Sunday, December 7, 2008


I had grand plans to finish all my Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving this year. Yeah, you're right. I'm just not that kind of girl. There are so many things I would like to do for the holidays and yet, I just don't feel like I have the time. I was thrown this weekend due to a fall on Friday (yes, I am getting old). I fell in a parking lot while carrying my 21-month-old son. No, not wearing heels or anything, just walking down a slight hill on my way to a bakery of all places. Somehow I fell and managed to save Jack from harm but scrapped up both my knees, ripped my pants and sprained my ankle. Yes, our weekend plans changed from dinner in the city with old friends to a movie at the local multiplex and a few hours at Barnes & Noble (one of our favorite date nights). Actually, we had a great time, but it has slowed me down.

Anyway, I've been scurrying around in my little grey cottage making holiday preparations. I don't do too many handmade gifts because, sadly, I've found many of those on my list just aren't that into them. Well, to each his/her own. I will persist however, in making some tokens, and hope they are well-loved or at least, liked.

Another round of book bags. Pattern from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing. I like her proportions and construction. I think those will pair with some pashminas I got in the city and perhaps a book in each from the aforementioned Barnes & Noble trip.

Some mittens for moi. Only one pictured, the other one does not have a pink thumb. Just because.

I did finish my portrait of one of my sons last week. I will have to take a picture and post it next week. I couldn't save that one until Christmas.

First snowfall today. Of course, I dashed out to capture that perfect snowy-Christmas-card photo. Not quite!

Tomorrow when everyone's back to school (I had a sick child home for all of last week too), I'm going to put up the wreaths and the outdoor lights. I think I'd like to surprise everyone with a little holiday magic. I have grand plans for another tree outside, but we'll see if it works out in real life to be as glorious as it is in my head.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Weird Habits

I had to laugh today when I realized I was uploading 26 bread shots into my iphoto library. Is this weird? Yes. Would I have done such a thing in the days of film? Probably not. Actually, even if I took said shots in those days, I wouldn't have printed, scanned them and posted them online. Too much trouble. I guess that's why everyone shoots everything these days. Weird? Maybe. Fun? Absolutely.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday greetings?

It was crazy hair day at school. I am now seriously considering recreating this look for the kids for the Holiday card. We have a nice, lovely, boring family portrait ready to go, but I think crazy hair in red and green might be contenders.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mitten Smitten

I've started knitting again, and rather frantically. That's sort of how I roll with knitting. Hot or Cold. No warm. I have too large of a stash of yarn which has sat in a big black plastic tub for about the last year while I fell in love with the new boy in town -- my Bernina. Knitting's greatness really lies in its portability. My sewing machine lives out in the epynonymous grey cottage, hence unless toddler is asleep, it's challenging to get a block of time out there. On the other hand, if I do find a block of time (falling mysteriously from the sky), I can whip things out much more quickly on the sewing machine. And I am a big fan of the whipping things out school of craft. Must admit.

Here's a mitten shot from a two year old pair. Knit with noro silk garden and along for the walk in woods yesterday. The new pair (knit from an old ball of Colinette Skye) is simply awaiting thumbs. I'm thinking about doing the thumbs in a contrasting color, just because...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Busy Book

I started this project many moons ago, inspired by a MS Baby (see, told you it was a long time ago) busy book for babies. Now that my last baby is 20 months old, I figured I should finish this thing already before it really was interesting to only me. So, without further ado, Jack's busy baby book of seasons. It still needs some kind of cover art work, but he really doesn't seem to mind.

I think the winter page is my favorite, though "fall" is probably the most fun.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Becoming A Bread Head

Yes, I'm becoming a bread head. Not the best, because a bread butt soon follows. However, I'm hooked, which, to extend the metaphor, means I'm sunk.

Yesterday's experiment: Hungarian cinnamon swirl bread. I must admit, mine looked a little funky. It didn't really rise very much.

After some reading, I think either the ingredients were too cold (flour came straight from the freezer), I didn't let it rise long enough, or the yeast touched the other liquids too soon. Oh, really I have no idea. Anyway, we had sort of mutant loaves. They actually tasted pretty delicious toasted (according to my official tasters, and I must concur). I am tempted to try the cinnamon spread from king arthur flour co, but it does have some dried shortening. It makes me think a bit too much of the hydrogenated fats in breads that I'm trying to avoid. Am I wrong about this? I am also intrigued by their Vietnamese cinnamon, that supposed to be more cinnamon-y than the usual stuff. Hmm.. I'm such a sucker for that kind of thing.

Also, check out this great blog post (from 2006!) from Smittenkitchen about some tips she learned in a bread baking class and some great sounding recipes. Chocolate orange bread anyone? Two of my favorite flavors, and colors for that matter.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

In a word

Well, no one tagged me, because very few people even know that I'm here (hello, Molly!).  However, I'm going to play along with Posie Gets Cosy's one word meme.

Where is your cell phone? Purse
Where is your significant other? Loft
Your hair color? butter
Your mother? Impulsive
Your father?  Missed
Your favorite thing?  family
Your dream last night? driving
Your dream goal? serenity
The room you're in? open
Your hobby? making
Your fear?frailty
where do you want to be in six years? Centered
Where were you last night? Dancing
What you're not? Thin
One of your wish-list items? slippers
Where you grew up? Sheltered
The last thing you did? Ate
What are you wearing? Boots
Your TV? Eh.
Your pets? Imaginary
Your computer? Lifeline
Your mood? Motivated
Missing someone? Dad
Your car? Minivan
Something you're not wearing? Hat
Favorite shop? Anthropologie
Your summer? Loose
Love someone? Madly
Your favorite color? Fuschia
Last time you laughed? Saturday
Last time you cried?  yesterday

I made the bird from a cute hand-sewn pattern bought at wee wonderfuls.
Her name is Doris.  She has lost her hat some time ago. Perhaps I'll knit her a tiny new one.
Owl hat jumped into my hands at Anthropologie and I just couldn't put it back.  They won't wear silly hats for very long.  Even though I knit and hate to buy hats, this one's was too delicious.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

One Good Loaf Deserves Another

Uh-oh.  I'm afraid I've fallen for bread making. Last time I went through a bread-machine phase, I think my husband and I gained ten pounds. I was making loaves every other day, tossing in all kinds of extra ingredients (dried apricots & nuts; chunks of sharp provolone; chocolate chips -- I think I even threw in some ham).  I think I burnt out the motor with my whole wheat breads.  Anyway, breadmaker gone, bake to buying bread.

Then Molly started a movement.  I looked at the flickr group she set up.  I read her delicious entries.  I found a lecture on line of the problems with factory made bread.  Yeah, I'm in.

Presenting, the first loaf.  Recipe:  Fast White Bread from the Joy of Cooking. Kind of ironic, because I really only buy whole wheat or artisan white bread.  But anyway, the kids loved it, and I must admit, it was good.  Started it at breakfast and had a turkey sandwich for lunch.  I really would like to progress to some artisan breads, but hey, baby steps.  I'll enjoy the process.

Making More of the Holidays by Making Less of Them

I like to think I'm getting a bit better about finding the balance in celebrating the holidays and overwhelming myself with plans to create "perfect" holidays, that everyone will forever remember fondly and appreciate long into their adulthoods.  I've learned it's easiest to decorate with natural things like pumpkins and leaves and acorns and supplement those with a few easy projects the kids make.  This year, we made some ghosts from muslin, white cotton, tulle, stuffing and acrylic paints.  Easy to put up, and easy to store. 

You can see a little painted pumpkin in the window. That was a pre-school painting of Max's that I laminated years ago.  You could go crazy with all the scary stuff at Party City (some of which is really disturbing) and my older boys would love it.  But, it's so much waste, and plastic and things to store.  I just have a hard time getting psyched about it. It's a balance between finding fun stuff the kids like and finding decor I can live with (and put-up, take-down and store in a reasonable time).  I also like things that live until Thanksgiving.  Like our leaf-wreath with a crow on it.  I just take down the crow after Halloween.

Poor Max was sick on Halloween.  I brought him to school for his party and then he was back home on the couch to nap again before trick-or-treating.  Here's the children's book:  The True Story of the Ghoul Who Missed Halloween.  He actually didn't miss it, but he certainly limped through.

Now on to Thanksgiving.  I'm hosting this year.  So much for balance.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Turning a Sweater into a Shrug

It feels like shrug weather. Not yet cool enough for a sweater, but just cool enough for something extra on your arms. While tossing my 19-month-old son around in his music class at the Y, I noticed that my beloved, but admittedly bedraggled, shrug from Anthropologie (home of all things shrug), had an armpit hole. Not the most attractive feature in a shrug. I have knit shrugs before, but they take much longer than a nap time to complete and they seem to grow as you wear them. I'll post a picture of my knitted shrug soon. But, here's how I made an upcycled shrug during Jack's nap. (OK, the order of the photos is completely wrong.  But somehow, I cannot figure out how to move them around.  I'm starting to loathe blogger).

Step 1: Dig out a sweater from those I've collected from thrifting with an eye to turn them into something else.

I have actually washed and dried this one because it is 100% cashmere and you can do that. 

Then, I cut it up the center.

Next, I laid my old shrug on top, as a rough pattern, and cut across the bottom and roughly followed the "ties" on the old shrug.

That's it.  Voila!  Shrug-mania.

Now, full disclosure, I made another one first, a former thin cashmere turtleneck which I think turned out better.  The open turtleneck made sort of a sailor collar and the thinner weight looks nice, however, it has three moth holes which are still quite visible (of course), so it may need some embroidery or be turned into a stuffie.

Also, I don't love this new blue shrug, so I'm thinking that I might cut up another sweater and stitch on a bottom.  Then, I might add a fat snap and cover the placket with some ribbon to make kind of a reconstructed thing.  It could all turn out to be very homemade, but I will 

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I'm not a very accomplished jewelry maker or beader, to say the least.  But I'm a bit like a mockingbird -- ooh pretty, shiny, shiny.  I love bead stores and all of the little compartments filled with sparkling, funky, unusual and lovely beads.  I stumbled upon a new jewelry-making book, filled with fabulous layouts and beautiful projects.  I've been inspired again.  Here's what I've been up to the last few days.