How To

lace it up: vogue 9253

I’m in a sewing groove, if you will. I know–after many a style stumble and failed attempts at being trendy or wearing things that I’m not comfortable in–what works for me and what doesn’t. 99% of the time, I stick with my formula and my projects come together very well. I know where I can experiment and try new things (mainly through color or prints), and I’m happy to challenge myself and venture a little outside the box from time to time. But for the most part, I’m quite happy to stay in my lane, and I happen to really, really love my style.

Every once in a while, though, I find myself wearing a newly finished project that I’m not completely thrilled with for one reason or another. Most of the time, the projects I dislike are the ones where I’ve forced myself into a style that doesn’t work for me or I’m not comfortable in. (See a few examples of previous disappointments in this post of project fails from the first part of the year in this post. If you read that post, just be sure to follow it up with the successful projects post, just to balance it out. 🙂 ) The dress in today’s post has me feeling a little torn, and I can’t decide if I’m truly disappointed with it or not. It’s entirely possible that I’ve just been looking at it too much and I’m being overly critical, but I can’t decide if it’s a styling issue or a it-looks-like-a-robe-to-me-now kind of thing.

This dress is Vogue 9253, and it’s hardly a stretch to call it one of Vogue’s most popular patterns of the summer. I’ve seen some truly stunning versions on social media, which is where a lot of inspiration to sew it came from. It’s also a very flattering design and easy to sew. The plunging neckline is elongating and frames the face beautifully. I love the skirt and the pockets and the kimono sleeves and the ties and the pleats on the bodice. Lots of good stuff there.

For me though, I can’t really pull off such a plunging neckline, which is my way of saying that I can wear it but I’m not actually comfortable wearing it. My solution to this was to cut the dress as is but add lace trim around the neckline. My original idea was to only add the trim around the neckline, hem, and along the edges of the ties. I wanted it in those three specific areas so that the eye was drawn there, top to bottom: neckline, empire waistline, and hem. I had no plans to put it on the sleeves or down center front.

This dress has a center front seam in the skirt, and it was really distracting. I didn’t like it all, so in order to cover up the ugly center front seam, I added lace on either side of it. Then, I eliminated the idea of lace around the hem and the self ties, and I added it to the hem of the sleeves instead. I really like the placement of the lace (mirrored down center front, hugging the edge of the hem on the sleeve), but it does bother me that the lace around the neckline isn’t set against the white fabric like it is on the skirt and sleeves. If the lace was around the neckline but on the dress itself, I think I might like that a bit better for continuity. But then we’d have the low neckline again. Quite frankly (and this is my honest thought as I’m typing this), I think I should make that change and get over this silly nonsense about not being comfortable in the low neckline. So I have a dress in my closet with an extremely low neckline that I only wear twice a year and requires body makeup and special bra cups and nothing less than perfect posture at all times? Would that be the worst thing?

I didn’t make any significant adjustments to the pattern, except to shorten the waist ties a little and make the skirt hem 1 1/4″ instead of 5/8″. I made the hem deeper because I added 1″ horsehair braid to the hem to give it a little more structure and support the added weight of the lace down the front.

I made bias tape for the full measurement of the neckline, not just the back as the pattern suggests. This way, I could sew the lace in between the bodice and the bias tape. Keeps it in its place nicely. I also added a piece of grosgrain ribbon next to the zipper. The pattern instructs you to sew the bias tape on first and then install the zipper. That would have been fine if I hadn’t waited to serge my center back seams until after I’d sewn the bias tape. The result was a bit of a mess that I didn’t like.

The cover up.

 

The sleeve hem.

Back view.

I’m always saying that sewing and creating is a journey, and it’s projects like this–the stuff we’re less than thrilled with–that prove that point. Everything can’t be another oh-my-goodness-I-love-this-so-much winner. Now, you better believe that I do aim for a steady stream of outstanding pieces I absolutely adore, but it doesn’t always work out that way. To not share this dress with you would be disingenuous to the process. It would also be insincere and icky. Because I don’t care who you are, the “meh” stuff happens every once in a while. We all have the box of unfinished or abandoned projects or a secret closet where the disappointments stay hidden until the end of time. The point is to figure out why something didn’t work and make a note of that for the future. It’s also worth mentioning that you should never feel like you have to force yourself into something that you know won’t work for you just to try something “new” or simply because you’ve seen so many other people look fabulous in it.

Your style is exactly that: your style. Just because you may not look as amazing in a plunging neckline as someone else doesn’t diminish how ravishing you may look in something else. Be true to who you are and make what you like and what works for you.

We got the keys to our new house this week, and the movers will be here in a couple of days. It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks with the sorting and packing and excitement of it all. I’m to the point where I’m ready for the actual move to be over and done with so I can start enjoying the new space. We went to the new house as soon as we got the keys the other day, and it was the first time we’ve seen it empty. I really like seeing houses empty. I don’t need to see staged rooms or other people’s things scattered everywhere. I can visualize what a space will look like much better when there’s nothing in it. We have big plans for the terrible kitchen, and I’m also making a few updates to the studio next weekend. Looking forward to sharing that with you soon.

Wish us luck for a smooth move this weekend, and I’ll be back soon with more new garments. I’m really excited about the things I’m showing you in the coming weeks. It’s good stuff.

We walked out of the new house yesterday morning to this. Deer, everywhere. I’m over the moon about the charm of this house and the neighborhood. Definitely getting some rockers for those magnificent porches too.

Have a great weekend!

that’s a wrap: vogue 8379

Until a few weeks ago, my Instagram profile had a line in it about “building a handmade wardrobe.” A quick browse of other like-minded sewing and design accounts will say the same thing, and I love that there’s folks out there who are investing their time, money, and skills towards such a admirable goal. Some people approach it from a sustainability perspective, making a conscious choice not to buy fast fashion, instead investing in a few natural textiles to build a capsule collection of clothes. Other folks are tired of the endless frustration of never finding well fitting or well made things in stores and are inspired to take matters into their own hands. There are a lot of reasons to sew your own clothes, and I just love connecting with fellow sewers and watching them create a handmade wardrobe.

The thing is, I’m not necessarily interested in sewing an entire wardrobe from scratch. I have exactly zero interest in making undergarments, and the chances of me ever making a pair of jeans are slim – my Levi’s suit me just fine for the three or four months a year it’s actually cool enough to wear them. No camis or tank tops for me, thanks. T-shirts, swimsuits, workout gear? Nope, nope, and nope.

For as much as I believe in creating a wardrobe full of special pieces and handmade, unique items that no one else has, I also recognize that there’s plenty of things sold in stores that are done really, really well and there’s no need for me to try and do any better. There are more than enough great fitting tees to choose from, and I promise the perfect pair of jeans is out there too. So, as much as I love adding handmade piece to my closet every week, I will never have an entirely handmade wardrobe, and I’m okay with that.

All of this to say that the dress in today’s post came about not because I was inspired by the pattern itself (although now having made it, I can say that it’s utterly fantastic) or by the fabric, but by a store bought dress I have in my closet. It’s a rayon knit wrap dress I got from Hobbs in London last year, and it is wonderful. It’s one of those pieces you can just throw on and walk out the door, and it’s comfortable all day long. Every time I put it on I think, “Huh, I really need to copy this dress. I could use about a dozen versions of it.” So I finally did a little digging in my pattern stash earlier this summer when I was planning new projects, and decided it was time to give Vogue 8379 a shot. It was the closest thing I could find to the Hobbs dress.

This pattern has been out for quite some time, and it’s been made umpteen times by just about everyone – and for good reason. Of all the patterns I’ve used recently, this one stands out for its excellent fit right out of the envelope and for how easily it came together. My fabric is a cotton stretch I found at Fashion Fabrics Club earlier this year (I believe it’s sold out now), and I like it for the colors and print, and also because it’s not polyester. I work with poly every once in a blue moon, but I do try to avoid it whenever possible. It’s just not my favorite. This cotton jersey has nice stretch and recovery, and it was pretty easy to work with. Knits aren’t my go-to fabrics, but it was a nice change of pace to make a knit dress after so many projects with woven fabrics.

I made only very minor adjustments to the pattern. I added 2″ to the hem of the skirt, and I left off the cuff in view B. Because I left the cuff off, I added about an 1.5″ to the length of the sleeve to keep it a true 3/4 sleeve length. I also angled the ends of the ties, simply because I like the way that looks.

No swayback adjustment, no length to the bodice, no neckline adjustment, and I cut the same size in this dress that I cut in every other Vogue pattern.

This fabric is a lightweight stretch fabric, so I used a size 75 stretch needle, regular thread, and stretch interfacing on the facings (this Pellon interfacing is great for stretch garments). I put my sewing machine in “stretch light” mode, so it automatically sews a knit stitch. If your fabric is especially unwieldy or you need extra stability in the hem, you can always interface that as well.

You don’t necessarily have to finish the edges of knit garments because they won’t unravel like wovens, but I still serge all the edges and understitch where appropriate.

Here you can see the ends of the ties that I cut at an angle and a peek of the hem of the sleeve. I used a blind hem to finish the hems of the sleeves and the skirt. I don’t have a cover stitch machine, and I don’t always like a visible line of stitching along the hem–especially on a print dress–which is why I went with a blind hem. I love a nice, clean finish.

The skirt hem.

Pleats at the waistline.

This is a true wrap dress, so there’s an opening in the left side seam for the tie to feed through and wrap around you.

The facings.

This is one of those classic dresses that you can make in a lot of different colors and prints, and I will definitely be making this one again and again. I’ve started a royal blue version, and I’m excited to finish it as soon as we’re settled in the new house.

Speaking of the new house, packing is coming along, and we’ll be moving in a few days. Ty and I have moved quite a lot in the past ten years, but this is the first time we’re moving into our own home, so we’re especially excited. I can’t wait to get in the house and show you my new studio space and share our big remodel plans for the kitchen. In the meantime, the packing continues!

Thank you for the kind words and best wishes for this adventure!

stars in my eyes: Vogue 9251 (version 2)

My dad has a saying about buying things: always get two. Found the perfect pair of jeans? Get two. Need a pack of batteries? Get two. Now, of course I don’t make it a habit of buying or making two of everything, but it’s a good concept to keep in mind. The idea of making two (or multiples, as is the case with me quite often) makes sense to me in sewing. We invest so much time and energy into making our clothes, why not get as much value out of it as you possibly can?

When I’m making a garment I’m focused on three things: how it fits, how I feel in it, and how well it works for my lifestyle. In the year and a half that I’ve been rebuilding my wardrobe, I’ve discovered a handful of patterns that for a variety of reasons work especially well for me. I’ll put a few examples at the end of this post, but Vogue 9251 is another one of those patterns. Funny enough, I never would have thought it would make the list of multiple makes, because the low neckline isn’t something I’m too comfortable in. Turns out, the fit and easy construction makes up for that. And don’t get me started on those darling sleeves. The other thing I like about this pattern is that you can draft a number of different skirts onto the bodice, which can change things up quite dramatically.

The first time I made this dress I was in make-everything-you-possibly-can mode prior to my Memorial Day trip to Nashville, so I didn’t make a muslin for the dress (something I never skip). The bodice turned out to be a little short on me, but I loved the dress and I knew I would make it again. So, I lengthened the bodice by about 1.5″, which was as easy as cutting the pattern along the “lengthen or shorten line,” taping paper underneath to add the length, and truing the sides. I also made a swayback adjustment to the back bodice (which is why the dart looks a little wonky).

For this version, I chose a stunning rayon twill print, and not only does it feel like butter it’s also completely opaque, meaning it can stand alone as a dress without a lining.

The thing that makes this version so interesting is the difference in the drape of the fabric. The fabric I used for this dress is a suggested fabric for the pattern, but the linen I used before is not. The linen version is in no way bad or wrong, it’s just different. This side by side of the sleeves demonstrates the characteristics of each fabric really well.

The linen on the left is a medium weight so it’s naturally more stiff and voluminous. It has lovely drape, but notice how it drapes away from my arm more than the rayon sleeve.

I drafted a full skirt for this rayon version, simply because I had enough fabric, and I absolutely love a full, floaty rayon skirt that swooshes as much as possible when I walk. I also knew that the fabric would fall along the bias, so instead of worrying about maintaining the shape of the skirt from the pattern while keeping it level, I went with something full that would need to be leveled the same amount all the way around. I left the dress on the form for a couple of days to let the fabric fall as much as possible, and then I evened it out. You can see here just how much the fabric relaxed. (For more on leveling a hem, see this post from last fall.)

When I can, I like to make my own bias tape, and I was able to do that for this dress. I love how it looks.

I used snaps to close the linen dress, but I followed the pattern instructions this time and made bias strips for the side ties. This limits me to only being able to wear the dress like this (can’t really put a belt on top of the ties, that’d be weird), but I like them. They stay tied too, which was my biggest concern.

I can’t tell you how comfortable this dress is. It’s probably as close to wearing jimmy jams as you can get.

I’ll be making this dress at least one more time, and I’m very excited about this version. I’ll be using a very lightweight blue floral rayon crepe and making the maxi version (view B). I’m going with the skirt from the pattern (no changes this time), but I am toying with the idea of adding a ruffle to the neckline. The fabric is so delicate and drapes so nicely that I think a ruffle might be lovely added detail.

I’m delighted that this pattern worked so well, and with (soon to be) three versions of it, I can file it under the “multiple makes” category, along with a few other cherished patterns.

Vogue 8825

Vogue 9197

The striped skirt.

Vogue 8772

Happy Sewing!

how to: add a button extension

And just like that, three weeks have gone by since my last post. June and July have been busy and full of new adventures and distractions, but I certainly didn’t think my blogging routine would fall by the wayside. And I’ve had good intentions, saying things like “coming next week” and “look for the new post in a couple days” but time and other things kept me from sticking to it. All of this to say, my apologies for getting off track. I’m excited to be back with you today, and I have tons of content planned for the rest of the summer. The funniest part about all this is that I have the pictures and ideas ready to go, it’s just a matter of editing and typing it all. Maybe I’ve stumbled into a lazy streak when it comes to computer work?

If you’re wondering about what’s been going on with us this summer, I’ll put some highlights at the end of this post. But first, let’s talk about this darling skirt. I’ve had this out-of-print pattern for ages (McCall’s 5431), and it’s one of those patterns that always gives me pause when I’m digging through my pattern stash. It’s a great little skirt for summer, and I especially love the big patch pockets. For the longest time, I thought the design was missing something, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was. That is, until Emily’s Summer of All the Buttons 2017 mindset kicked in and the lightbulb went off: Buttons! It needs buttons! (And I’m not kidding about my button obsession. I’ve made two new button-up blouses, and I have plans for four shirtdresses. I can’t stop with the buttons.)

My fabric is 100% linen, and I got it from Textile Fabrics in Nashville last month.

In order to have the skirt button up the front, I added a button extension. It’s an easy pattern change to make, and once you know the rules for button placement and spacing, you can apply this concept to just about anything. There’s a few different ways to execute the placket itself (a fold-over facing, a separate placket, etc.), but for this skirt I went with a separate facing piece.

The rules for button placement and spacing are pretty simple, but it all starts with the size of the button. I used 7/8″ buttons for this skirt. Usually, with button extensions (on a blouse, for instance), spacing is determined using the first and last buttons as a guide. Then you fill in the rest, making sure each one is evenly spaced. With a skirt, however, buttons don’t always go all the way to the hem, so determining placement and spacing is much easier. You can just start at the top and work your way down without having to worry about spacing the buttons in between the top and bottom buttons. So, if this is something you’d like to try on a project, I’d recommend starting with a skirt.

Here are the guidelines for adding a button extension:

  1. Length: The length of the buttonhole is equal to the size of the button plus 1/8″. My buttons are 7/8″, so my buttonholes are 1″.
  2. Placement: Buttonholes are sewn 1/8″ beyond the center front line, or wherever the garment is overlapping. So the majority of the buttonhole will be on the garment side, with just the 1/8″ extending beyond center front.
  3. Spacing: For blouses, mark for the first and last buttonhole, and then divide the remaining space among the rest of the buttonholes. For a skirt or other garment where the buttons do not cover the full distance of the placket, start at the top and work your way down. You want enough space from the top of the button so that it doesn’t touch the edge of the garment, but don’t leave too much space so that it gaps open.
  4. Extension/Facing: To accommodate the buttons, you have to add space beyond center front. This is equal to the size of the button. So, I have added 7/8″ beyond the center front line. Then, I added seam allowance (5/8″). In total, I’ve added 1.5″ to center front. (You can see that in the white paper.)

This skirt has a yoke, and only one button could fit on it, so that made this even easier. I simply centered the first button on the yoke and worked my way down.

To determine the spacing for the remaining buttons, I used a couture method I like to call “eyeballing” it. (Hey, when it works, it works!) Bigger buttons need more space between them, and then the opposite is true. Just keep an eye on proportions. My buttons are spaced 3″ apart.

 And that’s it! I’m quite happy with how this skirt turned out. I think the buttons give it a little something extra, and I know I’ll get a lot of wear out of this piece this summer. I really, really need a few garments like this (easy to sew, unlined, comfortable in the heat), so I know I’ll be making this one again.

This pattern is out-of-print, but it is still available to purchase on the McCall’s website. I’d also check eBay too, if you’re interested. I didn’t make any other changes to the pattern, but I will say that it runs a bit big. I ended up going down two sizes. The pocket flap is also a bit funky, so I ignored that pattern piece and tweaked the pocket piece so it would have the same look.

I didn’t have any ribbon on hand that I really liked, but I did have a small piece of lace to use along the bottom of the yoke lining. I think it finishes that seam nicely. It serves no practical purpose, it’s just a pretty detail for the inside.

It’s been a busy summer for us. I mentioned a few weeks ago that we were house hunting, and I’m thrilled to tell you that we found one. YAY! This is our first home purchase together, so it’s extra exciting for us. We have big renovation plans for the house, so I’m excited to share those with you soon too. We’ll be moving next month, and I’ve already started organizing and packing the house we’re in now. It’s been a few years since we last moved, so I’d forgotten (or just blocked out) what a task all that is. But I’m taking it one day and few boxes at a time.

The house we found is truly a blessing for us, and it has just about everything we’d been looking for. Ty has an office, and I lucked into a huge studio space (even bigger than what I have now!), and we have plenty of room for guests and an acre lot for the puppies to run around in. The neighborhood is charming with tons of mature trees, which takes me back to growing up in North Carolina. The house itself has quite a bit of southern charm, and I can’t wait to get some white rocking chairs for the porches and enjoy having usable outdoor spaces.  We love it.

Ty had some business to do in Alaska and California recently, and I got to tag along. His parents have a cabin in Alaska, and they happen to live 20 minutes from where Ty needed to go, so we got to visit with them for a few days. We explored and fished for salmon and had a wonderful time. This was my first trip to Alaska, and it was magnificent. Then we spent a couple days in San Francisco for the final leg of the business trip. I spent an entire afternoon at Britex Fabrics, easily one of the best fabric shops I’ve ever seen.

It’s always fun to leave for a trip, but it’s also nice to come home. I’m glad to be back, and it felt so good to sit down at my sewing machines after a few days away. You know me – always working on projects is my happy place.

Ty in his element, fishing at the Kenai River.

Walking along the beach in Homer, Alaska.

I caught a salmon. ALL BY MYSELF. It was amazing. (Also, kind of gross.)

Beautiful Alaska.

Have a great rest of the week!

star power: summer projects with the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 50

The idea that time flies when you’re having fun could not be more true. In fact, it’s been so much fun and I’ve been so focused on my projects (“in the zone” as I like to say), that I only just realized the other day that’s it’s been two months since I got the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 50 to use for the summer. Two months! Before you know it, we’ll be talking about fall and holiday plans. But, right now, it’s my favorite season and I’m enjoying every second of it, even if it is so hot that I can feel my face melting every time I walk out of the house.

A couple weeks ago, I highlighted some of the features and capabilities of the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 50, and today I’m going to show you the projects I made using it. I mentioned before that this particular sewing and embroidery machine is only two models up from one of my own machines (I have a DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 25), so it was immediately familiar to me. I was able to dive right in and while I did sew a handful of garments on this machine, the focus this time was really on showcasing the embroidery this machine can do. It is spectacular.

The ladies at my local dealer (hey, Linda and Karen!) were immensely helpful in walking me through some of the basics, and I invested countless hours into various tests of thread/needle/fabric combinations, while also experimenting with the design functions on the PREMIER+™ EXTRA software I have. Just like anything else, it just takes a little time and practice to get the hang of machine embroidery, but I also found that I was unnecessarily anxious about it. It’s so easy!

There are 150 embroidery designs that come with the machine, so you’ll have plenty to choose from the moment you unpack the machine. One of the designs is for a pair of earrings, which has got to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. We all probably associate embroidery with some of the same things: tea towels, tote bags, t-shirts, etc., but this machine really opens up a lot of creative possibilities beyond the typical projects. Who would have thought about embroidering earrings?! The HUSQVARNA VIKING® folks, that’s who.

The earrings are made by embroidering on water soluble stabilizer and a piece of polyester organza (a tip I picked up from Linda at my dealer, and it really did make a difference). For the earrings you’ll need your choice of thread (I went with one solid color), stabilizer, earring hooks, hotfix crystals, and a hotfix applicator. I also found applique scissors to be the easiest for cutting the organza from the finished embroidery, but small, sharp scissors will work just as well.

My applique scissors. (Get a pair here.)

I used the small hoop that comes with the machine (the DESIGNER™ Splendid Square Hoop, 120 x 120), selected the design from the machine, and pressed the start button.

After you’ve embroidered the earrings and cut the organza away, soak them in warm water for about ten minutes to allow the stabilizer to dissolve, and then air dry. Once dry, apply the crystals and the earring post, and then you have yourself a brand new pair of adorable earrings. So much fun! Makes a great gift, too.

I had some intricate ideas for embroidered garments (still do, I’ll bring them to life eventually), but for this first project I decided to go with something a little more straightforward. One thing I didn’t want to do, however, was a simple, centered design. Not that there’s a thing wrong with that, but I kept going back to something with a more random, scattered placement that wasn’t a symmetrical design. I had high hopes for an embroidered wrap top, but I ended up going with an apron because it allowed me to go with a smaller design that I could embroider in sections. With the top, I kept running into overlapped embroidery or wonky placement, which was just a result of lack of practice. I didn’t want any of the embroidery to get into the seam allowances, but I also wanted it to follow the lines of the bodice. Because the front bodice piece was a little bigger than the hoop it needed to be embroidered in sections. The tricky part came in figuring out whether to do that in a top and bottom section or one big middle piece and two side areas. I tried both, but even with careful placement and measuring I couldn’t quite get the sections to work together without overlapping or creeping into the seam allowances.

Here you can see that the middle section of the embroidery has been applied, so I’m attempting to embroider the shoulder and side areas without overlapping what’s already there.

So, instead of a bigger design, I changed things up and designed a small cluster of three stars that I could embroider in various places. I will revisit the blouse idea later on, but the idea of a patriotic apron with stars on it was one I couldn’t pass up. So, I picked some denim from my fabric stash along with a red check cotton for the ties, and I got busy embroidering.

I traced the outline of the apron with tailor’s chalk, making sure to mark my seam allowances and pocket placement to avoid embroidering in those spots. I did a quick test run of the star cluster, and used that test piece to determine the placement of each little trio on the apron.

By simply rotating the design each time I embroidered it, I achieved the look I was going for: scattered placement that didn’t look repetitive or too intentional but was thoughtfully arranged. And each little cluster looks different, but it’s the exact same design. All I did was rotate it.

I thought it would be fun to embroider the pocket in a neat row of stars of the same size, so I decided how big I wanted them, designed and measured it to make sure it would fit the size of the pocket and follow its shape, and embroidered it in one go on the big hoop (the DESIGNER™ Royal Hoop, 360 x 200), and attached it to the apron. The apron is denim, and I used a size 80 titanium embroidery needle, black embroidery bobbin thread, and INSPIRA® Whisper Web Mesh Light Cut Away Stabilizer.  Sulky embroidery thread. Worked like a charm.

I’m calling this apron “The All American” because if there was ever an apron deserving of that name, it’s this one. I love it!

These projects were so much fun I kick myself a little for not getting into embroidery sooner. Think of all the things that can be made now! I have big plans for an embroidered cropped jacket to go with this dress I made recently, and I’d like to do some fun embroidery (bees, maybe? or something cute like bananas or some kind of animal?) on a dress, so I’m looking forward to doing those things later this summer.

Happy Fourth of July! For me, this holiday is up there with Christmas. I love celebrating our nation, and I love everything patriotic and American during the summer. It reminds me of the summers my brother and I had when we were growing up. Biking to our neighborhood pool, sunny afternoons in the magical treehouse in our backyard, beach trips with our grandparents, church retreats, and running around with all of our friends. Most importantly, the freedom we had to do it all.

Ty and I are in the midst of our first house hunt. It’s exciting and frustrating and tons of fun and a huge pain and everything everyone always says about buying a home, but it’s also humbling in a way. I’m so thankful to live in a country where we have the freedom and opportunity to work hard and make a life for ourselves. I have always dreamed of living the life I live now, and it’s days like today that remind to take a moment and appreciate being an American and be thankful for the freedom to make choices for myself and live as fully and as heartily as I possibly can. Because, no matter what, I love my country and I’m proud to be an American.

Now, let’s see if I can whip up an apple pie.