Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to All

We hope all of our friends and family have a great Christmas!

Our new nativity set that I thought would be child friendly as I won't let Matthew play with our olive tree carved set my parents gave us a few years ago from Jerusalem. He broke 3 things this year so this is now unplayable too. Luckily super glue is our friend and we could repair it without showing where it's broken. How did my parents ceramic set survive 6 kids with minimal damage?

Our Christmas card I created this year using some digital products from my favorite website. You can find the textured paper here. The stamps here and the words here. At Designer Digitals every Monday they have 2 items for $.25 each. The whole month of December they've been doing daily $.25 items. It's so great to add to my Christmas collection cheaply for future Christmas layouts and for next years projects.

I got this template and am taking pictures of things we've been doing and then I'll journal about the 31 days of Christmas. Should be cute!

Last year I couldn't upload to the Costco photo center as they wanted to make you use a template of theirs. This year I found a blank template in their other section (maybe it was there last year and I just couldn't find it?), uploaded this baby, and picked them up the next day. You can't beat 50 cards + envelopes for $15. I also love that no one else will have my same card look.

Photoshop Elements is the best program and once you get the hang of it super easy to use.

A sweet picture I caught the other day. These two warm my heart and I'm so blessed to be their mommy. Can't wait to do Christmas morning with these two.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Completed Projects and Countdown to Christmas

Ah the night before Christmas Eve/early Christmas Eve morning and mostly everything is finally finished at this household. Most of the presents are wrapped. Most of my gifts are finished and I am looking forward to relaxing with the family tomorrow, watching the Polar Express before bed time for the kids, and eating yummy steak and potatoes.

I wanted to post some fun activities we've been doing around here for our advent calendar and also the projects I've completed for Christmas. Some things were easier than others.


We made a paper chain one night. Easy and Matthew held the stapler. Now if I was planning further ahead we would have made this on night 1 and could have made one that had 25 loops to rip off every night as an additional count down, but we'll try and do that next year.

Door knob bells made from cut-out egg cartons. I got the idea here. We are using them at our house to see if we can hear when Santa comes. Matthew helped do some of the painting and pulled the string once we pushed it through.

Chocolate dipped pretzels. Jordan did the dipping this year as I was sleep deprived and he made me go to bed early one night.

Our playdoh cookies. They actually aren't bad to eat and Matthew made his own. He rolled little balls of each color, rolled those into big balls, and then rolled those into snakes and then rolled them up. I had to help him a little bit, but he did really good and loved rolling the snake up part the best.

Once they were cooked. We'll be leaving these out for Santa.

I'm really hoping those that are getting some of these don't think they are lame. I wanted to make some handmade gifts this year.
Mitts and embellished towels. You can find oven mitt tutorial here and dishtowel tutorial here.
Crayon roll. Perfect for taking to church or in the car. You can find the tutorial here. I would recommend using thin ribbon for the part that will go around the roll. Mine was a little too thick. Also, I bought a little memo pad at Target and then cut a piece of paper close to size, ran it through my xyron and stuck it on the front and cut-off the excess. I thought it just added another cute touch and the paper matched perfectly.

Made some felt hair clips. It was fun doing some hand stiching and covering buttons. It wasn't a hard project, just time consuming. It took me at least a half day to make all of these. You can find the tutorial here.

Our flash wouldn't work so these pics are bad, but I finally made some bracelets for Isabelle today for her stocking. I bought the supplies back in June to make one for her blessing but didn't get around to it. The pink and pearl one fits perfectly and I need to redo the all pearl one since it's a little tight. This was a last minute addition to the gift making list. I'm very happy with how they turned out and can't wait to get more teeny tiny beads.

My friend Kris made some towel bibs for her son and I've been wanting to do some for 3 years. I finally got some ribbing, found this tutorial online and whipped them up today. I'm so excited for more coverage for Isabelle when she is eating. I did not sandwich inbetween but rather sewed the ribbing and bib right sides together. Also, because my children have large noggins, I did a 4 1/2" opening but still a 13" piece of ribbing and tried it on Isabelle and it fits perfectly! Also, a last minute gift.

Block for Isabelle. PITA I must say. Trying to sew around the top/bottom parts was really tough for me and probably my most frustrating project. I didn't make it like this tutorial, but should have taken the time to do so. I think I would have been less frustrated and it would have been easier to sew. I'm just hoping Isabelle will think it's fun.

I like the end result of these fabric rings, but another project that was frustrating at the end. You can find the tutorial here. If you do attempt, I would recommend cutting the seams down after sewing them so you have less bulk inside the tube. I turned them all right side out before figuring this out and then turned them all inside, cut the seams, and turned them back out again. Annoying! Isabelle should have fun chewing on them.

My favorite, more leg warmers for Isabelle. These have been waiting to be sewn but I just needed to find time and they are going to make good stocking stuffers.

So, because things took longer than expected and I started WAY TOO late on some of my items on my list. I cut Matthew's quiet book, his Mr. Potato Head, Isabelle's bunny and Christmas apron. I'm still planning on making all of those things but just not for Christmas as gifts. I'm collecting ideas now for next year and will start way earlier so I don't kill myself with lack of sleep like I have this year. It's been fun though and I can't wait for Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Play Dough Cookies

I found this idea to make play dough cookies (they are real cookies made to look like play dough) on my favorite new blog. I am so doing this with Matthew next week while I am off from work. Thought I'd pass the idea on if any of you are looking for things to do with the kids while they are off from school.

The recipe for the actual cookie dough is here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A few pics to share

Matthew was wanting to hold Isabelle the other day so I grabbed my camera hoping for a cute picture of the two of them. Of course, Matthew just wants to be silly and all Isabelle wants to do nowadays is wriggle away and go explore. We really have to bribe Matthew lately to get any kind of regular grin.

If Isabelle had only been smiling this would have been perfect, but it's pretty close and still cute!

Isabelle is loving exploring under our tree hence why there are no presents yet (and they aren't wrapped). I don't trust her or Matthew to leave them alone until Christmas. They'll all show up Christmas Eve at some point. Maybe some before Matthew goes to bed. He's bad enough just pulling papers out of our sock advent calendar.

Why do babies want to go through the chair and not around it? I caught this pic today quickly before she got really stuck and I had to help get her out. She is sure curious and is following us to wherever we are. I started her on pureed peas tonight and she gobbled them right up without a yucky face or anything. She is such a joy in our house. Oh and I love that tongue of hers. It's been hanging out lately in that corner all pointy.

Matthew has been a bit of a stinker lately and really frustrating me with some antics he's been pulling. Jordan made the comment that he's glad that Isabelle is here to have a calming effect. It's so true - she's always happy and smiling and really only grumpy when she's tired or hungry. She can get me out of a bad/frustrating mood when I let Matthew get to me.

Anyways, I finished 3 big projects last night/tonight so I'm happy about that! I'm picking up my Christmas cards from Costco that I designed tomorrow so I can't wait to see how they turned out. I also ordered some other things online that I designed for gifts and can't wait for them to show up next week.

Sometimes you do get rewarded for procrastination/not being on the ball. The item I ordered online today I needed 2 of and they were having a special of Buy 1, get 1 free. Sweetness! Saved myself $25. Now just hoping they come early next week in time to get 1 out in time for Christmas (I'm taking the other one w/me).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Bow Wreath Tutorial

I popped into my favorite ribbon store the other day to get ribbon for Isabelle's Christmas bow. While in there I saw this cute ribbon wreath sample (why didn't I think of that?) Anyways, it is so easy and would make a cute gift or an added Christmas decoration you can whip up this week. I personally love making at least one Christmas decoration each year.

Here is what you will make, a ribbon wreath

You'll need a wire wreath. I picked this standard one up from Michaels. The ribbon store sample was a single thick wire wreath that was a bit smaller.

Pick 3-4 ribbons for the bows. I ended up using 43 yards (1 1/2 in. wide) total for my wreath. You'll use a bit more or less depending on your wreath and ribbon size. Cut 3/4 yard pieces (27 inch) and I used 19 pieces of each color for my wreath.
Michael's has ribbon currently for half off and if you plan ahead for next year you can get ribbon 75-90% off at Michael's or another craft store right after Christmas. I bought 3 20-yard bolts and have plenty left over so I'm going to go pick up another color so I can make another wreath as a gift.

My ribbon also had wire and I used pliers to pull all the wire out. Highly recommend doing this or your bows will end up looking weird and will be harder to tie and will smush easier during storage.

My red/green plaid ribbon ended up being my favorite and held up to the bows well. The mesh gold tore easier so I had to be careful but also tied bows well and my red was a bit flimsy and wanted to tie skinny bows instead of fatter fuller ones.

Start tying them on to the wreath. I went completely around the whole entire outside of the wreath. Also, remember when you are tying bows to keep one tail longer than the other when beginning your bow as the longer tail will go around to become the middle. You'll figure it out.

This is the underside of the wreath.

A close up of the backside.

That's it! I would also recommend fray checking all of the ends so that they don't start fraying and will keep your wreath looking nice for longer. I haven't done that yet, but need to. If you haven't used fray check, you can buy it pretty cheap at Wal-Mart for about $2. Poke the top in with a pin. I didn't read the directions my first time and cut off the top. BIG mistake as it dripped everwhere. I had to throw the whole bottle away.

Viola! All done after tying on all of my bows. So cute! I probably spent 2 hrs doing this. Easy Peasy!

Supplies Needed:
Wire Wreath
3-4 ribbons 1 1/2-2 inches wide and cut into 3/4 yard pieces (27 inch.)
43 yards total if using the Michael's wire wreath above.
Fray check

Friday, December 11, 2009

Leg Warmers in action + Sock advent calendar

So I thought I'd show you some pics of the leg warmers in action. I whipped these up this morning. She's wearing a different outfit for a party we are going to tonight and I didn't want her to get a whole outfit dirty so a top and some leg warmers it is. What a cute model. Easy Peasy!

I love her chubby legs! These stay on her really well.

Here is our sock advent calendar.

And a close up of one of my socks and the numbers I printed and punched out. It was a little saggy so we did put a few nails to help hold it up.

I'm missing a few days for things to do but will finish that this weekend. Matthew kept commenting on the socks that didn't have anything in them when this first went up. He was worried some were missing papers. He's so funny!

My friend Kris has 3 kids and each day they write something to 1 of their kids. Works out perfectly for them all to have 8 days. You could also put scriptures to read each night or a game or movie to watch together. That's what is great about this, it's so versatile and changeable. It cost me less than $25 to create as the socks were at Old Navy for a ridiculous cheap sale. Target has some Christmas socks in their $1 bin right now, so if you want to do for next year pick them up now.

What I love is that it's already made for next year. I'll just have to unpack and put it up. As Matthew gets older we can put in longer Christmas stories or bigger activities to do. It's going to be a new favorite tradition for sure. I think Matthew is really loving it and can't wait to do the activity every day.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas Projects

I learned how to sew back when I was about 11 or 12. We did 4-H for 4 summers when I was little probably between 8-12 yrs old. Our first 2 years were cooking and the last 2 years were sewing/crocheting. I even won lots of ribbons in our fairs. I didn't always love those projects but those summers taught me life long skills that I appreciate now. I can follow instructions from a cookbook or pattern and I KNOW that I can make/cook anything that has directions. I may not be able to whip something up without a recipe or pattern like other people I know (psst...EmmaLee) but as long as I have directions I can figure it out.

I've loved fabric for awhile and there are some really cool designer fabrics out there lately. They are on the more expensive side - about $9 a yard, but worth it for special clothing or projects. I've been eyeing lots of fun projects to do but needed a decent sewing machine. I've had a crappy sewing machine for 10 years that I bought cheaply and haven't used since we moved to London and then back to AZ - so over 7 years.

I grew up on the classic workhorse Bernina 830 and really wish I had that machine. They go on eBay for over $500 and I didn't want to pay that right now. A cute Bernina store in Mesa was having a really good deal on machines so I got a Bernette - the starter series of Berninas and got it for less than 1/2 off. I've been having lots of fun sewing lots of projects lately and it's a really good machine AND easy to use which is key in my book. I had a bit of trouble with the tension at first but finally it's adjusted and has been sewing really well.

I found a tutorial here of how to make baby leg warmers which I guess are all the rage. I thought they were a good idea for Isabelle because I hate taking on and off her tights for diaper changes, she needs to wear something under her dresses now that it's getting cooler, and they protect her knees from chafing while she's crawling.

The first pair I made was from some old socks of mine. They weren't knee highs so they didn't stay up very well. I got some knee highs from Kohl's the other day and here is her first pair. She wore them yesterday with a dress and they were so cute (even Jordan admitted they were cute)! I bought some more socks from Target ($6 for 3 pairs) that are super cute. I can't wait to make them up. They are on the back burner for now as I have lots to get done before Friday. I'm just so excited because the Baby Legs brand are $12-$15 a pair and I can make them for about $2 a pair. They will also be good to grow with Isabelle. Right now they are a little long so she can still wear them next winter.

The pink is the top part of the original socks and then I added a cuff from the bottom portion of the sock.

I saw a pattern for shoes online a few weeks ago and really wanted to make Isabelle shoes but was a bit intimidated. I found a pattern and made these up. I had a few hiccups and the first shoe I made was too small, but I persevered. This pattern is ok, but the heel isn't high enough to my liking and they kept falling off so I think I'm going to buy this pattern and see how these work out. I can't wait to make some Christmas ones.

I'm not quite done, but I made Isabelle a stuffed giraffe for her stocking. The other side is the pattern the same as her shoes. It looks a little dorky, but Isabelle will love chewing on it. I found the tutorial here. This website has inspired me to try lots of things.

Like a stuffed Mr. Potato Head

and a co-worker purchased this apron from me that I am finishing up tonight.

Additional things on my list to make before Christmas:
-Christmas gifts I can't mention here :)
-The stuffed Mr. Potato Head idea I found for Matthew for church (stocking stuffer)
-Quiet book for Matthew - I got the pattern here (stocking stuffer)
-Fabric blocks for Isabelle but w/ribbons sticking out for her to play with (stocking stuffer)
-Stuffed bunny for Isabelle - got the pattern here (Christmas gift)
-The rest of her Baby Legs (stocking stuffer)
-Design christmas cards and get them printed
-Make a Christmas apron/bow/shoes for Isabelle - I found cute fabric at JoAnn's for 1/2 off

I have lots to do and I have assigned myself tasks every night so I'll be busy up until Christmas. I have a few days off before Christmas so that will help if I need to finish things up.

One thing that we are doing this year that I took the idea from my friend Kris is a sock advent calendar. I found poems, songs, activities and we are doing 1 every night. Matthew knows which day it is and can't wait to do that days item. It's been fun and Jordan even said last night that it has been a good idea. I got some socks in the $1 section at Target but most are different sized ones from Old Navy. I'll have to take a picture and post it. I printed out red and green numbers and punched them into circles and stapled them onto the socks and then pinned the socks onto a long piece of ribbon. This is going to be a yearly tradition for sure.

I love Christmas!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

IsaBelly loves candy!

Matthew had his bowl of candy out the other night and Isabelle scooted over to investigate and had a great time pulling everything out of the bowl. Matthew was pretty good about it after I assured him she couldn't eat his candy.

Other things that have been going on around here:

-Is doing GREAT in preschool and loves Miss Heidi.
-Says the funniest things all the time such as "hilarious" and "boring" in the right context. He tells us often that something is his "favorite" or someone is his "best friend". He also reminds us frequently of bad words we shouldn't say such as stupid, butt, and bum. Even if we haven't even said those words.
-Loves to learn new songs and sings all the time. His preschool teacher accidentally taught the wrong words to a song and when she corrected herself the next time he told her that "the new words" weren't right and she was singing the song wrong.
-Loves to count and loves the number 3 and must do things evenly. If he gives a kiss he must also give a hug. He cannot do one without the other. Sometimes he'll tell me 3 kisses and 3 hugs and then will do it 3 times in a row.
-Has lots of energy but also has a love of life. Everything turns into something fun or a game to him. He is usually a very happy kid but is starting to be mellowdramatic. Geez!
-Has a huge imagination and likes to be told stories at night in bed rather than reading books to go to sleep.
-Working on counting to 50. He's getting the concept of 21, 22, 23, etc. but then thinks it's 2010 instead of 30.
-Really wants to read so we found a couple of games online to help him learn the sounds of the ABC's and to read. He loves the computer so it's a win, win for both of us.

-Wants to crawl so much. She is sort of inchworming and scooting around. She can get to what she wants.
-Is eating solids really well and we just pulled out the high chair. She's so little in it. She definitely wants to eat when we are eating. She gets mad if we leave her out.
-Thinks Matthew is so funny. He can be doing nothing that is funny and she'll laugh and laugh.
-Just over 7 months old - the time is flying by!
-Is such a great sleeper. We love her smiling face in the morning. Always a smile!
-Can rival Matthew now with her yelling.
-Is so curious about her surroundings.
-Is learning to feed herself with her fingers. She's starting to be able to put cheerios in her mouth. We're working on her holding her bottle herself but she would rather have me do it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Must I REALLY make pumpkin pie?

I am hosting a small T-day consisting of our family, my parents and my brother Brent and his wife Sam at our house this Thanksgiving.

I have a dilemma.

I am not a huge fan of pumpkin pie, but can make killer pies. I personally love pecan and lemon merigue.

Must I REALLY make a third pie?

I am hosting T-day and will be buying most of the dinner ingredients. We will be cleaning our house for our visitors. I will be sweating cooking dinner. I will mostly be the one with the stress of having the "perfect" thanksgiving dinner.

Don't get me wrong, I love to cook and am really excited to be hosting!

But really-DO I HAVE to make a pumpkin pie since it's my house and I finally get to call the shots? Please weigh in....

p.s. I have a pumpkin dessert that is super yummy I would happily make on Black Friday to suffice the pumpkin lovers around here and I even like it OR I would even make pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving dessert too. Anything BUT pumpkin pie...blech....

but really weigh know how I feel, but just wondering if it CAN be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. I really would rather not...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Update on Meeting the Pioneer Woman

Well I didn't meet her and didn't see the movie either. I got to see her speak and answer questions and then waited an hour before I gave up meeting her. If you bought your book at the bookstore you were assigned a letter. Mine was "M" and they took an hour to get through A. I left my book there with how I wanted her to sign it and will pick it up today or tomorrow. She did promise she would sign everyone's book.

Fun, but way more people were there than I expected. The guy at the checkout counter said there were 900 people in SLC and I'm sure there were at least 500 in Tempe. I'm getting sick with what the kids have so I just couldn't wait any longer since I didn't feel well anyways. Insane!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Meeting the Pioneer Woman

I am going with a friend to meet the blogger and newest Cookbook author Ree Drummond. She has a great site that has amazing recipes that are pretty simple and you can follow step by step. She just launched her first cookbook and is doing a book signing in Tempe tonight. Can't wait to meet her!

Hoping to also go see the Michael Jackson movie afterwards.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Halloween 2009

We had lots of fun tricks-or-treats this year. Thursday we went to Jordan's annual Intel cubicle trick or treating fun. High reward for low amount of work. Matthew didn't miss a cubicle.

Friday we went with Kari and her kids to their trunk-or-treating as Garrin had to work and Matthew had a great time with Maggie. He LOVED checking out all the different trunks that were dressed up.

Saturday we had our annual party at the Hammond's with pumpkin bread bowls, soups, and our homemade doughnuts (3rd year in a row). Always a good time.

We have way too much candy in this household and it's always calling my name! Yes, we are using it to bribe Matthew to do the things or eat the good food that we need him to. I think soon it will be relegated to the trash. I was inspired by my friend EmmaLee and hopefully will be making all of our costumes next year.

Matthew loved his dragon costume!

Isabelle was a pumpkin princess? I bought a shirt, made a black and orange tutu, made a bow and found some cute orange/black tights.

The whole clan at Intel.

Isabelle's tutu was driving her nuts. The great thing is she can reuse in a few years as I made it so it can get bigger.

James the Hamburger. I really want that costume! EmmaLee is so talented.

Brynlee the Ladybug. Cute!

My fav-Buddy the Elf. EmmaLee's sister Amy made his coat. Amazing!'s his real hair!

Of course Blake a was a pizza. I think it was a bit heavy by the end.

Cruella de Vil.

Poor Matthew's "hat" kept sliding down in his face.

In-n-Out afterwards-yum!

In timeout at the Hammond Party. He was so wound up and doing naughty things.

EmmaLee & Ray as pieces of the game Settlers of Catan.

I found a last minute costume at Target and then made this headpiece to go with it. I'm a Medieval Wench? Who knows, and the costume was NOT comfortable!

I did have a different idea for me & Jordan but at the last minute he didn't want to do it so we both scrambled for costumes.

Jordan found a shirt at Goodwill and was a mechanic. Nice going for pulling it together the day of.

EmmaLee's nephew in a Link costume hand knitted by EmmaLee's mom-their whole family is so talented!

Hammond Clan