Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sadie's Gingham Top

I finished this top for Sadie yesterday too. Made from a navy blue, cotton blend, gingham fabric from the clearance section at Joann's. The pattern is Simplicity 4206. The shirt pieces seemed ridiculously short, so I added 2 inches to the length. Once hemmed up, the shirt still seems a bit short. It is wearable, for sure, but in the future I'll add 3-1/2 inches, I think.

I want to work on some capris & bermunda shorts for this girl next. I'll probably use this same pattern (Simplicity 4206) for a few pairs. Do you guys have any other pattern suggestions? I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Smocked Sundress

The past couple nights I've been sewing some clothes for Sadie. Again, ignoring my housework & working on building up her spring/summer wardrobe. I was excited about making this smocked sundress from the Weekend Sewing book by Heather Ross & figured that I'd better get on it before my excitement for the project got pushed to the side. I triple heart that book by the way.

This fabric choice in not traditionally me, but I was envisioning this dress when I purchased it & I think it came out looking really great. The elastic thread is incredible! I love it. The dress came together really quickly. I'm sure I'll be making a few more of these before the summer hits.

Sadie was too excited about it & even though we're having a bit of a chilly day, she wanted to wear her new dress to school. So, leggings below & cardigan up top & off she went.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Dryer Ball Experiment

We have a really old washing machine & dryer. Needless to say, my dryer is not very efficient. It takes 70 minutes to dry a load of laundry. When I saw these dryer balls on sale at Aldi last week, I was intrigued. They are supposed to eliminate your use of fabric softener or dryer sheets, saving you money & saving the environment from the dryer sheets & liquid softener packaging being thrown out. This sounded great to me, but the claim that they would reduce your drying time by 25% is what sold me. Now, I purchased my set of dryer balls for only $6.99 at Aldi. I figured that $6.99 is not much to spend in hopes of lowering our energy consumption & therefore lowering our utility bills.

I've used Nellie's Dryer Balls on my last round of laundry & let me tell you what I think about them. They do a great job of softening the clothes without a dryer sheet. One exception I had though was my towels. I wasn't pleased with how my towels came out. They actually felt a bit rough. In the future I will throw a dryer sheet as well as the dryer balls in with my load of towels. But they did a great job with our clothing & I 'm excited to reduce the amount of fabric softener we need to buy & dispose of.

As far as the drying time goes, they do actually work! I found that I was able to reduce my drying time by 10 minutes on big, heavy loads like jeans & by 15-20 minutes on lighter loads, like cottons. I'm so excited about this!! I love that cutting my consumption not only helps preserve the environment, but it saves me money.

I would definitely recommend these dryer balls. Especially if you have an Aldi nearby & can snag them for $6.99. After looking at dryer balls on Amazon, it seems like the Nellie's brand has a better rating than some of the others. Have you tried dryer balls? Tell us what you thought. :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Colorful Birthday Party

We celebrated Claire's birthday this weekend with a party. A few of her cute little friends from her church nursery class came to help make it special. I decided to go with a colorful theme & made homemade play dough for all the guests to take home.

Pizza & grapes for lunch with cupcakes & ice cream for dessert.

I sewed up quick little fabric bags & just tied them with strips of fabric in a contrasting color.

Inside the goody bags were the play dough, colorful gummy bears & a mardi gras bead necklace.

We made streamer bracelets with crepe paper & plastic bracelets. The kids were interested in these for about 2 minutes. They did a quick little parade through the house. Claire liked hers the best & wore it on her arm all the way up under her armpit, w/ her new fairy wings on, & ran around letting the wind blow her streamers back.

And colorful balloons all over the place. For running & throwing & getting in the way once all the guests arrived. :)

It's easy for me to get really stressed out when planning a kids birthday party and I wanted this one to be really laid back w/ no fuss. It was fun & Claire couldn't have been any happier. I'll call it a success.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Salad Nights

I'm thinking about planning a salad night for dinner once a week. I always have romaine hearts & cucumbers on hand in the fridge. It'd be an easy dinner night that uses up all the leftover vegetables & whatnot that we have on hand. On the occasion pictured above, we had mushrooms, red onion, and hard boiled egg left over from previous meals. I added in some grape tomatoes & chopped walnuts too. Leftover meat from tacos was heated up & added as well. It was good. That's it! I'm making it official. Salad night once a week for the Todd family!

I'd love to hear what your favorite salad toppers are. Craisins & feta cheese are my all time favorites. Mandarin oranges are pretty good too. While you're at it, let me know what your favorite low fat salad dressing are, as well. Our family has become quite fond of poppyseed dressing. Thanks!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Claire!

When we went to the hospital to have Sadie & found out that she was breech & that I'd need to have a c-section, that was by far the scariest day of my life up until that point. Nothing could top it, but Dylan & I felt so much closer after coming through that experience together. Little did we know that the delivery of Claire a few years later would completely blow our original "most scary day ever" out of the water. There are many things I can't remember too well, thanks to morphine, but I do remember those few moments of panic from the time we left the delivery room & headed to the operating room. I was in tears. Finally I heard that baby girl cry. She was fine as could be, weighing 7 lbs. 12 0z., smaller than her sister had been, and I knew that dainty name we had been feeling we'd use, would fit her after all.

I often think of that scary day....actually scary day & night as we then had to worry about my condition post-surgery, but that's another story for another time. I think about the way this little one came into the world & how much easier everything has been since that day. She is a joy. And I am thankful for her & how wonderfully she fits into our family. My favorite moments really are when we are all giggling at something cute she's done. We simply adore her. I just cannot resist her soft milky white skin & hair & those deep brown eyes.

A few things about you right now, Claire:

* You are such a good sleeper. I think it's so adorable that you just roll over in your bed & go to sleep.
* You are still a good eater & use your fork really well. You're not that big into milk.
* You play dress up every day.
* You love to go to church.
* You love to watch the birds.
* You make crazy eyes sometimes.
* You love to dance to music & quite often I can sing you a song to cheer you up.
* You are quite the little talker. Lately we like to hear you say "post office" & "delicious"
* When I ask you if you want something to eat, you say "yes" & then "tummy" while rubbing your belly.
* You are starting to count & say some letters in the alphabet. I think that you are starting to memorize the order.
* You LOVE candy. You go nuts when you want some & you keep saying "more" after each piece.
* You say "um hum....yeah"
* You are very possessive of Daddy from the time he gets home from work until bed time.
* You want to do everything that Sadie is doing.

A lot changes in a year, doesn't it? Happy Birthday, Claire. We love you!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

I love earth day. It makes my earth loving heart happy. Every year it gets better & every year I am happy with my progress in becoming more "green".

A few years ago we decided to stop using paper towels in our home. I'm happy to say that for the last 2 years we have not bought any paper towels. It took a little getting used to at first. I found it hardest when I needed to clean mirrors or windows. I was just so used to using paper towels for those jobs. Now I use a dry rag for cleaning mirrors & the tv. We keep dish towels in the kitchen for drying our hands & cleaning up spills. However, we are still using paper napkins & I think it's about time we switch over to cloth napkins.

For earth day last year, I decided to purchase some reusable shopping bags & get better at using those instead of plastic. Again, it took some getting used to. Mostly just remembering to bring them with me to the store. It's become a habit now & I actually like the reusable bags so much more. The structure of the store's reusable bags allows for the food to get packed in them so much better than the plastic. I've already gone to Walgreens today for a free bag, you should too!

I've also been working for a few years on trying to eat less meat. For the environment, for our health & because the Word of Wisdom says so. We gotta get off the meat, people. If you have any good, meatless, family friendly recipes, please do share.

And a bit of good news, Starting next month my city is implementing mandatory recycling. I'm so excited about it. All residents of my city are required to recycle. How cool is that?! The city realizes that it will save them money on garbage collection if everybody is recycling & they are claiming that fines will be issued to households that are not separating recyclables from their trash. I love it! Such great progress. Have I mentioned that I live in a cool city? Well, I do.

So....that was a lot to read, I know. In summary. This year I will:
* Stop buying paper napkins & make cloth ones
* Eat less meat
* I think I'll make my own swiffer dusters as well & wash them between uses.

Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sparkle Power Discount Code!!

Still wondering what to give your mom, mother-in-law, grandmother, sister, best friend for Mother's Day? I'll make it easier for you. How about a La La Love You print? Whether framed in something new or vintage, it makes a great & lovely gift. I'll make it even easier for you...enter the code HOT MOMMA in the "notes to seller" & I'll refund you 15%! That goes for everything in the store. The discount code is valid until May 1st.

And remember, save 10% on Just Be Jewelry through May 1st with the code SPARKLE POWER. Let's make our mommas happy this year. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Vintage Pillowcase Skirt

I had a busy weekend. One where I felt like I was doing a lot of work, but getting nothing done. Come Sunday night I wanted to sew really bad. I have a lot of things on my "to make" list that I really want to get to, like, right now. The dishes are piled up by the sink & need to be washed. We are out of sippy cups & small spoons. I made the decision last night to leave them there & sew something with this pretty embroidered vintage pillowcase that I found on my last trip to the thrift store.

So a skirt it became for little Miss Sadie. The pillowcase fabric is pretty thin, so I put a layer of aqua blue striped seersucker underneath. It's pretty & sweet & girly & I love it.

Sometimes, when I am feeling overwhelmed, putting it all aside & allowing for some making time is all I need. Sure my chores are all still there, but I've accomplished something. I've made something tangible & often times something very useful. I can go to bed feeling proud of myself & it's just the boost I need so that I can get up in the morning & actually feel like doing all those household chores.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a mountain of dishes to wash. :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Recipe For Leftover Ham

Here's a really good, super easy recipe to use up some of that Easter ham. Just a quick note: I like to dice up my leftover ham & freeze it that way, so that it's easy to just thaw & throw into casseroles & salads.

Alfredo Ham Casserole

diced ham
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
broccoli florets, chopped
mushrooms, sliced
1 jar alfredo sauce
mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 pkg. egg noodles

Bring a pot of water to boil & cook egg noodles according to package directions. Saute the ham, onion, garlic, broccoli & mushrooms in a skillet until all the veggies are soft. Mix in the alfredo sauce. Once the noodles have cooked through, combine the ham mixture & the noodles & put in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil & bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese & bake uncovered 5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.

My family really likes this casserole. Sorry for the poor ingredient measurements. It doesn't have to be exact, I just throw in what I have or as much as I think works. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Embroidery Thread Jackpot

Did I ever tell you about the bankers box that I bought at a garage sale for $1.00? I bought it because it had a bunch of doilies that I could see on top. When I got the box home I also found a bunch of cool knitting needles, spools of gutermann sewing thread & these three storage boxes filled with embroidery thread all organized by color. Awesome, right?

I finally used some of this thread on those little bunnies. I'm thinking that I need to get more into embroidery, because these colorful cards of thread are just calling my name. They also remind me of my mom's thread boxes back when she cross stitched. And I always like when things remind me of my family. Like chocolate chip cookies make me think of my Dad & tamales always make me think of my Grandma. :)

Also, I love buying things second hand & thrift stores & garage sales. All this awesome stuff for a buck! What's better than that?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just Be Jewelry Discount Code!!!

I was so excited to find a surprise package in my mailbox a few days ago. I love mail & it's even better when it's happy mail from a super sweet sister. So, my sister Amber, co-owner of Just Be Jewelry sent me these cute as can be bottle cap pendants for the girls & I. I haven't seen one of these in person yet & I love them. The bottle cap is a really nice size, just a little over 1" in diameter & the chain is nice & long. The girls love them too. It's a fight to get Claire's off of her at bedtime & Sadie just thinks that she is so cool wearing hers.

Mother's Day is just around the corner & Just Be Jewelry is the perfect place to get a gift for all the women in your life. I am particularly fond of these fabric inspired bottlecap pendants:

This pretty charm bracelet would make the perfect Mother's Day gift with kids names stamped on the tags & just think how much a grandma would adore a gift like this with all the names of her grandchildren.

Then there's always the Family Circle Necklace, Scrabble Pendants & Magnets. So many possibilities. Just Be Jewelry is offering Sparkle Power readers a 10% discount on all purchases made by May 1st!! Just mention Sparkle Power in the notes to seller on etsy, or when you contact Amber & Jen for your custom piece.

They have way more than just what's in the etsy shop, so be sure to look through the Just Be Blog as well. They love to create custom pieces, so don't be afraid to contact them. :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Reflections

We were able to take part in an egg hunt with friends this weekend. At first I thought, "Boy, my girls don't really get it. Don't they know they have to hurry & get as many eggs as they can? If they don't hurry then all the eggs are going to be gone." Later I thought about it & realized that they DID get it. They were happy. They were enjoying themselves. They weren't running around saying, "mine! gimme! more, more more!!" They were totally enjoying the moment.

I recently checked out Amanda Blake Soule's book The Creative Family from the library. It is a wonderful book. It is on my list of books I need to own. In the section about toys she asks "Is there too much?". Her thoughts on this have really stuck with me. She says,

"When it comes to playthings for our children, I can't emphasize enough that for creative play , less really is more in regard to toys. Between generous gifts from family members, hand-me-downs, and accessible inexpensive toys, it is likely that our homes are cluttered and full of playthings. A sad product of our modern world is that our children are taught early on to over consume and to want more, more, and more. Chances are that they do not need more toys, but fewer. When there are too many things around, there's little room for imagination."

She says it perfectly. As I continue to try to raise good, well rounded, happy little people that can gain joy from relationships & love of God rather than things, I decided to keep Easter handmade & simple this year. The easter bunny did not leave gifts for me as a child, just chocolate bunnies & candy. I've always felt a bit uncomfortable with kids getting gifts for Easter. Like the world has turned the Easter holiday into another Christmas. Yet I still felt that a few small gifts for my little loves was in order.

The stuffed bunnies were received quite well. Even better than I imagined actually. The girls also got handmade super hero capes. I based them on the tutorial at Puking Pastilles. Yes, super heroes in our house wear flowers. The girls were very happy with them.

I was happy that with both of these projects, I didn't have to purchase anything from the store. I used supplies that I already had on hand. And it is so thrilling to me to be able to add more useful, handmade things to our home. I love looking around & pointing out the items that we use daily that were handmade by myself or by family & friends. It warms my heart. :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Etsy Finds Friday

Happy Easter! Thank you for the camera suggestions. Hopefully I'll be back in a few days with photos from our holiday weekend. Until then, enjoy these spring picks.

1. PDF - Print You Own - Sweet Bunny Easter Flats or Pop Up Cards by wrenandchickadee
2. Linen Fawn and Lace Pouch/Wallet by Track and Field Designs
3. Daisy Spring Crochet Blouse by canselda
4. Kiele Necklace by Rachelle D
5. Doily - Floor Mat by gildem
6. Spring Cleaning Vintage Apron by In With the Old Vintage

Thursday, April 09, 2009

I Need A Camera To My Eye

So my camera quit taking photos a few days ago!! The shutter release on my digital rebel just stopped working. I've got it in for repairs & I'm just waiting to hear back. The camera store may be able to fix it & if not they'll have to ship it off to canon for the repairs. In other words...who knows how long I could be without a camera. It could be weeks!

We have talked about getting a point & shoot camera for quite some time. One that we could take out with us that wouldn't be as bulky as the SLR. One that Dylan could tote around to take photos of old buildings & old mattresses in trash piles with & I'd still have my camera at home for everyday photos & shop photos.

It's only been two days & I'm not surviving well without my camera. Not well at all. I'm thinking that now might be the time to get that extra camera. Do you guys have any suggestions for good point & shoot digital cameras? Preferably ones that are on the inexpensive end.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Soft Little Bunnies

Finished a couple little bunny softies to go in the girls' Easter baskets this year. In the early stages of this project I had thoughts of these little fellas winning over my girls' hearts & becoming family heirlooms that will eventually get passed from generation to generation. That feeling quickly left as soon as I got to the stuffing part. These little guys are wonky! I'm really not sure why I ever attempt to make softies.

But of course I love the imperfections of handmade items. These guys are WAY better than anything that could be bought in the store. The bunny was drawn by daddy...stitched, backed in vintage floral (of course) & stuffed by mommy...and I can't wait to see how the girls take to them.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Etsy Finds Friday

I believe in handmade and I love etsy with all my heart. I plan to start sharing some of my favorite etsy finds with you every Friday. All of my picks are items that I would love to own myself. There are SO many beautiful handcrafted & vintage items out there for our enjoyment.

The rainy day we're experiencing out here in Ohio obviously influenced my choices for today. :)

1. Shoulder Bag in Green by bayabhippo
2. Reusable Vegetable Bags by wonderthunder
3. One of Those Days by ashleyg
4. Blue and Orange Cozy Quilt by auntjune
5. 4-Ever Print by SilhouetteBlue
6. moss terrarium No. 95 by madebymavis

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Giveaway at Petit Elefant

Did I tell you guys that there is a Sparkle Power giveaway happening over at Petit Elefant right now? Well, I should have. Go check it out & be sure to subscribe to Allison's super cool blog.
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