Thursday, December 29, 2011

Today I've been...

Rearranging furniture. Because sometimes a girl just needs a change of scenery :)
Drinking coffee while reading:

And quilting. More on this project later :)

When I put this all in blog form, it looks like such a peaceful little day! But, in reality, this was all done in the midst of post-Christmas arguing kids, a mess of new toys, one kid chasing the others with his new toy gun, while screaming and running around and around the kitchen/family room/living room/dining room in a circle over and over and over.

Good thing I have some new music to listen to in the midst of all the chaos. Have you heard of Audrey Assad?? I am realllly loving her music!

I dig her glasses. I really need new glasses. I've had the same pair since I was preggie with Kelby. But anyway, I bought her album and love the whole thing. My cousin and I gave each other iTunes gift cards for Christmas--same amount and everything, ha! Kinda funny :)

What have you done today?? Is the end of Christmas break looming for you like it is for me??

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


My friend Jenn and I worked together on Christmas gifts for each of our girls this year (she has two, I have two). Actually, her part was more involved than mine because she made these amazing dolls and I just made the clothes!
Aren't these amazing????  Natalie had spotted this pattern online once while I was browsing and I already had this pattern and had been wanting to make it for Layla for awhile.  My to-do list was so crazy long before Christmas, though, that I knew I wouldn't have time. SO, Jenn said she'd make the dolls if I'd make the clothes for her girls and mine and since I love making cute little doll clothes, I agreed!

Natalie's doll in the Raggedy Ann pattern, but with brown hair to match her own:
And Layla's is this one, although, you'll notice Jenn used the hair idea from the above pattern to add hair to this baby doll so she looks like more of a kid doll. Brilliant!
I'm thinking maybe the pets and some more clothes for birthdays this year would by fun! 

The girls really like these. Natalie said it was her favorite present and they both brought their dolls to church on Sunday. Thanks, Jenn :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Making Merry

Christmas Eve, 6 p.m:

Christmas Day, 3 p.m:
And LOTS of merriment in between :)

Hope your Christmas was as great as ours!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmasy things

There are a few Christmas things I'm enjoying this week! So, I wanted to share a little list :) It might also be because I haven't taken many pictures lately, so this is a way I can post photos from around the web without having to take my own, ha!

First off, my sister got me a gift set of Harney & Sons Christmas teas for my birthday. I LOVE it. My new favorite, by a long shot. I'll miss it when I'm out and jump to buy some when it comes out next Christmas!
You can buy Harney & Sons tea at Barnes and Noble.

Next, this quickly became a daily read after I bought it about a month ago:
Who doesn't love a book you can sing?? Kelby's favorite, he loves it. But, I knew he would because he also loves Ten in the Bed :)

Third, I absolutely must give a shout out to my friend Jennica, of Bow-Crazy Hairbows!!! She makes SO many great things. I can't resist these things. She brought me over my Christmas bow order today. (I stole these photos from the Bow-Crazy Facebook page, which you should visit and like right now!) I got a few of these snowmen, but mine are girls--they have bows :)
And, some Christmas trees:
And...... who could resist these as stocking stuffers for little girls???
Irresistable, I'm tellin' ya.

Oh, and just for Kelby (don't worry, it's not a bow, it's a pin), she made Buzz...
SO CUTE! Send some business her way, okie doke?? You can't go wrong, they're all adorable. By the way, there are plenty of bow-shaped bows and curly cue bows, in all colors and all sizes. I have a huge collection to prove it, ha!

Ok, last but not least, have you heard of the Piano Guys?? They're so much fun to watch and listen to. The kids and I have watched this one over and over lately:


Saturday, December 17, 2011

quick beaded Christmas necklace tutorial

Have you learned by now, that when I say I will post something "tomorrow", I almost always mean to say, "in a day or two"?  Well, now ya know.

My mom very generously bought all of her grandkids Christmas outfits while we were in Washington last week! We found some great things at Crazy 8 and while we were there I saw some pretty cute necklaces that I wanted to try to replicate for my girls. These are them:
So, I bought some beads and got to work. Making the bow and making it look nice and making it stay, however, proved to be more difficult than I expected, so I decided to just use ribbon and do my own thing. I think they turned out pretty cute!
So, here's what you need:

I got a little thing of the string beads at JoAnn for 2.50. It was more than enough for two necklaces and looked like this:

Cut three strands of beads about 36" each. Then, double it over and pinch the ends, making 14 or 15 inch long necklace. It needs to be big enough to fit over the child's head, obviously. Then, take a piece of thread, double it and use it to secure the strands together, like so:

Pretty simple. Trim those thread ends close and then cut some pieces of ribbon, long enough to have some extra to play with. Layer them and lay them under your knot. Put a dot of hot glue on the bottom of the beads to secure them to the ribbon.
Go ahead and tie your bow after this. After I got it how I wanted it, I used the glue gun on a few spots to make sure it stayed put.
Trim your bead ends when you're done. One last step: To keep the strands from getting messy and tangled, pinch the strands at the top of the necklace and wrap a small piece of ribbon around it, hot gluing it in place.
You're done! Enjoy :)

While I was on Crazy 8's site to get the link, I saw this necklace too:
So cute! Maybe I'll try this one next :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

when the mess is just too much ... take pictures of it!

So, it didn't take long after our vacation to get back to frantic reality. Today was pretty relaxing, thankfully, because I refused to let myself believe I needed to go anywhere. I folded laundry, had a friend over, worked on my Christmas list for Casey (Amazon makes this oh, so easy) and made the girls some fun necklaces to match their Christmas dresses.

Yesterday was not so relaxing. I was really letting the mess get to me. There are a few things that snap me out of a foul mood, though! One of them is taking pictures :) So, rather than whine about the mess, I took pictures of it. And, you know what?? Through a camera lens, it looks like quite a happy mess, don't you agree??

When I'm standing in the middle of it, all I can see is the work involved in cleaning it up. But, when I really put it in perspective, these are the messes that make our home a happy one--Natalie has created paintings (and wrapped them) for every family member five times over. Kelby and Layla have been playing together a lot lately (hence, the mess of cars up there) and the laughter is soooo much fun to listen to. And, who doesn't love the mess that comes with making Christmas gifts for little ones?? A happy mess, indeed.

Tomorrow, I'll have a little tutorial for those necklaces I mentioned. Here's a sneak preview:

Alrighty, I'm about to go do some Christmas shopping and then make a huge mess of wrapping paper and ribbon! Gonna be fun :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Home Again!

We spent last week in Washington state with my sister and bro-in-law, their five kiddos and my parents. It was SO much fun and, as it turns out, just what we needed. This was our first major road trip with three kids and it went surprising well. We spent 7 nights in a hotel room and that went well too! But, what makes vacations even better, is that it's always so nice to come home. After a week away, I am re-inspired in so many ways.

I'll have plenty to share in the coming days, but for now, until I get my pictures straightened out and stuff, I'll leave you with this:

Ah, the strange things you see at gas stations in the Middle-of-Nowhere, Wyoming. Does anyone else feel like Wyoming is pretty much ALL the middle of nowhere??? Just me????

Friday, December 2, 2011

When Casey's out of town...

...something always seems to go hilariously wrong. Here's my facebook status from about an hour ago:

So. After unrolling (another) entire roll of TP in the bathroom, Kelby locked the door, closed it behind him and went back to bed. I CANNOT GET IT OPEN! I've removed the doorknob and still can't open it. Then, when I came down to look up more info on how to open a locked door, I went back upstairs to discover him locked in MY room! He was helping himself to my lotion and contact solution. ARGH! I know this will be funny someday. Right!?

I tell ya, this kid takes mischievous to a whole new level! And, in case you're wondering ... the bathroom is still locked and without a doorknob. For once, Google did not give me what I needed, ha! Casey will have to deal with that when he gets back tomorrow--the kids will need baths, after all :)

In other news, I bought this song on iTunes today, after seeing the video:

Annnnd, THIS is my new favorite Christmas post ever. I've noticed an inadvertent eye roll feelings of inadequacy on my part lately when I read other bloggers' fabulous Christmasy crafts/doings/handmade advents/over-the-top cookie-making. And then, someone is willing to show us reality and remind us to embrace ours! Thank you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The stockings were hung

I read on someone's blog some advice this morning: Make your Christmas to-do list and then ... slash it in half. GREAT advice. I came to the same epiphany last week. I was putting a whole lot of expectations on myself (especially gift making) and while they were all good intentions, I was becoming a stressed-out mess. That is certainly not what this season is about! So, I gave myself a break. There are a few gifts that are not going to get made this year, but that's okay, there's always next year :)  For now, I'm only going to do the things that bring me and my family joy this Christmas! I want to have my family over and cook Christmas dinner (on Christmas Eve). That brings me joy! I'm working on some doll clothes and I love making little cute, scrappy doll clothes! Kelby needs a super cape, for sure. Picturing him running around in it definitely brings me joy. I want to focus on the advent and truly teach the kids the Christmas story and about God's grace. That will bring the most joy of all, for sure! (They are very into "the Jesus story" right now. I've caught them playing shepherds and such several times in recent weeks). Everything else can be skipped.

Anyway, we decorated for Christmas on Saturday. We have a new little tree and it was Kelby's turn to put the star on. He talked about it for days :)

What fun is a new Christmas tree if you don't make an airplane out of the box??

It's so much fun to see my stockings and Christmas quilt again! This may be the coziest quilt I've ever made. It's huge and backed with soft, heavy-weight gingham, I think that's why. It sure does make me happy :)

Kelby's out with my dad to see some big tractors today! Can't wait to hear all about it :) Then, later, I'll be toting the kids to the Christmas choir practice (for our homeschool co-op). I'll be using the time to knock out some hand sewing.

Annnnnd, the rough housing upstairs has turned to crying, so I'm out :) Cheers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Crochet, patterns, books and my famous dad

Oh, my goodness, there have been so many things I want to blog about and as much as I would love to be a daily blogger, let's face it--it's a busy time of year! So, I'm going to combine it all in one post :)

First off, it's been awhile since I've crocheted anything, it seems, but now that I am in that phase of life where I occasionally cart kids someplace only to sit until practice or class is over (no complaining about the sitting, I love it. I rarely get to sit :), I started this project and toted it along to work on whenever I could. Before long, I had this...
It's an infinity scarf. One big loop, so you can wear it like a cowl. It's mine, not Natalie's, but since she had it on, I let her model it for the picture--she's a beautiful model, too :) And now, she wants one too. A yellow one. And because she wants one, Layla wants one. Guess i have something to do on our coming road trip! Oh, I used this pattern and it was just lovely.

My JoAnn finally got the new McCall's patterns and since my mom was going while they were on sale this week, I asked her to pick up these three for me:
How fabulous is that Denise Schmidt quilt!? So excited. And, can you see the top right view on the apron pattern? It has a tool belt. I want to make all three kids aprons for Christmas and I have a great girlie apron pattern, but this one is perfect for Kelby. The skirt pattern is going to be great, I think. I do not like the saddle bag view--I don't know who would want to add ten pounds to each hip, but whatev.

Next up, did you know that thrift stores and consignment stores are the absolute best place to get kids' books?? Well, it's true. My consignment store has a book club--I get one free book per month per kid! Last time, I walked away with 8 books for $6. Not bad. Last night, I went to Savers, my favorite thrift store and came home with quite a load...
This isn't all. There are four more that were in the hands and laps of little ones when I took this picture :)  The Children's Books of Virtues and the Children's book of Faith are in new condition. So are some of the others. And, how awesome is the 1970 edition of the Richard Scary Mother Goose book?? Savers has kids books from .79-$1.99. Plus, for every 4, you get one free. AND, I had a 20% off coupon from a previous donation. Good deal. I see lots of homeschooling unit study and read aloud possibilities in this stack :)

Finally and probably the coolest part of this post!!! My Dad is in a video on Youtube!!! I love this video! It is SO much fun to see where he lives and works in Mongolia and to see him in action. Start looking for him right at 2 minutes. He's in a classroom and in front of an overhead screen. He's in it again towards the end and it's easy to spot him because I think he may be the only American face in there. And if you have little boys, they will love this, it's crammed full of tractors :)


Friday, November 18, 2011

Well, Hello, Pretty Ladies

I am done with my ornaments with time to spare! We are spending Thanksgiving with Casey's family a few hours away and I really wanted to take all their Christmas gifts with me. Then, we are traveling to spend a week with my family 18 hours away in the beginning of December, so I really needed to be done with my Christmas shopping and sewing early this year! Let me tell ya, it feels good!! But, anyway, I am SO HAPPY with how these little Matryoskas turned out!! They look so adorable staring up at me from their box :)
This is the one I'm keeping...
I've ordered pictures and bought wrapping paper. Now all I have to do is having my little wrapping party!! One of my favorite parts, for sure :) After our trip in December, I get to sew a few things for my own kidds--doll clothes, Barbie clothes and a super cape is on the list. Plus an apron for each if there's time!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints

My lovely Aunt Teddi has subscribed me to Everyday Food for my birthday again this year. My favorite food magazine by far and also my most used recipe collection! My Christmas edition arrived last week and as I was perusing it yesterday, I came upon this recipe, thought it looked good, noticed I had all the ingredients on hand and tried it out!
This is a keeper! Casey really loves these cookies and he is a picky cookie-lover. Consistency is everything to him and he think these are perfect. Also, many chocolate-chocolate cookies are soooo overly sweet, but these are not like that! Here's the recipe:

Chocolate-peppermint thumbprints
Makes 4 dozen


2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup each butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine. 
  2. Place 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in sugar to coat. Place balls, 1 inch apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 5 minutes. Remove sheets from oven; with the small end of a melon baller or the bottom of a small round measuring spoon make an indentation in center of each cookie. 
  3. Bake until cookies are just set but still look moist, 4 minutes (do not overbake). Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
  4. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips and 1/4 cup butter in 10-second increments until melted; stir in peppermint extract. Let cool until thick enough to pipe, 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large zip-top bag; snip 1/4-inch hole in one corner. Pipe chocolate into cookie indentations. Store in airtight containers, up to 1 week. 


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cynthia Rowley succeeds again

I made this dress at least a month ago and it's been sitting in my closet ever since! I wasn't sure I loved it, but I pulled it out and tried it on this morning and decided it's a keeper after all! I was hesitant about the higher neckline, but I really love the cute details on the sleeves and the tie in the back. I'm a sucker for a cute back :)

Here's the pattern envelope:
This is the third success I've had with the Cynthia Rowley pattern line. Then again, I did have one major flop (it was this pattern and I would NOT recommend it unless you want to construct the most ridiculously complicated dress you've ever made only to find out the bodice lining piece was drafted WRONG!) For the most part, though, I think I can trust the lines of her dresses to look good on my body type. I think I might try the flutter sleeve version of this in the summer. I don't know about the long sleeved, though. I think with the high neckline, there would just be too much coverage and may swallow me up. You can check my site (link in the sidebar) later for the review if you want. Surely I'll have a chance to write it today ;)

Friday, November 11, 2011

What to do with candy

A few years ago, I went through a period of completely eliminating sugar. It was beneficial in ways I can't even begin to tell you in one blog post! The women in my family are prone to hypoglycemia and later in life, diabetes, and my daughter Natalie and I are particularly sensitive to sugar. However, over the last year, I have loosened up a little bit in this area. In the spirit of practicing moderation in all things, I think it's fine and even good to enjoy sweet treats! Also, the older the kids get, the more difficult it is to take control of what they receive at certain places (like at church, for holidays, etc...) and the less likely they are to forget about it once it's in the house!

So, rather than make myself crazy trying to keep sugar completely out, I decided to let it go in some ways.  Add this to the list of reasons why I'm glad we homeschool! We can eat very healthfully here at home! And, when we eat sugar, it can be on purpose, because I can make sure it's not a secret ingredient in our salad dressing, our canned fruit, our bread, etc...! We can keep only milk and water around and eat actual fruit instead of juice from concentrate!

Okay, that was a long intro into what I really wanted to share :)  This is what I did with our Halloween candy from our church party this year:

I've been trying to teach Natalie about money, so I divided up the candy into three tubs, each with a different price tag and opened Mommy's Candy Store.  Every day after lunch, we have a "10 minute tidy", then each kid gets five pennies. This is enough for two small things or one big thing. (Notice I didn't make a 1 cent tub--I didn't want anyone to have 5 pieces at one time!) They are lovin' this. I think I'll stock up on dollar store items and more healthy treats and then I'll be able to teach some of the larger coins too. This could turn into quite a little store :)

Change of subject, but that brown bookshelf up there was given to me recently for more of our books and homeschool stuff (thank you Maggie!) and it's begging me daily for a makeover.
I'm thinking something like this...
(Repinned from Miranda Giles on Pinterest). 

Watcha think?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Can one really have too much fabric?

I had a very successful trip to JoAnn today! I have to be cryptic because most of the fabrics I bought are for gifts, so I'm not going to share. This week's ad had a killer coupon, though. All the cottons are already on sale and Simplicity patterns are only 99 cents, PLUS there is a 25% off your entire purchase coupon! That expires today, but this week is also military appreciation week, so the military gets 20% off everything! Yay! 

Last week, I bought some beautiful clearance fabrics and this one just screams Fall, so I had to make this up before getting a move on with the Christmas sewing. I made a simple dress out of it with Butterick 5438, my standby basic dress pattern. 
I took this picture before church. After church, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized I wasn't wearing any mascara. ACK!

I saw this fabric on someone else's blog this last week:

This is just too adorable, I can't stand it! We love matroyshkas! I must have this! My JoAnn didn't have it, but it's on sale online for pretty cheap, so I will absolutely be ordering a couple yards. Have no idea what I'll do with it. 

Some more fabrics you can be sure I'll buy some of -- Ed Emberly!!!!

We have several of his drawing books (the thumbprint one might be our fave) and I just love these fabrics!!! Due out in February, I believe, from Cloud9 Fabrics. Can't wait! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

speaking of organizing things...

...check out what I made for our school supplies!
It's made out of an ice cream bucket! Clever, right? The pattern is this one...
I'm pretty sure this pattern has been in the catalog almost my entire life. I actually remember it as a kid, but it gets overlooked because the styling is a bit dated :) The view on the top left is out of a five gallon bucket! If you adjusted the pockets, don't you think that could make an awesome Barbie case? Each doll gets a pocket and all the clothes go in the bucket! And, easy to carry around too.

Now that I've made one and we are already finding it so handy, the possibilities are endless. So far, keeping all the supplies in one place is really easing the after school or random card-making mess. And it's pretty enough to remain a permanent fixture in the middle of our big table :) I even toted it to our homeschool co op today because we are always needing more scissors, glue and markers in my little ancient history and crafts class.

I thought about making a few for gifts too, but then I realized how much ice cream we would need to eat in the next several weeks. Ha!