Monday, November 30, 2009

Mini Quilt Monday

I started this a year ago, put it away after the holidays last year, and finally got it out to finish for Jacquie's Joy in the New Year Challenge.

This is my first finish for the challenge, with three more to go.

It measures 16 x 31 inches (40 x 78 cm). I put tabs on the back so I could hang it on my wall, but it would work as a table runner as well.

I love the dark binding next to the white. The back is the same material as the second tree from the left. It is pretty wild, and doesn't exactly go with the binding, but who will be looking at the back, right?

I quilted this last year, so you'll notice that there are some spots where it is a bit off, but I refuse to unpick. I like to call it progress.

Continuing with the tree theme I think this quilt would be so awesome to make! Maybe in a few years...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Border-less Quilt

I can't think of a single quilt I have made this year that didn't have some type of border around it. While I was making this one I was asking myself why that was.

I came to the conclussion that I prefer a good border on a quilt like I prefer a framed picture with a mat around it. I like the added weight it gives, more substance, bigger presence, whatever you want to call it, I just like it.

With that being said, I quite like this one (a total knock off of this quilt) without a border.

I used two charm packs of Momo Wonderland, but added another 40 or so squares from my stash to make it bigger and less matchy-matchy. Finished quilt measures 48" by 52".

Here is a closer look at the stash pieces I used. I scored! I bought them all on the cheap in the remnant section of my local quilt shop. They are Woodland Friends Circles, Recess Fun and Games in blue, Stencil Floral from Holly Hill, with some solids thrown in. The backing is a piece from Hobby Lobby. Mom bought it for fiesta night but gave it to me when our reunion was over.

I think this one is going to get wrapped up for my youngest daughter for Christmas. Unfortunately it isn't one of my finishes for the challenge. Can I count it anyway?

So, I'd like to know how you feel about borders. Love 'em or hate 'em I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cool Knit Hat {Glow in the Dark Version}

I did this hat for Emily's b-day earlier in month. She is and has been the runner of the family and is committed to continue during the colder winter months. She's already run a Halloween 5K, with a Santa 5K and a midnight run on New Years Eve coming up. Go, Em! Can't wait to see pics of you in the Santa getup.

Yarn Materials:
Bernat® Satin -- Snow and Maitai.
Bernat® Glow in the Dark Yarn --light pink (Yes, you read that right--glow in the dark!!)

Of course, it is now discontinued and I should have bought more of it last year when I found it, but oh well.... You don't always know what you are going to love. If I had had more of it and in white I would have used it for my son's SK8TR hat. That would've been AWESOME to have glowing skulls on his hat. DRATS!!!

This is the basic knit hat pattern that I have been using for years. I tried to find the pattern directly online--as I know it came from a knitting pattern book. However, I couldn't find the source. One thing I just love about this pattern is that you can adjust the stripes to accomodate a number of different designs. I also think this is a great pattern to use up your scrap yarn--just make a funky striped hat.

Cool Knit Hat

Finished hat circumference 20” and 9” long from edge to top.

Size 8 – 16” circular needles
Size 8 double-pointed needles
Lion Brand Wool-Ease (or similar)

Cast on 84 sts.

Join and work 4 rnds in k1, p1 rib.

Body of Hat:
Knit 10 rnds. Work 24 rnds in stripe pattern ( Rnds 1-4 in one color and 5-10 in another…repeat)
***This is 34 rows of total knitting for the body of the hat that you can adjust in any stripe format you would like. This is a great pattern to use up your extra yarns.

Shape crown, working decs as follows, changing to dpns when necessary.
Rnd 1: *k2tog, k4; rep from * -70 sts.
Rnd 2, 4, 6, 8 knit
Rnd 3: *k2tog, k3; rep from * -56 sts.
*Start using Dpns at Round 5
Rnd 5: *k2tog, k2; rep from * -42 sts.
Rnd 7: *k2tog, k1; rep from * -28 sts.
Rnd 9: *k2tog; rep from * -14 sts.
Rnd 10: k2tog 7 times -7 sts.

Cut yarn. With tapestry needle, run tail through remaining 7 stitches and fasten off. Weave in ends.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Advent Pocket Fillers

Although the kids sure think it's great to get treats every day for the entire month of December as we're doing the advent calendar, we've been thinking of other options that they'll still get excited about. Try checking your area for events happening locally and add those to your calendar on the appropriate day.

Here are a few ideas you might like to try to fill your Advent Calendar Pockets:

  • Hot Chocolate Night
  • Firepit Night
  • Decorate Sugar Cookies (and then deliver some to friends or neighbors)
  • Make Gingerbread houses--Wilton has easy pre-made kits available
  • Write Santa letters
  • Assemble and send your family Christmas cards
  • Have a sleep-out under the Christmas tree (we'll have at least 2 pockets with this one)
  • Watch your family's favorite Christmas movie
  • Attend your city's torchlight or holidazzle parades
  • Go view Christmas light displays in your neighborhood
  • Attend a Christmas concert in your area
  • Make ornaments for your tree
  • Cut paper snowflakes and hang them around the house or post them in the windows
  • Sledding day
  • Make custom gift tags (recycling old greeting cards are great for this activity)
  • Wrapping presents day
  • Visit Santa at your local Mall
  • Read one or more of your favorite Christmas books--Click HERE for good start on a reading list
  • Find acts of service to perform--i.e., shoveling walks for someone
  • Have a "clean out" day and purge some of your outgrown or unused toys or clothes and then donate them to a shelter
  • Make a "Thank You" stocking for Santa to hang with the rest of yours
  • Make custom placemats using old Christmas cards

Family Fun has some printable Advent Calendar Activities you can try also.

Advent Nativity Coloring Pages--6 pages that you can print off already in color or black and white for your kids to color. They can color one character or figure each day during the month until the entire nativity is completed on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Advent Candle

After seeing Emily's advent calendar, we all thought this would be a great addition to that. Besides whatever fun things you are doing during the month of December, this is a nice way to bring more into focus the true meaning of the Christmas season.

Shauna originally gave this to us years ago. I'm not sure where she got it, or if she came up with it on her own. But here is how it works. Each evening, as sort of a family devotional, you light a candle (if you want), and then read a scripture verse that talks about some aspect of Jesus Christ's life. You can then add more discussion, if desired, with your family, adapting it to the ages and attention span of your kids.

Click HERE for the pdf. of the "Advent Candle" which includes simple directions, a list of all scripture references, and a corresponding characteristic of Jesus Christ. All scripture verses taken from the King James Version of the Bible. (A HUGE Thanks! to Steve F. for walking me thru how to work the pdf. Your directions were great!)

If you do not have access to the Holy Bible in your home you can click HERE to request a FREE copy from Or you can visit HERE and pull up the entire New Testament to cut and paste the corresponding scripture verses.

Here is a good place to find some nice pictures depicting scenes from the Nativity.

Another great resource to have is a beautiful DVD called "Joy to the World". This is produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and you can receive it FREE at the same site above. The DVD is around 20 minutes long and depicts the birth of the Savior. We try and watch it on Christmas Eve and I have been pleasantly surprised that even the little ones in our house will watch it quietly and give their full attention.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Advent Calendar Ala Oh, Fransson! Version #2

I got a preview a couple weeks ago of Emily's Advent Calendar and decided that I, too, needed one of these. For various reasons I've gotten rid of all others that I've had previously. We've made our own "advent" chains with candy each day and I really didn't want to do that. With all the fun little pockets we can do some days with candy treats and other days with something else.

My color choices are a little less subtle than Emily's, but as our mom would say, "To each his own."

I do have to say that I am not good with randomness. As I was working on this I had a hard time mixing it up and making sure it remained random looking. I had Hubby come and look at it once I had it where I thought I wanted it and he was less than helpful.

Hubby: "Is it supposed to look so chaotic?"
Me: "You mean random? Yes."
Hubby: Immediately he responded, "It looks great then", and walked off.

Hubby: "Why are the numbers not in order?"
Me: "Because I wanted them that way."
Hubby: "....O.K...." (remember that Hubby is an engineer--they don't think randomly--they think extremely, extremely precise)

He also asked me why I didn't do 25 squares instead of 24 and then I could have it be 5 across by 5 down. Of course, he mentioned that after everything was already organized and partially sewn. But it is something you may want to think about.

Here's what finally came to pass with my struggle for randomness.

At this stage in my life I don't do fancy quilting. Straight lines, like topstitching, are what I do best. I may eventually try and practice the free motion quilting, but not for now.

Back view: Besides the dowel corners that Oh, Fransson! recommended I added a center loop just to make sure the calendar wouldn't sag while it is hanging up and all filled.

Close-up of the dowel and holder.
My adjustments:
1. Bought 3 fat quarter bundles packs from Jo-Ann Fabrics, plus 4 more fat quarter pieces. (This is WAY more than what you need, but it worked out for what I wanted to do and I used coupons to cut the price down.) I've been working on a Christmas quilt from the remaining pieces. Will post that later on.
2. Also cut 5" squares--I don't like to think in 1/2" measurements.
3. Cut 2" sashing.

Stay tuned in the following days for some suggestions on what to fill the pockets with. We've been brainstorming and hope to give you some good ideas.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


is the big winner!
Your quilt is on it's way...
Can't wait to see how it turns out!

I had a great time reading through all your thoughts!
Made my day to see that so many of you are content or down-right happy about your age. That's the way it should be! Besides, does anyone really want to repeat high school?! The thought of it makes me gag!

Have a good one!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Reading List--Guest Post

Our cousin, Annette, is a book fiend. She freely admits it. And we are freely going to use it to our advantage. She posted on her own personal blog (earlier in October no less) about the Christmas reading list she was putting together for her kids this season and we asked if she'd be willing to share it with everyone. We thought we'd get this out sooner than later so if you like the idea you, too, can get started on rounding up the Christmas/Seasonal books your family likes.


One of our favorite family traditions every December is reading a Christmas story by the Christmas tree. And every December it's one of the traditions that quite often gets skipped due to parties, school events, getting home late, etc.

This year, however, I have vowed to have a slower, quieter, more meaningful Christmas season. I hope. I saw the idea on a couple different blogs of wrapping the Christmas books and then letting kids unwrap one each night to read. The only problem with that was that about half of my stories are just typed ones that I have in a big binder. My girls prefer stories with pictures anyway, so I figured this was a good year to stock up on Christmas books.

Amazon - which just barely gets edged out by Target as my #1 place to shop - has been a great place to find very cheap, used Christmas books. Most of the ones I bought this year were hardcover books in "like new" or "very good" condition and cost $0.01 plus $3.99 shipping. I think the most expensive one I bought was $2.00 plus shipping. Over the past couple of months I've bought 2 or 3 each payday. There are still a few I'd like to get but now that I have enough to get us through Christmas Day I'm not in such a hurry.

I tried to keep the books a secret but my kids quickly figured out what I was doing and quite often I catch them trying to cheat and read them ahead of time. Then I threaten to call Santa Claus, they cry and scream, and order is restored.

Here's the list of what we'll be reading this December:

  1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer retold by Dennis R. Shealy

  2. Frosty the Snowman retold by Annie North Bedford

  3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

  4. Santa Claus by Rod Green

  5. Magical Hands by Marjorie Barker Yoshi (technically not a Christmas book but it's got an inspiring message and we always read it at Christmas)
  6. Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Richard H. Schneider

  7. The Bears' Christmas by Stan & Jan Berenstain

  8. How Many Miles to Bethlehem? by Kevin Crossley-Holland

  9. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski (How'd you like that last name?) ***There is also a DVD of this story that Renae found at her local library. Check yours, they may have it also.
  10. This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten
  11. Punchinello and the Most Marvelous Gift by Max Lucado

  12. The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
  13. Who'll Pull Santa's Sleigh Tonight? by Laura Rader

  14. Mooseltoe by Margie Palatin

  15. Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner

  16. The Christmas Humbugs by Colleen Monroe
  17. Christmas Oranges retold by Linda Bethers

  18. The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne
  19. The Little Shepherd Girl by Juliann Henry
  20. The Tale of Three Trees retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

  21. Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera
  22. Auntie Claus and the Key to Christmas by Elise Primavera
  23. Humphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer
  24. Russell's Christmas Magic by Rob Scotton

  25. Jingle Bells Illustrated by Kathleen O'Malley

  26. Jacob's Gift by Max Lucado

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson will be my 8 O'Clock Club selection (the book I read at bedtime with my kids) this year. A few other classics are missing from this list mostly because we watch them rather than read them in December. Having my husband, Ron, make us hot chocolate, then watching him sing and dance to the hot chocolate song in The Polar Express has become a tradition we would never, ever give up.


Thanks, Annette! If you want to leave us a comment telling us about a book or books your family loves to read for the season, we'd love to hear your recommendations, too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Birthday Giveaway

Tomorrow is my birthday--I will be turning 35!
I happen to like having birthday's and getting older. I feel like I get smarter each year. And, honestly, my 30's are WAY better than my 20's, so I'm hoping that trend continues. Surely we get older for a reason, right?!

In honor of my birthday I am giving away this quilt top to one lucky person. It's made from the remaining 3" scraps from my nine patch quilt. It measures approx. 36 by 42 inches .

It includes lots of the same scraps as my coin quilt. After using them for the last couple projects I am now completely sick of them. They were good scraps, but I am ready to move on.

If you want a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment telling us how old you are and your feelings about it. I'll draw a winner on Tuesday Nov. 17th.
Can't wait to read through all your thoughts!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Advent Calendar Ala Oh, Fransson!

Here's my version of the advent calendar that I saw at Oh, Fransson!. (You can see my November version here.) Elizabeth is such a precise quilter. Make sure you scroll through her blog--she makes beautiful quilts!

My old advent calendar was missing some pieces, and was probably 7 years old or so. Time for a new one. When I saw Elizabeth's I knew it would work great for my family. I mean, POCKETS that actually hold something?! Brilliant! Also, love the fact that the numbers are jumbled up.

I think I'll be putting in a treat, a scripture verse to read, and the name of a Christmas book for our nightly reading. Hopefully the kiddos will be as excited as I am about it.

The fabric I used is called Frosted Memories from Moda.

This piece was from my stash. I used it for the backing and binding. I'm embarrassed to stay that I've had it! I decided it was high time it got used.

I think the sheet music lines make a nice subtle bit of interest on the binding.

Here are the slight changes I made:
1. I cheated and used 2
charm packs (which are 5 inch pre-cuts) instead of cutting out all those 4.5 inch squares. The charms worked great, but I had to dig into my stash for a few remaining fabrics to finish it off. If you don't have a big stash, I would suggest buying 3 charm packs to get the 96 total squares.
2. I didn't stagger my pockets (my brain can't do staggering) so I used 1.5 inch sashings on all sides.
3. I added a 2 inch border to the whole outside to give it a little more presence.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Show and Tell

Anyone else feeling the pressure build as Christmas gets closer? I sure am! I have one big project that I REALLY want to get done in time to give as a gift. I am making some progress, but it really should be farther along than it is...

This is going to be a Plain Spoken Quilt. The solid blues, greys, and white are making me so happy right now. It is going to be SO COOL when it's done!

Our parents were in town for a visit last week. I gave them the Family Reunion Quilt. Mom seemed happy with it. Dad is only ever concerned if it's going to be long enough to cover his feet and come up to his neck. :) I think it is...

The names faded a bit when I washed the quilt so mom said she was going to embroider all the names on. I am so happy she is doing that. I had thought that was what needed to be done, but I wasn't about to do all 33 names. Mom has way more time and many more years experience than me. She will make them look great!

This sign makes me laugh! It is in the restroom of the fabric store I like to visit when I go to my in-laws. It points to a trash bin. Do you think it actually stops shoplifters from flushing the evidence?

Finally, if you want to see some skills, check out my latest family picture taken by Leslie in exactly 5 minutes. My kids don't sit still very long...and yet the picture is AWESOME!!


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