Friday, February 29, 2008

Peek Into My China Cabinet

OK, so I don’t really have a china cabinet but I do have all my pretty teacups and teapots displayed on my living room shelves. Call me obsessed but in my opinion a girl can never have too many teacups and teapots. Most of these were gifts from friends and a few I picked up at the local thrift store.

They are all very special to me and I use each and every one of them frequently. The pale blue teapot came all the way from Canada and I like it because of its large size and decorative ridges. The pretty glass one came from my tea guru and I love using this one because its see-through and shows of the beautiful colors of the tea inside of it. The gold one is also glass and was given to me by my 80 year-old neighbor. Supposedly it can be put on the burner but I’m too chicken to try it. The pretty white one with three-dimensional flowers was a birthday gift and I love it because it’s so feminine and pretty. I found the butterfly teapot, fell in love with it and just had to have it. I have received several matching butterfly pieces as gifts. The Lusterware and the white with blue flower teapots and cups were thrift store finds.

Each one is unique and beautiful. The teapots that I've received from friends are very special to me because they were given with such thoughtfulness, and I will always have them to remind me of how much I cherish each one of those friendships. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love tea and all things that go with it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What do you do with leftover scraps of fabric........ make patchwork hand bags, of course!

I had a lot of bits and pieces of fabric leftover from the patchwork tablecloths that I previously made, and decided to make them into these cute patchwork handbags. I used Simplicity pattern 9963, which includes two different handbag sizes. These are very fun to make and my new favorite party gift. And besides, who wouldn’t want a matching handbag and tablecloth? Very chic!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Little Miss Photogenic

It’s hard to believe that Madelyn is already two-weeks old. Here are some recent pictures of the little sweet pea. If you’d like to read Madelyn’s “baby story,” click here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sugar Cubes

My friend Steph sent me a link to a blog that demonstrated how to make home-made sugar cubes. I decided to give them a try using my teacup and teapot candy molds. They were very easy to make. I followed the recipe of 1 cup sugar, 1 ½ tablespoons of water and a drop of food coloring. Put water and food coloring in a bowl, add sugar and mix with a fork until it looks like wet sand. Leave in mold for about a minute, turn out onto parchment paper and let dry overnight. Very simple and fun to make! Thanks Steph, and also to Angela from “Tea with friends” for this very creative idea!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ice Storm

Today is the first “snow day” of the school year. Ironically, we haven’t had much snow this year, definitely not enough for sledding. But we’ve certainly have had our share of cold weather, sleet, freezing rain and ice. Last night and throughout the day, we have accumulated enough ice to close schools, libraries, and cancel meetings. Even though the ice causes havoc for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and power lines, it sure looks pretty.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine Treats

This year for Valentine's Day I made my usual heart cutout cookies and homemade turtles. I also added these chocolate eclair hearts. They are very time consuming but totally worth it. The hearts are made with a cocoa pate a choux which is a cream puff or eclair dough. I traced a heart-shaped cookie cutter on parchment paper that was placed on a cookie sheet. Then I filled a pastry bag with the pate a choux and piped it onto the parchment paper hearts. After the hearts are baked they are then cut in half and dried further in the hot, but turned off oven. The filling is a bittersweet-chocolate whipped cream, and last but not least they are topped with a chocolate ganache. Yum!

This plate of goodies was shared with a good friend, and accompanied by a China Pai Mu Tan white tea. Chocolate, tea, and good company -- what a delightful combination!

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my Dad's birthday. I won't say his age but he is still a young guy. This year for his birthday he was blessed with grandchild number 5! And what a precious gift she is. This is not his only blessing, however; he has many.

He has been married to my mother for almost 43 years. Together they have raised three lovely daughters, who brought into our family three awesome son-in-laws and five beautiful grandchildren. He has much to be thankful for as do we.

I am especially grateful for his good health. My father is a cancer survivor and is a stronger person than I could ever be. He has always been there for us even when life was difficult for him.

It’s not surprising that my dad survived cancer; I have always known that he can do anything. You name it; my dad can fix it, build it or create it. When I was growing up, living in Wisconsin, my dad had a side job of fixing pinball machines, jukeboxes, and just about any type of equipment that you’d find at your corner bar. He’d take me with him sometimes when he’d go on his repair jobs. I always remember sitting up at the bar having what we called a “kiddy cocktail” which was essentially grenadine, sprite and a cherry. Our basement was filled with pinball machines, bowling machines, and jukeboxes. Even to this day there’s a vintage Seeburg jukebox in my parents home. It’s my kids’ favorite thing play each time we visit. My dad has remodeled homes, tiled floors, fixed major appliances, and hand-crafted many things from wood. He is amazing and I’m so proud of all of his accomplishments!

Dad, thank you for teaching me the value of hard work, good judgment and courage. Thank you for listening and caring, for giving, sharing and for always setting a good example. I hope you know how much you’re loved and appreciated. May the years to come be filled many blessings. I love you!

Pay it Forward

Here's a chance to get a surprise from me, on a surprise date, in the next 365 days. (I'm responding to this prompt from Steph's Cup of Tea)
Here are the rules:

1 - Leave a comment on my blog that says you want to play. First three folks to comment will get a gift! (If I don't know it already, let me know how I can contact you.)
2 - Do the same thing on your blog!
3- If you don't have a blog you can still participate, just leave me a comment saying you want to play.
The first three folks who leave a comment will get a surprise from me at a surprise time in the next 365 days!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Madelyn One-Day Old

Look at this little sweetheart! I can't help myself but to post another adorable picture. I think she looks a little more like her mommy in this one.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Introducing....Madelyn Claire!

I'm a very proud Auntie and anxious to share these pictures of my precious new niece, Madelyn. She was born today, Monday, Feb. 11th at 4:07 pm (Mountain Time), weighing in at 6 pounds, 7 ounces. We all think she looks just like her daddy. My sister, Kelly, is doing great as well. Stay tuned for more pictures.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sock Monkey

The boys have been invited to friend's birthday party next weekend. Their friend and his parents asked for sustainable gift-giving. The invitation read, "Please recycle a gift like a favorite toy or book, hand make something from your heart, or contribute to a cause."

The boys and I chose the first and the second options. Their job was to find something that they can re-gift, and my job was to hand make something. I decided to try my hand at making a sock monkey, complete with a knitted hat and scarf. (I used a doll pattern for the knitted hat) He was made, with lots of love, from a pair of Rockford Redheel socks. How did I do, Esme?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Knitting and Pearling

I recently finished knitting these two scarves and wanted to share the patterns. The one on the left is a diagonal ribbing and the one on the right is a checkerboard pattern.

For both patterns I used size 10.5 (6.5 mm) needles and used about 250 yards of yarn.

Diagonal Ribbing Pattern:

Cast on 24 stitches

R1: *K2, p2, repeat from* to end
R2: *K2, P2, repeat from* to end
R3: K1, *p2, k2 rep. from * to last 3 sts, p2 k1
R4: P1, *k2, p2, rep. from* to last 3 sts, k2,p1
R5: *P2, k2, rep. from* to end
R6: *P2, k2, rep. from* to end
R7: P1, *k2, p2, rep from* to last 3 sts, k2, p1
R8: K1, *p2, k2 rep. from* to last 3 stst, p2, k1
Continue repeating these 8 rows until you run out of yarn, bind off and weave in ends.

Checkerboard Pattern:

Cast on 20 stitches

R1: k5, p5, k5, p5
repeat for rows 2 - 5
R6: p5, k5, p5, k5
repeat for rows 7 - 10
Keep repeating these ten rows until you almost run out of yarn, bind off, and weave in ends.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Cup of Kindness

I finally got around to making this teapot tablecloth and stool covers for my kitchen table. They were very simple to make (no pattern necessary); it was just finding the time to make them that was the problem.

You may recognize the fabrics as being Mary Englebright. The tablecloth has colorful teapots and the words, "A Cup of Kindness" written throughout the pattern. I made the stool covers out of a coordinating fabric in black with cherries. I sewed elastic into the stool covers so that they can be easily removed and thrown into the wash. The boys eat breakfast and lunch at this table so as you can imagine my stool covers make it to the wash a couple of time a week. I'm excited that these are black. Maybe they'll last longer between washings....maybe.As an added bonus and one that I didn't even realize when I bought the fabric, is that I have a set of the matching Mary Englebright dishes. A friend gave these to me, they were her mother's. She had several place settings and was kind enough to share 6 of them with me.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Tea Cozy & Handbag

Tea Cozy

With the weather being cold and snowy, I've been finding myself wanting to stay indoors more often. The nice thing about that is having the opportunity to sew. I recently tried out two new patterns. The first was this cute tea cozy. I made this for my tea guru who also bought some of the same fabric to make a tablecloth.

I used Simplicity pattern 5068. It was very fun to make and not difficult at all. From start to finish it took less than two hours. I'll definitely be making more of these for my tea-loving friends.

This is the front of the cozy. We found the fabric at Hobby Lobby and it's absolutely adorable with pink roses, pretty teapots and teacups throughout. I used a satin cording for the outside edge.

This is the backside of the cozy. It's a pretty coordinating fabric in beige with pink roses. I also lined the inside with the same fabric. I ironed a thick fusible padding to the front and back pieces to insulate the cozy.

Above is a picture of the inside lining, and below a closeup of the pretty tea fabric.

Sewing Project Number 2

Mac was invited to a friend's birthday party this weekend. His friend who happens to be an 11 year-old girl, just learned how to knit. We decided to buy her some fun knitting supplies and I also thought it would be nice to make her a knitting bag.

I found this cute pattern, Simplicity 9963, which I thought would be quick and easy to make. I've had this blue and brown paisley fabric for awhile, another Hobby Lobby find. I just fell in love with it and had to buy some even though I wasn't quite sure what to use it for. It ended up coming in very handy for this project and I love the end result. Very pretty!