Saturday, September 20, 2014

Maternity Photo Adventure

Last weekend our long-time friends came to visit and take some maternity photos for us. This is kind of a side, hobby thing for him, at which he obviously excels. We started at our house and took some photos in front of our west-facing window. I LOVE the way they turned out:

Then we headed over to Sand Key State Park in Clearwater for some beach photos. We chose this location based on an informal Facebook survey (status update question) on what the best beach for sunset photos is in Clearwater. 

Traffic was horrible, but that's just Tampa. 

We skipped dinner to race against the sun and arrived a little after 7 PM, right when the sun was setting. There were multiple wedding parties taking photos and several tourists enjoying the beach, so we booked it down the beach to a more secluded area. 

Then Mike got these shots: 

About ten to fifteen minutes after we started, a HUGE black cloud rolled in from the shore. We tried to get some shots using the very little remaining sunlight, but the rain started to fall. 

We could see the haze of a downpour down the beach, so we started running back to the pavillion where we parked. 

Everyone else had already vacated the beach, and we got majorly caught in the deluge. There we were running to the bathroom pavillion: Mandi pushing her kids in a double stroller through the sand, Mike with his camera bag under his shirt, Zane carrying Daisy, and me, the large, preggo woman with a beach bag and a saggy maxi skirt bringing up the rear. 

What a sight!

We just laughed and shrugged. It was a shame to cut the session short, but Mike got some amazing shots in the short time we had. Daisy and Brynn played in the rain, while the rest of us waited under an overhang for the worst of it to pass. Then we changed clothes as best we could and ate a late dinner at Chick Fila. 

It really was a crazy, fun adventure. Luckily, the kids stayed happy until 10pm (a miracle!), and we got some good, quality time with friends. My only regret is that we didn't get a photo of the whole group. 

Thanks, Mike, for the awesome photos!

ALL photo credit goes to Mike Armand. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

DIY Cloth Storage Box

Last Christmas I made a play kitchen for Daisy, and throughout the year, she has accumulated lots of kitchen accessories to the point where cleaning up is difficult, because the toys just fall out of the shelves. 

See before: 

I searched many home good stores for 12''x12'' bins or baskets that would fit in the kitchen to put the toys in, but I was not happy with the prices I found, especially when some of them could easily be made if I just had the materials. 

For example, I found one made of super-stiff felt sewn together with a zig zag stitch. I tried to locate super-stiff felt, but didn't have much luck. 

We had a large cardboard box that we were going to take to the dumpster, and I thought, "Hey, I'll make my own boxes!" It took quite a while over several days, so I'm not even sure that the savings was worth the work, but if you want to undergo this project, here's how I did it. 

1. Determine the size of your boxes and cut your cardboard edges. I needed two 12x12x10'' boxes, so I cut eight 12''x10'' rectangles out of the cardboard and two 12''x12'' squares. This was by FAR the most tedious part of the whole process, because I couldn't find our box cutter. I used scissors. Ugh. 

Plus, I'm nine months pregnant on the floor cutting cardboard with an antsy toddler. Not fun. 

2. Make cloth sleeves for each piece of cardboard. I'm estimating that you'd need about 2-3 yards of fabric for this, but I used this old shower curtain that was missing a chunk from a different project years ago. It wasn't quite enough fabric, so I used two 12''x12'' panels of denim for the bases of the boxes. 

Basically, cut out DOUBLE the amount of fabric that you did cardboard, because each cardboard piece has to have two pieces of fabric to make the sleeve. Add 1'' around the edges for seams. So for me, I cut 16 panels of 13''x11'' and 4 panels of 13''x13''. 

Also, cut four handles. Since I was using a shower curtain, I just cut the hem off, and I don't even remember how long I made them. I'm guessing 8'' each. 

3. Sew the panels, which will also be the sides of the box. I sewed around the tops and sides of each panel, and only about 1/2'' around the corner of each bottom. On two panels per box, pin your handles in the top before you sew (pinning the handles into the right sides which are facing each other). 

4. Turn your panels right side out and press with a hot iron. I used to hate pressing my projects between sewing stages, but it makes things much easier down the road, plus you get a much cleaner look. At this point, iron in the bottom open part of the panel as you would like it to look, turning in the unfinished edges. This aids the hand-sewing part that comes at the end. 

5. Sew the four panels' sides together with top stitching along the outer edge. The edges will look clean from being pressed, so having the seams exposed gives the box a crisp look. Make sure you alternate a handled panel with a non-handled panel. Also, make sure all your openings are at the bottom. 

6. Pick open the 1/2'' that you sewed on either edge of the bottom panels with a seam ripper, then stuff each panel with it's respective cardboard piece. I had to trim a couple of the cardboard pieces down, but most of them slid right in. Then flip the box upside down, so you can add the base. 

7. Slip the base cardboard into the base panel. Set the base piece on the respective side of the box and hand sew it on. This was another kind of tedious part, but once you get in the groove, it goes pretty fast. It only took about 20-30 minutes per box, and I did them on different nights. Make sure you cover the cardboard completely, and grab all four pieces of fabric in each stitch. This is especially important when you sew the side that has the base panel opening and the side panel opening. 

8. Now you have a storage box! You could stop here, but I added fabric glue to the corners, inside and outside, with a q-tip to give extra security to the corner stitches. 

That's it! It took me several hours over the course of several days, which is why I'm not sure that it's worth the work, unless you want custom sizes. Although, I found pride in just doing it myself and using materials that were completely free to me. 

Daisy can easily pull the boxes out and dump the contents all over the floor. Because of the boxes, she can easily clean it up too (even if it takes her triple the amount of time). No more fussing because the toys keep falling out of the kitchen when she's trying to clean up! 

Good luck! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Amy's Love Birds and the Girls' Room

A few weeks ago, Zane and I rearranged Daisy's room to prepare for our new addition. We got a toddler bed for Daisy and converted the crib back to newborn height. Right now the room is split with a bed on either side, so each girl has her own wall decorations.

I put Amy's letters above the crib, but her name is so small, that it just didn't seem like enough. I tried using some existing artwork we had, but it just wasn't right, so I thought up a new project just for her that required no spending, because I had all the materials on hand.

Love birds!

I took apart my upcycled puzzle box wall decor, which I blogged about here. There's not a place for it in our new apartment, and they've just been collecting dust. 

I cut the new fabric using the old fabric as a pattern. 

Then I sketched a bird on a scrap of cardstock. I eyeballed the size that I wanted based on the creases on the old fabric. 

Daisy helped. Mainly she drew on other scraps of cardstock while I worked.

The rest of the steps are undocumented, because I got into the groove and didn't take pictures. Basically, I cut out the cardstock drawing for my pattern to create two identical, but opposite-facing applique birds. I appliqued wings on them, then appliqued the birds to the middle of my pink damask fabric. Then I added the little bows on each one. General applique instructions can be found in my birthday onesie post

Then I covered the puzzle boxes with the fabric and used hot glue to adhere it. Those steps can be found in my prevous post about upcycling puzzle boxes. 

That was basically it. I hung them on the wall on either side of Amy's name. This photo of her name isn't that great, but I have a thermal curtain on the window, so the natural light is limited.

And here's Daisy's side of the room with her mermaid bed. 

Almost ready for Amy to come! I still have one big project to do, which is adding another clothes hanging shelf in the closet for double the clothes. That requires some major re-organizing of stuff around the apartment. Nothing we can't do, though. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Zephyr Park Family Day

Zane's last week of vacation was this week, so in between laying around and being productive, we took a family day to Zephyr Park in Zephyrhills.

First we did the splash pad, which is a super duper splash pad. I didn't get a picture of the whole thing this time, but I have one from last time we went: 

Zephyr Park Splash Pad at 5pm in May

When we went yesterday around 11:00am, there was only one other family, so we basically had it all to ourselves. I sat on a bench for about 10 minutes, and was SO HOT that I decided to put my bathing suit on and get in too. 

It's serioulsy like a free Wet-n-Wild for kids. Daisy, Zane and I had fun playing in the water. Then a bunch of older kids came (not sure why they weren't in school). One of them pointed to my belly and asked what it was. I laughed and said, "A baby! I'm having a baby!" Then she sprayed my ear with one of the water cannons, and I decided I didn't like those kids anymore. 

After the splash pad, we did the swings for a little bit. Then we found a nice, shady spot near the lake and had a picnic lunch. 

August is NOT the best month for picnic lunches, but it wasn't too bad. Daisy apparently has an intense fear of bugs, so we were constantly saving her from tiny ants and gnats. She stopped enjoying the swings because an ant found its way to her foot while she was swinging. The rest of the day, she kept worrying about every speck in the house that it was a bug. 

Overall, we had a great morning out! I look forward to these kind of outings during school hours when Zane's a nurse too, because that's one of the perks of a nursing schedule. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Vacation with Family

Zane has several weeks off of school between semesters right now, so we were able to relax and enjoy quality time with friends and family on an extended trip to Orlando.

photo by Mike Armand

First came wedding weekend! My college friend of 10 years got married, and I was her maid of honor. It was so fun to help plan with her during the months before and celebrate with her and her husband during their wedding festivities. Her wedding was one of the most enjoyable and beautiful weddings I have ever attended.

Minutes before walking down the aisle!

The next weekend was baby shower weekend! We celebrated my sister and her upcoming addition. I posted a little about getting ready for her shower by making a nursing cover for her. I also made some verse cards for baby Adelaide that we used during the shower to pray over her and her parents. I plan to make some for my next baby, so maybe I'll write a little post about it, because it's a really great tradition and helps get your heart and mind thinking about the new baby as a real person.

The last weekend we were in Orlando we had a family birthday party for my grandma who turned 84! All the family who lives in the Southeast were present. It was fun to hang out with family who we hadn't seen in a while, and it was especially fun to watch the toddlers playing together.

By the end of this year there will be three more additions, because my sister, cousin, and I are all expecting.

Between all these big events, we had fun hanging out around the house and around Orlando. We watched movies, hung out at different splash pads, went to the beach, and other fun things.

Playing in the kiddie pool and sprinklers.
Making home-made laundry detergent from this recipe: Homemade Laundry Detergent
Casselberry splash pad fun!
Lunch with high school friends!
Painting nails. 

I even read a book! I read The Princess of the Silver Wood, which I would highly recommend. It was my favorite of the three in the trilogy. I wrote about the first two books of the series here: Princess Books by Jessica Day George.

We had a great time, but it's also great to be home.