1 April


Light snow is in the forecast for tonight and later in the week. But just now I smelled the unmistakable scent of earth and sun and growing things that means spring is around the corner and I'm so excited!

Last week was busy and a little chaotic here. We had a ridiculous comedy of errors trying to get everything done that needed to be. And then we discovered Saturday afternoon that the puppy had destroyed all of my shoes -- and I do mean all of them -- within the preceding 24 hours. She's so sneaky. It's kind of funny but of course not that funny, too, because all of my shoes (and I am not a big shoe person, I only owned 5 pairs total) were expensive. I wear a size 12 and have plantar fasciitis (which is way better now than when it developed 8 years ago, thanks to wearing good shoes), so I have to be careful about what I wear on my feet, and of course, what I can get is pretty limited due to my size. (Being as tall as I am is mostly great, but the challenges come in when you are on the largest size of generally available shoes.)

Anyway, that was a bit of a digression. Friday night found us at our church's always breathtaking Good Friday service. We are blessed with what I am convinced to be the best music director of any church of any denomination I have ever witnessed. In three years, he has transformed our slightly rag-tag group of singers into an amazing choir, who perform beautiful pieces from Gregorian chant, to Thomas Tallis, to contemporary choral works. It's impossible not to be brought to tears with our music director's musical setting of the Reproaches. Being a musician, nerd, and highly religious individual, I fully admit to looking forward to this all year.

waiting for the Easter Vigil to begin

Saturday was, as always, a quiet day for us. We did some minimal prep for Easter dinner and then rested in the afternoon. After the alarming shoe discovery, we set out to the Easter Vigil. (One pair of shoes was intact enough that I could wear them with the addition of a grocery store insole.) It was extraordinarily beautiful. Fiona slept for about the first hour, but was up for the rest, and the other two children took turns sitting in the aisle so they could see better. They were all quiet and did beautifully the whole time. The Easter Vigil is long (about four hours at our church, this can vary), but so beautiful and transcendent. I wish I had better words, but I guess this will have to be enough. We got home at about 1:30am, and my husband had to be up at 6:00 to go play in a brass quintet at another church's services!

(Note: I made my dress, based on some basic ideas I saw on DIY Maternity, using fabric from Girl Charlee. I am not going to take full-body pictures of it because even though I like it, I don't feel the need to share full shots of my pregnant self on the internet. More about my rosary here.)

slow Easter morning

table setting

I love our dining room

lemon water


The rest of us spent a slow morning. Elisabeth and I gradually prepared our Easter dinner in spurts, between my resting and the children playing outside with sidewalk chalk and bubbles. 

My husband arrived home at about 1:00, and my brother and his wife arrived at 3:00 for dinner. It was a sunny, beautiful day, so restful and perfect. Keeping it simple and doing most of the prep in advance made it easy for me and my helpers. I never host holiday meals because generally that's the territory of my mom and mother-in-law, but this year it just worked out for us to stay home (with the addition of my brother and sister-in-law). It was so nice. I hope over time to have the chance to host a few more things!

Last night, I got my three overtired children and exhausted pregnant self into our pajamas at 6:00. I read each of them one chapter from their latest books. Fiona was asleep by 6:30, James by 7:00, and I think Elisabeth managed to hold out until 8:00 before falling asleep. They all slept in until 8 this morning, too, so it was well-needed rest!

Well, this is may be my rambliest and most pointless post ever, but I'm happy, so happy, that Easter has come -- I've been so looking forward to it this year! -- and that spring is around the corner. Soon enough, we'll be getting ready to welcome our baby. What a season of goodness lies ahead.

11 March

finishing touches

finishing up the snowman

snowman's profile


This moment seven years ago, I was basking in the afterglow of my blessingway and heading out to supper with my husband, my almost-four-year-old little girl, and my friends Gina and Rachel. It was snowing then, as it's snowing right now. The next morning, I woke up and had a baby!

In other news, I have been feeling crabby today, had a slight headache, and snapped at my children. It was altogether not a great afternoon. 

Saturday night, after a long day playing out in the snow (snowmen were made), we made my favorite soup, Pasta Fagioli. Or Pasta e Fagioli for the fancier people. 

My parents used to go to this restaurant ages ago, it reminded me of the type of fine dining establishment you might see in the Godfather movies. I mean, it was really nice, but it was definitely that old school, urban Italian-American feel. There used to be a few of those places in the city where I grew up but they all seem to have disappeared with time.

Anyway. If you went to this lovely little Italian restaurant, they brought you out a bowl of this soup to start. My mom was able to get the recipe by a slightly mafia-esque maneuver (exaggerating! I'm exaggerating!), and now I'm going to share it with you, only slightly updated to include canned beans because I never remember to soak mine the night before. Bad crunchy mama. :)

mmm, soup

my favorite soup

Pasta Fagioli Soup

1/3 cup olive oil

1 cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced celery

(We made a double batch this weekend and to save time we used the food processor but oh, it's so much better when you dice by hand.)

4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground black pepper (please take my word for it and don't skimp on the pepper)

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can small white beans, rinsed and drained (Great Northern or Navy beans)
7-8 cups chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth if you'd like a vegetarian soup -- also, if you use reduced sodium broth, you may wish to add salt to the soup)

1 cup small pasta (tiny bow-ties are traditional, or you can use little macaronis. We had to settle for large pasta this time which wasn't quite the same)

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Make a mirepoix with the onions, carrots, and celery. When they are richly fragrant (about 8-10 minutes), add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the basil and pepper, give it a good stir, and then add the tomatoes, beans, and broth. Simmer for at least 20 minutes, preferably longer. 

Add the pasta, bring to a boil, and cook until pasta is done.

Serve with bread, grated cheese, or whatever you like.

Best soup ever.



Today is my thirty-fifth birthday. First, a little bit of honesty: I have been dreading turning 35, for a long time. Probably ever since I turned 30. It seems silly to say, especially because I'm married to someone ten years older than me. But this was the first age I wasn't looking forward to. (Some people it's 30, some it's 40. For me, 35.)

But you know what happened? The days just kept progressing towards it, and now here I am. 35 full years on this earth. And you know, they have been 35 pretty great years. 



On Saturday, I received a package from my friend Ginny. Sweetest thing ever. I'm so looking forward to starting this next cross-stitch adventure! (Also, she wrote the funniest thing in the card about researching hobbies appropriate to those who have reached "advanced maternal age" [what we've been calling 35 for the last year as we both approached this age with some trepidation], and cross-stitch being the best. So funny.)



good morning, 35

It snowed a foot yesterday. Today everything is sparkling and white and beautiful.


one breath

Last night, I enjoyed a homemade cherry pie with 35 hand-dipped beeswax candles. (I teach until late tonight, so we opted for birthday celebrating last night.) I blew them out in one breath.

And today I don't feel nearly as bad about being 35. 

17 November

I know the conventional wisdom of blogging is never to share a big post on a weekend, or really even a Monday or Friday. But who cares about conventional wisdom? This is exciting!





We brought this little lady home today. Her name is Daisy. She's 8 weeks old. We love her already.

Long ago, when she was only three years old, Elisabeth started begging to get a puppy. We told her that she could get one when she was ten, hoping that would put her off. Of course, she never forgot that promise (it was a rookie parenting mistake). Last year, when Lucy's health was beginning to decline, we told Elisabeth that we couldn't get a puppy until Lucy had passed because we didn't think it would be fair to her, whether that happened in time for the magic age of ten or not. 

Well, Lucy did pass just before Elisabeth's tenth birthday but by then we were focused on moving, and far too grief-stricken to consider a new dog just yet. But since the beginning of fall, the thought of getting another dog had started to be on our minds, and we began to keep an eye out. When the circumstances to adopt this pup fell into place, we were delighted. 

Maybe someday Daisy will be still long enough for me to get a better picture of her face. Until then, we are so excited to have her. Even the cat is only mildly grumpy about the whole thing. 

Puppies really are magical.

12 November

baptism candle


My baby nephew was baptized a few weeks ago. I was thinking about him and this beautiful moment, my radiant sister, my joyful brother-in-law, and how extraordinary things really do happen. It's so easy to forget this, to take things for granted, to miss things as life goes by. But the world is full of remarkable, surprising, magnificent things every day, in the details, big and small. I think if we'd allow ourselves, we'd realize that there is more that's extraordinary than just plain old ordinary. 

James and my nephew

Let's all remember to drink it in.

Some baby things

My sister's baby boy was born last week. And of course I made him a lot of presents, just like any good crafty auntie should. Of course, the time spent making the gifts was not reflected in the time spent photographing them, which was done on our way out to soccer before gifting them. The color is kind of bad in these, which is unfortunate. Anyway.

I had something very, very specific in in mind, and I'm so excited that it all came together just as I would have hoped! 




The "main" present (in my opinion) was his little sweater. The pattern is Beyond Pueperium by Kelly Brooker, and let me tell you, I absolutely loved knitting it. I want to make another one but don't have anyone else to knit it for. Maybe my baby nephew will get another in the coming months....



The yarn is Malabrigo Rios, which I love to knit with. So soft and lofty, and superwash, too! The buttons are something I picked up last-minute at JoAnn but have some interesting foil backing so the look a little "crackled". Although I wasn't sure what I wanted to use for buttons, and really went back and forth a lot about it (hence the last-minute), I was actually really happy with how these worked out.



To go with the sweater, there were two different initial shirts for him. One in a smaller size to fit him now, with the "little n", and one that should fit him through the fall, with the "big N". I even had a very specific fabric in mind for the appliques, something I'd had in my stash at some point, but for a while thought I'd given it away during the move! Fortunately, I did still have it, which was a huge relief and I think angels even sang when I found it.



The pants are made of some organic cotton jersey, which I love. I actually hoped to find something light blue and maybe pinstriped, but that apparently doesn't exist, so I settled for this lovely ocean blue and I'm so glad I did. What a perfect compliment to the sweater. 


In addition to this outfit, which was the "main" gift, I also found this firefighter knit fabric (in my search for the original idea of light blue pinstriped knit), and I had to pick up a little bit because the baby's father is a firefighter. It quickly became some pants, and I added the dalmation applique to the onesie to tie it together. (An old Heather Ross print that I hoard for only the most special of things.)



We also couldn't leave his big sister out (wasn't I just making baby gifts for her?!), so she got an inital shirt. She told my mom that it's her favorite shirt and that she's going to get some money and put it in the pocket to save for the ice cream man. So sweet. 


Such sweetness in these days with new babies in the family.

12 November


{unrelated photo of Mr. Popper's Penguins}

Tonight I had the opportunity to visit with a friend I only get to see for about four hours every two years. Saying goodbye is always so hard. There's always so much more to say, especially when you share so much.

I realized afterward, while driving back home, something kind of surprising and profound. I'm 33, almost 34, and I have to say how much I really am loving my 30's. I honestly don't feel as young as I did even four or five years ago. But I realized that this is more than made up for by the fact that I know myself so much better. This is going to sound cliche, but at 10 minutes to midnight, I can't really think of a better way of saying it: I am more myself now than I have ever been. It could be that my relationship to faith has changed and deepened, especially in the last couple of years. It could be that I know my own faults and weaknesses better, which allows me to be more honest and humble. It could be that I know better what I want out of my life ... and it's not the things I thought I wanted when I was 17 or 23 or even 29. I know I'll continue to grow and change, but what I'm kind of amazed by is the fact that my focus becomes clearer, more directed, more precise as time goes by. 

I love that I know myself better now than I ever have. I love that I have people in my life who help me realize this. 

So much to be grateful for.

PS: I love to hear from you! I've been responding individually to all my comments this month ... please don't be shy! Join the conversation! xoxox

3 November

I'm so very tired tonight. I think it's all that candy. I have got to get the stuff out of here! (It really is almost gone, thankfully.) It's been leaving us all a little strung out, I think. 

Anyway, being very tired, I'm not going to say too much tonight.

baby sid

My best friend of the last 11 years, Rebecca (of pumpkin carving fame), had her first baby in August. His name is Sid, and I am his number-one fan. Or, his number-something fan, after his mama and daddy and grandparents and whatnot. (That is the remnant of a little face-paint caterpillar on his cheek, in case you are curious.)

baby sweater1

baby sweater2

Before he was born, I knitted him a little sweater.

baby sweater6

It's the Baby Boy 5-hour Sweater, a pattern I love and which went so fast. The yarn is Malabrigo worsted in Stone Blue, with a bit of Sunset around the neck, just for fun. (That particular skein of Sunset, which I bought to edge Fiona's bunting before she was born, is probably my favorite single skein of yarn ever. It is so amazingly soft and fluffy, even more than usual.) The blue was a bit more subtle/grayish than it looks in these photos, but no amount of tweaking I could do in iPhoto was really getting the colors right. The buttons are from Stefanie Style on Etsy, and absolutely perfect for this project. (Also, I didn't sew them on with the yarn all cockeyed like that; I think the top button was just twisted in these.)

baby sweater3

Thank you, Rebecca, for having baby Sid so I can knit stuff for him. 

baby sweater6

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!


I used to be really afraid of dogs. I suppose I'd had a couple of bad dog experiences, and I'm also just a high-strung person (to put it lightly -- and I was so much worse when I was younger), and often that isn't a great combination with animals, since they sense so much about us.

The summer after my first year of college, after lots of begging and cajoling from my siblings, my parents agreed to get a beagle puppy. There was lots of dinner table discussion about a name, and we finally came up with Beatrice, after the character in Much Ado About Nothing (we are a literary family).

grace beatrice lucy 2001_2

Beatrice changed everything for me. I came to love dogs through her. It is because of her that I have my own spoiled beagle. We used to joke that Beatrice and I had the same hair (with her auburn-y ears), and the same makeup (she had darkly rimmed eyes; I just made mine to look that way).

grace beatrice lucy 2001_1

Anyway, we know where this post is going, of course.

Beatrice died today. I wish so very dearly that I could write that she died peacefully in her sleep. That she snuck off someplace on my parents' wooded mountain property and laid down and let go. But, that's not what happened. She was still fit as a fiddle at 13 (although she'd been deaf for a number of years -- we don't know why). What happened to Beatrice feels almost too tragic to type, and yet amusing and ironic enough to befit the Shakespearean origin of her name. She was killed by a UPS truck.

It's likely the driver didn't see her -- he backed into her and just knocked the life out of her. As simply and terribly as that.

Of course, I know that she was just a dog. But she was a dog who meant so very much to my family. She was so beloved, and she will be so dearly missed.

I'm taking comfort tonight in the words of my church's catechism: "Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory."

Beatrice was such a good little doggy. She surely gave God glory in her sweet and humble little life.

We will miss you, sweet pup.

{Photos here are from Easter of 2001, when my own pup, Lucy, on the left, was just about a year old, and sweet Beatrice was  4. I was 23 and not yet a mama.}

In thanksgiving

I have a great deal to be thankful for today, on this eve of the Thanksgiving holiday.


You see, there is no easy way of writing this. It has been hanging over me, like a weight on my heart, for a long time. With the honesty and encouragement of two bloggers who have shared publicly about similar experiences as those on my heart, I have decided to just say it, today, in this week of gratitude:


My husband almost died this fall. He got sick in July with what we thought, at first, was a bad cold. As he got sicker, and sicker, and began what felt like an endless journey to countless doctors, an unspeakable dread crept into our lives. Carrying on with "normal" seemed the only choice for me, even as his illness worsened and answers didn't come.


In the end, we never ended up with an "official" diagnosis. We found out a lot of what it wasn't, but ultimately, we think it was an MCS-like illness, or actually, more specifically, a hypersensitivity pneumonitis which is being called "trombone player's lung": a disease that only affects musicians! (The NPR article I linked to makes it sound a lot less bad than it actually is, by the way.)


Anyway, this sounds awful, and dramatic, and it really was. But he is well now. He is well! And this is over.

With so much to be thankful for, and so much anxiety and worry to put behind us, we journeyed to the ocean several weeks ago.



As I stood in the icy water, gulped in the salty air, and looked out across the great expanse of the sea, I felt myself letting go of the fear and worry that had permeated the previous months. It seemed to melt down into the sand where I stood. Peace washed over me as I listened to the tide, and played with my beloved little family in the surf.



Again, my children were my best teachers. Even as the ocean was such a concrete reminder for me to let go, and such a beautiful metaphor for healing and cleansing, I realized that my children didn't need a reminder so concrete: they are so present in each moment of life that the stresses of the previous months had already washed past them. What a powerful reminder that was -- my children on one side, the ocean on the other.



I'm hoping that I've brought back a little bit of that peace with me into ordinary life. And hoping, for all of us, that it doesn't take something so dramatic to help us renew our gratitude for the people we love.


Wishing you much love, gratitude, and joy these next days, whether you're celebrating the holiday tomorrow or not.


Sisters, secret santa, and cheese extraordinaire

My sister has an across-the-street neighbor who seems to get a delivery from UPS about every day. A few months ago, I was at her house, observing this phenomenon, and we were both wishing that we had more UPS visits. I came up with the idea of sending one another occasional surprise "presents" to be delivered. We've been doing it ever since.

We have some rules: You can't spill the beans, or even hint, that something is on its way. You can't ask, or even hint, for something specific to be sent to you. We don't have a dollar limit, though we never spend very much -- the point is the surprise of a delivery, afterall. (We both have Amazon Prime, so shipping is mostly free. I know, I know, "the man" and everything. But that's how it is, sometimes.)

We call it "secret santa". Even though it's not strictly a "secret santa" exchange -- afterall, we both know, when something arrives, who sent it. And it has no timeline. But it is a way to brighten the day of a sister.

Today I received a secret santa package. It was the most fantastic form of secret santa surprise: a blend of 80's fabulousness, nostalgia, and, well....

secret santa

Harry Belafonte.

I remember the day my mom picked up three cassette tapes in this Hallmark Christmas music series at the Hallmark store in the local shopping mall (which has long since vanished in the way of many shopping malls -- first with empty halls, then slipping into disrepair, its decrepit remains finally demolished in the last decade, slipping into memory).

Those three cassettes were the soundtrack of our family's Christmas preparation and celebration. We decorated on the Sunday before Christmas every year. It was my job to hang a display of all the Christmas cards received, using that chewing-gum poster tack, around the wooden archway in our 1916 Craftsman bungalow, while the banisters and window frames were decked with (real) evergreen garland, and our funny, tiny (artificial) Christmas tree was decorated.

Today as I slipped this CD in and sat back to knit while my children danced like crazy to Mary's Little Boy Child, We'll Sing You a Christmastime, and Jennifer Warnes's quirky rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentelmen, I floated off on the best kind of nostalgia.

Thank you, secret santa.



pumpkin carving17

pumpkin carving21

{Elisabeth's design and work}


{Also by Elisabeth}

It should come as no surprise, really, that I would be sentimental about something little like carving pumpkins. And I am.


pumpkin carving15

Pumpkin carving was a favorite ritual of my family's growing up. My parents did a beautiful job of celebrating holidays in a very child-oriented way, and we all took great delight in decorating. There were a couple of years missed during college, but by the time I graduated, I was married, and I took a job as a bank teller (my degree was in music performance!) while my husband went back to school. It was at this job that I met my friend Rebecca, and we formed a work friendship. That fall, there was a mandatory pumpkin carving contest at our branch, and she and I collaborated on the pumpkins for the teller team. I remember ordering my Martha by Mail pumpkin carving kit with glee (it has served us so well every year since then), and we had a dinner of pasta, bread, and salad -- a tradition firmly set now.

pumpkin carving4

That was ten years ago, and the beginning of what has been a never-missed tradition -- and a friendship that has been one of the most important in my life. So even though carving pumpkins is a small thing, a thing that most people do at some point and in some way each year, for me, it marks the beginning of this friendship. (I wrote about this last year, too. But with it being our 10-year anniversary, well, I just wanted to share more thoughts on it this year.)

pumpkin carving10





pumpkin carving7

This year, we started much earlier in the day than usual (we try to do it as close to Halloween as possible, so it's normally a week night), and James joined in the fun for the first time. He was so exuberant and so prepared! He dove right in with scraping his pumpkin, drawing its face (he knew just what he wanted), and even handling the chunky, child-sized serrated pumpkin knife on his own. I was across the kitchen preparing dinner, and before I knew it, he had finished carving his own pumpkin. What a joy! Here are more pictures of his process:

pumpkin carving6

pumpkin carving9

pumpkin carving12

pumpkin carving16

Tomorrow I'll be back with costumes! And I've decided to do NaBloPoMo again this year, so you'll be hearing a lot from me in this space once again!

July 4, a tale in photos

4th of july1

{a dinner of fried chicken -- secret ingredient: baking powder!, corn & radish salad, potato & herb salad, watermelon, soda in bottles, beer, my grandmother's cherry pie, and my best scratch brownies}

4th of july2 4th of july4 4th of july7

4th of july8

4th of july10

{rain, rain, rain!} 

4th of july23 4th of july26



4th of july21


a different kind of sparkle


4th of july38

{in the driveway after dark}

Not pictured: over-excited children taking breaks in the afternoon, best friends, laughs, municipal firework show in the rain.

There may be nothing better than celebrating our fortune, gratitude, and ... summer. Hoping that those of you who celebrated this weekend were as blessed as we were.

(Tomorrow the cast comes off and then we'll be camping for a few days!)

In the cast...

Wow, I'm so sorry I've been away for so long. There are lots of bloggers out there who continue to post through tough times -- sometimes sharing pieces of their challenges, and sometimes choosing to focus on other things. I've discovered that I'm not really one of them, for whatever reason. In a way, it doesn't make all that much sense, because plenty of ordinary living (and even making!) happens around here, even in times of stress. But for some reason, I find that I have less to say when I'm under stress. So, there you go.

in the cast

Anyway, having a child in a spica ("spike-uh") cast has pretty much knocked me on my back! Nothing could really have prepared me. There's the constant itching, the ripping at the cast, the inability to sleep. There's the annoying diapering situation. (Though very validating of my preference for cloth diapers!) There's the whining and immobility of a toddler who'd rather be toddling. There's the feeling of being held hostage at home.

There are good things, too. There are friends who have brought meals, cleaned, and come over just to sit with me. There are friends who have stepped up with rides to swim meets for Elisabeth (at 5:30 in the morning!), and to take James out for some time away. There is a little "roly" (a board with small ball bearing wheels on the bottom, and foam and fabric over the top that my friend Meghan fashioned for us) that Fiona can lay on and scoot around with (until she gets bored after a few minutes....) There is the community that has prayed for us, offered advice, encouragement, and support of all kinds. There are tons of resources out there. There is lots of reading, holding, and talking to our littlest girl.

in the cast

There's the fact that we only have two weeks left.

I didn't intend for this to become a whole post on its own -- it was meant to be an introduction to a different post about Midsummer Night, and our visit from the fairies. I'll write that one up too and publish it tomorrow! (I promise!)

Until then!

2009, a retrospective {part 1}

I hope you all are not tired of 2009 wrap-ups. I know I'm a bit late, but bear with me -- I've been so very sick for so long, it's making me feel really behind. Anyway, I have had a 2009 retrospective on the creating end of things in mind for a while now, but I still want to photograph a last couple of things, so I thought I would start with the life part. And of course there's some overlap.


daily creativity


Quiet days at home. Knitting the bunting. Visits with friends. Cooking, freezing, nesting. Sewing. Contractions. Waiting.




More contractions. More waiting. More knitting. Elisabeth's first sleepover (away). My blessingway. My birthday. Fiona Catherine. Bliss.


on the couch in march

Holed up, insulated, babymooning. James turns three. Huge snowstorm. Snuggling on the couch with the baby and lots of wool while the others are out in it. Seedlings.



Stepping, ever so tentatively, out of the fog. Elisabeth turns seven. Seedlings (still). Fiona's baptism. My husband decides to finish his doctorate afterall. Dozens of tulips!


may basket in can

happy may day!

Going a-Maying. Enjoying our yard and gardens. Struggling to find a rhythm. Re-reading some of my favorite books. Elisabeth learns to ride a two-wheeler.




Peonies! Swimming lessons every morning. Fiona rolls over. Remembering to slow down. Roses.



hanging out

Still at the pool every morning, knitting in tow. A rainy 4th of July. Camping. Sewing. Second grade workshop. Catharsis.


10 years

pennant banner

10 years! Fiona sits up. Stress. Exhaustion. Computer break (oh-so-good!). My sister's baby shower. Sewing.


at the pool



Holding on to the last bits of summer. habit. Return to homeschooling. Apple orchard (twice), and apple pies. Classes for both children. My new niece.


michaelmas table

fiona and sweet potatoes


ready to go!

Our belated Michaelmas celebration. Eurythmy. Knitting. Lots of snow. Hot cocoa many days. New high chair cushions, and Fiona's first solid foods. Marathon costume sewing. Jack-o-lanterns. Halloween. My favorite month.




e sweater7

NaBloPoMo. Church linens. Elisabeth's first sleepover (at home). Simplicity Parenting. Martinmas. Sweaters. Book reviews. Thinking ahead to advent and Christmas. Giving thanks. Making dolls.


habit december23

habit december11


My shop. habit (december). King Winter. Helen's baptism. Fun with family. My husband's graduation. Sickness (lots and lots of sickness). Small miracles. Late Christmas cards. Last-minute gift making. Stillness; peace; silence. The richness of tradition. Joy

habit december21

Right now

Awed by the connections we all have: the way my life looks very much like yours, and yours like mine -- we're all in this thing, aren't we?

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Happy new year, friends. May 2010 (which I refuse to pronounce "twenty-ten", by the way) be your best yet.

My next post will be the creating retrospective. And I'd still like to share a few things that we did in December, in between all the sickness. And then it will be new material for the new year, I promise.


Our Martinmas -- and lantern tutorial


We celebrated a beautiful Martinmas last night with a group of homeschooling friends. There were moments that were so quiet and reverent, looking around the circle of us singing together, and there were moments that were rowdy and a bit challenging to manage. But overall, it was such a delight to celebrate as a group. 

I didn't get very many pictures (just these three, in fact, and I was missing my lens!), but the few I have tell a story, I think.

martinmas table

We met in a large park and shared a simple meal (of pumpkin soup, bread, and cider). Then we set out, a merry little band, singing. We stopped at a couple of houses in the neighborhood, and then wound our way back into the park. In a stand of trees, we stopped and I told the story of St. Martin to our group. All was still and dark, except for our lanterns. Finally, a quieter group found its way back to the tables to pack up and bid one another farewell.

small lantern

There were moments that weren't perfect. But it was beautiful -- magical, even.

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making lanterns10

This year, we again made our "go-to" lanterns. I loved the balloon ones we made last year, but didn't want to do them two years in a row (not that my children would have minded!). I thought about making some out of beeswax (sort of like these), but ultimately decided against it because I wanted my children to be able to make their own lanterns.

making lanterns12

These lanterns take 3-4 work sessions. You'll need heavy-weight watercolor paper (approx. 12"x18"), high-quality watercolor paints (those that come in tubes rather than the dry ones in a tray), paint brushes, smooth boards (can be made of plastic, wood, or any smooth surface) for painting on, cooking oil, paper towels, glue, a hole punch, tealights, and yarn, ribbon, or wire to make the handle.

painting for lanterns7

painting for lanterns12

painting for lanterns8 painting for lanterns2 painting for lanterns3

The first day, we made our paintings, using the wet-on-wet watercolor painting method. I like to use paintings that are completely saturated in color for these, so this method is perfect for that. (I took a lot of pictures of our painting day this time; find more pictures here.)

lanterns - oiling

Once the paintings were completely dry, we oiled them using cooking oil and paper towels. (This picture is actually from 2006; I don't have one from this year). It is important that the paintings are completely saturated with oil. You are not going for a light coating -- you want the paper to be soaked all the way to the back. This makes it translucent once dry. Expect each one to absorb several teaspoons of oil, at least. This is really messy and they will need to dry overnight.

making lanterns1 making lanterns4

making lanterns3

The next day, we marked one of the long sides of the painting with lines that were 2" apart and 2.5" long. I cut along the lines. 

making lanterns5 making lanterns7 making lanterns9

Then we glued them into a cylinder along one of the short sides, using clothespins at the ends to hold them together, and stones to weigh them down while they dried. Once the sides were dry, we folded the notched ends over and glued them shut, once again using stones as weights while they dried.

making lanterns11

Finally, we punched holes and added our handles -- these were yarn that had been finger-knitted by Elisabeth, and glued tealights into the bottom of each lantern. It's really good for children to have running projects like this, even something like this where each work session only takes a few minutes. It's very strengthening to work on something over several days.

making lanterns14

I hope if you try these, the instructions make sense and they turn out beautifully! Let me know if you try them. Enjoy your beautiful lanterns!

Jack came to town

Jack-o-lantern, that is.

pumpkins and snow

This was the tenth year in a row that my friend Rebecca and I have carved pumpkins together. Rebecca pointed it out, and it hardly seems possible ... but it seems that it really has been that long! Anyway, from the days of the two of us working together as bank tellers -- me, a recent college graduate and newlywed, she a recent high school graduate and transplant to our state -- to the current crazy mix of husbands, babies, dogs, cats, and -- well, always the original Martha by Mail pumpkin carving kit we used that first year. Always a simple dinner of pasta, salad, and bread. And always laughter.


From fancy Pumpkin Masters designs to simple, traditional designs of our own (and our favorite inspiration in the last couple of years from this book), we may have a friendship that was originally built on pumpkin carving, but it's so much more now. I love you, Rebecca!

contemplating design

carving so carefully

This year was the first that Elisabeth designed and carved her own pumpkins. (Some of these came from our garden, too!) What a mix of pride and terror trepidation there was in this mama's heart as I watched her have at it with the little knives. Oooh, but what joy and pride in my girl's eyes, to see her staying up late with the grown-ups, carving away.

contemplating design


And matching her grin to her pumpkin's:


bat in the snow

How I love Jack and the memories he brings.


Tomorrow: a full costume report!

Plans Change

I had hoped to share photos of our annual trip to our favorite pumpkin patch tonight, but our pumpkin patch plans this year were thwarted by the weather.





So instead, we took a walk on a day that seemed more like Christmas than Halloween -- marveling all the while at the transformation of our neighborhood into a slightly weird landscape (Halloween is still on my mind, afterall), and of the quiet that falls over a place when it snows. Everything seems insulated with downy whiteness -- I love the quiet of waking on a snowy morning.





My dad stopped by for a little while this afternoon on his way home, and shared some hilarious stories from his boyhood with my wee ones.


We tried to stay warm and cozy while indoors, ate snow with maple syrup, worked a bit on the Halloween costumes, and delighted in the cackles, howls, moans, and groans of our little ghosties and ghouls.

haunted house

More fun (and handmade goodness!) here in the next few days.



For my new niece!

One of my sisters is due to have her first baby -- a girl! -- in a couple of weeks.

She and I are very close, and I am so excited to meet this new little one, and to witness my sister's unfolding into motherhood. This is the first of my siblings to have a baby, and I really am almost as excited about it as I was for my own babies. There is nothing like sharing motherhood with your sister. It makes me a little weepy.

We had a shower for her a little while ago, and of course there were some handmade gifts for the new babe from our family. I still have a baby sweater on the needles for her, and I hope to be able to finish it before the baby's birth, but it's been a slow project for me.

for my sister's shower

Anyway, Elisabeth and I collaborated on a silk and flannel baby blanket. Elisabeth dyed the silk (using jacquard dye and my supervision!), and selected the flannel, and I sewed it together. We actually made several of these before Fiona was born (you can see bits of two of them here -- they were the first things we wrapped her in), but we did the kool-aid/food-coloring method which is commonly used for dyeing playsilks. However, with the amount of hard wear and washing that the blankets undergo, the dye just wasn't color-fast enough, and I haven't been very happy with that. So we went with the "real" stuff this time, and I am so, so glad we did. It was no big deal at all! (The silk is 8mm silk habotai from Dharma Trading Company. The flannel is from Jo-Ann, but many months ago.) I wish I had gotten a better picture of this blanket. I really love it. I always seem to find it challenging to photograph blankets, though. 

silk & flannel blanket

silk & flannel blanket

I also made her a flag/pennant banner. My children have one of these and we just love it. I'm thinking of making a tutorial for these. Would that be of interest to you?

pennant banner

pennant banner

pennant banner

(it's really too big to photograph the whole thing at once. more photos of it on my flickr.)

We also included some Weleda baby care products (they smell so heavenly, and the diaper cream is by far the best in my experience), and a few other little treats (selected by my children). Now we just need a baby to arrive!