How Sweet!

I was just playing around on Flicker and found this delightful series by jek in the box. Each month she photographs her bed with a different set of colorful vintage linens and arranges a new display above the headboard. How fun is that?!

Aren't these vintage valentines just the best? My mind is starting to turn toward Valentine's Day. New Seasons has a great display of Valentine-themed goodies, including a set of reproduction cards similar to the ones in the picture above.

I wasn't sure whether or not I was going to be excited about V-Day, but the other day I went into Fred Meyer to buy a shipping box, and came out with a cyclamen, a begonia, and a violet - all in shades of Valentine's pink. Apparently, I am excited! Perhaps it's the red and pink color combination which speaks to me & gets my pulse racing. It seems like a combination I would have loved as a child. Though I turned my back on it as a teen (I blame the media), it speaks to me again.

I could also wax poetic over all of the little heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. For some mysterious reason I completely lost my taste for chocolate in the last year, so this year the pleasure is all in the visual feast. Before I lost the taste, I had become quite a chocolate snob. Portland has some excellent choclatiers, like Alma and Cacao. We are so spoiled here!

I would dearly love to make pretty Valentine-inspired cakes and crafts. Unfortunately, this year Valentine's Day falls just inside the opening of the Winter Olympics. Lest you think I'm a closet figure skating fan, my concern is with the Ravelympics, in which I hope to participate this time around. Though it is only 2 weeks away, I have yet to really prepare. I have already joined a team, but there are still events to choose, patterns prepare and swatching to do. So, is it possible to squeeze both Valentine's crafts and Ravelympics prep into the next couple of weeks? I'm sure there's a way...

A couple of last notes for my fellow Portlanders, Close Knit's anniversary sale is this weekend! Next door to Close Knit, Bolt is offering 20% off books and patterns. At day's end, 10% of the day's total sales at Bolt will go to a local organization. You can read more about it here.


The Bears of My Youth

I have recently been prompted to revisit the bears of my youth. Since they've been on my mind, I thought that I would mention them to you.

The first bear I loved in childhood was good, steady, hungry, slow-witted Pooh. Until recently, I had never read A.A. Milne's classic tales of the Hundred Acre Wood, but instead knew Pooh and his friends through Disney's 1968 The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. I really and truly loved that movie. (Surprisingly, Disney didn't stray too far from Milne's stories.) A couple of months ago, I saw the following quote from Winnie-The-Pooh on the wall in a restaurant, and I fell in love all over again:
"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.

How completely perfect is that?!

The second beloved bear of my youth was sweet little Corduroy. Corduroy first searched for his lost button in 1968. His story is short, simple, and charming. It is a story of love and acceptance, things with which we can all identify.

Finally, we come to the most beloved bear of my youth, Paddington. The bear from darkest Peru had lots of adventures, and I reveled in them all. I can remember my first visit to/through Paddington Station when we lived in London. Though I was entering the jaded teenage years, I was completely thrilled at being in the very place Paddington was found by the Bond Family. One of Paddington's most notable qualities is his complete devotion to marmalade. (Perhaps inspired by Pooh's devotion to honey?) I can totally identify. Did you know that there is a World Marmalade Festival? If only...

Thanks for indulging my little relapse into childhood. I think it's so important to periodically revisit the simple pleasures of youth. After all, it simply doesn't do to be too grown-up!


And so we begin another week...

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. Mostly we rested and enjoyed being home. The sun shone beautifully on Saturday, so Ryan headed out for a (15-mile!) bike ride while I headed for a nap. There is really nothing quite like a nice long nap on a sunny afternoon! Equally lovely: having a dear friend drop in for a chat and a nice cuppa, brunch on a rainy Sunday morning, and darkening the doorway of my sister's kitchen while she turns out a delicious dinner.

Before leaving for Minnesota, I downloaded the pictures from my camera, including these of Ryan's finished handkerchiefs. All of the embroidery was done using running stitch and 3 strands of floss. I printed his initials in several different fonts, and then traced them onto the handkerchiefs before embroidering over them. It only took one evening to complete the set. Ryan reports that he is quite satisfied with his new tissue alternatives. I'm satisfied to report that they all went through the wash this weekend and none of the embroidery came out!

In other crafty news, last week ended in a bit of a triumph for me. I FINALLY finished the Plain Vanilla, and Ryan wore it to work today. Hopefully I'll soon be able to show you pictures. (Still no word on my camera...) Also, I am making quick progress on my Delicious sweater, just finishing up the sleeves. With luck they'll only take me another evening or two, and then I can get them blocked and start stitching it all together. Ryan's slippers are progressing far more slowly, but I have high hopes of finishing them before the weather turns so warm they are no longer needed.

One final note. Though it is only January, I am seeing signs of winter's end! The crocus which cover our neighbors' front lawn each spring are already poking through the remainder of last autumn's leaves. Some have even started to unfurl deep purple petals. AND, the daffodils planted next our front step have sprung up! I'm so glad to see that they survived the "landscaping" our landlords did last summer.


37 Years and Still Fighting

Today is the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Generally, I'll try not to go into politics here, but I feel so very passionate about Women's Reproductive Rights that I cannot, in good conscience, fail to mention such an important date. I am so grateful to the many women who have sacrificed in order to ensure/protect our rights, a fight which is still going today.


Can't Stop...

...reading this book. I first saw it mentioned by Solanah. The title captivated me. Mysteries and Benedicts? Seriously? Two things I love so very much? Of course, the Benedict part doesn't refer to my favorite breakfast food. (Sigh) Still it's been a fun read, one I'd highly recommend. I picked it up last night around 10:00, forced myself to go to bed two hours later, and then immediately picked it up again this morning. This is the first in a series of three books, which means I'm late to the party - better late than never though, right? I also just discovered their website, which has lots of fun features. Also worth mentioning are the illustrations, which are done by Portland artist Carson Ellis (famous for her work with The Decemberists).

So, grab a nice cuppa and enjoy this delightful little read!



So good to be home!!! Still trying to get my breath back after our whirlwind trip to the Great White North. Great White North, indeed! The week prior to our visit, they had blizzard conditions and temps at -20. Yikes! While there, we saw a sign in front of the grocery store advertising a "Heat Wave" special - and it was only 20-ish degrees outside! Really, can there be any questions as to why we live in lovely, temperate Portland?

I got some great shots while we were there, but unfortunately, my camera decided not to make the trip home with me. The lovely photo above is from Flicker, by im pastor rick. We saw many similar scenes. I imagine it is lush in the summer time, but in winter it has such a stark beauty. Southern Minnesota is amazingly flat. Having lived in the Illinois and Missouri, I associate the Midwest with gently rolling hills and fields. No such thing in MN! Also amazing, the stars at night. No light pollution, and very clear, cold air make them just pop out of the sky. Of course, I could only take a quick glance every now & again - I was to busy trying not to slip on the ice to really get a good look!

As it turns out, Ryan's Minnesota family lives in Laura Ingalls Wilder country. We actually drove through Walnut Grove! They have a terrific museum, but it closes for the winter, so we were unable to visit. I don't know about you all, but I LOVED her books and the TV series. I actually remember playing at being the Little House family during a mid-winter walk taken through snow-covered fields in Illinois when I was in the third grade...

Well, it is SO GOOD to be home. Hopefully my camera will make it's way back to me. I spent a good deal of time on Monday making calls and sending e-mails to various Lost & Founds along the route home. When it gets here, I'll share some of my finished kitting projects with you. Until then, we'll find other things to talk about.


Up Next

Now that I've started to get some of my WIP's settled, it's time to prepare for the next round!

The other day I swatched for Delicious (left) and for Adele (right). They've been on my list for a while now, and I even have the yarn already! (See, Ryan, I knit from my stash!) I have a couple of long car & plane rides ahead of me this week. Delicious will be perfect to take along.

I'm also considering making either of the following two vintage patterns. The Glengarry and Yorkshire Two-Hour Sweater*:

or the 3-Hour Sweater*:

Also in the queue, are this vest:

and The Cloud Bolero*:

Most of these patterns look pretty quick and easy, so maybe I can get several done before the weather starts to warm again. (She says optimistically.) Of course, I could really use more hats/scarves/gloves/fingerless mitts, so I might sneak some of those in, too. Oh, and now my slippers have a lovely set of matching holes in the heels. Must make new slippers...

Finally, I was looking at this fabric in my stash the other day & thinking how much I love it, even though it is quite a departure from my usual choices.

Then, Amy announced the new theme at Tie-One-On. It must be fate. I have until March to figure the apron out. It definitely needs a cute accent fabric in a bright color to make it pop. Maybe aqua/turquoise? Oooo, maybe Rick Rack? You know how I love Rick Rack!!!

See you when I get back into town!

*Photo from Ravelry



FYI, that's "Works In Progress."

You might think that after all of my Christmas crafting, I must be taking it slow. Nope! I'm happily pressing onward. Several projects were put in hibernation while I was busy making decorations and gifts, and I've been glad to get back to them.

It's not an exaggeration to say that I didn't pick up my knitting needles once between Thanksgiving and New Year's. (Gasp!) Since then, I'm making rapid progress on Ryan's Plain Vanilla. I've finished knitting the front and back. I only need to seam the shoulders and add the ribbing at the neck and arms. Hopefully it'll be done within the week.

The other knitting project on my needles are Ryan's Saturday Morning Slippers. The holes in his current slippers keep growing, so I really need to get going with these! We'll be driving to Seattle tomorrow and I think the drive will be ideal for whipping these up.

A couple of months ago, I sewed these pretty pillow cases, but never put buttons on the back of the two larger pillows.

You see, I wanted to do self-covered buttons, and since Bolt was out of the size I wanted, I had to wait to finish. Yesterday, I finally assembled a few.

Aren't they cute? For some reason I find they're SO satisfying to make. Just have to sew them onto the pillows...

Also in the sewing basket are these two skirts.

The first is the back of a sweet little number I picked up at the thrift store. I took out a couple of darts to let it out a bit, then added this bias-tape waist-band rather than try to force the original back on. How do you like the little bow I made? (Mom did me a favor while she was here and hand-finished the waist-band for me - Thanks Mom!) It's still a little tight across the lower hips, so I'll let the sides out a touch, and then put the hem back in. Hopefully the work or just one afternoon.

The second skirt is one I started several months ago. I got the fabrics at the
Fabric Depot outdoor sale for a crazy low price. The outside is a really lovely charcoal wool blend, and the lining is dark turquoise China Silk.
It's been finished for months now, except for putting a hem in the lining. I've had a couple of tries at doing it by myself, but with no success. Mom helped me get things marked while she was here, so hopefully this should be pretty quick to finish. I can't wait to show it to you when it's finally done!

Last, I've got a small embroidery project.

It was actually supposed to be part of Ryan's Christmas gift, but I ran out of time. You see, we use a lot of tissue in our house. Tons. In addition to what we use at home, we both usually carry little pocket packs when we leave the house. Hoping to cut back a bit, I've started collecting and using vintage & reproduction hankies when I leave the house. After a while, Ryan said he'd be interested in using handkerchiefs, too. I really wanted to have a brand spankin' new set all ready to go for him Christmas morning, complete with embroidered initials. Instead, he got the handkerchiefs and an I.O.U. for the embroidery.

Well, I had better get busy!



On Friday afternoon I took a little walk down to Powell's. I LOVE going to Powell's. It was chilly when I set out, but pleasantly so. When I was heading for home, though, it was chilly AND raining. Really raining. As I had hadn't brought my umbrella, I was more than a bit damp by the time I got home. Damp, cold, and in desperate need of comfort.


I made grilled ham and cheese with a nice cuppa for lunch - YUM! Very good, but not quite enough comfort.


I made oatmeal cookies with dried cranberries - EXTRA YUM! (Will you judge me if I admit that we finished them all by the next morning?)

We continued with the food-as-comfort theme all weekend. We had Bean & Bacon Soup (made from scratch), Hot Dogs with GF Mac'N'Cheese (for me) and Tater Tots (for Ryan), Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup, Cheesy Broccoli & Rice Casserole, and this bit of happiness in a bowl: Polenta with Soft Poached Eggs, Ham & Homemade Hollandaise.

What can I say, it was just that kind of weekend! Hope you were as warm and happy this weekend as we were.


Christmas Wrap-Up

Hullo There! I've been feeling a bit like Pooh these last few days, nothing but fluff between the ears & therefore not able to really think. (If only I could find a jar of hunny that big...)

Before we get too far into this new year - can you believe we're already a week in? - I promised to show you a few of the Christmas gifts I made. These first two gifts were done in collaboration with Lex. We made each parent a kind of photo collage, personalized for their respective hobby spaces. Dad is a master woodworker and Mom is a very skilled sewist. So, for Dad's collage we used clipboards, which can be hung on the peg-boards in his woodshop.

Here they are, before we put the hardware back on and added the photos. Btw, how cool is that woodshop themed paper?!

These are the finished project. We were pretty durned proud of ourselves!

Next up, the collage for Mom. We decided to do a quilt for her space, and we found some sewing-themed fabrics to include in the quilt. The blotches of color on the cream-colored fabric are actually buttons, and the blue fabric has straight pins all over.

We used the same photos for each collage, but Mom's were printed on special fabric that can be run through the printer. WAY cool. I think both Lex and I were surprised at just how difficult it was to sew the yarn around each photo. Really, it was hard - But the results were worth the trouble!

Finally, Ryan's gift. I had a pretty incredible brainstorm, if I do say so myself. I always struggle with gifts for Ryan. He is SO difficult to shop for. Well, that's not exactly true. I could give him good coffee, chocolate, whiskey, wine, or olive oil every year and he'd be perfectly content. However, that's a bit boring.

This year, I was struck with brilliance.

First off, I went to some of the local thrift stores and picked up 7 ties. Most were vintage, a couple needed some repair. Once they'd been cleaned and mended, I added the logos of two of his favorite sports teams to two of the ties. (Ok, I probably could have also made him a Cubs tie, but I route for the Cards, so there...)

Voila! One-of-a-kind MIZZOU and Timbers ties! He's been wanting a MIZZOU tie for a couple of years now, but they are SO expensive, and frankly not all that interesting. I printed the logos on the same special printer fabric used on Mom's quilt, then appliqued them to the ties.

The other five ties are days-of-the-week ties. You know, like days-of-the-week underpants, but he can show these off at work... I embroidered each ties with images to reflect some of his favorite things: listening to NPR, going to the farmer's market, bluegrass music, hiking, and beer.

For those of you trying to figure out the Friday/beer tie, that's a depiction of hops. I need to add to it, as it looks a little sparse. What can I say, at 1 am on Christmas Eve, that seemed a good place to stop. And, I must say the ties were a total success. He was pretty thrilled with them on Christmas morning, and several of his co-workers have been checking each day to see what the day's tie would bring.

So, that's my show and tell for today. Hope you've enjoyed seeing my/our little projects!