advent: part one

I know I'm one day late to the party, but I finally finished my little advent calendar last night, just in the nick of time. Nothing like a deadline to get me moving.

When I was little, we had a similar advent calendar. Made of felt, with snaps.. I think. I've combed through the attic at my parent's house on several occasions looking for it, but no luck. So I had to improvise and make my own. 

I love felt, especially the good stuff. I hope this calendar will be used for quite some time, pulled out year after year, so I didn't mind taking the time to stitch it by hand. (It also gave me a good excuse to watch a little TV and still feel productive.) Bee and C have been watching me make it, and are thrilled it is finally December at last! 

The pockets were stitched using the number template I made for the Purl Bee (and Page's advent calendar is so bright and lovely). The buttons on the tree are a mixed bunch, all from a big bag of antique buttons I splurged on at Quilt Market. Here are the ornaments for week 1, more to come!


the clothespin people

My friend Heather Ross has posted a very funny look at her creative process designing her latest fabric line for Westminster. We like to shoot each other emails when we're working on something.. it's always nice to have fresh eyes look at your work and offer opinions. The print she is currently working on involves clothespins and clothespin people. When I told her the clothespins looked like little naked mannequins, she sent me the illustration below. You can read her very funny post here.



nyc #6

One last book for kids about New York City, and only because this one is perfect for Thanksgiving. Milly and the Macy's Parade by Shana Corey and illustrated by Brett Helquist (of Lemony Snicket fame).

"It was 1924, Milly's first year in America, and all over New York City people were hustling and bustling about getting ready for the holidays." Milly's dad works at Macy's and Milly loves to visit every day after school.

Her dad and his fellow workers miss the holiday traditions of their old countries... "Big brass instruments and caroling from house to house". Milly hates to see them so sad.

She comes up with a wonderful idea, a parade, with singing and strolling in the streets. "And that's how Milly and Mr. Macy started a new holiday tradition. It looked a little like the old country, and a little like America, and a little like something entirely new."

We'll be watching it in the morning... Happy Thanksgiving!


color story #4

Christmas was a big deal when I was working at MSLO. December was the most popular issue of the year, and we would fret over each and every last detail. A new color palette was chosen each time, and the traditional Christmas colors were given a bit of a tweak. Not your standard berry red and holly green... some years pink would sneak in, some years blue, some times a bit of silver.

I have high hopes of making a few things for my little family this year, so I've been playing around with my own color story. Bright spring greens, orange reds, and even a bit of pink. I will be so pleased if I can finish the stockings, as it's the first year we've actually had a mantle to hang them on.

I purchased all the fabrics you see here from the lovely selection at purlsoho.com


nyc #5

I'm a graphic designer, so I love letterforms.. especially the beautiful ones you see around the city on old store awnings, hand painted on brick walls, carefully pieced in subway tile, or 4 feet high in neon.

ABC NYC by Joanne Dugan is a new take on the classic alphabet book, as a mother walks the city with her children. Here are a few of my favorite spreads:

A is for Atlas. (from Rockefeller Center at East 50th Street)

L is for Lighthouse. (it lives under the George Washington Bridge)

Y is for Yarmulke. (This one might be my favorite!)


nyc #4

There are several NYC versions of the alphabet, I'm including two in my favorite New York City books for kids this week. The first is New York, New York! The Big Apple from A to Z by Laura Krauss Melmed and Frane Lessac.

I love the folk art inspired illustrations, and the A through Z format (great for preschoolers). A is for the American Museum of Natural History, B is for the Brooklyn Bridge, C is for Central Park, etc. Each page has a little poem and some fun facts.

E is for the Empire State Building (which is struck by lightning about 100 times a year!)

S is for the Statue of Liberty (did you know that the sculptor Auguste Bartholdi modeled the Statue of Liberty's face after his mother's?)

T is for Times Square.. this book makes me miss New York all over again!


nyc #3

Today's pick is The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein, the true story of a french street performer named Philippe who had a dream of walking between the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Sound familiar? A documentary about Philippe and his famous walk was released this summer entitled Man on Wire. (You should check it out if you haven't already).

"Once the idea came to him he knew he had to do it! If he saw three balls, he had to juggle. If he saw two towers, he had to walk! That's how he was."

He comes up with a plan (involving construction elevators, a reel of thick cable, and a bow and arrow) and with the help of his friends, he makes his dream come true. 

The end of the book addresses in a simple way that the towers are no longer there, except in our memory. "And part of that memory is the joyful morning, August 7, 1974, when Philippe Petit walked between them in the air."


nyc #2

Next up is a book by Maira Kalman (illustrator, author, designer, fellow lover of found objects, and a personal hero of mine): Next Stop Grand Central.

"There is a place in New York City that is the busiest, fastest, biggest place there is. It is a train station. This place is called Grand Central.. It's not called grand for nothing!"

Ms. Kalman takes us behind the scenes of Grand Central station, showing all the people that work there. Ed changes the light bulbs, Etha delivers the mail, Marino makes oyster stew at the Oyster Bar, and Dave makes sure the trains are on time.

So many people going so many places. Ms. Kalman writes, "Trains are trips. And trips are adventures. And adventures are new ideas and romance and you can't ever know what in the world will happen which is exactly why you are going."

The endpapers show the mural of constellations which makes up the ceiling over the grand concourse. I used to sit and stare at this as long as I could before rushing off to catch my train. A magical place indeed.


NYC #1

We'll start things off with a classic. This is New York by M. Sasek. One in a long series including This is Paris, This is San Francisco, This is Greece.. you get the idea. Originally published in 1960, and thankfully reprinted by Universe Publishing in 2003.

This book is like taking a ride on a big red tourist bus, where you get to see all the sights and sounds of the city in one sitting. Except with this book you have a charming, witty guide who knows all the best spots all over the city: way up in Harlem, over the Brooklyn Bridge, even out in Coney Island. And man, you're sad when the ride is over. 


we love new york

We spent 10 years in the big apple. I moved there a single girl, fresh out of college.. bright lights, big city. I used to skip home from work through times square, pinching myself. I left New York with a family, a husband I adore, a son and a daughter.

One year ago we packed up our little apartment, dragged every last box down the stoop and into our moving truck. We drove down our beautiful tree lined street one last time and said goodbye to Brooklyn. JR commented how strange it was to see our place empty.. our place, where we kissed on the doorstep, where we made a home for the two of us, where we brought our tiny babies home from the hospital. 

We miss it still. 

So this week I'll be posting our favorite children's books about NYC. One a day. We've been buying them up for our little library, so the kids will remember the special place where they were born. I hope you enjoy them too.

Photo credit: Weegee postcard