Friday, February 26, 2010

Ruffle Cardigan Tee

Back in the summer I saw this brilliant idea that made me hysterically happy. Unfortunately, I had packed away all of my long-sleeved tees in the attic and there were none to find in stores in July. But I squirreled away the idea in my brain.

I found some long-sleeved tees at Target for $5-6, regular price in the late fall. Regular price. Not even on sale. So I snagged a few. One became the flower shirt and others were incorporated into my winter wardrobe for layering. I set aside some black ones to make the cardigan. I bought a size larger than my normal size so it wouldn't be too snug to wear a shirt under it comfortably.

And while I love her cardigan as is, I decided to spruce mine up with some ruffles (which go all around the collar as well). They are hard to see because of the color.

And a vintage button closure.

I made this back in December and wore it to my town council meeting and either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. One of those days. I can't remember which it was.

*Did you notice that I used both attic and squirrel in this post?? No squirrel incidents to report, but I may have turned a deaf ear to it. I don't want to hear any more noises than necessary while Joe is away.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

We Have New Towels!

So we have new bath towels. This might not sound like such big news, but in our house it is. A few years ago Joe and I re-did our upstairs bathroom. There were still finishing touches that needed to be added. (And most still do ...) But the towels. Oh. The towels. We were still using the old towels. The ones we got either for our bridal shower or our wedding. Nearly 15 years ago. I know. It was bad.

The problem was that it was hard to find towels that I thought would look good in the bathroom. The paint color isn't really a common color and I was afraid of mismatching colors. And the cost of new towels stopped me dead in my tracks a few times. Really? That much for new towels?? And I need how many??

So it was the color and the cost of new towels that has prevented me for three years from buying new ones. But I did it. I bit the bullet and bought new towels last week. *

The color is actually "green moss" and not necessarily matching, but it's an improvement over the old towels. Anything is an improvement over the old towels. Any. thing.

So, to keep the boys' towels straight I appliqued their initial on the towel. It is handy for telling which towel belongs to whom and whose towel was left on the bathroom floor.

Yesterday afternoon I went upstairs to clean the bathroom and noticed this mess in the bathtub. I couldn't figure out what it was until I looked up ...

Freaking squirrels in the attic clawed through our ceiling! We put the drywall up over the original plaster/lath ceiling. They went through both layers.

I knew they were up there, but I felt sorry for them because of the four feet of snow we had. I can say that I feel sorry for them no more. Joe patched up the ceiling last night and we are in the process of eliminating the squirrels from the attic. I hope it goes quickly. Joe left this morning to go out of town and I can't fathom the idea of squirrels digging their way into our bathroom and bedrooms.

* The one good thing about getting four feet of snow in less than a week's time is that we went nowhere and spent no money. I had money leftover from our grocery and gas budget that I could afford new towels.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Knitting

I always love to learn new things. I'm at the point in my life now that I desire to learn skills. (I sure wish I knew how to give a real haircut!) I love to make soap. I love to sew. I can crochet (I may not love it, but I like and I can do it). I can tend chickens (and I do love that). I've gotten a bee in my bonnet that I want to get bees. (Joe is having a heart attack now because I have not mentioned this to him. And the fact that he is allergic to bees ...) And Spenser wants rabbits, so that's a possibility. And, well, knitting was always one of those things I wanted to do.

Now, I've attempted to knit several times over the years and got bored. I think my first attempt was when Jackson was a newborn, nine years ago. And then I got busy with our house renovations, Joe's army promotion, a move to a new state, and more babies. I think my second attempt was after Sawyer was born. And I easily got bored. I guess the third time is a charm because I'm not just knitting swatches and practicing stitches. I'm making stuff. Stuff that can be worn.

But with knitting comes lots of different needle sizes. And, ugh, at almost $9 a pair, it was getting to be a little pricey for me. (Although I always have used my 40%-50% coupons for Michaels and Jo-Ann.) Each project has its own needle requirements and if you don't get the right gauge, then you need to switch to different needles. And, well, that's another 20-minute trip to town and more money.

Before I decided to delve into the world of DPNs (double-point needles), I decided to check eBay. I am so very happy that I did because I scored 15 pairs of bamboo DPNs for just over $1 a pair. Woot!

So, what was the first thing I made with these DPNs? Well, Toast, of course. These armwarmers were the perfect project to get me started working with DPNs. And there's no thumb hole to contend with.

Sorry for the dumb pose, but have you ever noticed that there are a lot of funky poses when people are showing off these sorts of accessories? Just for fun I had to do it, too.

And the obligatory I'm-looking-out-the-window-pining-for-a-warm-sunny-day-with-my-mug photograph.

And, by the way ... the mug is empty.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Knit a Hat

A stripey hat!

This hat (that I gave to Joe for Valentines Day after Valentines Day) started off being a cowl. As I was knitting, I kept thinking that it looked more like a hat than a cowl. When I came close to finishing the cowl, I tried it on my head. And it fit. As a hat. I knew this was my chance to try the hat pattern that I had picked out for my first hat. (There's even a Youtube video on how to make it!) Lucky for me (it was really just luck, not skill), that the cowl circumference was identical to the hat circumference. And (because apparently I can't count), I had cast on 96 stitches for the cowl instead of 95, so I had my multiple of eight staring right at me in the face. It was destiny, I tell ya. It was meant to be a hat all along.

The hat ended up being a little long once I decreased enough to finish it. But, that's mostly because I was making a cowl and didn't want to frog this sucker any more than I already had up until that point.

I used dark brown and tan Patons Classic Wool. I was making random stripe widths, but once I established a little pattern, I decided to stick with it. I knit five rows dark, five rows light, nine rows dark, two rows light (repeat). I think I will have to use that stripe pattern again.

The leftover tan yarn has been used ... Tune in tomorrow to see what became of the tan.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Valentines - Parts 5 & 6

We had a lot of time together last week with the snow. They had off the entire week (plus this past Monday for Presidents Day and Tuesday "just because") and they've gone in two hours late all three days this week.

I kept my mind, though. It got most hairy this past Tuesday (their last full day at home) and Wednesday morning before school. Thank goodness I didn't have PMS or you would have seen Lera clawing her way through four feet of snow for peace of mind and a sanity check.

One of the last crafts we did last week was to make valentines chocolates. In our basement I had a bunch of chocolate molds from my wedding. (Almost 15 years ago!) And because "love is always in season," I never got rid of them. I knew exactly where they were and the kids had plenty to choose from.

There were many different hearts, cupids, and little boys and girls holding hearts (we didn't use the bride and groom or the wedding bells).

I had bought a package of white melting chocolate that already had sprinkles in them. The kids really liked that. I had a bag of pink melting chocolate in my cabinet, so I added nonpareils as needed. Each child got to pick his/her own mold to use and which chocolate and we made each tray individually. One tray per kid.

And then I decided we should decorate a bit. I found these fun, vintage valentines at the Swap Shop a few months ago. They will eventually go in Spenser's room.

I sprayed the frames white the day before the big snows. I used pink and white scrapbook paper for the background and found some heart-shaped doilies for a finishing touch.

The valentines themselves make me smile. These are the kind we used to give when I was a kid.

And garland made from red, paper doilies (half-price a few days before Valentines) strung on white satin ribbon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Valentines - Part 4

So, I'm sure you're wondering, "But, Lera, what about the valentines?"

This year we took a different approach to giving valentines. I decided to be the cool mom this year. Traditionally I buy boxed valentines with tattoos, stickers, etc., and let the boys duke it out who wants to give which one. But this year I thought I'd do what we've never done before. Candy. (Well, candy for the three boys in elementary school.) We picked up a few packs of Fun-Dips valentines and the boys gave those to their classmates (and soap to their teachers). Except (hello!) they were $3 for a pack of 24 at Wal-Mart. So easy. And the kids got to eat the leftovers.

And then for my girl we did something more girlie. I picked up several packs of valentines pins at Michaels one day (six for $1) and decided to make a card to go with them.

I made a little card and printed it on cardstock and all she had to do was write her name ...

and pop them into "invitation" envelopes found at Wal-Mart. Too bad they didn't have white envelopes. Just ivory.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentines - Part 3

Years ago (I think Taylor was a toddler/preschooler and Carter was an infant) we made rainbow crayons using mini muffin tins and the oven. I remember, at that time, thinking the whole process (especially the cleaning process) was a huge pain in the butt and I swore I would never do it again. Well, I did it again. And I still regret that we did it again.

Last week I announced our "craft of the day." Rainbow Valentines crayons. The kids promptly went through our crayon tin and broke all the broken crayons into smaller pieces. We put the broken crayons in the same silicone ice-cube molds we used for the soap.

After Googling it a bit, we popped them in the microwave. It took much longer than anyone else claimed it would take. And there were still lots of bits that refused to melt.

The result were some okay rainbow Valentines crayons. The kids were happy to draw with them and they work fine.

The attempted cleanup was a horrible mess. I had to use Goo-Gone and a toothbrush to remove all traces of stubborn, melted crayon bits. As I scrubbed, it sprayed all over me and the kitchen walls and cabinets.

So, if it's been ten years since the last time we did this, I figure I'm in the clear. In ten years Sawyer will be 13 and I won't be tempted into trying this again. Maybe by the time I have grandchildren I will have forgotten.

[For those of you who asked, I left a comment on my last post about glycerin soap.]

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentines - Part 2

A few years back the kids and I made soap. Not the real soap that I make with lye, but the melt-and-pour glycerin soap. They loved doing it and they eagerly took their baths and showers and used their soap! And you know with boys what a feat that is!

Before Christmas, when I heard the first big snowstorm of the season was upon us (we had 22" of snow the weekend before Christmas), I headed to Michaels and stocked up on block glycerin. (Thank you, 50% coupons!) Sadly, we didn't get a chance to do the soap then because we were busy with Christmas stuff anyway. (I have learned to not even mention such things until it's time to do such things.)

With four feet of snow on the ground, it kind of makes it hard to go anywhere or do anything, so while we were snowbound, I decided to mention the soap. It was a "go" from the start.

The kids each made some soap of their own. They picked their own scent, color and mold. And after they were finished making soap for themselves, we made heart-shaped soap* for their teachers for Valentines Day.

We made up a little poem to go with the soap: "For Valentines I really hope, you like this little heart-shaped soap." Joe wanted to put something in there about "Don't be a dirty girl ..." but I didn't think the teachers would appreciate the humor.

*The silicone mold is an ice cube tray from Ikea. We also made soap in the shape of puzzle pieces and they are a big hit with the boys. These molds are specifically used for crafts now.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentines - Part 1

I thought I would share some of our Valentines indulgences from this past week and weekend. On Friday (or one day late last week -- I'm having trouble keeping track of days lately) I made some heart butters for our Sunday pancake dinner.

I simply softened butter on the counter (real butter, by the way, no margarine in this house), then smeared it into some heart-shaped candy molds, and popped them in the freezer for a bit.

And then I put them in a lidded, vintage bowl and hid them in the fridge so the kids wouldn't see them.

And I pulled them out last night for our Sunday-night pancake dinner.

(Served with chocolate chip pancakes and the one and only King Syrup. This is a pantry staple in our area. It's awesome on cornbread. I thought I might die when we lived in Columbus, Ohio, and there was no King Syrup to be found. I had to personally import it.)

Did I mention that it's snowing again? 4-7 inches are in our forecast ...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oh Say Can You See?

Can you see the flag? I barely can.
I'm just popping in to say Jumping Josephat!

We are in the midst of Snowmageddon Jr. This past Friday/Saturday we got 28" of snow. Last night we got another 12" and it's still snowing. We could have four feet of snow outside when it's all said and done. And that's a darn lot of snow.

Our poor little smokehouse is still standing firm with all the snow on top of it.

And our barn looks so far away with all that snow in between us. Those poor chicken girls. The first snow made their chicken run "roof" collapse and we haven't been able to fix it. They won't come outside anyway. They hate the snow.

The boys came home from school early on Friday (elementary was scheduled for a half-day, but they made it system wide when they heard the forecast) and haven't been to school all week. They've cancelled for Thursday and Friday already. And they are scheduled off for Monday and Tuesday because of Presidents Day and who knows what else.

It hasn't been bad. We've been keeping busy with crafts and baking and such. So all is well. Except my brain is mush.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Baby Shower Gifts

Back in November* I was invited to a baby shower for my sister-in-law's sister. She was expecting her second son with an eight-year gap.

When I glanced over the gift registry I saw she wanted some long-sleeve onesies. I was excited because I knew personalized onesies would be fun and unique. I made one with an appliqued tie (the same style that Sawyer wore many, many times), an elephant, and a dachshund dog that wraps around the back of the onesie. The dog was more challenging when it came time to do the satin-stitch around the edge of the applique, but it worked out with minimal outbursts.

I also made her a diaper wipe case because I totally loved the one I made for Sawyer. It's a brilliant idea. I could throw mine into my bag and not need a separate diaper bag. And I usually just left it in the car. I would refill the diapers as needed (I usually had 2-3 diapers, depending on the size) and a soft-pack of wipes (which sometimes froze in the cold, poor little Sawyer bum). This is a gift that I make for all baby showers. And it's so darn simple. Since I'm not a fan of Velcro, I use a button-loop closure.

And everything together. I found a cute hedgehog baby blanket that I just loved. I don't think she registered for it, but I couldn't resist. I also gave her a little bow tie, which I buy in multiples. I find them often on clearance at the Children's Place Outlet for 49-99 cents each. I've been buying them for years, as you can see Mason is sporting one a few years ago. Sawyer still wears his almost every Sunday.

*Anthony was born a few days before Christmas. I'm late to posting ... again.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Thanksgiving Skirt

Yes, I do realize that Thanksgiving was more than two months ago. But I never showed my Thanksgiving tablecloth skirt.

This is the skirt that I made for (and wore to) Thanksgiving dinner. I wore my white flower shirt and a cardigan, too, (I think). I realize that the tights are a little over the top, but my knees and shin were still significantly bruised (and swollen) and I didn't want to ruin anyone's Thanksgiving-Day appetite. These were the darkest, yet most comfortable to wear over my injuries.*

I bought the tablecloth dirt cheap at the SERRV sale in October. I knew it was destined to become a skirt. I made the fitted A-line with a side zipper that I've made before. I think I finally got the fit right this time around. Third time's a charm, right?

I always love to use a fun facing in my clothing. It just gives me the feeling of a hidden something special that no one else knows about.

And for the hem, I just did a rolled hem on my serger. I was going to leave the original hem, but the sides of the skirt dipped down and didn't look right. Of course it was after the skirt was finished and I didn't have enough fabric for a proper hem. This was the compromise. But it was a happy compromise and I love how it turned out.

*My knees are still not right. It's been 13-14 weeks since I fell on my run. BUT, I am going to the doctor on Friday about these knees of mine. I'm hoping that I will soon be able to have full use of them again. Like squatting, bending and kneeling, to name a few. And it would be nice to have them not feel like they are perpetually bruised and tender. I noticed the bursitis disappeared within the past week, which is a huge improvement, however there is still a lump on my left kneecap.*

Monday, February 01, 2010

Orange Cowl

So I knit another cowl. This one is a bit different and so very, very warm. It was so much faster to knit. Not because I am perfecting my knitting (though a girl can only hope), but because it used large needles and chunky yarn. It was my kind of project.

I found the cowl pattern from a google search. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the one. I didn't have the correct size needles (it recommended US17 circs and I could only find US15 in the store) and was concerned it would not turn out right. However, I decided to email the creator and she so graciously emailed me back with suggestions. How very nice. (And I did email back to thank her because it really irks me when I spend time emailing back a stranger with details of a project that they've requested and I never hear back from them. So there you go. One of Lera's pet peeves.)

So, here is the cowl with my grey wool pea coat after shoveling snow on Saturday afternoon. (I tried desperately to finish it in time for Saturday's snowstorm and then the forecast changed and we were supposed to miss the snow. But, as weather-predictors are usually wrong, it snowed anyway and I got to wear it. So, hip hip hooray for snow!)

And today with my jean jacket.

I love the versatility. Dress it up or dress it down.


used US15 circular needles
1 1/2 skeins Wool-Ease Thick and Quick (in pumpkin)
cast-on 60, knit 20 rows, then decreased as instructed for row 11 and continued following pattern