Thursday, June 18, 2009


Hi Everyone,

I'm experimenting with my blog in Typepad, so you can meet me over there at I hope you can change the address in your bookmarks and come visit at the new home!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Strawberry Jam or Bust

It was almost a bust. My very first canning experience, with strawberry jam and I was working against the clock and against Baby's naptime. In the canning directions, they constantly emphasize that you need to move *quickly* italicized, which raised my blood pressure because even the letters look like they're running! It was pretty fun, not as complicated and serious as the instructions made it seem, and I was feeling confident until my jars came out of the water bath. Those of you have canned before know that the true measure of success is the popping sound you hear once they come out of the water to let you know the jars have sealed properly. The first jar popped after about a minute, and I thought jars 2, 3, and 4 might be a loss, but no, after about 10 more minutes I heard a second pop, while I was nursing Baby and got so excited that he stopped eating to look at me with big eyes like I was losing it! (Sorry, run-on sentence...) Then he started laughing at silly Mommy. In the end, all four sealed properly, and we've already gone through almost a pint of strawberry jam, yum! What a fun experience, and I am looking forward to canning tomato sauce in the fall, and of teaching Baby about canning science in years to come. If anyone has some great recipes you use for canning, pass them on to me please!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Green Goodness

I've become fond of various shades of green this year; in my garden and my fiber choices. This lovely peppermint green yarn, Koigu KPM from Loop Yarn in Philly, is destined to be Glee, designed by Zephyr Style. It's a top down knit, with a small gauge, and the yarn is luscious, and such a treat to knit with.

My basil, a little darker green, but still with a hint of spring about it, became a very simple pesto, for pairing with pastas and salads throughout the summer. I'm quite pleased with my harvest so far, and doing my best to keep all the shades of green in my garden from going brown!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I'm catching up a little bit posting projects from the spring. This is an apron I made from a vintage tablecloth. Using the vintage linen was pretty tricky, because there were stains in a lot of areas, but they were light stains, so in the end I decided to just ignore them because the fabric was too beautiful not to use.

I have more of the tablecloth and plan to make another apron for my SIL; it was her grandmother's tablecloth.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Is "squirmy" a word? Not sure, but my little guy was thwarting all attempts at pictures this morning in his new Oliver and S playsuit. (You can see how interested he was in the camera, though.)

This cute striped fabric I got super-cheap, the piping was a remnant from an apron, and the buttons are vintage, from my collection. Perfect for an 87 degree day here in the humid Midwest. And it's only June 1st! We're having some portraits taken in July; I'm leaving frame-able pictures to the professionals, at least until he's a little older!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I wasn't an art history major for nothing

DH and I are somewhat wary of all the baby toys out there; we neither want to clutter our house with a bunch of stuff, nor give our baby things that will overstimulate him. So, I've been making some simple toys, including these art cards. We've learned that Baby loves to look at pictures and "read" books, so I made him a set of laminated cards of great art. This is the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist set; perhaps there will be some Renaissance and ancient art in years to come! Baby seems to like them, although his greatest interest in them right now is to try to eat them:)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Garden Starts

I'm trying again with some modest vegetable gardening this year. Everything always grows really well for me until about mid-July when it gets really hot, and I forget to water everyday:) I love the spring greens and purples in these mixed salad starts, and hope to enjoy the tender leaves throughout in our summer salads.

(Plus, I need to start being a more successful vegetable mama so I can teach my little boy about growing things.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Origami Birds Quilt

When it comes to quilting, I am an amateur. I don't really know how to quilt, so I don't realize that some things are too difficult for me, a beginner, to attempt. Instead, I jump right in, and then have to fix whatever mistakes come with unknown territory, and unacquired skills. This is the finished baby quilt for my soon-to-be neice, and I am happy with how it turned out. As I pieced the bird blocks, I sewed 1/8" seams. Once I got the top together, some of those small seams were starting to come apart. I took it into the local quilt shop for some help, and they sold me this great invisible thread. It is clear nylon, and worked like a charm for zigzagging over the offending seams for reinforcement. While I was there, they asked me if I had paper-pieced the birds. Paper pieced, what? I guess this is one more thing to add to my list of things to learn!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oliver + S Playsuit

There are not many cute boy patterns out there these days, but some of the cutest ones can be found at Oliver + S. I'm making a series of these little playsuits for summer to keep Baby cool and free his knees for crawling! The print on this playsuit is "Robotic" by Alexander Henry in honor of his science-minded dad.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More Summer Sewing

This is another version of the Anna Tunic, this time in the minidress style, to wear with leggings. The buttons at the shoulders are fabric-covered and work perfectly for nursing.

One thing I've discovered about Amy Butler patterns is that there is not enough ease under the arms. For the size small in the Anna Tunic, I had to cut deeper armholes to make it comfortable. With this small adjustment, it fits great. Perhaps this will become my uniform for summer!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sale at Indygo Junction

The wonderfully creative people at Indygo Junction are having a pattern sale; yippee! Until April 23rd at midnight, if you buy two patterns you get one free. There are several I have my eye on, including the Day Shift Dress.

Vintage Linen Apron

Val sent me this beautiful apron made from vintage linens. It is so clever what she did: she folded a beautiful linen table runner with lace trim on the bias, enclosing pink vintage blanket binding for the ties. The pocket is made of a piece of vintage embroidery, and the pink button is for attaching the sweet hand towel she sent me. This apron is so perfect for me; thanks Val! She is so kind, she also included all kinds of other treats for me and Baby.

My little boy has been under the weather and unhappy the last few days or I would have gotten this up sooner; my apologies Val.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Over the Top Tunic

Here's my first version of the Over the Top Tunic from Indygo Junction. It's another piece for my summer wardrobe, and should be perfect for nursing with the deep V-neck. The fabric I used is from the Erin McMorris Park Slope collection, and has little birdies on a deep teal background. With some leggings and a cami, this should be about perfect for summer!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Baby's Easter Bonnet

You know how in the movie Easter Parade, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire get new Easter hats for the parade? I like to think of this sweater with hood as Baby's Easter bonnet. Having a boy makes Easter outfits a little trickier, but I think I will knit him a new sweater for Easter each year. This little hoodie is from designer Anny Purls, who has two little boys of her own, and she designs some of the cutest things suitable for boys. The blue marled yarn is wool, next year I think it will have to be cotton, as Baby lasted about 20 minutes in it before fussing from heat. Just about long enough to get a couple of pictures!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Summer Sewing

I've embarked on a mission to sew some new clothes for Baby and I for this summer. Mainly because I haven't seen much I like in the shops, but also because we have a lot of specific requirements: must be very cool so we don't get too hot, must be accessible for diaper changes, must be accessible for nursing, and must look good! Needless to say, patterns that meet all such requirements are hard to come by, so I'm trying my hand at adapting some to suit our purposes. This first project is the Amy Butler Anna Tunic Dress, with buttons on both shoulders instead of at the back, for nursing.

This dress is very baggy, so I had to make some adjustments so I don't look pregnant! Overall though, it's a good start, and should keep me pretty cool in a light seersucker. The pink buttons on the shoulders are vintage, and hopefully they will promote easy access for nursing. We'll see. What patterns are you liking for the summer?

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Swap

I received this lovely package from Mary who participated in my swap. She created a neat fabric basket for me to hold my knitting in, complete with some new yarns. And she gave me an amigurimi book for little animals, perfect toys for the little guy someday. And, to top it all off, a wonderful smelling pound of Starbucks coffee, with a great new mug to go with it! Thank you so much Mary!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Butler Bags

Here are the two Amy Butler bags I made while Grandma was here. One of the many ways my mom enriches my life is by helping me stop and consider things I may usually pass over. So it was with these bags. I had seen these patterns numerous times, but always figured they would be too complicated to do myself. But, with a little encouragement, I started and successfully finished them up. They are really very easy, and perfect for gifts. We discovered that out of the required yardage for a Birdie Sling (below), you could make a Birdie Sling and a Frenchy Bag (above); perfect, huh? One to keep and one to give away!

As I was getting ready to take these pictures, I threw the Frenchy Bag over a chair while my camera batteries charged, then noticed how the guitar in the background mimics the pear-like shape of the bag. Sweet serendipity.

It is also coincedental that the fabric I chose for the Birdie Sling happens to be an owl pattern from Alexander Henry, with little birdie print lining on the inside.

Tomorrow I have pictures from my Cozy Domesticity Swap to share!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Last week Grandma was here visiting Baby (and me!), so I got in some great sewing time. I started and finished two Amy Butler bags (pictures to follow soon). DH was out of town, and when he came home I was close to finishing the second project; he said I seemed very "intense." Well, yes, I was. It was the first time in a couple months that I had been able to start and finish a project in a day. And it was great! But I wouldn't want to do it everyday, I much prefer cuddling the little one, who has become very entertaining, "talking" and cooing, moving his arms and legs all around. He loves music, partcularly Raffi, who I grew up with. Do any of you remember Raffi? I have the old cassette tapes; fortunately you can still get him on CD. Baby Beluga is our favorite collection.

Part of my sewing frenzy included some fun purchases, like this "Sweet Box" from Moda. Talk about great marketing. Who could resist a cute little package like this, with enough fabric to make two fabric pouches, seen above. And talk about instant gratification, they make up in literally twenty minutes. A great way to satisfy your sweet tooth if you're foregoing other goodies this Lent!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Sale!

I'm having a spring sale in my shop to make room for new collections, including the vintage encyclopedia journals, coming soon! Check out the SALE section for 25% off selected items, including books like the ones above.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Baby Quilting

My husband's brother and sister-in-law are pregnant, so you know what that means: I get to craft them something! Their nursery is going to have a birdie theme, so at first I was considering this mobile, but it needs to be ship-able, so I decided to make a quilt. The quilt is going to have 12 birds, in red, yellow, and green prints, with a blue print for the sashing to match their nursery.

I hope they like it; you always take a chance when you give a handcrafted gift, because some recipients don't value such things, but I always try and hope for the best. I like to give handcrafted gifts because those are the kind that mean the most to me.

What kinds of gifts have you handcrafted recently, and any suggestions for cute handmake-able baby items?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Artists Books

I have always been interested in artists books, and over the years have created several on a number of different topics, which I plan to list in my new Etsy shop. This one, created a couple years ago, is on the theme of God's faithfulness. It is a concertina structure, with an acronym of Faithful, listing character qualities of God.

In the valley of each fold are cut-outs in the colors of the rainbow, another Biblical symbol of God's faithfulness. This modest little artist's book is the first I've listed in the shop, with more to come. Someday, I would like to start a collection of artist's books. Alisa Golden, who writes wonderful bookmaking books, makes hundreds of artist's books incorporating text and printmaking techniques, and I would love to own one of her pieces. Her work is something to aspire to!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring at Siebenthaler's Quilt

This quilt was designed and made in my manic pre-labor frenzy in January. I was envisioning the bright colors and patterns of the local garden center in the spring, with all the flats of annuals arranged in rows on tables. For this quilt, I used 8 different floral prints, randomly sewn in blocks of 5 and arranged in 3 columns. The machine quilting was done by a local quilter, and my mom and I finished the binding last weekend.

I'm so happy with the results! I plan to write and diagram out the pattern and instructions for anyone who's interested.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Paper Patisserie

I've opened a new Etsy shop, Paper Patisserie, to sell my vintage paper ephemera, decorative paper scraps, artists books, and prints and drawings. Go check it out. I will be listing more soon including some artists books and prints.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Limited Edition: Recycled Encyclopedia Journals

I've been working on a new series of books for the shop: journals made from 1947 encyclopedias. This will be a limited edition of 10 journals, with similar covers and bindings, but each will have unique papers for the inside.

These covers are just gorgeous, you don't see nearly this quality in books these days. If you're interested in one of these journals, email me at, and I will reserve one for you! This first one is for a friend, but the other 9 should be finished in several weeks. Each will have 128 pages of cream-colored text-weight paper and measure 8 x 10 inches.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sneak Peeks: A Finished Object


Plus this....

Makes a surprise for my Cozy Domesticity swap partner!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Illustration Friday: Instinct

If you regularly read my blog, I bet you could have seen this coming if I told you the word "instinct." Of course I did a mother's instinct, because that is my life these days, and what a good one it is! I was thinking of a modern abstract sculpture my parents have of a mother and baby as I drew this. My dad gave it to my mom after the birth of my brother and I've always liked it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Smoothies and Scones

This was a baking weekend. There are few things I can actually do from start to finish these days in between baby feedings and cryings, but baking is one of them. On Friday I made the bread in the last post from the recipe in this book, and Saturday morning I made white whole wheat scones with oats and currants.

They turned out pretty well, but next time I plan to make some changes. In my favorite scone recipe, it calls for several tablespoons butter, a little milk, and one egg. In this recipe, there is no butter but it makes up for it with the richness of cream and two eggs. Unfortunately, the missing butter really seemed to make a difference, and they turned out pretty dense and dry. On the next go, I will use my recipe, and substitute the white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour to make mine a little healthier.

In spite of all this bread-y and dough-y goodness, I'm back to severely limiting my sugars and starches. For about 8 months last year, I went completely sugar free. This includes all the obvious sweets and desserts, but also bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, sugary vegetables (carrots, beets) and many fruits. I never felt so good in my life; once I got pregnant though, my willpower died and I succumbed to the sugar monster. Now I'm back to limiting my sugars and starches, and these smoothies serve as my treats. I have a smoothie with my lunch and it is so tasty! If you're used to sweet smoothies, it takes a little while to appreciate this one, because its only sweetness comes from the lactose in the milk.

Simple Strawberry Smoothie
Pour one cup of milk into the blender. Add a handful of frozen strawberries. Blend until smooth. Serve in a tall glass with a straw!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Making bread yesterday, I contemplated how much I am needed these days. My little one needs me for everything (a very beautiful and rewarding experience, albeit a little tiring at times), and DH needs me, not for his basic survival, but for other things. And the dog needs me (and chooses the most inopportune times to be demanding, like when I'm nursing!).

It made me think about the purpose of kneading bread: to develop the gluten in the loaf, which is what holds it together. Kneading also helps to create a loaf of bread that is light and flavorful.

Perhaps this is my role in our family; to hold everyone together by caring for them, and to make our home and family "flavorful," with love, variety, and beauty. Although the bread gets a bit of a workout with all this kneading, and can get a little tired at times, the end result is delicious and worth it all! Such are my hopes for our family.

(Am I pushing this analogy too far?)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Inaugural Illustration Friday

I always forget how much I love to draw. In an effort to keep producing some artwork during this busy time, I'm committing to Illustration Friday, so at least I'll be doing a drawing per week. Colored pencil will be my chosen medium; it is colorful, clean, and requires no set-up! This week's word was "Celebrate," and I started pretty simple.

Constructive criticism is welcome!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Flag Book Tutorial

Over the course of this year I hope to create more bookbinding and craft tutorials to share with you. Here's the first; a flag book! This book was made out of the pile above, using the greeting cards we received on the birth of Baby. You don't need any special materials for this project, just a ruler, utility knife, scissors, some glue, and your paper. If you enjoyed my tutorial, please let me know at Have fun!

Bookbinding - Flag Book Tutorial

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day, How I Love You

Ever since I was a child, my family has celebrated Valentine's Day together. My dad would cook dinner (veal saltimbocca), and we would exchange cards and gifts. One Valentine's morning as a little girl I awoke to my Samantha doll dressed in a new nightgown, fresh off the sewing machine of my mother. Another year, as a hopeful teenage artist, my dad gave me two Windsor and Newton watercolor brushes. I know this sounds like I'm all about the presents, but I look back on our family celebrations with great joy, and those memories have made all my Valentine's days happy, even ones when I was single.

So this year, with our new family, I wanted to start our tradition off right. With the newborn, my time is a little limited, but I did manage to cook one of DH's favorite meals, homemade pizza (I use the term "homemade" loosely: the pizza consisted of Trader Joe's dough and sauce:). And....

I cut the ham into heart shapes, because I want to be one of those cool moms that makes food look like something. We finished off with a lemon yogurt cake (which I tinted pink; I couldn't help myself). For his part, DH surprised me with beautiful deep red roses; he is the best.

All in all, it was a success. Next year, Baby and I will be doing some art projects for Daddy, but for this year, I needed to keep it simple.

How do you celebrate Valentine's with your loved ones?