Author: Jess

I sew, I mom, I wife, I drink coffee.

No, I’m not “trying for a girl” (thoughts on being a boy mama)

I have four boys. When most people hear this or see me with my four handsome little men in tow, they say something to the effect of “So, are you going to try for a girl?!”

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Now, I’m sure everyone means well when they say this. Most of them say this because they have a daughter or have dreamed of having one. They can’t imagine how “crazy” or “loud” my house is. They think I’m missing out, because their picture of family includes girls.

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But what they don’t realize is when they say this, they’re implying that by having only boys, my family is incomplete. That my four boys haven’t made my life richer than I could ever imagine. What we tell boy mamas when we ask if they’re “trying for a girl” or even when we get excited for the mom who “finally got her girl” is that boys are not enough. Your life can’t be complete without a daughter. And let me tell you, that just isn’t true. Are daughters a wonderful and amazing blessing to their families? Of course! But am I missing out on the goodness of motherhood because my family doesn’t have one? Well, I don’t believe that for a second.

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Being a boy mom is different than being a girl mom in many ways, I’m sure. But I’m a mom, no matter the gender of my littles. I’m not a lesser mom because I didn’t “succeed” in birthing a baby girl. I’ve spent countless sleepless nights rocking and singing to my babies. I have wiped tears and butts and noses. I have cried and laughed and loved more than I thought possible. A mama’s job is to love her kids, and I have so much love bursting out of me for these boys it hurts. Each time someone wonders aloud if we are going to “try for a girl” my heart aches for my sons, within earshot, that they might think they aren’t enough. That they were the consolation prize instead of my winning lottery tickets. Why do we squeal with excitement when we find out a mom of two boys is now pregnant with a daughter, but when a mom is pregnant with her third boy, we apologize to her or say “Aw, well, I guess you’ll have to try for another!” or  “Look on the bright side, at least you don’t have to buy any new clothes!”

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If the Lord had given us a daughter (or four), it would have been an enormous blessing. Perhaps some things about our day-to-day life would be different, but we would have loved her with as much affection as we have for our boys. I’m not going to pretend I have never thought about what it would be like to have a little girl, but truthfully, boys are all I know now. And I can’t imagine it any other way. I don’t sew tiny dresses everyday, but who says boy clothes aren’t fun?!

My house is usually loud and my couches are ripped from all the constant jumping and fort building, and on any given day there’s probably pee on my bathroom floor. We spend our days laughing and climbing and reading and playing in dirt. My heart is full from all the snuggles and kisses and I love yous. There’s nothing I would change about my life. Well, except for getting a maid… I’d like to do that.

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If someday the Lord gives us a daughter, we would welcome her with grateful hearts and joyful smiles. But I’m not and have never been “trying for a girl.” My heart and my arms are full, and I couldn’t be happier. I will relish in the excitement of every niece born into my family, every friend who has a beautiful daughter, and I will stockpile my pink fabrics to sew them dresses and jumpers. And someday, my boys will get married and have kids and there will be daughters-in-law and maybe granddaughters, and then, I will happily “get my girl.”

So when you meet a boy mama, please don’t apologize to her for the blessings God has given her. Don’t feel sorry for her lack of pink, tulle, and pigtails. Instead, share in her joy. Laugh at her stories, listen to her worries, and invite her to your daughter’s princess tea party when she needs a little girly in her life. And kindly overlook the torn couch cushions and muddy footprints through her kitchen.

All photos used with permission from Brooke Collier Photography

DIY Reversible Mouse Pad: a tutorial

I love when I can take a little bit of fabric, a short amount of time, and come up with something that can brighten up a space. When I got sick of looking at my plain, black mouse pad, I decided to sew up a new one that would bring a little color and fun to my desk. It only takes a small amount of fabric, so its a perfect scrap buster project – great for those scraps that you’re hoarding and you can’t get rid of… you know what I’m talking about. Plus, this is a great beginner’s project to try!

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Supplies:

  • Two pieces of non-stretchy cotton fabric – size can vary, mine were approximately 8.5in x 10.5in.
  • Slightly smaller piece of fusible fleece (such as Pellon TP971F Fusible Thermolam Plus – affiliate link)
  • sewing machine, thread, etc.
  • scissors
  • iron

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1. Cut your two cotton fabrics to your desired size. I cut mine to be approximately 8.5in by 10.5in. Round the corners.

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2. Cut two fusible fleece pieces at least 1/2in. smaller than the cotton fabrics. Iron one piece of the fusible fleece to the wrong side of each fabric piece (be sure to check the instructions that come with your fusible fleece).

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3. Pin the two fabric/fleece pieces together, with the right sides together.

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4. Sew the pieces together, using a 1/2in. seam allowance. You want to sew around the fleece, so it’s not caught in your seam allowance. Leave an opening of about 2 inches as shown above.

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5. Clip the fabric around all the corner curves, as shown above. This will help your corners not to be bulky.

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6. Turn the fabrics right side out, using that small opening. Press the seams with your iron.

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When you are pressing your seams, make sure that the fabric around the opening is pressed under.

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7. Topstitch around the entire mouse pad.

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That’s all there is to it! In a short amount of time, you can brighten up your desk. No more boring mouse pad! And now you have yet another excuse to keep all those pretty fabric scraps. As if you needed another excuse. ;)

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And you can flip it over when your mood changes and you’re looking for something new. This would make a great gift for anyone who works at a computer – dads, husbands, teachers, or a blogging bud!

DIY Reversible Mouse Pad 2Happy sewing, friends!

 

FREE Yoga Pants Pattern!

Today I’m over at Melly Sews sharing my Zinnia Jacket as part of the Riley Blake Knit Love blog tour. I’m super excited to take part in the tour on Melissa’s behalf and have the chance to play with some super yummy Riley Blake knits. You can read all about the Zinnia Jacket over on Melissa’s blog, and if you keep reading, you can make your own yoga pants by grabbing your FREE pattern!

FREE Women's Yoga Pants Pattern from If Only They Would Nap

When I decided to make the Zinnia Jacket, I quickly realized it would be a perfect pair with yoga pants. And obviously exercise is so much easier with a cute outfit. The Riley Blake knits are fantastic for this!

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You want to have a solid knit with 40-50% stretch and a good recovery. You can sew this with a serger or with a regular sewing machine, using a zig-zag stitch.

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These pants have an oh so ridiculously comfy fold over yoga waistband and are super quick to sew together. Yoga pants aren’t just for yoga, you know… have you ever slept in yoga pants? SO comfortable! I love that the waistband also gives you a chance to play with accent fabrics, like these fabulous triangles. DSC_4677

Knits are my jam. If you don’t sew with knits often, don’t be scared!! Just give them a try. If I can put my booty on the internet, you can try sewing knits. ;)

You can download your FREE PATTERN here in size medium.
Finished length: 40in. from bottom of waistband to finished hem

After you print and tape your pattern together, cut your fabric out. If the size medium doesn’t fit you, you can use these same instructions to put together your own self-drafted pattern. Just copy a pair of pants you already own and you’ll know they fit you. Just remember to add in some seam allowance.

1. Lay your front and back leg pieces right sides together. Zig-zag or serge along the inseam and the outside of the leg. Repeat with the second leg.

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2. Put the two legs together and line up the crotch seams, right sides together – make sure that the front and back line up. You can easily do this by putting one leg inside the other, right sides together. Sew the two pieces together.DSC_4855

3. Cut two rectangles for the waistband 10.75in (length) by 16.75in (width) – make sure the stretch goes along the width. Sew the short ends together, right sides together.DSC_4858

4. Fold the waistband over.DSC_4859

5. Slide the waistband over the pants and pin together. Sew with a serger or zig-zag stitch.DSC_4863

6. Hem with a one inch hem (or more/less according to your desired length). You can do this with a coverstitch (affiliate link), a double needle, or a stretch stitch.

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Then go for a run! Or cozy up with a good book… I won’t judge. Either way, feel good about your new pants!

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Download your FREE yoga pants pattern here

Happy sewing, friends!

Hack a Full Zip Pattern into a Half Zip

Today I have an easy tutorial for hacking a full zip sweatshirt pattern into a half zip. I used the Zippy Jacket (affiliate link) from Blank Slate Patterns, as this post was originally posted for the Blank Slate Sewing Team, but you can do this to any zip-up pattern.

Hack a full zip pattern into a half zip

I originally had no plans to modify this pattern, but I really wanted to use a red zipper. I counted four 7inch red zippers non-separating zippers in my stash (why??) but nothing long enough to make the jacket. But perfect for a half zip!

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I made the size 7/8 for my tall seven year old. The fit is just perfect, and he says it’s really comfortable. It must be, because he wears it all the time.

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The pockets are my favorite feature of this pattern. You don’t find a lot of sweatshirts with these rounded pockets, and they give you a great chance to give a little peek of an accent fabric.

If you too have a stash of way-too-short zippers (or a little one who does better with a pullover), turning the Zippy Jacket into a half zip is really easy.

1. Instead of cutting two separate pieces for the front, cut one on the fold.

DSC_07502. After sewing your pockets, begin your zipper install. Draw a line from the neckline about five inches. (You may have to adjust the length if you are making a very small size – this one was size 7/8)

DSC_07783. Cut down your five inch line. Fuse a small square of interfacing to the back, allowing your interfacing to go over your cut. Then make a slit thorough your interfacing, like in the above photo.

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4. Fold the front piece in half, right sides together. Sew a basting stitch from the neckline down to the bottom of your cut. Lay it right side down and press your seam open.

DSC_00315. Lay your zipper down on the seam. You want the bottom metal part of your zipper to be just below the end of your seam. Your zipper will be sticking out over the neckline, and that’s good. You can tape or pin your zipper in place. I like to put a couple of pieces of scotch tape on the back and then pin a couple times on the front.

DSC_07966. Turn the front piece over and stitch around the zipper with your zipper foot. Make sure you leave about an inch at the top (as you can see in the photo) to attach the collar. Then use your seam ripper to open up your basting stitch and remove the stitches.

*Truth be told, I like to remove my basting stitch first, before I stitch around the zipper. I like when the zipper is a little bit more exposed, when I’m using a colored zipper like I did here. If you do that, just make sure you pin around your zipper to keep it securely in place. So my picture above shows more zipper than yours would if you did yours the way I originally described. But I’m a sewing rebel like that..

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Then, complete the rest of the pattern according to the instructions, except for the waistband. Attach the waistband as you did the sleeve cuffs (I did not alter the waistband’s size), since there is no longer a zipper going to the bottom.DSC_0860

This is really a must-have pattern! I may or may not have have squealed with joy and sent pictures to a sewing friend after I finished it.

DSC_0922The main portion of the jacket was upcycled from an XXL sweatshirt I picked up at a thrift store. With the zipper and pockets in the front, I used the original front of the sweatshirt and made it into the back. We gotta show our Wisconsin pride!

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I’ve already dreamed up three other Zippy Jackets (affiliate link). Good thing I have three other boys who also enjoy a good mama made garment!

Happy sewing, friends!

Reversible Mouse Pad for Craftaholics Anonymous

Today I’m over at Craftaholics Anonymous with my first post as part of the 2015 Creative Team! Head on over for an easy tutorial to make your own reversible mouse pad!

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Happy sewing!

 

Why Creativity Matters to Motherhood

I come across a lot of people who are astonished that I sew. Sometimes they’re amazed because they think sewing is a hard skill to learn (it’s not!). Usually, though, they’re baffled that I can find the time. They see me with my four kids, homeschooling, and they say – “Wow, how do you do it all??”

But in reality, I don’t do it all. I do a lot of things – some of them better than others – but I’ve made it a point to prioritize the things that I love. And creativity is a priority in my life. In fact, I think it’s a crucial part of motherhood. Sometimes I have a sink full of dishes, three laundry baskets of clothes that need to be folded, and floors that need to be mopped, but still I sew. I believe that creativity matters to motherhood.

“You are never too busy to make time for what you love. It’s just a matter of prioritizing — evaluating how you spend your days and dedicating time for what you value. If something is really important to you, you will find a way to fit it into your life.”
-Jessica N. Turner, The Fringe Hours

Why Creativity Matters to Motherhood

This post contains affiliate links.

1. I believe that we are designed to be creative, because God is creative. The Father made us with His own hands, and I think that He meant us to be makers. That means something different for each person. I create with fabric, but for you it might be music or baking or photography or words. No matter which outlet you choose, there’s a part of your soul that is itching to be creative.

2. I want my kids to know that art matters. Kids watch and learn. Even if you never tell them with your words (which, by the way, you should), they will see you doing that you’re passionate about and it will make an impression. They’ll watch you doing something creative, and it will help them believe that they can do it too. Kids are born to create – they need to feel things with their hands and make new worlds out of clay, paint, crayons, and paper. When they see their mama pouring her heart into something she loves, it affirms that natural creative desire they have inside themselves. If raising creative kids is a important to me, which it is, I need to model this to them and show them it’s a priority in my own life.

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3. Creativity is energizing. Every time I sit down at my sewing machine, something happens inside me. As I take the fabric and make it into a dress, a pair of pants, a bag, whatever – my heart skips a beat. I can ride the “sewing high” of a successful project for weeks. When I’ve had a hard day, maybe the kids are sick or someone has flushed a mitten down the toilet (true story) or we’ve all been hibernating from the -40F windchill, sewing can turn my day around. It can put me in a good mood again and remind me that oh yeah, it was just a bad day… we’ll start fresh tomorrow.

4. Learning new skills keeps my mind active. Motherhood is a lot of repetition and sometimes it can make you feel like all your brain cells are slowly dying away. Between wiping booties and boogers and spending your days speaking to someone who can’t make conversation back to you about anything other than Daniel Tiger, it’s important to find something that sparks your creative side.

5. Kids need to see their mama doing something other than taking care of them. I spend a lot of time taking care of my boys. From the time they wake to the time the go to bed (and sometimes even after that), I’m caring for their needs. I’m teaching and training and breaking up brotherly squabbles. I pick up toys and wash dishes and make meal after meal. It’s hard work, and I’m so blessed to be able to do it, but I want my boys to know that being Mama is not everything that I am. When my boys see me sewing, not only do they see me working with my hands, but they notice that I’m doing something that doesn’t involve them. It’s good for them to see that they aren’t always the center of my universe!

6. Making time for me makes me a better mom. In the book The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner, she talks about how self-care is not a privilege, it’s a necessity. I agree wholeheartedly. Motherhood takes a lot of sacrifice, and it’s something I do willingly. But that doesn’t mean I should forget about who I am and the passions that drive me. Taking care of myself well means that I’m less cranky and more filled up inside, so I have more to give to my husband and my kids. I don’t need to feel guilty about the time I spend on myself. As Jessica says, “Choosing yourself is not wrong. The longer you go without taking time for yourself, the more resentment will fester, exhaustion will set in, and you will have nothing left to give — to anyone. Guilt has no place in the decision to take care of yourself.”

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The book The Fringe Hours releases today, and it hits the nail on the head. This book isn’t just for moms – it’s written for every woman who has a hard time believing that making time for herself is important. I found myself nodding along with Jessica’s words, agreeing with her that if I don’t prioritize myself and my creativity, it doesn’t make me a better mom or wife. In fact, it makes it harder on me.

Your creative potential will never be reached if you don’t make time for yourself. By spending your fringe hours – the time you have set aside just for you – doing something creative, something you’re passionate about, you’ll feed your soul and be a better mom, wife, sister, or friend. Creativity is a key part of who you are as a whole person – spiritually, mentally, emotionally. Your creative side matters because YOU matter.

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What are you going to do to make time for yourself? If you’re not sure where to begin, start by reading The Fringe Hours. Jessica gives you practical tips on how to prioritize yourself and take back your fringe hours. Motherhood is important work, but making time for yourself – for your passions and your creativity – is crucial. We need to model the behavior we want from our children. Show your kids that your fringe hours are a necessity. Your creativity matters, mama! Make the time. Do it for yourself and for your kids.

 

Disclosure: I was given a copy of The Fringe Hours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are honest and my own.

My Creative Process: around the world blog hop

My lovely friend Julie from Our Chez Nous invited me to join the Around the World Blog Hop. The participants are sharing a bit about their creative process or what they’re creating. I love getting a little behind the scenes look at how other designers and seamstresses work!
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I love Julie’s style and attention to detail. She was one of my Bottoms Up Pants testers, and I just loved having her as part of my testing team!  You can see her blog hop post here.

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I’m a list maker. I like to put pen to paper, brainstorm, and plan, plan, plan. I write lists of ideas, patterns, blog posts. And then I make more lists for what I need to do for each of those things. I seriously love lists. Anything goes when it comes to brainstorming – no idea is too crazy. I write it all down and then choose the project that I’m most excited about sewing. Sometimes I sketch out my ideas as actual pictures next, but usually I just dive in and start cutting.

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If I’m drafting a design from scratch, I draw out the pieces and then just try it. I’m pretty hands-on when it comes to designing, so I really don’t know if something will work unless I actually sew it and look at the final product. Then I tweak and make changes. I like to lay five or six different fabrics out at time before deciding which ones I’m going to use together. But sometimes I abandon that plan, because as I’m going through my fabric, I come up with a better idea. Suddenly it’s all I can think about, my excitement takes over, and I throw myself into that new project with all my creative energy!

I get ideas everywhere I go – I’m inspired by clothes I see people wearing (anyone else find themselves distracted by pants construction during church? no?), architecture, art, books, everything. Being the list lover that I am, I keep a running list in my phone so that no matter where I am, I won’t forget my idea. I also snap quick photos of things that inspire me when I can. Sometimes I even wake up in the middle of the night with a crazy idea that I need to write down. Ah, the life of a creative. ;)

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I’m not super organized when I’m mid-project, and I’m pretty easily distracted by pretty fabrics (who isn’t?!) and new ideas. But if I have something in mind, I’ll obsess about it until it’s been sewn. Right now I’m working with this lovely pile of Riley Blake knits that are so incredibly delicious. I’ve been playing with different design combos for this fabric, and I’m super excited for the direction I’m going with this project.

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I’m passing along the blog hop baton to the lovely Laura of Craftstorming! She’s a fellow boy mama and I just love her designs – they’re fun, practical, and unique, and she always has a fresh take on everyday garments. So make sure you head over there next week to see her post!

Happy sewing!

Quilted Camera (diaper!) Bag for Blank Slate Sewing Team

Today I’m over at Melly Sews, with my Quilted Camera Bag turned diaper bag! Head over and see what has gotten me more compliments that probably anything I’ve ever sewn!

Quilted Camera Bag sewn by If Only They Would Nap

No Doubt inspired sewing: Sew in Tune

Today I’m letting the music be my muse, with one of my favorite blog series: Sew in Tune! I super love this series, put on by Stacey of Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts and Melissa of Melly Sews (you can see my looks from previous years here and here). Last year I came across an amazing pair of pants that were crying out to be upcycled, and as soon as I saw them I thought of Gwen Stefani.
No Doubt inspired sewing for Sew in Tune

If you’re a fan of 90s rock (and if not, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore. kidding. sort of.) you certainly know No Doubt. I was a huuuuge No Doubt fan in the 90s. In the Spiderwebs music video, Gwen Stefani wears these rad plaid pants:

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So when I found a pair of red plaid pants at a thrift store, I knew they’d be perfect for this song. I mean, red.plaid.pants. What’s not to love?

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 Communication, a telephonic invasion
I’m planning my escape…

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In a nod to the old school phones all over the place in the video, I appliquéd one onto my little guy’s shirt and free motioned the phone cord. Of course, he has never seen a phone like this in his life. But 90s rock is educating in so many ways.DSC_3650

Sorry I’m not home right now
I’m walking into spiderwebs
So leave a message
And I’ll call you back

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I re-used the existing waistband from the original pants, because I loved the three silver snaps. The fabric has a little bit of stretch to it, so they’re super comfy. I kinda wish I would have made this look for me instead, though I’m not sure I’d rock it quite as well as he does!DSC_3702

The pants have a little flare – I made them almost the same as these pants, and I’m thinking of drafting them into a pattern, because I love the fit.DSC_3782

The shirt? It’s a self-drafted top that’s upcycled from a jersey bed sheet. I love the stripe-plaid combo, and feel like Gwen would approve.

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A likely story, but leave a message
And I’ll call you back

There are many more Sew in Tune posts that you have to see (and you’ll probably get a song or two stuck in your head)! Make sure you check them out over at Melly Sews and Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts. Plus, head over there this weekend for an awesome giveaway!

Happy sewing!

Easy, Last Minute Valentines

Easy Last-minute Valentines

So, it’s Wednesday. If you haven’t gotten Valentines yet, you’ll probably find that they’re fairly picked over at the store.DSC_4168

But no worries, you can make these incredibly fast and easy, last-minute Valentines!DSC_4162

In fact, they’re so easy, it will probably take you longer to read this post than to actually make them.DSC_4167

Supplies:

  • washi tape
  • pencils

That’s it!! I got these adorable sparkly pencils and this “Happy Valentine’s Day” washi tape in the Target dollar spot. If you can’t find actual Valentine’s Day washi, just grab a marker and write it on top of your favorite washi tape!

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These are great for the playgroup you forgot about or even for just stashing in your child’s backpack for the teacher’s aide you didn’t realize helped out in their class.
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If you’re a procrastinator, there’s still hope!
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I love celebrating love. :)
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