Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WIP Wed, Yarn Along and Advent activities

It's a busy time of year with tomorrow starting the December festivities so I'm rolling WIP Wednesday, Ginny's Yarn Along and a mention of our Advent activities all in one post!

First up, my biggest WIP over the last several weeks (ok, my second biggest since Finn's quilt probably qualifies as the biggest) has been Elizabeth's doll bed and linens. I finally finished up her sheets, made from the same vintage sheet that I used for the backing of our picnic blanket.

I decided to stain the unfinished wood bed with watercolor paint and seal it with beeswax. The pink looked really bright when I was painting it, but it settled into the wood grain nicely.

I'm really excited about gifting Elizabeth with this little doll bed. I just think it turned out completely adorable. :)

For my Yarn Along this week, I'm working on a hat for one of my cousins, who has been incessantly begging me to make him a hat. Since I just saw him over Thanksgiving, I told him I'd get on it asap. I'm reading my Christmas in the Family book that I'd lost for so long. (more about that here) I've also been flipping through a new Christmas story book I bought for the kids.

After reading Grace's post on mindfulness at Advent and seeing her Advent list, I was inspired to come up with my own Advent list. A few of our activities are local to our area, but many of them are just geared toward having a few moments of special time during this busy season, like our breakfast of sweet potato biscuits with honey butter for breakfast tomorrow morning to kick off the month of December. I noted the days when Paulie and Philip would be with us so I could plan our most family-oriented activities during those days when we're all together. (And there are 2 days when we'll be completely kid-free, although I'm sure we'll be enjoying some fun seasonal activities on those days as well!)

Monday, November 29, 2010

the trouble with libraries

The summer before last, when I was at the Steiner Institute taking my felting class, I stumbled upon a book in their catalog that looked like a fun addition to our crafting library. I flipped through it, bought it, flew home with it and then...it disappeared. I assumed I set it on a shelf in our home library to save until December, but when December came, I couldn't find it anywhere. I looked every shelf of our library, search all the bedroom shelves, thinking one of the kids might have walked off with it. Nothing. I even began to doubt my sanity. Maybe I hadn't actually bought the book...maybe I just thought I bought it. About a month ago, I began searching again in earnest. No luck. Then last week, as I was helping Elizabeth look for this book (she's obsessed with the Pietà sculpture right now), it appeared...in one of the places I've looked many times before but pushed back a bit and out of view.

Needless to say, we've been pouring over the amazing crafts and dreaming about our favorites. I found several more patterns for window stars including this 8-pointed star with wide points. It just screamed winter to me in the dark blue and purple kite paper. There was also a 16-pointed star pattern. Wowzers, that's a lot of skinny folding!

Elizabeth was anxious to try the potato printing. So on one of her days off from school last week, she and Finn gave it a whirl.

They dug out a few cookie cutters that would fit on our potatoes and then we carved around the cookie cutters.

They stamped, washed their potatoes and stamped some more.

They even began using the cutouts from the potato to make negative space stamps.

What a fun time they had! They must have worked with these stamps for close to 2 hours.

Another afternoon when Finn was napping, Elizabeth and I decided to make a watercolor paper collage. We painted several pieces of cardstock with different watercolor paints, trying to keep them rather mottled looking.

Then we cut out the shapes to make the collage. You can see the collages in the book in the upper right corner of the picture below.

We ended up with a really cute little shepherd collage to stand over our nature table. I'm sure we'll have more projects to share from the book as we get further into advent!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Finn's holiday sweater

Back in the late spring, I made this sweater for Finn intending that it would be part of his Christmas or birthday gifts. However, as I pulled out the kids' sweaters to take pictures for Christmas cards, I realized that I had no sweaters in Finn's size. (Although I'm pretty sure we had some for Philip when he was that age. I'll probably discover them in a random box just about the time Finn outgrows them.)

So...Finn got his winter sweater a bit early this year.

He wore it for our Christmas card photo shoot and even let me take some solo shots while he played with the leaves.

The yarn I used for this sweater is Mirasol's Hap'i, which is a rather slubby, thick tanguis cotton, in natural. I found it last Christmas at a little yarn shop in Asheville on my trip with the hubby. It was on sale and a perfect weight and softness for Finn. I immediately saw a sweater for him when I felt this yarn. He's not fond of some wool yarns so I knew this soft cotton would make him happy.

Finn wore this sweater again to my grandmother's house on Thanksgiving day and posed for another photo shoot for me.

The pattern is a free ravelry pattern, named Gavyn, and I knit the largest size, which is supposed to be a 4-6. I could tell right away that the sleeves were going to be short so I added 2 inches which made them perfect for Finn now. How any 6 year old could fit in this sweater, I'll never know. I wish I had added 2 inches to the length of the sweater as well. Then it might have lasted until next winter as well since the width of the sweater is perfect for a 4-5.

His favorite part of the sweater is the buttons, as I knew it would be. My boy loves his car buttons. They sweeten the deal of any sweater, and I'm happy to add a little personalization for him.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

{this moment} - Thanksgiving Day bird

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

{Carolina Wren spotted out my Granny's kitchen window on Thanksgiving}


On this gorgeous Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful that, although I do not partake of bird myself, I have a family full of turkeys with whom I get to celebrate.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Monday, November 22, 2010

vintage doughnuts

There are few things I enjoy more than homemaking, particularly cooking from scratch, which has, on occasion, earned me comparisons to Donna Reed and other 1950s housewife jokes. Not that I mind. I think that our culture could use a bit more home-cooking, so in my opinion, there are worse things than being compared to an iconic 1950s homemaker.

When the September issue of Better Homes and Gardens arrived in my mailbox with a classic recipe from one of their classic 1953 red-checkered cookbooks, I practically squealed in delight. A homemade powdered doughnut fried up in one's very own kitchen...who does that anymore?

And so I did. Fry up doughnuts, that is. I almost expected to see cherub-cheeked children with squeaky, slicked back wet hair wearing tartan flannel nightclothes show up at the kitchen table. (Am I the only one who dreams in another decade?)

Alas, the kids still belong to their own generation. But just maybe I'll foster in them a love of warm, homemade powdered doughnuts while their friends continue to believe that powdered doughnuts exist only in stale white bags.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

weekend shots

I spent Saturday morning chasing the kids around the park trying to get some good shots of them. Not doing anything in particular, just being themselves. It's been a while since I just took pictures of the kids being themselves, and with the amazing sunny 50s we had on Saturday morning, everyone had a great time.

They're all getting so big and changing all the time. I don't want to look back one day and see mostly shots of their hands doing artwork or their cooking and crafting fun. So for one day I just captured them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

{this moment} - then and now

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

{Nov 2008}

{Nov 2010}

I know it's more than one shot, but as my baby gets ready to turn 4 in a month, I feel sentimental when I stumble upon pictures of his blond curls and sweet baby sweaters.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WIP Wed & Yarn Along

I've been in holiday crafting overdrive for the last couple of weeks and expect it to last right up until the end of the year. So many ideas, so little time! I did finish a few things over the last week to add to the holiday stash.

Elizabeth's doll bed is coming along. My mom worked on sanding the bed, and I bought a pretty shade of pink watercolor to stain the bed. And the quilt is now finished! It really went quite quickly once I determined exactly which pieces I wanted to use. I really like how the gradient front turned out.

I chose to use double fold bias tape to edge the quilt so that I wouldn't have to match the back of the quilt so closely.

Which turned out to be a good idea since I found this remnant of slightly more than 3/4 of a yard for $2. I really like how the quilt is kind of reversible, something I didn't really plan.

The flannel remnant is very soft. I think Elizabeth's doll will be pleased. ;)

Finn, our resident pig lover, will be receiving this knitted pig as part of his Christmas. I just love this little pink pig. The yarn is a corriedale/mohair blend from our local sheep farm.

The legs were a bit awkward to attach. I've not done much in the way of toy knitting, but it seems like they never quite go together the way they're pictured.

Except the tail. It's as cute as can be.

I'm joining Ginny's yarn along again this week. I've been working on a pair of socks for the hubby and reading to get inspired in my crafting as well as our holiday celebrating.

The Gentle Art of Domesticity, by Jane Brocket of Yarnstorm fame, is always one of my go-tos for crafting inspiration. The pictures are just so lovely and I always want to hole up and quilt or knit for days after flipping through this book for just a few minutes. The Christmas Almanac is loaded with Christmas stories, history of Christmas traditions, gift ideas, recipes, Christmas traditions around the world and many other fascinating things. I've recently been looking to add another country's traditional Christmas dish to our dinner table thinking it would be a fun discussion point for the kids. The vintage pictures in this book are so sweet and inspiring as well.

Finn was so thrilled to bring home a project from school yesterday that I couldn't resist sharing. He, almost all by himself, made a pumpkin and nuts centerpiece. You should have seen the proud look on his face when I lit his candle at dinnertime last night. I hope he always feels such pride in his creativity brought to fruition.