Thursday, July 30, 2009

Coming Along Nicely

The garden and my latest project are coming along nicely.

Here is a sneak peek of what I've been working on (more on this soon):

and...the garlic has been harvested! We usually do this in the beginning of July, but things in the garden are going a little slower this year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Accidental Gifts

Back—after a quick trip to visit family in New Jersey and a much appreciated change of scenery. It was a whirlwind road trip that blended the relaxing and the non-stop in perfect proportions.

We spent a day in NYC and, despite the touristy things we did, it was getting caught in a downpour at the Central Park water playground that was the highlight. Oh, you can plan to wow the kids with this and that, but when it comes down to it, it's so often the spontaneous events that are the memory makers. I find this to be true with fabricating jewelry and, really, any art I create. The unintentional becomes the focal point. A series of fortuitous events is frequently the way a new design is born.

It can be so frustrating, though, can't it? The accidental can be a gift, but keeping that in mind is much easier said than done. In fact, it's something I seem to have to re-learn everytime it happens.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Water, Water

This can't be good for the squash plants.

The chicken coop entrance is now a small pond,

...and something tells me we won't be having a fire in this pit any time soon.
The already suffering-from-too-much-rain garden takes another hit. I will be holding my breath over the next few days as I watch to see which of those battered veggies will bounce back.
The good news? Broccoli, just picked, is on the menu tonight!

Friday, July 24, 2009

As for the Jewelry...

You may have noticed and absence of all things metal in my recent posts. It's true—I have spent very few hours in my workshop. With the kids home, it is impossible for me to sneak downstairs and get any work done, so we have been spending our days knitting, sewing, and cooking together. And, oh, how I am loving that the girls are big enough to participate in these activities in a much greater capacity than ever before.

As for the jewelry...

I am excited for the recent inquiry by a very interesting online store, for the gold I just purchased, and for the new line I have designed. Now, to actually fabricate those pieces...that's another story.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Making Plans

My family goes with the flow—we just like to let the day unfold and see where it takes us. But lately, especially this summer vacation, we have had to be a little more disciplined with our time. Seems there is so much we have and want to do, and the days are ticking by so fast.

Here's a sneak peek of some things that will be helping to fill our time over the next few months:

A new piece of furniture designed by The Husband...

A gorgeous stack of fabric....

Our Family Summer Center that organizes all our goals and accomplishments for the vacation...

...And some yummy Peruvian wool.
What will be made of the wool and fabric? What will our new custom piece of furniture feel like? What will be added to our list of goals and things the kids wish to do? Time will tell...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Late July

After so many days of rain in June and early July, we have finally enjoyed a couple of weeks of sunny summer weather. But it was during those dark rainy days that our garden truly suffered. Delicate transplants were drowned out (if not destroyed by the chickens), and all the veggies seemed just a bit stunted without the sun to reach towards.

This brings us to now, late July, a time when were are usually enjoying our garden's bounty. It would be salads every night, sliced cucumbers for snacks, and zucchini up to our ears. But not this year. We have harvested most of our surviving lettuce, snacked on some string beans and seasoned all our meals with fresh herbs, but that's about it.

So, in a effort to grow more of our own food this year, we have stepped up our sprout production, including them in more recipes than I probably should. We have The Sprout Garden, a sprout grower that makes it super easy to wash and drain the seeds as they grow. I order our seeds from Wood Prairie Farm in Maine, where we get our seed potatoes, too.

We have our sprouts , herbs, and lettuce for the time being, as we patiently wait for the broccoli (any day now), potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, carrots, and onions. Coming, hopefully, soon.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Buckets o' Fun

I spent some time last week making these MayaMade Buckets—one for each of my girls, and one as a little-girl gift. I had come across rave reviews of this bucket pattern on more than one blog, and I knew we could find so many great uses for them. I imagined them as toy storage, as a caddie for random items, or as my current-knitting-project basket. My girls, however, came up with a few uses I hadn't considered—like MacGyvering them onto a zip line, or as hats with funny ear straps.

They were originally designed to be made with repurposed burlap coffee sacks, but lacking those, I used what I had. I do have a few planned for myself soon, and hope to get my hands on some old burlap sacks first.

I'll most likely share pictures of the grown-up versions of the buckets once they are finished. But something tells me they will be reinvented into thingamajigs and whoseywhatseys by a certain five- and seven-year-old before I can claim them as my own.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Freedom and Time

Clematis blooming in clusters on the trellis...

The girls passing time finger knitting (learn how here)...

Blankets for Craft Hope project #3 getting boxed up and ready to go...

And toy birds in a tree...
I came upon these birds in our dogwood tree yesterday quite by surprise. Funny, what the kids will come up with when given freedom and time a-plenty. They learned how to finger knit—and have made scarves for many, many stuffed friends. We have had time to craft for the sake of those who do not have. We have been living in our yard, in its summer-blooming glory.
*Sigh*, Summer!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


The deep-fried millet croquettes (recipe from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair) we had for dinner last night were delish, but it was the pot of leftover deep-frying oil (safflower oil) that inspired our dessert-on-a-whim. These home made potato chips, complete with a generous helping of salt were thin, crispy, and full of real potato taste. Quick, easy, and yummy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

She Made You a Beard

Now this is what I call creative. I found these yarn and felt beards on Etsy a few weeks ago and can't stop laughing about them.

Erin is the genius behind I Made You a Beard, her little Portland, Oregon-based beard crafting company. She says she was born without the ability to grow a beard, so she now makes them to help people like her blend in with their bearded compatriots. (Finally!) Adaptable to different head sizes and backed with cotton lining for stability, there is surely a beard to fit and please everyone.

This whole concept makes me giggle but Erin takes it a step further with her humorous descriptions. Read them and be entertained. Here's a good one: "To me, this is the perfect everyday beard. Stylish, but not too flashy; the classic piece you have been dying to add to your wardrobe."

Hysterical. Browse her shop and read some descriptions—for fun or for serious beard shopping. I have a feeling you, like many before, will want her to make you a beard.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fastest Blankies in the East

I thought it was about time I get these baby blankets done and in the mail. After all, the babes they were made for were born in December. To make up for lost time, I opted for the fastest blankie in the east. It's made using a simple double crochet stitch with a scallop edge, a yarn flower added for extra girly-ness.

Those precious baby girls have lived the first six months of their lives just fine without these blankies, but I hope they get lots of comfort and warmth from them in the years to come.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Love Pickles

I do love pickles. But I am talking about Pickles, the Etsy shop and blog. Heidi and Anna are the Norwegian craftsters who run Pickles. They describe themselves as "knee deep into craft" and, based on all they have to offer, I would say that's a pretty accurate description.

Their online shop features organic hand printed cotton items for baby and knitting patterns like the one for this adorable "Oh, Handsome" sweater (pictured above).

The blog, a "knitting, crochet, cupcake and craft blog" is chock-full of free patterns and craft project tutorials. Check out the instructions for the the Puff Daddy Knitted Stool and the Whirl-It Lampshade—my favorites.

Pickles has a new venture as well—they'll be selling their favorite yarns in a new online shop opening soon. It promises yarn that's "soft and pretty, but not pricey." That sounds good to me. I'll let you know as soon as it opens.

Monday, July 6, 2009

"Craftsman/Piano Playing Coffee Barista?"

"Craftsman/piano playing coffee barista"—that is how my good friend recently described my husband. As a major creative force in our home, I think it's time you got to know him.

He is a carpenter by trade and an artist in all aspects of his life. Having him as part of our family is good in so many ways. We get live piano performances daily, custom made furniture to fit the wonky spaces in our old house, home made candy (his sweet tooth benefits us all in that way), and lattes or cappuccinos whenever we (ok, I) need one.

His current wood shop projects include chess pieces, a bench to go with the table he recently completed, and a banjo. Yup, he's making a banjo.

So that's him in a nutshell. Now that you've heard a bit about this endlessly talented man I get to call my husband, you'll feel like you know him when I include him in future posts. His projects and experiences leave me no shortage of expertly crafted items and interesting stories to blog about. Tune in soon to see more of his work...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Solution

As I mentioned before, our hungry hens have been destroying our garden—scratching, trampling, pecking and eating the already challenged veggies (read more about that here). It was clear, we needed fences around all the gardens but I did not want to spend any more money on this cause.

The solution? Sticks. We had a pile of sticks in the back corner of our yard so we poked them into the ground around the perimeter of the garden. Even though the chickens could fly over the fence if they really wanted, the sharp, twisted branches seemed to be enough of a visual barrier to keep them at bay—until they figured out they could squeeze between them. Imagine our surprise when we found all the chickens on the wrong side of the fence eating the lettuce. Foiled. So we added more sticks, filling in the spaces, and the chickens have not had lettuce for lunch since. Or perhaps I should say, yet.