Monthly Archives: December 2012

My ho-ho-ho hiatus

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I took a little ho-ho-ho hiatus from writing for a bit, and I have been eager to get back to it! Now that Christmas is over, I am able to breathe a bit…at least until January when we celebrate three birthdays in this house!

I should take this opportunity to write a little about self control…as I just ate an entire sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mints as I was jotting some things down. (A sleeve really should be a serving size!) But, instead, I just wanted to show a few pictures of the projects I made for this Christmas. I so enjoyed giving homemade gifts, but next year, I plan to start in July! (I am not a procrastinator, so finishing my daughter’s pajama pants an hour before she was to open them was stressful!)

I hope you had a joyous Christmas with your loved ones!

Homemade Vanilla Extract
This a friend and I made a few months ago, since it takes a few months to cure. We ordered high quality vanilla beans and made it using a tutorial we found online.
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Recently, I found and printed a label from Style Me Pretty. I had to put mine on some printed paper because of the shape of my bottles. It was such a fun project, and it was a lot of fun to give!

Pajama Pants
I lamented the making of these pants in a previous post. They turned out okay. I learned a lot, so I hope to get better and faster at this next year. In the middle of fixing these pants for my husband (they were way too big and had to be sized down) my seven-year-old son asked why I was making girly pajama pants for my husband. That was a great vote of confidence! Incidentally, none of my boys have lamented the girly nature of these pants, but I haven’t seen my husband in them since Christmas Eve! I hope to have better luck next year in the fabric choice department!
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Can you see the ruffles on the little girl pants? I just love them!

Hand Towels
A friend of mine has the cutest hand towel she picked up from a craft store in Colorado. I decided it would be fun to make a decorative hand towel or two (or eight!) to give to a few family members.
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I purchased the premade flour sack hand towels from JoAnn’s, and then cut them in half and hemmed the edges. Then I added coordinating strips of cotton and edging. I used my Silhouette Cameo and some interfacing to cut out the birds and branch. I sewed around those with a zig zag stitch. Then I made some french knot eyes for the birds.
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Cornhole Bean Bag Toss
This is something my husband and I did together – he made the boards (designed them and everything!) and I made the corn bags. Since my husband and I are a divided household, we made them in Chicago Cubs blue (yuck!) and St. Louis Cardinals red (yay!).
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Our kids had a lot of fun testing them out for Grammie and Grandpa!

A-Frame Play Tents
For the wee ones, we (ahem, well, my husband mostly) made some tents for reading and sleeping. Our boys have slept in their tents every night we have been at home since Christmas! My husband designed these — they collapse completely, didn’t cost much, and were fairly easy to make. He can’t wait to show them how to make a giant tunnel out of these by placing them end to end!
IMG_0913There is just something so joyous about gifting something homemade! I can’t wait to make a few things next year…which is good because I think I shall start soon!

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A Christmas Sewing (mis)Adventure

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I think I took a crazy pill about a month ago.

See, for the last few years, we have enjoyed getting the kids matching pajamas for Christmas. (We would often get them after Christmas for the next Christmas.) But last year, we had this baby girl. This meant that getting pajamas for three boys and a girl that matched was not going to be easy or inexpensive.

Unless I made them.

And so last year, I used some tutorials online and made sock monkey jammies for my four little kiddos. They turned out cute and were a lot of fun.

Well this year, I got the crazy notion to make all six of us matching pajama pants. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Then I went to pick out the material.

It proved to be extremely difficult to choose material for a guy in his 30s and a one-year-old girl. This should have been my first clue to not embark on this project.

But I chose and purchased material. Now I was committed.

Not having made adult pajama pants, I consulted my sweet sister-on-law that is an excellent seamstress. I call her my “sewing helpline.” We decided I should purchase some patterns.

I decided to make my pajama pants first. I had never used (or purchased) a pattern before. Mine was labeled “very easy,” while my husband’s was labeled “easy.” (I think they use those words to taunt and mock the beginning user.)

It took me a while to figure out the secret “pattern language,” codes, and structure. But eventually, I had some clue as to what I was doing.

And so after almost making the snowmen on my pants stand on their heads (directional fabric for your first go at this is not advisable, by the way) I managed to get a pair of pants that fit well and look decent. Getting to this point was not easy, as I am not a spatial person. At one point, I had to get into the partially-finished pants just to figure out what on earth I was sewing. (Is this the side of the leg or the inseam? Turn one leg inside out and insert it into the other leg?!? What?)

With my “very easy” project behind me, which took many days because of the tiny amounts of time in which I had to work on this, I decided I had graduated on to the “easy” pattern. I sewed and ironed and hemmed and cut and deciphered. My husband’s pants had a “faux fly,” which I only really knew because I had texted my “sewing helpline” pictures of the crazy cuts and pattern. Nonetheless, I got all of his pants cut and sewn and had made a good looking “faux fly,” or so I thought. Then I held them up and there was no faux about it. There was a gaping hole. I had done something wrong.

I managed to rework it to get the faux part back into the fly, and I was quite proud of myself. I got the waistband attached, and measured the needed elastic. I got everything all worked out. The pants looked good. (They actually looked like pants, and that equals good in my book!) I was quite proud of myself.

And then I asked my husband to try them on.

When he did so, I had one thought: Was this pattern made when MC Hammer was popular? (I am quite sure “Can’t Touch This” played in my mind at that very moment.)

I was devastated. My husband, trying to console me said, “Don’t worry. These are not meant to be worn out of the house. They will be okay.” This, somehow, did not make me feel better.

I am moving on, knowing these are not as perfect as I would like them to be. It bothers me to know they look as they do.

I guess, on the bright side, my hubby can probably gain about 70 pounds and still have a pair of pants that fit!

At the very least, they will be good for a laugh.

Like that time I was twelve and made popovers that were so tough we used them as baseballs in batting practice. Oh, but that’s another story for another day….

And the Stockings Were Hung…

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Stockings can be such a fun tradition – it was one of my favorite parts of Christmas morning as a little girl!

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As parents, we really enjoy thinking of fun and practical ways to stuff those socks! I wanted to share some of our favorite ideas with you!

  • Gum
  • Fruit snacks (or baby puffs for babies)
  • Fun toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Chewy vitamins
  • Fun band aids
  • Fun bath soap
  • Character underwear
  • Special socks
  • Small Lego toys
  • Water bottles
  • Punching balloons (they sell these at the dollar store for several for $1)
  • Hair ties
  • Ornaments
  • DVDs
  • Matchbox cars
  • Specialty crayons or markers
  • Vintage-type small toys from places like The Cracker Barrel

I would love to hear any great stocking ideas you and your family have enjoyed!

DIY Advent Calendar

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It’s hard to believe December has arrived! It always seems to sneak up on me, even though it comes at the same time every year!

When I was young, Christmas was amazing, warm, and magical. And now that I am a parent, it is even more so! The old adage is true: it is indeed better to give rather than to receive. I look forward to Christmas morning perhaps more than my kids do. I love to watch their faces as they come out of their bedrooms!

One of the traditions we enjoy is counting down to Christmas using an advent calendar. This year, I was inspired by an idea on Pinterest using old baby food jars. I just love repurposing items like this!

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Each year, we plan to use this to hide trinkets, verses, ideas for games to do and so forth. This year, we plan to hide little papers that include something fun to do as a family — activities such as singing carols around the piano, baking cookies, visiting neighbors, reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, driving to see Christmas lights, reenacting Jesus’s birth story, baking gingerbread men, and going ice skating. (I’ll keep a master list so that I can prepare for the next day’s activity.)

If you want to make one, you will need:

  • 25 baby food jars
  • Spray paint (I used red and white)
  • Strong glue (I used E6000 from Hobby Lobby)
  • Letter and number stickers or cut outs
  • Paper circles
  • Mod Podge

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Spray paint the inside of the jars and lids. They may need a second coat. (Painting the inside will ensure the paint doesn’t scrape off in storage.)
  2. Paint a board.
  3. Glue jars to the board.
  4. Glue circles, letters, and numbers in the correct positions.
  5. Paint Mod Podge over the fronts of the lids and the title.
  6. Hide little trinkets, treasures, or papers.
  7. Delight in the memories with your kiddos!

If you get a chance to make one, I look forward to hearing how you use your advent calendars!