A cruise-worthy skirt

The Froo & Boo family is going on a Caribbean cruise! We will be celebrating a very special birthday, together with the hubs’ family.
Cruise-worthy skirt
I have been holding onto this fabric for way too long, hoping that it would magically turn into an amazing dress. But I’ve learned that the more you wait, the more things change, then eventually, you change your mind altogether. So now that my mind’s been changed, I need to act on it before it changes again.

Even though I was really excited to have a dress covered with anchors, I decided that the fabric would work better as a skirt. I first found this skirt here and knew I had to make one. Then I found Noodlehead’s skirt sew-along with step-by-step photos so I had no excuses! I got the pattern (Simplicity 2226) on sale for $1.99 at Fabricland a couple of years ago. I am really trying to get all of the projects I’ve planned completed at the beginning of this year, before I start new ones.

I love how it turned out! I used the fabric before in my fabric covered button magnets. It’s from Dear Stella Anchors Away–perfect for a cruise!
Cruise-worthy skirt
I also added a sash in the contrasting white/blue anchors print fabric.
Cruise-worthy skirt Cruise-worthy skirt
I made it in size 8 and when I tried it on, I could hardly breathe with the zipper fully closed. That was on February 5. The following day, I started the 30 Day Shred. I set my iPhone alarm every night and since then, I’ve only missed a couple of days. At first, I thought I was going to die. I was also doing yoga once a week, so I was starting to feel pretty good. Here’s the strange thing: after 3 weeks, I haven’t lost any weight. In fact, I think I’ve gained several pounds. Whaaaat?? I feel stronger and I’m eating healthy meals–the only possible explanation is that the squishy stuff surrounding my mid-section is utterly unimpressed with my efforts. So I’ve resorted to wearing Spanx. How embarrassing:
Cruise-worthy skirt
I’m trying to figure out which pairs of shoes are essential to pack. I’m really digging the pink suede oxfords I recently bought at Nordstrom–I try to wear them with everything.
Cruise-worthy skirt
There are a couple other handmade garments that I am packing for the cruise:
Clothing for the cruise
1. A dress (Simplicity 2584, now out-of-print) I made years ago, shortly after Froo was born. I thought sizing up would do the trick, but it was the first garment I had sewn for myself in a really long time and I didn’t prewash my cotton. I was horrified when I couldn’t zip it up from its lowest point. It finally fits! I think it’ll look good at the beach over a bathing suit. This fabric was also used for Froo’s birthday quiet book. After much more experience with buying fabric, I’ve learned that there is a huge variation in quality, even with quilting fabric. This one is covered with a tiny white floral print and the quality is sub-par with stiff cotton.
Cynthia Rowley - Simplicity 2584
2. A Shearwater Kaftan shirt. I feel a little embarrassed that I copied the look on the pattern cover by using the exact same Nani Iro fabric in double-gauze, but I love this shirt. I wore it on the cruise we went on last winter. I also cut the neck opening on the back of the shirt by mistake, so I had to stitch it together with the bias-binding. Oops. I can’t believe how much Froo has grown!
Shearwater Kaftan
I also like this one tucked into my jeans with a fun belt:
Shearwater Kaftan
3. A Wiksten tank. I’m not sure about using quilting fabric for this top–it would work much better with a lightweight fabric, such as cotton voile or double-gauze. Since there are no darts at the bust, the fabric doesn’t drape very well and hangs awkwardly. I was thinking of making it again while slimming down the sides, but it’s super comfortable and hides the squishy bits just fine. The fabric is from the Melrose collection by Red Rooster. This one is really soft and the print quality is excellent.
Wiksten tank
4. Finally, my favourite Wiksten tova, blogged here. This photo was taken last November when we stopped at Harris Ranch for lunch on our way down to Disneyland. Nani Iro double-gauze is becoming my favourite fabric when it comes to sewing for myself.
Wiksten Tova
I’m really excited about spending time with my family and the hubs’ family on our cruise this year. We had so much fun last year, that we just had to book it again this year. Little Boo has probably transformed the most:
Boo on a cruise
He’s still full of trouble, that one. Last night, I had taken off the sewing machine foot to stitch a button and left the foot beside the machine. This morning, Boo ran to me and handed me the foot and said, “Uh oh, broken. Sorry.” He had the guiltiest look on his face. Even though he didn’t break it, I put him in the timeout corner, where Froo was already serving time. I could hear them giggling with each other, but let them hang out there for awhile before walking towards them. They both went really quiet. I sat across from them and the first person to make eye-contact and break the silence was Froo, with, “Sorry mommy.” Then Boo chimes in, “So-zee! Mommy!” There were stern reminders, more apologies, lots of hugs and kisses–but inside, I wanted to laugh at my darling poo-heads. They crack me up.
Froo & Boo in timeout

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Kitchen chair makeover

Kitchen Chair Makeover
We have had our kitchen chairs since the hubs and I got married. They were handed down to us by my in-laws’ friends. A year after using them, I bought fabric and “reupholstered” them–just stapling the new fabric over the old.

That was 6 years ago. Now we have 2 kids–the chairs are super icky and gross. It’s embarrassing to show you photos so I will show you one taken last summer when they weren’t as bad. Boo’s chair with the booster seat attached is particularly yucky. Yikes. I was going to undertake this project last summer, then summer passed, but then I had a lightbulb moment when I realized that it is always sunny here and I can paint in the middle of winter!
Kitchen Chair Makeover
I sometimes wish we could buy new chairs, but these ones are still really comfy and sturdy so the kids won’t teeter off them. So I did some Internet research to find out how to paint over them and then I chose the most relaxing shade of pale minty aqua that made me happy.
Kitchen Chair Makeover
I also decided on laminate fabric that is easy to clean and definitely easy on the eyes. I love this print by Jessica Jones’ line, Outside Oslo, Tulip in Dawn. I purchased the fabric here.
Kitchen Chair Makeover
This was a time-consuming project–the painting was definitely a process. The first step was to take the chairs into the garage and remove all the gunky parts stuck on the chairs. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser worked really well for this. I was lucky enough to have Froo as an assistant. I didn’t have any rubber gloves for her small hands so she wore a pair of disposable kitchen gloves. After using various cleaning products, Froo & I hosed the chairs down and let them dry in the sun. I looked the chairs over and decided that they didn’t need any sanding prior to spray painting the primer.

Then I stacked each chair onto little water bottle and milk jug caps with newspaper underneath. This helped with painting all the way to the bottom of the legs without having the newspaper stick to the paint.
Kitchen Chair Makeover
I sprayed each chair with primer. I had no idea how much I would need so I only bought one can. It turns out that you need quite a bit–almost one can per chair–so I had to buy another 3 cans. I had the chairs near the open garage door, but spray primer releases a lot of particles into the air and covered the entire garage floor with a layer of paint dust. I should have worn a mask, I had hardened white paint boogers at the end of the day. Ewww…
Kitchen Chair Makeover
Then I painted the first layer of paint. I used a slanted 1 1/2″ inch nylon brush and found that the coverage was nicer when I painted the legs with a sideways left-to-right motion, rather than an up-and-down motion. I also learned that it’s a slooooow process–there are no shortcuts. I tried to get a huge glob of paint and swish it around with my brush, but that took more time and effort to spread the paint evenly without dripping. It’s more effective to use thin layers of paint and slowly cover a tiny area at a time.

The paint is water-based and dries to a hard shellac finish so it requires 16 hours to cure between coats and 3+ days to fully cure before using. The second coat of paint–I am loving this colour!
Kitchen Chair Makeover
After 2 coats of paint and 3 days of drying, I added a layer of clear topcoat. I used a sponge brush and let the chairs dry for another day. The chairs look a different shade of aqua in different lighting.
Kitchen Chair Makeover
Now for the seats: I pinned this as reference to reupholster the chairs but I didn’t want to go through the trouble of changing the foam. Instead, I uncovered the top layer of fabric, then stapled batting over the seat, then stapled my new laminate fabric over the seat.
Kitchen Chair Makeover
The hubs helped me out because I wanted all of the flowers to line up properly. We stapled the first seat with the flowers upside-down. It really bothered me, but the hubs didn’t want to redo it–instead, he said we should just keep it for Boo’s chair with his booster seat on top. I am trying to maintain a Yoda-like attitude: “Upside-down it matters not. Much to learn, you have. Learn to see as the Force sees, you must. Achieve zen like me, you will.”
Kitchen Chair Makeover
Anyhoo, the chairs have finally made their way back into the kitchen:
Kitchen Chair MakeoverKitchen Chair Makeover
Kitchen Chair Makeover
No more gunky bits and stains! The laminate is still comfy with the extra batting, although not as soft as uncoated fabric. The trade-off of having wipeable unstained chairs is soooo worth it. The colour and floral print instantly brighten up the kitchen. Now I want to paint the kitchen table to match, but I’m not sure how we would manage without a table for a week.

Matching polka dots! Totally unintentional… just my clothing style transferring into my furniture style.
Kitchen Chair Makeover
I’m surprised that I actually went through with this project and completed it, albeit, half a year later than intended. Nothing like having your hubs’ parents & brother stay over as house guests to get motivated!
Kitchen Chair Makeover
The little dimsum bamboo steamer in the centre of our table is our wedding favour. They contained Hershey Kisses, but have long since been eaten. Just a little reminder of our lovely wedding as we sit together as a family everyday.
Kitchen Chair Makeover

Sewing for the hubs for Valentine’s day

Happy Valentine's Day
I have never sewn for my hubs before. I have mended clothing for him, but sewing and mending are completely different! I love to sew because I want to create clothing based on really great design that inspires me or from designs that I think up in my head. Mending clothing is grunt work that takes time away from the creative process. If I were to explain it to the hubs, I would tell him that sewing to create something new is like the process of buying a new car: all the planning involved with choosing colours and options, going for test drives and finally purchasing and driving a brand new car. Yay! Mending is like taking your car in for service because there is a gnarly dent in the bumper or something fails. Yuck.

For Valentine’s day, I made the hubs a pair of pajama pants. The hubs is very particular about his pajama pants: they must have pockets, must be lightweight cotton, not flannel, no drawstring, long enough for his legs without shrinking, with boring colours and if adventurous, maybe plaids. The problem with having a tall husband is that eventually, all pants will shrink and weirdly enough, his pant pockets will get caught on door handles and rip his pants. I have mended several pairs of his pajama pants.
Pajama pants for the hubs
I found this pattern and fabric at Fabric Outlet in San Francisco. The fabric is a light-weight charcoal 100% woven cotton chambray for shirting. After washing the fabric, it came out super soft. At 25% off, it was about $5/yard. The great thing about Fabric Outlet is that it is one block away from Grand Mission Donuts & Bakery. A couple of Saturdays ago, I went to San Francisco by myself and picked up some donuts after going to the Fabric Outlet. The soft, yummy treats sustained my energy to visit 3 more fabric shops, then end up in Union Square for some more shopping. Aside from driving in the city, it was a fabulous day-turned-evening exploring the city’s eclectic mix of fabric shops.

My first experience with sewing men’s clothing? Hmmm…
Pajama pants for the hubs
Soooo huge, right?? Nothing like the fit on the model on the pattern cover. I made them in XL because that’s what the hubs always wears in pajama pants. You could fit him and hide both Froo & Boo in each pant-leg.
Pajama pants for the hubs
The pattern didn’t have any pockets, so I added them myself by tracing the pockets from his current pajama pants and using this tutorial. It’s the same fabric that I used for the lining in Froo’s Burberry-Inspired School Coat and the placket inside her Kate Middleton Military Coat. I used the bar tack stitch from my sewing machine to secure the top and bottom of the pockets.
Pajama pants for the hubs
I also added a little Froo & Boo tag to the back of the waistband so the hubs knows the front from back.
Pajama pants for the hubs
But do you want to know the best part about making these pants? I got to test-drive my new serger! I am not sure why I waited so long before getting one–it’s pretty amazing. It hasn’t been changed from its factory settings yet, but I think Boo might have turned some dials when I wasn’t looking.
Pajama pants for the hubs
Pajama pants for the hubs
The dilemma… the pants have been made. The pants are huge. Now I have to mend them to fit the hubs? I would never have the patience to pick out all the serged seams. However, the serger comes with a cutting blade–I realized that I could serge the inside pant legs in one go, leaving the outside seams with pockets as they are. So I pinned and marked 2″ from the middle crotch seam and drew a straight line to the bottom of each pant-leg opening. Then I used the line as a guide to serge the inside pant seams. Et voila!

Version 2.0 of the hubs’ pajama pants. Much better. Maybe it’s better because they are on the hubs. I think he’s happy with them.
Pajama pants for the hubs
I had to give the hubs his Valentine’s gift early because he almost bought a pair of pajama pants when we went shopping and seemed upset that I wouldn’t let him buy them. He was genuinely surprised that I sewed something for him–it once took me a year to stitch a button for him. Oops.

This year, the hubs has been incredibly thoughtful with my gifts. He usually ignores Valentine’s day, hoping I would too (ha!), but Froo gets really excited about Valentine’s day and wouldn’t let any of us forget it. I recently emailed him a link to David Lebovitz’s blog post on Dandelion chocolate in San Francisco. Yesterday, this showed up in the mail:
Valentine's Day
The packaging is exquisite. I can’t wait to try it.

But that’s not all, the hubs also surprised me with something he had designed on his own. I was really shocked. When we were dating, my nickname for him was “Tin Man” so I was forewarned. I was worried that Froo might be half-robot when she said to me, “Mommy, I can feel my heart beeping.”

My very own plaque:
Valentine's Day
We may overdose on chocolate today, but we can never overdose on love. Wishing you an overdose of love in your heart for yourself and your loved ones. Happy Valentine’s day!

Homemade Valentine's Day Cards for Froo's preschool friends

Homemade Valentine’s Day Cards for Froo’s preschool friends

This boy…

Boy Cushions
This boy is being sleep-trained for the first time in his life. Boo was a terrible newborn sleeper–he spent most of his early months attached to me in his moby wrap. It was the only way I could get anything done. Then at around 3 months, I was able to get him asleep in his crib by himself. From 6 months on, the hubs and I would take turns with his bedtime routine and place him in his crib, where he would wave “bye-bye” to us… with a huge smile. From 6 to 19 months, we lived in sleep bliss. Boo would sleep from 7:30 pm to 7:30 am. He napped for 2-3 hours. Oh sigh.

Last December, at 20 months, something changed. Boo would wake up screaming several times in the middle of the night and need long cuddles until he fell back asleep. Then we spent the last half of December in Vancouver–where his sleep was “horridable” (our Frenglish for Nasty McNastersons). We returned to the SF bay area at the beginning of January hoping that his sleep would return to normal. Umm… We got into this horridable routine of giving him cuddles until he fell asleep. Sometimes it took 10 minutes, sometimes it took over an hour. The hubs and I would take turns falling asleep with him at 7:30 pm and transferring him to his crib when he was dead asleep. If he even detected the slightest movement, he would cry, “No, no, no!”.

Needless to say, I am exhausted. Since I have short “naps” in the evening, I have a hard time falling asleep at night, which results in zombie-mommy mornings, which repeats into a horridable cycle.

Long backstory to explain my latest sewing project. Boy cushions. For the small sofa bed in Boo’s room. Because it gets uncomfortable to hold a 30+ pound boy in your arms, sitting on a sofa for so long. Because I can’t focus on anything more complex. Eventually, the hubs would fall asleep on the ground with Boo next to him, but I preferred slouching into the sofa with Boo in my arms, leaning onto the arm of the sofa. I kept thinking it would be more comfortable with more cushions.

So I made these:
Boy Cushions Boy Cushions
From a remnant piece of home decor weight fabric from Britex in San Francisco. Britex is an AMAZING fabric store–I spent nearly 2 hours there, petting the gorgeous selection of fabric and feasting my eyes on the prettiest lace trims, ribbons and buttons. It’s the kind of fabric store that would supply you with everything you need to make something truly special. I love the dump truck print–it’s clearly “boy” without being cheesy. The navy matches the sofa really well and the olive green adds a nice contrast.

I added navy piping because piping makes cushions so much better.
Boy Cushions
I am getting better at installing invisible zippers! You can see my first attempt here.
Boy Cushions Boy Cushions
The new cushions don’t match the blue & white toile cushion covers that we purchased with the sofa bed, but I don’t think Boo minds much. Oh dear, I didn’t realize that I matched Froo & Boo with the furniture today.
Boy Cushions
Several days ago, while I was putting Boo down to sleep, I realized how crazy our night-time routine had become because I thought I was going crazy myself. This is what I told Boo, “Mommy’s going to put you in your crib. I’ll stay here with you, but if you cry, mommy is going to leave.” Boo cried. I left. He cried for 20 minutes. The next day, he cried for 5 minutes. The day after, we had a really late night celebrating Chinese New Year, so that doesn’t count, but I am aiming for a smile and a kiss by next week.

Incidentally, my sister went through something very similar with her son. Her “internet research” revealed that it’s a common “thing” for boys between 20-24 months to experience a sudden change in their sleep habit. My friend’s son, who is only 10 days younger than Boo, mirrored everything Boo was going through and it was comforting sending and receiving email updates on our sleep troubles. But I don’t think it’s limited to just boys. I remember Froo going through something similar when she was about 22-months old. She needed to sleep with her door open. We lived in a small condo at the time, so the hubs and I would turn off all the lights in our home and watch tv with earphones attached to a long extension cord. Good times.

The pillow forms for the new boy cushions used to be in a pair of silk cushion covers I bought in India. They are now worn thin, ripped and stained. In hindsight, silk cushions in a nursery is not very practical. This is a picture a photographer took of Froo when she was 8 days old:
Froo newborn photo
I never thought I would be one to write, “they grow so fast”, but I guess I just did. Although I want Boo to quickly grow out of this terrible sleeping phase, I want him to slow down, just a bit, so I can enjoy the fact that he gives me the world’s best cuddles.