And then they…

the things we do to live a better life.

Archive for the category “Habit 6 – Create Something”

A New Dress for Alma

The other night I totally had the urge to sew something.  Since I’ve been working, I haven’t made anything, and I’ve been missing my hobby. While I’ve made quite a few dresses in the past, they have all been sort of complicated.

I have been wanting to try to make a simple dress pattern, so I just gave it a shot!  I sketched out a simple sun dress, then drafted up a pattern.  I just took one of Alma’s dresses and used it to estimate the bodice proportions, then made a couple simple ruffle layers.

I’m really happy with how it turned out!  I love the colors together, on Alma.  She is really into foxes these days, so it was fun to include those.

I will definitely be making more patterns and dresses in the future!

And Then They - Sundress 4And Then They - Sundress 6And Then They - Sundress 5 And Then They - Sundress 3 And Then They - Sundress 2 And Then They - Sundress


Chalkboard Car Table For Alma

Chalkboard Table for Cars - And Then TheyOne of the things we did for Alma’s second birthday was make her a fun chalkboard table for her cars.

This project actually started last summer and went through a few different changes along the way.  It started with this crazy dirt-and-rock-filled-brick-planter in our sunroom:

Before andthentheyThis planter has been annoying me since we moved in 3 years ago.  I’ve never known what to do with it.  Since our bunny lives in the sunroom, I couldn’t just plant some plants in it – he would eat them.  For a while he liked to dig in the box, but that ended up making a huge mess.  The dirt in the planter is a really fine dust that coats the whole room when dug up.  Add a curious toddler and the sunroom was never clean.

My mom actually suggested that we do something with the planter.  I think I had just given up at this point.  Her first idea was to dig out all the dirt and fill it with something more fun (and less dirty) to play with.  When she came over and started digging, she realized how horrible the dirt was after inhaling the super-fine dust.  We started brainstorming again.  The next idea was to cover it with a board and paint a scene on it for Alma’s cars.  You know those old carpets that have the town and roads on them?  That idea, but in paint.  After agreeing that this was the perfect idea, I thought it would be even cooler to just use chalkboard paint.  I wanted the girls to be able to create their own towns, or whatever, not just be stuck with the town I painted for them.  Imagination and creativity are always encouraged here!

Jesse and my mom went and bought all the supplies, and Jesse quickly built the board using plywood and quarter-round strips.  We countersunk the nails, and filled the holes with spackle so everything would be smooth.  Then the board sat on the planter for a couple months.

Finally, I decided Alma’s birthday was the perfect reason to finish this project, so I sanded everything down and started priming the board.

Priming andthentheyI used two coats of primer, then sanded it all down again.  I wanted to make sure the wood was really sealed because the chalkboard paint is expensive and I didn’t want to waste it by having it soak into the wood.  Also, the directions say to prime and sand bare wood.

Then came 3 or 4 thin coats of the chalkboard paint.  I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure I did 4.  I wanted smooth, even coverage, so I did really nice, thin coats.  Below you see what it looked like halfway through the second coat.

Painting andthenthey

Then back out to the sunroom to cure for a few days.  I already liked how it looked so much!  No more dirt!

Installed andthenthey

I followed the directions on the can to prepare the chalkboard by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk all over the whole thing and wiping off with a dry cloth.  Our original idea was to attach the whole thing to the wall, but I sort of love how I can tip it up and brush the chalk dust into the dirt.  We might need to attach it if Alma or Harriet start lifting it up all the time, but it’s pretty heavy and I don’t think they know it opens.

Happy Birthday andthentheyI’m not sure who will like it more, me, or Alma.  I had a lot of fun writing a birthday message, and drawing a little road for her new cars.  I’m excited to work on my chalkboard-writing skills.

Playing andthentheyAlma definitely does love it, though!  She seems to like the drawing part more than the car part these days, but I’m sure she’ll appreciate that it is a fun, versatile toy out in the sunroom.  I also have a ton of the paint leftover, so I’m already thinking about what else could use some creativity.  Chalkboard all the things!  Uh oh….

ps – I am linking up with a link party on I Heart Nap Time!

New Nursery and Alma’s New Room

It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything on this blog…  Maybe blogging just isn’t me.  I really should.  Maybe I will get better when I have this next wee one.  probably not…

Anyway, we’ve been doing some work around the house to get ready for Baby Girl #2 (though I’m starting to panic that it’s really a boy and I’m not going to be ready for that… even though the ultrasound tech said she was 99.9% it’s a girl… and it didn’t matter to me last time and we didn’t even find out then…another story…).

Without further ado:

Baby’s Nursery (to see what it looked like before, click here.)


And Alma’s new room.  I don’t think I have any photos of this room before.  It was a guest room/ TV room.

I had a lot of fun with this room.  I hand-drew and hand-painted her world map, had fun with ombre on the dresser and ALMA letters.  I was going to do an ombre dye on the curtains, but chickened out – I am so glad I chickened out – in the end I love the dramatic white curtains with the coralish ties.  Alma really loves her new room!


Summer List

1.  Read 5 Books (at least).  Here’s what’s at the top of my list:

These are the five books I have on hold for my Nook through the public library.  Gotta love free reading! I’ve also just joined a book club, so we’ll see what that will bring me!

2.  Read Alma all her books.  I seem to be in a rut with Alma’s books.  She was given so many books when she was born and we haven’t gotten to many of them.  I tend to read a couple of my favorites over and over to her, but I’m sure she’d enjoy some variety.

3.  Sew 3 dresses + some.  I am making three dresses for a secret project, but I also want to try some of the many dresses I’ve pinned on Pinterest.

4. Do push-ups and sit-ups ALL.  THE.  TIME. Jesse and I tried to do 100 Pushups a couple summer ago, but I don’t think we made it.  Time for the second attempt.  I also want to do 10 minutes of ab work every other night.

5.  Take Alma to the coast.  Can it be true we still haven’t done this?  Terrible, I know.

6.  Write 4 letters.  I got this idea from Elizabeth and thought it was a lovely idea.  I’ve really been meaning to write more letters anyway.

7.  Swim ALL.  THE.  TIME.  Wherever I can, whenever I can.  I’m hoping to get to the pool a few times this summer, and to spend some time in a river or a lake.  I love swimming more than being on land.

8.  Hike a mountain.  Luckily I am surrounded.

9.  Try 10 new recipes.  Another Pinterest challenge.  I’m going to try to focus on using whole foods and cutting refined and processed ingredients.

10.  Blog whenever I do any of these things.  This might be the hardest of all.

Novruz Preparations – Part 1

It’s that time of year again.  Actually, it’s a little after that time of year, but hey, we were busy!  It’s Novruz!!  Novruz is my second favorite holiday of the year (Christmas is just slightly better).   Jesse and I first learned about and celebrated Novruz while we were in the Peace Corps in Azerbaijan.  It celebrates the new year that begins on the first day of spring.  You can read more about it here.  Alma and I spent about an hour today working on our first preparations for our 3rd annual Novruz party.

Alma helping me make chocolate syrup, Novruz eggs and empty the dishwasher.

To keep up with my goal of using my time in the kitchen wisely, while the eggs were cooking, I also made a batch of chocolate syrup and worked on cleaning up some of our dishes.

Women in Azerbaijan work very hard to provide an amazing feast for their families.  These feasts might happen on each Tuesday before the equinox and an ever bigger feast on the equinox.  Like I said, Azerbaijani women work very hard.  I started my prep by hard boiling 10 eggs and dying them.  Not too hard for the first round of prep.

I love that eggs are part of this Islamic celebration.  It really reminds me how truly connected and similar Islam is to Christianity.  If only everyone could see it that way.  Like Easter eggs, Novruz are dyed various colors.

While Easter eggs are hidden and found, Novruz eggs are part of a different game.  Each person picks an egg, then people go around the table trying to break each others’ eggs by tapping them together.  The person who has the unbroken egg in the end is the winner!

Baby’s Nursery

Our nursery.  I really love how it all turned out.


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