Sam is on a bike ride with a friend, Vivian is napping, and I'm enjoying the stillness, a little remembering and some day dreaming.The taste of summer in Maine is still lingering; it just might carry me through these winter months. That and some knitting, hot chocolate and a few good novels (any suggestions for a cozy read?).
Today's guest post comes from Jennifer at the inspired Sewn Natural Studio. You know how in love I am with the beautiful little girls clothing they make, as well as everything else. I have a feeling Miss Vivian may find herself the proud owner of some of those sweet smocks.
I love Jennifer's post and the beautiful pictures below. It totally takes me back to weaving flowers with my best girlfriend during those hot, childhood summers. I can almost feel the grass tickling the backs of my legs as we sat in the field, stringing wildflowers together...
I had been wanting to make Vivian a sweet, girly baby quilt, but for some reason was stuck being "sensible" and decided against it because we have a stack of perfectly nice, if rather boyish, baby quilts. But I was feeling kind of bad about it. I even made a large quilt (which I still need to show you!) telling myself it was "in Vivi's honor" because I used floral prints and a pink binding, but somehow it just didn't seem quite the same.
So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when this perfect gift arrived in the mail from a girlfriend in Maine! How did she know this would be just the thing to send? Oh, and the package came wrapped in brown paper that had pink polka dots; how fun is that to find waiting on your doorstep? She got all inspired to make stuff with vintage sheets after reading about the girly skirts I made, and so sent me her first vintage sheet project. Isn't it lovely? And it's the perfect, light weight for a new, little baby. And so perfectly girly and sweet. She's right, every baby does need a quilt of her (or his) own, even if there are already stacks of blue baby quilts in the closet:)
This sweet image is a postcard she found while cleaning out her grandpa's house after he passed away. She wrote that it made her think of how Sam will take care of Vivian. I told that to Sam and he loves looking at it and pointing out which one is him and which one is Vivian.
I love making lists. I've been making all sorts of lists in anticipation of Miss Vivian's arrival: homebirth supplies, tips for Sam's aunt who'll be watching him, freezer meals to make, things to get done before she arrives etc. But this list is a little more fun, so I thought I'd share. While the only thing we actually need is a second carseat, and maybe some new prefolds, there are certainly a few sweet and lovely things that would be fun to have. Here's my list of pretty baby girl things that are fun to daydream about.
Stacks of Anna Maria Horner fabric for beautiful, luxurious receiving blankets, quilts, and even colorful outfits!
Clay's been working on this really beautiful set of chairs and table for a client and they were finally finished and delivered last week. The problem is that a) they're the most comfortable thing I've ever sat in, and b) they're gorgeous. Why is this problematic? Because I want them!! Doesn't it seem awfully unfair that he would make something so lovely, and even have one of the chairs lingering in my dining room (next to my benchless table) for several days and not let me keep at least a couple?
It's hard to believe that something so sleek and lovely started out as these raw pieces of wood that needed to be shaped and coaxed into becoming a beautiful chair. You can read more about the process on the Ivory Bill blog; there are some neat pictures of the chair in various stage, as well as of the table, which I also love.
I got one of the very nicest presents in the mail a couple weeks ago. The Aurora Shoe Co. had contacted me awhile back because they wanted to give me a free(!) pair of shoes, no strings attached (i.e. no review post necessary). They find their best advertising is by word of mouth, and who am I to pass up free shoes? I wasn't planning on mentioning them on the blog until I actually got them and wore them. But these are no ordinary shoes! And their company is so in line with what I want to support and foster. First, I had to send them in a tracing of my feet! Yes, each shoe is custom made to your foot. Can you imagine? They are such a dream to wear because my feet, like the rest of my body, are quite narrow and long. So I either get shoes that fit length-wise or width-wise, rarely both. But these are just right. I've seriously been wearing them almost every day.
The company is family-run out of upstate New York. My shoes came back with my little foot tracing cutouts inside the shoe with a hand-written note from the owner on them. The whole experience was just so hands-on, so personal, so real. I wish that all our transactions could be like this. You can watch a great little video of how they're made here.
Everything is done by hand, carefully, thoughtfully, by people who love their work. Isn't that how it should be? You can read more about the behind the scenes stuff and get to know some of the people that make Aurora Shoes on their blog.
I absolutely believe in paying more for something that's a quality product, made by people here in the US, supporting their families and contributing to our economy. I'd rather have one pair of shoes that I know have been lovingly and ethically crafted, than fifteen pair with less than straightforward production practices. Definitely check out their company; if you're looking for a pair of shoes that will take through the next decade and beyond (in complete comfort!), and a company you can be proud to support, this is it!
Clayton came home from Idaho with the trunk full of treasures from his cousin; bags and boxes full of baby girl clothes! I didn't realize that I like pink as much as I do, but I kind of swooned at the floral explosion and pink and purple preciousness.
I've only purchased a handful of clothing items new for Sam; a couple pairs of shoes, a jacket, maybe a few other things. We received so many great hand-me-downs and the thrift stores are just chock full of practically new stuff that I couldn't see any good reason to buy new stuff except for the pure entertainment value of shopping. But, that entertainment factor can definitely be found in thrift store shopping as well. I love the high of finding a true treasure for mere pennies!
Besides being light on the wallet, using previously-used stuff is kinder to Mother Nature. We produce so much STUFF that it seems silly not to pass it around, rather than throw it out and create more. I'm certainly not into dressing my kids in ugly stuff (luckily Clay's cousin has great taste; I loved everything and it was all in immaculate condition!). When I peruse the thrift racks I've got my eyes out for good brands and quality materials.
It really was delightful to to be knee deep in tiny frilly things. It made me so excited for our little girl to arrive!
What are some of your favorite second-hand sources or best thrifting success stories?
Sometimes the thrifting gods are just on your side. I was complaining to Clay that I wanted to get Sam an easel, but I couldn't find any solid wooden ones for less than $60. "I think I saw one at D.I." he said. So, we hurried over there, and lo and behold, it was still there! That, in and of itself, was a miracle of a semi-religious nature. The thrifting golden rule is "Buy it When You See it!" But it was still there a couple days later and we happily snatched it up.
With a little soap and water I was able to removed the old paint and marker stains and get it looking brand new. Of course, Sam quickly decorated it with his own marker and paint splotches. But, I like the looks of his much better than the other ones. It's a really sturdy one, the kind you'd find in a school, that can stand up to lots of wear and tear. I was so thrilled to find it!
Sam has been equally enthusiastic about using it several times a day. It thrills me to see him exploring color and texture, layering paint, trying new brush techniques, rejoicing at the cacophony of color he creates and telling me elaborate stories about what he's painting. The painting above is of a hippo splashing in the water; do you see it?
Naturally, we think Sam is quite gifted; we ooh and aah over each brush stroke and each completed masterpiece. But I'm already wondering, where will I put all these precious masterpieces... ?
I have always loved getting things in the mail; hand written letters from friends, belated birthday presents (isn't it kind of exciting when they're late? It prolongs the celebration!), even things I order for myself are fun. I forget they're coming and then it's like getting a present when they arrive! So, I was beyond delighted to get this wonderful package from Abi (remember her great interview a couple weeks ago?) in the mail. Not only were the contents wonderful, the whole package was just so lovely. Brown paper packages truly are the most fun to open, I think. And this one was made of thick paper, sewn together at the edges! How clever is that?
Inside were the most thoughtful gifts; I always admire people who can think of just the right gift. That really is a talent. I'm always wracking my brain trying to come up with something just right. For my burgeoning career as a serious knitter(!) she made me a beautiful cloth roll to store my needles in! It's linen on the outside with a cheerful pattern inside and bright turquoise ties. And accompanying the needle holder was the softest, loveliest yarn in varying shades of bluish green; the shifting colors remind me of the ocean. It's a nice baby weight and you know I can put that to good use! The yarn was hand dyed by a good friend of hers.
The whole thing just made my day; so thoughtful, so full of handmade goodness and warm sentiments.
Skiing nearly every day had me feeling so very alive! Tingling with the cold on my face, the blood pumping as we glided silently through the fields and trees. Something about the air up there just cures what ails you!
On one trip we headed up a trail and then came down the other side of the mountain, in untouched, powdery snow, dodging sage bushes peeking up through the drifts. As our skis rolled over the bushes, the leaves released the most delicious, fresh, herb-y scent; it was heaven.
Several times when I got back to the cabin, I noticed Jack Frost had done a little number on my hair...
His artistry was everywhere; the glittering snow, the feathered crystals covering each stalk of grass peeking above the snow, and the fanciful curlicues decorating the steamy kitchen windows each morning.
Back in the city, the memory of those wide open spaces and fresh, clear air is still bright in my mind. Whatever medicine is in that air is certainly still doing me good!
We haven't spent much time at the farmers' market this summer as we've been growing so much of our own produce. But it was so nice to wander around the stalls this past weekend and see what everyone else has been up to. And there is definitely a lot more than just produce at the farmers' market!
It's amazing what people are producing right in our neighborhood, so many beautiful crafts, delicious cheeses and a whole rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
Sam became an expert at eating samples off toothpicks and was open to everything I offered him.
We decided on some edam cheese from Rockhill Creamery. It's so amazing what a little friendly bacteria can do. The ingredients in this cheese are whole raw milk and... nothing! Okay, olive oil and salt for the rind, but seriously, is that not a magical alchemy? It's aged for a whole year and has that delicious melt-in-your-mouth quality. I really, really want to take a cheese making class one of these days.
I love getting to know the people who make my food. Isn't that the way it should be? Shouldn't we be on a first name basis with the people who milk the goats and make the cheese that goes into our omelet in the morning? Really, it's quite strange not to have a relationship with our food and its producers. It's only a relatively new phenomenon, for most of history you either raised, grew and made your own food or traded it with your neighbor. I had a nice chat with a guy from Drake's Farm where we've started getting goat milk and also enjoyed chatting with the woman from Rockhill Creamery and reading her charming blog.
I love the flower stands!The prices are unbeatable and the arrangements are so much lovelier and more interesting than anything you'd find in a store.
We got a half dozen organic peaches. They're the #1 worst fruit to buy conventionally grown in terms of pesticide residue and yet, it's often so hard to find local, organic peaches. These are delicious!
We loved listening to the banjo pickers and guitar players scattered throughout the market and browsing through the booths full of handmade goodness.
And how charming is this little critter?
I also ran across this booth with native plant seeds! I've been looking for some pretty flowering desert plants to replace the water hogs currently growing in the backyard.
And then when we'd just about had our fill of fresh peaches, artisan cheeses, and homemade jams, when our eyes were swimming with the colors and our ears full of the sounds of the market, it started to drizzle. Just a little bit. Not eneough to make me quicken my pace as we headed in the general direction of the car. Just enough to cool the air a bit and remind me that it was about time for Sam's nap.
To our little family, Memory Park is aptly named indeed. It's where Clayton proposed and where we gathered as a family for a pre-wedding breakfast picnic. When we lived in Salt Lake a couple years ago (before we moved to Maine for a year), we lived within walking distance of the park and hardly a day went by that we didn't stroll through it.
It's nestled in a ravine with the mountains rising up on both sides. The "formal" area of the park is immaculately kept with a beautiful rotunda, pond and charming footbridge. But what I love is that you can follow the stone path to the edge of the woods where it turns into a dirt foot path that accompanies the river up into the hills.
In some places the path forks, only to rejoin the main path a bit farther down. There are stone steps, old ruins, and stone foundations of pioneer houses. It was sitting on the edge of some of these stones, in a little cluster of trees that Clay proposed. And I said yes, of course I said yes.
We found some wild plums, which Sam loved. He got pretty good at spitting out the pits; I think he only swallowed two...
One of Sam's favorite things is gathering and throwing rocks. Anywhere we go he's sure to spot a rock and pick it up. He was in heaven tromping through the rock-riddled woods. Along the path there's a rock foot that's been there as long as I can remember, several years at least. I'm sure the toes come loose now and again and it pleases me that people always replace them. I love spontaneous, quirky things like this.
One of my dearest friends who I always visit when I come home to Maine is actually one of my mom's dearest friends too. She taught my Sunday school class when I was about 11 or 12 and ever since then we've held annual girl camp outs with canoeing, foil dinners, skinny dipping, blueberry picking and foot massages. Only in the last few years have the camp outs fallen away as we girls have moved to all corners of the country, but we still try to get together with Chrissy whenever we come home.
Chrissy's home has the peaceful loveliness of a temple. Her home is full of thoughtful details (cool water with lemon when I arrived!); blooming, growing things; delicious and healthy treats and plenty of handmade goodness. She and her husband built their home stick by stick and it's still a labor love, changing and improving as the years go by.
Each thing in her home is there with purpose, there is no excess, no quantity in lieu of quality. She'd rather have fewer wooden spoons, than oodles of plastic ones. Deep blue, glass dishes are washed and dried by hand in a beautiful, gray slate, farm-style sink.
One of the wonderful things about Chrissy is that she LOVES her work as a reflexologist. She derives genuine joy from giving other people comfort and health and considers it a privilege to share her gift. And what a gift it is! I absolutely melt under her hands. Some people just have knowing hands and she is one of those people. She can read the bottoms of your feet and ascertain the health of the rest of your body, even where you're carrying stress or if your digestion is sluggish.
She's one of the most delightful combinations of hippie and Christian; so peaceful and kind, so gentle in her dealings with people, the land, and any living thing. I always feel so relaxed as soon as I cross her threshhold. It's like entering a time warp though. Somehow I passed the entire morning there, well into the afternoon. Driving down the long dirt road to her homestead in the woods, you feel like you completely leave the world and all notions of schedules and hurrying behind you. Spending time with Chrissy is always such a good reminder of what's important; kindness, living mindfully, gentleness and simplicity.
Nothing gets done to completeness while Sam is awake; the dishwasher half loaded, a pile of laundry left half folded, an email unsent, an unfinished bowl of oatmeal congealing. This is what my mornings look like pre-nap time. During that small one hour window while he sleeps I scurry around tying up loose ends and righting the chaos that follows Sam like a shadow. So how is it, that so often I find myself unable to rise from the nursing chair when he has blissfully fallen asleep? I stroke that soft hair and marvel at his perfect skin, that sweet baby smell, the even, trusting breathing of a body tumbled headlong into sleep. I can't tear myself away, it is too precious, too fleeting. I feel these moments disappearing like smoke before I can even fully appreciate them. Yesterday he started walking for real, toddling away, a fearless explorer. The laundry waits, my stomach reminds me of my unfinished breakfast, yet I cannot let go. I sit, slowly rocking, holding tightly my sweetly sleeping babe as if to more fully cement this moment in memory.
I lay in the grass in our backyard today. It is blisteringly hot. The air is heavy, lightly humming. Lying down, on the grass, it is several degrees cooler and there is a definite sense of recharging, from being there only a few minutes. It's amazing how much I can refill my reservoir simply by taking a brief moment to be present, to observe, to be still.
I loved the new perspective I had on the ground. I thought about Sam and how he views the world, everything new and exciting. I couldn't help but dash back inside for camera, then settle back onto my blanket and peer around at the yard from bug's(or baby's)-eye vantage point to see what I would discover.
All within arms reach were dozens of delights in texture, color and pattern; Rockefeller's speckled, soft feather, the weightless dandelion seeds, ready to take flight, and the darling purple phlox blossoms. I adore phlox. When I was young my dad and I would canoe down the river by our house. The steep banks would be covered in sweet smelling phlox and forget-me-nots. The perky pink, purple and white flowers always remind me of those canoe rides. So happy to have them growing in our backyard.
I loved the section where they had things made by kids. When I was young, maybe 12 or 13, I used to sell earrings at a little shop in town. I loved the act of making something and displaying it, and the fact that people occasionally bought them just thrilled me to pieces. There's something about creating whether it's an apron, a dog house or homemade bread, that seems to invite the collaboration of generations and the passing on of information. There are plenty of things for kids to occupy their time with; how lovely to see some of them creating beautiful things.
Tanya Newbury had some of the most delightful illustrations. I wanted to get a whole series for Sam's room. They brought to mind The Little Prince.Sam especially loved this little box with a bear and boy on it.
Tanya also maintains the UtahEtsy blog, which has loads of beautiful things made by local gals.
I love anything textural with natural fibers, especially when distinctly different materials are combined. Sarinda Jones does this so beautifully; her pieces are sculptural and mimic natural forms in metal and fiber; so cool!
Eve Napierski had the cutest little felt baby watches. I tried one on Sam and every person that walked by "Aww"-ed and thought it was adorable, which it really was. I'd love to see him in one of these and a little tweed jacket with elbow patches; do they make those for babies?
These beautiful skirts made me wish I had a little girl! Sometimes I ask Sam if he has a little sister or a little brother coming next; I figure he has the best chance of knowing! But so far he's keeping mum about it. This is about the cutest idea ever: dollhouse kits. Noelle Olpin filled bags with everything you need to create a little dollhouse in a suitcase (wooden, clothespin-type dolls (unpainted), bits of cloth, lace etc., little wooden furniture pieces, even the suitcase to set it all up in!). She also had these great bags in wonderful fabrics. I really, really want one!
Susan Peterson used the loveliest fabrics. She had these darling birds, which I loved because I've used that same pattern (maybe it was on the Purl Bee? Can't quite remember...) to make a mobile for Sam. I'd totally get a handful of her little dresses if I had a little girl.
Note: Found the bird pattern; it was here at Spool.
This week I'll be sharing some of my favorites from the Beehive Bazaar. This is Emily Sparks. Her's was the first booth that really stopped me in my tracks. How cool are those crocheted earrings? I love over-sized, statement jewelry. I would totally wear these!
She also had some rad, crocheted frogs that Sam was into. And some exciting news? A little bird told me she'll be hosting a give-away here on Progressive Pioneer...
I happen to have completely lucked out when it comes to having the world's greatest husband. Among his myriad talents (chicken coop building, gardening, foot massaging, love letter writing etc.) he also happens to be a fabulous illustrator. I would brag about his accolades, but he'd be embarrassed. Instead, I will direct you to his website. He's currently designing furniture and absolutely loves it. But, he still finds time to do things like design lovely headers for his wife's website. He has a promised a new one for each season and maybe some extras in between!
He also did an illustration for our wedding announcement in lieu of the traditional photo.