Sunday, December 15, 2013

Our Simple, Less is More Christmas Decor, 2013

I think I put up fewer Christmas decorations every year. Since Elsie is still keeping me very busy with her needs, our Christmas decorations are super simple this year, and mostly things we already had. Going with a "less is more" mentality has really helped me zero in on what I truly love. There may be fewer Christmas decorations sitting out this year, but I find myself liking my house better, and not dreading putting everything away! I'm also realizing that since our house is small (just over 1000 sq. ft.) and has an open floor plan, it really does not take much to make it feel decorated. So, with all that said, let's get on to the fun part, the pictures!

Our Christmas tree sits in the corner of the living room and is decorated with white bulbs (one thing I actually purchased this year), some homemade ornaments from years past, as well as a few favorite store-bought ornaments. For a garland, I cut up strips of burlap. When Christmas is over, I roll up the burlap into little bundles for next year. I think this is our third year with the burlap garland. The more tattered it gets, the more I love it! Instead of a tree skirt, I have a wooden crate we found on the side of the road a few years ago. Fitting the tree into our living room required a bit of furniture rearranging, so for now, the loveseat is in front of the french doors.

The red afghan and pillows are always in our living room, but next to the tree, they look so Christmasy! To see how I made the "home" pillow (the sewing part, not the stenciling) check out my tutorial.

I have several nativities, but only put out the Little People one this year. I love that it's not something I have to keep little hands from breaking. As we try to teach Violet about Jesus' birth this Christmas, I love how this nativity set allows her to get hand-on with the story. Her red Anywhere Chair from Pottery Barn got a fun little muslin and ruffly pillow to dress it up for Christmas, but I may just leave it out all year.

Some of my favorite ornaments... On the left is one my sister crocheted for me several years ago, and on the right is my Christmas craft from last year. I took paper-mache ornaments from A.C. Moore and painted them with chalkboard paint. Last year, I wrote different Christmasy words on each one. This year, I wrote the name of a family member on each ornament.

This ornament is made from another paper-mache craft store ornament, with Violet's baby silhouette printed off the computer and mod-podged on top. I need to make one for Elsie this year!

There's not much decoration happening in the dining room. But this white bowl from Pier 1 gives a wintery feel when filled with pine cones. It will probably stay out all winter too.

The kitchen received a little decoration with a burlap JOY banner over the sink. It's hard to see in this picture because of the light coming through the window.

Pom-pom fringe on this towel almost makes drying dishes a joy. Get it? Joy? ;)

The bay window has it's usual decor, with the addition of the Let It Snow sign from Target's dollar section, as well as these sweater trees, from last year's Target Christmas decor.

The "R" wall became our Christmas stocking spot this year, since we are mantel-less.

I didn't want to have the hooks up all year, so instead of drilling holes, we loaded up the back of the wooden piece with 3M Command Strips!

Violet and Daddy are the only ones with stockings. I made my husband a Christmas stocking the first year we were dating, and I finally made one for Violet last Christmas. I have fabric for Elsie's, so hopefully I will have time to get to that project before Christmas. Unfortunately, it will involve quilting, definitely not my forte. After finishing Elsie's baby quilt this summer, I thought I was done quilting for a while, but I'm hoping to fit in this smaller project without too much stressing. Someday I'll make one for me!

I think I am too obsessive about finding the perfect Christmas fabric and that is why these stockings are taking  me way too long to make. Last year I found the coolest Christmas fabric to make Vi's stocking: the characters of the nativity as matryoshka dolls!

Last year, I bought a small white artificial tree for the girls' room. I have big plans to make it all fancy someday, but for now, it's only decoration is a couple yards of bright pink pom-pom fringe.

In place of a tree skirt, I wrapped the base in a yard of Christmas fabric from Michael Miller.

It feels decorated, yet there's room for me or the girls to make some special ornaments to add to it in the coming years. The rocker has long since been moved to our room, and the bookcase had been where the tree is now, so we just moved it to the other side of the room and put the tree here at the foot of the Farmhouse Toddler Bed my husband made for Violet last year.

Honestly, I'm just thrilled that we were able to fit their tree in the room this year since taking this room from being just Violet's nursery, to now a shared nursery and toddler room. It fits pretty well!

You can also check out our Christmas Decorations from two years ago, when I was feeling a bit more ambitious with the amount of decorations I put out. I'm enjoying our simple decor this year. It definitely fits where we are in life right now.

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours!

Linking up to:

The Nesting Place's 2013 Christmas Tour of Homes
Inspire Me Please Weekend Blog Hop with House of Rose

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

DIY Owl Costume

Today I'm sharing pics from Violet's costume from last year's trick or treat.

She went as the cutest little toddler owl! Her costume was fun and and pretty easy to make. I promise I didn't make it purple because of her name! I had planned to make her a pink owl, but then I found the hat at Target and decided that switching to a purple owl was worth not having to sew a hat.

I read lots of tutorials about how to make my own owl costume. Most are pretty similar: cut a large circle out of felt, cut a slit up one side into the center, and then cut a hole in the center to accommodate your child's neck. After that, glue or sew (I used hot glue) feather-shaped pieces of felt allover your felt circle, sew some ribbon to the edges of the neckline to create ties, and you're done!

I went through this process in about two short evenings, and had a lot of fun doing it. It's not a project where everything has to be perfect, so there's no pressure. Chances are, it will turn out pretty cute for you too.

But then, I came to the unexpected obstacle: my child! She did not want to wear the costume, and as soon as I put it on her, she promptly flipped her wings back and started tugging at the ties around her neck.

Honestly, I can't blame her. The weight of all that heavy felt was probably pretty uncomfortable when held in place by just two little strips of fabric tied at her neck.

But mommy was not to be so easily conquered. Haha. I knew she would make an adorable little purple owl, and I wasn't giving up!

I found an old hoodie sweatshirt that had some stains and so she wasn't likely to wear it again. Using my fabric scissors, I cut off the hood. Then I spread out my owl cape with the feather-side down and the plain felt part facing up. I spread out the hoodie on top of the cape so that the neckline of the cape and the neckline of the hoodie matched. Then I hotglued the hoodie across the back of the shoulders and down the top of each sleeve to my cape. Make sure the arms are spread out. If you're concerned about proper placement, I recommend trying the hoodie on your child, lay the cape overtop, and then safety-pin the cape to the hoodie (hopefully your child holds still better than mine does) to determine where you will need to apply the hot glue.

Once the glue had dried and I put the costume back on her, she didn't mind it at all. I think it was just the very unusual feeling of wearing a cape that had really put her off to wearing it in the first place. Once she felt like she was just wearing a jacket, she didn't mind at all.

A little practice trick-or-treating didn't hurt either. Once she realized that looking cute in her costume and knocking on doors got her candy, she was all in.

Hopefully this year's costume will be a similar success. It's partially complete, but needs some tweaking to get a better fit. I hope to blog about it sometime in the next week.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Little Girl DIY Kitty Cat Costume

Here's a simple costume I put together two years ago for Violet's first Trick or Treat.

She went as a little black cat.

This costume was so comfy for her to wear and easy for me to put together. Almost everything was able to be used again as part of her regular wardrobe, which is something I try to do as much as possible when planning a costume.

The main part of the costume was a black turtleneck shirt, black stretchy pants, and black socks. These all became part of her regular wardrobe after Trick or Treat was over.

Then I found a black headband and made two little cat ears out of black felt which I then hot-glued to the top of the headband. The headband is now part of our dress-up supplies for everyday play.

Next, I took some black jersey knit fabric I had on hand and sewed a long skinny tube which I then filled with fiber-fill and safety-pinned to her pants just below the waistband. Pinning it above her bottom allowed her to still sit down comfortably. She wasn't yet walking at this time, so it was so cute to see her little kitty cat tail bouncing around as she crawled. You could also take a pair of black little girl stockings and cut the leg off one to use for a tail, but it might not have as much curve to it as mine did. The seam up the one side of the tail I sewed caused the fabric to stretch unevenly and gave the tail a perfect cat-like curve. I didn't plan that, it was just a happy coincidence!

It would be very easy to do a similar costume as a mouse or a dog, just changing the color of the outfit and the style of the ears.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Welcome Elsie Rose!

I know it's been quiet here on the blog the last few weeks, but I have a really good excuse...

This is our newest blessing, Elsie Rose, who arrived almost three weeks ago. She's such a sweet girl, and we are all completely in love with her.

I'll get back to posting regularly as soon as I can, but please excuse me if things are a bit sporadic for a while while we adjust to new schedules, routines, etc.

We're trying to get as much baby-snuggling in as we can. We know they grow up much too fast!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Adjustable Crib Skirt DIY

Crib skirts are cute, but can be a real pain. If they're the right length when your crib mattress is at it's highest height (usually when baby is not yet sitting), it will be dragging on the floor once baby is standing and the crib mattress has to be lowered. On the other hand, if you find one that just brushes the floor on the crib's lowest height, your crib skirt will have high-waters when the mattress is raised.

There's just no winning.

Until this method.

I would like to introduce you to my diy crib skirt, which- wait for it, can be adjusted in length to accommodate every height setting on your crib!!! Here's how it works. (And forgive me for not having step-by-step pictures, but this was made in my pre-bloggy days.)

Basically, you are making a giant ruffle. I made mine out of about 7 yards of white eyelet lace fabric. Because this is a thin fabric, I folded the fabric in half lengthwise, and let the plainer part of the fabric act as a lining to the edge that was scalloped and more decorative. Once I had ironed and gathered all seven yards with my sewing machine, I sewed a thick piece of double-fold bias tape along the top of the ruffle. You don't have to be very neat about sewing on the bias tape, which is good because this is a lot of fabric to wrangle through your machine. Just try to keep your bias tape fairly straight as you sew and you should be fine.

Then, I cut two splits in my crib skirt to accommodate the legs of my crib, and made a narrow hem on the raw edges of those slits.

So, now you are ready to put your crib skirt onto your crib.

First, I will explain the duct tape method. This is best if you have a solid wood base for your mattress support.

First, spread out your crib skirt around the edges of your wooden crib support, with the splits in the correct place to accommodate the legs of the crib. Make sure the crib skirt comes around the edge of the wooden base, and through the proper space on the crib (this will be a little different for every style of crib), and hangs down just a little above the floor.

Hopefully, this will be a pretty tight fit and your crib skirt will be semi-stuck in place just from being pinched between the wooden parts of your crib.

Now you can tug on the top or bottom edge of your crib skirt, all the way around, until it just graces the top of the floor.

Now, get out some duct tape, and tape the bias-tape edge down onto the wooden crib support. Don't worry about it leaving some tape residue on the fabric. This part is never going to be seen.

Put your mattress in place on top of the wooden crib support, and you're good to go! Now, when you go to lower your mattress as baby gets older and more adventurous, just move the bias-tape edge of your crib skirt further into the wooden support area and re-tape it in place to adjust for the change in height of your crib mattress.

As a side note, if you have a wire crib support base, you can achieve a very similar set up by sewing long pieces of ribbon every few inches to the top of your bias tape. Then, instead of taping your crib skirt in place, tie it to the wire grid of your crib support. You'll still be able to adjust the length of your crib skirt by how far into the crib support you place your ties. Lindsay did a great job of demonstrating this version. Definitely check out her how-to.

I love how this crib skirt worked out when I used it for Violet. I was able to have a perfect looking crib skirt despite the various heights we used for her crib mattress. Also, making your own can be sooo much cheaper. I think I spent about $35 to make this crib skirt myself, when buying a brand new eyelet lace crib skirt would have cost me around $100. Definitely worth an afternoon at my sewing machine to save that kind of money! I'm excited to get some more use out of this crib skirt with our newest girl's arrival.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Baby Quilt = COMPLETE!!!

I feel like I should title this post, It. Is. Finished. Or maybe, I did it! I did it! (Violet's favorite phrase when celebrating one of her accomplishments.) This quilt is my magnum opus. My gift of love for my new baby. I like to think of it as giving birth... with fabric. Tired of the dramatics? Ok, I'll wrap it up.

I'm soooo glad to have this project completed and no longer hanging over my head.

I've had the quilt top done for about two weeks, but kept putting off the next step: laying out the quilt backing, cotton batting, and quilt top, smoothing and straightening everything (ugh!), pinning the layers together, and then sewing through everything on my machine.

Saturday, I told myself that whatever hadn't been finished by the end of the weekend was not going to be finished because I was packing it all away until well after baby is born. Sometimes, I have to be stern with myself and set boundaries. :)

My husband keeps trying to convince me that the baby quilt being unfinished is the whole reason little E hasn't already come out yet. I was having such strong contractions after two hours hunched over my sewing machine, stitching the bias tape around the edges, that I was starting to believe him. Wishful thinking? Probably, but a small part of me fully expected my water to break with the final stitch. Alas, still nothing. I have tons of contractions every evening, but according to my doctor's office last week, absolutely no progress. :(  I'd love to meet this baby girl as soon as possible, but am mostly content to wait, so long as she doesn't have to be evicted like her big sister was. That's an experience I hope never to repeat.

So, we wait. And I sew. And my mom actually keeps her cell phone charged and handy. This is a lesson I've been trying to get through to her for years, so it's good to know there's some positive side-affects to baby not rushing to have a birthday.

Poor Violet was feeling a little jealous over all the time I spent on the baby quilt, so this morning I whipped up a miniature baby doll quilt for her Bitty Baby doll. It's super simple, and nothing fancy, but I think it turned out pretty cute.

It was one of those projects I didn't really feel like doing at the time, but as I looked at our fabric-covered dining room table, I knew if I didn't tackle it now when everything is sitting out and ready to go, it would probably never get done. Miss V was super interested in the sewing process and wanted to sit beside me and watch everything, but was then unimpressed by the final results.

That's ok. Mama had fun covering up Bitty Baby with her little bitty blanket. You're never too old to play with dolls. That's true. Right?

Now to go make some baby headbands. Because you can never have too many accessories, even if you're brand new to the world. :)