Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Fairy Lights

Lights are an important part of the season. My Christmas lights had burnt out so I turned in my amazon points for a strand of LED lights and I had enough left over for some Fairy Lights.
One of my mother's handmade soy candles surrounded with pine cones, sweet gum tree seeds, and fairy lights.

I hadn't heard of fairy lights before this but after getting my own I'm seeing them everywhere. A thin copper strand with little dew drops of epoxy covering the glowing filament and two strands with the included batteries cost less than a gingerbread latte.

I've been reading around other blogs about how horrible and sad 2015 turned out to be. With the avian flu making the cost of eggs rise 138%, banana fungus decimating the cavendish banana, all the shootings, the Paris bombings, the European Refugee Crisis, the California drought and record wildfires, and  Donald Trump as a presidential candidate, there is a point. However, now we also have fairy lights and I wouldn't want to live during any other time.

Starting tonight the days will be getting longer, the nights shorter, I'm fondly wrapping up 2015 and looking forward to 2016.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sympathetic Magic

Today is the first day of Winter and I'm growing a bit of springtime inside. Just so it doesn't get any crazy ideas about staying around too long. Also, because winter window gardening is so much easier and pleasant than gardening any other time of year.

As soon as I closed on the house I took a lovely housewarming gift card for the local nursery and bought bulbs. Crocuses in particular but also Dutch Iris and Hyacinth.

In doing this I found that I can plant thirty bulbs in one session and having more than three session worth on hand at once is a bad idea. Noting this now for next fall; make more than one trip to the nursery and don't buy everything all at at once. But with family's help I did get the last ones planted.

I saved some Hyacinth bulbs back for forcing inside. Apparently, I'm doing it all wrong having read the instructions for growing in water weeks after starting but I think it will still work fine. If not, I did hold three more bulbs back in the fridge for a second round.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


I'm making a garland of little socks and they are just so adorable that I can't stop. I should have it hung by now but instead I keep making more.


Growing up we didn't have dedicated Christmas stocking but instead used a real sock. When very little we did get to hang our mothers knee high socks but by the 5th grade I was laying out my own white and pink tube sock.

Knitting the little socks from sock scraps has been a blast to the past as I remember what I was doing when I knit each original pair.

The one on the bottom left I knit at the Chicago airport waiting for my father to fly in to drive the moving truck to Kansas City. Joey had been diagnosed with cancer the day before. The pink and black stripped on the right was a Christmas gift to a friend when I lived in Southern Illinois. The red one I knit as I was trying to find knitting groups when I was newly back to Kansas City. The orange was used to embellish the heels and cuffs of a brown pair for a friend that is now gone. The pink at the top next to it if from a baby sweater. 

It's wonderful to be giving each yarn a second life in my home.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


One of the things that I remember fondly from the Christmases of my childhood is the amaryllis bulb in a box. My father would bring home the box and we would plant it together and then it would grow before our eyes in the living room window.

An amaryllis bulb was pretty high on my want list so I was excited to find them in Home Depot on clearance. I was at Home Depot to use the last of a housewarming gift card for a long list of home supplies. While they didn't have anything I needed that day, I planned ahead and picked up a snow shovel (the first one I've owned, ever) and the gift card had enough left for the amaryllis too.

I've never kept one alive to bloom again next year but my neighbor swears it's super easy and all I have to do is keep it on my porch over the summer. I will see. It would be wonderful to have it for Christmases to come.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Making Traditions

In the spirit of only using what I have on hand, I painted my ornaments with glitter nail polish.

While I don't recommend going out and buying nail polish to use as paint it is fantastic. It doesn't show in the photos but they flash like disco balls. Even the white ones are covered in white and holographic glitter and flash the prettiest.

I've already hosted Christmas for my dad and his wife and my brother. We hung the ornaments from the ceiling and put up my garland and Christmas lights around the window

I served a meal every two hours, we exchanged gifts, and watched Dexter. A nice traditional family Christmas. Another tradition I followed, I didn't take a photo of any of the knitted gifts before giving them away.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Christmas Decorations

When I was in Hobby Lobby buying the glass paint I got sucked into the Christmas section. There is something about a brand new house and the first Christmas that drags a person in. I watched my friends experience it and I'm no different. My family Christmas is at my place on December 3rd and I wanted ALL the things.

I wander the aisle trying to decide my decoration budget. What is appropriate? $100? $10. More? Less?

Where would the funds come from since Christmas decorations wasn't even on my radar until that moment. It sure wasn't coming from my pocket money since, almost ironically, I had spent it this month on a new budget program, YNAB, to replace the spreadsheet I've been using for years. I'm really enjoying it. But, anyway, are decorations more important than the funds I've saved for presents, the Christmas feast, my emergency fund?

Then if I do buy decorations what is my new home's style. This years choices in the store are seashore, peacocks, silver and gold glam, candy land, or woodland creatures. I don't know. None felt right. Not right for me. Not right for this house. I walked out of the store with just the glass paint.

I spend a bit of time online looking at ideas and I don't see anything I like there either. Everything is either too Martha and Better Homes or too Hipster and Industrial or way too DIY Rustic.

I did find a DIY Danish blog I like that was all red and white, sunshine and plants and yarn, with a hint of Christmas and not a trace of burlap rustic. Then there was also the family photos of Christmas in the 60s with the tree, the lights, the tinsel and little else. Finally, Christmas that looked like Home.

Ok. Simplicity and a bit retro is my style and I decide to set my decorating budget at $0. It's not that I won't buy anything. I have my Amazon points, I have some gift cards, there is no reason they can't be enough. What I can't buy I'll make with what I have. My box of art supplies is nice and full.

First up is baking soda ornaments.
I found a recipe online. Like all the recipes I find online it was horrible and I changed everything about it before I could get it to work.
I gave away all my cookie cutters years ago because all the gluten free cookies I've made have been gross. Perhaps, because I found the recipes online.
However, free form stars are pretty cool.

My version of Baking Soda Ornaments
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 2 cup baking soda
  • 3 cup water
Cook over medium heat, boiling a bit but don't let it brown, until it thickens to a firm pudding. Think the texture of flan. Turn out into a bowl and cover with a damp cloth so it doesn't dry out.

Dust working area and a pan with baking soda so they don't stick.

Shape into ornaments keeping it about 1/4 inch thick. Rolled dough and cookie cutters is the easiest but do whatever you want.

Bake at 175F until completely dry. About 2-3 hours. Turning the pans every 30 min.

It makes more stars than you will care to cut out by hand. 

There. Now that it's posted online the recipe is guaranteed to be horrible. Even so, it was a fun way to spend a morning.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Stash Enhancement

I went to the Creative Hand sale today to support my friends and buy spinning fiber.

Yarn is almost ubiquitous, even locally hand dyed yarn isn't hard to come by. However, spinning fiber takes some effort to track down. I usually take a fiber vacation and travel to a convention or a festival but that didn't happen this year. Creative Hand is local and filled the need. With only three or four fiber artist featuring spinning fiber it's a smaller selection but still ample.

First, an art batt that comes with corresponding beads to either spin into the yarn or use to embellish the project. 100g of Divine Fibers by Spellspun Yarns.
Art batts must be my theme of the day since I also bought 5oz of Mulligan Stew by Bonkers.

Perhaps a small haul but enough to keep me busy for a few months.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Colored Glass

My guest bath has a window that looks out onto the front porch. It's not that it just looks out onto the front porch but it's right next to the doorbell so that if anyone is at the door they can't help but look in at the facilities.

To make the room usable the window needs to be dealt with. A curtain might be the easiest but the window is narrow and deep and would need a custom curtain. Glass etching is also an option, however, I wanted something less boring and glass etching a window in patterns is more than I'm ready to take on.

After looking at ideas online I decided on glass paint for a stained glass look.

Some glass broke in the move and made a perfect palette for testing colors. I used it while still in the frame so I wouldn't need to worry about sharp edges. I also practiced my brushwork since the examples online showed that glass paint isn't very forgiving.

Once I picked my colors I cut then out of the sampler. It makes opening the pots easier and eliminates the chance of using the wrong color. I thought about drawing out a color diagram but was too impatient and will pick color placement as I go.

I'm using thin coats for a neater application and letting them dry for several hours between coats.

It's going to be a ongoing process. The amber pane has five coats already and I think is a bit more than half done. The dirty looking pane on the left is one coat of purple. The pane on the right is seven coats of frost. I think the frosted pane is finished but will reevaluate as the rest of the window fills in.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


The house is a modest ranch home built in the 50s and yet it’s the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen. I’m, perhaps, a bit biased but I figure anything that costs the equivalent of 767 hand dyed sweater quantities of yarn should illicit a little pride

I’m starting with the closets since there is something compelling about KonMari closets. Also because I HAVE CLOSETS! Where my apartment had one for my clothes and one for the vacuum, this house has one for coats, and another for linens, and another for my clothes, and two for yarn, and yet another that I don’t even have enough stuff to put in it.

The coat closet. All the coats and accessory and daily shoes.

Basket on the floor for the accessories I’m keeping. They will need a better method at some point.

Tote of gifts on top.

Also, all my cleaning supplies. I hope once the garage is empty of boxes I can make a place to keep them there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I'm going through all my possessions using the KonMari method. It's taken the internet like a plague and I read it for the first time last December. The whole time I was reading it I keep thinking this is so quaint, this is so Japanese, however I like quaint and Japanese so there we go.

My favorite part is to do it all at once in a big push. To make the home you want now with what you have and to not dither over it endlessly. As someone with an obsessive nature and a short attention span this is my kind of philosophy.

The other part that I was doubtful about but turned out to be true, is the sentiment that you already have everything you need to have the place of your dreams. I was doubtful since I aspire to have nice things but my apartment was full of crap, champagne taste on a beer budget and all that.

Last December I did over my whole apartment keeping just the things (as best I could. It was really really hard) that sparked a joyful response. Once most of the things I didn't like were gone I realized that I did have nice things but they had been hidden from sight by all the drek. It was so satisfying to be left with a beautiful apartment.

Now it's time to do it again. I hope it will be easier this time since gone are all the things I was keeping because I thought I should. However, I wasn't able to get rid of everything because of the Just-in-case. As a renter the biggest is "it doesn't work now but I'll keep it just in case it works in the next place," so no more of that.

Even so, my natural inclination is keep everything forever and what I'm striving for this time through is keeping what works right now along with a few things to represent the past. Not every single thing.

The book gives an order to work and starts with the clothes as being the easiest emotionally. I've already sorted and folded all my clothes getting rid of anything that didn't fit, was stained, or just didn't please me anymore. The only thing worthy of pictures is the knitwear since it's a bit monumental.    
Fifteen years worth of knitted accessories.

I have five coats ranging from a light jacket down to one suitable for hours outside in an arctic blast
I laid them out on the floor and matched up accessories that look good with each
There wasn't any thoughts about how many was the right number or if I was keeping too many or too few.
It was just finding and keeping the ones that I would feel good wearing together.
The remaining tote of ones that don’t match that are never worn to be gifted this Christmas.

The photos of the pile that is so worn out they were thrown away and the one of the pile to frog and reknit the yarns are too blurry to post, but they were substantial.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


I volunteer at Wayside Waifs two or three days a week to walk and socialize dogs.

This big boy came home with me.

His head it bigger than my foot. Bigger than both of my feet together.

He is so shy and quiet, just like Joey was.

Finn rarely gives voice but when he does his coon hound bay is so loud and deep it shakes the glass in the windows and the rawooouooouwoofrouuuu makes me laugh and call him Finn-a-roo

Monday, November 16, 2015

Home Sweet Home

I've closed on the house!  I've finally been released from housing limbo and it feels so good.

The only way I’ll be leaving this place is feet first so it’s time to go through all my stuff again and only keep what belongs to this space. I’ll be free to move out all the things that “maybe will work in the next place I rent”. I’m super excited to begin the process!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Concentrated Effort

I work from home now. That means I have to make a concentrated effort to leave the house and get out to interact with people.

This week I made it back to the knitting group at a local yarn store. I haven't been in years since it's difficult to make it fit into a work day but this week I made the effort. It's time I built it into my schedules, also, I received an email about clearance yarn being 70% off.
Mmmmmmmmmmm...... Clearance yarn

Sunday, August 02, 2015


With everything that has been going on I didn't have the brain power to knit complicated projects.

Plain vanilla socks to the rescue.
All these years I've bought into that it takes 100g to knit a pair of sock and if sock yarn come in a 50g ball I buy two.

I've always knit a sock per ball because I wanted to start the second sock with the same color repeat and that seems simpler from a new ball. Also, I didn't want to join my yarn.  Sure, I always had two leftover balls at the end that I put into my sock yarn scraps and then forgot.

My Mom isn't a knitter but she knows how to read, so for Christmas when she bought this pretty sock yarn she carefully gave me two 50g balls of each color. 

This time I was too tired to get the new ball when the first sock was finished so I started the second sock with what I had. I even matched the color repeat.
Shockingly I knit all of the second sock out of that same 50g ball of yarn. And they aren't short socks either but my regular length to right before my calf.
I did it again. And then again for a third time, each pair coming in at less then 50g.

Ok, so this last pair are footies in cotton yarn for summer and doesn't count.

What this means is that each of my leftover bits of sock yarn is actually a whole new set of socks. It's quite the shocking realization.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

A Little Luck

It's been a long time since I posted. I had been in the process of buying a house and two days before closing it was announced the title didn't clear. My lease at the apartment was up so I moved into the house renting month by month.The process wasn't something I wanted to talk about and not mentioning it felt fake, hence the blog silence.

Well, this week I received notice that since the title is now a "Soft clear" that the title company won't allow the sell of the house for six months to a year. I just signed the documents changing my lease to extend until November.

I decided that this house and I needed a little luck. Now where does a person obtain some luck? Where else?
I turned in my points and used the free shipping and this little gift showed up at my door.

hmmmmm. It doesn't look like plants.

Seven pots of four-leaf clover in shades of green, white, burgundy, and red.

This one with pink speckles is especially pretty.

I planted them in the bare dirt outside the back door where nothing grows. I hope that along with their genetically altered luck* they do their nitrogen fixation thing and that area will be mine and ready to grow flowers next year.

*the nursery listing didn't say they were genetically altered, and I can't find much online either, but they have to be, right? University of Georgia found the four-leaf gene next to the one that produces red color in 2010 and 5 years to store shelves sounds about right to me.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Moving Boxes

Tomorrow (today?)I start moving from my apartment into a house. I'm exhausted so I went to bed early. I slept for a little more than an hour and now I'm wide awake and all wound up at 3am. I gave up and got out of bed and packed my last empty boxes.

It is so hard to get boxes. I used to go to Boarders and they would load me up in a trip or two with the awesome book boxes with folding snap lids and handles. Now I have to go to place to place and ask multiple times.

"Do you have any boxes?"
"Sorry we don't have any. Try tomorrow at two."
"Are you sure you don't have any now?"
"They would be broken down."
"I don't mind, will you please look?"
...eye rolls and sighs...

Then they look and they have lots of boxes and they aren't broken down. They ask how many I want. I answer "As many as I can have. All of them." and then they bring me out three. I ask for more and get one more. Oh, and when I come back the next day at two there are still no boxes.

I've started going to the grocery store at 11:30 at night while they are unpacking and practically snatching them out of the stocker's hands. I can get about 10 a night that way. I would think they would be a great time to get lots but still it's hard to get them to let go.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Knitting Bingo

Over on the Stash and Burn group we are playing Use it or Lose it Bingo. The Use it or Lose it is just referencing using the stash. If we destash something and get the yarn out of the house that would be a free wild card.

Before posting March I should show February's projects.

The pattern is Snowhemian.  The yarn is sock yarn scraps held double with my angora handspun from 1999-ish. Hat was knit for Stash and Burn 15 hats in 2015 challenge.The pattern was gifted to me ages ago.

Pattern is Loganberry Cowl that I bought back in the first Gift a Long pattern sale. A single skein of malabrigo Twist and I learned a new way to wrap and turn for short rows with this project. It was knitted for the Doubleknits Wardrobe Architect. 

This is when I started stamping what each project ticked off instead of only the new squares. The finished photo is never going to happen but the ends are woven in and everything. Pattern is Weave and the yarn is Maggie's handspun from the Dresden Files swap box.

Another hat for 15 in 15 also from handspun. I have dubbed 2015 is the year of handspun. Pattern is Citric. I just love Alex Tinsley's hat patterns.

BINGO! a WIP left over from the Ravellenic 2012. Pattern is Flora and the white yarn is Classic Elite Yarns Lush and the green Dream in Color Everlasting DK.

A bit a trend here isn't it? Each and every one of these projects is knit for at least two Knit A Longs. I really enjoy a good KAL and don't mind double dipping. The KAL is a place to talk about themed knitting a 2am and there are all the prizes. Mmmmmm prize yarn. Delicious.

Friday, February 20, 2015


It’s the final installment of this Thank You Trilogy to the EPIC BOX OF EPICNESS

Maggie seemed incredulous that I wanted a rock. I mean, sure, I was being a little facetious when I said that I would be happy with a box of rocks. Inside duck swap joke from years ago… and also true. Last swap I was in was the geology swap. Most fantastical box of rocks EVER. That box of rocks about made me cry just by opening the first card. I love those rocks so much.

 the sealing wax and twine is brilliant
Maggie didn’t make me cry. Instead it’s a fist pump of victory and epicness.

See, with this rock I can reference “Stars and Stones” because it glitters like the stars in the sky or Demonkeep with the crystals parkour or Fool Moon with the pentagram and the stones.

 Harry draws circles not pentagrams for his magic...

...and this stone would be the fulcrum of power

I would say I saved the best for last, except in the EPIC BOX OF EPICNESS- OMG ITS SO EPIC there is not a best…

 The yarn.

Maggie spun it and Karen dyed it!

Everyone knows Maggie and Karen, right? Right!?! Knit 1 Geek 2 podcast? They’re Rock Stars, those two. OMG Maggie and Karen!!! Karen and Maggie!!!

 I started knitting it right away and am almost finished with the mittens. The cable on the backs of the hands are the Ley Lines converging under Chicago and they barely made a dent in the first ball! 

We’re always ready for the end of the trilogy but so sad that there isn’t more. Thankfully, Jim Butcher has said he is writing seven more books so we should have fourteen more years to geek out. I hope that means there will be more swaps to come.

Thank you, Maggie, the box is pure magic. Astonishing, Wonderful, Tremendous Magic. I love it all so much. Thank you.