Archive | September, 2012

Simplicity 2461 Review: Toddler Dress

30 Sep

A fun print for a little country girl I know.

Yesterday one of Eli’s friends from church had a birthday.  Of course I wanted to make something.  I originally thought I would sew up a crayon roll or art smock.  After browsing through my pattern stash I came across a darling little dress pattern Simplicity 2461.  It’s a toddler dress pattern size 1/2-4.  (I originally purchased it to make a dress for my cousin but then decided on the art smock.)

I did have a little trouble with the zipper. 🙂

This pattern was fairly straight forward.  I had a little trouble with the zipper and had to rip it out the first time and re-sew it.  The back of the bodice didn’t line up the first time.  I don’t know that this is the pattern’s fault probably just my somewhat inexperience with zippers.  I still haven’t sewn that many probably only around ten or so.  I do think the dress would look better with an invisible zipper but I didn’t have one of those on hand.  Blue would also look better than yellow but I like to use what I have on hand.  (I live far away from a fabric store and Walmart’s selection is pathetic.)

I had never sewn on hook and eyes before so I might have done that incorrectly.  There were no instructions as to how to sew on the hook and eyes so my placement might be off.  I’m not sure I like the idea of the hook and eye on a toddler dress since toddlers are awfully squirmy.  😉

Back View

I used my serger to finish all of the seams which was especially important since I squeezed this entire dress onto a yard of fabric.  (It called for more than a yard but that was all that I had.)

I added rick-rack along the hem stitching. I love the added pop it brings! This pattern includes a large 2.5″ hem.

I added the rick rack along the bottom.  I think it would look super cute with rick-rack on the collar as well.  Piping would also look really sweet along the front bodice but I didn’t think of that until after it was sewn.

I had never sewn a Peter-Pan collar before and I don’t think mine lined up exactly.  I did find it annoying that the collar is supposed to be sewn at 3/8″ instead of 5/8″ but this is not listed in the pattern only on the tissue pattern.  I”m not sure if it is correct or not but I sewed steps 8-15 at 3/8″.

Hoping the little girl loves her animal dress.

I didn’t take any measurements of the little girl I was making this for I just knew she was petite and wore an 18 month size.  I debated for a long time trying to figure out if the 1/2 or the size 1 corresponded to that size.  I ended up making a size 1.  I don’t know why they don’t just tell you what ready to wear sizes they correspond to.  Overall this is a sweet pattern and I love the finished product.  I just hope it fits!  🙂


Family Date Day: Big Bone Lick State Park

28 Sep

I don’t know about you but my family and I love to go on what we call family dates.  Special adventures with just our little family.  😉  This past weekend we were blessed to go on a much-needed family date to Big Bone Lick State Park in Union, KY.  We started off our date with a trip to Steak-n-Shake.  Brandon had a great time playing the coupon game (trying to get the most bang for his buck) while there.   Yum!

After a great lunch we headed to Big Bone Lick State Park.  It seemed like a fairly small state park but we had a lovely time.  We visited the “museum” and walked around the outside exhibits.  The best part was definitely the hiking.  🙂

There are only about 4 miles of hiking trails at the park but that was perfect for us.  For the most part the hiking was relatively easy except for a few hills when Brandon had Eli on his back.  😉

I think at this point Eli was saying come on mom stop trying to take pictures let’s hike!

We let Eli walk for the first part of the hike and he surprised us by walking almost a mile!  Must be a future hiker.  😉

Still just as smitten with each other.

Probably Eli’s favorite part.

They had bison there.  How cool is that?  I thought it was a little crazy that you could get that close to them with just a little fence between you and the bison.

Eli loves riding in the pack.

In case you are wondering we have an L.L. Bean backpack and absolutely love it!  It has pockets on the back to hold 2 water bottles and a pouch on the bottom to store a change of clothes, diapers, and snacks.  We also have a rain cover for the top if I feel really adventurous.

Thankful for our camelbak (and that Brandon wore Eli for our hike).

We all had an absolute blast on our family date!  I am so thankful we were able to get away for a wonderful afternoon.  🙂

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

27 Sep

The hat I made for Eli last week using a free tutorial and free fabric.


Brandon, Eli & I went hiking at Big Bone Lick State Park which was free (minus the gas).  We stayed a couple of hours and had a lovely time.  They even have a bison herd there.

I used THIS tutorial from Melly Sews to make a Gatsby (Newsboy) hat for Elijah using scrap material my mom had given me.  I used a scrap piece of plastic canvas instead of buckram to line the bill.  It turned out way too big for some reason but I’m still glad I made it.  The only cost involved was the minimal cost of thread.  🙂  The hat turned out a little bit big (I don’t know why) but I may add a tuck in the back.

I purchased 3 Kwik Sew patterns when they were on sale for under $5 each.  These patterns are wonderful with excellent instructions.  I also paid $4 to have them shipped which is still cheaper than my driving to a fabric store to buy them.

Visited a thrift store and 2 consignment stores this past week trying to find Eli fall/winter clothes.  I succeeded in purchasing 1 pair of pants, some new underwear, 3 shirts, and a darling pair of boots.  I also purchased 2 baskets with liners to use for organization and something for Christmas for Brandon.  (I’m not saying what it is because he does read the blog.  I just don’t know how closely he reads it.)  😉

I made Cloud Dough with Eli using the rest of a bottle of baby oil we already had.  See my post here for the recipe.    😉

I made homemade Basil Pesto from basil from our garden for the first time.  I served it over top of Bow Tie pasta.  At Brandon’s request I also made homemade marinara sauce for dipping from our garden tomatoes.

I ordered a Christmas present (nightgown) shipped for less than $2.

I washed several plastic baggies to re-use.  Not only is this frugal it is great for the environment.  I do not however re-use any bag that has had raw meat stored in it.

I made homemade cleaner (orange vinegar).  I infused orange peels for 2-3 weeks in vinegar and then removed the orange peels.  So far I”m about 50/50 on whether I will make another batch of this.  I personally don’t care at all for the smell of vinegar (although it is crazy frugal) but the orange scent does help a lot.  Next time I may increase the ratio or orange peels to vinegar.

What sort of frugal activities have you done this week? 

Fun with Toddlers: Cloud Dough

25 Sep

Eli was so excited to try Mom’s newest crazy activity.


Have you ever been to a children’s museum and played with that funky stuff called cloud dough?  It’s not clay, or playdough, or sand it is somewhere in between.  It’s Cloud dough. I found THIS great recipe on pintrest to make your own.  That’s exactly what Eli and I did last week.  So very much fun!

He looks like he’s going to shoot me with baby oil.

A great activity to do on a chilly afternoon.

Simply combine 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil. Knead about 3 minutes.

I didn’t have a full cup of baby oil (only about 1/3 cup) so I adjusted the recipe to use 3 cups of flour.  We are planning on making this again soon after our next town (errand) day.  I had the baby oil leftover from when Eli got sticker goo stuck to his face.  I let him wear a sticker to the sprinkler park this summer.  Unfortunately when a sticker gets wet it this goo sticks to your face.  Baby oil was the only thing we found to take it off.  😉

Having lots of fun.


I let Eli play with a few toys and a “repurposed” parmesan cheese container. I showed him how to open the lid add some cloud dough and pour it out again.


What a great sensory activity.


What’s really fun about the cloud dough is that it can be shaped and poured.



Warning: This does make quite a mess.

A face like this makes the mess so worth it! 🙂


Such a fun actitivy to do together. I found myself enjoying the cloud dough almost as much as Eli.



Simplicity 2629 Review: Sew a Baby Slip

21 Sep

Such a sweet gift for a sweet little niece of mine.

For my niece Zuzu’s first birthday I knew I wanted to make something special.  I debated for a long time over what exactly to make for her.  There are SO many adorable patterns and tutorials for making things for little girls it was almost overwhelming!  When I came across Simplicity 2629 I knew right away this pattern was perfect.  It is a vintage pattern from 1948 that was re-released recently.  Pretty cool I think.  Zuzu’s mom Renee enjoys vintage things also so I thought this might be a good fit.  I’ve always wanted to sew a true vintage pattern but have always been too scared that a pattern I might pick up at the thrift store that has been cut wouldn’t include all of the pieces.

The pattern is actually a layette pattern and includes lots of sweet baby items.  I finally settled on sewing little Zuzu a slip.  I wasn’t sure if she had one or not but it seemed like such a fun little thing to make to keep her just a little bit warmer throughout the winter.  (I think she could almost sleep in the slip during the summer if the house were really warm also.)  I made a size Large for Zuzu and sewed View F but ended up not attaching the ruffle since it already seemed plenty long enough to me.

Any pattern for embroidery could easily be substituted here.

This was my first time ever combining sewing with any sort of needlework or embroidery.  I absolutely LOVE the result!  I was able to take a bunch of inexpensive materials (plain white broadcloth, 2 white buttons (I had), thread, and a bit of lace and make something so sweet.  I found that the embroidery did take quite a while but I just love how it turned out.  This pattern is included in the envelope but you could really substitute any outline.

Do note if you make this pattern that the seam allowance is 3/8″ instead of the usual 5/8″.  I was kind of surprised that the slip buttoned at the top of the shoulders.  I guess it has to button somehow since the pattern is not intended for knit fabric.  I had thought originally about not adding the lace but am so glad that I did.  🙂  It was difficult to find the 3/8″ lace so I ended up using 1/2″ lace that my mom had in her stash.

The finished product.

Overall this pattern was adorable and so much fun to work with.  I can’t see myself sewing another slip anytime soon but one day I might make the dress that is included in the pattern as a baby gift in the future.

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

20 Sep

The sleep sack I made for a friend’s baby shower last week. I had all of the materials on hand (all were purchased on sale).

On one of my many walks this past week  I picked a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers.  They only last a few days but made a beautiful centerpiece for our kitchen table.

I finished watching Larkrise to Candleford Season 4 this past week.  I checked it out for free from the library.

We saved $75 by getting Eli’s dental check up done at our family dentist rather than at the expensive pediatric dentist’s office.  (Yes we do have dental insurance but it only pays so much towards each preventative visit.)  I practiced with Eli before we went to the dentist and he was excellent!

I purchased a yard of remnant white flannel from JoAnns for $3 to make nursing pads for a friend.  This was all I bought at JoAnns which is a major accomplishment for me!  I will be using the white flannel for the outside of the nursing pads and using ugly scrap flannel for the inside layers.

I purchased a pair of boots (for me) from Totsy for 75% off + free shipping.  🙂

From our garden I harvested: green beans, green peppers, banana peppers, okra, zucchini, summer squash & tomatoes.

I planted our Fall Garden which includes: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, snow peas, & kohlrabi.  I have no clue if any of these will actually work out!  We’ll see.

I purchased a generic brand camera battery for my Nikon camera off Amazon for 3.58.  My camera now works great!

I downloaded Sew-Classic’s Cleaning & Adjusting your sewing machine (free with purchase).  (My machine was just serviced but I am hoping to go through this Sew-Classic booklet the next time my machine needs an adjustment.  I don’t think it will alleviate the need to ever have my machine serviced but it may allow me to lengthen the time between visits.)

In the mail I received a sample of shampoo, conditioner, and a Shout color catcher.

I sewed a flannel blanket and sleep sack for a friend’s baby shower using all materials from my stash.  I used flannel purchased on Black Friday last year for the baby blanket and a remnant piece for the sleep sack.  I also reused a pattern for the Sleep Sack that I had used before.

I made 4 loaves of Country White Bread.  The hubby said it was the best bread I’ve ever made and he might be right.  🙂  We packed our lunch on Wednesday when we ran errands.

We cancelled our Netflix subscription.

What frugal activities did you do this past week?  Do you have any suggestions for me?  I’m looking for fun cheap fall activities to do with Elijah.  🙂 

August Reads

18 Sep

I read a nice variety of books this past month.

The past couple of weeks have been busy, busy, busy around our home which is why it has taken me so long to post these.  🙂 

Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years by Elizabeth Hainstock.  I wouldn’t say that I have fully nailed down my philosophy of learning for the preschool years yet but I would say that if I had to pick one model I would probably choose the Montessori method.  For children birth-age 4 I think it is where our family lands.  This book was easy to read and included dozens of Montessori type learning activities to do with your child.  Most include items you already have around your home or can be made inexpensively.  We have already completed some of the activities and look forward to doing more of them in the next two years.  I enjoyed this book so much that I plan on purchasing it within the next month.

Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic.  I purchased this book on the recommendation of my sister-in-law and I am so glad that I did!  It was so encouraging to me as a mom of a very rambunctious, strong-willed 2 1/2-year-old.  🙂

Letting God Plan Your Family by Samuel Owen.  This was probably the most personally challenging book I read this past month.  It DOES NOT say using birth control to limit the size of your family is always wrong but it does question the motives behind it and what the Bible has to say about children.  I wouldn’t agree with absolutely everything the author has to say but overall this book was excellent.  I mean it’s really good!  I would highly encourage any young couple to read it.  I’m sad to see that it is currently out of print but I would make the effort to search for a used copy.  Totally worth the effort.

Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and With Almost No Money by Dolly Freed.  This is probably one of the strangest books I have read all year.  The story documents how Freed and her father lived on just a couple thousand dollars a year.  I would never personally feel comfortable with the way in which she lived but the book is absolutely fascinating.  I picked it up because I thought it might have some neat ideas for saving money.  I don’t know that I really picked up that many money-saving hints but it was so intriguing.  The author went on to attend college and work for NASA as an engineer even though she stopped attending school in 7th grade.  Amazing!

Crafty Mama: Make 49 Fabulous, Fool Proof (Baby & Toddler) Projects by Abby Pecoriello.  Although I may end up making one of the projects (hair barrettes) this book was disappointing.  The concept is nice enough but the actual projects I just found lame.  Glad this one was just from the library.

Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day by Garry Morgan.  I have been looking for a book like this one for years.  This book covers all of the major religions and gives a brief explanation of each.  I’m ashamed to admit that even though I have a seminary degree I know very little about many of the world’s religion.  I do enjoy praying for missionaries and have used Operation World as a prayer guide.  It is great to have a better understanding of what a particular religion believes so that I can pray better for the missionaries who are working to spread the Gospel among those in that religion.  This book is also a great conversation starter.  I carried this book with me to a few doctor/dentist appointments the past month and had some really interesting conversations as a result. Note: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.  All opinions are my own.

Whispers in the Wind by Lauraine Snelling.  This is the second book in the Wild West Wind series but I didn’t find myself lost at all.  I did find the pace of the book to be rather slow.  Usually I read most fiction books voraciously but I found myself taking over 2 weeks to finish this one.  It was one of those books that I kept thinking surely this will get better I just need to keep reading.  I read all the way to the end and it didn’t get any better at all.  There was hardly any resolution in this book.  I’m guessing that is so you purchase the third book in the series.  I for one will not be purchasing or reading the next book.  I have no desire to read anymore books in this series.  Note: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.  The review did not have to be favorable.  All opinions are my own.

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

12 Sep

Too sweet not to share this week. We had so much fun hanging out as a family last week Eli crashed before seven right in Brandon’s arms.

I finished sewing my niece Zuzu’s birthday present.  I’ll share next week after she receives it.   It took a long time to make but was a lot of fun.  I had a great time sewing something for a little girl for a change.

I cut off the buttons from 4 articles of clothing and saved them for future sewing projects.  Eli also did a nice toddler activity sorting the buttons.  Unfortunately I found one the next day in the restroom!  Needless to say I did not keep that one!  I think we will be postponing any toddler learning activities that use buttons for the next few months.  😉

I picked up 2.5 yards (2 different prints) of Christmas fabric at a yard sale for $2.50.  It’s usually really hard to find Christmas fabric dirt cheap so I was really excited.  😉  I will probably be using it to make an apron tablecloth, or napkins.  I also bought 2 shirts for my mom, and a really nice basket.  I love to use baskets for organizing my home.

I cut my husband and my son’s hair.  This saved us at least $30.

I received a nice Cat Chow and shampoo sample in the mail.  I also received a free book to review.

I finished sewing my first Christmas present.  Woohoo!  In our family we find the month of December absolutely crazy (as I”m sure most of you do).  I have found the key to enjoying December and the Christmas season is preparing early.  I’m not always perfect with this but every little preparation I do now will make a big difference in December.  🙂

I used blue fleece from my fabric stash to sew Elijah his first little hoodie using McCall 6237.  So adorable!

After baking a chicken in the crock pot for dinner I made chicken broth.  I used some of it in soup last week and froze the rest in 2 cup increments in freezer bags.  Here is how I cook my chicken and make broth in the crock pot.

I canned 7 quarts of green beans from our garden.

I made homemade tomato soup from tomatoes from our garden for lunch one day.  Delicious!  We still don’t have enough tomatoes to can but have ben enjoying a few each week.

We bought a new couch and negotiated 15% off the sale price!  🙂  Our old couch was at least 20 years old and WORN OUT.  I thought about purchasing a used couch but I know way too much about bed bugs to feel okay about that.  We did save up for months and purchased our couch using cash.  Now we just have to wait 5-9 weeks while they make it.

I purchased a new dress, beautiful green sweater, and a new skirt for $12 from a thrift store.  Super excited about all three!  I have really limped along the past year with my wardrobe and am in the process of building my wardrobe a little so this was perfect.

Date Night Shirt: Simplicity 2892 Review

8 Sep

It’s been years since I have sewn a shirt for myself.

Before Brandon & I headed off on our wonderful Overnight Get-a-Way I wanted to make a cute shirt.  Something light, summery, and perfect for a date night with the hubby.  I found a beautiful solid teal fabric with just a bit of stretch to it in my stash.  I had a couple of patterns to choose from but finally settled on Simplicity 2892 view E.  (My sweet friend Emily had sewn Simplicity 2892 this spring and I instantly fell in love with it when she showed me her shirt.  At once I knew I had to try my hand at it sometime soon.)  So that’s what I did.

Such a fun summer shirt.

This was the first time that I had ever worked with single fold bias tape.  Honestly I’m still not sure if I applied it correctly but it looks okay.  It is important to note that you want to make sure that your bias tape matches because it will be seen on the outside.  Just fyi.


I usually just tie the belt into a knot rather than a bow.

A few notes about the pattern.  I found it very helpful to use a ham when pressing this shirt.  For Step 9 make sure to mark which is the front and which is the back to avoid sewing the wrong part together like I did. 😉

My new date night go-to shirt.

Overall I love this shirt.  I have worn it at least once a week since I made it in August.  🙂  It was fairly easy to make and I plan on making another one next summer.  This is a great pattern since it contains 4 different shirts: 3 sleeveless and 1 with short sleeves.  I may try my hand at sewing View A this fall.

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

5 Sep

Eli after playing with his homemade chalk paint (mix equal parts cornstarch and water + food coloring). When it dries it looks just like chalk!

This past week I finally broke down and made homemade laundry soap after having the ingredients on hand for months!  I made the powdered version: 1 bar Felths-Napa soap (grated), 1 cup borax, and 1 cup washing soda.  I have washed about 4 loads of laundry and it seems to be working well.   Having always had very sensitive skin I am curious to see if I will be able to use this myself long-term.  So good so far! 🙂

I picked and broke lots of green beans this past week from both my garden and my aunt’s.  My mother was kind enough to can most of them for me.  I think we canned about 27 pint and a half jars?  (Pint & a half jars are hard to find but the perfect size for my family.  They are also so cute and work wonderful as iced tea glasses.)  😉    With the rain we just had I expect to can more later this week if my beans continue to produce as they have.

I continued to work on my niece’s birthday present using materials I had on hand.

I ordered a book through interlibrary loan from our library rather than purchase it.  Brandon and I are both looking forward to reading it.

Received a free Schick Intuition Razor in the mail.

The family and I went to the Cincinnati Natural History & Science Museum.  We paid $6 to park but admission to the museum was free in honor of Neil Armstrong this past week.  It was so much fun!  I think we would all agree that our favorite part was the indoor cave.

I accepted a dozen canning jars, a half camisole, and a fun new bathroom rug from my aunt.  We really needed a new bathroom rug for our guest bathroom and this is perfect!  I’m so glad I waited to buy one.

Thanks to pintrest I made Spinach Artichoke dip for the first time while the hubby and I watched a football game Saturday night.

We had a blast at the Cincinnati Natural History museum last week.