Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Knit From Your Stash

I am not sure I am strong enough BUT I have decided to go on a serious yarn diet! I have seen a number of bloggers make the commitment to "Knit from their Stash" and while my stash may not equal the stashes of many other knitters, the start of a new year is a great time to make a point to use up some of the yarn that I have. Currently my yarn stash fills a cedar chest we use as a coffee table in the family room. Truth is that I couldn't fit anymore yarn in this chest no matter how hard I try!

So here are the rules according to Wendy.

1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start January 1, 2007 and run through September 30, 2007 -- a period of nine months.

2. We will not buy any yarn during that period, with the following exceptions:

2.a. Sock yarn does not count. What? You think we are made of stone?

2.b. If someone asks for a specific knitted gift that we really and truly do not have the yarn for, we may buy yarn to knit that gift.

2.c. If we are knitting something and run out of yarn, we may purchase enough to complete the project.

2.d. We each get one "Get Out of Jail Free" card -- we are each allowed to fall off the wagon one time.

3. We are allowed to receive gifts of yarn.

4. Spinning fiber of any sort is exempt.

So I am now wondering if I should run FAST to my LYS and BUY, BUY, BUY before Monday! (I guess that would defeat the purpose...)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Countdown

The kids love counting down to Christmas so this year we found a cute idea for an advent calender at Whip Up and decided to make one. Now the kids have enjoyed keeping track of the days until Christmas.

The only problem is now that I look at this countdown calendar I realize how far behind I am. Today is my last day of crafting and shopping. I have no idea if I am going to get it all done! Top that off with the fact that I am hosting Christmas for my family! Yikes.

I have managed to get some gifts finished...

I made Fetching for my mom who is always complaining of cold hands. Funny thing is last Christmas I was making her a pair of wristwarmers. Well she saw a pattern in one of my books for these and declared how rediculous they were and how she would never wear a pair! Obviously I didn't give her the warmers. Some how she found out I was planning them for her and we kind of had a laugh over it. This year she was diagnosed with scleroderma and her doctor told her she need to buy some fingerless gloves to wear in the house to keep her hands warm! She came back to me laughing and apologizing for being wrong. So it was easy to figure out what to make her this year. And it was a fun, easy, quick knit make with some Cascade 220 from my stash.

Some of my gifts haven't turned out quite as well.

A co-worker and I always meet at Starbucks. She once said that if she had to stop working for the Church or in her field (Social work) she would work at Starbucks. So I picked her up a Starbucks gift card and made her the Coffee Cuff from Knitpicks. It looked pretty good. A little wonky but not too bad. I figured the wonkiness would come out in the felting. It actually got MORE wonky. The top and bottom were very loose and the middle too tight to fit on the cup. Now without time to fix the problem, I gave it too her anyways, making a joke that it was the work and love that went into the gift rather than the gift itself. We then wet the wool and are trying to block it and stretch it back into a decent shape. If we can't make it work I promised her a new one. As wonky as it turned out she is loving the idea of it. And of course the gift card always works.

And then there are the gifts yet to be completed. The ones that mean I shouldn't really be blogging but rather sewing!

This is another Amy Butler pattern from her Institches book. It is a bedside caddy. My brother and sister in law have a small bedroom that they share with their new baby. There isn't enough room for nightstands so I was hoping this might be a solution. So far it looks pretty good. Now if I can only finish it on time!

Hope you are all finished with all your holiday crafting, shopping and other preparations. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Baking

I finished my first Amy Butler Pattern from In Stitches. I am pretty pleased with it.

I actually finished it a couple weeks ago but put it to use the other day. We spent the day baking Christmas Cookies!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I owe someone an apology

I have been a bad secret pal spoilee. I recieved my package a week or so ago from my fabulous pal and sent her off an email but have failed to show you all the wonderful things she sent and thank her properly. I am so sorry SP!

She sent such wonderful goodies. She themed the gift to warm holiday drinks! Yummy! My kinda theme! I received my new favorite mug that I fight my husband for nightly! Yummy teas,chocolates (dark chocolate my favorite! And Dark Chocolate Truffles! Double yum!) Biscotti! And even chocolate yarn! Yep you read that right! Lorna's Laces Shepherd socks in chocolate colorway! Can't beat that!

This gift truely was appreciated more than you could possibly know. See it arrived the day after my husband and I had one of those talks that aren't too fun to have. We made the decision for me to return to work which will most likely mean we would no longer be able to homeschool and would have to put the kids in school. So now we are in a state of craziness trying to figuring how I can go back to work. We have a tentative plan that hopefully will work out and allow the kids to stay home for the remainder of the year. I am terrified I won't be able to keep up with it all and worried about where we will put the kids in school next year. Public School is affordable but doesn't quite fit our philosophy of education (hence we homeschool.) Montessori gels nicely with our beliefs on learning but is SO expensive. We have an excellent Montessori near by and we are just praying that we will be able to afford this fabulous school.

So without getting further into our current craziness, you can see how receiving this package brought a much needed smile to my face. Thanks again SP! I absolutely love it!

Friday, December 08, 2006

I know you might not believe this but....

I have actually been knitting. Really. I have...Just look! I picked up this little skein of Malabrigo to make a scarf to go with my new black wool coat. The Scrunchable Scarf seemed to be the perfect scarf for this yarn. I am going to absolutely love this scarf. It is so soft.

I also started a gift for a co-worker. We always have our meetings at a local coffee shop and thought she might appreciate a felted coffee cuff and a gift certificate for some coffee (or in her case...tea.) This is my first fair isle pattern and I am pretty pleased how it is turning out. I have some parts that are a little tighter than others but I am hoping that this uneveness will work out in the felting. Hopefully I will finish it this weekend and throw it in the wash.

In addition to knitting, I have also done a little Christmas gift sewing. I found a tutorial for a patchwork craft apron. I thought the kids would love these so I figured out how to scale down the pattern for little people and picked out some fabric I thought they would like. I was surprised at how easy they were even for such a novice like myself. I did make one change. Instead of sewing the ties, I just used grosgrain ribbon. Lazy, I know but hey Christmas is upon us. Carson's is the spiderman and Nathan's is the army camouflage. I still need to sew one up for Madison. I just have way too many cute girly prints to choose from. I'll get to that over the weekend. Maybe I'll even stitch one up for myself!

Monday, December 04, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

We are still in the middle of our first big freeze of the year. I can't stand to be cold. I truly believe I was born in the wrong part of the country. I should be living in Florida or Southern California, Arizona...Anywhere south of here! But instead I am in Chicago. And my crazy husband actually likes this weather. (Well...he doesn't like it as cold as it is now...but he loves the cold and the snow...) What I do like about this time of year is decorating the house. I love the Christmas lights and the tree.

The Christmas stockings in the picture were my first sewing project ever. I was given an old singer sewing machine from a girlfriend whose hubby bought her some fancy new one. So I decided to make Christmas stockings. That was about 4 years ago. Take a peek at the second stocking from the right. Notice anything missing? I made the stockings while I was pregnant with my third child so I made one for him too... The only thing was I didn't know "who" he was yet. So I left the name blank. Now he is 3 1/2 years old and his stocking is still nameless. I notice it every year and think I will get to it...and somehow I put it away each year still nameless. Poor little guy asked this year why his name wasn't on his stocking...Ooops. I promised him the to do it before Santa comes.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Chili Day!

Patty, our Secret Pal 9 hostess, has come up with yet another contest to keep this round of secret pal fun. This time she wants to know about a favorite recipe. My favorite recipes change with the season and my mood. So looking out my window at my children playing in the snow and thinking about the first snow of the year, I had cravings for a Chili Dinner and an evening bundled up by the fireplace with my kids and some hot cocoa! Chili is traditionally the meal I make every year on the first snow fall of the year. So I gathered my ingredients! (Which unfortunately required me to brave the weather but on the bright side I was one of probably four crazy women stupid enough to think grocery shopping might be a good idea.)

My chili uses Morning Star Recipe Crumbles since we don't eat red meat. I have also done it with Ground Turkey but love the ease of the Veggie Crumbles since I don't have to brown the meat. However if you are more of a carnivore than we are you can certainly use ground turkey or even (gasp) ground beef. I also double the recipe so we can eat enjoy left overs for lunch or the next day at dinner.

So are you ready for the recipe?

1 package of Morning Star Recipe Crumbles (or browned gound beef or turkey)
14 oz can of diced tomatoes
14 oz can of tomato sauce
14 oz can of red kidney beans
diced onion
diced green peppers
1-2 cloves of garlic
1-2 Tbs of Chili Powder
2 tsp of Cumin
1 tsp of Oregano
Oyster crackers and Cheddar Cheese

Throw it all (except the crackers and cheese) into the crockpot and slowcook all day. Serve in soup bowls topped with crackers, cheese and any of your other favorite chili toppings. Enjoy!

This would feed my family of 5 without any left overs (which is why I double the recipe.)

My house smells amazing right now. I can't wait to eat!

Do Homeschoolers Have Snow Days?

You bet they do!!!!! Today was our first snow of the year and it was a big one. My husband couldn't even get out of town to make it in to work. He ended up working from home. The kids were simply too excited looking out they window at all the other children playing in the snow and they just looked pitiful. So after a debate that would have made a politician proud, my 7 yo won an early "recess" to play in the snow. I figured after the speech he gave me...he earned it!