Snack Attack

Happy Earth Day!

Julius was dancing to the Captain Planet theme song this afternoon and it made me smile.  I think we all need to channel our inner Greta Thurnberg and more openly speak out for our planet, not just today but every day!  I want my child to be able to experience the same wonderful world I did with the same assortment of beautiful plants and wildlife, abundance of food and clean water and safe breathable air.  Oh and bees, did I mention bees?!

Among everyone I talk to on a daily basis there is a strong opinion that “my actions won’t offset the actions of the rest of the world.”  To that comment I always respond, “if everyone thinks that way, they certainly won’t.”  We all have to stop thinking in such defeatist terms.  Just one person role modeling small actions to save the planet can set off a cascade of others becoming green, even if it is in small ways.  For example, just last week one of the parents at daycare asked about Julius’ diapers.  They are having another child and wanted to know what kind of diapers we use and where we got them.  Whether or not they choose to go cloth, you cannot believe the joy I had in sharing that note about diapers!  Then this morning my co-worker told me he uses the reusable snack bag I made him for Christmas every single day.  I gave him a high five (and probably would have given him a bear hug if there wasn’t a crowd in the hallway).  I can’t make this stuff up, you really can make a difference.  Think of what you do to reduce your impact on our beautiful planet and spread the word!  No action is too small!

So that snack bag I mentioned?  You may remember that I mentioned after Christmas that I made my friends at work reusable utensil sets!  Well I also made them matching reusable snack bags to go along with them!  They are similar to the lunch skins sandwich sized bags and are made with food safe PUL (I used Eco PUL).

The utensil/bag set I made for Roger and Amy!

Reusable Snack Bag

What you’ll need:

  • 16″x7″ Eco PUL or other food safe PUL
  • 16×7″ cotton fabric of your choice
  • 7″ of 3/4″ velcro hook and loop fastener
  1. Fold cotton fabric, right sides together, into a 7×7″ pocket with a 2″ flap.  Pin along sides of pocket.  Repeat for PUL.
  2. Using a size 10 needle, stitch sides of bag (not the flap side) using 1/4″ seam allowance.
  3. Turn the cotton pocket right side out and place inside the PUL pocket.  Pin along the top front of the bag.  Stitch.
  4. Turn the bag right side out (cotton outside, PUL inside).  Mark where the velcro needs to go.
  5. Open the bag out again, stitch hook side of the velcro in place (only through cotton).  Turn bag right side out again.
  6. Fold the sides of the flap under 1/4″ on the cotton and the PUL  so the unfinished edges of PUL and cotton are sandwiched inside.  Pin and stitch.
  7. Pin the top front of the bag.  Stitch.
  8. Fold the unfinished edge of the flap down twice to form a double fold hem.  Pin and stitch.
  9. Stitch the loop tape portion of the velcro to the edge of the flap.
  10. Snack away!

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll think about all the ways you can help lower your environmental impact this Earth day and every day.  Please tell me in the comments below what you do to reduce your impact to Mother Earth and you will be entered into a random drawing to win a reusable utensil and sandwich bag set!  Drawing will be held on May 20th.

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 4 Comments

Towering Tots

I am so excited to share this project with you today!  It is a project that I have been planning for a while now, and I’m really happy with how it came out.  Of course, it all started with a habit of Julius’.  Julius just LOVES to be part of the action (who doesn’t?).  He wants to help me clean the house, put away dishes, wash the high chair, put on makeup (yes really, so next time my make up looks like a 2 year old did it, maybe don’t judge too harshly).  Especially, he wants to help me cook and work in the kitchen.  The biggest issue with this desire is that he is far too short to reach the countertops or frankly even see the countertops.  This means he is constantly whining to be picked up and held while I am doing any task in the kitchen.  Enter the tot tower.

The “tot tower” or “learning tower” is basically a step stool with a railing surrounding the second step so your toddler doesn’t accidentally topple off it.  Some of them are simply modified Ikea step stools.  Others allow you to adjust the second step depending on the child’s height so it can be used for many years.  While I’m not sure the step stool option is less stable since it should be resting against a cabinet anyway, I wanted the option of the adjustable second step.  Except for the dowels and the screws, I did not purchase a single piece of wood for this project.  I did attempt to put the whole thing on locking casters so it would be easier to move around the kitchen, but the casters were a pain to lock and made the whole thing feel less secure so I scrapped them.

Julius LOVES the tot tower.  I demonstrated how to use it and he had no problem getting up and down from the tower.  Most often we bring it in the bathroom for him to wash his hands and then I move it to the kitchen for him to help me make food or watch me cook.  The funniest use of the tower I’ve seen yet is when Julius was eating some goldfish, a favorite snack of Dany.  In the past Julius has had issues with Dany stealing snacks right from his hands while he is walking around.  Last week, Julius climbed his tot tower and ate his goldfish from the tower, laughing at Dany.  (Poor Dany.)

Julius avoiding Dany the snack stealer.

Check out this dance

The tower took me 4 or 5 days after work to complete (including drawing up the plans), but I’m by no means an experienced woodworker.  Someone with more skill would probably be able to complete the project in less time.

Tot Tower

What you’ll need:

  • #8 1 1/2″ wood screws
  • 4 – 30″ 1×4’s
  • 4 – 15.5″ 1×3’s
  • 2 – 10″ 1×3’s
  • 4 – 17″ 2×2’s
  • 1 – 7″x13.75″x3/4″
  • 1 – 7.75″x13.75″x3/4″
  • 1 – 10″x15.5″x3/4″
  1. Cut all pieces to size as mentioned above.  If you were smart, you’d probably sand all pieces first and round edges. I was not smart, so I didn’t do this until much later.
  2. Assemble each side of the tot tower following the diagram above.  You’ll want to keep the two 1×4’s parallel while you screw on the 10″ 1×3 to the top, followed by the 17″ 2×2 at the bottom (make sure the 1×4’s only span 10″ on one end of the 17″ 2×2).  Finally attach the second 2×2 in a similar manner but below the 7″ line.
  3. Repeat for second side of tot tower, making sure to make it a mirror image of the first.
  4. Attach the two sides of the tot tower together using the 4 15.5″ 1×3’s.  3 will be attached to the back (see diagram portion marked back view) and the 4th will be attached to the top front to complete the railing (see diagram portion marked top view of railing).
  5. (Note I did it in this order, but if I were to do this again, I might do this step before the next step because it was very difficult to screw the unattached tot tower pieces together). Attach the 7″x13.75″x3/4″ step to the 7″ extension of the 2×2’s.
  6. Attach the 7.75″x13.75″x3/4″ riser to front of the 4 2×2’x.
  7. Using a 1 1/8″ auger bit, drill 3 holes on each of the 4 30″ 1×4’s at 11″, 14″ and 17″ from the floor.
  8. Using a band saw, remove 3/16ths of wood from the dowel along it’s length to create a flat surface.  Cut the dowel into 2 15.5″ segments.
  9. Also using a band saw, cut corners out of the 10″x15.5″x3/4″ platform board to specifications marked in diagram labeled “platform”.
  10. Sand everything, making sure to round corners everywhere.
  11. If desired, stain and finish with wax/poly or paint.
  12. Insert dowels into holes at desired height, with flat portion up.
  13. Place platform board on top of dowels.
  14. Drill a pilot hole through the top of the platform board into the center of the dowel below.  Use screw to secure.  Repeat with second dowel.

I filled the empty 1 1/8″ holes with champagne corks!  My co-worker gave me a bunch of champagne corks and I finally found something to do with them!  They fit perfect and don’t fall out, and I can move them once I move the dowels down.

Watch Julius climb the tot tower!

Posted in Home Improvement | 2 Comments

Mug Shots

Will and I put an offer on a house last week.  We didn’t get the house and the whole experience was very stressful as there were several offers and we were the runner-up to the winning offer.  I’m not kidding when I tell you that I was a nervous wreck and didn’t eat for two days!  It felt as if we were gambling away money we didn’t have.  (I guess that is technically what we were doing.)  The process brought us down to Earth and made us realize that we don’t need a new house any time soon.  We love our house!  We are lucky to have such a wonderful house!  The flat, quiet yard, the nice dry basement with my work shop and our breezy screen porch all make me smile.  Plus, it is close to our amazing daycare and only 4 minutes from the grocery store!  Besides, I still haven’t finished all the curtains or renovations I’ve planned (we’ve only lived here 8 years, cut me some slack…)  On top of all that we started realizing that in order to stage our house we’d have to move a lot of stuff into storage.  Intimidating.

You know what isn’t intimidating?  Setting up my new Cricut machine!  I’d been putting it off for a while, but the advent of Danycon made me finally jump into action and get it working.  If you don’t know what a Cricut is, it is a die cutting machine – it basically cuts/embosses/writes on a variety of mediums using a variety of tools.  You adhere your medium to the mat (which has a sticky front), feed the whole mat into the machine, select a pattern and then send the pattern to the machine to be cut/embossed/written.  The machine really is plug and play, and the software is extremely intuitive.  I am floored at how easy it is to use.  For its maiden voyage I decided to make a stencil for the coffee mugs below using the Cricut to cut out some letters from vinyl (this vinyl was just some leftover shelf paper I’ve used for both this project and this project).  From start to finish the stencil cutting took me a total of 30 minutes from the setup of the machine and designing the pattern to finally cutting and weeding the stencil.  You read the correctly – 30 minutes from unboxing to working stencil.

It is so easy to use that I bet it would deceive someone into thinking that the similar looking 3d printer or embroidery machine would be just as easy to use.  I believe I understand now why my co-worker who owns a Cricut was flabbergasted when I explained how complicated it would be to design and embroider a pattern using my embroidery machine and embroidery software.  I really hope he believed me and didn’t think I was just brushing him off!  The Cricut though – anyone can do it!  Can you operate a printer?  Yes?  Then you can operate the Cricut.  I promise I’m not being paid or given anything to evangelize Cricut (though maybe I should be)!  I just know a good user interface when I see it.

If you don’t have a Cricut you can cut out the lettering yourself using an X-acto knife as I did in this post.  It will take you quite a bit more time.

I sure need some coffee…

Stenciled Mugs

What you’ll need:

  • glass paints (I used folk art multisurface)
  • spouncer or paint brush
  • White coffee mug (I got mine from the Dollar Tree)
  • contact paper
  • Cricut die cutting machine or X-acto knife
  1. Cut stencil out of vinyl using cricut or X-acto knife.  The stencil should read right side up when viewing the non-sticky side of the stencil.
  2. Remove the area where you would like your stencil to show.  For the ease of stencil removal and artistic liberty I completely removed the center of o’s, e’s, a’s and other closed letters. 
  3. Stick the stencil to the coffee mug. 
  4. Use the spouncer or a paint brush to completely fill in the negative space of the stencil.
  5. Remove the stencil gently.
  6. Let dry for 1 hour then place mug on a cookie sheet in a cold oven.  Turn oven on to 350 degrees F.  When the oven reaches temperature, bake for 30 minutes then turn oven off and let glasses cool down slowly as the oven cools down.  When the oven is at room temperature it is safe to remove the mug.  Mug should be top rack dishwasher safe for occasional use or hand washable.*

*Note:  The first year I followed these instructions to cure the project and the corgi on the mugs wore off quickly in the dishwasher.  This year I tried the above method from here.  They seem to be fairing better in the dishwasher so far.

I’d like to give a shout out to the amazing support I received from a helpful gentleman at ASmallOrange, my hosting provider, while I was writing this blog post.  You went above and beyond!

 

 

 

 

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Danycon 2019

I have the silliest Julius story.  The other day he kept pointing to the counter and going ah-lah-lah.  I took everything off the counter, handing it to him.  He eventually gave up and had some milk.  After Julius had been playing with his toys for 30 minutes or so I asked Alexa to set a timer for me.  He bee-lined back to the kitchen counter and started pointing and saying ah-lah-lah again.  I finally realized he wanted to talk to Alexa.  Poor Julius can’t quite pronounce Alexa to Alexa’s understanding level (mine either) but he did enjoy Alexa saying hello to him.  I put him back on the floor and he again proceeded to point and say ah-lah-lah.  This time however, he did a little dance.  I finally realized that he wanted Alexa to play music.  When I asked her to play music he was overjoyed and danced around like a crazy man.

Do you know what always has me dancing like a crazy man?  Danycon!  This Danycon was the BEST YET.  We had such a fun time getting to see our families and playing board games.  Will even updated the program to include categories of games and suggestions for each time slot.  This definitely helped us play many more games than previous years.  Below are some highlights from Danycon 2019!

Welcome Bags

Danycon wouldn’t be complete without Danycon swag!  In addition to the embroidered bags I gave away (my favorite ones yet) I also appliqued the Danycon logo onto shirts this year.  I think they are my favorite Danycon shirts yet!  (This is getting to be a trend.)  The game we gave away this year was “Liar’s Dice”.  The sets were very inexpensive to make (and not nearly as time consuming as last year’s copies of Secret Hitler.  Per set we simply needed to purchase 25 dice (5 sets of 5), and 5 plastic cups (I got mine in sets of 4 from the dollar store).  Finally I printed instructions from bgg.  I used these instructions and tweaked them to fit on half a page.  The total was less than $4 a set (and could have been about half that if I had purchased dice in advance).

Friday

Dinner

  • Frozen Pizza Extravaganza!  Since people were arriving at different times I bought 10 different types of frozen pizza and we kept putting them in the oven until everyone was full. 

Saturday

Breakfast

Lunch

  • Soup and sandwiches – I made random vegetable soup and laid out an assortment of deli meats, cheeses and breads. 

Dinner

Sunday

Breakfast

Lunch

  • Salad and sandwiches (everyone just ate leftovers)

Dinner

Tournament

For the tournament this year we did games that were “multiplayer solitaire” basically games that could play any number of people.

Final Tournament Standings

Fold it

We used the same set of 4 cards (2 easy 2 difficult).  For each card, each player had to hit the lap button on Will’s stop watch to record their time.  Each player’s total time for all 4 cards was recorded and then they were ranked by lowest time (#1) to highest time (#8)

Take it easy

Lexi drew tiles and wrote down the order each one was drawn so everyone competed with the same set and same order.

Railroad ink

Will just read off the die results from the first game in the same order so everyone had an equivalent game.

Everyone’s place in each game was summed and became their final standing.  This caused a battle between two of our former Danycon champions – Erin and Bailey!  They went head to head in one round of Galaxy Trucker!

A grueling flight through space for the championship face off!

Surprises

This year was full of surprises!  Mark and Erin put together a truly horrifying escape room!  It was the coolest thing EVER!  And after seeing that dead skeleton in my bed I had nightmares for days!  Will and I surprised everyone with a DnD adventure that we created with some fun twists!  Will and I intend to publish it at some point on here so you can run it yourself, so I won’t ruin any surprises!  The key though is that you need two separate groups with two different DMs.  We’ve already come up with some great ideas for the next adventure at Danycon IV!

This haunts my nightmares!

Cousin Love!

Finn loved Dany! And Dany loved Finn!

Danycon 3 Photo!

Posted in Culinary Delights, Parties | Leave a comment

Tote-ally Amazing Bag

Right now I’m procrastinating.  I’m putting off lugging a quarter of a ton of wood to the attic as flooring.  So I’m writing this blog post a little early (though you won’t read it for another couple days).  I know what you’re thinking, the Colton household has amazing Saturday nights, count me in for the next lumber haul.   To be completely honest, the lumber lugging procrastination is just additional procrastination from pillow making, which in turn is just additional procrastination from cutting wood for my next Julius project (not related to the attic wood).  When you’re like me you have artful levels of procrastination that you label as “to do lists”.

One thing I actually did NOT procrastinate on this year was Danycon prep.  I made the shirts almost a week before Danycon started (instead of the day before) and I finished the bags I think a solid night before guests arrived.  Though I may be remembering wrong, because I do have a vague shadowy memory of me staying up way too late before Danycon started, though I think it involves cleaning all our bathrooms.  The bags I made this year I am really proud of.  I’ve liked all of the bags that I’ve made for Danycon, but these ones are extra fun.  I based the pattern off the bag I got when I became a member of the NRDC.  I know what you’re thinking, the NRDC sends out junk mail and tote bags, isn’t that self defeating?  Yes it is, but they don’t.  They only send you the tote bag if you check a box and everything else is email.  I battled internally for a while if I should check the box for the tote bag and waste the resources I was donating to protect.  What tipped me over the edge was the bee on the bag.  I guess bees are my weakness, I’ll log that away for later when I discover my super powers.

Anyway, the bag I got from the NRDC is actually a pretty nice bag.  It’s a big strong tote bag that you could use to cart books from the library, groceries from the market or board games from your cubicle.  I turned my favorite Dany silhouette into a machine embroidery pattern for the shirts and bags this year.  I think it really makes the bags look complete, and gives you that subtle pop of corgi you’re always looking for.

Danycon bags waiting for their owners!

Sturdy Canvas Tote Bag

What you’ll need:

  • 18″x40″ rectangle of canvas fabric
  • 44″of 1″ thick cotton webbing (cut into 2 22″ pieces)
  • materials for embroidery (if desired)
  1. Serge each 18″ edge of fabric to prevent unraveling.
  2. Fold canvas rectangle in half to form an 18×20″ rectangle.  Stitch down both sides adjacent to the fold with 1/2″ seam allowance.
  3. Serge along these two sections to reinforce.
  4. Mark a 3.5″x3″ rectangle in each of the bottom corners of the bag (3.5″ side is into the seam allowance, so effectively creating a 3″x3″ square within the non seam allowance portion of the bag).
  5. Cut out rectangles.  Starting with one side of the bag, pull the points of the two negative space rectangles you just created apart so that the two seams meet and the unfinished edges line up.  Pin.  Repeat for second corner of bag.
  6. Stitch along the areas you just pinned.  Serge along each seam to reinforce.
  7. At the opening of the bag, turn the fabric over 3/4″.
  8. Mark at the 5.5″ mark and 6.5″ mark and the 11.5″ and 12.5″ mark along the top edge of the bag.  Place one edge of one length of cotton webbing inside the 5.5″ & 6.5″ marks, so the edge touches the serged edge of the flap.  Pin. Ensuring the strap is not twisted, place second edge of cotton webbing inside the 11.5″ and 12.5″ marks.  Pin.  Turn bag over and repeat.
  9. Stitch 1/2″ from the top of the bag and again 5/8″ from the top of the bag, encompassing the cotton webbing.
  10. Turn bag right side out.
  11. Decorate as desired!
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Luck of the Irish

Happy (belated) Saint Patrick’s Day!  As you know, everyone’s Irish on St. Patty’s Day, but being legitimately Irish my family feels inclined to celebrate with corned beef and cabbage.  When I was a kid I remember leprechauns wrecking havoc in the classrooms by turning chairs topsy turvy and hiding gold coins or a pot of candy in the classroom.  Maybe they smelled my Irish blood.  This year the leprechauns must have sensed that Julius is 1/32 Irish so they decided to pay him a visit.

I decided to make Julius a silly shamrock stuffed toy, which Will dubbed “Lucky”, from some green velvet I had leftover from the hat shop.  It was fun making the pattern for the embroidered face.  If you’d like to make yourself a shamrock (with or without a face) make sure you do a good job clipping around all the curves.  For Julius’ pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow I used a plastic cauldron I have from halloween, stuffed with gold paper.  Because we don’t give Julius (much) chocolate yet the pot of gold had some rainbow stickers and finger paints from the Dollar Tree.  The rainbow was made from streamers also found at the dollar store.

Lucky Stuffed Shamrock

What you’ll need:

  • 14″ of 1.5″ wide ribbon (for bow tie)
  • black and white embroidery thread (optional)
  • 1/2 yard of green velvet
  1. Cut out pattern (make sure you flip the pattern so you get a front and back piece, or the shamrock stem will not line up).
  2. Embroider eyes and smile using pattern here and a 4″x4″ embroidery hoop if desired.
  3. Pin shamrock right sides together.
  4. Stitch around edge of shamrock, leaving a 3″ gap on the flat part of the bottom-most leaf on one side.
  5. Clip curves and indents, nearly to the stitching.
  6. Turn right side out.  Stuff.  When satisfied with stuffing, close with an invisible stitch.
  7. Cut ribbon into 10″ and 3.5″ segments.
  8. Fold the 10″ ribbon so the two unfinished ends overlap in the center.  Fold under the ends of the ribbon so it forms a sort of triangular shape.  (See picture.)  Stitch through overlapping ends to hold together.  This is the back of the bow tie.
  9. Pinch the middle of the ribbon to form a bow tie shape.  Stitch from one of the pinch to the other to secure.  This is the front of the bow tie.
  10. Fold the 3.5″ segment of ribbon so it is 3/4″ wide and ends of ribbon are in the middle.  Press (under scrap fabric).  This will form the bow tie “knot”.
  11. Fasten unfinished edge of bow tie knot to the bow tie with a couple stitches. 
  12. Wrap the segment of 3/4″ wide ribbon around the bow tie center, so the other unfinished edge ends at the back of the bow tie.  Stitch to secure.
  13. Attach bow tie to shamrock above stem using needle and thread.
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Take a Swag

This past weekend was Danycon 2019.  Everyone has left on their flights now, so sitting at home in the quiet is quite bittersweet.  Will and I think it was our best Danycon yet!  I, of course, will have several posts about Danycon and Danycon prep in the coming weeks.

Before I tell you about today’s project I have to relate a cute Julius story to you.  In the past, we’d know Julius was awake and ready to get up because he’d cry and wail.  In the past month or so, however, he’s started becoming a much more cheerful waker.  Usually he’ll babble a bit, and if we don’t come get him, he’ll raise the decibel level until we come in.  The other day, though, when I was home alone with Julius I woke up to the sound of him singing!  He was saying the word “ba” at different pitches.  I’m not sure how long he was doing it for, but I listened to him for a few minutes before deciding to go in and thank him for the serenade.  It was completely adorable.

In a complete non-sequitur, remember that chocolate mishap I mentioned occurring during the last ladies’ night?  The one where chocolate got on the floor, ceiling and curtains?  I told my friend (who accidentally caused the chocolate fiasco) that there was no need to clean the chocolate off the curtain, because now I finally had an excuse to make the the kitchen curtain I’d been putting off for so long.  She didn’t believe me, but I really was telling the truth!  I’d bought the fabric to make new kitchen curtains at least 3 years ago (definitely well before Julius was born).   The weekend after the mishap I buckled down and made the curtain.  I think it came out pretty good, and it was actually very easy to make.

Draped Swag Curtain

What You’ll Need:

(For a 42.25″ wide window*)

  • 1 yard of home decorating fabric
  • 1 yard of lining fabric
  • 4 curtain clip rings
  • 4 knobs
  • 4 hangar bolts in bolt thread size of knobs
  1. Create a 70″x 13″ rectangle of home decorating fabric by matching patterns and stitching together (or if you intend to make more than one curtain like me, use more than 1 yard of fabric and cut one continuous 70″ long strip)
  2. Create a 66″x 9″ rectangle of lining fabric by  stitching together (or if you intend to make more than one curtain like me, use more than 1 yard of fabric and cut one continuous 66″ long strip)
  3. Press 1.5″ under of every edge of decorating fabric.
  4. Miter corners.
  5. Line lining fabric up with one long edge of decorating fabric (note I used an extra 1/2″ of seam allowance so in my picture the lining fabric isn’t perfectly lined up with the decorating fabric, but yours should be).  Start the lining fabric 1/2″ before the mitered fold line.  Pin.  Repeat for 2 other sides of fabric, leaving one short end opened. Stitch.
  6. Turn right side out and press the unfinished short end of the lining fabric under so only the fold shows.  Flat catch stitch the short end of lining to the selvedge of the decorating fabric.
  7. Insert 4 hangar bolts in or above your window frame so the spacing is equidistant.  You will probably have to pilot drill a hole so the screw end of the hangar bolt goes in easily.  Use the knob to turn the screw into the hole.
  8. Mark your curtain at 6.75″, 25.25″, 43.75″, 62.25″.
  9. We left 3.5″ in between each swag to fold and clip onto the curtain hook.  Fold at each mark, keeping the lining on the inside of the fold.  After the fold is about an inch deep, fold in the fabric on either side of the fold making a pleat.  Adjust so this second set of folds sits about .5″ below the first fold.  Clip here.  Repeat for other markings.
  10. To hang curtain, unscrew knob, place curtain ring over hangar screw and screw knob in place to secure.

*If you would like to make your curtain wider for a wider window, simply measure the width of your window, then calculate the number of knobs you will use.  Your final curtain length will be (1.11 * width/(#knobs – 1) + 3.5″) * (#knobs – 1) + 10″.  You can then add 3″ length for the decorative fabric in step 1 (1.5″ seam allowance per side) and 1″ length for your lining fabric in step 2 (.5″ seam allowance). In step 8, you will mark your curtain at the same intervals, adding 18.5″ until you reach the end.

 

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Biblical

Julius is getting a lot better at verbal communication.  I can understand several words he says like “Shhhh” for “sheepy”, “pls” and “help” (used interchangeably) for “please help” and “yas” for “yes”.  This is probably too much information, but I taught him the baby sign language word for poop the other day, thinking if he doesn’t start talking, he’ll never be able to be potty trained, and he wildly made the poop gesture today.  Thinking maybe he needed to poop (and maybe was learning from the kids at daycare) I put him on the toilet where he did genuinely look like he was attempting to poop for several minutes.  Eventually though he got bored and wanted to go back to playing, so all bets are off on what really happened there.

On the list of things Julius is good at right now we can add eating.  (Like his parents I guess.)  He will eat 2/3 of an adult sized meal for every meal (and more than we usually eat for breakfast).  I just love his chubby little belly and I can’t get enough of tickling it and poking it.  I was a single parent for 5 days last week while Will was out of town and I guess I poked his belly button so often that he decided to start poking mine.  If I ever say the word belly (for instance “do you want to pet Dany’s belly” or “wash your belly” Julius will try to poke my belly button.

One bad thing about that boy’s belly (honestly there are no bad things about the belly) is that it does seem to collect debris.  While in the past my favorite bibs were slightly absorbent because purees and liquids were his main diet, his solid foods bounce right off those bib styles.  My favorite style now is one that is waterproof with a pocket!  My own version is below and really easy to make!

Waterproof Bib with Pocket

  • 1/2 yard of PUL fabric
  • 1.5 yards of 1/2″ single fold bias tape
  • 1/3 yard of 1/4″ double fold bias tape
  • 3″ of 3/4″ velcro (hook side)*
  • 3″ of 2″ velcro (loop side)
  • Pattern here

* instead you can just use the hook side of the 2″ velcro.

  1. Cut out bib and pocket from PUL fabric.
  2. Unfold the double fold bias tape and pin one unfinished edge to top of pocket’s unfinished edge.  Stitch along the first fold.
  3. Fold the bias tape over and around the unfinished edges and make sure third fold secures the unfinished edge of the bias tape inside.  Pin and stitch close to the first set of stitching on the right side of the bib.
  4. Trim the ends of the bias tape to match the shape of the pocket.
  5. Pin the wrong size of the pocket on top of the right side of the bib, lining up the points of the pocket with the marks on the pattern. The pocket should bow out slightly.
  6. Unfold the single fold bias tape and pin one unfinished edge to bib’s unfinished edge, all the way along the bib. 
  7. When you get back to where you started, fold the end and place it under the first unfinished edge.  Stitch along the first fold.
  8. Fold the bias tape over and around the unfinished edges and make sure it secures the unfinished edge of the bias tape inside.  Pin and stitch close to the first set of stitching on the right side of the bib.
  9. Pin the 3/4″ hook velcro tape on the outside of one side of the bib as shown.  Stitch along the outside of the tape.
  10. Pin the 2″ loop velcro tape on the outside of one side of the bib as shown.  Stitch along the outside of the tape.

    Maiden voyage was a success! Raspberries:0, Bib:1

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The Pink Lunchbox

So let me tell you a story.  When we first started bringing Julius to daycare all we were bringing for him to consume was milk.  So I randomly grabbed the first lunch bag I could reach, threw his bottles in with an ice pack and brought it to daycare.  I took the bottles out when we got to daycare and placed them in the fridge.  No one really saw the bag so I barely gave any notice to the fact that the lunch bag was pink with purple and white polka dots.  I thought the bag was kind of cute.

As Julius got older we brought more food items for Julius, always in the same lunch bag.  By now I had noticed that it was pink, but again it did not bother me.  I told myself that the lunch bag was mine anyway, since Julius was not packing the lunch himself or unpacking it himself.

Fast forward to a month ago when Julius started in the toddler room.  In the toddler room the toddlers keep their lunches in a lunch bag with an ice pack.  They take their own lunch bag out at lunch and eat their lunch (with help of course).  Putting his pink lunch bag on the shelf the first time I noticed that no child had a bag that is any color other than blue or green.  By now Julius has been in daycare for 8 months with the same pink lunch bag.  Not only is he the only child with a pink lunch bag but he is the only child in cloth diapers.  Connection?  Definitely not, but my brain imagined me being judged by all the other parents as “the hippie mom who makes her son to use a pink lunch bag”.  All of a sudden Julius’ pink lunch bag started to bothered me.  Honestly, it isn’t even that great a lunch bag.  It only barely fits his lunch and it isn’t anything special – why not trade it out for a larger one?  I briefly considered changing his lunch bag over to one of the other ones I have downstairs.  But you see the conundrum now, don’t you?

It is twofold.  First off I am a hippie mom and (though it wasn’t intentional) I do make my son use a pink lunch bag.  I can’t think of a reason to change, when it isn’t hurting anyone.  Secondly, I am a feminist and I don’t want to add to the gender stereotyping of colors. Changing Julius’ lunch bag to one with a color other than pink would be giving in to the patriarchy.  And you know what I have to say about that…  So the pink lunch bag stays.  But since the other kids have cute lunch boxes and his is just some old thing I had in the basement, I figured it was okay to make the bag more adorable.  Instead of commenting on the color (which for the record no one ever did except in my head), the new improved pink lunch bag was met with a lot of compliments!

Dragon Lunch Bag Makeover

What you’ll need:

  • an old lunch bag that you’d like to modify
  • about 16″ of 3/4″ ribbon in a contrasting color to the lunch bag
  • the eyes and name tag patch embroidery file here (Note the file is zipped, so you’ll need to unzip it first)
  • white scrap fabric for eyes
  • scrap fabric for child’s name patch
  • black embroidery thread
  • medium weight tear away stabilizer
  • temporary spray adhesive
  1. First, hoop the medium weight stabilizer in a 100x100mm hoop, insert on embroidery machine with black embroidery thread.  Load embroidery file and change child’s name to desired name.
  2. Start the pattern.  It will begin by stitching the guide outline for the first eye.  Cut a piece of (white) fabric slightly larger than the guideline, spray adhesive onto the back and then press firmly over the guide stitching.
  3. Continue stitching.  The second set of stitching should attach the white fabric to the stabilizer.  Cut around the section, as close to the stitching as possible.
  4. Finish stitching.  Repeat steps 2 & 3 for the other eye and the name patch.
  5.  Once all your embroidery is complete, pop the patches out of the hoop by tearing out of the stabilizer.  This will form your patches.
  6. Hand stitch the eyes onto the lunch bag on the flap of the bag.  You may need a thimble if the fabric is thick.
  7. Hand stitch the name tag onto the bag wherever desired.
  8. Take the ribbon and fold the end of the ribbon over and then over again so no unfinished edges are poking out.  Pin this to the forehead of your dragon on the flap in between the dragon’s eyes.  The unfinished (unrolled) edge of the ribbon should be trailing down the front of the lunchbox.   Stitch.
  9. Measure about 2″ and move 1″ away from where you just stitched, away from the flap. Pin, forming a loop for the dragon’s spikes.  Stitch.
  10.  Repeat these steps for 7 spikes.
  11. For the 8th spike again fold and fold again the end of the ribbon. Attach it to the bag as you did in step 8.

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I hate Mondays

Julius’ first, no questions asked, words may be “all done”.  Aside from dada and mama (which he says sparingly, maybe not about me or Will) he makes a number of sounds that we are just now realizing he equates to words.  For instance “sssssss”  (like the noise a snake makes) is the word he uses for Sheepy, his beloved stuffed animal.  “Dat” and “dis” we are pretty sure equate to “what’s that” and “what’s this”.  But the first set of clearly audible words he has actually understandably said?  “All done”.  He now says this phrase whenever he is all done with dinner, playing with a toy, brushing his teeth, etc.  He is very excited that everyone he has said it to seems to actually know what he is saying.

In the opposite vein of “all done”, I was supposed to have another truffle party for Valentine’s day this year, but at the last minute I had to cancel because I came down with another exciting disease (potentially from Julius?).  This whole sickness thing is getting really old – I only went in to work for one and a half days in between illnesses last week.  I honestly don’t remember the last time I have had a solid week where I’ve felt disease free.  The knowing response I get from long time parents when I mention this?  “Don’t worry it gets better – once they go off to college and move out.”  Something to look forward to?

My valentine holding a Valentine

Luckily continued days of feeling under the weather enabled me to create the EASIEST version of lasagna I have ever created.  You don’t have to pre-cook or chop anything and it comes out amazingly delicious.  AND it is vegetarian!  Will and I have upped our vegetarian diet to 3 days a week (from 2 last year) so we’re always looking for good fast vegetarian recipes.  Plus this recipe is very easy to make for a crowd (and once I host my replacement truffle making party I’ll be doing just that).  You’ll need to buy the bulk spinach which comes in chunks instead of a giant 1 lb block to really avoid chopping or pre-cooking anything.

The Easiest Vegetarian Lasagna EVER

Ingredients for 6 servings

  1. Take a 13″x9″ baking dish and spread 1/2 c of pasta sauce in the bottom of the dish.
  2. Cover with lasagna noodles, overlapping each other slightly.
  3. Cover completely with a layer of frozen spinach chunks – about 2 cups.
  4. Top with 1/2c mozzarella and 1/3c of parmesan cheese.
  5. Cover with half the container of ricotta cheese by taking out big dollops of ricotta and flattening them down slightly to cover the entire lasagna.
  6. Cover with a layer of sauce (about a cup).
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 for a second layer.
  8. Sprinkle remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese on top of the last layer and cover with aluminum foil.
  9. At this point you can let it sit in the fridge overnight or bake it immediately.  (I tried both ways, and found they both needed the same amount of time in the oven).
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  11. Let the lasagna rest for 20 minutes before cutting and serving to let the juices absorb.

 

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