Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Finally finished Pink 'crazy' Quilt

Oh my dear blog... how much I have missed you.  And truth be told, I have many projects to share, but just little motivation to actually sit down and write.  For whatever reason, once you get out of the swing/habit of posting on a regular basis it is difficult to get back into the routine.  I had grand plans to revamp and be more regular once the kiddos went back to school, but instead I have lost myself in my sewing machine and piles of fabric.  Fun stuff for me as there is a local venue or 2 that I have enough inventory to participate this holiday season.   
This little quilt, I finished FINALLY this week.  It has been one of those WIPs for so long that I cannot even guess when I started it.
I do think that it is lovely still - although there are things that I would do differently - smaller pieces less severe contrast between the fabrics.  But I try not to be too critical as this was a scrappy quilt whose intent was to use up some of the every growing box in my cupboard.
To make this blanket, I used fabric foundation and pieced as I worked my way to the outsides.  It is very similar to how my mother in law showed me to do a crazy quilt.  If you remember way back when I shared my jean quilt with you this was made in the same manner.  There is no batting in this quilt, but backed with flannel it will still be a cozy treat.
Someday I am going to learn to do free motion quilting, but for now I mostly do straight lines.  I changed the thread colors of the random criss-crossed straight lines on this to keep a more modern fun twist to the finished blanket.
Sometimes the backgrounds of pictures are the best!  I love fall, and these colors are just about over (there was even snow on the ground this morning a few miles south of me).  If you look close, that is Lake Superior just beyond the trees - hard to see as the lake and the clouds were they same color that day.  I love that I can see the lake from my house and enjoy all the changing moods.  Some days it is a stark contrast between lake and sky, others you can see storm fronts moving in from the west...
And... the wood pile.  Yup, winter is coming and we still need to cut and split our wood.  If we just were on the ball and did this in the spring.  It has seemed to work out ok each year so far, so I will trust that I will once again stay warm this winter.
Have a great day!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Monsters University {Leap Frog Product Review}

Wow! It surely has been way too long.  I did not realize how long it has been.  I have severely neglected my little space here in blogland.  Baseball season is finally over in our house; as a volunteer in the organization I spend much of my free time accomplishing different organizational tasks during the short season.  I love most of what I put into our local Little League, but I will say it is somewhat of a relief to know that I am done with those duties until next April.
Funny thing is that my sewing days did not end in April, but continued until school ended for the bigger kids.  There were even some super fun projects that I hope to share on here eventually, but the time to take photos and type a blog post were just nonexistent.
I was also contacted by LeapFrog again to look at their Monsters University materials.  I jumped at the chance once again to receive their fabulous products for my kids to use (and me to review).  The UPS package contained a Monsters U game cartridge for my Leapfrog Leapster GS (Google Affiliate Ad) and a Monsters U Tag reader book.
I loved the first Monsters, Inc. book and movie by Disney, and I was not disappointed by this prequel story.
The game is a level based game that increases difficulty as you progress.  My littles enjoyed a challenge, and the bigger ones were competitive in how many levels they could master.
Within the game levels you collect different items, some if which unlock monster attributes to be applied to your own personal monster.  To personalize your monster add your own face and scary sound.
The Tag book was less involved and definitely geared toward a younger audience.  I loved that the game every few pages reviewed what the story was about asking content and comprehension questions.  These types of questions makes a child think about and process what they were hearing.  There are 3D glasses that add a fun element to the story telling (but if you lose them - I did not - you can still enjoy the book with out the glasses).
This fall I will send a kindergardener out the door, fully confident in his future success in school.  Leap Frog and their products have been a great aid in teaching him the basics of letters, numbers, sounds, colors as well as more advanced concepts such as word formation, sounding out words, mathematics, and logic.  Once again I recommend their products as a great tool in helping children in the learning process.  They take subjects and concepts that could become tedious and provide a playful environment for the learning/teaching process.
Thank you to all at LeapFrog for your products.

 {Disclosure: I received the above mentioned materials from LeapFrog as compensation for this review.  The have given no instructions or requirements as to the content of the review, and the opinions are all mine.  Photos were provided by LeapFrog.}

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Baby Shoes

I have a bit of a problem - when it comes to putting shoes on my babies, I fail.  It is just one more thing to remember and keep track of, and when they are little the bundle me and blankets keep them cozy.
But..... then I have babies who start walking and REFUSE to wear anything on their feet.  Fine if we spend our life at the beach, but ice rinks and schools and stores and everywhere are not really the cleanest places to have a baby running around with no shoes.
{Disclaimer - the mess is due to the fact that I spent the day lost in my sewing }
Recently I needed to solve that problem as we were spending most of our weekend out and about, requiring the baby to wear something on her feet.
Problem: She would not walk in any shoes that had a hard bottom all the soft soled shoes fell off her feet.
Solution: I found this pattern.
There is elastic that runs around the ankle just perfectly placed to keep the boot in place.  Our little Gem kept them on all day - socks stayed clean and feet were adequately protected form the environment.  I put faux suede on the bottoms to provide a bit more bulk under her feet.
The full side opening with a velcro closure makes them super easy to get on - even her daddy does not complain about that task!
I hope that these will transition her to actual shoes before baseball season starts.  Otherwise I better get working on beefing them up a bit more.  I love when projects I make can be used by my kids.
Hope your day is absolutely wonderful.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

On a whim I painted...

This past week was a crazy week at our house.  It was already going to be a shortened week with no school Friday, but the kids were given 2 extra days off this week due to a blizzard that came through our hills.  By the afternoon of the second day we all were crawling the walls.
I was finally able to exit my driveway, so I ventured into town for lunch and to help advise on paint colors for the office.  At ACE filling the order for REL, Inc., I realized I was in the mood to paint.  They had kids in to do the office walls, so I came home and tackled my main bathroom.  That room needed to be re-painted since we moved in over 5 years ago.  It was one of the rooms that I never picked out paint for; instead, just dumped what I had left into a bucket and call it good enough.  {this is the before color}
Lately, I am drawn to  yellow and grey color palates.  Waiting to find a shower curtain was my plan initially, but now I'll just have to find one that works with my paint instead of finding paint to match.  I think a grey chevron pattern would be perfect.  For now the white is 'okay.'
Any projects around your house getting done?  {Seriously bathroom photos are hard to get right!}
Have a lovely weekend.

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Friday, February 15, 2013


The other morning my two pre-school boys were bouncing off the walls, which starts to happen as winter closes in on us.
 I found this {very healthy} cereal box in my burnable pile, which I decided would make a great mailbox or 2.  After cutting it in half and re-gluing the open end, I covered each half in fabric - no sewing just a hot glue gun and fabric.  I forgot how quick and easy hot glue is, and for this project perfection was not necessary.
After each half was covered I put their initial on each mailbox and made a door flap.  Every mailbox needs a number, so theirs were not complete until the numbers were assigned to each box.
It was a relatively quiet afternoon of writing and coloring around our house!  With a few 'how do you spell...' questions.  I love how kids just like a space that is theirs - even if it is only a small portion of a cubic foot.

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Key chains (Wristlets)

I feel like every project on this blog lately has been of the quick and easy variety, but I suppose that is what stage of life I am in right now.  Things that do not take too much time, because time is at a premium.  Projects that are easy because in the course of a sewing day I am interrupted approximately 4,679 times!

 Made by the dozens this fall, these wristlets used up a large amount of scraps.  You know - those fabric pieces that you have from other projects that are really too small for anything, but you just cannot part with because you love the fabric too much.  In fact it took you so long to get the nerve to actually cut it that you are. not. wasting a single portion.
 I cut strips of fabric that were approximately 1.5" wide by about 10" long.  The outside of the loop is cotton, and the inside is a very heavy home decorating fabric that I used for a set of roman shades like these!  I sewed wrong sides together and the turned the tubes.
 Those 3 little words 'turned the tubes' took absolutely forever.  Most of the strips were actually skinnier than 1.5" making just a little too small of an area for easy turning.  My fingers and hands absolutely ached for a few days after that job.  If/when I make them again I will make sure that I make them a bit wider (1.75' would be perfect) or use different inside fabric.
 After all the turning, ironing is required before top-stitching along both edges.  Next, I threaded the tube through the key ring and sewed the tube into a circle.  To cover the raw edges, a ribbon is folded around the tube and top stitched keeping the key ring in place and finishing the project.
 So what kind of fun, quick, easy projects have you made?

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Old School {Checkbook covers}

Maybe I am old school, but I still carry a checkbook - some of the monthly bills we have require checks.  I do occasionally use the banks online bill payment system, but generally I sit down each month with my check book.
Paying bills each month is right up there with getting a root canal - as with most houses in this economy and with growing families there never seems to be enough to go around.  But a fancy schmancy check cover makes me smile!  {Kind of like packing lunches}
I made one for myself just over a year ago; jury is still out on if that makes the whole process better.  Early this fall I promised my grandma I would make her a new one, but with fall bazaar season and Christmas the project did not arrive at the top of my 'to-do' list until last month.  And in normal Amy fashion, once I was making one there was no good reason not to make several, in fact a couple of friends have already asked for one - perfect!  
I use carbon copies for my checks and it took me a bit of wracking my brain to figure out what I had around to use as a protector between checks.  After putting one together without anything, I realized I had page sleeves that would work perfectly.  The step of getting it to stay in the 'sandwich' as you sew and then turning it ride-side out is a bit tricky, and I do not love that it looks wrinkled/creased, but it serves the purpose.  The finishing portion of this project was the most difficult: mostly being careful with the iron - keeping it away from the plastic and ribbon.

There is nothing quite like finishing a project off with the perfect funky button!

I followed this tutorial - I had no alterations because why mess with measurements that are already perfect!

Hope you have a great weekend.

Monday, January 28, 2013


A project to share!  Finally...

Sewing days have begun again for the year - I feel so so so lucky to have a friend who will travel to my house each week with her sewing projects for several reasons.  1. I would have a really hard time packing up my 3 pre-schoolers each week or even every other week.  2. It makes me set aside a whole day and dedicate it to sewing, and although I have so many projects on my to-do list I have a hard time actually carving out time, and these days a so needed.  3. We are so compatible when it comes to creating and working together on crafty projects - whether we are doing our own very different projects or working on similar items together.  This is sometimes difficult to find!  4. She does not mind when the littles are acting like little boys do and creating noise/mess/disturbances in the background (or foreground as is may be) - thank you my dear {I could likely list several more if I took longer to think harder, but for now this list sums it up}!

Last week I needed to make a wallet for our oldest as we are have a 'Money Management Contract' in place to begin teaching basic budgeting skills.  We decided that he would need a wallet to keep track of the money he needed to use to fund basic pre-teen expenses.  I found this tutorial at LBG Studio and it seemed like the perfect thing to make for him.  It was a very easy to follow pattern - great photos and wording for simple to understand instructions.  The longest step in this wallet was the piece cutting.  I had several interruptions and had to keep reminding myself where I was in the process, but from start to finish, actual crafting was approximately 1 hour.
The fabric matches well the iPod case - he is one of our baseball players.  The pocket on the right was intended to be the memo pad, but he has informed me that he has slide his iPod in that pocket and uses the curved one for his money.  Currently, the only card he has is his library card, but that little slot keeps it from getting lost in the clutter on my counters (what clutter - well I am not always hyper organized).  He did mention that it was a bit large, but figured it would serve the purpose.

After making that one I analyzed how I would personally use a similar sized wallet.
Because my new phone has several apps dedicated to tracking life's meanderings, I decided that the memo pad was not something I needed to carry with me at all times.  Two slots for cards would not be enough to hold the debit, credit, store, rewards, gift cards that I carry with me on a regular basis, so I made a few modifications to the original design:
I loved the curved shape of the phone pocket, so kept that, but instead of dividing the pocket behind I left it large and able to hold paper money.  The right side was completely revamped as a card holder for most modern adults are carrying more that a couple of cards.  (Photo detail looking from the top of the wallet)
My design had 5 slots for cards and this way each slot potentially holds 2 or 3 cards comfortably.  I did not leave a pocket behind the cards because the floppiness would be a potential for lost cards, plus the purpose of this wallet would be to keep your purse/bag clean and organized not stuffed with junk and things you do not need to carry.
A little ribbon loop allows attachment to a wristlet for quick in-and-out shopping.
As a 'prototype' item there are a few things that I would clean up in future - largely the bias tape along the top edge of the wallet on this right side - I needed it because I cut the fabric a bit too short.  Perhaps adjust the width to make it a bit smaller to fit in a pocket.
As I looked at the first wallet I made there was just something not quite complete, but I could not decided what I needed to do to finish the product.  However, I do love the button I added the to elastic on the second wallet - it just finishes the wallet.
Have an awesome beginning to your week.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dinosaurs = Scary or not: Review

As a child, dinosaurs intrigued me but also terrified me.  Learning about them in school, I did with interest, but like that of someone readying to ride a roller coaster - anticipating the fun but halfway dreading it at the same time!
LeapFrog recently sent me a Tag Reader system with Leap and the Lost Dinosaur.  As usual, I have nothing but positive things to say about their product.
First, although it was not part of my 'assignment,' I have to tell you how great the Tag Reader is - I love it; it could possibly be the greatest item in the LeapFrog repertoire.  We definitely will be stocking our our already overflowing book shelves with more Tag books.  This week I have already heard 'it is time to replace the batteries.'  It has been well used the past 10 days.
I always like to figure out how things actually work - usually as an adult you can determine how elecronic books 'know' where you are in the book because you have to indicate which page you are on before 'playing' on a page.  With the Tag you do not have to do this and the game icons are in. the. same. spot. on every page.  Today I marveled to my dear that there must be some type of bar code reader or something built into the 'pen.'   I was showing him how it works; playing a game on one page, I flipped to a completely different page and taped on a nest of eggs, and Tag knew exactly where I was with no prior indicating maneuver by me - simply amazing!  Lovely things for this brain of mine to ponder and think about.

On to my task - a review of the book Leap and the Lost Dinosaur:
So as I said earlier, my relationship with dinosaurs is a bit of love/hate - bottom line they scare me.  My kids have never shown a huge interest in dinosaurs - sure we have books around the house about them going to school, waking up in the museum, and cleaning their room.  I am not even sure how much they learn about them in school, and whatever I thought I knew is a bit out of date (I found out).  Leap takes them on an exciting journey with Dr. Quigley back in time - through the 3 (yes THREE) periods of dinosaurs.  I am not sure if I just do not recall, but I never knew that there were 3 periods of dinosaurs.  Kids learn about several different types of dinosaurs - where they lived, what they eat, size of the animal.  It has been about 20 years since my introduction to dinosaurs, and many of the names of dinosaurs are different - likely due to new paleontologists findings.
The book also contains dinosaur fact cards that are full of information for kids to absorb individually or as they play the game at the end of the book.  Finding similar and different characteristics kids have to navigate through Dinosaur Jungle Survivor Game.  Completing the book has piqued my kids interest in the world of dinosaurs with out making them nervous or frightened - thank you LeapFrog!

Disclosure:  In exchange for this review, I have received a Tag Reader system and the Leap and the Lost Dinosaur book.  All opinions contained here are completely my own and I have not been coerced by Leapster or any of their affiliates while writing my review.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013: A Year of Organizing

Well 2013 came flying into my life with a bang - sick kids then a sick mom.  I have not had sick puking babies in so long that I cannot even recall who was the last one to be that ill.  My sympathy lasted a couple of days and then it is just so. exhausting. dealing with cranky whiney babies, but then it hit me.  And I ached. felt like crying. ached. tried to nap. felt restless. BLAH.  Sometimes when I am in the middle of it all I wonder if I will ever feel well again, then it lifts and I do!

This year I am tackling in earnest the chore of organizing my life - I am 4 weeks into a program and so far you would never know it by looking at this house that I am in any type of effort to improve the situation.  But week 1 was all about clearing clutter in my head, with the suggestion of the book I am following I started a journal.  Having never kept any type of written document, I wondered if it would be helpful...  there were a few personal things that it felt good to write about, and I should know that I would benefit from something like that because I always have an easier time writing what I feel than actually talking about how I feel.  Now I am not an everyday type of journal keeper, at least not yet, but every once in a while a personal brain purge is a good thing!
Week 2 and 3 were about schedules - general household and then a cleaning schedule.  I feel like I actually have a decent handle on the general household schedule.  I have the white board calendars to write out appointments - I am trying to integrate my phone calendar into usage as well since it is always with me and can send out reminders as needed.  But the cleaning schedule is something I struggle with - my enginerd side of my brain likes things to be in order or at least the concept of living with order, but the creative flakey side often finds a reason to NOT maintain order like crafting, sewing, reading, dreaming...  And really it always waits.  The problem I find is that I get into a major creative funk when this house starts spiraling out of control, and I need to reign in the mess before I am able to accomplish anything creative.  Instead of trying to accomplish little chores each day and spreading the cleaning out over several days I decided to try one full day of cleaning each week, 2 laundry days, and creative outlets or time with friends on the other 2 days.  Of course there needs to be general maintenance on the non-cleaning days, but the deeper cleaning/scrubbing/vacuuming by mom will all be done on 1 day.  Although I see the wisdom in keeping the day the same each week, I need to be flexible, so for now it will rotate, but be pre-planned each week.  The kids will have to pick up the slack on the other days and help with the maintenance.
This week is about priorities - things I want accomplish and things I care about.  I did a little brainstorming today and collected a list of things that are important in my life.  It was interesting to see if written on a piece of paper.  As the list actually solidifies, I hope to share it in some form by the end of the week.  Also encouraged to find personal motivators, I am trying hard at a bit of self-discovery/reflection.  Usually I am a face-value type of person, not ready too deeply beyond the obvious  and it is interesting to analyze myself and my actions/thoughts.  Not to pick them apart and be overly critical, but to help understand me!
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