24 November 2015

Sesame Streetspiration

This is a sponsored post.

Many of my early motherhood years are a blur. I blame it on the 18 months between child 1 and 2 and child 2 and 3. I know they watched Sesame Street because I bought Pearl an Elmo doll that she loved to pieces, literally. I'm not sure what happened as children 4, 5, and 6 came along. Somehow, the most famous giant bird and his trusty friend with the long trunk and even longer eyelashes were forgotten - until today. I asked Drummer if he had ever seen Sesame Street. His eyes grew big and an excited smile formed on his face as he asked, "Where is this street?! Can we go there?!"  So, of course, we remedied the situation. I pulled it up on the computer and we sat down together, watching Big Bird read books to the neighborhood children and David Beckham explain what the word "persistence" means, and Elmo stacking hats on his head, counting as he went. It was an instant hit with Drummer. And I remembered how much I love the celebrity cameos and guest appearances. 

Then Clover waltzed in the room and plopped herself down next to us. She was very pleased with herself that she could figure out the math problems before those furry little puppets could. I had forgotten how magical Sesame Street is, almost wishing we lived on a street where there is constant happiness and neighbors are more like family. Earlier in the day, Drummer was pestering me to watch a movie or play a game on daddy's ipad. I declined both requests in hopes he would do something with his imagination instead. He was relentless, however, until it was time to get in the car to pick up siblings from school. After we returned home and watched Sesame Street, Drummer wanted to make spaghetti for dinner because it was an example of being persistent in trying to eat it on a fork on Sesame Street.  He was fascinated to learn how bricks are made (anything to do with building, he's on board). After we ate our spaghetti (squash) dinner, I thought it would be fun to make our own Sesame Street-inspired puppets as a family: Sesame Streetspiration Puppets! I put a big stack of felt and cardboard pieces on the table and loved watching everyone get creative. I've heard that people look like their pets. I'm wondering if the same holds true for puppets. ;)  
So, the big news on the (Sesame) Street is that it's coming to HBO in January with all new episodes, fresh and updated! And I've noticed that the same people that were on when I was little haven't aged a bit! I tell ya, it's that Sesame Street magic. I need to get me some. ;)
What's your favorite Sesame Street memory? Tell me in the comments and you will be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card!

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19 November 2015

Orange Peel's Pocket and Swingset Skirt

Once Upon a Thread is definitely in the queue. But, the ideas are always percolating.  Sometimes I check out books at the library for me, a potential Once Upon a Thread post.
This was one of those books, except I knew I needed to have a copy of it.  Any book with "orange" and "pocket" in the title. ;) It's about a little girl who was adopted from China.  She wants to learn more about her native country to share with her schoolmates and visits family friends who can offer her some clues.  As she goes from neighbor to neighbor, they secretly slip something in her pocket to remind her what she learned.
When it's time to go to school to share her information about China, she gets nervous until she puts her hand in her pocket and is reminded how much she is loved and the great country where she was born.
The skirt is Oliver + S Swingset Skirt.  It's super simple, but it remains classy and so very versatile.  It can be altered a million ways.  I just added a pocket, but you could make it reversible, add ruffles to the lining, embellish with all sorts of trim, and the list goes on.  In fact, take a look at the sew-along to see what other versions were sewn up by other bloggers this week, here.
The deets: I used a baby-wale cord for the skirt and shirt, linen for the pocket. I used an Ottobre pattern for the shirt, although I was frustrated that the placket pieces didn't fit the cut out placket, so I made a tuck at the bottom.  I don't know that I'd make that particular one again.  I learned how to write "love" in Chinese for one of the little pocket items and free-motion stitched it.  Clover was impressed, which means I've succeeded, right? ;)

13 November 2015

Dreams Do Come True!

Look how cute and little Olive was at her first Ballet recital in 2011!  Little did I know how many buns-to-come there would be.
Her heart's grandest wish since she started dancing was to get en pointe.  Those hard shoes that make your toes blister and callus and hurt?  Yes.  That's what she wanted.  She'd make every birthday, Christmas and holiday-in-between a request for her beloved pointe shoes, as if I could magically make her ready for them.
She auditioned earlier this year, but wasn't quite ready.  Her ballet instructor thought that she might be ready early next year.  When I picked her up and she told me the news, she was heart-broken and I held her in my lap, just like when she was so little.  We mourned together.
She spent 5 weeks doing ballet summer intensive classes. 10 to 5, Monday through Friday.  Every night I would ask her if she was still enjoying it...and she was.  She was happy.  She was living her passion.
By the end of the summer, she had worked so hard and developed her turn-out (is that what it's called?) that her instructor deemed her ready to be en pointe.  Miss Mindi called me the weekend before she told Olive to make sure we were on board as well.  It was so hard to keep that to myself! She said, "You knew all weekend long?! And you didn't tell me?!"
We are looking forward to seeing her dance her solo in the Nutcracker next month as the doll.  She makes me so proud.
photo credit: Mindi Mende

10 November 2015

Meet My New Baby

I don't know how to say this to my loyal readers, so I'm just going to blurt it out.  I have a new baby.  Actually, I have 3 new babies.  I know!  How could I keep such information from you?  I felt guilty about it for a while, but it feels good to just be straight with you.  I'm introducing just one of them today. Meet Crescendo:
Crescendo is an absolute dream.  She just has this glow about her.  Seriously, though, no more of that yellow, dim light.  This baby lights up...in more than one way.  She also has a red light beam that predicts the future.  Well, at least it shows you where your stitches are going to be if you stay the course of what you're sewing.  It comes in handy for darts.  Am I the only one who hates to draw dart lines?  This does all the work for you, just start at the seam and aim it at the ending point and voila! Perfect darts every time.

But her impressiveness doesn't end there.  No siree.  I'm just beginning.  She.  Has.  An.  Automatic.  Needle.  Threader.  I am so spoiled.  I never want to thread another needle again! That's right.  No more cutting of fuzzy ends, licking and trying 13 times to get that darn thread through the tiny whole. Such a dream.
What else do I love about my new Babylock?  She politely lets me know I'm running out of bobbin thread so I don't get caught in that moment where I've just stitched the most beautiful topstitching of my life for the past 5 minutes...except there's no bobbin thread! Never again.  Crescendo keeps me informed.  She also doesn't mind that I like to push her buttons:  A button for needle up/down.  A button for going (no pedal needed if you prefer!) A button for the presser foot (I know!) And, my all time favorite button....a thread clipping button!!!  Doesn't it just make your heart beat faster?
I know a mother is rather partial to her babies, but I got a good one, guys.  I already have so many adventures planned with her, I can't wait.  I don't even mind staying up through the night with her, she's such good company.
Also, if you were wondering, my "Sewers Gonna Sew" t-shirt is from the lovely Kate of See Kate Sew.  I love it, too. ;)

09 November 2015

Non-stick Bandages & Personal Rainclouds

Over the weekend Drummer was in the garage getting his bike out.  It happened to be next to Ryan's motorcycle which he had just driven, so it was hot.  Drummer's leg touched it and instantly burned a patch of skin off.  He came running inside, unable to tell me what had happened, until I guessed.  I texted my bother-in-law who is an ER physician and he told me to use non-stick bandages (they saved the day!) and liberal amounts of bacitracin. As I was opening the bandage box, this subtly placed message appeared.  It made a little smile appear on my lips, like someone was giving me a pat on my back, letting me know it was going to be okay.

I've been thinking about it ever since.  It isn't hard to care for those you love, though...because you love them.  Sometimes it's caring for those outside your roof that comes with more of a conscientious effort.  I was having an angry day earlier this week, feeling misunderstood and mistreated.  The kind where it feels like steam is pouring from your ears and you just can't shake that pesky dark raincloud that's following you around.  I couldn't concentrate on anything because of it.  I just wanted to fume.  I then decided I needed to think about someone else to get my mind off my anger.  First I texted an older woman in my church who has had a lot of health problems and recently her dog, who is pretty much her only family, has been having seizures.  I checked in with her, just to let her know I was thinking about her.  But that only took a few seconds of my time and squelched a portion of the ear-steam.  So then I called Olga.  Olga is also an older woman who lost her husband, the love of her life, a few months ago and was now facing losing her mother.  Olga just needed someone to talk to.  I listened and listened and listened until she had said everything that was on her heart.  At the end of our conversation, she thanked me and called me her angel.  Little did she know that she was mine.  She was saving me from my own anger and frustration, helping me put a little dab of perspective on my wound of narrow-mindedness and self-pity. Isn't it interesting how we grow to love those we care for and not just the other way around? Have a happy Monday!

23 October 2015

Idle Wild Meets the Cocoon Dress

Friends who design fabric are good friends to have, especially when you love sewing as much as I do.  Fabric is happy mail, but fabric that was cooked up by friends, that's happier mail.
I got to sample some of the Pattern Anthology girl's new line with Riley Blake: Idle Wild. I'm pretty sure that they made several in black and white just for me ;)
It is SO soft.  Even the dog agrees (I haven't introduced you to Scout here, yet, but for those who follow me on instagram, you get a great deal of documentation of our furry friend.)  Scout likes to lay on my fabric whenever I spread it on the ground to prep for cutting pattern pieces.  She thinks I lay a "red carpet" wherever I am for her. 
I spread this on the floor and she immediately circled and laid down.  I laughed and grabbed another piece of fabric.  She got up, circled it and then went back to this.  It was so hilarious.  She wouldn't move until I took another piece of Idle Wild (the ones with the birds) and she thought that was an acceptable substitute.  This is some seriously soft stuff.
I used the Cocoon dress pattern from The Sew What Club made by Groovy Baby and Mama.  It's a very easy piece to sew, with a fun round shaped, although you could always just bring it straight down.  You don't even finish the edges of the sleeve ruffles.
It has a high-low hem that looks great with or without leggings.  I think I'll need to make them for all my girls (the sizes are from 2-12!)  No buttons (read:buttonholes), zippers, or other closures.  Easy for you, easy for her.
I actually have one cut out for Azure, hers has the birds on it.  I'll be sewing it up lickety-split later on today.  You could also shorten this into a shirt.  Now I'm just thinking aloud for all to hear how my brain works. ;)
It's even comfy enough, both fabric and pattern, for Olive to still do her ballet poses, which is of great importance to an 11 year-old ballerina.
Getting ready for her first solos in the Nutcracker this year has us all excited!
Thanks for the awesome Idle Wild fabric, ladies! And check out the latest patterns on Sew What Club.  My design will debut in December!!

19 October 2015

Four Corners (aka the fabric of my dreams)

I am so excited and pretty proud of my girls, Elizabeth and liZ, you know the Simple Simon babes. They're always scheming and working and doing fun things.  I'd like to sit in on one of their planning lunches.  These days they're designing fabric!
This is from their Riley Blake Four Corners line.  And when I saw there was black and white with crosses all over, well, i couldn't resist. Can you stand it?! I washed this fabric and then all the possibilities flowed through my mind, like too many ice cream flavors at the ice cream shop.  How could I just choose ONE
Clover was the happy recipient, lucky girl.  She's the one who sets out her outfit the night before, and gives great thought and attention to her ensembles, so I put my faith in her that this fantastic fabric would get the care and appreciation it deserved.
I paired it with black and gold denim and some just-right glass buttons.  
I was momentarily tempted to do all the topstitching in gold to match the gold crosses, but thought, in the end, that there was already so much fantastic-ness going on with the fabric pattern.  I did squeeze a tiny bit in on the back, though. ;)
I used Burda 9491 for the pattern and only altered the length, bringing down the hemline a few inches and added the cuff with the gathered hem.  I remember having a red, short, sailor-esque jumpsuit when I was about Clover's age.  
It was my absolute favorite because I only had to put on one thing.  Less time dressing, more time playing.  Now, it's less time dressing, more time sewing, ha!
AND, I have a bit leftover.  It will be fun to use it as an accent fabric on things.  Lots of things. ;)
What my photo shoots really look like:
and this.
It is an absolute joy to photograph this girl.

Congratulations and thanks for the amazing fabric, Elizabeth and liZ!!

08 October 2015

Identical Sugar, Unique Children

I used to think I was good at basketball.  Probably because nobody told me I wasn't until high school when I tried out for the freshman team and didn't even make first cut. I think that's when I stopped playing. The other day some of the kids asked if we could go over to the church and play basketball. It was 2 and a half against 2, with huge discrepancy in size and ability, but we had so much fun. We laughed and joked and didn't even keep score. I didn't need to have Varsity Basketball Team on my resumé.

It reminds me of little kids who say they're artists. We all are, in a sense, good at creating something. But, there comes a defining moment when somebody tells us that our creation isn't as good as someone else's. Or we don't even try to make our own, we just look around and do what everyone else is doing. I was so proud of my kids when we did this little project, building Mormon temples out of sugar cubes and frosting. We previously did these with a group of about 40 kids and they all looked pretty similar. But, when my girls (and Drummer) went to town on the sugar, with the occasional one in the mouth, they all had their own view. I don't know that I can necessarily attribute that to parenting, but somehow we've raised very opinionated and unique children. They're all sugar and spice, but different recipes were used with each one. I hope they never get told that they're not artistic, or if they do, they'll look them in the eye, and tell them that's just crazy talk. I can see it going either way. ;)

15 September 2015

Jamberry Scoop

I took Olive to the nail salon (is that what they're called?) to get pedicures for her birthday.  I know I should do it more often, but I have a hard time finding a time without any kids and spending the money.  And they always charge me more than what's listed because my feet are so much work.  Haha!  After we had finished playing with the massage chair and gotten our final topcoats, the sweet Vietnamese woman asked if we were getting our nails done as well.  I thanked her and said not today.  Then I saw her steal a glance at my short, poor, naked, fingernails, uneven, with cuticles crawling up each one, dry skin and stained from life as a maker and creator.  It's true, they needed attention, but I couldn't bring myself to spending the extra time and money.

So, that brings us to Jamberry. Have you resisted? I understand. Just another fad that will fade. But, I hope it doesn't, and I don't think it will. Let me tell you my morning story. 
As Ryan was running out the door, he said that the garage door guy was coming to fix it before 10. Sure thing. I got myself up and ready, then got Azure and Clover up, ready, and off to school. Next was the middle school girls. By now it's 9 o'clock. I'm trying to decide if I have time to get my nails done before garage man comes. Sure, why not. I get my Jamberrys out and begin applying. I always start with my right hand because then the left hand seems so easy ;). After the wraps were on, I thought I'd try out the TrūShine gel enamel kit that you can apply either on top of nail polish, or on top of the wraps. There are two coats that get a 45 second cure under an LED lamp. Done. I cleaned them off, washed my hands, still no garage guy. I go straight into the kitchen and do the dishes. I get interrupted by Scout who wants some attention, so I run around and scratch her behind the ears. I decide to start some laundry, and while I'm at it, I might as well wash my sheets and quilt that someone wiped their dirty face on. Still no garage guy. I take pictures of my nails around the house and then set up my computer to edit photos.  Finally! Garage guy comes at 9:55! 
So, what does this long story have to do with my nails? There is no dry time, and I can get straight to working on what needs to be done and they look amazing. I don't have dog hair indentations or fuzz from carrying laundry. No chipping, like my toenails already are...which, as it turns out, you can use Jamberrys on toes as well! Let me break it down, because I know there are questions:


  • They're easy to apply
  • There is a huge selection (see below)
  • There is no dry time
  • They are less expensive than a manicure
  • There is no chipping
  • The TrūShine gel enamel kit makes them last even longer and look more professional


  • I've found that the only con is my nails need to take a break between wraps, but I also find that with regular nail polish, on both my toenails and my fingernails, too, so it's not just exclusive to the wraps.

Do you like choices? ;) These are just the colored pages.  There are a bunch of neutrals (ie black & white ;) too!  They also have junior sizes for little girls. There are also very subtle wraps, like clear with tiny white dots or lace. If you like the look of a French manicure, they've got those, too! Or if you're wanting just a traditional manicure look, solids are available (or ombré, or sparkle, or flat finish, or bold, or patterned....you get the idea.) If you can't decide, they're buy 3, get one free! 
So, want to try them out? Hop on over to Megan's website and when you check out, use NoBigDillJams for your party name (I get a bit of credit for every purchase.) Megan can answer any other questions you might have. AND if you're not happy with your Jamberry nails, you can return them within 30 days for a FULL refund, so they're pretty confident you'll love them. 

01 September 2015

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (can you find all three?)

I got a text from my sister up in Virginia a few weeks ago asking if I wanted to come visit when my mom was going to be there. Here's the thing about Ryan and me.  We have a hard time committing to things, but when we do, boy howdy, we commit.  

Ryan booked us on the autotrain.  They load up our car and we hop on the train, hoping that the food will be okay and that at least a few of us will get some sleep.  Ryan loved the food and slept well, so I guess we hit our goal? ;)
It was romantic, though.  Watching the scenery move past, while we were comfy-cozy in our generously sized train seats.
The kids thought it was a blast.  
In fact, Divine was considering a train career, until she still felt the swaying and moving long after we had disembarked. Does one disembark a train? 
I told Ryan I would do it again if he got a cabin for me to sleep in and the rest of them could sleep coach.  We'll see ;)
We spent our first day in DC, not realizing what a nightmare parking is.  After a bit of tension, we finally found a spot and got out to go see this District of Construction, er I mean Columbia.
We hit the Spy Museum first.  This one is NOT for little ones.  The older kids enjoyed it, but Drummer couldn't get out of there fast enough.  Next we went to Zaytinyas for lunch.  Not only was the food phenomenal, but we happened to run into my sister and her husband who were taking a romantic getaway while my mom watched their kids.  What?!  There was surprise and delight all around.
We went to the Hirshhorn museum with them and then allowed them to continue their romantic weekend without the 8 of us.  I'm sure they were deeply disappointed. ;)
We also visited the Portrait Gallery and grabbed a bite to eat at The Shake Shack before we made our way to the Wilson Hotel to catch an evening bus tour on a double decker bus.
It rained on and off all evening, which turned out to be great, because the crowds were very sparse.  We got off the bus at each stop to walk around and learn bits of the history of our great nation.  
I was especially impressed with the Martin Luther King, Jr memorial.  We were the only group there.  Our guide told us the story of the "I Have a Dream Speech".  Martin had written a draft of the speech he was planning to give at the Lincoln memorial at the Wilson hotel.  He started into his speech when the African American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouted to King from the crowd, "Tell them about the dream, Martin."
That's when he began the famous "I Have a Dream" portion, and that's why he's depicted with his speech rolled up and in his hand, because he's just talking from his heart.  Along the wall behind his statue are quotes from his other speeches.  Olive memorized three of them on the spot. Being there in the dark was a spiritual experience.  I'm hoping my kids will remember this one.
Then we made our way over to Virginia where my sister lives.  We were immediately smitten.
Virginia really is for lovers.  With the rolling hills and, especially where she lives out in the countryside, it's a slower way of life which is highly underrated.
We went peach picking at a farm that was just 2 minutes from Ann's house.  We brought home 60 pounds of fresh Virginia peaches!
Pearl had my camera for about half this trip and is was fun to see what she thought noteworthy.  Apparently me, making peach face at her. ;)
Little Hyrum (far right) took to Divine like a second mommy.  It was so cute to see him grab her hand and drag her around like a well-loved teddy bear.
We made sure to hit a cute little fabric/yarn shop, Finch's Sewing Studio.  We had some spare moments, waiting for a table to seat all 14 of us, and Ann took us down the street.  I was skeptical they'd be open because all the other shops were closed, but it just so happened to be one of the two nights they stay open late for a chat, snack, and sewing session!  I loved this shot of Divine admiring her grandma admiring a gigantic skein of yarn.  We aren't a touchy-feely family except when it comes to textiles, ha ha!
I appreciated the rainbowtization.
I couldn't resist that cotton, red lace in the lower right corner...
It's built in an old house with treasures to find in every room.
Three generations of makers, plus a ghost-like little dancer.
This is what the boys were doing while the women-folk were...women-folking.
Don't worry, though, because our last day included a whole lot of manly planes.  That was such an amazing experience.  Again, it made my heart turn toward those who have gone before in this great nation, risking lives to make it a better world.  
Rainbowtized flight. ;)
By the end of our visit, little Mary Deane, who has cystic fibrosis, and who is very much an observer rather than participant of social situations, was looking like this.  It made my heart very happy for her, and for my sister.
3 mamas who love their offspring and each other.  It was, as my mom always says, a little slice of heaven.