Advice from a Singer Manual

I write a lot on my blog about sewing.

I promise I’m going to write more about the fun new party packages I have been listing on Etsy, but alas, this is about sewing as well.

I’m very fortunate to have a multigenerational family who loves to sew. My grandmother is a sewer. Her sisters.  My aunts and now many of my cousins… we all love to sew.

My cousins Barb posted this picture of a saying from Singer Manual.


It’s quite humorous. A lot outdated, and I decided we needed to have an update version to all hanging our sewing room. So without further ado, here is a printable

Advice from Singer


Come What May

So I disappeared there for a while, but I’m back now.

Last August I wrote about how B and I were finally open to the idea of a second child. I had made finally made peace with the last pregnancy and was overjoyed at the prospect of mommyhood round two.

Yep, we are expecting again.

This pregnancy is different from my last go around. Yes, I am experiencing morning sickness but the weight loss hasn’t been as dramatic, no IVs, and for that I am thankful.

But, with this pregnancy, we are facing another challenge, the potential that the baby might have unforeseen medical issues. Since doctors already knew I was a high risk patient, we had a very thorough sonogram at the hospital and there, the technician caught something. In a “normal pregnancy,” the baby’s umbilical chord has two veins and one artery, but we were told that our baby’s umbilical chord only has one vein and one artery. It doesn’t mean that there will be issues, but doctors were sure to lay out a plethora of “could be/worst case scenarios ” that had me more than a little freaked out.

Come What May

The bottom line is, we don’t know. We don’t know how this will effect the baby’s development, but we are praying for positive results in that upcoming fetal echocardiogram and for his/her heart and kidney development when we do a follow-up sonogram in a little over three weeks.

Wonky Nine Patch Quilt

At any given time I have about five projects going at once, which is a good thing, because I need to finish five projects in time for Christmas.

The newest quilt I’m working on is my take on Oh, Franssons!’s wonky nine patch block. I absolutely love her tutorial. It’s so fun and so simple.

I’m cutting into my Briar Rose fabric.

Read More →

An Easy Baby Quilt: 2 Charm Packs

For those mama’s out there intimidated by quilting, I’m here to tell you, “You can do it.”

Now granted, when I started quilting it was a little bit of an investment because I went out and bought the rotary cutter, the cutting mat, the thread, fabric and other misc. items that were “essential” for me to start quilting. But realize, you can put a quilt together with precut charm packs. They typically run for about $9 – $12, but you can typically find sales on charm packs at Fat Quarter Shop or keep an eye out for Missouri Star Quilt Company’s Daily Deals.I’ve found charm packs for as low as $3!

Here’s a little baby quilt top I whipped up for one of my friends using two charm packs: Moda Simply Color and white. If you,notice it’s my take on a rainbow… for her rainbow baby.

Now there are many other quilters out there that could have whipped up a fancier top quilt, but if you want to avoid cutting, this is a nice beginner project.

Moda Simply Color Charm Quilt

Each charm pack comes with (42) 5″ squares. The finished size of the baby quilt 8 x 9 is roughly 36″ by 40″.

There really is no limit on what you can come up with. Here are couple of ways you could use the two charm packs to come up with a design.

Charm Pack Opt

Dr. Seuss Themed Paper Cut Designs

I love Dr. Seuss.

Maybe it’s the fun rhymes, cute pictures, or the fact that when I think of my childhood, I remember Dr. Seuss.

I distinctly remember learning to read the book “Go, Dog Go,” and how proud I was of this accomplishment.

Because I love Dr. Seuss so much, I have started decorating Little B’s reading nook with all things Dr. Seuss. I can’t wait to show you the new quilt I’m working on.

I’m  also, slowly but surely, adding some new paper cut designs to my Etsy shop Paperie Things.

Check it out:

I absolutely love this quote. I think it’s perfect for a little kid’s reading area or play room.

I designed this after Little B’s birthday, but I could have seen me wrapping this around his cake or displayed on his party table. Oh well, there’s alway next year.

Perhaps the best quote from the book. The cutout is the same as the first, but it’s fun to show how different it can look with a different background and quote. You could literally add your favorite quote to any of these paper cuts.

And just for good measure, here’s a cutout from Green Eggs and Ham.  How cute? I could picture a kids name in the car or a birthday wish above.

These are too much fun!

What about you? What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book or quote.

What do I do with my hands?

I work in the most powerful city in the world, often referred to as the unofficial Capitol of the world. I’ve rubbed elbows with some of DC’s most powerful men and women, but while most up and comers would relish the chance to meet these people, I dread it. You see, I probably will never make Politico’s most powerful list, but if they decided to do one for the most awkward person in the beltway… I’d be a shoe in quite literally (Because I once got my sandal sucked into the escalator at the downtown Macy’s.)

I have plenty of stories, all of which sound like very tall-tales unless you actually witness one of my, let’s call them, incidents. For the sake of my pride, and sparing any powerful person I’ve tripped over, spilled on, or accidentally groped, I’ll illustrate my level of “awkward” and with two stories from college. I dislocated my shoulder in college while running cross country. Get this, I tripped…on flat ground. A year later, I broke my foot by stepping off a wet sidewalk. Here’s the kicker. I didn’t break it until I got up from falling and fell again. Yeah. I’m that kind of clumsy.

Thankfully I went to an event earlier this week and didn’t have anything major happen and I was in heals no less. Chalking the night up to success, I thought to myself, “finally, I wasn’t the slightest bit awkward,” that was until I saw my “photo shoot.” My coworkers and I got the opportunity to snap some pictures with the Capitol as the backdrop. I essentially pulled a Ricky Bobby.


Thank goodness I don’t take myself too seriously.


KU Themed Nursery

B and I never really got around to decorating little man’s room.

I’ll be honest, partly because we didn’t really have the time, limited resources and also because we couldn’t settle on a theme. I feel guilty because little man has been living with the same purple curtains that were up in the room when we moved in. And the adorable pink curtain rod.

I’ve decided that by the end of September we’ll have his room decorated.

I don’t know if it’s homesickness or what, but I’m planning on doing a Kansas University/sports themed room. Keep in mind neither my husband nor I went to KU but we’re avid fans.

Here’s the inspiration board for the room:

KU Themed Nursery-01

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

I’m going to be pretty sparse with the budget.

I’m going to try to not spend any more than fifty dollars and just use what I have on hand. I should confess, that I already have the supplies for the baby quilt so that’s not included in this total. But I’m going to try to repurpose things that I have on hand.

I’ll keep you updated.

By the way, if anyone is a KU Fan you can get your very own Jayhawk cut out at my Etsy shop.

Jayhawk Cut Out


Intergenerational Self: What the heck does that mean?

I love history, especially the history of my family. I read a column back in March that ran in the New York Times that really stuck with me. If you have time to read it, it’s worth the time. If not, the basic premise for the article was that people who know where they came from, ie. their family history, tend to do better in the face of challenges.

I totally agree.

While my family’s, the Prahm family (pronounced Prame not prom), roots here in the United States don’t go back to the Mayflower, we do have a full and rich history. I have a pretty good grasp of my great grandmother’s family. I know about how my great grandparents met, when they were married and the struggles they had. I know about my grandmother and her ten siblings. I know about my grandfather and how his father died of tetanus. My grandmother and grandfather’s struggles during the 1980s recession, how things were bad and got worse and how they eventually lost their business. I know about my mother and father and how they got engaged without even dating (longer story for another day), and how they spent their honeymoon in the back of a station wagon because they couldn’t afford a hotel. They used the towels they got for wedding presents as their sheets.

The point is, if you know your family narrative, you know the people who went before you, you know about their struggles and hopefully you know that their story turned out okay.

I remember calling my grandmother  so overwhelmed with my son one day I thought I was going to cry. I asked my grandmother, mother of seven, how the heck did she find time for everything. I knew the stories from my aunt and uncles, how she was alway their to do the mending, the baking, everything. I listened as she explained she just did what needed to be done and had her routine. For example, she did the wash on Monday and baked the bread. Swept and mopped Tuesday and did the ironing and so on. But she also told me, she didn’t know how her grandchildren ie. me did as much as I did. Working and being a mother.

Talk about perspective.

What I found most fascinating is that one of the studies cited in the article said that children who had the most self confidence had a strong “intergenerational self.” They know they are part of a family and they belong to something bigger than themselves. They know about the successes and struggles, and instead of dwelling on the downside, they just “dd a new chapter to their life story that shows them overcoming the hardship.”

Something to think about….


Which leads me to my next project. I decided that I want to design two crests. One for the larger Prahm family (for a family reunion May 2014) and one for my immediate family. The first oneI am working on is for my family. Here is my rough sketch.

Designing a Family Crest Draft

Obviously I am still in the brainstorming session. Words I think about when I think about my family is construction, bridges, crane, tomatoes, gardening, earth, soil, Kansas, Minnesota, faith, bible, music, bonfire, guitar, singing, barn wood, books, Longitude, Gettysburg, … Now while these may just be a list of words to the untrained eye, but is my past and present.

My father was a crane operator and built bridges and houses all his life. When we were really little and poor he worked out that he could cultivate some of the land where he parked his crane, so we grew everything from raspberries and strawberries to endless rows of tomatoes. I can still picture driving down that old dirt road in my head. On the weekends, to earn extra money my dad would take down old barns sometimes for money, other times for the scrap wood that he would turn around and sell. It was a family affair. We’d spend our mornings exploring and appreciating 200 year old structures before we tore them down in the afternoon. Boom up, cable down…getting to operate the crane will forever be seared in my memory.

My parents read us the Bible to encourage our spiritual development and books to challenge are thinking. When we were teenagers and into adulthood my brother and friends and family would gather around the bonfire and sing Dave Matthews songs… Van Morrison, lyrics that spoke to the soul. Warm summer night, home-brewed beer and the smell of burnt wood are what dreams are made of.

This crest is about coming up with something for my son and my nieces and future little ones to look to something tangible, something that says, this is what our family is about. No it’s not a traditional crest. I doubt I’ll put any lion on there or coat of arms, but I may add a Seabee symbol to pay homage to my dad’s military service. I want them to be able to look at the crest and be proud of where they came from… maybe even add something to it.

I’m excited to see the list my brother and sister come up with and excited about what the final piece will look like. I’ve already gotten comments from my mom and sister-in-law. I supposed we’ll need to add something Irish to it. My brother and sister are considering getting a tattoo of this.. eek, a lot of pressure. I’m not sure that I can handle a needle, but I’m coming up with some fun ways to display this. I can’t wait to share the final product.

How about you? Anyone considering doing a family crest or perhaps writing some stories down to strengthen your intergenerational self?

I’m on Etsy…

I know, it’s been a little over a month since I took the plunge and launched my Etsy shop, but I thought I’d finally make an official announcement.

My name is Alana and I’m on Etsy.

There, it’s out there. I have been trying to fine time to upload my designs over the past month and I’ve finally got a good selection.

I chose to call my shop PaperieThings, because, well, I love all things paper, but hopefully I’ll be able to stock it with some quilts or other projects as I get things completed.

My favorite section is my paper cut designs. I have a lot of really neat projects in the works– I just have to find time to photograph them. Here are a couple of my favorites thus far. Of course I used Kansas State and Kansas University for inspiration. Sorry in advanced to any Mizzou fans.

I’ve also been working on some Dr. Seuss themed designs. Like this one.

How fun is that? It would be perfect to display between two pieces of glass in any kid’s room or nursery.

I also listed a couple invitations I’ve done in the past.

Like this fun gender reveal party pack.

I’m in the process on expanding this section with some other creations… But there’s more items to be listed.

If you get a chance, I’d love it if you looked around PaperieThings. I’m adding things every week and I’m sure you’ll see something you’ve just got to have.

You can connect with me directly through the Etsy site or at print.mcwilliams[at] to request a custom design and quote.

Hold On: How to Get Through It

I have been absent for awhile. As you may know from my previous posts, my family has been dealing with a lot. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. But it seems like a lot of people we know are dealing with their own struggles and I am reminded, that no matter what we are holding fast to each other.

Here’s my guide to how to make the best of a bad situation.

Laugh early and laugh often.

We’ve been through a lot in our four year’s of marriage, but I don’t think we could have gotten through any of the tough times without laughter. Laughing at ourselves and with each other is sometimes the only way to keep other more destructive emotions at bay.

Isn’t my hubby cute… here he is making me laugh with a Styrofoam cup. What can I say? I’m impartial to improv.
IMG_0694 copy

Find the Silver Lining

B and I go on a date, just the two of us, every other month at best. Mainly because we don’t have family around and getting a sitter can be quite the expense. When we spent the day at the hospital getting tests done, B and I relished the fact that we got some alone time. No, it wasn’t your typical date night, but we made the best of it.

Be thankful and sing your praises.

If anything, I think this situation has made us both vocalize ‘thank you’ to each other more often. Just in general, adopting a thankful attitude in the face of an obstacle is must-do. That ways you are focused on all the aspects of your life which are a blessing. Don’t let whatever it is that you are going through steal your joy and rob you of your peace.

Kiss each other like you mean it.

This is probably just a good thing to do for your spouse at least once a day. If you’re married and have a kid, you might want to do it twice a day. I make it my goal to kiss my husband like I mean it everyday. He means the world to me, and I want him to know it.

Fight with each other.

No, not each other… with each other. You and your spouse are teammates and best allies. Get on the same page, quickly, and stay there. This one was not as easy for me as the other items on my list, but it was probably the most important. I needed to get on the same page with B because disagreeing only added stress to the situation.

Listen to this song….
It’s so good.