Friday, May 08, 2015

From the Lake to the Land

Some new friends recently introduced us to a local playground and nature area -- the kind of nature trails that dreams are made of. Maybe it helps that we first visited in Spring, while the wisteria was blooming. 

There's a lake, too. A beautiful, rippling lake.

Walking through this little bit of paradise is like listening to "From the Lake to the Land" by Foreign Fields*. Peaceful. Mesmerizing. Something I want to do again and again.

The Canadian geese have not quite finished their exodus. It's been so long since I've even seen a Canadian goose!

There were hundreds of Mayapples carpeting the forest floor -- I'd never seen these before, but fortunately was able to find them with a Google search. They have a single flower below the umbrella-like leaves, and apparently produce a yellow fruit that's only edible when fully ripe (and in small quantities). I think I'll pass, thanks. But they're lovely.

We've taken a few walks along the nature trails already, and I anticipate many more such walks to follow. How can I resist, when strolling under this verdant canopy makes me feel glad to be alive? We've had some stresses lately (most recently, several hundred dollars of flooring & appliance repair resulting from a broken washing machine), but as long as we're there all of those stresses melt away.

Oh, the wisteria! One of my favorite of all flowers, along with foxgloves and daffodils. It's been years since I've really seen any (though it was actually quite common in our area of Florida -- I just never saw any in our immediate vicinity). The nature trails here are dripping with it. Glades filled with light and shadow and fragrance.

And my sweet little ones, growing bigger and stronger and faster before my eyes. I so love to watch them explore, to see the delight in their eyes as they soak up their new surroundings. How grateful I am to have a place to take them that's so easy to access -- it's only a few minutes from our home (like everything around here, it seems!).

It's a beautiful world God has made, isn't it? Beautiful in spite of sin, in spite of the curse. If this little corner of His creation is so lovely, what will the new heavens and the new earth have in store?

*Note: I'm a Foreign Fields fan, but have not listened to all of their music -- I certainly can't recommend the song Mountaintop, due to some entirely unnecessary language. I do love Fragile Branches, Names and Races, and Fake Arms. Just sayin'

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

A Comfy Conveyance for Laddie -- the Homemade Baby K'tan

I didn't have much in the way of carriers for Little Man when he was small -- I made a Mei Tai, but that was only useful when he was a bit bigger (and he never really loved it). I also had a ring sling, but just didn't like the way it fit. I wanted a Moby wrap, but didn't want to pay the money. Yes, they are easy to DIY, but they still require five yards of jersey (unless you incorporate a seam or two). Plus, I had seen people trying to put them on, and couldn't quite envision mummifying myself in 5 yards of fabric in a parking lot. 

Then I found out about the Baby K'tan -- two big "loops" of fabric connected by a little loop in the back, with a sash for extra support. It had the coziness of the Moby without the excess fabric. They're still a bit pricey (though you can pick one up on Ebay for around $20), but I found a tutorial and made one in brown knit for Rosa. I loved it, and so did Rosa! There's a bit of a learning curve when you first start wearing it, but I dare say it's no more (and probably less) than the Moby. 

But brown knit is rather dull, wouldn't you say? So for Laddie (and future babies, Lord willing) I remade it in my beloved Flight organic knit in "Mineral" by Birch Fabrics. At first I didn't make the sash, because I found I rarely used the sash with my brown carrier. But after wearing Laddie once or twice in this carrier, I realized he was sagging too much and needed the extra support.

Too bad Laddie napped for the entirety of his first nature hike! I'm wearing him in
"Kangaroo" position in this picture, but have since moved on to the "Hug" position.

Of course, by this time I had used up all but one piece of my Flight knit fabric, and I didn't like the idea of covering up most of the carrier with a solid sash. So I squared up the edges of my last scrap and used an incredibly soft and thick thrifted charcoal-colored tee as an accent fabric. I love how it turned out! The dark grey of the accent fabric blends with the lighter grey linen I used for the rest of my "Flight" items (stroller canopy and accessories).

Details? I used French seams and hemmed the edges of the actual carrier (not necessary with knit, but my patterned fabric is white on the underside and looks better this way), and also made a small loop of fabric to connect the larger loops -- just like the actual Baby K'tan (the tutorial I linked to doesn't include this step). The sash has tapered ends, because it's easier to tie on that way. I've been using my Flight knitting bag to store the carrier, because it's easy to grab and throw in the car on my way out the door. Which means I'll need to make a new knitting bag. Poor me... *wink*

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Give Me Liberty

I've had my eye (in a favorable way) on Liberty fabrics for a long while. I've also had my eye (in a not-so-favorable way) on their price! It still boggles my mind a bit that fabric can be quite that expensive! 

And then, my chance came -- a Liberty print was going out of stock on, and was greatly reduced. It's a standard cotton, so it was on the lower end of the price spectrum to begin with. I snatched up some Lifestyle Stile Collection Herbert in green and pink and squirreled it away, with plans to make it into a dress for Rosa. Fast forward nearly a year, and the fabric was still awaiting its incarnation. Because actually starting a project means failure may be imminent, and the more I like a fabric, the less excited I am about the prospect of failure. 

But, at very long last, here it is:

It came out as more of a tunic than a dress, since Rosa grew quite a bit between the time of purchase and the time of creation! But I'm glad I waited, because two other fabrics came into my possession during that interval. The first was a lovely white empire-waist blouse that I found for $1. It was a stretch when I bought it -- there were so many things about it the just didn't work for me (a tad too snug, not nursing friendly, sheer enough to need an undershirt), but the bottom edge of the tunic was so beautifully embroidered that I couldn't resist. And, lo and behold, it made the perfect "petticoat" layer for Rosa's Liberty dress!

The second fabric came from a dress that my Mom, knowing my love for linen, passed on to me when she was done with it. It's the loveliest shade of pink, it matches the Liberty fabric perfectly, and it's a linen-silk blend. A linen-silk blend, my friends! Two of the most glorious fabrics combined in one perfect union! All right, that's a bit dramatic. But I'm definitely a fan. 

I altered Burda's Ruffle Top for babies for my purposes -- I'm still trying to figure out sizing on this one! I made the largest size (supposed to be 24 months), and it was quite wide on my average sized 2 1/2 year old. Anyway, I adjusted the bodice and drafted a skirt piece to match.

Pintucks on the bodice, because Liberty fabric deserves something special! I'm usually too impatient to do tucks.

I changed the sleeves to 3/4 length, and obviously did my own thing with cuffs, bands, piping, and collar.

I had just enough fabric to make a pair of bloomers to go underneath. I forget what pattern I used, but it was a standard Big 4 pattern -- bloomers are pretty forgiving!

This was my last project before we moved, and as it turns out, the timing was perfect -- the day before Resurrection Sunday I realized that Rosa had no "Easter dress," but this fit the bill! I'm not into Easter dresses per say, but it was nice to have something fresh and Springy for such a joyous day.

And now I've had my Liberty -- though I can't say I'd object to more in the future!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Spring in a less tropical climate has given me a fresh perspective on beauty. While we have our share of beautiful flowers in Florida, I find myself perpetually amazed at the transformation I see around me here in Virginia. (By the way, "here in Virginia" still seems a bit surreal after living in Florida for 15 years!) When we first arrived, it still seemed like winter. Now, there is a profusion of beauty in every direction!

Fleeting beauty. Already, the camellias I pilfered from the bush by our house are almost gone, their petals carpeting the ground below. 

The trees that were just budding a few weeks ago are now covered in fresh, green leaves. Some are laden with so many blossoms that I wonder how the branches can support their weight! 

There are so many trees here -- I didn't even realize how many until the leaves began to unfurl. The beauty of the sunlight filtering through the leaves still takes my breath away. There really is no word to describe that exact shade of sun-kissed green! 

I'm soaking up each facet of this glorious season, since we'll soon be moving to a place with even less seasonal change than the Sunshine State!

But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; 
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; 
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; 
and the fish of the sea will declare to you. 
Who among all these does not know that 
the hand of the Lord has done this? 
In his hand is the life of every living thing 
and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Moving several hundred miles north in the middle of March gave us a second chance at Spring. And while Spring in Florida was nice in its own way, I've discovered I love Spring in Virginia even more!

Of course, that could be because we actually have *grass* at this house. We had grass (or something like it) in Florida, but it was nothing like the lush profusion sprouting outside our door here. It helps that we're not responsible for watering or mowing it (some of the perks of our current rental!). 

I can't believe how big our Laddie is getting! He was quite content lying in the
shade of a pear tree on his quilt (made by a dear friend).

Within a few weeks of our arrival the pear trees were in full, glorious bloom:

I must admit that I can't stand the smell of Bradford pear blossoms (they remind me of frying mushrooms. Go figure), but I was happy to trade off the smell for a few weeks of beauty. 

 It's good to finally feel more settled. There's an odd box here and there, and a few items that haven't found homes yet, but for the most part we've figured out our new routine here. I'm really shocked by just how much we've gotten rid of during the unpacking process. I thought we'd cleared out pretty well before we left, but apparently my standards of "worth keeping" having gotten stricter since then! Which is fine with me. I'm enjoying having less to worry about and maintain.

I'm also getting the hang of the grocery stores here -- we have one less than a mile from our house, which is luxuriously handy. I still do most of my shopping at the local military commissary, but I've found that there are usually a few sale items worth snagging each week. Strawberries for $1 a pound? Can't say no to that!

We're continuing to explore our area, meet new friends, and learn what it is to start fresh in a new place. It's already exciting, and I know that the real adventure lies ahead when we move again in a few months.

But for now, settling down feels very good indeed!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dot to Dot (Or, "Yet Another Izzy")

This is, by my count, my sixth incarnation of the fabulous Izzy pattern (you can see the others here)! If you've been here even a short time, you've probably already noticed my fascination obsession with this pattern. This is a fever that not even more cowbell can cure! But that's okay. This is one addiction I'm more than happy to feed. 

I made up a 3T for my 2 1/2 year old, and it's great now with room to grow. Hopefully this Izzy will have a long life as a dress and then as a tunic!

I paired grey polka-dot cotton with a remnant of linen in "Meadow" that I'd purchased for next-to-nothing some time ago. I love the color combination (though it's super difficult to get the colors right on a computer monitor!).
This time I notched the collar for a little detail -- I also lined the bodice with the cotton, and I like the look of it peeking out when it's on the hanger! 

Pockets, too -- just because. They were simple to draft, and help bring the whole thing together.

I added a band of linen to the bottom (double the desired width + seam allowance, folded in half and stitched right-side-together to the skirt). Though I did end up shortening the dress by several inches after taking these photos; despite my efforts, it ended up far too long for Rosa! 

A vintage mother-of-pearl button secures the back.

This was my first sewing project since arriving in Virginia -- I cut it out before bed and stitched it the next day. Just in time for a trip to IKEA the day after! It was a long trek, but well worth it -- oh Poang, how we love your comfortable curves! *wink*

It's been a flurry of activity here, but I hope to post a bit more regularly soon. Right now we're in the aftermath of a washer that flooded our utility room and part of the kitchen, so we'd appreciate prayers for a swift (and relatively inexpensive) resolution to that problem. In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying Spring wherever-you-are as much as we are!

Saturday, March 28, 2015


We are here

That's a deceptively obvious statement, considering the amount of time, effort, etc., that was necessary to make it valid! Somehow, some way (I'm still fuzzy on the details) we managed to pack up our belongings and start the trek to Virginia. Actually, that's not entirely true, because it's very clear to me that the only way we did it was with an army of helpful friends & family, my parents (who made the 1-hour trek to our home an insane number of times that last month!), and Pablo's brother (whom we tasked with everything unpleasant that we didn't really want to do...). 

The drive up was interesting -- not really bad, in the sense that our new little Laddie slept virtually the entire time, the two older kids were relatively well behaved (we used our van's DVD player for the first time, which was a huge boon!), and the drive itself was smooth. It was just very, very, very long. Elongated by the necessity of frequent feeding/potty/eating breaks. But, by God's grace, we arrived! Three days later we signed the lease on a rental -- a providential story in itself, since the rental we were planning on pre-move turned out to be a 2nd floor unit with no outside area for the kids to play. Just before we went to see it, I found another rental that cost less and had some outdoor space for the kids. And it's in the perfect location, too. We unpacked the truck the same day we moved in (and also drove a few miles away to pick up a Craigslist washer and dryer, as the unit didn't have them!).

The littles and I enjoyed watching this fellow rustling up some breakfast

Two days later, Rosa came down with a stomach bug. The next evening, the rest of us got it. There has been a lot of laundry lately -- thank goodness for that washer and dryer! It has easily (or rather, not-so-easily *wink*) been the craziest four weeks of my life, but God has sustained us through it all. And really, very little has actually gone "wrong." He has blessed us over and over again, even as we've been bombarded with challenge after challenge.

Spring is on its way here -- our second spring this year!  

Little by little, box by box, we're settling into a new rhythm. And hopefully I'll be able to stop and catch my breath soon!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Special Delivery

At long last, he's here -- this little love of ours, this long awaited baby boy. Our ray of sunshine after the storm

Sixteen days early, just like his sister. But the biggest of our babies at 7 lb 13 oz and 21 1/2 inches. He is sweet and kissable, and oh! that newborn smell!

There are so many things I am grateful for -- a straightforward, 5 hour labor; a wonderful labor and delivery nurse and my laid back OBGYN; a husband who can make me laugh through contractions (him, watching the contraction monitor: "Wow, that's a big one!" As if I needed to be informed...); a natural, complication-free birth; and most of all, a healthy baby.

He is adored by his siblings (and his parents!), and has settled in to our family beautifully -- i.e., he can sleep through Little Man and Rosa's rabble rousing. Hopefully that will last past the newborn stage!

I marvel at this tiny life that God has entrusted to our care. So much healing, so much joy in such a tiny package. 

And now we finish packing up our worldly goods (of which there are too many, despite my extensive decluttering!). My efforts to "take it easy" in the middle of our first big move are not entirely successful, despite my husband's selfless care and constant reminders to not overdo it. Fortunately, this has been my swiftest recovery thus far. Still, I think the long drive will actually be a rest after this week's busy-ness! Thank goodness our newest addition is very happy in his car seat... so far. Speaking of that new addition, I'm thinking he'll go by "Laddie" in this little Internet space of mine. 

Thank you ever so much, those of you who have prayed with and for us over the past year and more -- when we count our blessings, we count you!