Wednesday, April 24, 2013

KCW Spring 2013: Days 2 + 3

Subtitle: "Doubling Up"

While I was excited to get going on the class picnic blouse I planned on Monday, I wanted reassurance on the fabric.  Hubby suggested I ask Ellie, since it was for her.  Ellie loved it!  Off we go, right?  Naturally, Stephanie tagged along to look at the same time and insisted she have the same blouse from the same fabric, and could it be ready yesterday please?  Definitely a no on the last two counts (barely have enough fabric for one blouse), but it made sense to sew the same pattern for her simultaneously.  I spent Day 2 of the challenge prepping the pattern and fabric for a size 5 class picnic blouse in a cute matryoshka print, which Stephanie isn't convinced she loves yet.  You can see in the photo two other fabrics that were considered and rejected as "maybes".

class picnic blouse yokes in progress

Day 3 starts the sewing.  Had I planned better, the two blouses would need the same colour thread, but they don't.  As it is, I change up every few steps so both blouses will be completed around the same time.  This makes the process seem very slow, but I think it's the smartest route to avoiding Serious Sister Envy.

Monday, April 22, 2013

KCW Spring 2013: Day One

It's time for Kids' Clothes Week!  It's a challenge to commit yourself to one hour of sewing (or sewing prep) each day for a week.  That's seven hours of kids' clothes work, enough to make a garment or two even if you are relatively new to it.

Naturally, this week is atypically crazy busy for me and I'll be away this weekend, tempting me to blow the challenge off entirely...but I won't!  Clearly, Friday through Sunday will be a fail, but I will do my best to meet the challenge the other days and make up the weekend next week.

Today, I only had time after the kids were in bed, so I kept it simple.  I traced, cut and prepared the fabric for one project.  If I include the time I spent this afternoon digging through my stash and debating pattern choices for the week ahead, I made today's hour commitment.  The first project to be tackled is Oliver + S's class picnic blouse for my big girl.  I have a beautiful Kaffe Fassett print in my stash.  Not sure if there's enough fabric or if it's the best choice, but we'll see!  The main point of this challenge is to dump the excuses and just get sewing!

KCW Spring 2013: class picnic blouse #1

Other projects I hope to attempt for her this week are an ice cream dress and a top from Happy Handmade Vol 2.  If the class picnic blouse comes out cute (I hope!), I will sew one for my wee girl as well.  She might even get an ice cream dress too.  All that work will take me above and beyond the 7 hours, but I like the excuse to tackle some long-term ideas I've had simmering in my mind.  I already have all the fabric, so letting it sit unused is silly.

KCW Spring 2013 fabric pile

Care to join in?  Check out the all-new KCW blog and sign up!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Another Puerperium cardigan

This past Tuesday, I finally sewed on the buttons and gifted a long-sleeved baby cardigan to one of the moms in my daughter's ballet class.  Crazy to gift a handmade to someone I hardly know?  Probably.  The grandmother was there at the time, and she called it "just above and beyond."  Secretly, I was happy for the excuse to knit this pattern again.  There are no seams, and it doesn't pull over baby's head.  It might be the perfect baby pattern.

  striped Puerperium cardigan

Like last time, I used Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK.  It feels heavenly soft and non-itchy, and it is machine-washable for people who cannot handle the idea of hand-washing baby knits.

Striping was a new skill for me.  While the body and sleeves came out beautifully, the button bands show my lack of experience.  One side is quite loose while the other is super-tight (that required some very tough love blocking to stretch it out).  Oh well.  Not knowing the recipient very well means I'll never know how much or how little she uses it, so I can just enjoy the project and hope she enjoys the result.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bless the Kiwis

A clip from New Zealand Parliament in defense of gay marriage.  
Yet another reason to love the Kiwis...

Friday, April 19, 2013


I find myself scanning familiar blogs more and more frequently these days, alas, to less and less satisfaction (sigh).  With a few notable exceptions, daily blogging has fallen out of habit (including my own, I know).  As someone who moves (house, state, country...) more often than the average, I have discovered and appreciated blogs as an online network of lovely women I can check in with each day for inspiration or a laugh or a story.  These days especially, I appreciate the peacefulness and beauty shared by Alicia or the creativity and gentleness found in Meg's posts.

Of course, the real trouble is I miss my true friends far away, separated by too many miles, too many hours of time difference, too much busyness in our lives to connect the way we might like across the distance.  Reading a blog is a simple way to touch base with another human when we have just a few moments when there are no children or miscellaneous bits of work commandeering our attention.  More often than not, someone has shared something I may not have found otherwise, something fun or fashionable or perhaps moving and inspiring.  Today, I found one of those things, and I'd like to share it with you.

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I've been thinking about what to post or if to post about the bombings in Boston.  I could be callous or angry or afraid...but none of those things help me or anyone else.  I read on facebook of all places a quote from Fred Rogers, saying that when he learned of something horrible as a child, his mother told him to always look for the helpers.  There are always helpers, if you look.  As many people are running away in fear and pain, others are running in, despite it, to help.


Wishing peace, strength and gentle support for those families affected by the blasts.

Friday, April 12, 2013


As we were planning our trip to Mexico, we quickly honed in on Oaxaca.  It is the handicraft capital of Mexico, which enticed me completely.  Oaxaca City is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  In addition to churches all over the city and multiple markets, there is a wonderful pedestrianized area between the main plaza and the beautiful Santo Domingo cathedral.  This main area was clean, well-lit at night, and always felt safe and welcoming (other parts probably were too but we kept our circle of exploration pretty small with the kids).  We were there during Semana Santa, Holy Week, a major Mexican holiday time leading up to Easter.  There were beautiful altars set up throughout the city and gorgeous, simple wreaths made from the heart of palm for Palm Sunday.

I loved the vibrant colours everywhere, in the handicrafts, on the walls, among the crowds on the zocalo each night.  And speaking of the zocalo at night, we highly recommend buying one of the big plastic tubes full of air to toss around in front of the cathedral.  Those things can be anywhere from 2-10 feet long, and it is surprisingly fun to join the local kids in throw and catch.  The simple things in life are oh so good.

As in Puerto Escondido, we had no trouble eating well.  Don't miss the traditional dishes, particularly those featuring mole (swoon), and be sure to finish your meal with a delicious cafe de olla.  You should probably start the meal off with a donaj√≠ (mixed drink with mezcal) for fun too.

oaxaca collage

We stayed in the beautiful Hotel Casa de las Siete Balcones, found via TripAdvisor.  It was right on the pedestrianized strip in the heart of Oaxaca.  Again, no car needed (which is good because who knows where we would have parked it).  The hotel is very small (only 7 rooms), staffed with incredibly friendly and helpful people.  A simple continental breakfast was included, and all other meals must be found off-site.  They were very accommodating, even providing cereal for our early risers over an hour before breakfast was offered each day.  The staff also helped organize a half-day tour with a local tour operator to visit the ruins and pyramids of an ancient Zapotec city about 20 minutes away.

Although the kids preferred the beach and the pool in Puerto Escondido, I fell in love with Oaxaca.  The climate was perfect (dry warmth, 80s during the day, 60s at night), the people were friendly and the scenery was lovely.  I would like to return to attend a language school there.  We definitely found we needed my broken Spanish on this trip, but people were kind and very forgiving of hideous grammar.  They were happy I tried and didn't worry too much about perfection.  My kind of holiday.

Puerto Escondido

When we tell people we spent Spring Break in Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca, we are almost universally met with a blank stare, followed by "Where's that?"  Most people haven't heard of these spots in Mexico, which is part of why we chose to go there.  Off the Gringo Trail, there are beautiful places to be found!

Puerto Escondido isn't fully off the Gringo Trail.  It is a premier surf spot, perhaps one of the premier surf spots on the Pacific Ocean.  The waves are killer (perhaps literally) and it is recommended you be an expert to even attempt them.  The main city part of Puerto Escondido felt a lot like a surf hang-out, with lots of touristy schtuff and plenty of bars on the beach...but we didn't see that much.  We stayed on the edge of town in a residential area way off the beaten path and in walking distance to two more sheltered beaches, much better for families.  It was quiet and sleepy and perfect.  There was a street nearby lined with little restaurants and cafes, a couple of laundry spots and a mini-supermarket.  The restaurants were amazingly delicious, clean and very friendly.  We ate lunch every day at tiny Turtle Bay Restaurant, where they were so good to us and served up what might be the best fish tacos and shrimp burritos on the planet.  I would say meals typically cost what we would pay at home (not as cheap as I expected), but the quality was outstanding and we didn't have to worry about ice in drinks or other tummy issues.  I do miss the laundry spot, though.  We did four people's and three days' worth of laundry, washed, pressed and folded for about $2.  I need that at home, please.  Being on the edge of town was no problem because taxis are always circling around and will take you wherever you want to go for about $2.  Easy and relaxing, not having to fuss with a rental car or car seats.

puerto escondido

We stayed at the Villa Lili, found through TripAdvisor, and I highly recommend it.  The villa is run by Luis.  He lives in one of the rooms with his family and the other rooms are let B&B style.  There are 2 small pools and an honour bar with cold drinks always available.  Our room was the Exotica Suite with a very unique layout.  We liked it because it was high up in the villa and very open, giving us almost constant cross-breeze and fresh sea air.  The villa included breakfast with our room, but all other meals must be found off-site.  Our girls are such early risers that we even ate breakfast out at the nearby cafe (delicious granola and breads fresh-baked at the on-site bakery each morning).  Everyone at the villa was very friendly and were happy to provide (excellent) recommendations for us.  They even arranged a small internal flight for us to get to Oaxaca so we wouldn't have to take a bigger airline to Mexico City and then connect through, saving us hours of travel.

You want to go now, don't you?

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Sorry to leave you hanging after my last post.  What started as a little tickle in my throat on Monday turned absolutely nasty by Wednesday, sending me to the doctor on Thursday...who then sent me for a chest x-ray at the local hospital that same day, suspecting pneumonia.  This being a small town and timing close to a weekend, we have no results as yet.  I have great affection for our doctor and appreciate how realistic she is, so her suspicion of pneumonia is almost enough to confirm it in my mind.  This thing, whatever it is, has certainly knocked me over.  Hubby had to come home on Thursday and stay home on Friday because I couldn't stay upright for more than a couple of hours at a time.  Today is day three of antibiotics, and I can feel a marked improvement (I'm a lot more awake, but now a horrible chesty cough has started, sheesh).

At any rate, as part of my coming-back-to-life, I thought I'd check in here and say "Hi!"  I hope you have had a good week.  The sun is finally out here and the air is finally warmer.  I am tempted to grumble that had it been this way a week ago when we returned from the summery sun, I might not have this maybe-pneumonia at all...but it's best not to go there.  The sun is out now.  I can enjoy looking at it through the windows and feeling the light on my face.  I believe it is helping me feel better each day.

Happy weekend to you!