Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Challenges Wrap-Up ...

I joined in a lot of challenges this year ... some I actually finished and some, well, not so well ... but they were all fun none-the-less. Let's look back and see how it all went!

First up, was the 2007 Winter Classics Challenge. The goal was to read:
  1. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  2. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  3. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  4. A Room With a View by E. M. Forster
  5. A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
And I did it! Yeah!

Second up was the 2007 TBR Challange. I had decided to read:
  1. Devil in the White City
  2. The Day the World Came to Town
  3. One Thousand White Women
  4. Riding the Bus With My Sister: A True Life Journey (did not read)
  5. Size 12 is Not Fat - Meg Cabot
  6. The Dogs of Babel
  7. The Historian
  8. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig (did not read)
  9. What Comes After Crazy: A Novel
  10. The Nazi’s Officer Wife
  11. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  12. Crewel World by Monica Ferris
I managed to read 10 of these books ... however, the other two I could not find at the library - frustrating yes. I would like to point out I did read at least two other books from my list this year (Total Money Make-over by Dave Ramsey and What Comes After Crazy: A Novel) so I think that maybe I can call it even?

After that, I signed up for the UFO Challenge. The goal was to work on 12 items, but I only hit 9.
1st one * 2nd one * 3rd one> *4th* 5th
7th * 8th * 9th

Oh well - that's over half! And some of them I even managed to finish! =)

After that was the Fall Into Reading Challenge. My books:
  1. Must Love Dogs
  2. Into the Wilderness by Kim Barnes
  3. My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Piccult
  4. Night by Elie Wiesel
  5. Confession of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
  6. Lucky by Alice Siebold
And I did manage to finish it up!

So to sum it up - 4 challenges joined. 2 completely finished, 1 we'll call finished as long as we swap out two books and the third 75% done. Not too bad. Trust me, there were a lot more I wanted to join but I knew that would be setting myself up for failure.

I think this year will find me light on the challenges. The little guy is a VERY active guy, very energetic, and completely the poster child of the typical "terrible 2's" stage. It's hard to get out with him. It's hard to stay home with him some days as well! LOL But, I do love him. Not to mention 2008 will be a year that is more about penny pinching than shopping (and that includes yarn, fabric, thread, markers, paper, tape, stickers, books, etc). It will be difficult I know. But I also know it will be worth it and the ends will justify this. It will be a few years of tight living, but I hope that within 3 years I will be looking at at year that will be debt free for us. And so really, that is my challenge this year - to live as frugally as possible, and maybe if I do a fabulous job, I will then have some extra money to spend on these nice extras I do enjoy shopping for so much! =)

Friday, December 28, 2007

In other news ...

I officially closed my etsy store today.
The things I had listed there expired last week? or maybe the week before? I've been thinking about it for a while now - I just haven't figured out how to make the store successful. I needed to be doing a LOT more for the store than I was.
And it's just not time for it. It is not my time for this store. And that's okay with me. I actually feel better about it. As much as I enjoy getting orders, sometimes they scare me. There's a deadline with them. They need to be done and finished and shipped. And given how long it took me to get my Fall Y'all giveaway items in the mail, well, doing things quickly is NOT something I'm capable of these days.
Maybe another day I will go back to it. Or maybe I will try something else next time. Either way, for now, I'm done with it. And I think that is actually a good thing for now!

2007 In Review ...

What a year 2007 has been! So much has happened ... I can hardly believe our year truthfully!
January found me reading a few classics, baking bread, and celebrating The Bears amazing season (who have not had a very good year this time around ::sigh::).
February found me busy with more reading and moving! I look around and can't believe we moved just under a year ago. Sometimes it feels as if we haven't lived here that long, and other days it's so comfortable it's hard to believe we haven't lived here longer! I do love our house. I think we will have to stay here for a very long time, so I guess it's good I love it. Although, I will admit I originally thought it would be a house we would sell in about 3 years ... but no longer.
March was a slow month truly. A bit of knitting, a bit of reading, a bit of sewing. And of course, the settling into the new house was a big part of that month as well.
April I got my craft room all organized and ready to go, got see the Yarn Harlot with my daughter, and opened my etsy store.
May - which is my favorite month mostly because it's my birthday month ROFL - was full of lots of sewing (most notably working on the aprons that I have come to love!) I did have a good birthday last year, but for the most part, all my birthdays have been fabulous just because they are simply my birthday ROFL! =)
In June I bought too many things from the Wilton company (but I love them all and have used most of them so far), read a whole lot, and made a few gifts.
July found me anxious about Harry Potter coming out, making homemade jam for the first time, had a ton of fun giving and winning during the dog days of summer giveaway, stumbled upon Toddler Planet (who had a very important message so read it please), and discovered The Motherhood.
August was a HUGE month for us, and honestly it feels so much longer ago than 5 months ago! First, we attempted to break Little Man of his pacifier habit (and although I never blogged about it, we gave up very quickly), we started Miss M on her elimination diet, and we found out we won Lu's giveaway for Financial Peace, and started to plan for a homemade Christmas, and we had some bad weather days. Seriously, the diet/FPU stuff has changed our life in so many ways. So yes, August was a HUGE HUGE HUGE month!
September I got sappy on you all, knitted a few things, won my first little award, learned to cut hair (and I have cut dh's hair once since then and little man's hair quite a few times since then! So I still recommend that book and think it is well worth it's price!), began hanging my laundry, and made some yummy applesauce!
In October I announced my job opportunity with (I'm still doing it, and still loving it, and can't imagine not having it!), received another nice little award, finished making some gorgeous socks and saw my daughter finish her first knitting project, started the Fall Y'all Giveaway, worked a lot, and dealt with sleep issues.
November started with the Fall Y'all giveaway wrapping up (here I have to admit that the items were only recently mailed out and the knitting bag hasn't even been started yet - blech. I'm so far behind it's not funny). Then I took a break. And I stopped posting very much. Life got busy, things came up, and blogging was not on my list of things to do frankly.
December has been a crazy month - trying to finish gifts for Christmas, trying to find my love of blogging again, and just trying to survive the month of parties, celebrating, shopping, etc, etc ... and of course, all that was followed by a fabulous Christmas!

What will 2008 bring us? I'm not really sure truth-be-told. I hate to sound like a downer, but 2008 will be a year in which $ will be even tighter than this year (or maybe we should have been wiser with our money earlier this year to prevent this from happening, but we weren't so here's where we are at). However, we will travel 3 separate times - 1 week long vacation to Maine and 2 smaller trips for weddings. I am looking forward to these trips, but honestly, those trips will be eating up most of the money that isn't already going towards bills. (and yes, I already did up basic monthly budgets for all 12 months of 2008). Of course, who really knows what the year will bring and what our electric bill will be in July or even next December. And what will gas prices do? And will grocery prices increase as much as they are predicting? It's so unknown and hard to say. I do know that at least the first three months will be VERY tight. But I also know that we will get through it and survive. I know that we can survive on less and don't need a lot of extra. But it all feels so bad when I look at it on paper. We'll see ... 2008 might see me getting a part-time job. Which is very scary to me honestly! But again, with so many unknowns, it's so hard to tell at this point.
I hope 2008 is full lots of very happy memories for the family. I'm hoping for a year like the song Side by Side
Oh, we ain't got a barrel of money,
Maybe we're ragged and funny
But we'll travel along
Singing a song
Side by side.

Don't know what's comin' tomorrow
Maybe it's trouble and sorrow
But we'll travel the road
Sharing our load
Side by side.

Through all kinds of weather
What if the sky should fall?
Just as long as we're together,
It doesn't matter at all.
I believe no matter what, 2008 will be a good year. We might have to be very creative with what we call fun and how to entertain ourselves, we might have smaller birthdays, Christmas next year might be a bit smaller, there will be less spending of money and probably a summer spent garaging sale-ing (which we really haven't done to date). But it will be a good year. I'm determined that it will be!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Just ignore this post. I'm just trying something out here and hoping this shows up!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas round-up ...

I planned to come on today and tell you all about our wonderful day. I knew what I was going to say ...
I was going to tell you all that we had a delightful Christmas! That everyone had a wonderful day. I would tell you that our tree did not have an i-pod, or guitar hero, or a Wii system, or cell phones, or new computers sitting under it waiting to be opened. About how for the most part, everyone received simple gifts and all the gifts to my children from me and my husband were in fact hand-made. I would tell you that even though we spent the least amount of money in a few years, everyone was happy and we had a great day!
And for the most part that is true - most of the gifts were simple. Everyone did have a wonderful day. My children were happy with all they received and we really just enjoyed the day. However, yesterday, someone dropped off a gift from some one else - the tag simply said Santa - for our family to open. And the kids were in awe that Santa delivered one present early. I mumbled out some excuse about sometimes little things like that happen, and we would stick it under the tree and open it with everything else.
And then I kind of forgot about it - until we opened it this morning. And what was in that nice box? A brand new Wii, ready and waiting to be played with. I think my girls (and truthfully dh and myself) almost passed out LOL! I can't lie! We were all excited. My kids have played with them before at my mom's house. They were buzzing about making a me and playing games and how many cool games we would be able to buy to play with it now.
And so it was hooked up. Dh and my oldest played a fabulous game of bowling (I should have snapped pictures). My daughter made a little me person. And I have already requested DDR and the Fitness Pack thing coming out soon for my birthday (which is in May LOL!)

Not that dh and I were opposed to the Wii system (we have a playstation and a gamecube afterall!) we had simply decided we were not able to pay that much money for one present this year. I didn't even spend as much as the Wii cost on all three of my children's gifts together. I will admit to you that I am secretly thrilled we were given this (and yes, I do know who our secret santa is and we have already said thank you - although the girls simply thought they were telling this person how excited they were Santa brought it LOL)

And then at my mom's house, I received my first i-pod ever. I have another MP3 player that I enjoy just fine, but today I was gifted the touch i-pod. I still haven't loaded anything on it (the i-tunes software is downloading as I type) and I'll be interested to see how it all works and to even put my pictures on it - that will be fun!

And so I can't tell you that we didn't receive any of the hottest items this Christmas, because we did. But I can tell you that we had an absolutely FABULOUS Christmas - and I know it would have been fabulous with or without secret santas and kind parents who give even their adult children very nice gifts. We had a nice Christmas just being together and enjoying each other and just feeling so loved and grateful for all that we do have.

The next few days will be full of cleaning, doing laundry, playing with the new toys and hopefully just spending so more great time together =)

Merry Christmas!

I hope that each and everyone one of you are having a fabulous Christmas time with your family/friends/loved ones =)

Enjoy this wonderful time of year!

And ... of course, I wish you a grand 2008! That it is a year filled with much happiness, good health and lots of fun times! =)


Well, I did it. All things that needed to be finished for today and tomorrow were in fact finished (actually I did the last thing at about 10:30 pm December 23 which is a miracle!)


We also managed to whip out a whole bunch of cookies!

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I would like to point out, all of this was in fact pulled off with the help of my darling husband, who helped out as much as he could. Have I mentioned just how much I love this man? Well, if I haven't let me tell you - I REALLY love this man.

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Anyway, I am so excited that everything was able to be finished ... it was close and I was feeling nervous about getting it all done. I really did enjoy making it all - but I didn't enjoy the rush. I am going to try to do this next year again, but hopefully start MUCH sooner (at this point, I might just start in February LOL!)

Merry Christmas everyone! I will be spending the next week doing laundry and cleaning since I haven't kept up in the rush to finish everything LOL! So with that, I will "see" you all next year! =)

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Christmas Eve is in 3 days.
Christmas day is in 4 days.

I still need to make: 2 paper doll holders, 3 binder covers, 2 bags for doll pins, faces on about 20 doll pins, 2 blankets, 1 pillow, 1 small penguin, 1 table runner, a set of 6-placemats/napkins, gift certificates, cookies, a CD holder, and a bag.

That does not include the items that do need to be done by Christmas - which is 1 table runner, 3 sets of placemats/napkins (6 in each), 2 shirts, 1 apron, and I swear I'm forgetting something (although, really, let's hope not!)

Am I feeling nervous? YES! Very!

Am I mad that on December 22 I am stuck in this position? YES!

I do believe next year I will do things MUCH MUCH earlier in the year. I already even have a plan. Because I want to tell you, making (almost) everyone's gift this year has been so incredibly fun! And I want to do something like this next year. I just would like to be doing prior to the week before Christmas LOL! =)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Random post ....

I just wanted to write today to tell you all that tonight I bought a glade scented oil candle - (with a buy one get one free coupon I found at and I am IN LOVE. I am sitting in my craft room with the scent dewberry dreams all around me and it's soooo lovely in here now!

I had 3 of the bogo coupons for them. I was only going to use one of them to get a gift for a Christmas swap. I thought I would get 2 of the scented glade oil candles and 2 refill packs (because there are coupons for those too LOL). And I would have a nice swap gift at a pretty good price.

Well, I bought the ones for the swap and I kept sniffing them. I actually stopped and bought two candles holders for myself. They are so heavenly. And I'm still sitting on another coupon. I think I may buy it as a present for someone else I know ... truthfully I want more for me, but with the kids and all, I don't need more than two holders.

Although, really, if Glade is reading this and wants me to try out other scents, I would totally be willing to do that. Because someone from Glade reading my blog is about as likely as pigs flying, so it won't really happen, but a girl can dream LOL!

Monday, December 17, 2007

I'm trying ...

I'm really trying to write on a regular basis here these days ... but alas, I am mostly running around like a chicken with her head cut off!
My to-do list keeps getting longer and things are being added faster than they are coming off.
I can NOT believe Christmas is :::gulp::: next week!
I broke one sewing machine ... it might be ready on the 24th for pick-up, but they doubt it. The other machine we have here doesn't work right. But I'm trying to make the best of it. Some people may be getting IOU's until it's fixed. Or some people just might not be getting a present at all this year. Oh well .. I'm only human. I procrastinated too long and sometimes I just need to do what I can to get by!

By baby boy turned two last week. I wanted to come on and create some sort of sappy post about how much I love him, and all the joy he brought into our lives and how he has the BEST laugh in the entire world (seriously, he does!) and he pretty much woke up crabby and didn't stop whining all day and I just couldn't bring myself to write all those mushy things about him when in truth I was thinking for his birthday I might buy him a babysitter! LOL! Don't get me wrong, I love him to pieces, but he has been the exact description of the terrible two's lately. I'm sure he's feeling unloved and neglected since I can't play with him 100 percent of the day - that's when we have the meltdowns, when he loses my undivided attention, but I'm hoping "this too shall pass."

Of course he really didn't appreciate his birthday. Every time someone said happy birthday to him he put his head down and whined "I no want birthday." (He is also doing the same thing when we talk about Christmas - he doesn't want it, he doesn't want Santa to come, etc). Oh, but don't worry, because he does want the presents, cake and cookie. Speaking of presents, he thinks each box has a train in it and looks sad if it's not LOL! He is all about the trains ;-)

Aside from all of that ... I'm again looking for prayer requests. We just discovered grandpa has prostrate cancer. We don't know if it has spread or just how bad it is yet - tests are still being run. Hopefully we'll know more after Christmas.

I think that's all for now ... I have some shirts to embroider, bindings to cut, placemats to sew, animals to be stuffed, and paper dolls to be cut! And Christmas is only days away! Wish me luck, and if I don't come back soon, I'm buried under a pile of things to finish making in my basement LOL!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cold ...

It's currently 20 degrees outside.
My furnace just stopped working for the third time this am.
Thankfully the house is holding the heat pretty good. It's been between 60-63 degrees in my house today.
However, I am still freezing! And can I leave and go somewhere warmer? Oh no ... because they are basically squeezing our house in amidst all the other calls (which means when they are in this area, they'll come fix us).
Why am even more crabby about this? The furnace was just bought in FEBRUARY. Meaning it's not even a year old. It died all the time when it was new. They came in March and "fixed" it and I asked point blank - is it really fixed or is it just not cold enough to trip the system likes it's been doing? And they reassured me that it was indeed fixed and had nothing to do with the fact that we weren't in the colder temps anymore .... and guess what? The coldest day of the season so far ... and it shorts out again. Um yeah .... I'm thinking it wasn't really fixed in March so now it's the same old story.
:::sigh:::: At least I have a fireplace and 2 space heaters should the temperature drop too low in here (but I'm hesitant to use them because of the kids running around ... I don't have a gate around the fireplace and the downstairs is too big for the space heaters to help heat it too much.
Oh well. We'll live. We'll just live in layers! LOL!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Confessions ...

I have a few confessions to make around here ...
first of all, I still have not yet sent out my fall y'all giveaway winners, which is pretty sad considering it's now winter and there is snow all around my house)
I am also far behind on Christmas gifts because I have been procrastinating on those items as well
I still haven't followed up with the dentist about my sore tooth
I'm still not sleeping all that well.
I have a bad case of the holiday blues.
I probably have more than just holiday blues, but for now, that's what I'll call it.
The truth is for the last few weeks I have felt like doing nothing, going no where, and just feeling pretty down.
As such, I have hardly left the house. I do just enough to get by. And I'm pretty crabby a lot.
This weekend I felt especially low and as such allowed myself to have a good cry (all the while being held by my husband who is now officially the most wonderful husband on the face of the planet). I have to say, I feel a bit better about it all - I don't know if it was the crying, or the talking, or just acknowledging to another human being what I was feeling that helped - I'm going to assume it's a combination of all three. But I am feeling a bit better this week so far.

I won't lie - this isn't the first time I've felt down and out. In fact, I have felt worse before (when my oldest was about 9 months old I struggled with depression). This is, however, the first time, it's affected me beyond just the emotional level. The not wanting to leave the house, not wanting to really do anything - in the past I've been able to press on, keep moving, keep doing what needs to be doing. This time I just wanted to ignore everything and do nothing.

I believe at this point, things will get better now. The fact that I even want to come blog shows is a huge improvement! And I'm glad that for the most part these blues are short lived. And that they come relatively infrequently. But it is hard knowing that chances are it will happen again someday. But for now, I don't want to dwell on that ... I want to get back into the holiday cheer. And I have a million and one things to check off my to-do list, especially all those things I've procrastinated on!

As an added fyi, I do have a therapist I meet with, so I do have help coming from there as well.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Doll Pins

One of my most favorite crafts that I've made this year so far are these doll pins. I first saw the idea over at Angry Chicken and instantly fell in love with them! Then I saw them over at SouleMama and fell even more in love with them!
Yes, I have made quite a few of these for Christmas already. I have not yet made any fancy accessories (like the blanket, sleeping bag, or apron to hold them in, but I still might. I haven't decided!) and they were fun and easy to make. My 8 year old helped me out as well.
So, even though it's not an original idea by me, I'm going to show you how I made them in case you want to give some as gifts this year as well.

First, order the dolls. I bought mine from Casey's Wood Product but I've been told Dick Blick sotres carry them as might some other craft stores locally that you can buy them from.

1. Assemble supplies:
Doll pins
fabric scraps (or buy fat quarters from the local fabric store. These usually run 1-2 dollars each and one will help dress up quite a few dolls!)
ribbon (optional)
glue stick
tacky glue (optional)
fray check (optional)

2. Pick out fabric for doll and cut to size. I wish I could give you measurements, but I didn't measure. I eyeballed and cut as I went. I am not even beneath admitting that I cut some of the fabric as I wrapped it around the doll, even with glue on it already!
My shirt and skirt ready to go for this girl ...
(The optional step here is to apply fray check to your fabric squares if you are worried about that. I did not use it for this doll. In fact the only time I used it, was when I purposefully frayed one edge for a decorative touch and didn't want it to fray further)

3. Apply glue to both pin and fabric. A plain old glue stick works fine for this step.
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4. Wrap fabric around the doll. It doesn't matter if you put the top on first or the bottom on first ... it kind of depends on what look you are trying to achieve or what is easiest for you. I found it was easier to put the top on first because you can line it very straight with the top edge and that helps put the skirt on. However, if you put the skirt on first and it is a little crooked, well the top will hang over it and hide it anyway! So either way, you win in my opinion! LOL!

5. Get creative ... make a dress instead ... like this one (which, by the way, is the one I purposefully frayed the bottom of)
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Add ribbons as belts. Cut the edges with pinking shears as a decorative touch. Really, you can't do anything wrong.
Here are mine so far ... my girls love them all and even my little guy keeps stealing them to play with!

Although, you might notice, they are faceless so far. I haven't added the faces yet. I'm very nervous to do so. In the future I will add the face first before "dressing" them, in case the face gets messed up a bit. I bought the pens to draw the faces on (a permanent fine marker works best so I've read). When I get brave enough to color in faces, I will take photographs again. My son (who will be 2 next week and no, I can't believe he will be 2 already!!) is quite concerned about their missing faces. Sometimes when playing with them he pauses, looks at me and says "eyes? eyes?" and looks at the empty face. LOL!

Anyway, one idea that I believe anyone can do and it will make a great gift. Trust me. These are going to a relative, but all three of my children are jealous she is getting them Of course, they don't know I'm making them some for Christmas morning as well! But they will find out soon enough! =)

Christmas is almost here ...

and I am feeling swamped people. Just bogged down with things to do, people to see, places to go, things to make, stuff to buy, etc, etc.
I still haven't found any time, and for that I apologize. I checked my blogline feeds this am, I only have 1800 unread items sitting there just waiting for me. I have not marked them all yet, I will try to slowly skim them. And there are certain people I am thinking of more often than others (including two pregnant bloggers who by my accounts could theoretically have their babies any day now!) But it is so hard to find the time to get on-line these days truthfully.

Although, I will be sharing a few quick homemade Christmas ideas over the next few weeks. Most can be finished quickly. And most can be done relatively inexpensively and I hope most will be well loved if you decide to make and give them! I have two ideas planned for this week and we'll see what else I can come up with. I've been going through books for things I am not personally making, but which could be nice gift ideas for others to make (and some I'm tucking in my brain for next year!)

And I am not the only one who will be sharing great ideas - The Motherhood is planning on sharing great ideas between now and Christmas for everyone to use and enjoy, so go check out there, and look in the Homemade Christmas group and see what other people are thinking of! Also, if you have a great idea, please share your link over there too!

Anyway, I will be in and out, here and there ... and I hope that everyone will continue to check back and enjoy the ideas that I will be sharing with you (although let me be clear, these are ideas I've gotten from other places - I haven't had any grand breakthroughs on ideas to share with you, but if I do, I promise to share!)