Friday, December 30, 2011

Twenty Twelve

I can't help but think of this picture of Joe when I was consider my sentiment for the New Year.  He was jumping on the bed and eating a cookie at the hotel we stayed at earlier this week when we took a quick trip to the coast.  He was happy and carefree and for those brief moments there was no agenda and there were no rules. He was somewhere that was completely new and exciting for him.

IMG_0409

Every year I look forward to the new year for some of the same reasons...a fresh start and new goals, but, most importantly, a new length of time. It's like the beginning of my new 365 day work week. In 2012, I feel ready and excited to make some new things happen in my life, some things I've been thinking about for a long time.

I predict this year is going to be big! Mark and will be celebrating our 10-year anniversary and we'll be sending our first off to kindergarten. We are hopeful that we'll have some exciting house projects on the horizon and an opportunity to make right the family vacations we missed in 2011.

I could make a long list of things I want to accomplish but I don't know how interesting or useful that would be. For the most part, I just want to DO more than I did in 2011. And better, of course. : ) Cheers!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Christmas-ish Quilt

I finished this quilt just before Thanksgiving, but was trying to find the right time to share it here. Over the past month, it sat on this chair and I noticed how well it blended into this little corner of holiday cheer (which I created to show off the kid's artwork). So, anyway, I've come lately to think of it as a Christmas-ish quilt.  (Excuse the terrible iphone pic!).  

Favorite Corner

I started this quilt back in May after pinning this one from Anthropologie. I loved the diamond orientation, the large scale cuts of fabric, but especially the solid diamond borders that frame the interior of the quilt. Love that! I knew from looking at it that it was really just a big log cabin block set on point, with even width borders for all the corners.

Loulouthi Diamond Quilt Top

When Anna Maria Horner released Loulouthi, I knew it would be perfect for this design. I also used a couple of prints from Innocent Crush. I was stuck for a good while trying to find the right color solid to use for the diamond border. And, then so conveniently, Anna of Noodlehead shared her Loulouthi quilt. I knew the bright gold solid (which is Patricia Bravo's Empire Yellow) was just what I needed. Bingo!

Loulouthi Diamond Quilt Back

For the back I simply pieced a few scrappy strips between larger white solid strips.

Loulouthi Diamond Quilt Closeup

I quilted it with straight lines crosswise to the diamond shape.  And, I bound it in one of those awesome Stockings prints from the Loulouthi collection.  I think it measures around 60" square, but I honestly don't remember.

This quilt should have been a breeze to put together, but somehow or another with all of those large cuts of fabric, the whole quilt top got totally stretched out and skewed.  Probably cutting big pieces on the bias or poor handling - or both.  Whatever the case, I had to take the top apart and put it back together again.  And, then it was originally supposed to be a LOT bigger, and had wide white borders around it.  But, I didn't like that so I took them off and used them for the back (thus, the pieced backing).  Long story short, I had a major case of the "I'm so sick of looking at this quilt, it was supposed to be easy and because I don't know what I'm really doing it has become a major pain-in-the-you know what".  At the end of it all, I honestly couldn't decide if I liked it at all.  (By the way, I think I have a complex, because I totally do this same thing with cooking...if I smell something for too long or it becomes much more complicated than I anticipated, I inevitably loathe it...weird, I know.)  Anyhow...this quilt grew on me over the holidays, sitting in that corner like a piece of art, just like my kid's artwork hanging on the wall.  It fit right in and made me happy.  I think I could even make another now!  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Today was about as perfect as a day could be! We did our traditional Christmas Eve hike, we decorated cookies, and we celebrated the true meaning of Christmas!

Christmas Eve Walk

Maggie sang at church and her picture of the nativity scene that she drew at preschool made the cover of the church bulletin today. We are proud and very blessed parents.

Nativity Pic by Maggie

We are enjoying this special time and the company of Mimi and Pepa (Mark's parents). Tomorrow will undoubtedly be magical!

True Blessings

Wishing you and yours a warm and blessed Christmas spent with those you love!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

{ One Day at a Time } Cutting it Close

My Mom knit Christmas stockings for all my brothers and sisters (7 of us!) and all of her grandchildren!  That's 23 stockings people!  Here are our stockings that she knit all hung up.  Aren't they wonderful?

Made by my Mom

So, a few years ago she got me a kit to knit one for Mark so that we'd all have "matching" knit Christmas stockings.  I started last December and actually got quite a bit done, but then put it down until a month or so ago.  This stocking knitting is tedious stuff.  I have no idea how she sufferred through so many of them.  I picked up some new techniques making this, like the colorwork on the santa, which I did completely wrong the first time.  And, I've never actually knit a sock or added embellishments.  

Made by Me!

We laughed a lot over Thanksgiving about how ginormous this thing is! I think I've become a little bit too relaxed of a knitter and my gauge is getting too big. More loot for Mark, I suppose. That is, if I can finish it, um, tomorrow. I still have a couple of letters and the seam to sew up and need to add some "bling" (sequins and such) to it. It will make me happy though to see all those handknit stockings hanging together. Thanks, Mom, for making something so special for all of us!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

{ One Day at a Time } Oh Rats

Joe's new favorite sayings include "Oh, wats (rats)", "Oh Brova (brother)", and "Good Gweef (grief)".   Sound familiar?  Charlie Brown, anyone?  Well, I definitely felt these sentiments today when my peppermint bark flopped.  : (  I was so looking forward to this holiday treat after making it last year.  But, somehow I managed to screw it up....Oh, Rats! 

DSC01177

Today wasn't a total flop though.  Mark and the kids helped me a make a couple of batches of thumbprint cookies (my personal fave!).  And I made some of Mark's favorites...snowdrop cookies.  We will decorate cutout cookies on Christmas Eve!

DSC01184

Ah, well, things just flop every once in a while.  I remember the year my Mom asked me to make the corn casserole for Christmas dinner and I forgot to add cornbread mix and what we ended up with was something like corn soup.  Easiest. casserole. ever.  We still laugh about that.  So it goes!

Monday, December 19, 2011

{ One Day at a Time } Finally Family Time

It's finally here!!  After a month of craziness, I'm ready to slow down, just hang and be a family.  The never-ending birthday festivities are done, the great five year old room remodel is done (well, sort of - more on that larer),  most of the shopping (and wrapping!) are done, two handknit gifts for unsuspecting people are done, and I gave up on Christmas cards about a week ago!  So what's left?

Well, hopefully some more walks like this:

IMG_0321

Where we discover reindeer prints.

IMG_0320

Probably a trip to the movies (Muppets for sure!!).  Some cookie baking.  Definitely some peppermint bark making, although peppermint hot fudge sauce is also calling my name.  Some what-shall-we pig out on Christmas Day meal planning.  Hopefully some baby holding (yes, that's our new niece little Riley).  Just a little bit more decorating.  While singing, of course.  And, lots of togetherness like this.  And for the record, this is the closest we got to a Christmas card photo.

Us


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Five

I got to spend some unexpected extra time with you these days leading up to your 5th birthday.  And, you leaned on me a bit more than usual since you were sick.  I took notice of those pieces of you that are inherently you, and those bits of you that are new.  Mostly, I think that you are a happier girl each and every day.  You have always loved growing up, thinking and talking about the next big thing.  You couldn't have been happier to turn 5 today, and we couldn't be happier to have you as our daughter.   Love, love, love you sweet Maggie Lowe!   

Five

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

{ One Day at a Time } Swooning and other Stuff

  Oops...missed a couple of days here.  It's okay though because I was busy sleeping and eating fried chicken and honey with some girlfriends.  All good things!

Just a quick post today to show what's been keeping us busy.  I've been working on some giant, GIANT pillows for Maggie's bedroom (which is getting a major surprise updo for her birthday next week!).  They are based on the Swoon quilt pattern.  I knew I couldn't pull off an entire quilt, so I decided to do pillows.  I kinda love them! 

Swoon with 1001 Peeps


The kids and I had Glitterfest 2011 here on Tuesday.  I cut shapes out of felt and the kids painted them with glue and doused them with glitter!  Simple fun, and very messy!

Glitterfest 2011

Some people liked more glitter than others....and did not want you to say one word about it!

Whatchu lookin at?

Later that night "Mr Elf" found all the glitter pieces and hung them on a garland.  Such a clever little guy, that elf!

Mr Elf madness

And now the sickies are entering our house. : (  My little Joe-man has an awful cough and cold.  Lots of down-time and snuggles and 1960s Spiderman shows.  More opportunity to sit and reflect, I suppose!

Little feet

Sunday, December 4, 2011

{ One Day at a Time } A Laugh

So, in all honesty, I haven't done a good job of "taking time to reflect" these past few days.  Life, beyond the holidays, has been a whirlwind.  But, I did have a REALLY good laugh just now when, out of part desperation and part curiosity, I Google-d "gifts for parents".  I couldn't help but look at this list that someone made on Amazon for their "retired parents"...it includes "The Clapper" and a giant remote control, but the thing that really got me laughing was the waterproof mattress pad.  And, the comments by the list-maker are quite amusing as well, albeit a bit harsh.

Now, having laughed really hard at something that perhaps was only funny to me, I think I want to reflect and laugh some more.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

{ One Day at a Time } A Walk in the Woods...

When life seems crazy and your 3 year old is going through a "Daddy phase", go for a walk in the woods to pick up pine cones.  And try your hardest to listen to and understand every word he says.  You'll both be glad you did.







Friday, December 2, 2011

December { One Day at a Time }

I walked into Target on Tuesday to get one thing, and I experienced a scene of people, chaos, and lines that made my heart start pumping.  It was, apparently, the holiday lunchtime madness.  After picking up that one thing, I found myself in the toy aisles scouring for ideas, feeling suddenly panicked that we had not purchased one gift yet.  Then I paused and remembered that it was still November...still November!  This year, more than ever, I feel the need to pause and reflect each day during this busy holiday season.  So, I've decided to try to spend some time here every day this month, reflecting on each day.

Today we put up the tree and decorated.  This tree came home with us from West Jefferson, where we spent a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with family.  Decorating the Christmas tree is such a nostalgic experience each and every year.  Undoubtedly, we all found comfort today in picking up an ornament and recalling the past.       

Joe Buddy

Maggie Tree
   

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sewn for a Baby to Be

I've mentioned Riley here before...she is our new niece that should be here any...day...now (tick-tock, tick-tock).  : )  All of us...Maggie, Joe and Mark included,  absolutely can't wait to meet her!  We already talk about her like we've known her forever.  I can't begin to imagine how excited her parents, Mark's brother Scott and his wife Christen are.

Christen asked me a while back to make a pillow for Riley's room and I was so excited.  I was even more excited when she told me she wanted to use this Square Dance panel, from the Little Folks collection, for her cribskirt (which her Mom made - it's beautiful!).  This is my probably my all-time favorite fabric collection and one that I've been collecting since I first started sewing.  I have used it quite a bit, on all kinds of projects, and think it's awesome to work with. 

Christen gave me full reign over the pillow design, so I decided to do a dresden plate.  It has a girlish and vintage appeal to me and I knew that something with these characteristics would fit well in Riley's new space.  I had never sewn a dresden plate before and was surprised by how easy and fun it was!  I just happened to find this little crocheted doily piece to use for the middle.  I picked up a little stack of them at Suzanna's Antiques (one of Christen and Scott's favorite shops).

Dresden Plate Pillow for Riley

The quilting was so fun.  Although it was a smaller project, it was probably the most enjoyable quilting experience I've had thus far.  I just quilted around each plate/petal (whatever they're called) and then echoed it on the background linen (essex linen in sand) a couple of times.  The piping is another detail that I love, as it frames the whole thing and gives it some pop.  

Dresden Pillow closeup

The back was done with a super soft Folksy Flannel print and has an envelope closure with a little scrappy detail.

Dresden Pillow Back 

I'm happy Christen (and Scott) will have a nice comfy cushion for those precious moments rocking and holding baby Riley.  And I remember so well those late winter nights up with my baby Maggie, and covering up with a warm blanket that a neighbor made us.  So, along with the pillow I made a quilt for them (and Riley).  It's just a simple patchwork quilt made with 4" sqaures, again from the Little Folks collection.  I didn't measure it but it must be about 35" x 42".

Little Folks Quilt

I quilted it in a loopy meandering pattern.  I intentionally quilted it densely, thinking that it would make it more sturdy.  It does take away from the softness of the quilt, but not too much.  I used the same Folksy flannel print on the back as used on the pillow.   

Little Folks Quilt Closeup

I bound it in a solid pink voile.  The very day that I finished the quilting and was planning to bind it, Rachel at Stitched in Color posted this clever zig-zag binding tutorial, so I decided to give it a try.  It was super fast and easy and I think it fits this quilt perfectly.  There were a couple of tiny spots where I didn't catch the binding on the back, but I just went back over them. 

Little Folks Quilt - Zigzag Binding

The kids and I took these goodies to Christen one day last week.  She looks amazing!!!  And, Riley's room looks so perfect...so much like them...filled with handmade things from people that love them, vintage pieces, tons of books, cherished toys, and amazing pictures and little details all over the place.  I was so happy to contribute something to this space.  Can't wait to meet you Riley!!!

Quilty Goodies for Riley

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

During Quiet Time

On Wednesday mornings, I have 4 hours all to myself while the kids are at school and "munch bunch".  It is really the only consistent quiet time I have during the week.  I like to spend it doing the things I love the most...Listening to music, sewing, taking time to drink a cup of tea and make a yummy lunch.  I am definitely someone who needs a bit of my own quiet time, but I'm not very good at doing nothing.  Sometimes I have an agenda and sometimes I just fiddle around all morning.  Music really brings it all together for me...like this song this one that were part of the background of this morning.  The rest of it went something like this... 

Sewing Bliss

Lunch

Sidekick

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Reflections

Earlier this week, I took some time to look back through my blog posts from the last couple of years.  So many things came clear to me...but the bottom line is I love blogging.  It is so rewarding to have those bits and pieces of life on record.  I was struck by how different aspects of life play on each other and how seasons shape our lives.  Some of my favorite blog posts were totally random but a good solid frame of reference made them totally significant.  My "Sunday Reflections" posts were often like that, so I decided to try to start getting back into the swing of them.

Today we fell back, ushering in shorter and eventually colder days.  I happen to like this shift, at least for a little while.  I think it slows us down a bit.  But, it definitely makes for a small window of time to get outside with the kids in the afternoons.  So, last week I did my best to get us all out as much as possible.  There was some swinging (and hand-holding) and some park trips.   Maggie made a friend one day and promptly taught her how to gallop around the park (on Bullseye the horse, of course).  Straight-up running is so overrated to her.  ;-)   

DSC00757

The kids and I also went to our favorite museum one afternoon and said Hello to all of our favorite animals.  Joe is getting more and more interested in dinosaurs.  He loves to go up to every sign and ask me the name of each dinosaur.  Then he repeats it, and gives me a look like "if you know what's good for you, don't laugh or even smile at the way I pronounced that word".  He insists a T-rex is just "T-rex"...no tyrannosaurus nothing, Mommy.  And, right now, I don't argue with that kid.  

DSC00783

It was a perfect Fall day, the museum was very quiet, and we enjoyed feeling like we had it all to ourselves! 

Best Friends

Saturday, we met with a bunch of friends (my Mom friends from Maggie's old preschool) at a park for a family field day.  It was soooooo fun!  Potato sack races, tug of war, mummy wraps, bean bag toss, food, friends...  All of the kids had a blast! 

Fall Field Day

We started talking tonight at dinner about thankfulness.  I put a bowl on the table and told the kids we could all write down or draw things we feel thankful for and stick them in the bowl.  It sparked all kinds of interest.  They are decidedly thankful for our cats, Lewis and Clark, although I don't think the feeling is mutual.  : )  I'm thankful for those long, beautiful Fall days we had last week and for the time I spent recalling and writing about them here. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

It's a wet one out there! Fortunately the kids didn't seem to notice.  And, they've had a multitude of Halloween events this weekend to make one rainy trick-or-treating night seem like no big deal.  This year the theme was rotating costumes for different events (sigh).  But, these, which they wore to a friend's party last night were my favorite!  Batgirl and Spiderman, of course.   

DSC00724

DSC00698

DSC00707

Mark discovered a new talent - face painting!  He did such a great job!  We also dressed up for the first time in YEARS.  It was an idea I had at the last minute, thus the costumes suffered a bit.  But, I think we did a decent job.  We went as two members from Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem band...

DSC00684

DSC00716

Anyone get it?  Anyone?....Anyone?....You know, these guys...




 















It was fun pulling it all together, and I think Mark looked pretty great, even sans saxophone.  I think I needed a mask to pull off Janice (or a facelift!).  But, it was fun anyway!   Happy Halloween!!

Killer Pumpkins

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some things that made my day...

:: Farmer's Market + Fall Goodies!

Fall!

:: Ladybug Screams = Silly, Scary Halloween Faces

Ladybug Screams

:: Lunch, Outside at Lilly's Pizza

Lilly's Pizza

:: Perfect Fall Sunshine...

Pizza + wolfpack

:: The return of my sewing machine + learning to paper piece + becoming a Farmer's Wife again!

FW # 31

:: Campfire night + smores!

DSC00429

This day couldn't have been much better....