Thursday, January 5, 2017

A special gift for a special friend (Quilt)


You guys, I am so in love with this quilt.  It turned out better than I could have hoped.  Plus, the bright rainbow colors help to brighten up these cold, dark winter days!


The back features Dr. Seuss fabric because the recipient of this quilt is an avid reader just like me and I knew she would love it as much as I did.


It's been a LONG time since I finished a quilt.  I think my last quilt was for Baby Brennan and I finished it when I was on maternity leave with Hazel.  I've spent a ton of time this past year knitting and I'd almost forgotten how much I loved to quilt.  This one came together pretty fast once I had the fabric cut.  Each of the squares was 2.5 inches (2 inches finished) and the blocks are made of "scrap" fabric.


Scrap quilts sound easy right?  You just use what you've got on hand....which, while that is true, this one proved especially hard because I was trying really hard for contrast within  my blocks.  So, not only did I need 13 different fabrics for each block, but I needed to colors to be similar.  So similar greens or reds...meaning I had to cut a LOT of fabric to get to this point.  I figured, as long as I was cutting I may as well cut enough to make a few so, I've got piles and piles of 2.5 inch squares ready for my next scrap quilt.


I've learned that I really enjoy scrap work when it's organized, like this quilt.  It's just a random mish-mash of fabrics, but it's coordinated and used as the focal point by incorporating a lot of white space, allowing your eye to focus on the bright spots.  I've also learned that I love working with 2.5 inch squares.  This is the third quilt I've done in this size and they blocks are just big enough that they are fiddly.  Finally, if you can't tell by now, I love color off set by a good neutral.

After quilting for nearly 4 years now I'm finally finding my groove.  Here's to 2017 being the year of the quilt.  Hazel's photo project quilt is on deck next and I've already picked out the pattern.  Next step: cutting.  So. Much. Cutting.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Christmas 2016


Yes - I'm a little late in posting this, but it was too good to keep for myself.  Christmas was just as magical as I'd hoped.  I took very few pictures because I wanted to be there, soaking it all up and not worried about getting it all on film.  But, I had to get at least one of these two cuties by the tree before the present madness began.

Santa brought two big scores - a Hatchimal, which Abby desperately wanted ever since she saw the add on the front of the Target toy book.  Of course it was the years hottest toy and Santa had to work extra hard to get on for her (of course...).  The second big winner of the year was Sky High Bridge Jump.  It's a Thomas the Train toy that involves a train jumping nearly 3 feet to the next track.  Both the kids (and the dad's) loved it.

We spent Christmas day at home in our jammies with our most favorite people...our family.  We ate way too much food, drank a few too many beers and enjoyed our tiny little bubble of Christmas.  It was amazing and Abby is already asking how many more days until Christmas again.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Tree Cutting


There is no reason that I've waited this long to post these pictures, other than the fact that I just sort of forgot!  I figured I better get them posted before Christmas has come and gone!


We've been cutting a tree with Dan and Ellyn ever since I started dating Ryan.  Well, to be fair, he's been cutting trees for Christmas his entire life and I just sort of became part of the tradition - and what a fun tradition it is!!


A few years back the tree farm they'd been cutting at for years closed up shop and we ended up finding a new farm up in Woodstock.  As we moved from the townhouse in Aurora, to our first home in Hampshire, and then here, to Marengo, we've been moving closer and closer to our tree farm.  It's worked out great for us!  We're less than 20 minutes away from it now!


We like this place, Oney's in Woodstock, because we've always been able to find good trees and because they have some really cute things for the kids.  Mrs. Claus is there for the girls to talk to (scratch that "must do" off the holiday activity list) and there is a cute little barn with ornaments, wreaths, hot chocolate, warm pretzels and popcorn.


This year we even had Auntie Erin out cutting with us (we are SO HAPPY to have her back in Chicago!).  While Ryan was hauling our tree back to the truck Dan cut this tree for Erin and she and I carried it most of the way back ourselves.  Hazel helped...sort of :)  


Abby was a pretty good trooper.  Since I had Hazel and Ryan was on tree cutting/moving duty she ended up walking for a good bit of the day.  She wasn't super happy about it and wanted to ride on Ryan or Dan's shoulders the entire time, but with a little reminder that Santa was always watching...and a bribe of hot chocolate and popcorn when we were done, she managed to make it through (eye roll!).



So - three trees for three different houses.  Ours was up and decorated by the end of the weekend.  We put it in the basement again this year.  Mostly because we spend a ton of time downstairs and also because we're hosting Christmas day, as we have in the past, so having the tree in the space where we spend most of our time lounging, eating and drinking is perfect.


Funny story.  When we sat down to eat our snacks Abby insisted that we needed to pray first.  I think it's mostly because she led the prayer on Thanksgiving, just a few days before, and she loved being the center of attention.  But, try telling a 1.5 year old that she can NOT in fact eat the cookie on the plate in front of her until every sits down and Abby prays.  Yeah, right....!!!  Everyone else waited :)


One of my favorite parts of tree cutting is ticking this little tradition off the list at the same time.  Finding a Santa to visit and waiting around in line to see him can take forever (as most parents know)...so being able to see Mrs. Claus right here on tree cutting day is a win/win for me!  Abby did so much better this year, she knew what she wanted to ask for (a Hatchimal) and she wasn't too shy.   She wrote her name on Santa's Good List and even Hazel gave us a smile for pictures.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas prep 2016


For quite a few years now, my parents have hosted Thanksgiving at their house.  We're so lucky that Dan/Ellyn and even Erin are willing to make the drive to Freeport so we can all be together in one place on Thanksgiving.


The day after, we've started full on holiday prep - starting with the girls making ginger bread houses. But, before I get to that project, let me brag about this pjs for a minute.  My mom used to make us pjs when we were younger.  I don't know that I remember getting them every year but I do remember going to help pick out the fabric, helping to cut out the patterns etc.  I remember one pair in particular that were for summer and had a beach scene on them.  I am pretty sure I wore them the morning Mom found the turtle nest while we were at Pawleys Island).  Anyways, this year, I asked Mom if she would be able to make Abby a nightgown and Hazel some pj pants to match.  Not only did she get a set down for my girls, but she got a set done for Kayden/Lincoln too.  So cute...right?


I think this latest adventure in sewing finally pushed Mom over the top to get herself a new machine - she got hers when they got married and she said it was 20 years old at that point!  I'm impressed it made it this far - but it's time to retire that baby and upgrade!


Come on, aren't these just the cutest pj's?  I'm jealous I didn't get a snuggly pair in my size!


Onto gingerbread houses. We've gotten smarter over the years and when I stumbled on these pre-assembled kits (including candy and frosting) for under $10 at Target, I snatched them up and knew we'd be set for Thanksgiving weekend.


Asking 4 year-olds to stop focusing on the candy and take a quick picture is just NOT going to happen.  I don't even know why I try ;)

Next year Hazel should be old enough to get in on the fun.  The cute house is now displayed on our dining room table along with the plate and milk bottle for Santa's cookies.  Slowly but surely, we're getting ready for Christmas over here!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Beer Tasting 2016 (with a little Trick or Treating mixed in...)


We've been doing annual beer tasting (or Oktoberfest) for quite a few years now...could it really be 10?  Someone will have to look back and remind me.  Anyways, we've been doing it for a LONG time and, like my friend Lindsay always says, if there is one thing my family does well, it's traditions...so, there you have it.  Last year I did a much better job of taking pictures but guys, the group is getting bigger, the kids are getting older and I'm doing a LOT of pouring and organizing during the event.  Someone else will have to take camera duty next year.

We had 14 beer entered, and one final winner.  Actually, dare I say, a Three-peat winner?  Andy (bottom center) has imported the winning beer three years in a row from Tryptic brewing in southern Illinois.  Well, I suppose technically, Bart entered the winner the first year, but Andy supplied it.  All different beers, all up against whatever other random beers the rest of us bring.  Three years running.  It's actually quite interesting if you think about it.

So - back to southern Illinois the paddle goes...to live for another year until we do it all over again.


During the half time break of beer tasting we took the kids trick or treating.  It actually worked out perfectly for a few reasons.  The adults need a break to eat, the kids do NOT find beer tasting interesting so this is something fun for them to do, and I'm going to miss Halloween this year because I'll be in Texas for work.  So, I was thankful to get the opportunity to snap a few quick pictures of my peanuts all dressed up and ready for Halloween.


Hazel was less than excited about the whole thing.  She was so tired and went to bed immediately following these pictures.


This year Abby said she wanted to be a dinosaur and wouldn't you know, Ellyn was able to find not just one but TWO cute, warm dino costumes for the girls.  Hazel doesn't have her own opinion yet so she gets to be whatever Abby wants her to be (for this year...).


Aren't these kids just the cutest?  The trick or treating was close by at a campground and it was just enough activity for the little kids.  The bigger kids went back out a second time while the adults finished up beer tasting but all in all, I think this little addition was a great one for 2016.


Happy beer drinking and Happy Halloween to all!!