baby’s three

We recently celebrated Luca’s 3rd (already?!) birthday. My brother-in-law’s birthday is the following day, so the boys were able to mark their special days together. Luca just loves his uncle and I think finds it very special to be able to share his birthday with him. It was a lovely little party, with just the grandparents and us in attendance. Lu had a great day, and I was so happy to see him having fun.

 
This little guy has changed my life in so many ways. He is loving, feisty, smart, funny, stubborn (have no idea where he gets that), challenging and delightful. I am having to learn how to be a mama all over again, but hopefully the experiences only he can give me will make me a better person and more versatile in my parenting skills! I can’t imagine my life without this sweet little man in it.

Oh, and since I always have to bring it back to the subject of food, this birthday cake was amazing. It’s a chocolate layer cake with strawberry filling, made vegan and free of gluten refined sugar (I did, however, use confectioners’ sugar in the frosting). I neglected to photograph it after it had been cut, so I’m not posting the recipe just yet. I plan to make another one for Tracy’s birthday this weekend, so that post will be coming soon.

 

Independence Trail

nature walking: the independence trail

We are so lucky to live where we do. Nevada County (that’s in CA!) is a beautiful place to grow up and raise a family, with so many things to do and see. I have lived here for most of my life, and still there are many areas of the land to which I haven’t been. We try to experience the natural splendor of our area as much as we can, and to teach our kids about the rich history of our town and its surrounding areas, all while having fun and enjoying the beauty of nature.

A few weekends ago we took a “hike” (really just a walk – the trail is very easy) along the Independence Trail just outside Nevada City, only about a 10 minute drive from our home. The trail crosses, and at times overlooks, the gorgeous South Yuba River, and the trail’s uniqueness is enhanced by the fact that it is wheelchair accessible, making it enjoyable for almost anyone.

The trail began as an abandoned miner’s ditch, previously known as the Excelsior Canal. It was built to carry water from the South Yuba river to hydraulic mining sites many miles downstream. After hydraulic mining was outlawed in 1884, the ditch was used for irrigation until 1967, when it was abandoned. In 1975 visionary naturalist, John Olmstead, spearheaded the transformation of the ditch, berm, and the wooden flumes into this local treasure now known as the Indepndence Trail.

Independence Trail

Independence Trail

Independence TrailIndependence Trail

Independence Trail

Independence Trail

bavarian china finger plate

grace henry vintage

My mom and I have been working together to get a little shop going on Etsy, and it’s finally up! We’re very excited to be working together on something that is really enjoyable for us. We’re selling vintage and antique finds with no real theme in mind, just things that we love and think someone else may love too. We’ll be adding many more items soon, and a little further down the road we’ll start selling vintage inspired goods, handmade by us.

Shop:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/GraceHenryVintage

Blog:  http://www.gracehenryvintage.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/gracehenryvintage

Here are a few of my favorites that are currently for sale in the shop. I hope you’ll check it out!

xo

art nouveau poppy vase

art nouveau amphora poppy vase

vintage italian scarf

vintage italian scarf

victorian silent butler

victorian silent butler

vintage patent clutch

vintage patent clutch

platinum rimmed tumbler set

summer’s early end (and more embroidery)

Well, here it is again: the first day of school. I remember when I was of school age, summer vacation began at the start of June and didn’t end until the after Labor day – a full three month stretch. Now, where we live at least, it’s right around two months, which seems painfully short to me. It was a great summer this year, though. It was the first summer since Bella was 17 months old that I was able to spend it at home with her. Being home with the kids is fantastic and hard and fun and exhausting (did I mention that I’m tired?), but mostly it’s wonderful, and really is just what I have always wanted. I am extremely grateful to be here with them, and to have been able to be fully present for Bella’s summer break.

Our last little trip of the summer was to Portland, Oregon. My youngest cousin on my father’s side was married in Salem, so Bella and I took the trip up with my parents to attend the wedding and visit for a few days with family afterward. I love it up there. It’s cool and green and wide, wide open, with rivers, mountains and farms, all near the beautiful city of Portland. I have long dreamed of leaving California for someplace farther north, and this area in particular is very appealing to me.

We had wonderful visiting time with my lovely Aunt, Uncle and cousins who live up there; they are warm and generous, and so much fun. I so wish we were nearer to them so that our connection could grow deeper – they really are some of my most favorite people on Earth.

For my cousin’s wedding gift, I wanted to embroider towels like I did for Nat & Buck, but I couldn’t seem to come up with a design that I thought was appropriate. I am not at all sure of their personal tastes, since we live so far from one another and the age difference between myself and my cousin is relatively large. They had designed their wedding invitations in a very particular way though, using symbols and styles that I though must be expressive of their taste, since it was all so unique. So, not really knowing the meaning of all of the included designs, I decided to use them, in their chosen colors, on the towels instead of the usual girly stuff I would be inclined to include.

I drew the designs from the invitation at a larger scale onto tracing paper, then went over the drawings with a transfer pencil. I then used an iron to transfer them to the towels. Easy.

Though to me they’re not necessarily the prettiest towels I have ever seen, they were made with love and I hope they are meaningful to Kara & Kevin.

sweet surprises

Yesterday we attended a backyard party celebrating the upcoming birth of a new baby girl, yet to be named. She has chosen for her parents the loveliest, most genuinely kind and full-of-love people I know. We were blessed to have been included in the lovely event, where friends and family gathered together to celebrate them and the new life they have lovingly created. Little did we know that what we had already considered to be the perfect day would be made utterly so by a surprise wedding, known ahead of time by only close family members and a few involved friends. The ceremony was gorgeous and touching and I couldn’t contain my tears of delight.

In token of my love for the beautiful couple and their sure-to-be surpassingly beautiful baby girl, I made these little booties. I love summer, and friends, and parties and surprises, and love itself… almost as much as I love baby feet.

Here’s to all those things.

I created these baby shoes using a pattern from Amy Butler’s Little Stitches for Little Ones. It has tons of awesome baby stuff in it; my little guy has a several things made from patterns found inside. If you have or know babies that you’d like to sew for, you will get so much use from this great book.

looks like we made it

On the first day of this month, my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. This in itself is an accomplishment, but my pride in it is magnified by the fact that we very nearly didn’t make it. I won’t go into all of the reasons why; suffice it to say that marriage is hard. It’s hard no matter what – and it’s harder still when you may have been too young when you married, may have became pregnant too soon afterward, then subsequently faced stresses and losses and inner demons you definitely didn’t know how to fight.

our wedding day, june 1, 2002

I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason – I am acutely averse to the notion that life has been laid out for us, planned ahead of time by god or the cosmos, and that we must bear terrible things in order for blessings (known or unknown) to be handed out on the other side. I do, however, believe that good can come from almost anything, and that we can take lessons from our pain. None of us is immune to suffering, but we all deserve joy, and there are many ways by which it may be obtained. I found it by valuing the needs of my own soul, setting aside my want for acceptance in the eyes of others, and working hard for what I love the most.

Though I knew very little about what we were in for, I married Tracy because I loved him deeply. Ten years later my love for him and our family is exponentially deeper, truer, and full with knowledge, trust, comfort and courage.

silly self-portrait ~ the only picture of us together during our trip

We celebrated our anniversary by taking a trip to San Francisco, our first time getting away together since our honeymoon. It was lovely and I’ll treasure it always, holding the memory of it closer knowing that it almost didn’t happen – but together we made it so, and I am grateful.

san francisco at dusk, 2012

san francisco croissant french toast

The summer I was pregnant with Luca, Trace and I decided to take Bella on a little family vacation – the last one that would be with just the three of us, before her little brother arrived. We took a week and went to San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Monterey. We visited museums, beaches, watched sunsets and ate great food.

bella & mama, sf

bella & mama, sf

bellabird

bellabird

daddy & bella on the beach

daddy & bella on the beach

mama & bella on the beach

mama & bella on the beach

monterey sunset

monterey sunset

Our  last morning in San Francisco we drove around the city trying to decide on a place to eat breakfast. Tracy finally consulted Yelp on his iPhone, and we chose this little restaurant in the Sunset – I can’t recall the name, but I should have written it down (or better, tattooed it on my palm). It was about the size of my walk-in closet, and had four tables crammed inside. The husband and wife running it were so sweet to Bella and seemed very proud of their little place.

We had amazing breakfasts, all of us – I don’t remember what Trace and I ate though, only what Bella had. It was incredibly delicious french toast made with croissants. I have no idea of their recipe, but the dish started something for us – I came up with a recipe, and a couple times a year I splurge on croissants and make this for Tracy and the kids. I have also made it for Christmas brunch a couple of times, and all who taste it are delighted.

We had a few croissants left over from Bella’s birthday, so I made this special treat yesterday morning.

INGREDIENTS

  • croissants, 3
  • eggs, 5 large
  • coconut milk, 2 tablespoons
  • cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon
  • vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon
  • honey, 1 teaspoon
  • almond butter, 1 tablespoon
  • butter

METHOD

  1. Slice the croissants in half lengthwise.
  2. In a wide bowl, whisk the eggs together with all other ingredients.
  3. Heat some butter in a large pan over medium heat.
  4. Soak the croissants in the egg mixture before transferring them to the hot pan. If you have any egg mixture left over after soaking all of the croissants, you can pour it over those in the pan.
  5. Cook both sides of the toast until golden brown, a few minutes on each side.
  6. Top with just a little butter and syrup if you like – yesterday I served these with Wild Maine Blueberry syrup. Yum!

a beautiful birthday

Somehow nine years have passed since I gave birth to to sweetest, most beautiful girl in the world.

It really does seem like just a moment ago I was holding her tiny body in my arms for the very first time, those big blue eyes staring back at me, so impossibly calm and wise.

Bella has given me so much these past nine years, and I only hope I can teach her half of what she so beautifully teaches me each and every day. I am so proud to be her mama.

We had a fun weekend celebrating, first by playing miniature golf and riding go-carts at the local fun park along with two of B’s girlfriends. The next day, her birthday, we had a small family party at our house, where we served some of her favorite foods: turkey and bacon croissant sandwiches, fresh berries, cold shrimp, and lemon cream cake with raspberries.

I sewed a banner with her name on it to go along with a few other decorations, including a bouquet of wildflowers I picked in our yard.

birthday banner

birthday banner

wildflowers

wildflowers

It was a beautiful day for a beautiful girl. Happy birthday, my sweet.

Oh yeah! Stay tuned for the lemon cake recipe, which I’ll post tomorrow.

love, marriage & needlework

Two of my favorite people will be married next month, and the bride’s shower was yesterday. I spent last week embroidering tea towels for her, and I think they came out cute! I used transfers from Jenny Hart’s Sublime Stitching Craft Pad, which has lots of fun patters to stitch. Next I think I’ll make some of my own!

embroidered tea towels

embroidered tea towels

Nat & Buck are having their wedding in Mexico, with only a few attendees, so I won’t be present for the event. I can’t wait to see pictures of this uncommonly beautiful couple on their special day. Here are some wedding photos that are particularly special to me.

wedding day

my wedding day, 6.1.2002

lindsey & jake

my sister & brother-in-law, 8.1.2009

mom and dad

my mom and dad, 8.16.1975

Yay for love!

lucky me

I had a minor surgical procedure last week, so excitement around here has been at a minimum. Since no blog worthy events have taken place, I’ll just post this recent family picture, and say how incredibly lucky I am to have the most amazing husband and kids in this wide, wide world. They have taken such sweet care of me whilst I convalesce!

family, 2011

family, 2011