Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Calendar Tutorial

If you have never made an Advent quilt, this one is a good one to start with. It is really quite easy and can be completed pretty quickly. You will need to start with your color scheme. I had some very nice ivory wool in the fabric closet so that was an easy starting point. From there, I decided to go with bright and festive colors. This way, if my sister wants to use the pockets to hole things year round, she can without it screaming Christmas.

1. Choose heavy weight background fabric and felt for the pockets.
2. Make a template for the larger "back" square. I used a 4 inch square.
3. Make a template for the smaller "front" square. I used a 3 inch square.
4. Layout your color scheme and cut 24 four inch squares and 24 three inch squares.

5. Stitch the "front" square to the "back" square using a straight stitch. (Be sure to center the smaller square, you should probably pin them but I did not.)

Be sure to remove only one at a time from your layout, otherwise it  will be difficult to find your original layout.
6. Hem all 4 sides of your background fabric. Make sure you have laid out the pockets so you know what size you want the background. Mine was 23 inches wide before hemming.  Be sure to allow for a large turnover at the top for a dowel if you are not going to use tabs.

7. Pin the pockets onto the back ground fabric keeping even margins.

These flat head  pins are great if you have a little one in the house. They are very easy to spot when cleaning up. 
8. Stitch pocket to the background fabric. 

Take your time, I didn't and things got a little out of line.
9. Using leftover felt, stitch tabs to the top of your quilt.

Yes, it was that dark while I was sewing...sleeping baby.
10. Ta da! You are done! Now you just have to make something for each pocket...


My goal is to post each day's gift...check back each day of Advent to see what my sister in opening! 

Monday, November 29, 2010

We got a tree!

We couldn't pass up a tree this year after all! We decided to go with a little tree perched high enough to be out of Kieran's reach. The tree procurement was actually quite funny. We bundled up, strapped Kieran into the the stroller, soon to be tree sled, and walked to the closest tree stand.

Doesn't this little trailer make you smile? It cracked me up, the guys selling the trees were equally entertaining. So after giggling about the "Charlie Brown" trees we chose a little one that was the least "Charlie Brown-esque" as possible. We popped that tree under the stroller and we were on our way. Kieran didn't find the ordeal as humorous as his Mom and Dad did. He sat in his stroller with a serious face on the entire time. Little does he know, that tree is the very tree that his presents will sit under one day soon.


So off we went, with our tree in tow through the city, getting lots of smiles along the way.

I love decorating the tree as a family each year. We listen to Christmas carols and make a big deal of it. Growing up we always had very personal trees. Almost every ornament had a story. Some were generations old. Year after year my sister and I each received an ornament which would be ours to take when we grew up and moved away. I'm so grateful for that tradition. Now, my hubby and I pick up an ornament whenever we travel. It's such a nice way to remember time we have spent together as a family. I look forward to carrying on this tradition for our little boy.

So cute, right?

We brought this star home from Italy!

Daddy, can I help?

Felted ball ornament made by Auntie Louisa. Copper heart found on our honeymoon in Italy.

This is all of the decorating we have done so far, not a bad start. What decorating have you done? I would love to hear about it, maybe even borrow your ideas : )

Friday, November 26, 2010


Yesterday was one of the best Thanksgivings I can remember. We headed north to New Hampshire to spend the day with the hubby's family. He has a great big dynamic family (and you better bet there's a lot of good cookin' going on). This year all but 2 of the kids were able to be there. We missed you Ben and Summer! The main reason I count this year as a major success it that my little boy had a blast! The highlight? Definitely the dance and freeze party. Next time you are with a bunch of kids (in this case from 14 months to about 14), grab your ipod (with speaker) and turn 'er up! They randomly stopped the music and everyone had to freeze, leaving the last kid to stop out. "Out" really didn't mean much, they all kept their groove on! Kieran danced his little heart out. So much fun. 

I have so many things to be thankful for this year...here are just a few.
My husband and our marriage.

Kieran's belly laugh.
Fall in New England.

Time with my two guys.

Family and friends, both near and far. 

Grosgrain ribbon, I love it.

Need I say more?
My work.
What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Advent Calendar

The Advent Calendar is finished. 

Please forgive the poor photos. I worked on it while Kieran was sleeping so we kept the lights dimmed.  Have I mentioned I am really hoping someone falls in love with our loft so we can get our move on? 

I will post a full tutorial in the next few days. Now I'm off to the kitchen to make pumpkin cupcakes, yummy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sneak peek...

Tomorrow I will be finished (I think I can, I think I can) with my first ever Advent calendar quilt of sorts. Like many others, Advent Calendars have been a Christmastime tradition in our household for as long as I can remember. My Mom really stepped it up a notch when my sister and I went off to college. She sent us a piece of mail every single day, years in a row. Including the year that I was studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. Getting something from home every day while so far away is very special. Did I mention I pretty much have The Best Mom in the Universe? Well...I do. Many if not all of these cards and small gifts were handmade and always tres creative. Last year we had a newborn so that counted me out of most handmade gifting. 

Not this year! I'm back in the game. My sister sets the bar pretty high...this year she made us a very cool Advent Calendar (seen here) and I know she has some unbelievable goodies to go in it. Since it's not a competition, and I would never win if it was, I'm going to give making a quilt and filling it with handmade gifts a try. It's about time that I get myself in gear and make a little something for my big sis. 

First, here is my inspiration:

Abbey Goes Design Scouting
You can find her post here. Don't you just love the organization?

Here is a sneak peek of what I've been up to:

Any ideas of what to fill the pockets with??

And here is a shot of the little dude last Christmas, yes he was sound asleep in a sea of pointsettia. 
3 months old

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Well, at least at the mall! I know, I know, it's not even Thanksgiving yet! In our house, we do very little Thanksgiving decorating. It seems like a lot of work to be done just to take down the day after the turkey-fest and let's and let's face it...Christmas decorating is so much more fun! This year we have a little one running (and climbing) around and are opting not to do a traditional "big" tree that we have done in the past. So I got to thinking...what the heck is going to give us the same Christmasy vibe? So off to The Mall, well, the VIRTUAL mall I went to find some inspiration...

Restoration Hardware
I think posting a "wish" above our front door could be lovely. I would likely use cardboard letters, because they are inexpensive, and paint them or cover them with festive fabric.

Restoration Hardware
Last year while touring the mansions in Newport Rhode Island, I fell in love with "kissing balls". The modern clean line of a sphere with the traditional greens makes me swoon. Is it just me? 
These felt balls make me smile! My sister, Auntie Louisa, makes felt balls and strings them vertically to make ornaments. I like this variation, sweet.

Pottery Barn
Good reminder to hang a grosgrain ribbon and paper clip holiday cards right on!

Pottery Barn
There's this Advent calendar (above)...

Auntie Louisa
Then there's THIS ADVENT CALENDAR! (Above) I can not wait to hang this festive Advent calendar that my sister made for our family. It is going to bring a smile to my face every time I see it. Who knows what it will be filled with?! 
Crate and Barrel

Christmas pillows are a really easy (and safe) way to add a little holiday pizzaz to a home!

This is so sweet! (I'll probably skip the fawn.) This is on my MUST MAKE list. I love that it could be used from year to year. The only problem, I think most of my yarn in is storage...I'll get to the bottom of that and show you my version. Stay tuned.

Restoration Hardware
Candles. They're beautiful, Christmas or not. 

So...what are you doing in your house to decorate this year? Do you have the same babyproofing issues that we have?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanks Mama!

Thank you Mom for your photoshoptastic help! This photo of Kieran doing 1...2...3...weeeeeee! with us (by Tara Morris) is perfect for this fun little blog. Here is what the photo looked like originally: 

Cropping and adding the navy blue band below allows the image to work. The font is a free download from Da Font called "Jellyka BeesAntique Handwriting". Isn't it lovely? I especially like the casual feel it has. As for the blog's new background...good old polka dots. I may have a small obsession with them. They're sweet, casual and playful all awhile being a classic pattern. What's not to love? 

Here you can see the use of polka dots in our 2007 wedding...


My Bouquet

The Kids Table

The Cake
Our wedding was a beautiful collaboration by my entire family. We all worked together to design and execute many of the details. Mom made the invitations, programs etc and the carrot wedding cake, both of which were a big hit. My Dad was the "get it done guy" as well as the "walk his daughter down the isle guy", boy was that a special walk. My sister, the maid of honor, really was the star. She was everywhere. I mean, she was there literally wiping my feet clean of mud and putting my "indoor shoes" on so I didn't get my dress dirty. She helped us with so many things, I can't list them all. That day remains the best day of my life. I married my love. For the first time we joined our lives. We brought so many different people together. They were all there for us. It touches me beyond words that so many would travel great distances to be there that. The best day of my life. 

Photo credit: Last three wedding photos by Robert Castagna.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gift it...

Recently some Mom friends and I had a joint One Year Birthday Party. I was in charge of favors. This is right up my alley! Yippee! I decided that everyone likes a personalized gift, so why not make monogramed onsies? The funny thing is, I didn't make my own son one! So I don't have a great after picture but you can see generally how they ended up. 

1. Choose a font that you like and a size that is right for your onsie. In this case I was using 18 month size Carter's Onsies, it's a safe bet that all the 1 year old babes would be able to wear that size at some point. Always error on the side of too big if you are unsure of sizing. I used Baskerville Semibold at 205 size. Print out the first letter in each child's name. 

Baskerville semibold font.
 2. Trace each letter onto your double sided fusible interfacing and mark "g" for girl or "b" for boy. This will help you choose the appropriate fabric for each letter.

3. Iron each letter onto the "wrong" side of your fabric.

 4. Cut out each letter carefully.

Use very sharp scissors.
5. Peel off the paper backing and iron onto onsie. Be sure to center it first.
6. Stitch Each letter onto onsie using a zig zag stitch.
7. Choose coordinating tags and ribbon to finish each favor. (I chose Martha Stewart's "Playground" paper. I found it at a Michael's store.) To make tags, just cut out a rectangle, use a corner punch on the 2 bottom corners, trip the top by cutting each corner on the diagonal. Punch a hole for the ribbon and you're done.

Make sure you make a tag with each child's name on it. 
At the party, I laid them out in neat rows so it would be easy for Moms to read the tags and grab the correct one. Anything to make a gazillion kids in one place any less hectic!

The party was a blast and the Moms enjoyed the favors. It was a lot of work having all those kiddos in one space. I would do it again in a second. They had so much fun!

And this was just some of the babes!
A much deserved cupcake for each Mama and babe!
Have you made any favors lately?