Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Yarn Along

For this week's Yarn Along, I just completed both a book and a knitting project. The knitting is the Star Crossed Cable Beret, which I've knitted twice in the last week. (It's the hat I decided to knit for Elizabeth with the blue yarn from last week's Yarn Along.) I enjoyed knitting it so much, that I decided to use some extra Blue Sky Alpaca suri merino, leftover from my vest, to make another one for a friend. This yarn is soft and scrumptious. I love knitting with it!

I also just finished A Long Walk to Water, which I read about on a teen book list sometime in the last few months. It's a short read, around 100 pages, but quite intense and full of action. I thought I might read it aloud to the kids, but it's really a middle school read. I don't think my younger 2 would handle the intensity and sadness quite yet. I still highly recommend it for middle school and older though.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas sewing

Many years ago, when Elizabeth was my only child, I made her a Christmas pillowcase with Peanuts Christmas comic strips running across the fabric. Every year it gets packed up with the Christmas decorations and brought back out in early December when she happily adds it to her bed. A few years ago, the boys started asking why they didn't have Christmas pillowcases. (No reason, other than my LONG crafting list at this time of year.) When I stumbled across a sale at on Christmas prints, I decided to bite the bullet and make the boys Christmas pillowcases too.

As I started to make Finn's, I realized that the yard of Grinch fabric I bought wasn't oriented correctly to make an entire pillowcase. Henry's Grinch fabric had the same problem. Fortunately, they share a room and both fabrics had the Grinch! I simply combined the two as a border and solved my problem.

I chose Paulie's fabric from the Peanuts line. I tried to pick a fabric that was a bit more subtle so that as he moves further into teenagehood he might not be embarrassed to use it. Then, of course, I worried that he might think his too boring. Fortunately, he seemed to like it. (You never know how teenagers are going to react to these things!) Now of course, Elizabeth wants to know why she's the only one in the house who didn't get a new Christmas pillowcase. (See! Teenagers! They are so hard to figure out!)

She might not be getting a new pillowcase for Christmas, but I did start working on a sham to match the quilt she's receiving for Christmas. I think ultimately she'll enjoy this more anyway.

Once her sham is finished, I'll only have ONE thing left on my Christmas sewing list. The light at the end of the tunnel!

Monday, December 9, 2013

::right now::

::making merry::

::folding new stars for the windows::

::reading Christmas books::

::decorating our tree with memories::

::decking the bedroom mini trees::

::cooking orange-scented playdough::

::playing with paper Santa dolls::

Thursday, December 5, 2013

handmaking decorations

When my sister-in-law was here over the Thanksgiving holidays, she pointed out an adorable bottle cap snowman craft she saw on Pinterest. We gathered the supplies, some from the Michaels craft department (a necessity for the bottle caps unless you start saving them NOW for next year's crafting), others from my stash, then we set the kids to work painting and drawing. Of course, my children being their charmingly creative selves, we didn't end up with a single normal snowman among them. (Or maybe Elizabeth's were; I can't seem to find them right now.) But we do have upside-down snowmen, very long snowmen, and snowmen with heads on both ends. It's all about the process, right? They are quite festive, if non-traditional.

The knitted cork trees that I began a few weeks ago multiplied successfully, and in addition, Paulie made several origami Christmas trees from a tutorial I found for him. We decided that some of the smaller ones looked cute with the knitted trees. Finn had his own ideas and decided to add snow drifts around our trees. Now Paulie is scheming for a way to add white to the tops of his trees to complete the look.

I love the creativity that seems to naturally burst forth this time of year. It makes the long, sometimes dreary, days indoors seem that much lovelier.

If there are any holiday decoration tutorials that your family has enjoyed, please pass them along!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Yarn Along

For Yarn Along this week, I'm not actually in progress on any knits. (Shocking, I know.) I do have this skein of Malabrigo that I will hopefully wind into a ball today because I have one Christmas hat (for Elizabeth) left to knit. On December 1, I started reading Letters From Father Christmas aloud to the kids, per Paulie's request. He's been on a Tolkien kick since the summer. We are thoroughly enjoying the letters and illustrations so far. The kids were amazed the first time Father Christmas mentioned all of the European countries he was visiting. "What about America?!" they chorused.

Over the last 2 weeks, I've mostly worked on knitting these Christmas ornaments.  Each year we give the kids a new ornament. This year I hemmed and hawed over what I wanted to give them. Usually they get a handmade or locally made ornament. 

I decided this year to use the pattern from Handknit Holidays and made sweater balls out of leftover yarn from hats I've made them in the past. I also made 9 from a skein of Järbo Raggi Multi yarn. I kept a few and have already gifted several of them. They make such festive little ornaments. Hooray for another quick knit!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I realize it's odd to title this post Thanksgiving when the photos are full of Christmas trees and gifts. We just came off of a week full of family. (My parents are in from the Philippines, and my brother's family came down from the Philadelphia area.) As is often the case when we have family in town, I barely have time for any photos, much less time to post to my blog. Over the days we spent with extended family we celebrated Thanksgiving, celebrated Christmas with my brother's family, put up 2 Christmas trees, played games until late in the evening, and spent a day at my Grandmother's house (with aunts, uncles, and cousins). Although I have few photos to show for it, I have a heart full of love and gratitude for the time we spent together. I'm always amazed and thankful for the interaction between my kids and my brother's kids. Those cousins love each other to pieces and enjoy playing together in a way that makes my heart smile.

Monday, November 25, 2013

::right now::

::playing Bremen Town Musicians in front of the early morning fire::

::savoring the autumnal flavors::

::weaving with Grammy::

::collecting the last of the autumn acorns::

::creating a centerpiece::

::mixing an experiment with Grandad::

::obsessing over volcanoes::

Thursday, November 21, 2013


This past week has been a tad bit crazy, thus the lack of blogging. My parents have arrived for their annual trip in from the Philippines where they live and they just happened to arrive on the same day as Elizabeth's 7th grade performance.  

Elizabeth has been fortunate not only to attend a school she loves, but a school that has encouraged each child to develop a strong sense of self and ability to perform in a variety of artistic endeavors, including stage presence.

Elizabeth, although she has no desire to join local youth theater, loves this aspect of her education and embraces it heartily each year. Last night was no exception.

Her class spent the last 8 weeks studying the plight of the Jewish people in Europe during WWII. Part of the way they learned about this period in history was to study the story of Brundibár and it's history.

All the time that they spent learning lines, music, story, and costume, they also spent learning about Theresienstadt, the concentration camp where the opera was performed, and the children who were imprisoned there.

They are also reading Night and Diary of Anne Frank to get a more complete picture of that time period.

I know that as a child when I read the paragraphs in a textbook about the atrocities of World War II, I didn't, couldn't, possibly fathom the scope of terror and evil.

I'm not sure that these kids can either, but I know that they have a much deeper, richer understanding than I ever did.

The day before they performed Brundibár to a packed house (twice), they watched a section of a 60 Minutes episode on the way the Nazis used Brundibár to deceive the Red Cross. Elizabeth came to me later that afternoon and said, "I always knew the Nazis were bad and the Holocaust was sad, but I didn't really understand how sad."

"I feel a responsibility to do such a good job on Brundibár so that we can honor those children who were so brave."

I think those children were incredibly honored.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

her quilt

I love quilts. I think I've always loved quilts, but as I've grown older, I've gained a greater respect, for the fabrics, the history, the talent of the quilters. I've written in this space before about a couple of my first quilts and how much they mean to me now. When Finn turned 4, I made him a car quilt. The search for perfect prints, all the sewing, plus working full-time (at that time), made that quilt an exhausting experience. I'm not exactly a natural at quilting either. All of that precise measuring and cutting of beautiful fabrics makes me a tad bit nervous, actually. But this summer, I decided that I would like to have a winter quilt to keep in the living room during the colder months. That one quilt turned into two. As I worked on those, Elizabeth casually mentioned that she'd like a quilt for her bed too. What? Request for a handmade? That's music to a mama's ear!

I thought about it, browsed Pinterest, perused blogs of quilters I know. This particular quilt caught my eye. I even found a tutorial for it here. Of course, since I was making a twin-size quilt, I had to measure, calculate, (and measure and calculate again) and adjust the tutorial to my needs.

With 2 Jelly Rolls, one in Moda's Lario line and the other in Moda's Snow, I found that the total length of strips fell just short of twin size. I ended up buying a yard of Moda's Snow to make a strip for the top and bottom to increase the length. As it turns out, I actually like the white framing better that way. I stumbled, quite accidentally, on quilt backing fabric in Lario's Lake Mist Garden Vines, which is the perfect backing since that shade of blue is very close to the color that Elizabeth's walls are painted.

Since I had those strips of white at the top and bottom, I decided to do a bit of quick embroidery in the top left and bottom right corners before I began quilting. The top left has Elizabeth's initials and the year.

The bottom right has a special little message to her.

After 2 days of non-stop quilting, (and refilling the bobbin a record 9 times!) the quilt was complete.

With the minor amount of backing fabric that remained, I finished Elizabeth's pillow. The embroidery is from Wee Wonderfuls' Book Club Stitchettes. (The same line that Finn's pillow is stitched from.)

I really love how nicely this pillow goes with the quilt. And the embroidery SO looks like Elizabeth to me. I can't wait to gift her this set for Christmas. (I hope she remembers she asked for a quilt!)

PS. Photographing a quilt is hard. Really, really hard.