Thursday, December 30, 2010

Favorite new finds

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I am so making TONS of these! I might even start tonight as I take one more night off to veg in front of the tv. Where in fact there will be no vegetables in sight. Just. Dove. bars. Total tangent here, but growing up someone always had a note in their stocking to go look in the freezer and there would be several boxes of Dove bars wrapped in Christmas paper. I made suggested David carry on that tradition this year. So yes, one more night of Dove bar indulgence before I chain myself to my sewing machine all week-end (which I am of course looking forward to because I get to play with the cutest new pattern). So go check out Jones Design Co's flower pin tutorial. These couldn't be easier to make.

By the way, did you know that I keep a running list of tutorials from all over blogland, that I love, right here? Well I do. You should take a peek, you just might find something new. I should probably include a photo of each item to make it easier to search, but that's a project for when all my sewing is caught up. Yeah, it will be a while. If you ever need to find the list again, it's over in my sidebar under "Other Favorite Tutorials."

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And aren't these cookies just adorable? So cute all winter long. We'll be making these on a snowy day soon.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday {Allison, packing for college}

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It's official!

My girls think they are superstars, now that they are in print.

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If you are local (Shakopee Minnesota), clear your calendars for February 20th and come hang out with us at Eagle Creek Quilt Shop. The girls are getting ready for their runway debut *tee*hee*. And Amy and I sat down last night to finalize our sewing timeline. Lots of fun in store and we'd love you to join us.

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If you'd like a glimpse of the class I did 3 years ago (when Amy and I met), go here.
I'm the 9th picture into their slideshow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Room Re-Do: Part VII {Curtains}

I'd like to finish up our master bedroom redo this spring by adding curtains. Considering I started this a year ago, it's probably about time.

I've found a huge selection of home decor prints at Fabric.com. The swatches below are all part of the Premier Prints line. They are mostly screen printed onto lightweight canvas. Similar to indoor/outdoor fabric so hopefully I won't need blackout lining. The best part is that most of them would cost me about $6/yd which is great since I need about 12 yards.

To refresh your memory, here is the room that inspired the change.

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And here is our room (before the silhouettes were added) with fabric choices. Thankfully they offer fabric samples, but to order 12 would be a bit much. Would you help me narrow the choices down?

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Part of me feels like yellow would be nice and subtle. I don't think I'd actually put polka dots on my walls, but don't those look fun? I really like the idea of red, but can I still do that buffalo check with the diamond quilt on the bed? Black could be neat too, but would that make the room too dark and lose some of it's cheeriness from the yellow and red? Which ever I choose, I'll also make new Euro shams to match the curtains so there is less khaki in the room. I bought all 3 shams for less than $10 so I don't mind not using them.

I would love to know what you would choose if this were your room.

Monday, December 27, 2010

You know the party's over when...

at 7:30, while 7 other children and 3 adults are still playing in the same room,
your daughters lay sleeping on the floor.

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Let's just say that bedtime was easy tonight. ;)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hope your Christmas was...

sweet,

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surprising,

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filled with love,

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and lots of laughs.

Best game answer goes to my 86 year old Grandma for writing down "The Situation and Lady Gaga."

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Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dear Craigslist


Why oh why can't you come up with a way to make people remove their listings after it's sold?

Because, there she sits. THE perfect set for our dining room. A French provincial table with 6 chairs. Do you know how hard it is to find a set with 6 chairs, instead of just 4? This one even looks like it has a leaf or two. *sigh*

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If this were mine, I would use Sarah's technique to paint it black. It so wants to be black with fun new fabric for the seats. I've even got a French provincial dresser in our workshop just waiting to be painted black this spring. They would be the perfect set in my soon to be yellow kitchen.

Why is it that my friends have such great success (the proof is right here, here and here) in finding the good stuff and I am left wishing and dreaming and just looking at what could have been.

For $245 this could have been mine!!!!

Craigslist, you're just a big old Meanie!

Love,
Me

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Breakfast and Crafts with Mrs. Claus

Yesterday, Amy and I brought our girls to Eagle Creek Quilt Shop. The fabulous ladies there put together a fun morning with Mrs. Claus for the kids. They made felt mice candy cane holders. Super cute and easy to make.

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I wish I had gotten a better picture of Mrs. Claus, she was just perfect. Here she is standing next to her daughter, one of the owners. These gals are a lot of fun. We even had a chance to do some brainstorming about the fashion show we'll be doing in February. By the way, the date has been changed from February 2nd to the 20th. Don't worry, I'll keep reminding you and letting you in on more details as we get close to the date. In the meantime, we've got a lot of sewing to do.

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The strangest thing happened when we walked in to the room. Allison turned and wrapped her arms around me and wouldn't look at anyone. She wanted me to pick her up and hide. I think she was starstruck by Mrs. Claus. I was able to get her settled into her chair and when I heard her answering questions from people I knew she would be ok. But she didn't even touch her donut! Another sign that she was nervous. My sweet kidlet.

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As we were leaving, Mrs. Claus was walking to her car.
Emily said "Mommy, where are her reindeer?"
Oh deer!

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Here is how they made those darling mice. Draw the outlines on grey felt. Have your little ones cut them out. Make 3 slits in the body and thread the ears and candy cane through. Easy-peasy!

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And did you see this adorable craft over at Whatever? I'm making these with my kids this week. I've already bought white paint, red felt and aqua colored glass balls from Michael's (on sale). What a great way to record their hand size in a meaningful way. Then in years to come I can hold the ornaments in my own hand and remember how tiny their hands were. Oh the sweetness! Please, please, please go take a look. Right here. If you haven't already seen this, you'll thank me.

And I love these cute teacher appreciation gifts too. Will have to keep that one in mind for next year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ethiopian Adoption Dollies {Forever families}

These three little cuties left on an adventure yesterday. We were thrilled when two families, adopting through the same agency as our friend Jenn, asked for custom Dollies for the little ones they will soon be bringing home.

These first two are a brother and sister set. Their Mama showed us what colors would be in their room and asked if we had something to match. Without knowing that they had already picked out fabrics for their bedding, shockingly I came up with the exact. same. fabrics. they were planning on using. It was obviously meant to be so they gave us free reign on the design. I'm happy to say, we nailed it!

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And may I just point out how perfectly Amy pieced those socks? Is it weird that my eyes keep getting stuck on that one detail when the whole Dollie is just so cute? I'm a nut for incredible sewing, I guess. You should hear me fawning all over her blind stitching every time I see it. It's the little things that make my heart go pitter patter. You know you're a sewer when your eyes immediately go looking for the tricky details. Amy you've got mad skills girl! Thank you for sharing them with me.

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This next little one is darling too. I gave her Mama 7 fabric combos to choose from and this is the one I secretly hoped she'd pick. The little birdie print is one of my all-time favorite fabrics. So cheery and fun. It's even the inspiration in my own daughters' room. It mixes so well with Heather's Pop Garden and the addition of Jennifer's Poodle for the knee-highs, is the perfect extra pop.

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Our hope is that these sweet Dollies provide years of joy, comfort and fun play. That they make the anticipation of new little feet even more sweet in the coming months. That they help ease the transition to a forever family. A huge thank you to these families who are opening their homes and hearts to the orphaned. One of life's biggest blessings ever, for both parent and child.

If you'd like a truly custom, heirloom quality, Dollie for your little one, or perhaps you know of a family that is adopting, please visit our shop.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dollies {One Day Only Sale!}


Looking for a last minute Christmas gift?


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We've reduced all of our ready-to-ship Dollies another $5.

Sale ends midnight tonight!

SHOP HERE!

Dollies are priced as marked.

Dollies purchased today will ship tomorrow, in time for Christmas.

*Excludes custom Dollie and apron listings.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Running out of Shoes

My cousin, Gretchen, recounted an afternoon with her daughter, shortly after I had given her some of the girls' outgrown shoes. I needed a chuckle today and thought you might too. Enjoy!

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*Maizen, in flips of course, at the farm*

"My cousin so generously donated a half dozen pair of hand-me-down shoes to Maizen. It couldn't have come at a better time because for the entire summer, Maizen has been refusing to wear anything but her now slightly too small flip-flops. She hates socks and will cry and writhe around the floor if I manage to get some on her feet. Actual shoe-wearing turns her into a redheaded, whinier Goldilocks--too scratchy, too pointy, too black. She rips them off her feet before we can walk out the door. So we get out the silly flip-flops no matter the weather. We have been really really late because of these shoe melt-downs. (I should say here in her defense, that her feet have grown this summer, and I'm sure the shoes are A BIT uncomfortable.) Then the other day we were at Target and she kicked off her flip-flops somewhere without my realizing it. When I did see her bare feet, we retraced our steps. No flips. I thought of asking lost and found, but then I remembered that I prefer to never see those stinking flip-flops again. I had been worried that she'd be wearing them into November as the snow starts to fly. Needless to say, I carried my little heartbroken Drizella out of the store. And when I present her with real shoes and she says "no, where are my flips!" I remind her SHE lost them. Why didn't I think to "lose" them earlier?

Back to the point, Allie and Emmie's hand me down shoes couldn't have come at a better time. I casually lined them up in front of the closet doors. And sure enough, I came home yesterday and Maizen was wearing a pair around the house--we don't wear our shoes in the house, and yet it was such a welcoming sight. So when we prepared to walk to the park she put on some new pants from Grandma and gladly put on some SOCKS and SHOES, and we headed out--zero whining, no crying! On the walk, as usual, she kept trailing behind. I peppered our march with some pep talk "let's hurry and get there so there's more time to play!" And ten minutes later she strolling way behind (distracted easily) and we have another block and a half to go (we live only 4 away). I turn to enlist some less encouraging encouragement ("Maizen, you don't seem like you want to go to the park, should we turn around?"). She says, "watch what Ally and Emmy's shoes can do," and she takes off running in a quick but still Maizen-ly knees bent, feet constantly parallel to the ground sort of way. The jostling causes her pants to shimmy down to her knees. And she abruptly stops, face red. She looks around to see if anyone noticed, and then she starts laughing. I told her she ran so fast she ran right out of her pants. She's so proud. So I guess the lesson here, if there is one, is that it's better to have tight pants and loose shoes."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TaDa!

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I need a lot more practice and a steadier hand, but this is going to be fun!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Tale of Three Cookies

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I love making cut out sugar cookies for Christmas. And after seeing this fun post I thought I'd try decorating them the fancy way. I usually make mine thin and crispy and brush on a light powdered sugar glaze to hold the sprinkles.

That's the way I made them with my mom all those growing up years. I have such wonderful memories of baking together at Christmas. Thanks mom for getting me hooked on baking so I can now enjoy the fun of doing the same with my children. We should have a baking with Grandma Kiki day some time. The girls would love that! But after your broken arm heals first.

Say, did I ever tell you all why my girls call my mom Kiki? When they were one or so, she tried to get them to say her name, Jeanie, and it came out "Kiki" so it stuck. We all thought that was pretty fun, so she's now Kiki.

Back to the cookies. Yesterday I tried this recipe, the one they made at the ranch. And it didn't turn out for me at all. Not finding any help as to why the cookies didn't retain their shape, and not wanting to waste any more butter, I scrapped the whole idea. But, as they say "tomorrow is another day" so I tried again, with a different recipe. I also armed myself with a new oven thermometer this morning, in case that was the culprit. But my oven seems to be just fine. I remembered Amanda's baking blog and thought I should try out her new sugar cookie recipe. So I did.

Now, let's take a look again and I'll tell you what happened.

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Left {Too big} The first 30 some cookies started out like this. They puffed up. Again. Grrr...

Middle {Crumby edges} Then I read a comment that Amanda wrote somewhere that she sometimes takes her cookie cutter and cuts out the freshly baked cookie again. Do this while they are still warm and then let them cool on a wire rack. But then the edges look crumby (pun intended). I did this for the ones that lost their shape the most and were beyond recognition. Hopefully with icing I won't care too much about the crumby edges. Here's a close-up of those edges. They kind of look like they've been chewed on.

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Right {Just right} The final tray I baked (of course it had to be the last one), of the 40 cookies we made, I decided to put in the freezer for 5 minutes before baking it. That's what the end of the recipe I tried the day before had me doing, but it didn't make a difference for those cookies. But with this 2nd recipe, it was perfection. They did get a little brown around the edges, but that's because I had to chase down a little boy to get his pull-up back on and couldn't get the tray out right away. They didn't puff up and the edges look great. I can't wait to make another batch next week.

Now, I'm also wondering if perhaps I just can't get myself to roll them out thick enough. They look pretty thin in these pics, but these are actually twice as thick as I'm used to making them. So to me they seemed thick at the time. I'll experiment with that next week when I make more. I'm determined to get the perfect sugar cookie down.

I leave you with my inspiration for decorating. I'll be back later this week to show you our pretties. I'll be using mostly red and aqua. I am ready to flood some icing! Wish me luck!

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BTW~these images were found by searching "decorated sugar cookies" and then clicking on "images".

Saturday, December 11, 2010

the {almost} present

Do you remember my obsession with vintage felt and sequin ornaments? I've been collecting vintage Bucilla kits for years and this week I finally cracked one open. Ahhh...total and complete love.

Every year I say I'm going to start working on them, but I'm not in the mood until December is here and by then it seems too daunting a task. I finally found out that they are really quite easy. As I was working on them this week, I started calculating how many I could finish in time for gift giving this year. I think I was up to 10, with five lucky recipients.

But then something I hadn't expected happened.

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You see, the kit I chose to work on first was this jolly fella and his sidekick (the ^ photo shows my newly finished set). I chose this one because I already had a set on my tree and figured if I got lost in the directions I could figure it out by looking at the finished ones. And because I already had them, I figured I could part with these fairly easily.

But what I didn't expect, was the wave of emotion that washed over me as I sat there in my living room, next to the soft glow of our Christmas tree, and realized that my hands were doing the

. exact . same . thing .

that my mother had done some 30 years before. That was a powerful moment and one I will never forget.

So, how could I possibly give these away? They are definitely not something I can part with lightly.

I'm working my way up to it and think that if I finish all of my favorite kits first (including our stockings), that I might be ready next year to give some to people I know will truly treasure them. But not the jolly guy and his sidekick though. Those will be mine f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

So I will continue to stalk them on eBay and buy up as many as I can. There are also several sets I'd like from this fun site. Bucilla even brought back the Wizard of Oz design this year. Yep, totally adore those! I better buy duplicates as much as possible so I'm not tempted to keep them all.

In the meantime, I'll keep dreaming about a Christmas tree dripping with these soft, sparkly ornaments. I may even go so far as to buy some tinsel...he he he. Our tree is quite full already, but there is plenty of room left. I also plan to make a new one for each of our children every year too so they have some for their tree when they leave the nest. I'm pretty sure I'll be making these year round, they are the perfect lap project for movie nights.

If you are looking for a thoughtful, labor-of-love kind of gift to give, you should really try making some of these sequin and felt ornaments. They are fairly straight forward and quick to make. You still have time to order from here.

You just never know what impact
they might have on the ones you love.

Friday, December 10, 2010

December is a time for Ho ho Ho {Our week in review}

1. You know your day isn't starting off right when you find yourself doling out time-outs from the shower. But miraculously, getting little girls dressed up in taffeta Christmas dresses and big polka dot tights can turn everything around. Coffee helps too.

2. The girls were in their first Christmas program (EVER!) at school this week. It was a lot of fun to see them up there singing away. They've pretty much been singing ever since. They've never learned songs like this or performed in front of people before. They love Ms. Reda, their music teacher. Ms. Reda also went to highschool with my birth-mom. How neat is that? And her husband was also the choir director at my highschool. I however, was not in choir. But what a small world it is.

Allison said that she got stage-frightened and couldn't do the hand motions. I enjoyed talking to them both about it later in the day and hearing what they had to say about their big day.

I love this age when they tell you everything. Even when they tell me "things aren't going well for me today" or "Mommy, were people mean to you when you were a little girl?" They are growing up way too fast! But I love having heart-to-heart conversations with my sweet girls and getting a glimpse into how they see the world.

Allison's in the middle of the back row.


Comfortable enough now for the hand motions.


I decided against showing you the one where Emily smears her runny nose all over her arm. You're welcome.


When she sings this at home, she has the same sweet, slightly embarrassed-by-all-the-attention look on her face.





3. The girls had one of their very bestest friends from school over for a playdate on Monday. I love that we have room to bring home an extra child from school. We've opened up the 3rd row of seats in the Explorer and it's working well. Except for the part where the double stroller has to fit in the front seat when I need it. That's kind of yucky. Think melting. dirty. snow. Yeah. But kid-wise I can haul 5 at once. And I'm getting good at it.

We made these fun Pretzel Wreaths.

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Why do I always manage to buy a bag that's not plain M&M's? I did this last year too. It seems during the month of December it's nearly impossible to find the plain variety. I had to search and search for the plain section only to find that this one must have been in the wrong box. I was greatly disappointed when I pulled them out at home. And I thought I was being extra careful at the store this time too.

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These girls were the happiest, giggliest girls I've seen in a long time. They had a great time together and nobody felt left out, not even once. Love that!

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4. Amy and I are working on two special Dollies for a brother and sister pair being adopted from Ethiopia in January. We'll share pictures soon. And listen to this...Mom and Dad will be taking pics of the Dollies all around their home and places in town that they frequent. Then they'll make a scrapbook to bring along on their first visit to meet their kids, to help introduce them to their new home. I know! The Dollies will then come with them when they finally get to bring them home. {swallowing lump in my throat} Is that not just the most thoughtful idea?

Thank you Jenn for the blog love. We've had 3 requests for custom Dollies from adoptive families already! Amy and I are both thrilled to be, even one tiny bit, a part of these beautiful families bringing new little ones home. Lots of love goes into making these Dollies.

5. Yesterday we made cookies! My favorite, chocolate crinkles. Even the boys got involved.

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Do you do this too? I got this great tip from my friend Rachel. Store butter wrappers in the freezer for greasing pans later. No more folding up a paper towel and making a mess of the butter or getting out the dreaded Crisco like we did when I was a kid.

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YUM!

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6. Moments like these are so sweet. Daddy helping the kids make beaded candy cane ornaments while I was making homemade turkey noodle soup on Sunday. Warms the soul on a cold winter day.

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7. Doesn't this little guy look so tiny out there in all that snow? David said he whined and complained the whole time and that his mittens kept coming off. But he sure loved the hot cocoa when he came back inside.

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8. I've also been enjoying making some of these ornaments in my spare time this week. Yes, surprisingly I found some spare time. Some very special people will be getting them for Christmas this year. I still need to make our 5 Christmas stockings (definitely won't happen until next year), but thought it best to get my toes wet with ornaments first. I am completely addicted. As in I'd love to send my family out to eat for every meal so I don't have to cook and can just sit and sew on beads and sequins all day long for the next month or two or three...

9. I'm whipping up some Christmas jumpers for the girls out of this fabric. Pics to come, plus a tip on how to sandwich ric rac the easy way. I bet you thought I'd forgotten about sewing. Ha, I did too.

9. Happy Friday! We are possibly getting 18" of snow tomorrow. Glad I got our grocery shopping done last night. Tuesday morning I brought the kids to school and it was only 4* outside. I hope you are warmer than we are.

10. And the best for last. My dad came home yesterday. He gets to recuperate at home for a few weeks until they figure out what the next step is. He's not strong enough yet for a stem cell transplant, but it's the chromosomal changes from the Leukemia that's keeping him week. It's a viscous cycle and we're not sure yet how it will be resolved. But for now, he gets to sleep in his own bed and be where he wants to be. Thank you Lord!