Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hank's 'hawk hat

Hank is one year old! His super fun punk-rock themed birthday party was on Sunday, and featured a piñata - for those of you keeping track, yes, it was a two-piñata weekend for me! Here's the "mohawk" hat I made for him, modeled by a spaghetti squash:
And here it is again, from the front, modeled with LOTS more attitude by Sanford:

It was even cuter on the little Hankster himself, but I forgot to take my camera to the party. Oh well...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Baby Shower

Aimee & Kriss put togther an absolutely lovely baby shower for me yesterday. Other friends helped out too, I thank you all for your efforts. I had so much fun! I really enjoyed having all my ladies, both friends and family, local and from out of town, gathered together for an afternoon of shower games and snacks and crafts and visiting. Also, there was a piñata! Nothing completes a party quite like a piñata. Tombi's Yam Cheesecake was also a big hit, and the blessing doll/angels that everyone made are going to be a very special keepsake for little Conan. I'll post a picture once I get them put together as a mobile or nursery decoration. They really are super special, each one is so unique. I got loads of wonderful gifts, you all are such generous and thoughtful people. Little Conan is a lucky little guy, to be born with such a wonderful supportive extended family and friend network. Thanks to everyone who came and helped make my shower such a success, I love you all. :)

Update: Here's a picture from Tombi of my Sister-in-law Nadege and me comparing bellies at the shower. Nadege is due November 14, just a little over 3 weeks before me. I'm so excited that Conan will have a cousin (her name will be Chloe) so close in age.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Can you beleive it? It's not even October yet and we woke up to frost this morning. Not a killing frost, but still - I think that's the end for my hopes of ripening all the green tomatoes in my garden. It's sure been a short, cold, wet summer. Oh well...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In the Garden

Tomatoes are getting ripe, the red pear/cherry tomato is especially prolific. I also have good sized ripe red slicers, yellow slicers, orange cherries, and a few red romas. Lots more green and light orange ones still to ripen, hopefully the weather will stay warm and dry for them.

These dark red sunflowers are really stunning, they must be eight feet tall. Most of the regular yellow ones in the mix have already finished blooming, so it was a nice surprise when these started opening up.

I dug most of my potatoes today. The vines had died back on all but one variety, and the squash vines are encroaching, so it seemed like I ought to get them dug before I lost track of them. I'm a little disapointed in the yeild I got - good thing we weren't relying on these potatoes to get us through the winter! I planted late because of the wet spring, and I don't think they liked our heavy soil very much - in any case, 20 plants ought to have yeilded more than one full colander of small spuds. On the other hand, these will be delicious and tender, so I really shouldn't complain.

The cosmos in the front flower bed are coming into bloom, they sure make an impressive display along the fence. You'd hardly know that there was only grass there until this spring, it looks so amazingly well-established now.

It's a nice time of year, this late summer/early fall weather has been just glorious. I sure hope it lasts a few more weeks, at least. I'm not ready for the frost and rain just yet...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Genderizing Baby

I've been thinking a lot lately about what little Conan will be like. I'm sure every mom-to-be does this, but as usual I have probably gone further than most and really begun to over-analyze things, especially in terms of gender role expectations. One of the things I have really noticed is the gender-specific nature of baby items - clothes, nursery decorations, equipment, you name it - they make one version for girls and one for boys. This post really caught my attention. It's very true, as the author says - baby clothes are very genderized, and it's a lot more subtle than just pink vs blue, bows vs buckles. Girls get butterflies, flowers and kittens; boys get firetrucks, puppies, and dinosaurs.

I think it's pretty telling that I felt relieved to find out that Conan was a boy - not because I wouldn't want a girl - but because it meant that I woulnd't have to struggle with getting all those stereotypically girly clothes, especially when it came to gifts from friends & family. If I had a girl, I'd want to dress her in the "boy" clothes, because they have so much more variety. When exactly did cartoon fish & dinosaurs & puppies become masculine, anyway? Girls can be firefighters, backhoe operators, or fishermen too, right? And find me the toddler of either sex who doesn't deserve to wear a shirt that says "mommy's little monster".

Personality trait predictions are also interesting. I can't deny that little Conan is a very active baby, at least at this stage. And yes, we are giving him a name with some strong masculine connotations. But his womb activity level could just as well lead him to be a dancer or a gymnast as a football star or a boxer. Right? He could be an introverted bookworm, into astronomy and science and music as easily as a rambunctious tree-climbing knee-skinning frog-pocketing "boy's boy" with a fixation on tools and cars. And yet people always predict the latter... not that there's anything wrong with being a "boy's boy", but just once I kind of wish someone would say, "Oh, he's going to be such a sensitive and thoughtful little guy" or "Maybe he'll grow up to be a famous chef" or "You must be looking forward to watching him perform in school plays" or something like that. It would be so... refreshing. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Childbirth Class

Last night we went to our first childbirth class. It was really interesting, and I like the teacher (Mary Burgess) and the rest of the group. There are 6 other couples in the class, two due in october, two in november, and two (besides me) in early december. All of us are first time parents. One of the interesting things we learned last night is that there is only a 4% chance that you will have your baby on your due date! I knew it was a small chance, but I thought it was higher than that! Really, there's a four-week window, two weeks before and two weeks after the due date. So I could end up having little Conan pretty much any time between Thanksgiving and Christmas...

We talked about labor pain & intensity, and did an interesting excercise where we held a handful of ice cubes for 60 and 90 seconds to experience "prolonged intense sensation". Wow - all I can say is try it. It really, really burns after about 8 seconds, and a minute seems like a REALLY long time, 90 seconds is excruciating. We did a few breathing excercises to help train the mind not to focus on the pain of holding the ice, and then once we had practiced that a couple times moved on to putting the ice on our bare feet. YEEEEOOOOW! You may be thinking I'm an extreme wuss, and it may be true - why don't you go get a handful of ice, put it on a towel on the floor, and stand on it barefoot while someone times a minute for you? Then you can post in comments about how much tougher than me you are. :)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Our First Aniversary

1 year ago today...
From Super-Duper Wedding Album (click link if you want LOTS more wedding memories!)

We got married! It was such a fun day, such a wonderful celebration, so special to have our many good friends and our amazing families came together for a terrific party. The weather was perfect, the food was great, the band rocked, and everything just came together like clockwork. And you could say more or less the same about our first (married) year together too. Life is good! :)

Tonight we are celebrating by going out to dinner at Nimbus in Bellingham. I've never been (I ate at a previous restaurant in the same location, years ago, but lots has changed) and I'm really looking forward to it. It's at the top of one of the tallest buildings in town, and I timed our reservation so we will get to enjoy the sunset during our dinner. How romantical!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Pocket Blankie

I made this little blankie with a pocket and a stuffed kitty for Christian & Fish's baby, who is due Sept 27th. The baby shower was yesterday, it sure was a fun gathering.
It's made from scraps of different yarns from my collection, I think it turned out really nice. The dark navy blue is a super soft, silky & fuzzy yarn, fun to work with.
I hope baby Lopez will like it. :)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Diaper

I made my first cloth baby diaper yesterday! It turned out really well. I spent a lot of time looking at patterns and reading about materials and styles and stuff so by the time I sat down to sew I had a good idea of what I wanted to do. Even so, I'm impressed at how quickly and easily it came together. Also, it's really tiny and cute, I cant wait to have a little baby butt to put in it. :)
cloth diaper success
Here it is with one of the wing/tabs open, you can see the little scoop in the front - that is to keep the tummy pannel from coming up over the umbilical stub while it's healing. The pattern I used is called "Shar's Newborn with Umbilical Scoop Pocket" and it was a free downloadable pattern.

Here it is completely open, the elastic at the top is the opening for the pocket. For those of you who haven't been obsessibly researching cloth diapers for the last month (and why not? you have something better to do?), a pocket diaper has two layers - an outer water resistant or waterproof one, and an inner wicking one, with an opening so you can stuff an absorbant insert in between the two - aka the pocket. In this case, both the inner layer and the outer layer are polar fleece, but strangely enough some fleece lets water through and other fleece doesnt. I had quite a time going through my fabric bin pouring water on various fleeces to figure out which kind was which, it is not obvious from the thickness or fuzziness of the fleece at all. So, how does it work? In the interest of science, I tested the finished diaper (even though I had already tested the fleece before sewing) by stuffing the pocket with scrap material and placing the whole thing on top of a t-shirt before pouring about a half-cup of H2O onto it.
The result? It worked perfectly. The insert soaked up all the water, the inner wicking layer of fleece felt only slightly damp to the touch, and the outside of the diaper and the T-shirt beneath it were perfectly dry. I'm sure in real life some accidents may happen, but this diaper design really seems to work well!
After my initial diaper-making success, I decided I should try my hand at making the absorbant inserts. It took a bit of trial and error, but once I got a system worked out they went really fast and I made up a baker's dozen of them. The winning combination was two layers of flannel or jersey (from an old t-shirt) and an inner layer made from a retirement-aged bath towel. I top-stitched the edges and the center to (hopefully) keep all the layers in place without any fraying through wash after wash.
I also cut out a bunch more fabric for more diapers, including some PUL (polyurethane laminate - basically plastic-backed fabric) to use for the outer layer on some truly waterproof ones. The PUL is kind of expensive, so I wanted to make sure I did up some fleece ones to practice before I got into it. I figure I'll make about twenty of these newborn-sized ones with the scoop front, and then switch into a slightly larger newborn/small, maybe from a different pattern. This is fun, and it's really going to work! I'm so glad I decided to give sewing my own diapers a try.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Jelly & Pickles

I went out in the morning yesterday and picked wild himalaya blackberries from the patch in our field. The rain all last week was hard on them, many were so soft they disintigrated at even the gentlest touch. I was still able to pick about 6 quarts of ripe juicy berries, enough to fill my biggest pot halfway up, in just over an hour. The berries aren't as sweet as they would have been with a bit more sun, but they sure are extra juicy. Perfect for Jelly!
I got about 3 quarts of juice out, enough to make 14 jars (the jars vary in size from cups to pints) of yummy jelly. With a little left over for a couple peices of test toast. :)
I also made a batch of crosscut dill pickles, 7 pints. This is my second batch of pickles this year.

Unfortunately my first batch (bread & butter pickles) came out short on the liquid so we won't be putting them up for winter, the seal is good but the top couple inches of pickles will dry out. Instead we are using them up as fast as we can... there are worse problems to have than lots of delicious pickles that need to be eaten though!