Monday, November 30, 2009

Would you believe I took almost 900 pictures this past week? Yikes! My new camera lens came in just in time for Thanksgiving so I've had fun learning how to use it. These are just a few of my favorites from the holiday weekend.

Anna Cate showing Caroline how to sit "lady like" for the pictures.

Anna Cate enjoyed picking camellias in Grandaddy's yard.


My sisters and I took the girls outside before lunch on Thursday to try to get a Christmas card picture. Needless to say, we didn't get one. It is next to impossible to snap a picture of both of them looking at the camera and smiling at the same time. We did happen to get some cute candid shots with everybody.







Caroline's famous "hairy eyeball" stare ;)




Bath time

"It's my party and I'll cry if I want to"

We celebrated Caroline turning six months old on Sunday. The girls and I made some cute things for her "party" that I plan on sharing (hopefully tomorrow)!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey in the Straw Wreath

My sewing room has been transformed into Santa's workshop and is a complete and total disaster area right now! I've been busy busy busy getting ready for Christmas. And because so many of you who read this blog are on my Christmas list and I can't share any of those projects right now, I thought I'd pop in to share this quick project I finished earlier in the week.

We were at an oyster roast this weekend with our family friends, the Talberts. Mr. Jim, who is one of the most dedicated sportsman I know, asked my sister if she needed any turkey feathers for a Thanksgiving project for her class. I piped up and said I'd like a few. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone (pun intended): decorate for Thanksgiving and pay homage to the hunter who lives in our house. ( I still feel a little guilty about not letting him hang the stuffed Turkey he killed in our house. I said a little. )

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'd like to present to you our Turkey in the Straw wreath.

Straw wreath from Goodwill, 50 turkey feathers, and about an hour of spare time is all you'll need.

Start stuffing the feathers into the wreath, making sure that they are all curving the same way.

Tie a ribbon around the top and find a spot to hang your new wreath!


With the left over feathers, Anna Cate enjoyed a little history lesson on how people used to write before the invention of the ball point pen. ;)

Hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fun Friday Finds

Say that three times fast! Fun Friday Finds. Fun Friday Finds. Fun Friday Finds.

Rebecca left a comment earlier this week asking if I knew of any tutorials on making fabric party hats. Although I never have seen one, her question got my wheels turning on how you could make them.

You know, Caroline will be turning 6 months old next week and we celebrated Anna Cate's 6 month milestone with a birthday cake, so I'm sure we will do the same thing this time around. I thought I'd try my hand at making one for her to wear while she digs into her half birthday cake, but stuff kept coming up during the week and I haven't had a chance to make one yet.

**Rebecca, I did find this tutorial for making a party hat from felt. It is really cute, but I like the fabric ruffled ones the best. **

While browsing crafty blogs looking for a party hat tutorial, I also stumbled across this lovely lady at The Polka Dot Chair, who so graciously shares her skirt tutorials for free! Ideas for the girls spring wardrobes are already swirling through my head!

And check out this colorful advent calendar. The tutorial for it is here and if I have time, I'd love to make one before December gets here.

My goal is to be done with my Christmas shopping by Thanksgivig so that I can enjoy the entire month doing fun things with the girls. I would love to have a little activity or outing planned for each day and have it tucked inside the corresponding envelope for Anna Cate to open each morning. Ambitious, I know...we'll see if it happens. ;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Everyday Ordinary

Is it Wednesday already? Both girls are napping (well Caroline is napping and Anna Cate is singing in her bed) but they are both somewhat quiet and resting. Has anybody else's 2 year old already given up their nap? I should take this rare opportunity to catch a little catnap myself, but instead I'll share some of what we've been up to the past several days.


Anna Cate got this bike trailer for her birthday this year. Ever since May she has been asking when Caroline can ride with her and we decided to try it out this week. Anna Cate was as excited as could be, but Caroline wasn't so sure at first. Once we started riding she seemed to enjoy it. Oh these two!


I also grabbed a few extra packs of the puppets I found at Target last week and let Anna Cate work on the frog and pig yesterday afternoon. We have just started allowing her to use scissors and glue so she was pumped to put all of her big girl skills to the test.



"Little pig, little pig, let me come in."
"Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin!"


Hannah came to town on Monday for a much needed visit. It was so good to see her, James, and her cute baby bump. We tried to get James and Caroline to swing together but somebody wasn't so sure about it. Just look at her expression! These two are exactly one year apart. Yep! They share the same birthday. All four of our kiddos: Andie (Baylis's little girl), James, Caroline, and Anna Cate all have May birthdays within 2 weeks of each other. We enjoyed seeing you both and hope you didn't leave with any of our germs!

And before I go, let me leave you with the best recipe for Shrimp and Grits. It is one of our favorite dishes to fix during cooler weather and this recipe is the closest one we have found that tastes like the dish we use to order at our favorite restaurant when we lived in Savannah.

My mom found the recipe in one of her magazines (Charleston Magazine, perhaps?), but I can't remember which.

Bar Americain's Gulf Shrimp and Grits
Serves 4

You'll need:
8 strips of bacon
2 Tbs. olive oil
20 large shrimp (peeled)
3 cloves of garlic minced
3 green onions, chopped

It is a fast and easy recipe. Just fry up your bacon and set aside to cool. Leave the bacon grease in the pan and add the olive oil and garlic. Make sure your shrimp have been seasoned with salt and pepper.

On medium heat, saute your shrimp until they are pink. This takes about 4 minutes and don't overcook them or they'll be rubbery!

Serve over your favorite grits* and garnish with the bacon and green onions. (we also drizzle some of the oil in the pan over the dish)

*For our grits, I always make them with chicken stock and add in about 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese when they are done.

It's sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Puppet Show and a Science Lesson

We had another lazy weekend as our house was again plagued by more sneezes and sniffles. It seems we just can't seem to shake whatever bug has been lingering around the past couple of weeks.

Anna Cate and I did find time to finish up her friend Reece's birthday present. I got the idea from my sister, who made an awesome puppet theatre for her classroom several weeks ago. She brought it over to show Anna Cate, who loved putting on her own puppet show with her stuffed animals. (In fact, I think she is getting one herself for Christmas). ;)


I found this adorable puppet kit at Target which includes the materials for a lion, pig, and frog. A quick trip to Hobby Lobby for some red fabric and a pair of suspension curtain rods from Wal-Mart and ta da! a portable puppet theatre that fits in any door or hallway.

I'll be the first to admit that I totally stink at picking out fun boy presents, but I'm hoping this will be something Reece and his sister can enjoy playing with together. What a great way to encourage imaginative play! (psst...Stephanie, do you think Ian would like something like this for Christmas?)

Sunday afternoon we did make it over to Miep and Boula's house to enjoy some fresh air and pick up the pecans that have been falling in their yard. Our trip turned into a little science lesson as there were so many interesting things to see and explore!

Anna Cate, Miep, and Boula looked for pecans...

...while this little monkey sat on her blanket and supervised...

...and this goofball enjoyed lounging in the gator.

Boula showing Anna Cate how to look for pecans.

Anna Cate showing Caroline what a pecan looks like.

We also walked up to the garden to check on the broccoli and turnip green's that Boula has planted for the fall. Anna Cate and I got to see how broccoli grows. A lot different than how you see it in the grocery store!

And we found deer tracks in the garden! It seems the deer are enjoying helping themselves to the turnip greens.


What a relaxing way to end the weekend. Now we are off to start another busy week!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Because you asked...

Several of you have either left comments or sent e-mails with questions about my camera and/or sewing machine, so instead of writing the same e-mail to several different people, I thought it would be easiest to combine them in one post for anyone who is interested.
What camera do you have?

A Nikon D80. Will surprised me with it last year for Christmas and I. LOVE. IT. I'm talking a total shock, never even mentioned that I wanted one to a soul, don't know what made him think to get it for me, totally caught off guard surprise. I'm way to frugal to have ever considered actually buying one myself, but I'm so so glad he did! He purchased the kit lens with it which is what we have been using this past year. I've been squirreling my doll money away saving up for a new lens and just purchased a 50mm f/1.8D lens on Amazon that I'm anxiously waiting to be delivered.

What resources have you used to help you learn how to use your camera?
Let me just preface this answer by saying that I am not the type of person who can sit down and read a manual. I get too confused trying to make sense of what a book is saying and I learn best when somebody can use practical examples to teach me something new. I've found a couple of blogs that do a great job explaining the ins and outs for those who are interested in learning how to take better pictures.

The first one is this post by Darby at Fly Through Our Window. She invited a professional photographer to answer her reader's questions and it gives you a great basic overview if you're like me and have no experience what-so-ever with the study of photography.

The other blog that I've found very helpful is Ashley Ann Photography. She is a spunky mother of four who also teaches photography classes. Her blog is really helpful because she shares all kinds of great tips on how to take better photos, from how to adjust your manuals settings, to the use of good lighting, and how to scout out great locations for a photo shoot.

**Anybody else have any great sources for learning how to use your DSLR? Please share because I'd love to know more!**

What program do you use to edit your photos with?
I use iPhoto that came with our Mac computer, but I also use the free editing software available with Flickr and Picnik.

Still with me? Ok great, now onto the sewing questions...

I'm asking for a sewing machine for Christmas, do you mind sharing with me what kind you use?
Ha! Do you really want me to answer that question? It is the Singer Simple from Wal-mart. I kid you not. I can't find my exact machine online, but this one is very close. I know Wal-mart still has mine in the stores and have seen it recently for $89.00.

I know Singers aren't top of the line, but when my grandmother's machine died on me several years ago, I needed something asap and didn't have any money saved up for a nice one. I used some of my Christmas money to get a "temporary" machine and here we are three years later and she's still singing away! I also wanted something that I could let Anna Cate learn to sew on when she is old enough without worrying that she would break my expensive machine. I think I would have sewed more as a young girl if I wasn't always nervous about breaking my mom's nice sewing machine.

I will say this, if you are just learning in to sew and aren't sure if it is a hobby you will stick with, I would HIGHLY SUGGEST buying something like the Singer Simple. It is well made and very easy to use. It has all of the stitches and functions that you could need as a beginner sewer and even sews button holes for you. It not only comes with an easy-to-follow manual (with pictures!) but also a dvd that you can pop into your computer and it will demonstrate for you how to thread the machine, sew button holes, etc. I've made countless numbers of dolls, pillows, curtains, clothes for Anna Cate, all with this machine and I have no complaints. I know I'll get something nicer one day, but until she gives me a problem, I'm perfectly happy using my little Singer Simple. :)

Did you take sewing lessons and/or who would you recommend?

No, I have never taken lessons, other than from my mom. I'm more of a "learn as you go" kinda gal and I get flustered following directions and patterns. I'd rather just make mine up as I go. That being said, I think it would be totally worth it to invest in lessons if you don't have someone who already knows what they are doing to help you out.

However, that can get really expensive. I'm actually considering putting together some kind of sewing basics class for those who are interested (and local!) More on this to come, but I'm thinking they will start in January after the holidays are over.

Are you going to have another craft day and can I come to the next one?
YES and YES! I'm hoping to make it a monthly deal and anybody is welcome to join us! I've added those of you who have already sent me e-mails inquiring if/when we will have another craft day to my e-mail list, but the next one will most likely be the first Thursday in December so if you are interested, please let me know. We'd love you have you join us! :)

I hope that answers all of your questions. If there is something I left out, please don't hesitate to ask!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just for fun

The girls were sick this weekend so our fun trip to Clemson for the FSU game (GO TIGERS!) was cancelled. Instead, we had a pretty uneventful weekend dealing with runny noses.

I've been working on learning how to shoot in manual with my camera and I'm finally getting some decent pictures. Normally when I take my camera off of the auto setting, all I get is either grainy photos or just a black picture. So I'm excited to finally be learning how to properly use my camera! :) These were several of my favorites from this weekend.

No bibs for this little lady. She is such a messy eater that I have to totally drape her with a kitchen towel. Love those little piggies sticking out!



Anna Cate "swimming like a mermaid." She loves bath time and is convinced wearing this head band in the bath transforms her into a mermaid.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Crafty Chick Party

Happy Friday to you!

In the spirit of practicing hospitality, a friend and I organized a little crafting party for our girlfriends yesterday morning. Oh what fun!

Everybody brought a shirt or onesie and we spent the morning appliqueing turkeys, owls, trains, and trucks.


We had such a good time that we might just start making this a monthly get-together. Although next time we may try having it in the evening and making something a little less involved. There were five babies and two toddlers in the mix so it was difficult to manage the little ones and craft at the same time.

I was going to post a tutorial on how to applique, but this one from Martha Stewart is great and easy to follow. Gather all of your fabric scraps, get together with your girlfriends and have a fun making your own customized appliques! :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ruffle Bottom Onesie Tutorial


How stinkin' cute are those chunky little legs and the ruffles on that bottom? I've been wanting join the ruffle craze and make something I saw on this blog a while back. Love her, by the way. Ashley Ann's blog is one of my favorites to look at. Check her out if you want to learn great photography tips and fun & creative DIY projects.

Sadly, I do not have access to a serger, so I tried it using pinking shears instead. What are pinking shears you ask?

These are pinking shears. They are supposed to help prevent fabric from fraying and I borrowed them from my mother. If you do not have a mother with pinking shears, I'm sure you can find them at any fabric or craft store. Thanks mom!


Step 1: Cut three strips of fabric 3" x 15"
(I'm guesstimating here. Didn't measure when I was sewing, but I basically made the strips 2.5 times longer than the width of the bottom of the onesie.)

Step 2: Using the largest stitch on your machine, sew down the middle of each strip of fabric. Then gather each strip until it is the exact length from one side of the onesie to the other. Tie off the ends of thread so the ruffle doesn't come out.

Step 3: Sew the first ruffle onto the back of the onesie and remember to change your stitch length back to normal!

Step 4: Sew the other two ruffles on, each one a little lower than the first.

You are done!
These would make such fun baby shower gifts. I have no idea how the ruffles will hold up in the wash, but I'll be sure to let you know. And I just couldn't resist trying out this tutorial for some baby leg warmers. I think this was the simplest thing I've ever sewn. It took about 2 1/2 minutes to make a set. All I had were these hot pink socks, but now that I know how easy they are to make, I'm on the hunt for some cuter designs!! These will be great to cover those chunky legs this winter. ;)

On another crafty note, I regret to inform you that I'm no longer taking orders for dolls for Christmas. This really saddens me because I can't stand to tell someone "no" when they inform me of how much their daughter/niece/girlfriend/etc. loves their doll and want to purchase another one for a gift.

It brings me joy to hear how much these little girlies are loved because I think about the person I'm making them for when I'm stitching them together. However, I just dropped off the last order at the post office this morning and realized I'm nuts to try to continue making them right now while trying to prepare for our holiday festivities and accomplish all of the gifts I need to make on my Christmas list and stay a sane, fun, and happy wife & mama. However, I have re-stocked the shop with patterns and dolls kits for those who are interested in making their own for the holidays. You can e-mail me or click on the shop link I've put on on the side bar of the blog to purchase one.

I've got a busy day planned of getting ready for what I hope will be a super fun party on Thursday morning. Hopefully I will have some pictures to share!