A Swift Arrangement

This weekend we went to Will’s childhood friend, MacRae’s wedding.  It was Julius’ first wedding and the first of nine weddings we have on the calendar this year!  We had so much fun celebrating with MacRae and Jewel and all their friends.  Jewel dip dyed napkins for the reception, what a great idea and a great segue into to some summer dyeing projects I’ll be doing in the future!

On the way back from the wedding we stopped by Erin and Mark’s house to check on our nephew’s status.  Well he’s still in utero!  He was due 3 days ago, but like Julius, I think he must be too cozy to greet the world yet.  Being at Mark and Erin’s house again reminded me that I have one last post to put up from the baby shower!

Many florists encourage you to use floral tape to create a grid on the mouth of your vases for ease of arranging.  I’ve found this method works fairly well, but half the time I destroy the tape grid trying to insert the flowers.  Luckily there is a sturdier solution using scrap wire mesh if you are using mason jars as vases.  Several years ago my co-worker gave me a bunch of wire mesh he had in his basement (he gives me lots of junk because he knows I like to reuse/recycle things but chicken wire may be the strangest thing he’s given me.)  I used some of it to prevent critters digging into my garden from underneath, and some to prevent critters from entering my beehive in cooler months.  Now I’ve also made several mason jar flower inserts and it still feels like I have yards of the stuff.

Mesh Flower Arrangement Helper

What you’ll need:

  • 1 sq foot of 1/2″ wire mesh
  • mason jar including lid and ring
  • wire snippers
  1. Remove lid from the mason jar and place it on the wire mesh.  Mark around the lid perimeter onto the wire mesh.

    Trace around lid onto mesh

  2. Snip at each mark on the wire mesh forming a rough circle of mesh.

    Clip mesh at markings

  3. Snip down to the nearest corner so no pokey bits remain

    Trim mesh down to corners to remove pointy bits


  4. Insert mesh into ring of mason jar and screw onto jar.
  5. Insert flowers into the mesh grid to create your perfect floral display.

    Arrange flowers as desired!

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Don’t be Rash make a Bibdana!

I am really excited because I have been really productive lately!  All the extra hours of sunlight are allowing me to do all the things I put off since pregnancy.  And the best part is that I don’t have to sacrifice Julius time since his bedtime is so early!  This week I finally finished painting some furniture for his room white, and installed cellular black out shades.  I’ve been wanting to do both those things since I was pregnant.  This reminded me that I haven’t even shown you Julius’ room!  There will be a post on that soon, don’t you worry.

In the meantime let me tell you about Julius!  He’s getting so big.  And he’s nearly seven months old!  I really can’t believe it.  Everyone tells you how fast children grow, but it is amazing how true it really is.  I remember looking at 7 month old babies when Julius was a month old, thinking, “that can’t come soon enough”.  Well the last couple months have been so fun and gone by so quickly!  Though he’s not crawling, he is sitting and standing with some help.  He is such a cheerful smiley guy, and he likes to babble.  I love him so much!  When I picked him up early from daycare the other day he literally jumped up and down in the exersaucer and had the biggest smile on I thought he was going to pull a muscle.  It was the best.

Oh right, picking him up early from daycare, why was that?  Well on top of all the adorable genes Julius has inherited from daddy like brown eyes, expressive eyebrows and his eye wrinkles, he also got at least one not so fun trait from daddy – rashes.  The poor guy is covered.  He has rashes on his head, rashes on his back, rashes on his hands, rashes on his face, rashes on his chest.  Every time I take his onesie off he scratches and scratches at his chest.  The poor little guy.  And the crazy thing is they all look different to me.  All those rashes finally migrated to his eye region so I took him to the pediatrician again, just to have it checked out.  We finally are getting in to see the dermatologist this Wednesday (and that was after the pediatrician called several weeks ago to get us in “early”) so hopefully they can solve some of these rash mysteries.

The rash on his chest may just be what they call a drool rash.  The jury is still out on whether or not Julius is teething, but he is certainly drooling.  We would have to change his outfits 5 times a day if not for the best invention – bib bandanas.  These adorable bibs improve rather than detract from outfits!  And they look equally great on both ladies and gentlemen.  Of course, they are incredibly easy and cost effective to make, so you can make them in all sorts of cute cotton prints. Since the first one came out so great I’ll be making Julius some Star Wars ones.


What you’ll need:

  • 1/4 yard cotton woven material
  • 1/4 yard fleece
  • 2 7/16″ snaps
  • Bibdana pattern here
  1. Prewash all material in baby safe soap.
  2. Cut out bib front using cotton material and bib back using fleece.

    Cut out front and back of bib using pattern.

  3. Pin bib front to back along the perimeter.  The top of the bib will have some excess cotton material.

    Pin back to front along perimeter.

  4. Serge or zigzag stitch all around the perimeter of the bib.

    Serge or zig zag stitch all along the edge of the bib

  5. Affix the snaps in the location indicated on the pattern.  Make sure to place the snap tops facing down and the snap bottoms facing up.

    Attach snaps per package instructions.

  6. Adjust excess cotton material so it’s fold comes directly above the neckline of the bib.

    Fold excess material so it comes to the neck of the bib.

    The happiest baby in his bibdana

    Back view of bibdana



Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments

Cinnamon Birds

So while I was writing up this blog post I started becoming concerned with the renewable-ness of cinnamon.  This lead me to a longer than usual perusal of Wikipedia because cinnamon is fascinating!  For instance, of course it is the bark of a tree, but I always assumed it was like a birch tree, where you peel off a strip to harvest it.  It’s not. It is actually the inner bark of the tree, so they remove the outer layer and scrape down the tree to extract the inner cinnamon bark.  This process (thankfully) does not kill the tree.  It seems (for a New England reference) similar to maple tapping, which to me always seemed like it would harm the tree.

The most interesting part of the Wikipedia page mentioned that in the Middle Ages the western world had NO IDEA where cinnamon came from.  They thought it was fished out of the Nile or mined from the nests of giant cinnamon birds.  Just imagining giant cinnamon birds every time I eat cinnamon really brightens my day.

Speaking of cinnamon birds, I think it is finally springtime in New England.  And by that I mean, we’ve survived fool’s spring, second winter, spring of deception, third winter and mud season.  Now it’s just full on spring for 2 weeks until we hit summer.  The sad news is that the bees did not survive.  And due to my serious lack of time (aka Julius), I’ve decided to go on a beekeeping hiatus for a while.  But I promise that the lady beekeeper will keep providing you with lots of content, albeit even lighter on the bees, until she returns to her calling.  If this saddens you, just try your hand at one of the nifty candles below, and think of cinnamon birds every time you burn it!  I made them for Erin’s shower and I think they looked quite cute!  They cost around $2.50 a piece to make.

Cinnamon Stick Votives

What you’ll need:

  1. Place your glass votive on a table or other flat surface.  Find a relatively straight cinnamon stick.  Cover one side of the cinnamon stick with a good amount of hot glue and press it onto the side of the glass votive, perpendicular to the table, making sure one end of the cinnamon stick meets the table.

    Glue cinnamon sticks around votive, keeping sticks flush to one another.

  2. Choose another cinnamon stick and line it up on one side of the first cinnamon stick (without glue) positioning it so there is very little gap between sticks and the bottom of the stick meets the table.  After you are satified with the positioning, apply glue to the glass and glue in place.
  3. Repeat step 2 until you reach the place you started.  Here, place your last stick as best you can, and use a thin cinnamon stick to cover up the remaining gap between your first and last stick.
  4. Wrap twine around the center of the candle, tying in a bow to secure.

    Cinnamon votives flank a floral arrangement at the cinnamon bun themed shower

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There’s a Bun in the Oven!

Well I’m sure I’ve told you already that my wonderful sister-in-law, Erin, and my (equally wonderful) brother, Mark, are having a baby!  Their baby boy is due at the beginning of June, only weeks away!  In honor of Erin and her baby bump, my sister and I (plus my mom, Erin’s mom and sister-in-law) threw a baby shower brunch at Erin and Mark’s house in Chapel Hill.  Hopefully this will give you some ideas for a party of your own…

Mandy and I with Erin, the guest of honor (and the bun)

There’s a Bun in the Oven!

I love the expression “bun in the oven”, especially because Mandy called Julius my little bun everytime I talked to her.  We decided to theme the whole brunch around the phrase “There’s a bun in the oven!”   For invitations we decided to go green and send evites!  We found some that fit the theme perfectly here.  For favors, I made the potholders I posted a couple weeks ago in a cinnamon bun print from spoonflower, along with a cinnamon bun candle from the dollar store.

Cinnamon Bun themed favors


We took over Erin and Mark’s house and managed to seat 21 people at three large folding tables both indoors and on their patio under a tent.  It was a beautiful day so we didn’t have to go with our rain plan!  We chose a royal blue for the tablecloths, Erin’s favorite color, and an homage to the baby boy.  To go with our theme, we decorated the tables with cinnamon stick votives  and white flowers studded with cinnamon sticks springing from mason jars (later post).    White onesies, hung from a clothesline, adorned the tent and awaited decoration by guests.

Finished table set ups

Outdoor seating and onesie station



Because of our theme, we decided to host a brunch.  Obviously cinnamon buns would be featured front and center.  Then, totally independently, Mandy and I both came up with the idea of a waffle bar.  I honestly have no idea how it happened, but great minds think alike!  Since we hosted the party at my brother and sister in law’s house we were able to do much of the prep work ourselves.  Aside from the buns, which we ordered from a local bakery, we prepped everything the day before to make the day of party prep easy.  We decided on the following menu; links to the recipes are included for your convenience.

Hot Drinks

  • Coffee
  • Tea

Mimosa Bar

  • Champagne
  • Orange Juice
  • Grapefruit Juice
  • Cranberry Juice


Waffle Bar Toppings

  • Maple Syrup
  • Whipped Butter
  • nutella
  • strawberries
  • raspberry coulis
  • whipped cream
  • mini chocolate chips
  • pecans
  • banana slices

    Drink set up

    Buffet set up

    Full buffet spread complete with Mark & DD’s watermelon baby carriage

Games and Activities

I find that games at showers are always controversial. Some people love them, some people hate them.  I’m personally always happy to play some tasteful games.  We did our personal favorite – “play doh baby”.  We gave everyone play doh and a set amount of time to create a “baby”.  Erin then voted on her favorite babies and their creators won a prize.

At my friend Morgan’s baby shower they had everyone decorate a onesie for the new baby.  We copied this shamelessly, and Erin’s mom went above and beyond getting the supplies.  We supplied plain white onesies (with a cardboard insert to protect the other side of the fabric), fabric paint, fabric markers, stencils and brushes and let everyone go wild designing a onesie for the little man.  We hung the finished onesies around the tent using clothesline and clothespins.  My onesie color scheme very nearly looked like vomit, but I think I managed to save it by turning it into Hobbes.

Mark’s totoro onesie

Full disclosure this is from my shower – my friend Amy made this winning play doh baby and teddy!

My attempt at covering up my onesie disaster


The Month Before

  • Send out invitations
  • Make cinnamon stick candles (in future post)
  • Make flower decorating inserts (in future post)
  • Make potholder favors (if desired)
  • Make table cloths (if desired)

The Day Before

  • Go grocery shopping
  • Wrap favors
  • Arrange Flowers
  • Set tables
  • Set up drink table
  • Set up buffet with dishes – with post it notes in place of food
  • Make quiches
  • Make waffle batter
  • Prepare fruit salad

The Day of

  • Reheat quiches
  • Prepare waffles before/as guests arrive & keep warm
  • Make coulis
  • Make whipped butter
  • Make waffles
  • Set out buffet
  • Set out drink buffet

    Mark helps package thank you gifts

    Julius helps grandma package thank you gifts

Posted in Culinary Delights, Parties | 2 Comments

Tablecloths and Sleep Suits

This weekend was my first Mother’s Day!  We had my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin over to celebrate and hang out with Julius.  He was good, as usual, and even took 2 naps!  I think he’s gotten much better at crib sleeping after a couple weeks of sleep training. Did I tell you about sleep training?  If not I must have mentally blocked it out!  What’s sleep training you ask?  Sleep training (also known as the Ferber method, cry it out method, or in our house group torture time method)  is a method where you lay your child down to sleep and don’t pick them up no matter how much they cry until they go to sleep.  I think the name “cry it out” pretty much sums it up.

Julius started waking up every two hours a week before we started daycare (and before I had to go back to work).  Until this point he was a very, very good baby thanks at least partially (and potentially entirely) to the Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit.  This is a ridiculous looking padded sleep suit that lessens the startle reflex but allows babies to move their arms and legs around.  For Julius, it allowed him to suck on his fingers at night to comfort himself.  Many people swear to swaddling, but Julius hated having his hands tucked away from him.  (Even in the womb he sucked his thumb!)  My friend Maren told me about the sleep suit, and now I buy one for every baby shower I go to.  (I am not getting paid to tell you this but seriously, if you have an infant nearby, go buy one you’ll thank me later.)

Anyway this Magic Sleepsuit started losing effectiveness recently.  We originally believed it was due to teething, but I’m not sure anymore.  Enter sleep training.  The first night was truly horrible, listening to the little guy cry for several hours, but every night since has gotten better.  Sometimes he doesn’t cry at all.  Sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night and cries.  But it definitely seems to be working, even though it is still torture for me to listen to him cry for 10 solid minutes in the middle of the night.

Sleeping baby (just days before he stopped sleeping in the suit!)

Speaking of sleep – did I mention that we don’t have naptime at work?  I mean seriously.  I am still off caffeine since I’m nursing (not that I was a big drinker before) so it has been a struggle for me to stay awake at work.  I find myself frequently nodding off in the nursing mom’s room.  Perhaps instead of focusing on getting Julius’ nap schedule in order before daycare, I should have focused on getting my lack of nap schedule in order.

The good news about the project I’m going to show you today is that you can finish it in a single naptime (as long as you skip the nap yourself)!  For all my parties I like to cover my six foot folding tables with tablecloths.  It makes things look so much classier.  The problem is that most commercial tablecloths are slightly too wide for the folding tables, so they drape too far down the sides of the tables and people pull on the excess fabric when they sit down.  My tablecloths not only have the perfect drop length but they are super easy to wash and come out wrinkle free from the dryer.  On top of that, they are dirt cheap.  I buy cotton polyester broadcloth from Fabric Wholesale Direct for $2.25 a yard, a grand total of $6.75 a tablecloth.

Folding Table Cloths

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 yards of 60″ wide cotton polyester broadcloth from https://www.fabricwholesaledirect.com/
  • polyester thread to match
  1. Cut a 102″ length of broadcloth.

    Cut 102″ length of 60″ wide fabric.

  2. On one side of fabric fold under 1/2″ of broadcloth, press.  Fold over another 1/2″ to form a rolled seam.  Press & pin.

    Fold an iron a 1/2″ turned hem.

  3. Repeat step 2 with other 3 sides of fabric.  At corners, I simply fold the corner of the fabric under so the unfinished edge isn’t showing.  But if you’re more motivated you can add a mitered corner.
  4. Stitch around the entire perimeter of fabric, 1mm from the fold line.

    Tablecloths covering two 6″ folding tables.

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I survived my first week back to work!  It was about what you’d expect after being home for 6 months snuggling with a little cuddle bear.  That is to say that on the one hand there was no screaming (at least not last week) but on the other hand you can’t nap at your desk. It’s funny, the first time I walked up the three flights of stairs to my office I was shocked that I wasn’t out of breath!  Until now that I have my daily work routine back for comparison, I didn’t realize just how taxing carrying a baby was. How crazy.

While I was working, Julius went for his first “week” of daycare.  Week is in big air quotes because Thursday he was picked up early because he’d contracted pink eye and Friday he stayed home and was diagnosed with croup.  Two diseases in one week!  Apparently this is not a record of any sort.  Our pediatrician actually laughed out loud when Will told her that it was Julius’ first week of daycare.  She said that he’d be back in her office every week for a year, then he’d have perfect attendance come kindergarten.  Hopefully it’s not actually that bad!

Happy half-birthday baby boy!

Today is Julius’ half birthday!  Let’s hope he gets the gift of a full night of restful slumber!  He needs it after all that coughing…  But don’t worry, even if your little snuggler is sleeping poorly, I’ve got a quick project that will take less than an hour for times when you’re dying to get those creative juices flowing.  Make yourself a quick potholder!   You can use it to retrieve freezer aisle delicacies right from the oven, or nuclear temperature meals hot from the microwave.  (Or is that just us?!)  You can even make one to match the oven mitt pattern I posted!

Quilted Potholder

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 yard of wide bias tape (double fold bias tape)
  • 1/4 yd cotton material for front
  • 1/4 yd cotton material for back
  • 1/4 yd insulbright thermal material
  • 1/4 yd  warm and natural cotton batting
  1. Cut an 8×8 square of each front material, back material, thermal material and batting.
  2. Stack squares together in this order: back material (right side down),  thermal material, batting, front material (right side up).  Pin.

    Cut 8″x8″ squares of fabric and batting. Stack back fabric (right side down), batting, thermal fabric and front fabric (right side up).

  3. Using a ruler, draw lines 1″ apart along the bias starting at the center.
  4. Draw more lines perpendicular to the first set of lines.

    Draw lines 1″ apart along the bias

  5. Starting at the center line and using a long stitch, stitch along the bias lines you drew.

    Stitch along the lines you drew.

  6. Open out bias tape.  Pin fold of bias tape along the 1/2″ seam allowance mark of the potholder front, right sides together.  At corners of the potholder, curve the bias tape. When you reach the end of the tape, turn under 1/4″ of an inch and overlap with the beginning of the tape.  Stitch along fold line.

    Pin bias tape around edge of potholder, curving at corners.

    Close up of tape edges overlapping. Undermost edge is folded under.

  7. Trim the corners of the potholder to 1/2″ curves.  Clip curves of bias tape.

    Trim the corners and clip curves of the bias tape.

  8. Fold bias tape over the unfinished edge of the potholder.
  9. Tuck unfinished edge of bias tape back at fold.  At the overlap of the tape, make sure to fold the unfinished edge of both pieces of tape.  Pin bias tape through front side of potholder.

    Fold bias tape over unfinished edge. Pin through the front side of fabric, making sure you’ll catch the bias tape on the reverse side. Stitch close to stitching on front.

  10. Cut a 4″ piece of bias tape.  Leave folded and stitch 1mm from the unfinished edge to form a casing.
  11. Fold casing in half and insert unfinished edges under the unstitched edge of bias tape near one of the top corners of the potholder.
  12. Holding the unfinished edge securely under the bias tape, fold the casing up so the loop projects above the top of the potholder.  Pin.
  13. On right side of potholder, stitch 1mm from the original stitching of the bias tape to secure the bias tape and loop on the back side of potholder.

A stack of 21 potholders I made for Erin’s shower! (Post coming soon!)

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Upcycled Work Out Shirt

Mandy, Amy and I went to our first ever yoga and meditation retreat this weekend.  It was great fun and wholly refreshing.  I can’t wait to do another one!  This was also the first weekend I’ve spent away from Julius.  It seems Will and Julius got along fine without me (or as Will says “survived”), though Will mentioned it was very tiring.   Will sadly didn’t send me any pictures of Julius (he admitted that at one point he planned to take some pictures, but was embarrassed to send them when he realized Julius was still in his pjs and it was late afternoon).  At one point Mandy caught me back in our room watching videos I’d recorded of the little guy.

Yoga retreat

Did I mention that tomorrow is my first day back at work?  Scary, right?!  I can’t believe it’s already been nearly 6 months since Julius was born.  For the last couple months I have been communicating with our daycare director on ways to ease Julius’ transition to daycare.  Last Tuesday and Wednesday we agreed I’d bring him in for a bit to get to know the teachers and his new friends.  I guess I somehow hadn’t wrapped my head around the idea of dropping him off, so when I asked how long I should stay and she mentioned that leaving him for a couple hours would be good, I was slightly thrown off.  (Though not disappointed since I had plenty of things I could get done at home.)  Before leaving I glanced through the glass door into the infant room and saw how he was smiling and playing with some toys, and remarked to the director, “he looks so happy”!  A millisecond later I burst out crying.

How could you not miss this face?!

I didn’t think I’d be the type of mom to produce waterworks on my son’s first day at daycare.  I told the teachers just that while I stood there blubbering and apologizing as the director searched for tissues.  Their response was simply “they all cry”.  So those of you with children not yet in daycare – you’ve been warned!

Luckily it was just a one day waterworks session and I haven’t cried the next two times I dropped him off.  And more importantly Julius has been getting along just fine at daycare and he looks very happy and smiley every time I drop him off or pick him up!

During one of the 2 hour sessions I left Julius at daycare last week I whipped up something I’ve wanted to try for a while – a t-shirt turned work out shirt.  Do you have 1000 free t-shirts from high school or college that you really don’t need anymore?  (My mom recently cleaned out all the remaining junk from our rooms and forced us to take our keepsakes, so I now have an embarrassing number of shirts.)  This is a great way to turn your t-shirt into something slightly different that is totally gym or yoga appropriate.  I wore mine to the retreat Friday.

Upcycled Racerback Tank from T-shirt

What you’ll need:

  • T-shirt
  • tailor’s chalk
  • optional fabric paints & contact paper
  1. Lay your tshirt flat on a table and mark 2 inches in from the sleeve shoulder seam and a half inch below the sleeve armpit seam.
  2. Draw a curve in the shape of the  tshirt armscye connecting the shoulder seam to the armpit seam.
  3. Mark 1.5 inches in from your curves, along the shoulder seams, and 4″ below the neckline at the center of the shirt.
  4. Draw a u-shaped curve for the neckline connecting the marks you made in step 3.

    Mark new armscye and neckline

  5. Flip shirt over and move your mark at the shoulder and armpit  so it shows onto the back of the shirt.

    Transfer shoulder strap markings to back side of shirt

  6. Draw a deep curve connecting the outer mark on the shoulder to the mark below the armpit.
  7. Mark 2″ below the neckline at the center of the shirt.  Connect inner mark on shoulders with center mark to form a shallow neckline in back.

    Mark racerback shape.

  8. Cut along the markings you have made, being careful not to cut through the wrong side of the shirt.

    Cut along markings.

  9. Stitch rip the hem of the shirt, open it up and iron it flat to add some additional length to the tank (this is optional, but I always want more length in my shirts).

    Stitch rip the hem of the shirt

  10. Serge along all the unfinished edges.  (If you don’t have a serger you can use a long zigzag stitch instead).

    Serge all unfinished edges

  11. Just below the armpits form a dart 1″ wide and 3″ long.  Note, I formed this hem on the “outside” of my t-shirt because I wanted to turn it inside out so I could add my own decoration.
  12. Serge the dart, or zig zag stitch and cut excess dart material.

    Add dart to sides of shirt

To decorate

  1. Print symbol of your choice onto paper.
  2. Tape print out to contact paper.

    Print symbol and affix to contact paper.

  3. Using an X-acto knife, cut symbol into contact paper.

    Trace shape with X-acto knife.

  4. Stick contact paper onto shirt in desired location.
  5. Fabric paint on top of contact paper stencil.  Let dry.

    Affix stencil to shirt and paint over it.

  6. Remove stencil and launder as per package instructions.

    Let dry and remove stencil

    Here’s what it looked like before adding the fabric paint.

    Back of shirt


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Crinkle, crinkle little star

Happy Earth day (one day late) everyone!  I hope you spent the day doing something green!  Or at least made an extra effort to recycle!  Will and I were less Earth friendly than usual yesterday and spent the entire day driving back home from North Carolina burning fossil fuels and wasting to-go containers.  I’ll have to atone for that later.

Why were we driving Sunday, you ask?  We spent the weekend in North Carolina for Erin’s baby shower!  I’ll have a post about that soon, but in the meantime I can tell you that it was lots of fun, and the party went more smooth than ever thanks to Erin’s wonderful mom and sister in law and my wonderful mom and sister!  I’m excited to show you some photos from the party in a few weeks.  I also made Erin a couple blog worthy items.  The first were cloth wipes – they are going to try cloth diapering!  Yay for going green!  And the second was a crinkle toy that I up cycled from smartfood popcorn bags (yay recycling!)

As I mentioned in an earlier post I’ve been experimenting with embroidery again.  Specifically I discovered the joys of applique.  My mother in law gave me some applique supplies for Christmas and some applique patterns.  After she explained the process and I tried it myself a few times I started moving up to applique design and creation.  It is so much easier to create applique patterns than embroidery patterns.  I’ve created a couple cute patterns that I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks.  This is actually the second applique pattern I created.  Since Erin and Mark’s baby room (plus two of my other friend’s baby rooms) was going to be space themed I decided to create a rocket ship.  I thought I could use some materials with different textures and colors to make the rocket eye-catching for a baby crinkle toy.  I’m happy to report that this toy is Julius approved!  He really likes his rocket ship.  Make your baby their very own a rocket ship crinkle toy and let them reach for the stars while saving planet Earth!

Rocket Ship Crinkle Toy

What You’ll Need:

  • PES embroidery file here
  • 12″x8.5″ cotton fabric with stars
  • cut away embroidery stabilizer
  • 5″x7″ embroidery hoop
  • scrap fabric for rocket ship
  • spray fabric adhesive
  • 2 yards of 5/8″ ribbon
  • minky fabric
  • smartfood popcorn bag or other very crinkly potato chip bag
  1. Prewash all fabric.  Wash smartfood popcorn bag.

    Thoroughly wash popcorn bag

  2. Hoop star fabric in 5″x7″ hoop with medium weight cut away stabilizer.

    Hoop star fabric in 5″x7″ frame with medium weight cut away stabilizer

  3. Unzip the embroidery file and load the embroidery pattern onto your machine.
  4. Stitch the first guideline stitch for spacecraft body.

    Stitch guideline stitch.

  5. Cut a piece of scrap fabric larger than this guideline, lightly spray with adhesive and secure to hooped fabric

    Spray scrap material larger than guideline with spray adhesive and adhere.

  6. Tack down stitch scrap fabric.

    Tack down stitch the rocket body.

  7. Using duck bill scissors, cut very close to the stitching.  Take care not to cut any stitching.

    I don’t have a picture of cutting carefully around the body of the rocket, but here is how you use the duckbill scissors.

  8. Return to the machine and sew the final stitches to hold it in place.

    Stitch down final stitches to hold body in place.

  9. Repeat steps 2 thru 5 for fins, flames, nose cone and porthole.
  10. Stitch final embroidery stitches outlining whole project.

    Finished rocket ship in hoop.

  11. Draw an 8″x8″ square around rocket ship and interfacing. Cut.

    Cut 8″x8″ square around rocket ship.

  12. Cut 8″x8″ square of minky fabric
  13. Cut ribbon into 16 4″ segments. Fold segments in half, and pin around perimeter of rocket square’s face with fold facing towards the center.

    Fold ribbon segments in half and pin to outside of square.

  14. Stitch around edge of the square along the 1/4″ and 3/8″ marks to secure ribbon.

    Stitch along 3/8″ and 1/4″ marks to secure rirbbon.

  15. Pin minky fabric square to rocket square, right sides facing in.
  16. Stitch around the perimeter at the 1/2″ line, leaving a 3″ gap on one side.

    Stitch minky fabric to rocket ship – right sides together.  Leave gap in fabric.

  17. Clip corners and turn right side out.

    Clip corners and turn inside out.

  18. Wash smartfood popcorn bag then cut an 8″x8″ square from a corner of the bag (leaving 2 layers of plastic).
  19. Insert plastic through gap in step 12, pushing the corners of the plastic squares into the corners of the rocket ship square. Plastic will not quite fit and will warp slightly while you are inserting it. This is expected and will make the toy crinkle easily when moved.

    Insert popcorn bag into rocket body.

  20. After inserting plastic, fold the seam allowance of the gap fabric inwards. Pin the open edges together and machine stitch closed.

    Fold seam allowance in gap for stuffing under. Stitch closed on the outside of the toy.

    Finished rocket ship!

    Textured minky back of rocket ship.

    Crinkle toy action shot.

    Julius trying to shove the whole toy in his mouth

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments

Heavily Meditated

I am planning to take my first baby free weekend the week before I go back to work.  Eep.  I’m not sure yet if this is a good idea or a bad idea.  On the one hand, if I’m not ready to spend so much time away from him yet, it will be sad to force myself to do it early.  On the other hand, if he and I aren’t ready by that point, we better get ready.  For my first trip away, I am going on a yoga retreat in western Massachusetts with my sister and my friend Amy.  Worst case, it’s only an hour away, so Will offered to come meet me with the baby if it is a total nightmare.  (Hopefully it won’t come to that.)

I’ve always wanted to go on a yoga retreat.  This one is lead by my yoga teacher, April, who I credit with introducing me to the world of yoga.  The 3 day retreat includes meditation sessions and a reiki session.  Exciting!  Well since I’ve had the baby I’m way behind on my goal of meditating multiple times a week.  I was so good while I was pregnant, but I’m back off the wagon again!  This is really embarrassing but towards the end of my pregnancy and now that we have Julius I have the tendency to fall asleep while meditating.  Even before parenthood I could sleep almost anywhere (which lead to great concern one time from my friend Amy when I completely passed out on a rocky lawn in a park).  So I have to be careful to find that fine line between clearing my mind and passing out.

Either way, to prepare for meditation sessions I decided to make a meditation cloak.  The cloak is made of fleece and nice and snuggly.  Perfect for staving off a draft while you’re meditating!  And as and added bonus you look like a Jedi in it!  Since this is basically just a giant blanket with a hood, its pretty much one size fits all.

While meditating on my cushion.

Hooded Meditation Cloak

What you’ll need:

  • 90″ of 58” wide fleece (you can do wider fleece, the arms will just be longer, but definitely don’t do narrower)
  • hook and eye closure
  • hood pattern here
  1. Cut a 90″ section of fleece.
  2. Cut a 45 inch slit from the bottom of the fleece rectangle to the middle, perpendicular to the selvage (see picture).  The slit will be 45 inches long and 29 inches from either side.  Easiest way to do this is to fold in half the long way and cut a 45 inch long slit along the fold.

    Cut 45″ slit along lengthwise fold.

  3. Cut out hood.
  4. Stitch hood together along curve.

    Pin and stitch hood along curve.

  5. Stitch a 3/4″ rolled hem along the face of the hood.

    Form 3/4″ rolled hem along all sides, and hood front.

  6. Stitch a 3/4″ rolled hem all along the perimeter of the square, stopping when you get to the slit.  At each corner, form a mitered corner.
  7. The portion at the slit is a bit tricky.  Line the hood seam up with the center of the slit, and pin, right sides together.
  8. Stitch the hood to the cape leaving 1.5″ seam allowance.

    Attach hood to slit (neck edge) right sides facing, leaving 1.5″ seam allowance.

  9. Turn the seam allowance under to form a 3/4″ rolled hem.  Stitch along the whole inner portion of cape from corner to corner (once again forming mitered corners.)

    A close up view of what the hood should look like when attached.

    Fold under seam allowance on slit all the way up to where it attaches to the hood.

  10. Hand stitch the clasp to either side of the cape directly below where the cape meets the hood.

    Hand sew closures on, just below hood.

  11. Zen out!

    Front view

    Back view

    What it looks like when I raise my arms…


Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments

A Dicey Endeavor

So this past weekend was PAX!  PAX, for those who don’t know, is the Penny Arcade Expo; a convention for all things nerdy produced by the creators of a webcomic empire.  This year, we decided to take Julius along for the ride.  This was a bold decision, and one that we are overall pretty happy with.  We had a hotel room in the hotel that is connected to the convention center, which was extremely necessary.  On one hand the convention is so loud, and Julius is so distracted while eating, that I had to go back to the peace and quiet of the hotel room to let him eat.  On the other hand, the white noise was perfect for napping, so Julius napped in the stroller more than he has ever done during the course of a normal day.  This meant, as long as we didn’t mind occasionally waiting 20 minutes between turns, we could play anything we wanted.  Plus, after Julius went to bed, we could play anything we wanted.

Julius is ready for PAX.
(You may recognize the pink yoshi hoodie)

Julius and Will looking at a giant display I think.

Player 3 has entered the game (and he looks exhausted)

On the second day, we made a big mistake.  We checked out of the hotel.  This caused two problems: firstly we had nowhere quiet for Julius to eat and secondly, we couldn’t do anything after his 7pm bedtime.  That, combined with the fact that we didn’t want to subject our friends to the “occasionally waiting 20 minutes between turns” rule meant I did very little gaming.  I DID manage to buy some really sweet dice though, more on that later.  We both agreed that, PAX with a 5 month old baby is totally do-able and even enjoyable, but also agreed that if we were to do it all over again, we’d keep the hotel room one extra night.

So many dice!

So more on those dice!  For a while now, I’ve wanted to make dice jewelry.  I have some sweet mini-d20 earrings, but I wanted more!  So I went to the chessex booth and searched through their seconds bin (.30 cents a piece!!) until I found some cute d4s to make into earrings.  Then I found some cool d20s, and some %ds and d6s and then I accidentally had a full cup of dice.  It was like looking for seashells or rocks at the beach.  You spend what seems like a few minutes, and actually turns into an hour, looking at one little patch of sand, to find you’ve a small mountain of discarded crustacean houses that would look great as jewelry, but in actuality you’ll never use.  Or is that just me?  I suspect it’s not just me because there were two other women and one man digging through the Chessex bin with me, but for an even longer period of time.  Bottomline?  Expect some upcoming posts on ideas for dice jewelry.  Additional bottomline?  If you pick out an entire cup full of dice, your dice only cost 20 cents a piece!  (Though if you randomly scooped a cupful they were only 13 cents a piece…)

D4 Earrings

What you’ll need:

  1. Put on safety goggles.  I don’t say this enough, but after a scary incident with paint thinner I ALWAYS wear safety goggles when doing anything crafty.  Drilling is one of those things where even before the paint thinner incident I would have worn safety glasses.
  2. First you’ll need to drill a hole straight through your D4.  It is highly recommended that you use a drill press for this.  Insert 1/16″ drill bit in drill.  If you have a drill press, clamp D4 so desired number is facing up.  Position drill bit over vertex of pyramid and lower drill press until you’ve cut clean through the die.  If you don’t have a drill press, clamp D4 upside down in your vice, so desired number is facing down, and flat plane is facing up.  Position your hand held drill over the center of the die face and carefully drill through the die, readjusting to guarantee you’ll drill through the tip of the die on the bottom.

    Drill straight through face of die.  I used a rubber jar opener to cushion my die in the vice.

  3. Sand any sharp edges caused by drilling.

    Sand any rough spots caused by drilling

  4. Insert head pin up through the bottom of the D4 so the flat side of the die rests on the head of the pin.

    Insert head pin through bottom of die

  5. Using your pliers, shape the excess wire into a 3mm ring.

    Shape excess wire into a loop.

  6. Insert ear wire into ring.

    Insert loop onto ear wire.

  7. Wear with pride!

    Wear with pride!

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments