Thursday, March 20, 2014

Playground Knitting

It's spring break and this year we are staying close to home. I love the luxury of unplanned days and it means that I am sewing, cleaning and cooking at a human pace. It also means that much of the break has been spent in pajamas being quite lazy. Yesterday we biked from park to park in the afternoon. The kids played while I sat in the sawdust knitting away. I am making the Boxy Sweater out of Madeline Tosh Merino Light which feels lovely to knit with and has an amazing sheen.

There was also the all important work of skipping stones in the creek under an overpass which occupied us for a half hour or so. My kids are great travelers and I usually love to pack everyone up and go on school breaks but this year we really needed a week at home to catch up with laundry, sleep and each other.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Neighborhood Library

We installed our little library today! This was a labor of love made by a very talented friend and I am excited to fill it with books. I love the cedar roof and the birch bark siding he used. There are three of these fun mini libraries in town, this one has a children's section and a grown up section. Eventually it will have little button handles on the doors and a proper sign reading something like-Happy Reading! Take a Book, Share a Book. Until then there is a note in the window inviting people to browse. At you can see pictures of little free libraries and search for local ones to visit. There are custom built libraries for sale if you aren't feeling handy and plans if you are.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Spending Days

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.
-Annie Dillard

I have been thinking a lot about spending lately. A little over five years ago I made an outlandish promise to my daughter. When she was in kindergarten I told her that if she worked hard in school I would take her on an adventure anywhere in the world when she turned ten. She chose the destination based on her favorite children's book and the trip seemed very far off in the future. Those of you with children over ten know how fast those five years flew and how ridiculous my promise really was. I am secretly so glad you were not there to warn me! I have saved up enough for the trip several times- of course each time something happened and we used the money to fix this or pay for that. I won't name our dreamy destination yet but I will tell you that she has expensive taste and that we are finally going- this summer! In discussions about the trip I have wondered and worried about how I can justify the expense of this BIG trip. We should fix up the house, replace the 23 year old car in the driveway, or be prudent and put the money away. Over the course of many conversations I realized that all the money we earn gets spent one way or another and I would rather spend it on a dream than a disaster this time. It seems like an important lesson to share with my oldest child before she heads out into the world to make her own way. I talk to her about how I spend my time- my husband and I have been very intentional about finding careers we love that allow us the flexibility to parent hands-on. We trade money for the time to pursue our passions and as a result our days are generally well spent. She has grown up watching us make frugal choices but I also want to teach her about balancing responsibility with pleasure. I suppose she sees this on a small scale when I take the time to knit as the laundry and dishes pile up around me but I am ready for something big. This trip will be a true adventure for both of us. It will be the first time either of us has travelled to this country or spoken the language. It will be disorienting, exhilarating and unforgettable. For now we are spending our days anticipating the trip, planning, studying and, of course, saving. The curious thing is that we want to spend our days abroad much as we spend them at home- walking around town, visiting coffee shops, relaxing in parks, reading, shopping at local stores and wandering through markets. We aren't travelling to leave our daily lives behind but rather to see how we would spend our days if we lived in this place.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Just being

Sundays are usually quiet at our house- a day for just being together. We don't make grand plans and try to do the weekly chores on Friday or Saturday so we can actually enjoy the house over the weekend. The kids are fighting off colds so today is one to rest and play and rest some more. After breakfast this morning the kids built a cool fort in the living room while I wrote lesson plans and then we headed out back to check out the ice rink that has formed at the end of the yard. It is tiny and awesome! 

I was able to find used skates at a yard sale last year so I filled a basket in the kitchen with skates, pads and helmets. The kids can head out whenever they like and I can see them gaining confidence after just a few days. We have no idea how long the rink will last so they are taking advantage of it while they can. I am having flashbacks to my childhood winters spent skating (at an actual rink) with my little brother and teaching ice skating lessons. One year my Dad made us a backyard rink but I think the weather was a bit too warm so it was very short lived. It is a treat to see my own kids head out the door together with ice skates over their shoulders and big smiles on their faces.

The ice rink is a very rustic affair with chickens as spectators and an unconventional shape that winds around the yard where the snow has melted and refrozen. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello from 2014!

 My daughter embroidered these sweet words last night just before she slipped into bed- she assures me that there are fireworks to follow. 

Welcoming a New Year
I am not one to make grand New Year's resolutions, they are so easily broken and if I focus too hard on any one thing I overlook the big picture. Generally resolutions focus on something that is lacking and that can be downright depressing. A more holistic approach brings me better results. I am able to honor all the things that are going well and be creative about the things that need to change. At the end of each year I start by thinking about the things I will keep, walking, traveling near and far with my sweet family, knitting, cultivating friendships, working and sharing ideas. There are a few things to let go of- extra stuff, worry and perhaps the focus of this blog. I'm bored simply posting my own creations, it was interesting for the first few years to see what a year would yield but now it isn't as satisfying. I am not sure how my posts will change but I am inviting something new. As a family we are ready to make a few big plans- again welcoming change along with a healthy serving of daydreaming.
Whatever your resolution style I hope you find plenty to look forward to in 2014.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

11 down, 1 to go!

After much sewing I'm nearly done with the cousins Christmas gifts. I won't share what they are just yet but I know they will be put to good use. This project is all about bringing back my 1980's childhood with the bright neon accents. Too bad I couldn't find hyper color fabric- maybe next year!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Hitchhiker Scarf and our public library

Before the Thanksgiving festivities kick into high gear I am thankful to sit in the sun working on my hitchhiker scarf. I am knitting it out of Palouse Yarn Company's Merino Fine in Spanish Olive. I love working with this yarn, Shelly is uber talented when it comes to hand dying and the colors are incredibly vibrant. I'm already dreaming of a merino lace project in Bitter Sweet when this is done...get out of my head Palouse Yarn Company! 

This week I was reminded of just how much we enjoy our public library- with school out we had time to move at a leisurely pace so we walked downtown and found plenty of good books to carry home. The library is just under a mile from our house which is such a nice distance to walk. As a bonus both kids curled up with books when we got home so I had an hour to knit which led to... 

...finishing the Intersections Break hat. I thought I was making it for myself but someone has already started wearing it and it fits him very well indeed;) The Mountain Colors yarn felt nice to work with and it knit up super fast. I did add one more section of cable and purls to the pattern to make it a bit bigger- no one at our house likes a snug hat. If I were to knit it again I might add an inch of ribbing before starting the cabling. This is an instagram pic so the colors are slightly less vibrant in person but I think the picture gives a better idea of the stitches involved.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wool Bead Earrings

Whip up some quick, festive earrings by stitching gold seed beads onto two wool felt beads. Add a gold jump ring to the top of each wool bead and hang them on a giant kidney ear wire. These make fun hostess and teacher gifts so make up a few extras to gift this holiday season.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

DIY Starlit Wands

Every year I participate in at least one handmade toy swap to help fill the little ones stockings. This year I am making sets of starlit wands for my contribution. I send off 10 sets and in a few weeks I will get a package back with ten different items.

To make your own wands buy some small wooden stars and wooden dowels or sticks. Glue them together and then allow to dry overnight. In the morning paint each star with glue and then sprinkle with glitter. I like German glass glitter for grown up wands but for children's wands I use a mix of Martha Stewart Florentine Gold and Antique Silver. Allow to dry standing up in a jar.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Frugal Family Photos

Yesterday a friend and I did some creative bartering and took one another's family pictures. My friend has a gift for photographing children, an incredible camera and a very photogenic family which made it a low stress event. We met up to walk at the local arboretum and snap some (long overdue in our case) family pictures. Sure we could gone the traditional route taking the time to buy new outfits, hire a photographer and wory about it being 'just perfect'. Instead we planned it the day before based on some lovely weather, checked out pinterest for ideas, wore what we had and each family walked away with a handful of gorgeous photos. All for free!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Ever Changing Birthday Crown

One of my favorite family traditions is adding something to the kid's birthday crowns. These gorgeous wool crowns were made by a very talented friend a few years ago and they are treasures to my kids. Each year I add a little something, this year the little guy learned to bike so I stitched up the bike outline in the wee hours last night.

Wishing my littlest (who is now so big) a very happy day and a 7th year full of adventure and friendship! It is hard to believe that the peaceful baby boy born right here at home is now a busy first grader. Time flies...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Late Night Knitting

Tonight I finished the socks I started last month. Sock knitting is always a challenge for me- I love hand knit socks but they go a bit slow for my taste- especially the second sock! The last pair I made took a year so this is actually a huge improvement. I modified this twilled stripe socks pattern by only following the chart until the heel turn- then I just knit all the way around the foot which will be smoother in shoes but left the body of the foot a bit loose. No problem- I find a way to shrink all the socks I knit over time so these will be perfect.

Friday, September 27, 2013

New socks coming up...

I am loving the Mountain Colors yarn club- this is the yummy yarn they sent for September's socks. The yarn is hand dyed wool and this one came with a pattern that has lots of purls which is a nice change from my usual pattern. Paradise Fibers in Spokane sells the year long yarn subscription on their website which includes 10% off all your purchases for the year. It is $25 a month and they give you a $10 credit if you finish your project within the month and post it on Ravelry. You can knit up the pattern they send or use the yarn for another project and still get credit. The box comes with yarn, a pattern, a letter and a little surprise (notions usually). Awesome motivation to knit on!

*I am not affiliated with Paradise Fibers or Mountain Colors- just a very happy customer;)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cedar Plank Headboard

Our bed is looking rather grown up! My husband built this headboard for our bed out of leftover cedar planks. After much daydreaming and pinterest surfing we settled on a general design. The project was inexpensive (he did buy the bolts and some sandpaper) and time consuming- most of his time was spent sanding and oiling the boards with a Citrus Beeswax oil that smells delicious. The boards had been stacked in a pile in the yard after his fence building adventure five years ago. He used a few more pieces of salvaged wood to create the frame it all attaches to.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Late Summer Adventures

While most of the last three weeks has been spent getting into the swing of school we have had a few lovely outings. These pictures are from a stormy after dinner trip to the flower farm down the road. There will be plenty of time to craft and cozy up to the fire this fall but for now our focus is on squeezing in a few more summery outings.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A decade of birthdays

My girl is 10! Like every birthday this one is bittersweet to her mama. She is quickly becoming a young lady full of love, curiosity and excitement. Each year of parenting seems to slip forward faster than the one before it. I miss napping with her as a baby, she was so tiny and sweet. I miss her preschool self with wide eyes and a big smile. I love her present full of books and big plans and feelings about everything under the sun. Right now I can overhear giggles from her itty bitty birthday party and...

"I like you because you learn from mistakes and you are an amazing friend!"

"If I could talk to my chickens and fish, I would talk to my chickens because they are more interesting."

"I wish people would stop saying LOL!"

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I heart maps!

After a few weeks of searching Pinterest for ideas our entryway wall is now covered in maps. All the maps are from places we have been or want to go. Some are Erik's from college, charts of Lake Tahoe and Monterrey Bay. I ordered a few from paper source including a London Tube map, they actually wrapping paper. For now they are all held up with pins- so the question is do I modge podge them to my wall? Pins make removal simple, on the other hand I am not going for a dorm room look here... What do you think?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The house cleanse

We have been steadily organizing the pantry, drawers and closets in our house this week in anticipation of school starting up later this month. Living in 1100 square feet means constantly editing our belongings so we can find what we need without sifting through junk. After a trip to the consignment shop and thrift store to offload the excess I am feeling a whole lot lighter. The kids are starting to notice that they always find toys and books they forgot about during deep cleaning which is a huge incentive to get things tidy! They don't seem to notice all the things that 'disappeared' while they were out of the room- shhh.
We are loving fresh garden goodies and eagerly await our first carrot harvest. I am grating lots of zucchini and freezing it in 2 cup increments for fall and winter baking.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Farmer's Market Haul

A morning at the farmers market led to an afternoon spent in my apron canning and freezing a gallon of huckleberries. I also snagged some freshy fresh basil and garlic so Erik made me a big batch of pumpkin seed pesto to freeze...mmmm!