Friday, May 16, 2008

Favorite Things: Wooden Baby Rattles

Readers know my love for wooden toys. I particularly love to give my babies quality wooden rattles. But a typical Haba or Selecta rattle (to pick two of the best German-made companies) costs about $10-$15. Getting around this cost barrier has always been a problem. So what I did was to buy an expensive rattle every Christmas or Easter for the baby in the family. Now, after seven babies, I have a bit of a collection! I don't take them out of the house, and store them away as soon as the baby's done with them. Here are some of the ones that have survived: they make a cheerful collection in a basket near the baby's bed.

I tried to look these up online but discovered lots of them are no longer in production! However, there are lots of similar ones still to be found. Clockwise from the Rabbit (who was a gift from Italy: I have no idea where to get him!): a discontinuted whirly rattle, "Trix" (from Magic Cabin Dolls), "Moby" (the fish, from MonkeyBeanToys, which is a fun toy for grownups as well), "The Ring of Clowns" (which I got from a boutique store, but can't find online), a discontinued wooden ball similar to this one on Amazon), a discontinued HABA spiral rattle, and a discontinued round rattle (similar to this one from Selecta).

Also don't forget to consider the "Sqwish" rattle, which I've found twice at thrift stores, and which is the best 'first' rattle. Infants love it because it looks so big but yet is so light for them to pick up. For good deals, check eBay and (most recently) Amazon. Just search under "Haba" or "Selecta" and you'll find lots to choose from! And if the prices put you off, remember that your baby will be delighted with just one of them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Purse Diary: I Won It!

I thought I'd start a little diary about my quest for a summer purse. Seeing that patchwork is "in" this season, I thought I'd try my hand at making a patchwork purse, since I can't decide on a color. Maybe with brown trim and lining ... can't decide!

The first step was accquiring the fabric, and of course, it had to be Liberty of London. Above are the 100 squares I just won on ebay from "Penny" in England. She emailed this morning to say she'd just "posted" them this morning (ah, the British!). I will be anxiously awaiting them: my goal is to make the purse before the Illinois Homeschool Conference on May 23 (which we leave for on the 22nd). Will I succeed? Only time will tell. The race to find the other materials I need begins now.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Vintage Catholic Cards

Although they were never a part of my post-Vatican II childhood, pastel images of Catholic devotional subjects were very much a part of my mother's growing-up, and, being a daily communicant from an early age, she held onto them and passed on several pieces to me. They resonate with the child within me: although I prefer sterner and starker images of the Divine, I love the homey and comforting prettiness of these images, that reminds me of Tasha Tudor's illustrations.

I finally got a chance to frame this sympathy card of the Crucifixion, which is inscribed "To Regina" on the reverse (Regina is my aunt). I had it on my dresser during Lent. I paired it with a newer version of an old image: thanks to the resurgence of interest in vintage Catholic memorabilia, I was given this pretty card along with a baby medal of Our Lady when one of my children was born.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Fabric Homage: Briarwood by Liberty of London

Allow me to indulge my inner fabric geek: last night while searching on ebay for Liberty of London fabric, I stumbled across this swatch on ebay: a 1970's reproduction of the William Morris pattern "Briarwood" on linen. As you can see, I have a hard time resisting red roses and green thorny vines...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Spring: Creamed Honey

The turning over of the seasons brings the warmth of spring, and with it, sometimes unpleasant ordeals, such as allergies. For a long time I had been told that eating locally-grown honey can help temper seasonal hay fever, but as much as I liked the concept, I found it hard to eat honey, which is too sweet for my taste and usually involves a sticky mess (especially with children). By happy accident I picked up a bottle of creamed honey from the organic food store, and discovered bliss. Creamed honey is the same as regular honey, but it's whipped so as to be spreadable. It's perfect on toast in the morning with tea.
And since another unpleasant reality of the spring weather is a return to dieting, creamed honey has made my enforced abstinence from jam--shall we say, sweeter?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Novena to the Holy Spirit Starts Today

Just a reminder that Pentecost is nine days away, so the "original" novena (nine days of prayer) starts today. I'm marking the day with a picture of these flaming-orange kaffir lilies which bloomed in the garden of writer Christy Scanell earlier this month. Thanks for sharing, Christy!

From a Novena to the Holy Ghost:

Oh, rend the heavens, and come down, consoling Spirit! that inspired and encouraged by Thee, I may faithfully comply with the duties of my state, carry my daily cross most patiently, and endeavor to accomplish the divine will with the utmost perfection. Spirit of love! Spirit of purity! Spirit of peace! Sanctify my soul more and more, and give me that heavenly peace which the world cannot give. Bless our Holy Father the Pope, bless the Church, bless our bishops, our priests, all Religious Orders, and all the faithful, that they may be filled with the spirit of Christ and labor earnestly for the spread of His kingdom.