Wednesday, February 25, 2009

:: Pillow ::

Little Miss Maddie is totally my buddy. Her mom is one one of my dearest friends, and Maddie stole my heart the moment I met her, over eleven years ago.

She's a 'young lady' now, and her mom recently gave her room a tween-update. She painted the walls an apple green, and brightened the trim with fresh white. Her bedding is fresh black background with big white polka dots. It's so sweet!

She came over a week ago and picked out a design from Doodle-Stitching. She picked the 'mod napkin' project, which is a graphic set of circles in aqua and red. We switched it up to green and black, and I worked on the embroidering this last weekend. I made a pillow cover out of a cozy black and white flannel, and pieced the embroidered panel to the front.

I think it turned out adorable. I left it on her porch this afternoon. I used to love to do that when I was little. Did you ever do that on May Day? My mom used to help me make little cones out of paper, and I would pick flowers from the field behind our house (or, more scandalously, from neighbors' yards) and I'd hang them on door knobs in our neighborhood. Then I'd run away. So fun! It's like sanctioned doorbell ditch.

Wouldn't it be a blast to make some of these and use them to continue such a sweet tradition? I think I'll do that with my boys.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I've been making a lot this week. My friend has two kids, and they both had birthdays last week. Her son turned 2 and her daughter turned 5. There was a big party where Scotty made the birthday girl cry by licking her cake. Sorry.

Anyway, I made little Devan a cape and it was so dang cute. You'll have to trust me because I have a bad habit of sending things off to their new homes without taking pictures. I used the cape pattern in Stitched in Time and it was fantastically easy and fast to do. I think it took about 30 minutes, start to finish. I couldn't drive to the store and back in that amount of time!

I used a beautiful dark aqua of Kona cotton fabric. Instead of a monogram, I used iron-on fabric paper and I found an image online of Speed McQueen (his favorite!) which I printed onto the fabric from my color inkjet printer. Unless there's some sort of copyright infringement issue with that, in which case, I have no idea what you're talking about. Also printed onto the iron-on fabric, in bold red letters, was "Super D", which I just did using my word processor. Cut it all out, ironed it all on. Two rows of thick red rick-rack (sp?) and a white flannel lining later and BAM! Cape is made.
For Cassidy, I made her this adorable little tote. (Photo credit and pattern both Melissa Majewski) Instead of a flower, I made a hot pink heart from this pattern and sewed it right on there. I lined it with a sweet fabric that had a white background and dark pink mod fowers and stars.

How beautiful is this picture??? (Photo credit and pattern from Creativeyarn)

I made it with a light pink cotton for the 'chains' and a white cotton flower with a dark pink button in the center.

I tucked the necklace into the tote with a stuffed bear and bunny (free pattern from here). It's really easy, unless you're me, in which case you will spend 80% of the 2 hours it takes you to make them yelling at knots in your embroidery thread. Another 10% of the 2 hours will find you trying to thread the needle. Everything else is cake.

Monday, February 23, 2009

:: Eggs ::

I know I write a lot about Scotty's love of cooking. All I have to do is open a cupboard or turn on the oven/stove in the kitchen, and he's Johnny-on-the-spot, dragging over a chair and expressing his strong desire to contribute ("I do! I do it! Move!!").

Saturday morning "we" made pancakes. I've been making the pancake mix from scratch**. I'm pretty sure I've always used a fork to mix everything together, but for some reason on Saturday we used an electric hand mixer. Scotty was smitten.

He went and played in his playroom for awhile, and then came out to inform me that there was "a big mess in the kitchen". Oh, ah, yes son! Cooking is a big job ~ un bien gran trabajo, no? ~ and whoo-eeee, it sure does get messy!

Some time later I headed down the hall and found this.

Huh. That's....peculiar. Little wart! He had gotten my pancake mix out of the pantry and was pretending to make breakfast. How sweet!

And then I stepped into the playroom and found this.

Can't see it very well?

Here's a close up of the dozen eggs he had cracked open.

And here we see his 'batter'. Part of me is all, Hey, look! He used mix! And eggs! Just like we did this morning!

And of course part me is all, Hey, look, salmonella poisoning.

Oh, but don't worry! I cleaned it all up and hosed everything down.

Is it just me, or does he have a future with this?

** I used to use Krusteaz or Bisquick or whatever for pancake batter, but making pancakes and waffles from scratch is so cheap and easy that I always make them from scratch now. Recipes are readily available, but we settled in on this one and we love it:

These are the dry ingredients. I usually quadruple the amounts, mix it together really really really well (I stir it with a fork), and keep it in a jar in the pantry.

2 c flour
2 Tblsp sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

When I'm ready to cook, I scoop out 2 cups of the mix and add the following:

2 eggs
2 cups milk
4 tablespoon vegetable oil

I have a griddle on my stove top (it's part of my kick-ass stove) and it'll cook 4 huge pancakes at a time. 2 c of mix plus wet ingredients makes about 12 huge, but thin, pancakes. I love the consistency of this recipe. It comes out a bit 'runny', which makes the cakes so easy to cook and so beautiful to look at. I am incapable of making a wee flapjack, but I think silver-dollar pancakes would be adorable and this batter would be perfect.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

: : Blanket : :

Here is the blanket I just finished. I can't believe I remembered to take a picture, at the very last minute, before I put it in the box to pass it on to the new owner, my dear friend Monica.

This is a close up of the detailing. Each of the squares is about 7x7 inches, and was made in the round with front post double crochets to make the pinwheel effect. (Ohhhh! Technical!! If you're really interested, the pattern can be found in the first quarter 2008 Crochet Today magazine as the 'Sunny Spread'.)

As 8 of the squares are completed, you have to sew them together with a whipstitch, then those long strips are sewn together. See them over there? Those two are the ones I had to run through the washer after Erik dumped a bowl of oatmeal on them. It turned out okay, really, but I just have to shake my head and laugh. This thing has been toted, stored, cursed, and reworked for over a year. In the final 12 hours it gets destroyed? Come on!

See all those strings hanging off the bottom strip? Each square has two (sometimes I could work them in as I went along, other times not so much). Then, each pair of squares has two, as they are stitched together. (sometimes I could work them in as I went along, other times not so much). Then, each strip of 8 has two, they are stitched together. (sometimes I could...well, you know!) 64 squares x 2 + 32 squares x 2 plus 8 strips x 2...what, something like 188 tiny bits of yarn that needed to be threaded through a needle and worked into the stitching? Give me a break!

Also notable in this picture: Scotty's GIANT Speed Racer car, and his play boulders for his front loader, and the legos on the back of the couch, all of which are constant reminders of my 'little helpers'.

There are a couple of things that are interesting about this project for me....

1) I had to remake about 15 squares after a while. The problem, was that I had set the project down, and when I picked it back up, I must have used a different size of hook, because following the exact same pattern, some squares ended up so much bigger! It aggravates me, but I have to admit, if you plan to make things, you've got to be willing to remake them. I don't always do it, but when you're making clothing or an intricate pattern, you're better off trying to be a perfectionist. Other things? Eh, not so much. You can hide some sins.

2) I had just enough of the yarn to make all the squares. I have a small ball left, but not enough to do the edging. This was a 'no dye lot' yarn, so I thought that meant I could go get the same brand and color of yarn and just keep going. Friends, I wll tell you now, that is not true. I will also tell you that there are close to eleventy million shades of white, none of which matched my white. Erik says it's 'oatmeal' because it matched his spill pretty well, but I have 8 skeins of cream, off-white, snow, oatmeal, and jump rope, to name but a few, and I can tell you that NONE OF THEM IS RIGHT.

You can see in the picture that the edging is quite a bit lighter than the blanket itself. It took me a while to come to grips with this situation, but in the end, I had to just put my hands up on the situation. I think it's okay?

3) This is one of the few things I've made that Erik really likes. He wanted it. I can't tell you how unusual that is! He says you can really tell it was some work, and he liked the size a lot. It's funny, because it was a lot of work. It's one of the reasons I was so happy to give it to Monica. She makes things too, and if anyone can appreciate what went into this thing, it's her.

When you give things you make, you have to let it go. The recipient may be quite touched by your gesture, but when it takes a year to make a blanket, it's hard for somebody to really muster the inappropriately enthusiastic reaction that is warranted by the situation. How could the average friend or family member really know what it means to spend hours and months perfecting the execution? And then who, besides Monica, could really understand what it means that I couldn't exactly match the white edging? And who, besides Monica, knows what it means to spend entire crafting sessions (oh, those precious few stolen moments, often with at least one kid on my lap) doing nothing but threading a needle and working in yarn ends?

Believe me, it's right where it's supposed to be. I hope she likes it!

Friday, February 13, 2009

90% of the Time

Scotty: I want PeeMee.
Me: What?
Scotty: I want PeeMee!
Me: Huh?
Scotty: PeeMee!
Me: Pimi?
Scotty: Yes! PeeMee! I want PeeMee Wer-wer!!
Me: Pimi Wormer?
Scotty: Yes!! Please! PeeMee Wer-wer!!
Me: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Tommy: He wants to watch PeeWee Herman.
Me: Oh.
Scotty: PeeMee Wer-Wer lost his red bike.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Looming Disaster

This is my cousin and his wife. They are adorable. They drove up this weekend from Salinas to go to the Giants FanFest (fun!) and to help me learn all about....

This! This is the Big Surprise, the big impetous behind the Great Purge and Reorg of Aught Nine, the lovingly crafted Christmas present from my mom and dad. Kelly and Moose (see cousins, above) came up in December all stealth-like, and helped my parents turn a box of sticks, purchased off of Craig's List from some hippie in the Santa Cruz mountains, into this beautiful piece of practical art. And I love it. I love that they figured out how to put it together. I love that my dad then took it apart and spend every night for two weeks in his workshop, sanding it and staining it until it is barely recognizable from it's original form. He replaced all the pullies and levers. My favorite? A welded wrench as a crank. He might as well have spray painted "Dad" on the thing! A signature piece, indeed.

Does it look complicated? Don't worry. It is. Seriously! I learned so much from Kelly, who has multiple looms and even spins wool into yarn, and now I know not just how to work it, but also how it works. Truly a gift.

And here's my very first project! A sampler, where I'm just learning how to use the foot pedals to drop the shafts in creative ways to make different patterns in the weaving. It's changed a lot since I took this picture....did I mention the addictive quality of weaving? Oh my. This is the most basic pattern, using two pedals attached to four alternating counterbalanced shafts, and it's called "plain weave". I spent most of the weekend learning. I learned about things like "heddles" and "shuttles" and "warps" and "wefts". I learned how to read a pattern. I learned that I have a lot to learn! And I learned that if you sit at a loom? For like, four hours? It's going to take you a minute to unkink your back. Ouch.

Oh, I needed another fiber hobby like a hole in the head! But here we are, and I couldn't be happier. Prepare to be inundated with placemats, as, apparently, it's the beginning project of choice.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dirt Don't Hurt

My cousins came over this weekend, and it was pretty amusing to watch our lives through the calm eyes of two educated adults who don't have kids. We are even more loud, and more ridiculous, than I ever imagined.

One of the things that I was laughing about was how, when we are home, and we are always home, our kids are 'free-range kids'. Aside from trying to minimize the LOUD and the WRESTLING, we kind of let things...slide. I don't mind cleaning up a mess, so it was funny to watch my cousins and my friend panic when they caught Scotty with a chair at the refrigerator, methodically filling two or three cups with water from the 'water thing in the door'. No worries! I'd rather sop up a few spills than have a kid who couldn't get water if he was thirsty... or just curious about how much water it might take to fill three pint mason jars.

Monster-sized scissors, that Scotty was using to cut bits of string that I held taut while we all chatted? No worries! He has to learn some time.

But I guess the funniest thing was this thing that I always thought Erik was....weird about. Sometimes, when it's cold and windy outside, I let Scotty play on the kitchen floor with his trucks and

It's the most natural thing in the world to me. Little boys like trucks. My little boy, specifically, is obsessed with tractors. And on a rainy, windy, cold day, playing at mommy's feet in the kitchen, the heart of our home, seems like the only logical choice.

I also happen to think it's the most natural thing in the world to bring in some dirt for him to play with. Tractors! Trucks! Rain! Why wouldn't he want some dirt to play with? And the fact that it's on the kitchen floor? No worries! I sweep. I mop.


Anyway, I always thought Erik was overreacting when he got heated about this. Dirt? In the kitchen? It turns out he might be right. My cousins thought this was a little odd too. But because they aren't willing to judge me, it came across as more amused than anything. Am I that wacky? I never thought so. I was raised to believe that 'dirt don't hurt'.

I stand by that. But I also concede that I may be weird.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Open Letter

Dear Homeowners,

Please do future generations a solid. You know that place, in your yard, where you think it would look great with some ivy growing up the side of the fence/arbor/hill/tree/bird cage? Wherever that is, in your yard, let me assure you that anything that looks good with ivy climbing on it looks a lot better without ivy growing up it. The person who buys your house in 30 years will thank you. That person's chiropractor and therapist will thank you. The beautiful bushes that will look fantastic in that spot will thank you, as they will not be being throttled by the most invasive, annoying, and dirty plant known to mankind.

That is all.

Monday, February 2, 2009

February ....Already????

Oh January, I hardly knew you.

I spent most of the weekend outside, in the unseasonably warm weather. Climate change, ahoy! It seems that everybody is either experiencing unnecessarily ruthless barrages of sleet and snow, or uncharacteristically spring-like weather. That would be us. 70 degrees F has been the norm this week.

My poor tulips and hyacinths are beside themselves...bloom? Should I bloom now? How about now? Now? Not yet? Poor babies.

I spent most of the time pruning back, cleaning up, and putting away Christmas decorations. Ahem. But I also planted a few sprigs of ground cover and a mock orange in the front, which I think will be lovely on the hill off the deck. I moved furniture and weeded and hauled dirt and then I went into the backyard and did it all again. It's hard work, but I needed to soak up some Vitamin D (to improve my mood) and I needed to get it done (to improve my neighborhood) so I'm grateful for the inspiring weather. Now rain, please!

I think it was two Fridays ago that I went to a "crochitting" party with some teacher friends. I love these ladies! There are about a dozen or so, and everybody brings a knitting or crocheting project (hence: crochitting as the combination of the two) and we sit around and talk and laugh and work away! There are experts there in every possible combination of craft and fiber, so good advice abounds to get you over the hump of a particularly thorny problem.

Miss Susan opens her home and her enormous dining room table (seats about 20!) and she makes us breakfast for dinner ~ pancakes and eggs and scones and bacon and could you die? I brought about 5 projects, but ended up working on the one that I've had the hardest time motivating myself to finish (a beautiful but stubborn blanket I've been piecing together for almost a year!) because everything is easy when you're in good company.

By the time I got out my camera we were well past the witching hour when most people had the good sense to go home. By the time I took these three pictures, each of our husbands had called at least once to make sure we were still alive. Good times.