Friday, March 23, 2012

Point of View Reveal- Pinterest

Friday, March 23, 2012
Pinterest is a wonderful place.  Full of goodness and inspiration.   For this month, we decided to take that inspiration and run with it.  How about you?  Have you been inspired to try something from Pinterest?  We'd love to see what you've done with it, scroll down to link up your own Pinterest pinspired Point of View. (yes, I'm still rolling with the pinspired lingo. ;) )
See something that strikes your fancy from the collage?  Follow the links for more details on the projects:
Jonie- Just Between Friends
Ashlee- I'm Topsy Turvy
Gwen- Gwenny Penny
Leanne- Organize and Decorate Everything
And we'd love to give a huge shout out to our friend Lorene from I Am Just Lu, who is our guest poster this month!
I'm so excited to see how all these projects were made- they all look gorgeous!
As for my own Pinspiration?  Let me show  you the pin that started it all:
 This gorgeous layout from Bella Blvd Studio Blog.  If you're looking for inspiration- spend some time on their blog- I love the style and fun ideas they have there.
Anyway, I love the look of the strips of paper creating the sun.  The colors jumped out to me, and well, I simply loved the whole look of the page.  But, I didn't want to make something out of paper.  No, this was just begging to become a pillow.
A, You are my Sunshine pillow.  I love how it came together.  Even though it isn't as brightly colored as the inspiration piece, I am thrilled with it.  For details on how I created the pillow front, you can check out my tutorial, here.
And now that I've shown you my pinspiration- I'm dying to see yours.  We're trying something new this month and hosting the link party on all of the blogs participating in Point of View this month.  Hopefully having the link party right here will encourage you to link up and share your own projects with us.
One last thing before we get to the link party- we are excited to announce the themes coming up for the next couple months of Point of View.  The theme for April's link/ reveal is going to be End of School/ Teacher Appreciation and the theme for May will be Summer/Vacation.  Hopefully this will give you some time to get the wheels turning and get your projects all ready to share with us. :)
Now are you ready to Par-tay?

You are my Sunshine Pillow tutorial

When I was a little girl I remember sitting up late on a summer evening peeking through the door to look out on the grown-ups and see what they were doing.  My great-grandfather would pull out his harmonica and play this song.  I remember feeling so happy inside.
Fast forward a couple decades and that same feeling fills me up as I sing the words of this song to my children.  My youngest especially loves this song.  In fact, when I told her that the pillow was going to say "You are my Sunshine," she said, "That's because it loves me."  It makes me happy that she associates me singing this song to her with love, and that she translated that love to the pillow. :)
You can see what inspired me to make this pillow in my Point of View reveal post, but the fabrics were chosen because they are the basis for my daughter's bedroom makeover.  I added in a few different fabrics, the yellow, green, pink and orange, to make it feel more like a sun, but the rest of the fabrics are from the Ruby line from Moda.
This tutorial is a little incomplete because I'm still not very good at piping, and the back was my first attempt at adding a zipper enclosure to a pillow, so I didn't take pictures of those parts, mostly because I was totally winging it and making it up as I went.  :)  But I do have instructions on how I made the front, I hope it helps.
I wanted to do a quilt as you go type application, so I didn't have to cut out precise angles on the colored pieces.  To start, I cut out a piece of quilt batting 18" X 18" square.  I drew a line about 4" up from the bottom to be my "horizon" then traced a bowl the size I wanted my sun.  (the arrow is pointing to the traced lines since they're hard to see)
I cut strips of my fabrics 3-4" by 18 or so inches long.  I was using fat quarters and yardage so some were longer than others, but the 18" long ones were plenty long.  I arranged the fabrics how I liked them (and took a picture so I'd remember what that arrangement was). 
I sewed the first piece down lining up the edge to the drawn horizon line.  I originally thought I would quilt each strip as I attached them, but quickly learned that wasn't going to work.  As I laid the green piece down, you can see the overhang of pink underneath- I need to trim that off , but can't since it's quilted down- so that quickly changed my plans.  So here's how the rest of the strips went down.
Line up your strip at your chosen angle, right side of fabric down.  The arrows show you what points you will need to pay attention to so that you make sure you're getting the batting all covered.  I used a 1/4" seam allowance, so when you're checking the side closest to the sun, make sure you'll still going to see the color of the previous ray.  Sew down the pinned side using a 1/4" seam allowance.
Trim the excess fabric from the previous ray (in this case, the green), then press the ray over so it's laying flat against the batting.  Repeat for all the rays.  Then quilt all the rays.  I alternated between a 1/2" row of straight quilting (first pink ray), and "ray" quilting (angled rows of quilting, as in the green ray).

To make the sun, I traced a circle on the white fabric just larger than the circle I traced on the batting.  (again the line is hard to see, so I added the arrow. :) )  Then I folded the fabric so there were two layers.
I stitched around the circle On The Line  leaving about an inch or so open for turning.  Cut out the circle with pinking shears so it will lay flat. (you can also cut out notches around the circle if you don't have pinking shears)  Turn the circle inside out and press down.  (use a dull instrument to push the edges out to make the seams even)
And, here's where the pictures disappear and I just tell you what I did because I was in too big a hurry to get it done.  So sorry about that.
Place the sun so it covers all the edges of the rays, with the open end at the bottom where it will be covered by the horizon.  Stitch down with two rows of stitching.
Sew down the horizon the same way you did the rays.  Place the horizon fabric down, right side down, over the sun, lining it up with the line you drew in the beginning, making sure all the raw edges of the rays and sun are covered.  Stitch down, and press over.  Topstitch.  Embellish how you would like.  I used my own handwriting to write "you are my" and embroidered them in the sun.  Then I cut out the letters for "sunshine" using my cricut and traced them (backwards) onto light heat n' bond (the purple kind).  Using remnants from the rays, I fused the heat n' bond to the fabric, cut out the letters and pressed them down on the horizon.  Then I stitched them down to make sure they would stay in place.
Finishing the pillow, as I said before was more a matter of trial and error (more error than I'd like to admit).  I need to do more research on the best way to add piping to a pillow and adding zippers is definitely something I need to practice more.  Still, I think it looks pretty good.
:)  Not too shabby, right?
I love the quilted look, and it has me really excited to make the other two pillows I have planned for this room.  And to finally make the quilt I've been planning for her as well.  Man, I better get busy. :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Right Now {Mom-day post}

Monday, March 19, 2012
If she knows you're taking her picture, this is the face you get. Cheese!
I just read a post this morning here.  And after my post last week as well, I'm feeling like it's time to take a moment and just revel in the happy things that are happening in my life- Right Now.

Right Now- this one is finally potty trained.  Our kids can be stubborn- so we wait until it's their idea- which is usually A LOT later than when it's our idea. :)  But, the flip side is that one day they're wearing pull-ups and the next underwear.  Awesome.

Right Now- I finally have some energy.  Even after the stomach flu hit our family last week (all but one of us) I still feel like I can get some things accomplished- Mom things and Amy things too.  That's always fun.

Right Now- I am looking forward to spring.  Even though there's snow on the ground this morning- by the weekend?  60's and 70's!  YES!!

Right Now- I am grateful that I have enough business to keep me busy, but not enough to overwhelm me.

Right Now- I love my family.  Every imperfect and crazy part of them.

Right Now- I am looking forward to attending SNAP! a blogging conference, right in my neck of the woods, and that it comes with the delightfully HUGE bonus of meeting one of my best blogging friends IN REAL LIFE!!  YeS, Yes, YES!!!  I don't think I'll be sleeping much that weekend. ;)

Right Now- I am so grateful that this baby in me is growing and looks healthy and strong.  We had a bit of a scare with the genetic screening test and it was a rough week.  The ultrasound looked great and we're just going to love HER however she comes. :)

Right Now- I am loving blogging friends that lift, encourage and inspire me.  Even when I don't always keep up my share of the equation. :)  Hopefully that is turning around.  Look for some amazing inspiration this week in a tutorial that has been LONG promised and WAY overdue, as well as incredible Pinterest pinspired (that was a typo, but it looked appropriate so I'm leaving it. ;) ) projects from our Point of View group.  I really hope you'll join us by linking up your own Pinterest pinspired projects.  How's that for alliteration for you? :)

Right Now- I am grateful to be living in a place full of beauty, and for children who love to stop and look with me.

Now it's your turn.  What are you grateful for Right Now?
Happy Monday!
xoxo,
Amy

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Paper Plate Basket Tutorial

Thursday, March 15, 2012
Last week I promised I'd share how I made my paper plate baskets.  Well, even though it's not the next day- here it is. :)
As I mentioned in the previous post, I had first seen these baskets on a pin that linked to this tutorial on Sara Hearts.  She had first seen them in a Martha Stewart magazine, but when I looked online I couldn't find the tutorial.  I had a different take on how to put them together, so that's what I'm going to share today.

To start you will need a 9" paper plate, a 3" square template (I just cut out a 3" square out of cardstock), and a stapler or hot glue gun.  Optional: embellishments, ribbon, ink.

Trace the 3" square onto the center of the plate.  You can measure in 3" from the side to get it exact, but if you're fairly close, the basket will turn out fine without being precise.
Fold over each side of the square, continuing the fold to the edges of the plate.
This is what your plate will look like when all four sides are folded.
This part gets tricky to explain in words.  We are going to fold the triangle piece in half, lining up the two straight sides to put the crease in the center of the triangle.
Fold it flush against one of the sides.  Repeat with all four triangle pieces.  The important thing to remember is to keep the outside edges lined up the whole time so the basket is square and the corners are flush.
This is what you will have when all four corners have been folded.  If you want to ink the edges, or color the sides (like we had the cub scouts do) you will want to do it now.  Next we're going to create the basket.  There are two ways to do it, you can staple the corners to the side, this way is quick and fast and very simple.  When you are finished you can just cover the staples with a ribbon or other embellishment.  The other option is to use hot glue, which will seal up the edges a bit better and leave no external marks, but is just a tad more time consuming.
This is the stapled version.  You will want to make sure you keep the staples lined up pretty closely so when you add ribbon (or the very popular washi tape) you will cover them up.
To use hot glue, you will run a bead of glue around the border of one half of the corner triangle then pinch the corner shut.  Make sure you line up the sides again so your corner is flush and square.
To tack the corners down, you will need to add a dab of glue to the points of the triangles (note the arrow in the picture) and press them against one side.  It's a much cleaner look, but I personally prefer the simpler staple version. :)
To finish it off, add a ribbon to cover the staples (if that's what you used), or embellish to your heart's content.
You don't need to do much to these to make them darling, their size is enough to endear them to any recipient.  Fill them with cookies, treats, notes, berries or other fun small items and gift them to a neighbor, friend or teacher.  Cute and inexpensive.
You can see what we did with them in our Cub Scout den here.
Let me know if you have any questions or if something isn't clear.  I'll do my best to help.
xoxo,
Amy
Linked up to the Weekend Wrap up party at Tatertots and Jello.  Look What I Made Link Party at Kara's Creations.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Taco Cupcakes

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
I have been having a blast using Pinterest to find new recipes for my family.  I tend to rely on my go-to recipes much more than I probably should, so when something new comes up on the menu, my family gets pretty excited. :)  I had seen a pin for Taco Cupcakes on Just Us.  They looked very much like something my family would go for, so I decided to try them out.  Well, it turns out I'm not very good at reading directions because when I went to make them, I only had about half the ingredients called for in the recipe, so I decided to just wing it. :)  I would definitely recommend reading her recipe and trying that out, but mine turned out pretty good too, and my family loved them. :)
Taco Cupcakes- my version.
Won Ton wrappers
hamburger
taco seasoning
cheese
refried beans
Preheat oven to 375
Brown the hamburger, drain and add taco seasoning according to package directions.  Take a cupcake pan and press one won ton wrapper into each well.  Spoon hamburger and beans (1-2 T), top with shredded cheese.  Layer another wonton wrapper on top and repeat layers.  Fold the edges of the wrappers into the center of the "cupcake" to keep them from browning as much.  Bake 15-20 minutes.
Enjoy!  Next time I would probably do less hamburger and more beans because of the amount of seasoning in the hamburger.  I would also follow the other recipe and serve with guacamole- yum. :)

Have you been inspired to try something on Pinterest?  Get your posts ready because our Point of View theme for March is Pinterest and we'd love to have you link up and share your Point of View!! :)
xoxo,
Amy

Monday, March 12, 2012

On Happiness {Mom-day}

Monday, March 12, 2012
I don't go to a ton of blogger events, and even when I do, I don't normally blog about them here.  It sort of feels like bragging- you know?  I realize that I happen to live in a really active blogging community and this activity is both a curse and a blessing.  There is the risk of competition and comparison- it's hard when you're a small fish in a REALLY BIG pond. :)  But the reward is that there are many opportunities to meet up with other bloggers and participate in events where you can learn new things and try new products. 

Last week I had the chance to attend a blogging event sponsored by Vicks and their new Behind the Ear thermometer.  No, I did not have to blog about it in order to go, but I was really impressed with the new thermometer and while I'll wait and hope that none of my kids gets sick and has to use it, I'm really excited that when someone does feel warm, I have a new tool to combat their illness.  Thank you Vicks for the thermometer and the wonderful event.

The real reason I'm blogging about this event is the speaker they brought in.  Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician and author.  She has written quite a few books, but the one she shared most with us was The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers.  I have only read the first few chapters, but I think she has some very interesting points.  She mentioned that in her practice she has noticed a trend over the last 10 years where the mothers who are coming in are less satisfied with their lives as mothers and much more stressed and unsure of themselves than mothers she had seen in previous years.  I am really not surprised at that.  I remember being a relatively new mother who was struggling intensely with my daughter.  She was spirited, difficult and stubborn.  Not to mention downright naughty.  She was tough, and I was overwhelmed.  I read books, magazines and watched parenting programs.  I was bombarded with advice and often those pieces of advice conflicted each other.  And most of the advice didn't feel right to me, but I didn't really know what I was doing, did I dare trust myself when all this information was telling me to do something (or ten somethings) else?   Those were a rough couple of years.  But I learned a very valuable lesson.  I learned that even though I am still learning how to be a good mother, I have instincts within me that, when I trust them, help me to be the best mother I can be.

I remember reading a parenting magazine one day and one article emphatically stated that you must do such and such a thing to make sure your children are happy and contented.  Then another article in the SAME magazine directly contradicted the previous article- stating that the exact opposite thing was true.  I threw the magazine away and cancelled my subscription. 

Now add blogging to the mix.  You can go to blog A and see a fabulous birthday party Mommy X threw for her darling 3 year old.  Then you click over to blog B and see how Mommy L makes fabulous lunches for her children every.single.day- complete with printables and homemade bread.  Next in your reader is Mommy M who is single handedly building a house and raising 7 children all on her own, using only duct tape and Goodwill finds.

You come away from your visit to blog land exhausted, overwhelmed and feeling completely useless.  You only let your kids have parties every 4 years starting when they are 8, you make your older children prepare their own lunches which mostly consist of bread and processed cheese slices with punch, crackers and a treat.  Your home is a wreck because your husband who works 12-13 hours a day is finishing the basement with the help of your father in law and only has a couple hours each week and all day Saturday to work on it, so it's taking MONTHS and everything that used to be in the basement is in your living room, kitchen, garage and any other spare corner you can cram it until the project is complete.  Plus you're pregnant with a surprise FIFTH pregnancy that has completely overwhelmed you and knocked you on your butt out of complete shock.  Oh wait, that's actually what I think, but I'm sure you can relate to at least some of those things. :)

My point is this- you  may or may not be Supreme Party Planning Mommy X, you may be like Mommy L who THRIVES on being creative in the kitchen and has carved out lunch making as her very own specialty.  You may be the clone of Mommy M whose thriftiness is innate and thrilling to her.  Or you may be something different altogether.  You may be the simply amazing Average Mommy A who does nothing to extremes but quietly goes through the day just trying to be the best person she can be.  Or you may be Delighted Mommy K who is enamored with each one of her children and thrilled with the opportunity to be a mother.  On any given day you may be one or all of these different women.  And no matter what Mommy you are today- by simply doing your best- you are the BEST mommy to your kids. 

Happiness in motherhood comes not from being a certain kind of Mommy, it comes from being YOUR kind of Mommy.  It comes when you trust yourself and have confidence in your choices and decisions for YOU and your family.  I love a beautifully planned party, flawlessly executed and gorgeously appointed.  But, right now, that is not who I am.  I am about simple, careful and inexpensive celebrations.  I LOVE sewing and creating things for my home and children.  It doesn't make me better than the mom who HATES those things, it makes us different.  And while I can learn from and admire all the other gifts and talents of Mommies everywhere, I don't have to be every kind of mother all the time.  Happiness is confidence in yourself, trusting your instincts and loving your children with all you have.  It's simple in it's concept, but much more difficult in practice.

I share these Mom-day posts, the good, the bad and the ugly, in the hopes that you will realize that behind the pictures and projects is simply a woman who is trying to be the best person she can be.  Who fails miserably at times, but who is fully devoted to her family and doing the best she can.  I hope that by sharing my struggles and challenges, especially when it comes to parenting, you'll realize that no mother has it perfect all the time, that the pictures and carefully edited content you are typically exposed to on the internet and tv is just that- carefully edited.  That you have a place to come and share your own struggles and know they are understood and appreciated.  And I hope that by dropping the facade and getting "real" with all of you, it will chip away at the freshly polished veneer of many of the mommy blogs out there.  Not in hopes of bringing you down, but in the hopes that by being real with each other, we can encourage and lift each other up.  That you will know, that I truly believe, that motherhood is glorious in it's capacity to change us, delightful in it's rewards and irreplaceable in it's impact on individuals and communities.  But, even with the importance of it's role- motherhood is hard.  It is meant to be hard.  The very hardness is what makes it worthwhile.  So on laundry day, when you turn your whites pink, or the basement floods, or brother A punches brother B and gives him a bloody nose (no, that didn't really happen at my house) and you're mired down with the everyday hardness of motherhood- remember you're not alone.  That every mother, everywhere is right there with you.  Take a deep breath, vent a little (please feel free to come here and vent as often as you like), maybe even shed a few tears, pick yourself up, brush yourself off, smile that you're doing the most important job on the planet, and carry on.  And be happy.

Have a Wonderful Monday.
XOXO,
Amy
 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Valentine Service gift for Cub Scouts

Wednesday, March 7, 2012
This is the basket my son made for me.
We made these for Cub Scouts on Valentine's day this year.  We have a boy with diabetes and another with celiac disease so food based activities were out of the question since we didn't want to leave someone out.  The hearts were made with fabric scraps and the baskets were made with paper plates.  I had seen the heart idea on a pin somewhere, but I didn't re-pin it myself so I can't link to the idea- if someone knows what I'm talking about, please let me know where I can find it. :)  The link basically said that she had made hearts and hid them around her parent's house for her father's birthday.  She gave him a jar and told him every time he found a heart to remember how much she loved him.  I thought this would be a fun idea for the boys to use as a service project for someone in their family.  They made a card for whoever they were doing the service for telling them what they loved about them and explaining the hearts.
* To make the hearts I simply cut out a template from my Cricut (you could easily make your own heart), I used the Plantain Schoolbook cartridge and cut the heart at 3"- I wanted the hearts small since the baskets themselves are pretty small and I wanted to fit at least 5 hearts into the basket.  I cut them out of the fabrics (I cut 4 at a time) using pinking shears so I didn't have to turn them inside out and they'd still look finished.  I sewed around the border using a 1/4" seam allowance leaving a small opening for the boys to stuff them with filling.  I gave each of the boys an unsharpened pencil to use to help push the stuffing in, which they got to keep as their valentine from me.  When they finished stuffing their hearts, I sewed the openings shut with my machine.
We made the baskets from paper plates.  I had first seen the idea as a pin from the blog Sara Hearts, but I actually read the idea on another blog (again, I'm a slacker pinner and didn't re-pin after I read the how-to, but it's the same idea and I'm pretty sure she linked to Sara's blog)  I did not follow the directions and made my baskets a different way, I'll take some pictures tomorrow and show you how I actually did it.
I was really surprised how much ten 8 year old boys enjoyed this activity.  And I know my son at least had a great time hiding the hearts for me.  He was so anxious for me to find them he kept pointing them out to me instead of letting me just come across them naturally. :)  I would chalk that up to a good activity. :)
I think this would be a fun activity for any day, how fun to leave a hidden gift for a grandma on your next visit?
Have a great Wednesday.
XOXO,
Amy
** ETA** you can find the tutorial for the paper plate baskets here.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Point of View Changes

Friday, March 2, 2012
This month marks the 1 year anniversary of Point of View!  I can't believe we've already been doing this for a whole year- crazy how time flies! :)  When you reach an anniversary like this it's not unusual to stop and look back and reflect on how it's gone, what you like, what you want to change.  So here we are- reflecting and looking back- and CHANGING!! :) 

Up first Reflection:  
  These are a couple of the reveal collages from the past year:
Spring Point of View Reveal

October 2011 Reveal- theme: Burlap
And on a personal note, some of my very favorite projects have been Point of View projects, especially my very first Point of View project, my Scalloped Skirt:
 And I'm pleased to report that my daughter still loves this skirt and wears it all the time. :)

It has been a fun year full of amazing projects and challenges.  And I'm really looking forward to the year ahead.  But, with reflection comes the realization that while Point of View has in some ways been exactly what I wanted it to be, in other ways it has fallen short of its potential.  When Jonie and I first discussed the concept over lunch one day last year, we had both recently participated in craft competitions.  What we loved about the competition was the challenge- the opportunity to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and try new things, or perhaps finally find the motivation to make something that had been on our list to make forever, but we just never had the need.  What I didn't like about the competition was the judging.  I didn't like having my project, that I loved and worked hard on, compared to the others in the contest.  I didn't like losing. ;)  So, we came up with Point of View- a chance to push ourselves, to try new projects and to create projects regularly. (let's face it, sometimes we need a little external motivation ;) )  But I also wanted it to be more than just our group's projects- I really want to create a platform for everyone to participate, so we can all benefit from the motivation, the excitement and the opportunity to let our own "Point of View" be seen and heard. 

It's really that last bit that I feel we've fallen short on.  The missing piece of the Point of View puzzle- is YOU! 

So, now on to the changes.
In order to make this more about you, we are opening up the selection of themes to you!  Leave a comment on this post with your suggestions for themes you would like to see us use.  Do you have a project you LOVE that you'd like to share?  Give us a theme that goes with it and then come link it up!  Do you have a project on your to-do list you've wanted to get to FOREVER but never seem to have the motivation?  Give us the theme and then make it happen!  We want themes YOU want, so we can all be motivated and inspired. :)  And with that change comes another adjustment- we are actually going to publish the themes for the whole year as soon as they are decided on!  That way you can get going on them and look forward to sharing them with everyone.
And, just like we did last year, we are going to continue to invite guests to post with us each month- so you can have the chance for a little extra motivation if you like.  If you want to be a guest poster, please send me an e-mail with your blog URL and we'll get you on the list.  If you have previously contacted me about guest posting, and haven't yet had your turn- don't worry- you're still on the list and I'll be in contact with you shortly! :)  (but it might not hurt to send me a note again.  Mom-brain and all.)

One last bit of news- certainly not the least bit of news- is that we have a new member of our Point of View group.  Ashlee from I'm Topsy Turvy has agreed to join us!!  I could not be more excited- she has amazing projects and seemingly limitless energy and creativity and she also happens to be one of my real-life friends- I'm a lucky girl, I know. :)

So hit us with your best shot, open up the floodgates of suggestions and we'll make this year bigger and better than ever! :)
Have a great Friday!!
XOXO,
Amy
p.s.- I will have a better post about this next week, but I wanted to give you a sneak announcement of our next theme: PINTEREST!!  Anything that has inspired you from Pinterest (and if you're not on Pinterest, it can be anything inspired by a blog/ magazine/ picture whatever!)  Recipes, crafts, pictures- get started and we'll share more details next week! :)  Can't wait for this one!!!
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