A Blue Bear Party-Part 1

Meet Blue Bear.

Blue Bear Party

Carter’s favorite stuffed animal.  He has a basket brimming with nicer stuffed animals but he has chosen the cheap one that his daddy won him at Dave and Buster’s to be his favorite.  Go figure. And we gave him a very creative name. 

He loves Blue Bear.

Blue Bear Party

This is how he shows it.  That is a one year old’s hug right there.

So when we were talking about his first birthday party, we decided that his favorite stuffed animal would be the theme.  And it did not hurt that “blue” is an easy jumping off point.

We wanted the party to be low key but fun. And not over the top since he will not remember it.  But you are only one once.

The invitation- I ordered them from Lovely Little Party on Etsy. The picture was a whale, but she customized it with the bear.   Loved them.

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Blue Bear was waiting at the door with his “1” and cake pops favors for the way out.

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Carter’s old grass drying rack functioned well for a cake pop holder.

For the decorations, I made some fabric bunting for the dining room and the kitchen.

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fabric bunting

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And the centerpieces continued with the “1” and marbles.IMG_9667

We loved polka dotted blue balloons and put them outside and around the house.

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If you are ever wondering how helium balloons do in 100 degree heat…I will give you a hint-not well.

On the mantel, his month pictures were strung across with ribbon and fun foam.

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I did two poses…but I lost steam after month 6.  Not going to win “Mom of the Year” with that one. So we go months 1-6 and then the 12 month photos are in the frames at the top.

We had a local baker do the cake.

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I loved it and it was delicious.  And everyone else thought it was delicious too.  At least I think they were telling the truth.

Blue Bear was made out of a rice krispie treat.  Which is currently in our freezer and I assume waiting for the one year anniversary of his first birthday?? Not sure on the protocol for that one…

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And of course the smash cake.

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We also had tons of food which I did not take a picture of.  But I did snap the most important part-

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And the cake eating throne with the hat that he would not put on his head…

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On the TV next to the fireplace, we had a movie of his first year pictures and video clips set to music playing in the background.  I would post it here but it is really long and I know no one cares that much.  I used windows movie maker and it was super easy.  We just burned three copies on a DVD (as many as would fit) so we did not need to keep restarting it.  Grandparents also got there own copy of course to take home.  They may have even loved it more than the cake pop favors.

In the week leading up the the party we scrambled to get the basement area up and running and ready for people to be down there.

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But almost everyone stayed upstairs. Except those who knew we were working on it and wanted to make me feel better.  Oh well…now I will be able to share it here and actually have space for all the new and large toys.

And all the party fun and cake smashing shenanigans will be coming up in Part 2.  Because Part 1 is already way too long.  Said the girl who wanted an low-key party.

L-O-V-E

Happy Valentine’s Day!  In honor of the holiday I thought I would try my hand at a little paper piecing.IMG_7616

OK I admit this was not just for Valentine’s day, but a part of another unfinished in progress project. I was surprised that paper piecing was not a difficult and tedious as I was expecting it to be.  And maybe even a little enjoyable.  So if you are scared of it like I was, do some googling for tutorials and give it a whirl. Now I can spell anything I want on a quilt or sewing project.

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How about D-O-N-E?  Or F-I-N-I-S-H?

Nope, I think I like L-O-V-E better.

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…

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!

Swapping

Last week at the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild we had a holiday swap.

And it was super fun as this is the first swap I have participated.  Because of the unfortunate potholder incident.

The “rules” were that we could make anything for any holiday and we were going to do it in November because most guild members are going to be super busy in December with all sorts of handmade gifts.

I should be one of them.  And I should have also been super busy in September and October as well with this task.  But the procrastinator in me is going strong and I have not started one Christmas gift yet.  So much for getting any sleep the week before Christmas again.

Oh well.

Anyway for the swap I used some left over Figgy Pudding jelly roll to make a fun Christmas accent pillow.

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It came together super quick (even for me) and I just used four blocks of disappearing nine patch.  It is a fun and easy pattern that a simple google search will lead you to many tutorials for.  And this time I was not even ripping seams 5 minutes before I had to leave for the meeting.  Stupid potholders.

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But the most fun part of the swap by far….

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My new Liberty of London scarf!  Somehow even being the last to choose in my group, I scored the swap item that the president, Jacquie, made.  It is gorgeous and so soft.

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And backed with a great autumny orange shot cotton.  Of course I wore it to work the very next day and got tons of compliments. 

As if the scarf was not enough, I also received two fat quarters of Kate Spain’s 12 Days of Christmas.  Which is perfect as I had just ordered fabric from that line for my very own Christmas quilt that I am going to get to as soon as all the drapes and Christmas gifts are complete.

Christmas is still months away….right?

A Dog’s Life

This time of year is very busy around our house.  Not only is it Valentine’s Day, but it also Jack’s birthday and the 15th is our engagement anniversary.  We celebrated Valentine’s Day with a nice dinner on Friday but I bet you can guess who was the star of the show today.  I really wanted him to wear a doggy party hat but that got vetoed but all the males in the house.  Birthday Scrooges.
His day started with a bone.IMG_0122
Then a gourmet steak dinner.
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Followed by some doggy ice cream also known as Frosty Paws.
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Winter also enjoyed the fringe benefits of the festivities.  Hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day!

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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    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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    Holiday Yum

    Call me boring and unoriginal, but my all-time favorite Christmas cookie is the sugar cookie. I loved decorating them every year when I was growing up and would eat them before any one else had a chance. Also since I have a nut allergy which eliminates 70% of holiday cookies, this variety is an easy favorite. When I began to make my own sugar cookies as an adult, I started the hunt for the perfect recipe. There are so many recipes out there that it was difficult to narrow it down to the good ones. I like my sugar cookies thick and soft so that was the main criteria.
    After a lot of trial and error recipes from Allrecipes were the definite winner. I have not made a batch of them this year yet (because frankly the entire batch would disappear within a couple of days because I have no self control with these babies) so my pictures from last year were more for documentation and not very blog worthy or pretty. I will take better pictures this year....promise.

    Sugar Cookie

    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

    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 F (190 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. 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.

    Frosting

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
    • 4 teaspoons milk
    • 4 teaspoons light corn syrup
    • assorted food coloring

    Directions

    1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
    2. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.


    I roll the dough out pretty thick in order to get a really soft cookie. They only rise slightly when you bake them, so use that is a guide for how thick you decide to roll them out. For Christmas, I just use a top of a drinking glass to make the circle shape. Then I use the paste food coloring (the liquid kind does not give me bright enough colors in my opinion) to make red and green. I put a dallop of red and a dallop of green on each cookie and swirl it with a kabob skewer (a fork would work as well). The icing is a little drippy so have something under the cooling racks to catch it. It hardens to a shiny marble finish which I think looks great and is super easy. And everyone will be impressed that you took so much time on them (or at least that is what my friends and coworkers say....they could be lying)

    I also give tons away as gifts to coworkers which has resulted with many requests for the recipe. It is a super easy to just slip them in a bag and add a cute tag.

    Also with a quick color change you can use these cookies for many occassions like favors for a baby shower-

    Or for secretaries day-

    And while this has nothing to do with a recipe exchange, no post about the sugar cookies is complete without the story of the cookies of Christmas 2008.

    The story stars Jack as the main culprit-
    And Winter and his trusty sidekick-

    Two weeks before Christmas, I had made four batches of cookies and had them all allocated for staff at my different schools as well as other gifts. I put the first batch in bags and took them to work with me and left the rest in sealed Pyrex at the back of the counter.

    I came home to this-
    No cookies to be found. Jack and Winter never jump on the counter and we do not even crate them during the day when we are at work because they usually stay out of trouble. Luckily they did not have any glass stuck in their paws and if they ingested any while extracting the cookies, it all worked out OK. At this point I had no time to make any more so one of my schools got jipped out of their cookies because of misbehaved puppies. So a word of warning: do not leave these cookies on your counter even in a sealed glass container as your pups will still somehow sniff them out and have a sugar feast while you are away.

    This recipe is part of the DIY blog party at the NewlyWoodwards. This week the Dare To- Eat Cookies and I can't to try some concoctions of the talented bloggers out there!

    Dare to DIY


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