Friday, October 29, 2010

Felted Woolapalooza

My sweet niece, R, was more than happy to model some of my wool creations. Although the hats are women's size, they do look pretty adorable on her.

If you were to stop by my home tonight, you would likely be aghast at the amount of wool scraps on my floor. They are especially "heavy" around the computer, because I have spent the last few nights trimming, shaping and sewing wool roses while I watch Alfred Hitchcock Presents on hulu.
I finished making 40 pairs of mittens from recycled sweaters that I felted. Each sweater was 100% wool and I pieced together some funky combinations. The purple Fair isle are my favorite, but I threw together many colors, stripes and designs. The wonderful grandma of a former youth group student passed on her pattern and I know she loved the creativity when she made mittens. They are all lined with plush fleece; cannot even describe how warm & wonderful they feel.

From the wool scraps emerged my many flowers, from which I fashioned barrettes and brooches as well as embellishments for all wool berets. No glue used; all hand sewn.

Not sure which beret I like the most, probably the tan with the huge red rose. It is actually the back of a rose that I had shaped...when I went to sew the leaves on the back, it was so pretty that I decided to keep it faced out backwards.

Barrettes, barrettes, barrettes.

Mostly roses, one with a vintage button in the center.

And one flaming magenta coxcomb, fashioned from the old velvet of a pillow. It is so pretty up close. (Coxcomb are my favorite dried flowers).

Enfin, just above the old radio where I photographed my wool "stuff" is a very scary picture. Found years ago in the basement of my favorite Fredricksburg, VA antiques store. It still gives me the creeps, in a good way.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tissue Holder Tutorial

Who doesn't appreciate a handmade Christmas gift?

The first weekend of November is exciting for me because I get to have a booth at a local craft bazaar. Sewing and creating is relaxing for me and I look forward to making items that are affordable and that others would be delighted to give as a gift.

Several years ago, my friend Amy made a tissue holder for me. Just a simple fabric case (with some cute trim), that holds a single packet of travel tissues. I keep it in my Bible and it's been handy for runny noses or the crying sessions we sometimes have in our women's groups. These tissue holders are pretty standard craft fare so I wanted to make some cutesy, kitschy ones to sell as stocking stuffers, tiny hostess gifts, etc.

After I deconstructed my holder, I couldn't believe the ease of making one. This is a simple project for a novice. (Remember, I taught myself to sew by trial and error & watching youtube!!). A half yard of fabric will yield about 8 tissue holders. (I used flannel as it was on sale for $2.80 per yard). You will also need some coordinating ribbon or trim.

For each holder, you will need:
-three 6.5 inch x 5 inch squares of fabric
-two 6.5 inch lengths of ribbon or trim
-straight pins & scissors

Cut squares from fabric and lay one of the squares aside (this is the back of holder). Fold two of the pieces in half, printed side out. Securely pin folded pieces. (Sorry about lackluster pics; want a new camera but don't need one).

Stitch down your ribbon along the folded edge of each piece....

Next, lay both ribboned halves, RIBBON SIDE DOWN on the third piece of fabric. The third piece needs to be printed side facing in:

Pin front and back together and mark dimensions for finished product: 5 inches by 3.5 inches.

Sew 5 x 3.5 inch rectangle onto fabric and neatly trim excess:

Now for the fun part. Turn your creation right-side-out and place small tissue packet inside.

Finished! A sweet, inexpensive gift for a friend. I have made several different styles: peanut butter & jelly print with rick rack, chocolate & pink print and a vintage brown toile (upholstery fabric). Be creative & have fun.

We all have the flu/sore throat/cold here today. Luckily, roast chicken was on the meal plan so I opted to toss the whole chicken into the crockpot this morning. Added egg noodles later & we had yummy soup for dinner.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Running the Race

Today heralded the 1st fundraiser 3k run for T's school. The 300+ students ran a course (mostly through the woods) and got to cross a finish line. My dad walked to the school with C & I so that we could cheer T on. For those of you who know my 9year old, you understand the competitive, athletic spirit that he has. "Driven" and intense" are two adjectives that describe the Tman.

He was in the division with the 3rd through 8th graders and he finished 7th out of the 300 kids. He is energy and endurance and perseverance rolled into one.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 is an excellent reminder for me to run the race that God has set before me. Sometimes that race seems cumbersome, especially when my days are filled with laundry, runny noses and never ending dishes. Seeing T's pure enthusiasm today renewed my passion to run my race with more fire, to know that I did my very best when I finally cross that finish line.

T is at soccer now and we are waiting for Enrique to come home. Made a yummy dinner of BBQ pulled pork. I tried a new recipe and it trumps my old standby!!

Happy Monday Everyone.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Late October=Changing of the Linens

One of my favorite things to do when the weather gets chilly is to change out my bedroom linens. Yesterday afternoon I took off our spring/summer bedding and took some winter linens down from the top closet shelf.

Beautiful golden and pale green cabbage roses are the print on my linen down summer comforter. The reverse is a mint green ticking and the roll pillows share that pattern. Our curtains are loden green with a plain white cotton behind. Summer means all cotton sheets, the higher the thread count the better! (And you can often find great deals on well made sheets if you can compromise on color. They last much longer, feel luxurious and wash well). One of my favorite things to find at garage sales, thrift stores is vintage embroidered pillowcases. If they have been well cared for, the cotton is usually buttery soft and silky thin.

I also have a vintage white chenille queen spread that I keep on the foot of the bed. Charlie & I use it as a light blanket before stories and naptime each afternoon. It's a big treat to climb onto Mommy's big bed for naps.

Here is the bedding that is hanging over our railing, airing out for winter storage:

This year, I chose the plum bedding that has been "out of rotation" for 3 years. E & I were gifted a beautiful black & white damask bedding set for our wedding and I have been using that for the last 3 winters. I would like it to last a long time, so I'm giving it a "rest" in stotage. The plum comforter is very heavy, perfect for winter-a patchwork of velvet, suede and silk shantung. The whole back is a brushed suede. Winter means the flannel sheets are back!! I put my purple set on yesterday and added the essential electric blanket. I enjoy turning the blanket on a few minutes before bed...nice toasty sheets to crawl between.

Out came the heavy drapes, so heavy that they pulled the hardware out of the wall yesterday and I performed an impromptu repair. They are plum velvet & chenille, great at insulating & keeping the room dark.

If you see bedding on a terrific sale, it is really nice to have a couple sets to change for the seasons, especially if you have hot summers and icy winters like we do. Besides the practical aspects, it is really exciting when spring (or fall) is just around the corner and I celebrate by changing the bedroom.

Off to make that cozy bed...something I need to do everyday but don't always succeed. Work in progress, work in progress, work in progress....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beautiful Art for Our Walls

This past August, my friend and very talented photographer, Kelly, took photos of my family. The pictures were fantastic and we were excited to have them displayed in our home. I finally hung two of the big pictures tonight. They are really big and I chose a black beaded and distressed frame. Matting made the pictures too big for our small spaces, so I chose this simple frame.

I still have 2 8x10s to hang next to these. I just couldn't resist showing off Kelly's amazing skills. If you live in the Chicago area, don't miss the opportunity to have Kelly take your pictures. She is gracious, kind and excellent with children. Here is a link from Hop Skip Photography that chronicles the session:

After a not-so-memorable dinner (don't ask; just know it is a recipe I will never pass on to my worst enemy), I worked on gussying up a "boughten" Goody headband. I had left over scraps from reupholstering my chair, so I used the vintage red toile and sewed a slipcover of sorts for the headband. Next I carefully sewed on two of the felted wool rosettes as well as 2 moss green felted leaves. The leaves were embroidered with sage thread on the machine. The results were darling & I think these will be great sellers at the DGCS Craft Bazaar. Not sure how to price them-ideas??

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Red White & Blue Cookies in October

On Tuesday I got a request to do 8 dozen star cookies in red, white & blue for a ground breaking ceremony. The customer has ordered the same cookies from me a couple of years ago and I was happy to oblige.

My week is very full and Mondays are the token "crazy day" around here, so I began them at 9pm when the boys were in bed. It's much easier to scrub down the kitchen, bake and decorate without 2 little boys around. Enrique is always a helpful taste tester and willingly accepts all reject cookies.

They were simple cookies. Bright marbled royal icing on most and I encrusted several with white sanding sugar.

Here are some Irish Dancing Shoe cookies:

And telephone cookies for a gentleman celebrating 90 years! (He worked for the phone company in earlier years. The rotary dial is white fondant, cut & placed on the wet royal icing:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hot Autumn Apple Punch

You must try this recipe; it is so delicious and tastes like a spicy apple cider.

Last fall, I was hosting an open house and really wanted to have a crock pot full of hot cider for everyone to enjoy. Knowing that I would likely need to replenish the pot several times, the cost of cider for that many people was outside of my budget. I looked to my favorite and found a recipe for Autumn Punch. Of course, I couldn't leave it as is but changed it up to suit my tastes. The results were wonderful. No one touched the hot coffee or tea. I saved a bundle of money with this "faux" cider and now have a standby not drink for the cold Chicago months.

Hot & Spicy Fall Faux Cider
2 oranges
8 whole cloves
12 cups apple juice
2 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
Juice of 2-3 lemons
4 cups pineapple juice
Handful of red hot candies
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Stud the whole oranges with cloves, and bake for 30 minutes.
2.In crockpot, combine the remaining ingredients. Simmer for at least 4 hours.
3.Serve piping hot with the 2 clove-studded baked oranges floating on topn (so pretty!).

1 Peter 4:9 (New Living Translation)
Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Apple Days are Here!

Cortland, Empire, Macintosh, Jonathon, Jonamac, Fuli, Gala, Rome...
All the varieties I chopped up today for apple crisp. Apples are one of my favorite fruits for baking and I love mixing up the different textures and sweet tart differences in pies, cakes, etc.

Generally, I purchase most of my produce at a few smaller local markets. But Meijer has the most wonderful apple selection throughout the fall months. There were 11 or 12 varieties there today and most of them were 59 cents per pound!

Here is a recipe that my sister & I both enjoy. It is LOADED with apples and I like to use several types. It is helpful to cut the firmer apples in thinner slices and the softer (Macintosh, Cortland) in squattier chunks.

Chunky Apple Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla (best quality)
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6-8 cups peeled, chopped tart apples

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugars & vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt & baking soda. Sift gradually into creamed mixture. Mix well. Batter will be stiff. Fold in apples. Spread into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until center is set. Cool at least 30 minutes.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Wrapping Up the Week

What a long, exhausting week we have had.

C woke up on Monday night and his coughing escalated into what I can only describe as a "barking seal sound". Certain that he was having a bout of the croup, we spent much of the night in the small bathroom with the door shut and the shower blasting. I think that we maybe shared 4 hours of sleep between Enrique, C & myself. My friend Kriztina generously let me borrow her nebulizer and we began using it promptly on Tuesday. The nebulizer, coupled with a humidifier, helped significantly. We are still playing catch-up on our sleep, though. (A few drops of peppermint essential oil in the humidifier were brilliant-and the house smells great, too!. Here is a shot of our darling barking seal:

My Dyson kicked the bucket this week so I began researching vacuums. My mom has an older Electrolux and my sister swears by her Oreck. Both of their vacuums are efficient and do a thorough job...but out of my price range. I finally found a Hoover that was $300 at Bed Bath & Beyond, $240 with coupon. You would have thought it was Christmas; we were so excited to try out the new vacuum. It is fabulous!!!!! Yes, 4 exclamation points fabulous!!!! I was shocked at how much stuff my Dyson had been leaving behind. So thankful that my husband is an excellent provider and we are able to purchase nice things that help me keep house.

To cap off the week, T's team won their soccer game tonight and I took a bath with Matt and Randy. Here is a picture of the two bathers in question. Well, just Randy. Matt is still soaking in the tub:

Let me explain. When T was little, his favorite bath time toys were 2 fireman (Matt & Randy). They would always be propped on the tub's edge, ready to fight crime and bubbles. After a missions trip to Mexico, Matt & Randy were joined by an assortment of plastic wrestlers. One day, T asked (rather loudly) if I wanted to take a bath with Matt & Randy or just the Mexican wrestlers. And there you have it. I don't recommend taking a bubble bath with the wrestlers because they get hidden under the suds and can be sharp if stepped on.

I need to retire now. Good night.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chocolate Chip Bars

It's a good thing that my Aunt Betty doesn't have a computer, because she may be disappointed that I have changed up one of her & my mom's "classic" recipes. Sorry, Mom, I know you are reading this.

Their chocolate chip bar recipe has been in our family as long as I can remember & it is a quick, rich bar cookie that we all love.

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 2/3 cup flour
1 bag chocolate chips

Beat eggs until thick & foamy. Add sugar and beat. Add butter, oil & vaniila and mix. Sift in dry ingredients and finally chocolate chips. Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.

I tried to take a picture, but the camera is not working! I have a feeling that Charlie is the culprit...


Here is the one and only Aunt Betty:

I will have my beautiful mom make one of her wonderful pies (best ever!) and post a picture.