Thursday, October 13, 2011

Knitting for the bigger boy

So, I'm attempting to make most of my bigger boy's fall and winter wardrobe. I've always made him lots of pants, and with the addition of some hand-me-downs from a friend of my mother's and a few hand-knitted sweaters and vests, he's usually pretty well turned out. I'm going to try to share some of the things that I've made for him lately over the next few days. First up, a couple of new-ish (if you count things made over the past year) knitted finished objects:

First up is this lovely fuzzy green pullover. It's an un-steeked Grow Like a Weed Jacket, done up in Lamb's Pride Worsted. The pattern was a dream, and the boy always gets compliments on this sweater when he wears it. It's also really thick and warm, and last winter (see, I told you, these are only sort-of new knits!) he was able to wear it in lieu of a coat when it was cold-but-not-too-cold. When I first finished this sweater, I thought I was going to steek it, but I never got up the nerve. And frankly, I think it's beautiful just the way it is (is that the fear talking?). I added a few rows of plain ribbing at the neckline after he'd worn the sweater a few times and I figured out I was never going to get it steeked and be-zippered-- I think those couple of plain rows make the neckline look more normal than it did. Outside of a little pilling that will be easily dispatched by the sweater shaver, this sweater will fit just as well this winter as it did last. Definitely a stretchy, well-fitting sweater for growing little boys.
And then, (yet another) Milo vest, this time made from Green Mountain Spinnery's Sylvan Spirit that I got back in 2007 when I was considering using this yarn for my husband's Cobblestone sweater. I love this yarn for this project. The tencel content makes the vest drape-y and soft, while the wool keeps it pretty warm. I also love how the colorway is kind of tweedy and matches many different shirts. A total keeper.

Here's hoping I make it back here again soon with some more kids' wardrobe additions. Happy autumn!

Friday, August 5, 2011


Look at that sweet sleeping baby! This is eighteen-month-old H, riding on his papa's back through Acadia National Park last summer. He's riding in the SweetPod baby carrier that I made last spring before a different family trip, to Texas. The carrier was indispensable on both of those trips, through airports and on hikes. But it has shown its true utility now that little mister G has arrived. This is the carrier that I wear on every trip to the grocery store and the doctor's office, and every day on walks with the boys. George rides in front for now, but the day when he can ride backpack-style isn't far off.

This is a very detailed pattern with a great supply buying guide at the beginning. I did have to mail-order a few supplies, like high-density foam for the hip support and all of the heavy-duty fasteners, but the pattern includes sources for the special materials. I would encourage anyone who needs a baby carrier to try sewing your own with this pattern. It seems complicated, with the nap hood (which zips in its own integral pouch) and all of the adjustable straps, but it was much easier to complete than I thought it would be. Totally do-able. The savings over similar store-bought carriers was substantial and the SweetPod is way cuter and much more comfortable than some carriers that don't include the hip support.

I'll be using it again this afternoon, on a trip to the nature center. Happy hiking (and sewing).

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Yesterday at the grocery store I was contemplating buying some flowers for our dining room table. There were bouquets of deep red, magenta, mustard yellow, dahlias and zinnias, sunflowers. But something has shifted in me and I bought the plain white dahlias.

Henry spotted this bluejay feather on a recent walk and he found the broken robin's egg in our yard a few weeks ago. I think they're so beautiful together, and suddenly I'm drawn to those cool blues. I love adding nature finds to our little kitchen windowsill vignette, and I love how the blues and whites seem to creep in organically near the end of the summer.
Last night was the first night that I consciously noticed the dusk coming sooner. In a light rain, the end of the day felt so *summer*, but with a twist of fall. I think I say this every year around this time: I'm so ready.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New jammies

The big boy has graduated from his union suit pajamas, since body-length zippers and middle-of-the-night potty runs don't mix. Perfect excuse to try out the crossover tee pattern from Growing Up Sew Liberated!

I made the size 3, but next time I will make the 2, as this one is a lot big. This was also one of my first projects sewn with knit fabrics. The neck came out a little gape-y. I guess I need to stretch the rib binding pieces more before I sew them down? Or start with shorter pieces than the pattern suggests? Buy higher-quality rib-knit? Perhaps I just need more practice. The knit sewing has definitely made me want to get more comfortable with the serger-- sewing those seams more than once is no picnic.
He seems happy with his new jammies, no?

The shorts are from a pattern I drafted from the pants block pattern at Children's Fashion Workshop. These block patterns have been so useful. And the fabric is some cheap interlock I got a long time ago from JoAnn's. (As a side note on that, I was in there for some needles on Sunday and they still had this print! This isn't the first time I've seen a print there literally a year after I've purchased it. Is it just my location, or do they keep stock around for a long time?)At least two more sets of pajamas are on deck for my big boy-- firetrucks and frogs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Popcorn and popsicles for supper!

This has been a hot summer punctuated by projects (potty training comes to mind) that take more effort and time than you think they will. So about once a week, I find myself left with very little time before supper and nothing in the works. On these days, I've been resorting to a combo of popcorn (popped in delicious coconut oil) and a cold kefir concoction. On this day, the cold kefir of choice was kefir popsicles: kefir, frozen strawberries and honey. Last week, I made vanilla kefir ice cream to go with our popcorn. It was delicious.

Now, I know popcorn and cold, sweetened kefir isn't the most healthy supper option. But it's stress-free for both Mama and her two-year-old and it just feels so much like summer. I guess I'll have to come up with a different crunch-time go-to meal for the winter!
Grady likes popsicles too.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hello August

Hello. Happy August. I can't believe we're already into the last month of summer. Lately I've been trying to decide if this blog is worth keeping. I feel like I should be pouring my extra time into baby books for the boys or photo albums instead of writing about my crafty and country pursuits on this blog. But I keep coming back (even after extended absences) so I guess we'll see. I'm going to try to get a better rhythm going for August. There are many completed projects that have not yet been shared.

The dapper dandy that you see above is Harry. He is my older son's best friend, a doll made from this pattern for Henry's first birthday. The boy always says, "Harry is a nice doll, Mama." And then he bites him in the belly. All that love, you know. Sometimes Henry loves Harry a little too much, as illustrated by Harry's new chin. His old chin was so loved that there was a gaping hole and stuffing was exposed. We can't have that. So Mama gave him a chin graft. The sad part is that since this photo was taken Harry has lost a leg and he has a hole in his shirt. Both repairs will be happening soon, I hope. I think I'll have to sneak him out of Henry's room in the middle of the night.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Whew! Thank goodness I got that out of my system. Sometimes I feel the need to do a little hand sewing, and I always have grand plans for completed queen-size coverlets and quilts (see: Grandmother's flower garden, crocheted ripple blanket). This time I made myself stop with this tiny doll-sized product. It's about 9" by 11". I used Heather Bailey's tutorial for these. They're all from the scrap bin, and were actually pretty enjoyable to make. But I'm so glad to be able to let myself off the hook on this particular method. Sometimes there's too much inspiration out there, you know?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Yum! The strawberries are becoming a yearly spring tradition. We go to Wegmeyer Farm, out near my grandparents' place (and pretty close to my parents' new place, too). Everyone had a good time at the patch. Notice H's red shirt-- a deliberate clothing choice by Mama after last year's championship berry eating left his blue shirt purple with juice. This year H was more interested in picking and picking and picking than eating, though.

We picked enough for a couple of batches of jam and several gallon bags of frozen berries for smoothies. I'm always battling fruit float with my strawberry jam. Is the secret to let them macerate with the sugar for awhile before you cook the jam? For this batch, I just followed the recipe on the Pomona's box, and it's plenty tasty, although the fruit float is bad despite my turning efforts.

Also, while I appreciate the shorter cooking time (and using less sugar) with the Pomona's, for strawberries, it leaves the finished jam tasting a bit like freezer jam, of which I'm not a huge fan. (It works great for blackberries and blueberries, though, I've found.) I've got another batch of strawberries macerating with a vanilla bean in the fridge right now-- I'm going to try Food in Jars' strawberry-vanilla small batch jam tonight. It's a pectin-free recipe. I hope the extended macerating time will help me skip the fruit float.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Knitting Catch-up #1

We were moved out of our house almost all winter for a home renovation, so I didn't get to blog about the knitting projects that I completed in peak knitting season. I'm going to attempt to catch up, but there may be some unseasonable photos! This is George's stocking. It's (obviously) the same pattern as the other family stockings that I made in 2009. I think my favorite thing about this pattern is that it comes together so quickly with such a nice finished product. Line them in interlock and they look like a million bucks. Here are all the family
stockings hung by the chimney with care in the little house where we stayed during our renovations.

Pattern: Falling Snow Stocking by Jennifer Hoel, a free pattern on Ravelry
Yarn: Malabrigo Chunky
Needles: US 9
Lining: Cotton interlock


I bought milk kefir grains from Cultures for Health about a month ago, and have had a pint jar on the windowsill growing ever since the grains arrived. We had been eating a lot of "kefir" from our dairy delivery (love South Mountain Creamery) in smoothies and such, but it was getting too expensive. H loves it so much that I decided to begin making my own.

I wish I could say this was harder, but kefir is so incredibly easy to make. After rehydrating the grains, you really just dump them into milk and leave it, covered, for 24 hours. H's favorite smoothie is kefir with strawberries and a little honey. We have been eating it instead of yogurt. For about a year, I was making yogurt every week, first in a little yogurt maker and then in the crock pot, but this is so much easier I don't know that I'll ever go back to making the yogurt.

Our success with milk kefir is making me curious about water kefir. I am a little wary, though, because although milk kefir is a fermented beverage, it doesn't taste alcoholic in the least. I'm worried that water kefir will be like kombucha, which I can't stand. Has anyone tried making their own water kefir?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring sensory bin

I found myself falling back on tv as a babysitter a lot more often than I hoped as we moved back into our house. There were times when I needed to unpack a box or reorganize a closet without little people underfoot, and so into the basement H went, to watch an episode of Little Bear. I know that tv has its place (for example, he's so excited to talk about all of the characters from that show, and the things they do often relate to our days, especially on walks or at the farm), but I don't really like the way H zones in front of the screen. So after I saw the wonderful sensory bins that Counting Coconuts' Mari-Ann puts together for her son, I decided to create one of my own.

This is our Spring sensory bin, with a garden theme. Henry loves to manipulate and sort tiny things, so this has been a huge hit. I put the items in a 32-quart under-bed storage bin (with a lid!) and added a little wooden bowl for sorting. I just need to get a magnifying glass, and this bin will be complete.
And the thousand dollar question: Does H keep the items in the bin, or does he throw them around making a huge mess for me to clean up? Well here's a little story about that. The other day, H wanted to play with the bin when I had just put it away. He pulled it down off the shelf, scattering beans and tiny things everywhere. We sat together and I made him pick each little individual item up, not letting him stop until they were all back in the bin. I told H how proud I was of him for cleaning it all up. Then I started to put the bin away, but saw a quivering little toddler lip, and relented and let him play a little more. I think this "animal bin" (as H calls it) might be the favorite toy of the moment.

I'm excited to build the Summer bin when the time comes (already have some great ideas!), but I hope he doesn't get upset when the Spring bin disappears in the night.

This bin contains: 7 pounds of black beans, 2 pounds of pinto beans, unscented (sparkly!) fishing lure worms, flower buttons, tiny insect buttons, wood beads, brown glass beads, green freshwater pearl beads, fake flowers in two sizes cut off of a "silk" arrangement from Michael's, brown pom-poms, feathers, and by far the most popular items: the contents of this Toob.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Making a home

I've been filling out a lot of forms lately. Some of them have been official forms for banks, others less official (although only slightly!-- people are *serious* about preschool) ones for H's first year of "real" preschool next year. And all of the forms have a little blank for me to fill in with my profession. Each time I write "home maker". I know some people who do what I do have problems with this term, but I think it's the best way to describe it, despite some negative connotations. (It's certainly better than "house wife", for example.)

I live in an area where many women and men have very high-profile careers. When they hear that I stay home, some think that I have no ambition. But they're wrong-- this is my ambition. It kind of always has been. I enjoy making our home and being a full-time wife and mother. Building the atmosphere of love in our house and practicing our routine, day in and day out. Stacking up peaceful days like waves on the shore.

Fabric diet

We've just moved back into our house after a longer-than-necessary remodeling session, and reorganizing the basement has afforded me the opportunity to lay my hands on almost every piece of fabric in my stash. There is waaaay too much. So, as of March 18, 2011 (when my husband and I shook on it), I am on a Fabric Diet. I won't buy any fabric for a year. I should mention that this diet is made slightly easier because my mom also has a huge stash, and what I need to finish up some of my unfinished projects I can probably "borrow" from her. Still, I hope I can make it!

Little helper

Spring always makes me want to start approximately eight million projects at once. I think it's the renewed light that makes me overly ambitious. This year, I have a couple of requirements for any projects on which I spend my time: They have to be either (1) useful to me, my home, or a member of my family; or (2) involve finishing up an earlier unfinished project.

Lately, I've had a lot of "help" with my projects. If it's not nap time, H is so excited to help me with my "fah-ricks" or "kilts". He calls all patchwork, even if it's just blocks, kilts. You can see him above piling kilts on top of his BFF, Harry (who needs some serious face work-- definitely on the current project list!). He also loves to lay the blocks out in precise rows, or to sort them by color.
No matter what the project, I'm sure to hear "What Mama doin'?", as I did on this day, when I was trying to redraft an old kids' pants pattern to be more like what I want for H's spring/summer wardrobe (another project on the list). When he saw this photo, he told me he was "drawin' ladybugs wit the ladybug crown".

The help that H has given me on recent projects has also afforded some of the first truly two-way play between the boys. G loves the bright colors in the blocks, and waving them around haphazardly, if he can get his hands to close on them. Here you can see two out of three boys playing "night night".

I promise there will be some actual finished objects to show soon, and that this won't be a complete Mommy blog. I got a ton of knitting done over the winter and for some reason have yet to photograph any of it. If it would only stop raining around here this week, I might be able to arrange a backyard photo session.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Our dryer is out

I want to remember this day. When Henry is the perfect height to rest his chin on the railing of SuSu's laundry porch. And I can hear his thudding toddler footsteps and squeals of joy as she chases him from room to room upstairs. And George smiles up at me after eating, sly, ducking his chin. And we're all bathed in the gloaming, slanting through the windows. It was a good day, despite the broken dryer that brought us here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More little things

Like little fingers and toes to nibble. Little smiles and the light in little eyes. Little George here was born on Thanksgiving day, 2010. And we are so thankful to add this new warm and wonderful soul to our family. Below is a photo from Henry's first opportunity to "play" with his baby brother. He's been very sweet and generous with the kisses, engrossed by the tiny hands and feet, quick to name and touch gently all of BG's ("Baby George") features. And only a little jealous-- mostly of the baby's ability to take up real estate on Mama's lap. George seems to love his big brother, too, always watching his comings and goings.

Two baby children has been a challenge, definitely, but my heart is so full of love for these little boys.

Little things

Two-year-old Henry is obsessed with little things. The smaller the better. When we are out in the world he fills his pockets with tiny pinecones and pebbles, seeds and buds. His favorite foods are small ones, raisins and beans that can be manipulated as they are eaten. Many of the favorite toys are tiny, too. A recent exchange at the doctor's office:

The doctor had given him a token to put in the machine for a prize, and he chose a bouncy ball. (Never mind that the doctor shouldn't have given him the token at all, since he's not yet three and has a tendency to put tiny things in his mouth...) Out popped a red ball colored like a basketball. So excited! He threw it and threw it while I was checking out, eventually throwing it somewhere he couldn't follow it: into the office of another doctor, who was on a phone call. I dragged him away from the doctor's office door, and the "mean" nurse (another whole story there) gave him one of the plastic frogs that are approved for the under-threes.
H: Want boun-see ball.
Me: We have balls at home, Hon.
H: Want red boun-see ball.
Me: We'll get a ball at home, Sweet Sweet.
H: (More plaintive) Want red boun-see ball wif stripes (repeat ad finitum).
Me: Let's just get to the car.

"Tiny" and "little" are major parts of his vocabulary, and when he doesn't get the small object that he wants, he just adds more adjectives. Today:
H: Herry want ring.
Me: No, Honey, why don't we play with the cars?
H: Nooo. Herry want gold ring.
Me: No...
H: Herry want tiny gold ring.

I guess the want-ys and "no"s go with the territory in two-year-olds. But how I love my little boy and his love of little things. Here's a photo to show you the rest of the winning outfit that he was wearing the day that I took the photo above.
Back soon, I hope.