Tuesday, January 13, 2015

warm hearts

I've been doing some small projects as I wait for our baby girl to be born! It's helpful to distract myself with something creative when I'm feeling so ready to greet this sweet little one.

For a long time now, I've wavered between giving away and keeping a certain pink wool zip-up hoodie I've had at least since my freshman year of college. It's cute, cozy, and the perfect fit...and I've worn the elbows to death. I darned them multiple times, and it just was not working anymore. I'm not really into elbow patches, so that option was out. So I kept the sweater. And tossed it between the "mend" and "give away" piles. Until a couple evenings ago.

Joshie and I came in from a very cold day in the snow last Monday, and I heated up my big rice pack for him to warm his hands and to keep him snuggled on the couch for a few minutes. It was hard for him to hold the large hot pack, but he was soon warm enough to be happy. That sparked my thoughts...maybe he needs his own hot pack!

I also recently saw that a friend (and relative) of mine made a small hot pack for her preemie's belly; it has helped his tummy troubles to subside and allowed him to sleep! Baby Center also recommends a warm pack like that for soothing colic in newborns, and I thought I should make one.

The final push to get this little project done came when I saw someone's adorable heart-shaped rice packs, and I had to give it a go! I honestly don't remember where I saw it, so if it was you, please know that you inspired me.

Would you like to make some, too? They're quick and easy, and you can make them in any shape you'd like!

You'll need:

Paper for creating a pattern
Dry rice (not quick rice)
Sewing machine
Essential oil or dried lavender, if desired
A natural fiber fabric (cotton, wool, etc.)
Note: I used two fabrics, a wool sweater for the outside, and a 100% cotton tee shirt fabric (jersey) for the inside. You really only need one, but my wool sweater was worn very thin and needed some more structure.

Use your paper to create a simple shape for your pattern. I chose a heart shape, but it would be just as functional to cut a square, triangle, circle...or you could get fancy and do something else!

Cut two fabric pieces for each hot pack, and stack them with wrong sides (inside of fabric) together.

Using a zig-zag stitch, sew almost all the way around your fabric sandwich, leaving about 1" of the perimeter unsewn.

Using your funnel, spoon rice into your hot pack. My 4" hearts needed about 4T of rice each to feel full enough. You should have enough room to be able to shift the rice around a bit; don't stuff too firmly. At this point, you could also include dried lavender or a few drops of essential oil, if you'd like a scent other than warm rice.

Remove the funnel and sew up the opening of the hot pack. Be sure to start on top of the existing stitching so that there's less chance of the stitches unraveling.

Trim your edges close to the stitching so that they look neat. 

Microwave for about 30 seconds on high and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Yet again! This is how I roll. Welcoming the new year, looking for deals, and thrifting. I have to bring my boy up right, you know? He got a little birthday money from his great grandpa, and so we went off to the thrift store.

When I go to the thrift stores, it's super dangerous (read: expensive) for me if I don't have a goal in mind, a specific item or two that I'm looking for. Sometimes it's jeans for Brad, a fresh new skirt for me, a certain size picture frame, or some clothes for this toddler that grows so quickly.

This time around, I figured I better start the size 3T stash of clothes for Joshie. My slim little guy needs adjustable waist pants, so that was on the top of the list. I figured that "Great Grandpa Ed" would probably want him to have some sort of toy, too.

Toddler shopping strategy is to ask for what you want immediately before or immediately upon entering the store. This time, it was a football. No football in sight, but a basketball sufficed. On to the toy section so that he could hold and play with whatever toy we were going to end up going home with.

Joshie spotted the vacuums. He wanted them.

And then the Little Tikes construction vehicles. The big, bulky, hard-to-hold kind. And he wanted that instead.

And then the vacuum again.

Then a transformer.

And then?

I saw two Little Tikes cozy coupe cars. They retail for between $45 and $55 new. And both were marked $4.99. Oh, okay, then. So out of the cart went the Josh, and into a car, and around the store. We parked one up front so that we could reserve it as ours.

Meanwhile, there was a $0.99 construction helmet that he fell in love with. Fine by me. I managed to find him a pair of almost-new Children's Place jeans, like these, for $3.99. Then a set of Carter's cotton pajamas, like these, for $2.99. And the icing on the cake? A J. Crew half-zip rugby-style heavyweight pullover, not quite a sweatshirt, but a thick tee with a cute little leather pull on the metal zipper...for $0.99. Hooray!

Then we were back to the toys again for another diversion so that I could continue to shop. I spotted a set of five wooden puzzles, marked $4.99, and added that to our pile. Heading toward the checkout, I saw a poor, lonely Nalgene,  for just $1.99.

And then I remembered that I had a coupon for $3 off a purchase of $10 or more. Woohoo!

So our entire pile:

Cozy Coupe Car - $4.99 (retails between $45 and $55)
Construction Hat - $0.99 (similar $5)
Carter's pajamas - $2.99 ($15 on sale right now, regularly $20)
Children's Place jeans - $3.99 ($10 on sale right now, regularly $16.50)
Crewcuts pullover - $0.99!! (similar $40)
Cute wooden puzzles - $4.99 (original price tag $23.95)
Nalgene water bottle - $1.99 ($9)
Minus the $3 coupon...

Just $20.17. Full price would have been $159.45. I paid about 13% of the full price value of these items.
Feeling very blessed!

Friday, December 12, 2014


Joshua is two!

It's unbelievable, really. My tiny baby is now a 35.5" tall, 25lb, talking and toilet trained toddler. What?!

The morning of his birthday, he had birthday pancakes. We sang the "Happy Birthday" song to him, and he got to blow out candles for the first time! He has been saying "Happy birthday Joshua, I blow fire," ever since. Too cute! 

Later in the morning on his birthday, some of our neighborhood friends stopped by with a gift for Joshua: a new dump truck! They also stayed and played for a little while, and enjoyed reading a book together with "Grandma Sue."
On Saturday, Nana and Grandpa were here all day! There was much playing, reading, jumping, and even a trip to Trader Joe's and Five Guys for lunch. 
He loves tractors and construction vehicles lately, so his party had to be full of tractors. I made cupcakes and a pan of brownies to stand in for a cake. Yes, I did buy the wrong boxed mix at the store. Hazard of shopping with said toddler.

"Digger" tractors like backhoes are his favorite, so I mixed up some yellow frosting and piped that onto the brownies. I crumbled some Wegman's brand "oreo" cookies into the front loader to stand in for rocks and dirt. Dirt was one of Joshie's clearest first words. A sign, perhaps?

Joshua again enjoyed having people sing to him, and the opportunity to "blow fire" with Daddy.

Joshie was excited about the paint he got from Brad and me, and asked to paint right away. That was a no-go, but he did get to play with the set of construction vehicles that Aunt Elizabeth sent! He didn't let go of the "digger" tractor for about four days straight, even taking it to bed and naps with him.

We had Joshua's good friend, Jo (and his parents and sister, of course), over for the party, and all of Joshua's grandparents were all able to be there this year. Much fun was had by all!
please note that Joshua and the tractors are inseparable
Still can't believe we've been parents for two years, and that our second sweet blessing is coming so soon!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

mini Captain America

This is probably the last Halloween that I can officially choose Joshie's costume without any input from him, so I made it a good one: Captain America!

The forecast for October looked chilly this year, and the trick-or-treating night proved cool and damp, indeed. I planned his costume to be cozy, using his snow boots and warm fleece pants. I put him in a thermal shirt and cozy socks, and used his navy blue fleece zip-up hoodie to complete the cozy. He absolutely loved holding "Daddy's" hand and running up to each door with his best buddy, JoJo. He quickly learned how to say "Trick-or-treat" and "Happy Halloween" and did a great job.

I ransacked our drawers for the right t-shirt material colors to make the stripey portions and the essential Captain America shield. Luckily, one of Brad's old undershirts, one of my red tank tops, and a royal blue onesie from the too-small, too-old-to-wear pile were just the right colors to use for the project. 

I made a "pinny" of sorts out of the undershirt, first, so that I could pull it on over Joshie's coat. I then used strips of red to make the stripes, sewing right onto the pinny.

The star was made of more undershirt material, but I first attached interfacing to make it stiffer. I then sewed around the shape of the star, cut it out, and cut it in half. I attached it to either side of the zipper on the fleece hoodie, using large stitches to make it easy to remove later. The letter "A" on the hood was made using the same process.

For the shield, I used a frisbee and traced a circle onto the red tank top fabric that was about 3" larger all around. I then made a channel to thread elastic through, and set that circle aside. I added two white circles and a blue one, with a final star in the center to complete the look. I threaded the elastic through the red fabric and stretched it over the frisbee. Hooray, a shield! I added two pieces of elastic to the back of the shield so that Joshie could wear it on his arm or his back.

Here's the whole look:

The red snow plow is an essential part of getting out the door. We always bring a tractor, truck, or ball when we go out!

"app-eee ah-ween!" "tick uh teet!!" says Joshua. :)

Monday, November 3, 2014

baby girl frills

I've been dreaming of putting flowers and bows and sparkly accessories on my baby girl since the first moment I found out about her!

A few weeks ago, I picked up some fold-over elastic at Jo-Ann Fabrics and tucked it into my sewing box. It really has taken this long for me to make it to the actual crafting stage. Life with a toddler, friends! It's beautiful, messy, full, crazy, hard, wonderful, and too busy most days for crafting.

But, today, I did a little bit.

Behold, the polka dot and floral cuteness:

Also, ignore the poor quality phone photo. This is life, currently - can't always pick up my nice camera!

What do you think? I can't wait to put it on my sweet baby girl!

Friday, October 10, 2014


6:54pm is one of my very favorite times of day. I'm usually snuggling my sweet little boy, smelling his clean, wet hair, and giving him gentle kisses as I repeat these words to him: God is always with you. I quote Joshua 1:9 and Hebrews 13:5b-6 to him, and hope he internalizes it. We rock. I pat his back. Sometimes he lifts his head from my shoulder and gives me little baby boy kisses. He is precious.

By that time, we have already prayed and thanked God for all the important things in his day. At the forefront these days are friends, dirt, and tractors. And ROCKS! and Daddy. And Daddy's guitar, mandolin, and bass. And any other relatives he can remember to list. I have sung him a bedtime hymn, and he has had a wonderfully fun bathtime.

Most of the stress has begun to melt by 6:54. I remember how much I love my son, how thankful I am to be his mommy, and how blessed we are. I feel tired, and sometimes I still have yet to cry the tears I held back all day. There's still dinner to make for when my husband gets home, and I have just a few minutes to tidy the house and do something for me. Like blogging. Or reading a magazine. Or eating a chocolate chip cookie without sharing.

But 6:54? That's a moment of peace. A moment of all-is-well. An embodiment of my love for my family and for the God who allowed it to be like this, today. And yesterday. And so many bed times before.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

little things

Cultivating a spirit of gratefulness:

1. Zestar apples. So delicious. I love the tastes of fall in this area of the country.
2. A sunny, highs in the 70's day to play outside with my little boy
3. The delight on said little boy's face when he realized the tractors were outside our house (they're fixing the city gas lines)
4. Having a few neighborhood boys my son's age that enjoy playing and sharing with him, and their sweet grandmother who is so generous and kind to me
5. The rhythmic, soothing normal-ness of knitting
6. Snuggling with my husband
7. A cozy meal in the oven
8. Feeling my active baby girl kick me and make my belly bounce
9. Friends who love the "me" I already am
10. The promise of a visit from family this weekend.

What are you thankful for?