a woven life

a parenting and lifestyle blog


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Photography Styling Challenge|Light

PSC10 Light

 

My home is situated east/west. With so many south facing windows. How lucky we are, to be so engulfed in light.

For this month’s challenge I wanted to capture moments where the light in my home is most warming: morning and evening, east and west.

It was so clever of M, the brains behind this challenge, to utilize light as our theme for April, as Spring is unfurling. Such appropriate timing.

We will begin in the east:

You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.

-Paolo Coehlo

The morning is my favorite time. My husband leaves early for work (before 5am early), and if I can get myself out of bed by 5:30, I am rewarded with restorative alone time. I hydrate, read something inspiring (so hooked on Saint Teresa of Avila) by the light of the laundry room, and wait for the birds to sing. By the time daylight breaks, I am caffeinating, waking baby, and in good shape for the day. If I can’t get myself out of bed, the baby dingo wakes me and we start the morning together. Win win.

Sunsrise Banana

Day break.

Sunrise Grolsch

Sun rising.

 

Sunrise Stones

Mid-morn.

The sun travels the length of our house: kitchen, dining room, living room, porch. Our day follows it. Morning in the kitchen, pre-afternoon playing and chores centered in the dining/sewing room, post-lunch in the living room, afternoon on the porch or in the yard.

The sun sets in the west:

Sunset Buddha

Pouring in.

Sunset Curtains

Enclosed, warm.

It is possible that we spend our days chasing light.

For more:


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Meditating on Love [With a Capital L].

WaterInPlant“To love people we need a loving mind more than we need people to act lovably.” -Sarah Napthali


The above quote. It is wonderful. It is taken from a book I thumb through every third day or so, The Complete Buddhism for Mothers. This quote speaks volumes of truth. For me it  is put most easily into practice with my child, for though he is 97% lovable joy, he is 3% frustration, and I love him no less for this 3%. This practice is difficult with strangers, acquaintances, spouses, friends, family. We can’t surround ourselves with only those who fit a profile we deem worthy. I’m not suggesting that we be okay with surrounding ourselves with those who are toxic to our lives. I am trying to express, however, that we shouldn’t wait about for people to be lovable to be worthy of our love. 

If we aim to view the world through a lens of compassion (a practice every wisdom tradition advocates) then we can begin to open our lives to the cultivation of a loving mindset. Do try. As an illustration: I don’t always turn right on red, I don’t find it mandatory and I don’t like to creep into crosswalks. Yesterday, a person driving a truck felt the need to honk at me for this. As in, “hey, right on red, it’s a given, go”. It wasn’t an angry honk, it was an encouraging honk, really. None the less, my heart rate elevated. Instead of becoming angry at this fella (an inwardly selfish reaction), I meditated on loving-kindess for him, an act that forces one outside of their self. I am pro-selfless, but it is a battle that I am working on, and I want to share it.


In life news, the weather here is giving me whiplash. Snow. Sun. Wind.

What am I to do when I need both a sun hat and ear coverage? I become more aged every day.

And my fingers are cracking from winter again, I thought we were past this (right thumb, I’m talking to you). I am embracing that this rough-handedness is a sign of their use, I am letting go of the dream of hand modeling (my sister is cackling).

MarchCollage

Oren and I went out in the above photographed weather, wind and sleet pounding our faces. We didn’t last long, but in those twenty minutes Oren encountered his first puddle. As we walked along the sidewalk, he pointed it out. He vacillated between crouching down and splashing with his mittens, and stomping through it. He opted for testing the waters with his feet. So. Pleased. He would walk away from it, satiated, only to turn around, proclaim it’s wonder, and head back in for another splash.

 

 

Some pictures of or row markers: sticks and cut-out plastic shapes covered in electrical tape. So far, it is working. As for the heavy-duty machinery, the garden received a grant, thanks to our members in taking the initiative to locate and apply to said grant. We are putting in a fence, a shed, accessible beds, and some beds that will grow food for local shelters and food banks.

OrenGarden

Mister grin. Mister sun hat. Mister wind breaker. I really have no idea how to dress a tot for this season. Layers. If I could have fit a stocking cap under or over his sun hat, I would have. Though it nearing  the sixties yesterday, we had wind gusts of 40 mph. Oh, Kansas.

It smells like I need to change a diaper, and Oren is looking for somewhere to plug in a defunct coffee grinder.

With love,

Nicole

 

 


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The making of Monday.

GeorgeOnMonday

Winter is not quite ready to let go. Yesterday, Michael an I woke to a scene of whit; a light powdering of snow coated all. Today we are in for an accumulation of up to one inch. I’m questioning the wisdom of gardeners before me who assured me in their writings that frost hardy crops are indeed frost hardy. I’m holding my hope, cupped in my hand.

Oren and I are back to our rhythm today after a wonderful spring break with papa. Our weekend was so jam-packed with visiting. In the course of three days we saw every set of grandparents (in our family there are three and they can be classified as: cat grandparents, dog grandma, and fish grandparents), attended a cousin’s first birthday, and hosted a dinner for friends. In three days. I feel grateful for a weekend brimming with family/a monday just for baby and I.

In honor of our day, we are making bread. Short on flour, we mixed in cornmeal. The recipe we use makes two loaves and costs us a little under three dollars to make. There are thriftier breads to be baked, but the addition of dry milk and molasses are absolutely worth the extra pennies. Baking just one batch a week reduces our consumption of the store bought bread down to one loaf. There is a dark side to this bread: it is all Oren talks about until it is gone. “Toast this, toast that, I don’t want the eggs or orange on my plate until the toast is gone, look the toast is on the counter, look the toast is under this towel”.

BreadDough

 

 

His obsession with this bread has been amplified as he is now helping me knead it. He wholly worships homemade bread, leaving me all the more fulfilled in it’s creation. Bread baking is a meditative act of simplicity. We’ve got the process down, no doubt in the beginning it was a less-than-tranquil experience. But this one act of doing spills over into our whole day. Oren wants to check the rising dough and help pound it down between rising. The aroma of bread baking transforms the home completely, it is magic.

You can expect your kitchen to look something like the below image afterward, beckoning a nice session of some zen dish washing (wink,elbow,wink, “zen”). If I’m going to be honest, I have to admit to you that cleaning for me is not separate from the act of creating, regardless the mess, and thus just as enjoyable. You just can’t have one without the other so the options are:

1. A life filled with work and the fruits of labor.

Or

2. A sterile existence and stasis.

I just don’t see an in between, this is the only black /white matter. Why loathe the mess? It is wasted life to do so.

 

Dishes

 

And Ogie-tokie wanted me to please wash his ball (he signed please as he dropped it into the sink):

YellowBall

 

Over and out,

Nicole

 

 

 


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It is happening: Spring.

I’ve been reluctant to shed the winter layers. Matter of fact, here in Kansas it became abruptly warm, as in I couldn’t cope with one day wearing thermal underwear and the next (so literally) a sun hat. We had a harsh swing to warm for a few days and I had no idea how to dress my child. It’s mellowed out again, it feels more spring-y, there is a chill. I’ve coaxed myself out of  a coat most days. It’s very difficult to believe that this was the scene weeks ago:

In the name of warmish days, we’ve done some planting. How is it spring again, already?/Thank goodness it’s already spring. A dear friend suggested a barter and she sent me a wonderful stash of heirloom seeds in exchange for a little-sewn-something that looked a little like this:

Scrappy Clutch.

So planting we have been. Our community plot is sown with kale, spinach, onion, radishes, fava beans, and peas. We are also starting an herb garden in a bed in front of our house. I’m hoping to have some luck starting thyme from seed, but also in the works is calendula, cilantro, and perhaps some parsley. Oren has been enjoying trips to the garden. He has partaken in some digging, pulling up of plant markers, and much running off. Toddlers are hard to contain, this is fact.

Michael took Oren home one afternoon for a snack and I had a little under two hours (two hours) to myself to rake seed beds, sow, and water. The sun was warm , the breeze cool, the birds a euphony of calls. I had more than one silent moment of gratitude; every moment was a moment of quiet devotion. I don’t recall the last time I was solo for so long a stretch.

GardenMarch

And these are the things I am feeling so hard right now:

“Accustom yourself to continually make acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul”. -Teresa of Avila

“After all, I don’t see why I am always asking for private, individual, selfish miracles when every year there are miracles like white dogwood”. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Maple Flower

It is my deepest hope for you that you are encountering renewal in this season.

Yours regardless,

Nicole


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Where We Walk: KU Field Research Station, Fitch Biology Trail

Fitch Biology Trail

 

“Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.”George Washington Carver

Just north of Lawrence, nestled in some of the most densely forested Kansas, is the University of Kansas Field Research Station. A series of trails, this patch of land is a unique hiking experience in that many plant species are identified with plaques. Say what?

You heard properly. Species identified for you. It’s a riotous good time, if quiet and learning appeal to your party animal.

The light was majestic, the day was warm. Deer galloped down hillside, having heard our approach from forever away. You know when you come across one of those places that is less than ten minutes from your home but you feel as though you’ve stumbled right into a fairy tale? This place. It’s the ten minute day trip. The trails are very well maintained. There are some shelters. I will have to hit the rest of the trails here and update you further on the majesty of this spot.

Driving out to the Field Research Station involves some windy gravel, more than one grand farm house, a jaunce past a small airport, a small bridge over a tiny creek. There is an area to park, providing trail head access to all paths. Because it is a research area, no pups or other pets allowed, so leave Fido at home. Otherwise, if you frequent Lawrence, but haven’t hiked here, I implore you to do so.

Here we are, a vision of red amongst the browns and grays (soon it will be green):

hike

Happy hiking,

Nicole


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Photography Styling Challenge|Fashion

Photography Styling Challenge Fashion

I have no qualms with admitting that I experienced great apprehension about this month’s Photography Styling Challenge.

You see, I vacillate a lot about the role of clothing in my life and the effects garments have on my perception of well being. I generally maintain a very functional attitude about clothes; they protect from the elements. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t some degree of personal style in my life, I just strive relentlessly to prevent my sense of identity from becoming consumed by my wardrobe. I believe it to be spiritually imperative that we take a step back in our culture and ask ourselves why clothes are important, where they come from, and how they impact our abilities to feel right within ourselves.

Mini-lecture aside, I believe in the power of bodily decoration, I have a closet crisis at least quarterly, and I have deep respect for well-made and beautiful clothing. I lust for things I can’t afford but try to corral that in healthy ways. In my world view, it is completely acceptable to have the hots for a $150 pair of hiking boots because the sole is flopping off the current pair you own. Maybe hiking boots don’t constitute fashion and this is tip-toeing into rant-land. I’ll stop myself for you.

The following pants are from Oren’s handmade collection of funky stuff. I gain so much satisfaction from seeing him toddle about in handmades. The dress being the exception, as Oren does not wear dresses, although if he wanted to one of these days I would sew them so happily for him.

Upcycled Pants

In my sewing I utilize many fabrics that are already laying around my house. I maintain a mountain pile of worn out clothing in need of upcycling. The pants above belonged to Michael, I cut off the legs below the knee and made these pants based on Oren’s measurements.  The pants below were created from a very roomy pair of stretch knit pants that I lived in towards the end of my pregnancy.

Upcycled Sweats.

This romper I created for a friend’s daughter in honor of her third birthday. I was so happy to be sewing a little girl’s dress! You’ll notice that Oren has plenty of home-made pants but few tops. Dresses are so simple to whip up, if only I had a daughter as well. This dress was sewn using a vintage McCall’s pattern, number 5473.

McCall's Romper.

The pants pictured below are another clothing refashion. The flannel of these pants was salvaged from a large men’s flannel shirt and the woven cotton is from a vintage bed sheet. These pants are so cozy-warm. I love the yoke detail of this pattern and they are reversible to boot! These are the Quick Change Trouser from Anna Maria Horner’s Handmade Beginnings.

Upcycled flannel pants.

This final pair of pants are my absolute favorite of Oren’s wardbrobe so far. They are for this coming spring season and I lovingly dub them his Cabana Pants. I love making these pants, the pattern is easy to follow and absolutely addicting. I made pair of pants using Growing Up Sew Liberated’s Pocket Pant pattern by Meg McElwee. The fabric is a rare treat, purchased from Sarah’s Fabrics in downtown Lawrence. I almost can not go in there, in fact rarely can I afford to. The trim for the waistband, pockets, and cuffs are from a vintage bed sheet. Love that vintage sheeting. 

Cabana Pants.

On the “styling” side of things, I knew right away that there was going to be no way I could convince Oren to model these pants for you. So I opted for interesting backdrops around my home. And just as I construct this prior sentence, I look over and realize Oren is wearing something I’ve made. Today’s house outfit for this chilly winter day:

Oren PJ Cape.

Mister Cheese. Goodness. Here Oren is rocking some jersey knit leggings I made. On top he is wearing what I call his PJ cape-jacket. This number was upcycled from a pair of footed fleece pajamas. The zipper gave out on them completely and rather than replace it, I turned it into a cozy house coat. And the Ninja Turtle tee shirt was papa’s when he was a little guy. George has also asked me to mention that he is pictured above as well. Poor attention deprived diva-cat.

If fashion fixes and fantastic photography are your cup of tea, please explore some other posts!

And a special welcome to two new participants this month,


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Where We Trudge: In the Snow [w/ snippets of cabin fever].

snow1

There are icicles hanging from my roof that I daren’t walk under, not that I’m going outside today.

Here in Kansas we’ve received a suffocating beautiful two feet of snow. While we did venture out of the home when it was still coming down two days ago, we haven’t been out since. Current air temperature, one degree Fahrenheit. I can do no more than put out a letter today. Today’s highlights, however, will include: popcorn, hot tea, a bubble bath (for baby), and the rare indulgence of Harry Potter background noise.

For our intrepid expedition, Oren wore: four socks total, long underwear, fleece pants, a short and long sleeved bodysuit, a fleece sweater, a snow suit, coat, balaclava, hat, insulated mittens, boots. He was a star-fish in an Ergo, wrapped in papa’s heavy-duty-army-surplus coat. He was untroubled by the snow falling in his face. A young Tenzing Norgay or Edmund Hillary, our Oren is.

Here he is now, doing serious science; experimenting with centripetal forces (tossing everything from a potato to a popcorn kernel into the salad spinner).

snow2

 

 

As for today, the heat won’t shut off, a blessing. Thanks be to the grid. This is the perimeter of our house, in the event any polar bears wander too near:

snow9

 

Here you can view our tunnel of salvation, for when our is bravery enough-mustered to see us in a car:

snow8

This loaf has taken over Dingo’s room, which is the warmest room in our house (I’m eternally grateful that one room in our house meets this qualification):

snow11

 

And this loaf is forever lingering in the nether-lands if my thoughts:

snow10

 

We dub this baby-friendly banana bread. Cranberries, oats, flax, walnuts, whole wheat. Molasses, brown bananas, and raisins for sweet. A Michael specialty.

Indoors I will remain, perhaps a day more. I will finalize seed purchases and sow some indoor seedlings. I’ll be damned if spring doesn’t come.

From cozy but confining confines,

Nicole

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