Re-usable Cloth Gift Bags


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Now that I have shared many of my thoughts on gift giving, I thought that I would also share this super easy gift bag tutorial. There are lots of ways to make a gift bag, but I find this so quick and easy (seriously, the last one took me five minutes). I started making them for quiet bags for the girls, another post for another time perhaps, which is why they are numbered.

My sister can wrap presents beautifully and so neatly whereas if I have a straight forward box, I will do okay. But, give me anything odd shaped and the creases and many strips of tapes are going to finish off a messy package. I like bags because I can have whatever size I want, decorate it with a ribbon or strip of cloth and we are good to go. Cloth bags are great because they are resuable, fold up very small, and can also be multi-purposed. AND, if you do a plain colored one, it becomes seasonal by adding a ribbon or decoration!

You will need:

  • Fabric enough for the size of bag you want
  • Scissors
  • something to measure with (I have my fancy quilters squares which are handy but not essential)
  • Sewing machine or good ol’ needle and thread
  • Iron
  • tweezers or threading tool

How to:

Measure a strip that is double the length that you need and that is the width that you need. Add enough extra to the length that will allow you to turn over the ends and sew them. For these bags, I did a 8" width and a 17" length.

Fold the width ends over and iron a crease. I do about an inch, but there is no rule.

Sew the folds closed. Sew close enough to the raw edge that you allow for a ribbon to slide through (coming up).

Now is a good time to applique a design on if you want (I cut out some numbers for quiet bags here).

Turn the cloth so that the right sides (the part that you want to show) are facing each other and sew both sides closed (I use a 5/8 in seam but still no rules). Turn right side out, cut threads and you have your bag.

If you want to put a ribbon or drawstring, you will make four small cuts on the folded and sewn edge. One on close to and on each side of the seam.

Use tweezers or threading tool and draw your string or ribbon through the slits.

There will be a bit of ribbon showing on the one side.Draw the ribbon all the way through and tie knot if desired to keep it from going back through. You could also slide a ribbon or string through each side and then time them together on both sides.

Finished bags!

instead of a drawstring, I added handles to make a gift/book bag for Cecily's birthday.

Some burlap love; a little gift bag with a simple tree gift tag.

continuing the burlap love with a rustic gingerbread man.































































I am hoping that this tutorial is as simple as it is to make these bags but please let me know if you have any questions.

Cecily is two!


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Our sweet little two year old. (yes we realize that her pj's are backwards, needed measures.)

Her eyes are incredibly alive with life as she gazes out of their blue, blue depths. A slight change in their shape have a way of telling us what is coming next before she moves or speak; a slight upward slant indicates that she is up to mischief in her little mind  or perfect roundness glimmering with tears showing hurt feelings.

She has fully developed in her ability to tease, especially the older sister, and loves to grab and run. But, with heart is too gentle to carry on for long so most often, the next response is to stop and return whatever was taken.She completely knows that others find her funny and so makes sure not to disappoint by saying funny things or clowning around.

Speaking of gentle, Cecily already shows such concern for others. She will do what she can to sooth away any tears that she sees, whether from Aneliese, her little friend Gretta, or even her mama. If given anything, she always wants to share it with “An-Yease” or make certain that she has hers as well. She is also so eager to help and to please. Yet, she seems to be developing a strong sense of justice early on in life in that she holds her ground. Cecily will give up almost anything if asked well but will not allow things to be taken from her. She clearly expects to be treated kindly.

These past two years have flown by with our little Cecily Jane…she lives up to her name by bring music to our lives! We are incredibly blessed by her little presence and I am excited to watch and encourage her as she walks through life; or perhaps rather as she dances.

Some pictures from Cecily’s day:

What is it?


So happy!

seeing how they work.

and then dropping the dust pan on her toe...

Birthday pancake man.

Getting the cake ready...mostly I think it hilarious how serious all three of us look.

Unsure of being sung happy birthday to but joined by a very excited big sister.

Blowing out her candles!

Honey sweetened blueberry lemon cheesecake...mmm.

It was a low key birthday, starting with our tradition of birthday gift at breakfast and a special birthday crown. We had planned an evening of games and music together but then an unexpected needed trip to the “city” (I don’t know if it can really be called a city but that is what Aneliese calls it) saw us getting home in time to have a quick (and free:) pizza at our favorite little Bistro which was Cecily’s request of the day and then home to enjoy blueberry birthday cake in pj’s just before bed. Low key, but fun for all of us.

Carrying on in giving a gift on our birthday, being that Cecily is still a little young, I chose for her one last time by making a donation to Reece’s Rainbow. If you haven’t heard of them; “The mission of Reece’s Rainbow is to rescue orphans with Down syndrome through the gift of adoption, to raise awareness for all of the children who are waiting in 25 countries around the world, and to raise funds as adoption grants that help adoptive families afford the high cost of adopting these beautiful children.My friend Krista is raising money for a specific little boy, Jakob, and so we were able to give a little towards her goal of $1000 by Christmas for him. She is also doing a give-away towards this.

Chickadee Swing Give-away


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As posted on Chickadee Swing’s Facebook Page where you will need to go to enter:

Today is Chickadee Swing’s Second Birthday!! After busily sewing and taking custom orders all winter, I took an extended break while we moved across the country to Nova Scotia. As we slowly get into a rhythm in our life here, I am slowly getting back into sewing and adding items to Chickadee Swing. To celebrate that and our second birthday, I am offering a give-away. I am offering a set of five Barnyard Finger Puppets (inc. shipping).

Barnyard Friends

As this is the beginning of the holiday weekend for those of us in Canada, I am going to keep this giveaway open until Wednesday at 10 ADT (Atlantic) when I will use a random number generator to choose a winner. I am also offering free shipping (North America) on the next five orders/purchases in October.
There are no rules other than one entry per person, but I would so appreciate it if you would let your friends know about the give-away and my little shop via facebook, blogs or whatever social media you use!

In order to keep myself organized, you will need to enter the give-away on Chickadee Swing’s Facebook Page. (Unless you don’t have a facebook account, like me, but would like to be entered, just comment here and I will be sure to include you).

Emily’s Day


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Emily is four today. Four; I could be the mama of a four year old. I hope that she is having a beautiful four year old birthday.

Grief, mourning. They come in so many different forms and are experienced so differently by each of us. I have found that few know how to share the grief of a failed adoption. Most mamas can imagine to some extent the devastation of the loss of a child, many have experienced miscarriage, or know first hand the road of infertility. I too have known the pain of infertility and have cried through the birth of a child not developed enough to safely leave my womb. I am in no way lessening them, just saying that for me, our adoption loss was somehow lonelier. Most just didn’t understand*.

I wish that I could really explain the searing pain at some of the comments we received, such as; “Its so nice that you have one of your own now”. I never responded, usually I couldn’t, but I wanted to fiercely answer, “ She was my own”. “I dreamt of cuddling her in this corner, Want to remember this cozy corner smelling her baby scent.” “That freezer half full of carefully frozen milk represents hours of pumping so that I could breastfeed her.” “Dan spent hours joyfully and thankfully working a job far from any of the things he imagined doing so that we could be approved to bring her home.” “We loved her before we even knew about her.” “She was our own.” Mostly, I just wished that there was some understanding that grieving our loss didn’t mean that we didn’t celebrate the child to be born seven months later.**

The relief and praise I felt when we were told that Emily had be born well and healthy was mingled with pain due to the words that she was at home with a wonderful, loving couple who were thrilled to be parents. I cling to that, trusting that she has a great family that cherishes the gift of her. But, I won’t lie, I wanted to bring her home to our family, to know her as more than “Emily”. I wanted to combine Emily with the name that we had carefully chosen, just as her birth mama wanted.

I know this doesn’t seem very celebratory and is more focused on my process of grieving than the joy of a little girl turning four. I am joyful for her today and I will pray for her many times before the day is done. Yet the reality is that we have few details and these that we do have aren’t meant to be shared.

I wrote this not knowing if I would post it, somewhat just writing to process. But, I know only two other couples who have experienced adoption loss and I have seen the same unspoken grief in their eyes. I also know that we have many friends who plan to someday adopt; it is likely that some of them will experience this as well. You as readers may know someone going through it. Share their grief as best and sensitively as you are able but share it. Keep in mind that even if they, like us, never even got to meet that little one, they have already invested so much of themselves and given so much love. Even the most seemingly awkward sharing of grief is better than ignoring it. I can’t tell you how much healing happened for me when I looked into the eyes of one other person who didn’t “understand” but who held my gaze and let me see the gloss of tears in her eyes for our pain.

It is things like that which allow me, on this day when the birthday banner remains folded, to smile and say, “ Happy Birthday, sweet Emily! We are celebrating your four years too!”

*I want to say that I know for some who read my blog, I know that you were part of our lives then too. In writing this, I am in no way wishing for you to feel guilty or attacked. I wish that we would have known then how to express the loss we were experiencing and been able to better ask others for comfort.

**For those wondering, a brief outline. I was said to be ‘infertile’ even as a teenager. Though advised to take the route of fertility treatments, we knew that we wanted to grow our family through adoption.  In our second year of marriage, we had completed our adoption process and had moved to the waiting for the call. We received it, only to discover that through the process of my work to breastfeed our little one, I had also become pregnant. Aneliese had already been growing inside for some time when Emily was born. Because of the legalities of having two so close in age, we were unable to complete the adoption and bring Emily home.

My Man’s Birthday


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He usually is the first to get up and the one who starts breakfast most mornings. How fitting that as the girls and I talked (well, mostly Aneliese and I) about what we should do for Dada’s birthday, the very first thing that Aneliese thought of was that we should give him breakfast in bed. We had recently read The Berenstain Bears and the Mama’s Day Surprise in which Papa bear and the cubs make breakfast in bed for mama; giving Aneliese the idea. I don’t know if he slept but Dan waited patiently while the girls helped prepare his breakfast. We carried his breakfast of blueberry and cream french toast up with candles and Happy Birthday. We all had breakfast together and manage to keep our bed blueberry free.








Aneliese also knows that one of Daddy’s favorite treats is ice cream and after lunch we went for ice cream together while picking up our new-to-us wood stove.

In our family we don’t always do gifts in wrapped form but we like to celebrate each other by sharing in things that we know the birthday person loves or something that they want to do. Dan’s request this year was a campfire by the ocean. So with our friends Mark and Lola, we finished off the day together by the Bay of Fundy with a fire, visiting, splashing in the cold waters and skipping rocks.

I don’t say these things nearly enough and Dan doesn’t always read my blog, but he is truly an amazing man. He gives quietly and continually. He loves his girls (including me) gently and strongly. His desire is to walk his journey in an upright manner that pleases his Father. I am blessed to call him my love. My daughters are blessed to call him their daddy.

Happy Birthday, dear Husband!

3 years old


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After many, many long hours, she was in my arms. As I held her in those first seconds of her leaving my womb, she gazed at me as if she too had been waiting to see my face.

first moments

And now my beautiful little girl is three years old! She is such a gift and such a blessing to our family. I love seeing her sweet, gentle spirit and watching how her character is developing. And of course she never fails to amaze us with her humor and her quick mind!:)

Three Years Old!

When I asked her what she would like for her birthday day, Aneliese said that she wanted pink cake like Farmer Brown’s birthday  and ice cream.

Learning to play while I make birthday pancakes

We still wanted to get her a small gift and since she loves games, we bought her a handmade wooden memory game.

A few weeks ago Aneliese asked if she could pick out some material for a skirt for both her and Cecily so that they could match. I finally got it made just in time for her birthday so she was happy.

Pansy skirts which decided the last minute “theme” of Pansies! Including a pansy crown with Aneliese’s favorite letter “A”

Aneliese loved the pansies that matched her skirt:). Sure I had to buy a hanging basket and re-pot them but seeing her when she woke from her nap was, well, lovely.

We had some delightful friends over for a birthday supper of burgers, mung bean “buns”, balsamic orange beets, and grilled potatoes/carrots.

These kids have so much fun....and I just love those too boys laughing in the background!

Aneliese was super pleased with her Pink Cake (frosted with beet juice dyed, honey sweetened whip cream frosting) and Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream, although when she first realized that I was making the long awaited ice cream rather than buying it from the store, she burst into tears. One taste and seeing it in an old ice cream container brought the sunshine back again!

Blowing out the candles

a completely naturally sweetened birthday for a sweet girl!

After starting off her day with a daddy/daughter ducky dip at 6:30 am, Aneliese quickly succumbed to sleep after stories and songs; her daddy did too!

I love this sight. Such love and such an incredible father.

One of our birthday traditions is becoming to share a gift with someone else on our birthday. And so this year Aneliese invited (okay I did the inviting:) three of her little friends (& mommies) for a tea party at “Miss Karen’s”. They were all so very sweet and we had a delightful time.

So much fun!

And now after counting down the sleeps and talking about how she will be the same age as her little friend Levi, Aneliese Marie officially is a three year old. I loved making the day special for her while still trying not to go overboard with things. I don’t think that birthdays need to be about presents or big fancy parties (which is why I went back and forth on the tea party), and I don’t really want to send kids home with a sugar high, and yet I really want my kids to know that we celebrate them and that we are so blessed by their birth and life. And so my precious girl, Happy Birthday!

A 1st Birthday Gift


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It is a day for celebrating! Our little girl has no idea really that it is her birthday but her big sister has been enjoying it. Because we are all still recovering from several days of cold/flu, we decided not to have Cecily’s little party until tomorrow, but the banner went up today. And we have already sung Happy Birthday a couple of times with more to come I am sure. Aneliese also feels that Cecily needs her own special crown…we’ll see.

We are also celebrating feeling better. It really hasn’t been anything major, but the girls especially have been feeling pretty miserable and finally seem to be on the mend. Probably helped by the fact that we are more settled again and not dragging them back and forth as we were while moving.

Also celebrating because Aneliese had to have some blood tests done for some potentially challenging things. But, they all came back clear!! For this we are very, very thankful. I can’t really even explain how much.

Anyways, carrying on with our family tradition of giving a gift to another to celebrate another year of life, I am going to do a gift giving on my blog. Eventually, as our girls grow older this will change and they will share a gift with others on their day but since they are still too little, I will enjoy it for them.   I was trying to think of an appropriate gift to celebrate a one year old and couldn’t help but turn back to my sewing;). I also know that most of my readers have small children.  So the gift today is either a little boy’s bow tie or a little girl’s flower head band or hair clip.

So just leave a comment saying which you would like and on Thursday(simply because I won’t get to it before then), Miss Cecily will help me draw a name and then we will send it to you on Monday. Thanks for celebrating with us!

Happy Birthday Sweet Cecily



On this night one year ago, we went to bed early. I was tired and feeling very pregnant but still weeks away from giving birth. Little did I know that shortly after mid-night, we would be making the fastest trip to the city that we had ever taken. A medical team was waiting for us to arrive and began to prep us for the ceasarean birth of our little one. I had dreaded this and yet as we moved to the surgery room, I experienced such peace, such joy. I was surrounded by women, an obstetrician, my midwife, three nurses including one special woman who had come specifically to help with our birth. They commented multiple times on our calmness and excitement. I felt them celebrating with us. Our precious baby girl exited my body to the sound of her daddy’s voice singing. I won’t lie, the pain was not fun. I felt much of what was going on and my head felt like it was going to explode. However, despite the bright hospital lights and the less than natural way that I gave birth, the room seemed to be filled with soft glow. I sensed His presence. As my little girl was placed in my arms, tears flowed and I felt healing and joy. I fell so in love with that tiny, tiny little bundle. Cecily Jane.

She is not so tiny any more. And she still brings so much joy. She and her sister complete our family. A happy smile rarely leaves her face and I am always amazed at how affectionate she is. She loves to explore….everything. So many things seem to find their way into her mouth, that is everything except food. She also enjoys playing and teasing. She gets a mischievous glint in her eyes that is oh so much like her daddy. We also love how much she loves to cuddle. Such big hugs for a little girl (and she is also starting to say “I love you”).

Happy Birthday precious girl, may you continue to spread joy to others and may you be loved for the wonderful gift that you are.

Happy Birthday


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Dear Emily,

Today is your third birthday and you have been on my mind a lot today. I never met you but I waited for you oh so eagerly. I fell in love with you the instant that I heard your story. I longed for this day three years ago, the day that I would hold you in my arms and yet….I know that you are where you should be. I hope that you are growing strong and healthy. That you are loved completely. I know that you are. I hope you have siblings by now and that you are a great big sister. I hope that you have been blessed with all that your birth mama desired for you. Emily, I don’t think that I will ever meet you, but I pray that as you grow and have questions about who you are and where you came from, that there will be no question in your mind that you are beloved and never a mistake. I know that your birth mama loved you so much and I know that she chose a family who loved you. And here is another family who loves you from a distance. There is a place in our hearts especially for you.

Happy Birthday little one.