Do you know what I love almost as much as a gift? Awesome wrapping. I rarely have time to put much detail into it...and I really regret it because I love good wrapping. It doesn't even have to be beautiful...just unique. It can be funny, or pretty, or crazy, or sentimental. Laurel and I did this one for her Uncle Erik (since I know he will appreciate it). I like the simplicity of the brown paper, and the monochromatic details...and then the slight glitter of the sequins. (Laurel and I had fun doing this one)
I also revisited my resuble tags, but this time in felt. I cut out the tag and the letters and let Laurel glue them on. She also tried the stitching herself, but got frustrated after a little while. Cut and glue and there you go...instant cute. Plus if it's gifted to someone out of the household it's like a second mini-gift. Ok...so I can't spend too much time wrapping because I'm not quite done with sewing. I still have (at the very least) two sisters and a brother to make something for. But sometimes it's just worth it...look at the pride in that little face. (Alright...technically she's squinting from the sun, but you can tell there is pride underneath that squint)
I really jumped into sewing today...maybe it's because I started packing the garage/studio for the move and suddenly found a path to the sewing machine again...hmmm...maybe. No matter what the reason, I've been thinking I just wouldn't be able to sew all that I wanted to (and that's probably still true) BUT I jumped in and got some done. (not just partly done either...totally done) After the day was pretty much over and the kids and I were just hanging out, I suddenly remembered a piece of fabric I had that might work for something. So I grabbed it, cut it, found another piece and cut it. Then I put them together...and piece by piece this project came together, including toggle buttons. So, now it's done. And I'm sitting here looking at it thinking is this a really nice gift or a really strange gift. It doesn't look right on me, so I can't even keep it. You got to have some spunk to pull off the pleated-teal-batik-toggle button neck cuff. I have three people in mind that could pull this off. (thankfully none of them read my blog) Of those three I think only two might wear it. And of those two I can picture one actually wearing it. Ok...I think process of elimination just decided who gets it. Now, it's up to anyone who might read this to tell me if I'm off my rocker and NO ONE would wear this.
(Either way it cost a total of $1.78) Plus it goes into the category of projects you can complete with a random fat quarter you have lying around. (and only takes 20 minutes)
After a week of extreme cold and sickness passing from Luke to me to Laurel...we were ready for some holiday cheer. Laurel went shopping with her daddy and got to have some special one-on-one time with him. And I got to do the same with Luke. He and I went to the store for ingredients for some holiday baking, then came home and made cookies. What a blast to have just him. He got to do everything from cracking the eggs to operating the mixer (without having to share with a certain bossy sister).
(You can tell he is VERY generous with the M&Ms)
Once Daddy and Laurel got home we made a special Christmas card to send to a special family...can't show too much...don't want to give away the surprise. BUT...we had so much fun doing this project together, and I think it will get giggles from the receiving family. Now THIS is what Christmas is about.
And here are some extras from the Christmas season so far...
Christmas season is upon us and I swear we have already watched every Christmas movie (I have converted my daughter to the dark side and she now loves Smoky Mountain Christmas...HA!), sung every carol (including some we made up), our tree is up (ornaments have already been broken) and I've finished my Christmas shopping. Yep. Done. (well, ok not totally there are a few stragglers...but I'm done for my family) It helps to have a pretty much $0 Christmas budget. I mean that in a good way. You don't fret about this and that. My children were very specific about what they wanted from Santa, and I got them something else that would be cute and practical for our day-to-day camper living. Plus some small stocking items (thank you Target and your $1 section). Shopping lasted all of 30 minutes. Plus, after a fair amount of research everything we bought at Target was quite a bit cheaper than what I found at Amazon and Walmart.com. You never know. I do know that while people are talking about the stress of the Christmas season...I can't fathom what they are talking about. I do still have some handmade decorations I want to make for myself as well as some handmade gifts for the kids to round it all off. (plus I promised Christmas PJs and pillowcase covers) I also wanted to try some new recipes, we bought some lemon butter at the Yellow Daisy Festival and I really want to learn to make it. So...besides sewing and cleaning and trying new recipes all I have left for December is to pack up this house and prepare to put it on the market. That seems like it should be a big thing, but I'm not feeling that way. Must be the Christmas spirit.
1) The top of the woodstove makes an excellent coffee warmer. This is especially true if you nurse your coffee like I do, and if you happen to be spending the morning in front of the woodstove reading and sketching. (But don't tell Jon, he babies the woodstove like it was...well...his baby)
2) You cannot remove the stink of fish oil from your husband's uniform shirt no matter what you use! I've tried vinegar, baking soda, toothpaste, borax, washing soda, soap...and now have tried bleach...which I so rarely use I had to dig it out. So for starters...don't wash your uniform shirt with a fish oil capsule in the pocket...and secondly...there is no secondly...just don't do it. I can smell fish everywhere. So take a look at this little beauty. Like the true freaks of nature we seem to be turning into, I think we are going to install a wood burning cook stove into our kitchen. We found this particular one from a manufacturer in the southwest with REALLY reasonable prices. And it includes the water jacket, so hot water for cocoa or tea any time. Plus it will heat our kitchen, and has 6 cooking eyes and an oven and a bread warmer for good rising even in the winter months. LOVE IT!
I was reading an article about the way men tackle things (versus women) and I came across this quote which so simply put what I think we all realized but never REALLY do.
"They're [men] wired to concentrate on a single thing, whereas the female brain evolved to approach tasks from a wide perspective," according to Helen Fisher, Ph.D., a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University at New Brunswick, New Jersey.
I'm forever confused that my very intelligent and capable husband doesn't think through what is needed for the day. Simple things...like he will go all the way to a destination and complete a task, but not realize that there was another task that could be completed at the same time in the same place. So he'll come all the way back home and get chastised by his uber lovely wife that he should have thought that through. Or why he'll agree to do a diet or exercise plan with me...but can't seem to keep up with the details of the plan. We've done South Beach probably 6 times in our marriage...but he will still call me from work to make sure the food he wants to eat is on the plan. Or why men want to solve problems for you...women just want to talk, but the man wants to solve it. Well now I get it. They're SUPPOSED to do that. Just like we're supposed to think through the whole day, every angle, juggle many tasks...they're supposed to pick one, complete it and move on. (I think I'm starting to like their way better) It also explains why my husband seems like he's going to melt down when there are too many things to solve at once...while I'm at my best in the same situation.
There was turkey and pie, games and fun, and a bonfire to top it all off. The weather was reasonable and the kids even invented a new game (Pong Pool...cross between Ping Pong and pool) And as you can see Luke takes his turn very seriously. Now that it's over; we're stuffed, we're tired...and we're thankful that we've had such a good year. And we look forward to the exciting year ahead...and hope that by next year we might be able to have Thanksgiving out our new house.
I've been thinking about holiday gifts...but not so far into it that I've sketched or planned anything. I know what I'm doing for Jon...so that's good. But I haven't the slightest idea what to do for the kids yet. They want pillow pets...which I happily suggested we could make...but, I was kindly (and emphatically) told that only the store bought ones would do. Ok then...thank goodness for grandma. They are purchased and ready.
I had bigger plans orginally and wanted to incorporate wood working into my gifts this year. But I'm just not as far along in the process of moving and using power tools as I thought. Once we're living in the camper at the new house the power tools will all be accessible and wood will be plentiful and I can start messing around. But for the time being the garage looks like it exploded. You have to cross the swamp of firewood to gain access to the pit of despair (mostly a mixture of old books, purses and junk that we don't know what to do with). I had so many thoughts of about gifts when I thought I would have all this time. But somehow the time I gained seems to have disappeared. How is that possible? Domestic black hole maybe? (DBH for future reference) I'm at home for the 8 hours that I used to be at work...but my house isn't cleaner...and I'm not making anything more than before...maybe less!
Zoiks. Maybe I need to try out fly lady just so I can keep track of the time...and figure out where it's all going! (you know, besides into the abyss of the DBH) Am I the only one who has one hovering over their house?
I can't seem to focus on what to make. Maybe because my life is totally different now and I'm constantly trying new things to see what I like. Curriculum, bread recipes, cleaning strategies, etc. Plus I have a house to jack up, and rotted floor joists to replace. Then I have another house to completely pack up and move out of. The easiest and most enticing things on my to do list is to move into a camper for the next 6 months. Is that strange? (Silly question OF COURSE IT IS) But it's enticing because it takes away the safety net, the excuses and the wasted time. So really I can't wait. In the meantime I've wanted to open the store again, but I feel like I just can't focus on what to create. There are so many things I want to do and want to try. I don't want to go back to making the same stuff, I want to stretch myself. But at the same time, it isn't the time to work on labor intensive stuff...I have enough of that coming my way. So far I'm taking it step by step. A loaf of bread here, a quilt there. I stopped sketching about two weeks ago because all-sketch and no-sew makes me unproductive. But I'm working my through it. It's like writer's block, except I'm overwhelmed with ideas and don't know where to start.
Laurel and I escaped the boys this morning to go to a pre-show of a production of Cheaper by the Dozen. Just us girls and no distractions. We got there early and I had to wait to go in, so we took a seat at an empty table decorated with Beatrix Potter books (don't know why) and we made it through two and a half before going in. It was fun to be in our own world of silliness, me making voices and her giggling. Then we watched the play, which was adorable and heart warming. (and did I mention FREE!)
After we left, Laurel wanted to go to Starbucks (the lake picture is from the Starbucks...there is a deck, and a dock) She got a hot chocolate and a polar bear cookie, then we walked down to the lake. She collected leaves and we talked about fall, and reflections on the lake...and how much we like having time together. I can't believe it was August the last time we had a specially planned girl date!
I need to make sure I do this every week, with each of my kids.
I completed day 2 of week 4 of the couch to 5k running program yesterday. It was hard, but totally doable. And I've found that this time around (and for the very first time) I'm actually running faster and longer towards the end of my program. I'm able to push it when the guy says to, and I'm able to add a minute or 2 at the end of the run. I try to do that so that the transition to the following week doesn't seem so bad.
Everything has been moving along incrementally, but I remembered that somewhere along the way there was a big jump in running time...but I just couldn't remember what it was. So I looked it up online (normally I just wait until the guy on the podcast tells me when to run)...but for this upcoming week I wanted to see what was on the horizon. To my shock and horror, day 3 of week 5 is a straight 20 minute run. The longest run in week 4 is 5 minutes...and that's not a walk in the park (if you catch the pun). So how in 2 runs am I supposed to progress from a 5 minute run to a 20 minute run?!?! Ok...let me think this through...I'm running tomorrow, then Friday (day1 week 5)...then Sunday (day2 week 5)...then the big run will be on Tuesday. Oh my. Tuesday will be the big day.
My doubts are starting to take over. But, this time around I've been doing so well...I'm just going to trust the program. Deep breath....whew...ok, I'm better for now. Wish me luck!
I've been inspired by so many things this year...and yet I feel like I just can't decide what to make myself. Rather than focus on what I can do, I like to look at all the things I can't do (yet). And lately I haven't even had a chance to do that. Today I'm mentally overwhelmed with the amount of junk in my house that seems to have no where to go. As we're thinking through the beginning stages of packing up the house that has been our home since our family's inception...it is overwhelming to decide where to begin. What gets tossed? What gets packed? What can I do with it until we get boxes to pack it into? Where do we store those boxes until we have a home to move into?
For this moment in time I'm pretending it doesn't exist...and instead looking at the things over the last few months that I've stored away for project ideas and inspiration. Some are sewing projects, others woodworking, and some are ideas for the new house. (I never stop thinking about design ideas for the house) Every time I see something I like I save the picture in my files so that I don't have to remember them. Here are a few that I've kept...
It was the best of times and it was the worst of times... We just came back from a wonderful and horrible trip to Louisiana to visit my family for a funeral. It was so good to see everyone, and to smell the bayou air. To see all the places I used to visit. They say you can't go back...and I suppose that's true. In years past we would have been at my Mimi and Papa's on the bayou, walking, exploring and being free. The smell of warm tropical air mixed with the bayou and my grandmother's camelia bushes always greeted me when I walked out the back door. I got to see family I haven't seen in a long time. I got to have my Uncle's gumbo which I haven't had in an even longer time. My kids got to know people they either hadn't seen or didn't remember. Of course everything was bittersweet because of the funeral. This is the first funeral that I've gone to where someone just wasn't old enough to pass away. It wasn't fair. Not to her, not to us and especially not to her kids. But they handled it well. My only regret is not being able to stay longer and catch up with them more. But it made us realize that we need to make these trips more often, and not just for weddings and funerals. I guess I just felt like since my grandparents were gone and their house wasn't home for me anymore that there was nowhere to go to. In retrospect that was ridiculous. We had a wonderful time staying with my Aunt and Uncle, my kids had a blast playing with them. I loved reconnecting with my cousins who in most of my memories are children, but in reality are all adults now. And...this trip was the first time I heard Jon say he was hoping to move into the camper within the month. Oh yeah...time to get cracking.
One night when I couldn't sleep I got up to sew something. Once I got out to the sewing room (aka the garage) I found I just wasn't in the mood to sew, but I did want to create something. Then I remembered while I was cleaning I accidentally dropped a business-card-magnet into the sink and the business card was ruined. So I took off the business card and saved the magnet for just such an occasion. With a pair of scissors, some Modge Podge and fabric scraps I made this. It shouldn't have delighted me as much as it did...but I still smile when I see it on the fridge.
The next day I figured why not let the kids do one too. So I took a couple more useless advertisements off the fridge and let the kids pick their fabrics and designs and they glued it down with fingers and Modge Podge. And if in the end something isn't perfect, grab the scissors and cut. Think of the possibilities! You could do your last name, the alphabet, a nature scene that the kids could play with, a nativity set, etc etc. This is some seriously easy, cheap (free actually if you have the stuff on hand) and totally quick project that the kids can be proud of for years. (and will make you smile every time you grab something from the fridge) And you can't screw up no matter what you do...it will still come out cute. And now instead of those ugly magnets from local stores you have your own reused-recycled-remagnet.
I'll be doing more soon...I just can't help myself...ugly magnets must be reborn!
I love gifts that are wrapped as if the wrapping were as important as the present. It makes the whole process of giving and receiving so much more special. It's my youngest sister's birthday, and for the last few years I have given her handmade gifts. (To be frank, I think she's sick of them) So...I decided to purchase a gift. It's not like she said I had to, but you can tell when someone just doesn't really want a handmade purse AGAIN. (I know, I don't get it either) Anyway, I found a reasonably priced and pretty unique looking necklace at Target. But it just felt so sad to put it in a plain boring gift bag.
I decided to try my hand at the twist-tie leaves I posted about earlier. And this was a truly recycled project...instead of wire (which I didn't have) I used old twist ties from store bought bread. I grabbed some scraps of green and went to work. I used a contrasting thread because she's 12 and I thought it would be more fun. As for the wrapping itself, it's a scrap of an antique pillow case from my grandmother. It was literally falling apart and I had already been using it for my current quilt project, so I took a scrap of the beautifully scalloped edge and turned it into a little handbag. Then I tied it closed with twine (leftover from the banner project), and twisted on my two leaves. (or four leaves depending on how you quantify it)
Not too shabby, huh? Even a gift card would seem unique wrapped like this.
I found these awesomely versatile (and totally easy to make...for ANY skill level) twist-tie leaves at a free holiday crafting ezine called Gifted. (It's really long, but has some real gems hidden within)
This for starters... and this... how about this? (I have to do this with Laurel...what an amazing gift or decoration...made by mom and kid together!)
And there were tons of cool gift picks to buy as well. How about these pirate playing cards for $6? Luke would love them! Check it out if you have 10-15 minutes to flip through the 100+ pages...you'll have to flip through some stuff quickly, but it is worth it...I promise.
We finally finished our drywall project in class...and I finally understand why Jon wants us to hire someone to finish the drywall. Seriously not fun. And after all our hard work...we got an 85%. Not sure how that translates into real life on a scale of yipes-I-wouldn't-want-live-there to this-drywall-looks-awesome (you know...because people say that when they walk into a house...).
Now we're onto dropped ceilings, which I didn't want to learn (so much so that I considered not even going to class). But that seemed lame...so I went, and now I can install a dropped ceiling...even though I hate them.
Next up...trim. I can't wait to start using the coping saw!!
Becoming Maggie Blue is the journey to becoming the person I want to be. After many years of living a conventional life, we decided to move to Alaska and live on a boat. Currently we're traveling full time in a camper with our two kids, exploring North America. We have no plan beyond going slowly and seeing all there is to see, and taking the time to connect and be together as much as possible in these special years.