A practice run

I saw this great “post yoga” wrap at a boutique that I loved.

I didn’t love the $142 price tag.

I figured I could make it myself. So I did.

Except I made a mistake with my fabric choice and I have to make it all over again.




For a practice run I think it looks great! I used a favorite cardigan from Loft as a starting point and made adjustments from there to create my initial muslin piece. I wanted it to be long, drapey, no hood, and I am still undecided on pockets and edge finishing. I was so nervous to cut the sweatshirt fabric, but as I was pinning and cutting, something felt awry. Turns out I failed to buy STRETCH sweatshirt fabric. Which is kind of important when you are making a garment that you want to stretch . I couldn’t get my arms in the sleeves!

It looks like I won’t be wrapping up warm in this wrap anytime this week. However, now that I have effectively made two practice pieces, one, my muslin draft and now this one made from non stretch fabric, once I get the right fabric in my hands it should be a snap to complete the project.


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A finished pair of socks

How long does it take to knit a pair of socks? Mmmm anywhere between a couple weeks and several years, especially if you are a serial project starter like me. 2015/03/img_3042.jpg This pair? They took about two and a half months from cast on to blocking. I don’t knit everyday, but I knit a ton on vacation over Christmas (helloooo that’s what vacations are for!) and then continued here and there since January. You know. In the waiting room at the doctors office. In the preschool pick up line. In the car when Keith was driving. I love these! The shell pattern, the color, the length, everything. They are the perfect amount of woolly warmth and the airy pattern means you won’t sweat to death. Important, considering I finished these in the month of March and would still like to wear them despite the warm weather. Oh, wait, no warm weather here yet. 2015/03/img_3041.jpg I was a bit nervous as I finished knitting these up that they would be too small.2015/03/img_3029.jpg Thankfully after a good soak and blocking on my DIY sock blockers they were the perfect size.2015/03/img_3040.jpg 2015/03/img_3038.jpg 2015/03/img_3039.jpg Time to put my feet up! For about twenty seconds until parenthood calls. Child’s First Sock in Shell Pattern from “Knitting Vintage Socks” by Nancy Bush. Ravelry Link.


Filed under crafts, DIY, Knitting

Why I read and watch things three years late

A little while back on an evening where bedtime for our kids crept well past nine, we actually sat down on the couch and watched tv, you know, instead of flurrying around getting ready for the next day’s events and promptly passing out. Keith surfed the channels and stopped at msnbc, which was airing a documentary on trafficked teens in Detroit.

I was amazed. I had heard and read a little about trafficking and modern day slavery in the US, but I’ve never seen a whole show about it. Captivating. Heartbreaking. Unbelievable. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening to these girls.

Naturally, I tweeted about it, to which my smart Alec and ridiculously well aware, read, written and published little brother responds… @danamarie262 Sis… That aired originally three years ago.


We had a little playful twitter banter on how the only current events I know of are who has used the potty properly that day and that was that.

It’s true. I live in a bubble. I don’t watch the news hardly ever because I have three small children with me every second of the day. The things on the news are hardly appropriate for children to watch. Bombings, scandals, beheadings, all sorts of things that are horrific for me, let alone our seven, five and two year old. So the tv stays off.

The books I read early on in parenting were those that would help me to SURVIVE sleepless nights, and decidedly not go-change-the-world books.

The books I read now are about three to seven years past publication date. Sorta current, right? UnChristian, The Next Christians, Interrupted, Love Does, to name my most recent reads that do not fall into the parenting category. Because let’s face it, I’m a mom and that’s my biggest job- to make sure I am not screwing up my kids, to teach them that God loves them even though their mom might have screwed up (ok, ok I probably will fail them somehow, using the word “might” is too optimistic) and, if possible, set up these little ones for some sort of success in life. Thus, parenting books will likely always have a solid place on my nightstand.

I suppose it is fair to say I am isolated from many world events. I just don’t have the time to keep up with everything. I try my best, I read when I can, I read opposing viewpoints when possible… But let’s face it- I have hardly any time to myself! It’s impossible to be amazing at everything all the time, so I just settle into mediocrity at a bunch of things.

I think what I struggle with lately is this notion of productivity above all else. There’s this call to arms to find your passion, your calling, go, be, do, lots of things! But guess what? I have three children and no free daycare and I kinda like being around my kids all the time anyways. The only thing I’m going and being and doing is being a wife and mom. And volunteer for my kids school. And volunteer in the church nursery. And a bunch of other things that will never put my name in print.

So I plug along. And read. Three years late. But I’m still reading. Still thinking. Still asking questions. Still struggling for answers.

I suppose that’s the best I can do.

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On flunking 2015 goals before the end of 1Q

I was ambitious. A little too ambitious. And I’ve also been a little lazy.

My easy resolutions, or, rather, habits that I restarted in December have been mostly on point. Because hey, it’s not that hard to sleep 8 hours a night and keep a tube of lipstick or lip color in every.single.purse and pocket I own. The walking the dog bit has been hampered by the never ending polar vortex- we have a Yorkie, not a Huskie, and little Miss Mercy isn’t a fan of the exteme cold.
She basically just freezes up and refuses to move when it’s too cold or if she can’t get through the snow. I guess I can’t blame her. It has been hovering around zero degrees for weeks.

Here’s the status report on my list. Overall, I’m hoovering just above flunking. As you’ll see, I’ve nixed some on the list and tweaked others. Keith has some fancy project management name for this, like agile project manage my or something, so I am going to pretend that’s totally what I am doing, and add his project color coding status (RAG- Red Amber Green). You know. So I seem productive.

My goals for 2015 are organized into six categories: Faith/ Personal Growth, Marriage, Mothering, Creativity, Fitness, & Others.

Faith/ Personal Growth- Amber- not quite on track, but moving in the right direction.

  • Wake up early and read bible while riding my stationary bike for 21 consecutive days in January (once I kick this awful cold)- ummmm I got a cold, then Sydney got the stomach flu, and then we all got colds again and I voted for sleep instead of extra cardio. I have, however, been faithful in getting up by at least 6 to read my bible. I’ve been trucking along with the If:equip groups weekday readings as well as my own bible study homework. So I guess this is sorta a win. Am I keeping this goal? Ehhhh ok I’ll try again in March to incorporate the bike riding, but I’m separating the goals into faith/ personal growth and fitness. It’s too hard to keep track of a multi tasking goal like this.
  • Finish reading all the half read books on my Kindle- read a minimum of 10 minutes a day- I am soooo winning at this! I totally read a little bit every day, I finished one book, am rereading another and started a new one (ugh, I know I am a serial book starter! But I needed to read Love Does for a Valentine’s Day project!)
  • Use prayer app daily- schedule just 5 minutes a day- I’ve been using the prayer app to keep track of things, but I am not consistent in spending purposeful time in prayer every day. 

Marriage- Green

  • Plan a weekend trip for 1st quarter- we’re waiting for a sale at our favorite inn, so this is on hold.
  • Plan a date night per month- I actually think we did this in both January and February! We are usually pretty broke in the beginning of the year- as we have several family birthday at the end of the year, plus Christmas and the traveling we did to visit family this past year. We don’t have a line in the budget for babysitting. I wish we did! Even just for me to be able to go to the eye doctor ALONE! But it’s not feasible and we’re at the mercy of free babysitters, aka, my mom. Hopefully she’s up for another sleepover next month, even though I am pretty sure she doesn’t sleep a wink with the kids over.
  • Workout together once a week- this has been happening on and off, depending on schedules and sickness with the kids. We worked out together last Monday and did a push up contest the other evening. Ha!

Mothering- Amber

  • Take Savannah to a painting class- the family classes at our local paint place are on Sundays and I haven’t found one that works with our schedule and that we like. I keep looking!
  • Visit science museum once a month- Yes! We visited the science museum as a family in January and with some friends in February. 
  • reinstitute chore packs and cleaning Saturdays- ehhh… we’re still working on this. There’s always a birthday party to go to on Saturday or something so I never seem to get everything done, but the kids are definitely taking their jobs to help take care of our home and their stuff seriously.
  • develop a homeschool/ enrichment schedule for Luke- in progress

Creativity- Amber

  • Participate in the 10 day Do Over Challenge – from John Acufftotal flunk, I don’t even know if I can do over the do over. I think I might nix this one!
  • Sew one article of clothing for myself per quarter- on track to make two items this quarter- a pair of handknitted socks and a sweatshirt/ wrap/ cardigan
  • try the “Year of Nothing New” challenge for clothing- I bought a shirt from Target. Then I remembered this challenge and RETURNED IT! Even though it was SEVEN BUCKS! Go ME! Then my two favorite pairs of jeans ripped in some rather unfortunate places in early January and they were deemed unwearable, but I have not replaced them.
  • write 50 blog posts this year- ehhh… maybe? I’m at about 5, so I have some work to do. But I am starting to figure out that I can write a bunch of stuff when I have time, and post it or edit it later!

Fitness- Red

  • Cut body fat to under 20%- holy hell, how am I going to do that? Because, carbs.
  • Participate in #30daysnocheats with Jen, starting January 5th- so losing. Lets shoot for March.
  • Help 2 people in their fitness journey- working with one who is having some amazing results!
  • research personal training certificate- no progress


  • Host an IF:Table- nope, not yet
  • Host a monthly craft night- actually I think this is halfway happening, though not terribly organized, my friend Cyndi and I get together to do some things every few weeks, and it is fantastically fun.

At the end of the 1Q, I’ll be rewriting my goals for the year. Being an agile life project manager and all. Ha. How are everyone else’s goals coming along?


Filed under faith, Fitness, home life

We have a Jedi, we call him Luke

We always knew that we’d have a Star Wars themed birthday party at some point in our house, especially after that ultrasound in 2009 when the technician said “It’s a boy!”

Star Wars is, hands down, Keith’s favorite movie series (saga? trilogy? double trilogy?) in the history of ever. And yes, I think he said “Luke, I am your Father” in the delivery room. Keith has successfully passed down that love of all things Jedi to our son Luke and this year was the perfect opportunity to execute the Star Wars birthday plan.

We actually bought a Star Wars themed birthday basket from a charity auction when we were pregnant with Savannah (I know, very nerdy of us) and it’s sat in the basement for seven years, and even moved to two different houses with us. The kit had goodie bags, papergoods, tablecloth and some dangly decor.


I found a couple invitation ideas on pinterest and downloaded a Jedi font from dafont to make them.


I went a little crazy with the cake and created R2D2 out of 3 cake mixes, using an 8 inch cake pan several times and a metal bowl that I sprayed the heck out of to make the R2’s domed top. 2015/01/img_2452.jpg2015/01/img_2454.jpg

R2’s legs were made out of a pan of rice krispie treats and the whole thing was smothered in several batches of buttercream frosting. The legs were attached to the main body with shishkabob skewers.2015/01/img_2458.jpg

The birthday banner was made with the Jedi font on my Silhouette, and I am starting to wonder if I should start selling these? They are fun(though time consuming) to make and a cute custom addition to birthday parties.


I couldn’t find a Star Wars-ish pinata locally, so I purchased a soccer ball pinata and spray painted it silver. After it dried and I filled it, I painted geometric shapes and used electical tape to make it look like the Death Star.


I nixed the idea of actual goodie bags, since my house gets easily cluttered with goodie bag stuff from parties, and we made custom t-shirts for all of the guests that said “Jedi Master ____” in gold paint. I cut the stencils out of freezer paper on my Silhouette and the big kids had an opportunity to help paint the shirts.


We live around the block from a children’s gym/ tumbling place and we were able to utilize their open play time for an hour before coming back to our house for pizza, pinata and cake.


The foam pit was a favorite location for my kids as they acted out the trash compactor scene from one of the Star Wars movies.



While I am a little anti- pull string pinata, I have to admit that the pinata part of the party went from tame…


To “Careful guys, stand back please!”


And then “BACK UP GUYS!!!!”


Culminating in my Matrix-like backbend to save the children when one of Luke’s friends swung like Babe Ruth.

Despite the challenges, we are still a Pro-Legit-Pinata family. I will just set up barricades next time. Haha.



Hope you had the happiest of birthdays Luke! You are a joy to see grow up into a little man!

And friends… we are still working on those thank you notes… not a strong point of ours for punctual mail. eeek!

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Filed under crafts, DIY, home life, Kids Activities, Silhouette Projects

Chore packs- how they work for us

Have you ever struggled with keeping your children engaged and responsible with household chores? Or do your kids have trouble simply remembering all the difficult steps there are to get dressed for school (like, go potty, make bed, get dressed, put dirty clothes in the hamper, etc). Yeah, us too.

What works for us right now is using my own variation of “chore packs.” I made a set for our then four and six year olds several months back and it helps them stay on task.


Our two and a half year old is asking for her own chore pack, so this afternoon Savannah and I are going to assemble one for her.

I found bits and piece of ideas online and asked a graphic designer friend to add a few icons that I wasn’t able to figure out myself. There are icons for all of the basic hygiene things the kids need to do on a daily basis in the morning- go potty, brush teeth, comb hair, wipe counter, make bed, and put dirty clothes in the hamper.


I keep the “morning” set on their chore packs all the time. If I need help with things in the afternoon, I’ll slip on a different split ring onto their lanyard with various chores.

I have icons for set the table, clear the table, wash the dishes, feed the dog, empty the dishwasher, water flowers, pick up toys, fold laundry, put clean laundry away, sweep the floor, mop the floor, wash mirrors and windows, vacuum, take out the garbage and I have a blank mommys-choice card too that I can write on with a dry erase marker.

Granted they never have to do ALL of that at the same time! But they get a chunk of chores to do on Saturdays and they usually are required to help with meal prep and clean ups every day.

The best thing about this system is that I never have to ask “did you do this, this, and this?” They just know they need to complete their chore pack. When they are done, they are done. Free to do as they please. They are responsible for this wearable list, and they won’t be able to forget what they are supposed to do. It’s right around their neck!


We feel using this type of system has improved our relationship with our older kids because there is no more nagging or needing to check up on the three things we sent them to do: they are responsible. They know what to do and we know they can do it. Luke is always so proud to finish his chore pack. Savannah secretly is too, but she thinks she is “too old” for them. Which is partially true, she does an excellent job doing all of the daily tasks without being reminded. Her bed is always made every day, her hair combed and teeth brushed. But having the pack on the weekends is helpful because her tasks change from week to week. There is not a consistent routine other than you-have-chores.

We also like that we are splitting up some household tasks- we say that if we work together then we can play together. While the kids do some light duty work, Keith does that too (and yes, sometimes I leave out the kids chore pack cards for him- much easier than finding paper to write him a list!), and I clean the bathrooms and change all the sheets.

It’s my hope and my heart that our kids will develop habits of discipline and of serving others through this exercise, as well as provide an opportunity to tangibly take care of what God has entrusted us with. It also helps keep our house running more smoothly to have a weekly re-set. Or two. Lord knows our house isn’t the neatest in the world… I am a creative person and us creatives tend to be messy (with seven different projects going on at a time)!

We’ve been off schedule for a while, with traveling and Christmas, so I am re-instituting our Saturday chorepack mornings this weekend. We have a birthday party to attend (the whole family!) at 10 am, so my goal is for everyone to be up and moving, with the house cleaned from top to bottom before we leave. Here goes nothing!

You can download the icons in two different sizes here and here. Just print it on cardstock, cut out the icons and mat them onto some colored scrapbook paper. Hole punch the tops and grab a few binder ring clips. Let your child pick out their ribbon to make the lanyard.  I recommend laminating to prolong the life of the cards.





Filed under crafts, home life, Household Helps, Kids Activities, organization, Silhouette Projects

Ultimate Girls Spy Party

A few months back, we had an amazingly fun Spy themed birthday party for our daughter. I found bits and pieces of ideas from the interwebs and put this together.


We went with a “007” theme since she was turning 7, and I found some images that I was able to import and trace in my Silhouette Studio software for the invitation and party extras. After some deliberating with fellow mom-friends and my cousin, who’s a second grade teacher, we decided to drop the gun part of the 007 bond logo. I didn’t want to make waves on the playground. But, FYI, if you include it in yours I am totally not offended.



The invitations turned out really cute. We included a tiny envelope that said “Your Secret Mission” that included the URL for the flipagram we created. It was set to the James Bond theme song. Obviously.



And a birthday isn’t a birthday around these parts without a custom banner and accessories.





The girls were greeted at the front door with a sign, which was, admittedly, the most lame thing I created. I ran outta steam.


After the girls came in, they came to our dining table where each person had a pink file folder and materials to make their own badge. We had washable pink ink pads for the girls to put their fingerprint on their badge too. I had intended to print a tiny picture of each girl and have it on their badge, but I’m no pinterest show, so I let that one slide.



Inside each of the folders was a letter explaining what the girls had to do to complete their 007 Spy training.

We had a yarn/ laser bean obstacle course:


An exercise in “hiding in plain sight” a.k.a dress up:/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/ee5/28020644/files/2015/01/img_2507.jpg




And my favorite- cracking the cipher code. We printed up the alphabet in a Wingdings type font on cardstock, cut each letter match out, and carefully put them inside black ballons. We dropped 26 balloons on the girls and they needed to “diffuse” the bombs to get the code.


After cracking the code, we broke for lunch, after which a new mission mysteriously appeared in an envelope. It seemed Dr. No stole the “loot bags” and hid them somewhere.

The new mission directed each of the girls to look for a clue on the underside of their lunch plate. The clues led each of them to a random place in the house (freezer, laundry room, piano bench, etc) where they each found an envelope containing a word written in cipher code.

The girls worked together to decode each of the words and then figured out the order of the sentence. They discovered that the loot bags were inside a locked cedar chest, and where to find the key. After they found the loot bags we celebrated by having cake and presents.

For those of you who like lists, the party flow was about 2 hours and went as follows:

  1. Guests arrive- badge craft
  2. Game time
    1. yarn/laser obstacle course
    2. dress up/ hiding in plain sight
    3. cracking the cipher code
  3. Lunch
  4. New Mission
    1. find new clues
    2. decode clues
    3. find loot bags
  5. Cake & Presents

All of my silhouette files are available on my google drive. Hope you can use some of these ideas to have a fun party for your children too!








Filed under crafts, DIY, home life, Kids Activities, Silhouette Projects