Memories... Like Mom Made!

Memories... Like Mom Made!
Out of dark moments, flowers grow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Leila's Balloons

Ever since Leila's funeral, every month on her birthday and angel day we have sent balloons up to her. It makes Landon happy, and we like to watch them float away "up" to her...

It's like a metaphor for bridging the gap between Heaven and earth.

I know it isn't truly possible, but in my dreams I like to imagine her playing with the balloons, running through Heaven with the white strings held tightly in her hands and the pink balloons bouncing behind her.

Today Leila has been in Heaven for five months.

Five months.

An impossible lump in my throat is forming as I think about what could have been:

How big she might be if she were still alive. How she would be smiling and laughing, maybe even rolling over.

How proud her big brother would be.

But instead, I write this post. I talk about sending balloons up to my precious daughter, which I can't even do this time because I am stuck at home without a vehicle and no way to go get them.

So I guess Landon and I will go outside and blow bubbles for her.

It's sort of the same, right?

So my request to you is this:

Take your children outside this week and play. Let their laughter and joyous little shouts float up to Leila. Think of Leila, and all the other baby angels in Heaven. If you pray, say a prayer as you watch your children bask in the sunshine.

And if you happen to see a pink balloon in a store and want to send her one: please take a picture to share with me, or on your own blog and link me to it.

Thank you.

Virginia, Donovan, and Landon.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fitted Sheet Tutorial

So as you know by now, I have the world's most adorable toddler boy, Landon. He is 2 and a half now, and totally rocking the big boy bed. He has been in a toddler bed for about a year now, so I figured it was time to upgrade him to an actual sheet set, complete with flat sheet and pillow case.

But the problem is: these don't seem to exist in the stores.

They have plenty of fitted sheets for crib sized mattresses, but no flat sheets or pillowcases.

I mean, I totally understand that you aren't supposed to put a flat sheet in a crib and all, that's cool... But most toddler beds, ours being one of them, use a crib sized mattress.

So what am I supposed to do?

Make my own sheet set from scratch, of course!

So at first I decided to see what kind of sheet tutorials there are floating around the web. I mean, I knew I could figure it out on my own, but honestly, I didn't want to have to measure his mattress (I am lazy and I admit it!), so I figured I would just get the measurements from someone else and bust this out during nap time.

But that didn't work. Because apparently mattress measurements can differ depending on the mattress...


So I was going to have to measure his mattress anyway. Oh well.

But then as I continued reading, I found out something very important:

apparently, people didn't make flat sheets for their toddlers.

I couldn't find a single flat sheet tutorial.

Not a one.





So I am sure you could feel my excitement as I shouted "YES! I GET TO BE THE FIRST!"

So I am pleased to announce, that following this fitted sheet tutorial, there will also be a flat sheet and pillow case tutorial.

First lets start with the fitted sheet.

First I started with something like 4 and a half yards of this awesome kids style Toile fabric.

Prewashed, of course. DO NOT skip the prewashing step. If you don't know the importance of prewashing your fabric: trust me. Especially for something that is going to be washed as much as a sheet anyway. P-R-E-W-A-S-H!

It was a soft blue and white and matched Landon’s room theme perfectly. And it didn’t hurt that it was free….

I measured Landon’s mattress and found that it is 27 inches wide (W), 52 inches long (L), and 6 inches deep(D).

I knew I wanted at least 2 inches on all sides to make the sheet fit nicely all the way around, so we will call that E, for ease. Pretty much because I couldn’t come up with a better term…

To figure out the total width of my fitted sheet, I need the following formula:

W+2D+ E= TW


For my mattress that equaled 43 inches.

If your mattress measures the same as mine, you just may be in luck. Most fabric widths measure between 43-45 inches anyway (not counting the selvedge), so you may not have to cut anything off the sides.

In fact, let me let you in on a little secret…

My TW was so close to my original fabric width, that I decided not to trim it… Shhh…. I am lazy. And cheap. And quick.

And that’s why you love me.

So now I am working with 45 inches of width. And I am okay with that. Normally I would cringe at the thought of using the selvedge but this fabric had “invisible selvedges” meaning that it was all still patterned material, the selvedges are just bound. But if anything it gives those edges extra stability because they won’t be in danger of fraying. So work with what you’ve got! Any time you can cut corners, DO IT!

Another reason I was all for using the full width: it gives me an extra inch of lap over on the bottom, which in my mind can only mean a more secure fit for a tossing and turning toddler, not to mention more room to accommodate mattress protectors and what not. So in reality my formula was 27+12+6=45. Decide how much lap over you want on the bottom and determine your E based on that. Or you can be like me and just use the total width. That is fine with me!

If you are going to work backwards that way, start with the width of your fabric (X), and subtract (W+2D). X-(W+2D)=E. In my case that is 45-39. Leaving me with 6. Ta-dah!!!! So if you are doing it this way, this will be your E and you will use it again to find you Total Length (TL).

For TL (total length) you need the following formula:


For me that is: 52+12+6=70

So basically two yards.

So now cut I need to cut out my 45” by 70” rectangle of fabric.

I folded my fabric, selvedges together. Then I laid the long piece of fabric across my cutting mat, with the bulk of the extra fabric to the right, or so that it hangs off past the largest inch measurement on my mat.

Then fold the fabric back on to itself. Line the folded edge up at the 0” line on your cutting board, using a long ruler to shimmy the fabric to the very edge of the first line.

Line the cut edge up to a little more than 35 inches on your cutting board. Make sure that the folded edge is still lined up at the 0” mark. This way I can cut a perfect 70” long rectangle and square up all of the cut lines. I like to use a 24” x 6” clear cutting ruler and a rotary cutter so I can guarantee nice angles.

In the picture I added ¼" to my final measurement. I did this because I serged my cut edges. Feel free to do the same. If you don’t have a serger, add ½ an inch to your total length. That way you can turn in ¼", press, and turn in another ¼" and sew. This will give you a nice finished edge.

*Cutting tip: ALWAYS place your cutting guide, or in my case my clear plastic ruler, so that it is laying on top of the part of the fabric you are going to be working with. Then place your rotary blade up against the cutting guide and carefully guide it down the fabric, using your other hand to hold the ruler tightly in place. This ensures that, should your blade slip away from the cutting guide in the opposite direction, you won’t cut into your sheet where you aren’t supposed to.

Then from each corner, cut a square that equals D+(E/2).

This is because you want to end up with a rectangle exactly the size of your mattress with “flaps” that would fit down each side. You will then be sewing those sides together. I suggest serging them.

Okay so back to the math (you can tell I am a big nerd now, huh? Oh well, I am not ashamed of my nerdness!)

D+(E/2)= measurement of square


Now as a last minute thought, I decided that I wanted to have about an inch of wiggle room on each side so that my sheet won’t pucker or pull more than necessary. Since we are cutting a square, we subtract half of the total wiggle room we want, meaning:
Measurement of square - .5 inches= 8.5

So I will be cutting 8.5 inch squares from each corner.

Line up your cut corners on your cutting mat. I did this by keeping the whole sheet folded shut after the initial cut. Then I rotated the whole thing so that the corner without any folds was pointed at the bottom left corner of my cutting mat – 1” x 1”.

I lined up my corners one on top of the other, beginning one inch in so I could see the line measurements clearly.

Then I carefully laid each layer of the sheet down on top of the next, making sure to smooth out any wrinkles.

Now that I have all of my corners lined up, I am ready to cut out my squares. Because I am starting at 1” instead of 0”, I need to cut at the 9.5” mark.

Using my ruler, I measured in 9.5 inches from both sides and made a dot. This will help me ensure that I make even cuts.

Using the dot I made, I squared the ruler up from the 0” line on my cutting mat to the dot I marked earlier. I made sure that the edges of my fabric lined up perfectly at 8.5”.

I lined up my ruler, laying it to the right of where I am making the cut, so that I am protecting my final sheet fabric.

Then I cut away the 8.5” square.

Measure your square once more to make sure it’s even and trim accordingly. You know the hardware rule: “measure twice, cut once”. Well in sewing it is JUST as important! You can’t undo a cut, so always, always, always measure twice before cutting, then again after cutting, just to make sure nothing shifted.

Save your squares that you cut out. If you are like me, you may want to incorporate them into another project later.

Next I serged my cut edges. I didn’t bother serging the selvedges because they already look nice and won’t fray.

See how professional the serged edge looks? Definitely worth the extra trouble.

Open up your sheet and focus on one corner at a time.

Fold the sheet so that the cut edges of the corners are lined up, right sides together.

Your sheet should look like this. The top of the 8.5” edge should make an angle.

Pin the 8.5” edge together, then sew.

First, I serged mine.

Then sewed right on top of the inside edge of the serge to make it stronger.

Try and keep the seam right on top of the serged edge, the furthest thread to the left of the raw edge. You can see in this picture the dark blue on top of the serged grey edge.

Press each seam to one side.

Now at this point, the amount of work you want to do is up to you. You can turn the entire edge of the sheet under ½ an inch and sew, or you can add the elastic to the sheet as it is now.

Because I serged my raw edges I didn’t really see the need to hem it up. It was just more work than I wanted to do for a “quick” project.

If you want to make a more finished sheet, at this point you would turn each edge up ¼ inch and press. Then fold the edge another ½ an inch and sew. Leave 1 inch open somewhere on the hem to add the elastic. If you do it this way, you will need about 45 inches of elastic. Prestretch your elastic (stretch and stretch and stretch) and then attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and slide it in to the casing. When you get back to the beginning, sew the two ends of the elastic together then sew the casing shut. Make sure to back stitch well.

If you are like me and you are being lazy and don’t want to make a casing, cut four 10 inch strips of elastic. I used ¼ inch because it is what I had.

Measure 10 inches to the left and right of each corner on the edge of the sheet and place a pin there and pin your elastic to one end. Do not forget to prestretch your elastic.

Take that to your sewing machine and line the elastic up under the needle.

Turn the wheel by hand until the needle goes in to the elastic. Remove the pin. Backstitch and forward stitch until the elastic is secured to the fabric.
Now you will need to have some patience.

Set your machine to a zig zag stitch. If you don’t know your machine well, you need to practice your zig zag setting to decide the appropriate width.

When you are ready to start sewing, you are going to want to hold the fabric to the back of the machine (behind the needle) with your left hand to pull it through the machine, and with your right hand you need to stretch your elastic as far as it will go. This is why you need to use your left hand to pull the fabric through… otherwise it will come flying at you when the needle goes up!

Make sure you stretch the elastic REALLY tight! This will make the fabric pucker when it is released. The tighter you pull, the more it will pucker.

When you get to the end of the elastic, you should be to the pin you placed marking 20 inches from your starting point (or 10 inches from the seam). Backstitch several times until it is securely attached.

Repeat with each corner until finished.

You now have an easy peasy toddler or crib fitted sheet!

And I totally forgot to take a picture of the finished product, so tomorrow (since my son is currently asleep in his bed) I will take a picture of the sheet on his bed and upload it!

In a few days I will post the flat sheet and pillow case tutorials!

** I absolutely encourage you to use this tutorial to make sheets for your little ones! If you use my tutorial, please upload pictures of your finished product!

Oh: feel free to sell the sheets you make using this tutorial. I only have one request: be better than me! Don't cut corners like I did in this tutorial. I made this fitted sheet for my son, so I skipped some corners that I don't skip when making a sheet set for a customer. Don't be like me: be better than me! :) Also, if you want to make a tutorial like mine, that's GREAT! Please link me. Happy sewing!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pumpkin Donut Holes

A while back I tried a new recipe I had seen floating around the internet from The Craving Chronicles. Pumpking Spice Donut Holes....

Let's just say these things are delicious, maybe even life changing...

Ok, definitely life changing.

I have since made these about 3 or 4 times and even made double to freeze (they froze beautifully, by the way), and every time they have turned out absolutely scrumptious...

You MUST try these.

Perfect for a sleep over, for a fancy brunch with the girls, for a good start to your morning any day of the week ( I mean seriously, pumpkin IS a vegetable after all!).

You will love me for this recipe.

I promise...

So you can hop on over to the original post here and follow her directions, or you can just read on and hear how I did it, as well as tips for freezing extras (if you manage to have any).

Pumpkin Donut Holes
(The recipe below is a double batch of the original with a few minor adjustments. I froze half to use later and boy was I glad I did!)

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees

Sift together the following in a medium sized bowl:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

In a larger bowl, beat the following until blended:
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 egg
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup canned plain 100% pumpkin
1 cup milk

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until mixed. Do not over mix.

Spray your mini muffin pan with cooking spray and fill each cup 2/3 of the way full. Bake for about 10 minutes.

While the donuts are baking, mix 1 cup white sugar with 3 tablespoons cinnamon. Melt a stick of butter in the microwave in 15 second increments until melted.

When the donuts are done baking, let them cool just enough to handle, then dip each one into the butter, then roll in the sugar.

This double batch yields about 50-60 donut holes. If you don't want this many, you can either freeze half like I do, or do the original recipe amounts, or divide mine in half.

Every time I have made these, the entire plate has been gone in less than an hour... Even when it was just my two year old and me!

If you are like me and you want to freeze half for later, you will bake them for just a few minutes less than your other batches. Then freeze them in the muffin tin for an hour or two. Then simply toss them into a freezer bag and when you are ready to eat them, put them back into a muffin tin and heat for 5 minutes at 350. Then coat them in butter and sugar like you did your fresh batch!


I Am Still Here.

Why do I feel so weak all the time?
Like trying to move forward will break me.
I try to let the time take me,
To remake me.

And yet here I am.

Day after day I am still here.
Though part of me is missing you,
Part of me is missing, too,
It just won't do.

And yet, here I am.

A woman with half a heart.
Making the motions, playing the part.
Trying to feel, trying to mend.
Trying not to think of what should have been.

And yet, here I am:

Thinking of you. Of your tiny fingers.
Your long, skinny toes.
Your dark peach fuzz hair and your teeny nose.
I'll never stop thinking of you, I suppose.

But maybe, just maybe

One day it will hurt a little less.
When I think of you, perhaps I will smile,
And only shed a tear once in a while
But still miss you, I will.

And yet, I am still here.

I am still here. Though my posts have been few and far between: I am still here. These last few weeks have been rough on me. Dealing with the mixed emotions from day to day and trying to settle in to our new normal has not been easy. But I have been making it through as best I can... I have a lot of new recipes and tutorials coming your way. I haven't quite figured out how to make the transition from personal journal entries back into my crafting and cooking posts... I feel a bit bipolar when I look at heartfelt entry after heartfelt entry, then see a recipe sprinkled in.

I am still hurting... but I am moving forward as best I can.

Cooking and sewing have helped me greatly in that department. And I want to share that with you all.

I will never stop missing Leila, but I don't want my emotions to keep me from living the rest of my life. I am trying to learn how to balance missing her with moving forward.

Slowly but surely, I think I will get through this.

I look forward to the coming months with all of you. I hope you do too.