Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Warm wishes from our home to yours.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Baked Butternut Squash Soup

I made a pot of this great soup during our recent arctic weather. I love the combination of sweet and savory. It's really versatile and can easily be adjusted to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Enjoy!

Step one:
Quarter the squash. Scoop out the seeds. Turn upside down onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, until soft.

Step two:
Remove from oven. Let cool enough to handle. Scoop the pulp from the skin and place into soup pot.

Step three:
Into soup pot, add one quart chicken or vegetable stock, 1 Tbsp. butter (optional), 1/8 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp dried thyme, and a few sprinkles of black pepper.

Smooth together with immersion (wand) blender. Heat gently (do not boil). Adjust seasoning as desired. (The broth has enough salt in it for me.)

Step Four:
Ladle into soup bowls and garnish as desired. Options include bacon bits, sour cream, etc. Serve with warm crusty rolls or bread.

Stay warm!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Snow Peeps!

I totally love kid art. I love giving kids the opportunity to tap into their creative juices and see what comes out. It's especially rewarding when the kids are delighted with the result.

Today our class was taken over by these darling little snow people! The original idea came from FamilyFun Magazine. The classroom teacher and I made a few modifications and ta-dah!!! Just look!!

The adults handled the base painting. We used latex semi-gloss house paint, rolling on three coats. The keystone paving bricks really soaked up the first coats.

The eyes and mouth were painted by dipping the eraser end of a new pencil into black acrylic paint, and just "stamping" dots where desired.

The noses were created with Sculpey clay instead of the modeling clay called for. This was really fun to watch as kids played with the clay and creating silly and serious carrot noses. (Finished noses were baked by the teacher.)

Instead of the SuperGlue the directions called for, we used a hot-glue gun. It worked very well, allowing the kids to glue on their own earmuffs and carrot noses. Additionally, the use of the glue gun eliminated the need for wrapping the rubberband around the earmuffs as suggested in the directions.

We substituted real buttons for the painted-on version. We all agreed this just added to their charm and personality! Each kid had their own reasons for picking specific colors, shapes and types of buttons. Fun!

Add a cute little fleece scarf, and they're set. What a great gift!! Why not make a flaky friend with a kid near you?!!

Happy Holidays!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I've really been trying to stay out of stores for a while now. Not only because I'm trying not to spend money, but also because I've been scolding myself about my stash taking over my living space! As you know, I love thrift stores. I (almost) always find something that begs to go home with me to be rescued.

Today, I found myself with an hour between clients in an area close to THREE thrift stores! What a dilemma!! Well, I succumbed to the call...kind of.

In one shop, I found these lovely handknit wool mittens for 99 cents. While they were a pretty shade of yellow, it's just not a color I wear often. A little Kool-Aid later, and I had bright cherry-red mitts!!

I then embroidered them with a bit of recycled white yarn and some sparkly beads. Ta-dah! Christmas mittens!!

My second find was this lovely linen tablecloth. It's hand-embroidered and is in pretty good shape. There is one small hole (about 1 cm) that I think I can cover up with another flower. Not bad.

Okay, so I didn't strictly stay with my "no-stores" plan. I did, however, keep it in control. Kind of like having a bite of a cookie instead of the whole package, right? (I love rationalization, don't you?!)

Sunday, November 09, 2008


So how do you celebrate two milestone birthdays within a few days of each other? You go to Las Vegas!! Zak turned 21 at the end of October, and my brother, Dan, turned 50 a few days later.

The first part of the trip was warm and sunny...a great change from our cold, rainy Pacific Northwest weather. None of us had visited Las Vegas before, so we had tons to explore!

One of our favorite games was BlackJack. Here, Zak and Dan are trying to beat the house at O'Shea's. At night, this place was more like a frat house, complete with Beer Pong, and boisterous crowds!

Halloween on the Strip was a hoot! I didn't take photos of the R- and X-rated costumes, and there were plenty! Quite an experience!

This is what 3:30am in Vegas looks like! I volunteered to be the Designated Driver, freeing up these guys to really party for their birthdays!! A fun time was had by all!

In order to provide a bit of fibery goodness to this knitting blog, here's a shot of airplane knitting. The TSA has lifted their restrictions on carrying knitting and crochet tools. Just to be on the safe side, I brought my bamboo needles instead of metal. No one even mentioned them. Yay!!

I did make it to one Las Vegas LYS...Wooly Wonders. Marian was a sweetheart. I picked up a couple of fun skeins to play with back at home.

One of the best things about our trip was meeting people from all over the world. I sat at tables with folks from Holland, England, Ireland, Germany, Philippines, Japan, Thailand, and many more. (Additionally, most of the US was represented.) Being that we were here in the days leading up to the Presidential Election, the topic of conversation often turned to politics. I was very interested in knowing how people in other countries viewed America. The majority of the people I talked to were hopeful that a Democratic president would be elected.

We didn't get the news that we had a new president until we landed back in Portland. We could hear the cheers from one of the lounges on the concourse! A great way to return!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vegas, Baby!!!

In two days!! Halloween in Las Vegas! Woo-hoo!!!
And, yes...I've already mapped the LYSs!!

Friday, October 24, 2008


I bought this yarn from Crazy Monkey Creations this summer with the idea of making some Halloween socks. It's a beautifully dyed DK-weight cotton and is very soft. However, when I started working with it, it just didn't want to be socks.

Instead, it became a scarf...and not just any scarf. It's Worms! -- a simple crocheted piece that shows off the colors and is perfect for a little accent this season! Wooooooooo!!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Socktoberfest Mystery!

Autumn just sneaked up on me this year. There I was... having a lovely summer, knitting away...and, WHAM!!! I got hit upside the head with October!

School's back in full swing and I'm continuing my part-time (summer) job as well. This means life is much busier, and now we're counting down to all the October/November family birthdays which just slide right into the holidays. Wheeeeeee!!!

So to kick off the season, I'm participating in Socktoberfest by joining Through The Loops' Mystery Sock Knit-along! I'm using some Knit-Picks Bare Donegal that I kettle dyed into a faded-jeans-shade of blue. I'm enjoying the color, but I'm not yet sure I like the yarn. It's knitting up fine, but I'll have to see how it wears.

Here are a couple of shots of the progress:
Clue One: The Cuff

Clue Two: The Leg

I'm always amazed at how many interpretations there can be of the same pattern. Kirsten's design is simple and elegant. It's set up to work with or without cables. (I've chosen without.) Take a look on Ravelry at all the different versions!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Instant Gratification

Hats are such a great way to be creative. They can be as simple or intricate as desired. One color or many. Knitted, crocheted, felted, or... whatever!

The Hats! Hats! Hats! group in Ravelry is sponsoring a monthly Hat-along. Choices each time include one knitted and one crocheted free pattern that everyone in the group can work on together. It's great to see all the different interpretations of the same design.

September's choices are Flowers on a Grave and Beacon Street Cloche. Both are felted and result in a similar structure.

My Flowers on a Grave is knit with Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride on size 10US needles. Although the pattern called for two skeins, I had more than 29 yards left of the first. The pattern is well-written and easy to follow. And as always, this yarn felts up beautifully. The original design is decorated with knit flowers. I will probably make some in different colors. Or...how about a great brooch?

The Beacon Street Cloche is crocheted using Patons Classic Wool with a size H hook. This pattern is also well-written. While I am a big fan of this yarn, I was not prepared for how fast it felted. I was able to stretch it back out a bit while it was still wet. However, if I make another, I'll watch it more closely.

Overall, both of these cloches are classic, great quick-to make designs that any knitter or crocheter should add to their wardrobe. This Hat-along runs the whole month of September. Please join us!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thank you, Felicia!!!

One of my favorite events has been The Hand-Dyed Yarn Swap. We just finished up Round Four, and here's what I received:

I am so thrilled with my package from Felicia!! Just look at this gorgeous yarn!! The photos do not at all do it justice. It's wonderfully muted shades of greens and blues, with a bit of yellow. Felicia dyed this yarn for me with Superwash Merino in sport weight. She calls it "PG Getaway" after her home in Pacific Grove, California.

Along with my beautiful yarn, Felicia also sent me some really fun gifts. There is some lavender-scented vegetable oil soap, some "beak balm" (not sure what to do with that, yet), a lovely Lantern Moon notepad, and a postcard with a photo of the beach at Pacific Grove. Each item is fabulous!

Now, on with the search for the perfect sock design to showcase this beautiful yarn. Thank you, Felicia!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Not Your Ordinary Block Exchange

The NYOBE is a group of knitters and crocheters on Ravelry. The group was divided into several circles based on the individuals' color preferences. I joined the Buttercup circle whose focus was on neutrals. With a circle of 12 people, we were each to make twelve12-inch blocks, send out eleven to the other members, and keep one for our own blanket.

Now, if you've never joined a swap or exchange circle, I do recommend it...at least once. While not all swaps are successful due to well-intentioned folks who flake out on their commitments, most are a fun way to exchange ideas and make new friends.

The NYOBE was very well organized by Tanya. Cindy, our circle leader, did an excellent job of keeping track of folks and encouraging all the members, even taking on additional postage charges for the international portion of the exchange. The end result was a mixed-media blanket, made by many hands from all around the world.

My blanket details:
I made four additional squares in order to enlarge my finished blanket. This was also a fun way to try out a few new stitches and color combinations.

Not all the squares I received were 12 inches. (One was as small as 9"X10".) In order to make them uniform, each was blocked and then edged. I crocheted around the smaller blocks with matching yarn using either single, half-double, or double crochet to bring them all up to the same dimensions. Then each block was edged with the darker brown.

Then, using Priscilla Hewitt's Flat Braid Method, all the squares were joined together. I had never used this method before, but it quickly became my favorite!

I finished the whole thing up with a simple Picot Edging. Tah-dah!!! A cozy new blanket ready for our cool weather this fall!!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I lovvvvve thrift stores!!

Finding new life in someone else's cast-off is actually quite fun. You just never know when you are going to come across a treasure that was on it's last stop before the landfill. Some days, you may find nothing but picked-over junk. And other days can be filled with gems.

Today was a great thrifting day. Just take a look.

This Wagon Wheel blanket is in excellent condition, and was obviously made with love. It's crocheted with fingering-weight yarn and I can imagine it took the artist a very long time to complete.

Just look at all those colors. I'm so happy it came to live at my house!

And how fun is this?! Two tubes of linen. It's rather fine...probably 10/2. Since I don't weave, I'll need to find the perfect crochet pattern to show it off. Each tube was marked $2.99 and I had a 20%-off coupon. Yipppeee!!

This partial skein of yarn had obviously been looked over. It was hanging out by itself, while most of the other yarns were grouped in bags. This is the type of yarn I grew up with...this and Red Heart WOOL. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I had to bring it home, too.

Happy thrifting. May your day be filled with gems!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mittens for Winter

Remember this yarn? I love the colors, love the yarn, but just didn't enjoy the scarf I knit from it. I decided bright mittens for this winter would be best. So I frogged the scarf and knit up these babies. I didn't follow any specific pattern and had almost exactly the right amount of yarn for them. I love them, and will enjoy the bright colors in the gray of our NW winter!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Pure Love

That's what these socks are...
The yarn is so soft and well-spun. The colors are beautifully dyed and had no pooling. The pattern is simple and sweet. Together they make very lacy feminine socks that I will love wearing!

Pair #2 of Summer of Socks 2008
Tendril Embrace
Keegan Lane Yarns Toasty Sock in Lavender

Sunday, June 29, 2008


My favorite pastime (in addition to fibery pursuits) is to watch movies. Especially on a cold, rainy day in the Pacific Northwest...the best thing is a good movie, my knitting and a warm cup of tea. Ahhhhh...

A fun game going around the blogs are Flickr Memes. Here is my Movie Meme...quite fun!

Can you guess the answers? To find out, go here.

1. Favorite movie?
2. Favorite movie genre?
3. Favorite actor?
4. Favorite actress?
5. What movie always makes you cry?
6. What movie have you watched over & over & over?
7. Worst move you ever saw?
8. What was the last movie you watched?
9. Favorite cult movie?
10. Most embarrassing favorite movie?
11. Hottest actor or actress?
12. The actor or actress most people say you remind them of?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

But I digress...

I've been working away on lace socks. In fact, I have two different pair on the needles and more queued. I needed a bit of a little-or-no-concentration-necessary project to break it up.

Pair #1 of Summer of Socks 2008
Brigid is a quick, easy knit that shows off a variety of yarns. In DK-weight yarn and size 4US needles, it felt a lot more chunky than the light-fingering/size 1US that I've been using.

The yarn is some of my recycled sweater yarn...a very soft yellow lambswool. I hand-painted it with Jacquard dyes in olive, brown and a touch of orange. The result is perfect for next fall.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Just because...

it's finally summer, and I have fresh-picked raspberries to prove it!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Summer!

I recently ordered a kit from Keegan Lane Yarns. Since today is the Summer Solstice AND the first day of Summer of Socks '08, it arrived at the perfect time. However, my mailman continues to think I'm just "odd" because I get so happy when my yarn mail arrives. After this many years, you'd think he'd understand me, right?!

Of course, I already have way too much sock yarn in my stash. And of course, I had to have something new. My goal, however, is to make as many socks as I can this summer and use up some of that stash...after I knit this!

Melissa (of Keegan Lane) hand-dyes some of the nicest yarns in beautiful colors. This Lavender Toasty Sock yarn is just the perfect match to Hattie's Tendril Embrace Sock pattern. What a great kick-off for my SOS'08.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Spring Tulips are Blooming!

Spring is my favorite time of year. I'm sure it has to do with the renewing of the planet and life starting afresh. It gives hope and a sense that anything is possible again. Plus, all the flowers and birds are just so darned cheerful!

Let me introduce you to my "ode to springtime."

My new sock pattern, Spring Tulips, has now been released for sale! Designed especially for the Keegan Lane Yarns Spring Fling Sock Club, it's now available to everyone. Currently, you can purchase the design through my online shop and on Ravelry.

Melissa at Keegan Lane Yarns hand-dyes each of her skeins in small batches with lots of love. I used the Spring Tulips colorway (of course) of Toasty Sock for these. She has lots of colors to choose, including tonals, available. Check it out!

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I don't think so...

blog readability test

Monday, June 02, 2008


Last weekend we had an amazing storm in our area. Normally our weather is pretty mild, so when something spectacular like this lightening storm happens, it gets our attention.


Even without listening to the storm alerts on the TV and radio, it was obvious something big was imminent. The sky was a bright orange and purple with tinges of scarlet.


My car was parked in its very own little spot, safe and snug...or so I thought. The parking lot drains plugged and because it's on a bit of a slant, it flooded. So did my car. Argh!


The next morning, remnants of the storm were everywhere. The waterline is shown by the ridge of barkdust, and by the (yucky) goo on the sides of my car. Since the water reached about 6 inches above the bottom of the doors, the inside carpets were also soaked. Now everything smells like the sewer!

A note about insurance...I haven't been driving this car for a while, so I dropped the insurance to save the expense. (Remember, it was safe and snug in its own little space, right?) Can you say, "Murphy's Law?!"