Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy holidays!

Back in September I had made a little deal with myself that I would make NO gifts this year. I knew the baby would be coming no later than the first week of November and there was no way I wanted to get myself into making lap quilts for everyone again...or doll clothes, or even cookies or caramel corn as I have done in years past.

So, of course, I started a small decorative sewing project in December. While shopping, I saw another gift that would really delight the person I was sewing for, and I talked myself out of buying it, out of having a back-up plan. And Christmas morning, I had nothing to give this woman. When I saw her, I just apologized and explained that I hadn't had the time to finish what I wanted to give her. She looked at me and said, "You are busy," and kind of implied that I shouldn't have bothered this year. She was right. There would have been no shame in the back-up gift.

Eventually, I will finish that decoration and get sewing regularly, but my relative really put it into perspective for me. I am busy. Caroline will only be a newborn for a short time, and I need to just accept what I cannot do right now.

I present, the extent of my finished Christmas crafts. I'm slowly building a scrap book for Caroline with My Memories Suite. I don't talk about the software I did the giveaway for very much, but I do use it, even more so since they released a Version 3. It is a lot more user friendly, with a lot more variety. I'm still discovering things they have made easier and every time I do, I just want to play with it more! Boy, did that sound like an advertisement, but I swear, I really do love it and am not being compensated for saying that, though I do get a small kickback for everyone who purchases the software using my discount code (STMMMS79028 for $10 off the software and a $10 code to purchase kits and accessories in the store).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A cry for help, and a baby pic

Remember that bookshelf I was refinishing? Well, I sanded it and was nearly done painting it when my water broke, leaving me a full week less than I thought I would have to finish it. Of course, I didn't have the time to get to it with a tiny new baby and it started getting too cold to paint in the garage. So my husband brought my project into the basement where I could work on it at my leisure.

What happened and how do I fix it? I have refinished furniture before, including a few other antique pieces, but I have never had anything like this occur. I want to say humidity, but really I am fairly inexperienced with wood, and I'm not sure that makes sense.

In other news, the baby is getting bigger, and I'm getting more sleep, but I'm still not fully functional. How could you look at this, though, and think a few months of hardly crafting was not worth it?

I love babies in grown up clothes. Teeny tiny jeans are adorable without chubby little thighs stuffed into them, and crazy adorable when you combine the two!

And she is waking up to eat again...did you know that in the past two days I have watched an entire season of How I Met Your Mother ONLY while feeding her? Truth. This is why my blog is lacking.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A year in the making...

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about how I had stupidly decided to try out a new craft right before Christmas, and make it as a gift for someone. Now that it is finally finished, I'm going to explain what happened, and sort of review the kit I purchased.

In 2009, Gabe and I each received a needlepoint stocking as a Christmas gift from a relative up north. Of course, I briefly looked them over, then packed them into the Christmas decorations when we got home from our trip. It wasn't until I got them out last year and hung them up next to my husband's decade old needlepoint stocking that I realized only one person in the family didn't have one, my step-daughter. And it looked wrong!

So I went to L.L. Bean where the stockings had been purchased for my son and myself. Of course, a lot of the designs are the same year after year, and when you took out what Gabe had, and what I had, what was left was nothing that my step-daughter would like. So I checked Land's End (where my husband's came from years ago), and there were a couple cute ones, but what I was really looking for was one with a penguin on it, to match the fleece stocking she picked out years ago. I finally resorted to Google, and I found this Dimensions needlepoint stocking kit.

I thought it was like a Christmas miracle that I found a needlepoint stocking with a penguin on it, and being an experienced crafter, I thought it would be no big deal to finish the thing.

Then it showed up...and it faced the wrong way. Now, that is something that the photo on the front of the kit clearly shows, but not something that looks out of place when you're looking over a million and one stocking kits on a craft site like JoAnn. Because ALL of Dimension's kits face the wrong way. Is this a marketing ploy? If you have one handmade stocking you must have a handmade stocking for everyone because ALL commercially produced stockings face the opposite way? If so, it's a crappy one. I was pissed, but I was determined I could make it work.

So, if you wanted to make a stocking that faced the wrong way, this is how the canvas looked. Nicely pre-printed with a close approximation of the color you were supposed to be stitching in the correct area.
And if you wanted to make a stocking that faced the right way, as I did, this is what the canvas looked like on the opposite side.

I would do a couple stitches, flip it over, count how many I had left and do a couple more stitches before I forgot what I counted and had to do it all over again. It was tedious. It was annoying. It took me until January to finish just the basics.

Then came the embroidery. The name was easy, because it was just a little chart in the instructions, but the fine hairs on the penguins were nearly impossible until I had the bright idea to go to Kinko's and have a mirror image made of the pattern. Once that was done, the stitching went much quicker and I was ready to finish.

Surprisingly, the finish is the biggest problem I have with the kit. Even if I had decided to face this the way the kit faced, the stocking still would have taken hours and hours of my time, and do you know the instructions Dimensions provides for finishing? Cut a piece of cheap acrylic felt and sew it on. No lining to protect your delicate stitching, no sturdy velvet backing like you would get on anything you purchased, you just get a piece of craft felt. Now, thankfully, I know what I'm doing and was able to both fully line this in cotton and back it in the only blue velvet I could find locally, because there is no way this stocking would have lasted more than a year without a lining and a sturdier fabric for the back.

It still stands out, but will stand out less when I order Caroline's this year. Which, I guess is the ultimate conclusion to my review. I won't be doing this again, ever. With the $20 the kit cost, the hours of time I put into it, and the extra money I spent purchasing lining and backing fabric to make it last a decent amount of time, it is not at all worth it. There isn't any savings over purchasing a commercially made stocking. I know savings isn't the point. The penguins were the point...but I think she would have settled for a polar bear.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Moments: Retro Edition

The comment I got last week about Caroline being a little Gabe clone inspired me to hunt down his one month photo. I have to say, they're pretty similar.

In the process of finding the photo (remember that was a crashed computer ago), I discovered something else. I had this memory of taking Gabe's picture exactly on the days he turned each month older until about seven months when I forgot. I remembered beating myself up about that day. And it was those memories that made me so upset I didn't take Caroline's photo at exactly one month. What kind of future were we going to have if I was already forgetting her pictures a full six months before I forgot her brother's?

Only, I remembered wrong. This picture, which is in Gabe's baby book as his one month photo, was actually taken a day after he turned one month old. Apparently, I wasn't such a great mom then either..and that actually makes me feel better. Much better.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday Moments: Tuesday Edition

I want to say that I'm a slacker for not posting a thing in two weeks, but I'm not. I'm still as exhausted as I was when I last posted, maybe more so. Caroline turned one month old yesterday. I dressed her up warm in an adorable outfit we had been gifted and ran a couple errands, reminding myself all day that I needed to take a photo of her at one month exactly. It didn't happen, and yesterday is gone, so it never will. This one was taken Saturday though, and it's cute, and I'm trying hard to forgive myself.

I have been feeling this itch to do something creative, but have not had the time. What I really want to do is make a little project from the book I bought myself for my birthday, but what is probably more realistic is wrapping some of the few Christmas gifts I have purchased. Though I do have at least one major (like a full year in the works) project that I am determined I WILL finish before the holiday. It helps that said project is probably 85% complete, I hope that I'm not kidding myself about how much crafting time that adorable smiling face up there is going to give me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I really sincerely thought about posting a Monday Moment on Monday, then I took a nap or something. Honestly, I don't remember what I did at any point so far this week except for the three doctor's appointments I have been to, and I only remember those because they're written in my calendar.

I'm exhausted. "Sleep when the baby sleeps," only works when the baby is your first one. Not to mention, it is hard to get sleep when they have you running all over town. My girl is 20 days old today and she has had six appointments already. Plus, Gabe had a four year check up that turned into a sick visit and I have an appointment tomorrow! Yikes!

And if you've paid attention this long, I guess you deserve some kind of photo. I promise, there will be more baby photos soon. (She's already grown 1/2 an inch and gained more than a pound!)

This is from Gabe's birthday party. Note the crying face in the corner. He did not want to be sang to or have any photos taken. A request I should have taken seriously, but I never honestly thought that every photo of him (other than the gift opening ones) would have this face in it.

We got the number 4 sparkler "candle" at Party City. Only after we got it home did we read on the back that it isn't supposed to be used for children under 8. It was fun though, and set off every single smoke alarm in the house!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Moments

I was all set today to post the hospital photos of baby Caroline, then, as I was sitting down to the computer something amazing happened. Gabe wanted some orange juice and I asked him if he would like to be a big boy and use his step-ladder to get a cup from the cupboard. He said, "How about I hold the baby and you get the cup?"

Giving up his status as the baby has not been easy on him. Things that he was never allowed to do before, are suddenly blamed on the baby when he can't do them now. No candy for breakfast? No playing outside by himself? No jumping on the bed? Nobody loves me, they just love the baby!

Him asking to hold her this morning was a big occasion. I'm so proud of my boy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

She's here!

It turns out that it was a good thing I drove across town and bought a crib skirt. My baby girl was not going to wait on me to sew one. She decided to start making her way into the world on Thursday evening.

Caroline was born at 8:04AM on Friday morning weighing 6lbs 2oz and 19 inches long. I still cannot believe that a person this small exists. Especially since my last baby weighed almost 9lbs! She's so sweet and we are so blessed to have her here!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm just lazy...

I promise that I did not have the baby. I just didn't blog for a week because I literally did nothing!

I realized that I was truly dreading making the crib skirt. All of those ruffles, pulling the thread to gather and praying it didn't break on a 52 inch side...no desire. None. So I talked to my husband, and even though I had already purchased the fabric to make it, asked if it would be alright if I drove across town to the baby store and bought one. He laughed and said, "You know, there is a reason they sell those things." Thank God for him!

Here it is, on the bed. Just plain pink to match all of her sheets. I'm excited that I don't have to sew it, though I did talk myself into believing that once it was in, I'd start piecing the back to her quilt. That hasn't been done either. I should really know better.

Here is a close up of her letters and the banner from the baby showers, now hanging above her bed. I covered the letters with pieces of the bag one of my shower gifts came in. It matched so perfectly and was free!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy birthday

Yesterday was my birthday, and my celebration involved lots and lots of pumpkin guts. My son is too little to carve his own, so I had to hollow out and carve both the design he picked out of the book, and the design I wanted to do. About 1/3 of the way into mine I got that, "Why in the heck did I pick this one?" feeling and left out some of the details. Then, when I ran inside to grab the tripod and camera, my son grabbed the little drill tool that came in the carving kit and added an extra hole. Thanks, kid!

I usually do something more creative, and had planned on something else this year, but when it came down to it, the pregnant lady was tired and lazy. Next year it'll be awesome...maybe. I make no promises.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Burp cloths

I got these Carters burp cloths as a gift at my last baby shower, and I LOVED them. I had a lot of mom friends tell me that I'd never use them, because I'd be too afraid of my baby puking on the cute ones. This logic kind of baffles me though, because everything for baby gets puked on, pooped on, or peed on in those first few months. So should I have nothing cute for my little girl? I think not!
I set out to buy more, but couldn't find them in the stores, and the ones I found online were $10 for three. I decided that I could buy my own interlock knit at those prices and make some cute ones myself. I hit a sale at JoAnn Fabrics and was able to make all of these for less than $9!

And look how they stack up to the store bought ones! Hardly a noticeable difference! I didn't do any embroidery or applique on these ones for my baby, but I think it could be really easily done and would make them so much more gift-able!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Moments

We took the kids to Bowen's Mill yesterday. I think they only do cider now, no more grain, but they did have a little museum area set up with all of the equipment. I should have taken pictures, but didn't realize until I got home that maybe Keli, and readers of her blog, would like to have seen all of that. (Keli made a miniature replica of a French grain mill that is mind blowing!)

This is the part where it's really incredible that I didn't think to take any photos of the grain stuff, because this is the lock on the door in the far right of the above picture. The door that was taken off of the old French mill. I stood there and read the whole hand written note on it, and pointed out the names scribbled on the door to my step-daughter. I turned the camera on this really intricate lock, and I still didn't think about the connection. I blame the baby.

They had more stuff, like this crazy metal slide built into a tree. It had planks of wood nailed to the trunk instead of steps. My husband had to climb up on the branches to help the kids get to the top. Gabe was seriously brave, and his sister was seriously smart, letting him be the guinea pig before she would take a chance on it.

In the end they both went down a few times. They made huge piles of leaves at the bottom while the other laboriously climbed the tree and laughed hysterically when they landed in them. It was a pretty good time, even though the quilt show they advertised (and part of the reason we went) was only about a half dozen quilts with no information on them. Hmph!

My husband requested that I replicate this one, and have in on our bed before snow flies. I laughed at him, but it was an interesting request. Who knew he liked bear paw blocks, flying geese and applique? Not that he has any idea what any of that means...

Sunday, October 16, 2011


The bookshelf is stripped and sanded with coarse paper (the before picture can be seen here). I finally got my husband to remember to pick up some finer sandpaper for me on one of his many trips to the hardware store, so I am hoping to begin painting this on Tuesday. In the meantime I'm still trying to find the finishing touches for it. I have decided that if I put it in my son's room before I complete my vision, that I will never realize it. So hopefully I find exactly what I need in the 48 hours or so it takes the paint to cure...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday Moments: Tuesday Edition

We spent Sunday at a local park. I wanted to get some cute fall photos of Gabe, but it was hard to do in the 80 degree weather. I couldn't even bring myself to ask him to put on his dress shirt and pretend it was cold out for a few minutes.

He wasn't really in the mood anyway. We kept getting almost cute photos like these. Where if he only would have moved two inches, or looked at the camera (and when he did look he gave the corniest fake smile), they would have been amazing.

He was nowhere near as up for posing for photos as this guy was. Ha! I was given a praying mantis in a jar by my aunt when I was little, and I've kind of been obsessed since. Don't worry, this one ended up back in the field. I may still love the bugs, but I've definitely gotten over the having them in my house bit.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Shower pics

I had my last (for this baby, and more than likely forever) baby shower over the weekend. It was fun, and exhausting, and I am so relieved that it's over! I don't have to be cute and sociable at all again until my son's birthday in November. Which is a good thing, because that isn't as easy as it was before I was 8 months pregnant.

The tables were so large that we set one up as a combination dessert and gift table. It made a great spot for the monkey treats I made, and didn't make the fact that they clashed with the ducks and elephants anywhere near obvious.

Did I mention that I'm relieved the parties are done? I now know everything I have to buy for the baby. My shopping list is, amazingly, only seven items long, and my to-do list has shrunk to three items long. I feel like I might very soon get that feeling I've been waiting on...the feeling that I'm ready for her to come whenever she is.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Almost finished!

I was able to complete the crib bumper last week, and now I am nearly finished with the baby's corner of the room! I have to make the bed skirt, and figure out some way to put her name or initials on the wall. I will still have her quilt to finish at that point, but since I made it toddler bed sized, I'm not very concerned that it be finished in the next month.

I can't get over how adorable these little Care Bears are!

My finally finished painting. I'm really, really pleased with how it came out, and imagine this hanging on her wall for years to come. Even if she doesn't end up as enamored with Care Bears as I was when I was little, it should go well with the character themed decor that my almost four year old prefers.

And in the event that you needed a refresher, or were just curious (as I was) to see how it might all look together, here the crib is with my finished quilt top. More photos of that can be found here.