Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Following a trend and saving $$

Pin It My husband and I were enjoying an evening out with with my husband, we walked around the mall a bit window shopping. At the Banana Republic I saw lots of cute clothes but there was a lace top that I especially liked.
When I returned home I remembered a pattern I bought last spring on BurdaStyle. #116. And then, when I was shopping at Joanns for something totally unrelated, I saw the an pretty navy lace that would work perfect.  So I impulse bought the lace.

A couple days later I printed out the pattern and after an afternoon of leisurely sewing and an evening with a needle and thread in front of the TV I had a nice lace top.  It is not exactly the same as the Banana Republic blouse, but I like it just as much.

The pattern told me to bind the seams on the inside.  But I instead simply serged them and then top-stitched them down.  But I did cut some bias binding from some scrap navy silk and bind the wrists, hem, and neckline with the silk.

This pattern is super simple and really took no time to sew.  The taping of the pattern and cutting the fabric was probably have the time consumed.

And the final result was certainly less than the BR price tag of $59.50.

If you are interested in hearing more from us, there are a couple ways for you to keep in touch!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Traveling with Kids: the basics

Pin It Back in December, I explained that Without Directions was going to change direction a bit.  It started as a blog with four contributors, but over time really only had one lady writing, me.  And I almost exclusively wrote about my sewing or other crafty endeavors. But, I have a desire to add talking about travel, specifically traveling with children and with that adjustment, I also decided to acknowledge the reality that I was the only one writing (which is perfectly fine and there has been no negative emotions related to that).

So ...... (insert drum roll here)  Here is my first official travel post.

How does your family spend vacations?  Do you go to visit family?  Camp? Go to the same tried and true destination?

Well, my family of five loves to explore.  I am in the military and my job requires us to move quite frequently.  This is just fine with my husband and I because we love to get to know new places.  We always use the new location as a home base to see a new part of the country ... or the world.

Anchorage, AK

We have lived in Alaska, Washington (the state), and a couple different locations in Virginia in the United States.  Also, we have been lucky enough to be sent to Germany on two separate occasions.  And at each new home, we traveled around to see the sights and learn the history of the area, and those locations within easy driving distance.  Though the stress of the moves can be difficult, they have really fed our hunger for travel.

Our first time to Germany was when we were newlyweds and we did not have any children.  We had a blast.  Conversely, our second time in Germany we arrived with a seven year old, three year old, and a five month old.  Many people assumed that we were not going to be able to really experience Europe this time because we had three kids ... one of which was an infant ... in tow.  But they really could not have been more wrong.  I have been surprised at how many people believe you cannot travel with children.  Now, don't get me wrong, it was not the same; but it was still entirely delightful and completely possible.


We have learned several lessons that have made traveling with young ones quite enjoyable.  And as I have time, I am going to share them here, on Without Directions.  Let's start now with some basics.

First, have a plan.  When my husband and I were a young married couple, we would on the spur of the moment decide to leave for the weekend on a Friday afternoon.  We rarely made hotel reservations and often would not make it to our original destination because we would get distracted by some sight we saw along the way.  It was impulsive, seat-of-your-pants travel and so much fun.

But this is not wise with children.  One, children do have schedules and really need them to not be completely tossed to the side.   Two, if you have more than two children in Europe, you are a LARGE family and many hotels will not have room for you.  So, you should know where you are going and have sleeping arrangements made before you leave.

Smokey Mountains

A second key to success is to not over plan.  We found that our kids could do two big events in one day very successfully.  But rarely could they do a third.  We would plan accordingly.  Several times we had a third, minor event/sight as a tentative plan in case they were up to it.  If you push your kids too hard they stop having fun and if they are not having fun, you probably aren't either.

So how do you choose your big events?
We like to have a few travel books dealing with the region we are traveling in.  Each travel book seems to have a different focus/personality, so it is helpful to have more than one available as they will have different perspectives on what to see.  I recommend getting at least one that has a lot of pictures.  This way your young children can participate in the planning by pointing out things that look interesting to them.

link to Amazon

Our two favorite "brands" of travel books were the Fodor's and DK Eyewitness travel guides.  The the DK books have wonderful pictures and discuss a lot of the history and demographics of the region in the first chapters.  Fodor's is very data intensive and can recommend where to go, stay, eat, drink, dance, etc.  Other travel books we have used is the Lonely Planet and Rick Steve's.

link to Amazon

Third, pack food.  Always.  Nothing saves the day more frequently than an easily accessible snack.  In the best of worlds, you will find a place to easily whenever it is needed.  But, we don't live in a perfect world and when you are in an unfamiliar place, the likelihood of you making all meal times is slim.  A snack can go a long way in averting a melt down.

And finally, be flexible.  Plans will change.  And that is OK.  It is part of the adventure of travel, with kids or without, to not know what exactly will happen next.  It is helpful to have a 'spare' sight to go see when the primary sight is suddenly unavailable.  Or, if the kids really need a nap, go back to the hotel and let them rest.  Then get back out there and have fun. 

Well, that is probably enough of an introduction.  The main point is that traveling with children is not just doable, it is enjoyable.

If you are interested in hearing more from me, there are a couple ways for you to keep in touch!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Catching up with hugs and a little sewing

Pin It I came back from Afghanistan in time for Christmas, and it was such an amazing joy to be home.  I took some time to just hang out with my husband and children.  My son and I did some baking ... we love to cook together.  And I got to re-know my three year old.  In the last seven months she has grown up so much.  Seeing my oldest also was so special.

We really did not participate in the holiday chaos.  My husband had most of the shopping done and we did not feel the need to go out and try to participate in many festivities.

In the midst of all that cuddling and catching up, I did do an assessment of Eli's clothes.  He has a ton of long sleeve tees and sweaters.  But, his pants are about two inches too short.  The state of his pants were not a worrisome thing for my husband because Eli is always in snow boots and thus his ankles were well covered.

But, I took it upon myself to fill that gap and sew some pants.

He wanted some some skinnier leg pants because they are easier to wear under his snow pants.  I recently had acquired a burdastyle pattern that advertises it as a girl pant; #141.  But, at this age, really there are not too many body shape differences and a pair of jeans is basically unisex.

He loves them and says they fit well.

There were some rough moments.  The zipper fly instructions were not entirely clear.  So, I have decided to show some pictures just in case they help someone else figure it out faster.  Not every step is shown here ... but the big ones are.  I don't think this qualifies as a tutorial, and I don't want to step on Burda's toes.  But I think some images would be helpful in their instructions.

pictures for instructions of zipper fly

If that helps, let me know!

If you are interested in hearing more from us, there are a couple ways for you to keep in touch!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

New Direction

Pin It
During my deployment to Afghanistan, I have not blogged very much.  I have simply been busy and it has not been very convenient.  But I have been giving Without Directions some thought and I am going to change it up quite a bit.  When this blog started, it was a family endeavor.  My sister actually had to work hard to convince me to join them.  But, as it turned out, my sisters and mother did not especially enjoy blogging, and I very much did.

Soon, it was only me writing about my adventures in sewing and other crafts.  I no longer want to blog simply about my crafting.  And since I am the only one writing, I thought it would be fun to branch off in another direction.  

My family’s lifestyle and my occupation require frequent moving. We have lived in Washington State, Virginia, Alaska, and Germany. Our philosophy is that we should get to know the region so we plan our vacations around local sights. My husband and I love to travel, so the forced moves actually fit the life we want.
traveling with kids
Molshbach, Germany

I was looking at ways to adjust the blog and I thought this would be a perfect topic to add. It is such a big part of my life and it is natural that I would blog about it. Also, we have learned several lessons about traveling with children and recently it became obvious that others would like to learn these lessons.  Just because you have kids, does not mean you cannot go out and see things.  They can greatly benefit from the travels and it is a great way to have fun as a family.

traveling with kids
 Laurel Falls - Great Smokey Mountains National Park

I will begin to blog about some of the great places we have been. As we lived and moved to these places, we have tried to enjoy all we could. I am going to recap past adventures and weave them into current trips while continuing to make sewing related posts.

traveling with kids
Pisa, Italy
I hope this new turn on the blog will be as much fun as my first couple years writing and sharing here.

If you are interested in hearing more from me, there are a couple ways for you to keep in touch!

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