Sunday, December 28, 2014

Crafts I Tried This Season

This was a big year for myself and my kids. I came to the heart-wrenching realization that my children were growing up; they were suddenly aware of the holidays and what they meant.  But I started to think...DO they know what they mean? Have you ever felt that way about your children as they grow up before your eyes? 

I decided I needed to start making more of an effort to share with my children what holidays mean to us; why we celebrate, what to consider.  The importance of being grateful and giving and supporting others.  I chose two specific ways to do this...

#1: A month of being thankful. 

For the month of November, I had each child (really only my oldest as the younger one still can't write or grasp the 'thankful' concept) write on a leaf what they are thankful for.  It could be something as frivolous as getting a cookie in their lunch box that day, or something deeper like the wonderful friends they have. Whatever it was, it made them start thinking about being grateful for all we have.  

I was pleasantly surprised by what they came up with. Grateful for their sister/brother, grateful for the fun toys they are lucky to have, grateful for their parents and grandparents. It was awesome, and it sparked other conversations during other times of the day; comparing with cousins all of the things they are grateful for. It was heart-warming to me when my son reminded me one night, " Mom, we need to do our thankful leaves". Awesome! Yes, there were several days I forgot or got distracted, but he worked hard to keep me in check. 

#2: A 25 day countdown chain to Christmas. 

The month of December is filled with excitement for children. Last year my son became acutely aware of Christmas and was asking every day if it was here yet. I had a couple people suggest a countdown chain, so I put one together. I wrote the numbers for the countdown on each link and simply stapled them. I should have made them a little thinner, but other than that this worked perfectly!

It had a bunch of unintended lessons in it, too. My son was able to practice his scissor handling, including cutting each link into a bazillion little pieces and various shapes I drew on them. He also practiced his numbers and the concept of counting down ('if this says 13, how many days are left? ...12!). It was almost a little sad for me when we got to the end because he had so much fun with it. 

Something else I tried this year was the 12 nights of books. This was a modified approach to a pin someone showed me. I got 12 books for each child, wrapped them, numbered them and put them under the tree. At first I didn't know if it was really worth it, but as the evenings past my husband pointed out how much the kids look forward to their books each night and how fun it is to open them and then sit on the couch together to read them. They were so excited about those books each night, and about sitting together to read them. It was wonderful! I'm wondering if I can recycle some of the Christmas stories for next year to supplement, otherwise this will become a really expensive tradition.  

I do want to try all of these again next year, with modifications for improvement of course. I felt like I was helping my children understand the idea of being grateful and thankful for all we have and the importance of family and togetherness. Next year I also hope to find more things they can do give back, which is still a tough concept for them. We tried a little this year, but maybe it will work better next year. Wonderful times, and there's always room for improvement. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Baby R's Quilt

Last April when I found out my sister was expecting, I was overjoyed! So excited for her and the new adventure she was entering with #2. My mind started racing...what type of quilt should I make? My sister is really into batiks, which is what I did for her first, but this one felt different.  Pattern, or no pattern? Scrappy or coordinated fabrics?
Fortunately, my sister started building a registry and picking paints and I got some wonderful clues and ideas. I was browsing Green Fairy Quilts and saw a fat quarter pack called Bartholomeow's Reef and knew it was the one. It called to me and I had to do it.

I wanted to do something with sailboats to stick with the theme of ocean and came up with a sailboat pattern of my own. I accidentally completed a whole baby quilt, my Sailboat Quilt, while practicing this block, which I also love, love!

Once I had my blocks put together, I felt like they needed to be wonky, so I twisted them with scraps from the collection. The last thing to complete was the sashing and border.  The blocks had made the quilt a nice baby size already, and the blocks were so busy that I decided to do something simply. I found this wonderful solid at the LQS Cactus Quilt Shop and was so happy with how well it pulled it all together and completed the quilt.

For the quilting, I struggled with stitching over the sailboats (I usually do for some reason) so I opted to stitch waves and swirls around the blocks allowing the boats to pop a little. I even went in and stitched a quarter inch in around the boats and didn't like it so I picked it out and declared it done.

I ordered the backing to match rather than piecing something together. Now I have enough leftovers I could make a whole new quilt. Yay!  I loved this one so much it was hard to let it go. I hope my sisters little boy feels the same way.

Finally, I finished the quilt with the solid to match the sashing and borders, which has a great contrast on the back. I hand-stitched the binding, and added a personalized label to this one for them.

This was an original from start to finish, and I love how it all came together.  It was like it was on purpose by accident.  I kind of went scrappy, but with coordinated fabrics. It was a pattern, just my own. Works for me. I hope they love it as much as I do.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dolly Needs Pajamas

Last year my daughter received an Our Generation doll from her cousins, Aunt and Uncle. Just recently, she has become quite fascinated with this doll and we've been playing dress-up a lot lately. I've noticed she's more cooperative herself when she see's her dolly doing it.

Now, I always said I wouldn't make doll clothes; too many small pieces and tight corners, not to mention I will have to work with ...gulp... a pattern! But they always say you'll do anything for your children and I was ready to do anything to get her excited about getting dressed for bed.

I have been trying to figure out what to do with the fleece scraps I have, so here's yet another great project for them. I knew I needed to make patterns for this, so I used one of the other outfits she had to create simple patterns for the top and bottom. Fleece was also nice because it's stretchy, making it easier to get a good fit, at least for my first try.

I started with the top, cutting out the body and the sleeves and sewing them together. I used velcro to close the back. On to the pants; it was pretty straight forward until I got to the closure part. I had to do a little re-sewing to figure that part out.

I was worried there might be stretch at the sleeves and legs, so I decided to add a little flare and stitch an embroidery stitch around all hems, rather than doing actual hems. I don't get to use those stitches a lot so it was pretty exciting!

The pants came out a little shorter than I would have liked, but it just gave me two more patterns.  Now I have "capri's" as well as "pants" and I have "3/4 sleeves" and "full sleeves". I am actually looking forward to trying it again.

During the shoot, the models manager (my daughter) suggested we put the shirt on with the velcro seam up the front. I actually think I like it better, gives the outfit a little more interest.

Yes, I am ready to try doll clothes again.  Maybe with some of the quilting fabric scraps.  I'll have to keep playing with it. I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday. Can't wait to see what everyone's working.  Come on by!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Roll Up Pancakes

Okay, I promise I've been doing things. Maybe not as much as I would like given the time of year, but I have been working on things.

Right now is the time of year when I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Not because the weather is right to be inside (we've been having 70's and sunny outside for the most part and it's hard not to go outside and enjoy it) but because it's the time of year when family is visiting for various holidays and gifts are being made for the end of the school semester, etc.

I also have been working on some projects that I didn't want to share until after they've been delivered. One was my SIL's Second Quilt and the other is TBA soon. Suspense....

But, back to the kitchen... I have been playing with a recipe that, once again, I found on my fave food blog, Mel's Kitchen. I have made it a few times and it has become a recipe that my son requests again and again. It is great for breakfast, for leftovers re-heated the next morning, breakfast on-the-go, and for lunches rolled up with fruit. It is an amazing recipe! And I have not found one thing I would change about it.

It's packed with protein, it has a minimal amount of carbs, and it tastes great with just the smallest drizzle of syrup so you're not adding a ton of calories there. I encourage you all to visit Mel's blog and checkout this Roll Up Pancake recipe along with all of the other wonderful recipes she has on her site. I am posting it on my site simply because I want it in my recipe book that I've created on here. You must try this recipe!

Roll Up Pancakes

1 c cottage cheese
6 eggs
1/2 c flour (white or whole wheat)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs sugar

Put all of the ingredients in the blender and blend until well mixed. Pour about 1/4 c batter into a well-heated, greased skillet and swirl it outward to create the larger, flat pancake.  8-inch will create smaller pancakes, 10-inch creates bigger ones. Allow to brown and set for a minute or so and then flip. It takes some practice to work with such a large, thin pancake, but you'll get the hang of it quickly. Flip and allow the second side to brown. Remove from the pan to a plate and continue with the rest of the batter until all of it is used.
Drizzle a small amount of syrup, jam, fruit, or bacon to the pancake and roll it up. Allow the leftovers to cool and place them in the refrigerator or freezer. Both work great.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Exciting Sale!

***Extended one more day for Cyber Monday! Enjoy 20% off everything in the shop! Use the code TURKEY14. Thanks for your support!***

I have decided I want to be a part of the Small Business Saturday movement. I, myself, have enjoyed my Black Friday shopping, but now it's time to turn my support to the small businesses in my community; both my physical and my internet communities.

I am offering 20% off everything on my Etsy site between now and Sunday midnight. Just use the code TURKEY14 at checkout.

I would love to have you come on by and check out what I have going on over there. I have some great gift ideas and have introduced a few new fabric bag patterns in the last couple of weeks.

Come on by, and thanks in advance for all the support!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

SIL's Second

A year ago this holiday week, my sister-in-law was brave enough to deliver to me a bag of shirts she had gathered from all the runs she has been in over the years. They are such a wonderful chronicle of her running experience, and I was so afraid of messing them up.

There were a lot of shirts, and I didn't want to make the quilt too big. I also had never tried working with polyester shirts; the cotton ones were really straight-forward. So, I decided to split the shirts into to categories and therefore complete two quilts for her.

I finished the first one last spring and delivered that one to her. You can read more about it here. When I found out they would be traveling to visit us again for Thanksgiving holiday I knew I needed to have the second one finished for her.

This one actually came together more easily.  The blocks were bigger and, obviously uniform in size, which is easier to work with. And the finished quilt was smaller; more lap size rather than twin size like last time.

I went "shopping" at my Mom's for the fabrics and found the gorgeous blue used in the sashing, borders, and backing. I couldn't help it; it was so beautiful and went with all the blocks. I wanted to break it up a little though so I added the green stars. I like how it gave the quilt some dimension and variety.  Of course the shirts do that as well.

The shirts are all polyester running shirts and I was surprised at how well they ironed up with the interfacing and quilted up when it came time to finish the quilt. It was a wonderful experiment.

For the quilting I decided to again, keep it simple. I did a large meander on each block, making sure to not cover much of the pictures from the shirts. I didn't want to quilt too much, so I skipped the sashing and instead added some more meander to the border to finish it. It created a real soft, flowing feel to the top.

I used the same green from the stars to bind the quilt, and went for the hand-binding look with this one.  Totally worth it; really finished it nicely!

I was so happy with how this turned out.  The whole project went smoother than I could have hoped. I sure hope she likes it as well. After finishing the first quilt, I was looking at my children's t-shirts in a whole new way. Now I am looking at ALL their old clothes in a whole new way. What else could I do...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Family is Here!

Today some of our family arrived for the Thanksgiving holiday week. Love it! I have been working feverishly all weekend to prepare for their visit.  Basically, I wanted to get as much done ahead of time as I possibly could so that I didn't have to do too much while they're here.  

So far I have dinner rolls and stuffing done. I also made a second batch of sugar cookies for decorating (the first batch might have been consumed by certain members of our house while waiting for the visitors to arrive). All I have left to do is the pies, which I really need to do, but I don't want to make them too early. All of this baking and cooking meant there wasn't much time for quilting, but it did get a little in. 

These cute little blocks are from a panel that I ordered. It's a part of the Pirates! line by Andover Fabrics. I already finished the matching curtains for my sons room here and now I want to get the quilt finished. I was trying to keep it simple and cut out blocks of four pictures to work with, but when I put the borders on the blocks I immediately knew it wasn't going to work. I unstitched everything, cut the blocks down to individual pictures, and have begun the process of sewing them back together with my own sashing. I am already SO MUCH HAPPIER with this! It's amazing what a difference something like that can make. I am really excited to get back to work on it, but it will have to wait for now.

Instead I decided to whip together some of my Best Cinnamon Rolls for the visitors. I think it's safe to say they liked them...

Tomorrow I might try some Roll-up pancakes from a recipe I found from my fave food blog, Mel's Kitchen. I really need to put a post together for myself; I go to her site for this recipe that much! Sorry for the bad pictures, they were taken quickly between events today and I didn't get to spend much time with lighting or blur. There's just too much fun to be had right now to worry about that. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Another missed Craft Day

Several years ago (or maybe a decade, you know, whatever) a group of friends started 'Craft Day'. It is a once-a-month gathering of fellow crafters where we bring our projects, share ideas, borrow equipment, etc. Ten years later and we are still getting together.  It's so awesome to be involved with such a fun and creative group!

Unfortunately the last few months my husbands work schedule has prevented me from attending.  This weekend I thought I was going to make it. I had all sorts of ideas and plans of things to work on, including Christmas cards and scrapbooking! But alas, he had a last-minute assignment and it wasn't going to happen. So, I decided to have my own little craft day at home. 

The first thing I wanted to do was make some jam.  We are almost out of strawberry and I had purchased a ton of blackberries to try.  

First I thought I didn't have enough fruit, so I bought more. Then, I realized I had too much so I had to double the batch. Then, I discovered I didn't have enough sugar for a double batch, so I put the second batch in the fridge to finish the next day. Then I realized the pectin I had left to use was low sugar and it would have worked. At that point I decided I was done with jamming for the day. 

What did get finished turned out great, and the next day the second batch also worked out. Phew!

So, then it was on to some quilting. I needed to finish hand-stitching the binding on my most recent project and it was one of those times where you're so close....

It was 10pm... I'll just keep going until the news is over. 10:30... I am SO CLOSE. 11pm... I finished! ...... and everyone was asleep. I had to pat myself on the back and head to bed. 

It was a long crafting day, but I got so much done.  It would have been a lot better if I'd had others to chat with, but next month I have remedied that.  Craft Day is at my house.  Give the kids a movie and work with great friends around the crafting table. Luckily they don't mind the occasional kiddo outburst. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Bag Pattern Finish

I finished up my second Oversized Bag Pattern this weekend! I am so excited to have two finished and posted on my Etsy Site now.

It's actually very similar to my other one, but it doesn't require all the prep work at the beginning to piece together a panel. It uses whole pieces of fabric and you can have so much fun with fabric patterns and colors.

I used Riley Blake fabrics in the pictures, but there's no limit to what you could create with it. Try it and let me know what you did with it! And if you haven't been by my shop in a while, stop on by and see what's on sale and what's new. Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pirate Ships, Ahoy

I had a break in between projects and decided to take advantage of the little time I had and get the curtains finished in my sons room.

I mentioned before, we're going for a pirate theme.  I ordered all of the fabric a few weeks ago, and I figure it will take me a while still to complete the quilt for his bed, but curtains are fast and freshen things up quick.

He was so excited when he saw them.  All I did was sew a band of the pirate scene fabric between two pieces of white fabric. I ironed the seams and stitched them in a matching color to keep things flat and smooth. It was a simple hem on the bottom and band on the top to fit on the curtain rod.

I also needed a way to keep the room a little darker in the mornings; not a problem right now but in the summer a 4:30am sunshine call can be hard on all of us. I got some navy blue sport fabric and made very simple panels that tuck inside the frame of the window. I did the same thing in my daughters room and it works really nicely. The fabric is heavy and dark, but it still allows a little light in so it's not pitch black.

Hopefully this will inspire me to get his quilt done quickly. It's next on my list...almost there.

Ready to see what others have been working on at Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish Friday. Come check it out! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My First Pattern Finish

I am so excited!! I have been working on this for a while and I am thrilled that it's finally finished and ready to share!

Early this year, I completed a large tote with leftover Honey, Honey scraps.  You can check out my Honey, Honey Bag to see. I posted it on Etsy and immediately had requests for a pattern.  It got me thinking, as a quilter, I also like having access to a pattern. So, I got to work...

It was so much fun, and challenging too, to put this together. It took me back to my teaching days and reminded me how much I enjoy preparing lessons and creating new projects for students. I loved making the diagrams which are spread through out the pattern helping make it easy to follow.

I hope you come check it out in my Etsy Shop, along with all of the other fun things I have including some great presents for baby, toddler, and preschooler.

I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday, My Quilt Infatuation for NTT, and Crazy Mom Quilts for Finished Friday.  I am so excited about this one! Come on by and check out all the things everyone is working on.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Doubling Up

Next week will be the anniversary of my daughters cochlear implant #2 being activated. When she graduated from having one cochlear implant to having two, I had to modify my tethering method to make it easier to use and quicker to attach.  Here's what I came up with.

It's the same design as I'd used before, but there are 2 ribbons attached to one clip, instead of one-to-one. The one-to-one method is still handy when she is only wearing one (like when we were at the beach), but when we go somewhere like the park or the zoo, I have visions of the CI falling into the pool of the lion enclosure or something.  This definitely brings piece of mind.

one-to-one method

She's super cool about wearing them, too. I think she finds it handy to catch the CI and put it back on when it's attached to the tether. I tried really hard to get a picture of her new double on, but she's a toddler on the move and doesn't have time to sit around while mommy snaps pictures. I will keep trying.

The snaps are probably the trickiest part of the construction. The ribbon is just wide enough for the snaps, and there's a lot of fiddling to make sure they line up right and there's still enough room to fit the cord thru.

The clip is actually a clip I found on Etsy that is designed to make pacifier clips. We never used pacifiers, but I bet they would work great! These clips are awesome! They have just enough grab to hold on but will let go if she tugs on them, you know, when she's sick of listening to me ;).

I wonder if there are others out there interested in something like this? I am so glad I was able to make them for her. It sure makes our lives a lot calmer. I want to see if I can find some christmas ribbon and valentines ribbon. Gotta have fun with it, right?!?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Scrappy Cowboy Quilt

A while ago, I quilted a cowboy quilt that my Mom had made for my son when he was a baby. There was some leftover blocks and fabrics that I just couldn't let go to waste because they were way too cute!

Enter this little number...

I actually de-constructed the blocks that were left so I could use the strips to frame the larger squares. I also used a different white than was originally in the blocks because there wasn't enough of it.  Too bad because it was a super cute white-on-white print with stars.  It has gone into my white scrap bag now so it will be used eventually.

I really didn't have much rhyme or reason to the way it's laid out. I literally framed my squares and then spread it out on the floor to make sure I had my colors distributed. I did want the yellow and black squares to be alternated, but that was about the extent of my planning. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at the finished product.

This is the closest I've gotten to doing a scrappy quilt. Just letting go of control...not sure how I felt about it, but it seems to work so I might need to try that again.

The backing is a patchwork of the leftovers; I wanted to use everything up and I couldn't handle the idea of adding another fabric to this mix.

I did a simple meander in a brown variegated thread all over, and did a machine binding this time with a solid black fabric.  Again, I couldn't handle introducing a new print into the mix so the solid black worked perfect.

This one was fast, fun, and a big surprise at the end. I am so glad I challenged myself with a scrappy quilt.  I hope I can do more of this in the future.

It's also the perfect size for a crib, so I am posting it on my Etsy Site. Come on by and see what else I have going on there. I'm trying to get some bag patterns up that have been requested. Hopefully those will be up soon.

I'm linking up with Kelly at the Quilt Infatuation as well as Crazy Mom Quilts. Ready to browse thru and see what everyone has been working on.

Also, don't forget to go vote for your favorites at the Bloggers Quilt Festival! I have a couple entries in Small Quilts and ROYGBIV that you wanna check out!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Sailboats in the Festival

I decided I really want my Sailboats Quilt to give it a try in the Blogger Quilt Festival in the Small Quilts category. I encourage everyone to come visit and vote for your favorites in the coming days! It's going to be a lot of fun, and you might get some new ideas to try.

This was a quilt born of an accident, and so much fun I couldn't resist. The fabrics are from a line called Noah's Arc, but I don't remember the designer. 

 I purchased them many, many, many years ago for another baby quilt and used them to 'practice' my sailboats block pattern. Little did I know it would turn into this wonderful finish!

I wanted to make the quilting look like the wind blowing in the sails, and the waves rocking the boats, so the swirls seemed like the perfect pattern to accomplish both of those at once. 

Finished with a hand-stitched binding in yellow, this little guy was an awesome project that I accidentally fell into and fell in love with!