8 November

sweater 3

I've been knitting really sporadically lately, so in lieu of any kind of finished object made by me, I thought I'd share pictures of baby John in a sweater knitted by someone else. 

sweater 4

A very sweet blog reader of mine from the Netherlands sent along a whole stack of handknits for John, and this sweater is one of my favorite baby things ever. I know the pattern is this one, although I don't know what yarn she used. The orange is so suited to my brown-eyed baby.

sweater 5

I love that he can wear some handknits this autumn even though I'm a bit remiss in completing any knitting lately!

sweater 2

Baby John sure is happy about it, too. Thank you, Mirjam!

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.



Mama. It's a big word, for being so small. And it's a big job: so scary, uncertain, frustrating, maddening.

You have a new baby. You're filled with love -- and other emotions, too. Emotions as complicated and delicate as the hormones of pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. The emotions, like the hormones, are interconnected and complex.

Your baby grows. You are still filled with love -- and all the other emotions, too. Every day brings new fears, and new jubilation.

Your child stumbles. You stumble. But you go on, motivated by this incredible love for your child. It never gets any easier, this loving, stumbling, getting up and going on.

But you know -- you just know -- in your heart of hearts, in your mama-heart, that this is your path. This is what you were meant to do. This child? This child is your greatest gift -- the greatest gift you have been given, and also your greatest offering to the world.

I've been thinking about my mama-life a lot lately. As my babe reaches three-quarters of a year next Thursday. As I ponder the upcoming holidays, and the gifts I hope to give my children -- beyond what they will find under the tree on Christmas morning.

My job as a mama has been harder, in some ways, this fall than it has ever been. And in so many other ways -- some of them, I know, still hidden from sight -- it has been incredibly, richly blessed.

I needed something, some little thing, to commemorate this -- all of this -- my growth, my struggles, all of it.

So when the opportunity arose for me to choose one of Lisa Leonard's beautiful pieces  a couple of weeks ago, my eyes and heart kept leading me back to this one:


Hand holder. Dream soother. Love giver.

Yes. All that, and so much more. Thank you, Lisa. It couldn't have come at a better time.


(This mama necklace is a limited edition piece. It's so incredibly beautiful and well-made -- the details are perfect! If you're not familiar with Lisa's beautiful work, and beautiful family, please go check her out. I can't think of a more generous, gracious mama.)

So Many Reasons to Love Pink

Pink is my favorite color. I really love a lot of colors, and I love the way colors play with one another. But I am devoted to pink. And there have been such a lot of good reasons to love pink around here over the last few weeks.



Peonies in our yard! (Now faded, but I'm still reveling in their memory.)



This amazing sweater gifted to us by Kyrie. If you're one of the more than 400 people who have viewed it (or the more than 80 who have faved it!) over on her Ravelry page, or if you've been following along at near:far almost from the beginning, you'll certainly recognize it. She knitted it during her pregnancy for her own baby, and I loved it so much that she sent it to me. I am so, so grateful for this gift for so many reasons.



Roses from our garden.


Washcloths. I've knitted four of these (in pink) recently and love them for wiping little hands and faces.

little pink girl

And most especially, this wee pink girl.



Today is my big birthday. 30!

from elisabeth

gifts from nature via my girl

embroidery by my girl

embroidery by Elisabeth -- a very tiny tulip, because they're my favorite

birthday eve

dusk on the eve of my birthday


THIRTY roses from my husband

My big day, and my husband and I both feel pretty yucky. He's much sicker; he came home from work this morning after about 40 minutes. We've been lying low. Birthday plans for tonight have been postponed until tomorrow, in hopes that we'll both be feeling better.


But, I had to post at least a little something today. And do I ever have a little something to show! I'm left a little speechless by this, but I received a collaborative gift in the mail today from Alicia, Emily, Erin, and Sarah. These women are talented and generous and simply awe-inspiring. I am stunned by what they sent.


It's a book. A book that Sarah made, and hinted about here. (I can't believe that was for me!)

the sight of stars makes me dream...

photograph and quote shared by Emily

Each of them shared a little something with me. I am touched and amazed and ... well, I can't think what to say. A little teary. This is what I was talking about with regard to blog friends!


watercolor and ink by Alicia (isn't her handwriting beautiful?)

just ... thirty

photograph and watercolor & ink by Alicia

30 things

30 things that Erin loves about me?!

"thirty and one to grow on"

"thirty plus one to grow on" by emily

sparkle ... and treasure

photographs by Sarah

I wanted to share more photos of the pages of the book, but my photos of their photos weren't turning out as well as I'd like.

Anyway, despite feeling somewhat yucky, this has been such a sweet, sweet day. Such a way to welcome my thirties! Thank you all!

on blogging

This post is going to run the risk of getting all sentimental (and there is a glass of wine at my right hand as I type this), but I am just so touched and honored and excited about the very real connections I've made over the last year and a bit with some of you amazing bloggers.

marshmallows from emily!

When I was a girl, I had a lot of pen pals. In France, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic, and several US states. Most of them were with other children (and later teens) that I never met in person. But we learned and shared so much through those letters. It was such a meaningful experience for me -- so much so, that I still have all the letters in a box at my parents'.

Fast forward 15 years, to blogging. Today was a super hard day for me. The house hunting is not going well. It seems that everything we can afford is just ... well, not really appropriate for a family. When it says "perfect for students" in the ad, that's a bad sign. Or when you step into a house and you're pretty sure there's dried vomit on the wall. We looked at five houses today, and not one of them was anywhere I'd feel comfortable with my children running around in. Indoors or out. But my day was sweetened so, so very much by a silly (in the best of ways) back-and-forth exchange with Kirsten about Pride and Prejudice. It was nice, after looking for hours at the same house listed over and over again on all the different websites, to pop into my email and have something to laugh about. So, thank you, Kirsten.

from emily

And then there was the sweet package, in more than one way, sent by Emily last week for Valentine's Day. My children were over the moon about the little packets of goodies just for them. And she sent the marshmallows (above), which were so light and fluffy and pillowy and sweet and just everything a marshmallow should be. And then, she sent these beautiful goccoed cards. I tucked one into my husband's bag before he left town on Friday, and he was not only glad to have a note from me while he was away (I admit that I do this every time he goes out of town, though), but he was also amazed by the card. He knows what's good. And I was blown away by Emily's generosity and sweetness and just the amazing goodness of having met her.

emily's card

There is the criticism about blogging -- saying that when we spend time building relationships with "computer friends" and living in "virtual worlds", we're not building relationships with people in our real lives, or living in our own real worlds. I understand this point. I really do. But I have to say that blogging, for me, has been a way to motivate myself in my actual life (would I have anything great to share here if I weren't really doing it?), and honestly, we are living in a world that is becoming more and more technolically-driven. Whether we like it or not, "community" is coming to be defined in different ways. So, no, I don't know Emily and Kirsten "in the flesh." But these were real connections, that I really needed in that exact moment, I'll add. Blogging friends are real friends.


So, thank you wonderful blogging friends. For your lovely comments that make me smile or pick me up when I'm having a down day. For all of your inspiring blogs, and the commitment that it takes to keep them up. I would just love to share a cup of hot chocolate with one of Emily's marshmallows in it with you right now. Except they're all eaten up. ;)

Some Etsy love

{First, I wanted to thank all of your for your amazing and thoughtful responses to my request on Tuesday. This community just blows me away all the time! I will certainly give you all an update about how my talk goes -- it's actually in May, but I'm trying to get a head start on preparing for it.}

I am quite remiss in sharing some Etsy goodies that have made their way into our house over the past several months.

A lot of them have come our way from Erin's lovely shop. Erin and I have become such good friends over the last 6 months or so, and I find that she has the exact same taste as me in so many things (except the color pink, which I love and she doesn't). Her style is so simple, classic, and, well, exactly what I love, too. So, I've been buying pants from her for my wee ones at every turn.

bluebirdbaby cords

These two great pairs of cords were for James, with adorable pockets.

on the move

I don't find photographing pants on moving toddlers to be all that easy.


And then, Elisabeth requested a pair of jeans with matching pockets, and Erin obliged with beautiful results.


Both children also have some Christmas tree appliqued turtlenecks from Erin, but they are constantly in some state of laundry, so I wasn't able to get photos for this post. :(

Super Organized Wallet

This fantastic "Super Organized Wallet" came my way from Dogwood Lane about 6 months ago, and I rotate it with the lovely one from Erin. They are both perfect for different circumstances, so I love having both. Sally was so sweet to do business with, and I was her 100th customer, so she sent me an adorable "extra", as well. So sweet.

inside the Super Organized Wallet

And there's this Artist Tote from Alicia's shop. Alicia has also come to be a very dear friend, almost since the beginning of my blog. She was the first person to link to my site. :) I simply cannot say enough about the quality of Alicia's work. The tote is really amazing. And it's lined with a batting of some sort, so I've found it really handy to use for a simple camera carry when I don't need more than one lens. The notebook that she included (covered with matching fabric!?!) is never far away from me ... I'm constantly jotting something or other down. Thank you, sweet Alicia.

artist tote

I've also been picking up vintage buttons on Etsy here and there when I see some that I just need -- here are a few I've found around (there are always different ones popping up in all sorts of different Etsy shops -- they're so much fun to look for!):

vintage buttons

Finally, this print made its way to me (way back in September) all the way from France -- via the lovely Julia of lineanongrata. It's just waiting to be framed ... still ... and this photo does not do it justice in any way. It is simply exquisite.

Make Words Grow print

I also have to mention that my dear friend Rebecca has started her own Etsy shop full of her original handmade cards. Her work is beautiful and full of care, if I do say so myself.

one of my friend's offerings

So, get yourself over to Etsy and have some fun perusing some of the just incredible things that artists and craftspeople are creating. Amazing, amazing, amazing.


Since I posted Elisabeth's new hat yesterday, I thought it might be nice if I shared a couple of other hats I knitted in the last year. One was for Alicia's sweet N, and I posted about it here. Alicia posted about it here. Here's one more photo of my wee one wearing it, which I'm posting just to remember the amazing greenness of only a few months ago. (The hat and other items were swapped for this amazing painting for Elisabeth.)

And Erin and I did a swap in November. She has posted about our swap here and here, and I've been feeling terrible about not sharing about it from my end yet.


She sent two adorable Market Totes for my children. A cherry-appliqued one for Elisabeth, and a tomato-appliqued one for James. They hang on hooks by our front door, always at the ready to come out with us on an adventure, or for some important "toting" around the house.

And she didn't leave the mama out, either! I have really loved the clutch that she designed especially for me.

my clutch ~ designed just for me!

It's really one of my favorite accessories, with all that pink and brown and Joel Dewberry fabric and the fairy flying the kite on the back. Wow. (You can see more of that in Erin's post.) Right now it's where I'm stashing my Tilted Duster money. (Ssssh!)

For Erin's sweet little one, I knitted this hat, which I must say is one of my favorite handknits to date. I always get a broad smile when I see it in one of Erin's photos.

Here it is on my little model, back in late November. I remember this day so well -- he was so unhappy, and such an unwilling model that afternoon. It was really tough to convince him to let me get just a few pictures. He managed to smile a few times for me, for which I was so grateful and I remember just thinking how blessed I am to have such a sweet wee one in my life; so willing to try something to help his mama, and so generally cheerful.

cassiemarie yarn

The hat is knitted using some handspun, hand-dyed yarn from cassiemarie. I was so happy with this yarn, and Cassie was so sweet to do business with. I will definitely buy yarn from her again!

The pattern is The Little Flap Cap #109 by Cabin Fever, another super quick, easy, and fun pattern. I modified it slightly (to give it that elfin point) by only working the decreases at the crown until I had about eight stitches or so left, and then knit about five rows plain (I think -- don't quote me on that). I also omitted the colorwork that was in the original pattern since I was using that beautiful variegated/self-striping yarn.

Then I lined the hat using a buttery-hued, lightweight, soft cotton knit. (The fabric was actually a crib sheet that we'd had for 5 1/2 years and never used since our children don't know what cribs are.) You can see the lining in this picture of the hat on the head of the doll Sally, who had no body at that time. ;)

I love how this particular hat goes down so far on the neck -- I thought it looked a teensy bit odd as I knitted it, but once it was on an actual child, I realized how fantastic it would be to keep a little neck warm!

OK, I know it's been about a million photos (and links! the links!) in this post, so I'll just top with this last one:

But I won't end this post without first wishing a happy fifth and seventh birthday to the children of two sweet bloggy friends! Happy day, little ones! (And to you mamas, too.)

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.



Your eyes are not deceiving you. That is a high-speed modem to go with the broadband internet that my husband ordered just to be nice to me, even though we can't really afford it. We're going to make a few changes in order to afford it. But I am so excited! Wow! Hopefully this will mean I'll be posting here with more regularity. ;)

Thank you, sweetie.

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

lunch fun

lunch 1

Months ago, when Amanda first put placemats up in her Etsy shop, I really fell in love with the "winter bird" ones. They sold, of course, while I was still trying to make a decision. I emailed Amanda, and she graciously agreed to make some more for us after the holidays (which was super kind because she normally does not take custom orders). Anyway, they came quite a while ago, and I've just been behind in sharing them. (We got two.)

Elisabeth has been enjoying using them for her lunch. (These lunch shots are from two different days. I know it's hard to tell since she apparently has the same thing every day.)

lunch 2

Elisabeth really loves the fact that her little bowls and cup fit so perfectly over the little circles on the left-hand side of the mat, and the fact that the (very pretty!) napkin has its own pocket.

Oh, and regarding our lunches, because I think you'll ask ... we seem to have soup on most days (generally leftover, but canned on occasion). In these photos, she's also enjoying cherry tomatoes, pears, and Annie's bunny crackers.

I lied.

OK, I really intended to be back after my last post, and here it is, 12 days later, with nothing to show for it. We did have a brief stint with a stomach virus, but really my only actual excuse is that I am finding that getting into the habit of blogging daily is harder than I thought. Although that's supposed to be the point of this venture: making it a habit.

Also, I'm fearing camera withdrawal, so I haven't sent it yet, even though it's covered under warranty and everything.

So, here is some of my good mail from last month. I ordered these beautiful pieces from the sweet Poppy of GroovyGlassGirl, and I really love them.

Groovy Glass Girl: ornaments

I just love these ornaments so much, and I was going to keep them out all year, but somehow they did go into the box with the others -- and that's OK, too. They'll be a lovely surprise next year!

Groovy Glass Girl: bracelet

This bracelet! Sigh. I should probably get out the thesaurus because "listening" to me go on about how much I love this is probably irritating and definitely redundant! But I do truly love it.

Groovy Glass Girl: earring

And finally, these great earrings, which I found using the shop-by-color tool on Etsy. Even though James is at an age where he pulls on my earrings relentlessly and I really can't wear danglies. But I love them anyway.

I do have more mail to show off and lots of other stuff to post about ... so hopefully I'll get myself "back on track" here! ;)

Mail makes me happy

I received these lovelies in the mail TWO months ago now ... and I have been saving them, knowing in the back of my mind that a new blog would come along at some point this fall.


First was this beautiful note of encouragement from a dear friend during a week that I was really struggling. It was so thoughtful of her, and the woman in the painting (Bocca Baciata [Lips That Have Been Kissed] by 19th century British painter Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti) looks mysteriously like me!


And, on the same day, I also received this wonderful package from my best friend from college. I love the necklace, especially the way she did the hardware (could I love one thing about this necklace more than any other? It's all so beautiful: the colors -- it's a bit hard to tell in the picture, but it's three shades of green -- the braided strands ... sigh). It was wrapped in that sweet little envelope, and came with the beautiful handmade card. Also in the package was some new music (Sympathique  and Hang on Little Tomato by Pink Martini, Tanto Tempo by Bebel Gilberto, Blacklisted and Fox Confessor Brings the Flood by Neko Case, and The Greatest by Cat Power). Such fun!

mail mail