Monday, January 27

DIY Lace Skirt-Extending Slip

Do you have any dresses that you wish were a little bit longer? Or maybe you'd like a way to add a little fun and flair to your skirts? Well, my sister came across a great way to pull off both of those things and I DIYed it up... in exchange for painting a set of around the world ornaments for me. And let me tell you guys, I got the better end of that deal. This skirt extender is so fast and so easy, I knocked it out in about 15 minutes. She may have been on the second ornament by then. Thanks sister!

Not only was is it easy, it was cheap, too! She had an extra slip already so we just had to buy the lace for the bottom. It adds a pretty detail and decent amount of length to a skirt that may be a bit short.

Ok, I don't actually have any skirts this short. I made her hike it up for dramatic effect. Full disclosure. ;)

I especially liked how it looked under the softer, flowy dresses. They looked so pretty with a little lace detail around the bottom. So, want to make your own?

Here's all you need to make one:

Sunday, January 26

At the Aquarium

Happy Saturday, friends! Just wanted to pop in and share some pics from our first outing as a family of four last fall. I give you "Small Boys at the Aquarium!"

Watching the penguins.

Holding Baby Brother's hand and watching the fishies.

Sweet interactive reef.

I found a shell!

Tiny boy taking an otter nap. Was he ever so tiny?!

Lunch overlooking Lake Michigan

Naptime lunch. Aquariums wear the boy out. And oh my goodness that tiny baby hair.

I think he forgot we were at the aquarium during lunch because we walked back out to the tanks and he was all "Look mama! FISH!!!" We wore the boy out, he fell asleep as soon as we walked out of the building and slept all the way home!

Happy Sunday!

Friday, January 24

Newborn Photos {do it yourself!}

*Update: check out our DIY newborn photos for M3 here!
I'm pretty sure everyone who has a new baby wants those adorable, perfect newborn pictures. But you guys, newborn photo shoots can be EXPENSIVE. I looked into getting pictures before Baby B was born and between the fees for shooting, fees for the number of shots, and fees for the cd, it just wasn't something we felt comfortable sending that much money on. So I winged it DIY style. While they may not be up to professional par, I'm so happy with how they turned out! And did I mention they were basically free??

Update: check out our DIY newborn photos of m3, too!

I'm definitely not an expert. Definitely. But I want to share the tips I have in case any of you want newborn pictures and can't afford a photographer. So here we go!

Use Good Lighting. Lighting is probably the single most make it/break it part of getting a good picture. I would hands down go with natural lighting and it's well worth waiting for a nice, sunny day. But once you have that good light you must wield it carefully. You don't want it to be too harsh or make hard shadows so avoid direct sunlight. I took my pictures at a time of day when the room was still bright but the sun wasn't hitting our picture zone (a.k.a. the bed). To cut the shadows down even more it helps to diffuse the light a bit with something like sheer curtains (the ones we had up are made from an old bed sheet and worked perfectly). I liked my results best when I shot with the light directly behind me, but you can try different angles and spots around the room to find what works. And you can always practice with an older child or a toy to find what lighting will work well before you hop into baby photography!

Wednesday, January 22

Those Frames in the Office {and a real-life timeline}

I like to keep things realistic around here as much as possible. I get so frustrated when I see things on pinterest that are supposed to be so fast and easy and I can't even get halfway through it because my baby is feeling crabby. So from time to time I like to show what my real-life time scale looks like. Like in my kitchen that still isn't done... and we started in 2010. Half the cabinets have had knobs for months and, although we have all the knobs, the other half still don't. Yup.

So today we're going to flash back to 2012 When I found these cheap frames and hung them in the office. This is where I left you:

Well last summer I finally got around to painting all the frames white. And didn't even take pictures. Then in a pre-Christmas sale at I finally ordered some pictures!

A big part of the reason we waited so long was that I wanted to do something more artsy in the frames. But I realized that something in them was better than nothing. And, hey, my kids are adorbs so why not?!

Monday, January 20

Baby Doll Ring Sling {tutorial}

Good news, guys! I found this post I wrote last fall and never published! That was a freebie. Now you can finally make a baby doll ring sling for your little fellas. And also enjoy these pictures of Big Brother looking so cute and tiny, and be amazed at how he has changed in just 6 months. *cry* Okay, on to the tutorial....

After I made my rings sling in preparation for Baby Brother, I knew I wanted to make a doll sized version for Big Brother as well. It's a great way to help your bigger kids feel involved when there is a new baby. It's actually been great - he loves to wear his baby doll when I'm wearing the baby! Today I'm sharing a tutorial so you can make a sling for your little copycat, too.

Here's what you need to make one:
  • 17 x 45 " piece of fabric (you should be able to get it out of 1/2 yard but it depends on how straight the cuts are and how much your fabric shrinks, so I would get a bit more to be safe on the width and your tail my end up just a little shorter. It doesn't really matter what kind of fabric since it won't actually have to hold much weight. Make sure you wash & dry it before you start sewing.)
  • thread
  • rings (you can buy small rings from, but I just used these cheapy binder rings)

My finished sling is about 15 x 41" and fits my 2.5 year old. You can get more fabric and adjust the sizing a bit to fit an older child (for a longer tail I'd suggest 1.5 yards of fabric so you can cut it out lengthwise, for more width you would just need to get 3/4-1 yard instead).

Just like with my ring sling I started by hemming both long edges with a basic rolled hem. Fold the raw edge under 1/2", then 1/2" again and stitch right along the folded edge. You can iron it if you want, but I just folded it as I went.

Once both edges are hemmed you can make the pleats on one end (you can see more how details on how I did it in the original tutorial). I just eyeballed it this time to make it look pretty, each pleat is about 3/4" wide and the whole thing ended up about 3" wide. Watch out for tiny helpful hands!

Saturday, January 18

Christmas Traditions {and all the pictures}

I think this is my last January Christmas post. I think. I have a small ocean of draft posts to wade through, though, so I can't make any promises. But I think I can finish off by mixing all these Christmas pictures in with my thoughts about Christmas traditions. So here we go!  I love starting all these fun little things with the boys, so here are few things we've started doing so far. And I'd love to hear about what you guys do, too!

Stockings - we opened the stockings first, and put in toothbrushes. Toothbrushes always go in stockings! We did a couple other small things too like sunglasses, a small toy, and crayons. Baby Brother got a robot onesies and these sweet teething rings in his stocking. I always got an orange when I was little, so I may add that next year.

M&M car in his stocking.

Christmas Eve Box - we filled a box with jammies, a new movie, and snack for them to open Christmas Eve. You can check it out here.

Helping brother open his presents.

Friday, January 17

Goals in 2014

I interrupt the belated Chrsitmassy stuffs to bring you this "HOW IS IT 2014 ALREADY?!" post. Just keeping it current up in here. I've always said I'm not really into the whole resolutions thing... but year after year I make lists of things I want to do. So I guess I'm in to it more than I thought. My list usually isn't super specific and doesn't have any kind of real commitments because I know going in that I probably won't get them all done. But it's still a good, fun way to focus in on a new year! So here are some of my goals for 2014...

Bake Bread. The main goal being to bake bread instead of buying to save $$ and know what we're eating. I'm not going to cry about it if we end up buying bread to fill in since this seems like a pretty lofty goal, so at this point if I just learn to make a good loaf of bread a couple times a month I'll be happy!

Eat Whole Foods. And less processed foods. We've been working on this a lot already, but I'd like to still do better. More produce and more homemade goodness. And lots of flops along the way. But this is how we learn.

Teach Big Brother Letters. And numbers. Also teach him to read and speak Spanish and do Geometry. Okay, not that last part. ;) But I am hoping for number & letter recognition!

Play Outside. And then play outside some more. This is more of a summer goal, but I'll try to get them out on some of the nicer winter days too. Little boys need to move and it would be great to do that moving out in the sunshine. And a bonus is that outside time = gardening for me and if they're tearing the yard apart the house stays in one piece!

Time with My Boys. Quality & quantity. I am home with them all the time, but I want to be more intentional about spending time WITH them and not just around them. It's hard for me to find a balance between spending good quality time with the boys (reading, playing, working together) and spending time on the other things that need to get done (dishes, laundry, blogging...). I'm hoping to find that balance this year.

Read. I don't have a specific number of books or anything, but I love to read and have barely done it since Baby Brother arrived. A few I'd like to read are Allegiant, The Hunger Games (again. because I saw the second movie and can't remember what happens next. It's a gift.), Nourishing Traditions, Cure Tooth Decay, Backyard Homestead, Four Season Harvest, Bringing Up Boys, This Present Darkness & Piercing the Darkness and something sci-fi-tastic. I actually already own all of these books except for Nourishing Traditions (and a couple I've read or at least started before) so it would be great to actually get them read!

Garden. And grow more than just tomatoes like last year. But it will take some kind of garden cage because everything I've ever planted has been eaten by the neighborhood vermin. Also known as squirrels and bunny rabbits.

Take Walks. Or bike rides. Lots of summer family fun & exercise for us please! Last summer I was basically a whale so we didn't do too much of anything. Hoping to make up for that this year!

Save $$$.  Specifically for a van. It would be great to have something set aside for when our car inevitable bites the dust.

Organize the Basement. That's on my goal list every year. Maybe this is the year? :)

Family Devotions. Husband has jumped right in with family devotions before bed and it's going great so far! We really like listening to parts of GT and the Halo Express and then talking about what we heard. 

And that's it! What kind of goals do you guys have this year?

Wednesday, January 15

Christmas Eve Box

This is something I've heard about for a while and we were so excited to give it a try this year! It's a special present for the boys to open Christmas Eve.

We wanted to include matching jammies for the boys to wear Christmas Eve & Christmas day, and when I got a $10 Kohl's coupon in the mail I knew it was time! We thought about doing Christmassy jammies but when we stumbled across these fire trucks we knew Big Brother would love them. And we were able to find some that at least kind of matched in both of their sizes. The jammies were originally $10 each so with my coupon it ended up being just $10 total for both pairs! I washed them as soon as we got home so they would be ready to go for the boys. The only other thing we purchased for the box was Planes on black Friday for $10, which put us at just $20 for the full box.

Here's what all we included:

And just like that we had an evening full of fun with a movie, snacks, and new jammies!

Big Brother had so much fun opening this first gift. He was so excited about the jammies ("we be matchers!")  and airplane movie... but he was crazy excited about the marshmallows. He LOVES marshmallows and doesn't get them very often. The recipe made a lot more but I just filled a small jar because I knew he would eat whatever I gave him. They lasted maybe 15 minutes. :)

Has anyone else done this? It was so much fun and we definitely want to do it again next year!

Monday, January 13

Truth in the Tinsel Advent Ornaments

After I made our muslin Advent calendar I still needed to fill it up! I wanted something that would be easy to use and ready to go year after year. And bonus points for things that won't break when they are inevitably dropped by little boys. :) So... felt ornaments for the win!

We used the Truth in the Tinsel advent materials this year (and really enjoyed it!) so I made ornaments that would go along with the readings. The materials have a scripture for each day in December and a short discussion to go along with it. We liked that most of the scriptures were repeated a few days in a row (with a different focus) since repetition = memorization! The other thing we liked about this was that the whole 24 days focused on the Christmas story which seemed good for the little guys. There are other Advent ideas like the Jesse tree that start in Genesis and go through the whole Bible, and while something like that would be a great refresher for bigger kids, we loved that this really broke down the greatest story for a little boy who is just starting to understand Christmas. The Truth in the Tinsel book also included an ornament craft project to match each day's topic. That will be fun when the boys are a little older, but I wasn't up for it this year. So mama-made ornaments it was! Here are the ornaments I made with felt and hot glue (but more power to you if you have the patience to sew them).

the light, the kingdom, and Zechariah (we put the "x" on his mouth to show he couldn't talk)

the angel, Mary, and Mary with Elizabeth (both pregnant or holding beach balls)

music, sun, Joseph

The dream, Jesus' name, the census (Big Brother pulled this one out and said "it's the babies!" My bad.)

Bethlehem, the stable, the manger

swaddling clothes, sheep, host of angels

shepherds, the temple, the star

wisemen, the gifts, the cross

I made the main parts with at least two layers of felt and then added on the accents. I wanted to make sure they were thick enough that they wouldn't tear or get stretched out too easily. I also wanted to put faces on the people. Something cute like this. (These babies could definitely benefit from some hair, too.)

But for some reason my puffy fabric paint kept soaking in a spreading out and I ended up with a horror show like poor old Joseph here. So I ended up leaving most of the faceless. Which may or may not be less scary.

That's all I had in it this year, but I might add some more things next year. Maybe verse cards for the kids or an activity idea for the day. I also really like the idea to include an idea of something nice to do for someone else - write a letter to grandma, take cookies to the neighbors, take a hot drink to a bell ringer, make dinner for a friend, etc.

But for now I'll just leave you with these boys and their trains:

Good news guys, I don't have many more Christmassy things left to post. So we can catch up with the rest of the world soon! Thanks for hanging around, I'm really glad you're here! :)

Saturday, January 11

DIY Advent Calendar Muslin Bags

We're having so much fun coming up with new traditions for our little family and Christmas is one of the best times to do it! We especially want traditions that will remind our kids why we celebrate Christmas in the first place, and of all the hope and joy that goes with it. I think one of the best ways to do that is with a scripture based advent calendar, but we had never actually done it before. I think I was waiting for the perfect fit and everything was either to complicated or too much work or too advanced for little guys. But this year we finally took the plunge. And guys, it was so. much. fun. We found a great advent series called Truth in the Tinsel (there are free ideas out there too, like the Jesse Tree, but this was specifically geared for younger kids). I wanted a calendar that would be ready-to-go year after year, so I put in some extra time this year to make these drawstring muslin bags. 

And even found a cute way to display them!

Each bag hold an ornament that goes along with a scripture reading for that day. And when we pack up the Christmas stuff this year I'll bag them all back up so next year we just have to pull it out and go!

Here's all you need to make your own advent bags (I made 24 bags):
  • 6 yards muslin
  • 14 yards red cotton cording (use a coupon! this was the most expensive part!)
  • red thread
  • red paint (I used cheap acrylic)

Start by washing and drying the muslin to preshrink it before you start sewing (mine shrunk quite a bit). Next cut the whole thing in half down the length of the fabric and stack the two pieces. Watch out for tiny feet.

Wednesday, January 1

Handpainted Ornaments {around the world}

I'm probably supposed to start off with some big post about the new year and what-not. With my resolutions to clean the bathroom twice a week (not likely), run 1000 miles (ha), and learn to speak Galifreyan (Doctor Who say what?!). But hey, look guys! Christmassy stuffs!

My artsy sister handpainted these for my tree this year. In exchange for hemming her curtains. We both agree I won that trade. I love these SOOO much and still can't believe she made them! I saw them in a Crate and Barrel Catalog (at Crate and Barrel prices) and she knocked these off for just $1 each. And she totally nailed it.

These are the CB version (they're actually on sale now if you'd rather buy a set). I have some spray sealer to give mine a glossy finish like this, but it hasn't been warm enough to do it yet.
Image by Crate & Barrel. Available here.

I bought these ornaments at Hobby Lobby for $1 each (they might be some kind of paper mache? I just know they aren't breakable. That's my main criteria right now.) and set her to work with some paints. I asked her what colors she needed and she said primaries, black & white. She's a paint mixing fiend.

She started by painting each ornament a solid color.

And let them dry.