Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Take a Bow

No, not a bow -- a bow! The hair accessory kind.

Somehow Rosa just never seems to have enough bows. This is absurd, because she has quite a few in various colors and styles. But with materials on hand and a fabulous pattern/tutorial from oliver + s, I decided to have a bit of fun.




The cream bow is wool felt, and the black and brown bows are leather. The brown leather bow is particularly handy, as it's currently her only brown bow (poor, impoverished darling!).




I won't lie -- I used hot glue to assemble the leather bows -- there was just no reason to sew them! This made them insanely simple to construct. I also covered the double prong alligator clips that I have with leather, for a more finished look.

I decided on a touch of hand stitching on the cream bow, a la oliver + s. Again, so easy to construct. I love making ribbon bows, but these are incredibly simple and have such a lovely shape. 




We've been having a merry time of late (hence fewer posts!), but I've just uploaded a slew of pictures, and hope to share some of our adventures soon!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sunday Afternoon

A few Sundays ago we ventured to a more historic spot and had a bit of a walk -- we'd discovered a little neighborhood packed to the brim with unique homes of various styles, and decided it warranted closer inspection.




Such a lovely, lovely day. Flowers blooming at every turn.





So much ivy! I remember seeing ivy in Florida, but the profusion of it here is really quite magnificent.




Some of the homes were amazing -- I loved that several of them had "doors within doors," like the one below. I'm still not quite sure of the purpose of having two sets of fronts doors, but it's charming!




Little Man and Rosa were quite find of the local footbridge -- Laddie also had a lovely time studying the backs of his eyelids while ensconced in the Bugaboo. Too bad he's still too young to appreciate or remember our time here!




One of the best things was peeking into the little courtyards and glades dotted around the neighborhood -- though I do always feel awkward taking pictures, as it must look like I'm casing the joint!




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It's hydrangea season now, and I'm loving the variety of colors and species. Hydrangeas have long been a favorite of mine.




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Stella D'oro lilies always remind me of my father, because he planted them in front of our house years ago. I do love that flowers can carry such associations -- not only are they beautiful, but they also evoke memories.




The trees have been quite creative in making space for themselves, resorting to unique root patterns wherever they can fit them in. The whole neighborhood was shaded with mature trees. 




As we walked along, we were greeted by various people -- some on their front porches, some in their yards. A little cluster of neighbors had gathered on the sidewalk and were chatting as we passed by. "Oh, you left your dish at my house last night!" said someone. Visions of neighborly dinner parties flitted through my mind, leaving a most pleasing sensation.




We didn't quite finish exploring, so we'll be back another time. And perhaps a time after that, too.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Sparks

It seems like Little Man's mind is a flint, and everything around him is steel. Every time he rubs shoulders with the marvels of the every-day, there are Sparks. Showers of sparks, igniting his curiosity and his growing font of knowledge.

And there are so many wonders. Like birds' nests, hiding in the shrubbery.




 Marvels of ingenuity and resourcefulness, carefully crafted by our little feathered friends.




Wonders like our tiny back deck "garden" -- a little collection of herbs and a solitary pepper plant. Oh, how he loves to tend those plants with his minute watering can! I can't wait until the peppers start to come, and we can watch them ripen. We've kept things to a minimum knowing that we'll only be here a brief time, but I'm hoping we can start a larger garden on Guam!




Wonders like the written word. He's been ready for a while (we probably could have started in Florida), but I knew it would be best to wait until we were settled here and had a chance at consistency. I'm using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons -- the very same book that my mother used to teach me years ago!




If you've never taught a child to read, I highly recommend you find a child and get started! It's such a remarkable, indescribable feeling. Little Man has been eating it up, and surprising me with how neatly he forms most of his letters. We're 1/3 of the way through, and we both delight in our daily lesson -- especially the little stories at the end of each lesson. The dry-erase board, by the way, is from Dollar Tree. So basically, teaching my son one of life's most important skills cost about $15.

Seeing Little Man's mind ablaze with wonder excites me as we ease into more formal education -- I know there will be challenges along the way, but it is such a privilege to share the wonders of God's creation with my children.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Summer Frocks

Too much fabric?

Check.

A little girl who needs some summer clothes?

Check.

An excuse to sew?

Yes, please!





Admittedly, Rosa wasn't in desperate need of new clothes. But a new tunic and blouse have been quite handy! The former was made up as an Izzy -- of course. I do love that pattern, you know.





I lined it with pink striped cotton, because I didn't have enough of the floral fabric. I'm actually glad it turned out that way, because I love the contrast.

And a snap in the back to close it up -- partly because I was too lazy to do a buttonhole. Though by the time I'd gathered up all the snap supplies, a hammer, and my scrap 2x4 (for setting the snap), I probably could have made several buttonholes!




The other top is perfect for summer. I purchased the fabric before Rosa was born, I believe, and originally intended it for an entirely different garment. But it was time for it to be used, and an airy little peasant top seemed perfect. Actually, it started out as a dress -- but you know when you make something and you realize the fabric isn't right? Fortunately, shortening it was solution, and here it is!





A little checkered ribbon at the neckline, and it was all set. Oh, I used this peasant dress pattern, though I seem to recall altering the flutter sleeves to make them a little wider. 




Both of these were made assembly-line style, because I actually made a second set in a smaller size as a gift. Hopefully the little one they were made for will like hers as much as Rosa does! In fact, the cherry top was specifically requested this morning.

Fabric used up, sewing itch scratched, and a daughter who loves to wear something I made for her. I can go with that.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Bits and Pieces

I am so utterly delighted that both of my children like to drink tea. This warms the inner workings of my Anglophilic heart like nobody's business! Granted, I shall have to wait to introduce them to the glories of black tea until I'm willing to let them consume caffeine, but Red Raspberry leaf tea will do for now (besides, it's quite healthy and actually reminds me of black tea). 

I recently unpacked a set of dishes I had as a child, and decided that it was time for Rosa to have her own tea mug -- Little Man has my childhood Postman Pat mug, so it seemed appropriate for Rosa to have my Mrs. Tiggywinkle mug! It's the perfect size for her chubby little fingers.






Life is speeding by -- not busy, really (I'm trying to avoid using the word "busy" these days, because it's so overused in our culture), but very full. The roses on our back porch finally bloomed, much to my delight. I couldn't believe the profusion of roses a few weeks ago! They've all bloomed out now, but for a few weeks our locale seemed covered in them. 




Also, Little Man's type A tendencies are becoming increasingly apparent. Just take a gander at this very symmetrical creation:




During a recent visit to Barnes and Noble, he sat at the Duplo table and made a square house -- the entire first layer of bricks was one color, and the second layer was another color. As a child, I was a bit psychotic about matching, symmetrical Lego colors, so it's interesting to see that Little Man is the same way!

I have more to share -- a few projects and such -- but between a visit from my family (hurray!) and my general lack of motivation to upload pictures, that will have to wait for another time. It seems strange to be saying goodbye to May already. I wonder what June will have in store?



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 Fabric.com, 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!