Book Bags for the Kiddos.

When you’re a kid, nothing beats not having to share having your very own something. Nothing makes it yours better than plastering your name right on it. So this Christmas, I made my nephew and niece their very own book bags. Thanks to my cousin Penny who sent me this inspiration pic:

Library Tote ExampleThis is what I came up with:

Book Bag Book bagI knew I wanted to make my own tote so I could add some pizzazz. I find that knowing how to make a solid, standard tote bag is a skill that always comes in handy. So I appreciate the practice. Adding a liner allowed me to lazily pay attention to only the outside prettiness of the bag. The liner covers the interior part that looks disastrous  With reinforced handles (made from strapping), this bag should be able to withstand haul after haul of library books and/or other kiddo necessities.

While I don’t have a step-by-step photo tutorial for you, as I was crazily finishing these in the middle of the night, the eve of Christmas eve, I can give you some details that might help if you’d like to make your own.

I started with measurements of 17 1/2″ (h) x 16 1/2″ (w). I folded the top down two inches so ending measurements were probably something like 15 1/4″ x 16″. I simply hand cut out flannel letters and sewed them in place. This took forever and I’m sure had I left myself more time, I could have found a less time consuming method.

book bag book bag Book bag Book BagThey were a success. Especially since hidden inside was a book to add to their sprawling collections. “Skippy John Jones” for Giana and “The Secret Identity of Awesome Man” for Samuel. It was great watching these two open presents. They were delighted in each one and willingly gave out lots of thank you hugs…

…of which I gladly accepted.

Owen, Samuel and Giana

I’m Alive.

Breathing? Check. Pulse? Check. So…technically alive. Though if you’d seen me the past couple of weeks you’d have thought a really dull and stressed out alien had invaded my being, whilst using my body as a vessel to live out it’s evil plans. But not anymore, baby.

I had just enough time for little bits of fun the weeks leading to Christmas before I would be thrust back into my sewing room to…you got it…keep sewing. I just didn’t have the energy at 3am, when I’d be done with an order, to write a well-crafted post about my birthday or whatever. So after a few days of not writing and feeling terribly guilty, this magical thing happened: I forgave myself and moved on. I gave myself permission to focus on what needed most focusing.

I finished my last Christmas order on the 24th and 1:45 am. Probably the earliest finish time in at least a couple of weeks. This month has been the most affirming, challenging and down right surprising one I’ve had in a long time. I had NO idea that people with Etsy shops make 3/4 of their earrings during this time of year. I had NO idea that others were slowly building inventory in order to meet demand. But I can proudly say, I successfully survived my first Christmas season on Etsy, making every deadline and not turning away a single order, all the way up to the 20th.

You haven’t missed out on much these past days. I didn’t have time to do a single holiday DIY project or make any fun new recipes…let alone blog about them. Every post would have read, “Guess what I’m doing? STILL sewing”. You would have been terribly bored.

However between the sewing frenzies, I did do a few fun things. I turned 27, threw a surprise Settlers of Catan party for my husband who completed his graduate program, gathered with good friends to celebrate the holidays and each other, spent lots of time with family for Christmas, made my dog a Christmas bandanna, went to a Sherlock Holmes play and made some adorable presents for my nephews and niece for Christmas.

I’m taking a three-day hiatus from the sewing room, and tonight I plan on making butternut squash lasagna for dinner. This first new recipe I’ll be trying in what feels like forever. Sigh. Feels good to be back.

Matt Graduate Settler's Board Haley and Giana GidMaster Christmas Christmas Party Fireplace

Merry Christmas!

No.

No, no, no.Valentines day in DecemberSigh – accompanied by a brow rub. How about we get a freaking second…just one freaking second…to actually enjoy the holiday that is still a week away. Don’t make me hate you, Valentines Day. I refuse to think about you until February 12th and don’t want you all up in my face. Hear me?

Christmas time is here.

Christmas CardIsn’t Gideon the cutest thing since baby ducklings?

We decided to do a Christmas card, mostly because this year we’ve felt so settled at our home and with our little family here. People like to hear about the chickens and Gideon. We thought it would bring a smile to their face to see them. We literally just turned to each other one afternoon and said, “Hey let’s go take a picture”. It was raining. We rigged up my dinky digital camera onto a ladder with a backpacking-tripod, and balanced an umbrella over it. Gideon got thrown in the wheel barrow, where he stayed freakishly calm. The chickens were swooped up, Matt and I posed. Done. Originally I wanted the picture to be a little chaotic. A chicken flapping around, Gid in mid-jump out of the barrow, Matt or I with our eyes closed, but it was all just so peaceful. I couldn’t bring myself to toss one of the chickens in the air. So I’m satisfied with this. Plus based on what I hear friends say, after you have kids, you consider yourself lucky to get a Christmas picture that’s not chaotic. And if it happens it’s usually after 50 takes. This picture is very reflective of our lives this past year. Busy little people, building our home and shaping our future together.

Have a great Christmas card idea? I wanna hear it! Merry Christmas to you all!

Toddler Apron Cuteness.

When I heard my sister in law talk about how much her daughter loved her play kitchen, I knew what I had to do. Giana’s 2nd birthday was right around the corner and I saw my opportunity to make her something special.

Apron1Apron3Apron2I’m going to give you a semi-tutorial on how to make this little apron (2 to 4yrs). I call it a semi-tutorial because I just sort of did it, and now I’m trying to sort of explain how I did it. There is no pretty step by step photos, but maybe this info will help:

I started knowing that I wanted the apron to be 19″ long and 14″ wide. I created these measurements using a few different sources I found online. So I taped 4 sheets of card stock together to create my rectangle. Fold the sheet in half, lengthwise. Cut a nice little curve out of the top corner. 5 inches down and 3 1/2 inches across.

Apron8You can round off the bottom corner or leave it straight.
IMG_1892When you open the paper you’ve got your pattern!

IMG_3276Lay this on your fabric, trace and cut out. I attached a front pocket, about 8″ by 6″ before it was hemmed and sewn on. You can see I added some cupcake patches. You can make the pocket any shape you’d like.

IMG_9378 (1)The edging and the straps are all hand-made bias tape. Bias tape is simply a strip of fabric, with the raw edges folded in and iron closed. See how I explained it here. I wrapped the bottom and very top with bias tape, slightly squaring off the bottom corners. It was just quicker that way. The straps are about  24″ long.

This pattern is totally adjustable. Add some ruffle or pizzazz. Make it all your own.

Or her own.

IMG_1050 apron10Gianna loves her new apron. But she became quickly obsessed with the little dish towel I made. She carried it around with her the whole evening. She also discovered that she could keep all her little treasures in her apron pocket. Her keys, a lollipop, a birthday card from her cousin and her dish towel. Everything a girl needs.

IMG_0626 IMG_0380So go get sewing. I bet you know someone who would love this for Christmas.

O Christmas Tree

It feels a little funny doing the whole Christmas tree thing when it’s just Matt and I. We don’t think there is a fat jolly man bringing us presents, nor do we load the bottom up with gifts to ourselves or others. And It’s a lot of work for something that few other people will see. But, we both feel that we must do it, for some inarticulate reason. Neither of us have strong feelings about it…it’s just something you do. So we did it. I do like the lights. And the smell.

We went U-Picking. Which was a bit overwhelming for an indecisive perfectionist like me.

037049But, against all odds we found one. Haley approved.

040042044Unbeknownst to me, I had an evening of decorating the tree alone ahead of me. My hubby informed me, a bit late, that he had grad school work to do. Luckily my lovely friend Lisby came by unannounced and was roped into tree decorating duty. I don’t think she minded.

053054-001055-001054It was like being in college (or maybe even high school) again. Matt actually had to come out and turn our Christmas music down so he could focus on his work. We just laughed and moaned “Poor Matt”. So that made it all worth it to me. As far as I’m concerned the setting-up part is the whole point and is something to be shared and enjoyed! Lisby made it so.

To my surprise (and Matt’s) we finished decorating the tree.

018I still love the metal washtub, doubling as the tree basin and the big metal star topper, both repeats from last year.

This washtub is from Lowes. I think it cost about $15 and our tree stand fits perfectly inside. I like its rustic and clean look.

017I couldn’t find a topper last year that met my standards. I wanted a big, rustic, metal star. I eventually settled with two wall-mount stars and just stuck em’ together with wire.

006I’d love to hear about your Christmas tree traditions. Got any good tips or DIY projects for your tree this year?

Soft Gingersnaps

Sometimes, all you want is a sugary, soft, chewy cookie.

One that’s quick to whip up, easy to bake and great to share.

Welcome, the soft gingersnap.

Perfect for Fall. It’s a crowd pleaser for sure.

Soft Gingersnap Cookie – from allrecipes.com

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup white sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Beat together ALL the ingredients except the last two. Once blended well, mix in the extra 1 and 1/4 cup flour.

3. Shape into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until tops are cracked. Watch for burning on the bottom.

Enjoy. You can thank me later.