Labor of Love

A labor of love. Hm. It’s a strange term, or at least I think it is, because when I do something for someone I love, it doesn’t feel like labor. It feels…well…kind of wonderful…as though I’m doing something meaningful, something that will last. Here’s an example.

Back in the 1980s, I was a stay-at-home mom (aka a woman with a 24/7 unsalaried job and considered herself the luckiest woman in the world). I loved to sew, and that’s what I did with any spare time I could carve out of my busy schedule. In those days I made most of my clothes and a lot of clothes for my kids as well. I also did lots of crafty stuff, and when I came across this Butterick pattern for a child’s travel bag, I fell in love with it and knew my daughter, a preschooler at the time, would love it too.

So cute! And here’s my interpretation.

On the front of the bag there’s an apple tree, and the apples are stitched to Velcro so they can be picked and tucked into the little basket on the ground next to the tree. The barn door is also a pocket that’s home to a felt horse finger puppet.

Inside the bag there’s a bed on the left-hand side where a sweet little ragdoll sleeps, and on the right there’s a zippered pocket for my daughter’s nightgown and a change of clothes for the next morning. And you can see that the doll and my daughter had matching nightgowns!

There’s also a little zippered case for a toothbrush and toothpaste, a hairbrush and hair elastics, and any other little things a child will need while she’s away from home.

At the time I was making this charming little travel bag for my daughter, I was reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder to her. In those stories, Laura had a ragdoll named Charlotte and that’s the name my daughter gave to this one. How sweet is that?

After all these years, I’m impressed that this little travel bag and all of its components are still intact—even the doll’s little nightcap! The only thing missing is one apple from the tree, but I can easily make another.

Best of all, my now-adult daughter is really grateful I kept this for her. She has even agreed to let her adorable little niece (aka my gorgeous granddaughter!) play with it when she comes for visits! For me, it’s rewarding to know another generation will get to enjoy this not-at-all-laborious “labor of love.”

And now it’s your turn. What do you love to do for your loved ones?

Until next time,

Garden Vignettes

For many years, I’ve wanted to establish a side garden on the south-facing side of our house. Last year, my wish came true.

Handy Man dug up the narrow strip of sod between the sidewalk and the cedar hedge, and we enriched the remaining soil with compost. On the shady side by the hedge, I’ve planted edible herbs (sage and thyme) and dusty millers because the deer don’t like them. There are also ferns and a few ornamental grasses, purple pansies and deep blue lobelia. Nestled amongst them is my vintage garden gnome, introduced in an earlier post.

Behind the hydrangea on the sunny side of this narrow garden, I planted sunflowers and tomatoes. Happier bedfellows I have never seen. Honey bees (someone nearby must have hives) have swarmed the sunflowers all summer, and I anticipate chickadees this fall. Meanwhile, a bumper crop of luscious, vine-ripened tomatoes has been gracing our dinner table for weeks.

But what truly turned this little side garden into my happy place was a another thrift store find—a rusted cast iron welcome plaque that Handy Man spry painted a cheery red and mounted on the gate.

So there you have it. Welcome to my side garden!

Until next time,