Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Secret Garden

     Even though as a teenager I rarely helped my mom with her garden at home, in college it was something I knew I should start in order to make our dirty, fun, crowded, loud house into a home.  One spring weekend I piled "the boys" into my Jeep and off we went to Home Depot for boards, nails, soil and seeds.  I remember mornings taking my coffee to water the garden and sitting and staring at my sunflowers while everyone else was still sleeping; I felt like such a grown up.

     I have had a garden in every house I have lived in since, even if it was just a window box with herbs, or if the weeds and rusty debris littered through the yard stopped any of my veggies from actually producing something I could eat.  The first year Kyle and I lived together I was the garden instigator, and ever since it has been something we have planned and worked in together.  We have been living in this little green house of ours for three years now (an unbelievably long time for me!)

     We built the garden beds the first weekend we moved in to the house.

Small and simple, in the only sunny corner of the yard

     The fence was built the year after, when Buddy and Lacey were pretty sure they needed day time snacks and a soft place to lounge.

Clearly we know who the boss of this relationship was.
     Peep, Puffball and Marilyn came the year after that.

Marilyn is being a bit broody right now and doesn't feel like
smiling for the camera.

     This year, I have been a little busy, and even though planning and working in the garden were things I wanted to happen, I never made them a priority.  Annie and I did go along with Kyle to the coolest nursery in San Diego, checked out the goats, chickens, turkey, turtles, bunnies and donkey and helped pick out some seedlings.  And along with some gorgeous houseplants and succulents for the front porch, my mom bought us a packet of wildflower seeds by my request while she was here visiting/ saving our lives when Annie was born.  That was as far as my involvement in our garden went this year.

     But all the while, Kyle has been sneaking out there in the few spare minutes he could find and planting, spreading compost, watering, weeding and creating beauty.

Last year's hops are making a comeback!

The first poppy!

Two tiny apples starting to grow!

There are more tomatoes growing in a container in the sunnier front yard.
I can't wait for the BLTs!

    Most afternoons now, Annie and I take a walk to the garden to feel the sunshine, smell the flowers and see how the green leaves have grown.  

I have been given such a gift.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rectangle Dress Tutorial

     So, obviously, when you have a 3 1/2 month old baby and you are about to leave town for the weekend in 2 days to see family and attend the wedding of great friends (and former roommates,) the thing to do is decide to make yourself a new dress to wear to the wedding, without a pattern.

     I blame Pinterest.

     I saw a super cute dress on Pinterest, got super excited to make it, bought the pattern, bought the fabric, waited for the fabric to come in the mail, washed it, dried it, ironed it, then looked at the pattern. I measured myself and checked out the size chart and realized that at this point in time, with baby weight (aka Thanksgiving, Christmas and general January overindulgence because "in a few weeks she will be born and I will have to get serious and won't be able to eat ______ anymore" weight) still to be lost, I would have to make the largest size of the pattern, and actually make it a little bigger than the largest size.  I absolutely did not want to do all that work and use all that fabric and have it still not fit, and I will admit, just the whole situation made me mad and frustrated and like, ugh, screw this pattern!

     I now take back this sentiment.  This is just further motivation for me to get serious and get back in control and making myself the beautiful dress will be motivation and reward as I get closer to goal again.

    So this brings us to 3 days before the trip, 4 days before the wedding.  It is Annie's dessert time, almost time for bed and I am aimlessly trolling pinterest, when, suddenly! I see a cute and simple looking maxi dress! It looks comfy! It looks easy to make! It looks like I could breastfeed while wearing it! All the good things!  So I click the link and...


    Nothing! People!  Check your pins before pinning them! You get me all excited about something and then I have no tutorial or clues on what to do. My life is so hard!

    Fine, I will just go to bed, I'll bring a dress from my closet, no big deal... Hahaha! Yeah, right.

    So I start to look at the picture, and look at the fabric, I start sketching some pictures on the back of junk mail sitting around on my coffee table, I measure myself and do some math.  I am inspired!

    But at this point it really is bed time, so tomorrow it is!  Now I will admit, making a dress without a pattern while holding/feeding/playing with/reading to a small baby does not really allow for taking detailed pictures of the steps for blogging an excellent tutorial in the future.  So here it is, my tutorial with some pictures and some amazing works of art I drew on a drawing pad app on the iPad.  Be prepared to be blown away by my fingertip drawing skills!

Rectangle Dress Tutorial!

  • 3 or 3 1/2 yards primary dress fabric (depending on how tall you are/ how long you want this dress to be.  
  • 1/2 yard sash fabric
  • Thread (It will show on the finished edges at sleeve, neckline and hem, and on the top stitching on sash, so choose if you want something that will blend in, something that will provide an interesting accent color or you are too lazy to go back to the store so it will just be white!)


  1. Measure yourself from shoulder to ankle (or wherever you want the bottom of the dress to hit).  Add about 2 inches for the seam and the hem.  This will be how long you will cut the long side of each rectangle. 

2.  Measure yourself around wherever is your widest point.  This will obviously be different for different people, for me it was the hips.  

3. Take the number from around your widest point, and divide it by 4, then add 1.  This will be the width of each rectangle of fabric you will cut. 
4. Cut 4 rectangles of fabric using the dimensions you just measured (and calculated).  If your fabric has a pattern that has a specific direction, pay attention to that!  The first bibs I ever made were Dia de los Muertos bibs for the new son of some friends, and as soon as I finished sewing and turned them right sides out, I realized that on one bib, the skulls were sideways and on the other, they were completely upside down.  I still gave them the bibs, but just trying to save you having to make up some excuse for why the birds on your dress are all flying sideways!

5.   Line all 4 rectangles up, right sides together, and pin and sew them into basically a big tube with arm and neck holes.  On the front and back seams, leave however long you want the V at the neck and behind the neck to be.  

6.  Carefully (because it is full of pins!) turn the dress right sides out and (carefully!) try it on.  Find a sash/belt/scrap of fabric to tie around your natural waist line or right under the bust for an empire waist. This will allow you to see how the dress will look/ fit once you make the pretty sash.  Y'know, if you really wanted to be on top of it I guess you could make the sash first, then use it now, but that part isn't coming till the end of the tutorial, so you will have to do some scrolling up and down!

7. Turn in the edges (twice so there will be finished edges and you will be able to wash this dress, and so you wont look like a pirate with fringed clothing!) how and where you want the neckline to be, and the same with the armholes.  I made the shoulder significantly narrower and had to cut out some fabric.  You could also leave them wide and they could be kind of little cap sleeves.  Just play around with the pins and the fabric.  Find what looks and feels right to you!  I also pinned in a little at the waist line to make a smoother curve from armhole to waist.
8.  Now this part is tricky...

Take off the dress! Carefully because now it is really full of pins!  Turn it inside out again carefully transferring the pins as needed from the outside to the inside.

9.  Fold and press the edges you have pinned.  Sew them.  It will look something like this!

This big triangle of fabric is what I cut out in shaping the arm holes.
Don't ask me why I remembered to take pictures of this step and nothing else.
10.  Flip it and try it on again.  You should be able to take the pins out at this point, making things a little easier.  Make any adjustments you need to, pin and sew again, unless you are way more awesome than me and were able to pin it perfectly the first time.  Be sure to have something tied around your waist so you will know how the finished dress will look.

11.  Hem! Hopefully a friend will help with this step.  You need to be wearing it and if you try to bend over to hem,whichever direction you bend will get longer.  Its not impossible, just tricky and requires lots more adjustment.  

Fold it up and in where you want the bottom of the dress to hit and pin in place.  Using an iron, press the bottom edge, then double fold the fabric to finish the edges (again, to avoid looking like a pirate after washing the dress.

The Sash

1.  Using the sash fabric, cut a rectangle of fabric as long as you can/want to!  It has to be long enough to go around you, tie, and do some cute bow thing at the end Plus 1 inch to finish the edges!  The width of the rectangle will be double the width you want the belt to be Plus 1 inch for seams!

2.  Fold the long rectangle in half lengthwise, right sides together.

3. Sew a straight line!

4.  Turn the tube right side out.

5.  Fold in the ends, press flat, top sew all the way around ( I did a zigzag stitch because I LOVE zigzag stitch!

That is it! Easy breezy!  
Sorry about the dark picture,
taken with my phone with no flash because baby girl
was sound asleep right behind me! 

     I loved this dress because I learned so much while making it.  I saw a picture, got inspired and made it happen.  The whole reason I started this business was because I love the excitement that comes with being actually creative, having an idea in my mind and making it happen.  I spend a lot of "work time" thinking about blogging, promoting the shop, pricing, costs and making lots and lots of bibs.  I love making bibs, they are adorable and the repetition of steps is soothing and it allows me to play with so many beautiful and unique fabrics.  But I don't really have to grow and stretch my brain in making them anymore.  Making this dress, I did.

     But there are also things I would change.  I am not going to put this dress in my shop (but if anyone out there really wants me to make them one, get in touch and we will make it happen, Margeaux: dress for hair?).  It is not super fabulous and amazing.  It is quick.  It is fun.  It is comfy.  It really highlights the beautiful fabric you are using.  
     I sewed this with quilting cotton.  Anna Maria Horner has an amazing way with pattern and color that always blows me away and inspires me to create things of beauty (look for some of those things to come to the shop soon!).  I could not resist using this fabric for this dress.  BUT I want to make the dress again in a soft and stretchy knit fabric.  I think it will drape more smoothly on the sides.  I will most likely use the same sash, because it is cute and I love it! It has narwhales, and seals, and walruses and little waves, and it is a beautiful shade of blue.  Plus it has a zigzag top stitch.  What could be better than that?  With the knit fabric it will also be even more soft and comfy, and I think if I actually make it in time I will wear it all summer!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


    There are many good things about San Diego that we try to appreciate and enjoy and take advantage of as much as possible while living here.  Great restaurants and parks we can walk to.  Some pretty seriously sunshiny weather.  The beach.  Lots of dog-friendliness.  But all the people and cars and traffic and pavement; pavement and big building everywhere, leave me feeling slightly stressed and claustrophobic and not quite able to breathe deeply without my even always knowing it.  

     Until I get out, into the trees, the mountains, the open for a few days.  I can feel myself breathe deep, exhale, relax, I can feel my heart open up in a way it never does in the city.  

     This weekend's camping trip to Mount Laguna was even better for my heart and soul and lungs because it was Annie's first ever camping trip of her whole life. Her whole life!

     Lacey knows when the sleeping bags come out, the cooler is loaded, the dog food is scooped and the car is packed that it is time for fun, and there is no way she is getting left behind!

     Annie on the other hand has no idea what her crazy parents are up to this time.  At only (ALREADY!) less than four months into her life, we had high hopes, but weren't entirely sure how this weekend was going to go.  Mount Laguna Campground in the Cleveland National Forest is somehow only a 1 hour drive from our house in the middle of the city (and a whole different world,) so we knew if this somehow turned into disaster we could just pack up, get in the car and drive home.  If it turned into an enormous disaster we could leave the stuff, get in the car, drive home and send Dad back to pack up later.  

     Mount Laguna is also perfect because the campground is always filled with nice people, the sites are spread out, there are hiking trails right out of the campground, there are ponds full of ducks, Lacey can run free on the trails (unless of course there are any National Forest Service rangers reading this, in which case of course we kept her on leash the entire time,) and in May it doesn't get too hot during the day or too cold at night.  

     Annie could not believe that we got to spend all day outside, looking at trees and flowers, listening to the birds, cuddling, wrapped up in blankets or under a big hat covered in sunscreen, walking around in the Ergo and eating!

She helped us set up camp,

She tested the comfort of our sleeping mats, sleeping bags and duna in the tent,

She looked up to the tops of the trees,

She watched her dog, who limps slowly along on leash on
sidewalks or paved paths by reservoirs bounce off like a puppy through tall grass and flowers at the first sniff of ducks in a muddy pond,

And she watched her wag her tail and try to catch those ducks,

She snuggled with Dad in the Ergo in the sunshine,

And with Mom in the Ergo in the freezing chilly evening wind,

She made this face,

And this one,

And she made Dad make this face,

She cheered us on as we made cinnamon rolls in a cast iron dutch oven over an early morning campfire for the first (and definitely not the last) time ever,

Just a little burned around the edges, luckily 6 cinnamon rolls leave plenty
of extra when shared between two people.
Next time not such a hot fire, or move the grate a little bit higher.
She looked at wildflowers with Mom,

I know what you are thinking: how, oh how do I get amazing hair like this?
Well, I will tell you, first, it must be kinda short and layered, then you french braid
it yourself in the car with no brush or mirror, then, and this is the most important step,
you sleep on it for two nights in a very small tent with a tall husband, a cuddly,
stinky dog and a tiny baby you are trying desperately not to squish.
I obviously use the term 'sleep' loosely here.
She ate buried in her baby duna on a 45 degree evening,

She motivated us to go on a 5 am, family, sunrise drive

And through all of that she even had time for a little FLT modeling.

Can't help myself!
     First thing Friday through Sunday morning, together in the sunshine.  No phones, TV, computer, buses, airplanes, neighbors, freeways, traffic or pavement.  It was just what we all needed to breathe deeply, exhale and relax.  And we were all ready for baths, showers and some serious naps by the time we got home, minus two sleeping bags, around lunch time on Sunday.  It is back to cooking and cleaning and swimming and sewing and reading and playing and our (incredible) every day life for now.  Planning the next adventure!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Intentions and Declarations

     Every time I sit down to write a post (and before I sit down to write it, and when I just think about writing it, and when I read blogs I love like this one and this one and this one and this one that do an amazing job of blogging regularly and giving beautiful and focused snippets of their lives and passions) I tell myself that I really need to post 2 or 3 times a week.  None of this once every few weeks thing that has been going on the past few months.  I know it is important in getting readership up.  I know it is what you are supposed to do if you want a "successful" blog.  It is on all the lists of what to do in building successful creative businesses.  And much more importantly to me personally, it would really help me focus.  I spend days thinking, oh, I am going to write a post on the dress I made for the wedding last weekend, then I don't write it and the weekend passes and the post becomes the dress and the wedding and the trip, which will obviously take longer to write, so again I don't write it because I don't have the time to focus on such a big post.  Then more time passes and the post becomes the dress and the wedding and the trip and how beautiful my garden has become all of a sudden.  Again, longer post, more time, don't do it. Then it is dress, wedding, trip, garden, bread for a party.  Then dress, wedding, trip, garden, bread, swim lessons, 5K, mother's day, new baby blanket, how much I love yoga.  And through all of those obviously will be mixed in the beauty and love of my baby girl!

     And the idea of somehow writing all of that in one post, that people will actually want to read, that will be focused and make sense and somehow convey all I want to say about all of those wonderful things is so overwhelming, and makes me feel so scattered and disorganized that instead I check Facebook and email and my Etsy shop stats over and over again in the 45 handsfree minutes I have that day while Annie is napping.

    Now here is really the point of this post.  One of the most important things I have learned from all my time at Weight Watchers meetings over the years is that telling people your intentions has amazing power in helping you to stick to them.  Partly I think this is because people are much more willing to help you meet your goals and stick to your plan if they know what that is and that it is important to you.  But also, really, who wants to make this big declaration about their intention to do some great goal, and then not do it.  You feel like a jerk, and no one wants that.

    So here is my declaration: I really want to blog two times per week.  They do not have to be enormous, amazing, beautiful posts.  Just a check in on what I am up to in life and in this attempt at business.  Because really, I am so in love with everything I am doing these days and I do want to write about it all and share it with anyone out there actually reading this.

    So I AM going to write these posts, all separately and hopefully at least a little bit focused and purposeful, and when I actually write them, the list will become links!

Oh, and while I am making public declarations:

  1. Lucy - I really am going to finish that translation stuff for you! I am soooooo sorry it has taken me so long. 
  2. Speaking of the things I have learned in Weight Watchers, I am trying to get back on that wagon.
So for now, here are some pretty pictures,
Swim lessons! 

Breaking the Bumbo rules...

So happy wrapped in so much knitted love!

Grampy's B Day hike!

I am not making a weird face! 

90 degrees today and no AC

Anna Maria Horner linen!
To become awesome clutches, one day!

This became a dress! 

FLT wedding love!

Front lawn fun!


More yum!

Sweet peas from my mom's garden, that survived
a plane flight in my diaper bag!

Mother's Day lemon cake!
Anyone in the area, please come get a slice or I will eat
this whole thing in the next few days.  

... and thank you for letting me make declarations and set intentions and hold myself accountable!