Thursday, August 25, 2016

School Day Pledge

My kids are like everyone else -- some love school and can't wait to go back, others kind of dread it, but the first day of school is always a lot of fun. It's so great to see people you haven't seen all summer, and the promise of a fresh start is always so great -- that's one of my favorite things about a new anything!

Just a day or two before I sent my kids off to school, I came across this AMAZING Facebook post. It was posted in 2015 by a Dad BOLDLY EMPOWERING HIS CHILD* to have the best school day ever. Have you seen it? I'm amazed by the statements this child is saying -- it's so inspiring to me as a parent, and for my own children. I feel that they're really entering that struggling teenage time of uneven self-confidence, and how great would it be if they told themselves this every stinking day? I wish I could write a letter to this Dad saying how much I admire what he's doing with and for his son -- but I have no idea where it came from, so I guess this will have to serve as my open fan-letter. :)

In fact, I was so inspired by it, that I made a printable for it. I just couldn't NOT display this in my home where my kids will see it every day! And if they're struggling with homework, or even just going to school, I'm going to have them go read this empowering statement. In the end, I did two versions -- one ending in pink, and one ending in blue -- I just couldn't choose which one I liked best!
(please click on the picture to make it bigger, if necessary)

If you'd like a copy for yourself, please feel free to follow THIS LINK for the pink version, and THIS LINK for blue -- it will print out at 8 1/2" x 11", then you can cut it down to 8" x 10". I printed mine on cardstock so it would hold up better, but it should print out just fine on regular printer paper.

*Sorry for the gratuitous use of caps in this post -- I'm just so dang excited by it!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Olympics!!! (a quilt tutorial)

Hurray, hurray -- the Olympics are here!!  I have a new friend (Jen from Heritage Threads) who just wrote up a blog post -- and it explains EXACTLY how I've always felt about the Olympics! You should totally check it out, it's so stinking cute, and so is her mini Olympic rings quilt!
So, here's the backstory on this quilt: When our girls chose "The Olympics -- Go for the Gold" for our Girls Camp theme, I immediately thought about making a quilt. A quilt with the Olympic rings, and the rest just as GOLD as I could make it! And I decided to make it not just for YW Camp, but so I could use it for the Olympics later this summer, and for the Olympics to come. I really wanted to finish it up in time for Camp, but didn't quite make it in time. But I did have it finished in time for the 2016 Rio Opening Ceremonies!

And I had the foresight to take a BUNCH of pictures along the way -- because I just know I'm not the only one who wants a quilt for the Olympics! Have fun!

  • {92} 5 1/2" squares (I used assorted yellows and golds)
  • {1} 30 1/2" x 40 1/2" background piece
  • assorted scraps for rings and words
  • Heat-n-Bond Lite (I just used scraps)
1. I laid them some plates on my FAVORITE quilt (it's the perfect size), to kind of test out how big the pattern would be, then used those plates to trace a ring.
After I decided to use those bigger plates, I used another plate to make what I think is just about perfect. (I think the little one is 6" and the other is 10".)
2. I traced the rings on freezer paper, which was a FANTASTIC idea. You'll see why later!
3.  I cut out the circle EXACTLY on the outside line, then folded it in half and marked the line formed between the two rings. I repeated, folding again and again, until I had 16 segments. I didn't take a picture, but after I had the 16 segments, I cut out the middle, about 1/4" from the line. Then, I cut along ONE of the lines, to make a little opening so I could layer the rings just like they do in the official Olympics logo.
4. Now for the fun part -- fabric selection! I have 16 different fabrics for each ring, so I trimmed each fabric I was using to about 4" x 5". There was a little waste, but I really loved using that smaller size, rather than trying to figure out how to fit my large sections of fabric to the little freezer paper sections.

5. I used the freezer paper as a paper-piecing template. When I want to be REALLY precise, I really love to paper piece! And for the Olympics, precision seemed like the thing to do. :)
I pressed the first fabric to the freezer paper, adhering the wrong side of the fabric to the freezer paper. Then I lined up a second fabric to one side of the first fabric, making sure there was at least 1/4" for a seam allowance. Then I flipped over the freezer paper and sewed with a shortened stitch length along the line, all the way to the edge of the paper. (And I always did at least two at a time, so I didn't waste much thread.) Then I trimmed the seam, as needed, and pressed the second fabric to the freezer paper.

*One little trick I've learned with paper piecing is to trim the first fabric I'm using to about 1/4" away from the seam I'm about to sew. To do that, I fold the fabric along the line, then trim with fabric scissors. It really helps to line up that second fabric!

6.  After all my rings were pieced, I made five more rings, this time on the back of some Heat-n-Bond Lite and cut away about 1/4" from each edge, plus cut one line through the ring (just like you did with the freezer paper). In retrospect, I wish I had folded under the sides and appliqued the rings onto the quilt, but it was so much easier to do it this way! Plus, I used the raw-edge applique technique for the words, so I thought it would probably match better that way.
*You can use the centers of these pieces for some of the letters, if you choose to do so.

7. Working with one ring at a time, I carefully peeled away the freezer paper from the back of the ring, then adhered the Heat-n-Bond to the BACK of the ring. Then I trimmed on the line, and pulled the backing away from the Heat-n-Bond. (It totally helps to mark at least a couple of the markings on the paper part of the Heat-n-Bond so you can line things up juuust right.)
Here they are, in all their glory -- they look so good!!
8. After that, adhere the rings to the 30 1/2" x 40 1/2" backing fabric, interlocking as shown in the Olympic logo (I just googled it!). Stitch them down, one by one, starting and stopping as needed for the "interlocking" to work.

9. I figured out which fabrics I wanted to use for the words, and laid them out in order. Then I adhered the Heat-n-Bond, cut them out, adhered them, and stitched... and stitched... and stitched... for DAYS. But it was SUCH a quick finish once I was done with that part. :) The rest is super simple!

10. After that, I laid out my squares and stitched it all together! I first put 6 squares together in a column, then attached those to one side of the background piece, then repeated for the other side. Then I made the top (2 rows of 10) and bottom pieces (6 rows of 10), and attached them to the top & bottom of the quilt center.

Then, I sent it off to the quilter, and I am so, SO happy I did! My friend Marion, who blogs at My Quilt Diet, is an AMAZING quilter, and I just love everything she did! (She recently blogged another quilt I made HERE.) So, prepare for a picture overload -- I took these the day I brought the quilt home, which happened to be Friday, August 6th, the day of the Opening Ceremonies!! It wasn't bound yet, but I just couldn't help myself, even with a little storm rolling in -- it was just so pretty!

Please note: I mostly used sunny, bright fabrics to make this a really great "Go for the Gold" quilt, but it also made it feel VERY summer-like, so I backed it mostly in this pretty sun fabric from Vanessa Goertzen (it's my favorite!) -- but the Olympics is during the winter half the time, so I included just a strip of this DARLING snowman fabric from Lori Holt. :) Marion did such a great job making it nice and straight with the front of the quilt!

And... of course there were some outtakes! We had a bit of a wind (there was a small storm that was coming), and my #1 Quilt Holder wasn't too excited to show his face... I have to be pretty quick to get a shot of this handsome boy!

Thank you for sticking with me this far! I sure hope you liked my quilt -- I'm absolutely in love with it -- I love it almost as much as the Olympics!!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Joel's (and Kevin's) Day Off

My husband is a twin, and he loves being one! Joel and Kevin are best friends and I wouldn't change that for the world. So OF COURSE when it was their 40th Birthday, I wanted to do something extra special for him -- and I thought a Day Off would be perfect.

Coordinating with my SIL was a little trickier than I had anticipated, so things didn't work out exactly as I'd originally planned, but the overall idea was still pretty close to what I had in mind. I'm not too sad though -- now I can go do the things we DIDN'T plan with Joel for date nights!

So, the first thing the boys really wanted to do was... go for a run. It was a little anti-climactic to work that into the plans, but I think we did okay. :) So, working with that, this is what I put on the gear shift in Joel's car before they left:
(I promise there was an exclamation point there too -- I really am excited for them!)

Inside that ribbon was a little bundle of clues -- eight, to be exact. In an effort to keep this memory FOREVER, and as maybe a help to anyone else out there who might be planning a special day for someone, I'm going to give you our timeline and the clues we gave out.

The first clue was labeled "CLUE #1, open BEFORE you run". Inside was this (written in a SUPER CUTE typewriter font from called Traveling Typewriter, the same as the one in the picture above, but it's not translating well as a picture so I'll just give you the text):

Dear Joel & Kevin,
Deborah and I have planned a pretty fun day for you both! We sure hope you enjoy yourselves. Remember you have families to come back to, but for today you’re off the hook, ALL DAY.
Have a ton of fun together, twinners!
Natalie & Deborah

p.s. Open your next clue AFTER your run. :)

And here are the rest of the clues, in order:

Okay, guys, we know your favorite thing to do after a good run is… to shower! Just kidding, we know it’s a nap. Go to your own home, and take a quick shower, then take a nap and enjoy it until 9:15. Then meet up at Joel & Natalie’s house (by 9:30) to open your next clue!
Go to 3606 W. Center Street. Open your next clue when you get there.
(this was a cute little place in Provo called CLASRopes Course -- I added a link to the name if you're interested in going, they have tons of fun things to do!)
Guess what – you’re not going on the ropes course. Nope, instead we thought it would be fun to canoe up & down the Provo River! Go to the lady at the counter and tell her you have a canoe reservation under the name of Joel Smith. You’ll need to sign a waiver, and you might want to leave your phones in the car… just in case!
Oh, and here’s a copy of the receipt, just in case you need it.
Make sure you’re done and hand in your boat by 12:00, we only rented it for 2 hours. Then open your next clue!
Lunch is what you’re wanting now, right? Go to Kevin & Deborah’s Clubhouse, and you’ll find lunch on the counter.
Oh, and while you’re there… you might as well play Talisman together, right? We know you want to! But please be done & all cleaned up by 3:30 at the latest… and look at your next clue then.
You’re getting close to the end… but don’t worry, there’s still more to do! Go to the Provo Towne Centre mall and go to the Pretzelmaker – we know you’re probably not quite hungry yet, but you’ll open your next clue when you get there.
Haha, fooled you!
Pretzelmaker is just about as close to the movie theater as we could think of, for you to still be surprised. And surprised you will be… Go inside and ask the usher (the one who takes tickets) to let you go to Theater #16 – we’ve talked to him and he’ll let you do it. :)
Just DON’T PEEK and see what the movie is – you might be gravely disappointed if you do!
And open your LAST clue after the movie!
(I was super sneaky -- I had no idea what movie was playing in Theater #16 -- I just said that to get them in the door. Deborah and I were waiting by the usher with the tickets, so we didn't even have to really talk to him. WE were part of that surprise! :) )

Okay, guys – here’s the deal. We were originally going to go to a later movie, but decided it would be even better earlier, where we could get really awesome seats. Wasn’t it SO fun?!
But now your girls are HUNGRY – we’ve worked really hard on this little chase, and we think it would be great if you would take us out to eat! After that, we’ll go our separate ways – but the girls will put the kiddos to bed.
Love you two! ©N&D

They ended up having THE BEST time -- and it was definitely fun to plan for them! Although next time I might just do one for JUST Joel, and have him play with friends along the way. Doesn't that sound like fun?


Friday, July 22, 2016

Whoa, Nellie!

Hey everyone! I'm just popping in to say... this blog is not dead. But time has been racing past and I've got five kids home for the summer (and some other major commitments on top of that), so I've been sadly neglecting this blog. I'm hoping to really buckle down and get things together in the next little bit -- I've got so many fun, fun things to show you!  Not the least of which is my Olympics quilt... I'll have a tutorial for that up next week-ish sometime (please note: not committing to an actual day or week is totally how I'm rolling these days!).

But for today... I'll just post a little sneak peak of something else I've been working on. My husband is a twin and he and his brother just celebrated their 40th birthday! I had so many really great plans, but the one thing that was my favorite was their Day Off. I'll post about that Monday -- that one I can commit to, because I'm just that excited about it! :)

So, until Monday -- adieu, sweet reader!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Baby Boy Quilt

A friend of mine was about to have a little baby boy (her first!) and I had the VERY last-minute idea to do a collaborative quilt for her. I used a pattern from a friend (which I think originally comes from rachelwoodenspoon -- look at the bottom of the tutorial page to find the exact dimensions we used), which we used for a different baby quilt (I did two blocks -- the one in the bottom center (!!!) and the first one on the next row).

Happily, that baby boy was born THE VERY DAY I finished quilting, so I was able to take some artsy photos. I'm learning! :)
I also washed and dried the quilt, which made it SUUUUPER soft and crinkly, and today I got to give it to him in person!
What a sweet little guy he is - and now he has a sweet little quilt to go along with him!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Vintage Picnic Cross Stitch

I just love Bonnie & Camille fabric by Moda! Those ladies are some that I truly look up to -- I just love their style and hope to be able to publish patterns myself soon! (I'm in the process of starting a little company, updates will come soon!)

I've also been a little interested in cross stitch lately -- it's just such a fun, relaxing project to do at night while Joel and I watch TV! There's no real deadline, so I just do as much as I feel like -- it's so liberating!

So, when I saw their newest line, Vintage Picnic, the main print (at least, the print on top of all the bundles -- which is the print on the right in this picture) was just BEGGING to be made into a cross stitch pattern... don't you agree?

Well, I made sure I did it as soon as I had my FQ bundle in my hot little hands -- and decided to make that pattern available to all y'all too -- after all, it's not really my pattern, right? Don't worry, I totally made sure it was okay with the fabric designers before I posted this. :)

So, here it is! Just follow THIS LINK and you will have access to the pattern! All my color choices, as well as the cross stitch chart, are listed there in a 1-page document. As always, if you have a problem downloading the pattern, please let me know -- I want my little cross stitch patterns to be available to everyone!

And this is where I put it... I think it's just about perfect! I'm NOT a professional decorator by any means, but this little entry makes me think there might be hope!
I'll probably change things up seasonally here -- I've got my cute little Valentine's Day girl and my Nordic Christmas XS, so now I feel like I might just make a few more to go with whatever holiday is there. This is SO perfect for Spring though, that I might have it up all winter long just to give me some hope!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Valentine's Girl

About a year ago, I got a cheap little seasonal project to do at night while I watch TV with Joel. I got the XS pattern by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery (check out their version -- it's super different colors!), but I just used whatever I had on hand, and didn't document what I used. When I finished it I knew I wanted to put it in this 8x8 frame, but Valentine's Day was over, so I wasn't really motivated to finish it up right then. I knew I'd remember and pull it out during the next Valentine's season, so I put it away for a little bit. Well, it was Valentine's Day again (just a couple of weeks ago!) and I finished it up, just like I'd planned -- when does that ever happen?! I think it turned out PERFECTLY sweet, and I hung it up on the 10th -- just in time for Valentine's Day!