Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chicago for our 15th Anniversary

This was the first time David and I had made it to the Windy City together, since high school. Twenty-two years ago we (and about 20 other kids and chaperones) spent a week at Moody Bible Institute for something called S.E.M.P. It was fun to explore the city as adults this time and remember a few of the places we had been back in the day.

The catalyst for the trip, beside our anniversary of course, was that the Tall Ships would be there that week-end. They make the long trek through the Great Lakes every 3 years. We plan to take the kids to see them in Duluth next time.
 
But first we made a stop in Rockford Illinois to stop by Urban Farmgirl. I purchased a couple of chalkboard prints for the girls' room.


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We ate at Gino's East for dinner that night which we laughed about the rest of our trip. Had I known the d├ęcor would be similar to walking into my high school bathroom, with graffiti all over the walls, I think we would have picked somewhere else. Live and learn...
 
The first day was all about the boats.

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“Oh Hi!”

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We also got to take in a bit of the Chicago Match Cup. David has a deep love for sailing so he was definitely in his element. I on the other hand get seasick at the drop of a hat.

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While at Navy Pier David said "I know that voice! Where do I know that voice from?" I tell ya, my guy can't remember a name for his life, but voices he gets down pat. As soon as he figured it out we started looking and sure enough behind us was a guy that sits a few cubes over from him. They eat lunch at the same time every day too. Did he remember his name? Of course not! But we said "Hi" and found out that they also had tickets to see our Twins beat the White Sox that night.
Small world!
 
The next morning, after a dose of Dramamine, we were ready for the 8am Architecture Boat Cruise. Which we highly recommend! Though I’m sure having a good tour guide makes all the difference. Ours was a young guy that does these tours in the summer between teaching high school history. He's starting his 2nd year of teaching and I bet his students adore him. He was phenomenal. Later,  as we were walking along the river we heard another tour guide ask the people on his boat “So, what do you want to know?” followed by silence. Ummm…yeah, glad we weren’t on his boat.

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"Hey, this sailboat is cheating!" 
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I wish I could remember the name of this next building (the one in the middle), but I do know that the architect won some amazing awards and it’s designed to look like water is flowing down the side. And some of those curvy balconies jut out 13’ which is some sort of record. Very neat!

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Of course we had to walk over to Millenium Park too. Where we were surprised to see they offer free aerobics in the park on Saturday mornings.  No, we did not join them.

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The Bean!

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I had to fight the urge to run to the nearest drugstore and purchase lots of Windex and paper towels.

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Across the street we saw this. Starbucks was infinitely busier inside. Poor Caribou, we love you too.

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We took an hour or so to hang out in this shady spot. It was a scorcher for sure.

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The last big thing we did was get to a Chicago Fire game. These stadiums look so much bigger on t.v.  At lease at home they don’t come with kids smoking weed 2 seats down from you.
Oh I was SO mad when I figured that out!

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I learned 3 things:
 
I'm not a Foody. Of course we ate at several restaurants throughout our 3 days there, but honestly the most enjoyable meals we had were at Chick-Fil-A for lunch both days.
When you come from having the Mall of America in your backyard, Michigan avenue just doesn't have the same appeal it might otherwise.
I also discovered that I’m not a big city kind of girl. Bettcha didn’t see that one coming. ;) The noise and the crowds really got to me and I couldn’t wait to leave.
 
We certainly enjoyed our time away, celebrating 15 years of marriage. And a big thanks to my mom for giving the kids their own mini-vacation at her house. Now we are just trying to eek all the fun we can out of the last few days of summer here. The leaves are already starting to change.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Christmas in July and some bedtime reading

I am making great progress on our Christmas stockings. You know, the ones that were supposed to be finished last year. I'm on my final kid stocking and then I can add their names and pick a fabric for the lining.
 
Here is Emily's. She loved this stocking, but it felt incomplete with only two children on it. So I drew another girl to cover the dog that we don't have, and it's turning out pretty neat. She's almost done but I'll wait for the full reveal until it's complete. I also have Sam's finished stocking to show you as well.
Bucilla Vintage Christmas Stocking photo
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Bucilla Christmas Stocking photo
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This morning Emily came to me with a stack of books and said "this is what I read last night after going to bed." I asked how she had enough light to read. "I found my flashlight." Where there is a will, there is a way. I'm impressed that she read all of those in one sitting. So much for an early bedtime to catch up on the sleep she missed over the week-end.

We are doing reading challenges at both our library and Barnes and Noble this year. Plus I added another for them since both of those felt too fluffly. If they read 100 books before school starts, they will get a prize. We only started that a couple of days ago and I think we have just 50 days left before school. But they are rocking it at 20-30 books already a piece.

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Here is the stack she wanted to read in addition last night but got too sleepy. Quite ambitious I'd say.

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We have another trip to the library planned today as we have read all the ones we have out now. Reading really took off for Emily last year and Allison is following suit. At the beginning of the year she wasn't quite through with reading at a kindergarten level and now she is beyond 3rd grade.

I just acquired a sore throat so reading and stitching will be a nice speed for the rest of the day. I personally am reading the Sue Grafton alphabet mysteries and am on letter J. Funny to read books from the 1980's. I keep thinking "if only she had a cell phone with her, those last few paragraphs would have been pointless." Ha!

What are your kids up to this summer? Are you making them read too? We are also doing math flashcards to get quicker at simple addition and subtraction and Allison is going to write a letter to her teacher next week in response to a letter she just sent us, to let her know about the work she is doing.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The final four TaDollies have flown the coop.

These four beauties are leaving today. Two little boys will be adopted soon from Ethiopia, by two Moms in waiting that are good friends. I love that they will each have a built in little buddie in each other.
 
And two little girls will soon be holding their new friends. They are as cute and bubbly as I'm sure their namesakes are.
 
Thank you to everyone who has supported my little business by ordering dolls these past couple of months. You got us through a challenging time and I enjoyed making every single one of them.
 
I made 16 dolls in the past 3 months!
 
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A few weeks ago, these gorgeous ladies graduated college together. Abby gave her best friends a doll to match their personality and her mom gave Abby one to keep as well. They have a lifetime of friendship before them. I pray that they will continue to uphold each other and be one another's biggest fan.

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*Sydney, Grace, Abby and Jazz

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Dolls are done! Next it's on to poodle skirts for our VBS play. But that's after a six day trip to Mississippi, by way of St. Louis and Memphis, with my mom for my cousin's wedding. I am looking forward to lots of great fellowship, food, fun, sun and sleep! And hearing about the adventures David and the kids have while I'm gone. ;)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Final TaDollies {In the Shop}

With only nine weeks left of school I'm running out of time for doll making. When I took them out of the shop a bit ago I had four inquaries about when they would next be available. So in an effort to not do that to you again (stop abruptly, that is), I have devised a plan to let you know exactly how many more I can make.

I have made separate listings for each doll I have time for in my schedule. They are all numbered with "sell by" and "ship by" dates in their titles. Basically I have 7 weeks of sewing time and can make two dolls per week. If any one doll doesn't get ordered by her "order by" date, she will not be made. When they are gone, they are gone. I will not be making anything custom over the summer or until after next Christmas. Life just gets too hectic over here. Plus I have a goal of making two more quilt tops for myself and then quilting all three. Sounds dreamy!
 
So, if you'd still like a doll, hop on over to {my shop} and snatch one up.

You can even order her as a mermaid.  Eeek!
 
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p.s. If you have any questions, please note that my daughter is having her tonsils removed tomorrow so it may take me a day or two to get back to you, but I will. Thanks!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Another Sweet Doll...


...for another sweet girl.
 
She loves purple and her mom sent me the cutest line of purple fabrics to work with.
I added velvet ribbon (I recently bought light pink, hot pink and more turquoise) and vintage blue flower buttons. Isn't she adorable?

I especially love the addition of the extra border at the bottom. Her name would have been swalloed up by the house print so this was my solution.
 
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I tell ya I get to work with some of the neatest people.
Thank you HeidiLynne for sharing your story with me!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Making a Dollie {Tips and Tricks}

This little cutie went home last week. And as I was making another one this week I hought I'd share a couple of tips about doll making.
 
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If you've ever thought about creating one yourself, Nicole Owen's free pattern can be found {here}.
I have tweaked it some by adding the skirt, bodice bib, pocket and different hand shape. But the process is the same and the basic pattern is brilliant.
One of the hardest parts is sewing the arms and legs into the seems. The kind of hard that can leave you scratching your head wondering why you ever thought you could make a doll in the first place. But really it's only that way if you stuff the legs and arms as full as I do. I like a more plump doll. And for my own girls I didn't stuff them very much and I have regretted it to the point of redoing them.
So, if you are in to stuffing, I suggest you stuff the arms and legs to the top and then use your finger to push it way down so you have about an inch open at the top. Then pin it there so the stuffing stays down. This will make the portion that lays inside the seem lay as flat as it can. I also like to stitch those seems with my zipper foot so I can have less of my foot in the way. When the side of your foot butts up to the stuffed apendage you will be tearing your hair out and then tearing the seem out. Trust me.

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{Psst...I've been drolling over this ^ sweet stack of fabrics lately. I think it wants to be a chevron striped quilt top with alternating white stripes, don't you?}
The last tip that I only just realized a couple of months ago is to attach the arms first and then the legs. I can't beleive I had been doing that backwards all these years. It seriously helps to not have the legs in the way when you are lining up the arms perfectly. Duh!
The next tweak I may give the pattern is to make the body itself 1/2-1" wider than I have been. It gets really tight around the base of my machine once the skirt has been added and I'm sewing ribbon to her waist.
Anywho...just thought you'd like to know. :)
I'll have another little lady to share with you tomorrow.
{SHOP NOTE} If you'd rather have me make your wee one a doll, I'll be taking more orders in 2 weeks. Allison is having her tonsils and adnoids removed next Tuesday so I'll be helping her recover first. Thankfully it's spring break next week, but she'll have to miss school for another week after that. She's nervouse as you can imagine so prayers would be much appreciated. After that, I'll have about 6 weeks left before school is out (yikes!) which will put a stop to any new orders for quite a while with the exception of an occasional ready-to-ship item as I have time.
Thanks for your support of TaDa! these past two months. I hadn't really intended to open up again, but because of you and some ebay sales I did, we were able to replace our stove and save for Allison's surgery. The glass top cracked recently so we were eating a lot of waffles and crock pot meals. Now my counters are clear of alternate cooking devices. Yay! ;)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Paris Paws {In the Shop}


Ready to ship,for sale!
{Here}
 
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Monday, March 4, 2013

Mermaids {Cuteness Overload}

 
These pieces left this morning. For a special little girls' birthday.
 
Or Easter basket if her mama can wait that long. ;)
 
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I'll be making a couple of these skirt and tank sets as partial customs soon.

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Each little water bubble has a bead and sequin sewn to it to catch the light.

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The tail on her hat is made from fabric that sparkles a bit.

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This TaDollie was really fun to make.
 
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I'm glad she could see my vision just from this drawing. Hehe...

I hope I nailed it for her.



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I'm diggin the new rounded head. How about you?

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Love these ruffles and the huge ric rac that reminds me of ocean waves.

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And of course these vintage buttons from my aunt's stash.
*swoon*

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I'm exhausted! Time to clean up the tornado that is all around me.

Creativity and a neat house rarely go hand-in-hand. 

But it is sew worth it, I think.

*sigh*

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stitching in the Ditch {Tips and Tricks}

 
I was making this skirt a few days ago and as I did something I thought "I wonder if other people do this too?" You might think it's overkill, but I do still think it's a good idea.

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So I'm sure you already know to use non-roll elastic for waistbands. Right? Don't you hate when a waistband gets all wonky inside the casing? Non-roll and this step I'm explaining here both make that impossible. Another reason to love handmade. :)
 
So what I usually do is "stitch in the ditch" along the side seams. If they are pants, you don't need to do it to all four seam, the two side seams should be plenty good.
 
Start a few stitches down from the top and then backstitch to the top and then back down to the bottom of the casing, making sure to backstitch again. Pull the threads to the inside and tie them off. Easy peasy!

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When you hold the seam like this, you can see that the stitches are very close to the seam. If you can get them right on top, even better. But it can be a little tough to be exact since you have to also pull the elastic/fabric flat while you are stitching. It's only noticeable below because I am folding it backwards, which you don't do when it's being worn. Right?

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When the piece lays flat it's virtually invisible.

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Now you've just secured the elastic, which I think prolongs the life of the garment.
Win win!