I cannot believe that this month our little spring chicken baby boy turned FIVE!  Birthdays are such bittersweet occasions–another sweet year of childhood in the books, but a new year of learning, growing, and milestones lay ahead!  We are so proud of this boy of ours but seriously, KINDERGARTEN is on the horizon…We are hoping the spring/summer months ahead will pass slowly and we can soak up our time together.

Last year at this time we had just moved into our new studio and threw a big outerspace birthday bash for G and his preschool friends.  This year we did not want to set a precedent, so we opted for a low-key birthday at home with just our family, then hit the indoor waterpark the following weekend with G’s aunt and uncle.  It was equally fun and much less stress. (:  I just did a few ultra simple decorations at home the night before, like taping up a curtain of streamers in his bedroom doorway.  It was so fun to see his reaction in the morning! Of course the party planner in me could not walk past the super cute gold polka-dot hats and noisemakers from Oh Joy’s line at Target!  I gussied up up G’s with a little paper fan and gold doily and it did my heart good to see him get so into it! (He was still wearing his hat 3 days later…)  

His one birthday wish was for a white funfetti cake.  Done.  I spangled it with nearly a whole jar of Easter egg sprinkles and crafted a little birthday bunting for the top using paper and gold glitter tape.

(Poor baby sis was pretty upset to learn she did not qualify for a piece of cake.  Maybe next year.)  And you guys. Please don’t judge.  We gave this boy the surprise of his little life when on his way home from preschool he discovered a brand new hot yellow Corvette Power Wheels parked outside our front door.  It had balloons tied to the steering wheel, but 3 were casualties of the rough sidewalk and wind situation.  Oh well. He had just enough time to squeal “thanks dad!” before burning rubber and racing down the sidewalk.  Yikes. I never want to forget his 5th birthday boy joy. (:DSC_5395-2

Jessicas-home-10Today was 50 degrees and sunny!  I stepped outside and the feeling was almost unreal.  It has been such a long, bitterly cold winter that it feels amazing to break out my rain boots, jump in melting snow puddles and come out of hibernation mode!

This week I was honored with the opportunity to do some early spring cleaning and share a little tour of our home over on Life Made Lovely.  Please hop over and have a peek!  When you browse the many other pretty and inspiring homes Heather has shared you’ll understand my intimidation and glee to be a part of her series!



It has been forever and ever since I’ve shared any crafty how-tos around here!  I created this bag about a year ago as part of a project tutorial for HGTV.  It has since become my go-to tote for library runs and swimming lessons.  The outer fabric is leftover from a Martha Stewart brand shower curtain I bought for my first apartment in college!  Since then I’ve mixed up my bathroom scheme a few times, but I never parted with the curtain because I still love the stripes a lot!  I also made a spare tote for Jeff’s mom as a mother’s day gift last year, and she is still telling me how much she enjoys it.  (:

This is a pretty quick, simple project for sewing beginners.  Just a few straight lines! I hope this inspires you to make one for YOU and/or someone you love, and that you’ll love it just as much!!

1. Materials Needed:

1/2 yard canvas or cotton fabric
1/2 yard of complementary cotton fabric for inner lining
1/2 yard of heavy fusible interfacing
42″ of canvas strap
fabric scissors or rotary cutter
sewing machine
Easy-Sew-Lined-Tote-Bag_Step12. Cut Fabrics:

Cut two 18″x14″ rectangles of both outer and inner fabric choices
Cut two 18″x14″ rectangles of interfacing.
Cut canvas straps into two 21″ lengths.


3. Snip Corners:

On the long side of all rectangles, snip a 2″x2″ square from only the bottom corners. Repeat for interfacing. This will form the base of the tote.

Easy-Sew-Lined-Tote-Bag_Step44. Add Interfacing and Sew Sides:

Press interfacing to wrong side of outer fabric rectangle. Tip: Follow the manufacturer’s directions for heating and adhering your interfacing. Pin outer fabric’s right sides together and sew straight 1/2″ seams along the sides and bottom of piece. Note: Leave the top and two snipped corners unsewn. Press seams open.

Easy-Sew-Lined-Tote-Bag_Step55. Create Corners:

Pinch together gaps in snipped corners, lining up the side and bottom seams in the center. Pin straight across and sew a 1/2″ seam. This step adds depth to the bag and creates a flat bottom.

6. Sew Liner Sides and Corners:

Pin right sides of inner (liner) fabric rectangles together and repeat the above steps.

7. Piece Together and Pin:

Flip liner right-side out and place inside outer fabrics so that right sides are together. Tuck canvas straps between inner and outer fabrics so that two edges of one face the front and two edges of the other face the back of bag. Pin the end of each canvas strap approximately four inches from side seam then pin fabric edges together around perimeter of bag opening.


8. Sew Bag Opening:

Beginning at a side seam, stitch a 1/2″ seam almost all the way around the tote, stopping 4″ before the starting point — this should catch all four ends of the canvas straps while leaving ample room for turning.

9. Turn and Press:

Pull both fabrics and straps through the 4″ gap, turning the tote bag right-side out. Lightly press with a warm iron to remove wrinkles.

10. Top-Stitch and Finish:

Top-stitch around the tote bag’s entire opening to finish edges. This will also help reinforce canvas straps and shut the gap left in the previous step for turning.


20140227-221322.jpgAlthough we are growing weary of winter weather around here, I might never grow tired of the wintery scene on our mantle (thanks to the pretty crocheted doily & garland from Sarah at Casa de Cupcake)!  I love it so much, it might be bittersweet to break out the springtime nests & eggs.  Soon.

This week. Just a few simple, real life, iPhone pics to share.  They are precious to me, even if they are not crisp or perfect. 20140227-224243.jpgWe celebrated the 6 month mark with this sweet girly of ours, or in Graham’s words, she is now “zero & a half years old”! This tiny daughter brings indescribable joy to our family and has filled a hole in our hearts we never even knew existed until she came on the scene. Lately she has been sitting up SO well on her own, and has figured out how to gracefully (err for the most part) maneuver from her bum to her belly then flip to her back. It’s so cool to witness all of these small discoveries! She is a huge fan of sweet potato purée and peas porridge hot. No one can draw out her biggest belly giggles and squeals of glee better than brother G. She LOVES his songs and dance. The brother/sister dynamic just keeps getting more fun. I love it so much!!


20140227-215326.jpgIn other news, we made a happy memory and took G ice skating last weekend!  I used to love skating when I was little and even got a nice pair of grown up skates in high school.  It’s funny—a decade or so later, they were still bright white and sharp when I unearthed them for this outing!  So happy I have a renewed excuse to make a fool of myself skating with this handsome young man of ours.  He fell 100 times but would pop right back up laughing and having the time of his life.  It warmed my heart a lot to carve simple loops in the ice and see this boy find so much joy and perseverance. Our kids teach us so much.



It has been so bitterly cold here.  In January, G’s preschool was cancelled FOUR different days due to dangerously cold windchills.  Blizzard? Two feet of snow? No problem.  But we cancel school here in Minnesota when it’s -40 or something.  Needless to say, we’ve been suffering from a bit of cabin fever.  I have been racking my brain and that thing called pinterest to find activities to keep this boy busy indoors.  If there is a silver lining in all this icy misery, it’s that it helped us get a jump on our Valentine’s crafting!!  I had G fold and cut hearts out of 2 dozen plain white notecards.  {Sidenote: I can clearly remember learning this heart cutting technique as a kid.  I swear it was my first crafty breakthrough in life. The possibilities are endless!}  Using a shallow takeout dish with a snap on LID, we added a few beads, marbles, even a golf ball that we found around the house.  Mix in a few squirts of paint, and all of the swirling consumed us for an entire morning.  He is excited to share these with his friends at school!livingtheswelllifeblog-020514-03livingtheswelllifeblog-111813-05DSC_9437