Friday, December 28, 2007

A Very Special Gift

My husband is wonderful. Truly wonderful. I am spoiled. What can I say? Christmas morning he had a special "surprise" gift for me. He had taken me a couple days earlier shopping for new clothes which was fine...and plenty. That was more than I was expecting for Christmas and I really got some lovely things.

Well, after all the gifts had been opened on Christmas morning, James ran downstairs and came back up a few minutes later with a reciept. He had bought me a book that has been on my wishlist for some time, only it hadn't arrived yet. (sound familiar??? think wedding anniversary) Anyways...my book arrived today.

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Doesn't look like anything special? Well, let me tell you a bit about this book. Its called The Apparel Design and Production Hand Book (A Technical Reference).Inside this book are lists upon list of "standard" measurements for clothing garments in ALL sizes. Every measurement you can imagine is in this book. They even have a few garment styles for each size category and give you the specific measurements for those garments. Boy am I excited. Completely ecstatic. I can hardly wait to put this book to use. I know its going to have a major impact on the quality of my patterns. Be prepared for some gorgeously designed patterns coming out this next year. This book will take me a step above! Look Out World! I'm going places!!!

I also wanted to share another gift with you. I asked for a Toby Mac cd and wouldn't you know it but I got two. Yay! I love this guy's music. And just in case you are unfamiliar with him...he was one of the three members of my utmost favorite band of all time...DC Talk. Anyways...I just wanted to share a song from my new cd with you all. I have fallen completely in love with this song (and the whole cd, for that matter)

You don't have to listen to the whole thing. Its rather long and only the first couple of minutes is the actual song from the cd. This is the only video I could find for this song though.



Have a wonderful day everyone.

A Lovely Little Christmas

We had such a lovely Christmas this year that I just have to share some of it with you all.

Christmas Eve we went to the candlelight service up at the church and then we came home and Chloe opened one gift. Can you guess what it was? Yup. Pajamas. We have a little family tradition of opening new pajamas every year on Christmas Eve. James and I didn't exchange pajamas this year but we got some for Chloe. Store bought ones too. Here she is opening her pajamas.

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After that, we hung the stockings on the backs of our chairs.

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Then it was off to bed. We woke up at about 7 and I think James and I were more excited about opening the gifts than Chloe was. And is it any wonder? We got her a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and just knew she would adore it.

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She has played with that thing for hours every day since Christmas. On Christmas, that was the only thing she did all day. It was a hit. We ended up getting her two toys this year instead of one. The second toy was a doll cradle that we had set up under the tree unwrapped. She didn't even notice it until about halfway through the day. I was expecting Chloe to be really into unwrapping her gifts this year but she wasn't. We had to coax her to open each gift...that is until she noticed the HUGE box containing her Clubhouse. Then unwrapping gifts was over.

We took some Christmas traditions we learned while living in England and incorporated them into our Christmas. One of those was mince pies. YUMMY. I love them. Chloe and James weren't too thrilled with them though. I think I was the only one who ate them. I found a little British store in Lancaster, PA while touring there and so I bought the pies. I also picked up some Christmas Crackers. No. Not the kind of crackers you eat. In England, they have these little tubes that when you pull the ends it pops like a firecracker revealing some treats inside.

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There is always a paper crown inside the cracker. The rule is that you must wear your crown for the whole dinner. Whomever takes their crown off first must do the washing up after dinner.

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James lost, but do you think he did the washing up? Nope. Guess that only works in England.

Our crackers were cheap so they only had the crown, a joke and a little toy. I got a mini plastic bowling set. Chloe got a little leap frog. It amused her for all of two seconds. (what does a plastic leap frog have in comparision to a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse?)

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My joke? Here you are...

Q: What do you have to know to be an auctioneer?
A: Lots

Ha Ha Ha...sort of silly. But I love the Christmas Cracker tradition. I think next year I will splurge and get the more expensive crackers.

And then it was naptime, after which we headed over to the Pastor's house for dinner. We had a fantastic time over there. Dinner was wonderful. Everything in the house said, "Christmas is here! Let's celebrate!" It was wonderful.

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It is times like Christmas that I realize just how blessed we are. James and I move around the world, quite often. (because such is the life of a military family) Each and every place we have lived, God has blessed us with good friends who adopt us into their family for the holidays. You have no idea how much this means to us. To be accepted and included in such private things as a family Christmas. This is the family of God. A place where you are automatically accepted and loved. We are blessed. I think the past 10 years would have been alot more difficult on me if didn't have such wonderful friends at Christmas-time. Thank you Jesus, for your love.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Getting There

I still have a LONNNNNGGGG ways to go before I have even half of my WIPS completed, but I am getting there. Trudging along. Making progress. I haven't crocheted since Christmas Eve though. I was working on a dress for Chloe and there was no way it was going to get done in time for Christmas so I stopped stressing about it and let it be. She doesn't care that she didn't have a crocheted dress for Christmas. In fact, she probably didn't even care that her dress she DID wear was sewn for her. Besides...this puzzle is a tad more difficult than I thought it would be.

Anyways, got off on a tangent. Sorry. I was speaking about my WIPS. I managed to get a few things done before Christmas and am quite pleased with the set-up of this new goal of mine. It really motivates me to finish things if I have something new and exciting to look forward to. So, it will take quite a long time to get everything done in my sewing/craft room, but that will come in time. I am thinking New Years Resolution here...got a few days left to think about those.

What have I completed? I just knew you were dying to know. Its one for one...right? So let me show you.

First, a WIP. This is the same pattern as the Raggedy Ann dress, only it is pink. I will most likely be giving this to Chloe for her birthday. Maybe I will add a bit of lace to the bottom or something though. Not sure.

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Have I told you before just how much I love this pinafore? Well, I do. I adore it. It has to be one of the cutest dresses I have ever made for Chloe.

Then something NEW!!!

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Okay. So there are two things in that picture. No frets though. I completed a WIP in between those two Barbie outfits. (which came from the Crochet for Barbie book)

The in-between WIP???

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A baby bunting I designed. I am about halfway through typing this baby up and then it will be ready for testing. Its simple and will keep baby warm and cozy. I used just regular ole sport weight yarn for this. Turned out quite nice, but it got a little boring for me and that is how it happened to become a WIP. It didn't take but 15 minutes for me to finish it once I sat down to do it...but that is always the hardest part for me.

Now I have something to show you that I started before my new "goal" challenge thingy.

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Another Barbie dress. This one was so simple but I had the gauge wrong by a tad so the dress turned out a little longer than it was supposed to. Now...you wanna see something totally teeny? Check this out.

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That, my dear readers, is a button and a dime. YUP. Teeny, right? I sewed those buttons on that dress, one by one. Of course, I am nutsy already and love anything tiny, but these little buggers were slightly difficult to hold onto. Love them though. Love them.

Well, I am off to get this kid down for a nap and I am half tempted to take one with her. That would be really REALLY nice. Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Christmas Puzzle

Growing up, I remember our family would recieve a puzzle from a relative and it would then be set up on a card table in the corner of the room to be worked on during the rest of the season. I remember working on these puzzles, quite often. In fact, I believe I was the one who spent the most time putting them together. I loved it. If we happened to not recieve a puzzle for a year, that hindered not the tradition. We simply reached to the uppermost shelf of the closet and dusted off an old puzzle from years past.

This year I found a puzzle at Elijah's barrel (that "free" thrift store of sorts at our church)and decided I would begin this tradition in our house. Of course, I am the only one who will participate until Chloe gets a little older and can work with me. James will ask to put in the last piece. I always hate that, but hey...I love him. Gotta let him do something, right?

And this year's puzzle is...

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...which has been started...

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My goal is to have this completed by New Years Day. I am beginning to think that is not possible because I have put a few good solid hours into it already and am not much further along than the picture above. Shucks. Nothing like a little challenge for the holiday season, right?

And now, I leave you with a picture of us on Christmas Eve before we attended the candlelight service. I hope you all had a blessed and Merry Christmas.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

One for One

A new goal. I need a new goal. I've been brainstorming and I have come up with something I am calling it my One for One goal. I can't very well do the same goal as last week for two reasons. One...I already did that goal and I might suffer from boredom if I attempted it twice. Two...I have Christmas gifts that need to get done so finishing 5 whole projects from my WIP pile would put me at finsihing these Christmas gifts in...oh...say...by about January 17th. Not good.

My new goal is simply this. For every project I finish from my WIP pile, I get to start a completely new project. Sound reasonible? We shall see. I must inform you though that I consider a sewing project I have cut out a WIP. Even though I haven't begun sewing on it yet, it still clutters up my sewing room and must leave.

Let's see how much I can get done this week. My second goal is to have all my Christmas packages ready to mail on Saturday morning. I am off to finish a Barbie dress I started last night (one of the new projects) and a dress I am sewing for Chloe. (one of the WIPS) I hope to have some things to show you later today.

Friday, December 07, 2007

DONE

That's all that needs to be said. I am DONE.

I finished my 5 things. Although the fact of the matter is I have actually finished SIX things. Yup. SIX. Okay. Seven if you count the "new" dishcloth I made last night for my sister. I didn't photograph it because how many dishcloths do you really need to see? Let's just say that its my favorite dishcloth pattern. Nuff said.

So, what were my 4th and 5th projects? Well, I did tell you about the brown knit shirt that is identical to the pink knit shirt I finished yesterday. Umm...yea...forgot to get a photo of it as well. But hey! How many plain knit shirts do you need to see anyways? One, right? Just imagine the pink one I made yesterday in chocolate brown. There you go.

But the item I am really excited about is this....

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...but that is not all. Oh no...that is not all. For your viewing pleasure I have another sweet picture of my little darling. (because she looks just so darn cute in this red dress)

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And if that weren't enough...the finishing touch...

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Yup. The Raggedy Ann pinafore. Now how cute is that? I think this is the cutest thing I have sewn...ever.

Now the pattern says "easy" on the front. There is something I don't really understand about these pattern companies. The meaning of the word "easy"

EASY (according to this source): not hard or difficult; requiring no great labor or effort

I must tell you that somehow I don't think alot of the pattern companies patterns fit this "easy" category. At least not the patterns I have tried. I think sewing a neckline edge is, in fact, quite difficult. And sleeves. Getting them to match up on such a small scale. Not very easy in my book. And don't get me started on zippers.

Anyways, the dress and pinafore are done so that makes #5 and #6 of my goal done. (seeing as how the goal was only for 5 I would say I am ahead of the game. I am never ahead so I am reveling in my present state right now. (Don't mention Christmas gifts though...please don't.)

I have a couple of pictures of snow to show you.

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You should have seen the yard. In about 10 minutes, the entire backyard was covered in little Chloe-sized tracks. Literally covered. Granted the yard isn't large, but it was fun to see just how sporadic a toddler really is.

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I took a picture of my rosemary because it looked so beautiful underneath its frosty cloak.

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That is all for today. I will have more to show you tomorrow. (hopefully) Have a great day.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Projects 1, 2 and 3 Complete

Maybe this little goal of mine wasn't such a bad idea. I finished three things yesterday, with a fourth almost done. I have the feeling I could have set my number a little bit higher than 5, but hey! At least I will have five things done that I wouldn't have had done before, right?

First I want to show you my quilt. Chloe's quilt, actually. It was completed just in the nick of time too. I finished it off yesterday afternoon and yesterday we got snow. Yup. It snowed. We had 70 degree weather for Thanksgiving and two weeks later we get snow. And not just a little snow. I would guesstimate that we received between 4 and 6 inches worth. My world is covered in white. AND...my little girl is covered in this...

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I love it. Its not the best quilt ever...not even the best quilt I have ever made, but its done and it will keep her warm and its not half bad. I learned quite a bit while making this quilt, even if all I learned was how NOT to do things. I am still not sure what went wrong here, but maybe next time I will get it right.

I made little 2 inch squares for the nine patch blocks. I figured that there would be a 1/4" seam allowance on each block so I subtracted 1/2" for each block leaving me with a 4 1/2" block. So I cut the solid blocks 4 1/2". Well, when I went to sew them into strips, lo and behold, the 4 1/2" squares are smaller than the nine patch blocks. I think I know what I did wrong but not well enough to try to explain it to you. Needless to say, I didn't have enough scraps to cut out more blocks at 5" so I left them as is - thinking I could just square them off as I was sewing them. WRONG-O! That doesn't work. As you can see in the quilt above, none of my blocks line up. The points are all off-centered.

But you know what? Its going to keep Chloe warm and that's all that matters. It looks nice regardless of my mathematical blunder. Even James likes it. "Its really beautiful" were some of his words. "I really like it" were some more.

Anyways, that was project #1 for my little goal. Project #2 was this...

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You have seen this jumper before but if you recall, I mentioned that it was too short for Chloe and needed something done to lengthen it. I added the lace trim to the bottom last night. I think it is so adorable like that. Its still a tad bit shorter than I would like and probably won't last til spring, but she will get a month of two of good use out of it. I also added the zipper in last night. It felt so good to get this one done and out of my sewing room.

I couldn't sleep last night and so I decided to get up and tackle another little sewing project. Project #3...

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Please don't look to closely. I ran out of empty bobbins so I used a white one I had filled and boy...it sure looks a mess. Then I realized after I had been sewing a bit that the bobbin wasn't threaded correctly and was making a mess on the backside. (which happens to be the right side of the shirt...talk about UGGG.) Other then that...this shirt turned out quite nice, if I do say so myself. I have yet to try it on Chloe...that will come later when she is in a better "modeling" mood. Gotta catch that one right. My next project will be a shirt identical to the one above only in brown. I just have the zipper to put in and the bottom to hem. Then I would like to sew Chloe's Raggedy Ann dress so she can wear it to a party we are going to tomorrow for lunch. (its red...the only red dress she will have, so I figure its close enough to "Christmas colors" to pull it off.

Well, I had better get going. I have a walk to shovel and a basement to clean so I can get started (and finished) on Projects #4 and #5. Have a wonderful day everyone!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Little Goal

In light of recent events in my life I have pulled out of quite a few meaningless "challenges" and the like. I am trying to "de-stress" my situation, so to speak. I realize that I am a dreamer and because of that, I tend to dream. (ummm, go figure, right?) When I dream, those dreams becomes ideas. Those ideas take shape and become things I would like to do. Once that happens and I decide to do it, they then become things I HAVE to do. The last process there (becoming something I HAVE to do) takes all the fun out of everything. I become stressed out because I can't comply. Or I CAN comply, but I no longer want to because I "have" to. Make any sense at all? Probably not.

Anyways, one of the things that has been stressing me out lately is my overcrowded sewing/craft room. There are so many projects in there that have yet to be completed. Things I have started and never got around to finishing. Things I lost interest in. Things I forgot about because they got buried underneath all those "new ideas". Even my fancy chair has no room to sit on for all the projects piled on it. My new little goal for myself (and its a small one since I don't want to stress myself out anymore) is that I am on a diet. I MUST complete at least 5 projects in my sewing room before starting anything new. That means no more "new" designs until some of these things get done and OUT of the sewing room.

Now granted, only 5 projects won't clear up much space. I know. There are so many things in there, gosh...I don't know what's wrong with me. BUT...I am starting with 5because, like I said earlier, I don't want to stress myself out with this little goal. The other thing is...I have a few more Christmas presents to make and I need to get started on those. But that is starting something new so I limited my goal to five just so I could get the gifts done in time.

Now I am off to finish up Chloe's quilt. I am almost done with the top. I ran into some problems yesterday but I will tell you more about that later. I need to get going if I am going to get it done today. Have a wonderful day everyone! God bless you all richly and abundantly.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

While Visions of Sugarplums....

...dance in my head.

So, I got tired of wondering what a sugarplum actually was and made some today. Let me tell you...they were not what I was expecting. Not bad, mind you...just not what I thought they would be.

One of my expectations was that a sugarplum would be something terribly sweet and...well...you know... candy-ey. The whole kids dreaming of them on Christmas Eve and all kind of puts those "extra sweet" images in my head. But hey! Wanna see a sugarplum? (course you do)

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A sugarplum actually has plums in them. Imagine that, right? Actually prunes would be more like it. And they are so simple to make. Puree some prunes, golden raisins and slivered almonds together and wa-la...sugarplums. Oops. Almost forgot the most important part. Brandy. Yup. Sugarplums have brandy.

I ventured out on a limb today and tasted one of these sugarplum I had made. Let me try to describe it to you. Very "plum-ey". Kind of crunchy in places. (probably due to the almonds) Sort of squishy. Extremely messy. I didn't realize it until I was making them that you don't actually cook sugarplums. It is a simple matter of blending the ingredients together, rolling them into balls and dousing them in superfine sugar. This means that none of the alcohol was cooked out. They were still okay though. I kind of liked them. I probably wouldn't eat a ton of them, nor would they be my first choice from the dessert bar...but they weren't bad. Not bad at all. (at least they had sugar, right? Anything is good if you have plenty of sugar with it.)

I also made some puppy chow today.

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If an instant hit your looking for at your next holiday party you simply MUST make and bring some puppy chow. James devours this stuff. Its simple to make as well. I have never had anyone who didn't rave over this "dog food". Take a bag of chocolate chips and melt them in a saucepan. Once they are melted, add in a cup of peanut butter and mix until it is smooth. Then mix in a box of rice chex cereal until all the pieces are coated. Shake them in a bag with powdered sugar until they are coated and there you have it. Puppy chow. YUM!

So that was it for the Holiday Confections today. I need to make a grocery store run to get more flour and sugar and other confection-like necessities so I can continue to make Christmassy delights. Oh how I love this time of year. Sugar and all!!! I'm thinking toffee and lolipops and divinity and caramel corn and cranberry chews and rocky road and oh boy...the list goes on and on. Just you want and see what I make this year. Its gonna be fun! (not to mention yummy)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fairyland

"I wish there was such a place as fairyland - and a way to get to it," said Cecily.
"I think there is such a place - in spite of Uncle Edward," said the Story Girl dreamily, "and I think there is a way of getting there too, if only we could find it."

Well, the Story Girl was right. There is such a place as fairyland - but only children can find the way to it. And they do not know that it is fairyland until they have grown so old that they forget the way. One bitter day, when they seek it and cannot find it, they realize what they have lost; and that is the tragedy of life. On that day the gates of Eden are shut behind them and the age of gold is over. Henceforth they must dwell in the common light of the common day. Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again; and blessed are they above mortals. They, and only they, can bring us tidings from that dear country where we once sojourned and from which we must evermore be exiles. The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.


- excerpt from "The Story Girl" by LM Montgomery


Yesterday we listened to Point of Grace Christmas cd about 20 times. If I had been given the choice, I would have opted for one time, possibly twice; but 20 was a bit more than I cared to sit through it. Needless to say, Chloe has found control of the cd player a skill that, now mastered, must remain solely her responsibility.

She has yet to learn the fine details related to cd playing though. In her own simplistic mind it makes perfect sense to stop the player, open the player's front door, remove the cd, re-insert the cd, close the door and then press play. We have yet to teach her that by skipping all the steps prior to the last one she can arrive at the same goal.

One thing I must learn is that "out of sight is out of mind". I forgot this lesson last night and left the cd player out where Chloe could see it. First thing this morning she saw the cd player and asked to play it. I, of course, claimed I was tired of that cd so maybe we wouldn't listen to it today. Chloe, deciding that she was masterful enough to start it on her own, walked over to the player and commensed her cd playing ritual. (open the door, take the cd out...)

She didn't get any further than taking the cd out of the player though. The morning sun shone brightly through our dining room window and at the exact moment that her little fingers grabbed the cd out of the player the sun hit the cd and a bright sparkle hit our ceiling.

Pure joy. Little Chloe realized that she had control over this dancing light show and proceeded to wave the cd back and forth rapidly. This entertained her for quite a while until James joined her game and chased her around the room with the "light". He (the light...somehow it became a masculine entity) would sneak up on Chloe and "kiss" her. He also went out the front door to "go to work". (I think that was James way of saying he was done playing...)

As I sat and watched them enjoying this glittering light from a cd, I was reminded of that child-like wonder we all used to have. I thought of that passage I quoted above from "The Story Girl" that I read the other day. That simplistic awe a child has. How a simple cd catching the sunlight magically becomes so much more. I thought of how God asks us to come to him as little children. That simple faith. That expectancy of great and wonderful things. That pure enjoyment of the simple things. The awe and wonder.

What can I be in awe about today in my little world? I take a moment and gaze at my Christmas tree. Little white lights twinkle at me through the branches and I think to myself "How pretty." I watch my fish dart about the flowers resting at the bottom of the fishtank. Isn't it neat to watch their little tail fins (or whatever you call them) push them about the tank? I watch my fingers as I type this post, or as they crochet small thread into lace and I revel in the details crafted into these hands. I don't have to think about it. They move about so gracefully from here to there, doing exactly what my brain tells them to do. Amazing.

I don't want to lose my way to fairyland. I don't want to lose that amazement over the simplistic wonders of our world. I ask the little girl who dwells in my heart to reside there forever.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Let the Baking Begin

Welp...Thanksgiving is over. Completely over. Know what that means? Yup. Its time to get those cookie sheets and cooling racks out. Those candy thermometers and double broilers. Oh how much I love this time of year. There are 28 days left til Christmas so that means I have 27 days left of baking. Oh the ideas of what I can bake in 27 days. Today I began with a few cookies.

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Here you see some Peppernut Cookies, Coconut Macroons and Candy Cane Cookies. Delicious. All of them. (for the must be tested, right?) Let me see...the Peppernut cookies are quite interesting. I love them but they are very similar to gingerbread cookies so there wasn't alot of thrill there. I do love to use Anise seed or oil but I believe the molassas in these cookies overpowered the slight licorice taste of the Anise oil. Oh well. They are delicious anyways. The Candy Cane cookies were a blast to make. In fact, I think we will make another batch or two of them before Christmas. I made a candy cane/sugar sprinkle to sprinkle on top but next time I think I will stir it into the red batter. I think it will give it more flavor. The cookie is very much like a shortbread type cookie. A little dry but would be quite excellent dipped in tea. YUM! And what to say about Macroons? Not much except that they are a staple at Christmastime if not simply for the fact that they are quick and only require 3 ingredients. Make sure you cook them all the way though. My first sheet didn't get cooked all the way and they were a tad bit raw.

So, that is all the baking I did today. On the agenda for tomorrow...Caramel corn, Puppy Chow and maybe some Cranberry Cheese bread. Of course I do need to make some regular bread because we are out of that.

Yesterday for "school" I brought out a bunch of supplies and let Chloe make her very own card for Grandma and Grandpa. I showed her how to use each thing and then let her go at it.

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About halfway through she finally got the hang of the whole rubber stamping thing without smearing them across the card. Needless to say, she was quite pleased with her efforts. I showed it to James when he got home. I told him that Chloe made Grandma and Grandpa a Christmas card. You should have seen the look on his face. It was somewhere between utter disdain and disbelief. It took me a minute or two to digest his look and then I repeated what I had said. "This is CHLOE'S first card. Chloe made it." Ahhh...he chuckled and said he thought I said I had made it. Funny guy, this one. Funny guy.

So, even though Thanksgiving is technically over in our house, I thought I would show you some Thanksgiving pictures.

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Notice my short hair? No one around here has noticed that there is about 6 inches missing from it. Compliments of my mother while she was here visiting. I know I said I would never let her touch scissors to my hair ever again, but I broke down and let her. I made her promise that she would only trim it...and yet 6 inches disappeared. Oh well. At least it is healthy now. This is the first time since I started the 6th grade that she has touched my hair. It doesn't look half so bad, does it...She did a good job.

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As promised...Chloe's Thanksgiving dress on her. She wore this to the Thanksgiving Praise banquet at church last Tuesday evening. Funny thing was I added the long sleeves to the dress so she could wear it during the winter weather season. Well, Thursday (Thanksgiving day) it was about 70 degrees here. That meant no Thanksgiving dress for Chloe due to the long sleeves. Poor thing would have been sweating up a storm in it. Oh well. She looked cute anyways.

Current dress update: I have no pictures to show yet because I am waiting until the dress is completely done before I show it to you all, but I have the main portion of the dress finished. All I have left is the size 80 thread trim and then sewing on embellishments. I hope to get that done tonight so I can move on to a new project tomorrow. Okay. Not a new project. Just a different one. Gotta finish Chloe's quilt and maybe a couple of dresses I have cut out for her.

So, now I am off to play a bit with Chloe before its time to fix supper. Chicken Spaghetti tonight. It would seem that the ornaments hanging on the tree make delightful playthings. Santa loves visiting the donkey from the creche that sits below the tree. They walk around the living room and kitchen, crashing into walls and tables. It would seem that one of them broke a glass ball ornament. I will never knwo which one though. They both are not speaking.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree

With Thanksgiving now behind us, we look ahead to Christmas. It is our family tradition to set up Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. This time it took us the two days after Christmas and there is still some left to do. For some reason I am moving a bit slower this year.

We also need to rethink this "fresh tree" idea. We bought our second ever "real" tree this year on black Friday but the thing is already losing all of its needles. Maybe we should hold off next year a couple of weeks. Can I do that? I don't know...but I am loving this tree smell that you just cannot get with fake paper-ey trees.

I want to show you a completely cheese-y video we made this weekend. Okay...so James did most of the work, but I am in this video and that is something, right? And the biggest news is that I actually talk in this video. After hearing my voice on tape some 6 years ago, I have refused to talk on camera. I sound awful...hideous...like a nut-job. Anyways, I have recently watched some video of Chloe when she was a baby and wouldn't you know it but they are those "silent moving pictures" and I began to realize, Chloe might not like that when she gets older. So, since she seems to like my voice I am now trying to talk more on tape. Let me just say that James does a much better job of "acting natural" than I do. (which you can see in the following video)

Enjoy...the Ness Family Christmas Tree...



This video was actually made for family hence the part in the middle regarding James. You see...we have (or someone in James family has) video of Christmastime and all you can see in the video is the Christmas tree and the couch setting next to it. Then all of a sudden you see little two year old James do a tumbersalt over the edge of the couch into the video. Its quite funny, actually. So, James believes Chloe is almost there and has been working with her on her tumbersalting skills.

Well, I am off now to wash the bathtub and toilet and finish up the laundry. Then I have a dress to finish today. I am almost done...just gotta do the sleeves and embellishments. Yay! Have a wonderful and merry last week of November everyone! God bless you all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Dress

Its done. And in perfect time too. I just finished weaving in the last end (and YES! I got ALL of them. I didn't leave any tucked up inside the armpits or anything) and am ready to show it to you.

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Ta-Da!!!!!!


Told you I could do it. I actually cheated a bit though. I finished the dress and the headband today but I swiped the bloomers from the 3m set I made last month for sale on my site. Once this pattern got into testing, we realized there was a problem with the sizing of the bloomers. Lo and behold, when I tried this "3m size" on Chloe today, they fit her perfectly. Needless to say, I didn't feel the need to crochet MORE bloomers for her. And a darned good thing too because I used every last scrap of lt. mulberry Lustersheen I had in my stash. Well, all but save about 200 feet. I don't know what I am going to do with 200 ft of it, but oh well. I will figure something out.

I modified the dress to include long sleeves. I am going to include this modification in the pattern as well. People might like the option for short or long sleeves. Don't worry dear testers. It was a very easy modification and would only involve frogging the very last row of the sleeve to add more length in if you felt the need to do so.

Anyways, just wanted to show you the dress. We are off now to make some cornbread for the banquet tonight and then shower and get dressed. I hope to get some pictures of this lovely little ensemble on Chloe tonight...preferably before she gets turkey gravy dribbled down the front. It really is much more adorable ON. Have a wonderful evening everyone.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Skirts, Petticoats and Bloomers

I have a question for all of you out there who wear skirts/dresses everyday. I have only been doing so for a short time (since summer) and I am beginning to wonder what you all wear in the wintertime to keep your legs warm. Summertime was no problem. Skirt, pantyhose (or even...egads!!!! barefoot...shhh...I didn't say that) and sandels and you are good to go. But now that winter is upon is and the temperature has drastically dropped, I need to know how to keep my little legs warm.

Would you believe that I am this close to crocheting me up some leggings? HORRORS! But yes. My legs are getting quite cold. I have my stockings on and also wear some thick, cozy socks around the house. (because shoes are evil, I choose not to wear them unless I have to. Don't tell flylady...I doubt she would approve.)

Another temptation of mine is to crochet me up some bloomers...kind of like the ones I make for Chloe. Would that be terrible? I saw the beautiful lady on "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" wearing them the other day...so why can't I? They were adorable and I am extremely tempted.

I guess a better solution would be a petticoat or thick slip of some sort. Is this what you all do? If so, what material do you use? Keep in mind that I like LONG skirts...down to my ankles...in the wintertime, so it couldn't be anything too terribly thick...or it would be too heavy. Any ideas anyone? I would love to know what you all do.

Sweet Nothings

Don't you just love to have sweet little nothings whispered gently in your ear? What girl wouldn't, right? I love it when James whispers he loves me in my ear. Or when he says just how stunning I looked earlier in the day in that certain dress. You know what I am talking about....{giggle, giggle}

Well, there are times in our lives when Jesus whispers those sweet nothings in our ears and boy, oh boy...let me tell you...they ain't nothing, that's for sure. Those little whispers we hear mean so much when they come from Him, our Creator. I have had some whispers in my ear lately...some of which I will share with you. (some are to remain sweet little nothings between my Savior and I...our little secrets)

It was Friday morning and I had spent some time sitting in my chair in the bedroom reading through some Psalms. If you ever feel yourself a little overwhelmed with life, just read through a couple of Psalms. They will lift up your spirits in no time and remind you that you are not alone. Anyways, back to my Friday morning. I find that when I am sinking into my little, dark place it helps to focus my attention back onto the Lord. Even if all I can do is whisper "Hold me Jesus. Just hold me". Funny thing is...He does. He holds me. I can't explain it. Its just one of those things. I imagine myself lying in His embrace and pretty soon I start to feel better. When I find myself being lifted out of that dark place, I start thanking Him for things He has done for me. Well, Friday morning was no different. I thanked Him for some different things and I finally said, "Thank you for dying on the cross for me" to which I immediately said without realizing I was saying it, "so that I can live for you." It was almost like it wasn't me that said it. My very next thought was deeply profound.

Living for Jesus is not "witnessing" on some street corner in some village somewhere off in the world. In His own way, Jesus was letting me know that He died for me so that I could live...for Him. Live. Breathe. Get out of bed. Kiss Chloe. Plant a rose bush. Make pumpkin cookies. Write a letter. Wash underwear. Vacumn a rug. Live...for Him. He wants me to LIVE. Plain and simple. What a beautiful "sweet nothing" He whispered in my ear that day.

Another sweet nothing drifted to my ear just this afternoon. I was sitting on my bed crocheting and thinking about the chapter I had just read. (Romans 1 for those of you interested) Today I picked up our New Living Translation instead of my usual Bible. It helps me to understand different portions of scripture better since it is written how I speak...modern day terminology. But back up a bit. I might need to preface this "sweet nothing" by saying that today was not one of my better days. I have been feeling a bit down today. A bit hard on myself. A bit like a failure. A bit unworthy of love.

Well, it was in the middle of these thoughts that my Savior whispered a sweet nothing in my ear. I heard it loud and clear as if He were sitting next to me.

"Anna. I died for you."

To which I replied, "I know Lord, and you really shouldn't have. I don't know why you would do something like that for me. I don't know why you would want to spend eternity with someone like me when You could have someone so much better."

Then He said, "But I DID, Anna. I died for you because that is how much I think of you. You are precious enough to me that I gave up my life just so you could be with me for all of eternity."

God wanted me. He chose me. He thinks I am precious enough to die for. He wants to spend eternity with me and guess what!!! He is building me a mansion so I can live there with Him forever!! All my life I dreamed of being Cinderella...and today I realized that I AM! Eternity is my Happily Ever After. I can hardly wait to get there. And while I wait, He whispers sweet nothings in my ear to remind me of His love.

I have been having some very good moments too, though. Not all my life is dwelt in the pit of despair. I am still busily working on my numerous projects. Wanna see some? I knew you did. I am prepared!

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This is an Angel Lace dress I am making for a co-worker of James. (a customer) I have less than two weeks to get it done and already I have put it to the side for another project. Have no fear...have no fear. I can get it done. And I will. Just as soon as I finish this...

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Chloe's Thanksgiving dress. I aim to have it done tomorrow so she can wear it to the Thanskgiving Praise banquet up at the church. The dress will be done as soon as I get off this computer, but I still have the bloomers to do for it and the headband. You may recognize this dress. I recently made one in a 3 month size that is currently for sale on my website. I am really loving this pattern. It works up so quickly (I started the dress last night and its an 18m size) and looks like you put a ton more effort into it than you really did. Wonderful, right?

In addition to that, I also started working on a quilt for Chloe. I have cut out a bunch of teeny tiny squares (because since when I have ever done anything on a large scale???) and today began the sewing process. (had to take a break from the crocheting, mind you. Nothing wrong with that...I can still get it done in time)

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Okay. So why the teeny tiny squares? For one...I am using scraps so teeny tiny is the only way I could do this. For two...it is going to be a nine patch quilt. I figured a nine patch was pretty basic enough that I could get it done relatively quick and onto Chloe's bed within a week. We shall see if I can accomplish that or not but if I work on a few squares a day, I should be able to get it done. Once I got all the squares cut out, I started sewing them into strips, like so...

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And then once the strips are done, they are pressed (seams open) and then sewn into sqaures.

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(sorry for the poor coloring of the photos. I took them tonight in the dark so not very good lighting.) And just because you asked...they are 2 inch squares and the final squares are ending up to be 4 1/2 inches. I have enough squares to also make Chloe a matching quilt for her dolls. Our plan is to buy her a doll cradle for Christmas and have it set up under the tree with the quilt in it. I can't wait to see her face when she walks down the stairs and sees it. (we also got her a Mickey Mouse clubhouse so she is getting two toy gifts this year...lucky little girl)

Anyways, I better get going if I am going to get this dress done tonight. Have a great night everyone. And don't forget to Be Thankful!!! (for something...everyone can find something to be thankful about)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Right Now

Right now...

I am breathing.

Right now...

I am alive.

Right now...

I am sitting in my recliner, resting a moment.

Right now...

I am sipping a cup of coffee, slowly enjoying its warmth and comfort.

Right now...

I am clean after having just gotten out of the shower.

Right now...

I am resting under the wing of my Refuge, My Savior

Right now...

I am happy.

Right now...these things are all I can handle. And that's okay. I am resting in the fact that God doesn't give me more than I can handle. He has given me Right Now. He has given me everything I need to get through this moment. This moment, right now.

I am struggling with the proper way to write what I am about to say. How can I say this without causing you, my dear readers, to turn away in disgust or have ill thoughts of me? Then I realize that this doesn't matter. If no one ever reads my blog again, it doesn't matter. If I lose all my friends in the world, it doesn't matter. I am loved. My Savior loves me. That is the ONLY thing that matters. So, in light of that, I will stumble my way through this in hopes that God will use it for His Glory and possibly help one of you along in your journey through life as He is helping me through mine.

As many of you already know, I have been having some health issues lately that have caused some concern. Sleep troubles. Headaches and migraines. Achy body. No energy. Sweating profusely. (just to name a few) Things progressed from bad to worse over the past couple of years to where I KNEW something was wrong. I needed to be checked out.

A couple of weeks ago, we finally made it to the doctor's and had a gamut of tests run. Blood tests of all sorts. (yes...even a pregnancy test) We got the results back last week. Everything is normal. No anemia. No diabetes. No thyroidism. No pregnancy.

I have all but been diagnosed with depression.

Yes. You read that right.

DEPRESSION.

I kind of knew that I struggle with depression already. I've actually known it for years, but somehow I have been convinced somewhere along the line that depression is a horrible, horrible thing and no "good" person should have it. Depression is a result of sin in your life or not walking with the Lord. I mean, if you are close to the Lord then there is no way you can be depressed, right? We are supposed to have the joy of the Lord, right? Where does that leave room for depression?

Well, the past couple of weeks have been real eye-opening ones for me. I picked up a book from the library called "Approval Addiction" by Joyce Meyers. I have learned so much about myself through reading this book. She has even suggested saying certain phrases over and over to myself to "retrain" my mind. God tells us in Romans 12:2

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will."


So, I am trying to transform my mind by renewing it with truth. God's truth.

I feel like a failure. I walk around in complete guilt all the time. I lash out at anyone who asks me any question because I already know I have failed and I feel I must remedy it as soon as possible. I do not have freedom. I am a slave to my sin. It has me bound.

The truth is just the opposite though. I am NOT a failure. I may fail many, many times...but I am NOT a failure. I AM the righteousness of God through Christ's work on the cross. Christ redeemed me from my sin and God no longer views me as that. He views me as righteous. Even when I fail and make mistakes, God loves me anyways.

It is hard work to overcome all these negative thoughts I have running through my mind. How will I deal with it when James comes home and says the wrong thing? How will I deal with it when someone at church says something about me missing church last week? How can I get through another one of Chloe's toddlerhood "episodes"? And then this morning, God whispered in my ear..."Anna, I don't expect you to get through the whole day right now. I don't even expect you to get through the next hour right now. All I expect you to do is to get through this moment, right now! I have given you everything you need to get through right now".

Psalm 46:10a - "Be still and know that I am God..."


I can rest. I can enjoy the moment right now. Even in my depression, I know God is with me. Last night during one my "episodes" God reminded me of that very fact. A few years ago I memorized Psalms 139. A wonderful chapter and if you ever have the opportunity to memorize scripture, I challenge you to put this one at the top of your list.

Psalm 139:7-10 - "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my beds in the depths, you are there. If I rise up on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."


I have always read that verse to mean that no matter where I go in the world, God will be with me. It has helped me in our many moves that have taken us all over the world. (literally...because such is the life of a military wife) But last night, God showed me that it also means wherever my emotions take me as well. If my spirit flies up so high I am on cloud nine, God is there with me. Equally, if I make my dwelling place in the deepest, darkest pit of despair, God is STILL with me. I cannot flee from Him. His right hand is holding me fast. AND HE LOVES ME! No matter where I am at...cloud nine or the pit of despair...He Loves Me!

So, right now...

I am ending this blog post.

Right now...


I am hoping and praying God has spoken to someone's heart through my openess.

Right now...

I am smiling because I am about to go play with my little girl. What we will play, I don't know. I think I will let her choose. But whatever she chooses, it will be fun and I will smile and I will enjoy that moment in time. Just that moment.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Wheeee!!! That was fun!

The word "fun" can be classified into two major categories.

Whoa! and Whee!

The first one (Whoa) is used to describe the kind of fun you have where the end result leaves you with a sense of awe. It leaves you speechless, breathless and you can barely utter the words "Whoa! That was fun!" Its the sort of fun that takes a little bit of time to build up and it is quite possible one might not even recognize it as fun during the process. Yet at the end, you are amazed at what you have accomplished.

Take crocheting a baby dress in size 10 thread, for instance. (or even a doily for those of you who wouldn't ever attempt a thread dress in a thousand years) While crocheting your particular item of choice (doily or dress) you think to yourself, "Why did I think this would be fun?" but when the project reaches completion...well...all you can do is open your mouth and whisper "Ahhh". Then you KNOW it was fun.

The second kind of fun (Whee) is a much different kind of fun. Whee's attributes are more closely associated with the feeling one gets while swirling about a roller coaster. It only takes a minute of time but the ride is so excruciatingly exhilarating that you find yourself returning 20 more times just to experience it.

It is this second kind of fun I experienced today. I made something quick and easy and fun. (in the Whee sort of way) And now I am having thoughts that I would like to make at least 20 more of them. (not all for me...)

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Doesn't that set just look fun? I mentioned that I needed to make this in yesterday's post. I am quite proud of myself since I ended up doing what I intended to do. (quite a difficult accomplishment for me, let me tell you) Anyways, this is for my brother and his wife and it left today in their Christmas package bound for their place in the jungle. (and I DO mean jungle)

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The set includes a table runner and 4 placemats. I used a cute Christmassy fabric for the table runner and the tops of the placemats. Then I backed two of the placemats in red and two in green. (something different) I even attached tassles to the table runner. (I would have attached them to the placemats as well but I didn't have enough and I though 1 lone, tassle-less placemat would look kind of silly surrounded by 3 tassled ones.)

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I used Butterick pattern B5059.

Speaking of sewing, I told you yesterday that I made a couple of skirts a while back and failed to show them to you. Well, here they are.

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You'll never guess what pattern that is. Betcha can't. Betcha'll never guess. Okay. Those of you who know me probably already guessed. Yes. This means that I have FOUR of these skirts. But they sure are cute, aren't they? I experimented a bit and did them in two tone. Nifty, eh? You may even recognize the pink fabric on them. Need a clue? Here...a clue.

In addition to that, I completed another sewing project today. I started it for my mother's birthday but ran into snags. I even showed it to her while she was here just so she could help me figure it out. She wasn't able to. So, I didn't get it done in time for her birthday. Luckily, I finished it today so I can at least send it in her Christmas package. (NO. This will not be her Christmas present. What do you think I am? Cruel?)

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While I would not classify this project as anything closely related to "fun", I can say that I learned some things while sewing it. I couldn't tell you what they were now but I am sure that when the time comes for me to remember them, I will.

I even crocheted a little coat for a candy cane yesterday. I doubt it will cold enough for it in the jungle where my brother lives, but I thought it would be better to send the candy canes along prepared for the worst.

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When my parents came for their visit they came loaded with goodies. My mother gave me this apron she found at a yard sale. Isn't is the cutest?

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Somehow she also found out that I like vintage sorts of things so she gave me some dishcloths and potholders.

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The dress one came from my grandmother Anna. I believe she made it. I could be wrong, but I think she did. I just love it. The other two my mother picked up at yard sales.

Well, its been fun but its Friday night so you all know what that means!!! I better get going and see what James wants to do about dinner. Have a fun weekend. Laugh alot at silly things.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Recent Projects

Just because I have been absent from the blogging world for quite some time doesn't mean I wasn't busily making things. You all know me. No matter how far down my little hole I climb, I will ALWAYS create things. Whether by my own design or someone else's pattern. I just can't control myself when it comes to crafting. Its something in my soul.

So, I thought I would briefly show you a few things I have worked on in the past month. First, I sent a package to my secret pal over at the ville. I made a few of my utmost favorite dishcloths for her. I adore this pattern. Guess what the name is? My Favorite Dishcloth. Fitting. Very fitting. I couldn't have named it better myself. I am sorry but the link for this pattern is gone from crochet pattern central so I don't have it anymore.

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I actually have made quite a few more of these simple dishcloths in the past month but I figured once you've seen one picture there probably isn't much point in showing you 5 pictures of the same dishcloth in multiple colors. So, I spared you the misery.

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I also crocheted her a capelet from the book Amazing Lace Crochet. She likes "Americana" colors but I didn't have enough of any one color to finish the capelet so I did it in three colors. I used TLC Amore yarn from my stash. I like the feel of this yarn but I don't like working with it. I probably won't be buying much more of it in the future. It will definately keep her warm though, despite the laciness of the capelet.

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I am pretty excited about the above item. It is a crochet hook case. I really enjoyed sewing this. A fun little project that only took me a couple of hours. I have cut out a dress for Chloe using this Raggedy Ann fabric and so when I found out my secret pal loves Raggedy Ann, I just KNEW I HAD to sew her a Raggedy Ann hook case. It turned out adorable. Now I just need a couple for myself to put my collection of hooks in.

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Yes. That's it. That's the one. I finished the Thanksgiving Harvest Ensemble for a customer order and got it mailed out to her. I learned a couple of things while making this ensemble.

1. Charge more money for larger children's dresses than I do for baby sized dresses. I actually didn't make any profit on this dress because of the amount of yarn I had to purchase to complete it.

2. I won't be using cotton yarn for such a large dress anymore. I must stick with acrylic. The weight of the dress really pulls the cotton yarn down after you wash it.

3. Make sure I order enough yarn at one time. I had to make three different yarn orders to get enough yarn to complete this dress. That really added alot of time onto the project and gave me less time to actually crochet it.

And guess what!!! I have a second dress order. Yay! This time I will be making my Angel Lace Ensemble for a guy James works with. I have 3 weeks to get it done before he leaves the country to go back home. I can do it though. I know I can!!! I am confident in myself.

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One problem I have with designing is that I order yarn for a project not knowing how much yarn its going to take. Such was the case with the above sweater. I ran out of yarn. I thought 10 balls would be enough, but as you can see...I am one sleeve short. It is much cuter on me than it looks in the picture. I have never made a wearable for an adult before (unless you count shawls and capes...I don't) I wanted it to be more "fitting" than the normal crocheted sweaters I see. I wanted it to be warm as well. I think I did a good job. Just wait until I have it finished so you can see it on me. Then you will see what I am talking about when I say "fitting". I am pleased with it. It will be very warm come cold weather season. I used KnitPicks Telemark wool. Yummy. Warm. Perfect! This color is called Pesto and I thought...umm...YES...it does indeed remind me of pesto. A darker pesto. Interesting.

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I am so good. That I am. I have started on Christmas. Aren't I good?? The above is a bath set I crocheted for my neice in Papua New Guinea. I just love these bath sets. Such a neat gift idea.

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Also included in this family's package will be these ornaments and Christmas Doily I finished up this morning. I have to tell you...crocheting a doily in white and red is a fun experience in and of itself. I could literally taste peppermint as I was crocheting. It took me two days to finish this doily because I had to keep putting it down for a while just to stop the drool from running down my chin onto the doily. Every once in a while I could almost smell the peppermint coming from the thread. Isn't that amazing? If you would like a freshness while crocheting, I encourage you to crochet a red and white doily. It will freshen your breath for sure.

Okay. The name of this doily is Captain's Wheel and is found in The Ultimate Doily Book.

I will try to get a picture of the doily after it is finished drying.

We have also started our Christmas baking. Our first cookie this year was just a simple chocolate chip cookie. But hey! Can't go wrong with chocolate chip cookies, can you? I don't think so.

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I hope that licking beaters will always bring fond childhood memories for Chloe. I know it does for me. So, into the freezer went the cookies and now I am ready for something a little more...ummm...Christmassy. I am thinking fudge...or caramel corn...or fudge...

I have a few other sewing projects I finished as well but I forgot to take pictures of them. What I have left in my house I will have to photograph for you all and show them to you. I am off to sew one last thing for my brother's package so I can ship it off to Papua New Guinea tomorrow. Just you wait and see what I have up my sleeve this time. I am thinking it will be my main Christmas present next year for everyone!!! Such a cute idea.

Have a great day everyone! God bless you all as you begin your Christmas preperations.