Day 360: Christmas Day

NieceWe always spend Christmas day at my parents. Around 11 a.m., my sister and her family shows up, and we all get to open presents together. Wahoo! Lately, we’ve developed the tradition of going in age order, with the youngest starting first. My poor mother always has to go last!

RockyMy parents’ dogs were both remarkably good about these ridiculous hats. They kept them on for quite a while!

Big NephewSmokey JonesSmokey Jones was not nearly excited about opening presents as I was. SistersMy oldest sister couldn’t be at Christmas this year so she Skyped in for opening presents. It was fun to have her there “via satellite,” as I kept saying. It was also hilarious because she kept changing into various hats while she was Skyping with us. At one point, she was wearing a sombrero. Hehe!

Niece 2Brother and Aspen

Day 359: Blue Whale Plushie

Blue Whale Plushie On Christmas Eve, I spent a lot of time with my Mom.

While I sat at the kitchen table working on the stuffed blue whale that I was making for my new nephew, she spent hours preparing dish after dish for our Christmas meal the next day. It was nice to sit and chat with her. I don’t spend nearly enough time at my parents’ house lately.

After I finished embroidering the mouth of the whale and sewing on the eyeball-buttons it was time for me to use the sewing machine to finish the whale.  My mom brought me downstairs, showed me how to thread her sewing machine, and then left me to finish the whale.

I never did finish it. Instead, the whale fabric flitted around the sewing machine like it had a mind of its own, and the needle kept coming unthreaded, and the thread kept getting all jammed up in the machine, and I started swearing, and steaming, and getting extremely angry at the whole idea of sewing.

“Why did I even start this project when I find sewing so frustrating?”

My mom was on the phone with my sister when I started freaking out. Luckily, she got off the phone and came downstairs to see what was going on.

“There’s something wrong with this stupid machine! I don’t think I can do this!”

My mom was rather calm considering the state I was in.

“Let me look at it.”

She sat down at the sewing machine and took over. I went upstairs and worked on the bean dip appetizer she still wanted to make for Christmas Day.

By the time I was finished with the bean dip, the whale was completely sewn. I flipped it inside out and stuffed it and then sewed the final little bit by hand.

It was adorable, thanks to my Mom.

Blue Whale Plushie FaceAfter we finished with the whale, I went with my family to church and I sang with my Mom in the choir. She’s great at alto harmonies. I stood next to her and sang the soprano part, and we sounded nice together.

While we were singing, I thought about how great my mom is and how much she’s done for me over the years. I’ve been very lucky.

Note: This blue whale plushie is part of my “Jeannimals” project. Learn a bit more about it in my post about the plush heart I made for my niece. It also involves a sewing disaster.

Day 357: Bathrobe Belt

1-Bathrobe BeltJim has been missing the belt for his bathrobe for a loooong time. This means that he occasionally walks around the house in just his robe without a tie and with only his hand clasping it together.

Since we have roommates, this also means that he may or may not be in constant danger of flashing them. While my roomies  never really mentioned being uncomfortable about the robe situation, I wonder if they also recognized the constant uncertainty. Exposure could happen any moment!

But no more! On Saturday, I made Jim a belt for his bathrobe to eliminate this little situation forever….and I also made it to make Jim happy. I’m sure it will be more comfortable to have a belt.

Since I’m not much of a seamstress, it actually took me over two hours to make the thing and the craftmanship isn’t even that good, but it’s the thought that counts.

I gave Jim the belt yesterday as a Christmas present, and he seemed quite happy. Yay!

Day 355: Oregon

OregonMerry Christmas, Maureen!

One of my sisters lives in Oregon, but she wasn’t able to come back to Chicago this year for the holidays because she recently started a new job. We’re all going to miss her a lot this Christmas, but we’ll get to see her in February once she finally has enough vacation time. That’s good.

Anyway, I made this Oregon piece for Maureen because I made a similar one of Illinois a while back, and at the time, Maureen said I should make her one of Oregon for Christmas–so I did!

She already opened her other present from me, which she got in the mail, but this is a Christmas surprise for her.

Maureen, I hope you like the this! I’ll be sending a framed version out to you in the mail tomorrow!

 

Day 348: Christkindlmarket

Chicago Christmas TreeMikeBuilding at Night  Lights and Buildings  ShleeOn Thursday, some co-workers and friends headed over to Chicago’s Christkindlmarkt for our annual tradition of celebrating Wĥäłĕņċħőŵĕŋ, a ridiculous fake holiday we made up several years ago. Unfortunately, Lufthansa nearly ruined our celebration this year because they booked an entire tent at the fest, meaning we had to sit outside and freeze for several hours until we couldn’t take it anymore.

We still had fun, though. Lufthansa, you won’t bring us down!

Day 337: Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree StarOn Sunday morning, I put the lights and star onto the Christmas tree we got the previous day at the tree farm. That evening, after cooking dinner for some friends,  I decided to just take pictures of the lights on the tree. It was all I could must, really. I was exhausted!

Bright Lights

Out of Focus Christmas TreeThese out of focus pictures are fun!

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree LightsIf you celebrate Christmas, is your Christmas tree up yet?

 

Day 336: Tree Farm

Tree Farm 2Tree Farm 3Tree Farm 5One of our family traditions is heading out to the Tammenberry Tree Farm in Wilmington, IL to get Christmas trees. This past Saturday, Jim and I drove down to the tree farm to meet my family, even though we weren’t planning on getting a tree. However, after a few hours of helping my family hunt for the perfect trees, Jim and I gave in and picked out a lovely tree. We couldn’t resist.

p.s. We did not pick the dead orange pine 🙂

Day 333: Easy No-Sew Tree Skirt

No-Sew Tree SkirtOn Wednesday, a few friends and I had a craft night, and I made an easy, no-sew tree skirt. The project took me a total of about 2.5 hours, not including the time at the craft store. I used the old “tie-the-strips-of-fleece-together” method, and it worked well. See below for instructions.

Christmas TreeHere’s the tree skirt on the beautiful Christmas tree I got this weekend!Easy New-Sew Tree SkirtIn this close-up, you can see that the strips of my patterned fabric kind of look like bacon. Hilarious.

Easy Tree Skirt

Supplies

  • 1.75 yards of two different fleece fabrics – I bought one solid red fleece fabric and one patterned red and white fabric. Note that you need to ensure that your fabrics will be big enough to make a circle 60 inches in diameter. You may want to tell the person cutting your fabric that you’ll be making a tree skirt this size.
  • Tape measure
  • Pen or pencil
  • String
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors

Instructions for this easy no-sew tree skirt

  • Find the center of the fabric and mark it with a pen. To do this, fold the fabric in half the “tall way” so that the fabric is folded to be tall and skinny. Then, measure the fabric along the tall edge with your tape measure and make a mark at the center. Then unfold the fabric.
  • Using the center you just marked as a guide, draw a large circle on your fabric. To do this, tie a piece of string to your pen (or pencil) and then cut the sting to be 30 inches long. Hold the end of your string at the center you marked in the previous step, extend the string out fully, and draw your circle by slowly moving the pen around the center in a circle. Note: Your resulting circle will be 60 inches in diameter, which will seem very large. It will be smaller when you’re done.
  • Lay your solid circle on top of the patterned fleece, with the pattern facing down. Then use the solid circle as a guide to cut a circle from the patterned fleece. After this, do not separate the circles.
  • Using your same pen and string, cut the 30 inch string down to 5 inches and measure a small circle around the center in the same process. Then cut out the small circle. It will be 10 inches in diameter.
  • Cut a slit through both fabrics from the outer edge straight to the small circle. Using the straight pins, pin the fabric together along both sides of the slit.
  • With the circles still together, cut 1 inch wide strips through both piece of fabric. The strips should be about 6 inches long.
  • Once you’ve cut these strips all around the circle, knot one patterned strip together with one solid strip. Do this all the way around the tree skirt.
  • Then take out your straight pins because you’re done!

Note: If you’d like, you can sew the edges along the slit and around the smaller circle. However it’s not necessary. The solid fabric and the pattern fabric will naturally cling together, and if they get a little out of alignment along the small circle and along the slit, you can just line them back up.

Making Easy Tree Skirt

Finally, here’s the first ever picture on my blog of me in the process of making something! Thanks to my friend Christina for taking this! Can’t believe it took so long to post an “action shot!”