Sunday, November 29, 2009

Giving thanks.

It was a quiet Thanksgiving this year, but that didn't stop me from making WAY too much food. Evidence:

Now the obligatory what I am thankful for:
My beautiful daughters who keep me laughing on a daily basis. I love to see how excited they are about Christmas this year.

My wonderful husband who found me such a perfect Christmas gift that he could not wait and already gave it to me (it was a new camera lens)!

My mother who inspired my craftiness. I am also thankful that she spent Thanksgiving with us and was able to help us decorate for Christmas. She is a Christmas junkie (wonder where I get it from???)

My sister Julia and that she found the love of her life, Alya, all the way in Africa.

My sister Patty who is a free spirit and has the kindest heart.

My wonderful friend since age 12, Kelley, who always listens to me complain about my kids, while longing for kids of her own. (and knows me better than most people in the world)

My great friend, Tina, who takes the most beautiful photos of my kids and inspires me to be a better photographer. (and loves the Twilight series as much, if not more than me)

The rest of my extended family, in-laws and friends. I am so grateful to have an awesome support system.

That my husband and I are employed in this difficult economic time.
That we have a president who wants to make sure everyone has access to affordable health care.
The internet for allowing me to be inspired my so many artists all over the world.
Pumpkin Pie.
Christmas, an excuse to get the whole family together every year.

I will leave you with these photos of my girls pretending to be high fashion models taken with my new lens. Forgive any blurriness because it is a manual focus lens and we haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet. (Also, don't mind the funky photo effects above, just messing around in photoshop)

Friday, November 13, 2009

hark the herald angels sing...

Now that we have gotten through Chloe's birthday, Christmas crafting is in full swing. Why is it that when I have tons of projects already on my plate, I get inspired to add more to the list?? Case in point, I haven't even started the Christmas PJ's and yet I am obsessed with making lunch boxes and reusable snack and sandwich bags for the family. Do we absolutely need this right now? No, but I can't seem to think of anything else. Luckily, there is an awesome thrift store in Ann Arbor that has TONS of craft supplies. It is a thrifty crafter's heaven. I found lots of scrap fabric and 3 different colors of rip stop nylon for the lining. And the prices can't be beat!

Anyone else have this crafting ADD? I have way too many unfinished projects, some from previous Christmases. I am embarrassed to admit that the quilt I started for my husband's gift last year is still not done (I suck) and there is a scarf and fingerless mitts on the needles from 2 years ago for my sister (double suck). (Anyone want to quilt a quilt for cheap?) I am hoping to finish everything on my list this year. Wish me luck! (BTW, it makes me sick to think that I made all of that stuff last year and didn't take any pics, I am going to try and be better about that too this year)

I did make a dent in my UFO (unfinished objects) pile when I made a doll for Chloe's birthday that has been cut out since 2 years ago! By the time I make Lily's she will be graduating from high school.

If you are inspired to make gifts this year, Sew Mama Sew has posts everyday in November on things to make, they also showcase handmade items for sale and recipes and have giveaways!

If you don't want to make anything, but want to give handmade, go to Etsy. There is some really amazing stuff, I could browse there all day.

Finally, if you don't want to make anything or buy anything, you can try to win something at Rae Gun Ramblings, she is having giveaways each day counting down to Christmas. Today's gingerbread skirt is too adorable!

Monday, November 2, 2009

My precious Chloe

Dear Chloe,
I am in shock that my baby is 4 years old! Wow, it seems like you were only born a short time ago. You were the sweetest baby ever. You slept constantly and rarely cried. I was in heaven.

You are growing up to be such an individual, you are truly a spirited child. Some of the characteristics that drive me nuts right now, like your stubbornness, you wanting to do everything yourself and your defiance will make you such a strong and independent woman. I think we will either be great friends or butt heads a lot.

You have such a sense of humor for a little girl and you keep us laughing all the time. You love to perform and like to have an audience. While you can definitely try my patience, you are usually such a love bug. You love to hug, kiss and snuggle and I am just savoring every moment of that.

You look up to your big sister so much, even though you like to drive her crazy at times (like cutting her American Girl doll's hair), but I think she is teaching you more than your dad and I ever could (hopefully not too many bad things:) You would sleep in her bed every night if you could.

You are making great strides academically. You know all of your letters and numbers and are starting to try and sound out words! You will definitely be ready for kindergarten next year, even though you will still be 4 when school starts.

It is a bit sad to see you growing up and you are not my baby anymore, but I am very excited for all the adventures yet to come.

You are such a joy and I am so happy to be your mama.

Love always,

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The wedding

So, last Christmas, my baby sister, Julia, (not really a baby anymore), decided to take a trip to Africa with a West African Dance school she had been going to. I thought the timing wasn't great, Christmas is a huge deal in our family, especially to our mom and she had had a rough year. Her partner and a very close friend both passed away and her mother was quite ill (she ended up passing on Christmas day) and I felt that our mom needed her girls home for Christmas.

Anyway, true to fashion, Julia didn't listen to me and went to Africa anyway. It is a good thing she did because she met the love of her life on her 3 week African adventure. This summer he was able to come to the states and they got married on September 6th.

Given the low budget nature of our family (grins) we pretty much did everything ourselves. The wedding was held in my mom's backyard, which required some work to get it ready. Julia had her dress and dresses for me, my girls, and our other sister, Patty, made while in Africa in the summer. She ordered the supplies and made all of the centerpieces herself, we cooked the majority of the food and decorated my mom's yard. The groom's brother, Karim, played beautiful music for the ceremony on an instrument he made himself (wish I could remember the name of it). But, the piece de resistance for me was that I got ordained online and officiated the ceremony, which was a great honor. I am going to tear up just thinking about it.

The weekend was a whirlwind of activity leading up to the wedding and I couldn't fathom how we would get it all done, but thanks to so many including Julia's wonderful new sister-in-law, Sarah Lee, Julia's friend, Janet, our cousins Brett and Eric, Julia's friends Wendy and Charles, the groom, Alya and his brother, Karim, we managed to get everything ready and it was beautiful.

This wedding was a magical experience and I am so happy I had such a big part in it (even though I was rather stressed leading up to it). Lily kept saying "This is the best wedding ever!"

Alya, bienvenue à notre famille, nous vous aimons. (Alya, welcome to our family, we love you.)
(Here is the French translation for Alya (not sure if it is correct):

Ainsi, dernier Noël, ma soeur de bébé, Julia, (pas vraiment un bébé plus), décidé pour la porter à un voyage en Afrique avec une école de danse africaine occidentale était allée à. J'ai pensé que la synchronisation n'était pas grande, Noël est une affaire énorme dans notre famille, particulièrement à notre maman et elle avait eu une année approximative. Son associé et un ami très étroit passé loin et sa mère étaient tout à fait défectuosité (elle ont fini vers le haut du dépassement le jour de Noël) et j'ai estimé que notre maman a eu besoin de ses filles à la maison pour Noël.

Quoi qu'il en soit, vrai à la mode, Julia n'a pas écouté moi et n'est pas allé en Afrique de toute façon. C'est une bonne chose qu'elle parce qu'elle a rencontré l'amour de sa vie sur sa aventure d'Africain de 3 semaines. Cet été il pouvait venir aux états et ils se sont mariés le 6 septembre.
Etant donné la basse nature de budget de notre famille (grimaces) nous avons assez beaucoup fait tout nous-mêmes. Le mariage a été tenu dans l'arrière-cour de ma maman, qui a exigé d'un certain travail de l'obtenir prêt. Julia a eu sa robe et les robes pour moi, mes filles, et notre autre soeur, pâté, ont fait tandis qu'en Afrique en été. Elle a commandé les approvisionnements et a fait toutes les pièces maîtresses elle-même, nous avons fait cuire la majorité de la nourriture et avons décoré la cour de ma maman. Le frère de toilettage, Karim, belle musique jouée pour la cérémonie sur un instrument il s'est fait (souhait je pourrais me rappeler le nom de lui). Mais, le morceau de resistance pour moi était que j'ai obtenu ordonné en ligne et officié la cérémonie, qui était un grand honneur. Je vais déchirer penser vers le haut juste cela.

Le week-end était un tourbillon d'activité amenant au mariage et je ne pourrais pas sonder comment nous lui obtiendrions tout le fait, mais grâce tellement à beaucoup comprenant soeur merveilleuse de Julia la nouvelle, l'ami de Sarah Lee, de Julia, le Janet, nos cousins Brett et les amis d'Eric, de Julia Wendy et Charles, le toilettage, Alya et son frère, Karim, nous sommes parvenus à obtenir tout prêt et il était beau.

Ce mariage était une expérience magique et je suis si heureux j'ai eu une si grande partie dans elle (quoique j'étais plutôt amener soumis à une contrainte à lui). Le lis continué dire « ceci est le meilleur mariage jamais ! »

Alya, bienvenue à notre famille, nous vous aimons.

Lovely ladies

We have been having lots of fall fun, despite the dreary Michigan weather. I love this time of year. Fall color, apple picking, back to school.

Two weekends ago, we ventured to Wasem's orchard with great family friends (one of whom is Chloe's future husband) to pick apples and eat fresh donuts and cider. Yum. We are still eating the delicious apples (we got a half bushel) and I hope to get around to making applesauce this week! Thankfully, my kids love apples, so even if the applesauce doesn't happen, they will not go to waste.
Last weekend, while Shawn was on a business trip, the girls and I went to hang out with my BFF, Kelley, in Cleveland. She is an awesome friend to host us (and the mayhem) for the weekend and she loves my kids "buckets". Some of the weekends activities included a Halloween party, fort making, movie watching and a fashion show. Good times.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Sweet Lily

Dear Lily,
I can't believe you have been with us for eight years! It seems like only yesterday that you came into this world and made our lives infinitely more exciting, wondrous, meaningful. (and also crazy, hectic and exasperating at times) You made me a mother and you mean the world to me. You are such a special girl, here are a few examples.

  1. I admire your empathy toward others. You are always considerate of people's feelings.
  2. I respect the fact that you always try to do the right thing and follow the rules.
  3. I am in awe of your self confidence and self-awareness at such a young age. You do your own thing even if everyone else is doing something else.
  4. You are a fabulous artist and writer.
  5. I think it is amazing how well you pay attention to things, you can always retell an event or story with many details.
  6. You are so sweet to your little sister, even though I know she drives you nuts sometimes.
  7. I love that you will let her sleep in your bed, so she isn't scared or upset
  8. I loved when you went on a field trip you used some of your tickets to get a prize for her too.
  9. I love that you can be so patient with her in helping her learn how to do something new.
  10. I love that you call each other 'sissy'
There are so many more things about you that are amazing. I am so grateful to be your mom and I love watching you grow and mature (although don't do it too quickly, OK?)


Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Thanks to everyone who gave me input about my little hellion. I have removed the post because it doesn't feel right to have all of her bad qualities on display for the world to see. I sure wouldn't want a list of my bad qualities floating around the internet ((shudder)). Here is a pic from our recent vacation to South Padre Island, TX instead.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The fabulous Grosgrain strikes again

I have been saying I need an apron for ages. Every time I cook (or eat for that matter) something ends up on my shirt. I have the fabric yet not the time to make one for myself, so I am posting a link to try and win a gorgeous, retro apron that is way cuter than what I would make anyway. Cross your fingers for me!

Boojiboo Flirty Apron GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

Edit: My fabulous friend Chris sent me a Boojiboo apron for my birthday and I love it. Thanks Chris!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day

Well, I tried. That's all I can say. I got my hubby tickets to the Tigers game with my oldest daughter, Lily, for Father's Day. Pretty good gift, right? Wrong. Lily slept over a friend's the night before and had a bit of a cold, that combined with the heat made her a cranky mess so they ended up leaving the game before the end of the 4th inning. She was apparently whining the whole time and being quite embarrassing. Great. I just wanted to yell at her "Why are you ruining this day?" but she is just a kid and it doesn't matter what day it is, if she's cranky, she's cranky. The other one was no peach either as you can see from the pic below:
I may have redeemed the day somewhat with a steak dinner and the 'best chocolate sheet cake ever'.

My husband is such a wonderful father. Having grown up with barely a relationship with mine, I am so grateful that my girls have a dad who is here and will always be here for them, no matter what. I also know that we wouldn't have the life we have without him. So, I am sorry this day wasn't the best representation of how much we appreciate you, we will try to show you everyday how much you mean to us.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My machine

This post is all about my sewing machine so for those of you who don't sew or could care less about my machine, feel free to click on over to facebook or YouTube.

This meme came from Sew Mama Sew and since I recently bought a brand spanking new machine after working on a dinosaur that was made the year I was born, I had to participate.

What brand and model do you have?
Brother Innovis 40

How long have you had it?
about 6 months

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
Mostly bags, clothing, softies

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
I sew almost every day

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
Absolutely love it, it was a major upgrade from my previous machine.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?
The button hole feature is awesome. Love the auto backstitch feature as well. And the free arm which my dinosaur did not have.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
Not really, but the Brother needle is offset to the left of center as the default and that took some getting used to.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!
I had been sewing everything on a solid steel White machine made in 1973 that I found at a thrift store for $25. It worked well, but not up for the amount of use I was giving it. Plus, it didn't have any cool features or a free arm, so it was time to upgrade. In the 6 months or so I've had it, I have made many things including 6 tutus for a school play, many bags, and a shirt for myself.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
Absolutely. Brother makes a great product for a great price, but I would recommend going through a dealer to make sure you are getting the top of the line machines, not to mention great service. I went to Leabu's in Ann Arbor.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
Think about what features you really NEED. I wanted a bunch of fancy stuff, like embroidery, but just didn't think I would use it enough to justify the cost. And really, how many decorative stitches do you need??

Do you have a dream machine?
I wouldn't mind an embroidery machine someday, but for now my Brother is perfect.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Vintage Wedding Refashioned Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

As many of you probably know, my adorable sister, Julie, went to Africa in the winter with a West African dance group and wound up falling in love and getting engaged!!! Well, her hope is that he will be able to come to the states and they will get married by the end of summer. Now wouldn't this be the PERFECT dress for her??

Vintage Wedding Refashioned Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

I so have to win this for her. Anyone who knows her personality and style would understand why this is awesome.

Here is a picture of her and my Lily
And one with her and her honey:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

In Italian!

Lily got a duo with her best friend in the spring sing in Italian! Aren't they adorable??
Originally uploaded by magwilky

Sunday, April 19, 2009

spring fun!

It is FINALLY starting to feel a little like spring in these parts. Thankfully. We had a very nice Easter at my mom's in Ohio despite the fact that my girls woke us up at 5:30am to see what the Easter Bunny brought!

Shawn and I took Friday off and headed to Ohio early with a stop at the NASA research center. It was kind of a bust, nothing that cool. Oh well, it was free if you could tolerate the security searches!

On Saturday we colored eggs and found a random Easter Bunny at a garden center that Chloe would not have anything to do with. That kid is afraid of everything! Saturday night, with mom mom to babysit, we went out with a few of my friends to celebrate Kelley's birthday (no pics of that). Sunday morning started early, too early, but the kids were excited to see their candy and hunt for eggs. The Easter Bunny also made a scavenger hunt for the girls to find their baskets.

And here is my dilemma.
I am starting to think that Lily is very skeptical about the Easter Bunny and Santa and it seems some of her classmates don't believe any more either. She is not the type of kid to bring it up or question me too much about it. Should I bring it up with her? I feel sort of dishonest by not letting her in on the secret, but that is the magic of the holidays and I am reluctant to take that away. Anyone out there been through this? Is this thing on?

Spring sewing
I have still been doing some sewing in my very limited free time. 2 bunnies for my girls made with scraps from this great pattern from Wee Wonderfuls. They were quite easy and I think pretty cute. Chloe has been sleeping with hers.

I also made some aprons for my girls that I have been intending to make for over a year. I made up the design myself and they seem to be a hit.

I'm working on some other things, including a shirt for myself, hopefully to enter in Spring Top Week here. I have never made myself any clothes, so hoping it turns out well.

Next weekend, one of my best buds, Amy (who moved to Florida) and I are taking the Megabus to Chicago for a girls weekend. Can't wait!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I love making bags!

Just a quick post with some bags I made for my sisters. These were Christmas presents that they didn't get until March (I suck). They are from a pattern by Sandi Henderson that I think is awesome. They went together so easily. There are 2 patterns, this is the gathered bag. I also made 2 straight bags for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law but forgot to take pics (doh!) At least theirs made it out on time. (Please don't mind my horrible photography skills)

Now, if I could just find the time to make one for myself!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sewing and other stuff

I really wish I was clever enough to come up with witty titles for my posts, but alas, I am not, so utilitarian it is.

First order of business: I got a Brand Spanking New Sewing Machine! I am so excited and have delusions that I can complete twice as many projects in half the time with this baby. I did some research on the internet and decided to go with a Brother because it was in my price range and many people thought it was a great machine. I went to an authorized dealer and tried out a few and loved the embroidery/sewing combo. Then I thought how much embroidery would I really do and is it worth the cost? So I stuck with the sewing only model, which is still a major upgrade from my 1973 White machine and didn't blow my budget. Seeing as how I have 6 (yes 6) tutus to sew for Lily's school play, it couldn't have come at a better time.

In other exciting news, Lily will be traveling with my mom to Seattle in May to visit my sister, her Auntie Juju. Unfortunately, she will have to miss a little school, which I debated for a while, but you can't replace the fun and excitement of a grown-up trip that she will remember forever. It will be hard to have her away from me for a week, but it will be a trip of a lifetime for Lily and for my mom. Although, when I told her she said, "It isn't for 2 months, oh" and went back to watching TV. I am just hoping it won't be too hard on her little sis being left behind.

At the end of February, Lily's school had a week off (and they will have another week in April, what is up with that??) Since Daddy was in Mexico for work, I took the girls on a mini vacay to Cleveland to visit my mom and Kelley. We had a great trip, unfortunately not well documented in photos (I need to get better about this). We went to the Great Lakes Science Center, B. A. Sweetie candy store and just chilled. I also got a night out with my girlfriends. It was really great. Below are some pics from the Science Center. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pics of the girls with Kelley or my mom. Oops.

This is a bit of a side note, but these cake pops are incredible and I wish I had Bakerella's talent (and patience) to make these for my girls.Happy Spring!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Blushing Buttercream Pettiskirt GIVEAWAY!!!!

OK, had to add a link to this gorgeous thing as well. I could follow the instructions to make one myself, however considering I still have Christmas presents to finish, I would much rather win one!

Blushing Buttercream Pettiskirt GIVEAWAY!!!!

The Conservatory Overcoat GIVEAWAY!!!!

This thing is beautiful and it surely won't fit me, but I have a trendy sis who would definitely love it!

The Conservatory Overcoat GIVEAWAY!!!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Universe, you have thwarted me again!

So, for some reason, it seems whenever we plan something we are excited about, there is always a last minute disaster to thwart our plans. See the following for evidence:
  1. This summer when we were supposed to go to South Padre Island and Hurricane Dolly came along and ruined that for us. I was already packed. I hate packing and unpacking especially when you are not still on a high from the great trip you just took.
  2. When Lily was about 2, her dad was going to take her to visit his parents and I was going to have a whole week to myself! I was giddy with excitement as were they, so many plans made. The day before they were to leave, she got an infection in the skin of her face (facial cellulitis) that had the potential to require hospitalization, so they couldn't go. Who gets that??
  3. This weekend my fabulous, amazing, wonderful friend, Kelley, was going to play mommy to my girls for the weekend to give the hubs and I a chance to be alone for a few days (and because she loves my kids). I have the car packed and ready to go as soon as Lily is done with school. Got a call around 10, Lily threw up at school
Yup, this is my life. Could be worse, yes, but right now, I am bummed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Catching up...

Happy New Year. It is off to a frigid start in my neck of the woods. The below zero temps are a bit difficult to deal with. On the plus side, I have heard that when it gets that cold, clouds can't form so we have had many sunny days!

Feels Like
Christmas was kind of a bust for us this year. First of all, neither of my sisters were able to join us for the holiday, which was the first time in years, so that was a bit of a bummer. Then in the days leading up to Christmas, my grandmother got very sick and actually passed away on Christmas day. However, we tried to make a great Christmas for the girls and they really seemed to enjoy themselves, so that was a good thing.

I love this picture of my grandmother and Chloe checking each other out. I will miss you Mom mom.

Once again, I was overly ambitious with the Christmas projects and didn't get everything completed (I am still finishing up my sisters' gifts). I did however, make a lot of things, but like a dope didn't take any pictures! Doh! Anyone out there that I made something for (Mom, JoAnne, Lindsay, Kelley, Amy) can you take a picture and send it to me? Pretty please.

Here is a list of things I made that hopefully will have accompanying pics someday:
  • The annual Christmas PJs using a self drafted pattern for the bottoms and this tutorial for the kimono style top. I even made pants for the hubs and I, but like a dope (see above) didn't get a pic of all of us in them.

  • A paint smock from Amy Karol's book, Bend the Rules Sewing for my 2 year old niece. This was such an easy, fun project.
  • A patchwork crocodile for my baby nephew from the book Toys to Sew.
  • Market bags for my Mother-in-law and sister-in-law from my new favorite pattern by Sandi Henderson available here. She also makes the most gorgeous fabrics.
  • A lunch bag for my friend from a free tutorial from This is a smaller version of the pattern I used for my beach bag.
  • Oven mitts for my mom using some fabric she gave me and a pattern in Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing.
  • I made some shoulder bags for my girls with my own pattern. I used scraps of an outfit my mom made Lily to make Chloe's bag and a great bicycle print for Lily's bag.
  • My newest discovery was making some super fast potholders for last minute gifts. They are useful and fun and amazingly easy.
  • The piece de resistance of my efforts, however, was a quilt (my first pieced quilt) that I made for the hubs. I used some t-shirts the girls had made with their handprints over the years and also some pictures of the girls and their daddy. I was tearing up making it, so I know he loved it. I must confess, that I only finished the top by Christmas morn, but I hope to finish it soon, so he can use it.

Wow! I got more done than I thought I did. I need to make these kinds of lists more often.

In other news, we discovered over the Christmas break (and had it confirmed last week) that my oldest daughter is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, as well as every grass, weed, and tree out there. The seasonal allergies were not a surprise, but I sort of feel blindsided by the nuts. She is 7, I thought we were in the clear. It really doesn't change what we eat a whole lot and many places are now nut-free, the difficulty is making sure that everywhere she goes people are aware of her allergy. I am grateful that this came out later because she is pretty aware of what she can and can't have, I can't imagine trying to monitor everything a toddler puts in her mouth!

I will leave you with a fun picture of us sledding over the winter break, before the temps got so frigid.