Monday, September 12, 2011

Fall Goals

Craft Related:
  • Knit myself a wrap or sweater
  • Finish Jack's mobile before he arrives!
  • Organize my yarn stash & knitting/crocheting supplies
  • NO yarn purchases unless absolutely necessary to finish a WIP
  • Make Christmas presents for Dad's side.*

Non-Craft Related:
  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Rearrange bedroom
  • Clear clutter from living/dinning area
  • Get into a habit of having Personal Prayer Time** every day 

*So last year I decided not to go crazy with Christmas presents for Dad's side of the family. Mom's side has done a gift exchange where each adult only buys a present (around $50) for one other adult for YEARS. My dad's side refuses to do this and instead we all try to stretch very meager budgets to buy for 3  dozen people. Last year I baked & crocheted little Christmas garlands for each family & called it a day. I didn't expect a big reaction, but people LOVED the garlands. So I think I'll do ornaments or something this year.

** On NET we had lots of different specific kinds of prayer time. We had Team Prayer every day where we'd sing & pray together. We of course prayed on retreat. We went to Mass. We prayed in our gender groups. And every single day we each took at least 30 minutes (almost always in the morning) to pray on our own. Something one of the staff members said toward the end of the year has stayed with me ever since: "The way you'll know if your NET year was successful is not if you're still talking to your teammates or if you're working in ministry... You'll know you had a successful year if you're still taking personal prayer time in 20 years." Yeah. I haven't been the best at that. Lately, I've felt really disorganized, anxious & unfocused. I think getting back into that routine will really help with all that.

What are your goals for the next few months?

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Art of Finishing

Why do I do this to myself? I knit or crochet things- get them all done- except for the finishing. Buttons, zippers, sewing up of things.... I just can't do it. I leave it to the last minute. Remember when I was late to my niece's birthday party because I waited until after the part started to even BUY the button for her purse? 

I've been working on a baby blanket  on and off since August of last year! The crochet part was completed in May but the "wrong side" definitely looks wrong. It's also rather thin. So the plan was to back it with some thin flannel. I've decided to give it to my BFF's baby so I bought the flannel a few weeks ago. And it sat there. Sat, folded up, sad and alone until YESTERDAY! The baby shower is Saturday and sewing on this backing is SUCH a pain. I have no idea if it'll actually get done.

Anyone have any good advice for me? I can't get over this hatred of finishing!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Matryoshka Baby Shower Details

So now that I've had a few days to recover, I thought I'd share a little about the big baby shower!

Choosing a non-traditional theme was a challenge. While matryoshkas are popping up all over in jewelry, stationary and such it still wasn't like I could pop into a party supply store and pick up lots of matryoshka paper goods. We also wanted to keep things classy with a simple blue & white pallet. We used several shades of blue, which made things look less matchy-match.

The tables:
The flowers were simple tissue paper with pipe cleaner stems. Jen wrapped the inside of the vases with light blue tissue to conceal the pipe cleaner. We picked up some rubbery doilies at the 99 Cent Store. I have to admit, I was leery of them when we made the purchase, but Jen has a much better eye for those sorts of things. I think having them made a big difference in the look of the table. The confetti is also paper. We got a couple bags at $4 a pop from Party City- a big party supply store in town.

The favor boxes were these printables I purchased from Fantastic Toys on etsy. The pdf came quickly and was beautiful. They were kind of a pain to make, but that's not a design problem... I just don't think they're meant to make 30+ at a time. If I never see these things again it might be too soon. They were a hit though. We used the 3 biggest sizes (the pdf comes with 5 sizes) and filled them with butter mints bought at WinCo in the bulk section.

Other decor:
Jen bought these cardboard 3D letters (and exclamation point!) from Paper Source and covered them in tissue paper. I loved this little addition to to food table. People also grabbed these to use in the photo booth.

We had only a few traditional matryoshkas to scatter about, but they were nice little accents. We had planned to hang blue, aqua, white & a few green paper lanterns from the ceiling but it didn't work out. The white ones looked cute on the food table though.

I used the images from the invitations to spruce up some basic Avery name tags. We asked people to write their name & how they were related to one or both mommies. I chose the classic "friend of mommies". My sister decided to go with a more obscure reference coupled with a really old nickname. :)

Those same invitation dolls came up again as cupcake toppers. (Look, if you pretty much completely redesigned & totally recolored images using just MS Paint, you would reuse the heck out of them too!) The cupcakes were ordered sight-unseen from Bakalicious. I had NO time to make 3 dozen carrot cake cupcakes and no desire to try to figure out how to transport them anyway. I jumped on yelp, saw that this lady had fabulous reviews & that she delivered and just decided to try it. She was a joy! The cupcakes were light and moist, the frosting was just sweet enough but still fluffy and they looked beautiful. At $2 a cupcake she was by far the best buy in the North LA area. I highly, HIGHLY recommend ordering from her if you're in the area. I plan to use her again for an upcoming party.

The activities:
Along with two classic games (Baby Tray Memory- try to remember all the baby items shown to you- and Pregnancy Trivia- answer questions about the mommy-to-be's pregnancy) we tried two newer ideas.

Ice Ice Baby: This was, honestly, a little creepy looking... but everyone had fun. I purchased a matryoshka shaped ice cube tray and froze tiny plastic babies inside. We handed these ice babies out along with plastic bowls to catch the water. Without breaking the ice (it must be melted) and without leaving the room, the first person to get the baby out of the ice wins. My sister & Dr. Steven (an Ob/Gyn) ran to the sink and fought over the hot water while a coworker ran to the iron! Dr. Steven got the baby out first, which made everyone laugh. The whole thing lasted maybe 30 seconds. I would suggest not letting people use anything but natural heat.

Onesie Decorating: This is an increasingly popular activity that takes a lot of prep work & a lot of time at the party, but I think it's worth it. We purchased a bunch of onesies in different sizes on sale. Then we collected fabric paint (flat, not puffy paint), some stencils, fabric markers, iron on letters & some decals. We brought a small table-top ironing board & iron and set up a little table. Throughout the shower people went up and made their onesies. I was really afraid the mommies would end up with 30 hideous things no one would want their baby to wear, but there were actually some cute products! The less-adventurous people used the iron-on decals while the more artistically inclined used the other supplies. We strung up some jute and let people hang their creations up with clothespins to dry/show off.

Handmade Gifts:
I am a firm believer that children need handmade presents. I can't tell you how disappointed I am that I'm almost always the only one bringing something made especially for the baby to most showers now. Come on grandmas! If you can't pull out your needles, hooks & sewing machines for your grandbaby, when will you?

Ok... end rant... here are the special handmade items made or purchased for Jack

I bought this adorable personalized hanger from Floating Owl Designs on etsy. It was really well made, came on time & she was a pleasure to work with. I can totally see buying the grown up versions for future brides. (The little suitcases were purchased from Land of Nod. They were packed with clothes, books, shoes and....)

"Ella Funt" made with KnitPicks Comfy Sport in Planetarium. Colorwork done in Comfy & Shine scraps from a blanket I'll be gifting at the family shower. (Details on Ravelry.) This was a really fun, remarkably fast knit- especially considering I'm a new knitter & this was my first fair isle project.

"Owlet" made with KnitPicks Comfy Bulky in Arbor (now discontinued). As I've said before- I LOVE this pattern. I plan to make a bunch of them for the babies in my family this Christmas. (details on Ravelry)

I totally missed getting a picture of the "car snuggy" that a friend I don't know made. It was a crochet square- maybe 24x24 inches. So a small blanket- meant for the baby to snuggle with in the car. Totally cute, quick present idea.

And finally.... I saved the pregnant mommy's brother's girlfriend's gift for last because it is INCREDIBLE:

This was a needle felted elephant, done entirely free hand. It was just over 12 inches tall! If you've never needled felted you might not understand the incredibleness of this. It's HUGE for this type of project and she didn't use any sort of form underneath. It's just polyfil covered in wool fiber & felted by hand with a needle tool. The girl who made this is an incredible artist. She's made beautiful sculptures for each of the family members but even knowing that, this still blew me away. I think she was glad someone knew what kind of work had to be put into it. :)

Overall, I think the baby shower was a huge success and totally worth all the work & stress that went into pulling it off. Of course, when my other best friend said it looks like he & his partner will be adopting before the end of the year & was I ready for another baby shower I almost socked him. :) But I am... or I will be... just let me take a nap for like a week.

What is YOUR favorite baby shower game/theme. Any suggestions that will make the next party totally awesome?