Thursday, December 31, 2009

A year in photos

Thanks to Jessica for this year in review idea!

*Here's my 2009*


Ice Storm (during which K and I got engaged)


Visited my favorite corner in Maysville, KY


I crocheted an intermediate level project, the Chanson en Crochet


Crochet block blanket was underway 


I started this blog


We wed!


Camping paraphernalia on our Black Mountain honeymoon


Plum Kuchen made on the day of the flood


Vegetables from our garden and CSA subscription


The most decadent cake ever


Gingerbread cookies: popular with grandmothers and coffee drinkers the world over


Nature makes the best color combinations

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lacy Totes and Wrist Warmers

[More handmade presents revealed]

Lacy totes in khaki and charcoal with thrifted lace.

I made the khaki one for my mom (she gave me yards of vintage khaki fabric, so it seemed fitting to give her something  made from it) and the charcoal one is my sister's.

They are similar to the tote I made for myself awhile back, but these are bigger and sturdier than my first one. I used a medium-weight interfacing and did the straps differently. I'm learning a bit more with each item I sew, though sometimes I wish I could just learn it all in one fell swoop and be an instant proficient seamstress.

I am happy with the way these totes came out and hope my mom and sister will put them to good use. Julie's leaving in a few short weeks for a semester abroad in London, so perhaps my tote will visit some historic sites.

Woolen wrist warmers for K, which he claims make him feel alternately like a homeless person, an arctic boxer, and Spiderman (if only I had made them in red and blue). My husband has quite the imagination, he does.

I'm just glad he's got something to keep his hands warm while he click-clacks away on the computer. K gets up early in the morning (much earlier than me!) and studies Japanese before work. We learned enough Japanese to get around when we lived in Japan, but there is so much more to learn! He's using a computer program to study Kanji and grammar on his own.* I'm continually impressed by his self-motivation and determination to learn despite the difficulty of Japanese and having to squeeze in study time before and after work. Our house is freezing in the mornings when he gets up to study. So, I hope these wrist warmers will make his study time a little bit easier.

* * * * *

*My hope is that he may one day be able to translate all of those tattoos of Chinese characters that people get, so that we can laugh and laugh at people who unknowingly have silly things inked onto their skin for life. However, I think his own goals might be loftier than that.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Library Scarf

[I'm continuing the series of  "presents revealed" posts. Hold on to your seats...there's still more to come after this.]

This is the scarf I made for my mom for Christmas. I started it early in the semester, either in August or September, and just crocheted a bit on it during my study breaks. It was slow-going, but oh-so-relaxing to spend my downtime crocheting. The Library Scarf takes its name from the place were I made it, but you can find the original pattern listed as the Claudia Scarf on Ravelry.

Scarf in progress, posing with notebooks, tea, and class reading.

Finished scarf hanging out on the sunny coat rack with my tote.

Sunlight through stitches. I love the dots and dashes of sunlight that come through the lacy crochet.

Scalloped ends

Cozying up with books

Monday, December 28, 2009

Blue Doily Pillow

Hello! How are things going with you all? I'm trying to get back in the swing of things. I don't know about you, but after the holidays I just want to curl up and hibernate for a good long while. Instead, I've got a bit of work to do for school this week, some school books to buy, and lots of crafting to squeeze in before the semester starts again.

Another thing on my to-do list is to show you all of the secret presents I made for Christmas. So, let's start off with this blue doily pillow cover that I made for my mother-in-law. The fabric is a linen-cotton blend that's smooth and soft, and the doily is one we used to decorate the tables at our wedding. I knew my mother-in-law would enjoy having a keepsake from that special day.

It's the same style as the other doily pillow covers I've made--envelope-backed cover with a hand-sewn doily  adornment. I loved the time I got to spend on the couch, covered with quilts, watching bad (yet so hilarious) daytime TV, and hand-sewing this pillow cover.

Here's a photo of the hand-sewing process, taken while cuddled up on my couch.

What handmade gifts did you give or get this year?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

This handmade quilt belongs to my sister's roommate. I gushed over it when I was helping my sister move out of the dorm last week. The message is just perfect for today.

I'm wishing you lots of health and happiness!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Crochet All Day

These days I can't get enough crocheting in to satisfy my addiction--I could crochet all day if I had the time. I love working with thread and a hook and making delicate creations.

I finally got around to crocheting Margaret Oomen's Sunburst Cover from the September/October 2009 issue of Crochet Today. It's more time-consuming than the Radii and Shamrock Covers, but I think the end result is worth it. In fact, I liked the Sunburst so much that I made two!

I also got the chance to try out lots of tutorials from The Royal Sisters. From left to right, Grandma Tree, Grandma Twinkle, Grandma Heart, and Grandma All Round. I plan to adorn gifts with these lovely shapes, and then the gift recipient has a little ornament to hang on the tree next year. These crochet up fast, so if you need a really last minute gift addition, these work well.

I hope you're having a happy holiday!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Secret Caramel Corn

Shh...I'll let you in on a little secret. I made caramel corn this morning, and it's the best caramel corn I've ever tasted. It's salty and sweet, flavored with butter and vanilla, and each piece is enrobed in just the right amount of caramel. Mmm...

I know, I know, it's the season of giving. That's why I made caramel popcorn, to give as gifts.
 But then I tasted this caramel corn. And I tasted it again and again. I think we all see where this is going. The popcorn is rapidly disappearing, and it's not because I'm putting it in gift bags. So, please don't tell anyone that I made caramel corn for them. I didn't.

Check out the recipe here.

  My advice is to invite a few friends or family members over to help you make this caramel popcorn . Otherwise they might never get to try it.

First you need to pop 10 cups of popcorn. Each batch of popcorn starts with 3 kernels...when they pop you know the oil is ready.
I've never popped corn on the stovetop before, but I'm an instant convert. Why have I been hiding all the fun away in the microwave all of these years? A hot pan with a bit of oil, a smattering of kernels, and as much shaking as one girl can muster is pretty magical.

Just look what happens! I sprinkled the hot popcorn with a bit of salt and called it lunch. I love being the boss of myself! I think I'm really maturing.

After "lunch" I made caramel, mixed it with the popcorn, and then baked it in a warm oven for an hour. The result was two baking sheets full of deliciousness.

I don't know how many handfuls this made, but I think it's safe to say that this recipe serves approximately one hungry snacker (or more if you're willing to part with it).

You'll have to pry it out of my hands if you want some of mine.

Go on and make some of your own. Your mouth will be so happy you did!

* * *

I hope you're staying warm, healthy, and happy on this shortest day of the year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Under the tree

Under our skirtless (for now) Christmas tree is such a beautiful, simple nativity. My father-in-law, David, hand-carved and built this scene for us last year. David's got amazing woodworking skills, and I'm so lucky to get to benefit from them. Thanks, David!

Here's a close-up of the baby Jesus. He's so cute and little--only about the size of my thumb.

There was some talk that David might carve a new figure each year to add to the scene, but until then a couple of friends from around the house have volunteered to step in.

Global harmony and cute to boot!

Also under the tree are some presents, wrapped and ready for Christmas morning. I am loving the doilies lately, and brown paper packages tied up with string never go out of style.

Is there anything under your tree yet?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Handmade Kitchen Goodness

Last week a little bit of luck came my way. Don't you just love it when that happens?
I won a Liesl Made giveaway over on the blog Making the World Cuter.

A couple of days ago this set of handmade potholders and bag holder arrived in my mailbox. They're so pretty and pristine. It's going to be hard to bring myself to actually use them, but I will! It's good that I won these because I recently realized the potholders we use every day are actually my landlord's, and since we're moving out in spring, potholders of our own are a must.

If you haven't visited Liesl's blog or shop, you should skip over there right now. She's talented and creative and sews amazing things. She even hand-quilts whole quilts!

I've got one of her make-up bags, and I absolutely love it. I keep all of my essentials in it so that when I'm changing purses (actually I mean totebags, I hardly ever use purses), I just transfer the make-up bag. Convenient and oh-so-pretty!

Thanks for the giveaway, Liesl!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grandparents' gifts

I've been crafting up a storm! This morning I finished up a present for my mom, which I'll share after Christmas, and I made a present for K's grandpa. We're visiting his grandparents this weekend, so I needed to get gifts for them pronto.

I think it's really hard to come up with handmade gifts for men. However, I remembered that my grandpa uses handkerchiefs, an old-fashioned (and eco-friendly) habit. So I figured some personalized handkerchiefs were in order for our grandfathers this year.

My original plan was to purchase handkerchiefs and then cross-stitch initials on them, but I forgot to get some at the store the other day. It turned out to be easier to make the handkerchiefs than to get back out to the store and buy them.

So I cut up an old pillowcase, hemmed the edges and sewed on a C for Charles. My grandpa will also get a C on his handkerchief, but his is for Conrad. (I love grandparents' names). I'll show you my grandpa's gift when I finish it.

I just had to show you the back because it's so much neater than the backs of my first cross-stitched pieces. I'm a little bit proud of my progress.

I hope our grandpas will use these! Actually, I'd like to start using handkerchiefs myself because it'd waste less paper and be softer on my nose, which is currently roughed up from too many tissues. I have a few vintage hankies, but they're just too pretty to use. Maybe I'll have to sew up a few from thrifted cloth.

Last night I crocheted up another stone, this time in pink. It was nice to spend some quiet time huddled near the heater.

Are you making any presents this year?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Around Town

I love seeing all of the festive decorations when I'm out and about this time of year. Yesterday I took a little jaunt to the library and thrift store (where I got lots of cool vintage Christmas cards). The weather was fairly warm, which meant my gloveless hands were free to take some photos.

A nearby bar puts up this larger-than-life Santa every year. I love it!

The same bar also had this cool ornament wreath decorating their door. So sparkly and lovely!

This simple jingle bell wreath makes me smile. I like how understated it looks on those big doors.

Back at my house, a Christmas card from a good friend. The Kermit the Frog postmark is a bonus!

And a Santa cookie for me. Yum!

Hope you are having a splendid week!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Good Morning, Sunshine!

Good morning, lovelies! I am so excited to be back in this little corner of the Internet, chatting away with you. I have missed you and writing on this blog so very much.

This morning has been so pleasant. I woke up feeling unencumbered, thinking of the blog writing and crafting I get to do today. I made my husband's favorite pancakes--chocolate chip--and cup of tea for breakfast. I feel like surrounding myself with good memories. The pancakes remind me of so many other breakfasts I've spent with K, the tea is Twinings' Four Red Fruits (sweet, fruity, and caffeinated) that I first started drinking when I lived in Amsterdam,* and the mug is from Hiroshima, a beautiful city that I visited last year with K and my uncle Joe.

These are some stones I crocheted over the weekend--Christmas presents for my grandmothers. I'm pretty sure it's safe to post about them here. Neither of my grandmas is a computer person, and I don't think either knows what a blog is.

I love making crocheted stones. Have you tried it yet? It's such a contemplative and meditative activity, which was just what I needed this weekend.

Today I'll be working on some Christmas presents and making some button necklaces for custom orders. I have a lot of crafting to do, and I can't wait to get started. Tomorrow I think I'll even turn on my sewing machine, which has been sorely neglected over the past couple of months. Yay!

I recently heard about people naming their sewing machines, which I guess makes sense considering people also name their cars. Does your sewing machine have a name? How about your car? Mine are currently nameless, but maybe it's time to give them a little more personality.

* * * * *

*I stayed with a family in Amsterdam and my teenage host sister, Riet, loved to have after-dinner tea parties with me. I loved drinking tea with her while we watched Sabrina the Teenage Witch. However, when I first arrived the only tea they had in the house was anise tea, and as much as I tried to like it (I really tried!) I just couldn't. So I picked up different kinds of tea for us to try at our tea parties and in all of the excitement over trying the new teas, the anise tea was forgotten.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Donnie Turner

* * *

My uncle passed away yesterday. He loved visiting New Orleans, watching the Kentucky Wildcats play, and spending time with his family. He will be greatly missed.

I'll be spending this weekend with my family.

* * *

Let's meet here next week for tea and much-needed smiles.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holly Berry Giveaway Winner

Oh my! I was just blown away by all the comments I received on the last post. Thank you so very much to everyone who stopped by! Your sweet comments really bolstered my spirits. I'm so glad I played along with Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day because it introduced me to many wonderful new people and some lovely blogs. I can't wait until I have some more time visit them.

I had all intentions of drawing a number out of a hat to pick the winner. The old-fashioned charm of fishing around amongst slips of papers really appealed to me, but I didn't realize I'd have so many comments. In an effort to save myself some time (hey, I've got 3 papers due this week!) I let the computer pick a random number for me.

And the winner is...

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-12-07 03:17:54 UTC

Congrats to the 12th commenter, Beth! Beth, I'll be in touch to get your mailing address and the Holly Berry Button Necklace will soon be winging its way to you.

Thanks again to everyone for entering. This certainly won't be my last giveaway.

I hope you'll come back and visit with me again!

* * * * *

[my apologies if posts are light or non-existent this week. did i mention it's finals week? oh i did, did i? wish me luck!]

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holly Berry Button Necklace

Win this necklace!

Happy Giveaway Day! If you're new here, welcome to Field Wonderful, a blog full of lovely snippets from my life. I hope you'll pour yourself a drink and visit for a while.

As part of Sew, Mama, Sew's Giveaway Day, I'm giving away the Holly Berry Button Necklace. It's made from a variety of vintage red buttons that remind me of the brilliant color of winter berries. I especially love this necklace paired with vintage lace because it looks like berries gleaming in the snow.

This necklace is perfect for gabbing the night away at festive get-togethers, staying snug and stylish at home, or brightening up your daily errands.

Would you like to make the Holly Berry Button Necklace yours?

Just leave a comment on this post and be sure to leave your name and email address! This contest is open to anyone who wants to enter (I'll ship internationally). The giveaway closes at 10 PM (EST) on Sunday, December 6, 2009. I'll put all of the names in a drawing and pick one at random. Good luck to you!

Be sure to check out Sew, Mama, Sew for a listing of all the other bloggers participating in Giveaway Day!


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