Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sadie's Quilt

 This is my niece Sadie's quilt.  It is a labour of love that began last summer and was conveniently ready for the Express Post mailing for Christmas this past week.  The pattern is called Broken Dishes.  I consider myself to be a new sewer, having only been sewing for about a year and a half (although, I'm sure 10 years down the road I'll still be considering myself a new sewer as I look in awe at some of the projects that people have done).  I'm very pleased with the way this turned out.  In truth, when I finished the quilt top, I was so in awe, I kept asking my husband to hold it out for me to view from the other side of the room.
 This quilt started in a fairly typical Kris fashion of me thinking, well, I could do that.  I fell in love with the pattern and found a tutorial at quilting.  (Seriously, this is what I do, I have learned to sew by reading and watching online tutorials and asking my mom and my friend Jill questions over the phone and via Skype).  I have made Sadie a few other little things over the past few years and discovered from my sister-in-law that Sadie loves the homemade stuff.  (We live on different coasts of the country so it's nice, I think, to send a little bit of homemade from one home to another).  So after I made my bee quilt, I thought, I'd really like to made a quilt for Sadie.
 I had a lot of fun collecting all the fabrics for the quilt.  I knew instead of a stationary white, I wanted to use a variety of pinks.  I also knew that I wanted to back it with a soft flannel, so it would be cozy to snuggle up with.  The bolder prints are a variety of everything.  Sadie is 5, so I knew it should be something that would appeal to a little girl, but I didn't want it to be so little girl-ish that it would be too young for her quickly, I wanted it to be something that she can treasure as she grows up.  So there's really a bit of everything in there.  I found some fun polka-dots and cute little girl storybook prints.  I used a couple of fabrics that were the basis of the rag doll I made her for Christmas last year.  I also added in some of my 30's Storybook prints, the fabric from the dress I made my daughter last summer and other odds and ends that were sitting in my sewing box.  This quilt took a life of it's own.  Though it follows the Broken Dishes pattern, there is also the element of the Eye-Spy quilt as each block has a matching fabric pattern randomly scattered throughout to find.

I know the quilt is far from perfect, and I've already asked my sister-in-law not to look to closely as there are several mistakes in it.  It was a real lesson in sewing for me.  I did a lot of ripping out with this one, repiecing, and re-sewing.  And it really did come down to the wire.  I knew there was a deadline.  I wanted Sadie to open it on Christmas Eve and that to Express Post from where we are to where she is takes 3 business days, I had to have it packaged, addressed, and leaving the post office on Monday, knowing confidently that if it missed being delivered on Thursday, they could still pick it up on Friday (which is what happened).  The true test of my patience came on Saturday night as I was finishing what I thought was the second to last line of stitching, my needle broke.  Not only that, but it was my last sewing machine needle.  And I don't live in town.  Town is 30 minutes away and Sundays where we are, not everything is open.  Fortunately a lady in church heard my tale and 'happened' to have a stash of a variety of sewing machine needles, and offered to drop on by after service to see if she had what I needed.  (Never doubt that God answers prayer!).  I finished that afternoon with what was almost the last of my pink thread too!
The real joy came this past Christmas afternoon hearing my sister-in-law thank me for the quilt and tell me how much Sadie (and she) liked it.  I'm glad.  I'm also a little bit tickled because Andrea also mentioned how she wished we lived closer so I could teach her how to do stuff like that :)
The tutorial and pattern I used can be found here.  I did make this bigger that that as it is a quilt for a little girl, not a baby.  I made 8 squares for each row (64 squares total).  Each original square that got pieced off to be a 'broken dish' was 4"x4" instead of 3 7/8" x 3 7/8".
I hope you enjoy your quilt for years to come Sadie!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Celebrating Advent - Advent Wreaths

We were very fortunate last year that one of our  very handy friends gave us this advent wreath candle holder.  He made the wooden holder part and I picked up the (fake) greenery and candles at Michaels.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with an advent wreath, it consists of 5 candles that are lit during the season of advent.  Advent is the season of waiting in the Christian year.  Not only does it represent the waiting to celebrate the birth of Christ, but also, the waiting for the coming Christ.  Advent begins the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.  The 5th Candle is lit on Christmas Eve. 
Each candle represents something different.  The first candle is purple (sometimes blue) and represents hope or prophet.    The second candle is also purple (or blue) and can be called the Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation.  (Some pastors will name the candles in correspondance to their sermon message of the week, my husband named his Holiness this week).  The third candle is pink (signifying that the wait is almost over) and can be called the Shepherd Candle or the Candle of Joy.  The 4th Candle is purple (or blue) and is often called the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love.  Finally, the Centre Candle is white and is the Christ Candle. 
As a family we light the candle of the week each night at supper (so I keep a supply of extra candles handy).  You light the first one the first week, the first and second the second week and so on until all 5 are lit at Christmas. 
This year I made a simple mini felt banner to hang.  The candles and the holly I attached by Heat and Bond, but the flames are just felt (as felt sticks to felt nicely).  It's a great way for the kids to be involved in this season of Advent.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Homemade Advent Calendar

I've been wanting a proper Advent calendar for a little while now. I get frustrated with the "holiday" calendars that some out each year with the cheap chocolate for 32 days. I really don't know why they are 32 days (maybe someone can explain that to me). I've wanted one that lasts for 24 days. Counting down to Christmas. I wanted something that could have chocolate for each of my kids (3) as well as some way of showing the days beyond an empty square. I found this cute idea at Make It Do.Com. Hers is seriously cute and much more professional looking than mine. But I love mine! The backing is a Christmas style pajama fleece - the tree and red front are also in pajama fleece. The numbers on the pockets are in white felt. The tree and numbers are attached with heat and bond. The ornaments are hanging on little jingle bells (picked up on sale at Michael's!). Each pocket is large enough to hold 3 chocolates (the good kinds) and an ornament. I do have a layer of quilt batting in between the front and back.  My kids really love it (as does my husband).  I'm pretty impressed that I can make stuff like this now.  I've only been sewing for just over a year.  This didn't take me very long at all.  I worked on it for  a few nights.  I did hang it just out of my 22 month old daughter's reach.  It's a good thing too - she has come up to me a few times already saying, "Choc-it mama pease!"  and pointing to the calendar :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Snowman Fridge!

I cannot take credit for this super cute idea, I saw it posted on the Facebook Wall of a radio station I enjoy.  I can take credit with making it kid friendly.  The original picture I saw had all the pieces in paper taped to the fridge - I know my toddler girl would have that destroyed super quick.  These pieces are all felt with magnet backing, so she can pull them off and put them back on with minimal disruption.  Gotta think like a toddler to be slightly more clever than they are!

Black Felt
Orange/Red Felt (I couldn't find orange, so red went in its place)
Green or another colored felt for the scarf
Magnet tape

Cut 2 large circles out of the black felt for eyes.  I doubled the felt over and cut the two layers simultaneously so that the circles matched.
Cut 8 smaller circles out of the black felt for the buttons and mouth.
Cut a large, 'carrot-shaped' triangle out of the orange/red felt.
Cut 2 long strips out of your scarf felt (green on ours) -leave one the length of the fridge, cut the other in half to become the other pieces of your scarf.
Cut out strips of magnet tape.  I cut 3cm pieces and then cut those lengthwise to make skinny strips.  Attach the magnet tape to the felt pieces.  The Eyes have 4 strips on each, at the edges.  The buttons and mouth pieces each have one piece down the middle.  The nose has 3 strips.  The scarf has 6 strips and the extra scarf pieces (the hanging down bits) each have 3 strips.  Total magnet tape strips = 31

This took about half an hour to make from start to finish.  I can't wait for my kids to see it in the morning - my husband had a good chuckle over it :)

Felt Christmas Tree for kids!

Yes, I'm inspired to be a little crafty this Christmas. I first saw this idea on a Facebook group I love "Ideas and Inspiration for Crafty Parents".  They linked it back to a fellow crafty mom's blog "Empty Bobbin Sewing".  I thought how cute and easy is that?  It's just a big piece of green felt, cut into a tree shape and pinned to the wall.  The rest is just felt shapes cut out.  My kids can decorate and re-decorate this tree as much as they want this season!  I love it!

My Fisher Price Nativity Set

I'm super excited for my latest find. I first saw this Nativity set at a friend's place about 5 years ago. I asked where she got it and she told me she found it in the States. I thought for sure I wouldn't have to go to the States to find this thing. After all, we have Little People here in Canada. And each Christmas I looked and looked and searched, but never found it. (That's one thing about being a mom, you can spend a lot of time in the toy departments!). I came close to ordering it online once, but balked at the shipping fee. Then yesterday, by fluke I saw it. One of 4 left at Zellers. Not only that, but it was on sale too! I was so excited. I couldn't wait to put it out for my kids today.
The reason I loved this so much is because of my own fond memories of playing with the Nativity set my parents had when I was growing up. My mom had made all the figures for it one year so they were not breakable. I wanted my kids to have the same kind of experience. To play out the Nativity story for themselves. That's why this little set is so perfect. It's very sweet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Storm Day in the country - City Life vs. Country Life

Yes it is November 23rd and yes we are having our first storm day/snow day of the year. Last year in the city my son went to school on almost every day it snowed. There was one exception and it was a particularly bad snowstorm. Even for that the teachers declared was a very rare occurrence as school had never been cancelled during many of their careers. Out where we live now most schools are busing dependent. The transportation department likes to keep it safe for the kids, so if it's bad, we stay in. There was no snow on the ground when I was first up at just before 6, but the storm alert was there and sure enough the school cancellation memo was up on the district website at 5:57. Snow started falling at 7. And I'm glad I didn't have to commute in today. It's pretty much a white out right now. Earlier in the day, my boys took advantage of the snow, our large, hilly backyard and their new sleds and had a blast. Once they were finished and sipping hot chocolate inside, I put their sleds back into the shed. Looking across the street I saw the ATV crew out and about, slip sliding around on the main streets. That's a sight you would never see in the city. ATV's are really big out here. There's lots of trails nearby and it's a real community thing. I just hope they are careful and back inside now that the storm has gotten bad.  Here's a bit of our morning:

                                             My daughter, enjoying the warmth of inside.

                                                        My oldest, showing off his new sled

                                                          My other son doing the same

                                                                    Down the hill

                                                                 So much fun!

What I'm working on

I'm taking advantage of our storm day home and chain sewing all kinds of triangles together. I'm really glad for it as these seemingly endless triangles are to be a Christmas gift for my niece this year. Just what is it exactly? Check back and see in another month, once it's done and properly arrived in the hands of its owner ;)

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How To Make A Beanbag


This easy craft was a moment of chance this morning.  I was preparing my Sunday School lesson and realized that I needed a beanbag.  I wasn't sure if the church had a beanbag or not.  I thought, I have the materials I need to make one of those, they can't be that difficult.  They were so easy.  My kids each wanted one and it took me no time at all to get them together.  They even helped me with the filling part.
Materials:  Scraps of fabric (large enough to make the size of beanbag you want), lentils (or beans or rice, lentils really make a nice feel to the beanbag), thread, small funnel, sewing machine (though you could hand sew these)

Step 1:  Fold your fabric in half so that you cut equal sizes of rectangles.  Use a rotary cutter on a cutting mat to size out and cut your fabric - I made mine 5 x 6

Step 2:  Reposition the fabric so the good sides are facing each other, rough sides out.

 Step 3:  Sew the fabric together, leaving a space of about an inch open on one side (that's what you will use to turn the fabric out and stuff with the beans.


 Step 4: Turn the bean bag inside out so it's now the right way around.

Step 5:  Put the funnel into the hole of the bean bag and scoop the lentils into the funnel to pour into the beanbag.  (Here's my son filling his).

Step 6:  Once filled, sew the hole up.  Now you are ready to play.  *note - I made 4 bean bags today.  2 of them used scraps of quilting cotton and 2 of them used a more durable decorating fabric.  It's up to you which makes the most sense for you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

This Moment

this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yep, it's snowing

October 30th is the official first snowstorm of the year for us here.  I can't say it was the first snow because we did have a few flakes a few days ago.  Needless to say my boys are thrilled and are begging for us to get their sleds out of the shed (not yet, but if it keeps up, I will).

This was not something I ever experienced until I moved east.  You see for most of my life I lived on the West Coast of Canada.  And yes, I'm one of those people who love the rain.  Snow for us was a rariety, usually seen for about a week a year and that's it (unless you drove up to the mountains for skiing).  Every few years we'd get a big dump of it and everyone would panic, but usually rain was the winter norm.
Living on the East Coast is completely different.  It's not that unusual for it to snow this time of year.  And it will continue to do so until April probably.  The area where I live experiences great jumps in temperature pretty fast (my boys were wearing tank tops a week ago) so we'll get this and then it will melt and be warm and then freeze again, until about February when it's really just an ice cube for most of the month.  (Nothing like early morning school bus duty in February!).  I'm not a huge fan of it.  It's pretty and fun for a while.  And you do get a lot of cozy days spent inside with your family.  But it's also why I usually don't get out of town visits from my parents during the winter.  But the fact remains that it's all part of living in Canada.  Yep, it's cold - not much I can do about that.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Toddler speak

My dear girl is an absolute ball of cuteness lately (I love this age for kids). She's talking a lot and more and more her words are speaking in short phrases. Some recents include:
Go, go, go!
Hockey brudder!
Oh Man! (thank you Dora)
Thank you! (love that one!)
No Mama! (don't love that one as much)
She's also quite comical, and will on purpose answer "Meow" when asked what does a doggie say - usually with a cheeky grin.  She'll also say, "bye, bye" in response to "I love you" and call me "Daddy" and Jonathan "Mama" - still with a cheeky grin attached.
I love watching her play as more and more of the pretend play comes out.  Her favorite things to do include pushing her dolly stroller around and around and around, wearing one mitten (mittet) ever so stylishly around the house and driving her little people bus around.

My girl, complete with cheeky grin, wearing my shoes!

Friday, October 21, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Friday, October 14, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Returning Stuff

Today I went to "Unnamed Large Department Store" to return 4 pairs of pants I had bought for my 4 year old. Do you know why I had to return 4 pairs of pants? Because they shrank in the wash. Not just a little bit - a lot! Like from a size 5 (which he needs) to about a size 3 (which he hasn't worn in a year and a half). I was seriously disappointed because it took me forever to find pants for him that were reasonable and kid friendly (check one point for large city living, down one for the small town). Fortunately, he had only worn 3 of these pants so the 4th pair was unwashed and you could see the difference. I'm talking 4 inches of fabric difference. When he tried them on at the store, they were too long for him. The first time he wore them, I folded over the waist to make them fit him better. When he put them on after washing they were halfway between his ankles and knees. Crazy. Of course I didn't have the receipt. It took me forever to find pants that fit that he liked. I've been buying little boy pants for over 7 years now and I've never seen this happen. No problem (or so I thought). The store policy says, "Items returned without a receipt will be given and in store credit for the lowest most recent price". Totally fine by me. I paid clearance price anyway. Very politely, I brought the pants up to the children's department counter. I explained that I would like to return these pants because they shrank too much. The clerk barks at me, "Did you follow the washing instructions correctly?" "Yes, I did" (laundry I can do) I unfolded the pants to show her the size difference. "Well these are different pants from each other" she says "No, they are the same brand, same size" "Oh, well, do you have a receipt?" "No, I don't have it anymore, I've never had this happen before and wasn't planning on returning them" "Well, you NEED a receipt you know" Okay would someone please explain to me why the attitude? I have no problem with her. I am returning pants from her store. I'm not rejecting her, just the pants. But I bite my tongue and restrain myself from taking the return policy sign that is right there on her counter and hitting her over the head with it, and she storms away to another sales counter. I wait. She returns and starts typing numbers into her computer. "Well, I can only give you $4.99 a pair for them and only on store credit" She looks at me, almost daring to object. "That's fine" I smile back at her. After I left, I kept thinking about this. I remember when I was younger, I was so nervous returning things to a store. And this is why, I'm sure of it. There have been others who work in sales who give you such a hard time about returning things. I remember returning one pair of jeans I bought when I was in University and the sales lady there said, "Well, I don't know if I could put these back on the rack now and sell them." (These were jeans with the tags and I had the receipt, so I really don't know what her problem was). Maybe dealing with returns is frustrating, but it doesn't have to be. Many stores have these great "no hassle" return policies and they should. You shouldn't be barked at, or talked down to because you need to return something. Today, I made a reasonable request. I needed to return something because the merchandise was faulty. Had these pants been normal pants I wouldn't have returned them. If your goal is to keep your customers happy so they will continue to be your customers, then please, treat them like people!

The traffic line up - a picture for my mom

Here it is. My mom and I were chatting and she didn't quite get the concept of a 2 km line up of traffic before a construction zone - so I took this picture of it the other morning. This is the last stretch before the bridge.