Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Highlights of September

September has seemed busy in that fun-can't-fit-everything-in way. Some of the highlights for me are:
  • Starting my first quilt ever. I'm (luckily) using my stepsister as my quilting mentor as she has done a ton over the years and is only a phone call or email away.
  • Venturing back into jewelry making, including a number of Christmas or birthday gifts. I forgot how much I love working with wire.
  • Finished a Christmas gift for a friend. See the kitty at right.
  • Signed up for a yarn dyeing class. I might have to miss it for a training but hopefully not!
  • Got the new printer with a scanner. I'm finally moving ahead technologically!
  • Started the wrap sweater. I'm about 45% done. Must get back to my knitting!
  • Cooked and baked more than normal.
  • Went apple picking!
  • Had a group of friends over for a little party.
  • Focused more on the beauty that is around me. I have a love affair with trees. They are so lovely with their twisting branches and green, waving leaves.
  • I have taken Rosy for longer walks. (BTW, fall is her favorite because she loves chasing and "attacking" the leaves. It's a true giggle fest for me.)
  • I think my artistic eye for photographs is growing as I take more photos than before. I hope I can keep growing that!
What a happy month!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Save that Sweater (and other ramblings...)


I'm home from work today. I was a little sore after a fall yesterday. Let's just say I shouldn't work out when I'm feeling tired because the treadmill is going to win. Luckily, after a pain pill, a heating pad, some sleep and a bit of yoga stretching, I am feeling better!

As such I have been able to do some work on the quilt today. Each strip is now pieced together. Two of them are joined together.... four more to go. It is looking good... perfectly lap sized for my mom! I'm getting pretty excited and seriously hope I can wait until Christmas to give it to her.

Over the weekend, I added this ribbon accent to the top of one of my favorite cardigans. It is a little Target cashmere number that was fraying at the collar. The ribbon now hides all of the fraying section and it is again like new. I chose a black ribbon because it would keep the cardigan as a neutral, making it a good piece in my closet. (I also realized recently I don't have nearly as many cardigans as I thought and am in need of more....but I digress.)

When I picked up the ribbon for the cardigan, I got a quarter of a yard of this fabric. I have no idea what I'm going to do with but must find something before Election Day. If you have any fun ideas, send them my way...

It's also getting a little cooler here this week, which is nice. When it was hot and humid over the weekend, I couldn't bring myself to work on the It's a Wrap sweater too much. The thought of wool on my lap was just not appealing.... cooler weather means more knitting!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Let Me Eat Cake!

The apple cake is delicious! I love making food with just picked produce. I used this recipe, and substituted the pears with apples. I wish I could share some with all of you, as it is definitely too much cake for me.

Today has been just a wonderfully productive day. I did laundry, worked on the quilt, worked on a knit gift for my friend for Christmas, worked on my It's a Wrap sweater, baked and cooked an easy dinner (that will also feed me four more times). I feel full of domestic bliss!

Misty Day at the Apple Orchard

Yesterday, I went apple picking with my friend Katie. There is an orchard not too far from me that is very family friendly - corn maze, playground, cider press, etc. It was kind of rainy but tons of fun. We didn't pick a ton of apples; just enough for Katie and me to split.Today, I plan to make apple cake with some of them.
I also picked up a small pumpkin, which is now sitting on the window sill yelling "Welcome fall!!" Some cider and an apple cider doughnut rounded out our time at Snipes Farm.













Today, I'm planning on making some apple cake. I love fall!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I May Never Eat at my Kitchen Table Again


I'm so excited!! All of the quilt squares are cut out and I laid out a potential pattern (minus a couple of rows) this morning. I'm loving the color combination even more than I thought I would and it will be prefect in my mom's living room. I think I will end up having extra squares but I'm not too worried. The way I'm feeling right now, this quilting thing

could become addicting. So later today or tomorrow morning, I plan to schlep out the sewing machine and hopefully start piecing things together. Woohoo!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Poor Neglected Bananas

I discovered I have been rather remiss in eating my bananas lately. Today, two very speckled ones greeted me when I walked into the kitchen. I stuck them in the fridge, hoping that I could make banana bread in the next two days. Luckily, I got home early enough to do it tonight! So, this delicious loaf of goodness is just waiting to be devoured. The recipe is my old standby, from my elementary school's cookbook. This sucker dates back to 1981 when I was in first grade. There is even a little tribute inside to my kindergarten teacher, who passed away when I was her student.

Anywho, the banana bread is delicious and requires so few ingredients - and stuff you typically have around the house. Here's the recipe if anyone is interested:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup crushed ripe bananas
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • chocolate chips
Cream together the sugar and margarine. Add rest of ingredients and stir until well mixed. Pour batter into well greased and floured pan (9x5x3 inches). Bake about 50-55 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven. Remove from pan after cooling about 10 minutes. Finish cooling on the wire rack.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Knitiversary Contest!

I decided to hold a contest to celebrate my one year knitiversary. Within one year, I have become kind of (kind of, there really is no kind of!) obsessed with knitting. Also, within that year I have determined I can be a fairly decent seamstress. The jewelry making, while still a love, has taken a backseat as of lately. (Beads aren't quite yarn in my little world.)



So, what are the prizes you ask? Well, lemme tell you fine friends…. You can win a $10 gift card to Joann’s Fabric, this lovely little pair of earrings I made or three skeins of Cotton Classic in pink. In your post, rank your order of selection.

What do you need to do? Well, not much. Leave me a comment and the address to a great blog you read. Tell me why you like it. Simple, no?

The details: the contest will be open until my knitiversary on October 2nd. A random number generator will select all winners. International comments are welcomed. ETA: One entry per person and be sure to check back here on October 3rd for the winners!

I’m looking forward to reading your comments!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Flower Power in the Dining Room (if only!)

How great is this chandelier? I love the flowers and can just imagine the pretty dining room it would be at home in. Not only could I not find something like it but I have no place for it in my apartment. So I just love from afar....

My knitting has been rather lacking lately. I have been so busy at work and come home not willing to do anything other than walk the dog and hang out on the couch. I'm hoping tomorrow night will give me time and motivation to get back to the It's a Wrap.

I have managed to cut out a few quilt squares. I started with the purple fabric because it was one of the few that didn't need to be ironed. I'm hoping to cut out a bunch more between now and Sunday. Then, hopefully all of Sunday can be devoted to figuring out a good pattern!

I'm off to partake of some quality couch time.... look for a contest post in the next couple of days.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Last night was the Emmy's right?

Thank you to Jane at workthatwardrobe for giving me the I Love Your Blog Award which I now pass on in true blog award style. Before I get to that, I want to say Jane's blog has helped me to think about how to wear things slightly differently and to play with fashion a little more. Thanks for the inspiration!

So here are another four of my favorites:

Leah at Knitting Giraffe for her inspiring look on life and WIPs, her love of learning, the lessons on magic loop, and love of her faith. She's a very good person, something you can definitely sense when reading her blog.

Rose and Kristina over at Yarned Forces are wonderful. Their blog is relatively new but quite fantastic. Rose has a great eye for taking photos (You'll note, Kristina's is pretty darn good too!) and a fun take on the craft of knitting. As soon as I saw this blog, I added it to my Reader.

Madalyn at Unravel Me. She has an excellent, positive outlook on life and knitting. There are lots of lovely yarn photos (who doesn't like that?). And, she is the type of person who is willing to step up and make a difference in her world.

Carlita at Purly Victorious. I love how honest she is, willing to put ideas, viewpoints and concepts out there. She's also super crafty with loads of talent. I find her equal parts challenging and inspiring.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Dog Has a Political Debate

Yesterday, we had a little debate in my apartment. Obama and Bush lied face to face (No, I am not calling either of them liars....you can if you want, just don't do it here). Seriously, the dog put them both out face to face - I just moved them closer for the photo. Rosy does seem to love chewing on one of them more than the other.... but I'm not telling which one. You can probably tell which one is more beat up....

I went up to Rutgers University today to facilitate a workshop. It's only about an hour and 15 minute drive from my apartment. The workshop went well - great conversation and wonderful women. The drive back was beautiful, as the sun was setting. I got this picture when traveling over the bridge back into PA. It was a nice little day trip. (She was a day tripper, a sunday driver yea, Took me so long to find out, and i found out....ahh, The Beatles)

No crafting today since I headed to Jersey at 10 AM. Happy Sunday folks!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Officially on the Road to my First Quilt

I am officially closer to starting my first quilt! I bought a bunch of fat quarters today at JoAnn's. Between these and some of the blue fabric I already have in my stash, I should be able to fashion together a nice little lap sized quilt for my mom's Christmas gift. Her living room has some great blues in it and is kind of earthy so I think these will go nicely. I also got the purples for a little pop. I bought the batting and a blue fabric for the back. So, I'm all set to start this project (once I figure out what pattern I'm going to be doing). I'm kind of excited and a wee bit nervous.

I also picked up buttons for my mom's Christmas February Lady's Sweater. I have that gorgeous, soft forest green yarn. The brown buttons should compliment it perfectly!

And, the pattern on the left jumped right into my basket. I think it saw me looking at some lovely eggplant colored fabric and just knew I needed a new fall dress. I'm thinking the v neck version in eggplant with a red belt and black sweater will be fantastic. I need some fall dresses as my closet was feeling rather empty this week. The fabric is in the wash already so sewing can commence this week.

Lastly, I have to share this picture of my delightful little dog. She has been so adorable lately (okay, she always is and I'm being totally objective....). I just love her shaggy, I-need-a-haircut face! Isn't she just the cutest?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms

So, I inherited a brand new printer/copier/ scanner today. Woohoo for new toys!! A toy that will be useful in blogging. A toy that gives me the opportunity to get old photos on my computer (and potentially embarrass others and myself with our less than stylish past). So, big excitement in my house!

Anywho, so I wrote about that book I got from the used bookstore on campus, Shabby Chic. Well, I just keep loving this book more and more. This photo at left is a desk I just absolutely adore! Really, I love the whole room - shelves, desk, vase, everything! I feel like it inspires my nesting side and helps me to think of new ways to make my home more comfy, creative and pretty.

I love this little saying on humility, also found in the book. I love the writing underneath - "What I inspire to." It truly does reflect my day today. "To be at rest when no one praises me." I just so identify with that line. I continue to remind myself that an item or program is not great because someone says great things about it, but because of how much of myself I committed to it.

The It's A Wrap is about 1/3 done. Last night I had no knitting time since I worked until about 9:30. (Great student run event. Much fun!) I am really hoping to move the sleeve stitches to scrap yarn tonight!

I totally creeped out one of my students last night when she was wearing a similar sweater. I walked up to this young woman, unknown to me (although I did know those she was with), and asked if I could see her sweater because I was working on something similar. Poor thing didn't know how to react. She truly had a great little sweater though!

Oh, and I'm thinking about teaching a non-credit class at work, "Intro to Knitting." I am hoping to have a student co-teach with me. It would be four weeks but could be a boatload of fun for me. I find I am so much better at everything in my life when I'm involved in teaching something to others. More to come!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Clouds, Cookies and Quality Time

This morning, as I putzed around before going to work, I just so happened to take a second to look out my apartment window. This is the view that greeted me. The blue of the sky, green of the trees and white clouds just made me smile. How can you help but be content when the beauty of the world is all around you?

And, if that doesn't do it, these do. The brownies and macaroons were left over from my little Silpada party on Sunday. I had a nice little spread of cheeses, fruit salad, veggies and dip and these treats. I made some friends take brownies home with them and still had a few left. The macaroons are my favorite, as they are really the easiest recipe ever. In case anyone is interested, I got it from cooks.com and it is:

1 1/3 cup flaked coconut
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1.8 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp almond extract

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir in unbeaten egg whites and almond extract. Mis well. Drop in small teaspoons on greased cookie tray. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove from trays at once. Delish!

Anywho, I've been making definite progress on the It's a Wrap sweater. For the past week, I had very little knitting time. It was beginning to stress me out. Luckily, Sunday and Monday nights lent themselves to some quality time with the needles. I should have about a third of it done by the end of tonight. And, I'm feeling much more relaxed....

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Joy of Mistakes

I had this art teacher in elementary school named Mr. Giles. He once told us that every artistic mistake can be fixed, you just be creative. I've carried that with me through all of my creative pursuits including curriculum writing, cooking, jewelry making, sewing and of course my knitting. I try to remember each dropped stitch or other mistake offers me an opportunity to use my creative brain. Because that advice from Mr. Giles was right. Everything can be fixed if you think outside the box and put on your creative hat. My mistakes have increased my creativity and allowed me to be a better person.

I have been thinking about mistakes a lot lately, as I think I've taken on too much in the volunteer roles I have. I've known that cutting back was needed in order to feel successful. And, so I try. I'm trying to refocus my life around the things that are important to me right now. I feel good about that refocusing. And, I know I will be successful. Because those mistakes have allowed me brain to think in different ways. And, I'm better for it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow!

What a wonderful day! I had a productive and busy day at work. During lunch time, I had time to run across the street to the used bookstore and sell them a nice pile of books. In exchange for my previously loved books, I was able to get Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic: Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide. I love books that encourage flea market finds and little decorating ideas. I flipped right through it and there are so many little things I love. I absolutely love this little chest on the right hand side. And, this table swan is fantastic.... I'd be so happy if I found one to sit witness to my delicious dinners. Oh, the ideas are going to flow out of that little resource. And, it was free to me. Woohoo! I'm sure you all will see a lot more of those gorgeous little pages over the next couple of weeks!

I came home and started working on the Little Orphan Annie dress. The event I was making it is for is tomorrow morning. It's finished and I'm sort of happy. I think the dress should be made in the smaller size (guess that is kind of a nice thing) as it seems kind of big for me.... something to note if I make the pattern again.

I even Swiffered up all of the stray threads from the kitchen floor already. The sewing machine is packed away in preparation for the Sunday jewelry shindig.

And, now I'm off to knit.... what a fabulous Friday!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

When Dust Bunnies Mate

YAY for getting home at a reasonable time. It makes getting my craft on so much easier! I was able to finish the body of the Little Orphan Annie dress. I started working on the sleeves. When I got to the gathering, the bobbin ran out of thread. The only steps left are sleeve gathering and attaching and then hemming. Since I was getting to that point where my bottom was saying "Soft seat Stacy..a soft seat please," I decided to take the lack of thread as a sign to move elsewhere.

So abandoning the sewing machine for a bit, I contemplating knitting the It's a Wrap before determining perhaps I should give the Swiffer a bit of a workout. See, the thing is I'm having a bunch of people over on Sunday for a little Silpada jewelry party. I have to work tomorrow and then again Saturday morning. Then, I need to make a trip to my favorite grocery store in the whole world and stock up on fan-tab-u-lous treats for Sunday (I'm thinking the super easy macaroons, cheese and crackers and a fruit tray.... and maybe make the cherry cake mix I have). Then my super wonderful friend Laurel is coming for Saturday night. So, the cleaning of the home needs to be done sooner rather than Sunday morning. Clean away I did. Rosy of course determined she could help by rolling around like a crazy dog on the carpet and dropping toys right in the path of the Swiffer - sweet, huh?

With a cleaner home and a dress mostly done, I'm chilling on my couch and thinking about where I shall hide my many skeins of yarn come Sunday....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Happy times...

I just got home from a good day at work. I get a lot of my work energy from face to face meetings, which I had a bunch of today. They always make my day so much happier (well, at least the positive meetings!). Then I started reading all of the blogs in my feed and found out that Leah awarded me a blog blue ribbon! I mean really, can my day get better? (Well, I guess someone could also show up with a big check but I hear Ed McMahon is keeping those to cover his mortgage.) I'm so honored. Leah's got a rocking little blog with lots of fun knitting, spinning, giraffe love and life updates. She's been fantastic about helping me find great patterns for my sweater obsessions. I appreciate her commitment to her faith and her compassionate heart. And she's a good friend, as this post and others show.
So, the rules are:

1. Put the award on your blog. (check)

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you and say something nice about them. (See above for my love!)

3. Name at least 4 fellow bloggers for this award.

4. Add links for the recipients.

5. Leave a comment to let the recipients know they have received the award.

Choosing my four recipients was hard because I love so many blogs. You all offer so many wonderful little tidbits about life, knitting, fashion and other fantastic things. So my four would be....

Work That Wardrobe (because I love the challenge you issued to yourself and your unique way of putting things together)
Aforementioned Thoughts (because I love your new e-magazine and you have such a great crafty eye)
Tangled Up in Sticks and String (because you were a cute kiddo ;-) and I love your perspective on things)
Knit Geekery (because you have good taste in yarn and a great heart)

Thanks for being the people you are and sharing yourself with so many!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

When I start making my shoes, seek help!

I got dressed this morning and realized as I was about to leave the house that a good chunk of what I was wearing was made by my own hands. When I realized that, I felt accomplished and put together. Anywho, here is my outfit today... I tend to gravitate towards the pink and green combo. Every time I wear this dress, I get compliments even though it was the first dress I made. Such a good feeling!

I have no real news on knitting or sewing fronts. (Okay, isn't that a funny image when you put in in context of how "fronts" is typically used. As if the knitters were threatening to poke the sewers eyes out with needles. And the sewers threaten to make the knitters a super ugly garment! Yep, my brain is all over the place today.) I was out of town Sunday and yesterday, which left me with no time to do either activity. Both Tuesday and Wednesday are late nights at work. So, this Thursday and Friday I'm going to have to work big time on the Little Orphan Annie dress so it is ready for Saturday. And, hopefully a little It's a Wrap is in my future!

I did manage to get some great photos in New York on Sunday during my drive. September is such a beautiful time of year for long drives. Between the drive and this blog post, I've been thinking about going apple picking. I'm hoping I can twist my friend's arm into going with me. Apple crisp, Waldorf salad and all of those other apple-y delights are calling my name. Oh, and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are already just asking to be made.... Yep, it's fall!

I've been missing my creative outlets what with all of the other things going on. I really need to get back to the bead store and check out the options for new fall jewels. I need to cast on the February Lady Sweater for my mom's Christmas gift. I need to find an outstanding 35th birthday gift for my friend Katie (Jewelry? Knitted object?). Ahh, the challenges of finding time for all of my loves....

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Rain, Rain Go Away....

Tropical storm Hanna decided to grace Philly with her presence. As such, very little of my time was spent outside today. Rosy wasn't even interested in going for a walk this afternoon - and that is a first! I got up this morning and knit for a while. Then I got bored and switched to sewing the Little Orphan Annie dress. Then I knit some more. (And, you can probably guess what comes next...) Aside from the side trip to lunch with a friend and a stop at the grocery store, that is pretty much all I did.

The dress is half done. The front skirt needs to be gathered and attached. And, then the sleeves need to be attached and the bottom needs to be hemmed. I should definitely be done with it by next Saturday. It's a Wrap sweater is also coming along. I'm probably about 10 inches in. My plans for the evening involve a little more time with this project.

Tomorrow I have a road trip to make.... be back on Monday!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Yum!!

Yeah, that knit, knit, knit post.... I haven't managed to accomplish that yet. I've been cutting out the Little Orphan Annie Dress and baking this berry cobbler after being inspired by this blog post. I had some frozen berries with lots of frost on them. What better way to use them than turning them into a delicious cobbler?

It's kind of a hodge podge of ingredients.... no specific recipe used. (So who knows, it might taste yucky when I eat it later... but I doubt it!) I guess I should start knitting now!

Knitting Weekend

Seriously, my plans for tonight involve knitting and knitting and knitting. I plan to watch TV (yay for no more political conventions!) and work on It's A Wrap. Tomorrow, more of the same with a little DSW trip (perhaps) thrown in for good measure.

Well, I also fell in love with these cute little bag from Ann Taylor Loft in red today (there is a store on campus - talk about torture). My goal is to NOT go buy it, even if I do have a 20% off coupon. I think I need a tape with subliminal messages though...

So, sweater knitting and shoes and purses (or no purses?) are my weekend plans.... good times!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Joy of the Cast On

I started the wrap sweater. (A huge thanks to Leah for pointing out the pattern on Ravelry!) It's one of those cast ons that you just get excited about... knowing that you're going to like the final product and wanting to get there as much as you want the process to take a while so you can enjoy it. So very fun....off to knit my little heart out.

But before I go, I wanted to share this photo. I took this of my little love Rosy today. She is by far the sweetest little dog. I could probably make money cloning her, she's that sweet. Anywho, she was yawning but it looks like she is being all mean. It makes me smile!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Happiness is.... new yarn

I've been a little anti-crafty lately. Not that I've avoided doing things, but haven't had the time. I was up in Easton, PA for part of the weekend helping a colleague with a program she was running. It was fun to visit and stay up late helping her. No knitting or sewing got done however. Monday I was home but only got about six rows of knitting done on the Anything But Basic Black sweater. A friend came over in the afternoon and we went for a short hike and then ate dinner. No additional knitting was accomplished last night as I got totally sucked into 90210. (Yep, I'm kind of loving it... cheesiness and all.) Tonight, hopefully some knitting while watching the Republican shindig. However, the true highlight of my day is this:
I went and made my major purchase at The Tangled Web today. I bought 14 skeins - $107 worth - for $86 with my 20% off coupon!! The green is for my mom's Christmas present (February Lady Sweater) and the black is for my wrap sweater! I paid for the wrap sweater pattern and today the transaction finally went through so the pattern should arrive soooooooooon. I can't wait to cast on.... because what I need of course is two sweaters on the needles at one time.

I also need to get cracking on that red dress. The function I need it for is the 13th of this month. Part of it is cut out. I just need to cut out the other pieces and start sewing. I know once I do that, it will just go together. Just need to jump the hurdle of cutting everything out....

Oh, and the Anything But Basic Black sweater is made with yarn I got at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this spring. It's from Koenig Farm Spinnery in Kentucky and is a lovely kid mohair blend. What I love is that a skein is 425 yards!