December 1, 2014

Twain and Lewis

I was invited recently, by my friend, Nikki, to participate in a little project for her newly released site just for book readers! I had the privilege of working with her at Barnes and Noble a while back (she was my awesome Supervisor), and now she just launched a site you will just LOVE! It is called

           Ampersand Book World

Ampersand book world is a family friendly site, catering to all the fun aspects of what READERS, like you, absolutely love! There is a... book of the month, author of the month, and even a shop! 

As Nikki says from her Etsy shop, "Have you ever wanted to book a trip to Jack London's old haunts or maybe stay at Beatrix Potter's house? Do you want to know what book to get Grandpa for Christmas or are you looking for other bookworms to socialize with?" Then A Book World is just the place for you! 

Nikki gave a call to me for little ones five and under (mine are 1 and 3), who could show their love for the written word. My boys love me reading to them, and so I was so excited to jump on board! I considered some of my favorite classic authors and picked a few of my favs. 

I grew up reading C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series, and the Screwtape Letters. The passion and creativity he wrote with captivated me and drew me into his books, especially with the Godly themes present in his work (such as Aslan in The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe). I made James into C.S. Lewis by making him a Sunday Best bow tie from Crab.Apple.Attic, donning his dinner jacket given by my friend, Johanna, and making him a pair of round spectacles out of pipe cleaners and black electrical tape. We had so much fun (even though he wouldn't wear the spectacles)! Ya know, they kinda do look alike, too. 

Mark Twain has also been another beloved author, for his adventurous writings of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. His look in old age reminds me of Albert Einstein. I wanted so badly to make Nathan a full white fur hair cover, but due to time I just made a turned down mustache. He looked great though, and modeled the part well. I love to seeing his passion and desire for me to read to him every day. 

So much fun to have close friends who have a passion to read and to inspire that same passion in others! Thank you, Nikki, for letting me participate in the fun! Be sure to check out 
and let your love for reading grow even more! 

November 8, 2014

Chalkboard Invitation

 There is a three quarter wall in our house that divides our kitchen and living room. Since we moved here, Steven and I have talked about what to do with that wall....take out the wall and open up the space (what I want to do), or turn it into a half wall (what he wants to do), or cut a "window" into it. Choices, choices, but for now it stays just like it is. Now the problem was that the kitchen side of this wall was covered in wallpaper. Wallpaper does have it's place, but never in any of my homes. I always take it down. Always. My friend warned me before I started to peel that there were some serious wall issues underneath. I soon learned that she was so right and that the wallpaper had a well deserved purpose being on that wall! What must I get myself into?!!
 Almost all of these pictures include my son helping me with the wall prep (a.k.a. Mommy's chalkboard project), but I want you to know I'm not a slave laborer. Nathan only helped me when he was excited about it and picked up the scraper or water bottle pretty often on his own accord to help. Fortunately for me he LOVES squirt bottles and has gotten VERY acquainted with a scraper and a paint roller these last few years. I love him joining me in the crazy things I just must attempt :). I'm just awaiting the day when he tells me, "Mommy, you're not doing it right."
 And there it was. Look at that eruption of hideous gold tones underneath that wallpaper! What is there more to say??! With this house being built in the late 60s, I would have to assume that gold was a product of the 70s?? I totally get why it needed a generous application of textured wallpaper. 

Upon the unearthing of this gold atrocity, there were also many areas of the wall that needed some extra TLC with applications of joint compound. That patch down in the center, next to the outlet, looked like a drywall patch gone wrong. It was uneven and flimsy, obviously not attached to a stud and covered incorrectly all those years ago. I can't say that I know the exact method to repair many things, but I'm slowly learning as Steven (my husband) teaches me along the way. Thanks to my Dad I learned how to paint a room correctly (and many other skills), and thanks to my husband, I have learned how to replace electrical outlets and switches, use power tools (many different drills), hang my own decorations on the wall, and do a little home repair work. We have worked on fixing up 4 of our homes/rentals in the past 10 years and I continue to learn. We are confident this is the last place we'll live in, so we are doing it right and just the way we want it.
 But wait....that is not GOLD PAINT! There was a small pocketed area down at the bottom and I started to peel.....and peel...and peel it did! Nathan ran back for the fun! 
And he peeled and giggled with glee. 
 After 2 days we discovered that only the lower half peeled off to reveal what felt like an oil based blue underneath. I think that's why it peeled off. Latex based paint does not cover oil based well at all. So then, Nathan learned to use joint compound and we covered a zillion divots and imperfections in the wall. And then we sanded, and sanded. 
 And before I decided to patch, instead of peel more, I stared at this gold/tan/blue spotted wall for nearly two weeks...part in procrastination, and partly to see if I should decide to peel the really stuck on portion of the gold. After two weeks, I decided "No" was the answer, and just patched that seam with joint compound and sanded to make it even. 
 Moving on...we primed with an oil based primer (I think I used Kilz, but I prefer Zinsser more).
 And after once coat of primer, it was starting to look better:
 And then I painted gray at the upper 3rd of the wall. 
 I wanted the wall to have some design and whimsy to it, so I opted for a patterned design. I cut a zigzag shape out of regular computer paper to use as a guide, and then used masking tape to mark out a repeated pattern. I made sure to measure down from the top of the wall to make sure my line stayed straight. I started drawing a tighter zig zag, but changed my mind and widened it for a
 much more appealing look. 
 Using a roller and a quart of chalkboard paint (only $10 at Lowes), I painted the lower half of the wall. After one coat it looked like this:
 And after a second coat:
 I then added a few practical decorations in the corner, such as a palette shelf (bought at a favorite local shop of mine) for a few of my fav cookbooks and some art, a vintage-y wall clock from Ikea, 
and a piece of lexan turned memo board.
To create the memo board, I left the outer plastic on the front and back of the lexan. I then made a quick template with a post-it note in the corner, and drilled a hole. Drill slowly and steadily (do not use pressure on the power drill), so that the lexan won't crack. 
 After drilling through all four corners, I removed the plastic from both sides of the lexan and secured it to the wall with 4 counter sink screws. 
 And my boy got to testing the wall out right away that next morning! Nathan's first order of business was to draw a train track...and he went big! 
 Even Daddy got in on the action and drew a steam engine for Nathan : ). 
 And we draw, and draw, and draw now! The invitation is always before us and we love it! We even found "dustless chalk" (seriously!!) at Hobby Lobby, so we're trying that out now. There is less mess, and while that white chalk haze seems to linger after being water washed, it's still so much fun! Thank you to my friend, Maranda, for giving me some great pointers for this project before I started! We are so pleased with how it turned out! 
What to draw, what to draw : )...Turns out that "erasing it" and painting over the chalk with water and a paintbrush are equally as fun to a toddler! Gotta love that too!

November 5, 2014

A Fireplace Mantle

We have been so extremely blessed to be able to live in this house. November 24th will mark one year here in our new home. We can't believe it's almost been a year already, but we are so, so thankful! During the past year we had a baby, worked full time (Steven), has been in school (Steven), served in the Army Reserves (Steven), and completed 5 patterns (Joy) this last year, we haven't stopped making our house a home. We have used any little spare moments (and late nights) that we could squeeze in.. mainly to repaint and redecorate to bring our style. We have enjoyed every moment! Though I haven't had the time to blog about everything yet, except my sewing room re-do, I'll start sharing more of our fun soon.  

When I painted this main part of the house in August I had a huge mishap. For the first time EVER in my vast history of re-painting and making over our homes (we've moved 6 times in 10 years), I spilled paint. Not just a little paint, mind you...I spilled HALF A GALLON of paint! I found myself up on a ladder, painting on little sleep, and not thinking too clearly. I left the paint can on top of the ladder and got down to get something. I then moved the ladder. Yep, you fill in the rest. It was quite a panicked moment! In a literal instant, paint was dripping down my arms, all over the wood floor, our furniture...and my kids just awoke from nap time. Ahhhh! The electric fireplace got the brunt of the mess, and I quickly whisked it outside and doused it off with a hose. I still have yet to finish cleaning it up 2 months later. I called my mom for reinforcement with my kids, while I used a credit card to scrape the paint off of the floor. It took me 3 hours. Oh yeah. 

And that's my story. But, back to the real reason I wrote this....
So, what to do with this awesome space??!! Blueprint wise, this space is designed for a formal dining room. It's right inside the front entrance and near the kitchen. But, since we moved here, we've envisioned another plan for this space. 

We really got attached to the fireplace in our last home and felt it created such a cozy ambiance to our living room, that after moving here, we thought about wanting another one. amazing husband ended up building a fireplace in just a few hours about two weeks ago! 
He came up with a few days off (which is amazing!) from work, school, and the Army and declared on a Tuesday that he was going to "build us a fireplace"! That afternoon he did some research, found plans, and reworked the design to fit our space. Wednesday he headed to Lowe's to buy wood for it at 1pm, and we had a built fireplace mantle by 7pm! He's really amazing that way!
 Here he was working out a final layout for the fireplace front in our basement. 
 He built it in two sections, quite similar to the original design by the Mann family which we loved, but changed some of the dimensions and math to fit around our electric fireplace. He brought it up in two pieces and finished assembling it, using wood filler to cover nail holes, and priming it.

He did it all. He let me put the finishing coats of white on it though, and when I came home from trick or treating last Friday, he had the space all cleaned up, paint and tools put away, and set up so special! 

Blurry picture (sorry!), but you can see the coziness come alive even more with the lights out and the fireplace on! Oooh, I just LOVE it!!! My husband is so amazing at anything he touches and creates... I'm so blessed by all he is and does to surround our family with love and help make our house a home. 

Now I think there has been talk about extending that fireplace to include a faux chimney....
 and I'm pretty sure I talked him into letting me build the side bookcases. Yes, I'm quite sure.
But, a bathroom renovation is up next on my to-do list. 

October 28, 2014

Hans Frozen Preview

 Introducing my Hans costume from Frozen! I had so much fun designing and creating this costume especially for (and by special request) my 8 year old nephew, Henry. His sister, Lilly, has been my beautiful Elsa model for my Sofia pattern, and then my Elsa dresses. Now it was time (actually long past) for her handsome brother to join in on the Frozen fun! And I could not have been more pleased with the result, or the amazing joy and delight my nephew has been radiating with!! His excitement (and politely asking me for it for 4 months now) fueled my design and desire to sew it up!

 One of my favorite things to attempt, is to see a photo and create a tangible design that looks just like it that is wearable. I like the realism, and fortunately that is what the kids want to. They WANT the costume from the movie. They don't want one off the shelf that is only a "hint" of the idea of the idea of the character, they want all the real details too. 
So glad that someone captured a screen shot of the back of Han's tail coat here, so that I could see the design. Boy was that elaborate, but so fun to draw up! I used felt for the gray part, and hunter green fleece for the detail. I would have used felt for the green part too, except I didn't find it in the right fleece it was (the color was so perfect!).
So, how did I make it? For the jacket, I started with a boys size 7/8 long sleeve t-shirt to get the body sizing/trunk part right. I drew long sleeves, added sleeve caplets which I made up, cut the tailored line to the front, and added tails on the back piece. All the black accent pieces are black felt (I bought a black bottom weight fabric to use instead, but time was not on my side to do all that finishing felt it was). I took a short cut on the undershirt and used a royal blue dress shirt from Walmart, and made a corduroy vest to go over top of it. The burgundy cravat was just 1/3 yard crushed panne, tied in a square knot. The pants I cut free hand from a boys cargo pair I had bought on clearance at Target last year. I used a strip of blue broadcloth to add the stripe to the sides. I made the pants with a flat front and gathered back waistband, similarly to the pant I made my son HERE, and added two gold shank buttons to the front.

And now...almost the whole Frozen crew is here in my pattern designs!! We had a fun, quick photo shoot before the kids headed to the Frozen themed out party. You can find.. 
and Hans?...well, no pattern for him. The only way I know you want my design here to be a pattern is if you beat down my inbox with requests, so drop me a line if you'd like at 

And some cameos with the "real deal". I hope cosplay costume patterns are in my future! Oh the fun! Just look at how that Anna vest stencil matches mine? Maybe she used our stencil templates for her vest and cape???!!! We may never know, but they all looked pretty sharp!

Yea!!! So much fun!! Are you ready to get your ANNA, ELSA, or OLAF pattern today?!!!
All our patterns at Joy2Sew are made for advanced beginner sewers. If you have any doubt just check out my shop reviews and see for yourself. All of you using my patterns have absolutely blown me away with the gorgeous dresses and Olafs that you have been creating! You are making true-to-movie costumes that are not only beautiful, but that will stand the test of repeated play, dancing, and singing venues of "Let it Go". 

Keep sending those pictures to me and posting on my Facebook page of all your amazing work!! YOU are why I love doing what I do. YOU making costumes for your kids that they just 
love brings me so much joy! Keep it coming, and thank you for choosing Joy2Sew!