Advent Calendar

I’ve been wanting to add some sort of “countdown to Christmas” type thing in our home now that Parker is old enough to get excited about those types of things. I didn’t want a traditional advent calendar since those usually involve lots of sweets. I saw an idea on Pinterest to make a calendar with things to do each day of the month while you count down to Christmas. That seemed perfect!

First I made 25 envelopes from some Christmas scrapbooking paper that I already had on hand. I’m trying to get better about using stuff I already have, since buying new crafting supplies is a big weakness of mine. I made up the pattern, just trying different angles and cuts. Here is what I end up with:

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Fold the sides in, add a little glue, then fold up the bottom flap. Voila!

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Then I cut out solid colored paper to use as inserts inside the envelopes. I’ll write the “to-do” on each one and then put a number on the outside of each envelope.

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Here’s the finished product with envelopes glued on to a 20 x 30 foam board.

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What do you think? What do you do for an advent calendar?

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Christmas wreath

The last few years we’ve been using a fairly un-special Christmas wreath to welcome people into the Christmas epicenter that is our home during December. This year I was inspired by pinterest (yet again) to make something unique and festive for our door.

I love the yarn wreaths that are so popular right now and decided to see if I could make something entirely from scraps I already had. Special and cheap and using stuff in my stash? Perfection!

I really like how it turned out but I might replace to flowers with red felt flowers. Not sure. What do you think?

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A Silly Turkey

And just for a post-Thanksgiving laugh, here’s a silly little turkey that I made as an appetizer yesterday. My lovely sister-in-law and I had a little bit too much fun putting this guy together. I saw this idea on Pinterest (where else?) and had to try it myself. I think he came out pretty adorable. What do you think?

And here is our little friend on the appetizer table with the delicious Cranberry Scones and a hummus plate.

I neglected to get a picture of the actual meal, but man, we had a TON of food and it was all delicious. I even managed to stay within my blood sugar range for the day which I thought was very impressive. Unfortunately Brian wasn’t able to join us for the meal because he came down with a stomach bug the night before. Other than that, it was a lovely, low-key, and tasty Thanksgiving.

I hope you are all recovering from your food comas and are getting some great deals today!
Are you a Black Friday shopper? I’m not, but love to hear about the crazy deals people get!

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Just Another Thanksgiving Post

I really didn’t want to write this post because I’m a little sick of reading posts about thanksgiving. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of great stuff out there and it is really beneficial to read. But I have to admit, every time I see a post with the title “Thanksgiving” in it, I kind of just skim through it.

It’s not that I’m not thankful. I’m just tired of feeling guilted into being thankful. You know? I feel like, “gosh, I’m never going to be able to thankful enough.” When everyone keeps telling me to be thankful it makes me question whether or not I really am thankful; and if I am, is it enough? Do I measure up?

And yet, I needed to say something about gratitude. So here we are. Feel free to skip this post if you are sick of Thanksgiving musings from un-profound stay-at-home-mamas. I don’t have a lot new to add. But it is from my heart.

So, I’ve been a bit of a toddler lately. Perhaps Parker’s behavior is rubbing off on me. Regardless, every time I don’t get what I want, I break down crying and questioning God’s plan for my life. Over simple things. Ridiculous things. You wouldn’t want to be friends with me if you knew how little it took to make me feel like my life is falling apart. Like going around to get Parker out of his side of the car only to realize that I forgot to unlock the car and have to go back to the driver’s side, hit unlock, and then go back around.

Yeah, it’s silly stuff like that that ruins my day. So you can imagine what it’s like when something bigger happens. Like I start throwing up after a night where Parker was up most of the night, when I’m taking care of him by myself because my husband is out of town, and we might have to reschedule special weekend plans for the second time in two weeks, because the previous week Parker threw up 7 times in one night, which happened the same day I found out I had gestational diabetes and had to start a whole new diet plan and check my blood sugar four times a day.

Yeah, it isn’t pretty what happens then. I’m basically a big puddle of goo, blubbering on and on about how I don’t understand why God won’t give me rest when he promises it in his Word and I believe he can do whatever he wants to do. And yet he doesn’t seem to care. I wouldn’t want to imagine how I’d respond if something really serious happened. I think a knock-down-drag-out-toddler-tantrum is about what you’d see. Ugly.

So, as I was pitying myself and my lack of sleep and health and rest and the “easy” life, it hit me. I have EVERYTHING I need. Because you know what? I only need Jesus. I want a bunch of other stuff, but I only need Jesus.

Period.

That shut me up. And I haven’t really been able to shake that thought since then. Anytime something even remotely crummy happens, I think — “but I have Jesus. I know him. He calls me his child. He provides peace in the midst of feeling like I can never find peace. I only need Jesus. And he promises never to leave or change.” You see, when he tells me “no” he also says, “I am all you need.” And that’s pretty amazing. Pretty darn amazing indeed.

So that’s what I am thankful for today. How about you?

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Thanksgiving Baking

It’s that time of year! Time for lots of fun baking and new recipes! Hooray!

Even though I can’t indulge in much of the sweets myself, I still enjoy the baking process. So in preparation for our guests arriving tonight (yippee!), I thought I’d get some of my baking done. The Pumpkin Pie was a necessity for after the big meal tomorrow, but the Cranberry Scones were just for fun.

Sometimes when all my baking stuff is already out, I just get on a role. That’s what happened with the scones. I had just made Cranberry Sauce (If you’re wondering why I chose this recipe it’s because I accidentally picked up grapefruit instead of oranges. That’s what you get when you have a little helper picking your produce out!) and had a handful of cranberries left over. I didn’t want to just throw them away — so the scones were born. Plus, we usually eat our Thanksgiving meal more around 4 or 5, so I knew we would want snacks for the morning and early afternoon. I still have to make an Apple Pie, but that’ll be happening after dinner tomorrow, since all I have to do is dump in my lovely canned apple pie filling into a crust. That’s the kind of simplicity I’m going to want after a day in the kitchen!

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert? Are you hosting or attending a meal this year? Any dishes I should know about? Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Cooking!

 

 

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Bookmaking

I’ve always loved books. At least, as far as I can remember. As a third grader I remember being most excited about my Christmas present of the Anne of Green Gables series. Then the Chronicles of Narnia in fourth grade. I always was off the charts when it came to “how many pages have you read?” charts in my classroom.

When my family drove across the country the summer before my freshman year, I remember begging my mom to bring at least 16 books with me. Space was limited for a family of four taking a three week trip in a family van, so I was limited to 8. I finished them in a week just to prove I needed all of those books.

So it kind of made sense when I ended up landing in the publishing industry. It wasn’t intentional. I really just needed a job at the time. But it was perfect. I immediately took to proofreading and even minor copy editing. It was so natural. Even though I preferred the proofreading part of my job, my main tasks in that position were more production oriented. You know, deciding what paper or cover to use on a particular Bible, placing orders, and examining the final product. It was all very interesting really. It’s amazing how we have no idea how something as simple as a book is made. Well, at least, I used to have no idea how it was made. That’s all changed!

A part of the calligraphy course that Brian and I just finished was learning how to make a book. From scratch. Did you even know you could do that? Armed with minimal calligraphy skill, paper, ink, and some glue — a book was born. I decided to make a book for my boys — even if they are way too young to appreciate it. It’s a book about the months of the year, taken from a poem I found in an old children’s book.


I used a scrap of Anna Maria Horner fabric for the cover. It’s attached to matte board with Yes! glue.  I thought the fabric did a nice job capturing the idea of seasons without being too literal.


I used solid brown paper for the endsheets (you know, the pages the start and end any book) and Arches paper for the main pages. Knowing my limits, I decided to use scrapbook paper to dress up the pages rather than attempting any illustrations. The font (or hand, for you that know calligraphy) is Bookhand.


Here is a sample spread — each month is followed by a few short lines and some decorative paper. I used Mod Podge to affix the scrapbook paper, but I’d probably use something different in the future. I don’t like the residual stickiness that seems to be hanging around!


Here is another spread — one of my favorites actually. I reworked some of the rhymes because the words were outdated. The 16 pages are sewn together down the middle crease and then glued to the endsheets. It was fun to feel a little superior in one area of the bookmaking — my teacher couldn’t remember how to use a thimble or thread his needle.

And that’s my book!

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Hats!

I failed my 28 weeks glucose test.

Then I failed the 3 hour follow-up test. (By just a few points I might add!)

So, I officially have gestational diabetes.

I’m very borderline so right now it’s just diet/exercise controlled and there are no real risks to the pregnancy or the baby as long as everything stays in check. This still means checking my blood sugar 4 times a day and eating very few carbs and no sugar. Not the end of the world, I realize, but still not a super fun thing to deal with. Especially around the holidays. When you are pregnant. Harumph!

Anyway, I’ve been consoling myself with knitting. For some reason it relaxes me like nothing else right now. It also helps warm up my fingers so they are easier to prick. Weird, right? Last week I made two hats — one as a gift for my favorite Marine and one for myself.

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This was a birthday gift for my brother-in-law Alex, who is currently a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton. I wanted to give it a camouflage look without being too literal with it. I really like how it turned out. I used the same pattern as the brown/blue one I shared last week.

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And this one is for me. The yarn I bought for Alex’s hat was on sale if you bought two, so I just had to pick up this for myself. It’s my first time doing the cable stitch and I’m in love. I really like how it turned out. I used this tutorial, which I found on pinterest. I would’ve posted a picture of me wearing it but I haven’t done my hair in a few days and it’s a little unruly. I’m sure you have those days too, right?

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Family Photo Session

Last weekend we had the immense pleasure of getting our family photos taken by our dear friend Kirra of Kirra Sue Photography. It was much more of a fun outing with a camera in tow than a formal shoot. And that’s the way we like it! She did such a great job just capturing everyday life and what it looks like for us right now.

I didn’t want to steal all of the pictures from her blog post about the shoot, but here are two of my faves:

Go check all of them out here and give Kirra a shout out if you like them. Or if you like my boots. Because, seriously, those boots are awesome. I highly recommend using her photography skills for any of your family / wedding photo needs! Hey, if a photographer (hubster) approves of Kirra’s photos, shouldn’t you?

And Kirra, you are sooo sweet. I can’t believe all the nice things you said about our little family on your blog. We are certainly the honored ones to have you in our lives. You are one of the most real people I know, and from me, that’s the highest praise anyone can receive. You did a fantastic job!!! And we had so much fun too!

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Christmas Knitting

So, I’m trying to have a handmade Christmas this year. Between the hubster and I, we have the skills of sewing, knitting, calligraphy, photography, and artwork. We figure that should keep just about everybody covered with something that they’d like and appreciate. It might be more work, but it certainly is a way to infuse a little extra love (and a lot less expense) into presents for loved ones.

And what do you craft for the men in your life? Ah, yes. That is a difficult question! If sewing for little boys is tough, crafting for the adult males in your life is almost impossible. This year, I’ve settled on a basic hat and scarf combo for one of the men in my life. Since most of our family is making their way out to our winter wonderland in January to meet Baby N, I figured they could use some extra warmth for the trip! Especially since I doubt that this guy in particular even owns a hat or a scarf!

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I used this tutorial for the hat, but added a contrasting yarn for some added interest. I LOVE how it turned out. Just perfect. Now to knit up a scarf to match!

 

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Spring Block-a-Palooza Quilt

Remember that quilt I was posting so much about in the Spring? Well, I finally finished it. As you may remember, it was one of my sewing goals for 2011 to finish up all in-process quilts. Having morning sickness and being pregnant haven’t really helped me achieve those goals, but I can at least check one more quilt off my list — the Spring Block-a-Palooza Quilt is DONE!

Here is an overview of the finished product. I really love how it turned out. I decided to not use the applique I had started, and I’m so happy with that decision. This just looks a lot more streamlined and modern.

The quilting was interesting, to say the least. I stitched-in-the-ditch around the blocks and then did some freehand designs in the white and yellow areas. I used a template I got for free on google images and marked them on using tracing paper and a tracing wheel. Everything went well until it came time to clean the fabric. I couldn’t get the orange marks fully off the white areas. This made for a very, very sad Monica. Anyone have any helpful hints for removing tracing marks?

Here’s a little peek of the fabric I used on the back. You can clearly see some of the quilting too. I love how stitching-in-the-ditch gives you a little picture of what’s on the front of your quilt!

So, what do you think?

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