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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Work gifts

Peter came home one evening before Christmas and mentioned that he thought he should give gifts to everyone in his department (13 people!).  Now, if he had come to me a month or even a week before the day that he wanted to distribute the gifts, I might have been able to send him in with some yummy baked goods or some fancy cheese and jams/jellies from our CSA.  However, he told me the night before.  I wanted to do something creative and thoughtful, despite the facebook suggestions that cold, hard cash was the way to go.  Also, we didn't budget for 13 gifts so I was trying to do something substantial on a shoestring budget.  Here's what I came up with:

Emergency Snack Pack

Contents on the lightweight metal trays (purchased from Joann on clearance with a coupon) included the following:

  • Mini water bottles
  • Granola bars
  • Chips
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Gum
  • Hershey's kisses
  • Ghirardelli chocolates
We wrapped each tray with plastic wrap (I love my Costco plastic wrap!) and taped a piece of wired ribbon around each pack.  I tied the cards on with a twist-tie.  
I never heard much feedback on if people liked the packs but I had a good time making them and would have loved seeing Peter carry all 13 of them in to his office!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas program and parties

It's been a busy day in the Hamilton Household and it's only 3pm!  I hope it slows down a little bit this evening!  This morning, we were up and moving fairly early so that we could all get ready before go time.  We took Alexander to the bus stop and I rushed around trying not to look like I needed Xanax.  We made it to Otter Creek with five minutes to spare and I was even able to secure a decent spot to watch the program.  There were so many people there!  I was actually shocked to see so many people there.  Not that it's not cute to see your kids on stage, I just didn't expect it to be standing room only for the 3-year-olds to half sing cute Christmas songs.  Anyway, my seat wasn't good enough to get any great pictures of Charlotte on stage (she looked a bit shell shocked anyway).  I did get some good pictures of her running right up to Santa and jumping in his lap.  Um, HELLO???  When we made a special trip to see Santa you couldn't run AWAY fast enough but today?  She was nearly first in line and asked for a pink train.  Santa's going to have to run back to the North Pole quickly to get that pink train 'made'.

After Charlotte's party, we had a little downtime so we went home and relaxed for a few minutes.  Then, we got back in the car and headed over to Glendale for Alexander's Christmas Holiday Winter party.  I can't take any credit for this great party; the mom in charge decided that the kids should do something for someone else instead of collecting another goody bag for themselves.  So, the kids decorated and filled a bag with goodies like toothbrushes, playing cards, toys, kleenex, stickers, pens/pencils, and more to give to families who are staying at the local Ronald McDonald House.  They each wrote a note to the kids and were able to choose the goodies to put in the bags.  It was a fun way for them to give at this time of the year where there seems to be a lot of 'getting'.  Don't worry, it wasn't all serious; the kids also decorated sugar cookies (and ate them), and listened to a story about a dog named Christmas (a true story told by Zoe's Dad).  

Choosing a toy to add to his Ronald McDonald bag.
Starting to write his letter (we need to work on the handwriting!)

After all of the fun, we let Mrs. Sanabria open her gifts and I think she was overwhelmed!  She kept saying, "Oh my goodness!"  I think that the kids and she will be excited to listen to music without commercials.

Mrs. Sanabria opening the iPod pouch that I made for her

All I want for Christmas...

Is my two front teeth!!!

Yesterday, Alexander came home from school with a tooth necklace around his neck.  In it?  Not just one, but TWO front teeth.  He finally wiggled, twisted, and pulled them out and he's working on all of his 'S' words and even said, "Sister susie sitting on a thistle."  The S-sound is a bit of a challenge but he's already sounding better so I think he'll get used to it quickly!  What a cute tooth-less grin!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Teacher Gifts

I didn't go wild and crazy on teacher gifts this year because my hubby told me to reign in my Christmas budget.  He's the accountant and the one with the level head so I figured that I better behave.  I did want to do something for them, though, so I decided to sew something with some scrap fabric and make some homemade hot chocolate mix using ingredients from the grocery store.
First things first, Alexander's class raised enough money through all of the parents to buy Mrs. Sanabria an Ipod touch, speakers, and an iTunes gift card.  I know that she and the kids will enjoy listening to multi-cultural music in class (and she can enjoy it during her off time, too)!  So, I decided to make a little carry pouch for the Ipod and I used this very well written tutorial.  I did make mine about 3/8" bigger all the way around so that I would be sure that there would be enough room in it.  I tested it out using my iPhone but I'm pretty sure that the shape has completely changed since I got my phone over two years ago (Wow, I think it's time to upgrade).  Crossing my fingers that it fits!  Alexander's teacher is WAY into owls, or at least that's what we've been told, so I used some cute owl fabric from a jumper that I made for Charlotte (Check out the jumper here.) Here are a couple pics of the new pouch!  

Charlotte has a teacher and a teacher assistant so I had to come up with two things to give at her school.  I made some hot chocolate mix with the following recipe:

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
Yield: About 20 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1½ cups cocoa powder (Dutch-processed preferred, but regular okay)
1½ cups white chocolate chips (or chopped white chocolate)
¼ teaspoon salt
1. Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl. Working in two batches, pulse the ingredients in a food processor until the chocolate is finely ground. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
2. To make hot cocoa, put 1/3 cup of the cocoa mix in a mug and stir in 1 cup of hot milk. Top with whipped cream or miniature marshmallows.
(Recipe adapted from Cook’s Country)
I found a little basket, a pretty mug, a homemade (not by me) candycane, and some marshmallows and came up with a sweet little present!
Tomorrow, I hope to share a few pictures from Charlotte's Christmas program and Alexander's party; we'll see how my brain is functioning.  To remember all of the teacher gifts, the secret Santa gift for Charlotte's classroom, and the camera may be a bigger feat than I can accomplish.  Cross your fingers!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!

 Back in September, auditions were held for the play, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, to be performed at Otter Creek in December.  I asked Alexander if he was interested in being a part of the show and he said, "Yes, definitely!"  So, he went to auditions and read the different parts.  He was the youngest kid who was auditioning for a speaking role.  When I got a call from the (fabulous) director, Eve, she asked if I was okay with him getting  a speaking role, knowing that I would have to help him learn it and drive him to and from the many rehearsals.  So, Alexander got the part as Hobie Clark in the show.  He had five separate lines and they were funny!  Alexander really enjoyed being a part of the show; he got to know new kids and was able to make people laugh during the show.

Alexander being being 'sacrificed' as the innkeeper.

Gladys Herdman threatening telling the shepherds that Jesus was born.
A week and a half before showtime, I was asked to make three wise man costumes.  Armed with yards of fabric and a few measurements, I whipped together the costumes.  I used this jedi robe tutorial to get an idea of how to cut the costumes.  I didn't cut it to open, just made the neck holes larger to allow them to pull the costumes over their heads.  I knew that the purple costume was going to have short arms for the wearer so I added the burgundy fabric to the ends.  Each robe is embellished with some sort of gold trim.  These were kings coming to meet Jesus so I wanted them to have a little bling.  Here are a couple pictures of the costumes in action (I totally forgot to take pictures of the costumes before taking them to church).

Goodness lies within all of us and especially during this season of giving and rejoicing, I need to be mindful that even if someone doesn't look like me or act like I think they should, they are still worthy of the miracle of Jesus and all of God's blessings.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Breakfast with Santa

All was going well with Charlotte and her desire to meet Santa.  We tested it out at the mall.  I didn't have a camera and didn't pay the people to take one but she sat in his lap with no problems.  She didn't know what she wanted but had been thinking about it for a couple days by the time we went to the Family Christmas Breakfast at Otter Creek.  I wasn't at all nervous about having a repeat of the screaming fit we had last year.  I should have been prepared.  Here is what happened:

1.  Sweet child sits next to her daddy
2.  Mommy is brought into the picture to deliver not as sweet girl to Santa's lap
3.  Mom tries to convince screaming girl to at least sit in Santa's lap
4.  Screaming girl slips out of mom's grasp and runs to the door, trying to escape
5.  There's no picture of this...but in step 5, mom gave up. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I'm catching up, I'm catching up!  Now I'm on to Thanksgiving.  Not too much crafting going on but we did a little cooking at Dad's house!

Thanks for helping with the turkey, Matt!

My First Quilt

So, I've ventured into the quilting world.  But don't get excited.  I don't think that this is my calling, at least for now.  I took a class at a local sewing machine store and learned some basics about construction, quilting, and binding.  The quilt that I started in the class is still hanging on a chair next to my machine, waiting to be finished.  But, when I received an invitation to my new nephew, Jackson's Sip and See (a shower-type party after the baby has been born), I knew I wanted to make him a quilt.  And, you're wondering why I made a quilt instead of a cute outfit or something like that.  Well, it all comes down to my mom.  My mom was a talented, artistic, fabulous quilter and she made so many quilts for us growing up.  She made quilts for extended family, for friends, and for babies with AIDS.  I miss her like crazy and I wish that she had gotten a chance to know all of her grandchildren.  She has missed Alexander losing teeth, learning to read and growing into a sweet, compassionate little boy.  She has missed Charlotte as a baby with chia pet hair, learning to pee in the potty, and loving to play on her own with polly pockets, babies, and her dollhouse.  She's missed Lily's birth, her blonde hair, her expressions (and agility) that make her just like her Daddy.  She's also missed Jackson's birth, his long fingers and toes, blonde hair, and sweet smiles.  So, for all those reasons (and many more), I wanted to continue Mom's legacy of quilts.  Here is Jackson's quilt:

I had so much fun choosing the fabrics for this quilt!  I didn't use a pattern for the quilt but I did get some ideas from poking around the internet.  I don't have a single site that I used for inspiration, just threw it together one evening.  I hope that Jackson can enjoy it for years to come.

Charlotte is 3!

Because Charlotte's birthday was just a few days after our return from a week at Disney, I didn't go wild and crazy with homemade favors or decorations. In fact, we had our party at Shipwrecked Playhouse, an indoor play-place, and the theme of the party was Pirates and Pixies.  I had my friend, Sarah, make the cake/cupcakes.  She really did a fabulous job, especially because I told her the theme but didn't give much guidance!  She came up with some really cute ideas!

Because we were at Shipwrecked, I didn't have to do much decorating (and wouldn't have time to do so anyway since there are only 15 minutes between parties).  However, I couldn't let the party go by without doing something so I made a little fabric bunting; they're really popular right now and you can find pictures and tutorials all over the internet.  I didn't use a tutorial, I just made a triangle pattern, cut my pieces, and sewed them on the inside fold of a piece of double-fold bias tape.  It went pretty quickly and I think I'd even do it again, if I were asked.  I hope to, one day, have a Christmas tree for Charlotte with pink and green ornaments and we can reuse the bunting as garland.  We gave out (chocolate) gold doubloons, Pirate and pixie coloring books, pirate costumes (from the target dollar bins), and pixie wings and wands to each of the kids.  We also gave each child a cookie made by another of my talented friends, Kristen Brown from As you Wish Cookies.  Check her out, you won't be disappointed.  
And what birthday would be complete without a little bit of spoiling??

As you may have noticed, I have discovered a new feature in Picassa3 that allows me to make a collage of my photos.  So, I threw a couple together instead of putting each photo on a separate line.  Fun!  I'm still getting the hang of it but I like how it lets me put a bunch of pictures all together.  

Happy Birthday, my sweet Charlotte!

Happy Halloween!

I'm a little behind on my blog posts so yes, I'm sure that I mean Happy Halloween and not Merry Christmas.  Just thought I'd slap a few words and photos on here so that those who keep up with the blog can see that I've not been lying around doing nothing for the last few months.
So, just a quick couple pictures of our Halloween costumes.  I did not make Charlotte's costume this year; I had started a Tinkerbell costume but it seemed to run VERY small, each step had more and more details, and my serger is on the fritz.  I did make her a Cinderella tutu-dress using this tutorial from Natasha.  I just made it longer, added a ribbon around the neck and a waist sash.  Charlotte wore this to breakfast with the princesses at Epcot and to our Trunk or Treat event at church.  So, by the time that Halloween night came along and she wanted to wear one of her dress up costumes, I just smiled and nodded.

 I did make our Potato Head costumes.  They were fun and easy and I based them on this tutorial.  We didn't have anyone to take a family photo so here are two, one with each parent in it.

Next up, a few highlights from Charlotte's 3rd birthday party!  She's not a baby anymore!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Disney World

Yes, that's right, folks, we're goin' to Disney World!  (Ok, actually, we have already been and come back; I couldn't tell the entire blog world that we were going to be gone for a whole week!) I did lots of sewing and crafting to get ready for our trip.  I'm so excited to share this idea that I got from Made.  Yes, that's right, I made t-shirts into dresses for my little girl who, all of a sudden, will not wear anything but dresses.  The fun part was finding Disney shirts to turn into the dresses and then finding a contrasting knit for the neckline. I made three different versions, one from an extra small women's tshirt (trick or treat), one from an extra large girl's shirt, and one from a large men's shirt - all this to say that Dana's pattern calls for a man's t-shirt but you can fiddle around and make a smaller shirt work!  Endless possibilities with this idea!
 I found a couple cute Disney appliques at Joann and decided not to leave Alexander out.  He was happy to have a couple shirts to get into the mood.

 I had grandiose plans to have several family looks but ended up with just this one.  We got all sorts of compliments on our Perry the Platypus shirts/dress.  I made Charlotte's headband to match and she loved wearing it.  I highly recommend working with knit fabrics.  So much fun and easy because it doesn't fray at all.  Here we are, looking for Perry with Phineas and Ferb.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sign here!

I knew the kids would be excited to meet all of the characters at Disney and I wanted a good way for them to remember their time with Mickey and pals.  So, I made autograph/photo books.  I made a book for each kid using 8x8 scrapbook paper and Disney stickers.  Then, I took the books to Staples and had them spiral bound.  We tied a Mickey ribbon to our big sharpie pens and were so pleased when the characters noticed their 'pictures' in the books.   The kids showed off their books to everyone and I'll add photos of the kids to the books as soon as I can get the photos printed.  These are great souvenirs for the kids and much more fun to look at than the plain, boring books offered for purchase at Disney World.

Donald noticed that his page was decorated just like his shirt!

Charlotte meets Goofy.  He was VERY tall!
The front of the books, please tilt your head to the right since I can't figure out how to turn this picture.

Inside the front covers  have dates and "If found, please call my cell number" (I covered up my phone number so I wouldn't get calls from random strangers). 

We all love that Eeyore signed his page with a backwards "e."  
I grumbled a little bit when putting these together because it took quite a while and I tried to research which characters we would see so I could include them in the book.  However, I am glad that I took the time to do it because we had fun finding the characters and making new friends.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sewing update

And here I am, again, letting you know that I am busy, busy, busy!  My sister-in-law, Michelle, had a baby a few weeks ago and she wanted a few boyish burp cloths to use since everything that she had for Lily was pink.  I threw these together, along with a matching 'Taggie' blanket for sweet Jackson.  I used the Gerber brand cloth diapers that come in a big pack from Target.  I'm sure there are lots of tutorials out there on how to add the fabric/ribbons to these but I just winged it since it was a fairly easy task.  

Here's Jackson wearing the gown that Amanda and I made for him (it matches Lily and Michelle!).  He has the cutest blonde hair and is a really pretty baby.  Can't wait to watch him grow up!

Also, Michelle started talking about how she was going to try to sew Lily's Halloween costume and I volunteered to help (seeing as how Michelle was going to pop out a baby at any moment).  I was excited to deliver it to Michelle because it turned out really cute.  Yes, I'll toot my own horn because it turned out and I was happy!  I used the Children's corner Louise Pattern (the same one that I used here and on another dress that I don't have a blog post about).  It's amazing how a pattern can use different fabric and a different hem-line and it looks totally different.  For this Minnie dress, I added a collar, sleeves, and shortened the hem.  I also added a ribbon sash.  The pattern comes with a collar but it didn't look like Minnie's so I used the same line of the given collar but changed the shape so it would mimic Minnie's.  The puff sleeves were easy to add and I think the shorter skirt allows the dress to flare out a bit better.  We put a pink tutu under the dress to add more volume and to make it more fun to twirl.  I can't wait to see pictures of Lily in her Minnie dress!

And, I have to say special thanks to my WONDERFUL hubby who got me a children's size 3-4 dress form for my birthday.  It's pictured above with Lily's Minnie dress on it and I think it's just fabulous.  Not only does it make taking pictures of my creations much easier, I've already used it during creation to make sure that a garment would hang correctly and fit Charlotte.  LOVE it!!  Thanks, husband who doesn't like to be named on the internet!
Now, back to my sewing machine and serger.  I still have to finish Alexander's costume (pirate), start Charlotte's costume (Tinkerbell), and make Peter and my costumes (Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head).  No pressure!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First Days of school

Sneak a peek!
Ok, so I lied about not posting for a while.  I wanted to get these snoopy day/first day of school pictures up before it's the summer again. We got to meet Alexander's teacher the afternoon before the first day of school.  He was pleased that he knew some of the kids in his class and I really like his teacher.  She seems to know what she's doing and has kids Alexander's age so she's really tuned in to how kids at this age learn and act.
First day of school (the sun was REALLY bright).

Handsome boy in standard school attire (Uniform)
 Charlotte started a new school this year.  At the last minute, she got into Otter Creek, our church's preschool/kindergarten.  I'm excited for her to make friends that she can keep for years and years.  This year, she got Mrs. Betsy who seems to love the kids and is gung-ho to get in and teach and play with the kids.
Discovering toys on Snoopy Day

First day of school (the sun was too bright to get pictures by the front door)
 You'll have to ignore the gray smudge on the picture below.  At Otter Creek, we drop the kids off and they're taken to their classrooms; I'm lucky if Charlotte turns around to wave.  She was excited about her first day and walked right in with no tears or reservations.  I hope the whole year goes that smoothly!
First drop off on the first day of school

Busy bee

Yes, I've been so busy that I haven't been able to post.  I've been sewing my fingers to the bone and still have quite a few projects to get made before the end of the month.  First, I made the cutest little Jon-Jon for my friend, Kara, who is having a little boy in the next few weeks.  It was the first time that i had made a reversible outfit for a little boy so I'm thankful to my friend, Amanda, for walking me through the construction of the crotch during a frantic phone call.  Sometimes, when I look at a garment for too long, it starts to make me confused.  Here are a couple photos of the finished product:

Also, I found a great tutorial to make a gift for one of Alexander's friends.  He was having a Lego-theme party and I wanted to take something new and original (too bad we didn't know about the party while we were in Legoland in England!).  I made a Lego sack using this tutorial and I'm really pleased with the results!  I pretty much followed to instructions as they're very good.  I'd highly recommend the tutorial (and it's a great way to take a gift without having to use wrapping paper or a bag.  We put a little Lego set inside the pouch.  You could make a sack for a little girl to hold Polly Pockets, Littlest Petshop, Barbies or Legos!  The sack/playmat will go flat so projects can be built on it and then the drawstrings can be pulled and everything in the circle will be contained!  Hooray!
The finished product, neat and tidy
After pulling the drawstrings (tie in a bow to close the gap)

This is the sack lying flat
In addition to making these gifts, I've been working on all sorts of things to welcome the arrival of my nephew, Jackson.  Michelle had done some research and really wanted me to make her a nice looking  hospital gown with coordinating outfits for the kids so that they could take pictures and look cute as can be.  Trust me, she didn't need a cute hospital gown to look cute, the whole family is so attractive as is....but I didn't want to let her down so I found a great pattern online for the hospital gown and I made it WAY smaller since Michelle, even at 8 months pregnant, is tiny.  So, of course, in my haste to get everything done, I didn't get pictures, except on my phone and I didn't get one of Jackson's outfit.  Bummer.  I'll have to wait until Jackson is born and then we'll have lots of pictures of the coordinating outfits!  Here are Michelle and Lily's:

It's probably going to be at least a few weeks before I post again due to more sewing projects and possible travel to see my new nephew.  I'll try to keep you updated!