Monday, February 24, 2014

A new bird in the flock!

As you can see in this post Classroom Theme I decorated my classroom this year with owls.  I like having a theme each year.  It provides the opportunity to create some great resources and do some fun projects.

One of the projects that went along with my owl theme was searching for all different kinds of owls and owl things to put on my back counter.  I had a great time sifting through knick knack tables at garage sales and thrift stores.  Searching the clearance isles at my favorite stores for any unique owl figures.  I managed to create a great display on my back counter and add few to my collection at home. 

Since the beginning of the school year several teachers have commented on how "cute" my collection is and how festive it makes the computer lab.  Then the other day a first grade teacher surprised me with a new owl to add to the group.

Here is her picture: (the owl not the teacher)

She fits right in with her bright eyes.

The teacher told me she saw it in the store and it was calling to be added to my classroom.  I always find it a great blessing when others enjoy things I am interested in and want to join in the fun.  Now each time I look at this new addition it brings a smile to my face and my heart.  Not only that someone was thinking of me, but what I do is enjoyed by others.

So, the next time you are walking down an isle at your favorite store and see something that reminds you of a friend or coworker, put it in your basket.  It will not only bless the recipient it will bless you as well.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Quick and Easy Baby Quilt

At our church we have a lovely quilt group and I am privileged to be a member.  One of our ministries is to make baby quilts for a local pregnancy center.  Each expectant mother who uses the centers services can pick out a quilt for her baby.  It is a wonderful way to show God's love to the expectant mother and literally wrap His love around their newborn baby.

Since our group provides over 100 quilts a year we are always looking for quick and easy patterns.  I found this pattern on Missouri Star Quilting.  Jenny has a great video tutorial that shows you step by step how to make this pattern.  If you have not watched any of the Missouri Star Quilt YouTube videos check them out.  They have great ideas and the videos make it easy to follow.

Here is the quilt I made using the Double Slice Layer Cake pattern.

A friend gave me the fabrics she had in her stash.  They were cut into layer cake size blocks (10 x 10).  The fabrics were a selection of library prints.  Since I used to work in the school library she thought I might enjoy making a quilt from the fabrics.  She was right.  Using the above pattern I was able to complete this quilt top in one evening at quilt group.  It only took about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.  The border fabrics I selected from our fabric collection at church.

It is always fun to finish a new baby quilt for the ministry.  I just imagine an expectant mother who is so unsure of the future excited to select a quilt.  My prayer is each time the quilt is used she is reminded that God loves her and her baby.

If you are a quilter and looking for a way to share your love for quilting and help those in your community search for a group you can join.  I know in our town the local quilt guild makes baby quilts for the children's hospital.  Another church in our community makes them for a homeless shelter.  If you begin to ask around I am sure you can fin a place to share your talents in your community.  And, if you can't find one there is nothing to stop you from creating your own group.


Monday, February 17, 2014

One Proud Mom!

As I posted previously our son made the Texas 4A All State Band this year.  This weekend we traveled to San Antonio to see his concert and attend the TMEA convention.  It was a great weekend.  We had a good time and the concert was fabulous. 

We have attended many concerts for middle and high school over the last few years but this one was by far the best.  I know the caliber of student on the stage is the highest but it was hard to believe that they were in high school.  And that they only had two and a half days of rehearsal together.  To take 200+ students from all over the state of Texas and in such a short time prepare a concert was  something to behold.  The music was beautiful, incredibly difficult and fun to watch and listen to. 

I loved the fact that the conductor was having as much fun as the students at the concert.  His love for music inspired this band to play to greater heights.  We have always encouraged our children to use the gifts God has given them to their best ability.  This weekend was definitely one of our sons best efforts. 

Here are a few pictures from our incredible weekend.

One proud family after the concert.

The Band.  Yes, the conductor has on a very large cowboy hat.  It was a gift from the students in the band. (Sorry it is blurry - we were in the balcony) 

Our son and the conductor, who was a very talented and gracious gentleman.  He endured a long line of students and parents and continued to smile for each and every picture.

Our son and his band directors.  He would not have been able to become the percussionist he is today if it was not for the dedication of these fine musicians.

Having a well deserved dinner on the River Walk.  Our son is more interested in the duck that is walking beside them than taking a good picture for Mom.  But at least I got a great smile!
We have been blessed with two of the best kids in the world.  I encourage you to tell your kids each and every day how much you love them and how proud you are of each and every accomplishment in their lives.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Living Room Decor

Each year when I take down my Christmas decorations I change my living room to reflect the winter season.  Usually when I change the décor the only snow we see is on our mantel and around the room.  This year in our part of Texas we have had a lot of snow (well, for us anyway).  Even as I am preparing this post I keep checking the local news to see if the schools will be closed tomorrow due to bad weather. 

My winter theme is a mix of blues and greens with snowflakes and snowmen dotted throughout.  Below are some pictures.

This is my mantel.  (Sorry for the glare from the lights)
A vintage cigarette case opened becomes the backdrop for a snowflake ornament,
three glass drawer pulls and the a glittered Joy in silver.

At each end are small vignettes using my white birdhouses, a snowflake tree topper, 
metal cake mold, snowman and joy ornaments and picture frames.

This vignette has a simple silver vase with glittered snowflakes, an oil lamp,
bird house, ornaments and frame.  The frames stay on my mantel year round.  They have clear glass in them which makes it easy to attach items.  Look at my Fall mantel with leaves attached.

This is on top of my entertainment center.  I used primarily white and blue for this setting.

An up close look at the glittered Joy ornaments.  These were on clearance after Christmas
one year and I thought they were the perfect sentiment for a New Year!

The small blue plate is from a child's tea set.  On top is a silver piece from a candle set.  The glass jar in the back is filled with chandelier crystals.

This is a several of my favorite pieces.  The wooden birdhouse is loved for the carving, the small angel is made from painters canvas and the larger angel was a gift from a dear friend.  These items make me smile each time I look at them.  The funny looking ceramic piece is a pot foot turned upside down.  I have several of these in different colors and they make great filler pieces for small vignettes around the room when not in use under a potted plant.

This vase is the same one from the previous post Christmas Countdown - 10 days left!.  I turned the vase around backwards and added the Joy ornament.
Changing out just a few areas of your décor each season can give a room a whole new look and feel.  Each season I also change the quilt that is on the back of my couch and the cover for my ottoman to set the color scheme.  Post links below to show off your winter décor and share your creative ideas.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Quick and Easy Pillows

Pillows on the couch and in the chairs are a necessity in our home.  We are a family who uses our living room to it's fullest potential.  I needed pillows that were pretty, extremely functional, quick and inexpensive to make.  An unlikely item fit this criteria nicely.

Several years ago I came across a set of placemats that I thought were beautiful and they were on clearance for $1.00 each.  I do not use placemats on my table very often so I as I stood there drooling over my find I kept thinking I wish these were pillows.  They were the perfect mix of colors and had a small lace detail, who could ask for more.  That's when the pink lemonade idea popped into my head.  I could make these into pillows.

My first thought was to sew a piece to the back but that sounded like a lot of work and would make the pillows smaller.  As I began to examine the placemat I noticed that the back was separate piece of fabric and only top stitched around the outside edge.  So, if I opened up the top stitching and the side seam I would have an opening that would allow the placemat to be "stuffed".  In the basket they went.  I used those "placemat pillows" for several years before they finally wore out.  I would unstuff them each year, put them through the wash and re-stuff them.  Since my first encounter with those placemats I have made several sets for different seasons.

When I was Christmas shopping this year I came across a new set, yes on clearance.  They were green but had snowflakes on them.  I thought they would coordinate nicely with my snowflake theme in January and February in my green chairs.

Below are some before and after pictures.

The partridge bird is the front of the placemat and the snowflakes are on the back.

The pillows turned out very nice.

I use them more on the snowflake side right now, but either side would work.
Here are the simple steps to creating a Placemat Pillow
Take your placemat making sure that the back is loose from the front fabric.  If there is any stitching in the middle of the placemat this process will not work.  Open a small section of seam on the side of the placemat.
Side opened about 3 inches

I opened mine where the tag was so I could remove it easily.
Once you have opened the side seam stuff your pillow with polyfil.  Be sure to push the filling into the corners.  When filled to the desired plumpness (is that even a word?) hand stitch the seam back together. 
After you make a set of these pillows you will never look at placemats the same again.  I do sometimes get funny looks in the store when I am pulling the placemats apart to see if the backs are a separate piece of fabric.  But those funny looks don't discourage me from seeking out the perfect placemat for a new set of pillows. 

Check out this link party at Chic on a Shoestring

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Scarf Crazy - Fun and Funky!

I know I have had several posts lately about making different types of scarves.  But, they are so popular and I am always looking for new ideas.  I hope you will indulge me one more time. 

Today's scarf is fun and funky.  It is made from all of the leftover scraps of the tshirt scarves I made for my daughter.  As I have mentioned in the past I have been fortunate to find at my local thrift store a multitude of tie dye tshirts for about 50 cents each.  My daughter loves the scarves that are like the one below and I have made her several.

It is made from 1/2" strips cut and stretched.  Then they are tied at the top.
This type of scarf is easy to make and with the tie dye shirts they come out really pretty with the mix of colors.  But there are always left over pieces of shirt.  And as you know I can't stand to throw away ANY scraps.

So, I started looking around for a way to use up all these lovely scraps.  I came across this tutorial for making a fringe tshirt boa scarf.  These are really cut but I did not have enough to make a long scarf.  Here is my version.

Look at that smile.  Isn't that scarf funky!
I used the basic concepts of the above tutorial with a few exceptions.  When tying my strips to the center piece I alternated the direction of my knots.  This way the fringe appears to be fuller. 
This is the top half of one shirt left from the other scarves I made.

I divided my shirts into piles of strips and put them on the center strip in the same order on each side.  (If you look closely you can see the center strip in the bottom right.  It is the one with the white pattern on the edge)
Dividing my strips into stacks made sure that I didn't put all of one color together.
I also left about 6 - 8 inces of the enter piece with no strips attached on each end.  This allows the scarf to be easily tied and turned into an infinity type scarf (like she is wearing it above).  Left untied the ends just fill into the fringe. 
My daughter loved the bright color mix and I was able to use up almost every scrap piece.  I did have a few small pieces left that I am going to use to make a flower pin to coordinate with her other scarves.
This type of scarf lends itself to a more casual, fun and funky look but is a great scrap buster.  I would love to hear about your adventures in using up scraps from scarves you make or any other items.  Leave a comment below and share with everyone.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Baby Quilts

For Christmas I had an order for two baby quilts for our neighbors daughters.  They are both pregnant with girls and due within a few weeks of each other.  Boy is she going to have her hands full with two new grandbabies at the same time.  I am sure there is enough love for both.

She wanted bright fun colors for the quilts.  So, I used two jelly rolls that I had in my stash and was waiting for the perfect projects.  Since I only had a little over a week to complete and deliver both quilts I selected very simple patterns. 

The first quilt was a selection of bright pinks, greens, yellows, oranges and blues.  I used one of my favorite patterns - the keyhole block.  This pattern is simple, doesn't require a lot of cutting or seam matching.  I also love the way just changing the fabrics and layout of the blocks make each quilt unique.  For more keyhole block quilts check out these posts.  Scotty Dog Quilt and The Gift.

Take a look at the latest variation of the keyhole pattern.

It turned out really cute.  (The tall helper in the back is my son.)

I used six rows with 4 1/2 blocks in each row.  (My son looks like an evil Kilroy)

I had a few blocks left, so I pieced the back and used them in the middle.
Piecing the back of a quilt and adding a small detail gives you two quilts in one.

Due to the time crunch I quilted in straight lines 1/4" from each seam.
This quilt was given to the youngest daughter.  I hope her new baby will have lots of fun playing on this quilt and being wrapped up in the warmth that only a quilt can provide.
For the second quilt I used a black, grey and yellow jelly roll.  The pattern I used was my variation of the subway tile blocks.  I have seen various subway block patterns and wanted to use it someday.  Well this project provided that day. 
Here is my variation of the subway block.
Since these fabrics were simple I added the borders to give the quilt a little more punch.  (Don't you love the funny face my son is making.  I was thankful he was willing to be my quilt holder.)

Once again I had a few pieces left and did a pieced
back allowing for two quilts in one.

I quilted 1/4' from each seam in the middle of the quilt in straight rows. 
Then 1/4" from each border seam around the two borders. 
This quilt was given to the oldest daughter and she loved it.  I was able to see her on Christmas day at her Mom's house.  It is hard to believe that both of these girls are grown and going to have their own children.  It just seems like yesterday we were all moving into our houses and they were playing in the yard.
Baby quilts are always fun to me.  I love the fact that you get to quilt #1 but they come together so quickly.  I have been able to do so many more quilts and patterns.  As usual though, I have many more patterns I would love to try.

Monday, February 3, 2014

New Scarves - Superbowl Fun!

Yesterday before I started cooking all of our Superbowl snacks I made a couple of new scarves.  They are made from looping yarn and stitching down the middle.

I made some other scarves from yarn in the past (see Christmas Countdown - 22 days left) but I liked the way this style draped.  I first saw this style on Sugar Bee Crafts.  She has a great tutorial with lots of pictures and even a video.  It was easy to follow her directions.

Here are my creations:

The blue one is short due to the fact that I only had about half a skein of yarn.

The lovely model is my daughter.  Smile!

The pink one is really long so I doubled it and then wrapped it around her neck.
I got a little carried away making loops.
I used about 2/3 of a full skein on the pink one.

Aren't these fun!

You make the loops and zig zag down the middle.

I used this variegated thread with fun bright colors on the pink scarf.

This is all of the blue yarn I had.  A little less than half a skein.

I used this variegated thread on the blue scarf. 
I love it when you come across something fun and functional.  These only took about and hour to make both scarves.  I might have to hunt the blue one down in my daughter's closet.  Her comment was this looks really good with my shirt mom.  Usually that is code for I think I will "borrow" this one.
Well I hope your team won the Superbowl but if not.  You can always spend your time crafting up something fun.