Light and Loveliness

Reflections of Emily Sue Allen

Date archives February 2014

Family / Life & Faith / Motherhood

Rainy Day Sillies

This week you get a three-for-one. We didn’t really want to attempt a rain-drenched photo this week, and I’ve been trying to avoid snapping the weekly photos at home indoors, since we’ll probably be doing that for a few weeks when the new one arrives. So we all piled in our newly-cleaned car (all ready for a fifth car seat…thanks Daddy!) and made silly faces for y’all. Most of us, anyway. There was one protester.

One Three photo(s) a week of our family throughout the year. 8/52

The last photo is my personal favorite, even if we did cut off half of the protester’s sweet face. Sorry dude!

We’re all doing well. Excited for little miss to arrive any day, and we’re all pretty sure we will be meeting her before the end of the week. I’m to the stage where everyone I call on the phone picks up frantically, thinking I must be in labor. Not yet, my friends. Although I did have a five hour stretch last Friday of regular but not serious contractions. That was a tease!

Overall I feel great, ready, and eager to meet my baby face-to-face. I have spikes of anxiety and awareness of the fragility of life. How little control we have over how days unfold. I feel the weight and responsibility of a new baby’s vulnerability, hoping that I will know what to do when each decision comes up to give her the best, healthiest start I can. I do know we are in God’s care, and His peace and wisdom will get us through. Still, I think mama hearts know the kind of worry I am experiencing.

Anyway. I’m not sure if I’ll write again until I announce her arrival…or I might find myself with lots of words as I wait. Who knows. I appreciate the friends who have checked in with me to see how I’m doing these past few weeks. Thanks for journeying with me!

Family / Life & Faith


I know that in the grand scheme of things, I know very little about waiting. Many others wait notably longer stretches for things to come together as they hope, with no guarantees that they will…but here I am waiting for another babe to arrive, and the days feel long even though her arrival is right around the corner. In one sense, I feel great. I am more physically prepared for this event than I have been for any previous birth, which is a blessing. On the flip-side, however, I am spent, and I have a very limited amount of energy which doesn’t always match up with how much all the others need from mama on a given day. We’re working it out. The kids are helping a ton, and learning how to do a few more things independently when I’m unable to extract myself from my half-sleeping position the couch. My husband is leaping to the rescue when I can’t manage a meal or a kitchen cleanup. What a guy. I feel very tender, and very aware of the vulnerability this season holds for all of us. It’s not just me that is growing to accommodate this new little person. Everyone is rising to the challenge of mama running at half-steam. One of the things I love about welcoming new babies into our family is that each one of us grow a touch more tender toward each other…more willing to help, more bonded in love. It’s not flawless, by any means, but seeing my kids step up to take care of each other in little ways warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes.

One photo a week of our family throughout the year. 7/52

We did a simple photo this week at a park near to our house. One of my rules about the weekly photos is to come as we are…aside from some planning for creative shots, I’m trying to just take everyone how they’re dressed (no coordinating), hair brushed or not, make up or not (not, for me this week! I opted for a nap instead) and just capture us in all our beautiful imperfection. We typically take just enough photos to make sure we’re all in focus (typically 3-4 since I’m setting the camera on a tripod and running…err…waddling into each shot during the 10 second timer) and try make it a no-big-deal sort of affair. It’s a challenge for me to not want to tweak and re-shoot over small picky things, but in the end, I love that it’s just us, not us-made-pretty-for-the-camera. Everyone has been such a good sport, probably because of how low-key we have kept things. Anyway, there may be a week or two more of just us six, but don’t you worry, before long there will be seven faces to see.


DIY Fabric Tote

So, for some reason, every time I’m just about to have a baby, I get crazy amounts of inspiration for creative projects. Nesting. Yes. Except I’m not really into the organizing, cleaning, purging – mostly because I’ve already been doing that over the past several months. So after I finished making the baby blanket over the weekend, which happened to be early in the day, I decided I hadn’t done enough sewing, so I marched myself over to the fabric store and bought the following fabric. Actually, my husband drove me to the store, and all the kids were along, so I couldn’t afford to sit and consider and ponder and change my mind one hundred times about what I was going to get. As a result, I picked out this combo in record time. I had poked around on Pinterest looking for some ideas for simple fabric totes, and came upon this tutorial for some guidance.

In the past, I have been very shy of committing to colors in any creative project. I always choose plain, safe, practical, and rarely anything very flashy. The ironic thing is when I’m photographing families, I absolutely love it when they coordinate bright or bold colors in their wardrobe, so when I was thinking more about this tote, I wanted to choose fabrics that would challenge my plain jane habit. I went into it knowing I would be making this for a friend, so I considered fabrics that reminded me of her aesthetic, and also had a bit of color that I might not normally choose myself.

I followed the tutorial fairly closely with regard to measurements, but decided to leave the frills behind. Ruffles aren’t really my thing. I also couldn’t get it gathered quite right, so I made the front ruffles a flat panel instead. Below is the front side of the tote. I was excited to incorporate the D-rings into the handles as an added touch, even though my straps and loops ended up being just a little wide. I love that its not quite perfect.

The inside is fully lined, and I sewed in a few pockets that can hold necessary items like a phone, keys, pens, etc so they are not floating around the bottom of the bag. I have made several other totes in the past, but this is the first time I’ve followed a tutorial or measured anything for a tote…and let me say, lining the inside of a bag is way easier when you know what size the bag actually is. Sometimes being a free spirit does not make things easier! This time it came together so seamlessly…I may just start getting a little more serious about measuring things instead of winging it. Maybe.

This is the first time I’ve ever done boxed corners. They were really much easier than I expected. I followed this tutorial to learn how to do them.

Overall, I am really pleased with how this turned out. In fact, I think it is the most sophisticated thing I’ve sewn to date, and I’m really looking forward to making another sometime soon. I did finish it in one evening (bonus for short attention-span me), and if I could give any advice, I would recommend completing some of the smaller details first. Straps. D-ring loops, interior pockets. Then when you get the structure put together, you can proceed to attach those pieces as you’re ready for them instead of having to stop and do each side-project in order to move forward.


Simple DIY Baby Blanket

Spent the morning making this little beauty for the little one that is waiting to join our family in a few weeks. I have made these blankets for each of the kids, and for several friends over the years. What I love about them is they are the perfect size for swaddling baby, especially between 1-3 months old. They are admittedly a little on the large side for newborns, but that stretch of time is so short, and I love that these are useful beyond the first weeks. I find they are also large enough to stand in for a nursing cover if there isn’t one handy. After the swaddling stage, they also make great tummy-time blankets.

Another reason I love these is they are super easy to make. I am really only at a beginning/intermediate level of sewing, and I find that I get bored easily with projects that take too much time without the gratification of a finished product. Just being honest! So if you’re interested in making one yourself (they make great gifts for friends!) I put together a little tutorial to help.

First, choose 2 fabrics that complement each other. You’ll want 1 & 1/3 yard of each print/color, and I have only made these with snuggle or quilting flannel from Joann Fabrics. I have made it with just 1 yard previously, and find the blankets turn out just a bit too small to be useful to me. Before starting, I square up the two pieces of fabric by folding them in a triangle and cutting (or tearing) the edges to match, then pin the edges every 6-10 inches or so to keep them aligned, with the ‘right sides’ turned in to each other.

Then I stitch down all four sides about 5/8″ from the edge, except for a 6 inch bit on one side that needs to remain open so you can turn it right side out for the next steps. I do not measure the distance to the edge, but try to keep a straight/even stitch all the way around. Then, through the opening left at the end, I turn the whole blanket right side out and flatten out the corners and edges, using an iron to press them down.

I do typically follow the ironing with a few pins around to keep the pieces in good position for the next stitches. First, I stitch down as close to the edge as I can (1/2″ or less), starting with the 6″ portion that I turned the blanket through with. If you fold the edges in to the right place and pin them, they stitch together nicely.

After sewing the 1/2″ all the way around, I like to make a second stitch about an inch toward the middle from the original stitch, just to help the edges lay a little flatter and to add a little touch to the final result. And that about does it! It takes a little less than an hour to make from start to finish, most of the time going into the prep, pinning, turning, pressing…the sewing itself is pretty easy! Straight lines all the way.

Family / Life & Faith

Sending Love to You

This week I did a little experiment for our photo and attached a piece of fabric to the end of my lens with a heart cut out. Valentine’s Day is less than a week away, so it seemed fitting to make a valentine of our own. The following photos of the kids are the test shots I did inside the house, and I find it interesting how the color of the fabric looks completely different based on the direction and source of the available light in each photo. If you’ve ever wondered what a difference a slight angle change or light source can make in a photo, this would be a great experiment to re-create! And yes, I realize that makes me a complete photo-nerd.

One photo a week of our family throughout the year. 6/52

I’ve had a lot on my mind but not a lot of energy to share it here. We are on the home stretch before baby’s arrival, and I’m doing my best to keep things simple, do what needs to be done around the house, and get a lot of rest in preparation for a season of newborn-ness and all the adjustment that will come with that. We are all excited to meet her and see what our family dynamic will look like with a new addition.

I honestly have so much I plan and hope to share when I find the gusto to write it all down, but until then, we send our love to you this week, whether Valentine’s day is a happy day or a hard day for you. You are special just the way you are, and if you need a listening ear or a big hug, just give us a call. We have an abundance of love to share.


Creativity / Family

Game Day Buzz

The city is alive with spirit for today’s big game. I’m not a huge football fan, but I have enjoyed the excitement of this season, and as I learn more about the strategy and working parts of the game, I like watching it more and more. Per the husband’s request, we decided to show a little Seahawks-spirit in this week’s family photo by including a banner I made in support of them. The kids have no idea what the touchdown hands are all about, but they obliged for the photo. If you ask me, the little one stole the show this week.

One photo a week of our family throughout the year. 5/52

After posting a photo of the banner on my Facebook timeline earlier this week, several people asked me how I made it, so the following is a (rough) tutorial. I rarely have a real plan ahead of time when I am doing a creative project, so much of the following was improvised on the spot. All I had decided on going into it was the colors I wanted to use, and the shape of the letter flags. I bought simple cotton broadcloth in all the Seahawks-related colors, and started by layering up the blue so I could cut all 10 layers for the flags at the same time. I folded and cut a piece of computer paper to size first to make sure the angle would be even on both sides and then proceeded with cutting the fabric.

Next, I went searching for a font I thought could work for the lettering, and printed out everything at the desired size. I printed it out twice, as the first time the letters seemed like they would be a little small on the flags and larger letters seemed necessary. That’s the fun part of figuring things out as you go!

To get fabric letters out of paper ones, I used paper-backed iron-on adhesive transfer on the back side of my white broadcloth. After first cutting the letters out of the computer paper, I traced them backwards onto the back/paper side of the transfer, so I could cut the fabric out without any marks on the front side. After the letters were all cut out from the fabric, I removed the paper backing, placed each letter carefully on its flag, and ironed it on.

The next step was to figure out how to use the bright green to liven up the banner, so I spread the flags out on the table so I could think about what to do. I had plans for a more involved design, but as the time got later and my patience wore out, I decided on simple long rectangle flags between/behind each letter-flag. Sometimes simple is better!

It wasn’t until the next morning that I tackled the Seahawks logo for the final flag. The 12th man flag was the first one I did, even though it’s not pictured until later. I went about the same process for the logo (computer-printed, cut out – painstakingly piece by piece – and the ironed together in successive steps). This was by far the most tedious part of the project, but I am pleased with the final result, even though I would have loved a little more precise lines on the beak.

To bring it all together, I pinned the pieces together with a 1/4-inch navy ribbon and sewed down the ribbon with a zig-zag stitch. This is the final result! If you’re in the market to make any kind of banner, I recommend the broadcloth/iron-on transfer combo. While I chose not to finish the edges of the flags as of yet, I think they’ll hold up for many seasons to come. Go Hawks!