Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blog Detox

I'm taking a little vacation from this blog. Or maybe it's more like continuing a vacation :) Anyway, I just need some time away from the interwebs. Though I love it so, as we all do, sometimes I feel like the interwebs are scrambling my brains and eyeballs. It's summer. I need to go outside and play in water hoses and eat fresh guacamole. Computer screens aren't the most summery-ist.

Plus, I want the stuff I share here to be fresh and interesting and I don't want to ever feel like I have to post anything because of "the pressure." I never intended to make money or anything as a blogger, so when I start feeling pressure to post something just because I haven't in a while, well, that's dumb. There's really no reason to do that. I think we'll all enjoy this more if I never do that.

And then there's the whole blogger's inner dialogue thing. Do you ever start writing posts in your head during the course of your day? Like when something happens I sometimes start figuring out how I would write it for the blog. Then I immediately think to myself, "What is wrong with me?" Also dumb. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does that though. I don't know, maybe it's not dumb for bloggers to do that, but for me, I don't want to take this thing that seriously.

I'll come back in a week or two or whenever I miss you guys and share what I've been up to, including my finished quilt.

Just a couple things before I go...

Happy mail
This gorgeous Loulouthi spread came in the mail today. Yes, I already have plans for my next quilt. This might get addicting, which would make my mom oh so proud :)

If you're into getting gussy for the holidays, or just really like jumbo ric rac, check out this pillow tutorial I did for Sewn, the fabric shop I work in. I'm looking forward to the Fourth... We're free!!! (Picture me yelling that while running around with sparklers in each hand.)

And lastly, Project Runway begins in one short month. Then we'll certainly have something to talk about. Who's with me?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Quilt Progress

I'm having so much fun in this modern quilting class. I'm so glad I did it because I never would have tackled a first quilt project on my own. There are always just too many other things on my list to make. But I've had to keep working on the quilt to keep up with the class schedule. On my own, I might have let it languish in a WIP pile for months. And I've still been able to do some of my instant gratification projects at the same time, but I also have this big beautiful thing that is teaching me patience in the process. And the pay-off in the end is going to huge- that is if I don't screw it up.

I knew it was going to be a long process with lots of steps, but I really had no idea how many steps there are and how long they all can take. Each step comes with it's own little payoff though.

This week I pieced together all the blocks and made the back. In class we practiced machine quilting and I made my sandwich. I wished I had brought my old volleyball knee pads from college for this part. It really made me nervous because I wanted to get everything straight and in the right place. That is the whole idea I guess...

This was my practice quilting. I've decided on this echoing X kind of design on my quilt. I probably won't do the lines this close together because I'd like to actually finish this year. But I think the diagonal lines will look cool on all the right angles of the blocks. That top section was where I attempted a little free motion. Yeah, I pretty much sucked at that. I would like to practice more though, I can see how it could be really fun. It's just so hard to keep all the stitches the same length! 

 And I just had to show this picture of my classmate June's quilt top. Didn't she make the most genius fabric choices? It's gorgeous.

I've been following a lot of quilting blogs lately. I just can't stop looking at all the pretty pictures. And it seems like all you quilt bloggers just crank them out so fast. I found a mom of 3 yesterday who made 20 last year. Whattt?

Also, I might be a little bit crazy because I joined Rachel's do.Good Stitches bee. But I'm excited because when class is over I need something to keep me motivated and learning. It's going to be really fun and collaborative and the quilts go to great causes. I think Rachel's blog has been the most inspirational to me in my quilting. She is amazing and super nice and her blog is always educational and full of eye candy. That's a good combo. If you have any interest in quilting at all, go look around Stitched in Color. And of course, also check out our awesome teacher Heather. She knows her stuff, has an amazing vintage quilting machine that gives crazy texture, and her modern designs are the bombdotcom. Did you enjoy that bit of 10 year old slang? You know you did.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mom of two (to four)

I heard from lots of people before Elsie was born that having two kids was much harder than having one. Like more than twice as hard. Now people always ask how we are adjusting to being a family of four. It is harder in lots of ways of course, but not how I thought it would be. It helps that this might be one of the easiest and sweetest babies ever.

She is the complete opposite personality of Hendrix as a baby. And I'm not losing any sleep on her behalf, so that makes a huge difference. But she's so easy-going that sometimes I worry she doesn't get enough attention. The two year old happens to require a lot more. But then I think back to him as a newborn, getting lots of time sitting quietly in my lap and being read to and rattled at constantly. She's lucky to get a toy plopped in front of her face on the boppy. Of course, I'm not really worried about her, just because it's not my nature to worry. It's just funny how different things are for her. I'm sure she'll still  grow up to be a genius :) At least she gets plenty of entertainment from him. 

Today she might be even extra neglected because this one has decided to spontaneously potty train. I did not really want to tackle that for a few more months because I don't think it's that big of a deal to have two in diapers and I didn't think he was ready at all. But we are in a constant struggle with diaper rash and last night we were having evening naked time to relieve his "Hiney hurts!" This usually involves extra tv time while hanging out on a couple towels on the living room floor. I asked if he wanted to go potty since all his equipment was out and at the ready, and he said yes for the first time ever. He did it three times and only had one little accident all evening. So today we continued naked time. He's done way better than I ever expected, even dropping a couple deuces without being prompted. (He likes to do those without me of course.) He is totally proving me wrong about not being ready for it, and I'm so happy because this may be the end of the horrible diaper rash battle. Now I just need to get him some actual undies so we can eventually leave the house without him being buck naked from the waist down. 

Sorry if you don't care at all about our adventures in naked potty-training, but I know I'm always interested to hear how it goes for other people. 

(On a side note, have you tried Yagoot? At first I wasn't a fan because it wasn't the froyo I was expecting, but lately I'm loving it. You just have to open your mind and heart to the tartness.)

Today is also a bit crazy for intensive potty training because I have these two extra cuties. (And she is also training, but a bit farther along than H on the journey to undies.) So the house is extra super loud and messy on days like these, but I'm rarely stressed by it. They are all good kids. And in the afternoon I can usually get them all asleep at once for at least a little time for indulging in guilty pleasures. (Today that's blogging, dark chocolate, and So You Think You Can Dance on Hulu.)

I can tell you that a good carrier is essential for a second child. I made this a couple of weeks ago from a Sew Liberated pattern. She loves it and it's often a life saver. 

So even though it's been relatively smooth sailing so far, I am no expert on being mommy of two. I know it will be approximately 78x harder once she stops sleeping half of the day and starts moving around. So whenever she begins standing and trying to take her first steps, I'll probably just push her down. Not really. But maybe...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Pirate's Life

 Yesterday I showed you Lily's girly-girl birthday gift. This is what I made her brother Ryan. He's a big fan of that pirate cartoon that's on tv now, and his pirate enthusiasm was magnified after a recent vacation to FL where he got to have a pirate boat experience. One day we were pretending to be pirates and he decided his pirate name was Captain Bean.

This is basically Dana's Pirate Life costume. I just added the extra skull and bones on the back of the vest. Don't look too closely at my bias tape work. I made my own for the first time, but the bias tape maker I have makes it much narrower than I usually like. Plus I sewed it on the lazy way, really quickly and didn't change the black bobbin thread. I just told myself that a pirate's vest would be raggedy looking anyway :)

 I wish I had unrolled the treasure map  and taken a picture for you. That was Nick's contribution to the gift and he made a great one. It had different things and places in Ryan's house drawn on it and there was a big X on the bathtub. When we first got to the party I hid a bag of candy in their tub. Then later when he had time for a treasure hunt he got to share it with all of his friends. He kept saying "the bathtub is my treasure!"

I also made a quick drawstring backpack to store all his treasures in. The applique on here is just cut off of an old t-shirt.

Yo-Ho-Ho. Shoulda made a felt bottle of rum.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Pink-Haired Doll

She's so punk rock.

I made this doll from the Mae Pattern by Bit of Whimsy.  This weekend our best friends' kids had a big joint party for their recent 2nd and 4th birthdays. I watch them in our house twice a week, the kids play together even more often than that, we were there for both their births... They are just the kind of kids you love almost as much as your own. So Mae was made with love for little Miss Lily, who is also the sweetest kind of punk :)

I really need to learn at least some basic hand-embroidery. Sometimes I can pull off a little on my machine, but I knew the machine stitches wouldn't get the eyes as big as I wanted, so I just used fabric paint. Still cute, but kinda lame of me.

And she comes with wardrobe changes! Simple elastic skirts are just the right kind of dressing up little 2yo hands can handle. Looking at these pictures now, I think I also need to make some felt mary janes for those bare feet. Maybe a few cute collars to change out too. The accessorizing options are limitless on a girl like Mae.

I also ended up making a little drawstring bag to carry everything, but it was so last minute that I didn't get a picture.

Later this week I'll show you what the boy gift was. Hint: it's piratey. I don't know whose was more fun to make.

(p.s. This post has taken me what feels like 6.5 hours to write. I know there is really nothing of much substance written here, but my brain is not forming words. I'm picturing it now as a giant jello mold with a mouth that is screaming, "go to bed you moron!" Ok jello mold, chill out.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

On the Interwebs

More of my piggies and lips design spotted in Germany! Adorable :)

The cutest dollhouse ever.

New favorite meme: Awesome People Hanging Out Together.   (Paul Newman was such a stud. And yes, that's Nancy Reagan on Mr. T.)

How fun would it be to get a package like this

These are just plain pretty. I really like Tula Pink.

I love the simplicity of this quilt, I'd like to try those quilting peak-like quilting lines. 

Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Airplane Banner Shirt- Free Templates!

H wore this shirt yesterday and I realized I hadn't blogged about it yet. So I did what any good blogger/ bad mother would do, and made him stand on a tall dining chair by the window so I could get some light on it for pictures. He was so confused, since he is not normally allowed to stand on those chairs, and kept yelling at himself, "Get down!" Even he knew I was being a bad influence :)

I made it for his birthday party a couple of months ago, and it was pretty much the only cute party thing that survived the crazy wind at the park that day. I kind of love it.

I've really starting to like doing applique with knit on knit. All these pieces I just cut from my stash of old t-shirts. Since the edges don't fray, you don't have to use a zig-zag stitch or anything that goes over the edge. A straight stitch does the job nicely. 

I like the way the edges kind of curl up a little too. The tee material still works with HeatnBond just as well. But since the edges can be curly, it's much easier to iron the fusible web onto a big patch of material first, then cut out your shape from that- as opposed to cutting out the shape from the material first and then trying to attach a little piece of fusible web in the exact same shape. (Does that make sense?)

The airplane banner wraps around the back and celebrates his two-ness. I'm glad I just put "2" on it and not anything that says birthday, so now he can keep wearing it all summer.

For the strings connecting the banner to the tail of the airplane, just cut 2 thin strips of the white tee and tug at the ends to make them curl up on themselves. Then stick the ends in place under the appliques when you iron them onto the shirt. Stitch around everything, and they hang out nicely. They are a little stretched out in this picture after he wore it all day, but they always tighten back up in the wash.

So here are the templates for you to download. I did not include the 2, because you can put whatever you want on your banner. Also, the plane windows are just three little squares I stuck on there. Use it for whatever, but I'd LOVE to see if you make something with it!

Airplane template -

Banner/clouds template -

Like making boy shirts? See more here. Happy Summer Boy Week!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Quilt Blocks and Sleep Regrets

I've got 18 out of 36 of these suckers pieced, so I thought I'd show you a little sneak peek. I'm really happy with how they look, although this picture doesn't really accurately show how bright the colors are.  (Like that beige looking one, it's really celery green.) 

It took a little more thought than I had anticipated to organize my strips into blocks to put together. There are three different widths and 6 fabrics (out of 9 colors) in each, and the pattern in the book calls for each one to have the widths in the same arrangement with the widest in the middle. I couldn't do that while keeping my color spectrum generally in order, so my widths are all mixed up in each block. But that is turning out really cool, and I think it will be more striking to stick to my orange-to-blue spectrum. This part of the process is definitely making me more excited and impatient to see the finished product. 

When I showed Nick my first couple of blocks, he said it looked too rainbow-y. Thanks Debbie Downer. There's no red or purple, so it's not a full rainbow,  just OY G B. So there. I think it actually looks more like a color scheme you would see on a vintage 80's puffy jacket or surfer shirt or something. 

In other news, I kind of forgot that I had made this swaddler for Elsie until yesterday. I had been just wrapping her in a plain old blanket, (how primitive) but I finally put her in it for one of her naps and she drifted off instantly. Then I put it in her at night and she slept a full TWO AND A HALF HOURS MORE than she had the night before. WHAT? Can this be solely attributed to the swaddler? I don't want to know, but this is definitely my new go-to gift for friends having babies.

And after she woke up, she was the happiest ever and was full-on giggling. LOVE. HER.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Weekend Fun at Findlay Market

We spent yesterday afternoon at Findlay Market, one of our very favorite Cincinnati places. It's one of the oldest markets in Ohio. Every weekend, the place comes alive with farmers, food merchants, local growers, crafters, all sorts. Everything about it reminds me of that really fun time in our marriage, before we had kids and we just spent our time galavanting around downtown, doing whatever we wanted. 

I guess that's partly why when Nick suggested we go, I was all "Why would we take the kids there?"

Then hewasall "Because it's awesome."

and iwasall "But Sunday is our only day to just do nothing."

and hewasall "But if we stay home and do nothing you are going to end up doing lots of things." (cleaning and sewing and laundry)

then iwasall "Yeah, you are right. Let's go." 

... Jessica gets dressed and tries to stop being a poopstick. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, I got really excited and was so glad he dragged me there. 

Aren't those bright awnings so much fun? All those shops lining the little walkways are different types of food merchants. You can really find almost anything here. 

Part of the weekend Farmer's Market. The sellers always look like they are having fun in all the busyness.

Lazy Elsie, pooped before the party even starts. 

Moerlein Beers on draft. To me, the OTR ale literally tastes like Over the Rhine and Main Street. (Hendrix is enjoying water from his girly cup. He's secure in his manhood.)

Dojo Gelato is new since I've last been there. We shared sea salt caramel. Wow, was it good.

 There are always local musicians on the weekends, usually nearby all the craft and artisan booths.

Nick decided to try a key lime pie popsicle from this little street vendor. Literally the best popsicle ever- I can say that confidently and objectively.

In the car ride home, I told Nick we should spend lots of Sundays there this summer. He gave me his "why-would-you-ever-doubt-me" look. Then at home, he proceeded to make the best grilled carnitas tacos with homemade salsa ever. I know, where did this guy come from?