Monday, May 30, 2011

Latest Projects

Little reversible bonnets for two new baby girls. Tutorial found here on Sew, Mama, Sew. I could not find the picot-edge bias tape anywhere, so just did without. Also, for the second of the two, I just used some cute ribbon instead of small bias tape for the back. I like that much better.

Another diaper cover from Dana's tutorial.

Pacifier clips. This also came from Dana but posted here on Sew, Mama, Sew.

We love having these car seat strap covers (also reversible) for Rhett so I made a couple for Betamax. Tutorial found here at the Michael Miller blog. But note, if you do these, cut your bias tape to 27 or even 28 inches. I really struggled with their suggested 24.

And the Father's Day suspenders. Rhett's came from a tutorial found here at Moda's Bake Shop. A note about these: NO WAY did they just use 29" and have them come up on that little boy as far as they did. Rhett's no tall boy and his are about as long as they get; no room for growing there. I would recommend just cutting the strips to be the width of your fabric and using that instead.

For Chuck's, however, I couldn't find a tutorial for adult men and the pattern I bought was horrible (why do I keep buying crappy patterns?!). Instead I went to the thrift store, found some suspenders, unpicked them, inserted my own fabric, and put them back together. Isn't that awesome?! All for the bargain price of $1.49 + tax. Seriously, I couldn't have bought the hardware for that cheap. Sweet. Rhett's matching bow tie is complete; unfortunately the hardware has proven a bit hard to find for Chuck's tie. But I think Etsy is helping me out.

Friday, May 27, 2011


I don't wax poetic much on this blog about others. You won't see a Mothers' Day tribute to my mother or grandmother, nor happy birthday wishes to the greatest sister on earth. It's just not something I do. (I'm much better at boasting about myself.) But today I'm going to break that and say something nice about my parents: DANG did they set a good example about money.

I don't really remember them sitting me down and teaching me about saving accounts and credit cards, even though I'm sure they did. But I do remember that they never paid a penny in credit card interest. I do remember that they paid cash for as much as possible. (Don't believe me? My dad still pays cash for gas. I don't even know how one does this.) I do remember that they try to pay off each mortgage way before the 30 years (or whatever). Thankfully all of this rubbed off.

Even though Chuck wasn't so much of a budgeter when we got married, he has quickly seen what a benefit this is to us and is fully on-board and supportive of my (and now "our") financial ways. I am just so thankful that when crap arises, we have savings.

Why this, why now? Among other things, someone stole my debit card number and PIN and was able to use it to withdraw $300 from our checking account this week. Thankfully, the bank smelled a rat when the guilty (but slightly richer) party tried it again for $500 and shut him/her down. And guess what? We're not even responsible for that money. Of course I don't really think I'm at fault, seeing as though the card was still in my possession, but should the bank be? No matter. Had we been responsible, guess what? We have savings. Sure, I'd rather spend it on new countertops or trips west, but that's what it's for. (Remember just months ago when we had to spend nearly half of our tax return on car repairs? BLECH.) Hooray for saving money!

And kinda related: did anyone else out there see this? It's quite interesting. (Click on it to enlarge.) I am the biggest proponent of people studying something they love and are passionate about in college. I got a degree in geography too, remember? But sometimes it's hard to think about all the money we could be making had Chuck liked, or even been able to tolerate, working with his computer science degree. It's crazy to see where those computer/math numbers are. Hooray for math!

Sorry for the boring topic, but like I said, it's been on my mind. Stay tuned for next week when I share some projects, including one just in time for Fathers' Day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Things Rhett Says

As we're cleaning the playroom...
Rhett: Mom, I'm a little old. When I crouch down, my body doesn't feel very good.

Rhett: I don't love you Mom. I like you and I like Dad, but I don't love you. I only love Bruno because he's so funny.
Me: Well, that makes me a little bit sad. But I love you anyway.
Rhett: Now I love you. That was just when I was 1 and 2.

Rhett: Maybe we can buy one of those strollers from the store with the bridge! [In reference to a double jogging stroller at Hudson Trail, an REI-like store.]
Me: Well, they are kind of expensive.
Rhett: Don't worry; they will be on sale.

Chuck wanted to make chocolate chip cookies with Rhett. Then we realized we didn't have enough butter. Everyone was pretty disappointed.
Rhett: Why don't we make something else that's bad for us?

Rhett has lost interest in street signs as of late. He still notices "NO" signs, however (you know, anything with a red circle and a line through it). "No what, Mom?" he constantly asks. But he's moved on to the weather page. Every day that I read the paper in front of him, he demands (at first, and then asks nicely) to see the weather page. Then he informs me of the five-day forecast and shows me where it's going to be hot and where it's going to be cold. Just Monday he told the check-out lady at Safeway that he "saw thunder." I was confused at first, but then he explained that he saw thunder on the weather page. Ahh, I see.

Also recently he's changed his mind about being a dentist when he grows up. Now he wants to be a dad. Why the dentist? Because he got to play with all those cool mirrors! Why a dad? Don't know!

Every night after reading books, singing songs, saying prayers, taking last drinks of milk, brushing teeth, and getting tucked into bed, Rhett gets two stories, one from each of us. Problem is, we've been doing these stories for a long time and we've run out of ideas (we're math nerds, remember, not creative writers). So now we've resorted to having Rhett give us ideas. Here are some recent ideas Rhett has given us:
1. A story about a little boy in a mouth.
2. A story about an astronaut dad who got hit by a world and broke all his bones.
3. A story about any part of your body.
4. Any story about anything in his room that he sees at that moment, whether it be a picture on the wall or the fan on the ceiling. You can't guess how many stories I've told about a fan walking the streets.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Crafting Inspiration

While in Utah, I asked my oh-so-wise cousin Nicole to suggest a fabric shop. In Maryland, there are only three that I frequent. One is JoAnn, the other is G Street, and the last is Capitol Quilts. While the latter two have some fun designer fabrics, I knew Utah could do better. And I knew Nicole would know where. And boy did she.

She recommended two shops: Pine Needles at Gardner Village and another one in South Jordan called Material Girls. Both stores were absolutely lovely. And fun. And fresh. And happy. And just like all the fun craft blogs I read. It was like stepping into my Google Reader. Seriously, they were amazing and I can't thank Nicole enough.

I got so much inspiration from the beautiful things and beautiful fabrics. Now I just have to decide where to start!

Even though I swore I wouldn't do a quilt for Betamax, this tempts me. Strongly.

Piano runner, anyone?

Another fun boy quilt. Love the cars. Even Rhett said it was "so cute." (It says "VROOM" on it.)

Rhett loves him some party hats. And because this one is made from fabric, I love it too.

Have you seen a more fun table runner? I have not.

Cutest skirt ever. Emily, do your girls need matching ones for any reason? Christmas? Family pictures?  Flag Day?

If only my laundry room was not so blah. This would totally go in it.

An inspiring way to use applique.

Just some beautiful fabric that I'd love to find an excuse to buy.

A cool quilt. Love me some squares. And geometry.

A puffy little banner. This one was the only thing that tempted me beyond that which I could bear. So I bought a charm pack with the hopes of making something similar for Betamax.

Now I just have to figure out which one to start with! I think the banner. Excuse me while I await nap time so I can get started.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Week in Review

Last Thursday I got word that my maternal grandmother passed away. As I'm not one for sentimental stuff, especially on the blog, I'll leave that to my sister (sorry if you don't have access). But to be terse, my grandmother was 93 and lived a great life that was full of family, friends, and tons of travel. I should only be as lucky. She'd been a widow for nearly 30 years and legally blind for the past 20 of them. If this happens to me, I'm 100% positive I would not be as complaint-free as this dear woman was.

I was fortunate to be able to go to Utah for the funeral. Having a husband who is totally supportive of this, even if it means he's a single dad for five days, meant the world to me. It was such a great opportunity to spend with my entire family (yep, even Derek made it down from AK).

It was a busy time, filled with cleaning, organizing, research....all of it done by my parents and aunt and uncle. And done while I got to sleep alone in my own bed and wake up when my body told me. Yes, we were busy, but it was good busy, and I didn't have to worry about whether Rhett would be okay if he missed his nap. Or if he would be miserable because we had to spend all day in the car (remember, my parents moved to beyond Park City, so our daily or twice-daily trips to Salt Lake took some time).

I even got to hang out with good friends and just be Erin again, not mom. I'm saddened by how happy this made me. Of course, when I finally got home late Wednesday, I was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to kiss my boys. Rhett, however, quickly dispelled my mirth the next morning about whining incessantly about wanting cereal for breakfast ("But Rhett, it's not a day that starts with S! NO cereal!")

The weather mostly cooperated. My final two days in Utah even contained some snow and Maryland-like rains, but hey, it's FAR better than the humidity to which I returned on Wednesday.

The only bad part (note: I didn't say sad part) of the trip was when my conscientiously-packed carry-on bag was forced to be checked at the gate, causing me great distress at the thought of having to wait that extra 45 minutes for my bag. Can I just say that I hate airlines? (Except for Frontier; they had freshly-baked cookies.) All of that was (nearly) forgotten when who should appear on my second leg home? Camie, my dear friend and former roommate. Our chatting made the four-hour flight speed by.

And the sad part of the trip was knowing that it was my grandmother's passing that had to bring to pass the family reunion. But I'm pretty sure she was watching us from heaven with her dear husband, and happy to see us with her own eyes.

This is a shot of my grandparents and their family (minus my uncle who was yet to join our group when this picture was taken.)

Last week's pictionary? Hacker!

Friday, May 13, 2011


Good morning! A couple of weeks ago we played Pictionary for mutual. Let's see how sharp your brain (or how un-bad my drawing) is. Can you guess what this is supposed to be?

Update on the nameless babe: I hung the list of my top 12 names on the fridge to see if Chuck warms up to any of them. If not, he can add his own. Meanwhile, I continue to hunt for more. Unfortunately celebrities are not being helpful. Mariah Carey gave me Moroccan and Monroe and Alicia Silverstone used Bear Blu. Come on people. Give me something I can use. Like Social Security's "Popular Name Index." Although, when I used that coupled with the Excel random number generator, I got the name of one of my nephews. No can do Excel! And when I retried, I got Brody. Meh.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Camping, Take 2

Can you believe I went camping and didn't take one picture? In fact, I took less than one; I took none. So sad.

How could this happen? Picture it: Maryland, 2011. Thursday before camping (t minus 1 day) I worked all day. No time for prep there. Friday of camping (d-day) I spent all morning with doctors. You know, regular OB appointment, sonogram (yep, still a nameless boy, but one with all necessary body parts--score!), followed by a rhogam shot that took forever. I come home and put the little one down for a nap, but really, what packing can I do? I can't do necessary grocery shopping because I'd be leaving him in the house alone (no, Bruno can't babysit, we've tried). So instead I get the rest of the stuff ready. And as soon as Chuck got home, we loaded up the car and go. Remember, I live in suburban D.C.: avoiding traffic takes priority over food shopping.

How did this planning-less trip go? Not too badly! Of course, having the camping buckets ready to go was a big help. Also, for the first time, we used our canvas car-top carrier to hold all of our bedding supplies (sleeping bags, pads, pillows, and blankets) which made such a great difference in the filling of the car. I think there will actually be space for another carseat now. I also learned that the camping buckets are not only great for prep, but great for coming home. Instead of having to put each little utensil back in place in the kitchen, I just put the entire buckets back in their place in storage and unloading is (nearly) done.

Of course, our meals suffered. Hot dogs and marshmallows and cold cereal do not a good menu make. But for a trip less than 24 hours, they'll do.

We also suffered because we didn't plan on bringing Bruno, but we didn't plan for him to not come either, which means he came. He's a great dog and slept well in the tent, but man, that dog can eat some serious amounts of dirt and gravel given the tongue. Plus, he's not the best hiker.

But we had a good time, spent some time with friends, and went camping. Can't be too much wrong with that.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Mothers' Day Brainstorm

Whenever Chuck asks me what I want for Mothers' Day, I don't say anything. That's not because I want nothing, however. It's because I'm embarrassed and feel guilty for saying what I really want: a day spent NOT as a mother. I mean, how bad a mother am I if I want to spend the one day devoted to me by ignoring the people that made me a mother? (And yes, I realize the day isn't devoted to just me. I'm not that self-centered.)

I love Rhett. I love being his mother. But it's hard. Yes, lovely-fun-funny-fulfilling-entertaining-teachable-silly. But hard too.

So instead of wishing for a lonely Mothers' Day, I had an idea of celebrating not only Mothers' Day, but Mother's Day (observed). Mothers' Day can be spent much like today was: Chuck making me coffee cake, me eating WAY too much of it, a little sewing, church, and grilled chicken with chipotle-raspberry sauce. All followed by a 6 p.m. bedtime for Rhett.

But what of this Mothers' Day (observed) of which I speak? Ahhh, it's the couple of hours the next day to do things all by myself that are harder because I'm a mom. Things like fabric shopping, thrift store shopping, pedicuring, you know, all the stuff a toddler makes unbearable. AND stuff that I don't/can't/won't do on a Sunday anyway.

I don't need all day for Mothers' Day (observed). Really, just a couple of hours will suffice. I'm sure I'll return missing my boys and wanting to spend time with them. So I think next year I'll ask for Mothers' Day (observed) AND two toy eyes.

And just so you know that I'm all for equality, I fully support a Father's Day (observed) as well.

P.S. I didn't get around to making the homemade Pop Tarts this weekend. But I will, oh yes. I will. And here are my Mothers' Day flowers: the most fragrant lilacs ever, straight from my front yard.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Humid

Today I'm going to educate those of you who know nothing of humidity. Sure; some of you may have visited a humid state and thought, "Gee! It's sticky here!" But to live in one is a totally different experience and there are probably things you've never even thought about.

For example, you can't really leave things outside in a shed or garage or on the porch unless you want it ruined. Either the rust or the mold from the humidity will eventually bring your item down. We used to keep our jogging stroller in the shed, but then noticed that it was slowly growing mold on the fabric parts and rust on the non-fabric parts. Not something you want to happen to a couple-hundred dollar stroller.

Another thing, a beautiful 70-degree day doesn't mean you're necessarily air conditioning-free. Oh no, not if it's humid outside. The humidity gets inside your house and the only way to get rid of it is to blow the A/C. This drives me crazy to have to have on the A/C when it's a lovely temperature outside. I'd love to have the windows and doors open, but you just can't because your house will get sticky.

Speaking of the inside of your house, if you go on vacation for an extended time during summer, there's no way you can leave your house without leaving on the A/C. A friend from church did this and returned to a house with everything (and I mean everything) covered in mold. They had to buy all new everything. What a nightmare.

Did you know it affects your baking? When I do bread during the humid months, my dough requires so much more flour than normal. It's really frustrating. I'm terrified that I'm going to end up with a brick rather than a nice loaf. This has taken some time to get used to.

And finally, do you know that you can see it? I mean, it's almost like fog, but not as cloud-like. It's just hazy and nasty. I really have nothing good to say about the humidity.

But more bad! Eeek! Eileen's right: how could I forget what it does to your hair? My stick-straight-in-Utah hair transforms to a frizzy mess where are short hairs are exposed and standing on end. I don't even bother drying my hair in the summer here, and that's not my environmentalism. It's just...what's the point? Straight from the towel, it goes into a ponytail holder where it stays until the next hair washing. It's so sad.

P.S. I saw some recipes online for homemade Pop Tarts. How delicious is that?! I'm pretty sure that's how I'll be spending Sunday morning.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Camping, Take 1

Remember when I organized all our camping gear? What? You don't. Well, I forgive you. We took the opportunity to go camping last weekend and try out the newly-organized gear. Before I get into the trip log, I will say that the bucket worked beautifully. We had (nearly) everything we needed all ready to go. It made getting ready so much easier for me. When we got home, we were able to revise and then this weekend, we get to try out "Bucket, Version 2.0."

We had a lovely one-night stay at Gambrill State Park. (It's my new goal to camp at every camp-able state park in Maryland. Not saying how long this will take, but I think it's a pretty good goal, right?) We got to the campsite just in time to get the tent set up and a fire going. I worked on prepping dinner while Chuck got the fire. We tried pigs-in-a-blanket again, but have yet to perfect those.

We also did the laziest beans I've ever done in my life (open the can, insert into fire). How sexy are those oven mitts? Thanks Unique Thrift Store! And dessert was a fruit and chocolate quesadilla.

Rhett didn't want much to do with dinner as he just wanted to roast marshmallows. And once he tasted a roasted marshmallow, he didn't want anything to do with that! Just a plain marshmallow for him, please.

We think Rhett was pretty excited to sleep in a tent because he kept asking if he could go to sleep. Of course, once we put him down in the tent and left him to fall asleep, he freaked out about shadows and other things. He struggled to fall asleep but once he did, he did great. I, on the other hand, struggled to stay on my left side. Silly pregnancy rules. The next morning was an oatmeal breakfast, and then on to the fishing rodeo! The day before they stocked the pond with tons of fish...

...and yet all we caught was this lousy turtle. We did win a new fishing pole, however. The odds were in our favor (eight prizes for 22 contestants). Rhett had a great time and we can't wait to go again Friday.

P.S. Rhett just told me that he wants to give me two toy eyes for Mothers' Day. Am I lucky or what?!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Things Rhett Says

[While reading a book with dinosaurs in a museum making an appearance.]
Rhett: Why are the dinosaurs not alive?
Me: Because dinosaurs don't live on the earth now.
Rhett: Why not?
Me: They just don't. They're extinct.
Rhett: But they will come alive again. Just like Jesus.

[Rhett has really been into saying all of our prayers lately. He's mastered the thanking part, just not the asking.]
Rhett: Thank you for the day. Thank you for the couch. Thank you for the mean people.

If you can't tell, he's obsessed with everything "mean." He wants to act as a mean goalie, a mean monster, a mean whatever. If you ask him why he always wants to be mean, he'll answer, "I just do."

After eating dinner the other night at Rhett's grandparents' house, Rhett informs me that he's still hungry and his belly isn't full.
Me: What does your belly need to be full?
Rhett: Something sweet and chewy.
Hmmm...sounds like someone saw the Red Vines on the counter.