Speaking of traditions, this one is another one of my all time favorite traditions... HOMEMADE GIFTS! Every year My siblings and I homemake our gifts to eachother. Every year it's different and fun and always heartfelt. It just brings such a personal touch to the gifts and puts their personalities in our lives and in our homes. We went to Florida a few weeks ago for my nieces baptism and it was so fun to see the same decorations and family themes decorating their house too. As I was getting ready for this post I realized that in EVERY room in my house you can see evidence of homemade gifts over the years....
A tableloth pieced by Teri in Owen's room.
In our living room, Sean's Photography... (I wish I had more!)
In my kitchen, Emily's recipe boxes (she took all my Grandmother's and Mother's recipes, typed them up, printed them and laminated them for us one year... This is probably the MOST USED GIFT EVER!!)
In our entryway, from April and Gentry the ledges (he made those!) and from Spring and Sean the Santa cross-stitch (yeah, crazy, I know but, I love it!) and that picture of Christ? It's cross-stitched as well, My Mom made it for me 15+ years ago. (now are your starting to see where we get the craziness from?)
and in every bedroom, This year Teri and Chad gave us Christmas Pillowcases... (the kids are so mad at me because I took them off today to wash them.)
This year my Mom also made me a Santa Quilt, it's in Lorali's room and it's so beautiful. Santa's from around the world, all appliqued on, I LOVE IT! ...
This year Sean and Spring gave us a super thoughtful gift, it's a little candy cane countdown to Christmas, exactly like the one I grew up with (makes me smile every time I see it.)...
Then Emily really out-did herself this year, I have no idea how the heck she found the time to make this with her busy schedule but, I'm not complaining it's perfect and I have the perfect spot for it this fall in my entryway...
and what did I make this year? All November my dining room was turned into a leather workshop, Yep, more leather projects just like last year. I now realize how my Grandpa had it as his lifelong hobby. It's addictive! I already have ideas for projects to keep me busy all year. This time it was just for adults... Blank Leather Books. Fishing Logs, Hiking Logs or Journals, whatever they're used for they're all personalized.
I've already made some for most of the grandkids but decided not to give them at Christmas but to give them to the kids one at a time for thier birthday's this year...
and for Dad's birthday I made him a few more Fly Fishing Reel Pouches...
This year's party was the least stressful one I've ever hosted. It was a blast and I honestly wouldn't change a thing! It was unscripted but because the company had other 'goals' to the game it made the flow so much easier then other unscripted Murder Mystery Parties we've had in the past.
You can see/download more pictures of this years party HERE.
We were SNOWED IN all last week.... in 5 inches of snow. Seriously this girl was going a little crazy with cabin fever BUT we did keep busy with this....
I am pretty confident in saying that HE LOVED EVERY PART OF IT!
*Just in case you are ever interested in throwing a Lego party of your own...
1- As the boys were arriving we played Lego I Spy by putting up a lot of our sets the boys have gotten over the years and having the boys look for unique items (like a pig, a shower, etc.) This totally worked because Doug has SO FREAKING MANY LEGOS and the boys loved looking at all of it! You can download and adjust it to you with my template, available for instant download by clicking HERE.
2- Complete instructions for the Lego Head Cake Pops can be found HERE (Lorali likes the Marshmallow Ones the best.) Ethan wanted mini Legos for his cake so I bought a bar pan and put in marshmallows to create the lego effect then I iced them with bright colored liquid icing to get the smooth/shiny plastic looking effect.
3- I posted instructions for the Gum Blocks in the goodie bags HERE and for the Juice Blocks HERE. What else was in the goodie bags? their minifigures from their nameplates in there, their Lego badges, Some Lego Candy available HERE, a Lego wrist band found HERE and little Lego coloring books by downloading a bunch of images and printing them out to fit.
4- The decorations for the bags and cups were stickers from THIS BOOK. I had lots left over that we put them in the goodie bags too. Ethan loved it so much while we were preparing that I had to buy a second one for him at home!
5- We gave each of the boys their own Official Lego Builder's Pass on a lanyard when they came in and during each event they had a chance to earn star stickers to put on the back. You can download my free template by clicking below. (They fit in 3x4 vertical lanyard holders that you can find at any office supply store.)
8- For activities we built and raced Lego cars (& the boys got to take home afterward) and we played Creationary. It was a blast and the boys all wish it would have lasted longer.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ETHAN!! (and thanks Sarah for being my photographer!)
Ever since 2007 when I made everyone red-work throw quilts I had wanted one of my own. I never got around to it simply because I had made 5 of the same pattern already... I was sick of it. In March of 2009 my sister in law, Spring and I went to a regional sewing expo here in Atlanta. We had a blast and while we were there I saw this Walking in a Winter Wonderland quilt (from Crab Apple Hill) that I absolutely fell in love with. It was a red-work Snowman quilt. Spring and I made a deal, I would do all the embroidery work on two quilts because she doesn't enjoy handwork and she would do all the quilting because well... I barely know how to turn on my sewing machine let alone actually sewing two pieces of fabric together. At the same time Mom actually got the same pattern and was working on the same project in Utah as we were in Georgia and Florida. It was so fun to work on it at the same time. After hours and hours and hours of work from Spring, Mom, Me and even Doug, they're all done and can I just say? LOVE! The original pattern is only a throw quilt size and because I wanted it for my specific red bed frame I needed it to be full size. After a few calculations from the quilt queen (aka Mom) and a little inspiration from Snowmen at Night, (one of our favorite Children's books) Doug sketched out four personalized snowmen corners to match the rest of the quilt. A little Cowboy flair for Grandpa, a viking hat for the Grandkids (Mom has one in her dress up toys and it's always been the favorite) and a little Snow-dolly for Lorali. I love, Love, LOVE the end result. Thank you Spring, Doug and esp. Mom for pushing me to actually get it done in time for the holidays this year! I have loved this project so much I think it's been the one to push me over the edge... I have to learn how to quilt. I have too many ideas that I doubt I could bribe my relatives into finishing for me. :)
I've written about our Christmas tradition of getting a new book every year... this Halloween tradition kinds stems from that, it just overflowed a bit. Seasonal books are so fun and it's a special treat to pull out books that have been put away in the decoration box all year long. It renews a love for reading every season and as long as the books are good, I see no harm in it! This year, they're all on display on the piano for the kids to grab anytime they want... and they do!
Witch, Witch come to my Party... we got this one a few years ago because my big sister had it and I loved hearing her son read it when he was four... (Man, I miss that Rhode Island days.) The pictures are beautiful and the story is adorable but, I'm warning you.... you have to read it with different voices for each character. Trust me, it makes it way better!
Every year we have the kids got trick or treating at our house and put in a present in their bags instead of a treat (they already get too many candy as it is!) Sometimes it's a new DVD, or a new shirt, just something little but something just for them, Last year we added Pumpkin Hill and Go Away, Big Green Monster to Lorali's and Owen's bags. Pumpkin Hill is a cute silly fall story, great for reading at story time to the Kindergartners. Go Away Big Green Monster is Owen's favorite book right now. He loves reading it to himself and I love that Ethan can sit down and actually read it to him and not even realize he's just read an entire book!
Goodnight Goon is new this year and my favorite, I couldn't wait until Halloween to give it because it was just too fun to save. It's a Halloween Parody on the classic Goodnight Moon book, it's witty and the illustrations are so cute.
You Read to Me, I'll Read to You - Scary Stories is part of a series we're slowly buying for Ethan to help his reading and is confidence, I read one line in Blue, He reads the next line in Red, the correlate and rhyme and match up telling little stories that are silly and fun. The Illustrations are perfect. They show just enough to keep kids interested but not enough to give away the entire story. (which really encourages Ethan's reading)
I have a few picked out for this years treat bags... but I'm open for suggestions before I finish off my amazon order so speak up! What are your favorite Halloween books?
Halloween is coming which means I have less than 2 weeks to get everything ready for my yearly Murder Mystery Party. Trust me when I say, I am feeling the stress! Lucky for me the stress always pushes me and I tend to come up with my best work under pressure, this year is no exception. These gravestones were given out to our guests after the invite/save the date to assign them their characters for the party. A symbolism of sorts, your identity is dead and your character arises in your place. It's perfect for this years theme.
For my free downloadable step-by-step tutorial on this great Halloween project click on the link HERE.
I'm also entering this project into Crafting with the Stars so be sure to check it out. Who knows, the more times it's viewed the better chance I might have!! :)
Remember last week when I said I wanted to put up my Halloween decorations but didn't get a chance to yet? I finally checked that off my to-do list! It's fun and festive and not over the top. I think after living in my house for 6 years I've finally figured out the balance between decorations and decor.... I don't like things super theme-y and I don't like things to look generic and impersonal so this year it's all about us. The decorations that are up are things that we love and things that represent our family, which makes it perfect.. but only for us! The Trick-orTreat bags above are all handmade by Grandma... that woman is kinda amazing. She makes custom bags for each of her Kids and Grandkids. Speaking of which, I should get mine from when I was little from her to add to our little wall.... This fun table runner was bought at Target years ago and it's still my favorite, simple yet kinda silly. The silver pedestal was another one of my Fantastic Finds from last week. Husbandface thinks I have a problem with pedestals... I *heart* them. I have too many and no where to put them. When I bought this I was worried he might start to get mad that I was adding to it so I immediately put it to use ... I love it. I actually got another pedestal/candy dish in my treasure hunt last week that reminds me a lot of one my Grandmother had, I couldn't pass it up either... and I also put it to use HERE. It's amazing to me what you can put a pumpkin on! :) See Doug? We're using them! When Husbandface gave me my piano one of the first things he said was "please don't be one of those people that fill it with a hundred picture frames." I have listened to him for almost two years. My BFF has tons of amazing frames she has collected over the years all over her house. She paints them the same color to make them match and they're filled with her families memories, It's beautiful and so cute, I loooved the look. Thankfully Doug does too... We decided to copy it and start the tradition of taking pictures of the kids every year on Halloween to frame and add to the fall decor. Pictures of us through the years, a place to see how fast our kids grow up and how much fun we've had. I still haven't printed off all our favorites but I can't wait to see this little collection grow over time. Oh and did you notice another stand with pumpkins on it? Me too! I'm soooo glad there's a uniform look going on here... good thing I have so many to be able to put to use! This one is another steal from My BFF, she's full of amazing ideas.... (although forget about the giant dice in the picture, apparently a game got out of hand... DOUG!) Anyways.... The basket of albums-Every year as soon as my big Halloween party is over I make up a mini album and now they all have a home!! I love have them easily accessible for guests and the kids and it's the perfect time of year to pull them out. I also have all of our kids Halloween books on display but didn't get a picture of that yet. This is our front door. The kids made the sparkle bats are going crazy over it! They want sparkly creepy crawlies on everything now! I love how it turned out though and actually wish I had more little bats to continue their journey onto the rest of the house. I'll be putting up a tutorial of this one up on the Tombow Blog next week. More to come!
The kids are out of school today so I'm off to teach them how to make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins and then work on a few crafts. Happy Tuesday!!
This week I've been a little off. Everything has been different with Husbandface out of town for the last 5 days and I was in a little bit of a funk missing my man. So Wednesday morning I went out to run a few errands and decided that I needed to cheer up both me and my house for the season by going shopping. October 1st was fast approaching and I wanted everything decked out this year for the season. I stopped in at my favorite decorating store, which happens to be in our little town and was sooo sad to find out that they were going out of business. I have loved that place over the last year. I've bought so many unique gifts and decorations from them over the last year that it was really heart breaking to see everything moved out. But, 5 minutes into my mourning I was okay. Because the prices were unreal and I kinda went crazy!! I bought this awesome bracelet for 2 bucks! and the HUGE basket in the back was another 2. Oh and the silver platter under it was a splurge at $4. This gem is going to be a teachers gift. It's a HUGE canvas bag that I'm dying to embroider and fill with school goodies. I think after the 75% off on top of the original markdowns I walked away paying $4. I also bought a couple sterling silver cake stands, a few fun Christmas stars, a wrought iron coat rack and a few other jewelry pieces for gifts. I had been eyeing both this vase and another like it for months at that store but couldn't justify spending the $45 on it. They are my new favorites!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them. I brought them both home this week for $3 each. ... did I mention how much I really do love these? Oh yeah and the best deal of the day? My new China Cabinet. It's huge and I love it. I love the curved glass and silhouette of it, I love the stain finish, I love the vintage drawer liners still in it, I love everything about it. But the best part? I bought this baby for $106. Yeah... it sure made my day!! (and don't my driftwood vases look awesome in it?!) Seriously, I LOVE IT! I can't fit my entire collection in it but, I did at least de-clutter my other curio cabinet. My Brother In Law and Niece picked it up for me Wednesday afternoon and I swear it felt like Christmas had come early! I can't wait for Doug to see it. So while I didn't get the house decorated for halloween... yet I still was able to cheer myself up and change up the decor a bit.