DIY Zippered Pillow that is Easy Unlike Parenting

Well parenting is hard.  More difficult than I imagined really, and I thought it seemed pretty difficult.  I have newfound appreciation or maybe even reverence for my parents.  I think that instead of flowers and ties every Mother and Father’s day I should have been buying my parents cruises to the Bahamas or Lamborghinis.  At this point in time, it is really difficult for me to fathom how it is possible to raise more than one child.  I can’t even imagine having twins.

And it’s not just the lack of sleep either – I know that was the main thing I’d imagined caused difficulty.  But its so much more than that.  On top of the fact that you’re already drained from pregnancy and the birth process, there are so many things that come with caring for a newborn.

My normal day is now mostly taken up by breastfeeding in some form.  Breastfeeding infants eat 8 to 12 times a day.  My little guy is a slow eater (probably because of the nipple shield I have to use) so breastfeeding sessions take somewhere between 15 minutes and an hour.  If he’s cluster feeding, there are more sessions than usual.  I also have to pump in between sessions which is time consuming.  Aside from breastfeeding, diaper changes take up the next chunk of my time.  Yesterday we changed his diaper 12 times (that we remembered to record).  After diaper changes I spend my time cleaning & sanitizing breast pump parts and nipple shields and doing laundry (he can soil many outfits a day, plus any towels or covers I get dirty while feeding or bathing him.  After that I finally spend time playing with him or determining why he’s upset.  Then if I’m lucky I’ll have some time left to tidy up the house, and maybe shower.  And finally if there is anything left it is time to sleep.

The biggest problem with all this infant time is that breastfeeding doesn’t take much thinking after you get him latched, and right now for me it usually involves both hands.  This means it is a fairly boring task and as adorable as the little guy is, sitting around watching him feed is not overly stimulating.  Martha Stewart has solved this problem for me!  I have started watching clips and reruns of old Martha episodes on YouTube while I feed Julius.  I think he’s started to get used to it to the point where if he were ever to meet Martha in person, he would take an instant liking to her.

Well here’s a craft project Martha could put on her show!  A simple zippered pillow case!  I made this for the rocker in Julius’ nursery and I have been using it while I breastfeed.

Simple Zippered Pillow

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 yard of material of your choice
  • 16″x16″ pillow form
  • 9″ zipper (or use any size up to 14″ zipper)
  1. Cut your 1/2 yard of material into two 17″x17″ squares.
  2. Place fabric squares right sides together and pin.  Stitch two sides of the pillow.

    Pin pillow together.

  3. Baste 3rd side of the pillow.
  4. Lay out your zipper on top of the basted side.   Mark 1/2″ out from the where the teeth end and begin.  Stitch from edge of pillow to this mark on either side along your basting line, leaving the stitching inside these markings as just basting.

    Place zipper on basted side of pillow., right side down. Mark 1/2″ above and below the start and end of the zipper teeth and reinforce by stitching to this marking from either end of the pillow over your basting.

  5. Pin your zipper in between the markings you made in above step, face down.  With a zipper foot baste around the zipper.
  6. Remove the basting in between your markings.  Unzip the zipper and stitch around the zipper to secure fully.

    Remove basting in between zipper opening. Stitch with zipper foot all around zipper.

  7. Stitch 4th side.
  8. Turn right side out through the zipper.

    Turn right side out through zipper.

  9. Insert pillow form through the zipper opening.

    Finished zippered pillow sitting on our glider!


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Medieval Feast

I am so embarrassed that I have never posted on this blog any info or pictures of our Medieval Party!  Since we’ve owned the house Will and I have been hosting the Medieval Party in various forms.  Usually the party is focused around a multi course feast lasting well into the night that includes tournaments of some kind beforehand and a costume contest.  This year we held an abridged version of the party with a much smaller invite list and just feasting – I didn’t feel up to hosting the full blown edition.

Tournaments and Activities

In the past we’ve held different “tournaments” where participants win “valuable” prizes (like honey, incense or tarot cards).  Here are some of the tournaments and activities we’ve held:

Tarot trick taking tournament/love letter tournament

Love letter tournament in progress

Archery Contest

Archery target set up in the distance.

Ka takes aim at the target while spectators look on.

Nerf Sword Fighting

Andrew dodges Will’s swordpoint.

Mark and Sal come to a stalemate

Kathleen and I have an uncontrollable laughing fit during our sword match.

Costume Contest

We’ve seen some awesome costumes over the years…  Here are just a few…

Will and Andrew sharing a pint of ale

The Bhimji family in full fantasy getup

Joe in his plague mask

Brian and Kathleen in dragon and fair maiden attire

Mead Tasting

We purchased several varieties of mead, fitted them with 1 oz pour spouts and provided tiny cups (with bees on them!).

Aaron advertising our mead tasting setup as Ka looks on.

Dining Atmosphere

We usually dine in our outdoor porch, or as we like to call it our Great Hall, with the exception of one year where it was far too cold.  We hang felt banners that I made with house from assorted real and fantasy heritages.  The tables are simply decorated with mead bottles serving as candle holders.

At the feast I cover the tables in cloths and provide guests with spoons, mugs and chalices.  I also scatter some shared knives around the table.  Guests are instructed that it is polite to wipe their hands on the table cloths and use their hands to eat.  Instead of plates I provide small trenchers (I find that ciabatta bread works perfectly as a trencher since it doesn’t leak much – though its not really authentic).  In the middle ages the trenchers would be given as alms to the poor after the meal, but my guests usually choose to eat them.

Crests (that I made from felt) grace the great hall.

Mugs, spoons and knives set the feast table in our great hall.

Feast Food

The feast menu varies slightly every year – but there are some staple dishes like pork pies, chicken legs and beef stew.  If I have any vegetarians attending I’ll make spinach pie as well.  While the menu is semi-authentic, semi-fantasy I try to keep the vegetables and meats authentic to the time period – so I try to avoid using potatoes or tomatoes or anything from the New World.

Appetizers (usually served during the tournaments):

Pickles, olives and pita chips with some fabulous prizes shown in the background.

Homemade pickles  – I use this recipe and omit the sugar

olives & hummus (store-bought)

Main Feast

Beef stew in foreground with lemon salat in background.

Beef stew

Pork Pie

Pork Pies  –  I use this recipe for pork pie, but I always use chopped up raspberries instead of currants (because I can never find currants).  This year I mashed the raspberries instead of chopping them and people declared it was the best version yet.  This is my go-to dough recipe for all my pies.

Chicken legs

Chicken legs – I use this recipe but instead of turkey legs (which are from the New World) I use 20 chicken legs.

Lemon salat – this is literally just very thinly sliced lemons served with sugar in the raw for dipping.  It is a crowd favorite as it tastes like sour patch kids.

A toast! What’s left of the root salad and a pork pie are in the center of the table.

Root salat – Great because it can be made the morning of, chilled and served cold.

Cabbage chowder.

Cabbage Chowder (from The Medieval Cookbook)


Shrewsbery cakes

Shrewsbery cakes in the foreground, medieval gingerbread in the background.

Medieval Gingerbread

Cream Custard Tart (from The Medieval Cookbook)

Posted in Culinary Delights, Parties | Leave a comment


Warning, this is Julius’ birth story.  I tried not to be graphic but it is pretty comprehensive.  TL;DR – we had a baby, his name is Julius.

I went to the doctor for my every 3 day checkup and non-stress test (NST) early Monday morning on November 6th.  I had told them three days before that I didn’t want to be induced as long as the baby was still doing well.  Well on this particular visit my blood pressure was really high and I was looking really swollen with edema.  Then the baby didn’t move very much during the 15 minute NST.  My blood pressure combined with the swelling was enough for the doctor to put me on the induction list for 4pm that afternoon.  The induction list is called via triage order (since many people opt to induce for comfort reasons) but the swelling and blood pressure meant I was going to be high on the triage list and would be induced sometime that evening.

After calling Will and telling him he needed to be home sooner rather than later, I headed home.  On the drive I mentally prepared the list of things I needed to accomplish before 4pm.  While pondering the list the doctor called me back and said he was concerned about the NST and wanted me to head to the hospital for a biophysical profile on the baby just to be on the safe side.  If the result was concerning they would induce me immediately.  I called Will and my mom and turned around to head back to the hospital.

Luckily the biophysical profile came back good, but at this point it was 1pm and I only had 3 hours until they started calling the induction list.  That was basically only enough time for me to get home and back to the hospital.  The doctor was thinking something similar and he checked the amniotic fluid levels and they were borderline (since I was 41 weeks, 3 days pregnant).  He recommended they start the induction process immediately.

In all honesty I really did not want to be induced.  Not only did I want to let things go naturally, but I had heard horror stories from several people about how the whole process was very long and painful.  I was under the delusion that I would try and go without medicine for as long as possible (in all honesty I was more terrified of getting an epidural than I was of giving birth), but the induction stories I heard made me think this wouldn’t work out.  They start the process by inserting a foley balloon catheter into your cervix that they then inflate with saline.  Next they give you a low dose of misoprostal every 4 hours which should start contractions and help push the balloon onto your cervix and encourage the cervix to dilate and ripen.  They keep you strapped to the bed for the first 2 hours after they give you the misoprostal so they can monitor your contractions and the baby’s heart rate.  They repeat the misoprostal procedure up to 5 times until your cervix is ripe (TWENTY HOURS).

I had heard the catheter insertion was painful.  Luckily I had the “self proclaimed queen of Foley catheters” put mine in.  And I can tell you she really was the queen – I barely felt anything.  She said it may have helped that I was 1 cm dilated already, but we all know it was really because I was lucky enough to have a seasoned veteran insert mine.  After the balloon insertion they took me up to the antenatal unit to hook me up to monitoring machines and give me a dose of misoprostal.  This process was painful, but bearable.  The first dose of misoprostal started contractions that were pretty painful.  My mom and Will watched me do breathing exercises while I waited for 2 hours to be up so I could go walk around or do anything but be strapped to the bed.  As soon as I got out of bed the balloon popped out.  Unfortunately losing the balloon didn’t trigger a stop to the 20 hour misoprostal procedure.  So after the full 4 hours went by they strapped me to the bed again and gave me another dose.  This one caused contractions but they weren’t as bad.  They just felt like the bad period cramps that I had been feeling the past few days.  When they started the second dose it was around 7pm and I forced my mom to go home and get dinner (she hadn’t eaten lunch OR dinner since she accompanied me to the doctor in the morning and then to the NST since Will was still en route from work at that point).  I was now feeling pretty glum that this would take the full twenty hours.

After they let me out of the bed the second time, I went for another walk around the hospital wing even though the contractions weren’t as painful.  When I got back to the room they had definitely increased in intensity, but they still didn’t seem as bad as the ones I experienced while the catheter was in.  I started swaying back and forth from leg to leg to make myself feel better, and at this point my mom called to see how things were going.  I responded darkly that I would probably be there all night and would call with any news.  After another few minutes of swaying I felt a pop and a gush of fluid.  It wasn’t a gallon of liquid like the movies but I was 99% sure my water had broken.  We called my mom and she raced back to the hospital.

Well it turns out in the antenatal unit they keep giving you the misoprostal in the 4 hours increments even after your water has broken, and even while you are in full blown labor.  The trigger for you to get down to the labor and delivery floor is for you to tell them you are in so much pain you need painkillers.  This bothered me because as I mentioned I really wanted to avoid painkillers as long as possible.

I guess my body realized what this meant and went into overdrive.  The contractions started becoming really painful to the point where I couldn’t easily breathe through them or talk.  This is where I employed Will’s help to use a breathing technique that is made to distract you from the pain.  Let me tell you – it helped a lot.  My mom arrived during one of the contractions while the nurse was telling me they were going to put me on more misoprostal in another 20 minutes.  Luckily I couldn’t talk or I probably would have said something I regretted.  In another five minutes the contractions got so bad that I realized I needed an epidural to get through the rest of the process.  The contractions were coming in waves of 3 on top of each other with less than a minute in between each cluster.  Turns out, labor is painful.  Since I’d finally made the decision to throw in the towel and get the epidural, my number one concern was that I wouldn’t be able to stay still long enough during each contraction for them to administer the epidural.

Admitting I wanted an epidural finally triggered them to call in the doctor.  It seemed like it took hours for her to come and once she said I was ready for the labor room it felt like forever that I had to wait to get downstairs.  At one point I told my mom I would be happy to walk downstairs myself and didn’t need a wheelchair or gurney.  My mom walked out to see what was taking so long, and it turns out another woman was waiting to be taken to the labor floor as well and it would take a while to get a second gurney for me.  Mom jokingly relayed my statement that I would be happy to walk to the labor room myself, or in all seriousness use a wheelchair.  Luckily wheelchair was the magic word and I got wheeled down to the labor and delivery room immediately.  Honestly, it was all worth the wait because my nurse (like all the other nurses from here on out) was amazing.  I think I got to the labor and delivery room around 1:30am, though neither Will nor I really remember.

Luckily, with my nurses help, I was able to hold still during the contractions to get the epidural.  After I got the epidural I felt so much better.  Everyone commented how I was extra smiley during the rest of the labor process, I told them that it was because epidurals were magic!  I could still feel the contractions but they again felt like bad period cramps.  I was told if I didn’t want to feel them at all I could press a button to up the dose for a short period of time.  They even recommended that we all sleep to prepare for the labor process.    After a couple hours the doctor came in to check on my progress.  He asked me if we knew the baby’s sex and what we were going to name it (or if it was a secret).  I told him we were planning on naming him Julius and his reply was, “well, little Julius is a good boy.  You’re fully dilated and he’s +3!  Feel free to push anytime.”  After he left the room, I pushed three times and the nurse told me to stop.  She called the doctor to the room for delivery and I pushed two more times and got to meet Julius at 6:01am on November 7th.  He was screaming bloody murder!  I didn’t realize babies cry so much when they come into the world!  I’ll never forget those first few moments when I got to hold him.  I felt terrible that he was crying so much!  Once he finally calmed down he furrowed his little brow and peered out at the world through his giant eyes taking everything in like a tiny wise old man.

This is the first picture of me and Julius – minutes after birth. Will says he loves this photo because this as the moment that I became a mom.

Picture of our new little family (minus Dany who they wouldn’t let in the hospital).

Here’s Julius’ hospital photo (he’s 2 days old)!

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Just a Small Smackerel

Well, my laissez faire version of beekeeping this year seems to have completely worked out.  I hived the bees, and literally have not opened the hive the entire season, but just from observing the hive exterior it seems to be rocking!  Had I been interfering more I probably would have put another hive box on halfway through the season, but I just decided to let them be.  The one thing I did decide to do this year is put a mouse guard on the hive this autumn to prevent any rodents from entering as the days start to cool off.

Since I took the hands off approach to beekeeping this year the only beekeeping related thing I’ve done is finally harvest that box of honey left over from last season’s bees.  It has been sitting in my garage since last spring, waiting to be harvested.  A couple weeks ago, Will moved it closer to the garage entrance and I left my garage door opened on my way out to an errand, only to discover the bees had found the honey!  I had to wait until sundown when the bees returned to the hive to close the garage door and for the last couple weeks I’ve had to be extremely careful to close the garage when leaving.

After a couple weeks, I finally grew tired of this caution and finally decided to harvest the honey.  We finally used the honey extractor that I purchased so many years ago!  Luckily the extractor hasn’t been going to waste all this time – two of my other beekeeping friends have been able to use it several times.  One of them lent me their sieve, and that is where a large portion of the honey is now draining after the whole process.

Our process was simple – I used a large serrated knife to decap the frames while Will spun out the honey from the frames in the extractor, two frames at a time.  We probably could have done four frames at once but it took me so long to decap the frames, that Will was actually ahead of me in the spinning process.  Things were going swimmingly until some wasps and hornets found the frames and I accidentally put my hand on a wasp which promptly stung me.  Bees don’t bother me one bit, but wasps and hornets scare the heck out of me.  They are so much more aggressive than docile bees and really give bees a bad rap for just sharing the same color spectrum.

My favorite part of the whole process was that Dany would try to get very near the frames, very slowly and carefully, with her tongue partially stuck out the whole time.  It was as if she was thinking, “if my tongue just accidentally grazes this honey as I walk by, I can’t get in trouble for stealing it.”  It was rather comical to watch her approach the frames “stealthily” and I just kept picturing Winnie the Pooh.  After we finished spinning out all the frames, I let Dany play clean up crew around dusk when the bees and wasps had left.  She seemed to enjoy that.

After the honey drains I’ll have to strain it – then it will be ready for mead – or my normal breakfast routine!

Here I am decapping the frames.

Dany looks on, concerned, as Will loads the frames into the extractor.

Will spins the extractor.

Dany playing clean up crew.

Our honey harvest draining into a 5 gallon bucket (we didn’t get nearly 5 gallons though!

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Cardboard Paper Organizer

Well, no baby yet.  They actually asked me if I wanted to be induced at my last visit, but I felt that I could let him stay in there a little longer.  If he doesn’t want to come out and he’s still doing okay, I won’t evict him yet.  They won’t let him stay in there much longer anyway.  But last time I promised you an entry about something non-baby related!  So here is something I made this week that has nothing to do with babies!

Several years ago I bought this awesome giant old desk off Craigslist.  I stripped it and refinished it in a chestnut color and put it in the office.  I really am happy with how it came out.  Its super neat too because we can fit a printer inside it hidden in its side cabinet with a super study pull out shelf.  I’m not exactly sure what the side cabinet was for – I’m guessing it was for a typewriter, but we are unable to get the shelf to lift up to desk height anymore, even though I’m positive the massive mechanical contraption holding it up should be capable of that.  But it still makes a great printer drawer!

Anyway, while cleaning out the closet in the baby’s room to make room for baby stuff, one of the closets I had to clean out was the closet in the study.  This lead me to move around a bunch of reams of paper that we kept in the closet.  Unfortunately I moved some of the reams under the printer in the cabinet I described above, which caused the very thin shelf underneath the printer (clearly not meant to be a shelf) to collapse.  We added a new shelf earlier this week that is much sturdier but probably still cannot hold 8 reams of paper.  So instead I decided to find one of those paper organizers to fit under the printer.  I plan to store a few types of paper in the cabinet, and return the majority of the paper to the closet again.

Well of course, none of the paper organizers I could find would fit in the space under the printer.  So I was “forced” to make my own.  On the bright side it cost me practically nothing because I used cardboard boxes I had lying around, hot glue, and some stick on wallpaper I had bought for another project.  I made the entire organizer 4 shelves, but in the end there was a metal structure way in the back under the printer shelf that I didn’t account for when measuring, so I had to rip the fourth shelf off.  Now it fits perfectly and still allows the printer to slide out.

DIY Paper Organizer

  • 2 yards of sturdy scrap corrugated cardboard
  • ~ 2 yards of peel and stick wallpaper (optional for aesthetic purposes only)
  • hot glue

  1. Using a right angle and the diagram above as a guide, draw 4 copies on your cardboard.

    Draw four copies of diagram using a right angle ruler. Note the diagram is not to scale.

  2. Cut out 4 copies using an X-acto knife.
  3. Cut out a 11.5″x9″ rectangle of cardboard for the top of the assembly.

    Cut out an 11.5″x9″ cardboard rectangle for top.

  4. Score the cardboard with a blunt object at the dotted fold lines in the diagram.  Fold up cardboard along those lines.

    Fold the cardboard up at dotted lines in picture.

  5. Cut a 14.5″x10″ piece of wallpaper and stick it to the top of the cardboard in the spaces marked on the diagram.  1″ should overhang the front edge of the cardboard lip – fold this under to hide the unfinished cardboard edge.

    Place wallpaper over designated area in picture and fold excess under front lip.

  6. Fold the left tab marked A under the flap marked A on the right.  Apply glue and press together.
  7. Repeat for tabs marked B.

    Glue flap marked B under tab marked B.

  8. Fold the side tab marked C over the back tab marked C and glue in place.
  9. Repeat for tabs marked D. At this point you should have one level of the box completed.

    Fold back flap marked D over side flap marked D. Glue in place.

  10. Repeat construction for other 3 levels (steps 4-10).
  11. When all 4 boxes have been built, glue them together by placing glue along the top lip of the box and placing another box on top.

    Glue boxes together by placing glue along the upper lip and stacking. I found it easier to line them up by lining up their side edges.

  12. Cut an 11.5″x2″ piece of wallpaper and stick it over the front of the top cardboard assembly.
  13. When you reach the top level, place glue along the top lip and glue the top cardboard assembly (wallpaper side out) to the top.

    Glue the top cardboard flap to the last layer.

  14. Cut a rectangle of wallpaper large enough to cover the back of the box.  Affix to back of box.
  15. Cut a rectangle of wallpaper large enough to cover the top and sides of the box, that will slightly overhang the depth of the back of the box.  Wrap around the box and fold the excess wallpaper over the back edge of the box.

    Finished paper holder!

    Paper holder under my printer – note it is down to only 3 levels now!




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Baby, I even made you a crib skirt, its time to come out

Well, the baby’s due date was Saturday and that day came and went.  Will and I went for long hikes in the woods with Dany all weekend, but to no avail so far!  Dany seemed to enjoy them at least.  I’ve been on leave for two weeks now (and good thing too, because I’m getting those more obscure end of pregnancy symptoms now such as carpal tunnel).  I was very productive the first week and I think everything I can do pre-baby to set up the baby’s room (ie. no painting) has officially been done.  What I’m trying to say is, we’re ready for you baby, let’s go!

My co-workers have started texting me regularly to ask if I’ve had the baby yet.  So I guess its not just Will & I who are getting anxious to meet this baby.  I know our family is also anxious because we’ve been getting periodic texts and calls from them as well.  Today I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize (which I usually don’t pick up) and it was my mom calling from the hospital.  For perspective, I don’t think my mom has EVER called anyone from the hospital.  She was calling to jokingly let me know that it was a good day to have a baby since there were a lot of beds available.  Hopefully the little guy heard that and gets a move on!

Since I’ve found myself with some free time on my hands I’ve started tackling some non-baby related projects around the house.  You’ll be able to read about those in future posts.   But for now, here’s another baby related project I completed!  The baby’s crib skirt now matches his curtains (but I’m sure if he’s anything like his father he will not even notice).

DIY Crib Skirt

What you’ll need:

  • 2 yards of 44″ fabric for the ruffle
  • 2 yards of fabric for under crib mattress
  1. Cut your under crib fabric to a width of XxY.  Cut out 4 right triangles that are 4″ long on the legs from the same material.

    Cut out right triangles for crib skirt reinforcement.

  2. Fold under the hypotenuse of each triangle by 1/2″ and stitch.  These triangles will reinforce the crib corners.
  3. Cut out 2 44″x12″ strips of fabric, 2 34″x12″ strips of fabric and 2 40″x12″ strips of fabric for the ruffle.
  4. Take one 44″ and one 34″ strips and stitch together with 1/2″ seam allowance to form one 77″x12″ piece.  Repeat for other two strips.

    Stitch 44″ piece and 34″ piece together.

  5. Press each rectangle along the sides and bottom to form a 1/4″ rolled hem.  Pin.  At the corners, form a mitered corner (this post describes how to do that).

    Press 1/4″ rolled seam around sides and bottom of each panel.

  6. Stitch.

    Stitch 1/4″ seam

  7. Stitch a long basting stitch 1/2″ from the unfinished top of each rectangle to use for gathering the skirt.

    Stitch long basting stitch for gathering skirt in top of each panel.

  8. At each corner of your crib fabric rectangle place a triangle from step 2 right side up.

    Pin triangle right side up to crib lining. Note I am showing one of the panels pinned here as well.

  9. Pin a 77″ rectangle along one of the long ends of the crib fabric, by matching up side seams with the sides of the crib rectangle.  Make sure they are right sides together.
  10. Pull up the gathers to fit.  Pin and stitch.

    Pin long side of crib cover to 77″ swag on each end. Pull up basting to fit. Pin & stitch.

  11. Pin a 44″ rectangle along the short end of the crib fabric, overlapping the 77″ rectangle.
  12. Pull up the gathers to fit.  Pin and stitch.  Repeat for other two sides.

    Final crib skirt after hanging up to dry.

    Place crib skirt below mattress.

    Final crib skirt shown with our new crib!

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I swear, this is not Nesting

Will and I cleaned the entire house this weekend!!  I know that a bunch of people are going to comment that cleaning your house is a sign of nesting… but that just isn’t true for me.  I really don’t believe nesting exists or if it does exist I don’t believe I have gotten it.  I have a perfectly logical reason for cleaning our house – it was REALLY messy.  All the lovely gifts that everyone shipped to us took up a lot of space so they’ve been occupying our living room, the babies room and the upstairs landing.  Really creating quite a trip hazard.  Last week, when my leave from work started, I washed everything – diapers, baby clothes, blankets, etc.  (And that was also not because of nesting, just because at some point I needed to wash everything, and since the baby could arrive at any moment sooner was better than later.  Plus without any washed baby clothes I couldn’t fully pack my maternity bag and at 38 weeks everyone tells you you are crazy if your bag isn’t packed yet.)

After I did all the washing I was left with piles of packaging and boxes that needed to be sorted appropriately into recycling and trash.  I also quickly realized I had no where to put the baby’s clothes except the closet which at the time was holding all our spare linens.  In order to create space for the baby’s clothes in the closet I had to move the billion comforters and sheets and sleeping bags into other locations around the house, which meant slightly reorganizing two other closets.  (There is perfect logic to this – I didn’t just decide – ‘this random closet is messy, let me clean it’!  I was forced to reorganize to make room for all this new gear we got for the baby!)  Anyway.  After that was done I was left with more piles of things – things to donate.  All these piles of recycling and donations and gifts means poor Roomba hasn’t been able to properly run for weeks.  And have I ever mentioned that corgis are notorious shedders?   Hence in the last few weeks our house became dirty and filled with piles of crap!  Are you starting to believe I just needed to clean?  I hope so.

Anyway – Will helped me break down all the boxes, and then took a ton of the boxes to our recycling center because we literally ran out of room in our garage.  Then we moved all the donation stuff to the back of my car (I’ll need to make a trip to Savers at some point soon).  And I somehow managed to get all the gifts put away after reorganizing the closets.  Finally we dusted and vacuumed and now the house looks glorious!  See?  Perfectly logical, non-hormonal reasons for cleaning the house.

On top of cleaning and decluttering the house, I was able to actually finish the curtains for the nursery!  I finally found some fabric I liked!  I ordered way too much so I have been working on several projects that will use the print.    The curtains I made are basic relaxed roman shades.  They have a single swag, so they were pretty simple to make.  Since cords are not child-friendly I decided to make them faux-roman shades.  They are simply tied permanently in their current position (well semi-permanently, I could eventually convert to real shades if I wanted).  All total they took me about 2 days to make and one of those days was 90% measuring and cutting!

Relaxed roman shades

DIY Relaxed Roman Shades

What you’ll need:

  • Fabric and lining fabric – this will depend on your total measurements from step 1 and 2 and the width of your fabric.  I required 5 yards of 44″ fabric.
  • 1/4″ dowel – mine needed to be 36 5/8″ wide
  • 10-12 1/2″ plastic rings
  • string or ribbon
  • scrap wood in your window width
  • 3 “L” mounting brackets
  • staple gun
  1. Using a fabric measuring tape measure the droop of the swag.  For me my window width was 36 5/8″ and my swag with droop looked best at 39″.  Next measure the total drop of your shade – if you want a functional shade this should be the entire length of the window from where you are going to hang it to the sill.  Non-functional shades can be less.  Also choose what size wood you will use for mounting.  I used scrap wood from my friend that was 2″x2″.
  2. To find the width of your shade add the depth of the mount (2″ for me), the droop of the swag, and 3″ for seam allowance.  Add 3″ seam allowance to the total drop of your shade for the length.
  3. Cut out a length of fabric for your shade that is the width and length you found in step 2.  Note: if your fabric width is less than the width you need for your shade, you will need to attach two pieces of fabric together.  Make the seamline on the corners of the fabric (where the corner of the mount will hit) and add 1/2″ to each piece of fabric so you can stitch it together.
  4. Cut out a length of fabric for your lining that is the width – 3″  x length – 3″ in step 2.  (This should be the width and length minus seam allowance).

    Cut out lining fabric for curtains – omit seam allowance.

  5. Fold and press the length of the fabric under 1/2″ on either end.  Fold and press under another inch.

    Press under 1/2″ and 1″ along length. (Shown here pressing the final 1″)

  6. Slip the lining inside your fabric so the edges of the lining touch the folds you made in step 5.  Make sure the place the lining so it sits 1.5″ from the top and bottom of the main fabric.
  7. Pin the main fabric to the lining along the 1/2″ fold line, right sides together.  (The edge of the fabric should be 1/2″ from the edge of the lining.)  Stitch along the fold line, stopping 1″ from the lining on top and bottom, then repeat for the second edge.

    Pin lining along first foldline.

  8. For the bottom and top hem, fold under 1/2″ and press, then 1″ and press.  Form a mitered corner.  I explain mitered corners in this post.  (Note the picture shows a thinner top hem, but it is easier if you keep all the same hems the same width like I specify in the instructions here. )

    Hem top and bottom of curtain as in step above, and add a mitered corner.

  9. Hand stitch the top and bottom hem using the flat catch stitch.  At this point you should insert a dowel into the center of the bottom hem.  Width should be the width of your window.

    Flat catch stitch the top and bottom hems.

  10. Next press your excess drop length into a pleat down from the the corner of the mount.  For me I had about 1 1/8″ of excess on each end, and I have a 2″ deep mount.  So I marked the 2″ line and folded under slightly more than 1/2″ of fabric to meet this line and pressed.

    Press excess drop width

  11. Repeat on the other side.
  12. Starting at the bottom hem, mark in 1 foot increments up the shade, along the mount depth line (for me this was 2″ in).  This is the positioning for your rings.

    Mark down the fabric in1 foot increments from the mount corner . This will be your ring positioning.

  13. Hand sew rings up the shade at the positions you marked.

    Hand stitch rings along the markings you made.

  14. Prepare your shade mount by cutting it to the width of the window.

    Cut your shade mount to the width of the window.

  15. Cover the mount in cheap scrap fabric using a staple gun.

    Cover the mount in scrap fabric.

  16. Staple the top of the shade to the top of your mount, lining up the edges of the shade with where the mount will hit the wall, and the pleats with the front corner of the mount.

    Staple top of shade to top of mount, use care to keep pleats intact.

  17. Mount your shade to the wall by screwing “L” brackets to the bottom of your mounting board.  Screw the “L” brackets into your wall above the window.

    Screw “L” brackets to bottom side of mounting board.

  18. Finally thread some string or ribbon through the rings on each side of the fabric and tie together at your desired height.

    Finished curtains tied at highest height.

    Curtain and crib.

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DogGone Transport

A lot of people have been commenting on Dany and the baby’s arrival.  We’ve gotten questions about what we’re doing to acclimate her, what we’re going to do with her when we leave for the hospital and comments that she’s going to become second string soon.  The last one is the most heartbreaking!  My poor only dog-child!  But as a first born child, I know that you can survive splitting your parent’s affection…  (Even if it splitting the affection between a human and a dog.)  Will and I just hope Dany is going to like the new baby!

We of course have plans for Dany when we head to the hospital.  I’m not going to leave my fur baby all alone for long!  My original plan was to head to my parents house to drop her off when I started having contractions, but my dad has volunteered to go up and get her instead.  I also have several friends and neighbors who have volunteered to take care of her while we’re out if for some reason that doesn’t work out!

And as far as acclimating her… I’m positive she has an idea something is going on, but isn’t really sure what.  I don’t think I mentioned how Dany refused to look at me or go near me for the entire first trimester.  She was completely afraid of me.  I think she could smell the hormone changes and didn’t know it was me anymore.  The funny thing is she started acting funny slightly before we found out I was pregnant so I thought I had done something to her – like accidentally stepped on her or something!  Part way into the second trimester she warmed back up to me, so I must have started smelling like myself again.  Now its as if nothing ever happened.  She wants to be pet and snuggled like usual.  I think she is a bit annoyed my belly is so big because she can’t snuggle right up to my chest anymore while I’m petting her.

At the infant care class we took they gave some suggestions for acclimating pets before the baby comes including letting them sniff around the baby’s room and keeping the car seat around the house.  The car seat proposed a new problem since Dany used to be our only back seat passenger.  In the past we had a hammock like this one but it spans the entire back of the car.  Last week I decided to make a smaller version that spans only two seats, and has a short wall next to the car seat.  We’ve taken Dany in it a few times and she seems to be okay with it.  And most importantly she hasn’t jumped onto the car seat!  I used some material from an old tent we had (saved it from the landfill!), and instead of using the plastic buckles that they use for most dog hammocks I bought some cheap metal carabiners.  Will said that this feature alone makes the hammock better than the ones you buy, and he has asked me to upgrade his with carabiners for starters.

Dany is testing out the hammock, pre sewing.

Dog Hammock for use with a Car Seat

What you’ll need

  • 8 yards of rip stop nylon or other thick waterproof material.
  • 4 2″ carabiners
  • 3 yards of nylon
  • 8 5/8″ heavy duty snaps and snap tool
  1. Cut your fabric into 2 pieces with the dimensions in the picture.

    Cut 2 pieces following pattern here.

  2. Pin both pieces of fabric together and serge together.

    Pin and serge fabric together

  3. Apply 2 snap tops 2″ from the side and end of the right most flap following package directions.

    Attach snaps 2″ from either end of the right most flap.

  4. Apply 2 snap bottoms 22″ from the side of the center flap and 2″ from the top and bottom of the center flap.

    Apply snaps on center flap 22″ from edge of flap.

  5. Add 2 more snap bottoms 2″ from the end of the center flap.  Snap the right most flap onto the center flap then add 2 more snap tops on the right most flap, lining up with the snap bottoms you just inserted on the center flap.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for the left most flap, but the left most flap should be placed UNDER the center flap.  This means use snap bottoms on the left most flap and snap tops on the center flap.
  7. Cut 4 strips of nylon strap 21 inches long.  Cut 2 strips 9 inches long.
  8. Gently melt the edges over a flame to keep it from unraveling.

    Melt edges of nylon strap to prevent unraveling.

  9. Fold one end each of 2 of the 21 inch nylon straps to form a loop.  Length should be 18 inches when finished.
  10. Fold one end each of the other 2 21 inch nylon straps to form a loop.  Length should be 16″ when finished.
  11. Fold 9 inch long strips in half.
  12. Stitch all six loops from steps 9-11 in place.  I formed a decorative 2 inch long rectangle with an ‘x’ in it for my stitching.

    Cut strips of nylon strap and form loops on the ends.

  13. Take straps from step 9 and pin each one 9″ from the corner of the fabric.  (See diagram above)  Overlap the strap with the fabric by 2″.  Stitch in place.
  14. Take loops from step 11 and pin each one 18″ from the corner of the fabric.  Overlap the strap with the fabric by 2″.  Stitch in place.

    Stitch straps to fabric as shown in diagram. Overlap fabric with strap by 2″.

  15. Take straps from step 10 and pin 27″ from the corner of the fabric.  Overlap the strap with the fabric by 2″.  Stitch in place.
  16. Attach carabiners to 4 21″ straps.

Hang by looping the first strap around the headset closest to the door and affixing to the small loop.  Hang the second carabiner by attaching directly to the opposite headrest.  Note, your strap lengths may need to vary slightly based on your car setup.  For reference I have a RAV4.

Finished hammock.

Dany test driving her new hammock.

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Graco Dream Suite Mattress Cover

Did I tell you Will finished painting the baby’s room?!  It is awesome and I love how it came out!  I am going to hold off on posting a picture of it today because I’ll do a reveal once we get everything set up.  (Not to mention all the lovely gifts everyone gave us are still strewn about the room in disarray!)  Speaking of lovely gifts – did I mention that on top of a bunch of lovely gifts we got TONS of hand me down clothes, car seats, changing table, a swing, pack and play, bassinet etc from my co-workers?  It is amazing how nice everyone has been to give us all these things!

Will and I finally went to get some of the few things we didn’t get from friends and family – a crib and a glider – last week while they were both on sale.  I’ve heard we won’t need the crib for a while anyways (since we’ll use the bassinet) but we wanted to order it in advance.  The bassinet that my manager gave me is pretty neat.  It has wheels, is very light, and flips over into a changing table.  Apparently it also has some vibration/rocking feature that we haven’t tried yet.    The bad reviews for it seem to be about the mattress requiring special covers, that Graco doesn’t sell.  I decided to make my own since it was rather easy!

Bassinet Mattress Cover

You’ll need:

  • 2 yards of 1″ velcro (I couldn’t find 1″ so I used 1.5″)
  • 1 yard of 45″ fabric
  1. Trace your mattress cover onto your fabric (or use my pattern folded in two).

    Trace mattress cover onto fabric.

  2. Fold the mattress cover in half (or use my pattern) and trace, adding 1″ of length at the flat end.  Repeat.

    Trace half of mattress cover or pattern + 1″ onto fabric.

  3. Cut out all pieces using 1/2″ seam allowance.
  4. Fold under 1/4″ of fabric on the flat end of both mattress cover halves.  Stitch.

    Fold and pin 1/4″ on edge of half mattress cover.

  5. Lie mattress cover halves on top of the full mattress cover oval right side up, lining up the perimeter.  The halves should overlap slightly.

    Place mattress cover halves on top of full oval mattress cover, overlapping slightly.

  6. Using the mattress cover as your guide (or my pattern) mark the location of the velcro pieces onto your mattress cover halves.  Note that all the velcro will be the loop side, with the exception of hook side on one of the overlapping edges of your mattress halves.

    Mark where velcro should go and stitch on.

  7. Stitch velcro in place to right sides of fabric (with the exception of the overlapping edge of one of the halves which will be on the wrong side).
  8. With right sides together, place the mattress cover halves on top of the mattress cover oval as in step 5. Stitch all around the perimeter.

    Stitch all around edges of mattress cover, right sides together.

  9. Turn inside out!

    Finished mattress cover, back view.

    Finished mattress cover in the bassinet! Now all I need is to make some more toys to hang from the canopy!

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Ultrasound Shower Thank You Notes

These last two weeks have been filled with showers!  I am so lucky to have such wonderful friends, family and co-workers to celebrate with!  The first shower was a complete surprise.  I had known my friends Amy and Roger were planning to hold an event at work with cake to celebrate.  They had told me several weeks ago because they wanted to make sure I’d be at work that Friday because apparently the invite list had grown to greater than 50 people!  So when Roger and Amy suggested we go out to lunch the Friday beforehand, I didn’t think anything of it.  I mean, I was a bit confused when Roger told me he would be heading to Vermont on vacation that day but was coming all the way to our work just to have lunch with us first.  I was thrown off by the fact that he said he HAD to tell us some news this week, and didn’t want to talk about it on the work campus.  That lead me to jump to the conclusion that he was going to quit, and planning to give his two weeks notice on Monday.

When Amy and I got to the restaurant and I saw my retired co-worker’s car at the restaurant I thought it was a crazy coincidence.  Then I was confused when Amy walked right past the hostess, until I saw the ladies from my old team at a table with blue “It’s a boy” balloons and tablecloths.  What a complete surprise!  It was a lot of fun getting to hang out with all the women I don’t get to see on a regular basis anymore!

When I left the shower they had me take the “It’s a boy” balloons back with me, so I decided rather than bring them home that I would put them in my cubicle.  I hadn’t told most of my co-workers the gender yet, so I thought it would start some conversations.  Well, boy did it start some conversations!  Many people didn’t notice the balloons until Monday – and I happened to have a doctor’s appointment that morning, so I got to the office late.  This prompted a large group of people to believe that I had already had the baby!  Imagine their surprise when I came into the office later that morning…

After all the shenanigans from the first shower, I wasn’t positive the second one was real at all, or just a decoy.  But the second shower was massive!  Amy and Roger invited over 50 people to eat cake to celebrate!  The people who hadn’t seen the “It’s a boy” balloons received the news via the decorated cakes, and giant blue diaper cake that my manager made for me.  It was a great time, and so sweet of them to throw me another party!

The final shower was this past Saturday and my sister flew in from Colorado to host the party with my mom.  It was both friends and family and I really hope everyone had a good time!  They played a game where you had to make a baby out of play doh, and I got to vote for my favorites.  The entries were hilarious.  Among the sculpted babies were a donut (food baby), Dany (fur baby) and a starfish (I’m not really sure it was even a baby).  It cracked me up.

Well thanks to all my thoughtful friends, family and co-workers I have LOTS of thank you notes to send!  I decided to whip up a bunch of cards using the baby’s ultrasound photos to make things a bit more personalized.

Ultrasound Thank You note

Ultrasound Thank You Cards

What you’ll need (for 36 cards):

  • Ultrasound photo and a scanner
  • 18 sheets of 110 lb card stock in ivory
  • 7 sheets of 65 lb blue paper
  • 6 sheets of white 110 lb card stock
  • 36 4 3/8″ x 5 3/4″ ivory envelopes
  • 1 “Thank You” stamp
  • Blue stamp pad
  • Glue tape – I used the staples brand
  • Paper cutter (or a ruler and a very steady hand)
  1. Scan ultrasound photo and then crop in  I cropped the text out of the ultrasound and cut the size to 4″x2 5/8″.  This allowed me to fit 6 photos on one sheet. Print out 6 copies of the photos on white 110 lb card stock.
  2. Cut out ultrasound photos using a paper cutter.  Size should be 4″x2 5/8″.

    Cut out ultrasound photos.

  3. Cut each sheet of blue into 5 4 3/4″ x 3 3/8″ rectangles.

    Cut blue rectangles.

  4. Cut each sheet of ivory paper in half vertically to form 36 8 1/2″ x 5.5″ strips.

    Cut ivory paper in half.

  5. Fold each sheet of ivory paper in half to form a card.

    Fold ivory paper halves in half again.

  6. Using the scrap white paper left over from the ultrasound photo borders, cut out 36 1 3/4″ x 1″ rectangles.
  7. Ink the “Thank You” stamp, center over one of the small rectangles of white paper and press down to form “Thank You” note.  Repeat for other 35 pieces of paper.

    Stamp “Thank You” onto small rectangles.

  8. Use the glue tape to form a line of glue all around the border of a blue rectangle.

    Use glue tape to glue edges of blue paper and carefully center on top of ivory paper.

  9. Center the rectangle on the ivory card and press down firmly.
  10. Use the glue tape to form a line of glue all around the border on the back of one of the ultrasound print outs.
  11. Center the ultrasound photo on the blue rectangle and press down firmly.

    Repeat gluing for ultrasound photo, center and press on top of blue rectangle.

  12. Use the glue tape to form a line of glue all around the border on the back of one of the “Thank You” notes.
  13. Tilt the “Thank You” note over one corner of the photo and press down firmly.

    Paste “Thank You” notes at an angle on corner of cards.

  14. Repeat steps 8-13 for the other 35 cards.

Finished Thank You Notes

And I just wanted to shout out to my dear friends Maren and Matt and their new bundle of joy!!

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