Sewing Tutorial: Felt Pancakes

Felt Pancakes TutorialWelcome!  This is the third sewing tutorial in a series of four where we will make a felt breakfast 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 Eggs:

  • Tan felt for pancakes, brown felt for syrup, yellow felt for butter
  • A small bit of polyfil to stuff the pancakes
  • Scissors
  • Coordinating thread (monofilament thread is nice because it’s clear and will blend with any color)
  • Sewing machine or hand sewing needle
  • The pancake template and full illustrated tutorial:  Felt Pancakes Tutorial.

Be sure to come back next week as we complete our set with orange slices.  You can find the bacon set here and the eggs here.

We’d love for you to share your sets with us on Facebook or via email!

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Dating Your Spouse

Nurture Your MarriageI post a lot about keeping your marriage ‘alive’.  I think it’s important.  Between careers, children, and everything else that goes on in our lives I believe that you have to make time for your spouse no matter what.  Your marriage is the foundation for all else you do so you need to nurture and strengthen that foundation to build a solid life.

Some couples schedule a weekly date night.  If that’s something you can’t do, there are plenty of other ways to ‘date’ your spouse.  From ‘date-ins’ to everyday actions, there are ways to date your spouse and keep that new love feeling alive.  That’s not to say that your marriage won’t change and evolve overtime.  It’s not to say that you won’t fight or go through slumps, but if you work at it, you don’t have to let those things damage your relationship.

New relationships are full of excitement.  You aren’t yet comfortable enough with one another to share all your secrets or quirks.  There’s an electric vibe between the two of you that begs to be explored and you end up with the ‘ten day high’ that seems like it just won’t end.  No matter what we do, that feeling has to change at least a bit.  When you know all of someone’s secrets and quirks, perhaps part of the excitement wanes.  Continuing to talk and explore new interest helps to keeping the spark alive.  You don’t have to enjoy everything each other does, but listening to your partner talk about what is new and exciting in their life can help strengthen your bond.  Showing that you take an interest in each other’s hobbies, even if they aren’t your own, shows that you care.  Incorporate Love into EverydayTrying a new activity together is also important.  Whether it’s gardening, hiking, skydiving, dancing, or something as simple as collecting items you both love, finding a new common interest creates those first date feelings.  You’re both stepping outside of your comfort zone and you’re doing it together, just like you did in the beginning.

In order to keep your marriage alive and thriving you have to incorporate your love for one another into everyday life.  In the beginning, you likely held hands in the car, couldn’t pull away from each other for ‘just one more’ kiss goodnight.  You likely didn’t care who knew you were in love and weren’t very shy to show it.  As time goes on we can easily forget about those little things that made our relationships seem so special.  You might forget about holding hands, sometimes you skip the kiss goodnight, and love notes often cease.  Continuing to do whatever it was that made each other feel so special is a great way to keep those sparks and your love alive.  Don’t be nervous to reach across the car to hold hands, leave notes for your spouse to find when they get in the car to go to work.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, a simple “I love you” is a great reminder that you still care and you still feel as strongly as you did in the beginning.

Another important change to make sure that your marriage thrives is to not get so comfortable that you don’t try.  Build up your own confidence in yourself and it will shine through to others.  It is easy to use your spouse as a punching bag.  Life’s challenges can be heavy and weigh us down at times.  We tend to take our frustrations out on those we love the most, but we shouldn’t.  Anytime I sit down to write about marriage, I try to share that message.  It’s a hard one and it can start gradually so that we don’t even know we’re doing it.  Remember Why You're In LoveNagging and bickering is NOT the way to discuss problems or vent frustrations.  It doesn’t make you feel better and it starts arguments that should have never happened.  Instead, tell your spouse what is wrong, address it, and move on.  Think of your spouse as your partner to make it through the hard times, not the enemy.  You likely wouldn’t have snapped at your partner in the beginning, don’t do it now.

Reminding each other why you fell in love can go far in a marriage.  If he always made you laugh, or the way her nose wrinkles when she smiles drove you crazy, don’t forget it.  Remind each other why you’re in love and add to that list as the years tick by.  Don’t let the words grow old.  Wrap yourself in all those little things that make up your love and nurture them.

Strong marriages take work, but it doesn’t all have to be hard work.  Much of the work of marriage is a fun and enjoyable experience.  You can start small and slowly build up so that you still get the butterflies and the deep red flush that came with the early days of dating.  Life changes when you transition from dating to marriage, but it can most certainly be for the better.

Graphic Art Freebies: Nature

This week’s freebies focus on nature.  I am never more at peace than when surrounded by nature’s beauty and grace.

Turn Dreams Into Reality

True Beauty is Found in Nature

Solitude in Nature

Night Diapers

Night DiaperingMany parents who cloth diaper choose to use disposables at night.  Night diapering in cloth can seem scary at first, but once you find the right diaper for your child, you’ll much prefer using cloth full-time.

Absorbency 
One of the biggest reasons that parents forgo cloth at night is absorbency.  Some children are heavy wetters, especially at night when they may be in a diaper for up to 12 hours.  I’m a mom to two heavy wetters.  Even during the day when they are being changed every two hours, we can never get by with just one insert.  I have also never been able to use any AIO without a doubler.  Yet I have managed to successfully use cloth at night, even after my babies turned into toddlers, and a preschooler who isn’t night potty trained.

I have two words that will make night diapering easier – hemp and bamboo.  These two fabrics are like super absorbers in my opinion.  Microfiber AIO leaking?  Add a hemp or bamboo doubler.  Microfiber night diaper leaking?  Switch to hemp or bamboo!  Sloomb makes some of the most popular night-time options out there.  Their overnight bamboo fleece fitteds offer super soft organic bamboo fleece and all natural cotton fleece for maximum leak protection.  There are several other natural options on the market that offer hemp or bamboo as well.  Or, you could do what I did and make your own hemp fleece fitteds WITH a stay dry liner.

Fleece & Wool
Since many of the best night options(most absorbent) are fitted diapers, they require a cover.  While PUL covers can work for many, some babies and toddlers need something a little more breathable at night.  This is where fleece and wool diaper covers come to the rescue.  We solely used fleece diaper covers for well over a year into our cloth diapering journey.  We used fitteds full-time then so that’s saying a lot.  You can see some of the patterns I’ve used to make our fleece covers, shorties, and longies in this post.  I promise they are really easy to make.

If you prefer to buy fleece and wool covers instead of sewing them, I have to mention Sloomb again.  These guys really have their night diapering down.  Sloomb offers covers, shorties, and longies all designed to keep your baby’s bottom covered and dry.

Fleece and wool offer water-repellent properties  and work by wicking moisture away from your baby’s bottom/diaper.  You may notice a cool feeling around the diaper area where the moisture has evaporated in the morning.  Fleece and wool are more prone to compression leaks than PUL or TPU, but this usually isn’t as big of a concern at night as it would be during the day.

In 2.5 years of night cloth diapering, I have only woken up to find one of my children soaked through a handful of times.  More than one of those occasions was because a sleepy parent didn’t have the diaper fully covered or properly fastened.

Ammonia Odor
Ahhh, probably the second biggest deterrent to night cloth diapering.  The dreaded ammonia smell.  It happens to many of us.  It’s happened to me.  Pee stinks.  Pee that sits in a diaper overnight really stinks.  The bigger your baby gets, the more it stinks.  It is NORMAL for your night diapers to stink when you take them off your baby.  What isn’t normal is an ammonia odor so strong it burns your nose or even permeates the whole room.  How do you keep your night diapers from getting ammonia buildup?

First, no matter what type of diaper or material you use at night, rinse those babies THOROUGHLY in the morning.  Maybe even fill the sink or a bucket and let them soak in plain water for a couple of hours before you throw them into your diaper pail.  Rinsing them out and getting as much of the pee out of the diaper as possible can go a long way in preventing ammonia buildup.  Another helpful factor is to have several night diapers.  The more you have, the more in rotation they are.  If you are using the same two night diapers over and over and over, they’re taking a lot of abuse.  If you rotate several, they’re not exposed to as much urine so they’re not as likely to get ammonia buildup.

I’ve found that microfiber gets far stinkier and is much more prone to ammonia buildup than natural fibers.  Switching to natural fiber inserts can play a big part in keeping ammonia woes at bay.  Hemp, bamboo, and cotton can be big night diaper savior’s in this area too.

While we’re talking about materials and their stink factor, I find that hemp can get a little stinkier than bamboo and cotton.

If you’re using fitteds for night-time use, those with petal style inserts do better than those with all the absorbency sewn in when it comes to getting clean and keeping ammonia at bay.

Sweet SleeperFitteds get stinky faster than flat diapers.  If you can get by with using flat diapers at night, I would highly recommend it.  Because flats are one layer that is folded, they are easily unfolded and cleaned in the washer.  There are no layers for ammonia to get trapped in.  Plain birdseye cotton flats are my favorite.  They’re just so easy to wash.  While one flat likely won’t get your child through the night, I have successfully used two flats with a thin hemp or bamboo doubler inside a flip with NO LEAKS.  That’s right, not even wool or fleece, just plain ol’ PUL.  Was it a bit bulky, yes, but most night diapers are.

One of the best parts about using cloth at night is watching my babies run around with their big fluffy butts before bed.  Night diapers can sometimes be bulky, but it really makes for adorable little cloth bottoms.

Have you made the switch to night-time cloth yet?  Give it a try, I’m sure you’ll love it.

Have a friend or family member who could use some night diapering help?  Share this article with them.

*This post contains some affiliate links.*

Sewing Tutorial: Felt Eggs

DSCN5273Welcome!  This is the second sewing tutorial in a series of four where we will make a felt breakfast 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 Eggs:

  • White felt for the eggs and yellow felt for the yolks
  • A small bit of polyfil to stuff the yolks
  • Scissors
  • Coordinating thread (monofilament thread is nice because it’s clear and will blend with any color)
  • Sewing machine or hand sewing needle
  • The egg and yolk template included in the PDF.  Do not scale the file to fit, print as actual size.
  • The tutorial.  Print the tutorial actual size, do not scale or fit to page:  Felt Eggs Tutorial.

To make the full set, follow along with us this month as we’ll do a new piece each week.  The bacon tutorial can be found here.  And the pancakes here.

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Making Time For Exercise

Worth Fighting ForAbout three months ago I embarked on a journey to be a healthier version of myself.  My first goal was to kick soda for good and to exercise daily.  I’ve managed to reach both of those goals and lose 23lb.  My BMI is now at a healthy range and I feel better.  More energy, almost no headache days when in the past I was living with them almost daily.  It feels amazing.  I don’t have the same body I did before kids, but I have a healthier body and more confidence.  Those are the important things.

There have been two days I skipped exercise in these three months.  One was on vacation and one was just the other day because I was busy.  I had already well passed my exercise goal for the week, but missing that one day left me feeling more tired than normal.  Granted, I had been active the entire week and that day, but I missed my little endorphin rush.  So how do you make time for exercise when your schedule is busy?

The easiest way to find time in your day for fitness is to start small and do it every day so that you have incorporated it into your daily lifestyle.  Make sure it becomes a habit – soon enough it’s not something you have to make time for as it’s just part of your routine.

When you’re getting started think about the things you do in a day.  If you’re spending a couple of hours vegging out on the couch at night, could you sacrifice just half an hour to do a quick cardio or strength training routine?    You could do sit-ups, lift weights, or even dance while watching TV.  If you have children take them outdoors and play tag.  Engage with them, teach them a new sport.  Children aren’t picky, they’d be happy with a game of chase and they are sure to keep you busy and on your feet if you let them.  If you can, go to bed a little early so you can get up earlier and squeeze in a workout.  I know, I know.  It doesn’t sound fun to get up earlier and then exercise.  But exercise will boost your energy and wake you up.  You’ll feel better all day and that is worth waking up for.

When I started my journey, exercise was the thing I hated most.  Eating healthier was hard at first too, but that I could handle and it all became easier over time.  I’ve never really like sports and just thought I was ‘bad’ at being active.  I was wrong.  I just needed to give it time and find something I liked to do.  The good thing about exercise is there are a plethora of options.  Don’t like running?  That’s fine!  There are plenty of exercises that don’t include running.  Kick-boxing, dancing, weight training, yoga, pilates, trampoline, bicycling…  There is an endless list to choose from.  I’m not a gym person.  I’m shy and an introvert.  I don’t always enjoy going out and often prefer to stay home.  Workout videos are perfect for me because I have guidance on what to do when I want to mix up my workout, but I get to do it in the privacy of my home.  I don’t feel embarrassed if I mess up a routine.  I get to try all these fun new activities that I ordinarily wouldn’t do.

You can really find any excuse you want NOT to exercise.  What works better is finding a reason to.  I do it for myself.  All day long I take care of two little people.  I often feel like I’m the behind the scenes person in our family.  I do a lot of little things that people don’t really notice – unless I stop doing them.  Laundry, food, budgets, cleaning…it’s all pretty thankless stuff.  In the past I may have viewed fitness the same way.  Why work so hard at something if my body doesn’t ‘morph’ instantly into the shape I want?  I know why now.  It really isn’t about what my body looks like to others.  It’s about how I feel about myself.

Getting fit is about having energy to chase my kids or the ability to climb the rope swing and monkey bars with them.  It’s about being fit enough to enjoy a game of kick ball and healthy enough to one day do the same with grandchildren.  Once my kids are grown I don’t want to sit at home.  I want to enjoy the alone time my husband and I put aside to raise a family.  I want to be able to travel again not letting anything hold me back.  My husband and I started our relationship as just the two of us and I’d like to still be able to go on those little adventures together when we’re older.  We were never the type content to stay in one place for too long.  It is a big, big world and both of us are eager to explore much of it.

My journey started because I didn’t like the me I saw in pictures.  I didn’t like that clothes didn’t look good on me and I didn’t feel comfortable in my skin.  I feel comfortable now and it has as much to do with a change in attitude as it does a change in body.  I don’t pick apart my waist line, hips, or stretch marks as much as I used to.  I don’t always have to wear makeup to go out and still feel pretty.  I feel happy, full of life.  I’m not letting food or anything else tell me how to live or feel.  Eating healthy and exercising has taught me that I have control in my life…and that is something worth working hard for.

Graphic Art Freebies: Family

This week we have three graphic art freebies centered around family.  Download them, make them cover photos, frame them as wall hangings, or use them as little gift tags.  Just have fun with it :)

 

Career Mom

 

We Do Family

 

Aunt