V dressed as Cinderella on the day we went to Epcot.  Cinderella is her favorite of the princesses, and we were going to be attending the Akershus Royal Banquet (princess dinner) that evening.  We ended up seeing Aurora and Jasmine in the World Showcase, too, even before we got to the dinner!







About the construction of the dress:

This dress is view A of Simplicity 2463.  I made the sleeves from a contrasting organza sprinkled with sparkly stars, and used the same organza to make the peplum.  It took some research to figure out how to make that peplum (and I’m still not sure I could repeat it!), but they turned out okay!

The pattern calls for a gathered, elasticized sleeve hem, which I did at first, but V really didn’t like it, and I don’t blame her.  The organza was stiff and scratchy, so they were uncomfortable.  Instead, I removed the elastic and took a tuck in the hem, and I LOVE the result.  They look more like Cinderella’s sleeves and are much more elegant and properly finished-looking.


See all of the Project Princess Dress posts by clicking HERE.

I don’t usually post so frequently in a week, but I wanted to post about this layout, since I made it for the weekly challenge on Shimelle’s blog.

When I was finishing the last layout I made and putting away the supplies I’d used from the Studio Calico “Mind the Gap” kit, I came across the last full sheet of patterned paper.  Until this point, I had thought it was pretty, but I was sort of lost as to how I would use it, since it came pre-printed with the effect of layers.  Since I generally use lots of photos and make my own layers (if I have them), it seemed completely outside of my style.  (And really, if I’m being honest, this whole kit has been a challenge to use…)  However, this photo came to mind– it was in my stories-to-scrapbook album near the other photos I’d used recently.  A single photo (a selfie!), with complimentary colors to the “impossible” paper.  Perfect!


I decided to try to not think too hard and just layer other papers from the kit to add to the layered effect already in the full sheet that I’d use as a background.  I added some stamping (with the kit stamp) to imitate some stamping I’d seen Shimelle do in the second video of her “Return to the Collection” class.


And that “So Sweet” die cut!  I never thought I would use it… Not only is it huge (for my embellishment style), but it has a sentiment that I didn’t imagine I would ever use on a page… but as I pulled out papers to layer behind the photo, it fell out of the kit bag– and it fit perfectly at the corner.  The sentiment worked perfectly, because it was “sweet” as in ice cream.  (Yum)


So the weekly challenge was to scrapbook with hearts.  Really, I should have swapped the order of these last two layouts I’ve made, because I used hearts in the last one because it was about a date night, and this one features the selfie photo!  However, the challenge was the perfect inspiration for what I should use to embellish the layout.  Since I’m so close to the end of the kit, I’m essentially out of embellishments.  I added some circles to repeat the shape of the huge die-cut, and then I added hearts, inspired by the challenge, because boy, oh boy, did we love the ice cream at this little place!  The hearts are small, but if you look for them, you’ll find them!


There is one little pink heart up near the top of the page– it looks random, but it’s actually there to cover up an upside-down “5” that was printed on the background patterned paper.  Even though I realized later that there were five of us in the photo, I found the numeral to be really distracting.  The heart tones it down a little :)

Seeing Shimelle’s new weekly challenge series come up on her blog was exactly what I needed!  As I mentioned in my goals post for the year, I want to scrapbook more.  I really love challenges (they give me the restraints I need to be creative and productive).  And Shimelle is right up there on my list of favorite scrapbookers.  Great combination!

When I made the Singer Castle layout, I’d been flipping through my album-of-stories-to-scrapbook and so these “old” stories from before Husband and I had kids were on my mind.  When I saw the first challenge, scrapbook a selfie, this set of photos and its accompanying story came immediately to mind.  The main photo isn’t actually a selfie, but the less-flattering, smaller photo is!  Husband and I went to a mid-week summer evening minor league baseball game, and it was just plain, simple fun.  I had even written out my journaling almost immediately, so I was able to record some details that four and a half years later would have been completely lost.






Again, I started with supplies from the “Mind the Gap” kit I have from Studio Calico (still killing it.  More layouts from that kit HEREHERE and HERE, and there is an additional 2-page layout I’ve not shared yet).  However, this layout was not easy to make.  I shifted things again and again and again.  Finally, I realized that I really needed to bring in some other supplies.  I raided my scrap drawer for some green patterns, and started adding some more purple (those tickets had been looking really out of place!).  In the end, the only supplies from the kit are the cardstock upon which the grid of photos is mounted, and the yellow patterned paper.

I will admit it, I don’t love this layout.  I like it well enough, but I am sad that I don’t love it, because I loved that evening with Husband.  However, the layout is done, the memory is recorded, and it can go into my album, and that counts as a win.


P.S. This week’s challenge is to scrapbook with hearts!  I really should use this page for that challenge, because right after I finished this page, I pulled out another photo to scrapbook, and it is a “true” selfie! 



I’m renewing our challenge from 2013 to make at least one new recipe from our two newer cookbooks each month.  There’s a category on the blog for these posts called “recipe review 2016.”

~ ~ ~

Recipe:  Mustard Milanese with Salad from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (affiliate link; pages 169-170)

SK Mustard Milanese with Salad

SK Mustard Milanese with Salad

  • when did we make this? Thursday, January 7, 2016 for supper.
  • did we change anything? I used only one clove of garlic in the mustard dredge.  Also, I couldn’t find just plain arugula (bummer, since I LOVE arugula), so I used a spring greens mix that included arugula instead, and I left out the fennel, because I don’t like it.
  • what did we like?  The chicken was crispy and delicious, and it stayed moist.
  • what didn’t we like?  The salad dressing was very, very sharp.  So sharp that we added a teaspoon of sugar before dressing the salad.  It was still so sharp that when I had a bit more of the salad, I added even more sugar to take away some of the intensity.
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)?  If we make it again (the chicken was delicious…), I will change the dressing to make it a lot less harsh.

Way, way back when we first found out that we were going to Disney World with Husband’s family and had booked our tickets, I decided that V should have some princess dresses.  In fact, I wanted to make a different princess dress for her to wear each day of our trip!  (Yes, I was living vicariously through her.  I love the princesses, too!)

We do have lots of princess dresses in our house– a generous neighbor family gave us their daughters’ dress-up clothes, and V loves them.  However, I wanted something sturdier and more functional–an actual dress, not a play-dress-up-dress– so that there would be a chance of V wearing the dress for the whole day.

I wanted it to be a surprise for V, too.  At first, the plan was for V to know nothing about the dresses before we actually went on our trip, but as I considered how much time and effort would go into the dresses, Husband and I decided to spread out their “reveal.”  There were five days of visiting the parks on our itinerary, and I realized that I would have to make one dress per month to meet my goal!  We made a list of V’s favorite princesses: Cinderella, Rapunzel, Belle, Sofia… and based on the complexity of the dress decided to make Sofia’s first.  In order to get even more “bang” out of the project, we ended up using Sofia as the basis of our family Halloween costume!  Because I ended up making myself a gown and my son a suit jacket for Halloween, I ended up with just four princess dresses for V, but I still think I did a pretty good job of meeting my goal!  We tried to plan it so that V would match a princess we were planning to see on each of the days.  V received Belle and Cinderella (post coming on Friday!) dresses for Christmas gifts.

Vivian in her Belle dress, plus cloak sewn by Grameen


The shoulder drape is a bit askew here– but I thought the photo was just so cute!!

V wore the Belle dress on our very first day in Disney World– we went to the Magic Kingdom.  We had a FastPass+ for “Enchanted Tales with Belle,” and it was completely magical.  As we entered the park, music from Beauty and the Beast was playing! At the attraction, Vivian had a wonderful interaction with the actress playing Belle.





About the construction of the dress:

After Sofia, I realized that I needed a “real” dress pattern, not a costume pattern, to work with.  I found Simplicity 2463, which had a really versatile set of variation options, and a V-shaped waistline that is common to many of the princesses’ dresses.

Belle is pretty much a straight-up sew of view E of the pattern, but I changed the shoulder drape.  I cut matching yellow organza on the bias and made it into a tube.  I gathered it at the middle front and stitched it in place, adding three large pearl beads.  I finished the ends of the tube, gathered them and stitched them on either side of the zipper in the back.

When V opened the dress on Christmas morning, she was so excited about it that she had to put it on right away– and she ended up wearing it for the entire day!  I was so happy that she was so comfortable in it.  She had no problem wearing it for the whole afternoon we were in the Magic Kingdom on our first day in FL!

See all of the Project Princess Dress posts by clicking HERE.

In January, we took a trip to Disney World!  My husband’s family gathered for a fun-filled five days at the parks.  It was pretty epic for us– Husband did virtually all of the planning and arranging, and I had a head full of projects for the trip.  I’ll be doing a series of posts related to all of those projects, including several for “Project Princess Dress” (alluded to in my post about V’s Sofia dress!)  And now that we’re back, I have even more projects swirling in my brain!

But first, I want to share the very last projects I made for our trip!  I knew that this trip would be an intense influx of memories, and I wanted to have a good way to document them in detail.  I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again, my memory is not very good.  Unless I take photos and/or write things down, I forget them so quickly that it actually stresses me out ;-)  After a lot of thought, I decided to make myself a set of trip journals.

journals to take to record our Disney adventure

I could have brought one single journal, but I thought it would work better to bring one small one for each day.  I planned to keep it in the bag we’d carry in the parks so that I could jot down notes and quotes and other details during downtime moments, like waiting in line.  Having an individual journal for each day meant that I knew that the others were safe in our hotel room in case something happened to my bag (rain, theft, etc.)  I could take as much space as I needed.


To entice myself to really, truly use them, I made them pretty :)  I used an Echo Park Paper collection by Laura Passage called “Beautiful Life” that I had on my shelf.  I won it a year or two ago in a giveaway, but I’d never opened it!  I thought the colors were evocative of the Disney palette without being overtly Disney, and I thought the little day-of-the-week flag stickers were perfect for my journal covers.  And I used some doilies! ;-)

The journals are 4.5″ wide by 6″ tall, and the sheets inside are printer paper cut in half, folded, and stapled (thanks for the long-arm stapler, N!); I basically followed the same construction as the activity books I made for V for long trips.

Inside, I gave myself a few prompts.  On the first page, I listed the park we’d be going to on that day, as well as the initial list of FastPasses, reservations, and other attractions we definitely planned to see.  I also included a space to write notes about the weather.  (P.S. the font is “Waltograph” and the aqua text is a stamp set from PaperTrey Ink)

journals to take to record our Disney adventure

The next two pages have prompts to list the food we ate, anything we bought, and then there was a page to fill in with the favorite moments of the day, after I’d written everything out.  This will be an instrumental planning tool for my scrapbook!

journals to take to record our Disney adventure

Finally, I left a lot of blank pages to write out all of the “magical memories” we made each day.

journals to take to record our Disney adventure

The journals were perfect.  I didn’t end up writing in them during the day as much as I thought, because we went at a very low-crowd time of year and Husband planned our Fast Passes really well, so I think the longest we ever waited in a line was about 20-25 minutes!!  However, I made it a priority in the evenings, after our kids were in bed, to sit down and write down as much from the day as I could.  I wrote some as prose, some as lists, but I tried to get everything documented in as much detail as possible.  I referenced each day’s photos to prompt my memory, and Husband even contributed (see, he really is the best!!)

I must give credit to Natalie at Almost Never Clever for her inspiring and encouraging blog posts about keeping a travel journal (e.g. here and here).  They were on my mind as I stayed up after everyone else in my hotel room was asleep!  I knew if I didn’t write out all of my memories before the next day started, some of them would get lost.

journals to take to record our Disney adventure

The other last-minute project I made was a simple decoupaged mini-clipboard so that V could get character autographs, if she chose.  This project was directly inspired by Jennifer Webb, on the Magic Memory Keepers podcast.


I used ModPodge to adhere another sheet of paper from the same Echo Park collection to the front and back of this very inexpensive clipboard, and then I added coordinating ribbons to the clip to make it even more festive.


I cut a small stack of plain white cardstock to 4″x6″ and brought a small handful of colorful Sharpies for autographs.  I have plans for the autographs that we got!



Let me start by giving an update on my goals for last month.  In January 2016, my goals were to:

  • finish sewing one last princess dress for our upcoming Disney trip: DONE!  (Project Princess Dress posts are upcoming!!)
  • make some memory keeping journals for my upcoming Disney trip: DONE!  (Look for a post about these later in the week)
  • plan my December daily 2015 album:  Only partway done.  Add this to my goals for February.  I think it was a lot to ask to add this to my to-do list with our huge trip on the calendar for January!
  • in addition to working out 3 times per week, complete a 30-day arms challenge: I kept up with this really well until our trip to Disney World.  Not only did I get thrown off by the trip, but I got a bad cold while we were away and am still trying to bounce back from it.  I definitely miss exercising and I want to get back to it as soon as possible.
  • keep up with my photos (though I am giving myself grace for our trip photos. That is going to be a whole ‘nother ball game): DONE!!  I am so excited about this.  I was completely caught up with my everyday January photos the night before we left for our Disney trip.  Since we arrived home (with a very large number of photos, which should surprise no one!), I have been working hard to get them into a presentable form, since I want to share them with family and friends!  As of January 31, I have gone through all of my own photos, with the help of my wonderful Husband, and I just have the PhotoPass and photos from others to go through.  I will talk more about this soon!
  • prioritize Bible study and prayer: God is good!!  He has given me a desire to study His word, and it has been a blessing.  I am thankful for a woman at church, who gave me guidance and encouragement to begin a prayer journal that really fits my personality, and it has made me even more excited about spending dedicated time in prayer.
  • BONUS: I made a scrapbook layout!  It felt so good to get back to traditional paper scrapbooking.  Plus, we tried a new recipe from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook (post coming soon).


As we begin February, I’m setting (and re-setting) some more goals.  They keep me on track!  In February 2016, I hope to:

  • make a basic princess scrapbook for V.
  • make a basic photobook of our favorite Disney photos for V and B to look at– as soon as possible, so that their memories of the trip won’t fade.
  • finish planning my December Daily 2015 album, and order the prints.  If possible, begin assembling album.
  • make a plan for my Disney World trip scrapbook.
  • make cards.
  • keep up with my photos.
  • work out at least 3 times per week.  do an arms/abs regimen to keep myself toned.
  • prioritize Bible study and prayer.

On Saturday, I went to a free photography workshop with some friends.  While it wasn’t the highest level of photography education out there, it did get me thinking about how to improve my skills with my camera.  I’m going to make a more concerted effort to learn the manual functions on my DSLR starting this month.  I’ll be starting by shooting only in aperture-priority mode for at least a week to force myself to truly learn the settings!


What are your goals for February?


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