Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A (kind of) handmade Christmas

I had a million ideas for handmade Christmas gifts for Alex swimming around in my head, and ended up getting two of them finished.  No matter, he certainly had enough to open and seemed to really understand Santa this year.  One of them (if you can even call it handmade) was not his favorite to open (not so showy and not easy to just jump in and use it), but we certainly had fun with it today.


A quick web search led me here, so I chose my favorites and then added in this, plus supplies for this, and this, (most of which we has around the house...all I bought were the containers, a new box of food coloring--because coloring liquids adds interest to all experiments--and goggles--because goggles add interest to everything).


Today, since we had no power and it's way too cold to go outside, we got down to business.  Raisin and bubble business, that is.  As a former teacher, I know I should have tried the experiment ahead of time...since I didn't, I'm glad I didn't tell him what was going to happen, because...no dice.  It certainly makes sense that carbonation would carry the raisin to the top of the glass, but there was just a mighty fizzing action and that was it.  No matter, it was still pretty impressive.

watching the raisin

As was the food coloring action.

blue plus yellow makes green

And no, we did not use beer...but we did learn that yellow plus blue makes green.

Tomorrow, or the next day, a 2009 recap and some goals 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

a wintry breakfast

Banana pancakes from the freezer + a paper towel, scissors, strainer, & powdered sugar =


 They seem to have been a hit.

I'm looking forward to a wonderful day with family tomorrow, some relaxing and a little selfish crafting over the weekend, and sharing some of the rest what we've been up to around here sometime early next week.

Wishing everyone a joyous Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

you know it's winter when...

you've used up the last of the freezer jam.  Or so the saying goes.  Or something like that.

You also know it's winter when, nine days before Christmas, you have a bunch of presents that have to be sewn, painted, and glued, and all you want to do is knit.  Very cool presents, to be sure, but wouldn't it be cozier and less complicated to be toting one ball of yarn and two needles, and making one of these?

Or one of these?

Or two of these?

I feel a new year's resolution forming.  Or something like that.

Because a pictureless post is boring (I say that a lot, don't I?), and I haven't gotten up the gusto to photograph the awesome fabric I got in the mail recently (well, I guess I sort of did)...or the ten beautiful ornaments that we have been so enjoying (Alex claimed the adorable gingerbread house in an instant; I may never get it back!)...or the eleven five-minute gift card holders I made for (group) teacher gifts at preschool--just kidding, I did photograph those!--

I'm including this.  When your husband is slaving away on your basement remodel and the power has to go out in one half of the house, your child will have to watch TV since it gets dark at 4:30 these days and you can't play in the living room.  But, somehow, these two things will still have power:

 A pre-Christmas miracle.  Or something like that.

Monday, December 14, 2009


is how it's shaking around here.  A little making, lots of going and doing.  And strep throat.  And good packages.  More on most of that in a couple of days.

Fire it up, antibiotics!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

the surprise pillow, unveiled

Not only is it "the surprise", but it's also called "the surprise pillow"--just call me the double entendre explainer.

It all turned out OK, but there was some stress at our house the night before SMS Giveaway Day.  The book gift bag was giving me trouble, but I wanted something more substantial than just the gift card holder & supplies...and at about 9:00, "the surprise" came to me.

Thankfully, my saner self took over and I decided not to try to make it that night.  And then I figured out my issue with the book bag, thought of the giving theme, and wrote my post, and all was right in the world.

Once that was done, I had to switch gears back to the blanket, but on Monday I was ready to get back to my sewing machine.  Another bit of stress when I washed it (a reminder to always press seams toward the darker fabric, lest the wet, transparent lighter fabric with red peeking through give the illusion of a fabric bleed, thereby inducing a heart attack), but a little QT with the seam ripper and I was back in business.

Excuse the photo quality; we've had gray dreariness and snow.  It's cuter than it looks here.

Simple, simple.  The front is one tree (à la this quilt) and one tiny maverick star block (I started out with 1 /38" squares), with creamy muslin elsewhere.  I am officially in love with the maverick star block.

I adore the quilting (inspired by this quilt), but the back is where it's at.  I love this print so much that I just ordered more, and so didn't even flinch when I used it for the top panel and the pocket. 

The pocket is the giving part.  The point of the pillow is that it's a secret place to leave surprises in your house for small people (or bigger ones, I suppose!)--a (wrapped, please!) chocolate, a silly note, a penny.  Nothing big, and not necessarily just at Christmas time (I have a whole slew of other-seasoned surprise pillows floating around in my mind), just a little, secret, I'm thinking of you message for someone special.

And that button!

Since there's no way I'm going to finish that quilt before Christmas (a side benefit to making this project, my first quilting endeavor--and man, am I hooked on that now!--, is that I realize that I really do need a walking foot; good thing this guy is little or he'd be pucker central), I think I'll carve out some time to make one for our house.  It'll ease the pain of sending this one away (at least it's going to a good home!), and I know a three-year-old who would love nothing more than scouting for surprises in pockets.  That darling boy of mine!

Monday, December 07, 2009

to the Christmas tree patch! (and a winner, too...)

Really, to the Christmas tree farm, but when you're three years old and your last u-pick-it experience was here,

in June,

it's the Christmas tree patch to you.

We really had to earn it--a tollway bottleneck (but don't worry!  It's the best road construction project of 2009!), a just-as-slow alternate route, and a missed-sign-induced backtrack--but by the time we got there, we had the place all to ourselves.

Tools of the trade:

Cutting it down (it didn't take long at all!):

Following Daddy back to get it bagged up:

A small disappointment because the popcorn machine wasn't up and running, but they did have a much healthier snack (kidding!  But he did love them.  Who remembers this bag from the 80s?), and a juice box is great for improving a preschooler's mood.

Look what they let me take home for free!  Here's hoping I'll be able to turn them into what I'm picturing in my mind.  More on that in a couple of days.
Now, onto the real-er deal.  I was delighted by the response to my SMS giveaway...thanks so much to everyone who visited.  The surprise is indeed finished, except for finding the perfect button (hoping to do that tomorrow on my marathon trip to Joann; photos then too, when there's some sunshine!).  Now, can you believe this?:

Has this ever happened in the history of the RNG?  I guess it just goes to show that random is random!  So Kari, check for the comment I posted on your blog.  If I haven't heard from Kari by Wednesday morning, I'll choose another winner.  Again, thanks to everyone who visited!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I am a Godmother

Again, actually.  I'm guessing that two will be my limit, but the two I have are darling so I'm OK with that.

I finished the blanket.  Just in time.  Wove in the ends this morning.

It wasn't a gift for the baptism, but today was the right day to give it.

I am 80% pleased with it.  Blocking certainly helped it along, and I think it would have benefited from another round, but see above.  There's a sort of unintentional wonkiness to it that I don't adore, but it's soft and warm and cozy, which is all a baby cares about, I suppose.

I decided to crochet the panels together, because Jared Flood knows everything, and I think I'm pleased with the result.  Unlike his gorgeous blanket, I think there's definitely a wrong side, but the other seaming options I tried just weren't cutting it--plus the stretching Jared talks about was a real concern here.  The border is four rows of garter stitch, which necessitated weaving in eight ends instead of two (knitters, if you think about it, you'll know why), but I just wasn't sure I'd have enough yarn to do five.  Of course, I have an entire small ball left--always the way.

I had planned to make his actual baptism gift, but am trying to be more realistic about my to-do lists and decided that something handmade by someone else would be lovely and just fine.  I wanted it to be traditional but not stodgy,

and I think this qualifies.  It's from this wonderful, accommodating etsy seller, whom I would recommend in a heartbeat.  He basically worked his tail off to make sure I'd have it in time (because who doesn't order an important gift on Thanksgiving when the event is a week away?).

 The air was cold, the kids were cheerful, and the church was gorgeous.

A beautiful day for a baptism.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

earth-shattering preschooler snack idea

Here it is:

Mix cream cheese and honey.

 Spread on pumpkin bread.

Original, right?  I did think of it all by myself, actually, but like many great ideas, someone else has already done it.  Delicious all the same.

How good would it be with some dried cranberries and/or walnuts sprinkled on top?  Of course, to make that work, one's child would have to like dried cranberries and/or walnuts.  I think I'd have better luck with chocolate chips.

::  Here for my Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway?  Just scroll down!  Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

giveaway day!

**Thanks to everyone who visited!  I'm closing the comments, and will choose a winner (and hopefully post photos of the surprise!) tomorrow.***

It's finally here!  I'm thrilled to be participating in Sew, Mama, Sew's December Giveaway Day...and thrilled to finally be able to see what everyone else will be giving away.  It's like a reward for sewing!

Here's the deal at Give It a Go. With me, there's always a theme...parties, meals, presents--you name it, I theme it.  What better theme for Giveaway Day than giving?  The Give-It-a-Goods:

::  a five-minute gift card holder, Christmas style;

::  fabric (including Amy Butler, Robert Kaufman, and even some of my beloved AMH), Steam-a-Seam, and snaps to make 3 more;

::  a handmade reusable book gift bag--perfect for giving a gift of books...and then as a child's library tote, a spot to corral bedtime read-alouds,   or to pass on with another gift of books inside.  There's even a pocket for the card!

::  a surprise.  It's handmade, and kind of a neat thing to have around the house, and though it is about giving, it's not about gifting.    I'm not showing it here because 1) I haven't made it yet (I'm nothing if not honest) and 2) it'll have its own post once I have.  
    To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post by the evening of December 6th; I'll pick a winner using the RNG.  Please make sure I know how to contact you!  I'm happy to ship internationally.

    Happy December!

    Thursday, November 26, 2009


    That's what I'm thankful for. Hope everyone else's day was as great.

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    a winner! (and a recap)

    and the winner is...

    inthepeppermintwind!  Look for an email from me later today.  Thanks to everyone who visited and entered!  Another giveaway next week...this one for the super-exciting SMS giveaway day.  Can't wait to see what everyone has up for grabs.

    Finally, a bit more about the Chicago Craft Social...what a terrific event!  I was a little worried about the social part of the craft social since I went solo, but everyone was friendly and we were certainly busy!  There were so many different tables to choose from that I didn't even have time to think about the knitting I'd brought.  The main thing I wanted to do was freezer paper stenciling (led by the master), but as a warmup I tried this cool project,

    pear pendant
    ...which I love (but I still don't have a cord for it!).  Simple and so cute.  We mod-podged cutouts to wooden disks, sanded the edges, and then finished them with Diamond Glaze.  At first I was bothered by the little bubble (see it on the leaf?), but now I kind of like it.

    The freezer paper stenciling was SO MUCH FUN--I'm kind of addicted.
    slugbug t-shirt
    The VW bug is kind of a family joke, and I thought it would be something Alex would like (of course he refused to wear it when I first showed it to him, but by the end of the day he didn't want to take it off).  The cutting part was fun, like doing a puzzle in reverse (though if the fps obsession continues, I might need one of these--the regular model is a little hard on the fingers).  And when you get to peel away the paper...coolest thing ever.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    for baby ben

    Our neighbor and friend just had a baby boy, and as soon as he was born (so I knew the sex and the name), I got started on this:

    and this:

    We had a beautiful day yesterday, so I was able to get outside for some photos (unlike last week when I had to take every picture indoors since the sun was always hiding!).  We were also able to get the Christmas lights on the bushes...which is a good thing since weatherwise, it's apparently all downhill from here.

    One more day for the giveaway!

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    luckily, fedex is open 24 hours a day...

    The Small Fox Ornament Swap (first-annual, and I hope she does it again next year!) mailing deadline was Saturday, and I have never been late with a swap, but this was a close one.  I've had the sweaters felted and a sample made for ages, but I was a little busy last week (and we've been going through some bedtime issues around here too--put to bed, squawk, call/go upstairs, repeat until WAY too late), so my hopes of make it to the good ol' USPS by closing time were dashed.  And I almost ran out of glue, as in I was keeping the bottle upside down between applications.

    I used this tutorial from the so-talented Betz White, and learned the following: I don't love making a bunch of the same thing (could I really need 16-20 circles per ornament?  Why yes, I could!),

    ...Alex will tolerate crafting and even help if I find the right task for him, and I have more research to do about how to felt a sweater for optimum finished texture--perhaps an email to Betz is in order?  She seems like someone who would answer.

    I'm having a great time looking at the SMOS flickr pool, crossing my fingers that each ornament I see will find its way into my package.

    Many thanks to Sarah for organizing!

    **Off topic, don't forget about my little giveaway...there are still two days left to leave a comment.**

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    who wants a headband?

    Or rather, who knows a little girl who wants a headband?

    I had such a great time my guestblogging stint over at presserfoot, and the pattern is great, but a girl only needs so many of the same accessory.  I'd love for this one to go to a good home:

    And with it, I'll send some covered-button hair elastics using fabrics from the other headbands I made this week (I had to get creative with the scraps!):

    Give It a Go is just a baby, and I'm looking to make it as great as it can be.  To enter, just leave a comment on this post.  I'll use the good old RNG (if you get a second, read their explanation of how it works...and the "go somewhere random" button is kind of fun too!) to choose a winner Wednesday morning.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    my first giveaway!

    My last presserfoot headband project was my favorite of the four by far...but since it's little-girl-sized, I'm giving it away!

    A clue:

    Check back on Friday afternoon to enter to win the real thing...(and a couple of other tiny surprises, too).

    See you then!

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    because fabric is prettier than cardboard...

    I loved the fabric from Kelli & Rian so much that I couldn't let any of it go to waste.  Here's what I had left...

     after I finished this:

    Much better than that glossy folded "case" you get with a gift card.  Tutorial in the sidebar.

    Don't forget to check out two more headband posts: reversible and beribboned!

    Also, Chipotle (recognize that gift card?  I linked in case you want to buy me one!) is the best food on planet Earth.  And, they're building a new one two blocks from my house.  Big trouble.  At least I'll have to cross a busy street to get there.