A New Chirstmas Tradition

Sunday, December 27, 2009
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas weekend. We sure did! We enjoyed a nice family meal on Thursday evening which consisted of Honey Baked Ham, asparagus, rice stuffing, and fruit salad. We had the kids in bed by 8pm and then the final wrapping, counting, and organizing of presents began. I had to make sure the kids had the same number of presents because I thought there would be hurt feelings if they didn't. EJ ended up with 2 more gifts than Ellie Mae and I was trying so hard to "figure it all out!" I thought about taking a few away and saving them as birthday presents but my really "mean and doesn't know anything" husband wrapped them all up and set them out and said "they shouldn't care and neither should you."

Well for some stupid reason I let that get me all upset and I kind of let it ruin my night (at least for a good hour.) I was just so worried about the imminent tantrum and hurt feelings that my kids were sure to have the next morning. You know what? Mr. PD was sooo right. The kids didn't even notice!!! We just let them take turns back and forth opening presents and we let Ellie Mae open up some of the "family" gifts to make up for her lack of gifts. let me re-iterate.... they DIDN"T care!!! Really I don't know why I even made such a big deal. {sheesh}

On Christmas day we enjoyed watching the kids unwrap their presents and were glad that they were pleased with every one of their gifts. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner with friends that night. There was so much food and it was all soooo good!

We did start a new tradition this year though. I don't remember where I read this, at first I thought it was from a comment I had received but I went back through my comments and could not find it anywhere. It must have come from someones blog {so THANK YOU whoever you were!} The new tradition consists of buying a new ornament for our kids every year. A special thoughtful ornament that represents some achievement in their life for that year. Then when that child is married you give them all of their ornaments as a wedding or Christmas present. How cool is that!? We all know how tight money is that first year without having to worry about buying home decor items. I may have to do this for us (as a couple) and add a new ornament every year that represents something special.

For EJ I wanted to get something that represented his first year of school. For Ellie Mae I wanted something to represent her love of ballerinas. Well we didn't decide to do this until 3 days before Christmas, and those were slim pickins at all the ornament shops! I finally settled on some Alabama football players to represent our move to good ole Alabama. Roll Tide! {I found them Christmas Eve!}

Advent Calendar Tutorial

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I don't blame you for giving up on me. What can I say? This is usually a pretty busy time for everyone, myself included. Time just has a way of flying by and I have to prioritize my time and family time is always gonna trump blogging {sorry folks, it's just the harsh reality! LOL} I was pretty busy having fun and enjoying my mom on her visit. Sadly I dropped her off at the airport bright and early this morning. Believe it or not my mom's visit wasn't really the hold up on the tutorial, I somehow managed to misplace the dang tutorial a second time! *grins sheepishly* So to make up for it I actually went through and made it all spiffy looking with Illustrator so you wouldn't have to loose your mind trying to decipher my chicken scratch hand writing.

I'll try to post a close up of a few of my stockings as soon as the weather cooperates and the sun peeks through the nasty dark gloomy clouds hanging out covering my bright blue AL skies.

Click to be taken to the file download page. Click "start download" to download the PDF file.

Giveaway Winners

Monday, December 7, 2009
I had such a fun time reading all your comments from the Sew Mama Sew give away. It seems that most of the favorite ornaments are those that have special meaning. It seems like some of the most treasured ornaments are those that some of you made 15-30 years ago when you were little. I've taken note and will be saving some of the ones my children make so I can give them to them when they are grown. I love that some of you display your "ugly" ones proudly front and center. Some of you give them a place of honor in the back of the tree! Still on the tree no less!

I wish I could give each of you a silhouette but I received 144 comments! {a record for me} So I have decided to give away 3 silhouettes instead of the 1 I had originally planned on.

So the winners are (chosen by Random Number Generator):
#70, #6, and #25

Congrats to Kris #6: Those are beautiful! I would love to win!

Melissa #25: My favorite ornaments are the ones my kids make at school and church each year- especially the ones with pictures of them! Those silhouettes are darling- I'd love one!

Tiffany #70: I got your silhouettes for my kids last year! Love them, and would be thrilled to win more ;) Favorite ornament is a hallmark godchild from 1976. Too fragile to hang, but is dearly loved!

In other news, I found the tutorial for the stocking advent calendar so look for it later tonight or early tomorrow morning!

Tutorial Delay

Friday, December 4, 2009
I had the tutorial for the stocking advent calendar all written up and ready to be scanned into my computer the night before last. Now I can't find my piece of paper!!! I know I put it somewhere safe {so it would be safe from the kids, dogs, and hubby} yeah well that worked out great cause I can't find it anywhere! Seriously I have a short term memory. I really should have made Mr. PD put it somewhere safe from me! I'm keeping my eyes open through out the day and I'll post as soon as I find it. Although I have a feeling I will need to write it up again!! It also might not be until tomorrow because I get to have my mom over for a visit all the way from sunny California! Yay!

PS I get my forgetfulness from my lovely mother who has been known to be frantically looking for her keys while they are in her hand, or for her cell phone when she is on it talking to me! I'm not that bad {yet.}

Paper Stocking Advent Calendar

Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I love having an advent calendar in my home. It helps to keep the "is it Christmas tomorrow?" questions to a minimum. I made my little calendar 2-3 years ago and it is one of my favorite things to get out for Christmas. It was super simple to make and looks awesome. I've gotten tons of compliments on my calendar.

Sometimes I display it like a garland on some ribbon, or on a dead tree branch as you can see in the picture below. This picture was taken on Thanksgiving and there it is next to the TV and my little guy. Well it kept falling over and I just couldn't get it to stay put. Usually when I opt to display it like this I put it in a really tall vase then fill the base with those floral gems. Well I apparently left my really tall vase in storage in TN.

I was getting pretty fed up with stockings falling off any time my kids went near it. So I looked around for another idea and realized I had some extra garlands {because I don't have any banisters, or columns in AL, sad} so I strung one up across the living room/dining room cased opening. I then used ornament hooks to hang up each of the little stockings.

{and just so you know we keep it real over here in the PD household I didn't bother to clean up the toys, backpack, or the bag of trash the dog is finding really interesting!}

At first I started to hang up the stockings in numerical order but then I realized that it would look odd half way through the month with stockings on only on half of the garland. So I took them down and then put them back up in a random order. Each little stocking holds 2 little Hershey's Kisses (one for each of my kiddos) and a little slip of paper with an activity to do that day. The activities are little things and things already in our calendar {hey, it's not like my kids know!} such as color Christmas pictures, make gingerbread houses, church Christmas party, and picking up Grandma from the airport.

I'm working on the pattern to post tomorrow so you can make your own stocking calendar. I love advent calendars so if you've got one posted on your blog share the link with me, I'd love to see it.

It's here, It's finally here!

Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day 2009!

I'm giving away one of my custom Digital Portrait Silhouettes. Like these:

My giveaway is open to international entrants as well!

I'll even give you 2 chances to win!

Post a comment telling me what your favorite Christmas ornament is for one entry.

Follow my blog (or if you already do) and post a second comment telling me you do.

I'll pick a winner on Sunday December 6th!

In case you are wondering, my favorite Christmas ornament is the 2002 Swarovski Annual Christmas ornament.

It was given to us on the year we got married by a very special friend of mine (my German, social studies, and Seminary teacher - all in one!) We then started the tradition of buying that year's ornament every Christmas. We will be getting ornament #8 shortly in the mail. I can't wait to Have my tree decked out with 25, or maybe even 50 ornaments someday! It's just a lovely visual reminder of our time together as a family.

Don't forget to visit Sew Mama Sew for the master list of giveaways!

The worst Christmas tree EVER!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Last year we decided to have make a wonderful Christmas memory and cut down our own Christmas tree {all Mr. PD's big idea.} We even went to a tree farm in TN were we lived. We were all excited until we got there and they told us that the only trees they had for cutting down were Leyland Cypresses or White Pine trees. Once I took a look at the selections I tried my hardest to convince Mr. PD to buy me one of my favoritest already pre-cut Frasier Firs. {Love!}

But NO! Mr. PD would have none of that. So between the two available selections I chose the lesser of the "ugly" trees. Ugly trees! not real Christmas trees at all. {no offense if they happen to be your choice of Christmas tree.} There was no talking my hubby into buying the already cut Frasier Firs, NO we were going to create a tradition! So we ended up with a Leyland Cypress.

Fast forward to when we start decorating the tree. My arms broke out in little red bumps and itched like crazy! I was allergic to the stupid thing! So Mr. PD and the kids got to do all the decorating while I supervised and gave constructive criticism.

Fast forward to when it was time to take it down. The stupid tree dried up so much that the needles were super poky like thorns! We managed to get all the ornaments off and most of the lights as well. Our arms were scratched up and bleeding from the tiny paper cut like scratches the tree decided to give us. Then I just looked at Mr. PD and said, "it can keep the lights!" We then took it outside light and all and dumped it in the back yard where we let it really dry out before burning the dang thing!

Never again! This year we got a nice Douglas fir and I tested it on my arms before bringing it home! Mr. PD definitely created a Christmas memory that we will never forget!

Do you have any "fun" {after the fact} holiday memories?

Give Away Day

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This year I have decided to join Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day! What will I give away? You'll have to wait til Dec 2nd to find out! Make sure you head on over to Sew Mama Sew on Dec 2nd to see the complete list of blog participants giving stuff away. Trust me the list gets huge!

Thanksgiving Menu

Monday, November 23, 2009
What's on your Thanksgiving menu?

We are trying out a couple of new things and keeping some of our tried and true favorites. This year we are foregoing the turkey {again.} We are just not turkey fans in this household! It's too dry, there's too much of it, and the kids hardly peck at it. That leaves a 10lb + bird for Mr. PD and myself to eat. There's only so much you can do with leftovers before you swear off turkey for good. I must say that the best turkey we ever had was a deep fried turkey! {mmmm... drooling just thinking about it! Gotta love the south and it's love for deep frying everything!}

For the last couple of years Mr. PD has been given Honey Baked Ham gift certificates from work and sub contractors. I have not had to cook a holiday meal (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter) for a couple of years! Sadly since we are no longer with his previous employer we won't be getting any gift certificates this year. Mr. PD was kind enough to offer to buy Honey Baked for Thanksgiving but I wanted to give this whole holiday cooking another shot {I did tell him I'd take him up on the offer for Christmas.} So this year we are trying duck!

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
at the Petit Debutant household

Spinach Dip and Crackers {tried and true fave}

Main Course:
Honey Duck {new this year}
Rice Stuffing
{tried and true fave}
Lemon Garlic Asparagus {tried and true fave}
Fresh Rolls

Sweet Potato Pie

Sparkling Berry Cider
Cranberry Pomegranate Cider {new this year}

Here are the other recipes I will be using.

Cranberry Pomegranate Cider
1 64 oz cranberry juice
1 64 oz pomegranate juice
3/4 c sugar
1 TBSP whole cloves (tied up in a little scrap of fabric)
1 orange sliced

Combine all ingredients in a large dutch oven/pot. Bring to a simmer over med heat fro 20 minutes, remove cloves. Garnish with orange slices. Serve warm

I recently had this at a Relief Society activity and it was awesome! {if you like the tartness of cranberries and pomegranates, otherwise you won't like it!} I am cheating slightly, I don't need to make such a large batch so I found a 100% juice cran/pom mix tat I will be using as the base. I'll also be using my crock pot for this so as not to take up my large pot.

Rice Stuffing (from an old Betty Crocker cookbook, I think)
2/3 c uncooked regular white rice
1 med stalk celery chopped (about 1/2 c)
1 small onion chopped (about 1/4 c)
2 TBSP margarine/butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/3 c raisins {years ago I substituted Craisins and my entire family has never looked back!}
1/4 tsp paprika
4 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

Cook rice as directed. Cook celery, onion, margarine, salt and pepper in a 10 inch skillet until celery is tender; remove from heat. In a large bowl combine celery mixture with rice, walnuts, raisins/cranberries, paprika and bacon.

Sweet Potato Pie
3-4 sweet potatoes cooked
1/4 c evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c butter melted
3 eggs beaten
1 1/2 c sugar
1 small can crushed pineapple (6-8oz)
1 c shredded coconut
1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat until mixed thoroughly. Pour filling into crust and bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean.

Lemon Garlic Asparagus
We have no recipe for this dish. Mr. PD does a great job with this dish. Basically take some fresh asparagus spears and saute in some olive oil. Season with a little bit of garlic salt and sprinkle with lemon juice. You can also add some almond slivers to it.

I'm Thankful...

Friday, November 20, 2009
for the beautiful world Heavenly Father created for me and my family.

Hikes are so much fun through rustly crinkly leaves and with pine cones to kick all over the trail!

I'm grateful for sights like this that I can share with my children.

And I am grateful for the wonderful diversity and beautiful detail of "insignicicant" things

What beautiful creations are you thankful for?

These photos were taken at Oak Mountain State Park near Birmingham, AL

Great deals on gifts

Thursday, November 19, 2009
Update: I received an email at about 1pm with my shipment notification and tracking info for my photo books. That's less than 24hrs! Great service so far!

I recently found two great deals that I want to share with you. They are inexpensive ideas for Christmas gifts. I have placed my order at both of these places yesterday so I can't vouch for their service and quality just yet. I will let you know the minute I get them. I just thought the deals were to great to pass up {and some expire soon.}

First up is a great Grandparent gift. Head on over to Picaboo for a buy one get one free deal on most of their Photo Books. Pricing starts at $9.99 for a 20 page soft cover 6"x8" book. With shipping each book would end up costing $10. What an awesome deal!
I spent all day yesterday making up our book. The software that you download lets you create your photo book right from your computer without uploading pictures first (which can take forever and you end up uploading pictures you don't even use in your book.) When your photo book is all done you can then upload your entire book when it is convenient for YOU {like at night or while you are out so it doesn't tie up your computer.} I uploaded my book during dinner and it was done by the time we where done eating.

There are lots of awesome layouts that you can pick from {full page, just pictures, pictures plus text, or just text} and the software was fairly intuitive. If you are going to edit your images, you really need to do it before trying to put your book together because the software only has basic photo adjustments such as, zoom in and out, brightness and contrast.

I upgraded my books to the linen hard cover version. With shipping it came out to be $15 per book. Still an awesome deal for gifts that I know will be well loved! Hurry though this offer is only good til November 30th!

Buy A Book, Get An Extra Copy Free until Nov. 30th. Use Code NVBGF at Checkout

The other deal I found is free photo canvas! Yeah free! That's a $55 value. The Canvas People are offering every household a free 8x10 canvas or $55 off the other sizes. You still have to pay shipping though {but still a way awesome deal!} I actually upgraded to the 11x14 canvas size and with shipping my total came out to be about $32. This is a gift for our own family as we're lacking a current family portrait {Come to think of it I don't think we have a family portrait at all, well not one with ALL of us. Sad I know.} But that problem is fixed now and I can't wait to get our new gallery wrapped canvas portrait! I don't know how long this deal is going on but it can't possibly go on forever!

PS I was not paid a single cent to share these companies with you.

Quilled Snowflake Ornaments

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The very first Enrichment* activity I went to when I first moved to TN, 3.5 years ago, was a sit and craft type of activity. I had just moved to Murfreesboro, I was 8 months pregnant and didn't bring a craft to work on. Instead I went and got to know some of the other ladies in our church. One of the ladies (Kim R.) was working on something I had never seen before.

I watched Kim as she took long thin strips of papers and rolled them up into little coils. My curiosity was piqued. I went over and asked her what she was doing. She then proceeded to introduce me to the world of quilling. She even offered to let me try it, but I declined {not really sure why... maybe it was my pregnancy hormones!}

That was my introduction to quilling, and I have been wanting to try it ever since. My awesome SIL recently gave me just the push I needed when she sent me a link to a beautiful quilled snowflake ornament. I just had to give it a try. I'll be honest, it's addicting to roll the little strips of paper, it's even easy to make the little shapes... and it can be totally frustrating trying to glue them all together to make a beautiful shape!

Here are the two I have made. The one in the foreground is the first one I made. I love it! It took along time to glue the pieces together and following the pattern was more of a hindrance because it really brought out the perfectionist in me.

The one in the back ground {the lopsided, not so pretty one} I made second. This time around I tried to just glue it together without the use of a pattern board. {Yeah, that's why it looks like it does!}

I then sprayed them with spray adhesive and smothered them with silver glitter. I can't wait to see them on my tree this year, I just need the perfect navy blue satin ribbon for hanging. {Do you know how hard it is to find a deep navy blue 1/4" wide satin ribbon?}

If you want to try quilling go for it! It is a pretty cheap craft to get into and there are so many amazing designs you can make for cards, scrapbooking, ornaments etc. All you need is a quilling tool (one with a slit is great for beginners) - about $4, some quilling strips of paper - about $2-$3, some glue, some pins, a piece of card board, and some saran wrap. That's it!

I got a snowflake kit from Hobby Lobby that included patterns, basic instructions, and paper for about $3. I also used a 40% off coupon on the quilling tool.

* Enrichment (as it used to be called then) are group activities held by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that are for Women only. It is time to get together with other women and to learn new skills and become better friends.

On the frame

Sunday, November 15, 2009
One of my New Year's resolutions at the beginning of the year was to really learn how to use my Sturdy Lite quilt frame (from Grace.) Back in January I had owned the frame for almost a year with almost no use. I was ashamed to admit that I was essentially afraid of how to use it. Not afraid of bodily harm {that's silly, but probably not improbable!} just afraid of how complicated it seemed.

The frame did not come with very clear instructions on how to even load a quilt on the frame! Other things got in the way of my goal of "quilting on the frame 3 times a week" such as: too small of a room in TN, taking it apart when I had guests {and never setting it back up}, moving, a sewing machine with a small throat space, and no clear instructions on what to do!

Eventually I got a few things that made it easier for me to use the frame. First I got a steal of a deal on a Brother PQ 1300 ($330 off eBay including shipping) {Hello 9" throat space!}

Then I purchased and e-book from Kathy Quilts that specifically goes through the process of working with a mid-arm sewing machine on a quilting frame. The book was {in my opinion} really expensive for what it is. It is a good source of information but the reality is that it is an e-book and there are no publishing fees associated with it so the price should come down to about $25 or less. It also boast to be over 100 pages, but the font used is a really big size, like a size 24! Oh and the grammar is pretty bad {my brain hurts after reading the whole thing because I really just want to correct the grammar.} In Kathy's defense they have come out with a new edited version, which I haven't read because they are not giving it to their previous purchasers for free and I'm not buying it again just to avoid bad grammar. Over all the book does have good information and it was the cheaper option rather than letting my frame sit virtually unused for yet another year.

The last thing I got that has been very helpful was a "speed control" for the Brother PQ-1300. It is NOT a stitch regulator. It merely replaces your sewing machine's foot pedal with a little knob that keeps your machine needle moving at a constant speed. It's great because I no longer have to try to reach the back of the frame to turn the fly wheel. I also don't have to use the wooden handle on the frame to "squeeze" down my foot pedal. That set up is only comfortable for about 15 minutes of sewing time. Your hands get tired from trying to squeeze the wooden handle while feeling all the vibrations of the carriage. It really tired out your hand. Now with the speed control I don't have to squeeze anything! and there is no hand fatigue. The speed control is also responsive enough that I can make the needle go up or go down a single time. I found it here for $19.99 with free shipping. They also have one for the Juki TL-98E for the same price

So I threw on this practice quilt that I had lying around for the last 3 years! It's almost done, I just need to go back and decide how to quilt my borders. It's not perfect by any means, but it will make a great picnic quilt.

Hand Piecing

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I never thought this day would ever come, but I am loving all of the hexagon quilts I'm seeing (or "Grandmother's Flower Garden" as they are traditionally called.) I'm not in love with the traditional versions, oh no I'm in love with the ones made using modern fabrics, bright colors and bold prints. And white, lots and lots of crisp clean white.

It really wasn't hard at all to make each of the individual hexagons. It wasn't even hard whip stitching them to the center of the "flower." It was, however, a challenge (at least for me) to stitch together 2 of the petals after they had been stitched to the center hexagon. I think I've figured it out now. I'm ambitious and want to make this into a queen size quilt for my bed. That should only take me... oh 5 years! Actually I think I might make a center panel out of the hexies and then add borders etc because I know me, and I know I will eventually get bored of this project. {I'm pretty sure I have mentioned how utterly slow my hand sewing skills are.}

I used the tutorial here to get started. This is by far the easiest tutorial I have found because you only stitch at the corners and there is no knotting involved. The block pictured above was done with a 2.5" hexagon template (this is the measurement of one side of the hexagon, not the height or width.) The actual measurements of each hexagon are 2 5/8" tall x 3" wide. The completed block measures approximately 7.5" x 8"

I made my own paper piecing templates out of some medium weight card stock using my nifty
new toy tool: the Quickutz Silhouette SD
I love this baby! I will be sharing a full review in a couple of days so check back if you want to hear my unbiased {not to mention unpaid} opinion on this nifty little tool.

If you own a Silhouette you can purchase the file from me and make as many hexagons as you like! I'll be listing the .gsd files for sale in through my Etsy Shop. Just click on the "Quickutz Silhouette .GSD" tab of the right to see all of the .gsd files available for purchase. I hope to expand this section of my store real soon!

Giveaway time!

Friday, November 13, 2009
This week I've teamed up with Miss Mustard Seed to give away one of my custom digital silhouettes over on her website. If you haven't been over to Mustard Seed Creations get on over there for some gorgeous furniture makeovers. Be sure to link up any recent furniture or home furnishings makeovers, thrifty finds, favorite furniture pieces, or great furniture arrangements for a chance to win one of my silhouettes.

Miss Mustard Seed's Creative Blog

Here are some of my favorite makeovers she has done {talk about talent!}

I love the blue and dark wood combo of this piece!

Wow! what an awesome hutch!

Go check it out!

Sneak Peek

Thursday, November 12, 2009
I know I went missing for most of the last week. A nasty bug has hit our house and has slowly made it's rounds. Little EJ was the first one to succumb to the nasty cough bug. I was hoping he'd work it out of his system on his own but I finally took him to the Dr. and he is now on some antibiotics. Unfortunately he decided to share the love with me! The funny thing is that when we were at the doctor's office I had a coughing fit just as the doctor walked in the room. He took one look at me and said "you sound like you need to see a doctor."

{meh... doctors schmoctors} I'll just drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. Besides, Mr. PD got me a good supply of Sucrets, Chloraseptic, and Mucinex... I should be good in a few days! If that doesn't work then I'll definitely see a doctor. The good news is I think Mr. PD only got a slight case of whatever bug we have. The bad news is that little Ellie Mae sounds a little croaky tonight.

Aside from being sick it has been a bit cloudy and rainy around here so I hadn't been able to get any pictures of my current projects. Today was nice and sunny and I took full advantage of the situation.

Without further ado here is a sneak peek at my first quilt pattern. {Hopefully I can get the instructions written up this week.}

What's for Dinner? Chicken Soup

Saturday, November 7, 2009
There's nothing like a bowl of homemade chicken soup on a cold rainy day!

I add celery, carrots, onions, a handful or two of rice and a squeeze of lime just before serving. For the grownups a couple of dashes of hot sauce kicks it up a notch. Nothing like some Tapatio to clear out any stuffy noses!

Sometimes I change out the rice for cubed potatoes (baby reds, or Yukon golds.)

Photography: Vintage Chicken

Friday, November 6, 2009

This picture was also taken during EJ's recent school field trip. I couldn't resist the "retro-ness" of this toy. I love the aged patina!

And here's a little tweaking I did in Photoshop just for fun

Photography: Crayons

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This picture was taken during a recent field trip at EJ's school that I was able to tag along on chaperone. I was only able to take one shot before the teacher came around collecting the crayons and such. Lucky for me this shot turned out exactly as I had envisioned it. Even luckier, the focus was spot on and you can actually read the crayon names. I love the colors of the table and all it's nicks and scratches.

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