Friday, January 29, 2010

Eye Pillows

I still haven't cut into my Anna Maria Horner fabrics. It's so hard to make that first cut! Thank you for the quilting suggestions and tips you left for me. I appreciate your help and encouragement so much! I picked up Bend the Rules Sewing and Denyse Schmidt Quilts from the library to help me along on my quilting adventure.

I've been itching to use my sewing machine again and figured that I should try a little patchwork project before starting on my throw. Also, taking yoga classes has made me more aware of my body and has brought my attention to the need to relax--like really relax, pull my shoulders down from my ears, keep my hands still, and close my eyes. A lavender-scented eye pillow seemed like a good project to kill two birds with one stone.

I gathered some fabric scraps and got to work with the rotary cutter and mat that I got for Christmas. I just kind of improvised as I went along and used what I had in the house. I stitched, filled them with split peas and lavender, and now I've got two new eye pillows. I'm hoping to get one of them in the mail soon for a friend celebrating her birthday in a couple of days.

 Now that I've hauled out all my fabric scraps, I think I'll be making some more of these. They're fast and fun to make. And I feel a little less nervous about starting on that throw. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Colorful Kerchief Scarf

Sometimes I just get lost on Ravelry, scrolling through patterns and gazing longingly at all the things other people make. During a recent Ravelry excursion I came across the Roxy-inspired scarf and fell in love. I fell for the funkiness of a scarf made from a shawl pattern and the fun picot edging.  I also already had the perfect yarn for this project, a multicolored sock yarn that I picked up at the flea market for $1.

So, with the stars aligned, I crocheted this Colorful Kerchief Scarf. It's triangular and ties at the back of the neck. It's also plenty warm and cozy. The granny square design makes it feel a little bit like wearing my favorite blanket, which is perfect for these cold days when I'd rather stay in bed.

What gets you out of bed on winter mornings? Warm scarves, cups of tea, and the promise of yoga class are helping me to peel back the comforter and flannel sheets these days.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Signs of the Weekend

K took me on a little birthday day trip to Bardstown, Kentucky (home of My Old Kentucky Home) this weekend. We drove less than 40 miles outside of the city, but it felt worlds away.

We passed this intriguing flea market, though we didn't stop this time. I have a feeling this place is over-hyping itself just a tad, you think? Has anybody local been there? I'm curious about it.

We also passed several bourbon distilleries, including Jim Beam. Fun fact: My grandfather on my dad's side was related to Jim Beam. Another fun fact: My family favors Maker's Mark, and K really likes Wild Turkey. I was a bourbon drinker for about a year, but I'm retired from hard liquor now.

This is a dry cleaner's sign in Bardstown. It's kind of clever, kind of creepy.

Food highlights were fried dill pickle chips at the Old Talbott Tavern and ice cream from Banana Moon. The ice cream shop reminded me of the apartment from Big--it had high ceilings and contained all sorts of things kids daydream about having, like lots of monkeys, bicycles, life-size cardboard cutouts of Elvis, a giant plush Superman, and tons of ice cream.  The sundae was K's; I had the biggest chocolate malt the world has ever seen.

I hope your weekend was wonderful! Have a great last week of January!
(is it just me or is this year already flying by?)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bobble-edged Wrist Warmers

Oh me, oh my, I'm a bit behind in showing you all of the things I've been making. These are some wrist warmers I made for my friend Christine, the same Christine I made a new year's resolution to see this year. Christine pointed out that she isn't my long lost friend, just more of a far away and seldom seen one.

Anyway, while I've spent my time these last few months belly-aching about the cold in Kentucky, Christine has been dealing with winter in Minnesota. I thought I'd do what I could to keep her a bit warmer.

You may remember I've been on a bit of a wrist warmer kick as of late, so that's what I decided to make. I used the same yarn (Fishermen's wool) for these that I used to make K's wrist warmers and my Back to School hat.

The pattern is improvised--did you know that wrist warmers can be as simple as crocheting a rectangle?
I used half-double crochet, which is a fast stitch and dense enough to keep you warm. The bottom edging is just single crochet, and I used Attic24's bobble-shell edging for the top.

* * *

The current crochet project I'm working on is a red scarf for Craft Hope. The scarves will be sent to college students who have aged out of the foster care system. You've got until February 14th if you want to crochet or knit a scarf for this good cause. Thanks to Jodi at The Jolly Bee for giving me a heads up about this project!

I feel like the internet has been all abuzz with talk of the Craft Hope for Haiti etsy shop, but I thought I'd throw in another plug for it here. You can donate your handcrafted items to be sold or you can simply buy from the shop. All proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.

And lastly, if you're a knitter or crocheter, many people on ravelry are donating some profits from their pattern sales to help the Haiti relief efforts. Here's the link for knit patterns and here's for crochet patterns. I've got my eye on this sock pattern.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Birthday Week Continues

"There are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents, and only one for birthday presents, you know."
--Lewis Carroll

Today's your day, Mom, and I hope you've had a great one. Happy Birthday! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Julie and me

Today my little sister is leaving for London. She'll be studying abroad for a semester. She's excited and nervous, and I'm excited and nervous for her. There's so much for her to see and do, and oh yes, study.

It's her first big trip away from home all by herself. It's so strange because I know I studied abroad at the very same age she is now, and  I remember feeling so old, but when I look at Julie I can't help thinking she's so young!

Julie will have so many memorable times in the next few months--happy times, sad times, wonderous times. She will have some of the best times in her life. I can't wait to hear her stories and see her pictures (and have her back in my arms in May).  I hope this blog can be a place for her to check in when she's homesick in the middle of the night--a place where she can visit and feel a little bit of home.

* * *

I love you, Jules! Email often, call when you can, and come home safely. We'll be waiting for you.

* * *

Thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes! I had such a lovely day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The week of cake

Today I will:

*eat cake
*go to my first yoga class in years
*have dinner with my family
*crochet (of course!)

It's going to be a good day!

I hope you have a wonderful day, too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thank you note

Just before Christmas, luck was quite the lady and handed over some wonderful prizes to me. It's high time I thanked the individuals who made those giveaways possible. I love love love everything I won, so here's a big thank you!

Thank you to Michelle of Cicada Studio for this beautiful tea towel calendar, which looks like it just grew there on my wall. I've got quite the field of flowers flourishing there. You can check out Michelle's blog to see lots of pretty fabric and a recent tutorial for making a quilt in a day.

Through Indie Fixx's 12 Days of Indie Holiday Shopping, I won a gift card for Elisa Shere jewelry. Elisa's jewelry is simple and sophisticated, and I loved browsing through her shop. I picked out the beauties above and a pair of shiny silver drop-shaped earrings. I could wear these earrings every day! They look good with everything, especially all of those hats I've been crocheting. Thanks to Elisa for giving away her hand-crafted jewelry, and thanks to Jen for hosting the giveaway!

Marjorie, who writes a very dreamy blog and has a shop filled with her gorgeous creations, gave away these squirrelly cards that I was instantly smitten with. I think those squirrels are the cutest creatures I've ever seen. They go with my newfound interest in squirrels--my campus is home to lots of them and I love spending a few moments each day watching them romp around. Thank you so much, Marjorie! I've sent a couple of these to friends already and plan to keep one to frame for myself.

* * *
Update: I forgot that I wanted to thank Liesl for blogging about one of my button necklaces! Thank you so much, Liesl!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bobble Cap

I'm a bobble girl in a bobble world

Well hello again. How are you doing today?

Today this Bobble Cap is making me smile. I had a blast making it and absolutely love the result. The Bobble Cap adds just the right amount of spunk and whimsy to any ol' outfit. Plus, it feels so cool. It reminds me of how it felt when I'd wear sponge curlers to bed as a kid.

 I used Cascade 220 Wool, a skein of yarn I bought shortly after learning how to crochet. I came across the pattern for this hat not too long after that and knew the green wool is what I wanted to use. I was a bit unsure about making hats then--I really didn't know how joining rows worked--so I put off making this hat until recently. I'm actually glad I waited. Who knows what this hat would have looked like if I'd made it a year ago!

If you'd like to give this hat a whirl, you can find the pattern on ravelry and here. It's a great way to while away the hours on a cold winter night.

The Bobble Cap curled up with my coat and a simple scarf I made over a year ago, when I was just starting out with crochet. I like the colors and textures in this photo and how cozy my winter woolens look together.

What's something that made you smile today?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Small things

Sometimes the world seems to hold too much sorrow for our hearts to comprehend. Where do we start when the bad things seem so very big? The only answer I can come up with is: start with the small things.

I am thinking of Haiti and also of so many other things the world throws at us. I read SouleMama's post today, and it dawned on me that putting one foot in front of the other is how things will get done.

There are many things you can do from where you are right now. Here are some ideas.

And all I can give you today is this poem about a tiny thing, which helps me to believe that my own actions aren't so small after all.

At night, quietly
A worm in the moonlight
Digs into a chestnut.

--Matsuo Basho

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fabric Swoon

For Christmas, K gave me some colorful fabrics from Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks collection. I'd had my eye on them for quite some time and may have sent him an email way back in August requesting this bundle.

Even though I knew all of this loveliness was in the house for months, I waited patiently until Christmas. This was a big step for me, as my usual style is to sniff out presents right away and talk the giver into handing over the goods early. I know, not very in the spirit of Christmas. I'm working on it, though.

But now, Christmas is over and I have these beautiful fabrics to play with! Oh, they make me smile every time I look at them. I think I'm going to make a throw in the style of SouleMama's. I'd like to try a quilted throw, but since I've never quilted anything, I'm a bit nervous about trying it with a fabric I'm so in love with.

Do any of you quilters out there have tips for someone new to quilting? Books or websites you'd recommend? I'd love the help!

Monday, January 11, 2010

This Weekend in Food and Drink

I recently unpacked the teapot I used most often in Japan, and since then I've been drinking green tea almost every day. I've grown to love the slightly bitter taste of green tea, and it feels like a special treat each time I use this teapot.

 K and I went to the Asian grocery store this weekend to stock up on sauces and things, and right by the register was a box of daifuku. I couldn't resist getting one, and now I wish I'd bought more! It tasted so sweet, so chewy, and so much like the daifuku I used to pick up at the convenience store in Japan.

If you live in Kentucky or southern  Indiana, then you are in for a real treat! You've got to try the Bluegrass Brewing Company's Nut Brown Ale, which you can find in liquor stores and some grocery stores in this area. It tastes rich and toasty and is perfect for drinking next to the fire on cold, snowy nights.

And you know, if you are nestled by the fire and drinking a brown beer, you might find this is the perfect setting for story-telling. Might I recommend reading aloud from a famous old book?

Then Evangeline lighted the brazen lamp on the table,
Filled, till it overflowed, the pewter tankard with home-brewed
Nut-brown ale, that was famed for its strength in the village of

--from Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

I read this poem for the first time last fall, and I found that it really lends itself to being read aloud. I was pleasantly surprised by the suspense of the story and the captivating imagery.

On Saturday, we needed something to accompany our dinner of leftover pasta and salad. Lucky for us, I stumbled across this quick and easy breadstick recipe. You can prepare the breadsticks in the time it takes for the oven to pre-heat. This is a picture of me brushing the dough with butter sans brush. Buttery fingertips work just as well!

We also made these whole wheat waffles and ate them with homemade lemon curd. They weren't as light as our regular waffles, but still were pretty good.

And though I didn't get any good pictures of it, we made a Mug of Cake, which I think is one of the funniest-sounding desserts around. It only takes 5 minutes to make, including 3 minutes in the microwave. Plus, I was pretty impressed that my microwave can make a cake! It wasn't the best cake I've ever had, but it was pretty good for a quick chocolate fix and the entertainment value. I think this would be a great treat to make with kids.

* * *

What are you eating these days? We're turning to comfort foods like soup and warm breads to get us through these cold winter nights. I'd love to hear what you've been cooking!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snowy Day

Tonight I am tired. The snow and bone-chilling cold are taking their toll, and I want nothing more than to curl up with a mug of hot chocolate and a book. Actually I don't know if I even have the energy for that.  A snooze under mounds of quilts might be just the thing for me.

The photo above shows the best part of my day. I spent the morning reading in the library, alternating between stuff for class and Farm City by Novella Carpenter. I've been on the waiting list at the public library for Farm City for months, but yesterday I saw it sitting on a shelf in the university library. I scooped it up and, oh my, it's such an enthralling memoir about urban farming. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for this kind of book--for some reason I just love reading about food and farming. But, Novella Carpenter writes about her experiences squat-gardening in Oakland in such a captivating way that I'd recommend this book even to people who aren't enamored with food writing. I have a feeling I'll be sneak-reading this book lots in the next few days.

I'm also working on another crocheted hat--one with bobbles! It looks so strange and pretty. I've accidentally gone slightly off pattern, but instead of starting over, I keep thinking I can just fudge my way through. Crochet is a fairly forgiving craft, so we'll see if I can fake my way.

This was the view from my crafting/reading perch today. Doesn't everything look so lovely? White, crisp, and cold...

Here's the same statue up close, taken in the blue of twilight.* It's a beautiful piece of art, but I seriously wanted to give this lady a sweater today. I did see a man, a real live person, walking around campus in a t-shirt and shorts. makes me cold just thinking about it.

I hope you are staying warm and keeping your spirits up during this cold snap.**

* * * * *

*For some reason, thinking of the blue twilight tonight reminded me of a short story I once read. In it, Angela Carter described this dark light as the "crepuscular gloaming." It's a beautiful, rich description that has stuck with me ever since.

**More word nerdiness--I like saying cold snap because it brings back a rush of winter memories from childhood--the cold snap of icicles as my mittened hands broke them from low eaves and the crunch of snow beneath my boots. Very satisfying sounds.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Back to School Hat

Making good on my "crochet more hats" resolution, here's my first finished crochet project of 2010. I completed it just in time to wear on my first day back to school. New classes and new faces always make me a bit nervous, but I think having this new comfy hat will make me feel more at ease.

This hat is really fantastic--it has a good shape and a cool raised design. The pattern is fairly easy, though I made some careless mistakes at first and found myself pulling out many rows. You can find the pattern on ravelry or here if you'd like to try it out for yourself. The original pattern calls for making a brim, but I decided not to make a brim for this one because the other hat I wear on a regular basis is brimmed. I wanted something a little different.

A note for crocheters: This hat was my first attempt at fpdc. I've seen patterns that included fpdc before and was really intimidated by it, but it's actually so easy! It's basically just crocheting on top of a previous stitch. So if you've never tried fpdc before, I'd recommend giving it a go. This hat has simple lines, but you can use fpdc to make cables and other interesting designs.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


The holiday continues! I thought classes started back today, but they actually start tomorrow, so I have one more day of vacation. What a happy mistake!

I wanted to show you the additions my father-in-law made for our nativity set. We got a camel and a donkey for Christmas this year. I love them!

K promptly named them. This is Levon, named after the Elton John song.

And the donkey's name is LD, which K says stands for Larry David (we've been watching a lot of Curb Your Enthusiasm lately), but I maintain it stands for Little Donkey. Either way, LD is the cutest wooden donkey I've ever seen.

 Thanks for all of your hard work, David! We love our new pets.

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 to-do list

An old photo, but that determined look is what I'm going for.

Sew an item of clothing (skirt or dress!)
Create a tutorial
Design my own crochet pattern
Crochet more hats
Give knitting another go
Make a quilt

Make homemade baguettes
Make mayonnaise
Eat more local foods
Switch to local milk
Try cooking Indian and Thai food at home

Walk more, ride less
Incorporate yoga into my daily routine to become more flexible. I'm starting to feel like an old lady.
Go hiking (I've never been to Red River Gorge and I'd love to go hiking there in 2010)

Get together more with friends
Keep in touch with people--write, email, or call
See my long-lost friend Christine

Light more candles
Pick more flowers
Watch less TV

* * * * *

There's a lot I want to accomplish in 2010. I might add on to this list periodically throughout the year.

What do you want to do in 2010?


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