Monday, July 30, 2012

Pass or Fail?

Did you hear?  Jason passed CFA II with flying colors!  The average person studies 300 hrs for these, and still the passing rate for level II this year was only 42%.  Yuck.  The test-takers say that level I is hard because its your first time, level II is hard because its just really hard, and level III is hard because you're burned out from studying for three years.  (J plans on registering for level III next week.  That means no family weddings on June 1st 2013, ok?!)   Way to go, Idaho!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olay Olympics!

Why do I have no recollection of watching a single event of the last summer olympics?  Oh ya.
Aug 1: first date with Jason Millar
Aug 8: opening ceremonies
Aug 24: closing ceremonies
Sept 5: Jason proposes
Its because we were falling in love :) and sort of planning our wedding, on top of rehearsing for Beauty & the Beast every night and setting up my classroom for my first year of teaching.  Crazy.  
But this year, bring on the Olympics!!

 The cute Mackay family wore matching olympic shirts!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Swell Hotel

My favorite kind of vacation: chillin in a hotel for the weekend.  Thank you, Groupon, for yet another deal too enticing to pass up.  We got pizza, swam, watched movies, stayed up way too late, everyone slept in, and chowed down on a delightful breakfast.
 First ever Saturday morning cartoons :)
 Parley was so chill in the pool!  But then, nothing in life has really gotten him frazzled yet.  He totally goes with the flow.  Lincoln ate more food than I have ever seen him eat before in one sitting.  (This was his first plate) French toast, eggs, bacon, sausage, a bowl of cereal, two muffins, and a carton of milk.  Atta boy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

6 in 6 for 16 - JULY

My inspiration for the skirt came from this wedding dress picture I tore out of a bridal magazine (4 years ago?) and had taped on my inspiration wall.  I made a 6-gore skirt with godets, then sewed on rows and rows of bias-cut strips.  I think I used all three yards--it was so heavy!  Its currently for sale on eBay to pay for fabric for the my next dress.

The navy tube top was the easiest thing I've ever made.  I cut it to my circumference, sewed up the sides, and gathered the seam.  I didn't even finish the edges on top or bottom b/c they just rolled up underneath.  Easy peasy.
I found this lacy table runner at my favorite junk pit, Dollar-a-Pound.  Since I paid $1 for my pound of clothes, I figure this cost mere pennies?  A dime?

I guess I could count Parley's sailor suit and hat for my "August" outfit :) but I cheated and used patterns: McCalls 6575 and 4236.  (Update: just sold the suit on Etsy for $40)

More pictures of our outfits can be found here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

6 in 6 for 16 - JUNE

Time for a challenge!  In honor of the new Project Runway season starting up this week, I'm going to see if I can make an original outfit (dresses or seperates) each month for six months (starting last month) -- designed, materials bought, sewn, photographed, and blogged -- for an average of $16 each month.   
Who's with me?!

More details on this dress which you've already seen can be found here.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Come Sail Away

 There are few things I get more excited about in life than family photoshoots!  
Thank you thank you to Leilani Hall (with an assist from Emily!) for these gems.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cutey Buns

Today was take-treats-to-work-day again for Jason.  I was looking for a quicker cinnamon roll recipe and found this one for cake mix cinnamon rolls:
 I wondered what would happen if I used a devils food cake mix instead of a white.  
Behold: chocolate cinnamon rolls!
You may have wondered how my kids beef up so nicely...:) Parley is actually topping Lincoln in all his past height and weight stats for his age.  Watch out big brother!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Last weekend I took an 18-hr "mom-cation" to NYC!  Big shout out to Jason for watching the boys and letting me have a most wonderful personal day.  I went crazy and wore my hair down with white shorts I whipped up the night before.
 I somehow found a $20 ticket to the last weekend of Anything Goes before they go on tour!  The show was just sparkling, fantastic in every way.  I think I remember my grandma telling me how she plans on spending her children's inheritance on shows :) I knew I was named after her for a reason.
So I've been dying to step inside Mood.  As I'm scarfing down a muffin and trying to find this building, I look up and definitely see Anthony Ryan from Season 9 of Project Runway walk past me.  To my right I see all these camera men taking shoppers away in vans...hmmm...are we not filming for the next Project Runway season?!   Inside the building, we were corralled into an elevator and heard a man on a headset say, "we have the van ready for you".  Tim Gunn coming down the other elevator, anyone?  I found some beauuuutiful cotton raschel knit that is going to be something fabulous and soon as I am brave enough to cut it, then down the street I haggled with a Peruvian for some Italian linen.  In all, best idea ever.  The next time anyone wants to meet in NYC for a day, I'm only a bus ride away!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


It's true.  Jason is writing a blog post.  Not only that, but it's a 'crafty' post.  The problem is, 'crafty' doesn't tend to be a manly word, so we're going to say this is a 'handy' post.

For Father's Day, Camille gave me permission to go purchase a few tools to put together a toddler bed.  I was pretty excited, because I think power tools are the epitome of manliness, and marks the transition from boy to man.  It's not when you go on a mission, get married, get a job, or have kids.  It's when you get your first power tool (other than a drill).  (My dad was a contractor, so he had a whole shop of tools.  I guess that makes him the embodiment of manliness.)

I found a plan on, a website featuring free do-it-yourself plans for home furniture and other projects.  After selecting a fairly simple bed for my initiation into manhood, I headed to Home Depot with a shopping list of items to purchase.  With my power tool allowance, I purchased the Ryobi 6.1 Amp Variable Speed Orbital Jigsaw.  This wasn't the cheapest saw, but by no means the most expensive.  I've decided, that it's generally a good idea to opt out of the cheapest option in favor of the second or third cheapest. This was probably the third cheapest of a few dozen saws to choose from.  By doing so, you get several more features for not much more $$$.  There seemed to be a fairly steep curve of prices, with the cheapest saws starting at about $30, and ranging up to more than $150.  I have been quite satisfied with my selection however. 

I made the rest of my purchases and went home with a car full of wood, tools, and other overhead items, such as screws, wood filler, etc.  

Learning to use a jig saw took a little bit of trial and error, but I figured out a few tricks to make it easier.  After cutting the boards into correct sized pieces, I started working on the head board.  I love walking into the room where I worked on this because it always smelled like sawdust, which constantly reminded me of my dad.  I bought several different types of clamps to find out what worked best. I took those that I didn't like back after I finished the project. I loved these Irwin Quick Grip clamps.  My dad used them all the time in his work. 

This illustrates the beauty of the jig saw.  The ability to make curved cuts and its relative ease of use make it an ideal first saw.  The headboard was my favorite part, mostly because it turned out nicer than I thought it would, and also because I got to use the jig saw to its utmost ability.  The back paneling is an Unfinished Wood Wall Wainscoting Panel by EverTrue, from Lowes for $13.

The main question I had when I started the project was what the best way was to attach the wood at the joints.  I didn't take a very sophisticated approach, and is probably not very professional. I drilled pocket holes at each of the joints with a countersink drill bit, and filled in the holes with wood filler after I'd drilled in the screws.  This type of joint is pretty strong, though leaves obvious marks if you don't fill in the holes.  I unfortunately broke my new countersink drill bit on literally the last hole I had to drill.

The thing I love about making things like this is the satisfaction of seeing the project all along the way, transforming it from the raw materials into the finished product. I also love that my little boys will be using this for many years to come and makes it well worth the time, effort, blood and sweat.

I stained the bed with Minwax Red Oak Wood Finish. I first bought Golden Pecan, but it turned out lighter than what showed on the can. I went back and got the Red Oak, which turned out much darker than I wanted. I didn't want to go back to Home Depot again though, so I decided it was fine.  To top it off, I covered everything with 3 coats of Minwax Semi-gloss Polyurethane finish to make it look a little shiny and protect it from crazy little boys for several years to come.

I'm very happy with how it turned out.  Don't look too closely though, or else you'll probably find evidence of my amateur mad skillz.  Even though it turned out darker than I wanted, it matches well with one of Lincoln's quilts, and has inspired Camille design our toddler room to have a car theme. The quilt was a gift from my wonderfully talented sister Kati from The Blue Chair.  Thanks Kati!

The plan from Ana-White was initially inspired by a toddler bed from Pottery Barn .  

Total cost of bed (not counting cost of tools):
-Wood: $40
-Headboard panel: $13
-1 and 1/2 box of screws: $7.50
-Half a quart of Red Oak Minwax Wood Finish: $3.50
-1/5th quart of Semigloss Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane: $2.00
-Sandpaper: $1.50
-Busted Countersink Drill Bit: $3.50
-Other Overhead items (glue and filler): $0.50

Total Cost: $71.50

Cost of Pottery Barn Equivalent: $249.99

All in all, this was a very fun project, and satisfied the requirements for my induction into manhood.  I've learned so much and look forward to working on more projects like it in the future.