Mary Mary Quite Contrary…

We’re so excited about the changes to our yard/garden/homestead this year!  A little pictorial:

Last year we had eight raised beds.  This year we’ve adding three more to accomodate more of the same veggies as well as some newcomers (spaghetti squash, radishes, watermelon, pumpkins).  It would be an even twelve except for the fact that, come camping season, we’ll need to be able to back the camper onto the grass and empty the black water tank’s contents into the septic tank.  Don’t want to mess with that!

Last year we planted four varieties of raspberry bushes and Phil built a beautiful trellis to support them as they grow.

I can’t wait to see which flowers bloom in our side yard!  This is where we’ve been throwing bulbs, plants we’ve uprooted while changing around other parts of the yard, etc.  Just before my grandparents’ house was sold last year we transplanted a whole bunch of wildflowers from my grandmother’s garden and it will be neat to see them bloom in their new home.  Sadly, my grandfather’s concord grapes didn’t root, but we hope to get some down the line.

Another experiment this year (although in the picture the cages are empty): potato towers.  This will free up one of the beds for other produce and will be neat if it actually works.

We have been awaiting the arrival of Spring expressly for the purpose of finally buying our fruit trees!  Well, that and the warmer weather.  Last year we asked one of the farmers’ market sellers that we frequent where she buys her trees and shrubs.  She told us about Roseland Nurseries in Acushnet, MA, where we scored on both price and quality of our fruit trees (and bushes – the aforementioned raspberries and newly-acquired blueberries).

When we checked them out last year we took a couple hours to walk around, check out their gorgeous selection, and myself drool over the beautiful roses.  I hope to eventually add a couple rose bushes near our front door.

And tomorrow is the Big Day, one we are both excited and a little nervous about: Bee Day!  Gwen and Josiah already announced that they will need to wear yellow and black for the occasion.  We’ve been talking about the idea of getting honey bees for a while now, finally placing an order for two packages earlier this year.  Phil picks them up after he gets off work in the morning, and we’re wondering how their move into the new hives will fare.  Phil built two beautiful top bar hives and we helped him decorate them.  They will do wonders for our garden and I can’t wait to start getting honey!

We have so many dreams and ideas for our little patch of earth and, slowly but surely, they are coming to fruition. We’ve talked about raising chickens and goats, and if it weren’t for the fact that we like to go camping during the warmer months, we might have a chicken coop in the yard.  Lucky for us, we have friends nearby who DO have chickens and are generous with their fresh eggs.

I’d love to hear what’s going on in your yard this year.

*Check out my gardening Pinterest board for inspiration.

Handmade Gifts for a New Mama

If your name is Jen Curry and you’re my sister-in-law, stop reading now or else you’ll ruin the surprise!

 

 

 

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My sister-in-law just gave birth to her seventh son and she pretty much has everything she needs, but I still wanted to give her something special.  I asked her what she wanted and apparently she gave away her nursing cover (maybe she thought she was done having kids??), so that was her request.

Her last cover was the typical apron-style nursing cover that, in my opinion, doesn’t offer the best coverage and tends to scream “I’m nursing a baby!”  And while nursing a baby is nothing to be ashamed of, I for one prefer a bit more subtlety and style.

While pregnant with Adeline I purchased a bamboo nursing poncho and fell in love with it.  If I had known how simple the construction was I would have made it myself!  I have the mauve color, which I think goes with lots of things, and while I don’t wear it as well as the model, it’s very versatile and stylish.

I wanted to try something similar and purchased a silky jersey/rayon blend material in a pretty light blue.  I basically followed the tutorial for this DIY Modern Nursing Shawl, adding a bit of an allowance for seams on all sides and buttons along half of one side.

Since I wanted my sis-in-law to have options, I also made an infinity scarf that can double as a nursing cover.

Another of her requests was a set of clips that can turn any blanket into a nursing cover, used later to turn a towel into a bib, whatever.  Similar to these, I turned a set of mitten clips, D-rings, and some fabric into this little contraption:

These, in addition to a fabric nursing necklace I gave her at her gender reveal party, make some fabulous gifts for nursing mamas (in my humble opinion, of course).  A great go-along resource and the only nursing book I have is The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

Wanting to add something just for baby, I tried my hand at some baby shoes.  A pair for her little guy, then I kept on going with a larger pair for Addy.  See the little buttons on Addy’s floral pair?  She ate two of them while I was going through my button stash.  Oops.  I know at least one made it out the other end!

I love how they turned out!  On my to-do list, another pair in leather.

To top it off a wooden teether toy:

I love making things for babies!

What’s your favorite gift to buy, make, or receive for babies?

New Wooden Pretend Play Sets

For a while now I’ve been wanting to expand my handmade items to include wooden toys.  I have made wooden birds and other wooden things, but those are mainly for decoration.  My husband uses his woodworking skills to create beautiful game boards, and even though I don’t know how to turn and drill the wood pieces myself, I love the idea of working with the material.

We love natural toys (I could spend all day drooling over Waldorf toys!), so this came as a natural progression of my crafting process.  Since I’ve been in baby mode for a while now I made some wooden teething rings with fabric ties.  I made one recently to go with a baby shower gift and it was the icing on the cake!

Bunny Ears Baby Chompers

In addition to the peg doll gnomes I made recently, I also started working on some other projects inspired by things I’d see around the crafting community.  Since my kids love mini versions of real items – especially food-related things – I decided to start there.

Scoop the Rainbow | Pail of Eggs | Blueberry Breakfast | Nest of Natural Eggs

Gwen and Josiah helped me with almost all of the items – painting, sealing, and the all-important product testing.  As soon as the sets were finished they absconded with the pieces and had a “picnic.”  Phil and I looked at each other and joked, “Kid-tested, mother-approved.”

It’s important to me that I find a local – or at least American-made, ideally small-business – resources for my supplies, and I was lucky enough to find quality wooden pieces made in New England.  I fill in the blanks, personalizing the pieces with paint, sealing them with a beeswax polish and sewing cute little bags to store the items.  I particularly fell in love with the drawstring pouch that carries the multi-colored eggs and am trying to figure out how to work it into other projects.

These items (and more!) are currently available at Tula Tinkers in Richmond, RI.  Of course I’d love to take custom orders as well. :)  For more pictures of my handmade items see Gwendylicious.  

 

Addy Turns One

*sigh*  My little baby is officially one year old.  Each child grows up more quickly than the last, it seems.  They watch and learn and try to keep up, growing up much too fast for my taste.  I cried a bit on her birthday for I no longer have any babies.

I didn’t take as many monthly photos as I would have liked, but I did take a few last month…

For her birthday month I wanted to take some special shots.  Since she was born around Valentine’s Day I wanted to dress her up with wings, like cupid, and in something pink and girly and frilly.  She didn’t really cooperate but I’m hoping to get a few more tries before she grows out of the outfits.

Mommy and Daddy took her out for breakfast on her special day and she had us all to ourselves since the big kiddos were with the grandparents.  We ordered pizza for dinner and dessert was fruit with coconut cream topping and sprinkles to make it festive.

I wanted to have a party for her but didn’t want to go crazy with food and guests ‘n’ all.  Instead, we had the grandparents over for cake and ice cream.  I planned on making the cake but my mom had a coupon for a free bakery cake.  I wish I had gone with the homemade!  The cake tasted oddly chemical, like there were no natural ingredients whatsoever!  The bright side: even though there was a lot of cake leftover I didn’t really want to eat any of it.  A miracle!

The highlight of the party was the gift from Meme and Pepe: a Kubota pedal toy tractor with trailor.  It’s for all of the kids, really, but they decided to give it to Addy and the kids can all use it during the warmer months.  Daddy, Josiah and Pepe put it together…

Here’s to another year of growth and curiosity and wonder and beauty and making Mommy smile.

Shop Local

I was so upset recently when I found out Small Circle would be closing its doors.  Their shop was ruined when the pipes above froze and burst shortly after the holidays.

When Sarah Memoli initially contacted me through Etsy and inquired as to whether or not I would be interested in placing my handmade items in their store for the grand opening two years ago I was really excited. It was wonderful getting to know her and her husband John and sharing their passion for local, small-business products. I hope they open another location!

A bunch of my things got ruined in all the water from the pipes, but we still had some leftovers to pick up.  We came home with a load of unsold things.  Shortly after that we picked up some more of our things from Whimsies; they didn’t sell as well as we had hoped and the driving distance wasn’t economical.  I was so disappointed with the whole endeavor but decided to look into a lead that Andrea at Whimsies had given me.

She told me about a new place called Tula Tinkers in Richmond.  After a few e-mails back and forth with Alyssia, the owner, Phil and I drove there today to “hawk our wares,” as I like to say.  It was so nice to meet her and browse all the interesting treasures. It’s small, but the space is really maximized and has an eclectic array of items.  Tula Tinkers features over forty local artists (yay!), they have a variety of unique, locally handmade crafts, jewelry, gifts and more.

Alyssia loved our items and took the majority of them – keep your fingers crossed that people will love them and her shop will do well!  Shortly after arriving home I got an e-mail from her that a couple things already sold!  If you’re in the area, check them out; there’s always a holiday, birthday, anniversary, some sort of special occasion or “just because” around the corner!

Peg People, Paper Hearts, & Pie

February. Really?  I know it’s trite… but where does the time go?

I’m up watching the Olympics and old episodes of Medium.  Normally I do something productive while essentially wasting time, but that pile of laundry isn’t exactly calling my name.

Up until recently I was burning the midnight oil by sitting at the sewing machine with some project or another.  I had just finished an inventory order for Small Circle when we got the terrible news that they would be closing their doors for good.  We’re kind of still processing the loss of this wonderful endeavor with some equally wonderful people and hope another door will open in the future.

Though it might not make me any money, there are no shortage of projects around here.  There’s always something on my to-make list!  Gwen loves to read and has admitted on occasion that she reads in her bed if she can’t sleep.  For a while I’ve wanted to make a book sling to hang next to her bed and I finally chose a bright, cheerful fabric and found suitable hardware for Phil to help me finish the job.  I love how it turned out!

In the past I’ve played around with wooden peg dolls and had different variations in mind.  I finally decided to whip up some gnomes with felt accoutrements for the kiddos’ Valentine mailboxes and their friends’ goody bags.  They are so whimsical and I hope they inspire hours of imaginative play!  Thanks to Wee Folk Art for the inspiration and patterns.  I used a mix of wool blend felt from BenzieDesign on Etsy and an assortment of your run-of-the-mill craft felt on these little guys.  I also played around with ideas for little pouches to put them in – something like a sleeping bag, a leaf, a little purse or pouch, even a house… so many ideas!  Since they are for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to somehow incorporate a heart.  I got the idea to weave a Danish heart from felt and then attach a handle so it could be carried around, like a little purse.

I can’t wait to see the kiddos’ faces when they open them!  I even made one for Addy!  She caught a glimpse of one I made and flashed a huge grin and grabbed for the cute little gnome hat.  I found her a pink mailbox in the Target dollar section and personalized it just for her.

In the same Waldorf-inspired vein, my sister-in-law asked for a baby shower gift and I thought of some more natural options.  She loved the teether toys I made while trying to figure out what to make Addy for Christmas, then thought it would be neat to give some wooden blocks.  I made my first lined drawstring bag with gusseted corners (mostly using this tutorial, I think) and filled them with blocks that were sealed with beeswax polish.

Can you believe Addy’s first birthday is just around the corner?  Almost every day I lament the passing of time!  She has caught on to a few simple ASL signs - milk, more, please, even cheese!  It’s amazing how babies understand so much and will communicate if given the chance.  She recently started pointing and does so all the time, has started imitating things like reading aloud from books and talking on a phone.  

Since she was born shortly after Valentine’s Day I’m thinking hearts are in order, but I’m keeping it very simple.  I want to make a heart-shaped cake using a recipe for chocolate beet cake and covered with paleo frosting (maybe with a bit of cream cheese thrown in there).  Not a lot of extras and our Valentine’s Day decorations are all she’s getting.

Tonight I’m going to make a trail of paper hearts leading to the kitchen table where I’ll put the kiddos’ gifts and sometime before bed I’m going to make a dessert for tomorrow: strawberry cream pie with grain-free crust.  Growing up, my mom always made me feel special on Valentine’s day with a goody bag of things just for me, and I want to do the same for my children.

*For more ideas and inspiration see my Valentine’s Day Pinterest board. 

In which I sum up the past couple of months

Long time no see! As usual, I’ve been busy, even with a self-imposed blogging hiatus.  For homeschool I’m trying to maintain a balance of learning through play and sticking to my book list, not being too militant when I don’t get something crossed off my list for the day.  We’ve been working our way through some FIAR titles, including The Salamander Room, Henry the Castaway, Amber on the Mountain, Daniel’s Duck, The Pumpkin Runner, and this week The Hickory Chair (that last one made me cry!).

Last month for my birthday I crossed something off my bucket list – flying to Florida!  By myself.  With Adeline.  My twin brother and his wife live there – right near the beach – and we had a lot of fun, over with way too quickly.  Some of my family members conspired against… er, “surprised” me by funding a trip to Disney (Magic Kingdom and Epcot, as well as Seaworld), and since that’s my sister-in-law’s favorite place on earth, they were thrilled to take me.

In my “spare time” I’ve been working here and there on sewing projects – both some oldies but goodies as well as trying a few new things.  For a baby shower, I whipped up some embellished burp cloths, a necktie onesie, bandana-style bib and a fabric nursing/teething necklace.

I got a jump on making Christmas and birthday gifts so I wouldn’t be rushing, working on some requests for one of my cousins and a few for my own kiddos.  A fabric doll for a special little girl, some clothespin aprons (I love the color combinations, for two women who like warm colors), birthday crowns for Gwen and Josiah, and a car carrier for Josiah’s stocking.  Not pictured are some crayon rolls, sachets, cup cozies and a couple other things.

Well, there’s laundry to fold, lunch to make, other projects on my list, and I’m still in my pjs.