Monday, April 30, 2012

Baby B Quilt Tutorial

This was my fastest quilt yet!  About a month ago, I helped throw a baby shower for one of my closest friends.  And it wasn't until that week that I realized how much it was sneaking up on me!  I wanted - oh, so badly - to make her a little quilt, but a quilt, in three days?  That was beyond my abilities!  Or so I thought!

Friday night - Cut, Cut, Cut {while in the midst of movie night with the fam}
Saturday morning/day - Sew, sew, sew, layer, baste, sew, sew, sew
Saturday night - Bind, bind, bind!

I did it!  Introducing the Baby B Quilt!


How did I get it done so quickly?

* The size was very manageable
* The quilting was super simple straight line stitches
* The binding was machine sewn...a first for me.  My others have been part machine sewn and part hand sewn.

Want to make one?

The pattern that I did was a simple square that was roughly 39" x 39."  You can adjust the design to make it bigger by adding another row of squares to either {or both sides}.  You could have a 39" x 48.5" or a 48.5" x 48.5" or 48.5" x 58".  You get the idea!

I made 16 squares using this pattern below.
And I used six different fabrics for the front of the quilt.  To make one like mine, you'll need:

8 pieces - 4" x 4" - Fabric #1
8 pieces - 4" x 6" - Fabric #2
8 pieces - 6" x 10" - Fabric #3
8 pieces - 4" x 4" - Fabric #4
8 pieces - 4" x 6" - Fabric #5
8 pieces - 6" x 10" - Fabric #6

Next, sew the larger pieces together like in the pattern above.  If you use six different fabrics like I did, you'll have 8 squares identical and another 8 squares identical.

Then I arranged the larger quilt pattern by rotating the squares by 1/4 turn every time.  There's a rough picture below.
Now sew the squares together to give a finished quilt top!  I love the randomness of how it looks once it is all sewn together.


For basting, I always use the safety pin method.  I lay the quilt back on the floor - with the part that will show to the outside facing the floor.  Make sure it is ironed and laying super flat.  Next layer the batting and lastly the quilt top with the top facing up.  And then I start pinning from the middle pulling taut as I go to make sure it's all straight!

For the binding, I cut my binding in 2 1/2" strips and iron them in half.  Next, sew it to the back with the straight edges lined up with the raw edge of the quilt.  I use 1/8" seam allowance here.  Next, fold the binding over to the front and sew as close to the folded edge as possible mitering the corners.


That's it!  Email me or comment here with any questions.

And fold it up, tie with a ribbon, and give it away!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Budgeting 101 - what I've learned

In January, I posted my goals for 2012.  The year is over 1/4 of the way through and I've made very little progress...

With my year-long maternity leave (with only 6 weeks paid) approaching in just a few months, I decided to tackle Goal #3.

I'll share my embarrassing little secret.  Since having kids, I have totally let go of our finances.  We've been debt free (besides house and 1 car) for quite a while, but with two incomes, I didn't really have to worry about money.  We've looked at what we need to get by each month before, but not to the extent that we did now.  I've not balanced or managed a checkbook for almost 5 years.  I just keep enough money in our checking to make sure that we aren't close to overdrawing anything.  I'm ashamed that it's taken me this long to suck it up and start spending some time looking at what we spend.

But where's a girl who has never had a budget before start?!?!

Well, I started with Facebook and asking my friends...duh :)  And two awesome resources that I found through my trusty FB buddies were Crown Financial Ministries and Dave Ramsey.  Both resources have awesome plans to work towards financial freedom (paying off debt, creating budgets, planning for the future, etc.), but I liked bits and pieces from both.

I used these resources to create my own custom budget...and I came up with 6 tips along the way to help YOU start your own budget.


Know what your income is.
Take a look at how much money you are bringing in.  And understand what that number includes.  Is that before or after income taxes?  Are you investing in retirement?  Does that include your health insurance? Understanding what that bottom dollar includes will help you realize what you will need to include in your budget and what you are already taking out.  Plus, you need to know how much money you have to budget with :)

Look at your spending!
I recommend looking at your past few months of spending.  I looked at the past 12 months for some things and just the past 3 months for others. This will help you get a grasp on what your average electric bill or gas spending is.  And it will help point out your weaknesses in spending and EVERY LITTLE THING that you need to include in your budget.

Where does your money go?
What do you spend your money on?  Look at every little cent.  Everyone knows what their house payment is, what they pay for cell phones, etc.  But what about all of those little things that add up to a lot of moola? A stop for coffee.  Those cute new flip flops.  A magazine here or a book there.  Understanding what extra money you spend will help you plan for these things AND still budget for them if you want to keep buying these things.

Budget for the BIG things.
We only buy gas to heat our house one time per year.  And we only pay property and car taxes once per year.  And surprise, surprise.  Christmas only comes one time each year!  If we haven't saved for these occasions and don't have the extra money, it will  be oh-so-easy to pull out that plastic and charge it. Which is not good for ANYONE!  The easy way to save?  Figure out what you pay for this annual expense for the year and divide by 12.  Then include that number as the "monthly budget" for that expense.  By the time that your bill is due, you will have the money you need saved.

Lower some of those monthly bills!
I've found from experience that if a company feels threatened that they are going to lose your business, they are willing to work with you!  I'm not saying to call and complain just to lower your bill, but it doesn't hurt to call your TV provider, cell phone provider, etc. to see if there is anything that they can offer for you to help lower your monthly bills.  Trust me on this.  My home phone went from $49/month for basic phone and voicemail to $25/month.  Our satellite company knocked $10/month off.  Or look into other options for some of these expenses.  Lots of people get rid of their home phone, or switch from cable to satellite.

Try it out for a month.
Once you have your budget completed, try it out for a month or two and adjust some categories as needed. The goal is to balance out every month!  Have every penny accounted for somewhere.  If you are under budget anywhere, either keep a "balance" for that category or plan to add it to a vacation fund, or kids college account.

And since I'm airing our dirty little secrets here, our first month was a total budget fail!  We made the budget, but just spent like we did before.  And we went over $600 over budget!  April is looking much better though :)

Here's what our budget includes each month!  Yours will likely look a little different for every person, but that's the point in a custom budget :)

Mortgage Payment
Property Taxes - we don't escrow our taxes - {lump sum divided by 12}
Property Insurance

Electric Bill - {average of the past 12 months}
Water Bill
Gas for Heating - for us we buy once per year - {lump sum divided by 12}
Home Phone/Internet
Cell Phones

Eating Out
Hubby Cash to Eat Out - {once his allotment is gone, he has to pack :)}

Car Payment
Gas for Cars
Car Insurance
Car Taxes - {In KY, we pay taxes on our cars once per year}

Health Insurance
Medical Bills - copays, prescriptions, etc.

Misc. Misc.
Gifts - {I have gifts figured out monthly and have split the cost of Christmas over 12 mths and then figured any birthdays, Father's Days, etc. in for each month}

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tiered Vintage Sheet Dress

Around a year ago, I started collecting vintage sheets and fabrics.  I shared my collection a while ago too.


I know that I want to make a quilt with them eventually, but driving home from work one day, I had this vision in my head to make Layne's Easter dress with the pink one.  

I started out with this cute little top from Old Navy (Reg. $12.94 that I scored for 30% off and free shipping).

I took a total of about 4-5 hours {including two fights with my sewing machine and running out of white thread and having to resort to green}.  But this girl looked beautiful on Easter Sunday!


I don't have a tutorial considering it was sewed on the Saturday morning and night before Easter!  But I will explain a bit on how it was made.  This probably won't be simple for a beginner, but someone who has some experience sewing should be able to pick this up:

The skirt was constructed with a plain rectangle of fabric.  I figure the width of the fabric by cutting a piece of elastic to Layne's waist measurement and stretching the elastic out and measuring it.  The length of the rectangle was just the length that I wanted to skirt to be.  

For the tiers of the skirt, I took the rectange width from above and multiplied it by 1.5 to give my tier widths.  Then I made them 6 inches long.  I hemmed one side and zig zag stitched the other.  Then I used my ruffle trick from my ruffle shorts tutorial to ruffle the top of the tier.  I repeated that 4 times to make four ruffles.  Then I sewed the edges of the tiers together to make a circle.

Then I stitched the top of my rectangle piece to my elastic by stretching and pinning the elastic to make sure it would be even.  Next, I stitched the side seam together to close the skirt.  I added the tiers starting at the top and overlapping the tiers slightly so you wouldn't see the sewing on each tier.

Attaching to the top was sort of tricky, but I pinned the skirt to each side and once in the front and back.  Then I created pleats and pinned the shirt to make sure it looked right.  


Lastly, I sewed a simple 2" wide sash to wrap around and tie!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Saving Money {Tips}

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pfister for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

You all know that savings money is kind of an obsession for me!  And ever since I've started a REAL budget, it has been even more on my mind lately.

When I found out that you could go to Friends of Pfister campaign site and sign up for their newsletter and get a free guide on home safety and how to save up to $500 in energy costs, I jumped on the opportunity.

The tips that I found were so useful and applicable to everyone.  Some were new tips, some were not, but it was a great way to help re-energize my inner frugal-ness!

My favorite tip was regarding the windows!  Having double paned windows and making sure that they are sealed properly can save you 50% of your heating bills.  That's huge!  We have okay windows that we got for free when building our house, but that is definitely something we'll need replaced eventually.

I recommend that you check out this free guide and subscribe to the newsletter!  Who doesn't love an extra few bucks in their pocket!

Friends of Pfister is a collaboration between Pfister and Rebuilding Together.  They partner together to help families living below the poverty line by providing safer and healthier homes to communities throughout the US. 

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Visit Sponsor's Site

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Best Deal Ever!

Sometimes the thought of driving 30 minutes to the mall, with my kids, fighting them about getting ice cream or wanting to ride the carousel totally overwhelms me.  I love to shop online.

Anyone else with me?

Christmas Shopping?  50% was done online this year.
Mother's Day Shopping?  Check.  Ordered and shipped right to my door for free.

One of the best websites that I found shopping online is Ebates (ShopatHome is another one).  This is a website that you go to before you begin shopping, find the store you want to shop at, and access the store through Ebate's website.  They track your purchase and you earn a % of what you spend back.

Usually you earn 1-5% of what you spend back in cash, but I've seen some stores offer up to 10-20% cash back at times! 

Since starting Ebates in 2009, I've been paid over $67 in cash back!  Score!

Disclaimer:  I'm not getting paid anything other than the regular Ebates referral bonus for saying this :)  I just love that I can get paid to shop online!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Baby Update {24 weeks}

It's been way too long since the last baby update, but everything is going wonderfully!

What I Wore @ Easter
{Dress: Target - Liz Lange Maternity, Jewelry: Premier Designs sold by me!}

Healthy Baby
At 20 weeks, we had our ultrasound telling us how healthy and perfect our little guy is developing.  And got to see his sweet little face again.

Feeling him move
Daddy and big sis have had the chance to feel this sweet boy kick already and there has been once or twice where we could physically see my belly move when he is readjusting.   He is definitely most active at night.  If I roll over in my sleep, it takes him some time to readjust and get comfy too.

Maternity clothes
Maternity clothes have been a nightmare.  I have some pants that I've been wearing for quite some time, but I'm really needing maternity tops now.  I can get away with certain regular shirts, but they are getting a bit tight in my midsection :)  I have kept and reused my maternity clothes (including some handed down from friends), but all of my short sleeve shirts are missing :(  I am not a fan of the style of some of the big maternity stores, but have had luck shopping at Target, Old Navy, and Gap in the past.  I've been totally disappointed in Gap and Old Navy's maternity selections (plus there is only one store for each locally that carries maternity and their selection is shopping online is not fun).  I did score a whole bunch of goodies from Target with birthday money from my momma last week and I love everything I purchased!

Since my post on names, we've come up with a few others that we are liking a lot...but still not loving.  We really aren't even considering the ones I talked last time anymore {Max, Sawyer, Harper}.

My husband recommended Knox {from a little kid he heard a dad yelling at in Home Depot} and we both REALLY like it.  We just aren't sure that Knox Nelson sounds good.  Is it too many Ns?

And a few weeks back, we were talking about how we were probably going to use my dad's middle name.  My dad is a Jr. and my grandpa's middle name was from the doctor that delivered him.  We started joking about naming our baby after our doctor until I realized that I REALLY like our doctor's last name as a first name!  So we like the name Bowen too.  And Rowan and Cohen.

Sigh!  We aren't any closer to naming this kid, but at least we have more names that we like!

The bump
The baby bump has grown quite a bit!  But I am constantly getting comments on how little I am for how far along I am.  The funny thing is that looking back, my belly is definitely bigger than it was with the past two pregnancies at this point.


I think the reason I get so many comments is because I am still not back up to my pre-pregnancy weight.  Go ahead and hate me...I know.  But my metabolism when I am pregnant is awesome.  I'd love to have this kind of metabolism when I'm not pregnant.  And not only that, but I've pretty much given up my beloved Mountain Dew {with 1-2 with my lunch a week}.  I had been trying to give up caffeine for sometime because of headaches, so I switched to Caffeine Free Mtn Dew.  And about a month ago, they discontinued it {at least in our region}.  So, I'm pretty much water only now.

Nursery Prep
Pretty much non-existent :)  I have a vision for his room, but we have to move the other two into one room first.  Which means we {*clearing throat* the hubby} needs to get to building their bunk beds!

Preparing for the Birth!
I started my Hypnobabies home course to help prepare me mentally and physically for this birth!  I plan to go unmedicated this time, so this is how I am preparing myself to be able to do it.  I totally caved to drugs the previous two births. I'm amazed at how relaxed and deep in hypnosis I get in my practices.  I was a bit skeptical at first, but I'm a believer so far!  We'll see how it goes come July or August! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter from {TCBL}

Happy Easter from {This Crazy Blessed Life}!


What a glorious few days we have had to celebrate our Risen Savior!  We had two whole days of celebrating with a total of five egg hunts.  The kids are running on sugar and adrenaline :)  

On Saturday, we had two family get togethers.  Complete with pictures with the Bunny!  


On Sunday, we woke up with two little munchkins in our bed and started out our morning with reading from the chapter of Luke on the death and resurrection of Christ.  Then had the big hunt for our baskets and eggs at home.



We headed to church for a packed service and then to celebrate twice more with our families.

{I won't tell you what Papaw did to make the kids laugh like they are here}

For some reason, my children were impossible to take pictures of this year!  I had over 90 Easter pictures uploaded and between the sun overexposing the pictures and their goofy poses, I had very few acceptable ones!

{Layne was posing like some for of pin-up girl the whole time}

{Gray kept striking these weird strong guy poses - case in point above and below}


Thursday, April 5, 2012

To blog? To sew? To sleep?

This is what my mind is pondering right now :)

For a precious hour to an hour and a half a day (when I'm home with my kids), they take naps.  It's a fight every single time, but they both really still need them.  On no-nap days, we have more frequent meltdowns and it makes bedtime a bear!  That is if we even make it to bedtime.  If we don't have naps and we go somewhere, they are both asleep in the car right away.  And have been known to sleep from 6pm to 6 or 7 am!

I struggle with making Layne take a nap still.  She's almost 5 and will be starting Kindergarten in the fall.  And it will be all day...with no naps.  I know that it will be a rough transition when naps are finally done and school starts.  But she still needs them now.  Oh, the things that moms stress over.

Since my body has been making Baby #3, I've been napping with them almost every time that I can.   But lately, I finally feel like getting up and doing something!

I've been sewing lots of goodies to share with you soon!  A new quilt, an Easter dress, a new outfit for Layne, and PJ pants for Gray.  Well...I haven't started the PJs for Gray yet.  But I plan to today!

But sleep sounds so good.  So today, sleep wins.  

Blogging and sewing can wait another day :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

To more days like this...

A few weeks ago on a Saturday, St. Patrick's Day to be exact, we took our first family trip to the zoo.

We are so blessed to live in the area that we do.  We live in rural Northern Kentucky.  I love the country life.  It's so much more simple and private.  But we are within 45 minutes from the big city of Cincinnati.  It's the perfect compromise!


And we have an awesome zoo here!  We usually buy a zoo pass with free parking, free carousel, free train rides, and free tram rides.  Plus discounts all over the zoo!



We only did the carousel once this trip because we were short on time, but I can envision riding this over and over and over again!

And the train was fun too :)



We love to watch the Gorillas.  It's always a highlight of our trips!



And spring had sprung at the zoo!  There were beautiful flowers all through out!



And this beautiful peacock put on quite a show!  He was roped off because he was making quite a scene squaking.


And I couldn't resist a shot of the growing tummy at the zoo!  This was 2 weeks ago at 20 weeks.  And the kids had to be present :)