Whew! That was an unexpectedly long break. I have a good excuse, though:

sona6

Sona Grace Garrison was born on March 7, 2014, after 28 hours of labour and the complete disruption of our plans for a home birth. She was a week overdue, which at the time seemed excruciatingly long, but now I’m so glad I got ALL THAT EXTRA SLEEP. I think of it so fondly now.

sona1

I’m still processing the whole experience, and know I will be for a long time. I’m still in shock that I’m someone’s mother, that we made her and I grew her and now I feed her and she’s really here. I know these are such clichéd, mundane observations, but it’s really all I think about these days, along with where my next meal’s coming from, because I am eating like a crazy person (but so is she).

sona2

Shortly after I gave birth, I was lying in bed thinking about how even though I planned and prepared for the birth I wanted and it didn’t go that way at all, I was still completely content with my birth experience because I felt so cared for and supported. I had the most amazing midwives, doula, and Mark was a total champ. I completely abandoned my ingrained never-nudeness (despite once asking Mark if he thought it was possible to give birth with underwear on) and I only snapped once, when Mark innocently tried to eat a banana right next to my face. A few days after having Sona, I was reflecting on my labour and tried Googling “feeling proud after giving birth”. Such few results came back, and all of the suggested searches were things like “feeling sad after giving birth”, “feeling disappointed after giving birth”, etc. I don’t want to discount anyone who has those feelings, but I’m so grateful that I have such positive feelings about how it went.

sona3

The baby is yummy and scary and we’re all just figuring things out together. We have an amazing support network, and still there are times when it is terribly overwhelming, but then she does something fantastic like make this ET-ish face and we fall further in love with her.

sona4

Her first name is the Hindi word for “gold”, and we settled on it fairly early on. Her middle name is for Mark’s mom, although to be 100% honest, I have wanted to use Grace as a middle name since well before I met Mark, so it was also a happy coincidence.

sona5

Mark is now freelancing, which is the greatest blessing. I honestly don’t think I could do this without him, though I know I’d figure it out if I really had to. I have a million more things to say and no words yet, so I’ll leave you with this sweet face; my little lady, my golden girl.

sona7

Read More...

babydress3

When we found out we were having a girl (something I won’t fully believe until the baby comes out of me), I was mostly surprised and a little bit terrified. However, I was very, very happy that I would get to use all of the beautiful baby clothes my grandmother sewed for me. I’ve mentioned this before, but she is an amazing seamstress, far more precise and skilled than I’ll ever be, and I have bags and bags of handmade dresses and sweaters and pinafores, many of them smocked, knitted or embroidered with such skill that it blows my mind. I should have ironed these before I took pictures, but I never iron anything so I didn’t want to falsify information on my blog.

babydress1

babydress2

babydress4

There are tons of embroidered and smocked dresses like the ones you see above, ranging in size from newborn to about six-seven years old. There are stacks of the sweetest pinafores, though they are impossibly small and baby will have to have several costume changes a day to get through them all.

babyshirt

babyshirtstack

As stated above, I am nowhere near the seamstress my grandmother is, and probably never will be, but I did want to make a few things for the baby myself. I had never done any type of garment sewing before, and the thought of it has intimidated me for years — patterns, sewing on curves, finishing seams, BLECH. I just always assumed it was never an attainable skill for me. Have I mentioned I’m a total optimist? Guys, it turns out it’s not that difficult, ESPECIALLY baby clothes which are tiny and usually boxy because babies don’t need fitted things.

jumper

This crossover pinafore is the first garment sewing I ever attempted, and it was mind-blowingly easy, because the instructions were crystal-clear. I’m sure there’s some way you could even make it reversible but the logistics of that confused me (mostly just the button placement) so I didn’t try. I love it because it can go from a dress to a top as she grows up. Trying this really simple thing first gave me a lot more confidence to branch out to this peasant dress:

heartpocketpeasantdress

There’s a free pattern available for this dress for newborns 0-3 months, but I would highly, HIGHLY recommend purchasing the pattern with sizes from newborn to 6 years, which also includes options for a top or dress, and straight or scalloped edge. I LOVE THIS DRESS. So easy to customize in any way you want (embroidery, appliqué, pockets, etc.) and such a confidence-booster.

embroideredpeasantdress

This is the same dress with an iron-on transfer from this embroidery book, which took about two hours in total, including embroidery time.

elephantpeasantdress

..and the same pattern again, with added pockets and scalloped edge.

newbornwrapshirt

This newborn wrap-style shirt is from the Purl Bee blog, one of my favourite sites for free patterns. When we were in New York on our honeymoon, we went into the Purl Soho brick-and-mortar store, and I wandered around in a deliriously happy daze for a few minutes. I couldn’t afford anything in there, but it was the most beautiful place in the world.

babypants

The baby pants are from the same blog, though I hurried through these so they’re not as neatly finished as I would have liked. I might try making another pair with a drawstring waist instead. Though maybe that’s somehow dangerous for a baby? I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ANYTHING, YOU GUYS.

babypants2

Here’s another pair of baby pants that sewed up quickly and to which I added elastic at the cuffs, just because. Again, I wonder if these might end up being loose around the waist, so next time I might either cinch them a bit tighter or use a drawstring instead.

jerseyhoodie1

jerseyhoodie2

These hooded kimono wrap jackets may be the cutest things ever, and though I had never sewed with jersey, this blog post really cleared some things up for me. Basically I just switched to a ballpoint needle and it was fine.

gingeronesie

I’ve made a lot of appliquéd onesies, but this one is my favourite. We might put this phrase on her birth announcement. Have I mentioned that Mark is a redhead?

I also whipped up a few bibs (think I just Googled “bib template” and worked from there)…

bibs

…and a few of these super-easy pacifier clips (though I made them shorter than the tutorial called for because of strangulation risks)…

pacifierclips

..and finally, this oversized baby quilt. I’ve made a lot of blankets and quilts for her, mostly just to kill time. I’m working on my first entirely hand-quilted quilt right now, but I go so terribly slow that she might be a teenager by the time she receives it. For this one I just sewed a bunch of triangles together into patches, and then I had them up on my basting board in the order I thought I wanted, then Mark came into my office and started switching them around and we ended up with this sort of parallelogram thing. Hey, that’s the first time I’ve used that word since junior high, probably! I like that we both worked on it together. Also, I know this is the girliest fabric ever, but I have so damn much of it.

babyquiltfront

I just quilted diagonal lines — it took less than an hour to quilt — and when she’s born, I’ll sew on a little patch with her name and birth date on it.

babyquiltback

babyquiltbinding

This nesting period has been so delicious. I know I won’t have time to be doing a lot of this when she’s here, and I also know that second baby will probably get nothing (Mark and I are both youngest children, so we’ll be able to sympathize). I have a few more things I’d like to make, but I’d also be very happy if she showed up tomorrow. Which is totally possible. Which is terrifying.

Read More...

crib

When Mark and I were getting married, waaaaay back in 2010, I remember a lot of people asking us what our “theme” was, and I’d always stare blankly and be like, “uhhh…marriage?”. We really didn’t have a theme, or specific wedding colours; it was more a slightly batshit crazy amalgamation of whatever stuff we liked (mason jars! the Jeopardy theme song!) and whatever, it all kind of went together or maybe it didn’t, but we were surrounded by stuff that was important to us.

Putting together the baby’s room has been a similar process — we don’t have dominant colours, or an animal theme, or matching…well, anything, but it’s been a labour of love in ways I can’t even fully describe. Almost everything in the room is handmade, either by us or someone we love. We don’t have a diaper genie, or a fancy crib (so far we’ve bought every single item for this baby secondhand, with the exception of the stroller/carseat combo), but everything in there was made with so much love and excitement and anticipation.

animalbutts

This print was the first thing I purchased after finding out I was pregnant. It’s classy, it’s timeless, you’d have to be a monster to not love it.

mobile

The mobile pattern came from Etsy, and I also purchased the fabric panels so that putting it together would be nice and easy. I made it in one gloriously lazy day spent on the couch, and it was such a fun, satisfying project to work on.

shoes

I had a several-day stint of making baby shoes, which are really kind of stupid and impractical but OH MY GOD SO CUTE. From left to right: Felt baby shoes, baby shoes pattern from Etsy, felt baby booties from this shop (can’t find the specific listing, but there are tons of shoe patterns available).

lambsoftie

This lamb softie was really quick to sew up and the only thing I would change would be to use the same grey felt for her body as well.

 maggierabbits

Of all the things I’ve been making for baby (another post of clothes is forthcoming), I think these Maggie Rabbits have been my favourite. I love all of Alicia’s patterns (I currently have about four of her projects on the go) but these might be my very favourite. They’re completely handstitched (except for the clothing), and the perfect project for a rainy day. I’m not going to lie; baby might not actually get to keep these ones. These might just be for me.

There are many other things I could show you, like the beautiful shelves Mark made to fit into a very oddly-shaped, specific spot, or the rapidly-growing collection of baby quilts, but here is the thing I love most about the room. It’s a bit bizarre and out-of-place, but we made it together and I love it so much. Behold baby’s tree:

tree

tree2

There’s an owl to watch over her

owl

and several well-hidden birds as well.

bird

There are leaves cut out of old children’s books

leaf

and gauzy Bodhi leaf lights.

leaflight

I’m not sure where the idea came from — though I think Mark was the one who suggested it — but working on this together was so much fun. The “trunk” is PVC piping wrapped in burlap, and the branches are cut from a huge twisted filbert tree from the front of our house that we let dry out for a few weeks and then attached to the PVC with screws. There’s a wooden mount at the back of the tree securing it to the wall on two sides, so little missy can’t pull it down when she’s having a tantrum. I know that when Mark and I look back on this pre-baby, nesting time, some of our fondest memories will be of putting this tree together, talking about how we want her to feel like it’s a little bit magical in there. In the wintertime, maybe we’ll hang snowflakes from the branches. Next fall, perhaps we’ll find an old bird’s nest to place up high in the tree. Mark might make a little squirrel to peek out from behind the trunk. We can adapt it any way the three of us want. I anticipate many nights nursing her underneath her tree, trying to stay awake and thinking about how seven and a half years ago, I walked into a coffee shop to meet someone, and now here she is.

tree3

Read More...

ctfinal

Wall clocks seem sort of retro now, because it seems like everyone uses their cell phone to check the time. I’m a terrible cell phone owner, though, and when I realized I desperately needed a clock for my office, I decided to try making one rather than buying some ugly plastic thing. I wanted to add a bit of colour to my studio as well, so I wrapped an embroidery hoop in some dreamy fabric and then matched the colours on the clock to the fabric. If you want to make this even quicker, you can omit wrapping the hoop in fabric and just have a wood frame. This was a really fun, super-quick project — if you want to give it a try, read on!

Supplies

ctsupplies

  • 8-inch embroidery hoop
  • Clock mechanism (available at Michaels or other craft stores — you want one for the thinnest clock face possible; I believe mine was for 1/4 inch face)
  • 9-inch square fabric of your choice (light colour will make it easier to transfer pattern and see clock numbers)
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing
  • Embroidery transfer pen (washable or fade-away)
  • Embroidery floss in colours of your choice
  • Scissors
  • Thick cardstock/chipboard
  • Embroidery needle
  • Fabric for wrapping hoop (optional)
  • Glue gun
  • Spray adhesive or white glue
  • Clock face template (download here)

Instructions

1. Print out clock face template, either onto regular printer paper and then transfer onto 9-inch square of fabric using preferred method (here are some ways to transfer patterns) or take the easy way out and print pattern directly onto washable, fusible stabilizer (I use this brand). If using the latter method, peel backing paper off and stick face-up to front of fabric.

printedpattern

2. Using three strands of black embroidery floss, backstitch around outlines of numbers.

outline

3. Using two strands of coloured floss of your choice (I chose four colours that matched the fabric I wanted to wrap the hoop in), start filling in numbers with satin stitch, continuing all the way around the clock.

filling

4. Once you’ve completed the embroidery, attach fusible interfacing to the back of the square, and iron out any wrinkles.

interfacing 

5. For wrapped hoop, cut long, narrow strips of fabric (mine were about 1.5 inches wide), and press in half lengthwise. I used two lengths of about 40 inches, so 80 inches total, but had quite a bit left over.

biastape

6. You’ll be wrapping the outer hoop in bias tape. Using a glue gun, place a small dot of glue at the top of the hoop, near the screw. Carefully begin wrapping bias tape around hoop, keeping folded edge on top. Continue wrapping all the way around the hoop, placing dots of glue as needed.

wrappingbiastape

When/if you get to the end of one length of bias tape, simply wrap last piece around to the inside of the hoop, secure with glue, and continue wrapping hoop with second length of tape, starting from the inside and overlapping previous length of fabric. Continue wrapping in this manner until you reach the end of the hoop, and secure with glue on the inside of the hoop.

wrappingbiastape2

wrappedhoop

7. To attach cardboard (for added stability) place inner hoop on cardstock and trace around the outside, and then cut out. Center inner hoop over backside of clock face and again trace the outside of the inner hoop with an  embroidery transfer pen.

backing1

8. Using adhesive of your choice (I used spray glue but white glue would be fine as well — just make sure there are no big clumps of glue and that it’s smoothed down well), spray back of cardstock and press down onto circle you’ve just drawn on the back of your fabric piece.

backing2

9. Let dry, then turn over place inner hoop underneath face-up fabric (I didn’t get a picture of this, but it’ll be obvious what I mean). Place wrapped outer hoop on top of the clock face, lining up screw at top with the number 12. Gently adjust as needed until it’s centered, then press down on outer hoop so it encloses fabric and inner hoop. Tighten screw as much as possible.

framing1

10. Turn clock over and cut away excess fabric from around the clock, leaving about 1/2 to 1-inch border of fabric.

framing2

11. Using glue gun, dot glue along inside frame and press fabric down, smoothing down as much as possible. I did an absolutely terrible job of this, but it’s the back of the piece, so I wasn’t too fussy. Take your time and don’t burn your fingers like I did.

gluing

12. Turn clock over, and using embroidery transfer pen, mark center of clock with a small dot. I just eyeballed this, but you can measure it out if you’re really fussy. Use small, sharp scissors to poke a hole through (at this point your hands might turn into a ginger man’s) and then attach clock face according to manufacturer’s instructions. Mine had a small hook at the back, so I chose to hang it from there rather than the embroidery hoop screw, just because it seemed more stable. Hang clock and enjoy!

pokinghole

Read More...

star

I had meant to update during Christmas, show off pictures of our (very miniscule amounts of) decorations, our little tree, etc., but December got away from me in a rather lovely way. This year, for the first time in ages (maybe ever?) I truly felt relaxed, not stressed about gifts, not overwhelmed by malls and awful music, and crazy consumerism. Mostly that’s because we ordered a lot of gifts online, drew names within Mark’s extended family, and just chilled the eff out. The baby was a good distraction because I didn’t have the energy to do a lot of shopping, and anyway, we’re both trying very hard to slow down and be in the moment. I feel like my new year really began at that mindfulness class we took in November.

The first weekend of December, I whisked Mark away to nearby Salt Spring Island, one of our favourite places and a short 35-minute ferry ride from home. I had been wanting to do something nice for him for many reasons, but mostly because he has been a rockstar these past few months. There have been many times when I’ve felt him holding me together, and though that sounds gross and co-dependent, all I mean is that he has been a true partner in every sense of the word. I am so happy to be married to him, and I see how hard he tries all the time, and how he sneaks into the baby’s room to sit in the glider, how he talks to her every day and suggested we learn “Two of Us” on the mandoline and guitar so she could hear it in utero and then maybe recognize it out here in the real world, how he is always the first one at a dinner party washing dishes, and how all children flock to him because they can sense his genuine radness. I love him, yes, but I just also like him so much. I wanted to say thank you in some small miniscule way, so I booked a room at a beautiful, tucked-away bed and breakfast. We had such a relaxing time, and just wandered around the town, went to a Christmas craft fair, contemplated attending the chili cookoff and Raffi concert (!!!) but decided against it, enjoyed the soaker tub in our room and ate schnitzel. Weird and wonderful. We also visited the ridiculously amazing headquarters of the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, where we met a little friend and bought a few snacks.

ssidog

ssicheese

Also in December:

Luka slept. A lot.

sleepyluka

sleepyluka2

sleepyluka1

My grandmother called from India with a list of girls names for us (I can’t read my writing on a lot of these):

names

I bought more fabric and started making baby things like a crazy person. More on that in an upcoming post, but I made several of these super adorable and very easy owls. These things came together incredibly fast and were very satisfying to make.

stuffedowls

fabric

I made and drank a lot of hot chocolate. I use this recipe but usually add some cinnamon, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Don’t skip the immersion blender step — it seems fussy but transforms the texture of the milk into pure velvety goodness.

hotchocolate

We rang in the new year with two of our best friends, a dog that had made his way up to bed several hours earlier, and four and a half pounds of Pok Pok chicken wings. I stayed up until almost two, which is almost unheard of for me even when not pregnant. I woke up the next morning to the smells of the best breakfast ever, and in fact I may already have peaked in terms of breakfasts for 2014. Thank you H & A.

pokpokwings

nydaybreakfast

2013 was a very good year in many respects, especially from June on, but I have a sneaking suspicion that 2014 will be even better.

Read More...