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As we’ve now done every other since 2008, the Cleaver clan (now expanded!) took our bi-annual trip down to Southern California for Thanksgiving. It’s a long trip cobbled together on buses to/from Boston and long plane flights, but the travel is worth it to see my now-distant family.

A few nights before we left Mr. Cleaver and I tried to figure out how many times we had done this Thanksgiving trip (this was the 4th): there was the year I have memorialized in a photo on my desk, when my mom  and her mom came and my cousin Preston was there and my grandmother Leota was still alive and there was only one wee member of the next generation.

Then there was the year my grandfather, now a widower, had my brother and I cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner two days before Thanksgiving and when we visited my Great Aunt Betty at her house and she gave me a little brass bird to take with me to look at and think of her. She’s since moved to a senior living community and I haven’t seen her since.

Then most recently, the year we met my little red-headed first cousin once removed, while I was pregnant with my own little red-headed girl, and we stayed with my Aunt and Uncle and went to Disneyland.

This year there was one less member of the eldest generation and two more members of the youngest.  All reminders of why its so important to make the trip, if only every other year. My uncle said it best this year  – “traditions like this don’t just happen, you have to put in the work and everyone has to pitch in.”

I’ll admit that this year, with LMC as part of the group, made for a very different experience for me – not to say she was trouble – she was spectacular on the all the travel and in adjusting to the new people and surroundings, but it really struck me how much more your attention is divided when you’re the parent of a small child. When a half an hour conversation turns into 10 minutes because she needs you in another room, or the shift in times from up late and sleeping in to early to bed, early to rise. But I loved seeing LMC read a book with her Great Aunt, or sit in her Great-Uncle’s lap to watch the Polar Express or for her to play kitchen with her cousin and try to be like the big girl. Not to mention her first experiences seeing a baby hippo, chowing down on In-N-Out fries, or taking her first pass at big-ball bowling.

To some extent, visits to my family during the Holidays have always felt a little bit nostalgic – going back to the places I loved as kid and remembering all the things we did in those backyards and houses, but this year I was reminded how great families (and I have some great family), allow you to change and grow and love you all the more for it.

And for that, I’m thankful.

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On Friday we had our second snow of the season (the first being a dusting the weekend after Halloween), but it now being mid-November, this one is the true harbinger of winter.

We’ve shifted our clocks back, I’ve pulled out my sweaters, and generally speaking, the first snow comes right around Thanksgiving, so it’s all in good timing. We’re acclimating LMC to snowpants and boots and mittens (which are tiny and adorable), and planning on more indoor time.

My most recent take on the Geranium dress, made out of some lightweight shot cotton, is mostly inappropriate for the weather, but I bought the fabric back on vacation and cut it out months ago and we can always layer, right? In any case, I cut it long in the hopes that it’ll still fit come warmer days, which are now very far away for Maine. I’ve got a second dress cut out in the same fabric for her still-nudist doll, which I hope to have done by Christmas.  Because there’s nothing like November to kick-start a slightly dormant crafting bug.

Do you have any Christmas crafting plans in the works?

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Happy Halloween Everyone!!

I love costumes. It’s the theatre kid in me. But to my surprise, LMC was excited to wear hers too. The first thing she said the morning when I got her from her crib was “ears” because she wanted to put on her headband. Gotta love it – and I think she looks pretty stinkin’ adorable.

Mr. Cleaver and LMC painted the pumpkins together on Wednesday. The tempura paint is starting to peel a little, but I think they’ll make it through the night.

We’re planning to eat pizza and hand out candy, we get 80-100 kids a year. We’re holding off on treat or treating for at least another year.

Hope your Halloween is fun and fabulous!

  • Olivia Dress: McCall’s M6913, View B with D collar. All Kona cottons from JoAnn’s.
  • Pig Ears: Improvised by me. Wool Felt from Z Fabrics.
  • Striped Leggings: Target
  • Tintin outfit: Goodwill and Mr. Cleaver’s closet

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Just one of those classic childhood moments. And since our two big maples have only just started dropping leaves, one that we’ll get to repeat several times more this year!

Hat: Vintage Pixie Cap by Hadley Fierlinger, project on Ravelry

Teeny-Tiny Rake: purchased at For Small Hands, a great resource if you have a little helper like mine!

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We Cleavers are creatures of habit, and this is never more true that when fall begins. As soon as the leaves begin to change color, you can bet there’s a good chance we’ll be hitting the fairgrounds, picking apples, baking pies, and hiking Bradbury Mountain.

Since Mr. Cleaver and I had our first date there back in 2005, we’ve made a point of returning each fall we’ve lived in Maine, and so this year, LMC got to take her second trip, having been carried up last year. And truth be told, I carried her about 90% of the way this time too, without the benefit of a carrier this go around. But this year my budding geoloist was enamored with all the rock and ledge, but perhaps even more enamored with all the dogs on the trail!

And LMC was quite the trooper, as she got carsick on the way up (fortunately primarily on a waterproof jacket). We were spectacularly ill prepared, having no extra clothes and having forgot her sippy cup (and Steinbeck’s doggy bags). But despite that early mishap, we had beautiful weather and a lovely hike. And LMC did look awfully cute in her new winter cap.

Poppies Raglan Dress

Poppies Raglan Dress

Poppies Raglan Dress

Poppies Raglan Dress

Poppies Raglan Dress

Poppies Raglan Dress

Poppies Raglan Dress

Poppies Raglan Dress

I purchased ithinksew’s Ella Raglan Blouse a while back, with plans to sew up a ton of cute tops, but I only finally got around to actually making one now. It’s a good thing I did too, because the size on this print of the pattern only goes from 6-24 months (a bit small of a range, if you ask me. Also the long-sleeved version is a totally different pattern, which I also find silly).

I lengthened the pattern by two inches to make it into a dress/tunic and cut out the 24 month size, in hopes of expanding it’s wearable time period. As it is now, it’s definitely a little big, especially around the neck, so I added a ribbon from my stash (actually left over from my wedding nearly 7 years ago) as a sash to help keep everything in place.

The fabric is a quilting cotton that I picked up at Marden’s back in 2010. (I’ve now officially used 1/2 of the prints I bought that day!) I love the print, it’s very Liberty-esque, but it is definitely on the stiffer side. It works well as a dress here, but for a blouse I’d use something lighter-weight. In fact, I think it would be especially dreamy in a Liberty lawn or a voile.

As you’d expect from a raglan top, this one is super simple to sew up and I’d say it’s a great beginner project. The only complicated bit is attaching the bias tape as the neckline casing, which if you use store bought bias tape (which I did here), it’s fairly simple. I definitely sew this one up again, particularly if I can get my hands on some good fabric for it.

Also, one outtake, because it makes me giggle, as I can’t look at it without thinking of that infamous Bigfoot photo.

Bigfoot Baby

Picking Raspberries

Down the Path

Picking Raspberries

Picking Raspberries

Picking Raspberries

Snell Family Farm

Picking Raspberries

Checking for More

Tasting the Bounty

Picking Raspberries

Raspberry Pie

Raspberry Pie

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Raspberry Pie and Ice Cream

Eating Pie

What can I say? I love pick your own (PYO) farm adventures!

Last week at the farmer’s market we discovered that Snell Family Farm did PYO raspberries (they do apples too). So on a sunny Saturday morning Mr. Cleaver, LMC and I loaded up the wagon (no pets allowed, unfortunately) and took the short drive out to Buxton/Bar Mills.

We had a fabulous picking experience. The raspberry fields are orderly and the picking rows are wide, so you don’t have to worry about backing into thorns/stepping on fruit. There were plenty of ripe berries on the bushes, mostly down low, which meant that LMC could pick berries on her own (though she doesn’t quite get the concept of ripe/not ripe yet).

I highly recommend bringing a picking assistant- twice the picking, half the fruit! I’m pretty sure LMC ate at least 1/2 pint of raspberries while we were picking, but as the kind cashier said, “I didn’t weight her when she came in, I’m not weighing her on the way out.” (We gave them some extra cash anyhow).  We were also able to pick up some carrots and green beans from the farm stand and they have huge greenhouses full of flowers. So if you’re in the mood for picking fruit, I’d highly recommend our Snell experience.

Also, can I say that Mr. Cleaver did an awesome job as field-trip photographer? With the exception of the pie close-ups, he took all of these. And he says he doesn’t know how to use my camera- ha!

We ended up with two full quarts of berries, half of which we’re in the process of eating fresh and the other half made their way into a raspberry pie. While LMC has assisted in the baking portion before, this was her first slice of pie, of which she left no crumb uneaten, so I think I’m safe to say she liked it.

LMC-Approved Raspberry Pie

Preheat oven to 375 °F

Crust

  • 2 cups flour, plus more for rolling surface/rolling pin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup very cold water
  • Small amount of milk
  • Small amount of sugar

Mix together flour and salt then “cut in” shortening with a pastry cutter or knives.

Add up to 1/4 cup of very cold water a few Tablespoons at a time, until dough holds together.  Form into two equal-sized balls of dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator (at least while you make the filling, preferably at least an hour). Flour working surface and roll out crusts, using half the dough for each. Makes one top and one bottom crust for a 9″ pie tin.

Filling

  • 4 cups fresh (or thawed frozen) raspberries
  • 3 Tbl cornstarch
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup of sugar (to taste, based on the sweetness of your fruit)

Mix filling ingredients together, trying not to smush the berries too much.

Place lower crust into a 9-inch pie pan and pour in filling. Use a small amount of milk or water around the edge of the lower crust to help seal.  Cut vents in top crust and place over filling, cut off overhanging crust (save them for cinnaminninies!) and crimp the edges to the lower crust to seal.  Brush top crust with milk and sprinkle with a light dusting of cane sugar.

Place in center of oven and bake for approximately 55 minutes, or until filling bubbles and crust is golden brown. If needed, cover the edges of the crust with tinfoil during the final stages of baking to prevent scorching.

Cool on the windowsill of your choice (nothing burns like hot fruit!) and enjoy with ice cream.