Monday, January 29, 2007

Another day, another set of baby shower invitations

Saturday we got together with some friends to say goodbye to the Sharpes who have been our friends since a few months after we moved to Columbus 5 1/2 years ago. I can't help feeling like it's the end of an era for us. Of course the boys stayed up late afterwards playing videogames one last time (and sadly that's when we realized we needed a picture of the group, but it was too late for the whole group). While the boys played I headed home to finish another set of baby shower invitations. I got the idea for these invitations from a post about how to create a simple mini-album on the Simple Scrapbooks blog. You can find the directions there. I wanted the invitation to be a little bigger so I cut the patterned paper for the cover into three 4" strips instead of four 3" strips. This was one of those porjects that was much cuter in my mind than when I was finished, but maybe I lost perspective after spending so much time with them. Here's the front.
The first page
And the inside.
And since it looks like I'll be going to a lot of baby showers, I made a new batch of onesies. Since I love children's literature I like to give books as gifts, but it's fun to include a onesie with the character from the book on it. I just scan the character in, clean the graphic up and then print it on transfer paper and iron it on. It would totally break copyright law to sell them, but they're easy to make for personal use, and I think it's even more fun to make t-shirts with your kid's favorite book characters when your kids are a little older.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Feel the Love

I know a lot of people hate Valentine's Day because it's basically a commercial holiday, but I love it. A day when we're all encouraged to be as mushy and cheesy as we want to; who can resist? A day when teenage girls dream of gifts from a secret admirers, and elementary school kids passout valentine's with their favorite cartoon characters and their careful signatures, and you can see candy and hearts wherever you go.

My family only had one Valentine's Day tradition; my dad always bought a Valentine for everyone else in my family and wrote them a note about the ways they are special and how much he loves them. Getting a card from my dad in the mail is still one of the things I love most about Valentine's Day.

I realized that I don't really have any Valentine's Day decorations, and I think it's really hard to find something that's not too cutesy or cheesy, but I needed something around the house to put me in a festive mood. I decided on something to hang around our candelier so I bought this garland on sale ar JoAnn's. Then I cut it up and strung the hearts on plain fishing line. Yes, it is still pretty cheesy, but I can't resist red glitter.
And if you're thinking that I have too much free time on my hands, yes, I really do! Larry is really busy this month so I'm trying to entertain myself. I also made a few more baby shower invitations, watched the Gilmore Girls, went on a walk, and fixed one of our toilets (my dad, who celebrates Thomas Crapper's birthday (the inventor of the toilet) would be so proud).

Monday, January 22, 2007

For the love of stationary!

I woke up yesterday morning, got dressed and headed to the car thinking I should just make it to church on time, and then I opened my garage door to see this.
And the snow was just starting. It may not be exciting to a lot of you, but we haven't had the snow really cover the ground in Columbus once this winter so it was exciting to us (or to me anyway, Larry worked all weekend so he didn't even know that it snowed until quite awhile later).
I spent part of Saturday working on these invitations for a friend's baby shower. I kept them pretty simple to put together because I had to put together 38 of them. They took a while, but I'm happy with the results. (edited to add: I got the idea for the crying baby from another invitation and I just did my best to copy it figuring I'm not selling these so that should be legal. The rest I created myself)

I also recently got this invitation for my friend Alicia's wedding. I can't really take any of the credit because Alicia knew just what she wanted and had a sample so I only had to follow directions. I love the unusual shape of her photo. I can't wait to head to the wedding in a few weeks to see how her reception turns out because I love her style (plus, I love her so I just can't wait to see her and meet her fiance).

And for the few of you who haven't seen it, this was our Christmas card this year. The pictures that my sister Candice took are really what make the card and it only took her a few minutes to take them in front of her house, just as we were getting ready to head home. I printed them before we left for our trip in December, but I didn't notice that a lot of them didn't print well so I just barely got around to reprinting a few so some of you are about to get a really late Christmas card. I figure better late than never!

Friday, January 19, 2007

She's crafty

Just yesterday I was thinking I had nothing to blog about (I like to blame Larry's incredibly long hours this week), and now today I can't stop posting. My friend Laura and the Kiddley site both posted about an idea another blogger had that I think is brilliant!

Amy, the creator of these dolls, doesn't live my her sister Sarah so even though her kids talk to their Aunt Sarah on the phone, they didn't really have a visual of her so Amy got the idea to use a real picture of Sarah to create Aunt Sarah Dolls for her kids to play with.

Seeing a picture of a real person on a doll is a little bit freaky, but I also think it's such a fun idea for people like me who don't live by the rest of their family. I could make a whole family and baby Ford would grow up know what his realives look like. I was telling my mom about it last night and she said it would even been fun to use a picture of your child to create a doll version of themselves to play with.

For a while I've been thinking about all of the fun/cool things my friends know how to do that I'd like to learn (as I said, there's a lot that I wish I'd learned from my mom before I moved away and I don't want to end up feeling the same way after I move away from Columbus). I've been toying with the idea of starting a how-to group that meets once a month or something. My friends Melissa and Katie make the cutest hooded towels and Krissy's bags are amazing, and my friends Cat and Jessica can knit just about anything. I'm sure they wouldn't mind teaching a few other people and maybe they'd like to learn a few things too. I orginally got the idea while thinking about some home improvement jobs that I would like to attempt. Think about it; it would be great. Who ever was hosting could think of a project they wanted to do around their house and we could find someone to teach us to do whatever they chose and the whole group could help them finish the project or at least get started. The attendees would benefit by learning a new skill and the person hosting could get some help on their house. Anyway, I thought why not just make it a how-to group and we could learn all sorts of cool things, like how to plant bulbs in the fall or force them in the winter, how to tile a floor, how to create a basic website, and how to make a sock monkey. The possibilities are endless.

I realize there are a couple of flaws in this plan so far. First, I'm already in charge of the children's literature book club and I'm not sure I'm ready to be in charge of another group just as I'm preparing for the arrival of Baby Ford. And second, You really would have to limit the size of the group so that everone would have to have a chance to be hands-on or get a project done at their house and I hate excluding anyone so I'm not sure how you would manage that.

Anyway, if you were in a how-to group, what would you want to learn to do?


I've been meaning to post pictures of some of the graphic design projects that I've been working on lately, but I'm going to wait until I finish some baby shower invitations this weekend.

I love seeing things I designed out in the "real world". Granted, I see signs and ads I did for my office all the time, but there are only so many ways to advertise a building, and I often don't have the final say on the text so it's not always a thrill to see things like this in print in a newspaper or magazine.

Maybe that's why I loved getting this ad today that Creating Keepsakes/ScrapNfonts created for one of the card kits I designed for them (although I don't love all of the cards that they designed using the kit, but still it's just nice running across something and realizing that I made it).

Welcome to Lint City!

I finally finished the faux chenille or flannel chenille baby quilt that I've been working on so for those of you interested, here are some pictures and directions to make your own (the pictures are pretty bad, especially the out of focus closeups. sorry about that). The directions in black are from my friend Kelly's mom and the additions in red are my words of wisdom.

Chenille Quilt

1-1/4 yds. top flannel
4 yds. flannel in colors to match top flannel
1 yd. coordinating flannel for binding

Fold the top flannel at a 90 degree angle and press it for the starting of the stitching. Lay the top flannel face down and then layer the other four layers on top. I use the whole piece of 36" by 45" for the quilt. Pin it together with large safety pins for sewing. One set of directions that I read recommended spray basting the layers together with an adhesive they make for quilters that dissolves when you send it through the wash and I think that might work better than basting it with safetypins like I did.

You can't see it in the picture but I ironed the diagonal line, and then I went over it with a chalk pencil so I could clearly see it when I was sewing. I didn't think it mattered which side of the quilt faced up while I was sewing, but it does! Make sure you do the opposite of what I did and have the side that you will not be cutting face up. With so many layers, the fabric shifts a little as you sew and it's hard to feel if you have any wrinkles in the bottom layer of fabric. My top side looked better then the bottom in the end so I wished I'd sewn it with the pink side up. The layers won't line up perfectly, but wait to trim it square until after you've sewn your diagonal lines since the fabric will shift. My mom also recommended using a walking foot on your sewing machine to reduce the shifting, but it was too late for me. I'll have to try it next time.

Begin sewing on the pressed line and continue sewing at 1/2 inch intervals. It helps to hold and stretch the quilt so you don't get too many wrinkles in the bottom layer. I usually use a layer of white flannel next to the top flannel which you don't cut. Many sewing machines have guide arms that you can adjust to half an inch and line up with your last seam to show you where to sew, but my machine is pretty old so I couldn't find one for it. Instead I used half in quilters or masking tape and lined it up with the last line so I knew where to sew and my lines were straight.

After all the stitching is done, trim all around the quilt until all layers are even. You can see in my picture how mine had shifted and had to be trimmed square.

I cut through three layers of flannel (leaving two layers uncut) about 2 to 3 inches from all edges so it can be bound before the rest of the cutting is done. Some people just use scissors, but that's a whole lot of cutting and you have to be extremely careful not to cut through the bottom two layers. I picked up a slashing tool at JoAnn's that made this process so easy! You slide the long plastic part in between the layers that you want to cut and the layers that you don't and then slide it down the row.

Fold the binding flannel to get the bias and cut 4 strips of 2-1/2 inches for the binding through the middle of the piece of flannel so the strips are as long as possible. Sew the strips together on the bias and proceed to bind the quilt. This makes about a 1/2 to 5/8 inch binding all around. I like to mitre the corners so they are square. I'd go into explaining this, but I found the best tutorial on binding a quilt so I'll just refer you there.

Next you just wash and tumble dry the quilt and watch the chenille side bloom (and be prepared for massive amounts of lint!). Here's my finished product before washing it.

And here it is after the first round through the wash. It hasn't quite fully "bloomed" so I still need to wash it again, but I couldn't wait to show you. It's so incredibly soft and cozy! I only used two colors of flannel in this side (two white and two periwinkle) but you can make each layer a different color if you want to.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Welcome to 1997!

This weekend Larry and I finally had cable and an internet connection installed at our house. We really just needed to change our phone service and get an internet connection since I'll be doing some work from home soon, but it was about the same price to bundle in cable. All weekend Larry kept telling me, "Welcome to 1997. Now we're right on track to get cell phones in a couple of years when we hit 1999." (I promise it's not that we're that cheap; we don't want to watch too much tv so we didn't have cable, and Larry and I have both always had internet access at school and work and we wanted to avoid spending too much time online at home in the rare moments that we have to spend together).

I think Larry may have topped his longest shift record this weekend. He worked form 6 a.m. on Friday to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday (which is more than a little illegal, but he couldn't leave without treating all of his patients). He got home just in time to see our little visitors who spent the day entertaining me on Saturday.

Aren't they cute? They are extremely well mannered so watching them was pretty fun.
And now you get to meet my newest full-time companions:

They are not so cute! I had a meeting with a dietician and learned to test my blood-sugar levels this morning, right before I picked up a delicious birthday cake for a coworker from Mozart's bakery (Have you been there? It's amazing, but it's torture when you can't eat sugar). I have to head to the pharmacy tonight to pick up some more needles for the lancet. Yikes!

Friday, January 12, 2007

moving on to happy thoughts

I really don't have too much to say today because I did nothing after work yesterday but lay on the couch and moan and complain about how awful I felt. Then I spent all night waking Larry up with my coughing, which I felt really bad about since he has overnight call tonight, but he insisted on sleeping in the same room because he wanted to be there with me in case I needed anything. Poor guy, he wanted to help so much, but there was really nothing that either of us could do about it.

I'm feeling much better today and I've been on task all morning but my mind is beginning to wander as we get closer to the weekend. I have a few random things that that made me smile this week that I've been wanting to share. The first is this purse.

It may be my new favorite thing that I own. My friend Krissy made it for me for Christmas, and I've only used it a few times because I feel like I have to save it for special occasions because I don't want anything to happen to it. The inside is lined with soft, brown corduroy. I love having some super-creative friends and can't wait until I have more time to work on projects like this with Krissy. I heard a rumor that she will be selling bags like these soon so if you want one, now is the time to let her know.

Next is more cute baby bedding. I think I'm going to stick with the polka dot bedding from the Gap, but this bedding from Target is pretty cute too. You can't tell very well from the photo, but it's light blue and brown, not light blue and dark blue.

And third, these silver fortune cookies:

They're from Pottery Barn and they're meant to be place card holders, but they hinge open and you can leave notes in them or write your own fortunes. I think they are so cute and they would be fun to use to leave little notes around the house or in sack lunches. Mind you I can't afford the Pottery Barn Outlet let alone Pottery Barn, so I'm watching for them to go on sale.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Life far from home

Well, Monday was a bad day in Columbus. My day began by waking up at 4:00 a.m. and crying because I was in so much pain I thought my eardrum was going to burst and there was nothing that I could do about it, but take some more Tylenol. Things had eased up by the time 8:00 rolled around so I decided to try to go to work for a few hours because I’d already missed a lot of work the previous week for doctors appointments (not the most brilliant decision I’ve made). I got a call from my doctor around noon (you know it’s never a good sign when you get a call directly from your doctor instead of the office staff or a nurse). She was calling to tell me that I have gestational diabetes, but the good news is after just hearing me on the phone she wrote me a prescription for antibiotics and told me to go pick it up and go home.

At least I wasn’t the only grouchy one in Columbus after the Buckeye’s huge loss at the National Championship. I think the whole city is in mourning.

Both of my bosses were out of town for the football game and I was still feeling sick on Tuesday so I only worked a half day and spent the rest of the day at home. It worked out well because it gave me a chance to get some rest and start a new project, a baby quilt for one of my best friends who is having her first baby. I’m attempting to make a faux chenille quilt with flannel, which is going to take me longer than I thought, but I’m trying to remember to take pictures so I can show you when I’m done and give you directions if you want them. Keep your fingers crossed that it will turn out well because I don’t exactly know what I am doing. Attempting projects like this always make me miss my mom a little bit more. She is a craft genious and she knows how to do everything (yes, I mean everything: quilting, painting, decorating, basket weaving, book binding, home repairs, embroidery, and to top it all off she’s an interior decorator). I often look at my projects and I’m sort of glad that she can’t see them because I look at the little flaws and just know that she would find a way to fix even the tiniest mistake, but I’m just too lazy for that.

I think I get a lot of my creativity from my mom; she’s always working on several projects and I love that I can ask her what she’s working on at the moment and she always has a list of fun things. Interestingly enough, I didn’t learn to sew from my mom, I took lessons from a neighbor because my mom said that she didn’t have the patience to teach me, but I think it was better that way because that meant that sewing with her wasn’t a task, it was always just for fun. She gave me my first sewing machine for my tenth birthday and another one when I was a senior in high school, which I have never gotten along with so she gave me her old sewing machine after I moved to Columbus. She owned a quilt shop so our house was overloaded with fabric and other craft supplies, but she was always willing to take me out to get my own supplies for the various projects that I came up with: felt for clothes for my troll dolls, fabric for clothes for American Girl Dolls, she even traipsed to a bunch of second-hand stores with me in Hawaii when I went through my year of wanting to be a fashion designer and decided to make a dress out of men’s ties and then she helped me figure out how to make it work (I wish I had a picture of that one for you and I’m actually sitting here wondering if it would fit me if I cut it down into a skirt because it might actually be kind of cool).

Candice, Marissa, and I all agree that there’s so much more that we should have tried to learn from our mom when we were living close to her. I have to call her asking her how to do things I would much rather learn in person like, how do I scald with milk for your butterflake rolls, and if I’m using safety pins to baste a quilt, how far apart should they be? And I often find myself thinking, “If my mom were here, we’d work on this together.” She’d help me choose paint colors for the nursery, she’s show me how to bind this quilt, she’d give me advice on choosing tile for the bathroom . . .

Now that I’m having a baby I find myself wondering if I’ll gather skills over the next 20 years that will encourage my own child to call me for a little help. I hope so. It looks like I have a lot to learn and to explore.

Is there anything that you wish you’d learned from your mom when you were at home?

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Grand Turk

Originally our cruise was supposed to head to the Cayman Islands and then on to Jamaica, but after finding out that ten ships would be at the Cayman Islands on the same day, our cruise director changed plans so we went to Jamaica first and then we went the The Grand Turk. It really didn't make a difference to me since I didn't know anything about any of the islands, but I'm so glad they changed plans because they Grand Turk was my favorite part ofthe trip and I think the rest of my family would agree. Jamaica was fun but it was touristy and crowded and expensive. The Grand Turk couldn't have been more opposite. Their port for cruise ships was only built last year and there was only one other ship there. We took a taxi into town and then walked until we found a shop to rent snorkling gear. We hit the beach right outside the shop and it was beautiful. We spent the whole day there and felt like we were on a desserted island. Unfortunately, I didn't take many pictures so this is all that I have.

Here's Larry with the Conch shell that he found while snorkeling.

And here was are getting ready to go back to the ship.It was the perfect relaxing day. My parents said they're tempted to move to the Grand Turk now and I would love that because I would love to go back on vacation and spend more time there.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Our frist full day on the ship was Christmas Eve. We spent the day relaxing, eating, and becoming Who Wants to be a Millionaire Champs! (too bad we just got medals and not a million dollars). The boys insisted on wearing their medals to the formal dinner that night (ok, we were more semi-formal, but who wants to wear an evening gown when they are pregnant?)

Every night our steward left us an animal folded out of extra towels. He was pretty creative.
We spent Christmas Day in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We hired Duane to be our personal guide and then we headed to Dunns River Falls.
The Falls were amazing, but a little crowded . My family climbed the falls while I took the dry path since I couldn't risk falling. Here they are towards the bottom, just beginning their big climb.
And here they are about halfway up.
There were a few calm spot where I could slip in for a picture too.

After the Falls Duane took us around the island. We visited Fern Gully, toured a garden, visited the Spice Man, checked out the view from a good lookout point, and we even convinced him to take us to his house so my mom could hand out some toys she brought along for kids there.
On the way to Duane's house we ran into this creepy parade with people dressed in scary costumes. Duane said the parades are a tradition there on Christmas day left over from slavery days. It's not a tradition I'll be trying out at home.
After all of that we relaxed on the beach while we ate some jerk pork and then we headed back to the boat for a big Christmas dinner. I think I was pretty tired.

Welcome to Miami

We spent one night at home packing for our next trip and then Thursday, December 21st we flew to Miami. I booked the cheapest hotel room that I could find in the Art Deco District of South Beach and Larry loved the ultramodern room.
We met up with my parent to spend two days in Miami before we left on our cruise.

For just a quarter you can take a public bus in a circle around South Beach, but at the end of the line everyone has to get off and switch buses so the driver can take his/her break. There happened to be a Publix grocery store at the drop off, and I think visiting it was Larry's favorite part of the day because my family is all about trying the local cuisine so if you see something and you don't know what it is, of course you have to buy it. Mmmmmm, nothing like a beef-filled glazed turnover or a passionfruit and cheese turnover!After spending the morning exploring we headed to the harbor and took a boat tour of the homes of the rich and famous and spent some time shopping.

It was nice to spend that evening and the next morning just relaxing with my parents.

Then it was off to meet my little sister Marissa and her husband Mike for the cruise.

Has anyone else noticed that Larry likes to put his hand on my stomach in pictures as if anyone could miss that I'm six months pregnant?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New York, New York!

It only took about two hours to drive to New York. We stayed in a hotel right across the street from Carnegie Hall and were pleasantly suprised to find that our room was huge for a hotel room in the heart of New York. It was an easy walk to find the Ed Sullivan Theater to stand in line for the show. It turned out that they were taping two shows on Monday and we had tickets for the second show that would air on Friday. Firday was their big holiday show when Dave continues his holiday tradition of having Jay Thomas throw footballs at his Christmas tree to knock the meatball off of the top. We waited in line to check in and find out when to come back to the taping, and they noticed I am pregnant so they gave us tickets to pre-seat, which meant we got to sit in the lobby while everyone lined up outside, and we got to be the first guests in the theater. We still had a little time beforehand to walk around Times Square. It was so cool to be there after seeing it on TV so many times.

Of course Dave Letterman was great. Cate Blanchett was the other guest and Larry says that she's as creepy and unpersonable in real life as she is in movies. They had a huge Christmas number with a big choir at the end of the show, and it was fun to see them change the set. We loved that we recognized all the staff from seeing them on the show.

The next morning we headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and we could have easily spent a week there. I had to drag Larry away after a few hours so we would have time to see some of the other sites. We wanted to see a Broadway show, but we didn't want to pay full price. They have a TKTS booth near Times Square that sells reduced priced tickets the day of performances, but they don't open until 3:00, and people start lining up in the morning so you can wait for hours and still not see what you want to see. We opted to head to the new TKTS location in the Financial District, which worked out perfectly because it was on our way to see the Statue of Liberty and they opened earlier so you could get better tickets to plays that you actually wanted to see AND there were only about five people in line when we got there. There were lots of plays to choose from, but thanks to Mark's advise, we chose the Drowsy Chaperone. Then we took a nice walk along the waterfront to the Statue of Liberty Ferries. We decided just to admire the Statue of Liberty from the shore because it was too cold to take a ferry so sadly this is the best picture that we have.

That gave us just enough time to make it to Rockafeller Center at dusk so we got to see the tree during the day and at night along with the Windows at Saks Fifth Avenue across the street. I loved seeing all of the decorations on Fifth Avenue.

Then it was just a short walk to the Donnell Children's Library, where I got to meet Betsy, the author of my favorite Children's lit blog Fuse #8. I've been serving on the Middle Grade Fiction Cybil Award committee with her so it was nice to meet her in person and get a personal tour of the library (scary picture of me, but Betsy looks cute).

They have an amazing collection, but a lot of it is not open to the public because they don't have the funding to catalogue it. One of the coolest things that they have on public display are the original stuffed animals that inspired Winnie the Pooh.

As if all of that wasn't enough, we got to spend the evening watching A Drowsy Chaperone starring Sutton Foster who got a Tony (I think) for playing Millie in Thouroughly Modern Millie. It was hilarious; a musical even Larry enjoyed. We had a little time left over to wander Time's Square and the place that entertained me the most was Charmin's advertising ploy. There were two escalators between stores with a huge sign above them that said something like, "If you've gotta go in New York, Go in Style." and then inside it said, "Charmin's holiday gift to New York City: Free Public restrooms" And there was a really happy guy dancing in front of it singing about how if you have to go, go here. The escalators take you up into a huge room lined with bathrooms and Charmin employees went in after each guest to clean them and periodically they all cheered as someone entered a bathroom. Weird. They had flat screen tv's for the people waiting in line with footage of the Charmin Bear traveling around the city, donating money to homeless people, riding the subway etc. Then around the rest of the room that had a stage for people to dance to the Charmin music and a picture area where you could get your picture taken on a sled with the Charmin bear and several fake fireplaces with lots of extra seating. They even have there own web site. Too funny!

We headed back home the next morning, but we could resist a stop in Hershey since it was on our way home.