Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! What our girls loved doing this year...

Merry Christmas!  May the  peace and light of Christ live in you all year long!

Last year was our first Christmas with two daughters, so we bought a pink Christmas tree and let the big sister decorate it.  We encouraged her to use dress up bead necklaces for garland.  She adds in bracelets and rings, too.  We did give her some cute ornaments, as you can see here, like the plush cupcakes and lollipops, and a few others.  She loves decorating the tree!  Little sister has really enjoyed taking ornaments off, this year, ha ha!  It drives her big sister crazy and we just laugh.

This week I had the week off from work and spent it doing fun things with the girls.  Monday we went to the aquarium at the beach.  The divers in the shark tank dressed for Christmas, Santa and 2 elves.  Their shark steering poles looked like candy canes.

The next day we spent with some friends.  My friend bought two gingerbread house kits for the older girls.  The little ones enjoyed decorating the little gingerbread men that came in the kit.  We ended up with goldfish buttons!  So cute.  They enjoyed eating the treats.

I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas!  Blessings to you and yours! 

Coming soon:  I made a birthday cake for Jesus, and you will love the frosting I made.  I will share my recipe soon... also a gift craft I did using wine bottles and other cute bottles, and it's not the usual lamp idea using Christmas lights!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Updated a nice jacket for wearing...

I found this blazer/jacket at one of my favorite stores, on the clearance rack.  I fell in love with the fabric, and how it looked so cozy and would look beautiful with some winter white pants... BUT the collar was hanging really weird.  It's double breasted, but you can't see the top 2 buttons very well.  So I decided to try it on anyways.  I put it on and started playing around with that crazy collar, until I decided that there was hope.  I stopped by the fabric store and bought some snaps (see picture below).  I only needed one but spent less than $2 for four.  Here's the before pictures, full jacket and up close of the collar:

I went home, pinned where the snap would go, then sewed each side on.  Such a simple and inexpensive way to make this jacket work for me.  I had several compliments when I wore this jacket to work!  So glad I saved it from that rack of clothes.  Here are the steps I took:

 I used one of these snaps, sewed each side by hand.

And here is my end result:

I'm posting this for DIY Day over at A Soft Place to Land!  If you want to see what others are doing, go check it out!

Coming soon... my girls' Christmas tree and recent Christmas activities... also a gorgeous wine bottle craft idea, great for gift giving... and who knows what else might be up my sleeve!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Deck the Halls!

I just love decorating for Christmas.  Preparing for that day when we celebrate the birth of Christ.  I like to color coordinate everything at my house.  Our one exception is that our girls have their own small pink tree (I'll post about that another day!)

I'll start by sharing our tree.  Red and white is the theme, red to symbolize the ultimate sacrifice and white to symbolize a new life that we're given by accepting his sacrifice.  This small, slim tree was great for our last house.  We just never did buy a bigger one, which is perfectly fine with me. 

We bought this one on a budget one year, and have been adding to it each year to try to fill it in more and more.  I started out by using tulips and poinsettias for filler, then bought more poinsettias and some mistletoe for more filler.  It's a sparse tree on it's own. 

Our mantel is filled with berries, snowflakes and candy cane colored candles and candle holders.  I just love the random combinations and how they sparkle and all somehow work well together.  I actually use snowflake napkin rings up there, a single beaded snowflake garland, berry garland, crystal candleholders...
I also have a berry wreath suspended from the mirror.  we have a wreath suction cup hanger, it has worked successfully for the last 3 Christmases!

I pulled out an old unfinished project to put on top of the piano.  The piano was a new addition to our home this year.  I had this red velvet fabric embroidered many years ago to make a mantel cover, but never followed through.  It ended up being a perfect no-sew topper to protect the piano, and Christmas cards are sitting nicely on top.

I love to take time to prepare for a celebration each year.  We have been given such a great gift.

22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" - which means, "God with us."(Matthew 1)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Geraniums in December?

Yes, it's hard to believe, but in the landscape area leading to my front steps, I have two geranium plants (that I planted last spring) that are in full bloom today.  It is so funny to me, but I also think I recall some of the Gerber Daisies in bloom this past week, too!  They're on the other side of the sidewalk, in another landscape area.

I decided tonight, after looking at the weather (low of 28 is the forecast), that I need to trim some of the leaves and bring them in.  They survived a freeze earlier this week, but I doubt they'll last many more.  I did about 18 leaves, put them in small plastic cups of water to root, and it should make 3 small geranium plants for next spring!

There are a few annuals that can be rooted, geraniums being one.  Once roots form in the water, you can then plant the roots in a pot with soil, keep it watered and give it some sunshine.  Then, when spring comes, you can plant it outside!

So, if it's not too late for you, enjoy your geraniums in December!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sneak Peek...

I hope you like my new blog banner, it's a sneak peek of my Christmas decor.  This is a teeny look at my mantel.  I will share more as we continue in the joyous season.  Are you ready???

"...he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Quick Personalized Gift

Need a gift that is personalized and thoughtful?  Here is a great idea.  I'm sure I've done something similar before, but these little notecards were so lovely in blue and brown.  I have protected the initials of the recipient since this is a Christmas gift.

I picked up the notecards at a local store.  I used my scalloped punch with some strips of brown cardstock.  I glued them on the top of the notecard.  I then used my JustRite monogram stamper (1-5/8 round with Curlz font) to create a monogram for the recipient.  I stamped in brown ink on white cardstock.  I used my 1-3/4 inch circle punch to punch a perfect circle around it after I stamped, then used a Glue Dot to adhere.  I also used the same monogram with Versamark on the envelope flaps for a watermark look. 

Using a simple cello bag and some coordinating ribbons, I had the gift ready to go!

This is a great idea for teachers, hostesses, coworkers...  It's December 1st, have you fulfilled your Christmas gift list?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

It was a quiet Thanksgiving for our family.  Many family members opted out of the big gathering this year.  It was kind of sad, I felt like there was something missing.  But we still had our nice meal topped off with pumpkin pie.  I whipped up some fresh whipped cream for the pie. 

So I'd really like to know: what is your FAVORITE part of Thanksgiving day?

Here are some ideas, or you may have one of your own:
  • Turkey
  • Gravy
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Seeing family that you don't ordinarily see
  • Sharing with everyone what you're thankful for
  • Having the day off from work
  • Checking out the ads for Black Friday
Please click on comments to leave a comment and tell me your favorite.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tree of Thanks

Sorry for the extended absence around here.  It's been one drama after another.  I wanted to share an idea that I did with the family this year during this season of Thanksgiving.  We sat down after dinner with tags and crayons, and wrote/drew what we are thankful for.  We put ribbons and twine on the tags so they could hang.  We did this last Thursday night.  We planned to hang them on Friday night, but one daughter ended up in the ER, and we had an action packed weekend after that!  So [tonight] we finally did finish hanging them on the 'tree' that is really a large branch that I stuck into my mum pot.

Since our youngest can't write or really draw, we let her scribble and then we wrote words for her, like milk and baths. 

I really enjoyed the activity, and our oldest got creative, too!  She wrote SUN on one and drew sunshine.  On another she wrote a happy face and a sad face.  She told me that she loves God whether she's happy or sad.  On another she wrote "Tom met Sam" as a way to represent her new love of reading books.  She has just learned to read.
YaYa (grandmother)

Ice Cream (yes he loves it that much!)

This is definitely an activity I'd like to turn into a tradition.  What Thanksgiving traditions do you have?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Apple Butter and Cards!

I made apple butter this weekend.  I've actually never made it before until now.  I got inspired by a fellow blogger, Danielle, who had very good instructions on her blog, The Dani Daily.  She also provided a link on how to can using the boiling water method, which I also did for the first time this weekend.  It was not hard and her recipe was delicious!  I will definitely do this again, I may never buy apple butter again.  Okay, maybe, but it gives me a new appreciation for apple butter.  And I'm now inspired to explore other possibilities, using different fruits!  These would be great gifts for friends and neighbors.

I haven't posted many cards lately, but here are three that I did recently, 2 for bridal showers and one for a friend to give to her mother for her birthday.

The first card: I used the Stampin' Up Medallion stamp with silver embossing, along with a clear stamp for the sentiment.  The cardstock and decorative paper are grey and from Stampin' Up.

Same stamps for the purple card, however I stamped in purple ink and used Crystal Effects for a raised appearance.  I used a textured purple cardstock from Stampin' Up and a designer paper from Martha Stewart's collection.  I also used my marker airbrush type tool that sprays ink for effect, and added a rhinestone brad in the center of the medallion.

On the birthday card, I used their new butterfly punch with textured cardstock and 3 adhesive backed crystals in the middle.  Two of the cards I used a punch to round the edges, just for a softened look.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Curtains for the Princess bedroom

I made curtains for my daughter Victoria.  Well, they're semi-homemade (think Sandra Lee).  A BIG thanks to my friend Heather, who was donating the panels, rod and hardware after redesigning her daughter's room.  The rod was a great fit for the wide window.  The panels were too short.  The color was great, so I wanted to use them, but needed to get creative.  Here are a couple of "before" pics of the window (it's big).

Here's what I did.  Go below the pics for more detailed steps/instructions as well as the AFTER pics!

1.  I bought 3 yards of pure white eyelet fabric, and 3 yards of ribbon ($13).  (The green panels were each about 1.5 yards wide.) 
2.  Cut the eyelet fabric across the fold line, so that you have two 3-yard panels that are about 18" from the cut line to the selvage.
3.  Using a seam ripper, undo the bottom hem on the top panels (green).  4.  Cut 1/2" below the folded edge.
4.  On the selvage edge of each panel baste a long stitch 1/2" from the edge, and then again 1/4" closer to the edge, as shown.  Sewing two, rather than one, will give you a safety net as you gather the fabric, so that if one of the threads breaks, you can still gather your material with the other.
5.  Gather the fabric by pulling the top threads with one hand and the fabric in the other.  Pull in opposite directions.  Continue until you have gathered the fabric to almost a 1.5 yard width across.
6.  Along each of the sides, fold in the edge 1/4", then again and pin. 
7.  Sew the hem on each side.
8.  Pin the sides of the gathered edge, right sides together, to the panel.
9.  Sew right sides together, below panel fold/gathered stitch line.
10. Serge or trim with pinking shears to clean up the edges of what you just sewed.  If you have no serger or pinking shears, stitch again 1/8" in (closer to the edge) and cut with scissors.
11. Fold in and pin your bottom hem.
12. Stitch your bottom hem.
13. Pin ribbon over the "old" hem stitch marking on the original panel, to hide what it once "was."
14.  Stitch the ribbon on the top and bottom.
15.  HANG your new curtains on the rod!!! And SMILE that you did the project! :)

And here is the finished product:

Thank you Heather for the hardware and green panels!  I love projects like this, they're easy and very rewarding to see the end product!  And it's also a great way to reuse something that someone else no longer wants!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal

This morning I decided I would make oatmeal for the family.  I love Saturday morning breakfast with the family.  We're not rushing to get out to school and work.  I love to experiment with oatmeal, find ways to add something other than pure sugar or brown sugar (which taste good, but there are other ways to sweeten oatmeal, and I will NOT use artificial sweeteners).

Not sure why this one came to me this morning, it's really quite simple.  It was very tasty, if you like cranberry orange then you should try this.  My version feeds 4-5 (depending on how big your tummies are). 

It's time to get the microplane out, to zest the orange.  Microplanes are great because generally you don't end up zesting the "white" part just under the surface, which can become bitter.  Also the zest is very fine, so you don't have to chop it up or get a big bite of it when you're eating, instead it will be subtle.

One more thing: if you notice, I put the cranberries in the water upfront- this makes them plump up nicely.

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal

3 1/4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of 1/2 orange
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
2 cups quick oats

1/4 cup orange juice (juice of 1/2 orange)
2 Tbsp honey

Boil water with salt, zest and cranberries.  Once boiling, add oats, reduce heat to medium, and stir for 1 minute.  Remove from heat, and cover for 3 minutes.  Stir in juice and honey.  Serve!

My husband is not a big fan of oatmeal, but he liked this.  Do you like oatmeal?  Do you ever experiment with different ingredients to go with it?

Girl's Hair Clip

I made this simple (but very pretty) hair clip for my older daughter.  Click on the thumbnail of her hair for a close-up of the final product.

For this project, I used:
Sewing Machine (with thread)
3 knit flowers (mine were from Stampin' Up!)
3 buttons
hair clip
hot glue

Simply sew the buttons onto the flowers, and trim excess thread..  Glue the side flowers first, then the 2 remaining flowers.  If you don't have a sewing machine, you could pick up some cute brads to put in the center of the flowers and then glue on.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Smoothie Day!

I made smoothies for the family this morning for our on-the-go breakfast.  Here's what I put in:

3 cups Frozen pitted cherries
1.5 cups Frozen blueberries
1 small banana
Skim milk (pour in to top of fruit)

Blend ingredients, stopping to stir along the way and break apart stuck-together chunks.  Add a little more milk, as needed.

If you act fast you can quickly have a clean blender.  Rinse out the smoothie after pouring into glasses.  Put a small amount of dish soap in it, and fill water to about 1/3 full.  (Make sure the water level is 1/3 full, not the soap foam.)  Blend on high for a minute.  Rinse.  Now your blender is clean!

Have a happy Friday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Autumn Design 2009, Part 3: Outside

Okay, so I really didn't do much outside, but in the fall I feel lost if I don't put out a nice wreath on the door and some mums on the steps.  These mums are monstrous, and I found Purple & Gold for my alma mater!  So I get a "2 for 1" deal supporting the Pirates (Arrrrrgh!) and celebrating the season.

Mums need care & feed if you want longevity.  It's best to water almost daily, especially in warm or dry climates.  Once a week, dig through and pop off any browning or dead blooms.  This will help your mums last!  It's best not to give them full sun, they need part shade- again, especially in a warm climate.

Do you have any autumn decor outside?  Please leave a comment and share!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Autumn Design 2009, Part 2: The Bar

As promised, more autumn design!  It's my favorite time of the year, I love the colors of fall.  Today I'm sharing my bar, which I have decorated for the season.  I chose a set of hurricanes that I love- I bring them out a couple of times a year.  They are something I can fill, depending on my need. 

I found some random fall things of nature at Michaels, it was a bag with gourds, pine cones, leaves, sticks... perfect for me.  I filled 2 hurricanes with most of that.  The other hurricane I filled with some realistic looking leaves and some curly things that had come from an autumn arrangement I received several years ago (I saved the parts of it that I loved).  Also, there are 3 teeny cattails sticking out of the top of the large one, adding some height to my arrangement. 

I layed some leaf garland across the bar and layed some of the pinecones on the bar.  This really adds a nice autumn touch that carries into my kitchen. 

(I apologize for the blurry photo, the lighting was bad but the picture looked washed out with flash.)