There’s nothing like a party to inspire some spring cleaning, and I’ve been trying to declutter while I’m at it. I have a stack of books I plan to list on Paperback Swap, and another to donate to the library. Once upon a time I thought it was better to sell used books, but for the price… unless it’s a rare book I find it’s more convenient to do something else.

So tomorrow is the big day, and we’re pretty much all set. I have to make macaroni & cheese and a salad in the morning, but goodness knows I’ll be up early enough where that won’t be a problem. The weather is supposed to be very warm, so I plan on having everyone eat on the deck. The kids will all enjoy running around and playing on the swings, so that will work out great! Let’s just hope everything else falls into place.

counting down to one

It seems as though I have Saturday’s party pretty well under wraps. There are just a couple last-minute items to pick up tomorrow. I also need to do a quick-tidy of the house and do some food prep. Then I’ll move onto the next party: Laura’s first birthday! I can’t believe it’s just about a month away. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was getting my spinal and having a pulse oximeter placed on my finger before the c-section. (I’m glad I will never have to go through that again.)

I bought invitations a while ago, but now I can’t remember where I put them. I am also still undecided about the cake. Do I make it? Do I buy it? Honestly, I’m not the most fantastic baker. I’m probably better off ordering a cake, but we’ll see. In the meantime I need to figure out a gift for her and find a cute birthday outfit 🙂

deep breaths

I will be so glad when this week is over. Jake’s first Communion is on Saturday and everything is annoying me. Today the students had a retreat. Yes, that’s right. On a Tuesday afternoon. And no, they don’t go to Catholic school. So I had to write a note to pull Jake out for something that, in my opinion, would have been better suited to a Saturday morning or afternoon.

When we picked up our kids we got a note with very specific instructions for the day. Girls are not to wear gloves or carry purses (common with girls’ dresses). Children are not allowed to carry prayer books or rosaries. And they are not allowed to carry flowers. Now, I ordered a boutonniere for Jake’s suit. If someone tells me he has to take it off, I can’t even begin to tell you how I’m going to lose it.  It’s not something to be carried; it’ll be pinned onto his lapel. Let’s hope this doesn’t present an issue.

I also have to laugh over the issue of the tickets. There are only like 10 or 12 kids making their first Communion this year, so apparently the number of tickets each family gets is large compared to previous years. I’ve never known a church to give out tickets for an event such as this to begin with, but hey – whatever. But when I checked out the tickets, I had to laugh. They are each embossed with the church’s seal, as if counterfeit tickets are going to be hot on the Rhinebeck streets. “Oh, yeah — I’ll take two for the side, a whippet, and can you throw in some human growth hormone too?” Seriously, people.

I just remind myself that I’ve made it this far and there’s only a couple days left to go.

pimple popper, m.d.

Ha! I just had to share this. One of the sites I write for has a lot of “how to” articles. I’ve written on things like “How to add Twitter updates to your website” and “How to flavor olive oil for dipping.” There are a lot of really bad topics, though. This one is right up there: “How to pop blackheads.” Ewww!

First of all, popping pimples is a big no-no and a good way to get an infection. If someone really wants to look for blackheads treatment, squeezing is not the way the way to go. I wonder if anyone actually wrote that article up. I can only imagine the photo they chose to go with it, LOL!

a “yay” moment

I gained a few pounds on our vacation at the beginning of March and I’ve been trying to whittle them off, as well as those last few pounds that are keeping me from my goal weight. And while the scale hasn’t really tilted heavily the way I want it to (a little, but it could go down a little more, a little faster – heh), seems I must be doing something right because I bought new jeans on Friday, and they are a size smaller than I’ve bought in a long time! Oddly enough, I also had to buy the “short” length because the “medium” length was really long! Anyway, I’m just happy for my progress. I’m lucky I don’t need to rely on weight loss products to get there. I know how hard it is to lose weight, especially when you can’t easily make time to put yourself first and work out like we all know we should.

wip: connecticut river wrap

wip: connecticut river wrap Is there anything better than shopping for yarn at Webs? Perhaps only shopping with a gift card! Yesterday my mom and I went to my favorite yarn store so I could burn up a gift card that had been sitting in my jewelry box since last Mother’s Day. I fell in love with this Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Baby Suri & Silk that I found discounted in the back room. The colors are not my usual palette, but something about them called to me. Plus, the yarn is so super soft. I even caught my dad petting it 😉

While we were there, we saw a dress form “wearing” a white tank with a lacy shawlette over it. It looked so pretty and summery and my mom and I instantly knew that is what this yarn is destined for. I decided on the Autumn Splendor Wrap. I think I might make it just a little bit wider and put an edging on it for my shawl.

And are you wondering about the name? Well, I’m taking a page from my friend, The Garden Belle‘s book. She always comes up with these clever names for her projects. This name is inspired by both the colors of the yarn and the place where I bought it (where I grew up), in the beautiful Pioneer Valley. The Connecticut River runs through it and since you have to cross the Coolidge Bridge (which spans the Conn. River) to get to Webs from my parents’ house… ta-da! There you have it. I also happen to think that the blues and greens look like river and riverbed colors, and the orange looks like a summer sunset. I’m a couple rows into the wrap and so far, so good.

I also bought a few balls of Classic Elite Cotton Bam Boo. I just love the feel of bamboo blends.

Lately I feel very inspired and only wish I had the time to complete projects for my Etsy shop (that I’d planned to launch back in October). I’ve designed business cards and post cards, all with a cute logo. But I have yet to find a reason to put them to use! Someday I’ll find the time. But until then, I’ll keep plugging away one project at a time.

skirting the issue

Today I decided I wanted to sew. I don’t know why today. Honestly, it was a poor choice of a day considering that Drew was at the office and I had, like, a zillion things to do. That point notwithstanding, I originally intended to sew myself up a new tank top using one of the patterns I bought a couple weeks ago. I unfolded it. And I looked at it. And something didn’t seem quite right. As it turned out, the pattern was for size 14 and up. (Same with another pattern I’d purchased — boo!) Currently I’m about an 8 top and a 10 bottom (thank you, three children, for spreading out my hips to ridiculous proportions). A size 14 would not fit no matter how I tried to make it.

So. Onto Plan B. Amy Karol’s 5 minute skirt. I’d purchased some wicked cheap clearance fabric ($1/yard) to try this out, that way if things didn’t go well, I wasn’t out that much. The pattern was easy to figure out, and after taping together four sections of newspaper I had it ready to trace onto my fabric. It seemed a little wide. Am I really that wide? Maybe I should seriously investigate curvatrim reviews. I was feeling rather… er… hourglass. But in the end it all came together quite nicely!

5 min. (no wait, 5 hr.) skirt

5 min. (no wait, 5 hr.) skirt

Of course, when you look at the head-on shot in my dirty closet mirror, you can see that the A-line does indeed make me look a bit wide.

5 min. (no wait, 5 hr.) skirt

Next time I make this (and yes, oh yes there will be a next time), I won’t make the angle quite so obtuse. And just for the record, when you set down to make a 5 minute skirt with a 10 month old and a 4 year old and some errands to run, it will take you closer to 5 hours. But hey — any project I can finish in a day is a good one in my book!

birthday day!

Well, I think I pulled off a successful birthday for my husband today. For dinner I made (his choice) hot & sour soup and a copycat version of P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps. I’d never made the lettuce wraps before but they came out really good and I know I’ll be making them again. Truthfully, it’s been so long since I last had them (and I think the one time I had lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang’s they were actually the vegetarian ones), so I can’t vouch for how close they resemble the restaurant dish. But with some tweaking to the recipe I used, I think I stumbled onto a good thing. I positioned them as “Asian tacos” to get the boys to try them. Noah wouldn’t eat it, but Jake thought they were pretty good. Progress. For dessert I bought a chocolate crunch cake from Holy Cow, a local ice cream shop in Red Hook. Oh, the deliciousness! We all enjoyed it. I expect Drew and I to enjoy another slice after the kids are in bed 😉

The weather was beautiful today and if it were just slightly warmer we could have eaten on the deck. Speaking of which I would really like to spruce it up before Jake’s first Communion. I need to clean our patio cushions and get my planters going. While the idea of outdoor rugs is appealing, I wonder just how weatherproof they really are. And I don’t need to go crazy here. Just some pansies or petunias will make a big difference.

I think tonight we’ll just hang out. I am exhausted this week for some reason. I think an evening vegging out with a movie sounds pretty good.

weekend sewing: coupon organizer

I’ve been on the lookout for a new coupon organizer. I hate using the plastic and paper ones because they never last and most of them are kind of ugly. For a while I used the binder system, but found it difficult to maintain. I just couldn’t be bothered slipping each coupon into its own individual slot. I do use coupons pretty much every time I shop, though, and pulling them out of a mailing envelope just wasn’t working for me.

I thought I could find a pattern for a coupon organizer that folds over the handle of the cart, but I didn’t have a lot of luck. I found this pattern, which I used as a starting point and I eventually came up with this design.

This is the front. As you can see I opted for a rounded flap. I used the curve of a dinner plate for my template. I sewed in a short length of elastic to use as a organizer

And here’s the back. I hand-sewed the button onto the organizer. To close it, bring the elastic around from the bottom. To attach it to the handle of your shopping cart, just bring it around from the organizer

Another front view (image my dining room chair was a shopping cart): coupon organizer

And from the back:coupon organizer

I had a chance to try it out over the weekend. I used it once at CVS and once at Stop & Shop and I have to say that not only did I feel quite frugal and organized, but I also felt pretty stylish because I really like this fabric. Oh, one other thing. Instead of using fusible interfacing, I sandwiched a piece of cotton flannel between the inner and outer fabric. Because my bag tends to contain things like sippy cups and snacks, I wanted the organizer to be washable in case when it gets stained. This was a very quick and easy project.