Saturday, January 1, 2011

Etsy Love

As I mentioned in my last post, we did a fair amount of our Christmas shopping and Christmas wish-listing on Etsy. I love Etsy. I could quite literally spend all day browsing the amazing arts and crafts to be found there and easily spend all of our money there. It supports small business folks and families. And you can really find sellers who are true forces for good in the universe, which is pretty hard to do at, say, the mall. This post is devoted to two Etsy sellers who made our Christmas fabulous.

First, my parents sent E this most amazing wooden truck from My Father's Hands. E was delighted in every way.

Yup. Love at first sight. Here's the part where the truck had to help us bake bread.

This was my parents' first Etsy purchase, and Tamar helped them through it. Maybe they'll order again sometime! I know that we will.

We ordered a whole mess of way cool peg people from Goose Grease Undone for E and his cousins. I've been meaning to order these for a year at least.

We got all sizes of people plus acorns and they were a hit. He plays with them all the time and uses them in all kinds of ways. They truly foster creative play! I can't wait until he has the attention span to paint them. In the meantime, he dresses them up in fabric scraps, which is pretty darn cute.

On the non-Etsy but still handmade front, Sarah's sister-in-law made us this beautiful quilt. The pattern is Oh, Fransson!, one of my favorite quilters. This quilt was on my If-I-Had-Six-Lifetimes-To-Live-Simultaneously Fantasy To Do list. I wasn't going to get around to it until easily 2019. Now I can scratch that off.

One of my 2011 goals is to continue the trend to buy local or small and make as much as we can. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

Another Christmas has come and gone. This year has definitely had its ups and downs, and if I'm honest, I'll admit that I'm really ready to bid 2010 a big see-ya-wouldn't-want-to-be-ya, but Christmas was just fine, thanks.

We are really trying to move toward less is more in terms of our consumption, both for us, for E, and for the world. I mean, we can save the world single-handed, right? So, we tried to offer up fewer gifts overall, and the ones we did give, we crafted ourselves, bought local, or bought Etsy. Or they were books, which I think are a force for good no matter how you look at it. The results were lovely.

On the handmade front, I made Kool-Aid dyed playsilks for E and his cousins.

I used this tutorial, but only did two microwavings. The silks are from Dharma Trading Company. The Kool-Aid is from the grocery store. Look at those amazing colors! Let me assure you, Kool-Aid is not a food. The entire process was superfun, if a bit stinky.

I also finally tried my hand at crazy quilting in a small wall-hanging for my mother-not-in-law, who had lent me this book.

We finally got around to buying peg people and acorns from Goose Grease on Etsy for E and the cousins. They are beautiful. And my parents bought E an amazing handmade dump truck from My Father's Hands.

He was quite excited. I believe his exact words were, "Yay!"

From Mother Nature, we received the perfect Christmas snow.

I mean, does it get any better than this?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Returns

Poor neglected blog. I have missed you. Silly life getting in the way of my blog. Since I last posted, we have been busy, busy, busy. Among things too numerous and dull to mention, we moved to a new apartment.

We are enjoying a beautiful Autumn in our new home. We are lucky to have found a place filled with amazing light and right down the street from a big park.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Crocheted Receiving Blankets!

When Ellis was born, my partner's mother and sister made us several amazing flannel receiving blankets with hand-crocheted edging. We loved them.

We still do.

They're bright and colorful. They make me smile.

I've been wanting to try my hand at making my own. They seemed like they would have a high effort to satisfaction ratio. As in, I would feel really pleased without working too hard. It turns out that they are a bit more labor-intensive than I would have thought at first glance, but they are totally worth it. And of course the first time you try something, it's always a bit harder and takes more time. Which is another way of saying the first try will always suck more than the subsequent tries.

I used some flannel we had in our stash, but I had to buy new yarn because I didn't have anything in the right weight. And since I was going to JoAnn's anyway and flannel was on sale for $2.48/yard (cue the choir of angels singing for that), I figured why not pick up extra? So I have enough for three blankets.

The first one is almost complete. It's all over but the weaving in.

Sidebar: Why is it that although I have a difficult time photographing detail on stitches or fabric, the few bits of dog hair show up beautifully? Perhaps I should take my camera off the "Crappy View" setting? Although in all honesty, my camera is a few years old and that might be the only setting that works anymore. And although I have been taking pictures since my sweet pink Kodak 110 in the seventh grade, I still pretty much feel like a novice.

These blankets involve a lot of steps, which is what makes them a bit tricky. I had to cut the flannel into a square, hem the edges, blanket-stitch all around, weave in the ends from that, single-crochet all the way around, and then do the fun edging. Still, I would call them a beginner project. I'm thinking of doing a tutorial because I had some trouble actually finding good instructions for making them. Perhaps because they are so easy, nobody thinks they need to explain them. Or perhaps I'm the only one who thinks they rock. But a tutorial is tough because it involves taking pictures as you go along and most of my working time is at night when the light is, you know, darkness. So I'm not making any promises on that.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

It's happening again, just like last year. Winter is giving way to Spring and it is awesome. Summer is my favorite time of year because I'm a heat junkie. Still, there's nothing quite like those first few days when you can go outside without your coat. Or in your pajamas.

There's nothing quite like feeling warm enough while wearing regular socks. And something about the light makes even the junk on your kitchen table seem glorious.

I fantasize pretty frequently about moving to some tropical climate without Winter. California, Hawaii, Belize. Maybe live on the beach and forget about my pasty white skin and wearing three pairs of socks just to be not freezing. The Minnesotan in me does wonder, though, if I could truly appreciate the warm if not for the cold. I'll never find out, though. I'm pretty sure I'm a midwesterner for life.

I'm searching for a nice transition into talking about something else and I'm failing. How about a nice springtime picture of my apron collection?

So I did actually fulfill most of my menu from last week. I made my first Corned Beef and Cabbage.

It turned out superdelicious, but there's no way I'm showing a picture of the meat. It was nothing short of utterly nasty looking. I was completely shocked at how yummy it tasted. It would have been even better if I'd been able to fit more cabbage in. My slow cooker was too small. I think I'm ready for a bigger size in the next few months. Hmm. I think I may be a housewife!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Menu Monday and Thrifty Thursday (Observed)

There are two kinds of people in the world: the kind that makes lists and the kind that doesn't. I am the first kind. I make lists of everything. Of course I make the traditional lists--grocery, to do, wish. And I make advanced lists--weekly menus, books to read, places I want to visit before I die. And I make crazy lists--what I'll do with my lottery winnings, what I'd plant in my fictional fish tank, chores I've already completed, lists of my lists. For me, list-making is a way of life. Lists help me organize my mind. I mean, I have a lot of thoughts. If I don't write down, for example, everything I want to knit, how will I remember it all? Of course, the list-making would probably be more fruitful if I followed my lists. I'm the queen of making a grocery list and leaving it on the kitchen table. I'm also the queen of adding things I've already done to my lists just for the pleasure of crossing them off.

However, one of the more useful lists I make and use is my Weekly Menu. Without it, I overspend and the grocery store and still have nothing to eat. So in many ways, the Menu list is a tool for making the grocery list. And that, my friends, is how making one list leads to making 60 and soon, you're spending your whole day making lists instead of accomplishing anything. But that's an issue for another time. For today, let's look at this week's menu.

Monday: Polenta
Tuesday: Enchiladas
Wednesday: Corned Beef and Potatoes
Thursday: Pea & Parsley Pesto with Linguine
Friday: Lentil Soup OR Spaghetti & Sauce
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Pizza

I'm also making Irish Soda Bread for a playdate here on Wednesday. My prediction is that I will not make the enchiladas and we'll have Spaghetti with Sauce from a jar tomorrow night. And I'm planning pizza from scratch for Sunday, but it could very well be frozen or take-out. And a lot of the time, I change around the days, because I might not want Lentil Soup on Friday. Stay tuned.

Shifting gears, there's been even more thrifting this week because, as you know, St. Patrick's Day is a major thrift store holiday. We're talking half off everything, baby. Last week I scored some major vintage love.

Now, some people might say, wow, that looks like a bunch of used kleenex. But I prefer the term "vintage handkerchiefs," thank you very much.

And, I know it looks like a lot (like, thirty), but I'll have you know, I left plenty for the next customer.

In addition to the various flowers and crocheted edging, I found this lovely ballerina.

And a very useful piece. On a diet and forgot your food counts book? No problem. Just consult your hankie!

I also found two matchy yellow rose crocheted potholders. The loops are unraveling, but I'm sure I can find a use for them anyway.

I'll save the rest for later when I have more pictures taken. I can't wait for Spring and its abundance of good picture-taking light. This winter gloom is really cramping my pic style.

Our party for Ellis went well last week-end, but we didn't get any pictures because both of us were running around like crazy people. It's very hard to really "enjoy" one's own party. But here are some shots of the pre-party. Glam-ing it up and making some tea:

Deciding instead on a juice box:

He styled his own hair. Seriously. A budding Paul Mitchell? Perhaps.

The party itself was fun but ended predictably in tears when Ellis hugged his friend so hard they fell over and Ellis banged his head on his chair. He got a pretty sizable goose egg but was ultimately a-okay.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another Thrift Thursday

So here we are and only one week has elapsed since my last post. Rather spectacular, if you ask me. Since last week, two more friends had babies, one boy, one girl. I'm double excited because I'll be doing some babysitting for the little boy when his mama heads back to work. It'll be a good way for me to see if I can do a newborn alongside my little stunt man.

Time will tell.

Over the week-end, my friends who weren't in labor went to a superfun toddler toga birthday party for Ellis' friend Piper.
Ellis and his friend Piper have birthdays one day apart, which I think is pretty cool. Piper's mama Josee writes the blog Jitterbug Mom, which I also think is pretty cool.
She has more to say about the festivities here. But suffice it to say, with handmade headbands, toddler togas and an Annie cake (slightly off-theme but completely delicious), Josee set a pretty high bar.

Grapes and juice boxes? E thought he was on Fantasy Island, but with an Ancient Greece theme. It was the kind of party that you hope never ends. Of course, with a toddler, all good parties must end, usually with tears. I hope our party this week-end will be even half as fun with even more tears.

With Sarah still on injured reserve, we're going back to basics: cupcakes, sandwiches, balloons, and chaos. And I may clean the house. Emphasis mine. I am, however, doing laundry, primarily because there is a limit to how many days we can all go without underwear. Ellis is potty training, so he goes through his stash pretty quickly. Sarah and I do better, averaging about one pair per day, but a person only has so much underwear. Anyway, even if the party is a dismal failure, at least we'll have clean underwear.

It's been pretty tough with Sarah's surgery, but this week I was lucky to have two days with babysitters this week. Which translated into four hours of mama alone time. It was bliss. Four hours to use as I pleased. So did I clean the house? Do the laundry? Prepare for the massive party I'm having this week-end? Nope. I thrifted like there was no tomorrow.
Very therapeutic. And I guess I could make the argument that it was related to party planning.

Isn't that just fabulous? The inside is just as awesome.

I think my mom used to have this book and I used to pour over it and try to get her to plan elaborate theme parties for me to no avail. I did once get a Barbie cake, though.

I also scored some vintage rick-rack and trim.

And a cutie-pie glass jar that I'm imagining filled with jelly beans in the very near future.

And a vintage children's book that I'm pretty sure we also had when I was a kid.

It's funny how I spend a lot of my time purchasing things I already owned. I'm sure my urge to thrift is party related to some desire to recreate or recapture or improve upon my own childhood. We humans are such suckers for the past.

I also got a treat for myself, and it was not vintage at all.

I love Everyday Food. It gives me hope that I might actually cook amazing and nutritious foods for my family on a daily basis and not just feed them mac and cheese 3/7ths of the time. Hey, it could happen.