House and Home Update

02/20/2012

• This week movers are coming to clear out our old house. Everything that we don’t antipate we’ll need in the next 6 months is going into storage. We sold our big IKEA living room sofa sectional so we’ll be couch hunting in the next couple of months. We also sold our IKEA MALM bed frame. We’ll also be searching for new furniture for our master bedroom, preferably vintage but we’ll see what we can find. We have a lot of hunting to do this year at estate sales, thrift stores, yard sales—and I’m really looking forward to it!

• Our architect is finishing up our house plans so we can start getting bids from contractors. We’re getting antsy, excited! We close on our old house on March 1. Once we close we’ll be completely debt-free! For a few days, at least. Until we open our construction loan. Haha… but it still feels freeing. We have just a tiny bit of debt right now besides our mortgage and with the little money we’ll make off our home sale, we’ll get rid of the last (less than $3000) we owe on our school loans. The rest of the profit will go straight back towards the new home.

• We don’t know the construction timeline yet because we haven’t settled on a contractor yet. That will depend on who can give us the best price and is someone we can trust and want to work with. I’m not really looking forward to the contractor selection process… Pray it’s an obvious choice and we find the right guy (or lady, I suppose.)

• Precious just turned 7 months old. She got her two bottom teeth and has been trying lots of new foods. (Pictured eating broccoli for the first time above—she loved it!) I’ll give a more thorough update once I edit her monthly photos. She is a beam of sunshine on these gray winter days. We’re still waiting to hear from our attorney on the court date for the adoption finalization. I’m eager to know because I want to plan a big adoption day party!

• Jason just wrapped up a busy two months of travel and he’ll be home a bit more now. Travel=work=pay so these past two months have been great. But I’m also happy that the longer stretches are done for a little while. The awesome thing about his job as a traveling musician is that he gets to spend a ton of time at home when he’s off. He calculated it once, just to prove it to himself, and even with the number of days per year he’s traveling, he gets to spend more time at home with Precious than he would if he worked a 9-5 job. We feel like it’s the best of both worlds. He gets to make a living doing what he loves and he gets to spend a lot of time at home with us.

• Jason’s Acoustic Lullabies album is finally OUT! I am über proud of him. It’s selling well on the road and we’ll have it up online for sale soon. More about that coming soon.

And lots of pictures of Precious, just because…


Phone Photo Friday

02/17/2012

Yes! She is finally big enough to sit up in the grocery cart. (Puffy coat helps!)


Altering Jeans: Bootcut to Skinny & How to Hem Jeans

02/16/2012

Recently, I was shown how to turn a pair of looser fitting jeans (flared, bootcut, straight leg, wide leg, etc.) into skinny jeans with a simple technique. I decided I’d give it a shot and combine that with the hemming technique I’ve done once before for shortening a pair of jeans.

I’ve had these jeans for years. They’re bootcut and too long. I have hardly worn them because I always felt like they were a little boyish fitting, even if I cuffed the bottoms. The waist and hips fit fine—I have a feeling that’s key in this technique working well.

To start out making my loose jeans fit like skinny jeans, I laid out a pair of jeans that fit well on top of the inside-out ill fitting jeans. The pair on top are actually a little too short but that doesn’t matter at this point. I lined up the inner leg seams and the crotches.

Then, I pinned along the outside edge of the template pair. The goal is to gradually meet the existing side seam of the loose jeans. This can even happen at the base of the pocket, as long as the rivet still shows.

Once both side seams were pinned, I was ready to sew along my pin line.

I didn’t take a picture of the sewing. You can imagine what that looked like. Just a simple straight stitch up the pinned line. I decided to sew a second stitch to give the new seam a little extra reinforcement. Cutting off the excess material is optional, though it makes for less bulk inside the pant legs. I left my edges unfinished where I cut and I don’t have a surge machine. That’s another benefit to having two stitched seams, in case the denim frays back after being washed several times.

Time to try them on! They were still way too long at this point so it was hard to tell if the fit was better. Cuffing is no longer an option because of the extra material or unfinished edges.

I folded up one pant leg to the length I wanted (my left leg). See the difference? The right leg is about 2″ too long. The length is a personal preference. I like for the back of the pant leg to just barely touch the ground when I’m wearing a pair of flats. If you where heels a lot, longer is probably necessary.

There is a neat trick to hem a pair of jeans while maintaining the original stitching at the bottom of the leg. The extra material was folded upwards, inside the pant leg.

Then, I stitched around the fold, as close to the edge as possible but making sure the tan threads of the original hem are still visible. I used light blue thread because it was already in my sewing machine. A little darker blue would have been even less noticeable.

Close up it looks a little strange but after ironing the seam and once they’re on, it’s almost impossible to tell they’ve been hemmed.

The finished jeans:

It’s a subtle change (made even more subtle by my poor DIY bathroom mirror photography…) but I feel like I got a whole new pair of jeans for free.


Flying Solo with a Baby

02/15/2012

I found a few great travel tips for flying in an airplane alone with a lap child when Precious and I went to Florida last month. (With a few added notes about lessons I learned on my first solo flight with Ladybug last summer.) I thought I’d share what I learned:

• Get a direct flight if possible. When I flew with Ladybug back in August—my first time flying alone with a small child—the second flight is the one that almost drove us both insane. (Side note: if your child is old enough to move around and has trouble sitting still—pay for her own seat. Or travel with a buddy so she can move between your seats, from lap to lap.)

• Plan the flight time according to your kid’s schedule. For Precious that just meant not too early so I wasn’t waking her up at 5:00 am to leave for the airport, (lesson learned from Ladybug…) and not too late so we got home just a little later than her normal bedtime.

• Pack some new, time-consuming toys for the flight but avoid noisy games for the sake of the other passengers. Also soft toys if your toddler likes to throw things at people. (Ladybug…) Precious had a lot of fun with a rattle but she can’t hold anything for long. I used a pacifier clip to hook the rattle onto her bib. Worked like a charm.

• Drinking helps a little one’s ears pop. Descending is the worst time for ear pressure. Plan a bottle feeding for a younger one or reserve some tasty drink for a toddler until the last 20 minutes of the flight. As soon as my ears started to pop, I started making her bottle.

• Bring a big ol’ bottle of water from the outside world. If you insist that it’s for making bottles for the baby, security will test it and allow you to take it through. Much cheaper than buying a bottle of water in the airport. If you put all of your liquids in a separate bin (outside of your carry on) it makes it faster.

• Bring a small, cheap, sturdy, umbrella stroller. I love the Jeep one we got for $5 at a yard sale. It’s compact and lightweight but has big rugged wheels and steers easily. Most importantly, because we didn’t pay much for it, I wouldn’t be upset if it was broken or lost after being gate-checked. The people at Southwest were sweet enough to set it up for me before we got off the plane both times.

• Pack as light as you can. This required a lot of planning for me. Knowing I would need my hands free to get Precious through security and onto the plane, I opted for a backpack as a diaper bag/purse and I checked 1 large suitcase for both of us. I think every airline allows you to check a car seat at no charge. (See below about car seat drama.)  Between the backpack and the stroller, I was able to do everything I needed to do—check bags, get through security, buy dinner. Once I had my checked bag back, I could push the stroller with one hand and pull our big suitcase with the other. It wasn’t easy but it worked.

• Keep a change of clothes in your carry on—for both of you. If I had needed to change, I would have looked pretty silly in my tank top and knit shorts, but they were small and compact and would have been better than being covering in baby poop through a flight. I also packed 1 extra outfit, 1 set of sleeper PJs, and a few extra bibs and burp cloths for Precious. Four or five diapers and a small pack of wipes don’t take up too much space. I also tuck a few ziplock bags into the diaper bag (all the time) for stinky, soiled clothing. Our flights were less than 2 hours so we didn’t need to use the on plane diaper changing station in the bathroom but a friend who is experienced in international travel with her kids gave me this tip: Once you pull the changing table down, there is no room to move so just bring the diaper and wipes into the bathroom with you—not the whole diaper bag.

• Bring your own car seat, if possible. I decided I’d rent one from the rental car agency since they told me it would be free with my AAA membership. Upon arriving to pick up the car and car seat, I was informed that it would be $85 to rent a car seat for 5 days because my rental was not reserved through AAA. More than we paid for both our car seats combined! That’s a pretty freakin’ expensive miscommunication. Thankfully, after getting past the rude and persistent clerk, the manager waived the fee. However, it was a brand new, unfamiliar car seat and it took me over 20 minutes to figure out how to install it properly in the rental car and how to adjust it to Precious’ size. Lesson learned: I should have just brought our car seat. It would have been free, already the right size, I know how to install it quickly and it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal to strap it to my big rolling suitcase.

Have fun! Be flexible and relax. Not everything is going to go according to plan. It will all work out. Remember, you’re on vacation.

There are some more extensive, detailed tips for airplane travel with small kids here.

(Stock photo above purchased from iStockphoto.com)


I love love but I hate Valentine’s Day

02/14/2012

This is the first year that I completely, whole-heartedly am relieved that we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. And not just because Jason is out on tour. A few years ago he mentioned that he felt like the holiday was forced, putting unhealthy expectations on couples, becoming a competition, and setting a lot of people up for disappointment. We never really did much to celebrate the day—usually dinner at home to avoid the restaurants—and maybe a few candles, some chocolates, flowers, the usual. But we’ve moved away from that to not doing anything at all. I’m sure that sounds really cold and unromantic to some people. The truth is, we go on date nights several times a month, we show and tell how much we love each other everyday, we surprise each other with random gifts—we’re both very affirmed in our love and we have a healthy marriage. So take that, St. Valentine. Or Hallmark. Or whoever… And if I feel I’d enjoy some chocolates or fresh flowers in the house—GASP–I buy them! The random delivery of fresh flowers at work just because he knows I’m having a crappy day or the specialty chocolate from some exotic location just because he was thinking of me—those things mean way more to me than anything Jason has ever given to me on February 14.

Valentine’s Day IS a really important day for another reason, though. It’s my dear friend, Laren’s birthday! Precious says Happy Birthday, Aunt Laren! Fun fact: Laren and Precious both have heart shaped birthmarks.


Thank You!

02/12/2012

Last week a box arrived from a very thoughtful and generous blog reader, Jessica. She had contacted me a little bit ago (long enough for me to almost forget) asking if I’d be interested in receiving some hand-me-downs from her daughter who is a few years older than Precious. I gladly accepted. Many things were never worn since Jessica’s daughter has been in a purple-only phase for a while. I was surprised and so very blessed to see this box on Friday morning at my office.

I couldn’t wait to go through everything. It’s mostly still too big for Precious right now (except for the cute kitty hat pictured below), which kind of makes me want her to hurry up and grow. But, really she is growing fast as it is and I know it’s not going to seem like very long from now when she’ll be wearing 2T and 3T.

The least I could do is to give Jessica a big ole blog public, THANK YOU! She is also a very talented fine artist. Check out her website: JessicaFairley.com. I particularly love the seascapes.


Phone Photo Friday

02/10/2012