a big girl bed

It has been a few weeks now, but Gracie is officially in her “big girl bed.” We moved her about 6 months later than we did with Luke, but not intentionally. It mostly had to do with the fact that I wanted to make her quilt first, and I didn’t create space to do so until a few weeks ago. It turned out just as I hoped, and with minimal mistakes on my part (a rarity in my sewing endeavors). Sentimentally, it was hard for both Ian and I to see the crib come down (the one both our babies used) and finally be transformed into a toddler bed.

This almost-3-year-old was excited and proud, though at bedtime the first week she said she missed her crib. And bedtime has taken longer – she wants the security of my presence much more than she did with her crib. But overall, she is doing great. And when the two kids wake before it’s time to get up and want to snuggle, it’s a lot easier for Luke to move to her bed than when he had to haul all his blankets up into her crib!

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the last of luke’s nursery

Sigh. The day finally came when we decided to move Luke to his “big boy bed” (aka teeny toddler bed).

We had talked about doing it on a week when Ian was working an earlier shift, so we’d have a good amount of time for an extended bedtime routine if we encountered any difficulties. But when we looked at our calendar, we realized that most nights we had commitments that were going to push bedtime back anyways. So we made the switch kind of spur-of-the-moment on a Sunday morning. Which was for the best, since it didn’t leave me time to be overly sentimental about “his last night in his crib” and whatnot. Which I tend to do.

Anyways. We did it – Ian put together his toddler bed and we re-arranged all the furniture so that it fit. Luke and baby sister will be sharing a room, so we had to be creative about fitting everything in a small room. But it will be cozy and cute and Luke is really excited about sharing his room. Once we’ve settled everything in and decorated, I’ll share some photos. But don’t expect it before December!

I loved how Luke’s room was for the first couple years of his life. When he was born, we had a bare skeleton of a room – a crib with no mattress, and a couple dressers. Hey, when you have an adoption come through after the baby is already born, you don’t exactly have time to nest before bringing him home! So it took a couple months to come together, but it was a sweet room that worked well for us. And honestly, the style of the new shared room won’t be that much different. If there’s a theme to the room, it’s probably a woodland theme, which I still love. But I wanted to remember what Luke’s first room looked like.

I loved his little crib area. I designed his birth announcement, and my mom made it with her mad crewel embroidery skills (I’ve already given her baby girl’s design to work on!). My mother-in-law got those super cute animal prints from a local artist – Luke still loves to point out the animals and make up stories about them. The little collage area over his dresser is a modge podge of fun little crafted or thrifted goodies. Both the dresser and the lamp is from my childhood. The lamp also plays a lullaby and the crib figurine rocks when you wind it up (it totally freaks Ian out, but I love it).

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This room gets some nice light, and it was nice to have his changing table under the window. The stork always looked great there – I’m excited to be adding a new heart to it soon! To the left of the window is a photo of Luke’s first father’s day (only a couple weeks old) and a bib that my oma made for one of my mom’s best friends when she had a baby boy. When I had Luke, she was so sweet to pass it on to me. I absolutely love it. I don’t have a full photo of it, but my mom made the Noah’s ark hanging above the closet. She made it for me before I was born, and it always hung in my room growing up. That’s probably Luke’s favorite art in the room since he’s obsessed with Noah’s ark. 🙂

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This side of the room is fun – I made the trio of woodland animals before Luke was born. My BFFs made the little raccoons and twig tree for my baby shower. The good ol’ IKEA expedit has served us well, and will continue to do so!

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So that’s the grand tour – I did say his room was small. 🙂

And here’s a photo of the big boy in his new bed. I made the quilt for him – my first since the lap quilt I made in high school home ec! It was actually a remarkably smooth process, and Luke loves it. Overall, he’s adjusted well to his new bed – bedtimes are great, naptimes are usually fine, though he definitely uses his freedom to get up and play for a few more minutes before settling down. We are thankful for a kiddo who generally likes to sleep, so we try not to get too worked up when we have a shorter or skipped nap day.

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I’m excited to put together their new room… once that nesting instinct kicks in, I guess!

12 days of crafting: simple sewing projects

12 days of crafting handmade christmas gifts handmade christmas decor From December 1-12, I’ll be blogging about some fun ideas to create a handmade Christmas. Hopefully you will be inspired to craft some Christmas gifts or decor for your own home!

Day 9: Simple Sewing Projects

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Man, that little face just melts my heart!

Okay, so today I don’t have a specific project for you, but I have some great ideas for you – of the sewing variety.

Now, I’ve  mentioned it before – I am not great with the sewing machine. There was a pretty funny/horrific incident yesterday between me and my machine that resulted in a lopsided, crinkly, weird fabric box. Yeah. So when I say easy, I mean it.

Here are some great go-to books with easy sewing projects:

I own the Lotta books (I know I’ve mentioned before how much I love her style) but before I owned them, I checked them out from the library – so that’s what I recommend. Isn’t the library great? If you only like one pattern in the book, you can just check it out for that and not worry about buying a book you don’t really want!

The type of sewing project I like is one that can be done in a couple hours or maybe a couple evenings. Like Janelle’s neck warmers. I just don’t have the patience for more.

See the adorable hat and scarf Luke is wearing in the photo at the top? Well, one fall morning I decided he needed a hat that fit him, and by the end of his nap that afternoon he had a new hat and scarf. For reals. That pattern was from Lotta’s Simple Sewing for Baby.

I’ve also made some stuff from her original Simple Sewing book – I made a fun yoga mat bag for my mom one year, and I whipped up a couple checkbook covers for her and myself one afternoon when I needed a break from remodeling a couple years ago.

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The bag I’m using as my purse right now is actually from the diaper bag pattern in Simple Sewing for Baby. I think it took me a couple evenings when I made it last fall.

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There are lots of good sales on fabric at this time of year, so it’s a good time to dust off the old sewing machine. Take a look at your library and see what they have – there may be a bunch of fun sewing books you’d like to check out!

Happy sewing!

In case you missed it…
Day 1: Christmas Kissing Ball
Day 2: Vanilla-Infused English Breakfast Tea
Day 3: Iris Paper Folding
Day 4: Paper Circle Garland
Day 5: Rice-Filled Neck Warmer
Day 6: Felt Stacking Tree
Day 7: Painted Wooden Message Boards
Day 8: Paper Dot Notecards

12 days of crafting: rice-filled neck warmer

12 days of crafting handmade christmas gifts handmade christmas decorFrom December 1-12, I’ll be blogging about some fun ideas to create a handmade Christmas. Hopefully you will be inspired to craft some Christmas gifts or decor for your own home!

Day 5: Rice-Filled Neck Warmer

Today my friend Janelle is here to share a great crafty gift idea with us! Janelle was my other crafty college roommate, and unlike me, she actually knows how to use a sewing machine. Like really knows – not just getting by with small projects like me. She made me this awesome purse that even strangers go out of their way to compliment. Anyways, luckily for us, the project she is sharing is doable for even us non-sewers! So without further ado, here she is…

“Hi everyone! I’m so excited to share one of my favorite handmade gifts with you.

About seven years ago, I bought a cherry stone-filled neck warmer at a German Christmas market, and it has been my best friend ever since. I love it so much that I decided to make some as Christmas gifts a few years back. I made 25 that year—one for everyone on my list—and that was the first and last year that I’ve given a gift that every single person loved!

Heated neck warmers may be nothing new, but they are still wonderful. I love to put mine in the foot of the bed before I climb in so my toes stay toasty during the night. I have also heard claims that you can also freeze them like an ice pack, but I’ve never tried it.

You can use lots of different filler materials:

  • rice
  • flax seed
  • deer corn
  • cherry stones

Cherry stones are the very best for holding heat, but they’re hard to find. And it takes a lot of eating to save up enough during the summer. If you decide to try it, make sure you clean them really well. Rubbing them under water with a rough towel, then drying them out in the oven should be good. (Or, like me, accidentally spill a giant jar full into your garbage disposal while it’s running, forcing yourself to later fish each individual stone out. The stones will be clean, but you will have a rattle in the disposal for a few weeks!)

Flax seed is a great option if you can find it on sale. It makes a soft-feeling warmer. If you choose this filler, make sure to set your stitches very tight so no flax seeds escape the case.

Today we’ll be using rice, because it’s inexpensive and you probably already have some in your kitchen.

So let’s get started!

diy rice-filled neck warmer

For one warmer, you will need:

  • a plain (inner) piece of fabric, 21” x 10.5”
  • a patterned (outer) piece of fabric, 44” (or width of fabric) x 6”
  • 3 cups of rice or other filler material
  • a funnel or measuring cup with a spout (for pouring the rice)
  • a sewing machine
  • a pencil and ruler

diy rice-filled neck warmer

Begin by making the inner case for your warmer. Fold your plain fabric along the long side, right sides together. Stitch ½” around the long end and one of the short sides. Flip the case right side out.

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Now, draw lines 5” apart on the case, leaving an extra half inch on each end for a seam allowance, dividing the case into four parts. Make sure your lines are easy to see— you’ll thank yourself later.

diy rice-filled neck warmer

Pour ¾ cup of rice into the case. Carefully push all the rice into the bottom of the section, then sew straight down the first line. The rice tends to distort the fabric, so follow your line carefully and hold the fabric tight. Make sure to use a small stitch so the rice doesn’t escape its little chamber!

Fill the next three sections exactly the same way, stitching them shut as you go. Doing this means you can sling the warmer over your neck and the rice will stay evenly distributed.

diy rice-filled neck warmer

When you get to the last section, flip the raw edge inside the case and stitch shut so it looks pretty. Why not, right?

diy rice-filled neck warmer

Technically, you can quit here if you like. But how boring! Let’s make a cute cover. This will provide a bit more insulation for the rice, and protect your tender skin from burns. Plus, it’s fun!

diy rice-filled neck warmer

We’re making a basic envelope-style case. I’m going to assume you’re as lazy as me and want to avoid extra sewing, so we’ll use the selvedges instead of finishing seams. Lay your outer fabric down, wrong side facing up, and put the inner case on top.

See the printed selvedge on the left? Find the prettier side of your fabric and fold it over the end so about 6” of the case is covered.  Now, if you have a white selvedge, wrap it over the other end so it’s the top fabric of the overlap.

See how the ends overlap in the middle? That will keep the inner case from falling out. You should have about 2” of overlap.

diy rice-filled neck warmer

If you, like me, have more than about 2” of overlap, fold the edge back on itself so the overlap isn’t so large. This will make it easier to get the inner case in and out.

diy rice-filled neck warmer

Pin the overlap, and throw a few pins on the long sides to keep them in place while you’re at it. Sew the two long edges together. If you have pinking shears, give a little chop chop to the raw edges so they won’t fray in the laundry. Flip the case right side out and slide your rice warmer inside. You’re done!

diy rice-filled neck warmer

Who wouldn’t want to see this peeking out of their stocking on Christmas morning?

Some final notes:

  • Heat your warmer for about 1 ½ to 2 minutes in the microwave. You’ll want to experiment with the perfect time for you.
  • Microwaved rice smells… odd. So do cherry stones, corn, and flax seed, for that matter. And after a while, you will probably smell that hot rice and think, “Yay! The smell of warmth!” (Or maybe that’s just me.) But if you want to counteract it, try mixing dried lavender or mint leaves in with the rice before you fill the inner case.”

Thanks Janelle! I don’t have a neck warmer (take note, Janelle!) but my mom does, and I’ve been known to use it when I’m over at their house. Seriously, they do make such a nice gift – especially for warmth-loving people such as myself! Whose stocking will you make one for this year?

In case you missed it…
Day 1: Christmas Kissing Ball
Day 2: Vanilla-Infused English Breakfast Tea
Day 3: Iris Paper Folding
Day 4: Paper Circle Garland

12 days of crafting: paper circle garland

12 days of crafting handmade christmas gifts handmade christmas decorFrom December 1-12, I’ll be blogging about some fun ideas to create a handmade Christmas. Hopefully you will be inspired to craft some Christmas gifts or decor for your own home!

Day 4: Paper Circle Garland

paper circle garland, paper punch garland, diy paper garlandYou can never have too many garlands! This one is quick, easy and fun to make!

paper punch garland, paper circle garland, diy paper garland

Supplies:

  • paper circle punch (mine is 1″, but you could do any size you want)
  • double-sided cardstock (or do what I did – glue two one-sided papers together! Thank you Joanns $1 section for carrying 12×12 Christmas paper packs!)
  • sewing machine
  • thread

A quick note about the paper circle punch: if you don’t have one, get one! They are SUCH a handy craft tool to have around. When I first learned to make bottle cap magnets, I borrowed a friend’s and fell in love with it. The next time I made the magnets, I bought my own and I use it all.the.time. In fact, there will be two more craft ideas in the 12 days series that use the 1″ punch, so get your Joanns or Michaels coupons and go get one!

Okay, back to our project. It’s so easy. First, punch a bunch of circles – you can decide how many you need based on the size of the punch. There will be about a  1/2 inch gap between each circle, so you can estimate how many circles you’ll need for your desired garland length (with my 1″ circles, it took about 8 to make 1 foot of garland).

paper punch garland, paper circle garland, diy paper garlandOnce you’ve punched all your circles and your toddler has dumped the bowl out at least twice – that might just be me – get out your sewing machine and put in whatever color thread you want. I went with white, but a bold, festive color would be cool too.

All you do is feed these puppies through the machine, one at a time. Let the machine run a little bit after each circle – mine seemed to do a certain amount and then stop feeding, about 1/2″, which was perfect. This part is so fun, it comes together so fast! Ian walked by and thought it was pretty crazy (crazy good, I’m assuming).

paper punch garland, paper circle garland, diy paper garlandThat’s all there is to it! Isn’t that sweet?

paper punch garland, paper circle garland, diy paper garlandThe photo above illustrates two things NOT to do. First, keep the garland away from your coffee. A few of my circles went for a quick dip. Second, see that pile on the upper left? Oh, it’s a happy pile now, but pick that thing up and hastily try to hang the garland while keeping it out of your toddler’s hands? Bad idea. I had the tangled mess of the century. After a few minutes of trying to untangle it while standing on a chair, I decided to go with my original plan of hanging vertical pieces of the garland (thus cutting apart my loooong tangled garland into manageable 2 foot pieces). This mess could have easily been avoided by either being more careful or wrapping the garland around something like a toilet paper tube or water bottle or something that would keep it untangled.

Regardless, I’m happy with the result!

paper punch garland, paper circle garland, diy paper garland
paper punch garland, paper circle garland, diy paper garlandI’m even quite fond of how it looks on the tree, and Ian liked it too. So I may be whipping up some more for our tree.

paper circle garland, paper punch garland, diy paper garlandIsn’t it cute? You can use them for so many things – hang them in different ways or cut them apart and wrap them around your gifts.

Don’t have a sewing machine or time to make one? There are lot of fun ones on etsy!

Paper circle garlands. Love them. End of story.

In case you missed it…
Day 1: Christmas Kissing Ball
Day 2: Vanilla-Infused English Breakfast Tea
Day 3: Iris Paper Folding

luke’s birthday book

fabric photo birthday book
Yeah, I know – Luke’s birthday was over three months ago… Sometimes it just takes me awhile to get around to posting things. Today is actually a special day for our family: the one year anniversary of Luke’s adoption finalization! So it’s fun to have a Luke-centered post (wait… aren’t most of them these days?!).

One of my favorite bloggers and authors is Amanda Soule. I love how crafty she is, and I especially love how she works to instill a spirit of creativity in her family. Her youngest daughter is only a couple weeks older than Luke, and she happened to blog about the fabric birthday book that she made for her.

I read that post when it was less than two weeks until Luke’s birthday. I pondered it. I realized that my boy would LOVE that – at that particular stage, he loved books and his absolute favorite thing in the world was seeing photos of himself.

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I had a lot going on in those two weeks, but heck, Amanda Soule whipped hers out the night before her daughter’s birthday – why couldn’t I?

I’ll tell you why: a) I am not Amanda Soule. b) I do not possess the sewing skills at even half the level that she does. c) I care too much about my husband to go completely crazy.

So I only went a little crazy. I did do most of the prep – chose the photos, wrote the captions, bought the fabric – but realized that the smart thing to do was to wait until I had more time after Luke’s birthday.

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My goal was to finish it before our family vacation in July, so that Luke had something fun to look at in the car. Well, as things normally go, I was whipping it out the night before we left. So Ian did get to deal with a little crazy.

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It’s shorter and smaller, mostly for my sanity. There are pages about when he was a newborn, his grandparents, and his favorite things to do. And there are definitely sewing mistakes, but as I kept telling myself: this book is for a one year old; he’s not checking the stitches. Overall, I love how it turned out.

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And Luke, he adores it!

Checking out the book during our family vacation in July.

The details:

  • I used a printable photo fabric from the craft store – I think it was actually this one. You just run it through your inkjet printer, let it dry, rinse it and it’s ready to go! I was a little nervous about it, but it worked just like it said it would. Some of the photos did get a little faded after the rinse, but I was pleased that nothing looked smeared – even the typed captions are crystal clear.
  • I chose three fabrics (I just picked up some fat quarters and cut them down) and created a page spread out of each (so once I ran the binding down the center, each fabric had 4 pages to it). Each page spread had a layer of light quilt batting in it to give it some weight. I just ran a couple seams down the middle to bind the three spreads together.

make it pretty

Over the past few years, I’ve tried to re-purpose stuff as much as I can. When I think that I “need” something, I try to think of a way to meet that need with something I already have – or something that I can make out of what I already have. Sometimes I come up with something, other times the ideas I come up with are so far out there that Ian reigns me in and helps me find a reasonable solution.

I do love that we’re not continually bringing more “stuff” into our home, and that we’re not constantly spending money on new things. But there’s a reason that new stuff appeals to me – it’s pretty. My friend Morgan blogged about the tension between wanting to have cutesy things and limiting materialism, and I totally relate (she also included an awesome idea for DIY plant markers!). So when I re-use or re-purpose something, I try to make it pretty – because I know I’ll love it and use it more if it’s pretty!

Enter this little boy, who is now eating solids:

Okay, usually he’s a lot happier about eating, this just happened to be his first encounter with sweet potatoes, and he wasn’t so sure.

Anyways, I realized a couple weeks ago that I needed more washcloths to clean up little man after his meals. I knew that it was time to tackle some of the many old or discarded t-shirts that I squirreled away to make cleaning rags someday.

To endear these washcloths to me – so I don’t feel like I’m wiping Luke’s face with a t-shirt every day – I decided to make them pretty. I did this in two ways. First, I took enough time to cut, pin and sew them decently – since I’ll be using them every day, I won’t really want to see some lame sewing job all the time. They are far from perfect, but they look tidy enough. Second, I embellished them with a little fun – some quick embroidery. Okay, so I’ve only done one so far, but it’s a fun project to have on hand if I just want a half hour of relaxation.

(Uh, in case you can’t tell, that’s a sandwich embroidered on there…)

I’m pleased with how they turned out, and they work great for the times that we actually feed Luke real food instead of the furniture…

What are some re-purposed things that you’ve made useful and pretty?