Untitled

Untitled

UntitledUntitled

UntitledUntitledUntitled

UntitledUntitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

UntitledUntitledUntitled

UntitledUntitled

Untitled

UntitledUntitled

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.

Advertisements

Untitled

image

Untitled

 

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!

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

We went Smiling Hill this weekend, picked some pumpkins, petted a goat or two and took a ton of photos.  Beautiful fall day and adorable kid? It’s hard not to.

Since we last came in the spring, the petting zoo goats have gotten a lot chubbier and LMC’s gotten more independent. She wanted to be wherever the bigger kids (3-5 year-olds) were: climbing on the trains and planes, driving the John Deere-a-saurus, riding the mini tractors, going down from the top of the tall slides. She also wanted no help in carrying her pumpkins of choice. Is it any surprise that we’ve switched to the booster seat from the high chair at home? This girl is ready for her seat at the table.

With the pumpkins brought home and her costume finished last night (she’s gonna be so cute!!), we’re all ready for Halloween here. The only thing left to do is pick out the kind of takeout we want for Friday night (a Cleaver Halloween tradition).

Do you have a favorite pumpkin patch or Halloween tradition? When I was a kid in California it was Stanly Lane for pumpkins every year and my mom would sew whatever incredibly complex costume I desired that year (as chosen from the back of the Simplicity or McCall’s pattern book at JoAnn’s) including full renaissance dress. I figure this is probably my last year before LMC has an opinion about what she wants to be for Halloween (maybe one more?) so I’m trying to make it a good one.

Me-Mades: Minoru Jacket, Lamina Sweater

The ruffly shirt in 2014

As a craft-blogger, who reads a lot of craft bloggers,  it seems as if we’ll often make something, take some photos, put together a blog post, and it’s on to the next project with the previous one never to be seen or mentioned again in blogland. We share how the project turned out fresh off the needles or sewing machine, but we rarely take a look back at how it fits into ours lives. (Me-made months being the major exception).

Part of the reason I started blogging is because I wanted to share my creations with a like-minded community of makers. The excitement of showing off what I just made.  Heck – finished object  is my 2nd most frequently used tag and accounts for 25% of my posts here.

But this year I’ve been thinking a lot about sustainability of fashion in general and of my own closet in particular. Emma’s post on wardrobe metabolism and the life cycle of clothes was one that really hit the nail on the head for me. One item in particular that should out from that piece was bullet #3 – “Keep tabs out what works & what doesn’t.”

This isn’t about reviewing the pattern, but the project. If you see someone (or multiple someones) making a the same pattern multiple times, you can get the hint that it’s a keeper. But individual projects can vary so much, even out of the same pattern. I’m certainly guilty of getting caught up in shininess of a newly-completed project only to find out weeks, or months down the road that it just doesn’t work – the fit was off, the fabric was a poor match, it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle anymore (or never did).  Or perhaps I didn’t care for it at first when I was being over-judgmental on my construction technique at the time, but I now wear it at least once a week.

So in an attempt to show how my projects have stood the test of time and/or to learn from the mistakes of my yesterdays, I’m going to better document the role of handmade items in my life in two-ways:

  1. I’ll tag the post anytime something I made appears in a post, even if it isn’t new. For my clothes, it’s me-made; for LMC’s stuff, mama-made; and for items I made for Mr. Cleaver, miz-made.
  2. The Tried and True Review, where I’ll look back at old project and discuss how it’s held up since I made it, both successes and closet rejects.

First up?

Ruffly Shirt

The Sew U  Ruffly Shirt

Made: August 2008, the last thing I made in Chicago, before I moved to Maine. Almost six years ago!

Update: I still wear this –  actually, I’m wearing it today. I wear it 2-3 times in a month in the summer then retire it for the cooler weather.

Fit: It was a relaxed fit to begin with, so this one had held up when weight changes pushed other shirts aside.

Style: It’s cute, without being overly cutesy.  It’s a little bit retro with the polka dots and it looks nice enough for work.  I need some more similar things in my closet.

Materials: For $2 fabric from a garage sale, this has held up surprisingly well. It’s super-duper lightweight cotton, so I have to wear a camisole underneath, but it’s great for summer. I do have to iron it after washing though.

Construction: In truth, this is not the greatest sewing job, but it hasn’t effected it’s wearability. The collar stand and bias binding on the sleeves were both new techniques to me at the time and are rather sloppy in places. I could still use work on collar stands. There are also multiple lines of stitching along the ruffle on one side where I had some trouble in attaching it. But it’s all white on white, so unless you’re unreasonably close, you wouldn’t notice.

Lesson(s) Learned: Mistakes are most obvious to the maker and don’t mean that it isn’t still usable

Final Verdict: It’s a keeper, and I’d make the whole thing over again, but better this time.

Gyros

Faux Dome - Christ Pantocrator

Dolmades

Trying Spanakopita

Trying Spanakopita

Saints Icons

Baptism of Christ Icon
Loukoumades

Dancing & Loukoumades

Dancing & Loukoumades

Entry into Jersusalem Icon

One of the tastiest days on the Cleaver family calendar is the day we visit the Greek Food Festival. Hosted annually by the Holy Trinity Church in Portland on the last full week of June, we start anticipating our visit as soon as the weather gets warm.

It’s not that you can’t get good Greek food in the area other times of the year, it’s  just that there’s something about the food that you get at the Festival that makes it extra delicious. We eat light in the morning so we have plenty of room to stuff ourselves with dolmades (lamb and rice-stuffed grape leaves), spanakopita, gyros, and loukoumades. And oh the loukoumades – the Greek equivalent of a light crispy doughnut hole, made fresh and served in a honey-nut syrup.

Despite being rather full, I gave Mr. Cleaver some serious stink-eye when he suggested only getting one serving of loukoumades this year.  It only comes once a year! Even LMC, who for the most part was too busy taking it all in to pay much attention to the food, loved the loukoumades. She ate her little snack and danced her little toddler dance to the Greek music playing on the loudspeakers. Happily swaying back and forth with the taste of honey on her lips. We usually go in the mid-afternoon on a weekday to avoid the crowds and lines, but it would be fun to go see the live music and dancing one of these years.

We did however take the opportunity to get a  private tour of the church from Father Sarantides himself. If you ever get a chance to see the inside, I’d highly recommend it. Holy Trinity features a number of stunning small and large scale icons throughout the sanctuary.  All we had to do was ask one of the volunteers and they set it up. They’re truly beautiful.

Bubble Blaster
Bubble Blaster
Rhododendron
Snuggle Time
Irises
Untitled
Steiny
Juliet
Untitled
Sand Play
Old Port Festival Parade

Old Port Festival Parade
Old Port Festival Parade

With the arrival of good weather and the Annual Old Port Festival in Portland, it’s really starting to feel like summer here. And with summer comes copious amounts of sunscreen, bug-spray and activity for the Cleaver clan.

LMC got to take in her first parade, which featured beautiful large-scale puppets from Shoestring Theatre and sampled a bit of fair food. We also visited her first farmer’s market and picked out plants to go into the new raised beds, which despite her efforts to pluck them back out have been firmly planted into their new homes.

The boxes are approximately 4 ft x 8 ft x 6 inches. We got a yard and half of loam delivered from O’Donals in Gorham, which we combined with some of our Garbage to Garden compost from last year.  We probably could have gotten away with a yard of dirt, but the leftovers will go into additional boxes we hope to have in place for planting next year.  Because, obviously two boxes aren’t gonna cut it. 🙂

As for this year’s plantings, I kept the plant list fairly similar to my first garden attempt, with the addition of lettuce:

  • Plum tomatoes for salsa and sauce (3)
  • Sweet bell peppers (2)
  • Broccoli (6)
  • Lettuce (6)
  • Basil (4)
  • Thyme (1)
  • Rosemary(1)

I think I’ll probably pick up a few more herbs (I’m thinking cilantro and maybe parsley and mint) and I also planted 4 strawberry plants around the deck in addition to our existing blueberry bush.

Growing up I lived in a house on a corner lot with a huge backyard that my parents filled with all sorts of edible plants. We had cherries, granny smith apples, boysenberries, strawberries and cherry tomatoes most of time. As a kid, my friends and I would spend our summer afternoons out there, reenacting dance routines from Newsies over the sprinkler and eating our fill of the backyard bounty. It was bliss.

Now as a grownup, I live in a house on a corner lot with a huge backyard, that I’m slowly filling with edibles, so my daughter too can eat sun-warmed fruits and veggies to her heart’s content.

Minoru Jacket

Minoru Sleeve Mod

Minoru Jacket

Minoru Cargo Pocket Mod

Minoru Jacket

Minoru Jacket

I finally made something for myself and it’s a doozy! I loved the Minoru Jacket pattern from the moment it came out (back in late 2011), so much so that I bought the pattern, the fabric, the lining, and special ordered the zippers shortly after it came out.

Three years of sitting in my stash and five weekends of sewing later, I have a bright and beautiful new jacket that does some much-needed filling of a long-outstanding hole in my wardrobe. Of course I finished it just in time for summer, but being as I live in Maine with it’s often cool nights and mornings, I’m sure it’ll still get plenty of wear before getting a real workout in the Fall and Spring.

The jacket is a spring green twill of forgotten origins, lined with some silky polka dots purchased at JoAnn’s, and riri metal zippers. I made the pattern in a straight size 14, which is a little bit roomy, but it means I can wear it over sweaters come Fall. It’s comfy and the right amount of warm for the in-between seasons.  I found the instructions clear and concise (though missing a few metric to imperial measurement conversions in the text and there’s something funky about the placket length/hem length). I pretty much made it exactly as described, with the exception of the following modifications:

  • Flat felled all the seams noted as top-stitched in the pattern – seam finishing and top-stitching in one!
  • Lined the hood
  • Moved the waist elastic up 1″/2.5 cm from pattern marking
  • Removed the cuffs
  • Made the hood zipper opening shorter
  • Added cargo pockets
  • Accidentally placed the interior pockets about 5/8 inch too low

One of the great things about sewing a pattern three years after it came out is that by then, a ton of other people have made it and you can steal their ideas and learn from their problems. About half these mods were inspired by other blogger. Case in point, I can no longer remember the blogger who mentioned it, but the hood zipper opening was indeed too long for my zipper, which I was able to check, before cutting it out. I do wish  I had headed the warnings to reduce the hood, as it is overly large. Some more direct copy-cats include borrowing Lladybird‘s idea to lose the cuffs (which were way long, even on me) and after I flat-felled my side seams before I inserted the side seam pockets I had planned on, I stole cutcutsew‘s cargo pockets idea.

The cargo pockets were a happy accident, as I love the way they turned out and they really make the jacket. I constructed my pockets largely based on this tutorial by 21 Wale. Should anyone want to copy me in my copy-catting, I’ve made up a PDF Cargo Pocket Pattern and Instruction Sheet  (tiled for US Letter-sized printing).

As with any coat/jacket, this was a time-consuming project. All said, it probably took me somewhere in the realm of 16 or so  hours to complete, but I love the outcome and consider it time well-spent as I can see myself wearing this coat all the time.

Speaking of wearing me-made things, I’ve completely missed Me-Made May, but I realized after I took the photos that everything in my outfit in these shots (not including underthings) was handmade either by me (cardigan, skirt, tank) or someone else (necklace, shoes). The fact that I didn’t realize it until I took the photos is a nice nod to how the right handmade items can really become an intrinsic part of our wardrobes.

Continuing on the theme of handmade wardrobes, there’s a neat little story behind the striped sweater LMC’s wearing. When we first moved back to Maine, my mother-in-law gave me a bag with some random knitting stuff in it: a few sets of straight needles, some old yarn, and all the pieces to a blue and white striped baby sweater.  When I was pregnant, one of the first things I did was seam the otherwise complete sweater together, so now LMC has a Memere-made sweater, even though her Memere hasn’t knit in years. The original yarn and ball bands (Reynolds Giselle) came with the sweater, but I’ve been unable to definitively date them and my MIL has no recollection of making the thing, so my best guess is that it was originally made for either one of her three sons, or my nephew – meaning it could be anywhere from 20 to 50 years old (quite the range, I know).  The best my google-fu can find is that the yarn was at a minimum available from 1981-1984. Doesn’t look too shabby for some never-worn 30 year old yarn, does it?