"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Christmas Eve for me usually begins with a pile of fabric. It wouldn't be Christmas Eve if I didn't have some unfinished project that had to be done that day :)

This year I was inspired to make all new stockings.

The inspiration came from this one, which was given to us by my husband's employer, stuffed full of cookies and candies. I loved the denim idea with the pocket and western trim. The only difference was that I wanted a wider top and names embroidered on the pockets.

I had a huge stash of old jeans I had picked up at a thrift store that was going out of business 3 years ago. I ended up with a whole huge rubbermaid tub full for $2. I had always intended to make a denim stadium quilt, but as with most of my plans, I had never gotten around to it. So I dug out the jeans, decided which ones to use for the body of the stockings and which ones to use for the pockets, cut them out and took the pockets down to the local embroidery shop to have the names sewn on.

Then the pockets were sewn onto the stockings.

I added a lining with a decorative western fabric for the cuff. The green is just some extra fabric that I pulled out of my give-away pile. It doesn't show, so it was a good option for a cheap lining.

Each person got a different western fabric for their cuff. Here are all the pieces lined up and waiting to be stitched.

It took me a minute to figure out the order to sew these in. I began by sewing on the pockets, then I attached the cuff fabric to the lining fabric. Then I attached the lining and cuff to the outer denim piece - sewing along the top edge (that's what you see in this picture). After that, I unfolded the pieces, stacked them together and sewed all but a small section of the lining, which I left open for turning. I didn't think to take a picture of that, but it basically looks like a double stocking laid out flat - lining right sides together on one side and denim right sides together on the other side. I sewed all around that, then turned them right side out, top-stitched along the section where the cuff meets the denim so it would lay flat, and closed the hole I had left open for turning. I made a long tube out of fabric to match each cuff, and stitched that to the inside of the stocking - through all the layers, which also serves the purpose of holding the cuff in place. I am a bit obsessive about perfect measurements on things like this so I measured each cuff to ensure they were all equal, and made sure that the tabs were all equal as well so that the stockings would hang evenly.

This is what we ended up with. I think if I had to do it over again I would choose all small pockets as the larger ones make the stockings look off kilter. I didn't have that option because I had to work with what I had on hand. I also was not thrilled with the job the embroidery place did. All the names are in the same font, but they are all different sizes and all placed in different places on the pockets. Some of that is because of the design on the pockets, but some of it is because they didn't make an effort to line them up. If I had more time I would have undone the stitching and made them do two of them over. I think I also would have had all the lettering done in the same color - probably black - rather that making everyone different. But overall, I'm really happy with how they turned out. The biggest problem is that they are really big, and it's hard to find enough stuff to fill them. They would hold way more candy than I would want any of my kids to have!

I think the pocket on this one is way too big. I had a hard time finding small enough pockets and wide enough pants to get the stocking sections. I had to work with what I had on hand, and I think it turned out okay for the most part.

This is one of the pockets I would have made them re-stitch if I had had the time. They put the name way too far up - it even goes into the top hem. Compare that to the Mama stocking, which used the same kind of pocket.

This is another I would have made them do over. The name is much smaller than any of the others. It is also the same pocket as the next one you will see but the lettering on this one is much lower than the other one. By the way, these are my favorite size pockets. I wish I would have had enough of these to use for everyone's. But when you get them from a thrift store, you get what you get. Not to mention the fact that I wasn't looking for pockets when I shopped for these jeans. Cute pockets, though.

I used coordinating fabric on the youngest boys' stockings and on Dad and our oldest son's stockings. Brands for the little boys and bandanas for the older ones :)

I guess in the long run it really doesn't matter how they turned out. The kids are happy with the stockings and it is fun to have a western set that matches. We are very into western decor here so these suite us well.

Now, because I neglected to do a post on this earlier, here are some pictures from my daughter's 18th birthday the week before Christmas. Her 2-year-old brother wanted to help her with the presents. She got up that morning and told him he had to be good because it was her birthday, and he said, "Presents!" (He also learned to yell "Presents!" whenever the UPS man came to the door).

He was having a hard time not getting a head start on the little box, so she had him clasp his hands. It nearly killed him to wait :)

There was a lot of excitement with opening the gifts.

She made cupcakes rather than a large cake this time (which I neglected to get a picture of). She enjoys cooking and always wants to decorate her own cakes. This year she made chocolate cupcakes with peppermint fluff frosting. She mixed a can of cream cheese frosting with a tub of cool whip and added red food coloring and peppermint extract. The peppermint fluff was divine.

I had to include this picture too. She made the skirt as one of her homeschool sewing projects. It came out really well. We loved this fabric and ordered it online when it was on a great sale - I think from JoAnn Fabrics if I remember right. We got enough so that both of us could make something out of it. So now I need to get my sewing done. She wants us to have matching skirts, so I guess that's what I'll do with it. I was thinking about a shirt, but there is no stretch to the fabric and I really prefer a stretchy shirt, so I'm good with a skirt. Better get to work on that soon, I guess (along with the eight thousand other projects I've been waiting to get to).

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Happy Christmas for All

We had such a fun Christmas!

Candy canes and chocolate...

See the dog behind him? If all he had received was that dog, his fuzzy pillow and the rocking horse, he would have had all he wanted. We actually got the horse at a yard sale for FREE - with broken rubber bands. It cost me about $15 to buy new bands, and here we have the best gift ever for our little cowboy.

It was great to have all the kids home at the same time to share Christmas together. I suspect that will happen less and less often. We were especially grateful to have the 20 year old home.

Can you say CANDY? A whole stocking full. That seemed to be one of the themes of the year.

Unless you ask my husband, in which case he would say the theme was coffee and chocolate!

Here's the favorite fluffy pillow. I made this out of some super cuddly soft fleece I picked up at Walmart a year ago. I still have plans to make him some sleeper pants out of this material. He loves his sister's Grinch pants - which are the same fabric. He calls them "zuffy" - meaning soft and fluffy. The first time she wore them he snuggled up to them and then started pulling on them and saying, "Off! Off!" She told him that wasn't a good idea at the time ;)

Here he is putting his puppy down for a nap.

"Gimme five" among brothers who are 18 years apart. We weren't sure how the 2 year old would do, not having seen his big brother for 6 months, but they hit it off well and have been inseparable.

Here's my 6 year's favorite gift. It is a light table that has designs to make fancy cars with flames and all sorts of add-ons. He spent a lot of time creating very cool pictures. It was pricey, but well worth the money. In fact I think his dad and older brother and sister all designed cars too.

Here's our little cowboy. We had to keep pulling him off of the horse to get him to open another gift. He would have just stayed on the horse all day if we had allowed it.

Nap time. Can you spot the baby?

How about the not so little one? Here she is with her new blankie :) She'll love that. She just turned 18 last week.

We had a great Christmas and just enjoyed being together as a family. On Christmas Eve we were able to attend a candle light service at church and really enjoyed that focus. It is the true meaning of the season, after all. Hope you all had a great Christmas too.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quick Update

No exciting pictures today. Just a quick update. We're not going to have the house here before Christmas - a big disappointment. But I guess it will get here when it gets here. There have been a lot of storms in NC, which is really not typical at this time of year. We've had snow today here and expect it most days this week too. We drove to Jackson Hole for groceries and a few final items today. It was cold and really snowy, but the roads were not any worse than we expected. We did see two bears and several elk along the way, which is always fun. The bear sighting is very unusual, and they were a long ways off, but it was still very cool.

Before we left this morning, I got up early and went out to my sewing igloo (aka the unheated garage) and finished the boys' pajama pants. Now all I have left to sew is a super cuddly pillow for the 2 year old. I'm hoping to have enough extra fabric from that project to make him some "fluffy" pants - as he calls his sister's fuzzy fleece pajama pants. I bought some really soft fleece to make myself a scarf today too. I sure wish my indoor sewing room was here (I'm going to use one of the bedrooms of our house as a sewing room - can't wait to be warm while I sew :)

Well, that's it for the update... Christmas is only a week away!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Tour of Ornaments

Ready for this? There's a lot to see, so I'll try to keep the explanations brief ... stop laughing.

This is a new one this year. I picked it up at Hallmark for next to nothing. I had a coupon for $5 off a $5 purchase. It embodies everything that is important to me about Christmas! Thank you, Lord!

Here's our family... for now. We ought to have two bigger children and two littler ones, but you can't have everything in a mass-produced ornament. Originally the green sign said 2007. I had to paint over it and write our youngest in that spot. If we have any more, I'll have to buy another ornament :) Something tells me it would be a challenge to find one with more bears on it!

I have a serious love of all things snowman - as you will see as you go through these pictures.

Here's our little display. I forgot to take an individual picture of it, but the little votive candle on the front right side of the picture is one of the things my 6 year old made at the library the other night. They had a big party after the Christmas parade.

This is a fun snowman. He is like one of those bobble head dolls - his whole body jiggles.

The bears at the front are part of my usual decor - I have a ton of bears too :) The friendship one was given to me by none other than a friend, and the little one is an ornament with my 6 year old's name on it. The snowmen with the tall hats were given to me by a dear family that means the world to me. I taught three of their eight children in my 2-3 year old Sunday school class, and one year they gave me these. We live on the other side of the US now, and I miss them.
The glass nativity set was given to me by a family with a couple of boys I used to babysit back in NC.

Even our windows are decorated - and the bathroom mirrors too, but I'll spare you those pictures.

Our display boxes get transformed from bears and moose to snowmen this time of year, complete with a blanket of snow. I've had the stuffed one for several years, but the box set was acquired last year.

The angel was a gift from a very obnoxious house guest. Maybe she felt bad for grilling my kids over being homeschooled. Who knows. Anyway, I liked the angel, so it stayed. The pinecones were decorated by my now 18 year old daughter (well, she'll be 18 in a few days) back when she was pretty little - maybe 9 or 10 years old. It makes a nice display, I think.

Here's the other display box of snowmen - and a polar bear to boot. The glass ball ornament was one that we picked up near San Antonio when we went to my son's Air Force boot camp graduation. There is a place within an hour of there - up on the northeast side of San Antonio (a different town, really) where they do glass blowing demonstrations. We were able to watch them make some light fixture globes in gorgeous colors and had to bring home a souvenier. I would have loved one of their bowls or vases, but they were WAY out of my price range - and I would have worried about them surviving my home, so we came home with a Christmas ornament instead. It is so much more beautiful in person.

As Jesus is the true reason for the season, and we are very grateful to Him for His immeasureable gift, we have several nativity scenes.

Now we're on to tree ornaments. This is one of my favorites - a brushed copper bucking horse. Can't tell you how much we LOVE Wyoming, and living in the west!

This is a dough ornament we bought while on our honeymoon in Jackson Hole. I'm surprised it's survived this long, but I'm glad it has. It's hard to tell in the picture, but the couple leaning out of the window are moose!

Our youngest little cowboy's ornament.

The 6 year old decided to make an ornament for our tree. Another nativity. See a theme here? He decided to do this all on his own and only showed it to us after it was done.

Now we're into some very old ornaments. These stained glass ornaments were from my childhood. They were given to me by a Sunday school teacher I had way back when...

Here's another one. There is another with wise men on it, but I missed getting a picture of that one. I love putting these in front of the lights on the tree. They're so pretty!

Here's the oldest ornament we have. I made in when I was 4 or 5 in Sunday school. It is the old style tinsel wrapped around an empty thread spool. I have another one that is gold, but I didn't take a picture of it.

This is an old Hallmark ornament that my mother gave one of my older kids. Unfortunately I can't remember which one, but it would have been sometime between 1990-1993.

This one is easy - my oldest son's first ornament from my mother.

We made a bunch of these melted snowmen for a craft fair one year. They're made out of hot glue, sticks with a cloth scarf and a foam hat. They used to have bead "buttons" down the front too. Well, that's it for now. Hope you enjoyed the tour.