06 December 2009

Oh the weather outside was delightful. . .

I begged. I pleaded. Please. . .
And so it did.
Even if it was in North Carolina. Even if I had to leave only hours after this picture was taken. Even if most of this had melted away by the time we loaded puppies and bags and my favourite Converse, now frozen, into the car to head back home. It still snowed. And I was so happy. It was like a winter wonderland. I'm a southern girl so I'm not used to having snow, which is probably why it makes me so indescribably happy. Roscoe liked watching it fall too.

Last weekend, after all of the Thanksgiving craziness had ended, I got our house all tarted up for Christmas. One of the things I gave up with the addition of puppies was any sort of comfort level with putting up a tree covered in tiny blown glass ornaments that have taken me years and years to collect. (Karin understands my trepidation.)
So I've had to resort to this tiny tree, perched up high on a shelf in my living room, plus
these lights in my office in front of my desk, plus
these lights around my kitchen window.
Even Steve got into the spirit. . .

Hope everyone out there is having a merry December too!

28 November 2009

Happy days after Thanksgiving

It has been a total whirlwind here. My whole week pre-Thursday was spent in preparation for two wonderful get togethers we had planned. The first of these was Thanksgiving. It was supposed to be a very small dinner at my beach family's house - just the two of us, the two of them and her cousin. Suzan called me on Thursday morning to tell me to hold off a bit on coming out to the island because maybe we were adding a few more people to the guest list. Our party quickly went from five to fifteen. A good friend had family in town and we discovered that they were going to a restaurant downtown for dinner. Not because that seemed glamourous, mind you, but because they didn't have room to feed everyone. The island house could host an army so in an instant, our party tripled.
Most people would panic at the mere thought of this. I thought the girl at Whole Foods was going to cry for me. But one of the many things I've learned over the past few years is to take everything in stride and adapt. Very hard for a girl who likes A PLAN. So off to Whole Foods I went and everyone was given a job and all went smoothly. In fact, the day turned out even better than if it had just been the five of us. The additions were delightful people and even though we'd just met, they felt like family. My job was to make a gingerbread dressing, a recipe from Nigella Lawson's Feast. I made gingerbread the night before which was moist and wonderful. To that you add sauteed onions and apples and crispy bacon. We were curious but unsure so we had a second dressing just in case. It was oddly wonderful. I'm not sure it will make an appearance every year, but I definitely put it into my "recipes that worked" cookbook.
And we finally got to bust out the Turbo Chef. That thing is amazing. You just dial in what you're cooking and it does all of the calculations on temperature and timing for you. We cooked the turkey above (12lbs and stuffed) in an hour and a half!!! And if it hadn't been stuffed, it would have taken only 42 minutes!! I pine for one of those things. Someday. . .

Yesterday we hosted a huge oyster roast for somewhere between 50-70 people. It was a very fluid thing with some guests departing while new ones arrived so it's hard to say how many people we had. The weather was perfect. Chilly enough to be wearing jackets while you were gathered around the oyster pit and fire, but not so cold that you needed mittens to hold your frosty adult beverage.

The picture below is of people gathered around the oyster table. You roast them over the fire, load them up in a pail and dump them out on this table which is a plank of plywood balanced on two sawhorses. There is a hole cut out in the middle with a big trash can beneath for tossing the oyster shells (which are taken to the recycling center the next day).
I'm not a huge oyster fan but I love the party and all of the other stuff that goes along with it. And I'm fairly confident in saying that a good time was had by all. Now all I want to do today is nurse my tiny too-much-wine hangover and sprawl on the sofa with the puppies watching TV and knitting.

I'm working on a baby blanket for my two vets who just had a baby. Nothing exciting to show yet. And working on other stuff too. More pictures later.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to you all. I love you all lots and wish I could've given each one of you a big hug this weekend. Just know that you're all in my heart.

12 November 2009


Our big boy is two years old today. I can't believe it. It seems like we just brought him home last week. It's hard to imagine what our lives would be like without him. He's my heart. He's turned out to be such a surprise - not the puppy we thought we wanted, not what we thought we were getting, but something much better than that. The perfect puppy for us. He fits us. He's sweet. He's a snuggler. He loves to give kisses. He melts our hearts with his big brown eyes and floppy ears and when he rubs his face with his paws. Simply put - we love him. Happy birthday Roscoe.

Here are a few of the things I'm working on now. Obviously - at least I think obviously - the blue item on the left is a beaded scarf. So easy to do once I figured out how to cast on with beads. As usual, I got very frustrated when getting started. Why do the pattern books assume that readers know how to do these things?? Why don't they instead assume that, for some of us, this will be our first beaded project? Go ahead and give me instructions on how to do it. If I know how to do it already, I can just skip over the beginner part. Cripes. The red block on the right (with a cable that's kinda hard to see) is the beginning of one half of a pair of fingerless gloves. It doesn't get all that cold here in South Carolina so I'd like to keep my hands warm but still be able to drive and pick things up. Gloves are usually an issue for me because I have pretty small hands. The fingers are always too long. Hopefully this will remedy that situation. Of course, in my usual knuckleheaded way, I've found a pattern that I liked but am making them smaller because I'm using really chunky yarn. Yep. I'm knitting off the grid again. How maverick-y. Why can't I learn my lesson?? We'll see how these turn out. Fortunately they're a very quick knit - again owing to the chunky yarn - so not a huge time investment if they're not good.

Plus I'm working on other Christmas presents so no posting of those here. And I have a pattern on my desk for some patchwork stockings. Oh, to have more hours in the day for making things. . .


29 October 2009

Holy smokes, part the second

So as everyone who knows me (and loves me) is aware, I'm the world's worst procrastinator, particularly if I'm scared of doing something. And the worst part is that while I'm procrastinating, I beat myself up for doing it. Why am I so afraid of jumping in? What do I think will happen? I think that's what's been going on with this quilt back. Scott has done his part and spent plenty of time with his Xbox buddies lately so I've had ample time to finish this thing. But I lay everything out, get all mentally prepped to do it, and then get sucked in by reading blogs or etsy. For those of you that aren't familiar - www.etsy.com. Let me apologize in advance. . .

Anyway, I hatched the plot for this one with some help from my very crafty Friend/stand-in-east-coast-mom Suzan. Figuring out the actual execution details took me a bit longer. See that fab strip on the left hand side? That is one of each of the fabrics in the quilt. And my first real attempt at applique -
And you must sign and date your quilts.
After I got this all assembled, I thought of better names. Like Electric Bunnyland. Or Project Bunway (since the fabric was designed by Project Runway Season 1 winner Jay McCarroll). Oh well. The tulips are cute next to my name. Still love those crazy little bugs. And the little bit of fabric above the tag was a scrap that an etsy seller (I apologize again, but seriously, go check it out) sent me. It was only large enough for that small strip on the back. Thanks anonymous fabric lady!!

So now I just have to pull it together to assemble everything and start quilting. When I was at my local quilt shop last week buying the batting, I asked an older, more experienced quilter there for some advice about thread and things. She asked me how I was planning on doing the actual quilting. I told her my idea and she just shook her head at me. She said that I was taking on a process that was way too ambitious for a first quilt. I disagree. And if I used the crosshatching process that she suggested, I'd never be happy with it because it wouldn't be my vision of how this was all supposed to be. The shop owner who had been listening in threw her hands up and explained to this other woman that there was just no talking sense into me. That I was going to do what I was going to do. Maybe she's right. Maybe I'm crazy. But it just may be a lunatic that makes this quilt. (Blatant Billy Joel ripoff.)

And here's my current TV knitting project. It's a Christmas present for someone (tease!) but you won't get the name out of me since this person may or may not be someone who drops by. . . Anyway, this was the whole reason I learned cabling. And it's the first thing I've attempted to do from a chart. It's going to need a major amount of blocking to stop the roll but I'm pleased with how it has turned out. (P.S. Using tiny sock yarn for knitting a scarf maybe isn't the best idea, especially if you need it to come together quickly. But OH how I adore those baby little rosewood needles.)

And as always, I'll end with two of the sweetest faces I'll see all day. Be still my heart.


20 October 2009

Holy smokes, ya'll

Yesterday I got an email from the woman who taught my quilting class about a potluck show-n-tell that she's hosting in December. (I got the impression that she mainly wants to show off her house all tarted up for Christmas, but hey! I'm all about that. I get it. I love Christmas decorations. Maybe this year I'll gather up the courage and some unbreakable ornaments and try the same thing.) So it got me thinking - if I went, what would I show? Little unfinished scraplets of projects? As much as I love to think about quilting and look at books about quilting and shop for quilting, it seems that knitting has been taking up most of my crafty time. I know I've explained this before but I like to spend my time with my boy & my puppies in the evening. Knitting lets me settle in on the couch and do that. Time with my sewing machine does not. Fortunately, a new crop of video games is being released this week just in time for holiday shopping. The boy loves to play video games (thanks Xbox360!) and the puppies like to snuggle up with him while he does so this is my time to head off to the studio to work.

When I planned this quilt, I decided to assemble nine squares that would be five blocks by five blocks. I've struggled a bit along the way (and in the process learned a lot) but I was down to my last square last night. I thought I'd make the last square and then put them all together another day. I think the email from Sandy must have lit a little fire because once I finished the last block I wondered what two blocks would look like together. And then four. And then at that point, a girl might as well just do it. I can't believe I really finished the top last night. I made Scott come in and inspect it. We clipped it to hangers and put it on the wall so we could see it in all its glory. I keep walking into the bedroom this morning just to look at it.

I don't know that I'd change much about it. There is one fabric in there that I'm not crazy about and if I had to do it all again, I think I'd dump that one and add more of that crazy zig-zag. I love those squares!! And I worried along the way that it was a bit much to look at but now that I see it all together, I'm as pleased as I could possibly be. Now for the back. I have a brilliant plan that I'm going to start working on tonight to see if I can pull it off. I don't want to be too clever about it and cause myself more frustration, but I don't it to be boring either. I'll reveal more as it comes together.

And as always, can't resist these two. We've had lots of problems in this house keeping puppy beds for very long. I hate to do a commercial but these Kong beds have been great. They appear to be chewproof, which we need for these two toothy little monkeys. And they're big enough for them to snuggle comfortably, which is nice as the weather gets chillier.

p.s. More knitting pics soon. I've got a few projects clicking along on those needles.

12 October 2009

Cables! Now if only the weather would cooperate. . .

When I saw this yarn, my first thought was that it would make a great scarf. (To be fair, that's probably my first thought when I see most yarn.) Then I started thinking about what kind of scarf I wanted. I just purged a few scarves that I made but never wore to my friend's new etsy shop. This yarn was so gorgeous that it needed to be something special. And then I knew exactly what I wanted - a scarf with one big fat cable running down the middle. After several not so successful starts, I got rolling on this baby yesterday and all I want to do now is knit, knit, knit.

I'm probably going to have to end up buying another skein (Karin, please don't say I told you so) unless I want this scarf to be just over three feet. I'm the kind of person that likes to wrap every tiny bit of neck in a scarf so I'm not sure three feet is going to be enough. But it is heavy worsted weight wool so the other part of me says that I do live in South Carolina and there might only be two days where I could wear layers and layers of wool around my neck. Dilemmas, dilemmas.

And yes, it is currently 75 degrees here. October, what happened???


P.S. I'm not sure what happens to my pictures in blogger. This yarn is so much more vibrant than this picture. And oddly, much more red than I initially thought.

10 October 2009

Home again

I've finally returned from all of my travels and glad to be in one place for a while (I hope). North Carolina was great. Odd how much that state is starting to feel like home since it seems I spend most of my out-of-town time there. It's an absolutely beautiful state and this week did not disappoint.
Fall has arrived there. I know it's not visible in this picture but leaves are turning all over the place. The mountains were washed in yellows, oranges and reds.
We visited the neighbourhood where my employers (who might as well be family) are building a new home. It's simply gorgeous there. This is the view from their lot looking down the mountain at the lake. Lots of trees, dead quiet, lovely. I'd love to spend a week with nothing to do but knit and read and nap. I often dream of vacations like that but they never come to fruition. This place that would force those sorts of days on you though.

It's about a twenty minute drive to the closest town. The company I work for was planning a development there until the market crashed. The idea was to have a retail area with artists cabins and eateries and little mountain bungalows behind. At this point, the retail has been built out but the bungalow idea has been shelved for now. Brookings is a fishing and outdoor lifestyle shop that has moved to our property. A local artist traded us four of these fantastic, hand carved fish for a fly rod and a pair of pants.
I've not met him so I don't know if the "hand did" is an affectation or not, but I love it anyway. Lets you know you're in the South.
And outside the shop was this vibrant bush -
All who know me know that I have a black thumb. I can kill a plant just by looking at it for too long. I'm always impressed with myself when I can identify a plant by name. This one escapes me but the red was stunning against the grey skies and drizzle. And speaking of grey skies and drizzle, I finally got to wear a jacket! and scarf!! Which leads me to these bits of scrumminess -
Don't they just make you want to weep? We found them in a little shop in Brevard called Charlotte's Fibers. That shop was an unexpected gem. I'm not sure what will become of the one on top but that autumnal bit of fiery orange on the bottom is going to be my very first cable knit scarf. I finally gathered up the strength and courage to try cables this week and it's not that hard. HOORAH! This tiny bit of knowledge opens up so many possibilities. . .

So I'm back home where the high is supposed to be 90 degrees today. Which makes me feel like crazy times for wanting to knit an orange wool cable scarf, but oh well. Maybe South Carolina will catch up to North Carolina soon. . .

Happy weekend!

P.S. As usual, I can't resist a cute puppy face. Meet The Lady Ling Ling, my dog niece from the wilds of Montana. I miss her (and her mom - even with those shoes. . .) terribly already!!

01 October 2009


I told Scott yesterday that I'd like my life to snap back to some degree of normalcy, although I'm not really sure what that is anymore. It seems like I've been running non-stop since July and I'm ready to slow down and start cocooning in. I had to go to Atlanta last week for a last minute packup of my employers' house. It was frustrating and tiring and I was glad to be done. I had a few bright spots of seeing old friends - one I hadn't seen in 12 years! - but most of it was spent with packers. Packing up your own house is frustrating and tear-inducing. Moving someone else's very large house is another matter altogether. But new people were moving in (actually at the same time our movers were still loading the truck) so we had to be out. I'm glad it's over and behind me but I was a little sad to leave the city where I was born. The city that will always be home.

And, to further delay the beginning of the cocoon, my oldest, dearest friend is arriving tomorrow for a week's visit. On Monday, we'll drive up to North Carolina so that she can visit with my boss and his wife. Don't misunderstand - I'm very glad to have her come for a visit but I'd like to pack her up and keep her here with me instead of spending the better portion of two days driving. But the mountains will be beautiful. And most likely cold. At least colder than here at the beach. I might even get to wear my new jacket!!

Hopefully next week I'll have more major progress on the blanket which is still coming along - I'm on skein 9 of 24. . . And I've completed 5 of the 9 squares for my quilt top. WOOHOO!!!

HELLO OCTOBER! I've sure missed you. . .

P.S. The picture at the top is my favourite piece of graffiti in Atlanta. I called him the oogly man. He always made me smile.

21 September 2009

And I'm back

Sorry I haven't posted. I've been in that post-vacation malaise and haven't felt like I've had two words to string together that might be interesting. Plus, there is a week's worth of work missed that needed to be caught up. And sadly, almost all of our Thursday night TV viewing premiered last week and we still haven't been able to get through it all on our DVR. The upside is that all of that TV viewing means lots of knitting time.

I took the slog-along blanket on vacation and got lots done in the car but I decided that the next skein should have this nifty little bamboo look that I found in a book. For the life of me, I couldn't get it right. I frogged back rows of 360 stitches several times before I gave up. (I think the vacation/knitting gods were conspiring against me to tell me that I shouldn't be knitting a 6'x6' wool blend blanket at the beach. . .) So frog back I did and that skein turned into a simple stockinette band until I got home and figured out that the problem really was me and not the pattern. A quick swatch-cloth later and the bamboo is coming along nicely, thanks.

I think I'm starting to like this blanket. By tomorrow I plan to have eight skeins complete which puts me a third of the way through. I'm going to have to put it aside soon to work on Christmas presents (because in this house we know that August 21 - the day after my birthday - is the official start of Christmas season). And I'm still coming along on my crazy woodlands quilt. I had another brain flash last night on how to make it all come together more quickly and less frustratingly. We'll see. Turns out a 5'x5' blanket is bigger than my brain led me to believe. But I'm excited. And motivated.

Couldn't resist sneaking one in of my little man, especially since he went to the trouble to pose. He's figured out what the camera is about. . .

08 September 2009


Every year Scott's family goes to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. For the second year (of hopefully many many more) I'm joining them. Last year, the weather was pretty cruddy. Even though the house is on the beach, we were only able to get down to the water once. You take your chances vacationing on the east coast in September - the height of hurricane season. It hasn't been great so far this year but the clouds are clearing and the sun is coming out - at least enough for us to take a walk on the beach today.

The bad weather means a rolling, churning ocean though. No complaints from me. That's my favourite kind. . .

Lucy is enjoying it too. Honestly though, this sweet girl always has a big smile on her face.
The gulls were dancing with the waves.

We saw lots of "devil's pocketbooks". (They're really skate egg cases but what a great name!)

Should've brought my metal detector. . .

I love this place. It really is heaven. And being here with three of my favourite people on the planet makes it all the better. (Wish you were here to the rest of my faves. You all know who you are. . .)


30 August 2009

Walk before I can run

For my first quilt, I found a pattern in a book that I thought would be perfect for my mom. I was fresh out of quilting classes and feeling very confident - I could quilt the world! - so I decided on a pattern because it looked like something she'd love. I tracked down the fabrics I wanted. I graphed it all out on Scott's computer using one of his fancy programs to make sure I liked the layout of the fabric. I spent an entire day cutting fabric. And I started to sew. But it wasn't working. I couldn't make the blocks come out to be the size that they were supposed to be. I ripped out. I restitched. Twice. Still wasn't working. I've learned that when I reach that level of frustration, I need to put it down and walk away and revisit it again with a clearer head. That was six weeks ago. Since then we've had parents and brothers and concerts in other cities and all manners of distractions. All sorts of lovely things to help me procrastinate. Of course, in the meantime, I've completely lost my confidence. The sweet boy talked me back down off of the ledge and convinced me that I should put that aside and start something easy. Pick a project that wasn't putting together strange shapes into huge blocks.

I got this sweet fabric for my birthday - thanks Mom! - and started thinking. I found a very simple quilt that I liked the look of online and thought it would be good. It seemed simple enough that I didn't need to have the pattern. It's just simple squares after all. . . I plotted it out, decided how many squares I'd need and started cutting. Yesterday, I was having cutter's remorse. Did I chose the right thing? I did pick a pattern where lots of little blocks all have to meet up at the corners and we already determined that precision may be an issue. Am I crazy to start my first quilt without a pattern? Most likely yes. Last night I decided to take the plunge and just start sewing. I stitched together the first 25 of 225 blocks and I'm pleased with the result! I'm 1/9 of the way through my first quilt top. WOOHOO!!

And then there's this - my slog-along, knit while I watch TV blanket. Yesterday was exactly a month since I started. It's going to be a 72" square blanket and I'm 15" into that now on my fifth skein of yarn. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I feel like it looks a little granny-ish at the moment. I decided to make a sampler sort of blanket, switching the stitch with every new skein, but I'm rethinking the wisdom of that decision, not that I'm going to rip it all out again. Anyway, I've got lots of time to think about it. I reckon at this rate that I'll be done around the beginning of 2010. (I think I just said that for effect since 2010 seems like it should be so far away. . .)

Happy Sunday!

P.S. By the way, the fabric that I chose for the original frustrating quilt is all by Denyse Schmidt for Free Spirit. I wanted to use prints from her Flea Market Fancy collection because they are FAB! but was only able to track down one because they are all out of print. In my sidebar, I have posted a link to a site that is petitioning Free Spirit to bring this collection back. Maybe they'll hear our pleas and reprint before I get around to Mom's quilt again . . .

20 August 2009

An embarrassment of riches

Here I am. 38 years ago today. (At least I'm assuming this was taken the day I was born.) I've been NOT looking forward to this day for a long while now. This is the first year that I've been upset about getting older. 30 came and went with no issue. The prospect of 38 has been worrying me. This weekend I was reading a book and the main character is celebrating her 37th birthday. She describes that as the end of the cute portion of her thirties. Yikes, I thought. I'm one year older than that. But I woke up today. The sun still rose. The earth still turned. And I still had two cute puppies and one cute boy to give me good morning, happy birthday kisses. So now I've decided I'm on the cute side of my forties. So there.

And then the packages and boxes and ribbons and love. I got everything I wanted. Knitting needles, embroidery books, the sweetest necklace, a cute bag and lots and lots of fabric. I got this from my darling mom -
It's by Jay McCarroll. It's so stinkin' fab. I'm not sure what it's going to be yet - maybe a throw? - but I'm insanely in love with it. One of the patterns has little bespectacled fireflies. Or lightning bugs to those of you from the south. And that zig zag pattern sends me over the moon. And the bunnies. Oh the funny bunnies.

And this fabric came from my bunny. This is Del Hi by Valori Wells. It's scrumptious. I want to curl up in it and take a nap, which is precisely what I plan to do. I want to add bits from a few more of the colourways and I think this will be the first quilt that I make for our bed. I love it.

Anyway, happy birthday me!! I'm off to sip prosecco, eat rose flavoured chocolates and watch Project Runway with my adorable little family.

Love you all.

P.S. The evil boy just saw this and said "black and white, huh? They didn't have colour photography back then?" He's in trouble.

18 August 2009

Another fine start

I don't usually like to tempt the fates in this way, but how can a day be bad that starts off like this? I knew that I had only seconds to capture this early morning sweetness. I woke up with Olive on the pillow just above my head and Roscoe was burrowed in the blankets below. When I came back from the shower, I was greeted by the above.

I'm nuts for these puppies.