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October 2009

autumn it is

toes and leaves20091030

Somehow, life got in the way of Halloween costumes. He's too little to come up with his own, and he's also too little to like wearing something that's not a cozy knit.

toes and leaves20091030_1

But, his Papa will be proud to know that Finn is a golfer this year for Halloween. What do you think?  Will a little hat do the deed?

acorn and thimble20091030

This little acorn sprite thinks so.

acorn and thimble20091030_1

May your Halloween celebrations be memorable!


I heard you loud and clear - I'll be back here on Monday with my Meal Calendar recipes! Design Fridays will resume (hopefully) next week, once a few other deadlines are met.

meal calendar

Some of you must think I'm a clean freak. Yes, I have a somewhat tidy house, and yes, I like planning ahead. My own mom is a housekeeper extraordinaire, and my grandma has the cleanest house in the entire world, but the clean genes have gotten seriously diluted by my generation, I tell you. There's not much left to pass on to Finn. While having a clean house is a priority for me, other things are not. For example:

  • daily showers.
  • folding laundry and ironing.
  • keeping my front yard presentable.
  • having a clean car.

Motherhood has left me looking rather greasy and wrinkly, but one thing it's made me more on top of is cooking. For a while there we were struggling with the "What are we having for dinner?" question bomb at the end of each day. Eeek. Pasta? Again?? I dunno.

meal calendar

Between the two of us, we do love cooking and baking - on our own terms. Which meant that sometimes we cooked and sometimes we didn't. When one or the other of us was busy, cooking was the first luxury to cross off the list, after the shower. (Eeew, you're thinking, these people are gross.) Not cooking is a real bummer, however, especially if you're like us and enjoy eating good food.

Enter our meal calendar. After having my mom visit several times and whip up some quick, gourmet meals, I was inspired. In order for a recipe to get a spot on the seasonal meal calendar, it had to be a bit fancy yet deceivingly simple, and quick to make. As in "Gosh, I can do this while tending to a potentially fussy baby over a span of 30 minutes and still feel like I'm eating really, really well." 

meal calendar

The calendar is flexible - we cook five days a week and eat leftovers for lunch. This gives us the option of using the other two days to go out to eat or to cook an extravagant meal, something that we enjoy doing when we have no pressing deadlines.

I wrote up the calendar, doodled on it in an unintentional amoeba-from-the-sixties way, and laminated it for the front of the fridge. I've been at this for several weeks now, and wow, what a difference it's made in the quality of our lives. Grocery shopping happens once a week, less money is being spent due to the planning, and we feel better. Healthier. More relaxed. All that because of this psychedelic meal plan. 

book sling for little ones

book sling for little ones

In the getting-ready-of-the-house-for-a-moving-baby, we put up a book sling in our living room. Low on the wall, this sling is perfect for displaying three to four books, covers facing out, for the infant and young child. Once Finn can reach up and choose a book on his own, I'll switch out the more fragile paper books for a rotating set of wooden and board books, which he can manipulate (and masticate) as much as he pleases.

book sling for little ones

My sling was made by the talented Megan of Penny Carnival. If you're interested in making your own, she has a great tutorial available here.

book sling for little ones

The tiny chair is from Michael Olaf. Our current favorite book is Alison's Zinnia - have you seen it? It's beautifully illustrated and quite handy for learning the names of flowers. It was recommended in my Montessori training as a must-have classroom classic.

book sling for little ones

And look who I found when I looked out the window! Two cute boys enjoying an Autumn morning together.

playing outside

it's the little things

montessori baby room for crawling infant20091020_1

When you walk into my house you'll notice a few things. Little things. Child-sized shelving, an area rug with pillows instead of a dining room table, a book sling attached to the wall at baby-height, and a twin-sized floor bed alongside a cushy rug. 

It's all in preparation for the day, someday soon, when Finn will be able to move himself around the house on his own. Patrick and I have been working diligently - a little here, a little there - trying to get it all done before The Day arrives.

montessori baby room for crawling infant20091020

Notice Finn's "Changing Chipmunk." I suspect he thinks it's some kind of kitty ... but this kitty lets him put his mouth ALL over it - pure bliss, if you're five months old.

One thing we've done is re-vamp Finn's room, changing a few key things to transition the space from a nursing/movement area to a friendly place for a scooting/crawling baby. Since we finally got an area rug in our living space, we no longer needed the movement mat per se - so we took his changing area set-up from our room and are now using the old movement mat for a floor changing area in his room. I knew it was time to move the changing area to the floor because Finn was starting to be quite acrobatic in his movements - best to be on the floor while practicing such moves, and not on top of a dresser!

We got rid of his first floor bed, a crib-sized annoyingly springy mattress, and got him a twin-sized Sultan Florvag. Big improvement. He's now able to nap on his floor bed (although he still prefers the Moby!) and I can lay down with him and catch a nap, too. Since getting the new mattress, Finn is going to sleep in his room at night. We still co-sleep after about 10 p.m., as he wakes briefly to feed around then, but this set-up seems to be working well.

There are still a lot of pesky details to be taken care of: finding a place for the books not currently in rotation (we keep out four books at any given time), covering outlets, finding a daytime spot for his bedtime beeswax candle, etc.

a nap on the floor bed

Sigh. It seems like he was born just yesterday. However, I must admit that this growing up is fun. Maybe I'm just crazy, but I can't wait for him to start moving. The cats, I'm sure, will not be so thrilled.

design fridays :: the me dummy

dress form - pre-fitting

Here she is! I feel as though she should have a name. Headless Hortense? No-noggin Nina?

dress form - pre-fitting

Torpedo Teresa? Please leave any suggestions in the comments below. The funniest dress form name (judged by myself and Patrick) wins a Schoolhouse Tunic pattern. I'll draw a winner tomorrow (Saturday) morning. Also, be sure to check out SouleMama on Saturday, as I'll be hosting a pattern giveaway (and a special SouleMama reader discount, too!)

So yes, I now have a squish-able, pin-able, alter-able, drape-able lady in my studio. Looking at her makes me want to recite this poem, which has always been one of my favorites. I have yet to fit my cover to myself and slip it over the form (the cover is hanging behind the form in the first photo) but I hope to do that soon, with the help of a friend.

I went with the Uniquely You after some consultations with my sewing friends and elders, with the idea that I can also use it to try out draping, which is of immense interest to me as well. Many of you suggested that I try making a duct tape dress form (thanks for the link, Aileen!), and I have, back when I was living in Mexico. Perhaps I'm just not adept with duct tape, but my form was ill-fitted, flat busted (not me), and really prone to collapsing, even when I stuffed it with packing material. That said, a duct tape form is a really great way to make a cheap dress form in a pinch.


And here's the fabric, which just arrived. I'm going to make the first skirt pattern in the black hemp/twill. Onward I march, through the baby drool on the floor, to make a basic black skirt. No better way to spend a Friday afternoon!

**********************************DRUM ROLL PLEASE***********************************

What a hard choice! Your dress form names are simply hilarious! I went with a name that didn't reference the Torpedos, given that, once I fit my cover to my actual body, they won't be nearly so Torpedo-y! The dress form's name, from Samantha, is: Acephalous Agnes! We'll call her Aggie for short. Perhaps this reflects upon my odd sense of humor, but hey - a headless, foam lady could use some heady humor.


The newest issue of Stitch is hot off the press ...

stitch blanket

... and a few of my creations are a part of it! The Wool Wonderland Scarf and Baby Quilt/Play Mat were actually projects that were shifted from my book onto the pages of Stitch due to some space constraints. I was so happy to see these well-loved projects show up in such a mouthwatering magazine.

stitch scarf

stitch book
A little book love

Stitch is like a sewing book - 37 projects? This thing could keep my machine humming for quite a while. The project on the top of my list, however, is a Moroccan Pouf, an ottoman/cushion/soft coffee table that will be just the thing to put in my living room once the boy-ster starts a-movin'.

stitch scarf

The scarf (which I'm wearing right now) is one of my all-time favorite sews. It's such a cinch to put together - just a rectangle of wide-wale corduroy and a wool plaid - and the ruched flowers technique is easy to get the hang of and becomes addictive (kind of like making yo-yos). I think several people on my holiday gift list might be getting scarves this year.

stitch baby quilt

And the baby quilt/play mat ... oh, this is so nice, thanks to the softest wool flannel backing and velveteen binding. It's covering Finny as I type this (who is fast asleep on his new floor bed - more on that next week) and man, I want one for me.

stitch baby quilt

In the magazine, they don't show the simple quilting detail on the back, which I like just as much (if not more) than the front.

stitch blanket

Yes, this little quilt will be getting lots of use!

treasure basket

treasure basket

Finnian has found the pot of gold at the end of his rainbow ... a basket of household items of various textures, weights, temperatures and shapes for his exploration.

treasure basket

This is an idea I gleaned from How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way - a handy introduction to Montessori parenting that has been on my shelf for a few years now.

treasure basket

The treasure basket currently holds: a salad spoon, a wooden spoon, a metal egg separator, a ball of wool yarn, a scrap of cotton flannel, a Russian nesting doll, a small fabric bag, a spice jar with sesame seeds, a wooden egg, a thick glass vase, a kukui nut necklace, a wooden scrub brush, and a felted wool ball.

Finn will sit in front of this basket for almost forty minutes, taking things in and out, touching them with his hands and feet, and putting them in his mouth. At times, I will remove the items that he has taken out and hasn't touched in a while, to keep the visual clutter to a minimum.

The treasure basket has worked its way into our morning routine. After waking, going to the bathroom and changing into clothes, Finn sits with his basket as we listen to some quiet piano music. Then - we're off on our morning walk to greet all of the kitties in the neighborhood.

Mornings with the babe are my favorite time of the day, even though they tend to start a little earlier than I might have chosen. They are so peaceful - so quiet - I can even hear the click, click of his two new teeth on the objects he is exploring with his mouth!

the picnic (& the potty) with mima and papa

When my Mom and Dad were here visiting last week, we took to the park with a blanket, lunch, a little green potty and a cute little babe for an Autumn experience a la North Carolina. Donning short sleeves and sandals, we took in the warm breeze and gently colored leaves.

picnic and ec with mima and papa

picnic and ec with mima and papa

picnic and ec with mima and papa

picnic and ec with mima and papa

picnic and ec with mima and papa

picnic and ec with mima and papa
When days like this one grace you with their presence, you drop everything and go outside. May your weekend be warm, if only figuratively!

design fridays :: measuring up

measuring up

It was really hard not to suck in my belly to where I thought it just might be in two months, but I succeeded in letting it pouf out in its full glory! 

Taking measurements is a time-consuming process. You aren't just taking the standard bust/waist/hip measurements - you are taking nearly 30 different numbers, which is why (I hope) my hand-sewn clothes will come out fitting more precisely than the store-bought variety. I couldn't have done it without a bit of help - thankfully my parents were here visiting and my Mom, an accomplished seamstress in her own right, was here to tie me up in measuring tape.

measuring up

Some of the measurements are specific to the type of clothing you will be making - for example, Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified has you estimate the sweep of a skirt when taking measurements to draw up a specific skirt pattern. A skirt's sweep (think about doing the hula hoop around your knees - the sweep is the amount of circular space you have around your legs) needs to be large enough so you can move, but it can be narrower the higher you move the hem line up your legs. A mini skirt can be tight, but if you have a mini-skirt sweep on a tea-length skirt, you'd do better rolling along the ground to get from point A to point B.

I went ahead and took all of my body-specific measurements now, and I'll re-think the garment-specific estimated measurements once I start work on each project.

The fabric is arriving any day now - and I have to decide if I'm finally going to break down and buy myself a dress form. I've been using myself as a dummy, so to speak, and I honestly feel like a dummy when I poke myself for the umpteenth time with a pin. I'm considering getting a Uniquely You dress form - do any of you have any experience with it? It appeals to me because I'll be able to mold it to my own body shape and I can adjust the shape if my body shape fluctuates. Plus, I would be able to easily pin fabric directly onto the form. What do you think?

Have a good weekend!