March 30, 2009

oliver + s playsuit

Here is my latest creation from the oliver + s tea party pattern: the playsuit. This time I used rick rack to trim out the bodice instead of the flat fabric piping, and I think it's a cute detail. The pattern provides instructions to include snap-tape in the inseam to make diaper changes easier, and I chose that for this outfit. I had no idea it was going to be such a pain to install the tape, but after a bit of trial and error I finally got it right!

I think in the right fabric, this would be an adorable outfit for a little boy, so I'm planning to put some together before July comes for our own monkey. Meanwhile, this is just a bit of a whole ton of girly fabric that I in my stash, so this is going up in the shop with the ladybug dress.

March 28, 2009

more underoos

Well, as promised, I've raided the t-shirt stash again and turned them into bun-covers. This time they're for Baby though, since the girl t's we have don't quite provide enough fabric for big-girl undies.

Gus loves the implication of the big "Sorry" on the baby's buns. There is definitely an underlying hilarity there, I think.

March 27, 2009

orbit infant system

Well, we did the impossible! I didn't think that there was much of a chance that we would find the car seat/stroller system that we had been coveting at a price that we could afford, but thanks to our friend craigslist, we did just that!

The orbit system is just totally awesome. It's simple, safe, and completely flexible. All of the pieces are easily interchangeable so it will grow with our needs, and it's well built and sturdy enough to last us through any additions that our little family might experience over the next few years. I'm convinced that this is true because it even survived Dwight's test drive on The Office:

I think it's clear that our constant vigilance and monitoring of the used baby gear outlets in our area has really paid off. We've been so lucky to find the things that we really want, and so far we haven't had to pay full price for any of it!

March 25, 2009

oliver + s tea party sundress

In an effort to use up some of the fabric that I've accumulated over the years and also to keep myself busy during this period of unemployment, I've decided to try my hand at making clothes. I love the patterns by oliver + s and they have a great boutique sewer program that allows you to sell the creations you've made with their patterns. I plan to post this dress along with a few more in my etsy shop over the next week or so.

This particular style is the tea party sundress, and I just love it. The skirt has princess seams and an adorable flared shape, and there's even the oliver + s signature hem facing, which allows for a little burst of unexpected color when your little one twirls around (the facing on my dress is red).

I also took a cue from the ladybug print of the skirt fabric and embroidered a little bug on the buns of the bloomers. Oliver + s recommends sewing a little piece of ribbon into the back hem so you can tell the front from the back, but I think my way is cuter!

This dress is 3-6 month size, but I plan to use it just as a sample and make the requested size to order once they're up in the shop.

More photos here if you're interested.

March 24, 2009

gardening help

Originally uploaded by Gus & Lulu

Since I love to buy new kinds of plants but always forget what I planted about five minutes after I get them in the ground, I decided to take advantage of flickrs "notes" feature to remind me. So far, I've only taken a few pictures of the neglected front yard, and I'm not sure what some of the things are that I planted last year. I figure as I see plants I recognize at the nursery I can take note of what they are and add the details to my photos here.

I think that this will also be a good way to track how successful certain plants are in each area, and maybe it will make me feel good to see how big and strong they grow after a few months of nurturing!

March 22, 2009

and the parenting award goes to:

It's been over 24 hours, and I'm still pissed off at the dumbass who brought her ten year old kid to see Watchmen when we were there. Not because the kid was loud or he was kicking my seat or anything, but because I couldn't help but watch the whole graphic, violent, sexual three hours of it through that poor kid's eyes.

It didn't help matters any that Mom told the kid to "shut up, just shut the hell up" while we were standing in line behind them waiting for Icees, or that she had her hand all over her boyfriend's ass while her kid just stood there looking like the third wheel on her date.

I'm sure that it's possible that the child asked to see Watchmen, and I'm also sure that the adults were not unaware of the R-rating but were just ignorant enough to think that the fact that it had superheroes in it would make it okay for children. As I was wincing through a scene of a guy getting his arms sawn off, it did occur to me that young boys might even think that this kind of thing is cool, but it doesn't make me feel any better that he was there. I just think that there are some things that a child doesn't need to see.

But I do have to wonder if I would have even noticed or cared that the kid was in attendance at this movie six months ago. Is it possible that being a parent is already changing me?

March 19, 2009

22 weeks

Well, there it is. Expand-a-belly in all its glory. I'm starting to wonder at what point I should start covering that thing up for its photo session because I mean eventually, no one's going to want to see that, right? Or maybe it will hold a morbid fascination kind of like a car wreck that will only get better as it grows more and more gigantic over the coming weeks.

Personally, I'm just amazed that I can still button most of my jeans. I guess that's an unexpected perk of the ultra low-rise ass-crack revealing fashions that are so popular with the kids these days. Could be a great selling point for teenage moms: six months in to your pregnancy they'll still fit!!

I need a freaking baby stuff sherpa

The day after we found out babies gender, we took another trip to baby stores. Top of the list, Babies 'R' Us. I would like to say that I think the name of the store should be "Commercialization of the Miracle of Life" or maybe "Consumer Whores have children too". I'm aware that makes me the consumer whore and I'm OK with that. Walking into this place is instant sensory overload. I like the idea of options. I like having choices. I like being able to go into a store and compare items against one another and leave with the item I think best suites my needs. The internet has been a great tool for this. I can usually knock down the options to a short list on the internet then go out and get some hands on experience with the items I liked. When you go in to Babies 'R' Us, they have a ton of options. There must be 4 dozen child seats/car seats/strollers. I think the thing that bothers me most is there are no differentiating features on any of them. I mean this one's got a cup holder and this one supports the babies neck with some futuristic gizmo invented by NASA, but if you stand in the middle of the child transport area and look around, you can't tell which products are better for your child, better for the you and better for the planet.

Lulu and I are trying are darnedest to provide an earth friendly, healthy environment for our little one and the plastic licensed cartoon character options we have been presented with don't meet our standards. We've found a few boutique baby shops around that have a few options that are more along our path, but nowhere seems to provide us the full package. 

On top of all this, I have no idea what we really need, and what's just being sold to me because I don't know any better. I know I need diapers and a car seat and somewhere for the baby to sleep, but on top of that I have no freaking clue. Everyone I know with multiple children tells me the first time they bought everything under the sun and the second time, they bought the bare essentials. All I want is someone to put together a list for me of what those essentials are, and also tell me what I should splurge on. If I can't find this advice in book form soon, I think I am going to have to write it myself. And by write it myself, I mean make Lulu write it, of course.

March 18, 2009

goodbye Right Start

The sad news is that the Right Start stores in our area are closing, but that means that there are great deals to be had, so my emotions are mixed at best. Everything left at the Seattle location is 30% off, and everything on the website is on sale too.

We were lucky enough to snap up the last Svan Bouncer when we visited this weekend. We've been looking at infant seats online and at baby stores but we just couldn't be convinced that our child needed some giant battery-operated plastic contraption that vibrates and plays music and features dangly little characters and obnoxious colors.

The Svan bouncer is much more in line with our aesthetic and is fully adjustable to be used as a recliner or a more upright seat for feeding. It also folds up flat and will require no batteries! I think it's a great choice for us and I'm so glad we found it on sale.

We're also looking forward to the Seattle children's consignment sale that is coming up in May. Some friends of the family have gone in the past and said that it's not to be missed for stocking up on baby gear on the cheap. I'm really hoping that we'll be able to pick up a car seat and/or stroller there for our little man.

March 16, 2009

They don't tell you

So in my reading to prepare for the arrival of Lincoln Harrison James, the uncontested winner of the 2044 presidential election, there is a lot of information about the bodily functions of newborns. I believe I'm as prepared as I can be to change a diaper and handle spit up, burping, etc. But nowhere in my reading has anyone documented the sounds that are coming from Lulu.

There's a symphony of burps, hiccups, and a sort of inverted burp hiccup hybrid in our house these days and for once, the noises aren't coming from me. A noise will come from the other room and I can't tell if it came from her or the cat. Sometimes I ask what any of the sounds are I just get wide eyed shrug of surprise. It's strange and adorable. 

It's been a while since I've posted because there really hasn't been much news from my end. I'm not growing or feeling things. I'm not crafting things for the baby's room to the extent that Lulu is. But with the ultrasound that we had on Friday come a new set of parameters. I'm gonna have a son. Lulu had me pretty well convinced I was going to be protecting a daughter, not raising a man. With a daughter my opinion only goes so far. I can relate to a point, but after that, mom's advice is going to be more important. She's been there. She can speak from experience.

A son is a whole other story. I'm gonna be the chief role model for this little man and that's a scary prospect. I shouldn't be allowed to talk to people (or blog for that matter), let alone raise a child. My views, behaviors and opinions should be kept hidden in the darkest dungeon, not passed on to a new generation. There are a lot of characteristics that I lack that I would want my son to have, but how do I teach the guy to be outgoing, courageous and humble when I'm an egomaniacal, introverted, pussy-boy? It is possible to be all those things, trust me. 

In the end all I can do is my best and with the help of the best people I know, hopefully it will be enough.

happy birthday to me!

What a fun-filled weekend! As birthdays go, this one (the big two-nine) was all kinds of awesome.

After the ultrasound fun on Friday, lunch with an almost-long-lost friend was a great way to kick off the events. We caught up over the best sandwiches from the best little deli in town and thought back to the days when turning 29 seemed like a it was at least a million years away. We used to have such ideas about where we were going to be and what it was going to look like. It's so interesting and kind of funny to see how our goals have manifested (or not) as we've grown up from naive young adults into the wiser people we are now. Let's just say that things, as wonderful as they are, are not exactly what we foresaw when we predicted how our lives were going to be back in those days.

Lunch was followed by happy-hour drinks and dinner at Mama's Mexican Kitchen with some former co-workers who understand my instinctual need for a night on the town once in a while, despite the present affliction which prevents the consumption of any delicious alcoholic beverages. My virgin pina colada was delicious, thank you very much, and so was the food at Mama's. Then there was the company, (and the presents), which made for a highly enjoyable evening indeed. Thanks guys!

Check out this cleverly-wrapped gift. My favorite eco-friendly techniques are in play here. Please re-use and recycle!

And even though my birthday wasn't until Sunday, the party continued on Saturday evening with a family dinner at sister-in-law's house with the in-laws and cousin too! There was delicious food, cake, baby toys, gifts, and familial love all in abundance. My rack and belly were also in abundance, which I didn't really comprehend until the pictures were emailed the following day. I'll spare you the gory details, and let me just go on record and say: Good Lord! I swear it's all happened overnight.

And finally, Sunday- the actual birthday day dawned. I woke up to snow for the first time that I can remember on my birthday, and not long after Mom showed up bearing more gifts! Thankfully everyone else has noticed my need for fat-girl clothing, and maternity clothes and gift cards were the gift of choice this year. Hooray for shopping! Hubby took me to my favorite breakfast spot for blunch, and then we commenced our own little shopping excursion for a few hours to check out some of the baby stores around town. There seems to be a serious shortage of places that have a more natural vibe to them when it comes to outfitting and gearing up your kid. We've spent enough time in Babys-R-Us to know that all that icky plastic and licensed character business isn't for us, but we're having a hard time finding somewhere outside of the internet that suits us. One great place we came across is sadly going out of business, so we were able to score a great deal on a couple of things, but they'll be gone soon and we're back to the hunt.

The grand finale of my special weekend was an amazing night at Teatro Zinzanni's Under the Gypsy Moon. I don't even know where to begin to say how awesome it was. We were seated right in the middle of the action at one of the best seats in the house, and we were fed a five course meal! If you're in Seattle and you haven't been, you really must go at some point in your life. It's just amazing to be so close to the action like that! We could have reached out and touched the performers and quite often they do come right up and get involved with you. Hubby was fed a stray Pringle from a garbage can by a little person impersonating King Kong at one point in the show, and that was just a moment of the excitement. Circus, comedy, Tom Douglas food- it just doesn't get much better than that.

I think maybe I'll turn 29 every year! Thank you everyone for all your warm wishes and love. XOXO!

March 13, 2009

Baby's first photo shoot

Just in case you were wondering exactly what 32 ounces of water looks like, it looks like that. One whole big Nalgene bottle full. All squeezed in to one tiny bladder. Add one growing uterus and a lady poking at you from the outside for twenty minutes and you have the miracle that was my morning. The miracle being, of course, that I didn't pee on the poor woman doing my ulrasound.

Despite my full bladder discomfort and a few minutes where I felt a little bit like I was going to pass out from the heat in the room, the ultrasound was awesome. It's kind of hard to tell what's really going on in there most of the time, but sometimes we would get a glimpse of an arm or something identifiable and it was really amazing. The baby was moving around like crazy for a little while, which was also super cool to see. We could see the heart beating and even though it was just four black blobs pulsing, it was mesmerizing. It's still kind of unreal to think that we were watching a baby moving around inside of me, but I'm adjusting.

I'm also adjusting to the fact that it's A BOY, not a girl as I was so convinced it was. This throws my whole faith in palm readers into question and really makes me wonder just what I can believe anymore. But seriously- we're having a little boy! It's kind of exiting I guess, when I really think about it. Maybe I can't buy pink frilly dresses or put cute bows in his hair, but I'm sure we will have a ton of fun anyway.

Now if you'll excuse me, I just have to go pack up the flowery crib bumper, the pink curtains, and all the little girly onesies I bought in preparation for the birth of my little girl. Little monkey, I promise the room will be sufficiently un-pinkified and the dresser stocked with more masculine attire by the time you arrive.

And, I can't wait to meet you! You're already adorable (and seem to share Daddy's oral fixation).

March 12, 2009

happy stacker

Well, it took a little bit longer than I anticipated to complete this project, but that's probably because I have the attention span of a gnat and was simultaneously working on about six others. These little donuts are kind of tricky to sew, but once you wrap your brain around the way they fit together, they come together quickly.

Overall, I'm happy with the Happy Stacker, and I wouldn't hesitate to try other patterns in Heather Bailey's collection. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, and the end result is great. I think our little bug will have a good time gnawing on these and stacking them up.

And yes, these are photos taken OUTSIDE! In the sunshine! Of course, there's still a sprinkling of crusty snow in the shady parts of the yard, but the sun is out and I don't care! I'm gonna bundle up and go get some plants in the ground- I don't care if I can see my breath. SUNSHINE!!

March 9, 2009

winter wonderland

Ugh- it seems like Spring will never come! I'm watching the snow falling for the millionth time this week and wondering if it will ever stop. And if my poor little baby peas and strawberries are going to make it through all this nonsense.

At least someday I'll be able to tell the little munchkin growing in my belly that the year of their birth was the year that it snowed every day until the day they were born. IN JULY.

March 8, 2009

c is for cupcake

A few weeks ago Bake & Destroy posted a call for the "next great apron" and it brought to mind a sketch that I've had in my idea book for months. It's an over-the-top, ruffled, girly, appliqued apron that's heavy on the pink and not normally my style, which is probably why it's been sitting un-materialized in my book for so long.

The apron features a cupcake applique on the chest, and since Bake & Destroy is a baking blog and cupcakes are a frequent feature, it seemed like an appropriate fit so I got to work. I chose a subtly patterned brown fabric for the cake, a swirly french-vanilla color for the icing, and of course a bright red for a cherry on top. The apron body is a pink and white candy-stripe and the ruffle and tie are pink polka dots. There are two patch pockets inspired by some on a skirt in the great book Sew What! Skirts- lined with the same contrasting fabric and finished with a button.

Despite the tooth-numbing sweetness, I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. It's fully lined and top-stitched all around for a nice professional look. The tie is long enough for a nice full bow in the back or a subtle knot in the front, which I tend to prefer. It's also the first apron I've made with adjustable nickel slides for the neck strap instead of a bow. I like this option because a bow can feel kind of bulky behind your neck. I did have a hard time finding slides that weren't plastic, so I ended up ordering some from this site.

It's been done for a while now, but I finally got around to taking a picture that wasn't totally blurry. I'm a nerd and I have a tough time holding the camera still with one hand to take a picture of myself!

March 5, 2009

whoa, belly!

Twenty weeks today! We're half-way done and expanding exponentially every day.

My jeans still fit, but you can see the button straining beneath my bump there. Things are getting a little bit tight and uncomfortable!

Sleeping on my back is another thing that's just not working anymore. I can really feel the weight of my middle pressing on my spine when I do, and I'm no chiropractor, but I'm pretty sure that's no good.

March 4, 2009

plumber lulu

I try to maintain a basic life philosophy that if there is something that needs to be done (around the house or elsewhere), there's no reason why I can't do it myself. I'm a pretty curious person who likes to see how things work, and I think I'm fairly logical and usually a good problem solver, so this mentality gives me the opportunity to flex those muscles and develop new skills while I'm at it.

It was with this in mind that I decided to replace the leaky bathroom faucet that's been driving me up the wall with the constant dripping for the past few months. We've attempted to repair it twice now, and it just wasn't helping, so we decided maybe it was time to bite the bullet and just buy new fixtures.

I've been bargain-shopping around, as I tend to do, and I found some cool faucets marked down from $89 to just $29 and decided those might as well be the ones. They're way more architectural than the current faucets, but they're kind of a neat contrast to the curvy pedestal sinks and for $29- seriously. No complaints here.

The hardest part was actually getting the pedestal out from under the sink, but with a little creative wedging (that's a sawhorse turned on its side) I was able to apply just enough pressure to slip it out. I left the sawhorse just in case the sink might decide to try to jump off the wall. I'm not sure how much supporting that pedestal actually does, or if it's just sitting there looking pretty.

I was also quite disgusted to see the amount of funk that had accumulated in the drain and on the floor under the pedestal, so it was good to get them out if for nothing else than a deep clean!

Once everything was shiny and de-slimed, the actual installation process was quite simple. The instructions that came with the faucet were easy to follow, and as long as you think of it like a puzzle with interlocking parts you're bound to be able to figure it out. I ran into a bit of trouble with the pipe coming from the drain being a bit too long, but thankfully the plastic pipe was easy to cut with my handy hacksaw, even while attached.

After just about an hour and a half (plus a lunch break because I realized half-way through that I was starving), I have one new faucet installed and no leaks to be found! Of course, there's the matter of the other faucet on the other sink that lives about two feet away, but I think that might wait until tomorrow. I'm exhausted!

See, it even works!

So the moral of the story is this: don't let the fact that you're a woman, or five months pregnant, or even something logical like the fact that maybe you have no idea what you're doing stop you from trying to do simple things. You may be surprised at just how talented you can be!

March 2, 2009

pea trellis

Our latest issue of This Old House featured an article about building a variety of plant supports from apple tree trimmings, and since we just happened to have a giant out-of-control apple tree in the back yard, we decided to give it a try.

Here's what the poor thing looked like after Gus gave the tree a "trim".

Thank you for your sacrifice, noble tree. Your parts will not go un-utilized.

The magazine article has instructions for a variety of intricate structures, all woven from the trimmed branches and really quite beautiful. We decided to try making one for the raised bed where our peas will go, and attempted to reproduce the diamond-pattern trellis that they featured. 

They did some fancy stuff to theirs (like measure), that we didn't bother with, so ours is a little more "organic" looking but no less worthy of a magazine spread, in my opinion.

We also added some horizontal bars because it seemed like we had some pretty big spaces going on and we wanted to make sure our little peas had plenty of places to grab onto. This morning I finally got the plants in the ground, and hopefully we'll have a nice healthy harvest in a couple of months. 

So far, we've got two different varieties of peas in there- a flat pod Chinese Snow Pea and Sugar Ann, an edible round pod type. There's still room on one side for a few more plants, so I think I'll add a green bean to the mix. We're also planning to take advantage of all the great real estate that's left along the sides of the bed, we just don't know what's going in there yet.

I love being able to grow something right in our back yard. Last year was our first attempt and we pretty much just ended up with a ton of lettuce, but now that we have a better idea of what to do I think our efforts will be more fruitful. And by next summer, our little monkey can get out there and enjoy the dirt with us. Can't wait for that!

March 1, 2009

sewing & stitchery expo

Well, since hubby's lucky enough to be spending the next ten days in New Orleans, I decided I deserved a little treat too. I took myself to the 25th annual Sewing & Stitchery Expo and found a couple of great new projects (and a delicious scone).

The first thing that caught my eye was a kit for a knit "moebius scarf" from SweaterKits. A mobius strip is a mathematical bit of weirdness, very Escher-esque, and basically is just a continuous circle with a half twist. The kit includes the yarn and instructions to make one scarf. I think it will be a good next step from the tiny little baby hats that I've been making lately.

Next I picked up a couple of cute patterns that I couldn't resist. Heather Bailey's Happy Stacker Ring Toy will be perfect in the nursery and I can customize the colors to match my style. I also ended up leaving the expo with a bunch of fat quarters in bright prints so I'll be ready to put this together this week.

The other pattern that I bought is a quilt pattern called Birdie Big Blocks by Barbara Brandeburg. I've never actually quilted before, and I imagine it will be quite a while before I get around to actually tackling this project, but it was just such a cute pattern that I couldn't pass it up.
I've been doing a bit of applique lately, so I may just put a couple of these blocks together and see how it goes. Maybe it will come together quicker than I think.