Sunday, September 25, 2022

a fairly good time

I'm still not done sharing photos from the summer, even though we're a few days into fall now! At the end of Mae's summer break, we visited the Indiana State Fair with Grandma, Grandpa, and Kevin.
Mae's favorite part was the Little Hands on the Farm exhibit. The kids each picked up an apron and a basket and wandered through the exhibit where they gathered beans, corn, milk, etc from different parts of a farm. Then they exchanged all their items for a ride on a little pedal tractor and a snack! It was fun, interactive, and educational. (Did you know that pork fat is used to make crayons??) Plus, they each got to sit on a big tractor.
Mae really wanted to ride a pony. I offered to walk next to her, but she saw that the next pony was being led by a teenage girl and said, "No, I just want to go with her!" Doesn't she looks so proud riding all by herself?!
Colin was a little nervous at the beginning and he reached out his little hand for mine. We held hands around the whole path and talked about how the pony ride is kind of bumpy.
Next we tried out some tasty fair foods. Dan had bison lettuce wraps, the kids had quesadillas from the dairy barn, and Colin helped me finish off a giant pork tenderloin sandwich. We cooled off in the afternoon with soft serve and Dole Whip and satisfied our remaining fair food cravings with a charcuterie board made from caramel corn, corn dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, jelly beans, funnel cakes, and taffy. Yum!
We spent a bit of time wandering through the animal barns. Mae and Colin loved looking at the cows. They got to pet a little calf and even got to sit next to a big cow resting in the straw! Colin had a big smile when the cow lifted her head to get a better look!
We also got to see the poultry, including some hatching chicks and ducks. They were just so cute! We even saw some tiny baby bunnies that were adorable. The animals are always my favorite part of the fair!

Monday, September 19, 2022

our second big renovation

We survived another bathroom renovation! This one was slightly less impactful to our daily life than our last renovation, since it was the upstairs bathroom that's mainly used by Mae and Colin. They both enjoy taking showers in our bathroom, so we didn't miss the bath too much while theirs was out of commission.
While the finishes in the old bathroom were perfectly acceptable, the plumbing was NOT. When the contractor removed our old galvanized pipes during the demolition, he was suprised we were able to get any water to the upstairs! The bathtub drain/plug was also very rusted and unreliable, and the plumbers warned us they were not able to source replacement parts for it. For a while we were using a rubber jar opener as a drain cover while we waited 10 minutes for the tub to fill just enough for the kids to sit in. I am absolutely thrilled with how the finished bathroom turned out, so I'm glad we had an excuse to gut and refinish it!
In addition to the brand new plumbing and cosmetic upgrades, we made two big improvements to the functionality of the bathroom. First, we added a vent fan so the room doesn't get as damp during showers. Second, we raised the height of the shower head so you don't have to duck to wash your hair! The old fixture was so low due to the slanted ceilings. Originally we planned to have the shower plumbing coming out of the angled portion of the ceiling. Unfortunately, the inspector nixed that plan for code reasons, and we couldn't find a shower head fixture that worked with the weird angle. Instead, I found an angled shower arm extender from Signature Hardware. I think it's supposed to make a standard shower feel more like a rainfall shower, but for us it just raises the shower head to a reasonable height for a normal adult. It even follows the angle of the ceiling pretty well.
Speaking of the bath, I think the most exciting part of finishing this renovation is not having an empty bathtub sitting in our dining room any more! I heard so many horror stories about long construction delays due to sourcing materials that I ordered plenty early. I had almost everything we needed ready and waiting in our house months before construction started. The vanity was the first thing I bought; it sat in our basement for a year! Between our family, our general contractor, and the plumbers, we did have a few COVID related delays thoughout the renovation. The whole project took about 5 months.

Early in my planning (a.k.a. Pinterest-scrolling) for this room, I came across some teal fish scale tiles. I considered pairing these with white floor tiles, but I was concerned about tiring of the bold wall color and trying to keep the white floor clean. I decided to stick with the fish-scale tiles on the walls, but opted for a (much cheaper!) white fish scale tile from Home Depot. I searched EVERYWHERE for the perfect (reasonably priced) light green/teal penny tile and finally found this tile from Tile Daily. The wall paint color is Sherwin Williams Windowpane, which I think looks lovely with the tile. The grout is Prism Cape Gray, a light gray that shows off the tile lines but will hopefully not show off the dirt! I sealed it with Miracle Sealants 511 impregnator sealer, per our tile guy's recommendation. It did end up a little streaky on the walls, so I might need to touch that up. I couldn't find bullnose tile to match the fish scales, so we used white Schluter edging instead. I love the clean finish.
I debated between an acrylic tub (less durable, lighter weight) or cast iron (durable, but massively heavy). Our contractor recommended this titanium reinforced enameled steel tub (lighter weight, but still durable) from Kaldewei. The vanity and toilet are from Home Depot. The plumbing fixtures are Moen. The medicine cabinet and light fixtures are from Pottery Barn. The wall vent cover is from Signature Hardware. I hunted everywhere for the perfect shower curtain and finally settled on one from Target.
I'm so happy with how this room turned out, and the kids are excited to have their bath back!

Sunday, September 4, 2022

lake george

We had another wonderful family trip to Lake George this summer! I got some time to relax and visit with family while the kids got to spend lots of quality time playing with cousins on the beach. We played cards, built sand castles, swam in the lake, went for boat rides, and splashed in the pool.
We had beautiful weather all week and spent so much time outside. We ate every meal on the porch and spent almost every morning and afternoon playing on the beach. I’m glad Colin got lots of time in the sand since he was sick during our last beach trip. He even ventured out into the shallow water and enjoyed taking little rides on the paddle board with me.
Mae was excited to build “the coffee machine” with Uncle Christopher again this year. They dug canals and built dams and then flooded the whole thing with the hose buckets. The frothy, sandy water looked like a nice latte as it flowed back to the lake.
Mom and Dad rented a pontoon boat big enough to take us all out on the lake! We even made a couple trips to the islands for picnics and swimming. Dan and I both have fond memories of island camping as kids, so it was fun to get back out there!
We decided to stay until Saturday and make the drive home in one day, so we managed to fit in trips to Pirates Cove and the arcade. Everyone had fun golfing even though we lost quite a few balls into the water throughout the 18 holes!
At the arcade, Mae and Dan played air hockey and skee ball while Colin desperately tried to hit just one hamburger on the whack-a-mole game.
Dan, Kelsey, and I also took a trip into town for a wine tasting at Adirondack Winery. I’d researched wine tasting during a previous trip, but we were too early in the season. I’m glad we made it this time! They had an award winning Gewürtzraminer (yes, I had to practice saying - and spelling - it) and lots of delicious fruit-infused wine perfect for summer sipping. I just finished up a bottle of sangria we brought home.
We filled in our spare moments with jigsaw puzzles, games of 10-to-1, and yard games. Colin and Lillian took turns launching the stomp rocket. They’re so little, even jumping onto the launcher only sent the rocket about 3 ft in the air, but they loved it! Mae, Oliver, and Archie spent hours organizing the landscape rocks in front of the porch. It was fun watching them create activities with just a pile of rocks!
Thanks for a great week, Gramma and Grampa! We had a wonderful time!

Sunday, August 28, 2022

mae: june, july

Well, we're a full week into the school year, so I better catch up on sharing all our photos from this summer! Mae filled her time with summer school and camps. Her before- and after-school care ran a summer program that included lots of fun activities like pottery painting, cooking, and even a few field trips! Mae especially loved when an animal handler visited the school. She held a bearded dragon and petted a hedgehog!
They took a field trip to a park with a historic village and learned about life in the 1800s. Of course Mae volunteered to help the instructor pretend to load up the oven with loaves of bread.
Mae's camp participated in the Fun At Bat program and learned how to play t-ball. I love that their team name was the "Mighty Mustaches." They also got to attend a Reds game where they were shown on the big screen! Mae came home talking a lot about baseball and wants to try playing this year!
And, of course, she spent lots of time doing art projects. She came home with lots of cute creations this summer!
Mae was very excited and a smidge nervous to start first grade. She heard they will have to take TESTS! I stayed home from work Thursday morning so we could walk her to school as a family. Her friends were passing our house when we finished taking her photo, so of course Dan and I ended up trailing behind her as she dashed away with her friends! Since school started, she has become part of the "roving pack of kids" that roams our street in the evenings. I love seeing her social life flourish!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

taco tuesday

I bought this taco-print fabric on a whim after seeing the cutest baby romper on display in my local fabric store. After several years waiting patiently in my fabric stash, it’s realized its full potential as matching raglan tees for Mae and me!
Mae’s shirt is the Ellie & Mac kids raglan with slim fit and short sleeves. Mine is the Lane raglan with short sleeves and a modified neckline. I followed a tutorial from The Petite Sewist and watched a video from Hey June to create the v-neck.

Do you think Mae selected mint chip gelato just to match her shirt?
I also made a few more pairs of Acacia undies with leftover fabric scraps from these shirts, my Camas Blouse, Georgie Dress, Suki Robe, and Lark tee. Even though my current measurements put me in a size 2 or 4, these are a size 8 just like the last batch I made because I was too lazy to trace the pattern again. They fit fine with the stretchy cotton jersey (all Art Gallery Fabrics) and stretch lace from frogfeathers on Etsy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

taking the plunge

Here's another item I made for our vacation! This is the Take The Plunge swim suit by Patterns for Pirates. The swim fabric, lining, swim cups, and power mesh are all from Fabric Fairy. I made the low back with cross straps and non-ruched bottom in size small at the bust and hip graded to a medium at the waist (based on my measurements 34-28-37.) Next time I'd probably just grade from a small bust to medium at the hip and waist for simplicity.
I assembled the entire suit with the sewing machine on a 3mm zig-zag stitch. I heard some stitches popping the first few times I tried it on, so maybe I should try different stitch settings, try twin needle top stitching, or use the serger.

The only fit issue I have is with the torso length. I suspect a combination of two causes: 1) the power mesh is overly restricting the vertical stretch of the swim material in the bottoms, and 2) I am in denial about the length of my lower torso. Even though I'm only 5'2", my measurement from front waist between the legs to back waist was 27". The pattern is drafted for this "crotch length" measurement of around 25". I assumed that my measurement method was just off somewhere since I'm not used to being too "long" for any pattern, but I think this suit would be more comfortable with an extra 1" in length added to the front and back bottom pieces! As far as the power mesh issue, I think I would omit it next time. I'd prefer if the top was less "minimizing." Between the power mesh and the suit being too short, it flattens the bust just as much as it flattens the tummy!
This project was surprisingly fun! Sewing all these tiny pieces of slippery fabric and elastic was less frustrating than I expected. I'm already envisioning my next swim sewing project... maybe a rash guard and some swim bottoms? I've also seen a lot of cute animal print versions of this suit online. So many possibilities!

Saturday, July 23, 2022

meadow shelby dress

I have a few handmade items to share from our recent trip! First up is the dress I wore for the rehearsal dinner. This is the Shelby Dress and Romper pattern by True Bias. The pattern includes a dress or romper in mid-thigh or mid-calf; I opted for the short dress version. The pattern is described as "a serious nod to the 90s with a modern fit." I like to read other sewists' reviews of a pattern before I sew it, so i can see what kind of fit adjustments are common and get ideas for fabrics. I found a lot of dresses sewn up in true 90s fashion: ditsy florals styled with Doc Martens. (I also found one blogger who was especially excited to try this style because she wasn't alive in the 90s. We won't discuss how old this made me feel.) I didn't want to go full-on ditsy floral so I chose this more modern Meadow print rayon from Art Gallery Fabrics. (Do you recognize this fabric? I already made a Biscayne Blouse from it!)
After my experience fitting the princess-seamed bodice of the Jessica dress, I thought it would be wise to sew a muslin of this dress. I also wanted to check the length since the “mini” version looked a smidge shorter than my preference but is designed for a model about 3” taller. I made a 4 in the bust graded to a 6 in the waist and hip based on my measurements of 34"-29"-35". Fortunately the bodice and length fit well. The only issue (and it was a big issue) was that I could barely move my arms. I did anticipate this issue based on Heidi’s review of this pattern, looking at the fit on other sewists, and the fact that my upper arms are proportionally large compared with the rest of my bodice measurements.

I removed the sleeves to verify that the bodice and armscyes fit well (they did), and the only issue was the sleeve fit. I modified the sleeves to have a shallower sleeve cap using a really helpful blog post on Ikat Bag about sleeve drafting. It demonstrates different sleeve shapes by fitting paper tube "sleeves" onto a tissue box "torso." I added a bit of ease to the bicep, 1/2" of length to the sleeves, and a tiny bit of ease to the seams in the upper back bodice.
I added a pocket (using the pattern piece from the Suki Robe) and followed a pocket assembly tutorial from @birdy_sew_obsessed, featured on her Instagram stories. It resulted in a nicer finish of the inside seams and was pretty easy to execute. I also extended the waist ties so they can wrap around the front and give the effect of a belt. Lastly, I raised the v-neck 1.5” to prevent it from gaping when I inevitably bend over to pick up kids or toys.
Because this dress is short and made from a very lightweight, floaty material, I was a bit concerned about the effects of a sudden breeze on my skirt! I decided to make some navy undershorts using the free Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs pattern (size small, shorties length.) I sewed these up in just one evening using a poly/spandex knit from Joann. This pattern is a keeper; I'd definitely use it again for leggings.
The shorties actually came in super helpful while we were getting ready for the wedding the next day. Due to her growing baby bump changing the placement of her dress slit, the Maid of Honor was showing a bit more skin than desired. The shorts matched her navy dress well and prevented any wardrobe malfunctions!
Remember that family photo we took at the rehearsal dinner? We liked it a lot so we turned it into a puzzle for Batman's birthday. Here's what my dress looks like as puzzle pieces!

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

wedding trip part 3

The day after the wedding was Colin's birthday! We were dragging a bit in the morning after getting to bed well past midnight and waking up at Colin o'clock (6 a.m.). After brunch with Jim and Ed, we gathered up all our stuff and drove to the beach. Everyone fell asleep except on the way (except me... but it was a struggle to stay awake to drive). We collected a few more license plates for our sticker game.
I baked cupcakes and we celebrated Colin's birthday with a pizza dinner. We got in a little beach time that evening, even though we didn't bother to change into our swim suits!
Mae spent almost every waking minute at the beach. She jumped in the waves, splashed around on the boogie board, dug holes, and defended her picnic lunch from the seagulls. She is a beach kid for sure.
Colin spent Monday morning at the beach. He loved digging in the sand and being towed around on the boogie board by Batman. At one point he was sitting up too high and at risk of tipping off the board, so I said, "Colin, lay down" thinking he would lay on his belly and prop himself up on his elbows. Instead, he spent the rest of the time being pulled around with his face flat on the board!
Unfortunately Colin got sick Monday night and spent the next couple days nursing a fever and a stomachache. Fortunately no one else seemed to catch his germs. Colleen came downstairs to check on us after we (Dan) got him cleaned up Monday night. Colin was sitting on the couch holding a bowl (in case he got sick again). He just looked at her and said, "I bucket." So heart wrenching. I'm glad he got a little time at the beach at least!
We carried on our sand sculpture traditions: sea witches with David and mermaid tails with mom!
Thanks for an amazing wedding and a great beach trip!