Friday, November 30, 2012

Chicago 2012

Are you ready for a photo bomb?  We had the opportunity to meet up with my sister in law Jean and her husband Matthew in Chicago while they were there from San Diego, promoting their game company Wiggity Bang Games at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair the weekend before Thanksgiving.  If you're in the market for a fun game to share with friends to to give as a gift, check out their games Furt, Magic Feather, and Quao.

We've taken the train to Chicago since Arden was born.  It takes a little longer, but it's nice to be able to move around and not worry about driving while handing drinks, toys, etc. back to the girls.  We download television and movies onto our phones, which entertains us much longer than it does Arden.

Checking out the view out her window.

Hadley slept next to Dave for about an hour and a half which let him have some time to relax.

Meanwhile Arden and I went to the dining car to color and have a snack.

Then I broke out a few of my Strawberry Shortcake dolls from when I was a kid.  These have gotten some serious mileage as I used to take a big box of them with me to babysit and now we've been slowly awarding them to Arden for good behavior.

Hadley meeting Aunt Jean for the first time.  We've Skyped several times, but it's been since Arden was about seven months old that we last saw them in person.

Millennium Park's Cloud Gate, better known as The Bean.  We found an apartment rental through VRBO in a high rise just next to Millennium Park which worked out very well for what we needed on this trip and for traveling with two small kids.  We'll probably do something like that again in the future, but look for a different management team - it was a pain getting everything confirmed.

Arden was sorely dissapointed by the lack of swings and slides in Millennium Park.  I think we need to make a stronger differentiation between parks and playgrounds in the future...

This is how we traveled through Chicago, though mostly Hadley was in the stroller and Arden in the backpack.  I love the Chicco Liteway stroller because it reclines almost completely and is tall enough for Dave to push even though he's 6' 5".  I also can't say enough about how convenient it was to navigate using Google Maps with the transportation option to show us the best train/bus/walking routes around.  Combined with the CTA bus tracker and we were always confident about where we needed to be and how long we'd have to wait.

To make it up to Arden for the Millennium Park misunderstanding, we took the girls to Oz Park and Dorothy's Playground on our way to Lincoln Park Zoo.  Hadley has been under the weather with a cold, but she enjoyed herself at the playground as well.

Arden ran herself silly all over the playground and we had to pry her away to get to the zoo.

A view of the Chicago skyline from the Zoo.  I'm always so pleased and surprised that such a lovely zoo is free.

Hadley snoozing away in the stroller - again.  She pretty much slept her way through Chicago due to her cold and being so comfy and snuggled up in the stroller with the Bundle Me.  The weather was also very nice for November - in the 50's all weekend.  Notice the Starbuck's coffee in the stroller cup holder - a little Mommy's pick me up since I wasn't feeling so hot either..

Arden and I on the carousel.  She was dead set on this particular panda bear to ride on and named him Po-Po.

I had to include this shot because I thought it was funny that Dave caught himself in the carousel's mirror.

Yes, we put our kid on a leash.  She actually loves it and will twirl around and make sure we're holding the end.  It's nice to have the peace of mind that she can't take off on us in a crowd.  The display she's looking at is a poop game at the big cats exhibit at the zoo.  Did you know bees pooped?  I guess everyone poops (there's even a book about it!), but I never thought about bees...

This baby monkey on Momma's back was so cute!

Arden got a big kick out of this howler monkey putting on a show for all the kids.

This is one of the best shots I got at the Shedd Acquarium.  It's pretty dark in there, but this display with ducks held Hadley's attention for quite some time and was well lit.

We went to breakfast with Jean and Matt the last morning.  Hadley wasn't feeling the photo opportunity and this was from Jean's iPhone as she was even unhappier in all my shots.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

From Thrifty to Nifty: Sweater to Dress Refashion

Don'cha just love a cozy sweater dress?  How 'bout a cheap and easy sweater dress?

I picked up this perfectly nice Izod cotton argyle sweater at a local thrift store for $2.50.  I was hunting wool sweaters to felt and this caught my eye.  It was an XL, and it looked just "eh" on me; a little short in the torso and kind of boxy.  So into the refashion drawer.  Sweater season hit here in Michigan and out it came to become a cute sweater dress for Arden.

1.  First I used my seam ripper and removed the collar and the knit tape covering the seam at the back of the neck.  This probably took the longest of the whole project, but I just sat while the girls had their snack and patiently picked away at it.

2.  Using a knit dress that fit Arden well, I traced a bodice front, starting as high up as I could to keep the length and the finished bottom edge.  From the traced armpit, I drew a gentle a-line - for this 4T size I angled the bottom of the ruler over 2" from paralell to the fold.

3.  Using the bodice front and the pattern dress as a guide, trace the bodice back with the neckline at a shallower curve. 

4.  Trace the sleeves.  The pattern dress had a small gather at the shoulder which I wanted to keep, so I continued the curve at the top of the shoulder to allow for that.

5.  Sew one of the shoulder seams together with right sides together (RST).  I serged the shoulder seams, but this really wasn't necessary.  You could leave them alone or zig-zag if you like.  I sewed the ribbed collar I unpicked in step one RST to the neck opening, starting at one of the open shoulder edges.  Then I turned and topstitched just below the seam to make it look nice and to hold the collar seam down.  My machine has a stretch stitch that looks like a lightening bolt - it's a narrow lapped zig-zag that allows a little bit of stretch in knits.  I like using this for seams where popping the seam is a possibility with a non-stretch stitch.  It's a tiny bit stretched out even though I was careful to let the machine feed it through, but it should ease back in the first time I wash it.

Sew the other shoulder seam.

6.  Run about 3' of a basting stitch at the top of the shoulders and pull the bobbin thread to gather slightly.

7.  With RST and starting at the outside edges, pin and sew the sleeves into the armholes with a stretch stitch.

8.  Matching the wrist edges, bottom edges, and armpit seams, pin and sew with RST the entire side seams.  I used the stretch stitch here as well.

9.  I put that contrasting knit tape to use and made a little bow at the collar.  I used the embroidery foot and tacked it down at the knot and bottoms, leaving the loops loose.  I turned the ends under because they weren't finished and would have unraveled.

Ta-da!  A quick and easy sweater dress.  It's a teensy bit big on Arden, but she's just moving into 4T clothing and that's mostly due to her long legs.  So, it should fit her all the way through this winter season and into spring.

She's been wanting to wear more dresses, and I'm more than happy to oblige if they're as easy to whip out as this one was.  I think I spent maybe an hour all together making this - including picking the collar out.

I think there are at least three more sweaters in my refashion drawer - I better get to work! 

This project was featured on:

I'll be linking this project at many of these great parties:

Mondays Making the World Cuter Monday – Making the World Cuter Made By You Monday – Skip to My Lou Craftastic Monday – Sew Can Do Making Mondays Marvelous – C.R.A.F.T. Market Yourself Monday – Sumo’s Sweet Stuff Creative Me Monday - The Southern Institute Tuesdays I Made It Without My Hubby – Shanty 2 Chic Sew Cute Tuesdays – Creative Itch Take a Look Tuesdays - Sugar Bee Craft Edition Shwin&Shwin Wednesdays We Did It Wednesdays – Sew Much Ado Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice - Seven Thirty Three Show & Tell – Blue Cricket Design Show Me What Ya Got - Not Just a Housewife Your Whims Wednesdays - My Girlish Whims Thursdays Strut-Your-Stuff – Somewhat Simple Make It, Wear It – The Train to Crazy It’s Stinkin’ Cute – Sew Stinkin’ Cute Show Off Your Stuff – Fireflies and Jellybeans Making It With Allie - What Allie's Making Now Pinspirational Thursdays - The ArtsyGirl Connection Fridays Furniture Feature Friday - Miss Mustard Seed Weekend Wrap Up Party – Tatertots and Jello Feature Yourself Friday – Fingerprints on the Fridge Friday Fun Finds – KojoDesigns Weekends Check Me Out Saturday – A Vision to Remember Show and Tell Saturday – Be Different Act Normal Sunday Scoop – I Heart Naptime Sunday Showcase Party – Under the Table and Dreaming A Pinteresting Party - Tutus & Tea Parties Sunday Roundup - A Rosie Sweet Home
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Bento Bandwagon

I'm a bit late to the bento party.  I've always thought they were cute and creative and a great way to encourage kids to eat a variety of foods.  I didn't delve into the world of bento previously because Arden was mostly eating lunches at daycare and didn't have a real problem eating lunches. 

Now that I'm working part time she's with me for lunches more, and now she's having some trouble eating her dinners.  She's not really picky, just doesn't want to eat all of her meal or takes for-ev-er (like two hours at the dinner table!) to eat.  So my plan is to use the bentos for dinner to get her to eat better.

I bought all my supplies at Bento USA by All Things For Sale.  I basically shopped through the sale section and tried to set myself up with a beginner bento kit.  I'll include links below where I can find them so if you're interested you can find them easily.

Starting with the bento boxes, or lunch boxes.  This one has a transparent lid that snaps closed and a removable divider.

This cute two-tiered bento is listed as a snack box, but since Arden is only three and has the corresponding appetite, it will help me give her quantities that she can realistically eat.

Several different cutters.  These can be used to cut meats, cheese, or other similar thin foods.

This CuteZCute cutter is especially cute.  It's a set that makes panda, frog, kitty, and pig shapes and can cut sandwiches in addition to meats and cheeses.

Some silicone cups and a variety of picks.  The cups can hold dips or small foods or even just for decoration turned upside down so the faces show.  The picks can  be used to pick up small foods or to hold them in place.  I'm already seeing that I should have chosen some longer picks - more like skewers so I can string things on them.  I can probably work with some things I've got around the house.

I couldn't resist this little holiday set of picks and rings.

If I manage to put together a cute box, I'll try to share them but I'm not promising anything!  Most meals are put together in a time crunch so me getting all creative and taking pictures isn't likely to happen often.

This is not a sponsored post, but if anyone wants to send me bento stuff (or anything cool for that matter - hint, hint!) to try, I'll give it a whirl and tell everyone about it!

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Guest Post: Heather on Finding Hope in Mesothelioma

Recently I was contacted by Heather who wanted to share her story about surviving Mesothelioma, a lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.  Heather was about the same age as I was when Hadley was born, so the thought of fighting for your life just when you should be your happiest with a new baby really shakes me.  Heather wants her story to be one of purpose and she wants to offer guidance, inspiration and hope to others in situations like hers.

So, here's Heather:

Finding Hope in Mesothelioma

Never in a million years could I have imagined that I would hear the words, “You
have cancer.” Hearing those words made me tremble with fear. In a matter of
months, I went from being the happiest person in the world because of the birth
of my daughter to someone who’s been rattled with fear because of my
mesothelioma cancer diagnosis. The fact that my cancer was pleural
mesothelioma cancer that was caused from asbestos exposure made me feel
even worse.

I was so confused when I got my mesothelioma diagnosis. Learning that it came
from asbestos, I wondered how asbestos could have affected me. I asked
myself the same questions that many others asked me. “Isn’t asbestos
illegal?” “Where did I work that had me to be exposed to asbestos?” I learned
that asbestos is not illegal, and that most people who work in trades are exposed
to it. I quickly realized that my father was the reason for my asbestos
exposure. My father’s job consisted of being around drywall, mudding, and
sanding. Every night when he came home with what seemed to be innocent
white dust on his clothes, he was actually bringing me and the rest of our family
into contact with millions of asbestos fibers.

I was diagnosed at a very young age. I was only 36 when I was diagnosed. I did
not fit the description of the typical mesothelioma patient. Most of these patients
were older males who worked on ships in the military or in the areas of plumbing,
heating, electrical, and mechanical. I did not fit the description of the other
mesothelioma patients. These other mesothelioma patients were the wives of
the military and construction workers; these women handled the laundry that
contained the asbestos. Even secretaries in schools also were diagnosed; they
were exposed daily to asbestos fibers at their schools.

The new mesothelioma sufferers look like me and have backgrounds similar to
mine; they were exposed to asbestos by their construction-working
fathers. They are also young like me. They are in their late 20’s and early 30’s,
beginning to have families, starting new jobs, and enjoying the benefits of
marriage. Now all of these new ventures come to a halt with the mesothelioma
diagnosis. As with all things, there is always good news. More people are
surviving the disease because of advances in treatments for the disease.

Yes, learning that cancer is in your body is devastating news. However, through
hope and a community of mesothelioma sufferers, we are able to share the good
times and bad times with a great group of people who are just like us.

I will always continue to share my story. I will bring awareness to this
disease. Because of this awareness, fewer people will have to suffer. If I can
help someone, whether it is a newly diagnosed patient or a sufferer living in fear of this disease, then I know I am doing the right thing.

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