Saturday, February 28

Nursing Cover and Baby Shower Banner

The baby shower this morning was lots of fun. And I’m so glad I had time yesterday to make a nursing cover for the new mom, with some cute fabric remnants I picked up recently. IMG_1241Never had one of these slick things myself, but there are loads of tutorials online; picked this one to guide me (super-well written, great pictures, etc.).

But then decided I wanted it to be reversible. Which wouldn’t work if I used boning. So figured out another way to stiffen it. I wonder how it will fare long term; sure seems like it’s stiff enough…IMG_1227

Here’s me modeling it with the non-pink side out, the one that won’t look quite so out of place in a diaper bag filled with stuff for a little boy.IMG_1220

Speaking of little boy, my co-host had a cute idea for a banner showcasing the baby’s name. I cut some onesie shapes out of cardstock and glued on letters cut from scrapbook paper. I would’ve loved to clip the onesies to the string with some wee clothes pins, but didn’t have time to shop for them, so just punched little holes instead. We sent it home with the new mom; she thought it would look nice on one of the nursery walls.IMG_1244

Thursday, February 26

Diaper Cake -- it’s not what you think…

Have you ever been to a baby shower where they passed around diapers that had melted candy bars in them? And it was up to you to determine which candy bar was in which diaper? Well, I have. (And it’s pretty entertaining!)

Well, a couple years ago, I was looking for ideas for a baby shower cake. From a search on some Moms Forum, I saw some fun cakes in the shapes of stroller, rattles, and so on. I started reading about a person needing advice for their “diaper cake.” I thought that shape might be cute too but then the person starts asking how many diapers she needs and how to put it together and... I’m thinking, What?!? It’s one thing to melt some candy bars in some diapers. But to actually serve CAKE in them. Gross!!!!

Turns out she was talking about a shower centerpiece. In the shape of a tiered cake. Made of diapers. Ooooh! Here’s the one I made for a baby shower I’m co-hosting Saturday… Not sure what, if anything, I’ll put as the “cake topper.”

diaper cake

Oh, and that cake I needed ideas for? I ended up playing off the napkin design. And it’s still one of my all-time favorites – i hardly ever make up that many colors! (For the tiny clothes pegs, I cut some bamboo skewers into little pieces and stuck them into the frosting.)

BabyShower cake

Wednesday, February 25

Speaking of...

I've been enjoying reading about Kerri's Lovely Little Handmades and seeing her beautiful quilt projects over the past month. Well, she is now hosting a giveaway for some amazingly lovely fabric. Unless I'm super lucky when she randomly selects the winner on Feb 28th, this photo is probably as close as I'll get to all these beautiful reds and aquas and browns... And mushrooms! People, there are mushrooms in the mix! So jump on over and throw your name in the hat. And while you're there, ooh and aah at some of her other stuff.

Speaking of
reds and aquas, this is what my blog wants to look like when it grows up; Shannon's blog design is absolutely fantastic. Which is not surprising since she designs blogs professionally. And her posts ain't too bad either. Was inspired by this one to do this:
I don't like treadmillling when I'm watching TV; would rather be curled up next to Ken. But while surfing, blogging, emailing, finding recipes, etc.? Hey, this just might work!

Was also inspired by Shannon's many fun and lovely cakes, and the last photo of this post in particular, to ask her how she keeps from getting ginormously-huge domes on her cakes, like I do. Her secret: bake at 325 instead of 350. I'll have to try that on my next cake.

Speaking of
cakes, I thought it would be fun to host a little cake decorating class in mid-March for anyone who's interested in trying it (and who lives nearby in SEMinn). With the right tips--I meant metal decorating tips, but "tips" as in "hints" works too--you can do some cool stuff that's really quite easy. Email me directly so we can figure out more details (kmskms at charter dot net). It would probably be a weeknight evening, after the kids are in bed.

(This is a set of "sampler" cakes I made for a friend after she decluttered and gave me ALL her cake decorating stuff four years ago! Jenny, you were talking about being generous? I want to give gifts like this! Want to give the "good stuff" that I don't use -- if I'm honest with myself -- not just the "old stuff" I'm tired of!)

Speaking of
bed, I should go to mine. But hey, I burned over 200 calories tonight!

P.S. Does throwing a few extraneous boards (took 'em off the footboards of the bunk beds) and laying them on the arms of the treadmill warrant adding the "woodworking" category to this post?!? : )

Tuesday, February 24

Boy bag?

So what makes one sewed-up rectangle of fabric a "purse" while another is a "messenger bag" (or other bag appropriate for boys)? That question has been plaguing me for the past week...

See, I had these pants, purchased years ago with my fabulous sis-in-law, Jen, but now way too threadbare to wear anymore. And the 6th birthday of my nephew, Jen's son Peter, was quickly approaching.

Now usually I'm a bad aunt and send nothing, but this time would be different. I started cuttin' up those khaki pants and added in some orange fabric, plus the belt that came with the pants (not shown in top photo). When I showed Ken this front side with a pocketed flap and asked if it could pass for a boy's shoulder bag, he said no and seemed to wonder that I even needed to ask.

And when I flipped it around to the back side, he just laughed and shook his head. Apparently, my big bright orange monogram was not helping with the masculinity.

But see, here's the thing. Before I sewed a single stitch, I did my due diligence. I googled "army bag" and assured myself that girls aren't the only ones who can wear flappy, strappy purses bags.

Granted, mine isn't camouflage but greyish-khaki is close enough, isn't it? And bright orange accents, while ridiculous on a 33-year-old man are fine for a 6-year-old boy, aren't they? Maybe if I surrounded it with "boy" toys? Hmmmmm, still not convinced.
So I sent off some photos to Jen and asked her. She sent back an enthusiastic "I love it! And so will Peter!" Yay - that's all that matters! Decided to add just a few more accents -- the leftover end of the belt, and a few stars that were supposed to be "camoflauge" but I didn't pay attention to what area of the fabric I was cutting them from, so they look mostly just black.

Tucked in a few CDs we burned for Peter's listening enjoyment -- "The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk," downloaded from -- and off it went.
So Peter, hope the big 6 is great. Happy Birthday, little man!

Monday, February 23

Before & After IKEA Hack: Kids' Cubbies and Coat Hooks

Here's what I did Saturday morning while Ken was away and the girls were listening to a story: finally upgraded the girls' coat hook shelf in the entry hall from my "quick fix" last May to a pretty yet simple "IKEA hack" (see more at the ikeahacker blog) using only what I already had. "Shop the house" -- my usual mode of redecorating. 'Cause it's so cheap and instant.

1) Took down a DVD shelf in the Family Room that was too small to hold all the DVDs and put the DVDs into some small zippered cases instead, kids' in the big one, parents' in the small one, and an extra one to "grow into" as needed.

2) Took down my measly little 4"-wide homemade-in-an-afternoon shelf, stripped off the hooks, screwed some holes into the DVD shelf, attached the hooks to it, hung up the shelf, and added in the accessories too.

Here are some "static" Before & After photos of the shelf. I love that it's now essentially a smaller version of the cubbies/shelf/coathook thing that Ken and I use, which is also from IKEA, also in the "Leksvik" family.

By the way, my old way of doing animated photos wasn't working reliably, so I'm using photobucket slideshows. Do you like them? They seem a little slow... Would you rather see plain photos that don't change?

Saturday, February 21 free audiobooks!

On mornings when Daddy is at class, Mommy is wielding power tools, and yet, the girls want to listen to stories, I'm so glad Ken found where we've downloading numerous audio files for free. In addition to all their other recordings, they have 363 (and counting) stories in the "Children" category. Like Little Women and Anne of Green Gables.

In order not to violate copyright laws, they only have books that are in the public domain, which mostly means ones written before 1923. But I'd often rather have my girls hearing some of that stuff than some of the "literature" that's marketed to kids today. Some of our recent favorites are the many stories by Thornton Burgess, which Daddy listened to when he was a little boy! (Great stories if you like ones where animals talk, which I know at least of one of you decidedly doesn't! Nice too in that they include some good morals but aren't real preachy about it.)

I will warn you -- the books are all read and recorded by volunteers; some readers are better than others. (We listened to about two minutes of one download before dragging that one to the Recycle Bin...)

(And Delilah, it looks like they have a bunch of Austens!)

So this is Reason #318 Why I Love The Internet (or WILTI).

Friday, February 20

Happy Birthday, Momma!

It's my mom's birthday today. I've mentioned her here and there throughout these posts, but the truth is, she's essentially in every one of them. So much of what I write about here is all stuff I got from her, learned from her, absorbed from her.

If I had to describe her in two words, I'd pick: supremely capable. Or maybe amazingly adaptable. This woman can do anything! She is a:

Tailor.(Including her wedding dress)
Quilter.(Taught me you didn't need to know any "rules" - just start sewing.)
Crocheter.(Creates baby sweaters. Without a pattern.)
Upholsterer.(Can turn a couch from "Blah" to "Rah!")
Dollhouse maker.(With fabulous furniture of course.)
Cake decorator.(Any shape, she can make.)
Chef.(At her best when there's a dozen or more people to feed.)
Barber.(For half my life, I thought all moms cut their husbands' and sons' hair.)
Up-do beautician.(Did up my hair on my wedding day!)
Make-do technician.(A female MacGuvyer, she can make something out of "nothing.")
Prankster.(Ask her balance a glass of water on a pin... Or a broom handle...)
Public speaker.(In German, no less!)
Poem reciter.(She knows one for every occasion.)
Silly song singer.(She knows one of these for any occasion, too.)
 (And I could keep going, at least one for each of her years...)

She's a midwest farmer's daughter who ended up living overseas for 15 years and just "bloomed where she was planted."

She's the most helpful houseguest ever, especially when visiting someone who's just had a baby. (Seriously! She should rent herself out for that!)

She's faced her share of struggles, including some she's still in the midst of now, but even then, she is wise and strong.

She is a key role model of mine for what a godly person looks like.

Happy Birthday, Momma. I love you so!

Wednesday, February 18

Happy Houseplants, Grumpy Gardener

Pruned the hibiscus and planted the cuttings with a friend yesterday. Maybe in 4-6 weeks, we'll have some newly rooted, healthy, baby hibiscus plants. But then again, maybe not. It's a fun little experiment.

Also gave my houseplants some much needed attention. Seems like they go through a regular cycle of being fine--even flourishing--but then developing a bone-dry, brittle top crust while the bottom part stays soppingly rot-the-roots wet. Which makes them all start to die. So I repot them all and my plants seem happy again.

But the cycle eventually repeats itself. What's my problem? Am I watering them too much? Not enough? Too much salt in the water? Or other minerals? I just don't know. And that makes me grumpy.

Plus all that playing in the dirt inside made me even more eager to play in the dirt outside. But any grass that was visible yesterday is once again covered in snow. Grrr.

Tuesday, February 17

Castle Cake: Happy 4th Birthday, Sophie!

For her party, Sophie requested "Pirates & Princesses" just like her older sister had the year before. But I didn't want to repeat the treasure chest, so figured I'd finally try a castle.

For anyone who doesn't recognize Playmobile, the figurines on top are plastic, not intricately molded marzipan! : ) I'm not sure when the unicorn and two princesses in back showed up; all I had stuck into the roof were the two kids up front. I do have a couple guesses on who was responsible for the additions...

But the battlements on top of each tower, those are pure sugar! I'm still having such fun playing with all the decorating tips a friend graciously gave me a few years back.

I kinda wish I'd used grey instead of white for the "stone" walls. But that would have involved mixing up the colors and estimating how much frosting I'd need and and and. So I decided to keep things simple for a change. OK, yes, truly "simple" would mean buying a pre-frosted cake at Target. But when you grow up watching your momma decorate and sell wedding cakes, Mon Chi Chi cakes, cakes shaped like rockets and soccer balls and Oscar the Grouch, you often lose the ability to go out and buy a cake. At least, that's what happened to me.

By the way, where was the building inspector when those towers were being erected? They look a bit tippy, but stayed upright til they were cut up and consumed! Happy Birthday, Sophie. It's amazing how much you've changed in two years.

Saturday, February 14

In Honor of the Day...

Something I found in my files the other day (because I never throw anything away), dated 2-93...

Updated 2/15/2009!: Hmm, it was ten eleven! years ago today that I started dating the guy who is now my husband. Almost started the day before, but... Too bad, 'cause I'm much more of a "We started dating on Friday the 13th" kinda gal than a "We started dating on Valentine's Day" one. But all's well that ends well...

And four years ago today, I got one of the coolest V-day gifts ever: a Sophie. A girl who only wants to wear dresses, who is a pro at cutting things out and then taping them into crazy sculptures, who brings such joy into my life, and who I hope never gets lost in the shuffle from being neither the oldest girl nor the youngest. Happy birthday, my sweet middle-est!

Sophie - A Year In Review

(Ha ha, caught a typo; I'd written "who brings such job into my life..." Yeah, she does that too, with her dwindling list of what she will eat at dinner and her recent return into answering nearly request with a vehement "No." But despite the hard days, it's a job I wouldn't give up for the world! Besides, just when I was starting to despair at the horribleness of this seemingly endless "No" phase, she introduced a new response. Not all the time, but just enough to keep me sane: a cheery "Yes, ma'am!" that is too too cute!)

Thursday, February 12

Ironing Board Cover... and update on Al's Quilt

I took the opportunity, while my parents were in town, to finally finish my mom's Christmas present. I could easily go on and on about the whys, hows and wherefores (and the why-it-wasn't-dones) but instead I'll just show the before and after...

Her board is shorter than my board, which is why the "after" looks too short. My board is modeling. I really should give it a new cover too -- it's so stained and starch-filled. Yech. But guess it's like the cobbler's kids who are always barefoot...

Speaking of belated Christmas gifts, I know I said I wouldn't post about Al's quilt again til it's done, but Mom and I got so much more done while she was here, I can't help myself.

The squares side (after I ripped out the stitches where I inadvertently caught up part of the edge while I was quilting the middle. aargh!):

And the triangles side (before I ripped out the extra stitches that made it "feel like a potholder" according to my mom; if you look at the orange diamond, you can see them: the top left part has three squares quilted into it, the bottom left has six in the picture, but has only three now in real life):

And we got a good start on the border too, for the triangles side...

I'm thinking it will be done well before his summer birthday! : )

Wednesday, February 11

Pillows for February

Valentine's Day -- it's just 3 days away now; got any fun plans? At our house, it's kind of overshadowed by Sophie's birthday that same day, but I did accomplish something special for the girls this year...Last year some time, I read about a mom who made "special occasion" pillow cases for her kids. I told a friend about it who loved the idea too and soon we found ourselves standing in JoAnn's, ready to start getting fabric for this fabulous new project.

Then we did the math: 1 yard per pillow, $3 (or likely more) per yard of fabric, 3 or 4 kids per family, 1 pillow per kid per month, 12 months per year. That's at least $108-144 total, maybe even more! For pillows! We quickly got in our car and drove home again.

But then last month, I found a discounted 2-yard remnant covered in hearts. And I remembered the pillow idea. And I thought, Forget the other 11 months; I can just start with ONE special occasion, right? And I figured I could get creative and use less than a yard of the print per pillow (since I had only 2 yards, but 3 daughters).

Finally sewed 'em up this morning, with just 3 days to spare. And I still have enough print fabric to make three more. (The back is solid pink.)

The girls are so excited. Well, the older pair are. Not-yet-two Lucy had little to say about her new pillowcase.

Speaking of Valentine's Day and excited girls, a friend is having a giveaway for a cute cute bracelet. My girls would love this. (I would too.) Winner will be picked on Feb 14. So click on over and enter here.

Sunday, February 8

Apron: Tropical, Earthy Edition

My youngest cousin is getting married this month! Yesterday, we were at her wedding shower. To tuck in with all the kitchen-y stuff my mom and I picked up off the registry, I made an apron. Same design as the one for Suz and the one for Mo. But different fabrics...

Used a remnant of olive green duck cloth for the bulk of it because I love nice, "thick" aprons that can withstand hands being rubbed clean on them.

The print because it makes me think of her tropical Central American wedding locale, plus it's a super flowy fabric so it's perfect to use as ties.

And the beige linen (accent and shoulder straps) because... well, I love linen and I think she does too.

All in all, I think it'll mesh well with my cousin's earthy vibe. (Note: not "earthy" as in doesn't shower or shave her legs; "earthy" as in possesses a deep, rich personality; and often wears browns and greens; and always looks stunning... without looking like she spent all morning in front of a mirror!)

I'm so happy for her and her man. And I'm wildly jealous of the two-week honeymoon cruise they're going on...

P.S. My girls were also at the shower, having their own fun-n-games time with all the other kids down in the basement, overseen by their oldest second-cousins. At one point, they all brought up pictures they'd colored of a bride and groom. On the back, they'd each dictated advice for the new couple. SO FUNNY! One of my favorites was "Get dressed every morning." : )

Thursday, February 5

Dress from Shirt

My parents arrived this evening for a visit. Oma (German for grandma; grandpas are Opas) took Lucy away, supposedly to change her diaper, but when Lu came out, she was wearing a brand-new dress!

Well, brand-new to Lu. It's actually made out of one of my Opa's favorite shirts. Thanks, Mama! I love it!

Oooh, I just remembered... A few weeks ago, I couldn't bring myself to throw away one of Ken's shirts. It had a big rip in the sleeve, but it was one of my favorites of his. And now I know why I kept it.

P.S. Dee, did you notice the bits of white in the window in the top photo? Thanks for the lesson on Sunday -- you are the snowflake cutting queen!

Wednesday, February 4

Another Softie: Meet Bob the Beaver

I feel so bad... My middle kid, Sophie, hasn't been feeling too good; had a fever yesterday, chose to skip her activity this evening "because I don't want to make the other kids sick." Around 7:00, I asked her to put her PJs on while I put the littlest one, Lucy, to bed. A couple times, Soph called up to me, asking for this or that, and I told her I'd be right with her. As soon as I'd read one short book to Lucy and put her in bed, I went down to attend to Sophie.

...She'd already tucked herself into bed and was fast asleep. No bedtime story from Mom, no goodnight kiss. Maybe I should've reversed the bedtime order this evening!

But I know what will make me smile: seeing Bob again.

Mo gave me the idea to make a beaver. And I love that he turned out just like I'd imagined him. The background fabric shown is what I used for his underside. When Lier saw him, she said the print of the purple fabric reminded her of the logs and sticks that make a beaver's dam. I hadn't even thought of that when I picked it but it's so true; I just happened to have purple corduroy which I thought would make a good tail, and this print fabric matched that the best.

And when my mom heard the noise he makes (I added some crinkly stuff inside his tail; will add it inside his body next time too), she said it reminded her of what beavers might sound like when they're chewing up their logs. Again, hadn't even thought of that; just figured the flat tail, like the elephant's ears previously, would be a good spot to stash some crinkly stuff.** Anyway, here's a closeup of his buckteeth, ready to chew up some logs...

Bob was included in the set I made for Ebby that I mentioned yesterday. Now in addition to the pink-n-orange reverso purse, I'm also sewing up 2 more penguins, 2 cows (got the idea from LiEr; scroll to end of post for picture), and another chick, all for co-workers of hers. (Original concept for these softies as well as penguin and chick design by the oh-so-talented Wendi.)

**Back when I did the elephants, I tried a few layers of plastic bags first, but they weren't crinkly enough once sewed in place. Sounded fine on their own; I think being in a fabric sandwich muffled them. Then found some "tissue paper" that actually seems to be made of plastic. It's sort of iridescent; I assume I could find more in the gift wrap aisle. 'Cause after a couple elephants and a few beavers, my scrap is almost gone. But just the other day, as I was on my way to the trash to throw away yet another cereal bag, I wondered how that would work. Seemed very crinkly-sounding. I wonder if it would "muffle" like the plastic bags did... (jump back up)

Tuesday, February 3

Same Purse, New Colors...

I was recently "commissioned." Suzanne (the lovely friend who cleans my house) asked me to make two purses for birthday gifts. "M---- likes pink and purple; H----- likes her stuff to match M----'s." (They're twins.) So, no, the image below isn't some fancy editing of two photos merged into one; it's actually two purses, identical expect for the "m" and "h".

I hope they like the colors. I was going to drive over to the fabric store, but it was SO @#%$* COLD and I did already have this fun purple embroidered corduroy. (In a house with three young daughters, it goes without saying that I have pink fabric...) It took me nearly as long to decide what fabrics to use where--and which side of the flap each embellishment should go on--as it did to actually make the things! So, hopefully pink, purple and aqua is OK for these two princesses.

And finally having a pattern certainly speeded? sped? up the cutting process. As soon as I write down directions to go with it, I'll post it somehow. Or maybe a tutorial post would be easier. I didn't take any pictures along the way on these, but sounds like I'll be making another one soon** so I'll document my steps and post my first "tute" shortly.

**Ebby took the softies I made for her into work -- wait, I haven't even shown you Bob the Beaver; ooh, must rectify soon!!! 2/4/09: rectified here -- which her co-workers loved which led to looking at my blog which led to one of them wondering if she could "place an order" for this pink and orange purse, except with a 'e'. How fun. Now I just gotta figure out what to charge...


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