Monday, December 24, 2012

Pictures With Santa

Here are a few of Emma's pictures with Santa (Brian dressed up as Santa!).  We took them through the local baby store with Snapshot Sisters.

And here's one of Emma for Halloween, also by Snapshot Sisters.  I also got in the picture :o)

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

O' Christmas Tree

I've already blogged about the ornaments Emma helped with this year for our tree but have yet to show the tree.  So here it is:

I've noticed we have tons of ball ornaments!  Probably because I can't resist the price!  Here's a cute picture of Emma and Brian checking out the tree when we first brought it into the house:

And once again Brian and I each bought an ornament for the tree this year.  I picked a four pack of felt birds I found on one of our Ikea excursions:

We saw this cute little owl at Target and I said we had to get it since Emma was an owl for Halloween.   So Brian "picked" it as his ornament for this year :o)

And Emma's ornaments were all the ones she helped to make.  Next year she can pick out her own :o)  Here she is in her jumper, she has a front row seat view of the tree.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Sweets

To celebrate the holidays the past couple of years my friends and I have gotten together for a cookie party.  I usually like to try new recipes along with old favorites and also make enough for my family too.  This year the new additions are Fleur de Sel caramels (not really a cookie but still a sweet!) and Turtle cookies.  The caramels I had made before as wedding favors and the Turtle cookies just looked delicious so I had to give them a try!  I made the caramels first using a recipe on Epicurious as the Turtle cookies called for caramels.

The tricky part of the caramel making is to wait until the sugar browns before adding the cream mixture.  In one of my previous attempts I added the cream too early and the resulting caramels were a light tan color rather than a deep caramel color.  This time I had success, and after cooling, cut them into bite size pieces.

I sprinkled half of the caramels with Fleur de Sel to make them look fancy:

The other half I coated in semi-sweet chocolate I melted with heavy whipping cream and then sprinkled with Fleur de Sel:

I then wrapped each individual caramel in wax paper and they are ready to enjoy :o)

For the Turtle cookies I followed the recipe on The Kitchen is my Playground blog.  These cookies may be my new favorite, they are DELICIOUS!!!!  I had to hide them away or they might not have made it until Christmas.  I can't wait to share them with friends and family!

I also made sugar cookies and plan to make some pecan ball cookies with recipes found here on a previous post.

I love Christmas time with all the goodies!!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Salt Dough Ornaments

I thought it would be fun to make some sort of ornament with Emma for the Christmas tree this year.  Knowing she's not too coordinated and wouldn't understand my instructions I needed something easy!  I found a pin on Pinterest for salt dough ornaments that I thought just might fit the bill.  The dough was simple enough to make, the tricky part would be to get Emma to spread out her hand for me to make an impression of it in the dough.  But she did a great job and we ended up getting some ornaments!

For the dough:

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water

Mix the ingredients together, adding enough water to form a dough.  Knead by hand for several minutes to make sure it is well mixed.  If the dough is too sticky to work with add more flour, if too dry add more water.

Then roll out the dough pretty thin and make your hand (or feet) impressions and cut out using either a large cookie cutter or glass. 

I also used my metal punch set to stamp in Emma's name and the year.  And make sure to use a straw or some other sort of instrument to make a hole to string ribbon through your ornament for hanging!

The first round I rolled the dough out too thick and when I dried them in the oven they puffed up a lot as you can see here, the one on the right puffed up deforming the hand shape a little :

  So I started over and rolled the next round a lot thinner and it worked better as you can see from the hand print on the left.  I also made sure to prick the dough over the entire surface with a pin before baking.  To harden the ornaments bake at 200F for 3 hours. 

I painted the dried ornaments with craft paint and glitter glue to outline the hand prints, as you can see from the dough picture above, the impression was not that visible but painting helps to define the print.  And I used a sharpie to help define the name and year stamp.

I then sprayed both sides of the ornament with gloss spray paint, strung some ribbon through the hole, and hung them on the tree!

I had some left over dough so I used cookie cutters to cut out some shapes and let Emma have some fun finger painting (which consisted mostly of me putting paint on her hands and letting her grab the ornaments).  I thought these would be cute little gifts for family from Emma :o)


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Our Family Christmas Card

We DIY'd our Christmas card this year since we had a cute little family addition.  A little after Halloween we took family pictures in the backyard.  I knit Emma a red and white striped beanie and put some red overalls on her and we were all set.  It's really difficult to get a good picture of everyone when one person hates being in photos (me) and you have a baby interested in everything around her.  We did get a few good shots, and most importantly a cute one of Emma!

I ordered through Shutterfly online which I've used for photobooks before.  I chose a card template, uploaded our pictures and it was as easy as that.  Within a couple weeks we had our cards ready to send out to friends and family :o)

Here's our family card for this year:

5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Starting of Traditions

Since this is Emma's first Christmas I thought it would be fun to start traditions that we could continue each Christmas.  A while back either on a blog or maybe Pinterest I came across the idea of gifting the kids pajamas on Christmas Eve so they can wear them to bed that night and wake up Christmas morning in new pajamas.  I thought that was a fun idea and I even remembered to do it this year which is a miracle considering that I have been operating on little sleep the last 6 months!  I don't know if kids will find this as exciting but I thought it sounded fun!

So a few weeks back there was a sale on pajamas on Carter's website so I ordered Emma cute red and white striped footsy pajamas.  They have a Santa face on the backside and little Santa faces on the feet.  Emma actually wore them a little early as our local baby store had Santa pictures last weekend and the kids were supposed to wear pajamas. 

Since Emma will have on her new pajamas on Christmas Eve when Santa will actually be stopping by I figured for her Santa pictures she should be wearing them too, to keep things real you know, haha.  Brian actually got to dress up as Santa for the pictures although his face won't be visible.  The photographers came up with the idea to have a parent dress as Santa to get a Santa picture without tears for younger kids.  So Brian put on the Santa outfit and I tried to get her to smile so hopefully we have a few good photos to share soon!

I also thought it would be nice if we read a story on Christmas Eve with Emma in her new pajamas and what better story than "The Night Before Christmas!".  I found a really nice copy with beautiful pictures on the Barnes and Noble website on sale.  When it arrived I wrote a short inscription inside the front cover and wrapped it up with the pajamas.

Here are her cute pajamas, they say "My 1st Christmas" on the front :o):

And "The Night Before Christmas":

And I wrapped the arms around the book in a hug :o)

The book will be something we can read every Christmas Eve.  I also thought it might be fun to take a picture each year reading the book as new kiddos join the group and include those inside the cover.  Christmas will be so exciting now with a new little one to celebrate with!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

DIY Christmas Stockings

As this year will be Emma's first Christmas I decided to try my hand at sewing her a Christmas stocking.  I initially bought fabric at Joann's I thought was fun and something that she would enjoy as she grew up, i.e. nothing too childish since I wanted her stocking to be something she used for many years.  After making the stocking I decided I wanted it to be slightly larger so it was back to the drawing board.  But instead of beginning again with what was left over of the fabric Brian claimed that stocking as his own so I had to find new fabric for Emma's stocking AND now I had to make stockings for the WHOLE family.  But it all worked out because I found really cute Christmas bird fabric I liked even better for Emma on  For some reason birds make me think of Emma, like Snow White or something :o)

And here you can see how all our stockings turned out.  Most of the fabric I bought at Joann's but the fabric for Emma's and the cuff on Bailey the cat's came from  And since we don't have a mantel, the knobs on my desk will have to do for hanging.

To make the stockings I found a tutorial online along with a pattern on the Fabric Worm blog.  The following photos are of the initial stocking that is now Brian's.  I printed and cut out the pattern and then laid it out the in the approximate size I wanted. 

Then I filled in the gap with a sheet of paper:

And then cut the addition to follow the curve of the stocking, making the top piece a little wider than the original pattern:

For Emma's stocking I not only made it longer as shown in the pictures above but also about an inch wider on each side.

Here is a picture of the fabrics I used.  The batting I had on hand from another project I never got around to and an off-white muslin for the lining (I forgot to add the muslin for the picture, but it's just a plain fabric).

I then cut two stocking shapes out of each of following: the red and green Christmas fabric (so the two good sides would have toes pointing in opposite directions), the muslin lining, and the batting.

I then sandwiched the Christmas fabric, right sides together, between two batting pieces and pinned everything into place.  Next I sewed the pieces together with a 1/2 inch seem allowance leaving the top of the stocking open. 

After I finished sewing the batting to the Christmas fabric I trimmed some of the excess batting around the toe and heel for easier turning of the stocking right-side out.  Then I pinned the lining pieces together and sewed them with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Brian took an action-shot of me actually sewing the lining together at this point.

Leaving the seam on the outside of the lining (no turning inside out), I then stuffed the lining into the stocking between the two pieces of batting (so the seam is now hidden).

For the cuff, I wanted it to be a little longer than what the tutorial called for so I measured the fabric to the desired length.

I then cut batting to that length and followed the instructions on the Fabric Worm tutorial by sewing the short sides of the dot fabric together with the batting along half.

I then folded the dot fabric down around the batting so the batting was sandwiched between the folded dot fabric.  (The Fabric Worm tutorial explains this a bit more clearly with pictures.)  The cuff was then stuffed into the stocking with the raw edges of all fabric, lining, batting at the top.  I had to adjust the seam allowance on the cuff a couple times before it would fit flat in the stocking without any bulges.  I also added a loop of green ribbon for hanging, placing the ribbon loop-side in to the stocking between the lining and cuff fabrics along the back seam of the stocking.

I then sewed all the pieces together.  At this point the stocking was very thick so make sure you are using a sharp needle on your sewing machine.  My needle was a bit old so had a hard time piercing all layers of the fabric (the needle actually bent and I had to replace it!).  After everything is sewn together, flip the cuff out and fold it over the stocking and it is ready for hanging.

I bought some iron-on embroidered letters to add names to all our stockings.  The larger letters for Emma's name were individually purchased from Joann's and the smaller letters for "Mom", "Dad", and "Bailey" came from Michael's on an alphabet sheet of letters.

And once again, here are the finished stockings!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Windowsill Planters

We have two small windows on one wall in our living room that overlook our side yard.  They also provide a nice view to the neighbors house and a partial view of the street :o(  Although we want a bit more privacy I didn't want to add curtains because the windows offer a lot of light in the morning and I like the molding around the windows so I didn't want to cover them up.

Here you can see the view of our neighbors house out the left window:

And out the right window is the street:

My plan of action was to move the planters I had on the windowsill in the kitchen to these windows in the living room.  I bought new planters at Ikea for the kitchen that I hope to plant herbs.  The sad thing is I also had to buy a few more succulents to replace the ones that had either died or were on their last leg.  Yes, my watering leaves something to be desired as I cannot even keep succulents alive!  And I work with plants for my job, but at work watering is in my schedule so those plants I remember to water :o)

Anyway back to the project at hand.  Here is the right window with the new planter of succulents:

As you can see it adds a bit more privacy, but mostly it adds a bit of greenery to the room.  You can also see the little sun-activated mobile prism Brian received from his grandparents that he enjoyed as a kid.  Emma loves to watch the rainbows float across the room and it also is quite entertaining for Bailey the cat!

Here's the left window:

And a closer shot with a figurine we received when we were married, just for a more artsy angle:

Yeah, maybe not much more in the way of privacy, but I think it adds a little decor to the windowsill at least and I can pretend about the privacy part ;0)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Since this was Emma's first Halloween I thought I would try my hand at making a costume, well part of a costume.  I really love the knit owl hats I've seen on Etsy so I decided Emma would be an owl for Halloween just so I would be able to buy one of those hats!  After looking at the different owl hats I found one on another website for a bit cheaper so I went with that one and bought some striped black and white leg warmers on Amazon.  I made the "feather" onesie and wings myself :o)

Here she is, doesn't she look so cute!

For the wings I followed the directions on Martha Stewart's website for a bluebird costume.  I chose felt in similar colors to the yarn used on the owl hat.  I made the wings slightly smaller for Emma, so I adjusted all the measurements down to 2/3 the original size.  I didn't worry too much about getting the shape the exact same as the website, just approximately the same and trimmed any overhanging felt after gluing all the pieces together.

I then attached the elastic and velcro to the underside of the wings with fabric glue.

For the "feathered" onesie I cut out "feathers" from the orange and white felt remaining from the wings.  I staggered white "feather" rows with orange "feather" rows and glued them directly to the onesie.

I also glued the corresponding velcro piece from the wings to the shoulder of the onesie to help hold the wings in place.

And there you have it, my first attempt at making Emma a costume.  The wings only lasted for picture taking before those had to be taken off, but she was fine wearing her onesie all day and doesn't mind the owl hat!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Little Birdies

A while back on a shopping excursion to Michael's I came across these cute wooden bird ornaments.  They were carved out of wood with legs and feet made from metal wire.  I bought a few of them as I thought they would be fun to use as decorations.

I didn't want to hang them so my first task was to remove the metal loop from the back with needle nose pliers.  I then filled in the hole with wood filler and sanded it smooth.

I painted the birds in fun colors with craft paint I had and set them out on the shoe cabinet by the front door for a cheerful greeting as you come or go.