Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I chased her with my camera

Finally! A smile from my little cupcake girl!

Yarn Along - two hats finished!

I typically don't model my own handknits ( I usually get my super cute sister to model for me), but it had to be done today so that I could get my Yarn Along post up in time.  I've been busy knitting away the past few weeks. I did a huge inventory of all my knitting supplies in hopes that I could reduce the amount of  projects in gallon-size Ziplocs.  I organized all my yarn.  I bought a few new patterns and I unraveled the in-progress Wallaby sweater I started for Luke two years ago.  He had picked out crazy variegated yarn, but since then, he's grown out of the yarn he chose.  I can completely understand that.  I don't mind the unraveling.  I'm a better knitter now than when I started the sweater. I also know how to choose yarn better. Plus, it gives me a reason to buy more sweater yarn.

 Anyway,  I knit the Garter Ridge hat from this book.  I made this one for a friend who looks lovely in Autumnal colors of burnt orange and deep brown.  I love the look of this hat and the brown yarn tones down the orange a little.  I just have to block it a little so that it won't curl so much on the bottom.  It's four rows of brown garter which gives this simple hat a little structure.

Here it is again up close.  Too bad there's a glare. 

It's me again!  It's the same hat as above, but this time I used Mission Falls
1824 wool and a little of Quince & Co.  Lark in Peacock for the garter ridges. 
I bought only one skein of the Mission Falls thinking it might just be enough
for the hat, but at only 85 yards per skein,  I needed just a little bit more. I knew it would be barely enough, but I
suppose I was too cheap to buy two skeins at once. Now, I have almost a full skein left over.  It turns out that Mission Falls has gone out
of business.  So, if you like this yarn, go stock up now!
Here's another view.  My jogless jog isn't great looking.  So, I'm disappointed with this hat. Color changes need work!

Okay, now onto the books.  I'm still reading One Thousand Gifts
I originally bought this for my Kindle, but I bought the hardcover as well.
Something about this book just needs to be read the old-fashioned way!
I also am perusing Simplify because I want to do more quilting this year.
I have plans for at least two quilts, but a little inspiration doesn't hurt.

My current project on the needles is the Irish Hiking Hat.  After this hat, I'm
taking a break from knitting hats!  This one's for my hubby. I've been
promising him a hat for a VERY long time.  It's time to deliver
on that promise.

Do visit Ginny for more  knitting and books!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cooking simple

I saw this cook book at Barnes & Noble sometime before Christmas.  I think I was sucked in by that shopping bag filled with all that fresh produce. There was something simple and inviting about it. Anyway, while I was at the bookstore, I perused its pages slowly. I love looking at cook books and this book was no exception.  I didn't know who Claire Robinson was since I rarely get a chance to watch the Food Network, but I was inspired by her philosophy of cooking delicious food with minimal ingredients.  So, later on, I checked out this cookbook from the library so I could enjoy it a little longer. I didn't have plans to purchase the book, but, I did.  Did I really need another cook book? No, I did not. In fact, I don't have room for all the ones I own now, but I love cookbooks. There are plenty of fancy dishes here using her 5 ingredient philosophy, but there are some simple inspiring dishes as well.  I like that she simplifies cooking without making her dishes seem plain or lacking.

In the letter to her readers, Claire Robinson writes about both her grandmother and her mother, but it was the advice her grandmother gave her that struck a chord with me. Claire's grandmother suggested that she learn a handful of dishes well.  This got me thinking. I like to try making new things, but I do spend an inordinate amount of time referring back to the recipe and that sometimes makes cooking new things unappealing.  So, I started thinking about learning to make ten or so dishes really well so that I could gain that ease and confidence in the kitchen.  Learn a handful of dishes well.  What other advice could simplify meal prep more? Would this make cooking even more fun? I'm sure it would. There are several soups that I love to make during the cold Winter months, but I still have to look at the recipes. Wouldn't it be nice to memorize the recipes so that I could have more energy to put my heart and soul into the meal for my family??  See how less can be more?

My word for the new year

(I started writing this on January 3rd, but I didn't publish it until today, January 18th.)
So we took down the Christmas tree today.  We had intended to do this yesterday, but we chose to nap instead.  In these past few sleep-deprived months, I have to say that it was the best nap ever and I made the right choice to sleep instead of put the Christmas decorations away.  Typically, we'd leave the Christmas tree up a few days after New Year's until Epiphany, but the past couple of years, I've recognized a need to get back to normal a little sooner. There's something comforting about packing away all the holiday decorations.  They're all tucked away for another year. Don't get me wrong.  I love getting the Advent calendar out for the kids and the Fisher Price Nativity play set, but I also love putting these things away too. I did leave out the beautiful red candles we bought this year. They look so cozy on the mantel.  My husband loves candles, but I never really put them out, but I discovered that warm glow this season and well, the candles stay.  With the new year comes a return to normal life.  Again, I'm drawn to simplicity-- everything in its place, winter coziness and slower rhythms.  I'm ready to turn out the Christmas lights and settle into Winter. 

 This time last year, I was so motivated with plans for the new year. Looking back at my blog for January last year, I had so much energy and so much excitement for the new year. Then, we found out we were expecting!  I don't mean to sound like I wasn't excited. I was, but that pregnancy knocked me flat early on and we soon discovered the reason--identical twins!  Although I was excited about the twins, I felt like I was in some type of fog for the remainder of my pregnancy and thus, I just didn't feel like myself during most of 2010. I hardly blogged at all and when I did, I mostly posted pictures. Without much energy, I let so much go (not willingly nor happily), but I'm happy to say that I'm back!  Every day, I feel a little more ready to tackle so many more projects around my house.  Each day, I feel my creative juices flowing again and I'm ready for the new year.

I don't typically make New Year's resolutions, but I start making plans--lots and lots of plans (reading plans, homeschool plans, knitting plans, cooking plans, etc). I'm pondering all that planning going on inside my head and I realize that this new year is the year that I should slow down a bit (not like I did when I was pregnant with Liam and James), but slow down in a different way.

I realize that I need to focus on fewer things not more (even if I can).  I need to de-clutter my brain as well as the space around me. Simplicity. I need to apply this to our daily meals, to homeschooling, to knitting, to housecleaning, to reading...all of it. I set big goals for myself, but I need to relax and calm down.  I don't need to set reading goals. It's not like I'm going to stop reading.  I sometimes wake up feeling like life is a race to get everything done, but it doesn't have to feel like a race against the clock. Does it?  I want to be a gentle calming presence for my family. I want to discover joy in the calm.  So, my  word of the new year is....


A boy's life

This book encourages the kind of life I want for my boys.  As a mother of now four boys,  I know this book is a keeper.  Alice Cantrell's Tin Cups & Tinder gently introduces outdoor skills to boys.  In a way, this book reminds me of The Dangerous Book for Boys in that encourages boys to go out and have great adventures!  I especially like the section on cooking.  I think it's important for children to learn to cook basic things.  My oldest son often joins me in the kitchen and as a cautionary tale, I often tell him that I left home for college only knowing how to scramble eggs and make peanut butter sandwiches.  There's both campfire cooking recipes and indoor recipes here. 

There are beautiful clear photos scattered throughout  with step-by-step illustrated instructions for some of the projects.  I like the section on assembling a mess kit and collecting essentials for a day pack.  This book truly encourages boys (and girls too) to get outside, to enjoy God's creation and to use their imaginations.  With the help of this book, soon you might just have a Sam Gribley on your hands. 

I truly appreciate books that revive some of these lost Boy Scout skills.  It's important to teach our children self-reliance and Alice's book gently teaches these skills with a creative and artistic approach.  Her book may spark a life-long interest in camping, bird-watching, carving, whittling, cooking or keeping a nature journal. It's beautiful world.  Go out and get lost in the great outdoors!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Just some cuteness


The Snugglers


Little T does bug Sam sometimes.

Luke reading to little T before bed

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Yarn Along 2 - Too many projects!

Okay, it looks like the last time I posted it was for the yarn along.  I'm really not posting very much these days. I have drafts saved, but somehow I never find the time to finish them and by the time I get back to them, the moment has passed. I do think my lack of posting might have something to do with the twins who will be three months old tomorrow!

Anyway, I was digging around in my knitting bag and discovered way too many Ziploc baggies filled with not-quite-finished projects.  I'm learning that I knit the way I read books.  I can't read just one book at a time (no matter how much I try) and I can't knit one thing at a time either.  I just get so excited about my next project and the yarn I'll use that I just get out another gallon-size Ziploc baggie and cast on!

So, here's a pic of most of the contents of my knitting bag:

So, I'm making a hat out of 60 Quick Knits and perusing both Turkish Delight and Treasure Hunts and Knitting in the DetailsI started a new novel on the Kindle and that's why it's not shown and I'm listening to another novel on my MP3 player.  I'm still reading Ann Voskamp's A Thousand Gifts as well. 

Typically, at night, when the house is quiet and all the kids are in bed, I'll sit in my own bed, listen to a novel on my MP3 player and knit.  It's the best of both worlds.  I hope to have that bright pink Hermione Hat (pictured in the lower right hand corner) done by Friday.  See? I've made progress since my last yarn along on the Hermione Hat! 

Thanks again Ginny for hosting the weekly Yarn Along.  It will be exciting to chronicle a year's worth of reading and knitting on Wednesdays!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year Yarn Along

Here's my current project.  I just cast on for another Hermione hat last night.  I don't know how many of these hats I've made, but it's such a fun hat.  I'm making this one for a friend's little girl.  After this one, I'm going to take a break from this pattern for a long while!  I finished this hat just the other night, but I thought I better show an in-progress project for Ginny's Yarn Along even if I haven't gotten very far yet.  Okay, so you can't see what I'm reading because it's my cool new green Kindle cover! My hubby got me a Kindle for Christmas and it's just awesome!  I've already downloaded several books and a couple of cookbooks too!  Right now, I'm reading A Thousand Gifts which is currently only available on Kindle!  I've included a cover of the book below because it's just so pretty and inviting!
I also organized my yarn basket.  I took out every skein and hank and organized them.  I love looking at my yarn basket.  It always makes me feel like I live in a very cozy house.  A home needs both yarn and books to be cozy!
I love the cover of this book.  That's the only drawback of the Kindle.  I can't enjoy beautiful artwork and photos like this one!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My first finished handknit item of 2011

I started this hat a few days ago using yarn from Quince.  I used Bird's Egg and Peacock for this simple hat.  Now, it's time to organize my knitting bag for the new year!