Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Hitchhiker




August and September were oh so full! Between settling into my new job as a middle school teacher (I love it!) and getting my own kids back into the school routine this blog has been on the back burner. My crafting has been confined to mindless knits like dish cloths and I'm finally bored enough to try something a bit more interesting. This weekend I picked up some very special yarn from the Paradise Fibers yarn club and started a new hitchhiker scarf. It is one of my favorite patterns. The yarn is adorn by Three Irish Girls. I'm loving the way it's knitting up.  The color way was inspired by the river the runs through my hometown and it is stunning in person.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Before we go...

Our flight to Paris takes off in 36 hours and we are almost ready!!!! Today in the midst of packing mayhem we stopped to smell the flowers. I loved this one in particular.
Before we go I'd love to hear what you do to stop and smell the flowers while you are traveling. Do you pop into bookstores, pack a picnic or collect something unusual? I'm not wondering about the 'must sees' but rather the humble moments you cherish long after you are home.



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Trip


The most interesting things are happening as my daughter and I prepare for the trip. Here at home we are continuing to have conversations about what we spend money on and why as a family we try, ever so hard, to save up for big purchases like this. For this trip alone it meant over five l-o-n-g years of saving $10 and $20 bills. It is a total bummer to pay for things after the fact. Since the vast majority of our vacations have been car trips paying cash is always our goal. As a result we have (mostly) managed to stay out of debt. When we travel we usually camp or stay with family, cook our own meals and seek out free entertainment. In France and the Netherlands we will pay for transportation (airplanes, buses and trains) and lodging but we will save money by visiting public parks, walking around town and timing our trip to coincide with a free museum day in Paris. In an effort to minimize spending on food I found a highly rated, affordable B&B that includes a home cooked breakfast. I am not an itinerary person so our days will unfold without much of a plan. For the planners out there I know this sounds awful but I assure you, we will see many of the same sites you would and be less stressed about sticking to a schedule. Most of our meals will come from a market or a street vendor. My husband has encouraged our travel plans and is working very hard to make the trip a reality- he understands why exploring with my daughter now is so important and I am grateful. The support and excitement people share with us has taken so many forms ranging from enthusiasm/ disbelief that my husband and I are keeping this very naive and expensive promise, to encouragement about what this trip will mean to my daughter as she grows up, to trepidation about my traveling with a child in two countries where I do not speak the language. I have started asking about other's travel stories and I am so glad. Why aren't our travel stories shared more often? Has the relative ease of travel made it 'no big deal' to explore? Is everyone more humble that I am? Do they feel like it is bragging to talk about their adventures? I am pretty sure it is not the latter as evidenced by the vacation pictures adorning the holiday cards I open each year (which I love to receive and send). It's just that the tales of your travels are what I really want, they tell me about who you are and what you value. These conversations are fascinating and they help connect me to people and parts of the world I may never visit. They spark my curiosity.
There is a rash of unbelievable generosity taking place. My Dad called one morning in March to say that he wanted to buy his granddaughter her ticket to Paris. My Mama tucked money into my birthday card for our rail passes. During the trip they will share in the care of my son on the days my hubby is working. A sweet friend in the Netherlands has offered us a room in her home, two bikes and a few blissful days together. Another jet setting girlfriend sent money with instructions to eat well along with suggestions gleaned from her travels in France. I have been gifted the advice of numerous people who have been to this corner of Europe as well as the expertise of french speaking friends who know what we will need to say when we get there. It is humbling (and honestly, a little uncomfortable) to receive the generosity of others in all these forms and it may be the richest part of our trip. We are learning to accept help as we plan, to trust in other's experience and to be grateful for each connection along the way. All that already and we haven't even left home.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Farm Chicks


It was the annual Farm Chicks Antique Show last Sunday and this year I made a day of it along with a sweet girlfriend and my mama. The thing that sets Farm Chicks apart from other antique sales is the incredible creativity of the vendors- there were so many treasures displayed with such style. Everyone was kind and proud of what they had to offer. My son ended up with a wall of lockers for his room thanks to mama and my friends roomy SUV. I bought a chair for the kitchen table and a few burlap bags but most of my time was spent taking pictures and daydreaming about DIY projects I want to try over the summer.

 Now I want to hang up a dozen lanterns in a special corner,

build a slightly different wooden arrow for the new archery target in our backyard,


and recover my couch- perhaps in a mix of ticking and painter's drop cloth.
I think that is enough inspiration to keep me busy until next year when I plan to save up and shop a bit more.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Silk Ribbon Wrap Bracelet


Making can be as simple as two little steps- think, create. Take this year's teacher gift as an example. Between Mother's Day and the end of yet another school year there are so many to-do's running through my mind. I work hard to keep the really good stuff high on the list- celebrating a year's growth, welcoming the coming summer and thanking the teachers who help raise my children. This year the kids made bracelets (or necklaces, or bookmarks) out of silver charms and silk ribbons. An owl for the teacher who taught my son about birds and focus, dragonflies for the teachers who spent this spring knee-deep in a wetland teaching my daughter about science and poetry, and a Fleur de lis for the teacher who shared a new language with absolute joy. Little reminders of a year well spent.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Cheap Thrills

This weekend we stayed home and enjoyed our little town. There was oh so much to do that I felt like a tourist. Knowing we would have a very full schedule I made sure to grocery shop with our outings in mind and with one exception we ate well here at home between adventures.


Early morning fishing at the neighborhood pond with my little fisherwoman! I giggled watching her bike home with the trout she caught in one hand. We got some very curious looks from passing motorists. If the Department of Fish and Wildlife puts on a fishing derby near you don't be shy, go check it out. This was a great, free activity that started our busy weekend off right. We also stopped by the local comic shop for free comic book day- both kids got 6 free comic books. My parents joined us and we had a really excellent day together. Let the weekend of cheap thrills begin!


Later at the Renaissance Fair the kids took full advantage of the free ropes course- over and over and over again. Our eating out this weekend consisted of visiting the food booths here. I love that they were all raising money for our local non-profits- no $5 drinks or super unhealthy grub which I appreciated. We devoured nessie ears, strawberry shortcake with homemade whip, egg rolls, horchata and hot dogs in the name of community. In the afternoon my mom and I snuck off and popped by the library to check out a book and return a pile of DVD's I checked out for free last week.







Free face painting was followed by crafty time in the Imagination Station where people young and old made swords out of recycled cardboard and flowered crowns with long repurposed ribbon trains.


 Once the rain really started to come down the kids and I packed up and walked home. I spent a little time winding up balls of yarn after we dried off and ate some hot soup. The bulky yarn on the bottom was hand spun using alpaca fiber from the town I grew up in. The colorway is The Lake. I can't wait to knit it up! I suspect the top ball become a cozy pair of socks and the bottom yarn a hat but a few minutes on Ravelry might change my mind.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Gathering Fabric


I am eagerly awaiting my girlfriend's first baby- since he won't arrive until August I am mostly in the gathering phase of my making for him. The last time I sewed so much for a wee one my own kids were little. I had a lot less uninterrupted time to fawn over fabrics and sit at the sewing machine. As a result I have a great color palette and big plans. So far I am thinking of a quilt, a sling, burp cloths, a changing pad and nursing pads. These are all the essentials I used to make and sell at Co-op's and Farmer's Markets with my own baby on my hip. I loved that phase of my life- I spent summer Saturdays meeting young families and helping them learn to wear their baby or skip disposable nursing pads. We shared tales of sleep deprivation, traveling with kids (along with what felt like half of our wordly belongings) and the impossible preciousness of every single moment. Those days are sweet memories for my family but I am excited to dip back into the magic of new parenthood with my friend and her hubby late this summer. I will keep adding to this fabric pile for another few weeks. I need a few more grays to keep things neutral for any future sisters and then watch out Baby Judd- you are gonna be one stylish fella!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Early Bloomer


April is a month of doing which means I have been pretty far from my computer when I am not at work. This is great because honestly I was feeling a little too connected. I planted our garden. I took the littles camping in the rain a few hours south so we could see some early leaves and blooms. This forsythia took my breathe away after a winter without flowers. We slept in a little puddle in a very cold tent and no one complained which was a major milestone (they are toughening up! we can go camping without taking half the house along!). 


We hiked Trail 113 with three generations of our family. 


Now we are entering the last month of the school year. The next few weeks will be very full in the best of ways- time will be spent celebrating growth and planning for next fall. Truth be told my mind is already wandering into summer and it's unscheduled days. There are trips to take, weddings to attend and warm days ahead to fill with making and being together.

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 http://littlefreelibrary.org/ 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 doing...yoga, 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!