You Say Black Friday, I say JoAnn’s

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Black Friday purchase

I did it; I got up with the crazies this morning and stood in line before our neighborhood JoAnn’s with my 20% off coupon in hand a visions of fleece and flannel dancing through my head. I actually ran to the right section, grabbed with might and within 20 minutes was waiting for my stash to be cut. Would you believe I was within the first 15 in the store and it still took an hour? There were people with carts full of bolts in front of me and four taxed women with scissors blazing behind the counter.

It was fun to hear what others were working on — many were dashing through the aisles to gather greatly discounted supplies for charity projects. There was much chatter about different hospital groups and cancer patients receiving soft, sweet new blankets soon.

Although I would have loved the search the racks at Tarjay for some new clothing and books, I headed home to get to sewing. I’ve got enough fabric here for 10 Christmas gifts and a little more than three weeks to make this happen. Nothing like a deadline and a deal to get me motivated. This fleece was $6 a yard, but today $1.49 and with my coupon I got the entire lot for less than $70. Just doing my part to help the economy, that is.

Hope your Thanksgiving was plentiful and peaceful!


With Gratitude

Africa 2008 576

May you be blessed with Faith
Faith that casts out fear and gives hope.
May you be blessed with Friends.
Friends to share your love and bless you with theirs.
May you be blessed with Love.
Love to share in joy and comfort in need.
And may you have Peace.
That nothing may disturb you.

— Irish prayer

Happy Thanksgiving to all,


Finny & Donk’s Sewing Adventure: Final Project

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Dear Fin,

Hello dahling! How are you? I am so, so happy this morning. I was able to sleep in and woke up to the sound of rain. In Arizona, this is one of the most precious sounds. I was thrilled! My dad arrived last night and even though our plans of taking a lovely desert hike were drenched, we decided to hit the gym for a bit before heading off to breakfast. We’ll see a movie today and maybe go bowling.

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I LOVE Father/Daughter days. It has been forever since we’ve had one. But back to the details: I finished our project! I sewed these up as sample Christmas cards. I know how much you love, ahem, Christmas swag. But you’ll have to admit these are pretty cute thanks to my new Martha Stewart birdie stamps. And your cards came out super cute. I thought maybe you’d rock the Hanukkah cards with the star pattern, but you went an entirely different (and pretty) direction.

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So, what will we do next? I think we need some fantastic new sew-along idea to balance out how much this book has bummed me out. It just didn’t live up to its potential. Am I the only one that feels this way? It doesn’t help that last year’s sew-along book and projects were simply SO rad! Ideas?

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Okay, off to breakfast and movies and bowling. Got to run! Love you mucho and hope you and Bubba have a fabulous, 1980s-themed Thanksgiving!



Autumn Treasure

Pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving

Pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving

Pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving

Pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving

Pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving

Pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving 017 Pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving

I’m in a serious baking groove this week — 10 loaves so far with plans for 4 more. This pumpkin zucchini batch will be delivered tomorrow to celebrate my favorite holiday of the year: Thanksgiving.

Oh, Thanksgiving, how I love thee. All the joys of Christmas without the awkward gift-giving, topped with a dollop of vacation days, time to shop and the perfect excuse to craft with girlfriends. Have I mentioned I’m also a wee bit excited my dad arrives tomorrow? My mom will soon follow. It is going to be a family feast and I cannot wait to dig in.


Jars of Renewal: Sweet Treats

Jars of Renewal: Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds

Jars of Renewal: Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds

Jars of Renewal: Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds

Jars of Renewal: Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds

Jars of Renewal: Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds

Do you have men in your life who you want to treat to homemade gifts but who recoil at the thought of anything crafted? Yeah. I’ve got a bunch of those too. I’ve spent way, way too much time and energy in the past trying to change their minds with felted pencil holders, embroidered pot holders, and even a man bag or two. I haven’t known my audience well.

When J asked me last week if I’d ever heard of chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, I knew what the next Jars of Renewal project would be. Jason is the husband of one of my best friends and father to a small cadre of children who I adore. He is also the brains behind the design of this site and worthy of all the tailored spoiling I can muster.

I bought a large jar of roasted sunflower seeds, two large dark chocolate Hershey’s bars and threw them together on a cookie sheet. This then went in the freezer for an hour and then I carefully broke the pieces apart by hand before filling the jars. A simple, salty-sweet treat I’m guessing most men (women, children, monkeys) would love.


Fly By Weekend

Weekend Joys

Weekend Joys

Weekend Joys

Weekend Joys

Christmas card making

Weekend Joys

Weekend joys

More Portuguese sweet bread baking (although this time I ditched the raisins and instead added lemon zest. It was fantastic! I made the muffins for a potluck this afternoon and as a dry-run for Thanksgiving.)

Weekend Joys

Weekend Joys

A bit of sewing too. Market bags and new fabric (bunkeys!) for a Christmas project.

What I didn’t manage to photograph was the 7-mile run Saturday morning that left me lame most of the weekend. It was the brutal reminder I needed to: get off the treadmill and back outside for longer runs, clean up my diet and get out of my exercise rut. I’ve got my workout clothes ready for a 5-miler tomorrow and hope to start increasing my mileage to 20-25 a week. When I’m running that much I find my mind is more focused, I’m more emotionally even and I am much happier with the way my jeans fit. With turkey day around the corner, my new found enthusiasm for my Nikes is perfectly timed.

Hope your weekend was also fabulous, but that it moved considerably slower than mine.


Roscoe and Eloise

Meggie, Roscoe, Scott

My friends Meghann and Scott were in town this weekend to celebrate their son Roscoe’s first birthday. Any excuse I can get to spend with Meg’s family — the Brennans — I take. They are such a fun, down to earth group and there is always a cornucopia of food and booze.

More icing than you can imagine

Digging in

The Cake!

Roscoe, in all of his cookie monster cake excitement, was also spoiled with gifts. Meg put together a beautiful collection of photos from the last year that she put to music on a DVD. It was a party-stopper. The rest of us brought silly things, like a Wee Wonderfuls fleece bunny:


Bunny tail

This celebration was doubly special because Meg’s younger sister Katie is expecting her first babe with her hubby Henry. Their little girl — Eloise — will be here mid-March. The entire Irish clan has their green fingers crossed for a St. Patty’s day birth. Of course, being the pseudo-African in the room, I brought a little ethnic flare to celebrate the kid — a fleece and Mozambican capulana taggie blanket.

Ribbons for a new babe

Tag Blanket, inside African flare

I know these blankets are worthwhile because the last one I gave away went to Katie, whose mother sent me the following photo as proof:


If I ever needed a spokesmodel, I think I just found the perfect babe.



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I went more than a month without sewing and in the last four days have completed half a dozen projects. It is apparently feast or famine in my sewing world and this week I am dining at the creative buffet. I have to keep reminding myself to go to stop and go to bed; I’ve been in the zone. Here’s to hoping this continues through the weekend; I’m busting through my holiday to-make list, including the very last Finny & Donk Sewing Adventures project from Simple Gifts to Stitch.

Communion Table Runner
Communion Table Runner, backing

This table runner came from sitting in church for months and staring at the communion table. I started thinking how I could represent everything I love about this church in a simple project. The result is a mini quilt that includes all the colors of the rainbow, with fabrics from several countries, happily stitched together and stamped with our church’s motto — A Place for All People. I gave it to my minister this morning and he was happy, which in turn made me feel like it was all worthwhile.

While the scraps were out and the iron was plugged in, I sewed a quilt square for a community quilting project I’m participating in too. If you know my family, you are probably shaking your head. Nope, I don’t have Prince blasting on the radio and I’m not wearing a braided headband (long story), but yes, I am slowly morphing into my mother.

Happy weekend to all!

P.S. The site is being worked on this weekend. Hope to be back early next week.

Tag! You are it.

RIng of labels

I love handmade tags for gifts. I think they often work much better than a card and use considerably less resources. I usually stamp sticky tags for the holidays but this year I thought I’d go with a parcel tag instead.

Tag example
Labels and tag supplies
Labels, tags, etc.
Remnants of a lable project

I used this tag as my example — which I made during one of my many scrapbook getaways at the Brennan house — to cut out 50 or so tags for upcoming gifts. The entire project took about 30 minutes and cost $2. Granted, they still need to be stamped and embellished, but they are a great canvas for that neighborhood bread project and the stack of presents needing to be wrapped. The alternative was a $40 box of tags from Staples. I’m a crafty frugalista.


P.S. The winners of the neighbor-bread tag contest are:
Lori: ‚ÄúBread for myself is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one.‚Äù — Nikolai Berdyaev &
Teresa “Prairie Girl”: “Bread – that this house may never know hunger. Salt – that life may always have flavor. Wine – that joy and prosperity may reign forever.”
Your tags are going in the mail this week! Thank you for all of your great suggestions.

Craft Patriot

A craft splurge

I have been pretty diligent about not purchasing more art supplies for the last 6 months. I’ve created knitting projects from scrap, made journals with left over pieces of paper, and sewn myself silly with my stashed supply. However, the holidays bring a new list of projects that required a bit of splurging. Plus, I heard the economy could use us to all spend a bit. Patriotically, I obliged.

New paper supplies

I spent an afternoon with Charlene {Kinchie}, and she introduced me to two new paper stores nearby. I was lucky to have escaped for less than $30.

Cigar box

How great is this cigar box? It is from Nicaragua {swoon!} and it is reused. I’m going to add some sass and create a correspondence kit as one of many handmade holiday gifts.

New baby gift supplies

Soft yellow fleece and new ribbon for tag baby blankies. If I were a considerably more talented and patient seamstress, I’d consider a project like this. How amazing is that Frida quilt and the process? Caray.

What are you working on?