Saturday, December 31, 2016

Lip Balm Christmas Cards

 I can't believe that I am writing my last post of 2016!  This year has just flown by.  Today I am writing a short post on these cute Christmas cards that I included in the gifts to the teachers at my daughter's daycare.  This was a quick and easy project using my Silhouette Portrait.  This would also be an easy project to complete with photo editing software and a large hole punch if you don't have a
Silhouette machine. These cards are fun because they include a little gift presented in a fun way.  You can use the EOS brand lip balm for these cards but I have also seen other lip balm brands packaged like the EOS brand recently.
 I opened up Silhouette Studio and started by drawing a rectangle in the size that I wanted my cards. I made mine roughly 4" by 6".  Then I chose my designs and message using fonts that I had downloaded on my computer.  Some of the designs I used were print and cut designs so they were already colored in but you can check out this post on custom wine labels to see how to fill in the font and designs that aren't print and cut.

Next I drew a circle which was just a little under 1.5" in diameter and placed it where I wanted it as part of my design. 

I made sure to add registration marks in the registration marks window and then I printed my cards on white card stock.  Finally I cut the cards and circles out with my Silhouette Portrait.  I made sure that I had only the circles and rectangles selected for the machine to cut.  

 Finally I unscrewed the lip balms and carefully placed the side with the lip balm through the hole and then screwed on the cover.

This card was my favorite of the bunch!
No wait maybe the holly one was my favorite...or the wreath one!  Okay I really love them all so much that I can't even pick a favorite.
The rest of the gift included a chocolate bar and a Starbucks gift card.  You can think of it as kind of a winter survival kit.  Lip balm for those chapped winter lips, a warm drink to warm you up, and chocolate-because well, it's chocolate.  I hope you enjoyed this little Christmas card idea.  This idea would work great for any occasion.  This idea would be great for Valentine's Day too especially if you are trying to find a non-candy Valentine idea like my sock Valentine's from last February.

So I have been busy with many other projects which I hope to blog about eventually but here is one that I won't be writing a separate post on.
Isn't this little baby gown adorable?  This cute Mermaid Baby Gown is by Kate of See Kate Sew. The 0-3 month pattern is a free download if you sign up to receive her newsletter.  You can also buy the full pattern here and it includes 3-6 month, 6-12 month, and 12-18 month sizes as well.  I made it for a friend's new little girl.  

Well I hope you enjoyed all my posts in 2016.  I look forward to all the new ideas that I can share with you in 2017.  I have one big announcement coming early in 2017 that I can't wait to share with you guys but it isn't quite ready yet (and no I'm not pregnant ha ha!).

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Car Seat Poncho

Hello everyone!  I hope you had a very merry Christmas!  Ours was wonderful.  It was the first year that we gave Santa gifts to Lyla and I had no idea it would be so fun to play Santa.  Today I am posting on a sewing project that has been such a wonderful solution to a very annoying problem. Last winter Lyla was still in an infant seat so a blanket over her, a hat, and the car seat canopy that I made which you can read about here were enough to keep her warm with out a coat.

She has been in a convertible seat since last spring and although I am relieved to not have to lug her heavy infant seat around winter has made it much more annoying.  It isn't safe for children to wear puffy coats while buckled in their car seat so you have to take their coat off to put them in and then put it back on when you arrive at your destination.  This is time consuming and I worry about her being cold in her car seat if the car isn't quite warmed up when we get in.  I saw a post from one of my favorite blogs on a car seat poncho and I knew that I was going to make one.  The blog is called Reality Daydream (formerly known as Sawdust and Embryos) and here is the tutorial for the fleece-lined hooded poncho.

Before I talk about the alterations that I made for my version of this poncho, I wanted to talk a little bit about the author of this blog, Bethany.  First of all her story about her struggles with infertility is so touching and real.  I found her blog right around the time that I had been diagnosed with a condition that I believed might prevent me from having children of my own so I really identified with her struggles and found hope in her successes.  The second thing about her that is amazing is that she is ridiculously creative and talented.  I don't think I have seen any other blog that has so many original and unique ideas as her blog.  She is truly inspiring so I encourage you to take a look at her blog if you haven't already.
Okay so back to my version of this poncho.  I really dragged my feet on this project because I knew that one layer of fleece wouldn't cut it in North Dakota.  So I ended up tucking an extra layer of fleece in between the outer layer and main fleece layer.  For my outer layer I used a grey suiting fabric from Joann Fabrics.  The fleece is also from Joann Fabrics.  I cut the other layer of fleece slightly smaller than the suiting fabric layer and sewed the hem of the suiting fabric right over that extra layer of fleece.
I also added snaps to her poncho partly because I love my KAM snaps so much.  After sewing my three layers together I sliced an opening on one side of my circle.  I took some pink grosgrain ribbon and pressed it in half.  I then sewed the ribbon over the raw edges that I had created by cutting the circle.  Next I added 5 snaps. I didn't measure them out, just eyeballed it.  I decided to add grosgrain ribbon to the neckline instead of hemming it just for aesthetic purposes.
This awful picture is just to give you an idea of how it works in the car.  I drive a small Ford Focus so this was the best shot I could get ha ha.  The back of the poncho drapes over the back of the car seat. It is easy to buckle the child in underneath the front of the poncho.

This poncho has been seriously amazing.  Lyla loves wearing it (she even cried when I took it off of her the first time because she wanted to keep wearing it).  It has made going places so much easier.  I have also gotten a ton of compliments on it at daycare.  One mom even said that I should make them to sell because she would buy one!  This isn't my best sewing work however.  I would need way more practice on these before I would be confident enough to sell them but it was nice to hear anyway. Thanks for reading this post!  Next up on the blog: Lip Balm Christmas Cards using my Silhouette Portrait.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Bokeh Christmas Light Photos

I love this time of year so much.  I love the music, the lights, advent church services, all of the fun traditions, and fluffy white snow.   I do not like the very frigid weather that we had for about a week last year.  The one advantage to that was that we didn't have to wait in line at Santa's Village like we did last year because most people decided to stay home because the high was -8.  Don't worry we bundled her up well and Santa's house was well heated.

Today I am finally posting about some lovely photos I took with my Nikon DSLR around Thanksgiving.  I recently purchased a 50 mm f/1.8 lens which had been on my wish list for awhile. This lens is great for portrait photography and it has the ability to create some nice bokeh effects. Bokeh is that wonderful background blur that you often see in professional photographs.  Another definition of bokeh that I love is "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light."  I like that definition especially for this post on bokeh Christmas lights.
I moved some furniture around in our bonus room to get some blank wall space.  I found some 5' light strings at the Dollar Tree and hung them up on the wall with clear push pins.  I chose to get colored lights but you could also use plain white ones too.  We have laminate flooring in our bonus room that looks like a dark wood and I loved the way the colored lights reflected off of the floor.
I used Lyla's Simba stuffed animal to take some test shots while she was napping.  The key to these photos is to shoot in either manual mode or aperture priority mode so that you can adjust the aperture on your lens.  Aperture is the opening in your lens.  As the aperture widens, the amount of light that gets in increases.  Aperture is measured in f-stops.  Smaller f-stops=wider aperture and more light, bigger f-stop=smaller aperture and less light.  My standard kit lens that came with my camera had 3.2 as the smallest f-stop that it could achieve.  This new lens can go down to 1.8 which is a significant difference.  I toyed with the idea of spending twice as much to get a fixed focal lens that could go down to 1.4 but I have been satisfied with the results that I get with this lens.  I got to try it out for the first time with my sister's senior pictures and I loved the beautiful bokeh backgrounds that it produced.
The other key to these photos is the distance of your subject from the background that you want blurred.  In the first photo of Simba I have him placed only about a foot or 2 from the background and you can see that I get a some blur but the green wires are still visible.

I gradually moved Simba further from the background until I achieved the effect I wanted.
Unfortunately my subject was a toddler and didn't always stay where I wanted her to but I still love shots like the one above even if I can see the wires and the baseboard heater in the background.  This lens is also harder to get the subject in focus when your subject is constantly moving.  I definitely need more practice!

Bob the Sloth and a snack had to make an appearance in some of the photos to keep her in one place. One of my favorite shots is the one of her lying on the floor and holding the snowflake.  This definitely wasn't in the plan but I'm glad I kept snapping even when she decided to lie down!  Oh and if you want to learn about the Christmas pjs that she is wearing read this post.

I think I am going to try to get another session in with a milk and cookies for Santa set up.  Cookies will definitely keep her in one place!  Next on the blog: my take on a car seat poncho.

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