Friday, December 31, 2010

Sheely 3rd Annual Colorado Hut Trip

For the last few years, we have planned a family hut trip when we come to town for Christmas in CO. Wow, it is always so beautiful and a lot of fun.

Doons and Nell worked hard on this awesome video to capture our trip.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas craft reveal - shoulder bag

Well, now that Christmas has been celebrated, I can FINALLY share with you some of the crafts that I have been working on this month. I've had so much fun making hand-made gifts this Christmas. I hope that the receivers of these gifts love them!

This shoulder bag is the most difficult thing I've attempted at making so far. It was a lot of fun. I got the pattern and instructions from a book I rented from our library, "Sew liberated" by Meg McElwee (see her blog here). She's a talented and brilliant crafter. 

Her instructions were easy to follow. I had to improvise a bit on the pattern and i totally rejected adding piping to this bag - it was tricky enough for me at it's barest form. 

I had a lot of fun picking out the fabrics for this. My sister, LeeAnn, is so cute and is soon to be a mom of two so I thought that a cute bag would be perfect for her. These fabrics reminded me of her.

The applique technique is something new to me (along with pretty much everything else involving this bag). I played around with a lot of different ideas and then just decided on these fun shapes. It might be a little more my personality than hers, but I still hope she'll like it. I used the Fusible Web material. See a previous winter craft post for the technique.

The bag ended up a lot bigger than I thought it would.

I hope LeeAnn loves this bag. I am happy just thinking all the wonderful things she could fill it with. Being a youth pastor, active woman, and a mommy, i'm sure there is no shortage of stuff to be toted around.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Button Necklace

note: blog written on Dec. 9, 2010 - but is published with a "do not open until Christmas" date.

I admit, that while the husband has been locked in his study for weeks now (don't you just love the end of the semester?), I have been indulging myself in things that he doesn't usually enjoy. This includes putting up Christmas decorations, working, hanging out with mormon missionaries, CRAFTING, and watching movies like "Handmade Holidays with Martha Stewart". 

Yeah, that sounds funny. But I found this craft on that video with Martha and thought it would be a great craft idea for my grandmother's Christmas gift. I found a link on Martha's website with instructions.

This necklace took 7 yards of red nylon beading string and about 100 buttons. 
I found a wonderful deal on some beautiful buttons at THIS and THAT etsy shop.

I thought some tight rosettes out of white flannel would balance this really long necklace.

I found this great "clasp" at my local beading shop

Here's a shorter version with green nylon beading thread

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas scarf

I made a Christmas scarf for both my mom and my sister. They are even the same style, although my mom's is about half the width of my sisters'.

During my time home this summer, Mom and Nell and I were shopping and they really liked these scarves that I would't let them buy because I swore that I could make them for way cheaper. These aren't exactly them - those were summer scarves - but these have a similar idea with the surplus of ruffles.
This craft was fun. I'm not sure if it is done the best way - I just conceptualized and designed the scarves myself and hoped they would turn out okay. They're a little crazy, but I like them. I hope Mom and Nell like them too.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm pretty excited about the presents under our tree this year. Not only did I enjoy creating a bounty of hand made gifts, but i really really love choosing the prefect gift wrap for each gift. The one with the cloth flower is for my dad. haha. not kidding. not exactly appropriate, i guess. landon thinks it looks like a nipple - what a guy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches over me

(photo by Saul Granda)

You know that things have been kind of tricky for us over the past few years. I love my work with ACSl's Sponsorship program and have been committed to it for over four years. However, when I started working from home over 3 years ago, we found ourselves without health insurance so I picked up a part time job at Starbucks for our two years in Illinois.

When we relocated here we had the same problem (no health insurance). Instead of my getting a part time insured job (which drove us both semi crazy previously), I enjoyed the mountains and leisurely days working from home. I am grateful that in our 18 months here in Utah, we have never had to test our catastrophic health insurance.

Last December I was informed that my program was going to be ending and I needed to start looking for another job. This job search has been going on for nine months and is finally at an end. Last month, I was offered a full time job at the Aviary, which will include health benefits. (yay yay yay yay :::happy dance:::)

And I am just amazed at God's provision and timing. In all of this time, we have never been without one thing that we have needed. My contract with ACSl ends at the end of this month, and my full time job doesn't begin until January 3. Our health insurance expires in January as well.

I can't believe that we will return home from Christmas to a full time job with health benefits.  (and this story of provision is only on my side of the spectrum with important details left out - the story of how God has provided for us in the way of Landon's schooling is even more incredible!)

God's loving provision is so steadfast. I found myself frustrated and distrusting a few times during this job search, and regardless of my lack of faith and attempts of self reliance, God continued to provide for us during the search until now. He continually humbles me with his love. I am so grateful to be the daughter of such a powerful, faithful, and loving Heavenly Father.

Freshies at the Bird

Finally some more snow out here and Doons and I were on the slopes first-thing in the morning. There is a saying that goes, "there are no friends on powder days". This is incredibly funny and true. One thing that I really enjoy about skiing is the camaraderie among everyone on the mountain - we are all loving the snow and the view and having a fun time together - people are pretty friendly and cool (even the teenage snowboarder boys!). However, on a powder day, everyone is in competition to get to untracked snow. I lost one or both of my skis (during a fall) FIVE times today and only once did someone stop their run to help me locate my ski. I even had people skiing around me and spraying me with snow while I struggled to dig my ski out of the snow or put it on (which is really hard to do in deep powder on steep chutes!). Even on the drive to the parking lot everyone wanted to be first. It's a pretty pathetic but slightly hysterical reality. By noon we were all friends again - all the snow had been tracked through and everyone was just out for fun, not for freshies.

My husband is an amazing skier. Maybe one day I will be good enough at skiing that I will be able to keep up with him and video tape him at the same time. So far, I am very far from this, so you get to enjoy self-taped video. He tried a new technique this morning, so I think it's more fun to watch than the helmet cam recordings. Take a look:

Here is some video of me in the powder. Gosh, I'm pretty embarrassed to share this. I'm still learning, as you can see. But I'm MUCH better than I was at this time last year.

We both returned home dead-dog tired. My "neckie" was essential today in the wind and snow. Let me know if you want one - I have tons of material and would love to make one for you too!

What a beautiful day!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Cookies

This weekend I put together some of my grandmother's Christmas Spritz cookies with her old cookie press. I colored these with food coloring and added orange extract.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Lights

All of our snow is gone. Melted completely. Today and yesterday were in the 50's here in the Salt Lake valley. It's hard to believe that Christmas is in less then two weeks, with this beautiful weather. Ha. and I don't like it!

During the day, I'm commuting without a jacket and mittens, and I've lost all of the "feelings" of Christmas around the corner. But at night, when the Christmas lights are twinkling all around me, I can't help but get in the mood to bake Christmas cookies and watch Christmas movies!

I've added this song, and some other unconventional Christmas songs to my play list. Enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Christmas Wreath

This weekend I finished my Christmas decorating. I strung our lights on the outside of our house and put together this wreath for our front door. It's pretty lopsided, but I like it like that. I like the disorganized, haphazard look of it.

When the husband was trimming the bottom branches off of our tree, I asked him to toss them on the front porch so I could put them on a wreath. 

Cheap supplies

I just cut the big branches into manageable pieces and wired them together.

Then I used the wire to secure them to the form

I overlapped each piece, securing each bundle all the way around the wreath. Doons suggested that I trimmed the longer stems to make the wreath look synchronized, but I didn't want stubs sticking out around it - I wanted the stems and branches to have their natural ends. I guess next year I could plan a little bit better to make it look a bit better, but I still like it. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Snowflake Pillow

Here is a VERY easy winter craft that I have enjoyed lately. My snowflake pillow. 

I used a brown and white flannel - just some left over fabric that I had. The snowflake I made using the famous and fabulous method of folding and cutting - like we did in elementary school. I found that flannel is much more difficult to cut than computer paper, so my snowflake is quite a bit out of balance. But that's okay.

Once the snowflake was cut and opened, I pinned it to my web interface.

My craft store sold this stuff by the yard. It was in reams just like the fabric. 
See how this material is just like a tight little web?

I pinned the snowflake flannel to the web interface and cut through the webbing right along the edges of the snowflake. After about 10 minutes with the scissors, I surrendered and just used a razor blade, which was much easier and quicker.

I don't have any pictures of the rest of the process, but it's just as easy as the first few steps. I took snowflake (still pinned to the webbing) and positioned it on my brown flannel as I wanted and ironed it on. Very easy.

Next, I sewed the pillowcase. I just sewed the fabric with the softer sides (and the snowflake side) inside of the pillow, overlapping the two ends of the fabric. When I turned it inside out, it looked like this on the back - a perfect little pocket to put the pillow inside. 

I'm loving making things snowflakey this year. If you didn't know, the snow bums out here are calling last month "Snowvember". For good reason - 140 inches in the early ski season is pretty close to miraculous. It's awesome.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Coffee

This jolly time of year has me craving something a little more festive than my morning favorite (black coffee). So I threw some of the season's best flavors together to have a special cup of Christmas coffee love!
1/4 Cup water with scoops of hot cocoa in the bottom of the coffee pot before brewing

1 tsp. of cinnamon on top of the grounds

Yields a delicious cup of Christmas coffee. 
Poured into my favorite Christmas mug and topped with marshmallows, I'm in the Yuletide mood!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"How often has the Christmas tree Afforded me the greatest glee!"

I watch deals on Groupon.

Groupon is great. It offers great deal from LOCAL companies. I love the idea of supporting local companies almost as much as I love the idea of awesome deals!
One of the deals that I indulged in was a Christmas tree for us this year from

We had it delivered this weekend and it is WONDERFUL!!!

We've only had Christmas trees 2 of our 6 past Christmases together. Mainly because they cost some money and we are always gone during Christmas anyway (and usually for 10-15 days). The two years that we have had trees, we cut them down from Pike National Forest outside of Colorado Springs. We were a day too late to get our permit this year to cut down our tree. I LOVED getting our tree delivered - it is fresh and purchased from a company completely run by a local family. 
It's just beautiful!!! This Noble Fir is a lot fuller than any tree we have ever cut from our National Forests. 
And it smells amazing.

We love it!

Monday, December 6, 2010

 Just a little glimpse of what's been going on at the McBrayer bungalow 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Long Sleeve Dress

I'd love a long sleeve dress. Dresses are hard to wear in the winter. Most dresses are sleeveless and not made from necessarily warm materials. Even the cute little black dresses aren't suitable for winter weather.

I've been doing some casual searches the last few nights online for long sleeve winter dresses and have come up seriously short. It's hard to find one that isn't: a wedding dress, cowl neck, lacy, mini skirt, open back (or bust), wrap dress, super slouchy, or bohemian.  I don't know why, but i don't want a dress that is any of these things.

Here's just a taste of what I found:
 Rachel Berry, anyone?
Cute, although short.

 Mini skirt, maxi hole

 I kind of love this but I could never sport it


I like this mock-wrap

This one is cute, but has no form.
 Which I guess is okay for mannequin-esque humans like this lady pictured.

Sweater mini. Cute, but still a bit chilly, right?

I like the boat neck, but that's about it. 
Forget that this model is strangling herself with that beautiful sting of turquoise beads.

I actually love this

This designer (xiaolizi) has several charming long sleeve dresses:

Sorry, no other photo credits. 

So what do you think? Do you even own any long sleeve dresses? I don't even have any in my wardrobe. I usually wear winter dresses and skirts with sweaters anyway. But, I hate to admit that I wore a long wool skirt to work yesterday and wore knee-highs and my winter snow boots underneath. I need a nice pair of leather boots for Christmas - something I can wear with a dress. But I was glad I wore the boots, I had to tromp through about a foot of snow throughout the day as I walked around the Aviary - I didn't regret the fashion crime at all. It was so practical.