Wednesday, December 22, 2010

odds and ends....and a Christmas wish (at the very end..)

We're on our break from school and most of the big list items are checked off so I've been able to enjoy some of those little things that make the house and the holidays special.  We made this snack mix for Mckenzie's basketball teammates.  Lip gloss tied to each bag was the perfect teen gift. 
John Samuel and I finished his art project together.  We simply tied strips of fabric around a coat hanger circle and added a bow at the top.  His art teacher had the kids make these in class and that was the day that my guy was sick, so she saved him a set to work on at home.  He found the perfect hanging spot for his Christmas wreath. (my bedroom!)
I wasn't liking the veggies prints in my family room for Christmas.  The carrots sort of clashed with the pine and the angels, so I made a quick cover up! 
I printed out the letters to spell NOEL on some craft paper and cut them to the size that I needed.  I simply taped them to the glass right over the offending veggies....wa~la....Christmas art!  (After Christmas I'm planning to print the letters for SNOW- the veggies can re-appear in the spring)
I always like to take something homemade to our neighbors for Christmas. Some families are getting this snack mix.  It is always a hit with everyone and it mixes up very quickly.  I packaged it up in quart mason jars and added a tag and a bow.
and some of our neighbors are getting these cookies....
The nice thing about these cookies are that you make up the dough and roll it into logs.  I store the dough in my fridge and when I'm ready to bake cookies, I simply roll a log in some colored sugar, slice and bake.  I love that we can have freshly baked, homemade cookies at a moment's notice!  (note: I only baked mine for 10 minutes instead of the 12-16 that the recipe calls for....otherwise, they were way too crispy!)
I've found that these pretzel bags make great treat bags for cookies...the size holds just the right amount of cookies to bless singles and older couples!  The tags came from eighteen25...feel free to link up and print your own. 
Anyways....thanks for sticking around through such a long and rambly post....I'm going to take a break and finish up some secret Christmas knitting and enjoy the days leading up to Christmas. I'll be back after Christmas. 
I'm so thankful for each one of you who visit and take the time to comment and share.  I'm so very blessed by your friendship.   I want to wish each of you a blessed and peaceful Christmas.  I hope that your homes are places of joy and wonder as Christmas approaches.  May you find time to abide as the shepherds did many years ago and may the Christ Child change your life as He has changed mine.  Merry Christmas friends. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

mug mats

Kristyn was here over Thanksgiving and she brought her Christmas quilt with her. She did a fabulous job on it.  I drooled over it, I stroked it, I took pictures of it.  It is stunning.  It is inspiring.  It made me want to make a Christmas quilt.
 I looked at my calendar and came back to reality.  Although she had to eventually pack her quilt up and take it home with her, she did leave me some scraps (thanks girl!) ....and that was all I needed to make these mug mats. 
 Have you seen these around blog land? It seems like lots of people are making them.  They're the perfect little vehicle for holding a cup of coffee and an afternoon treat.  I made mine with 2 inch strips sewed together and then quilted them with straight lines. 
 In the middle is some warm and natural.  I used 2 inch binding and attached it with my machine.  Paired with a mug (from Target), a candy cane and a gift card, these make a great gift. 
 I also made some tags to go with them so that the recipients would know what to do with them once they took them out of the package.  Nothing like blank stares to ruin a gift giving moment.  Oh and they make great candle mats too!
 Today,we're off to our co-op classes and these are our teacher gifts....I'll let you know if they invoke any drooling! 
How about you, do you have a favorite gift that you give to teachers or co-workers?  Below is the gift tag I placed in each mug with the mug mat and gift card...feel free to copy and print them as you need.  I simply printed them on white copy paper and adhered some scrapbook paper to the back.  Stay merry!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

amidst the hustle and bustle

The end of November and the beginning of December seem to be just going by at the speed of light.  It's been a flurry of activity here at our house.  From basketball games to holiday preparations, our days have been full.  When I look at the calendar I can't believe how close it is to Christmas.  I want to slam on the breaks and slow things down, but I know that realistically that can't happen. 

I was reading in my quiet time this morning about the importance of tending to the inner fire - of making sure that the important doesn't get lost in the urgent.  This is a season of 'preparing Him room'.   This is the season of 'Immanuel, God with us'.  But sadly for me, too many days go by where I've 'prepared my room and asked God to keep up with me'.  Christmas will come and go and I don't want to have missed tending to the most important things.  I don't want to be the innkeeper with the inn that's too full to allow the Messiah residence. 
 "To prepare Him room is to make time to enter the stillness, to embrace the quiet, to listen for that 'still, small voice'."*  I'm purposing to set aside some time each day to be still.  To reflect and listen and pour over that which really matters.  I want to intentionally seek the Messiah during this season just as the wise men did long ago.  My quiet time each day will be those moments when the activity stills and I turn my heart and focus on the greatest Gift that was given. 
 I encourage you to find time each day to tend the inner fire as well, so that when this holiday season is over you and I won't have spent our earnings on trinkets and baubles, but on eternal treasures that carry into the next year..

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;
and the government will be upon His shoulder. 
His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
 Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6

*Christ, the Light of the World - A Devotional by Thomas Kinkade 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

catching the drips

Our Thanksgiving was great.  My dad was here this year; it was so nice that he wasn't traveling with the WVU basketball team. I can't remember the last time he's been home for Thanksgiving. His presence was a real treat.  The meal was delicious, although I thought the turkey was a bit dry - but that's why we had gravy! 
My aunt made the best pumpkin upside down cake and the kids all played a game of football when the weather cleared. The day was spent visiting, eating, napping and doing dishes.  As the mountain of dishes was washed we used my newly sewn dish mat
 I made this dish mat for all those dishes that aren't allowed to go into the dishwasher.  I typically have used tea towels and they would end up very soggy.  But this dish mat worked caught all the drips and stayed absorbent til the last glass was put away.  The back of it is an old bath towel that I re purposed and it works much better at catching those drips than a cotton tea towel. And it looks pretty!
 I made for us and one for a gift.  These would make great hostess gifts over the holiday season.  You could make them in a Christmas/winter theme or coordinate them to match your hostess's kitchen.  They are fast and satisfying and they made dish washing a little bit more fun.  I've got a couple more to make for Christmas presents....I just need to round up some more 'out of commission towels' to reuse.  This week we're putting away the turkeys and pilgrims and pulling out the Christmas decorations....I hope your week is full of new inspiration as well!  happy last day of November.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The kids have been hounding me about decorating for Christmas.  They are wanting to get the tree up and pull out all the trimmings that go along with it.  We're on break from school this week and in reality it would be a great time to get the big holiday decorating done....but I just can't do it.
I actually went downstairs to our storage area to pull down some boxes, but I just left them on the shelf.  I'm not in a hurry to get to the next holiday.  I want to savor this holiday.  I don't want to miss Thanksgiving in the rush to get to Christmas.  That's not a blanket statement on my feelings about decorating pre-season. I'm not opposed to decorating early - as a matter of fact, some years we've had Christmas up while enjoying the turkey....but this year I want to sit and marinate in the current season.  
The Christmas boxes will come out soon enough.  Right now though, I'm enjoying not having to get ready for the next big thing.  There is so much to be thankful for and I want to have the space, mentally, to enjoy those blessings.  I hope that this Thanksgiving finds you with some time to reflect on your blessings....Happy Thanksgiving!  May it be a day that turns into a season of much gratitude for you and your family. 
"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever."  1 Chronicles 16:34

Friday, November 19, 2010

I couldn't make just one....

My mom wanted a pencil pouch to carry her pencils with her to I made her this:
It's very basic. Nothing fancy or overly creative.  However, I needed some help with how to put in the zipper and while looking for directions that would work with my simple plan, I found this pattern.  Which led to this:
So, now I'm set with some gifts for the holidays....isn't it funny how one things leads to another?!
Special thanks to Vanessa who blogs over at Little Big Girl Studio for the free pattern.  She did a fabulous job with the directions.  These little pouches were so fun to make.... I guess that's obvious, by the fact that I couldn't make just one! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

baby love

Showers tend to go in showers by the handful and those are usually followed with baby showers by the dozens.  It's been a while since I've been to a baby shower and my friend Jennifer is having her fourth baby.  She's my age and her youngest is 13.  I have been so blessed to watch her walk through this pregnancy with grace and joy.  In all honesty, to be starting over with a little one would be quite the upheavel to life as one knows it.  Her oldest is graduating from high school this year.  Do you get the picture?  I'm sure that she feels pulled between two worlds.  However, in talking with Jennifer, you'd never know it. 
She is glowing as she waits for this new little life.  She's been a great example to me in trusting God with the details of life.  Resting in His plan has brought her peace and acceptance in a powerful and exemplary way.  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11  She glows because she's trusting in His plan for her life.  That has been so powerful to watch. 
So....I had to knit this new little person some cotton sweetness.  Beth sent me the pattern for the sweater and my favorite baby hat was the perfect topper.  This was my first baby sweater and it was so quick and fun to knit!  Thank goodness for Ravelry pictures though, because if I hadn't been able to see how this sweater was to look before seaming it might have turned out to be a straight jacket.  But that's the great thing about knitting (and life) learn even through the mistakes. 
Here's the knitty gritty:
Sweater Pattern: Ribbed Baby Jacket
Needles: size 7 and 8
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease - less than 1 Skein
Size: 0-6 months
Modifications:  Instead of adding a buttonhole, I added the button to the sweater and crocheted a closure for securing the sweater. 

Hat Pattern: Simple Baby Hat from Itty Bitty Hats
Needles: size 7
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease - the remaining part of the skein
Size: newborn
Modifications: Instead of binding off and pulling the yarn through the last stitches, I continued to knit those stitches for about 3 inches.  Then I pulled the yarn through them, and knotted the top. 

I highly recommend both of these patterns...they were great baby knits. (they received lots of ooohs and aaahs at the shower) Do you have a favorite baby knit that you love to stitch and gift? 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

justifiable sewing

As you walk into our house, you'll be greeted by piles of shoes, slippers and flip flops.  I try my best to keep them corralled, but they seem to have a pack mentality and no matter how many times I neaten them, they always re-assemble themselves into a big gnarly pile.  If you look up and above the piles of shoes (be careful not to trip!) You'll notice my knitting bag.  It's hanging on one of the hooks right in the entry way.  I keep it there so I can grab it as I'm heading out the door or when I have a rare moment to sit and knit at home.
 I love the idea of a knitting basket, but so does Molly the dog and she seems to think that my knitting is her dog toy, so a hanging bag is much safer.  My knitting bag hasn't changed for about 3's been the same Vera Bradley bag.  The perfect size and shape.  The other day though, I noticed that it didn't really match anything around it.  It's pink and black and my house is khakis, reds and greens.  I know, that sounds crazy, but when I stopped to think it through, I realized that my knitting bag hangs on that peg about 90% of the time.  It's part of the room.  It's what you see when you trip walk in the door.   I knew then that I needed to make it right.  (justifiable sewing is what this is called - try it!  it works!) 
My mom gave me the gift of a couple of hours all to myself the other week and after I finished singing and dancing through the house, I used that time to make a new bag.  I made an autumn bag....I used some fabrics that Larissa had sent me months ago and I couldn't be happier! 
 It works great when I grab it and head out the door.  I used Larissa's tutorial for the deputy tote and added 2 inches to the overall size.  A wonky flower was added to give it some extra snap.  I sewed a pocket to the inside to hold all my little things like scissors and tape measures.  It really is a great tote! 
I love how it looks as it spends most of its time on the peg in my entry way!  Did you realize that Christmas is only 52 days away!?  I'm sure that I'm gonna need a holiday version when we deck our know what I'm sayin!?  Maybe I'll deal with the shoe issue in January! 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ginger gems and pumpkin dip

Do you have seasonal foods that you only seem to make at certain times of the year?  I tend to have an collection of desserts and dishes that I only make in the autumn.  Pumpkin cake, pumpkin curry soup, and pilgrim cakes, just to name a few.
Ginger gems are one of those cookies that just scream autumn to me.  They are ginger snaps that you dip in a creamy pumpkin dip.  The crunchy/chewy cookie and the creamy sweet dip are perfect together. 
I gathered this recipe from a friend many years ago and it's one that's stood the test of time. (thanks Beth Ann!)  I go back to it over and over again.  When I made them to take to a meeting, my guy asked me why I didn't make them all summer.  I was trying to explain to him that they were an autumn treat.  "Mom", he said, "These are too good to be just for autumn time. Make them all year."  Well.  There you have it.  I guess we'll be enjoying these year round. 
Here's the recipe in case you'd like to try them:
Ginger Gems
*3/4 cup shortening         *4 TBSP molasses           *1 cup sugar             *1 egg
*2 cups flour                  *2 tsp baking soda           * 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
*1/4 tsp. nutmeg              *1/2 tsp allspice               *1/2 tsp. cloves
*1/2 tsp. ginger

Cream shortening, sugar, molasses and egg.  Add dry ingredients.  Chill for 1 hour.  Roll into balls and then roll in sugar.  Bake 10 minutes at 375 until edges are light brown and middles are soft.  Serve with Pumpkin Dip. 
Pumpkin Dip
*15 oz. can pumpkin pie filling (without the spices)
*1 8oz. block of cream cheese, softened
*2 cups powdered sugar
*1/2 tsp. ginger
*1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix and chill.