Thursday, May 31, 2012

Refashion: from t-shirt to dress

Annika is quite picky about her clothes (already!).  She always wants to be "fancy", and that usually means wearing a dress.  Sometimes I'll try to get her to wear a shirt and a skirt (which I would think would also be fancy), but that's just not as good as a dress.  I'm not sure if it's the comfort of a dress, or the style, or what, but a dress is her preferred wardrobe option.  So, that leaves quite a few things in her closet that often get neglected.  One of them is this t-shirt. 

We got it second-hand from a friend, and it's so cute and soft and comfy, but for whatever reason it's never been a favorite of Annika's.  So I decided to experiment with it a little.  I didn't tell Annika what I was planning to do, in case it didn't turn out properly, and I didn't cut the shirt at all, in case that she decided that she hated the finished product and wanted the shirt back to normal.

Here's my inspiration -

You can find the tutorial at "make it and love it" - it's pretty easy (although I did make a few mistakes and had to spend some quality time with my seam ripper. :P).  It's a great idea for making those cute onesies last a little bit longer, or (in my case) giving new life to a t-shirt.

Here's my finished dress -

I used some leftover fabric for the skirt, and I didn't have quite as much as I needed, so it's not as gathered and full as it could be, but I think it turned out pretty well.  It was my first time sewing gathers, so that was a new experience.  Now for the million dollar question -- would Annika like it???

I finished it this morning while the kids were at my mother-in-law's and I brought it along with me when I went to pick them up at lunch time.  Annika LOVED it!!!  She immediately wanted to wear it. 

I think it looks really cute on her (other than the fact that skirt fabric is still a bit stiff - it needs some playing and washing to soften it up!), and I think that it will get lots of wear this summer.  I may even see if there are some other t-shirts in her closet that I can transform!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sewing projects!

 Remember a long time ago when I bought this fabric?? Well, I finally made something out of it!

I made myself an insulated casserole carrier, like the one that I made for my sister-in-law for Christmas.  The links to the tutorials I used are in that post, if anyone is interested.

Now that I've gotten my sewing machine out, I've been bitten by the sewing bug again. :)  Today Annika was at my parents' place for the afternoon and Emmett was napping and I started working on a few other projects.  I want to replace the leg elastics in a few old cloth diapers I have, and I did one today. 

It actually wasn't that difficult (there's a great tutorial for replacing AppleCheeks diapers' elastics here), and I would've done more, but I just want to test it out first and make sure that I like the way I've done it before I do a lot more.  I'm not sure why, but the leg elastics always seem to go on our cloth diapers, despite the fact that I hardly ever put them in the dryer :P.  I also got started on another project, a little something for Annika, but you'll have to wait to get a peek at that!

Monday, May 28, 2012

1000 gifts: #141-150

Here's what I'm thankful for this week:

141. Starbucks caramel macchiato on a Tuesday morning with my Y Neighbours ladies.

142. Annika's enthusiasm for planting and growing things...

143. ...and the fact that Annika's enthusiasm is starting to rub off on me (I'm actually quite excited to see if our little garden will produce anything!).

144. Free slurpees

145. Using my new sewing machine (for real) for the first time!  It was a Christmas present and it's been sitting neglected for far too long. 

146. Annika's preschool - school ended on Friday and it was a very good year for her (and I've really enjoyed it too).  I think she's learned a lot, and it's also been good for her social skills.  She really enjoys school, and I'm so thankful that there was never a fight or fuss about going to school.  By coincidence, she picked the same dress to wear on her last day as she wore on her first day.  What a difference 9 months makes!

147. Another outside project finished, thanks to my handy husband.

148. Neighbours peeking over the fence to say hello and ask for advice; other neighbours building us a new fence.

149. The 6 young people who were baptized at our church on Sunday morning.

150. Annika's questions about God and our faith that inevitably follow such an event.  I'm glad that she is interested in understanding more about God and what it means to be a Christian, and I pray that I can answer her questions in a way that makes sense to her, but is still meaningful and accurate.

Friday, May 25, 2012

This moment - Emmett's new obsession

"A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember." SouleMama


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The things we do for love

I do not have a green thumb.  Growing up I did my share of gardening and weed-pulling (my parents' yard is 5 acres), and it wasn't something that I enjoyed terribly much.  Now that I'm older and have my own yard, I don't feel the need to do a lot of gardening.  And we have a yard that is not conducive to growing much (very, very shady), so it's a pretty good fit. 


... I have a little girl who is very enthusiastic and insistent about growing her own flowers and vegetables this year.  So... the things we do for love.

Usually the only things growing in our yard are the hostas and wild ferns that grow quite nicely on their own in this little corner (this is a picture from last June, before the heat of the summer wilted everything.  Just ignore all the weeds :P).  I also have 2 whiskey barrel planters in that corner that I usually put a few flowers in, just to add a little color.  It's all relatively low maintenance, so I can handle it.  However, it's not enough for my budding little agriculturist.  It's also not enough for her to just "help out" her grandmas and grandpas with their gardens - she wants her own.
On Monday Annika went to help Carey's parents with planting their garden, and we got to work at building a little garden for Annika to call her own.  For a week or so I had been watching the sunlight and the yard, to determine which spot got the most sun and would make a good spot for growing things (I didn't want anything too close to the play structure, where it might get trampled).  I determined that right next to the deck seemed to be the sunniest (and safest) spot, so we built a little raised garden there.  Emmett also helped out. 

After we got it staked in place and ripped out the grass from underneath, we put some dirt in it (we had a few bags of topsoil in the garage), but it wasn't quite enough to fill it, so we'll need to get some more yet. 

Not bad, eh?  It's made from some old wood that Carey had lying around at work.  Hurray for repurposing!  Annika was pretty excited about it when she got home on Monday.  We had hoped to go to the greenhouse after supper on Monday to get some flowers and seeds, but they closed at 5 because it was a holiday, so we had one very disappointed little girl.  To make up for that we went to the greenhouse last night, right after supper.  She was so excited to be there, and she wanted to plant the flowers right away when we got home.  I'll admit, my first thought was "no" (there was only about half an hour until bedtime, and we weren't exactly dressed for gardening), but we decided to go ahead and plant the flowers in the barrels.

Just a note about this photo above - our back fence is missing because the neighbour tore it down on the weekend and plans to build a new one next weekend.  I'm quite excited for a new fence, since the old one was falling over and missing boards.  Also, the old fence was maybe 5 feet high, so it wasn't terribly private.

We got Annika a pair of kid-sized gardening gloves as well, which she loves.  While we were planting the flowers she was full of "advice" on how I should be doing everything (since she was now an expert, after helping out her grandparents).  We planted impatiens, a gerbera daisy (which may not grow well in the shade, but I love them and Annika wanted to have daisies as well, so we'll give it a try), and something called "monkey flowers" (or mimulus), which were picked based on their name, and the fact that they're supposed to attract butterflies (Annika is still obsessed with butterflies).

There are still quite a few ferns to come up - at least I'm hoping that they'll still come up!  When it was so hot and so dry last summer, they all wilted and fell over and dried up.  Hopefully they come back - the corner looks quite bare compared to the picture from last year.

In our vegetable garden we're going to try growing tomatoes (Annika actually got these plants for free when she was at the greenhouse with her grandparents!), carrots, peas and spinach.  We're also going to transplant our rhubarb to the garden, since it seems to be languishing in the shade (and I really want to grow my own rhubarb so we can make rhubarb milkshakes!).  I'm a little worried that the plants won't grow well, or that some animal will come and eat them before we get a chance, but I'll admit, I'm also a little excited at the prospect of having some home-grown vegetables.  There's nothing like carrots fresh from the garden, still with a little dirt on them.  I guess we'll see if Annika can make a gardener out of me yet. :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Over the weekend Emmett got a new tooth.  This is tooth #9 for him.  And he's about 2 weeks away from being 18 months old.  For those of you who don't know, this is pretty slow for teeth to come in (although I don't think it's anything to be concerned about yet - I guess I'll ask the Dr. when we go for Emmett's 18m check-up soon).  When Annika was this age, she had 12 teeth (6 on top, 6 on bottom) and got her 4 cuspids within the next month or so (yes, I compare my children and their milestones all the time - I'm not ashamed to admit it).  Emmett has 6 teeth on top and only 3 on the bottom (his 2 front teeth, plus the one molar that just broke through).  At this rate he'll be in kindergarten when he gets his 2 year old molars!

The one good thing about Emmett's teeth coming in is that while they may be slow, it has been relatively easy (knock on wood that I didn't just jinx that!).  I've heard that late teething equals easier teething, but I think his teething necklace may also have made a difference (although it's hard to say for sure).  You may recall that I won an amber teething necklace last year and Emmett has worn it almost every day (except for naps and night-time) since then and teething seems to be much easier for him than for Annika.  Definitely a lot fewer disturbed nights and doses of Tylenol!  So whether it's the necklace, or just Emmett, I can't really say, but I figure it doesn't hurt to keep the necklace on him.  And he's so funny about it - when I forget to put it on him, he gestures to his neck or looks down his shirt like he's looking for it.  He also quite enjoys playing with Annika's dress-up necklaces (and earrings!), since he doesn't know yet that necklaces aren't for boys! :)

Silly boy!

Monday, May 21, 2012

1000 gifts: it's been a while

It's been quite a long time since I've done a "1000 gifts" post, and I want to get back into the habit of doing them.  If you don't remember (I didn't), I was at #130 when I lasted posted a list, way back on November 14.  It's not like I haven't been thankful for anything since then, it's just that I haven't taken the time to record it.  It's funny how those little moments just seem to slip away when you don't take the time and acknowledge them.  So I'm going to try harder to acknowledge all the good things in my life, because there are so many.  Here's what I'm thankful for this week...

131. Rain that makes everything green and calms down my hay fever.

132. My little drummer boy (he set this all up on his own).

133. A new-found way to be creative.

134. Seeing the joy Annika gets from her dollhouse and family of wooden dolls.

135. Good news for a friend.

136. Snuggles with a sweaty baby after his nap (what is it about a sleepy, sweaty baby that is so sweet?).

137. An quiet afternoon spent alone at home (probably one of my last for a while - Annika's preschool ends this week!)

138. Homemade blueberry muffins for breakfast.

139. Our new patio furniture - the deck has been waiting and waiting for this!

140. Lots of good friends to help us "break in" the patio furniture on Sunday for lunch.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Photo Book - our Florida trip

You'll love Shutterflys award-winning photo books. Try it today.

Most of these pictures you've probably seen already, when I posted them after our vacation, but apparently Shutterfly will give me a $10 credit for sharing my photo book on my blog (it hasn't shown up yet in my account, so I'll admit, I have my doubts... I guess we'll see :P).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wooden dolls - one more thing...

One more thing about the dolls...  I forgot to mention this in my post yesterday, but I wanted to give a "shout out" to the Etsy shop where I bought the unfinished dolls. 

8 Dolls - Choose YOUR OWN family - Wooden Peg Dolls - Two 3.5" Parent Dolls and 6 Child-size Dolls

It's called "Goose Grease Undone" and you can find it here.  They also have a shop where they sell painted dolls.  There are two things I like about this shop - first is the name.  I don't know the meaning of "goose grease" to the store owners, but to me, it makes me think of this Dwight quote from "The Office" (one of my favorite shows):
"We Schrutes use every part of the goose. The meat has a delicious, smoky, rich flavor. Plus you can use the molten goose grease and save it in the refrigerator, thus saving you a trip to the store for a can of expensive goose grease."
The second thing I like about the shop is the fact that some of their dolls are fair trade.
"These dolls are brought to us through a fair trade agreement with a carpenter we met in Bogota, Colombia. We pay him directly for all of his hard work with these wonderful dolls with a share that is fairly and jointly agreed upon. The dolls are made from Urapan, a wood found and commonly used in Colombia. They are hand-chiseled and sanded on a lathe. We visited his tiny and picturesque shop where we discussed with him the design and our wishes. He happily obliged, and we are very pleased to bring you more options for creating your own personalized family of dolls!"
They also provided great customer service, shipped quickly and the dolls were exactly as pictured.  I'd definitely recommend them, if you're thinking about doing some dolls of your own. :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

The dolls are finished!

Yes, I've finally finished painting all 8 dolls and what a project it has been!  I've had a lot of fun doing it, but oh, the hours that I've spent on those little dolls!  I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I've tried to get every little detail right (but didn't necessarily succeed).  I think a good phrase to describe the dolls is "good from far, far from good." :P  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, but when I look at them up close I see all the little imperfections (which are probably just noticable to my own eyes - not like Annika has complained about anything).  So, you've met the bride and groom already, and the polka dot baby girl and the little boy in the overalls, so without further ado, here's the rest of the family:

The whole bunch...

As I mentioned before, Emmett is also quite taken with these little people, and so far Annika has actually been pretty good at sharing with him (she only shares the boys though).  The other day they were both playing quite nicely with the dolls and the dollhouse and I wanted to take a picture of it because they looked so cute, but somehow this is what I got.

Oh well. :P

I'm thinking about doing another set (I'd like to paint some to look like the "Peanuts" characters), but I think I'll take a little break before undertaking another project.  I've been seeing these little people in my sleep (which, combined with re-reading "The Hunger Games" before bed, makes for some pretty strange dreams!!).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The little boy in the overalls

I was going to wait until I had finished painting all the peg dolls before sharing any more photos (I've just got to finish up the details on the last 3), but I just couldn't wait to show you this little boy.  I think he's my favorite of them all, just because he took so much time and effort and I love his little overalls.  Annika calls him the "Emmett" doll.

As I mentioned in this post, I actually sanded all the paint off him the other day, after I decided that I didn't like how his overalls looked (they looked more like a girl's jumper than overalls).  The paint I was using was pretty thick, so I couldn't just paint over it.  So I sanded him down, thinned the paint with a little water and started fresh (oh, and I googled pictures of overalls for proper reference!).  I'm really happy with he looks now, except for the slight bluish tinge to his "skin".  When I was painting the top coat on, I realized (a little too late) that the dark blue color was bleeding into the orange and onto the bare wood of his face.  On his shirt I was able to fix it with another coat of orange, but there wasn't much I could do with his face.  I tried sanding it a little, but I really didn't want to sand off his eyes and hair and have to start over again, so I just left it as is.  I think he's still pretty cute, regardless, and it doesn't seem to bother Annika.

Like I said, I have 3 more to finish up, and on those I just need to paint on the fine details and then put on the top coat (I've been using matte Mod Podge for a top coat, in case anyone was wondering).  I'll be a little sad when they're all done, because I've really been enjoying painting them.  It's really been a labour of love. :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day

We started our Mother's Day celebrations on Saturday evening.  Carey's parents were camping for the weekend at a campground about half an hour from us, so we drove out there on Saturday to have supper with them and his sister.  Carey's mom had a few new toys to keep the kids entertained at the campsite, and this bubble-blowing gun was definitely a big hit (I think actually even the grown ups had fun with it too ;) ).

On Sunday morning we skipped Sunday School and enjoyed a bit of time at home together as a family.  Carey made me cinnamon buns (with some help from Pilsbury ;) ) and Annika made me 3 cards and a drawing.  This is the first year that she seems to really understand what Mother's Day is about, so that's really fun.  She told me that she was going to be happy and smiley and listen to me all day (which didn't actually happen, but she was pretty well-behaved most of the day).  Then we went to church, which was good except for the fact that Emmett banged his chin on the pew (twice) and knocked his two lower teeth a bit loose (and bled all over his cute "mommy rocks" shirt before I had a chance to take a picture of him in it).  I was scared that he was going to lose the teeth, but it seems to be okay now (other than the fact that it's still pretty raw and tender in his mouth - he tripped again today and started bleeding like crazy again).  The teeth might get a bit discolored though, from the trauma.  At least they're just baby teeth - they just happen to be the only teeth he has on the bottom, so I really didn't want him to lose them!!

At church all the moms got chocolate bars (yum), and I got a rose from Annika's Sunday School teacher (she had roses for all the kids to give to their moms, but we missed Sunday School, so I just got it after church).  After church we went to Wendy's for lunch with 2 other families from church that are friends of ours.  They both have kids that are a bit older than ours, so we had 2 tables - adults and kids.  Annika sat at the kids table, and I was really proud of her for doing that, because she still is a bit shy, especially in groups. 

After lunch Annika wanted to go to a greenhouse to pick out some flowers for me, but we decided that we should get Emmett home for his nap, especially with all the excitement/trauma of the morning.  We had a quiet afternoon, and by the time Emmett was up from his nap it was too late to go to a greenhouse.  So Annika picked me a lovely yellow bouquet from our front yard. ;)

For supper we ordered Chinese takeout (my request), but they were so busy that they couldn't tell us when it would be delivered.  So Carey made some Kraft Dinner for the kids while we waited for our food to arrive (it's not like the kids would've eaten the Chinese food anyway).  When the food finally arrived the kids were done eating, so we took our food outside and ate on the deck while the kids played outside.  It was a beautiful evening for it.  We spent the rest of the evening playing outside, and I tried to get a few pictures with the kids, but Emmett wasn't in a picture-taking mood.

This was a bit of a different Mother's Day for me, since both my mother and my mother-in-law were away (my parents were at their cabin for the weekend), so I was looking forward to actually being the mother on Mother's Day.  It seems so often that we're so busy with doing things for our mothers that I don't get a lot of time for just us.  Not that I'm complaining about it - I'm actually incredibly thankful to have 2 wonderful mothers in my life (and so near by) - but I was looking forward to just spending the day with my own little family.  However, I have to admit, it did seem a bit strange not to see them on Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Here comes the bride... doll

I've been slowly working away at painting the wooden dolls for Annika's dollhouse and I wanted to show off the ones that I've finished.  Here are the bride and groom dolls...

Pretty cute, eh?  Here's my inspiration for them... :)

I even tried to replicate the sparkly beading detail on my dress (which you can't really see in this picture), which is difficult to do with glitter glue, but I think it turned out not bad.  Annika was insistent that the veil cover most of the bride's hair, unlike mine that was just in the back, but I was okay with that since I wasn't really sure how to paint an "updo" on a wooden doll!  The veil is superglued on to her head, so hopefully it stays on.  I think the little groom doll turned out quite well, except for the fact that it looks like he has "spock" ears (I was trying to copy Carey's sideburns).

And here's the little baby girl doll that I showed you earlier.  I painted polka dots on her dress and put a little flower in her hair.

I'm in the process of painting the little baby boy (whose overalls have given me no end of grief - I actually sanded all the paint off him yesterday and started fresh!) and the little girl in her blue dress.  Then I have 3 more to go!  And I'm thinking I may have to get Emmett a few dolls of his own - he sure likes Annika's, which doesn't always go over so well with her!