Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lunch Bag

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I made this lunch bag for my mother for Christmas. Yes, it’s nearly June, and I still haven’t blogged all my Christmas projects. This project was even late for Christmas. My mother, bless her heart, knew that I was scrambling to finish all the projects I took on for my own family for Christmas, and she told me not to worry about it if I had to give her a rain check. I finished this and gave it to her mid-January, and I think she found it worth the wait. My mother works as a secretary at an elementary school, and I wanted her to have something nice to hold her lunch each day.

I found this wonderful tutorial for the lunch bag, and it was really helpful and easy to follow. I love the drawstring top on the bag to keep everything covered.

110116_0019-1a webI only made a few minor changes from the directions on the tutorial.

110116_0024-1a webI couldn’t find vinyl-coated fabric for the lining, so I bought some clear vinyl and sewed it in when I sewed the lining. (This is a view of the bag inside-out so you can see the vinyl lining.) Also, even though it was on the inside of the bag where no one would really see, I didn’t really like leaving the exposed seam between the drawstring portion and the lining; I’m just picky. So, to remedy that, I tucked the drawstring portion down into the bag while I sewed a couple rows of topstitching just below the orange band on the bag. You can see the stitching if you look closely at the picture below. It encased the exposed seam on the inside of the bag, added a little character on the outside, and pulled the starting point of the drawstring portion down just a bit. Works for me!110116_0014-1a web

110116_0025-1a webMy mother has loved taking it to work. She says she always gets compliments on it, and she loves being able to tell them her daughter made it for her. One of her co-workers even asked for the directions so she could make one (and of course I shared the link). I just love giving handmade gifts!

I’m sharing this post with the following link parties:

Making

Monday, May 23, 2011

21 Weeks

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I always enjoy seeing the faces of my favorite bloggers, but I rarely post pictures of myself. So I thought I’d share this just for fun. Here I am with my 21 week prego belly. A little make up probably would have helped, but I rarely wear make up. I thought I’d show you the real, everyday me.

I guess I haven’t officially announced here that this baby is a BOY. I have two girls. I feel comfortable with girls. A baby boy will be a whole new adventure. I’m really excited, but I’m also feeling really unprepared. I want to start sewing, sewing, sewing!

Is it just me, or are there very few options when it comes to masculine looking fabric? Every time I find a print that I like in the right color, I always find that they’ve added flowers or pink somewhere in the design. I know girls can pull off something with blue on it, but I don’t think that goes both ways. If I make something for my little man, I want it to be obvious that he is a little MAN. I searched around locally for any fabrics I might like on Saturday, and I was rather disappointed. I’m afraid I’m falling in love with way too many designer fabrics online that will cost us at least twice as much as what I usually buy.

Case in point, let me show you the fabric I’ve been pining over for a car seat canopy (“greeter deterrent”) even since before I learned it was a boy. I was actually hoping it would be a girl just so I wouldn’t have to try to talk myself out of this expensive fabric. It’s from the Beach Mod line by Monaluna:happy_summer_300medium_dot_mineral_300trees_meadow_300

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(images borrowed from THIS site)

The cheapest price I can find for this fabric line is $16.50 a yard. OUCH! And I can’t find it locally, so there will be additional shipping charges. Oh, why did I have to fall in love with an organic fabric line?! The other night, I told my husband I was crushing on some really expensive fabric, and I showed it to him. He agreed that it was really cute, and told me to go for it. But as soon as the words were out of his mouth, his whole body shuddered. Poor, sweet guy! I forget he has a hard time telling me no when I’m pregnant; he loves to spoil me. I guess I’ll put a pin in it until I can convince myself to find another love for a car seat cover or until I just give in and buy it. I wish it would go on sale!

I also love, love, LOVE the fabric line that won Project Selvage over on Spoonflower:

fabrics(image source)

It’s called Backyard Baby by Patty Sloniger. It will be released this fall through Michael Miller fabrics. It reminds me of the rhyme my grandpa used to always tell me, “snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of.” How adorable are those bugs in the jars? I guess I’ll have to come up with some projects to do once baby is already here that will justify me having to buy this fabric. Oh, maybe I’ll try to make my very first quilt!

So what fabrics are you crushing on? Are there any great boy fabrics you love? Do you spring for designer fabrics, or do you stick with what is affordable? You’re always welcome here. Follow along. Let’s chat!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Little Cap

110205_0001-1a webI sewed my first hat back in February for a family baby shower. I used a pattern by Leila & Ben. The directions were really clear, and there were pictures for each step. Since there are no little boys in my house (yet) and the hat was too small for my girls, I had to get creative with the model. Our rocking horse was so cooperative!

110205_0006-1a webHere’s the back. This was probably my first time sewing with elastic, too.

110205_0007-1a webThe top.

I used the instructions from the Little Cap Sew Along on The Train to Crazy, but I couldn’t seem to make the top of my hat look like hers. Oh well. I think it’s cute enough.

110205_0008-1a webI love the soft flannel I used on the inside.

110205_0009-1a webAnd here’s a closer view of the argyle patch.

The pattern says to use a sturdy fabric such as canvas for the argyle. I used canvas, but the threads are so thick that when it frayed, it looked like the whole thing was going to come apart. By the time I was finished, it had already frayed past where I had sewn it on with the sewing machine. I dabbed a little fabric glue around the edges. It won’t have as much of a cute frayed look to it, but at least it won’t unravel completely in the wash.

I’ve made a few more of these, so I’ll have to post pictures soon.

I’m sharing this post with the following link parties:

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*Personal note: given to Autumn/Eman

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Little Pick-Me-Up

Today was just one of those days. The kids got up way too early. I tried parking them in front of the TV (because I’m such a good mommy) so I could get a little more rest, but I soon woke to screaming and fighting. The rest of my day, I  felt much like the mother pictured in this video. I’ve also been feeling sorry for myself today because it’s my 9 year anniversary with my sweetie, and I don’t get to see him until after 10pm because of grad school. Oh, how ready I am to be done with grad school! (And lets not talk about the doctorate program he will start next year or I might cry.)

So I thought I’d share this video in case any of you moms had a day like mine, or if you just need a little motivation. I can’t watch this without tearing up.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Overwhelmed Much?

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I want to issue you a challenge.

Are you like me? Do you ever have those nights when you go to bed, and as soon as your head hits the pillow, all you can think about is what you didn’t get done that day? This happens to me often. The night before, I sit up envisioning all the things I’ll get done the next day and all that I will finally accomplish. Then the next day comes, life happens, I mostly only accomplish that which is needed for our basic survival, and I go to bed feeling discouraged again. So I stay awake thinking about all the things I should have gotten done and all the things I hope maybe I can get done the next day.

Have you heard that Barenaked Ladies song, “Who Needs Sleep?” There’s a part that says, “My mind is racing filled with lists of things I’ve done and things I’ve missed.” That song runs through my head often.

Many nights, I sit up, turn on the lamp, and make a to-do list. Maybe if I write things down, I can get them out of my head and get some sleep, right? Wrong! My to-do lists are a mile long. They include all the things I need to do such as clean the bathrooms and finally clean out the kids’ closet. But they also include all the things I wish I had time to do, such as make curtains for the dining room, read more books, actually post something on my blog, or try my hand at sewing skirts for the girls. (That part of the list goes on and on and on.) So obviously, I don’t stand a chance at even making a dent in that list, and the discouraging cycle continues.

I know there must be some of you out there who feel the same way. Maybe you don’t let it keep you up in the night like I do, but you probably have goals. Maybe you want to clean your bathrooms once a week. Maybe you want to keep your kitchen counter dirty-dish free. Maybe you want to find time to exercise or enjoy your favorite hobby more. I know I can’t be completely alone in this because I’ve heard my friends talk about how they feel the same discouragement.

Now, I can’t say that I have found a way to multiply your time so you can be supermom, an amazing housekeeper, and perfect your talents in several different areas all at the same time (if anyone HAS figured this out, please let me in on the secret). But I have found something that helps me to not feel so discouraged, and I hope it can help you, too.

Forget the to-do list!! Or if you just can’t stand to do that, keep it short and realistic for your day. But most importantly, start an accomplishment list. I started doing this at the beginning of the year, and I felt the change immediately. When I went to bed, I would pull out a little pad of paper and jot down anything that felt like a chore I had done. If I loaded the dishwasher, I wrote it down. I wrote down anything I wanted to give myself credit for, such as:

  • washing laundry
  • putting laundry away
  • picking up the family room
  • running errands
  • exercising
  • cleaning out closets

The nice thing about this is that you answer to no one but yourself. If you were having a particularly difficult day and it felt like a chore just to get out of bed but you did it anyway, write it down! I write down things that work toward goals, such as spending more time focused on my kids, reading more books, reading scriptures, or making handmade items. I’ve written down things as minor as:

  • got dressed before noon
  • put away Christmas stockings/nativity (that was Jan 21st! Ha!)
  • made dinner
  • read stories and scriptures to the girls
  • put away groceries
  • shaved my legs!
  • ironed fabric for a project
  • posted to blog
  • had Family Home Evening
  • stopped snacking by 10pm
  • in bed by 11:30 (these last two were giving myself credit for baby steps while recognizing that I needed to eventually raise the bar)

Basically, it’s all about giving yourself a little credit. I think that as women, we can be really hard on ourselves. This is a way to end the day on a good note. It has helped me not to sweat the small stuff and give myself a pat on the back for all the day-to-day things that I accomplish that might not even feel like accomplishments anymore because they are so routine. I go to bed realizing I’m not lazy, I don’t sit around and do nothing all day. So if I don’t manage to do everything, that’s okay, too.

My to-do lists have gotten much more realistic by doing this also. After I write down everything I did get done, once in a while, if there is something really pressing in my mind, I will write down 1 or 2 things I would really like to get done the next day. It feels so good when I can cross off everything because I didn’t let my expectations get too high. And if I didn’t get my to-do list done, I still have at least 10 other things I was able to accomplish instead. Plus, it’s a form of motivation to use my time more wisely. I know that if I sit and browse the internet rather than emptying the dishwasher, I’ll have one less thing I can write down at the end of the day.

I call it my accomplishment journal, but I don’t let it turn into another source of guilt. I have never told myself, “aw, man! I haven’t kept up with my accomplishment journal.” That would be counter-productive. I do it when I think I need it. I kept up with it for a while in January, and then I took a break. Now I’m starting to feel like I should go back to it for a while because I’m feeling overwhelmed again. My due date for this baby is looming, and I know how quickly a pregnancy can fly by. There is much I want to get done before baby arrives.

So here’s where the challenge comes in. You know, the challenge I mentioned before I went into all my blathering? I want you to join me. Try keeping an accomplishment journal for a week and see if it helps you. Remember that if you miss a night, that’s okay. It’s not about the guilt! But give it a try and see if it helps you feel better about the things you get done during your week and less discouraged about what you don’t.

I’d love to hear what you think. Maybe you’ll find you didn’t really need it because you were already realistic in your expectations for yourself. Maybe it will motivate you to get more done. I hope it will encourage you the way it has me.

Will you try it? Do you do something else to help yourself see your accomplishments? How do you keep up with your to-do lists and still fight discouragement? You’re always welcome here. Let’s chat!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Book Review: The Trouble with Chickens

The Trouble With ChickensThe Trouble With Chickens by Doreen Cronin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I put this on hold at the library based solely on a picture of the cover I saw. I thought it might be fun to start reading chapter books to my oldest, and she loves books involving chickens. I read it myself before trying to read it with my daughter. The inside flap said ages 8-12, and I could see why. There was nothing offensive in the book, but the dog had a sort-of snide, sarcastic attitude that my 5-year-old probably wouldn't understand that it was meant to be comical.

I went ahead and read the book. It's not like it was a difficult book to read. I might consider reading it with my kids when they are older. It's basically a kidnapping/hostage situation except with animals instead of people, using the animals as comic relief to keep it from getting too tense. It didn't seem to teach any lessons or have much literary value. I'm sure there are better books, but if you're just looking for some "fluff" for your kids to read, this one would be fine.

What are you reading with your kids these days?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Book Review: The Devil in the White City

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a book review here, so I thought I’d share.

 

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed AmericaThe Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book started out really slowly for me, but it was accounting events in history. It isn't my usual type of book to read, and I never really poured through history books in school, either. Once I got past the beginning, though, Larson really did a good job of fleshing out the key players in the story. This book was packed with interesting facts about products and inventions that came about during the time period. I felt like I learned so much while reading this book, and I was eager to share with anyone near me what I was learning.

I found myself routing for the architects and all the workers who took on such great feats to create such a magical world's fair in such a short amount of time. At the same time, I was wishing that someone would stop the evil Dr. Holmes. Toward the end of the book, I was feeling discouraged on both points, but I’m glad I kept reading.

While I love a good crime drama, this was extra creepy since the events actually happened. It left me feeling so grateful for modern forensics! Larson doesn’t go into a lot of gory detail about the killings, although he does describe the feelings of the victims in some situations and in what condition the bodies were found. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to learn about history or the private dealings of a murderer. As long as you don’t let your imagination run wild and terrify yourself, you should be okay.

Have you read it? What did you think? Are you reading anything good right now? Let’s chat!