Friday, December 30, 2011

The Secret Garden was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I remember I started reading it because I didn't have anything else to read. I had been putting it off because it looked long but when I began, out of sheer boredom, I had become entranced. That was years ago. I couldn't have told you much about it, only that I had liked it as a child, until now.

There is a scary used bookshop where my parents live and I had found an old copy of The Little Princess without a price. They had to get back to me and when they did I asked my mom to pick it up for me knowing it might become a Christmas present but willing to pay her back if it wasn't.  While she was there she also picked up an old illustrated copy of The Secret Garden.  When I opened them up on Christmas I was pleased but when (out of boredom again) I began the The Secret Garden I was shocked. Let me explain first by telling you that I'm crazy for Tasha Tudor. She astounds me. The way she lived, the children's books she's written all of it. So imagine my delight when purely by chance I realize that this copy was illustrated by Tasha Tudor! I was thrilled! What a happy accident (or wonderful side blessing).

The Secret Garden is the most magical book I've ever read. It's not fairies and spells but something better. Magic bursting forth from a wand can be awesome and is certainly fun but magic slowly unfurling itself in the blossom of a flower or the bud of a leaf is so much more powerful so much more real. The way that Frances Burnett links the awakening of this garden with the awakening of two children is so sweet.

I think there is something magic to our souls when we read something precious to us, even more perhaps if it is meant for children. Winter is so slow, take time to read an old favorite of yours or read this one it is so wonderful. The only drawback to this book is that I read it at the beginning of winter and am really itching to plant some rose bushes!

      The Thin white hands shook a little and Colin's flush grew deeper as he set the rose in the mould and held it while old Ben made firm the earth. It was filled in and pressed down and made steady. Mary was leaning forward on her hands and knees. Soot had flown down and marched forward to see what was being done. Nut and Shell chattered about it from a cherry-tree.
    "It's planted!" said Colin at last. "And the sun is only slipping over the edge. Help me up, Dickon.  I want to be standing when it goes. That's part of the Magic."
     And Dickon helped him, and the Magic-or whatever it was-so gave him strength that when the sun did slip over the edge and end the strange lovely afternoon for them there he actually stood on his two feet-laughing.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year.

Christmas has come and gone and it was beautiful and full and crazy and warm and cozy all at once.  I enjoyed it immensely and loved all the sewing projects and got so much pleasure out of seeing people open them.... Now I'm done.  We still have one family Christmas left and Brian asked me if I was going to sew some for it and I. just. can't. I don't have any desire. I even made the mistake of starting a read of "The Secret Garden" and now I want all the decorations down (magically, though, because I don't actually wan to do it) and I want it to get warmer so I can plant something.
all in our superhero jammies.

kazoo tune.

vintage robe and pipe for my vintage man.

So tough I can barely stand it.

Vintage Christmas china, Beef Bourguignon, and Christmas cake. 

Family and Friends.

This boy loves his food.

I make my bed every Christmas morning so I can lay
out all of my gifts and look at them.
Isn't that silly?

I should have done something today but all I could manage, beyond taking care of the children, was read and read some more. If I didn't have to change diapers or make macaroni and cheese I do believe I would have stayed in bed the entire day. That would be nice. After all the excitement and running around of Christmas maybe we just all need a few days of nothing to do.

Friday, December 16, 2011

And The Winner Is.....

The randomly drawn name out of a hat was.... Susie Finkbeiner! Yea Susie!!! This is what Susie had to say:


Okay, when I was a kid, we would have a BIG family reunion. All my Great Aunts would make candy and cookies and pies...and no adults ever told us "you've had enough". We would eat together, sing the doxology (which is a very funny story in itself), share our lives together. I miss that tradition. But I'm so glad to have the memories.

Susie has an amazing blog check it out at you will not be disappointed.

My posting will be a bit slow in the next couple of weeks. My parents will be here and it's Christmas and my basement remodel is nearly done (oh what joy). So if I don't write until then have the best holidays you've ever had!

Love you!

Merry Christmas from a family of dolls
and one Santa salt shaker.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pajama Pants.

Readers, so far so good. I'm making good progress on my Christmas projects and have thus far been enjoying myself and trying (and doing a pretty good job) of not stressing. I recently had a serious conversation with myself that went something like this: "Jessie, even if you buy that really expensive fabric for the skirt (which has to be bought on a certain day to make use of two coupons) you don't have to finish it before Christmas." other me "But I want to have something new to wear to the Christmas eve service." sane me "Tough, if it doesn't happen it doesn't happen. It's more important to enjoy this time of year then make yourself crazy." we grudgingly agreed.

So, I'm feeling good about everything. I decided to make pajama pants for the boys after I saw some really cool super hero flannel at JoAnn's. But, of course I decided to make us all a pair not just the boys. I found a tutorial on-line for the kids and let me take a break here to tell you how glad I am that I found this. It is fabulous and I'm linking to it because it was seriously so easy it was like magic. I cut and made up two pair of pajama pants before lunch! If you want to make your kids pj's for Christmas do not even bother buying a pattern this was amazing! I hate cutting out and marking pattern pieces it's my least favorite part about sewing so this was extra incredible. Even if you are a total beginner you could do it (feel free to contact me with questions should you have any.)

Back to my story. I have both the boys pants cut out and am completely done sewing one of them when I realize that my non-directional batman print is actually directional and I have made them upside down. It's barely noticeable and a five and two year old are definitely not going to notice but I've been sewing practically non-stop for weeks and I had literally been "head blogging" while sewing them about how much I've learned and how great these were to make etc. So, I cried. All the barely held back stress burst forth and I cried. My sweet mother says to me "well, at least you know you won't make that mistake again." which is funny because the first real sewing project I ever did was pajama pants at Christmas for my sisters and brother-in-law in which each of the pants had one leg where the print was upside down! Which is one the reasons I was "head blogging" about how far I've come.

SERIOUSLY! Any time I'm sewing and I get a little proud of myself or think the cursed phrase "wow, this is going pretty well." I immediately make a huge mistake or notice one I've already made. God must think I could have a serious problem with pride (right now He's rolling his eyes and thinking "don't lay this on me, geesh!"). Oh well, I'm over it and they are cute and they were so fast.

A sneak peak of Brian and my fabric for our pants.
Funny thing it really is "nondirectional"
I hope your enjoying the Holidays. And don't forget to comment on the below post for a chance to win my Christmas giveaway.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Giveaway!

My dear readers, I value you so much. Your comments are such a blessing to me.  This one is for you, and I meant to have it up earlier today but got totally sidetracked by this awesome colette pattern I'm making.

I've had this gift ready for a while but was waiting for the 12th because it's a blog-wide giveaway day!

It's another apron. I know we've done this one before but there is so much fun baking this time of year I thought it was still a perfect gift. This time, however, it's coming with vintage Christmas cookie cutters (fun!). Don't worry they're safe to use, made with tin not lead I would hand wash them though and avoid putting them in the dishwasher.

I was so proud of my Christmas Paperwhites
until I smelled them. They stink!

The cookie cutters are a bell, tree, santa and gingerbread man.

Men's dress shirt apron.
To enter to win leave a comment telling me about your favorite thing from the holidays; traditions, memories, food, games... Whatever it is you love best about this time of year let me know. I know this isn't narrowed down very much but I just couldn't decide.  Make sure your name is left with your comment and I'll draw a winner on Friday.  Good luck and Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Personal Tradition.

We're always talking about traditions this time of year. Family traditions, church traditions.  I want to know if you have a personal tradition. Something you do just for yourself.

Every year I read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." it is the best Christmas book out there. And, yes I've read "A Christmas Carol" but this book is better. This book is amazing. It's by Barbara Robinson and will make you and laugh and cry. I think they made a movie of it but it can't be as good as the book because the book is told from the point of view of a child and you would miss out on so much without seeing into her thoughts.

We've all heard the Christmas story so many times yet this book sort of lets you see it for the first time. If you had never heard the story of Christmas what would you think? This story lets you see and feel that.

     "What happened first?" Imogene hollered at my mother. "Begin at the beginning!"
      That really scared me because the beginning would be the Book of Genesis where it says "In the beginning..." and if we were going to have to start with the Book of Genesis we'd never get through.

I think that's funny and clever and there's tons more like that.

     And this was the funny thing about it all. For years, I'd thought about the wonder of Christmas, and the mystery of Jesus' birth, and never really understood it. But now, because of the Herdmans it didn't seem so mysterious after all.
   When Imogene had asked me what the pageant was about, I told her it was about Jesus, but that was just part of it. It was about a new baby, and his mother and father who were in a lot of trouble--no money, no place to go no doctor, nobody they knew. And then, arriving from the east (like my uncle from New Jersey) some rich friends.
    But Imogene, I guess, didn't see it that way. Christmas just came over her all at once like a case of chills and fever. And so she was crying...

And that is the part where I really start crying every year.  This book is good and short. I can't wait until the boys are old enough for me to read it to them. Until then, however, I'm going to read it myself. It's such a good way to see the Christmas story in a fresh way. It's a super quick read I think you should give it a chance.

So that's my personal tradition, strange as it might be. What are yours? What are some things that make the holiday special just for you?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

And Now For Something a Little Different.

I have two super heroes in my life and I just wanted to share them with you.
Spider man is a really good big brother. He's got a tender heart and tells me he loves me all the time.
Which is his super power.

Batman is hilarious, naughty and very smart for his age. Smart in the bad sneaky way.
But, he loves to snuggle that is his super power. He calls it "nuggling"

They train together!

Life filled with two super heroes is a very full life indeed!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Those Evil Mittens.

I just saw an advertisement on my blog that said, "give the gift of texas." WHAT?!..... I had no idea you could gift an entire state. How do you wrap such a thing? And where does one put it after they receive it? Please don't any one give me Texas as a gift my house is way too small for such a thing.

Even though the hat and mitten project was way harder then I anticipated (almost every project is. It's sort of a delusional disease I inherited from my father. "It should only take three hours to fix these breaks love why on earth would we pay someone to do it?" four days and many swear words later the breaks are indeed fixed.) I think they would be a better gift then Texas... Or even Rhode Island really.
This is the look I was going for with the hats.

He wouldn't let me put the other mitten on him.
You take what you can get with Conster.
I was going for a "adventure/WWI" bomber pilot look and I think it got half way there. If it's tied it just looks way too cute; so cute it makes me want to eat my two year old. But when left untied I think it almost looks like the little girls hat in "Up". I lined the hat with two layers of flannel (I love the flannel) and found this fake leather that actually looks pretty good (was hard to sew though b/c it was very slippery).  I am proud of the hat because I had to sort of draft a new pattern because the one I had only goes up to 12months and I was making three, one for my two year old, one for my five year old and one for my nephew that is 18 months. That actually worked out rather well it did take longer then I anticipated (of course) but wasn't too bad.
The camera hurts! Oh it burns!

More adventurish not tied. What do you all think?

After the hats I had tons of left over fabric (I have no idea how some of these patterns come up with the allotted amount) so I decided matching mittens would be cute. I also decided that matching mittens would be a snap. Trace the kids hands add a seam allowance boom done! Oh. My. I hate these mittens. I hate them so much. I made so many wonky pairs of mittens that I could have kept an entire deformed family of elves hands warm. The thumbs were too small, the opening were too small, this and that and this and that. Every time I fixed a problem a new one reared it's ugly plaid head.  But, I was determined because now I had it in my head that they need matching mittens.  Eventually after a little help from the google search engine, an extra trip to JoAnn's, and tons of time I ended up with two pair of passable mittens.  My nephew is not getting a pair (sorry kid but I ran out of lining again).
Conster's mittens turned out perfect... After about
three botched attempts.

Conster's pair turned out wonderful. They're so vintage looking and just perfect. Again they each have two layers of flannel. SuperH's had to have the thumbs cut off and new ones put in (I didn't have enough fabric or brains to do a new pair) and I'm sure there was a better way to insert the new thumbs but I did the best I could at problem solving after days and days. SuperH's sort of look like the thumbs were hit with a hammer and swelled up, but I have him convinced that they look like old fashioned boxing gloves so we're all good.

you can kind of see the thumb in this one.
In case you were wondering I'm not even near done with the insane sewing projects I think I can get done before Christmas. But, I'm still having fun and even when I'm not I read in Martha Stewart that this kind of problem solving helps stave off Alzheimer's so that's something.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Every year around this time I start seeing all the "Don't take Christ out of Christmas..." posts on Facebook. Which, prompts me to write a post about it on my blog. I'm sorry if you feel you've read this before but it's important. Whether or not a sign in a store says "Happy Holidays" as opposed to "Merry Christmas" does not matter. I do not want to be disrespectful, I love Jesus, I just think it's more important to concentrate our efforts on things that can make a difference in someones life.  Did you know that the word "Holiday" actually means "Holy Day"? and that early Christians used the letter "x" to represent Christ, even referring to themselves as "xians"?  And let's not forget that this time of year is also a time to celebrate Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, and the New Year. It's not such a bad thing to have a phrase to refer to all the milestones we remember this time of year (sort of like "presidents day" only way cooler). And, it's definitely not a bad thing to also honor a miracle that God the father preformed for his people before the time of Christ. Jesus would have celebrated Hanukkah growing up, after all.

Meaning "Holy day" by saying "holidays and xmas" may not be what Wal-mart intends but it's up to us whether or not we're going to buy into the Christmas hype that the only way to have a merry Christmas is to "buy more and spend less". Estimated costs to bring safe clean drinking water and sanitation to the entire world is around 20 billion (that seems like a lot but hang on). Contaminated water kills 2.2 million people a year. Now check out how much Americans spend on Christmas every year; 400 billion! I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad. I love gift giving and watching my kids faces when they see the gifts under the tree is one of the best blessings of the day. I am telling you this to give you confidence to live the season beyond what our society tells us the season is about.  What are we teaching our kids at home about Christmas? Consider pairing down the gift list this year and spending a little of that money on the poor in your community (our food banks are being stretched to their breaking points) or giving the gift of water, live stock, or medicine to people struggling to survive in third world countries. Let's tap into some of the real magic of the season, the kind of magic that stores can't market.

You want to show people that "Jesus is the Reason for the Season"? Christmas is on a Sunday this year, where will you be on Sunday morning? Will you be teaching your children that opening gifts first thing in the morning is the point of Christmas or will you be worshipping God the father for the gift of his son with your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Next time you see a Target or Wal-mart commercial telling us that we must "spend, spend, spend" and then ending with "Happy Holidays" you can smile and think "nice try." The next time your face book friend types "xmas" to save time or try and get you and others annoyed, just smile as you consider how no matter how hard this world tries to hide Jesus he will always be there. He will always show himself.  No corporation, government, or people group is powerful enough to take the greatest gift; the gift of God coming to this earth in the form of a baby, away from us. Amen and Praise to His Name!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Gift For You To Regift.

This is not the kind of vintage we're going for.

AHHH! Oh sorry that picture scares me every time. Now that I have your attention I want to talk about a vintage gift idea... Not the mustaches.

I was wondering what could I give you that you could regift and then it hit me, a tutorial! I took pics and am going to try to break down the making of the dress shirt aprons. They're so super easy and they're so super cheap (if you get your dress shirts second hand) What a better way to show someone you care with out spending a lot of money (Christmas isn't about how much we spend after all) then to give them a super cute stylish apron.  And aprons are so vintage chic right now.

1. (I forgot to take a photo of this step, sorry) This step is probably the most time consuming and I suggest you do it while sitting on the couch watching the t.v. Take a seam ripper and remove the stitches holding on the collar and shirt pocket thereby removing them from the body of the shirt. (They'll become the waist and apron pocket later on).

2. (Again no photo, man what is up with that) cut close to but be careful not to cut through the seam on either side of the shirt (cut on the outside and that way you won't have to hem the side of the apron!). Then cut across the body of the apron from just under the arm holes, making a rectangle.

3. Now the fun begins. Make sure the shirt is buttoned properly and using a matching or coordinating thread stitch up both sides of the button placket. (Is placket the right term?)

Be careful not to catch a wrinkle in the shirt or you'll have to use your seam ripper! GRRRR!

4. Turn your machine to it's longest straight stitch. On mine it's "3" and stitch across the top of the apron.

5. Let's install the pocket before we gather the body of the apron. Take the pocket you removed last night while you were watching episodes of "Grimm" and pin it on the apron about 3 inches in and about 6 inches down. 

Make sure your machine is back on it's smallest straight stitch and stitch around the pocket close to it's edge and leaving the top open. If your shirt doesn't have a pocket you can cut a square from the scrap of the shirt or use something else (I used an old hankie on a couple of mine. You can find them at junk shops for a song.)

6. Lay your collar piece flat on your work surface and lay the body of your apron down below it. Now pull the threads at the top of your apron to "gather" the body until it is the same width or a bit smaller then the collar piece (the collar is now the waist band.)

7. Sandwich the body of the apron in the collar/waist band and pin in place.

8. Take the back of your shirt and cut two pieces about 30 inches long and about 6 inches wide. These will be the waist ties and you can make them as long and as wide as you want depending on how much shirt as you have, it's not critical.

9. Turn the side of your tie up 1/4 inch and iron. Then fold it 1/4 inch again and iron (do this on both long sides).  If you cut your ties at the bottom you won't need to hem that end because that end was already the hemmed bottom of the shirt. 

10. Sew your hem into the waist ties.

11. Put your machine on it's longest stitch and sew across the raw edge of both ties (so you can gather them).

12. Gather the waist tie and insert it into the end of the waist band. Sew down the end of the waist band to secure.

13. Sew along the bottom of the waist band thereby attaching the waist and body.

You can "sign" your work if you want.

14. Voila you have an apron in less then 14 steps. It actually looks like a lot but it's not it's so easy and a great starter project if your interested in trying out the sewing thing with little to no cost.

This might not make as much sense as I think it does. If you have ANY questions about this leave a comment or find me on face book and I will try to make it more clear. I hope it inspires you to try something handmade any way.

Also, I'm doing another give-a-way. On December 12th there is blogosphere giveaway day for the sewing type blogs. Cool huh? So, on December 12 make sure you check back to find out how to enter to win a gift package from me that will include an apron.  I hope you're all enjoying the holiday season.