Thursday, December 28, 2006

Nativities



I made these little Nativities for a few people this year. They are really easy to make and I think they're really cute. I'm sure you could figure out how to make one from the picture, they are basically just mini clay pots and wooden heads. The babies are little game piece shaped pieces of wood. So you just paint them and find some cute fabric for their clothes, and I used that natural moss stuff for the hair, and voila- instant, inexpensive Christmas gift/decoration!
So as always we had lots of fun and food, and now don't have enough room in our house for all the new stuff! I think I slept for a couple of days straight after Christmas to recover. I finished a denim quilt I made for my brother Christmas eve pretty late at night. It turned out nice, it was just patchwork squares, with lots of pockets. I tied it instead of machine quilting it to save time and it looked pretty good. Our sibling gift exchange theme this year was "inexpensive and homemade." This project definitely fit that category as I got a great deal with my Joann coupon for backing fabric, and for the batting, and all the jean material was recycled. Unfortunately I forgot to get a picture of it before my bro left for NY, so I guess you'll have to imagine it in your mind!
So, I never even started my Christmas quilt I wanted to do, but I think I'll still start it now for next year! I decided that I'd like to try getting it quilted by someone with a long arm machine instead of just stitching in the ditch myself, so that will be my plan for sometime next year. I have a friend who has been practicing stippling and machine quilting designs herself but I really don't know if I am brave or artistic enough to try that.
Hope you all had a great Christmas too!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Stockings Were Hung...



12:20 AM, oficially Christmas Eve! We haven't even started wrapping yet. Some things never change...

Santa!



For a couple of days before our church Christmas party he talked about nothing else- Will Santa's reindeer be there when I see him? How will he get there? Will it be Christmas Eve? Then the big moment arrived- Santa burst into the room with a jolly "Ho Ho Ho!" A look of abject terror crossed my little guys face! He ran to me and gripped me around the neck, digging his nails into my skin. "I need to hide," "I need to get out of here," he said desperately. His Dad took him out into the hall to calm down. First he agreed to get in line and wait to see him, if Dad held him. But, at the last minute he overcame the fear and actually sat on Santa's lap! When asked later what is scary about Santa, he answered "The beard." Ironic, seeing how my husband has a beard too! I think he likes the idea of a Santa he never sees bringing presents more than Santa himself. The Santa threat totally works on him too, at least for a few days. As in- Go pick up your toys if you want Santa to come! Today my husband told him that if he didn't get in bed soon he'd have to call Santa. He walked over and picked up the phone and pretended to dial and the little guy was like, no, no!! and jumped right into bed.
He is a true believer, albeit a nervous one!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Oh Come Let Us Adore Him!




Quite possibly my favorite picture of all time! It was taken in 2003, the year my 4th son was born and we lived in Phoenix. He was about 3 months old in the photo. I borrowed these costumes and little wooden cradle from friends and dressed my sweet little boys up as shepherds come to adore the "baby Jesus." This photo brings back cherished memories of my boys when they were little and is one of my favorite posessions. I always display it in a frame at Christmastime.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

We Love Boston Children's Hospital


We had a bit of a trauma this past weekend. We took one of our sons to the ER and discovered that he had appendicitis and needed surgery right away. We actually took him to Mt. Auburn hospital first where they treated him and then told us that they didn't really have facilities to treat children, so he would need to be moved. So we got to take our first ambulance ride to transport our son to Children's Hospital downtown. It was a long couple of days, a night spent in the ER, then waiting during surgery very early Sunday morning, then on the floor all day Sunday and Monday while my son recovered. His appendix looked really "nasty" according to the surgeon so he required an extra day in the hospital for more antibiotics and observation, but luckily it had not ruptured. So, it was quite an ordeal but he is now recovering nicely and has even managed to get on playstation today which is a sign that everything is getting back to normal! He also kept food down today for the first time in four days or so which is a relief also.
So, I just wanted to say that these hospitals rock!! Our treatment at both was prompt, thorough and extremely professional, from the nurses, to the surgeons, ER docs, EMT workers, residents, and right on down to the janitors and orderlies who served us. We were treated with nothing but kindness, respect and the best medical care you could ever imagine. I am extremely impressed with both of these places and very grateful to all of their employees for making a difficult situation as easy and stress-free as possible. It's not easy to turn your boy over to a bunch of strangers as they wheel him into an OR, and basically put his life in their hands, but they really put us at ease. This was our first experience with a serious surgery for one of our kids and it really went as well as it possibly could have. He should be all set to go for Christmas, and we're so grateful to these hospitals and their great employees. Of course, we know there were much higher powers at work watching over and blessing us through our ordeal also. We're extremely grateful for His good care as well.
Health is a blessing, I hope you have yours. I'm sure we'll get lots of nice gifts next week but our favorite will always be our wonderful children and family, and our faith.
Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

O Christmas Tree






And a few other decorations at my house.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Unfinished Projects Finished!






I started both of these projects about 8 years ago, and then for some reason they have sat in my craft box unfinished ever since! So last week I decided to finish them up. I especially like this quilted star garland that I have hanging over our TV armoire thing, I was happy with how it turned out. I made some ornaments to match it too. As you can see, sheep are also a main theme in my holiday decorating! The mini quilt was almost done, I just had to hand quilt a tiny bit more and sew up an open seam. It's not pieced, its just a design printed on fabric, but I think it's cute. I love to decorate and make Christmas stuff. Is all of your shopping and crafting done? Mine is getting there!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Bowmania!







Here are some of the lovely ladies who came to help make bows. The Wreathmaking Party was great! I had such a fun time. We had a really great turnout, and the program was really nice. I especially liked the Japanese song where a bunch of little girls from church dressed up in kimonos and sang with some Japanese ladies in our ward. The food was really great too. My friend who was in charge of it made some really yummy tortilla wraps, and crab dip, and some awesome mini cheesecakes with blackberries, and a LOT of other really good food. Plus, we had a chocolate fountain which was yummy even though it malfunctioned slightly! Here is my wreath from the party. I was so busy in the kitchen all night that I asked my sister to make my wreath for me, and she did a great job. Maybe I'll just have her make mine every year! I was still kind of jet lagged as I didn't get in from Phx until 1 AM the night before, and was at the party cleaning up until midnight or so. The next day I crashed at about 6pm. It all finally caught up with me!
To me, there's nothing like the smell of fresh pine at Christmastime!

Heart Quilt







This is the quilt I made for my sister-in-law's wedding. Her colors were pink and chocolate brown so that's what I used for the quilt, and I love the combination!
I collected fabrics for several months before the wedding. I started the quilt about 3 weeks before leaving for Phoenix, so I had to rush a bit. I was up until 2 AM more than one night getting this project done!
This quilt is a Buggy Barn pattern called "Heather." I thought the heart design was perfect for a wedding. I love Buggy Barn patterns because of their "crazy" method of cutting and piecing. It's really fast because you stack the fat quarters, then iron freezer paper traced with the pattern right onto the top fat quarter and slice right through the pattern to cut out your blocks. Then you shuffle some of the pieces to get the variation in the blocks. It's a real time saver! If you like to quilt and haven't made a BB design, you should try one! They have a great website with all of their patterns and books on it. My next quilting project is a BB star quilt out of Moda's Mistletoe Manor Christmas fabric which I LOVE! In my book, you just can't get any better than pink Christmas fabric! At this point it may not be finished until next Christmas though.
This is also the first quilt that I signed. I've seen people write on quilts with permanent marker, which I just don't think I could bear to do after all of that work!
So, to sign this quilt, I embroidered a little dedication with their names and the wedding date and my name on it in one of the bottom back corners of the quilt. I just drew on the quilt before it was bound and backstitched the words. This probably isn't the technical way, I'm sure there is some sort of washable marker or chalk I should have used but I think I've explained how I like to kind of just make due with whatever's lying around, especially late at night!
I've read several articles and watched episodes of Simply Quilts about how you should always sign your work for historical reasons so future generations will know who made the quilt. I agree because I have a couple of old quilts that aren't signed and we're not sure who made them, and it also does make it more personal and special.
Happy Quilting!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Goodbye November






Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! We spent ours with family in Globe, AZ. We had a great time with great food, especially the corn pudding and pecan pie. This was supposed to be my Thanksgiving post but I was having trouble posting on our trip, which was driving me crazy! My good friend Ellen taught me how to make these adorable fabric turkeys, and I love them! They are really easy, and really they were the first thing I learned how to sew.

So I'm really frustrated because I just realized that I left my camera battery charger in AZ so I can't download all of my pictures from our trip. I have a lot to show you with the wedding, holiday, family pictures we had taken there, my new haircut, plus all the Christmas crafts and stuff coming up, so it's really driving me nuts that I can't use the camera! I hate it when I do dumb stuff like that. It just goes to show how dependent and addicted to this camera I am. Hopefully it will get sent back to me quickly and I can post a bunch more pictures from our trip, and finally show you pictures of my BIG PROJECT that I practically killed myself finishing in time for the wedding! In the meantime I'll work on my huge list of Christmas projects I want to make for gifts and decorations- embroidery, quilts, ornaments, pillows, sewing. Not to mention cleaning, decorating, shopping and getting our tree! A month is definitely not enough time to do it all!

My kids had a blast the last two weeks in AZ playing with their cousins whom they have sorely missed the last year since we moved away. My ten year old finally learned to ride a bike! The weather was great (It was 89 degrees in Phoenix one day) and we spent a lot of time with family. We got in at about 1 AM last night, us and our 12 checked bags, and 13 carry-ons! We have a storage still in AZ so we brought back as much as the airline would allow- including a bunch of my craft stuff which I am very happy about! I was expecting a blast of cold air upon arrival in Massachusetts, but it is actually so warm here, I can't believe it. Hooray for Global Warming! (Just kidding-I don't really think that!)I'm not a big fan of the cold, so I'm glad to delay winter a little, although I do love snow at Christmastime. We loved our trip, but it is always nice to come home. Everytime I come back here, as I come out of the tunnel after leaving the airport, and pass by the Union Oyster House, The North End, the Harbor, Bunker Hill, the old Hood dairy factory, and the US Constitution, and feel that nice humid air, this oldies song starts going through my head:

Doo doo doot, doot doo doot,
Yeah, down by the river,
Down by the banks of the river Charles,
That's where you'll find me
Well I love that dirty water,
Boston you're my home!
(The Standelles, 1960-something)


So, now it is on to Christmas! Tonight is our annual Wreathmaking Party at church. This party is pretty much our biggest activity of the year and has been a tradition in this area for at least 30 year, and I think even more. We always have a very nice program, elaborate decorations, nice food, and make fresh wreaths! It requires a lot of time preparing food and music, decorating, covering the entire gym with brown paper, and cleaning up. This year I was in charge of making 250 bows for the wreaths. My great friend Debbie and I organized two nights of bow-making mania! We lured prospective bow-makers to the church with hot chocolate and homemade cookies and ended up having a two really fun evenings of eating, chatting and bow-making. I have some funny pictures of this, but where are they- in my camera of course! So, I'll have to post them later. I'll have to borrow some of Ellen's pictures of the party too, or you can always just look at her blog: bigredep.blogspot.com. I KNOW she'll have pictures of the party posted- probably by tonight! She and our other friend are the head honchos in charge of tonight. I'm really looking forward to it! I am also in charge of clean up and basically planning to be there until midnight or so. We have a good crew signed up to help, which is a good thing, because I am sore from hauling my 600 lbs of junk through two airports with three kids in tow!

Well, sorry to ramble. Usually I like to keep the written part of my blogging short and sweet and focus more on the pictures, but a lot has happened lately.
So, Goodbye November, and Hello Christmas!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Beautiful Bride










Friday evening I did a bridal shoot of my husband's youngest sister who is getting married. Here are a few of my favorite shots. It's hard to choose which ones to post because she is so gorgeous and photogenic! I think she looks like a princess- complete with tiara. It was really fun taking these pictures of her. They were all taken on the grounds at the Mesa Arizona Temple. We really lucked out as they had their Christmas lights up already and we got to try out using a tripod and some long exposures in low light with the Christmas lights lit up. Wedding pictures to come!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Finished Fall Quilt- Finally!







I'm really happy with how this quilt turned out, just don't look too close or you will definitely find the flaws! I mentioned before that I was having difficulty with the applique. I think part of that is that I used flannel and it frayed really easily. I think if I used regular cotton, it would be easier. I had to rip off two of the pumpkins and redo them which kind of drove me crazy! I probably shouldn't admit this, but there is elmer's glue holding together some of the pumpkin edges so that they don't fray. Glue is not an approved quilting tool. I'm pretty sure that guild member ladies would scoff at the use of glue in a quilt! Not to mention the fact that my squares aren't equal in size and the points of some of them are cut off. And they don't always line up perfectly. I say this just give the quilt "charm" and "character," right?! I told you I am more of a make-do type of person than a perfectionist, at least in crafts. My motto is, if it looks cute to me, it's good enough!
I tried using a friend's darning foot to make the curved lines on the pumpkins, but we were having trouble with it so I ended up just using the regular foot and curving the needle. Thanks to my quilting buddy K. for all her help on this and all of my projects. It is kind of embarassing how many times I email her in a day asking quilting questions!
I always seem to underestimate how long something is going to take. This quilt is so small I figured I'd whip it out in a week, but it was more like a month. I guess technically it is still fall (although it is freezing here and I just saw frost on the grass), so I get to enjoy it hanging on the wall for a few more weeks anyway!
On another subject entirely, I watched a great movie called Glory Road today and highly recommend it. I sat and watched it with my 13-year-old son this afternoon and we both liked it. I don't think there are too many movies I can say that about. It is about a college basketball team in the 60's. Strangely, though I don't really like team sports (I kind of hate them for the most part, in fact), I seem to love sports movies. So, check out the movie, and bundle up because I feel a long and cold winter coming. Mine will be spent cuddled up under my latest quilting project. Next on the adgenda- Christmas quilts and gifts!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Apples to Applesauce








Last week I spent a couple of days making applesauce. It was time consuming but I have to say that the applesauce is so yummy it was worth the effort! If you haven't ever tried homemade applesauce, trust me when I say it is nothing like the bland stuff you buy in the grocery store.
I got a whole bushel of Jonathan apples imported all the way from Keeokuk, NH. My sister lent me her special apple peeling/coring/slicing doohickey. I'm normally not much of a gadget person, I'm more of a "make due with what you have" type of person. This tool is such a timesaver however, I highly recommend it if you want to be able to process a lot of apples because it saves so much time.
Jonathan apples are quite tart, and I didn't really add that much sugar to the applesauce so you can still really taste the tartness. I also made it a little chunky, and used a little bit of cinnamon, allspice and cloves. When I eat this applesauce I feel like I am eating an apple pie! It's pretty easy, just prepare the apples and add some water and the spices and some sugar and let it cook down for a good long time until it is as soft and smooth or chunky as you like.
I really like canning my own food. I usually make quite a bit of jam every year too. I just think it is so much better than what you can buy. Earlier this year, I went to Haymarket in Boston to get strawberries for jam. I found them for 50 cents a pound and got 30 pounds of strawberries, and made about 20 quarts of jam! Towards the end of the summer I made peach. I love to open up the cupboard and see all of those jars lined up. I love the idea of keeping in touch with nature and the seasons and storing up food for the winter. I like certain homemaking activities because they cause you to slow down and enjoy the process, and be pleased with the results of your hard work. Even though I know I can go to the grocery store and get pretty much whatever I need anytime, I really like to be thrifty and self-sufficient when I can be. As my jars boil away on the stove, I like to think of my grandmothers and great-grandmothers doing the same things for their families to get ready for winter. We've spent a lot of time at our house this fall watching the squirrels in our yard doing the same!
Happy harvest season to you.