Five and a Seahawks Lego Dress


We made it to age five! When the tough parts were tough, I would chant to myself, make it to five, make it to five. It helped. Although now that I’m here, I need a new goal.

Since this is the signature style challenge, I’m going to try to boil down my aesthetic into a handful of words. (with the help of my friends, because I have never really put my aesthetic into words.)

Special occasion, fun, wearable, whimsical. It also has to photograph and my kids have to be excited. I like subtle themes, like an elegant take on a loud theme, or mixing up my seasons, or giving an impression without going costume.

Just like every previous birthday, I sewed up something for the birthday girl. It’s a mixture of their current self, my taste, and what we want to do for a photo shoot, and as a bonus it’s easy to buckle around in a car seat. I’ve also slowly moved toward more earth-friendly practices. This outfit is the most organic so far, but also the toughest to track down!

First, the pattern. I saw this dress on Pinterest. It was everything I was looking for – pockets, long sleeves, football colors (the stars from the NFL logo, and the neon green for the Seahawks). Emmeline actually designed a dress on paper for me, and this was close to my interpretation.

What a goose chase though! The Pinterest image had no link, but I was able to track down another website with a similar vibe, and in a foreign language. I almost gave up after Google Translate gave me several dead ends, but I high lighted a few phrases and kept searching, using Google Image mostly. And then, bingo! I found the blogger who had made it. But….it wasn’t her pattern, so I dug though her old posts to see if she had a link to the pattern or a name, and she did: the Antoinette. Only to find out it was a limited run on the pattern a year before. *facepalm*
The pattern maker had others with a similar element, and I toyed with patching them all together, but that didn’t sound fun at all. Then I really looked at it. I could make this without a pattern…or rather, I could make up my own! I had done it before with pants using fabulously free and informative online tutorials, so I broke it down to what I needed: a long-sleeve top, a collar, horseshoe pockets, a gathered skirt, and bias tape. I had a pattern for a collar from the Josephine Blouse via Violette Field Threads. I had a bias tape tool and a tutorial, and I was on my way.

Next, the fabric. I wanted to duplicate the stars fabric, but I just couldn’t find anything that with that exact size and spacing. So I went to Spoonflower to see if someone had a similar fabric they designed. There were a lot of star fabrics, so just for fun I changed gears and looked at Lego fabric. The kid loves Legos as much as she loves Seahawks, so I thought if I couldn’t find a subtle, yet football-inspired fabric, I would try Lego. Then I found it! A Lego fabric in Seahawks colors!! Who knew this even existed! I ordered two yards in the organic cotton knit. Main fabric, done.


Onto…the pants fabric. I own a fabulous pair of posh pants from Texture Clothing in Bellingham. And they’re this beautiful tea green color that I wanted. They also sell the fabric they use, but when I checked, they were all out of this particular green. I usually struggle with fabric for Emmeline, but usually when I find what I want, I just order it. Not so here. I used every ounce of research skills I had to get a yard of this fantastic hemp/cotton/lycra blend fabric. I used Make-It Love-it’s leggings tutorial.

Lastly, shoes. I really did pull this together from all over the United States. The trouble with waiting until January to buy shoes is that the major holiday sales have depleted a lot of the sizes, especially in the older kids. And out of all the silver shoes on See Kai Run and Pediped, I had to have a particular one from Pediped. And every website was out of her size. It took me a lot of searching to find a store in Alabama that carried them, but when I ordered the pair I wanted, I found out they were out of the size, but had the next size up. Thank heaven for fiberfill! I was able to stuff some in the toes of her shoes for a nice fit. The shiny and matte grey and the flower gave the whole look a nice texture, and reminded me of the grey numbers on the Seahawks jerseys. Little sister is wearing See Kai Run Kanoa in blue. She calls them her “hee-hock” shoes.

I love how these pieces turned out, and I even had time to sew sleeves onto a consignment shop top for little sister with some leftover piece of the hemp/cotton/lycra green tea fabric. It makes me so happy that after two months, Emmeline still reaches into the closet for her ‘Seahawks Lego dress’.


Don’t mind the face; they actually love their clothes. :)

Notes about this outfit:

1) the bricks fabric is dyed on one side only, so it showed every stitch I put into it. I had to ladder stitch part of the skirt to the bodice, so it wouldn’t show.


2. My new favorite stitch is triple stretch with a double needle. I discovered it by accident, and it’s so strong and stretchy with my regular sewing machine, that I top stitched her side seams and shoulders with a neon green just to show it off, especially when she throws her hands up for a touchdown.


3. This was my first time with horse shoe pockets, and I love them. I attached the skirt so the top is seamless with the pocket. The top actually extends down and acts as a long undershirt and pocket backing. I didn’t want to break up the fabric there, and it was worth the extra work, especially since it keeps her warm. They also store Lego minifigures really well.

4. This is my most practical creation so far: there are pockets for treasures and cold hands, slightly shorter sleeves to make hand washing easy, no closures in the back, so she can put it on herself and lay down comfortably, extra bodice length for warmth at school, shorter skirt for easy potty breaks and car seat maneuvering, and it’s a thicker fabric, so she can wear it without a coat.

Professional birthday photography is by the lovely Jessica Peterson at One Tree Photography! The birthday girl loves skyscrapers, so we took pictures at the Columbia Tower.


Update! The internet is truly an awesome place. I was looking at the other signature look sew-along entries, and what do I see? Why it’s the Antoinette by A Nest Full of Eggs. And at the bottom of her blog post, she offered the pattern/tutorial! So because of the generosity of the original pattern maker, and the community of Project Run and Play, I now have the Antoinette dress!

Published in: on April 14, 2014 at 4:23 pm  Comments (4)  

Penguin Romper

I love this outfit! I sew clothes for each girls’ birthday, and for Penelope’s first, I was hoping to find a pattern and a fabric right away, so I could get started, but that wasn’t the case. There wasn’t a pattern that for the idea I had in my head. And the fabric I looked at, online and at stores, didn’t have the right feel. I had a clear image of what I wanted Penelope to look like. I wanted her look like a fluffy, baby penguin!


Pretty adorable, huh? So I looked for rompers that had a dress-like top to cover her shoulders, but that we’re also poofy on the bottom. I can’t tell you how many search terms I ended up using, but it was a lot. I found some success with the search term, bubble rompers, but all of the ones I found had little straps, and I wanted more coverage. My initial idea was for more coverage from the sun, but I also wanted her to a little warm in case the weather turned. Which it did.

I had also learned some lessons from our first daughter’s birthday outfit: if you have a crawler, a dress can be a problem. It can get in the way, get hiked up on the body, and when you go to pick the child up, the top can get scrunched. A onesie’s snaps will make sure it stays put, so I wanted the function of that, but with the feel of a dress. And it had to photograph well at all angles.

Then I found this!

This was exactly what I was looking for! But it wasn’t a pattern; it was a tutorial. So I took a chance on this free pattern from Cottage Mama, and adapted it to be a romper.

It was the first time I had combined two tutorials before, and I was nervous. I did a practice outfit with some light purple seersucker fabric from Joann’s. That stuff was much too rough. But the romper turned out great, and I figured out how to avoid any raw edges in the tutorial. I replaced the fabric loops with snaps. I also added length to the bottom, so it would go over her knees and poof up. The elastic around the knees was encased and lined, so when she stood up, the weight of the openings made them settle back down below her knees about half the time. That meant less fiddling with her outfit. I used pearl snaps for the first time, and I realized I could break them. Then I found that towel fibers could get stuck in between the snap and the fabric as I pounded it together. The answer was cardboard – it provided just enough cushion and didn’t get stuck. In retrospect, I would have added fusible interfacing in part of the bodice so the snaps had some more stability. I’m just careful when I undo them though.

And here is the result! I love this grey seersucker I found on Etsy. It’s shirt-weight and much softer.


That was at her first birthday party. For her penguin feet I used a pair of black Pediped shoes that her sister also wore for her party.

Because I made it so big, here it is a year-and-a-half later, and it still fits!


Here are my absolute favorite photos of Penelope in her Penguin Romper:

And to see more fantastic animals, join Project Run and Play on their Put Me in the Zoo challenge!

Published in: on March 25, 2014 at 6:15 pm  Comments (4)  
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Sweet and Savory Breakfast Bakes

These bakes are a mix of recipes I found online. Almost all of my recipes are these days, since I know what ingredients I like best together. And they’re fantastic!

Here’s a reference to all of the recipes and changes until I get around to making a full-fledged recipe of my own. Enjoy!


I substituted the bread with a bag of hash browns
Reduced milk to 3/4 cup
Increased eggs to 12
Substituted the pork sausage with turkey sausage

Instructions on how to peel a tomato:

Sweet: (note: this recipe still needs tweaking)

I increased pumpkin butter amount to a third cup
Added a splash more milk
Pushed the bread down into the batter again before baking

Pumpkin butter recipe:

You can half the pumpkin butter recipe, and you’ll still end up with more than you need.

Pumping spice recipe:

Just the right amount for the mix and the topping

I bake the savory first, then in the last 15 minutes, change the temp and add the sweet to the oven. When the savory comes out, cover with foil so it keeps warm while the sweet finishes baking.

Published in: on February 27, 2014 at 9:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

2014 Seattle Wedding Show

I’m excited for this weekend; the seahawks are playing, my guy is home, and on Sunday, I’m going to volunteer at the Seattle Wedding Show. I’ve been to a few shows in different capacities. My first was the Seattle Wedding Show, after Eric asked me to marry him, and the two of us went and were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of vendors and everything you could possibly get, wedding-related.

The next wedding show I went to was on my due date with our first pregnancy, January 6, 2008. We had a miscarriage that summer, and this was a sad, hard day for me, but I distracted myself by supporting my bonus sister, who was modeling that day. She worked at Alicia’s Bridal in Bellingham, and she modelled several gowns, including a handful of pink stunners.

I also worked with a florist for the Northwest Bridal Showcase that same year. We shared a booth, so then I attended as a vendor.

This time, I’m going as a volunteer. And let me tell you, the best booth to volunteer for is a cake vendor. We found out about this confection craftsman through a mutual friend I had met on The Knot. When we were looking for a baker for our reveal cake, where the cake itself was dyed, and not just the frosting, I remembered her. You can see how amazing her frosting work is in the reveal pictures. The flavors were spot on too, so I believe I could talk up her cakes without pause.

Since it’s been a handful of years since my last wedding and wedding show, I’m going to bring these up as a refresher. It’s always good to be prepared!

Pre-Show Prep:

Email Address: set up a wedding email address: any time you register with a website, entrer a drawing, set up a wedding-related account, and work with vendors, it’s nice to not have your personl or business emails bogged down by the sheer volume of communications.

Invite Attendees: Who is going with you? You could go solo, but then you’d experience it and not being able to discuss it with someone who went. That drive home is great for discussion. A second opinion is also handy. I brought my guy, but you can also bring your best friends, parents, siblings or anyone who you want to share the time with. I will caution, not everyone thinks wedding shows are fun. Some people want to support you, but don’t like the things that come with a wedding. And that’s okay.

Register Online: if your wedding show gives you the option, register online. Don’t forget to look for coupons either on the website or through an internet search.

Read the Website: Check out what they suggest for pre-show preperations. Take the rules seriously. Look at the vendor list and see who you are interested in seeing most. Keep a list on your phone or on a small, spiral pocket notebook. That way you don’t risk forgetting a vendor because of the sheer volume of a wedding show. Plan carpooling and/or parking strategy. Directions and parking are usually on the website. Are you looking for a dress? Note the fashion show and gown sales times. Add all of this to your online calendar, either on a smart phone or email.

List What to Take: pocket spiral notebook and pen, camera phone, bottles of water

Plan the Before and After

Published in: on January 11, 2014 at 11:51 am  Leave a Comment  

10 Years!

Today marks the 110th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk. It also marks the 10th anniversary of my guy asking me to marry him. I wished him a happy anniversary today. He had something a little more exciting planned.

He came home from work early to pick up our eldest from preschool. I thought that was the best part of the day, until he told me he asked our retired neighbors watch our girls for a few hours so we could have lunch and go Christmas shopping together. Oh how that man can lie for the force of good! All other lying sucks, and we’re both terrible at it, so we don’t even bother. But lying for a surprise is a competely different beast. We ate lunch at a tea house. The important thing to note about this tea house is that it’s almost always kid free. Kid free, when you have two young kids, is amazing. Then he proceeded to get lost on our way to the butcher. Riiiiight. Well he wanted to make a stop at the resort to show me something our eldest had noticed about part of the fountain. Side note: Subarus and round-abouts are really fun.

We do little things like this often enough that it wasn’t out of the ordinary. One thing we both love is spontanaety. We walked through a path of native trees, crossed the road and stood to look at the orca display fountain at the resort. He commented that it was too bad the blow hole on one of the orca’s didn’t spray water, so of course I studied it to see if he was just being strange or if this what our daughter was talking about. That gave him the time to prep the ring. He looked at me, we hugged and then he asked if he could ask me a question. My heart became more noticeble, and I recall that this is what a proposal sounds like. I asked him, “are you sure?” in my best interpretation of the first time he gave me jewelry. Before I could completely process the thought or the feeling, he got down on his one knee, opened up a green ring box and asked me to marry him all over again, with his grandmother’s ring.

So here we are. I love this ring. I love this man. I even love the two crazy people we brought into the world. And I am so excited to plan our renewal!

Published in: on December 17, 2013 at 11:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Frosted Cranberry Jello Salad


This recipe came from our Aunt Marie, who served it at the Jensen Thanksgiving in 2012. I asked for the recipe, and this is what she sent me:

This must be an old recipe – can sizes are different now

1 (13 1/2 oz ) can of crushed pineapple
2 (3 oz) pkg of lemon Jello
7 oz of ginger ale
1 (1 lb) can cranberry sauce
8 oz cream cheese softened
8 oz Cool whip
1/2 Cup chopped pecans

Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Add water to juice to make 1 cup total – Boil – add Jello and stir to dissolve. Take off heat, stir in Ginger Ale. Stir pineapple and cranberry sauce together then fold into Jello. Chill in a 9 x 9 dish

Mix cream cheese and Cool Whip together. spread over firm Jello and sprinkle pecans on top.

MMMM Frosted Cranberry Jello Salad

It’s really good. Oh so good. So therefore, I must make it more complicated, ha! We don’t eat Jell-O because of the chemical food dyes in it (you can read more about that here), so I did an Internet search for lemon gelatin, and voila! Here’s a reliable recipe, but trust me. You’ll want to omit the food dye. It’s such a nice yellow anyway.

A “from-scratch” recipe, Fresh Lemon Gelatin with real, natural flavor.


1 cup sugar

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

1 2/3 cups cold water

2/3 cup strained, fresh squeezed Sunkist® lemon juice

few drops yellow food coloring (optional)

Instructions: (Makes 4 servings)

In saucepan, combine sugar and gelatine; add water and heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and gelatine.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Pour into 2-1/2 to 3-cup mold or bowl and chill until set, about 4 hours.

I worked on incorporating the two of these recipes together, and then when I realized I was going to be serving this to a pescetarian, I looked for a way substitute the gelatin. I read a few different posts on the web and decided to try agar agar flakes. Mostly because I remembered the name when I spotted it at my local co-op. Alphabetic superiority wins again. These are made from seaweed. This is how much I love our Uncle Skip. Being that they aren’t a gelatin though, I did a bit of trial and error. Here is what I learned:

1. It won’t jiggle quite like a gelatin. More like a curd.

2. If you make a simple gelatin recipe with it, you’ll get a curd-like dessert that looks like a gelatin.

3. You have the boil the ever-loving snot out of it to get it to dissolve. And stir near-constantly.

4. You should change the sequence of ingredients. Water and agar agar first, then once it’s dissolved, add sugar, then once that’s dissolved, add juice. Otherwise you’ll lose the punch of flavor the juice offers, or the sugar with saturate the water making it tough to get the agar agar to dissolve.

5. It works!

And while we’re at it, lets take a look at the cool whip. It was originally billed as a dairy-free whipped topping, but contains casein. Ah yes, and stabilizers and corn syrup, but surprisingly no chemical food dyes. In fact, the current ingredients list has beta carotene on it. Hot dog! But I went on an anti-corn syrup campaign when I was 14 or so, and I’ve made my own whipped cream for almost a decade, so I have also substituted my own whipped cream for the cool whip. This recipe is like one of those tiny sponges that you add water to, and it grows like mad. But wait, there’s more!

Canned cranberry sauce. It was never on our thanksgiving table growing up, but my husband’s grandpa (aka Gpa, now Super Gpa) showed me that it was actually good, and he loved to make his own. I tried two recipes I came across on Pinterest:




I tried the first one and while it seemed like the typical cranberry sauce and was good, it was too sweet for me. The second one was the winner – the cranberries were able to shine as cranberries and didn’t get lost in the salad I was making.

So to keep score, so far we have a seven-ingredient recipe that requires three additional recipes. And that’s if you’re using canned pineapple. I’m assuming you are. I made it with a fresh pineapple once (pictured above), and it was so tasty, but getting a ripe pineapple, ripe cranberries and ripe pears all at the same time, and have them all organic? Yeah, that’s like chasing a rainbow. Even with a great cheat like organic grocery delivery. Now for the actual recipe. You’ve been so patient.

Angel’s Dye-Free Frosted Cranberry Jello Salad

12 ounces fresh cranberries

2 ripe pears, peeled, core removed and diced

1/4-1/2 cup honey (depending on taste)

1 cup water

Add these four ingredients to medium saucepan and boil, per Skinny Taste’s directions, “When boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and let it cool

I start this sauce pan first since I like to give it a chance to cool and thicken as much as possible, so about a half an hour total.

Open and drain your crushed pineapple – save the juice and set aside!

Add the crushed pineapple to the cranberry sauce, stir until blended.

Add the juice of 1 lemon to your pineapple juice…it should make about a cup give or take, set aside.

In a small sauce pan add…

1 2/3 cups water

4 Tablespoons of agar agar flakes (I haven’t tried the other forms yet)

Boil and stir near-constantly on medium-high until your whisk comes out without any little agar agar lumps.

Add 1 cup sugar to water/agar mixture and reduce heat to medium. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Shut off heat, add pineapple and lemon juice.

Stir and add to cranberry sauce.

Pour mixture into a 9×13 pan.

Self high-five.

Put a lid on the pan and place in the fridge where it won’t be jostled. Now for the topping!

There are two ways to approach this…the way that the original recipe suggests. And the way my husband likes. I will present both.

1. The recipe way:

8 ounces heavy cream

8 ounces cream cheese (room temperature or somewhere in the ballpark)

1/2 tsp real vanilla extract

2 Tbsp sugar

Break out your mixer. Whisk heavy cream until it thickens, add sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until firm, but don’t over beat lest you end up with some kind of butter. Add cream cheese, beat until incorporated.

2. The husband way:

double everything

1 pint of heavy cream

16 ounces cream cheese (room temp)

1 tsp real vanilla extract

4-5 Tbsp sugar (depending on how tart your ingredients are – fresh fruit can change it up each time)

Once the jello has set, spread the whipped topping on and add chopped pecans. The original recipe says 1/2 cup, but I use more like 1-2 cups, or whatever gives me coverage on a 9×13 pan. Make it how you like it.

Regarding pineapple. If you use fresh, it may make for a mellower jello and so I would suggest increasing the lemon count to two if there’s not enough juice from your cut up pineapple. You may want to go with the lesser whipped topping amounts also.

Pineapple contains bromelain, which means your gelatin or agar agar won’t set up if it’s still active. So if you use fresh pineapple, cook it. Put it in with the cranberries when you make the sauce. A good boil should do the job, but if you have a handy thermometer and aren’t sure, it needs to go above 158 degrees, according to this article.

And here’s a guide on how to make crushed pineapple since I have that saved too.

Update: I spotted this on Pinterest, and it could make for a cool presentation if you’re up for the extra work. I’m pretty sure I would knock over at least one of those in my fridge, but I like to imagine myself totally pulling if off.

Published in: on December 5, 2013 at 9:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Calvin and Hobbes Halloween 2013






















Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Stuffy Stuff

Hi. My name is Angel, and I’m a recovering pack rat. This last weekend we got rid of more stuff in one fell swoop than I can recall ever doing before. It seems like a good time to look at the progress I have made. So here is a pretty true and excessively long account of me and stuff.


We moved a lot. When I was old enough to realize how much we moved, I noticed it was once a year at least. I remember being able to pack most of my things into a small suitcase. My bed was a sleeping bag, and at our lowest point, all of my toys were sold off at a garage sale while I watched. There was a time we lived in a car, and a holiday or two had been funded by the Salvation Army or other family members.

When my mom and I left my dad and my grandparent’s house, we stopped by the storage unit to grab what we could and move in with a friend. We stayed there for 20+ years. My mom is still there. When you combine a stationary life with the ability to buy your own stuff (thank you job at 15), my life became one cluttered mess. Seriously, if I can pass on one thing to my kids, it will be….

Don’t buy shit just because you can.

Or in the words of Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcom:

“…so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Not long after my first job, I rented a storage unit. Now my room was small, and a doll house did take up quite a large corner, but really. A storage unit? It never occurred to me to get rid of things I didn’t use anymore. They were mine, so they would always be mine.

When my storage unit was broken into, and two of my favorite childhood possessions were taken, all of it came out. And into our rental. By this time I had married. My guy was astounded at the sheer volume of stuff. There were boxes upon boxes in the living room and the spare bedroom. I had a lot of fun going discovering old favorites, but that shininess wore off after a while. And then it was just a mess.

Early turning points in how I viewed stuff:

I don’t remember which came first, so in no particular order…

1. Bonus mom. She had garage sales once a year in the early days. She changed her furniture around and purged so many times, it was nearly a new home each time I visited. But she was always there. And that meant it was her home. And she could park in the garage. That impressed the hell out of me.

2. Miss mayhem and foolishness-fighter herself, Neicy Nash. I watched years of Clean House and saw so many ways people fought and coped with their stuff. And how peaceful they seemed when they let it go.

3. Hoarders. I won’t lie. That show scared the hell out of me. I always took care of my things, and prided myself on that point, but how far does a pack rat have to fall to become a hoarder.

Despite getting rid of things here and there in our third move, our 2-car garage was bursting. Forget getting a car inside, our bicycles barely fit. We did make a decent start by donating nearly $400 worth of stuff to an organization for their garage sale. And then two years later we held our own.

I’ll just take a moment to declare that I loathe garage sales, and I care to never have one again. This led me to my first revelation:

1) My time is valuable. Selling stuff takes my valuable time and isn’t worth the investment.

Despite this small victory, we were still drowning in stuff. We had baby proofed much of our place, and this meant the small things and breakables had to be moved somewhere. So out in the garage they went.

Then there was baby stuff. Oh my gosh, I was not prepared for the amount of baby stuff. I bought most of it second-hand and intended to resell or donate, and in that I did a pretty good job, but duuuuuuude. They’re little stuff mongers! And the entire baby business is geared toward making you feel you need it. At least we sold most of it after child 1 was done with it so it never got too crazy. This led to revelation número dos:

2) If you try stuff out, and it doesn’t work for you, let it go. Get it to someone it will work for.

It was the case for the baby swing and the excersaucer.

This is how I came upon our system of baby stuff:

A. Sell/consign
B. Give (back) to friends or family
C. Donate to Pregnancy Resource Center
D. Keep

This process is ever evolving, and now Keep means, keep but revisit in a year. And at the time, it only applied to kid stuff. It didn’t occur to me to apply it everywhere yet.

Another downfall has been Christmas. We often joke that I came with a Christmas dowry. I loved Christmas and all the little things I can buy to go with it. One particular pre-husband winter I spent $99 on ornaments at Fred Meyer. That was a crap-load of $1 ornaments and I thought they were all so wonderful….like little toys to put on a tree I didn’t actually have. Because I was convinced that by buying them all now, I saved myself the trouble later. Apparently I hadn’t grasped the concept of making memories and all the years ahead of me to do that.

Last Christmas I decided that enough was enough. With the kids’ ornaments, and our own that we added each year, our tree was covered. I sat down and looked at everything. Decorating the tree was becoming tedious. And that’s not cool for Christmas. I donated a box full to a friend and put the maybes into their own box. This Christmas, I’m pretty sure the maybes are going too. We bought clear Sterilite ornament containers and one large Sterilite box. This has helped with another realization:

3) Get your hands on everything and see what you have. Get it organized.

We have been buying up clear Sterilite 70-quart containers and transferringa everything into them. We are banishing the cardboard. It’s hard to stack, carry and see into, where as the containers make everything look better just by being in them, even if it’s crappy stuff. And by transferring everything, we can start the process of letting some stuff go. Just a start mind you. The first goal was to get into clear containers, get it organized. The purging would come later. But if we saw something we knew could go, then we put it in the donate box.

4) Always keep a donate box.


5) There will always be stuff coming into your life, so make sure stuff is also going out.

This last one is a bit newer. I thought that if I cleaned and organized once, that would be it. But no. Sadly, that’s not how it works. This article opened my eyes to that.

It also showed me that if I get my hands on all the areas of my home regularly, my home will look and feel purposeful.

The real game changer came about a year ago when I came across this Etsy art on Pinterest.

This summed up exactly how I had felt.

6) We are not what we own

Prior to this, I had been keeping a pin board of ideas and products that were efficient. The idea for efficient new things led to an idea of an efficient house…layout and materials that made the most of small amounts of space. Now it’s moved to living more efficiently, with less stuff. Because after moving three times, I want less stuff to have to move. I am not three truckloads of stuff.

Then I stumbled on this article:

This short, powerful blog post was another revelation. Ill use her words though

7) “Be it mice, or fire, or a dinner guest dropping it on the floor, one day you will be separated from all of your beautiful things. Accept this. Say good bye to all of those beautiful things. And then truly appreciate their beauty as you use them to serve the people you love most.”

I had spent my life competing with other family for stuff. there are too many of us cousins and aunts and uncles. And so whenever a family member offered something, I said yes. Most definite yes! That’s how I ended up with a bedroom set I never used and scores of knick knacks. Saying yes to everything was as close to hoarding as I got. We sold the set at a garage sale, and I have a few things from family, but they get used. I’m about to let another piece go, and here it is the greatest feeling. Because I have less, I enjoy it more. My aunts dishes get used at thanksgiving. My moms blankets are used on the beds. My grandmas glassware is out of the garage and in the cupboards ready to be put into service. How nice it is to say, this was my family’s rather than, it’s out in the garage.

Then the purging big really hit. Use it or lose it became my mental motto. But then I would pause. There were things I ha let go of that I wished I hadn’t yet. And maybe I wasn’t ready or it would be useful again. That doubt is paralyzing. So we came to a new idea and a new rule:

8) “Do not hold onto things out of obligation or for that “someday” when you might be THAT person. Use your space for living in the present. Live your life in the here and now for who you are today.” – Organizing Junkie

This is how I parted with most of my antiques. My someday bed and breakfast stuff was drowning us.

8) If we’re not sure we want to part with something, we keep it and revisit it in another 6 months to a year.

At first it seems like one would simply want to keep it. I mean what can 6 months or a year really change? But it works. You have already interacted with this stuff. You’ve given over some thought to it. And when you look at it again, you can recall just how little or much you used this stuff. And when I get my hands on something I’ve already looked at, I get annoyed that it’s taking up so much mental space. And more often than not, stuff gets gone. When I want to keep something still, it gets organized — brought into the house or put with other keepers. It will be revisited again someday, but now I can move onto the next stuff.

And a lot of that stuff was

And then I read this article and took it a step further:

We had 12 places settings of fiesta ware from our wedding registry. I dont care what Meg Ryan and that guy from Space Balls says, 12 is not too many in my family. But that’s for formal stuff (and we use them too). This everyday stuff was not working out. We had 12 soup bowls, 15 cereal bowls, 13 dinner plates, and 12 salad plates. There would always be dishes piled up because the ratio of dishes to dish washing was way off. I don’t like to wash dishes anyway, but loading, unloading, rotating and general stacking on the counter was an added chore.

I took every bit of fiestaware out and then put back four soup bowls, five cereal bowls, four dessert/salad plates, four lunch plates and the four small condiment bowls. The rest went into a box. After a week-long trial, I declared success! We didn’t need the other things at all. So up on CL it went. It was such a revelation – we took the usual and tailored it for our family. I generate enough leftovers that get stored in pyrex that I’m able to fill the dishwasher perfectly and run it every other day. This is really where I felt the balance shift from decluttering to really making it ours. It’s the closest to reaching the bottom of the pile I had felt. And we made some money on it.

After this I took a break. I felt good; like we had tackled a good portion of our kitchen problem. As much as we get stuff out, I take a lot of breaks. At first it was a six-month to a year break. When you have as much crap, I mean stuff, as we did, it takes a lot of mental energy. There is definitely a physical side to it too, moving everything around, but really, the amount of mental space clutter takes up is overwhelming. So when I feel the urge to purge, I go with it until I am satisfied. There is the worry, too, that I will be looking at so much stuff that the lines between keep and get rid of will blur. That makes my inner pack rat panic. After all, we’re doing this on our terms. If I were on the show, Clean House, it would have to be done much faster. But we’re doing this at our pace. The benefits: we get to part with stuff on our own time, we set up good habits over the long haul, and our daughters see the example we set.


Published in: on May 21, 2013 at 10:49 am  Leave a Comment  

A Quick Look at the First Birthday Outfits

Ladybug Pinafores Penelope 1st Birthday Rompers

Because I love to sew them, and because I can never find exactly what I’m looking for, here are the two, first-birthday outfits I created for my girls.

Published in: on February 27, 2013 at 11:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Emmeline is Four

I had big plans for a kung-fu fourth birthday party, but that fell through when I learned that the minimum age requirement was four. That would work for E, but would leave out most of her guests. Well darn. But our friends came in and saved the day! So on the Saturday before her actual birthday, we brought a gluten-free, dye-free cake from the Oven Monkey Bakery and brought it over, along with some balloons, to their place. The party was perfect – all four kids played with the balloons, we had cake and laughed and enjoyed ourselves. Then they suprised us with a card and Calico Critters! E added a bathroom set and expanded her bunny family by triplet penguins – so cute!

Calico Critters CalicoCrittersPenguinTriplets

The cake was a chocolate with vanilla filling, chocolate frosting, and vanilla piping with the words, Happy Birthday and the number, 4. We added four rainbow candles naturally-dyed sprinkles. It was gooooooood.

Tuesday night after pre-school, E spent the night at grandma, Sami and Pop’s house. She got to open four gifts: a doctor kit, my little ponies, a nesting doll and cheer poms. That gave me some much needed time to sew since I had to complete a top and pant for E and a suspender dress for P. It’s the most I’ve sewn for a birthday yet! Thank goodness for my new sewing desk!

Wednesday I stayed up until 4am to complete the clothes. Bone tired doesn’t even cover how tired I was, but it was the closest to pregnancy tired I’ve been since actually being pregnant. Somehow the adreniline of the day held me up, because today was the day we would have Emmeline’s birthday pictures taken!

Jessica, our photographer, has taken pictures every birthday since her birth day. Emmeline feels comfortable around her, and she plays an important role in our family as its documenter. It’s as if she freezes time. She captures exactly what our family was like in that moment.

January 2013_07

Because E is a January baby, finding locations that keep us warm can be a little tough. Earlier in the year Eric took E to the Flying Heritage Collection, and the kid loved it. She went nuts for the planes. A passion shared by her dad. It seemed like it would be a cool place to take photos. The purple curvy dress I found at Trusty Threads sealed the deal. We were going purple and vintage. Grey crept in as a secondary color, and as I shopped for items to complete our look, so did magenta/red and brown. I initially wanted to do the Hop Scotch Romper for E and the Winter Romper for P, but neither had a pattern or tutorial, and my sewing skills aren’t quite there yet (although Cheryl from you & mie was awesome and answered my sewing quesitons about the Winter Romper). So I went with two PDF patterns from Violet Field Threads – the Josephine and Whitney, and then a suspender skirt tutorial from you & mie.

January 2013_05

It all came together so wonderfully! We gave Emmeline a romantic Amelia Earhart look and we pulled elements from 30s-60s in myself, Eric, and Penelope, but kept it modern and not too fussy. I paired my Target Mossimo purple second-hand dress ($8+$13 dry cleaning) with my black Operetta Malibran Fluevogs and pearls.

January 2013_36

As we were getting ready to go to the museum, Emmeline busied herself with a pen and an envelope. Between our phonics work and the letter practice at preschool, she wrote “mama” and “pnelupee”, the phonetic spelling for her sister’s name. I was surprised; we hadn’t covered that before, and here she was making use of both learning environments. It’s currently fridge art.

The morning after her birthday, I asked her these questions I’ve seen on Pinterest. I tried last year when she was three, but she didn’t understand the idea. This year, I only changed the wording a little. We don’t really use the label, favorite, so I just ask her what she likes, and she tells me the first thing that comes to mind.

20 questions:

1. What is your favorite color? Red and purple-ish
2. What is your favorite toy? Lightening
3. What is your favorite fruit? Apple
4. What is your favorite tv show? Go, Diego, Go (but she watches Busytown Mysteries a lot)
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Protein, vitamins, fibergummies
6. What is your favorite outfit? Magenta dress
7. What is your favorite game? Marbles
8. What is your favorite snack? Cereal, pretzels and fish crackers at preschool
9. What is your favorite animal? Real sheep (we had a mixup with toy animals and real animals)
10. What is your favorite song? Elf (soundtrack)
11. What is your favorite book? Cooking book (Salad People)
12. Who is your best friend? Grandma….Max
13. What is your favorite cereal? Colorful cereal at Lala’s house
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
15. What is your favorite drink? Something we made….the fruit drink (Mango Lassi from Salad People)
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas holiday
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Muno!
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? toast aaaaaand eggs
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Romios (she asked after we had finished pictures)
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? at airplanes and take pictures (this one took some explaining)

She had her four-year check up later that day with Andy. Since the girls are 6 months apart, we had both of them checked. Height: 38.25 in – 7%, Weight: 31lbs – 30% and she had her blood pressure checked for the first time. 92/48. I don’t like the blood pressure cuff. I’d rather have blood drawn. It’s like someone trying to blow up my skin like it’s a balloon. *shudder*. So when the nurse said the cuff would give her arm a little hug, I thought to myself, LIES!

We didn’t have much to discuss. We’re good with her food, and both my mom and I were petite until our latter teen years, so I imagine Emmeline will follow in those footsteps. If not, then that’s okay too. Although I do feel a little sorry for her that her younger sister is catching up.

We did cover a recent discovery in that Emmeline reacts to chemical food dyes. Anything with a number and a color seems to interfere with her brain function. I’ll post more on that another time, but it was nice to have her practitioner’s support, instead of trying to convince like it seems with a few people I’ve told.

Published in: on February 3, 2013 at 11:19 am  Leave a Comment  

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