the gifts of 2016

it seems all i heard myself say during the month of december was “i’m not ready”, and by the end of the month i found that i had mental lists constantly running through my head…all negative.  the lists of what I didn’t accomplish, didn’t bake, didn’t decorate, didn’t make time to visit with.  they were heavy lists, and i’ve decided to let them go.  i’m trading them in for lists of how many strangers i wished a happy holiday, how delicious the pizzelles were with my morning and evening coffee, how much i enjoyed each stitch in each gift i was able to make.  and of course the biggest list of all (and the one i usually ignore until november!)…the list for next year!!

to start the new year i want to share a few of the handmade gifts i managed to eek out in 2016.  the last of the gifts were just now opened due to scheduling conflicts, so i’m finally able to share them all.

first up….the turtles!  i had these planned for quite some time and actually had them completed quite early.  one for each great niece.  a big old floor pillow with personality.   hannah is a pink and purple sort of girly-girl who loves to dance, so for her…a pink and purple turtle with a bit of glittery fabric thrown in for fun.dscn7031

brooklynn is more of a whirlwind of action…karate kicks, ninja moves…that’s more her style.  so she got a blue and green turtle (there’s a bit of glitter…i couldn’t resist), with a surprise underneath.  the bottom of the turtle is girl super-hero fabric…super girl, wonder woman and batgirl.  no, the red doesn’t really “go” with the blue/green top, but does that really matter?  i hope it said to her “i get you…I know who you are”dscn7033you may not be able to tell from the pics, but these guys are BIG!  they stand about 10-12″ tall and from head to tail measure about 48-50″….perfect for propping you up for movie time.

my sister (turtle girl grandmother) has eyed my messenger bag for quite some time…offering to take it off my hands, so i made her one of her own.  it’s amy butler’s first messenger bag pattern…a very simple bag with a pocket flap.  i use mine all the time and it’s just right.  once i made it i decided she needed a heigh-ho laptop sleeve to match, so she got a set.dscn7046picking out the buttons was, of course, my favorite part of the project.  at one point i think i had every button in the studio spread out across the rug…and that’s a whole lotta buttons!

dscn7043sister also got a kerchief shawl.  i can’t sit and watch a movie without picking up a knitting project.  i made one for myself first to test the pattern and then made hers…after blocking i’ve decided that if i make this pattern again i’ll add an extra repeat since it feels a bit short when i wrap it around my neck.


last year elizabeth made recipe towels using a spoonflower tutorial here on the blog.  i knew then that i wanted to make some too.  instead of using a single recipe, i stole borrowed some the favorite family recipes…ones that even the grandsons would know…mostly handwritten (i think each side had one printed recipe) and had fabric printed at spoonflower.  i made towels for everyone, 18 in all!  every generation got a towel…even the great granddaughters and i have a few left that just need hemming in case there is ever a towel emergency.


dscn7041i saved my favorite project…or shall i say my latest sewing addiction…for last.  the rope bowl craze has been happening for a while now but i seem to show up a bit late at these sorts of things.  i’ve had the clothesline in my studio closet forever (planned on making a bag with it), but it wasn’t until days before christmas that i pulled it out and began my first bowl.  jeff walked in to find me forming the bottom and asked what i was making…actually it was more “what are you making NOW?” and i replied “a bowl”…he didn’t even comment, just walked out.  but nothing would dampen my enthusiasm for this project.  i’ve seen them made with fabric strips covering the rope, with ribbon accents, but i had yarn…plenty of yarn, so that’s what i used.  iI didn’t try to make the accents symmetrical, i just added them whenever i felt the urge to add color.  i also started out with the standard loop handle, but tried what i call “the casserole handle” on one and loved it!  some are lightweight rope, some are a bit stiffer…i’m still trying to find just the perfect clothesline because i’m hoping to make a LARGE basket for myself and need it to stand up to a bit of weight.  have you tried these?  OMG…you must!  the process is so easy and the possibilities are endless (unlike the clothesline…i ran out a couple of times and had to make emergency trips to the hardware!)

so that was 2016…i can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.  what’s on your list for the year?





adios 2015


it was a year…and what a year it was.  2015 was the year when it all started coming together.  snapdragon studios was no longer a newborn, but entering toddlerhood…a bit wobbly on my feet at times, but beginning to explore this new world.  i thought it would be good to look back and see a few of the highlights of the year before moving on and planning for 2016.

  • so…4 new patterns released!!  the lemon squeeze cardigan, on the run bag, heigh-ho laptop sleeve and the cider house jacket all came out late in 2015.
  • 2 of our patterns were chosen by to be offered as kits.
  • another design for dear stella fabrics (the essential spring basket) was completed.
  • new virtual friends were made
  • quilt market in Houston was attended…devoured and enjoyed!
  • there was some cooking done, some gardening shared, some reading reviewed and craft projects completed and shared.

it was a good year.  i always hate new years…saying goodbye to a year that i “know” and venturing into a new one.  but this year i’m making plans (nope, not resolutions!) for the year to come, and i’ll be sharing both some business plans and some personal ones in the next few days.

happy new year!!  may it be a healthy, happy, full year for all of us.



Easy last-minute DIY gifts

It never hurts to have a few last minute gifts on hand for teachers, neighbors or stocking stuffers, and I have been stocking up on needlebooks (friends and family, avert your eyes!) and some of the little projects from our tutorials page.


What little projects are you finishing up for the holidays? Most of my sewing is a secret at the moment, but I will have a couple of fun projects to share after Christmas.


the holidays smell like anise

my husband is italian. he grew up with some amazing traditions, like making homemade ravioli at his grandma’s on new years (which i haven’t attempted YET) and pizzelle’s for christmas.  my mother-in-law would manage the preparations and the iron while my father-in-law would sit beside her trimming the cookies as they came off the iron.

many years ago my mother-in-law passed along her recipe and invited me to “help” in order to learn her secrets.  and several years ago i began sharing with my son’s girlfriend (the amazing) amy.  now each year we get together for “pizzelle day”, still using my mother-in-laws tips, which include softening the anise with the addition of a few extra flavorings, the necessary tablecloth on which to place the hot cookies and most importantly, using an ice tea spoon to scoop the dough.  i’m convinced that they simply wouldn’t taste the same if i used a plain old teaspoon!!



friday was “pizzelle day” and i looked forward to it all week long….there is nothing better than a cup of coffee and a pizzelle!  of course a few fresh cookies were deemed “unacceptable” or “ugly” and we were forced to eat them on the spot…that can be a tradition too can’t it??


so bring on the holidays (and some hot coffee)…i’m armed wih a few hundred pizzelles!!



A simple advent calendar

When I was growing up, our Advent calendar was a little wall hanging with pockets. The top was a snowcovered house and there was a little mouse that we moved from pocket to pocket as we neared Christmas.

My parents still put that calendar out every year, so this year I started thinking about some ways to celebrate Advent at our house and remind us to take time to enjoy the season. I came across this post on A Beautiful Mess and decided to do something similar.


We have some sections of weathered fencing left over from fencing our backyard, so I pulled a few boards off of one scrap piece and cut them to length. My tree is about 3 1/2 feet high and the “branches” are about 12″, 15″ and 21″ or so.

I knew I didn’t want the kids to have chocolate every day (a whole month of daily chocolate might be enough to make me put them out with the cat), and I also didn’t want to amass 24 (x 2 kids, so 48, ugh) little toys to unwrap every day, so I settled on activities that we can do together each day, scheduling the activities to coincide with my work schedule and other obligations.


I glued and stapled regular sized clothespins to the boards and used a big punch to make red and green paper “ornaments” that I wrote activities on. Each day we’ll take down that day’s ornament, do the activity and replace it with a pretty metallic paper ornament as we count down to Christmas. 


If you’re looking for ideas of what to do with your kids, here’s a post I wrote for our library listing many of the activities we will be doing. Some of them are specific to our area, but most communities have similar things going on at this time of year.

Happy Thanksgiving! We’re thankful to all of you who take the time to stop over to our corner of the internet.


easter finery

in your easter bonnet“…i used to sing that song while picking out just the right hat to match my easter dress.  the easter dress that my mother put many hours into making, one for me and one for my little sister.  oddly, i don’t remember her making one for herself. but i have very clear memories of many of those fancy dresses she created for me.  each year mom would pull together the pattern and fabric, then spend days making those special outfits, complete with white gloves, hats, mary janes and white socks.  then on easter morning we would stand in our finery before heading to church and dad would take our picture.

C_K Easter love the ruffles on those socks!!  oh, how i loved that little purse.  and such a dapper big brother!
Image_easterthe little sister came along and then there were 3.  i don’t know if mom made her dress, but isn’t she beautiful? no white gloves that year, but a nice bruised shin to show off.


i remember this one sooo well….yellow linen and a floral bolero jacket to match….with stockings!!  the perfect hat…and the gloves make their appearance once more!  yet another pair of mary janes…and always the lady like pose.

something struck me when looking back at these pics from my childhood….nothing much has changed!  the easter outfits that we wore would still work today (okay, maybe without the gloves, but they were still pretty cool!).  the boxy jacket and full skirt, the princess cut dress and matching bolero….they’re still being worn. mothers still sit at their sewing machines (computerized ones now) and create beautiful dresses for their girls…girls still show off their easter finery, twirling in their full skirts and becoming young ladies in their dresses and jackets.

did your mother sew for you?  and do you still remember your favorite dresses?  maybe you’re the mom now, creating  memories for your children.  strut your stuff this easter, with or without white gloves…and take pictures!!

happy easter!!


and that little basket handbag?  i’d carry it today if it was still around!

it’s beginning to look….

i love driving through town and seeing the lit trees lining the streets, the unique and individual ways that people decorate.  i’ve always envied the homes in photos….you know the ones, where everything reflects light, all the ornaments “match” and the entire house seems cohesive.  but then i decorate my own home and realize that i wouldn’t trade the memories that my holiday decorations hold for all the glittery perfection in the world.  my tree still holds construction paper chains made by a now 31 year old.  ornaments that tell the stories of three boys growing up, a few ornaments from a dear grandmother, a favorite aunt, and the hand painted wooden ones that my husband and i painted together during our dating years.

so today i’m sharing little snippets of my holiday…..they’ll never be seen in a magazine, but each one holds a memory.

the quilted snowman wall hanging…each block was a monthly gift from a secret sister in quilt guild.
a snowflake…i have three, one from each of the boys during their cub scout years.
my grandmothers lead figures, including a horse drawn buggy, skiers, sledders and figure skaters.

my handmade snowmen who grace my hoosier each year…my favorites being the chilly little couple who always sit together happily.
part of my bay window…a simple cracker jar filled with ornaments reflecting the lights of the garland lining the window.
and in the corner of my kitchen, standing by the bay window is an alpine tree filled with cardinals, nests and pinecones (marcia…i think of you every time i look at that tree!)

i hope you’re all feeling the brightness of the holiday….share it with everyone you meet.

it’s coming together

i feel like it’s starting to come together….i braved the pre-thanksgiving grocery (my early morning plan worked!) and both the pantry and fridge are stocked, the menu is ready (actually it’s always the same menu….my boys wouldn’t have it any other … Continue reading


Kim is not the only one who is getting the fidgety-twitches as the holidays are approaching.  I spent a good hour or more this week compiling a big list of gift ideas for our friends and family for Christmas.


image here

A post by Elizabeth of Simple Simon and Company got me thinking.  She asked why we sew.  For me, homemade gifts are not so much about the gift itself, although I try to make something beautiful and useful that will be enjoyed.  While I am making something for someone I spend that time thinking about the person for whom the gift is intended and praying for him or her.  The gift itself is just a representation of the time I spent focusing on the recipient.

That’s not to say that I don’t also enjoy the process of creating (most of the time, anyway…) or that I don’t focus on the recipient when choosing gifts to buy.  But for me the hours I spent making presents and the love I try to put into each one are part of the gift.

Do you make gifts to give?  Why do you do it?