Tied Up

Hair ties. Hairbands. They're an every day necessity, truly. 

I don't like my hair in my face when I teach dance and too often I get into intense work sessions where I need my hair pulled back. So when I say these little hair elastics are necessary, I mean it AND I'm sure most women would agree with me on that. 

I'm a purist at heart, too. Simple bands are all I need, but lately I've gotten bored of the standard athletic elastic headbands and my plain ol' black ponytail holders. Some of those packets can be expensive though and for what I'm paying, I want to LOVE those colors, not just kinda-sorta-stand them. What's a girl to do, right?

Well, I'll tell you what I did--I went out and made some. That's right, I made some and they turned out to be a really simple project, too! 

Your local Hobby Lobby or fabric store will have rolls of elastic ribbon you can pick up. It's a matter of measuring and stitching together or tying off. See? Simple! Five minutes, that's all you need, I swear! 

Simple Instructions

I found that 18.5 inches of ribbon worked well for my headbands according my head measurements. You can measure your own headbands out, double the length and try that if it works for you. I stitched the ends together, leaving a little tail, no more than a quarter of an inch, and made sure to back stitch for strength.

About 5 inches of ribbon was used for the hair ties and wrapped together at the ends to form the knot. Again, you can measure your favorite ponytail holders--just fold in half, measure, and double the length before knotting. Nothing to it. You can burn the ends, too, so the ribbon doesn't fray. 

I picked out several styles of ribbon; feminine, cute, wild, and sparkly. It's a couple bucks for a roll of ribbon which means I could make multiples if they broke, I lost one, wore it out, share with friends, or if my cat ate it (true story). 

There's nothing earth shattering about this project--it's just an easy and simple one that might add a little somethin'-somethin' to your spring outfits or workout wear. If you'll excuse me, I've got to make a new ponytail holder, since my cat just chewed up my favorite one. Gross. 

What's your favorite 5 minute project to make? 

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Dressing Knit Up

Once you make something, you've got to take it for a spin. I knew I wanted yesterday's knit dress to be casual, something I could wear around the house, but something I could also throw a cardigan over, style with shoes and a necklace and a swipe of mascara. If you ask me, I got it all with this dress. 

Jean jackets work really well with dresses like these and paired with some in-season heels and a long necklace, I'm ready to roll anywhere in town! 

I'm even rocking those "beach waves" which is really just wet hair I slept on the night before. 

Little secrets revealed, but hey man, this is real life, baby! 

By the way, when your husband says your dress is wrinkly, you should probably listen. Whoops...

Keeping it little more casual, I just swapped out the jean jacket for a simple black cardigan. 

This is one of those outfits I deem "easy-peasy" and one I will probably use over and over again this spring and summer. Even Penny likes it!

Got a favorite dress you live in?

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Is-Knit This Dress Great?

Love a good t-shirt dress. Even better, I love this simple gray one. 

Why you ask? Because I made it! That's right folks, I concurred this easy-sew McCall's pattern and I lived to tell the tale and wear it proudly. Knits, you don't scare me any more. 

But really, I made this dress pattern my mission to start and finish over Spring Break and happily, I did! 

It was my first knit pattern and even with a few hiccups, I'm actually pretty pleased with how it turned out. I'm starting to get the hang of this sewing stuff! 

The fabric is just a lightweight t-shirt material--I wanted to start off with something less expensive because I knew there would be problems. In fact, the material was cut incorrectly so I spent quite a bit of time laying out the pattern trying to fix the issue so the dress wouldn't be twisted. 

Like my material weights? That's called "being resourceful," people. 

If I'd been paying attention earlier, I would have had it re-cut, but I washed the material before checking. Lesson #1 learned! 

I still think a serger would have made a huge difference in putting this sucker together, but Lesson #2, I learned a zig-zag stitch would have been an alternative choice. Good to know since I plan on tackling this option again! 

I'm just a novice with this stuff, but each time I attempt another project, I get better at it and that's really the only way I'm going to get better. My ideas for projects keep growing and I eventually want to get good enough that I can tackle those complicated ideas or at least can sit down and knock out a project in an afternoon. 

Still, I'm pretty proud of this little t-shirt dress here. Is-knit it just the greatest? 

What projects are you tackling lately?

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Sew Many Lessons

Every time I see a dress or skirt or top that catches my eye, I think, "ooh! I could make that!" because in my brain, anything can be made. I trot myself down to the local fabric store, sit my pretty self down at the pattern books and start making lists of everything I'm going to make. 

Recently I hit a sale on Simplicity patterns and picked up a bunch I knew I really wanted to try. I've attempted a few projects in the last couple years in hopes I'll get better at this whole sewing things. This last weekend I set my mind to making a cute spring top with as minimal colorful adult phrases as possible. 

Well, I did it. Made the top. It's not perfect but I made it through without tears or yelling and the top ain't half bad either. I've even got my next pattern lined up, determined I'm going to make it through at least three more projects before May. 

There's a little life lesson in everything. For me, I'm reminded of some good solid ones through this sewing journey. 

  1. You can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes work.
  2. You have to keep practicing, keep trying and keep going.
  3. You can ask for help and you should whenever you need it. 
  4. You should be proud of the work you completed.
  5. You must continue to pursue the work if it keeps calling to you. 

So I will keep on keeping on, learning all that I can and practicing. I'll be proud of the work I complete and appreciate all the imperfections--they were all mini lessons to be learned along on the way. 

It looks a little like a scrubs top and I'm thinking it really needs some darts but this is me really refraining from telling you every thought I have on this top. In all sincerity, I couldn't be more proud that I actually made this thing in less than six months. Praise the sewing gods! 

Happy Wednesday, ya'll! 

What projects have you been working on lately? 

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Menu Planning, Oh Boy!

I'm a planner--I blame my mother for this in the absolute best way possible. I remember the day she had a black book then brown book and now she's full on internet based. Everything was written in the calendar and if it wasn't written down, the event just simply did not exist. 

Her ability to keep track of my sister's life, my life, my dad's life, and her own just seemed like second nature with that book. To me, you were a grown up if you had a planner and man, did I want to seem grown up! Mom's influence carried over into college where I went to school in this wonderful bubble that required you to have a planner--legitimately--and I lived by that thing. Every moment of my life was planned back then because there was so much to do. Homework time, work out times, grocery runs, meal times and more. There was not a moment to be wasted!

Between a busy schedule and a budget, I had to get smart about planning out meals. When was the best day to make something? When was the best day for leftovers? How can I not eat out multiple times a week? To top it off, I love cooking and baking so menu planning keeps me in check on the off (read: probable) chance that I will over cook and over purchase and have end up with food going bad. 

I know folks who just exclaim, "I couldn't possible do that!" Well, you could--it's really a choice that takes practice and honestly, a little self discipline. Some people love it and some people don't. It works for me and my family mostly because it helps our ship run better. I try not to take forever on it, but some weeks are easier than others. Planning can be a breeze if you just set a timer and hit hard an fast, 10 minutes. Get in, get out and no one gets hurt. 

Say you're not in the camp of loving menu planning, totally understand! What if I gave you a couple of tips to help make it easier--would you try it? Great! Let's give it a go: 

1. Check your calendar--What's your busiest day, longest day? Take note and plan on leftovers that night. Boom. One night down. What's your shortest and easiest day? That's your meal making night. 

For example, Sunday's and Monday's are easy for me to cook a meal--they're pretty low stress and I'm usually the most energized from a weekend of rest. Tuesday's and Wednesday's are long for my husband so we do leftovers from Monday and Tuesday. 

2. Plot out the week--When I write down the days I'm doing leftovers (even if I don't know what they are yet), it makes it easier to see how many meals I'm making and what exactly I need to buy. Here's what a typical week looks like: 

Sunday - New Meal
Monday - New Meal
Tuesday - Sunday Leftovers
Wednesday - Monday Leftovers
Thursday - New Meal
Friday - Thursday Leftovers
Saturday - New Meal (Smaller) --> like a pizza that I eat for lunch on Sunday or a small grilled meal or it's our eat out night. 

3. Check your pantry and look at the ads--Plan your menu around what you got and what's on sale. I usually make three meals a week and plan a generic lunch I can take when I'm not hitting the leftovers. I have a running list of meals we like and I usually pull from there each week. 

If I can use what I have and purchase just a few ingredients, I call that a win. 

4. Insert the meals you want to make! Balance it out for you and your budget. I can't live on rice and pasta all week or eat only one meal all week like my husband suggests ("It'd save money!"). No one can live on one dinner for seven days and leftovers four nights in a row gets old. 

I'm that weirdo that dreams about menus and salivates over the meals I can't wait to make. Like I said earlier, not every week is like that though. Sometimes it's a struggle to find something! That's where you're list of favorite meals comes in handy. Stick it on the fridge and use it for inspiration when needed! 

Honey sometimes helps, but mostly she wants to lay on my papers. 

Honey sometimes helps, but mostly she wants to lay on my papers. 

I think what also helps, really helps actually, is having a menu planner on the fridge. Everyone knows what's for dinner for the week and you can clearly plan it all out ahead of time. My personal favorite is this Knock Knock pad. 

It's $7 on Amazon right now, but there's a ton more you can search for online that have different layouts. In any case, I've run through several of these puppies in the last few years--it's a 60 page pad of paper meaning you can mess up a couple times a year and still have plenty of sheets left over!

Now that I'm all planned out, it's time to start shopping! Although I think Honey would prefer we just stay in an nap. Happy menu planning all! 

I just get a kick out of planning. And this crazy weirdo cat of mine!

I just get a kick out of planning. And this crazy weirdo cat of mine!

What's your favorite meal to make during the week?

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Stitchin'

My mother is a wiz with the sewing machine. It's amazing what she's created and I've bragged on her skills here before. For my 23rd birthday she gifted me with my first sewing machine,

One of my most favorite birthdays ever! 

One of my most favorite birthdays ever! 

It took me a while - read: 2 years - before I actually figured out how to use the thing. My first project? A Halloween apron. It. Was. A. Struggle. But I made it through, finished the darn thing and proudly sported it, mistakes and all 

I made a series of Christmas aprons for close family and friends after that and ventured into making pajama pants for Pyro Man, flames of course, and a pair for me...that need some fixing. Still. 

It's try, try, try again process. Of course I don't always want to do something simple. I want to do things that have complicated patterns and patterns sometimes are about mirroring and flipping in the brain. That's what really gets me. I can perfect the skills on the machine (I think), but it's the brain games that get me all twisted up. 

This past spring I spent time looking at patterns--I have a small growing collection I need to seriously get started on...I found a kimono pattern I was dying to make. How hard can it be? Well, not that hard, but it took us a little bit...

 I even thought we'd turn it into a video so I tried documenting the process. 

The video didn't happen but I got this great moment of exploring camera work. Mom is CLEARLY fine with this whole video thing. PS--trying to film while creating a project makes it a project in a project. I'm learning just how much time it takes to do that and have even more respect for bloggers and their "simple" posting. Sheesh. This is hard stuff! 

In any case, we cut, pieced and got about half way through before we took about a 5 month hiatus. BUT we finally finished it and I'm so, so please with the result!

Could I have done it on my own? Maybe but it helps to have an expert there to cheer you on, answer questions, and help direct a new skill. This partner project certainly wouldn't have been complete without help from sewing extraordinaire, Mom! 

Of course it's a personal accomplishment to finish a project and feel good enough to wear it out in public. It doesn't hurt when people compliment the piece genuinely without realizing it's your own work! Kimono for the win! 

Thankful Thought #3

I'm grateful for a mother who is willing to teach me how to me new skills and pass on her knowledge of sewing! Can't forget that she's patient enough to stick it out after months on pause!  

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