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!

wrapping finn's book of words + ruby star wrapping

Ruby Star Wrapping

Though I don't think I've purchased a roll of wrapping paper (ever) in my adult life, it's not like I've made up for that by presenting gifts in beautifully-made, recycled wrapping. Until this very day, I have not been motivated (or had the time, last-minute gift-crafter that I am) to put any creative energy into gift presentation. Wrap gifts in the boys' silks? Yes. Use a old gift bag? Sure.

But I have had the intention to make my own set of fabric gift bags for a long time. Me + fabric + sewing are a good combo! Ruby Star Wrapping, by fabric-design maven Melody Miller and Allison Tannery and my friend April from Sew to Speak came together to make that happen. Sew to Speak is hosting a book tour for Ruby Star Wrapping, so be sure to enter the book/fabric/notions giveaway by leaving a comment on the Sew to Speak blog!

Ruby Star Wrapping

I am doing my very, very best to get a head start on the gift crafting this time around. I made this little book out of a recycled cracker box and some paper and crafted this right under Finn's nose - he has no idea that this little apple book is destined for his little hands (it's tiny - about four inches tall and 3 inches wide.) It will be his Book of Words - a place for me to write down random words that he'd like to know how to read.

Ruby Star Wrapping

Ruby Star Wrapping

Ruby Star Wrapping

The book was the perfect gift for the Little Snack Sack tutorial in Ruby Star Wrapping. Simple to sew up, and totally reusable as a sandwich or snack sack. I did make sure all my edges were properly finished so that this little sack will withstand the transition from gift wrapping to lunch basket gear, with all the washing cycles that go along with that.

Ruby Star Wrapping

Enter to win your own copy of Ruby Star Wrapping over at the Sew to Speak blog, and follow along with other tour participants below:

Monday, Nov. 26 - Sew To Speak blog. 
Tues, Nov. 27 - Mary Dugan of Molly Flanders
Wed. Nov. 28 - Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated
Thurs. Nov. 29 - Kara of Me and Elna
Fri. Nov. 30 - We will announce the first winner on the Sew To Speak blog
Sat. Dec. 1st - Amanda of Sasikirana Handmade
Sunday Dec. 2nd - April Rhodes 
Monday Dec. 3rd - Sew To Speak 
Tues. Dec. 4th - Made by Rae
Wed. Dec 5 - Ericka of Low Beam Studios

Thurs. Dec. 6 - Emily of The Boy Trifecta

Friday  Dec. 7 - and finally the second winner announced on Sew To Speak blog!

thanksgiving outtakes


What a challenge it can be to gather. For a photo, that is. Two wiggly gigglies, dapper in their hot-off-the-needles Milo vests (plus a Huck Finn Cap that Lachlan was proud to wear). No shoes for one boy, no smiles from the other. 


One had his eyes on the pie from the get-go. Mom says I was the same way. I suppose some things never change. Cream was whipped in a chilled bowl and plopped atop the apple cranberry pie. Books were read, trains were pushed, lego towers built. 





In most ways, it was a typical meal at Mima and Papa's house. A little more fancy, perhaps. But what makes it special is the attitude we bring to it and how we remember it. And I was ever so thankful to be right there, among the family I love, on a stunning autumn evening. 

giving thanks







Inspired by the fat brush strokes in Giving Thanks, Finn sat down at his desk and started to work with a selection of brushes and paints. We chit chatted about colors, lines, and curves, then I walked away. An hour later, he presented his interpretation. Then he flashed that "I'm three so I never smile in a normal way when asked" smile. 

I'm awash with gratitude for all the little things this year. If I had known that this is the way it was going to turn out two years ago at this time, I would have saved myself those truck loads of worry. I'm still pretty amazed that I get to spend my days with two healthy and vibrant little boys.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, friends! I'll be back here in a week.