Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Card Adventures

Happy Christmas all my blogging friends!  Wow, it's been a fast and busy Christmas season for me.  I've been busily sewing, crocheting, and drawing all month long.  Plus, I've gotten to visit a few of the wonderful Christmas Markets that Germany has to offer.

My latest (last minute) finish is this year's Christmas card.  It will be my last drawing this year at Practically Pippy and I hope that you all enjoy it.

xmas card 2013wb copy

I love the sweetness of this card and the look on the boy and girl's faces as they stand under the mistletoe.  Profiles tend to be hard for me to draw, but I really think this ended up worth the effort, and I just love their little clothes.

Thinking of a message was also very important to me and I hope that it expresses the joy and wonder that I wish for everyone at Christmas and the New Year.

xmas card insidewb

 I finally got it completely finished and ready to be sent out to our neighbors.  I used a nice textured card stock; I think that the type of paper used to print cards makes a huge difference in the print quality.


Now, I'm off to finish wrapping some gifts and delivering jams and jellies to the neighborhood.

Have a great Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Spinach Cheese Squares

Thanks to our Sew Mama Sew apron winner I have a new recipe for everyone to add to their holiday table.  So many of the dishes entered into the contest sounded supper yummy, but in the end Victoria's spinach cheese squares won me over.  Not only are they easy to make, but the ingredients can be found anywhere, and that's super important to me because we move a lot and certain ingredients become hard to find in different regions and countries.


Spinach Cheese Squares are moist, cheesy, and delicious.  I made this batch faithfully to Victoria's recipe, but I could see using this as a base and adding other items like onion, garlic, or other vegetables too.

You will need:


1 lb Monterey jack cheese (grate it or buy 2 8oz packages grated at the grocery)
2 packages chopped frozen spinach (defrosted, squeezed dry, and cut through with a knife a few time) OR about 1/2 pound of fresh spinach, rinsed, dried, stems removed.
1/2 cup flour (I have made this with as little as one tablespoon of flour)
1 cup milk
4 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 - 1 stick of butter 
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp white pepper (opt.)
1/2 tsp salt (opt.)


1. Prepare the spinach.

2. Grate the cheese.

3.Melt the butter in a 9 x 13 glass casserole dish in the oven as it preheats to 375-400°F degrees. Make sure it does not get too brown or burn. Take it out and set aside when melted.


4. Mix the baking powder/salt/pepper into the flour with a fork until evenly distributed


5. Mix the flour mixture into the beaten eggs and slowly mix in the milk to make the custard.


6. Pour in the cheese and the spinach and mix WITH A FORK.


7. Pour the lumpy mixture into the baking dish on top of the melted butter. Gently distribute it in the pan without patting it down. The heat of the oven will spread it out.

8. Bake 35 - 40 minutes until the center is baked, slightly raised, and the edges are crispy with the melted butter.


9. Cool a few minutes (it will flatten a bit) before cutting into individual servings.

That's it.  Easy and delicious.  Next time, I think that I'm going to go with a bit less flour and butter as Victoria suggested, and I might add some garlic just because we love garlic in this house :)

Thanks again to everyone who entered their recipe ideas.  I hope you enjoy making Victoria's spinach cheese squares in the near future.

To download and save an easy print, text version of this recipe, click here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Giveaway 2 - Supplies

The Giveaway is now closed!  

Thanks to Mr. Random, The winner is #195, Kat, of Kat & Cat Quilts.  Thank you to everyone who participated and left comments!

--------------------------------------- (original post below) ---------------------------------------

It's so great to be able to participate in the Sew Mama sew giveaway day.  This post is for my second giveaway.  FABRIC!!!

I will be hosting 2 giveaways so make sure to comment on either or both, and make sure to visit the Sew Mama Sew giveaway page to enter into all the other wonderful giveaways being hosted by other bloggers too!

This giveaway is for 10 fun and fabulous Fat Quarters.  I've included a nice variety of colors and patterns that will help you to build your stash.  The giveaway will be open from Monday the 9th through the 13th, and I will be shipping internationally if the winner lives outside of the United States.


To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment letting me know what your favorite Christmas Movie is.  It can be anything that you love to watch during the holiday.  The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on the 14th.

No Reply Commenters, don't forget to include your email or I can't contact you!


From floral to geometric, you get a little bit of everything.


This nice little novelty is not a FQ, but a 1/4 yard cut.  I still love it thought and think it would be great in any crafty themed project.


I love these ladies too, but I don't think they make many fabrics that I don't like :)


Thanks for visiting my blog.  Please feel free to browse around and visit my other projects and tutorials, and if you enjoy my projects, I'd love for you to become a follower (although it's not required to enter the giveaway).

Remember to leave your comment below and visit my other giveaway too.  Good Luck!

Giveaway 1 - Apron

The Giveaway is now closed!  Thank you to everyone who participated and left comments!

Oh my Gosh, Thank you to everyone who entered their recipe ideas in this giveaway.  There were so many great comments that it was extremely difficult to choose the winner.  In fact, I had to seek help, and the winner was chosen by a family and friends consensus.  It was tough to choose only one!

The winner is Victoria with her spinach cheese squares!  I look forward to hearing back from Victoria and posting her recipe here this coming week.

--------------------------------------- (original post below) ---------------------------------------

I'm so excited to be participating again in the Sew Mama Sew giveaway day.  It's always fun to get to meet other bloggers from all over the world and exchange ideas and insights.  I also find that it's a great way to find wonderful blogs that I haven't had the chance to follow yet.

I will be hosting 2 giveaways so make sure to comment on either or both, and make sure to visit the Sew Mama Sew giveaway page to enter into all the other wonderful giveaways being hosted by other bloggers too!

This giveaway is for a cute little front tie half apron made of a great pink/orange umbrella fabric with a fully lined pocket and pintuck detailing along the waist band.  The giveaway will be open from Monday the 9th through the 13th, and I will be shipping internationally if the winner lives outside of the United States.

To enter this giveaway, please tell me about your favorite holiday dish; the one that if you didn't make it Christmas would just not be the same :)  It can be anything from a side item to a desert.  What is it and why do you love it.  The winner must be willing to share the recipe!!!

I will announce the winner on the 14th and then make and share their recipe on this blog :)

No Reply Commenters, don't forget to include your email or I can't contact you!


Forgive the pictures, my nine-year-old was stand in photographer since Daddy is on a work trip :)


This picture shows the pintucks in better detail.  I love the extra stiffness they give to the waistband fabric.


I love a tie front apron with extra long strings since it's so convenient for making an apron fit many different shaped bodies.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Please feel free to browse around and visit my other projects and tutorials, and if you enjoy my projects, I'd love for you to become a follower (although it's not required to enter the giveaway).

Don't forget to leave your recipe comment below (be descriptive, tempt me!) and visit my other giveaway too.  Good Luck!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Night Owls illustration

One of the things I love about art, whether it's drawing, painting, sewing, or quilting, is that inspiration can just strike you out of the blue at any time.  I love that moment when a little idea begins to tickles you from the corner of your consciousness, and you have to get it down before you forget it.  That's why I try to keep a sketch book with me all the time.

night owls

I love the idea of a mother owl with her babies. I sketched this out with an idea of the type of owl that I was drawing, but I didn't know what it was called.  After a bit of research, I found out that the owl I was imagining was a great horned owl (which makes sense because we had one living in the palms in our back yard when I was a kid).

I sketched up a rough idea for this little owl family a few weeks ago.  I wasn't sure that I was going to do a full blow illustration from my original idea until my 6-year-old son saw the drawing and wanted to know which owl was him.  He's such a smart little guy, and he somehow knew that I was thinking about my three kids when I sketched this out.  I'm always finding inspiration in my family.  My kids inspire me every day with the crazy stuff they do :)
owls concept sketch
Here's my original sketch.  I know that it's really rough, but I just want to show you that I don't concern myself with drawing a pristine image right from the start. I redrew the image until I was satisfied with my final drawing and then scanned and colored it in photoshop.  

I'm thinking about printing this drawing out on some fabric to make a pillow for my daughter's room in the near future.  I'll keep you posted on that as soon as I figure out how I'm going to get the image from my computer onto a piece of fabric :)

In other news, I just want to say how excited I am about the sew mama sew giveaway day on the 9th!!!!!  I'm going to have two giveaways (maybe three; we'll see), and I'm definitely going to check out all the other giveaways too!  So, make sure you come back on the week of the 9th to sign up, and let me know if you'll be hosting a giveaway on your blog too so that I can visit as well.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Crochet Shawl

It's crunch time again people.  The time of year where we are all frantically trying to finish all the Christmas or Hanukkah gifts that we've been working on over the last few months in order to get them shipped in time for the holidays.

I spent all last night finishing this crochet shawl for my cousin's wife.  Hanukkah is early this year, and I'm furiously trying to get everything together for my cousin's gift box so that it gets there sometime during the eight days of Hanukkah. Thankfully, I still have time to finish gifts for the Christmas celebrating side of my family or I'd be in real trouble!


I've made this same shawl before and I love the pattern.  It's super simple and works up in a few days if you work on it a few hours a day.  You can get the pattern here from ravelry.  The original instructions are in French, but a kind soul translated them into English too.

The coolest part of this project for me was getting to finally use the 11 balls of Bollicine Lampedusa yarn that my mom found on super clearance a few years ago.  I hated that yarn.  The color was a yellowed grey and since it is a wool, alpaca, acrylic blend it looks like it had dog fur in it.  I named it the dirty dog blanket yarn, and I've been avoiding it in my stash forever until a few days ago.


When I was looking in my stash for a yarn to use in this shawl, those 11 balls of yarn started staring at me in a very accusing way.  They had the "why not use us" look on their little labels, and I realized that the only thing putting me off this great quality yarn was the color.  So, I decided to make the whole shawl and then dye it with Rit dye in teal.  I was worried about dying it, but I was really careful not to overwork the yarn in the dye bath (I didn't want any felting to occur), and it turned out much better than I imagined.


The color is actually much nicer in person than it looks in these photos.  I had just enough yarn to finish the shawl, and make this flower pin so my cousin can keep her shawl in place.


I just made up a big rolled flower and hot glued a piece of felt on the back to stabilize the large pin.


I think the pin is a nice finishing touch, and it looks great on my beautiful model :)  


Friday, November 1, 2013

Last Minute Halloween

This years Halloween was a bit more last minute than usual.  If I'm honest, many of my projects are done in a hurry between taking care of the kids, the house, and my own school work.  This year was a bit more last minute than in years past because my husband has been gone these last few months and I'm trying to do everything myself.  But, I still managed to crank out some costumes for the kiddos and a last minute Halloween Wreath.


I was actually going to skip the Halloween wreath this year, but my oldest son was not pleased with this idea.  So, I whipped this wreath up using the cheese cloth that I used to cover the couches at my Halloween Bunco Party, and added a spider that I found laying around the house.  Fast, easy, and my son was happy.  All good things.

I was also running a bit behind with costumes, but between reworking old clothes, thrift store finds, and some new accessories I managed to outfit the whole Boo Crew with their desired costumes.


This year, they all wanted to be monsters or witches.  I can't believe that I actually got these all done in time!  I really loved doing the witch costume with my little girl.  She just adored the tulle tutu and the feather witch hat, but I have to admit that I really really love my little son's skeleton costume.  My oldest was the easiest.  He decided that he wanted to be a zombie, and thank goodness his idea of a zombie resembles the old black and white movie versions and not some of the newer zombie movies from today.  I'm not ready for any kind of gory costumes yet.


I love how the costumes turned out and I love that the kids were the ones who told me what they wanted this year.  I'm putting this Halloween in the win pile and looking forward to the next holiday.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lady October

Wow, Fall got here so fast this year I barely had time to really prepare for it.  Here in Germany, we have beautiful Falls.  I'm really enjoying all the colors this year, and the kids have taken to bringing me home the extra special leaves that they've discovered outside.  Unfortunately, they were really sad to discover that the leaves tend to dry up after a few days, so I've been scanning some of their best leaves so that they can keep them forever.  This in turn inspired my latest drawing for the month of October.

fall leaves

This month I'm trying two new things.  1. I tried out a new computer program to color my sketches.  2.  I'm trying to post a bit more about my sketching process which is actually a bit scary for me.

I'm very happy with this drawing.  I did have a hard time deciding between the colorings of the background, so I've included my two favorites in this posts so you can compare the differences.

lady october bg1

This drawing was done by hand, then scanned and colored on the computer.  I tried to do it with my new program "sketch book pro", but I still need more practice with it and went back to using photoshop.  I do have to say that I love the pencil feature on Sketch book pro.  It is almost like using a real pencil.

lady october bg2

Background two is a cooler tone than my first pick.  I like how subtle it is, and it is my second favorite of all the different backgrounds I tried out.

lady october prelim sketch

I wish that I could say that I'm one of those people who can just sketch out awesome images without even trying, but my preliminary ideas are often really rough.  I just want to get the idea out, and then I work on refining my ideas and doing another few drawings before I have a final image that is ready to color.  This sketch was done at an indoor play area while my kids were bouncing in the background.  I don't usually share my rough sketches, but I'm really proud of how much better I'm getting at drawing figures and objects without having to have a reference.

lady october clsup

I love coloring my sketches by hand with paint or pencils, but I'm also loving being able to color them on the computer because there is more freedom with trying out different ideas without having to redraw the whole image and start over if you're not happy with a color.  In this drawing, I tried several ideas for the the Lady's undershirt before I finally chose these stripes.  I knew that the stripes were right because they made me smile the moment I drew them.

gown clsup

I also toyed with a few ideas for the dress fabric pattern before I drew out the final design.  I love the little bugs and beasts that are hidden in the pattern.  The frog might be my favorite part of her gown.

Surprisingly, I didn't struggle with the color for the cat.  I always knew that she had a grey cat :)

This drawing was a real pleasure to work on because I was so very inspired by the season.  Where do you find your inspiration?  In the seasons, daily life, in your day dreams, or somewhere else? :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Bunco Party 2013

Once a month, my girlfriends all get together and have a Bunco party at someone's home.  Bunco is a fun and easy dice game (go ahead, Google it, I know you want to :).  We play, we eat, we drink, and we talk. It's all very informal and fun.

This month, I had the pleasure of hosting Bunco at my home.  October is an important month to be the Bunco hostess because we always dress up and have a costume contest.  While normal hosting involves buying enough wine and making sure the pretty towels are hung in guest bathroom, Halloween Bunco involves a bit more thought and prep.  I really wanted to do some fun and spooky Halloween decorating without going overboard on cost and prep time. So, just for fun, I want to share some of my Halloween party decorating and Bunco ideas with everyone.

halloween Bunco Score Card image
Click on the image to download all six cards.
The first thing I made for the party was the Bunco score cards.  I drew out a spiderweb border, thought of some spooky sayings for the mini buncos, and played with some creepy fonts until I had a Halloween worthy Bunco score card.  I made six slightly different versions of this score card which you can download here for use at your own Halloween Bunco Party. Make sure to download the original for the best quality, and please feel free to leave me a comment if you use these for your Bunco gathering.

Before you read any further, I want to say that I didn't go all out and do a full haunt.  This is the easy, accessible version of a Halloween party.  I did some art, some funny accents, and some themed food just to get everyone in the mood.  Second, I was running behind during set-up so you're getting party aftermath pictures (sorry).


Anyone who knows me, knows that I love doing art for my parties.  When my daughter had her puppy birthday, we covered some of the art around the house with puppy themed designs.  So, this time, I made a series of three paintings to help get the room in the Halloween spirit.


The original idea was to take black poster board and make white chalkboard styled paintings.  Of course, that only works if the store has black poster board.


That's okay, because some of my best ideas come from having to think outside the box in search of a plan B. Plan B ended up being totally cooler than plan A anyways.  Any idea that starts with "pour half cup of wet paint onto canvas" has got to be good :)


As some of you may have guessed, these are finger paintings.  I didn't really plan anything in advance.  I didn't draw it out on the canvas or make practice sketches.  I knew that I wanted to do a skull, a witch, and a spider, and I had an idea of how I wanted them to look, but time was short and I just poured a handful of paynes grey onto the canvas, added a few handfuls of water, smeared it everywhere, and then used my fingers to wipe off the paint.  My kids, and my guests loved  the paintings so I was pleased.


I also made these day of the dead pens for my guests to use for keeping score and for favors that they could take home with them.


This project was also very paint reliant.  I painted plain mini skulls to be day of the dead sugar skulls, covered the pens in black ribbon, and then added some fake flowers around the head to cover the joined areas.


My last really crafty project for the party was making these black dripped glasses.  What's better than sangria served out of a cauldron with eye balls floating in your beverage; getting to drink the sangria out of a spooky black dripped plastic champagne flute.


My other decorative accents were pretty easy to do.  Sometimes simple is more effective.  People got a real kick out of my party crashing witch, and she was made using paper towel rolls, a pair of my socks and shoes, and plastic bags for stuffing.


The mini graveyard was easy and cheap, and it looked great surrounded by all the food.


Madam Leota was also easy and fun.  I just cut out a picture of her from a downloadable Halloween party invitation, put the picture in a glass globe, and put a flashing colored pumpkin light behind the cutout.  The effect was great for the price and she made a wonderful accent to the grape tray :)


And lastly, I had to put something funny in the bathroom.

I hope that some of these ideas or printables can help you haunt your house or party.  I have a few more Halloween and October themed crafts in the works that I I'll hopefully also post soon.

I'd also love to know what everyone else is doing for Halloween.  What's your favorite tradition?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Extra Special Fabric in Guthrie OK

During my visit to the United States this summer I got to go to several really fun quilt shops.  I have come to believe that quilters enjoy shopping for fabric almost as much as they like sewing.  I know that I personally make it a point to go to at least one (if not more) quilt shops in the areas that we are visiting whenever possible.  I love getting to meet local quilters to swap stories, techniques, and ideas.


One of the amazing shops that I visited during our vacation was in Guthrie Oklahoma.  My husband and I were there overnight to belatedly celebrate our wedding anniversary.  We stayed at a little B&B, enjoyed some dinner theater down in OK city, and then visited Guthrie before we started back to go rescue the Grandparents from the babies.  

 Because my husband was in a generous anniversary mood, I got to go visit the Extra Special fabric shop around the corner from our B&B in historic down town Guthrie.  It's nestled along side of several antique stores, thrift shops, cafes, and home decor stores.


Extra Special Fabric was amazingly fun and really lives up to its name.  I love going to shops that really reflect the area and Extra Special Fabric specializes in western and southwest themed fabrics.  They had everything you could possibly think of related to western fabric ranging from allover bluebonnet florals, to bandanna prints, and lots of cowboy and western novelty prints too.


The ladies in the shop were great and made me feel like an old friend come for a visit and not an out of town tourist buying a few fat quarters.


Speaking of, here is one side of their fat quarter station.  I love fat quarters and bought several western and patriotic FQs for my stash.  I also visited the sale table right behind this, and am still kicking myself for not buying a few yards of the arrow fabric that was on sale for a future quilt back.


I loved that they had lots of samples up on the walls of their aprons and quilt kits.  You could buy a ready made apron or get the fabric and make one yourself.  I love shops that have items that non-sewers can purchase.  This way, when I take friends (or husbands) who don't ooh and aah over fabric bolts with me, they can feel involved and have a good time too.


Here's a lovely little Texas wall quilt sample.  Very patriotic and cute.


And, the most important chair in the whole shop.  The husband chair.  Side table, fan, and magazines.  Very smart ladies :) I'm sure many a husband has relaxed in this chair so his lovely wife can fabric shop.


This was one of the most exciting parts of the shop for me.  The SCRAP BIN! I love scraps, I hoard them, and I love finding shops that sell them at reasonable rates.  Let's just say the the halfway empty state of this basket is due to me buying around two one-gallon bags stuffed to near overload with scraps. 


I had a wonderful time talking and shopping at Extra Special Fabrics and can honestly say that if you are in the area, this shop is a must visit.  Thank you ladies for being kind and patient with all my photo taking and question.  See you next time :) 

Who else has found special fabric shops while on holiday?

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