Graphic Art Freebies: Fall & Sewing Inspiration

This week we have another fall cover photo and a little sewing inspiration for the season.

Falling Leaves

 

Fall Toddler Pants

 

Falling Leaves Fiber Art

 

Falling Blessings Fiber Art

Diaper Sprayers

ClothDiaperSprayersYou know one of the biggest reasons I hear when people object to cloth diapers?  Poop.  They don’t want to touch poop.  I laugh at this as a veteran mama.  Even before I started using cloth diapers, I touched some baby poop in my days as a mother.  All mothers and fathers and caregivers will at some point whether we mean to or not.

People who don’t use cloth are often surprised when I mention that no, you don’t actually have to touch poop to cloth diaper.  I don’t touch poop anymore than a mom who uses disposable diapers does.  In fact, because cloth diapers tend to stop blow outs, I probably touch it even less.

The first time I encountered a diaper sprayer it was on a coworker’s baby registry.  A friend and I were looking over it and we were both like what?!?  You have to spray the poop?  Where do you spray it?  Where does it go?  Ewww, cloth diapers are gross!  Fast forward a few years and I was several months pregnant wedged between my bathtub and the toilet, installing my own diaper sprayer.  Funny how time and perspective can change you.

A diaper sprayer works by connecting to your toilet’s existing water supply.  It has a little handle to turn the water flow on and off.  You simply take the poopy diaper to the toilet and spray the contents off the diaper and into the toilet.  It’s really that easy.  If I can install it while heavily pregnant, I’m sure most people can do it easy peasy.

The great thing about a diaper sprayer is that it aids in getting your diapers as clean as you can.  By getting as much of the poop off as possible, the pre-rinse and washing of your diapers is made easier.  They’re also great for potty training because you can spray off soiled underwear or even your child’s bottom.  I use our’s to aid in cleaning my toilet and since it’s right beside the bathtub, it is also fabulous for spraying down the tub after a bath or shower.

If you’ve had a baby, you remember the peri bottles they give you to use after each restroom visit.  A diaper spray can do this same job and you don’t have to keep up with a bottle.  It is also really nice for mama cloth and cup users.  You can easily spray off pads before putting them in the bin to wash.  If you keep your cup cleaning solution close by, you can use the diaper sprayer to thoroughly wash and rinse your cup between changes.  It can also double as a handheld bidet for anyone to use.  It really is a multi-purpose tool in our house and has gotten far more use than I ever imagined it would.

We’ve used cloth diapers for over 2.5 years now and only a couple of months of that time was without my diaper sprayer.  A diaper sprayer has made our cloth diapering journey a very smooth one and is definitely the one cloth diaper ‘splurge’ I would recommend.  It just makes cloth diapering easy in my opinion.  Do you use a sprayer?

*This post contains some affiliate links.  The links all direct you to Kelly’s Closet, a cloth diapering and natural living company I support and love.  Their products are top-notch and their customer service is simply amazing.

Apple Cake

Apple Bundt CakeFall is a celebration for me.  The scents, the colors, the rich flavors.  They make my whole being come alive.

There are few fall recipes that will make your home smell as warm and welcoming as this one.  It just screams ‘old fashioned’ and delicious.  I’ve played with different variations of this cake for the last few years and have finally tweaked it to be my ultimate, go to fall cake recipe.  It was good in its original form, but now, it’s just scrumptious!

Ingredients

Apple Mix

  • 6 apples (Whatever variety or combination you like best.  I’ve used fuji, macintosh, golden delicious, etc)
  • 1tbsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp sugar

Batter

  • Apple Cake2 & 3/4c all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cider spice
  • 1/2c pumpkin puree
  • 1/2c applesauce
  • 1 & 1/2c sugar
  • 1/4c fruit juice (orange, cranberry, apple, etc will all work well)
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease a bundt pan and set aside.
  2. Peel, core, and chop the apples.  Toss with cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Set aside.
  3. Stir flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cider spice together in a large bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together pumpkin puree, applesauce, juice, sugar, and vanilla.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until well combined.
  6. Beat in eggs one at a time and continue to whisk until fully combined.
  7. Pour half the batter into the greased bundt pan then pour half the apples over the batter.
  8. Pour the remaining batter over the apples, top with the other half of apples.
  9. Bake for 90 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Cool and then transfer to a cake plate.  Enjoy as is or top with your favorite sugar glaze.

 

Sewing Tutorial: Felt Corn on the Cob, Mashed Potatoes, and Crinkle Carrots

Felt Steak SidesWelcome!  This is the second and final sewing tutorial in a two-part series where we will make a felt Steak Dinner set.  Play food is a great beginner’s sewing project and can be altered to make food as simple or as fancy as you’d like.

This tutorial will focus on creating the set with a sewing machine, but you could also hand sew the items.  If you don’t sew, you could use felt fabric glue to glue the pieces together.  When making felt foods please keep the age of the child you’re making the project for in mind.  Children who still put things in their mouth should never be given small objects as these would pose a choking hazard.

When making felt food you can use whatever type of felt you desire.  Craft felt is easy to work with, cheap and easily obtainable but it will not wear as well as wool felt.  Craft felt may get pilly over time, but you can wash it with warm soapy water and use a lint shaver to get rid of pills.  If the item doesn’t contain a pipe cleaner or glue, you could even run it through the washing machine.  Wool felt will wear better and last longer.  If you’re creating something that you’d like to pass down from child to child, wool felt is best.  If you plan to use wool felt, you may want to first practice on craft felt so you don’t waste money on the more expensive stuff.  I
typically use eco-fi felt which is made of recycled plastic bottles.

Let’s get started!  You will need the following to create your Felt Steak Sides:

  • Felt in yellow, white, and orange
  • Polyfil and a scrap of batting
  • Scissors and pinking shears
  • Monofilament thread or coordinating thread
  • Sewing machine AND hand sewing needle
  • The steak sides templates included in this detailed tutorial:  Felt Steak Sides Tutorial. Do not scale the file to fit, print as actual size.

Get the steak tutorial here.

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Tears In My Coffee Cup

There are tears in my coffee this morning.  I’m trying so damn hard to be strong, to be okay…  I’m mostly succeeding, but these early hours where sleep leaves me and refuses to return, they’re hard.  I’m the only one awake and I’m left with all the feelings I try to ignore the rest of the day.  It’s just me, a keyboard, some Avenged Sevenfold, and a coffee.

Funny thing is, ordinarily, all these those things would leave me blissfully happy with some time to write.  But when you go through a loss – a miscarriage in my case – you crave and detest alone time.  You don’t want to talk about it, but then you do.  You don’t want to feel it, but you have to verbalize it all to move past it.  I know all too well this process, yet it doesn’t get easier with experience.  Time doesn’t heal, but it does numb the pain a bit.

I can still remember the awful feelings I went through when we lost our baby way back in April of 2006.  I remember losing it one night when I was left alone for several hours and literally ripping the head off a teddy bear we had bought for the baby for whom my body became a tomb.  That loss – above all others I’ve experienced – was the hardest.  You see, that little baby’s heart was beating away just one day before my body failed him.  I was at the door of thirteen weeks – we were supposed to be safe.  I was so filled with rage and anger.  For months, and sometimes even now, there was nothing that soothed the raw pain that loss left me with.  It changed me permanently.

While my other losses have been no less significant, they have at least not been so physically traumatizing.  I’m older this time, eight years of distance has brought me more losses, two healthy children, and a bit of a better handle on my emotions.  I still feel sad, hurt, shocked, angry, and bitter.  Those are all normal reactions to the loss of a child at any stage.  I still get tired of people asking how I am, yet appreciating it at the same time.  I still hold most of my emotions in, with little outbursts when I feel as though I can’t hold it in anymore.  I cry in corners, behind closet doors as I prepare my children’s outfits for the day.  I won’t dare take down the list of baby names we were working on.  I’ll leave the positive pregnancy test on my sewing desk where they’ve sat the last couple of weeks.  Though most would feel it’s a reminder I shouldn’t be taunted by, it’s comforting to me.  Those things will be put away when I am ready, but not until.

Tears In My CoffeeMiscarriage and stillbirth are so often swept under a rug and I don’t agree with that.  I’m not going to apologize if my grief or open talk of my lost children makes you uncomfortable.  I am not sorry for acknowledging their existence and the pain that their loss has brought.  I want you to celebrate their little souls just as I do.  When I plant flowers this fall and spring, I’ll nourish the flowers and delight in growth because that life brings me hope.  The breeze, the raindrops, sand between my toes…  All these little pieces of nature are little tiny fingertips upon the earth that I see my lost babies in.

I often watch the light dancing in my two little boys’ eyes.  Oh that light!!  I cannot tell you how much it calms and replenishes the broken pieces of my heart.  I see so much in that light.  I know what a big, huge role their lost siblings played in bringing them into my arms safely.  They have been blessed with such health and happy spirits.  They bring so much laughter and love to all those who know them.  It is no coincidence that these two little beings are embodiments of pure happiness.  While they carry their own energetic spirits, they carry their siblings too.  So much life in such little bodies – it is a blessing to witness.

I have no idea what the future holds for myself or my family.  We may remain as four, I might not find the courage to face pregnancy again.  Even if I do, I know I am not guaranteed another child.  We may have another child brought into our lives by other means, the future isn’t entirely our’s to write.  What I do know is that I am allowing myself to feel all that life has given me.  I am not forgetting my lost babies anymore than I’ll ever forget my living babies.  I will celebrate the souls brought into my life, even if it was ever so briefly.

Even if you never experience a loss yourself (and I pray you don’t), don’t judge those who do.  Don’t tell us it happens for a reason – it isn’t comforting.  Don’t tell us it’s time we move on and let it all be.  Just listen to what we do and don’t say.  Don’t comment on our bloodshot eyes and sallow faces.   We already know how much our makeup isn’t hiding.  Just love us, even when we’re bitter and mean. Hug us even when our shoulders are stiff and our bodies cold and unmoved. Make us laugh.  We don’t want pity, we have enough of that on our own.  Treat us like a normal person, don’t try to shield us from all things baby or pregnancy.  Sometimes, we need a little hope and we’ll find it in the oddest of places.

Just accept that our babies brought us joy and that their loss brought us pain…  We’ll pull ourselves out of our pity and pain in our own time.  Until then, we just need support to grieve in our own way.

Dear Miscarriage…

 

I wrote this piece in the wee hours this morning before I had my doctor’s appointment. I was certain my ultrasound would show a deflated sac as I’ve seen in the past.  It did not.  My ultrasound showed a sac still in place in my uterus.  It is too early to tell if my baby will thrive or not, too early to see a heartbeat or fetal pole so we wait.  There are no indications of why the bleeding started or if it will continue or increase.  I’m scared…but, for now, I am hopeful.  I’m going to take it easy, enjoy a much-needed vacation, and monitor my bleeding.  I’ll head back in for another ultrasound in two weeks as long as the bleeding doesn’t increase, we have reason to hope for a healthy pregnancy.  Proof that there is hope, even from the vortex.

Losing A ChildYesterday, not five minutes after writing this…I started to spot.  As the day wore on, the spotting slowly changed from innocent pink to brown, to alarming red.   A signal that my bad feeling…was right.  I woke up with bleeding much like a period and cramps, but it has decreased significantly through the day and is back to a calmer more reassuring brown.  I cried because despite friends trying to give me hope, my heart was sure that my baby was gone.  You see, I’ve been here.  Here in this vortex that eats you, spits you out feeling bitter and alone.  I wanted no one around me, I just wanted to wallow in my self-pity and the pain that I know what’s it like to lose a life that was supposed to be protected and nourished inside me.  Despite two healthy children and being in the best shape of my life, it is possible that I still cannot sustain life…

I had a feeling this baby was a girl before I had a feeling that something went wrong.  Me – I’m all about feelings and intuitions.  I believe they guide us often and tell us what we need to know.  Perhaps I was never meant to be the mother of a girl.  Perhaps my family is full and blessed as it will ever be with two healthy little boys.  My boys are my light.  They broke me free from the vortex and gave me hope that life could change.  And it did.  My house is filled with toys, laughter, and so much of that light.

I could say that there is a lesson to be learned from losing a child – losing children.  Honestly though, there isn’t.  I appreciate and love my boys so much and know the value of pregnancy and life.  Yet, it doesn’t mean that someone who hasn’t experienced loss doesn’t know those things as well.  Perhaps the lesson is that life is fleeting.  Miscarriage is not a punishment, although it often makes you feel as though it is.  The lesson is that I am strong, but I still hurt.  I will brush off, get back up.  Yet I will likely not risk facing this again.  One day my heart will forget the pain of loss and I might decide that we need one more baby, but I think that ship may have sailed for us.  I won’t be greedy and beg for another.  I will have days where I am bitter and sad, and don’t want to be pulled from my vortex.  Just love me then, in spite of my actions.

I Don't BreakThis is a curveball I knew could come.  Another challenge to see how far I’ll bend before I break.  I don’t break.

Miscarriage, you suck.  You steal from mothers happiness and leave them with empty wombs, bleeding bodies.  You try your damnedest to make us feel like we are damaged, worthless.  We aren’t.  You try your best to make our husbands, mothers, aunts, and friends feel helpless.  They don’t know what to say to us, what to do.  We get angry for being treated different, but inside we appreciate the love, the hugs, the little messages to make sure that we’re okay.  You rip families apart with grief and the wreckage of the unknown.  There’s no handbook for loss.  There’s no guide to what we’ll feel, say, or do.

So, miscarriage, I face you and I’ll beat you again.  You may take the life the grew ever so briefly inside of me, but you won’t take me or my spirit.  In the coming days, I won’t mope and I won’t wallow. I may cry in corners and at night when everyone else is fast asleep, but I will not let you change me more than you already have.  I will enjoy the children you didn’t get a chance to steal.  I will relish in my family and friends.  I will be me…and that you can’t take.

If you come across this page because you have experienced loss yourself, my deepest sympathies are with you.  I have been there, many times.  There is hope for healthy babies, I have two.  Four losses, two babies, and the threat of a loss that I’m still waiting out.  I’ll leave you with the knowledge that life does move on and you do slowly start to feel better.  You will always miss your baby and you will always be saddened by their passing.  Take care of you, you are not damaged, you are not weak, and you did not cause this.  That cup of coffee, sex with your partner, exercise, those things don’t cause miscarriage.  It is okay to be angry, sad, even numb.  Acceptance won’t come overnight and tears will sneak up when you don’t expect them.  Be strong and know that you aren’t alone.  If you need help to grieve, please reach out and get help.  Don’t let the vortex swallow you – you don’t deserve that.  

Miscarriage Stole My Innocence

Miscarriage Stole My InnocenceEarly pregnancy is terrifying for me.  I always try to relax as my doctors, family, and friends suggest – but I am wracked with terror and terrified of what may happen.  My doctor’s office won’t do an ultrasound before the eight-week mark unless you are experiencing complications.  I am pretty in-tune with my body and normally find out about my pregnancies a few days before my missed period so I have at least a month of waiting for that ultrasound to tell me if there is – or isn’t – a heartbeat.

Multiple miscarriages before I had my two healthy boys has taught me that a positive pregnancy test doesn’t always lead to a baby.  There have been early losses, a loss at thirteen weeks, and a blighted ovum.  The first week or so of pregnancy, I generally sail by, not thinking about the bad.  I freak out about finances, insist we think about names, then reality sets in and I start remembering the times that pregnancy wasn’t smooth for me.  I dig through old fertility charts to see when bleeding started, if there were any other clues.  I go through my old Facebook posts to see how I was feeling in my healthy, and not healthy, pregnancies at the same mark.  I analyze it all until I am a total sobbing mess.  With no cause to be concerned other than my past experiences.

I’ll be six weeks on Thursday and haven’t had any indicators that something is wrong.  I have mild pregnancy symptoms, it’s all been pretty normal stuff thus far.  Despite no spotting and no cramps, I still check for spotting every single time I go to the restroom.  I think, “I’m not nauseous enough, something might be wrong.  Wasn’t I more nauseous yesterday?  Are my boobs still sore, surely they were more sore before.”  I drive my husband crazy with all my doubts, worries, and constant googling of statistics.  I sink myself into a depressed state and wish I hadn’t already shared our pregnancy with so many in case I have to ‘unshare’ the news.  I seriously just want to sleep until the day of my ultrasound because I am terrified.  I am praying for more nausea – who does that?!?  I just want reassurance of something even my doctors cannot give.  I have to be patient and trust that my body is doing what it is meant to do and my baby is growing as it should.

If you had told me that I would still feel this way, even after delivering two healthy babies, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.  I don’t know if I felt this panicked in the beginning with them, I’m sure I did.  I’m just angry that those past losses still continue to hurt me and affect me so much so many years later.  I want to be a normal pregnant woman who is just normally scared.  Who isn’t freaking out about another missed miscarriage or what if, God forbid, everything is fine for now, but I lose another one at thirteen weeks.  I don’t want all this panic and fear to affect me so profoundly…and yet it likely always will.

For now, I’m doing my best to distract myself.  I’m allowing myself to believe that my baby is truly healthy and that it is all going to go just fine.  I’m reassured by symptoms of early pregnancy and honestly welcome any morning sickness that comes my way.  I’m counting down the days until that magic ultrasound and begging God for it to bring us happiness and hope.

I will never know what it is like to face early pregnancy with all the excitement a first time mom or any mom without losses does.  But, I know what it’s like to have hope and prayers answered – more than once.  I know what it’s like to cry tears of sheer joy when a heartbeat flickers across the screen and then a few weeks later to be rewarded with early flutters.  I know what it’s like to give birth to a baby I prayed so hard for – one I was told may never come.  I know what it’s like to successfully conceive, carry, and deliver his brother without a hitch less than two years later. God willing, I pray that I learn what it is like to experience all this again – for a third time.

With prayers, and hope, I yearn to see my baby’s heart beat across the screen and to relive that happiness that breaks away from a dark place I thought might consume me.  I am scared, yet blessed.  I am hesitant, yet hopeful.  And I’m counting on a healthy baby to complete our little family.