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December 6, 2017

how to make a security pillow (a.k.a. topponcino) for baby

How to make a security blanket (a.k.a. topponcino)
Before you get any wild thoughts - no, I don't have a baby. Nor am I expecting! Nor am I ever going to have kids, but that is an entirely different blog post. My brother and sister-in-law, however, just brought a beautiful baby boy into the world. He's amazing. He's cute, and has chubby lil' legs, and even though I haven't met him in person (yet!), I can tell the world is a little better of a place with him in it. I sewed this topponcino for him just a few weeks before he arrived, along with some washable covers. I'll be honest, though - I still don't totally have a grasp on what a topponcino is.
Topponcino pattern
Topponcino - it sounds like a drink you'd get at Starbucks, right? If anything, this might be the opposite of a latte. It's to make baby feel secure as they are passed from one adult to another. They're supposed to sleep in it always, so that is smells of them, thus creating a safe space. And there's definitely no caffeine. The topponcino is used in the Montessori Method of child-rearing (which is basically a no-frills/more adventures method of raising kids). You can buy them off of Etsy, but they're so easy to make at home. I did some research before I started this project (here and here), and here's the method I took:

November 24, 2017

diy felt xmas banner | make the yuletide very, very gay

DIY This: Make the Yuletide Gay Felt Banner
I have been, to some capacity, ready for Christmas since November 1st. On an entirely different level, I suppose I am always ready for Christmas. Anyways, this will be my first year working the entire holiday season at Curbly, and with needing to stay ahead on content, it's been all-Christmas-all-the-time for more than a month now. At home, the transition is slower. Not too slow, though. I made this felt banner a little while ago, and have really excited to hang it. Keep reading to make your own!
Materials needed to make this felt banner
To make this banner, you'll need:
  • Felt in various colors
  • "Make the Yuletide Gay" printable template (page 1; page 2)
  • A pencil and pen
  • Fabric glue or hot glue (truth be told, I was too impatient for fabric glue and ended up hot glueing everything)
  • Scissors
  • A dowel or long stick
  • Baker's twine

Queer Christmas Felt Banner | Step 1
Print out the template (page one here, page two here), and cut out each letter and shape. With the letters facing right-side down, trace their shape on the felt. For lighter-colored felt, use a pencil. For darker felt, use a pen. Cut out each letter.
Queer Christmas Felt Banner | Step 2
Align the lettering on a large piece of felt. Glue each letter and shape in place. 
Queer Christmas Felt Banner | Step 3
On the back of the banner, fold the top down over the dowel, and glue down. Tie a piece of baker's twine to each edge of the dowel. Hang, and get merry.
Make the Yuletide extra gay by making this DIY banner
Details from this queer craft
Queers + crafts + Christmas = This
I'm pretty happy with how this banner turned out. If you've been around for a while, you know I appreciate a good play on words (seen here and here). Who doesn't? Happy holidays, gang.


November 22, 2017

a little thanksgiving dinner for two

A little Thanksgiving dinner for two
Happy Thanksgiving, all! This may be the most prepared I've ever been for a Thanksgiving dinner. Arguably over prepared, if you ask the slowly softening beets in the bottom drawer of my fridge. My fiancée and I figured out our menu over two weeks ago, we finished up most of the shopping that following weekend, and I spent some time this weekend in the kitchen! Honestly, I might be a little bit bored tomorrow since there is so little cooking to do. I'm thinking I'll use my free time to hunt down a streaming of the National Dog Show online. 
We're munching on some new recipes, and some old classics. Here's what we're cooking:
  • Butternut squash soup from Moosewood | I haven't made this recipe before, but Moosewood is always a win in my vegetarian household
  • Potatoes gratin | This is my favorite scalloped potato recipe, and not just because it's stupid easy
  • Roasted beets from A Clean Bake | Fun fact: I've never roasted beets before. I've never cooked them at all! Which is a shame, because I have always loved a good beet. It's what I'm most excited about cooking tomorrow.
  • Vegetarian roast | No major cooking here, we're just popping a Field Roast in the oven with some cut root vegetables. Btw, if you are a vegetarian who's been burned by the blandness of Tofurkey, Field Roast makes a proper roast you can actually get excited about.
  • Pumpkin cheesecake | This will be at my table every year forever and ever and I'm SO PUMPED about eating way too much of it tomorrow.

Chopped veggies for a vegetarian feast
Prepping squash for butternut soup
Roasted butternut squash
Don't forget to take some time tomorrow to think of a few things you're grateful for. I'm most thankful for flannel sheets, hot coffee, animals that appreciate cuddling, our health, creative outlets, and a partner who is patient with me. Happy Thanksgiving!


P.S. You still have time to stitch a few "Get Stuffed" napkins before tomorrow!

November 19, 2017

simple dog jacket | take two

Stylish dog jacket tutorial
Winter kind of bullied itself into our lives this year. After a thick and quick dumping of snow the weekend after Halloween, all the beautiful autumn leaves withered and browned, leaving the city bare and wintry. We packed up what little summer clothing we had out, and replaced the space in our drawers with knits, parkas, hats, and gloves. As I was pulling out the fleece coat that belongs to Doria (our dog), I got to thinking about how handy it would be to have more than one coat for her to wear. Two years ago I made her a simple coat from fleece fabric, and it's been awesome. It's easy to put on, it keeps her snug, and she looks super cute in it. When it rains, though, or is muddy out, there's no back-up coat for her to sport while the first one gets laundered. I spotted this double-layer poly material at the fabric store, and duplicated her first coat (with a couple minor adjustments!).
How to make a simple dog coat
Last time I made her a coat, I used fleece. This time, I'm using a polyester quilted fabric, which comes double-sided. I got mine at Jo-Ann Fabrics. It doesn't look like the kind I purchased is available online, but it was in the apparel section of the fabric department. Here's a comparable one from Jo-Ann's, and another option from Amazon. Basically, the fabric is double-sided, so I didn't double up on the fabric like I did with the first coat. 
Doria looking stylish in her DIY dog jacket

Modifications: The biggest different with this coat versus the last is that I eliminated the neck cuff by simply cutting the body of the jacket in a "T" shape (you can check that out below). After that, all I had to do was attach the belly straps, hem all sides (with double-sided fabric, this meant turning the edges in and sewing in place), and sew the neck cuff together. Note: While I cut the neck cuff at a right angle, I ended up sewing them together in more of a "V" formation so it would fit snugly against the dog's chest.
I also used sticky-backed Velcro this time, too. Pro tip: Turns out it's way easier to sew across adhesive Velcro than to try to pin and sew the non-adhesive type. I'm very excited to have found this out.
How to make a dog coat
I want to show you how well the jacket fits, but Doria was unwilling to pose while standing. So here's an unflattering angle I captured while she wasn't paying attention.
DIY dog coat from the side
Looking back at the pictures from the first tutorial, it blows my mind how many gray hairs have sprouted on her over the past two years. She's eleven years old, and has fully embraced her senior-status. After we went on this photoshoot walk, she promptly curled up on the couch for a winter's nap.
Letting this sleeping dog lie

P.S. Not a dog person? Learn how to make a stylish cat bed instead.

This post contains affiliate links.

November 2, 2017

the dress | chapter 4.5 (these boots were made for weddin')

Six boots for the winter bride
Okay, folks. My DIY wedding dress is almost done, save for picking the length and hemming the bottom. Before I literally cut the bottom of my dress off (I'd be nervous about doing so, but there isn't really time), I need to know what shoes I'm wearing. 

What sort of shoes does one wear to a winter wedding?

I immediately gravitate towards boots, because of three factors:
1. It'll be wintertime, and I don't want to get pneumonia
2. I'm looking for a shoe with little to no heel so I'm not towering over my fiancée
3. I'm a casual kind of woman, and boots are comfortable

Other than setting my sights on some cute lil' booties, that's all the decision making I've done. Color, style, material, laces v no laces... that's all still up for discussion. So I'm putting it out there in the internet universe, hoping I'll get something back. Here are some ankle-lengths I'm currently eyeing:


- m.e.

Affiliate links are used in this post!

October 8, 2017

why i'm thankful we did an engagement shoot

Engagement shoot at sunrise - Photography by Jessica Holleque
Well, hello!
It's been a minute since I've visited this corner of the internet. I miss being able to write via this outlet as often as I used to, and it feels comforting to be back. What initially spurred this post was getting engagement pictures done with my fiancée, Heather. There ended up being so many photos that I loved, and I didn't want to bombard social media with a bunch of gushy pictures. Then I remembered, "Oh yeah! I have a blog! No one can stop me from being cheesy there." So here I am.

So why am I glad the engagement shoot happened? Before I get into that, let me clarify that I am pro-engagement shoot when the photographer is also going to shoot your wedding. Such is the case with our amazing photographer, Jessica Holleque (if you're in the Minnesota area, you can look & book at her website here, and SHE IS AWESOME). We didn't know Jessica personally before we asked her to shoot our wedding. She is one smart lady, and always asks to do an engagement shoot before the big day. Clever reasoning to follow.

I was hesitant at first - after all, my fiancée is a photographer and we could just get the camera on a tripod and do the photos ourselves. BZZZZZT (that's the sound of a buzzer, btw)! This was foolish thinking on my part. Having someone do couples photos for you and your boo allows the two of you to get wrapped up in the moment. It allows you both to think less about posing and more about enjoying each other. And that definitely shows in the photos.

Aside from being more present, doing this shoot with Jessica was the perfect way for us to get comfortable around her (and her camera) before our actual wedding day. We chatted with her during and between pictures, learned how she worked and what she needed out of us, and she got to discover first hand how generally awkward my fiancée and I are. All things that I probably couldn't emotionally handle on our big day. 

And finally, who doesn't want a bunch of romantic AF photos of you and your other half? It'll be nice to have some professional photos of us that don't involve wedding dresses, flowers, and tears.

For this shoot, Heather, Jessica, and I visited one of our favorite Minnesota lakes, walked through tall grasses as the sun rose, and cooked a bit of breakfast outdoors. It was perfect.
Sunrise at Cedar Lake, MPLS - Photography by Jessica Holleque
Sunrise photoshoot - Photography by Jessica Holleque
Cuddling in the grasses - Photography by Jessica Holleque
God, she is adorable - Photography by Jessica Holleque
You are my sunshine - Photography by Jessica Holleque
Engagement photo shoot - Photography by Jessica Holleque
Cedar Lake, Minneapolis - Photography by Jessica Holleque
Me and my better half - Photography by Jessica Holleque
She keeps me smiling - Photography by Jessica Holleque
Picnic breakfast - Photography by Jessica Holleque
Breakfast in the park - Photography by Jessica Holleque
Grilled breakfast - Photography by Jessica Holleque
Eggs and potatoes on the grill - Photography by Jessica Holleque
Breakfast in the woods - Photography by Jessica Holleque
Looking through these photos makes me re-remember how lucky I am

All of these photos were taken by the wonderful Jessica Holleque, and you can see the rest of her work by visiting her website.
- m.e.

P.S. Snapshots from the magical weekend she said "yes."

August 26, 2017

how to pot succulents

How to properly pot succulents
Windowsill buddies. How to plant and care for succulents.
Whichever color is between brown and green (green-brown?), that is the color of my thumbs. I still have lots to learn about the plants I've brought into my home, but I've mastered some. Most of the tropical-type plants in my house are suffering my ignorance the hardest. I just love them so much and want to water them all the time! This, as it turns out, is the opposite of love. Of all the indoor greenery, I have the firmest grasp on succulents, and feel confident that I can share how to properly care for and pot succulents.
If you're a long-time reader, you know I figured out how to propagate succulents a while back. Since discovering this trick, I have propagated the same plant 2-3 times. I've also ended up with a few random succulents, plus my fiancée Heather's aloe plant that made the trek with us from Florida to Minneapolis. Essentially, there were a lot of random pots with random plants hanging in all the windows. I recently gathered them all up in a simple window box, and here's how I set them up in their new home.
What you need to properly pot succulents

You'll need: 

Step 1: Fill with rocks
When choosing a planter to pot succulents in, pick a low container, preferably with draining holes. Succulents hate sitting in water, so it's important that moisture can move through the soil and away from the roots of the plants. In the bottom of your planter, lay down a layer of pebbles. This will aid in proper drainage. 
Step 2: Fill with quick-draining soil
Next, fill the planter 3/4 of the way full with potting soil. I like using the quick-draining variety for added protection against root rot. 
Take your plants and shake any loose dirt from the roots. Arrange them inside the planter. Don't squish them down into the dirt, just lightly set them in place. You don't want to cause the dirt to be compacted, nor do you want to tussle the roots too much. 
Step 3: Fill with a variety of succulents
Fill in any empty space in the container with more potting soil. I added a handful of river rocks on the topsoil too, just because I thought they looked cute.
Grab the spray bottle full of filtered water, and mist your plants. I recommend using filtered water only, and here's why: tap water is full of fluoride, which is great for humans (it protects our teeth and makes them stronger), but bad for plants. I have made the switch to watering my plants entirely with filtered water, and the difference has been significant. Fluoride is harsh on plants, and if you've noticed the edges of your plants leaves turning yellow or brown, I would recommend making the switch*. I also recommend using a spray bottle, as it cuts down on the tendency to just completely soak plants. 
*When using filtered water, make sure the water is room-temperature before you spray your plants. Don't shock them with cold, Brita water from the fridge!
Happy plant gang.
How to fill a windowsill box with succulents
Succulents love bright light, so a windowsill it the optimal place for them. Make sure to water them frequently - I like to mist them 2-3 times per week, less in the winter. 
How to fill a windowsill box with succulents
My plant-loving home.
I keep finding ways to bring plants into the kitchen, and I think that's because it's my least favorite room in the apartment. These succulents are definitely cheering it up, though.


P.S. If you have a busy houseplant schedule to keep track of, use this free printable to-do template.

August 9, 2017

the dress | chapter four (a.k.a. decision-making time)

DIY Wedding Dress, Chapter 4
In all honesty, I have not been a diligent bride-to-be. I've been procrastinating with the work I need to do on my handmade wedding dress. I'm at this crucial stage where all the steps remaining are definitive and seemingly irreversible, and it's daunting. The due date is coming up fast, so in spite of my insecurities and fears, I need to bite the bullet. The last thing I want is to be sewing buttons the day before my wedding. Hence the quote on my letter board. 

Here's what I have left to do. I need to:
  • Put in a zipper (definitively determining waist size!!)
  • Cut the skirt to the proper length and hem
  • Add detailing and buttons

DIY wedding dress to-do list
Even though I'm terrified of making these final moves on my dress, it's simultaneously exciting. I temporarily pinned the zipper in place (which, after I did, made me realize my zipper is way too long), and put the dress on. Oh baby, this thing is awesome. It's like a real dress! And I'm still in love with the pockets. It feels pretty damn good to be this far along. 
Details on my handmade wedding dress
As far as tackling my to-do list, I'm feeling more positively about some things versus others. The zipper I feel pretty good about, I just need to pull the trigger and stitch it in. 

The details are what I'm most excited for. I'm absolutely swooning over the sheer top I picked for this gown, but after hemming it, I'm realizing I need some sort of trim around the neckline and the arm holes. Nothing crazy, just something to hide the hemline. I also need a small, rounded button for the neck hole, plus an additional button for the top of the zipper. A shopping list is forming in my head...
Details on my handmade wedding dress
Details on my handmade wedding dress
Regarding the length of the gown, I'm totally stumped. How do you determine how long to make a dress when you haven't even decided what shoes you'll be wearing?? I'm getting married in the middle of the winter, which means some of the time I'll be wearing flats (for the sake of my fiancée who is shorter than me and feels a little self-conscious about it), but other times I'll probably be wearing boots in the snow! I still have some research to do, but any input would be seriously appreciated. Do I buy the shoes now? Do I make the length reversible in case something changes? Help!

Aside from finishing the gown, I still need to gather accessories, like shoes, earrings, and some sort of wrap (because, winter wedding =  brr). I also need to figure out what in the world I'm doing with my hair, and whether or not I can pull off lipstick. Stay tuned!


P.S. There's a mini-chapter of the dressmaking adventure ahead, plus see the previous chapter in this DIY wedding dress series where I share the wonder of pockets. 
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