Blog a la Cart

Month: August, 2012

Around the Farm // 4

We’re headed out to the Poconos for our usual Labor Day antics. Two of James’ a capella besties from college, and their families, are joining us.

When I asked Sunny if she was ready to fight in her first Tomato War, she responded, “Mommy, fighting is very bad. We don’t fight.”

How do you explain pretend battle to a preschooler, with the caveat that under normal circumstances (i.e. any day other than Labor Day) you refrain from hurling tomatoes at your peers?

We’re looking forward to one last summer hurrah before tackling a very busy September.

1. One of our mountain views. *swoon*
2. Kaki, purveyor of dirt. Kid loves her garden.
3. Chickens and their domain, namely the compost.
4. Abundant, beautiful Swiss Chard
5. Sisterly sweetness. I can hardly stand it.
6. On a walk.
7. Not on the farm, but at the bowling alley. Sunny laying claim to her bowling ball.
8. Impressively tall sunflowers.
9. Why hello, Nemo.
10. Sunset on the farm.

Beaded Wrap Bracelet // diy

I first tackled this DIY over our Easter vacation in South Carolina visiting James’ family. I finally documented it over our summer vacation in Cape Cod visiting my family. And I made it a goal to post it before the official end of summer, i.e. before Labor Day!

And yes, we do realize that we are very fortunate to have family that lives in such desirable places. Thanks Moms and Dads!

I know I’m late on the Chan Lu Beaded Wrap Bracelet bandwagon. My crochet beaded bracelet from last summer was certainly a nod in that direction, but this project is definitely a more direct reference. It’s tricky to explain the beading, but think FIGURE 8s, and you’ll be fine. It may take some practice, it certainly did for me.

Let’s get started!

Beads (I ultimately found that I preferred smaller beads, with more wraps around the wrist). Experiment with different colors and textures to vary the wrap.
String for the borders (bead supports) of the bracelet. You can do leather, hemp, whatever appeals.
Beading wire. Super thin. I opted for black.
Clip board
2 binder clips
Button of choice (for the clasp)


1. Start by determining how many times you’d like the bracelet to wrap around your wrist. Measure out that length with the string for the bead border, add an extra 6-8 inches, then double over. Then unwind at least 5-8 times the amount of wire in that length. It’s a lot of wire! Tie a knot at the end where the string doubles over with the wire. See image below. Snip the excess wire.

2. Now practice your figure eight skills by winding the wire between the two strings a number of times before you begin beading. Keep wire tight and even. Then use a clip board to clip the top of the bracelet to the top of the board, and use the clamps to hold the two strings at the base of the board. This will help you keep an even tension as you bead.

3. String on your first bead.

4. Slide the bead up the wire and in between the two pieces of string, with the base of the wire and bead tight against the strong on the left side.

5. Wrap the wire over the top of the right string and bring around back and up between the two strings. See below.

6. Now string the wire back in through the bead, from right to left.

7. Pull the wire tight and this will brace the bead in place. See below.

8.  Finally, wrap the wire over the top of the left string, around back, and up the middle. Pull the wire tight to fully brace the bead.  Then do the process all over again with the next bead (jump back up to Step 3).

It will take some practice to get an even tension and the hang of the beading. As the wire length shortens, the process will become easier and easier. Once you reach the desired length for the bracelet, do a few figure eights with the wire (no beads), then tie off the wire and strings in a knot, add a button that will fit in the hole at the top of your bracelet, and tie one final knot.

Then lie out and enjoy the sun! Play at the beach! Go for a swim! The great thing about these bracelets is that they are super wearable. Enjoy!

Photos and Tutorial: Courtesy of Ashley Weeks Cart

On Pride and Parenting

As I’ve mentioned, Sunny has been very timid and cautious when it comes to water and her bodily person. Other people’s persons? Well, she has no qualms about recommending James leap into a lake with Courtland attached to his hip. No fear that her baby sister may not want to “go in the deep” or “put her face in the water” much like herself.

Due to this aversion, she has spent the majority of the summer in the shallow shores of the lake or ocean, or huddled on the steps of the pool. She will not wet her head, let alone submerge herself. And forget about trying to carry her out to where her feet can no longer touch the bottom. THE DEEP! It’s a terrible, horrible place.

In fact, when James informed her that she would be in “deep” trouble if she threw the tennis ball in the house one more time, she looked over at him in horror and declared, “But I don’t want to go in the DEEP! I don’t want to go under the water.”

The preschool mind is an amazing, maddening thing that can provide such comic relief, which I suppose is why the human race endures beyond age three. I can see no reason otherwise.

But I digress…

And so, our summer has been fraught with much unproductive cajoling, bribing and coaxing. That is, until two weeks ago, when, I strapped a life jacket on Sunny, threw her in my arms, and leaped into the lake before she could get a word in edge wise. When we surfaced, her face was a mixture of terror, shock, and utter elation. Fortunately, the joy beat out all those other pesky emotions, and we found her interested in jumping in again and again, increasingly without our assistance.

And I don’t have proper language to describe what if felt like to watch my little girl leap from the edge of that dock into the deep while Mommy and Daddy sat on dry land. I don’t know a greater source of pride than witnessing your own child overcome a fear that felt insurmountable, nor a more bitter pill than the knowledge that she can tackle such fear without you. Once again that tension that defines every moment of parenting bubbles to the surface, tethering you to the moment and making you feel more alive and present than you ever knew was possible.


And don’t you just adore James’ loving “1-2-3, WEEE! Good Job!” He’s perfected his Daddy voice, and I hope that one day the girls will understand how lucky they are to call that papa their own.

Bobbledy Books // giveaway

Meet one of the nooks of Cartwheel Farm. As far as nooks go, it’s one of my favorites.

Something about the faux taxidermy paired with my grandmother’s childhood desk and my great-grandmother’s Steiff teddy, the frames wallpaper (our Wall of Frames) and the growing wall of artwork… they sure add up to some good feelings.

Here’s a close up of the wall. You’ll note some photographs of Sunny, some choice pieces of artwork, and a poster from our friends over at Idiots Books (we’re subscribers, and receive six pieces of independently published booky goodness from this duo a year. You can too! And I’ve teamed up with them on this project). And we’re particularly excited that the Idiots, Matthew and Robbi, have recently launched a site for kids, Bobbledy Books. Now Sunny and Kaki can get in on the fun!

Bobbledy Books launched last week, and, thanks to Courtland’s horrendous sleep habits, Familia Cart signed up right away in the early hours of the morning, which means that a copy of the print below will be coming our way and find a home on our Wall of Frames. (Subscribers in the first 36 hours received this print as a bonus. Wee!)

The print is taken from the first of their children’s books, The Girl With Frogs in Her Ears. While we await delivery of this new book for the girls’ library, Sunny was delighted to receive her first Bobbledy package this week, complete with the Bobbledy Blob.


She put the Bobbledy Blob to work tackling the first drawing prompt over on the Bobbledy Blog. The assignment? Draw a picture of yourself riding a wild animal. It came as no surprise that our Chicken Whisperer doodled herself (complete with green bow) riding on a blue chicken.

The image now proudly hangs on our Wall of Frames. We look forward to adding to the wall thanks to future drawing prompts. And we’re eagerly anticipating the addition of The Girl With Frogs in Our Ears to our bedtime routine.

And now to let you join in the fun! Here’s how you can win a 1-Year Membership to Bobbledy Books. That includes:

  • Three picture books by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr
  • One “make-your-own” book that we start and you finish with your pictures and words
  • One book with pictures and words by one of you
  • One album of children’s music by Drew Bunting
  • A card on your birthday
  • A five-headed crayon (called the Bobbledy Blob)

To enter:

• visit Bobbledy Books. Be sure to check out their blog and leave ’em a warm and fuzzy (or cold and prickly, if you must) comment on one of their posts.

• Then come back here and leave me a comment below telling me that you’ve spread the comment love.

• for an extra chance to win…
‘like’ Bobbledy Books and Blog a la Cart on Facebook, then come back here and tell us you like us, you really like us! in the comments.

 and one final chance to win…
subscribe to Blog a la Cart and sign up for the Bobbledy email list (sign up form in the right column of their blog), then come back here and let me know that you’re reading along in the comments.

Make sure you enter a valid email address in the email section of the comment box so I can contact you if you win! 
The winner will be chosen next Wednesday, September 5th at 12pm EST. Open worldwide. Total Value: Up to $60.


And, of course, you can just go right ahead and become a member of Bobbledy Books or Idiots Books. For the kids in all of us.

52 Weeks

I am stupidly proud and happy with the result of our Weekly Growth series. Despite a few gaps in the process and wide variation in photo quality and lighting, James was able to compile a video that captures Courtland’s first year of growth. Watch as she goes from wriggly, little blob to full on motor-skilled baby.

As always, many thanks to my incredibly talented husband for putting this vision together. And to Rabbit! for providing the perfect song.

Around the Farm // 3

A handful of snaps from around the house last week.

1. Sad teething baby
2. Happy rocking baby
3. Sisterly love
4. Playing in a tent


I spent the weekend snuggled up with this delectable fella. Don’t you just love how he camouflages right into the couch?

After an incredibly meaningful weekend with Sunny’s FGPs, I headed to BWI with expectations of being back on the Farm no later than 4pm.



We boarded our flight on time, and then promptly sat on the plane, at our gate, for four hours.

And ya know, the Ashley pre-May 18, 2009 would have been frustrated and antsy and pissed off. But the Ashley post-May 18, 2009, well, she was positively delighted by all this forced reading time. And thanked the sweet baby Cheez-its that she was flying solo, without a cranky dependent. My heart went out to each of the parents on the plane who battled and pleaded with their littles ones during that four hours of wait.

And to those passengers who threw the stink eye and grumbled in annoyance at the screams of those children? To them I say, SHAME ON YOU! I have so little respect or patience for those people. You are a grown ass adult. Put on your head phones. Pull out a book. And suck it up! If you’re miserable, how do you think the toddlers are feeling? How do you think their stressed out, embarrassed, exhausted parent or guardian is feeling? There is absolutely no reason to make a parent feel worse when, I can promise you, they are already feeling terrible.

I felt beyond grateful that I was by myself, free to read and write and rest my eyes during that wait rather than fight a fitful Courtland who would have no doubt been shrieking and kicking and tantrumming in boredom and distress. And entertaining a busy, restless Sunny who would have been whiney and loud and demanding for that four hours.

Perspective, y’all.

I walked in the door to Cartwheel Farm at 8pm, in the middle bath time. I was overjoyed to see the girls and James splashing around that vibrant room of pink. I pulled Courtland out of the tub and snuggled her wet, slippery body to my chest. I plopped her on the floor and figured I’d let her air dry before dressing her in her PJs and diaper. While she helped me unpack, and by “helped me unpack,” I mean flung every article of clothing from my suitcase around our bedroom with gusto, I realized that I needed to text Sunny’s FGPs to let them know that I was finally home.

I looked up, after no more than 60 seconds of my head being buried in my phone, to the nauseating, familiar stench of poop, out of water (you know what I mean! The toilet water exists for many very good reasons, including odor control). It didn’t take me long to realize that Courtland had pooped the floor, stepped in it, and was now parading around our room with feces-coated toes.

Welcome home to Mama! And Happy Monday to all!

Currently Reading

I have become positively obsessed with Anne Enright’s writing. I wish I could capture the world, human interaction and experience, with the same kind of unexpected raw beauty and poignancy. The paradoxical emotions of life. She crafts her words so brilliantly. And for that, I am incredibly envious. Here are two of my favorite quotes from the first book I’ve read of hers.

Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood

The world is chock-full of ignored objects, for which the baby has no filter. A discarded CD, a packet of seeds, a tweezers, a notebook. I am worn out and amazed by her constant ambient, grazing attention, as she flings herself from me to get at one thing or another, obliging me to catch her, time and again. The world is a circus and I am her trapeze, her stilts, her net. Not just mother, also platform and prothesis. I’m not sure I feel like a person, anymore.

Yesterday, it was warm, and I took off her socks and stood her on the grass. She loved this, but maybe not so much as I did – her first experience of grass. For her, this green stuff was just as different and as delicious as everything else – the ‘first’ was all mine. Sometimes, I feel as though I am introducing her to my own nostalgia for the world. 

Thanks to a three hour flight delay at BWI yesterday afternoon, I’m almost done with The Gathering, a Man Booker prize winner. And with very good reason. (Although it appears that the GoodReads audience disagrees. Pshaw to them!)


James finished this video a week ago, and yet I’ve been holding off from posting it in the hopes of writing a profound and eloquent post on the concept of “home.”

I would have waxed nostalgic about the power of physical place, and how living in this little mountained valley settles my mind and provides a sense of calm and assurance that comes from years of experiences that have strongly tethered me to this place, this home. The shadows and ghosts of memories past blend and meld together in singular spots, as time and life has provided such a mash up, ever growing the sense that this place, in a very physical, tangible sense, is my home. And always will be.

And then I would have talked about a different notion of home. Of home as a feeling. As a state of mind. As an aura that comes from a set of sensory experiences. The taste of salt and how it moves through the air. The sensation of it dried and crusted on my skin. The way sand scratches and scraps between toes. The sound of waves creeping up the shore and bubbling away in retreat. The smell of sunscreen, tropical and sweet, its greasy film layered on top of humidity induced-sweat. A living (albeit greasy) piece of sand paper. The way it feels to be engulfed in water – the dulled quiet, the intensified chill. The energy and rush that comes from such submersion. The way that all of these sensations, no matter my place in the world, tug at my gut, fill me with memory, and nostalgia, and comfort, and joy, and longing.

The ocean will always be my home.

James, thank you for so succinctly and beautifully capturing a piece of why that is.

Into the Woods

Bright and early tomorrow morning I’m headed south to Virginia for the weekend. Solo. I’ll be spending the days huddled up with Sunny’s Fairy Godparents, getting in some quality face time that hasn’t happened since their visit north last November. Think a weekend filled with spandex, pedicures, Zumba, home cooked meals, and couch spooning.

Last weekend, we headed west to the Poconos with one of my childhood friends and her family. We swam in the lake. Walked in the woods. Cooked dinner by the stream. Lounged by the fire. And generally enjoyed a relaxed weekend in James’ favorite place on earth.

On Sunday, after our friends had departed, we took the kids down to the lake for one last swim before our (eventful) car ride home. As I stood on the dock, I noticed the change in the light, the golden tones stretching across the lake. The shift in the air, cool and crisp. Even the sound of the leaves moving through the trees was different, signaling the waning summer days and the onset of autumn.

Fall is positively my favorite season, but it brings with it such nostalgia. I’m still filled with those back-to-school butterflies despite years of distance from such an occasion. A mixture of excitement and uncertainty for the cooler months ahead, and a childlike yearning and sadness for the end of the carefree summer days. But if the fall and holiday season are anything like the past three months, I’d say that the Cart family is in for some fun.

And we’ve still got a Labor Day filled with tomato throwing on the horizon. Summer’s not over yet!

1. Floating in the deep. Big progress this summer.
2. & 3. Tugboat in the lake. Alert! Tugboat in the lake!
4. Playing with Ah-lydia
5. Sweet Baby Alison
6. James build fire. James wear Tevas and cargo pants. James make wife swoon and cringe, simultaneously.
7. Nothing like a pre-dinner roasted marshmallow
8. Cooking dinner stream side
9. James’ fly fishing jacket. Ready for action.
10. The Shohola River
11. Fly fishing and serving as the Poster Papa for Ergo. The man can multitask. Sometimes.
12. Baby by the fireplace
13. Alison’s “surprise” face is pure magic. Note the fish/bird clothing combo. Aptly themed for the hunting and fishing club.
14. Our little woodland gnome
15. Forest walk
16. Ergo ad x 2
17. Lake gazing, Sunday lazing