Friday, March 30, 2012

Maybe You Never Knew...Debut!

Do you like the new look? I thought I'd do a little Spring-cleaning on the blog and spruce things up a bit!

Maybe you never knew...

I'm kicking off a new reoccuring feature on the blog called just this, "Maybe you never knew" and I'll dig deep within my personal day-to-day life and reveal tidbits about me that perhaps you never knew. Fascinating, I'm sure! *wink*

Today, maybe you never knew...

I'm a seamstress.

Well, most of you probably do know that because it's been a part of me for so long and many of you have been the recipient of my handiwork. Here is the evolution:

An appliqued Minnie outfit from 2009

I started sewing in my sophomore year of high school. Our first project was a ruffled pillow with a zipper. I chose sweet little calico prints in peach and light blue (gag! But it was the late 80s!).

And you know what? I HATED SEWING.

I had been so excited to take the class and was so miserably bad at it, that I started to hate the whole process. I couldn't get the squares to line up on the front of the pillow. I sewed my ruffle into the seam so many times that the poor ruffle had puncture holes in it. The zipper was a nightmare. My seamripper was practically glued to my hand the entire time, I was using it so much. When I finally finished that stupid pillow, I couldn't stand to look at it, it just made me so frustrated!

Looking back I can see that my problem was that I was going way too fast. I wasn't basting properly or pressing seams often enough, I wasn't keeping accurate seam allowances and I was simply trying to get the whole thing done so quickly that I just wasn't being very careful.

Photobucket Mermaid print halter sundress, 2009

I got better. When we started learning about patterns, I stuck to the pattern carefully and was able to get quicker. I made many outfits for myself & my younger cousins. My aunt took me to the fabric store and bought fabric for me to make her daughter's school wardrobe (lots of bright patterns & neon, as I recall!).
A Nutcracker Ballet inspired nightgown, 2008

When a girl I babysat for needed a competative rollerskating costume, her mom asked if I could make one. There was a pattern, it required me to use stretch fabrics (which I'd never used before) and I'd need to be more creative with design. I drew up hundreds of ideas. Her mom pretty much gave me free reign and I went for it full-force. There were beautiful shimmering sheer fabrics that I would use at the bodice or down the arms, handsewing on tons of beads and sequins. I made a mermaid costume. I made one that was all fringe with a matching jacket. I wish I could go back and make those costumes again with all that I know now about serged hems, rolled edges and stretch fabrics.

The Boy in a Donald Duck tee I appliqued, 2009

Coming out of high school I was accepted into the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) but with the astronimical cost there was no affording it. I did some sewing and costume design at Grossmont College in the theatre department. I made complete costumes for the students I taught at the rec center. Their dance & gymnastic recitals featured my craftwork (Shirley Temple dresses are still my favorite!).

I sold lots of these a-line dresses, love the polka dots and penguins!

A great many Halloween costumes were sewn, including this Spiderman outfit which was made over 10 years ago.

It was designed while looking at a Spiderman action figure and has happily served the dress-up desires of three little boys.

And then my workhorse sewing machine, the Mongomery Ward Computer 2000 (circa 1970-something) that had been my mom's stopped working. And thus I hung up my scissors for a while and took a sewing sabbatical.

I started back crafting when The Boy was about 2. I belong to a small private online parenting group of woman that I've known since I was pregnant. A few of them commissioned me to paint overalls for their kids.

The Boy, modeling one of the first Ebay items I listed.

I loved painting all the flowers and butterflies, which inspired my shop name

The moms encouraged me to sell on Ebay, which I did. And I got the old sewing machine fixed and started making simple dresses and pants to sell.

The simplicity of these, I cringe! I had so much to learn!

Decoupage jeans were very popular!

The Boy was always a willing model for me, 2007. So little and cute!

I started tweaking patterns, blending two or more together, adding ruffles here or there, mixing in handpainted details, pretty much "making it my own". I've always had a more simplistic view, letting the fabrics make a statement with clean lines and unique details.

I loved this fabric! I took a peasant blouse and added criss-crossing ribbons across the bodice for a "princess" look

Autumn themed patchwork dress with handpainted pumpkins. Look, I finally got my patchwork squares lined up straight!

One of my most favorite items and one of the best selling. This is about the time when I got my logo created, based on the color scheme of this particular outfit!

I learned how to applique, which would eventually become my bread and butter. At the request of my parenting board "mamas", I started making personalized tees.

It started with these birthday cupcake tees, which I still make

Seasonal tees are very popular

I was selling regularly on Ebay and added Etsy to my sales platform. I learned how to sew with knits and bought myself a BabyLock serger, which I absolutely adore. Eventually the Computer 2000 died completely and I added my Viking Sapphire, which is a dream to work on.

My most popular Ebay outfit ever sold, I made many of these (with yards and yards of ruffles!)

Eventually sales on Ebay for boutique customs cooled. Ebay's selling costs really put a kink in that and many sellers moved over to Etsy exclusively, as have I. For the most part, I sell appliqued tees only with the occassional knit dress, dolly or resell added to my shop.

Before Baby D was born, I committed myself to sewing things for him. I made my first quilt, a pennant for over his changing table, changing table pads and a Boppy pillow cover. I have a stacking ring toy partly finished and soft blocks cut but not yet sewn.


I have tons of fabric (and I mean that quite literally). I have a very small amount at home, in paper sacks under my sewing desk. I have the bulk of it stored in bins in my parent's garage, stacked up on the floor and on metal shelving. Given time, I plan on getting through it all without buying more by making simple things like pillowcases and sundresses and listing them on Etsy.

Quilt I made for Baby D

Unfortunately at this time (living in our tiny apartment) my sewing space is shared with Baby D. Since I work fulltime and he's in bed early, I don't really have the chance to do any sewing except for on the weekends.

Baby D in the Boppy Pillow, with the cover I made

I've been hooked on making these upcycled tee dresses for the girl and plan on starting to list these soon. They are quick for me to make and as I'm sure you know, with a newborn baby and a full-time job outside the home, I don't have a lot of time to spend behind the sewing machine like I used to.

Knit dress sewn onto a tee

I miss having the time to make more elaborately ruffled confections. I do miss the creativity I was able to put into my outfits and the wonderful feedback I'd receive from mom's across the country about the outfits I'd custom made for their children. I'll get back into those ruffles again...eventually!

My most popular item on Etsy, the Jack Skellington personalized tee

But I still make the appliqued tees (I get about one or two sales a week) with all the letters and pieces individually traced, ironed onto fabric, cut, pieced and free-hand-sewn on my Viking.


And now you know a little bit more about me! Till next time, maybe you'll find out more that you never knew (or ever wanted to know?) about me! Well, each life is a journey and this one is mine. Thanks for letting me share!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Vacation Dreaming

I've been daydreaming about going on a family vacation.

Specifically a Disney cruise. I've been entering daily on every online contest I've been able to find to win one, because frankly that's about the only way I'll ever get on one! With 3 kids and a limited income, it's terribly unlikely we'd ever be able to afford an $8K cruise vacation.

Wish me luck on winning because we'd have an amazing time, I just know it!

Please tell me I'm not the only one who plans faux-vacations? Just the thought of planning a vacation is half the fun to me. I could spend all day planning it out from doing the routes on Rand McNally, where we'd stop for lunch, which hotel we'd stay at, etc...I should have been a travel agent!

The Boy and I went on a cruise with my parents and a bunch of people from my co-worker's family. He was only three years old at the time, still taking daily naps and quite the little stinker so it probably wasn't as exciting as it could have been.

Playing with the giant chess pieces

My parents spent a majority of their time walking the decks & trolling the casino but we always got together in the evenings for dinner and sometimes, the theatre show. A few times, my parents put The Boy to bed and I went out dancing in the club with my friend and her family. During the day, I would take The Boy to the pool, we'd eat lunch on the Lido, he'd go to the kid's daycare area and I'd wander the halls looking for my friend, looking in the gift shop or lay in the sun.

It would have been more fun for me if I'd had a partner to join up with because playing bingo, eating soft serve, sunbathing, going to the gym and drinking a margarita aren't so much fun to do when you're by yourself!

I'm definitely open to doing the cruise thing again, this time with my husband. And hopefully Mickey Mouse!

Formal night, look at my little boy in his dressy clothes!

The kid's Spring Breaks are coming up in the next few weeks and as of yet, I have no idea what they will be doing or where they will be spending the time off!

Originally we had planned on taking a road trip to San Francisco during the time off however with budgeting and trying to build up a savings account (and also Danny starting at a new job with a new company), we decided to stick closer to home.

Usually we sign them up for camp during their time off but the time came and went and now it's too late (besides it would have cost us $150 for the two of them for the week).

So now the plan will be to split their time with a variety of people including my parents, my mother-in-law, Danny's grandmother and me (I'll take off a day or two). My mom & dad will still watch the baby when I'm at work. Now we just have to actually schedule who will watch the kids on what day and I need to request my time off.

Cannery Row in Monterey Bay, CA

Two years ago during Spring Break we took a road trip up Hwy 1. We stopped in Pismo Beach for an Easter egg hunt, took a hike through Big Sur, visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, drove through a snow storm and spent time with Danny's family in Reno.

At the Dennis the Menace playground in Monterey Bay

It was quite the adventure and the kids were more content than I expected them to be during the long drive. The Girl (who is Autistic) had some difficulty during the transitions from place to place and would often have a meltdown when it was time to leave somewhere. However, she doesn't do that at all anymore, so I'm sure a long trip would be fine with her; she goes with the flow so much better now.

Outside the Sun Maid raisin factory in Fresno, CA

Ugh, I wish we actually were going on vacation during their vacation time! We are going to do something fun (Disneyland!) after the holiday break when it's not so terribly busy. I'm already planning, of course!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Birthdays, Keys, & Bowls of cereal



It was The Girl's birthday the day before St Patrick's Day. Danny & I planned a small get-together with family to celebrate both her and The Boy's birthday. We had intended to have it at the lake, where we could enjoy the sun and the kids could run around. Of course, The Boy's birthday got rained out twice when we tried planning a party for him at the same location back in November.

You can see where this is going right?

It poured buckets this weekend, of course. Fortunately my mother-in-law agreed to hosting at her house and we piled everyone inside. It worked out quite nicely actually. We organized some simple games (pin the tail on the donkey, hot potato, blindfolded-cotton-ball-scoop), ate lunch and cupcakes and opened presents. There were lots of little ones (11 kids!) and plenty of adults to chase them around the house.



Baby D is eating from a spoon. It started off shakily.

Well, actually he screamed and arched his back after a few bites and meal time was over quite quickly! I tried again the next day and got the same result.

So Daddy tried on the third day and voila! Success!

You can tell that Daddy fed him because he's covered in food. I can't stand having his face messy so I always wipe between bites!

And the following day again, he finished off the entire bowl. After a week of eating rice cereal we tried freshly pureed sweet potato. He loved it and polished off the entire amount...then proudly held on to the bowl and spoon.



I've had bad luck with keys this week. We keep our sets of keys on a triple hook next to the front door so there is never any scrambling to find them in the morning. If they aren't on the hook, then I know they are in the front pocket of my purse.

Tuesday morning my husband had errands to run in preparation for starting a new job the following day so he took my economical little car and left me with the gas-guzzling truck. I grabbed the truck keys & headed to my first destination of the day: Dropping off Baby D at my parent's house. Generally my folks are still sleeping at 6:30am when I get there, so Baby D just sleeps in his car seat until they all get up. I just set him in the bedroom and tip-toe out. Unfortunately I realized when I got to their front door that I didn't have the house key on the keyring with the truck keys. I keep their key on my car keyring, oops!

I knocked. I knocked again. I rang the door bell. Nothing. I finally had to go out to the truck, get my phone out of my purse and call my dad, who opened the front door. Thank goodness for cell phones!

Wednesday morning Danny headed off to the new job, which is an hour drive North. He was so excited and nervous and had prepped everything the night before. Except apparently he forgot about his new tape measure. He'd left it in the truck. So at 4am, he got the tape measure out of the truck and drove my car to work. It wasn't until he got to the job site that he realized he had both sets of keys in his pocket. He'd unlocked the truck to get the tape measure and didn't remember to put the keys back on the hook.

So I was home, stranded with a truck but no way to drive it. Fortunately I was able to work remotely from home. The Boy was sick and had planned on staying home from school at my parent's house anyway so I just kept him with me. He just bundled up in a blanket on the sofa all day watching Animal Planet.


Helping Baby D with tummy time

Tummy time is getting better. He's actually improved a lot in just a few weeks, pushing up on his little fists now like a baby seal. But give him about 5 minutes and he's tired and drooping and fussing to be picked up or rolled over!



Laying in the Boppy pillow like this is a good compromise but I have to watch him closely because he will wiggle his way off this thing, either forward or backwards!


He is absolutely the chattiest little baby I've ever met. He loves the sound of his own voice and will talk to himself in his crib every morning when he wakes up. And he'll hold "conversations" with anyone who'll talk back to him.

You can be sure, if he's not liking something he'll let you know with some loud complaining!

Not at this moment however, silly boy!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

The End

This is The Boy's last year at his school.

My son goes to a private Catholic school. Since before he was born, I knew that he'd attend this school and he has done so for kindergarten, first grade and is currently finishing out second grade.

First day of Kindergarten, 2009

I love his school. The teachers are all so sweet and personable. Hugs and expressive "I love you"'s are frequent. Everyone knows each other. Even junior high teachers know my second grader by name. The big kids "buddy up" with the little kids so I've noticed that there isn't attitude with the big kids and the little kids aren't scared of the junior highers. There is religious study during school time, including Mass, and the kids can openly discuss God, which is incredibly important to me. I love to see The Boy's school work with spelling word sentences referring to Jesus and the Bible.

Artwork made at school last year

Class work is high-quality and presented at a fast-pace but there is time to assist each child who needs help. Tutoring was offered to The Boy after school last year at no cost to help him catch up on reading skills (and he's now been awarded Advanced Reading certificates). The classes are small, especially The Boy's class which only has 12 students.

And therein lies the problem...

Only 12 students in the second grade class. Most of the classes have more, a few have less and that's just not enough. His school needs 200+ students to stay viable and they only have 134.

First day of Second Grade

So, this is The Boy's last year at his school because, well, this is the final year of the school. After 50 years (this year is the anniversary), the school will be closing for good.

We received the news last week, which came as a shock not only to us parents, but to the teachers as well. My heart breaks for these teachers who have put so much love and effort in this little school and into each student.

First day of Kindergarten, 2009

The news was bittersweet for me because I was already at a crossroads. For many months, I have faced having to take The Boy out of this school and move him to public because of financial constraints.

To be honest, sending him to private school has been a bone of contention between my husband and me. I started The Boy at the school before we were even dating with every intention that he would go there until he went off to high school. My husband, concerned with the yearly cost, wanted to switch over to public school. At least for a year, he said, to try it and see how it goes. I didn't want to pull The Boy from his friends, from all that he's ever known and start him somewhere new. I like the individual attention, I like the close community our school has, I don't want to make any changes.

First day of First grade

But with a recent cut to his monthly child support, I was smacked with the facts: After this school year, I could no longer afford to send him to the school and change was inevitable. However, I would have preferred for the decision to be on my own terms and not pulled completely out of my hands and made for me.

The parents of the other children in the class are doing their research and visiting other Catholic schools in the area in preparation for making changes. I'm hoping that many of them will be able to stick together and go to the new school as a group, but it does crush me that my boy won't be joining them. I went to the same school from kindergarten through 8th grade and enjoyed the familiarity of the school and of knowing the same people as we grew up. I was expecting the same experience for him, I'd been counting on it for as long as he's been born.

Christmas Program, 2010

I am praying that his new school (which is down the street from my parents' house and is where my first grade nephew attends) will be a friendly and positive atmosphere. I know that a lot will change for him (no more coloring pages of Jesus, I would guess!). There will be about seven times as many kids in the third grade at the new school. I don't know about the curicculum yet, either. There will be a playground, The Boy is looking forward to that. And my nephew will be there to play with at recess. My mom will walk to pick up the boys together now instead of having my dad drive across town to pick up The Boy. I hope that we can make the transition a good thing for him.

And I pray for me to look at this as a positive as well. It has been really hard for me. I can't help but mad-dog my husband because he's been wanting this for a while (to try sending The Boy to public school) and it's almost like he willed it to happen, grrr! And with the cut to child support we weren't going to be able to afford it next year anyway so I've been upset for months, thinking about how it was all going to work out for us. I didn't want him to have to leave his school and his friends. But now it's worse, because it's not just The Boy that is leaving but now all of the kids are scattered to the wind.

End of year party, 2011

Having the decision laid out for me doesn't make the change any easier to accept. I just pray that my heart will see that God has an ultimate plan and that I need to open up and see what that will be. I have tried to control this situation for so long and have been very stubborn-headed about the whole thing from penny-pinching to send him there to fighting with my husband about it...and it just comes to an abrupt halt right now. There is nothing to fight about anymore, no rebuttal from me. I have nothing left and can only succumb to the inevitable, whether I want to or not.

As they say, I'm letting go and letting God. Reluctantly...


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tiny Guy


According to the pediatrician, I have a "tiny little guy". He's 16 weeks old and weighs 12lbs 13 oz, which is in the 25th percentile.

The pediatrician is not concerned, he's following the curves and is a healthy & happy guy (despite spitting up in large quantities after every meal!).


He was not fond of my red-eye double-flash on the camera.


He showed us what we fondly refer to as "crazy eye". It's the same look his dad gives me when he's excited and talking animatedly.


Note the big wet circle on his shirt. He's drooling like crazy and I usually have a bib around his neck.

Big Brother has been so helpful with Baby D, including entertaining during tummy time and he even asked if he could change a diaper today. I let him...thank goodness he didn't get squirted or that might have been the last diaper he requested to change!