Sunday, December 20, 2009

Knitting: Christmas Sweaters for the Girls


I knew I would run out of time if I tried knitting sweaters for both Audrey and Scarlett this Christmas. Not to mention my original idea of a gorgeous Debbie Bliss coat knit on size 5 needles. I should have started that in June! I wanted to use some skirts we received as a gift a couple years ago (one for Audrey and and a couple for her cousins, including older cousin Grace, which now fit Audrey and Scarlett!). There are darling dark red with brown polka dots and tulle underslips from Gap Kids. I wanted to do brown sweaters and use this great plaid ribbon I found in brown, dark red and off white.


So I found this quick and easy (that's my speed!) cardigan pattern from one of my favorite sources, LionBrand, and cranked out a sweater for Audrey on size 13 needles! Thank you very much! This pattern actually calls for knitting two worsted weight yarns together.





For Scarlett, I pulled out a sweater I had knit for Audrey her first Christmas. This cute green asymetrical cardigan. Looks great with the skirt.


I found the blouses at Janie and Jack during last year's sale. They are beautiful with silk collars
and embroidery.

I love Audrey's boots with this ensemble. All in all the outfits turned out great, and not too fussy, which is more fun for the girls, without a crazy amount of effort.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Knitting: The First Sweater


I dressed Scarlett today in the first sweater I ever knitted (completely--I'm not counting the one I started in highschool and never finished). I made this little pink cardigan for Audrey using a pattern my mother had been using to make baby gifts (she made so many cute ones for her friends grandbabies!). I love the seed stitch. A pretty ambitious stitch actually for one's first sweater. It's so nice to have a second little girl to wear it!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gifts: Kitchen Tools for my Girlfriends




One of my favorite Christmas events is a lunch with my girlfriends to celebrate two of their birthdays (on the same day in December) and exchange small Christmas gifts. It's always fun to try and come up with something high on style but low on budget. Lately I have been leaning toward the utilitarian.
A couple years ago I gave Method handsoap dispensers in a great bright green color tied with red ribbon. Last year it was a Crate&Barrel white with snowflake diecut napkin holder with red napkins. This year it's more Crate&Barrel: Red silicone and stainless steel spatula and snowflake diecut pancake turner wrapped in an IKEA dishtowel. I was happy to find this snowflake ribbon at Target to match.


I feel like Santa with my bag full of gifts! And how great is this vinyl Santa bag! Got it at the grocery store and I love it. Not only do I have Christmas gifts and birthday gifts but a baby gift too. Very fun.

Craft: Personalized Stationery Gifts

My good friend, and daughters' nanny, Sue, shared this cute idea for a personalized gift. These cards, made by ..., come with white inserts. I picked the papers for the covers at my local scrapbooking store and punched out the initials there too.

Making handmade gifts is one of my favorite parts of Christmas so I couldn't let this one go by without doing something. I am going to give them to my sisters and use them for teachers' gifts too. Plus I made some for myself.


(So funny! I was just thinking, "what's wrong with that picture?" I pasted on the "j" backwards! Ooops!)


Sewing: Camo Splat Mat for a Boy



I don't know what it is, but I've always loved camouflage, even had a camo bathing suit when I was in jr. high and I still think it's great.

I found this great oilcloth at Denver Fabrics and thought it would be great for a baby boy--splat mat, bib, bag, wipe holder, etc. A good friend of mine, Jenni, just had a baby boy so I thought: splat mat!

I took some red seam binding and used it to finish the edges. I love the look! I've used oversized rick rack on oil cloth for tablecloths and I may prefer this, and it's all the better for a boy. Plus I love the red and blue contrast.

More seam binding for the "bow."

Hope they get good use out of it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Card 2009


I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted for our Christmas card this year, which is typically a problem. Whenever I have something in mind it seems I can't find it.

I hunted through all the options I could think of for cards you can customize with photos, letterpress cards, all sorts of things but couldn't find it. So many of the photo cards are looking the same to me. I wanted a three-panel with an vintage, not country, but classic look. I wanted a color palette to complement our family photos (rare, and fun, as it turned out, for us to have family photos--thanks to Jennifer Fauset) so I was thinking cream, brown, dark red, maybe some green.

Finally, on Design Mom, she mentioned a resource for photoshop templates one can download, and I found that Legacy Digital Design also does custom designed cards, and reasonably! Hooray! I absolutely love the custom design process and Jill was great to work with. After explaining what I wanted she created this beautiful design to work perfectly with our photos. I am so happy! It was a Christmas present to myself. Next best thing to designing my own (maybe next year?). My sisters both ended up getting their Christmas Cards through Legacy too.



I really love Christmas cards with photos, especially family photos (more fun to see the whole family in my opinion), but I also like them to feel like Christmas. Hard to find designs these days that do both. I actually kind of miss the old boxed Christmas cards like my mother used to send out. She would hunt and hunt for the message that felt right to her. It was more about the greeting then, finding something to express your feelings about the holidays. I think we've lost a little something the way things have gone.

So anyway, our card this year, with greeting and photos--best of both worlds.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Painting: Phoenix Landscape with Resting Zoe

I was able to take the afternoon off work and go paint instead and I FINALLY finished this painting I started long ago. I have loved the idea of doing something like this for years now--I love this Carob tree in my in-laws back yard. Our sweet dog, Zoe, isn't doing so well lately and I love the mental image of her resting in the sun on the lawn under this tree. I thought it would make a nice little composition. However, I must resolve, again, to not paint such small canvases. I really don't like using such small brushes.

I used a glazing technique, both warm and cool, to finish this. Something I was able to do since it had sat around for so many months. I don't use glazes very often so it was fun to do. I realized I really needed to push the values much more than I had--darker upright tree, lighter landscape in back. I am much happier with it now.

Nothing like a Christmas deadline to force the time for painting. I decided to finish this and give it to my MIL. I hope she likes it. A bit risky to give a painting again this year. Hopefully they won't think, "are we going to get a painting every year?"


Friday, December 4, 2009

Rooms: Christmas Decorating 2009


Seems it's usually mid-way through December before I get the house fully decorated, but not this year! I am happy to say the halls are already decked, starting with a wreath on the door. I Love these particular shades of green and red in the ribbons.




Also on the front porch is a very casual arrangement of giant pinecones, garland and "candles" (the battery powered candles are the best I think--especially these that flicker realistically).



The tree...


For years we have done a tree (always a live tree) with nothing but little white lights. So simple and beautiful, but also because the idea of coming up with, investing in, and sticking with a Christmas tree decoration concept was a bit overhwhelming. We have very different Christmas pedigrees. My husband's family tree was always decked with silver and gold balls--lots and nothing but them and the lights. My family's tree on the other hand was gingham ribbons, fake candied apples and lots of Steinbach wooden ornaments. We used real candles for years and then it was white lights. So I guess we had the white lights in common.



Finally, a few years ago we ventured out and I found this great laser cut felt treeskirt from Anthropologie and saw the felt snowflake ornaments in Domino (I so miss that mag!), which I ordered from a store in Canada.



After Audrey was born I bought the rhinestone picture frame ornaments from The Container Store and filled them with black and white family photos--portraits of Audrey, her parents, and the grandparents. So now it's simple, but a little more than white lights.


I was contemplating adding big jingle bells on red ribbon (a bit more red might be nice) but couldn't find the right ribbon and get the proportions of bell to ribbon quite right. Maybe next year.


I add the red velvet pillows to the couch during Christmas--usually it's just the white angora pillows.


This is our Advent Wreath. A tradition from my side of the family. Having spent my early childhood in Germany, there are more than a few German traditions. I love this one. We celebrate it like this: for the four Sundays preceding Christmas we gather as a family for Advent ("Advent Sunday"). The first Sunday we light one candle, the second two candles, the third three candles, and then on the Sunday before Christmas we light four candles. We sing religious carols, read the story of the birth of Jesus from the Bible and eat Christmas cookies. Once back in the States we would often invite another family or two to celebrate Advent with us. Now my siblings and I gather our families for the four Sundays prior to Christmas.


I love this table runner with the wreath. Got it at the Crate and Barrel after-Christmas sale last season.



And, one last shot (I'm not including the small additions in our family room, such as the Italian creche and the wooden Christmas soldiers...): My husband's great sense of humor and Christmas spirit--a santa hat on the bull painting in our entry way. The bull is life-sized and it really does appear that he's wearing a hat.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

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