Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday, Part 3


There is so much to be thankful for this year - but the best (and cutest) reason is this healthy, sweet, beautiful girl:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dream Craft Kit

I finished my Dream Craft Kit for Mom's preschool auction (this was also one of the projects from the RVA Autumn class). I am so thrilled with how it turned out! here are some pictures: 

I found this train case on etsy. This is the "before" picture and you can see it is in relatively good condition. All I've done so far is painted the inside edges white so that the blue doesn't show through the fabric.

Here it is finished and full! I wish I had taken more pictures of the process of recovering the interior of the case. Let's just say that with a sewing machine and hot glue gun, I can do anything!!

For the inside of the lid, I made a small pocket to hold a needle book I made out of felt and cardboard from a funky-colored soda box. I also sewed in pen pockets and included a disappearing ink pen for embroidery and a crochet hook. The felt heart is just for cuteness and to draw out the blue of the rick-rack edging on the pockets.

Inside the case I included three colors of yarn, two tea towels and a canvas bag to be embroidered (along with a copy of elsie's neverland patterns and directions to visit to buy more cute patterns), an embroidery hoop and floss (wrapped individually on bobbins made from the same funky-colored soda box as the needle book and tied with cute ribbon), squares of felt (possibly my new favorite crafting material), buttons in a handmade pouch, three homemade journals (also a separate project from the RVA class), scissors (also in a felt pouch so no one gets poked), Mod Podge and a sponge brush.

The outside of the case I left pretty much alone except for adding this adorable vinyl sticker from the RVA shop. I bought a ton more and if this was for me to keep I would have decked this thing out with stickers, but since I don't know who will ultimately receive this case after the auction, I left it simple but did include a camera sticker inside the kit.

That's it! I was sad to hand this over to Mom, but so happy to know that it's going to a good cause! I hope whoever wins this auction is in for some fun times with all the goodies I packed away.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday, Part 2

today's is simple: I am thankful for new my new sports bra! we did some running without the strollers at my workout this week and it felt great to run hard for the first time in a loooooong time! with Thanksgiving coming up next week, I am especially glad to have a comfortable way to work off all that delicious food! Last year I had a pretty sever aversion to poultry and did not really enjoy Thanksgiving at all. This year ... BRING IT ON!

Swap No. 2 of the week

this afternoon Leila and I will be taking a walk to the post office to send off my second swap this week! (I have one more to send next week and then I'm taking a break until after Christmas.) There was no real theme to this swap, just a chance for "newbies" to send and receive a package and build up ratings. I received a lovely homemade cookbook full of recipes a week or so ago and have been feeling the pressure to get my package out the door soon, but as I mentioned on Tuesday, there is a lot going on this week and to add to it all, Leila had a bad reaction to her rotavirus vaccine later that afternoon and got really sick all over me multiple times and then fell asleep on me before I could clean either of us up and move her to her crib. Other than the throwing up part, I really didn't mind an afternoon of holding her in my arms, but now that she's better, I still have deadlines to meet.
So, my partner for this swap stated that she likes blue and flowers, hates pink, and owns a very spoiled chihuahua named Sophie. Even though I am not a dog lover, I came up with a cute idea to send.

I'm not sure what the official name for this item is, but it's something that attaches on a dog leash and carries plastic bags for disposing of doggie doo. My idea was to make this a little cuter by creating a personalized tag for Sophie to hang on the bag dispenser that I picked up at Old Navy.

I cut out two circles of felt and some little orange felt flowers. Then used black embroidery thread to attach the flowers to the first felt circle and also back-stitch the letter 'S' for the dog's name. I added ribbon for hanging and sandwiched it between the top and bottom layer of felt and used the blanket stitch to close it up and hide the back of my embroidery. This was my first time using the blanket stitch and I like how it turned out! Not only did it bring the two circles together but also added a cute scalloped edge to the whole project.

I think what I like about swap-bot the best isn't the sending and receiving mail (although it's always fun to get something in the mailbox that isn't a bill or catalog) ... I like the challenge to create something new that I wouldn't have thought of on my own. All I know about the people I send to is what they put on their user profiles and oftentimes (like this one) they aren't that specific so I get to put on my thinking cap and come up with totally random (for me) ideas about gifts for dogs and whatnot. I never would have thought of this little felt tag without the challenge of this swap, but now I am dreaming up reasons to make more!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bible Verse Swap

Even though I don't work in an office anymore, I still have some deadlines to hit! There are two swaps that need to be mailed out this week and I also am working on a craft kit to donate to the silent auction at Mom's preschool/church this weekend.
The first swap due this week is for two decorated cards with Bible verses. The first card was easy for me to create - some of you may recognize it :)

On the back of the card, I printed Colossians 2:7 from the New Living Translation Bible, I just love this translation of the verse:
Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.

For my second card, I used verses that we've been discussing a lot in Wes and my Thursday night small group regarding the condition of your heart (the front and back of the cards are pictured below).

The verses compliment each other and are both a good reminder to me to guard my heart for what I hold in my heart will come out of my mouth! Another passage that goes right along side these verses is Philippians 4:8.
Such fun to create the cards and also get a little reminder from the Word of God while I craft. My current favorite music to have on while I work on projects is an album of hymns by Chris Rice. It is a little slower tempo than I usually like my music, but perfectly relaxing for what I'm doing now.

P.S. the fabric in the background is a little sneak peak of the project I'm working on for the silent auction! More on that later :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

keeping apples warm in the winter

Every Christmas my mom puts out a big bowl of red apples with green ribbons tied on the stems. How cute would that same bowl be with a couple of sweatered apples thrown in the mix? Apple Cozy is definitely a new concept to me, but the pattern looked easy and since I needed a quick project to keep my knitting brain functioning, I cast on for this a few days ago. It was a really fast knit. In my previous life before Leila, I probably could have cranked out a few of these in one of Wes' night shifts. As it is, this project took me three days, but I only worked on it for an hour or less each of those days. I am thrilled that I remembered how to cast on and off, increase and decrease, and most importantly, knit and purl!
The yarn is Lorna's Laces Bittersweet. The apples I have on hand to "model" are pretty small; I think a larger apple would fill this cozy out perfectly. But as it is, it's adorable and also will keep the apple from bruising if I throw it in my bag for a snack on the go. I plan on making a couple more of these to add to Christmas gifts, but if you want to make one for yourself, here is the pattern. (There are also crochet versions available, but since I'm more comfortable knitting, that's what I chose. However, if you do a google search for crochet apple cozy patterns, you should get more than one to choose from.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

starting a Christmas tradition

it's almost Thanksgiving and even though I never intentionally listen to Christmas music (though today while browing iTunes I found out that Weezer has a Christmas album!) or watch Elf before the last Friday of November, I have had Christmas gifts on my mind for a while now since I plan on handmaking many presents this year. I have started on a few, but can't share too many details here :)

However, I can share that I am so excited because I just signed up to "Journal My Christmas." Each day during the month of December through January 6 (the twelfth day of Christmas) I will receive journaling prompts and printable scrapbook art. This is great because I while have had the best of intentions about keeping better notes and journals during these first few months of Leila's life, I haven't done a very good job. (lots of pictures, but not a lot of words to go with them.) But Christmas is pretty much my most favorite thing in the world and I am so thrilled to have daily reminders to take a minute and record what we're doing to celebrate. I have been going back and forth about signing up for a couple weeks now, but what finally sold me on it is that this is a "lifetime membership" type of thing where by signing up once, I can participate for years to come. I hope that as Leila gets older she will enjoy looking through the scrapbook/journals I will create and find joy in them.
(photo from

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday, Part 1

This week I am thankful for wonderful friends who motivate me to get out of the house and walk in the mornings! The miles are much more enjoyable with someone to talk to along the way. Next week I'm going to challenge myself to do a little more running!
this photo of Tia and I was taken at the Casa Pacifica Wine and Food Festival three years ago. 

this photo of Nicole and I was taken at her house in July, just three days before my water broke and Leila arrived!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

finally sewing

When my Grandma Leila passed away in January, I asked if I could "inherit" her sewing machine. I have many happy memories of sewing with Grandma throughout my life and now I'm ready to try some projects on my own. Grandma was always gracious about letting me sew some of my own things on her machine and I thought it would be no problem for me to jump in and start sewing! However, I realized once I had the machine in my house that while I was allowed to sew seams on my own, Grandma always had the needle threaded and the bobbin wound before I showed up to "help." I've had the machine in my possession since May, but it took a couple of months for me to find the time and patience to sit down with the instruction manual and figure out how to set things up, but I finally did it!

There are quite a few projects from the RVA Autumn class that require the use of a sewing machine so I've been sadly putting them off. But Leila has been taking longer afternoon naps lately so on Friday I found myself with a couple of breast milk and poop-free hours and I spent them with my (new-to-me) sewing machine.

I found an already-loaded bobbin in Grandma's supply chest, so that saved one big step. Once I followed the instructions to thread the machine and the tiny needle, I found some scraps of material that I'd saved from the embroidery hoop frame project and ran some test rows of stitches. So far so good!

I was feeling pretty confident now so decided to dive right into an actual project! I can't tell you what it is (never know who could be reading this and Christmas is right around the corner ...) but let's just say it's for a "domesticated lady." I was able to get one half of the project done before Leila woke up and finished the rest of it during Saturday nap-time. I am so thrilled with the finished product! I know the recipient will love it ... here's just a sneak peak :)

And something else fun - I found the sales receipt in with the instruction manual and other brochures for the sewing machine and realized that my Grandma bought it just a few weeks after I was born! That means that this is the machine she used to sew dresses for me and my dolls when I was little. And now I'll use it to sew dresses and doll clothes for my little Leila.

Friday, November 06, 2009

interpretations of Alice

a couple weeks ago I posted about swap-bot and since then have found myself involved in a couple of the featured swaps. I enjoyed receiving treats from England in a candy swap and a homemade recipe book in a surprise swap. This week I sent off my first attempt at ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) in an Alice In Wonderland-themed swap.

I took a "less is more" approach to my cards and took inspiration from the scene where the Queen of Hearts plays croquet using flamingoes as mallets. Since I needed to send a card to two different recipients, I cut a playing card in half and used one half on each card. Then, using elsie's embroidery pattern as a reference, I cut out the flamingo body from construction paper and glued it on. The eye and beak are drawn with ink pen, but the legs are stitched with grey embroidery floss and the wings and feather detail are stitched with pink floss.
The back of the card is just paper (mostly to cover the back of the embroidery) the color of Alice's blue dress with swirls on it that make me think of the crazy helter-skelter-ness of Alice's adventures in Wonderland.
I also received cards from two different swappers - those are pictured here (one artist sent an extra card just for fun!):

Making an ATC was fun, but I don't know if I would do it again. I've heard that many people collect ATCs like baseball cards, but I'm not interested in that. I mostly decided to do this swap because of the Alice in Wonderland theme. I have an idea for what I'll do with my received Alice ATCs, but for now I'm keeping it a secret :)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

unexpected find

spent a little time at Michael's this afternoon to pick up supplies for some homemade Christmas presents and while wandering the aisles, I stumbled across a light box! I was so so so excited because I have been wanting to get a light box for a long time, but never thought to look at Michael's. I figured I would need to go to a photo supply shop, and those are rare around here.

But this light box will make it so much easier to complete embroidery projects. Previously I'd just hold the pattern and fabric up to a window, but it's hard to keep everything aligned when it's vertical. I am so excited about this light box that I am going to spend the rest of Leila's naptime this afternoon embroidering! But first I have to share with you my favorite unexpected find from yesterday ...  it's in the top right corner of the picture above, but it's hard to see ... here's a better picture, but really you should go and get some of these yourself because the picture does not to justice the deliciousness of these little chocolatey/pepperminty/salty bites. I predict that I will not be hungry for dinner due to an overdose of pretzel perfection, but it will be so worth it!

Monday, November 02, 2009

more pumpkin deliciousness

here is a picture of my breakfast this morning ... orange juice, yogurt and a little pumpkin biscuit! so delicious :)
I got some pumpkin pancake mix at Trader Joe's last week, forgetting that Wes hates all things pumpkin (yeah, I don't understand either.) and when am I going to make a batch of pancakes just for myself? I mulled it over for a few days and then remembered how much I love strawberry shortcake biscuits made out of bisquick. Since bisquick and what I have in my pantry from TJ's are first and foremost pancake mix, I figured I could make similar biscuits from the pumpkin mix and yum yum, was I right!
You can find the recipe here, or on a box of bisquick, but if you don't happen to have one of those in your pantry, here is the recipe I used to make four biscuits:
1 cup Trader Joe's pumpkin pancake mix (or bisquick)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup milk
(that's it!)
stir ingredients together and separate dough into fourths. 
drop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes. 
the biscuits are great warm, straight from the oven but were a little chewy when cooled, but I will definitely make these again! I think next time I'll try making a cinnamon glaze for the topping.