Wednesday, November 30, 2011

{Tutorial} Advent Calendar, a Felt Wall Hanging

If you stopped by yesterday, I showed you my Advent Calendar that I made last year.  And then I promised you a "how-to" for it today.  Well, I rounded up some pictures I took while I was making it and collaged them to give you a quick tutorial.

I promise you, I just whipped this up.  On the 30th of November.  I finished all but assembling the ornaments, to include the hand sewing of the numbers.  But by the 5th it was complete.

  {Tutorial by Pictorial} Advent Calendar- Felt Wall Hanging

To make this I used:  fabric for the background, felt, interfacing, heat and bond, scrapbooking brads, rick rack, and embroidery thread.
1.  Grab some supplies.  2.  Decide on a size for the tree and base everything else off that.  3.  Cut two felt trees; light and dark green.  4.  Cut each in 3 pieces- take into account 1" of overlap when you plan your cuts.  Or not and just wing it!  5. Attach the thirds, bottom edges overlap.  You will only use three pieces of trees here.  I cut strips of Heat and Bond to attach them.  6.  Decide where you want your brads to go.  7.  Poke brads through the felt.  8.  I thought it could use some garland (rick rack).  9.  Again, I used tiny strips of heat and bond to hold in place.  Then sew down the rick rack.

10.  Lay out tree on background fabric and mark your lines for the ornaments to hang on the bottom.  11.  Sew some trim (rick rack) along the horizontal lines.  12.  It's probably safe to attach the tree now!  I cut pieces of Heat and Bond to hold it in place.  12.  Then sew the felt tree to the background.  13.  Add brads to the horizontal rows.  14.  Make a backing piece and line with a medium to stiff interfacing.  13.  Sew backing to the front panel.  I did 3-rows of stitching to be "decorative".  15.  Make a casing at the top for a dowel to slide in.  16.  Make some felt ornaments.  25 to be exact!

It isn't too too late to start this.  You can get the tree part done pretty fast.  Then just make the ornaments.

Linking here:
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advent Calendar (my felt creation from 2010)

Hey!  Good to be back after such a whirlwind Thanksgiving Break!  We drove to be with our family- an 18 hour drive- and we drove it all in one day!  Holy cow!  Left at 3:30am (Central Time) and pushed on until 10:30pm (Eastern Time).  With three kids...I still don't know how we did it!  We drove it in two days on our way back.  (We aren't that crazy!)  But now it is back to the grind at home.  We have been feverishly putting up Christmas decorations before my husband has to go out of town again.  

I pulled this little beauty out of a storage bin today!

It's my:
 Homemade Advent   Calendar.

 I made this last year just off the cuff!

And I started it just hours before we needed to start using it!

I still remember buying all the supplies with only a vague idea of what I wanted it to look like.  For weeks, though, I had been admiring  this one which was inspired by this one.  (These two are beautiful and neat and perfection!)  I decided not to set myself up for failure disappointment, and took a more relaxed approach.  
I was going for a crafty-felty-whimsy-colorful motif!  

I remember I was dreading all of the hand-sewing that was involved (because I am quite allergic to that!).  But then I found it was actually much easier than I was imagining!

Come back tomorrow and I will show you how I made this!  I am working on a pictorial for it right now.  You will see how simple it is to make!
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Friday, November 18, 2011

{The Friday 5}:: Things I am Loving Today

Oh wow, it has been a long week!  My husband gets back in town today (hallelujah!) and boy is he going to be shocked at what a mess the house is!!  He was so, so, so thoughtful before he left- he got the house tidied up, caught me up on all of the laundry, and pulled down the Christmas decorations from the attic so I could, you know, decorate all week.  So funny!  But now, laundry hampers are full and heavy, food crumbs are all over the kitchen floor, half the kids' toys are in the living room.  OH, and I started assembling bunkbeds which were delivered this week and I am only half done.  So maybe only one kid sleeps in a proper bed right now.  Maybe the other two are on mattresses on the floor and I have a half-assembled bed in my foyer area.   

But this morning, I had no time.  Sorry, but yoga class is waaaaay more "important" than scrubbing my house : )   Sometimes I stress about how I can never seem to have my Shtuff together!  But today, I am just laughing it off.  Ahuhhuhuha!   

I wanted to share my "5 Things I am Loving Today" with you:

1.  My new purse.  It's pretty.  I needed a new one.  More grown up.  Less junior high book-bag-looking.  Let's just say that I could have spent way more but I got it at an outlet last Friday.  Finally took her for a spin yesterday.  Felt so special!  
2.  Oatmeal.  I bought every flavor in hopes that my kids would share my craving for a hot bowl on these cooler mornings.  Even found chocolate chip oatmeal.  
3.  Glitter.  The Martha Stewart glitter to be precise.  It's not a new product, just new to me.  Everything I look at, I envision it glittered.  I am making a hit list.  
4.  Almond Milk.  It's not necessarily the milk that love, it's the way I feel since I have switched from cow's milk.
5.  Fleece Pants.  Ok, now you think I am really weird!  I have two pairs and I wish I could wear them everyday!!  One pair is 6yrs old from Campmor the others are Nike.  I think they are supposed to be used for cold weather running or cross country skiing.  I just wear them around the house.  Eating my oatmeal and almond milk.  Wearing my glittered hairclips.  Purse sitting someplace where I can admire it.  Need.more.fleece.pants!

Have a great GREAT weekend! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Real Simple's" Tomato Soup

Last month I told you how I was going to go right down the list of quick dinners from Real Simple Magazine's  list of easy dinner recipes... Well, not exactly knocking them out!  I have made about 4 of them.  I have to make them when my husband is home (which is rare these days) because my kids don't have the appreciation for the food.  


This recipe here, might have changed my life.  I don't know if I can ever buy a can of tomato soup again.  I am sure I will.  But I will regret it.  The soup recipe is e.a.s.y with a capital "E"!!  And delicious, delicious, delicious!! freezes great!!!!  (Bonus.)

**Only one thing...I did not make the roast beef and horseradish paninis to go with the soup.  I made ham and swiss paninis- more of a crowd-pleaser in our house.

Tomato Soup With Roast Beef, Cheddar, and Horseradish Panini
Serves 4Hands-On Time: 20m Total Time: 45m



  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes (with their juices), broth, thyme, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Working in batches, in a blender, puree the mixture until smooth.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and horseradish. Form sandwiches with the bread, roast beef, Cheddar, arugula, and half the horseradish mixture. Heat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium heat and cook the sandwiches until the cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Top the soup with the remaining horseradish mixture and serve with the sandwiches.
Kate's Two Cents:  Simple to make this way (vs. the canned).  Where has this been all my life?!  The taste is like you would expect in a restaurant!  I didn't measure the thyme.  I eyeballed it and probably used more...but it was perfect to me.  Everyone loved it!  

Next time I will:  not be lazy and dump the whole box of chicken broth in the pan because I didn't want to measure out 3 1/2 cups.  Or maybe I will!  The soup was a bit thinner than it was supposed to be, but still awesome!   Also I will probably double it and have more to freeze.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What to Wear :: Family Picture Outfit Ideas

What to Wear :: Family Picture
I created this at

What to Wear :: Family Picture by craftwhatever 
I think I made a new friend...her name is Polyvore.  She helped me make this awesome picture you see here!

Such a neat-o little tool I found at!  

I have been trying to come up with outfits and color combinations for our family picture all day long (because I am going to take it next weekend, which is another story).  Mostly this was all going on in my head.  But I started out by raiding everyone's closets and grabbing things I thought might work.  Then I laid them out across my bed.  Overlapping and overlaying and under-envisioning.  I have most of the clothing pieces to make a complete outfit set, but I still have shopping to do and couldn't picture what our picture was going to look like with one shirt missing in the line up across my bed.

Then after the kids were in bed, I hopped over to polyvore and checked it out.  Man O Man!  I just clicked on "create" and started searching and dragging and dropping.  I wanted to start with our clothing as the base and then add on from there.  So I searched for each article of clothing from each individual store but found that was too tedious for what I was trying to accomplish.  I just wanted an inspiration board, if you will, of what we might look like all together.  So I just searched through Old Navy brand clothing and then narrowed down by colors or key words.  Then I resized each piece so I could get a better visual of we might look like.  Then after I finished it, and I liked it, I registered for an account.  Then I sent it to blogger as a draft right from polyvore!  Too easy!  

All day I just couldn't picture it in my head...maybe you are gifted like that...but this polyvore thing is exactly what I needed!  I can see LOTS more of this in the future.  Oh, can you imagine if this was around when you were in high school!!!!  

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Friday, November 11, 2011

{Friday 5} iPhone Apps for New Users :: Must Have Apps

Apparently, I have several friends and a sister (lucky ducks) who are the proud new owners of iPhones.So they waited to jump on the iPhone train until now, which they are smart, because this new iPhone 4s is very, very, very awesome.I have been an iPhone user now for 2 yrs and so I have been asked a few times in the recent weeks, where to start with apps.

But you have to know me, I am a Apple-lover. Do you remember the first iMac...I had bondi blue.

I have attended MacWorld Expo before. Took leave from work to do that!

However, despite my affinity to the brand, I did not (initially) want this phone.  I even complained about it after I got it.  Soon, I couldn't live without it!!  Also, I don't pay for apps. Okay, I may have bought a couple but they were either super awesome or super necessary. My advice is always to start with the free ones...try out the features and see what you like/need...and then buy one if you need to.
I dedicate my {Friday 5} to all the new iPhone owners.

{Friday 5} iPhone Apps: Get these first!

1. Apps I cannot function without:

Around Me- Uses GPS to find anyplace you need! Pulls up the map location, contact info, etc. You can use it to search key words ("coffee" or "pizza") and for different cities.
Craigslist- Better than computer searching; save searches and search multiple cities at one time
Groupon- You've got to check the deals!! And it is easier to search other cities using this app.
Target- Fastest way to access the weekly ad and check product availability in your stores

2. Apps that will make you so happy you have an iPhone:

Pandora- Internet radio at your fingertips
USPS- find post offices and blue mailboxes anywhere
Red Laser- scan barcodes and find that product online and locally...great for cost comparing
Red Box- You will want this if your kids watch DVDs while traveling.  It is also perfect for seeing what is at your closest Red Box OR if you are looking for a particular movie you can find out which Red Box has it (saves driving around).  PLUS, you can reserve that movie from your phone!
Shazam- Just hold this up to music you're listening to and it tells you the song title and artist.

3. You will need some basics, too.
Look for your bank's app (I can even deposit checks with mine), phone service provider app, local news, weather.

For weather, I like Weather Bug. My husband uses AccuWeather and it is good too.

4. You need some "specialty" apps, too. At the moment, I am using these like crazy!

Black Friday- This has/will have all the Black Friday ads listed!  I have already started making my list in this app.
mGifts- This is basically a gift organizer.  I love it because when we are out at a store, I take pictures with my phone of toys my kids might want for Christmas.  When I take pictures within this app, it stores them there- not in my camera roll where my kids will see them!  So this app keeps Christmas a surprise!!!
Amazon- I can't stop reading reviews and searching for gifts!  Plus 1-click ordering is super easy (you might want to turn this off if you think your kids might rack up a huge bill ordering every Barbie doll or Star Wars figure by mistake).

5. And please, get yourself some addictive apps and games!!

Pinterest- the newest time suck, but maybe the best thing yet on the internet!
Bubble Ball, Unblock Me, Word Warp- games; I may or may not believe that I am the world champion of these games.  

Happy App-ing you new iPhone owners!!!!
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