Saturday, April 11, 2015

upcycled toddler gym shorts

I've been going through a lot of my clothing this year, and setting things aside to get rid of. However, instead of donating them or (horror of horrors) throwing them away, I've been coming up with ways to turn them into clothing for Jaina. It's been a fun puzzle figuring out ways to use existing seams, buttons, and collars. And the best part is, it's FREE! So throw caution to the wind, and cut up your old clothes for your kid.

For this project, you'll need:
- 1 pair of adult athletic shorts
- sewing machine
- matching thread
- scissors
- loose-fitting toddler pants or shorts to use as a template
- pins

I started with this pair of size Small women's jogging shorts. These have been sitting in my drawer since college. Time to embrace reality, and realize that these will never be appropriate for public consumption again. 

First, turn the shorts inside-and lay them on a smooth, flat surface. Take the time to perfectly center the middle seams and line up the front and back band. I also smoothed out all the wrinkles to point downward. You can't get rid of the wrinkles since it's all gathered in the elastic, so just try to make sure they're all pointing in the direction that you'll be cutting.

Next, lay your template pants over the shorts, being careful to line up the center seams and band. Toddler sweat pants would be best for this. (Don't use leggings.)

Rather than use chalk or a pen to make the outline, I just pinned the layers of the shorts together. MAKE SURE you keep both layers of the elastic band on the same level when you pin them, and PIN THROUGH THE ELASTIC, so it doesn't "boing" deep into the band when you cut through it.

Cut through all layers of the shorts about 1/2in. outside the line of pins. I pulled the waistband ties out to make sure I didn't cut through them. 

Next, sew up your seams with coordinating thread.

I went back and zig-zagged over the waistband seams for added durability. 

I had a little trouble with the bottom of the shorts since women's jogging shorts are longer in the back.

But a quick hem fixed that. 

 I would recommend taking in the crotch, just to make them fit better. Especially for girl shorts. Just turn them inside out, fold them flat along the horizontal crotch seams, pin, and sew. (Technically this should be done before you hem them.)

And there you go! 

Even if you can find toddler mesh shorts in fun girl colors (Target has zero, Old Navy has one), they're gonna run upwards of $12 each. These were absolutely free, and took less than an hour to make.

She's excited to play "bassetball" at the park with Daddy once the weather really warms up. 

While I was working on the project, Jaina was playing with the side pieces of the shorts that I had cut off. She kept saying they looked like mermaids, so I  sewed them up, and made a quick and dirty mermaid tail for her stuffed animals.

Didn't quite work out, but at least now I can say I upcycled the entire pair of old shorts. Pretty sweet!

So next time you're about to take a load of clothing to donate give it a second look. Or give it to me!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

mimi's 80th birthday party

We got to celebrate my grandma, Mimi's, 80th birthday this January! Friends and family came out to celebrate her, we had lots of good food, and I discovered the joy of setting up a dessert table without having to actually make the desserts. Why have I been punishing myself this whole time?! Spending weeks cutting out circles or folding tissue paper doesn't bother me in the least, but after just an hour of baking or chocolate dipping I'm shaking my fists at the heavens.

The inspiration for the decor was this gorgeous fuschia dress that Mimi wore as a bridesmaid's dress sometime in the 50s. 

I also used a lot of vintage photos of Mimi; on the cupcakes, the embellished posters, and around the room.

 And a TON of tissue paper flowers. These are very retro to me - like prom decor from the 50s.

Did you know you could order large photo prints from Staples for only $4.99? You have to choose "engineering prints", ignore the many warnings that this is NOT a photo grade option, place your order, and pick them up in store! Files that were originally professional-grade, high-quality prints work the best.

Mom made the amazing desserts; including Almond Joy Cheesecakes and Hawaiian Pineapple cupcakes.

For the cupcake picks (originally seen on Empress Stationery), I used some of the hundreds of photos I've scanned onto our computer over the years. I cropped all of the photos to be about 2.5"x2.5", then I arranged them in rows in a Word document, and printed them on cardstock. Then I used my 2" circle punch to cut them all out, mounted them on pink circle cut-outs, attached toothpicks, and that was it. All for the cost of a pack of pink cardstock. ; )

Love that beehive!

Here's more engineering prints. After picking them up from Staples, I put them in lightweight poster frames and had some fun embellishing each with tissue paper flowers and tassels. 

Mimi and Pappap on a trip in Ocean City, NJ.

The birthday girl!

Mimi with Cheryl, the woman to whose wedding Mimi wore the fuschia dress. 
I found out at the party that it was actually a "rainbow wedding" where all the bridesmaids wore different colors. 
They said that was all the rage then. 

Happy Birthday, Mimi! So glad I could spend it with you! 

Party Credits

Party Styling: Kara Hallead
Photography: Faith Scheuerman
Desserts: Carol Scheuerman
Photo prints: Staples
Vintage Items: Charlotte Sprenkle
Cupcake Stand: Pier 1 Imports

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

the story of last week: in which i use the word "cervix" a lot

There are lots of reasons I haven't written in months. I co-ran a city-wide fundraiser in late September that nearly brought me to my knees. I got pregnant in November and spent almost the entire month of December in a horizontal position, weakly waving hello at any and all visiting family members. January I began to learn how to live again, but couldn't believe taking care of a toddler and keeping a house together was all my responsibility. "Really? This all comes down to me? This isn't fun at all!" February I made a little more effort to get out of the house despite the sub-zero temperatures (coldest February on record for PA, people!), and I made a major breakthrough when I put a chair in front of the sole window in our house that gets some afternoon sun. You will find me there every afternoon from 1:30-2 until the snow melts.

But I'm back, and we had the craziest, scariest few days last week.

For those of you who don't know, I had a lot of issues with Jaina's pregnancy. At my 20-week anatomy scan she just would not show her gender, so after trying to get a peek from every angle they brought out the vaginal ultrasound. The tech noticed right away that my cervix was pretty short for someone only halfway through their pregnancy and had a doctor check it out. Long story short, after a few weeks of monitoring, I needed a cervical cerclage - one stitch that goes around your cervix and cinches it shut. (I also had a low-lying cord and placenta which eventually dictated that I have an early c-section, but that's a whole other story.)

So this time around we scheduled a meeting with a maternal/fetal medicine doctor at 16 weeks to make a plan for how we might monitor my "incompetent cervix." (That is LITERALLY the medical term for it. Rude.) We talked about all the options for if/when it happened again, then we went to an ultrasound room to check things out. First she took a look at the baby, and we found out (a month before we expected) that we're having a girl! I was immediately ecstatic! The idea of Jaina having a sister was so exciting.

Then she took a look down below. I was already down to 2 cm of cervical tissue. Really?! Finding out her gender, which makes the baby that much more "real", but also that she wasn't perfectly safe was rough. But I don't want to live in fear, so I decided to be brave and started looking up baby names and nursery ideas anyway. We decided to try a week of progesterone (NOT taken orally, by the way) since that has been shown to help some women. We could only wait a week and find out how much it would help me.

So last Thursday was our appointment, and, thankfully, I decided to leave Jaina at a friend's house. We got all set up, the ultrasound technician brought up the picture, and I knew right away there wasn't as much left. She didn't even measure. It's kind of a blur, but I know she told the doctor there "couldn't be more than 6mm."

Half a centimeter between my tiny avacado-sized baby and the world she was nowhere near ready for.

Again, I was fuzzy, but instead of talking about when they would do the cerclage, there was some talk of "if". The doctor even did a visual internal check to make sure she couldn't see the amniotic sack.

They sent us to the hospital, and we had to stay in Labor and Delivery for an hour or two while they monitored me for possible contractions. Thankfully, there wasn't a peep from my uterus, so I could be moved to Antepartum on the much quieter and comfier Maternity floor.

Zach got Jaina situated with my parents and came back to spend the night with me. I watched about 10 episodes of Rehab Addict. I don't even like that show, she is so shrill. I didn't know quite where to put my brain. Should I be preparing myself to meet and say goodbye to my baby? Or should I be arming myself for battle in the OR tomorrow? There were tons of people praying for us, and the ladies in my mom's group sent me all these amazing messages of encouragement. I had to save them all for when I was pretty sure no doctors or nurses were coming since I completely lost it every time. I got a few little chunks of sleep, but not much.

In the morning they came to get me for another ultrasound. It was only a few doors down, and we walked on over. The picture came up, and it looked completely different from the day before. She took the measurement three times, and said she was confident my cervix measured at 1.3cm.

Double the day before.

That doesn't happen. Your body doesn't just regenerate like that. Not in a day.

I walked back to my room beaming. Sure 1.3cm is still teensy-tiny for a pregnant cervix, but it's something to work with. Zach and I hugged and cried and prayed for a while, then both furiously texted all the pertinent people with the good news. I felt so much more confident in the doctors and my body going into surgery now.

My team of doctors came in and congratulated me on the better measurements. Told me to "keep doing whatever I was doing", and that they were confident that they'd be able to get a good stitch in. I went in for the surgery at noon, legs were numb by 12:30, and the whole shebang was done by quarter-to-one. We got to go home that night, and now we'll do weekly checks.

Sit tight little baby. We don't need to meet you for a long time yet.

Thank you to everyone who helped us out and prayed for us. Thank you to everyone who's offered to watch Jaina during doctor's appointments cause I will be calling you. ; ) A big shout out to the nurses at York Hospital who mostly let me take care of myself and really treated me like "you got this, girl." I hope to not see any of you for at least four more months.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble. 
Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.
Psalm 46:1-2

Friday, October 31, 2014

halloween '14

Happy Halloween, everyone! Also, happy finally-breaking-down-and-letting-our-toddler-try-candy day! We got to go trick-or-treating twice this year. First on Hanover's random trick-or-treat night which is always "the Tuesday before the Halloween parade which is the Thursday before Halloween" (seriously). And then we got dressed up again tonight to get our $3 burritos at Chipotle and to trick-or-treat with our Spring Grove friends.

So here we are! Another Hallead Family Group Costume. Here's hoping we can keep this going for years to come. ; )

 Little Red Riding Hood, Grandma, and the Big Bad Wolf in the woods

Not sure about Daddy Wolf

(Spinning) "I Wed Wiying Hood, Mommy!"

I had planned to make Jaina a simple Red Riding Hood outfit with a hoodie and a simple skirt, but when I saw this gorgeous outfit at TJMaxx with the crushed velour cape and cute little dirndl I just went for it. For me to make that would take hours and more money than the costume cost. So maybe next year she'll be Gretel and I can make Zach Hansel. ; ) And she is gonna have soooo much fun running around the house in that cape.

Now I could have very easily gotten ahold of a lovely full-length flannel nightgown from the thrift store for me to wear as the Grandma, but I refused to walk around like that. So I opted for a cardigan, a shawl, my great-grandmother's apron, and a simple mob cap that I threw together quickly the day of. Oh, and you simply must wear your glasses at the end of your nose. 

I made Zach the Martha Stewart Big Bad Wolf Hoodie Costume with a $2 hoodie from the thrift store. M-Stew of course has printable templates and easy to follow instructions, so it was a breeze. I also added the faux fur on the sleeves and the backs of the ears.

Check out Fred, Wilma, and Pebbles from last year!