Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Journey (monday is Mom-day 3)

Sunday, January 30, 2011
This is my oldest. She is such a beauty! She has also been one of my greatest challenges, but those challenges have made me the mother I am today.
When she was just 7 days old, she cried non-stop for 7 hours. She would pause for nursing, then go immediately back to crying. My mom was panicked and it worried me a great deal too! Luckily I had an appt with the Dr. the next day for a regular newborn check up and I told him all about her episode. He checked her very carefully, turned to me and said, "I'm sorry, there's nothing wrong with her, sometimes babies are just like that."
While relieved that there was nothing wrong, I wasn't sure I was going to survive. Fast forward 18 months. Her check up was horrible- kicking and screaming (I'm pretty sure she bruised the ribs of the Dr.) he even nick-named her the "hurricane". Great.
Family events and gatherings were very stressful. Any time one of the kids started crying, the first thing anyone said was, "Where's H.?" It's not easy being the mother of the family bully.
I could go on, and on. But I won't. She was Hard with a capital "H". But, because of how difficult she was I learned early on that discipline was going to be the only thing that saved us. I learned to get on my knees and plead for divine help. I learned how to re-set her nurse-maid's elbow. (when she would have a fit and flail her arms, it would sometimes dislocate her elbow- fun stuff)
I learned how to get vaseline out of hair. (corn starch and shampoo, lots of corn starch, lots of shampoo) She taught me a lot! At times I wonder if we're going to survive (both of us), but then I get a glimpse of the person she's becoming and it gives me hope.
This was a homework assignment I found in her backpack, just before Christmas. The assignment was to write a persuasive letter to Santa asking him for a gift for someone else:
Dear Santa,
My parents are having a hard time. My brother has chicken poxs, we are running out of money, and don't have money for bills. All I'm asking for is a gift card. If you're wondering what kind, we don't care. I hope you have time to think about it. Hope my parents get excited on Christmas morning.
Your Friend,
Hannah Chappell
(yes my son had chicken pox, yes he had the immunization, yes it is hard to be poor, to tell your kids you're poor, and to tell the world you're poor, but I think this story is worth it.)
This journey of motherhood has been really hard for me. But I have come to know that parenting isn't just about discipline and teaching the children: parenting is an incubator for ME. It is MY chance to learn lessons that can be gained in no other way. It is my opportunity to follow Heavenly Father's footsteps and learn to be more like Him, as He allows me to privilege of caring for His children- as My children here on Earth. It is a gift and a blessing and one I wouldn't trade for anything- no matter how searing the pain is at times. And one last truth I have come to know, is that because My children are His children, He will not leave me alone to struggle on. He has a real and vested interest in them and me and He will help us all along the way. And that's something I know for sure.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Before and After- faux chenille pillow part 2

Friday, January 28, 2011

When I finished my faux chenille pillow, I was so excited to post about it (and kind of tired of looking at it at the same time :) ) I took pictures after just one wash. I was also kind of worried about how it was going to finish fraying, and I liked it so much the way it was, I didn't want to mess with a good thing. But...then I saw a few stray strings and started pulling, and next thing I knew, I had spent 2 hours pulling strings while I chatted with my husband and the entire pillow was completely frayed. And know what? I LOVE IT EVEN MORE!!

Here's a close up of the before and after. It's just so FLUFFY! (anyone seen Despicable Me?) And, in the mean time, I've also realized that I never shared my inspiration for this pillow so now's my chance. I first got the how-to on making the faux chenille from MADE and I want to thank Kimbo at A Girl and A Gluegun for reminding me of where I saw it (for the life of me- I never remember where I see things, I just file them away in my brain and then when I need to know where it came from- it's gone!)
One last (okay maybe two last) thing(s): The reason I frayed the pillow by hand is that when you use the washing machine and dryer, the cross fibers tend to get pilled and little and it keeps the fabric from fraying all the way. If I were doing a blanket or other larger project, I would just live with that, but since this was relatively small, doing it by hand let me get all the way down to just the fluff!
And, if you want to see all the instructions for how I made this pillow, you can do so here.
That is all.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Felt Happy Birthday Banner Tutorial

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
So, here is this week's "Theme"day Thursday project: as promised- the Happy Birthday Banner Tutorial! I can't really qualify this tutorial, but I do have a request- if you are going to make these to sell, please change them up and make them your own, since I'll be selling them in my ETSY shop (hopefully I'll get them listed next week!).
If you're interested in purchasing one from me leave a comment here and for the next week I'll ship it for free.

On to the tute.
I make my flags 10" high by 6" across at the top. To create the flags, I line the felt (cut to 10" high) up on my cutting mat. Using my ruler, I line up the corner, with the mark 3" over- as shown in the picture- and cut along that line. I then line up the ruler with the point I just cut, and swing it over 6" from the original corner. Gosh I hope that makes any sense at all. Another option is to make a template using a piece of paper, cut it 10" high by 6" wide. Fold in half and cut from the two free corners on the bottom, up to the folded side on top. Cut out your flags. You will need 13 various colored flags. I double the felt on mine, so I actually cut out 26 flags for each banner. I like the body the extra fabric gives. Since I make these to sell, I usually just use white or cream for the back- since I buy my felt off the bolt at Joann's I can use a coupon for one cut, and so I get one big cut of either of those colors.
Take two flags (if you're doubling up) and sew them together. I like to use a zigzag stitch, just for fun. Feel free to do what you want. If you want to add trim to your flags, like ric rac or pom pom trim, this is the place to do it. The felt will most likely stretch in some places. Just try to keep the flags as even and flat as you can while sewing, then go back and trim up any light felt you can see peeking out behind your colored felt. {as shown in this picture}

Now it's time to cut out your letters. type out the letters in your favorite font. {I made my templates years ago and I have no idea what fonts I used- I know I used a Cricut though, so I'm not going to provide templates, since I'm pretty sure they wouldn't like that. - Sorry!} have great fonts- I think smiley monster would look so great on a happy birthday banner. Print out the letters the size you want them (remember they will need to fit on your flags!). I would print out just the outline, to save ink- but I'm cheap that way. Then, take your paper and pin, pin, pin it to the felt you are using for the letters (in my case, cream).
Now take your scissors and cut out on the lines. Make sure the felt doesn't fold up under your scissors-especially little edges or curls- they'll get cut off. (I've done it so many times, I've lost track) I use cheap IKEA kitchen scissors because I don't want my nice fabric scissors to get dull from cutting paper.

Next, take scraps of different colors of felt and cut out your embellishment pieces. Add any other decorations you would like. I use seed beads to add just a little sparkle to mine- I've also used scrapbooking brads. If you are interested in the template for the embellishments I use, either leave me a comment on this post, or send me an e-mail (address on the right of the blog) and I will get it to you.

Arrange the flags in your desired color pattern. Place the letters on the flags in order and glue them down. I just use tacky glue- it's cheap and works great! Tip: leave the letters in place on the flag and just lift up pieces at a time to add glue to- if you try to do the whole letter at once, it's floppy and hard to place correctly. Even though the glue does dry clear- it leaves hard spots on the flags that are noticeable if you have to move the letters around. Once all the letters are in place, glue the embellishments down.

Allow the glue to dry. I made a template for marking where to cut the holes for the ribbon, but really you can just eyeball it. Use sharp scissors to just poke through a slit in both upper corners. I cut my ribbon 12" for the middle flags (you need 9) and 4' for the end flags (you need 4) I use the 1/4" or 1/8" Offray ribbon and cut 3 different colors for each flag. That's just me. Another option is to just cut one long piece of ribbon and thread all the flags onto that.

Here's the whole banner {this is one I made a long time ago- I used different colors for the letters for a different look- usually I use the same color for all the letters}. I tried to keep the tutorial short, but if you have any questions, PLEASE ask it in the comments and I'll make sure to answer it! If you make one of these I'd love to see it- and even feature it over here on my blog!

linking up to Tidy Mom's I'm Lovin' It Friday! and Tatertots and Jello Weekend Wrap up party

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Faux Chenille Valentine Pillow

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
So, I think this will be the LAST Valentine pillow tutorial I am going to post this year- but that's not written in stone, and I had one last idea....we'll see. ;) To make this pillow you will need a shape- in my case a heart and fabric. :) I used cotton, but you could use flannel as well.
Pin your template to the fabric to cut out. I cut out six layers of the heart.

Center your shape on the pillow front.

Sew lines down the shape at your desired width. Mine were about 7/8" but I would probably go smaller next time- I was just following the lines of circles on the fabric. I think 3/4" or 5/8" would probably be better.

Cut between the sewn lines. Make sure you only cut the shape fabric, and not the pillow fabric. Wash and dry. You will have lots and lots of straggly string. Give your pillow a hair cut. You may want to wash it again. Finish the pillow back and sew to the front. (I was worried about the red bleeding so I washed the front alone, but you might want to wait until you sew the whole cover together, so you don't have to worry about the front panel fraying.)

Stuff in your pillow form- and enjoy! I Big Puffy Heart this pillow!

*edited- I spent a couple hours hand fraying this pillow the rest of the way- go check it out here! (it looks so awesome!)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Monday is "Mom"-day 2

Sunday, January 23, 2011

First off- my unsolicited product review: Moon dough is MESSY!! Yes, it never dries out. Yes it has a fancy barn that molds little animals if you do it right. Yes it was exciting. And YES it was ALL OVER my floor. Luckily it was pretty easy to clean up (with the vacuum) but not really something I'm super excited to get out again- (but it might not be too bad next time- most of it is in the vacuum!)
Now, on to the real post.
Sometimes when you are talking to someone, or sending an e-mail, you discover a kernel of truth in something you just said.
I was e-mailing a blog friend the other day and told her, "I'm trying to forgive myself for not being the mother that I thought I would be."
I have thought about that over and over in the past week.
I did a lot of babysitting in my time. I took psychology in school. I had a mother. I thought that was probably enough to prepare me for motherhood. No one told me that I should probably get a degree in child rearing because my biology degree would do zero for my parenting skills!
I always wanted to be a mother. I didn't bother applying for Med School because after taking the MCAT and seeing how intense all these other people were, I realized that I really did just want to be a mom and I should let someone who had a much greater passion than I did take my "seat". (assuming I even got in- lol)
I knew I would be a mother, I hoped I could be a mother, and then.... I became a mother.
This was not exactly what I signed up for. I was not prepared for this. And ever since I had my first baby over 9 years ago- I have been at war with myself.
I get frustrated that it's not easy, like I thought it would be. I get discouraged that some days I don't even like it very much (I should qualify this a little by saying that it's mostly the "home" part of the stay-at-home mom gig that I'm not always loving- housework and me are NOT BFFs!). I feel like a failure because so many others seem to accomplish so much when I do so very little.
Sometimes I get so frustrated- I even say these things out loud.
And then, something happens. Instead of judgement and scorn- I get nods of agreement. Instead of shock and horror- smiles and maybe even a few tears. Instead of put-downs - sweet, kind and gentle women reach down and lift me up. Sometimes they just put me on my feet- and other times, they carry me on their shoulders a little while, until I'm ready to stand.
And at that moment I realize that I am not alone. And that even if maybe I'm not the supermom I thought I would be- crafting with my children and singing and always smiling and fresh cookies after school and vacations and swimming and on and on. Even if I'm not really even very close to the image of the mother I thought I would be- maybe the mother I am is enough.
And as that realization hits right between the eyes, I realize that by myself I will never measure up to the ideal mother I thought I would one day be, but if I take God's hand and let Him lead me, and with a few encouraging pats on my behind by dear friends and family- together- God and me and the women who surround me- all of us together will be the mother I always thought I would be-and that will be more than enough.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Side-Tie Pillow tutorial

Friday, January 21, 2011
My niece is such a special gal. She's smiley and kind and such a good friend to my oldest. Her mom is in the process of gathering things to re-do her room and she asked me to make a couple pillows for her. I asked my niece to pick out some pillows she would like me to make for her, and this tied pillow was one of them. I have to admit- this is one of my favorite pillows to make as well. I love that it lets me show off a fabric, while adding texture with the bows. And, since I was making yet another one (you can see the others I have made here and here) I figured I'd do a tutorial, so you could make your own too.

First you will need to start with a pillow form. This will dictate the measurements of the fabric you are cutting. The pillow I made was 12" by 16". You will need to cut: 1 pillow back- the measurements of your pillow + 1" (mine was 13" X 17"), 2 pieces for the front- take the length of the front piece (on mine 17), divide by 2 (I rounded up to 9) and add 4"- (my pieces were 13" X 13"). This will give you enough off-set that the bows will be on the side- but you are welcome to adjust the measurements (make one longer so the bows will be even further to the edge). Then you will need six ties. I am using a wool felt for this pillow, so I'm not worried about fraying- so mine are 13" by 3/4", but if you are using a fabric that frays, make the ties 1 1/2" so you can fold in the edges. (you can make the ties longer if you want a larger bow- but I'd keep them no longer than about 16" or they just get too long)

Take your ties and fold them in half. {If it's a fabric that frays you will press this fold, open it up, bring the raw edges into the fold line and press those folds. Then re-fold the center crease so the raw edges are tucked into the center. Fold up one short end into the crease so the raw edge is hidden.} Then edge stitch both sides of the tie- keeping the folded edges as close together as you can. Set them aside.

Take your two front pieces. Hem one side of each front panel by first folding the edge over 1", press, then fold over another 1". Top stitch at 3/4" and edge stitch the fold. (make sure the sides you're hemming are the ones you want to overlap.

Lay the back panel of the pillow on a flat surface. Line up the top pieces so they overlap, using the back panel as a guide for the width of the pillow.

Take the front panel that will be on top of the pillow and fold it in half along the hemmed side. Mark the center with a pin.

Decide how far apart you want your ties to be- remembering that you will be sewing around the perimeter with a 1/2" seam allowance to finish the pillow. Mine were 3". Mark each measurement from the center pin.

Now we're going to place the ties. If you are using a fabric that frays- you will pin them down as shown by the tie with the pink pin, folding over the end about 1/2". When placing the tie onto the panel that is underneath, I usually put the tie about 1/4" from the edge of the top panel. Pin all the ties in place and sew them down.

We're almost done! But this is the step that always makes me stop and think- so follow along with me! Take your back panel and place it on a flat surface RIGHT SIDE UP. Now take the front panel that will be on the TOP (ties should be sewn close to the hemmed edge) and place it on the back panel RIGHT SIDE DOWN. Match up the corners and edges and pin in place. Now take the remaining panel and pin it down. Make sure all the ties are tucked into the middle and won't get caught in the seam, or interfere with the placement of the front panels.

Here it is all ready to be sewn. Sew around the entire pillow using a 1/2" seam allowance.

Clip all the corners and turn the pillow right side out. Use a tool to push out the corners as much as you can. Now just insert your pillow form and tie your bows!

Some more shots of the pillows. I'm loving this gray, now I'm wondering where in my house I can put some!

If you have any questions, leave a comment or e-mail me. Some of the steps sound complicated, but they're really not. The trickiest part is really the placement of the panels when you go to make the pillow- but that could just be my own mental block ;)!
Have Fun!

Linking up to Tatertots and Jello

topsy turvy tuesdaysPoint of View: A Creative Collaboration,a creative collaboration,point of view,point of view a creative collaboration

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Cards and a WINNER

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I warned you earlier that I had been thinking of doing a couple of "theme" days where I stick to a common topic on that day- (i.e. Mondays are going to be "Mom"-days).
The other theme day I thought I would do is "Theme"-day Thursdays. Each month I will choose a theme and each Thursday's post will be centered around that theme. This will be a crafty theme (don't worry- I'm not going to wax profound EVERY day over here!).
So even though January is almost over- I've decided that the theme for January will be Birthdays! One of my goals for this year is to do a better job of remembering and CELEBRATING the birthdays of the important people in my life- from friends to family. So, to get started I thought I would make a bunch of birthday cards that I could have on hand and hopefully get into the mail on time.

I love the bright colors of this polka-dot paper, so I had a BUNCH of it on hand and wanted to use it up.

The shapes were cut with my Cricut and were too small for the original project I was going to use them for- but I had a TON of them- so I decided to use them up.

These cards I made using my 3" scallop punch (I LOVE that thing!)

I was trying to use up scraps and things I already had, and made quite a dent- I think I made about 30 cards so far.

Now, for the Winner of the Banner from last week: Number 15- Mandy! I've already been in touch with her and the banner will be in the mail soon! For those of you who didn't win- don't worry- a tutorial is on the way and will be the post for next week's "Theme"-day Thursday! (and if you don't want to make one- I'll also be making some available for purchase!)
Thanks for coming by!

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