Monday, August 22, 2016

Handmade In One Year

A while back, I posted a photo on Instagram of a chambray dress that I sewed right before our beach trip. It was super comfortable and super easy and, coincidentally, it was also super inspiring.

 As a mom, the wear and tear on my clothes is higher than it used to be. Am I the only one? It seems like no sooner than I come home from the thrift store with a pile of new-to-me clothes, things start to deteriorate (although, maybe the problem lies therein, with second hand shopping?). With two pairs of little toddler hands always grabbing and pulling, my shirts quickly get pulled out of shape and end up making me feel slouchy when I'd rather look at least a little bit put together. Let's not even mention all the stains that somehow end up on my clothes that I have no idea where they came from. Or the clothes that I thought met my standards for modesty but somehow are starting to gape in all the wrong places or else they require too much effort to make them modest.

 Out of frustration and also a desire to challenge myself and improve my sewing skills, I decided to start a project. The goal: slowly converting my closet to handmade clothes in one year (more on that in a moment). Along with that, I want to simplify it drastically as well as bring cohesiveness to it.

 One of the things that is frustrating for me when shopping second hand is looking for patterns (stripes, solids, etc.) that I like and finding clothes that match what I already have in my closet. By making my own clothes, I will have control over the color and design of the material and I can choose what suits my tastes as well as what will work well with pieces already in my closet. I am hoping to follow a basic color scheme to give me more pieces that coordinate and that can be versatile with different outfits.

 The idea is to have a mostly handmade wardrobe in a year and with all the pieces that I have in mind to make, that figures out to roughly 1.5 pieces to sew a month. Totally doable, I think. By now you may be thinking, what about the clothes you already have? Well, honestly, there are a lot of clothes in my closet that I simply do not wear. Either they don't fit right or I plain just don't like them or I only have one or two pieces that they actually go with (see above). I am a firm believer that if you don't wear something in 6 months to a year, than you can live without it and there are a number of items of that nature in my closet. Only the clothes that I love and wear regularly will stay.

 You're probably also thinking, how do you have time to do this? That, my friends, is the beauty of having your toddlers go down for a nap at the same time in the afternoon, but most importantly, I am choosing patterns that are simple. I simply do not have time for complicated patterns that will take a month for me to make. So, I have purposely chosen a handful of patterns that are easy to put together and I would like to occasionally feature those patterns here along with some tips and tricks that I discover along the way.

 I don't want to make anyone feel like they have to suddenly develop an interest in sewing and start whipping out their own handmade clothes. Rather, I hope to show you simple patterns that debunk the idea that handmade clothes are difficult to make and also to learn new things and improve my/our sewing skills.

 Every so often I will post an update for you, featuring the pattern(s) and fabric I've used and hopefully you'll be inspired as well.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Life Lately

 Ooosh. That's the sound of me settling into my chair in front of the computer screen. It's been quiet around here the last while, although not intentionally so. I feel like I'm always commenting on that, how it's been awhile since I've been here, etc. I like to think of it though, like one of my favorite bloggers put it, that I am a seasonal blogger. Blogging when the time suits or when I'm inspired. It doesn't always have to be a constant flow of words from this little corner even if sometimes I wish it could be. There are times when inspiration overflows and other times when I just don't have anything to say. I would rather not say anything than babble on pointlessly, although I've been guilty of that in the past.
 I thought I would bring you a little up to speed on what we have been doing lately.

 //Reading// I just started reading this book; I have been wanting to read it for a long time and it is everything I thought it would be. It is so much more than just a book on home design. It literally feels like a friend standing with me and telling me that I don't have to buy into the idea of perfection that is flaunted all over the internet and instead, I can just be real and be me and my home can reflect that. Definitely a must read!

//Excited// Jaxon is starting preschool at the end of this month! He will turn three later this fall and I have no idea when the "normal" age for starting preschool is, but I don't really care. When my youngest brother was a little older than Jaxon, I used to play "school" with him and I was so determined to actually teach him his letters and how to read. Hence, this is a really big deal for me, being able to teach Jaxon here at home. I'm pretty sure I am way more excited than he is, although I know he'll absolutely love it. Seeing his interest in learning is a huge motivator for me and I am so looking forward to getting started! We are using this curriculum which I have talked about here and I cannot recommend it enough. We completed the preview unit for the preschool curriculum a few months ago and Jaxon loved it as well as I did!

//Listening// Taylor has been adding new words to his vocabulary almost daily and we get the biggest kick out of making him repeat words and phrases in his adorable baby voice (totally biased; don't care). Our favorites are "Alrise!" (alright), "All done!" & "All bettah!" His vocabulary at 19 months is more extensive than Jaxon's was at that age; actually it's almost on the same level as Jaxon's now.

//Dreaming// We are going to be remodeling our kitchen sometime in the near future and I am so excited. There is still planning to be done, but I get caught up sometimes daydreaming about what it will look like when it's complete. This, this, and this are a few of the ideas that are inspiring me and rolling around in my head.

//Wishing// I wish we somehow had the means of stopping time. Freezing the very moments that we are living right now and stretching them out into a couple days if needed. More than just capturing them in a photograph, but reliving them in real time. I have been thinking about this lately along with the fact that I have done a really sad job of writing things down in the boys' baby books. Jaxon has one that is sort of a scrapbook/journal that my sister put together for him. I got materials to do a similar one for Taylor but so far I haven't started on it; I'm rethinking that idea and crushing on these baby journals. They go from your pregnancy all the way to 18 years old, with prompts for each stage of life, places for photos, and your child's artwork. I don't have one yet, but I got one for my sister-in-law and I really want one!

What have you been busy with lately? Any good reads? Something you're looking forward to?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Virginia Beach Trip


  It’s been more than a month now since our beach trip that we took at the end of June/July. I can’t help but post the photos from it anyway, because it was just such a good weekend. Aaaaand I really, really miss the beach, so there’s that. Gerry and I agreed that it was the best little vacation that we have taken as a family so far. We enjoyed it so thoroughly and the boys did too. We would love to make it a yearly vacation, maybe seeing what AirBnB’s might be in the area. (If you know of any good ones, let us know!)
 We made it a long weekend, getting there on a Thursday and coming home Sunday. We managed to pack the days with all the good things and made wonderful memories in the process. Some of the highlights for the boys were getting to see fighter jets and helicopters flying overhead, and lots of boats out on the water. Going through the tunnel was also an experience, one that Jaxon talked/obsessed about for a while afterwards. He was excited at first because I built up the anticipation for him, but then he wasn’t too sure about it as we progressed through the tunnel. He thought it was pretty cool though, once we were through.
 Most of our time was split between going down to the ocean and swimming in our resort pool. Jaxon took his time getting used to the water, but Taylor was in heaven. He has a more adventurous nature than Jaxon when it comes to certain things. We also spent time walking/bike riding along the boardwalk.

There is something about the ocean that just tugs at me. I love it’s vastness, the smell of the salty air, the way the waves crash onto the shore and then race away, pulling the sand back out to the watery depths. I can easily get lost in imagining what the ocean looks like underneath the surface of the water or what it would be like to sail across the ocean, surrounded by water. I love how the road leading to the ocean just suddenly—stops. Right at the ocean. It feels like the edge of the world. I never want to forget these experiences and the details involved with them. The way the taste of salt clings to your lips after a swim in the ocean. The way Jaxon shrieked and hollered as he chased sea gulls. The way he was totally content to sit on the beach playing with his beach toys in the sand. The way Taylor gleefully kicked his feet in the ocean and happily held my hands as we ran through the waves. Or the way both of the boys seemed to grow up that weekend. Taylor decided to walk and Jaxon became braver by the end, walking across the shallow pool at the resort all by himself and willingly floating through the water with his papa’s support.

  I love sharing experiences like these with the boys. Some people may think that a weekend like this would be more fun alone, just the two of you. And while I totally agree that that would also be amazing, we just truly, honestly, have so much fun having the boys with us on little trips like this. It’s worth it all just to experience new things through the eyes of toddlers. Everything is amazing and new to them and it makes you want to wring every drop of goodness out of the experience. Neither one of us can quite imagine leaving the boys behind and I hope we get to enjoy many more places and experiences with the boys.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

They Call Him Papa

With Father's Day tomorrow, I couldn't help but write a "brag-post" to the man who made me a mama. Gerry has taught me so much about being a parent and I don't think I'll ever measure up to him. He is everything I hope to be one day as a parent and I am so thankful that I get to do this whole parenting thing with him.

  Sometimes I wonder how single parents, especially single moms, handle the ups and downs of parenting by themselves. I can't imagine not having Gerry here as my main support (besides Jesus, of course). Even though he doesn't always have the answers, he is willing to just lend a listening ear and a shoulder to bawl on if needed (and it has been needed). He shows me by example how to teach and show love to our children. He has patience for them when I am nearing the end of mine. He encourages me to do fun things with them, even if it means house work gets put aside for awhile (I'm still not very good with that).
 Gerry is so attentive to things like giving me a break from cooking every so often. My almost-favorite words out of his mouth are "Honey, what are your plans for supper?" because I know he's going to offer to take us out to eat. Heehee, I try not to sound too eager, or take him up on his offer too fast. ;)
 He is absolutely incredible at coming home from work and being so enthusiastic about seeing the boys. It doesn't matter if he had a long day and is tired, he still gets so excited to see his little buddies. Many times, he'll take one or both of them outside to watch him work. I love this so much, because I think one of the best places a little boy can be is with his daddy watching/helping him work. Sometimes after supper, Gerry will take both boys outside for a swing ride or a walk so that I have time to clean the kitchen up. Although our bath time routine has changed a bit since having two children (Gerry always gave Jaxon his evening bath), Gerry still bathes the boys on many evenings while I clean the kitchen up. Sometimes I do it myself, sometimes it's a team effort.
 Gerry has this wonderful philosophy for raising children that is part consistent discipline and part mercy. He has the perfect balance between the two and as a result, the boys have so much respect for him, both as their buddy and as their authority. Often times, all it takes is one stern glance or one spoken command from their papa, and both boys are immediately toeing the line. Yes, discipline comes in occasionally, but they know that there are consequences for continued misbehavior.
 The boys absolutely adore their papa. They get so excited when I tell them that Papa is home from work. If we have to drive separate vehicles when going somewhere and the boys are with me, they usually melt into weeping and wailing for their beloved papa whom, apparently, they won't eeeeeeeevvvvvver see again. *cue sarcasm* While I know the boys do love me, there are times when they blatantly choose Gerry over me. I secretly love this because I love that they love their papa so much. I did jokingly tell Gerry once, though, when we have another baby, especially if it's a girl, I'm not going to let him hold her until she's a year old so that she'll be only my baby. :)
 It's common knowledge around this house that when Gerry babysits for me him and the boys have more fun while I'm gone than when I'm around. :) Whether it's taking them out for ice cream, going on a bike ride, making kites for them, making milk shakes for them, or relaxing in the hammock, I know that they are having the best of times. And every single time by the time I'm home, the boys are bathed and in bed, fast asleep. I tell you, I have it so good.
 One thing I love to see is how Gerry teaches them to pray. Even before they're able to talk, he lays the ground work for them by showing them how to pray.
 I also love watching Gerry on Sunday mornings when he plays guitar for the boy's. He lines them up on the couch, all dressed in their Sunday best, and sings to them. They love it, and Jaxon will even initiate it sometimes by asking to "singa sing".
 I could go on and on about how good of a papa Gerry is. Suffice it to say, I am so glad I have him with me in this crazy thing called parenting. I am so thankful that the boys have him to look up to as a papa. I feel so blessed to call this little family mine and we truly have so much fun, the four of us together. God has blessed us so much.

Monday, June 6, 2016

How We Potty Trained In Two Days

A while back on Instagram I mentioned that I was going to share how I potty trained Jaxon in two days. Well, at long last, here is that aforementioned post.

 Really, it could be said that Jaxon potty trained himself. Because that's virtually what happened. I was just his biggest cheerleader and coach.
 You might remember that we attempted the potty training a number of months ago and you can read about those experiences here and here. Cue the sad faces because at that time, Jaxon wasn't ready for potty training. He wasn't telling me when he had to go and consequently, he would pee through his Pull Ups constantly. I put him back in diapers thinking that we would attempt this whole training thing at a later date. Well, Jaxon happens to be a huge fan of water. No joke, he has probably the best flushed system of just about anybody on this earth. As we all know, what goes in eventually comes out, or most of it anyway, and in Jaxon's case, it was definitely most of it. He was constantly peeing through his diapers and pants. Not because I was being a lazy mother (or was I?) but because I would check him, find him fairly dry, and literally the next time I looked at him his whole backside was wet. Remember how we talked about what goes in, comes out? Yeah. Totally. I was getting to the point where I wanted to have him potty trained but I dreaded starting it again. What if it didn't go well again?
 After much pushing and prodding from Gerry and a day where Jaxon took himself to the bathroom just one time, I made the decision to give potty training another go.
 Wonder of wonders, the day before I planned to begin potty training, Jaxon took himself to the bathroom numerous times. I was rather hopeful things would go better!
 This time, I changed up my strategy. I never thought I would do this, but I chose to do the no-pants method. It took some bravery, but it turned out to work really well. The first day of training, I let Jaxon run around with his bottom free and clear. I pumped him full of water and apple juice then sat back and let nature take its course. I did not set any timer, just waited on Jaxon to give me cues. It worked! I think not wearing pants made him more aware of what was going on down there and he had only one major accident on the first day!
 The second day was pretty much a repeat except I started him out with real underwear (I had previously decided that I was going to totally skip the Pull Ups). He had several accidents in his underwear that morning, so I switched him to pantless again for a couple hours. He did really well that day, even stopping his playing and watching a movie to go pee. I was worried about those things, especially what he would do if he was watching a movie, so I tested him on it and he passed!
 Since then, Jaxon has stayed very consistent. Even holding it if we're in the car and can't get to a bathroom right away. He had a few more accidents at the beginning but for the most part, he is totally accident free. I didn't know it would feel this good to have a potty trained child! Makes life so much easier and it means less diapers to buy!
 Somehow I think we nailed the timing just right. Most of the time while training him, he wouldn't even tell me he had to go, he just took off for the bathroom by himself.
 It all comes down to timing and knowing your child. It turned out to not be as scary as I thought it would be and the benefits are even better!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Life Lately

 Things have been a little crazy around here lately. For the last several weeks we've been dealing with all kinds of things from potty training, to a nasty stomach bug, to colds, to a bedroom renovation, and just in general trying to recover from all of that and get back into our normal groove. I am a very routine oriented person, so when things start getting a little wacky with our schedule I have a hard time coping.

 As it is, life is starting to settle back down and we've been getting our rhythm back. I thought I would share a little bit about what we are currently up to these days.

//Recently read// The Seven Laws of Love by Dave Willis. I enjoyed reading this book as Dave covered different aspects of love from commitment, sacrifice, truth, and fear, to grace, healing, and love that lives forever. The first section of the book is dedicated to an in depth discussion of each aspect of love and in the second section, Dave offers practical ways to live out love in our relationships with our spouses, family, neighbors, friends, enemies, ourselves, and ultimately, our Creator. I was impressed with his applications for loving ourselves. That is such a huge thing right now, "loving yourself" and I'm not too sure what to think about it. That mantra sounds almost selfish to me, but I thought Dave did an excellent job of navigating this section. Rather than making it all about taking time for yourself and caring about yourself, he came at it from the perspective of loving who we are in Christ and how Christ has a plan for our lives. Altogether, this book was an inspiring read filled with practical life applications.

//Cuddles// With Taylor. Did I mention that he's been teething? Yep, finally got some molars through on the bottom, now we're waiting on the top ones to come through. At random times throughout the day, Taylor will gather up his choice of blanket in his arms and scoot his little bum across the floor to me looking for cuddles. If Big Brother is awake, this usually turns into a three-way cuddle complete with songs and stories.

//Excited// about some sewing projects that I have in mind. I go through phases where I love/hate sewing. After a particularly failed attempt at sewng, I decide sewing is not that great and why don't I just buy whatever it is I'm trying to make?? Weeks later when I successfully complete another small project I change my mind and decide maybe it's not so bad after all and with a little practice...

//Decorating// the boys room. We recently tore out the old dry wall and put up new, so that meant new paint as well. I chose a dark teal for their room and I have plans to accent it with orange, tan, and bits of navy. Some of those sewing projects I'm excited about? They involve curtains, a changing pad cover, a pillowcase, and quilts (#gulp) for the boys room. I'm going with kind of an Indian/tribal/Aztec look for it. I'm already jealous of their room.

//Planted// our garden. With the craziness of the past few weeks, it just wasn't happening. Finally, this past weekend, we managed to get everything in the ground! And right before a rain shower came through! Before long we'll be seeing tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn, zucchini, butternut squash, lettuce, cucumbers, and melons gracing our garden. I still have flowers to plant as well and hopefully that will happen this week yet, if the weather ever decides to STOP RAINING.

 What have you been up to lately? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Recipe // Custard Pie

 I have always loved baking. My earliest memories of baking were making biscuits and blonde brownies. They were my specialties. As I grew older, I learned to bake cakes, cheesecakes, and more. I still love baking; there is nothing better than pulling a warm, yummy treat out of the oven.
 For all I love to bake and I love dessert, I really don't make a lot of desserts here at home. Gerry is not a huge fan of sweet things (funny, because when he was a boy he consumed copious amounts of Pepsi and candy on weekends) which is actually probably really good, because I have a major sweet tooth! On the other hand, it's bad because if I do make a dessert, depending on what it is, I'll end up eating it all myself. Not good! That's why I love this pie. Not only is it easy to make, it's also the right amount of sweetness. Sweet enough to satisfy my cravings, but not overly so. And did I mention it's easy to make? Chances are you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry right now too!
 I made this pie for a fellowship meal at church a week or so ago. It sadly got all eaten up so later that week, I made another one for us to enjoy!
 Without further ado, here is the recipe!

Caramel Custard Pie

1 unbaked pie shell
1 T. Flour (heaping)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
Pinch of salt
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp maple flavoring
Chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Mix flour, sugar, egg yolks, and salt. Add enough cream to make a paste. Bring milk and rest of cream to scalding and add to other ingredients. (Do not cool milk.) Beat egg whites until stiff and fold in last along with maple flavoring. Pour into pie shell; sprinkle with nuts. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes then at 325 degrees until done (approximately 45-50 minutes).


Do you enjoy baking? What are your favorite desserts to make and eat?