1.31.2013

the.book.chat link-up


Happy Thursday everybody!

Today is another book chat link up with Sweet Green Tangerine and the prompt is: What are your favorite short stories/novellas?  Have you ever written a short story?

I'm not an actively huge fan of short stories (in that I don't seek them out), but I do enjoy them as a genre. Humor-wise, I really enjoy David Sedaris as a short story writer. I think he is witty and brusque in an entertaining way, however, I will put a BIG DISCLAIMER here that some of his stuff goes too far in the inappropriate/adult-content areas for my taste. I have definitely started a story and skipped over bits. I do enjoy his writing so it's a catch-22 on that one. 

Secondly, for classically awesome short stories, I go to Holmes. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes short stories are fantastic and intriguing in a way that few people can accomplish today. There is a reason they're a classic and why people are still making them in to TV shows and movies…Doyle was brilliant and his short stories are so cool. (Sidenote—if you're looking for an incredibly adaption of Holmes to add to your Netflix list, I would strongly suggest the BBC's Sherlock. It is a modern adaption but they stick to some of the old story lines and it is very well acted. You'll love it.)

Regarding my own foray into short stories…yes, I have written several. Most were for class assignments either in high school or college (BA in English Lit…kind of inevitable), but I have tried a few just for fun. I don't think I ever set out to write a short story so much as try to write something really good and run out of plot ideas around the page count of a short story—which far demonstrates my lack of creative writing skill more so than my feelings for the genre. Haha

So what short stories have you really enjoyed? And come join the link-up today!

1.29.2013

organized—schmorganized


dear fellow bloggers,

Help! I love your cute pictures and beautiful photography, your ambitious recipes and magical ability to make food look pretty in pictures. And now that I've buttered you up, maybe you'll give me some much-needed advice.

I'm a pretty organized person. I know where everything is and I try to keep all my crazy clutter in some sort of regimented chaos. However…my craft corner is sadly lacking. I have a small desk and side table that sit in essentially a 6"x4" corner. There isn't anywhere else to move it in my apartment and as much as I'd love to install some built-in shelves, the wall is concrete and I'm only renting for another 6 months or so. THUS – I need a better system for exactly the setup I have now. (Please don't judge me for all the mess and my plastic fabric tub!):

I've seen all your posts about incredible craft room/desk makeovers so I'm asking for help. My budget is DIY and I'm at a loss for a better way to use/decorate this small space.
Please help!

Love,
sarah

1.28.2013

fighting, fear, and fathers


You might remember me talking about the bible study my sister and I are doing together right now. It's going great and I really love being able to share it with her (even though we're exactly 2,887 miles apart…ugh!). This past week, the focus was learning to fear the Lord. I've heard this phrase about a million times, but never really thought about it. I think I always equated fear of the Lord with the traditional idea of fear…of being afraid of something. But what my now-adult(ish) brain is finally getting, is that fear of the Lord is very different than the other fears I've known.

The truth is…I'm a 'fraidy cat. In a big way. Horror movies or books…nope. Scary Halloween costumes…nope. Haunted houses/mazes/etc…definitely not. However, I've come to understand that my serious aversion to manufactured/Hollywood fear is rooted in the fact that I have experienced true fear—the deep-in-your-heart fear that you never ever forget. 

To be brief, let me say that my dad was truly an amazing guy. And being a professional weightlifter, he was also a very big guy. And it was no secret, that he was also a very angry guy. Our family knows that his rage was the result of a lot of his own emotional issues and alcohol abuse, but to a scared little kid, well, I didn't really it back then. This isn't some pity-seeking diatribe about my childhood, but my point is that this is where my understanding of fear came from. And after we lost my dad, I then felt the true and ever-present fear of worrying about losing my mom. There is a lot more to the story, but the point is that it took me a long while to reconcile the idea of God as a father, because even though my dad was amazing in a lot of ways, he was also the person who first taught me what real fear was.

So now, as I'm doing this study and thinking about the importance of learning to fear the Lord, I feel like I'm fighting to separate the world's ideas of fear (both real and manufactured), verses fearing the Lord, which is about reverence and and awe recognizing His power. To me, the two ideas of fear couldn't be further from each other.

It's strange that after all these years of trying to avoid fear or avoid feeling the deep-seeded fears I've experienced in the past, that now I am actively seeking out fear, though a new kind of fear. But here's the point of all of this…part of last night's study was to reflect on the things that are given to us through fearing the Lord, what benefits we reap. This was astounding to me! because there is no benefit or blessing from fear on earth. You don't get anything for being afraid, other than a racing heart and paranoia. But fear with benefits…now we're talkin! So here are a few that really stood out to me and made me think about the beauty in reconciling the two kinds of fear:

  • Psalm 128: 1 "How happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways." —happiness? I'm a fan of that!
  • Psalm 103: 11,13 "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him." "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him —GREAT love and compassion? Not turning that down!
  • Isaiah 33: 6 "There will be times of security for you—a storehouse of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.The fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.." —security that comes out of fear? Now there is something I certainly never felt from earthly fear.


I know this is probably my longest post to-date, but fear has been a big part of my life and it is so liberating to hand it over to God and to start to learn how to fear Him in a new way that brings life and blessings instead of the heartbreak and anxiety from the past. I mean, God redeems even the very nature of fear and makes it new, just by being. So cool!

1.25.2013

favorite blog friend friday: Sam I Am


Okay, so she may not actually tout the Seuss connection I make of her blog title, but Sam over at Today I Am is definitely one of my must-read-several-times-a-week bloggers. She is encouraging and fun and I totally wish we could totally hang out in real life!

Sam is in school studying to be a teacher and her love for kids and life is so apparent in her writing. She also loves Jesus and even more than loving kids/teaching, Today I Am reflects her love for God and her joy in faith! I feel super encouraged when I get to read about her thoughts on faith or her devotionals or just plain joy at God's grace and redemption. Plus, her About Me says, "I'm convinced books are one of my love languages." How could she not be awesome, right?!

Today I Am is full of laid-back fun and simple moments of enjoying all the best things in life (great books, friends, Gilmore Girls & Downtown Abby, and coffee). Down-to-earth and just plain sweet, I love seeing what Sam is up to each week. So make sure you have a chance to be her friend too and go check out Today I Am now!

1.24.2013

the.book.chat: current reads


It's another Thursday link-up with Sweet Green Tangerine for the weekly book chat (my fav link-up right now, by far…yay books!). 

This week's question is pretty straightforward: What are you currently reading?

WELL—perfect timing SGT because I just got some new books in from an Amazon splurge this week and I'm super excited to start them up! (happy new book dance goes HERE)

The first is a book I've had on my Amazon wish list for long while now and finally gave in and bought it for myself. It's RUMO by Walter Moers. If you've never read Moers (and most people haven't), he is awesome! Seriously–I can't say enough good things! I first discovered him by reading his other fantastically amazing book The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear. I mean, if that isn't a title to hook you, I don't know what is! Moers is a German writer who essentially writes kids books for adults, or adult books for your inner child…whatever you prefer. I've read several and about to take a "sick" day just so I can start RUMO (kidding…ish). To me, his books are the perfect combination of an adult-length read with tons of imagination and silliness, but also some illustrations, a glaring love of books, and good ole' fashioned outlandishness. Unlike any other author I've found so far, Moers' books are the perfect escape and ideal for reading in a blanket fort or tree house…but as an adult. If you want to know more about him…I'd be happy to chat—I'm like a screaming girl fan for this guy (okay, maybe not that crazy).

Second is The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt book. In my attempt to teach myself quilting, I found this book and about a million other quilters online that have taken part in their own Farmer's Wife Quilts. The book features letters from 1920s farm wives and the 111 quilt blocks that they inspired. Ideally, you read through all the letters, build the blocks, and put them all together in one beautiful quilt of your own making that harkens back to almost 100 years of quilting tradition. No small feat. I am anticipating that to read through it all and to actually build the blocks…well, it will probably be a project for my whole 2013. We'll see! But I think the idea is amazing and I'm really excited to get started reading about these women's lives and working a little bit at a time to be a part of the tradition it reflects.


Naturally, I also have a huge stack of other stuff I'm sort of working on reading/planning on reading soon. Book people…we have no sense of reading portion-control or self-restraint. *sigh* It's awesome.

Now hop over and join SGT & others for the. book. chat.!

1.23.2013

tuesdayish tunes

Not a Tuesday, but this song is pretty great and seems worth sharing today.



Happy Wednesday!

1.22.2013

snow, sunshine, and silliness


Well, I've returned from a glorious 4-day weekend due to the totally rockin snowfall last Thursday. I didn't believe it, but for once, NC came through! It still wasn't quite cold enough for it to stick and really knock everything out of whack, however, I definitely could not get my car out of my apartment's unplowed parking lot Friday morning…so yay for a grown-up snow day!

I spent most of the weekend just lying around being lazy and silly with Strider (we're experts at silliness), watching movies, baking, and sewing. 

Due to an accidental early morning wakeup on Saturday (like 6:30!), I had enough time to make homemade bread for the first time in forever. I intended to take pictures and post a recipe, but I'll just leave you dreaming of the smell of warm homemade bread in the wee hours of a very cold morning. I also canned some homemade cinnamon honey butter to be given away with the bread. So fun to share homemade treats!

I also started tackling one of my newest and greatest fears…paper pieced hexagons. More on these later, but talk about time consuming and tedious work…if only they weren't so cute and fun to look at!

However…all that fun and domesticity seems to have made coming back to work even harder today. Feeling a bit of a poopy pants. Oh well…at least it isn't Monday!


1.17.2013

favorite blog friend friday: this beautiful life


This week's Favorite Blog Friend Friday is being posted on Thursday because (cross your fingers and toes here, people), the South is expected to get some mad snow tonight!!! I'm hoping for The Great Snow-In of 2013!

So…due to that and my lack of home internet, I wanted to make sure you didn't miss out on meeting Brittany from This Beautiful Life! She is so sweet and creative and I just love reading her blog.

This Beautiful Life has it all – recipes, crafts, encouraging words, and some great posts on marriage and loving your spouse. Also, you may remember when I posted about my cute-winter-branches-in-lieu-of-a-Christmas-tree……totally Brittany's idea. (She also runs some killer giveaways on occasion if that's what you're in to!) Her recent post with a recipe for Key Lime Cheesecake is definitely getting saved. Yum!
So drop by now and spend some time with Brittany. (You'll notice that she has bunting on her blog header—all the coolest kids do *wink!*) Seriously though, go check her out now…you'll be glad! I particularly appreciated her short post today about comparisons - a great reminder to focus on our blessings.


the.book.chat link-up

I'm linking up again this week with the lovely ladies of Sweet Green Tangerine and Dear Brighton for the.book.chat. And this week's question is: What are some of your bookish pet peeves? 

They have some great answers (which may be mirrored here too because, I mean, bookish people are all the same in certain ways). Mine are definitely as follows:
  1. Twilight. Just Twilight. (If you don't know my view on this series, it can be summed up here.)
  2. Typos in books. I get that it is going to happen, but it drives me nuts.
  3. Improper library card user—"Lost by borrower"…lost?!…lost?!?!?!…..gaaaahhh!!!!!
  4. The overused "said". This should be taken care of during editing, but we've all been forced to suffer a passage of he said, she said, he said, she said, his cousin said, their grandmother's bridge partner said. Think of a different word or just write better dialogue already.
  5. Dog-eared pages. What are we, the army of Ghengis Khan? Use a bookmark people. It doesn’t have to be fancy, a playing card, sticky note, napkin, business card of someone you know you're not going to call, handcrafted origami…whatever…just don't dog-ear. (For the record, I prefer bits of ribbon and I always try to choose ribbon that suits the personality of the book. Weird, but that's my thing.)
  6. Movie posters or references to "now a major motion picture" on book covers.
  7. Abridged versions of classics.
  8. Austen-posers. The movies are not the same, ladies.
Probably the worst one of all isn't actually in a book. For me, it's that scene in Disney's Beauty & The Beast when Gaston casually throws her book into a mud puddle. You mongrel! Who does that! I'm glad you fall off a parapet.
So anyways, you should hop over today, link up, and share what bugs you too!

1.16.2013

so many blogs, so little internet!


I don't know if you've heard yet, but blogs are where it is proverbially at these days! (Clearly, I'm very "street".

Aaaannd moving on…
So basically, blogs are awesome and a really great way to connect with incredible people, find ideas, and feel inspired and encouraged—at least, I do. And if you're like me and keep finding more and more amazing blogs, you might be feeling overwhelmed with how to keep up with them all. Plus, given that I have very limited access to the internets (no computer – sad face), I want to be able to see what's new as quickly as possible. Enter: Bloglovin!
This awesome site lets you follow all your favorite blogs and gives you a news-feed style info roll of all their latest updates…all in one place! It's like the mac-daddy of Pinterest organization ideas…except…not on Pinterest. Anyways, the point is that Bloglovin is great and helps me keep up with all the incredible people I love reading about. So you should check it out, cause you might like it too. Yeah.

PLUS – a song for the birds is totally on there, so if you setup an account, please make sure to follow me
OR you can also click on the green heart button to the right!

Hope to see you there!


1.15.2013

legacies aren't just for monarchies


My sister Carly is officially back and settled on the West Coast. And even though we got 10 whole days with her over Christmas, it definitely wasn't long enough and we miss her lots already. However, we are trying something new and really cool together—a Bible study via the web. Basically, we're just going to do the book study each night and then send each other our thoughts and answers to some of the discussion questions provided. Today was Day 1 and it is already awesome to be able to share this together!

As we are both striving to grow as women of faith and trying to figure out our role as godly women (and future wives and mothers), we decided to do The Virtuous Woman study by Vicki Courtney. The subtitle is "Shattering the Superwoman Myth" and it deals with coming to grips with the Proverbs 31 woman (a biggie for me to wrap my head around).

Day 1 looks at legacies. Now, I don't know if you're like me, but when I think of the world "legacy", I imagine pompous aristocrats wearing velvet, ordering executions, and discussing heirs. But the truth is that we all have a legacy

I've spent time thinking about what kind of woman, wife, and mother I want to be in the future, but I've never really thought about my legacy beyond that. Or how just one woman's life or way of raising a child can result in values, and traditions for future generations beyond her children or grandchildren. It made me wonder how much of my great-great-great-great grandmother's example and life could be traced back through how I was raised. Even though I know nothing about her, I wonder how much the course of our family was built on her. Like families with first generation college graduates—they are literally changing everything for so more than just their direct children.

Courtney brings up the question of whether you feel people today are more legacy-focused or here-and-now focused? For me, the answer is a no-brainer! Everyone and everything seems to be all about the present. Holiday layaways and credit cards are the most notorious examples I can think of. But in this hectic world of "ME, ME, ME!", it seems like there is more to be said for tradition and legacy-thinking that we are giving due.

Think about it and see if you can find two (only two) things that you would want not just to be remembered for, but that would exemplify your legacy through generations you will never know and who might never know you. 
How would you want to alter the course for all those coming after you?


I won't be posting about the study every day, but maybe sharing some exceptionally thought-provoking bits here and there. I'd love to know what you think!

1.14.2013

a quilt for Reece


I spent an awesome weekend with my cousins and their precious baby girl. And since this quilt has been happily installed in her nursery, I can now share! I took loads more pictures, but most of them didn't turn out very well. (Plus, I had some major uh-oh's along the way!) But anyways…here is my first ever baby quilt, made with Hello Sunshine.

I had the (at the time) mom-to-be pick out a fabric collection she liked, but didn't tell her what it was for. Once decided, I ordered a charm pack and yardage for the backing and bias tape. This was my first order with the Fat Quarter Shop and I have to say, I was sincerely impressed. The fabric was fantastic quality, everything was cut and packaged perfectly, and shipping…I mean, I felt like I clicked "finalize order", blinked, and it was on my doorstep. No compensation or anything, but I think they're great!

First, I cut all the charm pack pieces (5") down to 3.5" so I could use the extra strips to make a border. I didn't use a pattern or anything, but I'll probably try to tackle that on my next project. For this, I knew I wanted pinwheels and to keep the rest simple. So I pulled out a couple of the pieces that I didn't love, paired the rest up, and made a bunch of pinwheel blocks. I planned on showing a tutorial for that but it didn't work out (keep an eye out for one soon maybe). Then I took all the pinwheels and arranged them on the floor:
Then I added white sashing out of the same white in the pinwheels (yardage from Hobby Lobby). I wanted to add something special so instead of continuing the pinwheels over the whole top, I left a two-block space for an applique block. I won't tell you how I attached it, because naturally I didn't decide to do this till the end and it was a mess to add. To made the applique, I used leftovers from the charm pack. For the petals, I sewed strip pieces of complimentary fabric and cut out the petals at odd angles. I used steam transfer paper to adhere them to the white. I also sewed long strips of the charm pack leftovers to use as a strip piece border and attached it to the sashing.
Add another white border bit, add lots of fluffy batting and a backing fabric, safety pin it all together, and spend a few hours hand quilting the whole thing together. (It was tricky since I didn't use a frame and I did two layers of batting to make it super soft.) Then I trimmed it all up, made the bias tape, and sewed that on to finish things off. This was my first time making bias tape and I have definitely got to find an easier way to bind – not sure why but this is 100% the hardest part for me. Ugh!
Final quilt - Yay!! It's finished!
But it's done and you're happy and you know they will love it. At the last minute, I also decided to embroider Reece's initials into the corner so I did that with some floss from Hobby Lobby. Here's a close up:
And if you were wondering, the backing is Hello Sunshine Multi Dot, and the (somewhat sloppy) bias tape was made from Hello Sunshine Multi Bias Stripe.
I know my method is still pretty crazy and it definitely wasn't perfect, but the parents were happy and it was a fun project. And easily done over my week off for Christmas.

1.11.2013

two-a-days & mad-libs


Okay so I know this is pretty unprecedented for me—I've never blogged twice in one day before, but here we go! First of all, I hope you've already checked out this week's Favorite Blog Friend Friday = Recently Roached.

Secondly, I heard something really encouraging on the radio this morning and knew I needed to share. One of the local christian DJs was talking about overhearing some advice from a pastor in their office. All he heard was "…if God can do that, then…". That's it. That's all he heard, but he said that it really made him think about things.

What a promise to be held in just a few words?!

I know someone right now who could use the encouragement this tiny statement brings (you know who you are). It really helped me approach the day feeling good about things and I think maybe it will be encouraging for you too. I mean, really think about that for a moment: if God can ______, then …….

So let's make a quick mad-lib of it. 

First, choose one of the following for the first blank:
create the universe
love each one of us individually
deliver people from slavery
bring the dead back to life
die on our behalf
heal the sick, wounded, hurting, and lame
call mountains to move and waters to part
conquer death itself

Now, pick one of the following for the second blank:
He can provide for my family
it will all be okay
I can trust in His plan
I am not alone
He will protect me
this hardship won't last forever
I matter to Him
there is joy in Him

Lastly, read your little mad-lib sentence all together and spend a moment meditating on what it really means for your life right now. Okay, so not all of them perfectly fit, but what is the real takeaway here? (Hint: no matter which scenario you pick, the truth is that He loves you and will take care of you.)

Tell me - what "if He can ____, then ____..." statement do you need to hear right now?
Admittedly, mine is "if He can bring all these blessings, then the waiting is worthwhile."

favorite blog friend friday: Recently Roached


Today's Favorite Blog Friend Friday is an extra special lady that I know you'll love as much as I do.
It's the ever-hilarious Jena from Recently Roached!! 

I kid you not, she is so darn funny, down-to-earth, and fun. It doesn't matter what subject she's writing about, she always seems to include a witty little something about it. Love it!

Recently Roached is full of the great, everyday stuff that "all the bloggin' ladies" can relate to: marriage, DIYs, giveaways, inspiration, and general silliness. I know that whenever I'm feeling dumpy, I can get a quick pick-me-up by seeing what Jena is up to. Major plus—she is also an awesome woman of faith who is encouraging and honest.

My only complaint…why the heck does she have to live in TX? That's so far! Seriously, I want to invite her over for laughs and binging on Ben & Jerry's…and I think she'd be up for it.

So seriously, go check out Recently Roached today and get a great laugh in from one awesome blogger!



Also: check it out...I'm now on Bloglovin!
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1.10.2013

the.book.chat link-up

Today I'm linking up with Sweet Green Tangerine's Book Chat!

The question this week is: What are some of your favorite inspirational, really-got-you-pumped-about-life, books?

My answer: I'm not usually a fan of the self-help/inspirational type book—I generally stick to fiction and poetry. BUT, a couple years ago I read two awesome books that are inspiring and fun (which a self-help-ish book definitely has to be for me to bother with it). So I'd highly recommend these:

SARK is definitely not new to the inspiring book scene, but her work is just so fun and creative and inspiring without sounding like a self-help lecture. I love that! If you want to read about finding joy and pleasure in the everyday stuff, Eat Mangoes Naked is a great choice.

Written as a fairly young woman, Sabrina creatively addresses issues of feeling inferior and insignificant. In the same vein as SARK, her work is covered with colorful, artistic representations of her thoughts. It is inspiring, honest, and enjoyable to read and was particularly a good choice for me during a time when I felt like I wasn't sure who I wanted to be – or if I was brave enough to just be myself (aka – college).




Now share your own recommendations and stop by Sweet Green Tangerine to link-up too!

1.09.2013

thoughts on dating and some tasty chicken


I'm all smiles today because Strider and I had the best-night-eva last night!! Stayed in, ate dinner, and watched a kids movie (ParaNorman – fun, but not fantastic). Don't you just love quiet, simple nights that leave you feeling happy and blessed?

The problem is…a lot of girls in their 20s are conditioned to feel like unless your guy has an elaborate plan involving a good bit of money to spend, it's not a special time or a worthwhile guy. This never really made sense to me. 

Life isn't like that

If dating is supposed to be the precursor to a life together, shouldn't it look at least a little bit like normal life? I mean, I'm all for the occasional night out and romantic, pre-planned gesture. But for the most part, I really think dating should just be two people doing normal life stuff together – washing dishes, talking about your day, and making each other laugh.

Maybe it is a question of expectations. If you plan on having a life of abundant wealth, no stress, and plenty of free time to look fancy and do things 'round the town…then maybe Hollywood is spot-on. For me? From experience thus far, I imagine that my future life will be a lot messier than that: work and bills, a cluttered house, kids (someday), and the normal rigamarole of life. But I look forward to that! And if your expectation is the perfect Hollywood "happily ever after", then you will always feel left wanting. But if you can find joy in the quiet, normal, life stuff and appreciate a man who helps you put away the leftovers, doesn't answer his phone all night, and laughs with you over a mediocre film…well, it becomes a lot easier to be fulfilled. 

Maybe I'm wrong, but if so…well, I guess I'm okay with that.

And not to be a post-title-tease, you should definitely try this ridiculously easy and tasty chicken recipe (which I made for us last night and paired with mashed potatoes and fresh grapes – yum!).

Tangy Ranch Chicken
Take 1 cup of mayonnaise (I use the new Kraft olive oil mayo) and combine it with a packet of dry Ranch dressing (use half the packet if you don't want it too tangy). Set this bowl aside and put 2 cups of breadcrumbs into another bowl. Now take a pack of raw chicken breast tenderloins and dredge them through the mayo-ranch mix, then through the breadcrumbs, then lay them into a PAM-sprayed casserole dish. The amounts here should be good for 8 or so tenderloins. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until your chicken reaches safe serving temperature (165 degrees). Mmmmm so good and easy!
Picture compliments of Betty Crocker and does not actually depict the recipe above—but they basically look the same when they're done so here's a somewhat-unrelated but pretty picture of chicken. (Mine is always messier looking!)

1.07.2013

handmade blocks & a debut

Over a week ahead of schedule, my precious "niece" was born this morning! Welcome to the world, Reece Isabel – I absolutely cannot wait to meet you this afternoon!

You may remember me posting a while back about the Alphabet Magnets I made for her a few months ago. Well…I've been sewing like a mad-woman trying to finish all the other projects I've been working on for her, including: plush blocks, a nursery pillow set, and a baby quilt/play blanket. Thanks to a bad cold over the weekend, I was finally home long enough to finish them all before she arrived! I'll be sharing all of my projects in the upcoming weeks along with (hopefully) a pic or two of the little lady herself. 

Today's post is not only to share the immense joy this doodlebug is going to bring to our family, but also to share a fun and somewhat surprisingly easy craft for kids in your life: Homemade Plush Ribbon Blocks. Beginners…don't freak out, they're easier than they look!

Here's my final product (I made 3 in all but took the photo when only two were done).

Materials:
Scrap fabrics
Scrap ribbons
Polyfil or cotton filling
Rotary cutter
Self-healing craft mat
4" square ruler
Sewing machine

First, pick out a bunch of random, fun fabrics that a baby would enjoy looking at. I included several bold, black and white patterns intentionally for early eye development – but whatever you pick, make it colorful and fun. Then pull out all your scrap pieces of ribbon – different textures and widths are preferable.

I wanted my blocks to be bigger and easy to toss and grab so I decided on 4" squares (plus they're the easiest to measure with a 4" ruler!). Cut out 6 squares in your 6 different fabrics. Set them aside and choose between 4-6 ribbons to go with; cut a 4.5" length of each ribbon.

Lay your pieces out as mine are below (but unsewn, obviously). To make the ribbon loops, just make a sandwich of one fabric right side up, a ribbon loop with the tails sticking out at the seam (I made all my loops approx 1–1.5" inches so little hands could grip them but not get stuck through them). Then finish the sandwich with the next fabric piece wrong side up. I'm sorry I didn't take a picture at this point, but if you sew a 1/4" seam down the side with the ribbon tails, the loop will be formed between the two right side fabrics. 

Always using a 1/4" seam allowance and sew A to B, B to C, and C to D just adding the ribbon pieces wherever you see fit. This will make the four sides of your block. Once that is done, sew E to A and F to A. Now the slightly tricker part. Make sure you keep right sides together and sew E to B, C, and D, then do the same for F. At this point your block will be square and inside-out with one seam still open. I'd suggest sewing the final half-way shut. Now gently turn the whole block right-side out, fill it with polyfil (you can even put a bell inside if you're feeling fancy). Then hand stitch the rest of the seam shut. 

Now marvel at your work and then come back here and remind what a terrible tutorial-maker I am for not taking enough pictures! If you get stuck I can answer questions and here is another tutorial with more step-by-step bits. Let me know if you make your own blocks…I'd love to see them!


1.04.2013

favorite blog friend friday: Wifessionals


Today's awesome blog friend is Kaitlyn over at Wifessionals. Can I just say…she is super cool. Like, no joke.

Not only is she crafty, and funny, and somehow really cute all the time…she also runs the amazing Cara Box gift exchange. I've participated in a couple months of the swap and it is such a great way to meet other bloggers and get to know some other cool ladies. Plus, who doesn't love getting a box of fun goodies?!

As a new wife, Kaitlyn blogs about all the things I love most: her faith, real life, recipes, tutorials, and the occasional giveaway – like this one that is running right now. (Plus, fashion stuff – which she is great at, but me…well, not so much.)

So take a moment this Friday to go check out another awesome blogger and click right…HERE! to visit Wifessionals now.



1.03.2013

copycat winter branches


Methodically and with much less emotion than I anticipated, I took down my Christmas decorations last night. This is usually a sad affair that leaves me feeling nostalgic and eager for 11.5 months to pass quickly. However, I realized that this Christmas was quite unlike any others before. With my sister away and Strider busier than ever right before break, putting all those decorations up was less fun than last year…so much so, that I didn't even get a tree (gasp…I know). And admittedly, I was pretty excited to get to put out my Willow Tree nativity from last year!

Anyways…since I forgot to put it up before, here is a fun d├ęcor idea for you before all the yuletide spirit gets packed away. The inspiration came from Brittany over at This Beautiful Life and you can see her original, much prettier version here. Without further ado, here is my lack-of-a-real-tree-so-have-some-shiny-winter-branches-instead craft:
Sorry for the weird coloring...not much light in my living room at 11pm.
Basically, take an old pitcher you already have, spraypaint some random branches with paint you already have, and doll it up with extra ornaments you have left over since they were pulled out to use but have no tree to go on. And voila! A $0 craft that is cute and festive without any real effort. I like it!

1.02.2013

work work...


Back to real life today. *sigh*

Some people at work this morning were talking about how they get bored with vacation and look forward to getting back to the routine and structure of the work day. Not me. I am 100% content to not work. Which is not to say that I like being lazy 24/7, because I certainly don't…but more so that I am content to keep myself busy at home. 

I've been working on a lot of sewing projects over the last couple weeks for my soon-to-debut niece (who appears to be arriving a bit ahead of schedule!) and I still have about a million more things I'd like to do. There always seems to be one more project, one more recipe, one more room to organize or clean, and one more person to visit. You know what I mean?

Money aside, I really think I'd really be okay without work. 

Or maybe I'll just build a time machine and go back and work on my stitching with the March girls. Clearly, it's time to stop reading Little Women.