Saturday, December 25, 2010

One happy princess!

  This was a special Christmas.  My girls are almost 2 and almost 4 and are hitting the ages where they really enjoy this time of year.  This is probably the best Christmas we've had in awhile.  I often let the stress of all the festivities get to me a bit.  This year, Cam and I collaborated on a special gift for Lila- princess bunk beds.  Our home did not have a space to be able to hide the bunk beds while Cam was building, so we fibbed and told her he was building them for her buddy, Isadora.  She kept making comments like, "Isa is really going to like those bunk beds!" and "Those sure are cool!".  It felt a little dishonest, but we really wanted it to be a surprise.  
So, after she was fast asleep Christmas Eve, we spirited her into our room so that we could construct the beds in her room.  After we had assembled it, we snuck her back into bed without her ever waking up.  So, Christmas morning, she woke up in a set of very special bunk beds.  Lila was thrilled.  She spent the morning with big smiles and randomly coming over to say "Happy Christmas, Mommy!" followed by a big hug.  I wish we could give her one every day!  
The ladder is inside the tower.  The curtain is Velcroed to the bed, so that it can be replaced by a puppet theater curtain. The tower is a painted tarp.  It all worked out so well.  We took Lila to see "Tangled" this week.  After noting that Rapunzel's tower was covered in ivy, we decided we needed to add some to our castle.  It has already been an underwater castle, a beauty shop, and a store.  I couldn't have asked for a better reaction!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I heart wool

   I recently started selling off my stash of wool roving.  Before Lila was born, almost 4 years ago, I had just gotten a spinning wheel.  I was into spinning and I had an inordinate amount of roving made.  It was great because this local guy raised meat sheep and didn’t do anything with the wool.  He gave me a bag of fleeces that was about 8-10ft tall and about 5 ft in circumference. It was a lot of wool!  So, I took it to the local Fiber Festival that year and bargained with the processors- would they want to keep half as the processing fee?  So, we split it halvsies, I went to another festival nearby a few months later and picked up about 30 lbs of roving.  If you don’t know, roving is the product of “processing” (or cleaning and combing) the sheep fleece so that you have a nice easy fiber to spin. 
   So, back to the point, I had this crazy amount of roving that I had dreams of spinning, dying, knitting up, etc… Then, Lila was born.  I literally went at least a year without even *touching* my spinning wheel.  The roving has been in boxes since that time.  I don’t think I’ve even spun an ounce of it.  So, when a Facebook friend asked if anyone had white/tan roving, I knew just the girl.  I had been thinking about selling it for awhile, so I took the opportunity.  I rolled it into 8 oz balls and sold it by the pound.  A pound of wool is *a lot* of wool.   Think, a pound of feathers.  As I was rolling it up, I remembered how I really liked the feel of wool in my hands.  I keep thinking I’ll bring my wheel upstairs and spin a bit.  So far, I haven’t.  But, it’s got a lot to do with the fact that I’ve been focusing on my Christmas crafting.  But, I did get to play with the wool a little bit for one Christmas gift.  I also finally got to play with the dye that Renata gave me about the time I got the roving!  It was really simple to use and didn’t take long at all. 
I took pics of the process for you!  Don’t you feel special!? I saw that the same FB friend from above had made cute little felted balls and I thought, “Yes! That’s what I need to do!”  So, I took some of the roving, wound it into a little ball, slightly larger than I wanted the finished product to be.  Then, I took some wool that I dyed a pretty blue color and wound it around in a random way. 

   I then stuffed the balls into an old pair of tights.  This prevents them from sticking to each other and also from leaving a lot of fuzz in my washing machine.  Now, I through the tights into the washing machine with hot water and a tiny bit of detergent, turned it on high aggitation, and checked every few minutes. 

   The result was these cute little balls that will hopefully make a special little guy happy this Christmas. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Say Cheese!

It was getting down to the wire for taking Christmas card photos and I was feeling a little antsy.  Nana bought the girls matchy-matchy beautiful Christmas dresses and I knew I wanted their picture in them to put on the card.  I tried to make us an appointment at one of the mall photo places, but Friday night is apparently not a good time to schedule a Saturday morning appt!  ;)  I considered some of the pricier options, I knew I wanted to have the images on CD and print them on-line, and all those places want an arm and a leg for CD rights.  Sooooo, being the thrifty goddess (aka tightwad) that I am, I was brainstorming for cheapskate options.  I do *own* a camera.  I have in the past been able to get pretty cute pics of the girls.  So, the only thing holding me back was a good place to take said pictures.  Studio I have not.  I wanted to have a Christmasy background that would fill up the whole space behind them.  I was a little puzzled as to where I could find this, but then, it hit me as we were driving past Bass Pro Shop.  Yes, you read right, Bass Pro Shop.  I took a looksy inside and lo and behold, they had a ginormous christmas tree all lit up and just waiting for my girls to stand in front of it and look angelic.  There's lot of natural light in there, too!  Score!  Lila was totally jazzed to get to wear her Christmas dress and cheesed it up at every turn.  Maggie was a little less cooperative and I had to be a little sneaky, but I got some shots that work great for our Christmas card!  Yay cheapskate photo session!

A few years ago I thought, "I'm going to print a photo card from Snapfish this year!". You know, the ones that have the colorful background and slots for you to upload your photos?  I went to do it and when I found out how expensive they were, I decided against it.  Ever the DIYer, I said to myself, "Why'd you buy PhotoShop if you're not going to use it?".  So, I create my own Christmas cards using Photoshop.  Then, I upload to Snapfish, or this year Mpix which my SIL Renata turned me onto.  I then print it like I would any 4x6 card and Voila! A Christmas card!  I send them at post cards and write messages on the back.  So, all our friends and family get a lovely pic of the girls with a homemade touch and I get to keep the cost down. Win, win. 

Friday, November 19, 2010


My little friend Presley turns two today!  This weekend is her birthday party.  I made her this little beanbag toss game.  I recently made our friend Banyan, who also turned two, the same model, in a more boyish denim with appliqued animals on the bags.  (Maybe I'll put up some pics of that one of these days).
This is a pretty easy project.  With Presley's I didn't even use stabilizer because I used a nice, heavy canvas for the box part.  I basically just made two box pieces, put one inside the other, wrong sides together, and put a bias tape around the upper edges.  For Presley's I made the bias tape from extra fabric I had on hand.  They now sell fancy bias tape-making-machines that are pretty pricey, but my sis Renata told me about a cool little gadget that makes it super easy to make it yourself.  You just have to cut the strips of fabric (on the bias- or 45 degree angle to the grain) then run it through the little gadget while ironing what comes out.  Voila! Bias tape to match your project! I put wheat seed in the bean bags, because we needed some for the farm and it works just as well as beans.  I just serged up all the sides in black.  I decided, after some quality assurance testing... ok playing... that the box part also needed a little weight, so I added some wheat seeds to the bottom between the layers of fabric.  I like this gift, because it's something that grows with you, you can make it easy or challenging, older children can play with younger and the best part.... it cleans itself up- when you toss all the beanbags in, they're put away! Woo hoo!  Hope she likes it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shower the people you love with love....

Today I co-hosted a bridal shower for Cam’s cousin Katie.  I was in charge of games and favors.  The games we played were a big hit.  And, these are the favors I decided on:

They are pins to attach to your blouse, bag, or headband.  I put each one on the top of a long, thin wire and arranged them in a little bouquet in a pretty purple vase that doubled as table decoration.  I think they turned out really cute and they were pretty inexpensive to create a unique favor. Each guest got to "pick" her flower at the end.   I can't find the blog I got that idea from.  =(  It's somewhere out there!  Marsha and Renata co-hosted with me and took care of everything else! We made a great team, I think. 

For a gift, I made Katie a casserole cover with her new initial on it that I got from someone else's cool blog.
The pink strip is a pocket for a serving spoon. 

Katie "H"... hmmm takes some getting used to. =)

The wedding colors are black and hot pink and I got tipped off that Katie likes polka dots.  Our family does pot luck (or bring a dish for you folks who don’t know what that is) for most holidays and I thought it would be a fun way for Katie to bring Grandma Howard’s famous mac and cheese.  It was a lovely afternoon to celebrate the bride-to-be, meet some future family, and enjoy the company of some great women. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Turkey or Treats

Lila and Daddy with their turkey
It was an exciting weekend around our house!  Not only did the girls finally get to don their costumes for trick-or-treating, but Cam got a turkey, and a deer!  Lila was with him for the turkey and was completely thrilled to bring it home.  She wanted to be involved in the whole process and impatiently asked him after they got home if he was "ready to pull the guts out yet?"  She proudly posed with said turkey in the picture above the morning after.  I know a lot of people are probably cringing at the thought of pulling out turkey guts, and to be honest it's not high on my list either, but I love that Lila knows exactly where her food comes from.  We will have quite a few meals from those two wild animals. We will inevitably share several feasts with friends and family who are "brave" enough to partake. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that it hasn’t gone through a packing plant, or the whole Bambi thing that turns people off to venison, but personally I think it's quite tasty.

The Princess and the Pea
Yes, this is the same little princess that pulled out turkey guts the night before!  We had so much fun on Halloween!  (Despite Maggie having a fever off and on all weekend)  I made their costumes this year (normally their Mimi does it) and I was really looking forward to seeing them all dressed up,  The girls stopped by Aunt Mary’s for a special treat, and then we met up with all the grandparents at my in-law’s for some pizza and trick-or-treating in their neighborhood. (Which, for the record was my neighborhood growing up.)  Maggie eagerly put on her Pea costume and wore it cutely all night long.  Lila was also eager to put on her costume, but ditched the crown part of her princess costume for a headband.  I asked her Nana to make a princess cape for her to keep her warm because I knew long sleeves would be out of the question.  However, Nana let Lila pick out the fabric and being pretty flimsy, was not very warm and not of the same color scheme as her dress.  Don’t worry Nana, I forgive you.  But, for the most part, she flitted around unhindered by the chilly air.  I am trying to let my three-year-old fashionista be her own little person as much as possible, but I must admit I cringe a little when she wears those darn ruby red slippers with every color from pink to yellow.  Oh well, get over it mom.  Lila’s favorite treat was a candy shaped like an ear… with blood dripping from it.  Yuck.  They were both in hog heaven having fairly unlimited treats as we limit them a lot most days.  It really was delightful seeing my two beauties scramble up front steps and knock on doors like big girls to get their loot. This is the first year they've both understood what was going on and it was FUN!  Here's to many more Halloweens to come!