Saturday, August 15, 2015

Belle's blue dress (simplicity 1507)

 Have I mentioned that I love .99 Cent pattern week at Hobby Lobby?  That's right, you can get up to 10 patterns per day for .99 cents! So when my brother texted me this week joking that I should make costumes for my 2 year old niece to wear to Disney this fall, I knew I could do just that!

I decided to start with Belle's blue dress and I knew Simplicity 1507 would work well with the full skirt, poofy sleeves (view A) and optional collar.  I used kona solids (also from Hobby Lobby), making the skirt and bodice from light blue and the sleeves and collar in white. 




For the apron, I cut the front panel for the skirt 3 inches shorter, turned down the edges twice and sewed a straight hem.  Then I cut a strip of fabric 6 inches x42 inches, ironed it like bias tape and attached it to the apron as the tie.

Because this is a costume for a two year old, I opted for Velcro closure instead of a zipper.

Talk about an easy project!   Start to finish was right at an hour in a half (roughly 3.5 episodes of New Girl on Netflix)

 I plan to make a white, soft, fluffy, lace trimmed underskirt with an elastic waist band to be worn under various princess dresses. 

I will get to see my niece this weekend so hopefully I can try it on her and get some pictures.  :)

                                                     Lillian Pup loves to help me sew!

The other baby/toddler/little girl patterns I got include Simplicity:

1450 - I mean seriously too cute!

1449 - I can whip up view C, D, E, F in 30 minutes no joke.  This is actually my second time buying this pattern, I have it in the bigger sizes and bought the 6month-2T this time

S0228 - How could I resist?  

1508 - view A/B SCREAM classic Cindrella!

1171 - maybe a cotton Rapunzel-inspired dress?

1447 - just adorable

1921 - I just thought this would be a great go-to for baby sizes of bloomers and little dresses

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Meal Prep!

                I love meal prep.  I talk about it all the time in my day to day life.  Outside of going to church, tithing and talking to my mom, meal prep the single act that makes the biggest difference in how my week goes.  Today after going to church, I went to the grocery store.  Well, I was on my way to the grocery store and I looked in my mirror and realized how TERRIBLE my eyebrows looked.  So first I stopped to get my eyebrows done.  While chatting with the girl at the brow bar, it came up that I was headed to Kroger to get groceries to meal prep.  She said “I’ve been wanting to learn how to meal prep so bad!” So Claire at Ulta, this post is for you!

                 I will be the first to say that I am still a novice meal prepper.  Back in September I participated in [the amazing, lovely and talented] Robin Long’s PilatesBalance Program .  Through her program, I spent 6 weeks meal prepping healthy meals and completing 4 pilates work outs a week.  I lost 10 pounds in 6 weeks!  And while my improved shape came from the pilates workouts, I can assure  you that the pounds that melted off came from the amazing lessons I learned in meal prep and eating healthy. 

             Let me start out by saying that I do not usually meal prep by myself.  Typically Derek helps me and we either pick a Saturday, Sunday or Monday that we both have a few free hours.  This week I did the shopping today (Sunday) and we will do the actual cooking tomorrow.  Like I said, I talk about meal prep a lot, so a couple of weeks ago one of our good friends asked if he could see how it was done.  Considering we all live by ourselves in our own individual apartments, it just makes sense to do things like this together.  Living in community, you know?  By prepping for 3 people it cuts down on overall costs, time and makes it a lot more enjoyable!  

            Here is a super brief overview of what a meal prep session looks like.  (I’ll break it down and show you this week’s prep in a moment)  I usually do the meal plan, run it by the guys and make the grocery list. Then I go shopping.  It works best when the guys meet me at my apartment after grocery shopping (let’s face it, I actually can shop a lot faster without them…)and I have them carry the groceries up to my third floor apartment (total win!).  Then we chop, cook and store food for the week.

            Now for the detailed portion:  This week I have prepared a rather extensive menu because wanted to have almost 2 weeks worth of meals prepped (part of them frozen).    The guys each take a prepared meal for lunch at work, and eat one for supper Monday-Friday.  I usually don’t have access to a microwave or refrigerator for lunch, so I typically just prep supper and do salads (prepped) or green smoothies or the like for a lunch on the go.  
       The first thing I do is think of how many individual meals or servings I want/need to make.   A typical week looks like this:
Derek:  6 lunches, 6 suppers
Bo:  6 lunches, 6 suppers
Me:  6 suppers
Total:  30 servings

Then, I go through my pinterst  recipe boards to figure out what sounds good for the week.  The second step is simply considered meal PLANNING.  I mainly make gluten free, low dairy, refined-sugar-free organic meals. I usually do this at the END of the week - Thursday/Friday/Saturday so I am ready to shop on Sunday and prep the beginning of the following week.   So this week’s menu includes:

BBQ chicken stuffed sweet potatoes (12  servings - I make my own paleo bbq sauce)
Orange Chicken and broccoli served over quinoa (8 servings)
Bison/ground beef (half and half) lettuce tacos with goat cheese (8 servings)
Black Bean Burgers in lettuce wraps (10 servings)
Creamy Vegetable Chowder * (8 servings )
*note: the veggie chowder is kind of my rule breaker containing quite a bit of dairy, but considering the recent snow storm, I am really craving some warm comfort creamy soup!

[my sweet Lillian demonstrating the need for cozy soup)]

Once our menu is selected, I go through each recipe and make a grocery list. This step is extremely important.  I write down everything for each recipe, then combine it into a master list divided by section (i.e. produce, meats, dairy, canned goods, spices…) I always like to go through my cabinets to see what I already have (almond flour, a few left over sweet potatoes and 1 pound of grass-fed organic ground beef that was in my freezer...) and what I might be running low on (cayenne pepper) so I have everything I need when it’s time to cook.   

This sounds time consuming but I did step 1-3 it in about 10 minutes one evening this week while watching TV.  (I was originally planning bbq pork, but opted for chicken when the chicken we like was on sale today!)

  This week I was able to get everything on my list for just over $100.  That equals $35 each for almost 2 weeks worth of easy and healthy meals!  Pffft… And people say eating healthy and organic is expensive!  $35 is less expensive than 4 days worth of fast food lunches alone!  It takes a little planning and thought, but the results are super easy and doable.  With my list in hand, I can usually complete an entire grocery run (step 4 if you are counting)  in less than a half hour. 

[This next part is what we will do tomorrow.  I can tell you exactly how it goes because no matter what the meals are, meal prep always looks pretty much the same. ]

After a trip to the grocery store, step 5 means it's time to cook!  We turn on Netflix (the three of us have developed a New Girl obsession) and start chopping.  The boys usually chop the onions (my eyes are super sensitive and if I chop the onions I have to wear my ski goggles!), peppers and veggies while I start the sauces and meats.  I like to go ahead and bake the chicken and brown the ground beef/bison up front.  I also start putting my pot of soup together.  I usually save the black bean burgers for the end because they whip up so quickly and have everything else going at the same time.  With 3 people I can easily delegate tasks.   For instance, one person shreds the chicken for the bbq, one person stirs the sauce for the orange chicken (you’ve got to watch that stuff!) and another person watches the soup.  All in all it usually takes 2-3 hours.  Mainly because we are laughing and taking turns playing with Lillian Pup, and taking breaks.  

We store almost everything in pint sized wide mouth mason jars and/or freezer bags in individual servings.  Whatever won’t be eaten in the first 4-5 days typically goes in the freezer.  Then meals are as easy as pulling out a jar, heating it up and enjoying!  

Our meal prep last time included:
Quinoa chicken chili 
Quinoa stuffed peppers 
Chicken fajitas (cooked chicken and already sliced peopers and onions ready to be thrown ito a skillet and served in lettuce cups) 
Black bean burgers 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

So maybe it was the 3 trips I took to Disney last year where they literally brain wash you into believing that "Dreams really do come true!"  It is the most pleasant brain washing ever.  Something about the smell of powered sugar and the 20 minute show that runs every hour called "Dream Along With Mickey" has you downright believing that ansolutely anything is possible!  Or maybe it was the loss of my Grandpa last March.  Loss makes you realize how short even a long and wonderful life is.  Loss makes you realize the importance of family.  Or maybe it was the crazy break-down I had about turning 26 (25 was awesome "the world is my oyster!" 26 was terrifying "what am I doing with my liiiiifffeee?!") where I got out my old journals that I have kept since middle school and scoured bucket list after bucket list and dream after dream and cried because my life looks nothing like I thought it would.  Or just maybe it's that Psalm 20 spent all of 2014 popping up in devotions, sermons and random falling from the sky into my life.  {"May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up banners in the name of our God.  May the Lord grant all your request."}

Somehow the culmination of all these things that happend in 2014 have profoundly influenced the start of my 2015.  Regardless of the reason, I have decided to stake a claim on 2015 as the year my dreams are coming true.  I am planting a giant sparkly monogrammed flag on every day of this year that says "mine!"  They may not be the exact same dreams I had when I was 16, but they are my true dreams non-the less. 

And you know what?  Almost the instant I made that decision, my dreams started coming true.  January has been awesome!  

One of my dreams from adolescents was to open a boutique to sell my creations. I thought this would mean a store front in some charming area of town, but the 21st century is above and beyond what I dreamed 10 years ago so Hello etsy site! 

Another dream from 9th grade was to help people who were "disfigured" in one way or another and thus "outcasts".   I know, I know, could I have been any more dramatic? I thought this meant serving on Mercy Ship Africa and removing tumors from people. I thought I would have to live over seas or do street ministry.   In reality, the Lord has opened the door for me to get my lymphedema certification through OT to decrease and manage what is commonly known as elephantiasis here in the states.

A dream I never even wrote down but had held in my heart was that of being a real seamstress.  Not just a crafter, but someone who really sews well and is hired for things like amazing princess ball gowns.  And as I mentioned in my corset dress post, that dream is coming true too!  

This is not a post to brag, instead this is a post about gratitude.  This is a post where can see how some of the puzzle pieces fit together, how all things work together for good. People always say that when you become a believer you have to give up all your dreams for yourself, and I had bought into that.  Psalm 20 was crazy to me because I wanted to pray it for other people and not accept that God really does want to make my plans succeed and give me the desires of my heart. And I am posting to share how grateful I am that I am living a life fulfilled. I am not married and I do not have babies like I thought I would at 26, but my life is so much more wonderful than I could have ever imagined at 16.   And for that, I am so grateful.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Corset dress

My caseload at work has been low the last few weeks and I have found myself with some wonderful sewing time which is a perfect prelude to my new gig.  Yes, I am still a full time Occupational Therapist, but it seems my sewing is taking off quite a bit.  These long winter nights and cozy winter days have led me to my sewing machine over and over.  

A dear friend's sister works for a company that does princess parties and was in need of a seamstress to do some repairs to various costumes.  After she saw my Anna and Elsa costumes, it turned more into a request for commissioned costumes!   Talk about a dream come true!   While I've been waiting on some fabric to come in, I thought it would be prudent to work on my corset skills.  And by that I mean I thought it would be prudent to learn to make a corset.  

I've been dying to make a dress similar to the floral dress Giselle wears on her date with Edward in Disney's Enchanted. I love that silhouette and I've never quite outgrown my twirly skirts phase. 

For this project I used Simplicity 5006 for the corset and read a few tutorials I found via Pinterest.  Honestly, I was expecting it to be difficult but I learned that if you can sew a straight line, you can sew a corset! Now I didn't obey the rules and I used the wrong fabric for this, therefore it isn't as sturdy as a typical corset.  I use a quilters cotton because I adored the yellow and white pattern.  That, and using a dark heavy fabric wouldn't exactly match the innocent, playful, girly looking I was going for.  

Unfortunately, I only have one picture of the process.  
(Yes, I did my hammering on an old anatomy book. That book also contains flowers I've been pressing from a bouquet I caught back in June ... Glad those $$$ textbooks still get use!)

Now for the skirt!  A few weekends ago while visiting my parents I pulled out my mom's 31 year old pleating machine that was used for smocking.  I had the crazy notion that I wanted to start making smocked baby gifts.  Who knows, I still might.  Anyway, I used it to heavily pleat 3 yards of fabric.  That's right, I didn't cut any panels and sew them together, I just cranked 3 yards (9 feet!!!) of fabric through that thing!   
Side note:  isn't my new dress form wonderful?  She was a birthday present from Derek.  

Back to the dress.  I simply put all the fabric, pleats and all through my machine to keep them in place.  Then I added a waist band and a zipper and it's good to go!  I put some pretty white ribbon through my corset and it was ready to go!   

"Do you wanna build a snow man?" Anna and Elsa costumes

My latest endeavor has been creating Disney costumes!   One of my lifelong dreams is to be a princess so when a friend asked me to be Anna at her daughter's 3rd birthday party I was ecstatic.   The best part? I volunteered to make them!   Being a princess and sewing my own costume?!   Just call me Giselle!  (Enchanted is still one of my top favorite movies!).  The beautiful Elsa for this occasion had been wanting to learn how to sew from a pattern so this was a great experience to set up two machines and work on two dresses at the same time.  She did a lovely job on the bodice and skirt of Elsa! 

For this occasion I opted for a simple McCalls Halloween costume pattern.  It got the job done and was very simple and easy to follow.  Since making these dresses, I have learned the wonders of corset making (that post is coming next!) and am amazed by how much better of a fit you can get when using a corset and a skirt versus a one piece dress.  But for an audience of 3 year olds, these gowns were magical enough and I must say I was very happy with the final product.  

Let me just tell you, if your ego ever needs a boost, just show up to a bounce house in a Frozen costume.   It doesn't matter if you can sing or have any real talent, the costume itself is enough to make you into a celebrity!
Honestly, could the birthday girl be any sweeter?
Look in the background and you can see the precious birthday girl sneaking cake!
Quick note on the Anna wig:  I cut 10 inches off my hair the week before the party so I just ordered the first Anna wig I found with Amazon prime shipping.  It turned out to be incredible!