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A Trip To Paris At Home

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Alright. I’m not gonna lie to you.  When we got the call yesterday morning at 6:30, I groaned. I did.  I’m pretty sure I whined shamelessly.  It went a little something like this: “Seriously?! Again?! AH! That is the fourth time in seven days. You’ve got to be kidding me!’

Yeeeeeeeeep.  Here in the snowman capital of the world we had ANOTHER snow day. Sheesh!  With subzero temperatures verging on fifteen below, I guess I can see why they thought it necessary to cancel again. But, really, could they have asked me first? I have orders I am behind on, not to mention dishes, housework and Downton Abbey!

Alas, though, I gave in and accepted that all of that would have to wait. Again.

A very sweet friend sent me some tea in the mail and I caught a glimpse of it sitting on the side table while aforementioned tantrum was transpiring. It was so charmingly called “Breakfast in Paris” tea. Ah! Breakfast in Paris, I thought to my little ol’ self. If only……

The best part of being a parent, in my opinion, is that I really don’t have to act like an adult all the time and I have a great excuse for it: I’m just being a good mom!! If I want to take the whole day and pretend that I am strolling the streets of Paris, shopping and visiting the Louvre and sitting in cafes admiring the Eiffel Tower, then by golly I will! You know….for the sake of the kids….

Here is the schedule for our day.  We started by listening to the “French Traditional” station on Pandora to set the mood. Then, I taught the girls the three French words I actually know: Bonjour, Au revoir, and Merci. Of course I used a very obnoxious and completely off accent all day and called the girls Mademoiselles.

We put the kettle on and used our finest china, pretending that we were taking our tea and breakfast in a street café.  We imagined it was sunny and warm and there were birds chirping (or at least I did. The girls kept contradicting me saying, “Nu-uh, Mom. There are no birds. It’s cold!”).

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Then we made crepes using this yummy recipe. I did add a little canned pumpkin for nutritional benefit as well. We filled them with jam and fresh fruit. We sipped tea and talked in accents and dreamed of a warm morning in Paris gazing at the Eiffel Tower.

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After breakfast we took a stroll down a street lined with blooming flowers (or really took a walk up to our second story bathroom) to the “salon” where we had French manicures and did our hair in French braids.

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Then, alas, because the house and messy kitchen sadly won’t clean itself we pretended to be French maids. The kids weren’t really buying it, but we had to stay in theme, right? 😉

Then we went “shopping” at the Le Petit Closet (again, insert me in French accent, “Oh yes! Dis is da finest Fraunch boutique in all of Par-ie.” And the girls groaning, “Mooooom. It’s our closet!!”) We put on our finest duds and put on a fashion show.  I draped a tablecloth over the door as a backdrop. Verrry hip this year on the Paris runway. Then we struck some serious and very chic poses. Do you see the pure diva sass I’m dealing with here, people?!

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Before lunch, we took virtual tours of the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. They both have A-M-A-Z-I-N-G sites with 360degree views. On the Louvre’s site you can click on paintings and statues and such and get a larger view of them and information about them. You can see the museum room by room. I was IN LOVE! Je T’aime, Louvre! They also have a whole wing dedicated to Egyptian history which was a great opportunity to tell the girls about the ancient Egyptians and what they believed and how it differs from what we believe as Christians.  It turned into a little theological/Bible lesson. Bonus.

After all of that, we took a tour of local attractions via our very own, personal tour guide, Pinterest. Do you know there is a trampoline bridge over the Seine?!!! WHAT?!! That alone makes me want to visit the city of love for real!!! Did I say yet that I like to act like a kid sometimes?

 Then for lunch we had veeeeeeeeery authentic French cuisine: French (garbage) fries. Hey! I did crepes, alright?

Then we strolled to what I would like to pretend was an outdoor theater in the park and watched the movie “Madeline” (on Netflix).  It’s a story about a little French girl in Paris who is trying to save the girls’ home where she lives. Cute.

After the “theater” we had pumpkin lattes (DECAF!) with chocolate on a veranda overlooking the Seine river.

Then I about collapsed from exhaustion. Who knew touring Paris could be so tiring?

So I made the girls rest for a few minutes while I prepped for our next item on the venture.  I told them we would paint pictures of the Eiffel Tower (because, honestly, you can’t go to Paris and NOT do something artistic, right?). So I googled a silhouette of the Tower and then traced it onto a piece of watercolor paper. Then I used some handy dandy rubber cement and painted over the silhouette.

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You can also use art masking fluid but it is WAAAAAAAAY expensive and a bottle of rubber cement is only a couple of dollars and change and does the job nicely.  I told the girls to paint all over the paper in any colors they so desired.

While they worked I serenaded them because that’s what they would do in France, right? Artists need mood music to get the creative juices flowing. In this case, “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor because that’s pretty much all I know at this point.

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Then when it was done and all dried and the masterpieces were created, I took an artist’s eraser and rubbed off the rubber cement revealing the tower beneath it and voila (as the French would say).

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We ended the day with French onion soup for dinner (which I would not recommend. I don’t believe it’s really French or a favorite with kids). Lesson learned.

All in all, it was a pretty romantic day….for me at least! A couple of times Ev said, “This is the best day EVER!” So I think they enjoyed it as well.

Disclaimer: I do always like to have a reality check though, for those of you who might think this was all kittens and unicorns and kittens riding on unicorns and are tempted to be discouraged. It wasn’t all sunny. I did plenty of scolding in my French accent, the girls didn’t dig all of my ideas, and at one point I just threw my hands up and really scolded…in clear English….and SUPER loudly. It was fun, but not perfect, even in Paris!

Here is a FREE printable in case you feel inspired to do your own stay-cay vacay to Paris!

Revoir, mes amours!

paristicket

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DIY Owl Tote

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Last year, I made this advent calendar counting down until Christmas. Always one to cram extra projects into an already exhaustingly busy month, on day nine I had written, “Make a Christmas present for your teacher.” Blah.

I have a few friends who are teachers and I know they often receive the same gifts. So, I wracked my tired brain for an idea that might be somewhat original, cheap, and also something the girls could make, preferably having to do with owls since their teacher has a fondness for them.

I came up with nothing. HOWEVER, while I was browsing the aisles of Walmart in search of other last minute craft supplies, I stumbled across canvas totes, all under $3. Score. I snatched one up and scurried home, giddy with anticipation and self-congratulations of being so thrifty and clever.

This bag took less than an hour, and if we’re being honest here, it could have taken half that time had I not enlisted the girls to help me out with this. Ah! I love them. They are precious, but heaven help me! Let me get this out of the way because if you read any of my posts you know I like to keep it real, lest you think this was some Hallmark, Kodak moment so when you try this out with your kids you are cursing me and my family for generations to come because I made it seem like this project was sunshine and kittens and lollipops. Sugar and spice and everything nice it was not.

First, I had the girls help me cut out pieces for the wings (I don’t have a pattern, but it was pretty easy to freehand them) and was trying to make sure we all had ten digits on each hand by the time it was all said and done because Ev couldn’t keep her eyes on what she was doing and the dogs were wrestling and bumping into us. I asked Nora to keep an eye on the pieces to give her a “special job” while I was trying to sew pieces on. She lost them. Twice. Poor girl tries so hard, but is slightly absentminded like her Mama. Then I had the girls take turns helping me by pressing down the pedal while I guided the bag through the machine. StrEEEEEEssful!! The dogs kept looping around my legs and under the table, digging in my garbage and stepping on the pedal. Again, fingers were counted after that fiasco. I discovered also, much to my great annoyance, that I had to rip out one side of the bag so I could fit it into my machine, then I stitched it back up when all was said and done.

So, that out of the way, I will tell you how we pulled this together. Let’s start with the supply list, shall we??

-canvas tote

-scrap fabrics for eyes and wings

-large buttons for eyes

-sharpie paint marker

-fabric markers

-glue gun

-sewing machine

We started out by making a wing pattern out of paper and making two, cutting them out along a fold so you have two mirror images. Then I traced something round for the eyes and drew large circles in the middle of large buttons (also found in the craft section at Walmart). I pinned the fabric pieces to the bag (after opening up one side so, as aforementioned it fit better through my machine) and went to work sewing the pieces on. I chose to do a straight stitch because I like the raw edge look, but you might prefer an applique stitch. Once the fabric pieces were on, I stitched the open side back up and hot glued the button eyes on. Once all of that was done, the girls wrote on the back of the tote. Pretty easy peasey, my friends. I think they turned out cute, don’t you? Oh. Yeah. The bag is pretty cute, too. 😉

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Spring Cleaning Tips and Tricks

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It happens every single year.  After the chaos of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years and everything in between, we usually hit a nice little lull in January and February and sometimes, if we’re lucky, the beginning of March. But by St. Patrick’s Day our calender is marked up with appointments, parties, school programs, Doctor’s appointments and the like. Every single year from March until New Year’s it begins.  It always amazes me how the less we are home the greater the mess we seem to create. How is that possible? It is one of the great mysteries of life like the Bermuda triangle and missing socks.

And every day my poor husband gets to hear my redundant lamenting over how messy the house is. I try to keep some kind of order in my house, but let’s be real for a moment, shall we? There are times when three days worth of dishes are piled on the counter, the laundry is so backed up that we are turning our underwear inside out, and the carpets are so piled with pet dander that they look like shag. Who’s with me?

Just sitting here writing about it is exhausting me. Sometimes, especially when we are busy, it feels insurmountable. But I am here my friends to tell you there is hope! As someone who is easily overwhelmed, here are a few tricks I do to try to keep my brain from exploding in attempting to not only get the house clean but to keep it clean (well, or at least in some kind of order).

1. Keep your cleaning clutter to a minimum by using fewer cleaners (and do some good for the environment while you’re at it). I don’t know about you, but under my sinks can collect some serious clutter, too. I have read so many articles about how household cleaners are not only harmful to the environment but harmful more importantly to you and your kids. So, I keep it simple with three basic cleaners that do the job quite well:

*  bleach water. I use this for the really nasty stuff like the bathroom. You can use vinegar water for those jobs as well because it disinfects well, I just prefer the smell of a bleached clean bathroom.

*  white vinegar water: White vinegar is my cleaning BFF. It can clean windows and mirrors, your hardwood floors, and great to clean walls and baseboard and to dust with among other things. I use it to spray mattresses  and furniture to give it a fresh smell and eliminate odor. I even spray it in the air as an air freshner. It is a disinfectant without being harmful to breath in. It does the job without being harmful to you or your stuff. Some people say that they hate the way it smells, but honestly, I feel like the smell doesn’t linger long.

 *  baking soda. I love baking soda. It is a great abrasive for stubborn things stuck on your counter on tub, and it is a great deodorizer. I sprinkle it on carpets before I vacuum and in toilets before I scrub the bowl. When our pup has a little accident on the carpet, the first thing I do is sprinkle the spot with soda and it will absorb it before it can permeate your carpet. It’s great to put in a load of laundry to keep your clothes smelling fresh.

2. Make a (realistic) chart. When I look at my house as a whole and see what every room needs (i.e. my kitchen needs cupboards scrubbed, fridge cleaned off in and out, decluttered, cleaned in general, etc.) it can be a bit overwhelming. Cleaning (especially Spring cleaning) is sort of like going on a diet. If you try to do too much at once, you get overwhelmed and end up giving up altogether. Make a list of what is realistic for your week/day.  For instance, take Monday to tackle the kitchen, but leave the living room till the next day. When it’s broken up, it’s much less intimidating.

3. Make it fun.  I don’t know if anyone is like me, but cleaning is NOT fun to me. My maternal grandmother loves to clean and could make it an Olympic sport. I, sadly, did not inherit those genes. But something that helps me is to give myself little “rewards”. For example, when I need to sort things out like that pile of paperwork that has gathered on the dining room hutch or fold laundry, I take the opportunity to make myself a cup of tea and sit down to watch that new BBC program that just came out on Netflix and do my work then while I watch. In fact, I will look forward to three loads of laundry that need folded just so I have an excuse to get caught up on Downton Abbey. It inspires me to put in those three loads of laundry throughout my morning so that when the girls are down for rest time I can do just that. Also, I have been known to have a chocolate bar on hand and once one thing is checked off my list it is time for me to have a piece of my candy bar. Chocolate is always inspiring!

4.) Set a timer. Okay. Now I know this one sounds cheesey because we aren’t all six. BUT, it really does help me! Just this morning I looked at the kitchen with crumbs everywhere, dishes in the sink, and garbage strewn about from breakfast and wanted to walk away. But, in my head I tried to ask myself how long it would realistically take me if I did everything that needed done. I set a timer for that amount of time (which was only ten minutes, by the way) and it made me work more swiftly because I wanted to be done by the time it went off. In the end, I actually had time to spare.

5). Make lists. Again, with someone who is easily overwhelmed, this helps a ton!! When I look at the house as a whole, I give up before I begin. But, if I sit down and make a list of what needs done in each room it helps me to see what my priorities need to be (the fridge can be cleaned out another day) and I get a huge sense of accomplishment when I can check one off. Am I the only one who likes to put something on the list after I have already accomplished it just so I can check it off?

6). Fill a laundry basket as you go from room to room.  This is another trick that has helped me immensely. We often get clutter at our house because there are things that I have no idea what to do with. So, I have started putting things in a laundry basket and just go from room to room filling it with things that are out of place and when I enter rooms, some things get put in the basket and some things get put back where they belong. If it is my goal to empty the basket, then I find that I really can find a place for everything and sometimes that place is the trash can or box to give away, which brings me to……

7). Keep a giveaway box. Just recently I put a box in the basement for things to give away. We are planning to have a yard sale this summer to raise money to go to our missions trip to Romania. Knowing the box is there and knowing what is going in it is for a good cause helps me to part with things a little easier than I normally would (being the pack rat that I am by nature). Keep a box to donate clothes to your local city mission or items to go to the Salvation Army or outgrown toys to go to needy kids. Having a good cause to donate to is great incentive for decluttering.

8). Involve the kids. Last summer when the kids were home all day, I nearly panicked. I didn’t know what to do with them all day without tearing my hair out! I would plan fun days (girl days or days at the park or days with friends) but I honestly found our very best days were spent…..cleaning!!! I don’t know what it was, but when we started cleaning together it was this bonding time for us. My girls are still young, but I think it was a sense of accomplishment for them. We would make a list, then I would ask who wanted to do what and they have always been eager to volunteer. Then we would put on music while we cleaned and had spontaneous dance parties or make a game of seeing if we could check something simple off our list (like putting away all the books or cleaning off a dresser) by the time a song had ended. It gives them responsibility and if you make it fun and make sure they know how appreciative you are for their efforts, it really is a great time to connect with your kids.

9). Every day, pick up as you go about your day. There is nothing more aggravating than feeling the huge sense of accomplishment of cleaning your house top to bottom only to have it messed up again in a half hour. Again, with busy schedules and little kids, it’s hard to stay on top of things, but I have found it’s easy to do a little every day, even if it’s a crazy day. Some days I find myself taking a potty break and taking 30 seconds to spray and wipe down the sink after I have washed my hands to remove toothpaste and foundation stains and stray hairs. When I am going to fetch my coat from upstairs, I pick things up that need to go upstairs and put them away as I go. I honestly feel like if I didn’t do things like that every day I would end up on one of those shows about people with the disgustingly horrible houses. If I do a little as I am going about my normal routine, it helps to keep the clutter and mess to a minimum.

 

And to help keep things in perspective, I try to remember this

 

thank heaven

 

So, those are some things I do. What tricks do you have for keeping things tidy?

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Making a List of Thankfulness

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If you have followed this blog at all, you know I have been trying desperately to teach my kids an attitude of gratitude in a very entitled world. In the car, I point out all of the beautiful things that God has created. During the day, I try to use the moments when they are complaining to make a list, quick, of at least five things they have to be thankful for.  And, most frequently, I nag them, as all great mothers do, with guilt trips and say things like, “I’m sorry. Did you just say, ‘Wow, Mom! Thank you so much for making this nutritious meal for us because you love us so much,” when they have really said something like, “Ugh. I HATE broccoli.” It feels like an uphill battle most days, but at the end of them, I look back and realize how many times I complained about trivial things that were not going my way.

So I’m always wracking my brain for new ideas of things to do to teach not only my kids, but more importantly myself (because an attitude of gratitude is caught more than taught) how to be thankful for those people and blessings in my life. With Thanksgiving just a week away, I wanted to do a week of thankfulness with my kids, hoping it will become a new tradition in our house.

Now, if your kids are anything like mine, I have found it is much more successful when I “suggest” something, rather than demand it.  So, I was cool. I was sly. I said to the girls, “Hey. Just wanted to let you know about this new thing I was going to try for people I am most thankful for. Do you want to hear about it? You can even do it with me, but, you know…only if you really want to.” I showed them my little jar that I had filled with flutters of paper, all with names of people I am thankful for.  I told them that I was going to pull one out every day between now and Thanksgiving and do something special for that person and include a note that listed the things I loved about them.

Much to my surprise and pleasure, they loved the idea and went about making lists of their own with little prodding from me.  Evie pulled down her class picture off the fridge so she could copy  names of classmates she would like to add to her list, and they sat there for an hour and painstakingly made a list of people they are thankful for. You have to understand, they just started Kindergarten this year, so they can’t spell yet and are just learning their letters. But, they both insisted they write the lists themselves.  PicMonkey Collage

Now, I do need to make a note here, lest you think this was an afternoon of sunshine and roses. I am one of those people who reads other people’s Facebook posts or blogs about the special project they did with their children baking cookies, building snowmen, or crafting turkeys out of Popsicle sticks and picture something akin to a Hallmark commercial and sigh, wondering why my motherly attempts ended in tears rather than hugs.  They did have fun (I….um…it was….hmm…well…). They got distracted by the cat, they fought about who had the class picture, they said things like, “Um..no, Mom. I already wrote Grandma Lynn. I want to write Grandma B,” with as much sass and condescension as any six-year-old can produce. They shoved. They rewrote the letter “G” six times because it looked too much like a “D” and I had to wait “patiently” for ten minutes while they wrote down one name. I just felt the need to clarify that, because I understand that any endeavor like this, especially with children, is never easy and I never want to make something sound easier than it is.

So, having said all of that, we each drew names from our jars. The girls each picked the name of my brother and his wife, which was perfect because we were able to do something for them as a couple. I asked them what they would like to do. Their answers were: “make soup” and “bake cookies”. In the end, we decided on the cookies. So we made them snickerdoodles and a card. In the card the girls listed (with my help this time) all the things they liked about each of them. This was my favorite part of this whole experiment because some of the things they said were too cute such as: you are wild, you run really fast, you are really good at juggling (news to me ;). After the cookies were packaged up, we put them in a box and we are going to send them in the mail today.

I picked my Dad’s name out of the jar, so I am planning to surprise him at work. Despite the frustrations of last night, I am super excited to see whose names we pick today. I will let you know how it goes.

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Princess Cake

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This is Nora. Isn’t she cute? I took this picture when she was five. That was yesterday. Today she is six and my heart is broken!!! How in the world did this happen?! From five to six, just like that. Anyway, thankfully she is not too old yet that she requested a princess cake for her birthday. We scrounged Pinterest together, oohing and aahing over all of the princess cakes. I need to add that last year, my other daughter, Evie, also requested a princess cake for her birthday and I will show you the horrifying pictures of that later (if you are faint of heart, I suggest you turn back now or skip that part).  It was a complete and utter disaster. I naively thought, “Ah, what is there to it but shoving a Barbie in a cake.” As you will see in the pictures, it shows. Anyway, this year I did some massive research to try to redeem myself. First off, I made fondant for the cake using this surprisingly easy method I found on Pinterest.  It really only took me about ten minutes to make. I made it purple and I wish I had taken the time to do more colors, but that is a moot point. Anyway, then I carefully used this method to make the cake (also found on Pinterest) and painstakingly took pictures of each step, until my defective camera card erased them all. I baked the cake first, though, in this large measuring cup because I thought it would be the perfect form for a bell skirt.

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A little disclaimer thought, when using this method, it took (in the words of Squints) FOR-EV-ER, and the outside is dry while the inside was a little doughy. Live and learn, I guess. Still, this is what I had to work with and there was no going back. So, I started trimming off the edges of the cake (as seen in the cornerhouse blog) and used chocolate frosting as my mortar, so to speak, to paste the cake onto the bottom half of the doll’s body. This Tianna doll, FYI, I got at Walmart for only $5. I was pretty proud of that, and thought I would mention it. Anyway, I had pictures of this as well. Just imagine a doll plastered with crumby pieces of cake all of the bottom half of her body.  Then, I rolled out the fondant and went to work adding the bodice and sleeves.

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Be sure that when you roll out your fondant you use powdered sugar to keep it from sticking to the cutting board.  Once I had the bodice and sleeves attached the way I wanted to, I rolled out one long, skinny piece for the skirt. I just wrapped it around and attached it to itself in the back, then cut off any excess from the bottom of it.

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What I love about fondant is that it is like working with edible clay, so it’s easier, IMHO, to work with. After that was done, I used a clean, dry cloth to brush off what excess powder I could and went about embellishing it with edible pearls (only one dollar at Walmart) and some icing with a rosette tip.

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This part was fun and fairly easy. Anyway, here is the finished product.

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Now, I understand when you compare it to the ones in the other blog, she blows me out of the water. But, when you compare it to this catastrophe from last year:

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…..it ain’t too bad.

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Easy Mitten Quilt and Tea Staining Fabric

ImageQuilting as you go is a really popular way to quilt it seems these days, which absolutely thrills my soul! With two businesses to try to keep afloat, two girls to keep after, errands to run, a house to keep in order, murals to finish painting, custom orders to keep up with, youth group activities, church functions, upcoming showers and parties, Christmas presents to be made…..(you get the idea) I am so happy when I see something that helps me to shave off some time on my projects. I have sold my quilts in shops in the past (real storefront stores, not online) so I have to have an inventory of quilts on hand ready to be shipped out. Fall is just around the corner, and Christmas and snow shortly to follow, so lots of stores are already carrying winter items (which is terribly depressing to me, but that is for another day).  Anyway, I came up with this mitten quilt that is an applique quilt-as-you-go quilt that literally took me just a little over three hours to make, start to finish (minus tea staining the fabric). 

Here are the supplies you will need:

* 2 pieces of fabric measuring 48″x36″

*Batting measuring 48″x36″

*Fabric scraps of your choice for the mittens and binding (I found this adorable cotton fabric that looks like it’s knit, but I think using real salvaged sweaters would be cute, too)

*Rickrack

*Fusible webbing

*Thread

*Tea bags (if you intend to tea stain the fabric first)

Pretty simple list, right? 

First, I tea stained the fabric by boiling some water on the stove with a few tea bags, then I turned the stove off and let the fabric soak in it for a good hour, then rinsed and rung it out and hung it out to dry.  Don’t toss the water or bags yet because they will come in handy later.

102_2205After it had dried, I dipped it in the water a few times, then rinsed it out and rung it out really well, the put it in my dryer to really set the stain. DO NOT PUT IT IN WITH OTHER ITEMS!! It will stain other clothes, so I don’t recommend it and you might want to run a rag over the barrel once you are all done with this process. It has never left residue on future cycles for me before, but it probably doesn’t hurt to use this precaution.  You can always hang it up to dry again if you want to.  After it was dry again, I took just the tea bags and would put them in the fabric and squeeze for a very highly concentrated staining.  I have found that it’s always better to make sure the fabric is completely dry when you do this. 

102_2206Then I toss it in the dryer once more for good measure, pull it out and it’s good to go!

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I love anything vintage or antique, so I love this method because it makes your fabrics look “aged” quickly.

Once the fabric was tea-stained, I went to work cutting out mittens. I traced around my own hand for a pattern (very scientific 🙂 ) and then cut out two pairs of mittens out of each of the fabrics and webbing I had, totaling six pairs of mittens. Then, I sandwiched my three layers together (backing, batting and front fabric) and pinned it all together nicely as you would any other quilt.  Then I went about pinning and ironing the mittens in place. This part was fun to me, because I liked putting them around a little haphazardly like mittens strewn about after a morning sled riding and building snowman, discarded in the haste of warming hands on a mug of hot chocolate.  

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After I had the mittens where I wanted them, I pinned on some matching red and green rickrack to connect four out of my six pairs of mittens. I love rickrack! It adds a vintage touch to any project.

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*Note: I know one if dark brown and not red, but I was going to use the brown until I found I had some red after I took this picture. 

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Starting from the middle of the quilt outward, I went about quilting the three layers using a free-motion stitch, and sewing around each of the mittens and across the rickrack. 

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Once it was completely quilted (which took only about an hour total time) I cut out 1/2″ strips for the binding from different fabrics, just to keep things interesting. 

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Last but not least I attached the binding by machine. I know, I know…..that’s the lazy method. But, doing it this way is the difference between 30 minutes and three hours. So, I will take the easy method, please.

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Aaaaaaand (drum roll please) there you have it! A cozy quilt for the upcoming winter chill.

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Now all that is missing is a hot cup of cocoa, a crackling fire, Dean Martin singing “Baby it’s Cold Outside”, and snow sticking to the window outside. 

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Quilted Pet Portraits

henryquilt

I get restless very easily. My creative brain is always working overtime to help keep the rest of me sane during the mundane day-by-day of everyday living.  I specialize in custom party/signature/wedding/shower quilts, and to be honest with you, I get a little bored sometimes and like to try new things. So, hence, here we are. I am a HUGE dog lover. My dog, Henry, is a very big part of our family and well….I am very attached. I have seen some very cute pet portrait quilts, and since I know there are many other dog/pet/animal lovers out there, I thought I would try my hand at it! This is my first attempt and I am sort of learning/teaching myself as I go by trial and error and I thought some of you might enjoy fumbling through this process with me. First of all, I picked out a picture of Henry that I thought might work best for this-one that had a nice frontal view of his darling face. As you can see, I had quite a few to choose from:

ImageIn the end, I chose this one:

Image

To start this project here is what I used:

*Tracing paper

*Image on computer

*Fabric scraps, different colors/patterns for shades/variations

*Interfacing

*Scissors

After choosing my image, I zoomed it in on the computer to make it the size I wanted (I ended up putting “Henry” on a 14″x14″ block, so I made it to fit that well). Then I traced over it with tracing paper, tracing over anything that I felt would be significant in the final product (i.e. shading on the ears/face, the different parts of his eyes) being careful to label what everything was and what color/pattern I wanted to use for each piece so that it would stand out (i.e. for the shading on the ears I chose dark gray fabric, for his eyes light blue, etc.). The pattern looked like this.

100_2146I chose black and white polka dot for the main fabric, so I traced around the pattern and cut it out of the fabric. For the other pieces, I traced them on top of this pattern to make separated pieces, then cut those out of the fabrics I had chosen for them as well. This was very helpful to keep the original pattern intact, because I could then place it on top of the black background I had used and then used it to make sure all of the other pieces were in their proper place.  I will say all of this was exceptionally tedious, but fairly simple.

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100_2139I pinned everything in place and was ready to go!

100_2136Once I had his whole face together, I pinned it to interfacing and cut out around it so the fabric wouldn’t bunch when I appliqued it all together. I then picked out another background-background fabric, this time white with black polka dots and cut it out into a 14″x14″ square and pinned Henry to this. Then I set about appliqueing him on with my trusty machine, being careful to start in the center, just like when you are quilting anything (i.e. the nose on out).

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100_2140I just did raw-edge machine applique because for 1) it’s much quicker and easier and 2) the little fringe makes your portrait look a little “furrier” which I thought was fitting. 🙂 And, here is the finished product:

100_2145 Isn’t he cute? I think I’m going to add a border to this and either do a wall-hanging or a throw quilt. The girls suggested I use it to make Henry (the real Henry) a bed. Hmmm….that would look a little something like this:

100_1588Probably not….but look for it soon on my Etsy shop!

xo