Thursday, December 23, 2010

We Finally Have Joseph!

Ok, who was with me last Christmas when I decided to embark on the "make the kids their own felt nativity" project?  Anyone?

Well, to refresh . . .

Last year I found this very cute pattern from BuggaBugs on Etsy to make a felt nativity.  I got to working on it and then the wind went out of my sails when the kids were gifted a lovely felt nativity from their great grandmother that was in her personal collection and made in Kyrgyzstan.  I tried to persevere, but I far from finished.

In fact, in the end all I had was the manger, baby Jesus, Mary, and a Shepherd.  Why I didn't make Joseph before I made the Shepherd I'll never know.  But I did.  So, kind of awkwardly, said Shepherd was kind of a Joseph stand-in.

I know . .  . like I said, AWKWARD.

So I made a little vow to myself that even if I didn't have time to finish the whole nativity this year, I'd at least make Joseph so the Holy Family could be the Holy Family and the Shepherd could just go back to being a Shepherd.

And so all is right again in Felt Nativity World:

Felt Nativity - So Far . . .


I hope these last few days before Christmas are joyful and sweet and filled with the Peace of Christ for each and every one of you.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flower Sugar Giveaway

My goodness . . . if RetroMummy doesn't have the best giveaways. 20 Fat Quarters of Flower Sugar by Lecien? Um . . . YES PLEASE.


CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Mikey AND Molly Monkey

Mikey and Molly Monkey

You're looking at 'em.  The super secret project that has kept me locked inside my sewing room for the past 3 days.  Christmas gifting in our family is going to be slim this year, but I still wanted to make something for my 2 favorite little people.

I had been sitting on these patterns (Molly Monkey and Mikey Monkey) for the last YEAR . . . I had intended on making them for the kids for Christmas last year but just plumb ran out of time.  An added challenge I put on myself before I started was to see how few things I could get away with buying.  I wanted to see how creative I could get with my somewhat modest stash.

I love seeing piles on piles of gorgeous fabrics on shelves . . . just waiting for the perfect projects.  But the truth is for me, most of my stash consists of the scraps of leftover fabric from my previous projects, and a few pieces here and there that I pulled out of the remnant bins on clearance.  I just don't have a fabric category built into my budget.

Anyway, being able to pull these guys together with stuff on hand made this project all the more satisfying in the end.  It reminded me of that 100 Day Craft Burn I did last year.  I think all I ended up needing was 1 piece of felt to make Mikey's hat and shoes.  :)

Opening my stash drawers reveals my love of girly fabrics . . . maybe because I'm a girl and because most of the stuff I've made has been for girls.  So I had a little trouble coming up with the fabric for Mikey.  Until I had a little brainwave.

Recently, my nephew was born and I had pulled out all of Kee-ku's little newborn clothes to offer to my sister in case she needed any of them.  It was upon going through those clothes in the bin I realized how tragically stained some of them were.  What's odd is I don't remember putting stained clothing in there, so I don't know if time just kinda warped some of the stuff and stains that weren't terribly visible just decided to show themselves or what.  Anyway, it was a bit disappointing.

Until I realized I COULD SAVE THEM!  I could take these little clothes and make them into something new.  :)

Here's one that I found.  It's a little guayabera-esque one piece that Kee-ku wore to a wedding we went to when he was about 2 weeks old.  I so very much wanted to salvage the buttons, but they pose a choking hazard for a 16 month old so I had to leave them off.  :(  The little detailing on the sleeves would have been SO cute to work in, don't you think?

Here's what the Mikey shirt fabric looked like when I pulled it out of the bin:

So yeah . . . there was some inexplicable staining on that shoulder and part of the collar so obviously no other kid was going to wear it again.  I wish I had a picture of Kee-ku in it, but he was swaddled in a wrap the whole time we were at that wedding so I fear that none exists.

Here are a few "in process" shots . . . I did take a few very tiny breaks from my toiling to snap these pics, but had no time to make separate blog posts for them.  
 I decided to cut into a piece of Alexander Henry's "Love-In" that I've been sitting on for a few years to make the body for Molly.  I just adore those fun colorful hearts.  Her little skirt was made up of charm squares that I acquired from my last swap and her "socks" were made from a colorful stripey remnant I bought awhile back for 87c. 
For some reason I had lots of that luxurious brown chenille leftover from the cloth baby book I made for my cousin's baby about 2 years ago.  I used very little of it on the book so I was kind of astounded that I had enough left of it to squeeze out enough pieces to make TWO monkeys.

[Just a note on working with chenille . . . it is a PAIN IN THE you-know-what.  The stuff is constantly curling at the edges.  Thank goodness I had a fabric glue stick for basting.  Pinning that mess would have given me hives, I assure you.]

But in the end, it was all worth it and now the kids will have two very soft and very huggable monkey friends
Mikey and Molly Monkey
And yes, they're holding hands.  ;)

Anyone else finishing up some last minute holiday gift-making?




Linking up with the best of em RIGHT HERE!

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cute Clutch Giveaway Winner . . .

Who says commenting early doesn't pay?

By the powers vested in Random.Org:

 

The winner of the cute clutch giveaway is ANISSA who said:


Glad to hear she's coming to live with you, friend!  (And I hear ya . . . I stayed up way too late entering giveaways too.)

Oh, and thank you to the 145 people (WAHOO!) who entered. I see some of you are new followers (I tried to respond to each and every comment that came in . . . it kept me busy!) . . . so happy to have you all.

Definitely doing this giveaway thing again. SO MUCH FUN. :)

Anyone else win anything this go round?

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Looking for the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway? It's RIGHT HERE!

***************************** 

I know.  Me = not a food blogger.  But this was another kid-friendly deal, so I thought I'd share.  :)

This past weekend my friend came over prepared to get her bake on.  Simple style.  And Little Miss was so excited.

We made up 3 bags of sugar cookies (I didn't say we SCRATCH-BAKED), and frosted and decorated them.  Little Miss especially loved smashing up the dough in the bowl and sprinkling all the little goodies on top.


But that's not really what this post is about.  This post is about Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies.

I found the recipe AND the make-em-fast version over on Centsational Girl.

I have whipped out a few delectable and kinda TIME CONSUMING baked goods in the past (hello, Paula Deen Homemade Coconut Cake with Homemade Coconut Icing), but I'm no baking snob and will cut corners in the interest of time and/or sanity as the need arises.  So remembering how easy the make-em-fast version of these little cookies was, I grabbed the necessities from the grocery store.  (That sounds wrong.  I *did* pay for them too.)  Only I made them even EASIER by just buying the premade frosting.

I said it!  I bought pre-made frosting.  And I'm fine with it!  I'm sure these taste even better with the homemade recipe, but I was going to for instant gratification here.  For fun (and to make the frosting stretch a bit further) I did whip the frosting with my trusty hand-mixer first to give it a bit more fluff and volume.  Then I just slathered some on between 2 chocolate wafers while Little Miss took care of the candy canes.

With our not necessarily super kid friendly mallet:


Um . . . she LOVED doing this.

Then we just rolled up the edges in the crushed candy canes and gobbled em up.


DEE-LISH.

I'm so making . . . er . . . assembling these again.  ;)

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Cute Clutch Giveaway!

*****COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED.  THANKS FOR ENTERING!*****

As promised, today is GIVEAWAY DAY!  I've participated in Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day a few times in the past as an enter-er (that is, I've been one of those people click-clacking away like it was my job on every giveaway post on the list in the hopes of making some sweet scores), but this is my first time hosting a giveaway.

I'm really excited to do this for a few reasons:

  1. I recently celebrated my one year blogiversary . . . and it was such a fun year.
  2. Just a few weeks ago I reached over 100 followers.  (Love you guys!)
  3. I've been given so much encouragement, wonderful suggestions, sage-like advice, brilliant instruction, and just downright lots of love by all of you in the creative community (not to mention I've won some super sweet giveaways in the past), it would make my heart so happy to give something back.  :)
So without further ado I present my humble offering:
Gathered Clutch Purse

Awhile back I started testing out Noodlehead's clutch purse pattern to see if it might be something I'd like to sell in my (someday I'm going to do it . . . for reals) Etsy shop.  This little cutie was crafted with a ton of love and care, but as I was not yet a pro at the pattern there are a few minimal flaws.  Not quite good enough to sell, so now you can get it FOR FREE!

It's still adorable (in my humble opinion) and totally functional (but do be gentle with her zipper!) and would be a sweet addition to your purse wardrobe (do people have purse wardrobes?  Some people must!) or as a lovely handmade gift for a friend or loved one (I'm sure you could think of someone who would love her!).
Gathered Clutch Purse - Inside View

It's got space for a few credit cards, your wallet, cell phone, your keys . . . all the little essentials you need!  If you've got little ones in tow, might I suggest how sweet it would be to have this in your diaper bag as a little grab and go while you're out and about?
Gathered Clutch Purse

Are you sold?  :)

Here's how you enter:
-Leave a comment on this post telling me whether you'd keep this little darlin' for yourself or if not, who you would give it to.   (Don't forget to leave your email address in your comment so I can get back to you if you've won!)


Oh, and if you're a follower or become one let me know that in your comment too so I can say "Hi!"  :)

THAT'S IT!

I'll pick a winner on December 17th (Friday) so you've got a whole week to enter, but please be fair as there is only ONE entry per person.  If you mess up and need to leave another comment, please delete your first one.  (International friends: I welcome you to enter too!)

With the understanding that there is no obligation to do any of the following, I would still love it if you'd bookmark me, follow me on Twitter, become my friend on Flickr, or consider subscribing to my blog and come back for a visit sometime!  It'd be sweet to have you as part of the creative community at Skooks' Playground.  :)

Ok, now off with you!  You've got plenty more great prizes to win.

You do know that's what I'm doing right now, right?  ;)


Good luck!

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Giveaway Day!

Ok, who's excited?  December 13th, THIS MONDAY is another Sew, Mama, Sew GIVEAWAY DAY!

Uh yeah . . . and as if that wasn't enough, I'm participating and hosting my very own giveaway RIGHT HERE on Skooks' Playground! 

I made up some cuteness that I hope you will love (yes, with my own 2 hands!), so check back here on Monday, December 13th and find out how you can be entered for a chance to win (I promise, it's easy and painless).   :)

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

O Christmas Tree

Would that I had a better camera at the moment to capture how beautiful my Christmas tree looks this year.  This is our first Christmas in our new home so it's extra special to me.

Mr. Skooks found this 7 ft beauty at our local nursery (super score too as I had been sitting on a $30 gift card since my birthday which actually put it in our modest price range!):

My Christmas tree decorating tip if you have curious toddler-types living in your house: stock up on stuffed ornaments on clearance after Christmas (or make some yourself!) and let them decorate the bottom 1/3 of the tree with them.  It's hard to tell from the above photo but that's what we did and it saves my sanity knowing they're not pulling off any breakables (because they WILL pull stuff off the tree no matter how many times you tell them not to.)


I'm not sure if you can tell, but the star on top is capiz and it's absolutely gorgeous.  I found it at Target last year and love how classic it looks.


You can see a bit of what the tree skirt looks like.  Another great find at the after Christmas clearance sale at Pier 1 last year.  (I only buy holiday decor after the season because I'm cheap so super savvy like that.) 

We have a very "family" oriented tree.  There's no cohesive theme, just our collection of ornaments gathered over the years reminding us of the Christmases we have celebrated with our loved ones in the past.

I'm posting about my tree as part of Thrifty Decor Chick's "Christmas Tree Party".  I love looking at all the trees and reading all about this decor and these traditions that we hold dear.  For those of you visiting for the first time, I'll share with you that a decent chunk of the ornaments on our tree are handmade.  My mom made my sisters and me ornaments for years and it's fun to see them mixed in with the ornaments that I've started to make for my own kids:
1. Snow Child Ornament 2009 - for Kee-ku, 2. Snow Child Ornament 2009 - for Little Miss
1. Kawaii Santa Bunny Ornament 2010 - for Little Miss, 2. Christmas Tree Ornament 2010 - for Kee-ku
I realize this is not "tree" related, but it's year 2 for the handmade stockings I made for the kids as well.  We have no fireplace/mantel in our new home, but they've found their places this year on our staircase.  :)
1. Stocking for Little Miss, 2. Stocking for Kee-ku
Thanks everyone for visiting with me and checking out our little tree!  I can't wait to see how everyone else is making their home festive for the holidays.




Show Me Your Tree


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Kawaii Santa Bunny Ornament

This afternoon, I let the kids have some Christmas video-watching time while I worked this little guy up:


Kawaii Santa Bunny Ornament 2010 - for Little Miss

Little Miss had her pick of anything she wanted from the ornament ideas I posted about back here and she was hands down super excited about this little Santa bunny.  The ornament was made out of felt, a few sequins, and a pattern from Kawaii Cloud.  (Though it's not a step by step . . . it's just the pattern pieces, which I found to be easy enough to figure out without directions, though they do seem to print out a bit small-ish.)

Kawaii Santa Bunny Ornament 2010 - for Little Miss


Hurray! Christmas ornament making for 2010 is done, and it was fun. Now onto the 2 handmade gifts (one for Little Miss and one for Kee-ku) I've pledged myself to make. I still need some materials for them, but will get to working on them as soon as I can.  :)

Anyone else attempting a handmade Christmas this  year?

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pumpkin Oreo Cheesecakes

I'm not much of a recipe blogger, but these were too good not to share.  AND they are a great dessert to make with toddlers which is a plus if you've got a little one that ALWAYS WANTS TO HELP.  :)

I found this recipe on a couple of blogs just before Thanksgiving.  I don't have any delightful "after" pics, but let the pics over on Inside BruCrew Life and Moogie and Pap tantalize you.  They sure tantalized me.

Not a ton of "process" pictures for you here.  Just wanted to let you know how to do this recipe with a little helper.
  1. Ask them to line the tin with the muffin cups.
  2. Start working on the recipe while they are busy with the muffin cup business.
  3. When they're done lining the tin(s), instruct them to place one Oreo in the bottom of each of the cups.
  4. While they're busy continue working on the batter.
  5. Don't get mad if they sneak a few Oreos.  But plan for this and buy an extra package or you won't have enough Oreos to finish the recipe (learned this the hard way!)
  6. Pour the batter 3/4 full in each of the cups over the Oreos.
  7. Let them drop an extra Oreo on top of the batter of each one and help them g-e-n-t-l-y push it in.
  8. Bake.
  9. Cool.
  10. Whip cream 'em (the cheesecakes, not the kids).
  11. ENJOY!
P.S.  Remember what I said about being gentle.  ;)
These were so good, we made 'em twice in the month of November.  I think they'd make a fab dessert for a Christmas get-together too.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kee-ku's Cute Kawaii Christmas Tree Ornament

I had an opportunity last night to sit down, watch some old episodes of The Office and stitch up Kee-ku's 2010 Christmas ornament:

Christmas Tree Ornament 2010 - for Kee-ku
As I referenced in my previous post, I used the Christmas Tree Hanging Decoration pattern by JoJoEbi Designs.  As I was using my own materials and not one of her kits, I just used some buttons and sequins I had on hand rather than brads which I have none of.  Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I've never used a brad on anything before.

Hand-sewing is not something I do a lot of these days, but it's a nice change of pace from all the heavy projects I've been doing lately.  I'd attempt to take a picture of Kee-ku with his ornament, but I'm sure he'd just try to eat it like he does with everything else.

Last night I let Little Miss pick out which ornament she wanted me to make for her . . . so stay tuned!  I hope to get a chance to work on it later tonight.  :)



*****Linking up with some fun Linky Parties RIGHT HERE.*****

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Getting Creative with Kids: Magic Scratch Ornaments

You know . . . it's been awhile since we had a little "Getting Creative with Kids" post.  Believe you me we have been getting creative around here quite alot, but my motivation to blog about it has not always been overflowing.  Also, I frequently forget to take pictures of the stuff we work on.

Today the camera was handy though, and I caught the tail end of our latest project: Magic Scratch Ornaments.

I have several crafts left over from a Christmas Busy Bee Bag I bought for Little Miss last year, and she's been itching to get her craft on with them since 2 weeks before Thanksgiving.  Yes, I'm a super mean mom and I made her wait until it was at least December.  ;)

So this little craft was super simple and NO MESS which is always a plus.  Very easy to replicate for those of you without a supply of Busy Bee Bags (though I cannot recommend them enough . . . truly, they make creative times with kids as enjoyable and easy as can be.)

  1. Get your hands on some Scratch Magic Paper (google it up to see where you can buy it . . . I did and found some at several places.  Here is a link to a pack that they sell at JoAnn if you're too lazy to google it.  I'm not judging.)
  2. Cut up your paper into some ornament-y shapes.  Ours were precut as a circle, heart, star, and an angel.
  3. Punch a hole in the top.
  4. Let your little person go to town with a little stick (popsicle or otherwise) decorating them however they please.  (Little Miss has been working on her letters lately so she wrote a bunch of random ones as well as made some designs.)  Oh, and yes . . . we do sometimes craft in our jammies.  :)
  5. Take a small piece of ribbon and loop them through the hole and VOILA!  They are ready to hang.  On your tree, or wherever you fancy you need a little fun.
The angel now resides in the playroom.  Little Miss very intentionally drew a circle on the top of her head . . . I don't know if she completely gets what it's supposed to be, but she had the idea to draw it and did so.  You can barely see it . . . it's quite little, which kind of makes me love it all the more.

Have you been Christmas crafting with your kids?  Links, please.  :)



*****Linking up with all the part-ays RIGHT HERE.*****

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Handmade Ornament Ideas


Carrying on the tradition that my mom started oh so many years ago, handmade Christmas ornament season is now upon me.  Last year, I took my first stab at making handmade ornaments for my kids using the Snow Child pattern from A Bit of This and A Bit of That.  As I started to pull out my Christmas decor this past Monday I found them and couldn't help smiling.

The question is . . . what am I going to make for them this year?!

I have another pattern from the aforementioned store that is in contention this year: a cute little Christmas Tree (you can find the kit here or the pattern alone here.)  I will likely use that for one of the kids (I'm leaning towards Kee-ku), but I don't want to make them each the same exact ornament.



I know, I kinda made them almost the exact same ornament last year.  Whatevs.

So anyway, I went trolling around for a few new pattern ideas for ornaments.  So far, these cuties that I found on Etsy are in the running:
PDF Christmas Ornaments Patterns from Kawaii Cloud

PDF Pattern Felt Embroidered Christmas Ornaments eBook from Erica Hite








Flock of Christmas Wishes from Heartstring Samplery
Not in the market to buy ornament patterns, but still want to give your tree a handmade touch this year?  I just discovered that Elsie Marley is posting a new ornament tutorial every day this week!  Definitely worth checking out.

Any ornament patterns grabbing your attention lately?  I'm always open to suggestions.  :)



*****Disclaimer: I wasn't spiffed by any of the sellers mentioned in this post to give their products a mention . . . though that would have been spiffy. ;)*****

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reason #439 Why Mr. Skooks is The Best

Middle Of A Dream
Image by Victor Bezrukov via Flickr
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we packed up the kids in the ole minivan and drove a few hours southwest to visit my family.  Getting out of town is nice for a myriad of reasons, but one that I often don't think about until it's upon us is the drive itself.  The kids have historically been easy on these little road trips.  Sure, we've had our share of challenging moments (especially when Little Miss was a baby-person), but overall it's usually a good ride. 

But that's not what I'm talking about.

It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of our day to day lives . . . work, clean, cook, sleep, etc etc etc.  Mr. Skooks and I do our best to communicate . . . a lot . . . but we end up having so many of our really deep heart to hearts when we drive back and forth from my parents' house.  (2 1/2 hours of open road, 2 sleeping kids, and no TV, internet, or sewing machine will do that to you.  ;)  )

The drive home this past Sunday was no different.  After a long day of football-watching (yes, we're crazy over football in our house), we took off down the road for another great heart exchange.  Mr. Skooks posed me some tough questions and after some thought I decided that I wanted to share them with you.

For those of you who have been with me for awhile, you know that I have mused about and mentioned here and there the idea of opening up my own Etsy shop.  I had it in my head to dream about selling my creations before I even started this blog, but I had no confidence in my abilities and wondered at who would ever pay me to make something for them.  Not to mention the fact that in this economy it is hard to imagine being able to actually command a wage that would make all my hard work worthwhile.  While I haven't completely sorted all these feelings out, I had Mr. Skooks there to start really prodding the answers out of me.

"How serious are you about this business idea?"

For months now Mr. Skooks has watched me busy myself and stretch my time on projects that have been given as gifts to my loved ones.  And while he has been supportive of my desire to do this and taken full responsibility for the kids time after time so that I could have the time and space to do so, he has periodically asked me, "When are you going to start putting some of that time into your own dreams?"

Over the last year, he's listened to me drone on and on about all these creative bloggers and designers who make these amazing things.  He's seen me taking furious notes while I sit at the computer, or read an inspiring book . . . and he's saying to me, "I'm ready for you to stop focusing on what everyone else is doing and start living your own dream.  Regardless of the outcome."

He's right.  Of course.  There is no way to know what's out there if you never leave the house. 

In my best "I'm not making excuses but really I can't start this second" voice, I did inform him of the few sewing goals I had for this month which will not move me towards making any kind of cash.  Namely, I intend on making each of my kids a Christmas ornament to add to their "Mommy made me this" collections, and I would like to make each of them one gift for Christmas. 

That's it. 

I already started cutting pieces out of my Holiday Happy fabric for my Christmas quilt, but I'm pretty sure it's a pipe dream that I can finish that in time to enjoy it for this holiday season.  I figure I'll just work on it as I can fit it in and hopefully I'll be on the ball enough to enjoy it next Christmas.  ;)

Oh yeah . . . I also wanted to be able to work on a bit more of my handmade nativity scene for the kids.  Last year I was able to complete Mary, a Shepherd, and Baby Jesus . . . would like to at least get Joseph done this year.  LOL.

BUT . . . AFTER THAT . . .

I do really want to start taking myself a little more seriously.  Mr. Skooks and I began strategizing a plan that would get me some time to myself every day to sew, think, plan, and dream.  I can't quit my day job so I won't be able to get in quite as many hours a day as I might like to on it, but every little time chunk will get me closer to realizing my dreams.

I know I'm not alone in feeling a bit selfish at times for taking time on my own.  Moms as a rule tend to file their needs and wants behind a few other people in the family.  It wasn't only "nice" to hear Mr. Skooks say that he wants me to work towards my goals, it was downright liberating. 

I am truly blessed to have him as my husband. 

Who are you thankful for today?

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