Category Archives: Family

Valences Galore

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One of my sweet daughters-in-law just moved AND got a new classroom (see Embroidered Classroom Poster), so I had fun sewing valences for both places. For the kindergarten room, I found a crayon print on the sale table at my local Hancock Fabrics and bought a yard of alphabet/number print for a contrast border. For the dining nook, Jen and Greg chose a green/blue plaid from Fabric.com and I found a matching blue trim at Jo-Ann. They’re in the mail to their new homes!  ♥

Artists I Admired On Our Trip

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On our recent trip to visit Baby Katy, I saw some adorable creations in her nursery! I also discovered the most amazing fabric art at the Philadelphia International Airport—Kay Healy’s “Coming Homelife-sized fabric mural in Terminal E. (Click on photo above for a larger view).  I couldn’t stop looking at all the intricate details!

Now for those fun nursery ideas . . .

(1) The top picture is “She Art” lovingly created by Katy’s Aunt Shannon. Visit Christy Tomlinson’s blog (the founder of She Art) to learn more about this art form.

(2) The owl and flower paper collages are by a lovely interior designer and friend of Katy’s mom and dad. Please check out her web site at Ashley Heath Design. (And we loved how the flowers coordinate with Katy’s new mobile!)

(3) Katy’s mommy, author of the delicious cooking blog Consumed: My Culinary Adventure, made this beautiful curtain “gift-wrapped” with ties sewn from a coordinating fabric. I love it! ♥

Rock and Wire Photo Holder

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When I was digging through my treasure box and found these pretty rocks that some sweet kiddos gave me, I immediately thought of a super-creative craft I’d bookmarked on What Katie Made.  Thank you, Katie, for such an easy-to-follow tutorial! Now I have treasures holding treasures. ♥

Embroidered Classroom Poster

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One of my teacher friends posted this adorable chart-paper poster from the First Grader At Last! blog on Pinterest. I wanted to make one for a teacher in my family, but instead of recopying it on paper I decided to embroider the whole thing! Crazy, I know! 🙂 But here are the steps:

  • Find some fabric that looks like notebook paper, cut out a rectangle, and embroider the red line and “holes.”
  • Print the sayings lightly in pencil on the lines.
  • Embroider, using a different color of floss for each line.
  • Cut out a piece of quilt batting and back fabric, stack and pin (with right sides together), and stitch the sides and bottom.
  • Trim the seams, turn, press, and top stitch the edges.
  • Sew a strip of 2-inch seam facing to the top (right sides together), fold it back to make a dowel rod casing for hanging, and handstitch it down.

Here’s my colorful version, taped (a bit wonkily!) to a wall for a photo shoot before heading to a new kindergarten classroom. Happy school year! ♥

 

Finally . . . a Guy Gift!

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 Zipper Pull

Have I ever mentioned that we have LOTS of guys in our family? As in a blended family of seven sons and no daughters??? I love to make things for our beautiful daughters-in-law and grandbabies, but I haven’t ventured far into homemade-for-men land. So, when I saw a tutorial for a zippered toiletry bag on The Purl Bee, I decided to give it a try. The first challenge was fabric. I wanted to use oilcloth to make the bag easy to clean, but all I could find was gingham, fruit, vegetables, animal prints, and floral designs. Then I stumbled on this fun plaid online at Mendel’s, and it just happens to be the colors for the University of Kansas, the birthday guy’s favorite college basketball team . . . how lucky was that? The bag was easy and fun to sew, and I have plenty of fabric left (and plenty of KU fans left!), so I’m sure I’ll be making more.   8-7-12 UPDATE: Today I added a little guy a-la-mode . . . a zipper pull made from a Jayhawk keychain. ♥

Embroidered Pillowcases

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Here are my latest pillowcases, embroidered with a simple graphic and floral design. I do love to embroider . . . it’s relaxing, portable, and the perfect way to add a bit of a-la-mode to sewing and crafting projects. I learned my first stitches from my grandma when I was ten years old . . . I hope I get to pass them on to my granddaughters someday! ♥

A Super-Easy, Inexpensive, Five-Minute Guest Room Craft

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(1) Find a stand-up frame that matches your guest room.  (I got this one at a dollar store for . . . yes . . . $1!)

(2) Use the picture that comes with the frame as a template to cut a light-colored piece of scrapbook or wrapping paper.

(3) Put the pretty paper in the frame.

(4) Using a dry-erase marker, write a welcome message on the glass before your guests arrive.

(5) Watch them smile!

P.S. A big THANK YOU goes out to Bliss . . . a DIY and Home Design Site for this great idea!  If you’ve written a recent post about creating a hospitable guest space, I’d love for you to send me a link in a comment and I’ll add it to this post, too! ♥

More Vintage Treasures!

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Thank you for all the WONDERFUL ideas I’ve received so far for my vintage bow ties! With a super-busy week ahead (in a good way! :)) sewing isn’t on the agenda, but as soon as I get back to my machine I’ll be trying them out!  In the meantime, I thought I’d share the other goodies Dad gave me this weekend. My mom won these ribbons for her paintings at county and state fair competitions . . . she was so amazing! I have a bunch of these stashed away from my 4-H days, too. I also have a class reunion coming up during fair weekend in August, and I offered to make the decorations, and wouldn’t the ribbons make a festive bunting??? My other newest treasures include  (1) a “VOTE!” necktie from a 1972 election, (2) some hand-embroidered and crocheted linens, (3) a hand-sewn and crocheted baby dress, cap, sweater, and booties, and (4) a colorful nylon kite that no longer flies. I’m going to have so much fun with these! And if you have suggestions for projects for any of them, please feel free to share here, too. I never cease to be amazed at all the creativity out there! ♥

Crib Skirt

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Our brand-newest grandson is here for a visit! Today his mommy and I went to Jo-Ann to find fabric for a few items to round out his nursery decor, which is based on this adorable vegetable print from IKEA. We found a pretty green graphic print to use for the crib skirt, and it was a piece of cake to stitch it up! I got some helpful tips from Ashley at littlewillowtree and used her info to draw a diagram for future use. Oh, and we also got fabric for accent pillows . . . my next project!

P.S. Here’s a photo I added of the skirt on the crib when Joshua arrived back home . . . along with the pillows from the next post. ♥

X’s and O’s . . . er . . . Lemons and Limes

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Do you have little ones in your family who LOVE to play tic-tac-toe? We do! Since I bought plenty of orange, yellow, green, and white felt for my citrus coaster project, I decided to use it to make a birthday gift for one of these sweet little girls with a giant orange slice gameboard and lemon and lime game pieces. And how serendipitous to find an orange slice notepad in the dollar bin at Michaels for keeping score! 🙂 At first, I was going to make a bag out of my citrus fabric to hold everything, but then I figured out that the gameboard itself could be the bag with the addition of ties. It worked! Now I’m imagining all sorts of other themes . . . a basketball gameboard with different colors of “team” T-shirts for the game pieces . . . a Disney fabric gameboard with Mickey and Goofy game pieces . . . the sky is the limit! You could also make them different sizes and even add velcro to the gameboard and pieces to play it in the car. Other ideas are welcome! ♥

Aprons!

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You know how some of our lovely blogging friends give things away? Well, I just received this BEAUTIFUL polka-dotted apron from Moosewood Vintage Wearables & Sundries, specializing in vintage clothing & accessories, gently used formal dresses, and goat milk soaps. I LOVE it! Please visit Ruth’s WordPress blog, her FB page, and her Etsy shop. Thank you, Ruth! ♥ While I was photographing my new apron, I also pulled out my three other favorites. My mother made the one with the quilted top and pocket, and my grandmother made the tangerine print (which has a fancy cross-over back; it’s sort of like putting a puzzle together to get into it!). And the little half-apron was my VERY FIRST sewing venture when I was around eight years old, so if you’re looking for a beginning project, here’s the scoop: Grandma had me use tiny gingham so I could just follow the lines, and the “pattern” consists of a big rectangle with a casing at the top and a hem at the bottom and a self-fabric drawstring. It’s definitely one-size-fits-all, because I can still wear it today!  Someday I’d like to a-la-mode it a bit with a pocket and some embroidery. . . so many ideas, so little time . . . ♥

T-Shirt Quilt

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This isn’t a *new* project, but I just found the photo and it sweetly reinforced why we all do what we do . . . create special things for special people to show how much we care. I remembered how happy my son Kyle was to get this quilt when he graduated from high school and how many homes it has lived in with him during his young adult years, and I thought about the warm feeling I get when I now see his little girls wrapped up in it watching a movie.  I didn’t have a pattern or directions when I made it, so I simply cut out squares from the fronts or backs of T-shirts (mostly team shirts, but a couple from other treasured events), stitched them together, stitched the front to the back with batting in between, and stitched around the squares for “quilting.” The lower right-hand corner also has the T-shirt the pink ladies at the hospital gave us the day Kyle was born. (All together now . . . AWWWWWW! :)) The next time I make one, I think I’ll put fabric strips around the squares to set them apart a bit, like the one I recently saw on LoveLaughLiveMe . . . or maybe I’ll just turn them into pillows instead. ♥

Birthday Card Garland

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I’ve been trying to think of a fun way to display greeting cards rather than taping them to the frig (HO-HUM!).  Seeing LOTS of garland (a.k.a. bunting) on Pinterest gave me an idea for our fireplace mantel.  It was super-easy! I used some of the scrapbook paper from my mini-notebook project and the peanut butter lid from my road trip flowers project to cut out circles.  I then folded them in half, unfolded them, dabbed them with a glue stick, and folded them back over some twine. I love how festive and colorful Dave’s birthday cards look now . . . I think I’ll leave them up for awhile! ♥

 

Surprise Pillow

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This was a quick and easy T-shirt-to-pillow upcycle, but it was extra fun because the person who gave up the T-shirt (my mother-in-law!) thought that one of her favorite items of clothing was heading for the rag bag due to some spots and tears (luckily not on the parts I wanted to use!) and was SO surprised (and happy!) to see it return in its new form. This pretty design, a combination of applique and embroidery, appeared on the front of the T-shirt. A smaller version appeared on one sleeve, which I cut off and stitched to the corner. Oh, and at the last minute I decided to a-la-mode it a bit with some different sizes and shapes of pastel buttons in the centers of the flowers. Now Vida has a little garden blooming on her sofa! ♥

Mmm . . .

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I’ve had a whole week of Mother’s Day! In fact, the delectable goodies in the photo at the left arrived today. You can read all about them at my favorite cooking blog, Consumed: My Culinary Adventure . . . which happens to be written by our lovely daughter-in-law Danielle.  And, with sweet emails and phone calls added to all the treasures below, you’ll see why I feel spoiled! ♥ 

Fabric Memo Board Plus . . .

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Here’s how I actually used the memo board I made . . . to display the fabric flowers I made for my beautiful daughter-in-law Shannon’s birthday! I had fun trying out lots of different kinds, as detailed below. However, I can’t say that I followed ANY of the directions to a T . . . stitching instead of gluing, trimming a bit here and there, that sort of thing . . . and each one has both a pin and a clip stitched to the back so it’ll work as a-la-mode for either clothes or hair.  Also, purchasing the pattern wasn’t a necessity, since tons of free patterns and tutorials are available online, but I found it for $2.99 (marked down from $18.95, which is crazy!) and it got me off to a good start. I’m definitely hooked on making flowers now!  Oh, and here are links to the bloggers who helped me . . . thank you! ♥

How Joyful

Ruffles and Stuff

The Renegade Seamstress

Kimono Reincarnate

Dresses!

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I had so much fun making maternity sundresses as early birthday gifts for our two mothers-to-be-daughters-in-law! I searched Pinterest for a tutorial and found this super-cute design on the Be Sweet blog. The bodice is a new ruffled lady’s tank, the skirt is refashioned from a new men’s T-shirt, and I added a sash made from a scarf for a little a-la-mode. Happy birthday, girls! ♥

More Burpies

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Remember these blue burpies I posted earlier? (Click here for tutorial.) Well, now I’ve been making pink ones as well. That’s right, we have a grandson AND a granddaughter arriving this summer! I’ll admit that I couldn’t choose among all the cute flannels, though, so I ended up getting WAY too much. Flannel baby quilts may follow soon! ♥

From Hoodie to Tooth Fairy Pillow

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A good way to preserve a favorite item of clothing from a child’s preschool years is to upcycle it into a pillow. For example, with just a bit of embroidery, snipping, stuffing, and stitching, this hoodie turned into something new to cuddle and treasure. ♥

Baby Photo Birthday Cards

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Since kids LOVE to see their baby pictures, I decided to use this idea for a simple homemade birthday card for one of our grandchildren. I printed a photo from my computer, trimmed it, and glued it onto the front of a folded sheet of cardstock, wrote about how cute and sweet and smart and funny he is on the inside, signed it, addressed the envelope, and mailed. Now it’s on its way to Germany . . . Happy Birthday, dear Logan! ♥

P.S. I may try this for other family and friends, too . . . perhaps using a photo of a fun time we’ve shared.

Tangerine!

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Design-her Gals is the best web site ever for creating business cards and other personalized products. I’ve used it for several years for my Edwriter cards, and I’ve never been disappointed. Plus, it’s fun designing your “gal,” they have lots of great sales, and a portion of every purchase goes to the Gal to Gal Foundation for Stage IV breast cancer research. I was intrigued by a recent email from Design-her Gals about the “color of the year” . . . tangerine:

Tangerine combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. Associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics, it represents enthusiasm, creativity, determination, and success. Add a little tangerine to your life this year!

Since this was my new favorite color last spring, I took my camera to my living/dining/kitchen space to see just how many shots of orange I could find. ♥

Fairy Godmother

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This weekend, I got to be a fairy godmother (aka mother-in-law with a sewing machine!) for Christin, who needed a dress for a formal awards banquet. Although she didn’t get to try it on until a few hours before the event . . . and the fitting, altering, and hemming nearly took us to the moment of departure . . . we were both very happy with the end result. Doesn’t she look beautiful? (And thanks, Christin, for being a good sport and  striking a pose for the camera. ♥)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Where we love is home . . . home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. (Oliver W. Holmes)

Disappearing Dip

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I recently read this great dip recipe and decided to try it when a welcome visit from some dear family members resulted in a somewhat impromptu Super Bowl party:

  • 1 brick of cream cheese
  • 1 can of white corn, drained
  • 1 can of Ro-tel, drained

Warm it up in the microwave or a mini-crockpot, and it’s ready. It disappeared fast, which is always a good sign when you’re experimenting with something new. ♥

 

Colorful Jewelry

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Our fun-loving Aunt Vitha on a more elegant occasion

As much as I enjoy crafting, I’ve never made jewelry . . . but I LOVE to wear it, especially colorful pieces like this beautiful bracelet and lovely earrings I received for my birthday. (Thank you T&J and B&D!) I looked up the word “colorful” in the dictionary and found just the definitions I needed for the rest of this post: interesting or exciting; unusual; unconventional. These synonyms describe the woman who REALLY knew how to wear colorful jewelry–my Aunt Vitha. In honor of Kansas Day this month, I thought I’d share her sunflower earrings (our state flower!), along with my other two favorites, the fruit and the solar system. Who knows . . . someday you may see me wearing one of them out to lunch with my girlfriends! ♥

“My Family” Felt Letters

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My first Year of Homemade Gifts project was for a very special little boy about to turn three years old. I was pondering what to make for him one morning and, while spraying my hair, this idea came to me. (I MUST buy more of that hairspray!) He already knows his ABCs and can recognize and name letters, so I thought a fun next step would be to learn how to spell the names of all his family members. Here’s how to make a “My Family” felt letter set:

Supplies:

  • Felt squares, a different color for each name, all cut the same size (Mine were 6.5 x 6.5 inches.)
  • Embroidery floss and needle
  • Fiberfill stuffing and a chopstick to push it into the letters’ crooks and crannies
  • Fabric for a tote bag to hold the finished letters
  • Fabric, ribbon, cord, or bias tape for drawstring
  • Pencil, pins, and scissors

Directions:

(1) Draw block letters on the felt squares, two for each letter.  Be sure to use uppercase for the first letter of the name and lowercase for the other letters . . . a kindergarten teacher will thank you someday!

(2) Stitch the front and back of each letter together using a contrasting color of embroidery floss.

(3) Every few stitches, stop and put in a little stuffing until you make it all the way around.

(4) Cut two large rectangles for the tote bag. (Mine is 18 x 16 inches and holds 19 letters.)

(5) Stitch felt letters spelling “My Family” on the front of one piece of the tote bag fabric.

(6) Put the rectangles together, right sides facing, and stitch the sides and bottom.

(7) Turn down the top and stitch around it, leaving a channel and an opening for the drawstring.

(8) Turn the tote bag right side out and press if needed.

(8) Make a drawstring out of the same fabric, or use ribbon, cording, or bias tape folded and stitched. Fasten a safety pin through one end and thread the drawstring through the channel. Tie ends together.

(9) Put the felt letters into the bag, and give it to a little boy or girl you love! ♥

P.S. Besides spelling the family’s names, children can sort the letters by color, letter, or uppercase/lowercase, spell other small words (my letters also work for Mom, Dad, red, mad, lead, dare, name . . . ), and use them to make up fun new names. How about Myler, Dyan, Rommy, and Taddy? 🙂

“A Kind Lady Lives Here”

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My sister Susan gave me this cat pin several years ago. She said it reminded her of the simple drawings she’d heard about that people left on their gates during the Depression to let the homeless know they could come to their door for food. I loved that story, but I’d never read anything about it until I saw a recent Etsy blog post called “The Secret Symbols of Travelers and Thieves.”  Interesting!

Grandma’s Diaries

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My Grandma Leona recorded her life in Citizens National Bank & Trust Company calendars day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. When she passed away, my parents gave the books to me since I’d always been an avid diary-keeper and lover-of-reading-other-people’s-diaries. Grandma wrote about who came calling, weather, handiwork, baking, errands, appointments, funerals, church activities, the comings and goings of various family members, and holiday gatherings. My sons were still in elementary school when we got them, and the first thing we did was look to see what Grandma wrote on the days they were born:

  • Earl and Faye stopped. Aaron Matthew arrived.
  • To bank and store. To business meeting. Joe’s home. Bradley Nathan was born. 8 lbs. 12 oz.
  • Merle’s to Wichita. Kyle Andrew arrived 6:50 a.m. 8 lbs. 3 1/2 oz.
Grandma had to give up her journaling later in life because of poor eyesight, so I decided to find her last entry, which turned out to be 2/11/91.  It was a school day, so the Kathy who came to visit must have been her neighbor and not me, but my parents and aunt stopped by, too. People who loved her. People she loved. ♥

Organized!

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Like many of you, I started the new year by reorganizing my clothes closet and office/craft room. Everything looked great except that I always left my current sewing project on the chair in the bedroom. Then, I got the perfect birthday gift from my sweet son and daughter-in-law Bradley and Danielle. Here it is, filled with my first “Year of Homemade Gifts” project (post to come!). Don’t you just love the fabric? Now my handiwork sits BESIDE the chair so we can actually sit IN the chair. Thank you, B&D! ♥

Two-Cake Birthday

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We girls know that we’re the ones who magically cause birthday cakes to appear, but those cakes don’t always magically appear for us. Not that we mind . . . no extra calories that way, right? But . . . for my birthday last week I got not one but TWO cakes at a family celebration. My smart and fun sister-in-law Margo made an angel food cake (my favorite!) with lime-green frosting (my favorite color!). And my son and daughter-in-law Aaron and Shannon decorated this delicious cake, of which I indulged in a corner piece with LOTS of frosting. Now, how sweet is that??? ♥

Way Cool Homemade Journal

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When we were kids, our mom often bought us books published by the Whitman Company of Racine, WI. Some were classics, like Fifty Famous Fairy Tales or Little Women (which I read over and over again, wanting to be Jo when I grew up and secretly hoping that maybe . . . this time . . . Beth wouldn’t die). Others were based on popular fictional characters or real-life singers and actors. I still have a few of them, and now I have a treasure from my sister Susan, who found this journal made from the cover of a Donna Parker book that we used to have and filled with blank paper. I LOVE it! ♥

Christmas Card Tree

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In order to make space for the Christmas tree in the living room, I move my big plant to a corner of the bedroom. Then I decorate it with Christmas cards made through the years by our amazing daughter-in-law Shannon! This year, I’m also adding pillow ornaments as I finish them. Our card tree makes me smile every time I walk into the room! ♥

It’s Snowing On My Blog!

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Being a new blogger, I just discovered that WordPress offers snow on our blogs from early December through early January! I know I’m easily amused, but I LOVE this! It also makes the perfect backdrop for my posts on Homemade=Love: Holiday Style, which today features these adorable snowman glasses painted by our lovely and talented daughter-in-law Tiffany. ♥

The Gift-Guessing Kid

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Aaron and Shannon

Growing up, Aaron always had a hobby that he engaged in 200%. (He still does!) For example, when he was ten or so, he started building model rockets, then started designing them, then won a national design contest for his age group with Estes Rockets. Somewhere along the line, he had a bunch of catalogs and circled all the rocket kits he hoped to get for Christmas. Supportive mother that I am :), I chose several, bought them, wrapped them, and put them under the Christmas tree.

One day, Aaron came into the kitchen and thanked me for all the kits he was going to get for Christmas by name. I was stumped! How did he know which ones I’d picked? When I questioned him further, he pointed out that all the entries in the catalog listed dimensions and weights for the kits, so all he had to do was measure and weigh the packages to know which ones were there. Smarty-pants!  But being fooled came in very handy years later when I needed to write a funny Reader’s Theater script. Thanks, Aaron!

Mini Bolster Pillows? No . . . Cinnamon Roll-Ups!

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Because you can make this recipe ahead, freeze it, and bake a few at a time, it’s perfect for holiday houseguests as well as book club, finger-food parties, and any other occasion that calls for a sweet treat. Click on the recipe for a printable page. Enjoy! ♥  P.S. I use wheat bread.

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving …

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If you really want to know someone, go to his house and eat with him…
people who share their food share their heart.  (Cesar Chavez)
 
 
Yay . . . our kids are on their way! Tonight’s meal will be simple so we can relax, chat, laugh, and play before tomorrow’s big day:
sloppy joes
salad
corn on the cob
deviled eggs
brownies and ice cream
But I’m bumping up the brownies a bit with a trick I recently read in a magazine: Make your regular recipe. Pour half into the greased pan. Lay peppermint patties over the batter. Pour the rest of the batter on top, then bake as usual. Reviews to come! ♥
 
 

Thanksgiving Memories

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Thanksgiving is the big holiday around our house. We love having our kids, grandchildren, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and friends join us. Besides catching up on each others’ lives and eating (alot!), we usually end up doing something crafty in the afternoon. Last  year it was playdough! I’m including my no-fail recipe for homemade dough, which got us through hundreds of rainy days and school projects through the years, but our guests made the ones in the gallery below with a 24-pack of the storebought brand.

Homemade Playdough: Mix 1 cup flour, ½ cup salt, 1 cup water, 2 t cream of tarter, 1 T cooking oil, and a few drops of food coloring in a pan. Cook on top of the stove, stirring constantly, until everything pulls together. Dump onto counter and knead. Store in covered container. ♥

Tea Towels (Literally!)

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When my mother-in-law Vida gave me a big box of fabric and notions, I discovered a hidden treasure . . . a set of tea towels all stamped and ready for embroidery, each with a different teapot pattern. Although Dave and I are mostly coffee drinkers, I love our small collection of teapots handed down from family members, so I had a lot of fun choosing the floss colors to use for this project. Here they are . . . one for each day of the week. ♥

Musical Pillows

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When I was in kindergarten, I got a toy xylophone for Christmas. I LOVED that thing and played it nonstop.  Soon, my parents enrolled me in piano lessons  . . . probably so they could take the xylophone away! 🙂

Long story short, piano grew to be a huge part of my life. I was even able to make a living accompanying, teaching piano lessons, and playing for weddings when I went to college to get a teaching degree, so THANK YOU, Dad and Mom! ♥

I made this pillow with embroidery a-la-mode in honor of the little music book that came with my xylophone, which has colored notes matched to the colors of the bars.  The finished size is 12 x 12.

Autumn Walks

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I saw the gorgeous flowers in the first photograph below a couple of weeks ago in front of a church where I attended a meeting. I love spring flowers, but those that hang on until autumn are my heroes!  They inspired me to photograph the flowers and plants in our yard (all thanks to Dave ♥) and to take special note of the color in our neighborhood when going for my walk. Being a city girl now, I don’t see much wildlife while I’m trekking anymore, but my sister does . . . you should check out the beautiful photographs on her walking blog!

Procrastination

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My mother was an amazing artist, and she loved creating, but she freely admitted how hard it was to make herself get started most days. Even though throwing a pot or weaving a shawl was much more satisfying than, say, folding the laundry, the laundry often won out because it didn’t require the intense mental and emotional energy that creating art does. Even some of the strategies artists use to make their time and space more conducive to working can become just that . . . time spent creating the perfect work station instead of time creating the art itself. Lucky for us, she was often able to overcome her resistance. A picture I now cherish is this watercolor of the farmhouse where we grew up. I was really glad I didn’t have to wrestle my brother and sister for it! 🙂

Now that I’m a writer, I struggle with the same problem sometimes. I find that a straightforward assignment such as “write teacher’s guides for this new series of books” isn’t nearly as problematic as a highly creative project like “write a book for third graders about a child who uses an object to solve a problem” (which turned out to be Baby Song, my favorite book . . . ironic, huh?) Actually, the begin . . . the rest is easy sign in my office is my best motivation, because once I get started it’s really not that hard to get into the “zone.” And, for some reason, I NEVER have this issue when I’m getting ready to sew! Anyway, if you ever suffer from procrastination, I think you’ll enjoy the video below as much as I do. I know my mom would have loved it!

P.S. I was going to write this post a long time ago, but I kept putting it off.

Homemade = Love

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“Taking the time to create something by hand is the highest honor you can give any one thing.”

(Sara Carter in notthekitchensink)

I love walking through the rooms of our home and taking a moment to notice all the fun and beautiful things our family and friends have created. Here are a dozen  . . . more to come in future posts!

Lydia is the lovely, fun mother of our beautiful daughter-in-law Danielle. The first time I met Lydia, she gave me this gorgeous scarf she’d knitted from variegated green ribbon. I love it and wear it often!  
Our adorable granddaughter Miranda drew this picture of Dave and me that hangs on our frig. I love how petite I look . . . Dave can lift me with one hand! 🙂  
Greg painted this landscape in college. We’ve always loved it, and it’s perfect in the entryway of our “new” home.  
My mom quilted this festive table topper, which I love to put on the coffee table when I get out the autumn decorations.  
One of my second-graders, Shy’ann, drew these pictures of Dave and me after Dave started volunteering in our classroom. She was pretty excited to know that I framed them and put them on top of my frig!  
I LOVE this basket created by our amazing art-teacher daughter-in-law Tiffany. And I’m not the only one to admire it! The last time Ally and I were making crafts, she got it off the counter and said, “Now I want to make one of THESE!” 🙂  
Our little Tyler made these great coasters for us last Christmas . . . with a “little” help from his sweet mom Jen.  
Our lovely daughter-in-law Vickie painted this beautiful picture for me. She is definitely a woman of many talents!  
Our lovely daughter-in-law Mary Ann has a delightful and talented mom and dad who made these one-of-a-kind birds out of stones and driftwood they found along Lake Erie and gave them out to all the guests at Mary Ann and Joel’s wedding reception. Can’t you just tell what they’re thinking?  
Our adorable granddaughters Allyson and Kira made this colorful plate for me for Mother’s Day. I always put it out the first day of spring!  
My friend Kelly made this beautiful bracelet for me when we taught together at Frances Willard Elementary School. It goes with everything, and I wear it all the time.  
My brother David took this photo in Galveston. He’s amazing!  

 

 

I Love Lists!

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Breanna’s List

One of my all-time favorite quotes is by Robert Frost: “We can make a little order where we are, and then the big sweep of history on which we can have no effect doesn’t overwhelm us. We do it with colors, with a garden, with the furnishings of a room, or with sounds and words. We make a little form, and we gain composure.” 

I think this concept  of avoiding overwhelm is why so many people I know are addicted to making lists. Somehow, putting tasks and ideas on paper makes them seem more manageable as well as allowing our brains to concentrate on more fun and creative pursuits. Even this blog is a type of list . . . once I post about a pillow I make, I can freely part with it and move on to the next project. I also love this fun article in Real Simple magazine that has a historical, literary twist on the topic of lists.

The list at right was created by our adorable granddaughter Breanna the evening before school started. I always knew we were kindred spirits! ♥

    • Wake up
    • Make bed
    • Clean up
    • Eat
    • Brush teeth
    • Pick out what to wear
    • Do hair
    • Get backpack
    • Kiss Mama and J.B. (her photo of Justin Beiber, of course! :))
    • Walk to school

Bedtime Prayers

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Talking about pillows made me think of bedtime prayers. When I asked Dave if he prayed beside his bed as a child, I found out that he said the same traditional Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep that I said with my mom, dad, brother, and sister.  I’m happy that the last two lines of today’s version are a little cheerier than they were back in those days  . . . May angels watch me through the night, and wake me with the morning light. ♥

Now that I’m a grown-up (most of the time!), my favorite bedtime prayer is “For Those We Love” from The Book of Common Prayer. While looking for an online version to use as a link, I discovered that this prayer is also used in the Prayer Shawl Ministry, an international movement of knitters and crocheters who meet to create shawls for people undergoing illnesses and other life difficulties. Here is a photo of the Prayer Shawl Ministry ladies working at my church . . . I hope to join them someday!

Creamy Chicken Pillows

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I took the liberty of renaming this recipe since (a) I love pillows and (b) these look like pillows when they’re done. But that may be a bit impertinent since it won $25,000!!! dollars in the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1974! And yes, that’s the year I tore it out of a magazine, and here’s the page! This recipe has been a family favorite ever since. You can make the filling ahead of time, so it’s great when company is coming, too. Enjoy! 

Preheat oven to 350º.

Blend 1 package cream cheese (the recipe calls for a 3-oz pkg but I use the bigger one) and 2 T melted butter.

 Add 2 cups cooked, cubed chicken, 1/4 t salt, 1/8 t pepper, 2 T milk, 1 T chopped chives or onion, and 1 T chopped pimiento or roasted red peppers (I also add a pinch of tarragon sometimes); mix well.

Separate a can of crescent dinner rolls into four rectangles and seal perforations. Spoon 1/4 of the chicken mixture onto each, pull up the four corners of dough, and seal. Brush tops with 1T melted butter.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Refrigerate any leftovers. (Ummm . . . but you won’t have any!)

Now I invite you to visit my all-time-favorite cooking blog Consumed: My Culinary Adventure, created by my beautiful (and newest!) daughter-in-law Danielle. Be prepared to swoon! 🙂

French Knots

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I love the line vs. floral contrast of these fabrics, but I decided to a-la-mode the front a bit with cross-stitch and French knots. I never could get the hang of French knots when my grandmother tried to teach me. I’d say, “Would you show me one more time?” until I was done. Now I think they’re fun!  The finished size of this pillow is 8.5 x 15.

Sweater Weather

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I L-O-V-E fall . . . especially getting out my sweaters! I was going to post a photo of all my cardigans, but it’s a little embarrassing to admit that I own that many of anything! At least I know what to do now when one of them develops an unmendable hole or snag, like this favorite. Luckily, the top front and a section of the back were still in perfect shape. Plus, it’s still soft and comfy! The finished pillow is 12 x 12.

And what else comes with sweater weather? Chili! I always love that first bowl every October, and this year’s was extra-special because Dave made it. ♥ His original recipe has only three ingredients–a seasoned pork loin, 2 cans of Bush’s Black Bean Fiesta Grillin’ Beans,  and 2 cans of peeled, diced, “Chili Ready” tomatoes. Served with fresh apple slices and macaroni salad, it made a perfect autumn meal.

 

Breakfast and Doll Pillows

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We love meeting Kyle, Christin, Allyson, and Kira for breakfast at Carriage Crossing in Yoder on a Saturday morning! Last time I asked the girls to bring some of the doll pillows we’ve made together and tell you how to make them, and they sweetly obliged. ♥

(1) Get a square of felt. (2) Put it in a hoop. (3) Get a long needle that’s not too sharp. (4) Get your favorite color of yarn and make some stitches. Don’t poke yourself! (5) Keep changing colors. (6) Give your design to Grandma so she can sew it to another square on three sides. (7) Turn the pillow right-side out. (8) Stuff it! (9) Ask Grandma to sew the last side shut. (10)You’re done!

 

 

Pillows!

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Welcome to PILLOWS A-LA-MODE, a blog about my new hobby–designing and sewing pillows.  Why do I need a new pasttime? When I was an elementary teacher, my hobby was writing children’s books, but now I get to write all day for Benchmark Education Company in New York. I work from home where I live with my walking-encyclopedia husband Dave, who sweetly puts up with all my quirks and whims and where we love to entertain our big family while embracing the motto “The more, the merrier!”

My grandmother taught me to sew and embroider when I was young. I’ll always remember the many happy hours we spent together and all the wisdom she imparted not only about our projects, but about life. When she passed away, I inherited all of her fabrics, threads, flosses, and now-vintage buttons. My mother inspired me, too. She made a beautiful quilt for me when I (finally!) graduated from college, but her favorite medium was painting. Then it was my sister and best friend Susan, a musician, quilter, photographer, baker, and storyteller. Today I’m blessed to have seven daughters-in-law who never cease to amaze me with their creativity . . . scrapbooking, cardmaking, photography, painting, pottery, cake decorating, interior decorating, quilting, cooking, writing, designing birthday parties for our adorable grandchildren, and much, much, more. And I mustn’t forget my dad, who gave me my first sewing machine (the one I still use!), drove us to 4-H meetings and the county fair to make and display our projects, made it possible for me to pursue my love of piano, and reads my books. Dad, by the way, lives an innovative life himself . . . but that’s another story for another day.

Pillow Pillow

One of the reasons I enjoy making pillows is that I can simply browse through my stash, put this and that together, and come up with a one-of-a-kind creation. I also love to upcycle things like vintage clothing and table linens into pillows. And, of course, I’m always excited when I find intriguing remnants and decorative items in the clearance aisles of my favorite stores!

I call this one “Pillow Pillow.” I found the stamped mini pillowcase in a bargain bin at Michaels, cut it out close to the edges, and appliqued it onto a piece of pink polka-dotted fabric from my collection. The finished cushion is 14×14.

Besides sharing my pillows, I hope to post some recipes (“Chicken Pillows” coming soon!), kids’ crafts, sewing and decorating ideas, and general chatter.  Thank you for visiting, and please come back again!