Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Recent Craftiness

I have been busily sewing, knitting, crafting and creating this month!  Here's a brief run-down of what I've done since Dec. 1st.
  • 7 Christmas-themed hostess aprons (plus a pending request for 3 more!!!)
  • 4 Hostess aprons, including a mother-daughter set that turned out adorable - that I forgot to photograph before shipping out!
  • 1 Birthday party for my favorite 5-year-old, including a racecar-themed variation of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey"
  • 4 Gift cards purchased for our teachers (I'm the Teacher Appreciation Mom for both classes, so I spent a Wednesday driving all over town to pick up cards for their favorite restaurants)
  • 4 Custom gift bags for those gift cards
  • 2 Pillowcase dresses
  • 1 Appliqued onesie
  • 36 Reindeer candycanes for school friends
  • 1 Cheeta-and-denim purse
  • Plus cookies for our MOPS cookie exchange, treats for our family, countless meals and snacks for our family ...

I've also attended the MOPS Steering Christmas party, my MOPS small-group Cookie Exchange (hosted at my house), the Women's Group dinner at church, Mitchell's Christmas program at school, Paul's company holiday party and my mom's annual get-together (in Baytown!).  Tomorrow, Paul's parents and brother arrive for Christmas at our house.

'Tis the season!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

It's been a while since I've added anything here to my blog.  I think the fact that Facebook is slowly taking over all online communications has lessened my need to post things here.  (Sorry to my readers who aren't on Facebook, MOTHER!)  And, I apologize for any misspellings.  Blogger changed their layout, and I can't find the spell-check tool.

Anyhoo, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things.  (That song, BTW, makes me cringe!)

Our Christmas Tree.  This year, I let the boys do most of the tree decorating - and I didn't go back and redo any of it!  I did snag a few ornaments to put closer to the top so it wasn't so bottom heavy.  And, I've never found a topper I love, so I tied some huge bows.

Big Bows.  The holidays are the chance for me to tie bows as big as Homecoming mums and hang them all over the house.  I scored this great wired sheer ribbon with gold glittery snowflakes for half-off!  The roll was huge, so these bows are all over the house.

My Nativity.  The church I attended as a child had a ceramics guild who made these beautiful Nativity pieces for the children who attended Sunday School each year.  I don't have the complete set - which includes things like camels and donkeys! - but I have the ones that matter most.

Our Stockings.  My mom handmade each of these stockings for us.  She applied all the tiny beads and sequins!  So special.

Holiday Baking.  Mitchell and I kicked off the holiday baking season with Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.  Mmm!  Here he is sneaking a taste of the brown sugar as he measures.  Tonight, I'm trying my hand at Snickerdoodles for a cookie exchange tomorrow morning.

Sentimental Ornaments.  I love hanging ornaments from our childhood.  The one on the right is a stocking ornament with a photo of Paul as a kid.  The one on the left is a Christmas kitty that my uncle Benjamin gave me.  The tag says 1978!

My Boys.  My favorite-ist things of all are my wonderful guys!  Mitchell, Noah and Paul are a blessing everyday!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Overheard in the Car Today

N: Here, Mitchell. Fix my bicycle.

M: Why do you keep breaking it?

N: I don't know. Fix it!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Speed Racer!

Tonight, the weather is perfect. We've enjoyed the last hour+ of
daylight on the patio, listening to music, drawing with chalk and
having tons of fun!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Big Bugs!

On Labor Day, we headed down to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens to see the new Big Bugs! exhibit.

In addition to the spider, there were ants, a dragonfly, damselfly, assassin bug, grasshopper and praying mantis.

The boys got to release some ladybugs and make bug music.

Mitchell held a giant grub - and freaked out when it moved! The poor grub went flying through the air and landed on the sidewalk!  The handler quickly scooped it up and put it away, telling us to keep quiet. Turns out, the grubs belong to the guy a few feet away and the handler was afraid he'd flip out if he saw what happened!!!

Going mobile?

I've finally activated mobile and email posting, so maybe I can keep
things more up-to-date now.

We'll see!

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

We celebrated Noah's second birthday yesterday with lots of family and friends! Here's just a few of the billions of photos!

The Barrel of Monkeys cake. The idea was that they were escaping from the barrel. You can't really see the ones hanging off the side that well. (And, a few kiddos had "played" with them!)

Paul carving up the brisket. He also smoked a pork shoulder for the party. MMMMmmmm!

Mommy and the birthday boy.

Happy Birthday bunting I made.

These were the pinata bags. Everyone also took home a barrel of monkeys.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hot Day Fun

How do you entertain four kids ages 4 and under when the temperature is 100+?

Bathtub Swimming!!!

My friend Tenley came over with her two adorable kiddos and we suited them up and threw them in my tub. Giggles and splashes ensued!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Family Vacation 2009

We had a wonderful vacation with Paul's parents and brother at the Amelia Island Plantation. The week was spent in the sand, surf and sun. This was Noah's first trip to the beach, and he loved it as much as Mitchell.

Noah feeling the sand in his toes. The poor marshmallow had to be thrown away (you should have seen the sandy crust on it!).

Grandpa and Noah enjoying a walk on the beach our first night there.

As usual, Noah showed no fear of the waves.

Mitchell loves the ocean and asks daily when we'll go back!

Mitchell and Uncle Frank hanging out in the ocean. Those boys love their Uncle Frank!
Paul and Noah taking in some waves.

Mitchell trying not to smile at 29 South. Chef Scotty brought him some special ice cream.

Noah balancing a spoon on his nose at 29 South. Chef Scotty brought him the biggest spoon he could find. (I'll spare you the photo of him covered in the sorbet!)

Mitchell took this photo from our condo balcony.

One of the many turtles we saw snacking on grass outside our condo.

As always, we enjoyed some great food on our vacation. I'm not sure which was my favorite: 29 South, Joe's 2nd Street Bistro or PLAE.

At 29 South, we enjoyed the chef's table, just outside the kitchen. Chef Scotty Schwartz kept us entertained - and well fed! - throughout the entire meal. (And, the boys kept him entertained!)

Mitchell expanded his palette during this trip, enjoying almost half of Uncle Frank's Smokehouse Mussels at 29 South! He also devoured the calamari at PLAE. (Noah, too, enjoyed lots of new foods, including duck!)

Paul had the Shrimp and Grits, which was to die for. I had a fresh corn and shrimp bisque, followed by the Southern Barbeque Cobb Salad. Frank ordered the Sweet Tea Brined Pork Chop, which was genius. The macaroni gratin featured blackberry preserves, which sounds really bizarre but was delicious. (It wasn't mac-and-cheese with jelly!)

Be on the lookout for the recipe for the delicious "Coffee and Doughnuts" dessert. Chef Scotty says it will be published in Bon Appetit's RSVP column toward the end of the year! (And, if you are ever out that way, stop by 29 south and enjoy it yourself!)

Joe's 2nd Street Bistro was our favorite restaurant during our last visit to Amelia Island (in 2007, while I was pregnant with Noah!). Nothing has changed - it was as wonderful as we remembered.

Mitchell instantly made friends with the entire staff. He was on a first-name basis with our waiter within minutes! (He knows no strangers!)

I thoroughly enjoyed my Grouper wrapped in a Corn Husk. Mmm - I can taste the spices just thinking about it! Paul and his mom both enjoyed an elk special that was perfectly done.

We almost didn't eat at PLAE because the description made it sound like it was adults-only. And, when I made the reservation, they said they don't have high chairs. I'm so glad we decided to go!

The staff went above and beyond to make the boys feel special! And, we had a wonderful meal. Mom and I enjoyed the Duck Springrolls and the Open-Face Salmon Ravioli. Noah loved his Coconut Chicken, and Mitchell polished off his Calamari.

The always-good Verandah didn't disappoint on this trip either. They have a fantastic starter salad that includes crisped wontons and a yummy sesame dressing. The grouper with the blue crab crust was delicious too. (And, we ate way too much dessert there - it was too good to stop!)

And, we enjoyed some nice lunches too. Gourmet Gourmet, our favorite sandwich spot from the last trip, was still open. We even braved Marche Burette - which, I'm happy to report, now has changing stations in its restrooms.

Mom and I (and Noah) enjoyed a morning of shopping in historic Fernandina Beach. We stumbled into two great shops: Twisted Sisters and Twisted Kids. I came away with a gorgeous Viva Beads necklace (thanks Mom and Dad!) and tons of ideas for sewing.

Mitchell had an extra-special day of his own, attending the Kids Camp. It was Super Hero Training Camp, and he was the BMOC! He went fishing and caught a sun fish, went swimming and enjoyed a super drippy fudge pop.

There are lots of other great photos that Paul's parents took, but I can't seem to make the disk open on our computer. Boo! While Mom and I shopped, the big boys went fishing. Lots of time, too, was spent in the sand and the waves.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sewing for a Super Hero

Mitchell asked me to sew him something. I thought long and hard about what I could make for a boy. So, I whipped up a special cape. He offered his creative input (switching the flames fabric to be the lightning bolt and the oval to the yellow lightning bolt fabric). It took no time at all, and he's hardly taken it off since I finished.

Who Knew? Stridex and WD-40

I picked up some great tips the past few days!

The Stridex Pedicure
While at the MOPS planning retreat this weekend at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort, Catherine mentioned a pedicure secret: Stridex.

Yep, Stridex. Apparently the same stuff that gets rid of teen boys' pimples also softens your feet. It has to do with the salicylic acid, I think.

Anyway, you clean your feet with Stridex then slather with Vaseline and put on a pair of socks. I must say, my feet haven't looked this good in a really long time. (BTW: I prepped mine with the PedEgg before the Stridex.)

WD-40 on my Stovetop
Monday night, I was making shrimp for supper and decided that orzo would be a nice side. When I was filling the pot at the sink, apparently one of those great brown scraper cleaning tool thingies from Pampered Chef stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Now, who checks the bottom of the pot before putting on your smooth-top range?! Obviously, not me. I kept hearing a popping noise and figured the bottom of the pot was wet, which happens all the time.

I went in to wiggle the pot a little and discovered the melted scraper ... all over my stovetop.

So much for the orzo!

I didn't know what to do so I Googled for some suggestions. The one I saw over and over again was to spray the plastic with WD-40 then let it sit for a minute and scrape it off.

Worked like a charm! I have a cleaning tool with a razor blade, which made it almost effortless to scrape off the gunk.

Unfortunately, my mind wasn't working when I decided to spray my cooktop with WD-40 before cooking super. That stuff is potently flammable, so I asked Paul to pick up supper. We had sushi. Yum!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Meet Bernie

This month is "Sewing Machine Month" on Sew, Mama, Sew. To kick off the month, they're asking us "regulars" to answer a few questions about our own machines.

What brand and model do you have? Bernina Virtuosa 160

How long have you had it? At least four years. It sat unused in the closet until this January!

How much does that machine cost (approximately)? I don't know what it cost when it was new, but I've seen them online from $750 to $1,200 used.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)? I'm still quite new to sewing, so I've tried a little of everything. I use it mostly for handbags and aprons.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get? I try to sew a few hours each week, if possible. It varies, based on what we've got going on and when Noah naps (and how tired I am at night!) Before it was mine, the machine was used a lot by my MIL.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? I love my machine! I love the ease of use (since I read the manual and learned!). I love all the decorative stitches.

Does he/she have a name? Bernie (it's a boy)

What features does your machine have that work well for you? I like that the outside of the presser foot is 1/4 inch from the needle - and that the inside is 1/8 inch. Little things like that make it easy for me to know what I'm doing!

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine? Only when I wasn't confident using it did it drive me nuts - because I was doing stuff wrong!

Do you have a great story to share about your machine? We want to hear it! My MIL gave me my machine. She's an expert quilter and upgraded to a new machine (also a Bernina).

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why? Yes. It can do so much, and it's really easy to use (once you take the time to learn).

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine? Make sure it does what you want - and a little more. Once you start using it, you'll be amazed at how much you want to try new things!

Do you have a dream machine? I'd love to have an embroidery machine. I'd love to be able to add monograms and extra decorative special things to the aprons I sew.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fantastic Day

Today, I took the boys out for the morning to get out of Paul's hair.

(In praise of Paul: Thursday, he took off of work so I could spend most of the day at church doing planning for the coming year. How great is my husband?! And, Wednesday was our ninth anniversary, and he surprised me with a stunning gold necklace with pearl drops. Is this man great, or what?! I credit his jewelry shopping ability to genetics: His dad is an expert jewelry shopper!!!)

Anyhoo, back to our day.

The boys and I headed out around 8:45 this morning so Daddy could sleep in. We headed over to Benny's Bagels for breakfast. Yum-O! Mitchell had a Danish, Noah had a Screamerdog (breakfast sausage and cheese wrapped in bagel and baked), and I had an Asiago cheese bagel with chive-and-onion cream cheese topped with spinach and tomato. OMG. I could eat that every day and be a very, very happy woman!

Then, we headed down to the Pearl Farmers Market for some shopping. We scored with beets (never tried 'em - branching out!), carrots, mini yellow squash, peaches, pecans, olive twists from Biga on the Banks plus some sunflower plants. And, the plant guy was so nice he gave me a daylily plant as an added bonus.

The Pearl - quickly growing into a cultural hot spot in San Antonio.

We hung out around the Pearl Brewery and listened to some brewery retirees talk about the old days. Pearl has a special place in my heart: My PawPaw drank Pearl. It was one of the last beers to go to the pop top. The boys were more interested in the water feature and the brewery train (which the guys called "The Trolley") than their stories of a time gone by.

Pearl retirees telling stories of working at the brewery.

I, for one, couldn't think of a better way to spend my Saturday morning than spooking around the brewery, with all its history and its present and future ... all rolled into one today. Next weekend, the grand opening of the River Walk expansion will be held. Guess where it takes you now? The Pearl.

Longhorn artwork at The Pearl.

After we left The Pearl, we headed over to Fiesta on Main, one of my favorite local shops. I picked up some great embroidered shirts plus a skirt. The boys each picked out a little bag.

Inspired by the fantastic flowers at Fiesta, I came home and began working on my own paper flowers.

What a wonderful day!

Now Working: Paper Flowers

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Future Gold Medalist

Mitchell goes to gymnastics every Tuesday morning and loves it!

Help with the Back Flip.

Perfecting his hand stand.

Forward roll.

Ta Da!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Viva Fiesta! Barrette

Here's my first completed project using my vintage flower loom. I've decided to call them the Viva Fiesta! Barrettes. They remind me of fun and summmer and, of course, Fiesta!

I made the flower using lime green and hot pink raffia, then attached it to a snap clip. Wrapping the clip in hot pink made for a nice finish, I think. I'm going to make up a few more and add them to my Etsy shop. (I also have turquoise raffia, so I can make a few different combos.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Toys: Vintage Flower Looms

They say that everything old is new again, and flower looming is no exception. This craft reached its heyday in the '60s and '70s, and thanks to craftinista Cathy of California, it's back in a big way! Cathy even taught Martha Stewart how to create flowers the other day!

Here's my flower loom kit plus two projects I played with yesterday. I used gift-wrap ribbon (aka, curly ribbon). I can tell you, it's a tedious task to loom a flower. With practice, though, I'm sure it will be lots of fun!

Here's a detail of the two flowers I loomed yesterday with gift-wrap ribbon. The purple one on the left was done on the larger pegs on the large square loom. I wrapped the ribbon 3-5 times around each peg then knotted it off in the middle. Once I removed it from the loom, I split the ribbons down the middle and then cut the loops to make a really pretty chrysanthemum.

The flower on the right was done on the double circular loom. I used lime green for the outside petals and turquoise for the inside. I backstitched around the center, like the instruction manual suggested.

I left long tails of ribbon on both of these so I can use them on gift packages. Bags of goodies have never looked so good!

(BTW: If you'd like a vintage flower loom set of your own, you can purchase it from Cathy's etsy shop.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu: What You Need to Know

There have been multiple cases of swine flu reported in our area, and it has caused quite a bit of alarm. One local school district even closed all 14 of its schools for the week. Friends are Facebooking and Tweeting, seeking advice about keeping their kiddos home.

So, dear readers, I've put together this handy fact sheet about swine flu.

Can I get swine flu after holding one of those cute little animals at the Northgate Country Club Easter Brunch?
Luckily, no. swine flu is transmitted just like the regular flu - mostly through being sneezed on or coughed at.

A kid at a recent birthday party squealed like a pig when it was time to leave. Am I at risk?
Probably. You never know if that kid didn't want to leave or was part pig.

A guy at the grocery store smelled pretty bad. Was I exposed?
Probably. He could be part pig and, thus, a carrier.

We had some delicious pork sandwiches the other day. Should I be worried?
I may have sneezed and/or coughed while slicing the meat, so I'd see a doctor ASAP.

Is it OK to still eat pork?
Yes. Swine flu is transmitted through particulates in the air. As long as no one nearby is chewing with his/her mouth open, you're not at risk.

What is the best way to prevent spreading swine flu?
Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. You should cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm (then, don't rub the crook of your arm onto someone's face, unless of course you really don't like the person). Wash your hands often for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Recite "This Little Piggy" several times to ensure a thorough wash. Don't kiss any pigs, unless, of course, it looks like this. How could you resist?

In all seriousness, swine flu might mean I have to spend a few extra days with my kids at home because the powers that be might decide to cancel preschool. Or Kindermusik. Or MOPS. As long as HEB continues to sell wine, this too shall pass.

(For real info on swine flu, click here, here, here and here.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gina's Apron

I just completed my latest sewing order - an apron for Gina. Years ago, she and I worked together and reconnected via Facebook. She asked if I'd sell her an apron.

Her requests were that it be brown and pink and that it have pockets.

I tried some new things with this one. I used D-rings at the neck so it can be easily adjusted for a comfortable fit. The waist tie is super long so it can be tied to the front - but it's still short enough that it didn't hang down too far when I tied it to the back.

Notice that kicky little ruffle at the bottom hem. Yep, that was a new technique as well. And, that little loop thingy at the waist is to hold your dish towel while you're cooking. (Paul pointed out that it could also holster a pair of tongs and asked if I'd make him a Man-Pron for when he's barbecuing. He said he'd let me know where to place things so his tools are handy.)

I also did some rousching on the waist band to give it some shape - and it goes up in the middle for definition.

All in all, I'm very, very, VERY pleased with this project. It was - hands down - the best binding job I've ever done, and I like all the extras.

Gina has already said she loves it based on the photos. Guess there's no chance of her changing her mind so I can keep it!

P.S., thanks to my fantastic photographer, Paul. Poor guy probably rolls his eyes when I ask him to take the photo of the finished item. Then again, wasn't that one of the vows? You know - in sickness and in health, in lameness and in coolness. I think I remember that one.

Next up is a mother-daughter hostess apron set - also an order via Facebook. This one is for my high school friend Mika to give to one of her college friends for her birthday in June. I can't wait - It will feature Alexander Henry's Spotted Owl in Green Tea. How cute is that?! I might try a new hostess apron pattern.

My Handsome Fellas

The other morning, Mitchell woke up before Paul left for work and realized he, too, had a blue shirt. And so did Noah. So he asked if they could all wear the same color shirts, which they've dubbed the Strong Brothers Uniform. Aren't they handsome?