Merry New Year

Christmas is so much more fun with a child.  Or baby.  Or toddler now I guess.  And while last year was great with him being 5 months old, this year was even better.

I am sure I will say the same thing next year.

All the planning and wrapping and shopping and cooking and decorating is worth it again to see him on Christmas loving every minute of the festivities.

Christmas 2012

We were fortunate that we did not have to travel, but we hosted two large groups of family within a couple of days of each other.  And we still have one more Christmas this weekend to go with another set of grandparents.

He is one lucky dude.

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Notice how everyone else’s present pile pales in comparison. 

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We saw the train exhibit on Union Station which was a huge hit.

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And in typical 17 month old style resulted in a Category 4 temper tantrum when we left.  I look forward to being able to bribe him.  Because screams sound awesome in marble halls.

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The card table playhouse was a success in that he went in it a couple of times.

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As was the new kitchen from Santa.

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But the best part was spending time with family.

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And we even had some snow.

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Not on Christmas.  But close enough.

So all in all we had a very merry Christmas and enjoyed it thoroughly.  We are blessed. I hope you all had a great holiday season and a happy new year.  Bring on 2013!

Card Table Playhouse

Every year while I am working on handmade Christmas gifts, I run into the conundrum of wanting to post all about…but knowing the recipients read the blog and could ruin the surprise.  On the other hand, posting about handmade gifts in January is no fun either.

Luckily this gift is going to someone who does not read my blog.

Because he can’t read.

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A card table playhouse for the little man.  With windows and doors and a mailbox that will include a letter from Santa.  Or he just may like opening and closing the mailbox flap 436 times.  I am going with that.

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And the best part?  When he (or his mommy) gets tired of it, it folds up in a small little bundle and you are left with a card table.  Which collapses as well.

I used a pattern from Empty Bobbin Sewing Studio which was fabulous as I could have never come up with it myself.  She has lots of other patterns as well which are in my to-do file. All the fabric is Kona solids.

I used the number of our previous house for a bit of nostalgia, which in retrospect will probably confuse him for years.  Oh well.

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It still needs a good iron and to get out of my disaster of a sewing room (there are other gifts being made you know), but that will have to wait until Christmas morning so he does not ruin the surprise.  I am planning on putting a big Lexus-esque bow on it.

I hope he loves it and spends many hours playing with it.  Since I spent many hours making it.  I am hoping it his favorite toy until he is…oh 15??  Would that be weird?

I am linking up today with The Dare to DIY party hosted by 4 great blogs-Newlywoodwards, Décor and the Dog, Maybe Matilda, and Two Twenty One.  Go check out other handmade goodies!

Christmas Card Photos

I know I know....Thanksgiving is not even here and I am talking about holiday cards.  But we are on a quest for a reduced-stress Christmas.  Which sort of sounds like a reduced fat Christmas, but assure you that will not be the case.  Even though it is probably at the top of my thighs wish list.

Anyway that means getting stuff done early.  The majority of the gifts are bought and even the handmade ones are almost done.  Maybe I won't be sewing all night Christmas Eve.  Said the queen of procrastination.

Getting a Christmas card picture was also on the to-do list.  I had grand visions of recreating some pictures I took last year.  With a cooperative and non-moving 5 month old.

So easy and cute.


This is what we have this year with a 16 month old running toddler.


Or this.

This is the best we got so far.

 I am thinking I may have to let go of the light idea.

But not having a picture has not stopped me from trying to find a card.  Since looking at all the pretty pictures on them makes my toddler photographing skills seem very inadequate.




All of these are from Minted.com.  I love all the shapes they offer and that the designs are products of independent designers.  And every time I look on their site I find another design to love. 
Now all I need is a cooperative toddler. Or someone to send a photographer to the house.

*Minted is supplying our Christmas cards this year.  All the opinions and writing are my own and I just picked some of my favorites to share with you.  But if you happen to receive a Christmas card from us, it probably won't be one of the above as there are just so many great ones to choose from.  But it could include a crying toddler on it.  Or his mommy.

Quick Change Trousers

If you have ever shopped for baby clothes, you know that girls win it hands down in the cute category.  You have tutus and dresses and tights and lace and…then I have to remove myself to the boys section before he ends up in a skirt.  But whipping up a couple of pairs of Anna Maria Horner’s Quick Change Trousers from her Handmade Beginnings book helped.IMG_6431

Because every boy needs dinosaur pants.

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These were my first pair and I just used some cheap fabric from Joann’s in case I messed them up.  Well other than the scrap on the butt.  If you have an eagle eye you can see that Carter’s butt matches his quilt.  I so meant to do that.

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They are also reversible so if he is having a more stripe kind of day, no problem.

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They are also helpful for discovering your feet.

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And set off a plain white onesie quite nicely.  Because let’s me honest, if you are wearing dinosaur pants you need something pretty neutral on the top half.

Carter loved his pants so much I made some more.  Every baby also needs Christmas pants.

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Well I actually made three.  Not that Carter needed three pairs to properly celebrate the holiday, but his two baby pals needed some as well. 

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Carter decided the sock monkeys set off his Christmas drool bib and candy cane socks nicely for lounging around the house on Christmas Eve.  His dad thinks I am channeling MC Hammer, but nothing says “festive” like monkeys in santa hats.

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And they are super comfortable for bib eating…IMG_6603

As well as present opening wrapping paper eating.

And I have already bought some fabric to make some more…this time I am thinking bears with a shot cotton lining.  Only this time I will make the legs a little shorter and the waist a little bigger.  Yep Carter hopes those proportions reverse themselves as he gets bigger.  But for right now we are all loving on the pudge.  In animal pants especially.

T-minus 4 days

Ummm…so where did December go?  Is Christmas really just a couple of days away(gulp)?

True to form I am way too busy with way too many sewing projects to give and the next couple of nights will involve long hours in the craft room.  But I wanted to pop in to say hi and with a quick tip on holiday wrapping. 

There are so many creative ideas on pinterest and on blogs for creative holiday wrapping.  Amazing stuff. Two Christmases ago each package at our house was carefully decorated with jingle bells, punch outs of holiday scrapbook paper etc. If you have that kind of time skip this post and start hitting up pinterest.

Last year I was in my first trimester and sick sick sick and we went the gift bags and tissue route.  At least I think that is what Derek pulled together.

This year with a 5 month old time is still very precious but I wanted our packages to look special.  My quick and easy solution?  Use satin non-wired ribbon and nice gift tags.

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This ribbon is not in the Christmas section of craft stores but in the normal ribbon section.  Which stinks when Christmas ribbon is 40% off but is nice that you could stock up year round (and when you have a coupon).

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Rocket science?  No.  But for the same amount of time and little more money I think it makes a big difference.  And if you are traveling, the bows won’t get smashed in transit.

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For the gift tags, I bought a bucket of them at Target for a couple of bucks.

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If you had an extra couple of minutes you also could print some off.  I love these from Brooklyn Limestone and used them on kids packages.  So far they are a big hit.IMG_6325

Now back to sewing…

In the Book

Next up on the Christmas gift list involved a project with zero sewing.  Which was good in the while running out of time scheme of things.

I may have mentioned that we went to Italy this summer.  And that we took tons of pictures.  But at the sake of not covering every wall with vacation photos, I needed to find another way to easily display them without becoming overwhelming.  Enter Derek’s gift….the photo book.

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Just like Mrs. Limestone, I used blurb.com for the book and I love how it all came out.  All professional looking (well in my humble opinion at least).

D's christmas present

Blurb has lots of options for how you want to put together the book and I decided to download their program because it gave me the most control.  I went with the upgraded paper which has a slight sheen to it….especially when you are trying to photograph it.  So in person the colors are so vivid.  Promise.

D's christmas present

Originally I thought about narrating the pictures and adding words all over the place.  But then I nixed the idea and let the pictures speak for themselves.  I could fit a whole lot more pictures that way. And it took a whole lot less time thinking of witty things to say about each picture.  Sorry honey.

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I tried to vary my layouts (which was super easy to do with the program).

D's christmas present

Derek loved it and now all of Italy memories are easily accessible on the side table in the living room.

So all I need to enjoy it is a glass of red wine.  But remember it was a gift for Derek of course….

Disclaimer: Blurb has no idea who I am (other than my order number) and had nothing to do with my post.  I just wanted to share how much I loved their product with all of you.  I think more photo books are in my future.

C-O-O-K-I-E-S

I love sugar cookies.  And I love making sugar cookies.  And I love giving sugar cookies. 

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And I think people like them too because I am always being asked for the recipe.  So last year my sugar cookie recipe was part of the cookie week at Kim’s.  (click here for the recipe).

This year I was going to make something different than sugar cookies.  I scoured magazines looking for that perfect recipe.  But either because of my nut allergy eliminating tons of them or my affinity for the dough, I was led right back to the old standby.

This time with a twist.  That actually makes them quicker and easier.  And while not better than the original…different and amazing in their own way.

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Peppermint Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Ingredients
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • chocolate chips
  • candy canes
Directions
  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg; set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, vanilla and sour cream until well blended. Stir in the sifted ingredients. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters or random round object (I used a glass). Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler (or a makeshift one using a Pyrex bowl and a saucepan…hey it worked). 
  5. Put candy canes in plastic bag and crunch them.  Multiple techniques for this include the rubber mallet, stomping on them etc.
  6. Dip cooled cookies into the melted chocolate halfway and then set on wax or parchment paper. 
  7. Before the chocolate hardens, sprinkle the peppermint chunks on top.

Yummy!  Make sure you head over to Kim’s to sample all the yumminess over there!

It is Beginning to Look A Lot Like…..

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Luckily/unluckily I am just starting to feel better while Derek is now best buds  with the Nyquil.  I am on his favorite person list right now obviously….

The whole sick thing caused some blog silence last week since going to bed at 7 was not good for my productivity and I even missed the first week of Kim’s Dare to DIY party.  Sad.

But no worries, I am back (for the most part…excuse my box of Kleenex).

Last year, I decorated our dining room table for Christmas a week early and while I loved it, I swore to myself that this year I would not forget about Thanksgiving and set the table with gourds and the and other fall-y things.

That is until it occurred to me that we were hosting Christmas and not Thanksgiving, so why waste good ideas on a tablescape that no one would use? Right?

So I present you with an early Christmas table for the second year in a row…..

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Red does happen to be my favorite color.  Good thing it corresponds with Christmas.

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I really wanted a beautiful red tablecloth to cover the entire table.  But a round tablecloth in a size to cover a 75 inch round table is impossible to find in stores.  Trust me on that.  I did find some huge ones online that I may order for future occasions, but that would not have fit the blog party timeline. 

Table runners also are too short for the massive table so I had to improvise.  I bought an oblong tablecloth and kept it folded so it just looked like an extra wide but long enough table runner.

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Of course I will have to re-buy the red roses closer to Christmas.  But I will take any excuse to buy myself roses.

And in honor of my new light fixture, i wanted to bring some bling to the table.  I found these mini mirrors at Michael’s for 1.99 for 25.  They made the perfect mirror confetti.

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And of course blingy napkin rings….

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Head over to the Newly Woodwards and see what everyone else put together!

The Final Handmade Gift Post...I Swear

As the holidays draw to a close, the purging and organization bug has officially bitten me.  But I have no idea why....

 
Hmmmmm......

I got three hours of sleep before we left town for the holidays furiously hand sewing a binding on a quilt....and it got done.  But the craft room was a disaster. However, I have been organizing like crazy the past couple of days and can't wait to share the results.

Until then I want to show my first two completed quilts.  I know you are sick of handmade gift posts by this time, but I want to show them anyway.

The first quilt was a baby quilt that was inspired by a fabric remnant I picked up at Joann's for a couple of bucks and a subway tile pattern (sticking close to the home reno roots).

I was very scientific about this quilt....I used a notepad for the sizing of the squares and cut a lot of them.  Then I laid them on the floor in a random pattern.  When I thought the quilt was large enough I stopped cutting and started sewing.   I am probably making real quilters groan right now.


I used free motion quilting as my machine does not have a walking foot that would allow me to do straight lines.  It took me awhile to get a handle on that....as in I ripped out seams over 10 times at the beginning because I wasn't liking it.  But after I got over my fear and figured it out, it was not as difficult as I thought.

The second quilt was a little more ambitious and I used a Figgy Pudding Jelly Roll to put this together. 

I added solid red in between the figgy pudding and on the back.  I bound with with some figgy pudding yardage.  I used a similar free motion design on this quilt because frankly I was running out of time and I knew I could do it without breaking out the seam ripper.

 
 

Sorry for the less than stellar quality of these pics....they were taken after the quilt was given as it was not finished in time to snap some before we left.  There is nothing like having someone open a gift and then snatch it back to take pics of it:).  The red is not so bright in "real life."  Also looking at pics snapped with the old camera, I am loving the new one even more (if that is even possible).

So now that I have officially completed two quilts I wanted to share all my "knowledge".....

Ahem....
Things I have learned about quilting-
  1. It takes a long time, especially when you are like me and don't know exactly what you are doing.  So when you see a quilt and scoff at the price (like I used to do) know that someone took many many hours putting it together.
  2. Quilting involves very straight lines and exact measurements. And straight cutting. And straight sewing.  And good ironing.  Because if you are just a little bit off, the whole thing gets wonky....and you know what that means....hello seam ripping.
  3. Hand sewing binding is not fun.  Yeah it looks nice and all but it takes forever and my fingers killed me for two days afterwards.  Maybe my technique sucks and I am doing it wrong.  Or maybe it is just not fun.
  4. Quilting is fun....and an awesome excuse to use amazing fabrics.  I can't wait to start another one. 

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My New Toy

I know you have all been waiting on pins and needles to see what I got for Christmas and checking the blog hourly hoping I was going to update it. 

Ready?  Here's a hint...the last week my new nickname has been "paparazzi."


A new Digital SLR camera...the Canon Rebel T1i to be exact.  Whoo Hoo!

Actually it would be accurate to say that I received money for me to buy the camera at our "first Christmas".  So when we got home last weekend I was thinking about ordering it, but thought I would just do it after the holidays since we would be traveling and I did not want to miss the package.

That was before I saw that BH Photo had free overnight shipping right before Christmas.....

So on the 23rd after hitting refresh on the package status once every five minutes and not showering in case I missed the USP man waiting patiently this baby arrived.



Which quickly turned into this....

And then unfortunately this...


So why a Canon?  A couple of reasons.... like I really like the fact that it is capable of shooting HD video and it has tons a great reviews.  But the main reason is this......

I had the film version of the Rebel years ago and lens are interchangeable.

Sadly I never used the film version to it's full potential (as in never went into the modes where you actually had to adjust things) because frankly it is a pretty steep learning curve when you are paying for film and processing and don't get immediate feedback if you totally messed it up or not.  Also the controls required a lot more knowledge because there was not a huge screen.


So it has been collecting dust for the last couple of years while I have been using a point and shoot Sony Powershot.

Until now.....

But as a warning just because I have a new fancy camera, don't expect the pictures to all of a sudden be stellar.....I have a lot of learning to do and two uncooperative furry friends to do it on.  Here are some of my favorites from this weekend  (I have not picked nor figured out editing software yet, so these pics are straight from the camera).





My current thing that I LOVE about this camera.....there is no pause between pressing the button and the picture snapping so you can capture things like this....





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The Snowy Recap

Well we are home safe and sound from a great Christmas.  I can't wait to share some of my gifts but for now here is how our second Christmas went with the in-laws.

We filled the car completely with dogs and stuff.  I have no idea how we are going to travel for Christmas when we have a baby as well...might be renting a Suburban....

This Christmas marked the dogs first time staying in a hotel.  If you are traveling with pets, the La Quinta was perfect.  We had to sign a pet waiver, but there was no charge for pets, even dogs over 50 lbs.  They also put us in a room right next to the back door which was perfect for us to take them out.

Jack and Winter did not know what to make of the room....they looked around and then scratched at the door to leave.


We had a couple of inches of snow at the in-laws, but not a whole lot.  The pups liked romping around in it anyway-

Then of course there were presents...lots of presents-

Jack again was an expert present opener and enjoyed sticking his head into everything-

We gave Derek's brother a sweet pair of boxers that I "won" at a white elephant gift exchange.  This was his "excited" face.  (Yes that is puffy velvet lips...this might top the santa clause boxers and matching hat we bestowed on him lat year)

The dogs also received a present they loved....

Yep a Bud Light Tailgate Approved Beer Vest.....


And then there were cookies.....




(recipes here and here)

 After all the family fun was over it was time to say goodbye start our journey back home.

The roads were clear when we set out.  Then it started looking like this...


Which turned into this....


And then we got stuck trying to get up the driveway.  Wish I had a pic of that.

But we managed to get unstuck, parked the SUV in our neighbors clear driveway and then Derek shoveled out two spaces for the tires while his ever helpful wife snapped pictures.

But Derek's fun was not over yet....we could not get the back door open because so much snow was piled against it. The gate to the back yard also would not open because of snow, so he got to jump the six foot privacy fence to unbury the door.

The dogs had a blast romping in the snow Jack hopped like a rabbit because it was so high.  I have seen anything more hilarious. Of course we got some great pics and video....but I have a confession to make.   I can't get it off of the camera because I have no memory left of my computer.  I have used over 40GB of space.  Awesome.   Guess I have too many inspiration pictures.

So tomorrow I am going to stop procrastinating dumping tons of photos to the external hard drive.  Should be tons of fun.  Until then just imagine four feet of snow piled around cars and us up to our knees in in the driveway.

Hope everyone had  great Christmas and safe travels!
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    Merry Christmas!





    Hope everyone in blog land has a very Merry Christmas filled with family, food, fun and relaxation!

    We are off to celebrate our second out of three Christmases and I am happy to report that all handmade gift projects are complete.  I might have only gotten three hours of sleep but they are done.  I can't wait to come back after Christmas and share them (because no one is tired of Christmas posts) and also share the gift I received that I believe will become one of the new things I am obsessed with.

    Enjoy the holiday and if you are traveling in the Midwest with the snow (or anywhere else for that matter)...be safe!
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    Getting in the Spirit

    This post has been a long time coming. I actually had all the Christmas decorations up the Monday after Thanksgiving. I was so proud of myself that the boxes were put away and I was going to be getting to the "house tour" post right away.....

    But then something happened.....I caught "just one more thing" virus. I wanted to DIY a wreath, get some live greenery, hang tons of ornaments in the kitchen etc. etc. etc. Hence why this post is three weeks behind.

    So what prompted me to finally get it up? I decided I was focusing way too much on the "details" and missing out on the "spirit" of the holidays. Every night after work I was running around frantically working on details and not getting any sleep. Not a good way to get in the spirit. I love having the blog because it is motivation to finish projects. But in this case the thought of showcasing my holiday decorations when there are so many awesomely decorated homes in the blog world was anxiety provoking and causing me to sweat the details.

    Last night I made a decision to let things go. No one is going to care if the Christmas cards do not have silver embossed snowflake stamps this year. No one is going to care if the gift tags do not coordinate perfectly with the wrapping paper. If I don't get all the Christmas quilts done there is always next year. No one is going to notice if every inch of the house is not impeccably decorated. We aren't hosting any holiday celebrations anyway so the decorations are for our enjoyment and should not be a source of stress. The holidays are about the spirit and not about perfection.

    So with my new philospohy in mind I am ready to post our Christmas house tour. There are still things I wish I would have had time for, but I keep telling myself to just save those for next year (it will give me something to blog about then:)).

    Now that I am off my soapbox, here is the Anything Pretty house decked out in the holiday spirit-

    Dining Room

    Detail of the bead garland on the china cabinet-




    Detail of the table runner-

    Family Room
    Entryway










    (here for DIY tree skirt post)



    Hope you enjoyed the tour!

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    Cheap, Quick and Easy DIY Christmas (My Favorite)

    It's that time again....time for the weekly blog party at the Newly Woodwards. I have gotten so many awesome ideas from the previous weeks of the party and I know this week will top that even more.

    This week was Dare To...Deck the Halls and the challenge was to DIY a holiday decoration. Throughout the Dare To.... party one of my themes has been cheap. I am trying to not blow the bank on Christmas decorations which is very easy to do (at least it is for me because I have a slight addiction).

    My other theme for this week is "quick." Like I mentioned last week, I am slightly behind in the handmade gifts department so all of my DIY time has been devoted to that endeavor without much time to spare. I had a grand idea for an Christmas card holder but I knew it was going to take me over an hour to construct and that is valuable quilting time. I will keep that one filed away for next year.

    OK the first project. "Handpainted" and Unique glass ornaments. Doesn't sound quick huh? Well I am happy to report that they were so quick that when I hung them on the tree today Derek did not even realize I had snuck away to do them. They are also so easy that kids could do it and it would be a great family project.

    So how do you do it? Start with clear glass ornaments (I got these 60% off at Jo-Ann)
    Pop off the top and squirt in a couple of colors of acrylic paint. I used a variety of red, silver and ivory. I alternated squirts to layer the colors and get a cooler effect in my opinion.
    Place a piece of cardboard or cardstock over the top....and shake shake shake.

    Let dry overnight-
    And then pop the top back on and enjoy.

    Couldn't be easier right?

    Of course I did a couple of variations. If you want your colors to be more flowey and less defined, add no more than four drops of water to the ornament before you squirt in the paint.


    Your colors will look more like this with the water-
    Without the water you get this-

    Also you do not have to cover all the glass in the ornament when you shake since the inside looks cool too-

    There you have it-10 completed ornaments in 15 minutes all ready to hang on the tree.

    I also did a little side project that won't win me any DIY awards but I wanted to share it anyway.

    I always struggle with decorating the entry way because it is not a lot of space with a lot of doorways. We have two matching artificial trees that were given to us by the in-laws when they no longer used them. Since we have gotten a live tree the past couple of years they have been gathering dust in the basement. So this year I flanked the door with them.


    I went with an all red theme with red lights and red beads. But I wanted to keep it simple so the main tree was still the focal point. We also were missing tree skirts. Again, since I am trying to be cheap this year I did not want to just go out and buy two. I was also concerned that a full size skirt would be too large in order for the door to clear.

    So I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a yard and a half of red satin for $3.

    I squared it off and cut it in half.
    Then I seamed all four sides.....
    and wrapped the rectangles around the base.
    The finished product-



    So much cheaper and easier than cutting and sewing a circle.

    Head on over to Kim's the check out all the other great ideas!

    I am also linking to:

    The DIY Show Off

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    Handmade Holidays

    When I first joined up with The NewlyWoods Blog Party I thought that this week of Dare To....Give Homemade Gifts would be motivation to finish all the handmade gifts I was planning for the holidays.
    Dare to DIY

    You know a little motivation not to procrastinate. My goal this year was to give almost everyone something handmade even if it was small. However, even though I have been spending huge amounts of time in the craft room there are still some works in progress.

    I could not pick a favorite one to post ....so stay tuned for a picture heavy post.

    I am so also hoping that by posting lots of the things that family and friends that read the blog will not put together what they could be possibly getting. I am not aware of the recipients of any of the following gifts are readers. But just in case.....if you normally receive a gift from us-stop reading now.

    Let's start with things that are completed.....the scarf parade. (Do you know how difficult it is to get a decent picture of a scarf.....especially since every picture with me in it made me cringe)

    These are the two I "knitted"-


    The pink one used furry thread that I picked up this summer on clearance at Hobby Lobby. Since I was not successful with teaching myself to knit using needles like a normal person, I use a loom like this-
    It is so easy and there are so many variations that I want to try now that I have the basics mastered. You can pick up the loom at any craft store.

    Onto to the parade of ruffle scarves. I love ruffles and I am seeing them everywhere in stores right now so of course I began to scour the internet for how to make them.

    Currently there are three scarves completed with slight variations and in the coming days I have ideas for more variations. One thing they all have in common- they are all knit fabric (because you can cut the fabric and not worry about it fraying). They also are were super-cheap to make.

    Ruffle Scarf #1-
    This was by far the most time efficient and easiest (20 minutes from start to finish) of the bunch. I ruffled this one using elastic thread like detailed at Hope Studios.

    Mine is not ruffled as much as theirs because of the type of bobbin my machine has self-corrects the tension. I messed with tension controls for a long time before figuring out that this was the best I was going to get.
    Check out the tutorial over there because the ruffles are as easy as sewing a straight line.

    Here is what the back side looks like with the elastic thread (I wanted to have all black obviously but I ran out since I used most of the spool experimenting....the future ones will have all black thread.)

    Here is a blurry pic of me modeling the look (I swear it's difficult to hold a camera with one hand)
    Ruffled Scarf #2-
    This one took a little longer than the first but I love the more dramatic ruffles.....stay tuned for a tutorial because it was easy (and no I do not have ruffler foot for my sewing machine...I wish)

    Ruffle Scarf #3-
    While it looks similar to #2, it is very different. It is actually two ruffles sewn together which makes it very full, but it is not cut as wide. I made this one based on a pattern on Burda Style here.

    Switching gears from scarves to a baby item- burp clothes-
    Basically they are a cloth diaper edged with a piece of pretty fabric. They are simple to make but I love how they turned out. The only tricky part is making sure your seams are straight on the front and the back side.

    OK let's take a break from sewing to move onto food gifts. This summer we had tons of jalapenos from our garden that no amount of Mexican nights was going to use. So I made Jalapeno Jelly (like described here). Since they are such a Christmasey color and we have tons of it we thought they would make an awesome gift.


    I am not a huge paper crafter but I downloaded these tags from Martha (here). They are supposed to be for candles but they do dual duty. Then I used my lone circle punch and some red cardstock for the second circle. A little ribbon, hot glue and a gift card and these boys are ready to be enjoyed.


    Okay now for the works in progress- the quilts.

    I am not a quilter and have never 100% completed one. But I love reading blogs about modern quilting for inspiration and think I can do some simple ones.....eventually that it is. The first thing I learned about quilting is that it takes a very long time. I also learned that your cutting and sewing have to be exact otherwise you will have wonky lines. Let's just say the seam ripper and I have become fast friends as I am trying this for the first time.

    So here is the first work in progress....a baby quilt that the colors were inspired by a fabric remnant for a couple of bucks and the design was inspired by subway tile. The quilt does not scream "baby" but this style totally fits with mom's and I hope they love it.
    This quilt is basted and is just waiting for me to finish quilting it and then bind it.

    The front-
    The back-
    Now for Christmas quilt #1-
    Yeah the top is complete and that is about it. But I love how it turned out and I love all the fabric in it-


    What about Christmas quilt #2? Well I would show you pics but right now it is just cut fabric (same as Christmas quilt #1) not sewn together.

    I told you I have a lot of work to do. Maybe I need to stop blogging and start sewing.

    I am also linking up with-

    The DIY Show Off


    DIY Day @ ASPTL


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    Haul Out the Holly

    Over Thanksgiving we participated in the pups’ favorite holiday tradition….the infamous Christmas card pic. Here is the finished product (ordered from Photoworks)-

    Yes we are one of “those people” who signs their dogs name on the card. Go ahead and make fun. I actually loved some other of the designs with multiple pictures on the site, but I thought if multiple dog pictures were included, we would really be laughed at.

    The plan was to take the picture outside where the dogs are the happiest. You know in front of the Christmasey looking pine trees. That way it was possible that the dogs might actually look somewhat happy. Unfortunately we had to switch the location because of mud and the presence of a neighbors dog that they could not take their eyes off of. The picture on the card was the best out of all of the 25 pics. My dad was meowing like a cat to get Jack to look (and prompt the head cock….I guess my father makes a pretty convincing cat sound). Winter obviously was not impressed and was more concerned with the dog 5 houses down. Most of the other shots looked something like this-so I am somewhat happy with the final result.

    It is also quite possible that the pups inability to cooperate with looking happy for the camera is a direct result of this torture-

    Our second family tradition on Thanksgiving weekend is going to cut down a tree. Tradition is probably a strong word considering it it is only our second time doing it. Last year it snowed during this tradition and Derek suffered frostbite on his toes as a result of not wearing snow boots and a wife who wanted to traipse around the lot for an hour in search of a perfect tree. But of course it was still so much fun that we wanted to do it again. This year there was no snow but we did have a cold and windy day. One of the cool things about the location we live in (at least when you are going to cut down a Christmas tree I guess) is that in 25 minutes you are in the “country”. So we did not have to drive very far to get here-We explored a every field of trees until we found the winner. Of course it was located in the field farthest away from the payment area so we also got our exercise in by dragging the nine footer a very long way. Also did I mention our tree has a slight obesity problem? Seriously we picked a really fat tree. I was worried how we were going to to fit it through the door (even in netting) and if it would engulf our family room once it was opened.

    Anyway we took a self-portrait in front of our tree which turned out to the worst picture ever and I can’t believe I am even posting it. Obviously it is was very windy and contrary to my appearance I am not drunk-So Derek got to cut it down while I helped snapped photos-Then we brought fat boy home and set it up-
    And of course we decorated. We had to change the normal location and block a doorway in order to accommodate our hefty tree. But I am loving the Christmas smell and spirit it brings to the room. Of course it will look better photographed in natural light but I could not wait to share some photos.
    I am so happy that the rest of the house is completely decorated and the boxes are all put away. Can’t wait to share those!


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    This Post Could Possibly Include Christmas Decorations (Yes Before Turkey Day)

    I am back for week 2 of the blog party....this time it is Dare To-Entertain.
    Dare to DIY

    (good thing Emily having this party to make sure I post occasionally during this incredibly busy time at work....this week will be better I promise). Last week there were so many awesome thanksgiving ideas at the party and I met so many great bloggers.

    Anyways for this week we were supposed to show off our table, whether it was set for everyday, Thanksgiving or Christmas.

    Since I like to use any excuse to get out the good china and I have so much more Christmas stuff and because it was a great excuse to start decorating for Christmas early.....I chose a Christmas setting.

    The challenge I gave myself: not spending a single cent. I have a slight weakness when it comes to spending money on holiday decorating. But we are not hosting Christmas or Thanksgiving this year so spending money was a little silly.

    So here is the Anything Pretty Dining Room (almost) all decked out for the holidays-
    Align Center

    The details-

    These frames were left over favors from my bridal shower, now they are perfect place markers-


    My knock-off Pottery Barn plates I found a couple of years ago at ABC Distributing for $10 (for 12). They are less formal than all the china, but I think they add a fun Christmas element to the table-

    The bead garland around all the candles-
    The table runner-

    The napkin and napkin ring-

    Of course there were things I would have liked to done (like maybe a glass personalized ornament hanging from a silver branch at each setting or red sparkly candles instead of white) but that would have cost some money so I am happy with what I was able to do with things sitting around the house. This week I am going to add some more decorative elements to the dining room as a whole but this party got the table kick started. Now I just need to pour the red wine!
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