Monday’s Appreciate 5

1. Letting my inner child out and getting more excited than the girls to build the most awesomest tree house ever!

2. Windows open, frogs singing and 60+ degree temps today.

3. Oh yeah and no school today so we can get out and enjoy it.

4. Homemade laundry soap and how amazing my clothes smell after the wash.

5. Having the resources and outlets to express my creativity.

“Every child is an artist. The problem
is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

-Pablo Picasso


Tutorial Tuesday: Shirring

Tutorial Tuesday

Ignoring the fact that it snowed 8 inches over the weekend (it’s almost all melted anyway) Spring is here in Northern Minnesota. On my mind lately have been a lot of summer outfits that I want to make up for the girls. I had just started sewing clothes about a year ago so I didn’t really make anything for the girls last summer. My skills were limited to baby pants and 90 minute shirts. So it’s exciting this summer being able to make the girls some seasonal outfits.

Shirring is something that seems so much more intimidating than it really is, and it’s a handy technique to know that can give new life to an otherwise boring top or dress.

I try to keep things simple and this dress was really quick and easy to make up once you get the basics of shirring down.

I have to admit I sort of chickened out on this tutorial, it’s not exactly a tutorial but more of a guideline.  I am not good with patterns or following directions, I do a lot of winging it so I am a little hard to follow. I am lucky I have 3 girls because even if I mess up it will most likely end up fitting someone. But I will tell you what I did and what did and did not work for me.

I looked at a few other shirring tutorials that are posted online and they are all pretty similar.

Tips I found helpful:

Make sure you back-stitch at the beginning of your row

I did not adjust any tension or stitch length on my machine

Both hand winding and using my automatic bobbin winder worked for me. I have a top loading drop in bobbin

Make sure you will have enough bobbin elastic thread to get all the way around your top. You don’t want to run out half way around. When in doubt re-fill your bobbin.

You are most likely going to sew a lot more rows that you initially think you will need

The first couple rows may not look like it’s getting as shirred as you’d like but it will get more gathered with every row.

Practice on a scrap of fabric to get things perfected before you begin sewing on your final piece

Get Creative! Do some shirring on a peasant top sleeves instead of casing elastic, or shirr around pant legs for a fun effect or the waist of a dress that needs to be taken in.

Links to Shirring Tutorials;

Pritty Ditty

Ruffles and Stuff

What I did-

I started with an 18 x 21 inch rectangle of fabric. This gives me a good size to use as a dress for Cameron (3 yrs old) or a top for Brooklyn (6 yrs old). You’ll also need ribbing or ribbon or coordinating/contrasting fabric for the straps. I had some ribbing that just happened to match perfectly that I used for the straps. And most importantly you’ll need elastic thread, along with your desired color sewing thread and a sewing machine. It all depends where you’re looking for elastic thread on how easy it is for you to find. When we lived in Arkansas I went to a few different sewing/craft stores like JoAnns, Micheals, and Hobby Lobby and they all thought I was crazy when I asked them where I could find the elastic thread. At JoAnns the lady tried to convince me that it didn’t exist and that I had no idea what I was talking about. But now in Minnesota I found it at our small town local drug store that has a very limited crafting section. So I hope you won’t have too much trouble finding any, it all depends where you live I guess.

-For my straps I happened to have some ribbing on hand that matched perfectly. I cut 1/2 inch strips the width of the entire fabric and braided them together. Braids are another thing that remind me of summer and I love the look braiding gives a top. I measured on Cameron to know how long to make the straps since every child is different. Or you can use a top that fits them well as a guide. The ribbing is stretchy so I had a lot of flexibility with my strap length and error a little on the short side.

– Using regular thread I sewed my rectangle of fabric, short ends together, front sides facing. You can serge your seam or go over it with a zig-zag stitch to keep it from fraying. Press and hem around the top of your tube of fabric and attach your straps to the top. I left the bottom hem for last so that I could adjust the length if I needed to. Find the center of your garment with the seam on the side so that it will be under the armpit and I placed my straps 5 1/2 inches apart on the front and back. I also crossed mine. (You could wait until after you’re done shirring to put your straps on also. If your straps are made from a little thicker fabric they might be difficult to shirr over and you should probably wait until after to attach them.)

– I hand wound my elastic thread on my bobbin without pulling too much o

n it. I also used my automatic bobbin winder on my machine and it worked great. With the automatic winder it only takes about 2 seconds to fill and it winds so much more thread on compared to hand winding. I will note I have a drop in bobbin on my machine, and I know others that have the side loading bobbin will probably have to stick with hand winding. But try it out and see what works for you.

– Now comes the shirring. I decided to shirr the top 3 1/2 inches of my dress. And to give myself a guideline I used a fabric marker to draw a reference line. You could also mark and sew a line around as a guide. Some people will mark out every row but I am better at eyeballing it with my sewing foot as a guide. Remember to back-stitch at the beginning, and sew on the right side of your fabric with the elastic thread on the backside of your fabric. I made my rows 1/4 of an inch apart but you can make them wider to your liking. I feel it hides the mistakes if they are closer together. Also, some tutorials have you put a small 1/2 in. band of elastic around the top of your garment and then begin your shirring. I didn’t use it this time because I like the little ruffle that forms at the top but with the elastic it will help keep things in place especially if you were making a shirred tube top.

-Lastly, hem the bottom if you haven’t already and you should be finished!

I hope this was helpful and be sure to send me a comment if you have any questions. I know I’ve said it before, but I really am a scatterbrain. I find myself assuming things in my mind and not describing them when I should be, so be sure to let me know if things don’t make sense.

Monday’s Appreciate 5

Better late than never.

5 things that I appreciate today;

1. Being able to spend more time with my husband this past weekend than I have in about 5 months

2. Spring temperatures which means being able to finally send the girls outside to play for the afternoon. And they have been so worn out the past few days that they have gone right to bed without a lot of fuss which was refreshing.

3. Nora took 2 long naps today and I accomplished more today than I have in the past week , except writing an intended blog post

4. Also Nora has gotten to the point to where she’d rather walk than crawl, an exciting but also sad milestone

5. Reading a wonderful book, the creative family.

Share your 5 Things or at least give it some thought and make a mental note of things.

Simplify Saturday

I really enjoyed waking up this morning and finding this wonderful blog, Momentum Gathering. Courtney is so relatable and I love her suggestions. Especially the one about just walking with no particular destination, and to walk and really take in all that is around you. And if you have kids they will really enjoy this and learn a lot. Let them wander and ask questions. It seems like so many times I find myself saying ‘no’ to my kids so this is a great activity for them to exercise their independence and explore their curiosity. And it’s Saturday so hopefully the weather is cooperating where you are and you’re able to get outdoors, enjoy life and this beautiful earth we live on.

She also talks about lightening up our habits and letting go of the ones we don’t enjoy and embracing the ones we truly do enjoy. I love the saying ‘do what you love and love what you do’. It’s so true. It is so nice to hear people that talk about never working a day in their life because they did what they loved. I plan on saying the same thing when I am old. It’s something that just baffles me though when I see people working a job that they hate and then hearing how they are stuck. I understand that families need money to live but by eliminating meaningless things in your life, downsizing, reducing your spending on pointless ‘stuff’, you’ll get the financial freedom that you need to find your calling and do something you enjoy or go back to school. I know I couldn’t work a job for long that I dreaded getting out of bed in the morning for. It’s just not healthy for yourself or the people around you. When I see people working big jobs (granted it’s a job they love) and receiving big paychecks I think they are so lucky to have that opportunity not to buy lots of stuff. But to have the means to be able to slow down and have time. Time is priceless. But it’s sad that so often that isn’t the case. People with big paychecks have big houses full of stuff and big bills. Can you imagine if they would just keep it simple. Pay off a smaller house or apartment and not have to worry about another bill. Live within their means not the extra lines of credit that are extended to people with more money. If you make more money doesn’t that mean you can get by with working fewer hours and having more time to spend with your family. It makes sense to me.  It’s sad that most people don’t think that way, especially in the country we live in and people get so greedy and filling their lives with meaningless stuff.  If everyone lived within their means and help others out, what a wonderful world this would be.

Earth Day 2011

Earth day is just around the corner, one week from today, actually (april 22). I know we don’t need a day to remind us to treat the earth and ourselves better but I’m not going to complain, it all helps. I feel like becoming more minimalistic is better for everyone, including the earth. Living in Germany was an amazing experience and such an eye-opening opportunity. It made me realize how wasteful our country is. There is so much about European culture that I wish our country would embrace. For example recycling in Germany is the law. Everyone does it and they have a great system that works. Also walking/biking and public transportation are the norm. I know not everyone in rural areas or bigger cities can walk or take public transportation where they need to go but almost everyone can carpool. How many people go by a co-workers house on their way to work or has a co-worker pass by their house? Why is it such an inconvenience to ride together? Even stay at home moms can do their grocery shopping with a friend instead of just driving themselves or sending kids to school together? It just takes a little planning ahead. (And even there are more extreme measures a person can take like moving closer to a job or kids school)  I know if more people adopted more of these practices they could possibly eliminate a second or third vehicle. I mean, who loves paying a big vehicle payment every month, or car insurance, or high gas prices and vehicle repairs? It saves everyone money and in turn is also good for the earth. And it’s all part of minimizing the stresses in your lives, which makes you a happier, healthier person.

Back to the topic of recycling, It was something that I never did before we moved to Germany and now it’s just part of our lives. I know a lot of people don’t know how to recycle or where to go or what they can recycle and what they can’t. And honestly once you get the hang of things it’s so easy. When we first started recycling I printed out a list of what goes where and hung it about the 3 bins we used for sorting. There were no excuses because you could easily check the list and put it in the appropriate bin. This cut down drastically on our waste that went in the general garbage. On a typical week we’d have one bag of garbage. I was so disgusted by our neighbors when we lived in Arkansas because everyone on our street used at least 2 large garbage cans and they would be overflowing with trash every week. ( I could go off on a tangent about buying less stuff but that will have to wait for another post)  It was frustrating because that is so ‘typical America’ to me. So many people don’t think twice about where their trash goes once it leaves their house. It’s ‘out of sight out of mind’ at it’s best. We also use a compost pile and have dogs that get left over food scraps, and that helps so much with not having smelly garbage sitting in the kitchen too. We also use cloth diapers, which can be an entirely separate post also. There are so many small things you can do. I’m not suggesting everyone make lots of drastic changes because I know it’s not ideal for most. But I am asking you to get out of your comfort zone and be conscious of your everyday routines.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Use Cloth Napkins.

Carry a reuseable water bottle.

Know where your trash goes after it leaves your house.

Start or seek out a carpool at work or school.

Walk or ride your bike when you can.

I know there are a lot of links out there for every region but I thought I’d at least post the link to the What, Why, Where, How of recycling in Minnesota. If you don’t know about recycling in your area get online and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of resources to answer all your question.

Glorious Spring

I  have a weekly plan on how I want this blog to be organized. Every Tuesday I’m Planning to either post a Tutorial that I, myself have made up or link up with one that I like. I have a tute ready for next week but couldn’t get things ready in time for it this week. I’m pretty excited about it, since I’ve never done  my own tutorial before.

These last couple days the weather has been exceptional, and we’ve been making the most of it by being outdoors as much as we can. Starting today the temps are going to be back in the 40’s so knowing it’s not going to last was a big push to enjoy things while we still could.

On Monday, day three of our long weekends (results of 4 day school weeks), we split the kids up and I think they all had a great day. My oldest is my Mom’s little buddy and she spent the day with grandma while my husband and I split up the younger two and did our own sets of errands.  I think our kids benefit a lot when they have 1-on-1 time, and I think it’s so important for them to get it. 3 kids doesn’t seem like a lot but I really feel like if one is acting out the others pushed to the wayside while I’m righting someone elses wrong. I want to reward good behavior but it’s difficult when I know I need to address and put a stop to the bad behavior. It’s tough too with the older one and dealing with the needs of a baby. Nursing seems to always happen when they need something and I’m constantly saying, ‘one minute’ or ‘just wait’.  I know that I say it a lot because it is Cami’s favorite phrase when we tell her to do something. Her response for everything is ‘in a minute’. It’s cute but also a direct reflection of myself and is frustrating that she is hearing it so often.  So I always feel good when they get the individual attention they deserve.  I loaded up little nora in the bike trailer and we rode into town to take care of an appointment, the mail, and some groceries. There are not a lot of people who bike in our little town but it’s very bike friendly and I just love the smiles we get from everyone when they pass us. Nora did so much better than our ride on Saturday too. She slept half the time even, which was a huge relief after our terrible day on Saturday.

We all got home about the same time in the afternoon and I sat outside and just watched them being adventurous. It’s odd to think that at 9 months Nora is really just experiencing nature for the first time. She was so little last summer and with our insane 100+ degree summer in Arkansas we didn’t get her out very much. And then there was this long and cold Minnesota winter. She really enjoys being outside just like her older sisters. The girls did some tree climbing,  and rolled down the hill. Then they dug in the dirt and road their bikes. It was a great day. Yesterday was a lot of the same again, with more bike riding, the park and playing outside, except Brooklyn was off at school. That is one reason I am wanting to home school. It was beautiful out yesterday and she was at school missing out while we were having fun. I want her school to include nature and for her to enjoy beautiful days like yesterday. I am looking into curriculums and it’s a little overwhelming and expensive.  I would love to be organized enough to start her at home by next year or be part of a co-op by then. Hopefully things will start falling in place and we’ll even know where we’ll be living at that point sometime soon, hopefully. I don’t mind us moving like gypsies but sometimes I do like to have things figured out. I’m not going to worry about it though because things will happen and everything will work itself out.

Reason #422

^^When these little cherubs give me a hard time,

like they did this weekend, I try to look at a picture

like this and it always makes me feel grateful.

I am writing this feeling refreshed. Just an hour ago I was at the end of my rope with the kids and so tired my eyes were closing. But now I am wide awake and in a much better mood. It hasn’t been the best weekend but I feel like I am starting out the new week on the right note.

I’m still thinking about deleting my Facebook account but again my ever so amazing friend, Sara, suggested maybe a purge of the friends list first.  I’d really hate to lose some important connections. I’m really not one for talking on the phone, and I usually look a mess so I don’t use Skype often. But I do email (via Facebook) a lot back and forth between some good friends. So, I downsized my friends list from 750 to 488 edit 339 (I did another purge)! I didn’t expect to feel anything from something so simple but it feels so good, and refreshing! I have this ‘Benefits of Minimalism’ list bookmarked to keep me on track and I feel like I could check off 11+ reasons on that list just by doing this one thing. And I know I can check all those reasons again by completely deleting my account but we’ll get there next week, maybe hopefully.

I guess while I am on the Facebook topic I was also sad that close friends who we don’t see anymore as a result of so many moves won’t be able to see how the girls have grown from pictures on Facebook. But my solution to that issue is Flickr. I’ve had a Flickr account for number of years now and have just used it mainly for Etsy and don’t upload the kids pictures too often. But it’s so easy to use and quick compared to Facebook. I think that solves my other Facebook problem.

As I said earlier, my weekend was far from stellar. For the past month or so, my amazing american hero of a husband has been working 60+ hours a week and it’s been tough. I think of myself as an independent, strong person but staying home with kids is not easy, especially with a husband gone so much.  And to add a little more stress we only have 4 day school weeks, so my oldest is home for 3 days every weekend. It just adds a little more chaos to the mix.  Saturday I was thankful that my mom took my oldest along with her for the day, to spend at my parent’s farm, doing farm stuff. They have some new baby cows just born so they were up there checking on them. We’ve had some warm (40-50 degree) spring days here lately in Northern Minnesota. I’ve been getting the kids out of the house by putting the little ones in the bike trailer and going for a ride. Its a great way to get out in the fresh air and get a good workout too. Little Nora just doesn’t seem to like it though. She doesn’t always cry, but does this whiney thing that drives me crazy. On Saturday I decided to bike into town and back. We’re only a few miles out of town so it makes for a nice quick ride, but it was far from relaxing. Nora cried half way there. While we were in town we stopped at the grocery store for some snacks. I bought her a ridiculously over priced sippy cup and a $2 bottle of juice to try and make her happy, but she wasn’t having it. She cried the entire way home. I felt bad for Cami because she was trying the entire ride to make her happy and give her toys to play with. It was frustrating. I don’t remember much of the rest of the day but I think it was a little better because I did get some sewing in. Today went a lot like yesterday though, with a whiney baby who won’t nap (and is still up at 10pm), working husband, constantly fighting older two who can’t seem to get along lately, and no sewing. But tomorrow is another day. There isn’t school tomorrow so I don’t usually schedule a lot for Mondays, But I have to do some errands and we have a WIC appointment. I have a friend who keeps a Facebook page and asks everyone every monday to list 5 things they appreciate. Its a good way to sit back and think about how blessed our lives truly are. It puts things in prospective and a nice way to start the week. So I am going to list my 5 things for you. Post your 5 things in the comments or head over to her Facebook page and start appreciating what you have.

My 5 Things:

1. the awesome feeling you get from purging and simplifying your life

2. warmer temps and spring rainstorms, even if warm means 45 degrees farenheit

3. delicious oatmeal cookies my girls made with my mom the other day. i honestly didn’t think I’d like them and today i think i ate 6!

4. coffee with a ridiculous amount of creamer

5. sweet little sleeping baby faces that make my heart melt

2 AM Blog Post? Why Not!?

The story of my life. I am such a scatter-brain and so unorganized. It’s an awful combination. I get my mind stuck on one thing and that is all I think about for weeks. Then I get an idea or read or hear about something else and that consumes me again and I’m heading a completely different direction than I was last month.
Right now all I’ve thinking about is a minimalist lifestyle. I have been trying to downsize with the two moves we’ve gone through in the last couple of years. But then I stumbled upon this blog, The Minimalist Mom . It was so inspiring and she had links to other minimalist blogs and I got lost in blogland for a few hours. I know our living situation is not the same and certain things are more or less difficult with living ‘up north’. But I feel like everyone is always capable of doing more. I feel like living simplier makes life so much richer. I keep a facebook profile so I can keep up with ‘friends’ but really the most important relationships I need to maintain are right here in this house. And facebook is taking away quality time, that I feel like I can better spend doing other things. But on the other hand my amazing friend Sara (who is a facebook friend and not a face to face friend as a result of one of our moves) had a comment about facebook reaching the masses, and making a difference even if it has to be via facebook. It’s so true because I know a lot of people that won’t come to my blog but would make a comment on a status update. It is something I’m going to think about and not going to go making any rash decisions about. But it’s all something to take into consideration with truely wanting to live a minimalist lifestyle. It’s all about making what is most important, truely the MOST important. Even this blog is something I am questioning. Is it taking away from the kids? How much time a week am I willing to spend on this? Maybe I should just go live my minimalist lifestyle quietly, why do I have to blog about it? So much to think about, and all important things to take into consideration. We only get one life to live on this earth and am I really making the most of it? At church a couple weeks ago the sermon was sort of along this line, and I don’t know why a statement made about us never being any younger than we are at this moment really jumped out at me. We’re only getting older by the second so ‘carpe diem!’. And another statement that really hit hard was to think about all those people that have run out of time. There are so many people who are dying right now only wishing for more time and here I am a healthy young person and what I am doing with myself. How am I living my life and spending time with the people I love most? It’s a big thing to think about.
This is turning into such a serious post and I’m really not a serious person. But it’s something that has been on my mind for the past couple weeks that I’m really trying to work on. And I want everyone else to give it some thought.
Some other things that have been on my mind lately:
moving overseas again (trying not to get too excited about a potential job opportunity for the husband)
NATO job listing searches
Serging (with my ‘new to me’ hand me down serger!)
montessori homeschooling
this wrap/infinity dress
baking these delicious looking cheddar crackers (immitation gold fish crackers, YUM!)
Seems like a distraction like this always occurs when I know I am going to have to be the one to get up with the kiddos in the morning. (hubs is working all night tonight and day tomorrow) Already looking forward to my cup(s) of coffee in the morning.

Curse you blogspot!

Everything South of here has been imported from good old blogspot. So much for starting fresh, But I just couldn’t delete all those old posts, no matter how random and all over the place they were. But number one goal from here on out is going to be organization and consistancy.


(always reminds me of the movie ‘finding nemo’, ‘curse you aqua scum!!!’ lol)
My Blog has a new home over at—–>>>>>
yippee! so excited about it!