Tips for Better Applique · Wool appliqué

What do you do when you come to the end of blanket stitching?

This is a blog post for folks who are so new to blanket stitching by hand that they aren’t quite sure how they should tie a knot in their thread. Go ahead and admit it, I won’t tell. You’re in beginnerville babay. 

I remember when I was taking my first stitches at hand blanket stitching. Uncertainties were everywhere.

How do I tie my starting knot, is there a right way? How do I start stitching, where do I start, do I just stick my needle in anywhere?  Oh grasshopper, I have so much to teach you.

tell ya what. I learn better by watching and thought you might too. I am sitting on y front porch is afternoon while the kids are napping and I thought “I should video myself as I start and end my blanket stitching.  So that’s just what I did.

I stepped into the house, grabbed my iPad, propped it up and hit record. Here is my totally unscripted (uh, obviously) video of how to finish when you come to the end of blanket stitching.  Click here for the first saga on “how to begin blanket stitching” to see how I begin by taking that first stitch.  Those first and last stitches are where I had the most questions and I bet you do too, so grab some popcorn and watch the flicks.

and please leave me a comment.  And if ya like the video or found it helpful please please rate it. That will help others find it too.

if you think it stinks, um well, maybe don’t rate it.  But do tell me because I don’t want to put out crappy videos.

And thanks for peeking in.

Just Fun · My Babes

My kids needed a sticker book

I’m a child of the 80’s.  Does anyone else remember sticker books?

Oh my, the amount of my hard earned money I spent on stickers from the local Hallmark store in the mall.  That store called to me when I stepped into the mall . . . . . “Julie, I’m over here . . . . I have a whole sticker section just waiting for you”.  They had puffy stickers!  Yeah, imagine that. And sparkly ones too.  Ooh, ooh, and there were scratch and sniff ones.  Ahhh.  The occasional teddy bear with soft fuzzy parts on it, like a real teddy bear.  All on rolls and I swear they were like a buck a piece.  I don’t recall how much they were for sure, but I recall them being expensive by a 10 year old’s standards.  I didn’t give up my for just any ole sticker either.  I’d ponder, hem haw and ponder some more over which sticker was going to be worthy of my 50cents that day.

Here I am, 40’ish with 2 little boys.  They love stickers too.  And we have tons of them on sheets that we pick up from the prize department at any array of kids games and birthday parties.

They love to “stick” them.  But where to?  To the fridge – yeah try scrapping those off of a stainless steel fridge – good times I tell ya, good times.

Yeah, the problem is, they don’t have this fancy shmancy “sticker book” (aka a photo album with a puppy on the cover) that I once had.  So, I got to thinking, “I need to find them a place to stick it”.  Call me cheap, but I wasn’t about to go out and buy them a puppy photo album for their stickers, however I am a creative kind of gal so I drummed up an idea.

I would design and publish them their very own personalized sticker book!

What a genius idea! Damn I’m good.

So, while they were napping the other day, I snuck into my office, grabbed a piece of artwork they had created, scanned it into the puter (my nickname for my computer – not to be confused with seldom seen body parts), added some text to the front, some Mommy words of widsom to the bottom of each page and whallah!

Front cover can be personalized with name and title
back cover personalized text: “Created by Mom on June 17, 2017. So you would have a fun cool place to put all of your super cool stickers.”

This shows the cover (left) and back cover (right) It is 8.5 x 11, with about 6 pages inside to fill up with stickers.  And each page at the bottom has a little note such as: I love you, be kind to others, etc.

Yeah, too cute eh?

And then I wondered if other parents are looking for something like this.  And if so, I would be more than happy to personalize and publish one for their little sticker monsters too.

My stainless fridge thanks me, my end tables are thanking me, my kids bedroom furniture is thanking me.

Would you like to get this sticker book for your kids?

Just $14.99, includes personalized cover, and shipping.  Yeah – what a deal!  And your furniture will be thanking you too!

Order by contacting me at:  julie@patchabilities.com or call:  563-568-5352

OR, take this cute idea and make and print your own.

Ahhh, I can hear your fridge sighing with relief already.

Tips for Better Applique

You Can’t Machine Blanket Stitch Wool? . . . . or Can You?

Why don’t we think about machine stitching on wool?

A while back, I had 24 wool models to whip up before Quilt Market and I had, well let’s just say I was pressed for time. . . . and that is an understatement.

So, I began thinking “how can I speed up the applique stitching process?” Because unless I were to magically clone myself or find a few hard-core appliquers such as myself, I had to figure out a shortcut.

It seemed impossible.  I, being an optimist know that it’s only “impossible” until someone does it.

I began a somewhat frantic internet search for “machine wool applique”.  My search turned up a few videos of people actually using their sewing machine to blanket stitch wool, but they also seemed to be telling me that they had more secrets or tips up their sleeve and they weren’t including these obviously highly valuable tips in this particular “free” video.  Ugh.  That disgusts me, I gotta tell ya.

So, I turned off the damn computer, turned around and dove into the unknown realm of “machine applique on wool”.  Can you hear Twighlight Zone music?

Dig in and give it a go. That’s how I approach a challenge.  Dig in.  What’s the worst that will happen . . . . that it won’t work?  What’s the best that could happen . . . . that I discover a faster method to get my models completed?   YAY – I like the sound of this!

I dug in.  And now, for the low low fee of FREE! (pooh on you, stupid sales funnels) I’m going to give you a list of all the materials and things I considered as I dove in:

  1. Thread? I can’t run the No.12 pearle cotton (used when hand stitching on wool) thru my sewing machine (it’s too thick), so what do I use? I typically used 50wt cotton thread (various colors) to machine blanket stitch all my cotton models, but I want the stitching on the wool to look as close to “hand stitched” as possible, so I needed to use a thread weight that fell somewhere between the 50wt and the No. 12 pearle cotton. For all of my wool projects, I use Valdani No.12 pearle cotton in variegated colors. Here’s a picture of the colors I most often use. The colors look a bit bright here, but trust me, the red is red and the rest of the colors are not as bright as they appear here.
    Patch Abilities Essentials #1 collection includes 12 most often used variegated colors in Valdani 100% COLORFAST No.12 pearle cotton. Get them here.

    It’s a pearle cotton collection called: Patch Abilities Inc Essentials Collection (click to purchase). These colors are perfect but can I get them in a machine weight thread?  So I called my good gals at Valdani and inquired.  GREAT NEWS!  Nearly all of the colors in my Essentials collection come in a 35wt machine thread.  YAHOO!

    Essentials #1 collection in 35wt machine thread. Woo Hoo!! this thread rocks!

    I was ecstatic. I could see a glimmer of light at the end of my tunnel.  I ordered a set of the colors in 35wt and impatiently waited for them to arrive from Canada.  It only took a few days, thankfully. When the package arrived I looked like a kid at Christmas tearing open the package, unpacking the threads and put them to use immediately on my sewing machine. . . . . . . . . . . . are you on the edge of your seat? Read on my friend, to see if it worked.

  2. Sewing machine settings like tension .. . . . did I need to adjust these? No, not for me and my machine which is a Viking 500 Computer.  Some of those videos I watched said they had to adjust the tension of their machines but never did say to what, so I just started stitching to test the water.  I do not adjust my tension.  Your machine may run differently, so check in your owner’s manual (if you still have it), or just dig in and give it a go.  If your bobbin thread shows on the top side or if your stitches pull down into the wool too far, then you’ll need to play with the tension.  Don’t ask me more details than that as your machine is not the same as mine . . .. and I just plain don’t know. HA.
  3. Bobbin thread? Can I use any thread in the bobbin if I’m using a heavier thread on the top? Um, this again is best answered by you digging in and see what it looks like.  For me, I started out thinking I should have the same weight of thread in the top and bobbin.  I stitched nearly all my models this way.  Then yesterday, I was machine blanket stitching on wool and forgot to change the bobbin to some of the 35wt thread . . . . . and the stitching looks the same.  Huh?  Who’da thunk.  So, again my answer to you is “dig in and give it a go”.  I’m channeling Richard Branson a bit on this advice, but it’s the best advice.
  4. Stitch settings? This is where I make adjustments.  Widen my stitching to nearly double of what I use on cotton.  For instance, if I would set the width (cross over stitch) at 2, I’ll widen it to 3.5 or 4.  Stitch length (the straight part of the stitch) I lengthen by 1 or 2 increments.  If I stitch cotton at a length of 2, I’ll lengthen it to a 3 or 3.5 for wool.  My goal is to make my machine blanket stitch look as organic as I can.  Machine blanket stitching on wool WILL NOT look just like hand stitching, but I have found I can get close.
  5. Corners and points? I have succumb to sacrificing the hand stitched look when it comes to the corners and points because you have limited control over stitch placement with the machine. I can, however, manually adjust the needle position and direction of the crossover stitch a bit. When I’m hand stitching I put a diagonal stitch at the corners and points, so I do this on the machine too by taking my time and making manual adjustments where needed.

That about sums it up on the points I considered when I dove in to machine appliqueing my wool.  Here is a small list of pros and cons to hand stitching vs. machine stitching wool applique.

just the star is stitched here
after I’ve machine blanket stitched the star and circle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought I’d show you some of the actual machine stitched wool blocks.

These little blocks are a new design I’m working on. I machine stitched these little cuties yesterday which took me a total of approximately 30 minutes.

Pros to machine stitching wool

  • Speed.
  • Save time.
  • Uniform stitches – I didn’t think about this one until just now, but I know that getting uniform stitching by hand is a pain point with lots of you.
  • Speed – it’s so dang nice I had to say it twice

Cons to machine stitching wool

  • Stitching does not look hand stitched or organic – it’s close, but it’s not the same
  • Limited control over stitch placement
  • Stitches sink down into wool more than they would if hand stitching
  • Too uniform of stitches (again, pertains to not having an organic look)

So . . . . that’s what I learned about machine blanket stitching on wool.  It works!  You have to be willing to sacrifice the hand stitched look for speed, but it works.

For the love of Pete, I am stumped as to why machine stitching on wool is not a usual option that we think of . . . .  perhaps I’m a trail blazer.

Do you have any experience with machine appliqueing on wool?  I’d love to hear your comments.  And I’d especially love to hear what drives you crazy about wool.  Are you afraid to try a wool project – – tell me why?

I just love to hear what keeps you from digging in.  Please tell me, maybe I can help.

Lessons Learned in Business

Why am I so inconsistent . . . . always?

I think about this question a lot.  “Why am I so inconsistent?”  Unless you count being consistently inconsistent, that is.

This question arose in me again today as a result of a diet/lifestyle change I recently bought into.  I was watching podcasts on women entrepreneurs, to surround myself with successful people (i.e. one’s tribe) and an inspiring interview came on with Natalie Jill.  She told of her rise from overweight single mom, deeply in debt, no money to put gas in her car, to 6-pack abs, new hot hubby, 7 figure income, I’ve got life by the tail journey.  It’s inspiring like I said. One of her keys to success is helping people change their diet for the better.

My current story is similar  . . . . minus the 6 pack abs and 7 figure income . . . . I’ve kind of got a hot hubby when he gets around to getting a hair cut and shave.  My dilemma is this stupid “pooch” which has formed on my lower tummy, shortly after having 2 babies and reaching 40.  And this stupid “pooch” will not go away, no matter what.  I have decided I will not chalk it up to “what happens when you get older”, and I will not simply accept “the pooch”.  I felt so inspired that if Miss Natalie could lose the baby bulge at 40, then surely I could at 45.  Right?  I mean, it’s not like I want to transform myself into a 6-pack ab sportin’ hot momma, I just want this stupid “pooch” to GO AWAY!  (I get a little worked up about it, sorry for yelling)  So I decided to give ole “Natalie Jill’s 7-day Jump Start a shot, which was so conveniently easy with one click of the mouse and a mere $27 out of my pocket.  A cheap investment in my “pooch” I thought.

And . . . . here I am on day 3.  I’ve followed her meal suggestions (for the most part) and on days 1 & 2, I felt confident that I could do this and make a long term dietary change that would include much more veggies, lettuce, kale, spinach, fish and chicken, just to name a few.  Her meal suggestions are mostly realistic – quite a bit different from my current meals, but mostly realistic.  I ate a hunk of fish or chicken at lunch with a big salad and guess what?  By day 3, I feel like I’ve eaten 10 pounds of meat and way too much lettuce/spinach.  Needless to say, I was beginning to tip . . . . . over and fall off the wagon.

Then, as I was stitching this morning, I turned on Ted Talks from You Tube and listened to fantastic speakers about “mindset”.  And one that stuck out to me (I watched it 3 times) was how “mindset” is life changing. In fact, one speaker presented research conducted on how mindset alone can change one’s physical body, without increasing excercise or changing diet.  Hmm.  I’m intrigued.  In particular, what stuck to me like glue was that we all have a “hunger hormone” that is secreted/increases when we need food, telling our brains to find food.  Once we find food and begin eating, that hormone level decreases to tell our brains to stop eating, and then our metabolism kicks in to begin burning all the food/fuel we’ve just consumed.  Our metabolism is directly related to the levels of our hunger hormone, so if the hunger hormone is high, our metabolism is low, and likewise if our hunger hormone levels are low (we’ve eaten a great meal) then our metabolism kicks it up a notch (is high).  The kicker, was that folks that were given a “healthy” milkshake (0 fat, 60 calories, yada yada), versus a “delightful indulgence” milkshake (50g fat, 300 calories, etc) would secrete MORE hunger hormone (i.e slower metabolism) after consuming the healthy shake. The folks that got the yummy scrummy milkshake had much LESS hunger hormone (i.e. much higher metabolism).  Both milkshakes were the exact same!  The ones that thought they were drinking a yummy scrummy loaded milkshake, well their metabolisms were rockin and the ones drinking the healthy shakes were doggin it.  Hmmm, really intrigued now.

After this, it was time for lunch.  And after learning about mindset, I decided that it’s not realistic of me to think I’m going to eat a piece of fish and a salad for lunch and my metabolism will kick it up a notch and help me burn off this “pooch”.  Hell no!  What that Ted Talk on mindset showed me is that I can eat a yummy lunch which I enjoy and I’ll get more out of it, than I would out of my fish ‘n salad lunch.  I felt a bit deprived on fish/salad, so my metabolism would follow suit.

As I sat on the porch eating my bologna, ham, pepperoni, cheese, lettuce w/plenty of mayo sub sandwich with a lovely handful of Cheetos, I got to thinking about how I am inconsistent at so many things.

I enjoyed my lunch today, I mean really enjoyed it.  My fish/chicken lunches had been tasty, but not “oh yum”.

I’m inconsistent and that is okay. And now I know I can simply mentally envision my pooch shrinking and by the power of my subconscious brain it will magically begin to do so.  Yay! I love magic.

I’m consistent on the things that matter; loving my little boys, giving to others, being thankful, telling those that matter how much i love them.  And I’m inconsistent on all of the rest, including my work – – which is a whole other blog post – ha!.

I’m good with that.

 

My Favorites for the Season

I Know Spring is Here When . . . . .

Happy Spring!

Does it look like spring where you live? Around here, the first signs are beginning to reveal themselves.

After a long cold winter I routinely pace the stepping stones each day, along my flower beds to catch the very first signs of “green”. Anything that shows “green” gets me so excited that I squeal with delight, and loud enough for my little boys to hear me so that they too will run over to see what Mom is squealing about. They are 3 and 5 this spring, and I’ve implanted this giddiness for the first signs of spring into them as well. And to hear 2 little boys squealing about flower, pointing them out to me, is pure joy.

So, for us here in St. Lucas, Iowa, our very first signs of spring are the Crocus. I have them planted in several spots, in flower beds, under a pear and a cherry tree . . . . . and their blooms reassure me that warmer days really are ahead. I especially love that they bloom despite the damp, bone-chilling temps of early spring, which often include a few blankets of snow. The Crocus, I guess you could say, are like a trigger for me. As indicated by my squeals, I am instantly overflowing with excitement that “IT” really is here. Not like I thought it would not come this year, because when was the last time mother nature skipped a season? But those of us that live where the winter seems to drag on and on and on . . . . and on, we NEED this trigger, this blatant sign of optimism.  SPRING!  My sign is the Crocus flowers.

I love this little bloom so dearly, that I’ve incorporated it into some of my designs.  Which for some, answers the question “Julie, where do you come up with your ideas”.

These are (from left to right): MM11-5 In The Month of May, shown in wool and cotton & MM405 Watercan Blooms.

I used Crocus flowers in both. The Pussy willows would easily come in 2nd as one of my favorite 1st signs of spring.

Then there are the Tulips and Daffodils.  And oh, that reminds me, my Daffodils are all sprouted and the shoots are up about 3 inches . . . . . insert squeals here!  It’s only a matter of time until the orchestra of spring blooms begins BOOMING here in our yard!  YAY!

Does your heart ache for the first signs of Spring too? If you wish to show off your blooms too, please post pictures. The more blooms the merrier.

And I have one request of you: if you have made any of my designs containing my beloved Crocus, or any other blooms, would you please post a picture of it here, or on our Face Book page?

. . . . and that concludes my love for crocus.

 

Uncategorized

Testing 123. . . .Im ba-ack

If you are a follower of this blog, then I owe you an apology.  I had given up on my blog and stopped putting any of my energy into creating posts.

I guess I needed a break. I went so far as to cancel my wordpress account, so I’m not even sure this post will reach a single soul. Which is why it truly is a test. I’m sending it out mainly to see if it gets published.  So, if you are by chance hoping for some life changing inspiration here . . . . . uh, this isn’t it. For today anyway.

Ive had a long break from posting and am ready to get back on the pencil. So stay tuned and please share with your pals because that’s how you inspire others, by sharing your experiences.  Um, I don’t mean share this exact post cuz it’s just a little blabber, but please share the future fantastic posts.

Tah Tah for now.

-julie

Uncategorized

Peek at New “Quilty” Patterns

A Peek at the New


(our booth at Quilt Market in Salt Lake City)

Oooh whee! We now have Spring Quilt Market 2016 behind us and we’ve come up for air. If you’re not sure what “quilt market” is, I’ll give ya the cliff notes.
Quilt Market is a culmination of everything “quilty” coming together under one gigantic roof. Companies large and small, showcasing their latest/greatest fabrics, threads, gadgets, patterns, batting, sewing machines, quilting machines . . . whatever products they create/sell related to quilting, it’s all under one beheamoth of a convention center roof.
Oh, and any and every “quilty” celebrity is there, just walking around as if they’re not famous . . . .and you can waltz right up and talk to them. Yeah, you don’t have to stalk them, it’s really cool. I’m talking really famous folks like Eleanor Burns, Rob Appell (star of Man Sewing), Nancy from Nancy’s Notions, Fons and Porter just to name a few you may know.

Anywho, that’s what quilt market is. It’s a really big deal for those of us companies who vend at quilt market, and we’re swamped for a few weeks afterwards, as we fill orders and catch our breath.

Now that you are in the know, how about that peek I promised you.

We released several new products at market.
I’m going to show you 2 of them today, so as to not overload and thus short circuit your creative juices.

Click on images for direct product purchase link.

This is P162 Sew Vintage – it finishes at 12″x14″ and can hang upon a 12″ hanger or on your 12″x14″ table stand if you have one of those.  Just a little embroidery needed to add the thread and needle. I love the modern fresh colors I chose for the pieced borders.


And, here’s P159 Sew Necessary. It finishes at 6″x12″ and it too can hang on a 6″ hanger OR a 6″x12″ table stand if you have one. If the style looks familiar, you’d be correct. The checkered background is the same style as all my designs in the Monthly Minis 8 series. A little embroidery is necessary to define the folds in the fabrics and creases in the pincushion, but all the embroidery stitch directions are included in the pattern. So don’t let a little embroidery intimidate you if you’re new to it. As for the cute ruler tape, you can use just about anything for this (if you don’t have exactly this). If you have a fabric company’s ribbon from purchasing an entire fabric line’s fat quarter bundle, that would work perfect!

Purchase options on both include getting the pattern and hanger or stand all together. Lots of quilt shops loved these patterns at market, so if you have an awesome quilt shop near you please check with them for getting these patterns. If, you do not (gasp!) have an awesome quilt shop near you, then we’d love to help take care of you.

Oh, yeah – if you love my fabrics in my samples, you can get those exact fabric kits from my Mom’s shop (where I pick all my fabrics for new designs). Go here: www.merrysstitchins.com

And  . . .that’s all I’m gonna let you peek at for today. Everything in moderation, right?
Uh, besides, I’m still updating the website anyway.  HA!

I’ll send you more spanks, oops I mean brand spankin’ new peeks in a day or two.

As always, I want to thank you sincerely for being part of my tribe. I love what I get to do for a living. That’s what being a kitten has helped me achieve, pure occupational freedom.


 

Ooh Ooh! We’ve added “Pinterest” pin buttons to every item on our website. So, please feel free to pin everything you love and wish for. Oh go ahead and get pin happy.  Pin pin pin pin pin.


Wishing you happy stitchin!
~Julie

Uncategorized

Make Easter More Exciting Then Christmas

MM804onstandEaster rocks!  It’s far more exciting than Christmas, in my opinion and here’s why . . . oh, and my little boys (2 & 4 years old) agree with me.

Easter in our home is exactly what you see here in this cute little quilt:  An Easter bunny, early spring blooming flowers, coloring eggs the night before so the Easter bunny will stop by and hide them all for us to find in the morning, along with our Easter baskets filled with a few goodies.  It’s the entire family, kids and adults, getting excited about hunting to find all the eggs/baskets.  And I don’t know about your Easter bunny, but ours is quite good at hiding those eggs.  Some years it takes us all day to find that last egg.  And, if the spring is an early one and warm enough to be outside, we take all the plastic eggs and do another hunt outside – the kids love to play “Easter bunnies” for this hunt, teasing the adults to find all their hidden eggs.

It’s spring, the long cold winter is behind us (mostly) and we get teased with warmer days and sunshine.  The fun lasts all day long.  The presents are just 1 or 2 instead of many – as a parent I find this to be refreshing.  Ahhh.  Crocus flowers are usually blooming, the very first sign of spring that I’ve longed to see all winter.

My little boys are beginning to share my love love love for Easter and I love love love it.  Considering they are little sponges, it’s no wonder.  They hear me talk about Easter with all the dreaminess I’ve just told to you.  And they’ve been telling me for weeks now how they can’t wait for Easter to come.  Ahhh, I think to myself, they’ll grow up appreciating Easter as a renewing, awakening, egg hunting, crocus-blooming, spring holiday.

This may be a good time to point out that we are not a religious family in any structured sense, and that our definition of “Easter” does not involve any holy figure’s resurrection/biblical reference at all.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not our family belief and this would not be the place to talk about those anyway.

So, whatever this glorious spring holiday means to you, I wish you a renewing, warm, sunny, crocus-blooming Easter.

~Julie

 

My Babes

Little Boys Love Big Fish

Not all of my posts need to be info or biz oriented, right?  Every now and then, I like to show peeks at how fast my little peanuts are growing, so today’s post is peekin’ at my cutie patooties.

Who thinks their kids are the cutest kids ever?  Uh, if you have kids and you didn’t raise your hand . . . well then I don’t know what to say, other than “I knew my kids are the cutest, I knew it, I knew it”.  This past weekend we took our first trip to see critters.  We took them to the Mississippi River Museum Aquarium in Dubuque, IA.

20160305_102238

Here are my two little angels, Lewie and Jack, standing so sweetly in front of some huge fish.  Uh yeah, did I say sweetly?  Oh, I must have mistyped because as you can clearly see, sweet isn’t exactly what I see.  I see 2 little terds who were slightly less than a handful.  But in their defense, we had spent the night in a hotel room, way out of their routine, Lewie was coming down with the flu (as we soon after realized), and none of us had more than 4 hours of sleep.  So all things considered, they were pretty darn good little squirts and they definitely enjoyed seeing all the big fish, alligator, turtles and snakes.

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And here’s one of my favorite poses that Jack has mastered.  He’ll shoot me in 15 years when he sees this, but for now I think it’s downright funny.  You go Jack, get them boogies!

 

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And you saw me mention our Aquarium trip was actually day 1 of our family flu fun.  Yes, shortly after we left the aquarium and headed for home, fevers broke out on the kids, lasted for 2 days and just when we thought we had beat the flu bug, it had one last punch which was a cough that kept you up all night long.  Here’s a picture of Lewie on one of our sick days this week .  . . . looks are deceiving because a half hour after I took this glamour shot, he clonked out for a marathon nap.  Poor babies.  I’m happy to report that after 7 fun-filled days we have conquered that nasty bug and are looking forward to warm spring days and lots of fresh air.

Well, that’s a peek at my boys.  Cute little booger pickin peanuts of mine.  They really are the cutest kids ever!