Monday, January 27, 2014

On the Road to Recovery

Monday, January 27, 2014
Hi!  I'm Amy and I'm a recovering enabler, nagger and yeller.  I've been in recovery for about a week.  I'm definitely a work in progress, and I still have a long way to go, but I've seen indications that this is the right way for me to go.

This morning was a perfect example.  

I have decided that if I want my children to be self motivated, I need to give them the opportunity to learn how to be that way.  I can't nag them into submission.  So, I have told my boys what tasks are required of them in the morning before school.  I have given them a time that they are expected to be ready by so we can have our family prayer.  If they are not ready before then they risk missing out on company for their walk to school and the potential for a ride.  

The trick here is for me to allow them the chance to realize there are consequences for not managing their time.  I have been really surprised at how difficult it is to bite my tongue and stop constantly being on top of them and what they are doing.

30 minutes before they needed to be ready both boys were still not dressed.  They were upstairs and I could hear the distinctive sounds of Nerf guns being discharged.  I clenched and unclenched my hands, took a deep breath and didn't say a word.  Man!  That was hard!

I was sure that this morning would be the day they finally realized the error of their ways.  They would endure having to be late for school and not getting a warm ride in the neighbor's car.  Secretly I was kind of hoping it would go down that way so they would finally learn.

To my surprise they were ready to go on time.  It took some running around right at the end, but I didn't have to say anything to them, they looked at the time and got moving on their own.

I guess it was me doing the learning.  Maybe my way of doing things- just getting them done already- isn't the only way.  Perhaps enjoying the process is just as big a part of every day as getting things done.  And maybe, just maybe, they have it down more than I give them credit for.  Maybe.

This afternoon wasn't quite as great.  Lots more time wasted.  But they didn't get angry with me when friends came knocking and they couldn't play yet because they weren't done.  So, maybe even that was a win.  They knew whose responsibility it was, and it wasn't me.  

We're definitely on the road to where we want to be.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Tween Tote Tutorial

Friday, January 24, 2014
This post was originally posted on The Ribbon Retreat blog.  All of the fabric used was supplied by The Ribbon Retreat but the tutorial is my own.  I have provided links to the materials used as a help and courtesy, there is no compensation on my part for purchases made through those links.  Now that the disclosures are out of the way, let's make a bag!

I have a 12 year old daughter and she's amazing.  I wanted to make a bag for her that is big enough to hold her essentials, but that's still fun and youthful.  I hate that they grow up so fast! :)  

So, here's my tutorial for the Tween Tote.  A fun bag that's easy to personalize so even though it's small, it packs a big punch of style. 

 The first step is always choosing fabrics. :)  For me it's the most fun AND most challenging part.  

Some tips to keep in mind:

This bag will be used frequently.  Choose fabrics for the outside of the bag that don't have a lot of white space so the dirt and wear doesn't show as much.

If you choose a directional fabric, like the floral in my bag, you'll have to add in a couple of steps, if you don't want to have to worry about it, choose fabrics that don't have an obvious direction.

You will need 3/4 total yards of fabric (I used Moxie by FreeSpirit).  If you are using multiple prints, make sure you purchase fat quarters or half yards so you have the width you will need.  If you are using a directional fabric, you may wish to purchase extra fabric to make sure you have enough to adjust for the directionality.

You will also need 1/2 yard each of fusible fleece and a medium weight fusible interfacing.  I have used Craft Fuse by Pellon.  

Depending on how you want to embellish the flap, you may also need additional notions, like ribbon or felt. 

The finished bag measures approx. 9" wide X 7" tall X 2" deep and is intended to be worn across the body as a messenger bag.  All seams are 1/2" unless otherwise noted. 

 Now let's cut some fabric.   
You will notice that the fusible fleece is cut smaller than the fabric pieces, this will reduce bulk in the seams and help the pieces come together a bit easier.

1.  Main Body of Bag:
3- 12" wide X 18" tall pieces- one each of exterior and interior fabrics and interfacing*
1- 11" X 17" piece of fusible fleece

* if you are using directional fabric, you will need 2- 12" wide by 9 1/2" tall pieces of fabric

2.  Bag Flap
3- 10" wide X 9" tall pieces- one each of exterior and interior fabrics and interfacing
1- 9" X 8" piece of fusible fleece

3.   Pocket Pieces
4- 9" wide X 6" tall pieces of fabric- 2 for outside pocket and 2 for inside pocket
2- 9" wide X 6" tall pieces of interfacing
2- 8" X 5" pieces of fusible fleece

4. Strap
2- 5" wide by 18" tall pieces of fabric
1- 5" wide by 13" tall piece of fabric*

*You may wish to adjust the length of the strap to suit the person it's intended for, just make sure to add 1" for every seam to the over all measured length.  My daughter is fairly tall.  If your tween is smaller, you may want to shorten it, if you're making it for yourself (and who could blame you?) you may want to add some length.

2- 1 1/8" wide by 38" long pieces of fusible fleece and interfacing*

*if you need to use multiple pieces to get the length correct (which you probably will) add a couple extra inches to the total length so you can overlap the pieces when you fuse them to the strap.  Also, you will need to adjust this length if you have adjusted the length of the strap.

Prep Work

 I promise that the prep work takes longer than the actual assembly of the bag, but the interfacing and fleece will give the bag body and shape.  Hang in there with me. :)

  • Fuse the fleece to the outside pieces of the bag and pockets- the pocket piece that will show. (don't fuse the fleece to the strap or flap yet)*
*If using directional fabric for the body of the bag, sew the two pieces together first, matching up the "bottom" of each piece and sewing that seam.  Press the seam open.
  • Fuse the interfacing to the inside pieces of the bag, pockets and flap. (you'll just have the strap pieces left)

  •  Sew the fabric pieces together, putting the shorter piece in the center of the strap.*  Press seams open.
*if using a directional fabric, make sure the "top" of the print is sewn to the center piece.
  • Press the strap in half, then open the strap and press each half in toward the center fold.
  • Open the strap and place the fusible fleece on one of the center quarters and the interfacing on the other center quarter, with the fusible side toward the fabric.  
  • Re-fold the creases and press to fuse.  Top stitch
  • Add a second row of stitching if you like.
Flap and Pocket

 1. Using a mug or other round object, round the bottom corners of the outside, inside and fleece flap pieces.  Center the fleece on the outside flap piece and fuse.  If sewing embellishments on the flap, do it now.  (Keep in mind the 1/2" seam allowance when placing embellishments.)  Place the flap pieces right sides together and sew around sides and bottom, leave the top open.

2.  Clip the rounded corners of flap.  I use pinking shears to do this, but you can just cut notches into the seam allowance of the curves.  Be careful not to clip your stitching.  Turn flap right side out and press seams.

3.  Pair up your pocket pieces- one should have fleece and the other should have interfacing- and pin.  Sew around all 4 sides leaving an opening for turning. (the space between the yellow pins in the picture, on the bottom of the pocket. Pay attention if your fabric has direction)  Clip corners, turn right side out and press.

4.  Top stitch the sides and bottom of the flap and the top of the pockets.  I added an additional stitch line for decorative purposes on both.

Bag Assembly

Now that all our pieces are together we are ready to build a bag.  This is where it gets exciting!

  •  Take your inside bag piece and the interior pocket.  On one short end of the bag piece, position the pocket 2" down and 2" in from the side.  It should be centered across the width, if not adjust the position slightly.
  • Pin pocket in place. 
  • Repeat for outside bag piece and outside pocket.
  • Sew around sides and bottom of pockets, closing the opening left for turning.  Back stitch at the top of both sides to reinforce stitching.
  • If you want to add a pen pocket to the inside of the bag, add an additional line of stitching 1 1/4" from one of the sides of the pocket toward the center.

  • Take both the inside and outside bag pieces and fold them in half, bringing the short ends together.  
  • Pin the sides.
  • Sew both side seams on each piece.
Create the boxed bottom of bag

  • Mark a rectangle on the bottom corners of the bag interior 1" up and 1 1/2" in from the side.
  • Repeat for bag exterior.
  • Cut out rectangles from interior and exterior of the bag. (4 total)
  • Flatten out the rectangles by pulling from the corners to create a straight line.  
  • Pin.* 
*Pin the seam allowance toward the pocket on the bag exterior and away from the pocket on the bag interior. 
  • Sew along all 4 corners.
  • Open the side seams and press flat.  You will want to press on the fabric side as the iron will melt the fleece and interfacing.
Adding flap and strap
Take the exterior bag piece and turn it right side out.
Press the bottom corner seams.
Flatten the top of the bag so the side seams are at the sides, with the pocket facing up.
Center the flap along the top seam of the bag with the inside fabric facing up, it should be approx. 1" in from each side. Pin in place.
 Center the ends of the strap on each of the side seams.  The side of the strap with the fusible fleece should be away from the bag.  Pin in place.

Baste the strap and flap to the outside of the bag using a 1/4" seam allowance.

  • Take the outside of the bag and put it inside the interior of the bag.  
  • Make sure the flap is toward the pocket of the interior. 
  • Line up the side seams and pin.  
  • Then go around the rest of the bag and line up the top edges and pin.  Use a lot of pins.  
  • Sew around the top of the bag, leaving an opening for turning.  It's easier if the opening is on the side of the bag opposite the flap.
  • Turn the bag right side out.
  • Push the interior of the bag inside the exterior of the bag.
  • Press along the top seam.
  • Top stitch the top seam of the bag, closing the opening left for turning.  Again, I added an additional row of stitching for decoration.
Some detail shots:

 Here you'll find the scrunched flower tutorial.
The back of the bag.

 I wanted to show how the fabric selection can completely change the feel of the tote.  This tote was made up in Ashbury Heights by Doohikey Designs for Riley Blake, with just a hint of Gracie Girl on the back pocket.

 I also have a tutorial for the pom pom flower.  For this one I used strips of felt 2 1/2" wide.

I hope you enjoy making this small but style packed tote! 


Linked up to Too Cute tuesday at Funky Polkadot Giraffe

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Navy and Turquoise Card Organizer

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I've decided that navy is one of my favorite neutrals.  Not as stark as black, not as muddy as brown.  I makes the bright colors I love just pop.  I think you'll definitely be seeing more of this color in my sewing.

What about you?  What's your favorite neutral?


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why I'm quitting my day job...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I'm not even sure I'm going to give them 2 weeks notice.

Before you start panicking that I'm leaving my family, let me reassure you that I have no intention of doing that.

The job I plan to quit is the job of Chief Enabling Officer.  The job mostly involves nagging, yelling, cajoling, reminding, hurrying, watching, checking, reminding, nagging, and repeat.

It's a lousy job and the pay is terrible.  Benefits include (but are not limited to): dependent, lazy, entitled, whiny, incompetent children.

I'm sure you're wondering why I'd want to quit.

Parenting is my #1 job, it's my main focus and where I put 90% of my time and energy.  But honestly, it's the most important job I've never had any training for.  It's a learn-as-you-go kind of gig and sometimes you find yourself heading swiftly down the wrong path.  It's time to make a U-turn.

I read a few books over the summer about parenting.  Some were great, others not so much, but most of them were on the topic of Entitled kids- kids who feel like everything is "owed" them, should be handed to them without any effort on their part and who think life should be easy.  The books contend, and I agree, that it's a major problem in our society right now.  I was looking for answers on how to combat this problem in my own family, where I could put the blame, who needed to be brought back into line.  The answer I found?

That person is me.

I try to give my kids responsibility, they have jobs every day.  They are in charge of their homework.  They are asked to help look after their little sisters so I can work.  Seems like I'm doing okay, right?  But when you look a little closer- sure they have jobs, but I micro- manage their execution.  They should do a good job!  They have to do homework, but I nag and cajole them to "Get It Done!"

With one hand I give them responsibility.  Tell them they can do it on their own.  Promise rewards of confidence and ability.  But with the other hand I pin them down.  It's like giving them wings made of lead.

And, I've decided to quit.

It's scary.  You don't want your kids to fail.  You don't want them to get discouraged.  You want them to be happy and safe.  But wrapped up in the cocoon of our love and smothering parenting- they never learn to fly.  They need to struggle and overcome to obtain the strength needed to head out on their own to new horizons.  I've had moments when I've been able to let this happen, but in the day to day execution of our lives- I'm a big fat failure.

So here's the job I'm applying for:

Life coach/ cheerleader

Requirements include: 
  • Teaching staff to properly execute jobs, then allow them to work independently with minimal oversight.  
  • Communicate expectations and responsibilities along with rewards and penalties then allow staff to make decisions.  
  • Based on decisions in previous exercise, execute reward and penalty program. 
  Confident capable children who know how to manage time, understand rewards and consequences and work independently.
  Warning: may also result in free time and a clean(er) home. 

Notes:  This a difficult job.  There will be much resistance from the staff as more responsibility is placed on their shoulders.  There will be comparisons to other "companies" who run differently.  It will require dedication and commitment to the program on your part.  It may require a significant output of energy in the short term to teach and communicate.  It will require you to watch your staff stumble and fall without your interference.  Executing the penalty system will be much harder than executing the reward system, but it is critical they are given equal importance.  Above all, it will require an understanding that you are not raising children- you are raising future adults.

I'm not sure I'm qualified for the job, but I think I'm ready to give it a try.  The payout is much too important to wait any longer.

Do you want to join me?  Or at least give me some on-the-job training?  I'd love to hear your ideas and advice in the comments.


p.s.  If you're interested in the books I read- 
Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma
Help! Around the House by Don Aslett
The Entitlement Trap by Richard and Linda Eyre


Friday, January 10, 2014

Perpetual Birthday Calendar

Friday, January 10, 2014
On Christmas Eve I had the opportunity to be a guest over on the blog Tatertots and Jello.  Jen is one of the sweetest bloggers I know and it was thrilling to be able to have a project over there.  I wanted to share it here in case any of you missed it, it being a sort of major holiday and all. :)

One of my goals for the new year is to be more thoughtful and send actual birthday cards in the mail.  There is just something so fun about getting a hand written note mixed in with all the bills and junk mail.  But, in order to really follow through, I decided I needed to come up with a way to remember when those events are coming up.  

A perpetual calendar is made once and then it's done forever.  All you have to do is add in new babies or friends to the list to keep it current.  And this quick project will give you one that is not only functional, but cute as well.

Here's what you'll need:

6 copies of the blank monthly pages found here, printed onto card stock or heavy paper.


Scrapbook paper, stickers and any other embellishments you like.

A clipboard or some other way to keep the pages together.

 Once you have printed off your pages, you will need to cut them out.  After that, it is just a matter of embellishing them as you like.  I used papers, thickers and embellishments from American Crafts.  I chose to have the colors for each page reflect the month and season on it, but you could also create pages that co-ordinate with your decor.

Keep in mind, that if you are using a clipboard to hold the pages together, you might want to use flat stickers and embellishments to prevent the pages from becoming bulky.

You can see that my pages stand out quite a bit on mine.  I found this darling ringed clipboard by Maggie Holmes from American Crafts, and I love that it lets me go wild with my embellishments.

Once all the pages are finished, just go back and add in the dates that are important to you.  I like to leave room in between names so that if someone new comes into my life, I can make sure the birthdays stay in order.  It helps with the remembering problem I seem to have.

Place your finished calendar and a new pen in a cellophane bag and you have a wonderful and thoughtful gift for anyone.  Or, make up a bunch and give them to your girlfriends throughout the year for their birthday gift.  See, now I've got you ahead of the game. :)


Linked up to the Party Bunch at Whipperberry, The Answer is Chocolate's BFF Open House Link Party. Too Cute Tuesday at Funky Polkadot Giraffe.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Goals are more than dreams and wishes....

Monday, January 6, 2014
I love the new year.  The possibilities, the growth it will hold.  I can't help but view it as Anne of Green Gables when she said, "Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it."  There is a whole year full of unmarked days, ready to be filled and lived and remembered.

It's a very romantic view to be sure. But I can't help getting caught up in the chance to start fresh.  So many things in my life could use refining and adjusting.  And today seems like a perfect place to start.

After reading this article, I'm adjusting my plans for the new year.  Instead of focusing on Goals per se, I'm going to focus more of my energy and efforts on the systems I hope will take me there.  Instead of worrying so much about a number on the scale, for example, I'm going to focus on creating systems in my life that will increase how active my family is and how healthy we eat.  

And instead of worrying about the numbers associated with my blog, I'm going to work on systems that will allow me to create new and interesting (I hope) content and projects that will help me achieve my greater goal of sharing my voice and contributing light and joy to the online world.

So here's to dreaming and wishing and making solid plans that will take us there.  

Where will you go in 2014?

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