Megan’s two best friends had their 11th birthday last week, and Megan, of course, wanted to do something extra special for them. She had purchased journals and “Smencils” for them already, but needed something special to pull it all together. All of the girls carry around their journals with them everywhere they go, so I thought, why not make a cute purse to hold their journals?
I don’t have a specific pattern (this is a “Karen” thing! lol), but the basic idea is to create a “purse” that opens up and holds a journal and pens/pencils or even a small Bible. I chose three colors of fabric–one plain, one with a basic pattern, and then one with a really vibrant pattern. I cut out two pieces of the plain fabric to be the backing–these are about 12 x 18. Then, I cut out two pieces of the basic pattern to be the pockets on the inside–these are about 8 x 11. I decided to quilt the front cover, so I used all three fabrics to cut out 12 smaller blocks (4 of each fabric)–probably about 4 x 5. The long, skinny pieces are the handles–you’ll need two strips about 20 inches long and 3-4 inches wide. There’s also a smaller piece, about 10×2 that I used for a velcro closure to keep the purse closed. The L was just for fun–a little monogram that I outlined with the white rickrack.
So, I first sewed the squares together to create a quilted look for the outside of the purse. I layered the quilted back with a thin layer of batting and sewed the quilted part to one of the plain pieces. (I sewed different color bags for each of the girls, so the pictures are mixed.) As you can see, I did not cut my squares on the first bag perfectly even, but it still turned out cute!
I sewed velcro to one end of the outside (quilted side) and then made the closure and sewed the matching velcro strip to the end of that & sewed that onto the opposite side (in the picture above, the velcro would be sewn onto one of the center solid green squares and the closure onto the other center green square).
Now for the inside! I folded the two pockets in half (with fronts facing) and sewed together, leaving enough room to turn them inside out & then sewed them shut. On the pencil pocket, I centered the letter & sewed on, then sewed the rick rack on around the edges. Then, I sewed the handles together (right sides facing) and turned them inside out. this is the basic layout of the pockets (this was taken before I ironed everything and sewed the pockets together):
I sewed the pockets to the lining on three sides, leaving the left sides open. A journal will slide nicely into the pocket on the right, and I used velcro to provide a closure for the pocket on the left to hold pencils, etc.
Once the two sides are completed, I put them together, right sides facing. The handles you line up with the ends matching the outside edge of the bag, about 3 inches in from the edge on each side. The handles will be inside of the bag as you are sewing the outside and inside together. I also pinned the closure to the inside to avoid accidentally sewing it. Sew all around the edges (I went twice around to make sure the seams were solid), leaving room to turn it inside out. Turn inside out and finish sewing together. That’s it! Here’s the finished inside:
Some of you are probably noticing the crooked seams (just cut everything perfectly & you’ll avoid that!), but these turned out really cute and were a hit. And they probably only took an hour or two to make. Fun project for Christmas!
I don’t know about you, but I get tired of rushing around to make the perfect holiday–only to feel a huge sense of letdown when the big day ends. So, last year we decided to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Rather than presents and Santa Claus, we focused on Jesus and giving. Here’s what we did last year… I’ll share my 12 Days of Christmas ideas with you later on in December, but for now, I wanted to share with you what we’re doing for Advent this year.
Advent Dates for 2012
• December 2 – First Sunday of Advent
• December 9 – Second Sunday of Advent
• December 16 – Third Sunday of Advent
• December 23 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
Family Devotions: Last year, we read some Advent verses I found on Focus on the Family’s website. But at the end of the season, I picked up a book called Our Family Christmas. There are 28 devotionals, each with a verse, a short devotion, a family activity, and a prayer–all designed to help us focus on the Reason for the Season. We’re going to do a devotional each day this year.
Something Fun: Last year, we made a paper chain. On each chain was a fun activity to do as a family. We’re going to do this again this year. Some are from the devotional, others are favorites from last year, and others are new! Here are some of the items on my list:
1. Go to a Christmas party!
2. Make greeting cards for soldiers.
3. Go see a Christmas play.
4. Send a thank you to Jesus.
5. Go see St. Nick at the Sophienburg
7. Deliver candy canes with Christmas message.
8. Make gingerbread houses.
9. String popcorn
10. bake cookies
11. Deliver cookies to the neighbors.
12. Go shopping for Christmas sock exchange
13. Make ornaments
14. Call Grandma and sing a Christmas song
15. Go see the lights at Santa’s Ranch
16. Make peanut butter reindeer fudge
17. Wrap presents
18. Make paper snowflakes
19. Watch a Christmas movie
20. Make popcorn balls
21. Go caroling
22. Make a Christmas Craft
23. Decorate cookies
24. Christmas Eve! Unwrap a present!
Every year, I’m running at the very last minute getting my Christmas cards done…but it’s OK because I use an amazing service called SendOutCards. Once I get my photos done, I just upload them and create my card. Since I already have my contacts uploaded, I can get my cards sent with just a few clicks & they are in the mail the next day! The best part is that SOC is cheaper than Shutterfly–and even less expensive than Wal-Mart!
Here’s a picture of the front of my card from last year:
The cool part is that I created this card completely from scratch using my photos and elements in the SOC system. The inside of the card was super cute, too:
SOC cards are better quality and more customizable than most other services AND they are much less expensive! 50 custom cards, mailed for you, with SOC is about $68. With Shutterfly–it’s $144 & with Wal-Mart about $95.
Here’s how it works:
If you know a SOC rep, I highly recommend that you contact him/her to get some help with your Christmas cards. If you don’t know anyone, I’d be happy to connect you!
Here in New Braunfels, it’s the fabulous time of year known as Wurstfest. For 10 days, people come from all around to eat sausage on a stick, drink beer, listen to German music, and just have a great time. Wurstfest started in 1961, and it’s a BIG DEAL! :)
While most people associate Wurstfest with the beer and the sausage, the New Braunfels Conservation Society also sees this as a time to celebrate the town’s heritage. At Conservation Plaza, where many historic buildings have been relocated to create a little historical village, they serve authentic German lunches and desserts.
Since Ryan & I joined the Conservation society this year, I was asked to contribute a dessert to be sold at the Forke Store (pronounced fork-y). Having some German heritage myself, I do have some old family recipes, including my favorite, lepkuchen/Lep Cookies (a sort of soft gingerbread cookie), but my recipes take a lot of time, and I thought I’d look for something different to do this year.
Well, I settled on Versunkener Apfelkuchen, or “Sunken Apple Cake,” which is a relatively simple cake which you press sliced apples into before baking. Since Josyan didn’t like the picture of the only English version I could find (here), I decided to try my hand at decoding German so I could make this beautiful cake.
This version contains cranberries, which I love! But…it’s also completely written in German. With the help of the first recipe and Google Translate (and maybe a bit of my German heritage), I was able to figure out a recipe. And, I decided to make cupcakes–so they are easier to sell (AND so we can all have a taste!).
Here’s the recipe I used:
1. Cream 1 cup sugar and 1 cup butter.
2. Add 1/4 cup milk & 3 eggs and beat.
3. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour (I used this gluten free flour, yippee!) and 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, then mix in with other ingredients. I added just a tad more milk at this step–and decided that it didn’t taste quite sweet enough, SO…
4. Mix in about 1/4 tsp salt and about a tsp of vanilla. (If I hadn’t added the cranberries, I might have added cinnamon…)
5. Fold in 1/2 cup cranberries (cut in half–easier to do from frozen).
6. Pour into greased pan (or make cupcakes like I did!).
7. Peel and slice 2 or 3 apples and cut into small pieces. Press these and sliced cranberries all the way into the dough.
8. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until cooked through.
9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
There you go…pretty & SUPER yummy!
So, I’ve been working my way through the 30 day Gratitude Challenge, which is powered by SendOutCards. What an amazing idea! Every day, you begin your day by thinking of someone you appreciate, and then you send them a card and tell them so! As in this great video, you’re validating 30 people you love!
I’m on about Day 20 of the challenge, and I have really noticed a difference in my outlook. I’m constantly thinking about who I should send that next card to. And I’ve realized that I have SO many people in my life to be thankful for. Not just friends, family, and mentors, either, but also people who’ve impacted my life throughout the years.
I’m glad that I’m a card sender…it makes me happy to know that I’m making other people feel good!
Fun? We can focus on fun?! Of course, we can! God wants for us to live our lives joyfully, but so many of us get caught up in our to do lists and forget that those lists are not the purpose of our life! We need to make time to enjoy our lives and our families–and we also need to take time to do the things that we enjoy! Creativity is an important part of productivity, and it’s something that helps us connect to God.
So, I want you to start thinking about things you can do with your family to have fun together. And I also want you to think about the things that YOU love to do. We’re going to make some time for both of these this year. After all, no one ever died wishing they had worked more!
Having fun as a family can be really simple–maybe you go for walks together or have a game night. Maybe your family loves bowling, but you haven’t gone for years. Or maybe you just love to hang out at the park with your friends. Whatever you love to do as a family, you need to be doing more of.
You can also come up with creative ways to spend time together, like my 12 Days of Christmas. I have had a blast with my kiddos over the past 10 days doing our secret missions of kindness. It was simple and inexpensive–just required a little bit of planning on my part–but the memories will last us a lifetime.
For me, being creative is what I love to do. If I can sew or crochet or craft something…I’m happy. I feel like ME. So, when I can find a way to be creative and have fun with my kids–that is amazing for me. That’s one reason I loved doing the Creatively Fit painting marathon.
So, think about your ideal life–what activities would your family be doing together? What things would you spend your time doing? I’d love to hear from you!