My name is Grace, and I started this blog in November of 2006 as a way of recognizing and keeping track of positive and beautiful things in my daily life. As a pretty crafty person, it also became about cataloging my creative work.

I'm married to a musician and teacher, and mama to three sweet wee ones.

Sometimes I get questions about our life or the equipment I use, and I thought I could answer a few of the more common ones here. If these answers give you even more questions, please don't hesitate to email me! I can be an inconsistent emailer, but I'll do my best to answer your questions! You can contact me at uncommongrace@comcast.net.

*What kind of camera do you use? I take all of my photos with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi (also known as the 400D). I have several lenses for the camera, including a 30mm prime lens, a 100mm telephoto lens, and a 60mm macro lens. A few of my friends have debated heavily between purchasing a Canon and a Nikon when upgrading to a "big" camera, and inevitably ask why I opted for Canon. I had a few reasons -- I had read a lot of favorable reviews for the XTi, which was brand-new at that time (and is most equivalent to the D80 in the Nikon line). Another was that there are more lenses available in the Canon line, especially for the mid-range DSLR's. Many people who are better photographers than I will say that the difference between two similar cameras can usually be summarized with which has the better lens, so a wide variety of lenses from which to choose was pretty important to me. Another thing that I have noticed, when I see a big bank of photographers at the Olympics or something, is that so many of them use Canons (and the signature white Canon telephoto lenses). So, I figure, if Canon is good enough for them, it's definitely good enough for me! ;)

I don't have any "official" photography training. Most of what I know is from reading the owner's manual to my camera, looking at photos on Flickr to discover what appeals to me visually, and by trial and error -- I do lots of experimentation! I try to do most of my photography in natural light, and I never use the in-camera flash.

*What sewing machine do you use? I bought a <A href="http://www.berninausa.com/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTprd_id=845524441868388&FOLDERfolder_id=2534374302025051&ASSORTMENTast_id=1408474395181831&bmUID=1192125341965">Bernina aurora 430 in August of 2007. It replaced a mechanical Brother machine that I'd been using since I started sewing "again" as a mother. I learned to sew as a girl on the machine my mom has had since she was 13. I agree with those who have said that having a nice sewing machine has changed the way they sew for the better -- and the smoothness and ease of operation on my Bernina make sewing such a pleasant and relaxing experience. However, it really is more machine than I need, and if I were going back in time, I might choose a less-fancy model.

I also have a Baby Lock Imagine serger which I use for finishing seams on garments and doll clothes. I upgraded to the Baby Lock after a year of frustration on a 20-year-old (also Brother) serger that I'd gotten from Craigslist. I used to roll my eyes a little bit when people said that a bad serger is worse than no serger at all, but now I think I'm singing a different tune. Having a better serger has definitely saved me time and a lot of frustration. I probably use the sewing machine more than the serger, although they are both useful and special in different ways.

*Do you sell your dolls? I have a whole FAQ devoted just to doll questions here!

*Can you talk more about your approach to homeschooling? I do get a fair number of questions about this, in particular about our Waldorf approach to homeschooling. It hasn't figured heavily into the content of this blog for a couple of reasons -- one being that in Waldorf pedagogy, formal "schooling" doesn't begin until 1st grade. Before that, the focus is on living daily life in a rhythmic and meaningful way, an aspect of our lives that is pretty clear in my blogging. The other reason is that this is not a homeschooling blog, per se, and so many of my readers are not homeschooling families. In an effort not to exclude my non-homeschooling readers, I haven't talked too much about it. Now that my oldest child is officially school-aged, I will probably include a few homeschooling posts here from time to time. In the meantime, I invite you to visit Christopherus Homeschool Resources, which is the primary curriculum resource we use.

*Can you share your experiences about having grown up as a homeschooler? I would be happy to engage in a one-on-one discussion with anyone interested in hearing about my experiences. I do not wish to scare anyone off, but I am open to answering any questions you may have. Sometimes when people ask me about my experiences, I sense that they are surprised and even a little disappointed by what I have to say. Being homeschooled was not a "magical" solution that prevented me and my three siblings from making mistakes in life. But I would not trade the experience for anything, and that's one reason that we chose to homeschool our own children. I'll briefly summarize my experience here as follows: Although I wasn't aware of the term "unschooling" until I was an adult, my parents definitely used an unschooling approach and were followers of John Holt. I was very happy with my homeschooling experience, although my three younger siblings all have varying levels of satisfaction with the experience. Were I to do anything differently than my own parents, it would be to seek more support for parents as well as children, use an educational philosophy (for me, it's Waldorf) to inform our exploration, and use public high school when the time comes in order to avoid many of the issues (mostly around extracurricular activities, not so much social opportunities or academics) that my sisters in particular felt regarding having been homeschooled.

*You have mentioned that you are a Christian. Why do you celebrate the Winter Solstice? We are a Christian family, and most of our celebration throughout the year does focus on Christian festivals. However, I find that everyone in our home -- the children and adults alike -- benefit very much from observation, awareness, and closeness with nature. Experiencing the changing seasons helps my children follow the passage of time in a very tangible way. We began celebrating the Winter Solstice a few years ago as another way to balance out a holiday season that had become too frenzied and hectic. Marking the universal importance and beauty of this time with a bit of extra reverence (we like to celebrate the Solstice by decorating an outdoor tree -- inspired by this book -- and spending a cozy evening before the fire sharing stories and taking a pause from the rush of preparation for Christmas) has become so very special in our home, but is in no way a "religious" observance. I don't feel that it conflicts with our Christian beliefs at all -- rather, I think that it compliments them rather well.

*Who is this mysterious husband of yours? Are you really married? Do you get along? (Yes, this is truly a question that more than one person has asked!) And, yes, I really am married. I do try to keep my husband's identity as private as possible on the blog in an attempt to keep certain details about our lives private. I think everyone has a certain comfort level about how much they are OK with sharing in such a public forum. For the most part, I try to keep our location and last name private. Sometimes, not sharing things about my husband and his successes in his music career feels a bit strange, but it's a decision I have made in order to keep the lines between public and private a little more clear. So, though his absence here can sometimes feel like a glaring omission, he's here, if a bit behind the scenes. We met in college, were married less than two years after we started dating, and though we have the occasional things that we bicker about (like any married couple), we are fundamentally very similar and we really do get along quite well. :)

*Is red your natural hair color? If not, who colors it for you?! Sorry, ladies, it's natural. ;)

More about me here and here.