sewing skirts in Palm Springs

by Dana on October 5, 2015

Palm Springs 1
A few weeks ago I headed off to the annual Girl’s trip with my sisters/cousins. Woohoo!
And the day I flew out, THIS fantastic fabric showed up in my mailbox.
Idle Wild Knits
So the only logical thing to do, was to pack up my sewing machine.
Truck it along to California….
Baby Lock sewing machine
….and in-between this:
Palm Springs 2
and this (thank you Rite Aid)
ice cream on MADE
….the plan was to wrangle the girls into sewing these:
Pencil Skirts!
Pencil Skirts by MADE
And they did it, and loved it!  The skirts looked so great.
And I’m totally in love with these Idle Wild knits.  Adorable.

Pencil Skirt video
I don’t know the exact release date, but Idle Wild knits are coming out soon.  They’re designed by the Pattern Anthology ladies, for Riley Blake Designs.   This is the 2nd time I’ve sewn with their knits and I really love the feel, stretch, and weight of the fabric.  It’s perfect for a stretchy Pencil Skirt…..which yes.  You see me sew these a lot.  But they’re just so easy, and so cute! Every time.

If you missed my How-to-sew-a-pencil-skirt-in-20-minutes video, you can watch it here:

And if you’ve ever wondered about traveling on a plane with your sewing machine (I did)….it’s super easy.   I ordered THIS sewing machine trolley (2 days before my trip.  Typical.  Thank you Amazon Prime!)  It was fantastic.  It’s like a small rolling suitcase/carryon.  I ordered a generic brand, and my Babylock fit in there perfectly.  I don’t know why I never bought one of these before?  It made it through TSA security without a flinch….which in a dorky way disappointed me.  Really?  That sewing machine looks normal to you on Xray??  You’re not just a little curious about it?
I guess there’s a slew of TSA-ers making quilts in their off-time?  Who knew?

So when I got to Palm Springs, I set up my machine in the kitchen and one night we all went crazy…cutting, sewing, and helping each other out.

It was so much fun to sew with my cousins!  Here are Lauren and Debbie, two cousins I don’t get to see very often.  I love these girls.  Lauren (on the left) sews a ton and was a little worker bee, helping everyone else before working on her own skirt.

Debbie (on the right) sews a ton too and has the cutest laugh.  She’s so fantastic to have around.

My cute sister-in-law Sara just moved to Texas this year, so it’s been fun hanging out more with her.  She’s more of a beginner when it comes to sewing with knits and she did an awesome job!  I love her skirt, in the floral print.
How to sew an easy Pencil Skirt
And this just made my day when Debbie and my other cousin Karis walked out wearing matching skirts.  “Is it too much?”
And they headed off to go shopping in their Idle Wild skirts.  Love it.
How to make Pencil Skirts
All together, the group sewed 8 adult pencil skirts, and 1 teenage skirt.   It was the perfect mix of relaxation and project-making.

Thank you Riley Blake for the cute fabrics!
knit pencil skirts on MADE


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Lunar Eclipse from our Texas deck

by Dana on September 28, 2015

Holy cow!
The Harvest Moon + Super Moon + Lunar Eclipse combo last night was outstanding!

And we caught it just at the right moment, on a bit of a whim.
Like the first time we saw the Austin bats….just hanging out on a deck and looked up to see a stream of black, painting the sky.

We thought the eclipse was going to be later around 11pm/midnight.  But around
9:30pm Central time, Casey walked out on the back deck and he immediately knocked on the window for me to come out.
And there she was, all gorgeous in her red gown….like she was going to Homecoming or something.

So I grabbed my camera and tripod and snapped as best as I could.
It was hard to grab focus because the moon itself was so dark.  But here you go.  From our Austin, TX backyard.
Canon 60D, 300mm zoom lens, f 5.6, ISO 800
I especially love the little scatter of stars.

How vast is our universe.  How small is our own little world.
Another great reminder of the larger picture.

And just like that around 11pm, it was back to white.

And I hate to sound so silly by simplifying the obvious….but Space is truly amazing and fascinating!  Just like the internet.  And the human heart.  And cotton candy.

Were you able to see the moon last night??
I loved the shots from the west coast, with a pink moon floating in a pale sky of blue.  So cool!


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red + aqua Texas Dress

by Dana on September 16, 2015

I never understood the whole Texas Pride thing until we moved here.
I’d always heard about it.
I’d always wondered about it.
Everyone told me everything’s bigger in Texas—(which might be true, especially the square mileage of dusty brown land).
But once you come live here—or even just visit—you get it!
It’s not an ego thing, or feeling like it’s better than somewhere else.
And it’s not because of that pretty brown grass I know you’re jealous of below.   Believe me, I miss California grass and ants that don’t bite, every day.

It’s just that Texans really, really love where they live!
And they want everyone to know it! —and to come join the fun if you want!
And if not, no problem.  We’ll eat an extra pound of brisket for you.
Every Friday at my kids’ school, after saying the Pledge of allegiance, and the Texas pledge, and having a moment of silence, they sing a version of “The Stars at Night are Big and Bright”.  I love it!  My favorite line is “living is fun in the Texas Sun…clap, clap, clap, clap… at our schoool in Austin!”
Because it is!
We have loved living here in this big land of Texas.  And I’ve written multiple posts about it here.

There are waterholes for fishing and swimming, football games for cheering, wildflowers for loving, and tons of great music and food for enjoying and date-nighting.

And I love that my kids get to learn all about Texas at school.  I remember doing a similar thing in California—learning about the history, early settlers, the California Missions….and then making our own 3D mission from sugar cubes and cardboard.  Please tell me they still do that in school?

So for Clara’s first “Texas Day” at preschool I gave her my own little version of the Lone Star State:
I’m vicariously gaining citizenship through my kids.

This is a variation on the First Day Dress, which I never seem to get tired of.  There are so many ways to mix it up!  I often think I should put together an “add-ons” package to go with the pattern….with more sleeve options, collars, etc.  Yay? Nay?

Changes I made to this version:
• front and back necklines are cut lower.
• puff sleeves with bias tape binding and elastic strung through the binding.
• gathered skirt, rather than the circle skirt included in the pattern.
• back ties, rather than button closure.

All fabrics are from Joann Fabrics.  And I know.  Gingham was a little cliche.  But who doesn’t love a picnic tablecloth on a tiny body, mixed with aqua and wildflowers?

Then we threw it together with red boots, which I bought at a thrift store years ago, and which she insisted on putting on herself, and which totally fell apart at school so I glue-gunned the sole back on the boot for our photoshoot.
But the best part about the dress is that she loves it.
And wears it almost every week to church.
Happiest compliment a little cowgirl could give me.
Have a great week my friends!

And thank you, thank you for your kind and honest words in the last post.  It’s taken me a couple weeks to shake things off and get back in my groove.  So I appreciate your sweet thoughts.

In the words of Tim Riggins,
Texas Forever.


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I knew it was something that had never entered her innocent 9-year-old mind.  And I hesitated to tell her.  I knew she wouldn’t understand.
I don’t even understand.
But it was a cloud hanging in our air last week.
She overheard Casey and I talking about a funeral on Saturday and asked what had happened.
How did he die? she asked multiple times.
I tried to be aloof and said we weren’t sure….that it might have been a car accident.  But when she brought it up again later that day, I thought I should be honest.
And it broke my heart all over again to sit down, and in simple terms try to explain something that is so complex and impossible to comprehend.


Last week a sweet, kind, talented young man in our community took his life.
He was only 16.  He was liked and loved by everyone around him.  His family loved him.  His church family loved him.  He was smart and funny and smiled whenever I saw him.
Many of his peers had seen him just hours before the tragedy occurred.
And everyone is left wondering how and why?  And what could have happened differently?

I know this is not the typical post you come to read on my blog.
But it has weighed heavily on my mind this week and I can’t stop thinking about it.  I get emotional every time I picture that sweet young man, joking around with his friends, having fun.  And I hope that writing this down will help ease some pain for anyone feeling sad this week, or aching for the loss of their own friend.

Because this makes me sad on so many levels.


Sad for his sweet family who loved him dearly and are living a horrible reality.
Sad for his 14 year-old brother who will forever remember finding his brother.
Sad for the many close friends he had in our youth group at church and at school, who are confused and heartbroken to lose their friend, and buddy, and swim teammate, and co-worker.
Sad for others who have lived through a similar experience.
Sad for taking away part of Lucy’s innocence, to explain to her that someone can actually shoot himself—that some people feel sad enough in their lives, that they want the pain to end.

And for myself….sad and thankful for the small interactions I had with him while working with our youth group at church.  For the past 5 years, I’ve been able to work with the young women (12-18 years old),  in our congregation at the Mormon church.  Many of them were close friends with this young man.  I’ve loved being a part of their lives and watching their talents grow.  They’ve taught me so much and I hope I’ve inspired them as well to want to live good lives and be kind to others around them.  Serving in the Mormon church is time-consuming.  For those of you unfamiliar with our faith, all “callings” within the church are non-paid positions, that rotate around with all individuals in the congregation.  Those asked to be a Bishop, leaders, teachers, etc. spend many hours, giving service to people around them.  And they do this because they love others and they love God.

But just last weekend I had been complaining to Casey about this very thing…I had told him I was tired of giving so much of my time to church callings, and to kids, and to all the things that I felt were being asked of me, and of him.  This conversation had come right when summer was coming to an end and I was worn and spent by our busy lives. I was aching for some time to jump back into my blog and business.  I was spread thin.

I think we all feel this way.  Every mom.  And those of the Mormon faith know the fine details I’m referring to.
And then just as I had spent the week complaining in my own mind, came this sad death in our community.
And I immediately felt selfish.
Selfish for putting something so trivial as my blog above the opportunities we all have to help others. How insignificant it seemed in the larger picture of life.


And I was suddenly thankful for the many hours I had spent with the youth girls, in church lessons, chatting in the car, going to dances, toughing it out at girl’s camp.  And for the many hours we and the other women I serve with had spent discussing these girl’s needs and how to help them each individually in their lives—to help them through the tough times they were facing.  I was thankful for the teachers in our church and at my kids’ school who teach my children good values.  And I was thankful for the people who have touched me in my life.  I was saddened by the loss from our community, and also happy that I get to be part of the bigger picture.  We all do.

And I thought of all the wonderful people who have been part of this young man’s life.  It’s easy and natural to retrace our steps and wonder if we could have said just that one thing differently.  We can feel guilty and continue to ask why?

Sometimes there are no answers.

It’s very hard to understand how a young man, who appeared so happy on the outside could make such a horrible decision.  The eulogy at his service was beautiful, remembering the many great talents he shared with us all.  He was very involved with the swim team at school, and all of his teammates showed up for the memorial service wearing their blue swim shirts, so proud that they knew him.  The sea of blue (and some red shirts from the opposing school) just made me cry.  What love.

But I also appreciated the honesty of the eulogy.  The speaker touched on something that I started researching a bit last night called Impulsive Suicide.  Because as a parent and friend, we all hope we can prevent someone who may be feeling the same to snap out of the impulsive moment.


I read a few articles here, here, and here that all came to the same conclusion—that many suicides, when they occur lethally (such as by a gun, rather than by a slower culprit such as a drug overdose that may have a chance to be stopped) are often contemplated and carried out in a short period of time.  They are often impulsive.  They happen within 5 minutes to an hour of the original thought occurring.  Someone hits a sudden low in life (due to unforeseen experiences to those of us on the outside) and the person simply wants the pain to end.  Taking their life seems like the only way.  A few survivors (cited in this article above) who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge realized immediately that they did not want to die, and immediately regretted their decision.  Impulsive acts like these are not always thought-out.  But tragically, they are final.


Sorry for the heavy post here my friends.
I’m definitely not a psychologist.  Nor can I even imagine what it feels like to be this boy’s parents.  I know some of you have gone through this sad experience in your life.  And my heart breaks for all of you.
I don’t know what sad event or thing in this young man’s life took him to a low point.
But I love these words his parents wrote at the end of his obituary:

“Please hold him close, as we do, in your mind and spirit, and remember the meaning of this tragedy. Reach out to those in need of a friend, and let us honor the qualities and gifts that make each of us unique. Tell someone how much they mean to you even if you think they already know.”


If you feel sorrow or loss in your own life, there are many beautiful messages here.
If you feel inspired to call or text a friend out of the blue, do it.  They will only thank you.
If you’ve ever felt low in your own life, please remember that there are hundreds of family members and friends who love you, and are cheering for your successes.

Many hugs and prayers for this sweet family.
And thanks for letting me share with you in this open space. I promise the next post will be full of fabric and happier times.

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