Easter frills

I jokingly blame this dress on my friend.  We were invited to her family’s Easter celebration, and on the invitation, it said “dress casually or in Easter frills.”  I had the invitation stuck on my refrigerator, and as I looked at it each time I passed by, I started thinking… boy, it’s been a long time since I had a new dress for Easter!

At about the same time, my wonderful Husband put new shelving into my craft room closets (I will write a post about them later on…).  As I pulled out my stash so that he could install the shelves, I had another chance to consider what I’d squirreled away in those closets in bins and just plain piles.  It was mostly fabric in the left-hand closet, and in one of those bins was a large piece of yardage that I’d purchased for a different dress quite a few years ago.  Thankfully I’d made a muslin of that pattern and discovered that the dress shape was terrible for my body shape, but ever since then, I’d been hoping to find just the right project to make with this pretty mint cotton print.

So thinking about the invitation and the closet reorganization connected the fabric with Butterick 6094.  I made it before–my comic book dress!–so I knew it fit.  In fact, even though I said in my previous post about this pattern that I would petite the bodice, when I actually tested this (very scientifically, of course: by pinching a little pleat while I considered myself in the mirror, haha), I decided in the end to leave the bodice pieces as-is.  I also only shortened the skirt by about an inch from the original pattern length, as well.


As you can see, I also decided to add some brown bias tape to the seam lines to add a little flair and definition.



I also added it to the hem and neckline, and used it to define the fold-over back.




Even though I absolutely love this fabric, I know that pale mint green is not a color that flatters my coloring, so the dark brown edging set it off from a direct contrast to my skin.



The pattern calls for an attached petticoat, and when I made the comic book dress, I debated for a while over whether I should actually make a separate petticoat slip so that I could wear it under other dresses.  In the end, the comic book dress’ petticoat is attached, and I was kicking myself for that a little bit for this dress! …especially since I was up until midnight the night before Easter to get it finished in time 🙂

So this petticoat is a separate garment.  I made it out of lining fabric (mostly because it’s inexpensive, and also because it’s lightweight).  Instead of having it rest at my waist, I actually added the lower bodice pieces (the “midriff”) to the petticoat skirt.  I think it makes for a bit of a smoother line under the dress.  I think I’ll be able to wear this petticoat with another full-skirted dress that I already own, and I wouldn’t put it past me to make another one or two in the future!


Of course, I had to take it for a spin!  😉


Recipe:  Skillet Lasagna from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (page 51; affiliate link)

ATK skillet lasagna

Apparently we’re on a “skillet” meal kick.  When we were making the pot pie recipe, I kept looking at this one, which ended on the facing page.  Since we had all of the ingredients on hand, we decided to make it the next night!

  • when did we make this? Saturday, March 11, 2017 for dinner.
  • did we change anything?  We added in some tomato paste that needed to be used.
  • what did we like?  The lasagna is delicious and easy to make, and it uses ingredients that we almost always have on hand.  I love ricotta, so I especially enjoyed the daubs that topped this dish.
  • what didn’t we like?  Nothing!
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)? Probably!

At the end of February, my husband and I took our kids to a Great Wolf Lodge located a few hours from our house.  We realized that it was the first “vacation” we’d taken as just our nuclear family!  The kids had a blast (so did we!) and ever since we returned, they’ve been playing an imaginary game of Great Wolf Lodge all through the house (think sliding around on the floor pretending to be on water slides–ha!)

One day at the end of March, I was working through organizing and editing my photos from the month of February.  As I worked, I received an email with a free photobook offer from Shutterfly–that expired that night!  Thanks to some recent posts on the Lightroom Killer Tips blog, I had the idea of creating photo collages for photobooks on my mind.  I told my husband, “I’m dropping everything to do this today.  I think I can do it!”  And I did!  Woo!  It was probably the very fastest turnaround on a project for me, period.  I chose favorites from our trip, edited them, organized them into pages, made collages, added text, created a title page, covers, and spine and uploaded it to order– all in about 8 hours.  Whoa.

I’ve done a photobook this way before, but this time, it was even faster- I think because there were a lot fewer photos!  Last time, I just put the collages onto Shutterfly pages and printed, but this time, I wanted to have text along with the photos, so I kept that in mind while I constructed my photo collages.  I made the collages in LR, then imported the “printed-to-file” images into PSE and added text boxes.  The text is a slightly modified version of the captions I’d added to the metadata of my photos, so it went very quickly.


I wanted the title page and final page to be a bit more fancy than just a white background, so I made those pages in PSE (they are still super simple!) and used Audrey Neal’s digital paper from the Whiteout collection to add a whimsical woodgrain.  I also did a quick internet search to find an image of the Great Wolf Lodge logo to use on the title page.

I used the Shutterfly templates to make my cover images and spine, then uploaded everything to print!  It was so satisfying to get it done so quickly.



It was even more satisfying to get the book so soon after our trip, so that my kids could enjoy it.



I even took the time to go through the many video clips I took while we were there and grab some screenshots of us going down the slides!

My kids were immediately drawn to the new photobook.  I loved seeing them sitting close on the couch to look at the book together!



Recipe:  Skillet Pot Pie from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (page 52; affiliate link)

ATK skillet chicken pot pie

  • when did we make this? Friday, March 10, 2017 for dinner.
  • did we change anything?  No.
  • what did we like?  The recipe results in a fairly tasty, traditional chicken pot pie filling with biscuits on top.
  • what didn’t we like?  The recipe is fine, but the end result isn’t anything spectacular, and it used a lot of bowls to prepare.   I was hoping at least for a biscuit-y crust, not just biscuits baked separately and served on top.  For all of the calories that are in this recipe, I was hoping for something with a lot more flavor-power.
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)? Probably not.  I have another pot pie filling recipe that we like better, and it is fewer calories per serving than this one.


It’s finished, it’s finished, it’s finished!!!  I am so excited and proud to say that my China album is complete.  I added all of the memorabilia, all of the journaling, all of the titles, and even a few stickers!

Just a reminder, you can see all the posts about my 2002 China album project by clicking THIS LINK.  I started this album in 2002 but never added the journaling.  It’s been on my mind (and my scrapbook shelf) ever since, and a Finish-it-February thread in the Scrap Gals Facebook community inspired me to try and finish it during February (and March!!) 2017.  My intention was to stay as true to the 2002 style as possible, even though my aesthetic has changed dramatically in the intervening 15 years!    

At the end of February, I had all but four pages finished.  Throughout March (which has been quite a month), I managed to finish those last remaining bits of the album:

Two pages that started with just photos (and a bit of memorabilia) in place:

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Dirt Market – before

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Dirt Market – after

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the Last Evening – before

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Last Evening – after

And the two (which became three) pages that started with just memorabilia+photos:

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Trip Home (in my original plan, this was to be a single, left-hand page, ending the album.  However, I had so many photos, memorabilia items, and journaling to include that I needed to make a two-page spread.  The back of the right hand page became the final page of the album…)

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the final page of the album (shows a group photo of the “parallel tour” group with whom I traveled, as well as a sticker sheet that was given to me by one of the women on the trip)

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Title Page (this page includes the badge that we all wore the entire time we were in China.  The reverse has the name and contact information for each hotel where we stayed– both in English and Chinese characters, in case we got lost– we could just find a taxi and point at the appropriate information and get back…)

In a previous post, I mentioned that I had added all of the city titles to the pages, too.  I cut the lettering using my Silhouette SD and the font “akaDora.” Here they all are, together.



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Great Wall

Even though I am a little disappointed that it took 15 years to finish this project, I do think that the delay had some benefits.  This album was the very first “archival” scrapbook I’d ever made.  When I put it together right after my trip, I did start to add some writing.  But the writing I added was mostly basic captions.  In the intervening years, I’ve learned a lot about memory-keeping and doing more storytelling in my albums.  I think that because I waited this long to complete the album, the story of our trip is more fully present in the album pages themselves than it may have been if I’d just captioned everything right away.  I am so, so thankful that I kept such a detailed journal.  My story was taken almost directly from its pages, and it brought back so many memories.

I’d like to share a flip-through video that I made of the album.  The still photos in all of these posts don’t quite capture the volume of photos and journaling that I did end up including in this album.  Almost every page is interactive, with flaps and accordians and pockets.  In almost every case, business cards, tickets, and brochures are attached in such a way that they can be removed.  Enjoy!

I’m a little late posting my progress for week 4 of Finish-it-February, and I must admit, this album didn’t (YET) get completely finished  (wop wop).  BUT BUT BUT!!!  I am almost finished!  I have two pages that need journaling.  I have one page to do from scratch (the plane journey home), and the title page to put together.  And THEN!  It will be DONE!  A 15-year project.  Ha!  I’d say I made a pretty good showing for February, considering I started out with 62 pages in this album!

This week, I also added die-cut titles to the pages that begin each city section (we traveled to four main cities, and took day trips to two others, plus the Great Wall).  You’ll see a sneak peek with the city title on my Shanghai page, but I’m going to share them all in a final post when I finish the album.  Because this time, I really am going to finish it.  I can taste it now.  …even though it might be a while–a few weeks?– because I have some high-priority stuff going on in the background these days, and so this project is put into the “only if there is extra spare time” category…

Just a reminder, you can see all the posts about my 2002 China album project by clicking THIS LINK.  I started this album in 2002 but never added the journaling.  It’s been on my mind (and my scrapbook shelf) ever since, and a Finish-it-February thread in the Scrap Gals Facebook community inspired me to try and finish it during February 2017.  My intention was to stay as true to the 2002 style as possible, even though my aesthetic has changed dramatically in the intervening 15 years!    

Here are the pages I finished in the fourth week of February:


Summer Palace – before


Summer Palace – after (There is additional journaling under the flap made by the photo on the bottom left.)


Beijing Concert – before


Beijing concert – after

It was at this point that I decided that instead of finishing the end of the album, I would go to the beginning and work up to the point where I started in the first week of February.


the plane journey to China – before


the plane journey to China – after (I haven’t yet printed-and-cut the title tag for this page… it will be added soon!)


Shanghai hotel – before


Shanghai hotel – after (I don’t think I needed to add anything except another key card holder that I had in my stash of extra ephemera)


Shanghai bus tour – before


Shanghai bus tour – after (This became the introductory page for this first city that we visited.  You get a sneak peek of the way I’m going to cut out my titles from cardstock to add to the beginning of each city section. The top left and bottom two photos lift to reveal photos underneath; the caption tags line up when they are closed.)


Scenes in Shanghai – before


Scenes in Shanghai – after (The original page had a photo flap (see the dark red diamond?) that lifted to reveal another photo and more journaling.  There were two problems– the journaling in black pen was hard to read on the darker cardstocks, and the flap itself was getting bent every time I closed the album.  I took it apart, redid the captions on white strips, and now the only interactive elements on this page are the pockets for the city maps.)


Currency – before

I don’t have an “after” photo of the currency page because it’s quite simple and still needs the title tag.  I’ll show it when I share the die cut titles.


Jade Buddha Temple – before


Jade Buddha Temple – after


Yu Gardens – before


Yu Gardens – after (This was one of the very few nearly-completed pages in the whole album, the other being the Oriental Pearl TV tower page that I started with in week 1)


Acrobatic show – before


Acrobatic Show – after (In contrast to its facing page, this one started with nothing but a program/brochure for the show– no photos!  

After this Acrobatic Show page was finished, I had caught up to where I’d begun in week 1, so I went back to the end of the album and our time in Beijing…


Temple of Heaven (left) – before


Temple of Heaven (right) – before


Temple of Heaven (spread) – after

Like I said, I don’t have much left to finish before the whole album is completed! I will share more when it’s done– hopefully by the end of March! We shall see…

Recipe:  Skillet Tamale Pie from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (page 54; affiliate link)

ATK Skillet Tamale Pie

  • when did we make this? Tuesday, February 7, 2017 for dinner.
  • did we change anything?  I left out the cilantro, because neither Husband nor I like it.
  • what did we like?  The flavor is SO GOOD, and the recipe is SO EASY.  Truly a week-night meal.  I texted my brother after just a few bites to tell him that it was a must-try recipe!
  • what didn’t we like?  Nothing!
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)? Absolutely.  It is going into regular rotation!