Friday, 15 September 2017

38/52

"A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week, in 2017."

Claire: You did it! With fierce determination and whispered words of encouragement to yourself (and after a few tumbles and splats), you learned how to ride your bike without training wheels. It was a happy day, a good day, a proud day.

Bridget: Always crafting. You never stop thinking about what to make for your doll, today it was a boat.

Inspired by The 52 Week Project at Practicing Simplicity.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Taking Stock

Back to school, back to routine, back to a fuller (but not too full) calendar...but first, I'm pausing for a moment to take stock

Making: lists
Cooking: soup - soup season has begun
Drinking: green tea and black coffee
Reading: this article - amazing
Looking: at all the girls' crafty creations - their imaginations amaze me
Deciding: on an aggressive savings plan
Hoping: for nice weather on the weekend
Enjoying: working on my summer blanket
Liking: the empty space in my decluttered home
Loving: the cooler weather
Pondering: this space and its future
Listening: to The Minimalists
Considering: essential oils - are they for me?
Buying: so much food, all the time
Browsing: cookbooks and crochet patterns
Wishing: I could work less
Wondering: what the girls are doing at school right now
Marveling: at the colorful leaves on the trees
Waiting: for my tea to steep
Cringing: at the increased cost of everything
Hoping: that the sniffles and soreness I feel will go away
Needing: a haircut
Wanting: a new winter coat
Smelling: fresh air
Wearing: layers, my favorite
Noticing: all the fallen leaves in the gutters already
Knowing: I can keep up with the pace of life, but not sure if I want to
Prioritizing: walks outside in the gorgeous weather
Sorting: through my closet again
Thinking: about our time in San Fransisco - I loved it so much
Celebrating: everyday moments (I'm getting better at this)
Disliking: making school lunches every night
Feeling: happy
Hearing: geese flying past the house
Embracing: rest

(The photos above are from our walk in the park last weekend. The swan's name is Otis and every morning when I drive to work, I see him gliding across the lake. The girls were very happy to make his acquaintance after I have talked about him all summer long)

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

37/52

"A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week, in 2017."

The first day of grade three and grade six; two very happy and excited girls.

Inspired by The 52 Week Project at Practicing Simplicity.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

36/52

"A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week, in 2017."

We spent an absolutely beautiful day at Crawford Lake Conservation Area: exploring the longhouses, hiking the rocky trail to the lookout point over the escarpment, walking around the lake, chatting as we wandered along the shaded paths...

Both you girls loved each and every moment we were in the forest. You loved scampering up the rocks, choosing the most difficult path to walk, pointing out berries growing on the forest floor, and counting the number of white caterpillars that we saw.

We had a great family day, for sure.

Inspired by The 52 Week Project at Practicing Simplicity.

Friday, 1 September 2017

The Books I've Read this Year - Part One

One of my goals for this year was to read more, specifically to read twelve books.

I realize that twelve books is not a huge number, but considering how little I've read in the last few years, to do this would be a great improvement for me and an achievable goal - so achievable in fact, that I have already read thirteen books this year and it is only September.

I've come to realize how much I've missed reading and am really enjoying having a book "on-the-go" at all times now.

These are the books that I have read so far this year:
  • Open House by Elizabeth Berg
  • The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe
  • The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  • Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner
  • The Love Detective by Alexandra Potter
  • Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell
  • At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider
  • The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close
  • One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes
  • Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi 
I chose these books based on reviews I read, or simply because the title or the cover caught my eye when I was at the library - not a very sophisticated system but it has yielded some great stories that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Truth be told, I can not exactly remember what happened in some of these books, only that when I finished them, I liked them.

Having reached my "twelve books" goal, I am not stopping. I am enjoying having reading a regular part of my life again....

If you have any book recommendations, please send them my way, and I'll be sure to update you with what else I read from now until the end of the year....

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Catching Dreams

A few weeks ago I was in Michaels, and after I ran past the Halloween decorations (already!?), I noticed a very pretty kit to make a dream catcher. My first thought was "I could crochet something like that" so I went home, and a few days later, I did.
I made a simple mandala for the top and some chains braided together to hang off the bottom.
To give the mandala a little more rigidity, I painted white glue on the back; the glue dries clear and keeps the crochet from flopping around too much. I didn't paint the braids with glue as I wanted then to hang and dangle freely.

Making something from what I already have on hand, without having to buy any additional supplies is one of my favorite things.

And is it just me, or are dream catchers everywhere lately?

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

35/52

"A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week, in 2017."

For most of the summer you girls have been in hyper-crafting mode, making everything and anything for your dolls, Jackie and Willow. Using foam, paint, glue, modeling clay, and whatever you scavenge from the recycling box, you have made beds, a kitchen, burgers, lattes, canned food, shoes, couches, pet hamsters, homes for the hamsters, artwork, mermaid costumes, rugs....really anything you can think of. The basement floor is littered with craft debris, a little paint got spilled on the carpet, and there have been a few glue-gun burns, but I have never seen you two more excited and absorbed in anything; crafting is your happy place and you have had a happy summer crafting.

Inspired by The 52 Week Project at Practicing Simplicity.

Friday, 25 August 2017

A Crochet Cactus Garden

I've always loved cacti and succulents; they are the most unusual and beautiful plants.

When I was a little girl, maybe twelve years old, I had a cactus garden growing in a pink ceramic pot on my dresser. I was in love with all things southwestern at the time and even had a cow skull decoration in my cactus garden. One cactus I had grew so well, and I was so amazed by its growth, that I measured it weekly, keeping a little log sheet. Unfortunately his spurt came to an abrupt end when he suddenly got all mushy and died. It was disappointing, but my love of cacti remained strong.

When Steve and I were newly married and living in our first home, we bought a cactus for our living room. There was a part of the cactus that looked very much like someone waving so we affectionately named our cactus "Yo". Unfortunately he died as well - got mushy and died, poor guy.

I don't have many places in my house now where plants survive, (not to mention, while I love cactus, I do not have the best track record when it comes to keeping them alive), so I decided to crochet myself a little cactus garden.
I wanted to make this all with scraps, so lacking an assortment of greens, I opted for some different colors. I love how it turned out....colorful cacti in a polka dot mug.
I've thought of finding some old tea cups at the thrift store and then crocheting some cacti and succulents for inside them....just a thought right now, a fun creative idea....we'll see if it comes to be.

Pattern: crochet succulents
Yarn: scraps of Stylecraft DK
Care Instructions: no watering needed, no specific light requirements

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

34/52

"A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week, in 2017."

A day at Canada's Wonderland. The best part of the day was when we went on the Dragon Fire as a family: a big hill, two upside down loops, a corkscrew and a lot of screaming - our first big roller coaster together. So much fun. We all walked off the ride windswept and laughing.

Inspired by The 52 Week Project at Practicing Simplicity.

Monday, 14 August 2017

33/52

"A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week, in 2017."

Summer fun: running through the sprinkler on a hot day, giggling and screaming.

Inspired by The 52 Week Project at Practicing Simplicity.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

The State of the Vegetable Garden

The vegetable garden has really been hit or miss this year. In the early days of summer we harvested kohlrabi and arugula, both of which were delicious.

One of our eggplant plants shriveled up and died, but we do have one eggplant growing and ready for harvest soon.
The parsley and the onions have really done well.
And I am excited to roast up all these beets with a little rosemary.
Our kale crop is okay, no where near what it was last year, and the same can be said for the chard.
Perhaps the most disappointing is the broccoli and cauliflower that amounted to nothing.

Like I said, a hit or miss year, but that is just how it goes sometimes with gardening.

How's your garden growing?

Thursday, 10 August 2017

32/52

"A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week, in 2017."

A weekend at Papa and Grandma Sandi's house on the lake: playing with your cousins, paddle boarding, tubing, jumping off the dock, swimming....a great summer weekend!

Inspired by The 52 Week Project at Practicing Simplicity.

Friday, 4 August 2017

A Summer Blanket

I don't often make blankets in the summer, preferring to work on smaller projects like toys, but I have finally fallen in love with the blanket that I started back in March, so as long as it does not get too hot to work on, I'm charging ahead, in full on blanket making mode.
I bought the yarn for this blanket after Christmas for an incredible bargain, and was planning to make a Cedar River Blanket. Unfortunately my squares were not working out, and after several attempts to get the tension correct, using different hook sizes, I became incredibly frustrated and just let the whole thing lie in a basket for a while. I then decided to scrap the whole Cedar River Blanket idea and pick a much simpler design. I settled on a diamond stitch and got to work. After a few rows I was still not loving the outcome so my project sat untouched for another month or so....

But then last week, while I was on vacation, the weather was absolutely gorgeous one afternoon, so I made myself a cup of tea, sat on the deck, and worked on my blanket in the sunshine for two whole hours. It was lovely, and at the end of the afternoon, I finally loved what my blanket was becoming.
Since then it has been all-go, row after row being added, my blanket growing beautifully. We are going away for the long weekend and have a brutal drive to endure so I am going to bring along my blanket to work on in the car - think of how lovely it will be after all those hours when there is nothing else for me to do but crochet.
(I should darn in all those ends as I go. I know this, but I am ignoring it...I'll regret it, I know.)

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Oscar the Fish

A coworker of mine, who owns several aquariums and many fish, has been trying to persuade me to get a pet fish of my own for some time now. Since that is not going to happen (no pets for this lady), I decided that the next best thing would be a to crochet a fish.

Meet Oscar - he does not need to be fed regularly and his tank never needs to be cleaned.
He was a bit more difficult to make, with all the little pieces that needed sewing on, but still a fun little project.
Another little amigurumi friend to add to my collection, and let me tell you, I have quite the collection all made by me over the years. I've had the idea to get all my amigurumi friends together for a little photo shoot....to see everything I've made all together in one place....it could be fun?
Pattern: Amigurumi Two: Crochet Toys for Me and You and Baby Too
Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter Cotton
Is this a substitute for an actual fish?: absolutely

Monday, 31 July 2017

31/52

  
"A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week, in 2017."

On Sunday we dropped you girls off at Girl Guide Camp for a five day camping adventure. You were so excited to go, counting down the minutes until we arrived by watching the GPS in the car. After we checked you in, we took you to your rooms (you both were assigned the top bunk - a dream come true) and then had to coax goodbyes out of you as you had already met some new friends and were being drawn to the craft table.

I am so excited for you to experience this week at camp, for the fun and new adventures that you are going to have. And I am so happy that you both embraced this new experience, being in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, with confidence, smiles and a little skip in your step.

In your absence, the house is very quiet.....

Inspired by The 52 Week Project at Practicing Simplicity.

Monday, 24 July 2017

30/52

"A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week, in 2017."

So excited for our annual family camping trip....and climbing a tree, just for fun...

Inspired by The 52 Week Project at Practicing Simplicity.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

29/52

"A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week, in 2017."

A few months ago, Bridget came to me after Claire was in bed to talk about a birthday gift idea that she had for her sister: matching pajamas for Claire and her doll, Willow. Her face, as she told me this idea, was just wide with excitement and love, so sure that this was a perfect gift for her sister. So together we ordered the pajamas online, waited for them to arrive, and then waited even longer for Claire's birthday to come. And it was was worth it, so worth it. Claire opened up Bridget's present first and there were a lot of hugs, kisses, and "I love yous", followed by a desperate need to try on pajamas - both herself and Willow - despite the heat of the day. The love between you girls is a beautiful thing to see.  

Inspired by The 52 Week Project at Practicing Simplicity.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Olive the Owl

I've found over the years, that my crocheting changes when summer arrives. In the heat and humidity, I am less inclined to crochet blankets that are uncomfortably hot in my lap while I'm working on them (it's better to leave those for autumn when I can curl up underneath my project) and I opt for smaller, simpler projects. I also find that I crochet less in the summer. With the longer days, I am outside more - working in the garden, walking, biking - and so there is less hooky time. It's not a bad thing, just something I've noticed, a sort of ebb and flow to my crafting.

That all being said, my most recent summer-appropriate project was an owl, Olive.
I've made this pattern twice before, for the girls, but this one is for me. And learning from my experience crocheting the chemistry set, I made a little bean bag for the bottom of my owl; Olive stands so well on her own as a result. I quite like her.
I have really rekindled my love of amigurumi lately. Back when the girls were babies and toddlers, I did so much of it until my enthusiasm dwindled and I took a little break. But now I have countless sticky notes in my pattern books, marking which patterns I want to make next, and I am back to buying crochet cotton (my yarn of choice for amigurumi) with fervor....it is an incredible feeling, I'm telling you!

What are you crocheting?

Pattern: Daisy Cottage Designs
Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter Cotton
Needed in Your Life: Absolutely 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

I'll Meet You in the Lab

I recently had the opportunity to test a crochet pattern for the very talented Lauren at A Menagerie of Stitches. Lauren designed an incredible chemistry set where the beakers, test tubes, and flasks have cute smiles and loads of personality.
The pattern was well written, with loads of helpful photos and tips. One of my favorite tips was to make a little bean bag to put in the bottom of the beaker and the flasks before stuffing them to help them stand up; a brilliant idea that would have come in very handy for some of my previous amigurumi makes, and one that I will definitely be using for future projects.
There are way more pieces to the pattern than I had time to make....more test tubes, bigger beakers and flasks, a Bunsen burner, and even instructions to make stands to really create the whole lab bench.....I just may keep going and make a few more pieces..

In the meantime, my girls are really enjoying playing "Scientist".

This pattern was so much fun to make. Thanks again to Lauren for the opportunity to test her pattern. 

Pattern: A Menagerie of Stitches
Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter Cotton
Cuteness Factor: 100%