Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Hooking

This have been busy around here lately. A birthday, a craft fair, the usual life stuff. But I have managed to find a bit of time to do some of the Crochet School lessons...I'm woefully behind the class, but I can actually crochet things! Like that happy green pear for Ben's new play kitchen. It took less than a day to make, even with my newbie skills. I want to crochet a whole cornucopia for him to play with now.
Find the pattern for the pear and other fruits and veggies here. This guy has some holes in him where you can see the stuffing, but I imagine that's from needing to use a smaller hook. I used some random worsted weight cotton for both the body and the stem (which is navy blue, but oh well!) I apologize for the less than gorgeous photo, but well, it's cold today, I'm tired, and I can't be bothered to find my camera right now.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Awesome Books - First Art

I discovered this book browsing on Amazon...I can't remember what, exactly, I was shopping for that it came up in my recommendations, but I'm happy that I clicked the link and even happier to borrow it from the library.

This book is chock-full of great ideas. All of the suggestions are given a messiness rating and almost everything can be done with items you probably already have. There are recipes for multiple kinds of play clay, paint, and other entertaining and creative goops. There are so many ideas in here for process-oriented art making that we could get to kindergarten. The author helpfully explains what the child will learn from the activity, ways to adapt it to the children at hand, and keeps the supplies largely limited to things that are easy to find and non-toxic.

The first thing we tried was water painting. It seemed too easy. A bucket 1/4 full of water and a paint brush. Really? Really. Entertained him for a looong time. For days, he demanded to play the "new game". And since it was so hot when we did this, the water evaporated quickly. Clean slate every few minutes!

Of course, the inevitable happened:

But so what? It was just a little water and he and I had fun making wet footprints from the puddle. I think even the most mess-phobic mamas can enjoy this one.

We also tired an aluminum foil activity that was a fail. I was to inspired to buy him an enormous newsprint pad with my Michael's coupon and that has also been a huge hit. That's the other great thing about these projects. Because they are about the process and not the product, the activities can be done for extended periods of time or repeated day after day.

If parents could give parent gifts rather than Melissa and Doug puzzles at birthday parties, I would be giving this book to anyone with a toddler. This book, and a bottle of wine. : )

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Best Little Yarn Crawl in Texas 2011

This was my first year participating in The Best Little Yarn Crawl in Texas. I only made it to 4 of the 9 stops, but it was so much fun! I came home with a head full of project ideas and all kinds of knitting goodies.

I beefed up my stash with some sparkly sock yarn, beautifully heathered alpaca lace weight, and malabrigo lace weight in the best dark green color. Yarn with a bit of glitter in it seems to be the trend this fall, a trend that I was happy to indulge in!

We visited all the shops in the Austin area: The Knitting Nest, Hill Country Weavers, and Gauge. Then, my yarn crawl buddy and I got adventurous and took our toddlers out to Old Oaks Ranch Monday morning. Oh man, do I love me some alpacas! I have to say, as much fun as we had at the ranch, I was disappointed that I didn't get to touch an alpaca even though their ad in the passport says "Come touch an alpaca!". We also didn't get a free gift there, but taking pictures of the kiddos running around the sculpture garden was a great souvenir.

Everyone we encountered along the crawl was super friendly and helpful. I think it's great that they changed things up a bit this year so there's a giveaway that you can enter for each store.
Hopefully next year I can make it to all the stores so I can be eligible for the grand prize! Now if you'll excuse me, I have some serious knitting to attend to. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It Takes a Village Baby Blanket

A member of Knitters Anonymous, the awesome knittin' and drinkin' group I'm in, recently had a little boy. While she was busy growing a human life, the rest of us made her this blanket.
We used two colors of Naturally Caron Spa and each member contributed a panel.
The only instructions given were to CO 36 stitches and knit in your chosen stitch pattern until your piece measured 32". I gathered up all the panels, stitched them together, and did a single crochet border around the edge to tie it all together. I think it looks very sweet and it is silky soft, perfect for delicate baby skin. Sorry for the blurry, picture, it's the only one I have. I think my camera is starting to lose it. : /
Anyway, I think this is a great project for a gift from a knitting group, but were I ever to do it again I would go with a cotton yarn.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Crochet School? Awesome!

*Thanks, I think I will.*

I am totally signing up for this. I know how to do a couple of things, like chain and double crochet, but I can't read a pattern well and I am light years away from re-creating any of the awesome crocheted goodness on my pin board. Holy smokes, am I ever addicted to Pinterest right now. So many great ideas on there! Like Crochet School! It starts October 1st.

I do not need another hobby. But another SKILL, well, that's a different story.... right?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We Are Safe

After a scary afternoon with no power and a fire burning way too close to my husband's office and 3(!) of my friend's homes, things seem to be under control again. That particular fire was started by some IDIOT throwing matches into a dry creek bed. As if mother nature wasn't enough. Anyway, as you can see from the video above, these fires are not to be trifled with. And not to be gross and political, we have Rick Perry to thank for making it so incredibly difficult to get the resources in place to fight these fires. Texas Cut Fire Department Funding by 75% This Year
For those of you not living in the state and find him an ideal candidate, please dig a little deeper and see how he has taken our schools from bad to abysmal and slashed public services. His own family doesn't even like his politics.

Spoke Too Soon

As I made my last post, a fire started very close to us. I can hear sirens. It's closer to my friend's house than mine, and she is without power.
I found out on Twitter, and I'm following the developments here
We are ready to go, if need be.

Texas is on Fire

 As you may have heard, we are experiencing some serious wildfires here. The map above shows the situation as it was when I woke up at 7 this morning. (Real time fire map here) The fire in Bastrop County is 16 miles long and as wide as 6 miles in some places. If you are not familiar with Texas geography, East Texas is a pine forest. A huge, very dry, pine forest. It's a perfectly terrible situation for fire. There is no rain forecasted for the next ten days.
My husband and I figured out an evacuation meeting point, and a backup meeting point in case the first place we picked had to be evacuated as well. I packed a "go bag" and gathered all of our important documents so I could grab them in a hurry if need be. We're nervous. It's surreal to look out your window and everything appears fine but know that less than an hour's drive in any direction, there's fire.

Now, as I write this around one pm (the above map shows the current situation), things are feeling slightly less scary. The fires that were within 10 miles of our house are under control or out. The winds have died down. I've heard FEMA is supposed to be here today. 
But our resources are maxed out. All reports are that fire-fighting capabilities have been stretched to the breaking point. There is no guarantee that some idiot won't toss a lit cigarette, light a BBQ or drive a hot car over dead grass and start another massive fire. We are just trying to be safe and ready to go if need be, and to help out our Central Texas neighbors anyway we can.

You can help too, by making a donation to the American Red Cross of Central Texas . The last report I heard said 475 homes in the area have been completely destroyed and many more damaged. Every little bit helps these people in their time of need.

Meanwhile, I finished a quilt top this weekend. Crafting is always soothing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Record Breaker

Today we tie 1925 as having the most 100+ degree days in a calendar year. We are poised to blow that record out of the water.
The sky most days is a relentless, empty, terrifying shade of blue. What animals that have survived the drought thus far act strangely. Squirrels drape themselves along tree branches like miniature fur rugs, too beaten down by the heat to run from our barking terrier. Huge wolf spiders show up in our kitchen, at our entry way, in broad daylight, given up on their own safety and smacked to the hereafter with my shoe.

I hear there is in rain in heaven.

The tomato plants quit early this year. The temperatures stopped dropping down enough at night for them to continue to produce.

This drought and unyielding heat bring to the forefront of my mind how we are just animals too. Fortunate animals that have figured out air conditioning and water treatment facilities and indoor playgrounds, but tied to the rhythms and whims of nature nonetheless. I find myself thinking that everything would be ok, all of my problems would be solved if it would just rain.

The memory of water stains the dehydrated gutters as the heat, once an abstraction but now a living thing, shimmers off the pavement. I feel a little desperate in the afternoons. You can burn yourself getting into your car. Many people have died from heat exposure. Things are so much worse in Africa. I think about those people a lot these days.

I feel a little desperate when I see the weather forecast on the news at night. I keep thinking, "Surely, next week will bring relief." But it never does. How long can this go on?

There is an event tonight at the ballpark to have the largest rain dance in Guiness book history. I sense God laughing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I was hold Ben and reading my blog roll the other day when we came across this tutorial on how to make a little stuffed owl. He shouted "Owl! Owl! Hoo hoo!". (Thank you Mr. Brown Can Moo) I thought, "awesome, something I can make for him he will actually like.
Then I got really ambitious. He's too young to sew or anything, but he loves stickers. So I used some felt and made him a mini felt board owl activity thing.
As you can see, Ben is an abstract expressionist. He also actually pronounces owl "owl-le", like it has a little Spanish flair to it. I was hoping this was another Super Mom moment, but his interest in the owl-le stickers was not nearly long enough for me to sew an owl. This cartoon sums up all of my attempts at toddler art in a hilarious nutshell.

My own owl-le came out over-exposed and lumpy, which is what happens when you try to sew or photograph while entertaining a toddler. One day I will day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Crunchy Play Clay

Between a bout of stomach bug and extreme temperatures, we've been imprisoned in the house for what feels like years. I've been trying to fight the cabin fever with some creative play activities. The biggest success by far was an afternoon spent with homemade play dough and all the fixin's. It was inspired by this post over over at An Amazing Child.

*blurry with excitement*

The only modification I made to the dough recipe was to add about 20 drops of yellow food coloring at B's request. The color is not awesome, but he didn't seem to care.
We made the dough together, me scooping the ingredients and him dumping them in and stirring the dry mixture. The downside is that it needs some time on the stove and is too hot to play with for a while. That's the tough part, managing an excited toddler and hot goop. But the entertainment-to-hassle ratio was high on the entertainment side for both of us.
This is a great multi-sensory, open-ended play activity that he was very happy to explore independently.
Best of all, it granted me 20 minutes to clean the kitchen unmolested by tiny hands trying to help. And that, dear friends, made me feel like I earned a badge for my SuperMom cape.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Wedding Season pt. 2

 My friend asked me to make her a set of keep and toss garters for her wedding this fall. I was a bit nervous making them, but after a little trial and error, I think they turned out nicely.

The ribbon is the same as on the ring bearer pillow and matches the bride's maids color scheme. The center bling-y bits are actually buttons.

I googled "wedding garter tutorial" and found lots of tutorials. I had already bought the materials, so I didn't follow any one specific guide but it was handy to get some ideas about techniques and measurements. I heat sealed the edges of the ribbons so they wouldn't fray.

And, of course, a little tiny something blue! Making these turned out to be a lot of fun! I originally was going to make my own garter for my wedding, but then we decided not to include a garter toss. I still have a tiny skein of white silk in my stash...not really enough to make one anyway, but I was a newbie knitter with big dreams. :)
Have a great weekend and stay cool out there!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


The boot fairy has heard my cries and bestowed upon me a fabulous pair of Frye Harness boots. It's amazing what happens when you whine incessantly for months ask nicely. The boot-to-lanesplitter shirt ratio is a bit off, so I think I'm going to hem it up to show more of my leg than just my old man knees. The boots make me bold. (which is also why I clearly couldn't be bothered to get my husband's sandals out of the shot) I wish I could get paid in boots.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Pattern: Lanesplitter
Yarn: Noro Taiyo color 6 (discontinued)
Needles: size 9

I have to say, I had my doubts about this project. I tried to knit a skirt in the past and was met with FTCO syndrome (Failure To Cast On) so now I have lots and lots or brown yarn to contend with. I digress. This pattern was simple to make and the results are striking. That's my favorite kind of pattern to make!
I was worried that the seam would be unsightly, but I think the colors lined up reasonably well. Instead of picking up and knitting the waistband, I used the lining instructions from So Knit Picky and it made the project go even faster. The skirt is extremely comfortable...I can't wait for cooler weather so I can wear it. Perhaps with these Frye Boots? Dear boot fairy, I am a size 9.

Also, I do plan on fixing my blog header relatively soon. The empty wagon is not some sort of existential statement. Something is wrong with my eyes and staring intently at a screen only makes things worse. I am getting myself to a doctor soon though, so no worries.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pickles Two Ways

Happy first official day of summer! I find this day rather hilarious because we have already broken several triple digit records and it feels more like late August than mid-June. But what better way to beat the heat than to make some cold, crunchy pickles? You barely even have to turn on your oven for these babies and they're ready in a couple of hours.

Adapted from Alton Brown

Regular Not Too Sweet Bread n' Butter Pickles

You will need:

2 medium cucumbers
1/2 an onion
1 cup of water
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups of sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon of celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon of pickling spice

Thinly slice the cucumbers and onions. Stuff them into a glass jar with a tightly closing lid. In a saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer 4-5 minutes. Pour the pickling juice into the jar full of cucumbers and onions. After a couple of minutes, top of the jar with the remaining juice in your pan. Let it sit out on the counter until it reaches room temperature. (Thankfully, it's boiling hot here, so it came off the stove at "room temperature") Seal the jar and stick it in the fridge until cold. Volia!

Sweet n' Spicy Pickled Goodies
Follow the directions as above, but use 1 cucumber, a little less onion, 4 banana peppers, two jalapenos and a couple of dashes of red pepper in the jar. (slice the banana peppers and jalapenos). Make the pickling juice as above. The spiciness level is easy to adjust. Also, it's easy to make a spicy and non-spicy version at the same time, just double the amount of pickling juice, stick whatever combination of cucumbers and peppers in your jars and go to town! I kind of want to pickle everything now. :)

If your kids are old enough, they can get involved filling the jars with their own vegetables and helping to measure the spices. It's good to make a few jars at once...they are highly addicting!

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

All-Natural Robot

From a 6"x3"brick of natural latex foam and wool batting to a cuddly, squishy robot!

WHY did I have a 6"x3" block of natural latex foam to make said robot? Well, we were in the market for a new mattress and being the super shopper that I am, I started researching mattresses. Healthy sleep makes happy people, right?
Our old bed was well, old. And really lumpy. Anyway, it doesn't take much research to come across what I felt were valid concerns about the safety of the chemicals used in making mattresses flame retardant. If you want to freak yourself out, just Google "flame retardant chemicals in mattresses". (Don't do it if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you don't need the stress)
My basic "good quality, affordable price" research turned into a full-blown hunt to find a natural but competitively priced option. During said hunt, I came across The Natural Bed Store. They generously offer a sample of their mattress making materials.

In the end, we went with a Natura Green Spring and are very pleased. But I couldn't let such nice materials go to waste! Ben loves his little "woe-wot" and I loved exercising my creative muscles. I used all of the sample...the ribbon tied around it turned into the robot's face and arms. His body is black corduroy for the seemingly endless supply in my fabric stash, and the star is from an old moth-ruined cashmere sweater. I'm proud of myself for making something using only what I have. I need to make an effort to do that more often!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Belinda's Dream Rose

For Mother's Day, I got a rose bush from the Antique Rose Emporium. I've been wanting an antique rose bush since we got a yard. Today, I got my first rose! The name of this shrub is Belinda's Dream. Lovely, no?

Sadly, we are in a serious drought and temperatures are more like late July than early June.
See those scattered thunderstorms? The weatherman keeps teasing us about water falling from the sky, but it's been a long time since that's happened in my yard. I'm working hard to keep all the plants we put in this spring alive.

My Coral Drifter has a little bloom explosion going on right now. One of the benefits of Knockout and Antique rose varieties is their hardiness. Their dainty good looks are just a ruse.

My container cherry tomato plants have some fruit now, this one plucked too soon by an over-eager toddler. Too bad it isn't big enough to fry!

All this "look at my inspiration board" and "look at my garden" may lead one to believe that there has been no knitting, crafting, or doll making of any kind...but there has! I just haven't gotten decent photos of anything. Soon, my friends, soon.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Quilt Inspirations

1. Yellow Brick Road Back, 2. Yellow Cross Quilt, 3. red and yellow stripes, 4. Cross quilt, 5. deutsche quilt finished - front, 6. bubbs quilt top, 7. Orange and Yellow Zig Zag Quilt back, 8. Yellow Blanket Throw Roses, 9. Orange and Yellow Zig Zag Quilt

You know it's summer when you start thinking about...quilts. Ok, maybe that's just me. But lately I've been thinking a lot about making my son a quilt. Yellow is his favorite color, I've been wanting to try to make a zig-zag quilt, bam! I should do it.

But yellow is probably my least favorite color ever. Orange might be worse, depending on the shade. Warm colors are just not my thing. This is not for me though...but I also have to look at it.

What to do? Anyone have any favorite yellow fabrics out there?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Circle Socks

 Pattern: Circle Socks by Ann Campbell (it's free!)
Yarn: Paton's  Kroy Sock FX in Cameo Colors
Needle: size 2 DPNs

 Modifications: I worked these toe-up over 56 stitches, with the stitch pattern over the instep. I would not have added the pattern to the instep if I was planning on wearing these with shoes. Also, I only worked 2 rounds of purl stitch instead of 3 because I hate purling in the round.
Verdict: I love these socks! They fit well and will be cozy to have around when the weather cools off again. The stitch pattern is simple and easy to memorize, but it gives dramatic results. The only thing I'm bummed about is that even though I bought yarn from the same colorway and dye lot, the colors don't match as closely as I would like.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Box Bag Bonanza!

Remember when cute little box bags were all the rage on the crafting blogs a few years ago? Well, I never forgot and I have spent the past month or so making some. Shows you where I am on my crafting to-do list!

Anyway, these are fun and quick little projects that make nice gifts (unless, of course, all of my friends with Spring birthdays are lying to me to spare my feelings). I used this tutorial as a starting point for mine, and adjusted the dimensions as necessary. Also, I zigzagged the edges between steps 6 and 7 so the edges wouldn't fray inside and get all over your stuff.

The first one I made was for my good friend, crafty partner in crime, and birthday buddy Tiffany. She is a voracious knitter so this one was made with a 12" zipper and 16" of length to make it a good size to hold all of her sock projects.

She's set a goal to knit a pair of socks a month in 2011. Holeee crap. You can see her first three pairs here.

Open it up and it's always spring inside!
The next one is for my friend Jenn, who dosen't knit, but loves pedicures and is an amazing photographer. I made hers a bit smaller - a 9" zipper and 13" in length. A good size for nail polish, make up, or any other odd and ends you might want to keep together.
I added some complementary bias tape to the handle this time. I love bias tape.

The lining of this one is the same fabric, just with a pink background.
Finally, I had to make one for myself. It didn't quite turn out as planned. I kept running into issues with tread tension or interfacing (the extra thick kind did NOT want to play nice) so I had to keep cutting it down. I don't know what the dimensions are at this point, just that it's to small to be a knitting project bag but too big to something else.

Then, in my frustration and my craze to just. get. it. done. I forgot to add the handle. Blargh. Is anyone else cursed this way, or am I the only one that can't seem to make anything nice for myself?

On a positive note, I am completely over my fear of making things with zippers now!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring at My House

I spent a happy weekend in the yard planting. It's so nice to see green again. I am slowly working towards a yard full of native day, I think it would be neat have my yard become a certified wildlife habitat. I did find a dead mouse head in the backyard, but I don't think that counts.

I spent some time Saturday at the nursery with my Grow Green Guide in hand, trying to get a good variety of plants. I came home with an Anacacho Orchid tree (center), verbena, jasmine, a beautiful Coral Drifter rose bush, lavender, and pink salvia. Most of them ended up in our front bed, heavy duty landscaping in the back will have to wait for another season. The tree and the jasmine are back there though, and I really enjoy when the wind blows the jasmine smell my way!

I'm out of the yard and back in the craft room, I'll have more to say about that later.