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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Making and Reading

We have been digging deep these past couple weeks as E and I work on our parenting and family goals together and while it is all going to be so beneficial, emotions have been high and I have been a bit exhausted from it all and busy trying to do that digging, but I did finally get around to sewing up a couple projects that I had the pieces cut out for a few weeks now.

Moon Pants for O. I remember this fabric coming in the mail while she was riding on my hip last year, still living at the old house and it feels good to finally have the time to make something for her with it. The pattern starts at size three so they are still a bit too big, but better big than small I say as she will surely continue to grow. 


Her second pair of Moon Pants.  One of the first things I made for her was with this fabric (a winter baby bonnet) so now it feels like it's hers and so when I saw I had enough left to squeeze out a pair of these in the smallest size I knew I must. I really like cutting out and assembling two or more things at a time to streamline things a bit as it is so much more efficient.


With The Girls
Us three girls made pb pinecone bird feeders this past week and they had a lot of messy fun with them. We haven't seen any birds actually come to them but all but three have disappeared completely, so we are thinking there are some other happy critters of some sort that have enjoyed them. Iz is pleased with that.


 And this because it makes my heart swell. Iz wanted to make one of her cousin's cards by herself and it's just the best seeing her add her own touch to our gift giving.


About mid-week last week we made our first batch of slime and it has provided hours of play. The recipe we used was glue, a bit of liquid starch and food coloring and I added a smidge of water too. All four of us are enjoying this really. This creation was what I think Iz was calling her rabbit duck. 

Food
We have been great about making a menu again to keep us on track and this week we made a different butternut squash soup than usual and it will be our new go-to. The recipe is Creamy Cashew Butternut Squash Soup from The New York Times. We didn't have fresh ginger so left it out but otherwise followed the recipe and definitely recommend it. And if you eat wheat our favorite quick and easy bread is the No Fuss Focaccia from the King Arthur Flour website. 

Reading
I Just finished A Man Called Ove last night. I don't often read novels these days but had seen this one recommended many times so I went ahead and requested it from the library. I did enjoy it and right now I'm not too into explaining the whys most of the time as I am more caught up in the enjoying part of things but I so enjoyed having a good novel to get caught up in to balance out all of my typical non-fiction and memoirs.


That wraps it up, but today E took both girls out with him while I was left at home alone, well, aside from two dogs and a cat - we are never too alone around here, so I took that time to finish cutting out pieces for O's birthday dress and for a sun dress for her as well to coordinate with a yellow honey hive one I made for Iz last Summer. Making their clothes has always been something I hoped to do and I am glad to be setting aside more time to make that happen now that O is getting older. It makes me happy to look in their closet and see all of their dresses hanging up and knit sweaters piled high and to open up dresser drawers to find their pants and skirts looking back at me. Then there's the cozy hats keeping them warm as we go about in the cold. Their blankets on their beds. Really, so many things and goodness knows we all have our own visions of the mother we want to be, but I am just happy to be fulfilling mine in this one way at least and to be keeping my creative fire alive. 

I know once warmer temperatures come around my focus will shift a bit as we are able to spend more time outside and bedtimes move back so we can all enjoy the sunshine, so for now I plan to continue to keep ticking off my mental list of projects and working through my stash while these colder temperatures keep us company.

What have you been making or reading lately? 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Embrace


I have had a draft saved with this title, "embrace" for a couple of weeks, thinking I had found my word of the year, but the more I sat on it the more I realized it's just not right and that maybe for this year there is no single word or at least not one I have stumbled on just yet.  Embracing is definitely an everyday practice as I breathe deep through finding a millipede in the art room closet or find that little Leroy slipped off his dog diaper and peed on something again. I embrace the daily messes that are too abundant to track and I embrace that there is so much unknown in our world and in the greater world, but the word just still doesn't sum up my intentions for the year. 

This year we plan to continue settling into our house and our yard by painting and hanging art and sealing up the back room really well before building out the closets, making one into a pantry and kitchen storage of sorts since our kitchen space is tiny and making the other a more functional arts/crafts cupboard. We have garden beds to build and beds to plan and a garage to make functional for E to work in. We have a nearly two year old to continue to wait out sleeping through the night without a mid-night nursing or two. Simple speaking, we have hopes and plans aplenty and in these first couple years of living here there are going to be lots of changes and projects so while I do continue to plan to embrace life-as-is on a daily basis, to embrace our family of four, to embrace the necessity of patience, there are far too many changes in my mind to feel totally committed to such a thought.

So, while I don't have a single word for the year I do have hopes and I do have lots of love for having the opportunity to continue to change and grow as the year goes on. Meanwhile, I am embracing the hours of daylight already growing longer and am looking forward to more of that warm green grass beneath my feet when Spring comes back around and we get to experience our first Spring in our new yard. These cold days of lots of indoor time with our tiny outdoors loving people are a bit tricky and we all look forward to the warmer days that can't be too far off, but meanwhile I realize we have so much to be thankful for and am really grateful for a bit more time to order some seeds and to save back enough for supplies to get the big garden built before it's planting time. 

What about you? Do you pick a word for the year?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Making and Reading

I am finally feeling settled into this new year and back on my feet and really just trying to keep the momentum going long enough to create a new normal here in our home and to keep working toward being my best self and all...you know the drill. 

So on to the making since I was last here:

This is a hat for myself. I had been searching for patterns for myself for a long time, but could never settle on any or was disappointed by the outcomes when I would finally decide to give one a try, but once I was introduced to Okanagan Knit Co. I was hooked and I have loved all three of the hats I have made (two for myself and one for E). This latest one is called The Ponderosa hat and fills my desire for a second hat in a more neutral color. Bonus is that it is really fun to knit. I loved seeing the design take shape.


So, Iz had a dress that this is part of that I had found at a thrift store years ago. After she outgrew it I had tucked it away in my fabric bins, planning to use the cute corduroy critter fabric for some kind of future project, but one day she was looking through the bins and gasped and said how she had missed that dress and followed up by insisting she needed to wear it every day, but that when she was finished I could have it back to make her a skirt out of. So, here it is. Today she learned about seam rippers by helping me remove a black sewn on waste tie and then it was just cutting the top off, making an elastic casing and sewing it shut while E gave them baths and then watching her smile when she took it from my hands. I love that these simple things can bring her so much pleasure.


Another Iz request this week was roasted chickpeas for snack time and I thought they were worth sharing because they're quite a tasty snack. We make them from time to time, usually when Iz asks, and I appreciate that they have a good amount of protein, fiber and iron in them and that she will gobble them up. From trying lots of things we have settled on preheating the oven to 450F and rinsing two cans of beans (could use freshly made too of course). We then pat them kind of dry on a dish towel and pick out any loose skins before tossing the three cups of beans with 2tbsp olive oil. Then, you can season them however you like. This time Iz sprinkled on salt, garlic powder and nutritional yeast and they were really good. I usually set the timer for 20 minutes and then give them a stir and then back in for another 20 or so. At least with this oven. In our old one I would leave them in forever, so obviously that's all dependent on your stove. Just give them a good first stretch and then keep an eye on them every 5-10 minutes.


And reading! First let me say that I am so happy to be finding more time to read again and second let me say that I loved this book, The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison. In this memoir she speaks of her time raising teenagers and moving to a new home and the entire journey and emotions surrounding it all and even though my children are both four and under I still found myself tearing up on the regular because I already know how much that will ache and how our journey as mothers will only continue to require us to grow, which is actually quite the gift, yet a challenging one. I found this book both honest and relatable which are both things I crave in a memoir.


This book, Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach is not one I have completed because it has a passage for each day of the year, but I am already really enjoying the daily reflection and I have found it to be the perfect fit for a daily read for me so far. It even got me back to the daily practice of writing my five gratitudes again and that alone is a gift. When Iz was about five months old I found myself drowning in anxiety and had to really fight to get myself back above water and one of the many things I did was to start a gratitude journal. It was life changing and really helped me to focus on all of the good that was surrounding me even in what I would consider pretty tough times for our family. Love filled and beautiful but challenging in many ways, but gratitude really can move mountains and I found myself getting to such a positive place that I credit in helping our family get to a better place overall. Days were still hard but nothing could truly defeat my positive attitude or my belief that it would all work out as it should if we kept looking at the bright side and focusing on what we did have. Anyway, this book goes well right alongside all of that and though I'm only half a month in I would really recommend it.  

That is all for now, but there is no doubt I will be back soon with more to share as I have a full list of projects I would like to complete and a big stack of library books that I am making my way through. Let me know if you have been making, reading, cooking anything lately that you feel is worth sharing. I would love to see/hear/read about it. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Christmas This Year and Thoughts on Those to Come

My sister's girls up top and Iz(orange) and O(blue) on the bottom made one day when they came to play.

Christmas Living Room
Iz testing out her first Piggy Paint by the fire Christmas morning

My sweet Two Potters pitcher as my gift from E and the girls and our traditional Christmas cinnamon rolls.

A little time in the woods at our nearest park on our foggy Christmas afternoon.





























Recently I read through many old posts here to clean things up a bit before taking time to write in this space again and while I was doing so I found myself smiling, tearing up and generally reminiscent. As this was all happening around the holidays I found one post surrounding Iz's first Christmas to be very relevant as I talked about how our holidays needed to change and would have to eventually. We always knew we didn't want to run about or to spend hours of our holiday in the car - especially with one or the other of our daughters crying the entire hour which is stressful for us all and really unfair to them - but we kept trying and going with it and hoping things would change and trying to get up the courage to do what was best for us.

As the years went on we kept feeling the pull and this year Iz specifically asked if we could stay home in our pjs all day on Christmas and with that we decided it was time to make the change. So, we did and it was just what we had wished for. We saw E's parents the morning of Christmas Eve and saw my family that evening before coming home to get the girls to bed, mix up cinnamon roll dough and fill stockings, without worry of packing up bags and pjs and preparing food for the following day.

We spent the morning opening a few gifts, enjoying the warmth of our fireplace, eating our rolls, painting toes, reading new books and just generally enjoying each other. We were also gifted with a rather warm-for-December day so after O's nap Iz agreed to get out of pjs for a bit so we traveled less than a mile to the other side of our neighborhood and played there for a couple of hours before coming home for homemade pizza, dip and fruit in the living room while watching The Snowy Day and just being together. Slow and simple. Just the way we needed it. Just the way we had desired for so long. Every year may look a little different as we find our way to some new normals but this feels right for us and it feels fair and respectful to our girls and since we know that is what is most important, we will embrace it with big happy smiles and wide open arms. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Making and Reading

A few months ago I gave up on the idea of trying to figure out what was wrong with my sewing machine and wasting hours of E and I's time each time I sewed anything. We looked into having mine looked at but that alone would be one hundred dollars. While we would still like to do that eventually or to sell it to someone else to repair, we made the choice to spend thirty dollars more and get a basic model Janome and it was a great decision. Sewing is fun for me again and now leaves me feeling satisfied rather than in tears and it's a lucky thing seeing how I plan on making all of those birthday gifts this year. This week I got started for the two birthday girls of the week.

A bee hive skirt and shirt set for a six year old I love. I always love this fabric from 1canoe2 and have quite a bit more to use - never a bad thing!

A bird skirt and shirt set for a sweet soon-to-be two year old. I bought this fabric without a project a long time ago and couldn't decide what to do with it, but I really like it for this and think I'll make one of the other sets for later in the year in this same fabric.  

These were fun to make and something simple enough for gifting. With seven nieces and nephews, our own girls and four friends-that-are-like-family kids we have a lot of little ones to celebrate throughout the year, so sweet but relatively simple projects are best and I think most of the girls are going to be getting these sets this year. 

Right now I've committed to not buying any additional fabric or yarn until I work through my stash and I actually really like having those parameters to work in as I get started on this years making. I am not suffering in the least by having those parameters at this point anyway as there is plenty that has accumulated.

Also, I found this information from crafterhours to be very helpful when not being able to measure the girls I was sewing for: http://www.crafterhoursblog.com/2012/05/note-on-sewing-skirts-for-girls.html

Now on to what I have been reading. Now that O is sleeping in the girls room E moved a lamp into our room and I am able to read myself to sleep again, which has also led to me choosing to pick up a book at other times as well. Lucky for me six of my holds came in at once from the library so it's keeping me motivated to make time for reading as I will have to get them back there before too long.

I just finished and returned this one, "Balanced and Barefoot" by Angela J. Hanscom. Books like this are good for me to read at this time of year. As a naturally very cold natured person it is hard for me to get out with the girls when the temperature drops, so while I have read much of this information in other places before, the reminders of how critical that unstructured outdoor play is something I needed and appreciated. 

I also just finished "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress" by Rhoda Janzen and for me it was just okay. Most any memoir will keep my interest enough for a start to finish read and I did enjoy it enough to finish, but I didn't find myself craving it. 

Now I am off to work on my knitting for the evening before curling up under the covers with another book, one I am really enjoying, but more on that later. 

What are reading and making lately? Any good patterns or titles to share? 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Making

I will always be grateful for motherhood and how it has realigned me with my creative side and allowed me to flourish there while giving myself permission to just dive in and create and see what comes out on the other side. The year I was pregnant with O I challenged myself to a year of 52 projects and through that year I far surpassed that number while I found my way to such a great place, a place where I could look back and see progress in my skills and confidence and see all of the things I created that I was able to decorate our home with, dress my girls with, gift to others and so on.

The feeling that year gave me, one of satisfaction and love and being connected with a part of me that had been buried for so long has shaped me into a new person in some ways and that is a person I am happy to be, one I was waiting to sync up with for a long time. I'm still intimidated by certain patterns or plans or thoughts or whatever, but the difference between now and pre-ultra-creative-year is that I don't let those things stop me. I allow myself to grow and to mess up and to let things be what they are. I'm often ripping out sewing to fix a mistake or unknitting stitches to purl them instead, but I keep going and that feels really satisfying in a way that I really needed and continue to need. 

This past year there were far less projects made while I cared for two young children and we spent our time painting trim and fixing things and cleaning out the house to sell and then the moving and so on, but here are the things I have photos of that I have created since last April or so. I'll look forward to sharing more as I go now that I am back in this space. 



Moon Pants for Iz

More Moon Pants for Iz




 A Winter Baby Bonnet for a sweet friend who turned one in August - the first item I sewed in our new home.


A Sally Dress in cute Honey Hive fabric for a niece that was turning four and had sadly outgrown an old bee dress she loved. I made Iz a sundress in the same fabric right before moving but can't find a photo. We'll definitely be seeing more of this fabric though because I bought yardage of it in two colorways once when 1Canoe2 was having a fabric sale and it's washed and waiting.


A new Winter Baby Bonnet for O as she had outgrown her previous one and I lover her in this fabric.


A Flax Sweater (but with accidental different sleeves and a less stretchy bind off than I would have liked - especially in cotton - but I learned for the next one and Iz loves this one - was wearing it today actually.


 Iz's fourth birthday dress for our first celebration in our new home. I started a tradition of making her a birthday dress each year starting on her second birthday and look forward to continuing to do so and starting the same for O this February - fabric is ready and waiting! This dress is probably my favorite that I have made.


Something for me! A Gellatly Hat in pretty hand dyed yarn by Ginny Sheller. I rarely make myself anything (going to change that) but I was really wanting a hat that I love and I have finally found it. This is a really fun pattern with a pretty outcome.


 A package of sweet baby things (tiny In Threes, Rabbit Ear Teether, Winter Baby Bonnet and Reversible Booties) gifted to a dear friend as we anticipated the arrival of her little girl. She's here now and going on two months and absolutely wonderful.


 A Flax Sweater for O


 The Knox hat for my E. Love this pattern too...and this guy. This pattern as well as the Gellatly are by Okanagan Knit Co. and are both winners and I also just printed the newly released Ponderosa hat pattern as well (planning to make one in the color above for me and one in more of the Ginny Sheller green I have to gift).


 Car Seat Poncho for O


 Car Seat Poncho for Iz in the sock monkeys she picked out - I got supplies for these after a group text with friends got me all excited and eager to make one too and they are fun and simple to make but now that they are made I think we could have done without them as we have thin fleeces they can safely wear in the car, but they think they are fun and I think they might be nice in early Spring or in the Fall when we are just walking down the street or going on a quick run out of the house.


 Iz's Christmas Sweater and Hat (Wyatt Sweater and Luuk Hat with added pom pom)


 O's Christmas Sweater and Hat (Wyatt Sweater and Luuk Hat with added pom pom)


A Luuk Hat with added pom pom for a gift for a nephew whose third birthday we will be celebrating this weekend.


Whew! There they are and with that I am off to get started on the many projects I have in mind for this year. So far on the short list are moon pants, hats, skirt and shirt sets (for gifts), sweaters , a blanket and well...the list goes on. O started wanting to read and cuddle to sleep with Iz and E recently rather than me nursing her down and with that I feel the time to create coming back around and I am pretty excited about that opportunity. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Looking Forward to the Year Ahead

A Foggy Christmas Adventure at a Nearby Park


This new year is starting out a bit rocky as we caught a cold a few days ago that we have not been able to shake just yet, but I do always love looking ahead once we move on to a new year. This past year has been such a big one for us as our dreams to move closer to friends finally came true and we hustled like crazy to make it all happen and drained ourselves on so many levels at the same time, but every last bit of it was worth it and all necessary for us to get to where we are. At the same time, we are really glad it is all over with and that we can focus on building our lives together in this new space and watching some of those dreams more fully unfold.

We have many things we would like to accomplish in the new year, one of the biggest ones being to establish our new gardens and to fill our yard with as many plants and as much life as we can. This will certainly evolve over the years that we are here, but for this first year we are going to dive in just as much as we can and get our big garden in place and hopefully a few smaller beds too, while sneaking in a few flowers or berry bushes here and there when we are able. 

We also have plans for a big sand pit for the girls and a three bin compost system and maybe some kind of high play house to allow for a taller slide and most definitely an apple tree for a particular corner and plenty of dwarf fruit tress in the future if we have to lose our large Ash tree and of course so many other dreams and plans - we are never short on those.

While all of those dreams are so important we are also just glad to be together without any strict timelines or deadlines for our projects. We can now head off for a hike without stressing about how the house will be ready to sell on time or if the fence will be finished before the ground hardens or the permit runs out. We can just enjoy simple everyday stuff together that we really weren't able to so much in the past year. The last few have been pretty transitional with saying goodbye to my dog of nearly ten years, a new baby, E leaving a job and starting a new one, buying a house and selling a house. We knocked out quite a few big life changes in just a few little years and now we are looking forward to a good ol' ordinary year of making this house into the home we have hoped for so long to have.  

There's still plenty of settling in to be done, but with each step in that direction things feel more functional and more comfortable and it is only going to get better from here if we continue doing what it takes to bring all of our dreams to life as we approach this new year together.

Here's to abundant gardens, a Spring-Fall full of camping trips, plenty of hikes all year long, organizing and figuring out our new space, sewing all the time, lots of writing, and if I play my cards right...20-30 jars of pesto in the freezer by the end of next fall. 

Happy New Year Everyone!