Thursday, October 29, 2009

Monster Mash, Home Style

There was a Halloween party yesterday that the girls had confirmed they did not want to go to until, of course, five minutes before it was to begin. By then, I just couldn't fit it in. Other plans had been made, much to their dismay ("Why can't we just go right now?").

To ease their seemingly excruciating suffering, I promised them we'd make our very own party at home. This was going to need all the elements of a spooky bash if they were to be convinced. Lucky for me, the girls are only five and seven and I can still get away with alot. So I streamed some Halloween music, turned off the lights and broke out the glow sticks, made some face paint, served a special treat, got out the costumes and poof! we had our very own "Monster Mash."

We started with some leftover anniversary cake

...then moved on to the homemade face paint. We mixed cold cream and cornstarch until we had the right consistency (there are many variations of this recipe online so we just mixed until it seemed right).

Next came the drops of food coloring (Be sure to make your colors dark)

Our clown/makeup artist attempted to transform a sweet face into a scary one

...then did a few touch ups to her own makeup for good measure

There are so many social obligations—birthday parties, games, seasonal events, and school functions, that sometimes it gets overwhelming. We try to keep a balance between life at home and our social lives but we just can't do it all, so at times we pick and choose. I must concede that this is probably going to become more of a challenge as the girls grow older. For now, I'll get away with what I can and keep my "babies" close to home. And use smoke and mirrors—or glow sticks and face paint—when desperation calls for it.

I have to warn you that the face paint is greasy. The girls put it on using cotton swabs and it went on in globs (as you can see above). Later, we applied it with a paint brush and it went on much smoother.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Today, we are celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary. On this day in 1999, a beautiful Wednesday, we said our vows. Yes, Wednesday. It happened like this:

We were sitting at an all-you-can-eat buffet in Las Vegas (romantic, I know), discussing how crazy it is to get married there. We had met a couple a few days before who had done just that—gotten married on a whim. It blew me away to think that people actually just up-and-get-hitched like that, but I have to admit, there was something titillating about it.

And then he said it. "We could get married." This was not a question. It was stated as a fact that rolled off his tongue with the calm confidence I have always loved about him. I was simultaneously stunned and certain. I asked with a sideways glance, "are you serious?" Immediately followed by "yeah, we could!" And that was it. His proposal, my acceptance.

Two days later (our engagement, I suppose?) we were husband and wife. Ten years later we are so much more than that. It's a rare thing, but that was one Vegas bet that paid off.

Happy Anniversary, "A"!
The image at the top of this post is the camping permit we had displayed on our windshield. The park ranger scribbled that sweet message at the bottom of it. "Congratulations and eternal love."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Here are a couple of snapshots from the past few days. There are projects in the pipeline and things currently in the works. There is also plenty being put off, while a sick second grader takes some time off of school to get better.

Socks: making and mastering them will be my winter project

The (very) rough start of a soon-to-be gift

more amigurumi (I think it is safe to say that these days, there is always a little crocheted friend in the works)

...and I have a feeling many of you have some variation of this scene in your home now, too.

Happy Halloween week!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Custom Toy Box

A while back, "A" was commissioned to make a custom toy box for a couple who wanted a new family heirloom for their home. It will be a toy chest for their grandchildren now, perhaps blanket storage or a hope chest some time down the road. They wanted, something that would fit perfectly in the space they have reserved for it, and it had be a quality piece that would last for years to come.

It's been amazing, watching a board of wood be transformed into a beautiful box. Here's my version of the process (warning: I am sure I'm not using proper furniture-making terminology here so if you're a carpenter, forgive me!):

It started with this giant board of Royal Cedar, 22" wide by 10' long

After cutting and planing the boards much of it was reduced to these shavings on his workshop floor (the kids love playing with those thin curls of wood, and so do I. A craft project just waiting to happen!).

cutting the dovetails

the separate pieces ready to be assembled

And here's a shot of the box with the finish applied. I love how the dovetails pop in contrast.

"A" is working on the lid now, and once the whole things is complete I'll share some pics of that, too.

If you'd like to browse some more of A's work, here's his portfolio.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Special Request

My sister-in-law recently asked me to make a custom necklace for her (and a few for her sisters as well). She had seen these necklaces on moms here and there—tiny discs bearing the initials of their children, hanging from a simple chain.

I was glad to recreate what she described. I made them unique by giving the charms a rustic feel. They were blackened just a tad and I (happily!) skipped the polishing. She was thrilled with the finished product, and I just might make a few more as gifts.

...and, has anyone ever attempted a photo shoot with a playful kitten in the house? The shiny dangling chains proved to be too tempting for Pepper. He's lucky he's so adorable.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hats, Mittens, and a Place to Keep Them

Things are moving fast around here. We had our first frost just the other day and yesterday, only fours days later, we saw our first snow.

Over the past few weeks, I have been knitting a new hat for each member of the family and it looks like I finished them just in time.

The blue, white, and green ones are Soulemama's Favorite Hat , and the black one was knit without a pattern—a simple knit 2, purl 2 rib. (A new and fantastic use for pumpkins: hat models!)

With the hasty arrival of cold weather, I pulled out all our winter gear and was reminded that we are in desperate need of new place to store our hats and mittens. The dig-through-the-giant-bin method we have used in the past was just not going to work anymore. In previous winters, finding that one missing glove was like finding a needle in a haystack. I set out to find a shelf or small dresser, but my trip to the used furniture store turned up this cute little night stand:
It's perfect for the tiny space by the front door. Hats in the top drawer, mittens in the bottom drawer. It's easy, organized, and uncluttered. Best of all, means not sifting through that old bottomless pit of head and hand wear.

Today it'll be proper autumn weather again, so winter cold has not yet settled in for the duration. I may even have time to learn how to knit mittens before snow and ice become the norm. If I do, I know I have a great place to keep them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Year of the Miniatures

This growing season was, apparently, the season of miniature vegetables. If you live in New England you know why. If you don't, let me explain:
Our June featured exactly three days of sunshine. June, the month when seedlings need the sun's energy to grow from a sprout to and bonafide plant, gave them almost nothing they needed. Not enough light and too much water can spell disaster to a bed of delicate baby veggies.

We watched 2 successions of lettuce seedlings float away, and we saw the squash go for a swim. All the while, our tomatoes were quietly contracting a fungus.

Given the fact that the plants had only three months to do what they do, it's no wonder they only had a chance to get this big.

This year, I am thankful for farmers markets. I'm grateful for the fact that our survival doesn't completely rely on what we produce in our back yard because, looking at this handful of miniature veggies, we would surely go hungry.

Of course, I am exaggerating a bit. We did get a healthy crop of carrots, cukes, kale and green beans, but these minis are just so...sad and puny!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Brrr....we had our first frost today in New England. Our heat cranked on for the first time since last April and filled our home with that comforting smell (I guess that would be the smell of hot iron radiators). We're remembering how to stay warm and so today I'll be wearing layers to my (chilly) basement workshop.

Before I start my commute down those stairs, I thought I'd share a few new pieces I've been working on. Two rings, both from the Raw Series: The Threaded Oval Ring (right) and the Raw Dome Ring (left).

Things are starting to happen on the wholesale side again (yay!) so for the next few days, I'll be spending lots of time creating in the workshop. Hat, scarf, cuppa tea, NPR—check!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Last week we were (happily) up to our ears in apples. This week? Pumpkins!

Our visit to Nihtila Farm was a filled with all things fall: pumpkins (of course!), corn stalks, apples, gourds, hay bales, and plenty of great photo opportunities.

More fodder for the freezer—this time pumpkin puree

The crew hauling their loads

Roasted pumpkin seeds

And a couple of big ones ready to be carved

Happy Pumpkin Season!

Friday, October 9, 2009

An Exercise in Patience

I occurred to me that I never followed up on what became of the beautiful Peruvian wool and that pattern, with all its messy notes scratched on it. I wondered if any of you could guess what I was knitting and Alison got it right: the infamous Clapotis from

I knit mine with wool, as opposed to the wool/silk blend the pattern calls for. You see, I fell in love with this color and had to make something with it, and quick. The final product is a bit beefier than it was intended to be but, given New England winters, that's not such a bad thing. The scarf/wrap is pretty, and the long ladders of dropped stitches give it interest. Once I got in the rhythm of the pattern, it was a cinch—or so I thought, until it was almost complete and this happened:
The longest drop-stitch ladder of the entire piece stopped dropping (I am sure there's an official term for this but I don't know it) about halfway down. Right smack-dab in the center of the scarf. After I spat out a few expletives, I reminded myself that knitting is just an evil ploy to exercise our patience, then moved past the glaring error. I'm happy to report I'm over it, and today I wear my Clapotis with cozy pride. (But in the interest of full disclosure, I do still have nightmares about it.)

So knitters, I ask you: have you knit a Clapotis? Do you have any wisdom as to why and how this happened? Where did I go wrong? Is there any way to fix it now?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Remembery Capsule

So this is the project I mentioned the other day. The Remembery Capsule: A little cylinder of memories that have been captured in personalized tokens.

I made this remembery capsule for some friends of mine as a wedding gift and finally gave it to them last night. I say finally because, well, they got married in 2006. I know, it is so far beyond the wedding gift etiquette, I should be ashamed of myself.

This no-longer-newlywed couple is not your average duo. They are hikers, skiers, fishermen, engineers, crafters, marketing gurus, gardeners, business owners, oh—and they just built a house, much of it with their own hands. They truly live life to the fullest, and they have sought experiences in many places around the country and the globe.

It was only fitting that their wedding gift reflect their many adventures together. I chose topo maps for the notable locations where they have spent their time and put each one in a token, with the corresponding date.

Each token fits neatly into the capsule.

The tokens are made from two copper discs, riveted together, with the map sandwiched in between.

Tiny sterling silver skis were soldered to the top, to make the box more personal for the bride and groom (ok—you're right, maybe I shouldn't call them that three years after the fact).
The best part of all? I left plenty of room to add more tokens as they continue their adventurous journey together.

I plan to offer the Remembery Capsules in my shop soon, customizable for any occasion. They can document a family's journey (wedding pic, new home, one for each child, pets, etc...), or celebrate a single occasion (a capsule full of wedding photos), a child's life (birth, kindergarten, first lost tooth, etc...), or whatever you can dream up (a capsule full of bird illustrations, because you love birds, for example). I made one for my own family that I will share with you soon.

About the name:
The word remembery was invented by my then-three-year-old daughter who confused the words remember and memory. We love that word, and we use it all the time. Maybe you'll add that one to your vocabulary, too!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Apple Mania

The apple pickers brought home a multitude of apples this weekend, and so the fun begins. I am licking my lips just thinking of all the apple sauce, pie filling, cobblers, and muffins (and I think I need to find a good cider donut recipe this year) we will be feasting on soon.

I know so many of you are enjoying apple season as much as we are, and here's a little more apple mania to eat up:

The apple peeler/corer/slicer. Seriously, what did we do before this?

I thought a few crocheted apples would help celebrate our abundance. (As you may already know, I'm crazy for these crochet patterns—this one is by Amy Gaines. I have mentioned them a couple times before: here and here).

Plenty of applesauce, ready for the freezer.

And some more of those caramels, because caramels should never be too far from so many apples.

The World's Biggest Apple?

A few images worth sharing with you today:

Mud puddle fun!

A little project I have been working on. I'll show you more, including what's inside, soon. (It's a gift, and I have to give it before I can fully share it)

And, quite possibly, the world's biggest apple. It measures six inches in height and 13 inches in girth (yeah, I really did measure it). Do you think this apple alone could fill an apple pie?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nature's Prizes

Nature tables (or nature corners) are places where folks place their collection of treasures found in nature. The objects change with the seasons, naturally, and serve as a connection to the landscape we live within. They can include seasonal crafted items and artwork, as well.

We don't really have one dedicated spot in our home to showcase all our finds from the world outside. Instead, we have bits of nature scattered about the house—artful arrangements here, haphazard piles there. Some are permanent works in our collection, like our shells and sea glass, others come and go, are used to create art, or eventually get tossed back outside to make room for current finds.

We really love our cache of nature's prizes and seasonal artwork, so we're excited to participate in the Seasons Round Exchange for the first time. It is an exchange of items from our nature corners, centered around an appropriate seasonal theme. The exchange's creator came up with the idea as a way to keep the magic of the nature table alive for her children. The hope is that the exchange will bring the joy of the seasons to our homes and hearts.

We're curious to find out where we'll be sending out our package to, we're inspired to find and create a small handful of treasures to send out, and we're so looking forward to receiving a package from our partner! I'll be sure to share our experience as we go along.

The theme of the current exchange is Winter {light}, and sign ups are happening on the Seasons Round site right now, but limited to 100 participants (So, quick! Sign up to be a part of this!).

Thursday, October 1, 2009


The following was in the email update I got from Slow Family Living yesterday, and I thought I'd pass it on:

What we appreciate, appreciates.
What are you appreciating right now?
And now?
And now?
And now?