Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas in DC

There is something magical about being in a city at Christmas time. I have been in many cities at this time of year and I honestly think there is something very special about each one. This is our second Christmas in DC and I have a few favorite activities. If you're ever in DC for Christmas you have to check them out! 

My first favorite activity is visiting Santa at the Ellipse just down the hill from the White House. LG creates this magical workshop with a real good / bad list, letters to Santa and half made toys. The elves help you through the building and then you get to visit Santa. And he is a real looking Santa. Calder loves it.
 Then you get to visit Jesus at the nativity. This adorable park ranger chatted with the boys.
 And as you turn around you see the White House. It's really a beautiful building. Around the Ellipse there are trees with decorations for all the states. They are fun to look at as you walk to the large Christmas Tree.
 And in true DC form they had about a dozen trains around the tree. It seems they have trains everywhere we go here. Union Station, the Botanic Garden, College Park Aviation Museum and I swear every other place we go. It's perfect for little boys.
 My second favorite place to go is the Botanic Gardens. It's warm and beautiful year round. At Christmas time they have a train room (surprise) and they build replicas of buildings out of fruit, berries, nuts and plants. I am always in awe at what they can do with food.

I hope you all had a marvelous Christmas! I am so excited for 2012. There are good things in the works for me and hopefully you!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Toddler Man Coat

 I made Calder a coat. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way it turned out. I have made jackets for me before but never a coat. We went to the fabric store and found the wool section. I told him he could choose whatever he wanted. As soon as he saw this navy pinstripe he knew that is what he wanted. He also chose the toggle buttons.
 I used Simplicity 2526 and made a size 4. He wears size 3 clothes but I am hoping it will fit for two years. The pattern was really easy and strait forward. I hadn't ever done a back vent before but it turned out great. The pattern doesn't call for a lining and I definitely wanted one so he wouldn't get cold. Instead of making one I decided to go to H&M to get a sweater. Then I just sewed the two together at the wrists, up the front and around the neckline. It works perfectly.
 I love the way the charcoal sweater plays with the navy coat. And I love the way the sweater looks a bit like a scarf when he's all buttoned up.
 You can see the sweater a little bit here. It is double breasted, which is sure fun. We can button just the sweater and the coat hangs nicely.
I somewhat stalled on the project because I was nervous. It worked out so perfectly I have sewers high and feel like I can make anything. We'll see what comes out next!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Baby Bump

 As promised, here's the small but growing bump. It is big enough that I don't fit in my normal pants, which is proving to be quite the challenge. The maternity pants I wore last time just aren't that cute. How did I not know? I was so happy with them three and a half years ago.
 So I decided to make some of my non-maternity pants into maternity pants. These jeans are a pair of them. I really like the way they turned out and they are really comfortable. All you need is a pair of pants and an old tight fitting t-shirt.
 First you cut off the waist band in the front and back. You'll cut a bit more in the front than the back. Next you'll zig zag stitch or serge around your new pant waist.
 Then take a t-shirt and cut off a nice wide band. You can always cut this down later once you know how high you want it after you sew the shirt to your pants.
 Pin the two together with the t-shirt over the pants. The idea is that you'll put the pants on and you'll always look like you have a white t-shirt on under whatever you've got on. I don't really love the stretchy waistbands on maternity pants because they always peek out if my shirt isn't quite long enough or if I am wearing a light colored shirt.

Then you just sew them together around the original seam of the shirt. Perfect. Easy. Comfortable.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Home Tour Part 1 - Living Room

 Welcome to our new home. We moved from one apartment in our building to another. We knew we wanted to stay in our building and spent hours looking at each floor plan. We ended up choosing this one because it has so many windows. I love it. There is so much light and on a sunny day it gets so warm. 

We upgraded from 715 square feet to 1060 square feet. Still not huge but great for our growing family. Lets start our tour in the living room.
 This is a pretty strait forward room. We try to keep it open and clutter free. One nice thing about my son getting his own room is that the toys all go in there. Thus freeing up my living room to be clean and clutter free most of the time.
 This is the cedar chest my dad made for me when I turned 12. It is made out of white pine and lined with cedar. It holds my fine china and a few baby things. The suitcase holds my scraps of fabric that I plan to make a quilt out of. Oh and the massive but somehow attractive black rectangle on top of the cedar chest, that is Jason's reward for passing the bar.
 This is a little collection of things I love. The red vase was a purchase in Stockholm and the owl came from the thrift store and spray painted by me. I love these end tables. They can be chairs or tables or trains (if you're three years old).
And here is the last corner of the living room. We have a much larger balcony. My tomatoes are still growing. In the next day or two I'm going to pick them all and bring them in. It's almost Christmas! Somehow I picked a very hearty plant. The chalkboard used to be a large window from a 100 year old barn. I love it a lot.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Deck The Halls

 We've been decking the halls around here. Okay, who am I kidding. These all went up the weekend after Thanksgiving but I absolutely love Christmas decor. Ours is rather meager but perfect for where we're at in our lives. I prefer to keep my house uncluttered feeling and part of that means not looking like the Christmas aisle threw up in my living room.
All of our decorations have a special meaning to us. We were given ornaments every year from parents and grandparents. We have a lot more ornaments than we have tree but that's okay. It looks different every year. The angel below was a gift from my husband's dad and the hand carved Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus statue is a gift from my parents. I love our advent house. It looks a lot like an apartment. How fitting for us. I've had it for a long time and it was the first decoration I bought once we were married.
I do have a few more corners of decorations but this is the main area. Every year is a little different and I love that.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hallway Stripes

Thank you so much for all your kind words! I really am feeling great now and loving this time of anticipation and excitement in our home. You guys are so sweet!

 When we first looked at our apartment I fell in love with the entry hallway. it adds a lot to the entrance and makes it feel less like an apartment and more like a home. I wanted to do something to really dramatic and fun. Thankfully my husband was on board and did the painting. I just had to measure and tape. Conveniently the wall was 88 inches from baseboard to ceiling. The meant I could do eleven 8 inch stripes. Perfect.

 I LOVE the way it turned out. I haven't hung anything up yet because I'm still waiting for the perfect thing. It may stay this way for a long time.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pregnancy Nitty Gritty

All right, so here are the details about the pregnancy. I'm 15 weeks and due June 5. I feel great (now) and am really enjoying this point in life and the pregnancy for that matter. I've been spending my spare minutes looking at things like this:

and this:
or these:
And if these don't make you want to get pregnant too, I don't know what would. There is so much cute stuff out there. It's a good thing I can buy new things in 2012. Just kidding, I won't go crazy. I kept everything from our little boy and I made a lot of stuff for him. There are a lot of things that could work for a girl as well, so that's fun and easy.

We won't find out what we're having until January but for now I'm loving the idea of making special things for our #2.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cookies Follow Up & A Surprise

I ended up making sugar cookies for the cookie exchange last week. I love sugar cookies as does my family. To me it is really the best cookie out there. I have a fabulous recipe that always works. And since I can't do anything half hearted I shaped them into trees and frosted them. Cute but a lot of work. I will probably do them again next year though. They are what my family wants to eat so all the extra stay here. It's great, just a lot of work. Here's what they looked like unfrosted. That is 10 1/2 dozen sugar cookies.

I let my little boy help with the process. He loved it.

Oh and I promised a surprise so here it is.

I'm pregnant. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Spain Drool & Random Thoughts

These are some of my favorite pictures from Spain. I know I said I would share them with you. Don't worry I won't overwhelm you with our day by day itinerary. I'll just say, if you get the chance, go to Spain. 

Random thoughts:
  • I love wrapping paper. I know it's not the most green option (although recyclable) but it is my wrapping method of choice. 
  • The mall closest to me just opened an H&M. I'm a very happy girl (or at least will be come January when I can buy new things...)
  • I just can't seem to get my bedroom organized. It is also our office and I'm trying to figure out how to make it all work. Moving to a bigger apartment shouldn't have this problem.
  • My husband just started a new job yesterday. We're all pretty excited. So far things are going great. 
  • My son chose shredded wheat as his cereal of choice at the grocery store today. 
  • I chose Lucky Charms. (Shameful I know)
  • I made Mounds Bar cookies yesterday and have eaten far too many. I need to offload them at someone's house pretty quickly. 
  • I also made really tasty taco soup which was perfect on a rainy day. 
  • My son asked me to make his coat this year instead of buying it. I am so proud. 
  • He also asked me to make him a light saber. I'm glad he thinks I can make anything.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Cookie Exchange

I am going to a cookie exchange on Saturday. My first ever. And I'm a little nervous. This is the 9th annual exchange hosted by the same people and I don't want to screw things up. I would like to be invited to the tenth annual. You know?

I need to bring six dozen cookies. I thought about my two favorite Christmas desserts, mounds bars 

and church windows.

Neither of which are a traditional cookie. I'm nervous that since these aren't the traditional cookie that they won't win over the cookie exchange gals. There aren't a ton of rules but I know bar cookies generally aren't preferred because you can cut them smaller to get 6 dozen. Obviously you want them big enough to substitute a cookie. The church windows are at least cookie shape but they are very nontraditional in flavor.

I do make a delicious sugar cookie, but are those too expected? Is everyone going to show up with sugar cookies? Since I care more about taste than looks I don't use royal icing. I use buttercream and therefore they won't even be as cute as some of the ones you see out there.  Making six dozen seems a little overwhelming too.

I've been thinking about alternatives. I like the idea of a chocolate chip cookie with peppermint. I'll let you know what I decide, but I am so torn. Anybody have any ideas?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two Days

We move in 2 days and I can't be more excited! We get our keys tomorrow night. All of our stuff is packed except toothbrushes and a few toys. Okay and shampoo but otherwise it's all in a box, in my living room. I am always surprised by the mound of boxes. I waiver between thinking there are so many and thinking we don't have much. I think I will always long for being happy with less.

Along those lines I thought I would give you an update on 2011 Nothing New. I have been mostly successful not buying anything new this year. Here are the things I can remember buying: 
  • A duplicate stuffed toy that is very special to Calder and we left in a friend's car that we wouldn't see for a bit. 
  • Socks for me in Spain
  • A toy helicopter for Calder in Spain
  • Flip flops in Chicago (necessitated by bloody heels from my boots and lots of walking)
  • Party supplies (hats, balloons etc for Calder's birthday party)
  • A lunch box for Calder and for his friend Grace. This is actually a little bit in the gray area because I had recently sold something on Craigslist so I could actually say the money went towards the boxes, but I did still buy them)
And I think that is it. Not bad for a whole year. You could even argue the socks were a hygiene item but really they're not. They are adorable socks that peek above my boots with little buttons on them. They aren't just traditional functioning socks. I'll take a picture once they are unpacked. They're cute. And I don't regret buying them one bit.
I am glad that I've done the Nothing New challenge. I have learned a lot and I feel pretty removed from consumerism. It's funny I don't know what I would buy if I could go to the store and buy whatever I want. I'm sure I could find something but there isn't anything I'm just dying to get on January 1. 

Jason and I were talking recently about how much we've saved this year and most months we only saved about $100 compared to last year. A few months we did save a lot more but most of the months were right around $100. I was a little bummed about only saving $100 a month when it seems so hard to avoid buying anything. The money really adds up over the course of the year though. It is a lot of effort and I didn't do it just for the money, although that doesn't hurt. I really did it to try to be more green and less dependent on spending money for happiness. I feel like I accomplished both of these goals. 

I would recommend the challenge to anyone. I feel like it took me at least 6 or 7 months to feel content with not buying anything and not feel the urge to buy. So, if a year seems like forever maybe you could commit to a shorter time. I think I needed the full year to avoid slipping back into old habits.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mattress Care

Yesterday I had this random burst of cleaning energy and decided my mattress needed some TLC. I had seen recently on Pinterest (not just for pretty pictures, you know!) that you can sprinkle baking soda onto your mattress to freshen it up. You just sprinkle it on (about a cup), wait a few minutes and vacuum it off. You can also add lavender before sprinkling it onto the mattress but my husband hates the smell of lavender, so I skipped that part. I also washed my sheets and had a very pleasant night sleep. I think this might be a quarterly activity for me.

And people say you never do projects you see on Pinterest. Ha.

Monday, October 24, 2011


My family is moving in three weeks. I am planning on making this the easiest move we've ever had. See, we're moving upstairs. We live on the 3rd floor and we're moving to the 13th. Same building, just an elevator ride away. It seems weird to box everything up for such a short move but there's no way I could not put everything in boxes, even for a short move. So far our record is 2 hours, start to finish and we had to drive the truck 5 blocks between loading and unloading. I'm hoping this will be an hour or so.

Needless to say, there hasn't been much crafting. I already packed all that stuff. You know, important stuff first, right? Of course, as soon as I finished packing it I thought of all the quick 30 minute or less projects I want to do and could probably have done if I tried. All well. I really should focus on the task at hand. But my pinterest account just keeps filling up with things I want to do.

So, things have been quiet but I'll try to pop in here and there. Oh and I'm excited about the move because I'll have a bigger apartment to decorate. And I think that includes paint. Woohoo!

Maybe some of this: 
or this

Ooh I can't wait!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Toy Storage

I know I've been quite absent lately but I have good reason. We've been in Spain for a while and before that I was in Chicago with some girlfriends. I'll share more about both of these a little later but right now I have a question. Do you have the perfect toy storage solution? I can't seem to figure out what I want and I've looked at tons of different choices. Do you have something that works? I'd love to see what you think!

Here are a few I've been considering.
Photo Credit
I like the idea of just using crates on casters. Simple, open top, easy to move and re-arrange. I'm worried about the floor space it will take up though. 
I have also considered Ikea's Trofast storage unit (or making my own with Ana White's plans) but I don't LOVE the way it looks. I do like the way you could add shelves once you don't need it for toy storage and then it would be a bookshelf. If I went this route I would add metal legs to the unit. I also don't love the plastic bins. I would prefer cloth, metal or wood. I understand they're lightweight but they aren't too pretty to look at. 
I also really like these from Land of Nod. They are stack-able, so you just buy however many you need. I also like that you can't dump a bin full of toys on the floor. You would have to take them out one by one instead. The down side to these is the price. They are a bit more than I would like to spend. 

So, what do you do with the toys? Or, what would you do with your toys if you could start over?


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