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Breakfast with Santa

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 21, 2008 in Family Stuff, Today's Photo

We had breakfast with the big guy yesterday morning at Bogey’s inside the Pitman Golf Course (Santa arrived in a golf cart).  Amazingly, Emily forgot everything that was on her list while sitting on his lap.  And this is the closest Matt came to Mr. Claus – immediately after this photo was taken, he fled to the other side of the room…

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Santa looks a little bit like he’s being hounded by the paparazzi (which I’m sure happens a lot…).

 
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A “Green” Crafty Gift Idea

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 16, 2008 in Crafts, Knitting, Other items, Today's Photo, Yardsale Finds

I finally finished the felted purse that I’ve been knitting since SEPTEMBER!  I had this great (but totally unrealistic) idea that I would whip up all these knitted/felted purses and give them as Christmas presents this year.  Well…four months later and only one purse is finished – not exactly productive.  Maybe I don’t have the patience for completing knitted projects – I seem to lose interest – especially when knitting something like the handle that takes FOREVER and is the same stitch and the same color yarn over and over again…

Anyway, here are the side panels after they were knitted (I added some brown fuzzy yarn at the top that will not felt for a little texture):

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And here is the purse assembled, but before felting:

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And after felting (I added a vintage brown button to help keep the top of the purse closed):

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The thing is, I LOVE the felting process…but have little patience for the knitting part…

Then I came across a great idea in the January issue of Country Living magazine called “Sweater Recycling 101”. 

The article described how to take old, wool sweaters and felt them (no knitting required!!!!), then cut and sew them into cute little tote bags – perfect! 

I visited my local Goodwill store yesterday and picked up a variety of inexpensive 100% wool sweaters, all of which were $4.99 or less (yardsales would be great for this too, but there aren’t too many yardsales in Pitman in December – way too cold).

I took the sweaters home and ran them through my washer on hot with the greatest agitation level, then threw them in the dryer until dry.  Just a hint – don’t wash more than one sweater together or with other clothing.  The sweaters will lose an enormous amount of fibers that stick to everything when wet.  And make sure they are 100% wool – I think chunky wool works better for this project. 

After washing in hot and drying in the dryer, the sweater will be felted – the fibers shrink and blend together forming a nice, thick piece of fabric that is easily cut and won’t unravel.  The thing is – felting is a very unpredictable process.  There’s no telling how a sweater will shrink.  Some of those I tried shrank evenly all around – others ended up with a very short body and very long arms.  And in general, the larger the sweater size, the larger the bag.

Cutting the sweater is a matter of experimentation depending on the size of the sweater and the amount of shrinkage.  Country Living gives a pattern that is almost like cutting the sweater into a tank-top – the shoulder straps of the ‘tank-top’ become the handles.  This makes for a very simple project – just stitch a seam across the bottom and you have a sweet little tote:

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The bag above started out as a purple ladies V-neck sweater from the Gap with a fair-isle pattern across the chest.

My favorite bag was a men’s extra-large striped sweater in blues and greens with a nice cable pattern and a rolled-neck.  This sweater had some holes in it, so I wasn’t able to use the ‘tank-top’ pattern.  Instead, I had to cut out the front and back panels of the sweater and stitch down the sides.  I then used the arms as the handles, cutting them apart and folding them over in half.  I stitched them in place and this is the result:

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I wish I would have taken a photo of the sweater before I felted it – I was just so curious as to how this would work, I forgot to stop and take a picture of the ‘before’!   This is a very large, sturdy bag – but my little basic sewing machine did have some trouble stitching through the thick, felted wool – I just kept pushing and pulling it until it made it though.

I also experimented with adding some pockets.  Here is a women’s wool sweater from Eddie Bauer after I felted it:

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Not sure if you can tell, but the body shrunk up really short but very wide.  I cut it into the ‘tank top’ pattern and stitched up the sides as well as the bottom:

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The back of the bag was just plain red so I decided to cut the bottoms of the sleeves and add them to the back side as little pockets:

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I’m telling you…this became addictive after a while!  You never know how the bag is going to turn out…

Here’s another one – this is an Old Navy sweater before felting:

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I used the ‘tank-top’ pattern, but cut it into more a square, then added the unfolded end of one of the sleeves as a long pocket on the front:

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I love this project because…1) there’s instant gratification – you throw the sweater into the washer and in no time, you have a brand new piece of felt that’s a surprise every time,  2) one entire project (once the sweater is felted) takes less than 30 minutes, 3) it’s inexpensive, 4) it’s a practical but still a really cute gift and 5) it’s good for the environment to re-use something in a whole new way – it can be fun being green!

And now even though I didn’t actually knit them as I intended, I have all these cute felted purses to give as gifts – plus I may make a few more after a visit to another local thrift store this weekend…

 
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Did I say our shopping was done?!?!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 14, 2008 in Family Stuff, Today's Photo

I just re-read my last post where I mistakenly said that our Christmas shopping was complete.  Just when you think it’s over, you remember those last couple of gifts that are missing…Sunday school teachers, school aides, pet-sitter…

But I’m almost done.

Good thing, because the holidays remain in full swing.  Yesterday was Emily’s Christmas dance recital…

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(Photo was taken while waiting backstage – for some reason, photos taken while on stage always turn out with weird streaks – not sure if it’s the venue, the camera or the photographer). 

As for the dancing, what a HUGE improvement from last year!  The routine went from last year’s mostly standing around with lots of arm swinging to this year’s actual dancing (with moving feet and everything).  Emily did a great job – she knew her routine very well and was quite animated while dancing.

Last night we made our annual visit to the Hagerty light display…

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Have I ever mentioned how much I despise cold weather?  It was SO cold last night…my nose and chin were frozen by the time we finished at the display. 

Here’s wishing for a warm, green tropical Christmas…

 
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General Holiday Craziness

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 8, 2008 in Family Stuff, Today's Photo

Well…it seems that the holiday craziness has begun.  Last week, we had one event every night and this week, some nights we have as many as 3 events!  I feel like I’m already running on empty (and it’s only the 8th of December!).  At least our decorations are up and our shopping is complete!

I have a quick minute and thought I’d share a few quick photos…

Emily and Matthew had their annual Holiday Concert at school – Andrew was SO excited to go (as only a 14 year old can be):

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I figured out that by the time Emily is done with elementary school, I will have sat through 14 of these holiday concerts! This one was nice though – each class sang only one song and the accompanying music was kept to a minimum which meant we could actually hear the kids’ voices.  And Matt had his debut in the 4th grade band playing the clarinet – quite a lovely rendition of “Hot Cross Buns” (now stuck in my head).

I also went on the Pitman Christmas House Tour this weekend – I just LOVE the house tour!  It’s so much fun to see inside other people’s houses and view their Christmas decorations.  Cameras were not allowed, so I have no photos, but there was one house that I loved so much, I told the owners that if they ever put it on the market to please let me know.

Yesterday, the Girl Scouts sang for some of the older residents at Pitman Manor:

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That’s Emily in the back.  Later that afternoon, Emily (who is just 6 years old) said that she had to hold back her tears because she found herself getting ‘emotional’ in the retirement home.  Emily, I was getting emotional too.

After a morning at church, and an afternoon with the Girl Scouts, I ‘helped’ Andrew with his 9th grade biome science project for several hours.  I’m just glad to be home alone this morning focusing on nothing but laundry and the batch of yummy chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven…

 
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On a Lighter Note…

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 8, 2008 in Family Stuff, Our Goldendoodle Puppies, Today's Photo

I received an email last week from children’s author and fellow Daisy-Doodle goldendoodle owner James Preller.  James is the author of the “Jigsaw Jones” mystery book series as well as other titles.

James happened to stumble upon my blog and found that we have goldendoodle ownership in common.

A quick side note here – we found a fabulous new place to have our doodles groomed – Pet Styles in Pine Hill, NJ.  We had the dogs groomed for the holidays – how cute are they?

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They even painted Daisy’s nails red and green:

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Anyway…back to Mr. Preller…

As many of you know, I’m a HUGE fan of Barack Obama.  And as many of you may also know, the Obamas are in the process of selecting a new puppy for their daughters to bring to the White House.  They want a family friendly dog that is low shedding to help with allergies but still want a substantial dog (as mentioned the other night on the Barbara Walters interview – when Barbara suggested that the Obamas choose a Havanese dog, Barack asked if that was one of those little ‘yappy’ dogs).  Emily and I talked about writing a letter to the president-elect suggesting they try a goldendoodle – but it appears that Mr. Preller’s dog Daisy has beat us to it.  Read for yourself and see what I mean…

An Open Letter to President-Elect Obama

I couldn’t have said it better myself (nor could my own doodle Daisy – seems she’s a little behind in the abilities of learning to type or form complete sentences – maybe some further training is in order).

I would also like to thank James for his most recent email where he said, “And by the way, you have a really nice, natural voice on your blog, very warm and welcoming.”  Thanks, James – you are welcome to stop by anytime. :)

 
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Pretty Little Present

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Nov 30, 2008 in Crafts, Family Stuff, Today's Photo

Emily’s dance studio was asked to march in the annual Pitman Christmas Parade held last night.  Unfortunately, this weekend I am suffering from the annual “Torrence Thanksgiving Stomach Flu” (hits at least one of us every year – one year, it took out our whole family AND the entire Meehan family too), so I wasn’t able to go.

But I did manage to take a photo of Emily in her costume before she left.  They asked for the girls to dress up as reindeer, Christmas trees or presents…so I decided to do a little recycling of her Halloween costume:

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I removed the puppies and covered the box with wrapping paper (that just so happened to be about the same color as her coat) and some ribbon.  I replaced the rope with the same ribbon and added a tag that reads, “To:  Mommy/From:  Santa”.   The tag was going to read “To: Emily”, but my six-year-old pointed out to me that made no sense.  “Mommy, how can the present be TO me when I AM the present?”  I couldn’t argue with that.

 
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Thanksgiving With Family

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Nov 28, 2008 in Family Stuff, Our Goldendoodle Puppies, Today's Photo

We spent Thanksgiving yesterday with Mike’s family in Elizabethtown, PA.  Even the dogs came along, dressed for the occasion:

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It was nice to see Mike’s family again – especially his grandmother, Nan.  Here she is with Mike, his brother Mark and sister Terri (Mike’s brothers Don and Fred couldn’t make it yesterday):

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And here’s the Torrence gang from NJ:

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It was also nice to see some cousins too.  Matt and his cousin Devin were born just days apart – here’s Nan and Devin with his mom and dad (Mark and Sue from Littitz, PA):

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It was a long day – we had a two hour drive each way – but everyone enjoyed spending time together.

 
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Happy Anniversary!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Nov 28, 2008 in Family Stuff, Today's Photo

Happy 10th wedding anniversary to my dear husband, Michael!  It was 10 years ago yesterday that we were married on a lovely day on the beautiful island of St. Thomas.

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Thanks for the most wonderful 10 years of my life – here’s to many, many more happy years together.  I love you!

 
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Happy Thanksgiving – Plus, Even More Card Ideas!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Nov 27, 2008 in Cards, Crafts, Today's Photo

Happy Thanksgiving! 

You know – I’m still not finished posting all of the cards I made for the ‘Shop til You Drop’ event a few weeks ago.  I’m going to just finish posting all the remaining cards today because…well, I’m pretty bored with posting them day after day – and I’d like to move on to something else.  So today, I’ll throw the rest of the cards out there for you…

I think I made over 20 designs with 2 of each card for that event – all made in one weekend.  I could have made my Christmas cards with all that work and have been done by now!  After all that effort, do you think I could actually use THESE as my Christmas cards?  Would anyone even notice a big orange lion on their holiday card…

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Maybe a pinwheel?

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This technique is really cool – the petals are made from folded tab punches!

How about some butterflies?  This started out as a CASE but morphed into something else…

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I love the paper piercing to go along with the ‘journey’ definition.

Let’s see…what else did I make?  This was my make-and-take card (another modified CASE from Stampin’ Success):

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And for this one, I copied was inspired by a color combo I saw in a magazine:

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And I made a few baby cards too:

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C’mon!  Those could pass for Christmas cards…baby Jesus?  Right?  Okay – maybe not.

So here’s another couple of actual Christmas designs sorta CASEd from the Stampin’ Up! Holiday Mini:

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Hmmm…now that time is running out, I may use one of these simple designs for my own card…let’s see if I have any creativity left inside me…

 
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A Few More Cards

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Nov 26, 2008 in Cards, Crafts, Today's Photo

Just a few more cards – these were CASEd almost directly from Stampin’ Success – with a few variations to work with my stamps sets and supplies:

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