Sunday, December 30, 2007


For the first time since December 1st I was alone.

Eleni's first bottle

See, on Friday I pulled out my pump and K was able to give Eleni her first bottle. It was well received and she sucked the bottle dry in no time. This morning I pumped again, and took a trip to my favorite market- McGinnis Sisters- for the first time since Eleni was born. Their carts are quite small, and not easy to take along a baby in a car seat. So I went alone. Boy was it strange leaving the house solo! But I was able to enjoy my shopping knowing K had the tools to keep her happy until I returned. Turned out she slept through my entire trip and the milk wasn't necessary. However having it available made us all more relaxed.

In other news, I am knitting. Slowly. Very very slowly. But the point is it is getting done. I had considered stopping this section of the baby moderne at 36 ridges, but remembered how particular I am and how I would regret it if I made it smaller than the pattern suggested. So I am on ridge 44 of 54. One more block to go which is another 36 ridges and will go along the left side in the picture below and will be brown and blue. I am working on the pink and brown boxes at the top.
Baby Moderne

Happy New Year to you all!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Photo update

Not much going on worth blogging about. Taking it one day at a time, and overall it is going quite well. I put the Saarje Booties onto Eleni and got some pictures. They where a little small for her monster feet, but that didn't hurt the cute factor one bit.
Booties 2

Our first children, the dogs, are adjusting rather well to our new family member as well. Bella is always checking on Eleni when she is in the pack'n play or when someone new holds her. Mo is less maternial and more jealous of Miss Eleni. He needs to make sure he isn't getting ignored. Just take a look for yourself...
Big brother Mo
Good think I have a big lap.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


December 1st 2007. A day that will forever be special to us, and to our families. This is the day that our little girl entered our lives.

It all started on Friday night. After deciding we had no food to eat, and a limited number of days remaining to eat out we headed out to one of our regular asian eateries and had some sushi for dinner. Dinner was lovely and tasty as always and we headed home for the night. I quickly got into my PJs and settled into my favorite corner of the sofa when I felt... well a little wet. Hmm. While it wasn't a lot, i was pretty sure it was my water breaking. So we called my doctor and she asked we head to the hospital to have the baby monitored and to verify my water did infact break. So after some rushing around to pack a bag and call our parents and put the Doula on alert we where off to the hospital. It was about 9:00pm when we where checked in.

The doctor confirmed my water had broke, and prefered we stayed at the hospital at that point. So we where admitted and left alone to labor naturally until the next morning when I would be given pitocin if we hadn't progressed enough. Once your water breaks it is generally thought that the baby needs to be delivered within 24 hours. The night was long and there was little sleep going on, however we didn't get enough accomplished to go without the pitocin. At 6am the pitocin drip started.

I was still trying to have this baby without any unnecessary drugs though, so we labored on all morning as planned. My contractions became stronger and longer as the time passed by but I wasn't progressing as much as I had hoped I was. At 1:00 I decided I needed a plan. If I was almost fully dilated in another hour I would press on drug free. But if by 2:00 we still anticipated a significant period of laboring before we could push I would have an epidural. This hour timeline I established for myself ended up being the hardest hour in my entire labor. We suspected she was not in the prefered anterior position. Meaning I was having "back labor". It was wicked. Had it not been for my fabulously wonderful husband and our super doula I would have packed my bags and given up. Just stop the labor now, I decided I am not having this baby. My hour was up. My doctor showed up and we where only 7cm, meaning there where another 3 to go and I was at my breaking point.
I asked for the epidural. The relief was nearly immediate. I was able to rest for the next 2 (or was it 3) hours. We even slept. I would have to conserve my energy for pushing. The next time I was checked the baby had decended to the +2 station and it was time to prepare for the pushing.
The pushing was intense. I think it lasted around 2 hours. I had my own personal cheering section and it was great help in keeping my focus and energy directed to delivery. It was a lot of work, and in the end the doctor needed to use suction to help the baby and her big noggin out of my body.
So much of the rest is a blur. Our little 8lb 4oz bundle of joy made her way into our world.
8lbs 4oz baby girl!
It wasn't long that she was put into her daddy's arms for the first time while we delivered the placenta and I was stitched up from my small tear.
Proud new dad!
We decided on the name Eleni Jean, and our hearts have forever been changed by this little wonder. Every day that passes the birth experience memory becomes less vivid. The memory of the pain fades as new memories of our daughter are created.

Overall we spent 24 hours in labor. Kevin and I went about 41 hours without sleep aside from a few cat naps. I had gone 27 hours without food. I threw up three times. Pushed for two hours. Had I heard these statistics before it all started I would have been scared. I would have wanted to avoid this entire situation. However, after having been through this past weekend I must say it was worth every discomfort.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree!

While I continue to wait for this little girl to make her move and come into our world I am trying to keep busy. One of my to do list items was to turn the fabric I bought a few years ago to wrap around the Christmas tree base into a proper tree skirt. The fabric was found on clearence and was quickly bought the morning of our first Holiday party to hide the tree stand. It had done a good job, but I had always intended on doing something more with it. Well with Taylor's help and some more fabric I transformed the fabric into a skirt.

So first I had to make my square piece of fabric with a slit cut to the center into a circle. To do this I folded the square in half, and in half again and then diagonally. So that the center of the fabric remained as point. I measured from the point to 20 inches out into the fabric and placed a pin. I did this along an arch and then cut along the pin line leaving me with a shape like this.
Making a circle
Once opened this leaves me with a pretty darn nice circle
Top fabric opened up
With both the top and bottom pieces of fabric now in the shape and size I wanted I decided to join the pieces with bias tape. So I purchased a 1 inch bias tape maker thing, and followed the directions and made enough with my leftover base fabric to edge the circle and go up both sides of the slit. Here it is sewn onto the top layer of fabric.
Bias tape on Tree skirtBias tape on skirt
Tree skirt slit, with Bias tape
So the next step was that I cut out some cotton batting and basted it onto the base fabric. Just to hold the layers together.
Tree skirt fabric with batting
Then I pinned the top and bottom together, right sides facing and sewed the back onto the other side of the bias tape. I left the center hole open so I could turn skirt right side out when I was finished.
Here is the nearly finished skirt posing with our tree...
Finished Tree Skirt

What I learned
While I am quite happy with the end look of the skirt, there was things that could be done better. The top layer of fabric should have been cut about an inch smaller all the way around to compensate for the bias tape. Now the top fabric is larger than the bottom fabric. Not a big deal in my case because I liked the lumpy look of the top fabric, and it is light weight and drapes nicely. I could have found a better way to deal with the transition of the bias tape from the circle edge to the slit. I just kinda fudged it and made it bend. It is behind the tree though and I am going to live with it. I am thinking of top stitching along the bias tape edge to kind of hold it down or something. Still have to hand sew some of it together... but I think it is done for this Christmas. Afterall, the tree is wearing it and looking quite dashing. It can be finished another day.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

So much, yet nothing at all

I feel like I have been so busy trying to get stuff done before this baby arrives. Racing against the clock to finish projects. However I don't know how much time is left on our clock. We where happy to make it through Thanksgiving and spent a very nice night visiting with my family. I was also greatful to have these past three days to ourselves as well. I only wish I could share what I have been up too. See, much of it is a surprise for a couple of blog readers. So the rest of you must suffer so that we can keep the surprises surprises. I guess it will give me something to post about another day. Until then, I leave you with some puppy zen.
Sleepy Friends

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bend the Rules Valance

Last week I was a busy little sewer, and have not yet taken any time to share with you my project. Sadly I was too caught up in the activity to take any in progress photos. It was an experiment and I was just interested in getting to the end result to pause for picture taking.

After being inspired by the Scalloped Baby blanket that Cara made for sproggy I decided I would use the same pattern concept for the nursery window valance. The pattern can be found in Bend the Rules Sewing. I adjusted the size to fit across the window, and left the top straight. Also, I applied a simple pocket to the back for the curtain rod to slide through.

Nursery Valance and Rocker

Close up
Nursery Valance

I added two stripes of the ribbon left over from the crib skirt to break up the pattern some. Never mind the short tab of ribbon hanging below the finished edge. There are plans for that.
Nursery valance

So my question for you is..... Do I need long curtains under the valance? Like some pink shears? Just something to make it look more finished? Every time I walk in the room I feel like maybe it is missing something. Advice is greatly appreciated!
Nursery wide

Here is the most recent belly picture I have right now... for one particular reader :o) My belly is the bottom of the two. The top belly belongs to a friend Lisa. She is due anytime now, if she hasn't already had her little man!

Have a happy weekend everyone!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pie Season

Some of you who know me and my weird eating habits might find this post to be a little un-Amanda like. But in typical Amanda fashion, there is always more than meets the eye. See, I don't really like pie. Particuraly the crust. Now there are exceptions to the rule. I eat pumpkin pies, but I scoop the filling from the crust. And I eat pecan pie with the crust, as it isn't scrapable. Fruit pies are a total waste on me.
However I do love making pie. Go figure right?

It is the time of year that I consider Pie Season. Maybe it is easy to define a season for this dessert because I only seem to eat fall pies- pecan and pumpkin. Maybe it is because this was the time of year mom and I stayed up late cramming for Thanksgiving by baking pies until we couldn't stay awake any longer. In any case, this pie crust recipe is the best I have used. Passed to me from my mother, and she received it from her sister, my Aunt B. It comes together so easily, and is always a big hit with pie crust lovers... or so I am told.

Aunt B's Pie Crust
makes enough for two crusts, or one double crust.
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup Crisco
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 TBSP white vinegar
7 TBSP cold water

So first step you combine the flour, Crisco, and salt with a pastry blender until crumbly.
Crumbly Flour, Crisco, Salt mixture

Next, add the wet ingredients- lightly beaten egg, vinegar and cold water.
Add the wet ingredients

Mix to combine wet and dry ingredients until dough comes together
Combined dough

Split the dough into two even sections. At this point it can be rolled out for your pie, or refridgerated until you are ready to use it. When you roll out the dough lightly flour the surface to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin or the counter top.
Pie Crust

Last step is to fill it with your pie filling and bake according to the pie recipe. I made the Oatmeal Pecan Pie recipe from Cooking Light's November 2006 issue.
Oatmeal Pecan Pie, before baking


Monday, October 22, 2007


Cara tagged me to reply to a few questions about me. So here it goes...
Jobs I've Had
1. Babysitting for a few families
2. Petsitting while family friends where on vacations
3. Student Aid in the Classics Department at Duquesne University
4. Kohl's department store, check-out girl and then professional jean folder in the young mens department. I can fold jeans better than anyone else.
5. Internship at Mellon in the EDM group
6. Internship turned full time, I support a software application.

Places I've Lived
1. Crafton, PA
2. Baldwin, PA

Foods I Love
1. Sushi
2. Lucky Charms
3. Pancakes
4. Gummi Bears

Places I Would Rather Be
1. Camp
2. Home

TV Shows I Watch
1. Desperate Housewives
2. Heroes
3. House
4. My Name is Earl
5. The Office
6. Grey's Anatomy
7. Simpsons
8. Family Guy

Books I Love
1. Where the Sidewalk Ends
2. Lafcadio
3. Mason Dixon Knitting (my most knit from knitting book by far)
4. Baby Bargins- I would have been lost without it.
5. Those LifeSavers sweet story books they make for stocking stuffers.

I tag Amy and Maria (provided she reads this!)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Crib Skirt- Finished!!

This past weekend we bought a crib, and got it set up in the nursery. It was so exciting seeing this empty blue room turn into a nursery with the addition of one piece of furniture. This was all the motivation I needed to get to finishing up the crib skirt sewing project that had been on hold for a few weeks. There wasn't much left to do, just a few hours worth of work and I am just so pleased with how it looks. I could sit and stare at it all afternoon. So please allow me to overload you with pictures... you can click on these to see larger versions if you want.
Full view of the crib-
Crib with skirt
Close up
Crib skirt close up
A view from above, with the scalloped blankie from Cara-
Crib skirt and scalloped blankie
Close up with the rail lowered-
Crib skirt with rail down

Now, of course you must imagine a mattress resting above the skirt with a pink sheet to get the full effect. Plus as sproggy gets bigger the mattress platform will be lowered and more of the skirt will be visible below the side rail.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Showered with Handmade Gifts!

Yesterday was my first of two baby showers being held to welcome little Sproggy into this world. It was a beautiful day, and I am really speechless over the generosity of my family and friends. My mother and sister Julie really worked hard to make sure everything was just perfect and it showed. My mother had been quite a busy lady making "boo-boo bunnies" as favors for our guests. If you are not familiar, a boo-boo bunny is a terrycloth rabbit shaped ice cube holder.
Boo boo Bunnies Boo boo Bunny Side
Darling right?

As I mentioned we really did receive so many wonderful gifts, but I thought this was a good place to gush over the beautiful handmade gifts. Cara was inspired at the last minute to sew a beautiful blanket from Bend the Rules Sewing. I am grateful that she found this inspiration, because look at how great this blanket turned out.
Blanket from Cara
Yes, she was able to find the fabric I am using for my crib skirt sewing project! She has a detailed blog post on her experience with this sewing project as well, and another photo there too.

The next hand made gift was quite a surprise to me. Annie knit me a baby sweater! Not a surprise because I didn't think she was capable. She is a very talented gal. However I was not expecting the hand knit gift from her. She is very good at keeping secrets!
Sweater from Annie
It is knit from a soft gold yarn, and if you look closely (or click on the picture to see an enlarged version) you can see the detail of the eyelet pattern and the little cable stitches in the ribbing along the button band and bottom of the sweater.

Blogless Erin also knit for Sproggy.
Knitted gifts from Erin
In the package there was two burp cloths from the Mason Dixon Knitting book, a button down sweater knit in a soft green and purple variegated yarn, and a tiny little hat and sock set knit up in a sock yarn.

And finally there are the gifts from Amy. More beautiful hand knits.
Knitted gifts from Amy
The baby sweater is knit in a heathered green yarn and has the sweetest heart buttons to hold the top together. She also knit two MDK burp cloths and a double-sided washcloth proudly displaying a K (for our last name).

I just wanted to take time and brag about what great and talented friends I have. I feel like I now have crafty debt to each of them! Not a terrible thing to owe someone in my opinion!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The tale of two hobbies...

Well, I am happy to report that my Baby Moderne blanket is coming along quite nicely despite my initial set backs. That is not to say there have not been additional problems along the way, but you can assume they where minor enough to allow me to fix them and move past the set back quickly.
Baby Moderne Progress
I am working on block 7 right now, the pink block along the top of the photo. When finished it will be 36 ridges and as wide as the brown and blue blocks already completed. Still have a while to go, but I am knitting away! One more photo, to help with estimating the blankets size thus far...
Mo and Baby Moderne
Special thanks to Mo who was kind enough to take time out of his busy day to stand on the blanket.

Second on my things to talk about list was I am gearing back up to sew again. The crib skirt project has been on hold due to sewing machine relocation issues. Well finally Taylor has a new home in my craft room.
Taylors new home
The table is from Ikea, and as you can tell from the photo it is wall mounted and can be folded down. I was a fan of this one because it was in the budget and I didn't have to worry about blocking the cold air return vents along the wall. Also I think the work surface is just the right size.
Taylors new home 2
The fabric shown is part of some secret sewing, which I will not be blogging about for a while. I am anxious to get it started...but have decided the crib skirt takes priority right now.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Please Help!

I currently know three great couples waiting on international adoptions from Guatemala to be completed. Two have blogs of their own detailing their own journey. While they have known for some time that adoption from Guatemala was going to be stopped at the end of the year, it was always said that in progress adoptions would be grandfathered in and allowed to be completed. The Guatemalan president is now saying this will no longer be the case leaving over 5000 children in foster care left without out perminant homes- and these loving families without their children. If you could, please take a moment and sign this petition to help my friends bring home their babies.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Baby Knitting

So quietly I started knitting more for the Sprogger. After a blogless friend Lisa mentioned knitting the Baby Kimono pattern from Mason Dixon Knitting for a family member expecting twins I was inspired to make one for our baby. So I came home and found a skein of Lorna's Laces Shepard Sport in my stash. One lonely skein that I was inspired to buy around a year ago. The yarn weight was thinner than the worsted recommended in the pattern, but the yardage was right on. I decided to risk running out and cast on that night. In about a week and a half of pretty regular knitting I had yarn leftover, and this lovely finished object...
Heartbreakingly cute baby kimono
The pattern was slightly modified to accommodate buttons which are not yet sewn on, but did make the photo shoot. Also in the picture is the little bit of yarn that was left from the skein after the sweater was seemed up. I am happy with the results and I hope to let Sproggy wear it home from the hospital.

While on the garter stitch kick I started the Baby Moderne baby blanket using the Knit Picks yarn I mentioned in my last post. So far blocks 1,2 and 3 are complete and I am nearly half way through block 4.
Baby Moderne
I would be much further along, if it had not been for two mistakes. The first was when I started the blue block I didn't pick up enough stitches. After 6 or 7 garter ridges (12-14 rows) I noticed this obvious error. It had to be torn out and reknit. The second mistake happened when I picked up the the stitches for the brown section (block 4). I assumed the block was to lie below the blue and white block and it turned out it was supposed to be on the opposite side, where the blue and pink meet. Sigh.... I only had to frog about 18 rows after that mistake.
I am back on track now... hopefully past the errors and discouragement!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Double Squeeeee!!

I came home to a box on my front porch today. Hmmm, I wondered, what ever could that be. Not possibly my Knit Picks order I placed yesterday. I had asked for 3 day shipping so I would have something to knit at this weekends get together with my knitsters... but it had not been 3 days. Just one. Well, imagine my surprise to find it was my recent yarn order! Squeee! I am glad I didn't pay the extra $5 for the two-day delivery option!!

So the box is opened... I am hoping the colors are close to what I was looking for. Swish Superwash in Ballerina pink, Baby Blue, Camel Heather, and Natural*... all chosen online with hopes they would match the fabric in the crib skirt** (and theme of the nursery I suppose). So what do you think?
Perfect match!
SQUEEEEE!!! The yarn's destiny is to become the Baby Moderne baby blanket from Mason Dixon Knitting. I see casting on in my near future!
*natural not shown in the picture, the hank is 220 yards because it is the undyed Swish and wasn't being pretty.
**I know, no loose bedding in the crib... risk of SIDS, and worst mother award... I still want it to match dangit!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I see the light at the end of the tunnel that is nursery planning. Yes, we got some paint on the walls and hung the ceiling fan but this was not the part of the planning that was causing me stress. The thorn in my side was furniture. Mainly a dresser. We had started our shopping at Babies R Us. While we found a few cribs that we where happy with in our price range we where not thrilled with the quality of the matching dressers. After looking at a few other local furniture stores and only finding white dressers that where too frilly with the carved flowers and ornate moldings I was not sure we could get what I had envisioned.

A few weeks ago, my friend Cara offered me some hope. She had just been to Sheely's in North Lima Ohio (just south of Youngstown)and said their prices where good, they had a friendly staff, and a decent selection of chidrens furniture. Once we heard they where having a one day sale we made plans to make the trip. Everything Cara said about Sheely's I found to be true. And to make our trip even more favorable we left holding the repciet for our new nursery dresser!
baby dresser
That is the picture from the manufacturer's website. It is a Stanley Young American dresser from the Contentment line. Not only did Sheely's have it listed below the MSRP, but they had nearly everything marked as 30% off their list price. So I feel like we got a good deal. It is in stock, so we should expect to have it delivered in around 4-6 weeks or so. Hooray for Sheely's!!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Progress: Nursery

What a busy and productive day. With lots of help from my parents, K and I managed to get through some of the nursery prep that had been put off for so long. We broke into teams and got to work around ten o'clock this morning.

Mom and I focused on sewing the crib skirt. This is my mom using Taylor. She is much better at sewing straight lines than I am, so I let her have that job.
Grandma Lori Sewing
I was the iron-lady, and did some piece pinning as well. I think it was just as important a job. Despite our hard work, we still where not finished by five o'clock when the boys where wrapping up for the day. We likely have another day of work ahead of us before it is complete. Not a big deal considering I have no crib yet to decorate with a skirt.... In any case, here are the three fabrics sewed together (and ironed ever so carefully)
Crib Skirt fabric close up
We still need to finish sewing the hem on 3 of the 4 pieces, attach the decorative ribbon on the top and bottom of the blue section, make the box pleats, and finally attach them all together into one big skirty piece of fabric.

So while we where sewing away, K and my dad where busy painting. They where able to get a coat of paint on the ceiling, the crown molding, and the walls. K came down stairs and proclaimed "I sure hope you like blue" and I became worried about the paint. I asked if it looked nice and he muttered "its okay" more concern entered my mind. As soon as I finished what I was working on I headed upstairs. All of the worry was for nothing, I am quite pleased with my color selection. It is exactly the blue I was looking for. Soft girly blue. Bright but not blindingly so.
Nursery with paint
Like the sewing project, the painting still is not complete. The baseboards and door trim still need to be painted and perhaps a second coat will have to be applied to the walls as well. I will let my dad make that judgement call.
It is really exciting to see my vision begin to come together.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

We hit the Jackpot!

K's work continues to be awesome. It is the small stuff like team building laser tag, summer time picnics, cake day, and employee of the month complete with a special parking space. The quality of his coworkers also seems to be quite high. This is best shown with this picture.
Boxes 1

What is that? You don't understand how this mess in my basement is relevant to K's coworkers? Well let me tell you about these boxes...
Boxes 2
Well, these boxes (and plastic bags) plus one more that is in my living room. K has a coworker with three young daughters. Identical twin two year old girls, and a 4 year old big sister. This guy seemed elated to hear we where having a girl. Each of those boxes is full of baby clothes! Sized between 0-18 months from what I can tell after a quick glance at the labels. Yes, it is also organized by size. Horray for free baby clothes!

If only I had a nursery dresser to put some of this in! While on the nursery topic, the crib skirt sewing should begin this weekend! Check back for photos!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Socks Suck?

Grumperina recently declared that she is not a sweater knitter. She even made buttons to put on her blog and to share with others that boldly states this preference of hers. This post of hers, along with some lack of interest of my own makes me wonder if perhaps I am not a sock knitter? I enjoy sock yarn, I enjoy turning a heel, love my one pair of hand knit socks... but I find myself starting them and never finishing a set. Not like my normal knitting style at all. I normally hate unfinished objects piling up in my stash.
This sock was started on Sunday August 5th, the day of the first Steelers game of the year. A pre-season Hall of Fame game, but enough to get me thinking black and gold none the less. It sat on hold for at least a week while I wondered if it was too small after turning the heel three times due to my own lack of concentration. I moved past that with help from some other Steeler football and my gestational diabetes test. My progress so far...Please ignore my day-glo white skin.
Steelers sock in progress

close up of the third-time's-a-charm heel...
Steelers sock heel close up

I think the only thing keeping me going is knowing that my Steelers gear won't fit until later in December once Sproggy arrives. Hopefully it will be enough to get me through the second sock!!