24 October 2013

Sewing with Lovey: Baby Stuff!

My dear friend, The Full Time Wife, gave birth last week, and I was so excited for the arrival of her baby that I went a little crazy making fun baby stuff. I pulled some tutorials (via Pinterest), made alterations as I felt like making them, and wound up with a box of stuff. Time will tell how useful it will all be, and I'm hoping she'll tell me so that if/when the time comes for me to have babies, I'll have the benefit of her experience. :)

I thought I'd share some of what I worked on. Any thoughts on the usefulness of these items, moms & dads out there? Any suggestions to make the next go-round even better?

I made her this nursing shawl:

From thecoterieblog.com via Pinterest.
It's essentially one cut and one seam. So very easy, and looks like it would be perfect. The idea of having a nursing shawl you can wear as part of an outfit, or put on just for nursing that doesn't scream to everyone in the vicinity, "HEY! MY BOOB IS OUT OVER HERE!" :) I used a light-weight black knit, extremely similar to what's pictured. I tried it on, and was even more impressed with the simplicity of it at that point.

Using this tutorial (from thecraftingchicks.com-- they also have a simplified version) for the blanket, and this tutorial (from www.coletterie.com) for the bias tape edging, I made this blanket:

I had never used minky before, had never machine-quilted before, and had never made my own bias tape, before, so lots of fun learning for me on this one! I was really pleased at how it turned out, especially considering all the technique new-ness. Besides, the imperfections prove it was home-made with love. :)

I also used this tutorial (from tutorialadventures.blogspot.com), and created my own tag, which I put on the blanket, too. Yay.

I used a combination of this tutorial (from walkingwithdancers.blogspot.com) and this tutorial (from diymaternity.com) to make washable, contoured nursing pads. I think I ended up sending her 10 pairs. I thought these were kind of fun to make. It's easy to churn out a batch of these with very little fuss. I used a variety of types of fabric including fleece, knit, cotton, and flannel for the pretty side, and a variety of thicknesses/layers on the absorbent side, cut from a 10-pack of cloth diapers I bought at Walmart. My darling husband is going to have to wait until I get another package of them to start using them as cleaning, waxing (car and boat), and outdoor sweat/work cloths. Sorry, love.

I think the fleece monkeys are my favorite. :) 
Using this tutorial (from diaryofaquilter.com), and this feedback about modified burp cloths (from thehomesihavemade.com - she said that adding a strip of fabric down the absorbent middle of the cloth diaper inhibited the absorption and made them essentially useless), I made a batch of burp cloths from another ten-pack of cloth diapers. Since the complaint about absorption made sense to me, I tried to keep the embellishments off the center section, so that they'd still be useful, but also let me play with them.

The gray & pink flower fabric on the left is what I used to
make the bias tape for the blanket.

I had come across this "Latchy Catchy," which is listed in the latchycatchy Etsy shop, and apparently has patents pending. Basically a strip that you put on the edge of a door, wrapped around both door knobs to keep the door from slamming and waking up the baby. Seems like a good idea, so I'm not really surprised about the patenting. I guessed at how to make it (since I didn't have a tutorial to go by, for this proprietary design), and wound up with this.

Definitely not perfect, but I was pleased. I did the same little bird in the center, front and back. I did check, and the encased elastic stretches far enough to go around both door knobs. I had to fiddle a bit with the inside of the middle part to make sure it was sturdy enough to hold the latch back and not just be an exercise in futility. A little iron-on fabric strengthener, and an extra layer made it work.

I thought this was a similarly excellent idea (Mammary Minders from dazzlebyd Etsy shop). Basically, a magnetic ribbon to put on your bra to remind you which side you need to nurse next.

I learned quite a bit while making these, and the third attempt (one on the right with sequins) was definitely the best. The most obvious thing that I should have figured out before I goofed up the first one I finished (on left, cream-colored) and ruined a couple other attempts is that super-strong magnets are lots of fun to try to sew around with a solid steel sewing machine. Heh heh... The 2nd and 3rd, I left the pockets unsewn on one edge of the inside and added the magnets after I was done sewing. I still think I can do better, but I'm not horrified by the finished product on these. I will definitely make another attempt on another day to perfect this. I really liked the idea.

I still have a batch of fun things I'm making or wanting to make to send her, but we will see if/when time permits.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts or insights about these. What are your favorite homemade baby/maternity items?

Much love,

P.S. All of the tutorials listed above were found via Pinterest, but as Jessica Hill said on this post, Pinterest isn't responsible for all the work that went into the tutorials-- the original creators/authors/bloggers are, and I want to give credit where credit is due. Pinterest has made them much more accessible to me, though, so yay for it, too! And yay for babies!


So, I know that whoever made this *meant* shampoo... But every time I read this:

I think of this:

Much love,

13 August 2013

Have you ever...?

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel a little chubby, potentially because you'd gained back some of the weight you'd worked so hard to lose (twice), and you get on pinterest and get sucked into some pin about how to do makeup which takes you to a series of videos by some professional make-up artist like Jaclyn Hill or MaskCara, which you proceed to watch, all the while getting deluded into thinking that what they're doing looks super-easy and you could do that to your face if you really wanted to, so you go into the bathroom and start slathering stuff on like they showed, except you don't have the same products so you start using whatever looks vaguely the same color whether or not it's actually what you're supposed to use, nevermind the fact that some of it is samples that are the better part of a decade old (hey, it's never been used-- it's probably fine) but you figure it's ok because one of them said at some point on one of the videos, in reference to something else entirely, that there weren't any rules and you thought she meant that applied to you but it really applied to someone who has a fair bit more make-up sense than you have, so you dab a bit of this and line a bit of that and swipe a touch of the other while blending with a pinch of some stuff and you think that you're doing the smokey eye look just like she did, and you put just
a little of the purple eyeshadow on your lips to tie the look together the way you'd heard someone else did it, and you look up at your reflection, with all of your newly learned highlighting and contouring knowledge and you think that it's odd that people don't generally ask you why you look like the bride of Frankenstein and then it dawns on you that it's probably because this isn't how you do your make-up when you go out in public because no one really wants to wind up with smokey cheeks and lips and chalky,sallow skin with stripes on her nose, but by that point you're so tired of make-up and all that goes with it that you just take a dry washcloth and swipe at the whole strange mess until most of it comes off, and then you go and fall exhausted into your computer chair and blog about it?
Found here. Not that that really helps at all...

No? Just me, then? Hmmmm...

Please know that I am not, in any way, mocking the two ladies mentioned above. I have tremendous respect for their abilities and the passion they have about what they do. I am, however, not even attempting to hide the fact that I'm mocking all the rest of us who think that we can become experts at something they do professionally, simply by watching a few videos of them doing it.

I did give half a thought to doing mock-up videos of the same type thing only without the expertise. It could be something really useful like, "How to look like you half-way care about your appearance without having to actually expend the energy or money it takes to really care" or "Doing your date face with whatever happens to be lying around nearby" or something like that. Then I remembered that I don't do video, so I wrote this instead.

Happy Tuesday!

Much love,

05 August 2013

My Clean Home: Part 2

If there's anyone out there who still peeks in on me from time to time, I apologize for my absence. It's been a complex year. Both I and my darling husband have spent some time being sick and in recovery--amounting to the bulk of this calendar year, surprisingly enough. We're still working on home remodeling projects, and between those things and the full-time job stuff, time seems to get away. Forgive me? Love me anyway?

Does this cute picture of a sloth help?

Recently, my "spare" time has been occupied by a lot of organizing/reorganizing projects. I'm down to one big one, and a couple closets. I got to thinking about it, over the last couple of months, and decided that I needed to make some headway. This is partially due to the fact that I'm feeling better than I had been. It's also partially due to the fact that while taking sick time (much more than I had envisioned), lots of things went undone in my home. That's depressing. It's hard, when you feel unwell, to even know where to start, after things have gone downhill.

Additionally, I've noticed a trend in my family. In a recent conversation with my Mumsy, we were talking about how we always do things to stage a house when we're getting ready to sell it, or the way we try to get things all organized to pack up when we move. In a family of semi-nomads who move every couple of years whether we need/want to or not, the next move is something that starts coming up (at least in our minds, if not in conversation) after we've lived somewhere longer than a year. Anyhoo, the tendency I noticed is that we tend to get things done so that it's the way we want them to be, right before we move. Then everything's a disaster at the new place, or situated to "make do" until we get to those projects-- usually right before we move out. Why do we do this?

My brother's family is the black-sheep of the nomads in two respects. 1) They don't move every couple of years. They only move if it's necessary. 2) When they move in, they move everything directly into its forever home in the new house, eliminating anything that doesn't have a home, and never "making do" (I think this is because they don't know if/when they will ever move again, and they don't save stuff they can't use in this house, just in case it might work in the next one). If they decide to do a project, they just do it. Weird. I know. :)

So, based on the above, I thought that maybe I should do some of the pre-move work so that we can live in this house the way we would like to... Visionary! Here's the thing. We've always known that we're not going to live in Greenville forever. We have said, all along, since beginning our relationship, that we'd probably spend a few years in this house, then move closer to the Midwest and our extended families. We're coming up on our two year anniversary, so in theory, that move is creeping our direction. Sometimes it feels like it's rapidly approaching. Sometimes not. Either way, shouldn't our house function the way we live? Shouldn't we enjoy our home? Even if it's only for another year or so?

I got to thinking about all this and started looking around with different eyes. If I were staging this place to show prospective buyers, what would I change? How would I incorporate the elements that don't appear to fit so that we could actually live here while being prepared for short-notice showing? What's different about the way we live and the way our home functions?

I have to learn to take pictures as I'm working through these processes. Sorry, but I don't have many pictures for this.

I started with the living room, because it's an easy one. We actually spend quite a bit of time in there, and aside from life stuff, it doesn't get particularly messy. Some big thoughts for the living room:

  • We don't own a television, so that (and its accompanying paraphernalia) is not the focal point, and is rather conspicuously absent to those who expect to see a huge screen gaping at them.
  • We have a fireplace that opens on two sides. Not back and front. Front and side. It's incredibly awkward to decorate around. It's also flush with the floor and doesn't have a mantle. 
  • Our furniture is a conglomeration of stuff we've collected over the years, and most of it has at least one story. 
  • The room is an L shape, with a long, thin main portion and a weird little skinny, short lip (with the 2-sided fireplace on the corner). 

Please forgive the grainy phone picture. Nearly finished re-org of shelves.
I have two IKEA Expedit bookshelves, 5x5 and 4x4 (also a matching 2x4 that currently lives in the kitchen), side by side on the main wall. I suppose they could move, but it'd be a pain, so I decided to plan around them. I started with the bookshelves and pulled everything that wasn't a book off them, just as a starting point. Then I went through the house collecting books that didn't have a home (and some that did).

Since I'm a reader and I acquire books like a freshly washed windshield collects splatters during lovebug season in Florida, there tend to be books in every room of my home, stashed in boxes/on furniture/in closets, and randomly dropped here and there near every comfortable surface I might use for reading. I tend to be in the middle of multiple books at once, so many of them have bookmarks, (gasp!) folded page corners, or an ink pen keeping my spot. Unfortunately, I'll get sucked into another one, and I don't always finish all I've started-- especially if I misplace them or start researching a new topic.

All that to say, I found a ton of books that didn't live on the living room shelves. This caused a spontaneous reorganization of the living room shelves. I have two methods to my madness when it comes to shelves. 1) I want books organized in some way so that I can find them when I want them. My memory is not eidetic, but pretty sharp, so I do tend to want to look things up later for exact reference. 2) I want the shelves to be visually pleasing. With the square boxes, I have 41 individual spaces to organize, with the overall larger squares of 25 and 16 spaces, respectively. That gives me lots of options. Yay, for my inner nerd. :)

All the books that hadn't previously lived on the shelves got shuffled into what was there, things got reorganized to accommodate the influx, and we wound up with books filling every cube but three. When I lived in Florida, I had the 5x5 in the living room, and had books in every other cube (13 cubes) in a checkerboard pattern. I had attempted the same thing, here, but wound up filling more cubes initially. When I pulled pretty much everything into the living room, this time, I started to realize the volume of our collection. Considering the office and the master bedroom have their own bookshelves and collections, the quantity in the living room becomes fairly impressive, even to me. I'll do another post with more detail on the bookshelves another day. 

Since the shelves are now mostly filled with books, the ephemera (candles, decorative items, etc) ended up in the guest room, temporarily, until I can decide how to redistribute or store. I like what The Nester says about "shopping" your house, occasionally. I just don't tend to do it. Cutting down on clutter is giving me a better idea of what I really want the decor to be, though, so I'm not really sure how much of what has been removed will return, or at what point. We'll see.

More pictures, and the continuation of the living room on another day. Since this post has been sitting here waiting for me to finish it for more than a week, I'm going to stop here. :)

Much love,

31 July 2013

A Promise Kept: Robertson McQuilkin

I listened to the interviews with Robertson McQuilkin on familylife.com, the website of Family Life Today. If you don't know his story, he was a college president who walked away from his career to care for his wife when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at the age of 55.

There were several points in the interviews (4 sessions-- see link above) where the interviewers were asking difficult questions about how hard things had been, and he just kept responding that he hadn't viewed the circumstances like that. I was thinking, "Why are you trying to make his story something that it isn't?" but the truth is that I'd be asking those questions, too.

What a beautiful story. Beautiful man who loves God and loves his wife. Does the heart good. If you have the time to listen, I recommend it. He also wrote his story in the book "A Promise Kept"-- which is on my "to read" list.

Much love,

15 July 2013

Pinteresting: Graduation Tassel Ornaments

I came across this on Pinterest, one day, and it just so happened that my high school and college tassels were hanging on the lamp in my office. It also just so happened that I had bought 2 sizes of empty glass ball ornaments from Hobby Lobby back in December. I didn't want to just do something with them to be doing something. I wanted to use them for something I really wanted to do, and I thought this was a good opportunity.
Once graduation has passed and you've moved on with life, what do you do with little mementos like these? I'm sentimental enough to not want to just toss or get rid of things like that. Besides, who wants a used tassel with a by-gone year on it? It's not like it'd sell at a charity thrift store.

Well, the source shows the tassel with year inside the ball. Either the mouths of my ornaments are smaller, or my years are larger, or both, because I couldn't do that. So, I did this instead.

Basically, I removed the years from the tassels and added a short chain to hang the years outside the balls. I just strung the tassel rope through the first link of the chain on each. Here's a close-up so you can see the detail, whether you want to or not. :)

Much love,