Dirt Roads

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As a kid I remember warm sunny afternoons when my Dad would pile my sister and I into the back of his truck (it was the ’80’s) for an adventure.  He would drive us through the San Bernardino foothills on poorly maintained fire roads.  We rarely had a destination in mind, it was all about the journey. My sister and I bobbing up and down with every dip in the road, gripping the sides of the truck to keep from sliding around too much and coughing through the dust.

This Saturday I had a deja vu moment as I put the truck into a lower gear and steered us up a steep and very rough road while my own children bounced around in the backseat.  I felt like I had come full circle without even realizing it.

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I told my kids this was what we used to do for fun when I was younger.  They were shocked to know my sister and I had ridden in the back of the truck. I told them about fire roads and how my parents had to get out of the truck to turn the four wheel drive on. They asked me if I liked going on adventures when I was a kid.  I stopped to think for a minute and realized I didn’t like or dislike it, it was just something we did, like the way your family hangs the toilet paper inside or outside.  It just was.

I pointed out how different the experience was for them, as they were sitting in the nice air conditioned cab of the truck, clean of dust, securely held in place by their seat-belts. We were doing the same thing, but their version was different than mine.

We finished the afternoon off with cheap mexican food, a very different experience from my childhood. Growing up we went out to eat a handful of times a year. They have it good these kids of mine, I’m giving them the very best that I’ve got and I hope they remember it fondly.

Books of 2015

books 2015

Every year I keep track of the books I read so when december comes I can feel like I accomplished something. Is there a book you just loved, leave me a comment, I love suggestions!

Previous Lists
2014
2013
2012

1. The Friday Night Knitting Club This book was alright. I didn’t like it enough to read the sequel.

2. Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time I liked this book for the insight it gave me on how men view marriage and relationships. I really found it illuminating.  I was familiar with some of the music he and his wife recorded on their mixed tapes, but not much- mostly because I was still in Jr High at the time.

3. American Wife: A Novel (Random House Reader’s Circle) This was a fictionalized version of the GW Bush and Laura Bush story.  It was a well crafted and interesting story.  Having read Laura Bush’s biography I read this book seeing all the glaring differences.

4. The Dressmaker: A Novel I enjoyed this story of a Parisian dressmaker who under values himself and through the love of a woman he begins to realize his potential.  I think part of the reason this story appealed to me was because I too sew clothing and i understood and appreciated the details of sewing in the story.

5. A Hundred Summers I loved this story because it was set in NY during the 30’s, but the story is captivating too!  A story of love and jealousy and family obligations. There were some crude parts as well…

6. Summer People: A Novel (P.S.) I did not like this book. It was equal parts lame and vulgar. There was almost no plot.

7. If It Was Easy, They’d Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon: Living with and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-So-Handy Man You Marri ed I literally laughed my way through this book, Jenna is HILARIOUS.  I think there should be a pre-requisite to reading this book: Married 10+ years (but less than 20) and have at least 2 children under 16. If you meet this criteria the book will be even more enriching!

8. Clair de Lune

9.The Ladies’ Lending Library: A Novel

 

 

 

Valentine Printables

Looking for some fun last minute Valentines to print and share?  Here are a few of my favorites from years past.

valentines by heatherhalesdesigns.com

Cute as a button printable cards to affix your candy to (or sticker sheets).

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Matchbook candy filled Valentines.

More!

Need a Valentine that doesn’t require candy? Download these cuties HERE.

Sick Days

heatherhalesdesigns

It seems this winter we’ve been taking a few sick days. Nothing too serious, but lots of resting on the couch and middle of the day naps. I am truly grateful for the way our lives are structured that allow sick days to be slow days. I’m grateful these do not cause me to rearrange my schedule or inconvenience others, that my only responsibilities at this stage of life are to my family.

In between Sesame Street and Curious George this morning I came across this-Writing Your Way to Happiness- article while trolling through facebook. Its a great read if you have a minute.  I’ve always been a writer, I started my first journal when I was in first grade. Writing has always been my preferred method of expressing my emotions- which in turn helps me to see things a little clearer.  It was nice to read the scientific data backing up what I have always felt to be true.

I’ve always loved letter writing as well, I only wish I had kept all of my correspondence over the years. I’ve tried to reach out to friends and relatives via letters, but it seems these days everyone just prefers email or text (which has its place!). To me, there is nothing more cathartic than blue ball point ink on college ruled paper. every time.

 

Pattern Review- Simplicity 8598

Sunday afternoon I made my youngest a new dress.  I had found a yard and a 1/4 piece of Cloud 9 Wildwood Pretty Posies in coral at SAS for a steal and had been saving it for something for one of the girls. The fabric is still available at fabric.com, just click the picture.

 

The pattern, Simplicity 8598 I bought in college to make a dress for a friends daughter.  I haven’t used it since then, so it was like sewing it for the first time again.

It is a very simple and quick pattern to make, only 4 pieces to cut out + interfacing. I cut out a size 5 for my daughter and the sides were really big on her, like she couldn’t wear it without a tank top for modesty’s sake.  I took the sides in by and inch on each side, I probably should have cut the bodice width at a size 3.

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I used an invisible zipper so I omitted the top stitching over the zipper as per the directions.  I simply folded under the lining on the inside and tacked it to the zipper tape.  I did top stitch the armholes and neck.

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I cut the length at a size 7 because I wanted it to below the knee. Because this dress has a slight bell curve hem, I strongly suggest cutting the dress to exactly 1/2″ longer than you want it to be hemmed.  Use single fold bias tape sewn on and flipped up to hem, it will help you avoid a wrinkled up hem.

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Overall, this is a great starter pattern for someone who is trying to learn garment sewing, and at only $4 on etsy its too good to pass up.  The smallest dress requires only a yard of fabric and the largest (a size 8) requires only a yard and a half.

Have a pattern you’d like me to review?  Just leave me a comment and let me know!

Valentine Candy Bags

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I started playing around with red and pink fabrics and ended up making a few of these little draw string bags.  They are perfect for Valentine’s Day treats, candy, gift cards or any small gift!

sequin-heart copy

This heart was fun to create.  I used felt, invisible thread and sequin trim.  Each bag I tried something new, french seams (bad idea!), self casing (tricky to sew) until I came up with the best way to sew these bags.

candy-co-bag copy

I put together a pdf tutorial that you can download HERE (for free). This project is best for someone who has some sewing experience.  Its quite simple to make, but its written as if you already know a thing or two about sewing.

scrappy-heart copy

 

Please email me or leave a comment if there is anything in the tutorial that doesn’t make sense or you need more clarification. Sometimes I don’t explain things in the most clear way!  If you stitch one up will you tag me or send me a pic, I’d really love to see it!!

Bags!

I just listed two oil cloth cosmetic bags in the shop, and will be adding more this week!  I still haven’t gotten the mini-bags ready for a giveaway…I have way more ambition than I do energy/free time these days. The small bags are $8 and the large bags are $10, they are super practical and can hold so much stuff

oil-bags

I’m also working on a Valentine tutorial.  I have it mostly written I just need to add photographs….tutorials always seem to take me forever to write, I just never know how detailed to be.  I swear it would be so much easier if everyone just came to my house and I walked you through the project!  Crossing my fingers I get it finished this week.

bag_teaser

 

a little recap

We finished out 2014 with a trip to the beach and time with extended family, which was full of everything you would expect.

Sunset at Laguna Beach yesterday. Today it's back to cacti. #lagunabeach #beach #california

A photo posted by Heather Hales (@heatherhalesdesigns) on

I finally finished another book, The Friday Night Knitting Club, I started it in 2014, but didn’t finish it until the new year.  I sat down to check my book stats…2014 I was more than 10 books behind the last two years. Sigh, I guess I spent more time in the sewing room than I did hiding behind a book- which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This rag doll was my first sewing finish of 2015.

First finished project of 2015!! #Ballerina #Doll #ragdoll

A photo posted by Heather Hales (@heatherhalesdesigns) on

December and January are busy months for our family, we have 2 birthdays in Dec (yours truly hit 37 on the 25th) + Christmas January has New Years, a birthday and our Wedding anniversary.  We celebrated 17 years this year.  At the risk of it being taken wrong let me just say marriage is work. No matter how much you love each other or how amazing your friendship is- its still work. I get so tired of the Hollywood stereotype of happily every after, it is just not real.

For Christmas I made my girl friends some fun oilcloth cosmetic bags, they are easy to make and super practical. I made one for myself and then kept going….I’ve offered a few for sale on IG- follow me to check it out.

I love making these! #oilcloth #cosmeticbag

A photo posted by Heather Hales (@heatherhalesdesigns) on

I’m going to give away 2 mini-bags later in the week but only on IG- so follow me to hear about it!

According to my kids the best part of Christmas was when we told them we’d agreed to get a cat.

Do share- what have you been up to?

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

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It doesn’t feel like the most wonderful time of the year. I feel like I’ve been riding an emotional roller coaster at the state fair after eating too much cotton candy.  My head is spinning, my stomach aches and the tears are just too close to the surface. All I wanted to do this past weekend was sit in my closet and throw myself a little pity party.  I knew for sure I did not want to dress up, put a smile on and be social….but my kids did, and my good friend was hosting the party…and I didn’t want to be the chump friend who wasn’t there to help.

I plastered my public smile on, reapplied some mascara and went out into the world in something other than my pajamas.  Our little family of 5 sat down and I began to survey the room. While wondering how long we had to stay and hoping one of the kids would act up and we’d all have to go home, someone asked me to help serve food.

I’m sure you have all heard the adage that when life is hard you should loose yourself in service to others- and maybe you thought ya right, who wants my help when I’m just being a grouch.  People, I am here to say all it takes is a willing heart.  Because let me tell you how I spent Saturday evening serving ham and potatoes with a genuine smile on my face- making chit chat with those who came through my line.  Feeling grateful to have something to do and knowing I was helping in some way. Not once did I think about myself, not once did I ponder on my own problems- I just served; both literally and figuratively.

I think God really wanted to underline the point of serving others for me because the next day in church were two beautiful, I mean beautiful, talks on kindness and service. About reaching beyond our own little circle of comfort and serving/showing kindness to everyone, for no other reason than they are our fellow men.

Serving didn’t solve my problems, it didn’t even change my perspective on them- but what it did do was provide a respite from thinking about them.  I suppose one could say serving others is a form of self medication….seems a whole lot healthier than numbing my problems with alcohol or drugs. Maybe my motives for service are selfish (just hoping to feel better myself), but I don’t think that makes the acts of kindness any less valid.

It is easy to get lost in your own problems and think you have nothing to offer, but I’ll tell you what…service and kindness don’t always take money and grand gestures. Sometimes all it takes is a warm smile, sitting with someone who is alone, offering a kind word, a genuine question of “how are you?”, a simple text message saying “I’m thinking of you”.

Example is a powerful thing and I am so grateful for those I know who respond to the world with genuine kindness and an open heart. I’m grateful to see those example, because you cannot become what you don’t see.

I guess I am standing on my tiny internet platform and challenging you to reach out to others- do something today that improves the day of someone else, and I promise it will improve your day too.

 

3rd times the charm

Back in September I bought a Groupon for the Children’s Museum of Phoenix,where I used to have a membership. I thought it would be fun to take my youngest there- but I kept putting it off.  I remembered how much work it had been with the older kids, chasing two small children around from exhibit to exhibit. Monitoring to make sure they were not taking too long of a turn with the trikes, that they were sharing the race cars. Then Groupon notified me that my pass was about to expire, so I bit the bullet and took her to the Museum today.

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Oh! It was so much fun! I really enjoyed being with her and I didn’t just watch from the sidelines- we walked through the Noodle Forest together, we each made art projects in the Art Cafe, and I helped her make pizza, hot dogs and ice-cream. As we sat together making gingerbread men, she announced “I’m happy!” I about melted.

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I spent the drive home thinking about the differences between our day today and the experiences I had taking her older brother and sister to the same place. For sure it was easier because I was with ONE child instead of being out numbered, but don’t get me wrong she can have her moments when its just the two of us. I think the novelty of the CMoP affected (or should it be effected?) how she behaved. This was the first time she had been since before she was one. She was old enough to appreciate it and was just in awe of each new thing we saw.  She happily played with the glitter play-doh for a good 30 min (making hot-fish, muffins and birthday cake) and chased pigeons in between climbing.

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It reminded me of the first time we took the older children to Disneyland.  I love Disneyland, but taking my kids for the first time was even more magical.  It was one of my best memories of when they were little.  Despite the fears and mishaps they loved it, they were just so happy to be at Disneyland.  The second time we took them- about 2 years after the first. They complained and asked to go back to Grandma & Grandpa’s and eat ice-cream.  They were tired of being there and the whole experience was really not fun for anyone.

Maybe if I hadn’t had a membership all those years ago the experience of taking my kids wouldn’t have felt like/been so much work. The whole notion of entitlement and lack of gratitude. I made it too easy for them to experience fun, so easy that they got rowdy and ungrateful. I know why I got those memberships (to the zoo, the botanical garden, the CMoP)- it was under the guise of cultural enrichment, but really it was so I could get out of the freaking house at least once a week without having to drop $30! It was lonely and overwhelming for me to have two small children….at home…all the time. Had I known the long term price, I would have still done it anyway.

But this last child of mine…she is getting the best.  Its not too hard to have her home with me, I don’t mind if we never leave the house all week. Seeing her light up and truly enjoy these experiences I am able to give her on a much less frequent basis than the other two- is so worth it!

c-me