31 January 2011

free to a great home.

internet friends, meet phoebe.


she is squishy soft and crafted from european wool felt and the cheeriest cotton prints. phoebes would love nothing more than to be traipsed about the house in small arms, or to perch quiet-like on a dresser top and enjoy the thoughtful company of you.

[bonus points if you live in a stone tudor with secret passageways, or a sea-bright cottage, or anywhere within shouting distance of london. she has a soft spot for such things.]


if you'd like phoebe to come live at your place (or be gifted to someone dear to you), please tell me in the comments below the name of your best friend from childhood. [if you'd like an extra shot at winning, tweet or facebook this post, and leave me a second comment saying you did so.]

entries will close on thursday, february 3rd at 11:59pm est. a winner will be drawn at random and will likely be announced sometime friday.

bonne chance, and happy monday, friends!


update 2/4
we have a winner: christa, who wrote, In my early elementary years Cori and Tami were my best friends...and nearly 30 years and 10 kids among us later and with the whole country currently dividing us, they're still my closest friends.

congratulations, christa!

a warm and hearty thank you to all who dropped your names in. i can't tell you how lovely it was to hear about your childhood besties. we're a blessed bunch to have grown up alongside such good and zany folk.

29 January 2011

week in review.

so really, that title is misleading. i don’t actually remember the majority of this past week, which tends to make a review somewhat of a challenge. ’tis a lucky thing i occasionally take pictures and also that my camera has the foresight to record the date; then on saturday i can look back and say, oho! so that is what we were up to this week.

ps i do not actually say oho. that is one of those expressions confined to the imaginary conversations of this blog.

on tuesday, if my camera is to be trusted, elle played school with her stuffed menagerie of students. you’d think they’d be well-behaved, this bunch, what with their lack of vocal chords and all, but the way elle plays it you’ve never seen a class so teeming with hijinks.

on thursday, we dished up bowlish mugs of tortilla soup leftovers, and for the record: i could make a career of eating tortilla soup.

recently i’ve branched out and tried several different takes on this steamy goodness, the latest being pioneer woman’s recipe. ‘twas hearty and filling, but i think i’m still partial to the stuff i normally cook up, which has more of a clear broth base and not so much thickness going on with the tomato.

also, it probably snowed in the past seven days, but that's just an educated guess. this here's a recycled pic from several weeks back.


ah, this part i do remember. we spent about six hours today in the church gym playing basketball. em had a few unintentional assists, and zee and elle were beastly on defense. (for elle it was a delicate sort of beastly, but still. she was on her man.)

this afternoon the ever popular aunt kristin played games with the littles, and then after supper we all (minus the hubby, who had a meeting) lounged in the living room reading library books and scribbling stories. 'twas My Kind of Evening.

my plans for next week include roasting a salty batch of these beautiful guys and also a february giveaway (stay tuned!). and if you've known me a longish while, then yes, it is uncharacteristic and possibly disturbing to find me ogling french fry recipes, but it turns out that adoption cravings are also kind of real. (if you are arching an eyebrow in disbelief, it's okay. i would totally not believe me either if i weren't the one it was happening to.)

and now i am off to a book and bed. see y'all in the ayem.

27 January 2011

a recipe for antifreeze.

sometimes the little fellow in my brain who heads up Constant Vigilance grows a bit sleepy, takes an early lunch. and just that quick, a solid freeze steals over.

when i forget to watch for God, alarming things transpire. my compassion numbs. my vision dims at the corners, vignetting till it’s nothing but cobwebby tunnels. i go about the routine of today: scrubbing, neatening, simmering, stitching, but my work clatters loud in the hollowed out spaces of me.

the truth is, loving long distance wears me threadbare. i think of our four year old rising and eating and playing and sleeping, day after day after month after year with nary a family in sight. it crumbles me so many times i grow tired of the breaking, i beg for the bleeding to stop.

and He hears.

God floods me with grace, buoys my heart in reserves of strength that i'm certain weren't there yesterday. and i remember this saving thing: that i just have to pray one more day, i just have to love right now. and if i do it this way, hoping one hour at a time, He will show up soon hand in hand with our littlest boy.


and what a sight that will be.

* * *

[join us at emily's for more imperfect prose.]

24 January 2011

grace enough.

fabric swag

it seems we're making a habit of it, these nights short on shut-eye. i slid quiet between flannel sheets at a Reasonable Hour last night, but lay there brain-wired, wishing for sleep till sometime after 1:00. then five seconds later 'tis 4:40 and a voice calls to me from the bathroom, plaintive and small.

[why is it that the voices never call 'daddy' at 4am? what's the endless fixation with 'mommmmmy'?]

and as is my modus operandi, once i'm upright and disinfecting all washable surfaces, i never can manage to drowse off again.

nonetheless. it is monday and along with the good people of the gratitude community, i am choosing thankfulness.

#s 78-92

brimming gratitude today:

for clothes that keep even the littlest of us snug through a hard freeze

for leftover fabric scraps and selvages tied up into a cheery garland

scrappy little garland

[so confessional moment here: we have lived in this house going on 4.75 years, and only now have i bedecked that lonely curtain rod with a bit of swag. makes me shrug up my shoulders all happy every time i walk into the bathroom. yes, even in the wee hours of night.]

fabric scraps

for grace enough for this day

for food in the pantry

for sons who rub holes in their socks the very first wear

for the nannies chasing after our littlest on the far curve of the earth

for the bouncing fiasco that is kindergarten basketball

for an aunt and uncle and cousins who wake early and brave sub-zero wind to cheer on my kiddos

for pillowcase dresses and a high school gal who sees far beyond herself

pillowcase dress

for the librarian with the raspy voice who never runs out of lollipops

for a chance to see my beautiful older brother via webcam

for milk

for friends heading to africa

for big, someday dreams

and for ann, who knows what it means to breathe.

21 January 2011

for dad. on his birthday.

what's the best thing about grandpa?

m: how he likes to tease you.

b: he beats you at every game, basically.

z: he's part of the reason why i learned to play chess.

what does grandpa look like?

l: like a big tall man. a big tall man and a cane.


what would we do for grandpa’s birthday if he were here?

z: we would have ice cream cake with chocolate fudge.

m: make him a cake and we would play a game.

what game would you choose?

m: bananagrams

who would win?

m: me. i don’t think grandpa knows how to play.


how old is grandpa today?

m: eighty? seventy-five? what?

l: twenty.

what is your favorite thing to do with grandpa?

b: we play games on his computer in the morning.

m: read books with him. and we get to come over and play with him.

what do you play with him?

m: i watch tv with him. like sid the science kid.

z: chess.


what joke do you want to tell him?

l: why didn't the skeleton cross the road? because he didn't have the guts!

m: what does a turkey say on thanksgiving? cock-a-doodle-doo!

z: i have a really useless joke that isaac says but it’s not funny.

alrighty then. let's hear it. i guess.

z: okay. 'knock knock. who’s there? bob. bob who? bobtulotchee.' yeah, i don’t get why that’s funny.

b: chuck norris sleeps with a nightlight, not because he’s afraid of the dark but because the dark is afraid of chuck norris.


what would you like to say to grandpa on his birthday?

l: happy birthday, grandpa.

m: happy birthday, grandpa. i hope you had a nice day.

z: (singing) happy birthday to you, you live on oahu, you live in a palm tree, and you eat coconuts too.

b: eat more chicken.

have a good one, dad. i love you so.

20 January 2011

firing on two cylinders.

some days it's just plain hard to function properly.

especially when the day starts with my ten year old moaning softly in the bathroom at the crack of 4am, his head and abdomen ganging up to engulf him in one monstrous ache.

being the mother in this equation, i got up and walked the halls all squinty-like, partially because i left my glasses on the nightstand and mostly because the light was being rude to my eyeballs. i fetched a blessedly dim nightlight and smoothed layers of blankets on the bathroom floor, talked quiet and tucked zee in and thought vaguely that it was nice to still be needed, though perhaps not quite at this hour.

zee, of course, experienced a miraculous and full recovery by school time. me, not so much.

fast forward to right now, where my face is pufferfishish and i can barely keep my lids parted and up there in my frontal lobe i'm pretty sure my neurons are clean out of ammunition. [case in point: i just found a plate in my bedroom that was meant for the dishwasher.]

i forget where i was going with this.

anyhow, it's been snowing steadily in a powdered-sugar sort of way. makes me want to go out and twirl around and tip my mouth to catch a dusting, except that also it is cold out there, so never mind.

but good news. elle, who has not inherited my wimpy gene, was happy to go in my stead.

and now she is waiting for me to play a game with her, and the boys need homework checked, and dinner is clamoring to be made.

send in the reinforcements.

18 January 2011

little bib tutorial.

bibs are just about my favorite baby gift on the planet. they’re fantastically cute and useful to boot, plus they can be stitched up in under an hour (or two, if you’re opting to add an embroidered felt patch).

to make this little bib, you’ll need:

15”w x13”h piece of fabric (for the front)

15”w x4.5”h piece of coordinating fabric (for the bottom strip)

16”w x18”h piece of backing fabric (flannel, minky, chenille, etc)

small piece of hook and loop tape (ie velcro), about 1x2"

optional: small rectangle of cream wool felt, embroidery floss, small rectangle of iron-on fusible web (such as heat'n bond lite), sewing needle, sharpie


1. first off, you’ll need to draft a pattern for your bib. here’s a rough template of the pattern i’ve been using lately; it gives the bib a sweet retro bell-shape, but feel free to shape yours in a way that suits your fancy.

2. next, we’ll make the fabric panel for the front of the bib by joining the main piece of fabric to the coordinating bottom strip.

place these pieces right sides together, lining up the bottom edge of the main piece with the top edge of the coordinating piece. sew together.

3. open and press flat with an iron. topstitch across about an eighth of an inch from the seam.

4. fold your sewn piece in half lengthwise. pin pattern to fabric (taking care to line up the fold line) and cut out the front panel of the bib.

unpin and press flat.

5. (optional) if you wish to personalize the bib, use a sharpie to write the name on the fusible side of your fusible web piece. iron to adhere the web to the back of your wool felt. remove the wax paper from the back of the fused felt/web (your writing will now be reversed on the back) and hand stitch with embroidery floss.

5b. (double optional) this is a good time to catch a bit of a movie. i watched the second half of inception while stitching this little guy, and i was so busy counting how many dream levels we were in that it felt like the patch was finished in no time at all.

5c. (optional continued) trim the patch into a neat rectangle. iron to fuse the patch to the front of the bib, and machine stitch a couple times around to secure it in place.

6. bust out your chenille, or flannel, or whatever it is you’re using for the backing.

now here we reach a fork in the road. if you’re feeling meticulous, please proceed to step 7. (a choose-your-own-adventure tutorial! what fun!) if you’re the cheater sort, go to step 8. (in case you need incentive to come on over to the dark side, the cheater version has accompanying photos. those of you headed for step 7 get to be meticulous all on your own, sorry.)

7. option non-cheater: fold backing fabric in half lengthwise, pin pattern to fabric, and cut out the back panel. then align the front and back panels, right sides together, and pin in place. stitch together along the edges, leaving a 3 inch gap on one of the sides.

8. option cheater-pants: place the front panel on the backing fabric, right sides together, and pin in place.

stitch together along the outside edge, leaving a 3 inch gap on one of the sides.

cut out the backing, following the edges of the front panel.

9. if you are using chenille as your backing, step nine is where you brush off the fuzzies from your jeans. you may also want to vacuum your floor, your hair, and the walls, as well as mutter under your breath about people who write tutorials calling for chenille.

10. trim the bulk from your corners, and clip the seam allowances along any curves.

11. turn right side out, pulling the fabric through the gap. use a knitting needle or similar object to coax out your corners. press flat with an iron.

12. topstitch around the very edge of the bib, using a smaller seam allowance than you did in step 7 or 8. be sure to stitch your gap closed during this step.

13. add your hook and loop tape to the neck of the bib, sewing the loop to the front of the bib and the hook to the back of the bib on opposite sides:

and voila, you are finished.

back of the bib:

and the front:

drop me a note if you need more 'splainin, and please send me a link if you end up making one--i'd love to see!

16 January 2011

nesting and other spurious conditions that it turns out are real.

do you ever hit the weekend and wonder where the world your week got off to? i’m certain it was just monday, and here we are, ‘round the block again.

this morning half of us played church-hooky. bee had oral surgery on friday, and em woke feeling less than stellar, so we camped out on three stories of blankets atop the living room floor. star wars reruns flickered on screen, i alternately rubbed em’s back and felt his forehead, and bee hid a swollen jaw beneath a bag of frozen corn. wish you were here.

in other news, i am nesting. never mind that i thought it was totally fake before it hit me full-force, this adoption-nesting phenomenon; and never mind that it is kicking in way early as we have yet to be given a court date, let alone a visa appointment. i have spent the past several weeks itching to purge and scrub and rearrange, and i have unleashed this force on the most unsuspecting bits of our home.

first target: fireplace mantel. it’s been dusted within an inch of its life, and half the framed pictures will never be heard from again. [the remaining half are quaking in their boots, as they notice me eyeing them from across the room with Big Plans to remake the whole thing from scratch.]

next came the cedar chest. my uncle dave crafted this beautiful thing for my mother, but it turns out she lives in hawaii, sad news for her. [well okay, except for the eternal summer and beaches and food so amazing your mouth wants to sing. that’s the sad news for me.] but back to sad news for her: since it would cost its weight in caviar to ship to oahu, the chest got to come live with me instead.

i’ve filled the innards of this guy with childhood scraps and yearbooks and the cherished detritus of our expanding family. it used to all be piled in helter-skelter, but now everything beneath that wedding dress is boxed up and smartly labeled. i’m bound to go through it again; we’re making room in there.

and now i’m in the middle of cleaning out my work space, with a possible desk face-lift in the works. next up: bedrooms, living room, dining room, sunroom, bathrooms, and possibly the kitchen.

truly, nothing is safe.

ps so if i finish here with time to spare, i may show up on one or more of y'all's porches with a mop in hand and curious gleam in my eye. please let me in.

14 January 2011


dawn cracks open

spilling sun-yolk light


drowsing earth

burning cobwebs from this soul's rafters

quickening dreams gone limp

and glazing the world hopeful

with the promise of





[more imperfect prose here.]

12 January 2011

yesterday + some sneaky peeks

while it's been snowing like mad out there, i've been sewing up a storm in here.

that was remarkably less clever once it left my head, but moving on. many of the projects i'm stitching up are baby gifts for friends and such:

[sneak peek for tara] [okay. it looks kinda frumpled-ugly here, but i promise it's cute, tara]

[and for emi]

[and for elliott]

and also, i finished up a dress for elle.

this one's a classic party dress, full skirt, with a buttoned-up back. the original notion was to make it entirely one print, but in the end i caved to a band of minty floral at the hemline.

[floral print: wash day ticking by heather bailey, mint trim: bliss fresh aqua by bonnie&camille. pink pearl buttons are from grandma owens's jar of vintage buttons. oh, how i love bits of nostalgia stitched in.]

in our spare time, we are savoring many a bowl of pozole. [incidentally, this is my first experience purchasing whole hominy, a food i've firmly decided is like hydrated popcorn. which would be weird if it weren't so busy being delicious.]

i'm pretty certain i could happily slurp this soup come breakfast, lunch, and dinner from now till armageddon.

[disclosure: this picture is lying to you a little bit. usually i sprinkle a handful of tortilla chips over the top, which lends a lovely crunch to the whole experience. go and do likewise.]

also in our spare time we've been playing lots of this here twins matching game, where i'm sorry to report that elle has smoked my tail over and again because she is an evil genius like that.

you'd think she'd cut her old mum a break now and then, but no. she's ruthless, that kid.

ah well, happy wednesday, friends. be nice to your mothers.