30 October 2008

a photo session and a random winner

a couple weekends ago (when the weather still remembered it was fall) i had the opportunity to do a photo session of one of my bestest friends and her family.

the camera just loves them, and they were incredibly easy to work with (although when her hubby said he was "channeling brad pitt" i had to issue a stern warning to quit making the photographer laugh, lest they end up with a hundred blurry photos from camera shake).

thanks, guys. i had SUCH a great time.

and now for the winner of the softie doll giveaway:

numero nueve is jen, who is an amazing artist and one of my favorite people of all time because she is just so brilliant and sweet (plus also she loves all the same books and movies i do).

congrats, girlie! i think i have your addy on file, but i may be overestimating my organizationalness. i'll shoot you a note if i can't find it (so yeah, expect to hear from me soon).

and thank you all for commenting--i honestly think i get far more out of these giveaways than the winner, as the stories you share seriously brighten my life. it's nice to know there's so much good stuff going on in this world, isn't it?

happy thursday, friends.

25 October 2008

softie doll tutorial

as you may recall, a couple weeks ago i stitched together this doll for elle's birthday.

they have become fast friends. elle calls her softie "frost" and totes her along just about everywhere.

want to make your own? here's a basic tutorial...

felted wool (3 colors for skin, cheeks, and hair)
variety of fabric (printed cotton wovens, corduroy, etc)
variety of colored thread
stuffing material
dried beans, optional
fusing material, such as heat n bond

1. sketch and cut out the pattern. i use heavier stock magazine/catalog pages for durability, but you may prefer tissue paper for ease of pinning.

eta: i used to have a smallish pattern here, but a couple generous readers have drafted correctly scaled patterns and generously shared them here.

the following are jpg files drawn up by the artistic hubby of lisa hanna:






a HUGE thank you to lisa & hubby! :)

for those who'd prefer a pdf, avani palkhiwala has created this gorgeous file for us:

Doll Pattern PDF

thank you, avani! i'm in awe of your generosity and killer pdf-making skills!

2. pin your pattern pieces on the fabric/felted wool and cut out each piece (unless you'd prefer to go this route** in step 5, as i often do). you'll also need to cut out a wool piece for the hair, as well as two cheek rounds. i like my rounds to be different sizes for a touch of whimsy, but if the type-A in you brandishes a heavy stick at the thought of this, feel free to make yours identical.

(note: seam allowances are included, so no need to add your own unless you'd like a slightly larger doll.)

you should end up with something like this:

3. pair a hand piece with a sleeve piece; pin right sides together and sew.

open, press the seam flat, and topstitch.

the right side should look like this:

and the underside like so:

repeat with the remaining arm pieces and the leg/sock pieces.

4. pair a hood and body piece, right sides together, and sew. open, press, and topstitch. repeat with the remaining hood and body piece.

5. fuse one side of the heat n bond onto the backs of the felted wool face, cheeks, and hair pieces. **instead of cutting out the wool pieces separately (in step 2), i personally like to trace the pattern onto the heat n bond, cut out the pieces with a slight margin, fuse them on to felted wool, and then cut out the fusing and wool together.

peel off the waxed paper backing from the face, fuse to the doll's front piece, and topstitch around the perimeter. repeat with the hair and cheek rounds; topstitch decoratively as desired. (on elle's softie i hand-stitched the cheeks; on penelope--below--i machine-stitched a circular swirly.)

now you should have this:

6. pair up the arm pieces and sew right sides together. sew a second seam to reinforce the stitching. trim seam allowances and flip right-side out. repeat with the legs.

with cotton-ball size puffs, stuff the arms and legs with your stuffing material. push each piece in with a pencil firmly to the end of the appendage; if you try to stuff too many puffs at once or too large of a piece of stuffing, you'll end up with lumps.

7. baste stitch the arms and legs where you'd like them to attach on the right side of the doll's front piece. the appendages should all be sewn facing inward at this point.

8. pin front and back pieces, right-sides together, with the arms/legs sandwiched in between (the sandwiching is the tricky bit). sew together along the outer edges, leaving about a 3 inch space to turn the doll right side out. reinforce your stitching by sewing back over the seam.

9. turn the doll right side out and say hello to your almost-completed softie.

10. stuff body with small tufts of stuffing (if you want the softie to be self-sitting, you can fill the bottom fourth with dried beans or a similar weighted filling).

11. hand stitch the gap closed, and voila. meet penelope.

if you find yourself thinking after that 11 step process: hmmmn, i'd like a doll but i'd rather not have to do the actual making of it, here's a giveaway just for you.

to enter for a chance to have penelope live at your very own house, simply describe to me in the comment section below one of your favorite gifts of all time. no pressure to wax eloquent; the winner will be drawn randomly.

this drawing will close on wednesday, october 29th, so please enter promptly. grazie!

22 October 2008

unscheduled partial lobotomies

so about my unscheduled absence: we lost internet access for four days, thanks to a cut and frayed outdoor cable that was supposed to have been safely buried by the cable company oh, about two point five years ago. not that i'm complaining. they fixed me back up, so we are bff's again.

incidentally, losing internet is like functioning with only half a brain: suddenly the wealth of information normally available within a few clicks is now lost in the swirling ether. stuff like what's the shortest route to the airport, or what will the weather be like this weekend, or exactly how many children is angelina jolie planning on having--you know, the vital knowledge of daily survival. how on earth did our parents manage, i ask you. okay, right. they had a life.

speaking of parents, mine arrived here safely yesterday morning via the infamous combination red-eye flights from oahu to the midwest. it's good to have them close for these few weeks.

i shall likely be scarce for a while here, but i will be sure to pop in with the promised softie doll tutorial, um, soonish.

i hope you all are experiencing equally full and rich lives this week. :) toodles for now.

15 October 2008

autumn and jewels and the warmest of thanks

i'm loving these fall walks with my littlest one:

it's a veritable wonderland out there. people question my sanity on a weekly basis, hearing that i traded hawaii for the midwest; but stepping outside in october, i'd say i got the better end of the bargain.

next on the agenda: we've got a winner for the earrings...

(and the enlarged version for those of us not equipped with super spidey vision)

so the eighth commenter is sweet wendy--yay! what's extra cool about wendy winning is that i also greatly admire the person she describes. very apropos.

i also wanted to tell all of you, sincerely, how much richer you made my life with your stories of the people you admire. it's just what i needed this past week--a reminder of all the treasure this fragile life holds, and how so very often the things that are most valuable are not things at all, but bonds that tether our lives together in a way that yields beauty and hope, a way that makes us so much stronger than we could ever be on our own.


14 October 2008

self-portrait challenge: mirrors.2

βλεπομεν γαρ αρτι δι εσοπτρου εν αινιγματι

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face..." (1 Cor 13.12)

today's the funeral. i am not there.

i'm a bit sad about that, but it's all good because i'll see you on the other side, grandpa. face to face.

self portrait tuesdays

10 October 2008

trio of goodness

today is a blessed friday indeed, because i'm bringing you three of my favorite things: a shop update, an online yard sale, and a sweet giveaway.

first up, the shop: i've got a fresh crop of apron skirts (each one of a kind), corsage tees, and jewelry up for sale. these would make lovely gifts as well.

i'd love to have you stop by the shop when you have a free minute.

meanwhile, we've been cleaning out closets (by which i mean i've been cleaning out closets and everyone else has been sitting around saying, "mo-ommmm, where's my one jacket? i can't find my jacket," and then i say, "where have you looked?" and then they say, "what do you mean? i'm asking you, aren't i?").

here are a few of our too-small items; check out the whole collection at my online yard sale.

and now my favoritest bit: the giveaway.

with losing grandpa this week, i've been a little more cognizant of the kind of person i'd like to be, and this is a piece of it. i want to be someone who happily gives things away.

so here we are. a pair of chandelier earrings featuring sterling silver and jasper rounds, each wire wrapped by hand. perfect for wearing. perfect for gifting.

to enter to win these guys, just tell me in the comments below about someone in your life whom you look up to. i'll give you a few days to enter; the lucky winner will be picked on tuesday, oct 14th.

ps softie tutorial coming soon! i'm actively working on it. :)

08 October 2008


this life is a tricky thing.

full of celebration and sorrow, sometimes in the same breath.

yesterday, my elle turned four. she has so much personality, this kid: sweet and wily, firmly independent. she loves books and the making of things, like her mother; noise and a happy sort of bedlam, like her brothers. i just can't get enough of her.

oh, how that girl makes my heart sing.

then there's the sorrow.

while we were in the middle of cupcakes and presents, most of this continent and half the pacific ocean away, something of an entirely separate nature was transpiring. my paternal grandfather's heart, the one that had beat so unfailingly for ninety-three years, finally gave up.

he had such a full life, both because God had blessed him over and again, and because he was gracious and tender and generous to those of us lucky enough to know him. he had spent most of this past year in agonizing pain, and i am thankful for his release.

oh, how that man made my heart sing. i miss him so.

07 October 2008

self portrait challenge: mirrors.1

Long had paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream --
Lingering in the golden gleam --
Life, what is it but a dream?

(Lewis Carroll)

self-portrait tuesdays

03 October 2008


apparently i was so swept up in wednesday’s state of bliss that i neglected to give you september's booklist. my apologies.

THE LOVELY BONES alice sebold
ELDEST christopher paolini
THE HOST stephenie meyer

my favorites from the above list:

MANGO STREET is an assemblage of vignettes that speak of home in writing that one critic aptly described as "spare yet luminous." read this.

as evidenced by the surfeit of colfer, i love me some ARTEMIS FOWL. short, snappy books written with humor that mirrors mine so flawlessly, colfer and i could be identical twins parted at birth. except that he’s irish. and male. oh, and brilliant and talented. so yeah, maybe we could just be people with really similar tastes in humor.

also, i should mention that HALF BLOOD PRINCE is a mighty good read...rowling is so far-famed that it seems redundant to recommend harry potter (i’m assuming that if you have interest in this series, you’ve already read it). but still, my official stance: mighty good read.

so now, your turn: anything delightful you've read lately? contrary to what i used to believe, i'm not particular about genre or theme...my single criterion is that the book enchants. what do you recommend?

01 October 2008

i am having a good life.

this morning elle and i rocked out with mozart while i finished up a few orders and she drew a series of letters and numerals on paper she lines herself, which she calls her "homework." (i keep telling her she will have years of this homework stuff in her future, no need to get a head-start on purgatory, but she is having none of it.) jodie's candle flickered on my sewing table, lacing the air with the warm scent of pumpkin cheesecake.

the orders are almost done and will ship out tomorrow, which is a good feeling in itself, plus this allows me to begin crafting a birthday something for my favorite girl.

last year i was all set to make the quilt, and we all know how well *that* went (or, more accurately, didn't go). yeah, it is still folded in a corner of my room, half-made; i'm hoping to finish it in time for elle's bat-mitzvah. it helps that we aren't jewish, so if i don't make this deadline she might not notice.

so, lesson learned there. this year i've set my sights on a couple smallish projects, the first being this little softie gal.

right now i am in the middle of sewing and turning and stuffing the limbs, which is always fun. and by fun i mean reminiscent of a guatemalan sweatshop*, just to be clear. the leg was particularly opposed to turning right-side-out, so much so that i briefly debated how much it would bother elle to receive a one-legged doll. i concluded, however, that i would more than pay for the saved labor in ensuing therapy bills, so i shall suck it up and sew the accompanying leg.

if all goes well, i'll post a softie-doll tutorial next weekish.

in the meantime, may your wednesday be thick with the scent of pumpkin cheesecake.


*that one was for you, karen. ;)