Tuesday, 5 June 2018

The Vegetable Garden

Having a veggie garden is one of my most favorite things. This year we were much more organized and got the soil turned over and fertilized well before planting began. And the weather cooperated with warm days, lots of sun, and just the right amount of rain at the right time, making for an enjoyable planting weekend, and some noticeable growth on the plants already.

We have two raised beds where we plant our veggie garden. Having a few years under our belt has taught us what works and what doesn't, valuable knowledge we used in making our planting decisions.

In the first bed we have kale - curly, red, prizm - as well as kalettes which are new to us, and apparently a very trendy vegetable. (Look at us, on trend!) We also have beets - two different red varieties - and purple kohlrabi. It looks sparse now, but it will fill in.
The second bed is a little fuller. Perennial onions (from my Oma's garden) are doing well in the corner alongside the chives.
I also planted some additional herbs: rosemary, sage, basil, parsley. The rumex raspberry is another new addition this year and I am hoping to add it to salads.
Broccoli has been hit and miss for us over the years, but with six plants this year we are hoping for a decent harvest.
Here we have swiss chard, eggplant, and our raspberry bush (which survived the winter).
Peppermint and apple mint are planted in small pots and sit on the deck.
Things are growing quite well and I am much encouraged by the garden this year.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Life Lately....


Well, it was never my intention to be absent from this space for so long, but things happen...

Overall, life has been ticking along just fine:

  • I had a birthday...which happened to coincide with a major ice storm.

  • We went on holidays to Florida. To Disney. And it was awesome!

  • I have so many crochet projects to finish...yet at the same time all I can think about is starting something new. I really want to crochet a flamingo.

  • I've planted the vegetable garden and I'm so excited to watch it grow over the summer.

  • And of course there are now flowers on the deck.

  • I am trying very hard to incorporate a little more rest into my days. I've been feeling a little ragged and run down lately, which is never good.

  • Our bi-weekly produce box will be starting up again soon and I'm looking forward to cooking up all the fresh produce.

  • My daughter did a project on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which sent me down the rabbit hole watching videos and reading articles on the detrimental effects of plastics in our environment. Horrified by what I learned, I have been taking steps to reduce our plastic use which is a huge challenge; plastic is everywhere and in everything.

  • I am constantly amazed (but I shouldn't be) by how fast food disappears in my house. If you're looking for me, there is a good chance I am at the grocery store..

  • The other day my neighbor referred to our house and family as perfect....and it really freaked me out. I'm not sure why she thinks that, because let's face it, nothing is perfect, we are not perfect. Maybe the heat was getting to her as she had spent the day hauling rocks around her garden?

  • I want to learn how to embroider. And my cross stitch picture is calling me.

Normal stuff here. Just ticking along. How are you all?

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Crocheted Green Flowers

After finishing my Seaside Scarf, I had a bit of leftover yarn and so to keep it from languishing forgotten in the bottom of my yarn drawer, I had a go at making a few flowers.
I've done this many times, with many bits of leftover yarn. There is something so satisfying about making crochet flowers; I spent a lovely evening sitting on the sofa in my pajamas, with a tea and a candle burning, crocheting these beauties - true relaxation.

These flowers are excellent as coasters, and also look adorable under a flower pot. I have a small windowsill in the kitchen and I love to put plants there as it is the only place in my house where plants survive. And nothing is more homey than a little plant sitting atop a crochet flower.
Now, this pattern is not my own, I printed it from somewhere years ago, and for the life of me I can not find the link anymore. So I've included the pattern here should you wish to make a few flowers of your own. From my experience any yarn type works well, just remember that the bulkier the yarn used, the larger your flower will be.

Crochet Flower

ch 6, join with a slip stitch to form a ring.

Round 1: ch 3 (counts as first dc), 19 dc in ring, join with slip stitch in top of first ch-3 (20 dc total for this round)

Round 2: ch 3 (counts as first dc), dc in next dc, *ch 2, dc in each of next 2 dc**, repeat the directions between * and ** around, then ch 2, slip stitch in top of first ch-3 of this round.

Round 3: slip stitch in next dc (to reach starting point for this round), slip stitch in ch-2 space, ch 3 (counts as first dc), (dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in same ch-2 space, *skip next 2 dc, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next ch-2 space**, repeat directions between * and ** around, then slip stitch in the top of the first ch-3 of this round

Round 4: slip stitch in next dc (to reach starting point for this round), slip stitch in ch-2 space, ch 3 (counts as first dc), (6 dc, 1 sc) in same ch-2 space, *(7 dc, 1 sc) in next ch-2 space**, repeat directions between * and ** around, then slip stitch in the top of the first ch-3 of this round, end off.

Make several flowers and put them in a little pile - so satisfying.

Happy crocheting friends.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

March Intentions

Hello friends. I'm a little later with this post than I had planned, but better late than never.....
February certainly flew by, but in and among all the busyness of life I managed to fulfill some of the intentions that I set out at the beginning of the month. I did a minor clean out of my closet, getting rid of worn out clothes or ones that don't suit/fit. I baked a plant based dessert - Pistachio Coconut Bars - and they were delicious. We have a cottage booked for a week this summer, right on the lake, and I can't tell you how excited I am to sit by the water or on the porch and crochet. A financial goal of ours was reached. And I have made a few comfy additions to my crochet corner and spent some time tucked up there working on my latest project - the colorful stripes in the above photo.

As for my scarf pattern - it's out in the world, have you seen it?

Having set intentions in February and then having met them was incredibly satisfying for me, so I'm doing the same for March:
  • clean out the girls' closets
  • finish my Blooming Flower Cushion (it's going to be gorgeous!)
  • buy tulips
  • get summer camps organized for the girls
  • go for walks 
  • read two books
And I think I'll leave it at that...a manageable list.

What are your intentions for March? I'd love to hear. 

Sunday, 4 March 2018

The Seaside Scarf

I feel a bit like I am stepping out from behind the curtain here, and there are definitely butterflies in my stomach, but today I am very excited to share with you the very first crochet pattern that I have ever designed....The Seaside Scarf
I know, right? So exciting!!!!!

Designing a pattern is something that I have wanted to do for a long time, but for one reason or another it never happened. And to be fair, as fun as the idea sounded, it also seemed incredibly daunting. But sometimes you just need to get over yourself and do it, know what I mean? And the results of doing that can be so rewarding and fulfilling.
As someone who has not crocheted many wearables, I was surprised that I was drawn to design a scarf. I always thought that if I ever got to designing a crochet pattern that it would be an amigurumi friend...who knows, that may still come.
This scarf is textured, yet the stitch pattern is very simple. It is a great project to work on while watching television or while waiting for/watching your children participate in their lessons. Best to keep those hands busy, and fill every spare moment with a little creativity, am I right?
I've used a multi-colored yarn for my scarf (Caron Tea Cakes in Pistachio Macron). The colors remind me of the seaside and I think the texture created by the stitches resembles the patterns left by the the waves as they roll in and out along the shore - hence the name: Seaside Scarf. That being said, I do think this scarf would look lovely in a solid color, a color that speaks to you and makes you incredibly happy to have wrapped around your neck.
I've written the pattern for the Seaside Scarf below should you wish to make one of your own. I hope you enjoy it, I really hope you do.

The Seaside Scarf

Caron Big Cakes in Pistachio Macron (1 cake)
Size H crochet hook (5 mm)
Tapestry Needle

Gauge: 13 dc by 8 rows equals a 4 inch square

Dimensions: width: 7.5 inches; length: 62 inches without fringe, 80 inches with fringe

1 ch = 1 sc
3 ch = 1 dc

Abbreviations (US terms):
ch - chain
sc - single crochet
dc - double crochet
sk - skip
fpdc - front post double crochet

ch 216

Row 1: sc in second ch from hook, sc in each ch across, turn (215 sc)

Row 2: ch 3, sk 1 sc, dc in next sc, *ch 1, sk 1 sc, dc in next 2 sc*, repeat across ending with 2 dc, turn (72 2dc groups) (Note: when repeating row 2, end with 1 dc in top of turning ch from previous row)

Row 3: ch 1, sk 1 dc, *sc in next dc, 1 sc in ch 1 space from previous row, *sc in next 2 dc, 1 sc in ch 1 space from previous row*, repeat across ending with 1 sc in top of turning 3ch from previous row, turn (215 sc)

Row 4: ch 3, sk 1 sc, dc in next sc, dc in each sc across ending with 1 dc in turning chain from previous row, turn (215 dc)

Row 5: ch 2, sk 1 dc, fpdc in next dc, sc in next dc, *fpdc in next dc, sc in next dc* repeat across ending with 1 sc in top of turning 3ch from previous row, turn (107 fpdc)

Row 6: ch 3, sk 1 st (the sc that ended the previous row), dc in next stitch, dc in each stitch across ending with 1 dc in top of turning 2ch from previous row, turn (215 dc)

Row 7: ch 1, sk 1 sc, sc in next dc, sc in each dc across ending with 1 sc in top of turning 3ch from previous row, turn (215 sc)

Repeat rows 2 - 7 two times.
Repeat rows 2 and 3.
Fasten off and weave in all ends.

To create the fringe: cut 100 pieces of yarn 18 inches in length. Holding five 18 inch pieces together, fold them in half, holding a loop at one end. Feed the loop through the end of a row, pull the open ends through the loop and pull snug. Repeat along each end of the scarf, adding as much or as little fringe as you would like.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

A Canadian Toque and Scarf

Standing in the snow, wearing boots, sweatpants, and my newly crocheted red and white toque and scarf, made me feel like the All-Canadian-Girl.
I am quite proud of my hat, as in all my years crocheting this is the first hat that I have ever made. The pattern is from Megmade with Love, a free pattern on her website. I used a thinner yarn than she did so I needed to play with the number of pattern repeats a bit to get a hat that fit my head, but it all worked out in the end.
My scarf is made with a new-to-me stitch pattern, the Millstone Stitch. Once you get the hang of it, this pattern works up quite beautifully and is very rhythmic to work on.
After many years of putting it off, I finally bought a new winter coat for myself, and this scarf and hat look perfect with it. We've had some hints of spring the last few days but I know better than to declare the end of winter; with a few more months of cold and snow ahead of us, I'm glad to have a lovely toque and scarf to get me through.
Patterns: Hat, Scarf
Yarn: Stylecraft DK in Cream and Claret
Photo Credit: my husband and his 50mm lens

Thursday, 1 February 2018

February Intentions

I don't know about you, but for me January felt like the longest month ever and generally speaking I've been feeling a little blah and unmotivated. I don't know what it is, but I just can't seem to get into the groove of things. I have ideas and things I want to do, but actually doing them seems incredibly difficult. I'm not sure what is causing this, though one guess is the weather. Grey days and only tiny snippets of sunshine here and there just make me want to curl up in bed.

But enough is enough, so with a new month upon us, I thought I would set a few intentions for myself, a list of things to get at in February in the hopes that it will pull me out of my funk just a bit. Here goes....
  • write up and release to the world the scarf pattern that I designed
  • make summer holiday plans 
  • bake a plant based dessert
  • collect tile samples for our kitchen back splash
  • check off a financial goal
  • minor closet clean out
  • update my crochet corner
And I'll leave it at that, a manageable list. And I'll report back at the end of the month to see how I do. Funny thing, I'm feeling better already, knowing that my intentions are well defined and expressed. Bring on February....we can make it through these dark days of winter....

Photos: carnations that last forever and brighten my days, my favorite blanket that I've made, a little project I've started working on again.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Right Now

  • I'm trying to get my head around the fact that January is almost over
  • My feet are cold
  • I am baffled by the fact that someone stole stationary supplies from my desk at work - why?
  • I am psyching myself up to wear a swimsuit on the weekend. It's Bridget's birthday party on Saturday and as per her wish we are going swimming. I want to celebrate her birthday, I do, I'm just not excited to put on a swimsuit in January.
  • The days are getting a little bit longer - have you noticed?
  • I have a craving for brussel sprouts - how weird is that?
  • I need to remember to make a hair appointment....
  • I'm designing my own crochet pattern for a scarf and after only a handful of botched attempts, it is going well and looking just like I had envisioned.
  • I'm wishing for spring, like I do at this time every year
  • I'm enjoying the sun and blue skies outside my window
  • I'm happy to be at home on this beautiful day
  • We just got home from skating and it was awesome
What are you up to right now?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

A Big Chunky Blanket

I made a big, chunky, granny stitch blanket.
I hadn't really intended to make another blanket, as we certainly have enough in the house, but this blanket seemed destined to be made: the yarn was on sale for an incredible price, the colors coordinate with my living room perfectly, I had been thinking of working with chunky yarn which I've not done much of, and the free pattern on the label was the perfect project. See, meant to be; it would have been disgraceful for me to walk away from all these positive signs.

The yarn is Caron Tea Cakes. I love that this yarn is variegated and that the colors blend from one to another as you crochet so that when you're done you have a gorgeous, multicolored blanket without many ends to darn in; that's what I call a win-win.
I stumbled across the yarn at Michaels around the beginning of December when they were having a huge yarn sale. The yarn section of the store was full of ladies picking out yarn and chatting with each other about their projects. One lady told me all about how she was going to crochet octopuses for her grandchildren for Christmas and she wanted me to help her pick her colors. It was so inspiring to be around so many people who were excited about yarn; that does not happen every day.

Like I said, the pattern for this blanket was on the yarn label. It was a simple pattern - easy to work on while watching Game of Thrones - and I even learned a new-to-me trick. Because it is a rectangular blanket, you start by making a chain and then crochet your groups of three around the chain. Having the solid chain in the center keeps the design straight. I've often made granny square blankets and the center has gone off and not been straight at all, even after blocking, which really bothers me. Starting with a chain adds some stability, its' a little tip I'll have to remember.
It's been very cold and damp around here lately and having an extra blanket in the living room has been welcome. Pajamas, this blanket wrapped around me, a cup of tea, and my next crochet project in my lap - this is what my evenings are all about. Life is good.

Yarn: Five Balls of Caron Tea Cakes in Oolong
Pattern: from the label

Monday, 15 January 2018

Three Things

Hello Monday!

Three things that are making me happy today as I start the week:

A day off work. I sometimes have to work weekends at my job, and it is not my favorite. On the plus side, I do get two days off during the week in lieu, which is not all bad. I have several hours to myself today while my family is at school and work - time to get caught up on some house stuff, do some errands, and then hopefully fit in a little crochet.

Loose leaf tea - I have been converted, tea in bags is just dust in comparison. Brewing tea from loose leaves has changed my life. It's delicious.

Recommitting to clean eating. It is a lot of work to plan meals and chop veggies, but I feel so much better physically, and feel more content with how I am providing for my family, that the extra effort is worth it.

What is making you happy as you start another week?

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

2017: A Year of Crochet

Before we get too far into this year, I thought I would take a look back at all the things I crocheted in 2017. I did this last year and really enjoyed the trip down memory lane, seeing all that I made collected in one place - it was quite satisfying.

Making things has always been, and will always be, an important part of my life - I truly can not imagine my life without a work in progress (or three) sitting in various baskets around the house or on the end of the sofa. This year I did a lot of crochet, quite a lot. Crochet is by far my most beloved hobby and I love each and every moment I spend with a hook in my hand.

I began the year making my Attic 24 Weekend Bag which I planned to line with some fun fabric but never did - need to add that to the list. I then finished my Autumn Doily, crocheted some succulents to put in my beloved elephant planter, and finally adorned my yarn wreath.
With time off work in March, I got a lot done: a handy crochet bowl, an arctic critter, pattern testing a unicorn, and some simple coasters.
April was just as productive: Mr. and Mrs. Cactus, Charlotte the Bumble Bee, the Maybelle Blanket, and a snail in a pear.
I'm surprised by how much I got done in the summer, considering all the gardening that I did and the time I spent outdoors: an apple and worm as a teacher gift, a chemistry set which was another pattern testing opportunity, Olive the Owl, and Oscar the Fish.
With the arrival of autumn, I cuddled up indoors and crocheted a bit more: a kerchief scarf for Claire, rustic pumpkins, my summer blanket (finally finished), and Spot the Ladybug.
To brighten the grey days of November, I made a rainbow purse and then got started on a little gift making, an angel for Claire's piano teacher.
My goodness I made a lot this year and looking back at it all makes me so proud and happy. There are so many happy memories in these makes, and looking at the pictures, I remember so many details of where I was and what else was happening while I was crocheting. Absolutely wonderful. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be creative and to crochet everyday.

If you are interested in seeing last year's crafty round up you can do so here.

Now I'm off to work on the first few projects of 2018.

Long Live Crochet!!!!

Monday, 8 January 2018

My Perfect Cup of Tea

One scoop of tea leaves (I am in love with Earl Grey from Davids Tea), hot water, steeped for exactly four minutes, and I always use my favorite mug. I wrap my hands around the mug, sit down at the kitchen table and inhale the sweet smelling steam. Slowly I sip, usually while working on a little crochet, and I relax. I feel the tension leave my body, I breathe deeply....it is perfect.
It is really the little things, the simple things, that bring happiness to our days, isn't it. I heard an a commentary the other day about how there is so much chatter in the world, and especially on social media, about "living a big story" when maybe, just maybe, we should focus on living our simple everyday lives, recognizing and appreciating the small moments that truly make up the fabric of our days...I could not agree more.
I am not one for lofty resolutions and goals at the beginning of the new year (and I do not need any organizational systems or a gym membership), but I do have this intention: to focus on appreciating the everyday moments a little more, to pause and be grateful for them - a cup of tea, a conversation, a hug, a quiet walk, making dinner....the little moments that make up my days. It's not like I have been ignoring these things, but I just want to acknowledge them a little more - not with a parade, but in my heart and soul. I have so much to be grateful for.
I'm going to go now and make myself another cup of tea (the leaves are good for at least three cups #nowaste) and crochet while I watch the snow fall, thankful that I'm not out on the roads. Have a lovely day, friends.

P.S. Photos of my houseplants are included here in celebration of the fact that they are alive and thriving....no simple feat in my home, under my care. That being said, fear not, my children are alive and thriving. 

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Taking Stock

 A new year, the perfect time to take stock of where I'm at right now....

Making: a menu plan for Bridget's birthday brunch
Cooking: double batches of dinners so I can freeze some for later
Drinking: Earl Grey tea
Reading: this book
Watching: the squirrels jump onto the bird feeder
Deciding: to cut back on sweets
Hoping: it warms up a bit so we can go skating
Enjoying: quiet days at home
Liking: not getting up in the dark to go to work
Loving: breathing deeply
Pondering: how to get more calm into my days on a regular basis
Listening: to podcasts - quite possibly the greatest thing
Considering: what my focus should be for the new year
Buying: a new winter coat - finally - I made a career of this
Browsing: my cookbooks for healthy dinners to start off the year
Wishing: my feet were warm
Wondering: if a 1:00pm yoga class on Saturdays would work for me?
Marveling: at how cold it looks outside; cold has a look
Waiting: for this book to arrive in the mail
Cringing: at the state of the girls' playroom
Hoping: for a dinner out sometime soon at my favorite restaurant
Needing: a haircut (I say this a lot)
Smelling: my beeswax candle on the kitchen windowsill
Wearing: my lululemon pants and grey sweatshirt - my home uniform, it seems
Noticing: where my mind wanders when I do mundane tasks
Knowing: I need to 'let go' of some sadness and hurt
Prioritizing: self care and self investment
Sorting: as I go, not focusing on any one area right now
Thinking: about what to do with all the crochet things I have in my house
Celebrating: how much I overcame in 2017
Disliking: how cracked and dry my hands are
Feeling: peace, calm
Hearing: the wind whip around the house
Embracing: the value in my every day rituals
Accepting: that some things are what they are and I can not change it, best to just move on

I've been off work for almost two weeks now, and after the busyness of Christmas, I have been enjoying a much slower pace, more time and space in my days, and an overall sense of calm and relaxation. It has been marvelous to just be in the moment and do what I enjoy rather than always checking things off a list and rushing on to the next thing. I've had time to think about this space, to ponder what I want it to be and the direction I want it to go in....and to make a few changes to the design (do you like it?) I'm excited about the new year and feeling ready for a fresh start, a focused perspective, and making a few plans.

Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for being here. I hope 2018 brings you much happiness.

(writing prompts courtesy of Pip