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May 2010

April 2010

my problem is that i don't wear lipstick when i sew


Or the fear that someone will knock on my door and see me in my pajamas! At least the dishes are clean. I should be able to get a few straight seams sewed with the dishes clean. Right? And, may I ask ... since when was making the bed an urgent housekeeping chore? I'm sure the Singer Sewing Manual for 2010 has been updated for the times, saying something like: "Be sure that there isn't any food stuck to your sewing machine from last night's snack. While you're at it, make sure that you're cutting with your fabric shears, not your kitchen shears. It's okay to sew in pajamas, but it would be funny if you put on some bright red lipstick along with your pj's. That way, if the UPS man delivers a package of fabric to your door, he'll think you're crazy, and everyone will have a good laugh."

Now, If only I owned lipstick ...

biking to pick up a little bite of heaven

yay! bike ride

Yesterday marked the first week of our 20-week CSA share! A four block bike ride is all that's between us and some organic yumminess, and Finn seems to know it.

the prince in his chariot with finger food

He adores bike rides, and it's a fantastic workout for me, pulling the prince along while he munches on finger foods. We're so happy that he likes being in his trailer, as we prefer riding to driving, and live in a very bike-able area. Plus, Finn still doesn't adore his car seat (although he's more tolerant of it than he used to be). It provides us with the impetus to get around on two wheels instead of four. (For other biking families - we love our trailer, which we were able to purchase with the help of our REI member dividend. It's a Chariot.)

CSA share box

And here's the box - stuffed full of spinach, greens, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, and - most importantly, strawberries.

With the beginning of our CSA share season comes a shift in my meal planning. Instead of fixed set of meals that we rely on during the winter season, I'm starting to plan my meals around what's in the box. I find that I rely heavily on Mollie Katzen's The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without, which has a very handy index and a panoply of dishes for a large variety of veggies. Tonight we're having Asparagus Crepes with Mushroom Sauce. Oh, Spring, I love you.

big kahuna

But I digress. Let's get to the red, juicy meat of this post. The strawberry.

berry boy

Straight up for the babe, covered in dark chocolate for the parents.

chocolate covered strawberries

Because, hey, I did tow him around town with sheer muscle force. He can have the plain berry. I'm taking mine with chocolate, thankyouverymuch! 

Check out LocalHarvest to find a CSA near you!

spring outfit

new spring outfit

After all of my daydreaming about how to kick-off my newfound sewing freedom, I forgot that my son was still wearing fleece-lined pants and long-sleeved shirts in late April, which is totally inappropriate for the climate here in North Carolina. Sure, the fleece-lined pants are cute, but it's time to bite the bullet and pack them away for future siblings. Yet another sentimental moment in motherhood - there are so, so many, aren't there? 

So yesterday, I made Finn some soft denim knickers - a shortened and unlined version of my bubble pants pattern, and a simple appliquéd envelope tee made from a recycled men's t-shirt. (Both the pants and this envelope shirt pattern will be in my next book, by the way!) Many more warm-weather little boy outfits are in the works - a full wardrobe using only patterns and stash fabric that I have on hand, to save some money.

new spring outfit

I made this t-shirt pretty long, so that it fits him for a good while (sparing me the sad twinge that comes with packing away baby clothes). The appliquéd patch on the front is from a precious piece of Japanese cotton/linen blend that I used to make this Oliver & S Playsuit for Finn to wear as a newborn. It fit for all of five weeks before the little butterball grew out of it.

new spring outfit

But boy, is it difficult to get a nice photo of the front of his outfit when he's always standing right in front of something, or crawling to the next thing to stand in front of. It's not difficult to get a cute picture of his smooch-able face, mind you, but I'm talking pure, utilitarian, finished-object sewing photos. Oh well - soon enough, he'll be motoring around on his own two feet without support, and I'll be wistful for the crawling days!

new spring outfit

new spring outfit


in pursuit of Nature, small-style

april at duke gardens

For adults, Nature is big. Mountain big. Ocean big. It's an adventure one has to seek out - a remote hiking trail, a backpacking weekend, an event that requires a lot of planning, and perhaps a lot of gear. I've gotten hung up on this before - immobilized by the immensity of the task of getting out into Nature. When I let this happen, I forget that, for children especially, Nature is small. It's personal, intimate - a caterpillar crawling along a blade of grass, a ladybug that perches on your shoulder, the feeling of mud squishing between your toes. "Small Nature" is always accessible, anywhere. And it's this kind of familiar, day-to-day contact with Nature that makes a big impact on little people.

We've been talking about pitching our tent in our backyard and trying to sleep outside with Finn. We're also in the midst of creating a nature playscape that we hope to have finished by his first birthday (in less a month - hard to believe!) Today, I though I'd share with you some of my favorite resources for bringing children into contact with Nature.

april at duke gardens

An excellent (and free) jumping-off point is Green Hearts' Parents' Guide to Nature Play . The booklet explains the many developmental benefits of nature play and gives parents some concrete ideas. I also found Green Hearts' 25 Easy Nature Play Ideas For Preschool Yards to be a great resource for setting up our own backyard.

As far as books go, I can highly recommend Nature's Playground: Activities, Crafts, and Games to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors and Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature .

Nature's Playground is a phenomenal resource, as it provides so many ideas and activities to jump start the entire family's interest in (and enjoyment of) nature. I'd say that it's geared toward families with children preschool-aged and above, and most of the activities appeal to a broad age range of children, making it perfect choice for families.

I love that the book is organized by the four seasons - each seasonal chapter provides a wealth of ideas and tips pertinent to that particular season. The one downside of the book (for those of us in the US) is that it is published out of the UK, meaning that some of the plants and insects referenced aren't available for observation. That said, I think that, no matter your geography or climate, the book should be useful (with the exception of the Winter chapter for those living in, say, Florida.)

Coyote's Guide provides a depth and breadth to nature play/education that you won't find in Nature's Playground. My copy is dog-eared and full of highlighted passages because I think it's so awesome. Coyote's Guide is all about how to become a nature mentor for children, and it will have you wanting to become an amateur naturalist yourself (they do offer a training program, if you're interested - I've actually been thinking about doing this with Finn, once he's six or seven.) If you're a homeschooling family, you'll want to pick it up for sure!

If you have favorite resources for nature play/nature education, please feel free to share them in the comments for all to read.

Happy weekending!


new pattern sneak peek

I couldn't think of a title, so I did what most parents of babies and toddlers would do - I looked at the animal and I said the sound it makes. What? You don't do that, too? Forgive me. My brain has turned into a mush of animal sounds.

The photo is a little sneaky peek at the dress version of my new pattern (there's also a blouse option), which should be available by the end of May. This sample was made with Liberty of London's Tana Lawn, which I found at New York City-based B and J Fabrics. And, get this - not only do they have an out-of-this-world selection of Liberty's soft and drapey cotton lawn, they also have Liberty prints in corduroy, jersey knit, and twill! What planet have I been on - I had no clue that Liberty printed on anything other than cotton lawn. So, next time you want to refinance the mortgage on your house to buy fabric, get some Liberty of London. It's incredible stuff.

I've been thinking about possible sewing-for-fun projects. Here are a few that have caught my eye:

  • Blair's quilt - do I dare tackle something this large right off the bat? Or should I start with something small, like
  • this Jalie pattern, or this one. Both of my boys need summer clothing, and I've never sewn anything for Patrick, in the nine years we've been dating/married. Isn't that sad? There's such a dearth of sewing patterns for men. To be fair, I did knit him a scarf once. Oh, and a hat. Two for Patrick, 7,563 for me/baby/house.
  • Speaking of Jalie patterns, I'd love to try my hand at sewing my own undergarments. I'm not the first one who has done it!
  • My review copy of Anna Maria's new book just arrived! It's really, really lovely.
I suppose I have to start somewhere. I'm about ready to write all of the ideas on little pieces of paper and throw them into a hat.

a clean slate :: studio tour take two

studio tour redux

Well, hello there! This here's my studio - the place where I think, create, write, and sew. The place where three-dimensional dreams come to being as two dimensional patterns, which grow up to be real versions of those three-dimensional dreams. It's often embarrassingly messy. Now, though? It's lived-in, but clean. Free of the projects for my second book, which have been sent to my publisher for photographing. Free of the manuscript, which I turned in a few days ago! A clean slate has never felt so good, and so full of possibilities. What will I make next in this space? The floodgates of "I have free time to sew for fun" have been opened, and I honestly don't know where to begin.

studio tour redux

I spent a healthy lot of time in the past few days just sitting. (In my new-to-me office chair from Vintage Renewal, which I love, love, love.) I needed to sit and stare. The amount of time I have spent working in the past 18 months has been out of this world. Write book #1 - have baby - write book #2. I'm so relieved to finally be able to say I'm done with the books! Both of them! It was a joy and a pleasure to be given the opportunity to put so many of my ideas out there into the world, but boy, am I glad to be where I am now, with the books behind me, some more mellow pattern designing in the works, some time to sew for fun, and much more free time to do the really important things in life like belly laugh with my boys and go for hikes. There's still some book-related stuff to do, of course, like editing and some illustrating, but the bulk of it is DONE!

studio tour redux

So, before it gets messy again, I thought you'd like a peek at my studio. Remember the first studio tour, way back when? I've since kicked out Patrick and relocated him, along with all of the shipping gizmos and pattern stock, to the basement. Patrick never worked in here anyway - his books and papers just piled up on that desk of his. It would have been great to share a space with my dear husband, but his books? They are nothing without the man.

This left me with a few free walls, which serve me well for storing my knit fabrics, my ironing board, and my inspiration wall.

studio tour redux

studio tour redux

Eventually, I'd like to find a beautiful cabinet at my local thrift store for the purpose of storing fabric. The open shelving serves a purpose, but when you have two cats? Mmm ... not-so-much. They think it's a bunk bed just for them. 

As always, it's a work-in-progress, this studio of mine. Constantly morphing to accommodate a new organizational idea, a necessary tool, or my genetic pre-disposition to the furniture re-arranging disorder. (Ask Patrick.)

I'm happy to be here. Happy to be back.

sandpaper letters

The Montessori teacher in me just had a mini freak-out. Check these out:


Photo by Polliwog77

They're stylish. They're handmade. They're affordable. You can buy them through etsy here.

I know there are strong opinions about what makes a good sandpaper letter in the Montessori community. Having trained in the ultra-purist AMI camp, there was a time when I believed that cursive letters were the only way to go, because cursive letters are more easily differentiated, whereas children can get hung up on the graphic similarities of the circle-and-line-ness of the print p, d, q, a, etc. I cut out my own set of cursive letters from sandpaper, which I'll make into a set one of these days. (I even made a complete moveable alphabet in cursive for my classroom in Mexico.) But that said, I totally see the argument for introducing children to print letters first. We live in a world of print (and, as Patrick argues, he never reads or writes in cursive, so why should that be the first thing that Finn learns, if the whole point of Montessori education is to help the child adapt to his specific cultural environment?) How do I argue with that? Plus, these letters are so darn cool looking. Patrick wins.

Oh, and did you see that the beautiful set of Waldorf alphabet cards is now available in English? Swoon. I think I just fainted from letter loveliness.

Here's a link to a tutorial on how to make your own sandpaper letters, along with a bit about what they are and how to use them.

the new morning walk, and a baby barefoot manifesto

Finn and his Daddy have a new way of walking. Morning walks started with Finn in a carrier, then a stroller, and now? Well, now ... you'll just have to see for yourself.

a walk with daddy

a walk with daddy

a walk with daddy

a walk with daddy

a walk with daddy

a walk with daddy

a walk with daddy

a walk with daddy

Sigh. I love that man.

You'll notice that Finn is going barefoot, and he doesn't mind at all. It's actually best for little ones to have an unadulterated sensorial experience of the ground they walk on. It's easy to forget, in this society of shoe-wearers, that the feet are full of nerves, just like the hands. They detect pressure, stretch, and movement, and send that information back to the brain for processing. In fact, it's becoming apparent that it's best for all of us to go barefoot. Check out this quote (for the full article, click here):

“Natural gait is biomechanically impossible for any shoe-wearing person,” wrote Dr. William A. Rossi in a 1999 article in Podiatry Management. “It took 4 million years to develop our unique human foot and our consequent distinctive form of gait, a remarkable feat of bioengineering. Yet, in only a few thousand years, and with one carelessly designed instrument, our shoes, we have warped the pure anatomical form of human gait, obstructing its engineering efficiency, afflicting it with strains and stresses and denying it its natural grace of form and ease of movement head to foot.” In other words: Feet good. Shoes bad.

Of course going barefoot would be good for new walkers, for purposes of developing a healthy gait. It also helps them to develop awareness and grace in movement that a child wearing a hard, rubber sole might miss out on - if a child is barefoot outside, for example, he'll be less likely to trod on plants, will be more likely to notice things his foot touches, and will acquire useful knowledge about how the ground works - when it is wet, it is slippery; when the sun ray hits it, the ground is warm; when I run like crazy without looking where I'm going, I might step on something rough or prickly. Going barefoot provides feedback for movement that we were meant to have - it makes us more aware of the world around us, and how we move through it.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen is all about running barefoot. It also happens to be written by a guy we met (and translated for) when we were at the race (which was near where we were living in Mexico.) Let me just say that, while he's a fantastic writer, a whole bunch of the book is hooey - the part where he talks about the native Tarahumara. Yes, in fact, they do get cancer - I taught a little boy who had leukemia. And yes, in fact, they do get diabetes. So be warned - read the book for the information about the shoes (or lack thereof), not for an accurate description of the Tarahumara people. The book is a well-written fiction, based loosely on the reality on the ground. Want the real version of the race? Here's a blast from the past - check out our post about it on our old blog, as well as our annotated Flickr set!

Okay, enough about going barefoot. I will say, though, that I did order Finn a pair of these soft-soled, moccasin-type shoes for times when we're out on the town. They seem to provide a bit of protection while still offering adequate sensorial feedback. ***This site also looks like a great source of soft-soled shoes for the whole family: Soft Star Shoes. Also, thanks to Arwen, who pointed out this pattern that you can use to make soft-soled shoes yourself! Plus, the pattern is multi-sized, and fits babies, toddlers, and children up to size 3!***

first haircut

first haircut

It was an unceremonious affair. Driven by the whispies falling in his eyes in the front and the ever-more-pronounced mullet in the back, I took a pair of scissors to his flaxen, silky mane while he was napping.

first haircut

Clip straight across here, straight across there, and all of a sudden this little boy appeared. Um? Oh my. What have I done?  Where did baby Finn go? I saved those silky, golden whisps.

first haircut

A token of a babyhood soon to be only a memory.

sponsor giveaway and discount :: lusa organics

***The giveaway is now closed. The random number generator chose "berries*", who will receive some organic goodness for her little one, due in a few weeks! Congratulations!***


I'm very pleased to welcome back LuSa Organics as a blog sponsor. Rachel makes some mighty fine products. Her Booty Balm is magical - if ever a rash-like somethingrather appears on Finn, I just slather this stuff on him and it's gone within the day! Read on to learn more about LuSa, and leave a comment to enter to win your choice of Booty Balm and Baby Wipe Juice or 4 bars of LuSa Organic's Naked Soap. In addition, Rachel is also offering $10 off your purchase of $40 or more when you enter the coupon code "Sew Liberated" at checkout (expires April 24 - I'll be stocking up on Booty Balm for new baby gifts!) The winner will be announced on Monday, April 5.

*Also, if you are, or have been, a baby-wearer, Rachel is collecting uplifting stories about the baby-wearing experience as a way to counter the fear-mongering stories all over the media that have been cropping up lately (I was unaware of this until a man working downtown asked me, while I was wearing Finn, "Aren't those things supposed to be really dangerous?" I just smiled and kindly responded, "No, it's way more risky getting in a car." Anyway, for more info and to submit your story, visit Rachel's blog.

Shoulder sleep

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