Archive | April, 2011

Wall Hanging

30 Apr

I found the idea for this project in a book my mom gave me called, “Handmade Home.”  It is full of wonderful projects and inspiration for me.  Amanda Blake Soule, the author of the book also has a gorgeous blog:

The project is a wall hanging made out of felted wool and a few other fabrics.  It is perfect to put by a wee one’s bed to store: books, sippy cups and animal friends.  Here is a picture of the one I made:

I love this wall hanging because not only is it great for room storage but it is also nice to look at.  Some children’s storage can be pretty hideous, but this is both practical and beautiful.

I have been organizing my life a bit here and there lately.  I am not an organized person most of the time, but when things reach an ultimate low I get my act together and go a little nuts.  Perhaps I can blame it on Spring or something.  Heres to spring cleaning and being organized!  Happy weekend and happy  getting our acts together!

Blue Shirt

27 Apr

This was my first attempt to make a dress out of a shirt.  It was back in December before I had a plan to make all the kids clothes or become a blogger =)  My life was simpler back then but I wouldn’t change my resolution and the blog has allowed me such a wonderful outlet.

I made this shirt using the method of tracing one of her dresses so it was the right size.  One problem I had with this dress was-when I tried it on Aleah the neck was way too big.  I had to use some of the leftover sleeve to fill in the neck so it would fit.

My favorite part about this project is the empire waist from the shirt turned into a ruffley skirt for the dress.

Aleah wore this dress to see her Auntie Lina graduate college.

Skirt Purse

23 Apr

I saw this skirt at a thrift store and thought it would make a cute purse.

The purse that I have been using all winter is a red leather purse that has been wonderful, but I wanted to get a purse that would be more appropriate for the warm summer months that will eventually greet us.

It was extremely easy to make and I love using it.  The bag stays open really well so I can see everything that is inside.

Pin and sew the skirt to the bag

bunch up the skirt at the bottom and hand sew it to the bag

The total cost of the skirt and bag was $10.  While I was in line to buy my two items I saw that it was senior citizen day.  Senior citizens would receive 25% off their final purchase.  So, I asked the little old lady in front of me in line if she would buy my two items and I would pay her back with cash.  She looked at me for a minute and then agreed to my sneaky little plan.  So the cost of the purse was $8 (Should I post this on Thrifty Thursday?).

Most of my ideas come from things I read or observe elsewhere, but this was the first time a project idea was entirely my own.  I had never seen a skirt used in this way, but when I saw the skirt and bag in the store I knew they had to go together.  I guess you could say the inventiveness and originality of this project make it extra rewarding!

April Snowers bring May…

20 Apr

This is what I woke up to this morning:

Yes, snow.

The big question:

is it still beautiful on April 20th?

Same Same

16 Apr

Aleah loves it when people or things match.  She points at one thing says, “Same.” Then points at the other thing that is slightly similar and says, “Same!”  She loves doing this and so finds things to be similar even when they are in fact quite different.  For example, Sophia will be eating cheerios and Aleah will be eating fish sticks. She will point at both foods and say, “Same, same!”  Because they are both eating food.  A stretch, yeah I know.

So imagine her delight when I made her and her baby actual matching clothes out of the same fabric.  She was so excited and proud.

baby wanted a bike ride too

Bye, bye speedy girl

Aunt Caroline (aka Aunt Lina) and her friend Michael babysat Aleah today while I took Jared to get his wisdom teeth out.  Caroline took the pictures and Michael edited them.  How amazing is that?  Babysitting, photography, editing and much more.  Thank you guys so so much!!!

If You Plant It, It Will Grow

14 Apr

Spring has finally arrived here in Minnesota, and while there are still small patches of snow deep in the woods and along the shaded hillsides, it appears like our wonderfully white winter is over.  We had a marvelous winter, long and snowy and cold, but it’s time to move the skis and boots to the back of the storage closet and bring out the sandals, frisbees, and lawnchairs that haven’t seen the sun since October.

And of course, the arrival of spring inaugurates the gardening season, a season that begins now and if done well, can send us deep into next winter with freezers and jars full of homegrown goodies.  I help manage the community garden for seminary residents, thus early spring has become a time where Caitlyn and I not only prepare our own garden, but help our fellow seminary gardeners prepare and initiate their gardens.

Since seminary residents change from year to year (some move out, graduate, etc.) one of our efforts in the spring is to raise enthusiasm for the garden and encourage new gardeners to use the unclaimed plots.  Recently, (at our daughter’s birthday shindig in fact) we started asking people if they were interested in gardening this year, and to our surprise several people were like, “Heck yah, let’s grow some stuff!”  Before long, people were leaving the party to go get seed-starter kits (don’t worry, our daughter didn’t hold it against them).

Well, I guess I should back up here.  Not everyone signed on without any reservations.  In fact, many people responded with something like, “Really?  I’ve never gardened before, what do you do?”

And when we told them that the first step was simply to start seeds indoors by getting some seeds and soil from the store, then put them in cups or trays, they were like, “Hmmm…and that works?”

Now, I’m not saying this to make fun of anyone.  In fact, my wife and I gardened on our own for the first time two years ago, and in that week or two between the planting and the emergence of the seedlings we walked around wondering, “Are we crazy, there’s no way a couple novices like us can actually grow anything.”  But sure enough, after several days the garden was full of miraculous little sprouts, and they just kept growing and growing and growing.  It was fantastic!

So I’ve spent a lot of time the last few years talking to people about gardening, and nearly every time I talk to someone who wants to try it for the first time the conversation goes something like, “I’d love to garden but I’ve just never done it.”

“Well, it’s really not that hard, you just put seeds in soil, add water, and things begin to grow.”

“And that really works?”


Of course, I then talk a little about transplanting seedlings, weeding, and harvesting, but the biggest thing is convincing people that they don’t have to hold an advanced degree in agriculture in order to grow a tomato.

Without getting too philosophical here, I think this common reaction points to a larger trend in our society.  For the most part, we live in a culture that out-sources everything, so whenever we need something done we simply dial up the available professional or head to the store for whatever product might fix the problem.  And this is fine; it means that if you’re good at something you can probably make a living doing it.  But the problem comes when we assume that technology and expertise must mediate every process in our lives.  So something as natural and simple as growing a carrot becomes intimidating and foreign because we don’t think we’ve got what it takes.

So I say all this to remind us that seeds, soil, sun, and water have been doing their thing for a long time.  If you’re thinking about gardening but you’re worried that your thumbs are just so…well…not green, go ahead and give it a shot.  Find out what sorts of things generally grow well in your area, and then drop those seeds in the dirt and see what happens.

And for a little added inspiration, here are some photos of our seedlings this year.  We planted these about two weeks ago and they are already rockin’!  One tray is mostly leafy greens that we can harvest in June (while we still live here), and the other tray is full of flowers to decorate the garden and window boxes.  We hope to transplant in about a month!

Spring Dress

10 Apr

I made my first grown up clothes!

So far I have stuck with clothes for Aleah and Sophia because they will look cute in anything.  But I decided to branch out and try something for my sister.

I took what was left from a sweater (after making Aleah two skirts out of the rest of it) and attached a skirt (never really fit around my waist but would fit if it was higher up above the waist) and then had a dress.  It took me less than an hour to make and I my sister loves it.

Auntie Lina is so gorgeous!

Happy 23rd Birthday Caroline!

~Love you~

Thrifty Thursday

7 Apr

Get a Caribou Coffee for only $1 every time the Twins win!  This deal will continue for the whole Twins baseball season.

Yay, for cheap yet fancy coffee!

This website helps me out when I don’t feel like organizing all my coupons, and has information on cheap or free events around the Twin Cities.

It is a wonderful resource for a variety of reasons.  This website has information on deals for groceries, recreation, eating out, freebies and even a coupon database.  It is a wonderful tool for those interested in making their dollar go a long way.

One great deal coming up: Get into the Minneapolis Institute of Art for free this Sunday, April 10 from 11-5pm

Check it out and you will save lots of money!

Child Modeling?

6 Apr

Taking pictures of my children is darn near impossible.  You will see through this series of pictures, how many  I actually have to take to get even one good picture.

The next picture she is almost out of the shot because she is so speedy-

And she is off again

Birthday Recap

2 Apr

Holy Moly.

Two big parties, lots of food, tons of cake, an outfit, a banner and I am beat.

Is it worth it?  I mean, there is no way in the world Sophia will remember her first birthday, so what is the point?

I guess I couldn’t help myself.  She only turns one once and it was an excuse to spoil her (she’s the second born, so she has always had to “share time”) and we were able to have fun with the people in our lives we will desperately miss once we move away.

a cupcake shaped cake made out of cupcakes

One of the greatest people I have ever met did much of the work.  My next door neighbor (across the hallway actually) took the party on Sunday very seriously.  She decorated the hallway with pink and purple streamers, pink and purple balloons and signs that said things like “Happy Birthday Princess Sophia” and You Made One Today” (apparently something they say in the south).  She made a last minute run to the dollar store to pick up things like paper plates and cups and about a zillion helium balloons that are still lingering in most peoples houses and the hallway.  Let alone she entertained my children with Barney and snacks and snuggle sessions while I got my act together.

She is amazing and I could not have done it without her.


I made this Happy Birthday banner because I don’t want to have to go out to the dollar store every year and get a paper one.  And mostly I want the kids to get attached to it and ask, “Mom, were is the banner for my Birthday?”  I love sentimental things that reappear year after year.  When I was growing up it was a red “You are special” plate that came out for every Birthday.  We never let my mom forget it.

laid out all the fabric in the order that they would be for the words happy birthday

I traced 14 triangles on the yellow felt and then cut them out

used wonder under to attach the letter to the yellow felt, I figured out that I needed draw the letters backwards

ironed on the letters

layed them all out, aren't they pretty?

Later I put these yellow triangles on a bigger blue triangle to accent the letters. The #1 in the middle of the banner comes off so I can change it for each different Birthday age.

I took a onsie that Soph was almost too big for and sewed some fabric on it in the shape of one candle.  At first I was trying to make a cute #1 but the candle looked way better.

Then I made a tie tutu.  Which was one of the easiest things I have ever made.  The only sewing it involved was the waist band.  The rest of the skirt was cutting out about a foot long and 4 inches wide of tulle and then tying it off at the middle.  It was so easy.  Almost too easy and boring.  But I wanted to see how it would turn out so kept on tying the tulle.

I used a ton of tulle.  A few weeks ago I found this prom dress at a thrift store for only $5 and couldn’t pass it up.  You can’t buy that much fabric for $5, so I got the dress and still have some fabric to work with.

Yay, for parties and friends and sewing!

Oh yeah, and yay for a whole cake to yourself!