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Last January, I decided not to share my goals/intentions on my blog.  It was an interesting year, and although I accomplished many things, I didn’t do a very good job of keeping track of them!  I’d like to do better about keeping a list in 2018.  I won’t share every little detail on my blog, but I’ll share a lot of my projects!

In 2017, I tried not to be as rigid in setting goals for myself and then assessing my progress on a regular basis.  There were definitely good things about this approach, but I also felt like I didn’t have a good sense of my priorities and how I was achieving my goals.  So as we start in on a new year (holy moly), I decided that I’m going to share a list of what I hope to do creatively in 2018:

  • scrapbook more: make layouts! (at least one per month?) and figure out some sort of process for documenting stories that don’t need a whole layout, possibly pocket pages…
  • finish my son’s album by his birthday (it’s still essentially at the point that I discussed in THIS post)
  • make significant progress on my Disney 2016 album (photos placed, layouts made)
  • finish my Grenada journal
  • make photo books: Day-in-the-life 2016, 2017 (and probably 2018) and Hersheypark 2015
  • color at least once per week (more on this to come!)
  • sew a new purse for myself
  • sew more garments (I have some patterns and fabric lying in wait…)

As you can see, paper crafting projects have a large emphasis on this list.  Toward the end of 2017, I was sewing almost exclusively (while still keeping up with my photos fairly well), and although I LOVED the sewing, I also really missed my physical memory-keeping projects.

This list will give me a framework for setting my monthly project hopes/intentions/goals. It will almost certainly evolve throughout the year, but I really do want to make good progress on some of those longer-term projects that have been on my mind. I intend to keep a master list in my planner of the projects I finish throughout the year so that I have a bit of accountability and encouragement to keep going!

Here’s to 2018!

 

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So… funny story about the fabric for Husband’s Star Wars pajamas

Somehow I did some very poor addition and the first cut of fabric I purchased for his pajamas was only enough for either the shirt or the pants, but not both…and with a significant amount left over after making either one of those pieces.  There was enough left to make pajama pants for the kids, so I had the bright idea that they could have coordinating jammies with Daddy!  And then I sort of felt left out, so I purchased even more fabric so that I could also have coordinating pajamas!

The kids’ pajamas are made with the Blank Slate Snuggle PJs pattern.  I actually had a hard time finding just the right navy blue knit fabric for the tops… and in the end, I found just the right color in some men’s Hanes T-shirts!  I bought three 4XL shirts and cut them up for the new PJ shirts for the three of us.  I also added white piping at the cuffs of the pants so that they’d match Daddy’s pajamas!  The shirts are trimmed with white knit fabric to mimic the white piping.

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For my pajamas, I modified the pajama pants pattern from Simplicity 1504, and I made myself a Blank Slate Texana Tank with a placket made of the same Star Wars fabric.  It should have buttons, and it *will* have buttons in the near future, but I didn’ t have matching buttons on hand!  I finished these three sets of pajamas on December 23, and I didn’t want to make a trip to the store to get more in time!

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And so in the end, our whole family has coordinating pajamas!  I am pretty excited about this, and there’s a very high chance that we will have more matching jammies in the future!

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Last year, I promised to make my beloved Husband some pajamas for Christmas… except I didn’t get to them until this year!  Right before Thanksgiving, I completed this set for him.

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I used Simplicity 1504 (shirt, pants) and lengthened the pants by several inches.  In future incarnations, I’ll also lengthen the sleeves for him.  In the end, I was impressed with how nice the pajamas look, but I will say that the pattern itself is terribly written.  There were a number of missing markings on the pieces, and the directions themselves were only so-so.

There is piping on the shirt and on the pant cuffs, and I’m pretty proud of how it came out– this is only the second time I’ve used piping, and the first on a garment!

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I love this Star Wars fabric, and I wanted to do do as much pattern-matching as I could.  The ships are level across the pant legs, and I was happy that I could highlight an X-Wing on the shirt pocket…

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…and a happy coincidence resulted in the ships lining up all the way down the back of the shirt and pants!

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The weekend before Christmas, I put together a Christmas party for the PreK through 5th grade kids’ classes at our church.  I wanted to have a craft activity that resulted in something that perhaps the children’s parents wouldn’t immediately throw away!

Since it was a Christmas party, I immediately thought of Christmas ornaments, and after a lot of Pinterest searching, I settled on non-salt-dough ornaments.  I ended up doing a lot of testing and I probably ended up making at least eight batches (or half-batches) to test and produce enough ornaments for my estimated maximum number of party attendees.

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Since the children would be in their church clothes, I wanted them to be able to decorate these ornaments with something washable, and to my delight, ultra-washable markers worked perfectly on the baked clay!

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I loved seeing the kids’ designs.  I had provided a very few samples just in case, but it looks to me that they came up with a lot of their own ideas, too!

On the backs of the ornaments, I pre-wrote the name of our Sunday School program and the year, and the kids added their names.  I had some left over, so I decided to experiment with paint to cover up the marker writing, since the date renders them unusable in the future.  Since the writing was in black, I naturally went to black paint and decided to try to make some star field designs.

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For my own reference, and also in case someone else might be interested, this is what I found to be the most successful (and by this, I mean not always successful!) recipe+instructions:

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 3/4 cup water
  1. Combine the cornstarch, baking soda, and water in a medium pot over medium heat.  STIR CONSTANTLY!! As the mixture thickens, keep stirring!  Remove from heat when the consistency is like smooth mashed potatoes.
  2. Cool the dough in a glass bowl, covering it closely with plastic wrap.  Allow the dough to cool completely.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 175 to 185 degrees F (you should test this recipe in your own oven– too hot of an oven can result in slightly toasted-looking ornaments).  Line a baking sheet/tray with parchment paper.
  4. Knead cooled dough on a smooth surface until smooth and silky.  Helpful hint: a silicone mat is a great surface (not just your countertop!).
  5. On the silicone mat, roll out the dough to about a 1/4″ thickness.  Use cookie cutters to cut shapes, and move them to a baking sheet prepared with parchment paper.  Make sure to punch holes (using a toothpick, skewer, or even a plastic straw) if the shapes are to be used as ornaments or tags.
  6. Bake for 2 hours, turning the pieces over after 1 hour.
  7. At the end of the two hours, turn off the oven, but do not open it.  Allow the clay pieces to cool completely in the oven (overnight is easiest).

(adapted from https://www.tipsfromatypicalmomblog.com/2012/12/better-than-salt-dough-homemade-clay.html)

 

Christmas joy cards

For Christmas, I wanted to do something special for the teachers of our kids’ classes at church.  They give selflessly to teach our children, and in addition to a small gift card, I wanted to do something a little more hand-made.

The design of these cards was inspired by Laura Vegas’ project HERE.  Even though the design on my version is actually fairly simple, it took me a surprisingly long time to get it right, haha!

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The wreath was a cut file Kerri Bradford offered this year during her 12 Days of Christmas, and the “Joy” in the middle was another, much older cut file from Kerri Bradford, too!  I added some extra branches from an oldie-but-goodie fern-ish looking leaf file to which I seem to come back over and over again.

Because I wanted even more dimension and texture, I mounted the wreaths on a rectangle of textured white cardstock, which I sprinkled with gold Heidi Swapp Color Shine (I’ve been watching a lot of Inkie Quill!).  And then I added a little lift to the rectangle by adding a smaller cardboard piece underneath.  I didn’t want the cards to be too thick, but I definitely wanted some emphasis on that center piece.

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Did I mention that we have just over 20 teachers?  I made a lot of cards!  After I worked out the design, I really enjoyed putting these together.

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Even though I knew it was coming up, somehow V’s 6th birthday still snuck up on me!  For the two weeks prior, I was quite busy with a lecture for Bible study, so I didn’t really start designing her cake until the actual day of her birthday (shame on me!).  I knew she wanted a Moana cake, and since I wanted to have it ready by the end of school on Friday (the next day after her birthday), I knew it couldn’t be too involved. I did a brief survey on Pinterest (wow, there are some amazing cakes out there…) and decided to combine a few ideas.

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On the top of the cake, I used a paper stencil to apply green decorator sugar in the shape of her iconic spiral (also referencing the Heart of Te Fiti).*  On the sides, I used more stencils to sort of “spackle” a buttercream star strip design that is taken from her top. ** (Had I been feeling more ambitious, I would have added some of the line designs above and below, but I was also running out of time!)

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I was able to find nice images online from which to create my stencils; I used the trace feature in my Silhouette software and cut the stencils from plain cardstock.

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To top it all off (pun intended :)), I piped some large red tropical flowers with royal icing, and I also used some flowers I had previously made so that I could create a tropical flower cluster.

It was a pretty big hit with my Moana-loving little six-year-old!  I loved seeing the excitement on her face as she saw it when she walked in the door after school on Friday!

*Inspired by these cupcakes and using this stencil
**Inspired by this costume (stencil in the post)

Once upon a time (back in October 2015), I sewed a royal family of costumes for us, and my queen’s gown was selected as the winner for BurdaStyle’s costume contest that year.  As my prize, I was allowed to select three kits from their online store, which resulted in a LOT of patterns!  From the very beginning, I was fascinated by this hooded cowl tunic, and I’ve wanted to make it for literally years now.

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In July 2016, I spent $12.38 to purchase grey knit for the project, prewashed it, and then I prioritized other things.  For over a year.

A few weekends ago, at the end of October 2017, I went on a lovely mini-retreat with my cousin, wherein we rented an AirBnB, trucked our sewing machines and supplies to meet in the middle for about 36 hours of sewing, talking, sewing, eating, and more sewing (there was sleep in there, too!) . But more about that later.  In preparation for the weekend, I gathered many of my to-do list projects and got them ready for sewing.  This was one of them: I pieced the pattern together, traced the seam allowances, and cut everything out.

And then I didn’t work on it that weekend.

But that was ok!  I did other things, and this tunic was still cut out, ready, and waiting.  So in the couple of weeks after the sewing weekend, it was “easy” to actually assemble it.

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It wasn’t as easy as all that, though.  I have to admit that the sparse instructions were a little too sparse for me.  It helped to look at photos from a woman who’d posted about the construction to give me a visual.  I also struggled with matching the shoulder seams properly– perhaps I didn’t add the seam allowances correctly??  I finessed them into place, and they seem to have worked out okay in the end…but I still prefer to have the cowl cover them up…

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The hem length was just right for me– I’ve styled it here with a pair of leggings, and I ended up shortening the sleeves by over 2″ (which was a good thing, since getting the pattern onto the fabric was a very tight squeeze!).

The cowl is big enough to be worn as a hood!  I don’t know when I would actually wear it up over my head, but I enjoy the thought, haha!

 

The dress itself is super-comfy, and I think it’s fairly flattering.  The large cowl needs to be arranged “just-so” to ensure that there isn’t unsightly sagging in the front.  Overall, I’m very pleased with this dress.  I am definitely a dress-lover, so to have another cool/cold weather dress is fantastic.