Monday, June 29, 2009

The sweater (and a bag)

It's been finished for almost a month, but finally, photos of the February Lady Sweater are here! I haven't any photos of it actually on me, though - no time for those shenanigans...
I'm really happy with it, though there are a couple mistakes. For instance, I somehow managed to mess up the raglan shape on one side, so that it doesn't go to the armpit, like on the other side (you'll notice in the picture). Also, not quite sure how it happened, but the pattern on the sleeves is nice and open, as it should be, but the body is rather different. I did it exactly the same, but there we are. In spite of inperfection, I loved knitting it. Highly recommend it. Now, if only the temperature will drop enough to wear it...

Because I'm rather sure she doesn't look at the blog, I'll also take the opportunity to show off another Amy Butler Nappy Bag I made for a new-mom friend (actually, new mom isn't accurate - gorgeous little Jovie is baby number 4). A couple of changes from the pattern were involved, including making it fully reversable. I'm thinking of designing my own type of bag, as Ms. Butler would rather frowns upon selling items made from her patterns. Fair enough.

My secret triumph involved using a repurposed pillowcase to line the pockets. Mmmm, flannel....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An abbrieviated camping trip

Toby took Friday off, so we packed up the car, canoe and dog for a little trip to Elk Neck. As one of Maryland's state parks, we were familiar with the set up, so it took little to settle in.

There's something about the setting up of a tent that inspires awe in my children. Maybe I should take them to a barn-raising...

We went for a 2-mile walk down to the water and had a grand ole' time. I think Thor may have enjoyed himself more than anyone.

Abi was really excited to spot the black rat snake - as was everyone else!

In the evening we did the whole campfire-cooking-washing-"I can't sleep"thing. Which is cool - all part of the camping experience...until...bedtime.

One by one, the kids fell asleep. Thor settled down to sleep on Noah's mat. Ma & Pa closed our eyes.

First, there was the buzzing. The buzzing of one or two die-hard mosquitoes. Didn't worry, though they were a little annoying. Then, Noah started crying. In his sleep. Apparently, he does this regularly ( I don't tend to hear much in my sleep, and Toby is a much lighter sleeper than I). He eventually settles down in our bed, in Daddy's arms. So sweet.

The next thing I know, my back, shoulder and neck are being lacerated by my son's toenails as he proceeds to climb me in his sleep. Some adjustments are made. Drifting off again, still with the buzzing. Sheets over head to protect face. Next, someone needs a wee-wee. Back to bed, laughing with Toby over the ludicrousness of it all. Toby gets hiccoughs and curses my good name for giving them to him. Almost wet myself.

Several more ups and downs in the night. Finally give up sleep around 5.30am, when Anna announces, "It's morning! Everyone, get up!" As we comply, we notice a change in our youngest child:

Stupid, stinking bugs have disfigured my baby!!!
Abigail didn't fair much better, Anna had a fair few bites (though her face seemed to be protected by pillow and hair) and Noah was harboring several ticks upon his little person. Blech.

While preparing for breakfast and the new day, we notice the sky. Grey. Dull. Forbidding. Not good. We decide to start packing up the tent and load the car, with a view toward launching the canoe before lunch.

Thunder rolls, at first distantly, but growing in persistence. Hmm. Perhaps the canoe-thing won't happen? Concentrate on the tent. Finally, at 8.30am, the tent is empty (though still fully erect), the kids are enjoying a Haley Mills movie in the car, and the heavens open. So much for trying to avoid packing up a wet tent. By 9am, we are wet to the bone and the car reeks of wet dog, but all is packed and everyone's laughing as we head for home.

I'm not sure if we had fun because of our calamities or in spite of them, but it was definitely God's grace to us that we enjoyed our trip, regardless of the circumstances. We're even looking forward to the next trip (with a few more bottles of bug spray).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Mini-Kitchen

My kids used to have a plastic play kitchen that served them well for years. That is, until Noah was old enough to play with it - that is, take it apart. So once it reached the point of irrepairability, we needed to come up with something new. I would love to get the kids a nice wooden one, but that's a bit out of the budget at the moment. So here's my idea:
Something that is inexpensive, doesn't take up too much room, and that the kids can put away when they're finished. In short, something I made. Like this:

Made with an assortment of scraps, including some yo-yos I made a while back.

Mustn't forget the sparkly buttons!

If anyone else is in the market for one, let me know - I've got plenty of scraps!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Elderflower Cordial

Not too many folks in this area know what this is, so I feel duty-bound to educate you - after all, you don't know what you're missing! For those who have found IKEA's version - please. It doesn't hold a candle to what you'd make yourself.

First, you need to know what an elderflower looks like. Elder is a shrub that tends to grow along roadsides and in fields, with lovely flowers that look like this:

Please, please, PLEASE be sure you're picking the right flowers - I don't want anyone making a lovely cocktail of Deadly Nightshade, or something...

Once you're sure you've found the right thing, you proceed as follows:

Pick 30 or so heads of elderflowers. Snip them from the main stalk. Scrub and slice 2 lemons and add to flowers, 2oz/50g citric acid (can be ordered online), and 2kg sugar in a big bowl you won't need for a few days. Bring 2 1/2 pints of water to boil and pour over the mixture. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, cover with a cloth or plate and leave for five days. Feel free to stir each day, if you're so inclined.

On day 5, Line a colander with a thin cloth (muslin is what we use) and set over a large mixing bowl. Tip the elderflower mix into the colander and let the cordial strain through to the bowl. Discard everything left behind.

You should store this in a sterilized glass bottle, but we're fresh out, so I poured it into a cleaned out plastic juice bottle, and we haven't perished (yet) Let the record show, I did say "sterilized glass bottle", though.

Since most Americans are unfamiliar with cordial, let me tell you right now - you don't drink this stuff straight! Blech. It's pretty strong - I put less than an inch in a tall glass and top it up with cold water. Another popular option is soda water. However you wanna roll...

Once you've made this, it'll change you. You'll turn into a tortured soul that always travels with scissors and a plastic bag, scouring roadsides and shouting, "There! In that gully! There's some there - can we stop?" while travelling 70 mph on the interstate. So don't say I didn't warn you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's all too quick

My oh my, where does the time go?

First it's this:
Here I am, minding my own business, when my sweet little pixie hits another milestone. Mind you, it's still a tentative, "I'm not quite sure how I did it myself"-type milestone, but still.

And then, just yesterday, it's Anna. The girl with the mile-wide smile. But now, her smile's different(not to mention, sleepy)...

And now Noah is getting "man" lessons from "The Man".

If anyone knows of anyway to slow it all down, please let me know.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reading Material

You may notice that I am still reading. You may also notice that I have neglected to comment on recently finished books. Apologies - kind of got out of the habit...

Briefly, then:

Girl Talk - A helpful, biblical appraisal and celebration of a mother's opportunity and obi ligation to speak into her daughter's life and train her in righteousness. As a mother, it's convicting and preparative for the phase of my girls' lives when our relationship changes from cop to coach. As a daughter, it was a little harder to related to, but by no means inapplicable. I'm sure I have much to learn from my mom!
Spurgeon - If ever there has been an individual who has expended his all for the glory of God, it's Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Reading this book has been getting to know him, and finishing it has been like losing a friend. Can't wait to meet him...
The Gospel Primer - I used this for a devotional for a while, and it was a great blessing in reminding me the preach the gospel to myself everyday, and just the impact that the gospel has on every area of life. I think it'll be one that I come back to regularly.
Worldliness - More than just a "How to flirt with fun in the world and still call yourself a Christian without committing some gross sin", Worldliness has been, for me, something of a manual for how to enjoy the beauties and blessings in this world without being seduced by it's corruption. Music is God's gift - would He be glorified by what I listen to and how much? It's a joy to dress beautifully, but do my clothes honor God and bless others, or cause them to stumble? Rather than providing a list of rules to follow (the legalist in me would like that), this book shows you how to examine your own heart and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal areas where you need to enjoy the Giver more, and not just the gift.
Currently reading Desiring God and Christy. Enjoying both immensely!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Playing princesses... the treehouse. Isn't that where all princess spend their time?

With a few of it's funky features?

Aren't those builder-types so clever?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sewing seeds

A modest attempt at a skirt and a pair of shorts for the Sewing Seeds project...

...and a nifty idea for a baby dress: onesie with a skirt!

I know it needs an iron, but the model doesn't seem to care

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One size fits...none

I made Noah a hat. He has a rather large head, and outgrew his hat from last year quite quickly.
I didn't use a pattern (mistake number one).
I did only rough estimates of measurements (mistake number two).
I made the whole thing without trying it on him at different points along the way (mistake number three).

And what do we have? A massive cloth bucket that no head could ever hope to fill.
If it's too big for Mom and Dad, it's way too big for a two-year old. So what does one do with such a monstrosity? Cut a couple of holes in it and make it a tea cozy? Have a go at resizing the stinker and hope for the best? Or just save it for my wall of shame?
At least it's one (or three) mistake(s) less to make for next time...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Do ya a swap?

Well, thanks to some good seeds (from here, for those interested), I've got more plants than I have room for. Anyone in need of cucumber, zucchini, or beans? If anyone has anything for trade, I'd be interested in peppers, eggplant, for any partial-shade flower. If you'd like something I've got but don't have anything to trade, no problem - we don't stand on ceremony around here...