Sweetness for the Soul

I finally had an opportunity to travel again this past weekend for a birthday celebration for someone special!

Amidst the crepe myrtle and pine trees on a hot summer day in North Carolina, it was a joyous Saturday to celebrate the 1st birthday of my precious niece!

It was a wonderful time that was a sweet balm to my soul, during such a hard year. On the long drive back north on I-95, I had time to reflect on the goodness of the weekend.

Family is a gift.
Babies are a blessing.
Every moment with loved ones is a treasure.
Gratitude is freedom for the soul.

As a new month is upon us, may we all treasure those sweet moments for the soul.

The DIY Tie-T-Shirt Blanket

This post is about 5 months late, but I hope it will be helpful to the blogosphere!  It would not have been possible had there not been a reason to make a Tie-T-Shirt Blanket. But there was. And his name is Stephen – my “baby” brother who recently graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Needless to say, he is pretty awesome. 

Life as a Cadet at West Point is tough. But there are some sweet moments and memories, too. The young men and women who make it through this rigorous college and military training deserve A LOT of credit! If you can’t tell by now, I am immensely proud of our 2013 Army Grad!
Stephen’s one request for a graduation present was a t-shirt blanket. You know – we all collect a million and one t-shirts growing up from school, sports teams, camps, etc and they just collect space in your closet, or the bin that they’ve been thrown into collects dust in the basement. (Or maybe your parents threw them all away – in that case, sorry!)  The idea is a great one – use all those t-shirts for a product you’ll actually use frequently so you can squeeze every last drop of sentimentality out of your childhood memories.
Here was the problem though – none of the women in our family, except for our Grandmas who are past their sewing prime, know how to sew. I’d love to really learn how (if I had the time), but right now it’s just not an option. So we decided to go with the Tie-T-Shirt option. I’m happy to report – it turned out great!

The Tie-T-Shirt option is a really great one if you’re looking to get by without a sewing machine (I’ll explain later that I did sew a little by hand). However, we struggled a bit through the process as most of the samples and directions I found online were inadequate. I am hoping this blog post and instructions will make things easier for anyone who attempts this in the future!

These directions come from http://www.ehow.com/how_12066953_make-blanket-out-tshirts-sewing.html#ixzz2eMEVatLi with my edits and additions in RED.

1.  Collect old T-shirts from your own wardrobe or those of family members. You will need 16 shirts for a blanket.  The T-shirts can be slightly worn, but they should still be in good quality, without obvious holes in the material. Look for shirts that bring back memories from childhood or special events that might otherwise be forgotten. Wash and dry the shirts before working with them to create a blanket. The bigger the t-shirt the better – if the pattern is very close to the neckline, it will be a little difficult when you go to tie the squares, but not impossible.  If you have lots of different colors, lay out a design for where you want each t-shirt square.


2.  Measure and mark out 18-inch squares in each T-shirt.  Cut out the squares.   Then cut 3-inch squares from the four corners of each of the 18-inch squares.  This can be challenging if the t-shirts are small, which is likely if they are for kids. Try cutting as close to the neck as possible.

3.  Fringe the 18-inch T-shirt squares along the edges. Simply cut 3-inch slits about every inch or so along each of the four sides of the square.  Be sure to make the same number of fringes on each square – I’d recommend laying them on top of each other.


3.5.  The directions we found on the Internet did not call for this, but we’d highly recommend it – purchase some sort of backing that can be ironed on to the back of the t-shirts (we just asked for recommendations at Michael’s.  This will give a little bit more sturdiness to the t-shirt side of the blanket.
4.  Attach the squares together by tying the fringe along one side of a square to the fringe along the side of another square.  Repeat this process to make four rows of four squares. Then attach the four rows together in the same manner, by tying the fringe together along the edge of each row.  The result will be a four-by-four perfect square. This is the top of your blanket. The tighter the tie the better – it’s a bit like putting together a puzzle!
5.  Cut out a piece of fleece measuring 54 inches to make a soft back for your blanket. From each of the four corners of the square of fleece, cut out a 3-inch square. Fringe the edges of the square by cutting a 3-inch slit for every inch along each edge. Lay the t-shirt squares on top, so that you can line up the slits.
6.  Place the T-shirt top on top of the square of fleece. Check to make sure the faces of the T-shirts are showing. Tie the fringed edges of the T-shirt square to the fringed edges of the fleece backing. Once all four sides have been connected your blanket will be complete and ready for a cuddle.
7.  Many of the ties will stick out in all different directions – this is a neat look, but I wanted to make ours a little bit more polished.  I pushed the ends behind the t-shirts, and then did some free-hand sewing to keep it all together – in the back (so do before you tie the fleece backing on!) so that you couldn’t see my stiches at all.  You can compare the before and after below:

8.  Lastly, if you have any blank t-shirts, you might want to add a patch or applique.  We found these at an Army store, which I think, added a great touch!

I hope this is helpful!  Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions!

One Cupcake to Rule them All

My lovely sister is returning to the District and told me that she really wanted a cupcake this weekend. I had to laugh, because I thought – I think that every day!

I assured her we’d make this happen and then began thinking about which bakery we’d go to…there’s many to choose from in the Nation’s Capital!

I couldn’t come up with a firm decision, and that’s when the thought struck – why not go to Every.Single.One.

Amazingly, within 90 minutes on a rainy day in DC, we gathered our bounty. Moving swiftly, we then displayed each cupcake for a feast of the eyes:

After a sliver of almost every one (I swear, only a sliver!), here is the order of our favorites:

Tied for 1st – Sprinkles and Baked and Wired
3 – Georgetown Cupcakes
4- Hello Cupcake
5 – Red Velvet
6 – Crumbs

I had 2 favorites  – a spice cake with espresso icing from Baked and Wired, and this glorious delight – peanut butter chocolate chip with peanut butter icing and chocolate sprinkles, from Sprinkles.  One word – Divine.

Now for this week, I will need to do 10 hours of yoga, a full day of spinning, and how many crunches to burn all this goodness off…????

At least we only ate salad for lunch and dinner!

Okay, hopefully you’re not ready to run out the door to the nearest cup cakery, or start baking yourself, but I’m sure you’re probably thinking…if I were stranded on a deserted island, which cupcake could I live off of forever…?

For me, now I know!

Christmas in the OBX

Snow on the beach is a very funny thing – actually, it’s quite beautiful! While tradition is comforting, and I’m so thankful to have spent most of my Christmases at home with my family, it was really a neat experience to spend Christmas in Duck, North Carolina. We went out to the beach three different times – at sunset, to see the stars, and to see the snow!

The sunset was beautiful – not exactly the vibrant colors you might see during the summer, but beautiful pale blues, pinks, and purples. Our God is amazing with watercolors in the sky!

Nigtht-time was equally magnificent. Earlier in the evening we stepped out on the porch of our beach house (well, one of the four decks!) to see the stars, and they were absolutely vibrant. That was actually Christmas Eve, and I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like on the night of our Savior’s birth. What would it have been like to have been a lowly shepherd out in the field, to have an incredible host of angels visit you declare the arrival of the King? What would it have been like to have seen the awaited star of Bethlehem?

Later we walked down to the beach that night – the stars weren’t as vibrant because the moon had lit up the dark sky. In fact, we could see our shadows the moon was so bright! The waves were powerful and never missed a beat. It was an awe-inspiring reminder, the the God of the universe, who created the stars and the moon – which controls the oceans – also cares for, and loves me.

On Sunday, the 26th, we were snowed in! When the blustery winds had subsided, a few of us went out to the beach to see the snow and sand mixture. It was quite a sight – incongruous yet beautiful. Although I must say, I prefer sand when the sun is out, and the thermometer is far north of 20 degrees!

The beauty of the beach brought peace to my soul. It helped me to remember the absolute audacity of Christ coming to the world he created as a human – a mortal, yet without sin. One of the lines from Hark the Herald Angels sing, especially stuck out to me during our family’s makeshift church service in our beach house on Christmas Eve – “born to give us second birth!” He was born to die – to die and be raised again, so that I – you – we, can know Him as Savior and have our sins washed from us – like the pure-driven snow I witnessed on the beach.