The Thirty Minute Dress Up Skirt: Tutorial

April 30, 2014
Like I said a couple of posts ago, Chelsea's birthday is coming up, and this year, we wanted to give her some fun dress ups! So I looked through my fabrics and found some leftover of a few different kinds. Some of it was this really lovely, silky, Asian-looking fabric that I decided to make her a simple skirt out of. I would have some photos of Chelsea wearing the skirt, but I don't want to spoil the surprise!


The best part about this skirt is that it takes, quite literally, 30 minutes. And it does kind of help that this skirt is only for dress ups, so I didn't have to be a perfectionist about it. It is definitely a beginner level project.

You will need:
1/2 yrd fabric
18"+ 3/4" elastic
Scissors, thread, measuring tape, etc.

Fabric - 18x36"+
Elastic - 18"+

Step 1: Cut
Decide how long you want the skirt to be on your little one and add 3". Measure around her waist and double that number (you can cut it longer than that, if you want a fuller skirt; the more fabric there is, the fuller it will be).

Step 2: Stitch
If you haven't already, now would be a good time to iron your fabric, then fold the fabric in half with right sides together so that the two short ends are aligned. Pin in place, and stitch a 1/2" seam along the edge. If you're worried about fraying, use a zig zag stitch afterwards on the outside of the straight stitch, closer to the edge.

Step 3: Hem
Fold the bottom edge of the skirt under twice, a half inch each fold, and pin in place. Sew in place with 3/8" seam allowance.
Hem the top as well, but fold the top edge of the skirt under twice with 1 inch per fold. Pin in place, then sew along the edge of the fold around the skirt (should be just a tiny bit less than 1" seam allowance, like 7/8") and leave about 3" in the back open. You're sewing a casing for the elastic waistband.

Step 5: Waistband/Casing
Cut the elastic to the same measurement as is around your little's waist. Attach a safety pin to one end and begin to slide the elastic through the casing, being sure that you don't pull the other end of the elastic through. If you've decided to make a fuller skirt, this will take a little while and be slightly more difficult (only slightly). When you get all around the skirt back to where you started, pull the end of the elastic out, overlap one end over the other by one inch, and sew the two ends of the elastic together as shown.

Step 6: Close
Pull the elastic taut so that what you've just sewn will lay flat inside the casing. Fold down the opening of the casing to look like the rest of the casing (folded under twice by 1" each time), and sew the opening closed, just like you sewed the casing before you slipped the elastic inside. Done!


See?! Sew easy, right? And now my daughter has a fun little dress up skirt to wear when she's feeling imaginative. I'll let you know how she likes it when she finally gets to try it on. Happy sewing! See you again soon for the Tulle Fairy Wings tutorial!

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How to Raise a Family that is Prepared for the Hard Times

April 28, 2014
I've been wanting to post about this for a while, but thought I needed to take my time with it because these are lessons from my mother and father about raising their children. A lot of people are lucky enough to have amazing parents that they emulate, but I don't know that many of them get the opportunity to learn these kinds of lessons from their parents. I was lucky enough to visit my parents after Christmas this year and attend church with them when they taught the lesson in Relief Society and Priesthood combined. The topic of the lesson was "How to prepare our children to withstand hard times." After raising twelve kids who are now grown up and all still strong members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, experiencing the loss of one son when he was 18 years old, as well as experiencing other trials, Mom and Dad have learned a few things about making it through the hard times and teaching their children to do the same.

Not pictured: Kimberlee and Steven

"We have been asked by the Bishopric to talk about hard times. This is easy for me because I never saw a silver lining that didn't have a dark cloud attached."

"Hard is good."

Dad has always been really good at keeping us grounded in reality and working hard even when times are tough. Mom has always been really good at reminding us to stay positive and have perspective through the tough times. When I was in labor with Chelsea, Mom was there, and you'd better believe that she was telling me to think of the pain as good pain, because it was leading to a wonderful result. Although this is true, it didn't help me too much. I'm probably more like my dad.

These differences have made Mom and Dad a really good couple, or my dad would probably say, that's what has made him a better person. I think it also makes them really entertaining.

Dad started out the lesson by sharing a few of the trials our family has experienced together, ranging from losing his job a couple of times (April 15th is a STINKY time to lose your job as an accountant), to losing a son the day before his High School graduation and Mom being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing 24 weeks of chemotherapy. There are others. Just like with every other person out there, there are never just a few.

With each experience, Dad learned something about himself, and his relationships with Mom, his children, and most of all, with God. He and my mother learned to rely on the Holy Ghost. It was during those hard times, particularly when our family lost my brother, Steven, that they learned why the Holy Ghost is called "The Comforter."

The one thing that Dad feels helped our family through the hard times the most was his relationship with his eternal companion, my mother. Here are a few things that he and Mom learned along the way that have helped them to work toward a successful marriage:
  • Selflessness - Some days, Dad would come home from a hard day at work, only to find toys and other items all over the floor, children running all over the place (12 kids, remember?), and a lot more work to be done. At first, Dad would get exasperated and irritated that he had to come home from a rough day at work to a rough night at home, but after some time, he learned that it was better for his relationship with Mom if he would take a minute to get down on his knees... And start cleaning up toys.
  • No angry words - When one of my brothers was little, he came to my mother crying because his older brother had said the "SH" word to him. Mom took him aside and asked him to whisper in her ear what the word was, to which he responded in a quiet whisper, "Shut up." It takes two to fight, and if you're having a problem with this, follow some advice from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, the second counselor to the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints... "Stop it."
  • Communicate
  • Couple prayers
  • Date night
  • Work to become best friends
After sharing these points, Dad said,

"If you don't have the kind of marriage you want to have, CHANGE. How? Change yourself. If you keep doing what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten. To me, Hell would be to live out eternity without Cathy."

And with that, Dad handed the lesson over to his best friend, my mother.

During the time that my mom had to speak, she focused mainly on the theme, "The time of crisis is not the time to prepare." She learned this lesson especially when Steven died. Because of the relationship that we already had with the Lord,

"We were able to draw upon the powers of Heaven through prayer and priesthood blessings. We recognized the power of the atonement to comfort and bless us. We felt the fruits of the Spirit in our home and it 'carried us along.'"
"It was our testimonies and the 'little things' we were in the habit of doing that prepared us to receive the tender mercies and comfort of the Holy Ghost in our home which blessed each member of the family."

Mom took some time to share an excerpt of a letter that one of my siblings had written for her. In the letter, he spoke about Steven's death and how it took a huge toll on our family, how sad we all were, and how much we missed our brother. Steven died on a Friday, and not once did this sibling question whether or not we would be at church on Sunday. Our family attended church, no matter what.

There are a lot of things that drive the spirit away from our lives and our homes. After outlining a few of them, Mom focused on what we can do to invite the spirit into our homes, to prepare us for the hard times ahead.
  • Prayer (personal and family) - One of my siblings was having a hard time in school. She was in third grade and coming home every day crying because the other children didn't like her and she was not doing well in school. Mom gave it a lot of thought and prayer and she remembered a previous president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, President Tanner, had said that the solution to every problem could be found within the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Almost immediately, Mom knew what was needed. She proceeded to take this daughter out with her for the next several weeks and serve others. They visited an elderly widow and baked cookies for someone. She was shy about doing it and it took some courage for Mom, too, but before long, "things had dramatically improved and she reported that she had a best friend at school."
    • Family prayer was almost a crisis for our family of 12 sometimes! It was during one of these crises that our family came up with the saying, "10 seconds of silence!" But I know that these family prayers helped bind us closer together as a family, draw us closer to the Lord, and prepare us for the hard times ahead.
  • Family Home Evening - Teach about what the Spirit is, its purpose, and what it feels like.
  • Scripture study (family and personal) - You can even come up with ways to help the children look forward to scripture study. Sometimes, we would read the entire chapter backwards, read one word at a time, give "word assignments" where a certain individual raises his or her hand when they hear a certain word, etc. etc.
  • Full activity in church and activities - Including primary, young men, young women, relief society, priesthood responsibilities, seminary, and other activities. Also, attend the Temple regularly.
  • No arguing - This was a hard one, especially for me and my older brother. Sometimes, Mom would make us sing our arguments to each other, which always ended in laughter, or both of us getting over it, saying sorry, and walking away.
  • Be positive
  • Music and Singing
  • Avoiding idle time - Mom said, "I found that too much idle time is not good for anyone and will drive the Spirit away. Work, setting personal goals, and developing talents, serving others, or something worthwhile will help anyone feel like a worthy person and help them feel the spirit."
  • Service
  • Physical Environment - Organized, some beautiful things, low voices, good literature, art, music, movies, games, uplifting conversation, etc.
  • Family goals
  • Priesthood blessings
  • Support each other - families that support each other in important activities build love and unity.
The one thing that is necessary in all that we do as families, Mom said, is to be consistent. Elder Bednar, a general authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said that while no one episode of FHE (family home evening), scripture study, or family prayer may seem especially memorable or even successful, "our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results."

Our family wasn't perfect. My brother and I fought. All. The. Time. We did dumb things like dying our hair orange or sneaking out of the house, or even taking pocket knives to school in kindergarten for show-and-tell (uhh... that wasn't me...). Sometimes Mom didn't have dinner ready when Dad got home. Sometimes Dad wasn't very patient with the mess when he got home. I could never say with any ounce of honesty that I had a perfect family that always did the right thing. What I can say is that we always tried. I can say that when we did do the the things that Mom and Dad mentioned, and did them consistently, our family was happier and we got along better. And I can say, that all of us knew that Mom and Dad loved us unconditionally and expected the best because they knew who we really are.

I know that it's because of those times that we were persistent in staying close to the Lord that when trials came, His Spirit was able to stay close to us. I feel so blessed to have grown up in the home I did and pray every. single. day that Andrew and I will be able to do for our family what our parents did for us. I hope that if you're wondering what you can do in your family to make it through the hard times that these lists and examples help. I hope that you remember that the time to prepare for trials is not during the trial, but now. Consistency is difficult, but it's important, and well worth a shot.

Good luck with your families and don't forget, "Hard is good," even if you've "never seen a silver lining without a dark cloud attached to it!"

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Party Preparations

April 25, 2014
Once I joined the "Mommy" world and started pinning and looking at other mommies who posted their children's birthdays, I thought that I would NEVER be that mom who planned the big parties for my children until they were 8 (or older... or never). For Chelsea's first birthday, I held true to this suspicion. The most we did was wrap her presents and let her eat a chocolate cupcake (if you haven't already, you've gotta check out the pictures here). I did have one-year pictures taken as well, but as far as "party" and "party decorations" went, we just invited my cousin and two of Andrew's siblings (the third was out of town).

So, with Chelsea's birthday around the corner, I received a text message from my sister-in-law asking if we were planning a party for Chelsea this year... And something magical happened... Ideas for a little birthday party started floating around in my head. Decorations. Activities. Food. It all seemed to come together, kind of like in "Frozen."

"And one thought crystalizes like an icy blast!"

I bent in over my twisting fingers, crafting, creating, and voila! Chelsea's 2nd birthday party plans were underway!

But I still don't want to go overboard. She's turning two. She won't remember any of this, and she doesn't quite have the attention span for most birthday party games, so to be honest, it's more like an "adults get together and hang out while your kids are preoccupied with other stuff" plus some food, decorations, and oh yeah! Chelsea opens some presents and we eat cake. Actually, that sounds pretty great, doesn't it?

Anyway, the whole point of me telling you this is because I thought it might be kind of fun to include you all in on the preparations and, let's be honest, I'm getting super excited about everything I'm planning and just want to share! I'm buying decorations, food, presents, etc. while also trying to save as much money as I can and make it the best two-year birthday Chelsea will EVER have!

So here's what I've got planned. I want to have the party outside (less mess!) and have a BBQ on our back porch (and I am PRAYING that the weather will be nice). We'll have a table set up with food and drinks and get the grill going for hamburgers. I'll probably make some potato salad and there will be chips, fruits, and veggies for eating and some pink lemonade (or water) for drinking.

I began with the idea of doing an entirely pink birthday party, but when I went to Hobby Lobby to get some decorations, somehow my decoration plans changed and turned into summer-time, bright colors! Blue, red, and yellow are the main colors, but there are splashes of green, pink, and other colors in there as well.

For the kids, I'll set up our little toddler pool and fill it with just a little bit of water so the kids can splash around in it with toys and cups. I'm sure there will be some accidental immersions, but, hey! It's a party. I'll also provide a little picnic table with crayons, coloring books, and paper for the less-water prone children. And if that isn't enough to distract them, I'm making giant ping-pong paddles out of Popsicle sticks and paper plates and they can hit balloons around with them.

The biggest child-attraction I don't want to reveal quite yet because it is so totally AWESOME! The weather BETTER cooperate or I will be SO sad. It doesn't have to be sunny, but please don't let it rain or be super windy.

So that's the gist of it! I was really worried about spending too much money on decorations and the "extra fluff," but managed to find good ways to save. I'll share those tips with you throughout this coming week leading up to Chelsea's birthday, too.

The thing that I think I'm MOST excited about are Chelsea's birthday presents. Like I said, we're trying to save money here, so I decided that I would look through my bin of scrap and leftover fabric and see what I could do. So far, I've managed to make Chelsea three items of dress-ups and have a couple more planned, and guess what? I'm planning on sharing them with you, tutorials included!

So here's some of what you have to look forward to next week:

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You really never know how creative you can be until you're working with very little. I'm so glad I found these bits of fabric to work with. These little "labors of love" presents are really just making me feel good and I can't wait to see what Chelsea thinks of them! See you next time!

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Electronic Pocket Sleeve for Car Travel: Tutorial

April 23, 2014
So our family is planning on taking more than one long car ride this summer, which means thinking of ways to keep the little one occupied as we go. I've been looking at car travel organizers online and, although I think they're really cool, Chelsea isn't quite old enough to really be able to take advantage of one (short arms, ya know), but one thing I thought that might help would be this iPad pocket sleeve so that she can watch movies and things on the go.


The best part is that even with the vinyl overlay, you can still touch and select things on the iPad, AND it doesn't interfere with the sound.

Ready for a tutorial? Here we go!

You will need:
1/2 yrd thin or medium thickness vinyl (you can purchase this at your fabric store)
1/2 yrd fabric
1/2 yrd batting
Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape
1/2" wide Velcro (opt)
Thread, scissors, measuring tape, iron, etc.

2 pieces of fabric - the size of your electronic device plus one extra inch on each side
for my iPad 3, this turned out being 9x11.5"
1 piece of vinyl - same size as fabric
1 piece of batting - same size as fabric
2 pieces of bias tape, each 12+ inches
4 pieces of fabric cut to 18x4"
Velcro pieces, 6" long each side (rough and soft) opt.

Step 1: Cut
Lay your iPad (kindle, whatever) on top of your vinyl and cut a rectangle around your iPad with 1" extra on each side (I cut about 1/2" extra on each side and it worked, but the pocket is a little snug). Cut two pieces of fabric that are the same size as the vinyl and a piece of batting the same size as those. Iron the fabric. Cut the rest of the fabric, bias tape, etc. as outlined in "Dimensions," cutting the bias tape to be just a little longer than the long side of the vinyl as pictured below.


Step 2: Sew-Vinyl pocket
Take one of the pieces of bias tape and sew it along the long side of the vinyl (you're sewing the pocket opening for the iPad right now).
**Note: When you buy vinyl, it comes in thin paper. Place the paper beneath the vinyl and what you're sewing so that the vinyl doesn't stick as you sew and tear the paper away when you're done.


Step 3: Sew-Fabric pocket
Lay one piece of fabric face down, lay batting on top of that, and the other piece of fabric facing up on top of that, aligning the top, long edges. Pin the bias tape to the top of all three layers and sew in place.


Step 4: Straps and Binding
Iron your 4 strap pieces flat and sew all four pieces together, end to end, with right sides together, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Iron open each seam, and fold your now very long piece in half-lengthwise, wrong sides together. Iron on fold.


Step 5: Straps and Binding cont'd.
Pin the vinyl piece on top of the fabric and batting piece along the sides, being sure to align the top (where the bias tape/pocket opening is).
Find the center of the binding you just made and pin it to the center of the pocket at the bottom, aligning the raw edges. Continue pinning along the bottom.


Step 6: Mitering
Now you're going to miter the corners. Sew along the bottom where you pinned, using a 1/2" seam allowance, stopping when you're only 1/2" away from the edge on both sides.
Fold the binding down at a 45 degree angle, and then, while holding that fold, fold the binding up to align with the side edge and pin in place, as shown in the picture. Do this on each side.


Step 7: Mitering cont'd.
With a 1/2" seam allowance, sew along the two short sides that you just pinned from bottom edge to top edge. Trim any excess bias tape sticking out (black) at the top.


You can try the pocket on your iPad now, it you want. It gets you all excited!


Step 8: Mitering cont'd.
Fold your sewn-on binding underneath to the other side of the pocket and pin in place. Sew the binding in place around the outside and inside edge of the binding. Sew over the mitered corners.


Step 9: Straps
If you're not using Velcro, hem the ends of the straps, and fold them the same way that the binding is sewn onto the pocket. Then sew the straps and tie them around your headrest.
If you are using Velcro, measure 9 inches along the straps away from the pocket and cut the excess. Hem the ends of the straps and fold them the same way that the binding is sewn onto the pocket. Sew the straps around the edges, then attach the Velcro (just sew it on!), one to either strap.



It's great for adults, too! Trust me. I tried it.
Happy sewing!

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Easter 2014

April 20, 2014
Happy Easter! Today in my primary CTR 4 class (four-year-olds), we talked about Jesus and the story of Easter. I got to share the part of the story where Jesus appears to Mary after he has been resurrected, and as I told the story, I could feel in my heart an overwhelming gratitude towards the Savior, and I could feel his love for me like I was wrapped in a warm blanket.

I know that He died and then rose again three days later, and because of this, we all will do the same. I am so grateful for His sacrifice for me so that I can live with Him and my Heavenly Father again as well as my family, and that truly is something to be grateful for!

Easter Bunny Pancakes for breakfast!

LOVE this family! Thanks for letting me take photos of you gorgeous, tulle-people! I still think you should have let me make Danny a tulle tie...

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Can't wait for you to join us, little one!

And here are some photos of Chelsea in her Easter dress! I am in LOVE with how it turned out. What do you think?
*Also, this dress is soon to be in shop!


Happy Easter! Go eat some ham and funeral potatoes.
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Easter Egg Hunt: #2

April 19, 2014
I'm not entirely sure what I want to post about today. Should I save photos of Chelsea's ADORABLE Easter dress for tomorrow, or should I do a spoiler? My Easter dress will definitely have to wait until tomorrow because I haven't taken pictures yet (tomorrow for sure). We did go on a super fun Easter Egg Hunt this morning with our neighbors! I'll share that, and give you just a sneak peak of Chelsea's Easter dress for tomorrow.

You can never have too many Easter Egg Hunts! I'm so glad we got to go on a hunt last week with my family and then on another hunt today with our neighbors. They even fed us lunch and gave us extra candy. Aren't we lucky to have such marvelous neighbors?

Chelsea had a really great time and I think she understood the whole concept of egg hunting better this time around, but she still has a hard time with the concept of waiting. Good thing the neighbors have so many fun toys to play with in their yard!


And as promised, a sneak peak of what we'll be wearing tomorrow!

Happy Easter!


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