It’s been a quiet couple of weeks over at our house, where there is still a list as long as my arm to be completed some day soon (before the baby shower, before my birthday, before the baby). We endured an ultra-hot July 4th weekend (complemented, unfortunately, by the ultra-loud mortars launched by our neighbors until 11pm) and now I am so excited to head off to the woods for a couple days — I’m taking my husband on his very first camping trip! Very exciting. Tents, cooking outdoors, campfires! S’mores and hiking and waking up in your sweatshirt!

We’ve ammassed a trunk full of supplies and we’ll be setting out sometime tomorrow, mid-morning. I can’t wait to share pictures when we return.

Meanwhile, let me share one picture with you of one nearly-complete project for the baby:

Cloth baby wipes! This was the nicest, most simple project ever. With three yards of cheap remainder flannel, I cut and stitched together six-inch squares and then trimmed the edges with my pinking shears. I finished two dozen and there will be another dozen or more when I finish the ones waiting at my sewing table. With this nice stack and a little spray bottle of water with baby shampoo, we won’t need to use disposable wipes (unless things get really mucky). Friends of ours recommended starting out with several dozen, so as soon as I have them all finished I will have a nice tidy stack waiting in the baby’s room for her arrival. Oh sweet little baby girl, we are so ready to meet you!

Here is something amazing I made this weekend:

Gateau au yaourt with honey

Gateau au yaourt with honey

So simple, and so divinely amazing. I made a Gateau au yaourt (yogurt cake) for the first time, and the day before we had picked up some local honey at the Lavender Festival (pics to come soon!). I thought it would be over the top to add anything at all, but Kirk urged me to try it with the new honey, and I did, and it was divine. The yogurt cake is incredibly simple to make and turns out the most lusciously moist-crumbed cake. Simplicity itself, topped with the true summer decadence of a dark, nutty honey. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

I have fun things to share today: a finished project! Pics of another project in progress! Recipes! It’s been a productive couple of weeks for me, though is my living room still filled with boxes? Yes. Do we have an unassembled IKEA bookshelf and dresser lurking around? Yes. Stacks of art left to hang, a garage full of boxes that need to be inspected, and all kinds of strange objects sitting in strange places? Why yes, I do know there is a bottle of listerine sitting in the nursery for no good reason. One day I’ll get to it, but apparently not yet. I’ve been too busy with fun things, like this:

This is the baby quilt I made for our little one (I am at 27 weeks and counting!), out of some meltingly soft plain white flannel and some lovely vintage floral bed linens from Whimsie Dots on Etsy. The finished quilt is not quite one yard square, perfect for curling up during naptime or snuggling while we wake up. Instead of quilting each square I just did knots in the center of each square and at the intersections, which makes for a fluffier and softer overall feel. The best part is that I made it all in one evening, thanks in part to my new Olfa rotary cutter, but mainly thanks to the fact that I skipped using a separate fabric to bind the edges. Instead, I just sewed the layers together inside out and then flipped them through a gap in the seam, like a really flat pillow. It was much, much easier that way. Is there a name for this technique? If not, I would dub it Super Simple Lazy Quilter’s Savior Technique, that’s how much I loved it.

I also made some progress working on the baby cradle restoration project that I started way back in April. I came back to this project after letting the buying a house/moving interrupt my progress, and I was pleased to see the cradle was no worse the wear for sitting in my dad’s woodshop for a couple months. After some intense sanding, we determined that it was not going to be worth the effort to try to get the spindles completely paint-free (so they could be stained), so instead I opted to paint them white. Here I am getting to work:

And here is one side of the cradle finished with two coats of Acro Pure Miller Paint antique white (Acro Pure is Miller’s environmentally friendly, zero-VOC paint):

It was tricky to get the paint into every nook and valley of these spindles, especially as many have odd little holes and nicks (from tiny teeth? wee baby hammers?). Once they get a third coat of paint, these side pieces will be done! There are still the spindles from the head and foot of the crib to sand and paint, plus all the rails, legs and slats have to be prepped for a coat of stain or polyurethane to really make it shine. My dad is working on fashioning a new joint or splint to fix the broken leg, but I think it’s totally possible to finish it before the baby comes. Of course, there is still the not-quite-minor matter of making a little mattress and buying or making a set of linens and bumpers to make it safe for sleeping.

But first, let’s focus on finishing the actual crib, then I can geek out about fabrics. No, hang on, let me just try a quick fabric geek-out for this, what do you think about these large-repeat Kokka fabrics from Purl Soho?

(Okay, okay, I will wait before I get way ahead of things and find myself madly quilting fabrics and cursing thread tension right before I call the midwives…)

.

The last thing I wanted to share was this awesome recipe for homemade granola that I tried yesterday. I got the recipe from a friend, who had adapted an Alton Brown recipe, and then I further adapted it to my own tastes. It was so delicious, I can’t believe how overly-sweetened and stale/sticky store-bought granola tastes in comparison. I could (and did!) eat this stuff with a spoon directly off the cookie sheet:

It is just oats, nuts and seeds tossed with maple syrup, vegetable oil, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar, and baked at 250 for an hour or so. Incredible simple and incredibly tasty. The hardest work is writing down all those little numbers on tags when you go to the bulk bins to buy everything. Try it, you won’t be sorry! (Click on the photo to visit my Flickr page, where you can find the full recipe.)

So that is what I’ve been up to lately. That, and tending to this rapidly growing baby in my belly, who likes to kick and squirm around right when I’m falling asleep, and who seems very soothed by my (ridiculously silly but lots of fun) aqua aerobics class twice a week, and whose adorable tiny face I can’t wait to cover in kisses, even if my September 21st due date seems alarmingly close.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend — crafty, flavorful, relaxing, filled with exactly the things it needs to be filled with. That’s the kind of weekend I’m looking forward to, too.

I felt the need to move on from that last post about sad family news…I think as I come out of the fog of confusion about it, I’ve been describing my mental state as, “less like an alien in my own head.” Have you ever felt this way? Well, I’m feeling less like that, more like my old self, even though there’s a lot of emotional support and family time still shoring things up in the background.

So here’s what I’ve been doing to distract myself this week. Crooked, imperfect crafts! Wildly deviant seams! Witness exhibit A, the pair of adorable lopsided handkerchief pillows:

These are destined for the nursery, as some kind of improbable decoration? Doll’s pillow? Random soft object? I’m not quite sure. Do I need a reason for something soft and crafty? Maybe not.

And here is exhibit B, the coaster created with 12 inches of bias tape, a random scrap of fabric to test out some interfacing, and a total and willful disregard for straight lines:

The coaster design will certain not get much perfecting (maybe a scallop stitch? Some creative technique to make the corners neater?) before I make another four or five for our living room. I have a whole pack of sample squares to make the coasters for, and a living room that is in dire need of coasters. I also have no desire to make them much fancier looking than this! You should see the bias tape tag, on the far side of the glass, which is hopelessly crooked.

These are the kinds of beginner crafts that keep my mind occupied in our tv and internet-less house, in those long quiet evenings when there are no new Netflix to watch, and nothing better than puttering around in the sewing office with some music on and a cat napping on my scrap pile.

This weekend I have big plans to finally buy myself a rotary cutter, mat and see-through fabric ruler, so I can tackle the baby’s blanket project (inspired partly by this lovely Waldeck Dry Goods creation), the baby shower blessing banner project, and the million other nesting projects floating around in my head. So more crafty posts are on their way. A little more organized, but probably no less askew. That’s just how I am!

I had planned on writing this week about my recipe for the simple pasta salad, which I brought to a wonderful potluck barbecue on Saturday night, where we hung out with new friends, met some amazing roller derby girls, and sat around a backyard fire as a summer evening slowly set around us. Simple, good times.

But something unexpected happened on Sunday. I woke up early in the morning to a text message from my sister, saying that her ex-boyfriend (and the father of her son, my nephew) had committed suicide late Saturday night. He was a difficult person, in all our lives, someone I had a lot of trouble feeling anything more than animosity and resentment toward, but you never wish for this sort of ending. He left behind not only my two-year old nephew, but his two children from a previous marriage, now 13 and 11, a boy and a girl who we spent a Christmas with before things started to fall apart. I am so sad that they will never know their father when they grow up, and that my little nephew might not have any memory of him at all.

This man’s death is tremendously confusing for all of us. Suicide is necessarily confusing — are we sad for him? Relieved that he is at peace? Regretful at his choice? Angry? — but it’s especially confusing when, in life, he had exhausted nearly every last ounce of goodwill and charity from his friends, family, and roommates.  It’s hard to keep giving and loving someone when they reject goodness. It’s hard to describe him fully. But how do you mourn someone like this? Someone you might have wished would disappear, on many occasions?

In any case, the leftover pasta salad did play a part in this, too. Awoken in the early morning, shocked and saddened and confused, my first instinct as we ran to get dressed and drive over to the house to join my parents and my siblings was must bring food. The universal gesture of mourning. When in doubt, ready food is always welcome. I brought the rest of the huge green bowl of pasta salad, leftover from the barbecue the night before, and it was much welcomed by my family as we tried to go through and figure out this perplexing, confusing, saddening, anguishing turn of events together.

(You can click the photo to visit Flickr and see my recipe for this. It doesn’t seem right to type it out here when I’m writing about something so different in scope and emotion.)

My other contribution for the day was to spend a lot of time with my young nephew when his mom had to go take care of some things, and his grandparents were busy with other tasks. I read him his naptime stories as we snuggled down in his bed together. He fell asleep so peacefully, it was quite a blessing on an otherwise difficult day. Right as he was falling asleep, he turned to me and in his toddler-speak told me the same phrase he’d been repeating all day long, insistently, blue sky up up up. His eyes were half-closed and immediately after, his breath fell into the calm patterns of sleep. As near as we can tell, he wanted to tell us all about the blue sky that is up above the clouds, which you can see through the many skylights in the house. It was a comforting sentiment to hear, however cliche to get wisdom from the mouth of babes. If there’s nothing else solid in a mass of confusing emotions and thoughts, I know I’ll remember those words from that day.

Life seems to move at a lovely languid pace right now. May was hot, and now June has just barely cooled down from more hot weather. The hotter it gets, the slower I move, and simplicity becomes way more appealing. Watermelon for dinner? Yes please. Reading in bed under the fan? Indeed. Sundresses, escaping to the movies, grilled dinners that keep all the cooking-heat outside. That’s what summers are like at our house.

I went to an antique/vintage shop recently, one that I’ve visited many times before, but I’d never before been shopping while knowing I’m having a girl baby. So I made a beeline to the baby clothes, and found this:

A sweet little eyelet-trimmed cotton dress, and a wee little handknit sweater in the softest yarn you can imagine. They were a steal at $9 each. I folded and put them away like this, with the dress inside the sweater, and every so often I find myself wandering into the baby’s room (which right now is still just a collection of boxes) and taking out the dress and sweater, just to look and pet the sweater’s softness, and dream. I can’t wait until my little squirmy drooly wiggly adorable one is inside of it to hug and smother with kisses!

In other news, though we’re still waiting on an IKEA trip to fetch the all-important bookcases that will make our living room more homey and less a box-storage venue, we finally did receive our kitchen hutch. It is this one, from Target’s online-only catalog. I think I looked at exactly one million hutches and dining room storage thingys before I finally settled on this one. Much to our surprise, coming from Target, the construction quality is quite nice (once you get past the profanity-inducing assembly instructions). Here it is, all set up in our dining area, finally:

We left out the wine storage rack that was supposed to be inserted in the bottom middle compartment. As much as I love wine, I don’t think storing breakable bottles at perfect toddler pull-and-smash height is a good long-term solution. Instead I want to find some simple square baskets that will fit on each shelf and store toys, bibs, small tupperware, etc. (Also in this picture you can see our new bamboo roman shades, which I love.)

I’ve been unpacking our various pretty things (candles, decanters, vases, bowls) and trying out arrangements on the shelf and in the cupboards. It’s a work in progress — each time I come home from work and view it afresh, I find something that needs to be moved. Here is one last shot of what it looked like, one or two arrangements ago:

That’s all I have for now. Stay tuned, soon I hope to get some good work done in my workroom and report back on the planning for my possible-crazy letterpress birth announcement project!

Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, with barbecues, giant bowls of watermelon balls, languid afternoon naps, final moving chores, mowing lawns, saying goodbye to the bright red poppies and the dark violets in our old yard, saying hello to light and afternoon breezes in our new place. My belly is growing, our little girl is kicking more and more each day, and I am just loving how summer is suddenly here!

Meanwhile, weeks have passed and we still don’t have internet at home, due to unexpected delays involving the condo builder and other mundane things, so I haven’t been online as much. Just wanted to drop by to say hello and post a few pictures.

Here are the salted caramel brownies we made for Memorial Day (click through for recipe on Flickr):

And here, slowly coming together, is my downstairs sewing-and-letterpress office:

It doesn’t look like much yet, and right after I took this picture it was invaded and colonized by the pernicious Miscellaneous Moving Boxes virus, but picture my sewing machine set up in front of the chair (that’s a piece of orange oilcloth I use so fabric moves easier, as the bare wood of the desk catches fabric in an annoying way), and maybe a letterpress project in progress down where my childhood dollhouse sits (waiting repairs and to be set up in the nursery).

Here is the letterpress space down at the end near the door:

During the two years at our rental house, we never uncrated the press, and our type is still saran-wrapped into its type drawers, and I have to find the rollers and ink and buy some new ink cleaner and and and. But I can’t tell you just how excited I am to have it out where we can use it again! Our last project was our wedding save-the-dates, and although I might just be insane, I have this notion that the next project will be a birth announcement card, if I can make it in advance with fill-in lines for the birth weight and time. I’m scheming and checking out some beautiful cuts and initials on eBay while I try to decide if I’m crazy enough to try this project.

My little office might seem like a dim space, especially with just its overhead lighting so far, but it is snugly insulated by the garage on one side and the next townhouse on the other side, so it very cool even on the hottest of days. I picture this as my sanctuary when my belly is at its biggest, the summer heat at its highest, and the need for distractions and nesting projects quite urgent. I will post more progress photos as it gets decorated and I start some of the projects I have in mind (letterpress aside, I have lap quilts, a baby quilt, and summer tops swimming through my head). It’s going to be a wonderful summer, I can tell already! A project-filled summer, a chilled watermelon summer, a summer in which I finish growing my baby and we make this home truly ours.

Moving never takes up one neat spot of time, does it? After one week, we still have no internet at home, and we have to wait until next week to get it.  I have photos I want to share, but I am too lazy to cart my home laptop in to work and do it on my lunch hour. So it will be another little while before I will be back to share photos and stories. Our house is still full of boxes. I have a laundry list of things I need from IKEA (as much as I dread visiting it), I have a needy cat who next extra love because she’s still freaked out by the house, and that’s pretty much what life has been like since our move.

That, and watching adorable children do daredevil things outside our windows. And feeling the baby’s first real kicks. And enjoying the warm weather, now that it’s back. And and and. I will be back soon to write more! Hope you are all enjoying the beauty in your corner of the world, I know I am too.

Just a quick post to say that we went in for our first ultrasound yesterday, and we’re having a girl! It was so incredible to watch her move and tumble around. Everything looks perfectly healthy and normal. Here is a quick peek at her profile:

I think she looks like her daddy 🙂

This Saturday: the big move! I can’t wait.

May is my favorite month of the year! I am so excited to have bloomy, rainy, warmish May, so much better than soggy, trying-but-not-quite-there April. May is the month when summer feels tantalizingly close, but not close enough to sunburn me. May is the month when I met Mr. K, and this May will mark our seventh year together (though this August will only be our second wedding anniversary).

May is also moving season! It feels like nearly everyone I know has moved, is moving or about to move, and we’re next — after four months of house-hunting and one looooooong month of paperwork, we’ve finally closed on our new condo and we’re ready to move. I can’t wait! Goodbye dark, cramped rental house, hello spacious, light-filled townhouse! (It seems like I am full! Of exclamation marks! Today!) The movers arrive on Saturday, so you can bet we are just about drowning in packing paper, boxes, donation bags, and other detritus.

Another symptom of the interminable About To Move phase is that our pots and pans have been whittled down to bare bones for the week, cookbooks have been crated up, and it’s hard to cook much more than a one-pot meal. We kept just a couple cooking spoons out, and no mixing bowls, barely more than two plates to get us through. So of course I’m suddenly dreaming of elaborate cooking projects. Or rather, things that seem elaborate from this side of Moving Day:

  • A friend at work has promised to share her killer toasted Granola recipe. I had a bit last week and I’m still dreaming about it. Words cannot describe the nutty, crunchy perfection. I will post pictures when I try it.
  • I was so inspired by this post on Beauty That Moves, about a week of lunch items prepared in advance, that I am scheming about how to try it myself once we are settled in. I have been out of the groove of lunch-planning since Pregnancy Appetite invaded and disrupted my normal routines. But that’s not a real excuse!
  • Bread. Oh dear, dear homemade bread. I will make you just as soon as I am able.
  • Homemade yogurt!  I must have lots of it to fuel my newly-discovered lust for yogurt breakfast smoothies with peaches, blueberries and cinnamon.

That’s what I’m dreaming about these days, when I’m not dreaming about arranging my entire house like a tetris screen and magically floating everything into the perfect slot. Or dreaming about toilets that work, or doors that close properly, or kitchen sinks that don’t clog every other day. Some dreams are simple, some are a little more far-reaching than others these days.

Instead I’m just going to keep my head down and pack like a packing wiz. Hopefully the next time I update it will be with pictures of our delightfully box-filled yet spacious and bright new home!

For now I’ll leave you with one image, dear Mr. K sitting across from me at our living room picnic this weekend, when we just had to go visit the new house, and when we ate our lunch directly out of a casserole dish propped on a packing box covered in a kitchen towel. Because some culinary experiences just don’t wait for complicated items like chairs and tables and plates to arrive!

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