Friday, August 18, 2017

Spider Web Circle Skirt

A couple of months ago, I let Evelyn pick out some fabric while we were at JoAnn to make into skirts.

In reality, that first sentence doesn't do the fabric shopping experience with Evelyn justice. First we started with one skirt, then it became a sheer skirt with lining, then it became two skirts (one sheer and one solid). And the actual selecting of fabric? Well, after walking by many pretty bolts of fabric, the winners were a solid black knit and . . . sheer spider web fabric!

Spider Web Circle Skirt | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Halloween is half a year away (at least, it was when we bought the fabric), but hey, that's cool. You do you, Evelyn.

I followed this Circle Skirt Tutorial from Made Everyday and tackled the spider web fabric first.

Spider Web Circle Skirt | shirley shirley bo birley Blog
Spider Web Circle Skirt | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

It was overall an easy skirt to make. I had built it up in my head to be a difficult thing. Probably the most time consuming part of it was hemming the fabric. I think the material being slippery had something to do with it.

Over the weekend, I took some pictures of Evelyn in the skirt. She's funny and such a child of technology because she asked me to post pictures of her in the skirt on Instagram and Facebook!

Spider Web Circle Skirt | shirley shirley bo birley Blog
Spider Web Circle Skirt | shirley shirley bo birley Blog
Spider Web Circle Skirt | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Next, I'll be tackling the black knit skirt!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Evelyn's Kindergarten School Portrait Layout

There used to be a scrapbook store in Chandler near my mom's house (Annalis Scraptique), and I used to go to it after I came back to Phoenix after college, and before it closed in early 2008.

I've held onto many of the supplies I bought there, including patterned paper, slowly finding the "right" use for the supplies over the years.

10 years later, I finally found the perfect layout for a sheet of Urban Lily patterned paper: Evelyn's kindergarten school portrait! Just in time, too, because 1st grade starts in a week, ha.

(I also used a hoarded sheet of Urban Lily patterned paper for this Angel Baby Layout years ago)

Evelyn's Kindergarten School Portrait Layout | shirley shirley bo birley Blog
Evelyn's Kindergarten School Portrait Layout | shirley shirley bo birley Blog
Evelyn's Kindergarten School Portrait Layout | shirley shirley bo birley Blog
Evelyn's Kindergarten School Portrait Layout | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Since the patterned paper already has a lot going on, the need for embellishments was minimal. I did find, however, that some green canvas flowers from Jillibean Soup in my stash was pretty close in shade to the green on the patterned paper, so I was glad to have found a use for some embellishments that weren't otherwise up my alley.

I added some epoxy stars from Freckled Fawn, as well as did the title with American Crafts Thickers and Mama Elephant's Bella Letters stamp set. A piece of Evalicious flair was also added to the larger canvas flower.

I purposely didn't do much journaling on this layout since the focus was the school portrait, but I'm thinking I will end up doing another layout of some sort documenting Evie's kindergarten year (which I posted about here: Evelyn's Kindergarten Year)

I'm pleased with how the layout turned out and happy that I found a use for paper I've hoarded for a decade!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Evelyn's Kindergarten Year

Over the course of Evelyn's kindergarten year of school this past year, I started several potential blog posts to collect my thoughts on aspects of kindergarten. They weren't necessarily fully formed posts though - more of just brief observations/opinions. So to summarize the year, and since 1st grade starts in only a few short weeks, I'm talking about those observations/opinions here, as well as documenting pictures from the first and last day of school.

First Day

Evelyn's Kindergarten Year | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Last Day

Evelyn's Kindergarten Year | shirley shirley bo birley Blog


Friends that are parents of kids who aren't in school yet or friends who don't yet have kids: I thought I was done with homework after I was done with school, but alas, I failed to take into account that my kids would someday enter school and have homework.

After a particularly rough night of homework earlier in the school year, where several hours were spent on a single worksheet of 100 (age appropriate) addition problems, both Greg and I were mentally taxed. Not at the difficulty of the homework itself. But at the continuous babysitting and handholding and scolding related to the homework in order to not only get it done, but get it done right.

There was some improvement during the year, in that it wasn't always as painful as that one night, but it was still often an effort.

Side note: #2 is my favorite from this 10 Tweets About Homework That Will Make You Reach For The Wine article.


As a parent who works full-time outside of the home, I found this past school year that I needed to be better at leaving work early enough to pick up the kids and get home at a decent time. Usually this means leaving the office by 5:15 pm, otherwise I'm cutting it close picking up Evelyn by 6:00 pm.

I also realized that our week nights have to be more structured in order to get through homework, sight word practice, reading, dinner, bed time routine, etc.

I can't even fathom right now doing any extracurriculars during the week. How do parents who both work full-time outside of the house make that work with all the other things that have to happen at night between getting home from work and bedtime? Teach me your ways!

Also, confession: our house is often messy, especially during the work week. Apparently, things don't tend to stay clean and/or neat when you have kids? It may or may not actually get cleaned up during the weekend. It may or may not also depend on whether we have company over the weekend.

There was also one day later in the school year where I happened to get home a little earlier than normal, and I felt like it made such a big difference in what I was able to accomplish around the house alone, and focused on chores (Leaving Work Early a.k.a. Normal Time).

Apparent Tiger Mother

Greg also accused me earlier in the school year of being a Tiger mother. I was both offended and proud at the same time. It was during a minor tiff over Evelyn's schooling, and in this particular instance, the discussion included talk of Chinese school, weekday nighttime schedules, and teaching sight words.

It was also after a 45-minute session of trying to practice 20 sight words, the first batch of 20 out of 100 to be learned by the end of the school year. It was rough and the Tiger mother in me is like, We practiced all 20 of these words, like, four times already, why don't you know them yet?! Of course, not all kids learn the same way, and my method of memorization of flash cards was not as successful as Greg's Skittles-incentivized session.

It was this difference in approach between me and Greg that drove Greg's comment that I'm a Tiger mother. Part of me felt a skosh offended that he was putting down a method/mindset/approach that (in my opinion) produces many high-performing students, me included. It's worked for so many, why not Evelyn? I thought. I don't have a good answer, except that it's hard to get away from the Asian academic mindset.

I also want my kids to at least know some Mandarin, and yet I feel like it is a losing and/or uphill battle in a household where English is the dominant language, not only because of Greg, but also because it's what I would consider my primary language.

Three Rs

Reading and writing skills seemed to happen faster than I thought. Of course, in the moment, I'm sure I didn't think it was going very quickly, but looking back, I sort of can't believe it only took one school year. There seemed to also be an increased focus the second half of the year on basic math, though there were a few moments along the lines of "No, 5 + 9 can't be 9!".

There was somewhat of a learning curve at the beginning, but there was also improvement in (better) following classroom rules in order to not get her behavior clip downgraded to yellow, orange, or (gasp) red.

First grade is starting in a couple of short weeks. Hopefully she didn't forget all the things she learned last school year over the summer!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Wiksten Tank Review and Whale Print Chambray

Many months ago, I spotted this whale print chambray while at JoAnn with the kids one afternoon:

Wiksten Tank Review and Whale Print Chambray | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

I didn't initially buy it, though I was tempted. Greg was at work that particular Saturday and I was already infringing on Parker's naptime. So I hurried home with all my other fabric (that I, of course, needed - NEEDED - for other projects), but that whale print lingered in my mind. And so later that night, since Greg didn't get home very late, I made him go back to JoAnn with me, kids in tow, to get the whale print chambray.

It took me several months to even start my project using the fabric - the Wiksten tank - and then I was in the midst of being very busy at work, which meant that it also took me several more months to finish.

But finally, I finished! And I'm patting myself on the back for (a) finishing and (b) an overall pretty good job.

Wiksten Tank Review and Whale Print Chambray | shirley shirley bo birley Blog
Wiksten Tank Review and Whale Print Chambray | shirley shirley bo birley Blog
Wiksten Tank Review and Whale Print Chambray | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

I've worn, washed, and dried the tank a few times since I've finished. It's held up well. The only (minor) drawback: it has to be ironed before wearing (and I loathe having to iron clothes - but the whales!).

Following the sizing guide, I went with the XS size. I didn't like the pocket, so I skipped that step. I was also a little apprehensive given some of the other reviews I read online, but I decided to make the tank from the pattern with no alterations. One of the recurring things I saw were people talking about the gaping neckline in the back. I didn't personally have this problem as much despite not adjusting the pattern for it, but I could see how it would annoy people if it were worse.

If I were to make this tank again, I'd consider the following alterations:
  • Raising the neckline by an inch or so
  • Minimizing the neck gap following this how-to: Striped Wiksten Tank by Made by Rae
  • Using a more drape-y fabric, such as rayon (and hopefully doesn't wrinkle as easily)

If I were making the dress version, I'd probably also lengthen the dress. It appears to hit a little on the short side based on the pictures of the dress I have seen other people make:

I've actually already started on the dress version after picking out some suiting fabric (that I know doesn't wrinkle since I pre-washed and dried it). It's slow going between all the crafty things I'd like to do with what little time I have after the kids go to bed, but hopefully I'll finish in time for it to be part of this Summer of Basics Make-along!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sky Harbor Museum - Drawn to Pattern Exhibit

I went to a training in Dallas at the end of last month and while walking through Terminal 4, I saw the Drawn to Pattern exhibit currently on display. I was intrigued and so I quickly stopped in for a look (it's small).

There were a couple of artists' whose pieces caught my eye, and so those were the ones I snapped pictures of.

Patrick Dean Hubbell

These pieces remind me of scrapbook paper! I liked the other pieces in his That Which Makes Up Space series too.

Sky Harbor Museum - Drawn to Pattern Exhibit | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Carrie Marill

Get Up Get Down series - so colorful!


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