Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

It's that time of year again and I am already getting simultaneously nostalgic for 2012 and excited for 2013. 2012 was an amazing year with many ups and downs but most importantly it's the year my sweet daughter was born which makes it amazing! I'm now brimming with hope for the new year and all it has to bring and in the spirit of optimism I have a huge long list of "resolutions" which are really just things I want to keep in mind and try to work on. I always feel that even if I don't stick to half of my resolutions, a start of a new year is always a great time to reset and try try again. Here is my list for the coming year, 2013 is going to be another great one, I have no doubt!

1. Get caught up on all my doctors appointments that I have been putting off forever (such as dentist and eye doctor). Here's to a healthier 2013!

2. Learn how to make my own broth from scratch. I've been wanting to try this and seriously can't believe it's taken me this long.

3. Bake regularly, at least once a week. I enjoy it and it's cheaper and better for me than store bought bread.

4. Try new sewing projects and really improve my sewing skills.

5. Cut waaayyy back on sugar.

6. Walk a few miles at least 2 times a week. Eric, Echo and I have been walking to the grocery store fairly regularly. Not only is it good exercise but it's also good family bonding time.

7. Read more and watch less TV. I've started this already. It makes feel better mentally :-)

8. Eat more local meat and produce.

9. Learn to cut my own hair.

10. Start trying for kid number two. This one is so much fun, I can't wait for her to have a little brother or sister :-)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Homemade Gifts

Now that Christmas is over I can reveal some of my homemade gifts that I worked very hard on from October onward. I already showed you the sweater kitten that I made for Echo but here are a few others I've been working on.

This first one was a recycled sweater blanket I made for Eric. It's a great, cozy little lap blanket perfect for curling up to watch tv with. I got all the sweaters from a thrift store for 3 to5 dollars each and I used 6 sweaters total. I also sewed a cozy flannel backing on that I got on sale at Joanne's. This one took me a while but it was well worth it and I was pretty pleased with the results.

For Eric's mom, dad and sister I made scarves just like my first project that I did on my sewing machine. These are so easy and fun to make and I knew they would turn out reasonably well so they would make good gifts.

Lastly I made a flower necklace for my mom out of recycled t shirt material. I chose the softest shirt I could find and used fabric glue to add it to a felt backing.

I also made a plastic bag dispenser for my dad but I didn't get a picture of this. They are really easy to sew and help de-clutter your space quite a bit.

In addition to giving homemade gifts this year I also received some pretty great ones. My mother in law sewed some storage bags for us and my sister in law did paintings for everyone. My mom made some soft fabric blocks for Echo and painted a picture for her nursery. Best of all my brother wrote a book of short stories for Echo and had my dad do the cover illustration! I am blessed to have such a talented and thoughtful family!

I also got some new sewing supplies for Christmas so hopefully by next year I'll be a pro and make everyone even better presents :-)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Baby Essentials for the first 3 Months

Echo will be turning 3 months on Christmas day. Crazy! How did that happen? Somewhere between the day she was born and now something magical has happened. Parenting has become easy. I know it will get hard again but for now I'm enjoying the fact that we have figured each other out and have a routine down. It's so much fun! We've come a long way from those excruciatingly hard first two weeks, life is good :-)

In light of me knowing so many girls who are expecting I decided to make a list of list of the products I couldn't have lived without during Echo's first 3 months. Enjoy!

1. A stroller with an infant car seat built in. I went with the Evenflo Journey 200 and love it but you can get any kind you like as long as it has that infant car seat. You need a stroller to get you and baby out of the house so you don't get cabin fever and the car seat enables you to move the baby from car to stroller without waking them up. This kind of infant car seat also rocks so you can sit your baby in it at home and it doubles as a rocker to help keep them calm.

2. I was the mom that said I would never use a pacifier. Guess what? I was wrong!  Of course you don't want to reach for the pacifier first when your baby is crying, but when you are in line at the grocery store and can't attend to that dirty diaper right away you will thank your lucky stars you have one of these. Also, some babies are just comfort suckers (like mine) and this really helps them calm down. I use the Avent Soothie.

3. Something that makes white noise. This doesn't have to be a little frog but someone gave me this at one of my baby showers and using the white noise setting is a god send for getting Echo to go to sleep. It also lights up and makes all kinds of other noises and music but I really only use it for the white noise :-) Summer Infant Slumber Buddies.

4. Cloth diapers are amazing and I have talked about the advantages of them in a few other posts. I highly recommend you cloth diaper at least part time. We are using Osocozy prefolds and Thirsties Duo Wrap covers.

5. A portable diaper changing mat. This is a must if you plan to take your baby anywhere. It enables you to change your baby anywhere and even when there are changing tables available you really don't want to put your baby's  bare skin on the nasty bathroom changing tables in public restrooms. I like the Skip Hop Pronto Diaper Changer Kit because it also has storage for diapers and wipes built in.

6. The Boppy! I love the Boppy! It will make life a lot easier when you are breast feeding. It's also great for tummy time. Get one. You won't be sorry. I also recommend getting an extra cover because they get dirty fast.

7. The play mat is something that echo only recently got in to. It can keep her entertained for quite a while now though and it's a great place to put her when I need to get something done or just want to give my arms a break. We have the Bright Start Your Senses Safari Activity Gym.

8. Some kind of breast pump. If you are planning to breast feed it's nice to have a pump. What kind you need depends on how much you will be away from your child. Since I'm not going back to work and only rarely have to be away from Echo I love my little hand powered pump. It's perfect for when I leave her with the grandparents on date night and just need to leave them with a few bottles of milk. It's also great for travel, I used it a lot on my trip to DC. I could pump in the car and then bottle feed Echo so we didn't have to stop to feed. I use the Medela Harmony Manual Pump. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Top for Echo

Here is another sewing project along with cute baby pictures. I wanted to expand my sewing horizons and make something that actually had a pattern, ooh! So I followed this tutorial  from Prudent Baby. I didn't have any snaps so I used buttons instead. It was my first attempt at something this complicated so it came out pretty sloppy, but Echo still looks pretty cute in it. I plan to try it again with different materials until I get it perfected.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Card Photo Shoot

Now that my Christmas cards have all gone out I can release my Christmas photo shoot i did with Echo. I know I sent my cards ridiculously early, I was that crazy person up at 6:30 the day after Thanksgiving addressing my cards. In my defense, having a baby has really changed my sleeping schedule. Also, I am very very excited about Christmas :-)

For a long time I have been illustrating my families Christmas cards (still do) and I have started the tradition of doing photographic cards for Eric and I. This year I had the best subject matter imaginable in our precious daughter. The last picture you see here is the one I ended up using but I also wanted to show some of my other favorites from our shoot.

She was really sleepy and not in a great mood when we took these but they still came out pretty good. I also think she looks so much older since these were taken! To do the shoot I used her bath pillow and surrounded it with Christmas lights, then draped it with a white swaddle blanket and laid her on top.

I'm already scheming about what to do for next year's card. Echo is going to have to put up with being photographed a lot ;-)

Happy Holidays y'all!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Exposed Pantry

Finally! A house post again! I bet you thought we'd never have another of those, it's been a while. This whole baby thing has kind of distracted us from working on the house but in our defense she is really cute and it's hard not to spend a lot of time staring at her :-)

We used to have this really awful, deep dark pantry to the left of the fridge. Seriously, it was horrible. You could never find anything in there and we had to keep a flashlight close by to even have a chance of seeing what was inside. So in the spirit of taking out all our cabinets and replacing them with shelves we (ok, mostly Eric) put in an awesome exposed pantry so that we can actually see what we have.

Eric removing the old pantry

ugly, empty space

painted and supports added



Eric used pine for the shelves and red oak for the vertical beams, the shelves are very solid and fit tons of stuff!

It has freed up so much counter space for us and it's amazing how we can actually see what we have now! It also gives us a nice way to display all the pretty little food canisters we have been collecting. It feels good to be making some progress on the kitchen remodel. Since we spend so much time cooking it's important to have this space be very functional even though it is small. We still have lots of things we want to do in here but this is a huge step in the right direction!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Simple Skirt

This is the first piece of clothing I have sewn that I can actually wear (other than scarves which don't count). I was pretty darn proud of myself even though it's about the simplest thing you can make.

Joanne's had their flannel prints on sale for half off and I couldn't resist this cute bicycle pattern. After I finished the initial elastic waist skirt I decided to be even more ambitious and add pockets! 

I'm thrilled with how it came out and how easy it was to make. I'll probably be making more in the future since it only takes a yard of fabric to make and is quick and fun. Plus it boosts my confidence as a sewer!