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

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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

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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.

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At long last, I’ve added some new products to my Etsy store! First up are jar sweaters, perfect for the hipster tea-or-coffee-drinker in your life, or even just yourself if you want to have a portable drink but not burn your hands. There are three different kinds, all tthe same price but minor variations in fabric and style. They are all customizable so no one can steal your drink (unless they have the same initials as you and are super cocky). They come in a mix of linen and cotton fabric (your choice of fabric for two of the options) and I’m really happy with how they turned out. I made about twenty of them as prototypes and every time I sewed a new one there were tiny little adjustments made to improve on them.

jarsweater

jarsweater2

jarsweater3

jarsweatercloseup

I’ve also added some personalized dog bandanas (have yet to think of a clever name, any suggestions?). As you can see, Luka is super into them:

dogbandana3

Or wait, maybe not:

dogbandana2

Silly dog. These come in two different sizes, just depending on how big your dog is and how thick their collar is. Again, there’s a choice of fabrics and also stamp fonts, and they are a linen/cotton combination as well.

dogbandana

I have many, many, MANY new product ideas up my sleeve for 2014, and want to get as many as I can into the shop before baby makes her appearance. Self-promotion is very hard for me and makes me super uncomfortable, but I also need to be able to afford economy-sized jars of Nutella, so I’m sucking it up and putting it out there. In a not-filthy way. Please go check out my store and feel free to comment/email with any suggestions or questions!

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oatmeal

Tomorrow I’ll be 29 weeks pregnant, and I have to say that it’s been mostly a pleasant experience. I did have a few weeks of absolutely dreadful morning sickness, but some Diclectin and a healthy dose of milking the situation for sympathy helped. I haven’t had any super strong cravings, so despite the fact that I had always sort of fantasized about sending Mark out for french fries in the middle of the night, I haven’t needed to do it yet. (YET.) I have, however, had some pretty strong aversions to certain types of food, and this has been a bit challenging. We’re not big meat-eaters in general, but our meat consumption has dwindled considerably since June. Just the smell of most types of meat cooking has been enough to turn my stomach. Chicken in particular, which is like the least offensive, blandest animal protein I can think of, has been a huge trigger for me. This has made meal planning a bit tricky at times, but luckily I have a black binder full of tried-and-true recipes that we’ve been relying on pretty heavily these last few months. These are sourced from many random places, but all of them have saved my ass in the last six months.

I am a bit of an oatmeal whore, and constantly on the lookout for new recipes and topping ideas. This recipe for April Bloomfield’s porridge incorporates both steel-cut and regular oats and I think it might be my new standard against which all other oatmeals must measure up. One thing: do not, and I repeat, DO NOT, use the same amount of salt listed here. I can’t quite figure out how that measurement could possibly be correct, and I looooooove salt. I used Maldon and decreased it to a 1/2 teaspoon, one-third (!) of the original suggestion. I followed the recipe exactly the first time and it was so overly salty I couldn’t finish it, and Mark wouldn’t even touch it. I like it with a number of different toppings, but the other morning I had it with milk, maple syrup, and toasted pecans (pictured above) and it put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

This butternut squash and chickpea salad makes for one of my favourite winter lunches. Since there is little I detest more than trying to peel a raw butternut squash, I always just poke a few holes in it and roast it at 425 F for 45 minutes or so, and then it’s much more accommodating. Also, I have tried many, many brands of tahini over the years, and now swear by this brand, based on a hot tip from the owner of the Middle Eastern grocery store I frequent. It somehow manages to stay soft and creamy, and doesn’t have the bitter aftertaste that  a lot of commercial brands of tahini have.

Another recipe I picked up from Orangette is this devastatingly delicious pan of brownies. Julia Child’s brownies; need I say more? The list of ingredients is a little shocking to behold, so I make them maybe twice a year, and only when I can give them away real fast, but if you want to make someone fall in love with you and/or stop crying, this should do the trick, especially if you slightly underbake them and also use Maldon sea salt in the place of regular salt.

I’ve been yearning for a lot of vegetarian Indian food lately, but haven’t had a lot of energy to make anything too fussy. This aloo gobi and this dahl have hit the spot with minimal effort. I find the key with Indian cooking (actually, many types of cooking) is to take spice measurements lightly, and in fact, I often double the amounts of spices listed. Obviously don’t do this with, like, dried red chilies or something, but in general, I err on the side of whatever the opposite of caution is. Carelessness?

Shredded carrot salad with harissa and feta, from the archives of my all-time favourite food blog, Smitten Kitchen. This is another lunchtime standard for me, and is so incredibly fresh and zippy and tasty. I don’t always have mint around, so I often leave that out. I use super creamy Macedonian feta which is weirdly the only kind of feta I’m really into. This, plus pita and hummus, or some dolmades, or a hard-boiled egg, is the perfect lunch.

I have many, many more recipes I could share with you, and I will another day. Please cross your fingers that this baby is not a picky eater, though I know that resistance is futile.

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