Saturday, January 30, 2010


I've always adored thistles. Doesn't it look like a big green snowflake? Most people consider them weeds, I suppose; they are rather like dandelion's older, more dramatic sister. But then, I don't consider dandelions weeds, either.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Here's a recent drawing from my 4yo artist. It's a mommy puppy dog, a baby puppy dog, a kid puppy dog, a caterpillar, a ladybug, and Lightning McQueen. (Of course.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

a little gardening

I'm a little late, compared to last year, but the sugar snap pea seeds are planted. Due to the yard work we've done recently, the permanent garden is being moved and isn't ready yet. I needed a little space to plant the peas right away, though, so here's our solution.

If there's anything we have in abundance here, for free, it's logs. We have found many uses for them. The look is a bit more rustic than I'd like, but, did I mention they were free? So, here's two logs laid side by side, with a couple of bricks at each end. Fill with potting soil, and there's a nice row for peas! They will need some supports to grow up on, but we'll get to that later.
Peas need a fence, to keep out hungry bunnies and mischievous kitties. Here's a trick I figured out last year for supports. I took some PVC pipe we had lying around, cut it to the length I needed, and drilled two holes all the way through the end of each piece.
Put a nail through each hole (all the way through) and hammer it into the log.
Then wrap the whole thing with chicken wire and staple to the logs. Tie it at the top of the PVC posts as needed.
This little fence will be sufficient to keep the bunnies out. But will it be enough to keep out the most voracious sugar snap pea eater of all? ;)
(And just so you know, we put some seeds out in another place so the bunnies could have some too.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

happy birthday!

One of Lydia's friends had a 5th birthday party this morning! I had the honor of making her cake. I've not done a cake decorating post in a while, so I thought I'd show you this one. It was great fun, and I really enjoyed making it.

She wanted a Barbie cake - I had not done one of these before, but I was willing to give it a try. I used the Pampered Chef batter bowl and the instructions on their website to make the cake. Rather than make a second cake in the bowl, as the instructions say, I made a round cake to put underneath and give a little extra height.

The head and body of the doll are a pick made for this kind of cake, but a regular doll can be used if you make a hole in the cake, or take off the legs. I'm sure you know already that nothing artificial comes out of my kitchen, so food coloring is sometimes a challenge. I made a half-dress for the doll, sewing pieces of sheer nylon and ribbons where the skirt ought to be. These laid down over the cake "skirt" to give it some color. (Leave it to me to combine sewing and baking!) You could achieve the same effect by finding a doll with a swimsuit or a blouse, and attaching the ribbons and sheer fabric or tulle to a rubber band around her waist.

Here's a back view. The wreath on her head is just craft wire wrapped with white florist tape, with loops of the ribbons taped in. And a big ribbony bow on the back, of course.
And here's a close-up - I put some ribbons and fabric at the neck too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

bead/button tray

Out on the porch this afternoon, for a little helpful craft project. We have lots of buttons, beads, and other small items stored in ziploc-type bags. When we need to use them, we sometimes dump them out in a box lid or something, but it's always a pain to get them back into the bag without spilling. Yes, I am aware that there are trays for sale that have a funnel-type thing on one end; but you know what a cheapskate I am.

So here's my solution. Take a jug of any kind, with sort of flat sides. Could be a milk jug, detergent bottle, anything that's the size you need and is wide and flat enough to not tip over when it's full.

Using care and common sense to not hurt yourself, use your favorite cutting implement and cut your jug in half, beginning and ending at the top. (You can see Bilbo is very interested in this project.)
And here's our two halves. I chose not to use the side with the handle as buttons might get stuck inside it, but you could theoretically have two trays from one bottle. You might want to trim away part of the neck, or at least round off any sharp corners.
So let's try it out. Ah, the infamous Perler beads:
Check it out! I can pour with one hand, take a photo with the other hand, and not spill any beads!
And my assistant takes her break. ;)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

looking up

Well, the big dose of crazy seems to be wearing off a bit at my house. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel at least, and it doesn't seem to be a train.

The old Packard thermometer is looking a little better - 55 is definitely more comfortable than 25.
And one fingerless mitt is finished, and the other started. So far, so good!
Hopefully in the coming days I'll be able to check in here a little more often. Have a great weekend, especially if it's the three-day variety!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

and now, sewing and shopping therapy

This is an experiment to see how much cuteness I can fit into one blog post.

And my little assistant, there, is the last in my "birthday series" of Mae dolls. You may find the pattern here. As for me, I guess it's on to a new doll for the year!

You know, the world has enough sad and dreary. How about some cute and colorful?

tee hee - I just realized "Mae" is holding the card for "May."

Saturday, January 9, 2010

knitting as therapy

Life has seemed chaotic around my house the last few days. It's a combination of too many things needing to be done, needing my attention, and too many other urgent things popping up and taking too much time. I don't know why this inordinate number of crises has been bestowed upon me right now, but there it is. Nothing serious, I suppose, just frustrating and annoying.

To top it off, I've felt an irresistible urge to knit. Seems frivolous, at a time when there is no time to spare, that I just want to curl up with some nice yarn and favorite needles. It is not uncommon for me to want to knit when things are going wrong, though. I find comfort in the softness of the yarn, the way my favorite needles work, the neat, orderly rows and columns of stitches growing in number underneath my fingers. It's a welcome contrast to the chaos around me. So much that I often identify pieces I've knitted with what was going on in my life at the time. Not in a sad way, just a matter-of-fact way.

I did manage to eke out a few minutes to start something new, though. I had to stay up far too late one night to do it, which proved counterproductive the next day, but it was delicious. The fingerless mitts I made a while back have stretched and gotten all fuzzy. I love to wear them, but they make me feel like I have Sasquatch hands. So I started a new pair. I had a bit of Country yarn by Naturally Caron in Chocolate Truffle. I gathered a favorite set of double point needles and the pretty stitch markers, and set to work.

While I'm at it, let me tell you how much I adore this book. Some of my projects start with a pattern, and I buy yarn to suit it. But often my projects start with a yarn I found on sale or a new pair of needles I want to try out. This book has earned its keep in those times. The mitten pattern alone has saved my neck on more than one occasion. You just choose your yarn and needles, knit up a gauge swatch, then follow the charts to knit whatever you want. It also gives a simple, blank canvas for any special pattern stitches or colorwork you would like to add.

And if you'd like pretty stitch markers too, visit Karen at Beadmarkers. :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

you might be a compulsive knitter if...

Look at this cool car Lydia made from a box! All by herself!
It has wheels:
It has babies in the back seat:
It has a steering wheel, radio, pedals, glove box, and various buttons. And see that swirl on the passenger side? That's the "piece of yarn where the mommy sits." Priceless!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

quick, cheap, warm windows

With this latest cold snap, we have been updating our curtains to the thermal variety. It may be all in my head, but it really does seem to make the rooms cozier, especially on the north-facing side.
But Lizi's curtains match her comforter, so we didn't want to replace those. Since there are three windows in her small room, one on the north side, it gets pretty chilly in the winter. My solution was to make a sort of shade from one of those (cheap) blankets that looks like thick felt. I was fortunate to find a blanket at Dollar General for $5, the exact measurement I needed for the three windows. I already had three spring-tension rods to hang them.

On the side of the blanket that would be the tops of the shades, I turned down and stitched a casing for the rods. Then I cut the blanket into thirds, put the rods through the casings and hung them in the windows. Finishing the edges was not necessary, as this fabric does not fray. It does stretch, so if it's a window that's used a lot you might want to bind the edges. If you need the shade to open and close often, you could add rings and strings on the back to raise and lower it. As is, though, the whole project took 15-20 minutes and cost $5, because I already had the rods. They could stand to be a bit thicker, and I may eventually buy another blanket to make them two layers; but already her room is more comfortable.

As for the rest of the house, as I mentioned, we've bought the thermal curtains. So what of all those zippered bags the panels are packaged in? If you know me at all, you know I'm a saver and re-user. We took the bags and put Lydia's little sets of toys and things in them. Each bag has a small hook on top, perfect for hanging from the shelf in her closet. It's exactly within her reach, the contents are visible, and she can open and close the zipper better than she could the gallon ziploc bags we were using before. (Please forgive the photo - it's a closet, and kinda dark!)
Hope you're staying safe and warm!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

join the fun!

I've just found out that my sweet friend at OrganicMamas Shop is having a huge giveaway to celebrate her 100th sale! Do go and check out her shop, as well as the giveaway. She has the most ingenious bracelets to keep up with nursing times, but they could be used to keep up with just about anything you need to do on a regular schedule - medicine, glasses of water, you name it. I wish I'd had one of them when I was a sleep-deprived nursing mama!

She has knitted items for babies as well. Look at those little toes peeking through! *squeal!*

Click on over and join the fun!

Monday, January 4, 2010

yummy, and pretty!

My poor muscadine vines did not do well last summer. From what I hear, it just wasn't a good year for muscadines all around. I so wanted to make some muscadine jelly, but we had only a few handfuls.

When we visited my aunt a few months ago, she gave us a bag of scuppernongs she bought at the farmer's market. Suddenly, we were saved! We made jelly with her scuppernongs, together with our muscadines, just enough for one jar for her and one jar for us. But it was yummy.

We had some other jelly that needed to be used first, but finally opened the jar this morning. I just had to try to show you the COLOR of this stuff - sadly, my photography skills are lacking, but it's just so gorgeous in real life!

And here's hoping the vines do better this year - long live muscadine jelly!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

how sweet!

One of the winners of the crayon wallet giveaway was Lynn at Maple Hill Farm. When I contacted her to inform her she had won, she offered to send me a bar of her lovely handmade soap in return! Now, ordinarily, I'd say "Oh, no, dear, I don't want to take anything from you, just let me send you this" or some such Southern thing. But my curiosity got the better of me, so I accepted, and I'm so glad I did! She sent this wonderful Cocoa Butter soap, which is agreeable with all our various allergies and sensitivities. I am thrilled, of course, but Lizi is absolutely in love and insists we buy all our soap there from now on.

Do visit her shop - she is a delightful seller and has all kinds of products to treat yourself for the new year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

dreaming for Easter

Yes, I really do start planning Easter dresses this early. I like time to come up with ideas and scrap them, plus time to do the actual work.

Happy New Year!