31 December 2014

Christmas Squared: A Modern Christmas Log Cabin Quilt

A month or two ago, I decided that I wanted to make a Christmas quilt to kick off my goal of making one seasonal quilt per year. I thought it would be fun to have a special throw to get out just for the month of December each year, a comfy place for us to curl up and establish some great memories. 

I settled on a pretty simple design that would allow me to use strip piecing. I tried to choose fabric that would be timeless and grow with us as a family. Every quilt that I make teaches me a lesson, and this one taught me to follow my fabric instincts. I'm so glad that I did! 

The size of the quilt is a fair bit larger than intended. I wanted a generous throw size and ended up with one that is longer and just slightly narrower than a standard twin bed quilt. (It's pictured resting on a queen bed.) This is about twice as big as any other quilt I've made to date. About a week before I started, I got a new sewing machine (merry Christmas to me!), and there is no way that I could have done it without my new machine's 11-inch neck! 

Enough quilting mumbo-jumbo - here are some photos: 

The quilting on this beast is rather simple and quite imperfect. As I was quilting, I debated whether I should go back and fix the mistakes to make it a little closer to perfect, but I decided against it. Here's the thing: like a piece of writing, a quilt should be tailored to its audience and purpose. This is meant to be a background for family memories, not a show piece. I'm currently in the season of my life where perfection is a thing of the past and good enough is the motto of the year decade. Hopefully I'll one day treasure those untouched mistakes as I curl up in the quilt while I wait for our teenagers to come home or wait for the grandkids to arrive.

For now, I'll treasure being able to lay down our first year of memories with this quilt.

And with that, goodbye 2014

25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from us and ours to you and yours!

Today I'm stopping by to share a few of the many special things we've done to celebrate the Christmas season (besides keeping the radio tuned to the 24-hour Christmas music station...much to George's dismay).

Visited Santa:

Took our annual family photo at the poinsettia tree (2012, 2013):

Posed for professional family photos:

Picked out Elliott's first Christmas tree:

Decorated the tree:

Redirected Madeleine to decorate her tree (much more successful this year):

Celebrated with our PEPS Group (2.5 years and counting):

Dressed the kiddos in matching Christmas jammies:

Visited a Christmas light display with some of our friends:

Enjoyed our out-of-town friends:

Hope your holiday season has been as fulfilling!

In lieu of tomorrow's Friday I'm in Love, picture me loving on the precious faces featured above. 

24 December 2014

Few Festive Decorations

I enjoy decorating our home for Christmas and - at the risk of sounding like my mother - it seems a shame that not many people get to see it in person. To counter that, I'm sharing a bit of my decorations here.

Last year, I went a bit overboard. Our 2014 decorations are a mix of old and new with nothing too complicated. I tried to keep it simple and limit the stress associated with creating, displaying, and tearing down decorations while still bringing a bit of holiday cheer to our home. 

Our tree is up in the formal livingroom again. It's smaller than last year (and definitely not as nice of a noble fir as we've had in the past), but we managed to fill the entire tree with just lights, an extended felt ball garland, and sentimental ornaments. No filler bulbs this year! 

Christmas trees are often a topic of discussion amongst parents of toddlers. Our rule is that anything that can be reached can be touched...with one finger. Madeleine has responded well to this (this year) because it doesn't feel so off-limits and, therefore, attractive, and she is still able to indulge her curiosity (mostly) without damaging things. I also strategically decorated the tree so that ornaments on the lower half of the tree are unbreakable, fixable, or replaceable. 

Even this guy loves to look at the lights and grab at ornaments. He doesn't seem to mind that the crazy thing is drying out at record speed. 

Our formal livingroom mantel is bright and cheerful without a lot of effort. I wanted to highlight the new piece of art (depicting the location of our wedding) but still make it feel like Christmas. I think that the new felt ball tree, our stockings, and those gorgeous Glassybabies (in new fern, happiness, dolphin, and crayola) do just that! 

I added letters to our stockings this year (inspired by this). I don't love the scale, but they'll be fine placeholders until I find the perfect font and size. And, yes, our initials spell out a word. It wasn't intentional, but we're embracing it! 

In the livingroom where we spend a lot of our time, I've dialed things back quite a bit. This year, I'm displaying a few ornaments on this awesome driftwood tree my mom and stepdad made for me, and I've reused an older bunting (tutorial here).

I stole the Santa photo idea from a friend. Each year, we'll get to look back at the previous years' visits to Santa while adding a new one to the mix. It's a little hard for me to believe that this is already our third Christmas with kiddos!

For the shelves, I pulled out some old favorites, including my Joy to the World. This will always be special to me because I made it shortly after I found out I was pregnant with Madeleine, while George was out snowboarding and I had an afternoon alone with my thoughts. 

Even though Christmas is just one day, I enjoy our special decorations all month long. Hopefully you've enjoyed seeing them, too! 

22 December 2014

Elliott - Four Months Old

As with most babies, four months is a time of big change. This is when the four month sleep regression, a growth spurt, and a developmental leap collide for a plenty of challenges and monumental changes in the little one's life. We seem to be getting off pretty easy...so far.

I know that I always say this, but Elliott is a really chill baby. He is happy and smiley, patient and content. He loves his big sister and all the doting she does on him. He hasn't loved being worn in the Beco Gemini (possibly because of his length) but seems pretty comfortable in the Ergo. Because so much of our schedule and routine are based around Madeleine, we're still figuring out Elliott's schedule. He takes three naps during the day and has been consistently cooing himself to sleep...even after using the Swaddle Up 50/50 to transition him to free arms in the Swaddle Up 50/50 or a merino sleepsack. (Knock on wood!)

Evenings are not quite so consistent or pleasant with Elliott. Sometimes he takes a fourth nap and sometimes he doesn't. His bedtime varies based on his daytime feeding times and temperament. As a result, he is really difficult to get to sleep at night - like George or I have to feed or rock him for hours at a time and get basically no evening to ourselves. This is really our only difficulty with him, so it's hard to complain about it, but it's also hard to not have any adult time in the evenings. Hopefully a more consistent, earlier bedtime will resolve this lingering issue. Once he's finally down for the evening, I can expect one wake-up a night unless it's the one (unpredictable) night per week when he sleeps through the night. Fortunately, he takes after his sister and rarely wakes before 8am and sometimes closer to 9am.

The big four month changes mean that almost every time Elliott wakes up, he is doing something new and revealing more and more of his personality. He's a chatty boy! Within the last week or so, he has discovered the upper octaves of his voice and loves to play with them when he's chatting with us. He loves participating in conversations and getting smiles and responses from the nearest human. Our pediatrician said that his vocalizations are more in line with a six-month old, so maybe we'll have another early talker. That would be great by me! Words = less frustration = fewer tantrums

In the last month, Elliott has made huge strides in his hand coordination. Practically the day after I wrote his last update, his consistency of hand to mouth contact improved. He almost always has hands in or near his mouth, though he isn't showing any sort of finger preference yet. Even though we are currently working to decrease/eliminate Madeleine's finger sucking, I still think this method of self-soothing has major advantages. Elliott is also doing a great job at gripping, which includes everything from his toys to my clothes.

As he's getting more alert, Elliott really enjoys being in on whatever activity we're doing. He loves looking at Christmas lights and has developed a great kick in the pool. I can't wait to see what other interests catch Elliott's attention as we learn more about him!

Our big boy continues to grow. While he still wears some of the medium itti bitti d'lish diapers, he's also wearing the BumGenius elementals handed down from Madeleine just a couple months ago (on a smaller setting, of course). In disposables, he's into size 3 (Seventh Generation). The clothes that fit him best are 6-12 or 9 months. Despite all the hype about boys being boring, I love shopping for and dressing our little guy!

We've been cleared by our pediatrician for solids, but I'm inclined to wait a little longer. Elliott is primarily nursed but will also take my milk in a bottle from babysitters or George. Now that I know I'll be going back to work part-time in the new year, I'm especially treasuring every moment with my sweet, round, smiley little boy. I love having this little boy in our family!

A look back:

19 December 2014

Friday I'm in Love

My week has been all about wrapping gifts and quilting. Hopefully I'll be ready to share more details of the latter next week. Until then, I want to share some loves relating to the former.

ONE: Photo Wrapping Paper
On a whim, upon seeing a major sale, I ordered some custom photo wrapping paper, and I've been really happy with it. I wish I'd known about it in time to wrap our gifts that had to be shipped. Next year, I'm going to be all over this!

TWO: Green Toys
I love Madeleine's Green Toys (and so does she), and I was reminded this week just how much when they were 50% off on Amazon. They are made from recycled plastic, sturdy, and easy to wash...not to mention super fun for kiddos. What's not to love? Hopefully Madeleine and Elliott will love both the gifts wrapped for this Christmas as well as the ones I bought on sale for birthdays/holidays in the future.

Head over to see what the Friday Gals - MishaKendraMary Beth, and Laura - are loving this week, too.

17 December 2014

A Pinterest Christmas: Scrabble Ornament & Paint-Dipped Pinecones

Welcome back to A Pinterest Christmas!

I have two projects to share with you. The first one is inspired by this pin and was free thanks to some Scrabble tiles I had left over from making this for George a couple Father's Days ago.

My biggest challenge was keeping the Gorilla glue from showing on the front, and I found the best results from standing up the tiles while drying the glue.

My second project was a long time coming and remarkably fast. I've had my eye on this pin for ages and intended to carry it out last year when I ended up making these pinecones. I used a few different methods to get the paint on the pinecones before hanging them to dry.

This project comes with a few words of warning. When choosing paint and cone, be aware of the size of the opening of the paint can versus size of the cone and of the amount of paint in the can. I used some leftovers from our garage (red from this makeover and white test paint from our exterior trim) and things didn't always line up as well as intended. Also, be aware that the paint makes the cones heavy and can leave paint drips off the cones as they dry (not just on the floor but also on the cone).

They turned out like this:

Have you checked out Michelle's glitter pinecones? Maybe I'll try those next year.

Be sure to check out what all the other ladies are making this week and participate yourself by commenting on one of our blogs or linking back to us. 

12 December 2014

Friday I'm in Love

Happy Friday. I know that I'm late to the game, but better late than never, right? Right. 

ONE: Glassybaby
I've wanted a Glassybaby for as long as I've known about them (just about as long as I've lived in Washington), and I got my first two earlier this year. I just added a couple more to my collection to help with holiday decorating (stay tuned). Not only are Glassybabies gorgeous and unique, but the company gives 10% of every sale to charity as part of its humble and inspiring beginnings

TWO: Bum Genius Elemental Diapers
Bum Genius Elementals are currently my favorite cloth diaper. They're an all-in-one, one-size diaper with super absorbent liner. I had two of them with Madeleine which have become my favorites for Elliott, so my best Black Friday deal was to stock up with a few more. They just arrived, and I can't wait to add them to my stash and get them on Elliott's lil' bum!

THREE: This List of Kids Books
Books are one of my favorite gifts to give to kids and receive for my own kids. Madeleine and Elliott have a million and will probably never have too many. I was thrilled for this list of hot kids books from 2014 to pop up on my reader this week - just in time for some last minute shopping! 

It's not too late - check out what MishaKendraMary Beth, and Laura are loving this week, too. 

10 December 2014

A Pinterest Christmas: Dried Bean Wreath

Welcome to week #2 of Pinterest Christmas! This week's project was loosely inspired by this yummy wreath and this Christmas tree.

It turned out to be a really inexpensive one because I reused a foam wreath form from a couple of years ago. With many sticks of hot glue, a bag and a third of dry beans, and a few burned finger tips, I covered the foam wreath about two-thirds of the way around. After I removed as many hot glue strings as possible and filled in as many gaps as possible with beans, I applied three or four coats of metallic spraypaint.

For a closer look:

Be sure to check out what the other ladies are making this week and participate yourself by commenting on one of our blogs or linking back to us. 

05 December 2014

Friday I'm in Love

Things (decorations, activities, social obligations, etc.) are in full holiday swing over here. Through all the hustle and bustle, I have a few things to share that I love this week. Be sure to check out what MishaKendraMary Beth, and Laura are loving this week, too. 

ONE: Getting Christmas Cards
Please tell me that I'm not the only one who loves getting the mail at this time of the year. Every time I wonder if cards are worth the money and energy, I recall how much I adore getting holiday cards. I hang them up and enjoy them well into the new year. Photo cards live on for the whole year - as the faces on my contacts and in Madeleine's book for learning and remembering names.

TWO: The Newlywed Kitchen Cookbook
I'm far from being a newlywed, but I still love this cookbook that I picked up shortly after George and I were married. Last night, I made the chicken potpie recipe. When I brought up the idea of making it during menu planning last week, George reminded me that he loves everything I've made from that cookbook. Maybe it's time to revisit some more old favorites.

THREE: 90 Day Fiance
My current television guilty pleasure is 90 Day Fiance. While I would never advise a client to go on a TV show like this, I find it super interesting to catch a glimpse into the lives of the couples who are participating. I know that it's highly edited to create drama, but I still enjoy it.

What are you loving today?

03 December 2014

A Pinterest Christmas: Felt Ball Christmas Tree

I am so excited to be co-hosting the third annual Pinterest Christmas blog series happening in December! Each week, the hosts will be sharing Pinterest-inspired projects related to the holiday season - anything from decorations and crafts to traditions and recipes. We'll be sharing our projects from now till Christmas, so check back often. 

Even better, we would love for you to join in on the fun. Plan your projects, post them, link back to one of our posts, and leave us a comment! Not a blogger? No problem - we’d love to see your projects on Instagram! Use the hashtag #PinterestChristmas2014

The hosts:

Need some inspiration? Check out the posts from the previous two years hereHappy crafting!

My first project for this year is a pretty simple (but oh so colorful) addition to the tree forest that I started in the early days of Pinterest Christmas. 

The construction consists simply of a craft store cone, hot glue, and felt balls (which I purchased from my favorite felt supplier). It took me as long as it took me to pump before bed one evening. Boom. 

Be sure to check out what the other ladies are making this week and participate yourself by commenting on one of our blogs or linking back to us. 

28 November 2014

Friday I'm in Love

We're still recovering from Thanksgiving, and I have a few things to share that I love this week. Be sure to check out what MishaKendraMary Beth, and Laura are loving this week, too. Welcome, Laura!

ONE: Lay's Chocolate Covered Chips
These are only available for a limited time and at Target (though there are some floating around Amazon, too). They're a delicious mix of salt and sweet. Yum. 

TWO: Y Peeler
My Y peeler is one of my favorite kitchen items, and I wouldn't want to peel apples or potatoes without it. (My other favorites include my non-stick pans, silicon spatulas, great cutting boards, good chef's knife, and lime squeezer.)

THREE: Name Necklace
As Christmas approaches, I recently realized that I hadn't spent my Etsy giftcard from last Christmas. I used part of it to buy myself a personalized necklace bearing the names of my little ones, and I love it. I got mine here, but lots of people sell them. 

FOUR: Threading
I had my first threading service this week, and I will never again have my eyebrows waxed. It's a method originating in India where thread (yep, like the kind I use to sew) is used to individually remove and cut hair. I never knew that my brows could look this good. At $4 per time, it's a lot cheaper, too. 

Psssst! Next week brings us December, which means another year of Pinterest Christmas. Now is a good time to get moving on your Christmas projects, and be sure to stop back next week to see what the other co-hosts and I are making. 

24 November 2014

Elliott - Three Months Old

One Week
Two Weeks
Three Weeks
One Month
Two Months

This weekend, we celebrated Elliott's three month birthday: a quarter year on Earth! Elliott is a very happy baby and has started being a lot more generous with his smiles. He does the occasional subtle laugh and lots of chatting. It seems like he went from silent to constant chatter nearly overnight, and now he's using his voice to show both his happiness and when he's bored or tired. Generally, he is incredibly patient as he now spends a fair chunk of his day waiting for us as we help Madeleine use toilets here, there, and everywhere.

He's not yet gripping toys, but he is accurately swatting and kicking at his toys. Elliott spends a lot of time staring at his hands and gets one of them into his mouth a little less than 50-percent of the time. It's obvious when he makes the connection because the sucking noise is profound. He enjoys a moderate amount of tummy time on the floor and lots on my shoulder as it gives him a chance to really look around. He rolls from his belly to back pretty regularly. Elliott has entered the world of distractions and often gets totally mesmerized by the ABC poster and Madeleine's art hanging behind the nursing chair in his nursery.

Elliott gave us a week or more of sleeping 10 to 12 hours through the night and then had a growth spurt. He's still either working through the spurt or regulating my milk supply because he's been up (usually only) once a night for the last week or two and his nursing sessions have doubled in length the last couple days. He seems to be doing better with resettling himself during naps and overnight, though certainly not every time.

Did I mention that Elliott is a growing boy? At three months, he's the same size as Madeleine at six months, and that's pretty consistent with his clothing. This week, he started wearing some 6-12 month clothes. He is already growing out of his 0-6 and 0-12 socks, so he's going to have some big piggies. He has sprouted a little more (seemingly auburn) hair, and his eyes are continuing to play tricks on us, depending on what he's wearing and how the light hits them.

Elliott's biggest fan wanted to help with his photoshoot this time:

21 November 2014

Friday I'm in Love

This was both a fast and a slow week for me but, either way, it's Friday again! It's a bit of a clothing week here, and don't forget to check out what MishaKendra, and Mary Beth are loving this week, too.

ONE: Boden Rainy Day Mac

I semi-stalked someone who I saw wearing this jacket so that I'd know where to get one of my own. Although I didn't end up picking the same pattern as she had, I'm so glad that I splurged on this beauty. Not only is it cute, cute, cute, but it is fleece lined and complete with a hood. As a Pacific Northwesterner, this is an incredibly practical three-season coat! Love it? Oh, yes! (30% off right now too!)

TWO: Bobeau Asymmetrical Fleece Wrap Cardigan

This fall, I'm a big fan of this fleece cardigan. It's warm, comfy, nursing-friendly, and creates a put together look without any effort. Think sweatshirt on the inside, cashmere on the outside. Ok, maybe it's not that extreme, but you get the idea. I own a couple of these, and I'm considering yet another at the next markdown.

THREE: Love to Dream Swaddle Up

We had one of these for Madeleine and used it as a back-up. Mr. I-Hate-Swaddle-Blankets has slept almost every night and every nap in his "bat suit" since he came home from the hospital. We're trying to break him of the habit, but it's going to be a battle. This afternoon, he went from grumpy to grin as soon as I started zipping him into his suit. They used to be hard to acquire outside of Australia and New Zealand, so I'm happy to see that they're now available on Amazon.

And with that, I'm going to go mourn the fact that my baby is turning three months old this weekend. Have a good one!

14 November 2014

Friday I'm in Love

Welcome back to Friday I'm in Love. Be sure to check out what MishaKendra, and Mary Beth are loving this week, too!

ONE: Change of Seasons
The chill of winter is in the air, and I'm once again reminded of why I love living in a place with four distinct seasons. We had a few days of gorgeous blue skies and sunshine this week, and I was inspired to get (the kids) outside and make the most of them, knowing that the days like this - even 30-degree ones - are going to be limited until next June or July.

TWO: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood - the modern animated show inspired by Mr. Roger's Neighborhood - is one of two shows Madeleine is allowed to watch, and it has had a major impact on her ability to handle some difficult situations, most recently potty training. Each 30-minute episode contains a lesson, neatly packaged in a catchy jingle. As you may imagine, our house's recent repeating soundtrack is "When you have to go potty - stop! and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way."

THREE: Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's
I was introduced to these this week, and I can see why they have their own Facebook page. I'm not usually a big TJ's fan, but these might draw me in a time or two before the end of the holiday season.

FOUR: Kate Middleton's appearance at the Royal Variety Performance
I am loving Kate's dress, casual yet formal updo, pregnancy glow, and itty bitty baby bump. Check them out here. Yes, royal watching is one of my guilty pleasures.

What are you loving this week?

09 November 2014

Weekend in Photos

Our weekend started on Friday. George took the day off work so that we could have all hands on deck for our big 3-day potty training adventure. We knew that Madeleine was (really, really) ready for this when she started playing potty a few weeks ago.

She did a great job telling us when she needed to go to the toilet (sometimes even when she didn't) and is in underwear full time now. Hopefully the sleep wets will resolve themselves over time.

Grandma and Papa's package with firefighter hats, a new book, and stacking logs arrived at the perfect time! 

Madeleine's not the only one who got to enjoy extra Daddy time!

When the kids were sleeping, I started an overhaul of my craft storage, including uniformly folding all 52 yards of Madeleine's fabric (that big one in the middle is fabric from Hawaii that will be the back of a quilt for her). 

This morning, Elliott and I joined a friend for a cruise around a local quilt show. I soaked up lots of inspiration, including this original design. 

As we try to do most weekends, we took the kids to the pool. Madeleine is a water maniac while Elliott happily floats along. 

After his swim, Elliott was exhausted. He connected with his hand for just long enough to put himself solidly to sleep.

Once we were home and he was fed, Elliott allowed me to capture his beautiful smile. He's very content but rather stingy with his big, toothless grin, so I'm especially happy to have finally captured it. 

We're bracing for a busy week and much colder temperatures. How was your weekend, and what's on your agenda for the week?