Thursday, December 29, 2011

the joy of giving

And here, as promised, is a photo compilation of the presents I sewed this year for Christmas.  In uploading these I realized there were a few I forgot to take picturess of before wrapping/sending, and a few I didn't get to finish at all (an IOU is a lovely present, no?).  But, I'm not going to stress it.  I'm currently recovering from an icky cold and from being the caregiver to two children also suffering the same icky cold.  The caregiver role may have scarred me "just a bit".  So, I'll mince my words...I'm scared what may slip out in my current condition. (I mostly jest!)

Without further ado:

Rainbow colored pencil roll for Prismacolor pencils.
Roll all rolled up :)
Patchwork coasters
Previously shared travel car mat

Rainbow patchwork bookmarks

Reversible Hello Kitty skirt with patch pockets

Reverse of skirt

Itty Bitty baby pillowcase dress

Table runner #1

Table runner #2

Table runner # 3

Hope they were well-received and enjoyed.
Have a happy and safe (don't drink and drive!) New Year- I'll see ya'll on the flip side. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Clothes!

So I rarely sew things for my children.  In fact, they BOTH are still awaiting their baby quilts.  Kenzie's is almost done- just needing a binding, but Ash's is nothing but a few completed blocks.  I'm not sure how many baby quilts I've made in the past four years, but it's truly a sad testament to my parenting style that there are babies all around this island snuggling with their blankies, yet my kids, well, aren't.  So this year for Christmas, I was SET on making my babies some gifts.  And I did!  Here are some pics of new duds they received.  I know I'm partial, but seriously?  So cute.  

For Asher I made a pair of pants with knee pockets.  I used this fabulous tutorial: MADE Kid pants with flat front   Take some time on her site- she's got the most amazing tutorials, and her blog is beautiful.  
I was hoping these pants would turn out a bit bigger- I guess I need to work on my pattern drafting skills a bit.  I lucked out in that they at least fit him now- but there's not much room to grow. The material is a japanese cotton with linen knee pads.  It's super soft and super cool.

And MacKenzie received a wrap-around circle skirt.  I went here for some help.  I was hoping to make her a skirt in the same fabric as Ash's pants, but didn't have the length left in the fabric I had purchased.  So I used this awesome print I have been hoarding for awhile.  (I'm a baaad fabric hoarder!) It's lovely- a wonderful swing to it, and fairly adjustable.  It is the PERFECT twirling skirt. 

I love seeing my littles in their new clothes- and knowing they love wearing them as much as I loved giving them.  It feels so good to make things for people you love!
And speaking of people I love, here's my Mr. with his nattily attired youngin's.  (Can girls be nattily attired?  Hmm..)  His thermal has a little hand-painted elephant wearing shoes.  Have you ever mouthed the words "elephant shoes" to someone?  Try it :)

Elephant shoes to all of you.  Check back soon for the full Christmas present round-up.  I'll show and tell all the fun things I've made this year. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Travel Car Mat Tutorial

Ladies, it's crunch time.  Only 4 more days until Christmas!  So, you're either reading this with a smug grin, knowing you got your shopping and presents done in July (dear sister of mine) or you're running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to find those last minute things for the hard to shop for.
Why not hide out in your jammies instead, and make this easy-peasy travel car play mat? It'll take you about an hour, and depending on materials you may already have on hand in your fabric stash, could even be free.  Sweet, no?  Yes.
I'd like to give a shout out to my fellow crafty mommy here in Hawaii, the supah talented Sharon of Mama's a Mess.  Check her blog out, and then order her stuff here: Happy Hapa .  She originally introduced me to this AMAZING fabric that has a little block of Honolulu printed on it- complete with the Zoo, Shell amphitheater, and iconic Waikiki.  Love this stuff!

1 11x18" piece car themed fabric- city scenes, roads, airports, or even just wide stripes could work *fabric A
1 11x18" piece town themed fabric (or an additional car themed piece, to have the same front and back) *fabric B
1 11x18" piece interfacing or heavy cotton batting
2 11x6" pieces for the pockets in coordinating fabric
1 coordinating button, snap, or velcro
coordinating thread

Once pieces have been measured and cut:
1. Sew a top hem in each pocket panel to finish top edge.  Just a basic fold and fold again type hem will work. 
2. layer pieces as follows: 
fabric B, right side up
the two pocket panels, right sides facing each other, aligned with bottom of fabric B
fabric A, right side down
Pin along edges.

Should look like this, but lined up evenly on the edges:

3.  Sew around edge (I went a half inch from the edge), leaving a 4-5 inch gap for turning.  It helps to do a fix knot or some backstiching on either side of the gap. 
4. cut corners like this:
5.  Reach into fabric sandwich between fabrics A and B and flip right side out, being sure to poke out the corners.
6. Fold in/iron the fabric at the turning gap, and sew a line around edge of entire play mat, like this:

7.  Now you can add pocket separations if you'd like.  I made three sections to mine, marking with fabric chalk.  I used a heavy bar stitch to make them nice and secure.  

8.  Fold up along the edge of the  pocket into thirds- the last third should be smaller, and will create the flap for closing.  Now you can mark where you want your securing device to go- I used a button, but velcro or a snap would work just as well.   

8. (Optional)  I added some cars to the pockets on the city scene, but wanted something different for the opposite side.  I cut a bunch of shapes out of felt to create little village scenes.  The felt kind of 'sticks' to the fabric, making it a good option for the car.  Here's a scene my daughter made:

 That's it!  Lemme know if you try this out- I'd love to see your takes on it.  Enjoy these last few days before Christmas- time to start making merry in earnest! :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 Domesstic Family Christmas Card

Merry Christmas, friends and family!

Wishing you all the best this Christmas, and for your upcoming year to be healthy, happy, and full of the wonder of life.
It's a good time to remember those less fortunate- if you have the means, I'd like to encourage giving back, either by donating gifts (toys-for-tots, Lokahi tree (in Hawaii), and the Salvation Army are all good options), or by donating your time (caroling at a nursing home, making a sandwich or two for the homeless, offering assistance to someone to help deal with winter's 'gifts').  This site is a good resource for ideas on volunteering in your community:
It's so easy for our children to get washed away in the tide of Christmas consumerism.  Whether this day is Holy for you or not, I think we can all agree that the spirit of Christmas isn't something that can be bought from the store.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, 
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. 
It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. 
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. 
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

From our family, to yours, with Love and Aloha. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gettin' Messy

I feel I owe my fellow mommies an apology, as I have been doing you all a disservice.  I guess one of the advantages of having a blog is the ability to self-screen.  Is my living room messy?  Crop it out of the picture.  Did my kid(s) meltdown in the middle of the 'fun' picnic Thanksgiving on the beach?  You won't know if I don't tell you. (Did I just tell you?) It's so easy to make my life look like homemade gingerbread and sweetly singing husbands.  But the gingerbread cookies were originally gingerbread men- they fell apart, so turned into circles.  And the husband?  Well, ok, that part was legit.
What I'm trying to say is my life IS messy- I promise.  It's a big messy mashup of good intentions and half chewed banana- and you know what they say about good intentions.
Today, in fact, was messy.

Today is Monday.
Tomorrow is an Anatomy exam (for which I have not studied nearly enough), Wednesday is my Sociology Powerpoint due date (which I haven't finished), Thursday is my lab portion of the Anatomy exam (read above studying tactic), and Friday is my due-date for mailing the one-hundred sewn gifts to family for Christmas (wanna wager a guess on how many are done?) as well as my Sociology final exam.
Today is Monday, and this is my upcoming week.
Today I awoke to Asher screaming.  This is normal- he wakes up grumpy most every day.  We all go downstairs to get breakfast- but Asher is screaming so loudly that I get a headache, give up on cooking, and give the kids yogurt.  I hold him while he sips his yogurt pouch, and check my Facebook UH email.  He aims his pouch at the computer and squeezes.  Messy.
I set him down while I try to clean it up, and he screams.  He screams and grabs a block and hits his sister over the head with it.  They both cry, and I start my period.  Like, literally... (TMI, I know.  Oh well. )  Messy.
Asher screams and hits his way through breakfast, and we try to play for a bit before nap.  He takes a poo.  He gets Hulk-mad while I'm trying to change him and starts hitting and kicking and twisting.  Poo is everywhere.  I am begging my one year old to help mommy, he is screaming at me, and my daughter is telling me over and over that the dirty diaper is on the laundry.  The clean laundry.  It takes awhile for that to click in for me.  Messy.
It is FINALLY his naptime.  I put him to bed, and half crumple onto my bed, taking a moment to breathe.  I am still wearing (just) my robe, I'm not sure I've cleaned all the poo from my nails, and my head is pounding.  I just need a minute.  In comes Kenzie.  She jumps up on the bed and begins bouncing on her knees next to my head.  On top of my hair.  It's pulling my hair off my scalp and hurts like a mother and I've asked her to stop 3 times and I finally push her off.  Where she loses her balance at the side of the bed and falls backwards, head first.
Time stops.
I race to her, and, once assured that she's not paralyzed, I start crying.  Like "something snapped inside me" kind of crying.  And my little girl is patting me on the head, saying "it's ok Mommy.  It didn't hurt!  I'm ok!"  Which really didn't help the tears.  ...Messy.
I get myself under control and we go downstairs, where I immediately smell burnt metal.  The dishwasher, it turns out, is broken.  So during the one precious hour that my son is sleeping, instead of studying or power-pointing or sewing, I now have to wash the dishes, by hand.  At least the poo is now clean?
It's soon time to take my daughter to school, and Asher screams the way there.  Kenzie and I sing "The Wheels on the Bus" like mad women, but it doesn't help.  The kid is too far gone by this point.  Until we get to her class, where he is a smiling angel, saying "hi" with a big grin to every lovely lady who passes by.  "He's such a happy boy!" they all say.  Grumble grumble grumble.
But don't worry.  He's soon in the car again and screaming.

I try feeding him bites of quesadilla in between wails.  It's tricky to do this while driving, as his carseat is behind mine and rear-facing still. One particular stretch back there left me with a lap full of my own burrito.  It was hot and saucy.  And, yes, quite messy.
We get to the store, and he's still being a little butt.  The only thing that keeps him happy is pushing the cart.  But he WAILS if I stop it to grab an item I need, so I have to race around grabbing things and racing back to keep him from knocking the cart into every vulnerable ankle in the place.

We survive shopping.  We pick sissy up and scream and cry our way home, where I attempt to put Asher down for another nap.
After a few minutes I give in and go back upstairs to pick him up.
I can smell the poo from the door.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

fa la la la la

We've broken the seal to Christmas. No turning back now. The tree, the carols, the movies, the gingerbread. It's all so good. We are not a religious family, but Christmas is so magical, so sweet, so exciting. Even as an adult I get caught up in it. Thank you, dear Christian friends of mine, for letting me join in on your celebration.
We've baked our gingerbread cookies, and decorated our gingerbread houses. We've decorated our tree and listened to upteen Pandora Holiday mixes. (My faves? Glee Holiday mix, Amy Grant, and, of course, Michael Buble). We've dried apples, oranges and pears, and scented them with clove and peppermint for garlands. Our trolley tickets are bought and Holiday party arranged. And I've sewn and sewn and sewn, a sure sign in our house that the Holiday is near.

And, it's still November. :)

So, I invite you to share a bit of our Christmas spirit through these pictures. I have a special treat awaiting you at the end. My early Christmas present to you.

Best to be enjoyed with cocoa and fresh baked cookies.

One of the coolest things about Christmas is that nearly everyone who celebrates has a tree- but they vary so widely. I love going to friends homes this time of year, to see how they've displayed their tree, their ornaments- to see their tastes and what they find meaningful. (Have your tree up? Invite me over!)
Our tree is fake. (Although I LOVE real trees, it's a bit saddening to me to see the piles of pine carcasses by the refuse the days following Christmas.) It has little pine cones and berries and Asher is mad about it, pulling the berries off and running his little baby fingers through the branches. It's been hard to develop the "ooo-saaa" reaction to this, but we're working on it.
Our tree is also almost entirely handmade in decoration. What is not handmade has been given to us- there is only one ornament on it that I've bought, and it was a present to Mr. for our first married Christmas together.
I love the stories that are hanging on our tree.

Like the ornaments my grandmother made. There are quite a few, and now that I'm older, I cherish them more than ever. She gave us something she painted/sewed every year for Christmas, and I really miss that. And her.

There are ornaments given to us by some we hold dearest:

And beautiful ones made by friends:

And those that just make me laugh:

There are so many! The day that we put up the tree is a day that I look forward to all year, and I spend a good part of each evening while it's up looking at our tree.

Eww, what a sap.

And speaking of sickly sweet- here's this years gingerbread house. I think "MacKenzie" has gotten quite good ;)

I love her expression in this picture. I think she might have just been told she could actually eat a piece of the candy.

Now for YOUR treat.
While not a Christmas carol by any stretch of the imagination, the song Hallelujah is frequently listened to in our house, and evokes some serious emotions. I'd like to share Mr's version of the song. Be sure to listen to the end- I think it gets pretty spectacular.
Enjoy, and if you'd like to leave him some kind words (there's a comments section!) it could even result in further recordings in the future. It just takes a bit of cajoling.

See why I keep him around?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

gobble gobble gobble

Hello, and "Gobble gobble gobble" (as our family greets each other on this day). Happy Thanksgiving!
Our day is winding down- our tummies are full, our Christmas tree is up, the kids are tuckered out. So I thought I'd spend a few minutes with you guys.

This year, in light of no real group plans for the day (we are both really missing our non-nuclear families, I think), our family decided to volunteer. I made calls to arrange something, and kept hitting dead ends. They already had enough help, or we couldn't work with the baby, or they only needed monetary donations... essentially, no one wanted us! So we did our annual food bank donations and set about planning something last minute and low-key. Our good friends had a fun Hawaii Thanksgiving tradition of picnicking on the beach, and with this as our local beach park, how could we not?

In truth, I was kinda happy our plans changed. I love cooking, and it's not very often that we eat so many different dishes at a time. It being just the 3.25 of us, it was still a modest meal by Thanksgiving standards, but soooo yummy. I'm thankful for food!!

The menu this year:

Rosemary roast chicken (couldn't justify the turkey for just Mr.)
Roasted grapes with pecans and sunflower seeds
Savory sweet potato/apple bread pudding
Wilted greens with fried shallots, walnut, garlic, and pomegranate seeds
Roasted garlic on sweet bread
Sweet potato pie
Dark chocolate pecan pie

Um, yea.
It was fun creating the 'recipes' for these dishes, and everything turned out quite nicely. I tried to use a lot of stuff that we already had in the fridge to cut down on shopping- afterall, I'm nothing if not cheap ;)

The spread on our table. Couldn't have asked for a better beach day, either.

Have you ever roasted grapes? Do it!!

This pie is my favorite part of the holidays. Dark chocolate and real dark molasses make it so rich and different.

Cheers! Kenzie had her own bottle of sparkling cider and thought it was the best thing
ever ever ever.

After dinner we ran off some of our excess calories, playing in the field and along the shore. We really are so lucky to live here. It never gets old.
Trying for a family shot.

We took Santa to the beach! I love digging this quilt out on Thanksgiving each year. My oh-so-talented MIL made it for us. It's got Santa's booty on the back.

Kenzie got the bag of seeds as an after-dinner snack. Think she was happy about it?

Asher was just happy to roam around collecting trash. I swear, we can't take him anywhere.

Rocking her American Indian headdress and bathing suit...

While daddy and baby watched waves. Surf was up today our side! Perfect.

But it was getting a bit late,

And the little ones were tired, so we wrapped up our picnic and drove the five minutes back to our house. To eat and drink more while the babies sleep.

gobble gobble gobble