me made may

are you Instagram users?  if not, you really need to set up a free account and start exploring.  i held back for quite a while, but i’m getting my footing and have found that not only is it fun to see what others are making and wearing, but it’s educational!!

this month is “me made may”.  users pledge to wear handmade clothing each and every day and post pics of their makes.  i’m sure that some see it as a way to share show off their wardrobes, some see it as a way to find inspiration to add to theirs…but i was a little surprised when i found that by wearing and photographing my makes i’ve found that i’m rethinking my wardrobe.

first off…if you know me you know that i ABHORE having my picture taken.  i avoid it like a colonoscopy….nope, i take that back…the colonoscopy was easier!!  there will be no video montage at my funeral…hard to do with only about 5 pictures!  but i’ve challenged myself to do it…take the hated “selfie” every day and post them.  it’s getting relatively easier because i realize that there are lots of others with the same phobia.  and when i really started looking at what i was wearing i found that my choices weren’t what i thought they were.

i’ve also been reading the curated closet by anuschke rees, which is described as “a simple system for discovering your personal style and building your dream wardrobe”.  admittedly i haven’t finished the book yet, but so far i’m stumped.  it asked you to define ‘your’ style…huh??  ‘your’ colors…again, huh?  but pairing the book with me made may has got me thinking, pondering, questioning.  in trying to dress to accentuate the positive and eliminate hide the negative (a little shout out to bing for those who remember the song!) i’ve pretty much been doing just the opposite.  exploring what others are wearing is helping me find that ‘your’ style!!  it’s helped me find the holes in my wardrobe (need more simple tops…and definitely some pants besides jeans!).  and i now have a list of about 25 patterns that i “need” to try out…okay, that may be a down side!

if you already follow me on Instagram…yay!!  if not, go set up that account, follow me @ohsnapdragonstudios along with tons of other sewists to see what everyone is wearing.  even without posting your own lovely selfies i’m sure you’ll be inspired.

book review: the little spark

i’m not as good at book reviews as elizabeth, and i rarely read “self-help” style books.  but The Little Spark, 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity by carrie bloomston was a recommended read, so i picked up the only copy at my local barnes & noble.  i’ll admit right up front that i haven’t complete ALL the assignments, but carrie pointed out at the beginning of the book that you could plow straight through or take them in any order.

61iqOWq+MOL._SX393_BO1,204,203,200_[1]in carrier’s words “this book is an interactive workbook designed to help you step into a creative life through engaging exercises, fun activities, inspirational images and motivating ideas.”  and that it is!  there are snippets of success stories, beautiful images, tons of encouragement and some truly interesting exercises.

carrie states “The Spark is your creativity, and you were born with it. We all were. Humans have always felt its pull.”  true words.  we all have it…whether we use it to create art, food, shelter or even technology.  “your desire to make things is bigger than you.”

the exercises within this book urge you to “just start”, help you create a space to do that, teach you how to dispel your fears, and trust yourself.

my favorite quote from the book is “nothing you need to know is in this book or any other.”  “Everything you need is within you.”

pick up a copy…you’ll find your spark.

kim

disclaimer: i purchased this book on a whim.  my ruminations and recommendation was not influenced by or paid for by the author or distributor.

Sheep!

Those times when you want a weekend from your weekend, right? Thursday night I hosted an essential oils  class at my house, Friday night I led our ladies’ Bible study, Saturday morning I helped host my sister’s bridal shower, and Sunday morning we taught the preschool kids’ church class. And then I melted into the daybed with a book and didn’t move while our kids napped Sunday afternoon.

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Thanks to kids’ church and my book the theme for Sunday was sheep. We taught the story of the Good Shepherd to the kids and helped them make little sheep finger puppets out of craft foam. We planned on a dozen kids and had 17, so forgive the shoddy gluing job on a couple of those sheep (I am not a neat hot-gluer under pressure), but they turned out pretty cute, I think. Why do googly  eyes make everything better?

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The book I picked up is the next choice for the Brit Lit book club I help run at the library: Terry Pratchett’s  Wee Free Men. I won’t spoil the story for you, but as you can guess from the cover it’s a fantasy story that centers on a shepherding family.  I finished it last night and I think it’s my new favorite Pratchett.

A taste:

“‘Witches have animals they can talk to, called familiars. Like your toad there.’

‘I’m not familiar,’ said a voice from among the paper flowers. ‘I’m just slightly presumptuous.'”

And one more for good measure:

“Now… if you trust in yourself… and believe in your dreams… and follow your star… you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and leaning things and weren’t  so lazy.”

And now I need a new book. What are you reading these days? I am game for almost anything.

-Elizabeth

On my nightstand: On Immunity by Eula Biss

If you don’t have young kids or grandkids you probably haven’t become too embroiled in the current debate over immunization (lucky you!), but if you do have little ones around or even if you don’t I highly recommend On Immunity: An Innoculation by Eula Biss.

Eula Biss is a writer of nonfiction and I was impressed by the scope of her research, but also by the way she weaves her family’s decisions into a wider discussion of the history and ethical implications of immunization.  She also incorporates some literary criticism throughout, which I thought was a neat approach.  She uses Dracula and vampires in general as a lens for looking at our fears about our bodies and others’ bodies.  “Our vampires, whatever else they are, remain a reminder that our bodies are penetrable.  A reminder that we feed off of each other, that we need each other to live.  Our vampires reflect both our terrible appetites and our agonized restraint.  When our vampires struggle with their need for blood, they give us a way of thinking about what we ask of each other in order to live.”  (Biss, On Immunity, 82)  Biss points out that although we like to think of our own bodies and our children’s bodies as private, we, like all natural systems, are totally interconnected and dependent on one another.  In that way Biss could be talking about any number of issues – environmental responsibility, parenting philosophies, religious beliefs… – for me On Immunity was a reminder to love my neighbor as myself.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of immunization, I think this one is worth a read.

What are you reading these days?  Have you read On Immunity?  Thoughts?  I am still on track with my one book a month plan (down from my pre-kid one book a week plan, but an improvement on my a handful of books a year plan of the past couple of years).  Do you make reading resolutions?  What should I read next?

-Elizabeth

On my nightstand… Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I’m working my way through Liane Moriarty’s addictive canon and my most recent was Big Little Lies, her newest.  

While I didn’t find it quite as engrossing as The Husband’s Secret, I still blew through it faster than anything else I’ve tried so far this year.  Big Little Lies is about the politics among a group of parents at an Austrailian primary school, and while that description would’ve made me run screaming a few years ago, Moriarty’s writing and her great characters drive the plot.  As with all of the books I’ve read of hers, there is an element of mystery: in this case, who died at the school trivia night and why.

She takes on some hard topics (abuse, nature vs. nurture, beauty standards) but doesn’t sacrifice the story in order to make her points.  My biggest complaint about her books in general is that she tends to wrap up her plot a little too neatly at the end, but honestly I secretly kind of like that, too, so I guess it’s not that big of a complaint after all.

A few of my favorite quotes:

“If parents had children who were good sleepers, they assumed this was due to their good parenting, not good luck.” – Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies

“They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”
― Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies

And, of course:

“Oh, calamity!” – Liane Morarty, Big Little Lies

4.5/5 stars

What are you reading these days?  I need recommendations.  I have The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton on my shelf but I haven’t quite gotten motivated to pick it up yet.  Is it good?

-Elizabeth

On My Nightstand: The Organized Mind

When I’m super busy I read books about organization.  It’s nice to have something to aspire to.  So when I saw this book about organizing your *mind* I was immediately intrigued.  I’m about a chapter into it and I’m totally hooked so far, so I thought I’d share.  The Organized Mind is written by Daniel J. Levitin, a psychologist, who delves into the way our brains have evolved to process information and ways that we can train ourselves to better think straight “in the age of information overload.”  Since I am half of an internet business (ok, ok, that’s an excuse – I’m online way too much anyway), I thought I’d see what he had to say.

Some interesting things I’ve learned so far:

* The more choices you make during the course of the day (from what to wear, to whether to check your email before or after you have coffee, to how much money to deposit in your 401k) the more likely you are to make worse choices as the day goes on because of decision overload.  (p. 5)

* The amount of information each person processes during the course of a day is astonishing.  “We have created a world with 300 exabytes (300,000,000,000,000,000,000 pieces) of human-made information.  If each of those pieces of information were written on a 3 x 5 index card and then spread out side by side, just one person’s share – your share of this information – would cover every square inch of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined.”  (p. 6)

Isn’t that nuts?  I’m pretty fascinated by this stuff.  What are you reading this weekend?

-Elizabeth

On my nightstand

Ok, so I read this one so fast that it didn’t even make it onto my nightstand, but that’s what I named the series, so that’s what it’ll be.  I started and finished Molly Wizenberg’s Delancey yesterday while Paul was helping my sister’s boyfriend with his broken down car.  Jack wanted to play outside, Samuel didn’t want to be put down, so what was I to do except sit on the patio and read?  I ask you.

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Delancey was everything I liked about Wizenberg’s first book, A Homemade Life, plus small business ownership, which I’m obviously interested in now.  I’ve been a long-time reader of Molly’s blog [can I call her Molly?  I feel like I know her, so that counts, right?] Orangette and the thing I like best about it (aside from the wonderful recipes) is that she is wonderful at sharing just enough of her life that it feels like a friend’s blog without oversharing and veering into free therapy territory.

When her husband Brandon decided to open a pizza restaurant Molly was supportive in that “sure, honey, whatever will make you happy” kind of way because she didn’t really expect it to happen.  Once it was happening and did happen, she had to work out what it would mean for her life, her marriage, and their relationship.  Luckily she decided that Brandon was worth the effort and the changes and together they created what sounds like an awesome pizzaria.  Now I’m not only craving pizza AND the rice pudding recipe she included, but I’m also saving my pennies for a trip to Seattle.

Delancey was a great read: quick, honest, straightforward and perfect for a late-summer’s afternoon.  Loved it.

-Elizabeth

P.S.  I love to talk books – here are some others I’ve read this summer.  Comment if you want to discuss any of them.  I’m so game.

The Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde (obviously Wilde intended this to be a Thinking Book.  I enjoyed the prose, but it could’ve been about half as long and just as effective.)

Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith [aka J.K. Rowling] (Classic hardboiled detective stuff.  Enjoyed it enough to read it while I was in [unmedicated] labor for Samuel.)

The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith (Fun, but creepy)

The Fever, Megan Abbot (eh)

The Skeleton Crew, Deborah Halber (about amateur sleuths searching for missing persons/ identifying unidentified bodies – a hobby that couldn’t have existed before the internet)

 

The List

Jack has been really into the Frog and Toad stories by Arthur Lobel lately.  We have a collection of them, and one of the stories in the collection is called “The List”.  In case you’re not familiar with the story, the gist of it is that Toad wakes up in the morning and decides to make a list of all the things he’ll do that day.  He (wisely, in my opinion) includes things like “wake up”, “get dressed”, “eat breakfast” that are easily crossed off, and only then moves on to “go to Frog’s house”, “take walk with Frog”… and so on.  While he is walking with Frog, a gust of wind blows his list away, and when Frog suggests chasing it Toad wails that he can’t, because chasing the list was not on his list of things to do today.

I’m totally with Toad on this one.  I live by my lists, and while I always end up doing things that aren’t on my list (or more likely, adding more things to my list as the day goes on), it’s nice to start the day off with one.  I like to see what is on other people’s lists, so just in case you’re nosey and have sympathetic list-making OCD like I do, here’s what my list looks like these days (in no particular order):

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*Finish tops for quilts (Don’t forget to keep watching for the giveaway in the next few weeks!)

*Arrange to have them quilted

*Wash bassinet bedding/ wipe down bassinet (make new sheet for it?)

*Get infant carseat out of the garage and wash cover

*Clean out car/ swiffer it (I drive an Element – the car you can mop.  So great.)

*Install carseat

*Reorganize closet/ put away stuff in bedroom that has been sitting by my side of the bed for ages so the bassinet can go there.

*Upload pictures to Snapdragon albums on Facebook, Pinterest and Flickr (links to come when I get to this)

*Choose and order materials for Snapdragon press packets

*Order mailing envelopes for Snapdragon print patterns (coming in three weeks! Just like the baby!  Yikes!)

*Make girl and boy newborn outfits (rompers?) for first picture

*Clean house

 

The real trouble is that what I want to be doing right now is sitting on my daybed in a pristine house finishing Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret.  If you’re looking for a great summer read, I highly recommend it.

What’s on your list these days?  Doesn’t it feel awesome to cross stuff off?  I’ve been known to put something on the list that I’ve already done just so that I can check it off immediately.  🙂

-Elizabeth

On my nightstand… baby edition

When I was pregnant for Jack and again this time around I pretty much avoided all of the traditional baby books.  What to Expect When You’re Expecting was too scary (“here are all the things that can go wrong with your baby *this* week!!”) and none of the other Official Pregnancy Books really appealed to me.

The genre that totally sucked me in was midwife memoirs.  I see a midwife through our local hospital’s women’s health center, and we had a midwife-directed hospital birth with Jack that was about as close to a home birth as you could get without being home.  It was amazing.  In case you’re in the mood for some baby-style reading (or if you’re in withdrawal from Call the Midwife) here are some books I’ve enjoyed.

Peggy Vincent, Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife.  Peggy Vincent was a professional home-birth midwife in the U.S. and delivered over 3,000 babies during her career, which spanned from her nurse-training in the 1960s through the early 2000s, so Baby Catcher has plenty of great birth stories, but it also offers interesting commentary on the obstacles faced by midwives in America and includes a lot of good information about the differences between medicalized and non-intervention birth experiences.  This was one of the first midwife memoirs I read and it got me hooked.

 

Penny Armstrong and Sheryl Feldman, A Midwife’s Story.  I just finished this one a couple days ago and I have to confess that I read it all in one fell swoop.  (Any time I say that you can assume that I bought it on my Kindle and stayed up all night to read it – uninterrupted reading doesn’t happen around here during daylight hours.)  Penny Armstrong is a trained nurse-midwife who set up practice serving the Amish community of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and most of her stories are about the Amish.  She’s light on the details of the actual births, which is good or bad depending on your interest in birth itself and your general level of squeamishness, but she includes a lot about Amish culture and about the way that she and her husband were accepted into the Amish community despite being English because of her care for their women and babies.

Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times.  News flash: in case you didn’t realize, Call the Midwife is based on the memoir of a midwife practicing in London in the 1950s.  I haven’t actually watched the show yet (it’s on my list for when I’m sitting nursing the new baby 18 hours/ day later this summer), but I loved the book.  Fun fact: I learned about eclampsia by reading Call the Midwife and totally diagnosed Lady Sybil and called that she was doomed after she had the baby in Downton Abbey.  My mother-in-law and Paul both diagnosed me as a prego-obsessed nerd, but whatever, I was totally right.

 

Linda Fairley, The Midwife’s Here!  The Enchanting True Story Story of Britain’s Longest Serving Midwife.  I just started this one, but already I love Fairley’s humor and her way of telling the stories.  Like A Midwife’s Story, so far The Midwife’s Here is lighter on actual birth stories and heavy on the culture surrounding midwifery in Britain in the 1960s and 70s when Fairley was doing her training, but so far it’s a great read.

 

 

And if those aren’t enough reading recommendations to get you started, here are a few non-midwifey-y pregnancy recommendations for good measure:

Lucy Puryear, M.D., Understanding Your Moods When You’re Expecting.  This was the closest I got to the What to Expect genre.  There are tons of books on what happens to your body when you’re pregnant, but this one explains all of the craziness that is going on in your head when your brain is flushed with hormones on a regular basis and I found it to be really reassuring that I wasn’t alone in bursting into tears when I couldn’t get the peanut butter jar open or in becoming enraged over something as stupid as Paul draping his jeans over the hamper instead of putting them inside.  There’s a lot of good information about more serious mental health issues as well (how to recognize post-partum depression, whether to stay on your meds while you’re pregnant and nursing), but I found the science behind the mood-swings to be pretty fascinating.

Jena Pincott, Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?  I’ve given this book to several friends when they were expecting.  Pincott is a popular science writer who became interested in uncovering the “truth” (or lack thereof) in old wives tales about pregnancy when she was expecting her first baby.  Fun, light and educational.

 

 

 

Bonus: Martha Beck, Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic.  Martha Beck and her husband were go-getting Harvard students with multiple degrees each when they learned they were expecting a baby with Down syndrome.  The pressure from their colleagues to terminate the pregnancy was enormous, since the baby would not be “normal”, much less another Baby Einstein-attending Harvard student in the making like their classmates’ kids, but a series of events that Beck can’t explain led her to believe that there are more important things to learn in the world than what an Ivy League school can teach.  I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but I found this book to be extremely moving and thought-provoking – I highly, highly recommend it.

 

Have you read any good baby-themed books lately?  What else do I need to put on my reading list?

-Elizabeth