Thankful

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I really thought I would be blogging more regularly but for now, in this stage of life, I will have to settle for a catch-up blog.  Earlier this fall, we took Teagan’s Girl Scout troop to a local Audubon wildlife sanctuary to work on their animal habitat badge.  I have driven by this place about a hundred times but in my 14 years living here, have never gone until we were forced to find a place quickly because our original place cancelled our tour. It was so beautiful and peaceful; we just had to go back with Sean and Ceara when we had a free afternoon. Now that I know what a great place it is, I can’t wait to go back in the spring when we might be able to see the osprey that live in that nest.

We have been playing with air dry clay a little bit and we made these little ornaments for a fundraiser at my work.  They were the perfect thing for people who only wanted to spend a couple of dollars and they were really fun to make. The girls made a few other treasures that are still getting some finishing touches.  A few of the things they made are for Christmas gifts and I am impressed with how much time and detail they have put into their creations.

I had bought this Rifle Paper & Co fabric with the intention of turning it into little zip pouches for Christmas gifts but after looking at it for a little while, I knew that the gold would be perfect with my china so I decided to made a quick table runner.  I absolutely love the way it came out and it looks even better without the table-cloth underneath. The navy and gold combination feels really holiday-ish without being too fall or too Christmassy.  I balanced all the gold with some burlap silverware holders.  Can’t be too fancy. 🙂  I just stitched them up with a navy blue zig-zag stitch and cut up a Target dollar bin garland for some greenery.  But we had to keep with tradition; so we displayed the pilgrim napkin rings that we made about 5 years ago and of course, we made our pilgrim hats, which are just chocolate covered marshmallows on top of upside-down Fudge Stripe cookies.  I think I saw the idea (as well as the pilgrim napkin rings) in some issue of Family Fun a million years ago but it has stuck and they will probably always be on our Thanksgiving menu!

I finished the Livie cardigan that I knit for my cousin’s daughter and I am really happy with how it came out.  The yarn is incredibly soft and I was thrilled to find a button that matched perfectly in the jars of buttons that I inherited from Sean’s grandmother.  I still have a lot of knitting and sewing to go before Christmas but I am making progress and enjoying making as much as I can.

Speaking of that, we made our first batch of soap with honey from the bees!  We made a honey/ginger/orange/buttermilk soap and it smells amazing.  We used a recipe from Pure Soapmaking but made a few tweaks that didn’t mess with the critical parts of the recipe. I was a little nervous about working with lye (even with all the precautions) so I had my trusty assistant take on that part but my fear was a little overboard and I am ready to take it on for the next batches.  Since soap has to cure for four weeks, we have to make more this week if we want to have it ready for Christmas.  Our goal is to be able to make a few different things with honey and/or beeswax to give out as gifts.  I am so excited to finally be able to make stuff from our hives.  xo

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After being away for a work trip, it was so great to get home. I arrived to a clean kitchen (bliss!), flowers and some homemade cards. The pink card was supposed to be sent to me while I was away but it never made it in the mail. Good thing, because I definitely didn’t have a lot of time to be looking for fairies and vampires. The weather has been crazy so all of our spiderwebs are mangled and full of leaves. Guess that makes them even more spooky??  Teagan wanted a big spider on the house but I couldn’t find any more in the stores when I went so we decided to make one. We used a styrofoam dome that we painted black and two hula hoops that we cut into quarters. We just wrapped the “legs” in chunky black yarn and stuck them into the foam.

Sadly, right before I left, we lost one of our bunnies. His name was Penny and he was really cute and friendly. The kids were devastated. While I was gone, Sean and the girls decided that the remaining bunny (S’mores) was lonely so they got him a friend. They still haven’t decided on a name for him yet but at the moment all possible ideas revolve around Harry Potter characters and characters from Madagascar.

I am flying through the Livie I am knitting for my cousin’s daughter. I love this sweater and this yarn. I hope it fits her. I also can’t wait to make it again in a different color. I see now why people love to knit for babies. So fast. The last child-sized garment I knit was a sweater for Ceara when she was 3 and 1/2 and she refused to wear it. It was bright blue (her favorite color at the time) so when it came time that Teagan could wear it, she wouldn’t wear it either because she only wore pink and purple at that age. Sigh.

After being away and eating way too much restaurant food, I was dying to get back in the kitchen.  Before I left, I took a few cookbooks out of the library – one of my favorite things to do.  One was Mad Hungry – Feeding Men and Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn.  I have actually taken this out before and wanted to make these beef empanadas the last time.  The have the craziest combination of ingredients – onions, peppers, raisins, honey, cumin and pimento olives but they were so, so good.  The picture is not very good – actually in hindsight kind of gross looking – but trust me that the filling is so good and authentic tasting.  I think the filling would make great appetizers in little phyllo cups.  Then, I had to try and re-create this AMAZING salad that I had at Bluebeard in Indianapolis.  We shared it as an appetizer and our whole team loved it.  I came pretty close, I think.  Sean is not a fan of butternut squash and he said, “I didn’t think I was going to like this salad but I love it.” Ingredients: butternut squash (roasted with olive oil, s&p and a little maple syrup), pancetta, shallots (i cooked them with the pancetta), currants, pepitas, shaved manchego, arugula and basil.  Roast the butternut squash, adding the currants for the last 10 minutes, combine with arugula and basil so that it wilts, add pancetta and shallots, dress with vinaigrette and finish with manchego and pepitas.  It is AMAZING! (all caps needed again) For the vinaigrette, I reduced a cup and 1/2 of sparkling apple cider and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, then I whisked it together with a 1/2 cup of olive oil, a couple squirts of dijon and s&p.  Making this all fall – since I have about 10,000 butternut squash. xo

Throwback Crafting

ribbon barettes

For more years than I can remember, I have wanted a place to journal the projects that I do and that we do as a family at our house on Cross Street.  Since blogs seem to being falling by the wayside, it seems like the perfect time to jump in. 🙂 Because this will really be a journal, it will likely be a mix of the things that bring us joy.  Everything from gardening to knitting to beekeeping and homemade bath products.

As a young girl in the 80s, I loved making the ribbon barrettes you see above.  I usually only made two color ones.  I resurrected the idea for my Brownie troop’s bridging ceremony but used rainbow colors to symbolize the rainbow bridge used in Girl Scouts. They were a hit but maybe more for the moms.  The key with these barrettes is to make sure that you cut your lengths of ribbon long enough and that you keep pushing the braid up – especially at the beginning.  This is a good tutorial.    xo