Happy birthday to me

I was all set to regale you with the Big Questions such as The Passing of Time – where are we going? And I’m Getting Older Year By Year – what does this all mean? since I am 30 today. This is the start of a whole new decade of misadventures! Which will hopefully include such goal-meeting as finishing my novel, falling pregnant with another babe (maybe more than one? These are the years, as they say, but getting our first child to the ripe age of two has pretty well wiped out any energy reserves we’d stockpiled from our childless days). Plus I imagine this decade will involve the accumulation of various sundries to luxuriate our Montana existence: to whit, apple trees. ((The new (to us) library tome Apple Farmer Annie has been a mega-hit around here the last few nights. Now whenever I ask Freya what she wants to grow in our garden she says, “Apples! And…maccaroni.”)) Also to whit, a new sewing machine that makes non-lumpy, regular-shaped buttonholes. And finally to whit, a bicycle. I have a preference for one of those great old dutch bikes with a huge cargo hold large enough for Freya to lie prone, but these seem to be either a) out of our price range or b) only available for importers. And since we’ve temporarily shut down the importing arm of A Trade For A Trade I’m sore out of luck. Just a regular old granny bike for me, please, thanks.

As for other immediate ventures for which you can expect an update in a timely fashion, we are in the throes of screwing together pine boards into our very own construction project: an indoor planter to be filled (soonish) with a menagerie of felt vegetables. Excitment is brewing.

But first! As for today! Johnathan is whisking me away to Chico Hot Springs for the night to soak away the cares of my now 30-year-aged body. The Bean will be chillin’ at the ranch with G’ma which basically means awesome-sauce times for all. Okay, chop, chop, lady! The Subaru chariot awaits!

Catch you all on the flip end of the week.

Quickly, for posterity:20140408-111755.jpg(two-year-old selfies! Who knew that was the way to get a genuine smile?)

Best, Kendra


How to make vegetable dye

vegetable dye

Spring! Spring! Time to drag out the dye vats and skeins of untreated wool! I’m dye-ing (ha) to mix up a hot pot of beets this summer to dye a shirt for my little bean. I can’t take credit for this recipe, but it’s a great idea, so I’m linking you up. I imagine using your home-grown veggies to tie-dye clothes is about as hippie-dippie as it gets—not sure how I feel about that. I mean I’m crunchy but not that crunchy.

Wool (to be dyed)
Alum (potassium aluminum sulphate)
Cream of Tartar
Large saucepan or tall pot
Container to store treated wool

Complete instructions here.

Any luck dip-dying your own clothes? Has this every turned out to be awesome? A kid-friendly activity? I’d imagine yes except for the boiling pots of water. And the alum. And the general ability of beets to stain everything within spitting distance. But maybe outside on a hot day? When the sprinkler’s running? Yes? Yes. I’ll report back.

Best, Kendra

paint-filled Easter eggs

easter eggs filled with paint(Full tutorial here.) (Also worth noting that the link to this project was swallowed whole by the pinterest vortex, but I found it thanks to the “Jeweled Rose” tagging in the first photo. A good note: tag your photos so people can give you credit for your good ideas.)

I’m not usually one for the holiday-themed projects, but this one looks like heaps of fun. Maybe it’s the bright colors, maybe it’s the act of throwing eggs to make art. Who can say. If the weather softens up here over the weekend we might find ourselves outside partaking in just such an activity. Enjoy.

Best, Kendra

Camping with kids

national park camping(image credits: road trip // hot springs // Moraine Lake // campfire)

We live approximately two hours from Yellowstone and half an hour from the G’parent’s ranch and this summer I want to take Freya camping. I’ve never been a big huge camping nut, but I have fond memories of my dad hiking us up to a tipi staked on the ranch where we would pursue the usual rigamarole of building a fire, poking at the creek, and roasting a batch of stew. We’re techie people around this house and a break from all that tech will only do us good. 

However, I have a few qualms about a two-year-olds ability to sleep under the stars. How will she do without her sound machine and the relative quietude of her room?

camping with kids(red canvas shoes // baby backpack // toddler sleeping bag // plan toys discovery set // custom wooden family // Lodge Camp Dutch Oven // Rome marshmallow tree // Haba Terra Lantern)

Have you camped with a toddler? Any tips or tricks? We probably won’t be hiking in anywhere, at least for this first go-around so we don’t have to limit our supplies to only the necessities we can carry. Still, I’d love to hear of anything that helped ease the experience, for either you or your offspring.

Best, Kendra

pink and purple and braids, oh my

pink + purple hair collage(Some of the image credits were lost in the vortex of the Internet. If you know the proper way to credit these photographers please let me know—I like to give everyone their due: pink hair with flowers // pink hair with navy headress // pink hair, red lips // violet lips // grey hair, purple braid // violet bun // purple braid // lilac fishtail // violet heidi braids)

I’ve never been one for hair-dying, but these elegant ladies are making me re-think my boycott on colorful hair. Can a mama pull off pink hair? Should one? Have any of you out there in blog-land dyed your hair a wild color? Did you like it? Would you do it again? Inquiring minds and so forth.

Best, Kendra

very super duper fun times

What can I say today except that Freya’s on the upswing from being sick which is just like being sick in that she wants to be rocked to sleep and fed only turkey and goldfish crackers, but her fever seems to have broken. So, hip! She threw a temper tantrum last night around three am, complete with flailing and tears and trying to pull me out of a chair—which I took to mean that it’s time to put an abrupt end to the indulgent period of her malaise. Which I was very convicted about up until seven am when she awoke like a black cloud over Miami, all red cheeks and snorting nose. As such, she’s watching more Dora this morning (what can I say? The girl loves an adventure even when she’s couch-bound).

Ah, the good old days when she did her chores like a good little Cinder-Freya:

IMG_1998 (washing peanut butter dishes, back when we were healthy)

In an effort to feel some modicum of control over this sweaty spiral of an ear infection I decided to sew Freya a dress. I unboxed my fabric and scrounged up a pattern book and went to work cutting and basting and serging until I completed a little navy number with dragonflies on it. So cute! I thought. What a good sewer am I! And then I summoned Freya and tugged it over her head. And tugged and tugged. And twisted her this way and that and guess what? I had made the neckhole too small, like waaaay too small. And because I went ahead and lined it (thinking ahead!) there was no way to make it bigger without recutting the whole thing. Which in non-sewing speak is just called, “making a whole new dress.” So, failure on all fronts.

You wouldn’t think a girl’s clothes would be that hard to make, but this outfit below would probably take me half a year at the rate I’m going:


I have this vision of setting a goal each week which will involve me undertaking some new skills such as carpentry and sewing clothes that fit things without a cotton head, but then some new zippo-zappo hits us and suddenly there’s fabric strewn about the upstairs, pins on the dining room table, tissues stuck down the lip of my pants, and I’m staying up until three am rocking the babe and eating pretzels. And I only have one child. My mother is of the opinion that these are the hard years. The years where someone always has a fever and you spend your minutes being coughed upon or sneezed upon or else whisking up bowls of porridge while Sesame Street thrums in the background. This must be true, at least one some level, yes, okay, sure.

I guess I thought parenthood would be like riding an hay cart through the woods—bumpy at times, but mostly monotonous and charming. Instead I’ve found that it’s a lot more akin to sledding blind down a steep hill where someone’s always hollering from the sidelines, “to the right! to the left!” in an effort to help you avoid flinging yourself headlong into a tree. Does the ride ever slow down, veteran parents? It feels like we’re always rocketing from one cold-cough-flu to the next sore throat-teething-night terrors with such speed that a routine only ever feels as good as, “well, for the last few days…”

A practice of peaceful pauses, this is what I need, if for no other reason than I might have figured out beforehand that a two-year-old’s head wouldn’t fit through a ten-centimeter hole ((I mean seriously, self, the only reason an infant’s head fits through a ten-centimeter *ahem* hole *ahem* is because it (the head) is basically made of play-doh)). Tomorrow, I suppose, we’ll be back to everything being “very super duper fun” and the rest of the usual rigamarole. Weeks speeding into months speeding into seasons. The two-year-old always on the move.


Years and years of this they say? One minute rocking a sweaty head, an ear pressed to your heart, the next building so-tall towers and chopping wooden carrots? At least now we can double-team her. But what happens when there are more of them (the children)? How will I find time to make my too-small dresses then?

Best, Kendra

Friday After-Noon Potluck

IMG_2017(The first in a series called: Sick Baby at Home)

We’re definitely in sick-ville over here. Freya was burning up last night and a visit to the doc this morning confirmed a fever of 104, exclamation point, which came as no surprise to her parents whose fingers were practically sizzling holding on to her even though our (apparently crappy) thermometer kept reading 99.5. Ha. She has also won the end-of-a-cold lottery in that she’s got her first ear infection. After we left the doc I took a tour around the grocery store in an attempt to stock up on all the sick foods I remember as a kid and you know what I forgot? Jello. Can you believe that?

We had a brief, wonderous period of medicinally-induced euphoria this afternoon during which Freya was dancing in front of the mirror and portraying some general excitement toward life (a marked difference from this morning when she cried and cried and refused to be unzipped from her pajamas), and at the very height of all this energy the boys from next door knocked to see if we could come outside to play. What you need to know is that playing outside with the neighbors is like Freya’s favorite thing ever, and it’s a beautiful spring day in Montana with our daffodils just beginning to poke up, so you can imagine the apoplectic look I received when I begged off and ushered her back indoors. Of course almost as soon as I shut the door the euphoria drained out of her and she fell asleep in my arms (which neeeeever happens), and now she’s down for a second nap (also an anomaly!). So, yeah, she’s sick.

This whole foray in the world of REAL SICKNESS—as in, my child might burst an eardrum if we don’t pump her up with some antibiotics like pronto—has made me wonder how far I’m willing to go down the natural-as-a-garden-patch parenting road. I thought pretty far. But then I spent the afternoon squirting one med after another into her hot little mouth, so really I guess my resolve wavers in the face of fevers. For today: amoxycilin is so pink my teeth hurt just looking at it. Seems to taste good, though. No complaints from the two-year-old. 

And now a few other things that don’t have to do with sick kids. And: It’s almost April! Our garden shears are just hankering to be sharpened.

How to make Moroccan mint tea.

Is this movie playing in a theater near you? We really only get the big stuff—I’ll probably have to track this down in some obscure corner of the Internet in a few months.

I wish I’d thought of this super cute felt garden

For warmer days.

Not super topical, but the house that inspired the movie UP.

Have you read this? (The perfect protein)

Made the writer in me laugh.

Kids writing scripts for grown-ups (so funny!)

Stranger-Danger, Korean-style

Best, Kendra

Growth Tablets & Reverse Hibernation

We’ve been popping Freya full of her all-natural-no-bad-stuff cold tablets all week in an effort to combat what has been labelled at different times as a flu-teething-cold-night terrors reign, but which we’ll look back and just call “March, 2014.” Last night she woke up at midnight with a poopy diaper (which hasn’t happened in eons) and when Johnathan tried to change her she kept writhing out of his hands while screaming (screaming!), “I. want. to. get. back. in bed.” So back into bed she went where she laid on her back and eyed us suspiciously. Would she like a lullaby? Absolutely not! Finally we threw down the, “Okay, if you don’t want anything we’re going back to bed gauntlet,” and she stopped crying and said very meekly, “I have a poopy diaper.” Is that so?

Can a two-year-old be afflicted with night terrors? I’m thinking yes.

IMG_1652(Same symptoms, this time in daylight)

There are some unexplained oddities that might shed light on the situation if we knew what in the world they meant. As in: whenever Freya takes one of her tablets she holds it up in the air, says, “Groooow!” then eats it. Did she learn this at school? No. A book? No. Her grandparents? Nope again. After querying her for ages she finally said, “Milk,” promptly climbed off her learning tower and went to play. So, milk. That’s either a clue or she’s telling us she’s thirsty.

(What is she hoping these little tablets do, one wonders? I mean, is she thinking they’re going to spring her growth forward? In which case it kind of makes sense that she might wake up in a rage at midnight only to find herself still a prisoner of a tiny-toddler body.)

IMG_1694(Better behind the camera than in front; there’s no smiling now, just a furrowed brow and an insistent, “I want to see that picture.”)

Furthermore: daylight savings time has not been kind to our family. We thought everything was all ho-hum-hunky-dory but now every night when we say, “It’s almost time for bedtime!” in that chipper parenting way, Freya points at the windows and says, “Is it dark outside?” Like, Hello, obviously I can see that it’s still light, you’re not going to fool me. And in the mornings she’s all, “It’s light!” even though it’s only 6:20. Is this want kids do—start sleeping fewer and fewer hours throughout the spring and summer, like some kind of reverse hibernation?

No real surprise that all of our troubles seem to basically fall in the sleep/no sleep category. Are there some tricks for managing daylight savings time expectations I don’t know about? Are blackout shades a worthy investment? And finally the whopper: night terrors, is this for real?

Best, Kendra


New Baby Care Package: Classic Little Dude

New Baby Care Package(The “Happy New Baby” card is from Japan, courtesy of the stock of A Trade For A Trade)

Our fridge is chocking up with baby announcements, and our friends are flung across the country so we can’t just pop over with a buttery roasted chicken and a loaf of pumpkin bread. Instead, I’m in the business (wouldn’t it be a GREAT business, if it was true?) of curating want-need-wear-read care packages for these new little bumpkins.

New Baby Care Package - classic little dude(Monkey Puppet // Sari Blanket // Elephant onesie // Moby Dick)

I was in a writing program when I got pregnant with Freya (did you know Australians say “fell pregnant”?) and we were gifted books upon books upon books. Which was great because kids outgrow their clothes, like, every other day, but books last until someone chews off the spine of The Hungry Caterpillar (*ahem* Freya *ahem*). Some of our favorites in the Babylit collection are Moby Dick (above), The Jabberwocky, and Wuthering Heights.

CIMG3754(Freya at six months lounging about on one of our recycled Indian sari blankets)

What are your go-tos for baby gifts? I tend to think you can never go wrong with books, so they’re pretty much the default if I don’t know the parents’ style/wishes/needs. And I just have to plug that kickee pants onesie above—it doesn’t look all that special online, but I saw it (and more importantly felt it) in person and it was excruciatingly soft and awesome enough that I almost bought it on the off-chance that I had a boy at some point in the future.

I still might.

Best, Kendra

P.S. Favorite books for two-year-olds

Bohemian-Scandanavian Nursery

Like most of our house, Freya’s room is half-baked. In a mad flurry before we moved in last April we painted the walls and threw up some wallpaper and pushed her crib up against the wall. Other furniture in the room: a double mattress on the floor, covered in a wrinkled plaid sheet. A 70′s pleather chair (I kind of love it). A red apple pillow. A cradle full of books. Her room’s been a sore spot for me because it’s better than the rooms to which we’ve done nothing (read: our bedroom; read: the entire upstairs), but the only improvement I’ve made in the last twelve months was to buy her a new crib sheet. It looks great. The room does not.

As I was scamming around online over the weekend it bingo! occurred to me that the style I’m going for is somewhere between 70′s-bohemian-and-minimal-scandanavian. (We do not own the crib below. I wish. That thing is pure luxury.) Realistically I should probably be in the market for a toddler bed, but I’m in no hurry to liberate her from the crib—I’m sort of leaving that up to her in the sense that we’ll upgrade her sleeping situation only after she’s making persistent, dedicated efforts to escape.

Behold the inspiration: Bohemian-scandanavian nursery 1(Clockwise from top left: Kalahari wallpaper // Rabbit Lamp // Corner shelves // Viola Rug // Goldilocks Doll // Oeuf bookcase // Como Te Llama? poster // Pink Apple Pillow // Custom Watercolor Portrait // Ioline Crib)