catastrophic happiness & fear of flying

On Sunday morning, I opened up the SF Chronicle Books section (yes, we still read a "paper" paper in my house) and was awfully pleased to see a photo of Catherine Newman along with this review of her recently published collection of essays. ("Good morning, Catherine. Would you like some coffee?")

Catherine's work is regularly published in Real Simple Magazine, Oprah, Brain Child, the NYT parenting blog Motherlode, and you can read a recent essay over at Motherwell Magazine.  Her essays are fierce, wise, poignant & funny all at once; this quote, included by Malena Watrous in the SF Chronicle review, is vivid and evocative in a way that seems particular and specific to Catherine's writing.

“Cut me open and I’m a tree trunk, rings of nostalgia radiating inward. All the years are nested inside me like I’m my own personal one-woman matryoshka doll. I guess that’s true for everybody, but then I drive everybody crazy with my nostalgia and happiness. I am bittersweet personified.”

Warning :: I loved this book so very much, and also mailed a copy of it to my mother for her birthday (which is tomorrow). However, if you have a Fear of Flying (and I'm not referring to the Erica Jong novel), do not read this book while cruising at 35,000 feet with a warm, soft child curled up on either side of you.  This book makes one so very aware of the preciousness and fragility of those very children; and hurtling through the heavens while reading Catherine's book, with nothing but clouds between my babies and the earth was nearly too much to bear.


a landmark day

 Yesterday was a landmark day...

  My kindergartner learned to ride his bicycle without training wheels!

And just because he's adorable, here's a photo of my big son up a tree. (Did you know that boys grow on trees? Mine do.)  I don't get many photos of him these days; he's busy tromping around with his group of lanky friends who, in the fashion of Hansel and Gretel, rummage around my kitchen and then leave trails of crumbs behind them, as though they might need guidance finding their way back to the food cupboards for more snacks (and in sisyphean fashion, I follow after them, thrusting brooms and dustpans into their enormous, grubby hands, while enduring their bewildered looks with good humor).

And don't forget -- tomorrow is the final day to add your name to the give-away for this charming book.  Details can be found HERE.


blog tour :: pipsqueaks

FTC Compliant Disclosure:  I was given a free digital copy of this book by C&T Publishing to facilitate participation in the blog tour.

Today I am participating in a blog tour for Sally Dixon's book Pipsqueaks: itsy-bitsy felt creations to stitch & love.  The full blog-tour schedule is posted at the end of this post, and there is also a *give-away* (details of which also appear at the end of this post). In fact, there is a *give-away* at every stop of the blog tour, so if you are interested in winning a free copy of this darling book, I urge you to follow along and visit each blog on the tour over the next 5 days!

When I was a child, my favorite toys were all tiny: I stitched tiny dresses for tiny dolls and had a small collection of ceramic figures made by Hagen-Renaker. I would have enjoyed creating items from Pipsqueaks: itsy-bitsy felt creations to stitch & love as a child, and clearly some things never change. As you can see, just last week I had a great time creating tiny elephants from this book.

And if you are an enthusiast of the book If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, it will make perfect sense to you that, "If you sew a tiny elephant, he's going to ask for a tiny clown. And when you make him a tiny clown, he will probably ask for a silly hat.  And when the hat is finished, he will certainly ask for a tiny tassel to go on the very top of the silly hat."

No sooner did I blink, then I realized that I had the start of a tiny circus parade marching across the kitchen table.  As you can see, Sally's pipsqueaks and my peg dolls get along very well together, indeed.

Besides, tiny elephants, there are clear and detailed instructions for creating winsome mice, a budgerigar puppet, tiny dogs, bunnies & kittens, plus designs for two different koalas and a platypus in a peekaboo bed.  Yes, Sally Dixon (the author of Pipsqueaks) is Australian, and several of the designs in this book reflect her country of origin.  I especially love the embroidery and applique instructions for creating eucalyptus blossoms (there are two perfectly detailed eucalyptus designs; one on page 30 and the other on page 56).  To me, the inclusion of koalas, a platypus and eucalyptus adds an exotic variation from the usual flora and fauna (exotic for an American reader, anyhow).

In addition to clear patterns and instructions, I found some excellent crafting advice in this book.  For example, Sally suggests using small, sharp embroidery scissors for cutting out tiny, detailed pattern pieces; when I read this, I smacked my hand to my forehead and thought to myself, "Why didn't I think of this years ago?"  Sally also advises enlarging the patterns on a copier machine for readers who find tiny patterns too fussy; this advice is likewise given for children who are first being introduced to needle-skills.

Now for the *give-away*: please leave a comment on this post (and make sure I can contact you via email) for an opportunity to win a copy of Pipsqueaks: itsy-bitsy felt creations to stitch & love by Sally Dixon.  A winner will be randomly chosen from the list of comments below on Monday, May 23rd, 9:00 p.m. PST.  If the winner is in the USA, they will receive a hard copy of the book, and if the winner is outside the USA, they will receive a digital copy.   You can find the full blog tour schedule below, and don't forget: there will be a give-away at every stop on the blog tour. Thank you to C&T Publishing for generously sponsoring the give-aways!

Comments for this give-away are now closed.  Thank you to everyone for participating, and congratulations to #34 -- Lisa Marie.  I hope you enjoy making lovely, tiny things from Pipsqueaks!

11th May 2016

11th May 2016
Margaret Bloom

12th May 2016
Karen Wasson

13th May 2016
Joanna Riley

14th May 2016
Anna Day

15th May 2016

16th May 2016
Sally Dixon