Catching Up

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Not quite sure how we got to mid-January. I had the best intentions of blogging throughout the holidays but obviously I didn’t. I didn’t even do a year-in-review. ¬†Oh well, time to move forward. ūüôā I probably made more gifts this year than I have in years past but as a total rookie blogger, I didn’t take any good pictures of what I made. ¬†The two photos up top were taken with my phone at my Mom’s house after I had already gifted the items. It didn’t even occur to me to take the pictures until after so I snagged them back for a quick picture. ¬†So there is obviously zero photo-styling going on those shots. ¬†Haha. ¬†I made the Honey Cowl¬†for my sister Lonnie. ¬†I loved, loved, loved this pattern and knitting with Madeline Tosh DK. ¬†The tote is the Wool + Wax Tote¬†from Making:FAUNA. I made this for my sister-in-law Lori and I loved making this tote, too. ¬†I plan to make another one for myself. ¬†I really liked working with waxed canvas and how much structure it provided to the bag. ¬†We made a ton of soaps, orange oil and beeswax salves and apple cinnamon lip balm but I only got pictures of the soaps. ¬†We did two kinds of soap – a honey buttermilk cold process soap and a honey goat’s milk soap made with a soap base. ¬†I think both kinds came out great and I loved the molds that we found to fit with our honey and bee theme. Those adorable mugs were made by Ceara for her friends. ¬†She saw the idea on Pinterest (you use a gold Sharpie and letter stencils) and they came out so awesome. ¬†She filled them with some soaps and lip balms.

December seems like a million years ago now. ¬†We had a wonderful, relaxing holiday week together. ¬†It was so nice that we were all off from work and school. ¬†We went to the Vineyard for Christmas in Edgartown earlier in the month. ¬†It was freezing on the day of the parade. ¬†Last year it was so warm, we didn’t even wear jackets and this year, we could barely stand to walk around. But the parade is always so charming and the locals do such a good job making it a fun event.

2017 is off to a good but busy start. ¬†I am really committed to making the time to be creative this year and I am hoping to take on some new challenges and even a creative adventure. ¬†Last week, I won my first-ever Instagram giveaway – 10 gorgeous skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Arbor from Squam Art Workshops! ¬†I was ridiculously excited about it and a little dorky. ¬†The yarn is so soft and ¬†I can’t wait to make something with it but I need to finish a few projects first. I owe Sean a hat, though, so I may just have to cast on for that. He is not much for wool but this yarn is so soft, it may change his mind.

One of my challenges for the year is to learn to take better photos and hopefully, in turn, improve my blogging game. ¬†The two photos on the bottom were taken after the first “lesson” in an on-line photo course I signed up for. ¬†I have had a pretty decent DSLR camera for almost 10 years. ¬†However, I always take photos in auto-mode and I have never been able to take a photo in low light or actually capture a light bulb or a fire or anything of that nature. I have tried a million times. ¬†But after this lesson and getting out my manual and playing around for awhile – success!! That’s the only reason for posting that. Haha. The bottom one of the succulents was taken after playing around with aperture. ¬†So let’s hope that 2017 brings more photos like the bottom and less like the top. xo

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. ūüôā ¬†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

Home

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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

Fall Insanity

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Everyone says that September is the craziest but I seriously underestimated how crazy re-entry would be this year. ¬†I definitely have not yet found the rhythm of our schedule and how to fit in all the projects I want to do with work, the kid’s schedules and keeping the house running (ha!). How we got to October, I will never know, but here we are!

It has been really warm here, with only a couple of light frosts, so the garden is still going. The veggies in the raised beds are growing like crazy – except for the Swiss Chard. ¬†We are getting tons of arugula, the Kale looks strong and in the Spring, we will have a bunch of carrots and parsnips – if I can mange to keep the chipmunks from eating them. ¬†The chipmunks have been brutal this year, and have been the biggest threat to our tomatoes, which is totally annoying. ¬†That said, we are still bringing tomatoes out of the garden everyday. We have roasted and canned some and as in years past, I have been just chopping and freezing tomatoes in dinner-sized portions. ¬†When we make pasta, eggplant and mint or Puttanesca, I just take them right out of the freezer to roast. ¬†It’s a huge timesaver, especially when most of the tomatoes are coming out in September right when your schedule gets crazy. ¬†The tomato tart above is a favorite in our fam – even with Ceara who doesn’t love tomatoes. ¬†You just roll out some puff pastry dough, put shredded parm on the dough, layer with plum tomatoes and finish off with fresh thyme, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. ¬†You have to roll up the edges a little but otherwise just bake according to directions. ¬†It’s so good.

I finished my Ramona cardigan. ¬†Forgive the ridiculous picture but since I wanted to get this post up, I had Ceara snap a few photos. We were going for a run and I literally said, before I change, can you just take a few pictures of me in my sweater? I put the sweater on and we ran outside. ¬†Hence the baseball hat. No photo styling here. ¬†Haha. The sweater was knit with Quince and Co. Puffin yarn in a color called Carrie’s Yellow. ¬†I’m not really a yellow person and never wear yellow so I’m not sure why I bought this¬†color¬†but I bought four skeins of this yarn more than five years ago. ¬†Maybe even longer that. ¬†It was the first “good yarn” that I ever bought, i.e., not from JoAnn’s. ¬†I have no idea why I never did anything with it right away but it has been sitting in my stash for a LONG time. ¬†At some point last spring, I was going through yarn to see what I had and I decided that this summer I would use it to knit a cardigan for myself. ¬†I knew it would be super squishy and rustic and it will be perfect for hanging out on weekends. ¬†It’s actually meant to be more of a fitted cardigan but I made it bigger because I knew it would be a hangout sweater. ¬†In addition to making a larger size than I wear, I added some length to the body and I made the sleeves a little wider so it could fit over things. ¬†Originally I had a ribbed cuff on the sleeves but when it was done blocking, I decided I didn’t like how baggy the sleeves were with the ribbed binding so I ripped it off and just kept the sleeves with a rolled edge. I had to order additional skeins from Quince (twice!) so there are different dye lots in there and well, let’s just say it wouldn’t win any awards. ¬†But I am happy that it is done and ready for outdoor firepits!

I am in full swing knitting and planning for Christmas and the bowl of yarn is some that I ordered for gifts. ¬†The dusty purple is Worsted Twist from Purl is already on the needles for a sweater for my cousin’s daughter and the blues are Quince and Co. Lark and they are destined for hats.

We are all decorated for Halloween and Teagan is off-the-wall excited. ¬†I’ll save those pics for another post because this is getting too long. xo

 

Brioche

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It has been so hot. ¬†The longest stretch of hot weather that I can remember, ¬†though the news is saying that we are still far off from the record in 2010. ¬†Teagan was three that summer though so I’m sure the days were just blending into one another. ¬†I can’t remember it. ¬†But I love this weather. Sean and I are the exact opposite. I’m in an office most days of the week and I can’t wait to get outside, out of the A/C. ¬†He’s outside all day and can’t wait to get inside and out of the sun.

This weekend Sean brought home two chairs and a little table for me for the deck.  They still need to be painted but they are perfect for the spot and exactly what I was looking for. I hung out there as much as possible this weekend, and am already envisioning sitting there with a blanket, knitting in the fall.

Above is the two-color brioche cowl from Purl Soho. ¬†I bought the yarn for this cowl when they first posted the project a few¬†five (I just checked. eek!) years ago. ¬†Last week, I finally decided to cast-on and holy cow, I just could not get the hang of this. ¬†I easily frogged this and started over 15 times. ¬†It was driving me crazy. ¬†Finally, yesterday something clicked and I found the rhythm. ¬†Now I don’t want to put it down. ¬†Very happy that we have a couple of road trips coming up. ¬†Hoping to finish this and my Ramona sweater — another project that I bought the yarn for a REALLY long time ago. xo

P.S.  Baby watermelon!

In the Summer Groove

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There’s something about this year that the summer really feels like summer. ¬†I’m not sure how to explain it ¬†but even with work and summer softball, I really feel like I have been soaking it in. ¬†The kids seemed more relaxed, too. ¬†I’m so glad we took it easy on the camps this year and that I was able to work from home more and have my mom and my mother-in-law watch the girls. ¬†Growing up with a mother who was a teacher (at least when I was young), I was always able to be home, in my own house, playing in my own yard during the summer. ¬†I think that’s what made it feel like it lasted so long and what made it feel like such a break. ¬†When everything is over-scheduled, it goes by in a blur. ¬†With Ceara turning 13 this week, I am fully-appreciating how fleeting these childhood days are and I’m glad that we have had some good family time and that they have been able to relax and swim and hang out with their friends. ¬†I am also so glad that they have had this time with their grandmothers. ¬†I’m feeling pretty lucky that we have that as an option because I know lots of people don’t.

After finishing my beach tank, I wanted to knit something that was relatively quick and I wanted to start my Christmas gift-making in earnest. ¬†I had pinned this Drop Stitch Cowl last year thinking I might make it for someone but never did. ¬†It came together really quickly. ¬†I like it but don’t love it so I think I might experiment with weaving in a color or two.

I’m not sure what to say about the number of butternut squash, cucumbers and pumpkins we have. ¬†It’s like a full-time job guiding the vines away from the tomatoes and eggplants! I knew I was putting too much in the space but I have to admit it’s a little out of control. ¬†I also feel like the bees are really helping the garden this year. ¬†Last year, I felt like I never saw any of our bees in the garden and this year, you can’t look in a flower and not see a bee. ¬†It’s pretty incredible. xo

The Beach and Beach Tank

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We went to Martha’s Vineyard for the 4th with some friends and it was the perfect get-away. ¬†The weather could not have been better and we were all just happy to be off the grid (kind of) for a few days. ¬†We had an awesome beach day at Chappaquiddick, with barely anyone else in sight. ¬†It was like having the beach to ourselves. ¬†The water was gorgeous and the sunset views could not be beat. ¬†MV is definitely our happy place and we feel really lucky to have friends there. While the trip was mostly about relaxing, we kept up with tradition and ran the “Run the Chop” 5 miler. ¬†Ceara and I also got some one-on-one time on Sunday to go shopping and get lunch. ¬†We hit up our favorite shops in Vineyard Haven and had lunch outside at Black Dog. ¬†It was such a nice day.

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I also met my goal and finished the Beach Tank in time to wear it for the 4th of July parade and lunch in Edgartown. ¬†I am ridiculously proud of this tank top. ¬†Even though it was a super easy project, it is the first garment (not accessory) I have ever knit for myself that I have actually been able to wear and can’t wait to wear again. ¬†This isn’t the best picture but as I mentioned before, I followed this pattern. ¬† Because I have such a long torso, I added on about 3 extra inches and it falls right to my hip bones. ¬†It is intended to be a cropped tank but I knew I wanted it be longer. ¬†I loved knitting this so much and want to see if I can make a long sleeve version with the same yarn combination. It is so soft. ¬†I’m thinking a wide neck and loose sleeves. ¬†xo