Thursday, April 30, 2015

While you were sleeping:

One of my dearest friends has a  little girl who is about three weeks older than baby M. This past weekend we celebrated her first birthday. I took this opportunity to make a cute outfit for such a sweet little lady.

I had so much fun choosing the fabric for this project. As I'm sure you know, one of my favorite things to do is shop for fabric. After I made my fabric decisions, I made sure I pre-washed everything to reduce shrinking. Then I cut out all my pattern pieces and got to work.

Next, I pinned the pattern to the fabric and cut out all the pieces. This is the most time-consuming (and my least favorite) part.

It all went together easily, although I have some issues with the pattern and directions.

I had some issues with the button holes as well but I fixed it all. And I'm really happy with the final product. Can't wait to see that little girl in her new outfit soon!

I made this outfit as part of Kids Clothes Week (see more here and here). Can't wait to share the rest of my week's creations soon!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New reads:

This week, I'm reading (or rereading) Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I actually started this book over two years ago (yikes!) but never finished it. As part of my book club, we decided to read it in thirds and discuss it but I never made it through the first third. Then, after finally finishing The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder recently, I was inspired to give Wolf Hall another go. 

You can see my initial review of it here. I chose it as #26 on the "26 Books to Read in 2015" list: a book based on a true story.

Like I said before, it's a real piece of work. A beautifully written story but it can be hard to read sometimes. If you aren't familiar with Thomas Cromwell (most people aren't) and Henry VIII, I suggest a quick internet search before picking up this book. And I actually feel like reading (or watching) The Other Boleyn Girl might help you here. Don't feel too badly if you have to educate yourself before attempting Wolf Hall. I had to read an English history textbook before jumping in.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Happy weekend:

Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend? Anything fun? We are celebrating the first birthday of a dear friend's little girl. It's M's first birthday party experience so we are excited to see what he thinks of it all.

Here's a little of what we've been up to lately:
  1. I've been under the weather this week and have felt like doing nothing but sleeping. Unfortunately my schedule won't allow it.
  2. This week is Kids Clothes Week and I have enjoyed getting to sew up some fun things for the babies in my life. Look for more info on that next week.
  3. M is standing. Standing! He went from crawling to standing in less than a week. Slow down, little boy!
  4. Tillie has been acting strangely lately -- she tore up some of the baseboard by our back door and has been staring at it ever since. We suspect we may have a mouse under the house.
  5. Andrew got some much-deserved recognition at work and got to take some time off to spend with little mister. 
Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fabric love:

In preparation for Kids Clothes Week, I went on a fabric hunt. Dangerous, I know. Expensive, too. Because I've got fabric on the brain, here are some of my favorite finds:

Not sure why I'm suddenly so drawn to animal prints these days. Maybe it's the whole sewing for kids thing. And the name of that last one cracked me up -- cats at a sweater party.

As you probably know, I've been collecting fabric for M's weekly photo project (see here) for a while now. His last one, the big 52 weeks, is coming up quickly and it's the only one I haven't gotten yet. I can't decide if I want to buy something or design my own. Here's one option I'm leaning towards:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kid's clothes week -- day one:

This week is kid's clothes week! I've been eagerly anticipating this day. I've spent way too many hours deciding what I should make this week. I spent far too long than is acceptable browsing fabric. I had grand ideas of what I would make for little baby M but sometimes what you imagine just isn't completely possible. Sure, I could make lots of fun, really cute, detailed garments for him but (a) I don't have hours and hours of free time to devote to sewing and (b) if I made something fancy, I probably wouldn't dress him in it anyway for fear of messing it up. He's growing so fast these days, he'd probably never even wear it before he outgrew it. What he needs are casual, comfortable pieces that he can wear every day. Simple and practical.

So, here's what we're going to be creating this week:

  • 2 pairs of leggings
  • 2 shirts
I'm also going to be working on an outfit for a friend's little girl. 

Here's a sneak peak of the fabric I'll be using:

Stay tuned for more Kid's Clothes Week! Can't wait to share our creations with you! Want to participate? There's still time to join! Go here for more info.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy weekend:

Happy Friday, friends! Got any plans for the weekend? Now that our house is clear of all the garage sale stuff, I am looking forward to doing a deep clean. I can also get around to doing all of the small organizing projects that have been waiting in the wings. I love projects like that -- small enough that I can tackle them in a few hours but make a huge impact on how I feel about the space. I'm hoping to get some sewing done, take lots of naps, and get in at least one good run. Weather looks a little questionable though so we'll see about that last one. Fingers crossed!

Have a great weekend, everyone! XO!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pattern love:

I've been making lots of baby things lately but haven't had the time or energy to make anything for myself. We've committed to buying more high-quality pieces from US-based factories that treat their workers fairly (more on that here and here) and with that comes the obvious decision to make more of our own clothing. This is a challenge for me because I'm usually pretty tired by the end of the day and the last thing I feel like doing is sitting down to some sewing. It's a real problem.

One of the issues I have with store-bought clothing is how much they expect consumers to pay for a sub-par product. The construction is poor. The seams are not clean and finished. The patterns aren't matched. There is usually no lining. They use cheap, man-made fabric. I can no longer, in good conscience, spend my money on these things, especially taken in to account who is making them and how they're treated. They say you vote with your money, right? Well, I vote no.

Of course this requires me to get off the couch and get to work. I'm working on this. Step one is to evaluate my wardrobe to determine where the holes are. Step two is to decide what I want/need to fill those holes with. I've been looking around and here is what I've found.

I've never been one for the patterns you can find from Butterick, Simplicity, etc., however, I really love Named. They have such great patterns. Clean, modern, classy. You can see more of their patterns here.

I'm also planning on making this shirt from Grainline:

Now that I've figured out what I want to make, the hardest part for me is picking out my fabrics. 

If you're looking for new and interesting patterns, these are some of my favorite independent designers:
  1. Grainline
  2. Named
  3. Colette
  4. Victory
  5. Blank Slate
  6. Go To Patterns
Check out Craftsy and Etsy, too. I have found some really great patterns there!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New reads:

This week, I'm reading The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells. It's a book that I started in 2013 (see here) but never finished. I'm not really sure why I never finished it because, from what I can remember, I liked it very much. Maybe I just got too excited about the other books awaiting me that I just got impatient. I put it down and it's been sitting on the bookshelf ever since, waiting for me to come back. Well, that time has finally come. It's my pick for #11 on the "26 Books to Read in 2015" list (see here): a book you started but never finished.

Here's the plot:

"The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is the sweet, sexy, funny journey of Calla Lily's life set in Wells' expanding fictional Louisiana landscape. In the small river town of La Luna, Calla bursts into being, a force of nature as luminous as the flower she is named for. Under the loving light of the Moon Lady, the feminine force that will guide and protect her throughout her life, Calla enjoys a blissful childhood -- until it is cut short. Her mother, M'Dear, a woman of rapture and love, teaches Calla compassion, and passes on to her the art of healing through the humble womanly art of "fixing hair." At her mother's side, Calla further learns that this same touch of hands on the human body can quiet her own soul. It is also on the banks of the La Luna River that Calla encounters sweet, succulent love, with a boy named Tuck.

But when Tuck leaves Calla with a broken heart, she transforms hurt into inspiration and heads for the wild and colorful city of New Orleans to study at L'Academie de Beaute de Crescent. In that extravagant big river city, she finds her destiny -- and comes to understand fully the power of her "healing hands" to change lives and soothe pain, including her own. When Tuck reappears years later, he presents her with an offer that is colored by the memories of lost love. But who knows how Calla Lily, a 'daughter of the Moon Lady' will respond?

A tale of family and friendship, tragedy and triumph, loss and love, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder features the warmth, humor, soul, and wonder that made Wells one of today's most cherished writers, and gives us an unforgettable new heroine to treasure."

I'm really enjoying this read. It's light, entertaining, and warm. The characters are endearing. The writing, like her other novels, is wonderful. Ms. Wells does such a good job of making the places and people come to life. I especially love the relationship between Calla Lily and her mother -- a relationship that is an integral part of the story. The whole mother-daughter relationship is woven through the entire book. It's such a large part of who Calla Lily is. That relationship never leaves her. It's beautiful. I have cried on more than one occasion while reading this book.

If you're looking for a good summer read, I encourage you to check this one out. It makes me want to move to hot, sticky Louisiana and spend my summers soaking in the La Luna River.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An update:

After our garage sale this past weekend, we were finally able to get into the dining room which is something we really hadn't been able to do since we moved in. When we were unpacking, we set aside everything that we no longer used, needed, or wanted -- all the stuff from college, past apartments, things that had been handed down to us, and other miscellaneous items that somehow found their way into our hands. I had been planning to have a garage sale to clear it all out since last spring but things kept preventing me (a huge belly, a newborn, cold weather, etc.) and I just never felt like I had the energy to tackle it until now. But it finally happened. All that stuff is finally gone. And we finally reclaimed our dining room.

Here's what it looked like when we moved in. A whole lot of wood paneling and a whole lot of gross. It stayed this way for a while. And we made it work, although I tried hard not to notice.

And then it only got worse. You can see the start of the accumulation of stuff. After a while, we finally picked a date for the garage sale and got ready but as with most things, it had to get even worse before it could get better. My parents decided to throw some of their stuff into our garage sale and as it got closer to the date of the sale, you couldn't even see this room. It was completely packed with stuff. There was even overflow into our living room.

But then the garage sale happened and our lives improved infinitely. It all got cleared away and we are finally able to enjoy our dining room.

So much better! My mom helped me paint the wood paneling although I'm not sure how much of a help I was since I was super pregnant when we did it. And the few boxes stacked on the left are getting picked up for donation this week. This room is no where close to being done yet but it's already come such a long way and I am very pleased with the progress.

Here's what we're still planning for this space:
  1. Clean brick on fireplace
  2. Paint mantel
  3. Remove ceiling fan and replace with large pendant light
  4. Remove other light fixtures
  5. Paint paneling
  6. Paint trim
  7. Add chair railing?
  8. Replace laminate wood flooring with hardwood
  9. Build built-ins on both sides of fireplace
  10. Add sconces above built-ins
  11. Find art for above fireplace
  12. Build wall with wide doorway to space?
  13. Window treatments
  14. Find rug
  15. Upgrade furniture (farmhouse table + buffet + chairs)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy weekend:

Happy Friday, friends! What are you doing this weekend? Have any fun plans? We are having a garage sale, something that I absolutely hate doing but have found is necessary to get rid of all the excess stuff in our house. So, pray to the weather gods for lots of sunshine and warm temperatures.

Here's a little of what we've been up to lately:
  1. M is crawling! It finally happened last week!
  2. He also discovered the electrical outlets which led to a storm of baby-proofing.
  3. One of my oldest and dearest friends is in town this week for spring break. I have only gotten to see her a few times but it's better than none. Glad for the opportunity to spend time with my friends when I can.
  4. Went to the new Whole Foods in LR -- it is bonkers! Have you been? A pizzeria, bar, and they make smoothies? I want to eat lunch there every day!
  5. Took Tillie to the vet and turns out, she has a slab fracture in one of her molars, which means she pretty much cracked her tooth in half. Who knows when she did it but she never cried or seemed distressed in anyway. So, basically, Tillie is a badass.
Have a nice, relaxing weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New reads:

I just finished reading Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. I have read just about every single book Judy Blume has ever written -- Freckle Juice, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Super Fudge, Blubber, Here's to You, Rachel Robinson, Tiger Eyes, Deenie, and my personal favorite, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. She was a major influence on me during my most influential years. She taught me a lot about the world and life and I feel, in a way, that we are old friends. Apparently, I'm not the only one (see this book, which, yes, I own and love). Judy Blume played such a large role in the lives of the women of my generation. It's like we're somehow all connected. She is the tie that binds us. So, I'm not sure how I missed this book of hers. Somewhere along the way, it slipped by me. But then I saw it at one of the recent library book sales and snatched it up.

I read it as part of the "26 Books to Read in 2015" challenge (more on that here). It's #15: a book set in summer.

It's an easy, light, and enjoyable read. As if I expected anything less from Ms. Blume. Here's what it's about, if you're interested:

"When Victoria Leonard answers the phone in her Manhattan office, Caitlin's voice catches her by surprise. Vix hasn't talked to her oldest friend in months. Caitlin's news takes her breath away -- and Vix is transported back in time to the moment she and Caitlin Somers first met, back to the casual betrayals and whispered confessions of their long, complicated friendship, back to the magical island where two friends became summer sisters.

Caitlin dazzled Vix from the start, sweeping her into the heart of the unruly Somers family, into a world of privilege, adventure, and sexual daring. Vix's bond with her summer family forever reshapes her ties to her own, opening doors to opportunities she had never imagined -- until the summer she falls passionately in love. Then, in one shattering moment on a moonswept Vineyard beach, everything changes, exposing a dark, under-current in h er extraordinary friendship with Caitlin that will haunt them through the years.

As their story carries us from Santa Fe to Martha's Vineyard, from New York to Venice, we come to know the men and women who shape their lives. And as we follow the two women on the paths they each choose, we wait for the inevitable reckoning to be made in the fine spaces between friendship and betrayal, between love and freedom.

Summer Sisters is a riveting exploration of the choices that define our lives, of friendship and love, of the families we are born into and those we struggle to create. For every woman who has ever had a friend too dangerous to forgive and too essential to forget, Summer Sisters will glue you to every page, reading and remembering."

It's marketed as an adult book but really, it felt like the same old Judy Blume. Predictable, yes but predictability in a Judy Blume book is one of the things I love most about her. You can count on it. What a comforting thing to be wrapped in her embrace once again after all these years. Some things never change.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Happy weekend:

Happy Friday, friends! What are you doing this weekend? Tillie has a vet appointment and we're making it a family thing. We're also hoping to get to hang out with one of our oldest friends (hi Schuck!) and M has started crawling (!!!) so it's time to pick up supplies to baby-proof the house. And that garage sale that was supposed to happen this weekend is actually being postponed until next weekend -- so we'll have a little more time to prep for it this weekend.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Get out there and enjoy the sunshine and warmer weather! Oh, and Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

We love:

A while ago, I mentioned how we are slowly moving toward buying better quality, more expensive clothing (see here). Quality over quantity and all that. I've been editing my wardrobe and replacing items when needed but Andrew's closet needs some help. Since he doesn't get all that pumped about clothes, I'm the one who usually does his shopping. And with my attention focused on my clothes, his kind of got overlooked. Well, not anymore. Enter Flint and Tinder.

F+T UNDERWEAR from Flint and Tinder USA on Vimeo.

I know you're probably thinking "Oh, gross. I really don't want to know about your underwear-buying habits," and you're right -- we aren't going there (although they do have really great underwear). What started out as underwear has become so much more. Their company now makes all different kinds of garments. All made in America using American materials. And the really unique thing about their line? It's all crowd-funded.

Flint and Tinder started on Kickstarter and has grown by leaps and bounds since its early days. And, in my opinion, they're one of the coolest and most interesting players in men's fashion. Here's how it works: They work with manufacturers to design each element of their garments and then post them to their website. If you like a specific item, you back it. When an item is 100% funded, they produce it, using American materials and American labor in an American factory. By doing this, they are able to match supply with demand and reduce waste, making each item cheaper for you.

[via Flint & Tinder]
I did a little research on their company and actually learned a lot about other companies in the fashion industry in the process. A lot of what I found out was shocking. I'm glad there are companies out there, like Flint and Tinder, who don't take advantage of the consumers. I feel good supporting them. And I like that they are helping to stimulate the economy and bring manufacturing jobs back to America. For every 1,000 garments they sell per month, one full-time factory job is created. I like knowing I'm a part of that.

[via Flint & Tinder]

We still support other great companies like Everlane (mostly for me) and Darn Tough (for socks) and I'm challenging myself to start making more of my own clothing but we've been growing A's wardrobe with pieces from Flint and Tinder. They're well-constructed pieces made with premium materials that will stand the test of time.

Like always, I encourage you to really take ownership of your clothing. Make good choices. Ask questions. Educate yourself. Know your costs. Your money is power so wield it carefully.

And if you're interested, check out Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap-Fashion. It's an interesting and informative read.

(This isn't a sponsored post, we just really like Flint and Tinder.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A cologne hunt:

I fully believe in the power of a good scent. And I'm the kind of girl that appreciates a signature scent. I want to be that old woman who has been wearing the same fragrance for 50+ years. When you catch a whiff of certain tones, I want you to think of me. And I want the same for Andrew. When we were dating (over 10 years ago, yikes), he wore Very Sexy by Victoria Secret. Whenever I smelled it, it made me happy because it made me think of him. Then they discontinued it and he has been happily wearing Acqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani ever since. It's kind of cliche, I know, but it just smells so good.

Then I got to thinking, "Just because I like this scent doesn't mean there isn't something better out there. Maybe I don't know what I'm missing. Maybe we should search for that perfect, forever, this-is-who-I-am scent." So, we checked a few out.

One of the ones we tried was Reveal by Calvin Klein. Right out of the bottle, I didn't like it. It seemed too strong -- like cheap cologne and alcohol. The longer it sat on the skin and the more it mellowed out though, the more I grew to like it. I found myself sniffing it frequently. Andrew, on the other hand, did not care for it. He didn't really give a reason, just said he didn't like it.

I thought about keeping it and using it myself -- it's not too masculine -- but you know, it seemed counterproductive to the whole signature scent thing. So, back to the drawing board. We're sticking with good old Giorgio until something better comes along.

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.