Monday, November 25, 2013

::right now::

::playing Bremen Town Musicians in front of the early morning fire::

::savoring the autumnal flavors::

::weaving with Grammy::

::collecting the last of the autumn acorns::

::creating a centerpiece::

::mixing an experiment with Grandad::

::obsessing over volcanoes::

Thursday, November 21, 2013


This past week has been a tad bit crazy, thus the lack of blogging. My parents have arrived for their annual trip in from the Philippines where they live and they just happened to arrive on the same day as Elizabeth's 7th grade performance.  

Elizabeth has been fortunate not only to attend a school she loves, but a school that has encouraged each child to develop a strong sense of self and ability to perform in a variety of artistic endeavors, including stage presence.

Elizabeth, although she has no desire to join local youth theater, loves this aspect of her education and embraces it heartily each year. Last night was no exception.

Her class spent the last 8 weeks studying the plight of the Jewish people in Europe during WWII. Part of the way they learned about this period in history was to study the story of Brundibár and it's history.

All the time that they spent learning lines, music, story, and costume, they also spent learning about Theresienstadt, the concentration camp where the opera was performed, and the children who were imprisoned there.

They are also reading Night and Diary of Anne Frank to get a more complete picture of that time period.

I know that as a child when I read the paragraphs in a textbook about the atrocities of World War II, I didn't, couldn't, possibly fathom the scope of terror and evil.

I'm not sure that these kids can either, but I know that they have a much deeper, richer understanding than I ever did.

The day before they performed Brundibár to a packed house (twice), they watched a section of a 60 Minutes episode on the way the Nazis used Brundibár to deceive the Red Cross. Elizabeth came to me later that afternoon and said, "I always knew the Nazis were bad and the Holocaust was sad, but I didn't really understand how sad."

"I feel a responsibility to do such a good job on Brundibár so that we can honor those children who were so brave."

I think those children were incredibly honored.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

her quilt

I love quilts. I think I've always loved quilts, but as I've grown older, I've gained a greater respect, for the fabrics, the history, the talent of the quilters. I've written in this space before about a couple of my first quilts and how much they mean to me now. When Finn turned 4, I made him a car quilt. The search for perfect prints, all the sewing, plus working full-time (at that time), made that quilt an exhausting experience. I'm not exactly a natural at quilting either. All of that precise measuring and cutting of beautiful fabrics makes me a tad bit nervous, actually. But this summer, I decided that I would like to have a winter quilt to keep in the living room during the colder months. That one quilt turned into two. As I worked on those, Elizabeth casually mentioned that she'd like a quilt for her bed too. What? Request for a handmade? That's music to a mama's ear!

I thought about it, browsed Pinterest, perused blogs of quilters I know. This particular quilt caught my eye. I even found a tutorial for it here. Of course, since I was making a twin-size quilt, I had to measure, calculate, (and measure and calculate again) and adjust the tutorial to my needs.

With 2 Jelly Rolls, one in Moda's Lario line and the other in Moda's Snow, I found that the total length of strips fell just short of twin size. I ended up buying a yard of Moda's Snow to make a strip for the top and bottom to increase the length. As it turns out, I actually like the white framing better that way. I stumbled, quite accidentally, on quilt backing fabric in Lario's Lake Mist Garden Vines, which is the perfect backing since that shade of blue is very close to the color that Elizabeth's walls are painted.

Since I had those strips of white at the top and bottom, I decided to do a bit of quick embroidery in the top left and bottom right corners before I began quilting. The top left has Elizabeth's initials and the year.

The bottom right has a special little message to her.

After 2 days of non-stop quilting, (and refilling the bobbin a record 9 times!) the quilt was complete.

With the minor amount of backing fabric that remained, I finished Elizabeth's pillow. The embroidery is from Wee Wonderfuls' Book Club Stitchettes. (The same line that Finn's pillow is stitched from.)

I really love how nicely this pillow goes with the quilt. And the embroidery SO looks like Elizabeth to me. I can't wait to gift her this set for Christmas. (I hope she remembers she asked for a quilt!)

PS. Photographing a quilt is hard. Really, really hard. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Yarn Along

For this week's Yarn Along, I have gotten a little further along on Hermione's Everyday Socks I started a few weeks ago. The majority my crafting time recently has been at the sewing machine. I'm just happy to be this far along with the socks right now!

I've also been spending a few minutes each day looking at Everything Christmas. Although I try to keep most things Christmas out of the house until after Thanksgiving, I do find myself thinking and planning our Advent activities and celebrations during this time. (After all, it would be too late to wait until Dec 1 for that!)

Along the same lines, I've been using the rare few minutes I find myself idle to knit a few of these Christmas trees. I hope to have a small pine forest by the holidays!

Monday, November 11, 2013

the feast of Saint Martin

Martinmas is probably my favorite of the Waldorf festivals and the one I most miss celebrating in a formal way this year. Let me back up briefly. We've been involved in a local festival group for the last few years and have thoroughly enjoyed every moment spent with these amazing families. For varied reasons, it hasn't worked out this year to celebrate together. 

As a family, we are now forced to come together and define what each of these celebrations mean to us individually. My oldest kids are starting to outgrow some of these rituals just a bit, and although I know that if we made lanterns again or if I gave them some of our old lanterns and said that we were going to walk with them this evening, they would have done so zealously. We are entering a tremendously busy season, of school performances, holidays, family coming to town, and it seemed a bit more authentic to gather together around our dinner table and keep our Martinmas remembrance closer within us this time.

With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner and the example of Saint Martin's simple gift of a half-cloak, we enjoyed a simple dinner of bread with a few spreads and some simple raw veggies and fruits. I think we can even better enjoy the vast array of Thanksgiving choices after we've expressed our thankfulness for the simplicity of bread and vegetables that are provided for us daily.

Following our simple meal around candlelight, we lit lanterns from several of our past Martinmas celebrations. As we basked in the glow of the light of Martinmas's past, we enjoyed a simple treat of hot chocolate while we read the story of Saint Martin.

And although we miss our traditional lantern walk, this simplified celebration feels authentic to where we are right now.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Christmas crafting underway

I'm one of those folks who is adamant about making sure Thanksgiving gets its due attention. I refuse to put up any Christmas trees or decorations before Thanksgiving, and I don't even like seeing all of the displays in the grocery stores, etc right now. When it comes to Christmas crafting, however, the month of December just isn't enough time! I usually start making a few small things in August and September; by October, I'm in full production mode. Now that November is here, I'm a steam train barreling toward the finish line. Just try to stop me!

This year, I've undertaken the largest number of projects ever. While I don't have have anything large to show you yet, I do have the restore-my-sanity smaller projects that I've finished in the last week or two.

This first little pillow was inspired by the comments that Finn and Elizabeth made as they watched me working on Philip's Death Star pillow and Paulie's Totoro pillow. "I wonder what will be on my pillow?" I would hear them ask each other. Honestly, I didn't really have a plan to make either of them a pillow. The other boys' pillows were ideas born on Pinterest and I didn't see anything nearly as inspiring for the other 2. But when you overhear comments like that... Well, what's a mom to do?

I did happen to see this adorable set of Book Club Stitchettes over at Wee Wonderfuls. The little boy on the bicycle seemed like a perfect fit for Finn. With a bit of bicycle fabric, a pillow for Finn appeared. I think it's a lovely addition to the vehicle quilt and pillow that I made him a few years ago.

Another project that I finished recently is a Kindle cover for Paulie. This is the second time I've used this pattern. (The first was for Paul's birthday.) Paulie casually mentioned a few weeks ago that he would like a cover similar to his dad's. Little did he know I already planned to make one as a stocking stuffer for him!

I hemmed and hawed for a few weeks trying to decide on appropriate fabric. While there are many fabrics I think he would like right now, I really wanted to make a cover that he would use through high school without ever feeling that the fabric had become too baby-ish.

These VW vans with aliens saying "We come in peace." seemed like a perfect mix adolescent humor that might last for a few years.

Have you started any Christmas crafting yet? What's on your to-do list?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

the truth

The picture below is a very good representation of our oldest and youngest these days. Paulie recently received a new "adult" bike for his birthday, and Finn moved up from a Skuut bike to a pedal bike this summer. They both love to ride, more than their siblings do, and especially enjoy riding down the hill in front of our house as often as possible.

What I could also tell you about the photo above is that most afternoons, following school, Finn patiently rides in circles in our driveway waiting for Paulie to finish his homework and join him in jaunts down the hill.  The look of barely contained excitement when Paulie finally appears in the garage doorway is thrilling to this mama's heart. That is the truth.

What I could also tell you about the photo above is that less than 30 seconds after I posted this photo, as they hit the bottom of the hill, Paulie whipped around on his bike and started pedaling back up the hill as fast as he could leaving Finn alone at the bottom. The unspoken, well, maybe not quite unspoken, code at our house is that you turn around and head back together. No sooner did I even realize what was happening, and I heard screams coming from the bottom of the hill, accompanied by shouts of "I'm never riding with you again!!" That is the truth.

There is our family in a nutshell. Equal parts beautiful truth and ugly truth. Each moment precious for the connections and relationships that are built and maintained, whether they look lovely from the outside or not. Of course, I wish my children would get along beautifully ALL the time. But I know that these relationships are the ones they will practice with to get an idea for how to handle every other relationship that comes their way in life. If this video is any indication, they'll be just fine.