Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Colorful Cheerful Baby Quilt

I made a gorgeous quilt over the last few days, so I thought I'd share the picture progression with all of you!

I was searching for a sweet (yet simple!) baby quilt to make for my cousin's baby shower, when I found this pattern over at Cluck Cluck Sew.  I loved it in the colors she used, but knew I could make it even cuter using more girly colors!

So my daughter and I headed to the fabric shop!  

We found this super-soft flannel and knew right away that it was going to be our backing fabric.

Then we got to work finding 27 different fabrics that would coordinate!  That was a challenge, but we managed. 

Once my strips were cut, I was ready to get sewing!

I put together this beautiful quilt top in just about an hour, and I just laid it out and stared at it for a while.  It is gorgeous!  The colors just go together perfectly, and it's so bright and cheery!

Once that part was done, I went on to make my quilt sandwich.  When I use flannel as the backing, it clings very nicely to the rug in my family room, so I use that area to pin baste!

Then I had to decide how I was going to quilt it.  I didn't want straight lines like I usually do, but I haven't yet mastered the free-motion quilting.  I spent a few hours doing research, and finally came up with this design:

I thought the clamshells would be perfect to put in each of the strips of fabric and the diamonds would look great in the white strips, but then I had to decide what color thread to quilt it in...  So many choices!

I finally called in the big guns, and my oldest daughter decided on the colors!

I started by quilting the diamonds in the white strips using a turquoise thread.

Then I was excited!  I couldn't wait to get going on those clamshells!

So I tried one, and it was an epic fail.  It involved the seam ripper, and maybe a little bit of cursing under my breath.

Back to the drawing board, or the Pinterest board, as the case would be!

I spent another hour doing more research on quilting patterns that could be achieved easily with a walking foot.  Most of them were grids, zigzags, or other forms of straight lines.  

And then I found the 'orange peel', and a nifty little tutorial on how to do it with a walking foot.

I was sold!  

I laid my quilt sandwich out on the cutting board, grabbed several round objects from around my house, and got to work figuring out which one would be the right size for my quilt.  

I finally decided on one of the baby's bowls.  

Hey, whatever works, right?

Then I got to work, using the tools of champions- a baby bowl and a Mark-B-Gone pen.

Several hours later, my quilt top was marked and ready to be quilted!!!

I took a break, fed the baby, got the big kids some lunch, and then sat at the sewing machine for the daunting task of sewing a bazillion little circles.  

It seemed like it would take forever!

Surprisingly, I had the entire thing quilted in about two hours!!  Not too shabby!

The center strip (the part that was 'flipped') was quilted in a pink thread.

The outsides were both quilted in a purple thread.

It looked amazing!  

But there was still the business of those pesky blue lines from my marking pen.

So I grabbed my spray bottle, filled it with water (straight from the tap!), and sprayed down the quilt.

It was a little scary, I will admit.  

But those blue lines disappeared right before my eyes!  

I stuck the quilt sandwich in the dryer, and tumbled it on low heat for about 40 minutes until it was completely dry.  

It did shrink up a little bit, but I think that made it look even better!

Then the realization came to me that I still had to deal with my least favorite part of making a quilt...

Making bias tape.

It's horrific.  

I hate the waste.

I hate how much fabric it uses up.

I hate cutting on the bias and throwing away all of those triangles!

And then I found this tutorial.

And in about ten minutes, I had enough bias tape to bind the entire quilt.

All from a fat quarter. 

Yup.  It was awesome.

So I sewed it on.

And now my quilt looks like this.

All that's left to do now is to sew the binding on the back of the quilt.

But that has to be done by hand.

Another day.


Friday, March 28, 2014

A letter to SELF magazine and Lucy Danziger

Dear SELF Editor-in-Chief Lucy Danziger,

You are the worst kind of bully. You're a bully getting paid to bully.

You are in a position of power. You may not realize it, but young girls look up to women like you.

Girls like my 8 year old daughter.

She is beautiful, strong, graceful in her own sort of way, creative, and kind. She loves to dance, sing, read, run, draw pictures, and write stories.

She's got long hair that's finally grown back in after she cut it all off to donate in honor of her big cousin who beat cancer (she was only 6 at the time). She has big hazel eyes and a smile that boasts too-big-for-her-mouth teeth and lots of spaces. She has 'sticky-outie-ears' and crooked toes. She's an average height and weight for her age, not too tall or too short, not too chubby or too thin.

And she struggles with her body image.

She's 8 years old.

It's women like you who have the power to tell her that she is perfect just how she is.

You can use your powers for good.

You can take your publication and tell my daughter, and so many other daughters, that it doesn't matter what they look like. That the only thing that matters is that they love themselves, and treat others kindly.

Instead, you choose to use your powers for evil.

You tell women that they are not good enough how they are. That they need to do this, that, and the other thing in order to feel better about themselves.

And then next month, you tell them that, oops, you're still not good enough, try this now.

Your latest faux-pas brought you into the spotlight. You chose to poke fun at the wrong person. And good for her for standing up to you!

She looked you, the bully, in the eye. She told you how it is, and that she doesn't care if you like her tutu or not. She is proud of who she is. She is confident.

She is beautiful.

In spite of you.

And you apologized.

But you didn't apologize because you were wrong. You apologized because you got caught.

Because Monika happened to have gone through some unspeakable pains and fought back. Because she had the strength and courage to stand up to you.

Would you have apologized had it just been an average woman? If it was just a mom, having fun, running a race, to show her daughter that she could do anything?

Probably not.

You need to realize that what you did was wrong. Not because you got caught. Not because you chose the wrong person to poke fun at.

It was wrong because of your actions. Because of your words.

And that makes you the worst kind of bully.

I hope that you choose to look at this situation and change yourself for the better.

I hope you use this in your future and model the behavior of someone worthy of the position you hold.

I hope you become someone that little girls can look up to.

In the meantime, my daughter, and all of her Girls On The Run friends, will be sporting tutus in their 5K this Spring.

Because they know who to look up to.

And it's not you.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

10 Things To Do WITH KIDS When It's Too Hot To Go Outside

We are officially having a meteorlogical heatwave here in Upstate NY!! It's rare in this part of the country, but today is Day #3 of 90*+! Since it's so hot up here, I know that it's just as hot if not hotter in other places!

Together with my kids, we've put together a list of things to do when it's just too hot to go outside and play! We do not have central air, nor do we have a pool, so these are things that we do that are super cheap or FREE!

1. Go to the public library. bring a water bottle and have each child read one book (age and reading level appropriate) before they finish their water. Write down the title & author if you're not checking the book out (especially if you're participating in a summer reading program like BookIt!). Spend as much time in the air conditioning as possible! After all, you are paying for it with your tax dollars!


2. Check if your local bowling alley has a free summer program for kids! Ours does, and kids can bowl 2 free games every single day all summer long. We do have to pay the shoe rental fees, but those are only $3 per child. Turn it into a math game! After each game, have the kids figure out what their score would have been if they had gotten one more strike, two more strikes, or however many strikes they are old (my kids are 6 and 7, so I have them figure out their score if their top 6 & 7 scores had been strikes).

COST: $6

3. Go see a dollar movie! These are all movies that have been in the theatres previously, but the thrill of seeing them on the big screen is still there for kids!!! We bring a water bottle and stick some granola bars in my pocketbook for the kids so we can avoid the concession stands. Click on this link to find a participating theatre near you: York

COST: $2

4. Make a rainbow of Jell-O! Jell-O is one of the only desserts we can think of that doesn't involve turning the oven on, so we make lots of it over the summer! Pick up small boxes of Jell-O (about 50 cents each) in strawberry/cherry, orange, lemon, lime, berry blue, and grape. To make individual servings, get crystal clear plastic cups that will hold between 1/2 cup and 1 cup of liquid. Starting with grape, make your Jell-O, spoon about 1/2" into each cup, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Then do the same for each remaining color. We top ours with 'clouds' (Cool Whip) before we eat them! In between layers, read a chapter of a book aloud! Charlotte's Web, Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, James and the Giant Peach, and Indian in the Cupboard are great choices!

COST: $4-$5

5. Have a board game or card game tournament. You can do this at home, at the library, or even at a coffee shop or fast-food restaurant (some may require you to make a purchase if you're going to sit there for a long time, but a small drink will usually suffice!). Each child gets to pick a board game or card game. Play 2 rounds of each game if you do not want to keep 'score' or play for best of 3 rounds if you do want to keep score. Depending on the games chosen, this can keep everyone occupied for a few hours!

COST: FREE (or $1-$2 if required to make a purchase)

6. Go Christmas shopping! Christmas in July? Why not? Have your children pick a person on their Christmas list, and then pack up and head to the mall. When you get there, sit down on a bench or in the food court and brainstorm ideas for that person. Make sure the kids know what the budget is for that person before you start shopping. As you browse stores, the kids can write down what things they think the person would like, and how much they cost. After you've made it through the whole mall, sit down again and decide what to get!! Go back and make your purchase. When you get home, you can either wrap the gift right away, or stash it somewhere you'll remember it in December!

COST: Varies

7. Movie marathon day! Close all the shades/blinds in a room with a TV to block out the sun and the heat. Let the kids hang around in their undies if they want, and have them each pick a movie (or two!). Pull out the sleeping bags, fill a few ziploc baggies with ice, and stick them down inside the sleeping bags to keep cool! Instead of popcorn, have ice cream or sherbet.


8. Visit a local museum or planetarium. These are often higher-cost options, but will keep you in the air conditioning for the entire day. If yours permits it, pack a lunch so you can steer clear of the cafeteria, and bring refillable water bottles to fill up in the water fountains instead of purchasing drinks.

COST: Varies

9. Have a car and bike wash! Okay, so this one does put you outside, but it gives you and the kids plenty of water to play in and cool off! Put on bathing suits or old clothes, pull out the hose, grab a few buckets and sponges and some dish soap, and clean the car and the kids' bikes! Let the kids go hog-wild and don't worry if they start spraying each other (or you!) with the hose! Make sure the windows of the car are closed before you start! On a hot, hot day, everything will dry off pretty quickly, and you can always run your car through a 'real' carwash at a later date if the streaks and soap bubble outlines bother you. Or you can just enjoy the hard work and FUN!


10. Last but not least, seek out some water! Look for a lake, ocean, river, creek, sprinkler, splash park, friend with a pool, public pool, water park, or even the local Y, and hang out there for the day. Make sure you pack the sunscreen and slather everyone up well before you even leave the house. Bring plenty of water and snacks, and if you're going to a friend's house, bring a treat for everyone! Not all of these options will be free, but they will certainly be worth it!

COST: Varies

So there you go! I hope we've helped you think outside the box and find ways to beat the heat this summer!

For us, we're off to the library today!