Trail Map Recycling

The last couple months we’ve been going up to my parent’s condo at Sunday River.  It has been amazing because Will, my dad and I will ski while my mom watches the little guy.  It is technically our chance to dip our toes into the whole babysitting/childcare situation.  And I really mean dip our toes in since I’m honestly not sure our scenario really counts.  You see we’re a bit spoiled in that we get to leave Julius in the capable hands of Grandma who is also conveniently a licensed and practicing R.N. currently working in postnatal/postpartum.  While others lament that they worry about their baby’s well-being the whole time they’re out, I really only miss snuggling with him.

Due to all these baby qualifications, Julius must feel the need to pull out all the stops and go the extra mile to impress.  As an example let me tell you about Julius’ latest development.  Julius recently hung out with a 7 month old baby who was quite adept at getting around via army crawling on his stomach.  Until this point in time, Julius would tolerate tummy time for approximately 12 seconds before either proceeding to lie there like a slug or screaming.  (Unless of course he was asked to do it at the doctor’s office where he shows off gratuitously to the point where the doctor deems his tummy time efforts “wonderful” and she thinks I made the whole aforementioned slug/screaming scenario up for comedic affect.)  Either way, after seeing this 7 month old baby moving around like a champ, Julius’ life was changed!  For the next several days he put in heroic tummy time efforts of several minutes at a time and looked (as close as a 3 month old baby can look) like an olympic gymnast!  Several days later he hangs out with Grandma, puts in that extra mile, and boom he rolls over!  He hasn’t repeated it since but at least he put in the extra effort for Grandma’s birthday.

Well I couldn’t compete with that sort of present but I decided to make Mom/Grandma something anyway!  Since we’re always at the condo Will had the great idea to get her a framed map of the mountain.  I thought I’d add to that gift and make her some Sunday River map coasters from old trail maps!  Many of the “DIY coaster” posts you see on Pinterest involve using a ceramic tile as the base.  I started out by looking for ceramic tiles at every single hardware store in the area, and then online.  The smallest square tiles that these stores sell are 4.25″x4.25″, which make comically huge coasters.  After several stores, and several hours online I gave up on ceramic tiles and invented my own DIY coasters based on some wooden coasters I actually own.  This method is a bit more time consuming, but I think the coasters look quite professional and they are the proper size.  You could use this technique with any paper goods.

Trail Map Coasters

What You’ll Need:

  • old trail maps
  • hardboard (only about 1 sq ft)
  • thin cork sheet (from the scrapbook section in your craft store)
  • acrylic spray enamel
  • wood glue
  • mod podge
  • foam brush
  • x-acto knife
  • waxed paper
  1. Cut hardboard into 3.5×3.5” squares.  I made 6 coasters.  I did this using the combination of a circular saw and a hacksaw with fine tooth blade since those were the tools at my disposal.

    Cut squares from hardboard

  2. Clamp all coasters together using a vice and sand all four sides using coarse and then fine sandpaper until they are smooth to the touch.

    Sand edges of coasters

  3. Gently iron your map on a low setting under a piece of parchment paper to smooth out wrinkles.

    Iron wrinkles from map on low setting.

  4. Place coasters on the map in locations you desire. Using an x-acto knife cut out pictures from the map using each coaster as a template (since they may each vary slightly).

    Cut out map using coaster as a template.

  5. Using a foam brush, coat the face of each hardboard square with mod podge and place the corresponding map cutout on top, right side up. Center and press down firmly, smoothing out any air bubbles.  Repeat for other coasters.

    Apply mod podge to face of hardboard using a foam brush

  6. Place a piece of waxed paper and a heavy book on top of the coasters. Let dry 30 – 45 minutes.
  7. Coat the face of each coaster with a thin coat of mod podge.  Let dry 15-20 minutes and then apply a second coat.

    Apply mod podge over face of coaster

  8. After the coaster is completely dry, flip over and lightly coat the bottom side with wood glue using a foam brush.

    Apply wood glue to bottom of coaster

  9. Place the cork sheet on a sheet of waxed paper then press the wood glued side of the coaster on top.  Repeat for other coasters, then place a book on top.

    Firmly press coasters on top of cork

  10. When cork adhesion is dry (approximately 30 minutes), trim the cork around the coaster using an X-acto knife like you did in step 4 for the map pictures.

    Trim cork

  11. Apply spray enamel according to bottle instructions.

    Spray with acrylic enamel.

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 1 Comment

Nobody Likes a Wet Bum

Julius is becoming much, much less of a squish and much, much more of a tiny person.  In fact, I’ve almost entirely stopped calling him “squish”.  Not only because he is less squishy but also because it seems he is now listening to me very attentively.  I don’t want him to grow up thinking his name is Squish – I think that’s a name I’d better erase from existence before he learns to talk.  Instead, I’ve been calling him mostly Juli-ouli-us.  In addition I’ve recently discovered that he likes his name.  Whenever I refer to him as Julius he puts on a huge smile, especially when it becomes the lyric in a song.

He has developed a lot more control over his hands and arms, and is now happily grabbings things and putting them in his mouth.  On top of that, he has been smiling and laughing!  I discovered a couple weeks ago that he is extremely ticklish.  He also ‘talks’ a lot more.  My favorite thing that he does lately is he babbles and coos quietly to me while looking at me in the eye.  I call it whispering sweet nothings.  It is completely adorable.

Frequently he’ll do a lot of these adorable things while he’s on the changing table.  He seems to almost always be in a good mood when we’re changing his diaper.  I guess it’s because (as we frequently tell him) nobody likes a wet bum.  The changing table itself was given to us by my co-worker since his grandson has outgrown it.  It has been great for us to store all our diapers, diaper covers, wipes, diaper pail liners, etc.  Plus is really saves our backs when we’re changing him all the time!  My only complaint with the table is that I’d like a space to store diaper rash cream or spray for our cloth wipes on the top of the table for easy access.

To solve this problem, I decided to make a little fabric box to add on the side of the changing table.  The velcro and ribbon additions are used specifically to mount the box onto a changing table, but these can easily be omitted to form a basic storage container.  It was so easy to make I will probably create more of these in different sizes for other forms of storage!  The canvas really works nicely to stiffen the sides so they stand up on their own without interfacing.

Changing Table Organizer

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 yard of canvas
  • 1 foot of 1.5″ velcro**
  • Piece of heavy cardboard
  • 4 feet Milliner’s wire
  • 7 feet of ribbon**
  1. Cut out fabric rectangles. 2 – 16″x11″, 2 – 6″x11″, 3 – 16″x6″.

    Cut out fabric rectangles.

  2. Stitch each side of a wide 16″x11″ wide rectangle to one thin 6″x11″ wide rectangle.

    Pin 11″ end of narrow rectangles to either end of a wide rectangle.

  3. Stitch the other wide 16″x11″ rectangle to the other side of the thin 6″ rectangles to form a box.

    Pin another wide rectangle to other end of narrow rectangles together to form a box.

  4. Fold the box in half so it is half its height and the seams are on the inside. The fold will form the top of the box.

    Fold box in half so the seams are inside. Pin

  5. Press.  (**This is where I added some embroidery, but it is not necessary at all!)

    Press along fold to form top of box.

  6. Cut the strip of velcro into two 6″ pieces.  Pin the center of each Velcro piece on either edge of the longer panel, just below the fold.

    Stitch velcro just below the fold on either end of the long side.

  7. Unfold the box and stitch the center of the Velcro to the panel. Re-fold, so the Velcro is on the outside of the box. This will be the back of the box. **
  8. Take your wire and bend to form a 5″x15″ rectangle starting with the 5″ segment. Let the wire finish with a 5″ segment overlapping the first segment for strength then trim the wire.

    Fold milliner’s wire into a rectangle.

  9. Place the wire rectangle inside the box, moving it all the way up to the fold.
  10. Stitch a few stitches just below the wire in the center of every face of the box to tack the wire in place.  Be careful not to hit the wire when you sew.
  11. Turn box inside out then pin a 16″x6″ rectangle to the bottom of the box, right sides together.

    Pin base rectangle to box.

  12. Attach the rectangle by stitching the long sides first.  Stitch the short sides second.

    Stitch the two long sides first followed by the two short sides.

  13. Turn the box right side out.
  14. Pin the last two 16″x6″ rectangles together to form the box bottom.  Stitch three sides together, leaving one of the short sides opened.

    Pin two 16″x6″ rectangles together.

  15. Clip the corners and turn right side out.
  16. Cut a piece of cardboard 14.75″x4.75″.

    Cut rectangle from cardboard

  17. Slip the piece of cardboard inside the box bottom.  It will fit snugly.

    Insert cardboard rectangle into box bottom.

  18. Fold the seam allowance on the open side to the inside.

    Turn seam allowance inside.

  19. Stitch close to the edge to seal the box bottom closed.

    Stitch close to edge to seal box bottom.

  20. Place the bottom of the box into the box.

    Place box bottom into box.

  21. Cut two pieces of ribbon 42″ wide. Pin the center of each ribbon to either end of the front panel on the inside, just below the top.  Stitch.**

    Attach ribbon to the inside front of the box, just below the wire.

    To mount the changing table organizer, place the Velcro around one of the beams of the changing table.  Tie the ribbon to the top most bar of the changing table, to keep the box level. Fill with rash cream, wipes, etc.**

** Skip this step for an ordinary box that you don’t intend to mount on a changing table.

Here’s what the box looks like without being mounted.  Julioulius wouldn’t fit so I had to use his real name.

Here’s the finished box organizing our most-reached-for changing table supplies!

 

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | Leave a comment

Acorn Squash Soup

Well, our oven was broken for a few weeks surrounding Christmas.  To get around the oven issue we pulled out one of the extra large countertop ovens we have in the basement.  I have a confession to make.  I own 3 toaster ovens.  The first one we got for our wedding and we love and use every day.  It is nice and compact and fits on our countertop.  I have discovered that in a pinch you can cook a small pie in this toaster oven if needed for, say, a renaissance party.  The second countertop oven is a really nice Breville oven that my in-laws got me for Christmas a few years back.  That oven is nice and roomy and can fit a large pie in it.  We have used it for several parties.  The third oven is a GIANT Hamilton Beach oven that our friends Andrew and Emma gave to us. I used to covet this giant oven that sat on Andrew’s countertop.  They must have noticed because when they moved into a new apartment they brought it over to us.  This is the oven we took out of the basement to use while our other oven was dead.  This oven can fit not one, but TWO full sized frozen pizzas in it!!!

After I fixed the oven (it turned out the bottom coil was no longer conductive – only cost $60 to replace it!) I made lots of things that involved roasting.  I still had several acorn squash that I needed to use up from the farm share last fall so I decided to experiment with a soup.  My favorite way of preparing acorn squash is to cut it up into rings then roast with butter and brown sugar.  I adapted that method into a soup.  It was very simple.  Will deemed it “excellent” and he ate almost all of it by himself.  I consider that a triumph!  Let me know what you think of it if you try it!

Acorn Squash Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 medium acorn squash
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp lt brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup whole milk or heavy cream
  1. Cut acorn squash in half, scoop and discard insides.
  2. Place cut side down on a pan drizzled with olive oil, poke holes in skin of squash with a fork.
  3. Roast at 400 for 35 minutes or until soft. Let cool then scrape squash from its shell into a bowl.  Set aside, discarding shell.
  4. While the squash is roasting, chop your veggies.  Saute the veggies in 2 tbsp butter in a heavy bottomed stockpot until soft.
  5. Add in 2 cups chicken broth and squash from step 2.  Bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove pot from heat and puree with an immersion blender until smooth.  (Or puree in batches in a blender).
  7. Stir in 2 tbsp brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Finally stir in milk or cream and serve.  Garnish with a swirl of heavy cream if desired.

 

Posted in Culinary Delights | 3 Comments

Breastmilk Saga or ‘Why My New Nickname is Garelick Farms’

You may remember that a couple weeks ago I mentioned that nursing was hard!  Well for me, the hardest part was that we had to exclusively bottle feed Julius for the first few weeks of his life because I couldn’t get him to latch!  This meant I pumped milk to feed Julius starting from day one!  Lucky for me I didn’t have any supply problems – the first time I pumped, I pumped 4 oz of milk in fifteen minutes!  For reference, many moms are happy to express just a few drops to feed their baby for the first feed.

Baby Julius is hungry!

After this happened I found out that my great grandmother had been a nursing surrogate during WWII, providing milk for babies whose mothers couldn’t produce.  In exchange she received extra food rations during the war.  Apparently I got her genes (which was lucky for me)!  Well by the end of the first week I was pumping 8 oz in a sitting and the milk was accumulating in the fridge.  I started looking into freezing milk and milk storage since I didn’t have nearly enough bottles to store milk.  I have a Medela Pump in Style pump, so my mom bought me some Medela milk storage bags to try out.  I really liked that when they were full of milk, they’d stand up on their own.  Plus the bags come with adapters so you can pump directly into them!

After using a whole box of medela pump and save bags, I went to buy another set of them and balked at the price.  They are $.27 a bag!  That doesn’t sound like much, but in the beginning I was going through around 25 bags a week. 25 bags!  Not to mention the bags are only 5 oz each, so frequently I’d have to use 4 bags in one sitting.  Another problem is storage.  You have to freeze the bags standing up, so they take up a TON of room in the freezer.  Given all these problems, I looked for another solution.

What I decided to purchase after trying several bags and reading hundreds of reviews were the Philips Avent breastmilk storage bags.  They are half the price of the Medela bags, they hold 6 oz and they have a double zipper so you can freeze them flat.  In addition, they are a very stiff material like the Medela bags, so they will stand on their own after you pour milk in them.  Oh, and they are recyclable!  It doesn’t say it on the packaging, but I called Philips directly (and asked them on amazon) and they responded that they are indeed recyclable.  So the only real problem with the bags is that you can’t pump into them directly.  That is, you can’t pump directly into them, without my hack below!  I have used the following procedure to modify the label portion of all the bags to pump into them.  It takes only a few seconds to modify each bag, and I’ve never had a bag fall off while pumping (and I’ve gone through around 200 bags at this point).

After I found a suitable freezing solution, I started throwing bag after bag into the freezer right after pumping.  This was when things really got ridiculous.  My family started referring to me as “Garelick Farms”  and Will would burst out laughing anytime he opened the freezer.  For perspective, these were my freezers (upstairs and downstairs) at 5 weeks postpartum.  Things were getting a bit ridiculous, so I googled online for storage solutions.  Some forums mentioned that the Philips Avent bags fit PERFECTLY in gallon storage bags after they are frozen.  Unfortunately I had been throwing bags all over the place by this point and bags from different weeks were all mixed together.  Not to mention if I took them out of the freezer they’d immediately start thawing before I could sort them.

So one day in the middle of a snowstorm I filled two laundry baskets with all the bags of frozen milk and moved them onto the porch.   I spent nearly 2 hours in 12 degree weather sorting all the milk and putting it into gallon bags.  Somehow I didn’t get a picture of this, but I assure you it was as ridiculous as you are imagining.   The good news is that now all that milk fits neatly into my freezer downstairs, ready for Julius.

BEFORE: Downstairs freezer before organizing…

BEFORE: Upstairs freezer before organizing

AFTER: Downstairs freezer full of gallon bags of organized breastmilk

AFTER: I now keep my frozen milk in a narrow bin that perfectly fits the frozen Avent bags. It fits about as many as will fit in one gallon bag. I move them to a gallon bag in the basement freezer when the bin fills up.

Direct Pump Philips Avent Breastmilk Storage Bag Adaptation for Medela

What you’ll need:

Cut along the lines in red.

  1. You’ll want to cut along the lines shown in red on the diagram.  First, cut along the line marked with the calendar icon.

    Cut along the line marked with a calendar icon.

  2. Next fold the bag in half lengthwise and cut a 1cm cut on the fold along the line marked with the smiley face.

    Fold bag lengthwise and cut a 1cm slit along line with smiley face.

  3. To pump into the bag, attach adapter to pump setup, open the bag and insert adapter into the bag.  Hang bag off the tabs on the adapter by inserting through the 2cm slit.

    Finished bag modifications. There is still plenty of room to label!

Insert adapter into bag, with arms through slit along smiley face line.

Finished bag after pumping. There is still plenty of room to label, and the bags lie flat to optimize storage.

 

 

 

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Botanical Prints

The dining room was the very first room in the house that Will & I painted.  Yet somehow it is one of the last rooms where I have put up wall decor or curtains.  I don’t really have an excuse for why except that I couldn’t find anything I liked to put on the walls, and I haven’t found a style of curtains I like yet.  About a year ago I decided that I really liked the look of framed botanical prints and thought that edible plants would be cute to put up on the wall.  There are many sets of these you can buy online, like these for instance, but the price is exorbitant – $200 for one framed print??  This discouraged me and I forgot about the wall decor for a while.

I gave up the search until one day I went with my mom to an estate sale furnishing store and found an original watercolor by Rosalind Oesterle with the perfect gold frame to compliment my dining room (which was much less than the framed prints!).  I was convinced it would go beautifully with some botanical prints on the opposing wall so this kicked off the hunt again.  I couldn’t find anything I liked in a reasonable price range until a trip to the Brimfield Fair with Ka & Joe gave me an idea.  We had stopped by a booth that was selling botanical prints.  They were perfect and exactly what I was looking for!  I asked the owner some questions about the prints and he answered every question I asked him rudely and sarcastically.  He was a complete JERK!  I have never had such an awful experience talking to someone for so short an amount of time!  Even though the prints were exactly what was looking for, I couldn’t justify giving this awful, rude man my money so I promptly thanked him and about faced out of the booth.  It was so hard to do considering I had been searching for so long for these prints and here they were, imprisoned by this rude man!

Dining Room all set up, you can see the watercolor on the left that re-sparked my interest in decorating the walls.

When I left the booth Joe commented that he had clearly cut them out of books and were selling each for the price of many times that of a whole book (the prints were $30-$50 each depending on size).  Genius observation Joe!  So when I returned home I scoured the internet for large format books of botanical prints.  I found the best reviewed one was this one with prints by Basilius Besler.  I purchased the book used for $38 and then searched through the entire thing when it arrived for pictures of edible plants.  I found around 20 large format pages of edible plants.  I decided I would pick 4 edible herbs, since the color schemes of these were complimentary.   My final choices included mint, pennyroyale, feverfew and basil that were on the same plates as some other edible plants like edible marigolds.

Next I cut each page out as close as I could to the spine using an Xacto-knife.

Carefully cut each page out with an Xacto knife.

I waited until Michaels had a sale on frames and purchased 4 16″x20″gold frames for half price ($25 a piece).  Then I waited for another sale and purchased 4 16″x20″ cream colored mats with 10″x13″ openings.  The mats cost me $7.50 a piece.  I then matted and framed each picture.

Matted and framed prints.

After I matted and framed each print I enlisted Will to help me hang them.  I measured the size of each frame and cut out 4 rectangles from scrap paper.  On the papers I drew a line down the center and marked an “x” where the wire hanger would hit the center line when pulled taunt.  Because each frame’s hanger tension could be slightly different, I did this separately for each frame.

Next I taped up a piece of string from the ceiling to represent the halfway point of the wall.  I would center my frames around this line.  After I adjusted the rectangles where I wanted them I simply hammered in hangers at the “x” markings and hung the paintings.

Scrap paper templates to represent each frame. I have centered them around the center string on the wall. The hooks have already been nailed into the walls in this photo.

I’m really happy with how they came out, and the grand total for the project was $168!  That’s less than just a single matted botanical print from Ballard Designs!  Now I just need to work on window treatments…

Finished botanical prints on my wall!

Look how well the frames match my chandelier!

Posted in Crafts & Sewing, Home Improvement | 2 Comments

Eight Maids a Milking

I really don’t want to harp on more things that make child-rearing difficult, so I’ll try and make this the last one (though I have a sneaking suspicion it won’t be).  For the record, I am honestly not trying to complain about or dissuade anyone from parenting, just trying to document all the things that have been surprising to me as a new mom.  What can I say?  I’m an engineer so I’m taking the analytical approach.  Maybe it will make it easier to look back and empathize when my other friends are raising children and I’ve forgotten everything.

Anyway, today’s topic is breastfeeding.  All I’m going to say is that it is difficult, and I was warned it was difficult by pretty much everyone I know.  You’d think something that humans have been doing for hundreds of thousands of years would be pretty innate by now.  Unfortunately it seems that even if you don’t have any problems with latching or supply, it is still a learning experience for both mom and baby.  And once you do get the hang of it there are still times where things are frustrating for one reason or another.

But luckily, because we live in the 21st century, there are many products created to make things easier!  I can tell you that my #1 favorite is the “My Brest Friend” nursing pillow – affectionately referred to as “the shelf” by my family.  The thing is amazing for positioning baby – and since it is strapped to you, it doesn’t move around when baby squirms unlike the Boppy type pillows.  In fact, you can even walk around with the thing on!  It’s great.  If you plan to breastfeed you need to put one on your registry.

Another useful item for nursing is a nursing journal.  Its sort of a pain in the butt, but up until recently I wrote down the time of every feeding, soiled diaper or pumping session.  In addition I would record the side Julius nursed on.  Early on it was very helpful to make sure Julius was eating enough.  Over the last couple weeks I’ve finally stopped recording the soiled diapers, because its pretty obvious if there are enough or not during a day.  I only record nursing and pumping sessions now, since it is still very useful to know when the last time he ate was.  At night though its not as important that I track the time – I just hope he goes as long as possible without eating!  So I don’t bother waking him every three hours like I do during the day (that would be crazy!)  So all I need to know at night is what side I need to nurse him on.  My co-worker gave me a set of magnetic nursing side indicators that address this problem.

Unfortunately, while they stay on well during the day, I find that they frequently fall off in my sleep, defeating the purpose.  To solve this problem I created a version that uses snaps instead of magnets to hook over your bra strap.  These worked better than the originals (and I almost posted about them a couple weeks ago – so if you want the instructions, shoot me a message) but after using them for a while they still had some problems.  Frequently I’d forget to switch the indicator over to the other bra strap until after I was done nursing, which means I would need to lift up my shirt and fiddle around under there to fix it.  This makes using them in public iffy.  Then I realized, why not just wear a bracelet?  It’s not under your clothes so you can switch it easily from hand to hand after a nursing session without awkwardly groping around under your shirt if you forget.  Of course, any old bracelet will do, but preferably one that is easy to slip on and off.  Well, that wasn’t good enough for me, so I created one that solves one additional nursing problem!

My version of the under shirt nursing indicator using snaps instead of magnets (let me know if you want my instructions).

Another problem I have is that if I’m not wearing a nursing friendly shirt (think buttons, or big pull down collar) I have to lift my shirt up to nurse.  The shirt inevitably falls down on baby and annoys him and/or gets covered in milk.  This bracelet doubles as a way to hold up your shirt while you’re nursing!

Nursing Bracelet

What you’ll need

  • 1 coat hook from a package of “Dritz 4 Coat Hooks and Eyes”

and either

  • 10″ of elastic
  • small glass beads
  • Beading wire
  • Bead tip or to cover knot in elastic*
  • bead glue

or

To make the beaded bracelet

  1. Cut a 3″ piece of beading wire, fold in half and twist around one end of the elastic to form a needle.

    Thread wire around end of elastic to form a needle.

  2. Thread 4″ of beads onto the elastic.

    Thread 4″ of beads onto elastic .

  3. Thread coat hook onto elastic.

    Thread coat hook onto elastic

  4. Thread another 4″ of beads onto the elastic.

    Thread rest of beads onto elastic.

  5. *Add a crimp bead or tube if desired.
  6. Knot the ends of the elastic together.

    Knot ends of elastic.

  7. Trim the ends of the elastic then put a drop of glue on the knot.

    Trim ends of elastic then put a drop of glue on the knot

  8. Cover knot with a bead or crimp tube.

    Cover elastic with crimp bead or tube

  9. ** Note if your beads are too large, you may have to open the hook part of the coat hook slightly so it will fit over your beads when using.

    Finished bracelet

To make the hair tie bracelet

  1. Unknot hair tie.
  2. Thread coat hook onto hair tie.
  3. Re-tie hair tie.

    Finished bracelet from hair tie

To use – simply loop the bracelet around your neckline and the bottom of your shirt. Hook the coat hook onto the opposite end of the bracelet.

Bracelet holding up shirt for nursing access.

Loop bracelet around shirt and hook onto other end of bracelet to hold shirt in place.

 

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | Leave a comment

Baby its cold outside

Happy new year!  I hope you all are looking back fondly on 2017 and have big plans for 2018!  2017 was a big year for us – we brewed and started raising baby Julius!  We’re excited for lots of baby firsts in the coming year.  Recently Julius has become a very smiley guy.  He started really smiling a couple weeks back – but the smiles were limited to once or twice a day.  Now the little guy seems to smile all the time!  Nothing makes me happier than seeing mister Julius smile!  Of course we cannot wait until he can LAUGH!

In addition to the smiles – this holiday break brought me some sleep!  I actually feel like a real person again!  Will let me sleep in every day while he and Grandma fed the baby from a bottle for the first morning feeding if I wasn’t up yet.  It was glorious!

As always, the first of the new year brings lots of discussion of resolutions.  Since I’m no longer pregnant, I want to get back to running.  It was sad for me to quit running for the past nine months, but unfortunately now that I have the approval to exercise again it is bitter cold out!  The thermometer right now reads 2 degrees!  This means running with Julius in the jogging stroller is out of the question for a while.  Frankly, just walking to the car with the little guy in his car seat makes me nervous!  We bundle him up and throw tons of blankets on top of him for fear of him freezing to death in the 30 second walk to a parking lot or someone’s house.

Recently I made a car seat cover to use while we carry Julius around outside the house.  It is made of cotton, but has a fleece insert you can use for the winter.  If you’re indoors or it is pleasant weather outside you can remove the fleece insert and still keep the sun (and nosy strangers) out of your baby’s face.  I made it a little large so you can tuck it into the carrier.  You may want to make it a foot shorter if you don’t want to do any tucking.

Four Season Car Seat Cover

What you’ll need:

  • lightweight fusible interfacing
  • 1.5 yards of 56″ or 58″ wide cotton fabric
  • 1.25 yards of 56″ or 58″ wide fleece fabric
  • 16 snaps
  1. Cut a piece of cotton fabric 43″ x56″.  Repeat for fleece fabric.
  2. Hem cotton fabric with 1/2″ double fold hem.  Make sure to miter corners.

    Hem cotton fabric using double fold & miter corners.

  3. Hem fleece fabric with a 1″ single fold hem.  The fleece will not unravel, and the single fold hem will lower the fabric bulk.

    Hem fleece with a single fold.

  4. Using handle template above, add 1/2″ seam allowance and cut out 4 of cotton and two of interfacing.

    Cut handles from interfacing and cotton fabric.

  5. Fuse each piece of interfacing to one of the cotton handles following manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Pin handle side with interfacing to a handle side without interfacing.  Repeat for second handle.

    Pin handle with interfacing to handle without interfacing

  7. Stitch around handle leaving a 3 inch gap along the skinny side of the handle.

    Stitch around handle leaving a gap at handle center.

  8. Clip curves and corners and turn right side out.  Stitch along 3″ gap to close it.

    Turn handle right side out through gap and stitch gap closed.

  9. Fold the cotton cover in half lengthwise.  Mark along the fold, 22 inches in (this should be the center).  Mark 3.5 inches out from the center marking along fold on either side.

    Mark 3.5 inches from the center of the cotton fabric, along the width.

  10. Center handles along this marking as shown in the picture.  Stitch handles to cotton cover.

    Stitch handles to cotton cover.

  11. Following manufacturer’s instructions attach snap tops to cotton cover in positions shown in picture.

    Attach snaps as shown in diagram above.

  12. Repeat for snap bottoms on fleece.
  13. Attach snaps to handles so they form loops.  (Snap tops to top side of handle, snap bottoms to bottom side of handle.)

    Add snaps to handles.

For mild weather use, attach handles to car seat carrier.  Drape over car seat.  For cold weather use, attach the fleece insert for extra warmth!

Car seat cover attaches to handles using snaps.

Finished car seat cover.

Don’t you just love the frog batik fabric?? I got it for only a couple dollars at a thrift shop!

Little guy is ready to brave the cold! (The car seat cover is folded up above him in this picture while we put him into the carrier).

 

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Happy Holidays! Merry Babymas!

Merry Christmas!  Happy (belated) Hanukkah!  Happy Noam Chomsky Day!  Or may whatever winter holiday you celebrate be jolly!  Well I had a great blog post idea for today.  I was going to write all about my breastfeeding experiences (don’t worry it wasn’t going to be graphic).  The plan was to call it, “Breastmilk and cookies”.  Get it?  You’re supposed to leave milk and cookies out for Santa?  But not breastmilk.  Definitely don’t leave him breastmilk.  Well (luckily?) I ran out of time, and didn’t get to write it yet.

So we are starting to get into more of a routine with little Julius. It is starting to feel less like, “oh my God what have we gotten ourselves into” and more like, “okay we may be able to handle this”.  I think the turning point was when I completed a shopping trip with the little guy.  My friend Maren told me she schedules a reason for her and her little one to leave the house every day – whether a visit to the library, a breastfeeding group, or a shopping trip.  I thought this was a genius idea, and though I haven’t done it every day, I’m trying to get out of the house with Julius several times a week.

For each outing it takes me an eternity to pack his diaper bag since I’m concerned I’ll forget something.  By the time I’m done packing, my bag weighs about 50 pounds.  This makes carrying a pocketbook out of the question!  Instead I throw my keys and purse into the bag.  The problem is, I’m never able to find my keys in that giant bag!  There are so many pockets they could be hiding in!  I decided to make a tether to attach my keys to the bag.  All I have to do now is grab the end of the tether and pull and I’ve got my keys!  Though I made it for a diaper bag, it would work great on a pocketbook.  In fact, I got the idea from a bag I got from Will’s grandmother – and it has even made my pocketbook searching so much easier!

Key Tether

What you need:

  • 1″ lobster clasp
  • 1″ key ring
  • 16″ of 1″ ribbon or trim
  1. Fold 1″ of ribbon over key ring.  (Right side out.)  Pin and stitch.

    Fold 1″ of ribbon over key ring. Pin and Stitch.

  2. Insert ribbon through lobster clasp ring.

    Insert ribbon through lobster clasp.

  3. Turn under unfinished edge 1/2″.  Place folded edge 1/4″ below the key ring.  Pin & stitch.
  4. Slide lobster clasp so it is opposite the key ring and the rest of the ribbon sits flush.

    Fold under 1/2″ of unfinished edge and pin 1/4″ below the key ring.

  5. Stitch the ribbon together as close as possible to both of the unfinished edges.

    Stitch along unfinished edges of ribbon to secure.

To use either attach key ring to zipper pull or loop ribbon around bag handle and through key ring.  Attach keys to lobster clasp.

You can either loop tether around handle and through key ring, then attach keys.

Outside view of key tether attached to diaper bag handle.

Inside view of key tether attached to diaper bag handle.

Or you can attach key ring to a zipper, and attach keys to clasp.

Merry Christmas!

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Little Prince

When I was pregnant I saw these adorable tiny crowns on Etsy and decided I wanted to make one.  It was very easy to make, but our uses for it were rather silly.  We took multiple pictures of him with the crown.  First, our friend Joe photographed us holding the crown while I was pregnant and waiting for our little prince.  The second time was the day after he was born when he had hospital photos taken.  This picture was incredibly silly (you can see below).  Finally I took a third picture 2 weeks after his hospital photos.  You can tell the crown is already way too small by this point!  And looking back… he has gotten SO MUCH BIGGER in only 4 more weeks!

Our friend Joe Kerekes took this cute picture of us awaiting our tiny prince.

Julius’ silly hospital photo. He wasn’t awake enough to put it on top of his head… but this is just plain silly.

This is just two weeks after his hospital photos were taken, but his head is already way too big!

And just for perspective, this was Julius yesterday at 5 weeks, 5 days! Look at that noggin, definitely won’t fit a 3″ diameter crown now!  But what a cutie, right?

3″ Diameter Tiny Crown

What you’ll need:

  1. Overlap the edges of your lace ribbon so the seam will not be noticeable.  For instance, if you have arches on your ribbon, make sure those arches overlap.  Make sure the diameter is close to 3″.  Pin and stitch the edges together.

    Pin lace so it discretely overlaps.

  2. Make an aluminum foil form to hold the crown, then spray with fabric stiffener.   Let dry following manufacturer’s instructions.

    Spray crown with fabric stiffener on aluminum form.

  3. Spray the crown with gold fabric paint.  Let dry following manufacturer’s instructions.  You may need to do multiple coats for full coverage.

    Spray crown with gold fabric paint.

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Big Baby Bums

We’ve been calling Julius “little squish” since he left the hospital.  He gets all cuddly and kind of squishes himself up against you when he is sleepy.  And he’s basically a ball of goo when he’s tired.  You could squish the little guy into any position and he’d live with it.  Hence “little squish”.  Well my little squish is now a whopping 9.2 lbs and 22 inches long as of last Thursday!  22 inches is in the 95th percentile for his age!  I told Will we’re going to have to start calling him “big squish”!

I thought the baby blues were supposed to be over by now, but I started sobbing today thinking about putting the little squish in daycare.  What if I miss his first word?  I know millions of people put their kids in daycare, but for some reason this is a serious concern for me right now!

At this point though, his daily milestones are mostly eating, sleeping and pooping.  This means I’ve (understandably) gotten lots of questions about how cloth diapering is going.  I can honestly tell you, it is going pretty well!  We started him in cloth diapers as soon as we got back to our house (this was a week after he was born since we stayed with my parents after leaving the hospital).  For now, we have decided to continue using disposables when we’re out on the town, just to make things easier.  (But we don’t go out very often so we haven’t used many disposables.)  From what we’ve observed, he doesn’t mind the cloth diapers any more or less than disposables.  He seems indifferent to either type and cries when he is wet regardless of the diaper.   As for me, I think the cloth diapers make his fanny look big which is kind of adorable.

When I decided to go the cloth diapering route, I also decided to use cloth wipes as well.  In the hospital they teach you to use a disposable wipe that you wet with water, and that’s just what we do at home with the cloth wipe.  Originally I purchased a package of OsoCozy wipes off amazon.  Their wipes cost $.66 a piece, which isn’t big money, but I knew I could make them for a fraction of that price.  While I was pregnant I bought a yard of flannel fabric from Joann fabrics (on sale for $2.50 a yard).  From this I produced 20 wipes – for a total of twelve cents a wipe!  Now that’s more like it!  You can make your own wipes very quickly if you have a serger.  I made all twenty in less than an hour!

Little squish striking a pose in his cloth diapers.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 yard of 42″ wide flannel fabric (I purchased natural cozy flannel)
  • Serger
  1. First machine wash and dry your flannel.  There will be some shrinkage, so its easier to account for that initially.
  2. Divide up your fabric into 20 8″x8″ squares (or whatever size your shrinkage allows – it may be a bit smaller or bigger depending how much shrinkage occurred.)

    Divide fabric into 8″x8″squares

  3. Cut squares.

    Cut squares

  4. Serge your fabric squares, rounding the corners slightly.

    Serge squares, rounding corners slightly.

The wipes are easy to put into a wipe container.  My co-worker gave us a munchkin wipe warmer, and while I’m still debating if I want to store the wipes wet or dry it works perfectly for holding fabric wipes this size!  To store your wipes in a container – assemble as follows:

  1. Place wipe on table.

    Place wipe on table.

  2. Place second wipe overlapping with first wipe by 50%.

    Place second wipe overlapping with first wipe by 50%.

  3. Fold first wipe in half over second wipe.

    Fold first wipe in half over second wipe.

  4. Place third wipe overlapping with exposed portion of second wipe.

    Place third wipe overlapping with exposed portion of second wipe.

  5. Fold second wipe in half over first wipe.

    Fold second wipe in half over first wipe (left side of second wipe over right side).

  6. Place fourth wipe over exposed portion of third wipe.

    Place fourth wipe over exposed portion of third wipe.

  7. Continue stacking wipes until finished, then push the top wipe half through the storage container opening.

    Place wipes in box.

    Feed top layer of fabric through hole in wipe box.

    Or just watch this GIF!

    How to fold wipes

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