November 30, 2010

One Thing

Tomorrow December is here. Ack! December! If October seemed fast then November was just a blink! I love the bustle of December, the parties and activities and tree decorating (tonight!) but I'm a little intimidated this year. While my list of things to make for my little clan are finally well in hand. (not done, but almost) my list of things to make for others has grown longer and there are several that have to get finished in the next week or so in order to be mailed in time. Lots of things to sew and knit and bake over the next 25 days, something I'm so looking forward to even if it will be a squeeze to get it all done. But first, I have a coat to make. And that is my one this this week (a day late!)
Evelyn isn't a fan of "poofy" coats. I can understand that. For one thing, I didn't really like "poofy" coats either, they made me feel like that kid in A Christmas Story who couldn't put his arms down. But also, she is so bitty that she looks a little like a marshmallow with two toothpicks sticking out when she tries them on.

Up to now we've always found heavy wool coats for her and she loves them. They go right along with her love of muffs over gloves and her flower hats. This year I had a hard time finding something that was really warm enough without being "poofy" and while fitting the criteria of "pink" or at least "girly". Not a lot out there. At least not when I was looking. So I got it into my head to make her a coat. OK, I've been pondering making the kids coats for a while. Mostly because my beloved Oliver + S has this pattern which is just so darn sweet. The pattern was bought, soft gray wool and hot pink quilted lining (to go with the hot pink piping and buttons) was found and now all I have to do is make it. I've been teetering on this. On the one hand I have so many projects started or ready to start right now that need to get done, but at the same time, it's cold! My girl needs a coat! Yes, I could go buy one but where's the fun in that?

Hence my One Thing of the week. Make a coat. Or at the very least, get the pattern ironed, pinned and cut out and make a good start on the sewing so that I can finish next week.

What about you? What projects are you up to? Getting Christmas gifts started? Finished? I can't wait to see!

One Thing
A Monday (oops! It's Tuesday!) habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Tell us what you are working on in the comments and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!
So, what will you be up to this week?

November 29, 2010


Fourteen hours each way to Nana and Poppa's house. Over many rivers and through woods and fields and worth every minute of the drive.

Because Briton got a pie making lesson from the master (and made us a batch of perfect jam tarts in Poppa's cool tart pan, need to find myself one of those!)
Because introducing a group of international students to the wonders of spray whipped cream, pumpkin pie and roast turkey during my parents annual dinner is always fun.
Because Will and my Brother watched hours and hours of football together, which meant I didn't have to :) (I'm still happy the Ducks won! Go Ducks!)

Because I got to spend hours wandering with my mom through antique stores and fabric stores (found the perfect wool for Evie's coat-more about that later) and more hours in the kitchen baking with her :)
Because Evie got her first fishing rod (pink, of course) and finally got to go fishing with her brother and poppa after just watching for the past few years.

Because family is always worth it.

November 24, 2010

Have a Happy

Our fruitcakes are baked, the pies are heading into the oven momentarily and the twenty-five pound (!!) turkey is just about thawed. Tomorrow we'll have a big blow out dinner with a table full of international students, most of whom haven't yet experienced the overindulgence that is an American Thanksgiving, always an fun event. Today we have a few more things to pick up at the store, some movies to cozy up on the couch and watch and so so many things to be thankful for.

Have a wonderful, happy Thanksgiving everyone!

November 23, 2010

Knitting Along

All of my holiday knitting projects are jogging right along these days. Sure I feel like one of those little old ladies who brings her knitting every where, but it's all in the name of gift giving, so I'm ok with that. My size zero needle mitts are almost half way done after having ripped it totally out because I didn't like the faux cabling pattern. I ended up rewriting the pattern myself to shorten it, adjust for the smaller needles and add real cables. I wasn't sure how it would turn out since I'm neither an experienced knitter nor a pattern maker (other than the doll, but that was much simpler that thumb gussets and wrist increases) but so far so good. If it turns out I'll post the pattern here, just in case anyone else is crazy enough to knit with toothpick sized needles (really, they are just like toothpicks!)
The only problem I'm having is with Evie's sweater. Because I HATE the yarn. It's all my mom's fault (I love you mom!) You see, before I visited her this summer I was totally content to knit with crappy yarn. I never bought yarn from yarn stores finding it overwhelmingly expensive. The yarn I made my felted slippers with was moderately nicer but it was such a long slog I don't think I noticed. But then she gave be a huge bag of really nice yarn from a project she had started and then decided she didn't want to do. And light dawned. It is so much nicer to knit with. So much nicer. It's faster and smoother and just plain better feeling on the hands. I really think that if I'd been knitting with good yarn all along, my knitting hiatus would never have happened. I'm a yarn-a-holic now. Or at least I'm becoming one. I can, so far, go into a yarn shop and not buy yarn just because (unlike fabric, which I just buy because I might need it and then I'd never find it again so I might as well get it now) but if I want to knit something, to the yarn shop I will go.

But. Before I made this discovery I'd gotten 3/4 of this darn sweater done for Evie, too much to rip out and start again, although I'd probably have it done pretty quickly if I did, too close to just give up. Too boring of a yarn to really want to finish it. I'm dragging with it. Knitting a row here, a row there, trying my best to finish. But uggg. I'd rather be knitting with something smooth and soft and lovely. The only thing that's driving me to actually finish is the promise of starting some other new project without the icky (it's not really icky, but compared to the good stuff it is) yarn.

Now I'm excited about new yarn. Darn it. I'll never get that stupid thing done.

Have you ever had a project like that?

November 22, 2010

One Thing

Somehow the month of November has passed me by. I mean, wasn't it just Halloween? Because it feels like it was just Halloween. And now it's time to make fruitcake. Actually, it's kind of late to make fruitcake, I probably should have made them last month but I couldn't get my head around Christmas baking when there were Halloween costumes to figure out. So this is my week, which is good because it also coincides with a week at my parents. Lots of knitting, lots of cooking, lots of turkey and fruitcake baking with people who actually like fruitcake, instead of being the only fruitcake eater in the house.
I still have more work to do on my placemats, but I do have two done, so I'll count it as making progress. And since I'm not in charge of dinner and housekeeping and kid taking to school duties, I might just get them, and some of those lingering knitting for Christmas projects done. this week my One Thing is pretty easy, to make fruitcake, with my dad. Something we haven't done together in a long long time. Although we may have to go pick up some more pans, because I could only find three in my cupboards. I think the dishwasher ate them. Or maybe it was Will throwing them out in the hopes that I wouldn't be able to fill up the freezer with fruitcake this year...

What about you? Any holiday plans in the work? Giant turkey soaking in brine?

One Thing
A Monday habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Tell us what you are working on in the comments and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!
So, what will you be up to this week?

November 19, 2010

Pillowcase Twirly Skirt

This is the skirt that I'm starting my little sewing girls on. It's simple and sweet and requires no pattern. I'm all for learning how to read a pattern, but first I want them to be excited about sewing, so I thought this instant gratification skirt would be a good choice. Most of the girls were 90% finished before they left with a few needing a teeny bit more work to get to that point, but not much, so you know it's simple. In fact, this took me 12 minutes to make. Really, and that was with Evelyn floating around "helping" me. So if you can turn on your sewing machine and sew a straight(ish - I'm not picky ) line, this will be easy-peasy. Promise.
If you would like to make one of these for your little girl/tween/grownup who likes fun skirts in your life, you'll need three things.

First, a pillowcase. You know, one of the ones you have in your closet but never ever use because they don't really go with anything but you found them on sale.

1/8 yard of fun quilting cotton

1 yard of elastic

Oh, and a sewing machine. And a scrap of ribbon, but only if you want.

Now to make the skirt -
Decide how long you want the skirt. You'll be adding a 1 1/2 inch long waist band so take that into account when you decide on a your measurements. Now lay the pillow out on a flat surface and measure up from the open end of the case. Cut across so that the piece you have is about as long as you want the skirt. Set the top half aside, you don't need it now, but since it's pretty, you might use it for something else later, right? (OK, maybe you're not a craft hoarder like me, in that case, use it as a rag).

Cut a piece of light weight cotton fabric 2 inches longer than the pillowcase is around and 4 1/2 inches wide. I'll give you a little hint, if you go to the fabric store and have them cut 1/8 a yard of fabric you'll have just about the perfect piece for this, only minimal trimming needed.

Iron in the ends of that piece of fabric in about 1/2 inch each (wrong side facing up) and then fold over the edges. all the way down, also 1/2 inch. Now fold it in half and iron again. Guess what? You just made custom bias tape. I didn't tell you you'd be doing that because you might have panicked, but see, how long did that take? Two minutes? See, you're a sewing genius!
(** Edited to add, ok, not bias tape, I meant binding, but it's folded like bias tape, you know what I mean :))
Pin this bias tape around the cut edge of the pillowcase, sandwhiching the pillowcase fabric between the two layers of the bias tape. Let the ends overlap, this is where you'll slip the elastic in. You can either have this join in the front or the back or even on the side. I like the front. It makes it look like a drawstring waist.

Pop it in your sewing machine and sew 1/4 inch up from the edge of the bias tape all the way, overlapping you're stitches when you reach your starting point to lock them in. Do the same thing 1/4 inch down from the top edge.
Now, pin a safety pin onto one end of the elastic and start feeding it through that slit in the waist band. The safety pin just makes it easier. You can also use a darning needle for this. Work it through, scrunching and pulling, until you come out the other end. Now pull it tight so that it is just slightly smaller around than the waist of your skirt wearer and sew across the two layers of elastic a few times. Trim off the threads and pull out so that the elastic slips into the waist band.
Even out the elastic so that the bunching is about the same all the way around and, if you want, sew a 5 inch piece of ribbon onto the front and tie in a knot, this will make it look even more like a drawstring skirt. And you're done. No, you're done. Easy, right? I know, makes you want to raid the linen closet for more, doesn't it? Happy Sewing!

November 18, 2010

Nothing Cuter

Eight little girls, tongues sticking out of the corners of their mouths in concentration as they cut and pinned and sewed.

There are parts of teaching that I don't miss. I don't miss grading or tests or dealing with the administration. I loathed parent teacher conferences, what was there to say that hadn't been said every day at drop off and pick up and in passing in the hall and weekly newsletters and notes and ... (I know, not all school work that way, but mine did) I don't miss the meetings and the in-service trainings.

But I miss the teaching. I remember a moment during my student teaching when I was on my own with my kindergartners , the light was streaming in the windows, the tables were bursting with math counters and read aloud books and playdoh. I looked around and though, this, this is fun. This is what I love.

Which makes teaching sewing or crafts or creativy things just about perfect. All the fun stuff, no SOL testing.

Now if I could just remember not to put pins in my mouth while I'm demonstrating. Must not pass on that bad habit! Very naughty.

November 17, 2010

Molasses Cookies

Molasses cookies are a favorite in our house, probably second only to chocolate chip, although Briton would probably say it ties with snickerdoodle. But while I have a good, solid chocolate chip recipe and several yummy snickerdoodle ones, I've never found a really good recipe for molasses cookies and so I usually just end up buying them when I want one with my evening tea.
Last night I got a wild hair to make some cookies, well past cookie making time, into get everyone into bed time in fact. The jar o' chocolate chips was running a little low and I wasn't in the mood for sugar cookies or snickerdoodles so I did a what-the-heck websearch and landed on a recipe that looked promising. And boys howdy was it. Yum. I mean YUM. They came out of the oven long after the kids were asleep (that one hour wait is crucial I think, so don't skip it!) and Will had crashed our on the couch so it was just me and my knitting and my cookie with a mug of eggnog (I know, I'm early on that one but it was just sitting there staring at me at the grocery store! I couldn't help it!) At some point Will must have woken up though and helped himself because there were several missing when I got up this morning.
If you like molasses cookies, make these. Tonight. They have that perfect chewy but crunchy from the sugar coating texture. It's been very hard not to eat a few this morning. The original recipe called for margarine but I'm just a butter girl so I substituted and I can't imagine that they could have been better with the margarine, so I'm sticking with it.

Molasses Cookies
adapted from All Recipes

3/4 cup of melted butter
11/2 cup white sugar - 1/2 cup reserved
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups of all purpose flower
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Beat butter, 1 cup of sugar and the egg until smooth, add molasses until well mixed. Fold in the flour, soda, salt and spices and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 and pour the remaining 1/2 cup sugar into a bowl. Roll chilled dough into walnut sized balls and then roll in sugar. Place 2-3 inches apart on a lined cookie sheet and bake 9 minutes (you want them puffed up, starting to crack and just barely browning around the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for 15 minutes on the pan.

Makes 2 dozen

November 16, 2010

Full Circle

I've written before about how I sometimes feel I'm living my parents life again, at least the part when they were in their thirties. It's a good thing, this multi-generational de ja vu. My parents had a great time in their thirties. They still do. But I think that period, at least from the outside looking in, was probably one of the best. Like us they lived in a small town, had a child in elementary school and another in daycare/preschool. they didn't have a whole lot of money but they did have a whole lot of great friends. They were renovating a house, although their house was decked out in metallic gold wallpaper that didn't want to come down, a problem I'm really glad I don't have to deal with. And like me, my father was a writer. Except instead of writing for online blogs and magazines, he wrote for a newspaper.
I grew up in the newspaper. Literally and figuratively. Literally in that I spent a lot of time in the newspaper office, scrunched up under my dad's desk playing with line tape and those funny pencils that you sharpened by pulling a layer off of the tip, peeling the string down. I can't tell you how many of those started out new and ended up in ruins by the time I left. The dark room was magic, and a little mysterious, with it's two sided door. People would slip in, close the door and then disappear when I went to check. The cold room in the basement where they kept the heavy books full of back issues smelled faintly musty, but I loved to flip through the old volumes, seeing how the masthead and the typeface changed over time.

But also figuratively because my dad wrote a column about life, and part of that life was me. So everyone in town knew pretty much everything I did, and a lot of things I didn't know I'd done. The secretary at school would regularly find me in the halls and say "That was so cute what you did!" and I would wander off, wondering what it was my father had written about that time. Was it my horrible viola playing? My overactive imagniation? Most of my elementary school days can be tracked by reading those old columns.

In college I was a journalism major. It was what I knew and since I loved to write and didn't have anything else particular in mind, it seemed like a good choice. Plus it had no math requirement, which sealed the deal, I hated math. But I didn't want to work in newspapers. AT ALL. This was partly teenage angst and rebellion, after all, at 18 no one wants to be their parents. But it was also the fact that I knew I would never make a good reporter. I had grown up watching my dad go after stories. Hunting them down, talking to anyone and everyone and loving it. I didn't have that in me and I knew it even then. So I grumbled about how the journalism class load was print heavy. How those of us in other fields (I was in documentary film) were learning things we'd never use. NEVER. We shouldn't be forced to take classes for NEWSPAPER FOLK.

Never say never.

I called my dad last week to tell him that I've been offered a chance to write a small monthly column in our local paper. Blogging has its similarities to writing for the news for sure. And blogging the way I blog is akin with the type of column my dad wrote, but writing for the paper still has a different significance, at least for a newsbrat like me, than chattering away online (although it will still be my first love) I guess it's just in the blood. So to all my journalism professors who had to put up with my "I will never be a newspaper girl" attitude, to my father who grinned and nodded and probably knew where I was headed all along, you win. I'm a newspaper girl after all.

November 15, 2010

One Thing

This weekend we had one of those wonderful cozy weekends that I love. A spontanious supper party with friends involving a delicious sausage soup that I must get the recipe for, a roaring fire in the fireplace, lots of cuddles and naps on the couch for every member of the family, a new knitting project (using the teeniest needles I've ever seen, I'm not sure if my eyesight is good enough for this one, we shall see) some quiet sewing while kids played and daddy snoozed, a morning excursion to see Evelyn sing in her first concert. Perfect.Perfect. Perfect.
I started working on some placemats for our table during that lovely quiet sewing time. We have some, a set of the hard English variety that are very practical but not very warm and homey feeling. And ever since reading this excellent book I've been determined to make our dinners feel special more often. Our table is long and substantial and great for buffets, but it's not very cozy. I'm hoping that adding some nice fabric placemats will help in that department so that is my project for the week. Placemats. And maybe cloth napkins as well if I have time. I'd like to make a set of eight so that we have extras for guests and spilled milk incidents, but I'd be happy with just four for now.
What about you? What projects would you like to finish this week? Or even start this week? Anyone working on holiday baking yet?

One Thing
A new Monday habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Tell us what you are working on in the comments and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!
So, what will you be up to this week?

November 12, 2010

Apple Factory

On Sunday the kids and I made an impromptu visit to one of the local apple orchards. My intention was to pick a few apples. Just a few. We weren't dressed for apple picking, not shoe wise or many it's freaking cold out here wise. So just a few!
Ha! While I boosted Evie up to a branch where she could twist off a few Fuji's for her bag, Briton filled his. FILLED. SO not a few. And then as we were paying I noticed that they had scratch and dent apples, perfect for applesauce, at a great price and I though, "hey, we eat a lot of applesauce around here, why not" And so I bought half a bushel. I'll tell you the truth, I didn't actually know what half a bushel was going to look like. It's one of those terms that you hear but never quite know. I remembered though that my parents once brought home a bushel of apples for apple butter and we had A LOT of apple butter that year, so I knew half was probably a better way to go. As it turns out a half a bushel of apples is about 25 pounds. Which added to the 16 pounds that my son picked in about half a second meant that we have quite a few apples in our kitchen.
A fair number are good for eating. They are small and firm and sweet and just right for snacks. But most of them needed to have something done with them, so I've spent the past few days maxing batches of applesauce, apple butter and last night, an apple pie, and there is still a large bowlful staring at me every time I walk into the kitchen. "Boil me, puree me, make me into jam!" they say. My stove top has spent the week cluttered with my big preserving pot on one burner simmering apples, my largest stew pot on another cooking down the applesauce or apple butter (which, if you didn't know, is really the same thing, only the apple butter has been cooked down further. So if your applesauce ever gets a little too thick, add some more cinnamon and jar it up!) The foodmill, a bowl for the skins and an assortment of spoons for stirring, smooshing and tasting trailing off one either side of the cooktop.
I think I'll have to do one more round of applesauce, if I can find some more jars in the basement (where do all my jars go? Oh, right, they end up holding bugs and marbles and spools of thread. Hummm....must get more) and then we can use the rest on baking projects and to make a batch of apple squash. Briton has been angling for some more Grimmbena since our last batch ran out. Maybe I'll pull some blueberries out of the freezer and make apple blueberry this time. yumm...

What's your favorite thing to do with apples?

November 11, 2010

Puzzle People. Or, Being a Pack Rat Has Benifits

I'm a culler. Meaning that I like to sort through our things on a regular basis and cull out what we don't use and get rid of it. Well I can't really say that I like it. Sometimes I like it, but mostly I like when we aren't overflowing with stuff, so I feel compelled to do it. But it's not my natural state. Really, I'm a pack rat. A recovering pack rat. And the two sides of me really battle it out over craft supplies, or even things that might be craft supplies. It's hard to toss out/recycle/donate that bag of this and that which could, at some point, be useful. I suppose that's what the definition of a pack rat though.
Like a bag of puzzle pieces which has been sitting in my art chest in the mudroom taking up space for about eight months. Every time I open that drawer I wonder if I should just toss them in the recycling. The organizer in me says yes, they are taking up space. The pack rat in me says no, you never know when you might need a few puzzle pieces. So far the pack rat has won out. And you know what? The pack rat was totally right! Yesterday Evie and I colored puzzle pieces and turned them into wreaths and trees and people and I couldn't help thinking "what if I'd thrown these out?" Happy that I hadn't.
Last week I was interviewed for an article on living in a small space. At just over 1100 square feet and with two work at homers, I suppose we are living small, although most of the time our house doesn't feel particularly small to me. I guess part of that is due to finding that balance between culling and saving. The reporter and I talked about the importance of organization and how people don't need as much "stuff" as they have but that you also have to have spaces and times when things can be all over, because with two kids, two pets and two grown-ups who are prone to projects, that's just how it's got to be.

With our playroom gone, we have been doing some experimenting around here, especially as the temperature has gotten colder and the nights have come earlier, with using the spaces we do have in a way that accommodates everyone's projects and activities. It doesn't always go smoothly, and we haven't faced any long periods of "too cold to go outside" days, but I'm far less worried about the prospect of the winter than I was last spring when we decided to make this switch. Maybe that is, in part, because that longer than long, snowier than snowy winter that we had has faded a little from my mind.
Or maybe we are just starting to figure it all out. The office is a family space. The coffee table is the spot for puzzles and checkers and playdoh and doodling. The hallway is the perfect place for a train to rumble along. It's still a balancing act. Keep, toss, pull out, put away, you work here, I'll work there, they'll play over there. But I'm finding that I am much happier to have this balancing act than the ones we might be having if we lived different lives.

Do you live small? Does it even feel small to you? Or do you need space to stretch and sprawl and run? Although I definitely have some strong feelings about living small, or smaller, I know there are people who wouldn't dream of it. If you are living small, how do you handle that balance between what to keep and what to toss and where to put and do all the things that happen in a house?

November 10, 2010

Slipcover - Check!

Mostly because I was working on it instead of doing things I should have been doing. But whatever. I have a nasty cold, I should get to do things that make me smile. And this does.
Yes, yes, I know that the Orla-esque print is everywhere, but I've been a fan of the stem print since back in the day when you could only find Orla Kiely in the Made in Ireland store. Before Target and Anthropologie and everyone and their dog fell in love with her. And I still love it, so maybe this is my ode to Orla chair, since I very much doubt I'll ever get to have this one. Sigh, so pretty....

But back to the rocker. Will and I have been talking about adding some kind of print to the white slipcover on our couch and I decided that maybe trying it out on the cost-me-all-of-$15-to-make chair slipcover might be a good idea. And now I really like the white couch/orange mid century chair/white and orange printed rocker thing we've got going, so it may just stay this way. Or I may get really adventurous and make a few slipcovers for the chair so I can change things out when I get bored.
The slipcover was relatively easy, if a little time consuming. The back of the chair is an odd shape to fit well since it has to be loose enough to fit over that wide top but tight enough not to bag once it's on. I built it inside out, cutting out each piece and then pinning together and sewing the seams one at a time. There was a lot of back and forth from the chair to the sewing machine and a lot of pins, but it all worked out. I also painted the rockers and legs to cover up the weird smear marks that I made trying to fix the loose rocker long ago.
To make this print I used one of my all time favorite techniques - freezer paper stencils. If I was going to be stranded on an island and I could only bring one craft item, it would probably be freezer paper. That's assuming that I'd be needing to do crafts on this island of course, and really, I guess I'd need a few other things, like, say, something to use the freezer paper on. But you get the idea. I love the stuff. In fact, our coffee table is currently wrapped in it (plastic side down) so we can draw and color to our hearts content around here without worrying about Mr. Smells A Lot markers leaking through onto the actual table.
If you have a hankering to try out freezer paper as a fabric stencil, just cut out the image you want printed and iron it on with a hot, dry iron and paint away. I generally take the stencil off when the paint is still wet. I tell myself its to prevent any excess paint oozing off the paper and under the stencil, but really it's because I'm impatient to see what it looks like. There is always a magical sort of moment when you peel away the paper to find a crisp lined print remaining on your fabric. In fact, it's got my fingers itching to do another freezer paper stenciling furniture project. Maybe it's time to replace the dining room chair covers again...
In other news, Will is home (yay!) and he brought me three new Oliver+ S patterns that my lovely mother in law picked up at my favorite fabric store (squee!) the pie was yummy (num!) and I'm going to start teaching a sewing class for girls next week (whoo-hoo!), with more classes to follow I hope (maybe even some for grown-ups) so now I just need to stop sounding like a tragic consumptive in a Victorian novel (cough cough cough).

November 9, 2010

Saturday in the Studio (OK, in the Office)

Studio sounds so nice, doesn't it? I suppose if I really wanted it to be a studio, I could just call it that. But really, it's just the office. At least for now. But that's ok too.

Lately, the office has been a family room as well, especially in the afternoons. The drafting/sewing table gets cleared off for homework. The big marker board gets erased for little girl drawings (of it hasn't been covered with drawings already!) And it feels nice to have everyone all in one space, each working on their own thing. I looked around the other afternoon and realized that, for all the challenges that can come of having two work at home parents, it's all worth it for the moments that we wouldn't have if Will and I both went off to an office somewhere else. It makes me love out light and bright office all the more.
This weekend, with Will out of town and nothing particular that needed to be done, the kids and I hunkered down in the office and puttered. I think whenever Will is gone, we have a habit of curling up, just the three of us, and living a smaller life for a few days. Lots of reading and cuddling and kid-imagined projects and not as many outings and adventures. It's not better or worse, just different. Quieter. Which is nice every now and then. Although we all miss daddy when he's gone.
Briton and I dreamed up a few things he could make everyone for the holidays and he decided that the first gift he wanted to make was a felt mouse for the cat (which shows where we all rank in his affections I guess), so he tried out several different stitches on my sewing machine (probably the real driving force behind this particular craft choice) while Evie and I made a little fabric bag to wrap a birthday gift in.
We also tried out using food coloring to dye some wooden beads I had hanging around (pink worked great, purple looks pink, green didn't do much), played a lot of music, listened to a little bit of NPR and did A LOT of coloring. On the marker board, on a big sheet of paper spread out on the floor. On small scraps fished out of the recycling bin. And really, that was it. Nothing exciting. Nothing earth shattering. But oh so lovely.

November 8, 2010

One Thing

Well, I did not paint the bedroom. I wanted to, but the cold that will not go away coupled with lots of kid projects over the weekend meant that it wasn't in the cards. I did, however, rearrange things in there which made it a little better. Not peacock blue on the walls better (fun, right?) but better. I did, however, get myself started on another project to keep me busy until I can get to the paint. Or until I can convince Will of my color choice :).

Shortly after Evelyn was born, I drove across Portland, where we were living at the time, and out into the suburbs to buy a rocking chair that I'd found on Craigslist. Actually, I drove all the way out to this suburb and then all the way back to our house and then all the way back out again because in my new mommy fog I'd forgotten my wallet, checkbook and even my phone at home. But it was worth it, because the chair was just what I'd been looking for. In fact, it was just the chair I'd been looking for since before Briton was born.
Back then, before Pottery Barn Kids and Land of Nod were in every mall and catalouge basket, I fell in love with a rocking armchair at a relatives house and knew that it was just the thing to rock my soon to be born son in. Except we couldn't find one for love or money. Not that we had much money, but even if we had, a overstuffed rocker was nowhere to be found. So when, four years later, I found a petite (our house was very, very small, so it had to be too) armchair rocker for $20, I was sold, even taking into account the long drive, forgotten wallet, and the fact that one of the rockers fell off as we loaded it into the car.

The rocker sat in her room, much used for naptime and night time soothing, and then later it sat in our room as a place to pull on and off shoes, somewhat forgotten. Last winter we brought it down for an extra seat while my parents were visiting and I remembered how very much I loved sitting in a rocking chair. It probably goes back to when I was a baby. I've been told often that I loved to be rocked. And rocked. And rocked. So recently we ditched our loveseat to make some room in the living room and brought the rocker back down where it will get a little more love.

There is just one problem with my rocker. The fabric is ugly. UUUGGGLY. I made a brown cord slipcover for it a few years ago but our living room has been feeling a little dark to lately so the brown slipcover on the couch has been replaced with a white one and the rocker needed a similar treatment, except different.

I've made a start on the new cover, now I just have to finish. Well I have to decide what I want it to look like in the end and then I have to finish it. So that's my one thing for the week. For me, that is. That and to get over this dang cold! Oh, and the pie is still in the making since I forgot (bad wife!) that Will was going out of town and didn't get it done before he left. So that will be waiting when he gets home on Tuesday. Yay!

How about you? Any projects in the queue?

One Thing
A new Monday habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Click to enter below and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!
So, what will you be up to this week?

November 4, 2010

Playhouse Rock

So the playhouse, er, play...closet? whatever it's called, is looking pretty sharp these days. Well, maybe not sharp, cute is probably a better word. Thanks in part to my very creative boy who has been a big help with the project. We stenciled the back wall with red and pink flowers (by the way, there is a reason stencil paint exists - craft paint does not work when trying to stencil walls. Why knew? OK, OK, obviously other people knew, just not me!) and then Briton helped me turn a birdhouse into the longed for cuckoo clock.
A few days ago I added some curtains to the "window". (in some of the pictures they are just tacked on for sizing, but now they are up for real) I'm not totally sold on the idea that they will actually last long, but we'll see. I've also already been informed that just blue sky out the window won't do, but I'll let Will tackle that.
But all in all, it's pretty much done. And getting a ton of use. Both kids are in and out of the "house" but Evie really really loves it. I can hear her up there talking to her babies as she cooks in the afternoons while she waits for Briton to be done with school. I still have vague plans to make a braided rug or two for their room, including one for the "house" mostly because it gets so cold upstairs in the winter and both kids (and their mommy) have an anti-sock thing (so I should hurry up and get those slippers done!)

So now it's up to them to dream and play and create in there. Well, unless little mini-Will decides something else needs doing in there of course. :)
And speaking of things needing doing. Will is out of town. Which normally would mean I'd be up to something. And I really really want to do something drastic to our bedroom except I'm not supposed to do any new projects. Maybe just some light rearranging though.

Autumn in a Bowl

This week I've been fighting one of those wont-go-away kind of colds that has left me wanting to do nothing that involves getting off the couch. And since Will is also wrestling the same cold, dinners have been pretty simple affairs around here. Lots of pasta and pizza and tortilla wraps. The kids have been overjoyed and the lack of dishes has been much appreciated by the adults.
Yesterday afternoon, taking advantage of what I can only guess was a Dayquil induced energy spurt, Evie and I dug up the last of the carrots and the first of the parsnips and sweet potatoes. Washed, peeled and chopped, the tail end of our garden produce made a very yummy and very warming roasted vegetable dish for last nights dinner (and today's lunch). This recipe was inspired by this and this (which was recommended to me by a reader and is still on my list to try) and then also using up what was on hand. I should forewarn you that I like strong curry flavors, particularly when I'm sick and can't smell much of anything, so if you aren't a huge curry fan, you might want to tone down the spices a little. But if you want something cozy and easy one of these nights and chicken soup is not in the cards, here you go.
Curried Root Veg and Beans

1 cup of peeled carrots, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 cup of peeled parsnips, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 cups of peeled sweet potato, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp curry
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
1 T sherry
1 can of Great Northern Beans, rinsed
Dressing - 1 T tahini
1 tsp sherry
1 T olive oil

Toss everything except the beans in a bowl till well coated (hint - it's easier to toss the veg with the spices first and then add the oil and sherry) and spread out on a cookie sheet. Roast at 400 degrees, turning every once in a while, for 45 minutes or until everything is soft and starting to carmelize. Slide into a heat proof bowl and gently toss in the beans and dressing. Top with chopped pecans and sour cream.

*The kids and Will ate this over pasta but I ate it straight. Good both ways it seems....

November 3, 2010

Evie's Doll and Other Gifts....

The more I think about making this Christmas a homemade gift giving one, the more I like the idea. I really do enjoy making things for people that I hold dear, both friends and family. So I've decided to make this as homemade a holiday as I can. I'm not sure I could make it totally handmade, especially considering the K'nex set that has been hidden in a back closet for a certain engineerinly inclined 8 year old. But as much as I can, as much as time allows, I'm going to keep working toward that goal.
So to that end I've been plugging away at gifts. Briton's slippers are exactly halfway plus one tenth done (meaning I have one sock completed and the beginning of the next started :)) I've just about run out of yarn on Evie's sweater, oops, I guess I miscalculated yardage there, so I have to restock (fingers crossed the dye lot matches) before I get much further on that, but it's getting there. The first of a couple of pretty bags I'm making for friends and family is sitting on my shelf and Evie's doll is knitted, stuffed, felted and even has a few pieces of clothing. Will thinks she looks like a red headed version of one of the neighbor girls and I can sort of see it. I made the stuffing dense but still a little squishy which means that, even for me, she's fun to hold. I'm brainstorming foodie type gifts to make and give too. I loved the brittle idea and have lots of jam ready to go, with more marmalade to come when the citrus fruits start looking better. And if I can talk my dad into making fruitcakes with me over Thanksgiving, well, I then I'll be a happy girl.
As I've made my "to-make" lists, I've realized how much I dislike Christmas shopping, and how much I look forward to minimizing it as much as possible this year. Is that crazy? I know some people love that post Thanksgiving craziness but I just feel overwhelmed most of the time and end up shopping online, not very local of me, I know.
The next stage in the game is to get the kids working on gifts for people too. I'm sure they, or at least Briton, will be full of ideas (for example, making a detailed origami African savanna is high on his list at the moment. For whom, I'm not sure, but he is gung ho to make it. Or to choose paper and then ask his dad to fold the complicated ones for him) but I'm gathering some as well to add as suggestions. Have any you care to share? I'd love to hear!

November 1, 2010

One Thing

My husband is a pretty good natured guy. Especially when it comes to Halloween. I can't even tell you all the things I've made him dress up as over the years, even on Halloween's when I didn't dress up. Even on Halloween's when we didn't have children! So when I came trotting down the stairs yesterday to tell him that I'd had a hilarious idea about his costume, I knew he'd do it, even before asking. Behold the Bearded Lady.
Now to fully understand this you have to know that our neighborhood has a huge parade every Halloween where the families with kids gather and march around the streets before stopping at the house of my lovely friend Stephanie for a pre-trick or treating pizza party. Which means that my husband wore that get-up for half the day and in front of pretty much everyone we know.

So this week my One Thing is simple and sweet, quite literally. I'm going to bake him his favorite dessert - a pumpkin pie. Just because he wore eyeliner and a bra (about which he kept saying - "Why do you women wear these things! They're awful!" - all the while "adjusting" the girls) and tights and an anklet around his wrist because none of my bracelets fit and was a good sport about all of it. It made my week.

The kids were pretty cute too if I do say so myself!
So what about you? What are you up to this week?

One Thing
A new Monday habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Click to enter below and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!
So, what will you be up to this week?