Easter basket

This is the first year I’ve put together an Easter basket for the Peanut. Last year he was only 4 months old so there really wasn’t much point in an Easter basket last year. Though he did wear the most adorable little onesie with bunnies and chicks on it that read: “Team Jellybean.” Anyway, this year I crocheted the Peanut a little bunny using this pattern. I also picked up a board book about baby mountain goats. The photos in the book were taken by a local photographer. I also found a little wind-up bird that hops at the grocery store. I have no doubt it will break pretty quick, but it was cheap and it’ll be entertaining for Peanut. Finally, I bought some plastic eggs that have a neat metallic sheen to them. I only used half in the Easter basket and filled a couple of them with Cheerios so the eggs rattle and Jonathan can munch on the contents.

Easter basketI am rather pleased with Peanut’s first Easter basket. In years to come I’m sure we’ll add a chocolate bunny (is there anything more fun on Easter than chomping the ears right off a chocolate rabbit?) and an age-appropriate toy or book. This is probably the only year I can have the basket sitting out in the open and Jonathan just ignores it. Next year will be a different story, I’m sure! But that’s what the top shelf of the closet is for!

Here’s a couple more photos of the charming little crochet bunny, which was so easy and quick to make up:

Crochet bunny

Crochet bunny closeupAren’t the button eyes adorable? It reminds me of reading the book “The Velveteen Rabbit” when I was younger. Speaking of which, that book would be a great Easter present for older children.

We’re spending Easter at a new friend’s house. Jonathan and my new friend’s 22-month-old daughter will be Easter egg “hunting”! And by hunting I mean picking up the eggs strewn about in plain sight. While Mom and Dad put back mimosas and deviled eggs. Maybe there are better things than chocolate bunny ears after all…

Happy Easter, everyone!

 

 

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Bring your lovin’ back here

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Usually I’m pretty “meh” on the Hallmark holiday that celebrates a man’s beheading because he advocated for love marriages instead of arranged marriages. But this year I feel like celebrating a little, and even got my husband a card! (We have strictly not observed Valentine’s Day since we began our relationship nearly five years ago because people shouldn’t need a specific day to buy each other flowers and cards and such.)

And of course, I also made a little Valentine’s mobile/garland because why the heck not.

V-day garland

The top heart is red, then pink, then the middle and bottom hearts are the same yarn as I used for Olive’s hat, and the fourth heart is white. To hang them I strung some crochet thread that’s pink and white I had on hand through the back of each heart. Here’s the pattern for the hearts if you want to make some of your own. They whip up in minutes!

P.S. Ten virtual brownie points if you can guess which band wrote the lyrics in this post’s subject line. Here’s a link to the song (with some awesome Pepe LePew cartoonage!).

Holiday centerpiece

OK, so I’m not really into “tablescaping” or fancy place settings when guests are coming over for dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I think they look great, but I just don’t have the servingware, the candlesticks (well, I do have four… but they need polishing badly so I’m embarrassed of them currently!), the foufy fouf pumpkin-shaped soup tureens or feather Christmas trees or turtledove salt-and-pepper shakers. (Yes, foufy fouf is the technical term.) I’d like to do more nice table setting for dinners but I usually am more focused on getting the meal ready down to the last second than planning how my table is going to look. And since last time I checked my guests would rather eat food than place mats, I’ll stick with cooking good food.

However! We had some friends over for New Year’s Eve (old people with kids style! which means, eat dinner at 5:30 p.m., everyone goes home at 8 p.m., we’re cleaned up and in bed at 10 p.m.) and I did manage to throw together a last-minute center piece.

It’s a little fruity, with some rustic Montana flair, but I liked it. In my own fruity foufy fouf way.

Center piece 1

I put together the center piece with some things I already had around the house. I used a mule deer antler shed, some pine cones, a red and white snowflake bowl, a ribbon, and some glittery ornament balls.

Center piece 2

 

No nice tablecloth or anything. Just my dinged, scratched, stained, and glass ring-riddled tabletop. Someday I’ll refinish the table or we’ll get a new one. But in the meantime, despite it’s “well loved” appearance, it’s a good table and it was free. And you know what? No one said a word about the table or the center piece (OK, it was a bit weird… but I could totally see something like that popping up in the Pottery Barn catalogue, amirite?), but they liked the food!

Winter time

For me, winter is about reflection on the past year, letter writing, curling up with a good book and some hot chocolate, and projects. Let’s start with the last first and move backward from there. (Trying to make up for my lack of posts here with a long one with lots of photos, folks!)

I taught myself to crochet in October and have been pretty much a crochet fiend since then. I made almost all of the Christmas presents I gave this year, and while that did add to my stress load a bit as the holiday approached (pretty much spent all free time crocheting), I’m glad I did it. Homemade gifts are far more appreciated than store-bought ones. Of course I forgot to take pictures of all the different lovelies I created because I was more concerned with getting them done than snapping photos. Wish I’d been more diligent about my picture taking but well, next time. I made crochet snowflakes (both with crochet thread, which is quite time-consuming, and with worsted weight yarn) for my grandmothers, ear warmers for my female cousins and sister (they all matched, but were different colors: blue, orange, 2 purple, pink), and cowls/scarves for my mom (wave stitch in a delightful autumn red), a friend (double crochet fans), another friend and my step-mom (broomstick lace in china blue). Here are photos of a couple of them:

Crochet thread snowflake

I have a whole new appreciation for these crochet thread snowflakes. They take forever! I think each of the two I made took nearly three hours.

Crochet yarn star

These yarn snowflakes on the other hand I can whip up in about 15 minutes.

Scarf for Elise

Broomstick lace cowl

Matching headbands for cousinsThese are my two of my cousins and my sister (in the middle) with their matching ear warmers. Here’s where I found the pattern.

Currently I am working on a hat for a friend who is expecting a daughter in February, two sweaters for my son (one knitted, one crocheted), and finishing a star garland that is holiday festive. I plan to have the latter finished by tonight or tomorrow afternoon before the New Year’s Eve party my husband and I are throwing. We’re excited for the party and for the fact that we’re going to celebrate the new year at about 7 p.m. so that all of our friends (the majority of whom have babies/kiddos) can go home and go to bed. When you’ve got a little boy who wakes up between 5 and 6 a.m. every day, watching the ball drop at midnight (oh and we don’t even have a TV to do that, whoops) is pretty unimportant compared to 8 hours of sleep.

I love these little projects. I’m a stay-at-home and craft all day sort of person, but I only allow myself to do that sort of thing in the winter months because it’s just too nice where I live in the summer to stay inside and craft. Summer is for gardening and hiking.

I’ll post more about my star garland soon. I’m going to post something of a tutorial for it. I found the tutorial elsewhere, but it’s in Australian crochet terms, which are a bit different than American, and I’ve streamlined/made less confusing some of the steps. I post a link to the original, of course, but I’ll update the tutorial. It’s a quick and easy garland that can really add some festive this time of year.

Stars garland beginnings

So on to reading and hot chocolate. Where we live, it snows a lot during the winter (and is currently), so we spend most of our time inside (though we love to ski, snowmobile, and snowshoe too!). And since it’s dark so much here in the northern U.S. (sun sets by about 5 p.m. and doesn’t come back up ’til 8 a.m. or so) in the winter, there isn’t much to do in the evening hours but craft and read. Here’s a photo from our living room (oh right, it’s been so long since I posted I forgot to tell you all we moved to town!)

Snowy view

My reading has changed a lot since my son was born. Used to be that I could dash through two or so novels a week. Now if I finish a novel in a month, I’ve clearly had a lot of time to read! I’m re-reading Little Women right now, which is one of my favorite books (and movie! – the one with Winona Ryder) for sentimental reasons. I love that my copy of the book has an inscription from my aunt, who gave me the book a decade ago.

Little Women inscription

The inscription reads: “Christmas 2002, To our dear Kelley, It has been such a pleasure and delight to watch you grow up into such a fine young woman. We hope you will enjoy these books just as I did as a young girl and pass them onto your own one day. We wish you all the best, Kelley, and love you very much. Auntlee, Uncle Chris, Kylee & Hali.

I have ever so many other books on my reading list, and am supremely grateful for the Amazon gift card I received for Christmas for buying books! I try to use the local library as much as possible, but with my reading time so brief every day I often have to return the books I’ve checked out before I’ve finished them (or sometimes even cracked the cover). And I also try to patronize our local book stores (we don’t have a box chain bookstore here anymore… which is so completely awesome) too, but you can’t argue with gift cards! I need to be better about updating my “What I’m Reading” tab on this blog… but I don’t get much reading in these days so that’s why it doesn’t change much! I also have subscriptions to the New Yorker magazine and High Country News magazine, so I try to get those read too.

Rounding the corner to writing letters: I love to write letters (the snail mail variety) and trade frequent letters with a friend who lives in the mountains in Colorado. We’ve been writing each other letters since college. I have a shoebox stuffed full of letters from her and need to catalogue them in a binder one of these days. I also try to write semi-frequent letters to my grandmother, and to several other friends who I know appreciate that sort of thing. I just picked up a new pen for my letter writing and can’t wait to bust it out (yes I have to have a specific pen for letter writing or it’s just not as enjoyable). I also have scads of thank-you notes to write for Christmas presents. I was raised that one MUST write thank-you notes for Christmas and birthday presents and while I loathed writing thank-you notes for years, now I’m appreciative of the fact my mother made me write them. It’s a little gesture that means a lot. Just like a letter.

Finally, winter is a time of reflection. It’s for thinking about the year gone by (and holy moly was this an epic year), and thinking of the year to come. It’s for sitting in living rooms watching the snow fall. It’s for visiting friends and talking about what they’re reflecting upon to. Few things are closer to heaven for me than sitting with good friends engaged in good conversation in front of a fireplace or wood stove while the snow falls without. Seriously blissful.

I have two New Year’s resolutions this year. And I’m not a resolutions sort of person, but this year it just feels right.

1. Do yoga 2-3 times a week. There’s a yoga studio/wellness center in my town that has yoga classes three times a week for $7 a class. I can’t wait to start on Wednesday. For me, yoga is good, low-impact exercise. And I need flexibility and centeredness back in my life.

2. Write. Every. Day. EVERY DAY. I have three novels in the works (one fiction, one historical fiction, one gothic children’s fiction) and they’re never going to get done if I don’t work on them diligently. So my goal is 500 words (one page in Word) every day. I’ve already started this resolution and today is day three of success.

So there, I did it. Snuck a post in this December. Whew. It was getting down to the wire there, folks.

Happy New Year! I have a feeling 2013 is going to be pretty rad.

Festive scarf

I actually completed this scarf about a month ago, but didn’t post pictures until it had made its way to the person who I made it for (sent it early so she could get more use out of the scarf this winter instead of waiting until late December). Didn’t want to spoil the surprise since she reads this blog! It was the very first thing I made after learning how to crochet. Here’s a link to the pattern. The only thing I did differently from the pattern is use three different colors in the scarf instead of one. I thought that made it a bit more interesting (the pattern is pretty enough for just one color, though!). If anyone is interested in where I find the patterns I use (I’m a tightwad, so I find free ones, but make sure to give credit where credit is due), please consider following my crochet board on Pinterest!

I whipped this scarf up in no time at all. A very quick pattern!

So far my handmade Christmas presents are coming along nicely! It’s much more fun than shopping. Have I ever mentioned how much I loathe shopping?

Little pumpkins

For Jonathan’s first Halloween, I picked up a pumpkin shirt for him to wear as a costume. I wasn’t about to spend a lot of money on a baby costume for two reasons: one, cute as baby costumes are, they just feel like a waste of money to me, at least the first year; and two, Shawn and I didn’t have plans to be anywhere, so why spend money when we two were the only people who would see the Peanut’s costume? I did however have some cute photo ideas for his simple costume. And those ideas included carving a pumpkin with Jonathan. He preferred to watch the carving of our ‘Jack. We tried to get him to stick his hands in the pumpkin guts and feel the slimy, oozy-ness, but he wasn’t too into that. While we jointly carved the pumpkin, Shawn and I realized neither of us had carved a pumpkin since high school, perhaps even earlier than that. What a strange realization! We do, of course, have a lot of pumpkin carving in our futures! So without further ado, here’s some photos of our little pumpkin and his big orange friend.