Monday, January 28, 2013


A project to share!  Finally...

Sewing days have begun again for the year - I feel so so so lucky to have a friend who will travel to my house each week with her sewing projects for several reasons.  1. I would have a really hard time packing up my 3 pre-schoolers each week or even every other week.  2. It makes me set aside a whole day and dedicate it to sewing, and although I have so many projects on my to-do list I have a hard time actually carving out time, and these days a so needed.  3. We are so compatible when it comes to creating and working together on crafty projects - whether we are doing our own very different projects or working on similar items together.  This is sometimes difficult to find!  4. She does not mind when the littles are acting like little boys do and creating noise/mess/disturbances in the background (or foreground as is may be) - thank you my dear {I could likely list several more if I took longer to think harder, but for now this list sums it up}!

Last week I needed to make a wallet for our oldest as we are have a 'Money Management Contract' in place to begin teaching basic budgeting skills.  We decided that he would need a wallet to keep track of the money he needed to use to fund basic pre-teen expenses.  I found this tutorial at LBG Studio and it seemed like the perfect thing to make for him.  It was a very easy to follow pattern - great photos and wording for simple to understand instructions.  The longest step in this wallet was the piece cutting.  I had several interruptions and had to keep reminding myself where I was in the process, but from start to finish, actual crafting was approximately 1 hour.
The fabric matches well the iPod case - he is one of our baseball players.  The pocket on the right was intended to be the memo pad, but he has informed me that he has slide his iPod in that pocket and uses the curved one for his money.  Currently, the only card he has is his library card, but that little slot keeps it from getting lost in the clutter on my counters (what clutter - well I am not always hyper organized).  He did mention that it was a bit large, but figured it would serve the purpose.

After making that one I analyzed how I would personally use a similar sized wallet.
Because my new phone has several apps dedicated to tracking life's meanderings, I decided that the memo pad was not something I needed to carry with me at all times.  Two slots for cards would not be enough to hold the debit, credit, store, rewards, gift cards that I carry with me on a regular basis, so I made a few modifications to the original design:
I loved the curved shape of the phone pocket, so kept that, but instead of dividing the pocket behind I left it large and able to hold paper money.  The right side was completely revamped as a card holder for most modern adults are carrying more that a couple of cards.  (Photo detail looking from the top of the wallet)
My design had 5 slots for cards and this way each slot potentially holds 2 or 3 cards comfortably.  I did not leave a pocket behind the cards because the floppiness would be a potential for lost cards, plus the purpose of this wallet would be to keep your purse/bag clean and organized not stuffed with junk and things you do not need to carry.
A little ribbon loop allows attachment to a wristlet for quick in-and-out shopping.
As a 'prototype' item there are a few things that I would clean up in future - largely the bias tape along the top edge of the wallet on this right side - I needed it because I cut the fabric a bit too short.  Perhaps adjust the width to make it a bit smaller to fit in a pocket.
As I looked at the first wallet I made there was just something not quite complete, but I could not decided what I needed to do to finish the product.  However, I do love the button I added the to elastic on the second wallet - it just finishes the wallet.
Have an awesome beginning to your week.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dinosaurs = Scary or not: Review

As a child, dinosaurs intrigued me but also terrified me.  Learning about them in school, I did with interest, but like that of someone readying to ride a roller coaster - anticipating the fun but halfway dreading it at the same time!
LeapFrog recently sent me a Tag Reader system with Leap and the Lost Dinosaur.  As usual, I have nothing but positive things to say about their product.
First, although it was not part of my 'assignment,' I have to tell you how great the Tag Reader is - I love it; it could possibly be the greatest item in the LeapFrog repertoire.  We definitely will be stocking our our already overflowing book shelves with more Tag books.  This week I have already heard 'it is time to replace the batteries.'  It has been well used the past 10 days.
I always like to figure out how things actually work - usually as an adult you can determine how elecronic books 'know' where you are in the book because you have to indicate which page you are on before 'playing' on a page.  With the Tag you do not have to do this and the game icons are in. the. same. spot. on every page.  Today I marveled to my dear that there must be some type of bar code reader or something built into the 'pen.'   I was showing him how it works; playing a game on one page, I flipped to a completely different page and taped on a nest of eggs, and Tag knew exactly where I was with no prior indicating maneuver by me - simply amazing!  Lovely things for this brain of mine to ponder and think about.

On to my task - a review of the book Leap and the Lost Dinosaur:
So as I said earlier, my relationship with dinosaurs is a bit of love/hate - bottom line they scare me.  My kids have never shown a huge interest in dinosaurs - sure we have books around the house about them going to school, waking up in the museum, and cleaning their room.  I am not even sure how much they learn about them in school, and whatever I thought I knew is a bit out of date (I found out).  Leap takes them on an exciting journey with Dr. Quigley back in time - through the 3 (yes THREE) periods of dinosaurs.  I am not sure if I just do not recall, but I never knew that there were 3 periods of dinosaurs.  Kids learn about several different types of dinosaurs - where they lived, what they eat, size of the animal.  It has been about 20 years since my introduction to dinosaurs, and many of the names of dinosaurs are different - likely due to new paleontologists findings.
The book also contains dinosaur fact cards that are full of information for kids to absorb individually or as they play the game at the end of the book.  Finding similar and different characteristics kids have to navigate through Dinosaur Jungle Survivor Game.  Completing the book has piqued my kids interest in the world of dinosaurs with out making them nervous or frightened - thank you LeapFrog!

Disclosure:  In exchange for this review, I have received a Tag Reader system and the Leap and the Lost Dinosaur book.  All opinions contained here are completely my own and I have not been coerced by Leapster or any of their affiliates while writing my review.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013: A Year of Organizing

Well 2013 came flying into my life with a bang - sick kids then a sick mom.  I have not had sick puking babies in so long that I cannot even recall who was the last one to be that ill.  My sympathy lasted a couple of days and then it is just so. exhausting. dealing with cranky whiney babies, but then it hit me.  And I ached. felt like crying. ached. tried to nap. felt restless. BLAH.  Sometimes when I am in the middle of it all I wonder if I will ever feel well again, then it lifts and I do!

This year I am tackling in earnest the chore of organizing my life - I am 4 weeks into a program and so far you would never know it by looking at this house that I am in any type of effort to improve the situation.  But week 1 was all about clearing clutter in my head, with the suggestion of the book I am following I started a journal.  Having never kept any type of written document, I wondered if it would be helpful...  there were a few personal things that it felt good to write about, and I should know that I would benefit from something like that because I always have an easier time writing what I feel than actually talking about how I feel.  Now I am not an everyday type of journal keeper, at least not yet, but every once in a while a personal brain purge is a good thing!
Week 2 and 3 were about schedules - general household and then a cleaning schedule.  I feel like I actually have a decent handle on the general household schedule.  I have the white board calendars to write out appointments - I am trying to integrate my phone calendar into usage as well since it is always with me and can send out reminders as needed.  But the cleaning schedule is something I struggle with - my enginerd side of my brain likes things to be in order or at least the concept of living with order, but the creative flakey side often finds a reason to NOT maintain order like crafting, sewing, reading, dreaming...  And really it always waits.  The problem I find is that I get into a major creative funk when this house starts spiraling out of control, and I need to reign in the mess before I am able to accomplish anything creative.  Instead of trying to accomplish little chores each day and spreading the cleaning out over several days I decided to try one full day of cleaning each week, 2 laundry days, and creative outlets or time with friends on the other 2 days.  Of course there needs to be general maintenance on the non-cleaning days, but the deeper cleaning/scrubbing/vacuuming by mom will all be done on 1 day.  Although I see the wisdom in keeping the day the same each week, I need to be flexible, so for now it will rotate, but be pre-planned each week.  The kids will have to pick up the slack on the other days and help with the maintenance.
This week is about priorities - things I want accomplish and things I care about.  I did a little brainstorming today and collected a list of things that are important in my life.  It was interesting to see if written on a piece of paper.  As the list actually solidifies, I hope to share it in some form by the end of the week.  Also encouraged to find personal motivators, I am trying hard at a bit of self-discovery/reflection.  Usually I am a face-value type of person, not ready too deeply beyond the obvious  and it is interesting to analyze myself and my actions/thoughts.  Not to pick them apart and be overly critical, but to help understand me!
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