Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011
I know I've been pretty MIA this month.  I hope you all are having a wonderful Holiday season.  Amidst the craziness of the season- I hope you are also filled with love and hope and peace.
I won't be posting again until the new year- I'm going to take some time to just focus on and enjoy my family and the holidays.  Thank you so much for an amazing year- and looking forward to another incredible year to come!
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
XOXO,
Amy

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jolly Holiday Pillow

Thursday, December 8, 2011
Haul Out the Holly,Gwenny Penny,Christmas tutorials 
It's my turn to post as part of Gwen's Haul Out The Holly event.  There have been some amazing projects done already, and I feel very lucky to be a part of it again this year.  If you are visiting from Gwenny Penny- Welcome!  I am delighted to have you. :)
It's probably no surprise to any of you who come here often, that the project I chose was a pillow. :)  I love pillows because they are fast, inexpensive and fun to try new techniques on.
Initially I planned to create a grid using buttons with a cute Christmas fabric border.  In the search for the right fabric, I found this fat quarter I had purchased and suddenly a new plan was hatched.  I decided to make my grid using felt embellishments pulled from the fabric itself. (the fabric is Ornaments in White in the Sleigh Ride collection by Caleb Gray)  Since your fabric is likely different from the one I chose, I'm not going to go into specifics about how I created each embellishment, but I will show you close ups of a few of them:
I did a lot of hand stitching on them, but you could easily use glue instead. (It would be MUCH faster)
Once your embellishments are made, we're ready to start creating the pillow.  For this 16" pillow I used 3 fat quarters and a scrap of muslin that was 10 1/2" square.  You will also need some quilt batting cut 16 1/2" if you want the quilted look I created.
First off let's cut the fabric:
10 1/2"X10 1/2" square of muslin, Red fabric border: (2) 1"X10 1/2", (2) 1" X 11 1/2"; Main fabric: (2) 3"X 11 1/2", (2) 3" X 16 1/2"
Now let's get sewing:
Take the two short red border strips and sew them on opposite sides of the muslin square.  (through the whole project we will be using a 1/4" seam allowance)
Press the seams toward the red border.  (this fabric strip is thin so you will want to make sure you don't stretch the fabric)
Take the longer red strips and pin to the remaining two sides.  Sew down.
Repeat with the accent fabric.  Again press the seam allowance toward the red border.  Add remaining sides and you have a finished front.  Well, almost.  Now we need to add the accents.  Typically I just eyeball spacing on things, but I figured you  might not be that laid back. ;)  The center square measures 10" so I measured the center point and went out from there.  I knew I wanted to hand quilt the border around the embellishments, so I wanted to go ahead and draw my circles for that before I added the embellishments (I used a water soluble marker).
You can see the arrow pointing to the center dot where an embellishment will be placed.  To make sure the traced circle was centered, I took a paper circle the size I wanted, folded it in quarters and punched a hole in the center.
I used that to find the center dot and traced around the template.
Here's the front all ready for embellishments.  I wanted the embellishments to have a quilted look to them so I put the batting behind the front panel before I added them.  I used embroidery floss and stitched them down around the border using 2 strands.  For the hand quilting border I used 4 strands of floss.  
I didn't have a large embroidery hoop (note to self, BUY ONE!) so I just basted the dickens out of the front panel before I did the stitching.  Once the embellishments and quilting are done- we need RUFFLES!
Take your ruffle fabric and cut it into 3" strips. (I used a fat quarter so I ended up with 6 strips)
Sew all the ends of the strips together forming one large circle, press the seams open and press the whole strip in half along the length.  Fold in quarters and finger press each fold- mark with a pin.
(make sure that there aren't seams at the folds, if there are, adjust the folds a bit so the seams fall along the edges)  At this point you can sew a running stitch along the raw edges and ruffle the fabric, but I decided I wanted the look of more of a pleat than a ruffle so I just chose to fold under pleats as I sewed the fabric down along the edges. (use a scant 1/4" seam to do this)
All that's left is the back.  I chose to use the left over pieces of my remaining fat quarters, so I have two different panels.  Cut each panel to 16 1/2" long.  Finish one long side of both panels with a 1/2" hem.  
Place the panel you want on the OUTSIDE - right side down on the front panel, line up the un-hemmed side.
Place the remaining panel down, lining up all the edges.  Sew around all four sides using a generous 1/4" seam allowance.  All that's left is clipping the corners and turning right side out.  At some point you will need to spray the front with water to dissolve the pen markings (don't soak the fabric, just a light spritz will do). Stuff with a pillow form and step back and enjoy.

And now you're set to have a Jolly Holiday!
Thanks again, Gwen, for having me in this year's event.  I can't wait to see what the rest of the celebration holds.
XOXO,
Amy
Linked up to Friday Flair Link Party at Whipperberry

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas goings on {a Mom-day post}

Monday, December 5, 2011
I am still in the thick of it, friends.  7 Nativity sets of figurines need legs, one set of elves is missing theirs, and 9 sets of blocks are waiting for paper, letters and topcoats.  I was hoping Saturday would be the end of it, but alas, it was not to be.  Above you will see a sneak peek of the skirt tutorial I am finishing up (it will be posted on Friday- so watch for it!) and this week it's my turn to participate in Gwen's Haul out the Holly event (if you haven't seen what she has going on over there, you should really check it out.  There have been some FANTASTIC projects submitted already- like these love where you live ornaments from Chris and Andi's fabulous sparkly bowl filler ornaments)  There is a list of gifts I need to make, one last custom order of figurines and blocks for my Aunt, and then just keeping everyone happy and staying on top of our family countdown (you can read about here).  Plus housework- oh wait, I haven't done housework in weeks- well there's the guilt from NOT doing housework. 
I am so grateful to be busy.  Grateful for the slew of orders that makes it possible for us to make at least one wish for each of our children come true without severely damaging out budget.  But I'm also grateful for reminders this past week that Christmas is about celebrating Christ and that simplifying or eliminating some of our traditions to enable us to slow down and really think about and worship Him, well, it just isn't the tragedy I might at times make it out to be.
I hope you and your families are enjoying a wonderful holiday season, full of love, hope and peace.
I'll see you soon.
XOXO,
Amy

Friday, December 2, 2011

Guest Posting at Sumo's Sweet Stuff

Friday, December 2, 2011
Hi friends!  Today I'm over at Sumo's Sweet Stuff sharing one of my family's favorite Christmas traditions.  It's our version of an advent and it's lots of fun, I hope you'll hop over and take a peek!
See you soon!
xoxo,
Amy

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Currently in progress

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
 This is the mock up I made of the skirt tutorial I am in the process of writing.  Hopefully it will be done this evening. (to be posted on another blog- I'll let you know as soon as it's up)
I kept feeling that I needed to make a nativity set of figurines.  The baby Jesus comes out of the manger (my 2 year old loves this feature) and they sit on blocks that read "Silent Night".  I'm pretty happy with the results.  I am in the process of making up some sets for sale.  Let me know if you're interested.  Hopefully these last sets of figurines will be the end of my production for the season.  I'm ready to relax and enjoy my family and the season and some creativity that's just for the fun of it. :)
Hope you're having a wonderful Tuesday!
xoxo,
Amy

Monday, November 28, 2011

Finding the Joy {Monday is Mom-day}

Monday, November 28, 2011
Sorry about the blurry photo, he's doing his Touchdown Dance. :)
I have another blog.  A family blog. (don't bother clicking over, it hasn't been updated in a year ;) )  I mention it because I named the blog Finding Joy.  With a subtitle that reads- "And if you can't find it, Make it!"

Motherhood is hard.  I think we've covered that fact plenty in the last few Mom-day posts.  I won't stop doing the "man this really isn't what I thought I was signing up for" posts, because I feel like blog-land needs a lot more of reality thrown in.  But, I also wanted to make sure that I don't become a voice of negativity and a major downer when it comes to talking about motherhood in general, and my personal experience in particular. 

The reality is that I love being a mother.  I love these smiles, and dimples (all my kids have them) and hugs and laughter.  I love watching them learn and grow and achieve things that were hard at one point for them.  I love when they call "meetings" in my daughter's room to discuss what they're going to do next.  I love watching my son get a wet rag to wipe the chocolate off my daughter's face.

Motherhood is hard, but it is also joyous.  Sometimes, it's just a matter of looking for the Joy.  And other times it's about Making the joy happen.  The fact of the matter is that motherhood wouldn't be so rewarding if it wasn't so hard.
So excited for cub scouts!
So my challenge is to take a moment each day to just find a bit of joy.  In the smile of your brand new cub scout, in the sticky hug of a 2 year old, in the touchdown dance of your 4 year old or the excitement of your 10 year old who just scored the highest on her test.  To really look for those moments, and then to stop- and take it in, and smile, and know that it's all been worth it for this very moment.

Happy Mom-day!
XOXO,
Amy

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monster Buddies

Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Made this little lady yesterday morning.  My sister needed a baby shower gift so she asked me to make a monster for her.
A couple of weeks ago I needed to come up with a gift for my 1 year old nephew.  It came to me the morning of the party that I could just make him a softie- a monster one to be exact.  I googled some different tutorials to see suggestions for assembly and then just went for it.  I posted it on Facebook and my comment was- "Sometimes it's nice to have a craft store in the basement!" :)
I have been collecting remnants and different textured fabrics from the clearance section of Joann's for a while- so I have all kinds of fluffy fleeces, textured velvets and felt in my stash- and they sure come in handy for a project like this.
Even the second one came completely from my stash and I know I'm making at least one more for a Christmas gift for my 14 year old nephew.  Yes you read that right- he's 14 and when he saw his cousin's he said he wanted one too.  Ask and ye shall receive. :)
They make good buddies.  I think she might need one too. :)
Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving.  I am NOT black Friday shopping for the first time in more than a decade and I'm suffering withdrawls already. :(  Go score a deal for me will you?
Talk to you soon.
XOXO,
Amy

Friday, November 18, 2011

Point of View Reveal- Gifts

Friday, November 18, 2011
I was pretty excited for this month's theme for Point of View.  It's not very often that I get a jump start on getting gifts crossed off my list.  But I think it backfired on me because looking at the awesome projects on the collage, I'm thinking that now I have to make many more gifts. :)
Are you interested in finding out more about these projects?  Click on the links below to find more details:
Michelle's adorable doughnut snowman at A Little Tipsy
Leanne from Organize and Decorate everything has a great idea for personalizing napkins.
Me- scroll down
Gwen has a tutorial for these adorable fleece hats at Gwenny Penny
Debra from Housewife Eclectic- one of our Guest posters for the month (please head over and give her some love)- has a gift with a secret- go check out what it is.
Caitlin from Cait Create  (another guest that we are so excited to have- please say hi to her) Has an inexpensive but lovely gift that would be great to keep on hand for those unexpected moments when you need something to give.
Jonie from Just Between Friends is back from having a new baby and we are so glad to have her!  Angry birds are a big hit at our house, I think this one is going on my to make list for sure. :)
Now- on to the full disclosure of my project:

I am all about cute handmade gifts, but even more about gifts that have a catchy saying to go with them.  For instance one of my favorite neighbor gifts I have ever received is a can of chili and a 2-liter of root beer with a tag that said "Have a Rootin' Tootin' Christmas!"  I still laugh about it. :)  So when I saw these cute dishtowels (made even cuter with some fabric scraps) at IKEA for $.49 I knew I would love to use them as gifts for my friends, but that it needed a cute card or saying to go with it to complete the effect.  So I came up with this:

In case it's hard to read it says: "A good friend sees you through the messes in life.  A better friend stays and helps you clean up!  Thank you for being the best kind of friend"  It would be cute to use this quote with some great cleaning supplies, hand knit or crocheted dishcloths or anything else along those lines.
For a quick and dirty tutorial on how I embellished the towels:
I used Heat n Bond lite (the sewable kind) because I know they are going to get a lot of use at my house so I wanted to sew them down.  To make this a no sew project just use the regular Heat n Bond that doesn't require sewing- it can still be washed but you won't want to use it as heavily.

Trace your shape on the wrong side of the heat n bond (the paper side), if your shape is directional, you will want to trace the reverse image.  Iron the heat n bond to the wrong side of your fabric (follow manufacturers instructions).  Cut out shape and arrange on fabric, remove paper backing and iron down.  If you are using heat n bond lite you will want to stitch down the fabric.  I used a decorative blanket stitch on mine.
Package it up and you have a cute, custom and inexpensive gift to give friends, neighbors, sisters- everyone! :)  You don't have to make these seasonal, you could choose fabrics that match the recipient's decor, monogram them or just keep them simple- the possibilities are endless.
Now it's your turn.  What gifts have you come up with?  Remember they can be new or old, your own ideas or someone else's you've implemented yourself.  Just come party with us and let your Point of View be heard.  You can join the fun at Leann's blog here.
We will be taking December off from Point of View and resuming in January so watch for announcements about upcoming themes and dates, and as always, we love having guests participate with us, so if you'd like to join in the fun leave a comment or e-mail any of the POV blogs and let us know, we'll get you on our list. :)
Have a great Friday!
xoxo,
Amy
p.s. Am I the only one slightly panicked that next week is Thanksgiving?  I have SO much to do! :) monogramhttp://i745.photobucket.com/albums/xx93/SaSites/freeforallfriday1.jpg" />

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Juggler {A Mom-day Post}

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I just had to throw in a Halloween shot because they're awesome!
I have been wanting to write this post for a while, but I'm not sure how to do it without sounding holier-than-thou, or condescending or judgmental.  So as you read, please keep in mind that I am sharing my opinion and life decisions only- and not making a commentary on the decisions anyone else is making in their own lives. :)
I have always known that I wanted to be a mother.  I wanted to stay at home and raise children and take care of my house and bake cookies and be happy.  And I wanted to be a doctor.  And get my M.D. PhD. and study diseases at the CDC.  And be a geneticist.  And maybe teach school too.
When it came time to take the MCAT (the entrance exam for medical school) I sat in the big auditorium looking at all the people around me and their intensity.  They wanted this so badly, most of them.  In fact, when the guy a couple seats down from me dropped his pencil mid test- he would have been dead many times over if looks could kill.  It was in that moment that I realized I didn't want it as badly as most of them- my heart was really someplace else- it was in my future home with my as yet unborn children.
Fast forward a few years.  I met my husband, we got married, moved into a home and decided to have children.  It was scary.  I quit my job only to take it back again a year later when money was tight.  I worked 20-30 hours a week between the hours of 4 pm and 2 a.m.   With now 2 children who would wake up at 6 a.m. it was hard.  I wasn't a very good mother but we thought we needed the money.  I quit my job.
Move ahead a few more years.  A couple of moves and two more children and we find ourselves in our current house.  Inaccurate estimates on our mortgage left us tighter than we thought we'd be in this house, add to that a recession and a husband who works for a GM dealership and you find things are pretty tight financially.  Going back to work is the obvious choice.  I have a degree and technical skills that would provide a pretty decent income.  It would not be easy, but it would sure help in the money department.
I fight to hang on to the lessons I learned all those years ago, to remember where my heart really is.
Someone once told me that I was lucky to be a stay at home mother.  And I am.  But it's not because my husband makes so much money that I am able to be here.  We are fighting tooth and nail to keep me here.  We give up a lot of things to make it possible for me to remain the full time mother.  I work harder now than I have ever worked at any other point in my life.  I am the full time mom, plus I make things to sell to supplement our family income, and I have this blog, which keeps me sane and gives me a place to escape, if only for a moment, the incredible pressure of life.
I read this article yesterday and it resounded with me so strongly.  The work ball will bounce (in this case the blogging/crafty making and selling) but the family ball, especially while my children are still so young and needy, must be guarded at all costs.  I am striving mightily to keep all of them in the air, but there are times I admit to needing to let something go, if only for a moment.  And lately that has been my blog.
So, this is not a goodbye, but a hello again!  Now that my boutique is over and the pressure is off in the major production category, I look forward to creating just for fun.  To inspire and be inspired and share in the love and fun that is the online craft blogging community.  So I hope you'll be patient just a bit longer as I stretch my creative legs and start ramping up the projects- I'm ready to play.  But I also hope you'll understand if I (or any other mother who also blogs) fails to put posting any higher on the priority list.  I love you all and you hold such a special place in my life and my heart.  But I have a big responsibility, one only I can do, and I am striving to keep it first.
XOXO,
Amy

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gratitude

Friday, November 11, 2011
You are still here.  Still reading.  Still following.  I could not be more grateful.  I am surrounded by kind, supportive and loving people who lift me up and encourage me and help me be more than I could be without them.
Thank you to you all.  We are nearing the home stretch.  My fingers ache and my hands go numb if I put too much pressure on them because they are so swollen.  I was up until 2 a.m. throwing together more totes for the boutique- but through it all I am blessed beyond words.  I wish I could give each of you a treasure to show you how much you mean to me- but since words are all I can afford ;) here they are:
THANK YOU!!
And I love you!
The end.
xoxo,
Amy

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Point of View Burlap Feature

Sunday, November 6, 2011
Isn't this absolutely gorgeous?  Cath from Avery and Winslow created it!  Then she linked it up to the Burlap Point of View reveal.  I never would have thought to use burlap as a canvas- but I am absolutely loving the texture it adds to this fantastic needle art.  Just amazing!  For more details on how she did it- go to her post here.
I am thinking that my new craft room is going to need something just like this.  Thanks for the inspiration Cath!
xoxo,
Amy
p.s. only one more week of boutique craziness.  thank you for bearing with me. I love you all. xoxo

Monday, October 31, 2011

Let's Talk Turkeys

Monday, October 31, 2011
I am in the process of finishing up an order for some Thanksgiving blocks and figurines.  This involves making turkeys.  Lots and lots of turkeys.  This brings me to my question.  Do you like the tall feathers or the short feathers?  I have typically made the turkey feathers tall, but this year I decided to experiment with shorter feathers- and I think I quite like the look of it.  I would love your opinion:
Tall
Or Short?
I will probably end up making some of each, but I'd like to know if there is a trend toward one style or the other.
And here is the whole Thanksgiving crew.  You can see that one couple is still missing their legs, but over all I think they're pretty cute.  The blocks they sit on say "Gobble Gobble", but I may make a set or two that say "Happy Thanksgiving" because with the addition of the turkeys- the set is quite large.
And since we're taking about giving thanks- can I just say that I'm thankful Halloween is over and I can move on to the next fire in my life? :)  
Just keep swimming.....

XOXO,
Amy

Friday, October 28, 2011

Point of View Reveal- Burlap

Friday, October 28, 2011
The collage this month is just awesome.  Camilla is the genius behind each of our collages each month and she does an amazing job each time! :)
When thinking about burlap, the possibilities are endless- and a glance over the variety of projects in our Point of View reveal this month is a good example.  See something that catches your eye?  Check out one or more of the projects by clicking on the links below:
Leanne at Organize and Decorate Everything
Gwen at Gwenny Penny
Angie (our awesome guest poster- Please show her some comment love!) from The Country Chic Cottage
Camilla from Rosy Red Buttons
Amy (don't go anywhere)
Michelle at A Little Tipsy
I went to the launch of Amanda Herrings' new fabric line- Delighted for Riley Blake last week.  The samples she had made up were amazing!  One of my favorite things was the banner lined with burlap and topped with quilted pennants.  The contrast between the quilter weight cotton and the burlap was terrific and inspired my project this week!
Want to make your own burlap centered accent flower?  I'm here to help. :)

This tutorial is pretty simple- you can adjust the size of the flower by changing the size of the circle you use.  I am using a charm pack of Gobble Gobble from Moda that I had on hand, so I chose a circle that would fit on the 5" square.
1.  Trace your circle on the wrong side of the fabric.  2.  Cut out the circle with pinking shears (this will save you needing to clip the curves later)  3.  Fold in half and sew along the outer edge.  4.  Using sharp scissors, cut along the folded straight edge.  Make an approx 1" hole.
Next you will need to turn the petal right-side out.  (repeat for all five petals)
Sew a gather stitch (long running stitch) along the straight edge of the petal and gather.
I lined my burlap with a scrap of natural colored cotton.  Cut out a circle the same size as the petals and run a gathering stitch around the edge.
Pull the gather stitches to make a pouch and  put a small amount of fiber fill inside- tie it off so it's closed.
To make the flower I just used some pearl cotton and a running stitch to sew the petals onto the center.  Depending on what you're going to use the flower for, you can finish the back of the flower with felt, paper or another center to make it double sided.

On this tote- I sewed the flower directly onto the bag.  I think it makes a fun accent to this girly bag- and the contrast with the burlap really makes the cotton fabrics stand out.
What would you use these flowers for?
So, now you've seen my Point of View on burlap- what's yours?  Visit Michelle's blog at A Little Tipsy to link up your projects that use burlap and get your Point of View heard! :)
XOXO,
Amy
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