Merry Christmas!

Wow- it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. I guess I have a good excuse… and his name is Judah!

Photo courtesy of Memories by TLC

 

Judah Michael Holm was born on November 30, 2012. He was a big guy (9lb 11oz, 21.5″) and he’s already grown quite a bit. We are adjusting to life with a newborn and, overall, we’re doing pretty well I think.

I spent some of that restless energy at the end of my pregnancy decorating the house for Christmas. In truth, this might be the first year I’ve ever really embraced the holiday spirit. I’m usually put off by how much work it will be to “deck the halls” that the most I can be persuaded to do is make some garland and hang some ornaments from the ceiling. But, having a 2 year old changes things. And knowing that I would be spending a lot of time inside this holiday season nursing an infant, I decided to buy a tree, make some stockings, and generally get in my crafty groove.

The other thing that I am excited about is that I have finally learned how to use my speedlight (on camera flash.) Michael bought me one for my birthday back in August, but the way life has happened at me these last few months (well, this last year really) means that until a few days ago I had only managed to take it out of the box and put the batteries in. But all that changed this week. One of the benefits of having an infant and nursing him all-the-time means that there is lots of time for reading. And so I boned up on all things TTL and was able to finally take some photos inside my house.

I love this house, but it doesn’t have the best light. In fact, the main living area often feels like a cave. I know it’s a waste of energy, but I have all the lights turned on in the living room/dining room every day, all day long. Otherwise it feels very sad and dreary to me. Anyway, this lack of light means that I have always had a hard time taking photos that look halfway decent. But using my speedlight means that I now have a chance to use my camera indoors. Yay!

Here are some photos of my attempts at hall-decking:

More Baking!

Last week I spent an afternoon with my buddy Deanna and her sweet little girls. I was excited to take my camera along and capture some fun moments as they baked cookies for the first time together. I was really encouraged to see how well they did and it gave me hope that in a year or two Jeremiah will be joining me in the kitchen, too. Or maybe I will just keeping inviting myself over to Dea’s house when I need my baking fix!

 

Baking and a Baby

Jeremiah is definitely growing and thriving these days. He’s asserting his personality (and will!) all over the place and some days are easier than others around here. For instance, yesterday I took him to get his hair cut and let’s just say it did not go well. He was a slobbery mess before the (very kind) lady even got close to him with the scissors. It was so bad that a second hair dresser came up to us and tried to help- she finally asked us to come back later that day after he had calmed down so they could finish. We did not go back. So, after paying for the hair cut and tipping very well, I have a child that will be wearing a hat for the foreseeable future. Sigh.

(The photo you see below is before the hair cutting fiasco. The next time you see him, he might have a buzz cut.)

There are days where I desperately need to distract Jeremiah, or else neither of us will make it to nap time. Earlier this week, I decided to make some cookies while also trying to capture some fun moments with him. He lasted about 3.5 minutes, but that’s pretty good for him. I used this recipe (although I did not add the wheat germ… Michael would have a BIG problem with me if I put something that healthy in his oatmeal raisin cookies.) I also made half of them oatmeal raisin and half oatmeal chocolate because we are a household divided over our oatmeal cookies.

I found it very fun to measure out everything ahead of time for the purpose of taking photos. I never do this in real life… I’m a very distracted baker normally, but I might actually prefer this new method. I got all the ingredients out of the cabinets in the beginning, measured everything into bowls, and rechecked the recipe before I did any mixing.

Jeremiah, as you might expect, was a big fan of the Kitchen Aid mixer. He particularly enjoyed trying to “catch” the paddle as it went round and round.

Now, this is the part where I am pretty proud of myself. {Although this is not my idea… I saw it on Pintrest, of course.}

The recipe called for 2 sticks of butter, which in my mind, means that it’s going to make way too many cookies for just me and Michael. (Jeremiah won’t eat cookies… he’s strange.) In the past, when I’ve tried adjusting recipes to make smaller quantities, they don’t always work out well. And even though I’m pretty sure I’m doing the math right, there’s something about changing the amount of eggs or trying to use half a stick of butter that just doesn’t work well. So, I decided to make a full recipe and freeze the rest in ice cube trays! Clever, right?!?

I made a full batch of dough, but only baked 12 cookies. Then, I portioned the rest into ice cube trays (I used a small ice cream scoop so the cookies are all the same size.) I popped the trays in the freezer, left them overnight, then put the dough balls in Ziploc bags.

Now, I can just grab a few pieces and bake them when we want some cookies. I’m really excited about this because we love having folks over for dinner, but making dinner and dessert is often too much for me. So now I can just grab them out of the freezer, let them thaw for a bit, and bake as normal. Whee!

I experimented a bit with the amount of time to let them thaw. The first time I left them out until they were completely thawed which took around an hour and a half. Then I baked according to the original recipe. These turned out fine, but I wondered if I could do it quicker. The next time I left them out for about 30 minutes before putting them in the oven. They were still a little frozen, but they did great! I still baked them according to the directions and they were perfect.

It’s nice when things work out like you think they will. That rarely happens around here, so when it does, we celebrate. With cookies.

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Flag Banner {Tutorial}

I have fallen in love with all the flag banners (also called bunting) that I’ve been seeing around the web. I’m sure that I am fairly tardy as I hop up onto this bandwagon, but that is pretty typical for me. No one has ever accused me of being a trend setter.

I made the above banner for a baby shower a few weeks ago, and then decided that I wanted to make one to hang in the play room. There is quite a bit of open wall space in that room that is just crying out to be adorned with colorful triangles.

As I was making this banner, I tried to take some photos along the way so I could share my method. This project took me around an hour, but I was also messing with my camera for part of that time.

Materials you will need:

1) Fabric (I used scraps that I already had, but if you’re buying fabric I would get around 1/4-1/3 of a yard of each print) 2) Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler 3) Double-fold Bias Tape (4 yards) 4) Sewing machine and thread

Start by ironing your fabric (I didn’t actually do this because I always try and cut corners. However, I ended up ironing the triangles after I had cut them, so I should have just done it to begin with.) Then, with the fold of the fabric lined up horizontally, cut strips that are 5″ wide.

(See how wrinkled the fabric is? Whoops!)

After cutting all your strips to be 5″ wide, take one strip and turn it so that the fold is now lined up vertically on the left. You are going to measure 2 3/4″ from the fold. Because I’m using a cutting mat, I just count the 1 inch blocks when I’m measuring. I find using a measuring tape to be a huge hassle.

Next, line up your ruler so that it goes from the top left corner down to the place you marked (with either your finger or a pencil.) Being the corner-cutting-person that I am, I just put my finger on the bottom edge at the place that is 2 3/4″ from the fold. Line your ruler up and cut.

That first cut can be a little tricky, but everything else is pretty easy. Now you are going to count 5 1/2″ along the top edge, put your finger there, and line your ruler up with that point and the bottom. Now cut along the ruler edge.

Now, do the same thing, counting 5 1/2″ inches along bottom edge, line up ruler, and cut. Keep alternating bottom and top edge until you run out of fabric. Depending on the length of the banner you want to make, you’ll need two triangles per foot. So, for a 4 yard length you’ll need about 22-24 triangles.

We’re ready to stitch the triangles together. If you cut them as described above, they will already be in two layers (don’t pull them apart… you want them this way!) The wrong sides should be facing one another. This method leaves you with raw edges, which I kind of like.

With two triangles lined up (wrong sides together), stitch along one edge leaving a 1/8″ seam allowance. You will only be sewing along two of the edges, because the third edge will be tucked inside the bias tape.

When you get close to the point, just pull up your presser foot and swing that triangle around! It’s not necessary to lock your thread and start a new seam. It does help to make sure that the needle is down so that when you twist the triangle around you keep the stitch in place.

When I’m sewing lots of pieces like this, I use the “chain method.” (I’m not sure if that’s really the name or if I just made that up.) Basically, I just feed another triangle under the presser foot as the previous one is finishing up. I make sure there is a little bit of distance, maybe 2-3 stitches, but this saves me time because I don’t have to lock the thread each time I start a new piece. You’ll get a chain of pieces that are all linked together once you are done. Just snip them apart with some scissors.

We’re almost done! The last thing we need to do is sew everything together with the bias tape. There are different types of bias tape and I’ve probably used them all. The type I like the best for this project is the double fold (normal width.) The wide width is easier to work with, but I don’t like the way it looks as much.The single fold that is shown below will work and give you the same look as mine, but it’s more of a pain to work with. Ironing is involved…

For this step, decide how much of a “tail” you want on each end. Then, open up the tape at that point (I usually leave a foot or so) and insert a triangle. Make sure the edge of the triangle is all the way inside the bias tape- it should be at the crease.

Most people will tell you to use pins and put a pin on each corner and one in the middle. But, that seems like a lot of work to me. I actually tried doing it that way on my first banner and it took me way longer to get the pins in the right place than it did to just sew it without pins. So, use pins if you want but I think it’s simpler to do it without.

Helpful hint: if you aren’t using pins, make sure that you get the triangles completely inside the bias tape. I found it easy enough to stop sewing right at the end of one triangle, insert my next one and make sure the stitches caught the triangle in the seam, then arrange the rest of the triangle. These are relatively small pieces with straight edges, so it shouldn’t be too hard to do without pins.

Make sure your seam is pretty close to the edge of the tape, that way you are less likely to have parts of the triangle escape and not get caught in the seam. Continue sewing until you’ve used all your triangles, or you’ve come to the end of your bias tape. Hang the banner up, step back, and admire your craftiness!

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