Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DIY Baby Blankets

Another addition to my pre-baby Leah-centric list was the inclusion of these patriotic place mats I, admittedly, started about two years ago. My plan was to make them in time for June because they’d be appropriate all through the summer. Well as I am a novice sewer, it took me longer than expected and I didn’t finish them in time, then the following year I was busy doing wedding related DIY projects, including sewing all the table runners for the wedding. Cut to now when I decided I wanted to make a baby blanket and I realized it’s now or never for these place mats. So before I hopped into baby-mode I decided to finish the place mats once and for all. I followed an idea in a beginner’s quilting book but adapted it for red, white, and blue. I bought two types of star-spangled fabric, cut strips of them, sewed them in an alternating fashion, then added batting and bound them with a dark blue fabric. To finish them off, I cut out stars in the leftover solid blue and used bonding adhesion to adhere them to the front of the place mat. They are definitely a beginner’s work but hey I finished them.
Better late than never!
And they were good practice for the baby blanket because I want to do a similar method. First off I looked online to determine an average size of a baby blanket, based on what I saw I went with around 30x40 inches which works well with fabric by the yard. I bought two somewhat coordinating animal fabrics, instead of cutting strips I cut blocks, with the plan of sewing them together, four blocks across in an alternating patter and then use a green and white pinstripe to back it and bind it. I ended up cutting the blocks to around 9.5x10.5, and then before I sewed them together I made sure the blocks were similar enough in size. I’m not really advanced enough to strive for perfection with either the accuracy of my cutting skills or the accuracy of my sewing skills. 

Once I cut the two different animal prints I realized I wanted to go back to the fabric store and select two more fabrics, this time a stripe, polka dot, or geometric and use one of each of these new fabrics with one of each of the animal fabrics and make two separate blankets. I have enough of the green stripe backing to make two and I figure you can never have too many baby blankets. 
I planned to use the chevron for the multi-animal print and the geometric pattern for the elephant print.  Turns out cutting and sewing blocks together is a heck of a lot easier than sewing strips together, plus my skill level has slightly improved. Now I am in no way claiming that the first blanket came out perfect, I definitely made some mistakes but overall I’m really happy with it.
I’m hoping to quickly tackle the second one since the pattern is already set and most of the fabric is cut out.  After I finish that one I am going to figure out the type of blanket to make with the adorable woodland animal print (below).  Chris had the great idea of making the crib bumpers with it but my registry research pointed out that other than breathable mesh bumpers, the AAP doesn't recommend them. But I figure I'll do another blanket maybe with a trim or a fun hem.
I'm in love with this fabric, it's so stinkin' cute.

Binky Linky

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Helping Hubby help me

          A few years ago when Chris moved in with me to my place back when we were dating, I vowed to not fall into gender roles in our home. Fast forward to now and gender roles are the way of the house. Chris does a lot of home improvement projects, so I let him off the hook with most of the day-to-day cleaning, cooking, and shopping (food and toiletries).  He does vacuum, dust, and take out the trash and recycling, as well as cook breakfast for us on the weekends. Plus we each do our own laundry. But largely the cooking, cleaning, and shopping are my responsibilities (and honestly I don’t mind doing them). However, now that we are heading into my third trimester responsibilities are going to shift to him and being the control freak that I am, I still want things done my way. For grocery shopping the shift has already started, for the past few months he comes with me most of the time to help carry the items in. And the past month he’s also been popping in to the store after work to pick up what we need for the week. And no fail, every time he is ‘that husband’ who calls his wife from the store to either ask what aisle something is in or the specifics on an item on the list.
         I decided a while back that I would construct a master grocery list that includes the brands, flavors, and items we most commonly buy as well as organizing it (as best I can from memory) by the general layout of the grocery store (we shop exclusively at Market Basket but week to week we may hit a different location, so the layout of each one differs slightly). I’m picky, I’ll admit it. We buy the generic/store-brand of most items but there are a few that I’ve tried and just don’t like so it’s important for me to have a list of what is what. Also I think the list will help me as well- I plan on printing out two copies and leaving on in each of our cars to refer to- because I know I’m soon to have a lot more on my mind and I want to be able to remember his favorite brands/flavors of things when he asks for them when it's my turn to shop. This way we’ll still put together a hand-written list each week but we both will have this master list to refer to when needed.

                In terms of cleaning, I was actually thinking about making this master list even before I got pregnant just to give Chris an idea of what is done around here, often times when he is not home. Just so he can appreciate what is being done every week in addition to the home-cooking he gets. Now that I’m pregnant I thought it was a good time to finally put it together, so when I am tired during the last trimester and then sleep-deprived and cranky during the first few months, he can refer to the list and help out without asking what needs to be done. Or without me asking him to take care of a particular chore. I am particular about how things are cleaned (I’m particular about a lot of things) so I tried to be clear on the list. I also think this list will help me because everything is broken down into 5-10 minute tasks, expect the kitchen floor although it’s a galley kitchen the three step process takes a while but it’s the only way to not have water marks on the pergo floor,  so I can tackle things here and there as the week goes since I know finding bigger chunks of time to do a thorough clean will probably not happen as often in the near future.
Overall I am hoping these two lists will help us as we become first-time parents. I hope with a little planning, we can get organized on the shopping, cleaning, and cooking front. I have some plans for cooking that I have found on other blogs that I want to incorporate into our food plan, which I’ll discuss in another post. I also want to get organized about bill paying, as you can probably guess I am a fan of spreadsheets and I already have one that has our monthly bills on it. I’d like to make a cheat-sheet with when bills are due and which of us pays what and print it out as to not forget. Ultimately I know no amount of organization will prevent the chaos that is taking care of a newborn but a little planning now should help us out a little.
Binky Linky