Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Finished!

Oh, joy! This project has been on-again, off-again since May and I've finally given it to the recipients this past weekend. I also just finished it less than a week ago and couldn't wait to share.

I know that the girl in this pair loves blue and so do I, so finding fabric was very easy. In the beginning...

However, through trial and error, I found that I needed MORE blue fabric since I ran out. Fortunately, my trusty fabric store had a few of the patterns I already used still in stock. I made it work. You could never tell.

Thank you to everyone who inspired me to make this thing (example 1, example 2, example 3).
Thank you to all of those online tutorials and how-tos that gave me the courage to even try. Wow, this is starting to sound like an award-winning speech. So, on that note, I'll end with saying:

Stay on the path...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Favorite Friday - Etsy Pick

One thing I love about shopping for the holidays is searching online for great handmade gifts - mostly on I have been combing Etsy's vendors and wares for the perfect gifts for a lot of people and stumbled across this perfectly LOVELY shop:FreshlySkweezed.

Deb, who I am pretty sure is a glitter-lover and paperphile, runs this lovely shop and offers very cute, three-dimensional monogrammed notecards (among other printed items). She also seems like a very sweet gal, so check out her shop this weekend. If you order before December 15th, your items should arrive in time for Christmas!

Stay on the path...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Felt Hair Barrettes - A Tutorial

Christmas is definitely upon us - only 15 days away! I, like most of you, have been way too busy with a pile of to-dos for this holiday. A scarflet to knit, a quilt to finish and MANY other items to bake, sew, knit, draw and stamp. Many apologies for not posting for almost a month!

I wanted to share with everyone a quick tutorial for a very fun and pretty stocking-stuffer: Felt Hair Barrettes. They are really very easy and very fun to make and since I love free guides and tutorials, I am posting this in the hopes that it might inspire.

Step 1: Supplies

There aren't very many supplies that you will need in order to make one of these barrettes - but it is very easy to build upon those supplies to create a wide variety of styles. The basics are: Felt squares (real wool or synthetic. I find that the synthetic goes through the punch machine easier), a glue gun, snap barrettes in varying sizes, decorative or plain buttons (1/2" or smaller), craft punch machine (I used a Sizzix - or you may cut our your decorations by hand), ribbon (5/8" width for the regular sized snaps and 3/8" width for the mini snaps), Fray Check, and a needle and thread.

Step 2: Cutting the Felt

If you have a punch machine, this makes cutting the shapes much easier and faster. But don't let that stop you! If you only need to make a few barrettes, just cut out the felt in simple shapes in varying sizes.

I used the Sizzix Sidekick machine with Cricut punches! I used the round flower cutouts in varying sizes in order to make the layers in my barrettes. Cut the felt down to the size of the punch (see picture) and run through the machine. Cut out enough sizes to make a few layers for the flower.

Step 3: Cutting the Ribbon

Okay, so now I have a nice assortment of flower shapes cut out and I want to choose a color scheme. I think I'm going to go with the pink and brown to match this pink and brown ribbon. I am going to use a mini-snap clip for this tutorial but will provide additional measurements for a regular snap clip as well.

Using the 3/8" wide ribbon (5/8" for the regular snap clip), cut approximately 3 " (approx. 4.5" for a regular snap clip) to cover your mini snap clip. Seal each end with Fray Check and set aside to dry.

Step 4: Assembling the Flower

While your ribbon sections are drying, heat up your glue gun and put together some layers of cut out felt to see how they look (this is important to do before you glue!). I am going to do a small brown flower on top of a larger pink flower. Just one dot of glue will hold, any more and the felt will be too saturated. I top off my flower with a little white silk flower, but you may also top yours off with a small button. If that is the case, sew the button on to the top (smallest) flower FIRST before gluing it to the larger flower.

Step 5: Assembling the Barrette

Okay, my flower is glued and ready (see it up there in the top left corner?) and I've set it aside to dry. Now, back to the ribbon we sealed with our Fray Check. It should be dry by now so take your glue gun and put a dot of glue on one end of the ribbon. Lay the top edge of the clip onto the glue, leaving about 1/4" of ribbon to fold over. Immediately fold over the tip of the ribbon onto the other side of the clip (see top clip already glued), using the additional glue from your initial dot to seal the sides. I only suggest using one dot of glue for each end so the barrette will not be oozing with glue out the side of the ribbon!

Now, on the end of your clip where the three holes are, place a small dot of glue and bring your ribbon along the top of the clip, pushing it into the glue and guiding the ribbon along to the underside, pushing it into the glue on the other side (your glue should have come through the three holes to give you adhesive on both sides). Please be sure to guide your ribbon into the curve of the clip before you guide it into the glue on the other end so that you will leave enough room for the clip to close once you've lined it with ribbon.

CAUTION: You do not want much glue on this end of the clip. If there is too much glue on the end of the clip where it snaps, the glue will act as a block to the clip and your barrette will not close or will not hold very well.

Finally, put a dot of glue about 1/8" away from the end and fold it over the bottom tip of the clip and seal the folded edges.

Okay, this is what your clip should look like. NOTE: there is no glue on the top middle or bottom middle portions. This allows the clip to close and open easily. Test your clip!

Step 6: Finishing

Glue your flower onto the back end of the barrette, leaving the two tips of the barrette open (see photo).

You are finished! Congratulations on your first felt hair barrette. Now go make some more!

Stay on the path.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

CMP: Holiday Gift Guide

Have you ever visited a website called Cool Mom Picks? I'm sure most of you have, but if not, please buzz on over there for some great tips and wonderful giveaways. I even won a custom onesie from one of their featured stores for Ava when she was born. Fun!

Now CMP has a holiday gift guide with some featured online stores that you can find in my sidebar. Visit the guide, download the buttons and place them on your blog. When you email CMP your blog website and they see the buttons, you will be placed in a drawing for 2, yes 2 $250 gift certificates from each store at the end of the year.

Ya can't beat that. So get on over to CMP and have some click-y fun today.

Stay on the path...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mid-Week Lift

This one gets me every time especially during the credits when the alarm goes off. Enjoy.

Stay on the path.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Duce, or Maybe Three Times Over

I just can't seem to keep up with my posts these days. As the holidays approach (evidenced by Christmas music and holiday decorations in the stores ALREADY), I find that many, many things get away from me all too quickly. I am trying my best to live in the moment as my sweet, baby Ava took her first walk to the kitchen this morning. She has been taking steps here and there but just wandered off in her drunken sailor march all the way from the living room to the kitchen glass door to watch the birds outside. Sigh.

I have also decided to try more cookie recipes from my Cookie Cookbook from the Amana Church Society Guild cookbook given to me by Anne Marie.

This is a spiral bound book full of nothing but cookie recipes. I only have a few absolute favorites and I want to expand my repertoire. Experimentation has its high price: cookie consumption.

Right now, these are my absolute favorite cookies out of this book (and they ARE NOT chocolate - gasp!). Perfect with a hot cuppa tea or just shoving into your mouth when you really opened the fridge to get out the milk...

Duce Cookies
Christmas Cookie Walk Collection - Amana Church Society
Contributed by Tina Prusha

1 cup butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 T granulated sugar
4 oz finely chopped nuts
Jam (I prefer orange marmalade but the strawberry preserves were great too)
Confectioners sugar

Mix together butter, flour, granulated sugar and nuts. Roll on floured board to 1/4-inch thickness. Use small round cookie cutter (I used a 1.25" for smaller cookies) to cut the dough. Bake at 250 to 325 (I used 300 but ovens may vary) for approx. 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned (I just baked until they set) but not too brown. Cool and spread favorite jam between two cookies to make a sandwich. Roll in confectioners sugar. Try to avoid eating them as you finish rolling them.

Okay, so on the healthy side of things, I have recently been going back to Japanese green sencha tea and to make it more official, I've finally gotten my teapot and tea cups I scored in Nagoya off of my shelf and washed them out.

Green tea tastes SO much better in this stuff.

After frogging this sweater start THREE times, I have finally come up with a combination of needles and cast-on amount that I think will finally work. It is supposed to be a sweater for Chandler and I hope to get it done before the cold weather is over! After that, I'm on to a sweater for Ava and possibly a hat for myself, socks for my husband. And maybe a hand massage...

Stay on the path!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Tis' the season for time to fly. After my last post, I headed out for an out of town business trip, an out of town concert (and to see a family member in that concert) and then finally unpacking (although my suitcase is still in the upstairs hallway) and some crafting...

I started a hat for Channy a while back with the thought that it would be yellow (his favorite color) and with some earflaps and ties. I wasn't sure if he would wear the hat since he's pretty particular about fashion (i.e. he demands to wear only a few items for reasons unknown).

Once I presented him with the hat in a nonchalant way, he immediately put it on his head and wore it all weekend (be still my heart!) and protested when I took it back to make a few adjustments. This is his favorite hat!

I am still trying to finish up my quilt(s), and a toddler sweater but I am not even thinking about Christmas and birthday presents - yikes!

Back on the path...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Back in the Saddle

What a whirlwind of weeks. After my last post, I prepared to head out for my "Finally People Can Safely Label Me As Certifiable" road trip. It was around 740 miles one way and we played this song a lot. This very much provided the perfect theme song to our trip.

Our first stop was in Louisville, Kentucky to visit my brother and his family. Much fun was had by all. The big day was spent at the pumpkin farm where I had to do some fancy illusion tricks to get my son to forget about his very large pumpkin and opt for a small gourd instead. Ava, as usual, loved everything.

Second stop was in Nashville, Tennessee to visit my brother-in-law and his wife. How cool of an aunt and uncle are they? My kids arrived there to presents and playing and lots of fun. Ava started crawling at my brother's house and perfected her technique here. She also perfected her pulling up and cruising technique. (Oh well, no time like the present, right?)

We spent some wonderful play time at the dragon park where the kids got to stretch their legs and run around and play. For October, this afternoon was very warm and Chandler requested to have his shirt off - which I granted.

Third stop was to an undisclosed location south of Nashville to visit friend, Jackamo and her family. Jack and I have been friends since college and haven't seen each other in three years. She's NEVER met my kids! Sad, I know. This was the main point of my whole road trip. We always email each other and sometimes will call to chat, and our conversations always ended in a You really need to come and visit me, on both sides, knowing that was an empty request but asking it anyway to show our affection for each other and the desire to see each other again.

Jack and I had a conversation like this in September and I thought about it and had a sort of awakening. Why not go visit? My husband was about to embark on a ten day quest to find the big one on October 1st, my kids were still in diapers but on a very easy schedule (i.e. good naps and no bathroom stops). Well, Chandler is in the midst of potty training but only demands to be changed if he goes #2. So ... why not?

It was so good to hang out with Jack and her family. They were very gracious and the best hosts. I enjoyed MANY cups of tea as Jack is an excellent tea brewer and has a lot of fun teas that don't necessarily come from the grocery store aisle next to the instant coffee. (See her recommendations on the sidebar of this blog.) Of course, each cup of tea was accompanied by a shortbread or carb-y/sugar-y concoction of some sort. VERY yummy.

The kiddos were off-schedule and tired and cranky sometimes, but were SUPER troopers for being ages one and two. It was so much fun just to pack up and go. I have always had an "I Can Do" attitude which has sort of gotten me into trouble in the past (note to self: never assume - especially when using the parental car). I never want to just say "I wish I could" and never actually do. So, when I felt that I was in a good spot ... I did. I definitely don't want to say years from now, that I wish I visited my friends more often.

Finally, we traveled back up to Lexington, Kentucky to stay the night with my other brother and his wife in their new home. They've only been married two weeks and are still trying to settle into their new home and they were the most gracious hosts. They picked up an extra box of crackers (I had finally run out on our journey) set up an extra pack and play and had everything ready for us.

By this time, we were exhausted but Chandler still had tons of fun in the park and he is totally in love with Aunt Katie so time with her was the best. He, Kyle and Katie spent Saturday morning at the local park while Ava and I ate and re-packed the car for our final leg home.

We finally made it after 7 days of traveling and we had so much fun. There was a lot of excitement when we finally pulled in our driveway and Ava squealed at the sight of Daddy and touched his nose.

I would do it again. Not any time soon but I would do it again for the fun, the experience and to keep my friendships going. Does that inspire you? Shall I quote that NIKE commercial that won't go away? Okay, I won't.

I did do some knitting while I was at Jackamo's house believe it or not. While we caught up in the evenings, I made two of these washcloths for her boys. I'm telling you, if you haven't tried them, you really should. They are so easy to whip out after you get the hang of the loop stitch and so cute as a gift. So yes, some crafting was still going on. Jackamo is an expert a this apron and hopefully she'll post an official picture of it someday.

Whew! I came home to the arrival of my new Knit Picks Shine Worsted yarn - a whole bag of it! I am now finishing up an earflap hat for Channy and will start on some sweaters for the kids after that. Will keep you posted.

In the meantime...

Stay on the path.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Okay, No Mid-Week Lift

It was really weird this week. There are lots of good stories out there, but I'm just looking for a laugh; a lift. Not anything too heavy or preachy, you know? Anyway, I came across a headline that made me laugh ... until I read the story. A man in Peru tried to go through the airport security with 100 birds. Isn't that funny? Can you just imagine a little old man trailing along a bunch of bird cages behind him wondering why on earth people are giving him such a hard time about some birds? Well, that story didn't turn out that way. Let's just say he was more of a smuggler and some of the birdies didn't make it. Ugh.

So, it's no longer mid-week but as the weekend approaches, here are some fun jokes to share with your kids:

What do you call a deer with no eyes?
No ideer.

Why do gorillas have big fingers?
Because they have large nostrils.

Why do cows wear bells?
Because their horns don't work.

Why do hummingbirds hum?
Because they can't remember the words.

Why do birds fly south for the winter?
Because it's too far to walk.

What do you call a boomerang that doesn't work?
A stick.

If you're Canadian in the kitchen and American in the living room, what are you in the bathroom?
(This is a favorite of my nephew's! Of course, his aunt taught him that one.)

Sigh. Sorry people.

On the knitting front, I decided to try and make a yellow and orange hat for my son, Chandler, and that really didn't work out! The weight of the yarn was too small (it said sport weight but was closer to fingering it turns out) and it ended up looking more like a prison cap than a cute, striped hat. Soooo, I'm thinking of turning that into some fun socks for Chandler and Ava.

I am ordering some more of that super-yummy yarn, KnitPicks Shine worsted weight. It is hands down the best value and the prettiest yarn I've found. I still buy from my lys once in a while but I can't get over the prettiness of the Shine Sport and Shine Worsted. Love it. I'm thinking of making a couple of BETTER winter hats and a sweater or two. Better limber up those fingers!

And now, I had better get moving. I am preparing to go on a MASSIVE road trip with my two little ones tomorrow. This should be interesting ... but also fun! We plan on visiting friends and family. Happy days! Unfortunately, I'll be driving so I can't knit during the trip. Argh. When will they come out with auto-pilot? Work on that, Detroit!

Stay on the path...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

I actually have another Wednesday tip to share although it's definitely not earth-shattering. However, I really hope this may give one or two of you an ah-ha moment and it will definitely help free up space in your pantry.

With my carb-loving toddlers, I find that my cupboards are full of half-eaten, half-empty boxes of crackers, pretzels, cereal and grahams. I went out and bought a couple of packs of raisins (some yogurt covered) or you could add non-carb things like small M&Ms or dried fruit.

I dumped all of my open boxes of cereals, grahams, crackers and snacks into an oversize, plastic zipper bag along with my raisins and shook it all around. Voila! Mommy's super, extra-special trail mix. My babies love this mix as it is always changing (depending upon what I have on hand) and they can pick out what interests them one at a time when I dole this out to them in small snack-size baggies or cups. It's especially great on long trips when you need a snack and you don't want to bring a ton of boxes or bags. Just bring along one BIG bag of trail mix!

Now that I made more space in my cupboards, I can put the rest of my groceries away.

On the path...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

FOs - Avita Revisited...

I finished the Avita camisole quite a while ago but haven't had the chance to share it as an official FO on my little model. You can find the pattern here. Saturday was cool and pleasant and we decided to spend some family time at various parks around town.

Ava was so interested in every plant I plunked her down by that I was able to actually get a few good photos of the top before she tried scooting away.

The plants at this botanical garden are beautiful and I have decided to start recording the ones I love for future garden ideas. I kept seeing these little trees all over the place and couldn't get over their bonsai-like shape and the bright bursts of color by their flowers - great color for the fall weather. Here's the picture:

And here's the name:

I have never heard of these before but then again, I am no botanist - or avid gardner. Yet. I'm just storing these ideas away for future reference.

Oh, and on another note, I had a great surprise when I went shopping the other day. I found this fizzy drink that I practically downed at every festival I attended when I was in Japan about ten years ago. At the time, I had no idea what their names where but would see them being peddled on the street by vendors with huge buckets of ice with each light blue bottle nestled down into the ice just waiting for me. I loved these things and I just remember calling them the marble drinks and would grab a couple when I would be at a festival with a steaming hot street-fare dish and a gigantic thirst. The vendors always had what looked like an oversized hole punch or well pump handle. When I would buy one, the vendor would place the bottle underneath the hole punch/well pump thingy and it would blast the marble that was sealing the drink, down into the neck of the bottle. The drink was fruity and full of sugar, I'm sure, but I loved them.

So imagine my happiness when I found them on a little display shelf when I was checking out at World Market. I am surprised I haven't seen these before when visiting our local Asian market, but I didn't so this was a nice surprise.

I decided to enjoy the drink with the last of the year's herbs. I'm slowly cutting them all, trying to use them up before the weather turns cooler.

On the path...