Friday, July 31, 2009

Quiet Time first finished quilting project

My moms group is doing a bible study this summer called "Six Secrets to a Powerful Quiet Time," by Catherine Martin. I will admit that, though I've been a Christian since the age of 19, I have never been successful at having a regular, consistent quiet time - a time of bible study, prayer, resting with our Lord. I do spend a LOT of time in prayer, and I almost always have a worship song on my tongue...but I just never could get in the habit of having that regular time with God. I've participated in group bible studies here and there, but I always found myself waiting until the last minute to get my lessons completed, and once the study was over, my bible mostly sat alone aside from church services or the occasions when I needed to look up specific verses for something.

Anyway, this book and study has been really powerful and convicting for me, and has helped me realize the importance of having a regular quiet time - and that spending quality time in the Word has really been the missing link in my relationship with the Lord over the past few years. Catherine Martin developed the Quiet Time Notebook to help herself (and then others) organize their quiet time, and while I did not feel the need to purchase the entire notebook, I did purchase a few of the refill packs of pages and put them in a binder notebook I already owned.

But it was a plain, ugly notebook...and well, that just wouldn't do. So...I was inspired. I haven't had time to work on any more scrappy quilt squares, but am still determined to learn to quilt. I love love love this talented mom's blog, so I took some inspiration from her, and modified a tutorial I found in quilting magazine I had picked up last year for creating a cover for a composition notebook (that just happens to be up on their website right now!). I said in the title...this is my very first quilting project ever, so I'm sure there are lots of mistakes, but I'm very happy with how it turned out. I LOVE these colors together...they are so bright and happy. I will also say that piecing the blocks took me FOREVER and I would never have the patience to do a large quilt with small blocks like this! After I got the top all sewn together, I was kind of like, "Um, okay, now what?" I wasn't quite sure HOW to quilt it, so I just started quilting in sort of a boxy pattern (well, not really a pattern!). Anyway, I think it looks alright. I decided not to quilt it all as a whole - I quilted the front separately from the spine and the back.

These are close-ups of the outside of the cover before I finished the project.

And then below, here is the front of it, finished.

Here it is, open - the orange flaps are what holds it onto the binder.

This is the back of it.

This is the inside lining, which you never really see, and I didn't really think about that when I was making it, or I would have just used white fabric rather than wasting my pretty Sugar Snap fabric...oh well...

So there you have gorgeous new quiet time notebook. And you may ask - have I been using my notebook? YES! I have actually been setting my alarm and getting up before the kids (or at least attempting to - some days they get up early and it doesn't work out, and then I have to wait for their nap time), and I have really been enjoying my time with God first thing in the morning. I actually look forward to it! Even when I'm tired, I always come away feeling refreshed and ready to face my day with renewed strength and purpose. He is so faithful!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fabric-covered balls

On Friday night, I participated in a multi-vendor home boutique sale...I was selling Barefoot Books and my handmade items, and there were representatives there from PartyLite, Pampered Chef, Close to my Heart, a wall words company, a health drink company, and a purse company. friend who sells PartyLite was trying to clear out some inventory, as she's taking a break for a while, and she gave me this gorgeous candle holder. I had seen it at a previous show and loved it, because you can fill the bottom with whatever you like.

So I brought it home and started thinking about what I wanted to put in it, but didn't really find anything in the house that called out to me. An idea started forming in my head, though...what about fabric?? What if I could turn it into a sort of "quilt in a vase?" I thought fabric balls would be good, but didn't really want to waste enough fabric by winding up all fabric to make the balls. I didn't have any wooden balls in the house, and I didn't want to spend any money to buy any.

I went scavenging through my craft drawers and came up with 2 unopened packages of white impression material - you know, that marshmallow-looking modeling stuff that's used to make hand and feet impressions? So Saturday night, Anthony and I worked it and kneaded it until it was soft and pliable, and then we rolled it into balls, about 1-inch diameter...his were sometimes a bit smaller and bumpier than mine. :) Then I let them dry for 24 hours.

Next, I made fabric spaghetti!! I cut lots of fabric strips, about 1/4 inch wide and around 36 inches long...they varied, as some were from scraps. If they were too short, I just ended up using two strips of fabric to cover a ball instead of one.

To start covering the ball, I wrapped the strip of fabric around the ball one time, overlapped the end, and used a straight pin to hold the fabric in place (this is an advantage of using the modeling material versus a wooden ball - the pins slide right into the modeling material!). Then I just wound the fabric around the ball until all of the ball was covered, and used another pin to hold the end in place.

Pretty soon, I had a lovely assortment of fabric-covered balls. I couldn't stop touching them and looking at them, actually...they were so fun and pretty!

And I was very happy with the end result - they were exactly what I envisioned for the candle holder. They add just the right splash of color and texture.

I do so wish I could leave it on this little table at the end of my couch, because I love it there. Alas, if I did, it would be broken before an hour had passed, so it will have to be content on the end of my kitchen island. But I will still get to gaze at the lovely colors all through the day!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dishtowel Apron and Coasters

While we were on our vacation, my sister Karen and I got a chance to do some shopping for inspiration. I love finding bits and pieces of fabric and repurposing them for things other than what they were intended. As we were wandering through Crate & Barrel - drooling over all the things we had no money for - I came across a set of 2 dishtowels that I immediately fell in love with. How could I not? Tea pots, flowers in vases, lemons and artichokes and apples...and birds!! All in bright colors - they were just calling my name! I immediately envisioned a hostess apron, surrounded by red trim...and amazingly, I made it out of the store with ONLY these dishtowels!!

And then my sister took me to some awesome discount stores...places unlike anything I've seen near where I live...and at Building 19, I found the perfect red trim...several yards for only $.50 - not $.50/yard - but the entire bundle for only $.50. It was a match made in sewing heaven.

I came home and a couple weeks went by, and I was furiously sewing things for a boutique sale, and I finally got a chance to work on my apron. It came together wonderfully...just like I had envisioned in my head. I used a red with white polka dots fabric for the waistband and ties, making the ties extra long so it can be tied in the front.

But what to do with the rest of the towel, I wondered?? It was such gorgeous fabric, I had to do SOMETHING with it. Coasters!!! I wanted them to be wipeable, and I already had iron-on vinyl, so I went online in a search for ideas. I found this tutorial, which cinched it up for me. They were super easy to make, and I love how they turned out. I used a home-dec weight fabric on the back, since the dishtowel was also about that same weight.

So, from one dishtowel (with a little extra trim and fabric added), I got an adorable hostess apron and a set of 6 coasters - not bad!!

And now...a bit of REALLY exciting news...are you ready????

Are you SURE you're ready???

No, I'm NOT pregnant...goodness, no...

My sister Karen and I are going into business together!!! We are building the website now, and have already applied for our L.L.C.. I'm not going to tell you much more...but you will LOVE what we will have to offer! More to come soon...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Twinsome Goodness

The girls' favorite new thing to do - climb. On anything and everything they can find...stools, chairs, couches, stairs, the ottoman, beds, the toy box, Anthony's bed name it, they'll try to climb it! Actually, it's quite amazing to me that we haven't had any major injuries yet; not even a major bruise or goose egg. They bounce pretty well.

They especially like to combine their love of climbing with gazing out the front window. If daddy's outside working on the lawn, it's especially thrilling, but even when he's not, they still sit at the window and watch whatever and whomever is out and about.

Occasionally the stool falls and a girl comes crashing down. But it never stops them from getting back up and climbing again.

They've also been enjoying this little white table from Ikea - you know, one of those $12 ones, one I almost got rid of when we moved, but decided on a whim to keep, not knowing for sure how it would be used? Yeah, that little white table. It's the perfect height for them, and they sit there to eat snacks, like this snake soup Makayla is enjoying.

They are also completely into books these days, though they want to do it themselves - they aren't so much into letting mommy read the books TO them. They just want to take the books from my hands so THEY can turn the pages and look at the pictures.

I can't get over how grown up they look. They aren't babies anymore...they are full on toddlers. Where did my babies go, and who gave them permission to grow up???

Monday, July 13, 2009

Does your cleft baby pocket her food?

From her head... her toes...

...she was covered in blueberries!!!

And mighty proud of it!

Her crib fared no better, as you can see...

This is what I found when I went to pick Mackenzie up from her nap this afternoon. I had laid the girls down for an early nap around 9:45 a.m., since they had both woken up before 6:00 a.m. this morning, and I was hosting a children's bible study here at 10:00. For breakfast, the girls had oatmeal with fresh blueberries in it. Around 12:30-ish, I heard the girls, and went to them...and this is what I discovered.

Now...Mackenzie has been pocketing her food for a while, but until now, it's always been meat or the occasional hard-to-chew vegetable. I don't think I've ever caught her sneaking away with any fruit in her mouth; certainly not any that she actually LIKES!! And anytime she's eaten anything I even suspect she might pocket, I'm pretty good about doing a finger sweep of her cheeks before I get her down from her high chair, because I'm afraid if I let her keep food stuffed away in there, she might eventually choke on it. But I had NO CLUE, obviously, today, that she had blueberries hidden away in those chipmunk cheek of hers!

Oh well...lesson learned! Always, always, check those cheeks! Now to see how well Shout and Oxy-Clean do against blueberry stains in the wash...

Anyone else out there with a cleft baby/child have a problem with pocketing food? Any suggestions and/or funny stories to share??

Friday, July 10, 2009

Books you will LOVE reading to your children!!

A little over a year ago, my sister brought a book to our house on a visit, and ended up leaving it for us, because we all loved it so much. The book was called Animal Boogie. Not only were the illustrations unbelievably colorful and eye-catching, but there was a music-CD that went along with the book, and even the grown-ups couldn't help but get up and dance and boogie along to the catchy tune. The icing on the cake was that the children featured in the illustrations were of all cultures and all abilities - there was even a little girl in a wheelchair. That was my first introduction to Barefoot Books, and since then, I have become an Ambassador for Barefoot Books.

Barefoot Books are like no other collection you will find. They offer something for every age range, they offer culturally educational books, art activity books, puzzles, puppets, baby board books, fairy tales...really, it's amazing how much there is to see, and every single product I have touched and enjoyed is simply beautiful.

They have just rolled out a brand new website and new Ambassador program, and to celebrate, they are offering all customers 20% any purchases made before July 16. Just click the link below, and you will be taken to my marketplace, where you can see the unbelievable selection for yourself. When you have made your selections, just enter the special code HAPPY at checkout, to receive 20% off your entire purchase.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sign language and a new dress

That first photo just cracks me up. I'm not sure what it LOOKS like Makayla's doing - but what she's actually doing is signing "drink," while watching "Baby Signing Time." Hard to tell, I know - it doesn't really resemble the true sign that closely - but it's her own version, and it's pretty darn cute when she does it!

If you've never heard of Signing Time or Baby Signing Time, you really are missing out - these videos are so awesome. Anthony LOVES - LOVES - LOVES them, and was so sad when they stopped showing Signing Time on PBS last year. He was thrilled when I bought some videos for our recent 4-week road trip (more on that in coming posts). I also decided to try a couple of the Baby Signing Time videos, and the twins are totally hooked.

We had already been doing some sign language with the girls...mostly the basics...please, thank you, more, eat, bottle, milk, etc. Mackenzie's Early Intervention teacher does a bit more sign language with her when working on language skills, as well. But we took the Baby Signing Time videos (the first 2 that came out) with us on our trip, and I am amazed at how many signs the girls have picked up. Words they regularly use include: more, milk, eat, drink, please, thank you, all done, sleepy, baby, hat, car, and shoes. When prompted, they can do many more, including strawberry, water, bus, diaper, and bath. Today they were asking me for grapes and crackers using sign language! As an added benefit, the girls love the videos so much that on our trip, when the girls were screaming in the car, the videos were the one thing that would definitely calm them down! Darrell and I got to listen to Baby Signing Time a LOT on our road trip!

Anyway...I'm NOT fluent in sign language, and I'm learning right along with them, but I'm a huge advocate of these videos, because I see what a difference it makes already for my kiddos when they can communicate to me what they want. Rather than screaming and crying and me playing a guessing game to figure out what the problem is, they can tell me exactly what they want/need, and it makes things much more peaceful. Don't get me wrong - we still have our share of chaos - we DO have 18-month old twins, after all! But anything that helps reduce the number of tantrums - I'm all for that!

I stayed up late last night trying out a surprise gift my sweet hubby got me while on our road trip - a new sewing machine! I had recently bought the Pink Fig Sophia Dress and Swing Top pattern and wanted to try it out, so I decided to make a dress for the girls. I simplified it for time's sake and because it's just too hot here in the summer to have two layers of fabric on a long dress like this. I'm still happy with how it turned out, especially considering it was my first time ever doing any shirring OR gathering, both of which I had to do on this dress!! I am in LOVE with Melissa Averinos' Sugar Snap fabrics, which I used for the dress. They are so bold and vibrant and just gorgeous...the pictures can't possibly do them justice.

Makayla was a little unhappy with me taking her photos here because all she really wanted to do was nurse. That's all she really wanted to do ALL DAY LONG today. She's trying to get 2 molars in right now, and I suppose it's soothing to her to nurse. But really? I don't have time to sit around ALL DAY LONG and nurse her. Alas - how could I refuse those big, huge brown eyes filled with giant crocodile tears???


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