Thursday, February 28, 2013

DIY Sandals (Made from Cheap Flip Flops)

So one of the biggest challenges facing me with this pregnancy is what to wear to work while I'm getting more rotund and less comfortable.  While the winter months have meshed well with my nonexistent and then slight baby bump, summer offers skirts and empire-waisted dresses to cover the growing swell.  But shoes become a problem.  My current fave shoes are dansko clogs; big, comfy, clumpy shoes that do a great job giving me foot support and a lousy job looking cute.  And they will NOT work with summer dresses.  Ballet flats, while looking great with skirts, are not so very nice to my swelling feet and ankles and, lets be honest here, summer = open toed shoes.  I need sandals.  

But sandals have three major problems: height, flip-floppeing and price.  Because the high shoes, while offering enough cushion to help my lower back, are not good for my balancing abilities.  The thinner shoes, on the other hand, offer no cushion at all.  Cushy sandals of a good height are inevitably flip flops (a HUGE no-no for the office).  And the perfect combination of low heel, cushy, non-flip-floppy sandal are usually $60-80+.  Not that I'm faulting the designer or shoe store, they gotta make a living too, but I am not plunking down that kinda moolah on a few strips of faux leather.  
And with the vast creative design of Pinterest at my fingertips, I went forth on a quest to find a way to make a cheap pair of nice looking sandals.  The results: zip. At least, zip for what I'm looking for.  All the ones I found involved wrapping ribbon or leather straps around the existing foot strap, making a pretty flip flop, but a flip flop none the less.  Further searching led me to this picture and hope!

This is what I wanted! A convertible sandal that has the basic sole of a flip flop but can be tied in such a way that the footwear neither flips nor flops.  But, alas, my hope was short lived.  The Pin led me not to a tutorial, but an Etsy site.  And these pretty sandals are 1) discontinued and 2) EXPENSIVE!!!!! (Granted, they are hand made out of beautiful leather and organic cotton straps and if you want a beautiful pair of flat sandals and are worried about your Eco-impact, please support the seller and buy here.) 
So here is my attempt to recreate these beautiful shoes using el-cheapo parts of the Wal-Mart variety.  
(First, please let me apologize for the crappy quality of these pictures and how dark it is.  It wasn't until I was done that I realized a black cord on a black flip flop on an espresso couch in low light would not make the best tutorial pictures.  If I ever repeat this process with lighter flipflops, I solemnly swear to post better looking pictures) 
You will need: 

  • An exacto knife
  • Scissors
  • Yarn or tapestry needle
  • Pliers
  • Super glue
  • Marker that will show up on the sole of your flip flop (silver in my case)
  • Something thin (but not necessarily sharp) for poking
  • 3 yards of double fold bias tape PER SANDAL (6 yards total)
  • 70 inches of thin cord.  I found a pack of waxed shoelaces, each was 27" long and I used 2.5 of them.  The point is, you need a thin, strong cord that can be threaded through your needle and will stand up to walking around all day.  
  • You also need flip-flops.  

I found mine at Old Navy, which sells two pairs for five dollars. I intend to make two pairs of sandals, one black and one brown, but the tutorial only shows the black.  Okay, got your stuff? Lets begin. 

 Cut the existing straps of the flip flop at the toe and ankle and pull the plugs off the bottom. 

Mark about where you want your loops to be.  We are going to "sew" the cord on either side of these marks, so if you don't mark it perfectly, that's okay, you can adjust.

Thread your cord through the needle and knot the other end.  My waxed shoelace formed a really tight overhand knot, so I really didn't need to do anything fancier.

Push the needle from the bottom up back by the heal.  You will need your pliers to force the needle and thread through the plastic.  This takes a lot of effort.

Go about an inch down the shoe towards the toe and push the needle back through.  You don't need the top loop all that tight.  A little bit of give will help you later when you pass your ribbons through the loops.

Back on the bottom, position your needle about a 1/4" along from where you came down from the top and then push your needle only half way through the plastic.   

Take the exacto knife and cut a shallow incision connecting where the cord comes out and where the needle goes in.
Push the needle all the way through and then use your poky instrument to jam the cord into the slit.  This will protect it from wearing too fast when you walk. 

Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you have four top loops, with the cord ending up on the bottom.  Tie an overhand knot and cut the string.  Repeat down the other side of the shoe.

For the toe anchor: push your needle through the thin rim of plastic that would stop the plug from popping out the top of the shoe.  Make a smallish loop and press the needle back down to have the two tails on the other side.  Overhand knot these two together and then pull the loop up the top, so that the knot is tucked into the existing hole.

Thread your bias tape in the desired manner.*
And you're done!
* I chose to fold my bias tape in half one more time and sew it shut after making this tutorial.  It looks more like ribbon, it's a bit thinner, and I think it'll hold up longer.  This is personal preference.  If you like the wide look or want to use ribbon, that is your choice and it'll still work fine.  

One last thing: I was thinking I needed superglue to fill in the incisions where the cord got tucked in, this is optional.  If you want to, do it.  If not, no worries.  Now, practice ways to lace your new sandals.  

Please ignore my pasty-white, pregnancy-swollen feet.  *You* will look fabulous!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Constant Change is Here to Stay...

Years ago, my Grandma went to England and brought back a charming little saying: "If you don't like the weather, wait 30 minutes, and it'll change."  I am feeling that way now.  Just this week, we have had days of 60F, 20F, Rainy, Sunny, Windy, Sleeting, Calm and everything in between.
But between you, me, and the bunny, I am ready for some summer sunshine, warm (read: HOT) weather, flip-flops, swimming, frappes, and BBQ's.  So to hasten on the changing seasons, I'm updating my template from the cold-snowy-rain-with-a-mountain blog to bright, green, blue and purple, springtime shot.  And maybe, that'll get me through the rest of February (and some of March) before the sun is out and the daisies bloom.

Has it been 30 minutes yet? 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Registering for a Thankful Heart

A long time ago (beginning of January) in a galaxy far, far a place called my In-Laws House, my wonderful, kind, sweet, could-not-ask-for-a-better-one Mother-in-law, K, asked how my baby registry was going.
Insert theme from Psycho here
Baby registry? As in baby STUFF?!? As in, OHEMGEE IM GONNA BE A MOMMY AND ALL I HAVE RIGHT NOW ARE SIX PAIRS OF BABY SOCKS AND A STAR TREK BABY SPOON!!!!!!  This led to me furiously reading countless blogs to try and figure out what, out of the myriad of baby things, I needed for Baby R.  And then I pretty much panicked and went into denial.
Oh a registry? Yes, I suppose that is a good thing....and I'll get around to it..................sometime before June.  I hope.
Fast forward to mid February, me getting horribly throwyuppy sick, staying home and flat on my back for nearly 48 hours and getting cabin fever.  J suggested we at least go out to get one of those big fluffy body pillows (best invention since the mattress) and, since we were out, let's at least look at some baby stuff.  So we went to this store called Buy Buy Baby, which is essentially Bed, Bath, & Beyond, for babies.  The store is laid out exactly the same.  Some of the items are the same.  It was weird and strange and wonderful all at once.  But because it was not located all that centrally or conveniently to, like, anybody, we didn't register there.  But we did look.  And, me oh my, is there a lot of baby crap.  Oy vey!
Since then, I have been cobbling together two registries at Tarjhay and BabiesRThem, trying to stick to the bare necessities.  Washcloths, stroller, car seat, baby towels, changing pad, thermometer, grooming kit, thinking everything else I can thrift or borrow and good grief, new stuff is expensive! And the last thing that I want is to create this big huge list of expensive stuff for a little baby who will use it for a maximum of a year when I can buy gently used items for a tenth of the cost.
And then J got a call from his mum: You don't have enough stuff on the registry.
What do you say to that? I'm sorry, but I don't need your generosity because I'm a self sufficient proud woman who can make due with what she's got? Or, the slightly more humble version: Oh, but we don't want to be a burden on anyone.  Or, I don't want to take advantage of the generosity of my friends and family members by expecting to receive anything.  All of which are truly what ran through my head and what I have been wrestling with the last two days.
The problem with registries is that it can easily turn me into a greedy gimme pig.  And I don't want to be.  I want to be grateful for and content with what I have.  I want people to have the freedom to not buy the baby anything, or buy things that don't come from a predetermined list.
After much angst, J took me aside and said something to the affect of: Creating a registry doesn't mean you're forcing anyone to purchase anything from it and many people find registries helpful.  He also reminded me that this is how his family blesses others and that we don't have to register for super expensive things and that yes we will be grateful for what we receive and not expect to receive anything.
I was caught in a place between my pride and others generosity. I wanted to provide for my baby myself, and only rely on others for a few things. And rather than letting me have my own way only to realize, struggling, how much help I actually need, God gently taught me this by blessing me with abundance, with generous hearts of those around me. For "What do you have that you have not received?" (1 Corinthians 4:7) Nothing. Everything is a gift, a perfectly ordained gift from the hand of my Lavish Father.
And I am so grateful.
I am grateful for how God exposed my sin of self sufficiency and for how He taught me thankfulness.
Today, I am thankful for:
My Baby, kicking up a storm
My blood parents and my love parents, for their giving hearts
My husband, for how he gently leads me
My God, who always knows and always acts for my good.
Oh, how He loves me, oh, oh, how He loves me, how He loves me, oh.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Closets and Organizing and Piles Oh My!

Tuesday, I took the day off for a super long 20 week check up.  The afternoon I spent tackling a project that had been messing me up for a while: the closets.  Our little house has one master closet, two bedroom closets, a linen closet, a hall closet, and a utility closet.  J took the closet in the office and reorganized it into bins of my crafting supplies and his paperwork.  The hall closet is being used for long-term food storage (ie: the Hurricane/Ice Storm/Zombie Apocalypse of DOOM is upon us food storage) and is packed to the gills.  The Master closet I cleaned out and organized back over Christmas Break when I was no longer feeling icky-sicky.  And the utility closet will be perfectly organized once my beloved husband moves his mountain of hand tools off the floor.  Which he promises to do.  Any day now.  .............................
This leaves the Linen closet and the closet in the Nursery.
Now, the Nursery has been also the Guest room, the Staging room, the Dumping room, the Guests-are-arriving-in-5-minutes-just-put-it-there-! Room, and its closet completely reflects this sorry state of affairs.  There are boxes that I threw in there from when we moved in. Three years ago.  I know, sad, right? But I didn't have the wherewithal to tackle that closet just yet so I went after the linen closet.
8 pillows, 16 bath towels, 3 bath sheets, 6 hand towels, 10 washcloths, 3 queen sized sheet sets, 1 twin sized sheet set, 8 pillowcases, two duvet covers, 6 shams, 4 curtains, a bin of rags, 5 tubes of wrapping paper, one bag of throw pillows, and one sleeping bag later, we have this:

And I have a closet with room in it.  Yay!
It didn't take so much space as I thought and actually went a lot faster than I was expecting.  Really, the longest part was deciding which shelf to put towels on and which shelf the sheets should go on.  I think I even have room for my box of yarn at the bottom.
Which leads me to the Nursery closet.  This contained Pyrex baking ware, yarn, cloth, picture frames, leftover flooring, curtain rods, the empty boxes my vases and other breakable moved here in, old notebooks from high school and college, some smaller art supplies, and a fondue set.  I would like to know how all this accumulates in one closet.  Is there a random-things-in-closets fairy that runs around mucking up organized domesticity? Or is it my penchant for I'll-deal-with-it-later-itis that leads me to start projects and not finish them.  Speaking of, I did get all that stuff out of the Nursery closet, but finding a home for it all is proving a bit of a challenge.  I kinda lost the urge to find homes for what's left.  So here's the nice empty closet:

And here's what's left:

I think a lot can go in the attic or out in the storage shed.  And I do know what to do with my teacups. And that box of baby decor is going to go up once I 1) clean up this mess and 2) get the furniture moved in here.  So I guess I do know what to do with it all.  It's just getting myself to do it.  Maybe Saturday.
Until then, I will revel in my cleaned linen closet and dream of a tidy little nursery.

20 weeks

So J and I went for my 20 week appt yesterday.  Short story: baby's fine, I'm fine, life is good and wonderful and amazing.
Long story: ultrasounds are probably the coolest thing on the planet.
We go in and the tech, Deana, starts to wand my stomach and there is my little baby, all curled up and wonderful looking.  (We're not finding out the gender, so the "he" I use for the duration of all posts is generic and not to be interpreted as being anything).  Little head with a brain, little spine with ribs, little legs with shin bones, little chest with a heart and kidneys and diaphragm and stomach.  Everything so small and perfect looking, even though it was all grainy shades of grey and black, but still, there was my baby, alive and healthy and growing!
J, I think, had more fun watching Deana manipulate the machine.  But there were several points where he just started going "Wow" and I agree with him completely.  It was a wow moment.  It definitely gives a new meaning to: 
"You formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them." ~ Psalm 139: 13-16
Because there was my baby, being formed inside me, knitted together in a way that I do not understand.  But God does.  God knows.  God sees.  And God is growing a little miracle inside of me.  Definitely a WOW moment.  

We met with my OBGYN afterwards, asked a million and one questions, grabbed Panera for lunch, showed Mom baby pictures and called J's mom to update her. 
Afterwards, we went home, J went to work and I started organizing closets. Which is where I'll end this post and finish later. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Today, I am ...

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Today, I am rejoicing because
  1. There is a Savior, rich in mercy, quick to pardon all my sins
  2. God my Father is in control of all things
     3. This Video:   

Today I am praying for:
  1. Sarah at work, who got what I had and is feeling blechky
  2. Baby Reeves would keep growing and be safe and healthy
  3. My 20 week appointment tomorrow--that I would know what questions to ask and have the wisdom and mindfulness to process it all.
  4. Kindness 
  5. Peace
  6. Patience
  7. That J would have energy enough to balance the end of Winter Sports and the beginning of Spring Sports and that he would NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT (Please Father God) not get sick. 

Today, I am thankful for (in no particular order)
  1. I am over the horrible stomach flu thingy I got late Thursday night.  
  2. I didn't have to go to the hospital/doctor's office because of the horrible stomach flu thingy.
  3. Baby Reeves kicking Mommy's stomach every time I vomited, as it let me know s/he is safe and still alive (though probably unhappy about my sorry state of affairs)
  4. An amazing husband who let me lay on the couch pretty much all weekend and be sick.  
  5. Starting a baby registry  
  6. Dear friends who keep me from being overwhelmed by baby stuff.  
  7. Church on Sunday
  8. Grandma coming home safe from the hospital 
  9. Rain falling, even on a Monday

Thursday, February 7, 2013

And Be Thankful

I was reading in my new favorite blog, Kate & Kuby (more on them later) about the best way to fight worldliness is with thankfulness.  And I realized that so much of my day is filled with bitterness, grumpiness, sourness, and anger rather than joy, peace, kindness, and love.  But how easily my attitude changes when I begin to focus on things that I am thankful for.

This might be why Paul mentions thankfulness three times in his Colossians 3:12-21 passage on characteristics we should put on.  More than any other attribute, Christians should be thankful.  

Oh Lord, please help my heart to change from complaining about everything to rejoicing always and giving thanks in all circumstances.  Remind me how much I have been given.  And help me find joy in You and what you have done.