Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Cards 2010

My computer has been giving me trouble lately, so my computer-nerd hubby is going to reinstall Windows soon. I figured I'd better blog one last time before he does that since I may or may not have access to my photos any time soon if he doesn't get it all worked out right away (I know, all you Mac lovers out there never have problems like this. Rub it in.). I need to finish making our Christmas cards tonight so I can mail them out tomorrow for our family out of state. Because I LOVE Stampin' Up's medallion stamp so much, I had to use it for our cards!

I found this card idea/color combo while Googling images of the medallion stamp. I used Versamark to stamp the design and then used white embossing powder to make it stand out. It kind of looks like a snowflake, I think. Now, if only we'd get some more snow and have a white Christmas this year! Fingers crossed! I finally finished my shopping yesterday. Are you ready for your holiday festivities?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Alex!

Alex turned 26 today. He likes to keep birthday festivities low-key, but I can't help but try to make the day special doing things that the birthday boy likes because I think birthdays are time for celebration and fun. I asked him what he wanted to eat for birthday dinner and dessert since that was always a tradition in my family when I was growing up. He wanted a chicken dish that his mom makes, so we made plans to have dinner with his family and my mom came, too (dad had to work). Last week, the big stinker guessed that I was going to have his car windows tinted (which he's been dying for!), but he has to wait until Monday to have it done. How the heck he guessed that with no clues is beyond me; I hadn't said a word about it!

Here are a few pictures to remember the day (Sky was being so cute today, as usual, and he was pretending to be a dog, in the last picture):

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weekend Recap

Some friends of ours got engaged yesterday, so to celebrate we went to a Japanese hibachi grill in Richmond called Koto. The last and only time I've ever been to a hibachi was in high school. Both experiences were great! The chef was oh so entertaining and had lots of fancy cutlery skills to impress us with and there was enough food that we ate the leftovers for lunch on Sunday. Considering what a meal cost, it was a very good thing that we each got two meals out of it (and it helps that I have a smaller appetite than Alex. Otherwise there wouldn't have been any leftovers). Since we happened to wear coordinating outfits, it was the perfect photo op:

Sunday has been a lazy day of sorts. I finally put the finishing touches on my niece's Christmas present so that it can be wrapped and sent in the mail tomorrow. I also decided to whip up some more decorations for our house. A few Christmases ago, I received two hurricanes and had lost them for over a year after our move. While digging around in the attic looking for toys for Sky, I finally found the missing box! I dug out the hurricanes and added extra Christmas balls that I got at Kmart two years ago.

They now reside on our tv table to camouflage the surround sound speakers:

As an end to a relaxing weekend, the snow practically hasn't stopped falling all day and it's so peaceful outside. Maybe we'll actually get a white Christmas this year! Oh, I sure hope so!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Homemade Christmas Part 4

Today is the last part of the Homemade Christmas "mini-series". You survived! ;) This last gift was probably the most fun to make because what started as a simple ruffled skirt for my five-year old niece ended up as a skirt with a cute bow and a matching hair clip and purse. Of course, I can't take all the credit, because a friend gave me a LOT of supplies, made the rosette for the hair clip and suggested that I make a purse. Two really are better than one. I love it when a second person can add to ideas that you already have and then the end result becomes way better than you originally imagined. I hope Caitlin enjoys her new flirty skirt and accessories! And, I must add, that I reeeeeeeally wanted to ask Alex to model the hair clip and purse for your entertainment pleasure, but I just didn't have the guts to subject him to that. What a great photo that would have been for some Christmas cards! :)

Hair clip:

And because every girl needs a matching purse:

I'm getting more in the Christmas spirit with each passing day. Christmas will be here before we know it! Now I have to make and mail cards, mail gifts and wrap presents!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Homemade Christmas Part 3

Welcome back! I can't believe that the year is almost over! Why does time go by faster and faster the older you get? I'm not so sure that I like it...

Before I show you my next sewing project, I have a confession to make. I'm not entirely in the Christmas spirit. There. I said it. Don't throw things at me! I've decided that I really don't like Christmas music unless it's instrumental only. Well, I'll make an exception for certain classic songs, but don't give me any of the stuff by Brittney Spears or anything like that. My halls aren't decked with holly and I don't turn on my tree lights in order to save electricity (Alex has always been the tree light Nazi. He wants them on all. the. time.). I haven't even baked the first batch of Christmas cookies or candy and I really don't want to. In fact, I'm craving Sour Patch Kids instead. But, despite my lack of traditional Christmas spirit, I am really in the giving mood. It's been fun to try and find the perfect gifts to give loved ones. I've so deeply enjoyed sewing these gifts for the kids and learning more about sewing that I want to do it all year long. I especially want to keep making stuffed animals like the ones that I made for our youngest nieces. Remember the lion and the cat stuffed animals? Well, I wanted to try my hand at another animal, so I made little Kalei a bunny rabbit. This is the first animal that I've made entirely on my own, but I did have guidance from a friend when I appliqu├ęd the face. The zig-zag stitch is very scary, if you ask me!

The face and inside of the ears is soft, fuzzy fabric perfect for cuddling up with. I hope Kalei enjoys playing or snuggling with this little friend!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Homemade Christmas Part 2

My second Christmas project was a tool belt for our nephew, Sky. He is quite the little handy man, even at 5 years old! I came up with the pattern on my own and put it together with a little experimentation. The main fabric (red) is heavy weight canvas from JoAnn's and the striped fabric was leftover from the play tent that I made for his birthday. It is actually a piece from the top of one of the bed sheets that I chose it because of the horizontal stripe detail and the finished edges, which meant less hemming for me! I also had some blue ribbon leftover from the tent as well, which were perfect for the ties. Here's how it turned out:

I'd like to get his name monogrammed across the top in the middle of the horizontal stripes to finish it off. My mom is looking for some kid-sized real tools to accompany this gift for Christmas. I hope Sky likes it!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Homemade Christmas Part 1

As I've said before, I'm making gifts for our nieces and nephew for Christmas this year. By the end of my vacation (Why does it have to end!? Back to work tomorrow...), I had finished gifts for all the kids. I thought I'd show you one gift a day for the next few days so as not to overwhelm you with pictures all at once (and it's motivation for me to blog more!). The first gift I finished was a tote bag for my oldest niece, Ashley. She's only 7, but she picked out the pattern and, as it turns out, the bag is as big as she is! I hope she likes it and can use it for many years to come!

Pleated front

Button detail

Inside (I couldn't find the right shade or brown, pink, or turquoise to line it with, so I went with boring white)

Here's the pattern I used, on sale at Hobby Lobby for .99 cents! Sure beats Wal-Mart's price of $8 or $9!

Stay tuned to more sewing projects throughout the rest of the week!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Quit Apologizing Already

I remember telling my mom once that it seemed like the house got cleaned faster and better when company was coming and that maybe we should have people over more often so that the house would stay clean. No only was that statement true about my parents' house, but now it's true of my house. I've spend the last six days of my "staycation" doing nothing productive around the house (I've been told that's what vacation is for, but I'm not so sure). In fact, it has become even messier since I started painting the trim and windows in our family room.

Today I had a friend coming over with her two young children. I had spent several hours at another friend's house earlier in the day working on a sewing project and got home just before my other company was due to arrive. In a frenzy, I loaded up the dishwasher, washed a few remaining dishes, swept the floor in the living room, cleaned half the junk off the kitchen island, wiped down the dining room table and kitchen countertops, put misplaced shoes in our bedroom and put a load of clothes in the dryer all in about 30 minutes. I did't want her baby crawling around on a floor covered in wood shavings from the fireplace or something like that.

I swear, I'm so much more productive if I break up the cleaning into short increments like that. On our first Christmas as a married couple, Alex and I came back to our apartment after spending the day with family and instituted our "30-minute clean-ups" because wrapping paper, boxes and bags littered our living room. Usually, we got on a roll and the "clean-ups" ended up lasting an hour or more, but by the end, the whole house was cleaned and we felt quite good about ourselves and our home.

Why do we feel that our homes must be perfect when others come over and stress out over every last speck of dust? If we are transparent with our friends and accept them for who they are and not for how organized their homes are, then why do we think that they will judge us if there are dishes in our sink? My friends and I are always apologizing to each other for things being out of place, for toys being on the floor, for last night's dinner plates still being on the counter, for laundry laying on the couch waiting to be folded, but there's no point to it. I don't think any less of them for these things and I know they don't judge me either, but we still stress out needlessly. Maybe it's because we subconsciously find some of our worth as women, as housekeepers, wives, mothers, in how we maintain our homes. We are our own worst critics. I don't know why we're like that, but I do know that I really don't want to be this way anymore. Please take me as I am; accept me despite the fact that there will always be dishes in the sink (dishes are technically Alex's job anyway ;), there will be dog fur floating around somewhere no matter how many times I've swept. I'll try to stop apologizing when my house isn't perfectly clean and I promise not to judge you either. Care to join me and let go of the insecurity and self-criticism?