Wednesday, November 30, 2011

wednesday's ode

To beautiful surroundings.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

the art of leftovers

I've never really attempted food photography. Food presentation has never been my strong point - my energy goes into making it taste good, not necessarily look good.

But please give this concoction the benefit of the doubt.

Year after year when I make pumpkin pies, I can never quite squeeze all the pumpkin pie filling I've prepared into a pie. But of course there isn't enough to make another pie, so, at a loss as to any alternative, I regretfully pour it down the drain. This year I saved it just in case I felt ambitious enough to make mini pumpkin pies with the children.

I did not.

So on Sunday as I was poking through the fridge for Thanksgiving leftovers, I decided to try concocting a "leftover pie" pie. I had about a half a cup of leftover fresh cranberries from the cranberry apple pie in addition to about a cup more or less of pumpkin pie filling. I had no desire to rain down chaos on my kitchen by making a pie crust, so here is what I did.

Mix together about:

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Press this down in the bottom of a pie dish. Pour the leftover pumpkin pie filling over this. Mix the fresh cranberries with a tablespoon or two of brown sugar, then pour these into the pumpkin pie filling. Add some chocolate chips (1/4 cup?) as well. Bake at 375 until the pie filling is set (I think I baked this for about 25 or 30 minutes). Let cool completely.

This turned out as a tasty, almost cookie/bar-like treat (a gluten-free thanksgiving pie, if you will). Not overly sweet, it was perfect for a breakfast indulgence the next morning. And I didn't feel guilty at all, knowing I had made use of my thanksgiving pie leftovers that were otherwise bound for the garbage disposal.

Don't forget to check out the Etsy Shop sale going on now!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Etsy Shop Sale!

 Just a note to let you that the patterns in the Etsy Shop are marked down for a limited time. If you've thought of sewing something special for your little one for the holidays, this is the perfect time to purchase a unique and artfully created pattern.
In addition, if you use the coupon code CYBERSPOON10, you will receive an additional 10% off all items, including ready made clothing, in the shop. The coupon code and sale will be valid until this Thursday 12:01 PST. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

thanksgiving preparations at our house

 Last night found my 5-year-old and I in a passionate debate. Topic of said debate: is her recently acquired rubber chicken (thank you, random person on the street disposing of Halloween paraphernalia) a representation of a dead chicken, or merely "a baby chicken who doesn't have feathers yet."
 Though the controversy was never formally settled, it seems I may have swayed her opinion. Suddenly focused, as she gets when inspiration strikes, she began making place cards for each member of our family. She then arranged the rubber chicken in the center of the table because, as she explained, "it was almost Thanksgiving."

Monday, November 21, 2011

ahhh, jersey

Nearly two years ago my baby-addicted girl asked for a trip to the fabric store for her birthday.

"You just need three yards of jersey for a wrap," she said, "And I know exactly how to make one for each of us."

So off to the store we went. We bought three yards of a soft grey jersey with light ribbing. Back home we rolled it out on the floor, folded it lengthwise, and cut right down the middle: two three-yard strips of jersey for two wraps. She showed me just how to position the baby snuggled on her chest, just how to wind the fabric around her back, just where to tie (off to the side rather than in back, please). Talk about snug. Then we tried the whole process on me. Turns out that three yards is just a wee bit small for my slightly larger body, and very quickly the second strip of jersey became her "back-up wrap." Alternating between the two, she carried that boy around for months.

But at some point his excessive rate of growth became a little too much for her waify back. The wrap went into the doll basket, and she shifted to hauling him to-and-fro on her hip.

The wrap went out of circulation, that is, until tonight. At bedtime it made a come back.

One three yard length of jersey is not only the perfect size for a wrap, it turns out, but also for a double hammock. And considering that this ten year-old tied all the knots herself, the greatest miracle of all is that lightly ribbed jersey happens to be remarkably non-slip as well. Even in full swing in two directions at once.

I had planned to snag the jersey for a project myself, but my idea wasn't nearly as good as a hammock. I just wish that three yards would be sufficient for me to swing around in.

Friday, November 18, 2011

as girly as we get around here

When my daughter discovered this t-shirt in my pile of potential sewing projects fresh from the thrift store, the purple-sequined bird silhouette immediately caught her eye.

"Is this for me??"

I had recently made her a rash of t-shirt concoctions out of shirts that didn't look particularly girly. My daughter, who I've tried so hard to steer away from princesses and all things frilly, was dying for something a little prettier. She requested a dress and I got to work on it. This one took me all of about half an hour. I cut down the sides, then used those strips as a yoke to gather the shirt onto. I then cut off the bottom, decreased the width of it a bit, then gathered the bottom of the dress back onto it.
 Girly enough, yet still suitable for romping about in the park.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

a perfect day

"Today is a perfect day!" the five year-old announced, as she ran into the house with a basket of leaves. "You want to know what it's a perfect day for?"

Well, of course.

"Leaf tracing!"

Of course. Leaf tracing.

She pulled out some paper and a stack of old crayons, peeled off the crayon wrappers, and away she went. After tracing a solid dozen, she cut them out, and then headed back outside.

Five minutes later she returned with a very large stick.

"Their TREE!"

But of course.

"This is the perfect tree for these leaves. You know why? Tall tall tall. Have we got a pot?"

I washed out a vase and she put in her tree, which immediately tipped over. I suggested small rocks; she brought in a handful of mud with traces of pebbles. We walked the mud back outside and instead picked "the prettiest sparkliest rocks in the whole driveway!"

She punched holes and laced string and hung leaves. For half an hour.

All the while the wind was going crazy outside, tossing garbage cans and whatever they once held around the street, scouring leaves off their limbs. But the inside tree just kept gaining leaves, to the point I had to start carving notches for them to hang on. And every little part of it all has been pronounced "perfect!"

Sometimes when I can't muster enough enthusiasm for the day, I wish I were five again. And sometimes just watching a five year-old marvel at the whole wide world can load me with enough enthusiasm all on its own.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

wednesday's ode

To beautiful surroundings.

downsizing (a sock redemption tutorial)

I admit it. I have a problem letting things go. It's hard for me to say, "This item is completely unusable. Its time has come. Let it go, for heaven's sake!" A pair of ratty pants, patched multiple times, finally given up on and put in the trash... oh, the immense guilt that ensues!

Yes, there is the option of turning clothing past its prime into rags, but I always think, "There must be some way to keep this usable as clothing."

I happen to like socks. Knee high socks. Argyle ones in particular. My recent admission that I do not mend socks means that I regularly have to throw out socks that are perfectly fine everywhere except the bottoms. I have a few long argyle ones that developed holes long ago that I never wear, yet haven't mustered the courage to put to rest in the trash can.
As I was about to finally man up and throw these away the other day, I realized there might be a chance to save them. I put one on my 3-year-old and pinned it so that it comfortably fit her little leg. I then took it off and cut along the pins, leaving the top of the cuff intact.
Next I pinned the sock, right sides together, and using a straight stitch I sewed the side seam until the heel, leaving the bottom part open. I went over it again with a zigzag stitch for added durability. I then trimmed the seam close to the stitching to reduce bulk.
I had my daughter put the sock on again to check the fit, then traced around her foot. I cut out a new bottom for the sock, using two layers of a knit fabric and adding about 1/2" around the tracing.
I then pinned the new bottom to the sock, right sides together, stitched around it (again with a straight stitch first and then a zigzag stitch), and trimmed the seam. And there they were: a cute pair of knee-high argyle socks for my little girl.
I am not blind to the fact that remaking socks is a perilous journey to undertake. My children regularly go into hysterics because the toe seam of their socks is slightly skiwampus. I have a few more pairs of great argyles dying to be put back into circulation. Perhaps I'll skip the bottom altogether next time and simply make some little leggings. My daughter said these downsized socks felt "a little funny", but she happily wore them as we played at the park surrounded by the glory of autumn.
(I hadn't thought of matching the pattern at the back when I cut out the socks, but I imagine it could be quite easily done.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

middle ground

I like to think of that first sweater I made twenty years ago as my fiber residency: so much learning packed into such a short time, with a good dose of pain and sleep deprivation mixed in. And while I was thoroughly pleased with the result, I have not been overly anxious to venture into the realm of large scale knitting since. Sure, I've put together a few adult sized hats and scarves (and even made up some finger gloves one year -- note to self: use a pattern next time you try finger gloves). But for the most part, infant-to-two years has been the sweater extent.

So imagine my hemming and hawing when, after finishing up the last little sweater, my ten year-old requested one for herself. "It won't be that much bigger than the baby sweater, you know."

Well, you know, maybe it won't be after all.

So after a quick flip through Farmyard Girls and Tractor Boys (I am well on my way to making every single thing in this book, I love it so), the sweater was chosen and cast on.

And here's the thing: a ten year-old sweater really doesn't take much longer than a baby sweater. Especially when one is using size 5 needles rather than size 3.

So for this week's installment of Modeling Time (instituted last month by said ten year-0ld), I bring you a non-baby-not-quite-adult "Short-sleeved Cable Yoke Cardie" (really, that's the actual name -- I couldn't have made all that up if I tried).

The yarn is Berroco Pure Merino Heather, and the buttons are mother-of-pearl flowers from JoAnn's. And that last picture? Well, the big boys thought they would add a little bit of class and sobriety to Model Time. As if Model Time weren't already those things all on its own.