a good bit of winter, just in the nick of time

Appalachian winter vacation

Appalachian winter vacation

Appalachian winter vacation

Appalachian winter vacation

Appalachian winter vacation

Appalachian winter vacation

Just returned from a week in the mountains in a cabin without an internet connection. It was just what we needed - a taste of real winter. Being snowed in takes on a whole new level of excitement with little ones around. There was much sledding (Finn says sledding is the most wonderful thing in his WHOLE LIFE.) There was game after game after game. There was plentiful "galimoto-ing," as the boys call it. 

Appalachian winter vacation

Being away from home without all of the independent activities I have set up at the house was intense yet enjoyable, especially with my dear husband at my side. I did have a tad bit of leisure time while there, and it was blissfully spent learning how to carve stamps. More on that tomorrow!

It's good to be back. It's full-blown springtime back at our house!

and he's (almost) two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

My dear little Lachlan,

Tomorrow, February 27, it will have been two years since I first gazed into your calm eyes. Two years since you had your one and only nursing session. Two years since the bright room full of specialist onlookers waited for you to pink up, then take you away while I lay there, dizzy with oxytocin and yearning for you. Daddy was with you as much as he could be. I didn't sleep but for little spurts in the blue lounge chair in the pediatric cardiology ICU. Your brow was swollen and blue, your nose a bit bruised, too. I'm not sure any other heart baby in that ICU was near your whopping nine pounds.

Two days later, we kissed your unscarred chest and they wheeled your bassinet to the operating room. We held it together until we couldn't see you anymore, then we collapsed and wailed in a dark family waiting room. Other people ate breakfast while you were under. I just thought that was weird, but life does go on, somewhere, doesn't it?

And life went on for you, in the most amazing of ways. You emerged from surgery, had some ups and downs, but mostly ups, in your recovery, then we were home (only after having been told by a geneticist that you were missing a miniscule piece of one of your chromosomes, which could make you prone to autism.) I carried that worry with me. The fear of your second surgery. The fear of your genome print-out. 

Yet you smiled. You cooed. You were oh-so-easy (except for the nursing/feeding thing.) But look at you now! Two years later, you have a husky little voice, speak in eloquent sentences, memorize entire songs, run along behind your brother, and eat phenomenally well, I must say. No one on the street would guess that you still have half a heart, and that your blood oxygenation is at 80% of normal.

What you are is a wonder. A medical wonder, a human wonder. You are hilarious, spunky, cheerful, and wise.

At two, you like reading books, singing, playing with cars, "washing" the dishes, and being with your Mima and Papa. You occasionally like your brother, who will occasionally play cars with you. You are starting to engage in imaginative play with puppets and cars, and start off many conversations with "You be this one, and I'll be this one. Hi! My name is car! What's your name?"  

At two, you don't like sharing Mama, and you don't like it when I can't play cars with you right now. You give the funniest looks, and you like to practice saying "no." But mostly, you're a carefree fellow. And we can't imagine life without you.

Happy birthday, love.

february 18

February 16 Snow

February 16 Snow

February 16 Snow

February 16 Snow

February 16 Snow

The two boys from North Carolina got a full day of snowfall, enjoying it greatly in their throw-on-whatever-looks-warm-and-perhaps-waterproof, decidedly NOT New England snow outfits. Hot cocoa was imbibed. The wood stove was fired up for the first time this winter. Lots of board games were played, and I swear that my knees are scuffed from "playing cars" with Lachlan, pushing them all over the house. 

Today, some thanks, thoughts, and a few sew-y links:

  • I wanted to thank you for the toasty warm reception that you've given the new patterns. I'm so glad you love them! 
  • I'm so excited that Natalie Chanin is teaching a class with Craftsy: Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric. I hesitated about .3 nanoseconds before signing up. Love her aesthetic, and sewing by hand is something I can do in between pushing matchbox cars around the floor.
  • Speaking of aesthetics, I loved Sarai's post about the spiritual practice of sewing
  • Amy Butler put together a little fashion show which showcases her newest line of fashion fabrics and my Mariposa Tee is featured starting at 3:45. Fun! 

secret love totes

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Cookies were baked, heart totes were made, first letters of friends' names were painstakingly written (and glittered over, of course), and two stealthy little boys delivered them to their unknowing companions. The totes just say "You are loved," and are unsigned. Such an exciting mystery to solve.

Just one of many little traditions that I've gleaned from our Sparkle Stories - this one from the Martin and Sylvia Valentine's audio book.

I hope they remember these little things. It certainly generated many a giggle today.

the newest patterns are finally here!

new sewing patterns

new patterns

new sewing patterns

new patterns

new patterns

new patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

The Clara Dress, Gathering Apron, Esme Top, and Simple Skinny Jeans patterns are in my hands, ready to package up and send to you! 

There's a big "first" with this spring collection - all four patterns include a full-length video tutorial along with the standard written instructions. Thanks to my darling intern, Danica, who stars in the videos and walks you through the construction of each. 

The Clara Dress

Oh my. I think I've succeeded in designing "The Meg Dress," as my mom would call it. It's super comfortable with its elastic waist, plus it has pockets to hold all of Finn and Lachlan's treasures. I have my spring dresses in the line up already here in North Carolina with the help of tights and a cardigan. The sample shown is made in a Japanese double guaze cotton. I'm loving the possibility of it in this fabric, with my mustard tights and cowboy boots.

The Gathering Apron

Totally made with the feathered ladies in mind. Also while daydreaming about all the produce I'll be able to gather this summer and fall from my garden. Did you like the Emmeline Apron? The Gathering Apron wins, hands down. It has a HUGE front pocket (the entire skirt is one big pocket) and the adjustable bust details make it super flattering and really accommodating of all sizes. Looks amazing in all of Kaffe Fassett's Shot Cottons.

The Esme Top

A sweet, go-to top that will surely rival the Schoolhouse Tunic. It's easy to make and easy to wear, and goes great with the Simple Skinny Jeans. My favorite versions are made in the new rayon challis substrate that Westminster Fibers has - particularly Valori Well's Novella. This fabric is so soft and hangs so beautifully. Novella's understated prints work perfectly for highlighting the simple details of the Esme.

Simple Skinny Jeans

Really. They are SO simple to make. Think leggings, but with jean-like back pocket detail. These were modeled after my favorite pair of maternity transition pants, which had a wide elastic waistband, giving them a comfortable fit all the time. I'd suggest making them in a stretch denim or stretch chambray. Lura's Fabric shop has a great selection of stretch denim, plus you can order swatches to make sure you get the color you're looking for. I've also had luck finding good stretch denim at my local Hancock Fabrics. Stretch denims aren't knits, they're wovens, but they have some spandex/Lycra content which makes them movey and groovy - exactly what you want in a pair of skinny jeans.

Thank you to Jessi for the wonderful photography!

And now I flop on the couch with half a bar of dark chocolate and sleep until the boys return from their afteroon at Mima and Papa's house. I'm so very grateful for your support of this sewing pattern thing of mine. :)

feathered retreat


It's been completed for months, but I suppose I haven't made a public declaration of my love for this coop. Not only did we build it (and we all built it, lest you miss the little drill holes of evidence peppering the surface of the 2 x 4s.)


Though it was tempting to add some windows and extra woodworking flourishes, we honored our novice skills and made only superficial design choices. Throw on some lights, a decoration here and there, a twisted vine for a door handle and a natural branch ramp up to the henhouse, and we felt we had ample room to artistically "play." Staining our adirondack chairs and the kids picnic bench and adding them, along with our beloved cat tree, handmade by our friends in Mexico, to the patio next to the coop, and we have a great outdoor living space.


But the art wasn't complete without a mural for the chickens to appreciate.



"I'm painting eggs, Mama, so they know that this is where they should lay their eggs."





I think the mural is the chicken's favorite part, for sure. (And my, how they've grown! It's amazing how fast they go from fluffy balls to full-grown, clucky ladies.)



a week with boys + simplicity parenting











Do you ever wake up one morning and realize both of your babies can talk like pirates? Shiver me timbers! AND they can both open the refrigerator door!

Parenting has changed me in ways both vast and immesurable. I started off this gig with some experience teaching 3-6 year-olds and a familiarity with Montessori philosophy. I use what I can from that past life of mine, whatever I can recall in the (very busy) moment that jives with my children's needs and interests. I embraced attachment parenting, co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding. Then my second spent his first month in the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit and had to be sent home having my pumped breastmilk fed to him through a tube that went directly into his stomach.

There is much I admire about Waldorf philosophy, but as you can see we have Legos. We have both playsilks and hand-me-down pirate costumes.

There's a delicate balance between opening up your heart and letting in the wisdom and goodness that a philosophy has to offer and getting stressed out and disheartened because you either don't have the energy or the situation to implement it perfectly in your family. You do what you can. And that is enough. The middle path is one of forgiveness and healthy compromise.

Of all the parenting philosophies with which I'm familiar, I find myself returning to, and finding comfort in, Kim John Payne's Simplicity Parenting. So often, I need to reign myself in from doing more, more, and then more. Make this learning material! Come up with a complicated meal plan! Figure out how to get more out of the daylight hours! My mind is constantly luring me out of the present moment and into the future. Simplicity Parenting encourages me to do less, to enjoy life right now as a family, to be present to the people in my life rather than things and schedules. I love the peace the book has encouraged in my family's life.

And I also love that Kim John Payne is offering a free spot to on of my readers in his Simplicity Parenting Home Study Practice Guide for anyone who's interested in taking the wisdom of the book and really opening to how it might positively affect your family. The course is eight weeks long, and I'm excited that Kim will be answering our questions and mentoring us through these two months. And ... there's a bonus session on how to deal with defiance and intervene in sibling put-downs.

You can learn more about the course here, which starts on January 22nd.

Sign up here, if your name doesn't get picked (disclaimer - I do receive a percentage of the sale as an affiliate, just letting you know!)

Comments will close on Wednesday evening, January 16th. Good luck!


Comments are closed - congratulations to Erin!


the view from here









I didn't mean to be gone so long! A confluence of events - my parents sold my childhood home in California and were gone for a few weeks in December, then the holidays came and went - and through it all I struggled to find a place for myself. My writing, my photographing, my knitting, my yoga practice. None of it really happened this past month. Oh, yes - a lot of elving happened for sure - puppet making, needle felting ... little gifts for my boys. There were many moments of joy and laughter during my favorite season of the year.

However, it seems as though I am feeling a bit unmoored in my new role as full-time stay-at-home mama, not knowing how to fit in any time to get into a creative flow. Are any of you introverted mamas who need time for yourself but have a hard time making that need a reality? That's where I am right now. I'm hopeful that, with a few (albeit big) simplifying shifts, I can consistently set aside that time for nourishing myself. For now, in the few mornings a week when the boys are cared for by my parents, I tend to my pattern business. Management stuff. Emails. In short, not soul-quenching work.

I'm taking this one moment at a time, and am emerging into the new year with two words in mind: gratitude and simplicity. There's so much to be thankful for right now, and so little I really need to take on.

Also on my mind - Mary Frances, a kindred spirit, gave birth to her daughter Imogen just before Christmas. She was born with HLHS. (When Mary Frances and I talked on the phone, we joked that, perhaps, HLHS is caused by too much sewing!) Like Lachlan, Imogen is spending the bulk of her first month in the hospital post-surgery. Please keep this beautiful little one, her parents, and her big brothers in your thoughts and prayers.



imagine childhood book review + giveaway


That book up there? It's amazing. Of course, I knew it would be - I've been a loyal visitor the Imagine Childhood blog and a supporter of their store for many years now.

What author Sarah Olmsted has crafted is a deep, relaxing breath in the form of a book . It's an invitation to experience the wonder of nature in a creative way. An invitation to notice. An invitation to experience a forest, a creek, a pond - through the eyes of a child and alongside your child.


The activities in Imagine Childhood, I would say, are geared toward families with young children or older children who are able to read and craft on their own. None require a developed skill set - the sewing projects are very simple, the woodworking projects extremely basic - so anyone can jump right in. Everything can be made with little and big hands working side by side.



The boys eagerly chose to work on the mud house project, and it was a delight to work alongside them. I cut the wood forms and they did most everything else - from oiling down the sides of the wood (even the oustide of the form - unneccesary for the house, but somehow perfect work for Finn, as you can see above.) Finn made design decisions (such as choosing to hammer a door frame together rather than using a bigger block. I just followed their lead. Come to think of it, Imagine Childhood and my other favorite, Project-Based Homeschooling, are perfect companion books.


Lachlan really got into the mud part after his nap. (Do you see him nearly falling over in one of the above pictures, unable to give in to sleep with the excitement of the mud house construction?) Hold on - I have to go give him a smooch this minute - ok, I'm back!


And here is our mud house thus far, still drying. Come to think of it, it had a very generous watering in the last few days, first by eager boys who love to go around watering this and that, then by nature herself, in the form of a rainy day. I'm not sure if it will ever dry properly without splitting, but the experience itself was quite worthwhile regardless. There is a town of mud houses being planned, as well as many other projects from Imagine Childhood.

Building this with the boys made me remember one of my first blog posts, back when I was living in rural Mexico and building a cob wall to protect our garden. It wasn't surprising that building with mud attracted the neighborhood children; there's something so simple, functional, and rewarding about it.


Cob wall

Roost Books has generously offered to give away two copies of Imagine Childhood to my readers, and Sarah has chipped in a $25 gift certificate to the Imagine Childhood Shop. Three opportunities to win! Leave a comment to enter. I'll pick a winner on Saturday, December 1st.

Good luck!

Comments are now closed - congratulations to Gwenn, Joy and Milena!

luminaries + huge sale

luminaries quilt

Since I couldn't find the perfect quilt pattern for my bedroom, I designed one. Then I had my talented friend and coworker, Kim, work up the templates and make this one. Because, let's face it, it would have probably taken me three years to sew this king-sized beauty myself.

Kim, on the other hand, has boys who are adults rather than toddlers. So, thank you, Kim!

I provided the bed and the little boys for jumping on said bed.

luminaries quilt

luminaries quilt

luminaries quilt

You can make the Luminaries pattern in any size you'd like. I think it would be darling as baby bedding - and perfect for a lap throw to give the living room sofa a splash of color. Quilted pillows is another idea. Or - work up the star pattern in the required yardage to make the most amazing skirt for yourself! It's a pattern that's friendly for quilting beginners.

luminaries quilt

luminaries quilt

luminaries quilt

luminaries quilt

 This quilt was made up in scraps of fabric by two of my favorite designers: Gennine Zlatkis and Anna Maria Horner.

And wait - good news - I'm having a whopping pattern sale right now! 40% off ALL patterns. I have four new patterns coming out on January 1st, so I need your help to make space in my teeny warehouse. Please! This is a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of a sale, so stock up now for your own sewing pursuits or for gifts for your creative friends or partners. The sale will run until Wednesday, December 5th, whenever I feel like going to bed that night!

Happy sewing, friends!

P.S. Thanks to Jessi for the beautiful photos of my boys - I mean, the quilt!