Sunday, November 23, 2008

the gift that keeps on giving

looking for a gift for the person who has everything? want to give a gift this year that will give back? or simply looking to win the family competition of who-can-make-mom-cry-at-christmas? (um, yeah. maybe that is only in our house...) well, here is one idea for you. kiva is an organization that facilitates micro-loans to needy communities throughout the developing world. basically, kiva finds entrepreneurs in developing countries of the world who are in need of a loan. what we can do is provide some of the money for that loan. on kiva's website, they list the many programs that are requesting loans, so you can choose what you would like your money to go to. once that loan is paid off (usually in less than a year), you take that money and choose another program to loan to. and so on and so on.

last year, my siblings and i gifted our parents with a kiva gift certificate. it was perfect for them as my dad's business involves agriculture in south america, so they are able to focus their loans in that area of the world. by joining our efforts we were able to get them a certificate for an amount that we feel can really make a difference. oh, and yes. you bet our mama cried.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

give local this holiday season

if you have checked out my shop recently, you've probably noticed that i've gone crazy with the onesies. i've been a madwoman lately, ferociously sewing every chance that i get. this is partially because i've felt some good inspiration of late, but also because i am preparing for two upcoming holiday markets. the first of these will be on tuesday, december 2, and is hosted by lowcountry local first. this awesome group and its even awesomer sustainable ag director are doing amazing things for the businesses, farms, and people in our area. if you live in or near the charleston area, come out and support your local economy while scoring some unique gifts! find out more info and directions here.

the second market is later that same week, on saturday, december 6. my friend barbara and i will be sharing a booth at this all-day affair. there will be lots of vendors there, as well as activities for the kiddos (including, i am told, santa and mrs. claus...) we will also have some surprise treats to share with everyone who visits us. hope to see you at one of these events!

apple afternoon


my baby's been sick and the weather's been cold so that made for an inside day today. we're still moving through that peck o' apples and this is what i found to do with them today - spiced apple cobbler. i actually think this recipe was a little heavy on the sugar and flour so next time i'll go lighter in that department, but other than that, pretty scrumptious! and yes, i do occasionally indulge in the afternoon talk shows...what can i say, they're good company for a sewing mama while baby naps...and sometimes you get a special treat, like today's oprah: brad pitt. need i say more.

anyway, back to the cobbler. just look at how cute my assistants are...

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Monday, November 17, 2008

baby gear 101...part 3

in honor of international babywearing week, i thought i'd spend a little time talking about the many options of the wonderful and precious art of babywearing. when i was pregnant, i spent probably a month or more obsessing over finding the perfect baby carriers for my little one. i researched, cross-referenced, stalked chat rooms. i ended up with way more baby carriers than i now need or use (not to mention an i told you so sort of reaction from dear hubby). but in my own defense, it's difficult to know what you will end up using until you can test them with the real deal. i think that every baby and mama will have their own needs and preferences. so, i am going to offer some advice on what i found worked well for us, and i'll also try and give a few other options for you to consider for your own self as well.


the photo above shows my husband (with baby at her very first farmer's market) wearing a peanut shell sling. i think our daughter was probably a month old here. this was a nice sling when she was very tiny as she really did just fit in there like a little peanut. i was nervous at first that she was too "bent up" and wouldn't be able to breathe, but she of course was just fine, and in fact, quite cozy as all she really did in there was sleep!

one of the downsides to this type of sling is that it hurts your back if you wear it to walk around a lot, probably because of the uneven distribution of weight. it is nice around the house, though, especially when the little one is fussy and your arms need a break. this sling also comes in handy when the baby is around 4-5 months and is starting to sit on your hip. other popular brands for this type of sling are hotslings and new native.


the nifty little wrap that you see above is a gypsy mama. this is essentially just a really large piece of fabric that you can wrap around you in all sorts of ways. you can wear your baby on your front facing in, on your front facing out, on your back...i believe there is even a way to wear two babies with this thing! it is very similar to the moby wrap, which i hear wonderful things about, but as i live in a warm climate i decided to go with the lighter-weight gypsy mama. the fabrics are from bali and are beautiful. the gauze wraps are the lightest weight, but i went with the bali baby stretch. the stretch wraps are apparantly easier for the novice baby wearer as they are easier to wrap and are more "poppable" - meaning that once you have it on, you can put your baby in and out of it a few times without having to take the wrap off and rewrap each time. didymos wraps are another option for this genre.


this is my current favorite baby carrier. it is a mei tai and mine is from baby hawk. through baby hawk you have endless options to customize your own carrier, including a ton of amy butler fabrics - so cute. or, if you'd like to make your own, sew liberated has an adorable pattern available here. this carrier can also be worn on your front or back, and is just so easy and comfortable. both me and my little one love it.

we have also recieved an ergo, which we plan to use once we live back in the mountains and start taking the little one on hikes. for now, we've just used it a bit around the house, and it seems very user-friendly and comfy from what i can tell so far.

you have likely heard of the baby bjorn - we recieved one of these as a hand-me-down and our own personal experience is that it feels a little stiff and awkward to us. but i know a lot of people love them, so they are worth checking out. i also know a lot of mamas who love ring slings. my own mama made me one, using this pattern, and she said it was very easy to make. however, the fabric that we chose ended up not being strong enough, so i didn't feel comfortable using it. so my advice is: get some good, sturdy fabric and you are good to go.

so have fun looking around and making your decisions! the upside to having more carriers that you need is that there is a good market for them right now, so they have pretty decent resale value. or you can hang on to them and start a babywearing group in your area, so other mamas-to-be can try out and learn how to use the different carriers. i love how many mamas i see these days wearing their babies. it's such an intimate bond with your baby, and as supporters of attachment parenting know, it can have lifelong benefits for both you and your child.
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Friday, November 14, 2008

an apple (or 3) a day

we were on a trip up north last weekend and on the way back stopped in a sweet roadside apple shed. the man working there asked about a dozen questions about where we were coming from, where we were going, what we were doing...i think we were a pleasant interruption to his day. then he let us mix and match our own peck of apples. yes, a peck - finally a visual to the lullaby that i sing to olivia about 7 times a day!

anyway, we ended up coming home with this...

which created the perfect simple centerpiece for the table in our little nook like this...

and best of all, then i made this.

what more could you want?
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

i love soup


as the days get cooler and evenings get cozier, there is nothing better than a big pot of homemade soup. i love soup any time of the year, but there is something about fall soups that is especially comforting. we are members of a csa, and it is exciting to see what each week's box will bring - and thus what kind of soup we will be eating that week! a recent box brought us an acorn squash, and supplemented with a butternut squash from the local market, my talented husband came up with this scrumptious soup. i have attempted to capture his masterpiece in the following, very loose recipe:

roasted squash and garlic soup

preheat oven to 400-425

cut the top off a bulb of garlic, drizzle a little salt and oil on top and wrap in foil

cut each of the squash(es?) in half, scoop out the seeds, and dust with the following: salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg (pretty much whatever looks good in your spice cabinet - a mixture of the sweet and savory flavors of fall)

place garlic and squash in oven for about 20 - 30 minutes (until you can easily stick a fork in each)

towards the end of baking the garlic and squash, take a big pot and cook up a bunch of pancetta or bacon. render out the fat and cook until crispy. take out and set aside. when cooled, crumble it up. if cooking pancetta, you can leave the fat in the pot; if using bacon, you'll want to get rid of most of the fat.

in the same pot, saute one chopped onion with salt, as well as some celery and carrots (if you haven't noticed yet, hubby doesn't measure. just use what feels good to you.) add some thyme and a bay leaf.

when the squash is cooled off a bit, scoop out the insides and add to the onion mixture in the pot. open up the garlic - the bulbs will be soft and squishy, so scoop them out with a fork and add to the pot. pour in about 4 cups of stock (we use chicken). cook for awhile (maybe 20 minutes), adjusting the seasonings as needed. hubby likes to add sage towards the end.

puree (we use this nifty device to puree our soups). you can add a little cream to thicken and add body to the soup. garnish with some sage leaves and your crumbled pancetta or bacon.

we enjoy our soups with paninis. we recieved this panini grill as a wedding gift and it has been very well loved. the paninis in this picture are simply homemade crusty bread, soppressatta, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil. oh, yum.

now i must run as tonight's white bean soup is about finished!
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

oliver.handmade giveaway!


starting to get that holiday list together and looking for the perfect something for the expectant mom or new baby in your life? hop on over to this blog to get details on how you can win an oliver.handmade onesie or t-shirt! the winner gets the design and size of their choice. this contest will run through november 22. and be sure to check back to my shop in a few days...i am working on some holiday bibs made with an adorable vintage fabric and will have them posted by the end of the week. happy shopping!
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

baby gear 101...part 2


inspired by a dear friend (that would be you, jz), today i thought i would focus on the early days of breastfeeding. i am certainly no expert, so i'm just going to offer a little advice based on my own experiences and challenges.

if you choose to breastfeed, this is the very first activity that you will engage in with your child (beyond the cuddling upon your initial meeting!) many experts suggest that you attempt the first feed within the first hour after birth. hopefully you will have someone with you who can help make sure that the baby is latching on correctly. whether you are lucky enough to have someone to help you or not, i also recommend having dr. sears' breastfeeding book and the nursing mother's companion on hand.

in the first few days, it will seem like your baby is nursing all the time - because they are! they are not getting much at this point, but it is necessary for them to nurse so that they can get the hang of it and so that your milk will come in. (side note: i was told that a great way to help with milk production is to drink a dark beer a day for the first 2 weeks. um, yes please.) though this constant nursing is vital, it is not always the most pleasant experience for the new mama. this was my personal breastfeeding challenge - the pain. oh, the pain. there were times i was in tears even before putting my little one on, knowing how much it was going to hurt. my mom was with me, reassuring me that the pain would go away, that in six weeks it would magically disappear. six weeks?!?! there was no way i could fathom dealing with the pain for that long. i was convinced that something was wrong. i went to a la leche league meeting hoping they could 'cure' me but they said that everything looked perfect. perfect?!?

well, it turns out that my mom was right - in a month the pain was significantly better, in six weeks - totally gone. in fact, much like labor pain, i can't even remember what that pain was like now. but in the meantime, here are some products that really helped me:

soothies: these cooling gel pads are awesome. keep them on at all times except for when actively feeding your baby.

breast shells: i was so sore that even the slightest brush of my shirt killed. put these on as a barrier to protect those sensitive puppies.

lansinoh: apply this cream to help heal faster when you get cracked and blistered. and most importantly, go without a bra and shirt whenever possible. yes, that's right. walk around topless as much as you can. air drying is the best treatment.

once you get past the pain, breastfeeding is the most wonderful thing in the world. it is the ultimate bonding with your baby. in the first few months you will spend hours upon hours nursing your little one. i found that it was vital to have my nursing space prepared before settling in - sometimes you are there for 45 minutes or more! i got a little basket and kept it stocked with some snacks, water (you get very thirsty while nursing), soothies/lansinoh/breast shells, a magazine (US Weekly, please), a breastfeeding guide, my cell phone, and the remote. also essential in the early days is a nursing pillow to help support your baby and give your arms a rest. i had a lot of back pain from hunching over while i nursed, so try to prop yourself up with pillows to help with your posture.

another item that you're going to need is a good nursing bra or 2 - i had one for day and one for sleeping. you'll also want some nursing pads - both disposable and washable. after about 6 weeks, you can start using these amazing nursing pads which are awesome while wearing a swimsuit or a dress/shirt that you don't want to wear a bra with.

now relax and enjoy this precious experience!
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Monday, November 3, 2008

getting in the spirit


yes folks, it's november 3rd and as you know from my last post, i've been bit by the holiday bug. and now that we have a little one to show off, i have already spent a tad too much time searching for and thinking about the perfect holiday card. if you are doing the same (i know i'm not the only one), hopefully soon i'll have my own little handmade cards for sale in my etsy shop. but until then, i wanted to pass along another resource. a blog that i sometimes visit for ideas on organizing, financial matters, decorating, and the like is simple mom. the woman who writes it is an inspiring and creative graphic designer. one of her many talents is designing customized photo cards that you can purchase and insert a photo of your choice and print to your heart's content. and...she's having a giveaway if you'd like a chance to have one of these for your very own holiday needs! check it out:

and if i can't get the perfect shot of olivia, i'm just sending out the above photograph taken two years ago. don't we look awesome.
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