Sunday, June 7, 2009

sunday musings

last week, we downloaded skype onto our new laptop and the floodgates of computer malfunction let loose. the detail is beyond me, but skype somehow screwed up our computer and mike spent an entire evening fixing this thing. twice (before we figured out the cause).
(oh thank you thank you, mike. you are my super star in so many ways. i think we are fully functional here now!)

so, without a reliable computer to distract me, i have been sewing a lot. here is one of my creations. we are attending mr. C's 5th birthday lakeside party this morning. so we're gone fishing...

and remember that grab bag i got yesterday yard sale-ing? well, the two pillowcases were big and square. and they fit our totally-in-need-of-an-update-from-the-'80s floor pillows, perfectly. before:
they may not be quite what i would have picked, but i definitely like the change and the vibrancy! after:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

what $19 gets you...

i just love yard sales. love 'em.

tigger slippers

doll backpack, like-new wooden puzzle, new jump rope, movie, new tea set (birthday present for a preschool friend), REI thermals for lala, banana republic wool sweater for me

100% cotton bedding for sewing. yards of fabric, all for $2.

and, a grab bag

inside the grab bag: anne taylor sweater, power cord (going into my donation box), macrame belt (going into my donation box), fleece blanket, several pillow cases, 2 toddler quilts (adorable), baby blanket

happy yard sale season!

Friday, June 5, 2009


blogging friends: our NEW computer is having major troubles. i have not been online much, so forgive any absences - from your blog and mine!

we are celebrating another half birthday around here. i cannot believe my little brown mouse is 18 months old today. wasn't he just born? didn't he just turn one?

oh my, such changes in the past 6 months, but truly, in the past 2 months. he isn't just walking, he is running. he has some words (even if only mike, lala, and i can understand them!) he is opinionated and already beginning the toddler tantrums. he has his funny little quirks, like drinking with his cup at the side of his mouth. he loves light switches (in the same way his sister loved fastex buckles), he is beginning to love books and drawing, and the way he calls out for "tiggy" (his lovey, tigger) would melt anyone's heart.

happy half my little man!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

art wall

i have written about it before, but to enjoy our kids' creations and keep down clutter, we have dedicated a dining room wall to their art. we hang it until the wall is full, photograph it, and then recycle all but the most treasured pieces (and sometimes there are none of those). i have thought about compiling the photos into a photobook, with each photo dated. i think that is a simple and elegant way to hold onto some these precious childhood creations.

we keep most of our art supplies in a washable basket/box, so it is portable. i have learned that "washable" pens, paint, and crayons aren't always truly washable, so we tend to keep art projects contained outside, at the table, or at the easel, but our bigger artist loves it so much, she has been asking to do it in quiet time. she hasn't made a non-washable mess yet and gets to show off her creations to her brother at the end of quiet time.

and a new, budding artist has joined our gallery.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

corner view: beach

we are so very fortunate to live near the beach of the pacific ocean.

photos taken by my brother and husband on a recent coastal backpacking trip:

photos taken by me at one of the local beaches:

please visit other cities and corner views around the world!
caitlin, joyce, ani, kim, a day that is dessert, natsumi, epe, kaylovesvintage, trinsch,c.t.,jeannette, outi, schanett, ritva, dongdong, francesca, state of bliss, jennifer, dana, denise,cabrizette, bohemia girl, dianna, isabelle, amber, a girl in the yellow shoes, mister e, janis, kari,jgy, jenna, skymring, elizabeth, audrey, allison, lise, cate, mon, victoria, crescent moon, erin,otli, ida, caroline, lisa, dorte, kimmie, la lune dans le ciel, nicola, malo, vanessa, britta, virgina,april, rebecca, b, sunnymama, kyndale, samantha, karen, kristina, angelina, dorit, goldensunfamily, sophie, janet, nicki, ruth, mcgillicutty,

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

smelling the roses

do you ever find yourself in those moments...the kind that feel long and low, even if they aren't truly? the kind of moment you try and talk yourself out of with walks to smell the roses?

the kind of drawn out moment that you can't seem to fix, burns at you and you cannot see the end of? the kind of moment that has you sitting in the bathroom, door closed with your back against it, in an attempt to get one minute to yourself. and in that moment, you try and hold the tears back, but can't, because you know that this is it. the only stolen moment you can guarantee yourself for days.

and then it passes and you feel better and you really do see the roses. you really can smell them.

Monday, June 1, 2009

may, in review

this month, i made a mental goal to buy only fresh groceries (produce,milk, etc.) and i did NOT succeed with this. perhaps in june, i really do need to put a dollar amount in an envelope and actually challenge myself. honestly, i think my dislike of entertainment (non-thrift store) shopping has a disadvantage. i think i make up for it with food shopping. we are at the start of the summer (pre-garden surplus) and my freezers (yes, plural) are full. uh huh. perhaps i need a lower june limit, as well.

really, the biggest wake-up call is that i have finally been updating my price list (excel spreadsheet with items, prices, and price per unit of foods/items we buy regularly) to reflect our current buying habits (more eco friendly items, more organics). oh my goodness. prices have changed a lot, even on items i am not buying any differently. (if anyone wants a copy of this, let me know.)

additionally, i realized that, while we are doing quite well with our goal of not buying new, there is a lot of room for improvement on the following: 1) buying from local vendors (buying home repair materials from the big box store is phenomenally less expensive and they more often have the specific parts we need in a timely manner. 2) packaging. so much of what we buy has packaging. after watching the story of stuff, i felt even more inspired to reduce more, but i am guilty of having limits. for example, while i think we are better than the average american, i do like to shop at costco. although bulk, costco products have way more packaging than if i sought out a buying co-op for items like oatmeal and rice. 3) there is so much more i could do to be sustainable, even right here where we live in an urban setting. after watching an episode of 30 days, where two friends learn to live off the grid, i feel like time is such a limiting factor for us being able to set-up some systems that would allow us to collect rain water, use grey water, and heat (at least our water) on solar.

acquired used:
  • 4 pr pants for lala
  • 3 sweaters for the kids
  • PJ pants
  • 2 shirts for me
  • huge bucket of blocks
  • glass pasta storage jar
  • 2 pair shoes for finn
  • children's book
  • full set of enamelware dishes
  • replacement coffee carafe (2 days after finn broke it. score!)
  • chacos sandals for me (free on freecycle. score! the current REI catalog arrived and the exact style i got were marked at $95!)
  • 2 HUGE lidded tins for bulk grain storage
  • dr. scholl's for me
  • dansko clogs for me
  • 10 strawberry plants and a thornless berry bush (free)
  • lovely mother's day gifts for me! (tomato seedlings, blueberry bush, italian plate)
total spent: $72 (total included so you can see how much you can get for how little, when you purchase used!)

bought new:
  • 2 books for gifts
  • materials for piping and trim finishing on our house
  • sewing materials for a birthday gift and for a skirt a friend asked me to make
  • 2 pr shoes, one each for lala & mike.
so here's to a more frugal, ecofriendly june!

Saturday, May 30, 2009


does anyone love mail as much as i do? from a simple, handwritten letter to a big ol' package, i love the mail. (mail is especially nice once you put a stop on junk mail and move all bills to online bill paying!)

well, this week, we got two lovely package. one from RGW, bringing hawaiin coffee and chocolate covered macadamia nuts (ummm....yum) as well as matching shirts for the kids and this gorgeous hand made (by R) tea bag dish for stian. (and the advantage for me is he leaves his stuff here!)

and from EPH...a huge (27lbs....i told her she was crazy to ship it) box full of clothes, shoes, toys, and costumes for finn. her boys must have outgrown them, but lala laid claim and shoved herself into a few anyway. and E, how is it that nothing in there has a single stain?


Friday, May 29, 2009

friday freebies!

sew, mama, sew has organized may give-aways. a sewer's dream. (and if i had been paying attention, i would have waited a week on that skirt give-away and entered to be listed!)

check out the categories to enter to win.

all i can say....there are too many good blogs out there! oy!

about me

hello! thank you for visiting! my name is nicola and my husband, mike, and i have two children, isabella (who also goes by lala and bella), 5 years old, and finnian (who also goes by finn), 2 years old. we live in urban, coastal northern california.

which name? is about family and parenting, frugality, earth-friendly living, simplifying, and arts & crafting.

which name? is named for my love of names and indecisiveness about what to call this blog! i began this blog in early 2007 as a personal online notebook to share with friends and family. since my grant funded job ended in 2008 and i have been home with our children, which name? has morphed into a creative outlet for me to share and interact with others about the real (joyous and frustrating) moments in life. with those changes, i have traveled deeper into the blogosphere and have found a wonderful community of inspiring and talented individuals.

i am flattered to have had projects and writings featured elsewhere.
eucalyptus bark vase was featured on the simple frugal green co-op
natural art caddy was featured on crafting a green world
an interview for circle of stones with heather of shivaya naturals
frugal living at the examiner, oakland
coloring easter eggs naturally, spring 2010 rhythm of the home
those of you who have included my blog in link love lists are much appreciated, as well!

i don't keep a blog roll, because i really don't want to accidentally or unintentionally leave anyone out. there are so many amazing blogs out there. i follow many of them in my blog reader and i post a monthly inspired internet list, linking to many of the posts around the blogosphere i have been motivated by in some way that month.

if you have any questions for me, feel free to email me at italy_nicola AT yahoo DOT com

(this was updated for february 2010 and i have updated my blogger profile.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

stress-less parenting

i got one of my orchids to rebloom! i was so proud, i brought it out to the dining room from the bathroom so we could all enjoy it. within 12 hours of it being there, lala reached over and snap, the stem broke clean off. see #5, below. i was even more proud of how little i reacted. sigh...this parenting business takes an exhausting amount of self-control.

i was waiting with the kids for lala's pre-K immunizations and i looked up and saw this list. i quickly asked for a copy to take home.

an annotated version of:
10 tips for stress-less parenting
  1. take time out each day to do something for yourself.
  2. if you are feeling overwhelmed, arrange for some outside help, so you can manage all aspects of your life more effectively.
  3. keep your sense of humor when things don't go as planned. no one is the perfect parent-or a perfect child.
  4. accept that children sometimes make mistakes, are inconsistent, and act thoughtlessly-this is part of being a child.
  5. count to 10 before you react when you get angry.
  6. ease tension with a human touch-share a hug, hold hands, or give a pat on the back.
  7. listen to your child and show you value your conversations. good communication can prevent conflict and stress.
  8. schedule in family fun and fitness. laughter and physical activity are great stress reducers.
  9. spend time with friends talking about your parenting concerns. also share your reflections on the joys of parenting.
  10. learn how children mature so your expectations for your child's behavior are realistic.
and i would like to add the following: eating regularly (and nutritiously), getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and getting regular exercise, (all things we are reminded often to do) make a HUGE difference in how i feel physically and how i parent. (and of course, the same goes for the kids!)

this list has been so handy for me...
i just came through several days on my own, giving me even more admiration for single parents and parents with spouses gone for extended periods (such as military families).

we did alright. but we missed dada and uncle stian. and i missed the camera, which went with them. i can't wait to see their photos, but every photo you have seen since last friday was taken last week or earlier.

grandma, nonno, and friends kept us busy. we hiked, we took a ferry ride to the city for lunch, we were included in a memorial day BBQ, and i even managed to squeeze in a dinner treat for lala at IKEA. (not sure why she does, but she loves the place, it was perfect for the lousy weather that day, and it is cheap!)

all that said...we are glad to have the guys home again!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

corner view: cityscape

ah, well this is a give-away as to where we live.
taken from the bay bridge, which connects san francisco with the east bay...

coit tower on telepgraph hill

alcatraz and angel island

transamerica building, telepgraph hill, and off to the right, the golden gate bridge

edited to add, due to the "grey" comments...san francisco is a beautiful known for its fog. it often burns off by mid-day. no umbrella needed, just a windbreaker.

"The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco." Mark Twain

but also said....
"San Francisco has only one drawback. ''Tis hard to leave" Rudyard Kipling

please visit other cities and corner views around the world!
caitlin, joyce, ani, kim, a day that is dessert, natsumi, epe, kaylovesvintage, trinsch,c.t.,jeannette, outi, schanett, ritva, dongdong, francesca, state of bliss, jennifer, dana, denise,cabrizette, bohemia girl, dianna, isabelle, amber, a girl in the yellow shoes, mister e, janis, kari,jgy, jenna, skymring, elizabeth, audrey, allison, lise, cate, mon, victoria, crescent moon, erin,otli, ida, caroline, lisa, dorte, kimmie, la lune dans le ciel, nicola, malo, vanessa, britta, virgina,april, rebecca, b, sunnymama, kyndale, samantha, karen, kristina, angelina, dorit, goldensunfamily, sophie, janet, nicki, ruth, mcgillicutty,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

the growing family

awhile back, i wrote a post about the growing family. it has been on my mind a lot lately. is our family complete or will we try for one more child?

now, i don't think it is really a secret that recently, if asked, mike's likely reply was "yes" to wanting a third child. me? i have been on the fence since...well...since having a second child. i hadn't been able to pinpoint exactly what my hesitation was until i read an article on family size and how to go about discussing family planning.

now there's a thought! perhaps sorting through and actually communicating my concerns might be a start. ahem.

i adore my children. (hey, they are asleep right now, so i really did mean adore.) but finnian's birth changed me from a working mom of one to a stay-at-home mom of two, the hardest job i have ever had. most nights, i tuck them in, so ready for them to be asleep. ready for the quiet and often needing a minute to calm myself down from whatever the latest fuss was over. on the flip side, i cannot imagine not having either of these two. they are so different from one another, yet the best of friends. i can't imagine our hearts not growing to include another. while i don't necessarily feel that our family is incomplete, i can't quite accept that we are done, either.

so i listed my worries (in no particular order) and shared them with mike:
  1. attention for each child. lala is an attention-needy child. not sure if this is a loonnnngg phase or personality trait, but at this point, i worry what another child would do to the little individual time i currently can provide. (that said, she adores her little brother and consistently asks for another sibling.)
  2. my working might not cover childcare, making me a longer-term SAHM. (which might be fine, but it could erase my choice in the matter.)
  3. the size of our home (2+ bedrooms). our car, too. and the quality (or lack of) of our public schools. so really, perhaps this should simply say: expenses. and we are quite frugal and adaptable already.
  4. the limited and very scheduled time mike and i currently have together being lessened further.
  5. trying to keep track of a baby and a very active finn (although if we were to wait a bit longer for a third, finn would be a bit older, lessening this concern. maybe.)
  6. the equity of our non-work-hours division of parenting responsiblity
  7. worrying, again, about baby's health and personality, and where that child would fit into our existing little circle. and my health during a pregnancy.
  8. the two of us have already had two kids. a third knocks our carbon footprint out of whack. (how 2009 eco-geek does that sound(?!) but i am serious.)
  9. our health. mike's and mine. we each have our own health issues, which are not insignificant, and definitely affect our daily lives.
now...those reasons sound like a resounding no. but oh, there are the reasons to have a third. see kids 1 and 2 for examples of why our children are so wonderful! i shared all the above with mike and his response shifted from a resounding yes, to thoughtful understanding and agreement with my concerns.

after this discussion, a recent conversation went something like this:
nicola: how can we be worried about all of these things, yet i still feel like we aren't done? i just can't accept that this is it.
mike: i know just what you mean.
nicola: so what now? what do we do now?
mike: we wait.

we wait. wise man. who says we have to decide today?

what things have you considered in your family planning? how many children do you have and how did this number play out for you? i would love to know!

Monday, May 25, 2009

yo, it's easy!

this batch was made with trader's joes greek style yogurt (full fat) as a start and non-fat milk. (the thicker the starter and the more fat the milk has, the thicker the homemade yogurt.)

i have posted about homemade yogurt before, but i finally needed to get around to praising our no-longer-new easiyo yogurt incubator. stian brought this back from new zealand around the first of the year and it is wonderful. naturally, he brought it with all the powder packets that are made to go with it (which make some of the most surprisingly delicious yogurt!), but we ran out of those and moved back to our homemade version. we decided to try the easiyo incubator on our homemade version, and it works! the easiyo incubator provides a much more consistent incubation than my towel-heating pad-pot combination and is so much easier to set up. anyway, here's to homemade yogurt, a perfectly delicious, healthy food that kids and adults love, and makes a darn good face mask! ;)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

linky love...for sewing?

happy birthday, tracy! this skirt's for you!

i am clearly still in sewing mode, although there are a couple non-sewing links, too. take a look at what's around on the internet...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

who needs hired help... (and skirt winner!)

... when you have kids?
(hey, he spilled the coffee. you make the mess, you clean it up! ;) )

below, his sister at the same age. dang....i can't figure out how mike and i made such beautiful people and how they grow so quickly!

and unrelated...

a care package arrived from genevieve this week. it made my day! in it: a book for lala, a puppet for finn, and a wool diaper cover and raw silk liner for me (ok, really for finn). i am absolutely loving how three friends, all of whom have been cloth diapering for different lengths of time (me, nearly 5 years; tracy, 1.5 years, beginning with babe #2; and genevieve, 5 months) can have such a wealth of information to trade. i have diapered the longest, yet have learned so much from those two ladies!

you can see who took over the puppet and you know what? i clearly need to make a curtain theatre soon! (and lo! there is just such a pattern in bend the rules sewing!)

my parents sent over a "random act of kindness" gift...a converter box for our tv. we haven't been able to watch anyway, but we were going to be completely out of commission with the change to digital. this with our roof antenna should provide some basics.

and if that wasn't enough, guess who was a winner in the the olfa sewing set give-away at old red barn company? oh yes i was!!

and.... the winner of the lazy days vintage sheet little girls skirt....
#17, mandi, who said:
i love finding thrifted sheets. this one you found is so great. please count me in for the giveaway!

mandi, i will comment on your blog to let you know you have won! i am enjoying your blog, by the way. i am amazed at how much we have in common with an interest in urban homesteading.

(and for those counting, i counted down to #17, skipping my own comment in response to some comments/questions!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

return of art

don't forget to leave a comment on monday's post for the skirt give-away! winner announced tomorrow morning!

pencils brought to the kids by uncle stian, from chile

for a little while, paper art disappeared around here. i think it was partly the increased activity level of a toddler who was big enough to disrupt projects, but too small to participate, and partly arrival of the sun, and therefore the dismissal of pens and crayons in favor of sand pails and shovels.

but it seems we have found a happy medium, with time and attention for sand and coloring. and it seems the little guy has learned how to join the big kids.

of course, the pens do end up up his nose as much as on the paper!


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