Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy 30th Birthday, Doug!

Doug holding Charlotte before we went out to celebrate his birthday over the weekend.

Today is Doug's 30th birthday. We are almost exactly 5 months apart in age. It is so hard to believe that we are entering this decade and who would have thought with two children. :)

I just want to say that I have a wonderful husband and one that works very hard to provide for me and my children. Doug is always figuring our finances, budgeting, and looking at ways to save money. He basically does whatever I ask when it comes to needs for Charlotte and he is so good with her. I love to watch him sit in the floor and play with her, give her baths, wrestle, and chase her around the house. He is such a good father and enjoys spending quality time with her.

We have been married for 6 1/2 years and together for 8 - friends longer than that. It seems weird that he has not always been in my life because I have always felt so connected to him - which I guess is good seeing as he is my husband. I feel fortunate to have someone that is not only committed to me but to our family. I realize that no everyone is so blessed.

I am thankful for his faith in God and his desire to bring up his children in church - also personally teaching them about his faith. He wants our children to have good grades, good behavior and good morals. He is committed to making that happen.

I am proud of his choices to put family and God first as well as further his education so he can expand his options. I look forward to seeing how God continues to grow and change him and I am excited to experience the man he becomes. So... honey, happy birthday from your little family. We love you and appreciate all you do for us!

Brother's Nursery

Notice the Braves Mobile

Fly, Fly, Away

Dresser/changing table (the lady that sold us this piece of furniture wanted to make sure that I knew that it wasn't the highest quality. I lovingly stated that high quality wasn't on my need list seeing as I was going to have two children under the age of two. God knows they will tear up everything - even the finest quality stuff - once they are able)

Little Douglass Charles English, Jr. is due this Friday and his nursery is finally complete. We still are waiting on a rocking chair that my mother is graciously letting me borrow (thanks, Mom - which I will probably put in front of the window). Currently it is with my brother at his house and he has offered to bring it up when the baby is born (thanks, Owen).

Originally we were going to go with a Braves theme. Doug loves the Braves and you will notice that the room still sports the Braves as our son's mobile is little bears wearing Braves uniforms (Doug bought this thing when I was pregnant with Charlotte just in case she was a boy. He had to have it). We couldn't find any bedding that worked so we went to the next best thing - airplanes. Many of you know Doug's love and fascination with all machines that move in the air - so much so that he nearly became an airline pilot. We were thrilled to find the Pottery Barn bedding on their extreme clearance sale (the bumper was less than $30.00).

The art work was done by me with a little help from Doug- I needed to make sure that everything was always masculine. :) Thanks to Martha Stewart for the idea to make collages - which I saw on her show so I can't take full credit.

It was fun to do something different. I have been living in a very pink and girly world. It has been neat to have Doug more involved this time around and to work on something more in line with a little man.

We are still waiting and appreciate your prayers. We would love for our little guy to come on his own.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

All Thumbs

First, I want to say thanks to all of you who graciously gave your feedback on my humble little cards. I had several comments and emails from friends and family. You were all very kind and some of you very honest - which I was hoping for. It is always hard to know what others would like and more importantly what they will purchase. That is why I go to you, those that I love and love me back. So thanks for letting me know your thoughts.

In the process of the last week I have endured working on a few things that I am not so good at - electronics. I finally have most of the things I feel I will need to print my little creations. The only problem now is that I must learn how to use them. Let me just say I was on the phone with both Adobe and Epson this week for over an hour each time trying to figure out how to just install the software so I could get started.

I am finally good with my new printer, but Adobe, not so much. All you techy/artsy people out there talk about how easy this program is to use and it probably is, but I already know after looking at it that tutorials are in my very near future.

I am horrible with directions - one reason being is that I hate to read them. Honestly, they really don't make sense to me. For example: I purchased a smocking book and looked through it. I was ready to throw in the towel and not even try. Then I picked up a DVD and watched it. The instructor showing me the stitches on the video explained everything. I was able to do it and am addicted (seriously, I smock while laying in bed watching tv. I am driving Doug crazy).

So while you may believe me to be creative I am all thumbs when it comes to directions and electronics. You can forget it. I don't even have the patience half the time to learn. So... I will just have to push through the tutorials (I am not great at these either). Funny that I was homeschooled seeing as I don't follow directions (maybe this is why I always struggled in math).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Out with the Old and In with the New

Nature Set of Notecards

Bugs Set of Notecards


Chick and Tree Notecards

Ladybug Notecard

So I have been alluding to something new on the horizon for my business. Unfortunately, due to my current circumstances Ali's Aprons is being put on hold. I have always known that without blocks of time sewing for a living is nearly impossible. So... I am having to put Ali's Aprons on the backburner for right now. I will still take orders and special requests but just know that if you want something you better get your request in early. I will also graciously refuse you if I don't think I can hound it out in a timely fashion that doesn't kill me in the process.

With all that said my new venture is one that is still a work in progress and I beg your honest opinions and feedback. I have decided to take a chance with some of my graphic designs and have been working to put a stationary line together. Right now I am concentrating my focus on products that are focused more on children (seeing as that is my season in life). The pictures you see are just drafts of some ideas and color schemes I am going with at the moment. I will also be working on more boyish designs as they come to mind. I already have a few ideas and welcome more from all of you. So... let me know what you think. All will be personalized and prettily packaged. I hope to do calling cards, gift tags, party favor stickers, invitations, as well as notecards and flat cards. I also hope to combine designs and offer gift sets.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Waiting Game

Sitting in Daddy's chair

We are now only two weeks and one day away from our little boy's due date. Last week we were a little concerned when not only had I not dialated, but Doug, Jr. was still upright. My doctor began talking about scheduling a C-section and the plan was to check on things this week and see what "Mr. I am in no hurry" was up to. After enlisting many of you to pray I am happy to report that our little guy has made the switch and he is facing downward. So... the waiting game begins.

I have dialated 1cm but that is all. I have been having pretty strong contractions (thought I was going into labor Sunday night) but they seem to subside after some time. So... we wait.

The pictures above are of Charlotte. It looks like she is waiting for something in that big chair, but she is actually sitting in her daddy's chair thinking she is a big person watching a t.v. show before bed. She looked so cute I had to snap a few pictures before I turned off the tube and whisked her upstairs.

We will keep you posted on the baby's birth. If you are wondering his name - well, we wonder as well. He will be named after his father but as to what we are calling him, we will all know when he is born. Doug and I just can't make up our minds. We are hoping when we see him we will just know. :) Until then...


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Irish Twins

Coming Home Outfit

Irish Cousins - matching outfits for pictures

Sweet bishop with smocked collar - I can't take credit for the collar

I decided several months ago that I would attempt to make our little boy's coming home outfit. I picked out a pattern and prayed that his father would be okay with whatever I decided to make. His dad was okay with it but felt the pattern was still too feminine, so... I took to altering the pattern a bit to come up with something he felt a little more comfortable with.

In the process I also wanted to make something that big sister Charlotte could wear. The beautiful collar on this dress was something my mother passed down. I knew the light blue would go perfectly with the sweet smocking.

So after a little work, I put these two pieces together. I was very pleased with the result. An experienced seamstress could point out so many flaws but to the naked eye they are hard to see. I know my little ones can't appreciate how much I love them nor can they appreciate that their mother wants them to coordinate but one day I hope they see that something made by ones hands is always more special than something purchased - not matter what the ultimate result is. I can't wait to relish in their little projects that are one day lovingly made by their little hands.

Heres to my irish twins!


Matching dresses for Charlotte and her cousin Adeline (sorry Mary, you will probably see this before you get it. Hope you like it)

Pink Bishop - the collar is removable and can be used on this dress or something else.

The sundresses can be worn with or without the collar.

Being pregnant the second time around there have been many differences from the first time. Obviously, the biggest difference is having a 14 month old running around. One thing that isn't different, my need to nest. During my pregnancy with Charlotte I began nesting early - I think it was around 6 months. I was determined to have the house nice and organized because I knew it would never be that way again (at least not for a while).

I feel the same way this time, but there is no organizing when my little red-head takes everything apart that I put together. Cleaning is also difficult with being so pregnant and bending down constantly to pick Charlotte up or pick up after her. So, I have found another way to relieve my much needed urge to nest.

I have been sewing like a crazy woman for the last month. As you can see by this post and the one to follow - sewing is all I have basically done in my spare time. I must say I almost feel addicted. I obviously love to create, but this has been so much fun! I can't wait until the Spring when Charlotte gets to wear her new clothes lovingly made by her mommy. I am also learning so much and getting excited about making the kids matching outfits for special occasions.

So enjoy the pictures of my creations. Next on the list - smocking. Yes, even this close to my delivery I have invested in a book, dvd, pleated inserts, and embroidery floss to get me started. Call me crazy but I need something creative to look forward to. :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stretching the Almighty Dollar

We, like many of you, are looking for ways to cut cost in our household. With this economy, two kids, and a teacher's salary there is ALWAYS room to cut something out. Needless to say, Doug and I are not experts, but we are learning.

We recently started clipping coupons and I learned very quickly that this truly is a fine art. Some of you have this whole thing figured out, but I did not grow up using coupons and my mother and I both are learning how to do this.

One thing that I feel that I am slowly mastering is that of stretching the food that we do purchase. I have really begun to get creative lately - hating to see food go to waste. Doug and I are not big leftover fans and it has always been a challenge to figure out ways to use food that we have already made.

For those of you that believe that eating out is just as cheap as doing it yourself, I hate to burst your bubble. It is easier but not cheaper. Yes, you can do it cheaply, but what are you feeding your family. I will give you an example. Doug and I recently went on a weekly trip to Sams. We purchased one roast for a little less than $12.00. So far I have made roast with carrots, potatoes, mashed potatoes and green beans twice, we had beef and vegetable stew with another pot ready to put on the stove whenever I am ready, I made beef bbq sandwiches with baked fries (the same potatoes that I purchased for the mashed potatoes), and I have roast left to make again with leftovers for something else. So... by the time I am finished with that $12 roast I will have made 7-8 meals out of it. That basically comes out to less than a $1.71 per meal (this does not include the other items to make the meals. Each meal with all the fixings comes out roughly to less the $5.00 per meal - not per person).

I say all this because I wanted to share my new findings. It is fun to eat delicious food and pay very little for it. It really is much easier than I thought and I honestly feel better about the reduction of food waste. All the things I mentioned above are very easy to make so if you want recipes just comment below.

If you have ideas, please feel free to share. I am also all ears for any advice on the coupon thing.