DIY Holly Shoe Jingle Bells Tutorial

I’d love to put a little Christmas spirit in your step, quite literally. I made these adorable DIY Holly Shoe Jingle Bells and I’m giddy about how they turned out.

Love this simple Christmas craft. DIY holly shoe bells tutorial and free pattern

Today I’m joining in on I Heart Naptime‘s annual Crazy Christmas Event. Every year Jamielyn invites loads of talented bloggers to share tons of awesome crafts, recipes, and printables perfect for Christmas. Hop over to see how I made these fun Holly Shoe Bells. P.S. I made the pattern in 3 sizes baby, kiddo and teen/adult.


UPDATED: The following tutorial originally appeared on I Heart Naptime on 11/29/2016

I love the festive little jingle the little holly adds to every step. But more than that I love how quick and easy this little craft comes together.

Such a fun way to dress up our shoes for Christmas. Easy jingle bell holly shoe accessories. Full tutorial and free pattern.

This is easy enough that even elementary school kids who can do basic hand sewing could make their own if you help them cut out the leaves.

Christmas shoe craft. Cute jingle bell holly accessories.

What You Need

How to make Christmas holly shoes that jingle. Easy craft tutorial

What to Do

  1. Cut 2 holly leaves out for each shoe you want to dress up. There are three sizes on the pattern so they can work for baby shoes, kids, and teens/ adults.
  2. Cut a pipe cleaner in half and then fold that in half to find the middle.
  3. Sandwich the middle of the pipe cleaner between the points of two leaves. Take a couple stitched to sew the pipe cleaner to the leaves.
  4. Thread one bell onto your needle and stitch in place. Repeat for the rest of bells.
  5. Take a couple extra stitches to secure the sewing in place before knotting. This will help prevent the stitch from pulling through if the bells get man handled.
  6. Secure the bling to the shoe by threading one side through a shoelace hole and twisting. Alternatively you can simply slide the pipe cleaner under the shoelace and twist to fasten it in place.

Easy to remove Christmas jingle bell bling. Holly shoe tutorial.

I think these turned out so stinking cute. My 2 1/2 year old little boy got SO excited when I put one on his shoe he LOVED dancing and spinning around.

How cute turn regular shoes into jingle bell holly shoes for Christmas. Full tutorial and free pattern.

And as adorable as I think it is I love that when we went to watch his cousin’s gymnastic competition I could quickly and easily remove the holly so we wouldn’t be disruptive.

Toddler holly jingle bells shoe swag tutorial

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My new favorite party recipe. This spinach artichoke dip recipe is SO good and easy. Perfect appetizer or snack.

Super Easy and Yummy Spinach Artichoke Dip Recipe

Easy mini collage ornaments using recycled mason jar lids. Christmas craft tutorial

Fun Collage Mason Jar Lid Christmas Ornaments

Ten MORE Things No One Tells First Time Moms and Dads


My very most popular post is my list of Tips and Tricks People Forget to Tell New Moms. So I’m super excited to bring you even more things I’ve learned the hard way that people should tell first time moms and dads!

These are spot on! Why didn't anyone tell me these things with my first baby? Helpful things to know as a first time mom (or dad).

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you were able to read Sydney‘s article yesterday on making baby’s bed safe for sleep. I’m teaming up with Owlet to share some safety (and otherwise helpful) tips for first time parents as well as a huge giveaway (scroll down for details). #ad #spon

After that first post of things no one tells new moms I had lots of readers share the other things they wish someone had told them and  in my own daily life I kept finding myself thinking I should have put this on the list. So in no particular order here are More helpful tidbits I wish someone had told me as a new mom.

1. EVERYTHING is a Phase

I didn’t get this when I wrote my first list. I was so stressed about sleep. I wasn’t getting any of it and once we figured out night time sleep I was stressed that Teddy wasn’t napping on his own. But since then I’ve realized that IT IS ALL A PHASE. Like really. They grow up so fast and the things we’re tempted to agonize about will be over before long. Why was I so concerned about holding my baby for nap? My days of holding a baby (or kid now) who will let me hold him are numbered. When they are babies and toddlers things change so fast. You can stress about figuring stuff out and get things down but soon after you do, things will be completely different so honestly try not to stress that much.

Great list of helpful and strange things no one thinks to tell new moms and dads.

(not a sticker but this was about the age when I tried the “sticker fun”)

2. Babies Eat Stickers

Did you know this? Umm yeah because they do. When Teddy was smaller I thought he’d have fun with stickers so I stuck a few on him only to find him trying to shove them into his mouth. I relayed this experience to my girlfriends thinking it was so silly and they said “oh yeah they do that”. What!? That’s like a thing? It would have been nice for someone to warn me. I was totally paying attention so Teddy wasn’t in any real danger since I snatched them away before he got them in his mouth. But still that is kind of dangerous. I wish someone had mentioned it to me before.

3. Balloons are Really Dangerous for Babies

Speaking of trying to eat things. Let’s talk about balloons. For the record I knew this one but I’ve been shocked at the number of people I’ve met who don’t know that balloons are very dangerous to babies and toddlers or who tried to give my baby a balloon but not watch him with it or were about to let him try and chew on one. Not counting food, balloons are the most common cause of choking death in babies. The flimsy latex contours to the airway and blocks it off. Don’t let babies have balloon unless you can give them 100% of your attention. And by all means do not let them put balloons (inflated or deflated whether waiting to be blown up or popped) in their mouths. Since most babies put everything in their mouths I vote to keep them completely away from their faces and in your own hands just to be on the safe side.

4. Try and Read All the Books While You’re Pregnant

This relates to #1. Everything is a phase and it moves so fast. You go from one thing to another and you’d think you’d have time to research your parenting options and decide how you feel about different things but you guys it all happens so fast and if you’re like most people you won’t be getting much sleep so your brain isn’t going to be working. I WISH that I had read a few parenting books on the big topics like sleep, and eating, and maybe a catch all first two years what to expect type of book while I was pregnant. Not that I think you can totally plan but I would have liked to know a few of the different approaches to the whole sleep thing and ideas to try BEFORE I was in the throws of extreme sleep deprivation. You think you’ll have time since you’ll be feeding them a lot but if you’re like me you’ll wish you had checked out some books sooner. I’d recommend taking a peek at things you think might come up through the first 2 years.

Owlet baby monitor and other tips and tricks people don't tell new moms

(photo courtesy of See Kate Sew)

5. You Don’t Have to Be Paranoid of Sleep

I’ve already mentioned (and if you’ve been around here from a while you KNOW) we got terrible sleep while Teddy was a baby. Like until he was around 2. I’m a natural worrier and let me tell you nothing makes you worry more than the possibility that your baby is not safe. There are so many sad stories about babies dying in their sleep. Every year 3,500 babies while they are asleep, that’s more than 10 times those that die in car accidents. I think almost all moms remember that first time their baby slept through the night mostly because we weren’t asleep ourselves. We were all stressed that something might be wrong but not sure if we should check on the baby and risk waking him or her.

I wish wish wish that I had an Owlet Baby Monitor when Teddy was an infant. I have a number of friends that have used it lately and I’ve been totally jealous. If you’re not familiar with the device it is the only baby monitor that uses hospital technology—pulse oximetry—designed to alert you if your baby stops breathing. All that amazing technology is placed into a tiny, snuggly baby sock that the little one wears to bed. It’s totally wireless and connects via bluetooth to a base station and Wi-Fi to any smartphone so you can view live vitals. I did not have many opportunities to sleep since my baby was a “bad sleeper”. But even when he did actually sleep I was filled with anxiety that something would happen which made falling asleep (for the short periods that he was down) really hard. I think I would have slept so much better and easier if I had one of these to ease my worries!

6. Swim Diapers Don’t Hold Pee

Is your mind blown because mine was! I must have just been lucky because I put Teddy in swim diapers on the way to the pool MANY times. But it wasn’t until he totally soaked his outfit at the children’s museum, when he was almost 2, that I realized that swim diapers don’t hold in liquid. That is how they keep from getting heavy in the water. They are just meant to keep poop out of the pool. I guess it makes sense in retrospect but really why didn’t someone tell me this!!!? So there I told you.

Random but helpful info about diapers people forget to tell new moms

(pool time with the cousins, he was SO small)

7. It’s Easy to Mix Up Swim Diapers and Pull Ups

So this is a sillier one but really, why do swim diapers and pull ups have to look SO similar? Color and all. Let me tell you how you can tell the difference when you’re in the water: the diaper will swell to about 10 times the size of normal, get heavy, and the absorbent beads can burst out of the diaper. I’ve been guilty of the mix up and been around to witness more than one other mom who managed to mix up the two diapers. If you pay attention when getting ready to swim you’ll be fine but it’s so easy just to go fast and mix them up.

8. You Might Want to Hold Off On Some Gifts

Especially if you receive a lot of newborn sized clothing you will probably be tempted to wash those puppies up and get them all cozy in a drawer but some babies are born too big for new born sizes. Maybe wash a few and wait to see just in case you want to return some of the itty bitty clothes. The same goes for toys and other gear. You might think you want it before baby is here but once you try it out it might not be your thing. Keep the packaging and gift receipts just in case.

I totally agree these are really helpful for new parents but for some reason no one things to tell first time moms and dads. Great list.

9. The One Month Mark Is Hard

Maybe it’s not exactly one month for everyone but there will be a time near the beginning where you think oh my gosh we’ve had this baby for a while now and it’s still SO HARD what is going on. It makes those very first newborn days seem like cake because in comparison they were. You’ll have less help, if you had visitors or people coming in, or if you or your partner partner that had baby leave and have to start working again. You’ll just feel like you ought to be able to “do more” or that things should be easier but they aren’t yet. But you know what you’re probably all sleep deprived and it’s had all that time to compound. But I promise it will get better. I just want to warn you that there is this point for most of us where it feels like it should have gotten better by now and it hasn’t. Don’t be discouraged that is totally normal and it’s still coming it WILL get better.

10. Decide What You Want Your Hospital Visits to Look Like

Things happen fast (even if they happen really slowly) and you are so tired after giving birth and the hormones and emotions are raging. I really regret not telling (or having my husband tell) people to get out of the room. I had been up ALL NIGHT birthing a child with a super long pushing periodd and people were around and I could not rest. I just wanted piece and to be able to try to sleep. But I felt rude and selfish not to mention totally awkward getting up in my open flap gown all bloody and groggy crossing the room in front of people to go to the bathroom. But you know what everyone else could see the baby later. They could peek in for a quick hello but they did not need to be there in those first hours. I wish I had thought through that stuff before I was there and set some ground rules. In addition to the sleep I needed time to try and figure out nursing WITHOUT AN AUDIENCE. Related to the hospital visitors I really regret not taking my photographer friend up on her offer to come do some birth photos. She didn’t push because you know I had just given birth but I wish that I had decided before I went in that that was just one of the things we were going to do because in the moment I felt disgusting, exhausted, and the idea of being photographed sounded horrible but now I feel like I really missed out.

funny unsolicited advice meme for moms and 10 things people forget to tell first time moms

11. You Get to Determine the Type of Parent You Want to Be

If you’re not already getting bombarded with unsolicited advice from family, friends, acquaintances, and random strangers be prepared. For some reason a pregnant woman or really anyone with an infant is like a magnet for the “experts” to “share” their “advice”. Some might actually be helpful, some might be well meaning, but others will be rude, obnoxious, and flat out wrong. Just remember you are the one who gets to decide how you want to parent. Even if it’s not the same way all your friends and family have chosen it doesn’t matter. Go the way your gut and your own research leads. You can even question the doctors and honestly I encourage you to do that if anything feels wrong check things out do research and ask them to explain their reasoning. There are SO many ways to parent that helps you keep your children safe and grow into awesome adults don’t feel bullied into one way from other people. And remember you can change your mind and try different things out as you learn and experience more. See what works for you, your family, and this particular baby. Even within the same family different things might work for different kids. And above all make sure you let yourself enjoy your little ones.

Now how about an awesome giveaway!


We will have 4 winners total with about $850 for the prizes! So there more chances to win. Enter with the rafflecopter widget below.
  • (1) Owlet Baby Monitor ($249.99)
  • (1) Kinsa Smart Ear Thermometer ($49.99)
  • (1) Evenflo SensorSafe Car seat ($149.00)
  • (1) Burley Solstice Jogger  ($399.99)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to stop by Alyssa’s tomorrow for tips for keeping baby safe outdoors! And if you have any other tips for first time moms please share in the comments.

DIY Pirate Dolls Tutorial with Free Pattern

affiliate DISCLOSURE

I made the cutest giant dolls this weekend for Teddy and I couldn’t resist but make pirate costumes for them. Today I’m sharing my free pattern!

23 inch DIY giant dolls for boys and girls with free pirate costumes sewing patterns

Have you guys seen the Doll Fabric that See Kate Sew has out with Riley Blake Designs? It’s freakishly adorable. It’s a panel fabric which means that all the pieces are printed onto the fabric with cutting lines and instructions. I’m super in love with the fabric. Watch the replay of my Facebook LIVE of me sewing up the boy doll below.

Go here to buy the DOLL FABRIC PANEL

Today I’m hanging out over at the Riley Blake Designs blog sharing the tutorial for how to make both the girl and boy pirate costumes as well as a little coordinating eye patch for your own little pirate (pirate costume available here).

Pirate Costume Pattern

The pattern is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD to my newsletter subscribers. You can download the pattern here along with many other free patterns and templates.

  • The password is in every newsletter so if you’re already a subscriber check your last newsletter near the bottom the go to this page to access the patterns.
  • Or if you’re not already a subscriber sign up right here and when you confirm your email it should give you a welcome page with the password for my downloads page.

Adorable pirate costumes for dolls and eye patch tutorial. Free costume sewing pattern

UPDATED with full tutorial below

Darling DIY pirate dolls for boys and girls


How to make pirate costumes. Sewing tutorial and doll pattern

What to Do

  • Cut the pattern pieces out. I used woven for the stripes but in retrospect I could have easily used the knit version and wouldn’t have to worry about fraying. But I think the fraying adds to the pirate feel.
  • Note I’m not doing any finishing work since they are doll costume but if you want to finish your seams, edge stitches the pointy edges, press and all that feel free too!
  • I used 1/4 inch seam allowances

How to make a boy pirate doll with free pirate costume sewing pattern

Boy Pirate Doll Costume

  1. With right sides together sew the straight sides of the short pieces together (this will make the center seams).
  2. Open up and sew along the curve of the inseam.
  3. Iron the top edge under 1/2 inch and sew down to form a casing making sure to leave an opening for the elastic.
  4. Insert elastic. Sew ends of elastic together and close up the hole in the casing. The shorts are now done
  5. Make the vest by sewing the front vest pieces to the back vest piece at the top edge.
  6. Then sew the side seams from the markings making sure to leave holes for the arms.
  7. Top stitch the ric rac onto the right side of the vest along the front edge and neck. Now your vest should be done.
  8. Cut a length of red ribbon for the sash.
  9. Take the eye patch band and form a circle overlapping the edges by 1/2 inch.
  10. Pin the eye patch over the overlapping edges  and sew in place forming a small box (so that you catch the all edges of the band that touch the eye patch. Now your eye patch is done.

DIY girl pirate. Free sewing pattern for pirate costume

Girl Pirate Doll Costume

  1. With right sides together sew the side seams of the dress.
  2. Fold the arm holes under 1/4 inch and sew down.
  3. Fold the top edges under 1/2 inch and sew down.
  4. Thread the black ribbon through the neck casings you have just made. I like to use a loop turner for this. You will tie a bow to close the dress on the doll. Now your dress is done.
  5. Tie a double knot of ric rac to make your dolls necklace (alternatively you can sew it into a circle).
  6. Make an eye patch using steps 9-10 of the Boy Costume instructions above.

Child Sized Eye Patch

  1. Use the same size eye patch as for the dolls.
  2. Measure your child’s head and subtract 2 inches for the band piece. Use the same width as for the dolls.
  3. Assemble the eye patch just like the doll eye patches (steps 9-10).

SO cute giant dolls for boys and girls and free sewing pattern for pirate costumes.

Teddy, my 2 year old, and I are totally smitten with these dolls. Like I’m already planning on getting more of this fabric and making other fun outfits for them smitten! They are just too cute.

DIY giant pirate dolls. Great sewing project would make a fun gift.

This tutorial originally appeared on the Riley Blake Designs blog.


Easy DIY Bunny Costume and Easter Outfits

Some of my favorite creations have been made at the very last minute. This cute bunny costume is definitely one of them.

Love this easy bunny costume tutorial. Great fast sewing project for Easter or Halloween.

Last Easter I was running behind with everything and all of a sudden the church Easter egg hunt was the next morning. Luckily my fabric hoarding self had everything I needed on hand to make a cute little bunny outfit for my little bunny err bear.

Sweetest bunny costume and only takes 1 hour to sew. Fun for Easter, Halloween or just a cute hat during colder months.

I am especially in love with the little bunny outfit because it reminds me of one of our favorite books I Am A Bunny by Ole Rison and Illustrated by Richard Scary. We discovered it around Easter last year but it has stayed a favorite! It is the sweetest tall board book. I love the story and so does Teddy.i am a bunny fabulous book for little ones for Easter (or really all year around). Plus easy DIY bunny costume

Last year Teddy was just under 1 year old when I made it and I did the smallest size of the All in One Hooded Scarf PDF pattern (so I had immediate access gotta love digital patters!). This is the same pattern I used for Teddy’s crocodile hood for our Naked and Afraid costumes last Halloween. He is still comfortably wearing the hood now at 2 years old. The sizing is pretty generous which works great for a hood but just in case you want a more fitted look you might want to compare a the pattern piece to a hood your kiddo is wearing now before picking your size.

1 hour DIY bunny costume. Easy sewing project for Easter, Halloween, or just a cute anytime hat.

Make A Simple Bunny Costume

Just cut up the pattern and sew according to the pattern. It’s very easy. And to make more of a caplet like I made just add one button and buttonhole at the top corners instead of the two down the front that is shown in the pattern directions. For the bunny tail I made a little circle pattern by tracing a circle from a glass (you could totally free hand it). Then I cut a circle of fleece and safety pinned them onto Teddy’s pants. If you want more of a poof style you could make a large pom pom out of matching yard.

I need this baby bunny hat. 1 hour sewing project good for Easter, Halloween, or any time sewing.

We get comments on this sweet little hood every time Teddy wears it. And I just think Teddy looks SO stinking cute in it so I put it on him all the time. He wears the hood down sometimes while we’re in a store and when we’re about to walk back outside I tell him to “bunny up” to keep his head and ears warm.

1 hour DIY baby bunny hat and tail. Such a cute costume for Easter, Halloween or any time with the hat.

And while I’m sharing last year’s Easter creations I thought I’d share the official Easter outfits. That I made everyone. If you’re still hoping to whip up some festive outfits these are great ones that can be made really fast at the last minute. Ask me how I know ;)

Cute handmade Easter outfits for all the kids. Sewing patterns used listed.

What I used for everyone’s outfits:

Made this bunny outfit the morning of our Easter egg hunt. Little one wears the bunny hat all the time. Easy 1 hour sewing project.

Let’s connect! You can also find me hanging out here.

11 Tips and Truths No One Tells New Moms

Yes! Totally agree. I wish I knew all of these when I was pregnant. Great tips for first time moms.

So you grilled all your mommy friends and read those what to expect books and those definitely hit on the key points of what it’s like to have a baby but what about the other stuff? Over the last year and a half there have been a bunch of times that I’ve though “Why didn’t anyone tell me that!?”

UPDATE: After receiving such a great response (and more tips and tricks) I’ve written a follow up to this post read Part 2: MORE things people forget to tell new moms and dads next!

So I thought I’d share for those of you expecting your first kid. If you knew a new mommy-to-be send her this post.

tricks for battling gas and infant tummy problems

1. Gas and Tummy Issues Are Real and There Are Things You Can Do

When Teddy was new he would get these gas pains and crunch his little tummy. I knew he was uncomfortable and I even knew the problem but while bicycling his legs and placing a warm pack on him did help a little it wasn’t until someone mentioned Little Remedies® Gas Drops and Gripe Water to me that we saw a change. We’re really strict about what we give Teddy (and even more so when he was an infant but we got the green light from his doctor and saw the gas drops and gripe water give our little guy relief after just a few minutes). This statement has not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. But as our doctor put it if we saw a positive difference that’s what mattered to us.

So of course I thought they were magic so I started talking about them and tons of friends said stuff like “oh yeah we used those” and “gas drops were practically a part of our nightly ritual in our house”. And I thought WHAT THE HECK people you could have told me this weeks ago when I came to you wondering how to help my baby. So there, do the the leg exercises, rub their tummies, give them a warm heat pack, be mindful of what you/they are eating but for goodness sakes try those gas drops. We had many months where gripe water was a part of Teddy’s bedtime routine and I carried the gas drops in my purse for on the go.

2. Drink LOTS of Water

Okay, okay, so I know they do tell new moms this but if you’re like me you’ve heard “drink your water” all through your life. But really moms need water SOOOOO much more than the average person. Especially nursing moms, a well hydrated mom will have a way easier time nursing, I mean those little beasts are literally sucking us dry. Not just the nursing though, the water does wonders for energy level. If yours doesn’t sleep like mind (he still doesn’t) making sure to have enough water can really help with that zombie mommy feeling.

Baby tip and public changing tables

3. Check the Handicap Stall for Changing Tables

Okay I know this one is really specific but no one told me! It was only after many sink-side and gasp floor (at least I had a changing pad) diaper changes that I realized that lots of public restrooms have changing tables in the handicap accessible stalls at the end since they are so much bigger.

11 things no one thinks to tell first time moms

4. Lots of Babies Have Fussier Times

We called 6-8pm Auntie time. Teddy was just way way crankier than any other time and the only thing that could kind of help was my sister coming over and taking a turn with him. Little Remedies® has an Advance Colic Relief that I wish I had it when Teddy was an infant because I totally would have given it a try. I don’t think Teddy technically had colic but he definitely had a crying spell most days around the same time and it would have been nice to have something to try besides waiting it out and waiting for my sister to get off of work and come over.

5. You’ll Need Food that You can Prep One Handed and Fast

There was a time period that I lived off of my Lactation Chocolate Chip Cookies and Curry Puffs because they were so easy to make a big batch and then I could just grab them and eat with one hand. Before Teddy was around I never realized how long I took to decide what to eat. But making sure to eat was really really hard for me at first. I didn’t have the time or energy or arms to prep stuff. I recommend before you babe arrives (or if baby is already here while someone else is on baby duty) to make a list of foods you like that are easy to prep and easy to eat. Note, hot soup is not easy to eat with a baby.

6. If You Are Nursing Don’t Sleep on Your Tummy

Sleeping on my tummy and taking a scalding hot bath were two of the things I looked forward to most about no longer being pregnant. Oh and that whole holding the baby, snuggling the baby thing. But really tummy sleeping and baths were right up there for me. But I had no idea that sleeping on your tummy can actually cause plugged ducts. That and too tight clothing. Crazy right? I shared all about my miserable plugged duct experience and tips and trips to avoid and live through it but I wish someone had told me before hand to ditch the tighter sleep shirt and to be careful about sleeping on my tummy. Hopefully you won’t be prone to plugged ducts and can tummy sleep, but if you find yourself dealing with them you might want to check you sleeping position.

7. Your Body Will Feel Foreign After You Give Birth

If you thought your body felt weird while growing a little human just wait until you kick him out. I remember just touching my belly skin and having it feel so foreign. Thankfully my tummy feels like mine now. And not go TMI-ish but toilet I swear going number two is totally different for me now. It’s freaking weird but what can you do your body did some major crazy magic housing and growing a little person for nine months.

Tricks for how to shop with infants and toddlers

8. Use Your Stroller

Whether you’re juggling a sleeping baby in an infant car seat or wild toddler I find shopping with my stroller to be SO much more successful than trying to use a shopping cart. For one the infant seat fits the stroller and the ride is more smooth. For toddlers those little “restraint” belts on shopping carts are like a silly joke. They can Houdini out of them in a snap. I’ve found that Teddy will last WAY WAY WAY longer in the stroller than in the shopping cart. The other day I saw a mom pushing her kid in the stroller and pulling a shopping cart at the same time (she said for the same reasons her kid just does so much better in the stroller). Thankfully I picked a stroller with a very large storage area.

9.  Nursing is Totally Learned and Often Hurts at First

Nursing can down right HURT at first. Yes hurt. But if you’re doing it right it will get better BUT it might take some time. Like not just the few days in the hospital and you might want to visit a lactation specialist a few times. Yes it is natural and for some people and some babies it can just click right away but for LOTS of us it was quite a while (like weeks) before it started to feel normal. If you have your heart set on nursing and it seems really rough at first you might just not have the hang of it, things might still need to kick in, or you might benefit from getting some outside help.

10. Lots of People Have to Supplement Formula in the Hospital and Still Nurse Exclusively After

I was a wreck when they wanted to supplement formula in the hospital. I had imagined exclusively nursing my baby. It was really really important to me and I was extremely upset when they pretty much forced me to give Teddy formula. Granted after talking to my pediatrician after I left the hospital I still don’t think it was NECESSARY and I wish the nurses had encouraged me to drink a ton of water (which they didn’t) as well as try some other things, but I realize now that it wasn’t that big of a deal and many people who are even hardcore nursing advocates have a little kick start with a tiny bit of formula. For me this was less than a week of very minimal supplementing. This might seem like a weird one but I was really upset and confused when the hospital staff threatened to release me WITHOUT my baby. Yes I think I had some crappy nurses and visiting doctors but I wish I had known that lots of people supplement before their milk comes in and then they are able to nurse exclusively afterwards.

great tips and truths that no one tells moms to be. passing to my pregnant friends and first time moms.

11. It’s Really Hard and You’ll Feel Like a Failure But That’s Okay

Having kids is hard work. You have to be delusional not to know that but no one tells you that it’s just not hard but super duper crazy hard some times. Like so hard you think there has to be something wrong with yourself because even those totally incompetent acquaintances of yours have been able to raise children and keep them alive. I believe it’s a conspiracy since if we all had known it going in we wouldn’t do it, or maybe people did say as much but we just thought they were being dramatic. But when sleep deprivation compounds with gas, and crying fits, and your own hunger it can be a struggle. But that’s normal and just when you think you cannot possibly do it any longer your baby will do something magical like give you the sweetest gassy smile and you’ll agree with those who have gone before you that it’s totally worth it.

Going to share this with all my pregnant friends. I wish people told me these before I had my first baby.

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These are spot on! Why didn't anyone tell me these things with my first baby? Helpful things to know as a first time mom (or dad).

I had such a great response to this post and I learned more things that I have added a sort of Part 2 post here with MORE things people forget to tell new moms and dads!

Best list of ideas and tricks to try when dealing with plugged ducts from breast feeding

My best tricks, tips, and things I learned (and wish I had know sooner) about surving breast feeding especially dealing with plugged ducts.
Hands down the best oven fried chicken recipe. I make this for family dinner all the time and it turns out great.This recipe for Oven Fried Chicken is so good! It’s on our regular weeknight rotation. Tastes like it’s deep fried but just uses a tiny bit of butter in the over so way healthier and way less mess!

5 Important lessons from years of running a successful Etsy Shop - Rae Gun Ramblings

Curious about what it takes to build and run your own creative business? I’ve been Etsy-ing full time for the last 6 years and I share exactly what it took, tips, tricks, things to avoid.

Love all of these that I've tried. Can't wait to try all these quick easy recipes.

Most Popular EASY recipes of 2015. These have been pinned and shared like crazy and they are some of my personal go to’s!

I originally wrote this post as a part of #MyLittleRemedies #CollectiveBias campaign but I do LOVEEEE those products and have before and since without ANY compensation recommended them. 

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30 Minute Lightweight Baby Changing Station Tutorial

waterwipes disclosure30 DIY Minute Baby Changing Station tutorial. Great easy sewing project for baby.

I have been meaning to make this changing station for ages. We use the easy peasy changing pad every single day but I wanted another with a pocket that I could take with us on the go so I would have to keep track of the first one. I couldn’t be happier with how this turned out!

30 minute light weight washable DIY baby changing station

When I was looking for changing pads in stores they were 1. ridiculously expensive 2. super heavy and 3. crazy bulky. This is thin but still does the job and as an upgrade from my last version has a pocket big enough to hold wipes and a few diapers. I made this one big enough to fit my WaterWipes pack which are my new favorite wipes, but it should also fit other style of wipe cases too. If you don’t already know about WaterWipes these are awesome and new to the US (they’ve had them in Europe for a while) and available at Babies “R” Us back by the diapers. Unlike even the “natural” or “sensitive” baby wipes these don’t have all kinds of crazy chemicals. These just have two ingredients: 99.9% Irish water that has been specially purified and softened and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. I don’t even think twice about wiping his face with these where as I was always weirded out by the other kind to do anything but wipe a bum haha.

easy 30 minute lightweight washable changing pad with pocket for wipes and diapers. fast tutorial

What You Need

  • Back Fabric (I used a laminate since it’s easy to wipe down after using public bathrooms) 18×27 inches
  • Front Fabric (I used rip stop since it’s water resistant but PUL is a great choice too) 18×27 inches
  • Pocket Flap (same as back fabric) 9×7 inches
  • Pocket Fabric (same as back fabric) 9×10 inches
  • 1 snap
  • wipes/diapers (optional if you want to adjust your pocket size)

easy DIY baby changing station, lightweight and washable 30 minute tutorial

What To Do

  1. Start by making your pocket flap. Fold the pocket flap piece right sides together so you have a rectangle that is 3.5×9 inches.
  2. Sew up the side and clip the corners. Turn right side out.
  3. Fold one of the 10 inch sides under a 1/2 inch and sew down.
  4. Then lay the pocket with the unsewn side lined up with the center of the top edge of the back piece. Fold under the 10 inch unsewn side and the 9 inch side that is on NOT on the edge of the back piece. Sew along both edges of the pocket.
  5. Position the pocket flap in the center of the pocket lining up the raw edges with the edge of the back piece.
  6. Lay the rip stop on top of the back piece (on the right side, the pocket side). Sew around all the edges leaving a 3 inch hole.
  7. Turn right side out and with the pocket flap open top stitch around all edges 1/4 inch closing up the hole.
  8. Add your snap to both the pocket and the flap.
  9. Fill with WaterWipes, a few diapers, and get ready to change some stinky baby bums ;)

How to make an easy changing pad with pocket

I hope you like my easy changing station and if you’re interested in trying chemical free wipes I highly recommend the WaterWipes. They are really durable and definitely do the job. The #WaterWipes are on sale at Babies “R” Us 2 for 6$ (normally 3.99$) now through July. And from now until August 19th you can enter to with 100$ Babies “R” Us gift card using the widget below.

Aside from wiping bums I keep the WaterWipes by Teddy’s high chair to wipe his face. I’ve never done that with other kind of wipes because you can taste the chemicals yuck. But with these ones they are just like a nice wet towel but way more convenient. I’m super glad I found them.
WaterWipes Babies “R” Us

DIY lightweight washable baby changing pad with pocket for wipes and diapers

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How to Survive Nursing and What to Do About Plugged Ducts

healthy mama disclosure

Best list of ideas and tricks to try when dealing with plugged ducts from breast feeding

So many people think that just because nursing a baby is natural that it should come naturally or that it should be easy. Thankfully for many moms this is absolutely true but for the rest of us nursing is hard work. Even after taking a breast feeding class and hearing all the advice and tips from mom friends I had a rough go at it. Once Teddy figured out how to actually do it, which in itself took a while, I had plugged ducts almost every other week for the first 6-9 months.

I learned a lot about different things to try and do that helped me and I’ve been wanting to share my two cents on how to survive nursing and especially what to do about plugged ducts. If you know any new mamas you or anyone expecting a new baby soon pass this a long. People don’t always like to talk about this stuff but it’s great info to have on hand in the unfortunate case that you or your friends find themselves in these situations. Please note that I am NOT a professional. Please consult your health care provider when considering any medical issues or taking any medicines or supplements. These are just the things that worked for me and I hope that sharing my experiences will help others who find themselves in the same predicament.

Nursing tips and great ideas and tricks for dealing with and conquering plugged ducts while breast feeding

Drink Plenty of Water

First things first. Make sure you’re drinking a ton of water. Feeding a baby takes a lot of liquid and even in your likely sleep deprived state you need to make sure to stay hydrated. A friend gave me the tip to drink water the whole time the baby nursed and that helped me to remember.

Lanolin (or Olive Oil)

When you first start nursing your poor nipples might get cracked and dried and basically freak out at their new treatment. I was so grateful to have brought a tube of lanolin to the hospital with me. Once home I kept some in my purse and on my nightstand. Use it generously at first and eventually you won’t need it. But there is no reason to endure unnecessary pain.

If You Have Supply Issues Try Fenugreek or make Lactation Cookies

I know not everyone has supply issues but I did. I think my boobs made JUST ENOUGH but really not anything more. I never had great success pumping but when I felt like I needed to boost my supply I found the herbal supplement fenugreek or a batch of these delicious lactation cookies really helped. The cookies by the way are totally fine for the whole family to eat. I actually had to hide them from my hubby because they were so yummy.

Pay Attention to Your Body and Catch Plugged Ducts Early

If you don’t know what a plugged duct feels like it starts with feeling a small hard area in the breast. If it doesn’t get unplugged it can get bigger and more of the breast can feel hard. I recommend the second you start feeling like there is a plug to drop every thing and tend to it like it’s your full time job. After I had experienced a few plugged ducts I started to noticed that Teddy would be weird about nursing and then I’d pay attention to how my breast that he was nursing on felt like and I would realize that indeed it felt like there might be a plug. The sooner you catch it the better.

Great pregnant and nursing friendly pain killers and tips on dealing with plugged ducts

Take Something For the Pain

Plugged ducts can be so painful. For the longest time I tried not to take anything but really it’s a lot harder to take care of a baby and try to unplug the duct if you’re distracted by pain. To be on the safe side you can take a vetted pain reliever like healthy mama® Shake That Ache which is an acetaminophen pain killer that is specifically formulated for pregnant and nursing moms. It’s nice to have an option that you know is safe and that has been researched and tested for when you’re pregnant and nursing. I found the healthy mama® stuff at Walmart right next to the prenatal vitamins. I love how there is this new category of products specifically designed for nursing and pregnant moms so we don’t have to go on a scavenger hunt to find what we can actually take and use!

Be Mindful About Sleeping Position and Pressure

I could not sleep on my tummy (or really even my side) with out getting a plugged duct. It really sucked because I am a tummy sleeper. But I quickly learned that just that amount of weight was enough to cause a plugged duct. I also once got one after letting Teddy sleep on my chest one night where he was being particularly needy.

Dangle Feed

This will sound crazy but I’m telling you that if you are like me you’ll try anything and this actually worked for me. The basic idea is to let gravity help so you want your nipples pointed down. What worked easiest for me was to get on my hands and knees put the baby under me with a pile of pillows for me to rest my head on (so I didn’t have to balance like that with all the weight in my arms) and let the baby nurse like that. So many times this is what ended up really unplugging the duct. Usually after trying some of the other stuff first to loosen it up. Sometimes I was just too tired to fully dangle feed but if I put the baby next to me instead of on my lap leaned over more it had a similar effect.

crazy tips that actually work for dealing with plugged ducts from nursing and breast feeding

Hot Packs

Make yourself some 5 minute hot packs and apply heat to your affected area. Remember your ducts run under your armpit too not just in the normal breast area you think of. I tried to do this before I nursed so that when Teddy sucked it would flow better and hopefully pull the plug out.

Use an Electric Toothbrush to Break Up the Plug

This is my favorite trick. It’s so ridiculously crazy though. Take an electric tooth brush and hold the back or the base to the plugged area. Move it around and let the vibrations break up the plug. You won’t feel it when it breaking the plug up but the vibrations can break the plug into smaller pieces. So when you do this and combo it with breast feeding or pressing your breast in the shower it works great. DON’T USE THE BRISTLE SIDE. You might be desperate to feel like something is happening. All you’ll get is a rug burn on your boob. Ask me how I know. But really when done propery this works. My favorite way to do this is start with the hot pack. After using that for 15 minutes then do the tooth brush then get into the tub and try and press the sucker out and then if it still isn’t out dangle feed. Usually that order would do the trick for me.

Hot Showers

There is something about the hot moisture that helps. What you do is get in the shower run the hot water on the affected area. Some times I’d do a bath first to soak it and then pressing towards the nipple try to press the plug out. You want to press hard. It might be painful but it can really help. Sometimes it hurt so much I thought I was going to bruise myself. Do it over and over from different angles but always moving towards the nipple since you want to press the plug out. You might notice hardened white stuff start to come out before it unplugs. You can try and pull it out or keep pressing but hopefully you’ll feel the wonderful release when the plug comes out and your milk can flow properly again.

Pregnancy and nursing approved energy drink. And other great tips for nursing with plugged ducts

Keep Your Energy Up

Make sure to get as much sleep as you can. But when you have a nursing little one that isn’t always easy. Plus if you have a plugged duct that longer you wait the worse it gets and the higher chances that it will turn into mastitis. So if you find yourself in zombie mode you might want to try healthy mama® Boost It Up which is an electrolyte filled supplement drink great for pregnant women and nursing moms. It’s tested for safety and can give you the energy you need to fight the plugged duct.

Try Lecithin

Finally I found that taking lecithin every day really helped to stop my plugged ducts. What lecithin does is thin out the milk. Nothing noticeable but it makes it less viscous inside I guess. Once I added it to my daily routine my instances of plugs went way down. And then when I did have them they were minor and were easy to unplug quickly with the tricks I’ve shared above.

Good luck. I really feel those of you who find yourself here in the middle of the night looking for some relief. I hope some of these tips work for you. And just know it will pass. Now when I first sense a plug coming on I start with the hot packs. I leave them on until they don’t seem warm any more (15 to 20 minutes). Then I use the toothbrush vibrations to break up the duct (about 5-10 minutes). I next jump into the bath and try and press the duct free with hot water. If this doesn’t work I dangle feed. For me I had to time things perfect since it really worked the best for me to do this order hot pack – tooth brush – shower – dangle feed. But sometimes I’d do hot pack – tooth brush – hot pack dangle feed. You’ll have to find out what works for your body but in my experiences your baby is your biggest tool. Nurse as often as you can.

Breast feeding survival guid and how to treat plugged ducts caused by nursing

Did you deal with nursing troubles or plugged ducts? Do you have any other tips people can try?

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and healthy mama® , but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #gethealthymama

Let’s connect! You can also find me hanging out here.


15 Minute Binkie Clip Tutorial

Finally a way to have non-ugly pacifier clips that baby can't pull off. Easy sewing tutorial.

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter you know that I’m at SNAP Conference surrounded by 500 other talented crafty bloggers learning, creating, and celebrating the friendships we’ve made because of blogging! And for some extra fun I’ve teamed up with Abbey from The Cards We Drew and a bunch of bloggers to create Crafts in a SNAP {15 Minute Craft Ideas}.

I’m sharing my 15 minute binkie clip tutorial that not only is WAY cuter than anything I could find in stores but is virtually impossible for my super strong super stubborn boy to rip off! But before we get to that here are some of the other 15 minute crafts. Scroll to the very bottom to see the full list and get links to each of the tutorials!

Crafts in a SNAP 15 Minute Craft Ideas

I’ve been hoarding this super cute ribbon for ages and after see how expensive pacifier clips were (not to mention how ugly) I decided to make my own. And let me tell you this was way easier and faster than going to the store to fetch one.

Step by step tutorial for how to make a binkie or pacifier clip.

What You Need

  • 16-20 inches of ribbon (if your ribbon is cute on both sides you only need half that)
  • Suspender Clip (I used this kind but if I did it again I’d use this kind)
  • 1 Snap (you can use sew on kind on clamp kind like I did)

What to Do

Note that my ribbon has a pretty front and a messy back so I needed to fold my ribbon in half. If your ribbon is nice on both sides you won’t need it folded over just fold the ends and sew instead if you want to use less ribbon.

  1. Thread your ribbon through your suspender clip so that it is folded almost in half wrong sides together with 2 inches hanging over on one end.
  2. Tuck that end under and fold over the other raw edge enclosing and pin.
  3. Sew that end down.
  4. Sew a stitch along the edge of the suspender clip.
  5. Pin the two layers of ribbon together and sew down both sides.
  6. Now add the snaps to the other end and you’re good to go!

15 Minute Binkie clip sewing tutorial

Kinda silly easy right? And if you’re wondering where I got such cute ribbon this was from Kitschycoo who also sells the cutest knits too.

A DIY pacifier clip that baby can't pull off. Step by step instructions for 15 minute tutorial

And added bonus is that the suspender clips are crazy strong but at the same time won’t poke holes in clothes or tear. Teddy has tried as hard as he could to rip off this clip to no avail. The ugly store bought one I have he could rip off like it was nothing!

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The best binkie clip cheaper and stronger than any store kind. 15 minute sewing tutorial.

Let’s connect! You can also find me hanging out here.


Baby Changing Pad Tutorial

Free changing pad pattern. Easy sewing project - Rae Gun Ramblings

I searched everywhere for a basic changing pad. I didn’t want a changing station. I didn’t want a cute tote that folded up with pockets. I just wanted something I could shove into my bag and change my baby on. Funny enough I didn’t find anything that fit the bill. So I decided to quit being so lazy and just make one.

How to make your own washable changing pad - Rae Gun Ramblings

And I’m a bit in love and so is my husband because it’s crazy useful. I love that it’s slightly padded. I love that it is washable. I love that it’s JUST a changing pad so it’s not bulky. And I love that it is easy to to throw in any bag or use anywhere. Not only is it exactly what we needed but it was insanely easy to make.

Baby Changing Pad Tutorial

DIY changing pad without all the bulk that's also washable - Rae Gun Ramblings

What You Need

  • Back Fabric (I used a laminate but it would work with any fabric since the other fabric should prevent minor leaks) 28 X 20 inches
  • Thin terry cloth 28 X 20 inches
  • 2 layers Rip Stop 28 X 20 inches

The fabric measurements aren’t strict so if your fabric works better for a different size or if you’d love a different size you can easily adjust it. You just want all 4 layers to be the same size.

How to make a quick washable baby changing pad free pattern at Rae Gun Ramblings

What to Do

  1. Layer fabric with both pieces of Rip stop on the bottom, then your back fabric face DOWN, then your terry cloth fabric.
  2. Curve the corners by using a round edge object and tracing with a fabric marker and trimming.
  3. Starting in the middle of one straight edge sew around all edges leaving a 4 inch opening.
  4. Flip the changing pad right side out so that the rip stop is showing and the back fabric is showing on the other side with the terry cloth sandwiched in between.
  5. With a medium iron on the rip stop side press the edges (make sure to test so you don’t scorch your fabric).
  6. Top stitch around 1/4 of an inch closing up the hole.

DIY washable baby changing pad. Free pattern at Rae Gun Ramblings

Let’s connect! You can also find me hanging out here.



Dairy Free Lactation Cookies Recipe AKA My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

You won't believe this delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe also helps nursing moms boost their milk supply - Rae Gun Ramblings

I’ve been living off of these cookies. No really, it’s true. I don’t think my boobs work quite properly so I have to give them a little help. Besides that my little guy still wants to be held most of the time and doesn’t sleep too great so making food has been tough. Luckily I’ve been making batches of these Dairy Free Lactation Cookies and then freezing them. I bake up a pan at a time and just have them around.

My new go to chocolate chip cookie recipe. That it helps my milk supply is just a bonus. I'll definitely be making these long after my nursing days - Rae Gun Ramblings

Now don’t let their medicinal and dietary friendly-ness scare you off. These cookies are SUPER YUMMY. Like even if I wasn’t frantically trying to feed a baby with defective boobs I’d still be making them. They could very well be my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

And it’s not because I forget what stuff with dairy tastes like. I made these with butter and milk-iful chocolate before I realized that dairy was bugging Teddy and I adored the recipe. But I actually think they cook up better, have a better texture and look, and the dark dairy free chocolate makes them taste better. So there you go.

Dairy Free Lactation Cookies Recipe

Fantastic oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipes. Dairy free and also great for nursing moms - Rae Gun Ramblings

  • 1 C Earth Balance (you can substitute butter if you don’t care about them being dairy free but I prefer the texture with the earth balance)
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 4 TBS water
  • 2 TBS flax seed meal
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 C Slow Cook Oats
  • 1 1/2 C Dairy Free Chocolate Chips (many dark chocolate varieties are dairy free or Whole Foods has cute mini dairy free chips)
  • 2 TSP brewer’s yeast
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

lactation cookies use earth balance instead of butter - Rae GUn Ramblings

(in case some of you don’t know what to look for)

  1. Add water and flax meal to the mixing bowl and stir while you get the other ingredients out.
  2. Add earth balance, sugar, brown sugar, and eggs. Mix until earth balance is creamed.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. mix until incorporated.
  4. Stir in oats and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  5. Bake at 350 F about 10-12 minutes. When they are done parts will look a little toasted and parts will still look wet. Remove and allow to cool on the cookie sheet they will continue to cook there so don’t overcook them or else they’ll be really hard.

Makes about 4 dozen small cookies.

Dairy-free lactation cookies that the whole family will love. These are now our go to chocolate chip cookies - Rae Gun Ramblings

If you want to freeze them. Just scoop the dough onto a greased cookie sheet and freeze before baking. You can then cook them from frozen. When I cook from frozen they take 12 minutes.

My new favorite Chocolate chip cookie recipe. Great to boost milk production and also dairy free - Rae Gun Ramblings

Let’s connect! You can also find me hanging out here.