way while they were gone, as I will still have the second to get done between now and Christmas.

The second top was assembled, but alas, no more batting, so back to the store I will go before Friday, when I will have another decent block of time to do some covert Christmas work. More colorful block quilts, you say....isn't she getting tired of them? Why yes, I am. This all came about when I had the brilliant idea for a mass assembly line kind of thing to get a bunch done. Since then I've grown bored with that and will be eager to move on to some new quilts soon.

I also got a pair of pajama pants made for Christmas. All her current bottoms are turning into floods. It's nice to see at Target today though, that a plain top to go with them will cost about as much as a new set of pajamas. Oh well, it's the thought, isn't it?

Work was started on a Christmas Emmaline apron for my mother-in-law.

And I cut out a whole bunch of felt leaves. I have plans for some fall decorations which may or may not make it up before it's time for Christmas decorations. Time will tell. I feel the pressure of Christmas fast approaching and wonder if I'm just digging a bigger hole for myself by thinking fall. Diversions are nice though.