Thursday, January 29, 2009

Applique Note Cards Tutorial

Run, Run, Run
Around the world.
You can't catch me...
I'm the gingerbread GIRL!

Below is this year's thank-you notes we send to those that gave us gifts at Christmas time. Our theme was Gingerbread GIRLS. My youngest was in charge of assembling them this year.

They are constructed in the same manner you would construct something you planned to applique.

SUPPLIES & TOOLS NEEDED: Small scraps of cotton fabric, fusible web (the kind that can fuse two pieces of fabric together. There is a type that can be sewn and there is a type that should not be sewn. I use the type that should NOT be sewn), 8-1/2 inch by 11 inch cardstock, scissors, and an iron

STEP 1: Find a simple design that you would like to use for the "applique". You can design your own -- just be certain that it is a very plain and simple design. An excellent source can be a coloring book intended for a very young child. You can make a reduced copy of it on a copier.

STEP 2: Decide the colors you want for each detail. For instance, we chose a red print fabric for the gingerbread girl's dress and dark green for collar, cuffs, and shoes. (I sometimes color in the picture to help me decide just what colors I like for each detail.

STEP 3: If you want your card to say something, either print it on by hand or use your computer to do the job for you as I chose to do. If you use the computer, be certain to do it BEFORE you fuse any fabric to the card.

STEP 4: Cut cardstock in half to make to pieces that measure 5-1/2" x 8-1/2". Fold each piece in half to form card.

STEP 5: Make individual patterns of each piece you will be using in the applique design. VERY IMPORTANT NOTE. You will be layering these pieces on top of each other. So when you make your patterns, plan for how the pieces will go down. For instance, for our gingerbread girl. We made a pattern for the entire body of the gingerbread girl. We DID NOT just cut out her face, hands, and legs. Her body would be the foundation for the other pieces. You can make your pattern pieces from paper, but I perfer cardstock because it is easier to draw around and lasts longer if I am making several cards (which is usually the case).

STEP 6: Fuse the fusible web to the wrong side of the material according to the manufacturer's directions. Leave the paper backing attached at this point.

STEP 7: Draw around each pattern piece on the paper backing which you fused on the appropriate fabric. REMEMBER TO DRAW IT THE OPPOSITE OF HOW YOU WISH IT TO APPEAR ON THE FRONT. If you desire a item such as this arrow 3to point to the left on the card, then you must flip it to point right 4when you are drawing around it.

STEP 8: Cut out all pieces.

STEP 9: Now you are ready to begin layering your design on the front of the cardstock. Be certain that your iron is NOT set for steam. You want to use a DRY iron. Also, do NOT use a hot setting (this will scorch the paper). I usually use the "synthetic" setting. Remove the paper backing. Place fusible web next to cardstock and press with the iron. To time how long to hold the iron there, I count from 1 to 10. I also cover the entire card with a piece of thin paper; this saves my iron plate free from any fusible residue.

STEP 10: Continue to layer the design and press in place in the manner described in Step 8.

STEP 11: Now you can add any "fun" little extras you like. For instance, we painted on facial features and buttons. We tied a scrap of fabric into a knot and glued it to her head as a bow. (A girl's got to have a little decoration, you know.) You can use ribbon to make lines or buttons to make wheels on a car. You are limited only by your IMAGINATION!

I usually make up several of one kind when I am making these little notecards. I don't put a message inside ... it makes a cute little blank note card, perfect for a thank you or a short note to a friend. But again, the choice is yours -- a message can be printed inside the card if you like. I've been able to pick up some little envelopes to fit at a local surplus store. You could also make your own.
6 - 10 cards tied together with a ribbon, make a nice little gift.

These are extremely easy to make. I hope this "triggers" your imagination and that you have fun making them.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Winter Lights



I thought I'd share a little bit of the view around our home over the past couple weeks.

My dear husband took this first picture. I love the play of the lights and the dark contrast of the tree limbs.



This is one of my favorite views -- the barn (not ours) behind our house. I guess it reminds me that I no longer live in the city, but in the country -- where I have always longed to live. This is what I see anytime I work at the kitchen sink.



I always have mixed feeling about snow. First, it means cold weather. Besides that, it means the inconvenience and added work of clearing driveways and sidewalks. The "big plus" for me is that snow reflects and magnifies light. Dreary winter days with not much light can play havoc with me. So, I like it when there is snow on the ground, a clear sky, and plenty of snow to reflect the light.


Another image of the winter light playing in the trees.



Winter does have its perks.

Our Man-child





I'm not sure just how we would have dug out from "under" all the snow over the past weeks if it had not been for my dear son. Last year Bill had allowed him to try using the snowblower a few times, but he was just a little too short to have good control of it. Bill was unable to handle the snowblower this year because of his recent leg injury, so he had to give our manchild a refresher course.











A year's worth of growing was just the edge needed and this year he had no trouble handling the job.




He was enjoying his new chore way too much! What is it about guys and noisy machines?


We had more clear area around the house than we ever had. He couldn't find enough snow to clear --




He even objected to anyone else shoveling. His little sister was finally allowed to dig around the car tires -- I guess he was feeling generous.





All kidding aside, he really took over and kept us clear and accessible. He really is becoming a man and a GREAT HELP to his dad.

Our Woman-child

We start school each morning at 8:15 with morning worship and Bible. Then we continue doing schoolwork until each of my three students has finished his schoolwork that has been scheduled for that day.

I am not a good multi-tasker, nor do I deal well with deadlines. So the method of school I just described works best for us. Only the most URGENT of errands are ever run during the school day. Grocery shopping and such is usually done together as a family in the evening.

At least that was the case until this school year. Life & schedules seem to have been turned topsy-turvey. I don't deal well when things go astray from the normal routine. I end up ,as Bilbo Baggins would say, " feeling thin... sort of stretched... like butter spread over too much bread."

Last Friday, I had to drive half an hour away to attend a required workshop/class (DON'T EVEN ASK?!) There was no way to get out of it. On top of that it was a school day. NATURALLY!

I flustered around before I left, trying to put everyone on track to complete the schoolwork I wanted accomplished and giving my elder daughter instructions to throw some chicken in the crockpot with some seasonings as I headed for the door. At least the meat will be ready when I got home.

Four hours later, I was tired and on my way home again. Okay, what would I have with the chicken? At this point I neither felt like thinking NOR cooking.

When I walked in the door, a wonderful aroma came wafting though the house. Ohhhh! does that chicken smell good ... By the time I got to the kitchen, I realized there was more than JUST the smell of chicken. Precious daughter was also pulling baked corn (mmmm... a favorite of mine) and scalloped potatoes from the oven.



At that moment she could not have given me a better gift. No need for me to rush around and finish getting the dinner, and I even got to eat comfort food to boot -- Talk about the sweet life!


I find her stepping in and giving me a hand when I seem to most need it. One more step in growing up. I have to say I don't know what I'd do without my woman-child's help either.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chocolate - Mint Cake Roll Recipe

My Christmas gift from the kids has been getting quite a workout -- to my son's delight.

Trouble is, if I keep up all this baking, I'm gonna turn into the Pillsbury Doughboy's twin. On him, it's cute. On me, I don't think so!!




I love to serve cake rolls, and this is my latest creation. It is very light and refreshing which makes serving it after a heavy meal work just as well as serving it alone with a cup of coffee.
I find that this is served best frozen. As well as the mint filling which is my creation, I will also include the recipe for a coffee cream filling. I haven't made the coffee filling yet, but it might sound good to the coffee-lovers out there.

CHOCOLATE ROLL

1/2 cup sifted cake flour
3 Tbsp. cocoa
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. skim milk
4 egg whites
1/8 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. sugar

Coat a 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly roll pan with cooking spray and line with waxed paper. Coat waxed paper with cooking spray and set aside.

Sift together flour, cocoa and baking powder; set aside.

Beat egg yolks with electric mixer (high speed) until thick. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup of sugar (1 Tbsp. at a time). Add 2 Tbsp. skim milk. beating well. Fold in flour mixture.

Beat (room temperature) egg whites and salt -- until foamy; gradually add 3 Tbsp. of sugar (1 Tbsp. at a time), beating until peaks are stiff, but not dry. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 10 to 12 minutes.

Immediately loosen cake from sides of pan and turn out onto a linen or cotton tea towel sprinkled with sugar. Peel off wax paper. Starting at short side, roll up cake and towel together. Place seam side down on a wire rack and cool completely.

Unroll cake and remove towel. Spread with choice of filling below and re-roll. Freeze at least 24 hours before serving. To serve, take from freezer and immediately cut into 12 slice and serve while frozen.


MINT CREAM FILLING

1 (1.25 oz.) envelope whipped topping mix
1/2 cup skim milk
1 Tbsp. confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp. mint extract
1 drop of green food coloring


Combine all ingredients in deep narrow bottom bowl. Whip at high speed with an electric mixer about 4 minutes or until topping is light and fluffy.


COFFEE CREAM FILLING

1 (1.25 oz.) envelope whipped topping mix
1/2 cup skim milk
3/4 tsp. instant coffee powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or almond extract (I think I might try this with hazelnut)
1 Tbsp. confectioner's sugar

Combine all ingredients in deep narrow bottom bowl. Whip at high speed with an electric mixer about 4 minutes or until topping is light and fluffy.



Mmmm . . . Mmmm Good!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

HAVE AN ICE DAY!

When I was younger, it would snow (but not melt) and then it would snow again on top of the first. Little by little the snow on the ground would grow -- ankle-high, knee-high, and sometimes snow drifts above my head. Now I'll grant you that I was shorter then, but it was still pretty impressive. Snow forts, snowball battles, and opportunities for sled riding were plentiful. If we were granted a day off school due to snow in the winter, it was a rarity. I'm showing my age here.

In recent winters, though, we have been getting a little snow now and then. However, even if we get a "big" snow in the last few years, it has melted away within a week. Two-hour school delays for even a skiff of snow are the growing trend. Good snow-y outdoor fun is scarce.

This year however, the latest trend for us seems to be ice storms. We just got pelted with our second one in just about as many weeks. It feels as though we just finished clearing all the broken branches and such from the yard following the last ice storm. Now ice storms don't provide much in the way of outdoor fun, but they sure are pretty. . .





That is until you start to consider the damage they do! The last ice and wind storm managed to rip the roof vent off my sister-in-law's house. Her husband risked life and limb on a ladder, trying to cover it with a tarp before any more interior damage could be done.


But as long as you don't think about the damage that might be occuring around you, or as long as you can stay cozy and warm inside, it really is rather spectacular to look at.



However, today was not one of those mornings that I could stay warm and cozy inside pouring over schoolwork. This morning was the one rare morning when I had to leave the house. I had one of those manditory appointments that have severe repercusions if you miss. So at 8 AM I was leaving the house for a 40 minute drive to my appointment.



This is what our lane looked like. It's a gravel lane, but the gravel was COMPLETELY covered with ice, and the ice was made even more slick by the rain that was falling upon it.

Now I was not the only one leaving the house at this time. My husband's ride for work was an hour late arriving. So he, too, was leaving. The ice on the lane was treacherous. In order to keep Bill upright my son helped him walk down through the yard (which is on a slight grade) rather than walk down the driveway where he could get NO footing. He finally made it to the bottom of the yard and into the car. The driver had come around to help my son steady him as he got into the car. (For those of you who don't know, my husband is recovering from major leg surgery which has limited the range of motion in his leg. Ice underfoot is particularly difficult for him.)

Anyway, he gets settled into the passenger seat, the door still open, when the car begins to slide backwards toward the road WITHOUT A DRIVER. Amid squeals and pounding hearts from the spectator's, he uses his handy-dandy walking stick to reach across to the driver's side and then uses it to push the foot brake. Car stops -- sighs are left out -- prayers of thanksgiving are whispered.

Never a dull moment! Anyone know of any job openings or homes available further South? ;D

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Unexpected





Grammy and Pappy came to our house late Christmas morning and spent the day with us. Pappy loves to play pinochle and often stops by our house to find three other players. Christmas day eventually found us playing a game of Pinochle.


Our youngest is an excellent pinochle player, but only plays when a fourth player cannot be found. She prefers a rousing game of Skip-bo with Grammy. I have enough needlework projects to keep me busy while the others play cards. We talk and laugh the whole time. This was the manner in which the day was going when late in the afternoon, our kids brought in a large gift wrapped box and told me to open it. This is what I found when I did . . .



Again the flood of thoughts that had submerged me earlier that morning came plunging down upon me taking my breath and preventing me from saying a word.

I had rarely seen our children so excited about Christmas as I did this year -- at least not since they were very young. This thought crossed my mind several times in the days preceding Christmas. When we talked about what they wanted for Christmas, they really didn't mention anything that they particularly wanted. I was a little puzzled as to why they were so excited. I knew they were aware that things had been tight for us lately and that this Christmas would be even more sparse than normal. So it just didn't seem to make sense to me. Looking back I now recall them saying to me from time to time, "I can't wait 'til you see what we got you" or "You're really gonna like your present."

NOW it all makes sense!! They have grasped the fact that "it is more blessed to give than to receive."


When I gently chided them for spending THEIR money on me, my son assured me that it was an investment. It would be easier for me to make treats and that would mean more treats (and it has. Although, I'm not sure that is good! LOL) MY daughters consoled me by saying that they were hoping to be able to use the mixer, too!

My children are not perfect, NOR are their parents. There are times when I'm am discouraged by our failure to live in a way that would please our heavenly Father. You know the usual things -- occassional sibling squabbles, the unthoughtful word, etc. And then, there are the times when I marvel at gestures such as this one. I find joy in an unexpected encouraging word, a helping hand, a warm hug, a sympathetic gesture, an apology given and accepted, or the laughter of the kids as they interact. Our family is a work in progress. How thankful I am for Christ Jesus' forgiveness of our sinful failures, and how grateful I am to Him for each time He picks us up and enables us to move forward!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Gift Within A Gift

As anyone could tell from one look at the sidebars, I love to make clothes for 18" dolls. I have a Springfield doll of my own that I use for fitting my new disigns and to model my creations. A few years ago my youngest daughter saved her money and bought Molly (who has, also, modeled several of my creations). I have also bought a couple well-used American Girl dolls that I have cleaned up and for which I have made outfits and then resold.


Each time the new American Girl doll catalog comes in the mail, we females in the household pour over it and glean ideas from it; but other than the doll my youngest bought a few years back, that as far as it goes -- we never buy anything.

So you can imagine what a shock it was for me to open one Christmas gift from my children to me and find this . . .



My very own Samantha doll!

While looking at the AG catalog a few months back, the girls realized that Samantha was being retired. Knowing that I especially like her, they connived with their brother to buy it for me for Christmas. They even drew their dad into the plot . . . When they had gathered their money together, they went to Dad to have him order the doll.


My sweet husband and I decided to stop giving Christmas gifts to each other when our children came along. Money was in short supply when the kids were very young; we figured that what we really needed we had. We have never gone overboard buying gifts at Christmas for the children, trying to keep the emphasis on the fact that Christmas is a celebration of Christ Jesus' birth, NOT a celebration of consumerism. The kids have always given a small gift to one another and to us.

When I unwrapped their gift to me, I was flabbergasted -- part of me was delighted and the other part of me was screaming inside, "No ... they don't have this kind of money to spend! There are things that they have wanted to buy for themselves -- things they have been saving for!" Then I looked at their faces, and they were BEAMING with the Joy of Giving. That's when I received a far greater gift, the realization that out of hearts of love and sacrifice they had gathered together their meager earnings simply to bring joy to another. They are growing up, and Christ is completing that good work that He has begun in them. Tears welled up in my eyes at the thought.

They laughed at me as I sat with Samantha on my lap most of the morning. Each time I look at this doll now, I think of my children and the TRUE gift they gave me this Christmas.


Later, in the afternoon they gave me another gift. However, that story will have to wait 'til another day, because I have work that MUST get done.
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