Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Christmas

I've waited so long to post this that it seems outdated now, but I wanted to post a few pictures of our Christmas day celebrations, not because you need to see what we look like opening gifts, but because Finn has so little focus during this busy season.  As you can see, we celebrated his birthday as we have for several years now, by honoring Finn first with his birthday ring, a special breakfast, and his birthday gifts, before launching into our Christmas celebrations.

Of course, he was just as happy as the rest to dive into the stockings and gifts when his birthday time was finished.  I won't bore you with a dozen photos of children with thrilled faces and shocked expressions, but I did want to post a few cute photos of them in their new hand knits. :)

(She's sporting a new hat, scarf, and fingerless mitts!)

Monday, December 24, 2012

the handmades

The handmade Christmas presents really begin here in the summer.  I usually start my first knitted gifts very early so that I have plenty of time to finish the inevitable last minute additions. You can see all of those handmade gifts in the crafting tab. The knitting has really heated up in the last few weeks though, as the last minute additions kept popping up. Fortunately, I'm down to the last few stitches and I see no problem finishing those today.

I'm not the only one who has been crafting recently though.  The older 3 kids and I decided to do a theme for Finn's birthday (on Christmas).  We each chose a storybook around which we would like to create a handmade play set.  I was so proud of the big kids!  You should have seen them, piecing quilts,

hand-sewing felt,

constructing with paper and cardboard.

We did buy a few small wooden pieces to supplement, but below are the storybook gifts Finn will be receiving.  Elizabeth made Finn a quilt for his Little Red Riding Hood set. (I made the knitted Little Red and Grandmother for her.)

Philip made the Bremen Town Musicians window. (The Bremen Town Musicians came from Jupiter's Child, as did the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood.)

(We decided he might need a flashlight to fully enjoy this set. ;)

Paulie made the Star Child, based on this pattern from Rhythm of the Home. (The wooden candle holder is from PrettyDreamer on etsy.)

Here's an up close view of the little Star Child.

All 3 of the books are illustrated by Bernadette Watts.  (We love her illustrations!) And we were fortunate to find 2 of the 3 at our local used bookstore. Finn is also getting a Peter and the Wolf book and cd from us with a wooden figure set, similar to this one, without the hunters. I didn't handmake anything for that set so I didn't picture it here.

I have been working on some other handmades besides knitting.  I made minty chocolate lip gloss for stocking stuffers.  I'm already working on my tube and it IS divine!

I also made some hand cream this year for some of my extended family. This recipe took a few days to cure and thicken, but it's very rich and creamy now.

And of course, there's the knitting...always more knitting.  All of the toes, fingers, and heads in this house will be toasty though!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

::right now::

::counting the last few days until Christmas::

::watching the beautiful dinner candles::

::making the last few Christmas presents::

::admiring Finn's lovely paper whites::

::celebrating solstice with a tin can candle::

::baking sourdough by the panful::

::opening one small gift early...pjs::

::enjoying family game night::

::watching the tree grow fuller by the minute::

Thursday, December 20, 2012

her own nativity

Elizabeth takes after me in that once she gets an idea in her head she has a hard time letting it go until she follows through with it.  Her ideas and projects often consume her, and I completely identify.  She developed an idea at the beginning of this week to make a nativity completely out of random items she could find around the house.

We have quite a supply of little wooden peg people and a basket of scrap cloth.  Most of her supplies came from these 2 places. (Don't you *love* Joseph's mustache and goatee! It's the details!) She also used cotton swabs, broken and glued into a rough manger shape then wrapped with cotton yarn.

Her shepherd is carrying a shepherd's hook made from modeling wax, and her sheep are pipe cleaners wrapped in raw wool and gently needle-felted.

But it's the details of the wise men that I think I love the most: using pinking sheared cloth to represent the crowns with coordinating robes, little balls of gold modeling wax wrapped in plastic wrap for a sack of gold, a metal brad pushed into red modeling wax for a bowl of frankincense, and wooden beads held together with metal brads to represent chunks of myrrh.

She's such a creative thing, that girl of mine.  And I'm so happy to see these bit and pieces of her imagination come to life.

PS. If you want to see a similar nativity made of peg people and felt, complete with directions for making your own, head over to the Magic Onions.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Yarn Along

My Yarn Along projects this week aren't too different from the last few weeks. Late last night, I actually just finished the sweater pictured below. All that's needed now is to add a few buttons.  We're still working our way through A Little House Christmas Treasury.  Only a few stories left! I also received an early Christmas present from the hubs.  The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook! I'm enjoying leafing through and planning a few meals.

The last Christmas present that I'm working on is a pair of socks for Paul.  Those large feet make the knitting slow, but I'm 3/4 done with the first sock, so I might make it.

I also added a quick knit late last week and made a pair of mittens for Philip. I used the family mittens pattern from the autumn issue of Taproot. I love the texture in this quick knit.

I used some City Tweed from Knit Picks leftover from a previous project.  I think the subtle mossy green is a good color for Philip. These mittens are very soft and I hope they'll service him well over the next few chilly months.

Have you finished all of your Christmas crafting?

Monday, December 17, 2012

some thoughts and a gingerbread house

It's not easy to launch back into another week of blogging about mundane goings-on when life has come to a crashing halt for so many grieving families. Many online newspapers, magazines and even other bloggers have shared some profound thoughts, and I have nothing to add that hasn't already been said. I'll simply share a few reflections.

This past weekend, on the heels of another national tragedy, one of my oldest and dearest friends brought her family up to visit mine.  The timing couldn't have been better. We spoke very little of what was happening in Connecticut.  We didn't need to.

Our children, thrilled to be in each others company again, were buzzing around, chasing each other, clambering into each others laps and onto each others backs.  They made movies together, curled up together in bed reading, ran races in the backyard, and built the little gingerbread house you see in these pictures.

They saw not one headline, not one news story, not one frightening alert.

They had the time, energy, and gift to simply be children.

As my heart breaks for the many families who were robbed of this precious gift during this season of love, joy, and peace, I am holding a space in my heart daily, even hourly, to slow down, hug my children, enjoy the holidays.

Fortunately, my kids won't remember this particular Christmas season as being different from any other year. But I hope I do.

I hope I can continue from this year forward to be more patient, more loving, more joyful, more present.  For what my children need are not more gifts under the tree, even hand-knit, lovingly-made ones, they need a family encircling them with security, peace, and love.

Friday, December 14, 2012

{this moment} - Christmas karaoke

{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.

Christmas Car-i-oke found here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Yarn Along

For this week's Yarn Along, I have several project on the needles and a few that I've recently finished as well.  I'm still working on Finn's Christmas sweater that I showed you last week, but I've also been working on other projects as well.  As Christmas gets closer, I find myself working on many things at one time so I can always be switching out projects depending on whose around (and watching me work) at any given moment.  Right now I'm finishing up my last Christmas hat.  Each of the kids get a new hat in their stocking each year.  Philip is getting a Storm Trooper hat (that I already attempted once, but it was too small so my lucky nephew welcomed it).  I also just started a pair of socks for my husband.  I'm hoping that they'll go quickly on size 3 needles so I can get them done (as well as my other things) in the next 2 weeks.

We're reading A Little House Christmas Treasury this week.  The kids really enjoy the Christmas stories from the Little House books and this is a nice collection of them.  Oh, I know I could look them up in each of the books to read them, but it really is lovely to have them in a single volume together.  We've read from this book a little each day since we bought it on Saturday.

Also, in the last week, I've made these felted mittens for Finn.  They are a bit big and I didn't really follow any one pattern completely.  I'll try to get my Ravelry notes updated soon (in my spare time, ha!) so that they can be copied.  They are a bit large for Finn, probably perfect for a 7-8 year old, but he can grow into them.  They are nice and thick and warm, and I hope they work well in the snow to keep his hands dry.

Elizabeth has requested a pair of fingerless mitts for Christmas.  I aim to please and I found these adorable cabled mitts in a slightly-too-small-for-me size, which should be perfect for her.  I also had some super-soft alpaca yarn from Shivaya Naturals in Ember that has been sitting in my stash for long enough.  They really worked perfectly with this pattern.

And because they are so much lovelier on a hand, I squeezed my hand into one for this shot.  (It's not easy to take a photo of your own hand with a 50mm lens!)

I also finished Paulie's R2D2 hat a couple of weeks ago and bribed Finn with a cookie to model for me.  I think Paulie will be pleased with the results!

I think Finn should have only gotten a half a cookie because he was mostly silly while I tried to get some shots.

How's your holiday knitting coming along?