Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Yes, it is that time again... Resolutions for the new year. Did you make any for 2009? Do you plan to make any for 2010?

I went back and looked at my New Year's Eve entry from 2008. Funny, I don't remember making a resolution about exercise. However, I did conquer knitting lace with my Northern Lights Shawl:

I started an adult-size sweater for me, a February Lady, but it was slow going... I'm almost done with the yoke.

In 2010 I plan to learn to spin yarn on a wheel, relax a bit with my son's schooling, use my camera more, and finish that February Lady.

My biggest resolution for 2010 is to be more conscious of the ingredients in the products we buy. I plan to stop buying anything that contains high fructose corn syrup, MSG or MSG components, or anything I cannot pronounce. We've been slowly working our way up to this throughout the year, but I still find myself grabbing something like hamburger buns because I'm too lazy to make them, only to find their full of modified something-or-other, or have HFCS. For us, this doesn't apply to just food, but any consumable product like shampoo, soap, or cleaning supplies (harder to know because they don't list ingredients). I get a great deal of satisfaction in making things myself, and I feel better about knowing what is going into or being applied to be bodies of my loved ones. I'm sure I'll be sharing some of the recipes or tricks I discover along the way.

Thank you for visiting my blog over the past year. If you enjoyed a particular entry, please share it with a like-minded friend. I hope you all had a wonderful 2009 and wish you all the best in 2010. See you next year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and are looking forward to 2010.

I've been pretty quiet this holiday season. I didn't get a chance to share any of my holiday baking experiences, mostly because I did all of my holiday baking on Christmas Eve. I was so focused on my holiday knitting/sewing/crocheting that I couldn't even think about baking until I was finished. But I did finish! My final project was a crocheted afghan for Emma and I finished it at about 5:00 pm on December 23.
Emma's Afghan

I knit a scarf, of my own design, for Ethan. It was made from yarn he picked out when we visited Diva Yarns in Port Townsend in August.
Dragon Scale Scarf 2

I made 2 pair of felted slippers, one for Cliff and one for my step-dad. They each
already had a pair, but Cliff completely wore his out.
IMG_3061 Slippers

I sewed 3 aprons... one for each of my nieces and one for Ethan. I found some great "Cars" fabric a couple months ago, and he'd been asking for a new apron just for the kitchen. Here is my oldest niece holding up her apron:
Katy's apron

I also made 8 sets of potholders to give to other family members. I gave most of them away and forgot to take photos first, but here are two sets that I have left:
IMG_2989 hotpads

I also made 3 more ornaments for the kids, a piece of ribbon candy, a pair of mini mittens, and a Christmas light bulb. Cliff kept talking about coal in stockings so, this year he got some! Meet Grumpy the lump of coal:
Grumpy the lump of coal

And with that, I managed to complete 55 items for the 52 craft challenge! However, my New Year's Resolution for 2009 was to knit an adult-sized sweater, for me. I did start the sweater, and had hoped to have it done by Christmas, but had some issues with it. It is still a work in progress... I haven't abandoned it and hopefully I'll have it finished before the weather turns warm.

One of the gifts I received from my mom was 2 ounces of Merino Top from Nestucca Bay Yarns in a beautiful colorway called Riverstone. Its SOOO pretty, I almost don't want to try spinning it. My Christmas present to myself is a SPINNING WHEEL!!!!! My wonderful friend Deb has decided she prefers spinning on drop spindles to a wheel and has offered to sell me her wheel for a wonderful price, I just couldn't pass it up! I don't have it yet, but it is an Ashford Traveller and I can't wait to get it in my hot little hands and teach myself to spin on a wheel.

That pretty much wraps up the fiber-related holiday goodness around here. I found some amazing new recipes for holiday baking and I'll update you on the happenings in my kitchen in another post.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Homeschool Resources

I've decided to occasionally share some of my favorite homeschool resources with you. Over the last year I have sifted through tons of books, websites, and blogs and now I'm going to share my favorites with you. I first thought it could be a weekly scheduled post or something like that, but I just don't have the discipline to post with that kind of regularity. So, it'll be a sporadic thing when I think of something good to share.

My first resource to share is a website, Homeschool Freebie of the Day. Each day a new freebie is posted for download. The freebies include
e-books, audio books, dramatic radio shows, lesson plans, unit studies, and audio seminars for parents. I have downloaded books on drawing, bees, history, craft ideas... tons of different stuff!

Right now many of their resources are holiday related, stories about the first Thanksgiving or the life of the Pilgrims. Each resource is only available for a day, so the hardest part is remembering to check in daily! If you become a subscriber to their weekly "heads up" email, you receive a bonus download each week. The resources are also great for parents who want to supplement their child's public/private school education, or encourage a child's (or your own!) interest in a subject.

I hope you enjoy this resource as much as we have!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Holiday projects

Holiday knitting/sewing/crocheting is in full swing. I put everything on a list in order of priority so if there is not enough time, I don't have to panic. The list includes another apron for Ethan, an afghan for Emma and her new bed, knit/crocheted ornaments for all the kids, sewn potholders to go in gift baskets of home-canned goodies, a pair of felted clogs, a pair of socks, and a sweater for me!

I've started on the afghan, slippers, and sweater. I had other deadline knitting to contend with, so got a later start than I would've liked. One of the items I crocheted was this little guy:
Fluffy monster
He is a gift for Emma's birthday coming up. He is also #33 in the 52 craft challenge.

#34 is this little reindeer I was experimenting with as one of the ornaments to give away.

I also did a bit of work on Halloween costumes this year. Ethan decided to be a blue Lego. This was so easy, but fun to make and only cost me a can of spray paint. (#35) Basically it is a cardboard box with head and arm holes cut in it with cottage cheese containers glued on the front. There was one more cottage cheese container with elastic for him to wear as a hat. He LOVED it!
Lego Man 002

We went to a Halloween party this year and it finally pushed me to finish a costume that has been probably more than 5 years in the making. I had planned to make something for Cliff too, but ran out of time. Maybe next year.

Halloween 2009
The bodice was made a few years ago and the skirt was finished about this time last year. This year I finally finished the under dress (#36). Our friend and party hostess, Shaunna took the photo of us. Thanks Shaunna!

What are your holiday project plans? Have you already started?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Finished projects

I've managed to complete a couple more projects this week.

#31 is "Boo" a crocheted ghost by LionBrand.

#32 is my Spring Forward socks. I've been working on these for over a year now. I'm SO glad their done.

Spring Forward

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I've been busy freezing, canning, and otherwise preserving the bounty of our garden. I've frozen blueberries, raspberries, corn, grated zucchini, and the baked goods that resulted of grated zucchini such as chocolate zucchini muffins and zucchini bread. I've pickled jalapenos and green beans. Now, its tomato time! I started with raw-pack tomatoes because there isn't a recipe involved and I could work with the small quantities as they were ripening. Since then, I have also made a batch of salsa. This is what I brought home today:


I plan to make tomato sauce out of these this weekend. I actually had to go buy a case of new canning jars because I ran out. Normally I stock up at the thrift stores when it isn't canning time, because i get them for about 10 cents each. It has been years since I had to buy new jars.

There are still a LOT of tomatoes on the vine, so I need to decide what to make with them next.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A tomato

I pulled this tomato out of my garden today...
I can't stop giggling every time I see it. Am I really that immature?


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Our Homeschool

Last year I made the decision to try homeschooling my son, Ethan. Though he was only 4, I decided to start introducing kindergarten age concepts and consider it a "trial run." I didn't use a formal curriculum, just worked from various books to introduce developmentally-appropriate material to him. If our "trial" failed miserably, he was still young enough to start kindergarten in public school next fall. If it was successful, I wanted to be ready to jump in with both feet and be prepared to educate my son. He soaked up EVERYTHING I introduced to him and loved doing workbook pages and playing with math manipulatives.

I started doing research on various homeschool methods and my local homeschooling laws. I found myself drawn to The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer and after checking out from our local library a third time, I realized I had to buy it. The classical style of education (or trivium) made a lot of sense to me as it is history centered and more or less chronological, on a four-year cycle. I have a bachelor's degree in history and found it very disconcerting when I realized that Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were not only contemporaries, but born on the exact same DAY. I was taught history in a disjointed, disconnected, very US-centric way, that I had no idea what else was going on in the world during the US Civil War.

Ethan was catching on to kindergarten concepts so well, I decided we'd jump right into a first-grade curriculum this fall. For our first "formal" year, I chose to closely follow the suggestions outlined in The Well-Trained Mind. It is sort of my safety net or the foundation of our homeschool.

For "core" subjects, I've stuck with the suggestions in the book and/or using books the authors created such as First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind for grammar, Writing With Ease Workbook for writing, Spelling Workout, and Story of the World. For math, we chose Saxon. I had to research a variety of math programs before choosing this one. We like it, though whether or not we'll use it in future years, I haven't decided yet.

I used the book suggestions for a science curriculum, combining animal study, human body, and plants, but to add in some hands on we're working our way through The Usborne Big Book of Experiments. Ethan LOVES the experiments because he thinks they're fun and I like that they take very little prep work and use mostly common household items (which also makes them a bit safer).

I've taken some of their suggestions a step further, using Harmony Fine Arts for our art and part of our music. I'm supplementing that with G Major Music Theory to teach music theory and piano basics.

We do a lot of reading. Ethan has quiet reading time and we read together a lot. Trips to our library are a weekly event. I choose nonfiction books that correspond with our studies for the week and he chooses fiction stories for his quiet reading time. We're working our way through the "Little House" series together and enjoying them a lot too. I love to see him enjoying reading and picking up books without prompting.

That pretty much covers our homeschool for this year. We started "full time" on the 8th and are getting into the groove. We ran out of time for his math lesson on Friday, and he reminded me on Saturday that we needed to do it!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Depot Arts Center

For the month of September, I've been asked to be a guest artist for the Dewey Beach Artists Fall Collection. at the Depot Arts Center in Anacortes.

I chose five pieces, two of which I made specifically for this show, to represent my work. At the opening last night, I got to see the very talented company I was in and felt honored to be included in this group of artists.

Here are two of the pieces I knit for the show:
Silk beaded bag
Beaded silk bag with Japanese seed beads.
Wavelength scarf
Crocheted Scarf

Here are some examples of the work produced by other artists in the collection(I got a little artsy with the photos):
Woven scarves by Laure Brooks
Bamboo Scarves
Raku pottery by Pat Ball:
"The World In Black and White"
Turned vase by Jerry Holmes:
Maple Vase
Steel salmon by John Sayre:

The bag and scarf are #29 & #30 for the 52-craft challenge. Once I finished knitting for the show, I lost the desire to knit for a little while. I am back at it now and hopefully will be catching up. The weather has definitely turned fall-like, which means less gardening and more knitting, sewing, and scrapbooking(I hope!)

Friday, September 4, 2009


I've been a scrapbooker for many years now. I really got into it when Ethan was born... I made small books for all the grandparents and great-grandparents chronicling his first year. Since then, I've done the occasional layout here and there, but found it difficult to have to put everything away half way through, just so the kid wouldn't get into it or so we could eat dinner.

Rolltop deskRolltop desk
I finally have a dedicated scrapbooking "corner" of my living room. Actually, it is an antique roll-top desk my mom gave me. It is perfect because I can just close the top when I'm done for the day, and not have to put all my stuff away. I actually got some scrapbooking done! The desk still is in need of some organization, but it is coming along nicely.

The layouts I finished are coming in at #26 and #27 in the 52 craft challenge. I know it sounds like I am WAY behind, but I have a few other finished projects that I just haven't posted yet.
Picture 002edit
Way back in 1993, when I was a senior in high school, I traveled to France with some class mates for spring break. Now, more than 15 years later, I finally get around to organizing and displaying the photos and things I brought home with me.

Knitting-wise, I did finish this cute little guy:
He is #28 in the 52 craft challenge.

The show at the Depot Arts Center opens tonight and I have 5 pieces on display. Now that I don't feel like I have to keep those projects under wraps, I'll photograph them and share them soon.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Artful Knitting

I'm quickly falling further and further behind on my 52 craft challenge, but I'm not stressing about that so much as the fact that a local artist's co-op has asked me to participate in a show that takes place in September. I have TWO months to come up with about 5 show-quality pieces of knitting. And here I thought the most exposure my knitting was going to get this year was at the Skagit County Fair. I might have to skip the fair this year, unless I can come up with a piece I don't plan to put in the art show. I'm excited about the opportunity to show off my knitting in a gallery setting, but I've only been knitting for a year and a half now... do they really think I'm good enough? I have one piece done, one bag that is knit and felted but needs lining and accessories, and a scarf that is almost half done. As the gallery prefers we display works that have not been displayed before, I kinda feel like I have to wait until the show starts to share the pieces I'm contributing. The pieces are in ravelry if you want to guess which ones they are.

Something I can share is item #25 in the 52 craft challenge. We're just wrapping up week #28, so that puts me on the verge of 4 weeks behind. My cousin is due to have a baby any day now, so I made her a hat and bootie set for the baby. I didn't know the gender, so I grabbed some fairly neutral yarn from my stash, found a couple of cute and easy patterns, and went for it.
Baby set

I just sent it off in the mail yesterday, so I haven't heard from her yet... but I'm hoping she enjoys and appreciates them. Since I knit them as a set, I'm only counting them as one item for the challenge, but if I get too much further behind, I just might change my mind!

I've been wanting to do some scrapbooking lately, but keep getting distracted by the "prep work" that seems to go into it. Yesterday, I started to brainstorm ideas, go through photos, and figure out what I wanted to work on and ended up scanning a box of old photos into my computer. Yes, it needed to be done and its a project I've been procrastinating on, but it isn't scrapbooking. Since I don't have a dedicated workspace for my scrapbooking, its a major event to get out all the stuff and when I do, Ethan always wants to "help." I've given him his own scrapbook and stickers to play with and that helps some. This week he'll be visiting his dad, so I might take the opportunity to spread out in the school room and leave the stuff out all week. Maybe I'll get inspired and get caught up with my challenge, but I still have all that knitting to do...javascript:void(0)

Back on the Wagon

Yes, it is summer... I seem to have trouble finding time to blog in the summer and yet, there is so much to blog about!

Our camping trip to Orcas Island:
Orcas Island is beautiful. I love visiting the San Juan Islands, and Orcas is my favorite. I've been there 3 times now. This was my first time camping on the island. We camped in Moran State Park and though our campsite was a little closer to the road that I would like, this was offset by the fact that we were right on Cascade Lake.
Moran Arch campsite
We were hoping to be able to fish from our campsite, but the water was a bit too shallow to fish from shore. It rained.

It rained lightly on Friday night, and we went to bed early because we were all tired from our ferry boat ride and setting up camp.

On Saturday, we drove up to the lookout on top of Mt. Constitution. This is the highest point in the San Juans and on a clear day you can see about 100 miles in every direction.
Moran Lookout
Unfortunately, it was cold and cloudy at the top, so we didn't stay long. On our way down the mountain, I took off on a side road to do a little hike. We ended up finding Cascade Falls about 1/2-mile off the road, and it was beautiful. The kids enjoyed being able to get right down to the bottom of the falls.


Sunday, we were just finishing up breakfast and starting to leisurely pack up when the sky opened up and it started to POUR! We scrambled to get everything packed up and get out of there but missed the ferry by 10 minutes and had to wait 2 hours for the next one.

We had a fun weekend, despite the rain, and look forward to one or two more camping trips this summmer.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I've been a bit of a slacker lately when it comes to blogging and there is so much to blog about!

I finished Ethan's sweater. I made the largest size (10-12) rather than his own size (6-8) because I was afraid he would be a size 10 by the time I finished it and/or I wanted him to be able to wear it more than just a few times. Of course, it is wool so it has been too warm for him to wear it yet. He was very excited about receiving it and insisted on taking it camping with us, though it didn't get cold enough to wear it there either.
Ethan's Sweater Ethan's Sweater
Ethan's sweater is #24 in the 52 craft challenge, and I'm now 3 weeks behind in my challenge. I have a couple of baby projects coming up, so hopefully that will help me catch up.

Next Post: Our camping trip

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summertime and some FOs

Summer is definitely underway in our neck of the woods. Our first camping trip of the year is planned for next weekend. I promised Ethan a ferry boat ride this summer, so we decided to combine it with camping and are headed off to Orcas Island.

The weather has been warm and dry (unusually dry for June actually) and Ethan has been participating in all kinds of activities. He just finished PeeWee Baseball and swimming. Next week he starts PeeWee Sports Camp and soon starts tumbling. I'm still trying to find that balance between what he wants to do without over scheduling him, and what our budget will allow. We don't stop school in the summer, but we are taking a slower pace. I also hope to make more time for field trips and special things as the summer weather cooperates, plus camping trips are great learning opportunities!

On to the FOs! The small monthly KAL/CAL I participate in has chosen the Wishy Washy Fishy Tawashi for our June project. This was a quick and easy knit. This is sort of a dish scrubby and I chose cotton rather than acrylic, because wet acrylic just feels gross to me, though it probably has better scrubbing power. This project is item #22 in my 52-craft challenge.
Fishy Tawashi

Item 23 in my 52-craft challenge was another apron for Ethan. This one he will use at home while helping me in the kitchen or working on art projects.
Ethan's Apron
We broke it in on Friday while making Strawberry Ice Cream from The Book of Days, a wonderful book by Stefani at Blue Yonder. The Summer book 1, the first one I purchased, is more than 30 pages full of kid-friendly and family-friendly activities that encourage families to slow down and enjoy their time together. There are recipes, nature activities, art projects, science projects, games, and more. Stefani has done all the work for you, including supplemental resources and ways to expand each activity in the Parent's Field Guide, included in each issue. I can already tell that this book is going to be a great source of fun and adventure, because it is all right in front of me, with minimal planning.

By the way, Stefani hand-illustrates the book (and her website), and the pictures are adorable!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tide pools

Friday I took Ethan on a field trip to Rosario Beach, where there are great tide pools. There we met Adam, the interpretive guide for Deception Pass State Park, who gave us a guided tour of the tide pools.
Here is the pool area of Rosario Beach:
Rosario Beach

We saw a lot of marine life that day, and I hope Ethan enjoyed it as well as learned from it. I'm sure we'll be back often as it is fascinating to see what lives in the pools and its close to home.

The first thing we saw when we got to the park were rabbits. It was late morning, and rabbits are plentiful on this island. They're also pretty fearless... I stayed on the trail and one that we passed didn't run away until I was about 2 feet away from him.

In the tide pools we got to see some cool things that aren't common unless there is a minus tide and you are looking for them.

We saw Red Sea Cucumbers:
Red Sea Cucumber

Tube Worms:
Tube Worms

and Anemone:

We also saw various limpets, chiton, shore crabs, a large rock crab, hermit crabs, barnacles, fish, and finished the trip of with an eagle flying over head.

Ethan finished the morning by throwing rocks in the water and jumping waves.
Ethan playing on the beach

You can see the rest of the photos from our tide pool adventures on Flickr.

Friday, June 5, 2009

52 craft challenge #21 Booga Bag

I have a group of internet friends that I do a monthly knit-along or crochet-along with. Our project for May was the Booga Bag. I decided to modify mine because as the pattern was written, the finished bag is about 4 x 7 x 8 and this just seemed too small for me. So, I made it bigger. I used Plymouth Boku in color "4", which is purple, green, and orange, and just a gorgeous colorway. I had a big problem with this yarn; 4 out of the six skeins had knots. Two of the skeins even had multiple knots. For a 50 gram skein, that is just WAY to many.

Now that it is done, I still LOVE the colors, but I've decided that I like the look of this bag as originally written, taller than it is wide... mine was much wider than it was tall. I just kept knitting until I ran out of yarn, and I bought 6 skeins.

The photo really doesn't do the bag justice... the colors are much more rich. I was having lighting issues when I took it.

Booga bag

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Gift

So my birthday is next month. About a week ago, I mentioned to Cliff that I planned on buying myself a new camera lens for my birthday and showed him which one I wanted. Well, he bought it for me! I know my birthday is still a month away, but he gave it to me now so he wouldn't forget what I wanted or get the wrong one. I got out and played with it a bit in the garden. It is a Canon EF 50 mm 1:1.8 II. From all the research I did, this appears to be a great priced, versatile lens. It is supposed to be great for portraits, but I didn't have a human subject handy, just flowers... so I played with bokeh.

I've not used a fixed lens before, so it was definitely a new experience. Here are some of my first attempts:





I think I LOVE this lens!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

52 in 52 #20

I'm still a week behind (about to be 2) but I whipped up this easy little cozy for my Zune (mp3 player). I needed something that I could wear around my neck when I'm walking or biking because the belt clip just doesn't cut it. I improvised the pattern, which I find so much easier to do with crochet than knit. The strap is just three chains braided together.

Zune Cozy