Goodnight Moon

Well guys, it was my first day back today!!  Weirdly I wasn’t even dreading it.  I used to get a feeling of dread a couple days before the end of a long vacation.  I’d just picture myself going into work and sitting down at my cubicle and somehow that brought me dread.  This time I didn’t want to go back exactly, but at least I didn’t feel paralyzed with anxiety for the whole weekend beforehand.  I’m wondering if it was because instead of imagining going into work, I imagined going into my basement where my desk is.  Hmmm perhaps there is something to that.  Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m constantly a ball of dread and anxiety lately so what’s a little more dread?

Or maybe it’s was just a weekend of board games and hanging out with the little ones alleviated my dread?  Julius was so cute this past week.  He was constantly “snug-a-bugging” me.  “Snug-a-bugging” is where Julius snuggles up against you saying “I’m gonna snug-a-bug you” and gives you hugs.  He was very nice to Patricia too.  She adores him, and thinks pretty much everything he does is hilarious.  The more unexpected and surprising the better.   I like to “talk” for Patricia and voice aloud what I imagine Patricia is thinking.  For example, “Patricia thinks you’re so funny Julius.  She says, ‘Julius why do you have that sock on your head?'”  My commentary and interpretation of Patricia’s silly sounds confuses Julius a little bit and he frequently asks me, “does she talk?”   Sometimes though he goes along with it and answers her.  The other day he was very excited and shouted, “MAMA THE MOON IS OUT!”  This was surprising because it was the middle of the day.  His wild gesticulations at the moon caused Patricia to have a very confused look on her face so I replied, “Patricia is wondering what a moon is Julius”.  He instantly responded, “well Patricia, a moon is when you go to sleep.”

Well I feel like it is only fair that since we showed you Patricia’s room, we’ll show you what Julius’ big boy room looks like now!  For comparison, here was the original layout.

Door view of his room. No more changing table or crib!

Julius got a big boy bunk bed! He likes to alternate where he sleeps for bedtime and naps (on the rare occasions he takes those).

We moved Julius’ reading nook to the window and we moved the mobile from over his bed to over the chair. I think it’s still cute and I’ll probably leave it up until he thinks it’s too baby-ish

 

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The Yellow Paint Saga

I’m trying desperately not to count down the few days I have remaining of my maternity leave.  Will started his leave a week early to try to get Patricia to take a bottle.  This means I’ve got a bit of time to take care of some loose ends.  The biggest loose end is my plan to clear out the basement in two months.  We are refinishing our basement and at the time it seemed like it would be fairly easy for me to reorganize and clear out the basement before I went back to work.  Of course after I decided that, I ended up with lots of other projects to finish – like Patricia’s room, ladies’ night and easter presents.  Fast forward to, well, today and I am making progress!  That being said, I’m not even close to done.  It turns out we have accumulated a lot of stuff over the past 10 years…

I know I shouldn’t challenge myself to finish in a week what I said I would get done in two months, but would I really be Lexi if I didn’t set completely unrealistic and unachievable goals and burn the midnight oil (and my sanity) trying to meet them?  No.  So here we are and I’m getting a bit downtrodden already considering that it’s Monday and I’m definitely not one fifth of the way through.  Shoot, I wasn’t supposed to be counting down days.  Scratch all that.

Well, one of the things I did finish is Patricia’s room.  Or rather I am declaring that Patricia’s room done enough.  Patricia’s room transformation is something we’ve been working on for… 8 months? Maybe 9 months?  You see, Patricia’s room used to be Will’s office.  This meant we had to vacate the office and move Will…. somewhere.  The logical place was the man cave (the room over the garage) which was the previous owner’s home office.  It even has a separate entrance and doorbell!  It took several months to get everything moved over there.  I even had to cut down a set of Will’s Ikea board game shelves to make room for Will’s desk, but now it looks like it has always been there.

So then the next step was to get the room painted and furniture ready.  Well, sit right back and let me tell you the tale of the great yellow paint fiasco of 2020.  Will has done all the rest of the interior painting in the house and he has gotten really good at it.  We usually use Behr or Valspar but during the pandemic we didn’t want to set foot inside a physical store to pick out paint.  I ended up going with this company called ECOS paints which conveniently mails you swatches and paint (and claims to not have harmful vapors but my belief in that is low).  I wanted another bright cheerful room color like Julius’ (which looks like a sunny blue sky) so I decided to paint the room a happy yellow.  After getting a bunch of swatches, I picked a yellow that I liked, got the paint, prepped the walls and trim and Will started painting.  After the first coat the walls looked horrible.  I mean HORRIBLE.  It was super streaky, and just kind of gross and dirty looking.  In the other rooms in our house we have never bothered with primer since the previous owners left all the walls white and we have never had a problem.  This paint job though was very concerning.  On top of that, Will used an entire gallon of paint on a single coat in a room that is only 10×12.  Julius’s room is slightly larger and it only took him a gallon (and two coats from that gallon) for really good coverage.

So I contacted ECOS and to their credit they responded rather quickly that I needed to use a white primer underneath that they were going to give us free of charge.  They also told us that for our room size we would need 2 gallons because yellow is a tricky color and may require more paint than usual.  This surprised me since a couple years ago I painted our bathroom a very pale yellow and we never had any problems with that.  Okay, he was giving me free primer and we’d already committed to this color so I bought 2 more gallons of the paint.  (Did I mention that this paint is NOT cheap??? So we’re up to over $200 in paint at this point, and that doesn’t count the cost of the primer.)

We get the paint and primer and Will starts again.  I was heartened.  One gallon of the primer completely covered the walls, and the horrible streaky yellow paint.  The walls were white as can be.  Surely the lack of primer was the problem.  Will paints on the first coat of yellow.  Gross, nasty, dirty, streaky yellow again.  This time though Will has wisened up.  He is painting very thin coats to minimize streakiness, so he only went through half the can of paint.  Will paints a second coat.  Still ugly, still streaky.  He opens the second can and paints a third coat.  By now it is getting a teensy bit less streaky, but it looks so much worse than any other room in our house.  On top of this, I hold up the swatch and realize that the color on the walls is like 4 shades darker than the swatch.  It looks uncannily like French’s mustard.  I tell Will this.  He completely agrees.  We decide maybe it will look better in the daylight.

This is the disastrous color after all was said and done. To be fair, what sane person picks the color lemon zest for their walls?  My sister called it “big bird yellow”.

It doesn’t.  It still looks streaky and dirty mustard colored.  I tell Will I can live with it.  He says he might as well do the last coat to see if the streakiness goes away.  It doesn’t.   Don’t get me wrong, the streakiness looks way better than when he started but at this point Will is 6 coats in.  Maybe two more gallons and we’d have the solid mustard colored walls of our nightmares dreams.  Will knows I am sad about the walls.  He is also sad about the walls.  He has spent many hours turning this room into the inside of a condiment container.  I tell him again that I can probably live with the walls (but inside I’m thinking, what kind of child will Patricia become if she is forced to live in a room with mustard laden walls?  Will she be driven to madness?)  He tells me, resigned, to go get new paint.  (After being married to me for nearly 10 years he can read my mind.)

We leave the walls for a couple days to mull things over.  Julius tells us he likes the color (which makes me even more suspicious since he can’t tell the difference between blue and yellow).  My mom sees the wall color and immediately gets us swatches from Home Depot and tells us she will pick up paint for us (I guess she also questions the sanity of a child forced to live in a mustard room).  We get the Behr Marquee paint which claims to only need one coat, but I pick a color that they don’t guarantee to work with just one coat.  Will paints it directly over the ugly yellow mustard.  It looks beautiful.  He still has paint left in the can and uses it up for a second coat.  It looks spectacular.  It only took eight coats of paint total, but I’m in love with the color.  Moral of the story?  No idea.

Anyway, without further ado here is Patricia’s room..

Patricia’s door has a lovely pink ribbon that Amy embroidered for some cute photos of Patricia all swaddled and wrapped up with a bow.

View from the entrance. You can tell from here the room is themed around poppies…

I was deliberating on making a quilt myself (something I really didn’t want to do, even though I loved the little quilt Julius was gifted) and Amy saved me by making this beautiful quilt for the wall! I told her I wanted to steal it for myself!

The quilt perfectly matches the mobile I made! (I will post about that someday.)

Another view of the quilt and mobile. I’m obsessed.

This is the one side of the room I finished before Patricia was born. I’ll probably post about some of them later, but I made the painting, curtains, and pillow. I found the nightstand years ago at a thrift store and it’s been sitting in the basement waiting to be refinished.  I painted it white and added the little basket for all her swaddles and baby blankets.

The chair was in the room when it was Will’s office, and we just decided to leave it. It is actually super comfortable for nursing Patricia. It’s more comfortable than the chair I bought especially for that in Julius’ room…

This dresser used to be in the guest room (before it was Julius’ room) and then spent a while at my parents’ house. I painted it white to match the crib and trim. On top sits all her clip on bows and socks.  The wall hanging is actually a holder for more bows. (I’ll probably post about that later too.)  This is also probably the most accurate view of the wall color.  

That ducky coat hanger is a relic from my childhood. It’s perfect for all her tiny hoodies. That yellow duck is about the same shade as the original wall color.

This bookcase used to be all white. I felt it was missing something so this past weekend I added the wallpaper to the back. Now I think it’s perfect…

The changing table is the same one we used for Julius and houses all our cloth diapers (and some backup disposables).  The picture of poppies is from the same book used for our dining room pictures

Patricia chilling in her room.

Posted in Home Improvement | 4 Comments

Bittersweet

Well this is my second to last week of maternity leave.  It’s been nice spending time with Julius and Patricia, and I am sad to “go back” to work and “leave” these munchkins.  I just have to keep reminding myself that it will be nice to communicate with adults other than Will on a daily basis again.  That and not having to be a preschool teacher anymore (another job I’m really not qualified for) make the future bearable.  But boy did time really fly.  I’m sure I’ve said it before but a co-worker once told me that the first year of a child’s life is “a short year with long days”.  Once again he couldn’t have been more right!

Julius’ first year flew by and there are huge chunks that were straight up missing from my memory.  That lack of sleep really takes a toll on you, as I’m sure all you new and seasoned parents are finding out/already know.  Well I am here to tell you not to worry! Those chunks of time are not lost from your memory; they are in there somewhere!  I had made peace with the likelihood that Julius would be an only child and found some solace in the knowledge that at least I wouldn’t have to go through the sleep deprivation and baby blues/ppd again.  But when our little Patricia beat the odds to make us a family of four, I found that this time around I wasn’t in a complete fog the entire time.  On top of that, while experiencing Patricia’s newness I have been able to recall similar happenings and evaporate some of the fog from Julius’ first year.  Just another reason to love Patricia!

One of the things I recalled recently from out of the fog, is that I made a playmat for Julius… but he never used it.  We have this adorable little playmat with a piano attached (an older version of this one).  It’s great because the babies can lie on their backs and bat the toys without the toys escaping.  Unfortunately it doesn’t work as well when the babies start to sit up because they can’t get close enough to the toys while propped.  My friends Maren and Matt made a super cute version for their daughter out of PVC pipe and fittings which got me thinking.  I had some leftover PVC from a hoop greenhouse I made long before Julius was born.  I think by the time I finished my playmat proof of concept Julius was already crawling!  So I left it in a corner somewhere.

Enter Patricia!  The same things happened to Patricia that happened to Julius – she couldn’t get close enough to the toys while sitting up AND it seemed like the little hoop was inhibiting her roll over skills.  That’s when I recalled my half finished project!  Originally I made the playmat proof of concept to be attached to any blanket you had on hand for portability.  I used clip on curtain rings to attach the blanket to the hoops.  I don’t think that’s terribly safe (but you can use your own judgement) so I scrapped that this time around and added some loops to an adorable Monica and Andy receiving blanket** Patricia got from my friend Ka and has already outgrown.  It works great, looks adorable and means she can use the little blanket for longer!  Since I used scrap pvc and recycled ribbon and fabric for this project, it didn’t cost me a thing.  If you have to purchase everything new it would still cost less than $15, a fraction of the cost of buying a play gym.

DIY Play Gym

What you’ll need:

  • 2 – 66″ lengths of 3/4″ pvc pipe
  • 2 – 3.5″ x 74″ strip of cotton fabric (I had to stitch two pieces together to form a long enough piece)
  • scrap 5/8″ grosgrain ribbon
  • scrap 1″ grosgrain ribbon
  • upcycled receiving blanket or 32″x32″ piece of fabric that doesn’t have much stretch
  1. Cut 4 15″ lengths of 5/8″ grosgrain ribbon for ties.
  2. Cut 8 3.5″ lengths of 5/8″ grosgrain ribbon for the playmat loops.
  3. Fold the short end of a 74″ strip of fabric under 1/2″ and 1/2″ again.  Stitch to form a finished edge. Repeat for other edge.
  4. Place a tie (15″ length of grosgrain ribbon) at one end of the 74″ strip.  Overlap the tie over the finished edge of the strip, so the tie extends 14″ out from the fabric strip.  Stitch.
  5. Repeat step 4 for other end.
  6. Fold a 74″ strip of fabric the long ways, right side in, and pin.
  7. Fold it in half and mark 6″ from the center on either side, and 12″ from the center on either side.
  8. Fold one of the 3.5″ lengths of ribbon in half, and insert inside the strip of fabric you pinned in step 3.  Pin the ribbon in place at one of the marks you made in step 4.  Repeat for other 3 lengths of ribbon.

    Make sure to line the unfinished edges up when you place the loop inside for stitching.

  9. Stitch entire length of 74″ strip, leaving 1/2″ seam allowance and backstitching at each loop for reinforcement.
  10. Turn the tube right side out.  Insert a PVC pipe into the fabric tube.
  11. Repeat steps 3-10 for the other ribbons, fabric strip and PVC pipe.
  12. Finish the edges of your 32″x32″ piece of fabric (if not using receiving blanket)
  13. Cut 4 3.5″ lengths of ribbon for loops on the blanket.  (I used 3/4″, but 5/8″ or whatever you have on hand will work just as well.)
  14. Fold under 3/8″ of the end of each loop, then fold in half.
  15. Pin loop to the wrong side of the blanket in a corner along the seamline.  Turn to the front side and stitch along the seam line.  Repeat for other corners and loops.
  16. Cut a length of ribbon 34″ long to secure the play gym.  I used 1″ ribbon, but you could use 5/8″ if that is all you have.

To assemble:

  1. Make sure the PVC piping is centered in its casing.
  2. Thread the tie ribbon on one end of a PVC pipe casing through a loop on one corner of the blanket.  The blanket should have the loop facing the ground.  Fasten with an overhand knot or slip knot (or both like I did).
  3. Repeat step 1 for the opposite corner of the pipe and blanket.  The PVC should gently bow to form the hoop.
  4. Repeat steps 1&2 for the other pipes and corners of the blanket.
  5. To secure the two hoops, stand them upright so they are centered.
  6. Drape the 34″ long ribbon on top of the play gym where the two hoops meet.  Center.
  7. Tie an overhand knot on the underside of the hoops.
  8. Loop the ribbons up above where the two hoops meet, through the two sides of the hoop that haven’t been secured with ribbon.  Tie an overhand knot above the hoops, then finish with a bow.

    Happy Baby!

    Look at that concentration

    Why yes she is chewing on the rocket ship I made!

**Monica and Andy makes some really adorable stuff.  My mother in law bought us a bunch of cute outfits for Patricia from there with several matching little hats.  The hats looked like really strange shaped gnome hats.  My mother in law usually has really good taste, but I thought these were kind of a miss.  They were really weird and ugly, so I didn’t put them on Patricia for more than a couple minutes.  Later, (read: today when I was writing this blog post) I realized that the Monica and Andy hats are supposed to be knotted at the top and not gnome hats at all.  Totally adorable, and not weird and ugly.  I think I have to write them a letter to tell them to pre-knot them or include instructions for idiots like me.

Weird gnome hat

Adorable hat…

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments

Virtual Spa Night

Today is Monday, Monday string beans, all you hungry children come and eat it up!  Julius and I have started practicing days of the week and I have that song in my head (from the Eric Carle book Today is Monday.  I’ve spent the last 30 years thinking that the first page of the Eric Carle book was “Monday spaghetti”.  I even shout MONDAY SPAGHETTI at Will whenever we have spaghetti.  My world is shattered.  On top of this travesty, it has become clear while rereading the book with Julius that the best thing in the entire book is Wednesday’s “ZOOOOP” page which depicts an elephant eating some strange rainbow soup.  It’s okay though because zoooop is now my new favorite word.   Julius and I even had zoooop for lunch (or breakfast as he calls it; maybe I should work on mealtime names next) in honor of Wednesday zoooop.  Hmm.  Perhaps eating zoooop on Monday was a bad decision.  What if every time Julius eats soup he shouts at his partner “MONDAY ZOOOOP”.

On Friday (fresh fish) we had another Virtual Ladies’ Night!  What a fun night.  This one I’ve been thinking of for a while, but only got everything together over the past month. As you probably know I like to host a Galentine’s day event for some of my local lady friends in February.  Obviously I couldn’t do that this year, so I went a different route.   I wanted this to be a fun little surprise for everyone, so I mailed out spa day care packages to my friends without telling them.  I got lots of happy texts when people opened their packages, so I would say mission accomplished.

Picture from my friend Danielle when her package arrived

Virtual Spa Day

Goodies

The packages were filled with nail polish, nail stickers, a nail file, a headband, face mask, a custom tea bag, a tiny lavender beeswax candle, and lavender foot soak.  Making several of the things inside the package helped to keep costs down.  I purchased the nail polish and nail files at Kiko Milano.  The colors were really cute, and everything was very inexpensive.  The nail stickers I made myself with my Cricut.  The headband you saw in last week’s post.  The face mask is the Que Bella brand that is sold at Target.  I’ve used their peel off masks a bunch and I always enjoy them.  They’re also a great price.  The tea bag I made (post coming in the future) and filled with Indigo Punch from my absolute favorite purveyor, Harney and Sons.   The lavender beeswax candle Julius and I made together, so that is coming in a future post.  Finally the foot soak is just packaged lavender epsom salt that I put in their own bags.

Items prepped for my assembly line

Foot soak waiting to go into bags

Polishes packaged

Packaging

I wanted to make the entire package look cohesive, so I used my Cricut to make matching stickers and tags for everything.  For the Epsom Salt that I repackaged into it’s own bag using my vacuum sealer, and the tea bags, I added instructions and ingredients to the back.  I finished it all off by slipping in a little note with a QR code for the hangouts link, and a “spa menu” on the reverse.  The whole Kaboodle was wrapped inside a piece of tissue paper with a matching “Treat yo self” sticker on the front; a favorite mantra from one of my favorite shows.

Bundle of fun

The contents of the spa package

Tea bag front and back

Close up of polish kit

Foot soak front and back

Shipping

All 22 of the packages (including shipping) cost me about the same (or less than) a Ladies’ night party with dinner.  Crazily the shipping cost quite a bit more than the goods inside!  Part of this was because I had to send the packages via ground transport only (USPS Parcel Select) since nail polish has a high flash point and is a flammable material!  For this reason there are a couple rules you have to follow.  When I wrote this post the criteria was that I had to package the nail polish inside another container with padding and material to absorb the nail polish if there was any breakage.  I took care of this with bubble wrap, and more heat sealing bags.  None of the nail polishes were reported damaged so I guess it worked!  Each package also needed to have a “limited quantity” label to indicate it was hazmat.  I was able to print these off onto sticker paper I had at home, I just had to be careful that the tags met all the requirements including color and size.

Each kit I put inside a recycled padded mailer.  I have been saving padded mailers because I hate throwing them out.  For this ladies’ night I went through nearly my entire stash!  Will had told me I was never going to use all of them, so I felt vindicated!   On top of all that I got another chance to use Pirate Ship, which is a cool program my friend Ka told me about.  They find you the best shipping price for USPS and also make sending bulk packages very easy.  As a bonus the program made tracking all 22 packages super easy – since I am crazy and frenetically tracked all the packages.  I shipped the packages out 19 days before the party, and all of the packages arrived before the date!  (Though one I had to submit an inquiry for!)

The Party

The actual Ladies’ Night was lots of fun.  I think in total we had 15 people show up on Google Hangouts, which is an insane amount for an interactive call.  I told everyone before the party that I just wanted to laugh and asked them to come with their best stories.  This meant we took turns listening and telling crazy stories, which worked pretty well for the number of people.  While we listened folks drank tea, put on face masks and did their nails.  The headbands were worn in multiple styles.  Many of us had robes on.  Some dedicated souls took footbaths.  Overall it was great fun, and so good to see everyone’s smiling face. <3

My spa setup

Tea

Candid shot of the “party”.

 

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April Fools?

We had fun celebrating our generic spring bunny themed holiday this past weekend.  Julius has started to remember holidays from years past, which is amazing.  Last year, you may or may not remember, I made Julius all the presents in his Easter basket because it was the start of the pandemic.  At that point in time virtually no stores had curbside pick up so it was very difficult to get things without getting them shipped to you, or risk going into a store.  I was also in my “no buying anything online to save the planet” phase, before I had to let that cave a few months later when we decided not to leave our house.  Julius remembered for some reason that the bunny brought him cookies, so that is what he expected from the Easter bunny again.  I decided this year to make him everything in his basket again and envisioned a puzzle, sugar egg, cookies and stuffed animal.

For the stuffed animal I envisioned using up some of the leftover foam from Julius’ climbing wall padding to make an animal that looked like one of those Squishmallows.  I thought a dragon would look pretty cute and would be fairly easy.  Skip ahead to the day before Easter.  Envision me telling Will at around 7:30pm that I should have just bought a stuffed animal because I hadn’t drafted or made anything.  Will suggested I just skip the stuffed animal.  But how could I skip the stuffed animal?  My son loves stuffed animals.  So I compromised and told him instead of making the dragon I would make a bunny which had a lot less pieces and should be easier.

Skip ahead an hour and I had a pattern drafted to test out.  I was copying the photo of this bunny who is pretty darn cute.  I created the embroidery pattern quickly and looked through my fabric stash for some fabric to use.  I really don’t have a lot of nice stuffed animal fabrics so I decided to use some dark grey fleece for the body, and after much deliberation decided to use some black faux fur for the inside of the ears and the belly.  I cut out my pattern and got to work.

The face came out darn cute so I thought I was in good shape.  That’s when it all went wrong.  It pretty quickly became clear that using the fleece with the faux fur was a bad idea.  The faux fur was stiff.  Not your usual soft stuffed animal faux fur but something more like a beard… At this point I was committed, so I kept at it and sewed the ears together and the body together.  The ears were a nightmare.  The thick faux fur, which was supposed to be the underside of the ear, pulled the fleece and made the ears contort in weird ways.  Okay, bad.  I thought maybe I’ll just go with it and see what it looks like.  At this point Will is downstairs with me, stuffing Easter eggs while I sewed.

It didn’t look too bad, so I decided to stuff it.  This is when I realized that the foam I had was way too stiff.  Obviously even the soft foam core for a crash pad is going to be way firmer than something inside a stuffed animal called a squishmallow…  I started kicking myself for not realizing this and debated using the stiff foam anyway.  Ultimately I decided that giving Julius a rock was probably worse than just stuffing it with ordinary polyester batting.  So I stuffed the whole thing with batting.  It looked ridiculous.  I wish I had taken a picture of it, but I was so annoyed with the whole thing by this point that there was no documentation going on.  Will looked up from his egg stuffing to see what all the cursing was about and burst out laughing.  His comment, “that bunny had the weirdest beard I’ve ever seen”.  Darn it, I’d been paying so much attention to the demented ears and lack of shape due to the foam form missing that I didn’t notice that the too-stiff fur on the chest of the bunny looked like the chest hair of some burly lumberjack.

In retrospect this is when I should have noticed the bunny had chest hair.

Okay so now I’m assessing this lumpy, hairy, lumberjack bunny thing and all I can see is that the underside of the ears is also this too-stiff fur, and not only is it contorting the ears, but it reminds me of armpit hair.  GAH!  So now I have this burly testosterone heavy, hairy, lumpy bunny with the cutest darn face you’ve ever seen.  It is midnight and I am tired.  I spent several more iterations trying to get the ears to stick out less weirdly and the body to be less lumpy.  The ears won’t cooperate.  I decide in a moment of brilliance that I will just cut the ears down and make it into a cat.  Cats have furry tummies, maybe it won’t look so weird.

The end.

Except not really.  I didn’t do the right thing and remake some ear triangles out of leftover fabric because now it’s 12:30.  I just cut off the tips of the bunny ears and set them in as ears.  They don’t really look like cat ears.  So who the heck knows what animal this thing is.  I assess my creation.  Too late to make a new one, it is only mildly disturbing, into the Easter basket it goes.

What was the Easter bunny thinking?

Easter morning Julius looks for his Easter basket.  He had just hunted for Easter eggs and gotten some really great stickers, yogurt raisins, fruit snacks and a few candies in his eggs. He is pretty excited.  He finds the Easter basket and he grabs the bunny/cat/? out of the basket, takes one look at it and literally throws it over his shoulder.  This is the boy who hugs every stuffed animal he has ever gotten.  Confirmation of this creature’s uncanniness.  Will asks Julius, “what was that animal the Easter bunny brought you?”  Julius responds, without even glancing over his shoulder, “some sort of bear”.

That is indeed the bunny/cat/bear behind him after he threw it.

Needless to say, I will not be posting the instructions for the Franken-bear (unless someone begs me).  But you can have my face embroidery file because that was darn cute.

Here’s something that is actually cute:

My little bunny

UPDATE!  Patricia loves the creature!  He has the perfect amount of chest hair that makes him easy for infant fingers to grab!  

 

 

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 1 Comment

Hippies (NSFW, but most of you are WFH anyway)

It probably won’t surprise you that we are the type of parents that don’t use cutesy names for sex organs.  When Julius first noticed his penis and testicles he asked what they were called, and we told him.  That seems like ages ago.  Now the little guy even pees standing up.  (Literally my worst nightmare about being a boy mom.)  One day I just walked in to the bathroom to check on him and he was peeing standing up.  His aim isn’t as horrible as I had imagined, but my imagination is pretty wild.  Basically don’t judge me too hard when you’re finally able to come visit us and all the bathrooms in our house smell like urine and Clorox.

Anyway, I digress.  Using the anatomical name for sex organs, plus Julius’ recent obsession with his, means I have been getting lots of questions like, “where is your penis, Mama?”  “Is your penis hiding?” “Do you have a really tiny penis?” Or most recently “if you don’t have a penis do you pee out your bum bum?”  (That one sent Will off into a fit of hysterical laughter.)  Despite what I’ve told him over and over again, it is obvious from his questions that he believes I have a penis somewhere, but that I’m hiding it from him.  That’s silly though.  As we all know from, well, being a human in the world, if I had a penis I’d be obligated to loudly proclaim so or at least erect some phallic monuments.

On the opposite note, I’ve been putting together the next ladies’ night activity.  I made a lot of the stuff for it so I’ll be sharing some of those projects over the next couple weeks.  First up is a quick headband I made because I loved the one my mother in law gave me for Christmas.  Hair accessories have become a necessity to prevent Patricia from ripping my hair out, or my hair getting in my way.  I haven’t cut my hair since February of 2020.  Ironically I told my hairdresser right before the pandemic that “I wanted to grow my hair out” and not to cut it too short.  I guess I got my wish.  This headband is super simple, and the original company claims you can use it for anything from a headband to a bandeau top…  I wouldn’t go that far, but I like the fact that you can decide how wide to make the headband.  You can scrunch it fairly thin, fold it or wear it wide and stretched out.  And you can wear it parallel to the ground, “hippie style” or like a regular headband.

This is the easiest tutorial I may have ever posted.  The key to making this headband is finding the right fabric.  The ideal fabric I found so far is a 4-way stretch jersey knit, with some spandex.  Knit fabrics, because of the way they are created (exactly like someone knitting with needles), have some horizontal and vertical stretch built in compared to woven fabrics, which just have stretch on the bias.  If you add spandex into the materials it is like adding elastic in, so your fabric will bounce back or recover to the original shape.  From what I can tell the 4 way stretch just means it is really darn stretchy for a knit.  For the headbands I made, they have 70% stretch.  Which means that if I take a 10″ piece of fabric it will stretch to 17 inches.

Versatile Headband

What you’ll need:

  1. Make sure to cut your fabric so the stretchiest part is the 20″ portion. This usually means the 20″ is perpendicular to the selvedge along the “grain”.

    For the Ladies’ night version I only made them 5″x20″ because I ran out of fabric. You can change the size to make them narrower to your liking.

  2. Fold the fabric to form a 10×10 rectangle with the right side in.
  3. Stitch along the edge with 2 open 10″ sides, with .5″ seam allowance.  I used a regular old straight stitch here, even though almost everyone will tell you to never ever do this.  In this case you are almost never going to stretch perpendicular to the grain so it won’t matter.  If it makes you feel better, sew a wide zig zag or straight stretch stitch.
  4. I also didn’t bother to do anything about the unfinished edges.  Technically it is possible that they will unravel.  Since we’re going to be tucking the fabric under at the edges I don’t think this matters.  And the headbands are so darn quick to make that hemming the edges would triple the labor involved.  Again, feel free to serge the edges if you are so inclined, but in this case definitely DO NOT use a straight stitch.  You’ll need something that encompasses the huge amount of stretch.
  5. Tuck under the edges and wear.

    I’ve made dozens of these now.  This one is from when Patricia was 2.5 months old…

 

 

 

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Crumbs

I’m living vicariously through people who are getting vaccinated right now!  So exciting and I’m so happy!  Makes me feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I think much of my pent up frustration and anxiety vanished when our governor announced the dates that the rest of the population becomes eligible.  Once again I am thanking my lucky stars that we are in a country that has the means to vaccinate everyone.  (I just wish the people in this country could not be racist a**holes be nice to each other and embrace differences.)

On top of that great vaccine news, the weather has been gorgeous!  Spring was here in full force this weekend with blue skies and 60 degree weather.  We ate on the porch for the first time this year to celebrate.  It was still a little cold so Patricia wore her hat and sweater.  The hat and lack of a neck really accentuates her cheeks.  Cracks me up she is so darn cute.

Patricia concentrates intenty on her toys.

Julius has discovered lint.  He is fascinated by it.  He discovered some lint between his toes the other day and now he will periodically take off his socks throughout the day to clean out the lint.  It is insanely frustrating.  I’ll be trying to get him to put his shoes on and he’ll sit down and grab his shoes.  The shoes will remind him of his feet.  Next thing I know, he’s pulling off his socks and inspecting his toes for lint.  The other day I shouted in exasperation, “what are you doing?! You need to put your shoes on!”  To which he responded calmly, “just looking for sock crumbs.”

Since the temperature in New England is going to bounce back down again this weekend (I know, sorry) I thought I’d give you the instructions for mini hot cocoa bombs.  I’m sure you’ve seen recipes for hot chocolate bombs all over the interwebs.  They are really adorable, but if you are trying to limit your child’s intake of chocolate, boy are they decadent.  These are no less decadent, just smaller.  They were fairly easy to make after a couple tries.  The first time I tried to make them I made the chocolate too thin and it cracked when I took them out of the mold.  They key for me was to build the chocolate on the sides up in layers using a brush.  I used a mold that I’d gotten on super clearance a few years ago from Joann Fabrics for like $3 that has 8 bit hearts.  With 2 regular chocolate bars I was able to fill the entire tray and still have leftovers. I made these for Valentine’s Day but obviously 8 bit hearts work for any occasion.

Mini Hot Cocoa Bombs

What you’ll need:

  1. Temper chocolate.
  2. When chocolate is in temper, pour a teaspoon full in each cavity and use a silicone brush to gently drag the chocolate up the sides of the mold.  Level the top of the mold using a cake spatula.
  3. Put chocolate into the freezer for 2 minutes to set.  Make sure to maintain temperature of melted chocolate while you wait.
  4. Repeat steps 2&3 2 more times until you have a layer of chocolate about 1/8″ thick.
  5. Gently remove chocolates from the mold.
  6. Each bomb will require two heart halves.  Fill one heart half with 1 tsp of hot cocoa mix.  Top with as many marshmallows are you can fit without falling off (another teaspoon).
  7. Warm a skillet until warm but not hot to the touch. With gloves, take top unfilled half of heart and place on the plate to melt the bottom edge.
  8. Place heart on top of the half with hot cocoa and marshmallows, pushing down gently to adhere. Make sure no marshmallows or hot cocoa are poking out.
  9. Temper some white chocolate.
  10. Place white chocolate in a pastry bag and snip off a very tiny amount so you have a hole about 1 mm wide.
  11. Decoratively drizzle white chocolate back and forth over the heart.
  12. Immediately press one blue, red, orange, green and purple marshmallow into the white chocolate drizzle in a cluster on one “lobe” of the heart.

To eat…
Take ½ cup milk and heat for 1 min and 20 seconds in the microwave until very hot.  Place hot cocoa bomb into mug and pour hot milk over.  If you are impatient like my child you can stir to help it along.  Marshmallows will “explode” out to the surface, which is where the term “bomb” comes from. 

Hot cocoa bomb ready to explode!

Yum, hot cocoa

 

 

 

 

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Burritos for Days

Well… I’m not losing baby weight as fast this time around.  Probably because I keep buying chocolate bars that mysteriously disappear.  Do you remember my blog post about our affinity for oreos?  This is worse, much worse.  Let me put it like this, oreos are the gateway drug, chocolate bars are the hard stuff.  But on the plus side they are vegetarian!

Sometimes I feel like vegetarianism makes it so much easier to consume junk food.  I know a lot of people who have told me “I became vegetarian for health reasons”.  I’m becoming increasingly convinced that they secretly mean, “I became vegetarian in order to eat my body weight in rice every day”.   Since I was vegetarian the entire time I was pregnant with Patricia I am extra careful about getting enough protein.  For many types of meals though that really does mean eating your body weight in starches.  Especially when you’re eating out.  Sometimes the only thing on the menu for vegetarians is a grilled cheese sandwich or a cheese pizza.  (Un)Luckily we have only ordered take out three times in the last year so I don’t have to worry about that.

In lieu of eating out, we’ve also been consuming way too many pre-packaged meals.  Have you ever had those Amy’s Burritos?  They are amazing.  But I hate that they come wrapped in individual little plastic baggies.  In this past year we’ve definitely tripled our trash output from the year before.  This year I’m going to try to get back to 2019 levels of trash, but we have to start with the excessive packaging from convenience products that we never bought before the pandemic.  Anyway I digress.  All this is to say that I made an Amy’s-esque freezer burrito that is a fraction of the price (the Amy’s Burritos are like $3 a piece!) and that I can put into a big reusable bag so I don’t have to waste a ton of plastic.  Solves two problems in one!  They don’t really taste like the Amy’s burritos, but I think they are delicious.  I hope you will too!

Vegetarian Freezer Burritos

Makes 20 burritos

  • 1.5 lbs dry pinto beans
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 finely chopped bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1.5 cups of cheddar cheese
  • 1 6 oz can of olives, chopped
  • 20 9″ flour tortillas

Cook the beans.  I use the instant pot to cook the beans from dry.  Add the beans to the pot, then add water to cover the beans by 2 to 3 inches.  Add salt.  Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes and then let the pressure release naturally.  (This will probably take another 30 to 45 minutes).  Reserve beans and liquid.

On medium high heat saute the pepper and onion in a large saucepan until both are tender, about 10 minutes. 

Add garlic and cook for another minute or so until garlic is fragrant.

Add cumin, chili powder and smoked paprika and cook for 30 seconds.  Add 2 cans of tomato sauce and lower heat to medium low.  Add 2 cups of the cooked pinto beans and 1/4 cup of the liquid from the beans simmer for 10 minutes. 

Grind the mixture up with a food processor or immersion blender, then return to the saucepan.  Add cheese, olives, and the remaining beans (there should be about 5 cups) while the mixture is still hot.  Stir until cheese melts into the sauce.

To make the burritos, spread ½ cup filling in the center of a 9″ tortilla.  Fold the left and right sides in, then fold up the bottom, scooping under the filling and roll.  Makes 20 burritos.

To freeze: Freeze the burritos overnight on a tray, then transfer to a ziplock bag.  To reheat from frozen I cook for 1.5 minutes in the microwave, flip and microwave for 1.5 minutes more.  I should note though that my microwave is from 1995… and  850 Watts.

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She’s so Lucky

Happy Women’s Day!  To all the badass women in my life, those female readers who I don’t know yet, and all the women who have paved the way for us – you rock!  I have yet to take out some preschool appropriate library books for women’s history month, so today we read about leprechauns.  Basically the same thing, except everyone knows that leprechauns got the right to vote before women.

Speaking of wee folk, my wee folk are growing up fast.  I can’t believe Patricia is going to be four months old this week.  Where has the time gone?!  The even stranger thing is that at the beginning of the pandemic Julius was a toddler, and now he’s a little boy.  Every time I look at him I freak out a little bit.  I feel like we imprisoned our toddler for an entire year inside our house away from other little ones and squandered his childhood.  So, yeah, I’m pretty much feeling pandemic normal these days!

Oh shoot, did I just get all dark and emo there?  Must be all the reading about those leprechauns.  Some of those little guys have a dark streak, let me tell you.  If there’s anything I’ve learned today it’s not to take any gold from strangers.  Especially if you’re in the backwoods of Ireland.

No gold?  No need to find the end of the rainbow, we can get you feeling lucky again!  How about this faux gold banner with some four leaf clovers for luck?  Every time I look at mine, I’m reminded how lucky I am in thousands of ways.  Plus who knows, maybe the shine will attract some good-natured leprechauns next week.

Lucky Banner

What you’ll need:

  • 2 12″x12″ sheets of gold glitter cardstock
  • 1 12″x12″ sheet of green glitter cardstock
  • 3 yards of 3/8″ rainbow ribbon
  • Lucky template here
  • Clover template here
  • Cricut Die Cut Machine
  • Scotch tape
  1. Set your machine to “custom” setting and then select “glitter cardstock” as your material.
  2. Mount your gold cardstock on regular or lightweight mats.  Cut and release “LUCKY” letters from mats following prompts (I found this easiest to do by gently bending the mats instead of the paper).
  3. Mount your green cardstock on a regular or lightweight mat.  Cut and release first clover from mat, then turn the paper, so the uncut portion is in the top left and cut second clover.  Release.
  4. Take the end of your rainbow ribbon and enclose it in a piece of scotch tape to form a sort of needle.
  5. Feed scotch tape needle through the first clover from back to front, then through second slit from front to back.  I found it easiest to use a thin flat object like a butter knife to push the tape through the slit.
  6. Repeat for LUCKY and second clover.  Hang and bask in your luck!

    Lucky to be the mama of these silly gooses! (The plural of goose is geese but the plural of silly goose is silly gooses.)

 

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Uh Oh

So…  I may have accidentally turned Julius into a trash hoarder.  Do you remember when I showed you the tutorial for the bow-tie farfalle pasta?  You may also remember that I put the finished pasta in an upcycled Barilla Farfalle box for maximum realism.  Well shortly after I gave him the pasta, Julius discovered the rest of my box of half finished play kitchen ideas.  Some of the other ideas involved making a fake herb shaker from a Mrs. Dash bottle, and a fake mustard squirter from a bottle of French’s.  He commandeered the bottles and put them in his play kitchen, so I could hardly tell him they were unfinished projects.

So a few weeks ago when my in laws came up I noticed he also had a cleaned out mayo container in his kitchen.  The next day he had an empty soap bottle.  Uh oh.  I kept putting the containers into the recycling and they kept ending up back in his kitchen.  That’s when I realized he was raiding the recycling for new toys.  Uh oh.  Then a few days later I asked him to take an empty bottle of cumin over to the recycling can for me, and he said “I really love it Mama, can I put it in my play kitchen?”  Uh oh.  That one I let him keep in the kitchen.  But then he did the same thing with the cinnamon and chili powder containers that ran out a few days later.  The “toys” didn’t stay in the kitchen either.

The spice containers he carried around everywhere as if they were treasured toys.  He would pedal them around in the back of his tricycle and bring them into bed with them.  I’m not making this up; this recycling affection is somehow a level worse than Forky from Toy Story 4.  He eventually forgot about the spice containers (I found them neglected under the couch the other day) but that wasn’t the end.  Over the next couple weeks I found a box of oatmeal, and a can of black beans show up in his kitchen.  I am happy that he is imaginative and likes to give new life to recycled items, but I had to put my foot down at the black beans (you know, for safety reasons).  He complied and returned the black beans to the recycling can, but then just this week I saw used shampoo containers show up in his kitchen, and I’m not even sure how those fit into the kitchen scenario.

I don’t have the heart to squash his creative recycling play, so I guess I’ll just have to keep sneaking things back into the recycling bin when he doesn’t notice.  I really shouldn’t be surprised that the son of a self described crunchy hippie likes to make toys out of garbage.  Outwardly I’m concerned, but deep down I’m a little bit proud.

I was going to show you another Valentine craft today, but instead let me show you a favorite activity of Julius that has to do with upcycling.  Much like what happened with newborn Julius, I couldn’t get newborn Patricia to latch so I ended up pumping in the hospital.  In the hospital they give you these teeny tiny colostrum bottles to pump into.  They work for about a day until your supply increases and then you need a couple of them every pumping session at least.  So at the end of your hospital stay you’re left with 20 of these teeny colostrum bottles and nothing to do with them (except discard them).  For both Julius and Patricia we also were given plastic syringes for feeding which also became useless quickly.  Well, like Julius, I can’t throw out something that I might find a good use for.  So I took the bottles and syringes home and figured that worst case I could recycle them at home.  Luckily, the first week I was home from the hospital, I came up with an idea for them.

Toddler Color Mixing Water Play

What you’ll need:

  • blue, red and yellow food coloring
  • small clear plastic bottles of various sizes (I used colostrum bottles)
  • plastic eye droppers (I save these from old infant vitamin bottles)
  • plastic syringes (I hope I don’t need to say this but make sure these do NOT have needles…)
  • water
  • a plastic tray or aluminum baking sheet
  1. Fill 3 containers with a few teaspoons of water.
  2. Add a couple drops of red, blue and yellow to each of the 3 bottles respectively.
  3. Allow child to experiment.  Julius liked to mix the colors with the syringe and see what color each would make.  He also liked to move the colors between the bottles with the syringe and eye dropper.

Little scientist.

Check out how cool those colors look!

Julius 2 hair cuts ago… did I mention that filling syringes is great motor skill practice too!

Different day, hair even more Einsteinian. Look at how excited he is!

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