Category Archives: Craft

Can I sew? Totes!

Can I say totes while being 30-something and sound cool? I’m guessing I can’t pull it off. But what can I pull off? Making a tote bag to haul my and Tyler’s stuff to work/daycare everyday. I was nervous about this project, but this might be the easiest one I’ve done so far…or I’m just getting better at sewing.

So first why a tote bag?  Well for the past 2 years or so I’ve been using a Menard’s reusable shopping bag.  They aren’t the most stylish bags I’ve ever seen, and on top of that I’ve hauled so much stuff in them that both of our bags now have holes in them .  It was beyond time for a new bag.

My two fabrics.  The chevorn was for the inside and the teal flower print was for the outside.

My two fabrics. The chevron was for the inside and the teal flower print was for the outside.

I found a great tutorial just by Googling for tote bag sewing instructions.  Outside of cutting the 4 pieces of fabric for the body of the bag, it only took me about 3 hours to crank out the rest of this.  That may sound like a lot, but for a novice like me, it’s pretty good!  I decided that the 13.5″x14″ created in the tutorial was too small for me especially when I have to haul diapers to daycare. I increased the size to 17″x16.5″.  I unfortunately didn’t realize I was going to do this when I bought my fabric from Fabric.com, so I had to go back and order more.  Even with having to do that, I still only spent about $14.50 for the entire bag.  I don’t think I could have found a bag at the store for cheaper than that, so I think I finally saved money on a project!  If I’d ordered the right amount of fabric the first go around I would have saved significantly on the shipping too!

So I forgot to take pictures of all my steps because I got in such a zone once I started on the straps and was sewing it all together.  I’m pretty proud of this bag though.  I use it every single day, and I really like how it looks.  It actually looks like something I bought at a store.  I’m seriously considering making another one just for the fun of it.

My finished tote bag.  I didn't get a picture of the chevron on the inside, but it's there!

My finished tote bag. I didn’t get a picture of the chevron on the inside, but it’s there!

This is a project that I could definitely see giving as a gift or something like that. Everything else I’ve done, not so much. I’m definitely beginning to feel like I’m actually becoming a decent sewer though. I’m pretty proud of my progress since the middle of January. Now I need to figure out what to sew next! Any ideas?

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All Hands for Moms!

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all the mothers out there!  I was excited to celebrate my 2nd Mother’s Day this Sunday.  I spent a wonderful day at home with my 3 boys (yes Gus counts!).  We spent one day last weekend with my mother-in-law to celebrate and next weekend we’re going to go to the zoo with my parents to celebrate with them, so that left today just for us.

Since we didn’t spend the actual day with either of our mothers, I wanted to created something special for both grandmas.  What I came up with was a flower pot with the grandkids’ hand prints on it!  Eric’s mom’s flowerpot had all 3 boys’ hand prints (Tyler and my 2 nephews) while my mom’s only has Tyler’s.

The first step was to paint the terracotta pots with white house paint.

The first step was to paint the terracotta pots with white house paint.

I used two terracotta pots that I got from Hobby Lobby. I wanted to paint the pots white so it would be easy to see the hand prints against the pot. I tried some tempura paint to begin, but after 6 coats or so, it was still soaking into the pot and I was getting no where. Eric suggested that I try our Behr Premium Ultra paint that we use for trims and doors. I washed all the tempura paint off, and started in with the house paint.  It worked perfectly. I was able to cover the pots pretty well after 3 coats. It still wasn’t perfect, but it was white enough that we could easily see any paint color that was used on it.

I used a spray sealer from Krylon to coat the pots to keep the hand prints from running when the plants were watered.

I used a spray sealer from Krylon to coat the pots to keep the hand prints from running when the plants were watered.

The next step was to get the kids wrangled and paint their hands to put them on the pots. My nephews (and of course my brother and sister-in-law) were here visiting in the middle of April, so it was the perfect time to work on this. Some kids were more cooperative than others (Tyler was not a fan of anyone messing with his hands at all!) I used plain old washable paint for this step. My sister-in-law helped me decide what the design would look like. She also had the fantastic idea of having the kids put their hand prints on construction paper and creating a flower from that. Then we would glue it to a stick and put it in the flower pot. Unfortunately, I remembered to have one child do this extra step, and then I even forgot to take that to my mother-in-law. I’m getting forgetful in my old age!

Once the hand prints were dry on the pots, I was able to paint their names either above or below the hand prints, as well as “Happy Mother’s Day 2013” around the top lip of the pot. Eric even got in on the design by telling me I had spelled Mother wrong the first time around (I got “H” happy!). Thank goodness for washable paint. On my mom’s since I had more room I was able to write “Love, Tyler” on the back. The last step was to spray the pots with 3 coats of Krylon clear sealer. This was a mandatory step since the paint is washable and plants have to have water!

The finished product.  My mother-in-law's is on the left, and my mom's is on the right.

The finished product. My mother-in-law’s is on the left, and my mom’s is on the right.

I think they turned out pretty well! The grandmas like them! My mom doesn’t have hers yet, but she has seen pictures of it. I’m glad that we were able to give a heartfelt present that will remind the grandmas of this Mother’s Day.

The amazing chocolate stuffed french toast with raspberry syrup that Eric made for me!

The amazing chocolate stuffed french toast with raspberry syrup that Eric made for me!

As for my Mother’s Day, it was much better than the first when we were all sick! Tyler slept in until after 7am, which was amazing! Eric made me delicious chocolate stuffed french toast with an amazing raspberry sauce.  My wonderful husband and son gave me a gorgeous petunia hanging basket and some of my favorite M&Ms, coconut! We then went to the local nursery to get plants for our garden as well as flowers for the flower beds. We had Chinese food for lunch, which usually I never get since Eric is not a “fan”.  Most importantly, I spent the rest of the day with my boys. I was even able to get most of my plants in the ground. It’s too bad I didn’t realize that there was a possibility for frost tonight before I planted them though!

It was a fantastic day. I love my guys and how sweet they are to me. I’m certainly one lucky gal!

After the Bunny

One way I like to decorate is to put something on our front door to go with the seasons.  It’s really easy from October onward because there is always a holiday.  It gets trickier after Easter when I take my bunny down for the season.  The decorations add a little bit of color to our house.  Our front door is white, the trim is black and the house itself is grey (at least to my eyes, Eric will tell you it’s blue!), so it’s pretty monochromatic.  For the past several years, I haven’t put anything up between Easter and mid-October.  Even though we have flowers around the house in the spring and summer, this year I decided I wanted something on the door too.  I decided to make a wreath for our door!

The various steps in my wreath making.

The various steps in my wreath making.

I took a plain twig wreath to begin, and I spray painted it a cream color.  It ended up an ashy color which I really liked.  I then wrapped a teal ribbon around it.  I finished it with a wooden S that I wrapped in yarn.  I gave Eric the choice of 3 different colors, and he picked the maroon color (to be fair the other choices were purple and pink!).  I had some problems wrapping the S.  There is a good chance at some point it will be taken off the wreath for a painted S, but for now it looks pretty good.  It’s definitely better than no color at all since our flowers are later this year!

The finished wreath

The finished wreath!

Birthday Fun!

Time for the birthday post!  It was a good party.  After all the cleaning and cooking, it was all worth it even when it did result in a few arguments the night before!  We gave Tyler his presents from us before the party started to help keep him awake so that he’d take a nap right before the noon party.  We got him some Mega Blocks, big Crayons (to work on those drawing skills!), and a Radio Flyer wagon with seat backs and cup holders (which if it ever warms up we might get to use)!

Tyler opening presents

Tyler playing with his new crayons

Tyler playing with his new birthday presents

Tyler ready to go for a ride in the wagon

He was in his brand new 1 shirt for the morning “partying”, but during his 2 hour nap before the real party, he got it a little damp, so we had to change him.  This had to be my most disappointing part of the whole thing because I LOVED this shirt.  I got it on Etsy from the PatchesandPuppies store.

Once the party got started, it was a lot of fun.  We started with lunch, which I forgot to have Eric get a picture of, but I went pretty simple with just sandwiches, chips, veggie pizza, fruit and a salad that my mom made.  This made it possible for me to focus on making Tyler’s smash cake and putting those decorating skills I learned 4(wow it doesn’t seem that long!) years ago to good use.  I made funfetti cupcakes for everyone else and a 6″ funfetti smash cake for Tyler with a puppy on top and his name on the side.  I think it turned out pretty well.  Definitely not professional looking but good enough for our little party.  I got cute puppy cupcake toppers on Etsy as well from the iheartcupcakestoo store.  Honestly, while I try to be crafty myself, I love Etsy and what I can find there.

The cupcakes for all the big kids at the party

The cupcakes for all the big kids at the party

What the cake looked like before Tyler got to it.

What the cake looked like before Tyler got to it.

I was really hoping for a good old cake smashing with icing everywhere from Tyler.  Evidently he doesn’t like to get messy though.  He touched a little and then started crying and wanted out of his high chair.  Eric held him and gave him some cake though and for some reason that was ok!  Hopefully he doesn’t become addicted to sugar like his momma!

Tyler barely touched the cake, but at least got a little bit of icing on himself.

Tyler barely touched the cake, but at least got a little bit of icing on himself.

Eric giving Tyler his first real taste of cake

Eric giving Tyler his first real taste of cake

In the end, Tyler had a great day surrounded by his family.  He got A LOT of presents (so expect a how to organize a lot of toys post at some point!).  Eric and I couldn’t be happier how his big day turned out, and it will stay with us for a long time.  Now on to Tyler and Eric’s joint party this weekend!

Relaxing and playing with new toys at the end of the day

Relaxing and playing with new toys at the end of the day

A Hobby Update

Other than hobbies related to Tyler’s birthday, I realized I hadn’t written about any other hobbies I’d been involved with lately.  I have had a little bit of time, specifically last weekend to do some baking and some sewing.  Unheard of to have that much time right?

Actually the baking came about because I made a cake to take into work last week, and accidentally bought the ingredients for the wrong cake.  Luckily I had all the ingredients for the one for work, but that meant I had all the ingredients for the other sitting around.  When Eric found out that it was hot chocolate bundt cake, he decided I needed to make it right away and even gave me extra time away from Tyler to make it.  It was pretty good.  I thought it was a little dry unlike the chocolate sour cream bundt cake for work.  Eric has eaten the majority of this cake (definitely unheard of!) although I have eaten my fair share.  The interesting thing about this cake is that it uses hot chocolate mix in the cake and the glaze.  I think you can definitely taste the mix in there.  It is an interesting cake.

Eric's Hot Chocolate Cake

Eric’s Hot Chocolate Cake

Also last weekend I started working on my next sewing project, our chair cushions.  I realized I need to do a zipper.  This was definitely not a beginner’s project, and I probably should have sat down and really thought it out a little more before I started cutting.  I “think” it will turn out ok though.  I’m itching to get started on it again, but haven’t really had time this week to go somewhere to buy a couple zippers.  Hopefully I’ll get one done this weekend, but that’s a pretty lofty goal at this point. I think I’ll just be happy if I get the zippers bought.

In other news, it’s only a week until Tyler’s birthday, and he’s walking a lot more.  I still haven’t caught it on video though.  Hopefully we’ll catch it this weekend since he’s been coming home pretty grumpy from daycare this week.  In their reports they tell me he’s doing a lot of walking though.  Sometimes even pants-less!  I’m definitely looking forward to the end of the work day tomorrow!  Yay Friday and Happy Weekend!

Sew-Sew Weekend

The last January weekend is in the books and with it our last free weekend for awhile.  My parents were supposed to come up on Sunday, but since there was a freezing rain advisory, we all decided it was best that they stay home.  Unfortunately, all the weather forecasters were wrong (well all the ones that I looked at anyway), so we cancelled their visit for no reason.  While I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to see them, we were pretty productive to make up for it.  Tyler was recovering from his busy busy week at daycare being a big kid, so he took two really good naps, and even slept in until 8am Sunday morning (completely unheard of…especially for a weekend!).  That meant Eric and I got to actually work on some of our hobbies as well as clean and cook for the week.

My brand new Brother sewing machine.

My brand new Brother sewing machine.

The best part was I finally got to try out my new sewing machine!  Eric worked on his beer brewing (it was bottling weekend at our house!) for an hour and a half, so I got the same amount of time to work with my sewing machine.  My first project is a simple project for Tyler’s birthday and later on decor for his room.

The blue puppy dog fabrics for my first project for Tyler.

The blue puppy dog fabrics for my first project for Tyler.

I figured out how to put thread on the bobbin and even thread the needle.  That was my Friday night once Tyler went to bed.  (I’m a party animal!) I was pretty proud of myself though!  It was a lot easier than I remember with my little toy sewing machine from when I was a kid.  Cutting the fabric was a lot of math and lining it up precisely to cut, which was my geometry for the day (or basic adding and subtracting, but geometry sounds fancier).  It was pretty easy with my awesome rotary fabric cutter and the self-healing mat to cut on with a ruler on it.

I’m certainly not the best sewer at this point.  I’m not even very good at straight lines, but I’m hoping that gets better with practice.  I really enjoyed it though, especially when I found the best speed for me to sew at to actually keep a fairly straight line.  Even though I’m not done with this project and I already have my fabric for my second project, I’m already trying to figure out what else I can do.

Hopefully I’ll have more time to work on my project, and I can share it soon.  I have to get it done in less than a month and a half for Tyler’s birthday, so I’ll have to find some time sometime soon!

A Reverse Family Tree

This little craft project one isn’t mine, and two is kinda old even though it was just mostly finished on January 1.  When we were getting Tyler’s nursery ready early last year, we knew we wanted to put a lot of ourselves in it.  I made two little framed elephants out of cardstock and a framed T made from buttons.  Eric wanted a handmade project as well but wanted to add our families and our history into the mix.  He decided to make a rather large reverse family tree (Tyler being the trunk of the tree) to hang in Tyler’s room.  Honestly at first I was a little put off by his idea (judgmental even…go figure!) .  I thought it was a little creepy to hang pictures of dead people in our baby’s room.  I did manage to talk him out to going back past our great-grandparents though.  In all honesty though, it turned out really well and looks great!

The full picture of Tyler's family tree with the gap where my family is missing a few pictures

The full picture of Tyler’s family tree with the gap where my family is missing a few pictures

Eric first collected pictures of all our families.  There were easy ones like those of Tyler, Eric and I, and our parents.  Then it started getting a little tougher.  Collecting pictures of our grandparents (mostly my grandparents) with no one else in them became a bit of a challenge.  We had to turn to our parents.  Eric’s family has done a lot of family history “stuff”, and he had photos of all of the Stoecker side of his family.  His Grandma Faris was a great source for photos for mom’s side of the family.  So all his photos came together pretty easily.    Mine on the other hand didn’t.  My parents did a great job of collecting photos for us, but there just wasn’t the single go to person like there was for his sides.  Because of this Eric was able to complete his side during the 2 weeks he took off after Tyler was born.  It’s been hanging in Tyler’s room like that since then.  We’d had my families’ photos for quite awhile now, and I was finally able to convince Eric that he needed to get back to it.  The tree was looking a little lopsided, and I didn’t want my parents to feel like they’d collected all those photos for nothing.

The trunk with Tyler and our wedding photo

The trunk with Tyler and our wedding photo

The supplies were fairly minimal.  We bought a poster frame and some large drawing paper.  That was it.  We also needed the photos (which Eric sized and printed out on our printer), brown paint, green paint, paint brushes, a photo glue stick and some coffee all of which we already owned. Since this mostly all took place the first few weeks of Tyler’s life, I don’t have any step by step photos but here’s a run down of the process.

  1. Cut your drawing paper to size to fit in your frame.
  2. To make the paper look older, Eric used watered down coffee to stain the paper.  It looks great and it hasn’t molded or smelled yet!
  3. Once the paper was dried, Eric traced out tree branches that would work with the pictures we had, so there is only one branch if the couple had a picture together or multiple if we couldn’t find a picture of them together.
  4. Once those were drawn in to his satisfaction with pencil he painted in the brown for the limbs.
  5. Eric made a template for the leaves at the top and drew those in and painted them green.
  6. When all the paint was dried, Eric glued on the pictures and put it into the frame.
Eric gluing on a picture.

Eric gluing on a picture.

That was it.  A fairly simple project but pretty time consuming…for Eric anyway!  It’s actually not completely done.  We’re missing photos of my Grandpa Ensor’s parents.  We’re not sure if we can find any of those so it may be done but there is room to add them if the photos ever turn up.

It’s a really nice addition to the nursery and hopefully something Tyler will enjoy a lot as he gets older (I’m guessing he’ll have to be at least 20 to really appreciate it!)