Friday, December 9, 2011

Felting Classes

A couple months ago, I mentioned I had something in the works, and now the schedule is posted, I can finally tell you!  I'll be teaching some felting workshops at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina this year!  Yay!  The Arts Center has a bunch of fun classes for kids and adults, and starting in January, I'll be teaching a couple of classes on how to make felted objects for you and your home... starting with hearts like the one below...

Here is the class listing, with link....
Felting Hearts
FeltedAnmials
Valentines Day is coming up and love is in the air! Needle-felt 3 detailed hearts to hand out as valentines or use as seasonal decorations. Hang them up on a seasonal tree or mantle, adorn gifts with them for a special touch, decorate your dinner table with a little extra love – the possibilities are endless!
Instructor: Amy Plew
Date: Saturday, January 28, 2012
Time:  10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Tuition: $40

Thanks for taking a look!  I'm so excited to get to share this craft with other people!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Christmas Chaos

Thanksgiving is barely over, and I'm feeling the anxiety of how much I have to do before Christmas gets here.  All of the making, decorating, planning, traveling... feels really overwhelming right now.  I don't know why!  I love this time of year and all of the festivities that come with it.  Maybe it's because everyone is so sick.  (BLECK!)  Our living room is starting to look like a sick tornado has spun through it, complete with empty tissue boxes, piles of pillows, blankets, and pink kitty nebulizer.  Hopefully, now that everyone is on neb treatments and antibiotics, we will be on the mend and we can get on with Christmas already!
The neb masks were hung by the chimney with care....
The pink kitty nebulizer


Maybe it's my psychotic need to have a "perfect" holiday, or the unrealistic expectations I have on myself, but my list is a mile long, and I am light years away from being able to complete it.  I have only purchased one gift for Christmas this year, and it's for Jared, and he was there when I got it... so no surprises there, and the gift making has not yet begun.  Also we do not have a single decoration up yet.  Jared has been in bed all day with a fever, and Micah was plumb-tuckered from taking a walk earlier today (we needed to get some fresh air!)... so Jesse and I are enjoying a little mug of hot chocolate and then we're going to start with the decorating.  The tree won't go up tonight.  It's in the garage and I can't carry it in by myself.  So we will have to cherish these little moments together, listening to Christmas music, drinking our cocoa, and putting up a couple of things to make this house look like Christmas is coming.  I know these moments are few and fleeting, so I am determined to enjoy them in the midst of the chaos that is our life.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Change of plans...

The plan was for the boys to be Oompa Loompas (from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) last year.  Instead, because I was just too tired, Jesse went as Fred from Scooby Doo, and Micah wore a "My First Halloween"onesie and striped pants.

Halloween 2010
This year, I was determined to make my little ones Oompa Loompas.  Thus began "Operation Wonka-fy":
Plan A: Buy some thrifted brown shirts and white pants and repurpose them into costumes.  No such luck.  
Plan B: Find brown turtle necks, brown socks, and white pants at any store.  Not happening.
Plan C: Buy pattern and fabric to create our own costume.  No pattern.  No brown and white striped fabric.  No brown socks.  No green wigs.  Plan D?     
Plan D: Make EVERYTHING from scratch.  Never mind I've never made a pattern, sewn a shirt, or worked with knit fabric...oh, and did I mention I waited until the weekend before Halloween to get sewing?

Thanks to my very sweet husband, and some patient kids, who had to try their costumes on at least a dozen times before I got them right, I think they turned out really cute!
 Happy (very belated) Halloween!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gotcha!

I'm always a little sensitive this time of year.  I feel a bit... umm... delicate. It seems like Jesse has always been a part of our family, but my heart remembers when he wasn't.  Just over 3 years ago, I was full-swing in the midst of grieving...grieving for the children I thought I'd never have.  And when I think back on those dark days, I can still feel the raw edges of doubt and pain that ruled my life then.  Doubt that I would ever fulfill my purpose.  Doubt that maybe I wasn't supposed to be a Mommy...and the heartbreak that ensued.  I was exhausted, shaken to the very core of my being.  I feel silly even thinking back on those days now because everything changed, shifted when we got the call from DSS that they had a little boy for us to foster.  And ten days later Jesse walked into our living room and into our lives.  And God revealed Himself in a way I never expected.  I am overwhelmed by His goodness!
Our first "family" photo - October 20, 2008
My life will never be the same!  Jesse is one of the most amazing blessings I've ever received.  I don't know why it shocks me how perfectly he fits in our family.  Or how he and Micah look so alike.  God really did know what He was doing!  So, you see, I might feel delicate right now, but I am also eternally grateful!  Grateful for a God who sees the whole picture - both mine and Jesse's.  Grateful that I can see why I had to walk through the valley, and come out the other side a Mommy.  Grateful that He sees it fit to let Jesse call me his Mommy.  And today, we celebrate Jesse's THIRD Gotcha Day!


We love you, Jesse!  So glad we gotcha!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Some exciting news is coming!

No, I'm not pregnant.  But here's a little hint...




Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pumpkin butter!!!

Have I mentioned how much I love pumpkin?!  And pumpkin butter has to be one of the best pumpkin-y things I've ever tasted!  YUM!!!

As of Friday, I was still trying to decide what I wanted to can this weekend, and then Jared brought home a bunch of little pie pumpkins that his work wasn't going to use for an art project.  We started processing the pumpkins after going to to the pumpkin patch on Saturday afternoon.  It was a family affair.

I've never made pumpkin pulp before.  Every time I've baked anything pumpkin, I've used the canned stuff.  So, Jesse helped scoop 1/2 of a pumpkin, and Micah just wanted to hold and sniff a pumpkin half, and take little licks of the inside when he thought we weren't looking.  (I don't think that he was too impressed with the taste. ha ha!)  Jared gutted the rest of the pumpkins.  We cut the pumpkins into chunks and lined them up on 2 large jelly roll pans.

We covered them with foil, then baked them at 375 degrees for just shy of 2 hours, and scooped out the pulp.  We blended the pulp until smooth using a hand blender.  Then, I looked for at a couple of recipes and tweaked one a bit to come up with my own (because I'm a rebel like that!).  16 hours in a crock pot, and a bit of canning, and we've got....

Pumpkin Butter (in a crock pot)
Ingredients:
9 pie pumpkins, cooked, pulp removed, and blended until smooth (see above) ***
Juice from 5 small lemons
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup apple cider
4 cups sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Directions:
Place half of the pumpkin pulp into a large crock pot with all of the other ingredients.  Make sure you have at least 2 inches of room at the top of the crock pot.  Blend with a hand blender until smooth.  Place the lid on top, but do not seal or close tightly.  You want the steam to escape.  Cook the pumpkin on high for 5-6 hours or until the pulp has halved in volume.  You can stir the pulp, but it's not necessary.  I let mine cook overnight.  Add the rest of the pulp, and continue to cook the pumpkin until it's thick and dark brownish-orange - approximately 5 more hours.  Use a hand blender to smooth out the mixture once more.

The USDA says that pumpkin cannot be safely canned because the acidity of pumpkins varies so much...so spoon hot pumpkin butter into jars that have been run through a dishwasher with "heated dry" or boiled in a pot of water for 10 minutes.  You want to have the pumpkin butter about the same temperature as the jars.  Top with lids.  Let jars cool on a towel-lined counter top.  Store pumpkin butter in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.  Makes approximately 12 pints of pumpkin butter.

There's not much that I wouldn't eat this yummy pumpkin-y goodness on.  So far, we've tried it on crackers, pretzels, apples slices, pumpkin pancakes, bagels with cream cheese...but I'm thinking that it would be pretty amazing on a cheesecake, or on muffins, or how about chocolate chip banana bread?  YUMMY!!!!  Happy canning!!!

***If making your own pumpkin pulp seems like too much work (it is a bit labor-intensive), you can always substitute a couple of cans of already prepared pumpkin pulp.  Just make sure it's not pumpkin pie filling.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

When we got home....

Camping was a blast, but the best part was coming home to have not one, but two packages for ME on our front porch.  I hardly ever get mail that isn't a bill, and I never get packages aside from my birthday.... and yet, there they were...

Package #1 was from my Mom.  I grew up on a sheep farm, and my very talented Mom has always used the wool from our sheep to spin, dye, and knit.  (We were the only weirdos in town that had a bunch of dead-headed flowers in the yard from from cutting the flowers off to use as dye.)  Later on, my sisters, Mom and I used the wool for needle felting.  But, it's difficult to make a living off of a product that is 100% hand-made.  For the first time ever, Mom decided that the most recent harvest of wool was to be processed and made into yarn.  She still dyes the yarn by hand, but at least she's sparing the flowers this time.  Let me just tell you that it's the most gorgeous yarn you've ever seen, and I am the overjoyed owner of 3 skeins of it - natural white, gray, and hand-dyed blue.  (I am practically giddy!!!!)

Gorgeous, right?!
The second package was from my Mother-in-law, and inside of it was two dozen Weck canning jars!  (Again, giddy!)  I love making jam and "putting up" peaches every year, but the last 2 years I've been a bit busy (on bed rest with Bean, and then chasing after my one-year-old).  I am afraid that I might have missed the best produce of the Summer, but these jars are nothing short of inspiring!  Their vintage/modern shape, all-glass lids, and little rubber gaskets, have me practically chomping at the bit to can SOMETHING!!!  Aren't they pretty?!
Yes.  I am a big dork, and the first thing I did was take them out of the box, line them up, and admire them. 
Like I said, I'm a dork.  
So, this weekend, on top of FINALLY finishing the mountain of post-camping laundry, I am on a quest to find the perfect knitting project for my new yarn, and something to put up.  Any suggestions?!

Oh, and if you want a bit of this awesome yarn for yourself, just contact my Mom via her etsy site.  She should be posting some yarn soon!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Into the woods...

With most summer days here reaching over 90 degrees with 100% humidity, we welcome Fall, and cooler temperatures, with open arms! We can finally venture outside without sweating through our t-shirts, and having to listen to incessant whining about how hot it is from our very heat-intolerant 5-year-old!  (poor thing!)  But...I have to tell you... I am not really what you'd refer to as an "outdoorsy type".  I would much rather stay in a nice hotel, with my own bathroom and a hot shower.  I don't really like getting dirty, and I hate bugs because I always end up getting eaten alive.  And if I'm going "camping" I'd much prefer camping the way my in-laws do it - in a RV.  Ha!  But until we can work an RV into the budget, we will stay in a tent because my Jesse just loves camping.  And this time around, I was really excited to collect my boys under one tented roof, and find some adventure in the woods.  And we definitely found some adventure!  We ventured into the "wild" of Jekyll Island, for one of the more memorable family times with my little ones.  And despite, colder-than-expected temperatures, a really grumpy Jesse, extremely loud quarreling raccoons at 3:00 am, a deflated air mattress, a broken camp stove, forgotten groceries and can opener, and attempting to pack 2 adults, five-year-old, toddler, and 2 dogs onto the only remaining queen-sized air mattress, we had a great time together.

Located smack-dab between Savannah and Jacksonville, Jekyll Island is an awesome place to visit!  It has a little bit of fun for everyone in the family - gorgeous beaches, miles of paved biking trails, gigantic, sprawling hundreds-of-years-old live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, the old plantation home made of tabby, Horton House, and a beautiful historic district, that was once owned by the richest people in the world.  And it was just so nice being able to enjoy all of it with my boys!
Micah eating a pre-breakfast muffin while Daddy went to get replacement eggs for the ones Mommy forgot at home. 


Cooking bacon on our tiny camp stove since the Coleman stove was  busted.
Brothers chilling in the wagon, after Jesse finally got over his case of the grumps.
My boys at the Horton House

Jesse showing us how to jump
Swinging with Bean
The squirrel who ate all of Jared's Chex Mix.  Poor Jared.
This is when he decided he loves camping.
Micah likes chilling at the camp site
Our home camp
Wagon walk with Daddy
Roasting marshmallows 
Micah likes S'mores!

and we all loved camping!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Crafting

I love that Jesse is getting old enough/coordinated enough to start making things with me, and I'm always on the lookout for projects we can do together.  So....to welcome Fall we've been making some fun kid-friendly crafts.  Here's our paper-mache pumpkin project that you can make with your little pumpkins.

We started with this project idea from Martha Stewart, but adjusted the directions to make the project more kid-friendly.  I did not take any pictures during the process because Jesse and I were both covered in glue, but we had so much fun together!  

Here is what you need:
Latex Balloons (we used medium-sized and found that blue and green balloons are easier because you can see where you need to cover the balloon better.)
Orange tissue paper
Wheatpaste (either buy from art supply store, or make your own.  It's super easy, and here's the recipe we used.  It made just enough for 2 medium pumpkins.)
Newspaper
Cup or mason jar
Clothesline or rope
Clothespins
Sharpie Marker or black paint
Green and brown Felt or wool roving

Here is what you do:
1) Make glue according to recipe.  Set aside and let cool.
2) Cut 1-2 inch wide strips of orange tissue paper.  Set aside.
3) Blow up balloons.  Cover your work surface with lots of newspaper.  
4) Martha's directions called for perfectly aligned strips, using a paintbrush to brush on the glue.  However, after attempting this for 2 seconds with a 5 year-old, we gave up, and smeared the glue on with our hands.  We smeared glue on the balloon, then placed the strips of tissue paper from the knot to the top of the balloon.  Smooth the strip down and smear glue on top of it.  The balloon will tend to want to roll, so balance the balloon on the cup or mason jar while you're working on it to prevent it from rolling all over the newspaper.
5) Place the next strip of paper slightly overlapping your first strip.  Continue this process, overlapping each strip slightly as you work your way around the balloon.  Make sure the entire balloon is covered.  Then, start another layer.  We made 3 layers of tissue paper for each balloon.
6)  When you're done, hang the balloon from the knot using a clothespin on a rope.  Our balloons took 24 hours to dry.  It may take longer if it's particularly humid where you live.
7)  When the paper is dry, pop the balloon while it's still hanging.  It took a few minutes for the balloon to deflate and release the pumpkin.  The paper pumpkin will crumple a little, but don't worry, you can fix that later.
8)  Add your finishing touches!  Draw or paint a face on your pumpkin to make him a jack-o-lantern.  (We used a black Sharpie marker.)  If the pumpkin crumples a bit, just blow into the open end, and it will puff back up.  I needle-felted a stem and leaf using some leftover roving, but you can just as easily roll up a rectangle of felt for the stem and cut a leaf from felt.  Stick both in the opening on top.

Jesse's pumpkin
Mommy's pumpkin
Happy crafting!

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's Friday!

We have a lot to do this weekend - a garage sale at Jesse's school, two birthday parties, tons of long-overdue lawn work...and I'm sure there's a ton more that I'm forgetting...  But today, I am going to slow down and just enjoy spending time with my sweet boys!  Because hey...it's Friday!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Charlotte's a MOMMY!

It was my freshman year of college....

12 hours away from home, in a basement dorm room, with 3 other girls I didn't know, placed together by the college.  It was one of the craziest years of my life.  And the strangest part of it all, was Charlotte.  Charlotte was one of my 3 roommates, and she was definitely peculiar.  Oh, the stories I could tell!  OK...I'll just tell a couple...

We went to a very conservative Christian college, and here is this girl, who would run to the shower naked, using her towel as a cape, shouting, "SUPER CHARLOTTE!"  She used to prank call this poor boy, Bob, every time she got a cold because she sounded like a crazy old man, but she called it her "sexy voice."  And she had this stuffed Ernie (you know...like Bert and Ernie) doll that would suspiciously start singing at 3:00 am.  (((Needless to say, Ernie had some surgery to remove his batteries pretty early in the semester!)))  HAHAHA!  I can laugh about it now, but really, we could barely stand each other then.

I don't know how it happened, but after we left school, we became pretty close, talking on the phone a couple times a month.  She was a single, wild-child radio DJ, professing her undying love for every musician she met (HA!), while I was busy getting married, becoming a nurse, and having kids.  But, despite our differences, and her crazy radio DJ lifestyle, big moves to California, Arkansas, then Florida, we have kept in touch.  And this girl who used to drive me crazy, became one of my dearest friends!

Then, in just two short years, Charlotte lost her job, moved back home, broke up with her boyfriend, reconnected with her high school sweetheart, went back to school, got married, bought a house, and got pregnant.  (I told you...she's crazy!  HA!)  She didn't want to know the sex of the baby, so she called the baby "Wilbur" from Charlotte's Web, and decorated the nursery with pages from the book, and black white, and baby blue.  And in late July, Charlotte and her husband, Justin, welcomed Andrew into their family.

So, I knew that I needed to make Andrew (a.k.a. Wilbur) some piggy love for his nursery.  I scoured the web for a cute piggy picture that I could embroider, and found the cutest little piglet drawn by illustrator,  Aaron Zenz.  (Check out his newest book - Chuckling Duckling.  It's so cute!)

Welcome to the world, Andrew!!!!


(((P.S.  Thanks to Aaron Zenz for allowing me to borrow his sketch to make this gift for my sweet friend!)))

Friday, September 9, 2011

And the winner is....

Congratulations, Lizzy!  (I had Jesse draw the winner out of a bowl so it would be fair.)  I hope you enjoy your little felted Fall goodies! 

It's not too late....

Hey, all!  It's not too late to enter your name into the drawing for some hand felted Fall decorations.  Just leave your name and email address on a post from this week, and you'll be entered to win!  Entries close at noon today, and I'll post the winner later this evening!  Good luck!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Made for you - a little gnome

I finished my first gnome order last night, and he will be shipped off to his new home today.  Here he is:


And don't forget to leave a comment with your email address on this blog before Friday at noon to be entered into the giveaway drawing!  Have a great day!!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thanks, Megan....giveaway extended

Hello friends!  My sister, Megan, in all of her vast wisdom, suggested that since it was a holiday weekend, and that people were out having fun, and not hanging around reading blogs and surfing the internet, that I should extend the giveaway for a couple more days.

OK, Megan, I'll give it a couple more days.  I was just really excited to set up my shop, that maybe I made the giveaway deadline a little too short.  How about Friday?  Would that suit you, smarty-pants Megan!?  :o)  OK, then Friday it is!

Just leave a message on this or any post this week (just one please) with your email address so that I can get a hold of you if you win and I'll randomly draw a name by noon on Friday.  So, come on, folks!  Leave a comment for a chance to win some lovely hanging acorns and three Fall leaves...and make Megan happy!


Oh, and since you're back from your long weekend, and you'll need something to do during your long work day, please check out my shop, too.  :o)  Thanks!