Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gift wrapping

I know, it's a little late to be talking about gift wrapping, but there are always birthdays and anniversaries to wrap gifts for. Also, since this will be the last post of the year, I thought it would be a fun way to wrap up the year...hahaha.

Since having children, I have struggled with the holidays, Christmas in particular. I may seem like a Scrooge, but I find that the holidays focus too much on stuff. It's unbelievable how much stuff we accumulate over the month of December, as well as how much stuff we throw out. Waste is a huge issue. We are fortunate to live in an area that spends a lot of time promoting better waste management skills. We have a four bin garbage system and they like to recycle as much as possible. Even though our community recycles, that should be the thing we resort to last, not first. What happened to the first two steps; reduce and reuse?

In an effort to reduce waste around the holidays, I have three gift wrapping ideas to share with you today.

Number one: Spice up existing packaging.

We bought a wooden sled for our nephew, which came in a big cardboard box. I wasn't about to buy wrapping paper for one gift, so I sewed the raw edges under on a piece of fabric, and tied it on with a bow. The fabric is long enough that it can be used as a festive table runner. The tag we simply drew on with a sharpie.

Number two: Sew up some gift bags

To be fair, I made these last year. I love them though. They were made with French seams in hopes that they last forever. Last year I wrote "please reuse or return this bag" on each gift tag. I didn't get as many back as I had hoped, but a few were returned.
Number three: Gifts in a jar

Aren't they beautiful? Another thing that I struggle with is the amount of sugary processed foods we consume over the holidays. To help combat that, all of our edible gifts this year were on the healthier side.
That's all for today, from our house to yours, I wish you all the best in the new year. In our house, 2015 is going to be the year of Balance. Join us in our next post to see what we have planned for the new year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

1000 hours outside

I'm taking a challenge, and I would like to extend this challenge to you and everyone you know with children or grandchildren. Spend 1000 hours outside in 2015. Not just the kids, you too. Try bringing them outside for 4-6 hour stretches 3 times a week. or 2 hour stretches daily, or smaller stretches multiple times a day. Is it a perfect day out? Spend the whole day outside! Apparently, the average American child watches 1200 hours or television per year, so why can't we match that with time spent outside. Start small and work your way up, or start off big right away. I promise you that given the time to adapt to the lifestyle change, everyone in your family will benefit greatly from this. Please visit this website for some inspiration:

I'm going to start this year long challenge off with a mini challenge of my own. If I could have any wish granted for my Birthday, it would for a day spent like my 25th birthday, tobogganing with friends and all of our children, then coming home to have some hot cocoa. Tomorrow is my 26th birthday by the way ;) oh, and Merry Christmas too! GET OUTSIDE.
P.S. If it's -40... please don't go outside for 4-6 hours. you might smart and safe during the extreme cold and heat seasons. Make up for hours lost on nicer days.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Things I Didn't Do This Christmas

Last year when Deacon was a baby I found this great way of crossing things off of my crazy-long to-do list....

I just didn't do them!

So here's my list of "didn't" so far this year:

I didn't send out Christmas cards.
I have some photo cards for close family that I'll be using as gift tags and the rest will be thank-you notes for gifts.

I didn't make tins full of cookies and treats.
I'm usually really into the baking but this year my list was so long that it just didn't sound fun so I whipped up three bid batches of simple cookies and gave everyone little baggies with one of each kind. Realistically everyone gets so many cookies this time of year that no one minded.

I didn't make even half of the homemade presents I'd planned to.
And I'm ok with that. I mostly did the kids presents because those are the ones I enjoy the most.

Half of my Decorations stayed in the box.
The tree is the part that the kids are really into, they don't really notice the rest. Besides, less to put away next week!

Deacon may not get his stocking made again this year...
I'll admit to not being super thrilled about this one but it's not worth not sleeping some night over. I'm telling myself I'll whip it up in the days after Christmas to be put away for next year, but I said that last time and once Christmas was over I wanted nothing to do with seasonal crafts so we'll see.

You know what though? My kids made cookies, picked presents, decorated the tree, read Christmas books and have been breathlessly counting down the days.  A longer list would have meant less time for those things, or doing them myself without them slowing me down. So I'm ok with my list.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad!

The BIG surprise at our family birthday party last week, was that we made a coffee table for our Dad. Why a coffee table, you ask? Because DJ and Sophie thought it would be fun to bash his current table with mini hockey sticks. Paappa didn't much like the new modification. Our plan was for our family to build it, then bring it to Guelph while our parents were in Sudbury, so that Kathryn's family could finish it and SURPRISE!!! but no, the date of the party was moved around four times until it was finalised. Instead, we (Elijah) built the table, and covered it with a table cloth and candy. We were so sneaky, until a beer was knocked over on it. Off came the table cloth, since the wood wasn't finished and we didn't want beer on the untreated wood... "uhhhh HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!!" In the end, it guess it worked out for the best, since he wants it stained a different colour than what we had intended.

Plans courtesy on ana white

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Easy DIY's For Baby

 A whole list of them in fact! I put this together for the Sweet Baby Starter Kits site, but thought you might like to see it too. There's a little bit of everything, and nothing's too complicated so it's a good place to start if you're not a confident crafter. I hope you find something you like!

Here's a place to start if you're looking to save some money with diy baby things. Be creative finding materials; old clothes, scrap yarn, thrift stores, you'd be amazed what you can come up with!


Sewing your own cloth diapers

One size cloth diaper tutorial

Make your own pre-folds

Pre-folds from t-shirts

Or tie dye them, just for fun

Sewn wool diaper covers

Sewn longies pattern, multiple sizes

Crochet diaper covers

Knit diaper covers

Cloth wipes tutorial

Sew a swim diaper, many sizes

Accessories  for baby

Toms inspired baby shoes

Crochet boy boat shoes

Baby shoes from an old purse

Colour block crochet baby mitts, 0-3m

Crochet baby mitts 3 sizes

Crochet baby socks

 Knit crossover booties

 T-shirt baby hats, 3 kinds

Accessories for Mama

Reusable breast pads

Crochet nursing necklace

 Diy breastfeeding infinity scarf

Nursing cover

 Turn your regular bra into a nursing bra

Easy comfy maternity skirt

Maternity support belt

Sewn baby clothes

Sleep gown from an adult t-shirt

Newborn sleeper

Knit jammies out of cardigans

Easy baby pants

Baby leggings pattern in three sizes

Sweater leggings

Baby dresses out of shirts

Turn a girl's stained top into a ruffled shrug

Newborn size kimono shirt

Baby shorts!.html

0-3 month size sweatshirt pattern

Fleece jumpsuit, 0-9m

 Tiny tunic, 3-6 m

Knit and crochet baby clothes

Crochet newborn sweater

Crochet newborn dress

Crochet bear hat pattern, all sizes

Crochet sweater, several sizes

Knit overalls, several sizes

Knit dress, several sizes

Knit sweater, several sizes

Baby blankets

Knit 10 stitch blanket, good scrap buster

Crochet granny square blanket

Diy crib sheet

No sew fleece blanket

 Baby wearing

X-back baby carrier

Water sling

Whole list of baby carrier tutorials

Baby gear

Super absorbent baby bib!.html

Travel chair

 Sling bag

bustle backpack

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Polar Express

Our family December birthday party was on Sunday. Since our household has been fighting a cold for almost a month, and we were hosting the party, we had to clean the house, and it was a mess. Not gonna lie, it took two ENTIRE days to clean it. By clean, I mean that there is a laundry basket overflowing with stuff that needs to find homes plus unfinished Christmas projects, sitting in my laundry room.

Since there are four birthdays in December, and we didn't want to leave anyone out, we made three 'cakes'. The first was gingerbread made by my wonderful sister, for me <3. the second was cheesecake for my hubby. and the third was a Train cake, for our Dad and my son. I googled a carrot cake recipe and winged the cream cheese icing. it was pretty darn tasty. Using the train cake tutorial from the Kraft website, The kids and I created The Polar Express!!!! ( Christmas Train....)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Warm Pirate PJ's with Tutorial

This photo tells you exactly how much she loves these pj's <3

So Sophie had a streak of waking up in the middle of the night and we finally figured out that the problem was that she was cold. This is because she only wants to sleep under her blankie, which is sized for a baby and leaves more of her sticking out every week. On the bright side this has FINALLY convinced her to sleep under the beautiful quilt Jess made for her first birthday!

So clearly warm jammies were in order. This pair was made from an over sized sweatshirt, plus contrasting pirate fabric for the arms. This version balloons out at the waist and tapers again at the legs, but I'll explain how to make it normally as well.

First start with a sweatshirt. Make sure the sweatshirt from shoulder to above the hem is as long or longer than your child's body (from shoulder to crotch for regular jammies, or plus a few inches for the balloon version.) Same for the sweatshirt arms. These will be your pj legs so they need to be long enough, or a bit longer for the balloon version. The sizes you can make are only limited by how big of a sweatshirt you can find!

Optional: If your sweatshirt is wide enough you can cut your sleeves out of the sides of the sweatshirt body. You will want to decide this before you start cutting as you would leave the waistband on to serve as the sleeve cuffs. This will probably only work for the regular pj's though, unless you are doing the balloon version out of a very large sweatshirt in a very small size.

So, lay your sweatshirt out flat. cut off and save the waistband. Cut straight across the sleeves. Optional: cut the sleeve seams off so they are not in your way later. Cut straight down the front from collar to hem. For the regular version cut off the side seams to the desired width+seam allowances+whatever you need to attach buttons, zipper, snaps etc.

Next, measure how long your child's shoulder seam is. A well fitting shirt is good got this. For the balloon version cut from this measurement on an angle until you meet the side seam at about the waist. For the regular version cut on the same angle (shoulder width to side seam) but only as deep as your sleeve will be.

 I didn't round the armholes on the project, I wanted it to be as simple as possible.

If you have not made your sleeves yet, now's the time. That well fitting shirt you used for the shoulder measurement would make a good template. No curves again, match the angle of the armhole. Using the cut off waistband as a cuff ties things in nicely. Remember to cut the cuff a bit smaller than the wrist opening and to stretch it to fit!

Sew on cuff (if necessary). I sewed my pj's with a very narrow zigzag stitch but use whatever works best for your machine.  Attach arms and sew side seams in favorite manner.Honestly I prefer sewing the arm to the body while the side seam on the body and the seam the length of the sleeve are still open, then sewing in an L from cuff to hem, but that's just me. As long as everything is attached when you're done who cares?

Legs next. Put the wide ends of your sleeves side by side and measure across. Is this wider than your body width measurement (regular pj's)?  Take the sleeves in until they match. If it's wider for the balloon version you're good to go. If they aren't wide enough for either version leave a small space between then as a crotch when you attach to the body.

To attach the legs to the body:
Place a pin in the hem at the center back of your sweatshirt. Starting there (or over a bit if you're adding a crotch space) put the leg and body pieces right sides together and pin around. You should have extra material when you're done, where you cut the slit down the front of the shirt. This  is important because you will use it for your fasteners. Repeat on other side and sew.  This seam will look terrible, especially on the balloon version because it's so wide and sticks out all flat and weird.

Don't panic though, the baggy way they fit makes it hardly noticeable. If it's really obvious on the regular ones you could try covering it with lace or ribbon, adding strips to other parts of the jammies too to make it blend in. I wouldn't worry too much though, they're just for sleeping in.

Now, all that's left are those extra flaps of material down the front. I'm not the sort to dictate how you should close the front. I know everyone has their favorite, For the buttons I folded the flaps in half underneath and sewed them down, then overlapped the sewn flaps for a few inches at the bottom and sewed those together. I then made four buttonholes and sewed the buttons on.  Feel free to modify for a zipper or snaps though, or to change how high or low your opening is.  (Make sure the crotch area is sewn closed if necessary).

In no universe are you getting a closer view of those buttonholes. 
And there you have it! Jammies upcycled from a sweatshirt! If you try it out and need any of the steps explained further feel free to ask in the comments.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Gingerbread Three Ways

Mmm... Cookies....

Sorry to tempt you, but if you're on my Christmas cookie list you may just get some. If you're not (or just want more than I gave you) then you need to head over to MADE for the gingerbread softies recipe. This is the recipe that I get asked for every year, it's that good!

As fun as decorating gingerbread is, I'm not usually a huge fan of the cookie itself. These are soft and chewy with a bit of extra sweet outside... mmm...

Frozen is still a thing in our house, so as Sophie was  rolling the dough she decided that she was making sugar trolls :)

I did sacrifice about a third of the dough for more traditional gingerbread making. Jess usually makes herself a gingerbread house for her birthday, but this year we are doing a four way December birthday bash and she's making two other cakes.

I will freely admit that gingerbread house building is not one of my skills so I borrowed this neat looking star cookie cutter tree set Mom had picked up.  Isn't that cute?

Kind of a cookie pyramid from this angle... I will freely admit to skipping the bottom two cookies though. The largest cookie cutter is the size of a salad plate and this is cake number three for the same afternoon.

This is gingerbread number three. It's gingerbread play-dough! Smells soooo good. So good in fact that I skipped making the second batch for my kids (this is part of DJ's birthday present) because it smelled so much like the cookie dough we've been playing with the last few days.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The "I Can't Read Russian" Dress

I think I did pretty well, considering I winged it from a picture.

Here is a closeup of the print, since it's fairly subtle. I have no idea what sort of material this is. I've never seen anything like it before. The outside is soft, almost like a flannel but it has a fair bit of stretch to it. Fabricland was clearing it out at something crazy like 2$ a meter so this was definitely coming home with me, planned or not!

The link to the pattern is here. It's a diagram with measurements. It's actually quite clear even if you can't read what I'm guessing is Russian.  The numbers are presumably centimeters, but since I'm clearly larger than the (drawn) model and like my dresses to have more length, I approximated the basic shapes using a t-shirt as a starting point.

This is the front and back pieces cut out and laid on top of each other. If you look crazy close at the bottom you can see the higher hem of the top piece.

This is how that same curve looks stuck out instead of draped. Occasionally it will pop out instead of draping nicely so I'm thinking of taking it in a bit so I don't feel silly.

Here is a mistake I made before even starting the dress. When I don't have pattern in mind when buying fabric, I always buy either one or two meters depending on the price and what I'm guessing I'll want it for. Problem is, most dresses need at least 2 1/4 meters so that your sleeves can be on the fold and not have a seam through the middle. Oh well.

Here it is on, isn't the drape lovely? It's a bit tighter through the chest and arms than I was going for because the fabric has less stretch than the t-shirt I used to draft it. I like how it turned out though.

Keep your eye out for more dresses this month. Dressember (a fundraiser to help stop the trafficking of women) starts today and I'll be in dresses from now until new years! 

You can take a look at my page here:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Skinny Jeans

Not Mom jeans. But technically. My Mom's jeans that landed in the donation bin because they never did fit her right. For some reason she didn't recognize them when they came walking in her front door one day...

So they started life like this. I traced around the legs of a pair that fit me well.

Pins and the marker line, this is the outside of the leg. Sew along that line, trim and zigzag the raw edges.

Try them on and pin the inside curves. Leave lots of ankle room, as I learned the hard way the very first time I tried this. Take the pants off with comical slowness as your husband laughs at you for hopping around the living room in your underwear, half out of pin-filled pants. 

Sew and finish the inside seam, flip them right side out and there you have it. 
Brand new skinny jeans.

Hopefully it goes without saying that you need to start with a pair of stretchy pants for this! Or avoid eating, and preferably breathing as well.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My girls are a Hoot

For Halloween this year, we tried to convince our kids to be dragon ball characters. They wanted nothing to do with that. Dj was determined to wear his wolf costume from last year, and Katie wanted to be an owl. I thought I could make Hunter a fox costume and then I would have three little forest animals. Fortunately, Katie thought better of my awful idea and decided that both her and Hunter needed to be owls.

Just like Sophie and Deacon's costumes, I wanted the girls costumes to be usable after Halloween night. To do that, I simply made them owl hoodies. I bought them plain grey hoodies from the boys section at WalMart. It's the only place that I've ever been able to find plain ones in neutral colours. Or any colour for that matter. We then looked for felt to make the feathers, but couldn't find any there, or at the dollar store. I ended up settling on a stack of 2$ tee shirts from the dollar store. The wings are hand sewn so that they can be easily removed if they don't hold up in the washing machine. The faces are made with felt that I already had, as are Katie's belly and feet. I think they turned out perfectly <3

Altogether, I ended up spending about 12$ on each of them, but the sweaters were new and 8$ a piece. Still less expensive than buying costumes, and the girls have adorable sweaters now. Katie's is a size 4 boy's, so it should fit for another year still. Hunter's is a boy's size 2, which was the smallest size that they offered so it should fit for ever. DJ's costume on the other hand, needs it's tail re sewn after having a meeting with the washing machine, but it was a little on the small side anyways.

Katie's front
Katie's feet
Katie's back

Hunter's back

Hunter's front

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fox Socks

So the very first Christmas presents I finished were for Katie and DJ. I was so excited when Jess liked my first suggestion because I was dying to make these socks! (Would it be fabulous or lame if I made myself a pair someday?)

The yarn is a worsted weight, the same stuff I dyed here. I would normally post the sock pattern but I had some issues with it. The tutorial for the fox details are found here on Ravelry, and are beyond worth checking out! You can make little tails too, to attach to the cuffs but I didn't think that would fit well under pants. (You can actually use the fox face for mittens too.)

The only thing I changed was to make the ears a single layer, so that they would be comfortable in shoes. I definitely want these to be wearable as well as cute. Below you can see the red and orange socks together. Just different enough to be able to tell whose is whose.

The real dilemma now is, which colour will go to which kid? 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Baby Hunter's Christmas Present

So baby Hunter's Christmas present was finished this week, when the hubby stole the kids for the afternoon. I had the sleeves and top of a fair isle sweater in my stash and there's just something about a  baby in knit pants...

Here's a better look at the print. They're made basically the same way as these sweatpants, just from an  knit sweater instead of a sweatshirt. Here's a close-up of the print:

I've made these leggings so many times that I can whip them up in my sleep and I really wanted to add a little something to it. I settled on a little lace trimmed pixie bonnet. Even easier than the pants since it's just a long rectangle sewed up the back but it makes suck a cute little pointy top when it's put on.

My only worry  is if it will fit. Guesstimating baby head sizes is not an exact science...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Story Disks

I may be a lazy parent most days, my kids thrive on neglect, but I always have things on hand for them to do. We keep our craft supplies available to them at all times, in a nine cube storage unit in the kitchen. I have a big bucket of play dough in the fridge with tons of cookie cutters, rollers and play dough mats available. Puzzles, board games and a really neat doll house that my aunt made for the kids take up our living room area upstairs. Down stairs is the play room, which houses all of their pretend play stuff as well as the rest of their toys. One special toy down there is the puppet theater, which I will post about in the near future. Some of my favourite memories from childhood, involve myself, my brother, my sister and two of our friends, putting on plays in the basement. They evolved over the years and somehow all five of us still love theater today. I really want my kids to grow up with their imaginations intact, so I try to provide them with opportunities to 'tell me a story'.

One way to do this is by using story stones, or disks. I decided to use wooden disks, as I was going to make 6 or 7 sets of these for Christmas gifts for other kids in our lives. I thought that shipping a bunch of rocks across the country would cost a pretty penny. I painted random things on one side of each disk with acrylic paint, and then applied a coat of mod lodge to help protect it. The backs are blank so that each family can add their own pictures. How you play is up to you and your children. I think that we will start by saying 'Tell me a story' and reaching in the bag for a disk to start our adventure with.