Archive | December, 2011

Christmas at The White House

29 Dec

With 8 grandparents and plenty of great aunts, uncles, and cousins, there’s lots of family for us to try and see on Christmas.  Since we moved to our current home, two+ years ago, we have all the grandparents come to us and it makes for a fabulous day!

It starts at 7am when my mother and step father arrive.  And this year we had the pleasure of having my sister’s boyfriend join us as well!  She sleeps here in Isabelle’s bed on Christmas eve.

We opened presents, enjoyed a nice breakfast and then they went home to get ready for the rest of the day.  We cleaned up, got food ready and rested for a bit before the next group arrived.

From about 11:30 til 4:30 we hosted Colin’s mom, dad, step-dad, step-mom, and brother and my dad, step-mom and step- sister.  The girls opened more presents than should be legally allowed and basked in the attention that was heaped upon them from every direction.

Then we cleaned up, and headed out to Colin’s brothers house, my mom’s sister’s house and my dad’s sister’s house.  Lelia passed out on the way to my mom’s sister’s and remained asleep as we carted her in and laid her on the couch, socialized, picked her back up, and drove to my other aunt’s, where she slept on her couch until we left at around 10pm.

It took all of Monday and part of Tuesday for us all to recover from the festivities.

It truly is my most favorite time of the year and I love every last second of Christmas day. However, come December 26th, the tree is too big, the lights too bright and the Christmas music is more than I can bear to hear. So today, I de-Christmasized our home and am enjoying the much less cluttered feeling that a lack of garlands dripping from every surface brings!

Ready to ring in the new year and get to work on my resolution: To sew most of my girls wardrobe and to make a good portion of mine as well! Already completed 2 coats for me and a dress for Lelia!



I love {LBG Studio} Patterns and Tutorials!

22 Dec

The fabric I ordered from arrived the other day and I was anxious to knock out a couple of the projects I had planned.  One was the {LBG Studios} Convertible Clutch / 2 in 1 bag pattern and the other was a revised wallet based off of the {LBG Studios} Organizer Wallet which I had used to make my little Christmas clutch.

I decided that I would sew the clutch first, because I thought I might learn a thing or two that I could apply to the wallet. The pattern and instructions were spot on! I installed a magnetic clasp for the first time and really enjoyed working on the project.  Sadly, I don’t love the way the copper pleather looks on the finished clutch, but that just means that I’ll be sure and make another clutch in the near future!

{LBG Studios} Clutch standing

I love, love, love, the sturdiness of the handle, and the way in which it was attached to the bag….brilliant! When all was said and done the handle has about 4 layers of fusible interfacing and 4 layers of fabric, making it incredibly sturdy.

{LBG Studios} Convertible Clutch handle

The inside called for a pocket and the insertion of a magnetic snap.  Who knew that adding a snap would be so darn easy!!! Seriously simple.

Inside of the {LBG Studios} Convertible Clutch


Folded {LBG Studios} Clutch


As you can see in the above photo, I need some practice with closing up the openings left for turning projects right side out…..

{LBG Studios} wallet inside of clutch

This bag had four layers to it: Outside, Inside, lining and facing.  Based on the finished product, I decided to go with 4 layers for the wallet, but to switch it up, outside, inside, and face both the outside and inside layers.  The pockets got 2 inside fabric layers and 1 piece of facing. I used 9″ as the width and 10″ as the height of the open wallet before sewing. Finished it’s about 8.5″ by 10.5″ finished.

closed wallet

I used this tutorial to figure out how to add in my zipper, and like every other sewing task of which I’ve been afraid, it’s not nearly as scary as it would seem!

Open wallet, everything in it's place

I liked the overall size of my Christmas wallet and while I had originally thought I would make a trifold to accomodate the zipper, I realized that I could just turn the outside of the iphone pocket into the zipper compartment.

Everything peaking out from it's hiding place

The other change that I made, based on my Christmas wallet, was that I decided there was enough room for 3 vertical card slots, instead of two, and that I wanted the curved pocket to also have compartments.  Now my credit cards fit in the back and my money, business cards, and license sit nicely in the front.

I love how much room there is for my receipt stash and I love the way it feels size and weight wise in my hand when I carry only the wallet.

I can’t wait to use both for Christmas, and I can’t wait to start on my next project! But that will have to wait until after Christmas.



{LBG Studios} Clutch and Wallet


Recipe | Beef Stew

22 Dec

I am constantly trying to find the perfect beef stew recipe and I usually end up winging it based on several recipes.  This was the case yesterday.  I really liked the results so I’m writing this recipe down for future reference!


  • 4-5 slices thick cut bacon
  • 1lb-1.5lbs top round roast
  • 1lb- 1.5lbs tenderloin
  • head of garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced,
  • 1lb carrots, cut into bit sized pieces
  • 1 box mini baking potatoes, quartered
  • 1 750ml bottle red wine
  • 1 box Progresso beef stock
  • 2-3 tblspns tomato paste
  • 1.5 tspns thyme
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off the top off the garlic head, drizzle some EVOO on top, wrap up in tin foil and roast for 30 minutes.

Cut up bacon slices into bite size pieces and fry, use slotted spoon to remove from dutch oven and drain.

Cut beef into 1/2″ square pieces and toss with salt and pepper.  Brown in bacon fat.  Remove from pan.  Add some EVOO to pan and sauté onions, celery and carrot, until onions are translucent.

Remove garlic from skins and add to veggies, saute an additional couple minutes.  Turn oven down to 250 degrees

Add potatoes, beef and bacon to pan and pour in the red wine and beef stock.  Add thyme and tomato paste as well.  Roast in oven for an hour and forty minutes.

Heat on stove until boiling and add barley.  Cover, cook for 40 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread!

Beef and Barley Stew



Christmas Baby Boy

22 Dec

My good friend had her third baby and second son on Tuesday, so I went to the hospital to meet him yesterday.  I didn’t want to go empty handed, and I wanted to make him something, as I had done for my other two girlfriends, sweet babies.  This girlfriend, is ever so practical and since she already has a boy, she has lots of baby stuff.  But her other children were born in the spring, and certainly nowhere near Christmas so I settled on a soft Santa hat and matching minky blanket.

I googled, newborn Santa hat patterns and found this one from  Both projects were fairly quick, other than the general PITA that is sewing with minky, and I’m happy to report that the items were well received.  The blanket is red on one side and white on the other, with a red trim, so it’s not overly Christmasy and can be used for the whole Winter.


Minky Newborn Santa Hat and Blanket


Christmas Tree at the White House

22 Dec

This year, I let the kids do most of the decorating of the tree.  I gave them a few simple instructions an let them go nuts.

Decorating the Tree

Noodlebell watched from his perch in the window.


The main instruction was  to hang the bulbs first and to hang them in the tree as opposed to on the edge of the branches.  Right away Isabelle wanted to know who came up with the rule and why we had to follow it.  When I told her that that is what my mother taught me, she asked me if Lolly (my mother) would be getting a tree and following these rules.  When I told her that Lolly wasn’t getting a tree, Isabelle thought that was reason enough for us not to have to follow the rule: If Lolly wasn’t going to follow it this year, than why should we.

A whole host of ornaments can be found on the bottom branches of our tree

Once most of the ornaments were hung, I took a couple of the nicer ones and hung them at the top.  I also redistributed some of the ornaments so that the top of the tree wasn’t completely bare.

Lelia's candy canes

Playing with my camera's settings


I pinned a couple camera tutorials (exhibit A, exhibit B) for getting a shot of the Christmas tree at night, in which it looks like it’s glowing.  But no matter what i did, I couldn’t get it!


Here are some of our fancy ornaments

Big Santa




Pink angel crab


This is a Christopher Radko ornament that was given to us when we were married. One would assume by it's pink color that it's a cosmopolitan, however, it's got an olive as a garnish....always makes me wonder if it's a screw up by Radko...





Sewing For Me!

9 Dec

After sewing like a crazy person last weekend and completing most of my Christmas present sewing to do list, I decided to reward myself by sewing something for me!  I had intended to work on these items after Christmas, but I just couldn’t resist and knowing that my Christmas to do list had been considerably downsized, I went for it.

I purchased a 1960’s McCalls cape pattern from an Etsy shop, and after searching high and low at local stores, I found just the right shade of pink wool at Mood Fabrics online.  (you know, the New York store on Project Runway) Their prices are great and the selection is VAST! I gambled on this order , tough because I had no idea how thick the material was.  Good news, it was just the right weight, and I ordered a nice lining as well.

The pattern was already cut out and in my size, so all I had to do was cut the fabric.  I followed the pattern as best I could, and it was a challenge that took several evenings to complete, but I am happy with the finished product!

Photo courtesy of my 7 year old neighbor


I didn’t have the right color thread, nor did I have the desire to pack up my kids and drive to the store to find the right color, or go late at night when my husband came home, or the patience to wait until both kids were in school (my 3yo was ill from Saturday through Wednesday with a fever so today is my first kid free day!!)

I’m happy with how it turned out, given the level of difficulty and the mismatched thread.  All I kept thinking when making it though, is that saying “Don’t cook a meal you’ve never cooked before when you have people over for dinner.” The logic is sound and I feel that way about sewing too.  But I don’t have the patience to do a trial run on every project, especially one like this.

The same hold true for my other quick creations this week. I had fabric leftover from the cape so I thought I’d whip up a little reversible keyhole foldover clutch to use with the cape. I had seen one on Pinterest, but couldn’t find it when I set out on the project.  Of course, now, here it is .  Might have to but it and try again!  Anywho, this go round, I just made it up and started sewing.  The finished product is less than desirable so it’s only in this group shot.


The other two items in that shot, are versions of another LBG studio tutorial!  Pinned on Pinterest months ago, I decided ot use up some scrap fabric and go for it! Several lessons learned here:

  1. Measure, don’t guess
  2. Use the materials that the pattern calls for
  3. Thickness of fabric DOES make a difference on the final product!
Clutch/Wallet #1 (the green and white one) was made mostly on my own measurement system, based solely on the size of my phone and so it’s not quite wide enough when shut to accomodate my credit cards.  The green and white fabric is from my dining room chairs and is uber heavy, thus the final product is tres bulky.

bulky tiny wallet

So I started anew with leftover Christmas dress fabric and went for a much bigger clutch/wallet.  Overall I love the size, however, here, I used only the interfacing I had on hand.  The tutorial called for a heavier weight and in the case of the backing, I wish I had used that.  My finished wallet is a little more flimsy than I would like it to be, but it will suffice.
To both the green and the Christmas fabric wallet/clutch, I changed  the memo pad side to a full pocket and added another pocket on that side as well. I have learned to save receipts when shopping so that returns can easily be handled.  I also save them because the contain coupons.  And then there are the receipts I save for my job for accounting purposes.  Needless to say, I have a lot of receipts. This extra pocket accommodates my receipt stash nicely.  Storing my phone inside my wallet is also a plus because now I can just grab this one item and be on my way, no need for the whole purse and all it’s contents.
I wanted to add a zippered pouch somewhere on here, but I’ve never added a zipper anywhere, and I couldn’t figure out the logistics of how it would be sewn and where I would place it. I’m going to need some hand holding on that one.
Overall, my sewing skills are progressing and I’m getting more comfortable behind the machine.
Sadly though, this new hobby, has shed light on the fact that there is a giant gaping hole in the fabric/sewing shop world in Baltimore.  There are but a handful of stores and not a single store in my entire STATE carries the fabrics from the interwebs that I love so much.  No Free Spirit Westminister fabrics here! And no Amy Butler in Baltimore either.  There are others, but these are the two I looked up today.  I’ve embraced internet shopping, but I wish I could shop locally and find a store with these fabrics so I could oh and ah in person….and touch them.






Tutorial | 18″ Doll Sleeping Bag

6 Dec


The girls have a long list of American Girl Doll requests for Christmas and to ease the cost of the  all of the accouterment, I decided I’d make some of it myself. Plus I love being able to make it just exactly how I’d like it, color combo’s and all.

On a side note, I’ve decided that sewing is even better than shopping as a form of therapy.  You get to enjoy the shoppers high, because for me, it’s the thrill of the hunt, and I can spend hours hunting fabric and patterns and inspiration.  And then there’s the satisfaction of making it yourself.  And again, the idea that I can find something to make, and tweak it to make it just exactly how I want it, instead of when I’m shopping for something and have to settle for what’s in the store.

My inspiration for this project was this pin on Pinterest. A sleeping bag for the girls dolls is perfect, it can lie in the dolls bed, and can be rolled up to travel with us when we visit grandparents!


1/2 yard outer fabric ( I used Michael Miller Children at Play Pink Hopscotch)

1/2 yard inner fabric (I used a minky from Joann Fabrics)

1/2 yard batting

3 yards of bias tape



Pattern Materials


wrapping paper

straight edge





To start, I used my daughter’s existing doll bed quilt for measurements.  It is 12″ x 18′ (in the future I might extend this to 19″). I allotted for a 5/8″ seam and drew rectangles to represent the underside of the sleeping bag. I decided that the top of the bag would be 2/3 the length of the underside (12″) and that the most logical way to join them was by the foot of the sleeping bag.

In doing so I had to remember to leave a 5/8″ seam on both foot sides of the bag.

Once the rectangles were drawn, I cut out the pattern, then I used a bowl to make the corners rounded.

I drew the first corner, then folded the pattern in half lengthwise to copy the corner exactly. then unfolded that and refolded it width wise to copy the corner’s again.

Once the corners were cut out, I then pinned my pattern to the minky and cut it out.  Then I repeated with the hopscotch fabric and the batting.




I then pinned all three layers together as they would appear in the finished product.


Once all the layers are pinned, I used my new serger to sew all the layers, but you could just as easily use a sewing machine.

You could just sew the top and bottom together now, but I liked the quilted look so I sewed straight lines up and down the bag, using the hopscotch pattern as my spacing guide.



Next up, pinning the top and bottom together so that it now really looks like a sleeping bag.


Since I made two of these at the same time and I’ve never actually used bias tape, I had to guess and go with the process.  Lessons learned:

  1. start with the top of the upside of the bag, and work around the bottom of the bag and back to the top of the underside of the bag til you are back where you started.
  2. iron the tape in place before you sew.
  3. Also I believe I read something somewhere about something called wondertape that would help this stay in place better.

That’s it! Sleeping bags finished!


Rolled up, I think I'll add some ribbon so it can be tied like this!