Tuesday, December 31, 2013

what a year 2013

click on the image to see slide show

This isn't everything I made this year, not even close, but its a pretty close, and slightly fast...enough to cause a seizure (my husband swears he gets threatened to have one every time he looks at it.)

This year was kind of interesting to look back on. I feel like I've hardly let you in to my world on a personal note. These past two years I've been struggling with the balance  of expressing my opinions on parenting, our struggles and triumphs in daily happenings as an individual, and letting you in behind the scenes of the "brand of V and Co." (which is where we have been led to here today thanks to all these years of blogging and hard work)
So to fix that...we've been in the works over here in creating a new website (as a "professional" part of the V and Co. brand) and then I can keep this as just my personal blog where I continue to show you what I made, show a few how to's and talk freely as a mother trying to look at the funny side of things to make this journey of life more of a laughing "HAha oh my gosh that totally just happened." Instead of "oh my gosh that totally just happened I want to curl up and die." moments.

It's interesting, this whole blogging thing. Here I started as a struggling mom of 4 little ones, with a deployed husband, sewing and praying my way to happiness, and putting EVERYTHING in my heart on this blog. Span 7 years later, what we have is a mom, with a pretty wonderfully boring life of daily struggles, kids in school, husband at work, getting to sew as a job, but guarding, and feeling stressed about putting my heart on the blog because the internet has changed so so rapidly.
It feels to me like there's a lurking debate waiting to happen/explode if you express any kind of...well anything.
I'm not a very confrontational person. And hardly ever (except a few small instances) have I felt confronted on my blog or anywhere on MY social media outlets connected to me personally. But observing as other bloggers (the non professional... and not the professional bloggers hired out by medias that want to stir the pot) I watch on my Facebook feed or other social media sites, become a frenzy and posts that pop up contesting and "in answer to" an original blog post that would have if not for all this chaos created after the post, not even made a blip on the radar, over night watch them get slammed and then slammed a 100 times fold, (and I speak that I've seen it down both sides of the aisle, every single side is guilty of this) I watched and observed as others either jump on to defend or to tear down that person's post... and this became too much for me. So I quietly stayed in my corner these last two years afraid to write anything about anything. It made me cry a lot trying to make myself write on the blog. How Stupid is that?
But how real is this?
Yes, I have my views. 
BUT, I approach every situation and every individuals point of view trying to see it, and make sense of their view as well.  It has made me a very humbled individual, in realizing often times both sides have merit truths to their feelings and opinions. My way isn't the only way. 
I wish others would feel this way when they spew out hate and bile towards someones views.

Is this a post where I come out saying in this coming new year "it's all about to change and I'm going to take my anxiety of social media backlash and tell people to stuff it where the sun don't shine!"?
Uh, No. My life isn't a movie, it's not a tv show, and it's not a book where the end totally turns it around and you feel empowered by the main characters courage.

No, at the end of the day its real life, a real person, with a lot of insecure emotions. I most definitely  do not have "tougher skin". It's much easier to say I'll just pop in here randomly to show you a few pretty pictures of projects I've worked on for someone else's magazine, book, company, or for new patterns. MUCH easier and safer.

I'm still scared to write about us like I used to. To be honest, as I continue to write this I'm having hives/dry mouth/want to make it all better by rocking back and forth in a comforting sort of motion in the corner... contemplating "Is this too much? Are people going to think I'm complaining, or weak, obnoxious? " or even worse "Is THIS going to spark a backlash somehow?"

If you know me in real life you know that this is a daily battle I have with myself. Sometimes its worse than other times.  I am (oh she's going to show that she's a therapist's wife) a White personality, a people pleaser, a smoother of any ruffled feathers kind of person. It pains me to be assertive (for reals) and only become completely assertive stick to my guns when it comes to defending my family and the things I care most about, BUT only when I feel it to be important to correct a misunderstanding. Otherwise I do not feel the need to waste others and my time in arguing. Like I've mentioned before I look at the other persons perspective as well. You would also know that I constantly hide behind my sarcastic trying to put a funny spin on situations. That's who I am. And why I will never try to cause waves, and never try to out right offend. It seems though with the ongoing social media storm, stirring, brewing, lurking, waiting to explode, at some point I will unintentionally offend. And heaven help me all I want to do is make you smile,  feel like you can do that project with me, and to assure you that yes it's normal to feel  that parenting can be the hardest and worst thing in the world, AND be the best most fulfilling, fill your heart and soul with purpose and meaning and happiness kind of deal as well.

I want to just let go, write like I used to, and not be scared.  And you know what? Perhaps now is the time to say "I can". And if I still have panic attack like feelings over it, perhaps looking into starting up drinking...becoming a drunk to let go of my inhibitions and write while intoxicated.... or look into getting some mental health (hey I know a good therapist!) and get pumped up with anxiety meds to the point of making my world into world of puffy pink marshmallow clouds and everyone turns into muppet character might be the way to go. Or I could just take each day as it comes, and slowly work it out while encouraging and telling myself  "Seriously? I'm freaking out over nothing I'm not that controversial, and come on...some funny shiz happens to me. And ps: I'm not that kind of blog."
So...maybe you do get the end of the book turn around as you had hoped for. (all five of you still reading this, hi mom!)

So, yes, watch for the "new website to show up. I don't know when but it's coming. And watch for a few more "hey this is what I'm working on!" and "HEY look WHAT HAPPENED TO ME this weekend." of these kinds of posts as well. When I feel like I can handle it.
I think it's safe to say I'm still struggling to figure out how much to put out there these days and of course the balance of this blog between personal and professional...but, I'll move forward cautiously. It's just who I am.

So for this next year my short phrase of encouragement (no resolutions here) is:
"Be graceful, respectful and learn from what is thrown at you, good and bad." 
Yeah. I think that'll do.
Happy New years from this gal and here's to 2014 with some fun projects and some bumps, up and down, along the way.
Thanks for listening.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Then and Now Christmas

This is my all time favorite picture of my kids. 
It kills me because I don't have a high resolution jpg of it so I can't make it a large print. 
This picture actually brings tears to my eyes just thinking about that time. 
It was taken in 2009 Jake was deployed. We were going through some serious emotional "hell" with our oldest one. But for a moment in these pictures I took we looked normal, with no problems.
 Between Jake being over seas, me being a single parent, and watching my child go from a happy child to...just...not being who he used to be, and watch him struggle socially, physically, and emotionally... well it pretty much about destroyed me. It was the darkest time in my life to date. But, now, looking back at that time, 5 years now, I can honestly say, it didn't break me. I feel like I learned a lot about myself. And it made my oldest child, one resilient, and pretty amazing young man. 

So, this picture brings up a lot of emotions and naturally I wanted to recreate that pose so I could have a better high resolution picture of my favorite picture ever of my children. 

And well...
at first they totally were like: 
All kind of smart mouthing each other to do what I told them because we were all cold and wanted to go inside.
The husband came out and was like "Guys seriously the quicker you comply the quicker this is over. DO.WHAT.YOUR.MOTHER.WANTS.YOU.TO.DO."
okay that's better... but seriously they were totally on the "Stiff" side. Loosen up please!
The husband then says "come on guys, just act natural!"
And I don't have a clue what hand gesture or body movement my husband did when he said that...but what they all did at the same time was this:
Apparently that's acting natural? okay I guess i'll take it. 
In no way shape or form can I get my family to even in a picture pretend that we are a normal happy family. I guess I'll just be very happy that we are a slightly un-normal happy family. Which we are. And even though we are a family that has gone through a few ups and downs...we are very aware of our blessings. Even in the lowest points in our journey, we look at our experiences as blessings given to us to learn from.

The minute I sighed and said "Okay, I think, I got at least one. Guys, I think we're d......
...done. Guys???" 
I turned to the husband and he looks at me and asks "Did you really get one? Or do I need to get them all back out here."
"Yeah, I got it. It's not like the other picture, but it's okay." And then I was grateful for having him here with me. To deal with the boogers we call our children. Who bring us so much happiness, sadness, disappointment and pride. They are hard little things to take care of all the time.  But man I wouldn't change places with anyone. I love my Blessing of Life.
I'm grateful for snapshots of our past. I'm also grateful for our experiences that we leave in the past. They mold us to who we become today. So instead of trying to recreate a picture or an experience, I'm just going to keep moving forward, and be grateful for the wonderful little people they have and continue to become.
They're my special little people. And I love them. And we want to wish you all,  friends and family, a Very Merry Christmas from our very un normal and so far from perfect but trying hard to be a good family.
the Christensons. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Teacher gifts this year

 This year I got my game on with teacher gifts. Each year in the past I've sucked and not done home made anything...because I've been so overwhelmed with all the other projects I have to get done. So instead of failing, I just haven't attempted in years past.

This year I actually started in November the process of making the teacher gifts. The idea was that I could just get it done and out of the way.
Well of course things go south over here whenever I make a plan, so I found myself finishing the teacher gifts I started in November oh like just yesterday. You know, the day before the last day of school before the winter break.
So see? Even though I've been overwhelmed with everything else all I had to do was finish what I started over a month ago...
And that my friends...is me being on top of my game.
I'll take it.
 I used American Janes awesome Pot Luck ruler fabric. And used my Color Block zipper pouch
And even the inside of the pouch is cute with matching brown ruler fabric.
I included inside of each the zipper pouches, hand sanitizer and festive lotion (cause the dry hands you get from trying not to get sick from all the germ infested noisemakers they have to deal with daily) and some candy. (not shown and I promise it wasn't because I ate it)
(ps the other one was an experiment one that I let the kids help sew, didn't turn out as pretty but it was still made into a gift. I figured it has the "my little student helped make it" charm) 
Perhaps, if I start now for next years teacher gifts...I might actually get those done, and HEY, maybe I could even try to make family members something handmade as well. 
But that's just crazy talk. 
Also this last week, I tried to get my kids to take A FREAKING PICTURE for oh, I don't know Christmas cards/kids group shot because we've not had one in at least two years/give to grandparents or whatever...and this is just a snippet of what they dished out to me.
They are boogers.
That is all.
We'll talk soon.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

how to make: Christmas Stockings

Hey so guess what.
My calendar...totally broken. It says that there's only 7 days left till Christmas.
HA...yeah I know. I KNOW. Okay?! Sheesh. Where did the time go?
I guess its okay. I'm not the best winter season person, and this year it's COLD. And snowy and COLD.
So of course lets throw out there a project for you if you want to spruce up your mantle a little bit on the last minute side shall we?
Over at the We All Sew Bernina Blog I give step by step with pictures how to make these stockings. 
I used my ombre stripe from my newest fabric collection "Color me Happy" which wont come out till March, BUT I also include instructions on how to create your own ombre stripe if you want them to look like these featured RIGHT NOW. :)

 Also I'd like to point out that my little Trees kind of match my stockings....and now my pillow...I just bought teal dye so maybe i'll add some more little trees to the colorful forest here soon.
I followed the tutorial online from last year, but since then it's no longer available. So here's the next closest tutorial I just found to give you a link to how to do it. And I kind of like her ombre look...maybe i'll do that next time. Also I've not been successful in finding the little bottle trees with the wood base. So if anyone knows where to get those, please indulge me...but only if it's at a store I can get to. Otherwise, you'll just frustrate me more...and we don't want to frustrate the Vanessa...she gets weepy and sad. Kidding but not really. okay...
 So yeah for now this is what I have on my little forest of bleached and dyed trees...and I'm all kinds of festively coordinating over here now that I've added new stockings and a pillow this year!
Wonder what I'll decide that I need to do next year? I guess we'll see next year, cause this season is almost behind us.

Now if you don't mind me I have to avoid all Christmas treats that keep coming to our door, and continue to finish up my leave to the last minute teacher gifts....but i'm almost done so I'll show you those soon too. 
Hope you are having a less rushed holiday season than I'm experiencing! 
We'll talk soon.
Christmas stockings how to here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

He's 12 and he loves Domo

 My second Noisemaker turns 12 today.
I can't really wrap my head around that but it's true.
The other night I caught all my kids looking at the computer laughing. I asked them what they were looking at and one of them answered "We're reading about the UGLY Christmas tree." And then one of the other ones says "Mom, you need to write more of our stories again."
Man, talk about a slap in the face.
It also has occured to me that I've not written any "right now's" in a couple of years.
If nothing else it gives us a good place to look back through the years and gives us snap shots of the kids each year. So if you don't mind I'm going to do that again.
My kids have grown and matured so much these last two years that I should write about it. And I will. :)

so this said noisemaker that has a birthday today...really likes domo's so of course last minute I tried to attempt to make one.
I had a sick kid home today so we couldn't really venture out and that's when I realized I don't have like any brown fabric! 
Literally this was the only brown fabric I had.
And it's not cotton...it's fake leather sort of fabric.
So it's thick

 I learned a lot trying to make this guy. In the middle of it I had to turn it around just to see how cute he was coming out or even IF he was coming out cute! I turned him inside out after I finished sewing the arms in (and btw KUDOS to my BERNINA for being able to handle 4 layers of thick fake leather as if it ate that many layers for breakfast!)  Anyways, first try I had sewn up the head... but in the middle of thinking about turning it back outside in, I had a "oh crap..." moment of how the heck am I going to get all those body parts out of a tiny little hole?!

So I turned his insides back out on to the outsides and unpicked his head sewed the legs in...and...
He's not perfect, but he's totally going to be a great present!
AND I know what to do differently and I'll try a few other things next time! Oh you know there's going to be a next time. The other kids are going to think I need to make everyone of them one...

 So yes, this guy was a success. And add a cute Domo cake that my neighbor made for us...
 Makes for a Domo-tastic Birthday!
HMMMM... doesn't that look like Domo is trying to eat a Domo cake! NO! Don't do it Domo!!!
okay well here's a few Right Nows for my Domo loving 12 year old:

right now:
*You are in 6th grade, are loving middle school, and have some great friends at church and school.
*You play the cello and LOVE instrumental music like  The Piano Guys and 2Cellos but your absolute fav band at the moment is Imagine Dragons
*You love Domo, the color green, and your favorite home cooked meal is Tacos
*You currently wear glasses and braces. And you don't care that you wear glasses and braces. :)
*You love to read.
*You love to be around friends.
*You are in the LEGO league at school and you love it.
*You are a great babysitter to your younger siblings and a good friend to your older brother.
*You have a quick sense of of wit and can pull off some pretty funny zingers.
*You can sew a really great 1/4" seam.
*You are my go to photographer when I need someone to take a picture of me holding a project.
(and you have an awesome eye for it)
*You love to snowboard, swim, and have been training to run cross country next year.
*You are a very loving son, and brother. You pay attention to others emotions and you act upon them.
* You already have big college goals. BYU is your top choice of school to get into.
*I never have to get on you to do your school work. There's been only a handful of times I've had to have words with you about not getting things done.
*You quietly serve others.

We are very happy with who you are molding yourself to be, we appreciate your witty smart mouth comments and your love of learning.
We are blessed to have you in our family.

ps: and no I don't have a picture of you right now...you may like taking pictures but you hate being in them. Btw start preparing for it cause family pictures are coming. You've been forewarned.

okay NOW, lets go eat some DOMO!

Friday, December 6, 2013

V and Co: lucky stars christmas pillow

Christmas is like right around the corner.
I'm not ready.
But the good news is we have our christmas tree up.
No, unfortunately (and yes quite sad actually) these last two years we've not had any funny stories to tell about picking out a tree and letting the kids decorate it while I learn to "let go and embrace the fugly" tree and it's decor. And sadly we don't have any stories of me thinking a MAMOTH of a tree is what our little home is needing.
This year we have our boring Target fake tree.
And I've changed the smelly wax warmer to "spruce" so we get the fake smells of a real tree.
But don't worry, I still have some stories to tell.
Have you noticed I've been blogging again? *tap tap* Anyone still out there?
Yes, it's been a while, but I feel like I'm slowly emerging and figuring out how to do the whole work AND blogging thing. It's taken me a little bit of time, but thanks for hanging in there.
Anywho...I've been meaning to talk about my Zumba accident.
yes, I had one.
But thats for another day.

Okay, moving on to the matter at hand:

 lucky stars is really becoming one of my all time favorite pattern I've made.
And while I was staring at it I decided i wanted a christmas lucky stars pillow.
 So I made a block from the pattern...and then I made it into a slip cover.
And well, I freaking love it. 

 But honestly, I think i need to make a couple more, because as cute as it looks in my arm chair in my living room...the rest of the couches kind of need a few of these throw pillows as well.

So maybe I'll have a little bit of time before Christmas actually gets here to make a couple more...or maybe I should like focus on doing some of my Christmas shopping.
What's more important here? Thats right decorating.
We'll talk soon.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

V and Co: baby girl gift: ombre doily onsie and matching quilt

 First off thank you for your wonderful support to the cyber sale we had in our little shop. Those who said they didn't mind waiting for the next shipment of our thread will not have to wait too long. I got word its already on its way. YAY! So hold tight its coming!
I have a friend having a baby.
So of course something handmade was to be made for her and her little girl coming soon.
It's been super gloomy here in my little corner of the world. It definitely makes me want to curl up under a quilt and read books or watch reruns of my favorite TV shows. And as much as I would love to do that all day long my judgy cat would probably give me a ton of crap and would remind me I have quite a bit on my plate these days and I can't waste my "work hours" during the time the kids are in school. She's kind of bossy, but I guess I need her to keep me in line.
 Anyways, I digress...I made this little onsie kind of like I made these ombre appliqu├ęd  onsies.

you can read more about dying here.

and doing ombre dying here

This time around I wanted to do the doily ombre so that it could match the quilt I was planning on giving her:
 This doily quilt can be found in my book Make It Sew Modern: Gather, Twist, Pleat, Texture

I chose the same beige doily (found at joann's) as the starting point so that it would match the neutrals of the quilt I was giving her.
I think with bare little legs (for when baby is inside) or bundled up with a jacket and little leggings, this little onsie will be totally adorable.
And I also hope the mom likes it as much as I liked making it and giving it to them.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, December 2, 2013

cyber monday sale :)

 Hello there! hope your Thanksgiving was as yummy and fun as you wanted! Here's V and Co's contribution to cyber monday!

 30% off the whole store.
Yes, that includes ALL paper patterns, PDFs, AND THREAD! (while supplies last on the thread SOLD OUT but I have reordered so if you don't mind waiting on the next shipment I will grant the price)

Just enter CYBER30 in the discount area when you check out and it will adjust the amount for you!
talk to you soon. :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

around here

So it totally snowed and snowed yesterday. Made me a little grumpy. So to kind of cheer me up I started working on teacher Christmas gifts.
Sort of worked.
 Oh I have learned over the years to tolerate winter. Trust me. But with snow comes days filled of shoveling. And while I no longer am JUST shoveling like years past it's still a hard on you chore. And yes, because I'm totally lazy and keep the makeup on that I wore the night before I do in fact look like a cross between these two:
Mind you the hair is spot on. Well, a little shorter and larger...but you get the gist. 
Last year we bought a snowblower. We're true Iowans now. (Perhaps a few steps closer?) 
But lets be honest...that snowblower thing? Its more of a pain in my rear to maneuver than me just shoveling. Yet the husband insists its a faster solution especially since he's not here all day long to take care of the issue. 

But really that's not a bad thing. Seriously who really wants to see me in that state anyways? No one is home but the cat and the dog and while the cat mocks me with looks of "Are you going to stay looking that? You know you look like Alice Cooper right?" I normally just look at her and say "Shut up, don't judge me." But clearly she's judging. It's all good, I got back at her by putting a flowery looking collar on her. 
She hates it. And actually it's made her more judgy. now that I think about it.
And I tell her so.
And then I realize I'm talking to the cat. 
And then I tell myself "It's better than talking to yourself."
"Wait does that count as talking to myself?"
"Shoot! there I go again."
And then I look at the cat and tell her "QUIT JUDGING ME."
She just comes back with "You gonna put a pair of normal pants on or are you going to call those sweatpants you wore to bed your outfit today?"

on going cycle of crazy.
And a cat that's going to make me go to therapy with her abuse.
 Tomorrow will be spent yelling kindly but forcefully telling the kids to clean up their rooms while mom makes her pies, mashed potatoes and whatever else I can get done the day before Thanksgiving.
And yes, thank you for remembering our fiasco last year with the dog and the apple pie. In fact every time we mention thanksgiving, apple pie, or even apples...its like clockwork, someone in the family starts with adding salt to the wound by bringing it up with "Hey remember that one time when Buck totally DESTROYED mom?! I mean destroyed the PIE mom made?"
Good times.
Now I feel like going and double fisting chocolate.

 Thanksgiving is in fact been my favorite holiday of the year.
All that gratitude and stuff...but really...
I really love pumpkin pie.
I think that's the only reason I love thanksgiving so much.
And that gratitude stuff and family togetherness as well.
But mainly its about the pumpkin pie.

 This is also the holiday season that these lovelies show up. I'm not the only one that looooooooves these clementines either.
My kids go into "Hunger Game" mode when these show up and I can't seem to keep them around for more than a nano second. Only reason why theres an actual picture of these here, is because I just bought them and the kids aren't home yet.
I've already had like 5 of them.
I guess it's better than us all fighting over and going through that many Big Macs this season. (see gratitude stuff)
fabric by Robert Kaufman pattern Lucky Stars
Also with Thanksgiving being so late this year...it's kind of thrown me in for a loop. It's cool though,
cause I may not have hardly any of my shopping done...but I've got the start of my lucky stars christmas pillows already done.

You ready? 
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