Wednesday, June 17, 2009

not the end...

...but a new beginning!

I have loved being here with blogger, but I've decided it's time for a change. So this blog will be moving!

Please bookmark our new blog site:

Hope to see you there!

:), Varenia

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


, originally uploaded by varenia.

Piper's favorite way to pass the time with me lately is doing hair. So I thought braid wednesday would be just up her alley. I don't know how creative I'll be able to be with her itty bitty baby hairs, but I'm up for the challenge.

Monday, June 8, 2009

woo hoo!

little mod dress pattern

I finally did it! After many urgings from internet-land, I have completed my first print at home pattern, The Little Mod Dress.

The process was completely foreign to me, and was definitely an amazing learning experience. Who knew how long it took to write instructions?! But now that I've done it, perhaps it's time for a tutorial or two here on the ol' blog.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Have you touched your toes today?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

far far away, work in progress


So, I have another creation in the works. Ever since Far, Far Away arrived at our house, it has been the topic of conversation among the little girls. After finishing Apple's princess and the pea dress, she almost immediately started asking for something with the pink frogs. And Piper slooowly draws the green unicorns off the shelf, oh-so-delicately, wraps herself up in it, and twirls around crying "wheeeee! preeeeetty!"

I searched through my stash for the perfect compimentary fabric to the green unicorns, and the task proved much trickier than I originally thought. Finally, I decided upon a green and blue floral from Jackie Shapiro's (now discontinued) Botanical Pop, one of my all-tiime favorite lines.

I can't wait to finish this creation and see it on! I already have plans for something similar for the shop, and possibly even in other colorways. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

fashion flashback

flashback #2, originally uploaded by varenia.

After hours of recovering photos and files from my old hard drive, I also found some old photos of my father-in-laws from when my husband was a boy. I just looove pictures of him from his childhood, and that mischievous twinkle that permanently resided in his eye!

I really love this shot taken in Honolulu, I believe in either '76 or '77. Richard's legs and socks slay me. (Although the legs still look pretty much the same, darn him.) And look how stylish my mother-in-law was (is.) Love her round-yoke dress, just the picture of 70's glamour. Tres chic!

Monday, June 1, 2009

duck duck goose

Inspired by my birdie girl, who especially loves ducks. I knew as soon as I saw this wonderful fabric by Lizzy House that a dress needed to be made. It'll be in the shop this evening.

Friday, May 29, 2009

thank-you bag

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, the girls and I whipped up a couple of drawstring bags, one for each of Rye's teachers. I was inspired by the bags in Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing, although I did not use the pattern in the book, rather I just cut a couple of rectangles and sewed my own little version together.

Since I only had about an hour parts of the bag turned out a little bit wonky, but perhaps that just adds to it's charm. At least that's what I'm telling myself today.

We stuffed them full of homemade cookies, and notes and drawings from the children, and presented them along with some flowers from the garden. All in all, I think it turned out pretty well. In fact, I'm thinking of sewing up some more little bags just to keep on hand to use for last minute gifts. I always have the intention of giving handmade, but sometimes I just don't have the time. This way, I can still give a little handmade and tuck a store bought item or some yummy baked something inside and voila.

By the way, this was my first time using Heat 'n Bond to applique the initial onto the bag... can I just say I love that stuff? It made the letter look so crisp and neat! I definitely see more applique-ing (is that a word?) in my near future.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

mamas, please read this post

" "Death by hyperthermia" is the official designation. When it happens to young children, the facts are often the same: An otherwise loving and attentive parent one day gets busy, or distracted, or upset, or confused by a change in his or her daily routine, and just... forgets a child is in the car. It happens that way somewhere in the United States 15 to 25 times a year, parceled out through the spring, summer and early fall. The season is almost upon us.

Two decades ago, this was relatively rare. But in the early 1990s, car-safety experts declared that passenger-side front airbags could kill children, and they recommended that child seats be moved to the back of the car; then, for even more safety for the very young, that the baby seats be pivoted to face the rear. If few foresaw the tragic consequence of the lessened visibility of the child . . . well, who can blame them? What kind of person forgets a baby?"
~ The Washington Post, 2009

What kind of person forgets a baby? A person like me. A person like any one of us.

I've heard of these tragedies where parents have accidentally forgotten their children in cars, with horrendous outcomes, but I must admit, there was always a small, tiny portion in the back of my brain protesting: "But I'm a good mother! How can anyone really ever forget about their child?"

Today I found out.

Today was a day like every other school day. I gathered the girls and Jack, and we drove to pick up Rye at kindergarten by 1:30. We were actually running a few minutes late, because Piper was tired and fighting me the whole way. We got Rye, and I noticed Piper was almost asleep, but probably needed a few more minutes so I decided to drive through and get an iced tea and go home. By the time we reached home, both girls and Jack were asleep. The outside temperature felt like mid-80s.

It's not uncommon for some or all of the kids to be asleep when we get home. I usually take them into the house one by one. I got Rye settled inside the house, went back for Apple, who was awake, got her settled inside, and went back for Piper. I knew Piper was exhausted, and that she'd stay asleep, so I immediately took her to her room and put her to bed, and then started helping the older kids get a drink and a snack. I got myself a snack. I started listening to Rye's funny school stories from today. And then I looked around.

It just hit me. Where is Jack?

Immediately, I ran out to the car parked in the driveway. It had already been probably somewhere between 15-20 minutes that we had been home. I have never been more scared.

Jack is okay now. He's safely sleeping and has probably forgotten the whole incident. But I will never forget. I will never forget his red, sweaty face and body, and his almost resigned moans. I can't help but wonder what could have happened if he'd stayed in that car for even 10 more minutes.

There are many articles on the subject, but the reason I like this Washington Post article in particular is that it really shares with us that this is a phenomenom that really can, truly, happen to anyone.

I am taking what happened today to be a wonderful gift, a lesson, urging me and my very busy brood to slow down. I am hoping you will all think about my story, and the infinitely more tragic stories of those who have lost children, as you buckle up your little ones this summer.

Friday, May 22, 2009

something new

A few of you have noticed the new "Shop Whole Grain Baby" icon in the sidebar to the left, and have probably been wondering if I am (redundantly) linking to my etsy shop.  

Well, I'm very excited to give you a sneek peek into the creation of the website we've been working on for a few months!  After (much) urging, primarily on the part of my husband, and much researching, we will be experimenting with maintaining our own site, as well as the etsy shop.  

This was a very difficult decision, particularly with the desire to be cost and time effective for a small home-based business like this one.  One of the things I love about the new site is that fact that it is sooo user friendly for the customer, and therefore, for me!  I think it's going to save tons of time emailing back and forth, clarifying sizes, payment issues, etc.  And along the lines of payment issues, one of the biggest requests I've had from customers is the ability to enter a coupon code for discounts, in lieu of the emailing back and forth (etsy-style) and then have to offer the discount as a refund, or spend (precious) time creating special reserved listings.  All of this is eliminated with the new site!  The ability to just enter a discount code upon checkout and automatically receive the savings I think will be a huge improvement!

The site is still bare-bones at this point, as we add items and work on layout, but it is live.  We anticipate on adding at least 5 (new!) items to the new site over the next 5 days (that will not be added to the etsy site), so I'd love it if you'd stop by and check it out!  And just for following this blog, enter the code PLAY15 and receive 15% off your total order!  (Since the site is still new, if you have any issues with the discount codes please let me know.)  I'd love to hear all of your feedback as well, or any suggestions!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Memory Jog

Did you ever participate in a Jog-A-Thon when you were in school perhaps? I know I sure did! But I don't think it was quite the event it is at Rye's school, complete with tres chic Jog-A-Thon t-shirts and a groovy tunes to motivate the runners to keep going!

Look at how hard these kids are running! I was so impressed by all of their persistence (and sheer energy!)

Look at this face! I'll think I'll start calling him Rye Prefontaine.... a future Olympic gold medalist, maybe?

Of course no event would be complete without spectators. While the girls and I cheered, high-fived, and ate lots of Cheez-Its, Jack ate lots of grass and squealed with excitement.

Finally, the running was over. Time to cool down and head over for some refreshments.

The girls were so tired you would think they were the ones who actually participated! Luckily my double stroller can easily accommodate three, so not only did Rye get quite the workout, but so did I. What a win-win day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

i got it from my mama

mother's day
Hope everyone had a wonderful (and relaxing!) Mother's Day! We spent the weekend in a little cabin in the Yosemite Mountains, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate this special day than to sit on a porch all day and watch my little ones come and go.

We had grand plans of hiking the falls, exploring the meadows, and sniffing out animal trails, but most of the plans were vetoed (by the smaller Jensens) and we mainly stayed close to "home" this year.

There were creations to be built.

There were stories to be read.

There were quality outings with Grandma.

There were games to be played.

There were sights to be seen.

There were babes to be snuggled.

Happy Mother's Day to all.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

baby pants

As soon as it started to get sunny I knew Jack was going to need some lightweight long pants that wouldn't be too hot, but keep his sweet little baby skin protected.  So I turned to this book, which I've had forever, but most of the projects seem to require much more time than this mama of four has these days.  So these little kimono pants, they're called, seemed like something quick and easy, and something he desperately needed. 
I repurposed an old tote bag that I made for Rye a year or so ago, and he never really got into using it.  The bag was made with three quarter yards of coordinating prints on each side, so the middle seams of my pants were already sewn together, I just had to cut the right amount for the trim, and I chose to alternate the prints (so the trim on the front is opposite the back, and right opposite the left) because I do love any sort of pant that reminds me of clown pants.  Yes, I do.  Everyone needs at least one pair of busy pants, right?  I may tone it down a bit on the next go around, though.

I found the pattern really simple and easy to follow.  I made the 9-12 month size (Jack is 6 months old), added an inch in length, but am finding the crotch/bum area to be a little more fitted than I would like. Something to consider if you have a round little one like mine, or if you cloth diaper.   I'll definitely add a little more room to the crotch when I make this again, but I'm pretty happy with how they've turned out.
And look what else is new here!  Front teeth!  Yep, the little guy now has top and bottom chompers.  He's had an awful time teething, probably more so than any of my others, and could probably use a lesson or two on the things we bite and the things we don't.... but like most milestones, I'm sure it's a much bigger deal to me than to him.  No more toothless grins, another of the newborn characteristics that I see fading every day.  Luckily my boy seems to be in no great hurry to grow up (or even sit up) and that is perfectly all right with me.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

princess & the pea

Finally! We had some cool days and I really wanted to photograph this dress outside, but we made do. Apple actually had a brilliant idea: "Mommy, why don't we get a bed and you can take my pictures like I'm the real Princess-in-the-Pea!" So cute. And I only cringed a little bit when she wanted to lie on all of my precious Far Far Away fabrics with her sandy toes.
It was so much fun to see this fabric take life, and I love the drape of the double gauze. So fun, especially if you have a girl who loves to twirl.

In hindsight there are a lot of things I'd do differently with this dress, and with the double gauze in general. I think in the future I'll really put more thought into the pattern I'm using to make sure the double gauze would be the best choice. I really wanted to use it on this dress, as Apple and I both love this style, but since the halter top requires lining I wouldn't do it this way again. I lined it with a coordinating Heather Ross polka dot, which really shows through the top and takes a little bit away from the beautiful outer fabric. I'd probably suggest if you choose a project that has to be lined to line it with a solid color double gauze, which I found at Superbuzzy. It's expensive, but I think the results would probably be worth it.

I've also heard a lot about the "stretchiness" of this fabric. It does have quite a bit more give than a quilting weight cotton, and even though I prewashed the fabric, I still encountered some problems, particularly in parts of the dress that required fabric cut on the bias. I normally never have any problems doing a simple hem, or side seams of a skirt, but I really had to almost fight to keep my fabrics aligned when sewing the skirt of this dress together, because of the bias cut. Something else to keep in mind when choosing a pattern.

All in all I'm pretty pleased, and can't wait to try double gauze again, maybe in a dress for myself for summer.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


froggy, originally uploaded by varenia.

Rye is studying a unit on frogs, can you tell?

Oh, and by the way, it's Wacky Wursday! We are wearing our finest wackies today, how about you?!

birthday girl

Apple's other special request, a yellow dress with a "touch" of pink and red.  She loooves how this dress turned out, and even slept in it yesterday.  I, on the otherhand, had a different idea I guess, because I wasn't thrilled with the dress.  I like it, but somehow the end product isn't quite in alignment with my vision, although I have yet to figure out where I went wrong.  Oh well, she likes it, and in fact is already putting her order in for her birthday dress when it's her "five birthday".  

Her birthday wouldn't be complete without some "apple" gifts, and the sweet blouse (above) was a custom creation from Victoria of Free Range Baby.  I discovered her shop while searching for some birthday gifts, and am so impressed with the quality, craftsmanship, and beautiful packaging.

Rye worked forever on such a special card for his sister, complete with all of the things she loves:  piggies, flamingoes, apples, hearts, flowers, balloons, sunshine, and cake.  I am loving that the children are getting old enough to make and plan and surprise each other.  Probably my best memories of this birthday was all of the "hush hush", planning, surprising, and thought that went into it, especially by Rye and Piper.  
I honestly never imagined four years ago that this girl would be so amazing.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

birthday prep

baking, originally uploaded by varenia.

Last night we stayed up sooooo late (like, 9 pm! hey, that's late for my sleepy kids) finishing Apple's special cake. She's been asking for this cake for about 6 months, for her birthday. A chocolate cake with a very yellow frosting.

So Richard, Master Cake Baker, planned, purchased, and baked with the littles til the wee hours. After a whole evening's excitement and looking forward to her Birthday Dinner, Apple eagerly dove into her yellow-and-chocolate concoction. And hated it.

I had a feeling she would, as she gets older I can't help but notice how similar we are, even down to our tastes in food.

Anyway, Happy Happy Birthday to my Apple girl. Because, you know her feet touch the ground now when she's sitting at the picnic table. And to her that means four.

More birthday goodness to come... later. Must nap now.