Thursday, January 28, 2016

Kid Stuff

Last summer when we looked at our new house for the first time we were struck by how much storage there was. Closets, and cubbies, and built-ins and more tucked away spaces than anyone would imagine.
When I saw this grubby spot under the stairs in our basement my first thought was "What a great spot for a reading nook!"
Then I took a breath, and realized it would take some serious doing, and I relegated the space to storage.
Flash forward six months, and I am finally getting serious about my crafting/sewing space which abuts the cubby under the stairs. 
I put out a call on facebook for friends who would like to help me clear out and organize and my lovely friends have been coming over to give advice and sort fabric and all sorts of things. It's been great.
When I confessed my reading nook dream to my friend she encouraged me to go for it. So, I moved the storage out, painted everything a nice, clean, just off-white, and filled the space with pillows and a leftover crib mattress.

It's just as I imagined it, and has kept The Youngest occupied for hours on end already.
The other thing making me unreasonably happy are these puzzles that the church cleared out this week.
I think the reason they got the boot is that the pieces don't have peg handles for the toddlers to assemble, and the older kids don't really do puzzles in Sunday School.
They're mostly from the 60s and 70s and they are spectacular.
What's new at your house?

Friday, January 15, 2016


I've been a little under the weather these past few days. Not at death's door, or anything, but low energy and sniffly and coughing and a little dizzy, etc.
So on to the back burner go the big projects: painting The Youngest's bedroom, laundry, cooking, and in their place come reading and knitting. 
I finished the book club selection (probably the first one in six to eight months) Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I really enjoyed it. Lots of interesting characters and surprising twists in the story of a marriage.
This morning I revisited Nick Hornby's Songbook, which is a collection of his favorite songs (at least his favorite songs of the early 2000's when he wrote it). Man, can he write. I made up a spotify playlist of the songs in the book, and listened along. Perhaps because I am feeling gross, or because reading about it made me look deeper at its beauty, or just because I have always loved it, I sat in our sun room, knitting away, listening to You Had Time by ani difranco and bawled like a baby.

 What was I knitting, you ask? Well, The Youngest's winter hat is a hand-me-down from a few years ago, and after a few washes is it just too small. Since she has a new scarf, I thought she should have a matching hat. I asked if she wanted this one to be a cat hat (like the old one) or a rabbit hat. Rabbit was her immediate response, probably due to her recent discovery of loony tunes. She asked for green eyes and black eyelashes, and I got to work.
I used Cascade 220 chunky for the white and Blue Sky Alpaca cotton for the pink. 
It should keep her tiny ears warm for the rest of the winter. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Visit to the Falls

This morning, The Youngest and I spent a few minutes at Minnehaha Falls, one of our very favorite local natural wonders, and saw something pretty exciting.

The weather was a little warmer today (in truth, 20 degrees felt like Florida today) and the water was running freely under the ice.
Then we heard a tremendous crash and a giant chunk of ice fell off of the falls. 
There were lots of people out today; climbing on the ice, taking photos, power walking in the milder weather, and we all looked at each other in wonder and awe at the power of nature.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Knitter's Children Have No Scarves (until today).

When one lives in Minnesota, there are a few givens.
Friendly people, lots of knitting shops, disappointing sports teams (too soon?) and it gets pretty cold up here.
Since one knows it's going to get cold, one might assume that all of one's children have warm weather gear. 
Unfortunately, this knitter hadn't made scarves in a while and The Youngest was without one of her own. Since I had so much fun with these stockings and I wanted to make it as appealing as possible to wear, I covered her neck warmer with pink hearts.
Everything is from my stash, the pink and white are pure alpaca (so cozy) and the lining is cotton. 
I was very methodical at the beginning, I increased the number of stitches when I changed to stranded knitting to compensate for the snugging up that happens when you have yarn pulled behind. By the end of the project, though, I forgot that particular step and didn't decrease back down. So, the top is a little poofier than I would like, but it'll keep her warm. 
Yesterday was negative 6 at the bus stop, and today won't be much better. 
I don't think she'll actually go outside today, as it happens. But, if she does, her neck will be very warm.

Joining Nicole this morning. 
What's on your needles today?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Catching Up

December was a kind of blur.
There were 9 concerts (seven sung, one conducted, one facilitated with 20 piano students), one radio appearance (with The Singers), 1 dollhouse rehabbed, 10 Christmas stockings, half a mitten and a hat knitted, one birthday party (12 years old on 12/12, we celebrated with a dozen sprays of roses, and a dozen donuts)

One long-overdue Christmas present of a back porch mural at my parents' house.

 Two Christmas Eve services, between which we had a little pre-Christmas gifting.

Christmas morning, and lots of family time.

A terrifying performance of Mozart's Laudamus Te at church (morning service, woke up with the sneezies, low A, high C, what could go wrong? It was actually fine, but I was pretty nervous about it!)
And as a capper on it all, I am teaching two kids' sewing camps this week.
I'm so very lucky to be surrounded by art and music and loved ones, I wish the same for you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Home Improvements, Continued

After a week of knitting stockings I finally had some time to work on my little house today.
First I gave everything a quick coat of paint, there was some very 1980s wallpaper in some of the rooms, and the others were mere primed, so they needed some sprucing up.
Then I took scrapbook paper and wallpapered the walls and a couple of the floors.
Yesterday, I saw some cool puck lights that operate wirelessly to a remote, but they were out of them when I went back to Target this morning.
Then, I saw these and I knew they'd work perfectly.

I hot-glued them in place, and it seems to be working so far.

Once the interior was finished I started on the furniture.
I had a pack of balsa pieces from Michael's, and I built this quick sofa with three pieces and some hot glue.

Next I made some futon-like cushions with some batting and some fabric scraps.
I will admit to hot-gluing those too. I was on a roll...
I made a couple of beds too, but didn't get a photo, apparently.

It was so fun wallpapering these tiny rooms. They're not perfect, but The Youngest won't really care.
We got a family of dolls from Lakeshore Learning, and I think we're almost done.
I saw a tutorial for dollhouse decor that included printing out appliances for the kitchen walls, and I will say that I am tempted, but I think I'll refrain from any further fussing with the house.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Home Improvements

Well, the house has been calling me in the late hours of the evening.
Last night I painted the bulk of the exterior.

There are still a few spots that need some touch up. Also, I don't know how I am going to wash those windows from the inside, those rooms are really deep. 
The chimneys need some attention; many of the bricks have fallen off and the side of this chimney was the worst. I removed the remaining bricks from this section and I'll use them for patches elsewhere. I went to Michaels and picked up some sculpey to make one big patch, but the colors weren't right so I got some help at the local art shop and came back and got to work.
First, I found some furniture pads that were about the same width of the original bricks, and rolled out the sculpey between them so it all came out the same width.

Then I evened up the edges, and added in lines with my high-tech tools a ruler and a butter knife.
Since the bricks are a little uneven on the house, I didn't worry too much about keeping them perfect.
I baked the sculpey, and once it cooled I painted it and I am pretty pleased with it, It's a little darker than the original bricks but way better than the hot pink.
I tried to hot glue the patch into place, but it was just too cold in my basement, so I used some other super stinky adhesive, and then you have to hold it in place with tape.
Now, we wait...
I'm trying not to become obsessed with this project, but it's pretty fun!