Friday, July 31, 2015

A finish - just in time

It's done. This quilt that I have worked on for months, is finally finished. His abc quilt. According to the archives, I started this quilt back in April. Stitching up those little blocks were so wonderful. This project really helped me to step out of my comfort zone. Instead of back stitching (my go to stitch) everything, I really pushed myself to learn all of the stitches that were used for this quilt. And I am a little more confident now with embroidery.

It's wonderful isn't it? A project that pushes you to learn something new. And how wonderful and generous people are on the internet with tutorials. YouTube. You can learn anything on YouTube it appears.

The format of the quilt also pushed me to be better. I have a hard time reading 2 dimensional diagrams. I am more of a visual learner. But I was determined to make this quilt exactly like the pattern was written. I didn't want to make adjustments simply because I wasn't comfortable with it. Or because I was scared to do it. And keeping on keeping on paid off. The blocks came together so nicely. When I did my test block (That little e for energy), it really was an easy way to construct a block. After that, chain piecing made putting these little blocks together a breeze!

A bit about the project:

The quilt pattern came from Kristine Czepuryk's book S is for Stitch. You can find it here .
The finished size of the quilt was 34" x 39 1/2"
The fabric was a bundle by Quilt Dad. The bundle was Nature elements.
Quilting done by hand with Pearl 8 cottons in Ecru.

Oh that picture.  That is a memory I want to hold close about this process. So many of the stitches that went into his quilt were done with him sleeping in the sling. Close to my heart.

Happy stitching everybody.

Linking up to Finish it Friday with Crazy Mom Quilts

Oh! If you liked his little bear pillow, I blogged about it here  or you can find it in this book. 

Five Things Friday: To Remember

I recently found a new blog, Amy over at Love Made My Home, and she does a Five Things Friday link up. Being a list person myself, I totally fell in love with this concept, and thought I'd join along. If you'd like to join along, here is the information about the link up.  I hope to see you there!

Now, five things. Usually I have a bazillion things running around in my head. But for this first Five Things Friday, I was a bit stumped. I've been thinking, sleeping, dreaming, eating, Liam's birthday preparations for months now. So I hope you're not tired of me talking about it, or sharing about it in this space. But I'd like to share five things I'd like to remember about the process of preparing to celebrate his first year. About how important hand making so many of the things used to celebrate this little boy has been to me.

1. Inspiring Words

I have been reading Amanda Soule's book, The Creative Family, since I was pregnant with Liam. So much about her approach to creativity, gratitude, and family tradition resonated with me. It inspired me to really take the thought and care to nurture the creativity in myself, and to watch it spill over into my family. And oh how much it has. A lot of the things I have done in preparing Liam's birthday have come from this book. If you haven't read it, I most certainly recommend it.

2. The Pace Of Preparing

Looking back at the blog archives, I started birthday projects for Liam back in April of this year. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to make a little space for him. A reading space. So all of his projects revolved around abcs. And I had this perfect little book, that had 30 embroidered squares of a letter and a corresponding motif. I knew that it would be perfect. So, knowing how I move at a glacier speed, I wanted to give myself plenty of time in order to finish his projects. And it has been amazing how those projects have been coming along. I can't believe that I have finished everything on my list that I have wanted to do! There was so much embroidery and hand stitching done. It has been wonderful to sit and stitch and reflect on how he is growing. On how our family is changing.

3. Handmade Gifts

My love of handmade gifts comes from my dad. Every birthday and father's day, whenever we asked him what he wanted, he would always say something handmade. It wasn't until I got older, and I began to see how much time and effort went into handmades that I came to really appreciate it. That I fell in love with not just the product, but the message that handmade items conveyed. Love. Sacrifice. Labor. And Joy. Not just for the recipient, but for the giver as well. This is what I want this little stack of handmade gifts to mean to Liam. He may not understand it now, but I hope when he is older, and he sees these tokens of his first birthday, that he will understand. And he will know. Just how loved and celebrated he was.

4. Reusable Decorations

Inspired by family traditions, I wanted to make a set of decorations that we could reuse for every celebration within our family. That they would hopefully become a part of the way that we celebrate. That these items would mean something special. That it would help mark the day as special. That sometimes less is more when the items carry thought and care.

5.  About Him

Lastly, I wanted everything about his birthday to celebrate him. A small family dinner with some of his favorite cousins and auntie and uncles.  A dinner of his favorite foods. A few presents to open. And a sharing of our favorite memories during his first trip around the sun while we serve his first ever birthday cake. 

Three more days until this little baby, who is fastly turning into a little boy right before my eyes turns one. I am planning on spending those three days filled with kisses and hugs and tickles. Cause the time we have is so short. And it moves so quickly. I want to savor each and every moment of every day with him. And to count my blessings. Because there are so many. And my cup is so full. 

Heres to five things to remember. 

Happy Friday everybody. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What quilts are used for

We live on an island. On a tropical island. How does my love for quilts to snuggle under fit that picture? I thought I'd take a break from all of the birthday crafting pictures to speak on that topic. And also - to share a wonderful quilt that was gifted to Liam by a very dear friend (almost like a little sister to me) that lives on Oahu. 

This friend was actually the one who got me started on my whole quilting journey (but that is another story for another post). She has actually gifted me a quilt during three large changes in my life, and she never ceases to humble me with her creativity and love for others. 

But I digress. On to quilt usage in this little tropical corner of mine. 

In my mind this is the reason for a quilt. To snuggle under. To nap. To dream. To be wrapped up in the thoughts and well wishes of the maker of said quilt.

I mean, how can there be anything greater than this for the life of a quilt? Looking at that picture makes me want to jump into it Marry Poppins style and take a nap with that little guy.

But for some reason, he just doesn't like being covered. He can feel it, even when he is sleeping very deeply and soundly. So kick, kick, kick, go his little feet.  Even though there are trade winds blowing into the house and in my opinion, the perfect temperature to use a quilt, off it went!

So usually, quilts for this little boy end up being used in this way. A vehicle for a rug picnic for his morning snack. He loves being able to eat. I love watching a quilt be used. Over all - it's a win win situation. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Happy Birthday Banner!

Oh the birthday crafting preparations are going strong! A new birthday banner has just joined the birthday pile. I am very excited about this project. Especially since we can reuse this item for all of our celebrations to come! I talked a lot about how important celebration traditions are to me in my last post, that for fear of sounding like a broken record, I will restrain myself from elaborating on the topic again!

This project really stitched up nicely! Aimee Ray's book Doodle Stitching The Motif Collection   was one of the first embroidery books I bought. My friend taught me how to embroider using this book,  with simple stitches. Mostly back stitch and chain stitch.  Right now embroidery and the pace of it seem to really be fitting for our pace at home right now. Especially during nap times. I find it the perfect opportunity to slow down and reflect on the day's events. On Liam and how he is growing and changing so much. This little boy is walking and eating table food and my oh my, he said his first word.  "Woof" - for dog. How cute is that! Oh be still my heart! I can't keep up. 

A birthday banner, a crochet garland, and pictures of this little boy's first trip around the sun. Simple decorations but filled with so much love. Can you feel it little boy? How loved you are.  I am so excited to decorate a little space for him that I have to stop myself from wishing that Monday would get here already. Because that isn't the right attitude. Cause what oh what will he do and surprise us with before his actual birthday comes? I am so determined to be here in the present. To be here in the now. To enjoy each hug and kiss and every little exclamation of "woof". Yes Liam. Woof. Doggie.

Linking up to Sew the Library at Weekend Doings  and WIP Wednesdays at Freshly Pieced 

Weekend Doings

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A new tradition - handmade decorations

Lately I've been meditating on celebrations. What it means to me. What I want Liam to understand about it. Sources that have been on my reading list lately have been Amanda Soule's book The Creative Family, and a new to me blog, the stubby pencil studio blog, especially this article.  These sources have really made me stop and think about the traditions that I want for my family.  Especially about the items used in our celebrations.

Growing up, birthdays were celebrated in a very simple way. Family dinner and a few gifts. There may have been the occasional sleep over with friends, or outings to movies. But it is the time spent with my family around the table of favorite foods, and a few presents that epitomizes a happy celebrated occasion.  It was the small things - the family traditions you might say, that made it special for me. For example, when we woke up on our birthday, a few presents and cards would be on the table.  First thing in the morning. As soon as you wake up - you know that your family thought of you. Loved you. Wanted to celebrate a year of growing with you. I'd go to school with those thoughts of love in my heart and the anticipation of a family evening highlighted by a few presents.

Other than the occasional vase filled with garden cut flowers, we didn't decorate very much for our birthdays. I think that is something that I want to adopt into my own family. Nothing overly elaborate. But something festive. Bunting and garlands come to mind. A few handmade items that are associated with our family celebrations.

So with that thought racing over in my mind, and a quick search on google for "crochet garland", I settled on this pattern with a few modifications (For the smaller circles I followed her instructions and stopped at round one. For my larger circles, I stopped at round two. It was really easy to do and her instructions were very clear ).

I looked at my craft supplies, and my eyes settled on this little stash of cotton yarn (Sugar n' Cream to be exact). So during Liam's nap time, I crochet a garland to use during his birthday dinner next week. I am oh so pleased with how it turned out! Very cute indeed. It almost has on ocean feel about it - especially with that coral pink.

Does your family have traditions during special celebratory times? I would love to hear about them! Happy Crafting everyone!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Count down

Oh there is so much going on in this little corner of ours! One week left to get everything done. It has been such enjoyable work. Hand stitching seems to be what I reach for. I love the time and reflection that I have when doing handwork. Everything slows down. The pace. The rhythm. The thoughts. It has been wonderful to just reflect on this little boy of mine. About the milestones he has reached. About how much he has grown and changed in just one year. About the little personality that is emerging. About how this heart of mine has such a hard time keeping up with him. So many thoughts swimming in my head. If I had to choose one word, one foundational word to center it all, it would be gratitude. I am so grateful that this little boy is ours. That we get to see the world through his eyes. To experience it with so much freshness, exploration, and joy.

Oh little man, I want so much for you. And I am so excited to dream and make real the traditions I have been contemplating for our family concerning celebrations. How I want it to be a day of gratitude. Of how I want it to be a day to recognize how loved you are. To celebrate you with thoughtfulness and the labor of our hands.  To manifest the celebration that I feel every day, every moment, every breath, since you came into our lives.

Seven days left! Oh how I love the crafting energy! Keep it coming!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Happy Goals

Getting back into our normal rhythm of things. Well - with a few major changes. After getting out and about so much with Liam during our vacation, I was determined to carry that good energy home with us. My goal for us is to get down to the water at least once a week (it would be wonderful to do it three times, but baby steps here, baby steps).

This morning I woke up and saw my To Do list looking at me and was determined to not let it get me down. We have been nesting all week as I tried to put things away (man how much did we actually buy on this trip!) and it was definitely time to get out of the house and into the elements. This little boy was long over due for some sensory activities.

We got down to the beach and suddenly everything just seemed so much lighter. Who cared if I'm closing two doors in my house cause I can't bear to look at the luggage stuffed in there. Who cared that today is suppose to be laundry day or that I'm suppose to be working on a Happy Birthday banner. All of those worries just seemed to get pushed aside to the background and instead wind, and sun, and sand, and sensory just took over.

You see that happy sleeping baby up there? It just makes my heart so happy knowing that I gave him an amazing experience of sensory. That we went outside and just experienced. And now, exhausted after a whole morning of play and discovery - I get to work on that To Do list, which actually doesn't seem as daunting or laborious any more. I have a load in the wash right now, and a birthday banner that is coming along. 

And yes how wonderful it is coming along. I get to sit and stitch and reflect on how this little one is changing so much. On how much he is changing me so much. At night as I sleep my mind is a whirlwind of hopes and dreams and things I want to do with him and for him. And when I wake up it is such an amazing thing to watch those dreams and hopes unfold. Little hopes and dreams. The ones that make your day brighter. Like today we are going to touch the sand. Today we will discover the grass under our toes. At lunch we will try to see if melon is something that will end up in our mouths instead of on the floor. Little goals. The ones that make life so shiny and wonderful and bright.

Motherhood. Is there any greater happy possible?

In the kitchen: Feeling like home again

Coming home to the islands - oh how blessed we are to have our own space. A home of our own in order to grow and laugh and love. I have to admit though, that there is always a bit of disconnect for me upon crossing the threshold into our home here on the island. San Diego and all of the family still feels like home - and always will be since that is where so much of our beloved family is. 

I must confess that living on the island hasn't always been paradise for me. I grow so homesick for things and people familiar that it is almost physically painful. There have been tears shed on my part every day since we got back because of how acutely I miss the family. It's just so wonderful to be near people who get you. Who understand how you are inside and out. Who do things so similar to you it was like you did it yourself. Who understand every back story because they were there with you - experiencing it along side of you. 

But certain things have helped feel like this space in this beautiful Island belong to me. Are apart of me. And this centering - this grounding feeling all comes from the kitchen. Where the placemats and coasters and potholders that I sewed and crochet to use with my loved ones are. Where ingredients that I shopped for and herbs that I grew are in my fridge and garden and ready to use to create something nourishing for my family. In the kitchen. This is where I feel at home. Creating meals that will convey how much I love my family. How much love we all carry for those loved ones here and far away. 

Eating together. Growing together. Healing together. Oh how so much of it revolves around the hearth of the kitchen and how so much living is experienced at the kitchen table.  Our first dinner that I prepared was a simple one. Chicken breast, broccoli, quinoa and beets. Simple and nourishing.  After preparing this food, I feel better. I feel centered. I feel home.