Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I'm thrilled to read that some of you plan to make your own summer nightgown for your sweet little girls! I'd love it if you emailed me some pictures!  :)

Earlier this week I brought Isabelle with me to my hairdresser's and then to the grocery store (fun fun!)- she was wearing the reversible jumper I made her, and I thought she looked pretty darn adorable. We must have been stopped by at least a dozen older people who were smitten with my sweetie, and this one pair of little ladies who started talking hems and stitch patterns with me right there in the middle of the store! They were so sweet and kind to pay me such compliments on Isabelle's dress, and I'd been feeling a little down recently and that just gave me the best feeling!

On the way out, our older friend (who always has lollipops for the kids) called Isabelle over and gave her the treat, telling her how purty she looked. I didn't really want her to have the extra sugar (she'd just had a lollipop at the salon, ha!) but the older gentleman looked so happy to make my daughter smile, I just couldn't say no! I'm glad we made him smile, too. I honestly don't know why any of this seemed so important or memorable, but it totally made my day and I wanted to write it down so I'd always remember.

Have a super Saturday! 

(You can read HERE for the tutorial on Isabelle's reversible jumper.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

All Alone

That's me.
All alone. Sitting here at home. Peace and quiet. Finally!
It feels so SO good.
Okay, well, I just put Isabelle to bed, so I'm not technically alone.
But who cares about technicalities?   :)
She and I had a date with the Swan Princess. That scary dude is...well, scary!

So where's everyone else?

Jonah and Caleb are having sleep-overs with grandparents and being spoiled rotten, I'm sure!
And Bill took Ethan to the movies to see Zookeeper, kind of as an early birthday present, kind of not. They filmed the movie at the Franklin Park Zoo, which we've been to several times, so that's pretty neat. I'm just a little afraid because Kevin James sometimes gets a bit raunchy...don't like the idea of my boy hearing raunchy stuff. Maybe Bill will cover his eyes and ears, ha!

Speaking of ears, the poor kid has a raging ear infection and walking pneumonia. Don't I feel like Mother of the Year? His cough got much, much worse in the last 24 hours so I knew it was time to head in. Being sick stinks! I hope he feels all better for his birthday right around the corner.

I'm still sewing up a storm (the kids and I made bandana pillows easy!), brainstorming like crazy to finish up this crazy novel of mine- I watched a movie based on JK Rowling's life...and it was AWESOME, let me just say!- and making time for fun things before summer is all over!
Whew! Here are a few pics from our day.
My kids are so kooky. Love that!

oh, did I forget to mention it was a pink nightie Swan Princess party?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tutorial for How to Make a Little Girl's Summer Nightgown

We are officially melting here in the Northeast! At least it motivates me to get in gear for day trips to the lake and beach...which is where we've been most every day for a whole week! But I'd been itching to sew up a little something too...

Last week I made Isabelle a cute nightgown to help keep her cool during these sweltering nights...but it still wasn't quite what I was hoping for.  So I whipped up another one, and this one is so pretty and feminine, and most importantly, loose fitting and airy.

 someone was just a little bit excited about her new pretty nightie!!!

It went together quick, even with multiple interruptions from my crew.

Oh how I loooooove my kiddos, but I suspect we may be just a tad sick of each other about this time. I may or may not have immersed myself in this project all day yesterday to try and hide a bit. Maybe.

Onto the project.
I found my inspiration from a couple of her summer tops I love and set out to create the perfect summer nightgown. I would call this a modified pillowcase pattern with ruffled straps. How's that for a title?  =)

I knew I wanted a very smooth, soft cotton, and I was thinking muted colors, something calming...voila! White polka dots on a delicate pink background- perfect! I also wanted ruffled shoulder straps and a bit of gathering to keep it light and airy.

I cut out a basic rectangle (as if for a pillowcase dress) approximately 20 inches across and 24 inches top to bottom for the size I wanted. Next I drew a chalk line diagonally along one side to create more of an A-line shape. Simply fold the fabric in half and cut along the other side. Don't throw these scraps away! You're going to use those for the straps and ruffles!

 (upside down view...oops!)

I measured about 9 inches down on the bigger piece of fabric and cut two straps, about 2 1/2 inches wide. I doubled the length of the ruffle pieces (just fold it in half, top to bottom, and match it up to the strap) and cut one edge with a slight arcing curve.

{not sure why I took this picture with the white edge still intact- this gets cut right off- the pieces on the left are the ruffle pieces, which are folded in half & slightly curved}

Lastly, align front and back pieces and cut a backwards J-shaped curve on each side for the underarm, exactly as you would a basic pillowcase dress. I used my inspiration shirts as a guide for how big to make the cuts- it's all pretty forgiving so I was able to eyeball it. Now all the pieces are cut and you're ready to start sewing!
{pardon the fold embarrassing!}   :)

Stitch the nightgown front and back sides together and press open. I also used pinking sheers because this fabric frays and gets "thready." Truth be told, I am not a huge fan of serging, but you could certainly serge the edges or simply zig zag them, or even sew with beautiful French seams (which is what I rely upon for making things I sell in my little Etsy shop). Or leave them alone entirely. You decide.

Stitch the nightgown sides together, front to back and press open. I also used pinking sheers because this fabric frays and gets "thready." Next, iron a narrow hem along the underarm area, and then turn under again and pin in place. Now it's ready to stitch. Note that the curve part can be tricky- sometimes it helps to make some teeny snips along the curve to ease the fabric under for the hem. I've written a small post about it here. My Mom loves to use binding and bias tape, but I prefer to iron and stitch a narrow hem. I think I also ironed a narrow hem and stitched around the bottom of the nightgown at this point. Or you can do that last- it won't matter much.

The 'inspiration' tank tops each had dainty elastic casings for both the front and backs, and that's exactly what I wanted for the nightgown. I love the tiny ruffle detail on the striped tank, but placing it at the bottom of the casing would require additional piecing and more work, so I opted for a much simpler ruffle along the top edge. To do this, all you have to do is make the fold for the casing a bit larger than necessary, and this "extra" fabric at the top becomes the ruffle.

I forgot how long the two pieces of elastic were...maybe 8ish inches? I was using the tank top as a guide, so you can do that too- nothing has to be too technical or perfect! Insert a safety pin into one end of the elastic to pull it through the casing, taking care not to yank it right through to the other side- I pin mine in place at the edge so I don't lose it inside the casing. Stitch in place at each end.

See how that pretty little ruffle forms? Love it!

Now onto those darling ruffled straps! Iron a narrow hem all along the curved edge of the ruffle, turn under and iron again, pinning in place. Stitch. You should baste along the straight edge and pull up the threads to gather the ruffle...but I've grown lazy in my old age and simply gather as I sew, pushing the fabric around with my fingers. I left about an inch on each end of the strap, and curved the ruffle so that no unfinished edge would show.
 pretty, huh?!?!

Iron lightly and smooth the ruffle out as best as you can before folding up the opposite side, enclosing the ruffle inside. Take your time with this step, and be sure that the ruffle isn't bunched up somewhere in the stitch line. Stitch from one end to the other to make a "tube" with the ruffle on the inside- make sure you tack the ends!- and then gently turn right side out. It's difficult for the very first part, but once the ruffle starts to peek out you can tug it carefully to pull the rest of the strap right side out.

Here's what it looks like before you stitch the edges together to form the ruffled strap...
make sure the ruffle is SMOOTH and lying relatively flat for this part!

Press lightly and top-stitch each edge. This may have been a good time to tuck the ends inside and stitch them closed, but I did not. Instead I ended up ironing them under twice to form a narrow hem and stitching in place.

Now you'll attach the straps to the bodice. I chose to sew these on by hand, but usually I line things up so I'm able to stitch in the ditch to secure them.
{aah, a sweet little bow adds the perfect touch!}
Sweet Dreams!

And there you have it! A beautiful, easy summer nightgown for your little princess! 
Happy sewing!

Summer 2016: I've just had a baby (!!!!) and I made several of these nightgowns for me, and they are THE BEST for pregnancy and nursing. I used a t-shirt as my template and cut the same basic pieces for my nightgown as I did for the little girl's one above.

I also shared some tips and tricks for taking your own maternity pictures in THIS POST

Here are some additional tutorials:

Summer Nightie with EASY Angel Wing Straps

How to sew easy French seams.

The Opposites Dress

Upcycling Old Leggings (especially those with worn knees) & Adding Details to your Handmade Clothing

this was from a couple summers later...still wearing this cute little nightie!  =)

To visit my Etsy shop, Rose & Ruffle, click HERE.

Join  us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap 
 up           party!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Love, Marriage and an Etsy Order

Well last week certainly held a few surprises! Remember this post? Not so fun. I was both encouraged and challenged by Jenny and Heather who left such thoughtful comments for me- thanks ladies! I don't want to waste an opportunity to show Christ's love, so after thinking all week about what I should do, I've decided to write a short note apologizing for the things that seem to have bothered the neighbor so much. I can't say I understand completely, but that doesn't really even matter- I just want to do the right thing.

And all last week Caleb and Isabelle Kate attended Vacation Bible School & had a blast! The theme was "Shake It Up" and every day they did an art project, a science experiment, and whipped up a little something in the kitchen- it was so neat! I was so impressed with all the hard work that went into such a wonderful week for the children! (They were at Isabelle's preschool- our own church does some things for the kids, but it would end up costing us over $200 to participate, so, um, I don't think so.  I wish it were different, but I'm so thankful for the church that welcomed us in this past week!

I just love this picture of Caleb as one of the days was wrapping up

So...after Terrible Tuesday, the next morning I was completely surprised to see that someone had bought one of my skirts for sale on etsy! I was so excited!!  And then, two people "favorited" my shop!! It felt like such a special affirmation from God and I'm very thankful. I don't know what I'm doing most of the time for all this business stuff- I'm just trying to raise money for the adoption, and it's so easy to get my feelings hurt and feel disappointed when things don't go the way I think they should. But God is in control so all I have to do is obey. He gave me this love of photography and sewing, so I intend to use them. If you want to visit my shop, click on the picture to the right. And if you really want to make my day, you can "favorite" me!  Ha Ha!
this is the skirt I sold...well, this is a size 3/4, and a 7 was ordered- I just finished the new one today!

Speaking of adoption, Bill and I have been feeling really overwhelmed with the costs involved and some of the other details. We were really having a hard time, and it was spilling over into every other aspect of our family life. The past couple of weeks haven't been too great, to tell you the truth. But suddenly, I felt the greatest, most amazing peace from God, and Bill and I were able to work through some important things. What a relief! Nobody likes turmoil, and it was beginning to take its toll. Parenting is so much harder too when there is tension between Mom and Dad. For me, my biggest problem is my thought life, letting certain thoughts creep in, and then they stick, and it's SO hard to dislodge them! I need to be more aware and vigilant with the thoughts I allow to occupy my mind.

We also decided that we need to be more purposeful in getting out and doing fun things together! We went on a little date Friday night (thanks Dad for braving the crew solo while poor Mom was sick!) and then brought home Chinese food and watched a movie from Redbox. Nothing over the top but really special to me. It's so easy for bills and chaos and fighting kids and cats puking on the new rug and cramps and humidity and everything else life throws at you to take over. We're going to try harder to keep those things in perspective and save our energy for what matters more.

On Wednesday, Isabelle had a sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa so it was just me and my boys and I got to spoil them a little bit! Ice cream and swimming for starters!

 Ethan stole my towel and said "a real man can handle pink" - ha ha ha

of course I miss Isabelle when she isn't with us, but it was so fun to stay in the deep end of the pool without a wriggling body kicking and splashing at me!  =)
we had lots of fun!

We all laughed when Grandma and Grandpa showed up at the pool an hour later with our swimmer girl- she is still such a fish! So we all hung out and played together, and then I might have escaped for a minute or two to the deep end all by myself. Maybe.  ;)

I'd gotten some t-shirts on clearance at Old Navy last month and had been waiting for a lull in the activities and such to surprise the boys with I placed them outside their doors in the morning so they'd find them when they woke up. I love that small things like this really make my boys happy, and they thanked me several times! I know I was not nearly as grateful for things when I was their age. Sorry Mom!

And the thing they are still talking about???

They were pleased with their new shirts, but they were absolutely ecstatic and thrilled that I made coffee for them for breakfast, ha ha! Of course it was decaf, but shhh! I didn't tell them that!
oh yeah, I forgot about the cookies- it was a nice cool morning, perfect for a little early morning baking
I did have to fish my very ripe bananas out of the trash because Bill mistakenly threw them out- eww, that sounds so gross! It was a clean bag with nothing else in it, and they'd be baked for the banana bread anyway, so....that's okay, right? Well, we demolished that bread, and it was so so yummy, and none of us died, so I think we're in the clear!

Whew! I'm exhausted, and I didn't even get to Saturday and today! Good night y'all!

Friday, July 15, 2011

God is so good & my fashion diva

I'm so thankful...
for a savior who loves and cherishes me
for his protection and comfort
for his gentleness and compassion

God truly transformed our not-so-hot week! I'll share more about it later. But for now, I just had to share this...

~Little Miss in all her fashion glory~
at dinner, she was wearing the dress...i was cleaning up and this is what i see a few minutes later, ha ha!
it's hard to see, but she's sporting her favorite pink flower bracelet midway up her sweatered arm, dangling Abby Baby, sunhat over the sweater hood (um, no, it wasn't cold at all, ha!), AND what you can't see- her beloved sparkle flip flops!  =)

Apparently this is the latest and greatest trend for a festive night in the backyard making these...

And then the camera was promptly put away because roaring fire and crazy-excited boys...well, I think you get it!

Happy Friday!!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

BEST DAY EVER...Gone Terribly Wrong

This is probably going to be long, knowing me. I am still so upset I waver between crying fits and spitting nails.

84 degrees.

That's what the thermostat in my bedroom read yesterday at 4:38 am. Needless to say, peaceful sleeping had not been in the cards. And I was too groggy and sticky to think well enough to work on my last chapter- that's never a very good start to the day.

The forecast called for more heat and humidity throughout the day. Awesome. Jonah and I dropped off the youngest two for VBS while Ethan stayed home to mow the lawn. (All by himself- I'm still not used to that. And the neighbors hire him out, too!) We wanted to surprise Dad.

I decided we were going to the beach, even if we couldn't leave until after noon. Jonah and I zipped through the grocery store, and I tell you, I put so many things in that cart that I never buy! I don't know what got into me! But Jonah sure wasn't complaining!  =)

I hurriedly made lunch and packed snacks and drinks while trying to clean up a bit at the same time. Fail! The kitchen was rather disastrous by the time I got done- that's never a fun thing to come home to, is it? I think the heat had already begun to fry my brain. I know AC is pretty standard in other parts of the country, but not here where are summers are relatively short- it makes days like those especially sticky!

Everyone was enjoying the "car picnic" in a shady spot in the parking lot before we took off for the beach. The kids had had a fun morning at VBS, too- Caleb said a boy teased him yesterday. Hmpf!

Fast forward an hour and twenty minutes...we finally found a parking spot, emptied the van, plugged the meter and made our way to the sand. From here on out, I found myself thinking, "This is the best day we have had in a long time!" We even found a ton of little hermit crabs- I have never seen those on the beach before, ever! So neat!

The afternoon wore on and we had even more fun! Would you believe that I did not take even one picture? Gasp! Too busy for picture taking! But it was one of those days you store away in your mind and look back on with delight- nothing "special" had happened, but it was just one of those days you know you'll remember forever! Best day ever! And it wasn't over...Bill was grilling dinner for us, and he had gotten the 2nd Harry Potter movie from the library- this was sure to be a perfect ending to our perfect day!

So, the bright yellow envelope tacked under my wiper was not a very welcome sight, especially since I had just put in 8 quarters within the last 90 minutes. I honestly have no idea what happened! We should've had a full 2 hours...only we somehow didn't.

I was so disappointed and annoyed. And mad! I had chosen this farther-away beach to avoid the stiff $18 dollar parking fees at some of the other ones. Guess that didn't matter after all.

I phoned Bill to let him know we were leaving, and before I could even tell him about the ticket, he was ranting about the neighbors in the woods behind us having put up big orange and black NO TRESPASSING signs on our trees again. Trees that we look at out every window in the back of our home. Lovely. I was about to snap, so I muttered a quick goodbye, fighting tears the whole way. The kids already knew I was upset, but I was trying so hard not to ruin their fun day like that.

Then there was traffic. Lots of traffic. And inconsiderate drivers. Not too much fun.

By the time I pulled into our driveway more than an hour and a half later, I had decided that all of us were going to pay our neighbors a visit and ask what exactly we have done over the past nine years to warrant such hateful behavior. (This has been an on-going thing from them- signs, spray painting the trees that face our backyard, etc...) Silly me thought they might actually soften a bit when they actually saw us- they've never come to talk to us face to face, just done all that stuff. Well, technically, when I was hugely pregnant with Caleb, new to this area and neighborhood and didn't know anybody, one afternoon I came home with the boys to find this strange man lurking on the top of our hill in the backyard. I sent the boys inside and went to find out what was going on. You know what this guy said to me? Never met me before, he's wearing a tank top and has a beer in his hand, and says that he can do whatever he wants because he is on his land. No name, no "nice to meet you," no "Can we talk about something....?" Just intimidation and rudeness. Gave me a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach back then, and it does now, too. I never knew what prompted such behavior from him in the first place, other than the fact that he hated this neighborhood being built. Not much I can do about that, mister. But this is our home. We do not go out of our way to be miserable neighbors with anyone.

I don't think I'm going to get into the gory details, but believe me when I say, there is not a soft bone in the wife's body. You can imagine how well a conversation (if that's what you can call it) is going to go when someone refers to your children as "your boys... those boys of yours...." with the nastiest, most spiteful sounding voice I think I've ever heard. No, it did not go well. This woman seems like a score keeper, but the most dangerous kind- she wasn't interested in discussing anything because she already knew she was right, about everything. The problems she was spewing about were things that happened the very first year we moved here- and she said I argued with her husband over property lines...the story I wrote about above. Maybe she is the type to let something simmer and fester so long the actual truth inevitably gets lost and distorted somewhere along the way.

The "conversation" got more and more heated. By this point, the husband had led Bill and the boys to "all the damage" they had done to their property (yes, technically it is) in the middle of the woods, nowhere near their yard or home. They dug a hole. To trap animals.

Wow. Really? I guess I just could not understand why they would not come speak directly to us about this if they had a problem. (There are also several walking trails throughout these woods that have been here for decades, according to other neighbors, as well as snowmobile trails. Many people hike through there.) But instead, these people stew and simmer and just plain behave badly. We would not have given the boys permission to dig that hole, and we intend to have them fill it in. Problem solved. But we never knew about it until yesterday, after all this.

Meanwhile, Isabelle had gotten scared by the woman (and yes, she is a Mom herself), so I simply turned to leave. What more can you say to someone who is so dead-set against you?  It made me so upset for my children, for them to see someone who is supposed to be mature and considerate and honest, lashing out against us, them, for things that we were being accused of that we have never done. It is just about the worst feeling in the world.

Then she screamed a swear at me. In front of my little girl. I don't know about you, but anytime someone directs foul language at me, it really gets to me. It's like the lowest of the low. Maybe I'm just super sensitive to it, I don't know. It isn't like that happens often, but when it does, it just kills me. I can't really imagine what goes through someone's mind who would say something like that to another human being.

And she said it in front of my daughter. It was a strange, instant switch from being mortified to being so angry and disgusted! I don't really remember what I said, but I remember that pounding in my heart and that horrible sickening feeling in my stomach because I have it right now as I think about the whole thing. I told her she should be ashamed of herself. It fell on deaf ears and what seems like a very hard heart.

But the truth is, I know nothing about that woman. And while it is easy to judge, she has a whole life story that makes her the way she is, and maybe it's filled with tragedy and sadness- I don't know. But I do know that I don't want to be the type of person who enjoys provoking others or takes delight in intimidating and mistreating people. 

There's other stuff too, and while my pride would just love to write it all down, what good would that do? There's private stuff as well, painful things that threaten to undo me and overwhelm me like nothing else can.

So now I will always remember this day, but it won't be the way I would like to. Life can be so hard.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage. Wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14"
As quoted by Caleb beside me just now.  =)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Livin'

We had a pretty low-key weekend but it was nice. For the most part. For every fun thing there's always some meltdown or other unwanted something or other to be dealt with. I think it's wearing me out...not like the heat doesn't do a good enough job of that!

I find myself still searching for that balance I mentioned in another post. I'll probably get it figured out about a week after school starts up in the fall. For now, we'll keep going to the pool down the road. And eat ice cream and chocolate chip Eggo waffles for lunch like we did today- that always helps!  :)

this was taken the night Daddy took her out for a special date!

Here are some funny pictures from the other day...
 he was helping my Dad chop and stack wood...can you see all that DIRT? HA

 Isabelle gets the biggest charge out cubes in her drink, ha! Such a funny little girl!

 yup, it's her "date" dress- she begged me to wear it the next day...why not?
she's asking us to check out her "big musshels" here

of course we had to check out those big muscles, too!

We were able to finish up a couple house things over the weekend. That always feels good! The to-do list was seeming a little overwhelming...well, truthfully, it still feels overwhelming, but you do what you can.

The boys got to watch Harry Potter (finally!) on Saturday afternoon, so I decided that would be the perfect time to have a little girl time with Isabelle. I know I take my sweet daughter for granted, and I forget how hard we fought for her. I want to cherish every moment with my little girl before it's all gone. As it is, I absolutely cannot believe I have a son going into the 7th grade this year!

 first we did our nails- pink sparkles please!

then onto the hair- just like when I was a little up in sponge rollers for church the next morning  =)

 I think she looks so beautiful here! And look at those bouncy curls!

she helped me make these turkey cheese roll-ups, too...YUM!

More science fun...

A favorite way to beat the heat...

There's a lot of stuff on my mind these days. I've been praying a lot, but everything still feels unsettled, which of course makes me anxious. It isn't that I think God's presence has left me. I know it hasn't, but I just don't feel it. That makes everything harder. I would be wise to remember that there are many, many others who have suffered and continue to suffer things far greater than what I've endured.

He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
Proverbs 21:21

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
Psalm 86:11

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