Treasures from the past

Today I was at my mom's and I (temporarily) snagged some photos from her childhood that she was recently given by a relative. The dresses she wore as a little girl in the late 1950's and early 1960's (she was born in 1956) were amazing. 

my mom's 2nd or 3rd birthday, 1958 or 1959

This is my mom and her parents (foreground, in the background is an uncle of hers) on her second or third birthday, in 1958 or 1959. I love seeing my grandparents with dark hair here. Beautiful. I have another photo of this sundress, from a May Co. portrait. I love it!

polka dot dress, about 1957 or 1958

I'm guessing she was about one or two here. (No date on back.) She reminds me of Fiona (and also my middle sister) so much here! I love, love this dress, too. Look at the wide white band around the hem!

full pink dress, about 1960 or 1961

This is my favorite of the bunch. That full skirt! The little coat! Her hair! Gorgeous! This is 1960 or 1961.

smocked dress, 1963

Incredible smocking! 1963.

I have more photos, but my scanner is old and not working very well. Hopefully I can get more of these up, though. I can't believe what treasures they are.

We also brought home about 10 of her Nancy Drew books from the 1960's. I read them when I was a girl, too, and now Elisabeth is devouring the first one. I love Nancy Drew because they're exciting and feel "grown up" to read, but are still fairly "innocent" -- Nancy has a "boyfriend" but nothing happens between them, etc. 

Altogether, an exciting day for treasures!

Sing We Christmas, and lessons therein


One of my happiest childhood memories is of standing around the piano, singing, while my mom played Christmas carol after Christmas carol. It was such a happy, peaceful time, and because of it, I also know all the words to at least three (if not more) verses to all the major Christmas carols, too.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but despite the fact that my mom is a classical pianist, and the fact that I have degrees in music performance (cello), my own piano skills are ... lacking.


However, we live in a house that came furnished with a piano, and this summer my mom found these two vintage Christmas carol books at a used bookstore for me. So I decided to start working on my piano skills, with the hope of creating similar happy memories for my own children.


The red book is from 1942 and is in 4-part choral arrangements, so it's above my ability level. However, the white one (from the late 70's) is easy. So I began fumbling through "The First Nowell" a few weeks ago. I made myself a goal to become proficient at one song at a time, and move on to as many as I was able by Christmas.

So far, "The First Nowell" has been learned and polished, and I'm pleased with how it sounds, so I moved on to "Good King Wenceslas" on Thanksgiving. I'm becoming fluent with that now, too, so I've begun learning "Coventry Carol", which is a little harder for me. I'm excited about my progress, though, and doubly pleased about the (perhaps not-so-) surprising benefit of having my children see me practice and improve at something that I haven't always done. (Most of the things I "do" were learned before they were born, so they haven't really had the opportunity to see me learn something so new.) It's a good example for Elisabeth with her own cello practice, as well as just being a life lesson that I hope they learn during their time home with me.


And, now we can enjoy (a few) Christmas carols sung around the piano, just like when I was a girl.

Let it be

let it be

These little prayer flags were a gift from Heather when Fiona was born. I remember looking through the amazing box of gifts -- a virtual baby shower from a group of my "blogging ladies" -- with my midwife when Fiona was about two weeks old, and my midwife loved these.

Anyway, I've been looking at these and appreciating their message a lot these days. I feel like I'm coming up short a lot this autumn. Some of the reasons for this are tangible, and some of them aren't so easily defined. I can definitely use a reminder to take a breath and let things go, though. This NaBloPoMo is proving to be a lot more challenging than last year! But it's a good discipline for me. I actually have some good ideas for posts, just haven't organized my thoughts and photos yet. I'm working on it!

What little reminders are helpful for you when you need to slow down, take a breath, and let it be?

Handmade for Us


My friend Gina made this diaper cover for James recently. It's a felted sweater that she cut up and sewed together on her machine.

diaper bum

We use only wool covers with our diapers -- I felt like if I was going to "go for it" with cloth, I should go all the way; and then there's that whole thing about wool being my favorite thing. And we have many that we just love. But despite being a knitter and crafty mama and wool-lover, I have never made my own.

climbing down

Well, I think this little cover here has converted me.

PS: My husband is on fall break this week and we have family time to enjoy -- and I have Halloween costumes to finish -- so I'll be taking the rest of the week off. I'll be back in this space on Monday. Have a fantastic fall weekend!

A Special Day

Today is a very special anniversary for me. One year ago today, my camera came to me! Wow! I feel like I've learned so much as a photographer since then ... and have only scratched the surface of what I want to learn about making beautiful photos.

Here's the very first photo taken with my Canon:

First image

And a favorite from the same day:

He was 7 months old!!

And the very first photo I ever uploaded to flickr:


Without flickr, I would not have met many of you. Or learned a lot of things about the kind of pictures I want to take. Or the craft projects I want to try. And without the bloggy world, I would not have been inspired to save and save for my camera. What a lot of growth in my real life has come from this amazing community of all of you!

A Week of Treasures: Patchwork

"a practical AND creative craft"

According to this book, patchwork is a practical and creative craft. Whew! I'm so glad they cleared that up. ;)

I really, really love patchwork. It's so comforting and beautiful. I love that a patchwork quilt can be substantial enough to be warm and snuggly and still light enough for a summer night.

quilt block

I recently found (thrifted ~ oooh, I said it! I thrifted!) this quilt, which is quite large, and completely hand-pieced and hand-quilted.   


The fabrics are all so soft and so pretty ... and so old, too, I believe. The pattern is so pretty ~ I don't know a whole lot about patchwork designs, but this one looks really cool to me!

quilt block

I love the character of this quilt ~ so much so that I keep wanting to refer to it as "her" instead of "it." Who knows where "she's" been before now? Or how that fabric "lived" before it became this quilt? Maybe it was brand-new, or maybe it had another use before. I like to imagine that each piece of fabric had special meaning to the maker of the quilt. (I know, a very romantic notion and probably not practical! But I can always daydream!)


"She" has already accompanied our little family on picnics (indoors and out), has been the "stage" for many of Elisabeth's performances, and provided a cozy cover-up for stargazing, and that's just the beginning of her life with us, I'm sure! I foresee summer concerts, fireworks on the 4th of July, and snuggling by the fire as the weather grows chill. Oh, and perhaps a coverlet on the bed?

A Week of Treasures: Kindness

elephant buttons

I met a woman through Craigslist a couple months ago who was cleaning out her craft/sewing area and had some fabric and notions that she was parting with. She very kindly invited me and my two wee ones to her home to look through her things, and was so very generous with her time and her beautiful treasures.


We spent a lovely afternoon with her, talking about everything from crafting techniques to home remedies to modern attitudes toward consumption. She shared the origin and tales behind many of the items that I came away with, like the fabric she used to make her children pajamas in the 70's and the teeny, tiny buttons that were taken from baby clothes her own mother had worn. I was happy to pay her for the things I took, but I hope she knows how priceless a gift she shared with me and my children that afternoon.

pile o' buttons



Lots more photos in the flickr photoset.

A Week of Treasures: Mail

Today's post almost didn't happen ... we spent the whole day out and about, and I didn't plan ahead on my photography! Thank goodness for early evening sunlight!

These treasures came in the mail a couple of months ago, from lovely Eren, who generously sent along these two sweet vintage patterns after I had openly coveted them in her flickr comments ... even though I would never have dreamed of actually asking asking for them. I was really surprised and so delighted when she offered them.

patterns from eren

And then, to top it off, she sent this totally awesome 1970's quilting book, as a surprise goodie. Thank you, thank you, Eren!

from eren

Check out this great photography!

patchwork quilting 1 patchwork quilting 2

patchwork quilting 3 patchwork quilting 4

And, just because I'm sharing some great mail, Amy's book (which I preordered months ago) finally arrived today! I am so, so excited about it! Congratulations, Amy, on the book, and on baby Lydia!

amy's book

There are so many fabulous projects that I want to experiment with in this book. I was also really surprised and happy to see that the scale/format of the book was pretty large.

And I just have to show one of the cute ideas (so perfect for a ribbon fanatic like me), this "Heidi headband" ~ it's too cute!

heidi headband

A Week of Treasures: Birds

This week, I thought I'd do some catching up on a few treasures that have come into our house over the past couple of months. For today, this bird painting from Alicia:

bird painting

Alicia and I agreed to do a swap, oh, about four months ago. I was going to trade some handknitted goodies for one of her beautiful paintings for Elisabeth's room. The painting arrived right around Elisabeth's birthday, and I (bad swapper!!) still haven't mailed my stuff to Alicia. I do have a good excuse. The beautiful item that I made for Miss N turned out to fit my 26-year-old sister (yes, even after making a gauge swatch), so I finally decided to start over on it. Anyway, hopefully to be in the mail to them *very* soon.

The bird painting is so perfect for Elisabeth's room, which, although it doesn't have a "theme", has several birdie things.

This hand-embroidered dresser linen was my mother-in-law's when she was a little girl; I am pretty sure it was her grandmother who embroidered it, and she was very happy to pass it along to Elisabeth a few years ago.

bird linen

Elisabeth's lamp is also "bird-y":


Here are a few other pictures from her room, which I love, and kind of wish it were my room (minus the mess of dress up clothes on the floor):

jewelry box

This jewelry box belonged to my great-aunt, and Elisabeth inherited it, along with all of her costume jewelry, when she passed away 2 years ago.

flag banner

Every child needs a flag banner, right?

window fairy

This window fairy is a favorite of Elisabeth's. My parents brought it back from a trip to Santa Fe a couple of summers ago.



Yes, I just said smocktacular. Wouldn't you?


Although it really feels like a long time since the estate sale where I picked this up, I realized today that it really has been less than two months. I found it kind of balled up among the fabrics at the sale; clearly a project (I'm guessing it was to have been a long-sleeved dress for a 3- or 4-year-old originally) that had been abandoned long ago. It had bias binding around the neck that was ripped, and a large rectangle cut out of the bottom edge on the back. The sides were not sewn together. When I first grabbed in it the frenzy of the sale, I thought I'd use it for the fabric. But when I got home and looked at it more carefully, I knew it would be perfect smock for Elisabeth.


So I washed it, ironed it, sewed new binding on, made a tie. And then it sat, and sat, in my fabric pile as I mulled over how to repair the rectangle cut out of the back. Then I bought a bunch of tree fabric from Superbuzzy, and it inspired me to try the patches across the bottom.

bottom front

So last night, I finally decided to go for it. I cut 16 3-inch squares and pieced them across the bottom with no rhyme or reason. I embroidered an apple onto one square. And then I just sewed it all together.

bottom back

And Elisabeth? Elisabeth was so very excited to wear her new smock to an art class this morning. 


so very beautiful

queenthings secret garden necklace

I'd been eyeing the beautiful work done by Jenny of Queenthings for quite a while before she moved to South America last year. After getting herself settled, I was so thrilled to see that she was not only doing a shop update, but she had created this amazing, amazing Secret Garden project of narrative jewelry. I knew immediately that I had to have one of the pieces. It was, of course, very difficult to choose just one, but I ultimately settled on this stunning flower seed necklace -- which, in her words, is designed to evoke "a flower seed packet [that] had suddenly come to life around your neck."

I really, really love this piece and have been wearing it almost every day! And, because I love it so much, here's another (headless) shot of it on:

queenthings necklace

more birthday goodness

birthday book

Here's some more birthday goodness. Natural Knits for Babies and Moms, a gift from my friend Laura (who happens to be sweet C's mama, as well). This book has become an instant favorite. I am just not sure what to make first!


First off, I absolutely adore these booties. They are just perfect in their complete simplicity. I love the garter stitch on the soles.


Awww, look at that peaceful wee dreamer.


I instantly loved these mittens. Look at that stripey, mitteny goodness!


I cannot resist the cuteness of these kimono sweaters. Oh, so yummy!


And finally, the vest. I never really thought I was a vest person, until I saw my son in one at Christmas, when I promptly changed my mind. I love the subtle striping on this one. So cute! Is it calling my name for Easter?

two of the three

cherry pie

Mmmm. Cherry pie. Courtesy of my mama. (An aside: it's only been since I started this blog that I began to refer to her as my "mama" -- we've always just said "mom" -- but then I found out that she'd always wanted us to call her "mama" but my dad couldn't break the habit of referring to her as "mom" around us. I have been very insistent since Elisabeth was born that I am to be called Mama and nothing else! I hate the name "mom"!)

Anyway, by now I'm sure no one wants to hear me complain some more about my slow internet connection. But really, I've been trying to upload these pictures for two days, and the session just keeps timing out, and I keep giving up. So, at least one birthday goodie is going to have to wait another day.

Thank you all so much for your very sweet birthday wishes! I am just overwhelmed with gratitude. I can't imagine how I'd feel if I ever got 492 comments to a single post!


So, there was no snow on my birthday (though it's snowy today -- a belated birthday surprise from the heavens, no doubt), but plenty of cherry pie and these wool gifts. The pink is locally spun and handpainted (sorry, can't give away where "local" is) and the blue is just Lion Brand, from the craft store, but I was immensely thrilled with Elisabeth for picking it out on her own when taken to the craft store to choose something for me. She knew it had to be "100% wole" (as she says). She also made this for me:

hair tie

It's a "hair tie." Obviously.

some birthday books

This was also a good year for book-gifts. My husband gave these two to me. The left one has already helped clarify some things for me (I have a new-to-me serger), and I already have many plans and ideas for the one on the right!

some more birthday books

And these, along with this, were from my parents. I love taking pictures, I love my camera, but I want to be able to photograph objects better than I've been able to so far. I am happy with my pictures of my wee ones, but I have not yet discovered how to "style" a photograph of food or my own creative works so that the photo looks really beautiful. These books are good photography books, but not quite in the exact vein that I need. Any recommendations?

We had a lovely, quiet dinner out with my parents and the four of us at a small family-owned Italian restaurant where they still serve the old homemade spaghetti, and plenty of good wine. Then we came home, ate pie, and enjoyed the Academy Awards. Because what could be more fun on your birthday than a night at the Oscars, right?!!


So, I'm kind of a thrifting baby. I have always, always loved vintage stuff, but have been intimidated by thrifting for many years. And, well, I hate shopping. (I love the internet for this reason.)

But, having been inspired by all the finds I see all over blogland, I decided to try again, and went to my very first estate sale last week. First, I'd like to say that it was surreal and kind of sad. I feel kind of a responsibility to do something lovely with my finds, having pillaged someone's home for them. OK, with that off my chest, here's some of what I got. (I also got a ton of old embroidery transfers, some buttons, some ribbon. But I am too impatient to photograph it right now!)


The two on the left are very lightweight -- more like lawn. The one on the far right is jersey -- about 3 or 4 yards of it.


Photographing fabric is kind of hard! Anyway, cotton prints. Quite a bit of each of these. The second from the left is heavier weight than the rest.


These four are probably my favorites -- sadly, they're all small remnants (less than a yard apiece).

discarded ~ and found

And my favorite find of the day. This child's dress/shirt/smock that was begun at some point, and then discarded into the fabric pile. It is not finished, and a bit of the fabric was cut off the back. But with some TLC, I think this could be really cute on Elisabeth. 

discarded ~ and found

I may even end up tracing it to make more!

Wild about Wool!


(Fingerknitting with Lamb's Pride bulky.)

As I was preparing yesterday's post, I got to thinking about my love of all things wool. I'm pretty sure that wool is my favorite "thing" in the entire world. Everywhere I look in my home, I find woolen things: felted pincushion, felt beads, woolen friends on our nature table, woolen long johns on my wee ones, woolen diaper covers on my baby (my love of wool diaper covers could be whole post in itself). I can't even begin to go into how many woolen items there are in my own wardrobe.

Wool longjohns

Longjohns by Ruskovilla.

Wool diaper cover

My favorite wool diaper cover, by LANACare.

Nothing could be cozier! I love natural fibers anyway, and wool is the best of them all. And I love that when we are finished with it, it goes back to the earth.

Felt Fanatic

I know it's going to appear as though I'm copying this post, but I swear that this was the very first post I was planning, beginning it on November 15. But, you know, things just seem to get away from me, and then I was having some technical issues (well, actually they were more like Grace-computer interface issues, but we won't talk about that.) So, here is my long-planned, long-awaited felt post.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been fanatic about felt. My mom got my sisters and me started on making these felt dolls when I was about nine, and they became the focus of much crafting and play. Here are three of the 30 or so that we made over the years -- and they all had incredibly realistic accessories from toothpaste to newspapers ... it was very detailed. (By the way, the third one is "on" a bike.)

Felt doll - ca. 1990Felt doll - ca. 1990Felt doll - ca 1990

They're made using a combination of 100% acrylic and some wool-blend felt (whatever we could find -- it seems like the fabric store carried more variety of felt squares then), but I really preferred the wool even then. The texture is just so wonderful!

I also recently got this book:

I'm so excited to try some of the projects in it! The baby booties and briefcase are especially intriguing.

My favorite felt is the plant-dyed, 100% wool variety (it can be purchased online from A Child's Dream Come True), but really, any 100% wool felt is heavenly to me. I love the feel of it, the way it takes color, the complete potential living within it. When I see a lovely stack of felt, I see endless possibility. I have a potato crate full of nothing but felt and felting supplies in our office/craft room. It was my first crafting love, afterall! (Lots of notes on the flickr page.)

Felt cabinet

A few weeks ago, I was browsing the clearance fabric at JoAnn and found 10 bolts of wool felt for $4 a yard. And it was Veteran's Day, so everything on the clearance rack was 50% off. So, I stocked up! It's the 60/40 wool/rayon blend, but I was really excited about it anyway! I love the colors! Don't know what it'll become, but I have a tendency to horde felt, anyway.


That same week I was lying in bed thinking about these, and wondering if I'd ever be able to find them in my seven years of back issues of Martha (which are currently in storage anyway since I don't have the shelf space for them right now. Sigh.) And then, miraculously, there they were in Handmade Holiday Gifts (which, also somewhat miraculously, managed to "fall into my shopping cart", as a friend of mine would say). It was all so serendipitous, really, because Elisabeth & I have been reading "The Shoemaker & the Elves" over the last couple of weeks, and now we're going to make slippers -- I think she and James and my sister's step-daughters will each get a pair; and if we have time, perhaps some for Daddy & me. Pictures soon!

{On another shoemaker note, it also happened that a pair of my shoes needed to be repaired this week, so we got to visit a cobbler's shop and see their real tools. Elisabeth was fascinated.}