Ottobre 6/2013, No11

Well, I'm not an easy one to surprise, but Dan pulled one over on me this time with his post for my birthday.  I had no idea that he had written it until I read the first comment in my inbox.  I was temporarily very confused and then, of course, touched.  He's a sweet one, that guy!  I'm so thankful to be married to him.

Thank you so much for the lovely birthday wishes.  I know it's a pain to leave a comment and I appreciated them so much.

I turned 34 and so far my 30s have been great.  Way, way back when I was in my early 30s (ha!), blog posts started cropping up by prominent (non-sewing) bloggers about coping with 'aging'... and they were all in their 30s!  At first I was alarmed- I didn't know that was even supposed to be on my radar!  Should I be upset about being in my 30s, too?  And then I realized it's a product of living in a youth-obsessed culture.  This life is a gift and I'm so thankful for it.   I love being in my 30s much more so than my 20s.  By this point you know who you are, you're comfortable in your own skin, and you know how futile it is to try to please everyone.  It's simply impossible.  (As a people pleaser by nature, this one took me a long while to grasp.)

On my birthday morning, Jude and Indigo told me to take a l o n g shower and then they made me a birthday breakfast : eggs, coffee, fruit salad, tomato slices, and coffee.  They made it all by themselves and covered everything with aluminum foil to keep it warm.  Indigo even added a couple of sprigs of mint as garnish - fancy!

birthday breakfast 

Indi also made me this small pink bird out of modeling beeswax.  I love it!

birthday bird

Over the weekend I had the chance to sew up this quick Ottobre top for Iris.  It's from Ottobre 6/2013 No11.

ottobre 6/2013 no 11

I love the details of this top.  The sleeves are gently gathered.

ottobre 6/2013 no 11

The bodice is partially gathered.

ottobre 6/2013 no 11

And I love the way the skirt swings.

swingy skirt

The main knit fabric is from Land of Oh.

ottobre 6/2013 no 11 

 And the bindings are an olive colored jersey. I can't remember where I found it, though.

ottobre 6/2013 no11

I have to report back also and say I am really enjoying Instagram (you can find me here).  I wish I wouldn't have been such a curmudgeon about it and had joined sooner.  It really doesn't take much time at all and the commenting format is so, so awesome.  A million times better than Blogger/Wordpress or Flickr.  It's so iPhone friendly, which works great for me since I usually read while nursing the baby to sleep.

Also, one of my (many) New Year's Resolutions was to take more daily life photos of my family.  Having had sick kids this winter, I wasn't feel as inspired as I would have liked to be.   This is a good motivator for me to go for that goal.  Here are a few photos I posted this week.

dancing with daddy Saturday morning dancing with Daddy 

daddy's sous chef Daddy's sous chef

  sneaky girl 
Iris sneaking chocolate chips... in Daddy's boots!

I'd love to see you there!  ;)


Happy Birthday Rachel! (By Dan)

Your blog has been hijacked, my love, but for a good reason!

You are always the one documenting our family milestones, writing about our kids lives and describing what is going on in our home, yet you are the one who drives this place and makes it hum so beautifully.

So on your birthday, it is only fitting to say thank you, to say I love you and to say how amazing you are.  The true reflection of who you are can so easily be seen in our children.  Their gentleness and kindness to one another is amazing, like yesterday when Indigo was playing 'Search for Atlantis' all around the house with Iris because we needed her to keep her little sister occupied for awhile.  Or watching Jude's tenderness with Hazel, holding her gently and cooing to make her smile. 

You have brought those qualities out in the kids with your incredible patience, the hard work you put into home schooling and simply how positive you are with them all the time.  You don't yell, you are always loving, yet firm when needed.  I am in awe of how you parent.  You are such an amazing momma to our kids and I love you for that!

And the way you love and support me is nothing short of mind blowing.  I can't tell you how incredible you are, the way I can feel your love for me, each and every day.  I can't tell you how blessed I feel to be married to you.  This year has been a grind in so many ways, but you have brought so much grace to it and I could not have gotten through it without you.

I could go on and on about your talents - all self-taught - sewing, photography, cooking, homeschooling and theology...all acquired in the scattered spare moments you have when not parenting, doing laundry (man do these kids create laundry!), homeschooling or cooking.  

Your life is spent loving others, pouring yourself out to your children, to me and those God brings into your life and so today, on your birthday, I just want to say thank you, and I love you...now and always. 

Your husband - Dan

"We learn by practice.  Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same.  One becomes in some area, an athlete of God."  Martha Graham


Instagram, Sewing Lessons and Little Things to Sew

After a ridiculous - embarrassing even- amount of deliberation, I decided to join Instagram.  (You can find me at @rachelstitchedtogether ).  I must have talked to Dan about it a dozen times, to which he finally responded, "Rachel, it's Instagram.  This is not a major life decision."  haha


Like many others, I have a love-hate relationship with social media.  I'll talk about the love part first.  To say social media has impacted my life is a huge understatement.  Were it not for social media, I would not have discovered adoption blogs, which were the impetus in our decision to adopt.  It was through social media that we changed our plan to adopt from Taiwan and instead decided to adopt from Ethiopia.  On February 18th, we celebrated 5 years since we met first Tia in Ethiopa.

our day 1 with Tarikua 
first day together

It was through social media that I learned about the need for reform in international adoption.  After lots of research and conversations with other adoptive parents as well as humanitarians, we made the decision to work with Compassion International, supporting their mother-baby program to help keep mothers and infants together rather than to pursue another adoption.  Without those connections we may not have Iris and Hazel.  (And for those wondering, I felt my heart was too fragile for the US foster care system, though I would not rule it out at some point when my children are older.)

hazel and me

It was through social media that I discovered Oliver + S patterns, which taught me how to sew.  Their Flickr group was the gateway drug to the sewing blog world.  And the rest is history.

On the other hand, social media is a huge distraction in our society.  I recently read that the average person checks their phone 1500 times a week (!)  and spends over three hours every day on their phones.  These are the people that sometimes ask me how I have so much 'free time' to sew.

The answer is: I don't spend much time on social media (or watching television).  In my opinion, screens are a huge impediment to both creativity and productivity.  It's the five minutes here and there, waiting for water to boil or for the dinner to simmer, where it's so tempting to check your phone.  But those minutes, they add up.  I could do a few dishes, start or fold a load of laundry, listen to my children tell a story and really listen.  Not just nod and 'uh-huh' while scrolling on my phone.

my sleeping beauty

So those were my reservations.  But, I decided not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Mostly because so many of you in the sewing community are on it and you guys are so darn inspirational!  (And actually, I had tried Instagram once before, several years ago, before a lot of sew-ers were on it.  It seems like a lot has changed since then, in a good way.)

On a lighter note, I gave Indigo her first long and formal sewing lesson yesterday as part of a homeschooling assignment : to make puppets and put on a puppet show about Aesop's Fable "Country Mouse and City Mouse."

sewing lessons

What a better place to start than an Oliver + S pattern - the puppets/bath mitts from Little Things to Sew.

city mouse country mouse

City Mouse is on the left, with the bow tie, of course!  :)  (Jude says Country Mouse's stare is a little intense!)

Indigo sewed and fabric painted the whole thing - with my direction/supervision.  Except for the whiskers.  I hand sewed those.

Jude built a puppet theater for Indigo using cardboard boxes.  He was intent on making it just perfect for her.  Man, that kid is so sweet!

 {May I recommend straw dispensers for storing Washi tape}

With her puppet theater ready we spent the evening in anticipation for the opening night performance.

puppet theater - by jude dress rehersal
dress rehearsal 

Country Mouse and City Mouse make their debut!

country mouse - city mouse
Jude had the idea of using a flashlight as a spotlight.

I have a post in the works about our homeschooling curricula this year.  We are really getting the hang of this homeschooling thing and we all love it so much.  It isn't always easy, but it's so worth it.  We've really found our stride this year and I finally get what people mean when they say 'homeschooling is a lifestyle.'

Anyway, maybe I'll see you on Instagram?


Ottobre 1/2015 No5 and Tips for Sewing with Ottobre Patterns

Last week, things were pretty intense around here when Hazel came down with broncholitis.  She was so, so sick.  By the weekend, however, she was on the mend and I had a little bit of time to sew this simple sweatshirt for Iris... in between trying to catch up on a mountain (a mountain!) of laundry. 

Ottobre 1/2015, No 5 


Halfway Around the Sun

Well, she went ahead and did it.  Hazel turned 6 months old.

hazel 6 months

I'm going to contradict what I said in my three month post by saying it's hard to believe that six months ago I was sitting at my kitchen table wondering when the heck I was going to go into labor.


Ottobre 6/2013, No 21 : A Cap Sleeve Pinafore

Well, here I am with another Ottobre pattern.  This is from the 6/2013 issue, No. 21.

ottobre 6/2013, No 21 

After having kids, something super nerdy overcame me and I suddenly had a voracious appetite for learning as much as I possibly could about a certain topic.  Education, nutrition, theology, world religions, breastfeeding, child development, herbalism, birth, to name a few.  I'd stay up late pulling research articles or devouring books, reading as much as I could about the subject of interest.  Doing so ignited something in me and it was - and is - really exciting.  I hope I'll always be a lifelong learner.