Super Sewing Tote!

 

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Ah, nothing like those last few months of pregnancy to light the fire under your chubby buns to finish all those projects on the to-do list!

One of those projects was making a new bag to store my cross-stitching supplies.  Up until a while ago, I kept my latest project and threads in a ratty old gift bag.  Sad, right??

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Become a Better Parent

 

Being a parent is kind of a high pressure job, eh?  Not only are you on call 24/7, 365 but if you screw up your job, then your kid ends up in a maximum security prison.   Or at least in crippling debt from all the therapists he has to see undo the effect of your well-meaning intentions.

Yet so many of us have no clue where to turn for help with our parenting skills.  We know we shouldn’t yell or spank or threaten consequences that we never intend to follow through on.  But how SHOULD we deal with the raging toddler or the angst-ridden preteen??

Or that one kid who keeps peeing in inappropriate places?

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I recently found two AMAZING parenting resources that I have to share!

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Girl Dress Pattern Sneak Peek!

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I have been sewing up a storm of little girl dresses around here lately.  Luckily I have lots of little models that are all too happy to reap the rewards of my labors.

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Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake Bars with Ginger Cookie Crust

 

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You GUYS.  Every have one of those culinary experiences that is just magical??  An unexpected combination of flavors that just blows you away?  

That was me the first time I tried a lemon, blackberry, ginger dessert pairing.  It was in the form of this parfait recipe from a Bon Appetit magazine that I made for the first time several years ago and I dream about that sucker regularly.  Well, the other day my sister (the one with the culinary arts degree) and I were trying to come up with a perfect Sunday night treat and we remembered this phenomenal combination.

We invented this bar version and we are in love!  Easy, fairly quick to throw together and just a heavenly mash-up of flavors.

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Big Kitchen Reveal!

 

 

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Holy cow, am I excited to finally share all the after pics of our kitchen!  This project has been a LONG time coming and we are just thrilled with the end result.  I got to dig up some old “before” pics for this post, along with a couple pictures of the kitchen as a work in progress over the years.  Try to not get too overwhelmed by the heinousness that was our kitchen when we moved in almost 7 years ago.

Ready for this??

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This was what greeted us when we first toured the house.  Trust me, it was way worse in person.  We painted and replaced carpet before moving in, but that was about it.

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The upside to carrying your 7th kid

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Expecting baby #2. We were so young, so…sane.

I realize that the decision to have 7 kids isn’t really an idea the majority of people will ever entertain (well, sane people, anyway).  But just in case you ever wondered if there’s any benefit to being pregnant while there are 6 diminutive maniacs running around your house (all.  day.  long.), there ARE!  Read on.

1.  You’re too busy to think about being pregnant. If you’re an OCD planner and dreamer like I am, then a first pregnancy literally feels likes it’s 27 (thousand) months long.  Researching cribs and strollers and baby baths, panicking about what baby carrier is safest and having meltdowns about the nursery theme filled every minute of every day of that first gestation.  During THIS pregnancy however, I generally abide by the following motto:

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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#fail

 

I just LOVE failing at things.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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Windy day at the top of a mountain picture = hair fail.

Bahaha!  I’m so funny.  Let’s be real.  Failure sucks stinks (edited for the children).

 I hate, hate, HATE to fail. It makes me feel…um, like a failure.

However, lucky (unlucky??) for me, I have this passion and excitement for life that usually outweigh my fear of failure.  I try new stuff ALL the time and the thought of failure usually only creeps in after I’m committed and it’s too late.  Um, whoops.

I‘ve been thinking a lot about failure lately and wanted to share my favorite teenage failure-turned-success stories.  (I had a lot more time for trying new stuff and a lot less pride back then 🙂

On my 16th birthday, I tried out for cheerleading and made an utter and complete idiot of myself.  It was painful (I don’t mean figuratively…I fell on my head repeatedly while attempting back handsprings).  But did I let that stop me?? No sirree.  I simply moved across the country and tried out again.
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 *Well, I wasn’t an immediate success, of course.  The coach actually told me that I was pretty awful and wouldn’t be performing at competitions but she needed an extra body for basketball games and I ‘d have to do. 

 I worked really hard that year, made some great friendships and DID end up in stunts at competitions.  I got to be pretty dang good and even began to love my teenage body because it was strong enough to help me hoist other cheerleaders above my head and catch them all by myself.  (Also a precursor to those years of chiropractic care.  Hey, no pain, no gain, right?!)

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One of our picturesque shots of Hawaii from last summer. A beach always seems so peaceful to me…but then I think about some of the difficult beach sports Hawaii’s known for, like surfing or boarding. How many failures does a person have to endure before he becomes a success at something like THAT?

My other experience happened when I was only months into a new high school and I decided to try student council so I could meet new people.  I signed up to run for (what I thought was) junior class vice president but mistakenly signed up to run for student BODY vice president (as in, over the whole school).  A much bigger deal and something that a sophomore had never attempted before.  By the time I realized my mistake, I was too afraid (read: embarrassed) to back out. 

I jumped in with both feet and ended up running against only one other girl.  I was so afraid of failing that I campaigned like a crazy person.  And I won.  That next year was amazing; I had a so much fun, worked with the school’s adult leadership and made lifetime friends. 

In the end, the fear of failure is just that: fearIt’s not real.  It’s something imaginary that we allow to invade our dreams and keep us from the things we want.

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USS Missouri: fear of failure has to be something very real for members of the military. But it’s not only their pride at stake…usually many, many lives depend on their courage.

As an adult, my propensity to try new things has been lacking lately and I can’t really figure out why.  As adults we like to think that we should have already defined ourselves into a little corner and we therefore can’t succeed at new things.  How many times have you heard an adult say, “Oh, I’m not creative.” or “Nah, I don’t do sports.” Kids would never admit defeat like that, especially before they’d even tried!

We adults also have this terrible thing called pride.  What if someone notices that I screwed up?  What if someone judges me?  What if, what if, what if…??  I’ve realized that I like to fill my home and life full of examples of where I have succeeded to help me remember that I’m never done defining myself.  Isn’t it fun to surprise people?!

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USS Arizona Memorial

I recently decided something.  Any chance I get to feel fear or rejection (plus the accompanying embarrassment), I’m gonna take it.  It’s all just a potential for growth, anyway.  If it’s been a while since you’ve tried something new, maybe it’s time to take a stretch.  What’s the worse that could happen?  You could fail??  Sure, but you could also succeed.

Besides, how boring would we be without failures to laugh about??

The Epidural: Making an Informed Decision

 

Yay for a new year and getting back to the swing of things and regular schedules!  That is, after getting my family over all the yucky sicknesses making the round this winter…it’s been like Pukefest 5000 around here. 🙁

Now back to one of my favorite topics…birth!  And on to the second installment of my series on this wonderful topic.

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Out with the old

 

It’s a new year!!  Welcome to 2015, ya’ll!

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The start of a new year is always so bittersweet for me.  I love the anticipation of new experiences and change is like, my everything.  But at the same time I feel nostalgia for a year already gone.  Did I enjoy it enough?  Did I pay enough attention to the little milestones in my and my kids’ lives that we will never pass through again?  I’m often tempted to give in to my sentimental side and start a bawl-fest over all the little endings that happen regularly in my mom-life.

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I wanted to share all of our family pictures from this Fall, as a fond farewell to 2014.  And also, kind of like saying, “we successfully dressed and photographed 6 small children last year…BRING it, 2015!!”  But then again, that may be tempting fate 😉

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As much as I loathe endings to great things, there really is something special about beginnings, amiright?  New books, new houses, new babies, new clothes, new city or country, new friendships…the possibilities of what the new things in our life will bring is so exciting!

Of course, not all new things are good or exciting.  Certainly none of us wants to experience the loss of a thing or person we love.  Even some of the new things listed above can be heartbreaking under some circumstances such as divorce, job loss or death.

I guess all that means is that we look forward to the good things with joy and gratitude and pray that we’ll have the strength to endure the bad.  So much of what is good can come from those unanticipated “bad” surprises!

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I also almost forgot to share my favorite Christmas video, “He is the Gift”, on the blog!  Click here to see it or watch below.

This is my reminder that whatever goals or resolutions or buzz words I may have planned for this next year, becoming more like Christ should be at the center of everything I do.

Happy new beginnings!!

Pictures by Red Poppy Photo

 

DIY Christmas Stockings

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Christmas traditions really are the most fun, aren’t they??  When I was a kid, we moved around a bit which means that our favorite traditions had to be mobile, like decorations or favorite foods.  Our stockings, handmade by my mom, are one of my favorite memories so I decided to duplicate them for my kids.  They’ve been so fun to create!

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Note: this is a great tradition to start when you only have like 2 or 3 kids, instead of 6.  I made 2 last year but have been nice and busy playing catch up this year.  And even though the personalized cross-stitching does take a little time, these stockings are otherwise super simple and fun to put together.  Let’s get to it!

First thing to do is create a pattern.  Sketch a stocking shape out on some cardstock, thinking about what Santa usually leaves in your kids’ stockings and making sure that the stocking is big enough.  For reference, my pattern is 17.5″ long (from top edge to toe), 6.75″ wide at the top and 4.5″ wide at the toe area (before it starts tapering).  FYI, ours are just slightly too narrow for a DVD, in case that’s important to you.

You’ll also need pattern pieces for the coordinating toe and heel fabric.  My toe piece is 3″ long and my heel piece is 1.5″ wide x 6.5″ long.

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Now you’ll need to cut out your fabric, as follows:

Cut 4 stocking pieces out of your main fabric (2 on the right side of fabric, 2 on the wrong side)
Cut 2 stocking pieces out of thin batting
Cut 1 piece of aida fabric (the kind used for cross-stitching).  You need a piece measuring 3.5″ x 7″ but I always cut mine several inches bigger to allow some breathing room when cross-stitching.
Cut 1 piece of main stocking fabric also measuring 3.5″ x 7″
Cut 1 piece of fusible interfacing also measuring 3.5″ x 7″
Cut a piece from your toe and heel patterns out of coordinating fabric

Cut 2 pieces of trim to decorate your toe and heel pieces (long enough to cover the raw edges of each piece as seen in finished pictures)
Cut 1 piece of trim to decorate the bottom of cross-stitched piece (7″ long)
Cut 1 piece of trim or bias tape, 4″ long (for a loop to hang your stocking)

Now comes the easy part!  Top-stitch the toe and heel pieces to the front of your stocking piece.  Add trim where desired, to cover your stitching.

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Now make a stocking sandwich: batting, back and front stocking pieces (right sides together) and the other piece of batting, and stitch together with a 1/4″ seam.

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Separately, sew together the remaining 2 stocking pieces, also right sides together (this will be your stocking lining).

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Turn your outer stocking right side out (the one with batting) and press edges as best as you can.  Then insert the lining inside the outer stocking (keep it inside out…you want the right side of fabric visible when you look inside the stocking).

Once you finish the cross-stitching for your cuff, you’re ready to put together your stocking cuff.  **You can also skip the personalization and just make the cuff out of another piece of main stocking or coordinating fabric!  Start by ironing your fusible interfacing to the wrong side of your 3.5″ x 7″ piece of main stocking fabric (this will be the back of the cuff).  Press the bottom edge of this interfaced piece to the back 1/4″ and topstitch.

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Do the same to the bottom edge of your piece of aida fabric and add your decorative trim.  Then, sew your aida fabric and back cuff piece together, RST.

Now comes the only tricky part!  I’ve done this several times and finally think I’ve figured out the best way…so here goes!

Turn the entire stocking inside out, lining and everything, making sure you remember which side is the front of the stocking (mark it with a pin).

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Turn the cuff inside out as well, then slip it over the top of the stocking, making sure the cuff isn’t upside down and that the name is facing the front side of the stocking that you marked with a pin.  Pin all the way around the top, making sure the edges of the cuff, outer stocking and lining pieces all match up, then stitch together, using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Now, one final step!  Turn the entire stocking right side out and fold cuff down.  Rip out one inch of the seam you just sewed, wherever you’d like to put your hanging loop.  Fold your piece of trim or bias tape in half, and insert it into this hole in the seam, making sure your raw edges of the trim are even with those of the stocking.  Turn your cuff back up to access the seam, and sew this portion of the seam closed again, over the loop.

Tada!  You’re done!  Stand back and admire your handiwork and think about the years of memories it will bring!

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