a summer garden party for dhara.

[As I begin to type, the loveliest summer rain is coming down on the rooftop of me and my household.  And a much needed rain it is.] Oh lordy, did I have the busiest week ever!  At least in a long, long while.  So much I wanted to post about this past week, but couldn’t — Father’s Day, my parent’s 30th anniversary, berry picking at a nearby farm for blueberry lemonade and fruit tarts and a blackberry pie for the garden party (and beets for Dhara’s dinner), sewing 30 feet of colorful bunting (absolutely loved this!), and a fun trip to the well-known Georgetown Cupcake for a couple dozen lovely cupcakes.  All are half written posts saved for a later date.  Hopefully I can catch up with photos and posts later this week.

But the garden party!  Ohhh, the wonderful garden party!  It was a beautiful time.  It really was.  Planning a detailed party is no small feat.  I should have remembered this after planning our wedding a couple years ago.  Dhara’s half birthday turned out splendidly.  It took place in the woods behind our home.  We used our own furniture to create a room of sorts in the woods.  It felt cozy and enclosed as we celebrated in a cove surrounded by trees.

It also turned out to be a beautiful sunny morning with a cool breeze and not an ounce of humidity — our prayers were faithfully answered by a Faithful Father who always knows the desires of our hearts.  (Who would have wanted to sit outside in 100 degree weather like it was the entire week leading up to the party?)  Enough said, here is the summer garden party we had for Dhara’s half [6 month] birthday through an array of photographs…

Greg sitting in the background enjoying his handiwork before the party begins.

Lovely flowers — creamy whites, the palest pinks, lots of greens, and some purple.

Setting up.

Place settings made up of a hodgepodge of whimsical cloth napkins, wooden utensils, vintage-styled paper straws, and potted plants with small handmade flags that had each girlie’s name written across the back.

Greg constructed a couple of these floral stakes with a strong branch, a glass milk bottle, and some twine.  I love them!

I just might make another one of these bunting flags just for the heck of it!  I enjoyed how precise of a project it was.  I used a different fabric piece for each side of each flag.  There is something so homey about using different scraps — kind of like a scrappy quilt.

Let the party begin…

Rachel and Dhara.  Also, seventeen different flavors of Georgetown Cupcakes!  Sooo good!

Hannah, Aparna and Macy.

Sue and Zoey Madison.

Cucumber Mint Cilantro Tea Sandwiches (thanks to Rohini for the tasty recipe!) + Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches.

My sewing supply table topped with red velvet cupcakes in a jar favors with handmade sewn tags and a strawberry cake.

Aparna and Lakshmi.

My sweet Dhara in a vintage white voile dress.  I love my little girl in voile.

Freshly squeezed lemonade made by my husband and freshly brewed sweet tea.

My sister, Rebecca, and Dhara.

My aunt, Rachel, and Dhara.

Sonia and Kristen.

Grandma playing with Dhara.

Carrie and Macy.

Diana and Shreya.

Dhara’s Aunt Beth and Grandma Sandy.

Dhara’s Ammachi having a grand ol’ time.

Darling little Shreya.

Kristen, the little pixie.

To end the afternoon, everyone gathered around the high chair as we gave Dhara a cupcake to do with what she pleased.  We all watched as this little munchkin explored her cupcake, making a fun mess in the process.  She dissected it layer by layer, all the while not knowing that she could eat it until the very end when most of the cupcake was on the ground and she finally stuck her finger in her mouth and tasted the creamy frosting.

I can’t believe she’s 6 months old.  [Sigh.]

Our morning brunch was such a pleasant and fun experience, I can’t wait to do it again next year!  Although I know I can be more organized next time.  I shouldn’t have been sewing bunting the night before the party!  Or only getting two hours of sleep because there were still so many details that I needed perfected.  Or the fact that I forgot to put my sugared blueberries in the “blueberry lemonade!”  : )

Oh well, we still had a beautiful time together chatting and eating lots of tasty food on pretty plates.  [I told Greg that I decided that I never want to have disposable plates, cups, utensils, or napkins in our home, because the real ones are so much more fun to use!]  Our menu consisted of desserts and finger foods.  We had a petite mint green double layered cake, a large strawberry double layered cake topped with fresh strawberries, soft chocolate chip walnut cookies, fruit tarts, my mother-in-law’s delish chocolate fingers, red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, Georgetown Cupcakes, basil parmesan chicken meatballs, cucumber mint + cilantro tea sandwiches, ham + cheese tea sandwiches, tuna + potato cutlets, a watermelon + blueberry + blackberry fruit bowl, and oven warmed brie with wheat crackers.

A special thanks to all the mamas and daughters who came out on Saturday to make our garden party a memorable one.  Even though Dhara may not remember a lick of her first summer garden party, she will certainly look back at these captured memories and wish remembered at least one — even if it was just a hazy one.

baby smith handmade #3.

Project #3:  Waterproof Bibs.

It’s been some time since I last posted a Baby Smith Handmade project.  I’ve been on a bib rampage lately.  1) Because my baby’s alias is “Drooley Julie.”  2) Majority of bibs found in stores these days are worthless because once my baby soaks her bib, her clothes are most assuredly next in line to get wet.

So in answer to this problem, I marched myself to the fabric store, found some waterproof baby dry vinyl and sandwiched it in between a slice of lovely cotton fabric and a slice of cozy cotton flannel.  Greg added the snaps — which I like much better than velcro.  I love the finished product — so much cuter than store bought bibs if I don’t say so myself.  And waterproof!  I can’t fully explain it, but it really does feel good to see my baby wearing handmade.

Bib fronts, using cotton fabrics, among which are fabrics by Amy Butler and fabrics from my travels to India.

Bib backs, using flannel fabrics, among which are fabrics by the amazing Anna Maria Horner.

Miss Drooley Julie herself enjoying a laundry line of bibs hanging over her crib.

Other Baby Smith Handmade Projects:

Project #2:  Shawl Collar Sweater.

Project #1:  Scalloped Blanket.

What is Baby Smith Handmade?

high school twin.

Yesterday I visited a longtime friend, Diana.  I’ve known her since high school, so that would make us friends for about 13 years and counting.  I remember the first time I met her.  I guess you could compare her to the energetic Ellie, from the Pixar movie, “Up”.  I, on the other hand, was more timid and composed.  So the story goes a little like this:  Diana walks up to me the first week of school, as I’m putting my books in my locker, and she says to me, “So you’re the one that everyone is mistaking for me!”

Yep.  And we’ve been friends ever since.  : )

Diana had a baby girl back in April, and so with my small family in tow, we went to visit Diana’s little baby, Shreya.  It was so weird sitting next to my friend as we both held a baby in our lap.  And not just any baby, but our own babies.  In honor of little Baby Shreya, I sewed her a Black Apple cloth doll.  [I was actually working on the same styled doll for Dhara’s half-birthday present, when I thought I would also whip one up for pretty little Shreya.]

My doll is somewhat different than the typical Black Apple doll because she has a simple cloth face with no features.  For her dress, I used a block printed fabric I picked up in India last year at my favorite fabric store in Madras.  The shop is located in an outdoor market bustling with business everywhere you look.  I could literally spend an entire day at that fabric store looking at all the beautiful cottons and ethnic prints.  I also love the little lace collar I added to the neckline.  So sweet and feminine.  I think I’d like to call her Amelie.

I think Baby Shreya is enjoying her Amelie Doll, don’t you think?

Mama’s doll.

Diana and I had a great time watching our babies and marveling at how life has changed so much since these little ones arrived.  In the last 13 years, Diana completed med school while I went into the world of information technology, and then onto campus ministry.  We’ve both had our ups and downs, but eventually got married to great guys, settled down and are both in a good place now — mommyhood.  So looking forward to what God has in store for us in the years to come.

Susan and Diana. 1999.


Oh boy, her naps are getting shorter these day.  It’s more about her laying on her back, holding her toes and swinging them back and forth as she babbles her baby talk.  While this is cuteness personified, I do love the time I get when she’s napping.  It’s my time to get my quiet time done, cross things off my to-do list, brainstorm projects, actually do these projects, talk to people on the phone, clean, grab a bite to eat, and read all my favorite blogs.

Guess it’s time to learn to do these things whilst she’s awake.

A pretty little moses basket, from Hoohobbers.  A gift from my sister.

beaching it.

This past weekend we went to the eastern shore!  As usual, we had a relaxing time, great weather, and great food!  Greg’s dad is such an awesome cook — his family always jokes that he needs his own TV show.  I also had lunch at my favorite, Georgia House (my third time there) — and for the third time, had the club on wheatberry bread with sweet potato fries and some delicious pretzel salad.  I have absolutely no desire to try anything new even though I know it’s all good.  We also hit a few yard sales where I picked up two vases for $1.00, and a couple antique shops where I got a darling vintage white dress with blue embroidery (in perfect condition) for my darling Dhara, a few wooden spools for my yarn, and some vintage woven dish towels because I just have this thing for vintage woven dish towels — a small collection of mine. : )

And as always, we hit the beach!  Dhara wore a two-piece that her Aunt Lori got her.  She had an excellent time at the beach.  Our baby loved to feel the breeze and feel the sand between her fingers.  She would quietly pick up a handful of sand in her small chub hand, and softly let is slide through her fingers — so cute.

I just love this photo of Greg and Dhara — so peaceful and content watching the waves get closer and closer.

Dhara loves to touch Aunt Beth’s dog, Missy.

An old chapel built in the late 1800’s.  Greg’s mom wanted to purchase this chapel to start a quilt shop!  Dhara says, “There’s still time Grandma!”

Dhara visited Grandma’s school, saw her beautifully plush office, and met her co-workers.  She also met Aunt Beth’s co-workers too.

This cloth doll belonged to Greg’s mom’s great, great grandmother, Dr. Martha.  Which means, it belonged to Dhara’s great, great, great, great grandmother!  Wow!  It’s probably dated back to the Civil War era.  The history behind Dr. Martha is so interesting.  A while back, Greg’s mom showed me an article written about her.  She was a medical doctor who was very familiar with holistic medicines.  She rode horseback to her patients’ homes to treat them.  My most favorite part of the article is the part about her being a radical Baptist woman who cried out to God when she couldn’t help a patient.  What an amazing heritage!  I pray that Dr. Martha’s prayers be imparted to little Dhara — so that she too can be a radical woman of prayer!

Dhara at the pool.

Grandma feeding Dhara sweet potatoes.

japanese pattern books.

I’ve been going through my shelf of pattern books for project ideas and came across The Stylish Dress Book that was mailed to me all the way from Japan.  It came with beautiful photos, instructions and full scaled pattern pieces.  One thing is true — the Japanese sure do have a handle on great fabrics, designs, and styles.  I love almost every piece of clothing in this book and can’t wait to begin sewing a dress — I’ll probably start with the one on the cover.

The only downside of purchasing a Japanese pattern book is that all of them are written in Japanese!  However, there is plenty of help online (tutorials, blogs, etc.) to help you get started.  Plus, the patterns are numbered and pretty clear cut.

children + toys, part II.

Before the birth of my baby, I thought and wrote a little about the world of children + their toys.  But now that I have a 5.5 month old, I am thinking about this topic more and more often.  I think about it whenever I hand her a toy to play or chew on.  I think about it whenever she receives a gift from someone — I debate in my mind whether to keep the gift or not.

I’m currently reading a book called, The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule.  I can’t help but love what she says in an interview I posted in a previous update: “I think my one piece of advice for that would be to choose carefully the toys you bring into your home.  For lots of reasons, ‘less’ is more.  It’s better for children’s imaginations, better for creating a peaceful family environment, and it’s much easier on the space in a house.  I also think ‘beauty’ is an important factor to consider when bringing a toy into your home.  Shouldn’t children’s toys and surroundings be beautiful, too?  I think so.”

I just love this idea of a peaceful and beautiful, yet real and comfortable home — one that fosters an appreciation for beauty in a completely natural way.  I truly feel that the run-of-the-mill plastic attention grabber toys, plethora of stuffed animals, beanie babies and barbies, television, and video games take beauty away from the home and what it symbolizes.  It also takes away the beauty of being a simple, curious kid.

One of my favorite things to do on weekdays is take my daughter outside to our garden and let her touch each plant as I go on to tell her the name of each one, “dill…cilantro…rosemary…squash…cucumbers…lettuce…broccoli.”  We usually walk back in the house with the smell of dill or rosemary on our fingertips.  I also let her feel the fabric I’m using during a sewing project, and explain to her what mama is going to make this time.  I can’t wait until I can teach her the sweet simple things in life.  (Like baking cupcakes.)

As for toys, I hope to weed out the consumer bad and keep the good — educational, natural fibers, simple.  (Like our neighbors who gave her a cloth toy veterinarian’s medical bag filled with cloth medical equipment.  Love it!)  Below are some of the toys my baby plays with these days.  She loves to chew on her cloth animals and doll.  I actually purchased these cloth toys five years ago when I was in college.  I guess you could call me a “think for the future kinda gal” — purchasing cloth toys, a small library of children’s books and simple cotton clothing for my future kids.  I wasn’t even married at the time.  ; )

The following are a couple wooden rattles I picked up a couple months ago from a darling Etsy shop located in Columbus, Ohio, called, Little Alouette.  Love these, and so does my baby girl.  Maybe she’ll love them so much that they’ll inspire her to be a woodworker when she grows up.  : )

As a parent or a lover of children’s goods (like I was), what are some toys/books/goods you recommend?

great grandparents rock.

How special are great grandparents?

Dhara has a great grandmother (Greg’s grandma), Granny Lanny, in Texas — who Dhara will meet for the first time next month!  And she also has a great grandpa and grandma (my grandparent’s) here in Maryland (photos below).  My grandparents come over almost every Monday evening to spend quality time with their great granddaughter.  It’s just so sweet to see them all spend time together — the older generation getting to know this little one, and this little one getting to be part of a rich Indian heritage as they talk to her in their native language, Malayalam.

They also share tidbits with Greg and I of what they believe about baby raising from their native motherland — some of which I believe are old wives-tales, but I love hearing them anyway.  For example, “kissing a baby’s cheeks will only make their cheeks get bigger.”  So not true.  I kiss my baby’s cheeks all day long, and her cheeks look the same to me.  : )

summer garden party – the invites.

It feels good to have things crossed off the list.  The invites have been sealed, addressed, stamped and mailed off to each respective gal and her mama!  I decided to go with People St. Clair, an Etsy shop specializing in papery goods, for the birthday invites.  I went with them specifically for the feeling of whimsy and delight I get every time I look at their cards, the cost was a plus too — 10 (5×7 cardstock) cards + envelopes for $15!

The card I chose, ‘Madeline’, reminds me of what an invite to a Jane Austen party would resemble — beautiful script, beautiful paper, and hints of femininity.  I love the mustard font color and mix of script and plain fonts.  Natasha, who works for People St. Clair, helped me design the card just the way I liked.  I worded it in a playful manner and added a darling quote by Emily Dickinson about prairies and bees and revery.

Thank you Natasha + People St. Clair for a beautiful invite!

DIY sewing kit.

Lately I’ve been dreaming of having my own studio space.  A place I can call my own to design and craft to my heart’s content.  A place where I can organize my piles of Anna Maria Horner and Amy Butler fabrics, sewing notions, and pattern books on neat and tidy shelves.  A place where my sewing machines and serger can have permanent residence, instead of having to be moved to and fro.

Until that beautiful day, I’ve set up shop in my parent’s basement.  I also set up a small station in our bedroom for quick sewing projects — on a small vintage table that is painted blue — we found this table on the side of the road and welcomed it into our home to stay a while, or forever.  Above the table is a cork board for the things that inspire — postcards, love letters, stamps, photos of future projects.  Under the table is an old wooden wine crate filled with fabric.  Lately I’ve been on an assembly line bib craze.  [My sweet Dhara is a drool machine.  My sister and I joke that she should have been named Julie.  Then we could nickname her ‘Drooley Julie.’  How fitting would that be?  What’s funny is that we still call her that.]

I recently began looking for something to organize my sewing tools, so that I could neatly place them on my blue table.  I was perusing Etsy one day, and came across a sewing kit I loved.  It was made of an old mason jar, and it was filled with the most simplest everyday sewing tools.  The idea looked simply delightful and easy enough to create.  So create I did.  Here are the DIY instructions for a simple vintage styled sewing kit.  Note: For a simpler version, instead of using the antique Ball mason jars with zinc lids, you can use a current Ball canning jar.  The current jars, which you can get at Walmart, have lids that come in two pieces.  This way you don’t have to cut into a zinc lid.  Although, I do love the blue glass of my antique jar. : )