Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spring

Moving several hundred miles north in the middle of March gave us a second chance at Spring. And while Spring in Florida was nice in its own way, I've discovered I love Spring in Virginia even more!

Of course, that could be because we actually have *grass* at this house. We had grass (or something like it) in Florida, but it was nothing like the lush profusion sprouting outside our door here. It helps that we're not responsible for watering or mowing it (some of the perks of our current rental!). 


I can't believe how big our Laddie is getting! He was quite content lying in the
shade of a pear tree on his quilt (made by a dear friend).

Within a few weeks of our arrival the pear trees were in full, glorious bloom:




I must admit that I can't stand the smell of Bradford pear blossoms (they remind me of frying mushrooms. Go figure), but I was happy to trade off the smell for a few weeks of beauty. 




 It's good to finally feel more settled. There's an odd box here and there, and a few items that haven't found homes yet, but for the most part we've figured out our new routine here. I'm really shocked by just how much we've gotten rid of during the unpacking process. I thought we'd cleared out pretty well before we left, but apparently my standards of "worth keeping" having gotten stricter since then! Which is fine with me. I'm enjoying having less to worry about and maintain.

I'm also getting the hang of the grocery stores here -- we have one less than a mile from our house, which is luxuriously handy. I still do most of my shopping at the local military commissary, but I've found that there are usually a few sale items worth snagging each week. Strawberries for $1 a pound? Can't say no to that!




We're continuing to explore our area, meet new friends, and learn what it is to start fresh in a new place. It's already exciting, and I know that the real adventure lies ahead when we move again in a few months.

But for now, settling down feels very good indeed!


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dot to Dot (Or, "Yet Another Izzy")

This is, by my count, my sixth incarnation of the fabulous Izzy pattern (you can see the others here)! If you've been here even a short time, you've probably already noticed my fascination obsession with this pattern. This is a fever that not even more cowbell can cure! But that's okay. This is one addiction I'm more than happy to feed. 

I made up a 3T for my 2 1/2 year old, and it's great now with room to grow. Hopefully this Izzy will have a long life as a dress and then as a tunic!





I paired grey polka-dot cotton with a remnant of linen in "Meadow" that I'd purchased for next-to-nothing some time ago. I love the color combination (though it's super difficult to get the colors right on a computer monitor!).
This time I notched the collar for a little detail -- I also lined the bodice with the cotton, and I like the look of it peeking out when it's on the hanger! 




Pockets, too -- just because. They were simple to draft, and help bring the whole thing together.





I added a band of linen to the bottom (double the desired width + seam allowance, folded in half and stitched right-side-together to the skirt). Though I did end up shortening the dress by several inches after taking these photos; despite my efforts, it ended up far too long for Rosa! 




A vintage mother-of-pearl button secures the back.




This was my first sewing project since arriving in Virginia -- I cut it out before bed and stitched it the next day. Just in time for a trip to IKEA the day after! It was a long trek, but well worth it -- oh Poang, how we love your comfortable curves! *wink*

It's been a flurry of activity here, but I hope to post a bit more regularly soon. Right now we're in the aftermath of a washer that flooded our utility room and part of the kitchen, so we'd appreciate prayers for a swift (and relatively inexpensive) resolution to that problem. In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying Spring wherever-you-are as much as we are!



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Here

We are here

That's a deceptively obvious statement, considering the amount of time, effort, etc., that was necessary to make it valid! Somehow, some way (I'm still fuzzy on the details) we managed to pack up our belongings and start the trek to Virginia. Actually, that's not entirely true, because it's very clear to me that the only way we did it was with an army of helpful friends & family, my parents (who made the 1-hour trek to our home an insane number of times that last month!), and Pablo's brother (whom we tasked with everything unpleasant that we didn't really want to do...). 

The drive up was interesting -- not really bad, in the sense that our new little Laddie slept virtually the entire time, the two older kids were relatively well behaved (we used our van's DVD player for the first time, which was a huge boon!), and the drive itself was smooth. It was just very, very, very long. Elongated by the necessity of frequent feeding/potty/eating breaks. But, by God's grace, we arrived! Three days later we signed the lease on a rental -- a providential story in itself, since the rental we were planning on pre-move turned out to be a 2nd floor unit with no outside area for the kids to play. Just before we went to see it, I found another rental that cost less and had some outdoor space for the kids. And it's in the perfect location, too. We unpacked the truck the same day we moved in (and also drove a few miles away to pick up a Craigslist washer and dryer, as the unit didn't have them!).


The littles and I enjoyed watching this fellow rustling up some breakfast

Two days later, Rosa came down with a stomach bug. The next evening, the rest of us got it. There has been a lot of laundry lately -- thank goodness for that washer and dryer! It has easily (or rather, not-so-easily *wink*) been the craziest four weeks of my life, but God has sustained us through it all. And really, very little has actually gone "wrong." He has blessed us over and over again, even as we've been bombarded with challenge after challenge.


Spring is on its way here -- our second spring this year!  



Little by little, box by box, we're settling into a new rhythm. And hopefully I'll be able to stop and catch my breath soon!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Special Delivery

At long last, he's here -- this little love of ours, this long awaited baby boy. Our ray of sunshine after the storm





Sixteen days early, just like his sister. But the biggest of our babies at 7 lb 13 oz and 21 1/2 inches. He is sweet and kissable, and oh! that newborn smell!

There are so many things I am grateful for -- a straightforward, 5 hour labor; a wonderful labor and delivery nurse and my laid back OBGYN; a husband who can make me laugh through contractions (him, watching the contraction monitor: "Wow, that's a big one!" As if I needed to be informed...); a natural, complication-free birth; and most of all, a healthy baby.

He is adored by his siblings (and his parents!), and has settled in to our family beautifully -- i.e., he can sleep through Little Man and Rosa's rabble rousing. Hopefully that will last past the newborn stage!




I marvel at this tiny life that God has entrusted to our care. So much healing, so much joy in such a tiny package. 

And now we finish packing up our worldly goods (of which there are too many, despite my extensive decluttering!). My efforts to "take it easy" in the middle of our first big move are not entirely successful, despite my husband's selfless care and constant reminders to not overdo it. Fortunately, this has been my swiftest recovery thus far. Still, I think the long drive will actually be a rest after this week's busy-ness! Thank goodness our newest addition is very happy in his car seat... so far. Speaking of that new addition, I'm thinking he'll go by "Laddie" in this little Internet space of mine. 

Thank you ever so much, those of you who have prayed with and for us over the past year and more -- when we count our blessings, we count you! 


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A Bit of Britannia in Leather

I've been needing a larger purse cosmetic bag for quite some time now -- the little zippered pouch I was using was just a tad too small for my mommy necessities (compact, chap stick, hand sanitizer, tiny hairbrush, bandaids, etc.). A "Mommy bag" was starting to seem more and more desirable, especially now that it's diaper bag season again. The obvious solution was to make one, since I have plenty of scrap everything in my stash. 

But why not have a little fun with it? As a committed Anglophile -- but one whose tastes (and husband!) do not permit the blazoning of the Union Jack all over our dwelling -- the design seemed clear. Originally I planned to make it with fabric, but the more I thought about it, the less I thought that the fabrics I have on hand would be suitable. So if not fabric, then what? Leather, of course!





I was extremely skeptical about how well the leather would work -- especially stitching multiple layers of it together for the Union Jack pattern! I've had limited success stitching leather with my sewing machine, and the prospect of doing it all by hand... not appealing, to say the least. Fortunately, I gave the machine a try. It loved the really thick stuff, and only skipped a few stitches in toto.

I even had a salvaged red purse zipper with a red pull in my stash -- and it was just the right length! The brown suede leather is from a skirt that I bought way back when for $1. It's the skirt that just keeps on giving! The tan suede is from a jacket, and the red leather is from a bag of leather scraps my husband got for free at a local saddle shop. 







The pattern was the same I used for the pouch in my makeup travel bag -- it's half of a sheet of printer paper (i.e., it's 8 1/2" by 5 1/2") with the corners rounded. The sides are 2 1/2" wide, and the whole thing uses 1/2" seam allowance. So the bag's finished dimensions are roughly 4 1/2" by 7 1/2, with 1 1/2" side gussets. I really like this shape for a cosmetic bag; it's easy to access everything, and it's quite simple to construct (the hardest parts are the curves, and making sure the gusset lines up with both sides of the bag).

Do you want a peek at the lining? Of course you do -- or, if you don't, here's one, anyway! *wink*








And here's a better view!







I found the British fabric at JoAnn's (so handy when trends coincide with my interests!), and knew it would be just the thing for the lining. So yes, technically this is not an entirely "stashed" project. But for a few dollars, I couldn't resist. Plus, I now have some of the British fabric leftover for future projects.

You may be able to tell from the picture that it's a tad shiny -- that's because I used some super thin vinyl, leftover from my Peter Rabbit table re-do, as a protective layer. I figure that I won't want to be washing this very often due to the leather outer (though yes, you *can* wash leather on a gentle cycle if you're willing to take the risk), but quilting cotton doesn't exactly repel liquids, lotions, or the other substances that might be stored inside. It gives the bag a bit of a crinkly sound, but it actually worked out much better than I anticipated. I think basting the vinyl to the fabric before stitching it did the trick. 




So there you have it -- a new "Mommy bag" that's the perfect size (probably should have checked that before I made it, but all's well that ends well), while simultaneously sating my craving for British things. A happy ending, indeed!


Friday, February 27, 2015

The Knitting Bag

I don't splurge on expensive fabrics -- but when I do, I use every. last. scrap. The reasonsing is two-fold: if I spent more than usual it's probably because it's a fabric that I love, and having spent more than usual I'm determined to get every last penny out of my yardage! That's why I'm posting yet another project with Birch Fabric's Flight Canvas in Mineral, paired with grey linen.

There are probably thousands of tote patterns and tutorials on the interwebs -- from the very basic to the complex. I usually keep scrolling, knowing that it would only take about 2.5 seconds to find a pattern if I ever neede done. But for some reason, when I spotted the 1 Hour Reversible Tote by Haberdashery Fun, I was taken! So taken that I started one almost immediately. It helped that I've been wanting a dedicated knitting bag for some time now, and I knew this was the perfect candidate.




Perfect, indeed! The size and shape are just right -- not overly large for small projects, but big enough to tote a medium sized project. Granted, mine is not reversible -- primarily because I decided to use a brushed white cotton duck (from a salvaged Pottery Barn curtain panel) as the lining. But I wasn't really interested in reversible, so that worked out just fine! I put in a little pocket just for kicks; sometimes it's nice to keep little things from to the bottom of one's bag.




I am definitely running low on my Flight canvas (I've already made a stroller canopy and a diaper clutch from the 2 or 2 1/2 yards I bought), so I ended up piecing the front panel to make it work. I'm actually glad I did, because I think it looks better that way and I like the topstitching on the linen!





With no webbing on hand and no patience to wait for my next fabric store trip, I used extra linen for the straps. I'm using this as a knitting bag, so I have no concerns about durability! The linen is definitely a tad "floppy" (though I could have stiffened it with interfacing if I'd felt like it), but I like it. I didn't interface the canvas and linen, either, because the lining was so stiff, and it seems to have just enough structure for my purposes.







I think what really got me about this bag was the handle construction -- for some reason, I love the slight curve in the front, and the way the binding creates the handles. It's so simple (much easier than the average tote bag handle construction, in my opinion), and is just a little something special. All of the topstitching is in a thread color that matches the canvas; again, a decision I made out of laziness that turned out well!





 Now that my knitting projects have a reliable mode of transportation, the only question remaining is,  "What am I going to do with the two 8x14" pieces of canvas that I have left?" Oh, the possibilities! *wink*

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Last Maxi

A few weeks ago, I whipped up the last maxi -- well, the last maxi skirt for this pregnancy, anyway! Maxi skirts are so fabulous for transitional clothing; they span normal, maternity, and post-partum wardrobes with ease!

My dear mother knows me so well. She did not buy me a maxi skirt. She did not buy me fabric with which to make a maxi skirt. She bought me a knit dress that I could upcycle into a maxi skirt! She found a rather hideous J. Crew "tube top" dress at a local charity shop, and saw the potential at once. The color of the fabric is gorgeous -- it's a bit more muted than it shows on my computer monitor, and has a lovely hand. It's actually been in my stash for months; I'm still not sure why it took me so long to tackle this, since it took all of 15 or 20 minutes to complete.


Baby bump at just shy of 35 weeks!

After cutting off the bodice, I gave the rectangular skirt a bit of an A-line silhouette and attached a waistband. I ended up using one of my salvaged lycra maternity panels, trimmed down to about 4" (in other words, eliminating the curved bit in the front). The panel is beige, which actually makes it less visible under a white top than a self-fabric waistband would be. And hurray for pre-existing hems!

The white ruched tank top is one of six by Oh! Mamma that I bought this pregnancy (two white, and one each in black, grey, fuchsia, jade, and burgundy) -- they've been life savers, and are perfect for layering with non-maternity cardigans! This particular cardigan is by Style & Co., and was a clearance find at the Navy Exchange -- my mom gave me one in a lovely mocha/mushroom color for Christmas, and I decided I'd like one in charcoal, as well. They're super comfortable and have a nice feminine look. I love using non-maternity pieces whenever possible! I've done that more with this pregnancy, and I'm looking forward to (hopefully) less wardrobe drama in the post-partum stage. Of course, all of my winter layering pieces will have to "hibernate" during our stay on Guam...

At any rate, I'm enjoying this latest stash-reduction/wardrobe amplification!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A New Activity Gym for Our Little Laddie

My first homemade activity gym left me hankering for more -- and when the mat from the first one began to disintegrate (thanks to my less-than-ideal piecing), I had the perfect excuse to remake it! I stayed with a woodland theme, but took the opportunity to change the style a bit.




First, I decided to opt for a square mat this time. I'm not exactly sure why, but I do feel it might offer a bit more room for the baby and will be more functional if I want to use it with the gym arches.




I found some darling fox-and-owl fabric at JoAnn's, which I combined with stash mocha linen ($1 thrifted jacket), a brown quatrefoil cotton, and a sage dot cotton.





I added toy tethers between some of the squares, which means toys will be less likely to end up all over the rest of the floor! That was one thing I really regretted omitting from my original mat.


This is actually my first (too-short) attempt for the crinkle teether, but it will get some use, after all!

I had leftover fabric, so why not make a support pillow, too? It's sort of a "mini Boppy," (hopefully) perfect for tummy time or a little bit of propping. I've seen these in some retail activity gyms and thought it looked like a good idea.




Some of the toys from my last gym are still going strong...





... but I decided to update a few. Namely, a little owl in the mocha linen. Oh, and I added bronze-colored KAM snaps to the ribbons so that toys would be easier to attach.




I couldn't resist a little more fun! I was actually in need of a few drool bibs and a new pacifier tether, so it worked out beautifully! I tried out one of my new enamel pacifier clips -- I like them so much better than the metal suspender clips I usually use.




A few details from the bib -- a copper snap, and a totally pointless linen pocket!




And here's the reverse of the bib:




Now to while away the weeks (days?) until these can actually be put to good use!