Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Baby Tunic Winner

According to (I wish I could figure out how to copy the widget so you all know I don't just make this stuff up)  the winner of the Baby Tunic is lucky #7! Congrats Ariel. I'll get it to you soon! 

I hope you are all having a wonderful Leap Day! It was my turn to host preschool and so we did some fun activities with frogs and learned a little bit about Leap Day. It was fun!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thoughtful Tuesday

I asked my dear friend Katie of Clarendon Lane fame to guest post about a service opportunity she has experienced. She was so sweet to do it and I hope to continue this great guest posting series on a regular basis.

Let me first tell you a little more about Katie. We grew up in the same small town in Eastern Oregon. She has always been beautiful, talented and driven. She also does very hard things. Her husband was deployed for a long time and she was a tough cookie taking care of her kids. I admire her determination and strength. 

Katie is also incredibly talented. She can take junk and turn it into something amazing and beautiful. You should definitely follow her blog. Oh and she's moving soon and I can't wait to see her new digs. I'm sure she'll make it beautiful!

Here's Katie's experience in her own words:

My act of service was a spontaneous decision, really. I saw a need and I simply filled it. I think there are so many opportunies to fill a need if we just look- and then act.
In my case, I was at the Post Office with my son and daughter. Afton was in the stroller and perfectly content with a bottle, while her brother pushed her and I held my 8 packages that had to be shipped out. While I was paying, I couldn't help but notice this struggling mother who held an 18 month in her arms and a 3 year old at her feet. At first, they seemed fine, but soon the baby grew impatient while waiting for his mother to package a gift for someone. While he began crying, the three year old kept doing what 3 year olds do...not holding still, whining, etc. I could see a look on the mother's tired face that looked just like mine usually does.
On this particular day, my other son was at pre-school, so that made one less kid to handle, but also somehow Afton was sitting so still and quiet in the stroller. This is NOT how it usually is. Most days, I haul three kids in there, one screaming to get out of the stroller, two boys fighting over who gets to open the drop box or running at full speed-cutting off every elderly person they pass while doing it- don't forget whining about why we're there, how long we have to stay, etc.
It seemed like forever til the Postman was done calculating my totals and we were done. I could see (along with everyone else) that the mother was still struggling to quiet her children. Instead of leaving, and saying "whew, I'm glad that's not me today", I decided to do what I wish more people would do for me. I decided to help her.
I didn't want her to feel that I was judging her, or making her feel bad, but just sincerely helping in a mother to mother "I understand" sort of way. She accepted, I smiled, and I took her 18 month old in my arms and her three year old followed a few feet away, where Vince, Afton and I entertained them for a few minutes while their mom finished her errand. I thought she might say no, and think I was a stranger or weird for asking. But she didn't.
It wasn't hard, it wasn't weird. Why are we so scared to talk to strangers or even help others? Especially mothers. We need each other! We can relate in a world where it seems like everyone else has forgotten how hard it is to raise children.
When she was finished, she simply said thank you. It wasn't a big deal, just a small thing I could do to help another mom out. But I felt like Vince and I got the better reward. It felt good inside. And it felt good to offer a hand when at least 12 others in the same room didn't.
My kids are 5, 3 and 18 months, and they are a handful! Especially all together. But life requires errands, and grocery trips, and unexpected stops along the way...whether our baby has had a nap or not. I hope to be more observant like I was today- and LOOK for opportunies to help others. I know that they'll be grateful, and/or at the very least, we will be blessed and grow because of it.
 This week for Thoughtful Tuesday I would like to encourage you to keep your eyes open to those spontaneous opportunities that you can help someone. These aren't big things, just small things that you can do to help someone when you see they need help. I'm excited for this one. I really want to work hard to do something every day. 
Thanks for the inspiration Katie! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Outfit

*Updated to include sources*

As the spending fast comes to a close I've started assessing my list of things to buy in March. One of those is a whole new outfit. My great friend LuAnn told me her plan of buying a whole new outfit every quarter. That's four new outfits a year but that's it. I love this idea because I tend to wear the same favorite pieces over and over again anyway. I also have a hard time spending lots of money for my clothes, but if I know this is the only shirt I'm buying this quarter, it can be higher quality and therefore more expensive. 

Recently Ain't No Mom Jeans posted a blog post about quality vs quantity that really stuck with me. I really prefer nicer clothes that I love vs. the same old t-shirt. I am committing myself to this plan for the year. I'm excited to see how it goes. 

Obviously being pregnant throws a little wrench into the plan. I think I am going to spend more on shoes, bags, scarves and jewelry because those are the things I can use forever. I'm still trying to figure out what outfit to buy. It's a lot harder than it seems. 

Here are a few of the pieces I like. 


So I need your help. I know I have two outfits shown and can only get one.

What outfit would you choose? If you could spend any amount of money for a new outfit (not that I can) what would you buy?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Baby Tunic Giveaway

 Remember this dress? Well, I'm giving it away to one very lucky person! I love the details of this dress. The vintage ribbon around the neck, the pom poms around the bottom edge, the cute little buttons. I just love this outfit.
 So, do you want it? It is size 6 to 12 months and even if you don't have a baby that will fit into it, you could give it as a gift.
So, all you have to do is leave a comment, that's it. If you are doing the Spending Fast and want a second entry, blog about your progress with the Spending Fast and leave another comment on this post. The deadline to enter is Wednesday February 29 (Leap Day!) at midnight and the winner will be announced Thursday March 1.
Good Luck!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Owl be Yours and Whoooooo Loves You Valentine's Day Craft

My MIL (mother in law) generously sends/brings a Kohl's gift card for every occasion and visit. These towels immediately grabbed my attention last time we browsed the store for any finds:
And then PBK (Pottery Barn Kids) sent their catalog just in time to inspire:
A quick trip to a local fabric store that offers more than 5 primary colors of felt in stock, produced this:
Enlarging the towel 200% on a copier produced this pattern:
And then a few hours of...
cutting (pinking shears):

pasting (Elmer's glue):
cutting...again, this time with rotary blade (envelop "flap"):
sewing (used ribbon and buttons on hand for straps, sewing machine produced button holes):
and needlework (crochet thread Perle 5 Col. B6200):
produced these:
The best part is that I was able to incorporate mustard yellow into our valentine's decor!
Happy Valentine's Day.
May love happen every day of 2012!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The S.I.P. Project

I have the coolest thing to share with you! A few weeks ago I stumbled upon this amazing website called the S.I.P. Project. Or Service Is Painless Project. DeAnn is a photographer who was trying to figure out ways to serve others and at the same time was ready to move her photography business from hobby to profession. She decided she would start a project where she takes photos for you, you give service to the community and she gets you the pictures. Easy peasy. Check out past projects and photoshoots.

I love that she found a way to give service while using her talents. I also love that she encourages others to give service. If you live in New Mexico you should totally contact her. I don't know if she travels, but it may be worth traveling to her. DeAnn also lists service ideas that anyone can do, just in case you don't live by her but still want ideas. 

I've been thinking about the S.I.P. Project and really want to do something similar and share my talents in return for service. I'm struggling to iron out the details so I thought I would present a few ideas and see what people thought. 

I have toyed with the idea of making dresses in exchange for service. You know, I make you a dress, you serve someone else. I love that this could work no matter where you live but am nervous about the details. Who picks the pattern and fabric and what about your measurements? If you live across the country I can't have you try it on half way through. I realize skirts would be easier and require less time but seem slightly less special. Or I could do something easier like scarves and aprons which are one size fits all, but again seem less special. 

What would you want? Would you be willing to participate?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Apron Winner!!!

Thanks to all of you who entered the apron giveaway! I wish I could make one for everyone! The winner this time is: 

#7: Melissa of The Garrett Family. I will be emailing you shortly to get your address! Happy cooking!

And the rest of you who didn't win, don't worry. I have another giveaway coming up next week!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tutorial: I was tired of plain lamp shades...

so I re-claimed and re-covered them.

I got the idea from One Yard Wonders, a really impressive collection of creativity, brilliance, and skills. Apparently, the previous resident at our dacha (Russian for small farm-home outside city limits) contributed an apron with a built-in hot pads tutorial/patten to the book. It came to our doorstep a few months ago addressed to her, piqued my interest, and ultimately ended up in my amazon cart.

The project was extremely straight-forward and produced a packed decor punch. I again experienced the euphoric realization that small amounts of fabric, color, or texture can redefine an environment.

This brought me to happy.

So if you have a lamp shade that is blah, blah, blah--focus on it, re-claim it and re-cover it! (And please send us a before and after picture!)

  1. plain lamp shade (removed from lamp)
  2. glue stick
  3. white glue (like Elmer's)
  4. old nasty towel you don't mind smearing with said glue
  5. pinking shears (Ikea sells them for around $7)
  6. fabric (enough to cover the shade)
  7. paper to make a pattern* (brown paper bag, newspaper, butcher paper, scrap fabric, wax or parchment paper, etc.)
  8. Q-tip applicator**
*optional: if you are the kind of human that methodically plans out projects, measures, re-measures, then cuts, then make a pattern; otherwise, my method is eye-ball, get pumped up, and cut
**optional: I prefer my fingers, but be warned, they will get quite messy (thus the need for a nasty old towel)--but nothing that a little water and soap cannot correct
  1. Select the lamp you want to re-discover!
  2. Select the fabric with which you'll work
  3. If the lamp shade is covered with fabric that does not lie flat, remove it
  4. Identify the shape of the lamp shade
  5. Use that middle school geometry to create a pattern, OR lay lamp shade on paper/fabric, and trace the shade, while you roll it 360 degrees and then add another 1/2 inch so the ends will overlap
  6. Add a 1/4 inch allowance to both sides of the traced shape (this will wrap around the shade and end up on the inside when you attach the fabric)
  7. Cut out the final shape
  8. Confirm that the shape covers the lamp shade with a small overlap, and there is enough allowance to wrap around the edges
  9. Lay your pattern on your fabric and cut along lines with pinking shears
  10. Grab your glue stick and start applying glue on the existing shade
  11. Lay fabric on the fresh glue, and, starting from the center and working out to both edges, apply pressure with your fingers to fuse the fabric and the glue. Do not worry about wrapping around the edges just yet, this is the last step
  12. Work your way around attaching fabric to glue smeared lamp shade until you reach where you began
  13. To finish or create a seam on the shade, fold the fabric over the smallest amount you can manage to create a straight line from edge to edge. Use white glue and your finger (or a Q-tip) to fuse the folded fabric together. Let it dry a minute or so
  14. Then use the glue stick again to fuse the remaining fabric to the uncovered lamp shade
  15. Use the white glue again, with Q-tip or finger, to fuse the folded end to the fabric-covered lamp shade to create a finished seam
  16. Once you are happy with the look (fabric lying flat against lamp shade with a pretty uniform leftover strip of fabric on each edge), use the white glue and a different finger (or new Q-tip) to wrap the leftover fabric over the edge and secure it to the inside of the lamp shade
Additional helpful hints/ideas:
  1. I used clothes pins to hold my seams together on the edges while they dried, but be careful, the glue will seep through the fabric and may secure the clothes pins to the project. To avoid this, I removed the clothes pins periodically (like every 30 seconds until the glue had dried enough to remove completely--about 2-3 minutes).
  2. I used the same fabric to create a dimensional change on one of the shades. I wanted a disruptive but not competing detail. I think that was accomplished.
  3. Using ribbon or contrasting fabric on the inside of the shade to finish the look could be amazing.
  4. Using ribbon or contrasting fabric on the outside of the shade could also be amazing.
  5. Beading, applique, or embroidering on the fabric prior to gluing could take the final look to another level.

Finished on my kitchen table. Disruptive but not competing detail on the left.

The disruptive one (if I get sick of it, I can turn the shade because I hid the seam beneath the detail panel)

and the conforming one

But the project is not complete. I need to (spray) paint the lamp frames white. Don't worry the wall behind them will be a rich charcoal gray soon enough...and I promise they will pop :) But why wait to share a great success until it is complete?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day! 
These are the Valentines Calder gave to his friends this year. I know this style is really popular these days but I really love the way it turned out. I actually took this picture when we were taking pictures of Calder's new coat and it just so happened that he posed like that. When I ordered prints for Jason's office I chose this one and realized how perfect it would be for this valentine.

And how was your letter writing last week for Thoughtful Tuesday? It's amazing how easy it is to think of people to thank. I had so much fun writing letters this week!

The first letter I wrote was to Calder's old nursery leader. She was really influential on his adjustment to nursery and she is now the primary president. So, she's helping him with that transition too. She's awesome and fabulous and I absolutely love her. 

The second letter was to a dear friend of mine. I only lived in the same city as her for about 10 months but I adore her and feel we made a lifelong friendship. She's a fabulous example to me and I strive to be more like her. 

The third letter I wrote was to a lady I used to babysit for. She is a family friend and she was a great example of motherhood for me. She put her very promising career on hold to raise her kids and she was the most attentive, caring and loving mother. 

The fourth was a little silly. I wrote to MY sunbeams teacher. I remember some of her lessons and what she gave us for Christmas the year I was in her class. Now that I have a sunbeam I know how important it is to the kids that age and I'm thankful she was so prepared and awesome.

The fifth was to my 5th grade teacher. She was my favorite teacher ever and I still think of her. I later found out she was in a terrible marriage and her life was rather crappy at the time and I feel so blessed that she could make me feel so special and loved when she didn't feel that herself. She is a very strong woman and I know she touched many lives. Every time I think of her I am reminded of the thought that everyone is going through something, so you should be nice.

Who did you write to?

This next week the challenge is to give something. You can give blood, or canned food to a shelter or toys to the thrift store or snacks to homeless people. Make a decision to give and find a way to do it. Even though I'm not buying anything this month, I can still give of what I have.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Apron Giveaway

I hope your first 10 days of the Spending Fast went well! Just think, we're 1/3 of the way there! And as a little reward I've got a giveaway today! I whipped up this adorable apron and will be sending it to one lucky winner!
 It is reversible and has an adorable little pocket on one side. The rick rack is sewn on by hand. I don't know what it is but I am a sucker for hand sewn rick rack.
 The fabric is Michael Miller's Put A Lid on It in aqua and clementine orange. I think the orange is actually more red.
 All you have to do to enter is leave a comment with your email address. If you want a second entry (double your chances!) blog about how the Spending Fast is going for you so far and leave a second comment with a link to your post. That's it! I'll announce the winner next Friday.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Skies Are Gray Dress

 I adore this little gray dress. This one is actually for a friend but I love it still. The fabric is organic cotton and is oh so soft. I used rick rack around the edges as well as bias tape. It's a very basic and simple dress but I really love the details.

 This bow is so sweet. I just tied a bow in the rick rack, used non-fray stuff on the ends and sewed it on. Easy Peasy.
 And one sweet little button on the back.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


 As I've mentioned before we use our awesome farmhouse table as a headboard because we don't currently live in a space with a dining room. I love the table and don't want to get rid of it and I really like the way it looks as a headboard. I was just getting a little bored with it. So I asked my friend Katie of Clarenden Lane to create me a vinyl that says 'love'.
 Here's what it looks like after. Katie is the easiest girl to work with. She emailed me several different font options and was really fabulous with everything. You can check out her shop, Vinyl Vineyard here. She has a ton of different vinyl options listed in her shop but she is also amazing with custom orders. So if there is something you want, just ask!
 For our bedroom I've wanted to go with white and gray as the main colors with pops of yellow. My thinking is white and gray are timeless and I can change the pop color as time goes on. I'm still working on getting more yellow pieces in here. Slowly I'm getting there though. I really do love this statement piece and one awesome thing about vinyl is that it is removable at any time. If we move and want to use our table as a table (gasp!) I can take the vinyl off. Or I can reposition it so it is in the center or something fun like that!
 I got this done just in time for Valentines Day! You still have time to get one for your bed too. Or you could put it on the wall or the night stand or the bathroom mirror.
All you need is LOVE, LOVE is all you need.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thoughtful Tuesday

So this was really a grab bag week. Just do something nice of your choice. We did a couple things that made the week a little special. We took dinner to a friend who just had a baby. We gave a snack to a homeless person in passing and we prayed for a family we know is struggling. None of these are huge sacrifices, but it was nice to be on the constant lookout for service.

This next week, lets send thank you notes to 5 people who have impacted our lives. If five seems like a bit much, send one. Just get a note in the mail and it will really make someone's day! Plus it will make you feel good. I promise. Oh and no emailing. You have to actually put it in the mail. Mail in your mailbox is so much better than an email.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tips to Make The Month Better

Here are my tips to making the Spending Fast a better experience.
  • Want to do it. Don't do it because someone else is or because you think you should. Do it because you want to grow, learn and improve. Attitude is huge here.
  • Involve your kids (and husband). This is the first year Calder is really old enough to slightly understand. He knows that in February we aren't going to buy any new toys or games. We won't be going to the thrift store and we won't be visiting the dollar spot in Target. I think it will be really good for him. Frugality is Jason's life. I can't think of a better Valentine's Day present for him than to do a Spending Fast every February. He seriously loves it and gets behind it 100%. One of us packs his lunch and he makes sure to avoid planning things that would require eating out. 
  • Look at every day as an achievement. It really is. Every time you don't buy something, that's awesome and you should feel good about it.
  • Keep a list. This is a fabulous habit to form during Spending Fast. If you keep a running list of all the things you want to buy you will be amazed how many of them you cross off before the end of the month because you really don't need/want them anymore. I stopped using paper towels last February because I realized I just don't need them. I use regular washcloths for anything I previously would have used a paper towel for. You might surprise yourself with what you can live without and just buy because you always have. 
  • Plan fun free activities. If you're scheduled to go to the park or museum or a playdate, you're less likely to be sitting at home thinking of the things you want or wandering the Target aisles. (Can you spot my weakness?) Also, start a project with things you have. If you have yarn, make a hat, if you have baking supplies, make a cake. Do something creative with what you have.
  •  If your grocery store has little scanners you can carry around the store and scan as you go, use it. I love that it keeps a running total for you, so you know how close you are to your budgeted amount. You can add or remove things from you cart at any time, so if crackers put you over the limit, you can take them out. If your grocery store doesn't have these just carry a calculator. Type your budgeted amount into the calculator and subtract as you go. You'll have to leave a little fudge room for tax. 
  • Use this month to organize and go through your closets, drawers and cupboards. If you know what you have, you're more likely to use it or wear it. If you have clothes cluttering your closet that you never wear, get rid of them. You'll be more likely to wear what you like because you can see it. The same is true for drawers and cupboards. You may find the extra box of bandaids or can of beans if you organize your drawers and cupboards.
My friend Lauren posted some suggestions and answered some questions you may be having.  She is really fabulous, has adorable kids and is so fun!  I love that she does the Spending Fast with me every year. If you have a blog and are documenting your Spending Fast experience on it, I would love to read it! Just leave it in the comments below!

*And Happy Groundhog Day!*

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy February!

I am so excited by the number of people participating in the spending fast this year! It's going to be great and life changing, I promise!


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