Monday, October 24, 2011

the candy holidays

Well, here we are - it's nearly halloween, then Christmas, then Valentine's Day, then Easter.  I call them the "candy holidays," because the celebration of them has evolved into a sickening candy-fest.  There is a special reason I dread them so much:  we have followed a strictly all natural diet, as closely as possible, for 8 years now.  My girls are very sensitive to artificial colors, flavors and certain preservatives.  Their reactions range from ADHD-type behavior to depression.  Sometimes both - think of some bizarre combination of Tigger and Eeyore.

I am very fortunate that they know what they can and can't eat, and stick to the diet on their own, even when I'm not around.  Over the years, they have learned to simply say "No thank you, I can't eat that" when they are offered ordinary candy.  The reactions they get tend to fall into two categories.

One category is pity.  Poor pitiful little deprived things, they can't have M&M's, or a sucker from the bank.  Sometimes people will feel so bad for them, they will try to convince them to go ahead and eat it, Mom won't know the difference.  (ha!)  What these people don't realize is that my daughters are not accustomed to artificial ingredients; that Red 40- and vanillin-laden excuse for candy will taste like a bunch of chemicals to them.  There are real, natural candies out there, and they beat the taste of artificially flavored candy by a mile.  But even if there were not alternatives to artificially flavored candy, I've never heard of a child dying of a candy deficiency!

Another category, believe it or not, is indignation.  As if by politely refusing candy, they are passing judgement on the eating habits of the rest of the world.  Lizi once stood in a buffet line, and asked the server if she knew the ingredients of a certain item.  When she found out the reason, the woman sharply answered "It's not possible to eat all natural all the time!  Everything has artificial ingredients in it!"  I admire my girls for their grace in dealing with such comments; but it is incomprehensible to me that they have had to develop such a skill!  Do you ever wish that grownups would just act like grownups?

Now more than ever, there are children all around us with various dietary allergies and sensitivities.  They don't need your pity, and they certainly don't need your wrath.  So how should you answer a child who can't eat what you would like to give them?  Just say "Oh, I see."  And smile.  Maybe give them a pat on the back and compliment their responsibility.  Or give them a quarter instead of that piece of candy.  Or why hand out candy at all?  Maybe stickers or little toys?  It's not good for ANY of us to make the "candy holidays" all about candy anyway, right?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

the perils of pretty food

I am very fortunate in that my girls love raw fruits and vegetables with no sugar or sauces whatsoever.  So it's a normal occurrence that I peel a carrot to go along with Lydia's lunch.  But on this day, I noticed the pretty ruffly lettuce for our salads - it looked like a fancy dress to me...  I grabbed some toothpicks from the drawer and a bit of broccoli for hair, and voila - a "Veggie Lady!"

Lydia was delighted.  Photos and video had to be taken of Veggie Lady.  Then I said "Okay, now you can eat it!"  "NOOO!  I can't eat Veggie Lady!!!"  Never mind that she's made of healthy, delicious food that Lydia normally loves - now she's too PRETTY to eat.

sigh - should have learned my lesson when they wouldn't eat the heart-shaped sandwiches...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

new socks and birthday gifts

Just popping in to show you a couple of projects.  The first is a birthday gift for one of Lydia's friends.  She asked for a "unicorn pillowcase"; I embroidered a white pillowcase with her name, a unicorn and a rainbow.  I also made her this throw pillow.  She loves hearts and rainbow colors, so the heart print fabric and rainbow trim were perfect.  Seems she really liked it!  The embroidery design may be found here.

And now I get to make an identical set for Lydia.  ;)

I've also started a new pair of socks.  When dear Maya started dyeing commercially spun yarn, she sent one of her first skeins to me.  Since then I've puzzled over just the right project for such a special gift.  I finally settled on this sock pattern.  It is "Sock Hop" by Patsy Leatherbury, published in Creative Knitting magazine July 2006.  It was the first sock pattern I tried to knit, and I loved those socks.  Then we moved into our new house, and for some reason the floors ate holes in all our socks for a while.  Including my very first hand-knit socks, sadly.  I guess maybe it took a while to remove all the fine grit lingering on the floors from the construction?  Who knows.  But there were my beloved socks, with gaping holes in the soles.

I've wanted to knit another pair by this pattern for some time, and it finally occurred to me to use the yarn that Maya sent!  It's from her "Muscadine Sock" line.  This is the "Inked" colorway, one of her first.  I love the color, but also the yarn itself.  I am surprised at how stretchy it has turned out to be; but it springs back into shape, too.  Perfect for socks.  And I'll make sure the floors don't eat them this time.  :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

alive and well

Just reporting in - you may know that some of the tornadoes on Wednesday passed near our home.  Far too close for comfort.  But our house is okay, just some twigs and leaves all over the yard and chairs blown around.  Some of our church members and friends have damage and injuries, but nothing too major.  The only real imposition to us personally is that "our" Hobby Lobby and Big Lots were destroyed, and we will have to drive to another until they are rebuilt.

Our hearts go out to the people who have lost family and friends and property.  At this point, I can't even wrap my brain around the level of devastation.  I keep looking at these photos and videos, and in some cases the destruction is such that it's hard to identify what it even used to be.  I guess I will have to see it in person to believe that places I see all the time will never look the same again.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

the reason for the season

Wishing a blessed and happy Easter to my blog friends.

Monday, April 4, 2011


It would appear that my lamp is developing a case of the Zoobles.  Anybody know if there's a pesticide or something for that?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Papyri shawl

Recently I had the opportunity to join my first Knit-a-Long.  Our purpose was to knit the Papyri Shawl (ravelry link).  In the beginning, I feared that I would not be able to keep up the pace of the other knitters.  But as it turned out, I kept up just fine, and I am very pleased with the result!

It is knit in SpringtreeRoad's Muscadine Sock yarn, which is a new favorite of mine.  It is soft, but also durable and easy to knit.  Project bags for the knit-a-long are from Madbird.  It's perfectly sized for most of my projects, so I foresee using it a lot.

Best of all, it's done, and in time for Easter!

Monday, February 21, 2011

water jar cozy

We've recently stopped buying bottled water, and bought a pitcher to filter our water instead.  I have reusable bottles for water, but honestly?  When I'm just hanging around the house, I prefer a pint jar.  The water seems to taste cleaner out of the glass, to me.

Then we were at Starbucks the other day, and I saw a glass water bottle sheathed in some sort of plastic or silicone, to be less breakable.  So I thought, why can I not make a cover for my humble canning jar, so it can go places with me?  And the idea for a water jar cozy was born.

So I'm putting the (very simple) pattern here in case anyone else would like to make one.  You will need about an ounce of worsted weight cotton yarn, a size F crochet hook, and a hair elastic.
Gauge is 15 stitches / 8 rows to 4 inches, in double crochet.

Abbreviations in this pattern:
sl st = slip stitch
ch = chain
sc = single crochet
dc = double crochet

Round 1:  Sl st into hair elastic, ch 3, then dc 35 into hair elastic.  Sl st into top of ch-3.  You should have 36 stitches if you count the ch-3 as a dc.  (This is the top of your cozy.)  Do not turn your work at the ends of the rounds.

Rounds 2-8 - Ch 3, dc in each dc, sl st into top of ch-3.  Again, you should have 36 stitches counting the ch-3.

Round 9:  Now we begin decreases for the bottom.  Ch 3, dc 1, dc 2 tog;  *dc 2, dc 2 tog* to end of round.  Sl st into top of ch-3.  (26 stitches, counting ch-3.)

Round 10:  Ch 3, dc 2 tog; *dc 1, dc 2 tog* to end of round.  Sl st into top of ch-3.  (18 stitches, counting ch-3.)

Round 11:  Ch 3, dc 2 tog; *dc 3 tog* to end of round.  Sl st into top of ch-3.  ( 7 stitches, counting ch-3)  Fasten off.  Use yarn tail to sew up the hole as you weave it in.  Weave in top tail also.

I like a handle on my water container.  If you would like one as shown, make a chain about 2" longer than you want your handle to be.  (Mine is about 15".)  Now you're going to sc on both sides of your foundation chain:  Sc in the back loop of the second ch from hook, and in back loop of each remaining ch.  Sc 5 in end ch.  Turn and sc in the remaining loops of your foundation chain.  Sc 4 in the end loop, and sl st into first sc.  Fasten off.  Stitch the ends very securely to sides of your cozy - if you made your yarn tails long enough, you can just use those for the sewing.
I like this one so much, I think I'm going to make several of them.  I think next I'll make one in a solid color, with an applique of some sort.

If you make one of these, then you are a pattern tester.  :)  Let me know if you find any mistakes, or if you think of a way to make this clearer.

Edited 2-22-11 to clarify abbreviations.

Update:  here's the second, in ecru, with a leaf applique.  The leaf pattern is from Crochet with Raymond, and can be found here.  Here's the ravelry link, if you prefer.

One commenter asked for a photo of the bottom, to help understand the instructions.  Here you go!
(And by the way, these are the same two jar cozies - I'm still using them, almost 4 years later!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

just a bit of fun

As you know, I'm not making anything new to sell right now.  But I had a few Pi Guys on hand, so I thought, why not list them?  After all, Pi Day is coming up March 14!  (3/14, get it?)

So if you'd like to see them, click here!  Sold out - thank you!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

finally finished!

Remember these socks?  It's taken a while because I had to take a break for Christmas gift making, but they are finally done!  They are soft and squishy and wonderful.  I love them from their ribbed cuff down to their little star toes.

Not sure why that one stripe on the left toe came out so wide - ah, the mysteries of self-striping yarn.

The pattern is Embossed Leaves Socks by Mona Schmidt, from the Favorite Socks book.
The yarn is Serenity Sock Weight by Premier Yarns, in the Amethyst colorway.

Check out those puddled jeans - too bad I don't know anybody who does alterations, huh?

Monday, January 10, 2011


 I love you, but I'm not going down there to make photos for you.  All photos today will be from the porch.

While our friends and neighbors a little north of us were getting lots and lots of lovely snow, we got this:  ice pellets, with a little frozen rain and snow mixed in.  I said it looks like a big slippery sheet of uh-oh, to me.  Including my driveway.
 But the ice on the trees is sort of pretty, though this photo doesn't do it justice.  And I'm just happy we have power, and heat, and water.  We feared that we would not, given the weather forecast.  So I shall stay inside and enjoy them all today.

Monday, January 3, 2011

new student

We are back to homeschool today, after our vacation for the holidays.  We were fortunate to have a new student in class today - Milli from Team UmiZoomi!  The napkin holder made a nice desk.  She already has mighty math powers, but apparently she needs to brush up on her alphabet.

The snack she brought, though, was a can of "boo-boo cream" from Lydia's animal hospital play set - perhaps I should share some of my snack instead?  ;)

Update:  I am so flattered by the requests I have received to make sets of Team UmiZoomi dolls.  Even though it breaks my heart, I turn down these requests due to copyright issues, CPSIA red tape, and lack of time.  My purpose in writing these posts was to gather information, so that we parents could try and fill the gap Nickelodeon has left for us.  I continually refer people to the first and second posts in this series for sewing and crochet pattern ideas.  Hope that helps!