Tuesday, November 30, 2010
For the past two years Joel and I have not been able to carry out one of our favorite Christmas traditions because we moved in early December each year. I know, not really the smartest planning on our part. However, now that we are settled, our Annual Gift Exchange party is on!
The invitation shows this is our first annual party, but that's just because it's our first official one here in Utah. For three of the years we lived in Florida we threw a big Christmas party for our friends and had a blast each time as we planned a different theme. We are recycling this theme from our first year, but we think it's definitely worth repeating. So, here are the instructions for our guests:
We invite you to take part in a fun holiday tradition.
To gather as friends at the close of the year
And join in a game where you will really have to listen.
An ordinary gift-exchange? Oh, we think not!
This present-swapping amusement has been changed just a little.
To avoid a battle over the packages brought,
The gift you leave with will be determined through riddle.
So do your best to put into this box,
A 15-dollar item that would be something worth keeping.
A gift that is more unusual than a pair of socks,
And that won’t leave the recipients bitter and weeping.
And for those with a desire to really impress,
Your added decoration to this box may win you a prize.
But, don’t worry, it’s not something over which to stress,
Just an added bonus for the couple who really tries.
How about you? What are your favorite holiday traditions?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
This post has been formulating in my brain for a couple of weeks now, but I keep putting it off for a variety of reasons. One of my reasons is that I wanted this post to be perfect; perfectly expressed words with perfectly edited photographs to illustrate what I’m saying and a perfectly designed downloadable pattern to include on the sidebar. But, I realized this “perfection” I’ve been waiting for is unrealistic with everything else we have going on and that this topic was too important for me to put off any longer.
Joel and I have two daughters; two daughters who are both beautiful, both smart and both inherently unique individuals that we love dearly. We also have two amazing little boys, who I will probably write about at a later time, but today, my focus is on these precious, delicate (or sometimes not so much) females with whom we have been blessed to help teach, nurture and prepare to become beautiful, independent and, hopefully, confident young ladies and women.
For me, the responsibility of raising girls has seemed a bit more challenging than raising boys so far. Joel and I have had countless conversations discussing our parenting techniques and what we feel is most important for us to be teaching our children. We both feel a great deal of concern about the world in which our children, and especially our daughters, are growing up.
So, when I saw the book “Bringing Up Girls,” by Dr. James Dobson a couple of weeks ago at the library, I promptly checked it out, hoping his experience and wisdom would tell me exactly what I need to do to successfully raise my daughters to know of their intrinsic worth. He did just that.
Nothing Dr. Dobson writes in his book is an entirely foreign idea to me. In fact, my parents instilled all these same values and moral standards in me as I was growing up. These values are also highly emphasized within the faith we practice. I grew up knowing I was a daughter of God and, as such, had high expectations for what I would accomplish in life, high expectations for the man I would one day marry and high expectations for the family I would one day create.
In his book, Dr. Dobson talks about the peril our girls face in our world today and that the lack of femininity in our culture that has resulted since the feminist movement of the 1960’s is partly to blame. He says,
“Girls were considered far too passive, frilly, compliant, and motherly. That had to change. They needed to be taught to be aggressive, tough, tomboyish, unemotional, and, yes, much more masculine.”
He goes on to explain in the next two chapters and site research demonstrating why it is so important to not continue this trend. He mentions how what used to be mandatory homemaking classes taught in our schools, have mostly been canceled and “that America became the worse for it.”
So, after that long-winded introduction, I am finally getting to the main purpose of this post. I was one of those girls who, while growing up, did not always appreciate the lessons in femininity and homemaking skills my mother deemed so valuable. Sewing was one of those skills she tried her best to teach to an uncooperative teen-aged girl. I wish I had paid better attention now, but I’m quickly making up for my lack of interest then and am trying to learn all I can about the art of sewing.
Two weeks ago Joel had the opportunity to speak to a group of educators from throughout the state of Utah. These women teach Family and Life Science courses at the middle school, high school and collegiate levels. At the conclusion of his presentation, several of the women came up to thank Joel for supporting their conference because they feel like what they are teaching is under attack of being removed entirely from the schools. One woman told Joel that Utah is one of the few states left where Home Economics courses are still taught in public schools.
I would love to have attended the conference with Joel, but while he was there, I was undertaking an ambitious project of my own; teaching 11 girls between the ages of 8-12 how to sew. Not only was I teaching them how to sew, I was teaching them how to sew a project that may not have been the most suitable for the age group. However, all of them loved the experience and were so proud of what they accomplished. I’m grateful I had six other women there to assist with this frenetic activity.
We sewed bags for carrying their scriptures to church. I gave them two designs to choose from (next time I will present one option!) and we spent one activity cutting out their bags and a longer activity sewing them. While it got a bit crazy at times trying to direct six different helpers and 11 girls how to complete the project, it was highly satisfying to use my talents in helping these girls see the value in sewing as a skill for them to learn.
I don’t think every girl needs to learn the art of sewing (and neither does Dr. Dobson), but I do think it’s important to give our girls the opportunity. I want my girls to be excited about learning what are most commonly seen as feminine talents and skills. I want them to know that they can find great satisfaction in cooking, cleaning, sewing or any homemaking activity because all of these skills will be invaluable to them as mothers one day. I want their femininity to shine through in everything they do, whether it’s playing goalkeeper in a soccer game, excelling in a science class or baking a cake. Being feminine does not make the feminine sex weak or inferior in any way.
If you're interested in the patterns and instructions for these bags, we'll work on a PDF file for you to download, but it will probably not be until after Thanksgiving. Joel and I are working on some other big projects to feature here in the next couple of weeks, and I'm too excited about them at the moment to stop!
Friday, September 17, 2010
It has been a while since I've posted. Sorry about that. Our minds are always racing with ideas to post here, but Joel has been preoccupied with designing a new spring collection, and I have been preoccupied with offering my two bits to the design process.
I did take a couple of hours the other day though to start decorating for Halloween. Ever since Joel came out with his first collection, I've have wanted to use his black and linen prints from the Manzanita Collection for a Halloween project. It has only taken me four years to figure out what that project would be. I didn't end up using as much fabric as I originally intended, but I LOVE how these three frames turned out.
If you would like to create these yourself, here are the supplies you need (for one frame):
• 5" x 7" piece of Mat board
• Utility knife
• Cutting mat
• Spray adhesive
• 6" x 8" piece of fabric
• 8 1/2" x 11" piece of muslin
• 8 1/2" x 11" piece of cardstock
• Masking tape
• Double-sided tape
• Hot glue gun and glue
• Black painted and distressed 5" x 7" frame
• "Wicked Awesome" Font, by Rhonna Farrer (download here)
Step 1: Choose the image you want from the collection of fonts and size it to fit a 3 1/2" x 5" opening.
Step 2: Tape the four sides of the piece of muslin to the cardstock.
Step 3: Feed your muslin paper face down into an inkjet printer and print out your image. You may have to nudge the paper a bit for it to feed through properly. Cut your piece of muslin down to 5" x 7".
Step 4: Measure a 3 1/2" x 5" box in the middle of your fabric piece 3/4" from each side and cut out.
Step 5: Use a utility knife to cut a 3 1/2" x 5" box in the center of your piece of mat board. Spray one side of the board with adhesive and place that side onto your piece of fabric. You should have about 1/4" of fabric remaining in the center.
Step 6: Spray the back side of your mat board with adhesive and fold the fabric over the sides of the board. You will need to cut a small diagonal slit at each of the inside corners to get the fabric to lay flat. You can also taper the outer corners to reduce the bulkiness there.
Step 7: Place a strip of double-sided tape along each side on the back of the mat board. Center the matting over your printed muslin image, then flip over to press the fabric into the tape.
Step 8: Hot glue rhinestones where you would like on your image then you're ready to frame it! That's it. Pretty easy. You could easily turn this project into a decorative pillow or quilt square instead.
My favorite print of this collection was the black and linen Damask. Apparently that was a favorite for many people, as we still receive requests for this print almost weekly. Unfortunately, it's been out of print for a while now.
However, we are thrilled to announced that a small collection of Joel's favorite prints, "Aviary II" will be available within the next couple of months and will include the black and linen Damask! You'll have to wait and see what other favorite prints are included in the collection and the new colorways, but the name of the collection should give you a hint as to another favorite that will be included.
Until then, we hope you're gearing up for all the holidays like we are. Isn't it so exciting? I love this time of year!
Friday, August 20, 2010
Today Joel and I are celebrating our thirteenth wedding anniversary! I love this day because I'm always flooded with memories of the day we were married; it was my very favorite day. Ever. If I could choose one day out of my life to live over again, it would definitely be August 20, 1997 because everything about that day was perfect.
Joel has a remarkable ability to give really thoughtful gifts, and he has given me some incredible ones over the years. My absolute favorite though is the drawing pictured above of the temple where we were married. He spent about three months secretly working on this while we were engaged, while we were both going to school full time, while we were both working, and while we were both trying to spend every spare second of extra time we had together. I have no idea where he found the time to complete it.
When he surprised me with the framed drawing a few days before our wedding, I was speechless. I'm embarrassed to say what I gave him because it was so lame in comparison. So I won't. I have tried, but never been successful at achieving his level of thoughtfulness or secrecy when giving him gifts.
I was so sure I had thought of the perfect gift to give him though this year. My excitement got the best of me on Sunday and I asked Joel if I could give him his gift early (I am no good at keeping a secret very long). He was a bit confused when I handed him an envelope, but when he pulled out the card inside emblazoned with the Apple logo on the front, his eyes immediately lit up.
He's been patiently waiting for our wireless phone contract to expire so that he can FINALLY get an iphone. I wanted to give him the real phone, but had to settle for an iphone gift card after securing the real thing proved more difficult than I thought. It's unfortunate that it required so much effort on his part this week to order his phone. But, barring no further issues, he will soon happily join the throng of iphone aficionados.
Joel doesn't spend much time anymore creating pieces of fine art, but his drawing skills are clearly evident in his fabric designs. Most of his designs are created first as sketches that he then refines on the computer. His Sparrow, Columbine, Damasks, Orchid, Antler Damask, Floral Drop, Sunflower, Handpicked Daisies, Majestic Oak, and Dogwood Bloom all began as large, hand-drawn designs that he then scannned into the computer. All of his other designs are a hybrid of sketching, photography and graphic design. It's a fascinating process to watch.
In fact, I'm currently watching the process unfold again as he works on a new collection, and I can't wait to see the final product. And, like I do each time Joel creates anything, I'm sure I will fall in love with his art and with him all over again.
Happy Anniversary to us!
Monday, August 9, 2010
Thanks for entering the contest and for all of your compliments on the baby blankets. The photo above shows the butterfly pattern I used from the book. We loved reading your comments about favorite baby gifts. I have to say it made me a bit nostalgic thinking about being pregnant with each of our children and remembering the thoughtful gifts we received. Like so many of you, mine and Joel's favorite gifts were those that were homemade.
When I was pregnant with our first son, we were given a quilt that my sister-in-law made with hand-designed blocks by friends and family members. For our first daughter, I was given a beautiful, creamy white afghan and a tied blanket my mom made with some fabric she bought while traveling in Japan. A good friend of mine wrote a beautiful poem for our second daughter, and without my knowing it, had Joel design artwork around the poem; it made me cry. And with our second son, I was given a handmade quilt, the designer of which didn't even realize she had sewn with some of my mother-in-law's fabric.
But, enough of my meandering down Memory Lane. Now onto the primary purpose of this post; announcing our contest winner. We used random.org to select our winner; #117 Tracey. Congratulations! We hope you enjoy your copy of "Sewn Spaces" and that the rest of you get a chance to look through the book at some point as well.
P.S. As I was getting ready to post this, the doorbell rang and once I made my way through the tangle of kids fighting to open the door, I discovered a much-anticipated package: Modern Meadow prints that have been on back order since March! Yes, Joel and I have been waiting patiently for these to arrive, along with everyone else. Now, I can finally get to work creating with Dogwood Bloom and Picnic Plaid in the Pond colorway! Oh happy day. I hope this means that all of you who have been awaiting the arrival of these well-sought-after prints get yours soon as well.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Before summer began, I had extremely grand ambitions of what work-related projects I would be able to accomplish during these school-free days. I had the crazy notion that having my kids home ALL day, EVERY day would somehow make it easier for me to get stuff done. I know. What was I thinking? Now that we’re already seven weeks into summer and I've only managed to complete one thing on my list, I’ve finally realized that I was a bit delusional. For over two months now I’ve been meaning to sew baby blankets to give as gifts for a couple of new additions to our extended family, but I didn’t get around to actually completing them until this week. I made one for our nephew born in June and one for our niece who will be born early this fall. (At least I’m ahead of the game for one of them.)
Both the bird and butterfly appliqué patterns can be found in Joel’s new book, “Sewn Spaces.” I wasn’t sure the appliqué would work on the minky material, but both patterns worked beautifully, and I was really pleased with the result. If you would like to make one yourself, here are the instructions:
1. Copy and size the patterns as desired.
2. Cut a 38” X 32” piece of both the printed fabric and the minky material.
3. Iron a piece of wonder under interfacing on the back of each fabric scrap you are using for the appliqué pieces; trace and cut out your pieces.
4. Peel the backing off of the wonder under and place your pattern pieces where you want on the minky material. Iron the pieces in place, being careful to not iron out the textured dots in the minky material.
5. Sew around each of the appliqué pieces using either a tight zig-zag stitch (as shown on the bird blanket) or an appliqué stitch (as shown on the butterfly blanket).
*I sewed the appliqué stitch about 1/8” from the edge of the butterflies to allow it to fray a little bit.
6. Thread an embroidery needle with three strands of floss (as shown on the bird blanket) or one strand of crewel wool (as shown on the butterfly blanket). Use a stem stitch to embroider both the butterfly antennae and the name.
*For stitching the name, I printed out the font I liked best and traced it onto the material.
* I found that embroidery floss worked much better than the crewel wool. But, if you're stubborn like me and love the aggravation of having to rethread your needle every 5 minutes, go right ahead.
7. With RIGHT sides together, sew around the edges of both the printed and minky fabrics, leaving about a 6” opening on one side to be able to turn the blanket.
8. Turn the blanket and topstitch around the edge of the blanket about 1/2” from the sides.
So, in celebration of the fact that I actually completed a project (or two) in spite of the fact that our kids interrupted me every 10 minutes while I worked, Joel and I are giving away one copy of his book, “Sewn Spaces.” If you would like to enter for a chance to win, leave a comment telling us your favorite baby gift to give, or receive. We’ll announce the winner on Monday, August 9th.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
In all our various roles, Joel and I are always seeking inspiration to do and be the best we can; this is why we decided to include the words "Live Inspired" at the end of every blog post. Inspiration comes in many different forms, is found in a variety of settings, and affects each person in a unique way. This past weekend Joel and I were inspired, in a WHOA kind of way.
We spent several days with our family in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming as we traveled throughout Yellowstone. I've visited Yellowstone before, but for Joel and our children, this was their first experience. All of us were in complete awe of the beauty that surrounded us those four days. I told Joel that Yellowstone had moved into the first-place spot on my list of favorite places. Ever. (Okay, so I haven't been to that many places, but I'm pretty confident it would remain high up on my list even if I were a well-traveled individual).
The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. Everywhere. My favorite spot of all though was The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We hiked down the lower falls lookout trail hoping for a good view of the waterfall. We didn't know it actually brings you right to the edge of the waterfall. It was a little bit freaky standing there with all that water plummeting 60 feet or so below us.
The Celestine Pool mesmerized us, until we found out several people have actually died in this spring. Maybe it looks just a little too inviting.
The views were incredible no matter where we drove. Whether it was tree-covered mountains, blackened forests (from the fire in 1988), or the travertine rock at Mammoth Springs, we were equally stunned by all of them.
The fact that there were active geysers and steaming holes all over the place, made Joel just a tad nervous thinking about just how active of a volcano the whole area is. I'd not recommend watching the movie 2012 before taking a trip to Yellowstone.
The other thing we weren't expecting was to see so much wildlife. We knew we would see bison, but we weren't expecting them to be walking right in front of or to the side of our car. And, we definitely were not expecting to see a black bear foraging for food on the side of the road. We also encountered a bald eagle, swans, elk, coyotes and ospreys.
We spent the last day of our trip horseback riding through the mountains outside West Yellowstone. SOOOO fun! I loved the experience so much I thought about trying to convince Joel that we needed to buy a ranch one day (but then I thought about what winter would be like in southern Montana, and I decided I wouldn't make a very hardy rancher after all).
Joel is about as far from being a cowboy as anyone could possibly be, but HOLY COW, doesn't he play the part well? I kept stealing glances at him the whole day like I was some infatuated school girl. He joked that he wore his city-slicker version of cowboy clothes that day; a Tommy Hilfiger button-up and Guess jeans.
We were fortunate to have Joel's parents and niece and nephew visit us from Florida for this trip, making the whole experience that much more special.
I'm telling you, I would be in high heaven if I could ride through the mountains every day on a horse like this. It was the most serene, yet invigorating adventure.
We had a hard time leaving such a beautiful part of the country. But, if I have any sway in the matter, we'll be going there again. Soon.
We hope all of you will be just as inspired on whatever family vacations you have planned this summer. Take it all in and enjoy whatever beauty surrounds you.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Joel returned from Quilt market around 2:00 in the morning on Sunday. I think. I don’t know. I acknowledged his arrival with a kiss, but then rolled over to return to my blissful state of sleep. After four days of single-parenting, I was really tired. I shuttled kids around to Young Astronauts Club, Webelos Woods, piano lessons and two soccer games (one of which was hailed and rained upon the entire hour), spent an entire day sewing with my mom, spent two afternoons trying to clean the house after the kids tore through it like a tornado on the aforementioned sewing day and planned out the entire summer for keeping the kids entertained.
Oh yeah. And my exhaustion may have had something to do with the fact that I woke up to screaming children about four times each night while Joel was gone and felt so displaced when the bed was empty next to me. I never get accustomed to sleeping by myself when Joel is away.
Anyhow, I know Joel was exhausted also. He had worked late almost every night for a week leading up to his trip, and he NEVER sleeps well away from home (I guess he misses me just as much as I miss him). So, it was no surprise to me that he came home with a doozy of a head-cold that started to hit him his final day in Minneapolis.
Aside from his illness, he was excited about the trip and having reconnected with many people in the industry, as well as with having made a lot of new connections. Since I’ve yet to experience quilt market in person, I plied him for every possible detail so I could vicariously walk the show in my mind. I can’t wait until the show comes close to home next spring in Salt Lake. I will DEFINITELY be there…in our own booth!
Anyway, prior to the craziness that led up to Joel’s trip, I sewed some placemats for the Mother’s Day dinner we hosted for my mom. Joel took one with him to Market and dozens of you requested the pattern. I got the basic pattern idea from a placemat I saw at Anthropologie that “said” to me it belonged on my table. However, the $18 price tag told me differently. I decided to make my own and to add a bit of hand-embroidery to add a personal touch.
Joel thought I had lost my mind when I told him I was making 12 of them, and to be honest, I kind of thought I had too (I just wasn’t going to let him know that). They really came together quickly though and I found these placemats to be one of my most enjoyable sewing projects ever!
We’ve added the pattern and instructions in the sidebar for you to download, if you’d like.
And, as promised, you can get the recipe for my irresistible chocolate chip cookies here. Enjoy some for me because I’m trying to avoid sugar for a little while…um, starting right after I make myself a cup of hot chocolate to warm up.
They say Utah will finally warm up tomorrow, but after the spring we’ve had, I am a bit skeptical. For those of you who visit next May, I hope the weather here is so much more inviting than at present.
Monday, May 3, 2010
You know when I start eating Swedish fish in bulk-size portions that I'm stressed. It's not a good coping technique. I acknowledge this fact. I like to justify my actions though by thinking these bite-size pieces of goodness have some psychologically soothing effect on me.
We've had dozens of requests for the pattern of the skirt featured on our homepage. It's in the works, but guess who is working on it? Yes, that would be me, and I'm slow people. This is our first pattern, and it's taking me longer than I thought it would to get everything right.
It doesn't help that I volunteered to chaperone two field trips this week, and volunteered to head up the committee in charge of Teacher Appreciation Week, and volunteered to be a substitute pianist for one of our church meetings, but I did and the pattern has had to be put on hold. I think Joel has given up on trying to get me to say "no".
I've also been a bit preoccupied by the fact that my parents will be returning home later this afternoon after having been in Samoa the past 18 months. Our family was living in Florida at the time of their departure, so it has been almost 2 years since we last saw them. We moved to Utah just 10 days after they left and lived in their home up until 5 months ago when we bought our own. After thirteen years of living far away from them, we will now be living less then a mile away from each other. Wow! I hope we don't drive each other crazy!
So, I'm hoping to finish this project today (keep your fingers crossed). I'm currently testing the pattern to make sure that it works right, and that what I've designed won't frustrate the user into candy-eating binges like myself. If I could just get this blasted zipper to cooperate with me!
So, Please tell me that I'm not the only one who gets a little (or a lot) frustrated by their creative projects at times. If you are feeling a little creatively challenged at the moment, might I suggest a bowl of Swedish fish?
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Oh how I looked forward to this day after such a frustrating one yesterday. I woke up this morning excited for the prospects this day would offer. I got in a killer run this morning, we ate blueberry pancakes, bacon and orange juice for breakfast, Joel worked in the yard before the weather turned bad, our kiddos practiced piano without any complaints, I put some dogwood blooms (albeit fake) in a vase on our entryway table, we made some preparations for my parents' homecoming on Monday (they've been in Samoa for 18 months), and then we went plant shopping at an amazing nursery.
We headed to a town about 30 minutes from here with the anticipation of finding some great foliage for our yard. However, about halfway there, the weather went from okay, to bad, to horribly wrong. Despite the nasty elements, we continued on our quest in the rain and sleet and freezing cold as we perused the nursery's gardens and greenhouses. I felt kind of bad that we forced the kids to walk around in the rain, but they didn't complain and actually enjoyed the experience. We picked out our very first plant for the yard, a beautiful Japanese Maple that Joel and I can't wait to plant once the weather improves.
When we got home I was ready to snuggle up in a warm blanket and read a book, but the kids didn't allow that to happen. I sat down at the computer and opened up my blogger dashboard and was surprised to see Joel's picture and a short introduction to this post. I follow many blogs, ucreate being one of them, and it's always fun when one of them features a post about Joel or his fabric. I knew he had done this interview, but I never got to see his answers to Kari's questions. He did tell me about his "Survivor" answer though. I laughed. While I think he'd do well in the game in theory, just between you and me, he'd never last that long without me or the kids. Plus, I think he'd lose his mind if he had to deal with some of the crazy personality types that end up on that show.
As I mentioned previously, my parents lived in Samoa the past 18 months during which the current and previous seasons of "Survivor" were filmed. My parents got to talk to one of the crew members a few times and hear his stories of working for the show. If I had been there I would have begged for the opportunity to watch one of the challenges in person. I probably would have been disappointed with the live version though. I'm sure the T.V. editing makes it so much more dramatic.
Kari also alluded to my chocolate chip cookies as being Joel's favorite treat; they're actually my favorite as well. However, Joel can control his appetite for them while I cannot, so I only allow myself to make them about once a month. When Joel and I were first married I tried several chocolate chip recipes over and over again, only to be disappointed with the results each time. It seems silly now, but at the time I was truly frustrated that I couldn't make a decent batch of chocolate chip cookies.
While my cookies definitely improved over time, it wasn't until just a few years ago that I finally felt like I had perfected the recipe. We'll post the recipe soon because we feel strongly that everyone should have a perfect chocolate chip cookie once in a while, don't you?