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!

6 November


It's no secret around here that autumn is my favorite season. I mean, I love all the seasons for their own reasons, and winter, especially, is pretty beloved to me. But there is nothing else like autumn. I will probably write at least one more ode to autumn before this month is out. 

last of the tomatoes

One thing I love about autumn is the food. Tea is steaming hot, soups are in, hot chocolate and popcorn become the favored afternoon snack, and baking picks up a bit. Baking is a bit different for us now, as about 10 months ago, we transitioned James to a gluten-free diet. Our hope was that it would help with some behavior issues he had been struggling with. I was very skeptical about trying it, but it was really a last-ditch effort and we were encouraged by the success of many friends with a gluten-free diet. I was so weary of dealing with constant behavior battles, and I was even more weary of everyone we knew either throwing diagnoses at him or complaining about him to me, as though I was unaware of my own child's struggles. 


In reality, I knew that none of these "acronym" diagnoses that many of our well-meaning family and friends were suggesting fit the bill. But I knew that his meltdowns weren't helping him, and I could see it wearing on my other children, as well. So we were at a place of (almost) desperation when we decided to try gluten-free.


And it worked. Within a few weeks, he was like a different child. It's not perfect, and he can still work on impulse control, but suddenly he was happier, more relaxed, and healthier. I no longer saw the look of fear and confusion in his eyes as he struggled with meltdowns he didn't understand. People started remarking on how he seemed to be so much more calm and confident. A long-time friend (who'd known him since birth) remarked that he seemed more himself again. I do not know why this has worked for him. But it has.


I'm still trying to learn how to bake well with two handicaps (gluten-free and high altitude), and we've had successes and failures. But it's very worthwhile. I'm no longer finding myself crying at the end of the day about a child I don't know how to help. And that means everything.

GF popovers

In this post: gluten-free popovers from King Arthur flour, and some hot tea, apples (from the market), and the very last few tomatoes (from our one tomato plant), just because. 

3 November

I'm posting from my phone in my bedroom, where I've been confined for most of today, laying flat on my back as required by what I'm now referring to as my "broken back" (really injured tailbone). I'm not generally a very high-energy individual, but I'm also not a good invalid, and find it exceedingly dull.

So for now, enjoy some baby dancing and flapping. This is the most "talkative" baby I've ever had, but he seems to get stage fright whenever I start recording him, so we have almost no evidence of his many (frequently loud) conversations. Still, what a blessing it is to be able to record some of his babyhood. Sometimes, technology really is a blessing.

(There should be a video embedded below, hoping you can view it. It looks fine from our desktop but now isn't showing up on my phone.)



27 August

so alert



like jewels

Our baby boy is now just past two months old. He has changed so much in these two months. We are getting lots of smiles and lots of little "chats" from him. He is our biggest two month old so far, at just over 13 pounds now. He is also a baby who has a high level of need for his mama. I've been spending my time just holding and nursing him most of the time, which is fine with me. He and I just need this.

Though the other day, after a long day of holding him, soothing his fussing, and feeling like nothing was helping, I told my husband I was taking a drive.

Driving can be as effective as therapy for me. I've known this about myself for a good 16 or 17 years. I can always clear my mind. Turning on the radio and hearing favorite songs by Dave Matthews Band, U2, and Radiohead back to back never hurts, either. And then there was a rainbow. Within an hour, I was home and feeling much more sane. I'm sure taking a walk could have a similar effect but we live in an older suburban neighborhood so it's not always the best place for clearing one's mind. Slipping out for a drive is just right for me.

Not much else is happening. These August days have been going by slowly. Hot, languid, just a bit too much. I'm so ready for autumn. My husband's classes start next week and he's nervous. I know he can do it. I just hope there's a job at the end of it!

5 August

The week before John was born, my friend Meghan came over and we made a little stack of diaper doublers for the baby. She had several lovely fabrics, including a beautiful, soft velour we used to go against baby's skin. It was such a nice gift, both in the usefulness of the doublers and in the time we spent together working on them.

Well, fast forward six weeks, and Mr. Heavy Wetter needs more doublers! We're still using the original cloth diapers we purchased many years ago, but doublers take more of a beating in the wash and we don't have many left. 

So yesterday I decided to make a few more, using just materials I had on hand. I made four in the span of about an hour, during one of John's (few) naps. (And I took a break to enjoy a Paloma, too.)

soaker making

Two of them are made using two layers of hemp fleece (I had about half a yard of it that I'd been given as a sample about 6 years ago), one layer of terry cloth from an old washcloth (stained with watercolor paints!), and one layer of cotton jersey from an old crib sheet. The other two are similar, but use a layer of wool interlock that was given to me when I had Fiona (for making diaper covers, which I still haven't made) instead of the terry cloth. (The wool has been machine washed and hasn't been treated with lanolin, so it should absorb rather than repell moisture.)

I layered them with hemp fleece on the bottom, followed by either terry or wool, then a second layer of hemp, and finally the cotton jersey on top. That jersey is so soft, it will be lovely against his skin. I serged them, but if you don't have a serger, a zig-zag stitch and then a close trim would do the trick. 

et voila!

And all finished! (Not pictured: my cocktail.)

I'm so excited to see how these perform!

In other diapering news, here are a ton of pictures of baby John modeling the wrap I knitted for him. These are from a couple of weeks ago. He can still wear it, but just barely. He's approaching 12 pounds already! (The blanket you see here was knitted for him by my mom.)








23 July





from our tree

sweater sleeves




before dusk

right foot

left foot



Some pictures from the last couple of weeks. 

I want to thank everyone who left such kind comments and sent loving and sweet notes about the arrival of baby John. We are slowly getting settled. Baby John (what we all seem to call him, like one word) likes to stay awake for long periods of time and just nurse. Right now, that means I'm not getting much else done but that's OK. My job right now is really caring for baby John: "keeping him alive," my husband jokes. He's a healthy babe and everyone is smitten, of course. 

Today he is a month old, which of course I can't believe -- but then, I can at the same time.

I'm doing better each day. My c-section recovery has been smooth, though of course I'm not back to "normal" yet. (But I have stopped googling things like "how long does c-section pain last?".) I've been thinking a lot about my experience. I think I had both an advantage and a disadvantage going into my c-section because of my other three unmedicated, midwife-attended births. Because of them, I don't have the feelings of failure or regret that I know some c-section moms experience, not knowing if things could have gone differently ("if only...."). I knew it was so necessary, and I really felt no fear or anxiety about it. 10 days ago I had an incision check with the OB who did my surgery and she said she really admired my composure and grace that morning, faced with a surgical birth that I hadn't expected to have.

On the other hand, because of my three previous births, I do know what I missed, and of course there's disappointment there. It's been hard to express that, and I haven't really wanted to discuss it too much with very many people. I'm pretty private, which may seem surprising since I write in so public a space, but I usually keep my most personal feelings pretty close to my heart and only feel comfortable discussing them with my husband, sister, and a couple of my closest friends. I think sometimes people think I'm distant because of this, but I have learned that I need space during times of stress or transition. Really, I'm pretty at peace with my experience, but I do have a little bit of sorrow, too -- I think just because things went a way I never expected, and thinking about my uterus being cut open kind of makes me sad, especially with my background of natural births. But overall, I do have a lot of acceptance and I think over time the sorrow will fade.

Those of you who have been with me for a long time know that I originally started writing here, almost seven years ago, when I had severe postpartum depression. I began writing and taking photos as an outlet, hoping that it would be useful to my recovery process (it was, I think). Several years later, when Fiona was born, I was acutely aware of the possibility of having PPD again. My dear friend Kyrie and I even started a blog specifically about our experiences as PPD survivors with new babies. Things were much better for me after Fiona's birth and despite some blue moments, it went pretty well. This time, because of all the disruption that we experienced, I know that I'm at a greater risk for PPD again, and I'm trying to be very aware of it. One thing you hear people say again and again about PPD is that no one talks about it. My observation is that people do talk about it, but unless you've experienced it, it's easy to sort of gloss over that ("Oh, that sounds tough," and then move on). When you are on the other side, facing emotions and even physical symptoms that you never could have imagined, you wonder, Am I the only one? 

Anyway, I'm once again trying to focus on good self care, and a lot of awareness. Though you probably can't always prevent PPD, I do think that self-care is vital, and being very aware can help you catch it much sooner. I'm optimistic, because of the amount of help I've had after this delivery -- particularly with my husband being home right now, and my sister having been very supportive and available, and because I have a number of close friends in the local birth and breastfeeding communities -- that the mostly steady place I'm in right now will continue.

Thank you to all of you who continue to visit me in this space. Your presence and support continues to be a gift!

John Peter

John Peter

Baby boy John Peter

Born June 23, 2013 at 9:33am

8 pounds, 6 ounces.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So many of you have been patiently awaiting the news of our baby's birth. I thank you for your prayers, your good thoughts, and your love over these past weeks.

the whole crew, out of focus and all.

Our baby's birth was not what we expected. A few days before he was born, we learned that he had turned breech. I spent the next few days doing inversions, going to the chiropractor and acupuncturist, burning my toes with moxibustion, visualizing the baby turning, praying. My midwife contacted an OB who delivers breech babies vaginally in a hospital, and he agreed to take me on as a patient. (In our state, breech babies are not allowed to be born at home under the care of midwives, and even if they were, my midwife and I agreed that it wasn't something we'd want to do for a number of reasons.)

Early that Sunday morning, when my labor began, at first slowly, we called my midwife and she rushed to our house to check baby's position. When we realized that the baby was still breech -- and not just breech, but a footling presentation (the most dangerous breech presentation, one that no doctor or midwife with any common sense would deliver vaginally), we made a change of plans and hurriedly decided to head to a different hospital -- one closer to home, and where my midwife has good relationships with the OBs and nurses -- for a c-section. My mom had spent the night at our house the night before as a back-up because my husband had a late gig, so we were able to just leave for the hospital right away without worrying about our older children.

We brought nothing with us. We just left. (Later I texted my mom a list of things we needed at the hospital -- the first thing being my neti pot. Don't leave home without it!) My labor got pretty hard on the way there, and my water broke in a huge gush as we were walking into the hospital. I won't go into all the details of the c-section here, except to say that it was a surreal experience, one that I will no doubt need to process further over time, but I was very at peace with the decision from the moment we had to make it. I knew it was the best, and the only choice. I felt my care was good, and our reception from the labor and delivery team was amazing (and nothing like some of the homebirth transfer horror stories I've heard over the years).

When they lifted the baby up over the screen and my husband stood to see him, he turned and choked, "It's a boy!" and it was a beautiful moment, even laying on the table half numb. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The next nine days. Those were the hardest days of my life. Our baby was born healthy. He perhaps needed a little extra help in the very beginning. This is all very hard to understand, harder to write. After going over it again and again with my mom, who is a neonatal nurse practitioner at another hospital, my midwives, the OBs who did my surgery, and our own pediatrician who has carefully read and reread John's hospital discharge summary, it seems that one intervention led to another, and over the course of those next nine days, our healthy baby became a sick baby. He had three IVs, hundreds of heel sticks and blood draws, oxygen, and more. 


Recovery from a c-section is one thing. Dealing with fear, horrific anxiety attacks, elevated blood pressure, depression, paranoia, and grief over a situation with my child that I perceived to be spiraling out of control was completely indescribable. I don't really want to say any more about this experience because it is over and we really want to put it behind us. I got through it with the help of my very supportive family, a tight circle of friends, my midwives (I've known my primary midwife for eight years and she's been with me for the births of three of my children -- I love and trust her deeply), and our priest. It was finally his visit on Sunday night that gave me the courage -- just hours after a particularly depressing moment of feeling that I wasn't courageous enough to deal with this situation -- to confront my child's caregivers and pin them down on what was really going on with my baby. 24 hours later, we were driving home from the hospital. 

This wasn't the way I envisioned beginning our life with this baby of ours. But it was the beginning that we got. Now that we're home, we're starting to get to know him a little more, this sweet, cuddly, blessed baby boy of ours. So much love and hope and healing are in store for our family. 


Welcome, precious baby John.

4 June




fiona and millie



It occurred to me yesterday or so that this baby is really going to be born, and quite soon (in the next month, anyway). I haven't spent a lot of time preparing for the baby, or for his or her arrival. It has seemed kind of theoretical to me, and with three other children to focus on, it just hasn't been the central focus of my days. Which is perfectly fine, and probably made the time pass faster. But now, I realize, things are going to happen whether I'm ready or not. So we washed some baby clothes, and I lanolized diaper covers last night. I made a lasagna and a great big casserole for the freezer. Some things that I had thought sounded like good things to accomplish before baby are probably not going to happen, due to time and/or cost. But I think the basics will be in place. Of course, there are always the woolies that I've wanted (either to purchase or finally knit) with every baby and ended up telling myself "maybe next time" -- but with a summer baby, there isn't a lot of need for newborn woolies. Ah, well. I have knit a couple of things for this Junebaby of mine and I'll share those here as soon as they are dry from their blocking (happening now).

Tomorrow is my home visit with my midwives, that 36-week milestone that seems so momentous to a homebirther. It seems like once the home visit has happened, everything shifts into watching and waiting mode. (I tried doing a search so I could link to maybe an informational site about what the home visit is but only came up with forum threads. I was trying to explain to someone the other day about the home visit and how it seems like a big deal. Anyway, it's a prenatal appointment that's done at home, where you go over all the details of the birth, with everyone who is expected to be there for the birth. It's kind of an exciting appointment.)

This summer we have a neighbor girl with us during the week, which is such a good thing -- it keeps my kids busy and occupied, and that  is so helpful. And it's contributing a small amount of income for us, which I have to say is much appreciated.

James is going to start baseball at the rec center. He and Fiona will have swimming lessons, and there will be a day camp at our church, too. And then, the baby! I can't believe it. I really can't.

Eleven years old!

Today my firstborn is eleven. Wow, that went fast.

eleven today!

One year and she'll have all the candles in the birthday ring lit! Two years and it will be teen.

eleven candles

blowing them out

I can't even say how I love this shining-eyed, poised, mature, funny girl. Although every year in childhood is one of transformation and change, I have been especially amazed by the change over the last year. While she's still very much a little girl, preferring to play outside much of the time, I have been noticing more and more over the last few months how she is coming into "herself" more. Little comments she makes here and there tell me that she is thinking of herself as more independent ("I like this, I feel that, I do it this way," etc.) and thinking about what that means, to have her own opinions and ways of looking at things. I remember feeling that way, too, realizing that I was me, not just "a kid".

from James, for the birthday girl

James made this card for her. He instructed her to open it over her head "for the full effect"! 

birthday goodies

She's helpful and wise. She is developing more focused interests. She is building friendships beyond "playmate". I'm really excited, if a little nervous, about where she's going. And like every developmental phase in parenting so far, I'm surprised to discover that we are ready for it. It's easy to dread things that haven't come yet, but I am learning that once you are there, it's not as scary. We know our daughter. She's our eleven-year-old, not someone else's. Parenting her has not been "easy" (she's sort of a classic "high need" child), but every step along the way, we have gotten to know her, and we've grown right along with her. I'm proud of her and confident that as she reaches the teen years, our relationship with her will continue to grow and blossom, just as she will.


Oh, Elisabeth. Thank you for coming into our family, for making your daddy and me into parents, eleven years ago. We love you. So much!

18 March

Fiona Sunday Sweater 7

I mentioned about six months ago that I had finished knitting Ginny's Sunday Sweater for Fiona. Oh, how I loved knitting this, and the finished sweater is one of my favorite knits ever. Unfortunately, all this long winter, I have had a certain little girl who has refused to wear it, or any sweater (whether handknit or not, she just didn't want the extra layer), which was rather annoying to her mama.

However, the tide seems to have shifted (I say, ever so tentatively) and she's been wearing this sweater on cooler days lately. Last week I convinced her to let me take some pictures of her wearing it, and was so relieved that she obliged. (It was snowy but not that cold.)

I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking. Details about the sweater are here. (If you are thinking about knitting this, you should. It comes in a wide range of sizes, the pattern is written in a very straightforward manner, the little design details are thoughtful and lovely, and it's a fast and easy knit.)


Fiona Sunday Sweater 4

Fiona Sunday Sweater 14

Fiona Sunday Sweater 13

Fiona Sunday Sweater 12

Fiona Sunday Sweater 11

Fiona Sunday Sweater 10

Fiona Sunday Sweater 8

Fiona Sunday Sweater 6

Fiona Sunday Sweater 5

Fiona Sunday Sweater 3

Fiona Sunday Sweater 1

Seven Years Old!

{Sorry about the confusion in yesterday's post. Today is actually James's birthday, not yesterday! I was just reminiscing on the eve before his birth.}

snowy march morning

snowy march morning

snowy march morning

James was born at 8:40am on a Sunday morning after only one hour of labor(!). It was snowy, but much like today, not frigid. (I love March snows for this reason. Wet and not too cold.) I still remember those first moments with my tiny boy so clearly. It's hard to believe it was seven years ago!



What can I say about my little man? He's so gentle and empathetic, so willful and strong, so affable and generous. He's sensitive to anything "scary", but he's courageous, too. He has strong boundaries and knows his limits. He's smart and sassy and loud and so much fun. 

birthday boy

new book

Seven years with this boy! I'm so thankful for every one of them. He has pushed me beyond my limits so many times, and we've both always come out stronger. 


I love my boy, more than words can say.

birthday boy

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.

1 March

We've had a little something going on behind the scenes this winter. Well, "little" in size but big in other ways! 

We have a new baby on the way, due in late June! It's hard to even put it all into words, but we are absolutely beyond excited about this new little one! 

for a certain new someone

for a little someone

booties for someone new

knitting for a little someone

I've been feeling quite awful, as I always do during pregnancy (compounded by my series of colds), but everything is well with the baby and now, past the halfway point of the pregnancy, things are beginning to seem more real. 

With a summer baby, there's not much to be knitted for those early newborn days, but I'm starting to feel the urge to make things for the baby. I started with this little diaper wrap and moved on to booties yesterday. It is so exciting to have baby things on the needles again.

I'm a little amazed thinking that in only four months, we will have someone to wear them!

5 November



With James's first soccer season ending over the weekend, I've taken some time to look through the scores of photos I took at his practices and games. They document his growth in the game, the change of seasons, and some of my thoughts about my wild secondborn child. 



James puzzles and frustrates me more than my other two do. One thing is for sure, he needs an outlet for his seemingly endless energy. He hasn't quite grown into himself. And just when I don't think he has any boundaries at all, he sets one for himself. Always surprising me. The midwife who helped me with both his birth and Fiona's used the phrase "self-civilizing" in talking about her own spirited (now grown) secondborn child -- that it was a gradual process, and one that an independent and spirited child really needs to do on his or her own. I'd say I'm seeing that with him most definitely.



Anyway, back to the soccer. He played in sun, and in rain, and even once in falling snow. His team won one game and almost won another -- and was totally "creamed" a few other times. There was celebrating and crying and learning how to be a team. And all along, it was easy to see his joy at playing, even though he's very much a beginner, still learning simply how the game works. But it was still so joyful for him. I don't know if he's going to be a "good" soccer player, but I do know that he'll be playing again in the spring. And that's really enough.

3 November

Some photos from today. Swim meet, piano studio recital (James played too, but of course I was too nervous and excited for him—and he went first—to take any pictures).

In between those things, we all went to the rec center and had fish & chips for dinner. Now I'm off to try and catch up on homework.

3 November

3 November

3 November

1 November

happy halloween

I hope you all had a lovely, festive Halloween. Halloween has long been a favorite of mine ... autumn being my favorite season, and all the merriment and make-believe. I'm usually able to look past the scary/gory part, although a bit of an innocent scare is also always fun. 

Anyway, I meant to be here all week, but of course, I procrastinated with the costume making, so I was too busy. Also my husband was out of town for several days and that added to some additional schedule juggling. Today was a day for decompressing, hence the very late post! 

I'm planning to post every day in November again, as has been my habit the last few years. It's a fun challenge. I will probably be posting at different times of the day due to our schedule. I'm not a great blogger at writing a post the night before and publishing it the next day. I usually just sit down, write, and publish a post. So just keep an eye out, I don't know when they'll be going up, but I promise there will be one each day this month! I've never failed yet!

Anyway, on to the Halloween costumes, since I know that's the subject of curiosity for some of my readers! 


This was the first year since we became a multiple child family that we didn't have themed costumes. I have to admit that it made me sad; I was hoping they'd do it a few years longer. But alas, they all had very distinct ideas this time. 

Having read The Lord of the Rings this year, and now being totally obsessed with it, Elisabeth chose to be Arwen. James is in a huge cowboy phase right now, so he chose to be a cowboy, although there was a moment there where he wavered and almost agreed to be Gandalf. At which point, we could've gone with a Lord of the Rings theme. But, in the end, cowboy won out. And Fiona chose to be an elephant. 

More about the costumes:


sleeve detail

train, also a glowy lens flare

neckline detail

neckline detail

For the Arwen costume, we decided to go with the "Blood Red" gown because it seemed to be the most memorable of the Arwen costumes from the movies. Back when the movies were released, there were commercial patterns to make copycat dresses, but they only came in adult sizes, and though there were plenty of them out there on Etsy and eBay, there's no way that the shape of a dress meant for an adult's curves would have fit my 65-lb, 5' tall 10-year-old. I decided rather than trying to make another princess dress and just making it the colors of the Arwen dress, that I'd do some research and try to come up with my own design. I discovered that there are tons of people out there who make costume replicas and I was able to get a lot of information about how to construct the dress. This site in particular was extremely helpful. I ended up making a basic raglan sleeve dress using satin and cotton paisley (with velvet sleeves, which I made smaller due to cost and practicality), and then cut away the top and designed a separate yoke piece. Then I made an overdress (like a jumper) out of blue velvet. Once I actually figured out what I was going to do, I just dove in and did it and in the end, the costume only took two relatively short sessions. I'd say I spent about 5 hours total on it, once the conceptualization was over. I am extremely excited about this costume, as was my little Tolkien fan! She is already breathlessly telling everyone we know that she is going to see The Hobbit in the theater when it comes out. :)




After the slight drama of designing the Arwen costume, James's costume seemed easy in comparison. I found a vintage cowboy pattern on Etsy (Simplicity 5332), and went from there. He liked the picture on the front of the envelope with the more "sheriff"-looking cowboy, so we used the same basic colors and look. When it came to finding a cowboy hat and holster that had the right look, we really encountered a lot of trouble. We went to store after store last weekend and came up completely empty handed. In the end, my husband found the hat and holster at an antique shop! They were a little bit pricy, but not crazy expensive, and in the end they were perfect for the costume. Since his costume was extremely affordable to sew (only three pieces of plain cotton fabric, plus the iron-on stars -- I had everything else on hand), I felt OK spending a little bit extra on his hat and holster. I think it's funny that he used the holster as pockets since he didn't have any guns!




Fiona was all set to wear the ladybug costume that I made for Elisabeth when she was 3 1/2. That was fine with me. But occasionally, she'd bring up the idea of being an elephant (her favorite animal), and at the end of last week, I looked at her and just realized that this was her year to be an elephant. I knew she wouldn't want to be one next year at 4 1/2, and anyway, most of the good elephant patterns only come in toddler sizes. So on Saturday, I went and bought some 50%-off gray fleece and a zipper, and decided to make the elephant. Mondays are my teaching day and generally busy for us, so I had to wait until Tuesday to start. Since we were also having our friends over for our annual pumpkin carving party that night, I had to cook and get the house ready, too, so I was only able to work on the costume for a couple of hours on Tuesday. On Wednesday, after running some errands, I spent about 3 1/2 to 4 hours working on it, and I finished it in plenty of time to take pictures. Although I didn't want to be so last-minute on the costumes this year, I am so glad I made this costume. She was my cutest and most enthusiastic trick-or-treater this year and it was so worth it to see her skipping along down the sidewalk, proudly showing off her costume, lifting the trunk and trumpeting. I wish I had more pictures of her wearing it but she was much too excited to stand still for photos! (The pattern I used for this costume was also found on Etsy, and it was McCall's 8938, a 1990's Tom Arma deal. It looks impressive, and while it did have more hand-sewing than I would've liked, it was actually quite straightforward to put together, especially if you're experienced with sewing from commercial patterns, as I am. It was also nice that the only pieces that had been cut in the pattern were the elephant pieces! It saved me a lot of time!)

I highly recommend buying vintage and used sewing patterns from Etsy (or eBay). Even by the time you pay for shipping, it's usually a savings over buying a new pattern at a craft store, and it's my opinion that the older patterns (especially pre-1980) are really a lot better in almost every way. They don't cut corners the way many contemporary patterns do. I think sewing from a commercial pattern is really the best way to learn to sew well, to learn techniques that you otherwise wouldn't, and to learn the hows and whys of garment construction. 

fiona's in the center

We had a completely fun and delightful Halloween in every way this year. Although I haven't talked about it very much here, I still don't feel completely settled or "home" in our new house. I think it's just because of the sheer amount of work we've had to put in and the amount that still remains to be done. But spending our first holiday here felt like a chisel knocking away some of my reluctance to feel settled. Home. This is home. I'm amazed and glad in my soul.

Lunch Week: Thursday

Day 4: Tortilla pizzas

cheese pizza

First of all, it snowed, a real snow, last night.


winter! it's just around the corner!

on the apple tree

snow play

Somehow snow just makes everything feel better, doesn't it?

Today's lunch doesn't seem very snow day-ish, but oh, well. 

Tortilla pizzas have been a staple for us for a long time. It's a thing that everyone loves for a while and then gets tired of for a while, so it goes in and out of rotation a lot. But they are very simple.

pizza - before baking

Here's my method:

I like to use whole grain tortillas. These are made locally and are so soft and delicious for just about anything. Of course, you can use any tortilla you have on hand.

Sometimes I make a little marinara sauce on the stove, an old-fashioned "alla marinara" (1/4 olive oil, several tablespoons minced garlic, some oregano, and chopped tomatoes), sometimes I use pasta sauce (homemade or from a jar), and sometimes, like here, I just spread some olive oil, garlic, and diced tomatoes right on the tortilla. (You can use fresh or canned tomatoes, these are canned.)

After the tomatoes, I add a few toppings, depending on what we have on hand. Here, I used sliced mushrooms and some roughly chopped black olives. One of the pizzas was just cheese, just in case.

before baking

For cheese, I just grate up some of whatever we have. Gouda cheese is good on these! So is cheddar or muenster. Probably just about any cheese would be good! If you have some fresh mozzarella on hand, slices of that are the best.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. If desired, you can throw some fresh greens on top, or sprinkle with some dried herbs before or after baking ... this is really a flexible meal. Like scrambled eggs, I really feel like pizza is something that just about anything can be thrown on!


I saved our VERY favorite lunch for tomorrow, so I hope you'll join me! 

Please keep sharing your favorite lunch ideas, either in the comments here or link to your own lunch posts!