The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

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It doesn’t feel like the most wonderful time of the year. I feel like I’ve been riding an emotional roller coaster at the state fair after eating too much cotton candy.  My head is spinning, my stomach aches and the tears are just too close to the surface. All I wanted to do this past weekend was sit in my closet and throw myself a little pity party.  I knew for sure I did not want to dress up, put a smile on and be social….but my kids did, and my good friend was hosting the party…and I didn’t want to be the chump friend who wasn’t there to help.

I plastered my public smile on, reapplied some mascara and went out into the world in something other than my pajamas.  Our little family of 5 sat down and I began to survey the room. While wondering how long we had to stay and hoping one of the kids would act up and we’d all have to go home, someone asked me to help serve food.

I’m sure you have all heard the adage that when life is hard you should loose yourself in service to others- and maybe you thought ya right, who wants my help when I’m just being a grouch.  People, I am here to say all it takes is a willing heart.  Because let me tell you how I spent Saturday evening serving ham and potatoes with a genuine smile on my face- making chit chat with those who came through my line.  Feeling grateful to have something to do and knowing I was helping in some way. Not once did I think about myself, not once did I ponder on my own problems- I just served; both literally and figuratively.

I think God really wanted to underline the point of serving others for me because the next day in church were two beautiful, I mean beautiful, talks on kindness and service. About reaching beyond our own little circle of comfort and serving/showing kindness to everyone, for no other reason than they are our fellow men.

Serving didn’t solve my problems, it didn’t even change my perspective on them- but what it did do was provide a respite from thinking about them.  I suppose one could say serving others is a form of self medication….seems a whole lot healthier than numbing my problems with alcohol or drugs. Maybe my motives for service are selfish (just hoping to feel better myself), but I don’t think that makes the acts of kindness any less valid.

It is easy to get lost in your own problems and think you have nothing to offer, but I’ll tell you what…service and kindness don’t always take money and grand gestures. Sometimes all it takes is a warm smile, sitting with someone who is alone, offering a kind word, a genuine question of “how are you?”, a simple text message saying “I’m thinking of you”.

Example is a powerful thing and I am so grateful for those I know who respond to the world with genuine kindness and an open heart. I’m grateful to see those example, because you cannot become what you don’t see.

I guess I am standing on my tiny internet platform and challenging you to reach out to others- do something today that improves the day of someone else, and I promise it will improve your day too.

 

3rd times the charm

Back in September I bought a Groupon for the Children’s Museum of Phoenix,where I used to have a membership. I thought it would be fun to take my youngest there- but I kept putting it off.  I remembered how much work it had been with the older kids, chasing two small children around from exhibit to exhibit. Monitoring to make sure they were not taking too long of a turn with the trikes, that they were sharing the race cars. Then Groupon notified me that my pass was about to expire, so I bit the bullet and took her to the Museum today.

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Oh! It was so much fun! I really enjoyed being with her and I didn’t just watch from the sidelines- we walked through the Noodle Forest together, we each made art projects in the Art Cafe, and I helped her make pizza, hot dogs and ice-cream. As we sat together making gingerbread men, she announced “I’m happy!” I about melted.

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I spent the drive home thinking about the differences between our day today and the experiences I had taking her older brother and sister to the same place. For sure it was easier because I was with ONE child instead of being out numbered, but don’t get me wrong she can have her moments when its just the two of us. I think the novelty of the CMoP affected (or should it be effected?) how she behaved. This was the first time she had been since before she was one. She was old enough to appreciate it and was just in awe of each new thing we saw.  She happily played with the glitter play-doh for a good 30 min (making hot-fish, muffins and birthday cake) and chased pigeons in between climbing.

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It reminded me of the first time we took the older children to Disneyland.  I love Disneyland, but taking my kids for the first time was even more magical.  It was one of my best memories of when they were little.  Despite the fears and mishaps they loved it, they were just so happy to be at Disneyland.  The second time we took them- about 2 years after the first. They complained and asked to go back to Grandma & Grandpa’s and eat ice-cream.  They were tired of being there and the whole experience was really not fun for anyone.

Maybe if I hadn’t had a membership all those years ago the experience of taking my kids wouldn’t have felt like/been so much work. The whole notion of entitlement and lack of gratitude. I made it too easy for them to experience fun, so easy that they got rowdy and ungrateful. I know why I got those memberships (to the zoo, the botanical garden, the CMoP)- it was under the guise of cultural enrichment, but really it was so I could get out of the freaking house at least once a week without having to drop $30! It was lonely and overwhelming for me to have two small children….at home…all the time. Had I known the long term price, I would have still done it anyway.

But this last child of mine…she is getting the best.  Its not too hard to have her home with me, I don’t mind if we never leave the house all week. Seeing her light up and truly enjoy these experiences I am able to give her on a much less frequent basis than the other two- is so worth it!

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IG-Giveaway

If you follow me on instagram you’ll see that I’m giving away one of my newest gift tags!

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Winner picks color and letter. Head over to IG to enter before I pick a winner on Monday!

If you don’t want to wait, you can purchase a custom made tag in my etsy shop right now.

 

Dinner Rolls- in just over an hour

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I’ve shared this recipe before- but wanted to re-share it as I’ve changed a few things.  This is the updated recipe, all ready for your holiday baking.  These really are light, fluffy and so good with butter!  Every time I bake these I get asked for the recipe.

supplies

Moment’s Notice Rolls
1 1/4c WARM water
1/3c oil
1/4c. white sugar
1 package rapid rise yeast (1/4 ounce)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 egg
3 1/4c white flour

**this recipe can be doubled** The printable pdf version of this recipe is HERE.

step1

Mix warm water, oil, sugar and yeast together and let sit for 15 min. This
should be long enough for the yeast to activate.  FYI if you keep
your yeast in the freezer, bring it to room temperature before you use it in
this recipe.  Yeast should be bubbly after the 15min.

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With a wooden spoon mix in salt, egg, and flour.  This dough will not be
soft and smooth like bread dough, it will be sticky.  You may add a
Tablespoon or two of extra flour to make it easier to handle.  It should
stick to the spoon but not be runny.  Let rise in a warm place for 10min.

step3

This is how your dough will look after mixing in the flour

Lay dough on a floured surface and roll into a circle , dough should be 1/2″ thick.

step6

Using a pizza cutter slice your dough into 16 slices.

step7

Roll each slice up starting at the “crust” end of your slice.

step8

step9

 

Place rolls on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Create a proofer in your own oven by preheating your oven to 170, when the oven reaches 170 turn it off.  Place a bowl of hot steamy water (be sure to remove the bowl before baking) on the bottom rack of your oven and place the rolls on the top rack.  Close the oven door and let them rise for 20 min.

step10

After they have risen preheat oven to 400.  I leave the rolls in during the preheat process and check them at 10 min, how long they cook will depend on how fast your oven heats up.  After the 10min mark (10 min from when I set the oven to preheat) I check them again at 2min intervals.  They are done when the tops are light brown.

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If you are feeling fancy you can brush the tops with butter after rising, but before baking.

I hope you family enjoys them as much a mine!

When the Well Runs Dry

I’ve been working on some sweet Holiday Gift Tags to list in the shop….I had such a good time making them, I fully admit that I listened to Christmas music as I stitched(!!!)  I knew I wanted to offer a personalized gift tag- made to order but I just couldn’t come up with a design that I liked.  I felt like I hit a creative wall, like I was trying too hard.  So I cleaned up the massive Christmas mess in my sewing room and walked away.

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I visited a local antique mall looking for some inspiration, and some inexpensive treasures.  I bought a few items (vintage bias tape, a cookie cutter and a box of shiny brites), and photographed a few more that I liked but wasn’t going to buy.

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I just adored this pillow…I could build my whole living room around this pillow and those colors.

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I loved this color scheme too….I’m starting to collect random oil paintings that I find at second hand stores. One day I’d like to have a gallery wall of small floral oil paintings.  I kinda wish I had bought this..stupid family budget!

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This 1976 wall calendar was so gaudy and over the top, but I am a sucker for sequins!  Nothing says vintage christmas to me like sequins. I think they were the embellishment of choice in the late 1950’s (apparently they had a revival in the 70’s too).

I still haven’t come up with a design for a personalized tag, but I know if I don’t obsess over it, it will come. In the meantime I have a few projects that I’m itching to start on.  The holiday tags pictured above are listed in the shop right now, and I will be adding more each week as we approach the holidays.

Time Out

TOFW

10:30 Friday night I got a text from a friend saying they had an extra ticket for the Saturday Session of TOFW and did I want to come?  My husband looked at me and said “you should go”- which means with very little warning he was agreeing to watch all of our kids, all day on a Saturday.  He’s a good man.

There were so many great speakers, but I really liked the message of Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt.  The notion that everything we do, should be done through the lens of disciples of Christ. I also felt a strong pull to the message of Emily Freeman, when she said we need to be very careful what we bring into our lives and how it can disrupt our ability to hear the spirit.  Most importantly, I came home with a clear plan of how I was going to close the gaps between the spiritual highs of Sunday and the rest of the week….and if it takes me awhile to get the plan off the ground, and if I fall short sometimes its going to be ok, because Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I paid the price today of taking time for myself yesterday though!  We’ve all been fighting some upper respiratory junk to varying degrees this week…and I hit the wall today of not having rested yesterday.  I left mid way through the first hour of church to take a nap as my head was breaking in two. I came back in time to teach my woefully under prepared lesson to the YW.  I even apologized to them about how scattered it was today.

On ward and up ward…tomorrow starts a brand new week!

 

Halloween 2014

After all the praise and attention my youngest got last year as a ballerina, my oldest daughter decided she wanted to be a ballerina this year!  Of course no new modern pattern would do for me…I scoured ebay and etsy for vintage ballerina patterns. I’ll tell ya what, those things are NOT cheap (take this one for example)!  I finally found a pattern that was affordable and in my daughters size!

(isn’t it adorable?! How could I not want to sew it?)

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I let her choose the color, and of course she went for shiny satin in bubble-gum pink!  The littlest asked to wear the ballerina outfit from last year again (who am I to say no, one less costume to worry about!)  My son, who usually doesn’t dress up, agreed that an old-time-y cartoon bank robber was cool.

The ballerina pattern was made in 1965…when leotards weren’t a thing?? The bodice and skirt are all attached, underneath is a pair of tap pants, complete with darts and a zipper!  I had expected it to be all one piece but nope, I suppose it will make going to the bathroom easier.

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I learned that all tulle is not created equal.  The most common and easy to find tulle is soft, almost netting like with medium to small “holes” in the weave.  After making and attaching the first layer (there are THREE!) of tulle, I knew it wasn’t going to work. She had specifically requested that I make the tutu stick out, not fall flat. Back I went to the store where I found stiff large holed tulle- the stuff that sticks out!  Each layer of the tutu has 216″ inches of tulle….lots and lots of tulle.

I love sewing with vintage patterns…I love seeing they way things used to be constructed (before some of the modern tricks and gadgets we have today).  Have a favorite vintage pattern yourself?  Seen something that you’d like to see sewn?  Leave me a note in the comments and let me know- I’m game to give it a go for you!

Strawberry Hot Pad

Through Instagram I joined a hot pad swap.  I was given a partner and was told what colors and styles she liked. It was a blind swap so she didn’t know I had her, and I have no idea who has my name!  After making a trial run hot pad and hemming and hawing and researching I finally came up with this sweet strawberry number.

Strawberries

I used Amy’s Pretty Little Pot Holder Tutorial for the pocket and basic shape, but drew my own pattern for the bowl of strawberries.  I’ve loaded the pdf pattern for the fruit and bowls right HERE, if you’d like to give it a go!

Lace Trim

I used Tanya Whelan’s Rosey- Paisley for my backing, linen and various scraps for the applique,  The striped binding is a Lake House Goods print.  Apply the applique to the linen piece before stitching it to the batting and back piece. Instead of adding a ruffle like Amy’s pattern calls for, I used a sweet piece of cotton lace and like the soft look it brings.

All the Goodies

I finished off my swap package by making some bias binding from a Lecien print I’ve been hoarding, some Tasha Noel FQ’s and a few of my Holiday Thank You cards.  I hope my partner is happy with it.

Hand Embroidery With Heather

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If you live in the PHX area and want to learn hand embroidery this is your chance!!  I’ll be teaching a 4 week course in October.  If I get a good response I’ll be doing it in November too!  Please share this image/blog post and help me spread the word.

For more information and for sign-ups click the image or visit HERE.

 

Summer Stitching

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A few months ago a friend of mine showed me a watercolor she had done- it was beautiful!  I asked her where she got the quote and flower design, she told me she found it on pinterest and just repainted it.  A little light bulb went off in my head!!  I am queen of not-reinventing the wheel and loved the idea of finding something you liked and then making it for yourself!

In May I pinned this

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I thought it was just beautiful and decided to take a cue from my friend and stitch it up.  It took me ALL summer long to finish it.  I made myself start with the lettering (my least favorite part) and only when that was done was I allowed to work on the gorgeous flowers.

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I got all fancy pants and used stitches I don’t regularly use for the flowers.  The round flowers are button-hole stitches sewn in round, plus a french knot or two in the center.  The leaves are a herringbone stitch, which is such a quick and pretty alternative to a satin stitch.

The whole number is backed in a fun orange/yellow/pink vintage pillow case and I added a subtle pink and white striped Lecien print as piping.

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I wish I knew who the original illustrator is, I would love to give credit where it is due, all I know is that the design was released by the LDS Church. If anyone knows- please share!

If you are at all interested in learning to do some of those fancy (and even the less fancy) embroidery stitches and you live here in the Phoenix area I’m in the planning stages of putting together a class for Tuesday evenings in October.  Email me (or leave a comment) if you are interested and I’ll email you when I secure the location.

P.S. I started another PUBLIC instagram account this weekend- I’d love it if you wanted to follow along!

http://instagram.com/heatherhalesdesigns/