Friday, December 23, 2011

Little Pink Toggle Coat

I made a coat and I'm so pleased. I almost wrote "sew pleased" which is kind of scary. Next thing you know, I'll be sporting a "my sewing machine is smarter than your honors student" bumper sticker on my car.

I used the School Days jacket & coat pattern from Oliver + S, and once again I only have good things to say about these patterns. This was a 3 scissors out of 4 difficulty, and I was a bit intimidated by the idea of making a coat. The pattern proved easy to follow, however, and I didn't really run into any snags.

I used a light pink wool I picked up on our family trip to New Orleans in October. I fell in love with the wool once I felt how soft it was. It's not a particularly heavy wool, however, so I constructed an interlining out of thinsulate (essentially a second lining using the lining pattern pieces) which I sandwiched between the regular lining and the wool shell. The thinsulate makes the coat a bit puffier and warmer which is nice. I wish I could take credit for this idea, but it was featured on Oliver + S blog and I just followed the instructions. I used the 12-18 month size, but took the shoulders in about 1/4 inch on each side, since Millie's a bit small up top.

And although I'm sure my Husky would have been up to the challenge, I borrowed my mom's fancy computerized sewing machine to sew together the thick layers. I used a gray cotton fabric with little pink and red cherries for the lining, which was purchased locally and is from Moda. Overall, I'm happy with how it turned out. I learned so much with this pattern and hope to repeat it in the future. Once again I traced the original so that I could reuse it.

I'm pretty sure my girl likes it, too. She actually keeps the hood on which is a first. And I feel good knowing it keeps her nice and warm in the freezing cold. (Hard to believe how cold it is without any snow!)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Baby In Hat

Can I still call her a baby even though she's technically a toddler? Never mind, every cell in my body says YES!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

5:07 p.m.

Waiting for Leonard to come home...

Mess-free finger painting (this is why I love pinterest)

Toddler vs. Tree

Learning to say "cheese!"

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Train Shirt

Well I finally finished another one of my aforementioned projects. I've been planning this shirt for some time and thought it would be perfect for fall. I was drawn to the fabric initially because it reminded me of the pattern worn by old fashioned train conductors.

I placed the stripes horizontal for the bodice and vertical everywhere else. And since the dark gray blue pattern is a bit masculine I added a ruffle on the front and back to feminize it a bit.

I used the music class blouse pattern from Oliver + S. It was my first time using one of their patterns, and I loved it. The instructions were very clear and even contained options on finishing seams, etc. along with tips to make it look more polished. Millie's a bit narrow through the shoulders and chest, so I made the 6-12 month size up top with the length and width of the 12-18 month size for the bottom two thirds.

I learned a lot of new things with this pattern. First off, it's the first shirt I've ever made so attaching a collar was new. The pattern gives the option of pintucks or gathers below the bodice and I chose pintucks as I'd never done those before. They were a bit tricky but also quite rewarding. And since buttonholes aren't my favorite thing to sew, I used snaps instead which was also a first. I went painstakingly slow as I wanted to get it just right, so it took me a bit of time. I hope to make more in the future, and hopefully quicker now that I've made it once. Luckily I thought to trace the pattern with tissue paper so I didn't have to cut up the original.

Treasured tot with tucked in train attire! (we've been reading lots of Dr. Seuss)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Botany Beige

Botany Beige by Kwal

Botany Beige is my nemesis.

Leonard and I have lived in this house for two and a half years now, and other than decorating Millie's room, it looks pretty similar to when we moved in. That's not to say I don't have big plans for this place. I've got big plans. Plans that occupy my mind those last moments before falling asleep. That give me pause while cleaning the kitchen, my mind a whirl of paint colors and tile. That cause me to furrow my brow and murmur things like "hmm.." or clack my tongue while looking at a bare wall and contemplating bold artwork. I'm glad we haven't done any big projects yet as I feel like I've been marinating in this house, figuring out it's strengths and flaws. It certainly has it's strengths - open floor plan, spacious rooms, beautiful wood work.

But as for flaws, it's greatest is botany beige. Botany beige is a nice enough color. A safe neutral, used frequently on walls to add warmth and complement many design styles. However, this is the color the builder chose for all the interior woodwork. It covers the trim, columns, baseboards, window pane casings, and even some of the exterior doors. Even the bleeping outlets are botany beige. To make it pop, a fairly dark milk chocolate brown color was used on the walls which do make the botany beige look light. That is, until you put a white piece of paper against it and realize that botany beige isn't light at all. And that's where my design dilemma comes in. When it comes to color palettes, I'm a gray girl. I like cool light grays, blue grays, and charcoals. And those colors would look great in this house, but certainly not against botany beige. And since Leonard and I are planning a revamp of the sewing room (coming soon!), I needed to figure out a good salmon pink (bold, I know!) for my cabinets, but in order to do that I needed to know what wall color I should choose, and in order to that I needed an arsenal of tones that would complement Botany Beige. So I went to a local Benjamin Moore store yesterday to get some help from their color consultant as my mom entertained and toddled with my toddler.

November Rain by Benjamin Moore

Turns out Botany Beige has purple undertones, and any of those cool grays I like would bring those out, which is why they just won't do. Francine, my matter-of-fact and knowledgeable consultant, recommended yellows or greens for the walls. I wasn't interested. So we settled on a warm, light, gray green called November Rain. And I'm in love. I bought a sample and painted a poster board, and as Francine recommended, I've been moving it around from room to room at different times during the day. Sometimes it looks gray, sometimes the greenish tinges subtly shine through, and sometimes it looks like an off-white. It's gray enough that it doesn't look minty and green enough that it still looks warm, but not too warm. And it looks pretty nice against that conniving Botany Beige. My plan is to start off with November Rain on the walls of the sewing room and see how we like it, then eventually use it to cover up those brown walls in the larger living spaces of the house.

Coral Buff by Benjamin Moore

And speaking of the sewing room, I bought some Ikea cabinets which I'm having painted. I feel like I can be bolder in this room since it's meant to inspire all sorts of creativity, so I thought a salmon pink would be a good choice for the cabinets. I wanted it to be an orangey pink, kinda like the black sheep of the pink family. We finally decided on Coral Buff which is bold but not too bright and goes great with November Rain as well as Regent Green, another color I plan to use in the sewing room and throughout the rest of the house.

Regent Green by Benjamin Moore

I'm satisfied with what I've got so far, and I couldn't have done it without Francine. Well, Francine and the color that inspired it all. Botany Beige helped me step out of my cool gray tone comfort zone, so thanks BB!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Millie's Lovey

Oh, did I say I'd post daily for a month? Yikes, I should have said two weeks. My goal was to re-motivate myself to post more regularly, so I'll count it as a success.

Well, I finally finished one of my projects. I've been wanting to sew my girl a lovey for some time, and at 14 months I figure now is a good time to introduce one. I saw this little long-eared softie in Stuffed Magazine, originally created by an artist named Minu, and decided I'd recreate him for Millie. I didn't have a pattern so I essentially drew out the body with room for a seam allowance and then made the ears and arms in proportion. The original artist used a darning foot to create the eyes and lashes, but since I don't have one I went ahead and handstitched the face.

If successful, loveys can certainly undergo a lot of abuse, so I figured I'd go for some higher quality materials. I ordered the fur and stuffing from the same place the artist recommended, and even though it cost a bit more, the quality is definitely better than what I would have picked up at JoAnn's.

I really like the long length of the cotton fur, and the wool felt is quite soft. I was especially impressed with the stuffing material. Usually when I stuff a pillow with the typical commercial polyfil, it's not long before they turn a bit lumpy. But this material allowed me to firmly stuff the body while lightly stuffing the ears and arms to give a floppy affect, and thus far everything has stayed in its place.

Of course, I had to personalize it a bit!

At first Millie was a bit confused by the new addition. I started introducing him everytime we'd nurse, and also at bedtime. She'd look at him suspiciously and then was fairly indifferent. But with time she'd play peek-a-boo with his ears and trace his eyes. Now whenever it's bedtime I say "Go get Lovey!" and she searches him out, squeezes him tight, and keeps him with her during our routine.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween 2011

After resigning myself to the fact that a lumberjack costume just wasn't in the cards for this year's Halloween, we ended pulling together a great last minute pioneer costume for Millie. My mom had brought back this adorable tiny bonnet from Amish country earlier this year, so we based the costume around that.

I originally planned to have her wear last year's little brown dress, but alas it was just barely too small. I was pleasantly surprised though when my mom brought her to our work Halloween party yesterday afternoon in this little get up.

This black and white gingham dress has been sitting in her closet for the past year, unworn. It was the first dress I ever made, back when she was about four months old. It was my introduction to the bogus sizing of children's patterns - this dress was size newborn. Now, at 14 months it finally fits. There's no zipper in the back yet so my mom improvised with some stick on velcro tabs. Genius! She also grabbed some black tights and boots and got her to the party just in time.

I made the apron also last minute, using some fabric I had laying around for some well intentioned, but probably will never be realized, sewing project.

Pioneer baby out past her bedtime = Halloween Hardship!

Hope you had a great Halloween!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Darth Baby

Here's a photo I found while browsing my photo library.
This was taken at my good pal Natalie's house, where objects like Darth Vader helmets are commonplace:

Monday, October 03, 2011

Fall Conference Weekend 2011

Now that we're three, I've been feeling the need to get more out of our family vacations. You know, all of that "creating memories" for your kids stuff that people talk about. And since conference weekend for us typically involves lots of TV time and not much else, I decided this was a good place to start. We spent the weekend in McCall and though we watched conference, we were sure to fill up our spare time with some quality family activities.

On Saturday afternoon we hiked up to Duck Lake. It's a short hike, only ~2 miles total which was perfect with baby. I had Millie in the Ergo carrier the entire way and I'm pretty sure this experience taught her patience. Our independent, wandering baby whined and arched her back for the first five minutes, but eventually relaxed and enjoyed her ride up and down the side of the mountain.

Here's Duck Lake. Other than a couple of hunters descending as we hiked up, we were the only people there. It was long sleeve weather and just beautiful. McCall is great, but an uncrowded McCall is even better.

Baby skinny jeans + fleece vest = baby hiking fashionista.

My parents were also in McCall and it was nice to spend a relaxing weekend with them. I really wanted to go to Burgdorf hot springs Saturday night, but figured it would prove to be too much time in the car for our little one. Maybe next time!

Here she is on a walk to the beach. She could care less about that pinecone, she was just humoring me. Her nose was quite leaky and the not-so-prepared me forgot to bring a kleenex, so I went all Pocahontas and used a leaf instead.

Payette lake with a receding water line.

I now understand that family vacations take careful planning when you've got a kid. I'm striving for a balance of relaxation and engaging activity, yummy foods that are easy to prepare and not overly calorie laden, and a structured plan that allows for flexibility. I think we did pretty good this time.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Isn't that what Liz Lemon says? Or is it Liz Lemon impersonating Cathy?

Today was a wash. My only accomplishment was dinner; a tomatillo chicken enchilada casserole, low on cheese so fairly healthy with a side of black beans. Millie spent the day at my heels, arms extended, whining to be held. Here are some random thoughts since I'm just not feeling creative:

Back when she tolerated sunglasses.

I can't decide on Millie's Halloween costume. I've been planning on a lumberjack for some time complete with flannel shirt, bushy red hair and beard, but I know she'll rip the beard off immediately and then she'd just look like Pat from SNL or something.

I went to WinCo pretty early this morning and for the first time ever it wasn't crowded. I was proud of myself for the new shopping plan since Millie can only handle so much time in a cart. Then I looked around and noticed that of the people there, about 90% of them were women with babies. I guess I'm not the only one who thinks ahead.

Speaking of WinCo, Leonard and I saw a man once eating literally 1/2 an entire fried chicken while he shopped. My hand was itching for the camera on my cell phone but I refrained.

I had a patient yell at me the other day for not prescribing narcotics. Before entering the room I took a few deep breaths and planned what I was going to say, though it wouldn't have mattered anyway. After three years of this job I've tried to develop a thick skin but being screamed at still affects me. I later coped by nursing my baby while watching a Jane Austen inspired made-for-TV movie.

I've developed a late night second wind. After Millie goes to bed I'm zapped but by 10 p.m. I feel pretty good. When I start to think of all the things I could be doing that would take 1/5 of the time it would when my girl is awake, I get going. Tonight I made a huge bowl of salsa, the ingredients straight from my garden. This would have been an accomplishment except that I originally intended to preserve the salsa until I realized in order to do that I'd have to let other daily tasks slack which I didn't want to do. Coming to that decision was both disappointing and liberating.

I'm glad the Internet didn't exist when I was 12. If the Internet would have existed then I surely would have had a blog, and let's face it, I was odd at 12. And since they say nothing is ever truly deleted from the Internet, I'd have a permanent reminder of my weirdness. Though maybe I'll be feeling those sentiments reading this post at age 50.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When Komodo Dragons Attack

Millie had quite the encounter with a komodo dragon at the Boise Zoo this past Labor Day. Thank goodness for plexiglass, though I'm sure our girl could hold her own with her grunting, screeching, and eyeball grasping skills.

My favorite pic of the day:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Oat Cakes

These oat cakes are a recent favorite of ours. I found this recipe while searching for baked oatmeal as Millie was no longer interested in being spoon fed. The recipe book they come from focuses on natural foods and the oat cakes' ingredients like coconut oil and maple syrup reflect that. They contain some super healthy ingredients; about 1/4 cup rolled oats apiece as well as whole wheat pastry flour, flax seeds, and walnuts. The maple syrup gives them an earthy kind of sweetness. These oat cakes are quite filling and I like to eat one mid-afternoon when I typically get rather snack happy. This recipe has sold me on the book and I'll be ordering it soon.

Oat Cakes
From Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen
by Heidi Swanson

3 cups rolled oats
2 cups spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1/4 cup 45 g flax seeds
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
1/3 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 325°F / 160°C with a rack in the top third of the oven. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan.

Combine the oats, flour, baking powder, salt, flax seeds, and walnuts in a large mixing bowl.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the coconut oil, butter, maple syrup, and sugar and slowly melt together. Stir just until the butter melts and sugar has dissolved, but don’t let the mixture get too hot. You don’t want it to cook the eggs on contact in the next step.

Pour the coconut oil mixture over the oat mixture. Stir a bit with a fork, add the eggs, and stir again until everything comes together into a wet dough. Spoon the dough into the muffin cups, nearly filling them.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the edges of each oatcake are deeply golden. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for a couple minutes. Then, run a knife around the edges of the cakes and tip them out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

makes 12 oat cakes