Tuesday, March 27, 2012

3 becomes 4

Kenley Tovah Hayes arrived early this morning at 4:37am. Weighing 5 lbs 13 oz, she and I are doing great. We'll be taking a little break as we get to know each other and figure out a new balance as a family of four. Thanks for all your prayers and wishes! We feel so blessed!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Elephant Walk

The circus in in town this week.  I'm not a huge fan of circuses. However, I think that one critical way to foster a love for animals in my daughters is for them to see and experience them.  While I'm not taking T to the circus any time soon, I did take her to see the Elephant Walk Parade that went right by our neighborhood.  I guess there are a few perks to living in a city...

There was little promotion about the parade this year.  The parade route wasn't published and the time was only communicated by Twitter (ok, ok, maybe I should get on that one).  We had a quick dinner, early bath, got in her jammies (the parade was right at bedtime) and were ready to head out.  We took a guess about location based on previous routes and got there right on time.  We met up with several of our neighbors, all with kids around each others ages.  It's a great little community we've got here!

We waited and waited.  I think the parents were getting more anxious than the kids!  Finally, the police motorcade showed up to block the side streets.

And then, we could see them!  The elephants!  Wearing their circus headresses, they walked tail to trunk.  I explained to T that was how elephants hold hands, strengthening my argument for why she must hold my hand when we are in the street (well played, mama!).  Her eyes were huge and glued to each elephant as it approached. 

We were then surprised by the arrival of ponies and horses!  I was obsessed with horses as a child and could name the breed or coloring of each one.  "Look T, those are Palominoes, Mummy's favorite".  "Here come the dapple Arabians, Mummy's second favorite".  There were also Morgans and Pintos.  So beautiful.

And just like that, it was over.  40 minutes of waiting for 5 minutes of excitement.  But it was totally worth it!  Just look at that face!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fast and cute baby hats

I've had a little bit of time off the last couple of days.  Feeling a little overwhelmed with the possibility that BG#2 could arrive any day now, I returned to my packing list for our hospital bag and realized I didn't have any hats for BG#2!  GAH!  What kind of mother am I?  Have I never had a newborn baby before?  How am I forgetting everything!?!?

Once, my panic subsided, I remembered these projects that I had pinned a while back.

They both promise to be quick and easy, so I figured I'd give it a try.  I have a long "to-do" list, but this falls under "make sure hospital bag is fully packed", right?

I also figured I'd repurpose some older sleeping gowns that I'm not likely to use, ever.  T hated them, and I always got nervous trying to get the whole thing over her head.  I have a ton, so I picked a few that I liked the pattern, but were not in the best shape.

First, the tie-top beanie hat:

These actually were pretty easy, but I did make one change.  I like to have the option of folding up the cuff of the hat, so I doubled that length.  The pink one came out a little better, I think because it was a lighter weight knit fabric.  Overall, pretty cute and pretty easy.  Each hat took about 20-25 minutes.

Now, the flower adorned hat:

The hat part of this one was also very easy, took less than 18 minutes (I was cooking my lunch on a timer when I started this one!).  Don't mind the bunching along the top, I didn't bother to iron it flat.  I'm sure it will look cute stretched across my baby's head!  The flower part took longer than the actual hat.  I have an aversion to hand sewing, as called for in the tutorial, so I tried to layer the pieces and machine stitch similar to my $3 maternity skirt.  The bulk of the fabric was too much though and jammed up my machine.  Sigh.  I had to eventually hand stitch the last petal on.

Anyways, three really cute hats in one afternoon.  Phew!  I can check that off my packing list!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

$3 maternity skirt

I haven't done a Pinterest Project review in a while, so I figured I'd do one that would meet an immediate need.  It's the first half of March and it's over 80 degrees here!  I need something other than maternity jeans and sweaters to wear.  HELP!

I remembered this project that I had pinned a while back, originally from Simple Simon and Company ...

While walking through Joann Fabrics the other day, I spotted a rack of maternity T-shirts for $2.97 each!  I grabbed an XL in purple just for this project.

First, I turned the shirt inside out, made sure it was laying flat and cut across, right under the sleeves using my rotary cutter.

Being that the sides and bottom are already done for you, all you now need to do is create the casing for the elastic waistband, every pregnant woman's best friend!  I turned over the raw top edge 1/2 inch and sewed, using a zig zag stitch.  Soon, very soon, I will get my serger set up and running, I promise!

Once that was done, I turned that edge over one more time, about an inch and again sewed with a zig zag stitch.  I made sure to leave an opening to insert my elastic.  To determine the length of elastic, I measured my current waist size (the Horror!) and subtracted two inches.  After threading the elastic through, I sewed the two elastic ends together, overlapping them by an inch.  Make sure you try it on at this point before closing up the casing!

So, now I have a very plain,t-shirt skirt.  Took about 15 minutes to this point.  I figured with the left over material, I could make some cute flowers!  I cute 5 ~2 inch circles, and 10 ~1.25 inch circles.  I made a petal shape out of each by folding them onto themselves along one side and pinned them to my skirt.  Placing the pinned petals under my presser foot without clamping it down, I freely sewed in a circular motion several times over all the petals.

Cute right?

Please don't mind the basket of laundry behind me.  It's clean, I promise!  I just need a little more energy at the end of the day!

By the way, I went over to Simple Simon and Company today and was amazed at how many awesome projects I found!  What an inspiration!  You should definitely check it out!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Master Bath Update

Master Bath update:

So how did you like the guest bathroom update?  It's pretty awesome, right?



For two weeks, I got to enjoy the new shower, the lovely water pressure, and the thrill of new things!  I was also kicked out of my master bath for a week, so I had no choice! Anyways, the master bath is done too, except for... you guessed it, wall paper scraping and painting!  We did get the walls behind the fixtures painted so we could at least appreciate how it would look when it was done.  Love it!

Original Plan - same as guest bath, replace floor with tile, new vanity, new mirror, new cabinet, new lighting, new tub and shower surround.
Changes to Plan - since we went with tile in the guest bath, it seemed silly to do a plastic shower surround in the master bath.  While at a large home improvement store where they wear orange aprons, a gentleman sold me on a custom order surround that was made from the same material as Corrian counter tops.  Thinking that it would be a great compromise in price and an improvement to plastic, we ordered it.  When it arrived two weeks later, we found out that it was just textured plastic.  Grr.  Of course, we didn't know this until the night before it was supposed to go up!  So, off to the store I went, after T went to bed, to pick out tile for the master shower.  I hate last minute design changes and decisions, but I absolutely love how it came out!

We went with white furniture in the master bath.  I wanted a really clean look for this bathroom and I'm really please with how it came out.  The shower tile has green tones in it which go perfectly with my, of course, green shower curtain!  I purchased the shower curtain material from the same sale at Jo-Ann's as the guest bath, but this one needed a lot more fabric, since the tub in here was a standard length.  I'll be posting a tutorial on how I made it soon (if you're a Ticklebugz facebook page fan, you got the sneak preview!).  Those button hole lessons learned came in handy!

Lessons Learned:
- Don't fear last minute design changes, they may be the perfect upgrade to the entire renovation.
- Invest in the master bath.  It should be equal to or better than the guest bath.  While it cost a bit more than we planned, it will pay off in the end.
- Don't argue with the hubs when he wants to try to save some $ and use the leftover grout from the guest bath  instead of the special one you picked out.  He was right.  I was wrong. :)

If you're in the market for some home improvements to your bath or kitchen, here is my contractors information.  I would recommend him in a heartbeat!  He was awesome!  Send me a message and I'll send you a personal referral.

Rob Smith, owner
Shoreline Custom Carpentry, Inc
Glen Burnie, MD

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Shower Curtain Tutorial

Here's my shower curtain tutorial!

I've been super inspired by the Anthropologie DIY ruffle shower curtains.

Up until it was time to choose fabric, I was totally convinced that I would make one of my own. But, then I found this print and I was in love. So much so, that I had to order the fabric and patiently wait two weeks for it to come in. 

With a pattern that busy, I thought my head would just explode with all those ruffles.  However, I did want something fuller, floofier.  Drawing on my recent experiences ruffling fabrics, I decided to go with a one-tier ruffled curtain with some structure at the top.  So I drew up some plans, keeping in mind that I have already ordered and received my fabric and had to work within the amount at hand.

I used the measurements of the curtain liner as a guide, 70" W x 71" L.  With my fabric measuring only 54"W, I would need to incorporate some panels.  I also had to keep in mind that the pattern is long.  Originally, I planned to have two 54"W panels attached to a structured top.  Just before I got my scissors out, I realized that if I made that cut, I wouldn't have enough material to finish the project.  Gah!  Back to the drawing board...

OK, so three panels, 2x 28", 1x43" wide, all 72" L.  The remaining fabric, 14"W x 72"L would be used for the structured top.

First, I attached each side panel to the wider panel in the middle with a running stitch and then a zigzag stitch to secure it and prevent fraying.  Each side and bottom was then hemmed.  On the sides, I folded each side in one inch and sewed taking advantage of the selvages.  The bottom was turned in one inch and then 5 inches. 

Then, with a long running stitch across the top, I ruffled the entire panel by holding the top thread in my hand as I sewed.  This was a little tricky with the bulk of the fabric.  Ruffling this way is by no means precise, but it certainly beats pulling strings and ruffling afterwards.  I leave long thread tails on either end so that I can adjust the final width as necessary.  This time, I hit it right on the mark.  That never happens!

Next, I switched to the top structured panel.  I took my 14"W x 72"L fabric and folded it lengthwise so that it was 7" x 72".  Doing it this way did turn the pattern 90 degrees.  However, I picked the side that I liked the look best as the front and its actually not driving me crazy like I thought it would.  I turned in each edge about one inch and ironed well all around.  Feeling confident, I started sewing the ruffled panel to the structured panel.  Big mistake!  The bulk of the ruffled panel made the structured panel pucker on the bottom and I had to start over.  Of course I didn't realize my mistake until the end and I got to enjoy ripping out the entire seam.  Yay!

OK, second try, I measured, placed and sewed my button holes into the structured panel before attaching the ruffled panel.  This provided some much needed stability.  I then brought out the sewing pins.  GASP!  I never pin anything, but I wanted this to look perfect to go along with my new perfect bathroom!  To hide the raw edge of the ruffled panel, it was inserted between the two folded sides of the structured panel (see pic below).  I then pinned under each button hole. 

It was slow going, but it worked!  I took out my seam ripper again to open up the button holes and hung that baby up!  I love how it came out! Ruffly, but not overwhelming.  Looks great against the grey walls!

And, since you've made it all the way to the end, for your viewing enjoyment, here is a lovely 37-week picture of my bump!

(yes, I am standing on T's step stool so that you can see the actual bump over my new vanity!)

Bathroom Renovations Update - Guest Bath

I know, the suspense is killing you!

Well, our amazing contractor is done, two bathrooms, both with new, well, EVERYTHING, including tiled showers.  The only thing our contractor doesn't do is paint, so that part is holding us up right now.  That lovely wall paper trim I mentioned before is becoming a bit of a pain to take down.  Once it is though, prepare to see a complete transformation!  For the time being here are some pictures and updates on the progress.  Today - the guest bath. Tomorrow - the master bath. 

By the way, if you live in our area and are interested in bathroom or kitchen renovations, our contractor is your guy!  Totally professional, hard working, cares about the quality of his work, what more can you ask for?  He actually told us that he was concerned about the molding in the guest bathroom and was thinking about it all night and came back the next day with a solution.  Who does that these days???  Anyways, before the pics, here is his information:

Rob Smith, Owner
Shoreline Custom Carpentry, Inc
Fully licensed
Glen Burnie, MD

Send me a message and I'll give you a personal referral!

Guest Bathroom:

Original Plan - replace floors with tile, new vanity, new lighting, new cabinet, new toilet, new tub and shower surround.

Changes to original plan - because the guest bathroom has a smaller than standard tub, we couldn't get a reasonably priced shower surround and decided to go with tile.  We also couldn't find shower "shelves" that matched the tiles we purchased, so we decided to recess a shelf into the shower.

Sorry, each picture is so specific.  Being such a small space, it's hard to get an overall picture of this bathroom!  Anyways, we love how it came out!  Our contractor worked with us so that we could paint the "accent" wall grey before he installed the toilet and mirror.  We went with one accent wall thinking that it would feel too "cave-like" in such a small room to paint all the walls grey.  The other three walls need to be painted white still once the rest of the wall paper trim comes down. 

I made the shower curtain from home decor fabric purchased at Jo-Ann's during an awesome 50% off sale they were having.  I didn't even know the sale was going on when I went in - I totally lucked out!  Being a smaller than standard tub, I was able to get away with just two yards of fabric because the width was wide enough to stretch across completely!  The hardest part about the shower curtain was the stinking button holes!  I, however, have now mastered the button hole function on my sewing matching which was beneficial when making the curtain for the master bath.  I love the fabric for the curtain, the colors are perfect!  I think it softens up such a manly bathroom without being too girly!  The last thing I have to do (besides paint) is make a roman shade.  I've already purchased the fabric, a solid persimmon-orange color that matches the shower curtain.  I plan to use this tutorial, courtesy of Pinterest.  Don't worry, I'll make sure to post a review of the process!

Lessons learned:

- It is way easier to paint a flat exposed wall than to paint around fixtures and furniture!
- Picking out two types of tile, wall paint, furniture, fixtures, etc. is much harder than you expect, especially when going between two different stores to have the most options to choose from.
- Tile is heavy and will make your car look like a low-rider when packed into your trunk!
- Having a properly diverted shower will not only save water and electricity, but is a little slice of heaven!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Naps are the best!

I don't remember the nesting thing coming over me when I was pregnant with T, but I think it's finally hit me with BG#2!

T is the greatest sleeper of all time!  I know I'm cursing myself by saying that out loud, but I think we earned it after her first four months when she never slept.  Anyways, she'll sleep 12 hours at night and still take a three hour nap during the day.  I'm really going to miss those afternoons to myself when #2 arrives and their schedules are all out of whack.   

I normally reserve nap time for my lunch, a little cleaning, maybe catching up on a show (or two!).  Sometimes, I try to get some crafting in and put up a tutorial for you guys.  On Thursday last week, I was a whirlwind of activity!

All last week, poor little T was sick, sick, sick.  She would cough so hard that she would get sick and everything in her little stomach would come out.  Unfortunately, in these instances, she loves milk, which I have learned turns to cheese almost instantaneously in her stomach.  Too much?  Sorry.  Anyways, during this wonderful Thursday nap I managed to remove her carseat and clean it out.  While it was out, I figured I'd vacuum the car too.  After that, I dusted inside the car and cleaned the windows, windshield, etc.  Since I was putting her carseat back in, I told myself I might as well put BG#2's carseat in too.  Why not, right?  It must have been a funny sight to see 8-month pregnant me kneeling in each carseat and struggling with belts and latches!

With the car all set, I set my sights on lunch.  Mmm-mmm!  An FLT (fake bacon, lettuce and tomato on toasted sourdough bread). 

Refueled, I make some cake pops for my darling.  Whoever thought of making those things must be rolling in dough (haha!  I'm so funny!).  I made two kinds, German chocolate and confetti cake, dipped in pink colored white chocolate (they were supposed to be for Valentine's Day), and rolled in coconut. 

After sampling a cake pop to make sure it passed quality assurance, I washed and dried 2 loads of laundry and folded four.  Yep, I checked my math here, I had an overflowing basket of clean clothes waiting for me already.

Finally, I went through the stash of maternity clothes that were too big before or too springy/summery and refreshed my dwindling wardrobe.

Phew!  I probably would have done more, but I feared cleaning and organizing in T's room would probably wake her!

So, what do you think?  Nesting?  Just feeling motivated?  Probably should have just taken a nap?  Maybe.  But it felt good to get all of that done!

BTW, here is my cake pop "recipe"

Whenever I have to even out cakes for a tiered cake, or I have leftover batter from cupcakes (I cook that separately in a small pan), I mix it with leftover frosting.  No measuring here, I just add more frosting until it reaches a consistency that I can roll it into "meatballs".  I take about 2 tablespoons of cake/frosting mix, roll it in my hands and place it into a container that I can seal and freeze.  There it stays until I'm ready to make it into a final product.  I thaw the cake balls for 1-2 hours on the counter.  Melt some melting chocolates (either microwave or double boiler, be careful not to burn!).  Insert a lollipop stick into the cake ball and roll it in the melted chocolate.  Before it sets up, roll it in coconut or jimmies (sprinkles) or some other little piece of deliciousness.  Hmm, crushed up toffee bar would be awesome!  Let it harden on a plate at room temperature and you're all set!