this week's library book

I never walk into a library empty handed. Trust me, it usually ends badly. There's just too many books.. it's overwhelming. You've got to walk in with a list of books you want to find or at least a few authors you want to check out. (More on the lists I bring with me later this week). Last week Bee randomly pulled this book off the shelf, and it was charming and sweet and we are sad to return it.

Little Rabbit Lost, with illustrations by Harry Horse, tells the story of one little rabbit's birthday. Though he's just a little rabbit, now that he's one year older, he thinks "I'm not such a little rabbit any more!". (Parents of 3 and 4 year olds understand this perfectly.)

Side note: I love this idea of having a few presents at the foot of the bed when the birthday child wakes up. And a big red balloon would be pretty great too.

Mama Rabbit surprises the family with tickets to Rabbitland! (My children have studied this page over and over again deciding what rides they would like to go on first.. the carrot speedboats? the big ferris wheel? the rockets?) Mom tells Little Rabbit to stay close, but Little Rabbit wanders off and soon gets lost.

When Little Rabbit realizes he is lost, he suddenly feels "as small as he really was". Thanks to the big red balloon he's been carrying all day, his mother soon finds him.

A sweet book, with an appropriate message for my kids who always want to be older than they are. Oh little ones, you will grow up soon enough.. for now, just stay close to mom!


when daddy's away

JR has been off on a hiking trip the past three days and the kids (and I) are eagerly awaiting his return this evening. My husband isn't gone very often (he takes maybe 2-3 business trips each year), but we've started sending photos back and forth from our phones when he is away. We make a sign (Bee and C let me know what they want to say) and I take a photo of the kids holding it from my phone.. when JR gets it, he takes a picture holding his sign and sends it back to us. The kids think this is amazing, Bee especially is fascinated with how daddy got inside the phone. But I always like seeing the photos JR sends back.. sitting in the middle of a serious corporate event with a big smile on his face, holding a hand drawn sign for his little ones.


the lucky winner

Wow! Thank you all for taking the time to tell us about your lovely weekend plans... There were definitely some repeated themes: sleeping in, spending time with loved ones, good food, a little exploring, and some creative me time. I second all of those!

We had a close-to-perfect Saturday here. Pancakes at home, then off to the Wild Animal Park to see the new baby elephant (born just one day before), meeting up with old friends for dinner, and driving home late with the kids asleep in the back.

Such a sweet sight.. the baby was still figuring out how to balance and would stand up and then topple over. His mama, being the good mom she is, would reach her trunk out and pick him up and help him get his footing, over and over again.

The only thing that could have made this any cuter was if the baby elephant hooked his little trunk to his mother's tail and they broke into song as they marched off.

The giveaway: We used some UNO cards to help us pick a random number since there was no fair way to choose the "best" weekend. Three rows of cards, one for each of the three possible digits. We shuffled each row and my helpers and I each picked a number.

And the winner is:

Congrats to Amy who loves spending weekends having breakfast with her family, play time outside, leisurely naps with her 11 month old, and a movie at home. Happy sewing Amy!!


a shoot in vermont

I'm amazed at the responses to my little giveaway.. I wish I had 50 books to share! I don't know how we'll pick between them all. Comments will close Tuesday night at 8 PM PST, so you can still enter if you haven't had the chance yet.

I promised some pictures, so here is a sneak peek at our first Weekend Sewing photo shoot (1 of 4) located at the charming Blueberry Hill Inn in beautiful Goshen, Vermont.

That nice guy in the green shirt is John Gruen, photographer extraordinaire, balancing a white board on his very expensive camera. Heather Ross is in the doorway, getting ready to model an apron. Various other people making sure her apron is on straight and that Heather doesn't have any spinach in her teeth. Children (mine and others who will be modeling later) left to entertain themselves on the lawn.

Because little ones have a hard time entertaining themselves for long, we soon learned they could be entertained with all different kinds of camera equipment by their new best friend Alex, John's photo assistant. (thank you again, Alex!)

A typical set up.. the photographer is hard at work setting up the shot (napkins on a wooden table). The photo assistant is making sure the lighting is right (the big scrim shades the table from direct sunlight). Heather is ready to step in and swap out a tablecloth or move things around as necessary. The art director/designer is there to approve polaroids and to make sure the shot is going to work with the layout. (Bigger shoots need bigger crews, but a typical book shoot can get by with about 4-5 good people, especially if they already know each other and work well together).

My first trip to Vermont, and I can see why people love it so. The grounds surrounding Blueberry Hill are amazing.. one morning I woke up early with my kids and we walked the grounds around the inn for an hour or so. It was a gorgeous morning with the sun just rising and fields upon fields of grass and dandelions. Blue sky, happy kids blowing dandelions.. I can't think of a better way to start a day.

Update: Looks like Heather is planning a Weekend Sewing workshop, where you can see Blueberry Hill for yourself and sew with Heather all weekend.. more details here.


weekend sewing giveaway

Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross is finally here in my hands. I've been waiting patiently to see it. I actually laughed out loud when this cover was chosen because that is ME balancing up in that tree. I never intended to be the cover model, it's just easiest to use whomever is around when you are off in Vermont on a photo shoot, it's a good thing I shaved my legs that morning!

The back of the cover shows some of the projects in the book, a great mix of clothes, bags, aprons, cute ideas for kids, and even a pup tent to relax in when you're all done with sewing. All the projects in the book are easy enough to finish in a weekend.

When you take the jacket off the book you can see one of Heather's patterns from her Kokka line "Rabbits and Race Cars". We thought it was a nice little surprise. 

Heather actually illustrated all of the how-to's in the book, I love her drawing style. To see more of the photos in this book, visit the photo gallery.

Each book also includes two huge pull out pattern sheets for the projects in the book. (And believe me, it was tricky to fit all those projects on there!)

You may not realize that book publishing is a long, slow process. The photo shoots for this book were shot way back in the summer of 2007, and Heather was working on the actual patterns and projects a long time prior to the actual shooting. The photos are then edited, and the manuscript finished and edited. I designed the book last year, between February and July, sending it back and forth with Melanie Falick and her team. So almost a year later it's been printed, bound, shipped, and finally is here in my hands.

And I'm happy to pass it along to you. Leave a comment letting us know your favorite way to spend a weekend, and my little helpers and I will pick a winner Tuesday evening, March 17th. (Comments will close at 8 PM Tuesday PST.. Wow! That's a LOT of comments!)


where I'd like to be..

Hanging out with a magenta octopus and a few gnomes at Heather's book party, starting in just a few hours. Oh, I wish I still lived in Brooklyn and could just hop on the train and see so many of my favorite people.

I will have to toast Heather and John and Melanie from way out here in California. If you haven't checked out Heather's book Weekend Sewing,  I suggest you do so.. It's a lovely book, and I'm so happy to have been a part of this team.

I'll be posting some photos later this week from our Weekend Sewing photoshoots, and I'll be doing my first blog giveaway, a copy of Heather's book..  so stay tuned.


a forced break

My computer died this weekend. A little popping noise and it was done... looks like the power supply did it in. While it is in the hands of the Geniuses over at the Apple store, I'll be taking a little blogging break. (It should only be a few days... let's hope those guys are as smart as they say they are.) 

This week I'll be taking Mr. Rand's advice (shown above). Perhaps I'll do the binding on C's quilt, or finish embroidering Bee's birthday crown, or the many other projects I've started and set aside for lack of time. A forced break sounds like it could be quite nice.

I promise I'll be back very soon, hopefully with a thing or two to show and tell.

Image from the book "Conversations with Students" by Paul Rand, found via Eric Baker's amazing grouping of inspiration over at Design Observer. (Mr. Baker posts a new bunch of gems each Monday.)


this week's library book

I'm a big fan of Leo Lionni, and I remember so many of his books from when I was a kid. But I didn't know that Mr. Lionni was an ad man.. and a graphic designer (running his own studio for 20 years).. and the art director for Fortune magazine.. and an accordion player.. and the editor of Print.. and could speak five languages.

Of course he was a graphic designer.. his books always seem to be more about the pictures than the words. I think that's why children love them so much. Even my little ones who can't quite read can figure out the story, and after hearing it once or twice, can sit and "read" his books. (Especially this one, which is short and pretty simple.)

His first children's book was created as a distraction for his grandchildren during a boring train trip.. I can see him with his notepad drawing on the train, making the story up as it goes along while his grandchildren laugh and watch. It was the story of a little blue dot and a little yellow dot.. Little Blue and Little Yellow.

Little blue and little yellow are best friends. Little yellow lives with mama and papa yellow, and little blue lives across the street with his parents, mama blue and papa blue.

Little blue and little yellow go to school together, where they sit in neat rows. After school they run and jump with their friends.

One day while they are out playing, they hug each other and become.. green!

When they go back home, their parents don't recognize them. "You are not little yellow, you are not little blue.. you are green!" Which makes them so sad they cry and cry until they are a puddle of blue and yellow tears. Then they pull themselves together and run home to their families. 

A clever little book told in simple shapes and words.. it even has lovely endpapers. (A good graphic designer never forgets the details!)

You can read more about Mr. Lionni here, an essay written by his granddaughter.


color story #7

There's nothing I like more than finishing a longtime work in progress. This color story comes from a quilt I have been working on for my son C who is 4 1/2 years old and the sweetest boy you've ever met. (I know I'm biased because I am his mother, but man, he is a sweet one.)

A few years ago my husband cleaned out his closet and ended up with a stack of old dress shirts. Nice shirts that had gotten old and worn out, and he was ready to toss them in the trash. Instead I threw the pile into my fabric stash, and a little later decided a very simple quilt would be the perfect way to use them.

I don't think I will ever throw out another one of JR's shirts. Men's shirting fabric has such a lovely feel and I love the small grids and tiny ginghams and all the shades of blue. I love the idea of a quilt made out of a father's shirts for his son. And I've tried to perserve little bits of the shirts in the quilt, a few pieces of pockets and plackets here and there. It's a very simple little quilt, and I'm a little embarrassed it has taken me so long... why do I always stall when it comes to the binding?

My sweet boy has been waiting so patiently.


sweet dreams

This is the quilt we sleep with every night. It was made for my husband's father, by his grandmother, and it's over 60 years old. Marked in pen in one of the corners it says 1948.. so my father-in-law received it when he was 10 or 11. John remembers his parents having it on their bed when he was a little boy.

I love so many things about it. The randomness of the pattern, using whatever fabric was around the house. Certain corners are pieced together using every scrap available. There is no binding, she just turned the edge and sewed it by hand, and I love each imperfect little stitch. The batting itself is actually an old blanket, held in place by yarn ties at the edges of each piece (probably why we like sleeping under it so much).

I'm a fan of white in quilts, and lots of it. This quilt has a mainly white ground, but then random squares of blue, and pink, even black. It reminds me of some of the Gee's Bend quilts, which seem to use whatever fabric was handy (shirts, jeans, sheets, etc). I wish I could incorporate some of that random beauty into my own quilts.

My husband used to keep this quilt in a chest for safekeeping, it's understandable that he wanted to take good care of it. But when we moved into this house, we rescued it from its hiding place and placed it on our bed. It's now the place where I read bedtime stories to the kids, where we snuggle in the mornings when our kids come jump in bed. I like to think that great grandmother would have wanted it that way.