Welcome, Baby Finn!

First comes the love, then comes the marriage, then comes… my very first nephew in a baby carriage! At around 4 a.m. on September 24, I was overjoyed to receive a message that Finn Joseph had finally arrived. Isn’t this the most precious baby you’ve ever seen? I know I’m biased, but… BEST. NEPHEW. EVER. Look at that baby burrito bundle. LOOK AT HIM. (It’s my job, as the auntie, to tell you to LOOK AT HIM in all caps. Because that’s what aunties do, and also, BECAUSE HE IS AMAZING.)

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Given my brother Jason’s love of planes, while most babies are delivered by a stork, I’m fairly certain Finn arrived via whimsical airplane, although my sister-in-law Sarah may have a different perspective. 😉 My brother is a recreational pilot, so him and Sarah like to go on lots of little adventures in their plane. Jason even asked Sarah to marry him while they were flying. And both of the baby’s grandfathers – mine and Jason’s dad, and Sarah’s dad – also have a special interest in airplanes. So needless to say, this baby has no choice but to love airplanes.

In fact, at just 6 weeks old, Finn experienced his first flight!

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When I heard a baby was on the way, I knew an airplane-inspired gift was in order.

I researched some airplane-inspired quilt patterns, and while there were many miscellaneous features that I liked with each pattern, there wasn’t one pattern that stood out as The One, so I decided to do my own thing.

I don’t know why I always choose to go down this road of doing “my own thing.” It’s mentally exhausting, I experience a ton of decision fatigue and I spend most days convinced that I’m just messing the whole thing up. But at the same time, I refuse to settle for what’s out there … and that’s why I love making things! Ahh, the beauty (and the pain) of DIY.

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I decided to take a risk and do something I’ve never done before, combining two skills from my sewing/quilting experience toolbox: foundation paper piecing and rag quilts. While I’ve done quite a bit of each of those things separately, I’ve never rolled the two skills together. But I’m most comfortable making rag quilts for baby gifts, and I was equally passionate about wanting to include paper-pieced airplanes.

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Other than substituting the airplane blocks for some solid blocks, the process was really no different than the typical raq quilts I’ve made. A few adjustments:

  • I added some additional fabric around the border of each of the airplane blocks to for extra seam allowance. Since the seam allowance gets cut up on a rag quilt, I didn’t want the planes to be cut up.
  • While I typically just quilt an “X” on each block for rag quilts, on the airplane blocks, I quilted around the border of the airplanes.
  • I made 12 airplane blocks total, and in order to best showcase them, I came up with a new, square layout versus the rectangular layouts I’ve used in the past.

I love the way this quilt turned out, and I was especially pleased with the fabric combination, the square layout and the inclusion of the paper-pieced blocks. I wouldn’t hesitate to make a quilt like this again, replacing the airplanes with any other fun paper-pieced shape.

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But the true test was introducing Finn to his quilt a few weeks ago when I met him for the very first time. Actually, it wasn’t really Finn’s first time seeing his quilt. He was already a month old by the time I got to fly across the country to meet him, and he had spent a lot of quality time in his nursery by the time I met him. But he was polite enough to act surprised for the photo anyway. What a nice boy!

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I think it’s safe to say – this quilt is Finn-tested, Finn-approved!

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Mother’s Day: I passed with flying colors

My mom knows the drill: Mother’s Day is the “homemade” holiday, and therefore, Mother’s Day gifts come from my craft room (whereas her birthday, one month later, is the “Amazon” holiday… LOL). Previous Mother’s Day gifts included a jewelry roll and a nail polish tote.

How do you thank the woman who taught you the invaluable life skill of using a photo booth?

This past year, my mom has really embraced the “adult coloring” craze – aka, the trend where adults get high-quality coloring books with really intricate designs, using colored pencils or gel pens to meticulously fill the page with color. Her coloring book collection has grown exponentially throughout the year and I’ve had fun sitting at her kitchen table coloring with her whenever I visit my parents. My mom even started a coloring group where a bunch of ladies get together and color and talk about life a few times a month.

But I’ve got to hand it to my mom – her coloring skills are top-notch, and she has much more patience for the intricate designs that I do (I usually abandon my coloring page a quarter of the way into it). Even though my mom claims not to be creative, crafty or artsy – she’s always been a rock star when it comes to coloring. Whether it was a school project or a children’s menu in a restaurant, I remember watching her and thinking, “WOW. Moms are so good at coloring.” Turns out, it’s not all moms that are good at coloring. Just my mom!

Here are a few of her finished works of art…

Coloring

Given my mom’s love of coloring, this year’s Mother’s Day gift was a tote bag (possibly for toting her coloring books!) made with coloring-book-esque fabric… and of course, paired with fabric markers so the bag can be COLORED!

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The “coloring book” fabric is My Little Garden by Olivia Henry on Spoonflower (fun fact, this fabric is also available as WALLPAPER you guys – how rad is that!?) and the tote bag pattern is the Outta Time Tote by Dog Under My Desk. I have written about Dog Under My Desk patterns many times in the past and I really can’t gush about them enough. They’re the best bag patterns I’ve ever worked with and worth every penny.

I used black zippers (which killed me, because you know how much I love bright-colored zippers – but it was the right decision) and lined the bag with a generic black and white leafy print.

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I anticipated my mom would open the gift and immediately say, “I can’t color this bag! It’s too nice! I’ll ruin it!” Therefore, I also made this zipper pouch with leftover fabric so she could “test” the fabric markers and her coloring skills.

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Turns out, my mom’s reaction went exactly as planned, so the add-on was a good call. Plus, she really loves having the extra zipper pouch for carrying her colored pencils to her coloring group.

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Another Mother’s Day, aka Homemade Holiday, on the books! Till next year…

LindsaySignatureP.S. – For other completed Dog Under My Desk projects, check out my previous posts:

 

 

 

I’m not a dentist (and other weird facts)

I come from a family of dentists. Three generations of dentists, in fact. My grandpa was a dentist, my dad is a dentist and my brother is an oral surgeon. We even have a photo of my grandpa working as a dentist during WWII.

Written on the back of the photo: Somewhere in France, doing dental work on a soldier in an apple orchard. My dental assistant on the right.

Written on the back of the photo: Somewhere in France, doing dental work on a soldier in an apple orchard. My dental assistant on the right.

My dad retired this week, so I guess I should have said he was a dentist – in the past tense. But given how important dentistry is to my family, you can understand why it feels a little weird to say it in the past tense. My dad’s retirement has been a pretty big deal around here. Especially because now I’ll have to start buying toothpaste for the first time in my life.

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Inspiration from up north: Jill’s denim quilt

As I write this post, I’m sitting in a sparkling sunroom surrounded by windows on three sides and admiring the majestic greatness of a northern summer. I spent this past weekend in a small town near Madison, Wisconsin, visiting my brother Jason and future sister-in-law, Sarah. We spent the weekend celebrating Jason and Sarah’s recent engagement and new house in addition to my dad’s retirement from dentistry. I also visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the first time!

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Wisconsin as seen via my iPhone — A new “You Are Here” Starbucks mug, the infamous
terrace chairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Belgian Red cherry ale.

While I love my “Florida life,” spending time up north during the summer is always special. Everything feels just a little different outside of Florida – the grass is softer, the breezes cooler and the sounds reminiscent of my childhood summers in the Chicago suburbs. And of course, a change of scenery is always inspirational for a creative soul. I first realized this a few years ago when I wrote about some regional differences I noticed when visiting a fabric store in Northern Wisconsin.

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The (not so) big two-eight.

Tomorrow I turn 28. I want to write something profound, but I’m at a loss. What’s there to say about 28? I keep typing and backspacing, so I’ll just start with this celebratory birthday photo from 1988 instead:

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My fourth birthday at pre-school, 1988

So much has changed in the last year that I can’t help but wonder what 28 has in store for me.

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY…

I lived in a tiny apartment… now I’m in a grand ‘ole townhouse with the most spectacular sewing nook in the world!

My life was Winnie-less… so hard to believe this precious puppy hadn’t even been born at this time last year. She’s been a part of our little roommate-family since July, so it’s hard to imagine life without her. I’m so thankful that my roommate Katie brought Winnie into our home and our hearts!

Winnie the Morkie

Winnie love.

I was working two jobs… office by day, retail by night. Since then, I quit the retail job and I’m spending a zillion hours pursuing my MBA instead… which might as well count as two jobs!

I had never run a half-marathon. My longest race had been a 10K – only 6 miles. But in October, I completed Disney’s Wine & Dine Half-Marathon with my two wonderful friends and running-mates, Joe and Chris. We were so proud!

Wine and Dine Half Marathon

Race photos are never attractive, so thanks in advance for not judging!

I had never gone home for the holidays since moving to Florida in 2006. But this past year, I went home for Thanksgiving and spent the day on a dairy farm with my family and some dear friends.

And speaking of family, my brother Jason was finally able to visit me in the Florida for the first time!

Mickey and Minnie in Town Square Theater

Spending some time with my favorite mice, my brother Jason and his girlfriend Sarah.

I still had all four wisdom teeth… now I don’t have any. So much for being old and wise!

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Some dentist humor...

I had never traveled abroad. And while I still don’t technically have any international trips stamped on my passport, I will in just four months as I head to Turkey, Hungary, Austria, Sweden, Finland and Russia!

I never could have predicted any of the ups and downs that came my way at 27, for better or for worse. I’m insanely curious about what 28 has in store, but there’s only one way for me to find out! Stay tuned. 🙂

November and December in 15 photos or less…

I haven’t updated my blog since Halloween, and tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Talk about MIA!

I could write a novel about what I’ve been up to since then, but instead, I’ll show you… iPhone-photo-library-style…

Lindsay and Gizmo

I went home to Chicago for Thanksgiving… I spent some time cuddling my brother’s dog, Gizmo, in the backseat of the car while we drove to Wisconsin.

Baby Cow

We spent our Thanksgiving on a dairy farm!

Spool of Thread Ornament

On Thanksgiving, my family was a part of a very special tradition in which we each received a special ornament. The little spool of thread fit me perfectly!

Christmas Tree

Back to Florida, and put up the Christmas tree. We don’t have a tree topper, so the Mickey ears Santa hat is our traditional solution.

Winnie and the Minnie Wreath

Winnie proudly admires the Minnie Mouse wreath I made two years ago. We have the most magical house on the block!

Clothespin Wreath

Put the finishing touches on my Christmas card clothespin wreath. Since then, we’ve filled it up by clipping our Christmas cards on all of the clothespins! I promise we’re more popular than this photo portrays. 🙂

Mickey Popcorn Bucket

Found this lil guy sitting on my desk one morning and felt really happy!

Corn Chowder

I tried to keep it healthy one week and made some delicious corn chowder. As you all know, Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday, so I use my heart-shaped measuring cups all year long. The hearts were a welcome break from all of the Christmas madness! A lovely reminder that my favorite holiday is just around the corner. 🙂

Sewn Christmas Cards

Sewed a few Christmas cards by quilting some fabric panels and sewing them onto blank cards. It was my first attempt at free-motion quilting. Man oh man! Free-motion quilting is crazy, you guys! As you can see, I didn’t do a great job – LOL! More on that later…

DAK Lodge

My mom came to visit and we spent a lovely weekend at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. We loved watching the zebras and giraffes outside our balcony when we weren’t hitting up the Disney parks!

Zebra Domes

Delicious zebra domes were the snack of choice when we returned to our room each night. 🙂

Christmas lights on Cinderella Castle

It wouldn’t be Christmas without seeing the sparkling Christmas lights on Cinderella Castle… caught this pic post-fireworks at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party with mom.

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!

WIzard of Oz inspired zipper pouch

Squeezed in some craft time and sewed this lovely Wizard of Oz inspired zipper pouch! Ruby slippers and a yellow brick road…

Studying with Winnie

And of course, through it all, I’ve been doing schoolwork. This morning I worked on my accounting exam while Winnie snacked on my accounting textbook. Nom nom!

Well, 15 iPhone snapshots later, and I’ve covered November and December!

So… what have you all been up to?

The Quilt Cottage & other tales from up North!

With some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations at our fingertips, have you wondered where we Central Florida “Disney” people go on vacation? Well, here’s the answer – in my case, at least:

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Mooooooooooooooove over, Mickey Mouse!

My family started taking annual summer trips to Minocqua, Wisconsin long before I was even born – my dad’s family started going when he was a kid. We spend more than a week residing in lakeside cabins with a large group of our closest friends.

Ideal Minocqua days are spent water skiing, boating, kayaking, jet skiing and swimming in the lake; Evenings grilling, playing board games and passing out from exhausting, activity-filled days.

Dad water skiing

My dad is really, really good at water skiing!

Of course, there’s always at least one dreary day in Northern Wisconsin – it’s not the Sunshine State, after all! This year, my mom and I visited The Quilt Cottage, a warm and welcoming Northwoods-y fabric shop.

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The Quilt Cottage on Highway 51 in Minocqua, Wisconsin

The store was homey and friendly, and definitely had an overall woodsy feeling. Most of the fabrics were very muted without many bright or bold colors. I spent a lot of time checking out the small selection of bag and purse patterns. I liked more than a few of them, but I refrained from getting any knowing how many patterns I have sitting at home! Even though I didn’t purchase anything, it was interesting to see how regional differences can affect the overall tone of a fabric store.

Now that I’m back from vacation, I do have a rather large scale sewing project in the works, but as usual – it’s top secret and I can’t write about it until it’s finished! Of couse, my “to sew” list is pages long, so hopefully I’ll have a new project to write about soon.

Although not completely responsible for my month-long blogging absence, my vacation preparation and recovery time have definitely taken a toll on my sewing adventures this past month. What have you all been up to?

I did not sew this wooden birdhouse but I’m writing about it anyway

Happy Father’s Day!

Here’s the sewing-related Father’s Day blurb: a free necktie tutorial at The Purl Bee!

Father's Day tie sewing tutorial

Photo and tutorial courtesy of The Purl Bee

My dad rarely wears neckties in his profession – he’s a dentist and can most often be found wearing scrubs. However, I have some guy friends who often wear ties to work, so I have tucked this tutorial away for a future project!

Now, the non-sewing related Father’s Day craft that I’ve been waiting to share. My dad really enjoys birdhouses, bird feeders and pretty much any other device that attracts birds into the yard. He spends summer nights sitting on the back porch with a glass of red wine, looking over his land and watching the birds take advantage of the whimsical sanctuary he’s created in the yard.

In recent years, I’ve taken to painting a new birdhouse each year for Father’s Day. One more thing I should mention is that my dad dreams of driving the monorail at Walt Disney World when he retires from dentistry. So, I present to you… the Father’s Day 2011 birdhouse inspired by the oh-so-magical highway in the sky:

Walt Disney World Monorail Birdhouse

Like the backdrop? It's a Disney Snuggie. 😉

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! You can bet that the next time you hear birds chirping, they are surely saying “Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas!”

Crayon rolls for a cause!

This past weekend, I made an exceptionally last-minute decision to fly across the country to see my parents. Here’s why: My mom, who doesn’t sew very often, was telling me how she was thinking about trying out the crayon roll tutorial. One of her co-workers was collecting small trinkets and toys to put in birthday boxes for foster kids and she thought the crayon rolls would be a fun and creative addition. The thought of my mom trying out the crayon roll tutorial without me there to join in the fun was just too much to bear, so I booked a flight and left the Sunshine State before you could say “Just one yard of each, please!”

Now, I know you’re probably all thinking that sounds like an incredibly rash decision and that I’m a crazy person. Well, it was, and I am. It was the first time I’ve ever jumped on a plane with just a day’s notice, but I’m so glad I did! I usually have an agenda when I visit my parents – a wedding, a birthday, a family vacation – but this time I savored every uneventful, unplanned moment from walking the dog to enjoying a steak dinner off the backyard grill.

Of course, my mom and I visited three different fabric stores and whipped up a handful of crayon rolls before the weekend was through!

Crayon rolls for a cause

Crayon rolls for a cause!

At the risk of sounding incredibly gushy, I have learned throughout the past few months that my family means more to me than anything else in the world – and I would not trade a last-minute weekend with them for anything. We may be a little family – just my mom, dad, brother and me (and recently, a precious little pup named Gizmo!) – but we sure know how to do it right. No family is perfect, but my family is perfect for me.

It’s strange to think that without the presence of fabric crayon rolls in my life, I may not have taken that last-minute trip home!

And now I leave you with a photo of Gizmo that is sure to make you feel a little melty…

Gizmo the Yorkie Poo Yorkshire Terrier Poodle

Gizmo!