Saturday, October 17, 2015

Small Sewing Project and Nursery Progress

I will be 35 weeks pregnant this Tuesday! Time sure is flying! Here is the most recent photo of my "bump." Ignore the mess in the background, our neighbor was cleaning out his garage at the time. Besides exhaustion and lack of sleep, this week has actually been better than the past couple were! The problems come and go, but I only have about 6 more weeks and then it'll be baby problems instead of pregnancy problems ;) The exhaustion and sleep deprivation are just going to continue, of course. I did end up in the hospital a couple weeks ago due to some issues they were worried may be related to my epilepsy. They kept me for observation and monitoring of the baby for a few hours and some meds. Once everything improved, I was sent home with the meds in case it happens again. Hopefully not, though, I felt terrible for two days after from the meds. I think this issue was they made me sleep all day - which ended up leading to me getting really dehydrated. This made the ongoing circulation, swelling, and cramping issues worse. The monitoring did show I was already having some contractions, so we will see if I make it all the way to 40 weeks. I know I've been having a lot of false labor contractions, but the monitors showed some real ones that were weak (I didn't even know I was having them). They did an exam though, and everything seems to be going well. 

We finally got the nursery painted! We painted it Sherwin Williams "Balmy" blue (SW 6512) , it is a calming sky blue color. My "plan" is to put up some cute tree and woodland creature vinyls, but we will see if that actually happens. 

Here is the "before" picture of the nursery in the color it was previously as well as all of our not-yet-assembled nursery furniture. 

Here are the "progress" pictures from yesterday and today. Yesterday we did the first coat of paint, and today we did the second final coat and worked on assembling the big items. 

We still have a few things in boxes - nothing major. One musical swing, a bath seat, and a pack n play. Then it's on to figuring out storage, furniture arrangement and decorations! We don't have much in the way of decorations, yet. By not much, I mean nothing ;) So I may need to paint some cute little woodland creatures to hang up in there!

Once we finish all of that, we have another huge project to take on: my sewing room. It will no longer just be my sewing/craft room, but also a guestroom. Complete with TV, games, futon, bookcases, as well as all of my sewing and craft stuff. Dealing with that this week is going to be "fun." We also need to order another baby gate to put on the bathroom door so that we can move the litter box out of my sewing room (who wants that in their guestroom, right?) and into the bathroom. Why a gate? Bruce is gross and eats cat poop. What a problem pup. 

Baby Shower
Yesterday, TJ's squadron made me cry (darn pregnancy hormones!). I was told to take the day off work for his squadron's barbecue. I just thought it was a good time to be social, eat free food, and enjoy the beautiful weather we've been having. I even cooked up some cornbread for it! When we arrived I was greeted with his entire squadron and their families surprising me with a baby shower! 

This made me feel so grateful and overwhelmed. I have been so far from close friends and all of our family members this entire pregnancy in this new place. Knowing the military really steps up to provide this kind of support is so amazing and appreciated!

I was asked quite a few times at the "barbecue" and I have also been asked at work, via text, and messages on Facebook about the baby's sex and name. Well, we have not found out whether we are having a boy or a girl, but we DO have names picked out. Here is my post on the names from Facebook: 

"If we have a boy, his name will be Theodore Edwin Dalen. He would be named after my great-grandfather on my dad's side, Walter Theodore Boyett, and TJ's grandfather on his dad's side, Edwin Olai Dalen.

If we have a girl, her name will be Valera Kate Dalen. She would be named after TJ's great-grandmother on his mom's side, Valeria Varna (Koerner) Bridges (with a slight spelling change), and my great-grandmother on my mom's side, Kate Rhea (Peckens) Slaughter."

Small Sewing Project

I forgot to post this little project a while ago. I found the pattern on pinterest and thought it was brilliant. Just a quick, afternoon project. So far I have only made one for the master bath, but I need to find some fabric to make one for the guest bath as well. Behold the awesome toilet paper holder: 

I used the exact fabric from the shower curtain my mom made for TJ's birthday. We are going with a "space" theme for the master bath. So far all we have are the shower curtain and now this, but we'll get around to decorating this house eventually....I plan on making a teal/purple/pink one for the guest bath, which is decorated in flamingos.

Next Blog
My next blog will likely feature all of the awesome baby quilts and baby gear my mom and I have made (so far). It is so much fun sewing cute baby things! I am also on the last block of TJ's double-sided T-Shirt Quilt. I took a hiatus on it while working on other things, mostly because it is huge and the T-shirt fabric has been a pain to hand quilt. Just have the last block and then the binding and I will finally be finished with it. Still have enough T-Shirts for two more quilts, but I may make one of them my first "rag" quilt so I won't be hand quilting the entire thing - which takes time from more important projects ;) 

My parents will be visiting in November and my mother-in-law and possibly sister-in-law will be coming Dec-Jan. I plan on working on the baby book I received at the baby shower and the family tree book while they are all visiting. I love those types of things!

Baby Registries
For those who have asked, we are registered at Target and Amazon. Just look up my name "Stephanie Dalen" and due date of "November 24, 2015" and they should pop right up.
 Our Target registry
Our Amazon Registry

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Souvenir Pillowcases

This past week, my in-laws came into town. I had been working on a handful of pillowcases for Christmas, but I realized since they were staying at the house they would need pillows! So the two I had already finished for my sisters-in-law, instead of Christmas presents, became souvenirs of their visit. I then spent the Saturday before they arrived making pillowcases for my mother-in-law and Erica's boyfriend, Zach. 

These are the two pillowcases that I made for Erica and Briana back in June. I found the owl fabric a while back at a garage sale on base, the couple was moving overseas and the wife was getting rid of her craft stash. I need to find more sales like that. For the borders on all four I used "leftover" scraps from previous projects or fabric from my fat quarters stash. I think I spent more time ironing while I was sewing (the borders) than I did cutting and sewing. I hate ironing, so I'm glad we installed a TV and the roku in my sewing room. 

Here is the pillowcase I made for Darsi, my mother-in-law. I used some fabric I found while shopping for Jessica's baby quilt fabrics back in Louisiana. The scraps along the side pull out the pinks and purples and are scraps left from Kathi's baby quilt. 

The last pillowcase was for Zach, who is a Superman fan. I'm sure my brother-in-law Chris will see this blog. He needn't worry: I have more Superman fabric leftover. I'll figure out something for him, too.

I love making pillowcases because they are quick (I can make two or more in one day), they make great useful and personalized gifts, and they help me use up my scrap collection! They are perfect. If you are wondering where I got the patterns for these pillowcases, I found them here and here. I LOVE the AllPeopleQuilt website, it is a great resource for free patterns, especially for simple/beginner patterns.

Other Current Projects:
I am also working on mine and TJ's family trees on, as well as scanning in old photos. I'm still trying to figure out exactly where I want to "host" all of my photos online--looking for a reliable and preferably free cloud service. Having thousands of photos on a hard drive is making me nervous--especially considering the time it takes to scan them in. I'm seriously considering just using Facebook as that may be the best way to share. I tried Shutterfly but I do not like their setup much at all. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

In addition, I'm working on cleaning up my "memory" box and catching up on my scrapbooking. My next blog will likely include some of these scrapbook pages. I use CraftArtist for my digital scrapbooking--which I love by the way. It means I don't have as much stuff to store in my house (always great for somebody who moves a lot), and it means I can print off the same page as gifts for multiple people (or just send them the JPG). I'm working on going backwards in time and am still in 2014. I have a lot of catching up to do! I use CraftArtist, and love all the features. I have tried StampinUp's MDS but I think I'm just so used to CraftArtist it's hard for me to use another program. 

I'm currently working on hand quilting TJ's double-sided T-Shirt Quilt. I still have enough T-shirts to make him another quilt (of his boy scout shirts), and enough to make one for myself. I'll be putting those off for a while since we are expecting our first baby this November! So, I'm working on baby projects. I'm trying to come up with ideas for all of my (many) friends and family that are also expecting this year. I do not have the time to make everybody their own baby quilt--so we'll see what I come up with. I'm almost done with the first baby quilt for our baby and have another cut out. They already have five though! Two from when I was a baby, a soft one my mom sewed (basic one), and two full quilts she sewed. And they have one more on the way being quilted by my Aunt Jenny! 

I'm also looking into migrating my blog to a different platform. I have realized this one is not very mobile-friendly when viewing it. Additionally, the customization options are slim to none. 

Other Goings-On
Since I haven't updated this blog in a while, here are some quick updates. We bought our home here in Florida and are now entirely unpacked and mostly organized. Still working on finding better furniture arrangements--not my strong suit. We have not started decorating, I'm hoping to be able to paint before hanging things on the wall. But, we cannot afford to do so at the moment. 

I have been applying for jobs left and right since February. On average 6-10 every week. I've only received three interviews total. I think my job history of moving constantly and having many jobs in a few years is hurting me, as well as my Bachelor's Degree (I get a lot of "Overqualified"). I hate that excuse, I clearly applied for the job at the pay offered. It is frustrating. I did start one job, but had such severe morning sickness I had to quit. I ended up in the ER twice due to dehydration and one day I was throwing up/dry heaves every ten minutes (including water). The zofran made me dizzy and knocked me out-making my choices vomiting or sleeping. Not working. I am now three weeks morning-sickness free and still looking for a job. My ideal would be a part time, weekday job (2-3 days a week). I was hoping to get more office experience but haven't had much luck. I was really trying to avoid any more pay cuts, retail, or anything that would give me an opposite schedule to TJ. It looks like I may have to take all three of those things, living in a shopping/tourist area. I have an interview tomorrow, wish me luck!

We also have finally gotten our third furbaby back - Agent Zero. We couldn't have her in TLF (strict 2 pet limit), so my in-laws watched her for us while we were house hunting. They brought her to us on this trip and she is settling in nicely - getting along great with Amos and not so great with Bruce, so everything is back to normal. 

I am now a Jamberry consultant! If you would like to learn more, let me know! I fell in love with these nail wraps (though, just like nail painting, it takes practice and patience to get going and looking good). Youtube videos are extremely helpful with jamberry! I'm still in the process of completing all of the training, and once I do complete it I will be making my own Facebook page. In the meantime, check out my website at

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Baby Quilt #3

I have finally finished Jessica's baby quilt. While living in Louisiana, she went with me to pick out some of the fabrics. It was my first trip to Cotton Candy Quilts, a really cute store with high quality quilting fabric, in Bossier. I found a pattern I really liked for the baby quilt, but altered it to make it square and a little bigger. I also had to steal a few fabrics from my mom's stash to have enough different fabrics for the quilt. 

To the right is the basic fabric selection for the quilt. I decided on a pinwheel-type pattern, though a different pinwheel style than the quilt I made for Kathi (I always want to try new things), this quilt also had a pieced border. The theme is bugs and bright colors. I can't remember which book I found the pattern in, but I believe "Spring" was in the title of the pattern. I thought it was very fitting for a cute, bright, bug quilt.

Graph paper comes in handy for planning--especially when you have changed the pattern and are no longer following along with the instructions in the book. It is especially handy when you have so many different colors. This is what the planning stage looked like: 

As you can see, this quilt took a lot of "putting together," but before you can put a puzzle together, you need the pieces. To the right, you can see the hundreds of rectangles, squares, and strips that were cut out for the pinwheels, borders, and binding. I did a lot of the cutting, but I am slow, and since my mom was helping me she took over for most of it. She's so impatient! I don't mind though ;)   After cutting out the pieces, we had to lay them out a bit. This gave us a better visual and we altered a few spots from the original plan I made on the graph paper. The basic layout turned out like the photo below.

I absolutely love bright colors, and thought this quilt looked so fun already! We sewed it together in lines and then had to put the lines together in the right order. Once it was all sewn together, we had to make the quilt sandwich. I want to add that both the previous and next steps are SO much easier when you own a large/cutting table and do not have to keep two dogs and a cat off of your work space. The beautiful quilt sandwich, with borders and backing (and all prepped for quilting):

I was SO happy with how this was turning out at this point. I love bright colors, and I think it looks fantastic. We had to hit the road to head to Florida. During daylight hours when I wasn't the driver on the trip, and while stopped in Memphis, I started working on the hand quilting. I also worked on it while in TLF in Florida. I didn't want to quilt the pinwheels, since A. I wanted to do something new, and B. That's what I did for Kathi's quilt. With TJ's input, I decided to instead quilt the back of the quilt. That gave me a new pattern and something different. At first I wasn't very happy with how it looked on the front, but once it was finished I loved it. It ended up providing a secondary, diagonal pattern on the front of squares. I quilted all of the "large" bug squares on the back. I used a very bright multi-colored variegated thread for the hand quilting, and it happened to be the perfect pattern since each square had all of the colors. I didn't get a good photo of the binding, but I believe I did a better job on it than the previous two quilts. Much more even stitching. For this quilt I did it the same as the last--visible, diagonal stitches on the back. It looked fantastic with the variegated thread. I think on my next quilt I may attempt blind-stitching the binding (the stitch typically "recommended" in quilt books) to see what I like more. I happened to finish this quilt while I had strep throat. So that timing was horrible. I made sure that we were completely in the clear before washing it, and just got around to mailing it last week. Here are a few photos of the finished product:

A little update from the pets:

Bruce says hello and that he LOVES the dog parks here. We go about twice a week right now--mixing it up between the Fort Walton Beach dog park with the dog beach and the Niceville dog park that is much larger and typically busier. He learned from another dog at the park that digging a hole and laying in it when you are tired cools you down. Hopefully he keeps the digging and laying in holes at the dog park and doesn't bring it to our backyard.

Amos and Bruce didn't know what to think of the water on our first trip to the beach. A fellow dog owner was playing fetch with his dog, and Amos decided chasing him into the water was fun. Bruce started barking really angrily and ran back and forth on the beach for a few minutes before realizing that, he too, could go into the water. Once they figured it out we took a video of their first trip to the beach to show everybody how much they love the water. We have taken them now a couple times and they love it so much, don't try to go too far into the water, and they smell great afterwards. 

Agent Zero is currently staying with TJ's mom and sisters. We have been living in TLF for a month and they have a strict two-pet policy. We couldn't afford to board any of the pets AND pay for a hotel for the whole month, so we are extremely grateful that we have somebody who can take care of her for a while. I will need to order some food and litter for her soon. She seems to be getting along fine. The plan right now is to have one of us fly back in the summer and drive back with the cat and whoever is coming down to visit us at that time. 

Update on our move

We are currently scheduled to close on the house we are buying on Thursday, March 12th. Buying a house is a pretty overwhelming process, especially for first time home buyers, but we are REALLY excited. So far we love Florida, and we can't wait to make it "home." I'll make sure to post photos for everybody once we get moved in. I ordered our change of address cards today, and will be mailing them out over the next two weeks or so. I absolutely cannot WAIT to get out of this tiny hotel room and I also cannot wait to have all my kitchen gadgets. I have missed them. 

Here are the photos of the finished bags that were missing from my last blog: 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Winter 2014-2015

Sorry about the (very) long post, I've been hiding these photos until the recipients received their gifts. So instead of one project on this blog, it's a few :) Enjoy!

Now that I have given out the Christmas presents that I have made for family and friends, I can finally post photos of my most recent projects! I've been dying to share them. I've been learning a lot while visiting my mom, in regards to sewing. She helped out with all the projects. Here they are:

The first Christmas present that I made was for my mother-in-law. I decided a tote bag would be best for her, with her constantly moving papers and books to and from work. I built off a canvas tote back for sturdiness and got all of my fabric from my mom's extensive stash. This tote bag probably took the most amount of time to complete. I did it almost completely alone and it involved the most sewing. 
The tote bag that I started with.
I used this for the measurements and sewed
the final product onto it.
The wonderful stash of pre-cut scraps that
I discovered in my mom's sewing room.
Planning on the left -- sewing on the right :)

The finished tote!

The second gift was for my husband's little sister. I decided on a purse for her. My mom showed me how to make it, but most of it was a bit advanced for me. That combined with my mom's impatience and the fact she loves sewing this particular style meant she did most of the sewing. I did, however, pick out and cut the fabric :D 
Fabric and stack prep.
The purse pre-buttons.
I missed taking a photo of the final version!
I also made TJ's middle sister a tote bag. It was in the same style as the purse, sewn onto canvas with lots of pockets inside and out :) I somehow skipped over getting a photo of it. Or I just haven't found the photo on my phone. I'll have to figure out what happened there.....I may have taken the photo with my mom's phone. Oops!

For my brother-in-law and his girlfriend I did a 'joint' gift, and a first for me: pillows! I've made very basic bed pillowcases that I've posted in the past, but decided to make some living room pillows this time. These I sewed almost entirely without assistance. It was my first time messing with zippers (did a hidden zipper enclosure), so my mom helped out with that part. I chose a set of patterns that I found in this book:

They are 18 inch pillows, and I'm sure they are quite comfy and loved :) 

In addition to the sewn projects, I made my oldest sister a scrapbook -- I make digital scrapbook pages and then print them off and send them to her. I gave her a book, along with a scrapbook of her wedding and a few pages from vacations in the past. It has some extra pages to add to it in the future, so I can make new pages and have them sent straight to her. My middle sister received gifts from our travels :) Maybe they'll receive some sewn gifts for their birthdays. We shall see what I work up at that point!

Cat sweaters never go out of style.

My other project over the past couple months has been digitizing all of my parents' old photo albums. I took on a task much bigger than I expected. I have literally converted thousands of photos to digital. I may not even finish this weekend before we leave--there are three albums left. It has been quite the daunting task. I'm currently trying to choose a good online backup for the photos that I can also give access to my family members without making the photos publicly available. Having them all saved just on my external hard drive makes me extremely nervous about losing all of that work. So I'm currently trying to figure out the best 'cloud' photo service to do this with. That photo scanner really came in handy, now I have all of our family's old photos, such as this: 

In other news, TJ and I have been extremely busy. Talk about chaotic! I have been staying with my parents while he was doing some training for work. I visited him over Christmas and we had a mini vacation to New Orleans. That city is so beautiful. We, of course, visited the French Quarter, gambled, drank, walked around, shopped, and ate some amazing food. I tried alligator for the first time--and surprisingly liked it. I probably should have tried some while actually living in Louisiana. It tastes a lot like chicken but the texture is more moist.

We also took a trip to the Fort Walton Beach/Destin area in Florida. That's where we'll be heading next week to live. While we visited we went house shopping. Right now we are in the process of buying one of the houses we looked at on our visit. It is the third house we put an offer on, so hopefully third time is a charm! If for some reason it falls through, we are going to move into base housing and possibly house shop to purchase next year instead. I'll be away from my computer for a while as the move-in process has been a huge pain this move. The pending home purchase is not expected to close until mid-March. So, we've had to find a pet sitter for the cat and will be living out of a hotel for nearly a month. With two dogs. It'll be quite the adventure and start to our life in Florida!

The reason I did not send out Christmas cards is because of the pending move and our constantly changing living arrangements. I'll be sending out change of address cards or letters around April. So keep an eye out for one in the mail. Also, please check your Facebook messages, texts, or e-mails over the next month while I make sure my address book is up to date!

Here's a little tease of my current project. It is all cut and laid out.
Tomorrow it'll be sewn together, then I'll be hand-quilting it on our trip!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Kathi's Quilt - Just Finished

I took a hiatus from this quilt while working full / overtime at my previous job(s). Now that I am unemployed and up north where it is freezing, I have had more time to work on projects. I sat down over the past couple weeks and knocked this one out. It's amazing how much sewing you get done when you have no husband around, you cannot drive, and you have no job. It's the silver lining to the situation!

Well, here it is:

I'd say that it turned out absolutely lovely! I am very happy with it. No handmade project is perfect, and this is no exception. There are a few spots where say the machine stitching shows on the front, and my hand quilting stitches are definitely not perfectly spaced. I did get much better at that though, along with huge improvements on the binding. 

Here are details of the quilting. Above is a close up of some of the stitches on the front. The photo to the right shows how the pinwheels look on the back. The photo below shows that my hand-stitching on the binding is getting more even. I didn't take a photo, but my corners look much better on this quilt too (compared to the last). 

I'm especially happy with how the quilt wrinkled up all cozy in the wash. It also got rid of the cat hair...since the cat thought I was making the quilt for her.

All that's left is getting the quilt to Kathi! I will be starting on some Christmas presents for my sisters-in law and my mother-in-law tomorrow. I'll be working on something new, so I'll be taking advantage of my mom's help while I'm staying with her! They are each one or two day projects, so I should have them all done before I leave to visit TJ. After that, I'll be starting on Jessica's baby quilt. I have the pattern picked out along with all of the fabric. Hopefully I'll finish it significantly faster. Maybe even in time for the baby's first birthday.

I won't be posting any photos of Christmas presents until the recipients receive them, but I'll make sure to share them each on here after! For learning to sew less than two years ago, I'd say that I'm improving greatly. I'm excited to share the next few projects. Hopefully sometime this next year I'll figure out how to sew some clothes. That's my longterm goal. Sewing clothes is more complicated. I have made two attempts so far. The pajama pants turned out alright (a little short-like capris, but otherwise good). The shirt was a disaster. I'm going to wait until I have a cutting table and am settled in Florida before the next clothing attempt. I also have been doing some digital scrap-booking -- but those are also gifts that I can't share until after the holidays. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Gardening 2014

I decided to go ahead with gardening now that we've found out well be here for at least most of the year. We will be moving in either November or February. We need to get some things sorted out to figure out when we can move for sure. The one thing that is certain is that I am extremely excited to move to Fort Walton Beach, Florida! I've already been browsing houses just to figure out what options are out there. We will probably be buying our first house when we move. For a few reasons: on base housing will only give us a two bedroom. It will cost over $1000 a month for that two bedroom. If we buy a three bedroom off base that is $100,000, it will cost us less monthly even with utilities factored in. We will be there for at least four to six years, as well. The housing that we've been looking at off base in that area seems to range from about $89,000 to $115,000. It is really affordable! Unfortunately, that's because the housing market there was hurt badly in the housing crisis. The one major downside of buying a house there is dealing with the hurricane insurance and hurricane prepping. We've specifically been looking at houses that are already prepped for a hurricanes (special windows, wind breaks, etc.).

Anyways, back to gardening! I'm not going to be spending much on flowers this year. I'll mostly just be doing seeds. They are more affordable. Plus, the area where I can plant flowers is not very conducive to gardening success. Poor drainage, low lighting, all that fun stuff. I'm not willing to put the money in to fix those problems. I am attempting a container garden in the back, though! This is my first attempt, so we'll see where my successes and failures will be! The back of the house is the only area that gets a decent amount of sunlight, so that's where all the containers will be. My biggest worry is the deer from the forest our house backs to. Luckily, we have found a used fence that somebody is getting rid of. We need to wait for them to come out and mark all of our lines before we can install it, but we'll at least have a fence this year. That'll help keep the deer out (hopefully), and also will allow us to let the dogs outside without holding the leashes every time. We also plan on getting a little baby pool for them. The only downside is this means we'll have to mow our own lawn. Bummer! It was bound to happen one day.

Here is what I have so far: 
The Front Garden "Before"
The Front Garden "After" -
I have since also tilled the soil/raked in the old mulch and planted some seeds. 
My container garden in the back - all herbs and veggies that I've started from seeds.

I'll try to post more pictures as things start growing!