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.

Photobucket


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.

Photobucket


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

Photobucket


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.

Photobucket


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.

Photobucket


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.

Photobucket


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?)

Photobucket


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.

Photobucket


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.

Photobucket


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!!!

Photobucket


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???

Photobucket


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.

Photobucket


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.

Photobucket


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...

Photobucket


...which has been started...

Photobucket


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.

Photobucket

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....

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


...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)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


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

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


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.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


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.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


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

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


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...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


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...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


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...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


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)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


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.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


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)