Saturday, April 30, 2011

Duct Tape Body Doubles

For a few years now, I've been wanting to make a dress form of myself.  Having an exact body double to fit clothing on as I sew would make things much easier!  I've put it off, because I knew it would take some effort and more than a little teamwork, but finally I had the perfect reason: in our church, our Creative Arts Team is responsible for both music and artistic expression in our building and worship experience, and so for each big sermon/conversation series we choose a new theme to go along.  This most recent one, kicking off on Easter Sunday, is called "Modern Family", and so we decided to do a spin on that with retro-fitting the stage and other areas with vintage and mod-inspired deco.  I volunteered to create four dress forms to put vintage dresses on.  And of course, I plan to take one of them back home after we are all done with them.  (WOW that was a long-winded explanation.)

Last week, my friend Lisa and I got to work on them, figuring it all out as we went along with this tutorial.

My friend Lisa, helping me to create a duct-tape dress form

I had already considered Lisa to be among my very closest of friends, but let me tell you, nothing brings you together like a little duct tape.  She now has a very (VERY) close understanding of my body.  It's all about lots of laughs and a good dose of body confidence.  (MANY laughs -- a little painful once the duct-tape has been fully wrapped!)

My friend Lisa, helping me to create a duct-tape dress form

We started with first the less expensive silver color, and then switched to black for the outer layer (in the interest of the form blending into our black stage as much as possible, allowing the dresses to really stand out.)

My friend Lisa, helping me to create a duct-tape dress form

Creating a duct-tape dress form

Preparing to be cut out of the duct-tape body cast.

Lisa ended up making three of these, and Greg made the final one for a total of four.

Our friend Josh built a wooden stand with a cross piece for the shoulders, which helps to stabilize the whole thing.  I put the "shoulders" inside the duct-tape shell, then plushed out the form with stuffing and quilt batting, and taping it first up the back, then the arm and neck holes.  Finally, I cut a piece of cardboard to seal off the "hips", and duct taped it all closed.

Completed duct tape dress form

Completed dress form.  (Sorry about the horrible background -- I forgot to take a picture until I was on my way out the door, bringing this to our church building.)

I will post pictures soon of our stage set -- it's the coolest one we've done so far, and I'm so proud of our entire team, and all of the hard work that went into it!

For now, here's some videos from Easter Sunday (the kick-off of the Modern Family conversations and superfun stage set) that I've just added to my playlist (the top four).  I had the privilege of singing a crazy fun Nico Vega song: Family Train  (sorry about the scary freeze-frame!)

An Easter Birthday

This past week has been so busy that I haven't had the energy or time to blog about any of it!

Easter Sunday was also my 31st birthday:

Blowing out the candles on my birthday cake

Birthday gifts

Greg made chicken Spiedies (grilled chicken-kebabs for those of you not from upstate NY), grilled sausages, and bought a cheesecake so that I wouldn't have to cook anything that day.  What a gift!

We had decorated hard-boiled eggs the day before, and so Greg and our neighbor organized an egg hunt for the children.

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt

What a fun way to spend my birthday with family and friends!

(For those of you who can't get enough of the pictures, we have an entire set of Easter pictures in our Flickr account here.)

Next up: creating a set of duct tape dress forms!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Faith!

Happy Birthday to my beautiful wife, Faith!


You are a brilliant homemaker, an exemplary Mommy, and my best friend in the world. Thanks for being who you are. We all love you very much!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Girl's Day Out

Today, I don't feel like doing a linky post, so we'll just save that for next week.  Sounds good to you?  GREAT.

This morning, Lavella and I got All Dressed Up in our matching shirred dresses (made from thrift store sheets), and went out to get our very first Mother/Daughter pedicure.

Girl's day out

Girl's day out

It was so fun to see her face when her little feet first dipped into the warm basin of water.

Daisy getting her first pedicure

After the pedicures, we went out shopping together and picked out some cute little outfits and a new Barbie with her birthday money.  Spending time with just Lavella is rather rare, and it was so nice to be able to walk along with her, holding her hand, listening to her stories and commentary that so often gets lost in the rush and tumble of the boys.

Girl's day out

My Lavella.  I feel so privileged that I get to be the mommy of this precious little girl.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday: Butterfly Leprechaun

There's not much to say about this outfit...

What I Wore Wednesday: Butterfly Leprechaun
VS Siren Legging Jean ~ long-sleeved slub-knit shirt from Old Navy ~ Frye Women's Dara Honeycomb Sandal ~ handspun, handknit Beachwater Bolero ~ Gothic cross necklace, unknown ~ green butterfly hairclips (sizes Large and Medium), Sprinkles and Frosting.

Except to say that I really like green. Really. A lot.

What I Wore Wednesday: Butterfly Leprechaun

Although most likely I'm not actually a leprechaun...mostly just because of the shoes.

Frye Dara Honeycomb Sandal

Because otherwise, I'd be a total doppelgänger

Green butterfly hairclips

Lavella also has a butterfly outfit of her own today:

Birthday dress from Uncle Jonathan
Dress from my brother Jonathan for her birthday.

Daisy in dress from Uncle Jonathan and butterfly hairclip

Golden Monarch butterfly hairclip also from Sprinkles and Frosting.

We've been very into hair-clips lately.  I've been thinking about Top Hat Fascinators lately...

What is your favorite color?  Do you also like to wear it?  When you look at your wardrobe, do you tend to see a whole lot of the same color, or do you like to mix it up?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Purple Buttercup Birthday Bag

For Lavella's birthday, I made her the dress that I pictured in yesterday's post, along with a coordinating bag (matching inner fabric lining).

Her favorite color is purple, and she loves anything "princess", so I just put as much girly ruffle, lacy trim and tulle-fluff as I could muster into one of my Pillowcase Dresses, and gave that to her on the morning of her birthday (Sunday).  I also made a matching hairclip out of tulle and grosgrain ribbon, which looked so sweet amidst her curls.  I've decided that I am going to start a collection of handmade bows for her -- it's pretty much the most fun and easy accessory that I've ever made.  Also, I love any excuse to dig out my oft-neglected hot-glue gun.

For the bag, I followed the free Buttercup Bag pattern.  Since I used quilting-weight cotton for the outer and inner, I also sandwiched some mediumweight interfacing between to give it extra body and strength (4-year-olds -- at least not mine -- are not all that gentle on things like bags).

Purple Buttercup Bag

I filled it with a large pack of flavored chapsticks, which nearly ended up overshadowing the gift itself.  I'd promised that when she turned 4, she could have her own chapstick (assuming this was old enough for her to no longer feel compelled to eat it by the stick...)  She added a large handful of her accessories, and has had this bag on her shoulder ever since.

Purple Buttercup Bag: contrasting inner liner and pocket
Floral lining to match her Birthday Dress, complete with a little interior pocket.

Because a girl should never be caught without her accessories.

Purple Buttercup Bag: topstitching and pleating detail

Topstitching and pleating detail -- this WAS perfectly pressed, but as I said: 4-year-olds are rough!

Daisy in her birthday "Princess" dress with Buttercup Bag

Most importantly, she finds it useful and fun, and she loves the fact that I made this, just for her.  A mother's love and time wrapped up in a handmade gift: there's nothing like it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy birthday Lavella

Dear Lavella,

On Sunday, you turned four years old.

Daisy in her birthday "Princess" dress

You, my precious girl, continue to inspire, astound and challenge me.

Your gorgeous curls, your quirky sense of style, those worried little eyebrows, and the way your mood can turn on a dime...

Daisy in her birthday "Princess" dress with Buttercup Bag

I love you.

Daisy in her birthday "Princess" dress

Your silly sense of humor, the way you put your tiny hand in mine when we walk, your tender hugs...

Daisy in her birthday "Princess" dress

I love you.

Daisy in her birthday "Princess" dress: decorative trim detail

I love watching you discover Girliness in a house full of boys.

Daisy in her birthday "Princess" dress: bias tape tie detail

I love watching you discover the world through your precocious, innocent eyes.

Daisy's fluffy tulle and grosgrain ribbon hairbow

I love your little voice, your made-up words, your gorgeous smile.

Daisy in her birthday "Princess" dress: eyelet hem detail

I love you.

Happy birthday little girl.


P.S. Dress made along the lines of my Pillowcase Dress Tutorial. Bag made from free Buttercup Bag pattern by Made By Rae. (More detail shots of bag in my next post.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Link-tastic Friday

Cute little toes:



Webwide coolness:
  • We eat a lot of butter in this house.  A lot.  Here's an article on five fats that are important and healthy to keep in your kitchen. (Thanks to my friend Mimi for the link!)
  • With four children and lots of friends, it can be terribly hard to keep our family schedule straight.  After wrestling with various written methods, wall calendars, etc., I have finally discovered Google Calendar.  I granted Greg's Google account access to the calendar as well, so now we can both edit it, no matter where we are, and can even access it from our phones.  It even gives pop-up reminders on my desktop for upcoming events.  Genius!


Food (savory):
Food (sweet):
  • I don't usually go for low-fat anything, but this Low Fat Lemon Curd looks like it might be a little less heavy and a little more zippy than the traditional kind.
  • I made savory Quinoa once, but Greg wasn't impressed with the grain, so I haven't made it again.  However, this Breakfast Quinoa with Toasted Coconut Almonds and Fresh Mango sounds like it might have to be my breakfast sometime very soon.
  • I have a weakness for creamy fruit salads, and this one looks both simple and delicious (via Mel's Kitchen Cafe).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Playdough time (with recipe link)!

Fairly often on this blog, I have posted about our love for making and playing with playdough.

(I love the two shots in the bottom corner from when we lived in Germany -- Lavella's puzzled face is priceless.)

Playdough is so simple to make, lasts much longer than the purchased stuff, and it provides countless hours of playtime.  The home-made stuff takes a super long time to get dry and brittle, so, although there is always going to be a little bit of a crumbly mess after playdough play-time, there isn't nearly the explosion of bits that happens when they play with that Other Stuff.

Today we made playdough during a playdate with a little friend.

Everyone had been rather fussy, but suddenly, there was peace and only the sound of rolling pins bumping over dough.

The playdough recipe that I use is a doubled version of this one; we scented ours with orange extract to match the color we chose.  It takes a little patience with the stirring, and some fortitute of arm strength, but once it's all cooked through, it's so worth it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday: Roller Derby (and a group date)

(Even if you don't usually read our weekly style posts, note that after the "fashion shoot" are pictures from a fun night out with some very dear friends that have never before been seen on this blog.)

Over the weekend, Greg and I went on a group date with friends to see a roller derby bout.  We love watching those TXRD girls racing around the track, throwing punches and making a scene.  So much fun!  Sometimes just watching the crowd is even more entertaining than the girls themselves; quite a variety of people show up.  Of course, for me, roller derby is also an excuse to style fun and wild outfits as my "costume" for the night.


Black and green t-shirt, Old Navy ~ cut-off denim skirt, Old Navy (modified by me) ~ black fishnets, unknown ~ Steve Madden Hondd black booties ~ Black/brown leather vest, vintage ~ chain necklace, unknown (originally a wallet chain, modified by me).




I used Maybelline EyeStudio Color Plush Silk Eyeshadow to create a dramatic eye (winged out on the sides), and Black Honey Clinique Almost Lipstick for a sheer wash of red on my lips.

And now for the night itself!

We carpooled with a bunch of our friends, and grabbed seats together right in the front to watch the action:


(Greg likes to make a horrified "candid" face for shots like these.  So wonderful.)  From left top row: Empty chair that Jason was sitting in, Alicia, Greg, Me, Unknown Guy and Lady. 
From left bottom row: Alison, Josh, Chris, Becca, Brittany, Rachel (also in bottom row but not pictured: Dennis, Jenny, Ron)


With two of my dear friends, Brittany and Becca

(Sorry, no pictures of the Derby Girls -- they speed by so quickly, it's hard to get a non-smeary picture, but you can see plenty on their site.)

Usually, we stay for the entirety of the derby, but this time we decided to leave at halftime for dinner at Austin restaurant Malaga.  The better to talk about everything we'd just seen!


At Malaga, table for 13 (!)
The food at the restaurant was super delicious.  Greg complained later that there wasn't enough seafood, and the vibe wasn't very "Spanish", but I LOVED it.  Also, eating out with this crew was entertaining enough in itself to make this dinner a memorable one.  I definitely plan to go back.

My friend Jenny and I are known for our animated conversations that always include VERY WIDE EYES, so we attempted to get some action shots...


Red-wine-afterglow shamelessly air-brushed out of our faces

As it turns out, it's nearly impossible to keep your eyes open wide while laughing wildly.



Chris and Becca


Dennis and Rachel


Ron and Jenny



My gorgeous girlfriends -- from left: Alicia, Alison, Rachel, Becca, Jenny, me, Brittany.

I love these friends like crazy!  Having people like these in my life here have made Texas feel like it's truly home for us.