finished projects

Last week felt a lot like treading water.  I’m happy to say both kids are much better now, but there was a lot of wiping noses and soothing fevers and delaying things like showers and meals for me in efforts to keep up.

I did manage to finish two knits though.  Knitting after bedtime was my sanity, and the reward doubled when I actually got to see finished results.

I finished a quick knit with this reversible cowl. I had some thick wool gifted to me, and I wanted to use it for something like this.

Reversible Cowl

And I am so happy to say that I finally finished my Henslowe shawl! I somewhat started this in December, but the holidays were crazy busy, and I couldn’t get much more than a few rows done without interruption. I picked it up again in January, and I finally finished up the edging on Friday. I love this yarn so much.

Henslowe

Henslowe

Henslowe

I’m not sure if I will look like an old lady when I wear a shawl, but I fully intend to wear it anyhow.

Henslowe Shawl

Large or small, a finished project of any kind feels so good, doesn’t it?

back at it

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We are settling back into normal routines around here.  The holiday felt so long with the bulk of the time off after Christmas.  Jude is back at school this week, and I know if it feels like a long time away to me, it certainly must feel even longer to him.  Only two mornings a week hardly allows you to settle in a schedule anyhow, but now that he’s had almost three weeks off, it was almost new again. He was happily playing Batman yesterday morning when it was time to get dressed, and he just matter-of-factly told me that he didn’t want to go to school today, which is a first for him to say.  Post-holiday business is hard for all of us, I guess.

This week, I’ve caught up on Downton Abbey and done some light organizing, or as much as I can do with two little people under my feet all the time.  Evenings have been slow and cozy with lots of knitting.  I hardly picked up my needles at all over the holidays, but it feels good to be back at it. I’m about a third of the way through Henslowe, and I can’t wait to wear it, even if it makes me look like an old lady.

I love January right now, which is completely out of character for me in my usual hatred of winter.

lately

I’ve been knitting a lot lately.  A cowl for Jude’s teacher’s Christmas gift.  And I’m  one-down, one-to-go on a pair of mitts.  It feels so good when the kids are in bed at night and I’ve just been treading water all day, but then I can sit down and focus intently on something and have a tangible result to show for my efforts.

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Because somehow even though “keep the kids alive” or “make and clean-up three meals a day” or ” nurse and nurture a growing baby” or “complete a million loads of laundry” are really time-consuming tasks, it can feel like such a blur when I try to remember what I actually accomplished that day. Making something with my own hands feels so rewarding sometimes.

The weather is cooling off quickly, and mornings are cold. Even I, with my usual disdain for chilly weather, am thinking this feels good.

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*** This post liked to Just Write this week.

Big news!

I think the last knitted project (or any project really) that I completed was Norah’s baby blanket.  I forgot to take photos of it or post photos here, but you can see it a bit in the background of this picture. It’s soft and cuddly, and we really use it a lot. I am happy with how it turned out.

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And that was in, I don’t know, April maybe?  I’ve been a little swallowed up in the regular everyday business of raising two busy little people.  But guess what?  I actually finished a craft!  And that is a BIG DEAL nowadays.  A quick little knit, but it counts for something.  How sweet is Norah in this little shrug?  [Btw, my hand is steady at the edge of this Bumbo seat, I promise.]

Norah's Shrug

Norah's Shrug

I always say this is far from a knitting blog, so I won’t list all the details, but here’s the Ravelry link if you are interested.  Things are calming down around here, and we are getting in to a rhythm, and I’m actually accomplishing things every now and then.  It feels good.

Happy Halloween, reader.  I’ll be back later this week with a few pictures.

new year

It’s 2012, y’all.  When did that happen?  It seems like the Y2K nonsense was a few years ago at the most, but I guess time is flying faster than I think.  I’m not quite used to writing the date yet, but I’m excited for what the year brings.  A new baby of course.  And lots of other exciting moments that I can’t predict, I’m sure.

I finished up my 2011 resolution with a few little sewn Christmas gifts that I stuffed in to bags and boxes at the last possible second without taking a real photo.  I made yet another car cozy and a few of these little crayon rolls.  I put one of the crayon rolls in Jude’s stocking, and now it resides in my purse where it’s already proven useful for entertainment in a tight spot.  I think pairing it with a few coloring books is going to be my favorite gift for birthdays this year.  So simple and so useful.  I also knit these little booties for my cousin’s baby girl who should arrive this month.
finished booties

Cue the “awwwwww” because they are so unbelievably tiny.  And now I want to knit a million things for Norah.  Baby projects are so fast, even for a slow knitter like me.

So this year will be nuts and as much as I love the fresh-start feeling of January first, I am not going to aim too high on the resolutions this year. It is not the year to reorganize my entire house or learn a new craft or do anything very time-consuming. I know for sure how overwhelmed I will feel at moments after our new arrival and the crazy task of taking care of two littles instead of only one.

There are so many things I’d like to do and change this year: I want an organized house that runs on a perfect schedule and never gets dirty.  I want to simplify almost everything in my life.  I want fresh laundry put away in its proper place each day.  I want the time and energy to complete creative projects.  I want to exercise every day.  I want to always have fresh, healthy food on the table for myself and my family.  I want to lose the pregnancy weight at a record speed and feel better than ever.  I want a lot.  And hopefully in the next 365 days, I will have shining moments on all of those feats and I’ll feel that I’m growing better and stronger.  But I will soon have two kids under three years old, and I know enough to know that this year might be a time when I need to be gentle on myself.

So when I think about what’s important to me in this season of my life, so to speak, I know I want to focus on slowing down and seeing the good in every day, no matter how hectic or unexpected things become.  I enjoyed my 365 project in many ways, and I’ve missed taking photographs.  While it’s impossible to actually slow things down, feeling gratitude and stepping back from the moment for a minute are two really good ways to get started on that task.  Plus I know I’ll want to take a million photos as the baby arrives anyhow, so my only resolution this year is to take a photo a day and hopefully learn my way around Lightroom a bit.  I don’t really edit at all now, except for the occasional cropping.  I’d love to know a little more about how to edit properly though.

I started on January first with a picture of Jude’s art desk during naptime when it was undisturbed.  The house felt nice and quiet after such a busy couple of weeks, and it felt like a good place to start.  It’s not overly symbolic.  Just a quiet moment and as good a place to start as any.

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I know some of the 300+ photographs will feel special and others won’t.  It’s really just the daily practice I’d like to cultivate a bit, and it’s such a monumental year to document with photos.  I can start off with a bang, too!  In a few days, I’ll have lots to capture on camera.


We are heading to Paris in what will probably be the last tag-along trip for a while.  The Husband has work to do there, so I’ll be entertaining myself and Jude for about five days, but then we are following it up with another few days of a real vacation.  A last hoorah before life gets a lot busier.  I know it’s not the ideal travel situation: I’m sporting a sizable belly, my son is two, and it’s winter.  But really it’s an opportunity for [mostly] free travel, and I can’t say no.  Croissants!  And crepes!  And the Eiffel Tower!  And cheese!  And cafes!  Winter or not, pregnant or not, toddler or not, it’s still Paris and one of my absolute favorite places on the globe.

I hesitated a bit about saying something here because I am a little more paranoid these days about announcing when I’m out-of-town since my neighbor’s house was robbed while they were away.  In reality though, my readers are mostly fellow thoughtful mamas who don’t know where I live at all or close friends of mine who know me well, so I’m coming clean instead of letting that paranoia dictate what I write about.  Plus do you really think I’ll spend ten days there without checking in once or twice?  I doubt it.  So if you have stumbled across a random mommy blog and you now want to rob my house, be assured I have an alarm system, someone looking after my place frequently while I’m gone, and two very large dogs.  And essentially nothing of value except a television with toddler finger prints all over it.

And to the rest of you, happy new year!  I hope your 2012 will be full of countless happy moments and new adventures.  I’ll check in soon.  Au revoir!

Crafting Update – October and November

We are a few weeks away from the end of the year, and I am one month away from actually completing a New Year’s Resolution, y’all!  That is big news and never happens on most years.  Way back in January, I resolved to actually complete a handmade-something each month instead of just fumbling through some half-done stuff that clutters my space and serves no purpose.  Details can be seen in my “crafting” category , but here’s a quick list of what I have accomplished this year:

When I look at this list, I realize a couple of things:  I need to branch out on the knitting and take on more challenging projects or at least stop my cowl obsession and do some new things.  But also, I see that I actually DID something this year.  Lots of somethings actually.  I mean I didn’t even know how to knit when I made this resolution!  It feels good to look back and see what moments fill our days and what we make of them.  Part of the charm of keeping a blog like this is keeping track of day-to-day details, and I hope my crafting adventures haven’t been too mundane for you to follow.

For the end of the year, my crafting has slowed, but I’ve managed a few things in these past two months.  I finished Jude’s second year album which you have already seen a lot of, but here’s the design I did for the cover.  I used Shutterfly to print again, and I am really happy with the results.
Closing in on the Year TWO book!I also put together a Halloween costume for someone who hates to wear uncomfortable clothing.  It didn’t survive the evening with a rowdy toddler boy, but here’s the sushi costume as the night began.  I used this guide I found on Pinterest.

Sushi Costume

For November, I finished a cute pair of baby booties for a good friend.  I neglected to take a photo, but the pattern is here if you are interested.  My cousin’s baby shower also prompted me to do this quick hat.  Such a fun and useful little knit for a winter baby.  I love the tiny ear flaps.

baby ear flap hat

I also finally finished my cowl I started way back in August.  I was knitting this just for myself, so it got pushed to the back with some gifty things taking priority.  Plus I HATED this yarn so intensely. It sticks and I despised knitting with it.  I should have read Ravelry reviews before buying it because pretty much everyone else has the same opinion.  It looks lovely once it’s done, but it was a pain to work with.  I do love a fall tweed though.  But really, y’all, this is it for the cowls.  I am seriously over them and moving on to some hats or a sweater or some mittens or something.

That’s it for October and November.  I hope to get another thing or two completed in December, and thanks again for reading as I chugged along on my projects!

Choo Choo, Jude is two! (our train birthday party)

Last year we threw a huge carnival birthday bash for the big number one, but we decided to do something a little smaller this year since our fall has been pretty busy around here, and I wasn’t sure I could tackle another big party lately.  So we had family and a couple of close friends over on Saturday to celebrate Jude’s second birthday boxcar style, and it was so fun!

It all started with Jude’s obsession over Virginia Lee Burton’s Choo Choo children’s book, and it kind of grew from there.  I wanted to go more classic train / hobo boxcar riding sort of feel rather than Thomas the Train which meant that I couldn’t depend on any pre-made party stuff because Thomas is EVERYWHERE.  (Not that I have a problem with Thomas.  Jude has a couple of little Thomas the Train books and toys people have given him, and he loves them.  I’m just not a fan of branding in the sense of wearing shirts to advertise or throwing parties devoted to one certain character.  Plus he never watches the show, and the idea was to do something the birthday boy would love!)  

It came together really well, and it was so simple and easy to do.  Most of these ideas are borrowed from Pinterest or internet stumbles, so borrow away if you have a train-obsessed little like I do and you want to use this theme.   (By the way, I never watermark my photos even though I know I should, but my previous birthday party posts are by far the most read entries on this blog, so I marked these pictures for people who stumble on it.)

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For decorations, I ordered some cheap red and blue bandanas from Oriental Trading Company, and I used those everywhere.  It was affordable and cute, and now I have a million bandanas in my party bin, so maybe one day I’ll know someone having a western party or something, and they’ll get some more use.  I saw this great collage on Pinterest, and I decided to do one for our party as well.  It was easy to put together, and guests really liked seeing the progression of the past year, I think.  Kids change so much between one and two; it’s crazy to look back!

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I used the bandanas on the drinks table by typing them on some twine and then combining them with a simple railroad sign from yellow posterboard.  This photo was taken after the party when guests had already consumed most of it, but you get the idea.  I layered brown craft paper with newspaper, and we served drinks in classic mason jars to keep things looking homemade and old.  Jude was really pumped to have juice boxes in the house because he normally gets water with a splash of juice.  I guess it’s the little things.
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I also set up a table outside and used the bandanas there, too.  I layered them over the brown paper and then used some simple mums for fall decor.

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The food spread was simple, and I assembled most of it the day before so that I only had to throw things in the oven the morning of the party.  Jude loves breakfast food, so we had a brunch at 10:30am with some of his favorite eats.  The breakfast casserole I used is the one we eat every Christmas morning.  You assemble it the night before, store it in the fridge, and then just place it in the oven.  It’s a passed-down recipe and really delicious!  I’ll share the recipe sometime when it won’t get lost in a long party post.
food table

In my internet perusing of train parties, I saw the terms “chugga chugga” and “chew chew,” and I thought they were so clever that I had to steal them.
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food

With a birthday in October, it’s hard to say no to some kind of fall treat.  Last year it was Martha’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, and this year is was Pumpkin Spice Latte in the crockpot.  Perfect for a fall brunch!

For packaging favors, I really wanted to do hobo sticks for the kids like this Pinterest find. But then I remembered that there would be toddler boys present, and long sticks were maybe a bad idea, so I ended up bundling the favors in a bandana and just placing them on the gifts table.  It is sort of like a hobo bindle without a stick, I guess.
gifts!

Inside each bundle was a train conductor hat for each kid, and I loved that they were inexpensive, fun, and not candy.  One party-goer wore it especially well.
Jack the Train Conductor

And each family also got a CD of train songs hand-picked by my husband.  That was totally his project, and he did it well.  I forgot to get a photo of the CDs all together, but we had an awesome list of songs.  There’s a lot of good train music out there!

Birthday Party-p0017

Lastly, I didn’t make my own cake or cupcakes this year, so we used a local bakery whom we love and who did our wedding cakes years ago.  I wanted them to go opposite of cartoon colors and trains, so they made a simple and classic looking cake that was pretty delicious, too.

cake time

All in all, it was such a fun party, and I loved putting it together.  Jude really sort of “got it” more this year than before, and it makes me excited for the holidays around the corner as well!  There are a million other great train party ideas that I’d love to tackle, but one can only do so much, I guess.  Check out my Pinterest board for lots of other cute ideas I ran across.