Thursday, December 31, 2009

mama made something else

You know I mentioned the doll--the one mama-made gift--I was planning to make Cora for Christmas...well, it still hasn't happened, but I did sew something to go with the gift Santa brought her. This drawstring bag is my contribution. But wait. What's inside?

Blocks! I think I love these more than she does at this point. They're Uncle Goose lowercase wood blocks. I do love lowercase, and the font is pretty similar to my favorite, trebuchet. And since it's the lowercase set, they have baby animals on one side. They also have 'foreign abc blocks' like Chinese, French and Arabic.

The doll is still sitting in pieces waiting to be stitched up. Maybe it'll be a New Year's gift!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

cora's first

her Christmas dress, the same pattern as her tiny newborn dress.

I love this wrap style because I think it will work next year as a top layered over a long sleeved t-shirt.

Cora with Meemaw, my grandmother.

Of course, the shoes didn't stay on long.:) Well, I'm glad I finished the dress up in time, but her mama-made gift (a dolly) still needs to be sewn. Hopefully, E will be home early today and I can get it together. If not, she'll never know that she got her first Christmas present a little late, will she? Shhh.

Merry Christmas! Have a weekend filled with joy and peace!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

5 months in photos

We just had a bunch of prints made--photos of Cora from July to present. If you're interested in some cuteness, here's the link. And yes, she crawling!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

reading material

As much as I enjoy discovering a new-to-me blog to read, I truly love reading material that I can put my hands on, carry from room to room, and fall asleep reading. I'm always searching for good reading to get from the library in the form of novels, but not too long ago, I thought to check my library's catalog for all the new crafty books I had been eyeing on amazon. I was surprised to find that many of the titles were available, so I requested them through the library's website and, when they were available, I checked them out.

I was delighted to find that the patterns were still taped inside Weekend Sewing! This book is gorgeous, and I love the fabrics chosen for all the projects. So far I've made a pair of pajama pants and this makeup bag. I'm not crazy about the way the bag is constructed (exposed seams inside), but I love the shape, and it's definitely time to replace the clinique gift-with-purchase bag!

I was also able to borrow Stitched in Time, Handmade Home and The Creative Family. And waiting at the library for me now is Sewing Green. I'm so happy that I've been able to enjoy these books without having to purchase them!

On one of my first OB visits last fall, I picked up a copy of Wondertime in my doctor's waiting room. I fell in love with the magazine and its style, but tried to subscribe and realized it was no longer being published. None of the other parenting magazines really fit what I was looking for until I found kiwi. Have you seen it? It's fairly new (I think) and focuses on natural living and parenting. I also have an online subscription to mothering (thank you, Tiffany!) which is in line with my approach to parenting.

And I have found some great reading in the form of blogs lately, too. And, although I can't read them in bed, I do take the inspiration I find with me each night, and even wake up sometimes thinking of my next crafty project. New favorites are: matsutake: she is so funny and has lots of ingenuity! This post really had E and me laughing. so you think you're crafty: I love the dance show, so of course this weekly elimination competition is right up my alley. And some girls wander by mistake: makes me want my own signature style!

Monday, December 7, 2009

from santa

Remember how I was saying I might finally get a new sewing machine? Well, I didn't even have to wait till Christmas!

I knew I wanted a Janome, and I decided on the DC 2010. It's really similar to Julie's 7330, but it has a few more different stitches and it matches my sewing room! It's been an easy switch, and I'm really enjoying it so far. I'll be back to show off a few projects soon!

Friday, December 4, 2009

christmas gifts

We got out of school early this year. That means, as of today, I'm off for 5 weeks! But even more exciting, Cora is finished with daycare! We've come up with some new arrangements for next semester, and I think we'll all be happier. So today I delivered these Christmas gifts to her caregivers and my co-workers.

These were really economical to make in bulk, and all the supplies and ingredients worked out perfectly to make a dozen, so there aren't a bunch of leftovers from this project.

Here's what I used (based on a few recipes I found online and a bit of taste-testing):
4 c dry milk
1.5 c sugar
1 c cocoa
1 c creamer
.5 c ovaltine
Mix and divide into 12 portions. I used 8 oz mason jars and filled them about 3/4 full. Add chocolate chips and mini marshmallows to top. The labels are from paper source. I love chartreuse!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

back in business

On a whim, I renewed a couple of expired listings in my etsy shop. I'm thinking about adding some appliqued bibs soon, too. I'll keep you posted!

Happy Thanksgiving. I can't wait for the leftovers!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


When I was putting together our Halloween costumes, I didn't want to buy anything that wouldn't get used again. E's pith helmet will become his yard work hat, my stripes were just elasticized 'belts' of ribbon worn over a black t-shirt, and Cora's black onesie could be re-used since I just basted on her stripes and wings.

I had planned on appliqueing the front of the onesie (seen here with matching butterfly canvas), but when I removed the ribbon, I found a couple of spots where the wings had pulled holes in the back. I thought some butterfly wings would look cute on the back and would be a great way to save it. It was, by far, the hardest shape I've appliqued, but I like the straight stitch around the edge, and the natural fraying will cover any wonkiness.

Another happy accident. It made me think: Why aren't more baby clothes decorated on the back? With it being solid black, though, I'm wondering if it still needs a little something on the front.

Monday, November 16, 2009

2 more

I finished up two more bibs last week at our sewing day at Julie's house. I'm having so much fun with the applique, and I'm even thinking I need a shirt with something appliqued on the front!

Using a newer machine (thanks Michelle!) reminded me how smoothly sewing projects can go. Back on my [mom's] old machine yesterday, I considered going on a sewing strike until I get a new machine. But I'm the only one who would really miss it. And I'm the only one who needs convincing. Every time I complain to E that I need a new machine, he says, "OK." But I'm too cheap. Maybe for Christmas.

I wish I had gotten a better shot of the brown and orange side of this one--it's one of my favorite fabrics ever. It's from superbuzzy, a long time ago, and is the floor plan of a house, but with funny Japanese English misspellings, including a "gest room" and "marole" (marble?) in the kitchen. I love it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

a fix

When I picked Cora up on Thursday, I was a little surprised and a little saddened by what I found: My baby had been moved to the older infants room. I knew it was coming, since she was 6 months last week and they were just waiting until a spot opened up for her. But still.

When I picked her up yesterday I was more surprised and more saddened by what I found. One of the workers, in their very best four-year-old handwriting, had written Cora's name on the front of my diaper bag in permanent marker. I bit my tongue and left without saying anything. After all, I don't need Cora's caregivers to hate me! But the wheels were already turning in my head, coming up with solutions in case it wouldn't come out. Luckily it did though, mostly, with shout and lots of elbow grease. So I came up with this removable tag: her name printed on print-n-press, then ironed on to 2 layers of fabric with some interfacing sandwiched between, zigzagged on the edges and attached with a safety pin.

My next project is a creative fix, too--part of Cora's Halloween costume re-incarnated.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

pumpkin muffin tops

These pumpkin cookies with butterscotch chips are, like Joy the Baker said, are a-mazing. Well, I think so at least. I halved the recipe, which resulted in 11 giant cake-like portions. Next time I'll make the scoops half as big to make more smaller cookies. Yum.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

the latest buzz

For the first time ever, I got started on Halloween costumes early enough this year. And it was a good thing since I had 3 to put together. Sadly, a nasty stomach bug prevented us from going anywhere fun in them. I did take Cora to see my parents and today we stopped by E's parents so that Cora could show them her costume.

I loved reading the guesses about our costumes. Curious George is a great idea. And Clue characters--funny because E was Colonel Mustard last year! Alicia was the closest, though. E is not in his full beekeeper attire, but you get the idea. I think we (E and me) might use these again next year!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

go team

Inspired by my cousin Naomi and the big game/party in town this weekend.

go gators!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

our pumpkin

We hit the pumpkin lot last weekend.

And I think we found the cutest one.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

the potato chip exchange

A while back, my friend Tiffany blogged about the American foods she craved and the expense of getting them in Japan. When I sent her a bag of Cape Cod salt and vinegar chips, I didn't know yet that her craving might have something to do with being pregnant! She responded by sending me some snacks, including a bag of her favorite Japanese potato chips--with soy sauce flavoring. They are so good, and unlike the salt and vinegar chips, E and I both enjoyed them. (He wheezes dramatically in the presence of vinegar, and then I roll my eyes.) They reminded us of the flavored fries we used to eat at First Kitchen in Japan. Our favorite was consomme flavor, even though I'm pretty sure that's something I wouldn't eat if I learned what it is.

Also in the package was a stack of Japanese fabric. I love how heavy these fabrics are, almost like canvas. I can't wait to use these for some Cora projects. I have lots of ideas in my head, and I'm itching to get some more time on the sewing machine!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

as promised

I mentioned last week that I had been wanting to make a (short) list of baby care items that I have found indispensable in these first few months. I love living in a small house (less to clean, it feels like we use every room), but one of the challenges is finding space for all the stuff. Before Cora was on her way, we were already filled to the brim, and I really didn't want to add clutter with a bunch of seldom-used baby items. I'm also pretty obsessed with the aesthetics of my space, so I didn't want a bunch of plastic that stood out from my decor. Most importantly, though, I just don't like to buy new, cheap stuff (read: made in China).

Everyone talks about how expensive a baby is, and how much stuff you need, but I think it's very possible to get by with less. You don't even need a crib! So, many of these items on my 'short list' are luxuries. Also, each baby is unique, so it's not necessary to stock up on things long before baby arrives. I wish I had known that not all babies like all bottles before we got the expensive Dr. Browns!

So, the things couldn't have lived without (or wouldn't want to!):
Our slings--hotslings style, but made by me, one that fits me and one for E. Cora spent several hours everyday in one of our slings for first 3 months. We still use them when she just can't get to sleep on her own or when we go out and about.

The bouncy chair. This was the one frivolous purchase I made, based just on how cute it was (and the price didn't hurt!). I have to have a shower every morning, and this is my solution. From about the third week, I propped Cora up in the chair on the bathroom floor and got ready (by myself! It's amazing how such little things feel like bug accomplishments when you have a new baby.) This has worked so well that I'm starting to worry what I'll do when she outgrows the chair! She also sits in it sometimes while E and I eat dinner together. (We still eat in shifts a lot of the time, though.)

A borrowed co-sleeper. For us, having Cora sleep in our bed was a necessity and a pleasure. She was fine in a play yard bassinet for a few weeks, but it got harder and harder to put her back down after nighttime feedings. A friend of mine said, "If someone tells you that they never brought the baby into the bed with them, they're lying." It worked for us, and it does for many people. I was paranoid about having a tiny baby in with us, so this container gave us peace of mind as we shared sleep. Since 4 months, she sleeps in her crib next to our bed.

A swaddler and a sleep sack. Cora needed to be swaddled to stay asleep even though she was always trying to get out of her wrap. This swaddler is stretchy and has velcro to keep it tight, so we were able to contain her flailing arms that always woke her. Now that she has outgrown swaddling, a sleep sack works like a blanket, but she can't kick it off.

A foldable baby bath tub (can't find one online). I wanted to wash her in the kitchen sink, but in reality, it just grossed me out. So this sits down in the sink. And it was really helpful when she was tiny and floppy and slippery!

Car seat and frame. The car seat is a necessity, but I knew we wouldn't need a stroller system since we would wear her on most outings. Going stroller-less has worked out well--I just put her in a carrier and run into Target or the post office. We even attended a few parties when she was tiny! However, I do take Kobe on long walks and had looked at this cart that the car seat snaps into. My dad emailed me a craiglist alert when he found one used. It's not the smoothest ride, but it has held up for probably a couple hundred miles of walks.

And last, not the most fun item, but I couldn't have gone back to work without my pump. When I found out I was pregnant, E's co-worker, who was a new dad, gave him this advice: "Buy the best breast pump you can afford." I thought it was weird/endearing that two guys were discussing this subject over lunch, but I can now see how important this is. I've been really happy that I didn't skimp on this purchase (but I did use a coupon!) since I use it almost every day, and it makes this necessary task as convenient as possible. I do, however, look forward to Friday afternoons, when I can put it away for a few days!

These items plus a small collection of onesies have gotten a lot of use. You really can do it with just a handful of quality items. And for those luxuries, most can be found secondhand, which is great when you don't know how much they'll get used. We have a bumbo--also from craigslist--which is fun, but not necessary at all. I feel like we've succeeded at not going overboard with baby care items, but now the challenge will be controlling the accumulation of toys. I'm planning the same approach: quality, not quantity and secondhand whenever possible. Oh, and it helps if the design works with my decor:)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

two hints

Halloween costumes for our family are in the works. Any guesses what the three of us are going to be? (There's a theme.) I guess I'll have to come up with a prize if someone figures it out!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

just the necessities

This post made possible by my trusted sling:)

One of my fears about having a baby was that baby stuff would overtake our home. We have a fairly small house, and it's old, so the closets are tiny. So I started to think about what we actually needed. The stores had mile-long lists of baby care necessities, but I was determined to research and choose a handful of quality items that would get used everyday. Our friends and family helped us with so many of these purchases, and I'm so thankful that we don't have lots of extras that just create clutter. I'm planning a post on what items have been indispensable in these first few months--for others with babies on the way, but also for myself, so that I have a record of what I considered the "necessities" when I was in the thick of baby care. So stay tuned!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

droolia gulia

Cora has been a drooling machine lately! Some (my mom, the pediatrician) have speculated that her first tooth might be just around the corner (no! not my baby), but I'm attributing it to her cold and the fact that her mouth is always open. Either way, all this drool means her shirt is always soaking wet. With the air getting cooler, my mom had a great idea--bibs. That way, we can easily change it when it gets damp, instead of changing her outfit. Yesterday, we rotated 3 bibs, but that wasn't enough to keep up with my baby faucet. So I set out to make a few more.

This is the first, with a fall pear on one side, and a leaf on the other. Can you see there's already a drool spot on the brown side? That happened during the fitting!

I think I'll make a few more of these cotton ones, but I'm also eager to try some like these with vinyl ironed on. They'll work nicely when Cora starts eating table food. Teeth and table food--didn't I just have a newborn?

Thursday, October 15, 2009


..that I finally finished these pants a few days ago, so Cora's legs will stay warm (if it ever gets cooler this year).
..for a pediatrician we love. They got us in on such short notice this morning, and the doctor gave me some tips for making my girl more comfortable while she's congested.
..for a willing and available substitute to teach my class (on even shorter notice!) while I stay home with my sick girl.
..for my mom, who will take the best care of Cora tomorrow when I return to work.
Having a sick baby is stressful enough. I'm so thankful that I could take a day just to hold her and let her finally get some sleep.

Monday, October 12, 2009

for a little friend

I appliqued this onesie with a little teal football for a friend's baby boy. His dad is one of E's football buddies, and I had the Jaguars in mind when I chose the fabric, but we were less than impressed with their performance yesterday (41-0!). I thought it turned out pretty cute, and it was so quick!

Cora has been enjoying these organic cotton t-shirts and onesies that E's mom got for her. They are so soft, and such a pretty natural color. I would like to get more and applique a few for us!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

rice sundae

I recently read Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton, and I loved how he equated bibimbap, my favorite Korean food, to an ice cream sundae, in that each eater gets to choose their own toppings. We do a version of this idea with black beans and rice, plus cheese, avocado, tomato, onion, salsa, etc.

I saw a recipe somewhere for a dish with all the Mediterranean 'toppings' we keep on hand, and this was my take on the choose-your-own-toppings idea. We each started with a bed of brown rice and white beans and added what we like of: tzaziki, cucumbers, feta, peperoncinis, calamata olives, and slow roasted grape tomatoes. It was a hit. Next up, bibimbap at home!

ps--Thank you for the sweet comments on our photos. We are crossing our fingers that Cora's eyes stay blue, like E's:). Now we're faced with deciding which photos to buy prints of!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

they're up

Meghan has posted some of the photos from our session on her blog. Didn't she do a great job? If you'd like to see the online gallery, let me know, and I'll email you the access code.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

sewing and shooting

Lately, I have just been devouring anything I can read on photography. I so want to improve my skills, and have been having fun practicing what I've read about when I take photos of my girl and play around in photoshop. I think having a baby and wanting to document her childhood is what inspires a lot of people to learn more about the subject. My only problem with taking all these photos is that we have tons of Cora and her dad, and even more of just Cora, but very few of me and the girl. E is a little hesitant to use my camera. I'm excited, though, because we had professional photos taken last weekend. Meghan Stewart is a friend and colleague of Naomi's, and she takes gorgeous photos. Maybe I can learn a little something from her!

Thank you for the kind words on Cora's quilt. I'm still struggling with those pants, though. Ripping and moving the seams was the project I took to a sewing party last week at Katy's house. Hopefully I'll get some time to finish them up when E is watching football this weekend!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

a meatless main dish

As a mostly non-meat-eater married to a meat-lover, sometimes it's hard to find dishes that make us both happy. Last night we had one that always does the trick: garlicky pasta with roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes with goat cheese medallions, a tried and true recipe based on this one from Cooking Light. Well, this dinner definitely qualifies as a meal, not just a side dish.

I've been in the mood for fall-ish food lately, which included pot roast--or my idea of it--last week. While I was pregnant, I decided to eat chicken once in a while for extra protein. We've continued to occasionally treat ourselves to the free-range chicken at Whole Foods ($$, but worth it to me), and so that's what I used for the 'pot roast'. The chicken plus celery, carrots, onion, and sweet potatoes all went into the crock pot. Concerned it might get dry and could use some flavor, I added about 1/2 can of vegetarian french onion soup. It was pretty good, and everything was so tender like I'd hoped, but the extra liquid really wasn't necessary. Next time, I'll just do the chicken and veggies. Is there a certain way to season pot roast? I'll have to do some more research.

I guess feeding Cora keeps me pretty hungry! I'd love to hear any fall cooking ideas you might have!