Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas cheer and things I made!

I know I have not been updating this blog nearly enough, but after Thanksgiving all my energy went to preparing for the holidays.

Between bouts of cookie baking, attending Christmas parties and being a secret Santa for our neighbor I also spent some time making my daughter's Christmas gifts. And I can finally show those to you!

I had a full shoe box for Victoria to open that were almost completely all hand made items. In it there was the jumpers I knit her, a plush deer that I made, 2 mushrooms rattles, six shooting stars bean bags, and 10 number bean bags... these were all hand made, in the box I had also put six baby silks for her. This is definitely a very Waldorf inspired play box and she is loving it. We spent a good hour last night playing on the bed with that box and she was ever delighted by it. That made a mama feel really good!

She was of course also very spoiled with all her other gifts from friends and family and is a busy bee trying to play with everything at once! I'm about to set up a toy rotation what with all the wonderful things she got this past month so that she can truly appreciate and play with each toy rather than enjoy simply the chaos of a lot of colors and shapes thrown around the room, although that is important as well.

Anyways, let me show you some of the items I made, and hopefully I can take more pictures in the days to come.

Detail of one of the mushroom rattles before completion

The mushroom rattles... originally took inspiration from someone who was making mushroom pin cushions.

The gift box! You can see the shooting stars bean bags, some of the number bean bags and glimpses of the mushrooms and overalls.

Friday, December 16, 2011

This Moment

{this moment}- A Friday ritual. A single photo- no words -capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' for all to find and see.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bright Times

The holiday season has always been a favorite of mine. Christmas has always been filled with giving, kindness, joy and laughter, and I plan on creating the same environment for my daughter.
This year, being that we are ourselves dealing with hardship it is difficult to see how I can contribute to other people's Christmas. I am making most of Victoria's toys on the very very cheap and while this is perfectly fine by me, (after all those toys are more likely to become heirlooms later on), it leaves me with a slightly empty feeling.
I pass toy bins and food banks, places where I usually drop things off all throughout December and realize that I cannot contribute this year.
So, I am trying to find ways where I can contribute, by offering free childcare to friends, by recycling my daughter's too small clothes to others in need and by making double of each toy I am making Victoria so that I can gift one needy family with handmade toys. It's not exactly what I'm used to doing, but it still feels good and it allows me to concentrate again on the spirit of Christmas. Which, to me, is to give as much of yourself as you can. It shouldn't be about the price of gifts or the amount you give, but rather about what you can give to others to show that you care. In our case, this year, our time, love and best wishes.
Here is to a healthy, loving, holiday season!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Being productive

I swear I'm actually making things lately... but the problem with creativity and being productive is that other areas in my life take a back seat. In this case, the blogging is being put to the side, as well as taking pictures of everything. I hope to fix that really soon though.
I'm working assembly line on my brand new product and will have pictures soon of the finished items!

I'm also almost done with Victoria's first Christmas gift too so I will post pictures of that as well. I just finished knitting her a very cute pair of overalls but have to finish the crochet edging which will be my first time trying my hand out at crochet! Wish me luck.

Let me leave you with a happy picture and thank you for being patient with me and my lack of updates.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cook Along!!!

If you have a chance... I know this is a late notice... but please follow my friend Ruth's cook along, those recipes are delicious!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Getting ready to create...

I have a new breath of creativity with the Holidays arriving. I need to make most of Victoria's Christmas presents this year due to our recent move and money being a bit tight at the moment, so I've been scouring the internet for toy ideas that I could make.

I will be making bean bags of different kinds, and a few plushies, and hopefully some wooden toys if I can borrow a jigsaw.
I have to share my pinterest inspirations!
Pretty Stars!
Little gnomes

A soft rabbit

And some ribbon rings to wave around!

I am also making up some matrioshka dolls and deer plushies to sell at a few stores in the city if everything goes well. Or at the very least in my etsy store which has been so sad and empty for the longest time!

Hope you are being crafty for your Christmas!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I received my package from my FRIENDS swap that I was participating, and Leonie from Kiwi at Heart truly put me to shame. Her package was so thoughtful and cute! I certainly hope she appreciates what I sent, although I do feel like handling a baby while making her things led me to put a lot less attention to packaging and presentation that she did.

Here is what I got!
The supremely adorable wrapping job... road maps!!
Baby has to learn to love hats, but with the cold coming it will happen fast! Soooo cute on her!

Crochet hats for mommy and baby, the colors are not the same as they appear in this picture though.

The sock monkey Victoria stole from me right out of the package... She loves this sock monkey so very very much.

Adorable hoop sewing kit!!!

Inches fabric and trim... I love the idea!

Our first ornament... I love it!

Owl journal and pen... I think I need to start jotting down all my ideas in here!

Tissue holder... I think this is the most adorable thing, going in the diaper bag now!

And a last shot of the sock monkey and Victoria's reaction to me asking her if I could have it. What do you think she was saying?

Friday, November 4, 2011

This Moment....

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. ( Inspired by Amanda Soule of SouleMama)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I made something!!!

Things have been pretty much too busy with the move and starting work again to create much, however my little one decided otherwise.

With Halloween upon us I had found a cute little lion vest that I figured would keep her nice and warm and would allow me to get away from making the costume myself since things are so erratic at the moment.
Well I managed to keep that costume on her for a total of five minutes before she started tearing it off and screaming to high heaven about the indignity of it all.
This was what she was going to wear had she let me.
I should have known better... after all she never did let me put baby hats on her, hoods or anything of the sort.
With two days left before we had to go trick or treating with our friends, I had to think up a quick costume that would not be an annoyance for her to wear.
Luckily there have been tons of cute ideas online, mostly tutus of specific colors made to look like the Queen of hearts, a pumpkin, a ghost, a scarecrow... and many others.
I absolutely adored the little ghost one, and decided to make my own.
I finished it the morning of Halloween thanks to the help of my neighbor's girls who watched Victoria for a few minutes while I busily cut fabric and wrapped tulle around an elastic band, and here is the result... I thought it wasn't too bad for a very last minute costume and Victoria let me put it on her without any crying.

Here it is, finished not a moment too soon.... I really have to learn how to photograph!

Apparently this costume was also yummy!

I hope your Halloween was as fun as ours... hopefully this was the trigger for me to start making a lot more things.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Today I am thankful. I am thankful for my amazing daughter and for the friends and family that surround us.
I am thankful to have a roof over my head and a job that keeps us clothed and fed.
I am thankful for our health and how strong my daughter is getting every day that goes by.
I am thankful for the ability to create, even when I have limited resources.
I am thankful for having animals around that we love and who give us love and even feed us.
I am thankful for meeting a new group of moms that are simply amazingly generous and kind.
I am thankful for a bright sun and crisp morning air.
I am thankful for the smiles my daughter gives me, and her lovely hugs.
I am thankful for being able to calm her cries and love her so thoroughly she can adapt to anything.
I am thankful... and I am this every day; and each day I am thankful for different or new things... and I thought it was time to acknowledge this... it helps when things seem out of control to remember how many things we are truly blessed with.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


My little one has been teething like crazy this week. First she slept all day long for three days, and since then she just stopped sleeping altogether and is just a cranky little monster bug. But her right bottom tooth is finally poking out.
She has been loving the feeling of it and has been shredding things with the little nub of it as often as she can. It's really quite adorable.

Today was a beautiful day and we got to eat outside with Victoria, who won the hearts of everyone around her. She devoured a good 5 slices of tomato, a few pieces of melon and I can finally see the shift towards solid foods with her.

I have been spending the whole week baking... and yet have no pictures to show you! My chocolate cake was such a beauty with a caramel almond crust, but it was devoured before I could even take a pictures.
I then moved on to some mini honey cupcakes with a honey cream cheese frosting, that were both cute and delicious... so delicious that the dogs got to them when I ran outside for 10 minutes! Once again resulting in no pictures, and some very gassy puppies!
I also made a bunch of oatmeal no bake energy bites, and cookies. Those aren't exactly picture worthy, so I'll just wait until I bake some more to share pictures with you guys.

I will leave you with Victoria's first experience with mud, she was in heaven!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Well we finally are getting a bit settled in Chicago. A cross country move with the baby was not an easy thing to accomplish, and I gave myself time away from this blog so that I could concentrate on getting both myself and little Victoria settled into our new environment.
Luckily I have a trooper of a child and between our trip to France and this move I have to say she can adapt to anything!

I finally have a kitchen which is an amazing feeling, after having had to cook everything in a microwave or order out for the past few months... I have been baking up a storm every change my little one gives me. Pound cake, crepes, honey cupcakes, oatmeal cookies have all been on the list in the past week, and also of course yummy treats for Victoria, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, avocado puree... right now she is in love with this exotic fruit called a Kiwano.

I was part of the FRIENDS swap, luckily both me and my partner were moving so we agreed to take a little longer to accomplish it and it's finally ready, phew. I hope she likes everything I put in there.

I'm about to start knitting for the winter here, lots of pants and scarves I think. I'm joining a few knitting groups in the area, so helpfully they can help me hone my skills, because so far I'm not great at learning hard tricks like changing colors in mid row, or other such things.

So, I'm hoping I will be writing here again regularly, for the next few months until we are settled it might be more of a life blog than a craft blog and I hope you will put up with me during that time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Moving to Chicago

I haven't been posting much the past few weeks because of coming back from France only to realize that I had a wonderful opportunity offered me in Chicago and that I needed to move asap.
We've been packing and figuring logistics out. I will be leaving next week for that move and hope that after I get settled a bit more there I will be able to get back to blogging full time.
In the mean time we had a wonderful week-end two weeks ago at my friend's wedding. It was a beautiful exchange of vows and the party was fun and easy going (thank god for small favors as my little one was happily making a mess everywhere we went). She sat on her own in a high chair for the first time and managed to get her little hands into everything grabbing a spoonful of marmalade and whipped cream when mommy wasn't fast enough to stop her. Her proud smile was cute enough that I couldn't take it away from her either.

I made a little embroidery for them to celebrate their wedding inspired by a few congratulations cards I'd seen:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

On the move!

My life is in upheaval right now and I might have to put a hold on blogging for a bit. Hopefully this will not be the case, but until then here is my wordless Friday pic ( we were traveling again yesterday)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oh no!

I missed wordless Friday... But I have a really good reason! I was on a train, and then a bus all day long travelling with my little one to Southern California in order for us to attend one of my best friend's wedding!
The wedding is tomorrow, and we have had a wonderful time so far reconnecting and talking flowers, shoes, and all the fun stuff that weddings entail.
After the wedding and the gift giving I will finally be able to post a bit of craft that I made for the wedding, it's a simple gift but one that I hope they will appreciate.
And until then I will leave you with the new skill that Victoria has learned, one that she is mighty excited and proud of:
Yup... nothing like a yummy toe in the morning!

Monday, August 22, 2011

My new sundial

Well since I'm at a stand still with crafting at the moment because of moving into a new house, I thought I'd post one of the treasures I found in France. I was so excited about this little sundial that I found the very last day of my trip to France. I cannot wait to put it out and watch the hours pass as I'm sitting quietly sipping lemonade...

Who am I kidding, I'll be running trying to catch up with my daughter by the time I put it in our garden. because you see, it was too heavy for me to bring back on this trip so I've kept it at my mother's house to pick up the next time I visit! Actually... there was a lot of other things I had to leave back there, mostly books. I cannot resist books, especially books that are only one euro but that are treasures to my eyes... and there was this book sale in the village before we left... and I came back with my arms full. So now I already have half of the weight allowance in my suitcase waiting for me at my mom's for my next visit! Ah the joy of not living in your country of origin anymore.

Without further ado (and rambling), the sundial:

Isn't that little frog just lovely? It made me smile and I thought of all the fun stories Victoria could tell with it when she's old enough.
So here you are, one of the lovely things I got while in France.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Not Quite Wordless Friday

Just wanted to add a quick note to the Friday ritual, that we made it back from France safe and sound. The trip went really well up till the very last leg, where we missed our connecting flight. Luckily we managed although we were both extremely tired. Today is a quiet day and we are mostly taking naps and trying to keep cool.

This Friday, I also have to share two pictures rather than just one because both made me tear up when I pulled them off my camera this morning. I am so very very thankful that I got to see my mom and grandma and that they had a chance to meet Victoria. Waiting until next year is going to be rough!

Monday, August 15, 2011

On my way back home!

Today is pretty much my last day at my mother's house. Tomorrow we will drive to Bordeaux my home town to spend the night at a friend's house and then early the next morning I'll start my journey back to America.
It's been a lovely trip, this morning we went and walked one last time around the village and found a "brocante" there, I finally found the perfect vintage puzzle block game that I'd been looking for, I cannot wait to share with you pictures of it. It truly is lovely.
I also found a sun dial although it will only come back with me next year as I already had too full a suitcase, but it was so cheap I couldn't pass getting it right now. It's in cast iron, and just adorable. I can already see it in our garden!

My bags are all packed and the moment is very bittersweet. I am going to miss my mom and grandma and seeing the joy in their eyes each time they see Victoria. It is always hard knowing that we won't be back for a whole other year. But life goes on and I will just strive to write more letters and send more pictures.

So with the trip in mind I am not quite sure when I will be able to update again. I might have a chance for one more update before I leave France, and then it will probably be a week or two before I get everything together enough to post. Please be patient, and although I know few people follow this blog so far, feel free to share it with others until I can write again. I promise to update with some fun things when I get back! I have a lot of creative projects lined up that I am itching to get my hands on once I'm home.

I also have to share an adorable thing about Victoria: this week we started clapping when she accomplished things and this startled her greatly, so I tried instead encouraging her with the ASL (American Sign Language) equivalent of hand clapping, and she LOVES it! She gets so excited and happy when we "clap" for her now, it is the sweetest thing.
I am absolutely in awe of how quickly she picks up new signs and how well ASL has worked for us in communicating with each other. I'm still not sure that she is making signs of her own but I do know that I only have to look at her expression when I speak to her in sign language in order to get the answer to any question I might have (granted there aren't many at this point, mostly asking her if she wants a food item or needs a diaper change, but still).

Have a beautiful week!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cherry Dress and Tips on Smocking

I have a new found passion for smocking. It all started of course with the birth of Victoria. I was thinking of things to make for her, and somehow I remembered a very pretty grey dress that I used to wear when I was about eight. I loved that dress very much, and the top of it was smocked with a very simple flower pattern.
So I set out to look up smocking on the internet and liked what I saw... it was cute, it was old-timey, and sweet, all qualities that I enjoy in kid's clothes. 
Don't get me wrong, I love the bright colors that kid's clothes come in nowadays, the great ruffles, the funky silhouettes... but there is something to be said for the style and shape of vintage kid fashion. 

So, after a cursory search on the internet about stitches and how to gather my fabric I set out on my first smocking project. This was supposed to be simply a practice run, but I was so proud of how it turned out that I turned it into a dress.
However, seeing as I always throw myself into projects without finishing all my research and without patterns I did not realize a few things and my dress is less than perfect.
I'm going to share with you the problems I encountered and the solutions I found. If you are new at smocking or want to take it up, knowing these things ahead of time will make the first results a lot sweeter!

1. First and foremost, you want to have 3x the width of fabric that your pattern would usually need in the area that you are smocking. I think that on this dress I only gathered 2x the width of Victoria's chest and it definitely shows when it's on her. The stitches are pulled to the max, and it ends up leaving unsightly "bubbles" on the fabric. While smocking is used to gather fabric and give it stretch, you actually don't want the fabric with the smock to stretch much around the body, otherwise you lose the sharpness of the design you just spent a long time creating.

2. I might be really wrong here as I seems to read a lot of patterns that ask you to finish the clothes you've smocked after the embroidery is done, but I finished mine first, at least the neckline. Unless you are going to use bias tape to finish up your ends, you want to hem the cloth first so that you don't have to fight with your gathered fabric later on.
Now my designs so far have lain really close to the neckline, actually right against it, so it might be why I feel that this step is necessary. It might be that if the design was lower and not right against the neckline you can smock first and then sew your pattern together just like it should be if you hadn't added smocking to it.
Like I said, I do everything without patterns and on the go, so this is just what I discovered in my attempts.

3. It's ok to restart all over again! I think I started this dress three times. After pleating the fabric, I kept on messing up my stitches and being unhappy with how they were turning out. So I just cut everything and started again. I hate waste... and this was really hard for me, but I was so much happier with the result in the end run that I feel it's a tip worth sharing.

4. If you are just trying your hand at smocking, geometric smocking is much easier than picture smocking. I made this dress first, without a pattern, and figuring out the cherries was pretty hard for me and I'm still not very satisfied with them. Picture smocking which is exactly what it sounds like, making a picture with your thread (like cherries for instance, or a bear, or a whale) allows for more release of the pleats which can also be a disappointment in the end when you are expecting a nicely pleated dress. Unless you are a whiz and know exactly how far apart to space your images to keep pleats intact I would stick to geometric smocking on your first few projects.
I finished another dress (that I have to sew) in geometric smocking right after this one, and I was so much happier with the results!
Of course, every one of us is different and you might actually think that picture smocking is much easier and a lot more satisfying to boot, so give both a try by all means, but I would start with really small samples to see what you think and go from there.

5. If you hand pleat, which is what I did, go to the store and splurge for your first few tries on a fabric that has prints where you need it... let me explain: for smocking you need pleats that are 1/4" apart and the rows themselves need to be 3/8" apart. Grab a ruler and head to your favorite fabric store. Find a print that you like, and see if you can find a pattern in it that would help you stick to those measurements. Patterns with small dots, or gingham works the best.
Most people who smock add iron on dots to their fabric or run their fabric through a pleating machine, I did not have those options, however I was lucky enough to have this white fabric with a grid of elongated diamonds on it, that were spaced exactly to those measurements of 1/4" and 3/8". This was white on white, so not a fabric I would have initially grabbed, but when I saw the raised pattern I thought to check for distances. So take the time to explore, I am sure there are lots of different kinds of fabric that would give you the visual cues needed to space your pleats.

And that's about it... most importantly have fun! Smocking is not nearly as intimidating as it looks. After the initial boredom of hand pleating you fabric (find a good movie to watch/listen to while you are doing that part) the embroidery itself is a lot of fun and so satisfying!

Here are some more pictures of the project:

I never thought taking pictures of baby clothes could be this hard! She won't ever stay still and need her props to keep her distracted, hence the toys hiding her face.

Cute cherries

It's a bit easier in the carseat, if not really glamorous
The back is cute too if not really old fashioned, but I wanted something light for summer.

A better view of the back

Mom, are you done already?!
PS: I am very new to blogging and writing tips and tutorials, so if you have any questions or something is not clear please let me know! 

A F-R-I-E-N-D-S Swap!

I've joined the 2011 FRIENDS Swap at Sew Prim Khris. It is still open for those of you who might be interested in a fun little swap. I liked the idea of having to find fun items that start with each letter of the word FRIENDS, and this ties in nicely with my new goal of writing and giving randomly.
(And to be perfectly honest, that adorable little drawing up there is what sealed the deal for me. It was simply too darling to resist).

On a different note, I need help with the design of my blog. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to have my header photo not "eaten" up by my first entry.
I realized this was an issue when my mom looked at my blog and said, "well it's nice... but is that a breast?". While I'm all for natural parenting and breast feeding, the top picture is indeed of my belly while I was pregnant, not of a breast... and I would love for people to be able to realize this rather than assume I'm being purposefully daring.
Any tips?

Thank you and if you sign up for the swap, I hope you have a great time building a fun package for your new friend!

Friday, August 12, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Last days in France... A look at what we did this week.

As my vacation comes to an end I've also come to the realization that I'm truly ready to create and work as an artist for a living. I was very close to giving up before this trip because of the stress of launching myself out in territories unknown was getting the best of me. But I think I've realized how much I love creating, how much I want to spend my days with my daughter, to build a beautiful home for our family; and I know that working from home is what is going to allow me to do this. I have written myself a plan for the next few months, and as soon as I get back from France I will get to work.
With that in mind I hope that the universe will also work with me towards accomplishing these goals of mine!

My last post was about doing simple things for the people around me in order to make them happy, with that in mind I set out to post all of these today: 
I always told people I would send them postcards on my trips to France, and always lost track of time and ended up not sending anything. Not this year!

My favorite thing to do while I'm in France is going to the Farmer's Markets... Here are a few snapshots from the one in town here.

I love the wide array of berries, and the bright colors! The Fraise des Bois on the far right there are the best strawberries ever!

This little girl was transfixed by the set-up, she was working so hard not to reach and grab a handful of fruit, it was adorable!
Les Herbes de Provence, our signature spices all wrapped up in colorful bags. So cute!

I wish I could add the smell of those roasted pralines to this page.

Candy in bulk... my inner kid is yelling in glee!

Pretty pretty fruits...

And of course... good bread!

A beautifully worked door that I wish I could have back home.

And last but not least... I love my daughter's hands... They are so tiny and perfect... The chub is just too much.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer!