I hope to inspire and entertain you with a lot of sewing and a little of everything else!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011!

Happy New Year, blogger friends. I've been away for awhile due to sickness, but I hope to be back in a few days with more sewing and ideas. I wish you all a Happy, Healthy 2011 with many Blessings!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come...

Hello! Today I am linking to the Spirit of Christmas Party at SewNSo's Sewing Journal. Today's theme is sharing projects we have planned for future Christmases. My project has been 17 years in the making!
I made 2 red velveteen Christmas stockings for Hubby and me in 1993, the year we got married. They are very simple, lined with a Christmas print. I cut out 6 stockings altogether and stored the unfinished ones with our Christmas decorations. Every year that a new baby joined our family, I stitched another one together (usually at the last minute!). When Davy was born, I couldn't find the last stocking, so I made another one from red velveteen. Since then, I found the last one, which I still need to put together for Andy.
Maybe you are wondering why this is an unfinished project? Because my original intention was to make each person a custom cuff. Each stocking would showcase a different technique on the cuff: smocking, quilting, heirloom lace band, embroidery, etc.
As you can see, I have yet to complete even one cuff!! Each year, I think that I'll leave this out after Christmasand do them in the summer. Maybe this will be the year!! Now the plain stockings seem like the tradition, but I think it would be really nice for each person to have a special, unique stocking...next year.

I finally managed to finish Andy's overalls, literally 30 minutes before we went to have pictures done on Friday night. It was worth it! The pictures came out great and I had cards made, which will go out today...in plenty of time to arrive before Christmas! I'll try to post a closeup of the embroidery later. One of the girls kissed him and got some lip gloss on the overalls, so they are in the wash.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Speaking of My Dad...

Last week, I shared my Mom's 3 Wise Men Banners from the 1970s. I mentioned that my Dad is also very creative. When I was a kid, my parents both dabbled in different hobbies and crafts. For my Dad, these included: wood-working, wine-making, clock making, and even stained glass. My Dad is also great at home repair and construction projects and still works full-time in government security. I am really grateful that my parents gave me a heritage of creativity. So, today I want to tell you about the stained glass nativity set my Dad made in the early 1980s.
My Dad took a stained glass making class with a friend. It was a community education class and it must have been around Christmas time. I remember him working with the different sheets of brightly colored glass and the beautiful glass beads (see the blue turban). I was impressed that the cutter had a diamond tip to score the glass. My Dad made a Tiffany-type lamp shade and a few other things, but this nativity set is the thing that has become a Christmas tradition in my parents' house. My Dad said he felt impressed that it turned out so well. I also have a beautiful baby sled that we made together, which I will share soon. I hope you are enjoying the holiday season and getting a lot done!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Present....Antalanters

I'm linking to Laurie's Christmas Memories posts at SewnSo's Journal today. I linked to a memory about Christmas past last week and was planning to make Andy's overalls for this week's post. I tried to get to it all week, but no luck. The kids were home sick a few days, we had Davy's Christmas party on Saturday, and I'm still battling computer woes (all my embroidery designs are on our defunct computer waiting to be restored by Carbonite!). Most of all, my little Andy has developed separation-from-Mommy anxiety, so whatever I do is accomplished with him on one arm! So, needless to say, the overalls aren't done. They are cut out and that's it. So, I thought I wouldn't be able to do the linky party today. When I got to the computer this morning and checked Laurie's blog, I saw that Life Got In The Way of her sewing, too!! It's not just me!! Doesn't it always make you happy to know you're not the only one??
So, today all 4 big kids went to school and Andy was happy for a little while chewing on a dissolvable rice rusk in his high chair. I managed to embellish a shirt for Davy's Kindergarten Christmas Party on Wednesday.
The design is from Planet Applique. When I saw it, I just thought it was so cute. AND it reminded me of a fun story, too. Keep reading...

Here's Davy wearing the shirt!
The funny story is from 2003, when Katie was 5 and Rosie was 3. It was a few weeks before Christmas and I was working on something in the kitchen. The girls were very quiet in the family room. All of a sudden, they came in singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. You have to picture the next part, because the photo I have is on film and I can't scan right now. They had cut out paper antlers and noses and colored them in: brown antlers and red noses. They taped the antlers to their foreheads and noses on their noses. They were so proud and looked so cute and said, "Mommy, look at our ANTALANTERS!" We still call them that and the picture is one of my all time favorites. That's why I loved this machine embroidery so much! So, I guess today's post is about Christmas present and Christmas past. It's also appropriate because Katie's been reading Dickens' A Christmas Carol at school.
Laurie, if you're reading this, I guess we'll both have an easy time on next week's post. We just have to be sure we don't finish our unfinished Christmas projects. And for me, the project I intend to share next week has been in the works for 17 years!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Davy's Christmas Party Capers

Today we had a Christmas party for Davy and several Kindergarten friends. I planned several easy craft projects that the kids could make as gifts for their family members, as well as lunch and a holiday movie.
 Each child made a star ornament which they decorated and we added a wallet-size school picture in the middle.
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 They each frosted a decorated and tree-shaped cake. I baked them ahead in these disposable pans that I found at Walmart. I gave each child some green frosting and a plate with candies to use for decorations. They had fun with this project and only one kid ate the candies instead of decorating with them!
 I knew Andy's empty baby food jars would come in handy sometime! We gave each child some Epsom salt in a paper cup. They added their choice of food coloring and a spritz of Chantilly perfume and stirred it to make bath salts for their Mom.  The kids wanted the colors really bright, so we had pink, yellow, green, and blue salts. We topped the jars with a circle of fabric.
 I had a bunch of small glass vases in my "stash" from various other projects. I also had some smooth pebbles. I just had to purchase one more vase ($1 at Walmart) and some additional green pebbles and some paperwhite narcissi bulbs. The kids put some pebbles in the vase, added the bulb, and more pebbles to support it. We wrapped them in cellophane with a bow (see the top picture).
 One of the foods at lunch was these little pretzel/chocolate bites. They were a big hit as evidenced by the fact that when Hubby arrived with Andy at the end of nap, they were all gone! To make these, you need the pretzels that look like a tic tac toe board. Spread them out on a cookie sheet and top each one with an unwrapped Hershey kiss. Bake for 5 minutes in a 200 degree oven (the microwave does not work for this). When they come out of the oven, immediately top each one with an M&M. Push it down to make the kiss a nice round shape. Refrigerate till firm. These would be great for a class party, work, Guild meeting, etc.

The other foods were at Davy's request: pizza, chicken nuggets, pigs in a blanket, cheese & crackers, grapes, veggies & dip, and eggnog and cider to drink. We also made homemade gingerbread men and chocolate chip cookies for dessert, but I forgot to take a picture!
I hope this gives you some ideas for some easy, fun kids' crafts to do yourself!
I'm hoping to make Andy's overalls tomorrow, but we have a sickness going through the house, so we'll see. I'll be back on Monday with another "Memory of Christmas Present", linking with Laurie at Southern Stitches. As always, I love to read your comments...so please leave one!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On My Wish List...

I love this doll dress pattern which came out recently at Hint of History! It is called the 1930s Hooverette Dress and fits the American Girl Doll. I love the reproduction 1930s prints available today and I'm interested in that period of history, the setting of my favorite show, the Waltons.
When I saw this pattern, it reminded me of a girl's pattern I have, Miss Mary by the Handmade Dress.

I bought the PDF download a few months ago to make one for Rosie, but unfortunately, it is still on my "to do" list. I think these 2 patterns would make an adorable set for a girl and her doll. Check out both of these designers if you haven't before; you'll find lots of patterns to add to your Wish List, too!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

3 Wise Men of Christmas Past

These 3 banners have been a part of my Christmases since I was a baby! My Mom made these in the 1970s when felt crafts were very popular. I have always loved these on my parents' wall. I am lucky to live near my parents, who still live in the same house we lived in when I was born! We spend Christmas Day at home, then have a second Christmas with my parents on the day after Christmas. I must admit that I almost enjoy that one more, because I am free of the stress of cooking the meal and being responsible for running the festivities. It is a day where I can be a kid again! Back to the story of these banners. I guess I got my love of crafting and sewing from my Mom. She always tried whatever crafts were in vogue at the time, which included things like: wooden geese, tole painting, lamp shades, macrame, cross-stitch, and quilting. My Dad is also creative: I should do a post on the beautiful stained-glass nativity set he fashioned years ago. So, in the 70's we had neighbors who lived 2 houses up the street. The Mom and Dad were friends with my parents and their daughter Karen was my best friend; in fact, we are still friends today and she is Rosie's Godmother! So, Karen's Mom and my Mom decided to make these Wise Men banners from a magazine. They each made a set. It wasn't until I was about 8 that I figured out the funny part of this story. I was used to our Wise Men at Christmastime. The banners are about 3 feet long. I was playing at Karen's house and was surprised to see the same 3 foot long banners hanging on her wall. I was even more surprised that the Wise Men were only 1 foot tall! Maybe you can guess what happened?? Remember "back in the day" when patterns in magazines came drawn on a grid so you could enlarge them (we're talking about the days before PDF files for any young'uns reading this!). Well, Karen's Mom enlarged the banners to the correct scale, but she made a little mistake on the Wise Men. Now, every year when I visit my parents' house and enjoy seeing this banners, I am also reminded of my special friend Karen and the funny circumstances under which they were made. I'm linking this post to Laurie's Christmas Memories at Sew 'n Sew's Journal.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Now Showing...

I'm hoping to work on Andy's overalls tomorrow. I sew at my desk in the kitchen and I have a tiny flip-down TV mounted above my desk. I like to watch DVDs while I sew and my favorite series is The Waltons. But with Christmas fast approaching, I pulled out my seasonal DVDs today. I'd like to share some of my favorites. Maybe you'll find one to watch next time you turn on your sewing machine!

I love the traditional Christmas Carol in its many versions, but have you ever seen An American Christmas Carol? Hubby introduced me to this version, which takes place in NH in the 1930s.

I found The Angel Doll at a yard sale a few years ago.
Only watch this movie if you have a box of tissues nearby. My Mom would call this a "real tear-jerker." It's about a boy who saves up to buy his sickly little sister an angel doll for Christmas because her favorite book is "The Littlest Angel." This is one you'll want to watch every year!

No holiday movie list would be complete without It's A Wonderful Life. No matter that I've seen it dozens of times, I still enjoy it!
And if I get a yearning to get back to the Waltons, there's the pilot for the show, which was a Christmas movie called The Homecoming. Some of the adult actors were different than they later cast on the series, but it's an enjoyable move in its own right.

If you like family dramas set in the "olden days," then give one of these movies a try this holiday season! If one of these is on your "favorites" list, leave me a comment!

This weekend, we will be putting up our Christmas tree, attending several craft/church fairs, and having fun at a Christmas party. If I have energy left, I'll be working on Andy's overalls while I watch one of these movies. I hope you have a fun weekend planned, too!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Shirts for the Boys

My kids are great sports when it comes to having pictures taken. I have always taken lots of pictures myself. Hubby joked that every time we had a new baby, we got a new camera. We bought our first good digital camera before Davy was born. It needed replacement right around the time we found out we were expecting Andy. It took several months to choose our next camera, but we finally went with a Canon Digital SLR. It takes fabulous pictures- the lighting, speed, and resolution are fabulous! Does it surprise you that Hubby had to buy me a terabyte hard drive to store all these digital pictures which are around 8MB each??
I have always had many professional portraits taken, as well. It is so much fun to look back at these and I especially love having pictures of them in the outfits I've made. For Christmas, the picture of all the kids together is the one I use on our Christmas cards. When they were little, I made their outfits. They are still willing to coordinate, but the girls don't like to match anymore. I have had good luck with the "Family Looks" at Gymboree. I can get shirts for all the boys, from Andy right up to Hubby. So, this year I bought 4 of these red plaid shirts. The big boys will wear dress pants with theirs, but for Andy, I'd like to make some corduroy overalls with a machine embroidery on the front. Planning is as far as I've gone with this project! All of my embroidery files are still trapped on the old computer; till it gets fixed, I can't move them to the laptop. The pictures are scheduled for Monday, so I'd better get going. I'm thinking of using a basic overall pattern from the book. Sewing for Baby. I might also borrow an idea that Janice Ferguson shared on her blog and do a button-on embroidered panel, so that I can change it after Christmas.                                                    

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday! I'll be celebrating tonight with my hubby, kids, and parents and we'll share a delicious dinner of chicken marsala (one of our favorites) and pizza and salad (for my finicky boys). My Mom is bringing it, so I have an easy evening for my last night fridge-free.
Yesterday, hubby surprised me with an early present which will make my life in Bloggerland much easier!
Yes, a laptop computer! Which is on my lap, writing this post right now! Hubby tells me it has lots of features, like a card reader for my camera, lots of memory, HDMI, 3 USB ports, etc. I don't understand it all, but I know I'll have fun learning about it and using it!
The best part of this gift is what Hubby went through to get it. He braved the Black Friday sales to be the first in line at 3:50am. Yes, my Hubby who does not like to get up early, got up at 3:30 to be at the store first- in the dark and cold! It's lucky for me that he did, because it turned out the store only had ONE of these laptops available and there were a lot of people in line to get it!

The other fun thing we did yesterday was to see Harry Potter 7 at the dinner-and-a-movie theater near us. It worked out perfectly. My Mom took the kids to MegaMind next door and Hubby and I saw Harry. Halfway through, she brought Andy in to us and he slept through the rest of the movie! I really liked this movie. I am a huge fan of the books and have read each one several times. My complaint with the movies is that they have to leave out some of the details from the books. Because this one is in 2 parts, they were able to remain quite true to the books. The scenes were how I pictured them when I read the books. It was great and the 2 1/2 hours went by in a flash! Have you seen Harry Potter 7 yet? What did you think?
Now that I can download pictures to this computer, I'll be back soon with more Christmas ideas (and hopefully some sewing!)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Davy Overheard

We had two great Thanksgivings this week; one on Sunday with my parents and just our family on Thursday. One of the most fun things we did was to play some "Minute to Win It" games. The kids' favorite, hands-down, was Candy Elevator (see details here). Bad news: still waiting for a new power supply for the computer, so I have limited blogging abilities. Good news: car is fixed and new fridge arrives on Tuesday!

I thought today it would be fun to share a couple of "funnies" from Davy, my son in kindergarten. He is at the age where he is like a sponge for big words. He saves them up to spring on you when you least expect it. Last night, he told me my quilt had "nice texture." He said the baby had a "shocked expression."

 Katie and Davy were watching TV and an anti-smoking commercial came on. Katie explained to Davy that your lungs are pink, but if you smoke, they turn black.

Davy thinks about it for a moment and says, "but...black is better than pink for boys."

Obviously, girl lungs
 Preface: None of my kids like spooky things, especially Zombies.
Story: We were in the car taking Petey (15) to a team meeting. He was talking about a story they read at school and referred to the characters as the "Z creatures." Davy, very proud of his Kindergarten phonics skills, pipes up from the back, "I know what you mean! You mean the Zit Creatures!"
 I've still got several great ideas to share for Christmas, so I'll see you soon!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone in Bloggerland! I made this little shirt for Davy to wear to Kindergarten for his Thanksgiving Feast last week. The embroidery design is from EmbLibrary. I like the various crafts kids can do with hand prints and we've done them all: ghosts, turkeys, Christmas trees, etc. This design is great, too, because it doesn't take forever to stitch with only 15000 stitches and 6 colors.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday tomorrow with family, friends, fun, and lots of delicious dishes!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rosie and Katie Bake for Children

All of my kids like to cook (and eat!). My girls especially love to bake and decorate cakes. They like to watch the shows "Cake Boss," "Ace of Cakes" and "Cake Challenge." We have even had cooking challenges at home. When it comes to cake decorating, I have 2 problems. One is the mess! The other is that we don't need to be eating all that cake! So, Katie recently asked if they could make cakes for Thanksgiving and donate them. We have several worthy organizations near us, but they chose a residential Children's Home that serves kids ages 6-18. Remember that I agreed to this project before my fridge died and before I planned an early Thanksgiving with my parents for this weekend. However, a promise is a promise. That's how we found ourselves running around Friday night for tubs of frosting, piping bags, tips, candy decors, etc. That's also how my car finally died. Luckily, it didn't die until I pulled into the garage. Unluckily, it is going to be $2K to resuscitate it! (It is 10 years old and has been a good car though). Ah, so easy to digress when one has been up since 4:30. Anyway, Saturday was spent baking and decorating cakes. There was much discussion of "dirty icing," the merits of fondant, etc. The girls did a great job and stuck to their end of the deal by cleaning up the kitchen when done. If you drop in to see me, your foot will stick to the floor in one spot, but they did a pretty good job! Obviously, I have figured out how to post photos on the dino-computer, but I have no Photoshop or my other usual tools. Luckily, we have had cold weather, so these are on our porch, ready for delivery tomorrow.
The results:
made by Rosie, age 10
made by Katie, age 12

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Winner of the Light Bulb Ornament...

...is Sarah! Sarah, please email me at

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Smocked Christmas Tree Dress and Little Lederhosen

Hi Friends! I'm back online with limited capabilities, so today I'm sharing 2 outfits that I had already photographed.
This first one is a smocked yoke dress I make for Katie when she was 2. Rosie also wore it and it fit them for 2 years each. It is a red broadcloth with Swiss eyelet trim and is smocked with Christmas Flurries by Terry Jane. This looked so cute on the girls; I'll share a picture another time, when my scanner is up again.

Isn't it nice how a garment you made can bring back a "flurry" of happy memories? For instance, I remember that when Rosie wore this for our Christmas card picture the year she was 2, she was eating a jelly bean that we bribed her with to do the pictures. In fact, we have several pictures with Rosie munching on jellybeans.

This next little outfit is one I purchased while on vacation. It was at a gift shop I have been visiting since I was a little girl. They had acquired a large lot of little boys' suits from about the 1940s. The sister of the boys who wore these suits was in the store while I was there. She was commenting to friends how "sissy" all the outfits were, but of course I loved them! I bought 3 suits and this little Lederhosen is one of them. It is a soft fabric, like a brushed twill. It is about size 5. I'd like to get a picture of Davy in these this year.

I'm linking to Ellie Inspired's Christmas Party this week. Check it out- she's sharing a load of wonderful ideas, stories, recipes, and inspiration for Christmas!

Thanks to everyone for your nice comments this week and if you haven't entered the ornament give away yet, click here to go to that post.

Friday, November 19, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog...

due to technical difficulties.
Mine will be this organized for about 10 minutes.
This week has been interesting, shall we say, and rather expensive. Last Thursday (8 days ago and counting) my refrigerator stopped refrigerating. I had to wait until Tuesday for a repairman. He said it wasn't worth fixing, since it is 8 years old and has had 4 major repairs already. Geez, they don't make 'em like they used to. My Mom and Dad had one fridge from the time I was born till after I got married! Try to imagine packing lunches for school and cooking healthy dinners, for 7 people, with no fridge! So, we managed to find one at a pre-black-Friday sale at Home Depot (picture above). Apparently millions of other people did, too, since they can not deliver it until November 30! I am having my parents here for an early Thanksgiving on Sunday and have to bake dozens of cookies for my son's Team fundraiser today. So, I went out and bought a dorm-size fridge to get us by. It is actually very nice and holds just enough to squeak by.
On Sunday, our phone and internet lines went dead. We thought it might be due to some work we recently had done, but it turned out to be varmints chewing the wires down the road. My Monday post was published by my Mom at work- luckily I had it ready to go. I managed to post Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, on Wednesday afternoon, our computer bit the dust. It was running fine and just shut off. Now, it does nothing. You can't even turn it on. Hubby attached an old one we had in the basement, but I can't load any of my own pictures yet.
I wish this were my car!
Yesterday I stopped to schedule my car's inspection, due this month. As I drove away from the service station, my car started blinking out. It would just go dead for a second and then come back. The check engine and maintenance lights were flashing. Hubby is going to install a new battery. Arrrghhhh.
It has been a lesson in patience and appreciation. I kept thinking of the people of Haiti who would be happy to have a fridge or a car at all. These are such small things. My kids are safe and healthy and life is good this Thanksgiving week.

For all of you who wondered where your comments went, I did finally get to see them. I appreciate you leaving them and am happy to have a few new followers this week. Thank you!

Hopefully, I can figure out a way to post my next Christmas idea later today or tomorrow. See you then- if I don't fall and break my leg today!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quilted Star Ornaments

Today's Christmas idea is a quilted star ornament. Although they look sewn, they are actually made by folding and pinning squares of fabric. The first one you make can take a little time to figure out spacing and technique, but subsequent balls are easy. I made about 20 of these last year, when I was suffering pregnancy queasies. They are a nice addition to cookie trays, presents, teacher's gifts, or ornament swaps. The tutorial can be found here:
Quilted Star Ornament Directions

You will need:
  • a 3 inch Styrofoam ball
  • (16 of each of 3 different fabrics) 2.5 inch squares
  • 1 foot lace or ribbon
  • Lots of straight pins with flat heads (about 200 per ornament)
  • Hot glue
 I bought my pins at Walmart in the pack of 500. You want the cheapest metal ones with the tiny head. These are a fun project to work on while watching TV or listening to music. Give it a try! Check back tomorrow for another great Christmas Idea. Linking to Ellie Inspired's Christmas Party.
You still have until Saturday to enter a comment here for my give away!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Scrumptious Toffee Candy Recipe & Sweet Cocoa Onesie

Today I'm sharing one of my family's favorite Christmas recipes. It is toffee with chocolate, similar to a Heath candy bar, but even more delicious! This is one of those recipes that looks much more impressive than it is and everyone loves it! It is great for parties, cookie trays for friends or coworkers, school parties, teachers' gifts, etc. Just be sure to save some for yourself (and hide it- because an open box is an empty box). I'm linking to Ellie Inspired's Christmas Party this week!
1 stick Land o'Lakes salted butter (do not use cheap brands- they separate because the fat content is different)
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup slivered almonds (no skin)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Before you start cooking, have a large cookie sheet on the counter ready to receive the finished candy.
1. Melt the butter in a large skillet (not non-stick). Add the sugar and stir continuously over high heat.
2. Add the almonds and continue stirring- maybe for about 5 minutes.
3. The toffee will develop a golden color as it cooks. When it's a caramel color, quickly take it off the heat and spread it in a thin layer on the cookie sheet (spread with a wooden spoon).
4. Once the toffee is spread out, pour the chips on top.
5. They will melt in a few minutes from the residual heat of the toffee. Just use your wooden spoon to keep smoothing the chocolate over the toffee.
6. Almost done...keep spreading the chocolate until it is totally smooth.
7. Put the cookie sheet in the fridge for an hour or so, then break the hardened toffee into chunks. Warning: you will be addicted to this delicious candy!

And if you need a little something to wash it down, how about some sweet hot cocoa?
I embellished this long-sleeve onesie for Andy. The cute cocoa design is from 5 Star Fonts. I used felt for the whipped cream to make it fluffy. 
Don't forget to enter my give away, here.