Sewing: Juniper’s Lawn Gnome Outfit

I’ve been dying to make a cute little outfit for Miss Juniper. I’ve had this French terry material for some time and I’ve wanted to make a few cute outfits for my girls. Harem pants included.

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On Saturday I had a few minutes to kill, so I drafted up a raglan hoodie and a pair of harem pants. The pleated front of the pants and the pointy hood kill me. She looks like an angry little lawn gnome. Adorable.

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Seriously, this girl has my heart. I can’t get enough of her. I want to make more cute little snuggle outfits for her!

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Unfortunately when I asked Penelope if she wanted something similar, she said no. She’s getting her own opinions on her clothes, it’s kind of a bummer. I’d love for them to be twinners! Oh well. We’ll see if I can convince her to agree with something similar. Fingers crossed!

Food: Chocolate Brigadeiro Cake

As a belated birthday celebration for Chris, I made him a chocolate cake. But not just any chocolate cake. It’s filled with brigadeiro and raspberry preserves. It’s heaven on a dish. In fact, I barely managed to get a picture of the cake. I was planning on taking pictures of a slice of cake so you can see the interior, but Chris kind of massacred it this morning.

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We thoroughly enjoyed the cake.

I was pretty proud of my rustic frosting job. It’s not perfect, but darnitall it looked quite tasty! Recipe below:

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Fudge Chocolate and Brigadeiro Cake

Makes 1 chocolate cake | Prep time: 30 minutes to an hour | Cook time: 27 minutes

 

Cake

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (dutch process is ideal)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease 2 8-inch cake pans and cut out 8 inch parchment circles and place inside the cake pans. Combine all ingredients. Pour into cake pans and bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool. Remove from the pans, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer to cool completely.

Brigadeiro

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Heat the saucepan with medium-high heat. Melt butter, add cocoa powder and whisk until incorporated. Add milk and stir for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cocoa powder (dutch process is ideal)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar

Whip butter until soft and smooth. Add cocoa powder, vanilla and milk. Blend until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar until desired consistency.

To assemble the cake: Slice cake in half with a bread knife. Separate two layers and spoon half the brigadeiro and spread evenly. Place one 8 inch cake on a cake plate. Spoon raspberry preserves on top of the first layer (I prefer Bonne Maman or homemade jam). Slice the second layer in half. Place bottom half of second cake on top of the first. Spread brigadeiro and place second half of the second cake on top. Place in the refridgerater to rest (10-15 minutes max). Spread an initial thin layer of icing onto the cake. Crumbs may fall into this layer. Place in the fridge a second time, then create a final frosting layer. Garnish with sprinkles.

Random Calligraphy Thoughts

It wasn’t until September 2009 that I discovered calligraphy was part of my personal history. I’ve always loved letters; finding out that my great-great grandfather was a sign painter in Ogden, Utah made me love them more. It was like I was destined to love calligraphy. I can’t describe how perfectly timed that gift was. It was like God was telling me that calligraphy was what I was meant to do. It gave me more direction in my life.

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Since getting more involved in calligraphy, I’ve felt even more validated that I’m supposed to be here. Over the summer I attended a calligraphy conference. Spending a week with some of the world’s most amazing calligraphers was incredible and eye-opening.

In art school, I felt like I was somewhat of an outcast because I was in the strange gap between commercial and fine art. My professors nearly failed my BFA final show because it was “too commercial”. It bothered me that they couldn’t see that commercial art can be fine art.

I feel like calligraphy strikes that harmonious balance. The people in the calligraphy community get it, too. There’s a shared love for modern and traditional, commercial and fine art, formal and casual. I love that.

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Here’s a little birthday card I made for my cousin. It’s no fine art piece, but it required the creative process in order to complete. And isn’t that what creating art is about at the end of the day?

What art will you be creating?

Sponsored: Leather Folio Tutorial

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This tutorial is sponsored by Jo Totes. They have a wide selection of fashionable camera bags in both genuine and vegan leather. My favorite of all is the Siena bag - an italian leather bag that ages beautifully. I use it as my every day bag. It fits all of the essentials! The structured body allows me to easily find all of my purse’s contents quickly.

Stay up to date with Jo Totes on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

My purse essentials (beyond baby stuff): my instax camera, a notebook, pen, chapstick and gum.

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For a while I had my notebook just floating around my purse naked. The problem with this was that the top page would frequently break off, wrinkle and just get disgusting. To remedy the problem, I hand-bound a folio where I can just insert the notebook I’m using and protect it from the contents of my purse. I’m constantly ripping out pages and tossing them, so it’s nice to have something reusable instead of having to bind a new journal every time I run through my pages.

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The original version I bound was a traditional 3/4 rounded back bind with cutouts and pockets. I thought about sharing how to make this, but as I broke down each step, I realized that I had very specific bookbinding tools and the steps would take 5+ hours to photograph and explain. I ditched that idea for a simpler sewn version. It’s not as rigid, but it’s still quite sturdy and can be completed in well under an hour. You could opt out of real leather and use an industrial felt instead. I’m not sure I would recommend a vegan leather as it doesn’t tend to wear well over time.

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This would be a great gift for a guy or gal. Christmas gift perhaps? It’s just over 2 months away, so time to start planning! I’ve already taken care of a couple of Christmas gifts already. I feel way more on top of things this year. Don’t worry though, I have plenty of time to procrastinate and get behind on my gift-giving.

So would you like to make one with me? It’ll take you about 20-30 minutes. If you’re making a bunch all at once (which I would totally recommend!) it’d take less than that for each one.

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Supplies:

  • ruler
  • rotary cutter (and mat)
  • bulldog clips
  • thread
  • leather needle (or topstitch needle)
  • elastic
  • button
  • hand-sewing needle
  • x-acto knife
  • pen
  • bonefolder
  • leather
  • sturdy canvas or a fabric wallpaper*
  • notebook**

* I used fabric wallpaper for this. I scored some years ago from design centers in SF. Just ask an interior design company if they have any wallpaper samples that are being discontinued that you can have. Alternatively you can fuse any kind of fabric to Ultra Hold Heat ‘n Bond with regular copy paper.

** My favorite paper is the Rhodia pad or Clairefontaine Triomphe paper. They come in plain, grid, dot grid and lined.

Read more for the full tutorial.

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Welcoming: Juniper Inês!

It’s been quite silent around  here, and with good reason. I’ve been snorting the newborn smell like a crack addict. Miss Juniper Inês finally made her way here last Tuesday at a whopping 9 pounds 9 ounces. My biggest monster yet. We were all surprised at her girth and the speed with which she arrived.

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Tuesday morning I started feeling quite achey. Felix woke up two hours before his usual and came upstairs to cuddle me. It was like he knew I was in pain and needed someone to hold. Not minutes after he climbed into bed with us, my water broke. It was 4:30 am. There was an audible pop. I sprang to action, saving the sheets. Chris was more than pleased. I was pretty proud I was able to get out of bed that fast at 40 weeks pregnant. No small miracle there.

I had a feeling I didn’t have much time. Yet I still took a shower. I needed a shower.

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Chris got the kids dressed and fed. I grabbed the last-minute items like our bluetooth speaker and iPad. We dropped the kids off at the neighbors and drove off to the hospital at about 5:30. Driving to the hospital seemed like an eternity. The contractions were about a minute apart at this point. They were hurting at this point. I was in pain, but I knew every contraction was my body doing what it was born to and one step closer to meeting my little girl. To be honest, I was getting excited.

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I decided before I got pregnant that I would deliver Juniper naturally in a hospital. I’ll admit I didn’t do much of any reading or practicing on the subject. I mostly talked to friends about their experiences and listened to what worked for them and I came up with a plan that worked for me. More than anything, the mental preparation got me excited to labor rather than dread it. Each contraction was a painful celebration.  Strange, I know.

We arrived at the hospital and were admitted just before 6am. I was in pain and I wanted to get the show on the road. The nurses had no idea how far into labor I was. One insisted to make sure that my water had in fact broken. I’m thinking, “DUH. I’m in pain and this isn’t my first rodeo, can we get a move on?!?” She checked. To her surprise I was dilated just past an 8. She literally ran out of the room and didn’t stop running after that. They rushed to action. Nurses asked me if I was okay with the attending doc delivering the baby. I was fine with it, but deep down inside I wanted my midwife to be there. Just before I started pushing, there she came. She was ready. I was ready. So was June.

June clawed her way into the world about 4 minutes after my midwife showed up, 36 minutes after I was admitted into the hospital. In June’s haste she snagged on my femoral artery and I started bleeding out. Chris could see what was going on, but everyone kept their cool and eventually a suture kit was located and the bleeding was under control.

I’m glad I had planned on having her naturally. By the time I got to the hospital, there wouldn’t have been enough time to get an epidural and I would have been clueless and likely afraid of doing it all on my own. Instead I was under control and afterward I had the most amazing high. I was on top of the world, my body had done something so hard and I survived!

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I had a hard time visualizing myself using hypnobirthing CDs; so before I delivered, I compiled a playlist of my favorite dance-y songs. If I were to visualize myself doing anything, I wanted to visualize dancing and rocking out through the pain. The nurses and midwives got a kick out of it. The midwife told me something along the lines that it was one of the happiest, upbeat deliveries she’s experienced. And it was a happy experience! If you’re on Spotify, you can listen to the playlist right here.

Chris was the best cheerleader I could have asked for. The fact that the entire labor was under 2 hours probably made the experience that much better, but I’m so glad I went natural with this one. Throughout this week I’ve kept thinking how our bodies are such amazing things. We can do some seriously hard stuff.

Juniper is an amazing little babe so far. She’s eating and sleeping like a champ and she’s already given us huge smiles. She looks just like a darker-haired version of Penelope. It’ll be so fun to see how they’re similar and different in the coming years.

I can’t believe I’m already a mother of 3. I still feel like college graduation was just weeks ago. It’s unreal. I’m so grateful to have these kiddos in my family!

From a work standpoint, her timing couldn’t have been better. I hired a calligrapher to help me manage the coaching aspect of I Still Love Calligraphy. Erika has been instrumental to my mental health these last few months. She’s taken on enough of the workload that I’ve been able to create new content for the course while still staying involved in the teaching process.

Each Monday and Friday we sit at the computer and attack the uploads from students. She’ll go through the work and leave feedback. I’ll review Erika’s feedback and leave additional comments if any are needed. Instead of sitting at the computer for 12-14 hours on these days like I was previously, I’m spending around 4-5 hours at the computer these days. But last week, Erika was out of town on a much-deserved vacation with her husband. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up if I were to have Juniper. The little Miss was so thoughtful and arrived on Tuesday, leaving me plenty of time to rest before Friday’s workload came along.

Maintaining work hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. Chris is at home helping me with business and family, so making sure I get sleep before these big days isn’t so much of an issue. Juniper has been a very well-behaved baby, so I can just snuggle with her if she’s fussy and finish my work just fine. It’s been a huge blessing to be able to work while growing this family of ours. Taking time off would have been a necessity if I didn’t work from home and at a desk. It’s been nice to take it easy while still be productive. That newborn phase can be so joyous, but frustrating when you have the energy to get a million things done but can’t because you’re ‘stuck’ feeding a baby.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a fabulous thing to be ‘stuck’ doing. But it’s nice to feel productive while giving her the attention that she needs.

 

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