Monthly Archives: July 2011

Friday July 29, 2011

{Glimpses from the Week}


.:happy birthday daddy:.

Of course to get the full effect you would also see~

Dirty dishes in the sink, zinnias on the table, buckets for getting sick in, children’s Tylenol on the counter, muddy footprints on the floor, sun-kissed noses, and Raffi singing Baby Beluga in the background.

The beautiful, the mundane, the messy, the sad, the little victories, the mistakes, all of it mixed together… that was our week.  How was yours?

Thursday July 28, 2011

 
I feel a little reluctant to do a post that is only about me, just because blogging in general can tend to be egocentric, but every now and again it’s fun to be a little silly.

I’m in the process of growing my hair out so it’s been on my mind lately.  Just for the fun of it I was scrolling through my old pictures, looking at past hairstyles.  It was pretty funny.  I thought you might get a kick out of it too.

Here it is:  a photo time line of all  most of my hairstyles over the last 10 years (the cute, the strange, and all the awkward grow-outs)

I grew my hair out for my wedding.  It was the longest it had ever been; about to the middle of my back.

About a year later I started cutting it shorter and shorter and then finally made the jump to this very short, textured hair cut.

We moved to Tucson and for the longest time I didn’t have a hair stylist.

I call this one “the year of the mullet”. 
 
In my defense… you know what, never mind… there’s no excuse for a mullet (ever).

Living in Tucson I found a great hair dresser who gave me this fun pixie cut.  I love this hair style.  I would still have my hair like this if I could find someone who could do exactly what Susanna did.

We moved back home and I vainly tried to find a stylist that could replicate my pixie cut, but I only ended up with weird boxy, “grandma-ish” hair cuts.  I was burning through the stylists, and finally came to the conclusion that it would be more practical to chose another style.


I had Jude and was a little heavier than normal so I started to grow my hair out.


{me with my brother, and Gideon when he was a baby}

After Gideon I took off all the baby weight and chopped my hair again.


For the last 4 years it’s been pretty much the same.  I usually do a “just-below-the-ear” textured hair cut.  I like my hair styled softly.  I don’t like severe angles of dramatic color… I’m kind of boring that way.

And this is me as of today.  I know it doesn’t really look that long but for me… this is long.

I’m getting a little older and I decided a long hair style would be a nice change.  Something that was versatile, and feminine.  It’s just long enough now that I can pull it back into a pony tail.  It’s a really pathetic, teeny tiny, pony tail but hey… it counts!

I can’t wait to be able to try some of these styles~
 
{images via Grosgrain }
 

Now, if I can just resist the urge to cut it all off again!
 
If you get the urge to humiliate yourself a bit, I’d love to see your hair history!

Wednesday July 27, 2011

Show & Tell this week is dedicated to babies.

For the last six years every woman I know has been having babies.  Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but all my friends are in the stage of starting and growing their families.  I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping on hand, a stock of handmade baby basics like bibs, burp clothes, wash cloths, and embellished onesies.

I love sewing for babies!  Making things for my own children was what first got me interested in sewing.  When we brought Jude home from the hospital I quickly realized that fancy baby clothes were fun and all… but what I really needed was a good stash of baby basics that could stand up to a lot of abuse.

I slowly began to include some of my handmade items in gifts for my friends with newborns.  Much to my delight, not only did the moms-to-be love the way they looked, they actually used the gifts I had made.

There have been several babies born this month, with several on the way (including a new niece or nephew for me!) so I thought it was time to stock up on some baby gifts.

Bibs make the perfect gift.  They are easy to sew, good looking, and extremely functional.

I don’t think you can have too many bibs.  Normally I use my own bib pattern but this time I used Amy Butler’s pattern from her book “Little stitches for Little Ones”.  I like the shape, and it has the food catcher pocket at the bottom, which is a handy feature.


Instead of sewing the front and the back right sides together and then turning it, I edged the bib with bias tape.  I love the look of the bias tape but I’ll admit it was tricky.  I had to use narrow bias tape in order to make it around all the curves, without getting puckers in the bias tape.  It took patience and time to make sure all the fabric layers ended up in between that narrow tape.  I had to redo several bibs, but practice makes perfect… or something like that.


I lined the back with a soft plush material.  I used a cream colored “minky” fabric, but you could use flannel as well.  The weight and the feel of the minky is dreamy!

Burp rags are another gift I like to give.

I  use the plain cloth diapers,  dye them with Rite dye, and stitch a panel of material down the center.  I think dying the burp cloths really adds a special touch.  You have to be careful though, be sure to follow the directions on the dye box.  I like to play it safe.  I color set the clothes by washing them in the washer with HOT water; not once but twice.  If you’re interested in trying your hand at dying, Dana from Dana Made It has some excellent tutorials.


For a little extra effort (and half the cost) you have a stack of burp rags that look like they came from an expensive baby boutique.

One of my favorite little gifts to give is a stack of flannel and terrycloth washcloths.

They are ultra soft, fit perfectly in the palm of you hand, and are nice and flexible for scrubbing all those adorable baby creases :)


I always use coordinating fabrics.  When you are making a simple gift  (like a washcloth) the material you chose makes a big difference.  Think outside of the box.  Don’t always go for the fabric with the pink hearts or the blue teddy bears.  Have fun with it, be a little more daring.  Try to take into consideration the mother’s tastes and preferences.  She is more likely to use something if she likes the way it looks.


Normally I line the back of the washcloth with terrycloth but this time I used the minky I had leftover from the bibs.

Take a few burp cloths, bibs, and washcloths; put them in a fun basket or colorful pail, and you have the perfect gift for that sweet little baby.


A fun gift that will get lots and lots of use!

Happy Wednesday to you all  ~ April

*As always, if you are interested in detailed step by step instructions of anything I have made, let me know and I will put together a tutorial.  Or feel free to send me a message if you have any questions.

Wednesday July 20, 2011

Or at least I am trying to keep up!  With all the kids at home this summer my productivity level has dropped… really it’s almost nonexistent.  The sewing room has been oh-so quiet.  The house is more cluttered than I like, and my toenails are not painted a pretty, flirty color right now.  Do you ever feel like one of those cartoon characters who’s legs are moving so fast that they’re just a blur… but they aren’t actually going anywhere?  That’s how I feel.

Swimming lessons are keeping us on the go this week~

The boys are doing great!  Last year, swimming lessons were traumatic for all of us.  The boys spent the better part of two weeks screaming, clinging to the side of the pool, and begging not to go back. 

This year we are taking lessons from a new teacher (who also happened to be Jude’s Awana teacher) and things are going so much better.  The combination of the boys being a year older and knowing exactly what to expect this time, helped a lot!

I’m really proud of this guy.  The first day I literally had to pry his hands off the ladder, but by the end of the first lesson he was floating around with a smile on his face.


This is still his favorite place to be… safe on the pool step.


And this little girl… she was begging to get in the water.  Technically Marcia doesn’t offer lessons to children under the age of three but yesterday she said, “April, why don’t you bring Eliza in her swim suit tomorrow and she can get in with me at the end of the lesson.”  Eliza took to the water like a little fish.  She was grinning, kicking her legs, blowing bubbles in the water.  Suddenly she turned to Marcia and said “Let go of me now please.”  I’m torn between feeling so proud and feeling a little nervous about my fearless girl!

~~~~~

After my last post, many of you asked me were I purchased my material.  I buy most of my specialty fabric on Etsy.  The particular seller I bought my last fabric bundles from is called, Fresh Modern Fabric.  Alice is the shop owner and I love her selection of fabric!  Her shipping was amazingly fast.  She sells mostly high quality, designer cotton and her prices are very competitive.  Designer cotton tends to be a little on the pricey side but she sells them in fat quarter amounts and half yard amounts.

These were some of her other fabric bundles that I loved ~


Love this Heather Ross fabric!
{all images are courtesy of Fresh Modern Fabric}

~~~~
After I did my post on Susanna’s Bridal shower, most of you wanted to know about the “fabulous green dress” worn by the beautiful Amanda.  I called Amanda to find out about it, but I’m afraid I don’t have good news.  The dress is an Anthropologie dress she bought about 4 years ago.  The brand is Maeve and you might be able to find it on Ebay.

But if you like vintage inspired, green dresses (or vintage inspired dressed of any kind) there are some other options~

Ruche had these lovely green dresses

{both images via Ruche}

Some other wonderful sites are ModclothShabby Apple, Boden, and of course Anthropologie.

~~~~

And for @appalolly who wanted to know about the nickname “Grape Ape”.

When I was a small girl my Grandmother (my dad’s mom) called me Grape Ape.  I remember coming home from her house one day and saying to my Dad, “Daddy, I don’t like it when Grandma calls me Grape Ape.”  My Dad said, “Well, the next time Grandma calls you that, just tell her that I said she can’t call you that anymore.”
The very next time I saw her she called me Grape Ape, and I informed her very seriously and earnestly that MY dad said she wasn’t allowed to call me that anymore.  She looked at me for a long time and then said, “Well you can tell you father that I gave birth to him, and I’ll call you whatever I want.”  It was then I leaned that there is a hierarchy in life, and my dad wasn’t necessarily at the top of it. That when push comes to shove, nothing trumps the woman who gave birth to you.  Needless to say she never stopped calling me Grape Ape.

Sorry no Show & Tell Wednesday this week but I hope to be back next Wednesday to show you what I made out of all that beautiful fabric!

Sunday July 17, 2011

We are falling happily into the rhythm of summer.  Sleeping in late, dirty toes, flip-flop tan lines, push-up pops, staying up a little too late…


Jude is settling down a bit.  He’s been a little lost without the structure of school in his life, but I think he’s finally getting the hang of summer vacation.

We’ve been eating good… real good {I’ve also been ignoring the scale. thank heavens for flowing summer dresses}.

Last Saturday Justin made THE BEST carnitas tacos.  He’s been experimenting in the kitchen quite a bit lately and I am enjoying every second of it.

I also got a fun package in the mail.  A whole stack of beautiful fabrics just waiting to become something lovely and useful.

Lots of babies being born this summer, and I like to be able to send something small and homemade to my friends with newborns.


The view from my sewing table

The tomatoes are getting red (and orange)!  It’s been a cool summer so the tomatoes are coming on a little late.

I also got a pretty new purple skirt!  It’s great for carrying tomatoes in from the garden.


Speaking of the garden… it is bursting at the seams!  I have beans and corn to harvest and freeze next week.  Not to mention several zucchinis  that are the size of small children.


Planted pumpkins this week.  I’m getting them in a little on the late side but hopefully we’ll have a decent crop of pumpkins this fall.

And this girl…


What ever am I going to do with this girl?
I think I’ll keep her.
Maybe smooch on her a bit.

Saturday July 16, 2011

 It is amazing to me how time shapes and changes our relationships with people.  At one time Susanna was a little girl who ran around church with all the other little girls. Then she was a freshman in the English/writing class I taught.  Now she is a grown woman, a friend, my peer, an honorary family member.  A few years ago Susanna started bringing Erik (her fiance) around.  I will admit, at first I was suspicious.  Surely he could not be good enough for our Susanna (I’m teasing, mostly).  But the more we all got to know him the more clear it became that he was not only good enough for her… he was perfectly suited for her.

Last night my Mother-in-law and I had the privilege of throwing Susanna a bridal shower.  It was hosted in my mother-in-law’s back yard in the evening.  The weather couldn’t have been nicer!


We decided to do a casual, fun vintage inspired party. 


Susanna and her dear sweet mom.  Both of them looking lovely in blue with their red flowers :)


Friends and family began to arrive.  Everyone chatted and sipped cherry cider punch.


Mom had the brilliant idea to make the menu a little retro too.  We made all kinds of fun “kitschy” finger foods… deviled ham and chicken salad finger sandwiches, celery and peanut butter, relish trays…

…AND a watermelon basket with melon balls!  I’m so in love with that basket…


Several of the girls who helped with the shower brought an assortment of homemade “tea sized” cookies.  We had ginger snaps, snicker doodles, lemon bars, and chocolate raspberry cookies (they were SO good, I think I might have eaten three of each throughout the night!). 


Close up shots of the sandwiches


These are the wonderful hard working ladies that made the shower go off without a hitch.  Thanks girls for all your help!


Susanna with her mom (to her left) and her future sister-in-law and mother-in-law (to her right)


I know this probably makes me old but I love going to showers.  I love sitting around with women I haven’t seen in a while and talking about babies, recipes, and who is dating who (or is it whom?).


She got so many fun gifts!


Me, parked by the food table… typical.

I am really looking forward to their wedding at the end of the summer, and seeing what the Lord has in store for this amazing couple.

Congratulations Erik and Susanna!

Friday July 15, 2011

This morning over my first cup of coffee, I wrote down all the giveaway entry names…

…tossed them all in a bag {using a fancy bag this time, it’s a high class operation we’re running here}


I reached in and pulled out one little slip of paper. 
Congratulations @iloveaholiday you won the “Little Things” giveaway!

Please send me a private message with your address so I can send your prize off!

I wanted to take a moment to tell you all how much I loved hearing your “sweetest little gift” stories.  You all had me smiling the whole day through. 

Each one of you told me about a gift the meant something to you, but what you really told me about was someone who was special to you.  In most cases the gifts were very small, monetarily worth very little, but the giving it’s self and the hand that gave, both hold a special and permanent place in your heart.

It was hard for me to choose a sweet gift to tell you about, because choosing one meant leaving out dozens of others that were just as precious to me.  But since you shared it is only fair that I share as well.  My “sweetest gift” wasn’t really a gift… in that it was something tangible.  It was a phone call from my father-in-law.  I was a new mom trying to adjust to life with two, needy little boys under my feet, and was feeling rather inadequate.  He had seen my drooping shoulders and the weariness on my face.  One morning, out of the blue he called, and with a catch in his throat told me that I was doing a good job with my boys.  It only took 5 minutes out of his day, but it meant the world to me to hear him say those words at that moment.

Never underestimate the power of kindness.  You have all you need to pass that onto someone else.  It is so easy so turn our focus inward and walk through life with our heads down.  It’s time to lift our heads and look around.  To be the hand that helps, the kind word that heals, the shoulder to lean on…
Some how I don’t think the Lord meant for us to take care of ourselves.  He wanted us to take care of each other, so that we would depend on one another.  He wants us to ease the burden of another, so that they can in turn do the same, and so on, and so on…

What you have to offer may seem small, but smallness is not the same as worthless.
Be the little flicker of light that the darkness cannot overwhelm.
Be the seed that falls in the crevice, that sends the root, that breaks the rock.

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.  Be hospitable without complaint.  As each one had received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  1 Peter 4:8-10

Wednesday July 13, 2011

This week’s Show & Tell is all about little details~
{Giveaway is now closed} I’ll announce the winner Friday, July 15th ~ Thanks!

Lately, I’ve picked up some small gifts at the store.  A little trinket that might remind me of a person I love.  I wanted to personalize the gifts a bit, so I got out my favorite fabric scraps, all my assorted trims, and labels and went to work.  And what I mean when I say “work” is, “doing something that makes me completely happy and content”.  What I came up with was a set of handmade, personalized gift bags.

I used a 3 x 5 card to cut out two pieces of material.  You could make the sack any size you like, I used the 3×5 because it was simple. I cut the fabric with my pinking sheers so I wouldn’t have to hem the top edge.  Then it was right sides together, stitch around the edge, clip the corners and turn inside out.  Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.


I added trim, monogrammed labels, and anything that caught my eye.  Can you tell I had a ball with these little things?  I thought they would make great party favor bags for a birthday party, or a little something extra you could tie onto the top of a larger gift.  The perfect size for small hair clips, lip balm, candy, or a small toy.


Just place the small item in the sack, tie with a ribbon or twin, and you have the perfect little personalized gift.

I also made up a some gift card holders~

I made a simple pocket style card holder.


Added a few extra touches.

 
and I made this version with the fold-over button flap. Aren’t tiny buttons spiffy?

I made a dozen of these little bags, and could have easily made a dozen more, they were so breezy and fun.    Some of them I tied with ribbons, while others I simple stuck a safety pin through the top.

I’m really in love with these!  In fact now that I think about it, a stack of little bags would make a nice gift all by themselves.

All right you talked me into it.  While these little bags are insanely simple to make (and I think you should give it a try yourself),  you might not have access to all the little trimmings and trappings I have managed to accumulate so…

For one lucky reader, a small selection of this, that and the other thing.

In the gift set there are: (4) small gift sacks, (1) gift card holder, (1) Necklace {as seen in the photo}, and (1) mustard colored folded rose pin {the very one from last weeks tutorial}, and a small bundle of silk ribbon for tying up sacks.  I will also include the Starbucks card if you wish… it has 0 dollars and 0 cents on it.

I’m going to mix things up a bit this time.  If you would like to be entered into the drawing, leave me a comment that begins with; “The sweetest little gift I ever got was…” and tell me about that gift.  Past winners are welcome to leave a comment, but I won’t be including your names in the drawing, that way we can spread the fun around a little more :)   I’m going to keep this giveaway short and sweet by leaving it open for 24 hours.  The randomly selected winner will be announced at the end of the week.

One last Show & Tell item~

What the creative process looks like at my house:

Thanks for showing up for another Show & Tell Wednesday and giving me an excuse to stay creative :)
~April a.k.a “Grape Ape”

If anyone is interested in a more in depth tutorial I will gladly oblige.