Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tu... Tu... Tutorial

So, I've been doing some research lately on Pinterest to get ideas for a newborn photo shoot.  When I gave birth to Max, we were bombarded shortly after with the opportunity to have photos taken by Bella Baby Photography during our hospital stay.  Though the pictures were beautiful, they cost an arm and a leg considering the shoot lasted all of about 10 minutes total.  
During Max's first year of life I tried so hard to capture every sweet moment, albeit on my iPhone... but as he became more and more mobile, I realized that the quality of the photos I was taking began to get worse and worse.
After a little saving, and pleading with my husband, I finally purchased a really nice camera.
Truth be told, I am certainly not a professional photographer. My skills are novice at best, but the more I play around with my camera, the more comfortable I feel with it, and the results are starting to show.

I have decided, that when baby number 2 arrives, I really want to take things into my own hands. I feel confident that with the combination of good equipment, some editing, and lots of research on the subject, the results will be something that I will be satisfied with... If not, I will hang my head in shame, and hire someone else to do the job.
Considering the fact that I do have pretty abundant faith in my crafting/DIY abilities, I have been taking some time lately to focus on newborn photo shoot props.
I have seen some photos I really like with sweet slumbering infants wearing tutus and dainty floral headbands (I'll save that for another post), so I decided that with the hundreds of thousands of tutorials available online, it couldn't be that hard to make a DIY tutu... Boy was I right.

I almost feel silly calling this a tutorial, because these tutus are really that easy to make, but I thought I'd share how I adapted things on my own from the several tutorials I read via Pinterest.

For starters, I found the rolls of tulle at Joann Fabrics for a couple of dollars each.  They come in a wide variety of colors, which makes me feel like there might just be more tutus to come for us in the future. I bought the pink coordinating roll of ribbon, because I thought adding a bow to my tutu would be a cute addition. I already had some elastic waistband on hand from making pajama pants for Max.  I believe it is a 1/2 inch in width.
From there, I cut the elastic band.  From the research I did, 15 inches in length should fit a newborn waist, but I cut my piece to be 16 inches long to allow for the overlap where I would be sewing it together.
I used my sewing machine to sew the elastic into a loop, but this could honestly be done by hand.
Then I began cutting my tulle into strips. I made each of my strips 20 inches in length.  I wasn't sure exactly how many strips I would need, so I just kept cutting, and once I began tying them on to the elastic, if it looked like I needed more, then I simply cut more. I want to say I used about 12 strips of each color, give or take, around 36 strips total.
To tie the tulle to the elastic band, I folded each strip in half and used a simple slip knot all the way around the elastic band.
When I did this, I cut a 30 inch length of the coordinating pink ribbon that I intended to use for the bow and tied the tulle strips around the ribbon and the elastic at the same time.  In hindsight, I think I could have skipped doing that, and just tied the bow on at the end... I suppose I'll try that next time!

Once the ribbon was tied in a bow, and the elastic band was completely covered in the tulle all the way around, I fluffed up the skirt, and tada... super easy and cute tutu!

Hopefully in the not too distant future, I will be posting the results of our little lady's photo shoot, and you will get the chance to see her wearing it!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Full Disclosure

I think it's time to come to terms with the fact that I may have a bit of a problem.  Not only do I have, what I like to refer to as a severe case of project/craft ADD, but now it seems as though I have developed a bit of a yarn hoarding habit as well.
I'll ask for your forgiveness in advance for the fact that this blog post is going to seem a bit all over the place, but I really felt the need to share some of the projects I am currently working on or have recently completed and even a few recipes we've tried lately and really enjoyed.
If my blogging seems scatterbrained, you can't even imagine the things running through my head on a normal day. My hands just can't seem to move fast enough to keep up with my feverishly racing mind! Perhaps it's nesting, but maybe if I spent a little less time looking for new ideas/projects, I'd actually complete more of them, and put a dent in my ever growing yarn collection.
I just finished, in record time (for me), mind you, this baby afghan for our little princess on the way. I have been crushing on this pattern from Attic24 for a long time now, and it felt so good to get it done with 2 whole months to spare before her arrival. Attic 24 is a brilliant blog, and the woman who writes it, shares the most gorgeous, and free, crochet patterns on her site. If you crochet, it is definitely worth checking out.

I adore this color palette, and how squishy soft the afghan turned out. Now I just can't wait to wrap her up in it and hold her in my arms.

So, it's on to the next project. Yet another baby blanket with a pattern that I have been eyeing for quite some time. I am absolutely obsessed with pretty much everything Purl Soho does. I find myself spending endless hours in the middle of the night (when I can't sleep due to the reoccuring gymnastics routine in my belly every evening), stalking their website or projects with their hashtag on Instagram.
Their Super Easy Baby Blanket is such a simple pattern, but it yields the most lovely results. I am currently on color number 3 of 7 (one color is missing from the photo, because thanks to "pregnancy brain", I forgot it at the yarn store)... And I am already thrilled with how it looks. Seriously, if you're new to knitting, but want to make a blanket, this pattern is perfection.

These baby blankets have been great for something mindless to work on in between the orders I've been getting from my Etsy shop. I've been super busy working on things for lots of little impending bundles of joy, and am feeling so blessed to be able to do something I enjoy so much while also helping contribute to the family income.

These owl hats have been in high demand, apparently they are hugely popular.

As promised, I also wanted to share a few recipes that we've tried lately and really enjoyed. I apologize that in the glutinous moments when I was stuffing these delicious meals into my almost 8-months-pregnant mouth, I neglected to photograph them myself, however the photos from the site are probably much more pleasing to the eyes then mine would have been.
Anyhow, I'm not sure why I never thought to look on the Williams-Sonoma blog before for dinner ideas, but I stumbled across some of their recipes on Pinterest and every single one we have tried, has not only been easy to prepare, but they have all been delicious and used healthy and simple ingredients. The links for all of them can be found here:

In case you couldn't tell... we like chicken! Enjoy!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love... and Chocolate, Make the World Go Round

Some people may think that Valentine's Day has become an overly commercialized holiday. While others have even gone as far as saying that it is (gasp) made up. Those people are certainly entitled to their opinions, but personally, I see nothing wrong with a day dedicated entirely to telling those that we love and care about, that we do.  I also see absolutely nothing wrong with being completely and utterly overindulgent when it comes to chocolate... and Nutella.  Wow, do I really love Nutella.

Anyhow, after a month plus of eating an incredibly healthy diet, in an effort to detox post holiday season, I felt it was time to take the plunge and enjoy some fun festive Valentine's Day treats.
If you have not seen this pretzel, Hershey Kiss, and M&M combo on Pinterest, you are truly missing out. They are fun, super simple to make, can be adjusted to fit a multitude of holiday themes (thanks to M&Ms designed for every season/holiday), and both little ones and adults alike can't resist the salty-sweet combo.

To make them, you will need:
1 Bag of waffle shaped pretzels
1 Bag of Hershey's Kisses, or Hugs
1 Bag of milk chocolate M&Ms

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Place as many pretzels as you would like to make on a baking sheet. Top each one with a Kiss or a Hug.  Pop them in the oven for 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven, press an M&M into each softened Kiss, while warm, then allow to cool.  That's it! Easy Peasy!

Seriously, if there is a better combination than strawberries and Nutella... I don't know what it is.  Actually, pretty much anything with Nutella is amazing.  

I've pinned about a dozen or more of these homemade "poptart" recipes on Pinterest.  I've made them before filled with blueberry jam and homemade strawberry jam.  I've iced them, put sprinkles on them, used homemade and store-bought pie crust.  No matter what the variation, they are always delicious. 
This time I opted for lots of short cuts.  Good old Pillsbury pie crust, jam straight from a jar, and the infamous Nutella.  Once again, they did not disappoint.

1 box Pillsbury pie crust
1 jar seedless strawberry jam (Stonewall Kitchen is our household favorite, but any brand will do)
1 jar Nutella
1 egg

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Unroll pie crust on a lightly floured surface.  Using a 2 inch heart shaped cookie cutter, I got about 9 hearts from each crust.  Place 9 hearts on a parchment lined baking sheet. Top each heart with approximately 1/2 teaspoon jam and a 1/2 teaspoon nutella. Using a tiny bit of water to help the crusts adhere together, I went around the edge of each heart, then topped it with another dough heart, and sealed them together with the tines of a fork. I then brushed the top of each "poptart" with a lightly beaten egg wash. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let them cool for a bit, then indulge!

Max's homemade "Homer the Hound" Valentine's Day card for Daddy was too cute not to share.  Look at that coloring job on the ears.  Proud mom here!

Of course we had to finish the day off with homemade heart shaped pizzas... a romantic dinner at home, but I wouldn't have had it any other way.

I hope your day was full of love, chocolate, and time spent with those who mean the most to you!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Anxiously Awaiting Spring

We have officially reached the point when it feels like winter might just never end.  We overindulged and enjoyed every bit of festiveness the holidays had to offer.  We endured January's miserably frigid temperatures, and survived the so-called Polar Vortex... but now it is February, and February is known to drag on for-ev-er.
There is little else to do at this point, but bundle up, suck it up, and make the best of it in the hopes the spring hurries the heck up and graces us with her presence. Soon. Very soon.
Keeping a very active and energetic 19 month old boy's-boy entertained through these cold weather months has become quite the task, as you can only imagine. One can only endure a few episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine and Caillou before enough is enough, and my 7-months-pregnant body can only handle so much bending, picking up, and rolling around on the floor to play.

This past weekend, in an effort to get out of the house, we made a trip to the Children's Museum. The last time we were there, this past summer, Max wasn't quite walking yet, so this time it was a whole new adventure! This time, we were chasing him everywhere! There is so much to see and do there, that Max was awestruck with opportunity.

There is something so amazing and special about watching your child learn and explore.  We played, we created, we laughed... We even whined and cried when it was time to leave one exhibit and move on to the next. At least until we realized the new fun that awaited us. Needless to say, it was a few hours well spent, and all of that adventuring led to a great nap for Max, and one exhausted set of parents!

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