Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Stocking for Donovan

A Stocking for Donovan          

Well, I’ve had this on my to-do list since before he was born… and I managed to get it done the day before I put up my Christmas Decorations.  Ahh, deadlines.  I work so well with them. =)  I made three patchwork stockings five years ago.  I made three, partially because I already was wishing we had a baby, and partly because I had purchased a set of stocking holders from Pottery Barn that spell out JOY.  (Or YOJ when my husband has his way and mixes up the letters.)  I saved scraps from that sewing frenzy so that I could make more stockings as our family gets bigger that matched the originals.  So here’s how I did it!

I bought a little new fabric for the lining.  I managed the front and back with scraps.  I chose one of my favorite quilt square patterns, pinwheels in this case.  I used pinwheels on his baby quilt and made real pinwheels for his mobile, so now they just make me think Donovan. =)  So I made a pinwheel about 8 inches square, and then just added strips where I needed it to be bigger.  With the originals, I made patchworky blocks about 12 inches by about 18 inches, but this way there was less waste, and it still looks nice and patchy to match the originals. 

So after sewing  a top that was big enough to match my stockings, I cut out a backing, and then two more pieces to be a lining.  Sew the fronts together, leaving the top open.  Sew the linings together, leaving the top open and a hole on one side to turn the finished stocking.  Then you put the two pieces together, sew around the top, and then turn through the hole you left in the lining.  I never sewed this shut, although you certainly could, especially if you put lots of little things in the stocking.  I’ve never lost anything though.  =) 

The original three are pretty too, but I think Donovan’s is my favorite =)  Serenity’s stocking is a log cabin pattern, which was my original favorite.  I’d always wanted to do a log cabin =)  Eric’s is just lots of triangle blocks and nine patches.  Mine is a pretty pointy star.  I wished I’d added some of the ivory to it to make it pop more. 

I just love sampler-type quilting.  I’ll have to share my tree skirt soon =)   

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pies =)

Pies =)

My Grandma Bair taught me to make pies.  I still remember her voice telling me the ingredients, her hands showing me how to measure and knead the dough.  It makes me happy every time I use the recipe she gave me to make pies for others.  I play around with new filling recipes all the times, but here is my basic pie dough recipe, straight from my Grandma Bair.  The fun part is it’s sort of a pitch and pour recipe, but I’ll try to make it make sense. 

1 cup Crisco
2 cups and a bit of Flour (the ratio of flour to Crisco is a little more than 2 to 1, so you can make as many crusts at once as you like.)
Some sugar, maybe a quarter cup. 
Pinch of salt.  My Grandma taught me to measure a pinch by cupping my hand and pouring just a bit of salt in, but I think it’s like an eighth of a teaspoon.
Cold water added a bit at a time until the dough balls up.

Then you just need to roll out the dough.  Here I use a trick from my Mama.  If you roll the dough between waxed paper, with a nice coat of flour sprinkled on top and on bottom, then you’re less likely to have to overwork the dough to get it big enough.  Grandma Bair made pies all the time and could just roll it out straight on the counter with flour, but I don’t practice enough.  You want it to be fairly thin.

Then you transfer it to the pie pan!  For a pudding type pie, I bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.  Be sure and poke the crust with a fork so it doesn’t bubble up. 

For fruit pies, you need a second crust, and you can either crimp the edges with a fork, or by pinching it between two fingers.  I loved it when Grandma Bair taught me to do that, it made it feel like fancy baking =) 

For Serenity’s Thanksgiving banquet today, I made a coconut pie, a chocolate pie with irish cream flavoring, and a cherry almond pie.  I ran out of eggs or there would have been a maple pumpkin pie too!  Have to save that for next time.  Enjoy the recipe!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Advent Calendar Planning

I can’t believe I’m already lining out the Advent Calendar list!  I’m highly motivated for two reasons… first, I’ve been thinking about blogging it, and second, since Serenity is three now she will totally notice if I try and sneak it in after the day has begun.  Also, things just take more planning with two, kwim?

The advent calendar is a new challenge this year, since I want Donovan to get to participate too!  Having things lined up for a three year old and six month old will be a challenge.  I think he’ll love the music and books, and we can certainly involve him in making ornaments for the tree.  He’ll have to wait a year for candy though =) 

Here's Serenity with our Advent Calendar last year.. I splurged on the one from PBK

Advent Calendar 2011
1.) Sing. I will try to make a fun mix cd to listen to in the car on the way to school, or we will just sing if my cd player is still broken.  Serenity loves Jingle Bells, so when she gets home I think we’ll try to play it on the piano or with her handbells this year!  Donovan will get a kick out of ringing bells too I think.

2.) Decorate Serenity’s Room for Christmas.  I bought a PINK Christmas tree last year for her room, so we’ll light this up and maybe add some new decorations this year, plus I saw an adorable Christmas tree craft on Pinterest I may try with her… I promise to share!

3.) Read.  I bought Ten on the Sled and Gingerbread Girl goes Animal Crackers from the book fair already!  And this will set us up well since our cookie party is the next day, we can make some cookies after reading about the Gingerbread Girl!

4.) Cookie Exchange Party. This is an annual event for us.  Our friends and their kids come over and we each bake different kinds of cookies and trade.  Yummy and fun!  We try to do games and crafts too.  Now I just need to search for some fun and fancy cookie recipes =)  

5.) Make Presents: I bought Crayola Model Magic and found this great activity. Serenity can use cookie cutters to make ornaments to send to grandparents, and we can make footprints or handprints with Donovan.  Perfect!

6.) Make Digi Christmas Cards and Mail them.  Serenity loves the mailbox so this year she can be in charge of stuffing, stamping and mailing the cards.  Now I’ve got to get busy and take some pictures for it!
One version of our card from last year.  Yay Photoshop.  What's YOJ, you ask?

7.) See Santa.  Maybe she will care about this enough to stand in line this year… she did love the Easter bunny. =)  I will not make Donovan do it, although to this point he doesn’t mind going to see strangers. 

8.) Movie Night: We try and watch a great Christmas movie together… any recommendations for a three year old?  She doesn’t seem to care about anything not animated, I look forward to when we can do the Miracle on 34th Street.  Last year we did the animated Frosty one… which was not as good as I remembered from childhood.  We did love Curious George’s Christmas though.  

9.) Craft: I have a few kits already from Target that look like a lot of fun!

10.) Candy Cane Hunt:  This was a huge hit last year.  We’ll have to check the weather to see if it should be indoors or outdoors, but you do it just like an egg hunt.  I’ve already got the Canes and everything!

11.) Backyard Game, like croquet or cornhole toss, or bocce. 

12.) Daddy’s Birthday… and Christmas Lights… we may be brave and go to Rhema this year.  We’ll see how excited Serenity gets at seeing lights from the car, we may just find a nice neighborhood to drive through. 

13.) Last day of school… Add a photo ornament to the tree.  Keep it simple on school days =)

14.) Angel Tree/Samaritan’s Purse.  I want to either take her shopping and explain the Angel tree to her, or use the Samaritan’s purse catalogue to explain giving to others with her. 

15.) Read: I got a new Boynton book, Bob the Reindeer.  Should be a hit with both kids! =) 

16.) Decorate a Gingerbread house

17.) Game Night: New board game, possibly the Penguin one I saw.  We are board game nuts so a new one is always welcome =)

18.) Special Breakfast, maybe Monkey bread?

19.) Neighborhood Walk to see Stars and Lights

20.) Puzzle: Haven’t found a good holiday one yet, but probably I will find an irresistible one before Christmas =)

21.) Carriage Ride at Winterfest?

22.) Read Nativity Story, put up Nativity…if we have one.

23.) Bake more cookies as the others will be gone, including Sand Tarts for family.

24.) Watch Home Movies:  I always make a greatest hits dvd of my favorite movies from the last year, and we watch it with popcorn. 

25.) Again, ideally we’d put Baby Jesus in the nativity… but we don’t have a nativity yet!  Maybe I’ll borrow Mom’s Little People one this year, or cave and buy my own. 

I’m doing pretty well!  I need to find a puzzle, a new board game, some individually wrapped candies to add in some days, and gingerbread house supplies.  And I need to make the home movie dvd and the Christmas card. Make sure I have all the slips that go in the Advent Calendar written. Not too bad. 
This isn’t set in stone obviously, as I haven’t even finished looking for special events around town that we might enjoy, and Eric might want to switch things up so we do his favorite things on days he has off.  But I have a workable list, and I know what I need to buy!  Thanks blog readers, for motivating me to do this before December for a change =) 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to make a t-shirt quilt:

How to make a t-shirt quilt:

I’ve gotten several random requests about these lately, so I thought I’d share what I did with my college t-shirts.  I’m an alumni of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity, and so is my husband.  So not only did I have a million t-shirts from so many great events… my husband had the exact same shirts!  Since we didn’t really need so many shirts, I decided we needed t-shirt quilts. 

The process is very simple.  You just buy iron-on interfacing and iron it to the backside of each of your t-shirts.  I went ahead and cut them open first, because I planned to use both the front and the back.  My pattern was just to use 14 inch squares and set it off with sashing, so I cut that size from each shirt.  You can do it in any design you want though!

Ironing on the interfacing makes it much easier to work with the knit fabrics.  You won’t have to worry about them stretching or bunching strangely.    Cut them to the exact size of your blocks after using the interfacing.  I use a rotary cutter and plastic ruler for this.  I can’t cut a perfect square with scissors. =) 

I then cut two inch strips out of bright solids and sewed them around each square as a border.

The next step would usually be to add batting and a backing and quilt it… but I decided to cheat.  Instead, I just made it into a duvet.  This worked great because when I use it on my bed I just Velcro it right on top of my duvet.  And it’s still heavy enough to work as a blanket by itself if I have lots of company.  But quilting would work great too, especially machine quilting so you can toss it in the washer more easily. 

If I did it again I think instead of making two duvet covers I would make one front and back, because I love the feel of the t-shirt fabric.  I used flannel for my original backing, so it’s nice, but not as nice as well worn-in shirts. 

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Back to Thanksgiving =)

Finally found something to be thankful with!  I have plenty of things to be thankful for, of course, but I’ve been waffling about what crafts to do with Serenity =)  This morning, she caught me going through my google reader, and caught sight of some traced Thanksgiving turkey handprints and said, “I want to make that duck!”  So we made Thanksgiving ducks, and after she looked at the picture again and realized it was actually a turkey, we made turkeys too.  And she actually colored the fingers!  She hasn’t been too interested in crayons before but she’s starting to get good with them.  This is a very exciting development, I may put it on my own Thankful Turkey!  She said she was thankful for leaves, her computer, Mama Daddy and Donovan, and school.  The first two she chose because they were sitting right in front of her.  As she continued to list stuff she could see (like Daddy’s water bottle) I explained that you are thankful for things that make you really happy, like family, friends, etc.  So she said she was thankful for Mama, Daddy, and her Donovan, and school.  Nice! 

I’m also thinking about doing these things:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christmas Shopping!

Christmas Shopping! 

I am just about done Christmas shopping… but don’t be mad.  That just means I can get started on my Christmas crafting!! =)  Serenity is just three, and Donovan is five months, so they don’t need tons of toys really.  They get so many hand me downs and grandparent gifts I feel like they are pretty content. =)  But I like to get them something from us, so we usually do a book and a toy or game, plus a few stocking stuffers.  I thought I’d share what I found because I’m especially excited! 

Sandra Boynton now does a personalized book!!!!!  It is so cool.  All of Serenity’s favorite books her first year were Boynton books.  They are adorably illustrated, so cute and funny enough that I never minded reading them a hundred times each.  So when I saw this I knew Donovan had to have it =)  Serenity would probably love it too, as she has really started loving her own personalized books lately.  We received a few as gifts for her first birthday, but the stories were a little long,  so we only read them a few times.  Well, around her third birthday, she started begging me to read these books to her nightly!  We have one that is Justice League, and one that is a Fairy Tale book that spells her name.  I think my Mom got that one for her at Pottery Barn a couple of years ago.  Anyway, I wanted to get her another book with her name in it, and found this:

You get to customize the main character!!! So not only does the book have her name in it, the little girl looks like her!  Little Girl Wonder!  I can’t wait to see her face when she opens it! 

On to the toys I have so far.  For Donovan I got the Fisher Price A-Z learning zoo.  I nearly got it for Serenity last year, but it’s a Fisher Price exclusive so you have to order it from them… and pay shipping!  I am an amazon prime member and have an instinctive aversion to paying for shipping.  And I worried she’d outgrow it too soon.  But after thinking about it all year, I decided Donovan would grow into it and I should just give in and get it.  I’ll have to review it after Christmas!

Then for Serenity, I got a play-doh ice cream set.  Legos and Play-doh are the two toys that Serenity plays with absolutely every week, and since I got her a couple of awesome lego duplo toys (the tube set and supermarket set) I decided to get her a new play-doh thing.  I may keep my eyes open for another board game, like Inchimals, but probably this will just about do it. 

So now to the drawing board to see what gift I will make them!  I’m thinking quiet book for Donovan… we’ll see!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rapunzel Day

We just got back from an excellent trip to Cali!  We have family there =)  Yesterday was a total rest at home day to catch up and get back in the right time zone, so we had a movie marathon day.  I didn't take any pictures, because part of playing catch up is downloading the thousand pictures I took last week.  But I'll just tell you about the day anyway, because it turned out to be fun!

Serenity chose Tangled, and we ended up playing it three times yesterday.  She almost never watches a movie straight through, there are breaks for playtime.  Today, she asked to make a lantern like Rapunzel's, so I took a plain piece of printer paper, and added dots to it that Serenity could connect them to make the sun design.  Then we taped it up into a cylinder and I added one of those led tea lights, and voila!  It was quick and a big hit =)

Then she wanted to use her play-doh.  We have these fun little letter cutters for the play-doh, and she wanted to spell everyone's names from the movie.  So I helped her figure out which letters she needed for the names (She wanted to do two u's for Rapunzel, and who could blame her?  And what's with the Y for an I in Flynn? =)  Then she put them in the right order.  And she rolled out a long piece of play-doh and said it looked like Rapunzel's hair, so I made her a little doll out of play-doh to attach it to.  For some reason she loves the people I make with play-doh, even though they look like creepy voodoo dolls to me.  Oh well. =)

Then we played pretend.  She was Rapunzel, Papa was Max (the horse) and I was Pascal.  Just goes to show who the important people are in the movie. =)  If she gets really into dress up, I may make her a wig like Lier did on ikatbag: you can see it here.

We also read this book to round out Rapunzel Day =)  Serenity can read it herself, but we usually take turns. 


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin Fun... it's not too late is it?

Pumpkin Patch! 

So I used our visit to the pumpkin patch to test out my spiffy new lens, the Canon E/F 50mm.  The cool thing about this lens is it goes to f/1.8, which is a nice low f-stop that will let me get pics with fancy blurred backgrounds.  I really wanted this lens because my house is ALWAYS messy so I’d like to have the option to make that fade so the pictures focus on what’s important… the kids. =)  So I basically put my camera on AV mode, which makes me choose the aperture, and played around!  It was really interesting.  I am a total newbie when it comes to the DSLR, and when I first started using this lens I felt like I had everything in a microscope!  It seems to zoom in close even though it’s so short.  It’s interesting, and kind of a challenge since I’m used to having to get in my subject’s face to get a close up.  I like it though, and I’m getting some fun results.  I’m not good enough yet to go full manual, so I practice things like shutter speed, aperture, and iso one at a time.  Here are a couple of my favorite pics!
See, Serenity is in focus, nice fuzzy pumpkins

All the random people, fuzzy, Serenity and her horse, in focus!

And here’s a fun activity you can do with your pumpkins, assuming you haven’t thrown yours all out since it’s after Halloween already =)  We didn’t carve ours so they’re still good. 
Playdoh Pumpkin Decorating!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Fair Recommendations

Serenity’s School had a book fair!  It’s the first one that I’ve been to since she’s been in school (although I sneaked in last year too).  I loved it!  I volunteered for a few hours and got to see all the kids wandering through and finding wonderful treasures.  The teachers had made wishlists, and it was nice to see what books or new series they recommended!  I came home with several great things, and a long list of books I want to check out from the library for Serenity, and myself!

Here are the books I couldn’t live without:

Pout Pout Fish in the Big Big Dark: This is the book Serenity specifically went to and chose.  It was at her eye level, which helps.  I think they must have read it in class because she greeted it like an old friend.  

Ten on the Sled: This one is for Donovan for Christmas, possibly during our Advent Calendar Activities.  I must have read Ten in the Bed to Serenity a hundred times when she was his age.

Gingerbread Girl goes Animal Crackers: This one is for Serenity during Advent.  I imagine we’ll make Gingerbread cookies or a house this day as well!

If You Give a Dog a Donut: Grandma got Serenity this one, and it was a huge hit.  She chose it for her bed book that night and I could hear her reading it over the monitor.  So cute!  And you know Grandma loves dog books. =)

Ponyella: This was a cute story, Cinderella in horse form.  Serenity loves all the jumping the pony does!

Duck and Cover: This was a recommendation from her teacher (I got one for the classroom too)  It was hilarious, and I want to check the whole series out from the library!

Kid’s National Geographic Beginning Atlas: My Mom got me this one.  It really is for our whole family, Eric and I are nuts for atlases, and Serenity has started having an interest in maps thanks to Stack the States and possibly Dora.  We read the first entry on how to read maps, and she was so focused!  She read the map key and figured out what all the colors indicated in the sample map, like blue was for library, green for parks, and located them all on the map.  Eric and I were all geeked out =)

Here are the books I didn’t buy because I don’t have unlimited space or money, but would love to read anyway!
For Serenity
Hibernation Station
Yes Day
Olivia the Princess
Every Cowgirl needs a horse
5 Monkeys in the bed
Skippyjon Jones
Amelia Bedelia
Camilla the Cupcake Fairy
Sloppy Joe
Interrupting Chicken
Miss Smith Under the Ocean
Duck Soup series

For me:
The books of elsewhere
Beautiful darkness
Witch/wizard James Patterson

*The pins go to my Amazon Associates link, so if you buy them from Amazon through that link I think I get something.  It's never happened so I'm not sure it works =)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Flamingo Food

Flamingo Day!

Serenity has a new favorite animal… flamingos!  The last two times we went to the zoo she picked the flamingo as the animal she definitely wanted to see before we left (I always ask her to pick an animal, that way we have a goal since we’re zoo members and can go as often as I’m willing to drive out there =)  The zoo has been doing a Think Pink deal with huge flamingo posters, and when we went through the zoo gift shop she looked longingly at this soft little flamingo.  Then she looked up and told me that her flamingo that she has at home was missing her baby flamingo!  So I caved and got the flamingo.  The flamingo we have at home is one of her favorite things, she even took it for show and tell at school!  And it always makes me laugh, because I nearly didn’t get it.  It’s actually a dog toy that she found at Target.  It was just three dollars, and she has had so much fun with it! 

Here she is teaching Eric how to swing the flamingo by the legs.

So today, after a sandbox incident where Serenity found a piece of algae and ate it, telling her Daddy she was a flamingo and so that’s what she eats, I made some pretend food for her flamingo family.  I sewed some shrimp using a felt sushi pattern I had, making it extra pink.  (Did you know that flamingos are pink because they eat a lot of shrimp and things with beta-keratine in them?)

Serenity loved feeding her flamingo, and she made them a lake with one of our silk scarves that I dyed, and a nest for a flamingo egg out of my fuzzy brown sweater.  She put an Easter egg in it =)

We also watched Diego’s, A New Flamingo Mommy, which we have on tape.  This is the show that precipitated the algae eating incident.

Oh, and we practiced our flamingo dancing by standing on one leg. =) 

I’ve ordered several books from the library that have flamingos in them, including Sylvie and a couple about Miss Mingo

If this keeps up, maybe I’ll make a flamingo costume for her like I made her rainbow bird wings