30 September 2009

little white dress

Currently, and whenever I fleetingly thought of wedding dresses in the past, I am drawn to knee-length versus one of floor-sweeping proportions. I know long is classic, but I'd like something a little more fresh and modern. These Amsale dresses are lovely, though none is exactly quite right. But maybe if I take a little detailing from each, I could get one commissioned.

And I still adore that Oscar de la Renta dress Carrie wore...divine! Maybe for the reception (I can only dream)...

And while the thought of a veil sounds a bit too bridey for me, I have really taken to this vintage-style bird-cage veil

And here's a pretty (Amsale) bridesmaid dress

28 September 2009

all things divine

Today I baked this most delicious Roasted Lemon Cake with Lavender Syrup, sourced from the latest Cuisine magazine. Lemons are caramelised before being layered on the bottom of the tin (with some reserved for the cake batter). Lavender syrup (made from sugar, water and lavender flowers) is drizzled over at the end and also before serving. This is a three step cake, but so worth the effort. The syrup and roasted lemons totally make this cake.

Also (more baking), I made a second batch of Cardamom, Cashew and White Pepper Shortbread (sourced from Viva). Except I didn't have any white peppercorns, and as I am staying away from cashews while nursing (B's mother is allergic to them, genetics, etc, etc) my version was Cardamom, Almond and Black Pepper - this is undoubtedly the loveliest shortbread I have ever tasted. My mother is the shortbread queen (everyone has a signature dish), so I will be interested in her take on them.

And last, and by no means least, my little red-cheeked wonder that is Audrey, and her hyper-speed sister Lucy (addicted to contorting and binding herself up with that pink headband).

23 September 2009

Lou dress

A woollen dress for the cooling weather. I think this is such a great wool check fabric, I was so pleased when I came across it. It lends strength to a girly dress, balancing it all out. Yin, yang, that sort of thing.

19 September 2009

a surprise

Yesterday, beneath Spring's beautiful cherry blossom, Brendan proposed!

Up until now I've always straddled the fence on marriage (Brendan too), but I have totally surprised myself by how I feel now that I am engaged. It feels so good! We both say we feel more united.

I think I now finally realise what people were talking about when they would say it's the ultimate commitment. (And I thought kids were...)

My parents were thrilled, and my Aunt who has been asking me on and off over the years 'do I need to buy a hat?' said, poetically, 'thank Christ for that!'. Okay, we're slow, we get it. We think it's just the right time though.

We have six to seven months to plan for the day and, given my past (lack of) interest in weddings and marriage, I really have no idea where to start. Does anyone know of any great resources (magazines, websites, blogs, anything...).

16 September 2009

weekender shirt

So I finally put down the baby books and finished this shirt. Funny how with some garments, I've only half an hour's work to complete it yet it'll take me four days to get there.

Now to make seven, one for each day of the week. There's no point in making life difficult, right? I have a few on offer in the shop in this fabric (from Karen Walker's stash, no less). The late Winter light is playing tricks on me - the shot above is spot on, colour-wise.

15 September 2009

my shifting perspective

Okay, I wasn't planning on writing more on baby sleep, though this post kind of is and it isn't.

Things are going quite good with regards Audrey sleeping through the night. I have to ask though, why are we all so obsessed with getting young babies to sleep through? Yes, I'm sure we mothers would feel much better for it, and unless your dealing with more than one or two brief feeds and a baby who settles herself, surely it is manageable? Or is that just the crazy in me speaking? I've flicked through so many baby sleep books (I'm convinced they actually do all say the same thing, just in a different way), and think if you could own shares in this baby sleep business you'd be filthy rich. There is definitely an expectation out there that an infant of six months should not be waking during the night, but I really do believe that if you are fine with it then what's the problem?

Audrey often wakes up at either 8.30 or 9.30pm, after going to bed around 6pm. Sometimes, particularly when I am tired (hm, which is most of the time), I get annoyed that she wakes, knowing she has had solids and two lots of nursing sessions. But last night, just prior to her waking, one of those world vision-type ads screened and I couldn't get up to Audrey's room fast enough! Talk about putting things in perspective; a sick/dying child versus a baby who wants a brief feed. I notice these adverts now, and the stories in the paper about other people's kids, and blogs dedicated to a child departed (these I don't look for but somehow I still occasionally find them). I was much more resilient before having children. I didn't really notice this sort of thing, but now it comes at me full force.

So when other women ask two of the most overused questions, "is she a good baby" - no, she's pure evil - or "sleeping through the night...?" I can't wait to say 'she's perfect, thanks'.

at the Wintergardens again...

11 September 2009

thoughts on baby sleep

Firstly, please know that by writing this I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination, and what I’ve covered below only touches on the main issues I’ve experienced to date. Hopefully, though, someone out there benefits from some of this as I know first-hand how perilously close to the edge one is pushed when sleep doesn’t frequent…

Regular Day Naps

I’m a big fan of babies having regular naps in their bed. I’ve never found Audrey slept well in a carseat or buggy, and pretty much since birth I’ve been quite strict on her daytime naps to the point of being a reclusive homebody a lot of the time. Hey, I sew, I don't need company!

With Audrey being an early waker (something I’m working on), her first nap of the day is around 7.30 – 8am, and she sleeps for around 2.5 hours. She is then up for two-ish hours, with her next sleep starting around 12.-12.30pm. She then sleeps for another 2-2.5 hrs. When she wakes at around 2.30-3pm she’s then up until bedtime, which for her is now 5pm.


This is basically the ability of the child to fall asleep unaided – ideally no dummy, music, feeds, rocking, etc. If they need help to fall asleep at bedtime then they’re gonna need it at 2am too. I’ve just kicked the nursing to sleep habit. I thought I was putting her down awake, but in hindsight maybe she was in too much of a drowsy state even though her eyes were open. Now I try to finish a feed at least 5-10 minutes prior to bedtime. On those occasions where I don’t have time, then after her feed I walk around briefly, sometimes out into the light, and then put her to bed. She’s sufficiently awake yet settled.

I read that once your baby masters self-settling you may have a tot that sleeps through the night within two weeks. Woohoo!! This works for most, but not all, babies. Though if your baby has been waking frequently during the night, you’d hopefully see a big reduction in that respect as they’ll be able to put themselves back to sleep without the rocking, nursing, music, etc…

Getting the bedtime at the right time

Of all the books I’ve read, 7pm is touted as the ideal bedtime (though they do say anytime between 6-8pm is the norm). Well it turns out Audrey’s ideal time to go to bed – that is, no fussing, and the onset of tired signs - is 5pm. Yes, 5pm. Sounds ridiculously early doesn’t it. I remember in the early months I put her down for a late sleep at close to 5pm, and she was still sound asleep at 10.30pm – I was busy fretting whether to wake her for a feed or not. She’d never slept this long! For some reason I abandoned the 5pm bedtime, and tried for a later time, but only since I’ve started this again has she been more settled and gone to sleep without a fuss.

Books say to shift the bedtime slightly earlier each night until you achieve a relatively fuss-free bedtime. Tonight she went down at 5pm, and woke at 8pm for a feed. I treat that as a tanking-up feed, and so long as she feeds well (and doesn’t dither) and goes straight back to sleep I am fine with that.

Early Wakers

I think often parents believe if their child wakes up too early in the morning, then logically if they want them to sleep later they then put them to bed later. But no, apparently the answer is more biological rather than logical – trying an earlier bedtime should in fact (in time) encourage them to wake up later in the morning. Many books swear by this.

Lately, Audrey has been waking sometimes as early as 5.15am. The culprit could be the surprise she has for me in her nappy, though after changing her I never even considered trying to resettle her until I read it. If she does this now, I do the job and then put her back in her cot until 6am. We then get up. I read that by feeding your baby at that time, they come to expect it and it can then even cause them to wake earlier. Heaven forbid!

Lucy often wakes around 6am too (sometimes the scary side of 6am), and this one book suggested for early waking toddlers setting a nightlight to come on at a respectable waking hour by way of a timer. Even if they’re playing in their room, they perhaps might continue playing rather than trotting out of their room and waking up the household. I had considered an alarm clock for Lucy, but then thought what if she sleeps later than the alarm? I quite fancy the night light-on-a-timer idea.

And some random tidbits of advice for you to take or leave (as is the case regarding anything within this post):

Don’t be afraid to try something different if something’s not working. One author likened baby sleep to a jigsaw - you have to look at it as a whole (day naps, feeds, bedtime, etc). I think by changing one element though there is a ripple effect, e.g. simply by moving Audrey's bedtime earlier she sleeps much more soundly, and doesn't go to bed fussing.

When you do try something different, stick at it for four days and then assess.

Trust your instincts – you know your baby best.

Be patient.


Best of luck!

10 September 2009

hand me ups

Audrey was trying on clothes, new and old, the other day as some of Lucy's old handmade clothes were starting to fit. The Frenchy pants for one, and the yellow overalls. The overalls have a big 'L' emblazoned on them, as you can see. If I were Audrey, I would be asking for a big A. No-one likes to be play second fiddle. The knit is a few-years-old Marc Jacobs one, so thick and soft and in a cool sunflower yellow colour. I dare say Mum will send me an email declaring her dislike for the colour but I shan't be swayed.

The bowtie lap-tee is a first attempt (inspired by Betty's necklace). I am currently working on one for Lucy with a few changes, and it should look much more like the image in my mind. I think I need one too, an adult version.

As I was trying the outfits on, Lucy kept piping up 'ooh I like that one...'. So let me get this straight - 'hand-me downs' for Audrey, and 'hand-me ups' for Lucy?

3 September 2009

On baby sleep

A bit of a waffle here…

Heck, where do I start on this topic? I am convinced there are women out there who do everything right and have their babies sleeping 7 until 7 from the early months though frustratingly I am not one of them.

Lucy did from 10 weeks (I didn’t believe it until recently checking my scribbly breastfeeding notes from 3 years ago), though she did have top-ups of formula. These were initiated by a paediatrician in hospital and severely set back my ability to produce enough milk. Lucy’s birth was pretty stressful too and leaving the hospital severely anaemic (having turned down an offered blood transfusion) no doubt didn’t help matters at all, nor did the fact she was a weak feeder.

After tirelessly and tediously pumping day and night, at three months I managed to ditch the formula topups and return to exclusive breastfeeding. It’s infuriating how easily and casually Drs prescribe formula top-ups to unsuspecting mothers before breastfeeding is well established, knowing it is a case of supply and demand.

Audrey’s was an entirely different (much better) birth and breastfeeding came easily (apart from the mastitis and utterly annihilated nipples (sorry to those reading this who aren’t mothers…)). Milk supply was plentiful and Audrey was, and still is, a strong feeder.

In the early days, I nursed Audrey then put her to bed, at which point she was either very drowsy or asleep. You know you’re supposed to put them to bed awake but when I tried this she screamed and I soon learned that if I was to get any sleep then nursing her to slumber was what I needed to do to survive. Six months later I was still nursing her to sleep, which meant I was the only one who could put her to bed. Books like The Baby Whisperer say ‘feed then play then sleep’. But after feeding Audrey when she woke up and when she went down meant if I was to suddenly change to this recommended routine she would effectively miss out on a feed. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this other idea sooner, it’s so simple – finish her feed at least 15 minutes prior to bedtime. That was she gets that extra milk and is wide awake to self-settle. It’s only been four or five days but it’s going great. I am confident now Brendan can put her to bed without my help, which has to benefit everyone.

The book that helped me ‘fix’ this problem was Tizzie Hall’s Save our Sleep. She outlines some pretty strict routines, which to be honest I’m not really following but she did have other great advice such as what to do about early wakers, and getting regular nap times established. If you want the excerpt on early wakers, email me.

I borrowed a copy of this book from the library when I was at my wits end a month or two ago. As I searched for the book online I felt I was the only mother with a six month still not sleeping well at night until I saw all nine books were out! The copy I am due to return now has twelve people waiting for it. Haha, I am not the only one!

The funny thing is that Audrey has been an excellent day sleeper for quite some time (two sleeps of around 2.5 hrs each, plus the occasional late nap), so I didn’t want to change anything there. I kept asking myself, what is so different about the bedtime sleep versus the day naps and I now think she has a two hour limit wake-time and this includes the gap between her last nap and bedtime. Before this she might be staying up for 2.5 -3+ hours and was more difficult to settle and then slept fitfully.

A friend, whose baby slept through the night from an early age, only just mentioned that her baby sleeps only 1 hour max during the day. So I guess we may all be in the same boat after all, it’s just a trade off for either daytime peace or night time sleep.

Honestly, is there anything more complicated, yet so simplistic, than baby sleep?

Lucy, 8 days old - notice her legs? My goodness, she was a tiny thing.

2 September 2009


Lucy seems to be wearing a lot of size-too-small things to bed now so I thought some new pj's (or 'jammies', a word so naff it's cool) were well due. It's still nippy here at night, and I'm not keen on those big flannelette numbers with screeds of excess fabric just itching to catch alight by the heater or fire (I'm such a parent now!). In Winter I personally like to wear fine knit leggings to bed, as I utterly despise fabric bunching up when I am on to my umpteenth rollover. I sew 2" deep binding at the hem to ensure they don't ride up too. Do women (either sleeping alone or in long-term relationships) really maintain seductive sleepwear? Do I need to lift my game? (Is it a case of "if you have to ask"....)

Anyway, I found Lotta Jansdotta's printing book at the library the other day (though my Lena Corwin book sitting on the bookshelf would have been just as good) and thought I'd put a simple print on the front of Lucy's new pj's (sewn in a cotton/angora blend, lovely lovely fabric). We chose the simple egg print (there's a bunch of stencils at the back of the book), and Lucy wanted them in pink. A bit wobbly but I think it lends itself to the washed out print colour. Though now I have managed to source some freezer paper (very difficult to find here, but success came at a quilting shop in Onehunga - email me if you'd like the details) and this would do it to perfection.

Lucy likes the longer length of the top (I suggested cropping it a little - "no thankyou"), a bit like a slouchy tee I guess. I think she resembles a snow bunny wearing them with her boots.

So we're all happy campers now. Though no doubt Spring will suddenly arrive and we'll be stripping off the layers...