Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Update

How can you not love a weekend that begins with a watermelon car?

Surprisingly I wasn't going to Michael's for craft supplies! Things only got better on saturday with the celebration of a 60th birthday and a healthy dose of rocket launching.

The birthday boy almost lost his noggin, but after a bit of quality control and some steady support from the peanut gallery, we had liftoff!

Early Sunday, with work on the horizon, I was up before dawn for a more controlled liftoff to CA::

What about you? I hope your weekend was filled with a few unexpected surprises to keep you smiling into Monday morning*

Thursday, April 26, 2012


A couple weeks ago, before my Fuse sweater was finished, I posted a few work-in-progress {WIP} shots with another WIP in the background. Lynn had asked about the afghan, so I thought it was time for an update!

Looking back, I realized that I started this project almost two years ago! It's something that I pick up here and there. Some nights I'll add a single hexagon and then not pick it up for another two weeks when I'll get really ambitious and not put it down until I complete a full row. I work on it in stages, first creating a whole pile of the little white flowers with the colored center. Then I use safety pins to attach them to the perimeter of the afghan ~ the color placement is random, but even so I like to pick a color based upon what's around it rather than just picking blindly from my basket. Once I have a whole bunch pinned, I'll grab the grey yarn, add the final hexagon rows and attach it.

Right now it measure about 4x4.5 feet. I'm going for something that will provide full coverage when napping on the couch ~ something big and cozy.

I'm also trying to decide how I should finish the edges. I thought it might be nice to do a row or two of solid hexagons in a different color {either a color that's inside the flowers or one that's not even part of the mix right now}. C wanted a light blue, so I added a few to see how it would look. I'm still on the fence, what do you think?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday Soundtrack

A song for Sarah, arriving home today!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Garden ~ Early Spring 2012

For this first bit of spring, I've been focused on putting the garden in order. As I mentioned last year, I just watched my garden grow ~ other than keeping the weeds out, I didn't do much to maintain order. By August of last year, I realized that this is a garden that need s a bit of wrangling. If I don't watch out, the bee balm will run wild and take over the beds, the sedum and mums will grow tall and and then fall over with the weight of their heavy flowers, the honey suckle will make its trellis buckle {catch that rhyme?}, and the grass with swallow our little stone path.

So what's the plan for this year? Well we began by putting in a little wrought iron fence along the bed with the tallest flowers. My hope is too keep them from overflowing the bed and creating patches of dead grass as shown below:

I'm also armed and ready to do some pinching back this spring. The bee balm, mums, and sedum can all be pinched back before their buds form. This will delay flowering, but it will also create shorter, sturdier stems, which will help everything stand tall. For something like the bee balm, I can also do the pinching in stages in order to purposefully create different flowering times to keep the color in the beds for a longer period of time.

On the other side of the house, rather than try to keep the foliage in the beds, I think it's time to expand the bed by a few inches. So I'll be out there soon pulling up the grass and creating a nice, clean border.

Last weekend I focused on the stone path. As you can see in the photo above, the grass was encroaching. It took about five hours to get this project done, but with my trusty screw driver as a tool {I put it under a grass clumps roots to help me pry it up}, I created about an inch of free space around each stone. It definitely wasn't fun, and my hands were so weak afterwards that I could barely write, but it looks great!

We have a few more beds with messy boarders that need attention, but that will have to wait until the spring weather returns.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fuse Finished!

It's time for a little show and tell. I started this sweater in February, and back then I told you about the interesting construction. Well, wearing the sweater is just as interesting, and I don't think I've quite figured it out yet. When all is said and done, I love it, I just can't stop fidgeting with it.

The hard part is figuring out how to button the two fronts together and have them drape nicely down the front. When I button the sweater, I end up with a puff of wool on my chest. On the one hand I love the large, funnel neck that's crated when I button it, but after a few minutes of wearing it like that the front of the sweater bunches up and is a bit frumpy. Looking back at the model wearing the sweater, I think that the sweater is smaller relative to her body than mine is to my body. So I have a few options: 1. keep playing with it and get it to work as is, 2. re-block it and try to stretch out the front pieces more, or 3. adjust where the buttons and button holes are to give me more room {although I haven't found an obvious adjustment for this}. In all honesty I'm too lazy to re-block or move the buttons, so I'll probably just leave well enough along and just do a lot of fiddling with it as is.

Other non-wooly bits:: I took these photos in our new favorite state forrest; C & C were out on the trails while I did a little photo shoot. It was raining throughout as the front end of this crazy, wintry snow storm hit our area. Today the snow is coming down and I'm just hoping the garden survives! On a positive note, I went out and picked a whole pile of the peonies that were blooming so that the snow-covered flowers wouldn't weigh down the plants.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Link On

{Purple pinecones from yesterday's walk!}

I've had the urge to paint a paint by number kit for a while now. Patiently, every time I come across kits I look for one that I would want to paint and hang on our wall. Nothing has struck my fancy until now :: Target's going to put out a line of art supplies in May that include Charlie Harper paint by number kits! I already have a few Charlie Harper prints hanging in our house, so this would be a great addition. Knowing the way these hyped-up Target releases go, I have my fingers crossed that these won't sell out in seconds.

How amazing is this hotel in Mexico?

After I saw that hotel, I happened to catch this post from Mexico, and now I'm itching to go.

Look at this Easter feast. C and I love lamb, so I may try that recipe over the weekend.

Have you heard of Cain's Arcade? and watched the video? It's worth your time and will bring a smile to your Friday. {I heard about the video on Monday and have since seen it links and references to it throughout the week, so this may be old news by now.}

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bedroom Art

First a confession :: most of last week month our bedroom looked like a tornado hit. Once we clean the place up, it looks too bare to me, but then I remember that this is what we were going for; a room that's quiet and calm, not full of clutter. Of course it will probably be covered in clothes and soon as the laundry's done, but for now I'll present the illusion of the clean, calm bedroom that we're enjoying this week.

I introduced you to our bedroom over a year ago, and since then I'm happy to say that it's come a long way! In that post, there was no art on the walls, broken handles on our dressers, no side tables, or plants, or curtains... In October I gave you a snapshot of the colors and textures we were adding to the room. Then came the curtain project. And now, FINALLY, with the addition of one more piece of homemade art, the room is done. So I'm going to drag us all through the bedroom one more time {since I have a record of the "before" on the blog, I thought it was worth it to do an "after" post}, and at the end you'll see our new art.

These flower knobs {picked up at Anthropology on sale} were added to the dressers::

Buying them was easy. Actually putting them on all the drawers took about 3 months because I needed a hacksaw to cut off the extra long screws so that they wouldn't catch on our clothes inside.

Above the bed we added the Mandal headboard from Ikea, which was made for our space::

I like how well it works with our Japanese-style bed, filling up some of that large, white wall. The headboard comes with six shelves, but we're just using three ~ two on my side because I hoard books and knitting by the bed {notice the basket under my shelves for the overflow of yarn}, and one on C's side for his phone, which is where he stores all of his books! The photos make it look like we've pushed the plant into the corner, but it's actually away from the walls by a couple of inches.

Above the bed is a photograph of the moon that my sister Sarah took while we were on vacation in Germany. She took the photograph from the window of a cute hotel in Garmisch, where they served the best German breakfasts, and the hotel owner would dote over his baby grandson. Garmisch is near Zugspitze, the highest peak in the country, so the day after arriving we took the cable car to the top and stared in awe at the scale of those mountains. While waiting for the cable car, I saw a knitted hat that was simply made, but different from my plain-jane hats ~ it was wide segments of stockinette and reverse stockinette in bright colors. There was a little yarn shop just two doors down from our hotel, so that evening Sarah and I stopped in and I picked up the yarn to knit the hat I'm wearing in this post. At this point in our trip we had driven hundreds of miles, visited a handful of cities and their Christmas markets, braved the exceptionally cold weather, and were exhausted yet happy. So when we got home I had the photo printed on canvas, and hung the moon over our bed.

From the bedroom door, you can see the taller dresser with its knobs, a little seating area, and the Matilda curtains::

 I modified the curtains by cutting off the hanging loops and replacing them with a panel of patterned fabric::
The curtain fabric matches the dresser knobs which also match our octopus pillows. I was going for the same, but different {or "same same" but different, as they say in Thailand}. What do you think? Good? or Make you want to throw up?

And now, the big reveal ::
We needed a large piece of artwork to hang over our low dresser. Unfortunately, we have those large, ugly air return vents on our wall, so rather than centering the art over our dresser, we have it hung to the right to cover the vents. I've thought about adding something tall to the left side of the dresser {reeds in a vase?} to balance things out, but since the layout isn't driving us crazy, I may just leave well enough alone rather than have to explain why we have a "vase of sticks" on the dresser.

For a few months, we had just had the blank piece of cotton fabric hanging on the wall while I thought about what should go there. I knew I wanted to keep it simple, preferably just using one or two colors on the fabric. Every once in a while I would toss out an idea to Calder. What about "word art"? Here's one example and another. He didn't love the idea and I couldn't think of something that I would absolutely want to read every day {although, I do have an idea for a piece of word art for our entryway}. Then one evening I drafted a few flower images and tossed them out for C's review. He really liked the queen anne's lace, which was great because I can't get enough of the flower myself! So I took down our blank canvas and got to work.

The icing on the cake? This large piece of art cost just $10! I picked up the fabric for $7 with the help of a Joann's coupon, and taking an idea from this post, I used a $3 bottle of shoe polish as the paint!

What do you think? I'm loving it and want to make more!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend Update

We stayed in town this weekend and managed to fill it with 48 hours of fun and a bit of crazy.

On Friday night, we caught David Sedaris on his current tour. He told a selection of stories that were both hilarious and thoughtful. And really, there's no better way to end a long work week and start the weekend than in an auditorium of family and strangers all laughing together.

I picked up the Rhuby concoction from Art in the Age and the ginger shrub from Taits farm. Before the show, I mixed up some lemon, ginger, Rhuby drinks for us. The Rhuby bottle might look familiar, because I bought their Root spirit before, and now am so excited to try Snap, which is made with ginger, molasses, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg!

The Vespa was having mechanical difficulties. So we put it in the van {yes, the van!} and then paused to get photographic evidence. I have to admit that C had complete confidence in the wacky van idea, while I naysayed it up and down, but it worked! And now we've decided that we can take it anywhere. When the scooter was in the back, Ca$h was in the passenger seat, so we looked like quite a crew when we all hopped out of the van at the mechanic's shop.

We hit up one night of the Banff Film Festival World Tour. It was a great way to spend the evening and get inspired to go outside for an adventure.... or stay inside after you watch the film COLD, preview below::

In crafty news, I finished the art for the bedroom and the sweater is blocked, so I have a few fun posts coming up this week.

And in the garden, our tulips are still blooming, and the lilacs and tree peonies aren't far behind. This morning, the pets joined us for coffee on the deck before work. Good times.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Passing Through

What a busy week! The pooch and I found a few minutes on our morning walk to sit in the dandelions, catch our breath, and enjoy the sun. What a treat after yesterday's snow and hail!
I think the garden's going to get growing again. The semester's going to come to an end very soon, my taxes will be filed, and there will be more time for fun. Can't wait!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday Soundtrack

Artist : Fun.
Song : We Are Young

Happy Wednesday*

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Belly of the Plane

We spent Saturday at a bike race on Philadelphia's naval yard, which just happens to be a flyover zone for planes landing at the airport. Guess who spent most of their time squinting at the sun and taking pictures with their phone?

Our Easter was over too quickly, but we did squeeze in piles of great food, a lesson in coffee roasting {can't wait to explore that more and share it here}, a few hikes, and plenty of visiting. I finished up my sweater {!}, and now it's just waiting to be blocked, which will happen sometime soon, probably when I'm down to the wire and looking for one more excuse to procrastinate before doing my taxes...

Friday, April 06, 2012

Link On

This post has me wanting a jean jacket, but my concious says no. What do you think?

Remember learning to diagram sentences? While I couldn't spell the words to save my life, diagramming was a puzzle that made sense.

 I'm loving this idea for a garden path.

 C's been calling me "tock". He comes up with all sorts of nicknames, so I was just going along with this one and didn't realize until he told me that it was because my $3 watch ticks and tocks, as if I'm the crocodile in Peter Pan.

 I made these lemon squares yesterday. They were so quick and easy {and devoured by everyone} that I think they'll enter the regular rotation of treats this summer.

 I'm so close to making my own shrub. After Nik introduced me to it a few years ago, I've been hooked. Last year, I found some locally made shrub at Tait Farm. I just used up those bottles and am thinking it's time to make my own. Here's a nice and simple recipe.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Thailand ~ Garden Inspiration

After Thailand, I'm really excited to install a water garden or two at our house. Before my trip the idea wasn't even on my radar. I remember walking past a small water garden the morning I arrived and I thought "wow, that's unique". Then I passed another, and another, and soon started to realize that water gardens in Thailand are as common as a pot of lilies at Easter or a pot of mums in September are in the US.

This one was in front of a house off of a side street in Sarah's town::
That was the first time I noticed the fish swimming around, and afterwards I realized that almost every garden had fish.

Bumping into them everywhere, I began to think about how easy they would be to make. Almost every garden used large, glazed pots, otherwise they were in large, stationary cement pools. They would have floating plants {duckweed or water lettuce} and/or some type of potted plant, such as water lilies or lotus flowers. If they used a potted plant, their pots were hidden below the water. The fish were koi in the larger pots and goldfish or some other small fish in the smaller pots.

When I came home, I did a bit of research and found a few really helpful sites. Apartment Therapy and A Way to Garden both had helpful posts {links will take you directly to their water garden posts}. From A Way to Garden, I found Catfish Logic which is where I'm going to place my order.

I'm thinking of starting with some water lettuce, duckweed, and a lily. It'll be fun to add some fish too. I've heard that they become easy prey for neighborhood cats and raccoons, but it'll still be fun to give it a go and support the local food chain. As for breeding mosquitoes, the fish will take care of the larva, but they can also be flooded out of your container by adding more water {and letting the mosquito larva float over the edge}. I'll let you know how it goes; I'm sure we'll end up with more than one water garden when all is said and done, because C already told me that the pot I brought home for the project is too small ~ he wants this to be a WATER FEATURE, not a water feature.

The water gardens at Jim Thompson's house::

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Last week I couldn't knit at all, but since Saturday I've been picking it up and knitting a row here and there. Every time telling C that I'm *almost* done.

I'm just rounding the top corner with the border. I'll knit these stitches from right to left across the back, put the stitches on a holder, pick up the border stitches from the left side, knit those across the back until both sides meet in the middle and then stitch them together. Then it's just a matter of sewing the underarm seams, and blocking!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Link On

A little bit of inspiration for your Monday.*

 Over on the Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking, I found this little free library project and love it! What a fun idea for sharing books. I'm putting on my radar for a future project. I would love to do something like this in our little development... I'm not sure what the response would be, but that's part of my interest in doing it. I also think it'd be a fun project if you have kids and live in a place with a bunch of kiddos ~ they could visit each other's libraries as a way to share books. Check out the original Little Free Library site if you want to learn more.

 How awesome is this lace art? I particularly love the power plant and electric wire pieces. On our road trips, I'm always drawn to the power lines, and always come home with way to many photos of them. When we're driving along, I imagine the US as a quilt; it's varying topography makes up the patterns of the fabric, and the power lines are the stitches holding us all together. On the one hand I find the power lines ugly and don't want them blocking my view, on the other hand I'm in awe of their varying designs and all of the work that went in to giving us all the power we need to boot up computers, communicate in an instant, and pump our drinking water up out of the ground. It's silly, but I've told Calder that I want to put my photos together one day in a huge art exhibit. Seeing the lace versions of the power lines really struck me.

 I came across the blog brooklyn to west last week when she was featured on Design*Sponge, and was so inspired thinking about the wood shop she's created in her NYC apartment, and the beautiful furniture she's building from her dumpster diving adventures.

 Finally, a few bits of food inspiration::
~ Orange Cake
~ olive oil and ice cream? I'm intrigued.

*When everything's going my way, I'd like to make the Link On posts a regular Friday feature. Look out for more this week!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Best Reason

This is exactly why I wanted a dog:: I've seen this mossy stone wall three times in the past week and each time it puts a bit smile on my face.

I know that I'm so much happier when I spend a bit of time outside every day, whether it's warm with sunny skies, below freezing and snowing, or in the fifties and foggy. With my job in front of the computer and so many fun inside hobbies to keep me busy, it's so easy to let the days pass by without really getting outside. I knew that if we got a dog, priorities would shift in the right direction so that even when I'm working under a tight Saturday deadline, I would find the hour required to take the pooch on a good long walk. That was the exact situation yesterday when we slipped out to go for a hike.

And at the very end of our walk, around the bend in the road, we saw this roly-poly little baby bear::Of course, we kept our distance so as not to upset any momma bears waiting in the wings. We just stopped and watched. I thanked Cash for reminding me that the woods were waiting, and he was pumped that I knew how to drive the car.