Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yarn Along

One of my friends, Rachel, has been blogging these glorious photos of her knitting work in stages and I asked her if I could join her in her weekly post. Apparently it's not just her, but a whole group of classy gals-with Ginny as their ring leader.

I'm not much of a knitter-(i can make a washcloth and a scarf, that's about it-think *square things*) but I have been crocheting quite a bit lately. Basically, any time I have to put my swollen feet up, I'm either illustrating, carving rubber stamps for my shop or crocheting.

I started this adorable little sweater last weekend. 
I'm fairly new at following patterns. My mom taught me a ton of stitches, and I've been crocheting for years, but I didn't know the names for any of the stitches, their abbreviations, or how to read a pattern.

Although it seemed to go smoothly for the most part, I ended up making it a little larger-which started out by accident (wrong gauge really..doh!) but then decided to continue it and make it for my 3 year old niece, who will fit it quite nicely.

I still have to do the sleeves and find the perfect buttons for it.
My nieces paternal great grandmother just passed away (Granny was one awesome woman!) and I'm told that she left a huge button stash-so I'm hoping to find some buttons from that collection for her.

Oh, and by the way, this sweet dresser is going to be our change table-It's the perfect height! All I have to do is add a cushion to the top.
(There are drawers, they're just already moved up to the baby room- I haven't moved the actual dresser yet.)

I'm debating at painting vs. refinishing. *neither of which will happen before the baby, I'm sure.*
I'm normally all for keeping old furniture in it's original state unless it's already been painted. But my sister told me that this would look neat with just the drawers painted, or everything painted BUT the top....

Any opinions? Either way, it's adorable!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Highlight of my Day

I was present for their birth, when my sister had her twins 2 weeks ago today, at 28 weeks gestation. (We were due about a month apart.)
 I didn't get to actually meet them though until today!

And although they're really tiny....

they're doing really well! Off of c-pap machines and I.Vs, they're now down to just a feeding tube and a heart rate monitor. I'm so proud of this little family. They've made it through a lot in the last two weeks!

So happy to meet you, Toby and Edith!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Nesting List

For the record, I'm not a fan of the term "nesting". It annoys me, and I'm not sure why. (Maybe it's because I get a mental image of some poor over-due woman dragging twigs around with her mouth?)
But this is what the craziness of preparation that seems to take over a pregnant woman's brain is commonly known as, so I'll go with it.

Last night as I laid awake in bed listening to our massive thunder storm (regardless of weather, laying awake has become a regular occurrence, seeing as there are no longer any positions where I can actually sleep comfortably) it dawned on me that I've got roughly 6 weeks until this baby is due.

6 weeks.

whoa. I'm not ready...not even close.
Ready to hold that sweet little bundle, and kiss pudgy little cheeks, fingers and toes? (and sleep on my back again?) Absolutely.
But the house? No where near ready.

We've been playing musical furniture for about 4 months now. It started with emptying the baby (formerly storage) room and finding a home for all it's citizens, be it somewhere here in the house, or off to a thrift store. What hasn't found a home yet is still sitting in my living room and dining room.

The contents of my sewing room (aka dining room table) are now sitting on the floor in my office.

See where this is going? And I haven't even started on the boys' room, the messy state that it's in, and the horrible lavender walls that we've yet to paint.
Speaking of paint...that baby room is still beige.

I decided I needed to make a list (again) and knock things off that don't absolutely have to be done.
My list was a little braver a few months ago, and I did get quite a bit of it done...but something's gotta give.

Here's what I've scratched.

One month of completed, frozen meals. I'll settle on a week's worth.
Painting the living room and dining room. They're a lovely shade of beige as well, but they'll wait.
Floor cloth for the baby's room. She won't even appreciate it yet anyway.
Recovering my living room rocking chair. It's ugly, but we'll live.


Ripped up carpeting in the boys' room. It's lovely, cornflower blue days are long gone.
Emptied baby room. This task deserves more than one "check" off the list. This took a LOT of time!
Found a solution for my spice jar woes. That's another post, for another day. It's done though!
Made and Canned Corn Relish. yummy!
Re-organized and switched closets. I'm now using the baby room closet as my own...since the one in our bedroom is itsy bitsy.
Set up baby room

Crochet baby booties, hats etc. Ok, this wasn't absolutely necessary...and I haven't set time aside for this. But I've used my times where I needed to put my feet up to do this. Or when I've been out visiting family etc, I've just taken my crochet with me. There's still more I'd like to do, but we'll see how the rest of this goes.

Still needs done

Make a diaper bag. I know this shouldn't sound like a "need"...but honestly, the cost of diaper bags are outrageous-even the shiny vinyl variety. And even more outrageous if it's not plastered with gag-me-cutesy teddy bears and precious moments characters. If I can find one that I won't be embarrassed to carry, and for a reasonable price, I'll settle. That's yet to happen though.

Tomatoes need canned. I'm not going to make salsa, or even spaghetti sauce...i just want canned tomatoes. Nothing tastes better in the middle of the winter than leftover summer tomaters!

Crib bedding. This isn't quite as adventurous as it sounds. I'm not going to go all out and make bumper pads and little cute but useless pillows. I do have some beautiful old chenille blankets though that have rips and holes in spots, so I plan on cutting them down to crib size, and hemming them.

Paint-boys room and baby room, and the dresser in the baby room.

Ballet slipper pink for baby room. (It's actually a LOT lighter than it's shown in the swatch...) This  dresser is a good example of what the colour actually looks like.

Reorganize the boys' room. I swear I've done this many times...but the room keeps ending up in a "I didn't know where it went, so I left it on the floor" state.

Carpeting needs ripped up in baby room. It's the same *lovely* cornflower blue, but luckily has beautiful hard wood underneath.

Recover rocking chair in baby room. Haven't even picked the fabric yet.

Make some meals to freeze. Once I figure out what those are, I'll post them.

Baby room curtains. I don't know if I'm going to make or buy these...either way, we need some.

Decorate the baby's room. This is one fun thing I'm looking forward to. I've never really gotten to do I've never really had a "baby" room.

Bins in the basement...reorganize? since we found out that we're having a girl, I've been going through all our boy clothes, getting rid of some and passing them on to my sisters. I still have bins of clothes though that were in the baby room, that are now in the basement, and stacked like the leaning tower of Pisa. I'm afraid that they might kill someone.

Restore living room and dining room to their actual purpose. And by that, I mean the living room as a living room, and the dining room as a dining room/sewing room. Right now they're acting as storage units for our overflow from our game of musical furniture.

Last, but not least...somehow find the time to make this. I found this adorable blanket tutorial the other day and have literally been dreaming about it since. And since I already have fabric in my stash (or as Mark calls it, my "fabric creep") it won't cost a cent. How can I NOT make this?

I'm sure a few more things will make their way onto the list soon and that some of this might not happen...but for now I'm trying to remain optimistic about it and get through one step at a time!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lemony Poppy Seed Loaf

Ok, who are we kidding? We call it loaf, but it's really cake. Fluffy, sweet, lemony goodness.

I made this last weekend-I was craving something sweet and tangy and wanted to make something to have on hand for when family was over.

My picky little 3 year old niece was the only one who wasn't a fan. She said "I can't like them little dirt balls" (poppy seeds) and wouldn't even try it. Oh well, more for us!

I couldn't find a recipe that I was really thrilled with...I wanted something that was worth my time.
(I'm getting really stingy with time, seeing as I have swollen ankles, and time until baby is rather limited.)

So I played around with an older recipe I had that was only so-so, and actually took the time to write down what I put in it, just in case it turned out. I can't count the times that I've made something really yummy, but then forgotten what the ingredients were, let alone what the measurements were!

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf (cake)
makes 2 loaves or one large bundt, Set oven to 325. Bake for approx 50 minutes. Butter and flour your pans beforehand and set aside.

1.5 cups sugar
4 tbsp grated lemon
1.5 cups butter (use the real deal.)
6 eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp pure vanilla
3 cups flour
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking soda
3/4 cups sour cream

Icing: Lemon juice, Icing sugar, lemon zest.

Start by juicing and grating your lemon (s). I had a really big one, so I only needed one. You really could get by with bottled lemon juice and skip the zest...but it might not be quite as yummy.

Stir the zest into the sugar really well. This starts to release the lemon's oil into the sugar.
(I know, this sounds goofy. I heard it on a cooking show though once, so I figure that they know what they're talking about...or not. Just play along.)

Begin to cream the eggs and butter. It helps if your butter is already softened.
One thing that I have noticed though is the difference between regular grocery store chicken mill eggs and organic/free range eggs.
 If you want your cake to turn out really yellow, naturally, use organic or free range. The yolks are so much more bright and sunny compared to those poor ol' chicken mill eggs. Those sad chickens never see the light of day!
We're lucky to be able to buy free range really reasonably from a nearby Amish farm. 

Slowly add the lemon juice. If your butter wasn't soft already, it should break up a little easier now.

Pour the mixture you have so far into a mixer if you have one. You can do this entirely by hand if you don't, or you can use a hand mixer.
Squirt in a little vanilla, just for kicks.
Start to beat it up, you don't want the butter to be completely dissolved though. Try to get it to the consistency of small curd cottage cheese. Then Add the sour cream.

While that's mixing at a low setting, add your poppy seeds to your flour and stir them together. Also Add the salt, baking soda and baking powder.
Once it's thoroughly mixed, add it very slowly to the wet mixture, stirring constantly.
Once it's all added in, try to stir/mix it quickly to get it fluffed up a bit.

Pour into your two buttered/floured loaf pans (or one bundt.)  And then pop them in the oven for about 50 (agonizing) minutes at 325. Check the middle with a knife to see if it's cooked through.
Pull them out and let them cool about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack or cutting board. While they're cooling is a perfect time to make your icing.

When it comes to icing I don't really measure. I just pour the icing sugar into a bowl and slowly add squirts of lemon juice, bits at a time, stirring, until I get the consistency I want.
This icing is supposed to be drizzly, runny type, so use a little more lemon juice than you normally would. You can also throw in some lemon zest if you like.
Drizzle the icing over the loaf however you like. I let the boys do ours, so we got a really fun little pattern.
Let it sit until the icing hardens up, and then slice.
 (or don't, and just eat it while it's all sticky. Your call.)
Hide the other loaf from your husband and children so that you'll actually be able to get your very own slice when they aren't looking.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Hello Friends! As you may have read over at my previous blog/website, I've decided to build a new home for my blog, and keep my business site separate. If you like, you can read more here how I came to this decision.

I'm looking forward to sharing a lot more and being able to post more freely, on both sites, without the hesitation that I've been feeling.
Thanks for joining me!