Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Out Of Commission

There were no immediate confessions, but our digital camera is experiencing fatal technical difficulties.

Here was the last self-portrait taken:


Before the dastardly deed, the culprit did manage to document our living room pretty well (kid-perspective pictures are SO funny):

Mom and Dad:

A picture of a picture:

The floor:

The ceiling (almost as exciting as the floor!):

Chickens !

Yes, momma did turn the fabric upside down when she made that curtain panel:

So, while we eagerly await the replacement, we'll be enjoying some of our other favorite blogs and knitting some new material. "See" you soon!

Monday, January 22, 2007

All Squared Up

Finally - a knitting success around here!

I finished Larissa's pattern for a pretty little square for her squarealong/testalong.

The square was knit from the center out, and consisted of alternating knit rows and increase rows. It was fun to knit because the increases happened between the #1 dpns, looking like the straight side of the square, but when I was casting off, they magically formed the corners. Here's a picture of what I am having a hard time describing (pardon the light bulb-at-night lighting):

Before binding off, the intersection of the dpns are the corners:

But after CO, they are the center of the long flat side of the square and the increases form the corners:

Anyway - here it is, all blocked (7"x7") and pretty (and showing its true colors):

And yes - that's an icy plant it is resting on - we has real-live winter weather yesterday! A tiny bit of snow and lots of ice. The kids and I enjoyed walking around looking at what got coated and busting up icicles.

We were careful around the budded plants (LOTS of those due to recent warm weather) like this one:

Something about that tender green shot completely encased in smooth, clear ice just summed up our recent weather.

My son took this picture to submit to
Kiddley's kids' photo flickr site. This week's Photo Theme Friday's theme is Weather Where We Are.

For more walking in the ice storm's aftermath, check out his blog.

For now, I am savoring the square success and watching the icicles trickle.

Friday, January 19, 2007


My head is full of bobbles and the Bobble Snuggle I've been attempting. I am pleased to report that I finished the entire piece - bobble cast-offs and all. Why no victory celebration? It doesn't fit! Even yanked all the way down on my shoulders, it still is too short. The lower bobbled edge is dangerously close to getting me into trouble. Even my husband thinks it looks quite odd. I didn't think to try on the Snuggle before confidently bobbling while eyeing the dwindling yarn. I was so happy to have just enough yarn to finish, glad that I figured out a new technique, pleased that I reknit it once without loosing confidence. And now - nothing to show for it! I think that I need to head to Holly Spring Homespun to get a professional opinion on what is ailing my Snuggle. Dark clouds: non-fitting Snuggle, a tree that still needs to get into the attic, and a pile of to-dos on the dresser. Silver lining: road trip!

Another silver lining: I've been consoling my knitting self with Laurissa's Testalong square. So far, things look good. I even had some extra sock yarn in the right color ways (I think).

Love the little red circle center. I just can't wait to block this sucker and make it square - not so pyramid-like. Keep your fingers crossed, I need a winner.

Kids' Game Night

My son wanted to have his friends over for a game night. All games, all night (afternoon!).

We sorted through a ton of board games and came up with a short list. Half of those were best for 2-3 players and went into the before-dinner pile. After dinner, we planned to play the "big" games involving more players.
My daughter schooling the "big" boys on how to play
Rush Hour:


We had kids in every corner of our little house, all having a ball.

After Operation, War, Pick Up Sticks, and Battleship, we were ready for dinner. And what do real gamers eat for dinner: pizza, of course!

The gentlemen let the ladies eat on the floor. All's fair in battle!

After dinner, the kids were ready to play the most requested game:

TWISTER! If you haven't played this since you were the age of the kids in this picture, you need to give it a try. It is SO funny, but boy, is it a workout. You heard it here first: Twister is the new yoga.

If you have a game night of your own, here are a few ideas that worked for us:
  • Narrow your games down to a chosen few. It keeps the kids focused on playing games instead of rummaging through your closets. Less games also means less clean-up!
  • Change the pace from smaller to bigger-number-of-player games. It helps keep the kids interested in what's coming up next.
  • Feed your gamers. Who doesn't like a yummy treat during a fun night out?
  • Start early and end early. Allow enough time for playing the games, but don't start late also. Our kids and their friends were all played out with plenty of time left to get home and into their jammies for their regular bedtimes.
  • Have a grand finale. Twister worked well for us.
  • Rotate the fun. The parents of our little friends were so happy to have a night out, they decided to rotate houses each month and have the kids get together so the other parents could go out.
Have fun time hosting your own kids' game night!

Valentine Day's Houses

I really like Valentine's Day. No big obligations, but lots of room to do something fun. And after all, it's a candy holiday!

And speaking of candy: while looking at the jars of bright, leftover Christmas candy, I was reminded of an article I read where people bought Christmas candy on clearance and separated it into green for Saint Patrick's Day and red for Valentine's Day. That idea and the fun we had making gingerbread houses at Christmas suddenly combined with an idea: Valentine houses. We invited a couple of little neighbor friends this afternoon and had at it.

The house glue was royal icing (a little on the runny side) in an icing bag. It's always nice to use a twist tie on the end if little people are using the "squirter" and a cup for it to rest in between uses.

We added some conversation hearts and valentine m&ms to the red/white kisses, cinnamon dots, and candy coated kisses. The candy canes were there to make hearts (put two together), but they turned out a little too big for our houses. Because I thought that the contrast with all the red and white candies would be fun, we used chocolate graham crackers for the walls and roof.

The kids came up with some fun creations. Here are the bushes my son created outside his house. I thought they looked a little like aliens. But it was OK, because they got morphed into a tree soon after this picture.

This little house is sporting a cute walkway:

And here's the whole Valentine village:

How nice, indeed!

Bag O' Fun

I had such fun shopping yesterday. Here's what I brought home:

Not so exciting, is it? But look inside:

patches! Here are the patches that my Daisy troop will be earning this year:

They are optional, but the girls get them for participating in troop activities and then wear them on the backs of their smocks. It is a very visual way to see what they girls have done at the end of the year and to see what their sister scouts have been up to. Kind of like what buttons are to bloggers.

All the bright colors, all the fun pictures. These really are FUN patches!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I'm a lucky mama because my kids really love it when I sew something for them (really!).

Here is my little girl sporting her new nightgown:

"Look, mom, I'm an angel!" (really)

This is Simplicity 3938 made of girly girl pink heart flannel with heart lace trim. I made a size 5 body with a size 6 length, and am happy with the fit (except the armholes).

I also made some sleep pants for my son out of fun fabric he helped pick out. Flames, camo, and cars fabrics made the "cut" with this fun license plate fabric using Simplicity 4336. I try stacking, cutting, and sewing 2-4 fabrics using the same pattern per sewing session once I like the fit of a pattern. The only modification I made to these pants was to add about a inch to the side seams for roominess and decreasing the seat seam allowance to make a little more seat room. Very comfy fit - perfect for sleeping.

Finished sewing projects celebration!

Armhole Remedy

One of my goals for 2007 is to spend more time sewing. Especially for the little ones in the house. At ages 8 and almost 6, I don't know how long I'll have before they don't think my sewing is so cool. Also, at size 6/7, my daughter is leaving the safe venue of little girls' clothing and entering hoochie mama central. Why do clothing manufacturers think that I want to buy clothes for my 6 year old that I wouldn't let my sixteen year old wear?

OK - enough of the soapbox - and back to the sewing room. I finished a nightgown for my daughter yesterday and when she tried it on, we agreed that the arm holes were tight. It is gathered around the neck, so there are no sleeve caps to worry with, so my solution was so cut the armholes deeper. But how to make them the same on both sides?

Here is the second armhole before the remedy:

I sewed and cut one side, trying hard to keep the armhole shape the same, just making it deeper. When I cut out the excess I noticed that it would make a perfect template for the second side. Here is the second armhole with the first armhole's excess laid on top:

I marked the cutting line with a blue disappearing marker:

And then sewed the new stitching line underneath it (almost got that backward!):

Added a second line of stitching for strength:

And cut the excess:

Two armholes, same remedy - and it FITS!

Tomorrow: garment completion celebration!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Manly Knitting

If cold hands indicate a warm heart, my husband is a really, really nice guy. Because he is so cold-natured, he wanted a pair of fingerless gloves to wear in the house when he was working at his desk. After promising him a pair, picking out a pattern and color, I promptly forgot all about them (can you tell that my hands are always warm!). Luckily, Amy was ordering from KnitPicks, so I hopped on her order and procured some Andean Silk and the pattern for "Men's Hand Warmers" from Last-Minute Knitted gifts.

Throw in some #4 dpns and here they are, 24 hours after yarn delivery and 2 months later (!!):

With these and the 70 degree weather fore casted for Monday, he should be good to go.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Teeny Tiny Swap #2

I just signed up for the Teeny Tiny Swap #2 over at Zhinka dinka doo. What a fun idea! Can you join us? Just send 10 locally significant postcards all around the globe and hopefully get ten back. Easy peesy. And the homeschool mom in me is thinking "Geography: DONE!".

I really hope the results are better than the magic yarn ball swap where I never received anything. It was really fun putting together my ball to send, but I felt little like the last kid picked for a kickball team when nothing ever came for me in the mail. Because of that experience and the sheer financial commitment in most swaps, I've held back from getting involved in much swapping. But it looks like fun. Have you done any swaps? Which were your favorites?

And one last question - how do you post a button to your site?!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Winter Comfort Food

I really like this recipe for baked French toast. It's not all eggy or soggy or tasteless as many I have made over the years tend to be. As always, the better the bread, the better the dish (love it with crusty and/or sourdough bread). I also recently tried it with
Lyle's Golden Syrup (available in the U.S. at World Market or Trader Joe's) instead of the maple syrup and it tasted even better.

Baked French Toast:
Serves 6-8 hungry people

Butter a 9x13 inch pan and throw in:

1 (1 pound) loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

Beat together:

6 eggs
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 ½ cups half-and-half cream (fat-free 1/2 and 1/2 works great)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

and pour over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a small saucepan, combine:

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup maple syrup

and heat until bubbling. Pour over bread and egg mixture. Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

The original recipe calls for making the syrup with ¾ cup butter, 1 1/3 cups brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons light maple syrup, but I like less butter and more syrup.

The smell wafting through your house will make you feel like Ms. Cleaver and everyone will awaken in shiny, happy moods, just like the Beaver.


Thursday, January 04, 2007


How happy I was! The bobble and I were friends.

A whole row of big, beautiful bobbles.

But, wait. Doesn't that Bobble Snuggle seem a little wide, and what's that? The directions say about 25 rows OR 6 1/2 inches. Oops. And look, I'm running low on yarn. Ack! The Snuggle is too big!!

And so it goes back to visit our new friend, the yarn winder.

There are few sights scarier than live knitting hooked up to the winder. Ominous indeed. (You may need to avert your eyes)

Here's to the next attempt being MUCH closer to the mark.

Let It Snow

We're all waiting for our first snow in Virginia. But with a predicted high temperature of 67 degrees today, it may be a l-o-n-g wait.

The kids and I took matters into our own hands and created our own blizzard:

Fun, aren't they?

My daughter is keeping watch over the storm front.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Monday, January 01, 2007

All-Powerful Reeling Machine

I'm starting the knitting new year out with a bang!

First a finished object (many moons have passed since the last one!):

These are the
Rib-And-Cable Mitts fingerless gloves from Interweave Knits Spring 2006. I used #3 dpns and Knit Pick's Elegance in two colors to make a planned mismatched pair. I modified the pattern slightly by adding a rib to the top around the fingers so the fit would be a little tighter than the knit roll top originally called for. They feel really good on and if it would get cool, I might even get to wear them.

Santa (actually it was Mrs. Claus) slipped a few fun items under my tree: a ball winder and swift. I thought it would be fun to break them in on New Year's Day.

I knew that I selected an auspicious day when I opened the directions to see this:

Feel the power? I sure did! Here's the before and after of the yummy Scarlet Fleece Impressions from Holly Spring Homespun.

After winding a few balls, I "wound" up with a snowman:

Happy New Year everyone (and keep your fingers crossed for some snow!).