Saturday, August 27, 2011


we spent the day at my mother in law's house yesterday and it was so relaxing.  my niece and nephew don't live far from her and as soon as they got out of school they joined us.  the heat drove my people straight into the pool. i know they were thankful for a refreshing splash together.  i enjoyed watching them having fun with their cousins.  it got me thinking about my own cousins and our relationship.  as i watched my little people splash and play with their cousins in the pool, i thought about how grateful i am that they are going to know their cousins.  both my niece and nephew have been a part of my kids' lives since before they were even born.  my niece's birthday is one day before my daughter's birthday.  all the kids play so well together.  it's good, clean honest fun with genuine belly laughs.  i get a big smile on my face watching them. 

i love feet.  they are cute. and no one ever has the same exact pair. 

they giggle.  they tell jokes. they look out for each other. they help each other. they give hugs and kisses to each other.  they genuinely love each other and love being with each other.  that makes me so happy.

unfortunately my cousins and i lived in completely different states growing up.  with my father in the military we bounced from coast to coast.  we did not have the opportunity to grow up "with" our cousins.  i used to be envious of the kids who had these huge extended families.  they would roll their eyes when telling me about another family gathering with 20+ people there.  i used to want that.  thankfully, we are continuing to nurture the relationships with my cousins and get to know them as young adults.  we tease and beg them to move closer.  they are very special.  i know if we had lived closer to them growing up that we would have had a relationship much like my kids do with their cousins.  
helping her learn to hull-a-hoop
ice cream is a right of passage, for sure and a summertime must-have!
i look forward to the summer time when i know we'll get to see my niece and nephew more often.  have them over to swim or spend the night.  my kids really look forward to this too.  it's important for kiddos to know their family.  know who loves them.  and later in life, when things get tough my hope is that they turn to their family when they need strength.  all of that starts now, building those relationships when they are young.  
my niece, growing up so fast
my nephew, the ladies are going to love those eyes one day!
there is another reason for me being so emotional about this.  i am recently a "new" auntie.  our newest addition - my niece - is coming to cali tomorrow.  my youngest brother and his wife are moving back to the west coast with their brand new baby.  i could not be more excited!!  almost like a kid at christmas.  not only do i get to have my little brother and his amazing wife living closer but we also get to spend quality time with their new baby.  one more cousin for kiddos to play with.  to get to know.  to laugh with. to make memories with.  this is what it's all about for me.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sisters: Sydney and Alex


"hey,... i've got a favor to ask of you." my friend, kim says while i am over visiting her one afternoon.
"what's up?" i ask.
"will you take sydney's senior pictures?"
i looked up at her in disbelief.  you want ME to take your daughter's senior high school portraits??? really??
"YES!" i jumped at the opportunity.
"of course i'd love to get pictures with both of my girls." she smiled at me.
"not a problem. i can't wait!! let's pick a date." and so we did.

a couple weeks later kim, sydney, alex and i met up to do some pictures of them.  we planned out where the pictures would be taken and what they would wear.  it was really fun to do this with them.  on the day of the shoot i had my trusty "wing man" sandra with me.  i love having her around.  she has a calming spirit and i love to hear her view and  opinions on what we are shooting.

now let me back up a little bit.  my friend kim is one of the first people i met when my husband and i moved to corona.  the stars were aligned just right because she and i were meant to be friends.  the moment i met kim, there was an instant connection. she has a warm heart and very giving spirit.  through kim, i have gotten to know her two amazing daughters: sydney and alex.  these girls are good.  they babysit my little people and i genuinely enjoy being around them both.  when they were younger, they looked so much alike that i would have sworn they were twins.  honestly, sometimes i had a hard time telling who was who. but in these last few years somethings have changed.  each girl is coming into her own and becoming their own woman; very much so.

alex is the younger sister; a junior in high school and she is an artist.

alex has a spirit much like her mother's.  she loves color and i've seen her with a paintbrush in her hands more times than i can count.  one night some of the ladies were visiting at kim's house and alex joined us.  she set up her easel and canvas and began to paint.  it was awesome to watch her talent create something extraordinary.

alex's decorating style is eclectic.  she has drawings covering almost every wall in her bedroom. and many of her favorite quotes are strewn on those walls as well.  i love that she knows exactly who she is and what her passion is at such a young age.  i envy that a little bit because at her age, i was still searching.
alex, keep that passion alive.  nurture it.  you are a budding young artist.  i hope you find a college that  encourages you to blossom into the artiste i know you will become.  i'm excited to watch where your talent takes you.

sydney just started her senior year of high school.  YIKES!  time has flown by watching her grow into such an intelligent and beautiful young lady.

give this girl her jeans and a pair of converse and she is happy.  isn't she a pretty scholar?  look at those books.  i know her brain is bubbling over with all that knowledge.

sydney, i love that you play a weekly game of monopoly with 4 of your closest friends.
i love that  you are a vintage soul who collects antiques and old vinyl records.  all teasing aside, i know your sister and your mom adore you.  how could they not? you are easy to adore.  this last year of high school is going to go by so quickly.  i know it doesn't feel like it right now, but it will.  my wish for you is that you soak up every minute.  have as much fun as possible and of course, get good grades. :)  this is the beginning of the end to a chapter for you and the next chapter - college life - is a whole new adventure. 
sisters playing "dress up"
growing up, i had always wished for a sister. i got 2 crazy brothers and used to dress the youngest one up like a girl - remember that, brian? - but if i had a sister, i would've wanted our relationship to be as solid as sydney and alex's is.
sydney, kim , and alex
the fact that these girls have their heads on straight is due largely in part to their awesome, kim and their mellow dad, tim.  you both have a done an amazing job of raising these two girls into amazing young women.  they give me hope for our future and my little people's future.  they are a bright light.  
good luck girls!!  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Applique All The Way! [I sound like a cheerleader in high school]

for those of you who know me , you know that i LOVE to make and receive homemade gifts.  i love making goodies for people and watching them open those gifts.  i love making things for my children and seeing them wear it.  
last year when i went part-time at work i started making even more gifts for my friends and family.  like many of you know our life goes in cycles.  right now i am in the "mommy cycle" so most of my friends are having babies, have just had babies or our kiddos play together.
do you remember the last post with sadie's lemonade stand?  i made her shirt with the number 1 on it. (if you were here, you'd see my big proud grin)  
to be honest, all those birthday parties and baby showers get crazy and expensive.  that's when i decided a homemade and heartfelt gift was the way i wanted to go.... hence learning to applique.  
this cute tie applied to a onesie is the perfect gift for a baby boy

with a lot of trial and error and some research on the internet, i taught myself how to make appliques.  you can applique any design.  you can put them on onesies, t-shirts, bibs, aprons - on just about anything.  i made a few (ok, A LOT) and learned as i went.  now that i've done it so many times, i finally have a system in place and my work flows pretty easily.  check it out and try one for yourself. 

here are the items you will need to make your own applique:
- design or letter of your choice (simpler is better)
- pencil or pen for tracing
- iron
- fusible webbing (i use wonder under)
- cute cotton fabric
- t shirt, onesie or whatever items you want to applique onto
- thread
- scissors

**note: i wash, dry and lightly iron each piece of fabric and garment before i start this process.

set your iron to medium/high with no steam. iron the fusible webbing to the fabric you have chosen for this project.  i use only the amount i need for the design to conserve my supplies.  only rest your iron on the fusible webbing/fabric for about 8-10 seconds. and be careful not to slide the iron.  
the fusible webbing bonds to the fabric

once you've selected a design, trace it onto the webbing-side of the paper that you have bonded to the fabric. cut out your design. ** this is the old school way of doing things.  if you have a cri-cut die cut machine or a silhouette, this part will be much easier for you.
select your design. trace onto wonder under-backed fabric and cut out.
when you have completely cut out your design, peel away the backing layer of the fusible webbing.  your fabric should have a distinctive texture on the back of it.  place your design wherever you like it on your clothing item- bonded side down.   with the iron still set at medium/high and no steam, place the iron on top of the design for 8-10 seconds.  lift the iron and repeat - set the iron on the remaining portion of the design for another 8-10 seconds.  again, be careful not to slide the iron or your design may move and become wrinkled.
iron set to medium/high and NO steam
the fusible webbing has bonded your design to the clothing item.  however, if you're looking for a little bit a stronger hold you can sew around the edges of the design.  i like to do this because that way i am confident the design won't peel off when i wash it and it looks super cute with some colorful stitching.
you can stitch by hand - the sloppier, the better sometimes - or use a sewing machine.  
stitch around your design
i use my grandmother's old sewing machine.  i took it to a local vacuum cleaner and sewing machine repair place.  the guy was great and gave it a tune-up at a decent price. when using the sewing machine, you can use a straight stitch or a zig zag stitch.  either one is cute. if you're asking for my opinion, i prefer the straight stitch because it's easier to do and the finished product looks "cleaner."  additionally, be careful that your clothing doesn't get all bunched up and you wind up sewing the front of the shirt  to the back of the shirt.
yes, my name is amanda and i have done this.
see how the shirt is pulled up so that i'm only sewing on one layer.
go around all sides of your design.  when finished, snip your threads and there you go! wrap up your homemade goodies in a cute bag with a big bow.  your friends will love them and you will feel good knowing you've made something from the heart for those whom you love.  
let me know if you try this; i'd love to hear how it goes!  
if you're not the martha stewart-type, then shoot me an email and i'd be happy to sew one of these beauties up for you at a very reasonable price!
just a few little goodies i'm working on right now