Maybe Matilda: December 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 10 posts of 2011

I am nothing if not a follower (just like my hero, Liz Lemon, with her Followship Award—and is there seriously not a video clip of that moment anywhere online? Come on, internet!), and I’ve really liked seeing all the Top 10 Posts of the year from so many blogs—it’s a nice little recap for lazy people like me who only read the posts with interesting titles, and therefore miss a lot of the action. So, based on post page views, here are my 10 most popular (ha!) posts from 2011:

#10 Ruffles and Dots Baby Blanket FAQ

I guess a lot of people had questions about how to make this lovely little baby blanket, so I’m glad this post, where I answered some questions I’ve received about the blanket, was helpful!

#9 Crochet Along Cowl Link-Up

It really was fun to see everyone’s finished cowls from the crochet along this fall, wasn’t it? I loved seeing all the different looks that came from a single, simple pattern. But I’m sure a good amount of the page views on this post were from participants sending their friends over to vote for their cowl.

#8 How to Read a Crochet Pattern

Well, I hope you know how to do it now!  I was kind of surprised this post was in my top 10 . . .

#7 Pleated Necktie Necklace

This is a super cool necklace, isn’t it? But here’s a secret: I’ve actually never worn mine out of the house. I love it, but it feels a little too bold for me.  I’ll make a New Year’s Resolution to wear it more. Then I’ll forget about it, as well as all other resolutions, 2 weeks from tomorrow.

#6 Ruffles and Dots Crochet Baby Blanket

I just LOVE this baby blanket. Next to Forrest’s blanket, this one is my favorite crochet blanket to make. It’s just so simple and sweet—I’m not surprised to see it has some fans!

#5 Knotted Crochet Headband

I would consider this to be my first “real” blog post. Before this one, I had only posted the very occasional picture of something I’d made to put in my shop (I hadn’t intended this blog to actually be anything when I started—I just wanted to snag the domain name to go along with my etsy shop). This crochet project is easy, cute, and fast . . . win win win.

#4 Floral Love Tee

I wore this shirt probably 3 times a week over the summer. It’s stained almost beyond recognition, but that sure didn’t stop me from continuing to wear it as if it were the only top I owned.

#3 Learn to Chain and Single Crochet

This one surprised me . . . a lot. Come on, people. Out of everything I’ve sewn and crocheted and painted and photographed, all you want from me is to learn to make a chain? Someone must have featured this post and not told me about it, because I can’t figure out why else it would be my third most-viewed post this year.

#2 McIntosh Knockoff Dress

This is another one that got way too much wear over the summer—I really love wearing these simple, comfy dresses. Plus they’re easy and quick to make!

#1 Homemade Sugar Scrub in Decorated Jars

Holy freaking moly, this post has like 500 million more views than anything else on my blog. It was shared on Tip Junkie, and if I check what’s been pinned from my site, it’s nothing.but.the.stupid.sugar.scrub. I find it sort of amusing that this is by far my most popular post, because I consider myself a crocheter and sewer, and this project has nothing to do with either. I came up with that sugar scrub recipe because every other recipe I found required all sorts of funky, specialty ingredients, and I just wanted to use things I already had in my cupboard. I guess a lot of other people were looking for the same thing!

Well, it’s been a fun year of blogging. I like it around here, and I really appreciate you reading and commenting and motivating me to keep creating and sharing with you. So thanks for your support and readingness (real word, trust me), and I’ll see you next year (don’t you HATE it when people say that?).

Friday, December 30, 2011

Little Boy Quiet Book

Sundays in the Brown household are kind of—what’s the word I’m looking for?—torturous. That may be slightly overdramatic, but not by much. We start off the day by skipping Forrest’s first nap (he still takes two) to head to church, so right off the bat, he’s already grumpy. Toss in an hour of forced silence and lap-sitting and it is not a very fun experience.

Hopefully Sundays will go a little more smoothly from now on—my mom made Forrest the most adorable little quiet book for Christmas! I’ve thought about making one for him, but it just seemed like so much work. And, my mom informs me, it really was a ton of work. She made this one for Forrest as well as a girly version for my niece (which you can see here), and she spent weeks working on them. I think it was worth it—look how cute this book is:

DSC_0531 It buttons closed so he won’t lose all the teensy pieces, and he loves carrying it around by the handles.

The robot’s arms and legs have elastic inside so he can pull them out and let them snap back into place . . . isn’t he cute?DSC_0532 The mailbox (whose flag goes up and down, by the way) contains letters written to Forrest from both sets of grandparents, his mom and dad, and his beloved aunt Bekah (who, I am convinced, he loves more than me), and the writing page has a spot to hold a crayon and a pocket for his little notebook.DSC_0534 DSC_0535 Clearly, this page was too fun to resist—the barn holds 4 little finger puppet animals, and the kite’s puzzle pieces attach with velcro so they can be pulled off and rearranged.DSC_0533 This page is my favorite—a little car fits inside the garage and can be pulled out and zoomed around the streets. Plus, all the street signs attach with velcro and can be switched around as he learns what they mean.DSC_0536 The flower petals are also attached with velcro, so when he learns numbers he can pull them off and place them back in order. And another too-fun-to-keep-his-hands-off page . . . the toolbox also has a hammer, a screwdriver, and a saw; not pictured because they were taken to bed for naptime. Sweet dreams to Forrest in his crib right now, cuddling his hammer and  saw.DSC_0538 The last page is a tree that changes with the seasons—there are pink flowers to place on the tree in spring, these autumn leaves, and bright green leaves for summertime (which can all be stored in the grass pocket at the bottom of the tree). Plus a handy pocket on the inside back cover to catch any stray pieces.DSC_0537 Isn’t it cute? Sundays should be a little more pleasant now. If not for Forrest, at least for me—I plan to take advantage of his fun new quiet book at church, even if he doesn’t.

To see the girl version of this book with fun girly pages, check out my mom’s Bungalow Boutique blog here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas and a Baby Quilt

I hope you all appreciated the lack of a Merry Christmas! post here over the weekend. When I noticed that my Google Reader had over 200 new items, all with some variation of the title “Merry Christmas from the ________ Family!” I decided to refrain. You can only read so many Christmas posts, right?

I do, however, have a plethora of pictures that you probably won’t actually care to see. I’ll limit myself to just a few; feel free to skip them and leave me a “He’s adorable!” comment instead. (I bask in those comments.) First up, we have my attempt to get a picture with Forrest in front of the Christmas tree without his precious new toy telephone:

christmas picture I think that’ll be our Christmas photo montage for next year’s card. I almost wish it had been a video instead of photos so you could hear the dialogue . . . me in my super-high “everything’s  cool!” voice saying, “Forrest! Picture time! Woohoo! No more phone! Put down the phone! This is fun! Stop crying! WE’RE HAVING FUN!” almost drowned out by his whining and shouting and staunch refusal to loosen his little vice grip on the phone. I finally gave up, and good thing, too, because we did manage to get a few cute pictures together. With the phone, of course. It is an important member of this family already.DSC_0584-1 We had a lot of fun with my parents and siblings—Forrest is head over heels in love with Grandma and Papa, a love that was only reinforced when one of their gifts to him was . . . a cell phone. Notice that Papa is the one playing with the toy cell phone, and Forrest has claimed a real one. May this go down in history as The Year of the Phone.DSC_0599 And I’d like to thank Michelle of Decor and the Dog for introducing me to the Forever Lazy, which we got my brother for Christmas. I purposely did not ask his permission to post this picture, because I can’t imagine I’d get a “sure, go for it,” so just don’t tell him. Besides, everyone knows that covering up the eyes means you can’t tell who is in the picture.

DSC_0606-1I received a lot of great gifts this year (including some spectacular homemade ones that I’m excited to post about), but one gift in particular really stands out.

DSC_0595-1I COULD WEEP WITH JOY. My parents got me a Bernina. A BERNINA!!! (Here’s the best part: it was my dad’s idea. How about that!) I took it for a test run on Monday . . . this thing is incredible. Absolutely incredible. There is no clunking or grinding or whirring when I sew. It does not randomly choke or cough or spew out a wad of tangled thread. The stitches are perfectly straight, instead of each being tilted to the side, making a “straight” line look more like a lightning bolt. LIKE SOME OTHER MACHINES I USED TO KNOW. Welcome to the family, baby. I’ll love you forever.

Now that I’m saying a not-so-fond goodbye to my horrible, horrible old machine (I like to call it The Machine Who Must Not Be Named), I’d like to show you the last thing I ever sewed on it. This project, which should have taken a few hours to make, sucked up a few weeks of my life between working up the courage to break out my awful old sewing machine, picking out messed up stitches, working on my self-control to hold myself back from physically harming it, and, finally, finishing the project. Despite the awful machine, I think it came out pretty cute.

DSC_0535 A new little nephew will be making his debut this Friday, so my mom and I  worked together to  make him a quilt. It’s the first quilt I’ve made in almost a year and a half, which says something about how much I despised my old sewing machine. I had almost forgotten how much I love sewing and quilting.

The quilt is a disappearing nine patch, inspired by this one from Cluck Cluck Sew (a blog I am a huge fan of, by the way . . . her fabric and color choices are so inspiring to this neutral-loving, color-fearing girl). My sister-in-law said that she preferred fabrics and colors that didn’t look too baby-ish . . . she wanted it to look a little more grown-up, with greens and deep blues and some gray tossed in to give it a more modern look.

DSC_0540 Hopefully we gave her the look she was aiming for! This was a really fun, easy quilt to put together, made even easier by our decision to do straight line quilting instead of my personal favorite, free motion quilting, which we thought would have looked awfully busy on this style.

DSC_0537 (You know what really adds a touch of class to photographs? A trampoline in the background.)

The little fellow also received the crochet edged receiving blanket I posted about here, as well as a little owl hat that I hope will make its way into his newborn photo shoot. I was setting up the blanket and hat to take some pictures when a little helper stopped by and offered to model it for me (and by “offered to model” I mean “snatched the hat and jammed it onto his humongous head”).

DSC_0531 I think it’s just a tad small for his gigantic 1 1/2-year old noggin. But hopefully it’ll fit just right on a sweet newborn.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last-Minute DIY Christmas Gifts with Newly Woodwards

 Today is the final day of our little Handmade Holidays series--my goal with this series of posts was to share favorite meaningful gifts (both given and received), simple ideas for easy-to-make gifts you could create for someone you care about (even at the last minute!), and hopefully get you excited to make something of your own. Did it work? Have you made any handmade gifts this year? I'd love to hear about it in the comments (and I'm excited to show you a few things I've made to give this Christmas)!

Our final guest is Kim from Newly Woodwards--I've been following her blog for quite a long time. If I remember right, I think she found me on craigslist, where I'd put up an ad for some of my hats back in Iowa (is that right, Kim?) and I've loved reading her adventures ever since. She and her husband are master home renovators and always seem to have a great makeover or decor project in the works, and Kim sews and quilts and upcycles clothing and cooks delicious goodies (try her Happy Joe's-Inspired Taco  Pizza. You will love it. Guaranteed. If you don't, I will come to your house and eat it for you.). Plus she's just plain fun and lovable, and is a great taste of the good ol' Midwest!
Hello, Maybe Matlida-ers! I'm Kim from NewlyWoodwards, and I'm thrilled to be here right before Christmas. Thanks so much to Rachel for having me!

Like many of you, I love to give handmade gifts for the holidays. I pin and bookmark ideas all year long in the hopes of finding the very best gifts for my family and friends.

And then, in spite of all my best-laid plans, I don't make half the gifts I hope to. Time always gets away from me. Can I get an amen?

So, I've begun to embrace the fact that I do better with smaller projects as gifts. They are much more manageable for my schedule and also allow me to enjoy the process, instead of stressing about it. I'm much more likely to finish handmade gifts that don't take more than a day or weekend (or even a few hours). So, here are some of my own favorite (quickie) handmade gifts that I've given over the years, including the favorites of my friends and family.

I've also shared a few gifts from this year at NewlyWoodwards this week. (Including upcycled wool mittens, which may be my favorite new gift to give.)

I hope you are able to find a project or two that you could try. And, if you think it's too close to the holiday to begin, I'll tell you a secret. Nearly every gift I gave this year was started and finished within 24 hours of the gift exchange. ;) So, grab your supplies and get to making. (And I won't judge you if you give up laundry to make these gifts. It's a perfectly acceptable swap.)

Thanks again for having me, Rachel! And Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Infinity Scarves and Homebaked Goodies with Sweet Verbena

I just love Katy of Sweet Verbena. She has such unique, creative sewing ideas and always puts such an original spin on projects. If I wasn't so horribly, horribly awkward in person, and bound to creep people out when meeting for the first time, I'd want to hang out with her and have a sewing playdate. The coolest thing about Katy, I think, is that she's a student and still puts aside time for sewing and baking and crafts--isn't that neat? I believe I spent all my college time being a nerd and trying to flirt unawkwardly (keyword: trying). Anyway, enjoy her handmade gifts she created for friends and family (I wish I was on her gift list!) and tasty-looking treat ideas!


Why hello there. I'm so happy to be guest posting here at Maybe Matilda today! Rachel was one of the first to reach out to me when I first started blogging and besides that she is just plain awesome. She always has me cracking up with her witty posts and she has the best ideas! 

I blog over at Sweet Verbena, where I mostly share my passion for sewing. I'm a junior at Texas A&M University studying education. Christmas shopping on a college student's budget is no easy task. This year I finally feel confident enough in my sewing ability to hand make gifts for some of the people on my list. 

My easy, go-to for the ladies on my list is a Single Loop Infinity scarf (check out my tutorial here). I really enjoyed picking out the fabric with a friend in mind. This one is for my boyfriend's Mom who loves butterflies. 

I even lined it with micro-fiber fleece so that it will be extra cozy and warm!

This one is a soft flannel paired with silky, magenta voile. 

Last, a perfect plaid with my Mom in mind. 

I cranked these out assembly-line style and had 4 gifts good-to-go in no time!

But maybe you're not a sewer or you can't seem to think what  to make for anyone. So try wrapping up some home-baked goodies. I've found that those who don't usually bake themselves really appreciate this gift. 

These thumbprint jam cookies are among my favorite Christmas cookie recipes. Find the recipe here.

Chocolate dipped pretzels are a bit of a chore to make, but such a treat! I love salty/sweet combos. (Here's a tip: If your chocolate is too thick, thin it out with a spoonful of Crisco. It thins it right up and doesn't leave a funny taste.)

Holy moly these are good! Peppermint Oreo truffles are like little drops of heaven! I found the recipe here.

Now just wrap 'em up!

Hooray for being almost done with Christmas "shopping" without even leaving your home! 

Thank you Rachel for having me. It's been such a pleasure (:

$20 Sephora Gift Card

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gift Card Weekend for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Do you remember a few weeks back when I wrote about my normal makeup routine (codeword lazyface), and how I'm trying to put in a little more effort to look a little nicer and feel a little better? I've been doing my new and improved makeup routine probably 4 days a week since then, and I have to say, it feels good. It's nice to feel pretty on a regular basis instead of feeling like a frumpy pajama-clad mom all the time.

Anyway, one of the stores my makeup-pro sister took me to during our hunt for new makeup was Sephora, where the makeup was incredible but I was far too cheap to buy anything. Since a little part of me has still been pining for the makeup I tried out at Sephora but couldn't afford, I thought I'd pass along this Sephora giveaway info in case you, too, are a cheapskate who still wishes for lovely makeup.


'Gilbert the Gift Card Machine' on Facebook is giving away more than 100 gift cards a week--there are daily giveaways!--leading up to Gift Card Weekend. And right now (from Dec. 19-23), they're giving away a $20 Sephora gift card, which I would certainly not mind winning. All you do to enter is like Gift Card Weekend on Facebook. And if you share it with your facebook friends, you can receive an extra chance to win for every 'like' you influence. Even if you don't win the Sephora giveaway, there are more giveaways all month long.

Gift Card Weekend is a once-a-year event where participating retail partners give featured offers for gift cards purchased during the Holiday season and redeemed from January 6 - January 8, 2012.

So, if you're planning to give gift cards for Christmas this year, increase the value of your gift by purchasing gift cards from participating retail partners, like:
-Regal Cinema
-Bass Pro Shops
-Buca di Beppo
-Spa Finder
-Giant Eagle

These featured offers will be available to your gift recipient for redemption during Gift Card Weekend, January 6 - January 8, 2012.

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