Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sewing Storm

I am still making over here! This weeks projects were a diaper caddy, leggings and burp cloths. Honestly I am starting to run out of project ideas. I am so enjoying the distraction from reality though.

The divided basket is a free pattern from Noodlehead. This was such a fun and quick evening sew. I opted to sew leather handles on after the bag was assembled. I am so happy with the way that it turned out. I plan to keep it full of baby essentials in our living room. Of course, at 35 weeks I haven't purchased a single package of newborn diapers yet... but hey, when I do, they can go in this cute caddy.

I threw together a few quick burp clothes in the process. I only have a million of these already from Violet. BUT, I feel like every new baby needs a few new things. The bottom three are knit from Joann's backed with chenille. The top one is just some scraps I threw together with chenille.

I really wanted to create my own stamp to customize some swaddle blankets and a few white onesies. I already had most of the supplies so I carved this little feather. This was so fun. Basically now I want to carve a million more stamps and create tons of new textiles. I picked up a stamp-pad at Joann's that you can use on fabric. You let it dry and then set it with an iron. It should be interested to see how these wash up.

The legging pattern was free from here. I loved that the waistband wasn't elastic but another piece  knit. I feel like elastic waistbands can sometimes cut into little tummies if they aren't just the right size. It's impossible to know beforehand how big or small babies stomach is going to be. The pattern has 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12 months. I scaled the pattern down even further and made a 0-3 size from the pattern pieces.

Any good ideas for baby sewing projects? I would really like to make a new diaper bag and maybe this cargo duffle

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke

 I was a little skeptical about the book when I began. Last August I read another book by Thomas Locke, Trial Run. While I enjoyed the book, the genre and tone were so different. It was hard for me to imagine the same author writing this type of fantasy. This book is very different and even better in my opinion.

The Merchant of Alyss is actually the second in Locke's Legends of the Realm Series. The first book in the series is call Emissary. Never fear, if you haven't read Emissary you can still enjoy Merchant of Alyss. Before I picked it up, I didn't even realize it was a sequel. I would suggest reading Emissary first, but it's not absolutely necessary. There are a few points that I felt a little lost, but I was able to fill in the details as I went.

A rundown of the story,

"Beneath the hills of a primeval city, a vanquished enemy is gathering power. As this new threat arises, can Hyam summon his true heritage and overcome the forces of evil?

When Hyam reluctantly returned to the Long Hall, he never imagined how his life would change. Latent powers were honed, chance encounters brought new wisdom, and even love found a way into his heart. With his wife, Joelle, he now makes a home in Falmouth Port.

Hyam is slowly recovering from his battles when a mysterious shipment of Milantian scrolls arrives. Soon he is haunted by dreams of mythic beasts and coming conflicts. When Joelle falls under a sorcerer's spell, he must venture through the desolate lands to save her--and his community.

One particular scroll seems to hold the promise of new powers, but it also carries a hidden warning about an unfathomable threat. As Hyam sets out on another journey, he is keenly aware that he must rely on all his abilities--and his forbidden past--to succeed. His quest could bring deliverance . . . or devastation."

It didn't take me long to become fully immersed in the story. I really enjoyed the extensive world-building that Locke wrote into this story. It's not just one city and one culture, the book takes place in an entire realm. Many people distinct groups and cultures are woven into the story.

The characters were all new to me. I imagine that a majority of  the character development took place in the first book of the series. I still felt a deep connection with the characters and could see how they grew and developed over time. The only character I didn't connect as much with was Joelle, but she isn't as present in the book as the others. I really enjoyed Shona's journey. I thought Locke did an excellent job taking the immature girl and showing how her experiences transformed her.

I often feel a need to skip ahead and hurry up the story about 3/4 of the way through a book. A lot of times that's where books seem to lag and I want to get to the resolution already! For me though, this book kept me engaged the whole time. Sure, there were some standard fantasy elements that might not have been super original. On a whole though it was just a really enjoyable story. Locke could have explored deeper into Hyam's grief, but honestly I'm glad he didn't. You get that he has seen a lot of hurt, but Locke doesn't take the book too dark. He kept the story moving without getting bogged down in that.

This is a good clean fantasy read that can be enjoyed by many ages. Emissary is next on my list to read and I will be picking the third book up when it comes out!

I received a copy of this from Revel book in exchange for my review.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sewing for Baby

There are seasons of life that I just don't feel the hunger to create. Sometimes my free time is just spread too thin and I choose to invest elsewhere. Most of the time though, I want to make something, I just don't know what. I hate that feeling. I desperately want to sew, paint, knit, embroider, letter-- create in any form, however my brain just feels blank in what direction to go.

 The final weeks of pregnancy have sent me into creative overdrive. A new baby on the way has given me tons of inspiration in the sewing department.
I started this simple quilt before we knew the gender of baby. This was suppose to be a super easy project... I was just going to cut, quilt and bind. I figured I could whip this baby out in an afternoon. I made it through about half of the quilting when it became clear that things were not looking good. The stitching was just wonky and pulling weirdly everywhere. It was not looking how I envisioned it in my head. Being the very mature person I am, I seriously considered throwing it in the trash can. I was SO mad at this quilt. I shoved it in my fabric closet and tried not to think about it. Last week I pulled it out and examined the mistakes. Turns out they weren't as catastrophic as I had thought. Sure, it wasn't perfect but it was okay. I trimmed the worst of it off and bound the edges. After a wash I was downright pleased with it.


Feeling like a sewing rockstar, I decided to whip up another quick blanket. I have had this woodland knit from Joann's since this summer. I am so in love with this print. It was a little hard to cut into it. I wanted the entire bolt but settled for 1.5 yards. I thought a blanket would showcase the large-scale print well. I backed it with a peach french-terry knit and bound it with bias tape in the same material. This all sewed up surprisingly smooth. I need to check if my local Joann's has any more of this fabric...

This last project was something I daydreamed up one evening. I like the idea of a portable place for baby to nap. I used to have a cute Moses basket, but it completely unraveled on me. I made up this large cushion thing... Obviously, it wont last long once baby starts rolling/scooting. But it will be a cozy nest for a bit. I can put it on the bathroom floor when I shower or in the kitchen. We'll see how much use it really ends up getting. My big kids are obsessed with it though. They both love cuddling up on it. The cat is certain I created it for her and has been shooed off more times than I can count.

I have a million more ideas and projects in my head. Now I just need the time and supplies to make them a reality before baby comes!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Beautiful Word Bible NIV

Illustrated Faith

When I had the chance to review the new Beautiful Word Bible from Zondervan I just couldn't pass it up! The concept is so lovely,

"Be drawn into God’s Word through a fresh, creative expression of the beautiful words of God. Crafted on high-quality paper and balanced with inspiring full-color art and blank space, the NIV Beautiful Word Bible will encourage a deeper and more authentic quiet time. With 500 verses illustrated to help you see the rich diversity of stories, characters, prophecies, rewards, and hope contained within Scripture, you will discover wisdom to sustain you in every season, drawing you deeper into God’s life-changing and inspired Word."

cover without dust jacket
It certainly is a very pretty Bible. Personally, I prefer the cover without the dust jacket. Ascetically I think it hits the mark throughout. There are tons of illustrated verses that are both inspirational and beautiful. It's really fun as you read to turn the page and be surprised by a new illustration. Some take up the full, double page spread, while others are in the margin.

Most are as you see in the photo, in the margin area. I like that the margins that don't have illustrations are lined and waiting for your own notes and markings.

So, it's pretty. Is that enough to make this Bible a worthwhile investment? Personally for me, with my limited funds, it's not. There were some things that I really didn't love about this Bible.

The first thing I noticed about the Bible on arrival was how thin the pages felt. I know, it's a Bible. The pages are always thin. However these feel downright tissue-y. They just feel a little cheap. The paper quality is a real issue here. I noticed immediately when I wrote in the margins or underlined text the pen showed through to the other side. Not only the pen, but the darker illustrated pictures are visible in the margins on the other side of the paper as well. If you don't plan on writing in this Bible, this shouldn't be a problem. A huge part of any Bible for me though, is marking it up.

The Bible itself is a little smaller than your standard Bible. The measurements are roughly 6x8 inches. When you add in the space taken by the margins the text room is very limited. Because of this, the font size is incredibly small. I actually compared it to all the other Bible's we have and it is considerably smaller than any of them. I have great vision and I struggle to read the words.

Here we are so far-- I can't write in it because the pen bleeds through the pages, and I can barely read the tiny font. This is just not a very practical Bible. With a list price of $44.99, I wouldn't purchase this. My Bible is constantly on the move with me- church, Bible study, marriage group, youth group. It gets used, beat up and inevitably I will spill some coffee on it. This is just not the type of Bible that is going to work for my everyday life.

It does look downright lovely sitting on my coffee table though. My children and guests have enjoyed flipping through the pages and looking at the illustrated verses. I am glad to own it and draw inspiration from both the text and the images. However, it's not something I would have purchased myself!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Handmade Love

I have been doing my best to keep my mind and hands busy as I enter the last leg of my pregnancy. I am getting close, but March is still a long ways off. It always helps me to have a project to distract me.

I just love little baby moccasins.. I wanted to pick up a pair for Elsie, but decided that it would make a great project! The pattern is free from Shwin and Shwin. Her pattern is really easy to follow and makes these a mostly simple sew. I will be honest, there were a few moments when I felt like punching a wall while sewing these. Let's just say, top-stitching the leather was not my finest or most lady-like moment. I could NOT get the stitching perfect. As you can see in the photo, it's pretty obvious.

I decided that instead of throwing these into my pile of "disaster projects" I would persevere. I'm glad I did because I like the final product so much, the janky stitching barely bothers me. These were a really quick sew- done in just a few hours.

The bow headband was a project from this afternoon. I used this free pattern. Very easy and suitable for a beginner.

Now I just need to decide what to make next?!

Whatever is Lovely

I was SO so excited to open this up when it came in the mail. My newest coloring book-- Whatever is Lovely. This book is a compilation of work from 12 different artists. The goal is for you to pick up a pencil, slow down and reflect on God's word.

 Each page features either a verse or  some inspirational quote. The quotes range from St. Francis of Assisi to Emily P. Freeman. There are a few hymns featured as well. The thing that ties them all together is that they glorify God.

Because there are 12 different artists, the pictures can be very different in style. The upside to this is there is a lot of variety. I think most people can find a style that they would enjoy coloring. The downside is then, that there are a few in here I wouldn't spend the time to color. Quite a few just don't really appeal to me. That's okay, because there are still a lot that I do like.

 The quality of the pages and book itself is just great. Each page is thick cardstock that can hold up to coloring. One can invest quite a bit of time coloring on these. The quality of paper (and art obviously) is what separates these from something my son would color on.

I do enjoy coloring, but honestly it just isn't something I plan on doing all the time. I enjoy working on one of these while watching a show in the evening to keep my hands busy. However, during the day I just feel like I could be doing something more practical.. Like actually reading my Bible. Or creating the art, not just coloring.

If I were to spend much time coloring, this is the book I would choose!

I received a copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Bitter in the Sweet

Inevitably this time of year causes me to look back. There have been some really great moments and memories made this year. On top of those amazing moments have been times of great fear and worry for us.

One of the biggest changes this year has brought is a new little life growing inside me. I cannot wait for Miss Elsie to join our family. I know that it will be one of the highlights of 2016. However, part of me is absolutely terrified. Everything in our family is about to change again. We will create a new normal and everything will be okay, but there are some hard days ahead.

We really felt the Lord leading us to grow our family again. Emotionally though, I would say I didn't really feel like it. It meant another long pregnancy battling my ICP. Fearing the moment when my hands and feet would begin to itch. I am incredibly glad and thankful for this baby, but there have been late, dark night filled with worry.

This year also brought a desire within my husbands heart to change jobs. He has worked incredibly hard to become qualified for the position he wants. He put in a lot of hours and hope into making a career change. So far it has yielded... not much. We are trying to trust in the Lord's timing and praying, praying that He would open a door there.

My husband and I have made HUGE steps towards reclaiming our marriage. This has been one of the best parts of 2015 for me. A lot of it has come in the form of embracing our many differences and making them work for good in our relationship. Sure, we had our share of stupid fights too. However, now I don't feel like fighting or unsaid problems define our relationship.

2015 brought a lot of victories. Mostly though, I am thankful for the Lord's mercy during my many, many failures. Thankful that dark days and dark thoughts don't prevail. Thank you Jesus for new years and new mornings.