Hey! I'm Emily... homebody, amateur philosopher, professional photographer, mama and wife. This is my little world-- a place for me to preserve the little snippets of my life that bring me joy, make me think, or show my creative leanings. I'm so happy you're here. If you get a minute, please introduce yourself in the comments. If you like what you see, you are invited to follow my blog through your RSS Reader. Just click the link at the bottom of the page to add me.
Thank you for being part of my little world... :)

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Sunday, July 13

Crafty Post: Group Quiet Book From Ages Ago

Let's not talk about the fact that this awesome project I'm about to share was actually something we did as a group almost three years ago. (More?) Nor let us talk about the fact that even after I'd received all the quiet book pages from my friends, it took another year to actually stitch and assemble them into a usable book.

Nor let us even delve into the fact that this poor little blog has not been a "crafty" blog in eons. 

M'kay?

Suffice it to say, I DID finally finish this book. And then because I always intended to photograph and blog it, I only let my kids play with it once in a blue moon, and it sat, awesome-but-unused, for two years, and that's absurd, and so here we are. I'm blogging this thing. And then I'm taking it to church tomorrow, so my kids can play the heck out of it. 

And p.s. I am also still crafty/bake-y/sew-y on occasion. Just not as often as I'd like. And definitely not in a time frame where photographing and blogging it all is very easy. I miss that... But it is what it is. 

Anyway. 

THE PREMISE
Once upon a time, fourteen friends all agreed to make one Quiet Book page, 14 times. The same one. Duplicated. Then the 14 friends were given a timeline, say 2-3 months, to complete their 14 duplicate pages. Typically, Quiet Books are made with felt, and we specified that the backing should be muslin of uniform size. But beyond the uniform size and typical materials, there were no other strict rules--- so we could go crazy and do our own thing. 

Most of us needed some inspiration to know where to start. Luckily, there are a billion Quiet Book ideas online. We had some blog links we used for inspiration (oh goodness, Pinterest was just beginning then. So we didn't have Pinterest resources like we all do now. Oh, the olden days.)

For any of you wanting some inspiration beyond this blog post, here are some links to some great Quiet Book ideas:
* Imagine Our Life (these have some AMAZING ones!)
* MouseHouse: (this one is stunning!)

And seriously--- Pinterest has endless links to ideas! 


Meanwhile, the 14 friends came through with their commitment, and at the end of our deadline, we all had 14 different pages to put together as we wished, for our very own Quiet Books. Some of my friends followed one cover idea, using jump rings, etc. Since I had a lot of sewing experience, I decided I wanted to rig my own cover design into something really sturdy. I decided to give my book a denim cover, and on a whim, made a fleece title for the cover- "HUSH", a fun modern nod to the Quiet Book theme. 

Without further ado, here it is-- this major project, contributed to by 13 other amazing crafty girls.



For the cover, I used a denim skirt that I found at Goodwill and upcycled it for a tidy and strong cover. I used two colors of contrast stitching to mimic the style of jeans, and after putting some iron-on interfacing onto the back of yellow fleece, I cut out the letters for the title and ironed it on before stitching it on. 


After adding some velcro and straps to wrap around the back, I then quilted the denim to some green polka-dot cotton with thin batting in the middle.


For fun, because I could, I added an inner pocket to both covers. I envisioned this being a place for some paper for drawing, maybe a pack of colored pencils... just handy to have pockets. You can never have enough pockets! I used a double-stitch again, for looks.


Since I worked my tail off on my own Quiet Book page, I decided it got to be the first page in my book. And since I love cupcakes, well..... I ended up brainstorming a QB idea of my very own, with the theme of cupcakes. 


Confession: I hate felt. 

So WHY would I ever have agreed to do a project that is primarily felt? I dunno. I need to get over my felt snobbery. But you know, since I LOVE sewing, and HATE felt, I decided to make my QB page my own way. 14 times. So My QB page is fleece, corduroy, and cotton. It took more effort than felt would've, but it was worth it to me. And I love the result. And guess what? NO PILLING WILL EVER HAPPEN. *happy sigh* (As for the rest of the beautiful pages, done in felt? Worth it. Even when they ultimately pill. They're still so cool and I have no regrets being a part of this project. And, well... every one of those 14 books will have one guaranteed pill-free page. So there.)


The premise of my felt-free cupcake page: decorate the cupcake with three different "frostings", each reversible with two different fabrics. They have a button hole in their center and can be "buttoned" onto the "cherry", a red button. The cupcake itself is tan fleece, and the cupcake wrapper is corduroy. The wrapper is actually a pocket you can tuck the frostings into. And my favorite part? The "sprinkle shaker". This is heavy-duty clear vinyl and red vinyl, sewn together with seed beads sandwiched in the center, then attached to grosgrain ribbon. It can be "shaken", but nothing actually comes out. It also can be tucked into the wrapper "pocket". And the final touch is just a "C" for cupcake... a nod to learning letters. Ta da! Now make that fourteen times. 

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Page Two was made by my dear friend Sarah of Bombshell Bling. It's a fun and easy "basket weave" page, put together with some fun and fancy decorative machine-stitching. 


Page Three, Noah's Ark by Tori. Tori was the brains behind this operation and got us all organized and kept us on task. She's amazing. And so is her page. This Noah's Ark is SO well-made--- and behind that door, check out the actual tiny plastic animals? This is darling. 


Page Four is a vase of button flowers, a color-match page. I'm so sorry, Kadee and Amy-- I know you guys worked together, so I cannot remember which ones belong to who! 

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Page Five,  by Ms. Jessica, is a super-fun road in a neighborhood, with a perfect pocket containing a HotWheels car. Vroom! 

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Note: For my own purposes in assembling my book, I took two pages and faced them right-side in, then stacked a piece of white fleece on top of a wrong side and sewed them all together, leaving a space to turn them right-side-out. I then pressed the opening closed and top-stitched the now-single piece to give it a clean, finished look. This wasn't necessarily the group's plan, so I got really lucky that our muslin pieces had enough room for me to do this. Only one page had elements so close to the edge that I had to modify the page a little, and that was the second-to-last page, where I had to cover a title that was going to get cut off.


Page Six was crafted by Glori, and is a Jonah and the Whale masterpiece, using zipper skills.You all KNOW I love whales! This one is darling!


And a detail shot of the hand-stitched Jonah and the fun machine-stitched wave pattern. Yay, Glori for using some cotton among the felt! And Jonah, you're so cute.


Page Seven, by Natalie, who used some soft flannel to back her scene, and set up her barn atop that. Open the bard doors and you have.... FINGER PUPPETS!


A detail shot of those hand-stitched finger puppets. Don't ask me how I ended up with two pigs. I swear I had a third animal and not two pigs... but.... Hm. Anyone out there have two cows or something? Wanna trade?


Page 8-9 is another great page by either Amy or Kadee, or maybe by both of them working together? It features kites and snaps, a color-match activity.


A detail shot of the stitching--- I LOVE the clouds and the darling ties on the kitestrings. 


Page 10 is by a friend of Tori's-- a master of Quiet Books, I might add. I don't know her name, because she contributed long-distance and we never actually met her, but I love both the pages she made for us. This is the first one, a mailbox with a postcard and a letter that can be tucked in. 


The detail shot of the mail. Stamps and everything! 


Page 11, another Amy/Kadee contribution, has hands-stitched shape outlines and snap-on colored shapes to match. Sorry again, girls, that I can't remember who did which one!


Page 12 is by my dear friend Michelle. She hand-hammered rivets for days to get her shoestring footballs completed. This page is designed to teach lacing and tying.  

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Page 13, the Tic Tac Toe page, is by Natalie, and features a ric-rac game grid and velcro-backed shapes for the game of tic-tac-toe. I added the polka-dot pocket afterwards so there was a good place to keep the shapes when not in use.


Page 14 is the second contribution from Tori's friend, the one I don't know. It might be my favorite of the whole book. I mean, check out this treasure chest! With an actual little gold padlock and key!


My favorite part of this whole project, honestly, is remembering each of the girls, my friends, who contributed. Most of them have moved away from St. Louis, wives of grad students/med students/etc. who have continued on their professional journeys... But this happened in a wonderful season of fellow-mom-friends all living in the same church congregation, a time in our lives I loved and miss... And this lovely book will always be special to me because it represents that era, and those friendships. 

And now that it's finally been photographed, I'm going to let my kids love it til it's worn, and yes, pilled... That's what it was made for. 

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Thursday, July 10

On the Edge of the World: Newport Beach

Just the last few photos from our trip to CA at the beginning of June... On our last night in CA, we drove to Newport Beach with the Hess's, three goals in mind:

1. Show the ocean to our kiddos, up close
2. Shoot a family session for Melanie & Co. 
3. Get some grub

We made it just in time for gorgeous sunset light, and though it was windy and a bit chilly, we all had a great time running in and out of the surf, looking for bits of shell, and standing on the edge of the world looking into the Pacific expanse. Perfect. 
 
 







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Monday, June 30

Back Home Tonight


As I sit here, back home tonight at midnight after five incredible days in San Francisco with Joe (a tag-along on his advising conference business trip), I am zeroed in, not on the memories and adventures of this last week, but on my babies, sleeping peacefully upstairs in their  rooms. 

I am thinking about how the first thing both Joe and I wanted to do was to sneak into their rooms to tuck them in, kiss their cheeks, maybe even wake them  a little just to tell them we are home. How we did just that, side-by-side, together like we have gotten to be all week. Joe leaning over Lucy as I leaned over Noah, then trading spots... Both of us then tiptoeing into Quinn's room to watch him smile in his sleep as Joe replaced his binkie and lovey.

I am thinking about how, no matter how grand the adventure, how restful the break, no vacation can compare to the deeper current of joy in the dailiness of this backbreaking, heart-tugging work of parenting little kids. I adored the time with just Joe--- reveled in the freedom and excitement of adventuring in a magical city-- but this, right here? Home again, everyone asleep and at peace, safe, together? That is a deep deep joy. This is what life is about for me. 

I cannot wait for them to wake tomorrow so we can share our adventure stories with each other.... Them telling me all about "Grandparent Camp"-- their 5 marvelous days at my parents' house-- and me telling them about the lanterns in Chinatown and the cable car drivers on steep hills, and the seagulls at the Wharf and about the fog... I cannot wait to give them the trinkets we bought for them because they were on our minds constantly while we were away. 

I am thinking about Joe, sleeping now, having to dive back into his workweek with no break from the go-go-go of his past week... And feeling so in love with him. As a husband, as a dad, as a good-looking guy... as my partner-in-crime. 

And I am just..... really at peace. 

Tomorrow, it'll be back to the noise and there will be unpacking and busy-ness and probably kids talking over one another and one or two of them shrieking a bit just because they can.... but it'll be my world, and my kids, and everyone back in their usual spots, and it will be perfect. 

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Some of the many photos my mom was so so good to keep posting all week on Facebook while she wrangled the trio. She is an angel. A Godsend. So is my dad. THANK YOU, Mom and Dad!!! ♥

 Above: Splash park fun  |  visiting Dad at the Law Library | Noah getting to guest-conduct at a convert | Lucy and Quinn  roaming the neighborhood


Above: Lucy gets a haircut | Noah gets to do an art project | outdoor dining one evening | Lucy at the Splash Park | picking blackberries with Grandpa | bedtime-clad baby boy

Saturday, June 21

That Time We Drove From Missouri to Disneyland, CA With Three Kids Six and Under.

One day, we rented a minivan, packed it to the gills, loaded up three kids ages 6 and under, and drove 1,802+ miles and went to Disneyland. 

In between Ballwin, MO and Anaheim, CA, there was:
  • Milestone presents for the kids
  • Rest stops in Topeka
  • Lots of DVDs
  • Very few car naps for Quinn
  • An overnight in Denver, CO
  • Colorado playdate with friends in the area
  • A minisession for a client-turned-friend in CO
  • Cupcakes
  • Lots of tossing the binkie over the side of the car seat (Ugh, Quinn.)
  • Swervy, curvy, gorgeous driving through the Rockies
  • Several nights in Utah, seeing loved ones
  • A gorgeous mountain minisession for a UT friend-turned-client
  • A UT playdate with several dear friends and family
  • A backyard campout with Aunt Mary
  • A gorgeous stroll around Temple Square
  • Kids bonding with kids of our friends
  • LOTS of good eats
  • An early-morning puking Lucy the day we were leaving for CA
  • Lots of puke between UT and CA
  • A Capriottis rest stop in Vegas
  • A family session for a friend-turned-client on a gorgeous Ventura beach
  • Food truck deliciousness afterwards in Ventura (puking had stopped about 8 hours before, thank goodness!)
  • A late late drive to Anaheim after food trucks

And then: 
 
Two FULL, wearying, marvelous, awesome delicious exhilarating days in Disneyland.

No, we didn't go in to see Mr. Lincoln. Sorry Mr. Lincoln. We only had two days, and there were more fun things to spend that time on. 

Like MINNIE! Lucy got to meet Minnie within minutes of entering the park. She was in HEAVEN. Oh gosh, the way she waved at her before and after meeting her. So sweet!

My favorite thing about Disneyland: Main Street. Hands down. It sets the tone and makes me feel like a kid again. Always. 


Our first ride this time: Small World. Because back in 2009, it was almost-2-year-old Noah's absolute favorite ride. And we knew that Lucy and Quinn would fall in love, too. Plus the line was still short. 





Oh, our kiddos were SO good. So so good. And even with Quinn giving in to a stroller nap (!!), he still took a second nap later in the afternoon when we trekked back to our vacation condo for naptime. 


She may look uncertain, but mark my words-- she LOVED meeting the characters. Every time. ♥


(And when we snuck back into Pooh's corner after the characters had gone for the day, I got some of my favorite photos from our time in Disneyland. I mean, a bunny-girl like Lucy, plopped into Rabbit's Garden? I die.)


Because we had done a midday naptime, we kept them at the park late, to see the fireworks. And I cried. Like I did last time. Like I probably always will. It's seriously just so magical. I'm not being snarky here. I LOVE the feeling I get as I watch the fireworks and the show accompanying them. 

And I mean--- Main Street at night? Still my favorite. 


So then: Day Two. Best decision of Day Two? Paying $17 to park at the shuttle lot instead of walking the 1/2 mile from our condo to that parking lot. Because that 1/2 mile in the morning, then before midday nap time, then after midday naptime, then at the end of the day? TOO MUCH. WORTH $17 to avoid on Day 2. 

So Day 2, because we did that little thing, was JUST as fun and grand and good and perfect as Day 1. 


 
(Lucy works on convincing Holland to do the ONE posed portrait I'd planned for our trip to Disneyland.)
 
 This one:

And they just stayed so cute, that I kept snappin'. 

Because did I mention we dragged our dear friends, the Hess's, to Disney with us? we split the vacation rental and just had SO much fun sharing this trip with them.
Can you blame us for lovin' them? Oh, Hess girls. ♥ ♥ ♥



Oh Princesses.....

Oh Noah, putting fingers into skull eye holes. (We LOVED the Pirate's Lair island, formerly Tom Sawyer's Island. A great break for the kids to run around and explore freely without lines or fences... Quinn, especially, thrived in the freedom.)



Photo break, waiting for the raft to take us back to Mainland Disney. 

{Aside: after the island, we beelined to the First Aid office because I'd found a tick in Noah's hair. Probably a tick from Missouri or Colorado, since they're uncommon in UT or CA. Noah was freaked at the idea of a "procedure", but I was freaked at the idea of a clinger tick the rest of our visit... so we headed to First Aid, where Disneyland employs a handful of RNs to serve the miscellaneous needs of the park patrons. Needless to say, our tick issue was NOT an everyday thing for them. But Sue, our nurse, was AMAZING-- so good with Noah and his fear. She even gifted him "go straight to the front of the line" passes for a couple of rides as a reward for his bravery. This interlude was weirdly one of my favorite parts of our Disney trip. I love that they think of everything--- legit nurses in a legit clinical  setting... And have you guys been to the Baby Rooms? Oh gosh-- thoughtfully appointed areas for feeding and diapering your babies. The idea for the baby area was all Walt Disney's, from day one of Disneyland, and it is totally charming. ♥}

So then my girl met MICKEY! Another red-letter moment!! 


We took another midday nap break, this time just me with Quinn and Lucy (Hallelujah, $17 parking!! I love you like a sister!). Joe stayed in the park with Noah to do Jedi Training, and it was SO awesome. They sat through the presentation THRICE to try to get Noah up front to wear a brown Jedi robe and get to perform with Darth Maul and Darth Vader. And he finally got called up! Heaven!! (No photos from my big camera, sadly, because it was napping with me.)

When we reconvened, we happened to be in the right place at the right time for the evening parade, and though it hadn't been on our list of Must Sees, it ended up being one of our favorite parts of Day 2. Just seeing Lucy and Noah get so excited to see familiar characters, get caught up in the dancing and music... it was, to remain cliche, magical. So so magical. ♥

Then, because we'd done fireworks the night before, we just stuck around a couple more hours until dark, enjoying a few more rides and moments, and then we got a HUGE ice cream sundae and sat on Main Street in one of their plazas to enjoy it, everyone sharing spoons and tastes, and we headed home relatively early. (Oh, $17 parking-- we loved you in the evening, too. we really, really did.)

And then, at 2 in the morning, Lucy began throwing up again. After two full days without being sick. For now, let's just reflect on the Disney Miracle that she was perfectly well, as were our other kids, for the two full days we spent in Disneyland. We can talk about the ripple effects of her fresh bout of vomiting (remember the shared spoons just now?) another day. Another post. Or maybe never. Who really likes to talk about vomit? 

For now, we'll end on the high note of parade/ice cream/the lights of Main Street/the gloriousness of not walking home because we paid to park...  and we'll bask in a nearly-perfect family vacation to Disneyland, USA. We'll cover Part 2 next time: the beach, the friends, and the drive home.

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(Thank you for sticking around for the month I didn't post a dang thing. I'm back now, and hoping to get back to blogging once or twice a week. Stay tuned! Missed ya!)