Tuesday, December 18

my kind of cookies

A couple weeks ago, I invited our neighbor over to do something crafty or food related with the kids and I.  She loves to bake with kids, and we just hadn't had the chance to make that happen!  We picked the day, and she wondered if we'd want to make sugar cookies and that she'd make the dough...  I immediately agreed that we would, since me and sugar cookie dough don't mix.  I don't ever plan ahead enough time to let the dough refridgerate, or maybe I'm just too impatient to get the show on the road.  So I never make them.  She volunteered to make the dough and bring it over all ready with her when she came. 

The day arrived, and our dear neighbor showed up on our doorstep with cookie cutters and dough in had, but was feeling too sick to stay.  Sad!  But this mama was so thankful to be able to jump right into a fun activity with the kids (while the littles were napping.)  We rolled and we cut and we baked those yummy cookies right up.  Then the next day all of the kids, littles included, got to frost and sprinkle to their heart's content.

It was Gabi and Levi's first cookie decorating experience.  I'd say they liked it.  And I liked this sugar cookie dough being delivered to my front porch business as well. 

I'm linked up today! Go to Chatting at the Sky's Tuesdays Unwrapped: HERE.

Saturday, December 15

Happy 1/2 Birthday!

Emmalie Claire is 6 months old today. 
Half a year has gone by already!!  She is a darling little sweetie who makes us all melt. 
Here's what she's been up to:
started eating some solids in the last week
rolls well from tummy to back
occasionally rolls back to tummy
chews on everything!
giggles the most adorable giggle
howls when she's unhappy
blows bubbles and raspberries
squeals with delight when someone plays with her
started sleeping through the night again, after a 3 month hiatus (thank you, Jesus!)
Oh, we are so thankful for our baby Emmy. 
Redemption is here. 

Wednesday, December 12

o felt Christmas tree, o felt Christmas tree...

We were gifted this fun felt tree and ornaments last week, and the toddler crowd has been having a blast with it!  A sweet friend of ours made it for us - we have nothing like it, and it adheres to the wall with velcro command strips which come right off the wall when we're done for the season. 
Finally, ornaments Gabi and Levi can take on and off all they want! 


Tuesday, December 11

Christmas on my couch



For the last couple of Christmases, I've had the notion to make festive pillow covers for our couches.  But having the notion doesn't always, and in my case of late, rarely equals the follow through.   But I decided it was time to pull out the sewing machine again for the first time since last winter or spring. 

I love to sew, but having the time or energy just hasn't been a reality for the last several months. 

Our normal couch pillows were in sad disrepair, so I decided to just buy new pillow forms (18 x 18 in.) on sale and craft Christmas covers, then make new all-year round covers after the holidays. 

They are so simple to make.  If you can sew in line for 18 - 20 in. straight, you're golden. 

I use the pocket method, with two pieces that overlap on the back side so you can slip the pillow in and out with no tricky zippers or buttons to install.  I'm all about ease, while having a finished product that still looks professional. 

I don't use a pattern, but here's what I do:

  1. To make four - 18 in. pillows, I bought 3/4 yd. of 4 different fabrics.  (the pillow backs each have a different fabric, because I like to mix things up)  If you are wanting to make four pillows all the same on the front and back, you'd need 3 yards of one fabric.  Hooray for 50 - 60% off sales! 
  2. To cut the fabric to size, I get really scientific here, and lay my pillow form on a corner of one piece of fabric (keep it folded in half, so you are cutting two at once) smoosh your pillow form (or current couch pillows) down and cut around it leaving a 1 in. border.  I place it on the corner, so I don't have to cut as much, and I can be sure that at least two sides will end up straight!
  3. Then you can use one of the squares you've cut as your pattern for the rest of the pillow fronts.
  4. Now, don't let the overlapping back scare you.  You'll need to cut an oblong piece that is the same height as one of your new pattern pieces so that you can cut them apart later and still have them match up into a square.  Cut the oblong piece into two pieces,  don't worry about them being even.  In fact, I like mine to be off set a bit.  It doesn't matter at all how much you have them overlap, but I generally made them overlap by 4 inches or so. 
  5. The first step in sewing is to sew the seams on one of the longer sides of the two overlapping pieces.  Fold the edge over 1 cm, and iron all the way down.  Then fold and iron a second time folding your newly ironed seam over again.  Then sew straight across the ironed seam.  Complete this step on all overlapping pieces. 
  6. See?  These are really easy.  Now you'll sew one more time and you're done with a pillow! 
  7. Lay one of your front pieces down right side up, then overlap your ironed/sewn overlap pieces right side down, making sure all edges line up with your front piece, pin together and sew around the square with a 3/4 in. seam allowance. 
  8. Turn the new cover right side out and try it on your pillow form.  If it needs to be tightened up a bit, flip it back inside out, and sew another seam all the way around a bit inside your last seam.  (I had to do this on one of my pillows... and it worked great!) 
  9. Continue these steps with the remaining pillows.  As you will see in the pictures, I also made two 12 in. pillows.  They're so cute and small!  (You'll a need a bit of extra fabric to make those.) 
I apologize if the directions are not clear.  Feel free to email me if you need help!  I was going to take pictures and make an official tutorial as I went along, but my time was fleeting as I finished these during one of Emmalie's naps last weekend.  Let me know if you give it a whirl, I'd love to see your finished product! 

Happy Sewing. 

Monday, December 10

tiny dancer - visitor's week

She loves to dance! 
This last week, Jeremy and I got to go on a "date" of sorts to go watch Annie's class during Visitor's Week while the rest of the kids were hanging out at a friend's home.  We got to sit inside the studio and watch the whole class, what a treat!  Annie is just adorable in class, and loves every second of ballet class. 

Wednesday, December 5

oh, just some favorites

Here's Em and I this late afternoon blogging... I was adding photos to this post and didn't realize you can add a photo directly from your webcam when uploading photos to blog posts! 
Ever so often, I get in the mood to share some of my current favorite products with you.  Today is that day - and no, I didn't receive any compensation for mentioning these products, but one could dream! 

First up, are these two beauties.  I am so excited about the Primary Arts of Language Reading (pictured above) and Writing (below) curriculums from Institute for Excellence in Writing. 
I LOVE this program.  I am currently working through this with Morgan, my 2nd grader.  I have never used anything quite like it, and it is filling a need that we have.  It is so much more than is pictured here... If you're looking for something to use with your K - 2nd grader for Language Arts (reading & writing), I'd highly recommend this program.  Morgan and I both look forward to our time together working on Language Arts.  And I'm thinking the next four up and comers will be PAL kids too. 
It would take me ages to explain the ins and outs of these programs, that are best used in conjunction.  We've finished about 1/3 of the year's work, and are happy to report that Morgan is soaring in places she previously struggled.  Hip, hip hooray for IEW's Primary Arts of Language!

Read a full review of both portions HERE
And now on to the more shallow...  I am not constant when it comes to makeup.  I use different brands and products all of the time.  I fear there is always something better out there, so I don't use the same product/color more than once very often.  But I love this mascara.  It is definitely worth a repeat purchase.  I like the flexible wand and it goes on great. 

Each winter, my skin gets crazy dry.  Our climate is cold and dry, and static is king.  On a rare trip to the mall, I was on a mission to buy the Vitamin E moisture cream I used to use on my face, when I discovered that The Body Shop now offers this intense cream version... it is thick, smells yummy, and keeps my face moisturized all day.  It's divine. 

And lastly,  I picked up this Scentsy plug-in warmer at an adoption fundraiser for some friends a couple weekends ago along with some delicious smelling wax melts... I have it plugged in my kitchen - I love the glow of the night light, the great scent, and the pop of red color it adds.  One of these would make a fun Christmas gift for someone on your list! 
I'm signing off...  the kids are going crazy... the baby is crying, and dinner is needing to be made!

The Homeschool Village
Tuesday, December 4

if only it were that easy

If it were just Jeremy and I, and we had no children, this photo would mostly likely be made into our Christmas photo card for the year.  Oh, how easy and carefree it is for two adults to look at the camera and smile even when the temperature is nearing zero degrees.  Our dear friend took just eight pictures of the two of us, and there are several good ones. 
Contrast that with the sixty-eight she had to take of our whole family on this freezing cold day resulting in maybe two that will work.  It is soooo difficult to get seven kids and babies to all look at the camera and maybe, just maybe look pleasant too. 
There are so many hilarious outtakes.  Wanna see one? 

Did I mention it was COLD?
This picture could have worked.  Emmalie wasn't even crying.  That was no small miracle since we took her out of her carseat where she was sleeping just minutes earlier.  7 out of the 9 of us are looking at the camera and have a semi-pleasant expression.  Another miracle. 
 But it seems as if a rare arctic monkey had taken up residence in a nearby birch tree and Levi and Morgan are clearly distracted by him.  Sigh.  This was one of my favorites of everyone else. 
I am not well-trained in super imposing heads off of another photo to magically turn them into smiling and looking versions of themselves.  I wish I was.   
So if you're on our mailing list, just know that the card that reaches your mailbox is a miracle in and of itself.  I just thought you should know.  But I press on through monkey-in-trees spying children, sour expressions, blinks, the no-look, and screaming babies because I love, love, love sending out an updated picture each year.  And I'm one determined woman. 
 This just in:  I just was informed that the monkey-lookers were indeed looking at a magpie. 

It's tradition.

There is a long-standing tradition in our family.
A new family member arrives on the scene, and you can guarantee that a few weeks before their first Christmas they will be gifted with a handmade stocking crafted with love by Grandma Marla Kay!
I received my stocking as a young teenager and Jeremy received his back in 1999 as we celebrated our first Christmas together as a married couple. 
We've kept our dear Grandma busy, I must say, with all of this sewing of stockings business...  over this last weekend, we were gifted once again when Emmalie received her anticipated stocking delivery.  We are so blessed by this each and every year as we unpack our Christmas boxes and receive again some handmade love.  Thank you!!!! 

Saturday, December 1

adding some twinkle

The house is ready for Christmas.

A few years ago, we started the tradition of starting at lunchtime with a buffet of simple, yet yummy foods that are considered treats to us and continue to graze on the fun food and drinks through dinnertime until the day is done and the house is decorated. 

I've been learning about letting go of my ideals and plan for the house at Christmastime.  Decorating the house for Christmas is one area that has always been my domain and I've always wanted it to look just perfect.  Simple, but perfect.  This year, I was challenged to let go of my ideals, and let the kids and Jeremy share their ideas and implement them.   

The kids decorated the tree by themselves this year.  And it looks beautiful. 

We hung the stockings which we have now run out of hooks for, got out the nativity sets, and strung some greenery garlands around and about. 

The Little People nativity sits under the tree for our own little people to play with.  The Playmobil nativity sits on my desk downstairs for the bigger kids to play with.  And the Willow Tree Nativity sits up on top of a bookshelf, begging for more pieces to be added to it.  I look forward to getting it out each year.

It was 2 year old Gabrielle's turn to put the star on top of the tree this year!  It was her first time.  She now affectionately calls it, "my star."  Drew is counting down the years until it's his turn again.  He'll be 15 when his turn comes around again after Levi and Emmalie get their turns.  Sorry, bud. 

This is Gabi's third Christmas home with us!  What a whirlwind these last couple years have been.  

Celebrating the birth of Christ during Christmastime  is one of my favorite things to do.  It is always a sweet time of loving God through our actions as a family, rejoicing at the birth of our Savior that came to earth as a baby, and taking part in traditions that bind us closer together as a family.