So what if you don’t sew



So what if you don't sew

But good for you if you do

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register


As I write this, mere days before the ghouls and goblins appear, many moms across America, and a few dads, are sewing Halloween costumes. And I have nothing but applause — even awe — for them.

I am, however, proud to have checked that off my list already. By which I mean, I grabbed two Skylander costumes at Target, right when they went on sale, and told the boys their costume would be a surprise this year.

Then I waited until it was basically too late to do anything about it and planned a big reveal. This elaborate plan included setting the Target bag on the table next to the toast and saying, “Surprise! Open your eyes!”

Costumes, check!

You see, while I would love to be a mom who sews costumes, or anything else, for that matter, I’m not.

I’m a mom who feeds my family fodder for funny stories about, say, the time I made matching pajamas for all four of us. The part about how I sewed the pants shut is particularly hilarious.

In my defense, the pattern I’d picked out for my first big sewing project read like a blueprint for an office building. But I was quite motivated by my husband’s doubt that I was going to pull off the pajama project.

“Plaid pajamas for you, my friend,” I promised him in response to all the teasing.

“We’re going to have matching pajamas?” he said, incredulous.

“Well, more like coordinating,” I clarified. “If I go through the trouble of making them, you’ll wear them, right?”

“Oh, honey, you bet,” he was barely able to contain his amusement.

He was surprised the next morning when I hung the first pair from the doorknob. He was impressed the following morning when I finished the second pair. He looked mildly concerned the third morning, when I handed him his very own plaid pajamas.

It seems I may have been off a bit on the measurements. That evoked the response, “Honey, you made me culottes!”

That wasn’t on purpose, honest. I ended up using my seam ripper so much my 4-year-old began calling it “the mistake thing.”

The cheerful, Christmassy mantra that got me through the hours I spent with my seam ripper was: “I don’t care if I have to staple these (expletive). We are wearing these damn pajamas!”

The finished products reminded me of what one of my best friends calls “aggressively homemade.”

They weren’t very practical, because I wouldn’t let anyone eat or play in them, and no one actually slept in them. The pictures turned out pretty cute, though.

Another time, just as I was due to deliver Jake, I got it in my head I wanted to embroider Christmas stockings for all of us, including our dog. Never mind that I’d never done such a thing.

My husband encouraged me to consider glitter and glue instead of needle and thread, but his suggestion didn’t match the picture in my head.

The stockings turned out fine, except that I hated the “M” on Matt’s. I have put fixing it on my to do list the last five Decembers.

I should’ve fixed the sloppy “M” when I first discovered it. But with all the stuff that had to be done before the baby came, Matt said he’d rather live with the misaligned “M” than a stocking forevermore labeled “att.”

Given stories like that, no one at my house is sad or surprised that I don’t sew costumes. In fact, members of my family are relieved.

Plus, it leaves me free to consider doing other things, like making a Skylanders pinata for Sam’s birthday party.

Notice I said “consider.” I thought about it, then caught myself and came down firmly on the “no” side.

Besides, I already had my hands — and counters — full with the extravaganza I was planning for Sam’s seventh birthday on Oct. 7. I happen to think being born is kind of a big deal, so we are big on birthdays around here. And “golden” birthdays come around just once, so I was planning to make a fuss.

Here’s the catch:

Yes, my kids love it. But that’s not exactly why I do it. I actually do it because I love it. I truly do.

But sewing costumes? Not so much.

I have friends who are sewing finishing touches right this moment. They aren’t sewing their kids’ costumes to show me up, though. They are sewing them because they take joy in it, and that’s a critical distinction.

Too often, I think, we project our own insecurities on others. We assume their choices amount to a commentary on ours.

Trust me, they aren’t. And if you can embrace that message, you are welcome to send cash to compensate for the therapy expense I saved you.

Because Sam delights in all things holiday, he loved and truly appreciated every detail of his golden birthday, from the seven gold star balloons to the gold star sprinkles on his lunchtime grapes.

I know, I do go a little crazy sometimes. I’m not sure I should tell you, but I wrapped his lunch in gold paper to make it even more fun. Also, did you know they make golden Oreos for just such occasions?

My younger son, Jake, will be a little harder to impress on his golden birthday. He’ll be 14 then, and he already tends to keep his joy tucked inside.

I don’t think decorating his high school locker in gold foil will cut it. Luckily, I have a few years to reflect on potential alternatives.

In the meantime, I’m considering making a Christmas tree skirt this year. And maybe an advent calendar. Or not.

Coming up: Pictures of the aforementioned aggressively homemade Christmas Pajamas | What Matt actually said about the “M” | The Elf is (almost) in the House | Golden Birthdays, that’s a thing? | Publisher, check (For. Real!!!)

Here are the costumes from left to right:

Target, Target, Crafty Friend Melisa Daily, Crafty Friend Crystal Case.


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Keep your eyes on your own paper

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

SEP 19, 2014 | Roots to Roofs


There's this little thing I like to do called scrapbooking. You may have heard of it? It's a multi-billion dollar industry in this country and if you've ever kept something you value and put pasted it onto paper to preserve it you've done it.

But The Industry makes it seem a little more complicated than that. And, while I'm glad there is an industry which supports my passion for preserving memories, people were doing it long before QVC picked on the goldmine, I think we've gotten a little sidetracked by the glitter and embossing powder.

Because sure, it would be lovely to have an entire room at home dedicated to scrapbooking supplies, all you really need is a pen, pictures, paper and some paste. But even a stapler would do. But that's not safe for archiving, they will tell you.

Maybe not. But if my mama left me a bunch of pictures and stories in her own handwriting I wouldn't be worried about the rust stains, I'd just be stoked to have a piece of her heart in my hand. And I certainly wouldn't question her lack of embellishments.

As a writer I obviously believe in the power and importance of telling, and sharing, our stories, but it's not just the big, breaking news stories I want to see covered in scrapbooks. No, I would love for more people to just take note of right now.

We need to celebrate our everyday, ordinary lives. Especially, I think, in this digital age were less and less is being preserved in a meaningful, permanent way.

I accomplish this by taking a picture a day, most of the days, of something that matters right now and I do a little journaling about it and combine all of it in a pocket-page system called Project Life designed by Becky Higgins to simplify scrapbooking.

And for the record, there are more sticky notes than pictures in the pockets at the moment. This year, I'm about 33 weeks behind but have no doubt I'll catch up. Tomorrow, or another year. I've got the pictures and the notes and figure worst case scenario I can staple all of that together and hand it over to my boys when they're grown: there.

There's what mattered to you when you were two, and ten and thirteen. And also in there is what mattered to me, to your brother and your dad. You'll also find in there some of what happened in the world. Big stuff that mattered to everyone, and little stuff that mattered to just us. There will be books we read, meals we savored, things we did, places we went and the people we loved.

Project Life may not be for you. Plenty of people just aren’t into it. But, if this project calls to you, if you are excited at the thought of participating, you can totally do it your own way.

I loved scrapbooking when I did it my own way, back when I was unaware that there was an “industry” based on it. I naturally kept it simple by pasting pictures, stories and scraps of life (ticket stubs, cards, and such) onto paper.

I didn’t know, or care, if I had a style. Or how my style, or lack of it, measured up to others. Because I didn’t care. I was having fun with it.

And then, I learned about and became enthralled by the Scrapbooking Industry. I loved all of it. Until I realized that instead of scrapbooking anymore, I had become a hoarder of supplies and my pictures stayed in boxes and on multiple unorganized files on my computer labeled “new folder.” Why? I think I felt like I wasn’t “doing it right.”

I didn’t know it at the time as it was a gradual shift from actively engaging in my passion to sitting on the sidelines, watching longingly as others played Varsity.

The pages and projects I was looking to for inspiration seemed so complicated. So embellished. So not me. If that was scrapbooking, then I wasn’t a real scrapbooker.

Then I discovered and fell in virtual love with the work, mission and passion of creative people like Stacy Julian, Ali Edwards, Becky Higgins and Cathy Zielske's whose motto is literally "taking the crap out of scrapbooking." 

For me, they lead me back home to what matters to me: the stories, the passion for sharing them, the joy in creating and the purpose in preserving the moments that make up our lifetime.

These women were like the coaches who insist everyone takes a turn at bat because everyone has something to offer, their own way in their own time.

So if you have a desire to record your life in pictures and stories, grab some paste and get started.

And, remember, as it was in grade school so it is in all things: Keep your eyes on your own paper!

Coming up: The Hardy Boys go to church | The scraps of life – Project Life memorabilia | Raising the Hardy Boys, with fart guns | The time times I lost my journal at the airport, and at the gym, and at my boyfriend’s house.


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Christmas Pajamas

I get these ideas … and often I let them go as quickly as they came but some get stuck in my head and I decide to do things like sew Christmas pajamas. For all four of us. You should know that I don’t actually sew … or that the last time I attempted something like this (Stockings and a receiving blanket) my neighbor friend the lovely Loretta Willard had to bail me out at the last minute. (Literally as I was going into the hospital to have Jake she handed me the blanket I’d meant to make all finished, washed and ready for baby xo).

Anyway over the summer I found this pattern for  pajamas I thought would be fun to make for Christmas. I finally opened it last week:



When I got the thing unfolded I was confounded. I  wanted to sew pajama pants not build a house! I’m not so much a numbers girl, nor am I particularly good at following directions. I understand this doesn’t make me a likely candidate for sewing projects. But like I said, I had this idea …

A few weeks ago I went to the fabric store for my material. I mentioned it to a friend and smiled at the long pause that followed. I know he was thinking something along the lines of: but you don’t sew. I explained that I was making pajamas. Another pause and then he said: “Nathalie, your life is a self-made adventure.”

And you know what? I took that as a compliment. I love for that to be true. It makes life interesting. Besides, learning new things is said to help ward off Alzheimer's.

So then I almost gave up after messing with that pajama engineering project but Matt mocked me and I couldn’t resist … plaid pajamas for you my friend. Super plaid. With a matching shirt.

Matt: We’re going to have matching pajamas?
Me: Well, more like coordinating.

Matt: Oh my God, we’re going to have matching pajamas. (Still laughing thinking this will never happen.)

Me: If I go through the trouble of making them you’ll wear them, right?

Matt: Oh, honey. You bet. Barely able to contain his amusement.

Me: You so should not have mocked me.

He was surprised the next morning when I hung the first pair from the doorknob.

He was impressed when I hung the second pair the next morning.

He looked mildly concerned when I handed him his pair the third day.

“Oh my God honey, you made me kulats!”

They were awful! And much too short.

But what kind of a jerk wouldn’t wear something so lovingly made by his wife? He did request I figure out a way to add a few inches to them. Wait ‘till he sees my fix. And the matching shirt I made out of his old company T-shirt. Surprise!

The surprise was kind of on me though when I tried mine on and found them to be hideously tight. Like for sure I’ll bust a seam. But at least I know how to fix that now! I’m out of material so luckily I found a clearance $3 top that will work perfectly to hide the hideousness. The ruffles, however, are adorable. Well, on the one leg. The other is kind of a hack job.

The whole thing is really kind of a hack but I’m good with that. By the way, I ended up finding an awesome  tutorial on my beloved Pinterest where you use your own pajamas for the pattern. And still there were mistakes. So many mistakes that Sam thinks the seam  ripper is called “the mistake thing.”



The cheerful, Christmassy mantra that got me through the hours I spent with my seam ripper was: I don’t care if I have to staple these f@#$&*@ we are wearing these damn pajamas!

Anyway,they’re done. And they are awesome, in a way. They remind me of what my friend Sarah calls “aggressively homemade.” Love that expression. We’re not going to eat in these. Or play in them. You know what? Maybe we won’t even sleep in them.


Here they are ready to be unwrapped tomorrow night before we read our first round of Elf on the Shelf. (Check local listings but the movie is playing Friday on CBS!) I even made our little Elf his own sleeping bag because I am totally geeking out on being a holiday mom. I love this part of the gig!



Oh, right the pajamas …



Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Oh my gosh! I could make matching stocking hats. Ha!