Sunday, August 29, 2010

Off The Needles

A few things came off the needles this weekend.
My take two baby sweater came together over the weekend. Loving those raglan sleeves!
Confession: I actually knit both of these guys up during Friday's staff development.
This is a terrible picture, right? But, you know what it is. I am feeling a bit nervous about my inventory for the fall/winter, so I will begin my "knit a piece a night" push this week. The kids come back to the classroom this week, so I have a feeling that I will be exhausted on the couch by 5:00pm each night.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Easy? No thank you!

I received an order for a custom baby sweater earlier this week, hooray! I started it on Monday afternoon with some yarn that I had in my stash, she wanted gray or blue, and I had a perfect gray/blue! I love it when that happens! By Tuesday night I had completed the back, two fronts, one sleeve and three quarters of the second sleeve. As I got up to wash dishes, I swear that I looked down and thought, "phew, I am going to have just enough yarn." When I came back and continued knitting, two rows in,
I reached the end of my yarn. I was baffled. Where did the yarn go? After looking around and not seeing it, I got on myhands and knees, I moved the furniture, I dug through three baskets of yarn~nothing. Maddening, right? But no big deal, I will go to Joann's and pick up another skein and finish it up. After spending some time in classroom on Wednesday, I popped over to Joann's and headed to their large display of this particular brand. Things were looking up. I scanned and scanned and scanned for my particular blue/gray. There was green/blue, there was royal blue, and there was gray, but there was no gray/blue. Ok, I'll head to Michael'sit's just around the corner. Nope, none there either. So in the middle of the yarn aisle, I sighed an agit
ated sigh and began to accept that I was going to have to start over. I picked out one skein of a different yarn and was on my way. You read that right? I picked up one skein. Because I clearly did not learn my lesson. I got through the back, two fronts, and one and three quarters of both sleeves and I ran out of yarn. I know, I know~serves me right. After a long day at school today, I headed back to Michael's to grab another skein. Except that this weekend, The Blue Angels are performing so traffic was a bear, just in case I wasn't irritated enough! An hour later, after grabbing the much needed skein, I came outside and saw this:

In exciting news, I want to congratulate Vicki on winning my organic bow-tie scarf. I can't tell you how much I loved reading all of your comments. So many great things to be thankful for that help to beat the back to school blues!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beat the Back to School Blues

Today was my first day back in the classroom. What was the highlight you ask? My new rainbow colored Sharpies. There is just something about a new pack of Sharpies that pleases me. Teachers get very protective of their Sharpies, at least the teachers I know. You use them and then you hide them. You never know who is going to sneak into your classroom after you leave for the day.....
In honor of the Back to School Blues, I think that a give away is in order. A little pick-me-up to get the school year started off on the right foot! So, leave me a comment telling me what's the highlight of beginning the new school year for you? The break from the kids? A fresh pack of paper? Switching from iced coffee to hot? I want to know! On Friday, I will pick a winner at random. What will you win? A robin's egg blue scarflette knit with organic wool! It's soft, cozy, and I hear that it is going to be the hottest trend this fall!

Monday, August 23, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Today is my last day of Summer Vacation. Ironically, it is windy, rainy, and cold outside. Seems even the weather gods are also mourning the end of summer. I had big plans this summer, like cleaning out and organizing the guest room closet. And taking the time to really understand how to use my mother's sewing machine so that I could then sew up some beautiful curtains for said guest room. But alas, I go back to school tomorrowand those things are certainly not getting done today. So, this list will get renamed: Fall-To Do. (Confession: It was originally called Spring: To Do)
Instead I spent the summer at the beach with those I love.

Grew my very first container garden.

Enjoyed the company of old friends and used it as an excuse to eat good, but not good for you food.
Found the perfect spot to watch the fireworks.
Participated in a disastourous first craft fair, got over it and took part in a wonderful farmers market.

And of course, completed loads and loads of knitting.

Please stop in tomorrow, I think that back-to-school calls for a pick-me-up, don't you? How about a give-away?!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Vineyard

In addition to a degree in theatre (that I don't actually use in my real life), I also graduated from college with a wonderful group of guy friends. To be honest, I didn't expect our friendship to very long-they are boys after all. Right after graduation, they all moved to New York and I stayed in Boston. But, a couple of years later when I finally packed up and moved to Brooklyn, they were there waiting for me. I lived in an apartment with four of them for a summer and quickly realized that these were going to be lifelong friends. Since that time, most of us have left the city and many of them have gotten married, but we still manage to squeak out some time together. Usually it's in small groups of three or four with an occasional wedding thrown in, but last weekend a large (but not complete) group of us met up on Martha's Vineyard. I could only manage to squeeze 36 hours of Vineyard time into my schedule, but I was able to make the most of my time there.

Of course there were games. These boys love games. Games that involve frisbees, bocce balls, wiffle balls, bean bags, uno cards, chess pieces. Every game imaginable. I am not a game player, I prefer to watch and take pictures.

My friend Dan's wife orchestrated an amazing meal that included some of the most amazing appetizers. Martha Stewart and Ina Garten have some serious competition in Stacey. That coupled with some vodka infused with cucumber or blueberry cocktails, ahhhmazing.

These donuts. I can't stop thinking about these donuts. Some time after dinner a couple of the boys hopped on their bikes and headed into town. A few minutes later, they showed up with three bags of warm goodness. Goodness isn't even the right word, they were better than good. It took some serious self-restraint to keep myself from devouring all of them. There is a bakery in town that makes donuts and apple fritters at night and sells them right from the fryer and out of their back door. Isn't that awesome? Don't you wish they lived next door to you?

One of the boys bought Sky Lanterns. Have you ever seen these? They are so beautiful. You light them and they just float up into the night sky. It's almost magical. Plus, for some reason, I love the photo of the three of them working together to get it lit. I was sad to leave, it was a bit too short of a visit, but I do feel like a squeezed a lot into a little amount of time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I was off the gird for a couple of days while I took a trip down to Martha's Vineyard with some friends from college. Before I left, I participated in a Farmer's Market a couple of towns over. I found out about it via Twitter. There is a really great network of local farmers and farmers markets that communicate with and for each other via all sorts of social networking sites. I love that about living on the Seacoast. Plus, I get a mental picture of an old-man farmer on his iPhone typing with one finger, cute, right?

Back to Sunday's farmer's market. It was a blast and the weather was perfect- no rain this time!
Everyone was so incredibly nice and kind; the customers, the famers, and the market manager. It's a smallish market and they are trying to increase traffic by hosting different events every now and again. I really enjoy the farmer's market as a venue. It is obviously less saturated than a craft fair and the personalities that come through are very easy going and helpful. I met a number of folks and was able to engage in some chit-chat with many of them. I even made a few sales, but better than that, I feel like I made some good contacts. It's hard to get your name and your products out there. It's a slow and steady process, but every step seems to be a step in the right direction. I left for the Vineyard feeling pleased with how it went and thinking up new ways in which to continue to get my items out there.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I am trying to avoid the grocery store. For a couple of reasons. One of which is that lately I seem to be making impulse buys while I am there. Which is really not a good thing. The other is that I am currently going through a bit of a food crisis. I've recently finished reading Jonathan Safron Foer's book, Eating Animals and it really struck me. There wasn't any new information in it, much of it I had seen in Michel Moore's documentary and in Food,Inc, and in the movie about eating endless amounts of McDonalds. But reading about it, in black and white, at this time in my life really resonated with me. Since leaving Brooklyn, I live in a much slower world. A world where I have time to make bread and cheese and maple syrup from scratch. And I live in a place where there are multiple farms within five miles of my home and farmers markets that occur almost every day of the week. All of this time should allow me the ability to make better choices. While I am sorting this all out in my head, I am avoiding the grocery store like the plague, which allows me to avoid making concrete decisions. (AKA-procrastination) Last night I opened up my pantry doors to find very little to actually eat for dinner, but I managed to pull together a can of tomatoes and some cheese and some flour to make a pizza. While I flounder about where I should be getting my food from, I am thinking that I will consume homemade pizza three times a day.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Crafting Genes

I started knitting about ten years ago. I needed to. My boyfriend of five years had dumped me, my mother had passed away, I didn't have a clue what I was going to do with my life, I was broke and most of all, I was desperate. Knitting seemed the most logical hobby for me to take up. It wouldn't cost me any money and it would allow me to continue sitting on my couch feeling sorry for myself while being somewhat productive. How was the expensive, money draining hobby of knitting free you ask?

You see, my mother was a crafter. She was much worse than I was. Not only an amazing knitter, she was also a cross stitcher, a dress maker, a wreath creator, a cook, and an interior designer. So on a post break-up trip to my father's house, I snuck away with some yellow yarn and a few sets of needles. Once I arrived back to my Boston cocoon, I fired up the ole desktop computer and dialed-up the interweb and searched for knitting instructions. I imitated what I saw in the images and tried to make sense of this new language. What resulted was a wonky and holey rectangle that I proudly sewed up into a purse. Despite the fact it was hard and I was impossibly terrible at it, I stuck with it. My ex-boyfriend got a ginormous hat that looked ridiculous and my siblings got huge mittens that looked more like oven mitts. To me it didn't matter, it was the one thing that took my mind off everything. And I have my mother to thank.

I would not have become a knitter if my mother hadn't passed away. I also would not have become a teacher. It was more important that I become my own person and do my own thing than it was for me to get out of my own way and do what I loved. If she were alive, I wouldn't have been able to swallow my pride and accept what she (and countless others) had told me all along.

While I was at my dad's house this weekend, we continued on the sorting and clearing journey of my childhood home. This time, my goal was wrapping paper (that is a whole other story), but it grew in to other miscellaneous items in that area of the attic. I came across some of my mom's unfinished cross stitch templates. They are amazing, something that I could never imagine having the desire nor the patience to even consider doing. I grew up with many of them framed throughout our house, but never paid them any mind. Now that I am an adult and a crafter, I have a much better realization of what they entailed. They are intricate and detailed and painstakingly beautiful. And they are a prefect reminder of the bridge that my mother and I continue to share.

Post Edit: It turns out that the Clown Bear cross stitch was completed by my sister with a little help from my mom, she clearly has more patience than I ever will!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Old Neighborhood

I'm visiting my dad this weekend, a very common trip for me. It's only a couple of hours away and although I hate the drive, it is always worth the trip. Given various circumstances that made up my childhood, my dad was my primary caregiver from adolescence on. My mom was also a caregiver during those years, but I really looked to (and still do) my dad for day-to-day issues along with any significant dramas that came up. He's a quiet man who requires very little which is both a blessing and curse. Most times I hate that I can't read his mind in order to meet whatever small needs
he may have. But when he does open up and reveal something about himself, it feels especially meaningful.

Today we went out for lunch in the city he grew up in. My dad has always been a fan of taking the long way to our destinations. As I teenager I hated it, as an adult, I find myself doing it too. We took the long way to the restaurant through his old neighborhood, a common route. He grew up in a three family house filled with siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles. His childhood experience was so different from
how he raised his children. For us, it was just the three of us kids, each in our own room, in a large colonial house. So, the stories that he tells about his childhood always fascinate me. In addition to all of the family that lived in this house, there were a number of aunts, uncles, and cousins who lived down the block and around the corner. It's fun to imagine this huge (and I am not exaggerating here) clan of Irish immigrants and their broods of children running up and down the blocks of this urban neighborhood.

We took a long, slow drive today and I had a chance to hop out on a couple of occasions to take some
pictures. He, of course, thought that was really strange, but I think that my interest prompted him to share a little more than he usually does. Days like these are becoming more and more the reason I come home so frequently.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Scoop

This summer, the mint I planted with my students grew like crazy in my container garden. It was a bit hard to contain, so I ended up clipping a bit of it and replanting it in another container. It is amazing how fast mint grows! But what does one do with all of this mint? I mean, aside from decorating cocktails with it.

Make mint chocolate ice cream of course! I have vague memories of making ice cream as a kid, but back them we had an ice cream making. I don't have one of those. So, I did some research on the internet and found a none ice-cream-maker-recipe. And aside from the fact that it took lots of time, it was easy peasy.
After infusing the mint into the milk and the cream and mixing in the egg yolks I let it cool and placed it in the fridge for the night where it became a custard mixture. It smelled amazing. Last night, I stuck it in the freezer. Every couple of hours, I would take it out, stir it up to break up the ice crystals and put it back in. Early on, I stirred in some hot fudge. I think that I was hoping it would solidify and become perfect chips. I was wrong. Instead, I got chocolate ribbons. But hey, chocolate is chocolate, right?!

This morning, I gave it one last stir and took a taste. The texture is great, the chocolate is great, the actual taste....well? It's very pepperminty. Too pepperminty. I know I need to give it a chance, that homemade ice cream isn't going to taste like store bought ice cream, but I wish that there were some way for me to tone it down. Any suggestions from those of you who have made this before???

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Where I'm At

I know I've been quiet the last couple of days and I'm sorry about that. Just haven't had much to say. I didn't plan to write tonight either, but then I came across this posting. And I felt like I wrote it, because that is exactly where I am at. Are you feeling this way too? Is it just us? Better yet, if you are not feeling bored, what is inspiring you these days??

"...the number one reason knitters knit is because they are so smart that they need knitting to make boring things interesting. Knitters are so compellingly clever that they simply can't tolerate boredom. It takes more to engage and entertain this kind of human, and they need an outlet or they get into trouble."
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Thank you Molly for making me feel less alone in my boredom!

(On a side note, I am featured in two lovely treasuries right now and would love, love, love your support in checking them out! )