October 24, 2009

Freaking Cute Fairies

My nieces' (on Jesse's side of the family) birthdays happen during the months of October and November. They will be 3 and 2, respectively. I've been dreaming up plans as to what to make for them for a little while. I want to make it special, but not over the top, you know?

One day the idea just came to me . . . toddlers like to dress up, right? So, I decided to make things that could add to their dress-up collection - hopefully to be used over the next year. Or as long as they will fit.

I saw this skirt that was posted awhile ago and thought of my older niece immediately. She is the sweet, slender, princess, drama-queen type. Perfect for fairy goodness.

I have another idea for my other niece's birthday, but I will post about that separately when it's completed (sometime in November).

So, within a week of deciding what to make for Reagan's birthday, my sister-in-law calls me. She asks if I would be willing to make fairy costumes for the girls for Halloween this year. What? Why of course. I happened to be planning on making one for Reagan already. So, I rearranged plans a little and decided to give them both presents on each others' birthdays. That way I can still give them fairy costumes for Reagan's birthday and then I can give gifts again on Peyton's birthday in November.

The skirts were so simple that I recommend them to any mom who has a girl. Seriously, you can buy the supplies for about $5 and complete the project in 30-45 minutes. It's so fun! Here they are. Pink for Reagan. Purple for Peyton.

The wings were another story. I swear they shouldn't have required that much brain power. But, my goodness. I racked my brain real hard over those. I got some cable at Lowe's hoping that they will survive several episodes of the girls' trying them on and throwing them on the floor. Who knows - but I tried. I used floral wire and floral tape to hold the cable together, and then I wrapped them in tulle. That was probably my mistake - the tulle. I should have used something stretchy. Nonetheless, it worked with enough hot glue and enough jewels to cover the glue spots.

Here's Reagan in her costume. (Peyton was napping . . . hopefully I can get more pictures to post when they wear them on Halloween.)

Here are two pictures from Halloween (taken by Rachael's sister-in-law).

Pretty freaking cute little fairies, wouldn't you say?

October 23, 2009

Hooked on Apple Butter

I've been thinking about apple butter for awhile . . . like months. I'm not exactly sure what prompted it, but it hasn't gone away. Maybe it started when I made the strawberry jam, I'm not sure.

Apple butter makes me think of my Grandma 'Kowski. She always had a jar of it on hand . . . as well as old fashioned donuts, tin roof sundae and butter pecan ice cream. Anyway, apple butter is one of those things that reminds me of my childhood, and I think there is a part of me that is trying to grasp those little memories so that I might carry them into the traditions of my own home.

Well, I knew canning apple butter was going to be something I would try come fall (i.e. the apples are really cheap). So, two weeks ago I picked up a couple bags of apples and I went for it. I searched www.allrecipes.com and found this recipe. Fantastic. So simple. I changed the recipe a bit . . . only used 3 pounds of apples, 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of brown sugar. The rest was the same.

The only real issue is that I don't have an apple corer slicer thingy. That contraption always gives me wonderful memories of Mom. We always loved the long curly cue of apple peel that came off those apples. Yummy.

So - as a result - I cut all of the apples (at least 10 to 12) into 1/8ths and then used a paring knife to cut the peel off each slice. Wow. If that doesn't give someone arthritis at a ripe old age of 27 I don't know what will. I had to alternate between peeling and folding laundry (while watching HGTV, of course) just to get temporary relief. Took a long time.

Nevertheless, I have to admit, it was totally worth it. I made waffles the following morning and I haven't stopped eating apple butter and waffles for two weeks straight. I can't stop. Just pop a waffle into the toaster, spread it with apple butter and walk out the door. So good.

I still have one more bag of apples to core and peel so that I can make one more batch. I just can't quite get the motivation to do it. Just not yet. Maybe next weekend.

October 8, 2009

Fall Pillows

Sometime around May of this year, I went on a redecorating spree in our living room. This led to an abundance of pillow making, which you might recall, ended in Jesse banning me from making any more pillows. Hmmm . . . maybe at the time I just told you that he had made fun of me for sewing 10 pillows in one week, which was only partly true. He did make fun of me, and he did ban me from making any more. You know, I suppose, if I consider "the ban" from a holistic approach, then I could conclude he is concerned for my overall health . . . or he was just sick of my sewing machine and the fabric cluttering the dining room table. Either one.

Last weekend, I decided it was time to pull out the fall decor. Probably because the weather here decided to make the quickest turn toward cold that I've ever seen. All of a sudden it was goodbye summer; hello fall.

The fabric is Joel Dewberry's Ginseng Orchid in spice. The orange is just a color I picked up at my local Hancock Fabrics.

I felt like the orange pillows needed a little bit of detailing. I bought some contrasting orange threads and just sewed horizontally across the pillow cover before I put it together. I really like the way it turned out. (You might have to click on the picture to see a close-up.)

Last year I picked up some placemats at Target for $.74 each. What?! I couldn't pass that up. Here they are making their first fall debut.

And, look at these napkin rings I scored from Grandma Tink. Perfect.

I sure love fall. I just wish it wasn't followed by winter.

October 7, 2009

From White to Gray

Jesse does our laundry. Isn't that awesome? I love it. And, quite honestly, he's really good at it too. He separates the colors so nicely, adds just the right amount of bleach to the whites, he doesn't mind that I make our own laundry soap and that sometimes the supply runs out just as he is trying to finish up, and he carefully hangs any of my clothing that he thinks just maybe shouldn't go in the dryer. Ah, he is good.

So . . . we were both quite surprised, and kind of annoyed, that when I was folding our laundry and putting it away recently I noticed that one of my favorite new sweatshirts had been tainted with bleach. How could it be? We don't know. It seemed to be the only victim of random bleaching that day.

It took me about 24 hours to mull over how I wanted to cope with this new loss. The fabric is cute (a nice white and gray horizontal stripe), should I cut it up and make something else out of it? Do I just throw it away? Then, it came to me . . . I should dye it!

Not too long after my new realization, I spent an evening boiling up some dye brew.

I had black dye on hand, and thought that would be fun to experiment with. I also went to my closet to see if I had anything else that needed an uplift. Turns out I did! Here's what came of it:

The sweatshirt. Turned out a little blotchy (from where the bleach had been), but not too bad. Definitely wearable on the weekend.

Hmmm . . . the picture makes this shirt look like the bottom is darker than the top. That's not the case. Anyway, this shirt used to be white and was just getting a little dingy. I still love the shape and style. So a nice shade of gray is a good way to keep it lasting.

Same with this shirt. It used to be white and was just getting . . . I don't know . . . old. It also is now a nice shade of gray. Plus, I love the way that the dye didn't pick up the stitching on the blouses. Adds a really cool effect!

All in all, I'm very happy about the transformation. A little bit of dye can go a long way.

October 6, 2009

Sweet Jane

On September 11 my brother and his wife had a beautiful little girl. She came a whole month early and that means I was not even close to being done with her gifts. I was doing a very good job of starting on her gifts early too . . . and then she surprised us! Of course, when it comes to adding a gorgeous baby into the family, we'll welcome a surprise like that any day. They named her Jane. And, I just can barely get over how cute she is.

Only a couple of weeks late, here's what I sent:

In the last few months I've been teaching a couple of friends of mine how to sew. Oh my goodness, have we been having fun! I didn't know how much fun it could be to sew with good friends . . . I guess I have been so used to doing it on my own. Last month's project was sewing baby bibs. Of course, I had little Jane in mind - and a perfect combination of fabrics in my stash. We used some free tutorial that I found online (I can't remember which). I guess we tweaked it enough that it doesn't matter much now.

One of my sewing friends, Diana, is a mother of two and she recommended the side closure and the snaps as opposed to velcro. Gotta love the insights of a mother.

I also sent along a little onesie. Look familiar?

I have to tell you . . . I had originally planned to send a pair of booties to Jane. They were really cute ones from Amy Butler's Little Stitches. Just adorable, I tell you. However, I learned a valuable lesson while putting them together . . . Be very careful when trying to make two things that are supposed to look identical. Don't expect perfect results. In fact, it might be wise not even to try it. Because . . . I got done with the second bootie, and low and behold, it was a full size smaller than the first.

Not funny at all . . . except it kinda was. Let's just say those didn't make it into the package.