Friday, November 30, 2012

Missionary Christmas Stocking

When my "little" bro was on his mission, {gah it was so hard to have him gone for 2 full years!!} all I wanted to do in that time was keep him close however I could. With some dedication and creativity, I managed to do just that via a blog, care packages {that were quite creative in content}, letters...etc.

I wasn't as crafty at that time, {Full time jobs will do that to ya. Working ladies, y'all know what I mean!} but oh if I was, the things I might have dreamt up {or copied from pinterest ;-)} would have been so much fun to make and send out to him.

Over Thanksgiving, my aunt approached me with a crafty gift idea {shocking as it may be, NOT from pinterest} that a friend of hers had come up with. She showed me the cutest little pic of a missionary-stocking that her friend had sent out to her own son in his Christmas care package from home. It was darling, so of course we had to make one for my cousin too! {He's serving in Texas right now, we're so proud of him!}

There was no tutorial, but I'm a resourceful gal. ;)
I printed off this simple stocking pattern that I had pinned last Christmas as a basic guide, {below} and got to work!


The pattern I used.

Super cute huh?! I love it.
I wish I'd taken pics throughout the process so I could throw together a little tutorial, but alas, I did not. Next time maybe. :)

PS. I know right, yet another glorious example of iPhone photography. Better days are coming my friends.

**edit**
Tutorial - no pics.  :*(

Supplies:
White felt (1/4 yard should be more than enough of each felt)
Black felt
Ribbon (for the "belt")
red cotton fabric (for the tie, or just buy a kid's tie to clip on, glue on or tie on)
2 small white buttons

Tools:
Hot glue gun
Sewing machine
Scissors
Chalk (you can skip the chalk, but it makes it a little easier to be precise)

Directions:

  1. Print off, cut out & assemble this stocking pattern on plain paper
  2. Using the paper pattern, trace the top of the stocking pattern onto your white felt, (so everything but the foot part) add about 4 inches to the top of the stocking beyond the pattern (So you have enough to fold down into a collar) and cut out 2 of these white felt pieces.
  3. Trace the foot of the stocking onto your black felt, and cut it out. (make 2 of these pieces as well.)
  4. Now you'll sew the first white piece to the first black piece to complete one side of the stocking. Do this right sides together, and use 1/4" seam allowance or smaller if you comfortably can. 
  5. For the back, repeat step 4, but first align the pieces to make sure they will face the right way so you don't end up with seams on the outside of your stocking! :)
  6. Lay out the front piece, with the front side facing you. Measure the width of your stocking, and add 1 inch. This will be the length of your ribbon.
  7. Using a thin line of hot glue, attach the ribbon to the seam where the black bottom and white top meet, leaving 1/2 in overhang on each side of your stocking front. Wait for the glue to dry. (The overhanging ribbon will be sewn into your seam and will give the stocking a much more polished look.)
  8. With right sides together, sew the front and back of your stocking together. *Don't sew all the way up the sides! Leave that extra 4 inches we added to the top un-sewn.
  9. Turn stocking right side out.
  10. Fold the extra felt on top down so it over-laps by about 2 inches.
  11. Find the center of the stocking, and make a 2 inch cut in the fold. 
  12. Now fold the collar back up, DO NOT turn inside out. 
  13. Cut a 4 inch strip of ribbon, fold it in half (right side facing out) and pin it between the unsewn edges at the top of the stocking, (raw edges sticking outside of the seam, with the loop inside the stocking.) This will be the hanging loop!
  14. Sew together the 4 inches we left unsewn in step 8, bringing the stitch in at a slight angle through the last inch on each side. (This will keep the "collar" from flaring out when it is finished!) 
  15. Fold the collar down. (The hanging loop of ribbon should be facing up and out, with the seam hidden under the fold)
  16. Adjust the corners of the collar as desired, and using a teeny dab of glue on each, tack them down so they give that slightly raised/rounded collar flap-look.
  17. Glue the small white buttons to the collar points. 
  18. Position and attach the tie. (I free-handed my tie, it was super basic. You could even cut a tie-shape out of red felt and call that good. Here's a fabulous tutorial on making a child-sized tie if you're feeling extra crafty!)
    ...
  19. Done. (You can add a name tag, or not... whatever you feel like doing!) :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Crocheted Lace

I'm so excited.

My mom can be hard to shop for, so thank goodness she's my MOM and loves handmade things from her kiddos! Of course, then there's the dilemma of what to make for her.
Last year I made her a quilt, so this year I decided crochet would be the medium. Gotta switch it up, you know?

So my bff google.com and I sifted the web for crochet patterns, looking for just the right thing. I had a vision already, I just needed a pattern. Honestly, I'd prefer to make up my own patterns, but as a mostly self-taught crocheter, (mother in law taught me the basic 4 stitches... I took it from there) whenever I'm working with a new shape or idea, it helps to teach myself by following a pattern the first time.

So enough of that, here's what I came up with!



So the beauty of this piece is that it can be worn as a shawl, or a scarf!
I'm more of a scarf-sporter myself, but no matter how you wear it, it's beautiful, warm and lacy. :)

The best part was the look on my momma's face when she opened it up! (Oh FaceTime, how I love you.) I hope she loves it as much as I do. :) I fully intend to make another one to keep for myself!

The pattern:


PS. This took HOURS to make. Not really a whip it up quick-type of project, but in my humble opinion, it was worth every minute I spent on it.

PSS. Again I apologize for the picture-quality. I am saving my pennies for a DSLR camera as we speak! Anyone want to just give me $1200? Because that would be stupendous. ;)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Being grateful

This year was very different than any other year in our life. (Our= hubby and me)
We've had some really difficult experiences to overcome that were previously very foreign to us. I think because of these things, gratitude has become even more important to me than before.

My molar pregnancy probably being the biggest adjustment we've faced. It was the first time I ever really needed to come to terms with my mortality. Cancer was a potential threat in my life for a few months. Nothing to wake you up like that. After trying for years my first pregnancy not only ended in a miscarriage scenario, but a very rare and complicated one. I've been struggling to come to terms with the possibility that I'll have another molar pregnancy, that I won't be able to have children, that if I do I may have more complications or may only be able to have one...etc.
I've learned that I actually have very little, bordering on no control over this part of my life. These are hard realities to realize and accept. I'm working through it, but I'm unsure whether I've made my peace with my reality yet.

We've also had a few deaths in our more immediate families in recent months.
Most people have experiences with loss, but this was also fairly foreign to both hubby and me. We both lost people very close to us (within a month of each other) this year.
It seemed just as things were looking up, meaning my regular hospital visits were winding down and I was nearly through with all the molar pregnancy backlash, tragedy reared its ugly head and starting taking our loved ones away. It has been much harder than I could have appreciated or understood previously.

I'm becoming proficient at dealing with loss. :)
I guess that was a lesson I needed to learn in life. Our experiences good or bad are what shape us. They're what teach us, and help us to grow in ways we may not even realize we need to.
Oh but that doesn't make it easy. No no.

2012 has left a hole in my heart.

I'm hopeful for the future though. :) I know there are good things ahead, even if I have no idea what is coming and have much less say in the matter than I thought I did. Life is for living, loving and learning.  (and laughing... yes lots of that!) And I feel like the best part of 2012 has been the learning. For all that I've learned, for the ways I've grown and been strengthened, I am very grateful.




Monday, November 19, 2012

Due date

Nov 19.

My mom's birthday.

My Aunt's birthday. (Dad's sis)

My high school *bff's birthday. (We're still close)

My high school **bf's birthday. (We're not so close)

And as of this year, the day that I would have had my baby, if it had been a baby and not a tumor. (Read the story here.)

This spring, when the doctor told us I was due Nov 19, I couldn't help but smile. It's always been one of those happy days when good things happen, so it seemed extremely fitting.
I remember Cory making a joke right there in the exam room about how we might be having Thanksgiving in the labor and delivery unit of the hospital...

Loss of an expectation, of our dream. To us, it was the little one we've been waiting so long to meet. Until it wasn't.

I'm allowing myself to feel it a little today, and consequently remembering why I prefer to hide it away.


Found here



*bff- best friend
**bf- boyfriend

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Quilting for a cause

I love quilting, I love my friends, and I love helping others.

Love, love, love.

So of course, when a very good friend of mine asked if I could make a little something to auction off at a fundraiser she is putting on, I jumped up off the couch and got to work.
A family she goes to church with recently found out that the husband has leukemia. Again. So she has taken it upon herself to put together a couple fundraiser events to support them in this difficult time. She's amazing. 

I'm always a little nervous making things for others... I'm mostly self-taught and my skill-set is pretty amateur, but I love quilting. Especially when things come out well. :)

So here's what I came up with. It's one of those wonky/crazy-cut quilts that I love so much. :) I had everything on hand except the minky back. Hobby Lobby and that 40% off coupon of theirs were there for me with that one. 




I finished it pretty quickly and wanted to get it to her right away, so it's a bit wrinkled from getting stuffed in a bag, but you get the idea. 

If you'd like more info on the fundraiser, to donate or participate in the auction, visit http://www.teamjackrapp.blogspot.com. :) Every little bit counts!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Kiss the cook!

I've been cooking lately! Yay!

By that I mean I've been trying new recipes.

Don't worry, I feed my hubby most days. ;)

If you follow me on Pinterest, you've probably seen these recipes already... but these ones are SO GOOD that I wanted to share them here so you know which ones have been tried and hubby approved!

Ok so first up we have "Better than Olive Garden Fettucine Alfredo"
Calorie counters - run for the hills. This stuff is delicious and pretty un-processed as dinner dishes go, but it's not lean by any means.
*I did add grilled chicken and some extra garlic powder the second time I made it. As is, its delicious, but a teeny bit on the bland side. (At least for us it was.) Of course, I recommend following the recipe exactly the first time and adjusting as you see fit once you know what you're dealing with. :)



Next up is a recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken!
Probably the easiest sweet and sour chicken recipe around, and super tasty! Cory LOVED it. It was very yummy and simple to put together.



And finally, a very quick and easy recipe for Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken. We love chicken, in case you couldn't tell by now ;)
I think next time I make this I may serve it with a side of pasta... kinda like chicken parm style. Nom nom. :)



Monday, October 22, 2012

Flares into Skinnies!


Hooray for cute pants!!
I snagged these great pink corduroy Abercrombie pants from a Savers near by for $5.00 the other day. I especially liked the way they fit my waist, hips and thighs, but I decided they needed to be skinny. So I finally took a stab at the whole refashioning-flared-pants-into-skinny-pants thing.
I hesitated at first because I don't have a serger. (Add that to my list of "tools" to acquire. Its right up there with getting a fricken DSLR camera.) Then I just decided to go for it anyway.

SO. Easiest project ever. Even if you are NOT a seamstress. Here's my steps in a tiny bit more detail in case anyone reading this is doubting the ease of this project. ;)

First thing I did was toss them in the wash. (Always wash thrifted clothing... just in case!)
Ok all clean. Next I checked out the seams on both sides of the pant leg to determine which side would be easier to disguise my alterations.
Then I turned them inside out, laid them out, and used a pair of skinny jeans I like as a "pattern". When the project and the pattern are lined up, pin where you will be sewing your straight line. (Here you can use chalk or a light marker to draw a line along the pins for accuracy, or you can be a rebel like me and just go for it.)
I sewed two seams for reinforcement purposes. That's what you do when you don't have a fancy-pants serger! (Going over your seam with a zig zag stitch is also a good option here.) Then I tried them on to make sure the fit was right, and I took a pic because the attractiveness just had to be documented.
Only when I was sure that the fit was right did I snip off the excess.
Turn them right side out and wear your creation with pride!
I think one of these days I may go over the seams with my mother-in-law's serger, and I might even go to the trouble of re-doing the bottom hem to make it feel a bit more pro-fesh. (shrug) Or not. They're pretty great just like this!
If anyone else does try this project, please share your results with me! I'd love to see the transformations.
Happy crafting my friends :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

DIY Skirt


I made a skirt!
I've never made one before, so this is HUGE.
Then, I actually wore the thing... twice. Thats funny because when I first finished it I was like, okayyy... not sure about this thing. I mean, I used this free tutorial I found on Pinterest, so I wasn't expecting it to be like profesh-quality or anything, but even then the whole process was a bit throw-caution-to-the-wind-ish. I even found myself just ignoring the tutorial for the second half and sewing away.
So it turned out well under the circumstances :) At least it's unique and wearable.
My mom even asked me to make her one for her birthday. I think for that one I'll get a real pattern ;) So we'll see how that goes!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

baby update


Well, we went to the doctor yesterday for another follow-up appointment. Surgery was April 26, and since then I've been in and out of the hospital for weekly blood draws to monitor my hormone levels. The good news is, my last blood draw tested negative for HCG!
This is significant because molar pregnancies like mine are potentially cancerous. {as mentioned in my last post} After miscarriages of any sort, your body stops producing HCG and removes the HCG producing cells. In a molar pregnancy, sometimes these cells will spread even after the majority of them are removed during the D and C procedure {a necessary surgery for a molar pregnancy} in which case they are considered cancerous and must be treated with Chemo.
Although my chest X-rays and the biopsy of my molar tissue showed no signs of cancer, yesterday was the first time I've tested negative for HCG since this whole thing started, so I was very excited about that.
From here, I have another blood draw in one month to see if my HCG level stays negative, and if it does, we'll probably be able to start trying again to have a baby sometime in October. {insert huge shoulder-heaving sigh and tired smile}
Good things :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

It's not a baby...

So I guess its time to tell the story. 
I think I'm writing this more for me than anything, but now here it is for anyone wondering.

Cory and I have been hoping to have a baby. We've been "trying" for a few years, but it started getting especially frustrating last year. Failing pregnancy tests after missed (.)'s can only happen a handful of times before the emotional effects become intense. Remembering a time where a disappointing pee stick was lobbed angrily across my bathroom, which I then cleaned through tears and sobs.
Early this year, I offered up possibly the most sincere, pleading prayer of my life. I poured my heart out, imploring, begging the Lord for the chance to be a mother. 

A few weeks later, i finally achieved a positive pregnancy test. Cory and I hardly dared to believe it had finally happened. I was 9 weeks pregnant. The answer to my most heartfelt prayer to date was in my hand, and we were overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement. Finally.

One week later, after extremely severe cramping and heavy bleeding we found ourselves at our new OBGYN's office. The ultrasound screen was showing something very un-baby-like indeed.
We knew it was wrong before the doctor told us, and my heart broke in that moment.
It wasn't a baby. It was a tumor. Shaped like a bundle of grapes, filling up my uterus, making me sick, making me hurt, making me bleed. Betrayal. That's what I felt.
I was diagnosed with a rare Molar Pregnancy. (technical term: hydatidiform mole)

Two days later, at nearly 11 weeks gestation I had my first surgery ever. Unlike some miscarriages, a dilation and curettage procedure was required as soon as possible to remove the mass from my uterus, which otherwise would continue to grow and spread indefinitely.
Recovery was surprisingly long and painful (and bloody).
Molar pregnancies are potentially cancerous, so after some X-Rays and a biopsy of the molar tissue, we were grateful to learn that I do not have cancer (small victories), but that was arguably the most stressful waiting period of my life.

**Edit** I learned later that I was not in the clear at that time. September 18, (6 months after surgery) I tested negative for HCG, and only then were we certain that I was cancer-free. **

For 3 months I've been going in for weekly blood work to monitor my hormone levels as they normalize. Hopefully next week's blood test is my last...

And here we are. 

I can't begin to express the depth of our heartache. This has been extremely painful for both of us. Sometimes the loss of an expectation is a very merciless blow. I still can't talk about it without clamming up. My throat starts burning, my eyes start stinging... I never could have known how this feels without experiencing it. I've hesitated to write about it, because I have no desire to lay my most painful, sincere feelings out for everyone to judge, but I want to do them justice too. 
The feelings of inadequacy, failure, self-blame, anger, bitterness, hurt, disappointment, and loss are indescribable to those who haven't felt them this way. Sufficient to say, it hurts so deeply that even with great effort, it's hard to conceal my inner hurting.

The mindless comments are pretty bad too.

"Miscarriages are so common." - I can assure you that what I'm feeling seems ANYTHING but common, but thank you for making sure I know that my suffering is not valid.

"At least you know you can get pregnant." - Yes. I grew a tumor in my uterus. Totally reassuring as to my ability to grow a BABY. Thanks for that.

Last month I had the pleasure of enduring some careless comments, such as "You've been married 6 years and have no kids?!! (scoff) What have you been doing!!?" (hearty guffaws at my inadequacy ensued) Thanks. Appreciate the judgement. 

And Mother's day was Hell this year.

Anyway. That's all I feel like sharing for now. I'm still kind of an emotional mess, so excuse my curtness. At least now everyone can stop wondering why we have no kids. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Scrappy quilt


Right after Christmas, Cory set me to work on another quilt. This one was to be a belated Christmas gift. I immediately consulted my stash. Since the intended recipient was a guy, I needed to find the least feminine fabric I could, which at this point meant my scraps. I was actually really excited to make this one. It would be my first scrappy quilt! I buy 90% of my fabric from the discount bin, so I get really random amounts. 1/2 yard here, 1/4 yard there, sometimes even a whole yard! So my scraps are extremely plentiful and varied. 
I had enough of each fabric to cut bunches of 2 & 1/2 inch wide strips of varying length. I sewed my strips together in 3's & then cut them into 6 & 1/2 inch long blocks. (I loosely followed this pattern).

Bunches of 3 strips wide x 6 & 1/2 in long blocks. 
The arrangement to the lower left of the picture is a completed block.

Then I arranged the little blocks into 4's to make the complete blocks. It's important to arrange all your completed blocks the same. So if you start with vertical facing strips in the upper left as I have, you must start all subsequent blocks the same way.
I sewed my arranged blocks together, trued them to 12 & 1/2 inches, and then arranged them on the floor as I wanted them to appear in the quilt (below) before sewing them all together.


My little helper
Completed quilt face with border attached.
Quality testing :)
Done!
Quilted & bound.
Close up :)
Super soft minky on the back!
I love how it turned out! Cor and I are pretty sure this is one of my best yet! :) It was fun to see what all my scraps could turn into! Luckily I have plenty more scraps, so who knows, maybe the best is still yet to come. :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

M is for...

I'm not a fan of the DMV. Not a bit. Actually, I don't know of anyone that enjoys their DMV visits. Even though nothing bad has ever happened to me there, I get a little panicked when I have to go. It's kind of a weird, random phenomenon.
I was completely relieved when I walked out the DMV doors last month, Utah driver's license documents in hand. They send the actual card through the mail about a month later. When my license arrived, I stressed about the picture just like any self-critiquing girl would, then resolved to deal with it, and set it aside.
Something was nagging at me though...
I picked my license up again for a more thorough inspection. Name spelled correctly, DOB correct, Height, Weight, Hair...etc.
Then I saw it. There at the bottom. A teeny little letter that should not have been there, that I have never before seen associated with any profile describing me. "M"
The horror set in. M.
M = MALE 

Speechless.