Monday, September 29, 2008


Last night I decided to suspend my work on this blog until I have more time to devote to making it as fabulous as I had originally envisioned it. With an increasingly active Munchkin and lots of activity in our home right now, I'm working on streamlining my commitments so that I can stay engaged in the things that matter most. This doesn't mean a halt in our creativity. Indeed, I'm hoping it means more doing, just a little less recording (although once I get this camera fixed, we'll still be taking plenty of photos!). I'm looking forward to starting fresh here when our lifestyle allows more free time.

In the meantime, I'm so happy to have discovered flickr for sharing our favorite projects. I'm also exploring memberships with Library Thing and Good Reads (still weighing which is best) to record and review our favorite books. Finally, this little foray into blogging has exposed me to the many individuals and families who are sharing their stories, experiences, opinions, and beautiful projects online. What an amazing time we live in to have all these ways to share in the lives of our neighbors near and far. I will continue to be an avid reader in the blogosphere!

Oh, and for those of you who follow EmersonLouWho, worry not. Maintaining that blog is a priority!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

East Coast Adventure

To my five or six loyal readers :) -- Sorry to have been out of touch! We've been traveling and now readjusting to West Coast time.

Here are a couple photos from of our beautiful East Coast adventure. There is no place I'd rather be in September than New England!

These two pics were taken at the Parker River Refuge on Plum Island. I've posted a few more on flickr. I'm hoping to work on fixing up the layout of the blog and to add some new features over the next week or so. As always, thanks for reading!
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Friday, September 5, 2008

Sonoma Valley retreat

I almost forgot to post these pictures from our anniversary getaway...

Our one-night anniversary getaway in Sonoma Valley.
View from the Inn

Glen Ellen. Dinner at The Fig was delicious.

Chardonnay Grapes from our visit to Kunde. They had a pleasant tasting room, some very nice, reasonably priced wines, and pretty picnic grounds. After a full tasting, we had just enough of a buzz to succumb to their membership pitch, so we'll be receiving a couple bottles from Kunde every two months. I'll post reviews when they arrive and have been consumed.

Kunde picnic grounds

We arrived home to find our happy little girl with her Grandma on our back porch enjoying a lime Popsicle in all its sticky goodness as well as this abundant harvest from our garden.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Crafting priorities and more elegant poop disposal

Hundreds of cosmos are blooming in our garden. I think these orange ones nicely evoke the feeling of this period between summer and fall (although today's triple digit temps didn't make it feel like September here!)

The other day I found myself getting wound up about all the things I want to sew compared with the very little time I have to execute a full project. At the same time, almost 2 year old Noodle is becoming very interested in paints, crayons, markers, glue and the like. So, rather than losing sleep over learning new sewing techniques, I've been trying to make nurturing her interest my priority. I recently discovered The Crafty Crow ,a blog with lots of creative ideas and resources. Although trying out new projects will be much fun, just a few crayons, some newsprint, and mumma's undivided attention seem to bring out our little Picasso.

Meanwhile, there's the less romantic side of parenting a toddler and two dogs: a considerable amount of time collecting and disposing of poop. We recycle lots of plastic bags around here for the this purpose. Tired of the old Huggies box that used to hold our bag stash, I decided to stitch up a couple of these bag holders/dispensers. This project was simple, even for this beginner. But if you're looking for a tutorial, Sew Mama Sew has one posted as part of their Sewing for the Home month.

Here's a closeup of the remnant I used.

And here's the full project. (Obviously this jasmine plant will not be its permanent home, but the light was much better here on the deck!) How elegant! (sort of.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

"2 people call this a favorite"

In the "working world" (I mean the "working outside the home" world), we have collaborations, feedback from coworkers and reviews from supervisors to validate our efforts. There are also the fruits of our labors--tangible products, such as a successfully funded grant or a product introduced in the marketplace--to spur us on.

Of course, all of these projects and accomplishments pale in comparison to the literal "fruits of our labor", who grow and change under our care. Nevertheless, many stay at home parents find themselves missing the collegial atmosphere of the workplace and feeling unvalidated, and on some days, just downright unappreciated.

I am grateful for the other mothers--now good friends--in our playgroup who, to a great extent, fill this void. Still, these days I find myself especially gratified by a positive word or comment. Crafting has given me a chance to exercise a part of my brain that's been dormant for many years. When I finally learn a new skill and complete a project it feels nice to know that it's pleasing to someone's eyes besides my own! I recently discovered Flickr, an online "community" where people post their pictures and projects. Here, I've found the work of a lot of other crafting novices and have enjoyed their response to my endeavors. These pillows have been "starred" by two flickr members as "favorites".

This project was inspired by Colorful Stitchery. Kristin Nicholas has such kind voice as an author. Some craft books bring about in me a jaw-clenching anxiety to achieve perfection. Kristin reminds me of how my mom might encourage me to approach a project--for fun!--and her aesthetic is bright, cheerful, and abundantly creative. I've also discovered her blog , which further feeds my fantasy (admittedly much-idealized) of living and working on my own farm. I can just picture our little terrier mix rounding up the sheep...

All this being said, one of my favorite compliments remains: "You are such a good mom." Thanks to all of you who take the time to share that one with me!

Monday, August 18, 2008

What's this blog about?

We planted the seeds for these sunflowers together and now they are taller than she is!

Becoming a mother awakened in me a drive to be creative. Having worked outside the home for many years, it has taken--is still taking--me some time to find meaning and fulfillment in domestic life. But recently I found myself sharing with someone--somewhat bashfully--that I actually enjoy being a "homemaker". In trying to create warm, safe, vibrant, educational, healthy, joyful, verdant surroundings for my daughter, I've come to appreciate the domestic arts--cooking, sewing, gardening, reading, singing, teaching, learning,playing.

After almost two years with my little person, I can see that being a good mother is a lot about being creative and being open to creativity. I have another blog for friends and family that celebrates the magic of my daughter's growth and development. This blog--even if it just becomes a sort of online journal for me--gives me a place to explore what some of these life changes have meant for me and a public forum to share, and hopefully hear others' observations of, some of the beautiful things about being a mother and homemaker.

Thank you for visiting! I hope you'll leave comments to share your own experiences, too.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Meet Steve

Steve sunbathes

Steve officially "arrived" last night when I affixed his tail and stitched up the hole for his stuffing. (I tried to make that procedure as painless as possible, but I may have heard some grumbles from him when I temporarily used his belly as a pin cushion during a sewing break.) Steve is the first soft toy I've created. It was a harrowing journey (sandwiching in all those limbs was a challenge!), but I am pleased with the result and am excited about creating some Friends-of-Steve with my fabric stash.

Steve's pattern--and his name--come from Denyse Schmidt Quilts, which provides a nice introduction to quilting through some fairly simple small projects. Someday, (maybe when Noodle enters preschool!) I will attempt one of the 10 stunning quilt projects also included in the book. I like the vibrant colors and "wonky-on-purpose" look of her designs.

Noodlebug has taken a shine to Steve, so, unfortunately, I think I'm going to have to replace his pretty vintage button eyes with felt circles for safety. The buttons came from a recent trip to an antique store in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square:

Friday, August 1, 2008

Gems from the garden

So glad to be back on line with a brand new computer! I have much to share but the hour is late. However, I just had to post these gems from the garden.

When I saw these photos of our morning glories, the first word that came to mind was "celestial".

Speaking of celestial (sort of), our cosmos are blooming, too. Several new projects and thrift store finds to be posted soon!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More greens and golds


Several varieties of pears growing on a grafted tree

The pumpkins are finally taking off
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Garden Greens and Golds

I love the yellow/green hue of this time in the growing season. There have been plenty of "mistakes to learn from" during our first full year of gardening in zone 14. The deer, slugs (who seem to love everything deer-resistant), gophers (one of whom has lately been slowly tugging an eggplant seedling underground) and quail (who mined every single little seed I put in the ground in March) have already taught us plenty of lessons. By May, I'd given up on direct sowing and planted six tomato plant seedlings, hoping that the local wildlife would leave a few fruits for us to enjoy. These roma-like tomatoes were labeled at a local plant sale as Italian Gold. We're not sure if they will be yellow or red, but there are plenty on the plant promising a decent harvest. Also prolific are our Cherokee Purples. I've always wanted to grow this heirloom variety and can't wait for the first one to ripen!

These are our merlot grapes, planted by the previous home owner.

Here are the first yellow squash from a packet of seeds we bought for 10 cents at the local Dollar Tree.

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Backpack from "Simple Sewing" by Lotta Jansdotter

A Christmas gift from my mom, this book was what inspired me to rev up my new sewing machine and try out some projects, even if I could only muster an hour or two here and there during Noodle's nap time. Finished this project this afternoon. I'm a little embarrassed that I used the exact same embroidery on the pocket as the project that's pictured in the book, but I really love Jansdotter's style and knew that I'd be most satisfied with the end result if I could mimic that little running-stitched swirl!

I found that there was a small error and one omission in the instructions. One was related to the measurement for separating pockets (easy to figure out). The omission was a little trickier. The directions did not specify when and how to finish off the edges of the casing for the straps. A more experienced sewer would have figured out where and when to do this, but I ended up having to hand sew. I am a terrible hand-sewer, so this made me a little grumpy. Otherwise, I was very pleased with the project--especially because the fabric was a 97 cent remnant.

Other reviews of this book mention that it's a bit short on details. Nevertheless, it's very rich in inspiration. The place mats and the polka dot tote bag in the slide show above are both projects from this book as well.

Monday, July 14, 2008

No-bake strawberry pie and my favorite new kitchen tool

Here is a link to the no-bake strawberry pie that I've been raving about. It's pretty easy as-is, but I skimped even further and used store-bought graham cracker crust. I also eliminated the whipped cream topping. Mike had one piece and I ate the rest for breakfast, dinner, and dessert! (Hmm... No wonder that "baby weight" is still hanging around!) I'm also featuring a photograph of my favorite new kitchen tool, the tomato huller. It cost a ridiculous $12.00 at Sur La Table, but I've used it all spring to quickly remove the tops of strawberries. I also know that we'll get a lot of use out of it in the next couple months, as tomato season is upon us! I like my huller's sturdy look and attractive wooden handle, but I just looked on Amazon and you can get a less fancy one for $3.27. I'm sure it will work just as well.

The showiest things growing in our garden right now are these perfect petite sunflowers. I like them so much that this morning Noodlebug and I planted some more seeds for a fall harvest.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Noodlebug's library bag

Followed two great tutorials on Sew, Mama, Sew! Learned how to do a simple appliqué, French seams, and had a chance to use this great light-weight canvas from local thrift store. Most of all, it's a project that will truly be useful--It's going to be a book bag for visits to the library with Noodlebug. Very gratifying project and lots of fun for someone pretty new to sewing!