Monday, September 27, 2010

yep, already!

Christmas is coming, people! Don't worry, before you go thinking I'm all on the ball and everything, this is the absolute only thing I've made for Christmas.  I make a different ornament every year.  You may remember these boots, or these birds, or these cupcakes.  This year, I'm going with this little guy:
Suuuuper cute.  I'm going to make about 25 or so out of some of these beautiful Heather Bailey fabrics. The pattern is in the Sew Sunny Homestyle book if you want to check it out.

On to a more season-appropriate topic :)  I have a LOT of Halloween costumes to make this year, yikes! Layla wants to be Minnie Mouse, Natalie a fairy, Casey Obi Wan and Kelby is going to be Yoda.  I think I'm going to be a clown.  I like this pattern, although I'll make the dress a little longer, so I'll be church-party appropriate :)

Here's the one Natalie likes.  She wants the white one on the bottom right because she loooves things that go down to her toes :)
For the others, I'm going to piece different patterns together and make them up as I go.  I know it seems like a lot of work, but I LOVE making costumes! And, I always get more use out of the kids' costumes.  Both the cupcakes are spoken for for this year and the clown costume got three years out of it, by three different kids.  And, the girls wear dress-up clothes more than regular clothes, so it all seems worth it :)

Back to Christmas, though, we could use advice:  do you try to save up a chunk of money to spend at Christmas, or do you buy one gift every week or so for the few months beforehand? Do you keep gift lists for everyone? We've been managing money very carefully since Casey got a job and just want to make sure we avoid over-spending on Christmas due to lack of planning.  So, thoughts, tips?? 

Monday, September 20, 2010

One for the bookworms

Here's what's on our current reads shelf lately. What's on yours??

  1. Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists--I love this book.  I spotted it at Barnes & Noble recently and had a coupon, so had to buy it.  I bought it for a relaxing activity for myself, and love sitting on my rocking chair on the front porch with my sketch book while the kids play in the yard, but the girls and I have some fun together with it too.  Very fun projects in here, whether you're good at drawing or not!  I think the key point in this book is that you don't have to be great at drawing to enjoy it. 

2. What is a Family? This is another winner by Edith Schaeffer.  I loved her book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking a few years ago and I love this one just as much so far.  Great read for women. Both these books are out of print, but you can order them used on Amazon like I did. 

3. Grace Based Parenting--I mentioned I was reading this a few weeks ago, but I've finished it now and can say that it was rather life-changing for me. It not only revolutionized how I think about my children, it changed how I think about God's feelings toward me.  I am really, really glad I read this one. A little disclaimer, though--if you, as a parent tend to err on the side of leniency, please read this book with careful discernment.  However, if you have to fight against harshness, anger or frustration, like I do, this book is for you!

4. The Reading Lesson--This is the book I chose to teach Natalie to read this year.  I really like it and it's working really well.  Within the first few days, she could read several words and the lessons coincide almost perfectly with the fabulous B.O.B. books. It was a good choice and I'll definitely use it for the other two kiddos when the time comes!

5. Little Women--I have really been enjoying this book, although I read it when I was a kid and of course, I've seen the movie.  There's nothing like a good classic!  I have a nice little collection of these Barnes & Noble Classics, thanks to my mother-in-law and Casey last Christmas.  They look so pretty, all matchy-matchy and stacked on my book shelf :)  I can't wait until the girls are old enough for me to read Little Women out loud to them--and Anne of Green Gables and all of Jane Austen, obviously ;)  And I hope Kelby will like The Count of Monte Cristo when he's older, one of my favorites! Since I liked that one so much, I started Dumas's The Three Musketeers and gave it about 120 pages before I gave up on it.  I think I'd have to have a Master's degree in French history to make any sense of it.  Oh, well, I don't have to like them all, right?

Happy reading! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

a week, really???

I realize it's been a week since I last posted, eek! I have quite a few things I want to share, but I have been busy lately! So, instead of sitting down to write out a long "like list", I'm just going to have to do this in little snippets.  First off, I am loving this song by Sugarland.  However, the video is realllllly weird.  Kinda funny, but weird.  Still, a great song, though.

Also, something the girls have really been enjoying are these printable Besty McCall paper dolls.  My mom says she remembers collecting these as a kid.  You can print every single month of these from the 50's through the 90's.  Super cool.  I even printed some on card stock and put them in with my niece's birthday present.  There ya go, frugal gift idea :)
Actually, here is a whole page of printable paper doll resources at Marilee's Paperdoll Page.  Have fun!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bits and Pieces

I keep waiting to post pics of what we've done in the house because I keep waiting for entire rooms to get done.  But, it takes time and money and we are moving along pretty slowly.  So, I took some pictures of corners, bits and pieces that we're proud of for now and want to share with you.  First up, one of our most-used rooms, the dining room.  Here's a before picture of this room:
(Yep, this carpet was throughout the bottom floor covering up really beautiful wood floors. We removed all that :)  Here's a bit of what we've done:
See that chandelier I showed you a looong time ago that I spray-painted? Here's a better pic:
The kids and I spend a lot of time here, me to do school work, them to make paper dolls and such and now we sit here to home school (which is going great, by the way!)  Oh, and of course to eat too :)  It's good that this room is so bright and cheery. Our view is beautiful too, it's nothing but gorgeous old trees outside that window!

On to the family room.  This room has undergone the biggest transformation.  When we moved in, it was covered in wood paneling and wall-to-wall drapes on the previously unused sliding door.  Like this:

We removed all the paneling, retextured and painted the walls.  A LOT of work, but it was soooo worth it.  Here's the one half of the room that's done (I promise to show you the fireplace side very soon!)

I'm very happy with how this looks now.  This room doesn't get a whole lot of sunshine, so the lighter colors made a huge different in here.  I struggle with arranging wall art, though, so hopefully this looks all right--I agonized over it for weeks.  Our good friends the Glens sent us that beautiful original artwork in the big frame up there as a housewarming gift and we absolutely love it.  The other thing I reallllly love is this awesome clock:
Casey's Grandma Kate made this clock and signed it on the back, Katie S. 1967.  I'm in love.  I never met her, (she passed away years ago) but I have inherited several boxes of her craft supplies and we would have been kindred spirits, I just know it. 

Okay, so I don't have any very good before pictures of this wall in our bedroom, but we painted the entire room a pretty green color, replaced the vast yardage of lace curtains with wooden blinds and pretty valances and hung a few things up in there.  I saw this jewelry/frame idea in a magazine a long time ago and put it in my house notebook to copy.  I love how this turned out:
I tried forever to get the colors right in these pictures, but I was having a hard time, shooting right into that window.  Ah, well.  

We are loving this place, we just can't get enough :) We are doing the work one paycheck at a time and we've surprised ourselves several times about how frugally we can get things done with a little patience and a lot of searching (thrift stores, Craigslist, and relatives' basements, haha). 

More pics to come over the next few weeks! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

making progress

I have begun the hand quilting on Natalie's quilt.  I know, hand quilting the entire thing makes me sound crazy.  But, I like to keep my hands busy in the evenings while we watch TV anyway, so it's going pretty far as hand quilting goes, anyway ;)
See that pretty star in the middle?  It's exactly like the picture in the book and that's really what I love about the quilting.  It would be challenging on the machine and I find machine quilting somewhat stressful as is it, so that's what led me to go ahead and hand quilt it. Natalie's so excited, but she's being sooo patient too, which is good.
Now, I need thimble advice.  I do not like any thimble that I've tried, but all of them have been hard and not flexible.  I bought some of those stick-on types, but I expected them to be soft and they're hard plastic so the needle just slides right off of it.  It's very annoying.  My finger really hurts after awhile, though, so I need something.  Has anyone tried the soft leather thimbles?? Until then, a band-aid works better than anything else I've tried :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

told ya...

...a lot of my friends are pregnant!
These are my two oldest friends, Becky (on the left) and Melissa (in the middle).  Our families got together the other night and played some bocce ball and some poker while the kiddos played and stayed up way past their bed times :) It was fun. It always is, because there is something so easy and comforting about being with old friends.  They just love you how you are.  

Becky is the friend I told you about that is having a girl, yay! I told you I had a lot of girl projects I wanted to try and this was one of them:
Sooooo much fun, I just couldn't wait to give it to her :)  I'll have to make more things for the baby shower later on :)  I really like this little headband and I totally made the pattern up myself!! So proud, I didn't think I could do anything like that.  I will try and get it typed out and maybe post a pattern for it here IF anyone expresses interest in the comments. I would love to share :)

Casey has had a 4-day weekend (gotta love the military), so we are getting a lot of family time in (although today that family time finally made him aware of why I don't take our kids grocery shopping ;)  I hope your week is going swell!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gender neutral

I have a LOT of expecting friends right now.  Usually when this happens, I am right there expecting as well, but no more! It's kinda fun, everyone being pregnant but me.  It makes gifting more fun, that's for sure.  I have been to two baby showers in the last few weeks and neither mama knows what they are having, so I had to get a little more creative with the gift giving.  Here's what I came up with :)
These are my go-to baby gift, but in a perfectly gender-neutral fabric. I cannot believe how great this fabric works for both genders!!  I got this fabric at the Fancy Tiger downtown, you may remember me talking about it here.  I eeked out two pair of these cuties from what I had left.
The bottoms are pretty cute too :)

Then, for my friend Melissa, I got out some bamboo yarn (really soft :) and made this little hat:
I went ahead and made the flower, but didn't attach it, hence the long tails.  I told her if it's a girl, I'll put it on there for her.  If it's a boy, I guess I could turn it into hair clip for Kinsley, the cute big sister :)

Something else I love giving as baby gifts!
Must have for every new mama in my opinion. If you split the cost of this one (like two friends and I did), it's a great gift for less than $10.  Actually, I would recommend anything by Dr. Sears and there is plenty in the series to choose from.  The Fussy Baby Book was sent to me by divine Providence (I truly believe that!) when Natalie was a baby.  It was a lifesaver and made me feel like it wasn't just me; some babies just defy the rules! Also, I recently finished reading The NDD Book.  Very enlightening and reaffirming of why our family eats the way we do.  Good kid recipes in the back too! Except the crock pot oatmeal.  That did not work for me. (As in, I had oatmeal gushing out, spilling onto the counter and in huge globs on the floor by morning.)

I am SO excited that my other pregnant friend Becky found out today that she is having a girl!!!!!  She has two boys already, so we are all very thrilled about this news! AND, I finally get to make some of the cute baby girl things I've been seeing around! Mmmmm, thinking about it makes me want to get started :)