Sewing

Sorbetto Tank Top Take 2

 

Back in 2013 I made my first shirt ever, using Colette’s Sorbetto Tank Top pattern. I decided to try it again, as I figured it would be an easy pattern to get me back into sewing clothing. I also wanted to use some fabric I’ve had in my stash for a few  years now (originally intended for a Sewaholic Lonsdale dress, I think). It’s Bloom Stretch Cotton Sateen, in navy with white specks (from Fabric.com, ordered through Amazon back in – wow – 2013!, no longer available on either site).

Bloom Stretch Cotton Sateen in navy with white specks
Bloom Stretch Cotton Sateen in navy with white specks

The first time around, I used a Keepsake Calico cotton, which was pretty stiff for this shirt, I think.  (This was when I was really first getting into sewing, so didn’t really know much about different fabrics yet. I was also somewhat overwhelmed by the variety, so stuck with the cotton area that was most familiar to me.) The top was also a bit too short for my comfort. So this time, I decided to use the stretch cotton sateen and I lengthened the top by  2 inches and made the armholes slightly bigger. Since this is a tank, I didn’t have to worry about matching up sleeves (whew! — one step at time to pattern adjustments, Danielle!)

As part of my resolution to dedicate more time to sewing, I started by cutting out the pieces for this pattern during one of Dom’s naps. (I found a note I had written on the back of the pattern instructions from when I had traced these pieces with my adjustments — and it was from September!)

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easing my way back into sewing with a 2 piece pattern project!

(side note, I think I saw on the Monthly Stitch blog that someone just sewed a bag that had 50 separate pieces, due to the linings and interfacings, etc. — yeah, 2 pieces sounds like a good start to me)

I actually sat down to start sewing it about a week later, one night after he had gone to bed. Since my sewing room is right across the (narrow) hall from his bedroom, I moved by machine, table top ironing board, and my handy little kit down to our dining room.

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sewing in the dining room

It was clear to me that I was a little rusty – see the embarrassing picture of the staystitching below. Luckily, it’s covered by the bias tape, but also, you can’t even see the thread on the fabric because it blends so well.

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Oof! that’s some rough staystitching!

I was very pleased with how the front pleat turned out. Neat and even. And I think this material will be better than the Calico cotton from the first one, which got super wrinkly after the first washing, and made it difficult for the pleat to lay flat.

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front pleat — not the best picture, but as close as I could get to show you; it’s a bit hard to see due to the fabric pattern

I bought navy bias tape for the top, but then started thinking that I might want to use a contrasting color that would pop (like pink or green). I went back and forth on the idea for a little bit, but when I checked out some other options, nothing really stood out to me, so I stuck with the navy.

Now I have another big admission: I broke another sewing cardinal rule: I didn’t double check that the size cut out of the pattern still fit. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I added a couple of inches to the length and trimmed a teeny bit off the armholes but I failed to mention that I had used the same size from when I first made this shirt 3.5 years ago. I’ve had a baby (and still haven’t lost the accompanying weight) since then. I tried it on after adding the bias tape to the neckline and was really bummed to discover that it was too tight. I mentally kicked myself for not re-doing my measurements to be sure it still aligned with the pattern.

I also realized that the armholes are still too small for my comfort (too high up in my armpit to be comfortable for me). I decided to open them up a bit more before adding the bias tape.

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Before
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Adjustment
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After

Needless to say, there will be no pictures of me wearing the shirt, so you’ll have to make-do with pictures of it on a hanger. (someday I’ll get a dressform!)

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In the end, I’m actually pretty pleased with the construction, despite how long it has been since I last sewed a wearable item (a Sewaholic Renfrew top back in 2015 — though the armholes on that shirt are also a little uncomfortable). However, while this material has a nice stretch, I think it still might not be completely right for this top.

General Lessons Learned:

  • always double check measurements before diving in, especially if it’s a pattern cut out long before actually sewing it up
  • take my time with construction (try not to get impatient with the more “boring” steps, like finishing seams)

Pattern Specific Lessons Learned:

  • use a fabric with more flow
  • re-print and cut out updated pattern pieces to fit my current measurements
  • If updated pattern pieces don’t meet my needs: add additional length to bottom and make bigger armholes

Have you made this top? What adjustments or embellishments have you made? What fabric do you recommend using?

Monthly Wrap-Up

January 2017 Wrap Up

monthly wrapupJanuary had me off to a good start for 2017! Let’s get right into it:

Dom
He’s 15 months old! We had his 15 month check-up near the beginning of the month and he’s doing great. 25 lbs and a little over 30″ tall. He’s learning new words all the time (such as “Papa”, “Pooh”, “poo-poo”, and sounds like he’s trying to say “key” and “tool”) and understanding more and more each day. He transitioned from Infants to Toddlers at the daycare over the last 2 weeks of the month. Exciting, and a little sad that he’s already moving up! (But more exciting; I can’t wait to see what new things he learns!)

Books/Reading
I read 3 books this month. I don’t expect I’ll keep this pace through the year, but it was a nice start!
Year goal: 3/24
Back to the Classics Challenge: 0/12
Historical Fiction Challenge:1/5
What’s in a Name Challenge: 0/6

Crafts
Sewing projects completed: 0
Knitted projects completed: 0
Time spent sewing: I’m not going to track this in hours as I originally thought I might, but will really just re-cap if I spent any time during the month focused on any aspect of a sewing project. I am probably about 85% finished with a project that I was hoping to complete before the month was out, but the last steps took more time than I remembered  when I first made it a few years back. I just need to finish some bias binding and a hem and then its done! I hope to post about it in early February. But despite not finishing yet, I’m really pleased that I actually got as far as I have. And I will not pressure myself to finish projects by a certain self-set deadline. (And with The Monthly Stitch introducing Amnesty Day, I can still have a chance to participate in the monthly challenges!)

Baking/Cooking
Aside from some pre-packaged mixes, I haven’t done anything new here.

Weight Loss
This wasn’t previously listed in my goals, but it is something I am tracking, so what better place than my monthly wrap up? I weighed myself on January 1 and again on January 31. I’ll proceed to weigh myself on the last day of each month and track the (hopefully) loss each month.
This month’s weight loss was: 1.1 pounds — have to start somewhere! 🙂

Overall, I’m happy with how January kicked off 2017 for me. How did January treat you?

Share Your World

Share Your World – January 30, 2017 (Week 5)

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(links to Cee’s post for today)

This is a weekly challenge hosted by Cee over at Cee’s Photography. She poses a few questions each week that we’re supposed to answer.

Today’s questions are:

What is the most incredible natural venue that you’ve ever seen in person?
This is a really hard one. Most of the trips I’ve taken involved seeing man-made wonders (ruins in Italy, museums and churches in Paris, for example) So I suppose it would have to be flying over the Alps or swimming in the Natural Pool in Aruba. Though I would love to see Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.

Natural Pool
Natural Pool (that’s my brother-in-law in the black shirt and my husband climbing out. I took this picture back on one of our first trips and posted about it back then; apparently their aunt found this picture on an Aruba site recently!)

How many siblings do you have? What’s your birth order?
1 sister; I’m older by 2 years and 2 days

If you were a shoe, what kind would you be and why?
I’d probably be a sneaker or a flat. They’re what I wear the most and I find them to be the most comfortable and versatile. I like to be comfortable and I think I can be pretty flexible when it comes to many things – work, life, etc. (can I use that as a synonym for “versatile” when talking about a person??)

What is the strangest/weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
Hmmmm, probably pig knuckles in Germany. It was a long time ago now (back in 2004), so I don’t really remember it all that well, but I do remember being rather surprised that they weren’t half bad.

 

Share Your World

Share Your World – January 23, 2017 (Week 4)

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(links to Cee’s post for today)

This is a weekly challenge hosted by Cee over at Cee’s Photography. She poses a few questions each week that we’re supposed to answer.

Today’s questions are:

Do you prefer juice or fruit?
I like fruit better. Sometimes I’ll drink juice (usually orange or apple — or I’ll use it in a smoothie), but generally prefer eating fruit.

Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?
I grew up in Boston (right near the airport), but my neighborhood wasn’t in the city proper, as you’re probably imagining (no cobblestone streets for me!). I loved it. My sister and I are 2 years apart and we had a lot of neighborhood kids around our age so we used to all play together – at each other’s houses, out rollerblading/biking, playing at the local beach, skating at the local rink, etc. And a lot of school friends were in the same neighborhood, just a short drive away (think less than 10 minutes).

If you were to paint a picture of your childhood, what colors would you use?
Hmm, this is a tough one. I’d probably pick bright, fun, summer colors, as some of my most favorite memories growing up were what I just wrote in the previous answer.

Ways to Relax List: Make a list of what relaxes you and helps you feel calm.
Reading, listening to music, knitting, sewing, watching some TV.

Share Your World

Share Your World 2017: Weeks 1, 2, & 3

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So Anxious Mom has been doing this Share Your World thing and I decided to check it out. It’s a challenge hosted by Cee over at Cee’s Photography. She poses a few questions each week that we’re supposed to answer. Apparently, Cee’s been doing this for a few years now, but I’m just joining in. Since we’re only 3 weeks into the new year, I’m going to answer the first 3 sets here and then will endeavor to keep up with it on the regular schedule (and in the future, the image above will link to the associated week’s post on Cee’s blog).

Week 1 (Posted January 2nd)

Would you prefer to receive a unicycle, bicycle, tricycle or motorcycle?
Bicycle. I used to love riding my bike all around the neighborhood with my friends growing up.

What is one thing you’d like to accomplish this year?
More crafty projects!  I only completed one sewing project last year and would really like to get back into both sewing and knitting and actually complete a few things.

What was one of the highlights of 2016 for you?
Watching Dom reach so many amazing milestones. It’s truly unbelievable how much babies develop and learn in their first year.

Would you prefer to fly a kite or fly in a hot air balloon?
Honestly, I would love to fly in a hot air balloon, though I’m sure I’d be petrified!


WEEK 2 (POSTED JANUARY 9th)

If you lost a bet and had to dye your hair a color of the rainbow for a week, what color would it be?
Blue. I always thought that could be fun as a teenager, but never had the balls to do anything. I’ve always been afraid to do stuff with my hair, to be honest.

If you could choose one word to focus on for 2017, what would it be?
This is a tough one. I’ll go with Family. I want to do family trips, activities, etc.

What was one thing you learned last year that you added to your life?
Being a mom/parent is hard, and it’s OK to admit when you’re struggling, and when you need help. No one is perfect and everyone needs help.

If life was ‘just a bowl of cherries’… which fruit other than a cherry would you be..?
Blueberries. I love them.


WEEK 3 (POSTED JANUARY 16TH)

Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?
Closet doors are closed, I don’t like having them open. Bedroom door stays open.

Do you take the shampoos and conditioner bottles from hotel?
Yes, I do. They’re perfect to use when traveling or going away for a weekend. And they often smell great! (A co-worker of mine collects them and brings them to a local women’s shelter. There is a lot of travel in our company as we have a few offices in other countries, not to mention trainings and conferences people attend, so she always collects a good amount)

What is your usual bedtime?
Between 9 & 10pm. I’m up around 5:30am every day for work, and generally still up relatively early on the weekends since, you know, 15-month-old.

Do you like to use post-it notes?
Yes, mainly at work. I tend to stick them all over my desk. And sometimes I abbreviate things assuming I’ll know what I meant later on. Of course, that’s not always the case.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?
I don’t remember. But I used to have a pen pal back when I was  younger, now thinking back it was probably close to 20 years ago (man I feel old when I can say something was 20 years ago). Her name was Lauren, we met on a cruise, and she was from Zimbabwe. We kept in touch for quite a while. I’m pretty sure I still have the packet of letters somewhere at my parents’ house.

Any phobias?
Not any true phobias. But there are definitely things that creep me out: certain bugs (things with lots of legs, for sure; blech).

How tall are you?
The question should probably ask me how short I am: 5’3″

I look forward to the other questions that’ll come up through the year!

General

Welcome to New England

I once read/heard “if you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes” in reference to New England. How true that statement is!

Last weekend, we had a snowstorm. On the weather maps, we were on the line between the 6-10 inch and 8-12 inch ranges (or something like that). The official total for my town turned out to be 6 inches.  And luckily, it was the lighter, fluffier kind of snow. So, not bad at all.

Below are some pictures of the accumulation (times are approximate; I lost the time stamps when I uploaded them to Google Drive and deleted them off my phone before double checking… I’m pretty certain of the first 2 times, less so for the last 2)

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Around 3:20pm
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Around 4:30pm
Around 6:30pm
Around 6:30pm
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Around 8pm (I think)
Next morning
The next morning

The weather warmed up slightly, enough for the snow to melt a little and then re-freeze, so we had some slippery spots in the yard for a little while.

Then, on Wednesday, the temperature was in the 50s, and the majority of the snow melted. Thursday actually went over 60, and the rest of the snow disappeared.

And now today, Saturday, the current temperature is around 21.

Like I said: Welcome to New England!

reading challenges

Reading Challenges

It’s been quite a while since I’ve participated in any reading challenges. I sometimes barely have time to read the books, nevermind review them! So I’ve decided to do my own twist on some challenges out there. I’m just going to try to read books that fit the categories for the challenges, and oh well if I never get around to reviewing. I won’t be linking up to the challenges (therefore will not be eligible for any giveaways that might be connected), but that’s OK because it’s really just for me. 🙂

Having said that, here are the few challenges in which I’d like to “participate” (I last participated in most of these in 2012/2013):
*Each has its own page within the 2017 Reading List link above
**All links below take you to the sign up page for the challenge, in case you’re interested/want to know more!

Back to the Classics 2017
Hosted by: Books & Chocolate

2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
Hosted by: Passages to the Past

What’s in a Name? 2017
Hosted by: The Worm Hole

(and if you’re really interested in what other kinds of reading challenges are out there, Bev @ My Reader’s Block always participates/runs so many! Check out her list here)

baking

Baking

I asked for some new bakeware for Christmas and I got some great Nordic Ware items. I wanted to get new stuff to update my stash of items with ones of better quality since I wanted to do more baking this year. I got a half cookie sheet, quarter cookie sheet, round pan, loaf pan, muffin pan w/lid, and a cast iron pan to make silver dollar pancakes with zoo animals imprinted on them. I like to make pancakes for Dom and thought this could be fun. I obviously made some for him on Christmas morning.

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The monkey and the lion came out the best
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new bakeware!
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All that remains of the batch

I’ve already used the muffin pan to make some Funfetti muffins (store-bought mix, I must confess). They came out great! (Don’t mind the messed up one near bottom right; the top got a little smushed in the carry case.. oops)

 

 

 

I also 20170102_214054got a frosting/decorating kit. I’ve never used more than a spatula to frost anything, and I assumed the kit would come with instructions for the various pieces, but it does not. Some are pretty self-explanatory, others I was a little unsure of. Any advice you have on using the stuff, or recommendations for things to use, please leave them in the comments!

 

 

20161225_213157Hubs also got me a mug cake cookbook, which I’m excited to look through. Not too long ago I attempted chocolate chip cookies in mugs and they did not come out very good. (sorry for the poor lighting in the picture)

 

 

 

 

 

I’m excited to start using my KitchenAid mixer more (a gift from a few Christmases ago) and all of my new stuff! I’m sure I’ll accumulate more over the year as well.

What are some of your favorite recipes?

Baby D · Mom Musings

Mom Musings: Raising a Reader

(picture from bloxi.com, found via google image search)

It was only a matter of time before I had a post like this, right? (I mean, look at my blog name, the original intent of this blog in my About Me, and search for the “With My Reading Buddy” tag, and I think you’ll get the hint, if you’ve missed it ;))

But I’m writing this now because I’ve been inspired by a few posts by Eric, at All in a Dad’s Work (Hi, Eric!). His is one of the blogs I was regularly reading for a while. As you know, I was away from the blogs for a bit, but when I started catching up, his was one of the first ones I went to. (Check him out; I love his “Questions I Asked My Kids” segments). Anyway, a few of his posts over the last couple of months (yes I had to go back a few months to catch up!) have been about reading with his two boys. They both seem to enjoy reading and talk about going to bookstores. I hope Dom is the same way as he grows up!

I try to read to Dom regularly. He has a bookshelf filled with books, and I’m always buying new ones. And of course he got a few more for Christmas. I have one memorized that I recite to him every night as we are settling into the rocking chair before bed (The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton – one of the first books Dom played with, as you can tell by the missing corner).

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The beloved (memorized) bedtime story, sitting in our rocking chair
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The Pen

We have a “pen” set up in our living room (one of those enclosed gate things that you can configure into different shapes) where he plays during the day and I always leave a few books in there, as well. Lately, when I sit in it with him, he will bring a book over to me and then sit in my lap so I can read it to him (melts my heart every time).

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The most common book he brings to me — though he’s typically ready to move on by the time we reach the letter “N” (I also have this one pretty much memorized)
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Shelf in his bedroom

He knows what “book” is when you ask, which I love. Depending on where we are, he’ll either point to the small pile in his pen or the bookshelf in his bedroom. I’m always on the lookout for new books, so if you have any recommendations, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments!

 

A few friends at work  are beginning to read the good chapter books with their kids (like Harry Potter), and that is something I so look forward to! (but I also don’t want to wish the time to speed up to get there!)

What are your kids’ favorite books? What’s your favorite book to read with your child(ren)?

baking

Homemade Cheesecake

For the day after Christmas at my parents’ house (just a week ago), I decided to tackle a cheesecake from scratch. I used the KitchenAid Best-Loved Recipes cookbook recipe for Marble Cheesecake (p. 92).

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I don’t have any pictures of the prep as I was concentrating on getting it put together and in the oven as quickly as possible because I broke the first rule of baking: I didn’t read through the entire recipe and didn’t realize how much time it needed to bake and then refrigerate before we could eat it.

Because of that, the cheesecake wouldn’t have been in the fridge for the minimum required time (2 hours) before we had to leave for my parents’ house. Luckily, they live approximately 20 minutes away, and since it was a dessert, I was able to leave it in their fridge for more than the required time. (But I was nervous it wasn’t going to be good because of that).

The recipe says to bake the cake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. I did it for that long on the bottom rack. Next time, I’ll put it on the top rack and only do 1 hour and 15 minutes. It came out a bit too brown and the bottom, while not technically burnt, was pretty hard (I attribute to the brown sugar-to-graham cracker ratio in the crust; I think I might need more graham cracker)

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It definitely didn’t look anything like the picture in the cookbook. I didn’t do the marbling as they described (like I said, I was trying to get it in the oven as quickly as possible). I think I probably didn’t have enough chocolate mixed in, either. (as I was adding the melted chocolate to some of the batter, the chocolate bowl fell in the batter bowl, so a good amount of melted chocolate ended up on the bottom of the bowl instead of in the cake — definitely not getting my own cooking show anytime soon!)

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some pieces looked layered instead of marbled. (also, I only remembered to take the picture after I took the first bite :))

However, all in all, I was pretty pleased with my first attempt at a homemade cheesecake. Everyone who tried it said they liked it, so that’s good. It wasn’t perfect, but I’ll get there. I’d like to try a plain cheesecake, with various toppings to add, based on the individual’s preference.

Lessons learned/things I’d do differently for this recipe:

  • use top rack of oven
  • bake for less time
  • add a bit extra graham cracker to crust mix
  • try without chocolate
  • melt a bit extra chocolate in case of accidents 😉
Looking Ahead

2017: Realistic Goals (I hope!)

Having experienced my first year of motherhood and understanding exactly what that means, I’m hoping that the goals for reading, crafts, etc. I set for 2017 are more realistic than last year’s. I’m using the same break down as I did in last year’s goals post.

Books/Reading
I’m keeping the same goal as last year at 24 books. I hit 23 of 24 this year. Partly due to times where I just didn’t feel like reading, or wasn’t interested in reading what I do have (I have plenty of unread books on my shelf, so it’s not due to book availability, that’s for sure!) I’m also planning to give the Q&A a Day book another go.

Crafts
Sewing
I still need to re-organize my sewing space (could be part of the reason I never got around to sewing really anything this year, but only a minor hurdle). I told my husband I want to set aside 1-2 hours per week to dedicate to sewing. I’ll attempt to track it and see how well I can stick to it.
I want to finish those diaper pouch/changing pad combos, and need to add another one to the list! I want to sew a top, a dress, and bottoms (can be pants or a skirt). As for The Monthly Stitch Challenges, I hope to participate in one challenge and post it to their blog.

Knitting
I want to complete the My Cup of Tea socks I started this summer. I also want to complete 1-2 projects (a hat and maybe a scarf or another pair of socks).

30×30 List Items to Carry Over
There are still some items I’d like to carry over that we didn’t do (but I can cross ZooLights and Pay off 2 student loans off the list, so that’s good!)

  • NYC weekend – still want to do this, and still want to go see the Cirque du Soleil show (Paramour)
  • Make a pie & pasta from scratch – still have to make the pasta from scratch, but I did do a cheesecake from scratch! (I’ll post about that soon) — Since that’s not really a pie, I still want to make a pie, too!

New Blog Categories
I think my “Mom Musings” posts can be considered regular categories and no longer “new” ones, but I plan to continue with them. I aim to introduce Baking & Cooking posts, as I planned last year.

Other Plans/Activities
A few other things that don’t fall into the above categories. Some are repeats of this year and others are new.

  • Facebook hiatus – will do this again in January. It was a nice break and I’m noticing I’m scrolling/posting on it too much again. Need to get away from the screen and be more in the present. I may consider doing it another month in the year as well.
  • Limit TV time – along the same lines as above, just want to get away from the screen & be more present. Will try to limit TV time to after Dom has gone to bed, before I go to bed. (Or if I’m sick and want to binge)
  • Annual camping trip, of course — did I ever post about this year’s trip? I’ll have to go back and look.
  • Savings challenge – hubs and I are going to set a challenge for ourselves to see how much we can save for the whole year.
  • Library visits with Dom – our local library is about a 10 minute walk from our house, so I’d like to take Dom there on Saturday mornings sometimes in the year. I was looking at their website yesterday and they have a bunch of activities throughout the year.
  • Get moving again!
    • More walks! – I want us to get out and do more walks when the weather is nice (local trails, etc.)
    • Gym time – go to the gym 2-3 times per week. I’ve signed up at the gym at work and aim to go during lunch time (even if it’s just 30 minutes)

What are your plans for 2017?

Holidays

ZooLights (Finally!)

So we finally went to see the ZooLights. This was something that I’ve wanted to do for a few years, even put it on my 30×30 list for 2014-2015. I think I might have hyped it up a bit in my head because it wasn’t quite what I expected but it was still nice and I think Dom enjoyed it. Only a portion of the zoo was available to wander around. Some of the animal exhibits had lights (for example, the Bald Eagles exhibit at the entrance had red, white, and blue lights wrapped around some of the trees). So we took a quick walk around those areas then headed over to the North Pole (Santa’s Castle, where we could take pictures with Santa, and little kiddie rides). There were such cute decorations and set ups.  I took Dom on the carousel.

My parents, mother-in-law, and brother-in-law joined us and then friends of ours and their little girl met us there, too.

I took a few photos of the North Pole. Enjoy!

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quick snap of Santa’s Castle

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my dad loves trains 🙂
Holidays

Christmastime is Here…

As I type, Dom is napping and I have Christmas music playing from the Music OnDemand channel. Sonny is also snoozing on the couch next to me. Yes, this is a nice way to spend a little bit of time.

We started decorating the house a few days after Thanksgiving. Usually, we put our (fake, pre-lit) tree up the day after Thanksgiving, but this year we decided to get a real tree. We went to a farm in Boxford and found our tree. I was fairly excited as I had never picked out a real tree before.

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Ready to get home!

When we got home, we set up the tree in the base with plenty of water and let it settle. (It ended up sitting in the house undecorated for almost a week).

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Our naked tree waiting for its decorations

I think it was about a week later that I was finally able to get decorating. When I was little, my grandmother did a collection of Danbury Mint gold ornaments for each kid (one kid per year). My  mom carried that on for me for a little bit, so I have 3 full sets (a dozen in each set), plus each year’s specialty/bonus ornament. However, I end up only putting a few of those on each year since I’ve moved out. Between my ornaments, Mark’s from when he was growing up, and the ones we pick out together each year, our tree is becoming eclectic, but I love it. We decided that we will get ornaments from any place that we might travel to, and each year we’ll pick out one from the Hallmark store. We still need to pick this year’s out!

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Fancy!

This was the first year I had to wrap lights around a tree, and let me tell you, my (self-diagnosed) OCD wouldn’t let me do it once and be happy, I had to constantly make adjustments, with both the lights and the placement of the ornaments– I still catch myself making tweaks here and there. (Don’t worry, I’ve fixed that odd blank space since I took this picture; you can see the better placement in the next picture).

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been wrapping presents and setting them up underneath the tree. I’m almost certain that each present under the tree will have between 1 & 300 pine needles stuck in the wrapping somewhere (the gift bags have a good chance of having around 300). Despite all of the falling needles and sweeping I do everyday, it makes me happy to look at it. (the tree looks slightly tilted in this next picture, but I promise it’s not; it’s just where/how I was standing when I took the picture.) And of course, there’s nothing like the smell of a real tree! (the sprays/candles/etc. make a good effort, but there is always something missing).

Read
Ready for Christmas!

We have just a few more items to get/wait for (thank you, Amazon Prime!), and then we’re all done! I get so excited to give presents to the recipients. I can’t wait until Sunday!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and that you get to spend it with all of your loved ones.

Baby D · Year in Review

Where Did 2016 Go?

Hi everyone! Remember me?

I’ve recently started playing catch up with reading blogs I follow, so forgive me for likes/comments on older posts. (for some of you I even went back to July!) It’s been fun playing catch up to see what’s been going on in your lives.

My M.O. this year seems to be fewer, longer posts. So, as I’ve cautioned with others, this is a fairly lengthy post (and my apologies in advance for the lack of pictures). This’ll be a catch up/year in review type post, using my 2016 plans post as a guide.

Baby D
First of all, to make my life a bit easier when typing, I’ll share that Baby D’s name is Dom. It’ll be much easier to type that than constantly writing “Baby D” (not to mention: what will I call him when he’s no longer a baby? — something that’s quickly happening!) I think my last post was about him turning 1. We’re now at 14.5 months and it’s amazing what’s happened in the last 2.5 months since I posted. For one, he never ended up getting around to crawling, just scooting around on his bum everywhere, and let me tell you, he could really pick up speed! But forget scooting, he’s now fully walking around like he owns the place. He started that at about 13 months. He’s too damn cute. I’m sorry, I’ll say it. He’s also starting to talk a little; clearly saying “mama” and “dada” and knowing who those words identify, he says “blll” for “ball” and “balloon”, “blllum” for a truck/car noise, and sort of saying “bumble” (as in the Bumble from Rudolph). Just because he has a limited vocabulary, though, does not mean he doesn’t understand! He knows his own name, and points to the right items when we say light, fan, Henry (his elf on the shelf), Sonny, hug, book, block, ring, penguin (decoration in the house), tree (our Christmas tree), candle, etc. It’s so much fun watching him figure things out. Just today he threw both arms up in the air when I said “touchdown!” He loves to eat, especially his veggies (corn, peas, and carrots are his favorites). He also has a sweet tooth, like his mumma. 🙂 He’ll be transitioning from “Infants” to “Toddlers” next month at the daycare. Can’t believe we’re already at that point!

Work
Work has been crazy busy. Lots of changes over the course of the year. I mentioned in another post that my manager of 3 years had decided to leave to pursue her dream of sailing down to the Caribbean. I am happy to report that she is absolutely loving it and is completely in her element. Follow her blog here! (we haven’t been as successful with Freddy, but he has had a few adventures that I need to add to his blog). The manager that took over has also left. I had 6 solid months working with her and really enjoyed that time. I definitely plan to keep in touch with her! I am now on my work break for the next 2 weeks (Friday the 16th was my last day in the office for the year. I’ll return on January 3). I am so happy to have this time off and recharge after all the changes we had this year. I still love my job and my team so will still look forward to getting back into things in the new year.

Reading
I set up my Goodreads challenge to complete 24 books this year. I’m at 22, so could potentially hit 24 by the 31st, if I set my mind to it. I joined the Book of the Month Club over the summer so have been getting a book each month (except for December, none of the options appealed to me so I skipped it — but I had 2 free credits for referrals which I used in November, so I still have 2 BOTM books to read — not to mention other books sitting on my real and virtual book shelves!)

Totally failed at the Q&A a Day book — but I can try again next year! (and the next 3 after that).  I think I fell off somewhere in April…

I haven’t used the reading nook at all, except to store more books, of course!

Crafts
Sewing
Right. So nothing to report here. I have done one of the diaper pouch/changing pad things for my cousin back in May (I have a draft post for it as I have a few others to make and wanted to put them altogether in one post). That is the only thing I have sewed all year. I laugh when I look back at my 2016 post and all the dreams I had! I didn’t have anything for any of The Monthly Stitch’s challenges, either. I completely underestimated the amount of time I’d actually have to sew. I pretty much did nothing I hoped to do at the end of last year. And because I fell behind in reading blog posts, I completely forgot about/never checked in about the #stichingsanta hosted by Sheila. Which, in retrospect, is probably a good thing, given that I never accomplished anything!

Knitting
I have completed a sock! I joined a socks KAL (knit-a-long) at the end of the summer and didn’t finish in time for the wrap up, but I’m slowly making my way through. I finished the first sock and will eventually finish the second one (I’m almost done with the cuff). I’ll post about those later on.

 30×30 List Carry Over
Well, I haven’t really done any of these either, but the year isn’t over yet! We have plans to do the ZooLights tomorrow!!! (Finally!!!!) We’ve also talked about going to a Cirque du Soleil show (Paramour) in NYC next year, so I’ll get there eventually. (I did see a different Cirque show this summer, Kurios, which was Amazing!) Won’t get around to the pasta from scratch this year, but I plan to make a cheesecake from scratch to bring to my parents’ house the day after Christmas (our new tradition started last year) — can that count toward a pie from scratch??

New Blog Categories
Baking & Cooking 
Haven’t attempted too much. I did make peanut butter banana bars at the end of last year which were pretty good (oh, I guess I mentioned them in my 2016 plans post). I tried a mug chocolate chip cookie and that was not so good. I’ve done the typical banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, etc., but I want to try more.

I also do pancakes & french toast pretty regularly. Recently the pancakes have been with Bisquick, but occasionally I’ll make them from scratch (depends on time!). Dom loves pancakes! and I love them with blueberries. (the other day I was so excited to make blueberry pancakes and when I sat down to eat them, realized I forgot to add the blueberries — I was so disappointed). I’ve also figured out that using whole milk makes the pancakes better! (I only have whole milk on hand because of Dom).

I haven’t done too much in the way of cooking (hubby does the cooking more often; I’m the baker). I have a couple of go to dishes (like meatloaf or pork chops), but I’m hesitant to venture out of my comfort zone because I don’t want to screw up dinner and then not have anything to eat! (especially now that Dom eats table food with us and no longer does the baby purees). But with some time off from work, maybe I’ll try something. I’m always going through the cookbooks I have and folding down pages of things to try, and then never get around to doing anything.

Mom/Family Posts
Probably the only successful part of my goals! (look for “Mom Musings” to see those posts).

So to wrap up: I definitely didn’t do pretty much anything of what I hoped to do. However, aside from a few things, I’m OK with that. It’s been a fast, busy year learning to juggle being a mom with a full time job, and trying to fit in things I did before Dom. I can only hope to learn more each year and figure out the right balance for me. I’ll do a 2017 plans post and hopefully make it more realistic so that my review post a year from now will be sharing successes across the board!

Baby D · Mom Musings

Mom Musings: One Year

Let me repeat that: One. Year.

I’m still struggling to believe how one year has passed by so quickly. This has been the happiest, most challenging, and most fulfilling year of my life. I can’t imagine our lives without him. He brings us so much joy and he’s just the best. Allowing myself a moment to brag: he’s the cutest, smartest, and funniest baby. His little personality is really starting to shine through and he makes me laugh more than anything (he must get it from his dad). He’s also a pretty friendly baby and loves to wave at everyone (though sometimes it’s a delayed reaction and he waves after the person walks away, but that’s OK).

Someone once said to me “the days are long but the weeks are short”, and I truly understand the meaning behind that now!

Part of me would love to start all over again (with Baby D, not a new one any time soon!), to be able to snuggle my teeny newborn again, watch all of these amazing milestones happen again, and if I’m being honest, make some changes (breastfeed longer and set a better sleep schedule/routine earlier than we did are two that specifically come to mind). Another part of me is happy to have some of these things behind us (you know, like the colic) and doesn’t want him to grow too quickly. And yet another part of me wants him to grow up just a little faster so we can start doing things together. It’s very conflicting, being a mum.

I don’t pretend that this has been all rainbows and butterflies, it really has been the toughest “job” I’ve ever had. The colic in the beginning was really rough. Going back to work full-time added its own challenges, and it’s certainly harder to make last-minute plans with friends. I don’t think I could be a stay at home mom because I definitely need the socialization, adult interactions, and the chance to apply my brain to things other than baby 24/7 that a full-time job outside of the house offers. But it can definitely be hard to spend so much time away from him. And when I have a day off part of me wishes I had more time off. And let’s not forget to mention the sleep! Or lack thereof. There have been some really tough nights… even recently, just a few weeks ago, we had a really crappy night with minimal sleep for us and we had a cranky Monday (or at least I did!); but I think we chalked it up to teething as his first tooth finally started showing up within a day or 2 of that night.

Today I’ve been periodically looking at the clock, thinking back to what I was doing a year ago. (at the time of typing this sentence, 9:41pm, a year ago we were in the hospital getting ready to meet our little man). In honor of that, I’ve set this post to publish at 11:42pm today, the time he was born.

I’m so excited to watch what the next days, weeks, months, and years will bring and all the other firsts and new things he’ll learn, and what we’ll learn by extension. Even though we may no longer be considered new parents, we still have a lot to learn and we’re always surprised by the new things he can do. I truly feel so blessed to have this little boy in our lives and I feel that I can’t always adequately express that.

So here’s to all the parents out there. I have a better understanding and appreciation of what it’s like to be a mom (though I still sometimes wonder when I even became an adult and can still be surprised that I’m a parent). And a special shout out to my parents: thank you so much for all you’ve done and continue to do for me & now for my little family; being a parent isn’t easy and I so appreciate all you had to do or may have had to give up for Kristen and me. And to the newer parents or parents-to-be out there reading this: it’s a wonderful experience and I wish you all the love, luck, health, and joy (and sleep) in your life with your new or soon-to-be babies.

(Side note: today is my WP anniversary! I started this blog back in 2011)