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July 2009

handmade home giveaway

handmade home

Me: "Mwah ... love you, mailman!"

Me to myself: "Isn't it time for the baby to take a little nap? Yes."

Bounce, bounce, sway, sway, with book in hand ...

Me to myself: "It really isn't easy to bounce and sway while reading a book."

Baby falls asleep. Book gets drooled on. By Mama, not Baby.

handmade home

It's here - my copy of Amanda Soule's Handmade Home! It's beautiful, and reading it makes you feel like you're sitting down with a raspberry tart and a cup of tea while giggling with a friend. Only Amanda is capable of spreading such genuine good spirits with every word. This is much more than a craft book, as expected.

handmade home

I've included some of my favorite projects in this post, but I can honestly say that I'll be making more than just these in the coming months. One bit of ingenuity that I forgot to photograph is the "Treasure Bag," made from a re-purposed vinyl screen; perfect for little ones who collect magical bits of nature while out for a walk in the woods or on the beach. The dirt and sand just fall right through, en route! Brilliant.

handmade home

In its pages, you'll find thrifting tips, thirty sewing and other craft projects, and thoughtful vignettes on family life and sustainable living.

handmade home

This wall pocket really grabbed my attention - I love the use of the branch, and I think it would look wonderful in Finn's room along with his birds. It's the first on my to-make list after we return from our little vacation.

Did I mention that I have two copies of the book sitting here with me? One for me, and one to give away! Leave a comment and I'll draw a winner on Friday, July 31st at 5 p.m. EST.

Good luck!



Here they are - a week's worth of sleepy nursing knitting. Poor baby has to model wool knitwear in summer-in-the-South humidity ... but hey, at least the air conditioning is on!

I used the free pattern from Never Not Knitting and the recommended yarn, Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Yummy stuff. I have plenty left over for several more pairs, and this is such a relaxing, easy project that I won't hesitate to cast on another pair. I'm sure they will come in handy when the weather cools, especially since we'll be practicing elimination communication and will want to have easy access to whip the diaper off. A boy's gotta go when a boy's gotta go, no time for fiddling around with snaps and pants!


Many of you have asked about how EC is going. Here's a quick update:

We love it. After the first week or so it started to feel like second nature. At first, it feels like you spend an inordinate amount of time pottying. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that little babies pee quite frequently - sometimes even every ten minutes, depending on the time of day and if they just nursed, etc. As he's gotten a bit older, Finn's pees seem to have spread out in their frequency - coming about every 30 - 40 minutes or so. After nursing, though, they can still come every 10 minutes. Which is funny - because after nursing, he is so content that lately he's stopped signaling us in a consistent manner - he's too busy charming us with smiles and coos or looking at his beloved ceiling fan to let us know with the (till now) customary fuss. More and more, his signals are becoming so subtle that it's difficult to pick up on them - it could be anything from a slightly wrinkled brow to a leg stretch. In other words, we've been missing more pees in the past week, but Finn doesn't seem to mind (and I don't, either - I would prefer not interrupting his periods of delight and concentration with a trip to the potty.)

He does, however, love his potty. I should say ... he love to charm the dapper young baby in the mirror in front of the potty. Finn thinks this little guy is so hilarious. Plus, they have the same interests - drooling and blowing bubbles.

Number twos are rarely missed. I can't remember the last time he had a dirty diaper during the day, although about once or twice a week he dirties one (without waking up!) during the night. We aren't EC'ing at night, just changing wet diapers when necessary. We tried to potty a few times, but for now he seems to prefer not being disturbed while in a deep sleep. The diaper changes are easy - I keep a stack of prefolds on the bed and I just remove the wet diaper (he wears the sumo belt at night) and replace it with a dry one without even lifting him up. I barely wake up, and he sleeps soundly through the whole process.

We do have an EC challenge right around the corner - we're heading to New York for a family wedding in a little over a week. Do any of you veteran EC'ers have any advice on what works while traveling?

waldorf and montessori

I have nothing but admiration for the Waldorf philosophy of education. I've always been drawn to the gentle hues of the wet-on-wet watercolor paintings, the beautiful ways in which nature and natural elements are the cornerstones of crafting, and the respect with which children are treated under the method.

Two of my favorite bloggers, Uncommon Grace and Are So Happy, have Waldorf-inspired homes, but I really didn't know too much about the specifics of Waldorf until I read this book:

heaven on earth128

Sort of hoaky title aside, Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children has opened my mind to so many new possibilities and ways of creating a family culture. Heaven on Earth gives you a gentle introduction to the Waldorf philosophy and a treasure trove of ideas for implementing it in your home. The appendices alone, with their panoply of resources, are worth the price of the book.

"What?!" you say? I thought you were a Montessorian? Indeed, I am. There are many similarities in the two philosophies, and some key differences. Here's a summary of these from a Montessori point of view, and here's one from a Waldorf point of view. If I could add my two cents I'd say that, while Montessori might work best for one child, Waldorf could be better for another. For example, some children really want to read at age four, and others simply have no interest until much later. (Actually, this is a common misconception of Montessori - that it forces children into academic work at a young age. In fact, it's totally okay for a Montessori child to not read until elementary school. Follow the child is the rule!) Also, I don't believe that the two need to be mutually exclusive. I could easily envision a daily family rhythm that includes Montessori for a few hours in the morning and a fantastic free play time in the afternoon. While I find myself absolutely on board with the majority of Waldorfian thought, my Montessori background and my own personality will lead me to omit fairies, gnomes, etc. in our family's experience of Nature. After reading more about Waldorf, though, I'll venture to say that the gnomes and fairies aren't at the center of the philosophy. It is wonder and awe for the natural world that Waldorf seeks to encourage in the child, and Montessori is totally on board with that. In my own opinion, the world is so full of real wonders that no fairies and gnomes are needed to spark a child's curiosity and creative play. But that's just my personality, and I realize that other families find joy in believing in these magical creatures.

What I find so refreshing about Heaven on Earth are its suggestions for consciously molding a family rhythm and a family culture. A family's daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythms (routine is a less attractive word, isn't it?) are reassuring for the young child. I loved the author's accessible suggestions for creating this rhythm, from making a candle-lit bedtime ritual to having one day a week be "bread-making day" to preparing the home for seasonal festivals. Since reading the book, I've become more aware of creating these daily touchstones for Finn - from taking time every morning for a slow walk along a nearby nature trail to playing the same music at bedtime every night.

And the book's suggestions for creating an outdoor play environment? Oh my. Suffice it to say that, in the last week, we've procured many tree stumps and I'm busy mapping out and designing a child-friendly space in our backyard. Here's a peek at what I have in mind.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on Montessori and Waldorf. Even if Waldorf as an educational philosophy isn't of interest to you, you should read this book if you have little ones - it's really wonderful and the ideas within its covers are useful for all families.

a hat for finny

a hat for finn

I love conductor caps. I mean, LOVE. If I could control what Patrick wore (which I most assuredly don't) he would don a conductor cap and suspenders while he hopped on his rusty bike to hawk radical newspapers to a pre-WWII populace while standing on an overturned milk crate.

So I'll dress my son instead. And he can grow up to sell newspapers for nickels.

This little number is my own design and still needs some fiddling. How does one design a cap to stay on a baby head? This one has elastic in the back, but it still flops off of him. Any ideas that don't involve a chin strap?

a hat for finn

Back to the drawing board!

cake excuse

new emmeline

I'm not sure which came first, the cake or the apron. I've had both in my head for quite a while now, knowing that a big photo shoot was in order for the occasion. And a cake eating session. Oh, was it good. I'm salivating in remembrance.

The photo shoot, the new Emmeline Apron model, and the cake are all a part of a big website refurbishing project in preparation for the release of the book. I'm so excited about it - but I'll have to wait until the visions in my head make their way into HTML format. At least now, after the few days of photo shoots with my brother-in-law and his sweet and oh-so-photogenic girlfriend, I have a concrete taste of what's to come.

But man, photo shoots take a lot out of you when you have a little baby in tow! As soon as my beautiful models left, Patrick took a two hour nap and I picked up my knitting needles for a bit of quiet time, trying to remember that, as hot as it is now, in only a few short months my little babe will most certainly need some of these.

Back to the clickety-clack of the needles, if sleep doesn't overtake me first.

the gobbi mobile

gobbi mobile

Despite the swimming party in the basement, we still managed to have a nice weekend. With the exception of a few cranky hours, Finn could have cared less about the whole ordeal. What a nice consciousness to have ... to be keenly aware of being hungry, tired, happy, fascinated, or having to go to the bathroom ... but to be so unaware of what we adults think is important - arbitrary deadlines, flooded basements, etc. I'm happy that we now have Finn to renew our reverence for simple, immediate needs.

(In case you're wondering why we dress our babe in a sumo-suit, it's for ease of diaper removal while practicing EC. I bought my sumo band here, but you could easily make your own. It's essentially a large, fleece hair scrunchie).

A few weeks back, I changed Finn's mobile (he used to have a black and white whale mobile above his movement mat). Remember when I had an afternoon of felting when I was still pregnant? The resulting felt balls found their way into this Gobbi mobile. From what I understand (not having taken the Montessori Assistants to Infancy training course), this mobile is offered to the baby around 2 months old. It's suspended about 12" above and in front of the child while he is on his back on the movement mat.

Here's how I made mine:

1. Make five felt balls about 2 1/2" in diameter. I used these instructions. Pick roving that is five graded shades of the same color - I chose blue, but I don't think that the color matters. Let them dry completely (this might take a few days).
2. Cut a wooden dowel to 8 1/2" (found at any craft store or large chain sewing stores like Hancock's).
3. Using a hand sewing needle and invisible thread, loop the thread to the top of each ball, knot, and leave about 16" of extra thread.
4. Beginning with the darkest ball, wind the thread around the dowel so that the ball is suspended about 12" below the dowel. Continue hanging the rest of the balls in this way, each ball 1/2" higher than the previous ball.
5. Using 24" of embroidery floss, tie the ends to the edges of the dowel. Adjust the invisible thread so that the balls hang evenly.
6. Tie another length of embroidery floss to the middle of the 24" length and suspend from the mobile hanger or ceiling hook.
7. Place baby underneath and watch his limbs flail in excitement!

**********Oh, and have you checked out my friend Karla's Montessori materials Etsy store? Karla and I took our Montessori training together and she is currently teaching in a Montessori pilot program in a public school in San Francisco. Her work is beautiful - I especially love her Days and Months Accordion Books. **********

mama indulgence :: slow stitches

alabama stitch book skirt

It's been one of those days.

I could tell you about the ruptured washing machine hose and the subsequent flooding of the entire basement. I could tell you about running out of ink while printing postage for the patterns to be shipped, or perhaps the baby who is having a bum day. But then I'd have to mention that things like this only seem to happen when my loving husband is out of town.

Instead, I should mention that Finn's Mima is here, enjoying every single moment, fussy and angelic, with her grandson. Mima, Mama and Finn get to sleep in the same bed tonight because the bed in the basement guest room is soaked. Plus, there's a wonderfully nice plumber down there right now who is vacuuming up all the water.

And, I got word that the most wonderful felt forest is on its way.

Did I mention that, despite everything (and, perhaps, because of it) I'm going to prioritize a few "slow breating" projects for the rest of the day? This one is the hand-sewn jersey skirt from the Alabama Stitch Book.

Breathe in, breathe out ... here's to a different weekend than I had envisioned!

sneak peek

tunic in nani iro double gauze

It's shaping up to be a busy week. It started with a Sunday morning sewing session to create these tunics for two special girls in Mexico - a four year-old and an eight year-old. Our friends from south of the border are visiting the US and will be meeting up with Patrick who is doing some archival research in Washington, D.C.

Shirts like these, in Nani Iro double gauze cotton, just shouldn't be sent directly to rural Mexico via customs and the Mexican postal service. Hand-delivery is in order!

tunic in nani iro double gauze

And yes, in case you were wondering, I'm working on a pattern for this tunic as part of the Sew Liberated Autumn Collection. (Which sounds all fancy, but really, it's just three patterns, maybe two ... depending on how much I feel comfortable doing with the babe in arms!) It will come with a twirly skirt. The other pattern (sneak peek later) is a unisex boys/girls shirt, shorts and pants.

My Mom is here for the week while Patrick is away, and we're picking Great Auntie Pat (and she is one great Aunt!) from the airport this afternoon. I'll stop by in this space when (or if!) I have the chance!