Sponsored: Penelope’s Summer Style

svens-clogs-logo

This post is sponsored by Sven Clogs. Original hand-crafted clogs since 1974. Clogs made-to-order with premium styles and materials for Man, woman and child.

Connect with Svens Clogs on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram!

As evidenced by Penelope’s porcelain skin, she hasn’t been out as much this summer as she was last. I can’t believe it’s finally drawing to a close! Now I’m craving sewing time so I can make a couple of special clothes for the school year.

I don’t often make clothes for the kids because they grow out of them or destroy them so quickly, but this was a fun little number to whip up from extra fabric I had lying around after I made a dress (coming soon!). So yes! We’re totally matching. I have a few mother-daughter looks queued up.

melissaesplin-penelope-striped-romper-1

melissaesplin-penelope-striped-romper-3

I didn’t use a pattern, I grabbed some shorts and a shirt and started cutting. Next time I make her a romper, I have a few ideas to make it a little more balanced between top/bottom (the bottoms came out tighter and the top looser than expected).

In fact, I ended up cutting the bottoms too small entirely. I got clever and grabbed some white fabric with tiny red anchors on them and made stripes to add width to the bottoms. Hindsight, I should have added more. But she owns them.

 

melissaesplin-penelope-striped-romper-2

Here’s what I did:

  • I traced a pair of shorts and sewed them up. Seeing that they were snug, I added the racing stripe by cutting down the sides and adding the strip.
  • I topstitched the strip to make it look more finished.
  • Next, I found a loose fitting shirt and cut out a pentagram shape. Leaving the top part a little longer so I could make a loop.
  • I cut the back taller than the front.
  • To assemble the top and bottom, I sewed up each of them separately, attached elastic to the shorts, then put right sides together and added the top (two rows of stitching at the waistline).
  • I hemmed the shorts, the arms and the neckline. I cut a tube of extra fabric and threaded it around the loops at the top and tied it in a bow.
  • Fini!

Penelope knows how to tie bows, so getting in and out of the romper isn’t a big deal for her. It would be a little more complicated for a younger child.

melissaesplin-penelope-striped-romper-4

melissaesplin-penelope-striped-romper-5

Sometimes I wonder how she got so old and grown up, then I get her a My Little Pony and I realize she’s still in the throws of her childhood. I sigh in relief.

She’ll be starting second grade any day now. Am I the only one that loves back-to-school season? I love getting supplies, I love the new clothes, organizing everything and a fresh start with new teachers, new classmates and new things to learn.

Outfit details: 

melissaesplin-penelope-striped-romper-6

Design: Emily and Taylor Wedding

My sister got remarried! I’m so excited for her. As a gift to them, I designed their wedding invitations. She was the easiest to please bride I’ve ever worked with. All she wanted was something casual, but nice. I decided to go with some brush work with the design.

melissaesplin-emily-and-taylor-wedding-watercolor-invitation-calligraphy-1

I used a more formal brush hand, but kept it in the casual zone by varying the letter sizing just a touch and pairing it with a simple sans serif. My favorite sans serif at the moment: Museo Sans 300. I swear I use this for everything. It’s like the denim jeans of fonts for me. It’s more round than Helvetica Neue, so a tad more casual, but so classic.

I created and scanned in a teal watercolor wash. I used Daniel Smith Cobalt Teal Blue and Daniel Smith Phalo Turquoise for the gorgeous colored washes. They’re incredible watercolors!

melissaesplin-emily-and-taylor-wedding-watercolor-invitation-calligraphy-2

Em wanted them really simple, but I felt like they were too plain as-is. Since she was only doing a few dozen, I bought some white vellum and cut out overlays with a heart goign around their names. It’s really hard to photograph, but if you look closely you can see.

I didn’t cut them by hand. I used the design as a reference to create the heart-shaped overlay in Illustrator then I cut using my Silhouette.

melissaesplin-emily-and-taylor-wedding-watercolor-invitation-calligraphy-3

melissaesplin-emily-and-taylor-wedding-watercolor-invitation-calligraphy-4

I bought teal envelopes to coordinate with the watercolor washes and addressed the envelopes in a more formal brush for the names and a casual print for the addresses.

saltybooth-tay-and-em

Pic c/o SaltyBooth

I love how this mini wedding suite turned out, but most of all I’m glad to see my sister found a great guy.

 

Demystifying Baby Food

Back when Penelope was a fish in my belly I was gifted 100 Baby Puree book at a baby shower. It intrigued me. My mom always made our baby food. She was the original natural mama raising us on natural, homegrown foods. It wasn’t a trend or health thing. It boiled down to plain old economics. Continuing my mom’s legacy of showing love through good food, I decided that I would make my baby food, too. When I had Penelope I needed to be as economically responsible as possible so we could survive in the Bay Area! Now I love to make baby food because it’s easy and delicious (I’m constantly catching Felix sneaking bites of June’s food!).

melissaesplin-demystifying-baby-food-5

Side note: store bought baby food is great. It’s convenient and it simplifies motherhood. Why be a stressed out mama?! There’s no wrong way to feed a baby (bottle or breast, store-bought or home made) besides not feeding a baby. If you feel otherwise, you’re welcome to meet my inner mama bear. Judgemental parents are not tolerated in my neck of the woods, in-person or online. But if you’ve been intimidated by making your own baby food, let me simplify it for you. It’s easy and rewarding. Let’s talk about common misconceptions:

It’s hard to make. Getting a recipe book is a great way to get started. It helped me think outside the box and get vegetables I wouldn’t have otherwise given a second thought: parsnips, leeks, cabbage, I’m looking at you! Since making baby food recipes, I’ve been more comfortable including those veggies into our more grown-up meal times, too!

Most recipes consist of cooking a veggie or veggies to a mashable consistency usually by boiling in water. In the cookbook I got, there are some fussy recipes like salmon and risotto. Not sure I’ll be attempting that any time soon, but it’s given me ideas on how to transform our evening meals into something that June can handle when we’re eating as a family.

melissaesplin-demystifying-baby-food-3 It’s time-consuming. I’ll cook a family meal and make baby food at the same time or batch cook as much as I can. Sundays are a low-stress day with lots of cooking, so I may do a large batch of multiple “flavors”. If I’m doing it while I’m doing my regular cooking routine, It’s no extra work at all. I just make sure that I have enough jars on-hand to fill with baby food. I’ve bought various types of jars (specialtybottle.com is a great place to start), but I’ve found 4 oz. jam jars are my favorite. They’ve got a wide mouth for easy filling and they’re the perfect amount for an emerging appetite. They’re easy to find at the grocery store, too.

It’s perishable. Yes. It is. The shelf life isn’t as long as store-bought food. I don’t can mine like my mom would when she would make applesauce just before winter would hit. BUT, I’ve noticed that if I mash the food and store it in canning jars while hot, they’ll seal in the fridge. HOWEVER, they won’t keep the seal at room temperature. I keep them in the fridge until I’m ready to use them (I don’t leave it at room temperature for more than 12 hours). But the jars of food stored this way will last a great while. I would admonish you to smell and taste the veggies before you feed your babe if you’re not sure about how well it’s kept. I haven’t ever had a jar sour on me in the fridge. I’ve had some in the fridge for over a month.melissaesplin-demystifying-baby-food-4

I don’t have the right equipment or space. The food processor I use Chris and I got as a wedding present. Some are as low as $15, but you can get decent ones for $30. They’re small unitaskers that don’t take up much space in the kitchen. As much as I would love a full-sized food processor, this little bad boy has worked fabulously for us when we had a 25 square foot kitchen. If you plan to make small batches and go through them quickly, regular tupperware is great. For doing larger batches, small jam jars you can find at the grocery store are worth it. The glass also doesn’t stain when it comes to the carrot and beet recipes!

Basic Carrots

makes about 6-10 4 oz. servings

  • 8-10 large carrots
  • 1-2 pats of butter (optional)
  • 1-2 cups water

Peel and chop carrots to 1/2″ discs (bigger discs are okay, but require a longer cook time). Place carrots in a medium sauce pan with 1-2 pats of butter and water. The water shouldn’t cover the carrots!

Cover and cook until soft (20-30 minutes) on medium high. The water will reduce so you may want to check every 5-10 minutes and add water if necessary. As soon as they’re soft, remove from heat and add to the food processor. Use all the water in the pot if there’s any left over. There are vitamins in that water. For a fridge seal with jam jars, process while still warm/hot. Add water as-needed to the mixture until the desired consistency. I tend to add more when my babies are just learning to eat and less when they’re more experienced eaters. If you’re using a blender you may need to use a touch more water. Add just little bits at a time.

Store in the fridge to cool. Serve plain or mixed with sticky rice for older babies.

2015 IAMPETH Pangram Exchange

In march, just off the heels of a wonderful meet-up with friends in Vegas, I got this idea that we need to exchange pangrams at the upcoming IAMPETH (the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting) convention. Selfishly I want to collect originals or prints from among the greatest and most passionate penmen and women.

The most common pangram out there is “The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog”. It’s one of the shortest sentences that (a) makes sense and (b) uses all the letters of the alphabet.

melissaesplin-calligraphy-iampeth-pangram-1

Surely I had plenty of time to design something epic with lots of color, fun printing and gold foil, but that didn’t happen. Working in advance never happens. Coming up with my own pangram seemed so daunting a task that I put it off. I had found an awesome pangram in a book I inherited from my great, great grandfather: “Go! Lazy fat vixen, be shrewd! Jump quick!” But for some reason the layout wasn’t jiving with me. I wasn’t connecting with the words. Then I thought of jazz hands.

melissaesplin-calligraphy-iampeth-pangram-2

I busted out the pencil and started writing. I wrote the alphabet down and I started to put words together with the tougher letters to use in a sentence. It just came together. And I think it speaks to who I am as well. I’m not one for clever prose, but I was proud I came up with this by myself.

2015-IAMPETH-exchange-vectors

The design ended up being a bit of a fiasco as well. I wrote it out, scanned it and printed the piece as-is. I used a sepia ink to get some slight variations, but my hairlines were too thin for the digital printer. Wa, Wa. Saying your hairlines are too thin is like a body builder saying that their one-rep max squat wasn’t heavy enough. It’s a blessed problem to have. But I was down to the wire. I had 3 days before I left for Tennessee to get the piece printed. I put on my big girl pants, dusted off my wacom tablet and vectorized the whole thing. It took about 3 hours. I printed it.

THEN after I printed them, I showed up to IAMPETH with the cards and I wasn’t happy with them. So I added more flourishes to each one (you can see above the lines in the corners that aren’t perfectly smooth) and little bits of silver foil from my hot foil pen and called it a day. I’m pretty pleased it didn’t all blow up in my face considering how last-minute it all was.

melissaesplin-calligraphy-iampeth-pangram-3

I was impressed at how amazing and creative the pangrams were. Many were done by hand! Incredible.

melissaesplin-calligraphy-iampeth-pangram-4

So, I’ve got a few extra. If you’d like to do a little pangram trade, fill out the below*.

*While supplies last. Your information will not be shared with anyone.

FREEBIE: Penelope’s Tea Party

At the beginning of the summer, I scored a precious set of cups and dishes perfect for a tea party. I told Penelope she needed to gather her friends for a tea party at some point and use them. She squealed.

melissaesplin-penelope-tea-party-1

It wasn’t until a few days later that she came up to me asking to get everything out for the tea party. After explaining to her that she needed to give her friends some kind of advanced warning if she wanted them to show up, her finger in the air as she enthusiastically said, “I need you to make me invitations!”

Well OKAY, my dear! The cutest little art director hovered over my shoulder to make sure all the details were correct. She needed gold bits on the invitations (see the little foil dots in the above pic?). And she needed them sealed with glitter washi tape to deliver to her friends.

melissaesplin-penelope-tea-party-2

I was thrilled to have a little peace and quiet while she walked the neighborhood, dropping them in the neighbor’s mail boxes. Since it was a Monday and she was inviting her friends to a party on Tuesday, I made sure to text each mom to double-check invitations were received. All but 2 girls showed up. We had a full house of giggly girls with their pinkies high as they sipped “tea”.

I served honey chocolate toasts, mint oreos (at Penelope’s request) and raspberry lemonade. They thought it was the best tea ever.

melissaesplin-penelope-tea-party-3

(taken from an entirely different party, but I love this pic of her)

Penelope was the most gracious host exclaiming, “Welcome!! I’m so glad you could make it!” while I sat there, hands over my mouth, trying not to squeal and giggle at the same time. She is incredibly more socially astute at her age than I was in college. The girl knows how to throw a party.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 8.11.34 AM

Download the freebie by clicking the image above! By downloading you agree to the Terms of Use below. Are you new here? Check out the “printables” tab at the top of the page for more freebies!

*This tutorial/freebie is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without my consent. Altering any files is NOT ALLOWED. If you would like to use this freebie for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!
full site