Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wear Your Baby Wednesday - Sew Your Own Ring Sling!!

If you are handy with a sewing machine, there is no doubt in my mind that you can sew your own ring sling!

Back when I dyed my woven wrap I mentioned that I planned to make half of it into a ring sling!  Well, that sling was a gift for my friend Kelley.  Now that her shower has happened, I can share a tutorial on how to sew a ring sling.

If you are considering making a selling ring slings as an at-home business please do your research first!  There have been recent updates in the laws surrounding home made baby carrier businesses, and it actually quite difficult and expensive to start it should be since you would be making something that is literally carrying babies!  A lot of information can be found here.  Obviously making slings for yourself or as gifts for your friends is not included in any of that.

On that same note, if you do choose to start a carrier business, I am not giving you permission to re-create this exact sling and sell it as your own.  At one point I was actually making and selling ring slings and I spent a lot of time creating this "shoulder style" so that I could have a unique product, and I encourage you to do the same thing.  Obviously, I have no problem with people making these slings for personal use though, or else I wouldn't be sharing at all!  If you would like to re-blog this tutorial, please don't forget to give credit where credit is due!!!


  • Fabric - you will need however long you would like the sling plus 6 inches.  It will need to be between 20 and 30 inches wide.  Skinnier slings are easier to adjust and work great for little babies, but as your baby quickly turns into a toddler you'll appreciate the extra width.  I could make an entire post dedicated to safe fabrics to use for babywearing...instead, I'll keep it simple.  Either use a woven wrap, 100% linen fabric, or Osnaburg.  Any fabric store should have a linen section and you can usually find osnaburg with the utility fabrics.  Do not use "quilting cotton" or "unnatural" (such as polyester) blend fabrics!  They are not suitable for baby carriers.
  • Thread - you need to use a high quality, polyester (which is funny, since you shouldn't use polyester fabric for the body of the sling) thread.  I am a huge fan of Gutermann Thread.
  • Rings - I only use aluminum rings purchased from  They are made specifically for babywearing and have the highest standard of quality testing.  For the slings that I make you'll need a size large set of rings (each sling uses two rings).  Do not use craft rings that can be found at fabric stores - they are not meant to be used with baby carriers and are not safe
No matter what, wash and dry your fabric before you start to pre-shrink it.  If you are using store bought fabric you will have to hem the edges first; if you're using a woven wrap it will already be hemmed.  

Next fold the fabric in half the long way.  At the end where you will be sewing the rings, measure in 1.5 inches from the folded edge and mark a 6.5 inch long line going down the sling.
Sew down that line.

Next, measure three inches out from that seam on one side of the sling and mark it.
Fold the fabric at that mark and sew another line right next to the previous seam.

Do that on the other side as well.

Fold the remaining fabric under so just a tiny bit is revealed beyond the previous fold.
Pull back your previous fold and sew down the final fold.  I try to make the seam as close to the middle of the sling as possible so you can't see it beneath the other fold.

Do the same on the other side.

Iron down your pleats...
There is a sewn box pleat in the center and two folded pleats on either side creating a perfectly symmetrical shoulder style.

Pull the fabric through the rings and pin the center of it down.  Your center seam should be aligned on either side of the rings and you pin where that seam ends.
Neatly fold in either side of the fabric going through the rings.  I do this by pushing it in with my thumb; it reminds me of doing origami, haha.

Pin down either edge making sure the edges of the fabric in front and back of the rings line up.

I start sewing with a straight stitch up as close as I can get to the rings.  Make sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

Then I do a more decorative stitch right below that.  Again, back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

Then I finish with a tight zig zag stitch.  (You guessed it...don't forget to back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam.)

If you are doing only straight stitches I recommend doing at least four rows of stitching, not three, but since I used two more "decorative" stitches this shoulder is more than secure!  But, always remember to double check the seams of your carriers on a regular basis (like I mentioned in Babywearing 102 - Babywearing Safety)!!

Et voila!  A perfectly symmetrical ring sling with both box and folded pleats that can comfortably be worn on either shoulder!

As always, if you have any questions feel free to ask!

Monday, July 29, 2013

MmmMmmMmm-Monday - French Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Filling and Buttercream Icing

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of hosting a baby shower for my very good friend Kelley.  The theme was "Oh Snap!  Kelley is Pregnant" because she is a photographer who is extremely passionate about what she does!  For the party I made a French vanilla cake with strawberry filling and buttercream icing.  It was absolutely delicious and a huge hit!  It is, by far, the best icing I have ever had in my life!
I want to apologize in advance that this is the only picture I have of the cake...isn't it cute though??

Up first, the actual cake...


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract (if you use imitation vanilla your cake will suck and you'll go to baking hell...just sayin')

Preheat your oven to 350.  This recipe makes enough batter to make two 9 inch round layers, or if you're like me and don't have a 9 inch cake pan, two 8 inch rounds plus an itty bitty 4 inch round for you and your husband to share after the party.  You can either butter your pan or use bakers spray.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside

Beat the butter for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.  If it isn't completely soft before starting you'll have to beat it for at least the full 3 minutes.  Add the sugar and beat another 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly and scraping the edges of the bowl between each addition.

Start adding the flour mixture one cup at a time and alternate with the milk (ending with the flour mixture).  Add the vanilla, mix well, and pour into the cake pans.  Do not fill the pans more than halfway or these cakes will take forever to cook!

Bake for 27-35 minutes.  The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Up next, the icing!  I'm not a huge fan of the taste of powdered sugar, and most recipes I've seen for icing use that over regular sugar.  So when I found out I could make buttercream using regular sugar and flour I was pumped.  This is seriously the most delicious icing recipe ever.  And as a sugar lover, I don't say that lightly!  I made a batch of icing, then use part of it to make the strawberry filling.


  • 7 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Strawberry Jam (to taste - I used a big old spoonful for my filling)
  • Cut up strawberries (to taste)

In a small saucepan, whisk flour into cream and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens.  It will be the consistency of a thick pancake batter.

Remove from heat and let it cool completely.  If you don't let it cool completely it'll just turn the icing into a soupy mess once you add it to the butter!!!

While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter, sugar, and salt together until light and fluffy on medium high (about 5 minutes).

Add the vanilla to the cream mixture and then add the cream mixture to the butter mixture.

Beat the crap out of it. make look like it's separating at first, but eventually it'll look kind of like whipped cream (it took me about 5 minutes).

Remove 3/4 of the icing from the bowl and set aside.

Add the strawberry jam to the remaining 1/4 of the icing and mix well.  Taste it and decide if you want it more strawberry-y.  Like I said, a heaping spoonful was enough for my taste.  Then add the chopped up strawberries.  Be sure to taste a bite of icing that has a chunk of strawberry in it, because it is flipping delicious.

And your icing is done!!

Once your cakes have cooled completely, put the strawberry icing between the layers and ice the outside of the cake with the plain buttercream.  Then decorate however you please!!

Oh, and enjoy ferociously licking the bowl of icing after you've finished decorating your cake!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Baby Deux - 13 Weeks!

We had our first trimester nuchal translucency scan this week (you can read more what it is here)!  Everything looks wonderful and we screened negative for chromosomal abnormalities.  Screening negative doesn't mean there 100% won't be an issue, but the genetic counselor described it as a 1 in 10,000 chance but if we wanted to be positive we'd have to have an invasive procedure done.  Since the chance is so low, we're choosing to end testing there.

High five!
 This was the only profile view picture we got, baby insisted on staring at the ultrasound machine the rest of the time.
 Scary skeleton face!

Apart from that my pregnancy acne is here full force, ugh.  It's horrible.  I hate it.  I just want to peel the skin of my face off and scrub it all away then put my face back on (lovely, right?).  And I've gotten a few really intense headaches.  I've never been one to get migraines, but when people describe them, this is what I think they're describing.  It is possible to get hormone induced migraines when you're pregnant, but we're just gonna keep our fingers crossed that these suckers ease up sooner rather then later because I have a toddler to chase.  And my ears have been popping a lot.  When I was pregnant with W I had some issues with my ears and my hearing that cleared up after he was born.  Looks like I might be temporarily losing some of my hearing again.  (What?  hahaha, couldn't help myself)

And that's really it.  Sorry my updates are super boring!  But check out the bump I'm rocking already...
 We take my weekly picture on the landing in the middle of our stairs, I thought I'd try having The Sailor take some from a higher angle to see if they're more flattering or if I looked smaller.  I'm pretty sure I look the same from all angles, hahaha.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

If You Can Thread a Needle, You Can Sew a Skirt - Tutorial!

No joke y'all.  Sewing a maxi skirt might be the easiest sewing project you'll ever endeavor.  For reals...if you can thread a needle, you can sew this skirt!

All you need is a yard and a half to two yards of jersey knit fabric.  For this skirt, I used this fabric.  I always over-estimate how much fabric I'll need (and thus I have tons of scraps just waiting for me to use in projects) but I'd much rather have too much than not enough (especially at only $5.59 per yard, haha, since I got that fabric on sale).  If you're order from as long as you order at least $35 worth you get free shipping as well!  Make sure you wash and dry your fabric first to pre-shrink it.

First measure your waist where you want the skirt to sit.  Divide that number by two (write it down if you don't think you'll remember it).  Add five to that number (again, write it down if you don't think you'll remember it).  Fold your fabric in half so at least the length of your second number (waist/2 + 5) is overlapping.  Since explaining math equations isn't my forte, I made you a pretty picture.  The light green is the "wrong side" of the fabric, the dark green is the "right side" (so it's folded with the "wrong side" out):
Cut along the grey, slanted line.  Make sense?

For the length, you'll want your desired skirt length plus 8.

You'll notice I didn't account for seam allowance  in these measurements.  That's because you should be using a stretchy knit fabric so it doesn't matter.

Sew along the diagonal line you just cut.  You're like 3/4 done!

Next, with the skirt still inside out, you want to fold over four inches at the waist and pin it down.  Then, using a zig-zag stitch (so the seam can stretch a bit) sew all the way around.  This is the part of the skirt you'll fold down at the waist.
Even if you don't have a "right side" and "wrong side" to your fabric you don't want to skip this step.  If you do, the seam will be visible when you fold over the waist of the skirt.

Turn it right side out and you're done!!!  Seriously!  Since you used a knit fabric it won't fray so you don't even need to hem the bottom.  I told you, easiest skirt ever. (For the record, I wear mine with the seam going up the back.)

The first one of these I made I used 100% cotton fabric and underestimated how much it would shrink so I didn't have enough fabric to make it a full, maxi length skirt.  So, I made it a high-low hemline!  Same process, but once I made it, I put it on and marked the shortest point I would want it to be in the front then just cut out the front.

These skirts are GREAT for pregnancy, since they're stretchy, or for any time really!  So, what are you waiting for?  Go sew some maxi skirts!!

 I love this fact: since The Sailor doesn't really know how to use our DSLR (on manual at least). I have to do all the settings and hand the camera to him.  When I want more "artsy" shots (like this one with the sun shining through the tree) I have to get all the settings right, frame the shot, then have him come stand exactly where I was standing and explain to him what needs to be where in the picture.  I'm hoping he'll start catching on since it's quite a process!

Monday, July 22, 2013

MmmMmmMmm-Monday - Homemade Waffles with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

W has seriously loved me being pregnant solely for the fact that I've added a lot of variety to our breakfast menu.  I used to eat oatmeal and he would have turkey sausage and eggs almost every day.  Now all bets are off when it comes to what we'll have for breakfast because I want something different every day!  And one of our favorites has been homemade waffles!

The recipe I have created morphed out of a super complicated recipe where you were separating eggs so you can whip the white and fold them in at the end and all sorts of other time consuming (and dish dirtying) steps.  I got lazy and quickly realized it didn't matter - the waffles were just as good even if you were lazy and only wanted to dirty one bowl like me!


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 eggs

In a medium size bowl mix all the dry ingredients together.  Then add all the other ingredients and mix those in.  Waffle batter is supposed to be "lumpy" but if it's too lumpy your waffles are gross, so I like to mix everything up with a whisk to minimize the lumpiness.  Bam!  Your batter is done!  By the way - I don't measure out honey, it's too much of a pain in the ass since it sticks to measuring spoons so much.  I just eyeball it and it turns out fine.  If you're super paranoid you can try your batter and see if it needs to be sweeter.  Or if you're afraid of salmonella (damn those raw eggs) you could make a waffle and try it before adding more honey.  You'll get the hang of it eventually, I promise.

I don't have a full "waffle iron."  They're kinda expensive and they take up way too much space in our tiny kitchen so I actually have a waffle pan that I got off Zulily a while ago when they had one of their "breakfast events."  It was less than $20 and tucks away nicely with my other pans.  I was apprehensive about how I would be able to flip waffles when I ordered it but it's actually super easy...

I set the burner to medium heat and let the pan heat up before starting with my first batch.  I always rub some butter on each section of the pan.  It's non-stick, so it probably isn't necessary, but it tastes delicious.  Then, pour batter on pan...
When it's crazy bubbly flip them with a fork...
Easy peasy.

And I'm actually not a huge fan of syrup.  The only kind I like is "maple flavored syrup" also known as corn syrup that's been dyed a lovely brown color.  So instead I like my waffles with strawberries and whipped cream.  I cut up my strawberries and sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar on them and then microwave them for 20-30 seconds depending on how much I have.

Since I'm kinda a whipped cream snob I actually like to make my own.  I put the bowl and the whisk for my hand mixer in the freezer when I start making the waffle batter so it's chilled by the time I'm ready to make the whipped cream.  Then I just kinda eyeball it (sorry, not useful at all, I know).  All I put in it is whipping cream and sugar.
I start with just a little sugar and taste and add more as necessary.  Just whip it until it's the desired consistency...

Et voila!  A delicious breakfast!

W LOOOOOVES waffles...

 He shoved half a waffle in his mouth for this picture...

 Yay!  Homemade waffles are the best!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Baby Deux - 12 Weeks!

Isn't it crazy that the baby goes from approximately the size of a grape (at 9 weeks) to approximately the size of a lime (at 12 weeks) in three short weeks!?!  No wonder we're so exhausted when we're pregnant!!!

Nothing super exciting this week.  Never again will I say I'm feeling way better though (like I did last week).  I swear, as soon as that post went up I started to feel like shit.  I don't have "morning sickness,"  I'm just usually exhausted by the end of the day so as soon as I put W down for bed at like 8 I'm ready to go curl up in bed.  And if I make the mistake of going too long without eating I feel like complete death (which is what happened last week after I posted about feeling better).

So yeah, I'm still randomly really dizzy.  I was shopping Saturday morning and suddenly felt like I was having a heart attack and had to lean against my cart to chill out for a second.  My heart was pounding, my fingers swelled up, and I felt sick.  It passed pretty quickly, but I was out by myself so it was scary in the moment.

I also randomly get ravenous.  Like - eat all the food in the house right now or else I'm going to die!  Then I get full super quick and regret eating so much (whoops!).  And I'm crazy gassy (yeah, totally just admitted to the world that I'm super flatulent).  Burping, farting, it's all fair game.  Not sure if it's from what I'm eating or just part of growing another human, but it kinda sucks.  It can be uncomfortable and embarrassing.

And finally, I no longer feel exhausted, instead I just feel lazy.  I just wanna sit on my butt.  I don't want to clean.  I don't want to do laundry.  I don't particularly want to cook (but I appreciate the end results of cooking since I'm constantly starving so I force myself to do it).  I'm ready for that second trimester energy to kick in so I can deep clean my house!

Next Monday is our first trimester NT scan!  Super excited for that one; they send us to a specialist for it and the ultrasound machine they have there is way nicer than the one at the hospital on base.

How are you feeling this week?

I totally converted these pants from normal pants from Old Navy that were on clearance to maternity pants.  They're freaking awesome.  A) They were way less expensive than maternity pants.  B) They actually fit me!  So, you can look forward to a tutorial on how to do that soon!

This was on Tuesday (12 weeks 3 days) on The Sailor and my second anniversary!!  We didn't do anything all that exciting - just went to Olive Garden since I had been craving their zuppa toscana soup for a while.  But, we had some friends watch W so that in itself was exciting!  It's so weird going out and doing stuff without him!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wear Your Baby Wednesday - Babywearing 102 - Safe Babywearing!

A lot of babywearing safety is common sense, some of it is not, so I'm going to do my best to touch on all of it.  If you think I left anything out please, please, please comment so I can revise the post for future visitors and as always, if you have any questions feel free to ask.

Many babywearing "rules" are focused on making sure your baby can breath (like I said, a lot is common sense) which seems easy enough, but here are a few things to be absolutely sure of (from Babywearing International):
Make sure your baby can breathe.  Baby carriers allow parents to be hands free to do other things...but you must always remain active in caring for your child.  No baby carrier can ensure that your baby always has an open airway; that's your job.
Never allow a baby to be carried, held, or placed in such a way that his chin is curled against his chest.  This rule applies to babies being held in arms, in baby carriers, in infant car seats, or in any other kind of seat or situation.  This position can restrict the baby's ability to breathe.  Newborns lack the muscle control to open their airways.  They need good back support in carriers so that they don't slump into the chin to chest position.
Never allow a baby's head and face to be coered with fabric.  Covering a baby's head and face can cause her to "rebreathe" the same air, which is a dangerous situation.  Also, covering her head and face keeps you from being able to check on her.  Always make sure your baby has plenty of airflow.  Check on her frequently.  
And a few more hard and true rules to follow (again from Babywearing International):
Never jog, run, jump on a trampoline, or do any other activity that subjects your baby to similar shaking or bouncing.Never us a carrier when riding in a car.Use only carriers that are appropriate for your baby's age and weight.  For example, frame backpacks can be useful for hiking with older babies and toddlers but aren't appropriate for babies who can't sit unassisted for extended periods.

Now some general guidelines to follow (still from Babywearing International):
1. Inspect your carrier regularly to ensure it is sound. Check the fabric, seams, and any buckles or other fasteners. Do this every time you use it to avoid complacency. Don’t use a carrier unless it is structurally sound.
2. When using carriers out and about, check that your baby is secure by using reflective surfaces – such as car or store windows – as mirrors, by double checking the baby’s position with your hands, or by enlisting the help of another set of eyes.
I do this all the time.  I probably look like I'm checking myself in every mirror available but in reality I'm making sure W still has a good "seat."
3. If you shouldn't do it while pregnant because of an enhanced risk of falls, you shouldn't do it while carrying a baby. For example, your risk of falling increases when you climb a ladder, ride a horse, ride a bicycle, or go skating. Your risk of falling also increases on slippery surfaces like the ones you encounter when you go bowling, sailing, or spelunking. When a baby is in his mother’s womb, he has built-in protection, but a baby in arms or in a carrier does not have that protection.
4. If you should wear protective gear while doing an activity, you shouldn't do it while carrying a baby. Baby carriers do not provide hearing protection, eye protection, protection from projectiles such as rocks flung from a lawn mower, protection from fumes or dust such as occur during lawn mowing and some household cleaning tasks, or protection from falls.
5. Protect your baby from the elements. Little limbs and heads may need sun protection. Don’t dress your baby too warmly in the summer, and don’t use a baby carrier under circumstances that could cause the baby to suffer heat stress. Don’t let your baby get too cold in the winter. (There are some excellent coats and ponchos designed especially for use with baby carriers, and you can also improvise or make your own.)
6. Be aware of what your baby can reach. In particular, be aware that a baby on your back can reach things you can’t see.
The first time I was in my kitchen and W wiggled his arm out and grabbed the freezer door as I walked by we actually almost fell because he held on to it as hard as he could and I got jerked back.  I'm much more aware of stationary objects he could grab onto now.
7. Don’t put loose items in the carrier with your baby that can be choking hazards, that can poke your baby, or that can cover your baby’s face.
8. Carrying a baby in arms or in a carrier is a task for a responsible adult who can assess risk in a mature way

Are you exhausted yet?  Well, I'm not quite finished...

Positioning your baby properly in a carrier is obviously an important aspect to babywearing safety.  The Babywearer has a great guide specifically about correct position for newborns.  It has in depth descriptions as well as many photos.  If you plan on wearing your newborn I 100% recommend you go check that out!

I already mentioned this in Babywearing 101 but I figured I'd bring it up is important not to wear your baby in a narrow-based carrier (AKA a "crotch dangler") because it puts unhealthy strain on the hips of your baby.
From the Tula Baby Carrier Facebook Page
If you were to just be holding your baby, not "wearing" them.  Their legs would naturally pull up into what's known as the "m" position (with their knees above their bum) - which is how they should be supported in a carrier.
When you're learning how to use a new carrier or trying to use an existing carrier in a new way always try it at home first!  If necessary, use a spotter, or at least practice with your baby over a couch or bed.  A lot of carriers can even be tested out while sitting or kneeling so if you did have a mishap you'd already be close to the ground.

One last thing to wrap up Babywearing 102 - check for recalls on any carrier you plan on using!  One well known recall is the Infantino SlingRider which is a bag sling.  Bag slings are basically hobo style purses that you wear your kid in and they are not safe.  Stick to the types of carriers I mentioned in Babywearing 101 and double check for recalls for specific brands/models.  (If you have an Infantino SlingRider, even if you weren't the original purchaser, you can exchange it for any of the other Infantino Carriers - I recommend their "Sash" carrier which is a perfectly safe and ergonomic Mei Tai!)

I think that's enough information overload for one day!  Any questions??

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