Monday, March 28, 2011

What a find!

Dude! Check out what I scored at my favorite thrift store this last weekend:
It's some kind of French street sign, I assume. But, it's perfect in Kelby's room. It says Buzz--as in Buzz Lightyear!? So cool and only $2.99. Can't beat that :)

Kelby will be moving to a big boy bed pretty soon so I can start potty training him this summer (eek!) and my intention was to convert his crib into the headboard/footboard that it's supposed to turn into. Casey doesn't really like the idea, I can tell, but I was going to do it anyway :) Until.....I saw this picture today on Apartment Therapy:
(Photo credit:

I LOVE this idea of making a headboard out of shipping pallets and Bud's Warehouse has tons of them. I think Casey will think it's pretty cool too, we'll see.

Friday, March 25, 2011

little mommies

I got the new book by Liesl Gibson, Oliver + S: Little things to Sew, and OH my goodness, I want to make pretty much everything in there! I had to start somewhere, so I dug in and made these doll carriers for all three kids. They are soooooo cute.
I made Kelby one too, for his doggie (out of cool boy fabric, of course), but he wants nothing to do with it. But, I know if I hadn't made him one, he would have wanted to wear the girls'. Stinker.

The girls wore these to Target and told our check-out guy, "Look, we have bear carriers!" and the guy said, "Are they..."beariers"??? HAHAHA! He and I thought it was pretty funny :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Don't knock it til you try it

I love pickled eggs! I have always loved them. Not the yucky yellow/green ones you find in big jars at the grocery store (who wants to eat an egg that color!?) but the purple kind that I grew up eating and now that I make for my kids. So, even though some of you are gagging at the thought, I want to link you to the best recipe I've found, just in case some of you are brave enough to try it. If you love vinegar like me, you'll like them, I promise. Try them, try them, Sam-I-Am!!!
Just a side note, you don't have to keep the beets, just use the juice and toss the beets if you don't like them.

On a whole 'nother topic...Can I just freeze this guy in time? Please? I don't remember having these feelings about the girls, but lately I am loathe to see my baby boy grow up. Maybe because he's my last one, I dunno, but I will SO miss his toddler years!


Friday, March 18, 2011

out with the new, in with the old

I got a new sewing machine! Actually, it's a pretty old sewing machine, but it happens to be my dream machine, which appeared on Craigslist for a super good deal right after my 5-year-old machine fritzed out on me yet again.

For a long time, I thought what I wanted was a quilting machine (metal, longer arm, built-in walking foot) but I was waiting until Pfaff started making one that at least had a zig-zag and a button holer. Then, recently, when thinking about how my circa 1970's Brother would be the perfect machine if only it did more than a straight stitch, it occurred to me that what I really want is an older Pfaff--from back when they were still all made in Germany. Enter, the Pfaff 1222E:
It's been well-loved. It's been all tuned up and refurbished. It's metal. I has a built-in walking foot. It has a zig-zag and several decorative stitches. I didn't even have to change feet or attach a crazy contraption to make 6 perfect button holes yesterday. It sewed through a few layers of cotton canvas with batting in between like it was butter. *happy sigh* It really is everything I have been dreaming of in a sewing machine!!!
Now, you'll allow me to rant for a minute, right? Why are newer computerized machines so popular, when these older ones are SO much better!? That computerized Pfaff, for which I scrimped and saved and paid over $500 for gave me nothing but trouble. In fact, over the last three years, I have forked out another $300 in repair costs! Why did they modernize to the point of actually selling inferior machines!? They are so temperamental, parts cost an absolute fortune and they need serviced more often. I don't get it.

But, anyway, I think I'll be happy with this baby for a long, long time :) While I was working on a project for the kids yesterday, I enjoyed this lovely view from my sewing room window (this was before they came up and hung out with me, making sculptures out of buttons and fabric scraps :)
Ah, aren't you so happy it's Springtime?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kid Stuff!

There are some kid things we have really been loving lately, so I've been wanting to compose a list here for you! I am always looking for good kids' book, music, craft or activity ideas, so your contributions in the comments are coveted! Here goes:

  • Creating Clever Castles & Cars from boxes and other stuff.  I found this book at the library and Natalie was enthralled from the get-go. We haven't had many big boxes come through here lately, but after we collected three diaper boxes, we fashioned a little train this morning. I will probably order a copy for us to keep because it really is pretty cool and definitely inspires imaginary play!
After we tied our train cars together, they got to decorating it. It was hours of fun and required very little from me :)
  • Crazy Praise II. This is one of my favorite Christian kids' CD's. We listen to it all the time and it's great for dancin'. I even use it for children's church. Here's a little demo:

  • We have had some rough weeks with Natalie's reading. She absolutely hates the textbook we've been using and it was causing some major attitude every single day at school time. After prayer and deliberation, I ditched it. It's a really good textbook. But, she despised it. And with something as important as reading, I thought it was worth seeking out ways to teach her that appeal to her. She absolutely LOVES these little Now I'm Reading sets. The headway we made in the textbook was enough to get her going and she can read the level 1 set with very little help at this point. We'll be starting the Level 2 set soon, I think! (We have some B.O.B. books too, but both Natalie and I like these a lot better).
  • especially the SuperWhy games. This site has been a good tool for us lately, also helping with the reading. Plus, they're learning to use the computer just a little bit too. The girls can only play when Kelby's napping, though, because he's more likely to remove the space bar from the keyboard than anything else :)
I think that's all for today. Feel free to add to my list. If there's enough comments, I could compile a nice little link list in a future post for us all to have at our fingertips :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

bring on Summer!!!!!

You'd think I'm in the mood for Summertime or something because I have made three summer dresses for myself over the last few weeks. I just looooove dresses in the Summer and Anthropologie is simply out of the question money-wise and since I am not loving the Spring styles in the other stores this year (don't get me started on skinny jeans, I sparked quite the discussion about their prevalence on Facebook the other day), I got to sewing. Here's #1, with a super-cheesy smile:
This pattern is Simplicity #2582. It fits me really well, I'll definitely be trying the longer version out of a more flowy fabric, I think.

Then I made this one:
I'm so thrilled that floor-length dresses are in style right now because I don't think there's anything that makes me feel prettier :) This pattern is Simplicity 2579.

And here's my favorite so far (pattern is McCall's 5879, although I took out several inches of fullness in the skirt to avoid the pregnant look):
I absolutely love this fabric. It's kind of like a reverse applique! Here's a close-up:
Cool, right? I won't be putting it in the dryer, though. Actually I may need to hand wash it. Hmmmm. Anyway, fabrics like this cost a lot at JoAnn or online, but Denver Fabrics had it for only $4 a yard, so it cost me $6 total. I got the fabric for the long dress there too, along with three more:
So, I got five pieces and a pair of thread snips for less than the amount I was tempted to pay for this one dress. Ha!

The funny thing is, I've tried all three of these patterns before, without success. I was making the wrong sizes every time. However, after making one thing in the right size, I seem to be able to make that size every time and it fits perfectly. My point is, it may take some time to find some patterns and styles that work for you, so just keep trying! Also, if you're only paying 6 bucks for the fabric and $1 for the pattern, you haven't wasted a whole lot of money if it doesn't work out. Plus, you can make some adjustments and try again.

On a related topic, WHY is every dress on the racks right now SO SHORT!? I find that really annoying, as someone who spends a lot of time on the floor. Or bending over. Or jumping around to kids songs :)

Back to fabric. Occasionally my Reno friend Jenn and I decide we need to clean out our fabric stashes and do a little swap. Jenn's box for me arrived the other day and it felt like Christmas!!! Look at all the awesome fabric she sent me!
I didn't fold it like this, she did. I didn't dare unfold any of it, I just stuck it right on my shelf :)
AND, she sent me a cute little Amy Butler pouch, plus two awesome necklaces. Here's one of them:
Pretty, right!? Thanks Jenn, you're the best :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

bedroom progress

I have been working on our bedroom these past few weeks. Really, I was waiting on my bird quilt, which I finally finished last week, and on some artwork. Collecting art and frames is quite a process for me! Especially because I'm rather cheap that way, which means it takes that much more creativity to try and use what I already have! Here's what I have so far:
Not bad, right?
The pillow shams I made yesterday out of a table cloth I got on clearance at Target. I'd had my eye on it for awhile so I'm glad I held out!
Here's a closer view of the "art":
The larger, brown piece closest to you is a 1929 calendar page I found at an antique store, along with the leaf hankie to its left. The other large piece is something my mom brought back from Fiji recently and the shadow box on the lower left is a painting of a mother and daughter from Mongolia along with some little Mongolian boots. The Rise & Shine and Olive You prints were FREE downloads from this guy. He has several other really great ones too. Almost all the frames came out of my stash. I did buy the scrapbook frame for the hankie and a couple of the cheap clip frames, but that's all. I like the look of so many hodge-podge (non-matchy, non-linear) art arrangements I've seen in magazines and such lately, so that's what I was going for here.

Here's my finished quilt!!
I fussy-cut the birds and then dug out all the yellow, green and brown fabrics I could find. I then cut them into five-inch widths (varying lengths) and put them in rows. I used 5-inch cream sashing and 10-inch borders. There ya go :) I think the orange thread on the quilting makes I really interesting, I'm glad I went that way.
And the back:
That bottom-most fabric is something an older lady at church gave me. It's from the '60's and had a Sears tag on it that said 50 cents! If only, right!?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Girl World

I am SO HAPPY to have finally finished the girls' room. It is sooooo much fun designing kids' rooms because they can be fun, playful and over-the-top (to an extent, haha). And, I get to use colors that I may not get to play with in the rest of the house. For Natalie and Layla's room, I gave them what they wanted--GIRLIE! And pink. But, I also wanted to keep a scrappy, handmade, sweet look. This is what I came up with:
It was fun--but I'm glad I'm finally finished! Their room took a lot of sewing time, more than any other room in the house, that's for sure! Here's a bit more info:

  • The book slings were made using this fabulous tutorial.
  • We got the bunk bed on Craigslist for $100.
  • The tent was made using this pattern. It was a LOT of work and a TON of fabric. I used sheets and curtain panels from thrift stores, otherwise, the cost of fabric would have been ridiculous. 
  • The super-cute paper doll quilt was made by my friend Jenn, using these fabric panels. The clothes are in those little baskets next to the quilt and have fusible fleece on the back so they stick. We LOVE this little quilt :)
  • The closet curtains were sheers that my Aunt Teddi gave me (thank you!) and I prettied them up with fabric scraps, the denim tabs (from the denim curtains I used on the tent), buttons, and rick-rack. So, they didn't cost me a dime! 
  • The paint is Baer, Hawaiian Shell from Home Depot. We got the paint with the primer mixed in, to see if it would prevent having to do two coats. It didn't. Now we know :)
  • I made both the girls' quilts, using this book, my favorite quilt book by far! 
Next on the list--the upstairs bathrooms! :) After that, I can finally pass along my wallpaper steamer. It's been a good friend, but I'll be glad to see it go, ha!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I have a six-year-old

Six years!!!!! Wowzers. Natalie has been an instrument of God in the past six years to mold me into a completely different person than I was before her arrival. Life may be harder with kids, but it is infinitely more purposeful--at least for me :) Man, I love this girl!!!!
We had a little photo shoot today. This one's my favorite:
Here's the bike we got her:
Check out the doll seat!! Cute, right?? That's why I picked it--not because it's Disney Princess ;)
Yep, Kelby's shirt is on backwards and inside-out. That's how he wakes up from nap time almost every day.
Happy, Happy Birthday, Natalie Paige!!!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Just in time!

I finished my February embroidery the other day--just in time for the super-cute March one! I still need to turn it into a quilt block, obviously, but here's the center part:
And, check out the back!!! This is the first time my back has not looked like a total disaster :)

My kids have been playing outside in this beautiful weather nonstop this week. We need a third bike, though, since they all get a little feisty over the two we have. Good news, though, tomorrow is Natalie's birthday and we bought her a new bike with training wheels and a doll seat on the back and everything! So, now she can ride without her knees banging the handle bars, haha.
Hopefully I'll have pics to share from my "Natalie is 6" photo shoot tomorrow. Hopefully. Meaning, if she's feeling cooperative and if I get the homemade pizzas and lemon meringue pie she asked for for her birthday dinner done. Wish me luck!

Oh, and a big thank you for all your house keeping ideas! I'm definitely going to be checking out FlyLady! I'll let you know what I think :)