Thursday, April 24, 2014

H's Easter Dress, 2014

I loooove everything about this dress: the ease of making it, the ease of caring for it (100% ironing-free!!), and the cuteness of the finished product. I just love seersucker for spring and summer!
 

The pattern is the Bubble Dress from Straight Grain Patterns on Etsy. It is totally straightforward and simple. A dream to follow. I bought a pattern bundle that also included the Tinny Dress, and have some utterly adorable nautical fabrics to make it with. 

The bubble dress is fully lined, which (combined with the inherent qualities of seersucker) is what makes it not need any ironing. It comes out of the dryer perfect! 


The hat is from Old Navy (why are cute girls' Easter hats so hard to find?!). The gloves were a last-minute addition from last year's Easter outfit, but she was happy to wear them. She has a bit of her mama's prissiness in there somewhere. Apparently I was the world's prissiest child and insisted on wearing little white gloves pretty much every day when I was her age. 


I think the little embroidered H design really adds a lot -- otherwise the dress might have been a bit too boring in that fabric. 

I made Baby C a coordinating pair of seersucker pants and blue embroidered onesie, just in case, but that was wishful thinking. He is still hanging out in utero! Well, hopefully they will still fit him when he gets here and we will take some cute pictures of the new siblings in their matching outfits. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mommy's Money Trick (Not Dave Ramsey Approved)

A few years ago, fresh out of grad school with some scary student loans under our belts, N and I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class through our church. We got a lot out of it and have utilized a lot of the principles, such as the debt snowball and giving principles. We really feel like we have been blessed as a result, and have been debt-free except for our mortgage for a couple of years now -- and that feels so great, we will never go back to living the "normal" way of carrying debt around.

But we have adapted the ideas from the class in ways that make sense for us, and one of the things Dave Ramsey recommends that we did not do is cut up our credit cards -- we just make sure to use them wisely to get discounts and rewards without EVER paying interest or fees. For instance, we have a Target Red Card to get 5% discounts at Target, and we pay the balance off every month so there is no interest.

The main one I use, though, is my Chase Amazon Rewards card. (Yeah, this sounds like an advertisement, I guess, but it isn't. Just want to share a tip that works well for me!) Like every other mom out there, I use Amazon a lot. It's just so convenient! And the prices on diapers and wipes are the very best, when you use Subscribe and Save. Anyway, I get 3 points for every dollar spent on Amazon purchases, 2 points per dollar on things like restaurants and gas stations, and 1 point per dollar spent anywhere else. I use the card for everything. Groceries, doctor visits, Amazon purchases (of course), and even our tithe at church! Then I am VERY scrupulous about paying it off completely, and on time, every month. The result is that each year I rack up lots of points that can be redeemed on Amazon for purchases. Free money! I usually use them as a nice little Christmas account. This year, I didn't use many at Christmas (I just sort of forgot about it, and then when I remembered, I didn't have much left that I wanted to get from Amazon for Christmas) so I saved them up for baby and kid purchases in the runup to Baby C's arrival.

Here's what I have used them for so far. Keep in mind that all of this cost me NOTHING. You can even pay for the tax with your points.

Crane Adorable 1 Gallon Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, Elephant


Crane 1 Gallon Cool Mist Humidifier, $39.99

Skip Hop Diaper Satchel, Chelsea Downtown Chic

What Baby Needs (Sears Children Library)
Skip Hop Diaper Satchel in Chelsea Downtown Chic, $79.98 at that time -- the price has jumped to $119.99 since then! 

What Baby Needs book (used), $4



Hello Baby!
Hello Baby! book (We already had one copy of this. This one is a gift for my OBGyn's office that is going in the thank-you basket we're taking to the birth. This is an AWESOME book that has been tremendously helpful in teaching H to understand what's going on in our family.) $6.29


Baby K'tan Breeze Baby Carrier, White, Medium
 Baby K'tan Breeze Baby Carrier, $42




Britax Kick Mats (2-Pack, Black)
Britax Kick Mats, 2-pack, $16







Not a bad haul, considering it was all free. And I still have points left in my balance.  The funny thing is, Chase sent me a letter last month offering to raise my limit and thanking me for being such a great customer, and I thought, I'm actually a pretty lousy customer, in that I cost you money, but whatever, Chase! So that's my little trick. It only works if you NEVER fail to pay off the balance and you never pay late. But it has worked really well for us, and there is something very satisfying about opening that smiley box full of stuff you actually need and want and knowing you haven't spent a dime on it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A project I will NOT be doing again

Some DIY projects are just not worth the hassle, and I have decided that sewing your own Boppy cover is one.  I wanted a new cover for our old Boppy that would have some cute custom fabrics for Baby Boy, and I picked a sweet baby deer fabric and then a tan and white polka dot minky that echoes the spots on the fawns' backs.

First I tried a tutorial I found online, where you trace your existing Boppy pillow to make your own pattern. Apparently, my tracing skills are lacking, because my finished product was WAY too small to actually fit on the pillow.

Next, I went on Etsy and paid to download a pattern.

It was awful. I have had lots of fantastic success with homemade patterns downloaded from Etsy (H's Easter dress, which I'll be posting soon, is a good example) but there have been a few flops, and this was one. It was totally unclear how the pattern was supposed to be printed and taped together, and when I did manage to figure that out, the instructions and photos were unclear at best. So there was a lot of figuring things out as I went. I did finally get it all put together, but it took what felt like FOREVER because it just wasn't any fun, and in the end, the result is kind of sloppy. The fit just isn't that great. And that's definitely the pattern's doing, not mine -- I followed it to the letter. (Or at least I think I did... given how vague it was.)

See? Kind of a mess.


One little touch I added that makes it look a teensy bit better was a line of homemade piping. I got the idea because H's old Boppy cover has some piping. It also doesn't go all the way around, although it does go down further than this does. I happened to have one yard of a nice fat cord I had bought a long time ago to attempt DIY piping with and never actually used.  It worked well for this -- and it was super-easy to make the piping with some store-bought bias tape. So that is a nice skill to have in my back pocket.


 This pattern also called for a zipper, which I do not have much experience with. Unfortunately, installing this one didn't do much to get me over my zipper-phobia, because the terrible instructions led to a lot of not-much-fun trial and error.


So there you go. A rather sloppy but functional Boppy cover -- in some really cute fabrics. If I ever decide to make another one, please send me the link to this post and remind me that they sell plenty of cute Boppy covers at reasonable prices on a little thing called the Internet.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

H's Easter Dress, 2014

I loooove everything about this dress: the ease of making it, the ease of caring for it (100% ironing-free!!), and the cuteness of the finished product. I just love seersucker for spring and summer!
 

The pattern is the Bubble Dress from Straight Grain Patterns on Etsy. It is totally straightforward and simple. A dream to follow. I bought a pattern bundle that also included the Tinny Dress, and have some utterly adorable nautical fabrics to make it with. 

The bubble dress is fully lined, which (combined with the inherent qualities of seersucker) is what makes it not need any ironing. It comes out of the dryer perfect! 


The hat is from Old Navy (why are cute girls' Easter hats so hard to find?!). The gloves were a last-minute addition from last year's Easter outfit, but she was happy to wear them. She has a bit of her mama's prissiness in there somewhere. Apparently I was the world's prissiest child and insisted on wearing little white gloves pretty much every day when I was her age. 


I think the little embroidered H design really adds a lot -- otherwise the dress might have been a bit too boring in that fabric. 

I made Baby C a coordinating pair of seersucker pants and blue embroidered onesie, just in case, but that was wishful thinking. He is still hanging out in utero! Well, hopefully they will still fit him when he gets here and we will take some cute pictures of the new siblings in their matching outfits. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mommy's Money Trick (Not Dave Ramsey Approved)

A few years ago, fresh out of grad school with some scary student loans under our belts, N and I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class through our church. We got a lot out of it and have utilized a lot of the principles, such as the debt snowball and giving principles. We really feel like we have been blessed as a result, and have been debt-free except for our mortgage for a couple of years now -- and that feels so great, we will never go back to living the "normal" way of carrying debt around.

But we have adapted the ideas from the class in ways that make sense for us, and one of the things Dave Ramsey recommends that we did not do is cut up our credit cards -- we just make sure to use them wisely to get discounts and rewards without EVER paying interest or fees. For instance, we have a Target Red Card to get 5% discounts at Target, and we pay the balance off every month so there is no interest.

The main one I use, though, is my Chase Amazon Rewards card. (Yeah, this sounds like an advertisement, I guess, but it isn't. Just want to share a tip that works well for me!) Like every other mom out there, I use Amazon a lot. It's just so convenient! And the prices on diapers and wipes are the very best, when you use Subscribe and Save. Anyway, I get 3 points for every dollar spent on Amazon purchases, 2 points per dollar on things like restaurants and gas stations, and 1 point per dollar spent anywhere else. I use the card for everything. Groceries, doctor visits, Amazon purchases (of course), and even our tithe at church! Then I am VERY scrupulous about paying it off completely, and on time, every month. The result is that each year I rack up lots of points that can be redeemed on Amazon for purchases. Free money! I usually use them as a nice little Christmas account. This year, I didn't use many at Christmas (I just sort of forgot about it, and then when I remembered, I didn't have much left that I wanted to get from Amazon for Christmas) so I saved them up for baby and kid purchases in the runup to Baby C's arrival.

Here's what I have used them for so far. Keep in mind that all of this cost me NOTHING. You can even pay for the tax with your points.

Crane Adorable 1 Gallon Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, Elephant


Crane 1 Gallon Cool Mist Humidifier, $39.99

Skip Hop Diaper Satchel, Chelsea Downtown Chic

What Baby Needs (Sears Children Library)
Skip Hop Diaper Satchel in Chelsea Downtown Chic, $79.98 at that time -- the price has jumped to $119.99 since then! 

What Baby Needs book (used), $4



Hello Baby!
Hello Baby! book (We already had one copy of this. This one is a gift for my OBGyn's office that is going in the thank-you basket we're taking to the birth. This is an AWESOME book that has been tremendously helpful in teaching H to understand what's going on in our family.) $6.29


Baby K'tan Breeze Baby Carrier, White, Medium
 Baby K'tan Breeze Baby Carrier, $42




Britax Kick Mats (2-Pack, Black)
Britax Kick Mats, 2-pack, $16







Not a bad haul, considering it was all free. And I still have points left in my balance.  The funny thing is, Chase sent me a letter last month offering to raise my limit and thanking me for being such a great customer, and I thought, I'm actually a pretty lousy customer, in that I cost you money, but whatever, Chase! So that's my little trick. It only works if you NEVER fail to pay off the balance and you never pay late. But it has worked really well for us, and there is something very satisfying about opening that smiley box full of stuff you actually need and want and knowing you haven't spent a dime on it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A project I will NOT be doing again

Some DIY projects are just not worth the hassle, and I have decided that sewing your own Boppy cover is one.  I wanted a new cover for our old Boppy that would have some cute custom fabrics for Baby Boy, and I picked a sweet baby deer fabric and then a tan and white polka dot minky that echoes the spots on the fawns' backs.

First I tried a tutorial I found online, where you trace your existing Boppy pillow to make your own pattern. Apparently, my tracing skills are lacking, because my finished product was WAY too small to actually fit on the pillow.

Next, I went on Etsy and paid to download a pattern.

It was awful. I have had lots of fantastic success with homemade patterns downloaded from Etsy (H's Easter dress, which I'll be posting soon, is a good example) but there have been a few flops, and this was one. It was totally unclear how the pattern was supposed to be printed and taped together, and when I did manage to figure that out, the instructions and photos were unclear at best. So there was a lot of figuring things out as I went. I did finally get it all put together, but it took what felt like FOREVER because it just wasn't any fun, and in the end, the result is kind of sloppy. The fit just isn't that great. And that's definitely the pattern's doing, not mine -- I followed it to the letter. (Or at least I think I did... given how vague it was.)

See? Kind of a mess.


One little touch I added that makes it look a teensy bit better was a line of homemade piping. I got the idea because H's old Boppy cover has some piping. It also doesn't go all the way around, although it does go down further than this does. I happened to have one yard of a nice fat cord I had bought a long time ago to attempt DIY piping with and never actually used.  It worked well for this -- and it was super-easy to make the piping with some store-bought bias tape. So that is a nice skill to have in my back pocket.


 This pattern also called for a zipper, which I do not have much experience with. Unfortunately, installing this one didn't do much to get me over my zipper-phobia, because the terrible instructions led to a lot of not-much-fun trial and error.


So there you go. A rather sloppy but functional Boppy cover -- in some really cute fabrics. If I ever decide to make another one, please send me the link to this post and remind me that they sell plenty of cute Boppy covers at reasonable prices on a little thing called the Internet.