Monday, December 31, 2007

Final Five Handmade Christmas Gifts

These are the last of the gifts that I made for Chirstmas '07.

I made half aprons for my girlfriends(quicker, had more to make). When those were done, I went a little crazy and decided to make two full aprons, knowing they'd be harder, take longer, and I might not finish them in time! But this pattern was so cute, I couldn't resist trying. It's called Flirty Skirty from the Threaded Pear(but I got mine on ebay). It is supposed to have pockets on the apron skirt, but I couldn't get that to look right, so I put a pocket on the bib instead. The red teapot/cherry print apron was a gift for my grandmother Doris. I left off the ric-rac trim. Mamaw Doris isn't a ric-rac kind of lady.I found this yellow cherry print fabric at our local quilt shop and had to have it. It made a perfect apron for my sister -in-law Robbie. She liked the ric-rac trim, as do I. I am definitely a ric-rac kinda gal and I'm pretty sure I NEED one of these aprons for myself.I also made three lap quilts. Those went to my brother Shea, my sister Jackie, and her husband Scott. I had some full length pics of the quilts I made for Jackie and Scott which I've somehow lost. Maybe they will send me a full shot of them. Hint, Hint. For Jackie's I used some really fun yet girly fabrics I found at JoAnn Fabrics. Her quilt top is strippy pieced and I am pretty proud of it. Much prettier than my first attempt. As with that first quilt, I used the easy lap quilt pattern from Bend the Rules Sewing. Scott's quilt is a funky black & white fabric I bought at Hancock's. It was already laid out in strips so I only needed to find a coordinating backing fabric, machine quilt it together and apply the binding. I really like the way it turned out...and it was quick..which was good('cause Jack's took forever!). Sadly they still didn't make it to Poland in time for our family Christmas Eve Gift Opening Extravagana! But they did arrive shortly thereafter.Aren't they adorable?! I'm talkin' bout the kids, not the quilts.

This next quilt was for my brother Shea. This is in the pre-assembly stage. It's a good idea to take pics of these strippy quilts before putting them together....I'd never have remember the layout if I hadn't.Here's the finished version. These fabrics also came from my local quilt shop and are reproduction fabrics from the Civil War Era. I love the dark fabric and subtle prints. On this one, I tried something new and made the binding myself. It took a little longer and I hit a few snags, but I like it better than the pre-made stuff...MUCH easier to hand stitch and it just looks nicer.

Everyone seemed happy with their handmade gifts and I'm glad I decided to go that route. But next year, I am getting an earlier start. I barely finished them all in time for Christmas!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Things I Did Not Buy at the Antique & Toy Mall

We left home early Saturday morning to head for the Kentucky Flea Market in Louisville. Arrived in Louisville about an hour before the flea mkt. opened, so we(meaning Mark) decided to hit up the Louisville Antique & Toy Mall. Sounds like a big, huge place overflowing with antiques and toys, doesn't it? It's not. It's fairly small and there were lots of glass cases used for displaying items. HEY! I like to touch the things I buy. I don't want to have to go bug someone to open a case for me, only to discover I don't really want to pay 55 bucks for a 30 year old scarf. Anyone else get aggravated at the cases in those shops? Anyhow, glass cases or no, I DID find some things of interest in the shop and I DID manage to keep myself entertained the hour or so we spent in there. Take a look at what I didn't buy!

I didn't buy any of these....but I always want to. I think something about lumping them together and filling them with little white Styrofoam pellets makes them appealing to me. One or two empty old milk bottles wouldn't be nearly as appealing.
I also didn't buy these cute long neck pink cat salt & pepper shakers. But at 3 bucks, someone will! Aren't they darling!?
I saw this lunchbox and thought of Shea. Not 'cause he had one. At least I don't think he did... But I know he's a fan of Robin Hood. How could anyone not be? It's one of my favorite Disney flicks too.
Try as he might, Mark's just not a musician or singer, bless his heart. He doesn't appear to be terribly thrilled to pose for a picture either!
THIS GUY...He was a singer. Aaaah. See him back there, tucked between the tennis balls and the photo of some old cowboy? Andy Gibb! You remember Andy Gibb right? I'm 11 again...hairbrush in hand, sing it loud. "For so long, you and me been finding each other for so long"...SING IT WITH ME...."and the feeling that I feel for you is more than strong girl! Take it from me"... I can see you are not into this. I'll stop singing now.

I got a little goofy after the Andy Gibb spotting.
HOW... can you act like such an idiot? That's what Chief Stuck-in-Glass-Case would say if he could speak.
These army guys looked like fun.
But not as much fun as the Medieval Knights Jousting set! This was truly cool.
AND LOOK. Fred and Dino! I didn't know this toy existed! Of course, the Flinstones were a little before my time...but I've watched a ton of episodes in re-runs! That reminds me of another song...but I'll let Weird Al sing this one.

Another toy I'd never seen. Looks like loads of fun!
This immediately caught my eye. A red pig wearing a jaunty hat. Everyone needs a jaunty hat!
If you get shoplifting in the antique and toy mall tiny policemen drive up and hop out of this car and poke you in the knees.
Like the milk bottles, I am strangely drawn to these chicken bowls.
And just when things were going well and I was having an enjoyable time at the antique mall I turn a corner and inside(thankfully) one of those glass casessits ...Holy Crap!...a creepy cymbal playing chimpanzee freak!
I only stood still long enough to snap a picture and I was outta that aisle! Safe from my run in with the CCPCF but still panting, I paused a moment to catch my breath. I decided to venture into the back room and turned another corner. DANGIT if there wasn't another creepy cymbal playing chimpanzee freak! This one was ten times more scary than the first. It was laying on a table filled with harmless nick-nacks staring up at me all spread eagle with those vacant eyes. I swear it looked like it might attack at any moment. I actually stepped back and actually gasped (a small one, but it was a gasp)when I saw it. Is that blood on it's fingers and toes?? Ugh! Full Body Shivers. I can't get away from these things! Is this a cruel joke? Is this an indication of what awaits me at the flea market?

Friday, December 28, 2007

To the Flea Market!!!

This morning, Mark and I are off to the Louisville flea market bright and early. Sometimes we find lots of goodies, and sometimes everything I want is ridiculously over priced and I end up with nothing to show for the day but some caramel corn! Mark likes to take his sweet time and look at every single item in every single booth(I exaggerate a teeny bit) in the antiques/vintage area while I scan quickly and only stop when I spot something interesting. So I'm normally through the old and the new stuff and ready to go home an hour before he is ever through looking at the antique stuff. This year, I'm taking my ipod and a book. This way, when I'm through looking/shopping I can find a spot to sit and read rather than follow him around and grouch about being slow!

But I'm going in with high hopes, so maybe I'll have some fun finds to fill you in on!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It would appear that I have not fallen off the face of the earth...

Although it seems that way. It's been forever since I've sat down to at the old blog or read any of my usual blogs and I'm ashamed at how behind I am at answering emails. Things have been NUTS between working late, Christmas programs at work, making gifts and having the plague. But things are calming down a bit now, so I hope to jump back into the bloggy swing of things.

I had a great Christmas this year. Spent it, as always, with Mark and my family. Jackie and Scott were there via Skype, so they got to sit on the gift unwrapping circle. It was almost as good as having them there! We laughed, we ate too much, we watched movies and just sat around together. It was good. Very very good. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family. If I never got another gift, but could enjoy their company, that'd be OK. I remember after Bryan passed, I said to Mom and Shea that he had been a gift to us. And he was; in fact, he was a gift to every single person he ever met. But I believe that Mark, my parents, my brother Shea, my sister Jackie & her husband Scott are God's gifts to me as well. And not just at Christmas time. I don't know what I did to deserve such a wonderful family but I am thankful for every minute that I am fortunate enough to spend with them!

Speaking of Christmas, I DO have pictures of the handmade gifts that I made this year. Note to self: DON'T wait until Thanksgiving to start if you plan on making gifts next year! Here's a quick rundown of the half aprons I made for my girlfriends.

This first one was for my assistant and good friend Pam. She's would tell you she's afraid of color in her house and that everything is I went with this cute beige/brown combination of fabrics. She dug it.You've seen this one. It went to my dear friend Sheila. She's given me vintage fabrics and pillowcases to embroider and gave me lots of advice and help when first took up embroidery. Like me, she enjoys vintage things and antiques. I think this fabric, the embroidery and style(it's the only one with a gathered waist) made it just right for her. Trish got this next one. She and I are so much alike, it's scary. We also have very similar taste in home decor, so I thought this would be perfect for her. Of all these aprons, this is the one I'd pick if I could only choose one. But I wouldn't wear it with my snowman pj's, I promise! This one went to my friend Stacey. She has animal prints in her family room and dark red in her kitchen. And if you knew her, you'd know the animal print is "her". Very vivacious! She and Trish can make me laugh till I'm sick. No, I didn't put the initial on's a mirror image(although I was pretty tired by this point so it could have happened!). Here's the pocket detail.Another one you've seen. The Santa apron ended up a gift for my principal, Cristy. When I gave her the gift bag she said, "I hope this is what everyone else is walking around here wearing!" She wore hers all day and managed make a Santa print apron look sophisticated.This apron was a gift for my friend Cara. Cara(originally from Mississippi) is what I imagine a Southern Belle to be. First off, she's gorgeous. I'm not kiddin'...knock-out gorgeous! And smart. And funny. She's another one that makes me laugh till it hurts. She's also very stylish in a classic way...never trendy, but always stylish. I wish I could be like that. I thought of her the minute I spotted this fabric. So there you have it. They loved them! Silly of me to worry that they wouldn't. Several of the gals put them on and wore them all day at work! So cute! I'm glad I did handmade! Here's a quick idea for wrapping ANY gift(not just Christmas). I literally finished the last one the night before I planned to give them. I didn't have enough gift boxes or any gift bags on hand. I'd been too busy being sick, working and making stuff to think about that. I did have some brown paper wrap that I use when I send boxes to Jackie. So I wrapped the un-boxed aprons in that and made bows from leftover fabric scraps from each apron. Turned out really cute and it looked deliberate rather than last-minute!

I also made two full aprons and a quilt as Christmas gifts. I'll show those off later.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Decorations..Finally!

Well it's usually up by the day after Thanksgiving, but here it is ELEVEN days before Christmas and I'm just got the tree up! Here's a picture to prove it! I don't have a lot of other decorations. I know people who decorate the whole house for Christmas. My mother comes to mind :) I'm not one of those people. I wish I were, but I'm just not that organized...or motivated.

I do have a few decorations placed randomly around the kitchen/great room. Mom made the sleigh and reindeer arrangements for me last month and I love 'em! I had big plans to make myself a Christmas tablecloth, apron, and matching napkin set. As it stands, ain't happenin' this year! It's that lack of motivation thing. I suppose my vintage ebay tablecloth and flea market apron will have to work this year!

Tomorrow, I AM going to get the dang scarecrows off the porch...I feel like such a redneck.

Cajun ChickPea-Nuts

I never thought I'd like eating chickpeas, but prepared like this, they're pretty good. Get 'em crunchy enough and they are a little reminiscent of a corn-nut.

Toss 1 can of rinsed & drained(blot w/paper towel) chickpeas with a little olive oil(or spray cookie sheet w/olive oil spray) and 1 1/2 TBS Cajun spice. Spread out on cookie sheet and bake for approximately 40-45 min. or until crunchy in a 350º oven. The trick is to get 'em crunchy enough. Taste test when they come out of the oven, if they aren't crunchy enough for you, put them back in and crank up the heat a little. I would imagine these would also be good with other spices.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Two down and miles to go before I sleep

Was this " I think I'll make my Christmas gifts" a good idea? Although I'm not making gifts for everyone, I'm making enough that it is becoming a bit daunting in the "I don't know if I can get this done in time or not!" way! I'm a bit panicked. Evidently not enough to keep me from sitting down to post about how panicked I am rather than getting my butt busy. sheesh.

I'm currently working on aprons for my friends. The style of apron I chose for them is not that hard. It's basically a rectangle of fabric with a waistband and ties. IF I would just get busy I'm sure it'd be half done instead of one. I find so many other things to occupy my time when I have something that needs to get done. Procrastination Nation...that's where I live.

IF I would stick to that original plan I'd get done faster too. For instance...this apron started out as a plain, no frills rectangle, but it ended up with gathers at the waist. Not a lot mind you, but it was kinda begging..."Kellie, I'm all French country...I need some gathers, here" So I obliged. Then it said "Hey, a little embroidered Eiffel Tower would be darling on my pocket!" so I added a cute little embroidered Eiffel Tower!OK, is anyone else bothered by the fact that fabric is now speaking to me? I have been taking a lot of cold/allergy/sinus medication lately...

Now that this apron is finished, I face a new dilemma. I think the person I intended it for would love the fabric but not sure about the gathers. It actually looks more like one of my other friends(for whom I bought fabu pink and green fabric). SO it's still up in the air who'll end up with it.

This one, however, I have a plan for. Alright, I've procrastinated long enough. Time to get sewing again!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christmas Aprons

Several posts back I mentioned that I was attempting to make a Christmas apron for my sister. At the time, I was fighting with pockets and was tempted to chuck the whole thing and start over on an easier pattern. I couldn't figure out how in the world I was going to put on all the piping and ruffle trim the pattern called for when I couldn't sew a decent pocket! It was a mess. Instead of scrapping the whole project, I scrapped just the pockets, ruffles and piping and persevered. In the end, I had what I thought was a really nice little apron! I made matching coasters and napkins for her and Scott using the leftover fabric. FYI: matching napkins and coaster sets make quick & easy gifts, fellow novice sewers! The goodies made it safely to Poland in plenty of time for the Christmas season! The pattern I used for this apron was Simplicity 3701(somewhat altered). The coasters and napkins instructions can be found in the book Bend the Rules Sewing.

I have yet to make a Christmas apron for myself, but as luck would have it, I have two vintage Christmas aprons just in case I don't get to it(I have plenty of fabric, but little time). This first one I found at a local antique mall. A bargain at 7 bucks. The appliquéd reindeer pocket is so sweet. That someone took the time to design and meticulously hand stitch that little fellow and his holly garland onto this apron makes it so special. I adore it!

Equally adorable is this vintage print apron. I don't think it shows up in the photo but the red stitching is very "fancy". I found this apron when Mark and I went to the 4-H flea market a while back. I bought something like 7 aprons that day! This is among my favorites. It was an even bigger bargain than the reindeer apron at only 3 dollars! Don'tcha love a good bargain?

STILL haven't got all my Christmas gifts made. STILL don't have my decorations up, despite Fiona telling me to get with it! :) But I will get with it this week! I promise! I've NEVER not had my Christmas tree up by this late date!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas Music

Even though I don't have any of my decorations out yet(still have scarecrows on the front porch) I am finding myself in a Christmas mood. I think it must be the music. I love love love Christmas music. Always have. So I wanted to share a little of that joy with you between now and Christmas. We begin with Harry. Who else would I begin with? Here's Harry Connick Jr. singing When my Heart finds Christmas. OK, the video is a just a teeny tiny tad cheesy, but it's Harry ya'll! Did I ever tell ya'll about the time I saw Harry Connick Jr. in concert? FOUR times! Once had front row seats and it was amazing! That voice! Smooth as silk.

After Harry, check out Ralphie's Radio on live365, playing Christmas music from the 40's and 50's. I fell in love with it instantly! Traditional and classic songs and some songs that must have been popular in the day along with some novelty songs. So much fun! However, while I was listening, I must have misheard some lyrics: I heard what I think was a Gene Autry song called Sleigh Bells. I could SWEAR that there was a line that said: "Hear the horsie's poopie drop...plop! plop! plop! plop! plop!." It was late and I was tired but I think those were the lyrics. Does anyone know this song?Someone PLEASE tell me I was delirious! Regardless Ralphie's Radio will put you in the Christmas spirit!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bloggy Mail!

Yesterday I come home from work and find a little package in my mailbox. My new bloggy friend Pinky sent me these fantabulous Taste of Home Cooking magazines. She knows this about me:
1. I can't even cook!
2. I am a magazine JUNKIE. Seriously, I can't leave Walmart or Kroger without a magazine....of course I pay for them. I didn't mean it like it sounded!!! I will definately be pouring over these in the next few weeks!

Along witht he magazines came some gorgeous notecards in my favorite colors! Handmade, of course! They are so lovely it's going to break my heart to actually use them! :) So very sweet of her! Thanks a million, Pinky!

Speaking of have GOT to see Mr. Happy Face Toast Man. She opened up a loaf of Eziekel bread and one of the slices of bread was smiling at her! True Story!! He's currently for sale on ebay! Check it out the ebay auction here, for a good giggle! Oh, but hurry he's only got a day to go! Personally, I think she should contact Leno...she could be just like that old lady with the potato chips that looked like other things...remember her?

I actually recieved this next piece of mail about a week/week and a half ago. It's my wonderful apron from Sommer Designs. I won it on my favorite apron-related blog, The Apronista. I meant to post it sooner, but I kept thinking I'd get a better picture and finally realized if I kept waiting for a picture of myself that I liked, I'd never show it off! :D Feel free to drool and be envious! Of the apron, not the fat rolls.And since I'm on the subject of Apronista giveaways... The Apronista is giving away MORE aprons this week! CHeck out these lovelies from Be-Bops Pary Wear and the to die for styles over at Creative Outlet Designs. Remember, if you aren't into aprons enter anyway and when you win just re-gift it to me at Christmas!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Uncommonly Good Weigh In

Yesterday I finished up cycle 1 of the Extreme Fat Smash Diet. I am absolutely thrilled to report that I lost a total of 6.5 pounds. 6.5!! Crazy, right? Apparently, this diet works! At least cycle one did anyway ;) My brother, who is doing along with me, lost 10 pounds this week! WOO HOO x 2!!

Last week I mentioned how sick I was of rice and beans. Truly though, it hasn't been that bad. Maybe that's the -6 pounds talking! This week I am going to experiment a bit more with the beans and rice. I'm gonna try out my friend Rhonda's Red Beans and Rice recipe. I'll also attempt to add a few different veggies to my list. Ya'll know the only veggies I like are the white ones(except cauliflower) and the yellow ones(except squash and yellow peppers)!

I'm not going to lie, I have been kinda hungry. Four meals a day plus two snacks are recommended, so really, I probably should not be that hungry. I'll continue to work on timing my meals a little better to prevent that hungry feeling this week. It's also been tough getting up at 5a.m. every morning to get in half of that exercise time, but 6.5 pounds gone makes it VERY worthwhile.

My goal for this week is to keep doing what I've been doing and add water to that. I have not been drinking the recommended amount of water. I wonder if I'd have lost more had I been doing that?

For you who are curious, here is a sample of one of the daily menus from Cycle One:
BREAKFAST: 1 cup cooked oatmeal & one c. fruit or veggie juice(fresh) OR 1 piece of fruit
MEAL 2: 1 small fruit smoothie less than 200cal. or protein shake less than 200 c al.
MEAL 3: 1 c. cooked beans, chickpeas or lentils, 1 cup cooked brown rice, 1 serving veggies
MEAL 4: 4 oz. fish, chicken, turkey or lean sirloin, 1/2 large baked sweet potato, 2 servings veggies
OPTIONAL: 2 snacks, 100 calories or less, 1 cup fat free or low fat milk. Plus the free snacks, which are carrots, radishes, dill pickles, hard boiled egg whites, and celery.
EXERCISE: 55 min. cardio

Ooooh! I get to eat bread(wheat/whole grain only) and cereal(unsweetened) during Cycle Two!! I've been looking forward to it, believe you me!

So last week, it was all about the diet and trying to keep it up. I wish I had some fun sewing projects to share. I wish I could have made it around to your blogs. I wish I didn't have TWO weight loss posts in a row. I was at work late every day last week and on this diet I had to come home and cook, eat, exercise, wash dishes and get the kitchen back in order. In what seemed like an hour or two, I had to turn around and cook again and then eat again and then wash dishes again! Had to get to bed no later than 9:30 in order to drag myself up at 5:00a.m.! Crafty time & blog reading time just didn't happen last week. Let's hope I can get back to it this week...I've missed it.