Friday, February 22, 2013

{Peasant Top and Shorts}

I am just dying, dyyyyyyying for the start of spring. It's no secret that I loathe cold weather and the best I can do is hole up in my house and make grand plans for warmer days. This usually begins with planting a few seeds indoors which I inevitably murder before time to transplant. Next comes a half-assed attempt at a diet to make myself bikini ready and, my personal favorite, spring sewing! 

The top is a modified version of the McCall's M6062 pattern. I took in the sides a couple of inches, added elastic around the bottom and stitched on a bow. The shorts are from McCall's pattern M6059.

She is always this goofy. I LOVE IT!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

{Downsizing on Purpose}

We purchased our first home in Richmond, Virginia shortly before my son was born back in 2006. At the time we were certain that the 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home would be absolutely perfect for our little growing brood. 

Or so we thought. *dun, dun, dunnnn*

Fast forward four years later and our little abode on Milbrae Lane had all but lost it's charm. Our family room, you know the sterile room reserved for company, became a volcano of unorganized books and toys. I had no idea what was even being played with and it was just as confusing for kids. They would ransack the space and when the floor was covered, begin lugging other toys into the den, dining room and kitchen. They NEVER played in their bedrooms since they were upstairs--too far away from everyone else. Their rooms were just more toy storage and more square footage for me to dust and vacuum. It was hard to get upstairs and clean as this meant I had to move the whole gang and their activities from one level to the next. And the dust, dust, dust-- I just couldn't keep up with all the dust! 

The maintenance on a larger, older home is daunting. I'm not exaggerating, it was always something. The high gutters were impossible for Shannon to reach on a ladder yet the high trees all around us made easy work of keeping them full. Our driveway was cracking and the deck was crumbling. Inside was one malfunctioning appliance or faulty fixture after the next. The words money pit come to mind. Between everything breaking and the overwhelming amount of cleaning that needed to be done, we were always frazzled, always thinking about what we needed to be doing. It was not worth the stress and the time it took away from our family. 

Perhaps our biggest issue was money. Between maintenance and a high mortgage payment, we had little extra money to do anything but wallow in the mess. We were living in a suburb close to so many activities yet we were so isolated by our lack of financial resources to participate in any of them.

We had to make a change. And we did. 

The opportunity presented itself for us to move out into the country, close to my family. We had been floating the idea around for quite a while and decided to take the leap. Our new home was a 3 (small) bedroom, 1200 square foot, split-level in the heart of Virginia. We would make it work.

The downsizing process:

We both agreed that we needed to seriously downsize our "stuff" so the first step for us was a yard sale. It was easier to sell our things with the mindset that we didn't want it cluttering our lives in our new home. A good rule of thumb is to sell anything that hasn't been used in a year. That tidbit helped me let go of clothing and kitchen gadgets that were pretty but lacked practicality. 

Excess children's clothing, toys and gear were tagged and put in a consignment sale. Children's items do better sold this way than at a yard sale. Worth it for the little extra work of tagging. We sold almost a thousand bucks worth of stuff we didn't know we had! Sad but true but awesome! 

We eyeballed our new space and did our best to figure out exactly where everything would go. We even sketched out a floor plan for some of the rooms. If something didn't have a place it was either stored, sold or donated!

We have now lived in our smaller home for about 7 months and here are the benefits we are seeing:

1.   Way less cleaning. I mean way. I can deep clean the entire house from top to bottom in about 2 hours. I'm talking windows, floors, vacuuming, tubs, all of it. This was an entire days work before. 

2.   Smaller electric bill. 

3.   Here's an obvious one: Less stuff, less clutter. Enough said. 

4.   I can hear what the kids are up to from anywhere in the house. Before, if the kid's were upstairs and I was in the kitchen, I had no idea what they were busy destroying. I had to follow them like a puppy (a cranky one) all day. 

5.    No more super high staircase. Again, nuff said. 

6.    The challenge of making a small space work has been a fun for me! Getting innovative with organization and taking a hard look at what we really needed was worth it for the payoff. 

I'm just speculating here but the hardest part about downsizing for some people may be going against the societal norm of bigger is better. But having sort of lived the other side, I am not envious of the more space than you need lifestyle that comes with it. I'm enjoying my time with less chores, more time to do what I enjoy with less impact on the world around me. A downsized life has proved to be a freeing one. Here's what we're focusing on:

Friday, February 15, 2013

{Glitter Framed Felt Board}

Don't you just hate it when your significant other deletes all of your pictures from the camera? Yours has never done that, you say? Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Well, this project was supposed to come with an awesome sauce picture tutorial but due to unforeseen circumstances, we'll just have to settle for photos of the finished product and little bit of talking-you-through-it. Luckily, it's totally simple, you really don't need the photos.

You will need:

  • Lots of glitter
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam Brush
  • Clear Acrylic Coating Spray (Krylon)
  • Felt in choice colors
  • Spray Adhesive

1. Remove the glass and backing from your frame. Apply a layer of Mod Podge and pour over glitter, tapping off excess. Repeat until the entire frame is covered.

2. After the Mod Podge has dried, spray the frame with clear acrylic spray. Let dry.

3. Use spray adhesive to attach a piece of felt to the backing of the frame.

4. Cut felt shapes to make ice cream or any other fun designs. I've seen a ton of great ideas for felt boards on Pinterest!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 11, 2013

{Goat Adventures}

I've been feeling a tad bit like Dr. Doolittle this past week. We've have  added two beautiful Nigerian Dwarf goat kids to our family. Meet the babies:

The human kids want to name them Star Wars and Hannah (after Avery's best friend). We are encouraging them to think a little harder on those titles. As of now they are affectionately referred to as 'the boy' and 'the girl'. We love them so much already; they are quirky and full of personality. I could sit in their pen and watch them play for hours!

Nigerian Dwarfs are a miniature breed of dairy goat. They are incredibly playful, social animals and usually bond easily with people. 

We eventually plan to breed the pair as they are not related. I also have grand plans for goat's milk soaps, lotions and lip balm as well as cheese and yogurt! The goat adventure begins. Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Bunting is a quick and easy scrap-busting project that really adds a whimsical touch to any room. Truth be told, I'm a little obsessed with it. They are a great project for the beginning sewer and there are many great tutorials for them floating around the internet. Here a just a few:

Stayed tuned for more great projects coming up as the girl's room series continues!

Monday, February 4, 2013

{Penelope's Predicament}

My sister and her dog came down from the big sitttttay to have a visit. We all met up at mom's with plans to eat copious amounts of finger food and then take naps. We also planned to clear out a room upstairs which also happens to be the room we lock mom's pig in to keep her from becoming chow. Captain is the pooche's name, he's an American Bulldog and the mortal enemy of all livestock. We live right down the road so Penelope (the pig) was to come stay in our dog lot for the day.

"Oh sure, mom, I'll totally come pick her up! No biggie."


Needless to say, pigs do not enjoy traveling. Perhaps it's an innate fear that they are headed for a giant skewer and fire pit--I don't know. What I do know is that sucker squealed screamed the entire way to my house. I pulled up next to the lot and opened the back door to find that not only had she crapped all over the floor but she had also managed to wedge her massive self in between the car seats. I rolled up my sleeves and gave my best heave-ho but there was no getting her out, not with my delicate butterfly strength. I stroked her back thinking about how she would surely be traumatized by this for the rest of her little piggy days. However, just as I started pondering swine therapy, Penelope craned her little neck just enough to reach a couple of M&Ms hiding in the floor mat. She was awkwardly trapped for the foreseeable future but still maintained a taste for month old chocolatey goodness. Home-slice would be just fine.

I called for backup.

Shannon was able to wrangle Penelope up and out of her sad, strange predicament. He was not, however, able to maintain control of her screeching, wiggly, super strong pig body. She managed to squirm out of his grasp and run away, eating acorns and random shit off the ground the entire way. It was then that I noticed a ginormous glob of green pig excrement caked on the back of my hand.

Pig-1 Ashley-0

The next 45 minutes or so were spent following dear piggy around the yard as she pranced, wagged her little tailed, ate dirt and made certain to stay just out of our reach. We chucked saltines at her in hopes of coaxing her towards the pen but she knew something was up. Pigs are intelligent assholes. Our last resort was to try and throw a towel over her and hope for the best. Again, Penelope bested us. Yep, I was done.

"Mom, you need to come get this pig because I'm pretty sure she'll still fit in my crockpot."


The fabric for Avery's skirt is Keepsake Calico's Multi-Mod Floral

Friday, February 1, 2013


It's been incredibly quiet around here this week. We had a few days of glorious weather, followed by rain that brought with it high winds and bitter cold. The warm, sunny days were enough to inspire me to dust off the fabric stash and start some spring sewing. Every year I am ambitious enough to announce that Avery's entire warm-weather wardrobe will be handmade (by me) and every year I fail miserably. Hopefully, sharing on the blog will be enough of a motivator to actually get it done.

Speaking of the blog, I have been thinking a lot about where I'm going with this little writing/sharing adventure. From the beginning, I knew that I didn't want it consuming me and I wanted it to be real. I wanted to share  my craft and cooking adventures because they are part of who I am. However, I'm already starting to feel like my personality is getting lost in the creation. Moving forward, I want to try harder to change that. Not because I think anyone cares but because I want this place to be a living memory that I can come back to for a long, long time.

Like memories of cake pop strawberries for a little girl's special day. 

And a wee dude's idea of fun at bath time.

Or a princess dancing while her brother plays piano. <3

Have a great weekend!