Friday, December 30, 2011

Handmade Gifts (Part One)

Karlie (our niece) got the Selena Mermaid from Wee Wonderfuls, my third project and gift for her from the book.  I enlarged the pattern by 150% to give her a little more impact.  She turned out super cute and is a pretty quick project.

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Karlie also received her very own "Packpack" made by me from this Made by Rae pattern.  The main fabric and yellow strapping are from City Craft in Dallas, I love that store!  I put vinyl on the fabric to make it more durable.  I also added the outer pocket, though I messed up and had to sew the velcro to the flap after I had put it together.  Not that big of a deal though.  Over all I think it came together really well.  It is not nearly as hard as you would think, or as I thought it would be anyways.

Sorry these pictures are sideways, they are from my mom's camera and flickr stream. 
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Christmas 2011 152

Christmas 2011 056

It fits perfectly!
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I also made her a scarf, one of eleven handmade scarves that I made as gifts and neglected to photograph. That's what happens when you do everything last minute. Oh well. I'll share more handmade gifts with you next week.

We have good friends coming over tonight for dinner and since we have no New Years plans we will probably cook a nice meal and watch some netflix tomorrow night. Unless any of you want to invite us out for New Years.
xoxo
Ashley

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Post Christmas Catch Up

I have caught up on sleep, recovered from the stress of work and sleep deprivation and thoroughly enjoyed Christmas Eve, Christmas day and the two days off that followed. I'm sorry I have been so absent here, I'm not going to lie, the weeks leading up to Christmas were quite stressful for me.  Waiting til the last two weeks before the holiday to shop, bake, make and wrap gifts was just too much this time.

We were able to see our Cervantez nieces and nephews two nights in a row.
Cervantez Kids on Christmas Eve Eve

Frank got the idea to learn some Christmas songs on guitar so that he could play with and for the kids.  At first they all said they weren't going to sing but they really got into it.
We sang Jingle Bells, Rudolph and Feliz Navidad multiple times.
I think we have a new tradition!
Frank accompanying the kids on guitar

Cervantez kids at grandmas house on Christmas eve

We repeated the singing at my parents house.
Karlie loves to sings, and is always singing.
Yes, a new tradition for sure!
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Karlie and cousin Thomas
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We took our usual walk with Karlie to see the horses after Christmas dinner.
I love that she loves to be outside.
Karlie Christmas day

On the way back she was running a good while and saying "I run fast!".
I want to find joy in running like that.
Karlie Christmas day

Karlie Christmas day

My mom posted this picture that I took of Karlie with the caption:
I hope all of you are running off joyously into the New Year where there are lots of blessings and good things waiting for everyone.
I like the sentiment of that quote.  I am trying to do those things both literally and figuratively.  Running (or walking) for health, counting my blessings, and finding joy in the new year.

I have several handmade gifts to share with you, though I neglected to photograph the ones that I made the most of.  I guess I'll have to bribe my gift recipients to take pictures of themselves wearing my scarves.

I have plenty of New Years resolutions, as always, I want to start anew.
Mostly they come down to being more organized, planning ahead and having healthier habits.
 More specifically:
*Better meal planning, with my wacky schedule it is hard.  Planning better will also lead to healthier eating habits.
*Exercising regularly.  We want to join a gym but so does the rest of the country right now.
*A repeat of my goal for this year that didn't come to fruition: de-cluttering the house, going through all closets, drawers and cabinets to clear out excess and deep clean the house.  I also want to paint and reorganize our utility room.
*Add more personal touches to both our home and my wardrobe.  Basically being more thoughtful about my style and what I live with.
*Learn to Knit, finally!
*And start preparing for Christmas early next year.  But that goes along with better planning in general.

If you don't see me before next week, I hope you are all safe, happy and surrounded by the ones you love as you ring in the New Year.  We don't go out on New Years, but I still love it and it feels like a fresh start.

Happy New Years!
xoxo
Ashley

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cookie Plans

I usually do a Christmas baking marathon with mom each year. We use the cookies for gifting, hostess gifts, etc. My schedule is preventing that from happening this time around, but I still plan on baking at home. I suggested we each make extra cookies and do an exchange. I'm planning on making Ginger Burst cookies. They are selling them at Central Market right now and they are To*Die*For. There was a contest in our local paper for cookie recipes and it won. New favorite Christmas cookie? Maybe! Seriously, if you love ginger you have to make these. They are chewy and just right.

I found some images from previous Christmases to get me in the spirit.
A little bit of Christmas

A little bit of Christmas

There are also two lemon cookies that I have pinned on Pinterest. This one and this one. I guess I want to try a lemon cookie, who knew.

After looking at my Christmas cookie post from last year for inspiration I feel a bit better about my lack of preparation. I'm actually a bit ahead of schedule if I compare dates. However, last year I was self employed and this year I have a work schedule. Ugh, darn work gets in the way every time, doesn't it?!  Speaking of work, I see a lot of great food gift ideas come through my line.  A couple last night was going to make spice rubs for the men on their list.  I think that's a great idea.

A little bit of Christmas

Done!

Penguins for Frank

I'm off today and spent the morning catching up on Etsy orders.  I have a plan for decorating our ficus tree that I think will add some Christmas excitement around here.  I'm off to prepare my grocery list for baking and do some errand running.  Have a great day.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Craft-aster

So much to do, so little time.  I know everyone feels that way this time of year.
I'm almost finished with one big Christmas gift that I have been working on since summer.  The only one that I started on in advance.

I made cupcakes for two friends birthdays that we missed last month and they will be delivered this evening.  I used the Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache filling from Bakergirl and the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting from Glorious Treats.  I had the idea to top each with a blackberry, so I colored the frosting violet.  After they were piped I decided the blackberry would ruin the pretty swirl.  However, I just taste tested one with a blackberry on top.  Yum!  These cupcakes and frosting are both favorite recipes that I will use for years to come. 
Cupcakes for friends

I cut out Selena Mermaid from the Wee Wonderfuls book last night.  This will be the third, and I think, easiest project that I have made from the book for Karlie.  Bonus, I didn't even have to buy any fabric for this project.  There are only four pattern pieces.  I enlarged the pattern 1 1/2 times to give her a little more impact.  If you don't already have this book and you like to sew for kids, you should definitely get it.  The book, as well as the projects make great gifts. 
Selena mermaid

I learned a new term today from my mom (not sure where she got it).  Craft-aster.  That's what my house is.  A disaster created as a result of crafting.  My dining room is definitely a craft-aster, and the rest of my house has been neglected lately as well.  I want to decorate for Christmas, but with the mess on the craft table aka dining table there seems to be no point.  It will probably be one of those last minute, friends are coming over lets pull out some decorations type of things that I have done the past few years.

I also want to do my usual Christmas cookie baking with mom, but my schedule isn't looking too good for the coming weeks.  We shall see.
Craft-aster dining room

The Christmas Crafting will continue. I'm considering something like Anna Maria's Figure 8 scarf for gifts. What are you making for gifts? Are you buying handmade this year?

I'm still making and selling my jewelry too, by the way.
Enjoy your weekend!
xoxo
Ashley

Friday, December 9, 2011

Crafty

These colors are making me smile.
More yarn dyeing and yarn drying.
Prewashed fabrics, ready for crafting.
I added the Selena Mermaid doll from Wee Wonderfuls to my to-make list for Karlie.

Christmas crafting

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Lovely Day

Yesterday was lovely.
One of my birthday requests was to go fabric shopping in Dallas with mom.
We do it a couple of times a year together, hitting up the outlets on Harry Hines and a new favorite City Craft.
We were up early to take my brother to the airport. It is unusually cold for early December in Texas.

Sunrise through icy car windows.
Sunrise through icy windows

Mom bought me these gorgeous fabrics at one of the outlets.
Soft, soft cottons and courduroys for no more than $4 per yard.  Score!
New fabric

I found this Kokka fabric at City Craft for Karlie's "Pack Pack" which will be made from this Made by Rae pattern.  I am also thinking of making her a hooded cape.  Maybe with this pattern?  Though I'm having trouble with their website when trying to purchase it.  I love making things for Karlie!
Christmas crafting

Frank and I enjoyed a wonderful performance by one of my favorite bands My Morning Jacket.
It was awesome!
I know that my concert photos always look the same.  It's all lights and you can't see the band.
I still love them though.
My morning jacket

I love the holiday season but it seems more overwhelming than usual this year.
As always, I'm asking myself, why didn't I start crafting gifts months ago?
There will be crafting.  There will be baking.  There will be time with wonderful loved ones.
I'm trying not to panic, not to pressure myself to make everything and to just slow down and enjoy the season day by day.
Aaaaaaaah, off to craft, decorate, shop, make lists, visit loved ones, and on and on.
xoxo
Ashley

Monday, December 5, 2011

Some Color for a Gray Day

It has been a gray and rainy few days and is supposed to continue like this for a few more.
I'm dyeing Kool Aid Yarn and crocheting.
The colors are helping to brighten my days.

Some details of my mom's fiber work.   These colors make me happy too.
She needle felts and stitches scraps of fabrics to create new pieces of fiber.
Felted fiber pouch

Felted fiber pouch

Felted fiber pouch

Kool Aid Yarn.  You can see how dark it is in here from these pictures.
Kook aid yarn

Kool aid yarn

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Fall Palette

Remember this? The Colette Fall Palette challenge that I started.

Fall Palette

I had a few weeks of sewing obsession, completing three garments that don't fit perfectly.
A pair of pants that I muslined and once completed there was extra fabric under the but?  Not cool
A top that I LOVE but the neckline is too wide and too low.
Another top that I kind of love but isn't constructed too well, my first time sewing with organza.
And a half completed Black Chambray Shirt Dress which I really do want to finish.

Anyways, I was looking at my closet and realizing that I am wearing my fall Palette colors and loving them.  Some I was wearing already, some I have added since creating my Palette. 
My closet

My sewing mess stayed out for several weeks earlier this fall and then got packed away when company was coming.  I have a small sewing table in my room with bad lighting.  A big dining room table with slightly better lighting is where I like to sew.  I pulled out my machine last night and finally fixed this skirt.  I will attempt to take some modeled photos of all these pieces soon so you can see what I'm talking about.

Have a mentioned what a bad shopper I am?  I think I talked about this before.  I have good taste, I like fine fabrics (or at least natural fibers) but I'm cheap.  Those things don't go hand in hand.  So I have been thrift shopping more.  Thrift shopping requires a big time investment, and sometimes the clothes also need to be altered, more time there.  But it's cheap and finding treasures is a fun.

I added my Aquarium Grass Earrings to my Etsy shop last night and plan to add more pieces soon. 

I'm not feeling the Christmas spirit at all, are you?  Maybe decorating would help.
I like to make gifts but am not sure how much of that I will have time for this year.
I have ideas though.  I need to make a list.  Lists always help me get my act together.