Thursday, December 18, 2008


I have so much to finish up, but I wanted to show you this..... it's the gift I made for the little one I watch, Cate. She loves all the "If You Give" books, and this is the newsest version. So I made a little kitty to go with it, wearing tropical shorts (he does in the book) and a cupcake. The Kitty and the cupcake fit into a little lunch pail, which actually would be better for another book in the series, If You Take A Mouse to School, but she'll still like it. I think I might also give her a cupcake recipe and a jar of sprinkles.

And just to procrastinate a little more, here are some of the finished oven mitts with a cookie cutter attached. That's how I plan on presenting them. They'll be going into my sisters' stockings so I'm not even going to wrap them. I made some cinnamon ornaments with each cutter first and will attach those to the mitt as well. I highly suggest making the cinnamon ornaments, they make your house smell soooooo good.

For the few things I need to package up, I whipped up these gift bags. I was looking at printed gift bags and even at $1.00 a piece I thought, that's too much. (Have I told you that I am extremely cheap about somethings?) So, I bought a pack of plain white ones, (10 for $4.00) cut some tree shapes out of sticky backed felt that I had on hand, had Ethan help me glue sequins onto some of them and stamped them with a "Merry Christmas" stamp I got at Michael's last year. Festive and super cheap!!

And this little cute thing, I just had to share.... it's a reindeer Ethan made in nursery school a few years ago. We reined him up to this Santa and sleigh that we received as a gift. I just think it's hysterical.

This past weekend we went away (kid free- yoo hoo!) to Aurora, NY. My parents rented a house (with servants!! yoohoo!) so we could all hang out, drink wine, be served dinner and celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Aurora is a totally adorable little town on Cayuga Lake (one of the Finger Lakes) and Mackenzie Childs is located there. We looked around the shop a little, and although everything is so fantastically cute, it was also so fantastically expensive!

Here is my hubby (sister and parents are in the background) leaving the grounds. We thought about staying for a factory tour, but Bloody Mary's at Fargo were calling us. (Did I mention we were kid free!!)

This was a cute tree decorated with chicken ornaments.... I almost bought one for my daughter because she made some chicken ornaments for her brothers for Christmas and I thought it would be ironic... but $18 was too much to pay for irony.

You can order tiles and sinks and knob there too.... if you can afford to outfit you home with it.

The displays were all so wonderful.

This little girl bed was so beautiful... and I don't even want to tell you what it cost (more than my husband's car). But, to be a good consumer, I did buy something.... this little cardboard house.

It goes with the little cardboard church I bought a few years ago and the sparkly tree candle that Ethan stared to peel this year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


How did it happen that Christmas is NEXT WEEK? And that my kids' last day of school before the holiday is this Friday?? It just dawned on me this morning that I still have to make the peanut brittle that I give to the teachers (along with a gift card to Target or Borders). I also still have, oh, 6 oven mitts to finish, a movie/babysitting/fundraising event to plan (takes place Saturday), the Christmas Pageant to get ready for (more costumes to finish, and some cardboard animals to paint- takes place Sunday) as well as regular old Christmas stuff to do...... so it may be a bit before I am back here.

In the meantime enjoy this picture of my kids...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Present Makin' (Part 3) and Buying!

I've slowed down a bit on the oven mitts... but finished one lat night, along with a set of cloth napkins! Now I only have,what, 6, to go?? Something like that.

And I just made my second Etsy purchase. I followed a link for one of your blogs to find the Etsy seller.... so thank you to who ever linked to Lynn. I am so excited! look at the gorgeous packaging!

And the necklace!! So beautiful. The necklace is for my mom for Christmas and the flowers represent her five daughters.

I have one question.... is it pronounced? ET-see or EET-see?? Anyone??

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Present Makin': Part 2

Now, just so you don't think I am biased and only make gifts for Jack, I made something for his baby brother Griffin too.
And in keeping with the name theme, here is the art work I made for my daughter's room. This is not a Christmas gift. I actually finished it up a few weeks ago but we have yet to hang it up on her wall. The A was bought from Anthropologie back in Feb. when we went to NYC. The L is just painted canvas. The E is a cardboard letter from Micheals that I covered with Starburst wrappers. The X (Alex's least favorite part) is a small solid cardboard letter from Micheals mounted on canvas that has a page from an old encyclopedia glued to it. The canvases are about 10" x 10", so this whole thing is pretty good sized.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Present makin'- Christmas Past version

Because I don't have anything new to show you yet, and because I did not have this blog last year at Christmas present makin' time, I am going to share what I made for gifts last year.

This is the little train bag and quilt set I made for Jack. (My little charge Cate was my toy tester.) Before he was a tractor freak he was a train freak. I bought the fabric with the train on it at the awesome fabric store that closed, and added the rest from my stash. The quilt flips over to a play mat. I got the train at Target in the dollar bin, and the tote was from Micheal's or Joann's.

Here's a close-up of his name on the bag. When Ethan saw the bag he wanted something special too... so I made him a "5" pillow. It's in the picture below behind Knuffle bunny... which I made for him for Christmas.

Here's Knuffle on Christmas morning.Knuffle Bunny is one of Ethan's favorite books. I searched high and low for a knuffle softie, but didn't like what I found... so I decided to try to make him one. He's made from a green sweater I found at the local thrift shop, some felt and a big white pom pom tail. I didn't use a pattern (do I ever? I'm far too lazy) so he's a little wonky... but Ethan loves him.
I also made for some fabric flower barrettes for Alex, a squid t-shirt for Hudson, a set of coasters for my friend Sue, artsy clutches (from Bend the Rules Sewing) for all my sisters and my mom, some rolo turtles for one brother-in-law. I helped the kiddos make ice candles for their grandmas.
This year, in addition to the toy barn and the oven mitts, I plan on making more rolo turtles (my BIL ate them all in about 5 minutes last year!) my peanut brittle that I make every year, a painted sign for my nephew Griffin, a little kitty with some accessories for Cate, a tag like this for my husband (it will be from Ethan) and some pj bottoms for Alex. I am also helping Alex make some chicken ornaments for her brothers to represent their real gift.
**If you need any ideas for Christmas crafting with little ones, head over to the Crafty Crow. Such cool ideas!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More Beards!

I know... 2 posts in one day!! (In one hour even!!) But I had to share this... Remember when I made some shepherd beards? Well, my friend Deborah found this awesome site!!! Check it out, its so hilarious! I am feeling a felt beard coming on.....

Christmas Present makin'

I asked my sister in law what my nephew Jack (who is three) would like for Christmas. He is known to be a tractor freak, but Maura said he had enough tractors. "Maybe a barn," she suggested. So the hunt began for a reasonably priced nice toy barn for Jack. I found a few nice (but pricey) wooden ones, and nearly ordered one, until I saw the shipping price was $18!! So I decided I could try to make him one.
I saw this tutorial and thought that it was just adorable, but didn't know if I'd have the time or the patience to make it. So I took the pattern but tweaked it.

Instead of using fabric, batting and something rigid inside, I made the whole thing out of stiff felt. I just cut out the pieces and sewed them together using a zig-zag stitch. The little fence is from the flower decor section of Joann's. I sewed it to the side of the barn with red thread with tiny stitches around the wire that is holding the slats together.

The hay bale on the inside is also a floral item. Its and actual real small straw bale, and to make it so that it doesn't shed it's straw all over I covered it with Mod-Podge.

I'm adding a tube of animals (I took them out of the tube for the pictures) to complete the set. I figured Jack could play with the little barn with his tractors too. Hope he likes it!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Real Deal Tag

OK... so Amber and Deborah both thought my last post would make a good tag. So you are both it! Here's the low down.... take a picture the way you would normally do to post on your blog, preferably crop it to showcase the subject. Then show us the "real deal"... the nitty gritty daily clutter that we sometimes try to avoid posting. Talk about the messes you cut out in the cropped picture. We'll still love you!!! Then tag at least two people and link back to your post. OK? Sound fun? Can't wait to be invited into everyone's real life.

And the winner (and only entrant) in the Most Apologize giveaway is Deborah.... quite embarrassing really (not that Deborah won- she's awesome, but that she was in the only one who commented) but since we are airing all of our real life-ness here, there you go.... Hello, my name is Sarah, and I write a blog that 2 people read.

Happy Thanksgiving! Off to my mother-in-laws!!! Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

This is Ethan caught slightly off guard just as he got home from school yesterday. They had celebrated their "feast" and he came home with a "pattern pouch" and a headdress. Cute picture.
But I cropped it.
It's amazing what I can crop out, and what slices of my world I can choose to show you in this little window of my life. This is the original picture, pre-cropping. I thought it would fun to show you the "real me", well at least my real kitchen as it looks every day without being "dressed" for pictures. I even included labels... so enjoy!
A: Our old step back cupboard. When we acquired this house (it was my great grandma's, then my great aunt's, then my parent's but my sister rented it from them, then mine, then my cousin rented it, and now we own it....phew!) this piece of furniture was in two pieces in two different rooms. Both pieces were painted white. The bottom piece had contact paper stuck all over the top of it. My MIL stripped it for us. She was concerned that the woods were different colors...but we love it. We keep 90% of our kitchen "stuff" here. According to this picture, 75% of it must be in the dishwasher at this moment.
B: A big ole bowl of Halloween candy. My kids are notorious for forgetting that they have candy in the house... Me? Not so forgetful.
C: The TV we watch most in the house. It will stop working in Feb 2009 unless we do something. We are old fashioned and we live under a rock.... no cable or satellite here. Oh, it's available- we just choose to go with out.
D: This little spot constitutes 33.3% of our total counter space in this kitchen.
E: Apples!! Justin is making applesauce for Thanksgiving as I type this.
F: Ethan's other Thanksgiving project... a place mat. He has been playing a combination chess/checkers game on it ever since he brought it home.
G: Cate's coat. Cate is one of the little ones I watch. We don't really have a great place to put coats so hers usually ends up on a chair. And speaking of chairs you may notice that we only have on either end of the table. The chairs that came with the table have all fallen apart. We bought two replacement chairs and use benches on the long sides of the table. Justin made one... one is an antique.
H: The never ending pile... do you have one of these? There is always crap lying around on the step back. Its so annoying. As you can see there is a dust mask lying there.... wtf?
So.... what do you think? I'm not really sure why I did that... but it was fun. I sometimes feel like we only show the good and polished pieces of ourselves out here in blog land. And why wouldn't we?? I am totally guilty of this. I know my life is a cluttered mess, but here in this little space I can pretend it's not. But after I cropped the picture (to show Ethan off better) and compared it to the original, I laughed and thought, gosh... look at all I cut out!! So much about who I really am. All the nitty gritty. The cluttered fridge, covered with pictures of my kids, and my nieces and nephews and friend's kids, and the notes that come home from school (the trees!!! the trees!!! think of the trees! good lord stop sending notes home!) the scrubbed up table, and the gross low ceiling and the dirty floor. But lots of living takes place here in our kitchen... so I am happy to have invited you here too!!!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shepherd Beards

My sister and I are in charge of the Christmas Pageant at church this year, and the one thing that the kids all seem to be excited about is wearing a beard. So I decided to try to whip some up. It was actually pretty easy and I think they turned out OK. So, if you have any shepherd's or wise men to costume this season and need a beard, here's how I did it.

Step 1: Wrap yarn around a piece of cardboard. My cardboard was about 9 x 12. To remove the yarn I had to bend the cardboard a bit. Slide the yarn off, keeping it in this shape as best as you can. Step 2: Run the yarn through your machine. This can be tricky, so go slow. I had to stop a few time and tuck the yarn back under my sewing foot... it kept wanting to ride over the top of it. This doesn't have to be perfect or beautiful, and uneven spaces between the yarn are OK.... you can fix that later.

Here's the yarn after it was sewn.

Step 3: Lay the yarn on the middle on a piece of elastic. My piece was about 30 inches long, which turned out to be too long, but you can trim and adjust later. (The elastic needs to fit around the front of the face, in front of the ears and up over the head.) Pin in place, scrunching the yarn together if needed to cover the elastic. Sew in place.

Step 4: Make a moustache. Wrap some additional yarn around your palm a few times to make a bow shape. Tie it in the middle with another piece of yarn. Then sew the ends of the "bow" onto the beard near either ends.

Step 5: Cut the loops that are end the ends of the beard. Adjust the elastic and sew it or tie it to fit your shepherd's head. Then you can trim the beard if needed. I found that the furry type of yarn looks better, but the thick stuff looks ok too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Turkey Day Decorations

A few years ago I went to a fantastic fabric store in downtown Rochester, which has since gone out of business. It was when I was just starting to do crafty/sewing "stuff"so in my naivete I didn't realize just how totally awesome the store was. Too bad, because I would have bought a lot more stuff! I did grab up some of these mattress springs, without a clue as to what I would do with them when I got home, but they looked fun.
Inspiration struck, and I made springy-turkey decorations, or as my friend Sue calls them "boingy things".

I traced each of my kids hands onto brown felt and then made a stuffed turkey out of it... sort of like what is happening over at Bella Dia, then sort of slid them onto the spring (the wire goes right through the body of the turkey). I love getting these out every year. My children seem to be growing up so quickly (don't you hate how that happens?) and this is a nice reminder of when they were smaller. The very first year I had these on display I had a bundle of wheat stalks inside each one. It looked pretty neat that way. Maybe I'll have to go get some more.

The next year I saw a great Thanksgiving banner at pottery barn kids (the link may not be the actual one as it was a few years ago and they don't make it any more- but it's close). Of course after looking at the gazillion dollar price tag, I thought, "Hey I can make that! And so I did. I think this is year three with the banner and year four with the boingy things.

I also made a funky-looking turkey table decoration. But since I don't have a nice table to put this on he gets hung on the door. (Don't you just love the little baby sock lying there? It belongs to the wee one who is sleeping in my lap right now.)
I love that the Thanksgiving decorations are somewhat sparse and simple- just like I think the holiday should be. OK, well, maybe not sparse... I do love a nice big Thanksgiving meal, but I like how Thanksgiving brings me back to what is really important... the small stuff, right? (I wrote the post in the link in 2006)

And speaking of small stuff, check this out....

our hen's very first egg!!! Discovered last night by a very excited 11 year old! Oh- and don't forget to leave me a comment, any comment, just say "Hi" and you'll be entered into my making amends drawing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Must Apologize.....

The other day I wrote something about no one reading this blog and then Deborah said, "Hey I read it!" So I need to apologize to Deborah... an to any one else who happens to stop by here. Sorry! In fact, why don't I give something away to mend fences. Leave a comment on this post by Wednesday November 26th 11:59pm EST and I'll choose a winner at random and send you something. Maybe an oven mitt? Or a kiddy tote bag? Winners choice.

There, that's better.
(P.S. The picture has nothing to do with anything... my daughter drew it a few years ago and I really like it...and there is part of a pumpkin in the foreground that makes me think of fall.)

Monday, November 17, 2008


The 1st graders in my children's school do a project called "Gorgeous Gobblers" every November. They bring home an outline of a turkey on white card stock with instructions to decorate him in any many and with any medium they choose. And the family can help! This is the turkey Hudson (and I) made back when he was in 1st grade. Every November since his creation he hangs on a wall or a door to help us usher in Thanksgiving Day.

And this is the one Ethan made last night. I just provided the materials and cut out a few felt feathers and get did the rest. I love it! It has to go back to school to be hung in the hall with all the other Gorgeous Gobblers, but he'll be part of our permanent Thanksgiving collection soon as well.
I feel a little guilty because I didn't save the one Alex made, and it would be so cool to have all three displayed together... but Alex used cereal to decorate hers, so it deteriorated. Too bad. I wish I had had the for thought to at least photograph it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Some crafting (warning: bad photos ahead)

My Kansas friend Deborah, mama of three, saw over on my family blog the tooth fairy pillow I made for Ethan last Christmas. (I made one or Hudson too.) She said how cute it was and that her son Aidan would be starting to lose some teeth soon... and that's about all I needed to make her kiddos their very own pillows. I know it will be a while before little Ella can use hers, but it was fun to make. I snapped some quick photos before I mailed them off. The pictures are terrible, sorry.
For her boys I added little sculpy initial charms so that they could tell them apart. Of course when Ethan saw the charms he wanted his own.

I am starting to do a little Christmas crafting, and because I am nearly positive that no one who I plan on giving a gift to reads this blog (or for that matter, anyone at all reads this blog, except maybe Amber...hi Amber!) I am going to talk a little bit about what I have been doing. I found a great tutorial for oven mitts over at Skip to My Lou. And because I figure that everyone can use a new oven mitt, I plan on making them for all my sisters, my SIL, MIL, my mom and a few friends. That's like 10 mitts. My first one, on the far left in the photo below, looked great, but I'm glad I decided to try it out before I made more... it wasn't heat resistant enough. So I went back to Joann's and got some thin batting to sandwich between the lining material and the insul-bright. Works much better! But because there is added thickness now I needed to use a thicker binding. On the one in the middle I tried some brown knit I had left over from Halloween costume making. It worked OK. It feels really soft, so I guess that makes up for the less than great sewing. The red one is my favorite so far. The material is vintage that I found at the thrift store. I have used it before in a bag I made for a friend's daughter. One of my sisters has red accents in her kitchen and I just think it will look great in there.

This one is a work in progress. One of my sisters has chickens. In fact, she gave us our first two chickens. I need a little bit of black or red for the binding to finish it up. That would make 3 that I can give away... only 7 to go!

Oh, and I made one other change to Skip tp My Lou's tutorial (besides adding the batting).. I use Amy Karol's "sew then cut" rule. It is seroiusly the best tip I have gleaned from her incredible book. (If you don't know what this is, I'll explain: instead of cutting out the mitt shapes and then sewing them together, I place the two quilted rectangles right side facing together, trace the mitt pattern onto it, sew on the pattern line and then cut it out all at once.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I'm Back

I'm still feeling pained by the loss of Fahris. Her funeral was this Sunday and gosh, it was a toughie. I just cannot imagine losing one of my children. No matter how crazy they make me, I will try to be grateful for those moments... all those normal, everyday regular moments because I am lucky to have them. Thank you Deborah and Amber for your kind words.

Here are the Halloween costumes from this year.... Ethan was a pirate skeleton. We re-used parts of Hudson's pirate costume form a few years ago and added the skeleton parts. On Halloween morning I realized that he had no skeleton shirt to wear so I whipped out the freezer paper and stenciled him up nice set of rib bones.

Hudson was a beast, re-using the beast parts I made for my Dad to use for a church talent show. I made him some fuzzy pants, a tattered shirt and we added a dollar mask from Walmart.

Alex was Velma Kelly (from Chicago). I made her a little flapper dress (man- fringe is pain) and a garter, added fishnet stockings, a wig and my mom's ancient rabbit fur coat. Oh, and she's wearing my shoes. They were probably small on her.
So, that was Halloween 2008. We had a busy day... the elementary school had their traditional costume parade, then we ran home so Alex could get dressed, ran over to our Church trunk-or-treat event, then out trick-or-treating, and finally took Alex to a party.
And just so don't forget...go vote! Here is Ethan's pick...