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March 2012

on the road







Hello from Washington, DC, where we've come to protest the meanies who'd like for insurance companies not to be required to insure children with preexisting conditions like our little Lachlan enjoy ourselves despite it all for one day as we drive to New York City for a family wedding this weekend! Gosh, this is such a unique and powerful city, and we're seeing it with new eyes this time. When we lived here seven years ago, we were in such a different place in our early married lives. Now here we are, navigating the metro with a stroller and a baby carrier as opposed to a yoga mat and a bag of groceries. The boys loved the open space of the national mall, which is exactly where they needed to be after being in the car all day yesterday.

See you tomorrow or Monday with pictures of my trip to the garment district in Manhattan to source fabrics for my next patterns!

imagine childhood springtime giveaway

A fun giveaway for you from Imagine Childhood - one of my go-to stores for finding quality playthings and activities for my boys. Among our recent purchases are the bird and bee garden sprinkles. Can't wait to sow them near our side patio and see what surprises come up!

They have all sorts of seed and garden offerings, as well as a very inspirational spring activity guide, which highlights many of the good ideas in their blog as well as linking to other useful resources.

Imagine Childhood is offering a $75 gift certificate to one of you as well as 10% off all orders between 3/27/12 and 3/30/12.  Enter "Sewliberated" as the discount code at the time of checkout. I'll draw the winner on Thursday night so you can have a chance to fill your Easter basket with springtime goodness! 

Good luck!

The giveaway is closed. Congratulations to Nico Swan, and thanks to Imagine Childhood!

instant gratification flowers

instant gratification flowers

I love the mystery of a seed that sprouts and grows into something beautiful. I want my boys to experience that in the garden. 

Sometimes, though? Sometimes my inner two year-old just wants some flowers now! And finally, after so many years of living in shade pockets, we can have container flowers. So we did it! I used a gift certificate that I could have used for something boring like a hose or a ladder. There's always something to get for an old-ish house. 

instant gratification flowers

instant gratification flowers

Instead, I bought potted flowers. My favorites, the icelandic poppies and lantana, are paired with columbines, hyacinths, creeping jenny, silver falls, and some gebera daisies, salvia, purple queen, and some daffodils and tulips. All of these are perennials, at least in my growing region.

instant gratification flowers

Here's a before view of my side entryway, which is where we go in and out of the house. It gets plentiful afternoon sun, and we spend a lot of time on this patio because it's home to the boys' digging spot - a planter that is devoid of all but a few shrubs and lots of dirt. We don't have a sandbox yet, but the dirt is, if I dare say, better than sand. They both have their place, but having a dirt pile is great. For the boys, not for the floors in my house!

instant gratification flowers

The little guys helped me plant, and, even though they were loving this "work," of course, I had to do what any mother of little ones has to do to get anything done - I finished the job once they were sleeping, by the light of the moon porch flood light.

instant gratification flowers

instant gratification flowers

I recently took a container gardening class at Craftsy - are you familiar with Craftsy? They have all sorts of online classes for sewing, knitting, gardening, paper crafts, and more. You should check out their platform when you get a chance. I've taken several of their sewing courses, too, and have really learned a lot (plus, I can take them at my own pace - while the boys are sleeping!) 

instant gratification flowers

instant gratification flowers

instant gratification flowers

Here's the view from the side door in the above pictures looking out toward the driveway. Everything's abloom! This has been a very exciting spring for us, as it is our first in this house, and we're enjoying learning about all of the bulbs the previous owners planted, as well as learning the names of all of the flowering shrubs and vines. 

Now I just need to set up my deer sprinkler and all should be good. Cross your fingers that it works - it's what I'm depending on to protect our garden this year, too, as we can't afford a fence!

collaborative painting

easel painting

easel painting

easel painting

easel painting

easel painting

easel painting

easel painting

Sometimes it works out perfectly, when one wants to be doing what the other one is doing. Sometimes it doesn't, but this time? Yes. I will choose to remember this.

P.S. - We have a handful of patterns on clearance - under $5 - over at my pattern shop. We need to make room in our tiny warehouse for all of the new designs I'm working on now! As always, thanks so much for supporting our family.

doodle tee





I almost forgot to show you Finn's handmade birthday gift for Lachlan! I know you would have seen the shirt in photos eventually, and you would have wondered what the deal was with that crazy shirt, so I think an official show-and-tell is called for.

We used a basic white onesie and Finn drew all over it with fabric markers. I did need to hold the fabric taut while he drew to prevent it from stretching and bunching under the pressure of the marker. It turned out to be an activity well-suited for a two year-old. I think it's one of those gift projects that's perfect for all ages and all occasions - Mother's Day, Father's Day, sibling's and friend's birthdays, etc. I'm sure we'll do it again one of these days.

another trip around the sun


The first day of my trip around the Sun, the first day of Spring. Nice that they coincide.

Thirty one. Last year I was holding a baby who needed supplemental oxygen. This year I was holding the hand of that same baby as he splashed his nearly-walking feet in the water of the river. 


My boys made me a cake, and I spent some time familiarizing myself with my new toy. Come to think of it, this camera made that cake look rather disgusting! But it wasn't. It was quite tasty, honest! 

Lachlan listening to birds

It was just a normal day, and for that I'm very grateful.




Sheep! Seventy of them. The boys and I had a grand time at Stoney Mountain Farm during their sheep shearing festivities. The gracious owners opened their home to a good bunch of people, offering entertainment in the way of wool harvesting and sustenance in the form of a tasty home-cooked lunch.




Having never seen a sheep get shorn before, I was amazed at how accommodating and docile the animals were through the ordeal. Look at the adoring eyes of that sheep up there! He looked like he was getting a spa treatment. 






In preparation for the big shearing day, I checked out some shearing-related books from the library. Pelle's New Suit will have to be added to our own collection. Not only does Finn adore the book, but he looks exactly like Pelle. Who knew? The boy with just a drop of Swedish blood in him (there's more Mexican in there than Swedish) would come out looking like the spittin' image of a turn-of-the-century Swedish boy. 


In addition to Pelle's New Suit , we've also enjoyed Feeding the Sheep and Weaving the Rainbow - all of which are about the process of shearing the sheep, making yarn, and then weaving or knitting clothing from the sheep's wool. 



We've been shearing some of our own sheep right in our living room. I love observing how new experiences come out in imaginative play, and how they are understood and written in the memory of a child through prolonged and repetitive play or games. 

Do you have a local farm that makes an event of shearing day?

putting down roots


Ten fruit trees arrived several weeks ago now. It was a big day. 

Planting an orchard. Something about it almost made me teary. It's quite the statement of commitment to a place, isn't it? Taking the time to do something now that won't bear fruit, quite literally, for years to come.

Before we found out about Lachlan's heart condition, we were primed to move to my hometown in Northern California - close to my parents, in the mountains, by the river. As it turns out, it's not all that close to Stanford Medical Center, where Lachlan would be treated.

Plans change. A year and a half later, we find ourselves here, close to Duke, and my parents have moved to be near us. We have a beautiful piece of green land - not in the mountains, but the hills are rolling. We are putting down roots, making this place ours.

In a rush of sentimentality and serendipity (both my former region in California and the Piedmont in North Carolina are in growing zone 7) the trees are from my childhood home - Peaceful Valley in Grass Valley, California. 

Now that feels good. Putting down California roots in the rich soil of North Carolina.



Oh, and did I talk about rain pants in my last post? Oops. Guess Daddy forgot to put them on. Guess he also forgot to take off the handknit sweater. 


As you can see, my boys were quite involved in the days-long process. From inspecting, trimming, and soaking the roots to digging and filling the drainage test holes, they weren't afraid to get their hands (or, in Lachlan's case - face) dirty.






My Dad, who zoomed through his recovery from his triple-bypass, was there to help dig and lend his expertise to the operation. I remember planting the orchard at my childhood home with him. It was my job to paint the trunks white.


Some things don't change. 

baby rain pants


There's no such thing as bad weather - only bad clothes.

Very true. Since moving to our house in the country this past summer, we spend so much time exploring and working our land. Early morning is a favorite time to be outside; watching the sun rise, noticing the dew collect in the cup of a leaf, searching for frogs in our small pond. 

I already knew the importance of dressing children in layers of long johns if the weather is even slightly cool, but somehow I didn't figure out until this year the paramount importance of rain pants. 


Finn has had his pair since Fall (they're from REI) and they are our most-used piece of clothing. Even if it's not raining, the grass is damp in the morning, and there's always a puddle to explore. Rain pants give us the freedom to let him explore without a litany of parental cautions, most of which focus on our desire to keep him dry (because we know that clothes are washable, but we also know that being wet can be very uncomfortable and can spoil any well-intentioned nature walk.)


But what about Mr. Red-headed Crawly McCutie Pie? The REI pants only went down to a size 2T.

I needed to make him some pants - he needed them more than anyone, because he's always crawling and sitting on the damp earth. But rain pants require fancy material. You can't get it at your local fabric store, and you can't get it in most fancy quilt/fashion fabric online store, either. You can't use oilcloth or laminated cotton for rain pants (nor should you for kids' raincoats, as the material is not breathable.)

After a long search, I found what I was looking for! Waterproof, breathable fabric that is easy to sew. Now you can turn any pants pattern into rain pants. You can get it at The Rain Shed, an outdoor fabric specialty store. I used item #3388, 40 dernier ripstop 3-layer. 


You can use any basic, elastic-waisted pants pattern, although I like a design that also has elastic or velcro at the ankles to keep them snug against the body. Make sure you size up a bit, too, as these are meant to be an outer layer, worn over other pants.DSC_2662_4559

It's nice to be able to get right down there with them (I have rain pants, too) and not worry about soggy jeans. Just need to make a pair for Patrick, and we're all set!