Friday, September 29, 2017

 Last Week, I was able to pattern test for Patterns for Pirates as part of a competition. While I didn't get selected, I did have fun! We made the Walk the Plank PJ Bottoms. They are a simple, quick sew, perfect for beginners. Plus they come in sizes from 3 months to adult 3XL!



As you can see, Little Bit here loved modelling her pair. And they were loose and easy to move around in, and we all know she's at the stage where getting her to be still for more than 0.2 seconds is impossible. 

BONUS- the pattern is FREE! Go here for the adult sizes and here for the kiddos.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Capsule Wardrobe: Pajamas

Let’s talk pajamas.

I have a relatively clear idea of how my Capsule Wardrobe is going to be. I know how many tops I want, how many pants and dresses. What sweaters and scarves I’d like to have. I’ve got it all figured out.

Except the pajamas.  I’d never really thought about pajamas before now.

“They” say  that you need at least 7 pairs of pajamas. With citations about germs and such, you’re ‘supposed’ to change pajamas every night and never EVER wear a pair twice without washing them….

But really? I’m supposedly ok to go months without washing my jeans but can’t re-wear pajamas? Make up your minds people!  

“They” clarified I can wear pajamas twice before washing. Ok. Whatever.

I’ve tentatively settled on 5 pairs. Enough to theoretically get me through 10 nights. I’ve got some already set aside from my current stash, and ordered fabric to make a couple more. Inspired by the video “"The Ten Item Wardrobe"”, I decided I need some matching, ‘fancy’ pjs.


 Plus that and the holidays are coming up and I want some matching pjs with the little Monkey. (check out my facebook business group for info about ordering your own holiday pjs!) 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Capsule Wardrobe: My First Problem to Solve

Since I have decided to have Capsule Wardrobe (or at least attempt to have one), I’ve run into a…. kink.

The Question

You see, long before I even came across the concept of a capsule wardrobe, I struggled with the concept of how many pants a woman needs. Jeans specifically. I mean, you can’t need 15 pairs, can you? I can’t really even imagine needing 5 pairs.

Since having the baby, I’ve gone pants shopping once. I found two pairs of jeans that fit my post baby body, and settled at that. Fast forward 6 months (yes, only 6 months), and I’ve worn through both pairs completely. At the upper thigh area, one of the places that got bigger and I didn’t really notice until now. You can see my undies.

Unfortunately, I just finished purging the fabric stash, and no longer have random bits and bobs of fabric around to patch the upper thigh chafe through holes on these still good jeans.

And so, yet again, the age old question came up yet again for me. How many pairs of jeans do I actually need?

My Answer 

After thinking about it long and hard (okay a day or two in a panic over not having any pants), I decided on 2-3 pairs depending on what I could find that fit me. Being short but not skinny, I have a rough time finding pants that fit well. I’ve been hemming my own pants since high school.  With the skinny fit trend, and post baby, I’ve had to figure out what size I am and what actually fits without being too tight.

Honest moment here: I’ve gone up 3 sizes since having baby. The hips don’t lie. This size change is holding true across several brands (Do we need a post on vanity sizing?).

Why 2 pairs? Since I would love to promote up in my job, I’ve decided to dress for the promotion I hope to get in a couple years now. That way I don’t have to scramble to get a whole new wardrobe when the time comes to no longer wear the uniform. Technically, the uniform is only the shirt, so pants will make me look more professional, or not. 

Also, last time I went jeans shopping I tried on about 50 pairs and found 2 that fit. If I want more than 2, I’d have to try hundreds on and I don’t have time for that.


I’ve already bought and received the fabric for a pair of dress pants. Maybe 2, depending on how the muslin looks it could enter the public clothes arena. I plan to add to my 2 pairs of jeans 1 pair of plain black dress pants, a pair of pinstriped dress pants, and either khaki or navy dress pants.

So in total I will have 5 pairs of pants.

If you’re having panic attacks over this number, keep in mind this is just the pants. We haven’t gotten in to skirts yet!


Stay tuned to see how making my dress pants goes! 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Capsule Wardrobe: Plan of Attack

Here we are, I'm a couple of weeks into this Capsule Wardrobe project, if you count all the thinking about it first. You see, I like to think things through so I feel like I know what's going on before I take the plunge.
I've come up with a loose plan and 'rules' to get to my capsule wardrobe after giving a lot of thought to it, and starting. I recommend taking one baby step first, to see how you work, then move forward after making any adjustments you might need to make.

The First Step: Out with the Old

 First, I've gone through about a third of my current wardrobe and have filled a big black garbage bag with clothes that no longer fit. I'm not going to hold on to them in the hopes that they will eventually fit again, because let's be realistic, I had a baby and my hips are several inches bigger than they used to be. And hip bones don't shrink.

I did sell some clothes. We might do a post on that later ;)

I've would like to try a 1 in, 3 out rule, until I hit my goal number of each piece. So, since I've made one dress (sort of), I have to take out 3 dresses and either sell or Goodwill them. I already had been thinking about my dresses and I can easily move 3 out.

One thing I am trying to keep in mind is my career path. I do plan to promote up in the next few years, so I may store a couple of pieces that I can use in the future. However, I will have to pull them out every few months, try them on to make sure they still fit and look good. If they don't, out they go.

The Second Step: In with the new

The rest of my plan is to start making new clothes for me.

Why am I making most of them? Because I know if I make them they will fit. I can take my time and practice so I get a good look for me. This is going to slow down the overall process, but I will feel good about Every Single Piece of my wardrobe.

I did keep a few tops, most of my pjs, some scarves, and pants. As I make more items, some of these will have to move out, but hopefully I will be confident enough in my new stuff to happily let them go.

To be honest, I don't have a specific end number in mind right now for anything but pants. (Which you will hear about in next week's post.) So, until I promote up and no longer have to wear a uniform, I'm not sure how bit my wardrobe will actually be. I do know I want it to be smaller than it currently is by quite a bit, I just don't know specifics yet.

Thanks for visiting!

If you are wanting to start a capsule wardrobe, or making more of your clothes, let me know how it's going! I love questions, so if you have any about either process, ASK, and I will try to answer.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Capsule Wardrobe: What Is It?

I've heard people talking (mostly online) about capsule wardrobes, and minimalist living, and KonMarie (or something like that) and I admit, I would love to do it, but I'm super skeptical about how it actually works and if these people really are pulling it off or if they're just all talk.

Over the course of the past year or so, I've been feeling really overwhelmed with clutter. Mind, we don't have a lot of stuff, but it often still feels like too much. I've been de-stashing my fabric and yarn (huge black garbage bag gone!) but still feel like I could do better with things.

I came across the idea of a capsule wardrobe. This, in the simplest of definitions, is a wardrobe of only about 30 pieces. A few pants, shirts, dresses, and layering pieces (like sweaters).

One good resource for information on this is this TEDx talk "The Ten Item Wardrobe" (thanks Sarah!).

Well, almost a year post baby, and I'm still having some body image issues. I'm actually not sure if "issues" is the right word for it. I'm adjusting still to my body and how it has changed. I think that instead of beating myself up and hating the way I look in my pre-baby clothes, I should start getting rid of them in exchange for some really great clothes that fit me now.

Another factor in this journey is that I wear a uniform for work. So I really don't need all those clothes that I never wear because I'm in uniform.

So what is my interpretation of a Capsule Wardrobe?

Right now, I am thinking of it being:
5 pairs of work appropriate pants
about 7 shirts
3 skirts
2 pairs of black leggings
3 dresses
and some sweaters

Additionally, I like to have stay at home clothes so:
2 stay at home pants
3 or 4 stay at home shirts (probably university team shirts...)


That's the tentative plan for now. I will keep blogging about it and we will see how it goes!

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Curls Project: A Revival?

A long time ago, back when I actually had time and the ability to attend Knit Night at the local yarn store, I embarked on a project to knit every pattern in a book, in order.

I made it through three of the fourteen patterns before getting side tracked by things like custom Christmas Stocking orders and finishing grad school and having a baby.

I recently went through the yarn and sold some of the stash in preparation for Monkey to move to her own room. I found the yarn I had planned for the next Curls shawl, and am contemplating starting it up.

But first I have some orders and a sweater or two to make. You see, I promised myself I would finish them, and make one more project before starting in on other ones. I need to de-stash, and at least one of those planned projects is part of a bigger project that I'm working on for myself this winter.

I guess the Curls project may still be on hold... who knows if it will ever actually get done.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I'm Working on It

Currently, there seems to not be a lot of time for this whole blogging thing, let alone all the other stuff I should be doing in my life.

However, I want you to know I am working on some great (hopefully) posts for the blog over the next few weeks. Once I get back into the groove of it, I hope to keep the momentum going.

Here are some posts I'm working on currently for you all:

DIY Pirate Costumes for Mom and Baby

100 Days 100 Blocks Quilt Challenge

Quilt Pattern Reviews

Yard Sale Find Upgrades

Indie Clothing pattern reviews

Converting a Toy Guitar into a Working Ukulele


and much more!




I hope.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Randomly on a Saturday

And just like that it's been two months since I last posted.

It wasn't supposed to happen like this, but you know, life with a baby. And now a full time job.

Yep. I started back at teaching pre-k and I love it. I forgot how much I love being with those kiddos and how much fun they can be. They can be crazy, but they are still super fun.

So: Randomly on a Saturday. Here's 5 Things About Me.

Why only 5? Because I need the rest of the list for other posts like this...

1. I LOVE sushi. It was the hardest part about being pregnant.
2. I used to be vegetarian, for 5 years. I still lean toward it.
3. The thing I miss most about Utah, other than my family, is the snow.
4. I never received any formal or informal sewing training until I was 22.
5. Nailpolish is one of the beauty products I have to have in my house. I don't necessarily have to use it, I just have to have it.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Road Trip Tip!

When I was a young child, we did road trips. Places like Yellowstone, Vernal Utah (dinosaurs people), and Disneyland. You can log a lot of hours in the car during a vacation, and if you have young children it can get rough for everyone!

Here's a tip that my mom implemented with us children, that I plan to implement in the future with Monkey and any siblings that may happen to be in the picture as well.

Boredom Bags


Yep. You heard me.

Before I get further into this, you have to know the essential factor in these actually working. It's that Mom and Dad control the bags. Why? Every family has at least one child who is still working on self control and will have eaten all the treats and used up all the stickers in the first hour of a trip and spend the rest of the trip whining and annoying their siblings, and parents.


What is a Boredom Bag? 


It's a bag full of things to distract and occupy your children during the hours in the car.
It can include special treats like favorite candy or snacks. Small toys. And books! Whatever you think will buy you some sanity while the children are playing with or eating or working on the item you passed back.

So, every hour or two pull out a new item and pass it back. See how long you can last before passing out an item, because you don't want to give out everything too fast and be stuck without a way to distract the kiddos on the return trip!

Bonus Tip: Come up with a code phrase to use with your spouse if YOU need a break. Use the phrase to let them know it's time to pull over at a rest stop, or to find a park nearby, so everyone can get out of the car. The children can run off some steam, and you and your spouse can take turns going to the bathroom or even just having a few quiet minutes to yourself in the car.





Now, I really hate when people try to upsell you on something after hyping up stuff. But I honestly think that this company has a lot to offer when it comes to this sort of thing. I recently became an Usborne Books & More consultant. I am currently running a Road Trip Boredom Bag Special for anyone! Your child will receive at least 5 books in their boredom bag, just let me know their ages and interests, I can find books for every age through high school.  I will send you a list of books to approve, and once you send payment your books will be on their way!

Send me an email to order your boredom bags!

You can also order just one or two books using my direct website: c6650.myubam.com 
 If you do order, please know that we really appreciate your support of our family! My book selling is part of our journey to becoming debt free, and we are grateful for every penny we receive. Thank you!

Happy Travels!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Stashalong

Well friends. Here we are.

As is always the case, I didn't intend to go as long as it's been without posting, but it happened. Of course it did. I have a baby for heaven's sake.

We have been doing some re-evaluating and a lot of praying. Once again, I have decided I need to cut back. So, for now we are going to pause the Stashalong.

I don't mean to be throwing a pity party here, but it has been rough on me to try to set up such a big project and feel like I am talking to the wall here. Maybe in the future, when I get things rolling along smoothly I will pick it back up again.

As I start into this new, unexpected, phase of life, I do hope to have more time to blog. Cutting out everything that I am cutting out is going to take a good solid month, since I have some obligations to fulfill before stopping various activities. But my whole family is very hopeful that where I am headed is going to be best for all of us because it's what's best for me is what's best for us.


Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Special?

I set out the challenge for the stashalong this month to use your special item. The one that you are saving because, well... it's special.

But as I went through my stash, I realized I don't feel like I really have any special fabric that I'm saving. Same with yarn. So I plodded on and started using up some scraps for the 9-patch a day challenge ( check my Instagram to see them!).

As I finished up with scraps I dug out some jelly roll strips. I gazed at them a moment, and placed them back. Then I realized it. Those jelly roll strips are my Special. Not because I treasure them, but they needed the perfect project and 9-patch just wasn't going to cut it.

So I set out on a quest to use those jelly roll strips. I found two projects that I felt were executable, and went ahead with the first one.

The key here was I didn't hesitate. I didn't give myself a couple of days to decide if it really was the perfect project for them because that's what got them languishing in the stash in the first place. I picked the pattern and started cutting away. I don't even know if I have enough of the base fabric that I need to actually complete the project, but that's not important.

What's important is that I am using my stash.

How's it going with your stashalong projects? I'd love to hear what everyone is working on!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Our Bedtime Routine

We have a baby. A baby baby, not a fake baby. (I know  a lady who calls a two year old a baby, and another one who thinks an 8 year old is still a baby. She really means it too.)

We follow the on-demand, attachment parenting style. When she cries for food, I feed her, even if she ate half an hour ago. If she needs to be held, I hold her. All day. And all night (it can be rough). Because that's what she needs.

But this does not stop us from having a bedtime routine. And a very strict, solid bed time. You see, even with the attachment, and on demand stuff we've got going on, I still think it's important to get your kiddos on a schedule. How we did this was watching for cues as to when Monkey is tired. Babies will usually get tired around the same time every day, and we set our schedule accordingly. She let us know when she needs bedtime, so we ran with it.

The Routine

Pajamas and Disposable Diaper
Read from Chapter Book (we are currently reading Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, a favorite of mine)
Nursing
Get in Sleep Sack 
Read, in the same order every night: 
Snuggle Puppy
The Going To Bed Book 
Night Night Forest Friends
Prayers
Lie in crib- sing You Are My Sunshine (sometimes)
Go to sleep (hopefully) 


No Bath? 

You will probably notice that bath is not part of the bedtime routine for us. Babies have very sensitive skin, and having a bath every night can do more harm than good, especially when they are newborns (less than 4 weeks old) if you or your spouse have sensitive skin as well. Since Monkey is not mobile, she doesn't roll around in dirt or get food all over her, we have no reason to bathe her every single night. So we don't. 

If it's a bath night, we do it before pajamas and diaper. Side note: we cloth diaper most of the time, so her getting a disposable and a change of clothes lets her know it's time to sleep. 

A Chapter Book at 4 months Old? 

Yes. While I was pregnant, I read chapter books out loud to the kiddos in my class at summer camp. I decided to keep it going with her after summer camp ended, and kept reading out loud to her, still in-utero, to finish up the book. I read scriptures out loud to her in the mornings too. 

The key to reading a chapter book out loud to your infant, is to follow their cues. Some times I get a paragraph out before she's done. Sometimes, I get two whole pages done. It's just a matter of what kind of mood Monkey is in. 

What is a Sleep Sack? 

It's... a sleeping bag for babies. Basically, it's a sack that zips up the front and has arms. This way baby can be warm, since you should not use blankets in a crib, and still have freedom to self soothe because they can move their arms and hands to get a binkie or suck their thumb. We only use ours for night time sleeping, not naps. This is just another way to cue our baby that it's night time and we expect her to sleep longer. 

The Same Three Books... Every Night? 

Again, yes. They are bedtime based books, so when she gets older she will understand what bedtime is, and why we read those books at bedtime. The same exact books, in the same exact order make the routine just that, Routine. She knows that when we pull out Snuggle Puppy it's almost time to get in the crib and sleep. 

If you think a few months old is too young to notice things like this, well, give it a try. I can tell you that on nights when Monkey is not very tired, the bedtime books come out and she freaks out because she does not want to go to bed!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

How to Make Bias Binding

Working from stash is like a game to me. I love going through it and seeing what pops out and what suddenly goes with what.

I had some terrycloth in the stash, and I don't remember why I bought it or what I had in mind for it, if I even had a project in mind for it. But I found it around the time I realized we had no towels for Monkey to use, so I thought I would make it into a towel for her. I contemplated how to best do that when another fabric, some left over from a skirt I made, jumped out at me.

It MATCHED the towel perfectly. I decided to create some bias binding for the terrycloth, thus eliminating any hemming or serging.

I don't really remember where I learned to make bias binding, so I decided I'd go ahead and document the process for you all in the hopes that it will help at least one of you in the future.

The Benefits to Making Your Own Bias Binding

The biggest benefit I can think of is: You can make binding that is super cute and matches perfectly whatever project you are working on. I usually see just plain, solid color bindings in the store. While those have their purposes, sometimes you need a patterned binding because you have a solid item. 

You will never run out! As long as you have stash, you have a supply of binding. 

If the store is closed because it's super late at night and you're sewing because it's the only time you have to yourself, you can still finish a project because you have your own supply of binding. 

Here We GO!

Materials

A square of fabric- if you have a rectangle that's ok, just make it a square!
Scissors (or Rotary cutter)
Sewing machine
Iron

Now, I'm sure there's some math equation that we could use to determine how much binding you will end up with based on how much fabric you start out with, but math and I have a tolerable relationship. When it comes to sewing, I have a talent for looking at something and knowing if it will work or not, so I just plow ahead. If in doubt, make more than you think you will need! 

We start out with a square of fabric. If you have a rectangle, then measure and cut it to be a square. The bigger the square, the more binding you will end up with. I made two squares from this stash fabric and have a lot left over from the project I used it on. 



Cut diagonally across the fabric. You will end up with two triangles. 


Move one triangle to the other side of the square. Confusing right? You want to end up with a trapezoid. Look at the previous picture and note where the white selvedge  edge is. I moved that piece from left to right. So, the left side of the original square is now touching the right side of the square. 

Sew these together and press the seam open. 


Now is where some math comes in. I wanted a thicker binding. So, to get a 3/4 inch binding I cut 3 inch wide strips. Double the width you want, then double again. (1 inch binding: 1x2=2, 2x2=4. You will cut 4 inch strips) 

Measure the width of your binding and mark it on the fabric. You mark all the way across, lining up your ruler with the original top (or bottom) of your square. Do this down the entire piece of fabric. I ended up with five lines across mine. 


Next, line up one side of the first line with the top of the fabric. This will offset the top and bottom as pictured above. Sew the seam  and press open. 

Note that the lines will not perfectly line up. I've never gotten them to. This is where we kinda fudge it and hope for the best. 


At this point, you, if you've done it right, can trace your finger along the lines you  marked and not have to lift it off the fabric. They should make a spiral around the fabric. 


Grab your scissors and cut. Cut along the line you marked. You will end up with one long strip of fabric, cut on the bias. 




At this point, I pressed the entire strip, seams open. Just because. 


You may end up with little triangles hanging off the edge of the nice straight strip. Don't worry about them. 


You can cut them off. No harm done. 


Now, we get to do a lot of ironing. Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together,  and iron. If you had a 4 inch strip, you now will have a 2 inch wide strip (double thickness).


Next, fold one of the raw edges up inside the fabric to the center line you just ironed. Iron it. 


Finally, take your other raw edge, fold it in to the center line, and iron it. 


If you unfold the center iron (the first one you did) the two raw edges should meet in the middle. The inside looks like this. And you will have bias tape!

Ta da!

Alternate Cutting




I don't know why, but I find this easier, even though it seems to take some more sewing. It really doesn't, and I don't have to mess with my scissors.
Marking lines to cut is optional here. I just take my ruler and rotary cutter, and measure and cut. Instead of ending up with one long strip, I have several small strips. 
I sew the edges of the strips together to get one long strip, and then proceed with the ironing. 

I think  I feel like it goes faster because you eliminate the marking step, and the scissors. I think the scissors just take longer than a rotary cutter does.


Finish Up

And there you have it! How I make bias binding. Stay tuned to see the finished item I used this binding on in a future post. 

Did you try this? How did it work out? Share you questions, comments, and PROJECTS with us! 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Why I, a Mormon, Observe Lent

Lent is upon us again. Every year as this season comes around, I find myself examining my life and reflecting on what I should be giving up for Lent. And every year I do come up with something.

But, in our theology and practice, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints don't observe Lent. It's not a part of our religion at all. However, when I learned more about Lent, I decided that it was part of the good that could be brought, however informally, into our lives.

You see, Lent in it's most basic form is temporarily giving up something in order to draw closer to God.


In some cases you can use Lent as a kick start to give up a vice, such as smoking, that you would like to give up permanently. Or maybe you've noticed that you are spending too much time doing something that has potential to take over your life, so you want to break the habit before it gets out of control (such as playing video games).

I love the idea of taking some time to ponder my life (which I do a lot anyway). And take a specific focus on what I can do to become closer to God.

If you don't believe in God, you can take the opportunity to give up something or work on something to help you come closer to your true self, or be more in tune with nature, or to simplify your life. You can think of it as an update to New Year Resolutions as well. Only with Lent, you don't have to do it permanently, just for 40 days.

Need Ideas of What to Give Up?
Really it can be pretty much anything. One year I gave up naps, it nearly killed me too. Chocolate, sweets in general, is popular. I've known several people who give up their social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, as well. The nice thing is that it is personal! You pick whatever it is that you feel is holding you back personally, and give that up or work on improving it.

I hope that those of you out there who don't observe Lent have gained some insight into it, and will consider perhaps trying it out one year. You'd be surprised at the good it can do in your life.







Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Stash Along March: Special

You Made IT!

February was a tough one, wasn't it? But you did it. You made it. You are amazing! If you want to, keep going with the Freeze. See if you can make it to 50 or 100 days. The longer you go, the more dependent you become on your stash, which in turn creates the habit of going to stash first instead of always heading to the store when you start a project. The more stash you use up the more space you will have in your house.

Now, the theme for March is Special. After having gone an entire month without adding to your stash, I hope that you are getting to know exactly what is in your stash, not just have a vague idea of what is in there. And this is part of the challenge this month.

You know you have it. A special skein, or special fabric, or special piece of paper. It's SPECIAL you have to have the perfect project for it. Or the 'right time' to use it.

Now is the time.

Take that Special piece, and use it.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Jaq Rant: Co-Sleeping

This post contains an affiliate link. We may receive compensation if you choose to purchase the product. Thank you for supporting our family! 


Recently a new mother asked for some advice online. Her baby is struggling to sleep and she received an abundance of advice. One thing I noticed was a recurring theme of people encouraging her to "Co-sleep" because it works miracles for their child.

Here's the deal, this mother is a friend of mine. And guess what? They already co-sleep!

But they don't bedshare. The advice she was receiving was to bedshare. And people were shaming her for not bedsharing. (I'm sure it was unintentional, but that's how it came across to me.)

What's the difference? Well, co-sleeping is, by current definition, sleeping in the same room as your child. Your child can be in their crib on the other side of the room, they can be in a co-sleeper, or when they get older they can be on a mat on the floor next to your bed. Doesn't matter, if they are in the same room you are co-sleeping. Co-sleeping is actually recommended by the American Acadamy of Pediatrics.

Bedsharing is exactly what it sounds like, sharing a bed with your child. It is a subset of co-sleeping, but it's not the type of co-sleeping I am comfortable with all of the time. And most of the mothers I know seem to agree, including my friend who asked for advice online.

Now, I'm not going to tell everyone to stop doing it because if it works for you then it works for you. However, this is the type of co-sleeping that most people, especially pediatricians and other professionals,  think of and advise against because it is dangerous for babies. This is because there are pillows and sheets and blankets on the bed and those are what pose a suffocation risk. Also, sometimes a parent will not wake up when they roll over onto a child, or the parent may rearrange pillows or blankets in their sleep in a way that is dangerous to the child in the bed with them.

If you don't bedshare, then what can you do? Besides just having the crib in your room there are co-sleepers. These are cribs that are designed to have a side drop down, and then the crib attaches to your bed. We used an Arm's Reach Mini Arc Co-Sleeper Bedside Bassinet, Natural, and I think it's wonderful. Why? Because Monkey was right there. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I could just stick my hand out and know that she is ok and breathing. I didn't have to get up and walk into another room when she cries, only to find out she's still dead asleep (and, yes, my child will scream-cry in her sleep) and I could have stayed in bed. And I don't think it's spoiling her for her to know that I am right there, that she falls asleep while staring at me. I think it's beneficial for her to know that Mommy is right there for her, and if for some reason Mommy isn't there, Daddy is there too.

Hard to see, but on the right side of the co-sleeper is our bed. Its right against it, so there is no gap between the two.
Also, Look at how little Monkey was! 
The moral of this story is to say what you mean, and make sure you know the actual meaning of the word you are using. (Princess Bride, anyone?)

To sum up:
Co-sleeping means the child is in the same room as you.
Bed Sharing means the child is in the same bed as you.

KThanks.

End of Jaq Rant



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Quilt Along: 9 Patch a Day

I often see sew alongs on Instagram. People all gather together and make the same quilt pattern, or bag, or follow a challenge guideline like "colorful". I love seeing them. Sometimes I even try to join in. Memorably was the log cabin block swap where every participant made a certain number of blocks out of Bonnie and Camille fabrics, sent them in, and received blocks back from other participants.
Bonnie and Camille Log Cabin quilt top. It's being sent to the quilter later this month! 

In my spare time (ha! let's be honest, I do this while breastfeeding or pumping) I've been looking at quilty things on Pinterest. And I happened on a pin that I thought, "Hey, I could do that."

And so, I propose this Quilt-Along, join me if you wish.

9 Patch a Day.


How I envision it working:

Every day for the month of March make a 9 patch block of any size you wish. You get some 'free' days, with the goal that  you will have a total of 30 blocks to assemble in a quilt. .

I don't want to give much instruction past that because quilts are like people. Each one is different and beautiful. Use scraps. Buy new fabric. Stash dive. It's all up to you!

Feel free to join in on Instagram with #9patchaday and follow me @AuntJaq

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Books 2017

(I'm trying a new thing here, and have to let you know that some of the links in this post are part of a paid affiliate program.)

I have to admit, I love reading. However, no amount of research or mommy blogs or panicked calls to my mother prepared me for this.

We are a full month and a half into 2017 and I've only read one book.

As someone who used to read a book a day on a good week, and one a week or so on an 'off' week, this was a bit alarming. I mean, I read. It's what I do. It's a huge part of who I am.

I have a memory of trying to convince my friends back in grade school to do a read-a-thon with me one summer. When all of them refused, I pulled out a blanket, a pile of books, and had my own read-a-thon on the front lawn, you know, in case someone happened to pass by and wanted to join me.

I've got a pile of books on the couch, just waiting for me to read them. Yet, every time I seem to reach for them something happens.

I call it the Mommy Sense. You see, babies have this Mommy Sense. They can sense when mommy is about to do something. It could be something necessary like starting the laundry, it can be work related like sitting down to write a blog post or finally get to editing that book, or it could be when mommy thinks you are napping but really you are waiting for her to sit down and do something that she thinks is relaxing because that's what it was in her life before you. But we all know that life before the Baby is this mystical land in which no one spits up, or cries just because they want snuggles, or refuses to sleep at 2 am.

I get it. "Brown Bear", "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom", and "Rosie Revere, Engineer" are the best I can hope for now.

At least until someone decides that naps and bedtime are actually a good thing.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tummy Time from Day One

Tummy time. Some babies hate it, some just tolerate it. Mine, well, Monkey generally loves it. And I feel a reason she does is because we've been doing Tummy Time from the day we brought her home from the hospital.

What? From the day she came home? Yep. You see, I felt strongly that if we introduced her to things early, she wouldn't know to not like them. So, we started tummy time, among other things, the first few days and weeks of her life.

How did we do tummy time with a brand new baby? I'm about to tell you.


Typical Tummy Time


We did your typical tummy time, where we set Monkey on her tummy on the floor. But, we also lay down on the floor next to her. When she was too young to have head control, we would be sure to lay on the side that her head was turned to. As she gained more control, I would switch which side I was on so she could start to learn how to turn her head in a specific direction.

The key to this method when they are so young is to be right by them, and talking to them. Reassure them that you are right there, they are doing great, isn't this fun, you just lifted your head!, and so on. If Monkey is having a particularly difficult time (a little fussy), I will rest my hand on her back or stroke her hair. However, we do not force her to keep doing a session if she is distressed.

Now that she's older, I will place several toys within her reach, on the floor around her as we do tummy time. She likes looking at them, but has yet to reach for them since she's still figuring out what her arms are supposed to do while on her tummy.

Alternative Tummy Time for Newborns


This is a method we used when Monkey was less than a month old. After that we only did traditional tummy time.

One of us, usually my husband, would lay flat on our back on the floor. We then would let Monkey lay on her stomach, on top of us. So we are laying belly to belly, as pictured below.

This is what worked for us. She never fussed or got distressed when we did tummy time like this. Which makes a lot of sense, being so fresh from the womb where she hears my heartbeat all the time, this position allowed her for full body contact with us, hearing our heartbeats, and feeling us breathe.

Of course, this wasn't a a magical solution. She still has times where she is not going to have it with tummy time, but I feel like she does a lot better than she could be doing when I talk to other moms about how their babies cope with tummy time.

Try it out and let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I'm NOT adding to Stash

Ok. So the February challenge is to not buy anything to add to your stash. How's it going so far? Yeah?

If you need a little help accomplishing this challenge, I have some tips for you. I've done  these when I've done spending freezes before. (100 days is usually what I go for.)

Break it Down

A month seems so long right? You really struggle with this, I mean, you've tried it before and it didn't work.

Just break it down. Set the goal to go a day. Then make it a week. Then keep going. You eat an elephant one bite at a time.



If you are a visual person, make a special mark on each day you don't buy. Make a chain of days with the mark on them, and DON'T BREAK THE CHAIN! This is something that totally works for me. When I did the 100 day challenge, I actually wrote the number of the day I was on.

Focus on Finishing

You know all those WIPs and PHDs? (Works In Progress and Projects Half Done.) Finish them. It feels great to finish. You can check them off your list. Bonus, if you get them all done, you can start out March with a clean slate.

Savings

Ok, this one is one I have not actually done, but have thought about it and may try it this go-around. Every time you are tempted to add to your stash, write down the price of the items, and then walk away. DO NOT buy it, just take note of how much it would cost you if you were to buy it.

From here you have two options.

 At the end of the month add it all up and be excited/surprised/flabbergasted at how much money you did not spend on supplies. What could you do with that money instead? Emergency savings? An extra payment on the car/house/credit card?

Or, each time you are tempted to buy, instead of buying move that money from your checking to your savings account. Do it as you are in the store if you have a fancy phone that allows you to do that. Again, at the end of the month look at the total amount of money you saved by not buying for your stash.


Those are my top  tips to help you accomplish this month's goal. What are your strategies for not buying?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Stash Along February: Freeze

Here we are.  February, the time of year where some people fall off their New Years high and start abandoning resolutions. If you resolved to use your stash, stick with us! We will help you all year long. If you are just joining us, we started out the year with the challenge of Inventory in January. Go ahead and catch up, since that challenge was meant to help you know exactly what you have so you can have a successful year using it up. You're really going to need it this month.

Freeze is the theme for February.

As in freeze your stash. Do not add to it. No buying. No trading. Nothing. This is one month where I am being explicit with the challenge. Most of them will be left open to interpretation, but not this month.

WHY? Because February is the shortest month. It's only 4 weeks long. 28 days. I know how hard it can be to not buy something just for the sake of buying it. It's cute, it would make a good such and such, or you love it and know you can find something to do with it. Resist. Just for this month. You can do it.

Taking a month and not buying will force you to start actually using your stash. This is going to help get you into the habit of shopping your stash first, so the rest of the year of stashbusting will go more smoothly (in theory).

Stay tuned for a post on how to help yourself accomplish this month's goal.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

5 Tips to Help Your Academic Writing Flow

As a tutor and academic editor, I have edited and proofread dozens (possibly hundreds at this point…) of papers that people are getting ready to submit to their teachers and professors to grade. A lot of folks have the mechanics of writing down, they can write coherent sentences and follow a line of thought, and quite a few use the APA guide well and don’t need much help with formatting.
However, I have noticed that some seem to struggle with getting their paper to “flow”. Their writing seems too mechanical, too technical, and too impersonal. It seems that they are trying too hard to sound academic, and end up sounding like a robot.

As I communicated with several of the people I edited for, I have been able to identify some practical tips for helping your writing “flow”. I received positive feedback on these tips and have even seen my return customers improve their writing, which has led their papers to need less editing and rewriting to occur. 


After you write your paper, go through it yourself using the following tips:
  1.    Read it out loud. Yes, I know it sounds a little weird and that you will feel weird doing this, but it works. This was advice that was given to me by one of my undergrad professors, and it has been the most useful skill I acquired as an undergrad.  Why?  You will hear issues in the text that you don’t see. These can include things like proper use of was/were, tense agreement, run-on sentences, and half -finished thoughts.
  2.  If you are using the semi-colon, make sure you actually need it. A semi-colon is used if you can end a sentence but choose not to. This does not, however, give you permission to write run on sentences. In my experience, you shouldn’t use it if you can just as easily create two sentences. I don’t want to be that person, but I will say it: Don’t use the semicolon. At. All. It’s too easy to mis-use.
  3.   Are you sure about your commas? Comma usage is another common issue I see in manuscripts. Either people are overusing them, misplacing them, or not using them at all. Comma usage is an area where reading out loud will really help you out. Don’t take a breath or pause unless you see a comma (or a period), if you find yourself pausing or needing to breath mid-sentence, double check to see if it makes sense for a comma to be inserted where you had to pause. If not, then  you have a run on sentence, and need to split the big, long sentence into two or three smaller ones.
  4.  Write with your own, original voice. Don’t try to be someone, or something that you are not. As you read out loud, ask yourself: If I was having a conversation with my best friend/professor/mom/a real live person, would I say it like that? If not, rewrite.Write it like you would say it!
  5. My final piece of advice is this: Get someone to proofread and edit it that is invested in helping you succeed, even if that means correcting you. Your family and friends will want you to feel good, be successful, and be happy. Be sure that they are aware that you want constructive criticism, not a cheerleader.



Good luck in your writing! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

I'm going to Try

So, this is not a craft or stash related post, like I usually do on a Tuesday, but hang in there, I think it will lead to a lot more great Tuesday posts. You see, I listen to a lot of podcasts, and read a couple of blogs. I noticed that some folks seem to get paid to review things...

I'm not looking to get paid to review things (yet), but I do think it might be interesting to try it out. I have a few items on their way to me, as well as a shelf full of lovely knitting and sewing books, that I'm going to try out doing reviews on. Just to see how it goes, ya know.

At least one of them will be a "live reveal", where I plan on videoing when I open the box on Instagram so be sure to follow me over there.

And let me know how this reviewing thing is working out, so I will know if I should keep doing it or not. I mean, I think I can find some other stuff to blog about too. ;)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Hot Pink Sweater

Once we knew that Monkey was a girl, I was excited to make her all sorts of clothes. Not that I wouldn't have been excited for a boy, but for some reason boy clothes are a lot harder to find good patterns for whether you are sewing or knitting.

I found some great, hot pink yarn from an indie dyer on Instagram. And I got it. Just enough for a wee little sweater and a matching hat (or two). My husband has a thing for neon so I was sure this hot pink yarn would be a winner all around.

It sort of is.

You see, I finished the sweater the other night and immediately put it on Monkey. We were having a Ladies Night with her Aunt Mabels (my sister). Monkey wore the sweater about two hours, maybe three.

It's important to note now, that Monkey is three months old and has entered the drooly stage of life. (Also the blurry stage.) So there was some minor drooling going on during the course of the night.

When we got home and took the sweater off, there was a pink crescent shaped stain on her white onesie where her drool had soaked through at the neck of the sweater.

Fortunately, I remembered that there is a way to re-set dye in yarn using citric acid. I happen to have a bottle of citric acid on hand thanks to a failed bath bomb experiment last year, so I set out to fix this cute little sweater that I was so excited about.

First I had to look up the exact instructions. The lovely Knitmore Girls had posted a tutorial several years ago that I used. I came upon it by googling 'citric acid soak', which took me to Knitting Daddy who linked directly to the instructions in the post on the Knitmore blog. Convenient for a new momma trying to fit this project in around naps, feeding, and general cuddles.


I'm not going to go into details here, but here are some pictures of the process:
Here it is in the soak, round one. 

After coming out of the microwave. It was super hot so be careful when you take yours out and unwrap it! 

If you look very closely, you can see the steam coming off the sweater. I had just taken the plastic wrap off of it.

So, if you actually read the captions you will notice that the first picture says "Round One". Yep. The water was still super pink after doing the entire process once. So I did it again. By the time I was through attempt number two, Monkey was ready for her dinner so I decided twice was good enough even if the water was still a little pink. It was much lighter pink the second round, so improvement was made!


After the whole treatment, I let the sweater block and dry. We had family in town and took Monkey along for our touristy excursion we take everyone on when they first visit. She of course wore the sweater so I didn't have to mess with a jacket and the car seat. She wore the sweater all day, through drool and spit ups galore. At the end of the day, the sweater came off and the onesie underneath.... was pink again. Just where she drooled around the neck and her wrists (she likes chewing her fingers, it's the stage she's at). I'm on the fence about doing another soak for it or not, though. I figure if I put a pink or gray or black onesie on underneath it won't be that big of a deal. Plus pink onesie number one came out of the wash all white again....


Now, I have some yarn that I made socks out of and am currently making leggings for Monkey with the rest of it. This particular yarn is notorious for bleeding and fading so I will be repeating this process with those when they are completed. If I remember to, I will do another picture along of the process for you all!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

De-Cluttering the Yarn Stash

Last week I wrote about de-cluttering your fabric stash. A few weeks after my most recent fabric de-stash, I decided to do a yarn one as well. Only this time I approached it a bit differently than I usually do. Usually I just look through the yarn and say, "Yeah, I can get rid of that."

But since we really, truly need to make room in our house (that baby needs a room!), I decided to be a bit more...ruthless. I came up with a new system that worked really well. As in over 20 skeins gone.


The Method

Much like the fabric method, the yarn will be sorted into different piles. Only three piles, and a garbage can. The piles are Give Away, Keep-Project assigned, and Keep-Souvenir Yarn. For yarn, I have to go through the piles in a different order, just because it makes more sense to me this way. I mean, how do you know what yarn is going to be Give Away yarn if you don't know the rules for the Keep yarns?

Throw Away

While this didn't become a pile of it's own, it is an essential part to de-cluttering. Any ball of yarn too small to make a project, like a hat, went straight into the garbage can. Because if you are anything like me with yarn, those little balls in a pile will end up back in the stash box.

Keep- Project Assigned

This yarn is the yarn that you bought with a specific project in mind. Not the "I'll buy it and figure out a pattern later" yarn. This is yarn that came into your stash because you saw a pattern that you have to make, and went out and bought yarn for it. As with the fabric, be honest with yourself about whether the project will actually be made.
For me, I feel like once I got rid of all the yarn I did that I have a higher chance of making those projects because I'm not being bogged down by all the other yarn. I will have no choice but to make those projects because it's the only yarn I have to work with.
I also recently resolved to no longer make items for others. No more custom orders. No more "it might sell in the shop" making. Again, this gives me pretty much no choice about using the yarn that is left in my stash. Those sweaters are for me and my family!


Keep- Souvenir Yarn

Ok. This is the pile that you cannot make exceptions for because I can see a lot of folks trying to talk themselves into keeping yarn that they shouldn't while adding to this pile.
First, what is Souvenir Yarn? It is yarn that you bought while on vacation. It is yarn that is unique to the area and shop that you bought it in. It is not the same Cascade 220 that you can get at your LYS.
The Souvenir Yarn in my stash was bought when we were in Sarasota a year ago. I asked the shop owner what they had that was unique and local to them. I was pointed toward a wall of indie dyed yarn from a local dyer in colors inspired by pictures taken by a local photographer. That is Souvenir Yarn.
Souvenir Yarn that is kept does not need an assigned project. However, you again need to be realistic about whether the yarn will be used or not. If you haven't noticed yet, I am not a believer in 'treasure' yarns. Those ones that people buy and put in their stash, and then it spends the rest of it's existence being admired and not used. This does not go down with me. If yarn is in my stash, it will be used. If it won't be used, out it goes.

Give Away

Anything that has not made it into the Project Assigned or Souvenir Yarn pile goes here. Everything. (Side note: WIP yarn should be off somewhere with the WIP.) Again, how you get rid of it is up to you. I have had success posting on Craigslist and Facebook to find good homes for my yarn. Post pictures, announce it's up for grabs, and get it to the first person who wants it. The sooner you can meet up with them and hand it over, the better. Do not post the yarn as "For Sale" with prices, the point of de-cluttering is to get this yarn gone. If you try to sell, you won't de-clutter. People like free stuff more than stuff they have to pay for.


Also, last week our reader Lynn suggested finding local charities that could use the stash you are giving away. I know where I live there is at least one charity that accepts yarn because they teach refugees to knit. Thanks for the great suggestion Lynn!!!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Book List 2016

  Book List for 2016
For those of you who are new to the blog, each year I keep track of the books I read. Back in the day I would set goals for amounts to read, but abandoned that concept when grad school rolled around. Now as a new mother, I'm just going with the flow to see how it all works out for 2017.

Total
Books: 45 
Pages: 14,504


  1. Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha by Dorothy Gilman (224) 
  2. Cold Wind by CJ Box (388)
  3. The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz (344) Recommended Series
  4. The Yard by Alex Grecian (422)
  5. The Kill Switch by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood (384)
  6. The Translator by Nina Schuyler (303)
  7. Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy by L.A. Meyer (276)
  8. Force of Nature by CJ Box (385)
  9. Landline by Rainbow Rowley (310)
  10. Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown (303)
  11. Curse of the Blue Tattoo by L.A. Meyer (504)
  12. CrissCross by F. Paul Wilson (415)
  13. Jackaby by William Ritter (299)
  14. Breaking Point by CJ Box (367)
  15. The Black Country by Alex Grecian (384)
  16. Any Other Name by Craig Johnson (317)
  17. Elske by Cynthia Voigt (320)
  18. Chalk Lines and Lipstick by Maren Colpepper (203)
  19. Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (403)
  20. Stone Cold by CJ Box (370)
  21. Endangered by CJ Box (369)
  22. Matched by Ally Condie (369)
  23. Disappearing Girls by * This has become a mystery. I don't remember the author and cannot find the book again in the library catalog. I did read it though, and I remember the plot.
  24. The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley and Danko (258)
  25. Yarn Harlot by Stephanie Purl-McPhee (219)
  26. Gunn's Golden Rules by Tim Gunn (256)
  27. On Writing by Stephen King (284)
  28. Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens by Julie Mata (277)
  29. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy (436)
  30. One Came Home by Amy Timberlake (256)
  31. Birthmarked by Caragh M O'Brien (361)
  32. Mister Max: Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt (367)
  33. Prized by Caragh M O'Brien (356)
  34. Changers Book One: Drew by T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper (277)
  35. Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle by Dorothy Gilman (184)
  36. Promised by Caragh M O'Brien (293)
  37. Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd (388)
  38. Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough (295)
  39. Hush by Eishes Chayil (359) I highly recommend this. While it does deal with sexual abuse, it is a great insight into a community that I hadn't known a whole lot about prior to reading: Goodreads Page
  40. Dry Bones by Craig Johnson (306)
  41. An Unmarked Grave by Kent Conwell (265)
  42. Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher (343)
  43. Infernal: A Repairman Jack novel by F. Paul Wilson (351)
  44. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (378)
  45. Harbingers (A Repairman Jack Novel) by F. Paul Wilson (336)

And edited 1,129 pages. (as of 12/7)
  
[For informational purposes: 2013= 64 books; 2014= 55 books, 24,439 pages, 2015= 41 books, 12,924 pages] 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

De-Cluttering the Fabric Stash

I recently have been working on simplifying my life and de-cluttering our house. I mean, the baby doesn't have her own room for heaven's sake. The most recent de-clutter that happened was the fabric and yarn stash. I came up with a method that I felt worked really well and thought I would share it with you all.

Fabric Method


I have a lot of fabric. Well, not as much as I could, but still it felt a bit overwhelming. My method for going through the fabric was this:

 Make four piles: Scraps, Give Away, Keep, and Re-visit. As you go through fabrics, you have to move quickly. After the initial go through, you can do a second, slower, and more thoughtful one if needed.

Scraps

If they are small they go straight into the garbage. I know, you could use it for something, but will you? No. Toss it. It will feel good.
My scraps are now in a basket. I am currently working on a quilt that uses a lot of scraps, and I have plans for a second scrap quilt. After those two are completed, the remaining scraps will be processed. They will be tossed or made into layer cakes or charm squares.

Give Away

Of course, this is the pile of fabric that you are going to give away. It's fabric that you won't use, or isn't your taste anymore. It's also big enough to be usable by another person. It is NOT scraps.

Re-Visit

As you are rushing through the fabrics, you will happen on some pieces that you put in the Give Away pile and then pull out again, or in the Keep pile and then pull out again. These are fabrics that you can't really decide on in a split second. You set them aside for the second round of sorting when you can take more time to think about them.

Keep

I have rules for my keep pile. They have to have a designated project, I have to be realistic about whether I really will make that project in the next six months or less. If not, it needs to go. There are a few fabrics that were kept because I love them. They don't have a specific project, but since I will be using all the other fabrics in the next few months, I will see them a lot and be able to come up with a project for them.

If not, I will be going through the fabric again in a few months anyway.

Throughout this whole process you have to be honest, and a little ruthless. Otherwise you won't be de-stashing. You will just be sorting.

After the initial sort, I take a little more time and go through the Re-Visit pile, and the Keep pile again. This way I'm already on a roll of getting things out, and I can ride that wave and get rid of even more fabrics.

What to do with the Give Away Pile

I take my Give Away pile and photograph every fabric, or in groups depending on size. A group of fat quarters in one picture, for example. I then post these pictures on Facebook and ask for any takers. I usually am able to get rid of all my fabric this way.
Instagram is another option. I know people who de-stash by posting fabric there, usually with a price. However, if I were to post I would not ask people to buy it. The point of de-stashing is to get rid of the fabric and move it out of my house.
After posting, I wait about a week. Any remaining, unclaimed fabric heads off to Goodwill.



If you are feeling awesome about all this de-stashing, and having all that space uncluttered, go ahead and set yourself a goal. Maybe it's to complete a certain number of projects in a month. Or to not buy any new fabric for a specific amount of time (100 days anyone?).

Then pat yourself on the back, and sit back and relax at your sewing machine to use up your newly found favorite fabric that you bought five years ago.