Thursday, November 5, 2015

When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf...*

Here we are, we made it through October! Every year that month gets busier, I don't understand how that's even possible. Still, it's my favorite month of the year!

Our son Zach turned 8 years old. He's grown so much this year, gained 10 pounds and 2 inches :) Sometimes it's hard to remember that he's still pretty young, he looks like the older kids (but acts like he's 5 lol) Loves playing with toys, reading joke books, and watching silly videos. He's definitely my reader, he's been tearing through the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Stink, and I Survived series.

I made him Minion cupcakes for his class.

He loved his Halloween costume this year, he and our 5 year old Sawyer made a perfect pair.

Our daughter Emma Jane turned 11. She's also gained almost 10 pounds and 2 inches this year! She finally outgrew some of her clothes! She got glasses this year, began playing the flute and taking piano lessons, and is just all around a sweet girl. Sadly, she has no interest in books. But she's an excellent artist and I think she'll be our band geek :)

I still feel bad because her birthday fell on one of those crazy days where we couldn't really celebrate it. We had the Halloween Carnival at her school that night, and I was busy with that all day. They also had a field trip so she didn't get to do classroom treats either. ( I brought in cupcakes the following Monday)

On the plus side, she did get to dress up in her Halloween costume! (Doing her makeup was fun too) I took her shopping the next morning so we could get in some girl time.

Can't forget AJ - he wanted to be Rambo so we threw together an outfit. We ended cutting more off the wig later but this was a last minute costume, so I was happy people knew who he was supposed to be :)

Troy and I went to his sister's annual costume party - and my annual "making of the costumes the day of the party". Next year, I will be more prepared. (Yeah, right!) I freezer paper stenciled the shirts and made the "masks" out of foam board. Only I forgot to put in eye holes. So we only wore them for pictures. We were Terrance and Philip from South Park.

We had lots of parties this month! My MIL is turning 70 so we threw a surprise party for her. It was a big potluck and perfect weather. She had no idea, which was even better! We are heading to Nashville soon to party for real though. Can't wait! Last year was so much fun!

Our church had their fall Bazaar and I made two pies for it. A pecan and a sour cream apple. They looked so delicious I had to make some for us the next day. Troy worked the bingo table and the eldest two kids scraped plates. Love those church lunches, the food is always so amazing.

I also had a birthday, year 42. Pretty low key, we ate out at our favorite mexican place, my MIL made me a coconut cream pie, and then I spent the next day doing this:

Do I know how to party or what?! Troy and I blew a truck load of insulation into the attic crawl space, and we're really hoping to be a lot warmer this winter. I was in charge of shoving bricks of insulation into the machine, and spent the time in between bricks cleaning out my flower beds. We have been really lucky with the weather this fall - my kids are still going to school in shorts!

So between football, cheerleading, after school choir, the Battle of the Books (I'm volunteering), helping at school with Pumpkin Day and Halloween carnival and classroom festivities, the Royals and the World Series (WAHOO!!), CCD, the church bazaar, music lessons, and the kids' homework (which frankly, I don't understand any of the 5th grade math), there's been little to no free time for this mama. Whew. Like I said, we made it!

* from October - poem by William Cullen Bryant

Sunday, September 27, 2015

hello, fall!

whew. school started. and just like that, every day has been a whirlwind! The kids are keeping me hopping with all of their activities and homework.

There's some of this going on:

That's our #66, playing Quarterback and Safety this year! I love watching him play!

There's also a little of this happening too:

I love that she decided to cheer this year! I don't usually tell people this, but I cheered in high school (and junior college!) so I've been showing her a few things that she just rolls her eyes at. I think she's really just doing it for the pom poms! She looked so cute out there! They are doing some basic stunts and she's a flyer, which she really likes. She has also started playing the flute and the piano, so there's a lot of new sounds happening in the house!

Our littlest one turned 5 the first week of school, and so I made some minion pudding cups for his preschool treat. Super easy, and I had fun drawing on different faces :) You could use lemon pudding for true yellow minions, but out of my 4 kids, only one likes lemon. So I played it safe with vanilla. I heard they were a hit!

The older two also got to go to their first concert last night! Cornstock is an annual event, and last night they had a lawn chair country show with Rodney Atkins, Randy Rogers Band, and Travis Marvin. Troy took them and I stayed home with the younger two, who aren't all that interested in sitting still.

I started a quilt for a shop sample at work last week, just have to finish the sashing. It was so much fun to get to sew - at work - while getting paid to do it! Pinch me! I love my job. Especially because they are a new Brother dealer and I got play with one of the fancy new machines! They are getting a Dream Frame for the shop, and I am so excited to try it out! More on that later.

And I completed another quilt top - but I can't share it yet! I was testing a pattern for a friend, and I can't wait to show it off. But wait I must. The pattern comes out later this year, and of course I'll let you know!

How about you?! What have you been up to? Any big fall plans!? I have to do some baking for the church bazaar next weekend, and I'm thinking pies. mmm, pie....

Monday, August 24, 2015

Modern Maples top

Now that the kids are back in school, I am hoping to knock out a few WIPs in the afternoons.

Today I finished piecing together all the leaf blocks I started back in Nov. 2013. I changed it up from the Modern Maples pattern and added more leaf blocks. Here's the link to the free pattern over at Lark Crafts.

Moda Bella in Porcelain is the background fabric, it's a really pretty white/cream with a hint of yellow. The prints are all ones I found at Country Fabrics - they sell fat quarters for $1.75 so I am always bringing some home with me. I went with oranges and golds and a few purples. Odd mix, especially for me, but I like it. There's some Sweetwater, Kaffe Fassett, Amy Butler - really random stuff! Now it just needs quilted.

My goal for this week is to get some WIP blocks sewn into quilt tops. I have several that just need sewn together, and one a day seems reasonable. Here's tomorrow's project, blocks made in 2013 using the Apple Crate tutorial over at Moda Bake Shop and fabric from the Spring House line for Moda. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

DIY Planked Ceiling

Today I wanted to share a super easy (and pretty cheap!) home improvement project!

Wood planked ceilings are a great look - and for us, an economical solution to broken sheetrock.

the lovely before on the left - in progress on the right! much better, eh?
My husband was working in the attic crawl space above our mudroom when his foot slipped off a beam and onto the sheetrock below, cracking the seam. Thank goodness he didn't come crashing through! But in all honesty, the ceiling didn't look great before that happened. He had tried to finish the ceiling himself when we added the mudroom, and the seams were visible. After browsing lots of pinterest posts and blogs, we decided to try planking it ourselves.

We bought our planks at Menard's, but I found them at Lowe's and Home Depot too. Just be prepared to buy extra packages! Each pack had at least one board that was unusable due to knots or splits in the wood. We tried to sort them out in the store, inspecting the edges of the packs, but since they are bundled together and wrapped in plastic it's kind of a crap shoot. We ended up making a second trip to get a few more packs. I had figured for two extra but we were pretty choosy in which ones made the cut.  If you're planning to paint them, you can fill in some of those imperfections with caulk and I think you'd be fine.

getting started
Troy and I started out one Saturday morning, and we'd hold the board in place, use the nail gun along one side, pass the gun over and finish the other side. We were nailing into support beams, which we marked before we started. Both of us up on ladders meant we made great time. We were able to get a third of it up in an hour or so, which was all the time we had that weekend. The next weekend we tried to work on it, but I was having trouble holding the boards up and nailing them in. So it went a lot slower, as Troy had to nail up one side, then trade me places and finish the other side. It was frustrating and ended with the air hose getting pinched and springing a leak. So we called it quits after another third was up.

Troy was able to finish the last of it with help from our 9 year old, and it looks awesome! And fun that AJ got to be involved. I hadn't considered that the kids were getting old enough to tackle small projects with us - it opens up a whole new world of DIY for me :) can you say child labor?! lol

Next step - cutting in new lights! We decided to use smaller 4 inch recessed LEDs instead of the six inch we had before. Then, white paint. Although several people have told me they would just clear coat it, I think I want it white.

We used some of our leftover boards to plank half the wall behind the wood stove - it takes a beating from firewood stacked there. I'm a little torn about whether to paint it all white, or if I should do a darker color that won't show the soot and dirt so much. That project is on hold until school starts and I have some uninterrupted time to knock it out!

Speaking of - school starts next week! Hooray! My kids and I are all ready for the new school year to begin. Sawyer gets to ride the school bus this year, and the others are excited to see their friends. I am looking forward to some quiet time in the afternoons.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Nina skirt pattern launch!

Check it out! I sewed a skirt!!

A few weeks back, I saw a call for testers for the new girl's Nina skirt/culottes pattern. You'll want to check out everyone's versions over at Compagnie M, so many cute skirts and culottes! This is my first time trying one of her patterns. I love the fact that she offers lots of information and tutorials on her site! Want to learn to do welt pockets on your Nina skirt? Hem without using pins? She's got you covered. I tried the no-pin hem and it worked great! They offer PDF and paper patterns at their site.

I needed something to get me back into my sewing nook, and pattern testing is a great way to motivate me! And since it was a girl's size I figured I had enough fabric on hand to complete it.

I picked a few fabrics out of my stash and then Emma decided which she liked the best. She chose this triangle print (Mojave in Opaque) from Leah Duncan's Tule line for AGF. Art Gallery Fabrics are so soft!

I sewed the A-Line skirt version. I used the size 10 for my 10 1/2 year old daughter. I did add about an inch of length to it, because she's pretty modest. I'm sure I'll appreciate that trait as she enters the teen years!

There are some adorable versions in the pattern tour that use piping as an accent. I wanted to try it and had white cording picked out. But then I found this vintage canary yellow ric-rac in my trims, and the color and shape were too perfect for this skirt!Same concept though - attach the trim before sewing on the waistband. I was so concerned about getting the ric-rac on straight that I spaced off doing the back darts first - oops!

My model was being uncooperative, this is her "but I AM smiling" face. #beroyal

I needed an invisible zipper, and had one on hand. Only it was 22" long. No problem, right? I thought I could shorten a zipper pretty easily. I didn't notice until I started sewing that it was a metal zipper - so I couldn't sew across the teeth like I planned. I had to hand sew a stop at the top, after I almost pulled the zipper pull off - eek!! That was dumb! Definitely my fault and not the pattern's :) Note to self: use the recommended supplies next time!

There are so many ways you could trick this skirt out. It comes with several pocket variations, and the culottes are adorable too! You can do a side zip, or a front fly, or even make one with an elastic waist (you have to cut your fabrics on the bias - more info here on this version!) I chickened out on trying the side pockets. But now that I've made the basic version, I think I'll try the pockets next. You could also use contrasting fabrics for the waistband or pockets, or do some cute reverse applique. It went together really fast. I made it in most of a morning, and I work slowly :) I suggest making a muslin to check fit first, and then you could use it to line the skirt. I didn't do a lining on this one though.

I'm not sure whether it's meant to be worn at the actual waist line, or lower on the hips, which is how Emma's fits. She's pretty skinny though, and I almost made a size down. I've seen some super cute high waist versions on her blog - but I think it would have been too short on Emma if she wore it around her true waist. Easy enough to alter when you're cutting out the pattern though.

I am definitely still a beginner when it comes to garment sewing. I think that it's ok that it's not perfect - because if I hadn't pointed out my mistakes, I doubt you would have noticed them! And we still ended up with a really cute skirt for Emma. I learned some stuff, so the next skirt I make will be a little better.

And the best part is I feel confident that I could make the grown up version for myself! And then, maybe tackle her Mara blouse pattern... wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival

Last weekend, the Overland Park Convention Center was packed with quilters for the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival. The parking lot was overflowing and it was wall to wall people inside. I stopped in for a quick peek at the Festival - and I mean quick, 30 minutes was all I had to spend! I ran into a bunch of guild friends and saw some beautiful quilts. I wish I could have spent some time, shopped some booths, taken a class or two. It looks like it was a huge success!

 I love this tree quilt by Trisch Price. Such a cool design!

She's started a new pattern company with Jenifer Dick! You can check out their new patterns at Everyday Stitches.

Here's one of Jenifer's quilts, it's called Come On Get Happy. And it won 2nd place!

This beauty by Stephanie Dodson of Summerwind Studio is from a bee I belonged to, once upon a time!

I found one of my blocks, in the center with the dots :) The quilting she did is gorgeous too.

I love this churn dash by Carla Timberlake. (I think, I am going from memory here lol)

And another churn dash by my friend Nikki - ahh Hope Valley. Such a pretty line that I wish I would have bought. And I like that she made the setting triangles from another DS plaid. And that she didn't make every block a churn dash. It's a great way to use a layer cake and show off a fabric line, isn't it? I may copy her quilt very soon :)

That's just a quick glimpse into the KCRQF 2015. Glad it was such a good turnout for everyone involved! Hopefully they'll do it again next year.

Monday, May 25, 2015

aww, NUTS!

hard to believe it, but summer has started here! Last week was a whirlwind. All the end of school activities combined with starting a new DIY project - planking the ceiling in the mudroom - well, despite my best intentions, I woke up the last day of school and realized I hadn't done any teacher gifts! I managed to pull it off, but remind me next year not to wait til the last minute ;)

I had planned to make candied nuts anyways, and had all the supplies I needed, so I got busy in the kitchen while the kids got dressed for school. I tried out a crock pot recipe the weekend before, and while they tasted good, they weren't very yummy looking. There are several ways to make sugared nuts. Some involve boiling a sugar syrup, some use egg whites, and the crock pot recipe I tried used butter and powdered sugar.

The recipe I ended up using is very simple, and I made two double batches with great success! Click here for the original recipe. I love! Here's the adjustments I made. I made a double batch, subbing vanilla for the water and using a mixture of pecans, almonds and walnuts. One thing about the recipe - it calls for a pound of nuts (2 if you're doubling). I should have measured that out for you in cups, but like I said - I was in a hurry! I used my scale to weigh it out. I also cut the sugar to 2/3 c. and 1.5 tsp. of salt for my first batch - which meant the nuts were very lightly sweet and salty. My 2nd batch, I used a whole cup of sugar and 1 tsp. of salt, because I wanted them to be less salty and more sweet.

For the teacher gifts, I filled mason jars with nuts and tied a tag to them with baker's twine.

Here's the tag I made - or make your own! We debated some different sayings - how about "from your favorite nuts!" or "hope we didn't drive you nuts this year!" (I was going to do that one for our bus drivers) Oh - when I printed this at home, it came out fuchsia instead of red. Didn't have time to figure that one out :)

So more on that DIY project soon, I promise! We're going to try to finish the planks today and then I need to caulk and paint, hang trim - ugh, it might take us all summer! Why is it that when you start a new project it keeps growing? You think, hmm, I really should put a fresh coat of paint on that, too, and that needs redone and before you know it you've bit off more than you can chew! wish us luck!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

April, in a nutshell

April kind of flew by, didn't it? All four kids were playing rec soccer. I love to watch their games. When they're little, it's just funny. There's always someone doing cartwheels on the field, or kicking the ball the wrong direction. But as they get older, and start actually making plays - so cool!

Zach did a good job of moving the ball this year, and made several goals. But I think he kicked his shoe off every game, lol! He almost scored a goal with his shoe once. :)

Emma and AJ's team hadn't had a win until the last few games of the season, but improved with each game, and ended up taking 1st in the tournament! So much fun to see them grow as a team. Even Troy, who ranks soccer pretty low on the sports totem pole, said it was fun to watch.

oh, side note? I heard recently (don't remember where) that the saying "low on the totem pole" doesn't actually mean what I thought it did, because the most honored carvings were the ones at the bottom. But you know what I mean, right?

Sawyer loved playing soccer, the little cutie had a couple of good kicks in his last game! He's been wearing his medal everywhere to show people. :)

Our son AJ plays on a tournament baseball team called Rage, and practices 2-3 times a week, with tournaments every other weekend or so. They played their first one in KC a couple weeks back and took 2nd place! Pretty exciting for those 10 & under boys! Rain meant we didn't play at all on Saturday and got a late start on Sunday, playing 4 games back to back and finishing up around 10pm. Late night for everyone, especially in the chilly, misty weather.

The kids' school put on the Music man Jr. for their spring concert, and it was really cute. They had fun with their costumes and had a set and everything! Emma has a pretty strong singing voice, and I wish I had a way to get her some voice training. We recently got a piano so the kids can start lessons this summer. And I heard a little something about a choir group, so I need to get some information about that. They are practicing for the talent show tryouts later this week, Emma's going to sing and Zach wants to tell jokes :)

I haven't had much time (or energy) to make anything. I just sit back and watch the little people I made do their cool stuff  :) Summer is almost here, and I can't wait. Ball games and lots of books, sounds great to me!

Monday, May 4, 2015

May is...

May is a lot of things to me. Field trips and school assemblies, baseball practices, planting flowers in my garden. But this year, May is also something new to me.

May is Lupus Awareness month.

I was diagnosed earlier this year with Lupus, as well as Connective Tissue Disease. Strangely, it was a huge relief to have a name to the mysterious aches and pains. That relief lasted for several weeks, while I tried to learn about these diseases. Then a bit of melancholy crept in, because there is no cure, only treatment. And when my daughter asked me one afternoon "Can I catch Lupus?" it about broke my heart.

I consider myself very fortunate. My rheumatologist is optimistic that with medication we can prevent this from affecting my organs. All drugs have side effects, so I hate the thought of swallowing pills for the rest of my life. I'm taking them, though, because I want to be around for the rest of my life. I've also been taking steps to reduce stress, making sure I get enough sleep, eating better -  and that has helped too. I am learning to say No (mostly to myself, lol)

It's estimated that 5 million people world wide have Lupus. But lots of us don't even know what it is. No two people have the same exact symptoms. That makes it very difficult to diagnose. There's no "test" that says yes or no. That being said, it was a simple blood test that showed I had elevated markers for auto immune. My doctor called it an arthritis panel, and I truly believe he didn't expect anything to come from it. I'm pretty sure he believed I was a hypochondriac lol. I know that's what my husband thought. It's been kind of a lonely road, actually.

Lupus is an auto-immune disease that primarily affects women. It has a whole range of symptoms, and there is a checklist of criteria that must be met to be diagnosed. It can range from mild to severe, and I definitely fall on the mild side, for which I'm thankful.

I'm still figuring a lot of things out, and adjusting. I was felling pretty sorry for myself one day, and my husband reminded me that nothing has changed. I'm still the same as I was before I had a diagnosis. And on the plus side, I can take naps and say "doctor's orders!" haha! :)

Well, I hope you've learned a little something about this crazy disease. If you have any questions or advice for me, I'd be happy to chat in an email! craftytammieATyahooDOTcom

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sanibel Blog Hop (and layer cake giveaway!)

Good morning! Today I get to help kick off the Sanibel blog hop. It's going to be a great week! Sanibel is a new collection by Gina Martin for Moda. Packed with luscious color and graphic patterns, it screams summer and makes me want a fruity umbrella drink!

A photo posted by Oda May (@modabakeshop) on

Once again, Gina has included some prints every quilter will want to add to their stash.

The lawn chair basket weave is cool, and these chairs are fab! I chose three of my favorite prints and made a pool bag!

 They are fast and easy to make, and a great way to show off your favorite fabrics!
 Click here to go to the tutorial!

We are giving one lucky reader a Layer Cake of Sanibel! Use the rafflecopter widget below to enter. Winner will be drawn on Sunday April 12th, and contacted via email. Please make sure I have a way to reach you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with this week! Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog hop, there are giveaways going on all week!

Monday - April 6th
Tuesday - April 7th
Wednesday - April 8th
Thursday - April 9th
Friday - April 10th
Gina Martin at Pattern and Hue

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Now go sew something!

Drawstring Backpack Tutorial

Hi all! Today I'm going to show you how to make a super easy and fun drawstring backpack! There are lots of tutorials out there, and I didn't reinvent the wheel or anything ;) but I think my version is the perfect size and weight to handle anything I need to shove in it.

I made mine using Sanibel, a new fabric line by Gina Martin for Moda.

Let's get started! Here are the supplies you will need:

a half yard of outer fabric (more if you want to add a pocket)
a half yard of lining fabric
(2) 1/4" grommets (and installation tools)
4 yards of paracord, cut into 2 equal lengths. (If you've never used paracord, when you cut it, you need to melt the ends with a lighter to stop it from fraying.)

From each of your two fabrics, you will cut (2) 15" x 18" rectangles. (If you are piecing fabric, just make sure you have (2) 15" x 18" rectangles) From your lining fabric, you also need to cut (4) 3" x 14" rectangles. When sewing, all seam allowances are 1/4". If you are adding a divided pocket, you will also need (2) 7" x 15" pieces (you could adjust this to make a deeper pocket. For example, 9" x 15") I used a print and a white. Sew them together along a 15" side. Press. Top stitch the sewn edge.

Pair up two of the 3" x 14" rectangles, right sides together. Sew around three of the sides, starting with a short edge. One of the long edges will be left open. Clip your corners, and turn right side out. I use a chopstick to poke out my corners. Iron flat, and then iron in half, lengthwise. Repeat with the other pair.

Center your folded piece to the short edge of your outer fabric rectangle. The raw edges need to line up with the bag's raw edges.You will have about an inch on each side of the folded piece. This is the top of your bag, and will become the drawstring casing. If your fabric is directional, make sure you have the print running the right direction. Pin and baste in place. Repeat with the other side.

If you're adding a pocket, let's attach it. Center it along the bottom edge of one of your outer pieces, with the stitched edge at the top. Stitch down the center to create the two pockets.

I used the print itself as a stitching guide. This pocket is deep enough for a pair of sunglasses or a small tube of sunscreen :) If you wanted, you could add pockets to both sides, but you would have to increase the size of your grommet to accommodate the extra thickness of fabric.

Place your outer pieces, right sides together, and pin. You will stitch around the two long edges and the bottom edge. Leave the edge with the tabs open. Clip corners and turn right side out. Press. This is the outside of your bag.

Take your lining pieces and place them right sides together. You will sew around the two long sides and across the bottom, BUT you will need to leave a 3 inch opening in the center of the short edge. This is for turning your bag right side out.  Clip corners but do not turn right side out.

Place your outer bag inside of the lining right sides together, and match up side seams. Pin in place, and pin all the way around the top. Stitch together, and then turn right side out through the hole in your lining. Press and sew the turning hole shut. (you can do this by hand or machine)

Now it's time for grommets. Measure in about an inch from the bottom corner. Mark the spot by circling inside one of your grommets with a pen. I use an Exacto knife to cut a small x. Push your grommet through the hole, top it with the other piece, and hammer it on.

Next we do the drawstrings! Use a safety pin and thread through one casing, and back through the opposite casing. Pull both ends through the grommet and tie a knot. Repeat with the second cord, going the opposite direction.

 All finished! Thrown in a beach towel and your favorite magazine and hit the pool!

I've made several of these - we have one in a soccer ball print for all our shin guards and soccer socks. You could coordinate these for all your kiddo's activities! (I'm still looking for a cool wrestling print to make one for the boys' headgear and shoes) Hope you enjoyed it, and if you have any questions just leave me a comment!


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