Busy Little Elf

I've been working away, though it seems as if everything that could happen to keep me away from my tasks has happened! My cold has lingered on, making me really exhausted by the time the kiddos go to bed (and it's hard for me to make gifts while I'm sleeping). Friday I was determined to at least get the things that needed to be mailed finished. A big storm was supposed to start Friday around noon, and I was furiously sewing and cooking away while keeping one eye on the skies (looking for snow) and one eye on the kids. Yes, your math is correct, that didn't leave enough eyes to have one on my sewing machine. As I was rushing, I sewed one of my reverse applique letters right to the collar of the t-shirt! It was a nightmare to take out because I used a really close stitch. It was also my first time doing reverse applique, so it took me quite a while to complete the project. I hope the boys like the finished product - I wanted it to have a rough, boyish look and I think I acheived that, though their parents might just think it looks messy. Oh well, messy sure was a lot of work!A bit after 12:30, Lil' Miss announced, "The snow is coming down Mommy!" It came down fast and hard and by the time I finished the shirts, there were several inches on the ground. I ended up waiting for Hubby to get home and he drove us to the post office. So I am happy that I got the t-shirts finished and six bags of chocolate covered roasted pecans made AND they all got in the mail on Friday.
I thought that Saturday I'd be able to get some more things done, but since we got 12 inches of snow on Friday, hubby spent most of the day cleaning up - which meant the kids were with me (they went out for a little bit, but are too small to really stay out very long). Sewing with the Little Guy around just does not work. However, I did go to my neighbor's house for a cake baking lesson. I already know how to bake cakes, but she makes those professional cakes that you pay tons of money for birthday parties and other events. It was great, I learned how to make the cake AND the icing and it was delicious! This is a 12 inch, 3 inch high cake and 24 hours later there is only about a fourth of it left!
Today, church was canceled because it was still snowing - it snowed straight through from Friday until Sunday evening. Though I was looking forward to going to church, not only to worship and fellowship, but I had a few bags of pecans I wanted to give to some folks, I was also happy to have the time to work on some projects. Well, we drove out in the snow to get a few things and wouldn't you know that when we returned, our CO detector was going off again?!! Hubby went down to check out the furnace and the one near the bedrooms began to go off too. We decided that it would be best for the children and I to leave the house, while Hubby tried to figure out the problem. I woke the Little Guy from his nap and bundled everyone up and went to a neighbor's. While it was nice to visit, all I could think of was my sewing! It felt like someone really didn't want me to make any gifts.

When we finally came back home to a soot covered Hubby, I let the kids decorate gingerbread cookies while I started on one project. By the end of the night, I was able to finish it and a little something to go with it. It's a tissue pouch holder and a keychain! Hopefully the next few nights will be much more productive!


Time to Panic

I am officially panicking right now. There are only 10 days until Christmas!!!

I have so many things that I wanted to do, but haven't been able to. We've had a rough few weeks with the Little Guy being sick first for a week, then Lil' Miss getting pink eye, and then Hubby and I sick the week after. I avoid medications during pregnancy, thus have had a much harder time with this cold than I normally would. I can't seem to get rid of a very congested cough, I'm stuffy and cannot breathe and my throat is unbelievably sore. In addition, I still have the normal pregnancy symptoms, heartburn being the worst. All of this together has not allowed me to get a good night's rest in quite a while, so I am just beat during the days. Add to this mix a very active 2 and 4 year old and you do NOT have someone who has energy to sew or bake at all!

I keep checking the US Postal Service website to make sure I have time to mail stuff. If I can at least muster up enough energy to make gifts for my out of town family, I'll be happy. If I read the website correctly, the last day to mail stuff and get it to it's destination by Christmas is December 20. This gives me 4 days (or 5 if I can sew and bake a bit on Saturday morning) to get several gifts made, wrapped and packed up. Once they're done, I can pull a few all nighters and get the local family/friends gifts done. This is a pretty tall order, so I'd appreciate any healthy thoughts and prayers you have to send my way! Thanks!!!


Fifty-six Handmade Christmas Cards

Here are my Christmas Cards for this year! I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos. I did not have good lighting where the cards were and my camera is not the best.

The last few years I made a photo card, either taking my own photo or getting a professional photo and using it to create the card. This time however, I wanted to actually scrapbook a card. My mother is quite a gifted card maker and I've become more and more inspired by her handmade cards. I started working on these at the scrapbooking retreat I went to in November.

I started off with 8 & 1/2 x 11 sheets of forest green, cranberry and cream paper. I cut them in half so that they were 8 & 1/2 x 5 & 1/2. I ran them through a Cuttlebug using an embossing folder. That's what made the pretty raised pattern. It's the cutest little machine that you can use to manually cut shapes and emboss paper. Then I cut varous 12X12 sheets of beautiful patterned cream, gold, light green and flowered paper down to fit the cards (now folded in half). I used a Creative Memories decorative trimmer to give them a wavy edge. I adhered these pieces to the center of my cards. I left the flowered paper as squares (no wavy edges) and used some distressing ink to give the paper an antique look, then adhered them to the right side of the card front.

I used a wooden stamp with black ink to make the bible verse on strips of red and green paper, cut them and matted them to brown or red paper. I did the same for the little manger image with an acrylic stamp. I am new to using acrylic stamps, but I really like them. You can see exactly where you are placing your stamp. I adhered these matted stamped images to the card. I also stamped "Handmade by" on the back of each card and wrote my name underneath.

I used EK Success snowflake punches to create about 175 little snowflakes in various patterns. The EK Success snowflake punch line offers six different patterns so that you can layer them and make an endless amount of unique snowflake arrangements. I layered and glued three snowflakes to each card, and put a dot of white glitter glue in the center.

I punched out 240 tiny gold doves, using leftover gold foil label paper. All of the labels had been used, but I saved the empty sheets. I punched the doves from the leftover gold borders of the label paper! I used these to adhere a wallet sized photo of my kids to the inside of the card, over the embossed area.

I bought a couple packs of holiday stationary, and used The Enveloper to make envelopes for all of the cards. Now they are just sitting on the table waiting to be signed and mailed. That part is taking quite a while because I am writing a personalized message in all 56 of them!

A Dream Come True!

Okay, this is a biased post because I LOVE SCRAPBOOKING! I have just come across the BEST GIVEAWAY EVER!!! Vanilla Joy is giving away a Silhouette Digital Craft Cutter by QuicKutz. I was actually considering getting a second job just to save up for one of these. Now I'm hoping to just win this one!!! It works through your computer and you can design just about anything you want to cut out and use on your scrapbook pages, cards or other handmade crafts! If you love papercrafts, this is the giveaway for you. Check it out before the deadline, December 13!

Vanilla Joy is also giving away a designer kitchen apron by Heavenly Hostess. It's a beautiful Mod Martini Halter Apron and it's reversible! This giveaway ends on December 12. Wow stumbling upon Vanilla Joy's website is better than if I were to get paid to fill out surveys!

The Silent Killer

Early Tuesday morning Hubby and I awoke to a loud alarm. It wasn't the smoke alarm, but our Carbon Monoxide detector. We were not sure what to do as it was 4am, we felt fine, the kids looked okay and we really just wanted to go back to sleep. We concluded that it was probably faulty and went to bed for a couple more hours.

Later that day, Hubby checked out the alarm to make sure it was working properly (it was) and went around the house checking our CO levels. They were quite high in the basement and bouncing up and down in the other areas of the house. That night we called a good friend, my dad, who works in the heating and cooling field. After answering several questions and having Hubby try a few things, he determined that he needed to come over immediately. Together they pulled the entire boiler apart and discovered that it was extremely blocked up. Apparently it was only ventilating at about 25% of what it should be - which means the rest was going you know where - INTO THE HOUSE!

Hubby and my dad stayed up until about midnight cleaning it out and making sure all was running smoothly. Praise the Lord for my dad who knows about this kind of stuff and was able and willing to come out in the middle of the night like that. The bad thing is, I had no clue that the boiler could even get blocked that way and cause those sort of problems. I thought CO problems were issues for older homes. Our house is only 11 years old. I figured we had several years before we had to worry about such things.

This is very scary because you can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels it can kill a person in minutes. Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. If appliances that burn fuel are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can result. Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from CO poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances. Even more die from CO produced by idling cars. Fetuses, infants, elderly people, and people with anemia or with a history of heart or respiratory disease can be especially susceptible.

Here are some tips for making sure you stay safe this winter heating season...
  • Have your fuel-burning appliances -- including oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene space heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves -- inspected by a trained professional at the beginning of every heating season.
  • Make certain that the flues and chimneys are connected, in good condition, and not blocked.
  • Choose appliances that vent their fumes to the outside whenever possible, have them properly installed, and maintain them according to manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Read and follow all of the instructions that accompany any fuel-burning device. If you cannot avoid using an unvented gas or kerosene space heater, carefully follow the cautions that come with the device. Use the proper fuel and keep doors to the rest of the house open. Crack a window to ensure enough air for ventilation and proper fuel-burning.
  • Call the Consumer Product Safety Commission (1-800-638-2772) at for more information on how to reduce your risks from CO and other combustion gases and particles.
  • Never idle the car in a garage -- even if the garage door to the outside is open. Fumes can build up very quickly in the garage and living area of your home.
  • Do not use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
  • Never use a charcoal grill indoors -- even in a fireplace.
  • Do not sleep in any room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.
  • Never use any gasoline-powered engines (mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws, small engines or generators) in enclosed spaces.
  • Do not ignore symptoms, particularly if more than one person is feeling them. You could lose consciousness and die if you do nothing.

If the CO detector alarm does go off:

  • Make sure it is your CO detector and not your smoke detector.
  • Check to see if any member of the household is experiencing symptoms of poisoning.
  • If they are, get them out of the house immediately and seek medical attention. Tell the doctor that you suspect CO poisoning.
  • If no one is feeling symptoms, ventilate the home with fresh air, turn off all potential sources of CO -- your oil or gas furnace, gas water heater, gas range and oven, gas dryer, gas or kerosene space heater and any vehicle or small engine.
  • Have a qualified technician inspect your fuel-burning appliances and chimneys to make sure they are operating correctly and that there is nothing blocking the fumes from being vented out of the house.

Right now I am praising God for keeping us safe through this little scare and for blessing us with family who could help us out in a pinch and I am praying that you have a safe winter!!!


Pink Eye

Both kids are now sick. Oh, and both parents! The Little Guy is still struggling with his cold - it's just a chest cold, but a persistent one. Lil' Miss started off with a cold and now has PINK EYE!!! She was fine all yesterday - the eyes were a bit watery, but I figured it was from having a cold. Then in the evening, she came in the room and her eye looked so horrible for a minute I thought she had stuck something in it. But it was red, watery with discharge in the corners and I knew immediately what it was. I followed up today with a dr visit just to have it confirmed and get her a prescription.

The fun thing about a 4 year old having pink eye is that you get to put eye drops in her eye twice a day. Now, maybe for someone else's child this would be easy, but for my child it's a whole soap opera. Just getting her to stand still, look up, keep her eye open while I pull the bottom lid down (as instructed by the pediatrician) only to have her close the eye just as I'm getting ready to put the drop in - or flinch or turn her head or fall to the ground or begin screaming or... you get the picture. She's always been this way though. She spits out her medicine, needs 2 nurses and myself to hold her down for a routine shot, and won't even let me cut off a hangnail.

I'm not real sure what to do about the eyedrop thing though. I know she needs them to get better and I cannot physically get them into her eye. Maybe tonight Hubby can hold her down while I get them in??? I am really dreading bedtime tonight. Oh well, any ideas would be much appreciated.


A Two for One Deal!

Support children’s cancer research by sending all-natural gourmet cookies to everyone on your gift list! Cookies for Kids' Cancer was created to raise awareness of and funds for pediatric cancer research. The cookies are baked fresh when ordered, and include oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip and lemon sugar. Since over 75% of the purchase price goes directly to fund pediatric cancer research, not only are you giving your friends and family a delicious gift, but you are helping out a wonderful cause! The organization started with a kid fighting cancer and his parents’ desire to help him and others. Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 18 - odds directly related to how little money is being spent on research. So buy some cookies today and give two gifts at once!

I actually won some of these cookies through the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day. Green Jello was so moved by the mission of this charity, that she decided to purchase a box of cookies and give them away to a randomly drawn!


Give-Aways Galore!!!

Okay, you may have noticed that I've been posting a lot of give-aways lately. That is because Sew Mama Sew hosted Give-Away Day on December 3. There were tons of blogs and etsy shops participating who offered a lovely handmade item as a give-away to a reader. I ran across it kind of late, on December 3, but the list was SO LONG that many of the participants have extended their give-aways! So as I continue to go through the list in my imaginary spare time, I'll add the ones still going on to this post! I hope you get a chance to check them out and maybe win a handmade gift (which I think are the best gifts anyway)!

This Craft Addict has a little bit of everything here: fabric, beads, Scrabble tiles, scrapbooking elements, ribbon, tulle, yarn, snaps, buttons, embroidery kits, patterns and books. Everything you need to be a craft addict or feed your existing crafty addiction. To enter, comment on her blog and in your comment, you must write about your favorite charity. The name of it, why you support it, what it does, whatever — give them a plug! Include a link to its web site, if you’d like.

Only until Friday night you can win a Key Wristlet, a Dates to Remember Calendar or a Gift List Organizer. Check out Pamela Posch Designs for a chance to enter!

Two Cheese Please has a give-away for everybody. A free to download tutorial to make a quilted Christmas Wreath and a pattern to make a Christmas stamp. I've never made a stamp but I use them all the time in scrapbooking, so I'd love to try my hand at this - after the holidays are over!

Dressed by Jess is giving away a lovely canvas with a bronze cross in the center. You have to see it!!!

You must see these lovely Travel Jewelry Cases on Finally's blog. There is a bracelet/ring bag and a necklace case.

Mommy and Beyond is giving four readers a chance to win her lovely items. She has included burp cloths, placemat pillows, a petite zipper pouch, and a bracelet and earring set! Wow!!!

Here is a cute little handknit pink muffin at My Crafty Mess. Lil' Miss just loves pink fuzzy things!

Edward and Lilly are offering the sweetest little handmade birdie for your Christmas tree. You even get to pick your favorite color!

For all of you photographers out there, or those looking for a great gift, The Crafty Crow is having a really cool give-away for a handmade camera strap slip cover from the Shey [B] Etsy Shop. They come in so many beautiful designs. All you need to do is pick your favorite from the etsy shop, then comment on the blog about it and add a link to your blog.

Mommy Mandy is also giving away a Shey [B] camera strap slip cover. Check out her blog and comment on your favorite cover from the Shey [B] Etsy Shop. There are a few extra things you can do to get extra entries as well.


Win a Subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Update: I actually won this giveaway! My first time ever winning anything online! I'm so excited and I know the magazine will definately be put to good use, as I need all the homeschooling help and ideas I can get!

Heart of the Matter Online is giving away not one, but five subscriptions to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. All you need to do is comment about your favorite Christmas gift as a child.

Here is the link to enter the contest!

Maple Lane: Holiday Apron Giveaway!

While looking up apron patterns and tutorials I came across a fantastic giveaway! J. Carrell Originals is giving away this lovely red and white polka dot flounce apron on the blog, Maple Lane. The deadline is December 10, so get on over there and enter. And make sure to look around the J. Carrell Originals website, there are tons of other great aprons!

Maple Lane: Holiday Apron Giveaway!


Sewing with a Sick Kid

Well, it's official. I've got a sick kid in the house. I wouldn't mind so much except that it has completely thrown off my handmade holiday schedule! The Little Guy began coughing and sneezing on Saturday. By Sunday it was pretty bad. Monday he had a fever, couldn't keep his breakfast down, didn't want lunch or dinner, and had a fever again at bedtime. This morning he woke up and whatever was in his tummy overnight (which is a mystery to me because he didn't eat anything on Sunday) came up on daddy and himself, AFTER he was already dressed for the day of course. He managed to eat a bit of very watered down Cream of Wheat for breakfast and then half of a p & j sandwich for lunch. Just before naptime he got warm again, but I in my parental wisdom thought, "He's only a little warm, I'll just let him take a nap and maybe when he wakes up the fever will be gone." Well, he woke up about 45 minutes later BURNING UP. I immediately gave him some Children's Motrin and tried to get him to lay back down. But once the Motrin kicked in and brought the fever down, he had no intentions of sleeping. So he played the rest of the day, ate a muffin - which came up about half an hour later, then played some more.

I suppose I wouldn't have gotten much sewing done until after the kids bedtime anyway, but I am so exhausted from the mental energy that goes into caring for a sick little one, that I think I'd fall asleep at the sewing machine. Instead, I've decided to finish my Christmas cards. I just cut out 200 little gold doves to use as corner anchors for the pictures of the kids I am inserting into each card. Once that's done, it's just addressing the envelopes, sticking stamps on them and putting them in the mail. This just might be the earliest I've ever gotten Christmas cards out!

Hopefully tomorrow I can get some sewing done. I have a prenatal appointment in the morning - only about 9 weeks left until due date - IF I make it to the due date!!! Then Lil' Miss has a violin lesson. After that, we're free for the rest of the day. My little prayer is that we'll head home for some schoolwork, lunch and the Little Guy will go down for a nap. I usually don't do violin practice on the day we have private lesson because I figure she's gotten enough violin in for the day. That would leave two whole hours for sewing!

Here are the things I hope to get done this week...

Play mail bag and letters for some of the little boys

No sew tutus for the little girls

Apron for my auntie in law (a special request)

Fleece scarves and mittens for some of the school aged children


Countdown to Christmas!

Can you believe it's December already??? We have just three and a half weeks until Christmas! I'm feeling a bit of axiety because I have SO MUCH TO DO.

Here is the list of things I need to complete before Christmas:
1. Sew gifts for everyone (hubby, kids, parents, inlaws, siblings, nephews, godchildren, church family, friends)
2. Finish making Christmas cards and mail
3. Send out invitations for Christmas Eve dinner (we always have family and close friends over)
4. Make menu and buy food for Christmas Eve dinner
5. Wrap and mail gifts to out of town family

I also have lots of baby preparation stuff to do, but I'm hoping that can wait until after Christmas. Even if I deliver a bit early, I figuring I'll have at least a couple of weeks after Christmas to prepare the nursery, wash cloth diapers, wash baby clothes, pack a hospital bag and other important things.

One of the biggest problems I'm having is my love of making things. My Christmas cards are handmade from scratch. I actually started from a sheet of blank cardstock, embossed the paper, stamped all of the images, matted them, punched out snowflakes, added glitter, took photos of the kids, cropped all the photos, punched out gold stickers and used them to attach the photos to the inside of the card, signed them all and am now writing a personal message in each one. I could have left out several of those steps, but everytime I looked at the card I thought, "I should add this," or "That punch would look great in gold!" Oh, and did I mention that I made 50 cards?

The second problem I am having may be bigger than the first. There are just SO MANY wonderful things to sew! I think I've got my list together, then I find something else online.
My absolute favorite site is the Sew Mama Sew blog with Handmade Holidays 2008.
There is also 30 days, which has well over 30 days worth of ideas!
Handmade Holidays through the year has some pretty good craft projects and links to tutorials.
And of course, Craftster is always a fabulous resource. There you'll find an endless list of ideas and tutorials submitted by fellow crafty folks.

I hope to post some photos of my finished projects, but at the rate I'm going, they'll be most likely immediately stuffed into a box and rushed to the post office! Are any of you making gifts at home this year?