LE BAM: 20-minute knit skirt

Yesterday, after many days with plans I put my foot down. I felt like my words enunciated and firm as my children bounced and asked if friends could come over for the fifth day in a row.

No playdates today. We are going home and hanging out. I pushed through the protests. Truth is, I am an introvert in that I recharge alone or with my immediate family and sometimes I short circuit over the number of children and continually hopping about in my kitchen. I love it and then I need quiet time.

It’s hard for me to admit that. Because I definitely, deeply appreciate that my kids and their pals love it here. And I love kids and loud-living-loving life and…I don’t need to justify this anymore. Every so often, I need a savasana in the middle of the asking and answering and dance parties and the snack making (holy shit I am pretty sure first grade girls are as hungry as 13 year old boys). What if I just busted out my yoga mat and corpse pose in the middle of a Katy Perry jump rope performance?

So, yesterday. Margot has been carrying around fabric, dreaming up a skirt in her head and we decided to go ahead and make it. One for Ruby too, of course. After snacks, of course.

I am all about simple lines, functional wear, no-fuss patterns and bonus if it is a quick make. My girls both prefer soft, stretchy knit fabrics. Margot likes capri leggings with tall socks, layers, tucking in and interesting accessories. Ruby likes very fitted leggings or tights, long sleeved shirts that end exactly at her wrist bone, a line skirts and changing her clothes every six minutes. They also prefer “slippery” skirts that don’t stick to cotton leggings.

This skirt meets every single one of the points in that paragraph up there!


Le Bam is our new phrase of choice, invented by Andy’s uncle because it is Mabel’s name backwards and it totally fits because she moves like a slinky, leaps like popcorn and does crazy things like jump off our second story deck (that really happened. she is fine.). 

The skirt. A simple knit skirt using a straight stitch on the sewing machine; any machine can sew this skirt. It’s only four pieces and only requires four straight stitchings. A raw edge at the bottom eliminates the need to finish with a turned hem.


* skirt to use as pattern.

Find a skirt in your closet that you like. The skirt is just the starting point. Do you wish it was longer or straighter cut? Do you wish the waist was larger? You can make these changes when you grab your scissors. If you want to recreate an exact shape, try it!

* knit fabric the amount depends on length, size and pattern.

Knit fabric is stretchy and doesn’t fray when cut. You can use a slippery knit like athletic knit or dance knit. You can use a soft knit like bamboo or rayon jersey. To determine how much you need: Fold your the skirt you are using as a patten in half. Measure widest part (the hem). Multiply by four. You need that much fabric but all going in the same direction (width-wise) from selvedge to selvedge. The stretch is important and knits stretch differently in different directions).

* 5″ x (waist measurement)” contrasting or coordinating knit fabric
* scissors
* rotary cutter + mat (optional)
* straight pins
* thread
* sewing machine

Cut the waistband fabric. I prefer to just use the fabric as a measurement instead of a tape. Every fabric stretches differently so using the fabric ensures the right length. For Ruby, I cut a piece of 5 x 25″ fabric and wrapped it around her waist until it was a comfortable fit for her. We trimmed excess and ended up with a 5 x 18″ piece (her waist is 20″). Cut waistband in half the short way. Now we have (2) 5 x 9″ pieces.

Fold your fabric right sides together and place folded skirt on fabric fold. Here is where you will adjust your pattern. Ruby wanted her skirt shorter and narrower than the one we had so I cut it shorter and narrower. The top of your folded skirt needs to be at least the width of one of your folded-in-half waistbands; best if it is an inch or so larger. In this case: the folded in half waistband is 4.5 x 5″ and I cut the top of the halved skirt to 5″. Be brave and cut! That is 1/2 your skirt.

Fold fabric again and place your folded, just-cut skirt half on the fabric fold. Cut. You are done cutting. Nice work!

Unfold one skirt piece, right side up. Fold one waistband piece in half, long sides together. Place all raw edges together, along skirt top. The skirt top is a bit wider than the waistband. Pin one side in place and then the other. Place a pin in the middle. Evenly stretch the waistband along the skirt and pin in place. Repeat on other half.

Open up your stitch length to about 6-8 stitches per inch. Sew waistband to skirt, backstitching at each end and firmly pulling the fabric as you sew. Place your left hand on the skirt and guide through machine like you usually do. With your right hand, pull away from machine, stretching the fabric. Don’t be shy. PULL. You must stretch the fabric as you sew so that the waistband and skirt match up and so that stitches retract a bit when released; this is the key to getting away without a stretch stitch (like a serger or zig zag). Repeat on other half of skirt.

Place right sides of skirt halves together and pin the heck out of each side. Make sure waistbands match up. Don’t worry if hems are a bit off; that’s an easy fix. Beginning at waistband, sew each side down to hem, backstitching at each end.

LA BAM. You just made a skirt.

Because we freecut the skirt pieces, one side might have a slightly different hem than the other. Or there might be a wonky wobble. Just trim it up so it’s even.

In the middle of sewing together my kids saw their friend outside, hiking the hill to see our neighbors horses. Can we mama? Of course. Let’s go.

That was all I needed: an quiet hour of just us chit chat and handwork. That, and the promise that we’d finish up what we started tomorrow.

We did finish them the following morning. And then I followed their wiggly, excited bodies in an effort to glean a photo showing this skirt I want to share with you. All I could grab was the skirt in everyday motion, which is absolutely how it is and will be.

And, of course the endless possibilities for styling their new frocks.

When I had some time to myself I, of course, took the opportunity to set up a self-timer and jump off their furniture to share my LE BAM skirt in motion, too. A different kind of savasana.

Happy Monday, Happy March friends. xoxo

Details about the fabric we used: Margot’s is heather teal athletic knit from JoAnns; waistband is a dance knit. Ruby’s is vintage polyester; waistband is bamboo knit. Mine is a lightweight heather sweater knit. If using a sweater knit or jersey knit you will notice it curls to one side. Be sure to have the curl on the right side of the skirt so the finished skirt doesn’t curl under.

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nervously, wistfully, thankfully

Everyone says

Last year at this time we were skiing in the streets.

Either nervously, wistfully or thankfully. We might not have the adverb in common but we do have the noticing in common: it’s unusually warm for February in western Montana. My garlic is coming up, my fruit trees budding. People are jogging in shorts. There are rumors of early bear activity in the hills.

There is a new space to our days that we don’t dare fill up. Things feel smoother than they have since we had our first kid seven years ago. Our daughters pick out their clothes and dress themselves, unload the dishwasher, feed the animals, remind me to return library books, argue and work it out before I even know what it is about.

We revel in the gloriousness of existing in this state of funky symbiosis, a new place on our life map. Things feels easy in ways they weren’t for years: we aren’t needed like we were; our offspring play together for hours in imaginary worlds and help themselves to snacks. And things feel hard in ways they weren’t for years: navigating this world where my daughters are further away than on my hip or further away than I can shout, bounding up the hillside deep into their own, bright self-discovery.

Margot: OK honey, and what would you like to eat?

Ruby: Oregano Soup

Margot, whispering and out of character: No Ruby, it has to be something I can spell. Like Lucy Soup or Phoebe Soup or…

Ruby: Oh ok. I’d like Ellie Soup please. And a side of Daddy Ice Cream.

There are still plenty of MAMAAAAAs singing from their bedroom as they sort out who gets to wear the tall green socks or sob over Ruby drawing a kitty in Margot’s secret diary without asking. While I am not needed for seatbelt buckling or baby wearing, I am needed in problem solving how to Margot might react to the kid who makes fun of beets in her lunchbox. I am needed to smooth out the “puffy parts” of Ruby’s tights every morning. I take my position as short-order cook for the throngs of their friends who come over. I braid hair and remind them to chew with their lips together. I am now the person they will remember when they are grown and talking about their earliest childhood memories to their friends at a bar.

I remember 5 and 7. My mom in the kitchen humming, slicing pickles, making sandwiches. My next door neighbor drowned a litter of kittens in our creek. Biking circles in the cul de sac, pink streamers from my handlebars. Skipping, my hand entirely inside my dad’s grip as we cleared football fields with each hop. Uno with my little brother. Our tree fort. My canopy bed. Strawberry Shortcake dolls. My babysitter Pam and her teal sweater. Driving with the top down on our red VW rabbit. My kindergarten teacher was like a perfect cup of hot cocoa on a snowy day. My first grade teacher was like the video I recently saw where the mama Osprey pecked her young to death.

Some things don’t change and I like those things just as much as I like the changes. I still carry my kids from their bed (or my bed) to the living room where they wake up in my lap every morning. I still call them Bug and Sweet Potato and they still like it. I still wash their clothes, make their meals, kiss their freckles and wrap my arms more than once around their bodies for a hug. They still think I know everything.

Ruby: Mama, the earth has birthdays like me so is it growing taller and bigger too? Does it get growing pains?

My mom just visited for a week and I wish she lived next door. That will happen in a few years when my parents retire and return to Missoula. She still calls me Burb. She still hums while cutting pickles. She dipped a fine tooth comb into a glass of water and smoothed my daughters’ hair into high ponytails. Ouch! they yelled and then asked for it again and again. I remember that whole scene on my own head like it happened this morning.

Margot and Ruby move about like strong, confident children. I *know* they are strong, confident children but it’s the way they move about lately — engaging with people and their own opinions, that makes me get it. The thing older parents tell you

Don’t blink. She’ll be moving away from home before you know it.

The cliché is so damn right on, its sweetness squeaks in my teeth like those leftover conversation hearts.


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Essentially: on our sweet smelling medicine cabinet

One of my most frequently asked questions is about our use of essential oils. I am learning as I go here (and obviously not a medical professional) but thought I’d share a bit about our use of oils, particularly to treat the flu last week. There’s an epic giveawy down there too! Additional resource, a piece I wrote for eHow: 9 Ways to Use Essential Oils to Improve Family Health.

:: :: ::

Like most kids in the 8os I ate antibiotics with breakfast. Anytime I felt any way other than great I feel like I took antibiotics. Noticing that my kids have each had antibiotics one time and that medicine in general seems different than it was when I was a kid, I asked my mom about it. Because my mom knows everything.

Me: What was medicine like when you were a kid? Did you take prescription medicine preventatively like I did when I was a kid?

Mom: No. When we were sick, my mother started with humidifiers, mustard packs, Vick’s VapoRub. She pushed fluids. We rested and ate popsicles on the couch and she kissed our foreheads.

Me: What is a mustard pack?!

Mom: Oh they were wonderful! I don’t know why I never gave them to your brother and you. Your dad grew up with them too, to treat his allergies. Hold on. Let me google it. Here:

Mustard Plasters (also known as Mustard Packs) have been used for centuries throughout the world as a natural folk remedy. Although they have been used to treat maladies from gout to sciatica, today we will focus on its usefulness in treating chest & lung congestion. As we enter the cold and flu season, if you get sick and can feel or hear phlegm in your lungs when you cough and you are finding it hard to cough the phlegm up and out, the mustard plaster can help.

Mustard is a rubefacient, which means it stimulates blood circulation through dilation of the capillaries, which, when applied over the lungs will help open them up and encourage expectoration of mucous that may be trapped. One of the reasons you want to stimulate coughing and moving the phlegm is that it can help prevent infection in the lungs and conditions such as bacterial pneumonia & bronchitis.

You mix dry mustard and flour and warm water and apply to cheesecloth and wrap the torso.

Me: How did your experiences with being treated for illness when you were a kid translate into your mothering of Travis and me?

Mom: I think when I was little I was taught by my mother (who was an RN) and my dad (pharmaceutical rep) that doctors where to be revered, almost God-like. Not to be questioned, we just accepted one person’s knowledge as the only solution. When you were sick I took you to the doctor to fix it, to make you feel better. I took my childhood reverence of doctors into motherhood. I didn’t really ask about other possible treatments when I was handed a prescription. It’s just what we did. My mom also worked her magic with some holistic healing – which I believe in all of us deep down – and I also took this into motherhood. I believe modern medicine definitely has it’s place, but Mother Nature’s medicine is also very powerful!

Me: Would you have done things differently if you knew what you know now?

Mom: Yes, some. There is power in learning, in understanding how bodies work, how medicine – eastern, western and everywhere in between. I have had many changes in my thinking as I have grown older: I now question information and seek different opinions. I am bold now. I am not timid in my questions. Today, your generation has the benefit of easier access to information and different opinions which I think gives you greater access to your confidence and greater trust in your intuition.

Me: So it is different but mostly the same: we do the best we can with the information we have. Thanks mom. You’re the best.

Mom: Love you Burb. See you on Sunday!

(my mama is coming to town for my birthday)

:: :: ::

Ruby had influenza last week. Honestly I probably wouldn’t even have known she had the flu because I wouldn’t have taken her to our doctor had she not been exposed to strep. If she had strep, we would have indeed given over to the power of antibiotics. She had a decent fever but I tend to let fevers run their course when possible. I asked my dear, old friend Dr. Julie Lyons her opinion on fever treatment:

I say treat the symptoms around the fever. If your child is in pain and miserable then fever reducing can be good. But there is nothing inherently wrong with a fever as long as it resolves within five days for most kids. It’s a sign of a robust immune response to a pathogen. The number one call I get at night is in regards to fever. I also see many unnecessary visits to the emergency room for fevers alone. I think education is key. It’s the symptoms that matter.

Ruby didn’t have strep but our doc did swab for the flu and the test was positive. It was good information. Particularly, that she was contagious for seven days — this was key because she was feeling well after two days and had I not known it was the flu we would have been out and about. We stayed home and dug into our illness arsenal: essential oils, rest, baths, movies, books and hydration.

So, the flu. We kicked the symptoms in two days and nobody else got sick so I am declaring a victory! Our protocol:

> Ibuprofen. During the initial 24-hour period, Ruby’s fever was consistently around 104. And she was incredibly achy and lethargic. We gave ibu every eight hours on that day to knock it back and it was so helpful. And awesome to see her spunk return for short bouts.

> Oils. We used: Oregano, Thieves, Lemon, Purification, Peppermint, Peace & Calming, RC, Melaleuca.

Our entire family applied Oregano and Thieves to the soles of our feet several times a day. Oregano and Thieves are antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic.

We put lemon oil in our water. Lemon is antiseptic, antiviral, invigorating.

I diffused oils 24 hours a day. I alternated between Thieves, Purification (antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, sanitizing), Peace & Calming (reduces stress and tension) and RC (assists with respiratory congestion, colds, sore throats), Melaleuca (antiseptic, soothing). We have this diffuser.

I applied peppermint oil on Ruby’s belly when she felt tummy blech. Or to a warm bath. Peppermint oil on feet is also successful at reducing fevers.

Morning baths with a few drops of Peace & Calming, RC and Melaleuca.

I applied RC to Ruby’s chest every few hours. RC is wonderful for respiratory relief. It is also my kids’ favorite scent so they like to smell it when I am applying their least favorite scent (Oregano).

> Smoothies, Tea and Lipton Brothy Soup. Pretty much all Ruby wanted to eat. Andy picked the Lipton soup up at the store and I told him that was what my mom always gave me when I was sick. “Yep,” he said. “Me too.” We avoided dairy. Smoothies contained a variety of frozen fruit, a banana and almond milk. I am a big fan of these lids and straws for smoothies.

> Fresh Air. We didn’t go far those first few days but it always feels good to get out, for the sick and the caretaker.

Essential oils have changed my family’s health, our lives. I write that and I want to reword it because it just sounds so SO. But I only tell you the truth and that is a true statement.

Our little box of oils are pretty much all we use for everything that ails us. From bruises to fevers to cuts to anxiety to colds to cold prevention to dry skin to sleeplessness to back pain to nausea to headaches. Everything. They work.

And The Reference Guide for Essential Oils is my favorite book. Mabel approves.

I was introduced to oils by my friend Erika (we did this post and this post together a while back). She is incredibly knowledgable about essential oils.

Erika sells Young Living Oils and is has some awesome offerings for you chickens! Plus she’s just a generally rad human.

  • A free Lemon Oil to anyone placing a $50 order during the month of February.
  • Sign up for the Premium Starter Kit HERE and you will receive a free reference guide.
  • Like Mama Loves Oils facebook page and leave a comment here for a chance to win an Essential Oil Starter Kit, valued at $163! Thanks, Erika. xo (comments closed and winner announced on Saturday, Feb 7) Winner: Lucky #47! Congrats Laura.

  • A free webinar! Beginning Essential Oils: a basic intro course on how to use essential oils for personal and family wellness. Meeting time is February 19th at 7pm (Mountain Time). The class is limited to 15 participants. Sign up by messaging Erika through her facebook page or via email: erikavosshickey @ gmail . com

Need help ordering or have questions? Contact Erika directly or ask away in the comment section here.

Also an important part of healing: big sister snuggles. We are doing research for a road trip next fall. Oh yes!

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enough space / kitchen reno

We have been living in a kitchen remodel since we moved into our home three years ago. Little by little, as we cam swing it (punny!), we have knocked out tile, a wall, another wall. We installed light fixtures, a dishwasher, a range, fridge, a sink. Currently, our counters and cabinets are cut up pieces of the original counter and cabinets screwed together. The counter we installed after taking out the south wall is our old bedroom closet door. We have several holes in the floor. It’s a mockup version of what we want. It functions great. Sure, I wish we could afford to just bang it all out in a month like all those homes my husband works on. But I’ve grown to really appreciate living with the mockup, living with the daydream of what it will someday be.

A few of the benefits of living with the mockup:

  1. We have changed our minds. We are testing it out and have found that things should move a bit from our original ideas.
  2. Waiting has allowed us to score some pretty awesome things. Like, last summer, we were given some leftover (gorgeous, designer, sea glass-looking) tile from a job my husband worked on. Enough to tile one entire wall and a backsplash. Like the range and sink (click links above).
  3. We are good daydreamers.
  4. We feel lucky now. When it is all done, we will value it more than ever.

I’ve not shared much of our progress here because I wanted to share it when there is the big, fancy before and after. Because who doesn’t love a good DIY before and after?! Truth is, our home renovations aren’t seamless and quick; they are not wave-a-wand-voila! There are a lot of guts between before and after. So, our before and during:

Looking south. Living room is back there.

Looking in from front door.

Looking north. The green door is our front door.


Looking west.

We lost a quite a bit of storage when we took out the south wall. It was the greatest change for us; that dark corner is now a bar counter with two stools (our girls favorite spot) – it is where all the kitchen action happens. Having limited storage space has forced us to choose what we really need. Seven pie plates? Five mixing bowls? Four spatulas? Two salad serving sets? Don’t need them. We store a lot of bulk food and kitchen items (like pressure cooker, serving dishes, extra wine glasses) in our garage.

This isn’t to say that things don’t get bananas in those few cabinets. We aren’t the most organized bunch. Every so often – when things have felt crammed and messy for a few months – I get a wild hair to sort and purge. It usually happens when I have coffee in hand and several other very pressing things to do.

During this process I always re-remember that we have enough space. There is always more than enough space.

As I consolidated and organized our pantry (a slender freestanding cabinet in our living room) recently, I took this photo. I will reference it the next time I say we don’t have any food in the house.

One of most-used pantry items is pancake mix. Thought I’d share our go-to recipe.

Pancake Mix

4 cups flour
1/2 cup ground flax (optional)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

To make pancakes, use 1 cup mix, 1 egg and 1 cup milk (almond milk is our favorite; any milk will work). Even if I am using 1/2 cup mix and 1/2 cup milk I still use one whole egg.

These cakes can be altered in so many ways. A few of ideas:

* add 1/2 cup almond butter and one mashed banana
* add yesterday’s leftover oatmeal
* add 1/2 cup cottage cheese (might need to add a bit more flour)
* add a few spoonfuls of jam

This year in the kitchen we hope to replace the vinyl floor. (so wishing the original linoleum could be saved!)

Next will be cabinets. Counter. We took the doors off one our current cabinets to see if we’d like open shelving for the stuff we like to look at – mostly handmade mugs, colored glass and vintage lovelies. We like it and plan to install thick wood bracketless shelving there. But it could all change, by the time we get to it. I’ll continue to dream and pin and enjoy the enough-space we’ve got.

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hump day nuggets: 2015 will be awesome

hump day nuggets: bits of the season in photos and words

Q: If Nuggets are started on a hump day but finished days later can they still be considered Hump Day Nuggets?

A: Yes.

My 20 year high school reunion is next year. It feels unbelievable to me. That I have now spent more of my life after school than the 18 years before it. Those 18 years were broken up by school years so long that I grew feet taller, summer breaks so long we had time to get grounded forever and still have lots of time left. What happened to that wagon-train time? When did it evolve to light-rail time?

Time is what I think about when I turn the calendar to a new page. This time last year. This time five years ago. Or was that seven years ago? Time is naturally very organized and predictable, except it isn’t at all in my brain.

This quote:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ― Maya Angelou

I really love those words and it is what I am thinking on a lot right now in my life – both in those I choose to interact with and listen to and in the impact I hope to have during my lifetime.  It’s simple enough – like the golden rule with wings.


:: Thank you so very much for your love and support always, but especially this last month since Alice died. I listened to your wisdom and felt your care. You all are the very best. Thank you.

:: Two little reindeer waited for our family to arrive on Christmas Eve.

:: We have a new puppy. I was certain we would get another adult dog. I never in a million years thought we’d get a puppy. But that is exactly what happened. Even when we went to look at the puppies I didn’t think we’d get a puppy. Andy was the most skeptical but then the ENTIRE litter crawled on him and only him. It worked! We fostered her (from the Humane Society) for two weeks – to make sure our brood of pets and people were a good fit for her and she for us. We finalized adoption last week. We named her Mabel.

:: Andy and I try to take two weeks off together every December-early January. We take it without pay so it requires some commitment, budgeting and planning. And every year we are so grateful we do it. After a few high-intensity months with both of our work lives, we settle into a staycation. I always think I will catch up…on laundry, photo organization, repotting plants, cleaning the spilled coffee grounds out of the tupperware drawer. But I never do get much of that done.

:: Ruby skied her first black diamond run at our ski hill. It was one of those moments – like buckling her own carseat, not needing a nap anymore or swimming without sinking – where Andy and I exchange a mental high five at this next phase of mobility and ability.

:: All I wanted for Christmas was snow, mostly so I could sled with my niece who was visiting from Portland. Christmas Eve delivered two tiny inches. Just enough to pull our snow pants over our pjs and head out in the morning. And then it continued to snow.

:: There was something especially wonderful about our holiday this year. Twenty two people came here, from near and far. Our home was overstuffed and loud. I didn’t take many photos. I did take it all in.

:: Margot made a prediction for you all this year. Let’s make it true. xo

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