Blog a la Cart

Month: October, 2013

Halloween // 2013

It was soggy as ever, but so goes life in New England. It sure is character building. We did some last minute pumpkin carving last night and took to the streets this evening despite the constant rain. Also, how rad is Sunny’s spider hat? I particularly loved that she insisted on wearing it all day long. That’s the spirit!






Because of the rain, we left the heavy duty camera at home and relied on some mediocre phone snaps to capture the occasion. It’s better than nothing!


Here’s hoping for better weather next time (ha! We can dream!).

Tracy, Jon, Jax & Brecken

It’s been such a joy to spend so much of my time this fall shooting family portraits. The more I do it, the more I learn. It has consumed a lot of my time with my own family on the weekends, because after every shoot, I then spend hours picking, editing, and processing images – so James is as much a partner in all this as I. But I am so grateful for the experience, and love sharing my favorite images from each session with all of you here. Here’s my latest round up. Remember Baby Brecken? My has he grown!





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Garden Sweater


It would seem that we grow the teeny, tiniest vegetables around. Exhibit A. Exhibit B. And now check out that itty, bitty singular pumpkin our garden was able to produce. *sigh* Better luck next year!

The size of the pumpkin in no way dampened Sunny’s enthusiasm for this wee gourd. She was thrilled when it was finally ready for picking, and it has been on display in our home all month. We’ll be decorating it in googley-eyes this evening, a last minute Halloween DIY (inspired by last year).


Meanwhile, Miss Brie Brie’s family has produced an entire patch of impressively sized pumpkins. We’ll have to learn some tricks of the gourd-growing trade from them next year.


However, I’m not here to showcase the pumpkins, so much as the two finished Garden Sweaters being worn by their respective recepients. I snapped some photos of Courtland wearing Brie’s this spring, but now I’ve (finally) finished Sunny’s – and Brie fits hers! And I’m thrilled to think about another photo shoot in a year or so with Courtland and Lila then rocking the look. The joys of sisterly hand-me-downs!







To create the sweater I adapted this pattern, Tasia’s Cardigan, by Dana Gibbons. I made the 1-2 years size for Brie (currently aged 18 months) and the size 3-4 year size for Sunny (currently 4.5 years). To make both sweaters, I used three skeins of the Dream in Color Classy in SOME SUMMER SKY, and one skein of the Dream in Color Classy in SPRING TICKLE. For the garden beds, I used two skeins of Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran in RUST. I worked on a US7 circular needle.


I ordered the crazy adorable pewter barnyard animal buttons from Morehouse Farm here.





I adapted the pattern as follows (being sure to follow the original pattern for the button/center area of the cardigan throughout).

I knit in the Dream in Color, “Summer Sky” until 2 inches below the armpit, following the original pattern as is.

I then worked for 2 inches in the Dream in Color, “Spring Tickle.” I knit six rows in a garter stitch, then worked six more rows in a garter stitch, but on the knit rows I did a wave stitch:

  • k5, wrap1, k1, wrap2, k1, wrap3, k1, wrap4, k1, wrap3, k1, wrap2, k5, repeat….
  • Purl rows in between knit wave rows
  • k1, wrap1, k1, wrap2, k1, wrap 3, k1 wrap4, k1, wrap 3, k1, wrap2, k5, repeat Alternate between those two knit wave rows with purls in between for as long as desired.

Finally, I worked in the Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran, “Rust.”

Knit 2 rows
Purl 4 rows
Knit 4 rows
Repeat 4 purl rows, 4 knit rows for long as desired.

I finished the sweater with 5 rows of ribbed stitching, 2k, 2p, 2k, 2p, repeat.

For the details, I used scrap yarn and did a combination of sewing on top of the finished sweater to create the clouds, trees, chickens, etc. For the vegetables, I crocheted pieces of scrap in various ways, and tied them into the knit rows (or ditches of the garden bed). For the rolling hills area, I did French knots in pink yarn to create the flowers. A good tutorial about how to make French Knots here.

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There is no right or wrong way to approach adding details to this sweater. It is a whimsical, arty piece indeed, but lots of fun if you’re comfortable getting creative and experimental with a project.

Further details on my Ravelry page here.

Currently Reading

Admittedly, I have not read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. When I first saw excerpts from the book dashed across social media or in the news, I was drawn to the message because FUCK YEAH FEMINISM BEING CHAMPIONED IN MAINSTREAM MEDIA!

But, dig beneath the surface of Sandberg’s message, and well, it sure isn’t the kind of feminism that does anything but maintain the status quo of wealthy, white male patriarchy, one that carves out room for (privileged, white, straight) women to sit at the table, but ignoring the very intersectionality of race, class, and sexuality that is at the heart of feminist thought. (Can you tell I spent my weekend with the Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies department celebrating their 30th anniversary as a program at Williams? I was reminded of why this lens, this kind of learning, is so crucial, and how it is one of the fields in academia where the personal becomes the intellectual and vice versa. It makes a difference in the real, lived experiences of others).

Some thoughts from one of my favorite thinkers:

Even though many advocates of feminist politics are angered by Sandberg’s message, the truth is that alone, individually she was no threat to feminist movement. Had the conservative white male dominated world of mass media and advertising not chosen to hype her image, this influential woman would not be known to most folks. It is this patriarchal male dominated re-framing of feminism, which uses the body and personal success of Sheryl Sandberg, that is most disturbing and yes threatening to the future of visionary feminist movement. The model Sandberg represents is all about how women can participate and “run the world.” But of course the kind of world we would be running is never defined. It sounds at times like benevolent patriarchal imperialism. This is the reason it seemed essential for feminist thinkers to respond critically, not just to Sandberg and her work, but to the conservative white male patriarchy that is using her to let the world know what kind of woman partner is acceptable among elites, both in the home and in the workplace.

bell hooks, bringing it home. More knowledge dropping from her here.

A Family of Idiots


The day we picked up Gladdy, we stopped in Chestertown, Maryland (the town next door to Gladden’s breeder’s home) and spent the morning with the Idiots‘/Bobbledy Books family. It is with great love and affection that I refer to them as a family of idiots, after their namesake biz.

We’ve had the great pleasuring of befriending this lot over the past couple of years after teaming up on projects such as this and this. And the blog header is all thanks to Robbi.

It was fun to spend some more meaningful time in their barn with their littles. We brought along our camera, and captured many a shot of this wonderful group.

Before entering, James took some pictures of the epic barn in which they live.




Then I captured them at work in their studio: painting, writing, reviewing… Matt is apparently a tough critic.


i-dtJvqns  i-vJKdTg2  i-QJsG9fK  i-TvRm6Gv

And then we snapped some headshots. Some more serious than others…




But my favorite part of the morning was spent hanging out and documenting the daily routine/life of their family. That’s my sweet spot as a photographer, blending in and trying to capture people at their most natural, their most authentic. I like to be as unobtrusive as possible, just me and my 50mm lens – no fancy gear, or flashes, or accessories.

Here are my favorites.


























We then ate pizza, played Mario Kart (and I was totally crushed by a 3-year old), sampled a Sun Bun (*salivate*), and headed on our merry way to collect Gladdy.

For Robbi and Matt’s take on the experience visit here and here. And may I once again suggest that you subscribe to one or both of their book subscriptions. We have a whole section of our guest room devoted to their books for our visitors to enjoy, and Sunny positively lights up whenever the big, red Bobbledy envelope hits our mailbox. They are quite a hilarious, talented, glorious pair – I suggest you experience it yourself. And may I especially recommend investing in Ten Thousand Stories, recently released by Chronicle Books. Yeah, they’re a pretty big deal.

Thank you for a wonderful morning, Idiots Family!

Holiday Card 2013 // giveaway


Two weeks ago, the Cart family ascended Stoney Ledge as part of Williams’ Mountain Day festivities. We were sweaty and frizzy and bundled in hiking gear, but my colleague offered to grab a photo of all of us together before we made our climb down. We acquiesced as there are few photographs of all four of us simultaneously in front of the camera.

Given that I’ve spent my weekends of late capturing other families’ photographs for their holiday cards, I had this sense that I should stage some epic shoot for my kids to try and create the “perfect” Cart family portrait for our card. But when I saw this image, I knew that I needed to look no further. It so accurately captures the beauty of where we live and the spirit of our family at this stage in our children’s lives: harried, imperfect, and yet, completely joyful.

Now we just need to choose a card for this photo. Like last year, I’ve teamed up with to create our family’s holiday card, and in exchange for helping us select our card, you get a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to Minted. Ain’t nothing like spreading holiday cheer!

One of my favorite things about Minted this year was the ability to upload our photo to the site, and then preview all of the holiday photo cards at once with our personal photo (select the “Find It Fast” button in the top right corner). It was a quick way to get an idea of which cards worked with this particular image. Then, of course, you have the ability to personalize and customize further.

These are my favorites for this year’s photo. Details about the $100 Gift Certificate and how to enter below.

So, which one is YOUR favorite?


Shop ‘em: 1. Handlettered Merry Merry; 2. Autograph; 3. Cursive Christmas; 4. We Are Family; 5. Helvetica Holiday; 6. Happiest;  7. Laughing All The Way;  8. Pebble Dot

To enter to win a $100 Gift Certificate to Minted:

• tell me what your favorite holiday photo card design is from the selection above for our family

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

• for another chance to win…
follow Minted and Blog a la Cart on Twitter, then tweet the following phrase (then, come back here and share a link to your Tweet in the comments): Did you catch @blogalacart & @minted  $100 Gift Certificate giveaway? I just entered!:

• for you Instagrammers, another chance…
follow Minted and Blog a la Cart on Instagram, then come back here and tell us that you’re digging our snaps

 and one final chance to win…
follow Blog a la Cart on Bloglovin, 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 Monday, November 4, 2013  at 5pm EST. Open worldwide. Total Value: $100




“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

Sunny: I spent most of the week traveling, and then had to work all weekend. I feel as though she’s grown a full year in that time. My amazing first born.
Kaki: This one is as demanding and exhausting as ever. I don’t know how James survived nearly a week solo-parenting. I was so beside myself with her this afternoon, I finally curled up in her bed and held her to my chest and reminded myself that she is still my baby. I shouldn’t expect so much from her when she’s still so little. We napped side by side, and it was just what I needed to feel reconnected and at peace.

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here.

My Mother’s Attic // 10

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Gladdy is providing some inspiration for this month’s all black remake. To check out the full post, head on over to New Dress a Day.

Skeleton Costume // diy


I’m just returned from Atlanta, and boy has the late fall weather properly set in. The trees are looking mighty bare, and there’s a distinct chill in the air. I’m bundled up in long underwear, fleece blankets, and wool socks, all in the name of not turning on the heat until November. Such hardy New Englanders are we!

With all that being said, it’s clear that October is coming to a close, which means Halloween is just around the corner! I’m really excited to share with you my first handmade Halloween costume. I attribute this accomplishment to my slow but sure accumulation of minimal sewing skills this year though My Mother’s Attic and my inaugural quilting project.

I’d fallen in love with this hand sewn skeleton costume on Etsy, but when I saw the price tag, I figured that I could try and tackle my own version of the look. I will say, the cost of the Etsy costume is more than reasonable considering the time and effort that went into making Kaki’s, so for those of you who do not find joy in the DIY process, I would highly recommend investing in Small Threads apparel.


To get started, I purchased Asphalt-colored versions of American Apparel karate pants, solid rib long-sleeve shirt, and baby rib hat in Courtland’s size. I then bought silver thread, white fabric with some silver metallic sheen, and a small amount of red fabric for a heart. I washed and dried everything before beginning the construction!


I printed out Mini eco‘s skeleton template and traced each bone onto freezer paper. I improvised some of the bones to create pieces for the back of the costume, but the template was a great starting point.


I then ironed each piece of traced freezer paper onto the white fabric for the bones (and I did the same with a heart trace on the red fabric). The shiny side of the freezer paper goes down on top of the fabric, and the heat of the iron temporarily adheres it to the fabric.


I cut out each fabric bone with the traced freezer paper as my guide.


I laid the fabric pieces out on the costume to get a sense of placement and ensure that each piece fit comfortably on the costume.


Spray Adhesive was a MUST for this project. I sprayed each bone with this Spray Adhesive and carefully laid it out on the base of the costume.


The great thing about the adhesive is that it is temporary, so I could always readjust the placement before committing to sewing the pieces down.


Once the pieces were in place, I slowly and carefully sewed them down using a silver metallic thread on my sewing machine. I followed along the edges of each bone to secure each part of the skeleton in place. I then threw the costume in a gentle wash cycle to get rid of any leftover adhesive, and BOOM!



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A Bony Baby (er, toddler?) was born!


I couldn’t be more thrilled with the result. It was a lot of time and hardwork, but I am really pleased with how cute and cozy and comfortable the costume is for my picky 2-year old. If the weather is chilly, I can always pile some layers underneath, and of course she can wear the costume as her pajamas for the rest of the winter.


I think it’ll be a Happy Halloween indeed. (And Sunny is going to rock her Lilac Fairy costume (with a fall twist, i.e. LAYERS) one last time as she is very quickly outgrowing its awesomeness. Fortunately, Courtland will get a chance to wear it, too!).

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Here’s what the day looked like thanks to a profesh videographer, complete with a cameo by Gladdy.