Friday, November 30, 2007

Country Living

My good friend Amy linked up to this post. It speaks to my soul (well, ok, maybe not the part about building houses). I grew up in a suburban town. Not suburban like we think of today but in a large brick house with a big back yard and a school 1/2 a block away.

As kids we rode our bikes all over town and had sleep outs on the front porch. One of our jobs was cleaning the wood porch and we loved this job because once it got good, wet and soapy it made a great slide. My dad must have had that porch sanded really well because I don't ever remember getting a splinter.

My husband grew up in the city and in a suburban town. Even when he was young he walked and rode everywhere. There were lots of neighborhood kids. My kids are growing up in the same city. I love it for many reasons. I love that I don't need to drive my car everywhere I go. I love my big old house with its gorgeous woodwork. I love everything that the city has to offer in terms of music, art and culture. The thing is, we aren't very cultured. I guess it's the country girl in me.

I drive Nolan to school everyday about 15 minutes out of the city. I begin to love the area surrounding his school. It is still suburban but it is less city. There is very little country left in our county. To buy any part of it is extremely expensive. I think my country yearnings are only a pipe dream but a dream none the less. I'd love to live where there are some trees to climb and a creek to wade, where we could raise some chickens and have a few animals for Nathan to nurture. Will we move? Probably not. It would have to be the Will of God to get us to find a house and land that we could afford.

So for now Nathan takes care of the cats, Nolan climbs fences and we landscape the back yard. And we are thankful for everything that we have. It is all a gift.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bag Lady

I'm having quite a bit of fun making these bags. I'm not sure I'm a great bag designer but it is fun trying to imagine what the bag will look like and then figuring our just how to cut and sew it. The above bag gave me some difficulty last night and I ended up ripping it apart today and sewing it back together. I'm glad I did. I'm also glad I waited until this morning to do it. This bag at the side didn't turn out exactly as I was hoping but it was close. I don't carry a purse too often and I was thinking about what kind of bag I would like. I wanted one that had an extra long strap and was somewhat like a small messenger bag. I didn't have quite enough fabric to make a longer strap without piecing it and since the bag itself was a little wider and shorter than I would like I just made the strap with the material at hand. This now reminds me of the kind and size of purse I carried in about the 6th grade. I do like the fabrics and am tickled with how the red butterflies accent the red in the outer fabric.

I have to admit I really like the larger bags the best so far. I may try to make a similar bag but just a tad smaller.

We are off to the library to search out a new book. Nolan has the good fortune to sit across from another avid reader. He's getting some good book ideas. If this one's a go I'll post about it soon.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fabric Matching

I intended to write over the Thanksgiving break but I never got the chance. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with both Mike's family and my own. We are fortunate that our families are close by. Some years that means we eat two holiday meals within hours of each other. This year, my family chose to celebrate on Sunday. This made for two very relaxing visits with both of our families. I actually enjoyed both meals too!
Since I decided to participate in the Artisan Fair at our church, I've been in the sewing room quite a bit. I have been rummaging through my stacks of fabric and found that I had a few pieces that were about a yard or more but that I had nothing to match them. Since JoAnn Fabric was having quite a sale I decided to match things up and makes some bags. The above bag was whipped up without a pattern.
I quite like how it worked out. It is shorter on the bottom than the top and is fully lined with two pockets on the inside. A magnetic snap (also on sale at Joanne's) closes the whole thing. The strap is large enough to throw over your shoulder.

To your right you can see some little pin cushions I whipped up using my favorite chick and chicken fabric. These were so easy to make and look so nice.

I've gotta run Nolan to Guides and so will have to leave you with these two pictures. I am beginning to update my etsy shop and will continue to do so all week. Check it out! I'll post more goodies this week.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Felt Afternoon

I promised myself I would spend everyday this week in the sewing room, even if it was just an hour. My friend Heather has arranged an Artisan Fair at our Parish. I hesitated about having a table with everything going on in my life right now but then figured even if I just put out my quilts I could have a sparse but nice looking table. I don't want to put out a whole lot of money toward making anything new and wanted to come up with some items that were unique but inexpensive. I pulled out my wool felt and here's what I've come up with so far:This little butterfly would look so beautiful hanging in front of a window. I'm thinking of making a bunch and then hanging them from a hoop as a mobile.Here is little mouse. His whiskers are a bit befuddled, I think I'll take him to the barber. Nolan says his name is Mick.These colorful fairy girls are my favorites, I think. They would look beautiful on someone's Christmas Tree, don't you think?I'm thinking of some more items. I have a few weeks to brainstorm and sew. Advent can be very busy as you all know. Nolan turns 10 in just under two weeks. We don't have parties every year but only on those "special" years. Double digits is definitely a special year. We're thinking a bowling party. I'll keep you updated.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving Vacation

We are taking a week off school. I have a list about a mile long of all the things I want to accomplish. Nathan was concerned that I was going to be cutting in on his free time. Nolan is sad because he doesn't have as much vacation. Why, you ask? As some of you know we did end up enrolling him in a really wonderful small Christian school. He has a fantastic teacher. But what he doesn't have is a weeks vacation.

Today I cleaned the living room which is also Mike's teaching studio. I guess that should be even more incentive to keep it clean. It is amazing the amount of extraneous junk that accumulates. I cleaned off the mantle and put up my advent letters just to see how they look. They look pretty good if I do say so myself. I won't put them up for good until December 2 which is the first day of advent. I am making plans for Advent celebrations including St. Nicholas day. Click here for a great web site.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Mother Cabrini sailed the ocean 25 times to help others in their need. She was horribly afraid of the water. Let us face our fears with the help of Christ who leads us on the good path.

God our Father, you called Frances Xavier Cabrini from Italy to serve the immigrants of America. By her example teach us concern for the stranger, the sick, and the frustrated. By her prayers help us to see Christ in all the men and women we meet. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Third Watch

Often I wake up in the wee hours of the morning. My husband likes to say I'm on "Old People Time." Yesterday I discovered the term "Third Watch." When I wake up in the middle of the night and can't return to slumber I will often pray. I may say the Rosary or just pray for people I know who are hurting or worried or sad. Mary Ellen from Tales From The Bonny Blue House has an essay on the Catholic Exchange about this subject. Check it out.

I'm glad to have a new name for my old habit.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Boy and His Cat

Our cat Gizmo loves Nathan. He will follow him around and meow for Nathan to pet him. Gizmo dislikes me. Why? I do not know. I was actually the one who wanted to bring him home from the pound. Is he appreciative? No. He will go out of his way to avoid my hand when I try to pet him. Gizmo is just lucky that I have a mother's heart. My heart is warmed to see how much the boy loves the cat and vice versa. Lucky cat.

Speaking of lucky, I had the good fortune to go to the movies with my sister-in-law this afternoon. She is a good friend and we are trying to get together more often. We saw Becoming Jane at an old, refurbished art deco movie theater in a nearby little town. The day was warm and sunny, the drive beautiful and the company stellar. Lucky me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Campfire Fun

Nolan joined a Catholic boy's organization created by one of the dads in our homeschooling group. Nolan just loves being a part of Guides and was excited to learn about the first badge. Now, no paperwork came home about this badge but Nolan was so excited that we just figured we'd work on it anyway. Nolan said he had to learn to build a fire by himself and learn to tie two knots. We spent last Saturday working on knots and then went to our local park and practiced setting up a small campfire in one of the fire rings. This was a lot of fun. The hardest part for Mike and I was letting Nolan do it himself with minimal guidance from us. We tried to let him learn by doing. The fire almost went out once:

Mom, "Nolan, why are you poking the fire with your stick?"
Nolan, "To give it more oxygen so it will burn better."
Mom, "Take a look at the fire, what is happening?"
Nolan, "It's going out."
Mom, "Why do you think this is happening?"
Nolan, "Because the sticks are all falling on each other and no oxygen is getting in."
Mom, "What should you do?"
Nolan, "Stop poking the fire and add more wood."

The fire was saved and he did it himself. We decided to officially rent the camp site for the evening last night, get some larger pieces of wood and let Nolan build the fire again. We brought hot dogs and s'mores materials for supper. My sister-in-law joined us and even though the night was cold and a little rainy, Nolan built the entire fire himself and we had a very enjoyable evening cooking and chatting together. We made sure the fire was completely out and returned home full and satisfied.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Little Advent Project

I love the Liturgical Year and wanted to do a little more decorating for Advent this year. I don't like to spend too much money on decorations and I don't like to have anything too big to store. I got an idea from Sun and Candlelight and A Number of Things and tweaked it for my mantle. I'll keep you in suspense for now as to the entire project but it is simple, cost $11 and will store in a minimum of space.

Last year the kids and I read the book The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean and they made Jesse tree ornaments each day. They loved this project and especially the book. We will again read the book and attach our ornaments each day of advent. I had never heard of a Jesse Tree until I was perusing my friend Michele's curriculum Mater Amabilis. I found several great books and ideas from this site.

The other tradition we have are advent boxes. It is the same idea as an advent calendar except I have candy boxes for each day (actually we count down the days of December until Christmas which doesn't always quite coincide with Advent) and inside the boxes are the pieces of the Playmobil Nativity. My kids were never big Playmobil fans so I am always surprised at how much they enjoy this activity. I'll post pictures of everything once Advent rolls around.

I'd love to hear what you do for Advent and also for Thanksgiving. I want to do some projects soon with the boys for that soon-to-come holiday.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Packed and ready to Go!

Although I know you all deserved to win, I have to say I have been pleased as punch with the emails from Mrs. E of My VintageThoughts. She picked the baby blanket (which was one of my favorites). Everyone should check out her blog. She is a recent blogger but has some very informative and interesting things to share. I intend to keep reading.

I'm beginning to fill up my etsy shop again for anyone who didn't win but may want to buy. Thanks again for all the great comments and I hope some of you will continue to return to simplysewn.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


The boys were my random number generators and both picked a number which we then averaged to come up with the winner. And the winner is......Mrs. E. of My Vintage Thoughts. Congratulations. I'll let you all know what she picked. The rest will be added to my etsy site this week. Thanks for playing.

The Last of the Choices

Well folks, this is it. Here are two more items for the give-away. Two sets of coasters. The patchwork set was made a long time ago. I was having some tension problems with my machine and will be ripping and resewing today to fix that issue. The other set is a Roy Rogers Coffee mug set. Over stitched in red. We will be picking the winner tonight around 8 p.m. I will then contact the winner and determine the prize pick. Hopefully I can post the winner and his/her prize by Monday. Remember, anything not picked will be added to my etsy shop next week. Good luck. Thanks for playing.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

One more for the pot

Here's another option for the give-away: a Japanese inspired pin cushion. This one is ample.

More Give-away

Well here are a few more items for the give-away. Remember, the winner gets to pick one item from all of my recent handmade items. These pictures are a cowboy wall hanging quilt (machine quilted) with a close up of the one panel and a set of four fun cowboy coasters backed in blue swirls.So to recap, here are the choices so far: Crocus lady, cow coasters, cowboy coasters, cowboy wall hanging, yellow baby blanket and little flower bag. Thanks to everyone who has entered so far.

To enter just leave me a comment here or on any post since that date. I will have two random number generators choose the winner on Sunday evening around 8p.m. That will give me some more time to whip up a few more choices.

Anyone who is interested in the choices not picked, fear not! I will be listed them in my etsy shop next week. Although not a give-away, my prices are reasonable.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Give Away Options

Here are a few of the options for the give-away. Remember, to enter just leave a comment on any of my pages from October 30th till Sunday and you could be the lucky winner of one of these items. I have a cowboy wall hanging almost finished to add to the pot and plan on making some more cowboy coasters similar to these. Tell your friends. Click here for more great giveaways.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Philadelphia Zoo

What can I say about the zoo? We love it. I have learned over the past few years that when I take the kids to a museum or zoo or aquarium I do not lead, I follow. I have to wait until something strikes their interest and then we dig in. I have also learned that the boys are not too interested in historical museums but are fascinated by the animal world. We still go to historical sites and events because I believe it is important but I focus more on the zoos, natural history museums and aquariums because they learn more when they love something.

Tuesday at the zoo was lovely. The weather was cool but nice and sunny and the crowds were minimal. Here are some of my favorite pictures. We are partial to the cats as will be obvious when you scroll down. The picture at the top of the post is the Clouded Leopard.This is Nathan and Nolan and the 5 month old baby tiger. These tigers were definitely our favorites. This is the Amur Leopard from Russia and is very rare.The Snow Leopard. These guys have incredibly bushy tails that they use as mufflers to keep their noses warm in the coldest weather.And finally mom and cub in the water. The cubs played and wrestled the entire day with their siblings and their mother and we think she just needed a break (sound familiar?) and so walked into the water. The cubs did not like to get in the water and so left her alone for a few minutes.
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