Party in the Back Dress FREE pattern

It’s finally summer, so that means it’s time to wear dresses! I’m joining up again with Melissa at Melly Sews for her 30 Days of Sundresses series! You can check out my last year’s post with free pattern here and the previous year’s tutorial here. This year I decided to stick with my knit dress theme (because knits are my jam) and make a cute little sleeveless dress with a slightly gathered yoke and a super fun cut out back. So I had to name it the Party in the Back dress! :) Keep reading for the full tutorial and to download your own FREE pattern!This dress is really simple to sew and SO comfy to wear. The slightly gathered yoke gives it a little bit of interest while still letting the fabric be the focus.

Unless, of course, you’re looking at the back, and then this fun cut out is the focus!

And hopefully the fun cut out in the back is enough to distract you from the weird short hairs that are growing… I blame the baby. ;)

I have a one-size pattern (size medium) free for download. If this size doesn’t work for you, you can use this tutorial to use a pattern you have on-hand to make your own cut-out back dress.

Download Your Party In The Back Dress FREE Pattern

Quick note on fabric: you want a stable knit with good stretch. Really drapey knits will not work well for this dress.

1.Print out and tape/glue together the pattern pieces. The pattern is tiled four across.

2. Gather the front and back pieces. They are very slightly gathered until they match the front and back yoke pieces. Sew the back yoke to the back gathered piece, right sides together, and repeat with the front.

3. Cut out a strip 14.5in x 1.25in for the binding for the back cut out. Sew the binding onto the cut out, the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the cut out opening. 

4. Fold over the seam, folding the raw edge under.

5. Sew the binding down. You can do this with a double needle or a coverstitch. I used a coverstitch with a single needle.

6. Overlap the ends of the cut out about an inch to form the circle. Pin or clip together.

7. Sew the shoulders together, right sides together.

8. Sew the sides together, right sides together.

9. Cut a 24.5in x 1.25in strip for the neckline binding. Sew the short ends together, right sides together.

10. Sew to the neckline as you did with the cut-out binding. *only here, use a 1/2in seam allowance. Make sure you secure the ends of the cut-out binding in your seam.

11. You can hem the armscye with a double needle or coverstitch as I did. Or you can cut a 16.5in x 1.25in binding and sew it like the previous bindings.

12. Hem the dress to your desired length. I took a couple inches off the pattern, because I am short (5’3″) and I wanted the dress to be a fun above the knee summer length.

13. Press the bindings and hems really well.

Download Your Party In The Back Dress FREE Pattern

 This dress is super comfy and is going to be a staple in my wardrobe this summer!

To check out more sundresses, make sure you pop over to Melly Sews to see what everyone else has been sewing.

Happy sewing, friends!

 

 

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Planning a Family Vacation Without Losing Your Mind (plus FREE packing list printable!)

                                     
Summer is here! Schools are letting out and everyone starts thinking about pool days, park time, and family vacations! When you’re planning a vacation with kids, it can be easy to stress about lots of details: where to sleep, what to eat, what to bring, etc. I have a list of ten things to help you plan a family vacation without losing your mind (plus a free packing list printable, so keep reading!)

1. Don’t overplan.

Kids are unpredictable. You may arrive at your destination only to find that your kids are content with doing one activity the entire time you’re there! Have a few preplanned outings or activities, but keep your schedule loose and allow for flexibility.

2. Bring snacks.

This is basically a given when you’re traveling with kids, but it will make your life easier. Rather than having to search for food to eat when those inevitable hangry meltdowns occur, pack some healthy snacks that your kids enjoy. It also helps for those “You want me to eat WHAT?!” moments that happen a little more often when traveling. ;)

3. Schedule nap/rest times.

When you’re away from home and filling your days with activities that aren’t the norm, your kids are going to need some down time. And let’s face it – so are you! Plan to spend at least an hour each day (or more, depending on the ages of your kiddos) resting and doing quiet activities like reading, card games, or taking naps. This will help everyone to recharge and have more energy – and fewer meltdowns!

4. Pack light.

Unless you’re vacationing in a remote village somewhere, you probably don’t need to pack everything you own. Many hotels and water parks have laundry available, so you don’t have to worry if baby goes through all five outfits in the first day. When my kids were younger, I would pack lots of toys for them to play with, only to discover that they were so excited to be in a new place, they barely looked at their toys! So bring the bare minimum and know that you can always grab extra supplies at a nearby store if you find you absolutely need them. You’ll be happy to carry fewer suitcases!

5. Pack a few familiar comforts.

Whether it’s a lovey, an essential oil diffuser, or a cozy bathrobe for snuggling in after swimming, everyone likes to feel at home when they’re away. I always let my kids chose one stuffed animal or blankie to have on long car rides or in hotel rooms. That familiar feeling tends to help everyone sleep a little better!

6. Make a list.

I just looove lists. Whenever we take a trip, I make a huge list of everything I need, so we don’t forget anything. I really adore checking off boxes. :) I have a great packing printable for you free at the end of this post!

7. Choose a kid-friendly location.

Not all vacation spots are made for kids, so choose wisely. We love vacationing in the Wisconsin Dells, because there’s something for everyone. The Kalahari Resort is family friendly and has activities for all ages. They have both indoor and outdoor waterslides, so you can have fun even when the weather isn’t that great.

The Kalahari Resort here in Wisconsin recently added an awesome new outdoor waterslide, which just opened this Memorial Day. The new ride “The Smoke That Thunders” looks amazing! You can pile on these big rafts with your family and friends and thunder down the epic waterslide. I can’t wait to try it!

Over the years, my family has traveled to the Wisconsin Dells many times, and the Kalahari Resort is perfect for families with multiple ages. Since there’s such a wide variety under one roof, you don’t have to get in your car to go elsewhere unless you want to. One-stop vacationing is my jam. Because once I’ve gotten everyone out of the car, I really don’t want to get back in unless we’re going home! Mom can hit up the spa (um, yes please!!) while the kids are playing arcade games, then we can all meet back at the waterpark. There are water activities appropriate for every age level, so no one feels left out. That’s important for a big family like mine. ;)

Since there’s so much to do in one spot at the Kalahari Resort, you really don’t need to pack much. They have towels, food, fun activities, arcade games, and more. So you just need to pack a few personal items! I’ve made a free printable to help your packing go a little smoother.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PACKING LIST PRINTABLE

If you’re not close enough to drive to the Wisconsin Dells Kalahari location, be sure to check out the Sandusky, Ohio location!

What packing tips do you have to help keep your sanity?

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DIY After Sun Spray

It’s that time of year for fun in the sun! Going to the beach, the park, meeting friends for cookouts… I love it all! But with all that time in the sun, sometimes your skin can end up needing a little soothing at the end of the day. This After Sun Spray is just what you need to cool down your skin after a long day outside.

DIY After Sun Spray Recipe

This post contains affiliate links

Ingredients:

after sun spray ingredients 1. Drop in your 100% pure essential oils

2. Pump in your aloe gel

3. Fill the rest of your bottle with witch hazel

4. Shake to combine

5. Label your bottle with washi tape!

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So easy! Now you’re all set to support healthy skin after a long day in the sun!
Want to see a video of how to make this spray? Check out the live video I did on my Facebook page!

Quick and Easy Avocado Spread

The other day I found myself in a snack dilemma. It was mid-afternoon, close enough to dinner that you don’t want to eat too much and ruin your appetite, but far enough that you need to eat something before you pass out or get hangry.  Being the day before grocery shopping, though, we were a little bare bones. No fresh fruit. No yogurt. I contemplated a smoothie, but then I saw one lone half of an avocado in the fridge from breakfast. Because desperation is the mother of all invention (that’s how that goes, right??), and my belly was crying out for guacamole, this quick and easy avocado spread was born!


This is so easy that you can probably make this right now.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 or 1 whole ripe avocado
  • Granulated garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Lime vitality essential oil or lime juice

Now don’t blink or you’ll miss these quick steps:

  1. Mash the avocado with a fork
  2. Add a few shakes of garlic and salt
  3. Add 1-2 drops of lime essential oil or a squeeze of lime juice
  4. Taste and tweak the flavor to your liking!

So easy, right??

Then grab some crackers or veggies and munch away! And never waste a random half an avocado again. :)

PS, if you want to find the essential oils I use, click here or shoot me an email at ifonlytheywouldnap at gmail dot com 

Must-have Cardigan Patterns for Women

I love cardigans. I mean, I really, really love cardigans. I wear a cardigan nearly everyday in the fall, winter, and spring. And probably a lot of days in the summer too! I love to have a variety, and I’ve been itching to add a few more to my handmade wardrobe. It probably helps that cardigans are a bit more accommodating to a postpartum mama’s body! There are some awesome cardigan patterns out there right now, and they each have their own unique style. I’ve gathered up some of these must-have cardigan patterns for women, so hopefully you can find one that you like as well!

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1. The Esme Cardigan from Named Clothing is first on my to-make list. I purchased some awesome thick sweater knit that I’m hoping to use for it. I’m planning to make this one a little bit shorter, but I love the pockets and plan on wearing it kind of like a coat!

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2. The Phinney Ridge Cardi from Straight Stitch Designs is such a classic style. I own a bunch of ready-to-wear cardigans in this style, but I wear them so often that some of them are wearing thin and need to be replaced. I might make this cardigan a touch longer. I also really love the elbow patches!

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3. The Driftless Cardigan from Grainline Studio is similar to the Phinney Ridge, but longer and with super fun pockets! I think the big pockets are so unique, and I think this would be so cozy.

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4. The Carrie Cardigan from Delia Creates is the perfect cocoon cardigan! I actually don’t own any cardigans in this style, and I’ve heard that it’s a super quick sew. There are a couple different views of this cardi – long or short length, plus long or short sleeves.

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5. The Ficus Cardigan from Sew Like My Mom is definitely out of the box for me. I usually don’t like peplums, but I feel like as a cardigan, it wouldn’t be quite as overwhelming. I think with the peplum, it could make a casual outfit feel a little dressier!

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6. The Laurelhurst from Straight Stitch Designs has been out for awhile, and this is one of my favorite cardigan styles as well. I have a couple similar ready-to-wear already, but they’re all funky patterns, and I want some solids. Plus, I’m never disappointed with Melissa’s patterns, so I’m willing to step out of my comfort zone on this one. :)

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Clearly I have some lofty sewing goals! And the freakishly spring-like weather we’re having in the middle of February makes me want to sew really quickly, so that I can get to wearing these before spring actually arrives! Wisconsin surely has some winter left, so I need to bust out the sweater knits and french terry while I can.

Happy sewing!

DIY Valentine Mailbox

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, your little ones probably have school parties and Valentines to exchange. This adorable Valentine mailbox that’s just what they need to collect their treats! Valentine Mailbox Tutorial

Supplies:

  • Glimmer Felt (this is a stiffer felt, which helps the mailbox stand up, but if you have regular felt, that will still work!) 
  • Embroidery Floss
  • Embroidery Needle
  • Wool Felt

1. Cut two pieces out of the Glimmer Felt — the rectangle is 5x9in and the other is 11.75×4.75in with curved corners. *This mailbox is perfect for a smaller class size, but you can easily adjust the size of this mailbox if you want to make it bigger.step 1

2. Place the curved piece glitter side down, then put the short end of the rectangle in the center of that curved piece.Using a blanket stitch, begin sewing the two pieces together.step 2

3. Sew all along the first side, then fold the curved end of the bottom piece up to meet the top.

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4. If you have Wonder Clips, use them to hold the top piece down while you continue to sew around the back (use binder clips in a pinch!)

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5. At this point, trim around your curve if it doesn’t seem to perfectly match the top of the mailbox. Then sew around the back until you reach the corner. Stop at the corner.

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6. Cut out a mailbox flag.

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7. Sew a heart out of wool felt to embellish the flag.

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8. Attach the flag to the side of the mailbox.

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9. Finish sewing the along the bottom of the mailbox.

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10. Attach a small piece of embroidery floss and a button to close the mailbox.

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You could also use the wool felt to embellish the mailbox – the front would be a great place for another heart!

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Now you’re ready to stuff your mailbox full of fun Valentine treats!step 11

If you don’t have kiddos in school, this would make a great Valentine decoration around your house to leave little love notes for whoever lives in your house!

Make a Valentines Day Mailbox

Such a great way to make Valentine’s Day a little bit cuter!

Cutest Valentine Mailbox

If you’re looking for some DIY Valentine ideas, check these out: 

Free Train Valentine Printable


Easy Last Minute Valentines


Free Dinosaur Valentine Printables


Heart Pencil Toppers


A Valentine for everyone!

Make your own Valentine Mailbox

Happy sewing!

Peanut Butter (and Jelly!) Granola Bars

 

If you’ve ever had a picky eater in your household, you know the angst of trying to get them to branch out. Our picky eater would eat the same meal for lunch and dinner every.single.day. if we let him: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Seriously, this kid LOVES his PB&Js. I’m constantly working to get him to try new foods or even a new way to eat a food he likes. You mamas of picky eaters know how hard this is! So for a healthy and fun twist on his daily PB&J, I’ve been making these super yummy peanut butter and jelly granola bars for lunch or snack time instead!

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I’m pretty choosy about what foods we put into our bodies, so I really enjoy cooking and baking from scratch whenever I can. I’ve made these granola bars for years, and they’re always a big hit. I feel good about my family eating them, because I know exactly what’s inside. Homemade granola bars are always better than packaged and processed! They are also really easy and quick to make, which is a necessity in this season of my life.

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Because we put Jif Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter inside the bars, they pair absolutely perfectly with our favorite Smucker’s Fruit Spread!

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We have used Smucker’s Fruit Spreads in our house for as long as I can remember. I absolutely love their “Simply Fruit” line – no added sugars! I’m a big fan of short ingredient lists. :) And the Fruit and Honey Triple Berry spread… oh my, I could eat it on its own, it’s so yummy.

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We spread the jelly and peanut butter on top, and then – to make it more like a true PB&J – we put another granola bar on top.

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This “sandwich” is easy to pack in a lunchbox, or put some jelly in a reusable container for dipping your granola bar. Pickiest eater approved!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you won’t be surprised that one of my favorite places to shop is Target. We go through a loaf of bread in like five minutes, so the fact that I can pick up our PB&J supplies and this adorable basket and PINK rolling pin, all while drinking coffee (bonus points if I’m alone!)… well, I’m sold. ;)

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And I love love LOVE the Cartwheel app! Last month, I forgot my login password, and seriously spent an extra 20 minutes in the store trying every password I could possibly have used, then reseting my password, just so I could use my coupons. Ha!! Right now, both Smucker’s Fruit Spreads and Jif Peanut Butter Spreads have Cartwheel savings – which I totally used. Because seriously, five kids is kind of a lot and any little bit I can save makes me a happy mama!

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Ready to make your own??

Peanut Butter (and Jelly!) Granola Bars

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons ground flax
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 – 1 cup raisins/chocolate chips/chopped nuts *optional

1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
generous 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

optional toppings:

jelly
creamy peanut butter
bananas
chia seeds

Directions:

1. Combine all dry ingredients.
2. Combine all wet ingredients.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until evenly moistened.
4. Spoon onto 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper – press evenly into the pan.
5. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until the edges begin to brown (27 minutes is the sweet spot for me!)
6. Let cool completely before cutting into pieces. If you don’t, they will be crumbly and not stay formed into bars. They will still be yummy, but they may be more like granola instead of bars. :)
7. Top with Jif Natural Creamy Peanut Butter and Smucker’s Fruit Spread, and maybe some bananas or chia seeds too!

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My kids could NOT wait for this batch to cool, so we ended up with a lot of bite-sized pieces. Luckily, small pieces make the perfect snack.

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How do you combat the boring lunch blues??

15 Sewing Projects to Help You Get Organized!

Happy New Year! I love when things start fresh… new years, new seasons, new school years, new notebooks. As we’re starting 2017, I’m doing a huge purge of my house. We moved into our new (old) home last February, and in that time I’m realizing all the stuff that we don’t need – or want – encroaching on our space. I’m also looking for pretty and functional ways to organize the things we do have. So today I’m sharing 15 sewing projects that will help you get organized!15-sewing-projects-to-help-you-get-organized

Floor cushion with hidden storage

This floor cushion was an easy way for us to store stuffed animals and other soft items when we needed to corral them. We’ve simplified the stuffed animals collection, so I think we’ll repurpose this one for blanket storage this year.

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Nesting Baskets

I was eyeing up some fabric baskets at the store the other day, when I realized I’d rather have handmade ones! These from Jess at The Sewing Rabbit have a free pattern, so I’m going to use some of these to corral toys and baby blankets.

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Puzzle envelopes

I love these puzzle envelopes from my friend Jodi at Sew Fearless, and I think they’d work great for organizing some of our homeschool supplies.

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Essential oil travel case

I need to make a few more of these essential oil travel cases, because one just isn’t enough for the oils I want to carry with me out of the house!

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Zipper pouch

This is my current favorite type of zipper pouch to make and use. I’m finding them so handy that I need at least two more.

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Rolled camp kitchen

I’m not a big fan of junk drawers, but I need a place to put miscellany – items that don’t seem to have a home, but should. I think this rolled camp kitchen from Sabra at Sew a Straight Line would be great for hanging in the closet and collecting those items.

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Trading Card carrier

I made this carrier for my boys’ football cards last year, but I think I need to make a similar one to hold playing cards and other little card games. It would make it super easy to grab when I know we’re going to need a distraction at an appointment or when we’re headed away for the weekend.

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Fabric Tray

I hate how dresser and table tops are stuff collectors! I want to make a couple of these fabric trays from Anna at Noodlehead for our night stands and other places that seem to collect all.the.things.

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Clothespin Bag

This clothespin bag from Melissa at Melly Sews is the perfect solution for housing plastic grocery bags in our basement by the laundry!

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Simple tote bag

A lot of our reusable grocery bags have gotten dingy and just need to be tossed. I’m going to sew up a few more of these tote bags to replace them!

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Gym bag

New year must mean new health resolutions, right?? Everyone and their mom is heading to the gym. This baby weight isn’t just going to melt away. ;) I love this gym bag from my friend Melissa at Sew Like My Mom!

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Bedside pocket organizer

My boys love to take books to bed, and I think this bedside pocket organizer from Sew Can She will help keep them from becoming a giant pile next to their beds!

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Wet Bag

I need to make a larger version of this wet bag. I still use this one in my diaper bag (SO handy to have, along with this changing mat!), but my large wet bag has seen better days and needs replacing.

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Vinyl Lego Organizer

Any other moms have a love-hate relationship with Legos?? Okay really, we love Legos in our house. They provide my boys with hours of creative play. But organizing them… YIKES. I love this vinyl lego organizer from Emily at Nap-time Creations, and I think it could be a great solution!

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Crochet hook case

Okay, so I don’t actually crochet (ha!), but my mom recently taught my oldest how to knit, and my knitting needles aren’t very accessible. I want to make a case like this one from my friend Delia at Delia Creates to put all the needles, so he can get to the ones he needs on his own, without me digging through a bin in the basement!

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Here’s to getting organized in 2017! Happy sewing!

Holiday Traditions: Throw a First Snow Party (and a giveaway!)

We recently had our first snow of the season! And wow, it was a beautiful one. It was the kind of snow where it sticks to the trees and comes down in big, fluffy flakes. It looked like we were living in a giant snow globe! It was also the kind where you didn’t really have to shovel, hehe. The kids had a blast playing in it. Since this is our first full winter in our new home, they were over the moon to sled down our hill and traipse through the snow-covered woods. There’s something magical about the first snow (I know Lorelei Gilmore would agree with me on this), so we like to celebrate by throwing a First Snow Party!
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I love holiday traditions, and since becoming a mom, that’s something I’ve really enjoyed sharing with my boys. I can tell they love having things to look forward to year after year. Plus, traditions like this are just FUN!

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We pull out all the stops for our First Snow party: holiday treats like ice cream, cookies, egg nog, hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream (or a peppermint mocha for mom!), and some popcorn thrown in for a salty fix. ;)dsc_8700-copy

There’s also something so special about holiday foods, and Kemps Candy Cane Ice Cream, Peppermint Bark Moose Tracks, Egg Nog are perfect for this tradition. I think they almost taste even better because you know that you’re not going to be able to eat it year-round.

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My boys seriously went nuts for the Kemps Candy Cane Ice Cream, but the Peppermint Bark Moose Tracks was my fave. They kept thanking me over and over for the special treats. You know something is a hit when they are literally licking the bowl!

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I also discovered that my boys had never had Egg Nog before. What?! Don’t worry, that’s been corrected. It went over like gangbusters, in case you were wondering.

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See how much fun my kiddos had in this video:

(Click here if you’re having trouble viewing the video.)

I just love the holidays!! Sharing these traditions with my family is such a blessing, and I’m so excited for all the memories we’ll make this year, our first Christmas in our new (old) farmhouse and our first Christmas with our new baby.

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And in the spirit of Christmas, I get to give away some of this yummy goodness! Five winners will each receive a coupon for free Kemps products, so you can try these delicious treats for yourself and make memories with your family!

To enter to win, leave a comment answering the following question:

What holiday traditions do you have in your home? How are you celebrating the Christmas season?

*please leave your email address if it is not connected to your account, so I can contact you if you win!

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You can find out more about Kemps by visiting them on Facebook or Twitter.

Buffalo Plaid Sweater Pillow Tutorial

I’m going to make a confession: my house isn’t decorated for Christmas yet. Usually I’m way ahead of the game, but with a little baby, it just hasn’t happened yet. And I love decorating for Christmas! I may have to leave things up a couple extra weeks to make up for it. ;) This year I made a fun and  holiday pillow – it’s one of the few things I have out right now. This buffalo plaid sweater pillow is cozy, easy to make, and would be a great gift or addition to you own holiday decor. Christmas decorations are so fun to make, like this vintage-style Christmas light garland, and this one has a touch of whimsy that is sure to add to your festivities!

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Supplies:

  • old sweater
  • polyfill or pillow form
  • pom pom trim
  • buffalo plaid fabric scraps
  • scissors
  • sewing machine
  • thread

1. Grab an old sweater in the color of your choice. I’m a huge fan of upycling, and sweater pillows are one of my go-to decor options.

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2. Cut the sweater to your desired size – cut apart the seams so you have two separate pieces.

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3. Cut out your letters from your buffalo plaid fabric. The fabric I had on hand was a french terry (which is stretchy), but you can easily do this with a woven non-stretchy fabric. Pin the letters in place onto the front piece.

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4. Zig-zag stitch around the letters to appliqué them onto the front of the pillow.

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5. Sandwich your pom pom trim in between the front and the back, with the right sides together. The pom moms should be pointed toward the middle of the pillow. You can pin or clip the two pillow pieces together, but I found it easier to just tuck the trim in as I was sewing.

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6. If you are using a pillow form, you will want to sew only three sides of your pillow and then insert your pillow form. If you are using polyfill like I used, then you’ll want to leave a small opening at the bottom of your pillow, with your pom pom trim unattached as shown.

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7. Turn the pillow right side out, stuff the pillow, and then close up your opening (or your entire side of the pillow if you are using a pillow form). Use a small zig-zag stitch to close up your opening, as this will hold your trim in place a little better than a straight stitch.

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The trim and the buffalo plaid are so fun, they are sure to put a smile on everyone’s face this holiday season!

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I’m loving the red and teal combo – it’s a little out of the box for typical Christmas decor, but breaking from tradition is good sometimes! :)

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If the pom pom trim is a little too crazy for you, try some piping instead! The process is the same and still gives a fun touch to your sweater pillow.

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Buffalo plaid is everywhere right now, and I can’t get enough of it! This cozy sweater pillow is the perfect way to add some to your holiday decor!

Have you started decorating for Christmas? What are your favorite DIY decorations?

This post originally appeared on Skip to My Lou on 11-17