Friday, December 31, 2010


Well, in the spirit of looking back at the positives in life, I will say that I got an amazing look at how patient my children can be while we waited 3 hours in the urgent care this morning.
Two diagnosed cases of Strep Throat later (adults only this trip), we're back at home, and their patience is waning.
It may be time for some convalescing on the couch with some visual stimulus.
As a result of our diagnoses, we're going to have to forgo all New Year's celebrations that involve us going out in public. Major bummer, but on the bright side, we can let the kids go to bed at a reasonable hour, and still watch the ball drop in the coziness of our own home.
Happy New Year to you all!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of the Year

Last year at this time, Amy from A Commonplace Life had a great suggestion.
Instead of looking ahead to the new year, and trying to change your own behavior, or anything else that you don't like about yourself or your life, look back at the year past and celebrate the good things.

This was a year of

Sounds like a good one to me.
1. snow beard, 2. Sunrise, 3. Digging in the Snow, 4. Blue Moon, 5. All Gussied Up, 6. Snowy, 7. Frolicking, 8. Two-fisted facepainting, 9. Loosing a tooth, gaining a pillow, 10. Chatting over Croquet, 11. Splash, 12. Magnolias, 13. Chicory Tank, back, 14. Throwing Rocks, 15. Sunset on the Mississippi, 16. Sunrise, Lake Yellowstone, 17. July 5, 18. July 13, 19. July 14, 20. July 15, 21. DSCN0623, 22. July 24, 23. DSCN0641, 24. Frolicking, 25. Sun Tea, 26. Giant Swings, 27. After the Fair, 28. Riding with the Sun, 29. Kid-Sized Willow Tree, 30. Wonderful Light, 31. Magic Light, 32. punkins, 33. Rah! I'm Wolverine!, 34. Big Wind, 35. Flurries on a Leaf, 36. Brilliant sky

What made this year a good one for you?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Making Merry, part 2

The other making for this Christmas all happened in the kitchen.
Here is the gift box that I made up for everyone.
Candied peanuts, chocolate-dipped honeycomb candy, double-chocolate oatmeal cookies with dried cranberries and peanut-butter cups.

The children are nestled all snug in their beds after a most impressive post-fun-freakout, and I am ready for a little tv veg-out time.
To all a good night.

Making Merry

Thank you all for your lovely comments about this sweater on Wednesday. They made my day!

Here it is finished. I may add sleeves at some future point, but in the interest of time I made the executive decision to make it a vest.

When I saw this a couple of weeks ago, I knew that I had to make it for the Elder.
In true Jess fashion, I procrastinated until the very last minute and I didn't start her until Thursday night.
Last night there were two services at church and I knew I would have a 3 hour window between them, so I did all of the machine sewing yesterday morning, and I (mostly) finished her up there.My ringlets came out a little wonky, but overall I am pretty pleased with the look.
She came home without legs, and I think I should redo the eyes, I didn't have access to the online photo of Clara, so I just made her face up.
Anyway, I stuffed and attached her legs last night/this morning, and I got a good start on the Nutcracker. Unfortunately I didn't get to his legs, so, for now at least, he is a finger puppet.
That story went over o.k., so I might not have to go further with him.
I should, however, get going on Clara's ballet slippers. Those shouldn't take too much time, and I think they'll complete her outfit nicely.

Happy Christmas to those who Christmas, and Happy Weekend to those who don't!

Merry Christmas!

The cinnamon rolls are in the oven, the tv is set to Yule Log, the kids are playing, the husband is reading, and I am soaking it all in.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yarn Along

Good Morning!
It's Wednesday, so that means another glimpse of what everyone's knitting and reading.
Head over to Ginny's to see the rest of the participants.I am reading Pride and Prejudice.
A few years ago, I started a tradition of watching the A&E miniseries of Pride and Prejudice while I knit Christmas Stockings, and this year was no exception.
Since I was still in the mood, I decided it would be a good idea to have my annual reading of the book as well.
Even though sometimes I feel a little chided while I read Austen, her books are some of my favorites.

The sweater I am knitting is for the Younger. He asked for a sweater with a dragon on it for Christmas.
I found a great chart in my favorite, super knit-nerdy book Here Be Wyverns, which is a huge collection of charts from medieval to renaissance tapestries, mosaics and embroideries.
I swapped in a different tail from another chart, because the sweater wasn't wide enough to just use the chart as written.
I hope he likes it. Green is his favorite color, and I got some help in planning the colors from my good friends at the Yarnery.
If I hadn't started this sweater on the Sunday before Christmas, I might have changed the chart a little to reflect the fact that knit stitches aren't perfectly square like the chart in the book, but I figure he's going to wear this for a year or so and then grow out of it, so I won't be too picky.

What are you all knitting and reading?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Summer Dreaming

It snowed here again last night.
Not too cold, which made shoveling bearable.
However, today we have freezing rain, which is guaranteed to make the roads hellish.
Involuntarily I have been drawn through my photos back to the greens of summer.
What I now present is the opposite of what I have out my window right now

How are you dealing with the winter weather?

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Thanks for all of the kind words yesterday about the stocking!
You guys are the best.

I finished the stocking today, and that is the end of stockings for this year.
I hope you're all doing well out there in blogland

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yarn Along

It's Yarn Along time, thanks to Ginny for hosting!
I am knitting the Last Christmas Stocking of the Year!
I can't tell you how excited I am about that.
There has been little in the way of trips to the zoo, or the woods, or the museums, or anywhere much at all, for about a month an a half while I furiously knitted the other 11 stockings on my order list this year.
If I finish this one quickly, I might even be able to get in some serious work on a sweater for the Younger.
He wants one with a dragon on it, and I must obey an order for knitwear from the kids, who knows how long they'll be interested.
As for reading, I finished Outlander last week, and now we're into the Christmas books.
Nothing says Christmastime to me like pulling out an old favorite from the basket of picture books.
The latest read was Santa Calls by William Joyce.
I love reading picture books with really beautiful art, and interesting stories filled with whimsy and imagination.
William Joyce always fits the bill.
I highly recommend Dinosaur Bob, and The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs too, if you're new to his work.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snow Day

Listening to this little lady playing and singing carols from her new book smell of whoopie pies baking for the final day of Alleluia Choir (the 3-5 year-old choir I get to sing with on Tuesday afternoons) until after Christmas.
How did you spend your snow day? if you had one, that is.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Seven years ago I was holding my 2-hour-old baby in my arms.
I am sure we looked pretty much like this -
and about a week later she looked like this -
but now she looks like this -My beautiful, capable, kind, intelligent, wonderful girl.
It's time for a little Laura Ingalls, so I'll sign off for the day.
Hey all.
Those of you who live in Minnesota will know this already, but it SNOWED yesterday.
This would be a fine way to spend a Saturday, if we had not planned a birthday party for a certain 7-year-old for yesterday afternoon.
We went ahead with a much-reduced guest list, only those 2 girls who could walk across the street to come, and it worked out just fine; quieter, calmer, more like a playdate.
The snow didn't stop until late last night and in the end we got about 16 inches.Good thing my lovely husband decided to buy a snowblower in anticipation of the storm, which has been called Snowmaggedon, Snowpocalypse, SnowMyGod and Snownami, depending on who you ask.
The temperature has dropped dramatically, and if I hadn't been working pretty hard to dig my car out of the snowbank to make way for the plows, I would have been really cold.
The lovely blue sky has made up for that somewhat.
It certainly is the biggest snowfall that I have seen since high school.
Ask anyone who lived here in 1991, and they'll tell you their story of the Big Halloween Blizzard.
Now my kids will have a great story about the Big Snow of 2010, when it was the Elder's birthday and we had to walk through knee-high snow to get our friends.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Ornament Swap

It's Swap time again!
I am always so excited to sign up for the swap that Freshly Blended hosts each year.
This is my 4th year, and even though I was a little short on inspiration this year, I was able to pull together this little bird-y ornament.

It's 1/4" plywood that I burnished with some beeswax.
My only little disappointment with this project is that I cut the ribbons wrong, and only cut 8 instead of 10 lengths.
So, a couple of people will end up with different hanging strings.

We have our tree up and lit, and it is indeed beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house.

It's so nice to have that little bit of extra light as the days get shorter and the nights get longer.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny again this week -
Reading Outlander, for book club in 2 1/2 weeks, I don't know if I can finish it, since I am only about 100 pages in, but it's really engaging so far.
Knitting a hat for the Treadle Sale, finished it last night.
It's a little small for me, but fits the Elder just fine.

What are you all knitting and reading?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Updates, and a Pillow Full of Cute

There are a couple of exciting things going on this week for me.
First of all, there is the big craft sale at Treadle Yard Goods.
10 of the women who work at Treadle, myself included, have been stitching, beading, weaving, quilting, and who knows what else, for months to put together a sale of our wares.
It starts on Thursday, and goes through Sunday at Treadle Yard Goods in Saint Paul.
Come on by! I'll be manning (woman-ing?) the sale on Saturday.

Also, if you want to hear some great music in the most charming church in Minneapolis, you should come to the Lessons and Carols service at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church this Friday, December 3.
The service begins at 7:00 PM, and is followed by a reception which comes complete with strolling carolers, again, myself included.

With all of my knitting and weaving and sewing, and more that I'll talk about later in the week, my sad neglected camera has seen a lot of the inside of the drawer lately, but I do like to have photos in my posts, so here is one for today.

The kids just found this Little Daisy's Big Nap Pillow in our giant pillow and blanket basket, and now it's a part of our daily life once again. Long ago, the Younger used to take occasional naps on it, and I have had this image in my head for a few days. I thought I could share it with you, after all, what else are blogs for?

I hope to see you soon!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving for me is all about family, and I am filled with gratitude that I can spend the day with most of them.
The notable absence today will be my sister, look for her this morning on TV, she'll be a balloon handler at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!
I hope your day is filled with wonderful things, and pie.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This is What We Do

The ladies of Treadle Yard Goods are holding a craft sale in a couple of weeks called This is What We Do.
There will be lots of amazing crafts - I have many very talented co-workers.
My contribution will be hand-woven scarves, knitted hats, and some sewn scarves.
Today, I spent some time sewing.
These scarves are made from cotton velvet with a cotton and linen patchwork section and lined with virgin wool, or cashmere.
They are just long enough to tuck under the collar of your coat.
It was lots of fun to go through my stash fabrics and choose the pieces for the patchwork.

With all of the knitting on my to-do list, I haven't been working very steadily on the other pieces for this show, but I do have a few things, and hopefully my little table won't look too sad.

The show runs Thursday, December 2nd - Sunday December 5th at Treadle 2, around the corner from Treadle Yard Goods.
Come on by and say hi!

Taking it Easy

Today is going to be a day to take it easy.
On some levels the decision was made for me; sick kid at home, husband at home using vacation days, class canceled for the holiday, etc.
This morning I started on my Thanksgiving baking, though the bulk of the work will be tomorrow, and I am spending the morning ironing fabric in preparation for a large sewing project.
I'll hope to take and share some photos of said project later today.
For right now, I am enjoying a little time to drink some tea and browse the blogs.

How is your Tuesday shaping up?

Saturday, November 20, 2010


The illness has set in here in the Fifth Lamp house.
I have been drinking a lot of this ginger tea - cut up a knuckle of a ginger root, steep it in hot water for a few minutes, add the juice of half a lemon and a fair amount of honey.
Mmmm. I'm feeling better already.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Busy, Again

I have had a premonition that I won't be here very often in the next few weeks.
It's for a great reason, I have lots of orders, and that means I will be spending all of my time knitting.
The last 5 days were a whirlwind of Christmas Stockings and finishing up the Fresco Vest.That weird splotch is a dry spot on the back, the rest is still wet from blocking.

I would be knitting another stocking right now, if I hadn't run out of yarn.
That means that I have to make a trip to the yarn store this morning before I go to see HARRY POTTER!!!!! with the husband.

One big event that I missed while engrossed in the knitting was the giant snowstorm that we had last Saturday.
It was really snowy.
For Real.

I didn't even go out to take any photos, my hands were too full of yarn to pick up the camera.
A couple of days later, after the bulk of the snow had melted, we had a day of cute flurries.
I hope wherever you are, you're nice and cozy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Give to the Max Day

Hi All,
I am here today with a request.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 16th, is Give to the Max Day in Minnesota, which is a coordinated charitable giving day organized by
GiveMN is an online organization which helps non-profits find a larger audience and helps to facilitate online donations.

My singing group, Caritas Vocal Ensemble (formerly known as Sacred Voice), would love to have your financial support tomorrow.
Caritas Vocal Ensemble is a 10 voice a capella chamber ensemble.
We sing 6-8 concerts every Spring, each a benefit for a worthy non-profit in the Twin Cities who provides basic human services to the community, including food, shelter, clothing and health care.
In the current economy, when there are more and more cuts being made in state and national budgets, these essential groups need our help more than ever.
Your donations to Caritas Vocal Ensemble (aka Sacred Voice) will be used to cover our basic operating costs - poster and program printing costs, music costs, paying our rehearsal accompanists and paying our consulting Artistic Director.
Please visit Sacred Voice - GiveMN to donate.
A very generous supporter has offered to match all donations up to $5000 that we receive tomorrow, so your donation can go twice as far!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Finished Vest

Tuesday, I challenged myself to finish a vest in a day, but I fell short.
I did, however, finish it the next morning.I designed this as I knit, and it still remains to be seen whether it will fit over the baby's head.
If it doesn't, I'll add some buttons at the shoulder.
This was a fun little knit, and now I think I might have to get some Blackstone Tweed for a similar vest for the Younger.
I think he'd look quite dashing in it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Leaf-Lovin' Lady

The leaves have finally decided to fall in earnest around here.
There were so many, in fact, and the Elder was so excited that she raked these up before the bus time morning.These shots from this morning reminded me of a very similar day 6 years ago -
Happy Fall!

Yarn Along Wednesday

Its Wednesday again, and that means time for the Yarn Along!Thank you all, for your very kind words last week about my Etruscan Vest, you sure know how to make a girl feel special.
I'm still working on that this week, I finished the front on Sunday, and have the back about a third of the way up.
I got a little side-tracked yesterday when I started the little baby vest at the top of the photo. I wanted to see if I could finish a vest in a day, but I only finished one armhole, so today I have the other armhole and the neck to finish.

In book news, I am reading The Girl Who Played with Fire, and it is so good! I don't feel like I can do too much cheating on my knitting, so I haven't read much in the past day or so, but I am dying to know what happens next!

Visit Ginny to see other yarn along participants.
It's really fun to see what everyone is knitting, and I have found some good book recommendations too!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Bandelin Band

After their first concert, the kids decided that we should form a band.
The Elder on piano, me on guitar, the Younger on harmonica and Dada on castanets.
We'll be called The Bandelin Band
The Elder took the initiative to start writing a songbook for us
and the Younger has been the documentarian thus far.
Please excuse the messy floor, when you're creating great art there is no time to tidy.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Great Day

We took a family trip today to our neighbor city to see a great concert and enjoy the beautiful day.
The Walker Art Center has fun events on the first Saturday of the month, and they're free!
Today we were able to see Elizabeth Mitchell and her amazing daughter Storey, shown here playing the apple-shaped ukulele.
We had a great time, singing along with our favorite songs, and learning some new ones.

The Younger spent a lot of time lying down on the floor, and the only reason I can think of to explain that behavior is that we used to play You are My Little Bird at bedtime, and it was a Pavlovian response.
After the concert, we went out and explored the grounds, climbed on some art, saw a giant glass fish, and the kids rolled down this hill for about 20 minutes.
All in all, a terrific day.