Day 4 of #blacktober: “That One Time My Nana Stabbed a Man”

This illustration is less of an old wive’s tale or tradition and more of a story of a specific incident that resonates to this day. I remember my mother telling me this story some time early in my teenage years. When she was younger someone tried to break into their home. They broke the window alongside the front door, stuck their hand through the door, and attempted to unlock the door from the inside. Seeing this happen, my Nana immediately grabbed an ice pick and stabbed the person’s hand; causing them to rethink their attempted burglary and retreat. 

Why is this tale so important that my mother told it to me at the dawn of my womanhood and that I chose to illustrate it today? Why is it important for folks to know that my Nana — the same woman who could grow a garden out of nothing, who filled her home with the sweet scent of roses and baked goods — was capable of stabbing an intruder? Because right now more than ever we need that energy of protection. There is a strength that flows in our veins by way of our #ancestors that gives us the courage to stand up to the unthinkable and do what we have to do to protect our lives, our families, and our property. Now don’t get it twisted. This is not strictly about violence or having the courage to stab someone. This is about having the courage to go outside of your comfort zone to stand up for you and your family’s right to live in peace. 

This is the energy that says, “I am a being of bounty and creation, but I will cut you if you dare violate that which I have created.” 

And yet, as I was talking to my mom about this piece, she made one thing very clear. So often, we as Black women and femmes do not walk willingly into this role of the strong black woman. We don’t step into the world prepped and ready to be Batman dispensing vigilante justice. By contrast, we are just trying to live our lives, yet we are left vulnerable and unprotected. Everyone expects that the Strong Black Woman has “got this” and doesn’t need protecting. Doesn’t need support or community or to be shielded from the horrors of this world. Everyone expects that we can take care of ourselves. And when push comes to shove we most certainly can; otherwise, we wouldn’t have made it this far as a people. But constantly filling this roll takes a toll on us physically and spiritually. 

Your black friend may not be fine. Your black friend may be taking care of themselves and have a strong veneer, but still may be struggling on the inside. Your black friend is not your social justice attack dog on social media. Your black friend may also need someone to walk them home one night or keep an eye on their drink at the bar. Your black friend may be struggling to keep their head above water but has been socialized since birth to keep a stiff upper lip and “keep it moving.” Give us space to be soft and to be vulnerable. Give us space to feel safe.

Black Women need protecting, too.

“The Void”

How do we maintain perfect composure,

How do we pretend all is well,

While one by one Black lights are snuffed?

How does anything outside of a dutiful smile,

Invalidate our humanity,

Reduce us to a trope, a threat?

What happens to the screams that go unheard,

The anguish clenched within our chests,

pressing against stoppered throats?

What happens to the tears that go unshed,

A well held back by dammed eyes,

Salting the earth of our bodies?

What happens when our quiet cries coalesce,

Our stifled screams vibrate the void.

And our tears fill the azure abyss?

What happens when the resonance of our shared pain

Makes the earth sound like a bell,

Shattering the stifling silence?

What will be awakened by this clarion call?

What sum of all that’s been repressed

Which hides behind no grinning mask?

Whatever it is,

It.

Is.

Livid.

@NerdyBlackMom

This poem has been on my heart for a little while now. A friend of mine made a post asking if anyone wanted to just angry scream into a hole in the ground with him. Since we’re D&D buddies, comments about what kind of eldritch horror would emerge ensued. And it got me thinking about the anger that’s been passed down and compounded from generation to generation, and about “wearing the mask” like Paul Lawrence Dunbar so eloquently wrote. What would happen if 400 years of repressed emotion materialized into an actual creature? In a way, that’s kind of what’s going on right now.

Woven Wrap Review: Emmeline Textiles 110th and Morningside

Last Friday, Emmeline Textiles released the latest in their 110th line of woven wraps, entitled Morningside. This purple wrap is a thicker than the previous releases in the 110th line and is worthy of toting many a toddler, but it still maintains many of the same soft and supple qualities that make it lovely for a newborn.

How Does It Look?

PURPLE! Morningside has a rich violet weft that is muted by the ecru warp. The 110th pattern of small lines almost resembling chromosome mappings is abstract without being overwhelming. It reminds me of a toned down version of funky 60’s patterns, or some kind of secret code being sent in a retro spy movie. The purple warp makes it all the more vibrant, since the ecru stands out against the purple, but can still be seen in the weave, creating almost a staticy background on which the 110th pattern rests.

How Does it Feel?

In hand, Morningside has a bit of heft and texture. It’s not baby bottom smooth, but it definitely is not scratchy or rough. It just has a bit of “sass”. The ecru-dominant side is a bit smoother than the purple-dominant side. This creates a lovely grip to glide ratio. The 110th pattern actually creates little pockets of textured ridges that help out in the grip department and also just makes the wrap fun to touch and fiddle around with. It was easy to get the second pass of a double hammock in place, and once it was there it stayed put. When summer wearing, it did not chafe bare shoulders or my little guy’s legs.

For being so sturdy, 110th has a lovely drape. It flows and moves with ease and is a pleasure to wrap with. When rushing to run errands or going up for a quick wrap-job, this wrap doesn’t fight back. It flows like water, which I did not expect of a wrap with such texture.

Is It Comfortable?

Nerdy Mixed Baby (Toddler?) is now 32lbs and 39” tall. I’m wearing him less and less, (Somebody hold me…) for the sole fact that he’s large and independent. When we do wrap, It’s mainly a double hammock and its variations. That being said, this wrap holds strong in a double hammock and held up to NMB’s weight like no tomorrow. No sagging, no mystery pockets of slack. No shoulder pressure. It. Just. Worked. And I’m used to super thick and grippy wraps with NMB now, ones that have the sturdiness to carry a big kid in a single layer but sometimes will lack the snuggliness. 110th was a happy medium. It’s sturdy enough for my large toddler and my picky shoulders It was even comfortable in a ruck tied at the shoulder for a quick trip to change over the laundry. Despite it’s strength, it is also soft and moldable enough to give us that snuggly feel like we had when I wrapped him as an infant. You get a smooth chest pass, a tight wrap job, and stellar support. Temperature- wise, 110th also isn’t so thick that it is overbearing in the summer heat.

Care and Keeping?

This wrap is 100% cotton and can be machine washed and tumble dried until damp and then line dried the rest of the way. Anything that can be put in the dryer is amazing in my book. It also did not take very long to dry! It held up to having its tails dragged in parking lots, as per usual, and being stolen by NMB and dragged around the living room for a game of peek-a-boo. This wrap also folds up rather compact for being so sturdy. It was easy to bring along in a diaper bag and would make an excellent contingency shorty.

The Verdict (aka TL;DR):

Pros:

Beautiful combination of grip and glide

Purple!!!

Toddler worthy

Would make a great diaper bag shorty

Cons:

Wouldn’t be my first choice in a single layer carry with my almost-preschooler. (But for those of you with smaller little ones, I would definitely give it a shot! My guy is just heavy and tall now.)

110th Morningside is a gorgeous purple wrap that can fill the needs of a newborn wrap and an older-toddler wrangler, and I dare-say it could make the perfect One Wrap to Rule them All! You can find the posting for 110th and Morningside here.

(Image of a bespectacled black mom with black and brown locs wearing a light brown toddler in a purple wrap with an ecru pattern of small white lines. They are indoors next to a pumpkin wall hanging.)

(Disclaimer: I am a brand representative for Emmeline Textiles and am doing this review as a part of this role. The thoughts and opinions on the wrap are my own.)

Recipe: Chicken and Spinach Meatballs (No Egg, No Breadcrumbs)

We’re embarking down the path of attempting to feed a picky eater who also happens to have food allergies. One of Nerdy Mixed Baby’s favorite foods is those frozen meatballs from the grocery store, yet when I tried to give him homemade meatballs (or a burger for that matter) he would just nibble at it and walk away. And let’s not even talk about vegetables.  Then one day I remembered a friend of mine mentioning that one way to make homemade chicken nuggets taste more similar to store-bought is to process the chicken into a paste and then shape it into nugget form. So, I decided to try this with chicken meatballs.

Processing the meatball mixture in the food processor helps to give the meatballs the homogenous texture that seems to appealing to picky toddlers while still keeping the meat tender and juicy. Pulverizing the meat into a fine paste also makes it so that no binder/filler is needed. This recipe has no eggs and no breadcrumbs! It even pulverizes blanched spinach so that it would be completely hidden if it didn’t turn the meatballs a fun shade of green. Best of all they have been Toddler Approved!

Chicken and Spinach Meatballs

1 lb ground chicken

5oz baby spinach (about half of one of those prewashed bags)

2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (optional if you are going dairy-free)

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Olive oil (or your oil of choice)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. add spinach and cook for about 1 minute until wilted. remove from the pot and run under cold water until cool. Set aside.
  3. Add all the ingredients, including the cooked spinach, into a food processor. Process until all ingredients are blended together and you have a smooth consistent texture.
  4. lightly oil your hands with olive oil (or your oil of choice) to keep the meat from sticking to your hands. Form the meat into ping pong ball sized balls. Chill in the refrigerator for about half an hour or until they have firmed up and you are ready to cook.
  5. Coat the bottom of a cast iron with a thin film of olive oil and place over medium-high heat, and brown the meatballs.  Do not cook all the way through.
  6. Place the entire pan of meatballs into the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the meatballs have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. (If you do not have a cast iron skillet or other oven safe skillet, just brown the meatballs in a regular pan and then transfer to a baking dish.)
  7. Enjoy!

Hopefully these meatballs help to broaden your options for those of you with food allergies, picky eaters, or even just those of you looking for a new weeknight meal.  As with all recipes, it is up to you to decide whether or not this recipe is a safe option for your family, particularly when dealing with allergies. Remember to read all ingredient and nutrition information on the ingredients you buy.

IMG_2546

(Close-up image of light brown chicken meatballs with flecks of green spinach throughout. They are in a black cast iron skillet.)

It’s a Ring Thing (Part 1): Using a Sling Ring in Place of a Knot

This is part one in a little mini-series detailing all the fun things you can do with sling rings.

Everything is going right. You have a cooperative wrappee. You’ve got your favorite wrap. You got your go-to wrapjob just right. Then it happens. Your tails are too short to tie a double knot. You can get a solid half knot or maybe even tie a square knot by the tips of your tails, but it’s just not holding like you’d like. It happens. Our base sizes change as our own bodies and the bodies of the tiny humans we wrap grow with time. Or maybe you’re new to wrapping and tried to figure out your base size from the internet and your wrap ended up being just a bit too short for what you want to do.

What’s a wrapper to do? Time to buy another wrap in your new base size? While it’s always enticing to add more pretty fabric to your stash of pretty fabric, it’s not always in the budget. Time to research new carries that will work with your now-shorter wrap? Yes you can do that too. This is how we discover new carries that might be just what the doctor ordered! But sometimes you just want to default to your old standby in your favorite wrap. For me, when I’m vacuuming with Nerdy Mixed Baby on my back, I want to do a double hammock. Fiddling with any other carry just isn’t going to cut it. Or when I’m out, in the parking lot, I just want to do a ruck variation with one of my favorite shorty wraps. I’m not going to try to figure out a new carry in the Target parking lot.

The solution I’ve found is to just put a ring on it! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Using a sling ring to tie off a carry in lieu of a square knot requires less tail length, is easily adjustable (which is full fo win for getting out slack and for carries tied at the shoulder), and lies flat against your body, which I actually find more comfortable than a bulky knot.

But wait… What’s a sling ring?

A sling ring is a specially made aluminum ring (though i think some nylon ones exist too) used for ring sling baby carriers. These rings are weight tested and are also tested to be safe for if/when your child chews on them. They also are smooth all around with no welded join points so neither you, your baby, nor your wrap will get snagged on any sharp edges. In the US, they are primarily produced and sold by slingrings.com, though many of your favorite wrap retailers will also carry them in their accessories section. And they cost anywhere from $5-$11 which is a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a new wrap.

So now that you know what a sling ring is, here’s how I use one to tie off a wrap.

1) Position the ring on top of one of your tails a few inches from the end so you have enough to pull up a small loop.

2) Pull the tail through the ring (but not completely) to create a small loop.

3) Reach your fingers through the loop you just created

4) Grab the fabric of the other tail with the fingers you just put through the loop.

5) Pull that tail completely through the loop. You now have a sort of X with the ring at its center

6) Tighten and enjoy!

You may need to experiment with different ring sizes. My standard is Large size rings, but some thinner wraps might hold better with medium rings and some thicker wraps with extra large. I believe the sling rings website has sampler packs you can buy so you have one of each size.

(Six-image collage numbered 1-6 from top to bottom left to right. Number 1 shows a silver sling ring placed over the tail of a silvery-blue square pattern wrap by a brown-skinned hand. Number 2 shows a small loop of the wrap fabric being brought through the sling ring. Number 3 shows the same hand reaching through the loop of fabric. Number 4 shows the hand (still through the loop of fabric) grabbing the opposite tail of fabric. Number 5 shows the hand pulling the fabric through the ring. Number 6 shows the finished produce of two tails of fabric crossed through a sling ring in an X shape. There is a white box on the right side of image number 4 that says “Sling Ring Knot Tutorial.” )

(Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with slingrings.com. I just think sling rings are a cool way to increase the life of a favorite wrap that’s just a bit too short.)

Woven Wrap Review: Midnight Sky Kaleidoscope by Apple Blossom Wovens

Apple Blossom Wovens sent me their Midnight Sky Kaleidoscope Royal (aka “MSK Royal”) as part of their traveling wrap program. This is their Midnight Sky warp featuring a gradient from a rich pinkish purple fading to a deep midnight blue with small streaks of magenta and white. Royal features a royal blue weft woven in ABW’s new Kaleidoscope weave, an intricate pattern that when you look at it closely it creates the feel of looking through… well… a kaleidoscope.

How Does It Look?

Some wraps are classic. Some elegant. Some scream glam while others invoke the feeling of your favorite fandom. Meanwhile, MSK Royal ignites the imagination. The color gradient of the warp perfectly recreates the colors of the sky at midnight, with a hint of purple at the horizon for good measure. The kaleidoscope weave pattern then takes this wrap’s beauty to another level. The intricate and ever-changing pattern of the royal blue across the weft creates the feeling of being in a nebula as new stars are being created. The streaks of white created by the “floats” in the weave become the streaks of starlight as you approach light speed in your starship of choice. Midnight Sky takes you on an interstellar adventure. To me it brings back memories of stargazing with my dad on a clear summer night and daydreaming of one day joining Starfleet and traveling at warp speed while watching episodes of Star Trek. MSK Royal is beautiful, breathtaking, and downright mesmerizing.

(Image of the knot of a blue/purple gradient woven wrap with streaks of white, purple, black, light blue, and magenta.)

How Does It Feel?

Apple Blossom Wovens is known for creating machine woven wraps that feel like handwovens, and MSK Royal is no exception. The thick threads and small floats interspersed through the weave create a feeling of a cushy handwoven. MSK is fairly thick in hand and blankety soft. Despite being thick, the weave is surprisingly airy. My tester was a base+2, so there was a lot of fabric and it was a little hot while doing our “Can I vacuum the house in it?” Test, but I imagine that as a shorty or mid-range wrap it would not overwhelm you.

Texture-wise it is a delightful middle ground of dry and soapy. It’s not too silky smooth, but it’s also not rough. When you run your hands across it it reminds you of your favorite woven blanket or scarf. It is not irritating in the slightest against bare skin. It is reminiscent of ABW’s linen/cotton blend Soulshine Magenta (link), only it lacks that little bit of toughness that the linen gave Soulshine. However, it is still wonderfully sturdy. It creates thick, cushy, soft ruck straps and molds easily to you and your wearee’s bodies.

Is It Comfortable?

MSK Royal is decidedly worthy of toting around a 30lb toddler! While it may be Soulshine Magenta’s gentler, bluer cousin, it still can hold its own. I could wear NMB all day in this wrap. The thick cushy shoulders and lovely moldability that I mentioned above make for a wrap job that doesn’t start to rub you the wrong way or irritate you over time. I would wrap myself in this on the daily, if I could. Would that be weird? I’ll answer that for you. No.

On the grip-glide ratio, MSK Royal once again is the perfect middle ground. Since this was a base+2 I did multi-pass carries almost exclusively. It was easy to maneuver even with extra length. I could work the second and third passes of my carries into place with ease and do little micro adjustments later on without being hampered by too much grip. However, there was still just enough grip for the passes to stay in place once I got them where I needed them to be. It’s got a nice bit of diagonal stretch. Not super ace bandage stretch, but enough to create a feeling of the wrap hugging you and your baby with its blankety softness.

Care and Keeping

MSK Royal is 100% cotton. I’ve washed it twice already and it is as simple as a wash on cold/delicate and a tumble dry on low. YES you can tumble dry this wrap! I received this wrap already washed and dried, though if you get one new you will have to follow ABW’s instructions to wash it to set the weave. Don’t skip this step. Don’t. The slightly looser weave of this wrap that gives it its signature look and feel can make it a little pull-prone, but it is very easy to work a pull back into place if it does happen to get snagged on a ring, zipper, or broken nail. I would not let that deter you from trying this wrap.

The Verdict (aka TL;DR)

Pros:

Beautiful!!!!

Seriously the color and weave spark the imagination

Sturdy and toddler-worthy

Moldable enough for a smaller baby

Blankety soft

Nice balance of grip to glide

Not too dry not too soapy

Easy Care

Cons

Loose weave structure can be a bit pull prone

May get a bit hot in multi-layer carries

I cannot get enough of Midnight Sky Royal and am anxiously awaiting its release so I can get one for myself. Apple Blossom Wovens has figured out a way to capture starlight within a woven wrap. It’s easy to work with, feels soft and comfy in hand, is soft enough for a squish but strong enough for a toddler. This is a wrap that can take you through the entirety of your babywearing years and then snuggle you once your babywearing days are over.

(Diagonal image of a bespectacled black mom with locs wearing a light brown toddler in a blue/purple gradient woven wrap with the tails crossed across her chest.)

(Disclaimer: I received this wrap as a tester from Apple Blossom Wovens as a part of their traveling wrap program. The opinions expressed here are my own.)

Woven Wrap Review: Soul Slings Fennel Handwoven

Soul Slings has a line of handwoven wraps all named after spices! I loved their Prism series of handwovens, so when the chance to try a traveling Fennel handwoven came along, I jumped at the opportunity. I tried out a Fennel in a base-1 and it was very much unlike anything I had tried before.

How Does It Look?

Fennel has a classic check pattern featuring squares of a lovely teal/emerald green, an elusive mustard yellow that appears more orange in some lights, and squares where the two colors mix. I was worried that the pattern would look a little too picnic blanket-esque on me, but wearing it actually gave me the look of wearing a nice flannel shirt. Simple and classic, this wrap is all about making the colors stand out.

How Does It Feel?

Despite looking like a soft flannel shirt, Fennel is anything but flannel-y. It is thin in hand but dense and has texture like no other. The weave is tight and grippy without being too scratchy against the skin. On the dry to soapy scale it is definitively dry. There are no questions. No middle ground. It is also light and airy. It didn’t give me that feeling like I was wearing another layer of clothing like most wraps did. It almost disappeared and let the air flow through between myself and baby. I would love to try this out during the summer to see how it hold up to 90 degree weather, but it kept me and NMB cool while doing housework.

Is It Comfortable?

Fennel makes lovely pleats and lays almost flat against your shoulders. For being so thin feeling it is surprisingly strong. I will say that with a 30lb toddler, it does require a bit of precision tightening to make sure you don’t have any pressure points, but not as much as some other thin wraps I’ve tried. It’s strength and density make up for the thin-ness.

I will say that I am more of a fan of soapy wraps with more glide than I am of dry grippy ones. I tend to get the basis of the wrap job done first and then fiddle and do micro adjustments once NMB is secured to my body. (That’s #ToddlerLife for you. Just get ‘em up and worry about the precision tightening later.) With that being said, having a wrap like Fennel with SO much grip was difficult for me, particularly with multi-pass carries. The wrap would grip nicely at the onset of my wrap job and would hold tight rather than allowing for the tiny adjustments I typically use to get out extra slack. This resulted in what my friends and I have come to call “Magic Slack.” That slack that shows up about 10-15 minutes into your wrap job while you’re in the middle of something and surprises you with a pressure point on your already picky shoulder. This is a result of my own wrapping tendencies though. The super grip made me think I had a second pass in the right place, but in reality I could have gotten it higher or tighter. On the rare occasions that I took the time right off the bat to get my passes secure and in place right as I was initially wrapping, Fennel held like a boss and had a smooth, comfortable feel. So if you’re one of those wrappers who gets their passes in place the first time this wrap would shine in your hands!

Care and Keeping

The dense weave of this wrap makes it powerfully pull-resistant. It is 100% cotton which makes for easy care (machine wash cold or hand wash if you prefer). Its tails have been dragged along parking lots and there were no pulls to be seen and no staining either. Fennel folds up relatively small as well, so it would make for a great wrap to keep in a diaper bag without having too much bulk.

How Does It Compare to the Prism handwovens?

I would say Fennel feels a little thinner in hand and has much more grip. While Prism breaks in to have a bit more of a blankety softness and slightly less microtexture, Fennel retains its grip and “oomph” which gives it a bit more toddler-wrangling strength, with the chance of being a bit more diggy depending on your wrap job.

The Verdict (aka TL;DR)

Pros:

Classic pattern

Easy Care

Strong and Sturdy

Workhorse

Cons

Lots of grip

Like a LOT of grip

(Though grip may be your thing, so it’s really only a con for me)

Soul’s Fennel handwoven is a strong workhorse with a simple classic look. If you love grippy wraps, this will be an instant favorite in your stack for a long time to come.

(Image of a bespectacled black mom with locs in a sea foam green shirt wearing a light brown toddler who is holding a book. They are wrapped in a teal/emerald green and mustard checked wrap with the tails crossed across her chest.)

(Disclaimer: I received this wrap as a tester from a friend. I was not compensated in any way for my review, and the opinions expressed here are my own.)

Quick and Simple Gift Giving: Christmas Cocoa

Every year for as long as I can remember, my family would send tins of Christmas cookies to the neighbors. My mom says that it was actually my idea. I can’t remember for the life of me, but I’ll take the credit! It very soon snowballed and turned into a yearly baked-goods exchange. Christmas Eve became filled with visits from neighbors, walks around the block to deliver cookies, and returning home to find tons of sweets nestled in the chairs of our front porch. It’s a tradition that I was eager to carry over when NWH and I moved into our first home. ow, NMB is beginning to get into it! He loved walking to each of our neighbors’ houses, dragging his lawn mower with him (it’s his new “thing”), knocking on doors, and shouting “Merry Christmas!”

This year I’ve been on a homemade hot cocoa kick and decided to make Christmas Hot Cocoa instead of the usual cookies or fudge. It’s quick, requires few ingredients, can be mixed up in large batches, and little ones can join in on the mixing action, if you’re so inclined. This is an adaptation of the recipe from my favorite YouTube chef, Chef John.

Christmas Hot Cocoa Mix

(Makes approximately eight 8oz mason jars plus a little extra for yourself)

4c cocoa powder

6c sugar

4tsp salt (the salt is key to bringing out the sweetness! Don’t omit it!)

3tsp cinnamon

4 pinches of ground cayenne pepper

Mix all this up and put into mason jars, or whatever funky festive containers you like. When you’re ready to serve, mix two heaping tablespoons of he mix with 8oz of hot milk. I like to add a splash of vanilla for some extra flavor, as well. Mix and serve!!!

And here’s the conversion for a single cup, for when you just want a little bit of cocoa for yourself and don’t feel like making a huge batch.

One-Cup Cocoa Conversion

1tbsp cocoa powder

1.5 tbsp sugar

1 pinch salt

1 pinch cinnamon

1 pinch cayenne

Enjoy!!!

(Three Image collage of a toddler in a blue hat holding a lawn mower, a whit envelope with a cocoa recipe on top of mason jars, and a ribbon-wrapped mason jar filled with cocoa mix on a counter in front of a candle.)

Winter Solstice: Hope in the Dark

Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year where we hunker down and prepare for winter. The short days, the cold weather, the ice and snow that stretches our commutes from minutes to hours all seem to loom over us. Still, there is something celebratory about Winter solstice. Despite the fact that we feel so far from the sun’s warmth (even though the earth is actually closer to the sun, our hemisphere is just tilted away from it), starting now the days are actually getting longer. Little by little, day by day, we turn back toward the sun. Through the biting cold that numbs our noses and freezes our fingertips, we are warmed by the knowledge that each day is a little bit brighter. It’s funny, really. The Earth’s cycles are situated in such a way that we are never without hope. We are never without some source of light and warmth. We have the hope of spring and days growing ever longer, the bright blazing warmth of the summer sun, and the last bits of warmth tempering the crisp autumn winds and shortening days. Most of all, even in the depths of winter we are given a glimmering light that grows brighter every day.

Happy Winter Solstice, friends!

Wrap Review: Emmeline ‘Foxglove’ by Emmeline Textiles

I took the plunge and hosted a natty-colored wrap. The lovely folks at Emmeline Textiles were nice enough to send me their signature Emmeline wrap in their newest natty colorway called “foxglove” in a size 4. Foxglove is the first in Emmeline Textiles’ Quintessential Collection, creating the same high quality wraps we’ve come to expect from the company and selling them at a lower price point with the sole purpose of making these amazing wraps financially accessible to a wider audience of wrappers. And people, this 100% Pima cotton goodness just may have converted me to Team Natty.

(“Natty” is basically a term for wraps where the fibers haven’t been dyed and are still their natural color, hence the term “natty”. Get it? Get it? In this case, and most cases, the wrap is a soft beige/ecru color.)

How Does It Look?

The Emmeline pattern is a soft damask pattern. Think old school Victorian leafy scrollwork. And it is gorgeous. The pattern is delicate, ethereal, and changes as the wrap folds and pleats with your wrap job. If you look carefully, you can see that the tips of some of the scrollwork actually transitions into lowercase letter E’s. It’s like a hidden Easter egg in a wrap! Damask is kind of my thing. It makes my Renn Faire-loving, corset-wearing heart sing. However, I know quite a few people who shy away from it because it can be considered to fancy, too frilly. But let me tell you, the Emmeline design is simply divine in Foxglove’s natty colorway. Since it is ecru on ecru, the pattern is displayed through the differences in the weave pattern rather than differences in color. The satin weave shimmers gently, creating a subtle pattern that lightly dances across the wrap and appears and disappears with the changes in light. This wrap screams refined elegance. Not that something refined and elegant would actually scream, but you get the idea. Foxglove will go with the fanciest of outfits, will make you feel a little dressed up when you’re wearing jeans and a tshirt, but also goes just as well on those sweats and a hoodie days.

How Does It Feel?

Emmeline Foxglove was the wrap that introduced me to the wrapping term “soapy”. It feels cool to the touch kind of like when you run your hand across soapy water. It is not so soapy that it actually feels wet (as I’ve been told some wraps can feel), but it feels so good. Honestly, it feels like nothing I’ve ever felt before. Actually, it feels like nothing. I’m pretty sensitive to textures (especially in the summer when wearing tank tops, which was when I tested this wrap) and this wrap is so soft and smooth that it feels like nothing! Makes me able to wear for longer periods because there’s nothing rubbing me the wrong way. And it feels like LO and I are held together as one without any wrap between us. It’s magical! I get some pretty painful eczema flare ups on my hands and Emmeline glides over my hands without making things worse. It feels like pure amazing. And it makes it so much easier to tie knots at the tippy tails because it just moves into place. There is no fighting.

Foxglove feels thin in hand but is surprisingly dense and strong. Shoulder passes pleat nicely and lay flat. The wrap is very moldable and introduced me to the wrap quality known as ace bandage stretch. The wrap stretches diagonally along the bias (not horizontally like a stretchy, knit wrap) that allows it to mold around our bodies and get a snug fit. Then, rather than being unmoving while holding Nerdy Mixed Baby, Natty Emmeline moves with him. It has recoil, which allows him to bounce around on my back, reach around me to press the buttons on the washing machine, and then snap back into place without undoing the wrapjob. It also makes it nice for the wearer because yet again, the wrap moves with you as well, which reduces digginess and pressure points. Foxglove doesn’t take these wrap qualities to the extreme, but they are pronounced enough to make the wrap shine.

Is It Comfortable?

I feel like I covered this a bit above. The ace bandage stretch and the smooth, soapy texture make this wrap a lovely gentle experience. Honestly, I feel like if you or your wrapee are sensitive to texture or have sensitive skin, it is worth giving this a try.

But how does it hold up to a 30lb toddler? Surprisingly well! I was surprised that a wrap that appeared to be so delicate would have as much strength as it did. With some precision tightening, I was able to wear NMB in a reinforced ruck and a ruck tied under bum for quick errands. I’m sure with a smaller baby, it would be wonderful for longer wearing in these carries as well. Where this wrap shined with me and NMB was with multi-layer carries. I loved it in a Shepard’s carry and would love to have had a bit more length to do a full double hammock. It was easy to glide the passes into place. Once the passes were into place they stayed there and the wrapjob wasn’t bulky. You do have to take a little extra care to make your knots extra tight and secure, as the glidey texture can make a hastily tied double knot become a half knot if you’re not careful. However, that same glide is what makes the knots easy to tighten. It doesn’t fight you like some grippier wraps do.

Umm…. It’s an Off-White Baby Wrap. How Do I Take Care of It?

Don’t fear the Natty!!! My motto is “If the tails can’t drag, it’s not in my diaper bag.” And Emmeline Foxglove is no exception. Yes, it’s an off-white wrap, it appears delicate and elegant, but it does not stain or pull easily. I’ve gotten food on this wrap and let the tails drag in the parking lot, all of which washed out with a quick cold wash. When we were surprised by a stomach bug (I would not have been wearing NMB in a loaner wrap if I had known beforehand that he had a stomach bug), and let’s just say, Foxglove was returned to its sweet ecru perfection with just a rinse and then a run through the washer on delicate. As with all Emmeline Textiles wraps, it is line dry only, but it dries quickly and the crunchiness that comes with line-drying works its way out after a couple of wears.

The Verdict (aka TL;DR)

Pros:

Gorgeous, subtle yet elegant pattern

Strong enough for a toddler in multipass carries

Ace bandage stretch for days

So smooth, soapy, and non-irritating

Easy to clean

Cons

The glide makes you have to be more precise with your knots

It’s soapy (which is a pro for me, but a con for my friends who prefer drier wraps)

At $99 for ANY size, Emmeline Foxglove is definitely worth a try if you are curious about natty wraps, curious about soapy wraps, curious about that elusive ace-bandage stretch, or just curious about the Emmeline Textiles brand in general. It is fun, elegant, graceful, and glorious. Foxglove is being released on Friday (12/1/2017) via right to buy.

Hold Up! WTF is “Right to Buy”?

Right to buy” is basically where rather than the wrap being released on the website and whoever has the fastest fingers (and the fastest internet connection) gets the wrap before it sells out, you fill out a form stating your intention to buy the wrap and your top size preferences. Then after a period of time (usually 24ish hours) names are drawn randomly. These people are invoiced for the cost of the wrap and have a set amount of time to pay, otherwise the invoice is passed on to another randomly selected entry. This is a way to help even the playing field for people who may not be able to camp out at their computers all day waiting to snap up a wrap release.

(Image of a bespectacled black mom with locs wearing a light brown toddler in an ecru wrap. They are indoors. The mom is wearing a yellow shirt and is moving hair away from her face.)

(Disclaimer: I received this wrap as a traveling tester from Emmeline Textiles. I was not compensated in any way for my review, and the opinions expressed here are my own.)