Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pre-Halloween Festivities

The businesses in the town that we're living in right now host trick-or-treating the afternoon before Halloween every year. Practically the whole town comes out for it, and the businesses are really generous. The kids love it because they run into their costumed friends from school and church, and I love it because afternoon light is sweet for taking pictures :)

My little rugrats all dressed up: Three sheriffs, and one pretty little peacock.

One of the businesses handed out cans of soda and hot dogs. My kids about died from the excitement.

My handsome little cowboy:)

My pretty peacock.

Natalie spent most of the afternoon like her stroller, totally bored.

Right before we went home, I released her from her confines, and she loved strutting down the sidewalk like the proud little peacock she was.

Details on the costumes:
I spent $3 each on the sheriff costumes. (I super ♥ the dollar store this time of year!) I bought each of them a cowboy toy pack that came with a sheriff's star, gun and holster, and a cowboy hat - all from the dollar store. Then I went to Walmart where I picked up a bandanna for each of them at $1 apiece. They already had shirts, jeans, and belts. They wore their church shoes, and I drew on some awesome facial hair with my black eyeliner pencil.

For the peacock, I was going for more of a masquerade style costume. Think essence of peacock, not literal peacock. She's my only girl, and it's her first Halloween, so I wanted something pretty. :)
I used 1 1/2 yards each of dark blue and green tulle, along with 1 yard of brown tulle tied to some elastic for her tutu dress.
I bought two packs of short length peacock feathers that I cut down for her headband and for the brooch on the front of her dress. I also bought a pack of teal colored feathers for the front of her dress.
I made her headband by wrapping a basic plastic headband (that we already had) in 3/4" dark blue ribbon. Then I took a length of that same ribbon and using my sewing machine, ran a basting stitch down the center. I gathered, rolled, and hot glued until I had the rosette the size I wanted. I added some beads that I already had to the center, hot glued on the feathers, and hot glued the whole thing to the top of the headband.
I did the same thing for the brooch on her dress, but I layered a brown fabric flower (that I already had) under it. I then hot glued a pin to the back and pinned it to the front of her dress. Put together with some black tights, her church shoes, and a black leotard, she was good to go!!

Have a happy, safe Halloween!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Favorite Things Friday

Hi everyone! Can you believe that it's the end of October already? I sure can't. The kids will be trick-or-treating tomorrow night (a day early where I live), and we'll be celebrating my baby girl's first birthday in a few days. Seriously, where has the time gone?

We have pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating to local businesses on the agenda today, so I'll keep my post short and sweet.

Here goes:

Florabella has put out some really lovely collections of actions and textures for photoshop. I would love to play around with all of them. You can find them HERE.

My friend, Jean, sent me the link to a website that has over 100 free purse patterns. You should check it out. Some of them are super cute. You can find them HERE.

This pig-shaped cutting board rocks. Large wood cutting boards are the best, and I love pigs. We raised pigs for 4-H in the summers growing up. This cutting board would be right at home in my kitchen. You can find it HERE.

With the weather cooling down this week, it's had me dreaming about being able to send out Christmas cards this year. Giving into my wishful thinking, I perused my favorite digital scrapbooking site, Designer Digitals. These were some of my favorite finds:

You can find them all by going HERE.

Have a happy and safe Halloween everyone! Here's hoping we won't be trudging through the snow while trick-or-treating this year. :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My friend posted about a cute hat pattern that she found a few days ago. Inspired by the picture, I decided to try to make my own version, and I'm excited with how it turned out. Now, if I can only get Natalie to leave it on for more than 2 seconds...
Thanks for the inspiration, Candida :) If you're interested, the original pattern in HERE.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Service Sunday

Hi everyone! I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but today is overcast, drizzly, and chilly. I love it :) I love days that make me want to put on warm, comfy clothes, snuggle with my family, and curl up with a blanket...which is what made me think of this week's charity organization: Project Linus (named after the lovable Peanuts character who loved his blankie).

Project Linus was founded in 1995, and their mission is to provide, love, warmth and comfort, through a new handmade blanket, to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need.

Since their start, they have have delivered over 3 million (!) blankets to children in need. There are hundreds of chapters across the US with thousands of volunteers (called "blanketeers"), and you could be one too!

One of the stories that I read on their website a few years ago has really stuck with me. It told of a little boy who was taken out of his home for his own safety, and was taken to a local hospital where he was being looked over and would stay there until local authorities could decide what to do with him. The nurse who told the story said that she peeked into his room that night to check on him, and she could just see the terror on his face - of everything that he had endured, and of what faced him in his uncertain future. She went to the hospital's supply of Project Linus blankets, and picked out an especially nice one for him. When she went back to his room, and wrapped him in the blanket, and explained that the blanket was for him and that he could keep it and take it with him wherever he went, his eyes brightened and he was able to relax enough to get some sleep that night.

I've crocheted a blanket for each of my children that they've used since they were babies. They still like to be put to bed with them, and snuggle with them...there is security in being wrapped in a handmade blanket. I know it seems like such a small thing, but blankets can be such a huge comfort.

If you're interested, Project Linus accepts blankets of all kinds (quilts, afghans, fleece, etc.). More information can be found HERE.

Happy Sunday!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Favorite Things Friday

So, obviously the whole get-the-tutorial-done-for-the-needlebook thing didn't happen :( I've been battling a nasty cold...I've basically been eating soup and lounging in my sweats all week. But, on the bright side, my non-crafting means that I spent more time on the internet, and have some cool things to share. We celebrate the small things here at A Lemon Dropp Life ;)

This dining table from Restoration Hardware is gorgeous. I love the simple lines, and the turned legs. I love the aged patina it has, I love that it's made from solid wood, and I love how it's rustic, yet elegant. You can find it HERE. James and I had to get rid of our dining table when we moved a few months ago. All our earthly possessions had to fit into a 10x10 storage unit, and our table didn't make the cut. Don't feel too bad for us, though. It had seen 5 years of hard, hard (ab)use and it needed some help. If we had decided to keep it, we would have had to re-finish it, and we weren't sure we were up to that. So, getting rid of it meant that we could buy a table that we really loved later on. Since we have four kids (three of them boys), we need a table that can stand up to a lot of *loving*. So a table that is solid, weathered, distressed, and already perfectly imperfect is really appealing. I don't want to freak out about every ding, scratch, and stain. The only thing that gives me pause about this table though, is the fact that it's unsealed. Don't get me wrong, I love the look of it, but I worry about spills on a table like this. A few blemishes don't bother me, but I don't want it took like a mess, either. I've done some research, and I guess steel wool can work wonders on unsealed wood, that and Murphy's Soap, but I'm still a little nervous. It will take some thought for sure :)

How about this linen quilt? Lovely, right? It's also from Restoration Hardware. You can find it HERE. I've been searching for a long time for bedding that both James and I could dig. This quilt is a good blend of masculine and feminine, and we both really like it. Another picture of it can be found HERE.

This is one of my favorite paintings. It's called "My Presence Shall Be There" by artist Sandra Rast. It has all of my favorite things:
The Salt Lake Temple (where James and I were sealed)
Spring in Utah
Umbrellas (yeah, I have a fetish for umbrellas)
Symbolism (you can read about it HERE)
Bright, yet balanced colors

I've had my eye on this painting for a long, long time. Hopefully it's still around when I've saved all my pennies for it :)

Lastly, a catalog came in the mail today filled with Christmas decor. Surprisingly, I found three things that I would totally buy. I couldn't save the pictures, but you can find them HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Opinions are always welcome, especially your thoughts on an unsealed dining table.
Happy Friday!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Service Sunday

Today's service opportunity is with an organization called ConKerr Cancer. They have been making, collecting and donating bright, cheery, fun pillowcases to sick children in hospitals since 2002. They have a lofty goal of giving a pillowcase to every seriously ill child in America by 2012, and we can help!! For more information, visit their website HERE.

A great tutorial for sewing the pillowcases can be found HERE. If you don't sew, crochet a pretty border or embroider on a pre-made pillowcase. Or, if you're not crafty, you can donate money.

Sometimes it's the little things that mean the most, and I'm sure fun pillowcases go a long way in making sick children feel just a little bit happier, and that's a good thing :)

**Also, if you're interested in making/donating things to Lua Nova, please let me know. I'm making baby blankets and Candida is crocheting the most adorable baby shoes (thank you!!!). Money/time permitting I'd also like to make some ring slings for the new moms to carry their new babys around and help promote bonding. We have until Christmas, so let me know :)

Happy Sunday!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Favorite Things Friday

One of my all-time favorite things is a good deal. And, Hancock Fabrics had this really great sale on Monday where all of their Butterick, McCall's, and Simplicity patterns were on sale for $1 each. Sweet!! I don't normally buy patterns because they are so, so expensive, but it was too good of a deal...I bought three:
This apron pattern was too cute to pass up. I love the one on the left. I told James I want to be one of those housewives that wears an apron all day. It just seems so handy and would protect my clothes. His concern is that I would look frumpy all day. Valid, but not with a cute apron like this, right? It's McCall's pattern M5997

And, how cute are these vintage softies?! I can picture a whole shelf or windowsill of them in Natalie's room. And, they would make great gifts/humanitarian projects as well.

I also bought one more pattern, but I couldn't save the picture. It's a pattern for reusable grocery bags. It's Simplicity pattern 2806. You can see it HERE.

Another one of my favorite things is working on projects, which is why I've been MIA on this blog lately. I'll have to figure out how to make enough time for working on projects AND blogging about it. Wish me luck :)

This pretty little needle book is one thing I've made. Cross your fingers that I get the how-to up next week :)

And, I've been working like crazy on baby quilts to donate to Lua Nova. All I have left to do on this one is to trim it up and sew on the binding. Then I'll wash and dry it into crinkly goodness.

And this is another quilt top for a strip quilt. I used fabric from my stash for this one. It's bold and a little funky, but I like it...I just hope the girls at Lua Nova do too :) Sometimes "funky" crosses over into "hideous". Hopefully that's not what happened here. hehe.
I also have another quilt in the works. I have all the pieces cut out, but I still need to piece, quilt and bind it.

Happy Friday!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Favorite Things Friday: Children's Book Edition

Every Christmas Eve, we give our kids one gift to open. They each get a new book. Even James and I give each other a book. Why? you ask. Well, we want our kids to love books and reading. And, after a lot of thought, we realized that one way to instill a love of books is to establish fun traditions involving reading and books, thus the Christmas Eve tradition was born.

Books are important to me. I love books. I mean, I really love books. After reading a book, I feel like I have a whole new set of friends. The characters in a book are more than just characters, they become real people to me. I spent many happy hours reading as a child, a teenager, and now an adult. Not only are they entertaining, but you can learn so much from them, even fiction books. I like to read the Little Women series by Louisa May Alcott over and over again, because it teaches me how to be a good mom and how to raise amazing kids. Books are magical, and I want our kids to feel the same way about them.

Plus, I could never sleep on Christmas Eve...actually, I still can't. I get way too excited. I figured that there's a good chance that our kids may be the same way, so I'd help them out by giving them a book to read if they're not going to sleep :)

Since we love books so much, and Christmas is coming up, I thought I'd share some of our favorites with you, and you can share your favorites with me:) We have lots and lots and lots of books, and these are the ones that are most requested for me to read. And as an adult, I enjoy them too.

Here they are:

I bought the libray bound edition of this book from Barnes and Noble, so instead of a paperback, we have a nice hardcover copy. My friend, Anna, told me about this book, and we all LOVE it. It's a lot of fun.

My parents bought this book for Matthew when he was a baby, and it's still a hit. It's well loved and I don't think we'll ever get tired of this one.

This is a fun advnture book with great illustrations. The little boys in your house will love it.

Who doesn't love the story of the Little Engine That Could? And, this one has simply gorgeous illustrations. We love it.

Suggle Puppy and Blue Hat, Green Hat (below) are two more of our favorite Sandra Boynton books.

The Piggy in the Puddle is a fun book to read out loud. My younger sister loved it when she was a little girl. She would check it out from the library over and over again. I think it spent the better part of five years at our house :) My mom bought it for our boys a couple of years ago, and they love it, too.

The Magic Treehouse books are great for beginner readers. Matthew started reading them last year, as a kindergartner and I think they're terrific. Their simple plots make it easy for young readers to follow and their magical adventures are a lot of fun.

So, what children's books do you love?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Service Sunday

(Image of a mother and son at Lua Nova,
via Barefoot in the Kitchen, photo by Renato Stockler)

Every Sunday, I share with you ways to give service. Mostly they are ways to serve through sewing and crafting, because that is what I have a passion for, and it's a way to turn my hobbies into something more meaningful. I share opportunities with you hoping to inspire you and to show you that there are lots of ways to help. Obviously there's no pressure to participate. I don't participate in all of them. I'm certainly not perfect at service, but I give when I can. However, the service opportunity that I'm telling you about today has really touched my heart, and I will be participating in this one. Join me if you can :)

The detes:

I follow a blog called A Room Somewhere. On Friday, she posted about her amazing sister, Julianne, who travels around the world helping disadvantaged women. Currently Julianne is in Brazil, and in her own words, this is what she is doing (I lifted this from Julianne's other sister's blog. Julianne explains it best, so I hope she doesn't mind me re-posting this) :

"Lua Nova is a non-profit organization based outside of Sao Paulo, Brazil that houses and rehabilitates adolescent mothers in recovery from drug use, prostitution, homelessness, abuse, and abandonment. Many all of the above. The process of recovering from a drug addiction, forced prostitution or domestic abuse is already a challenge of Everest proportions, but couple such events with the fact that you are only 16, your family is almost entirely absent and abusive, and on top of everything you are now a mother.

How can you begin to heal from such a convolution of circumstances? How does one cope with forced motherhood borne out of trauma and violence? At such a young age? With the emotional health and stability of these mothers teetering in such precarious realms, the potential to be a fully engaged mother is muted or even non-existent. In most cases, the girls come to Lua Nova with no connection whatsoever to their children, as they themselves are in the process of recovering from horrific personal experiences of pain and suffering. Neglect is a huge issue: not only were the girls themselves neglected by their own families and impoverished communities, but now their own fragile psychological health renders it nearly impossible for them to care for their children in a meaningful way.

My role in the organization is to design a systematic therapy program to help the girls form a stronger bond with their kids. Help them break through their emotional trauma and bolster their capacity as mothers. Intimidating? Heavens yes. I do this by holding group support sessions with the girls to start building up their self-esteem and confidence as individuals and as mothers. The sessions I’m designing rely a great deal on art therapy and playful activities in order to help the girls connect and engage with the objectives of the project in an active way. I’m fighting apathy, shyness, anger, peer pressure and general mental instability in trying to steer the girls into caring for and engaging with this new life [and child] of theirs. A life without the crutch of drugs or violence. And one in which love and connection with a sweet new child is the new centerpiece. This is an opportunity for the girls to break out of the poverty cycle of drugs and abuse and begin life with a strong sense of purpose... It is not only the beginning of their childrens' lives, but also their own."

Pretty heart-rending, right? Over at her sister Stephanie's blog, you can find details on a project that they're working on that involves scrapbooking. If you're interested, jump on over by clicking HERE.

I was so moved by it all that I contacted Julianne and asked if they had a need for anything else. She told me that right now there are five pregnant girls, and though all their needs are covered, everything is communal and though usable, also very worn. She said that if I had the inclination/means, it would be so nice for the expectant moms to have some things for their babies - new things just for them. She thought it would help them get excited about having their babies and encourage bonding from birth. And I think she's right. Having some nice things for your baby does make the job of being a mom a little easier. So, I'll be getting together some things to send over, and thought I would just throw it out there if any of you would like to help as well...absolutely no pressure or anything :) They don't know the sex of any of the babies, so gender neutral would work, or if we could get together five things for girl babies and five things for boy babies, we could cover our bases and then they'd also have extra for any other babies that might be born. If you're interested, please let me know and I'll try and coordinate our efforts. We have until Christmas to get things together. I can't seem to get these girls out of my mind, and want to do everything I can to help them.
If you want to read more about Lua Nova, and Julianne's experiences, click HERE.

As always, have a happy Sunday :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Favorite Things Friday: Japanese Edition

So, I'm revealing another one of my obsessions, well almost obsession. Almost because I've never actually sewn anything from one of these books, but I want to. I really, really want to. I've been hearing a lot about Japanese pattern books lately, and I love to look through them online. They're in Japanese, but word on the street is that you don't have to know Japanese to understand them. They apparently have very detailed diagrams that make them easy to follow. I hope to take a stab at it soon :)

This book has the most adorable little girl clothes. I totally ♥ these patterns!! You can find the book HERE.

The dresses in this book are simple and feminine. I don't love all the patterns in this one, but the ones I like, I LOVE. You can find it HERE.

There are more pretty dresses in this book. These two are my favorite. You can find the book HERE.

The next few pattern books come from the Etsy shop This And That From Japan. You can find the shop HERE.
How cool to make your own eco bags!

These stuffed toys are adorable.

The motifs in this crochet book are gorgeous.

LOVE it!!
Have any of you tried Japanese sewing or crochet patterns?