Monday, January 31, 2011

Chloe's Quilt

The house we're living in was built in 1916, and has witnessed a lot of change in our neighborhood. At one time it was the home of the first African American mayor of Ann Arbor. Other eras of its past are not so glamorous. For all its grand (and not so grand) history, this house has lots of character. But not, alas, good insulation. So Michigan winters in our abode are a little less than toasty. Thus we must all find ways to keep ourselves warm without driving up the heating bill.

When she was around 11 months old, Ava developed a sudden and strong attachment to her doll Chloe. Seeing her hug her doll for the first time was an awe-inspiring, heart melting moment. So while we were having late night discussions about whether Ava was warm enough at night it occurred to me that Chloe should have her own quilt to keep her warm. And just think how this would enhance our bedtime ritual - "See, Chloe is getting tucked into to bed now too. Time for sleep." Then there was the fact that I'd never done any quilting before - what better, more manageable way to start than to make a doll quilt?

So, may I introduce Chloe's quilt...

I followed a pattern from a doll quilt sew-along at Sew, Mama, Sew! and used Carolyn Gavin's Wild Thyme collection for the fabric. 

Those who know me well know that when I really get it in my head to do something, it must be accomplished right away! So when it came time to quilt my quilt sandwich - Never mind that I had never free-motion quilted before! No matter that I didn't have a walking foot! It was time to quilt - Now! Look closely and you'll no doubt see the imperfections, but Chloe doesn't seem to mind the evidence of my inexperience. 

Now we just need a bed to tuck Chloe into under her quilt. Dada, how's that doll bed coming?

Friday, January 28, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A SouleMama Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winter Walk

Coming home to Ann Arbor from sunny Colorado left us (me) feeling less hardy to the blanket of grey that is Michigan winter. We try to curl up inside with loved ones close by, a cup of tea, a bowl of soup, a warm wooly knitting project - anything to keep us warm and bright for these few months. It's right about now that I start dreaming about family vacations to Tulum (at which point I am quickly reminded by my *ahem* fiscally responsible husband that we will not be embarking on a vacation any time soon).

But every once in a while you wake up to a day like today - sun blazing orange on the horizon - and you know it's time to get your seasonal dose of vitamin D. Never mind that it's 14 degrees...

Swans curled up like marshmallows on the frozen Huron

Tracks on the river

Ava's face lit up when we passed the ducks bathing in the freezing river at the foot of the dam. Wasting no opportunity to practice one of her first words, she repeated "duh! duh!" while we watched them splash each other with their wings.

There's nothing like a sunny day and a good walk to warm your spirit and lift the winter doldrums. I wish you all a bright tomorrow.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Scouting Fort Collins

We've been in Fort Collins the past few days - our first solo family adventure (ie not visiting Granparents). While Will was on an intensive interview, Ava and I have been on a mission to explore as much of Fort Collins as possible in between naps. I toted my camera around diligently with the intention to document everything we saw. Hmm. The camera came out for the first time today. Ah well.

I can say with certainty that Fort Collinders love living in Fort Collins. And many of the things they say about Fort Collins are things we say about Ann Arbor. With two very important exceptions. First, obviously, there's the mountains (we just don't have those in Michigan). Yes, you can go for a ski at Boyne 'Mountain', but the idea is laughable when you have the Rockies in your backyard. Second, there's the sun factor. When we emerged from the airport in Denver we were nearly blinded by the sunshine. You see, coming from winter in Michigan, we haven't actually seen the sun in several months. When we started to complain about how bright it was (and, strangely, how warm 14 degree weather in Colorado feels - they say because of lack of moisture in the air), we realized how curmudgeonly midwest we've become. No wonder everyone is so overly happy and nice here.

And I just watched a dog board the elevator in the Hilton. Yes, this place is friendly to dogs and humans alike.

So, Will finished his interview and we ventured downtown together this afternoon. At the heart of Fort Collins is a thriving downtown with many cool independent shops that seem small from the outside, then just keep going and going and going once you get in. As we were about to cross the street I was surprised by a train rolling along with the cars down the middle of the road. Yes, there's a train that travels along a road in the downtown and cars ride right alongside it. 

We had lunch at La Creperie, where the croissants and crepes are both authentic and absolutely divine. Ava enjoyed her first croissant and the attentions of the owner, who was the loveliest woman. She said she 'had a good feeling' about Will getting the job and hoped that we decide to come back - that luscious croissant, smoked salmon, brie and greens sandwich just might have been enough to convince me. We left with chococroissants in hand and intentions to return tomorrow for one more buttery croissant fix before we head out of town.

At La Creperie of Fort Collins
Fort Collins is very bike and pedestrian friendly, with bike lanes on many streets and a pedestrian mall lined with stores and restaurants, and populated by a bike library, mini-urban-ice skating rink, a cool fountain (that is currently looking like a bizarre ice sculpture) and functional statues meant to be climbed on, and curled under. Ava particularly enjoyed her first ride on a giant salmon.

Ava aboard an urban salmon

The highlights of my day of exploration, though, were my visits first to one of the three Fort Collins knitting stores, Your Daily Fiber, and one of the sewing stores, Mama Said Sew. Both were so much cooler than anything we have in Ann Arbor. The owners of the knitting store live near the border of Wyoming and own a herd of llama that they shear to make their own yarn. They hand dye it and sell it in the store. You can even custom order your own hand-dyed wool! Mama got a little present for herself on that visit.

Orange and Bulky

The sewing store is everything I've dreamed of having in Ann Arbor and more. They even have a playspace set up for kids so that they can occupy themselves while Mamas view the very cool selection of fabrics. Can you imagine not having to choose fabrics and judge color combos online? This pretty much convinced me that we can live in Fort Collins.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Growing Angel

In the course of the last year or so since Ava was born, Grammy has turned into the most prolific knitter I know. Not only does the quantity of her creations amaze, but the skill and beauty of Grammy's sweaters are awe-inspiring as well.

One of her first sweaters was what we now refer to lovingly as 'the angel sweater' because so many people have commented how much Ava looks like an angel when wearing it (true she is angelic without the sweater, but it only augments the quality).

The pattern is simple, but with such a unique criss-cross closure. The yarn she used is soft beyond belief, with an aura of fluff that makes it look like Ava is wearing a cloud.

As happens all too quickly, Ava is growing out of the angel sweater, and I found myself wanting to make something she could grow into that would create a similar effect. I decided to work with Melissa LaBarre's Tiny Tea Leaves Cardi pattern and Classic Elite Yarns' Giselle.

A strange combo perhaps. I've never worked with a yarn like this and I'm half excited, half anxious to see how it turns out. I also opted for the chartreuse (actually called olive amber) colorway instead of my original intention to use off-white again (those who know me know I have a hard time resisting green of almost any shade). So she will be a chartreuse angel - those exist, right?

Friday, January 7, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A SouleMama Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.


After having been introduced to the world of mama blogs by a dear friend several months ago I have been so inspired by the stories, ideas, and stunningly beautiful photos shared by so many amazing mamas online. A blog can be so many things... and what this one will be, well, time will tell: a place to share joys, dreams, ideas, creative pursuits; a place to record the simple, everyday moments that make our lives magical; a place to document the amazing growth of our little girl and our little family. A blog can take on a life of its own and, like a child, hold you accountable to your commitment to just show up every day and note the wonder. Like a child, this blog will grow - and me along with it. So here's to the beginning of something...