Twisted Felt Garland

The glitter ornaments were hands down my favorite christmas addition this year, and these twisted felt garlands were easily my second favorite, in part because they were so darn easy and quick.

I found the twisted felt tutorial on the Purl Bee and I knew it would be a great project.  There are also way more detailed directions over there, so check it out if you're interested in making these!

Step one is always to let the cat sit on the new project.  Or rather that's what she thinks step one is.  I got 1/2 of a yard of felt in red, green, and white and was able to make a ton of garland.  If you don't want quite so much, I'd recommend 1/8 or 1/4 of a yard.  I also got the really wide felt that's 72".

I folded the felt and squared off the edge, and then refolded it so that it was about a foot tall and cut off one inch strips.  For me that meant I was cutting through eight layers of felt with the rotary cutter.  My edges weren't totally straight or a consistent width, but I was going for quick and easy.  You could easily do this with just a pair of scissors though the rotary cutter made cutting much quicker.

After I had my strips cut out, I lined up two colors and cut 2" vertical lines in the felt.  I spaced them about 1" apart.  Only do 3-5 cuts at a time though.  I flipped the felt through the cuts to get the twist, and it doesn't matter which way it's flipped as along as you do it the same way the whole length of the garland.  Or don't if that's the look you want.

One finished garland.

I made a bunch in red/white, green/white, and red/green. The best part about this is you could pick any colors you wanted to make it work for different holidays.  I'll probably pull out the red/white felt for valentines day and the green/white could be used for saint patrick's day...if that's something you decorate the house for.  Who knows maybe I'll make more after christmas that's just everyday fun colors like pink and purple for the craft room.

To make longer garland, I used a zigzag stitch to sew the edges together.  I used little command hooks to hang these all over the apartment; I love command hooks.  I bought 3 or 4 packages to hang lights and garland and have used them all over.

Our bedroom door.

Laundry room door.  After Steve got home, I had to readjust the height of the hanging downie bit because Steve didn't want to keep running into it.

In place of the halloween decorations, I put up christmas garland.

And again on the stairway half wall.

DIY Glitter Ornaments

The glitter ornaments I made for christmas were absolutely my favorite ornaments this year.  I love glitter, but I hate how messy it can be when the glitter is glued on the outside of ornaments or decorations.  Hobby Lobby had a lot of really cute glitter decorations for christmas, but they were all molting glitter all over the place, so no thank you.  The last thing I need to be vacuuming christmas glitter in July.

So, I found a great tutorial from Greenbean's Crafterole on pinterest (of course) that has the glitter on the inside of the ornaments.

I started by making just one to see how well it would turn out and so that I wouldn't ruin a whole package of clear ornaments if it turned out icky.

The hardest part of the entire process was finding Pledge Floor Care with Future Shine.  I knew it was most likely to be at walmart (that's where greenbean found hers) but we don't have one near us.  I searched high and low at all sorts of stores trying to find some, but ended up resorting to calling my mom and having her get it from their walmart.  Crazy.

All I had to do was squirt a bit of the floor wax into the ornaments and swirl them around to get the whole surface wetted and then I used a paper funnel to pour in some glitter.  I used a multi pack of glitter from joanns and made on in each color.

The are so beautiful, shiny, and glittery.  I just love them.

I have half a mind to make a hundred or so more, because really what am I going to do with the rest of the bottle of floor wax? I don't have any floors that need waxed and you can't even tell that I used any of it!

Royal Icing Christmas Cookies

I have long been a fan of Sweetopia's beautiful iced cookies, and I recently decided to give them a try in the form of Christmas cookies since I got a huge tub of wilton christmas cookie cutters on Black Friday.

Making cookies with royal icing was a bit of a time consuming process, and overall ended up spanning three days.  None of the individual steps were too hard, but there were a lot of steps to do/prepare, so I used a lot of the tips and advice on Sweetopia's website.  These are the ones I thought were most useful.

I started by picking out the cookie cutters I would need, and decided what colors I wanted to use to decorate them.  I ended up making eight colors of icing, and in the future I'd probably try and limit it to 4 or 5 because of lack of equipment.

Traditional Christmas colors

All the other colors.  The pink is supposed to be burgandy, and I would have liked a slightly darker brown.

I used wilton gel colors.  You can't use regular food coloring because the liquid changes the consistency of the icing.

Before I made my cookies, I made a batch of icing.  It was pretty challenging to get the right consistency, and I'm convinced it could have been better, because my white and yellow were a bit runny while red and green were a bit too thick.  It was recommended to make and color the icing a day in advance because the colors darken with time, but I didn't see much change.  I probably will skip the waiting there in the future.

I decided that I wanted a soft, fluffy cookie instead of a denser standard sugar cookie, so I used a soft sugar cookie recipe from Annie's Eats.  Some of my cookies spread a bit too much, and I found out afterword that leaving out the baking powder helps prevent spreading, so I'll definitely try that next time.  I also wasn't very consistent with the thickness of my cookies so some of them got a bit to crisp in the oven.

Practiced some piping on parchment paper first to get the hang of it.

The first round of icing just filled in the cookie.

My white icing was a bit too runny so some of my snowflakes and snowmen had drips falling down the sides.

I used two colors of icing here and a toothpick to make a really cool marbling effect, and these were some of my favorite cookies.

After the cookies dried, I added all of the details to the gingerbread men, candy canes, and snowmen.

I didn't give my little snowmen any noses because I didn't want to make up orange icing for such a small detail.

After I got done icing all my cookies, I still had plenty of icing left, so I decided to make an icing floodout, which is icing piped straight onto parchment paper instead of a cookie.  I copied the general shape of the snowman from sweetopia's floodout tutorial.  I thought he turned out really cute, but he was very fragile and broke into four pieces after it dried completely.

So that was my christmas cookie experiment, and I definitely think I'm going to make more cookies!

DIY Wall Art

Here's another (mostly) finished project, this time I turned the blank wall in our bedroom into a mini gallery:

The painted ship is from our trip to Greece, the temple canvas is from Greece too, but it's a photo I had printed on canvas from Canvas on Demand (highly recommended!!).  The two smaller photographs are from Pisa and the water treatment plant in Saudi Arabia, and the four hand water colored paintings were made for me by Allie after Algebra ruined the first set.  The empty frame is supposed to have a print in it, but I need to find someone to print it for me.  I would love to get it printed on rag paper, but I'm not sure that's feasible.

The three white frames are from my grandmother and are actually supposed to be spray painted black,  but I lost my steam on those in the fall after I had primed them.  By the time I was ready to get them finished it was way to cold outside to spray paint, so they'll have to get finished in the spring.  The wooden frame was also supposed to get primed and spray painted, but it ended up back in the stack of reject frames and got forgotten about instead.  The three black frames I bought from Target after I decided to get this project (mostly) finished.

I really thought I wanted all of the frames to be painted black, but now I think I'm really enjoying the random assortment of frames and colors up on the wall.

DIY Marbled Ornaments

Along with our newly acquired store bought ornaments for the tree, I wanted to try making some as well so I got a few packages of clear, glass ornaments to decorate.

I found a few pictures of other painted ornaments to give me some inspiration and then just gave it a go to see what I could create.

These beautiful hand painted ornaments represented the general look I was going for.

I loved the solid colors of these ornaments, and used some of the same colors in mine.

I used regular acrylic paint and squeezed small amounts of the paint into the ornaments and let them swirl around to mix and cover the whole ornament.

In the blue/white ornament I alternated blue and white stripes and then rotated the ball to cover inside completely.  With the blue/pink and pink/white I added all of one color and swirled it around before adding the second color to the bulb.

My only disappointment with these is that as they dried and the excess paint pooled in the bottom they lost a lot of the really fine marbling details.  I should have turned them upside down over paper cups immediately after finishing them to let the paint drip out not into the bottom.

These are the only three I made, since I didn't want to buy too many different bottles of paint, but I can definitely see myself making more of these in the future!

DIY Ornament Display

As a child my family had a wonderful tradition of exchanging handmade christmas ornaments between all of our cousins.  I remember as a kid pouring over craft magazines trying to figure out the perfect ornament to make.  With the addition of nine ornaments each year, I've accumulated quite a few lovely ornaments and since I got my own tree in high school, I've used these ornaments to decorate.  Now that Steve and I are combining our christmas ornaments and decorations, there isn't room on the tree for all of them.

I didn't want to keep them all in storage so I have them on display in the craft room.  On pinterest, I found this image which gave me the idea to have them on display:
originally from A Diamond in the Stuff

Some of the ornaments don't hang, so they're sitting out on the sideboard table in the craft room.

I used ribbon to create a place to hang them all on the wall.

This is a great way for me to display these, and after christmas is over I look forward to replacing them with photographs to hang from the ribbons as seen in the middle picture below:

from pinterest

Meet Stanley

Just over three years ago, I bought my first camera, a Canon Powershot SX10S and marveled for the first time learning how to control all of the various settings to produce beautiful images.

This was one of the first pictures I took with the sx10.  Needless to say, I've improved a bit since then, and Steve got a haircut.

By this time last year, I was ready to upgrade to a dSLR.  I'd learned a lot of basics and really no longer consider myself a beginner, but living in Saudi Arabia made that essentially impossible.  So I sucked it up and waited.  For a year.  It wasn't a totally wasted year though; I spent more time than I care to admit pouring over camera reviews, debating the merits of Canons vs. Nikons, and bouncing all of this off Allie.  At the end of it all, only one camera emerged victorious.  One of the biggest reasons I wanted/needed to upgrade is to have less noise at higher ISOs (when shooting in low light).  The picture above has a ton of noise and is only at iso 320.

I've been saving hard earned pennies for the last few months and was finally able to order my new camera, a Canon EOS 60D, or Stanley as he prefers to be called.

Catbear rocks out on the bathroom rug a lot these days.  I really can't blame her; this is the softest rug I've ever had.  Stanley does a great job in low light.  This is iso 2000 and there's no evidence of noise.  Hooray!   It's also infinitely easier to control manual focusing with Stanley, which was nearly impossible with the sx10.

I've still got a few accessories I'd like to get, but those will have to wait until after I start my new job in January.

First Finished Quilt

After I finished my quilt top, I needed to get a walking foot before I could do the quilting step.

That ended up taking about a week, so my quilt spent a lot of time sitting like this in the living room:

After I got a walking foot from Joann's, I had some trouble getting started with quilting.  After a few false starts, I ended up having Steve do a bit of maintenance on my machine.  He took it apart, oiled the spots recommended in the manual and replaced the bobbin winder.  This helped immensely and made quilting much easier.

I drew lines on the quilt top to use as guides.

The back of the quilt.

After quilting came the last step, binding.  I pinned and sewed the binding to the back of the quilt.  The corners are a bit funny looking at this step, but that's so they look nice on the front.

Then the binding gets folded over to the front and pinned before sewing it in place.

The front corners ended up looking pretty good, but in the future I think I'll sew the binding on by hand instead of using the sewing machine.  Having the stitches hidden on the binding would have looked a lot better I think, even though it probably would have taken more time.  I spent more than my fair share of time with the seam ripper while I was working on the binding because the first time I sewed it on the bobbin tension was way too low and it was all scraggly on the back.  I contemplated leaving it a bit scraggly, but I decided that after all the time and effort I had put into it already it was worth the extra time to do the binding right.

The last step is to send it through the washer and dryer.  It helped soften the quilt up as it was quite stiff before washing.  I had to get Shout Color Catchers to go in the wash with it, and I'm really glad that I did because the color catcher cloth came out of the washer a dingy gray, and I did not want that extra dye absorbing into my quilt.
My finished quilt.  It's a bit smaller than our queen size bed and great as a lap blanket!

All of my quilting advice came from the excellent quilting series on Diary of a Quilter.

Black Friday

After last year when Thanksgiving was a strange celebration and Black Friday was non-existent, I found the madness surrounding Black Friday to be completely ridiculous.  I cannot believe that stores opened as early as 9 and 10 pm on Thanksgiving Day; it just seems so wrong.  Either way, I hadn't planned on doing any shopping on Black Friday, but then I ran out of quilt binding on Wednesday. Then Steve decided he needed a few long sleeve shirts for work and Kohl's happened to bless my mailbox with a coupon.  So after I rolled out of bed around 11 am, we ventured out and hit up some stores because there was no way I was going to face any of those crazy early lines.

Overall shopping was surprisingly calm, and we only got a few things beyond what was planned.  We ended up getting some Christmas decor at Joann's because they had everything 50-60% off, and I scored a great deal on a set of Wilton holiday cookie cutters!  I got 40 cutters for eight smackaroos!  After growing up with Mom's big red box of cookie cutters, I decided it was time for me to get my own, and hopefully I'll make some cookies in the next week or so.

The craziest crowds were definitely at Wal-Mart, but that's because there were just lots of people milling around shopping.  Steve even managed to get the new Zelda game for their doorbuster price even though we got there so late in the day.

Despite getting quilt binding last week, my quilt came to a screeching halt when I ran out of thread.  Sad panda, but hopefully I should be finished this week and will be able to show off the finished quilt!

What did you guys score for Black Friday or did you stay home away from the madness?


We had a lovely Thanksgiving this year!  Much different than our celebration last year, we spent this year with our family.

I got to make a few appetizers to bring to the party so I chose potato skins, spinach artichoke dip and bruschetta.
The potato skins are another Simply Recipes favorite of mine.

Spinach Artichoke dip made in the crockpot is super simple.  Tip: buy bulk spinach instead of boxed spinach, it's about half the price! 

A nice simple bruschetta via Tasty Kitchen!

The appetizer table.

One carved turkey

Lots of bread and delicious homemade strawberry jelly!

Side dishes galore made by my mom and grandmother

Stuffing straight from the bird!

Brussels sprouts for dinner too, these are fantastic!

Poking around having some fun.

Sitting around watching football and chatting!

There were also lots of pretty decorations up. 

Beautiful chandelier.

Tasty tasty fruit (not really, it's fake)

There were lots of great desserts, but somehow I forgot to take pictures of the desserts; we were probably too busy eating them up!

Jersey Bracelets

Reusing my old knit shirts from Saudi to make jersey bracelets was on my inspiration board of projects for post-Saudi life.  These were fun to make and a cute, casual way to spruce up outfits.

I followed the tutorial from V and Co, but I highly recommend checking out the video she made to go along with it because the written directions were a smidge confusing.

I wasn't super happy with my first attempt to tie them closed but I redid it to pull the ends together better and I think they look much better.

First attempt

Second attempt tying them, much better.

If you don't already have knit shirts to cut up, I would recommend buying jersey knit fabric and as a benefit you won't have the seam showing from the shirt strips.

Crafting Frenzy: Rice Heating Pad

As part of my post quilt crafting frenzy, I made four new projects and the most ingenious one was this rice heating pad.  I've been pondering solutions to my cold feet and thought about buying moccasins to help keep my feet warm during the day, but I also wanted a way to keep my toes warm at night too.  An electric blanket also crossed my mind, but they're a bit expensive turns out.

When I stumbled across this rice pillow tutorial by wisecraft I had a huge duh moment.  I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of this on my own.

I used an old top sheet and a piece of scrap fabric to whip up a little 9" x 6 1/2" rice filled heating pad.  I also got to use a different stitch length on my sewing machine.  I used one of the finest stitch lengths on the inside shell to keep the rice from coming out.

I've used it every night since I made it and not only does it work like a charm, the warm rice smells lovely too!

Cute Easy Halloween Decor

I’m not much of an autumn lover and that’s especially true this year because I’m constantly freezing!  I did manage to get a few Halloween decorations put up around the apartment before November showed up, although barely.

I tried to stick with a few simple ideas that wouldn’t be too hard or costly, so I made pumpkin bunting and some orange and black zig zag streamers (a la Oh Happy Day!).  I used cardstock for the streamers, and I think they might have stretched better with regular paper instead.

We also got a pumpkin from the farmer’s market, but we didn't do anything with it. I wanted to try painting it instead, kind of like these two, but it just never happened.  It might just happen yet, since it won't decompose nearly as quickly as carved pumpkins do and we don't seem to have pumpkin smashers around the neighborhood.

Sadly, we only had one trick or treater this year, and that's only because they ran into Steve as he was coming home and he told them we had candy to hand out.

My First Quilt

I have a habit of starting new big crafts during unreasonable times, like when I decided to learn to knit during finals freshman year.  Or when I decided to loom knit a blanket (still sadly unfinished).  After admiring several quilts online and having no sewing access in Saudi, I wanted to make my own.  I don't have a lot of sewing experience with most of it revolving around pillow making and hemming pants.

Since I had very little idea what to do, I found this great quilting series by Diary of a Quilter and diligently read each step.  Quilting seems like it requires more accuracy and patience than I normally have in my sewing projects, but I didn't think it was going to be that big of a deal.

I wish step one was a trip to the fabric store, but planning the quilt was definitely the hardest step.  I already had batting rescued from mom's house during a goodwill frenzy so I based the quilt front on the batting size.

I decided to use a 3" boarder and 4" blocks, which worked out beautifully to be 16 x 11 blocks.  Originally, I thought the fabric I had to choose from would be 54" wide but it turns out the fabric I wanted were only 43" wide so I had to do some frantic recalculations at Joann’s.  The planning and my visual spatial skills were getting overwhelmed so I simplified it with an Excel spreadsheet!

Next up was a trip to Joann’s for fabric and gleefully, they were having a huge sale.  I ended up buying eight fabrics at 1/4 yard each, 2 fat quarters, and 3 3/4 yards for the back and boarder fabric.  All the fabric I got was 30% off so I ended up spending less than $30 total.

Fabrics for the quilt

Not having a set schedule always quickly degrades my sleeping and I end up with a nasty 3 am to noon sleep schedule so I have a lot of quiet time for working while Steve sleeps.  Ironing all of my new fabric was a cathartic way to fill that time; there's something very soothing about the sharp, crispiness of ironed fabric.

With all the fabric ironed and ready to cut, I promptly put everything aside and did nothing for a week.  After planning everything and getting all the pretty fabric ready, cutting into it seemed daunting and intimidating.

I managed to only mess up one block too badly although the first fabric I cut wasn't as good as the later ones.  I need a better ruler if I'm going to keep doing this because the one I have wasn't the best option possible.
176 blocks cut and ready to lay out for the quilt top.

Laying out the blocks and rearranging them was also pretty easy though I did have to monopolize most of the living room to do it.
Each row of blocks stacked up ready to sew.  I numbered each row to keep them in the right order.

This is my sewing machine; it's a 1975 Singer 360 Fashionmate and it's awesome, although I think the bobbin winder is going to need replaced soon.

Algebra likes to "help" aka sit on everything and bat at the thread.

Sewing each row together

All the rows sewed and waiting to become a quilt top.

I originally planned on a 2" boarder but tried to switch to a 4" boarder because I had enough extra fabric and it seemed a bit too narrow, but it made the quilt too wide.  I narrowed it down to 3", which looked great.

Finished quilt top

My quilt pieces ready to baste and quilt!

I thought it would take a lot more time and effort to do all of this, but in the end it only took about 4 seasons of Psych and a few Stuff You Missed In History Class podcasts to get me through the whole thing, which now that I look at it is about 50 hours of work.  I guess this week my full time job was quilt maker!

My next steps are basting and quilting, but I'm a bit stuck.  Either I need to commit to hand quilting it or get a walking foot for my sewing machine so I can machine quilt it.  Hand quilting, while impressive just seems like more work than I'm willing to devote and waiting to get a walking foot sort of stinks.  I'm pretty sure my grandmother has a walking foot I can use so until I get it I'll have to wait and work on other projects.

DIY Jewelry Display

During one of my first introductions to TJ Maxx on our Illinois trip, I picked up a bunch of stuff for the apartment since we had a bunch of basic things we needed.  Among my finds was the softest bath mat I've ever met.  I seriously could have rubbed my face on this forever, but that's beside the point.  I also picked up a cheap slack rack for all my work pants, which are doing nothing but occupying closet space at this point.  After a fun filled trip, we came home from Illinois and promptly forgot all of our TJ Maxx goodies and my shoes.

Thankfully, we got it all back in the mail a few days later, but the slack rack was a bit worse for the wear.  The hanger part of the rack was missing and thus wasn't going to do well holding slacks so I put it off to the side (okay really it sat in the middle of the living room) while I debated what to do with it.

I've seen a bunch of jewelry holders using chicken wire stretched across a picture frame and had been considering making something like that for a while, so I decided to turn the broken rack into a jewelry display.  The best part is that it works well for rings, earrings, and necklaces, which the others I've seen didn't.

I'm thinking about cutting off the purple foam and maybe spray painting it, but for now, it works great!

Homemade Apple Butter

It's been years since I've had homemade apple butter.  I remember my mom making it when I was younger, but not recently.  When we were visiting the orchard during our trip to Illinois over Labor Day, one of the treats we bought was a jar of apple butter.  We have thoroughly enjoyed it, especially as a topping for homemade oatmeal.

One of the downsides of buying apple butter was the cost.  The 19 oz jar we got from the orchard was 8 or 9 dollars, which is a bit steep if we want it more often than one jar a season. Turns out apple butter is just as easy as applesauce to make, although it does take longer to cook.

The recipe I used was from Dream Home DIY and it uses a crockpot, so most of the time was just idle cooking time.

My first batch was only 1/4 of the original recipe because I only have a small 2.5 quart crockpot.  This batch went really well, but I did not want to do another 4 or 5 tiny batches like this.

Thankfully, Steve's mom let me borrow her 6.5 quart crockpot, which easily handled the whole recipe.

After 11 hours of cooking it had reduced by about half.  Since I didn't peel the apples I used the cone colander to strain it because I wanted a smoother texture.  If you don't mind the pieces of apple peel mixed in, skipping the straining would be an option.

I didn't properly can the apple butter; instead I plan to freeze it.  From 1 1/4 batches I used about 7 pounds of apples and got 13 cups of apple butter.  Orchard bought apple butter was about $3.80 per cup so we saved about $49 making it ourselves!  Realistically this is a bit high because I did have to add a few other ingredients and use electricity for the crockpot, but these were pretty negligible expenses.

I've still got about 6 or 7 pounds of apples left so I'm trying to decide what other goodies to make.

Any suggestions?

Party Desserts

I love making food for pot lucks because it's a great chance to make new desserts without having to feel the need to eat all of them.  For our recent family gathering I went all out and made five desserts, four of which were new.

I made:

While I mostly did a good job making everything, I did a mediocre job taking pictures of it all.  I didn't get a picture of the truffles or any of the brownie roll out cookies either.

The brigadeiros are a Brazilian sweet that I had at a party in Saudi and fell in love with.  They are pretty easy to make; the hardest part was getting the right consistency when cooking it on the stove.  Turns out that chocolate pudding consistency was the way to go.

Traditionally, they're served in tiny paper cups, but I had none and no desire to hunt down such an obscure baking accessory, so I used a Jello jelly bean mould tray instead.  Yay improvising!

I've made the malted milk cookies several times in Saudi and they quickly became one of my favorites.  Making them here was trying at best.  In Saudi we didn't have regular malted milk, just chocolate malt milk powder, so I added a tablespoon of cocoa to the regular malted milk to emulate what we had in Saudi.

Baking them turned into a disaster of a learning experience.  Do not start baking on a new stove with different ingredients and use a full try of cookies because when they go terribly wrong you end up with a whole plate of pathetic ruined cookies.  I ended up ruining four more batches of single cookies before I got everything mostly worked out.  More flour, cooler temperature and less time in the oven than when we were in Saudi.  And always write notes for next time; way fewer future screw-ups that way.

The toffee bars were really easy to make, but I forgot to take a finished picture.  The only thing missing from this picture was the chocolate layer on top.  I had high hopes for these, but they ended up being somewhat of a disappointment.

The white chocolate lemon truffles were pretty easy to make and a big hit for everyone except the little kids. Only advise for this one is to make a double batch and microwave cautiously.  I accidently had a butter explosion because I was doing too many things at once.  Sadly, no final picture here either.

The brownie roll out cookies were fun to make and easy, but weren't good enough to make again.  They weren't bad by any means, just not my style.

Overall, the party desserts turned out really well and I thoroughly enjoyed trying some new recipes.  I definitely have more dessert recipes to try than any other kind!

Another Weekend, Another Trip

I love that we've gotten to travel to so many foreign destinations, but sometimes the best trips have nothing to do with foreign countries and everything to do with being around family.

One of the many blessings in my life is an amazing extended family who works so hard to stay connected and involved as we get older.  In yesteryear, we always had certain holidays to look forward to, knowing we would all be together.  These days we have to try a lot harder to get it to work with everyone's complicated schedules, but two weeks ago we finally got together for the first time since Steve and I got home.

Words don't really adequately describe how lovely it was to spend time with everyone and it was so sad to have to leave to drive back to Michigan.

Poor Allie spent a serious portion of the day immersed in homework even though she was on fall break.  The constant busyness is something I often miss and simultaneously do not regret leaving behind from my college days.  (Sidenote: what do you think of the size of the portraits vs landscapes? I can't decide if I like the portraits or if they're just too big for most normal screens)

Part of Allie's homework was taking photos for one of her film class projects, but unfortunately the film in her camera wasn't advancing so she ended up with a lot of nothing.

A new forming tradition at our get togethers is a few rousing games of catchphrase, which always results in much hilarity watching everyone describe and guess clues.

Everybody brought a little of something to the party and we had more than enough to eat.  I brought desserts (more deets tomorrow!) as there is no better way to make five desserts without worrying about promptly eating them all.

To top it off, we all got to drink out of awesome skull cups in celebration of the upcoming holiday.

More Cabin Time

We've made several trips down to the cabin lately and each one results in so much progress.  Last time we were down there the goal was to get the extension under roof, which promptly became impossible when the generator started leaking gas.  With a fixed generator and a few extra pairs of hands, we set off a couple weekends ago to give the roof another go.

Mom looking anxiously towards the open roof.

First roof joist is up (but not attached)

Steve working hard.

It was flipping cold that weekend and with no electricity, Allie and I spent a good deal of the day huddling around the kerosene heater trying to stay warm.

Allie spent a lot of time playing this iPod game, so much so that it killed the battery.

Thankfully, I brought my awesome hat, which proceeded to keep me much warmer than I thought possible. A small tree was leaning into the roof space so the sawzall and I became good friends hacking it down.

There's even a tiny pile of wood for a future bonfire!

When they put up the barn siding last time, they covered the windows and door, so Steve had to cut openings for all of them.

Yay for extra help!

Another roof joist waiting to go up.

After a lot of work, we (the guys) were making great progress on the roof.  We only had to go to the hardware store once for more plywood.  I was all over that trip because it involved a heated car and it was awesome.  I almost didn't get out of the car after that.

Cookie break!

OH NO looks like someone lost a head.

They even got the tar paper stuff down on the roof before it was time to go.

If everything had gone as planned, we would have gotten the door and the windows in too before leaving for the weekend, but as we're all learning, nothing goes as planned when it comes to this little project.  It turns out that none of the windows actually fit in the window holes, which is a wee bit embarrassing, but not unfixable.  All of the windows are going to have to be a smidge taller by redoing the supports under the windows.  However, that is a project for another day, and we ended by covering all of the window and door holes with plastic sheeting to keep out the elements.

I wish that was the end of the adventure, but alas it wasn't.  We had an outrageously long trip back because we had to stop numerous times for Allie to get sick.  Turns out she had some kind of 24 stomach bug that decided to hit as soon as we got in the car.