Knitting on my commute

I'm lucky to have a short 15-minute commute on the bus every day, and I love having those 15 minutes before arriving at work to organize my thoughts about what I need to accomplish that day. Keeping my hands busy really helps me to think and relax, so I've been working on this little treasure vest for the Monkey on my commute (and while watching movies with Mikey, too...).

I'm really excited about how its turning out and cannot wait to finish it. It's my first garment, other than hats, knit in the round and so far so good. Of course, I haven't gotten to the shaping of the neck, so I may be moaning in a few days when I get there!

It feels a little funny working on fall clothes for the Monkey when Summer feels like it just arrived to our corner of the world. And especially when we find ourselves doing a lot of this in the evenings:

Hope you're enjoying your summer. Got any projects you take with you on the road?


Summertime Ritual

This week has been one of changes and new routines for us, and one of the things that we have been wanting to implement is taking an after-dinner walk as a family. For the longest time, we just couldn't get our act together to go for a leisurely walk around the neighborhood together. Maybe it was because the Monkey wanted to be carried rather than wanting to walk. Maybe it was because it was a little gray and cool all the way through June. Or maybe it was just because we weren't trying hard enough. Whatever the reason, we hadn't gotten around to it. Until this week.

The Monkey loves (and I mean LOVES) popsicles. I made the mistake a few weeks ago of letting him eat one in the living room, and there were sticky red popsicle drips everywhere. It seemed that I kept finding sticky popsicle puddles on every single surface of our living room for days. So earlier this week, when the Monkey asked for a popsicle as we cleaned the kitchen after dinner, it dawned on me: this would be the way to get my family outside and walking every night after dinner. A new ritual, something that can become a part of our summer evenings.

And, just like that, a new ritual has been born. Almost every night this week, after dinner dishes are loaded in the dishwasher, we put on our shoes and a bib for the Monkey. We each choose our favorite color popsicle, and off we go. It's a leisurely walk, stopping often to admire the flowers, chat with neighbors, point out trucks, and pet dogs. We're getting to meet neighbors we didn't know before and laughing an awful lot. As an added bonus, the Monkey is tuckered out and ready for his bedtime routine by the time we make it back home.

Yay for new rituals!



checking out the plums in our backyard

This week has marked the beginning of a new stage in our little family. After 2 years of being a stay-at-home Mom, I am going back to working outside of the home. I've been looking for a job for so long now and with such little luck, that I was caught by surprise when I got the email. It's really an exciting project and I'm so grateful to have a job, especially because I know there are so many out there still searching.

Still, I'm finding myself a little weepy at the thought of having that wonderful Mama-baby time be over. We hadn't initially planned for me to be home with Monkey for his first 2 years, but I'd be lying if I said they weren't the most magical years of my life. It was a blessing and a joy to get to spend every day caring for him.

This first week at work has been slow, as they prepare for me and my position, which has allowed me to ease back into it. This, too, is wonderful as we all adjust and get used to our new routines. I had been afraid it would be very difficult for the Monkey to adjust, but I think it's been a little harder for me. I'm finding that I need a few more hugs and cuddles from my boy, and, luckily, he's always willing to give his Mama all the loving she needs.


Getting organized (or trying to)

I've been a scrapbooker and card maker for the past 10 years. For the most part, I've done a pretty good job keeping my supplies organized, but my pictures... well, that's a completely different story.

I used to be really good about keeping my photos organized back when all I used was film. It was easy, really. I would just label the photo holders I got back from the developer with month, year, and any major events included in that roll of film. Now that I've gone 100% digital, I'm having a heck of a time keeping my pictures under control. And since the Monkey was born, things have only gone downhill.

I've been re-reading Stacy Julian's book Photo Freedom lately and am using her photo drawers idea to organize my piles and piles of photos. Basically, rather than keeping photos organized chronologically (or not organized at all, if you're me!!), you instead put them into different categories. The idea is that having these photos in categories helps you to make connections you might otherwise not make, helping to make your scrapbooking more meaningful. For me, I'm less interested in making my scrapbooking more meaningful, and more interested in getting the piles of photos and photo envelopes off my dresser and into a permanent home.

I decided to start with the Monkey's 2009-2010 photos, and it's going really smoothly. I've already encountered a few photos that I have no idea what category to put under; but I guess they're my categories so I can always add more. I'm hoping to get all of the Monkey's photos into my new system this summer. After all, the bulk of the new photos being developed are of him (or him plus a family member or friend), so having an organization system in place will help to keep things under control. I hope...


One berry, two berries, pick me a blueberry!

If you have kids, you might recognize the title of this post as the first few lines of the bookJamberry by Bruce Degen. It's always been a favorite around here, but in the past week we've been chanting it quite a bit.
That's because, like the characters of the book, we went to pick berries this week. Twice. That's how much we enjoyed it. It's been a cold Spring and early Summer around here, so we had a difficult time finding a farm that had ripe berries to pick. A little internet search and a short drive later, and we arrived at Bryant Blueberry Farm. We really can't recommend this place enough. If you've got young children with short attention spans, this is the place to go. It's clean, it's small, and they've got a ton of blueberry bushes (though only 11 rows were ready for picking, and even then you really had to pay attention to which blueberries were making their way into your bucket. Or mouth.)

The Monkey had a really fantastic time, visiting the goats, playing in the sandbox and swings, and especially helping pick blueberries. Of course, for every one berry he put in the bucket, two went in his mouth, but that's ok. He's been talking about how much fun he had berry picking all week long.

We came home with 4 pounds on the first visit, and 5 pounds on our second visit. We eat lots and lots of blueberries around here, but even we can't go through all those berries on our own. I've frozen a few batches to make sure we have berries for pancakes later in the year, and I'm trying to bake up a few blueberry treats, too.

I tried my hand at blueberry muffins (from an old Cooking Light book), and though they were tasty, they were just OK. However, I just saw Amy posted this blueberry muffin recipe, so I might have to try my hand at those today. I'll let you know how those turn out...


New Pillow

For the last year, we've been planning to move back East to be closer to family, but of course the economy didn't cooperate and so here we are for another year. Not the worst place to be, if you ask me.

Still, the last year I haven't bothered much with decorating our home, thinking this was just temporary and I could focus on decorating our new home wherever we ended up. Well, if this year has taught me anything, it's not to put life on hold because you never know what's going to happen. And so, I've decided it's about time I put some effort into making our home look the way I've been envisioning it.

My first project: new pillows for the couch. We've got this brown (amazingly comfy) couch in a dark-ish room, and it just needed something to brighten it up. After buying a red chair for the room, I figured why not cover the pillows and use red and aqua as the colors?

Here's my first pillow, using the string quilt technique I'm suing for my WIP. I used 9.5" squares, with a variety of fabrics in my stash. I challenged myself to do this with what I already owned, and am pretty happy with how it turned out. I have one more pillow to cover, and am wondering: should I make the two pillows the same? Or try a new layout using the same fabrics?

I have time to think about it, since we've got visitors staying in my sewing room. In the meantime, I would love to hear your opinions!


A Two-Year-Old's Toybox

A few months ago, I bought these super fun things that go fabrics at my LQS's anniversary sale. I had 15 minutes on the meter and a fussy toddler who immediately brightened at the sight of these novelty prints, so they were a bit of an impulse buy. I wasn't sure what I would make with them, and so they sat until inspiration hit. (Well, they didn't really just sit. They soon became one of the Monkey's favorite playthings...)

Anyway, inspiration didn't hit until I saw Cheryl's fun Five quilt. It was perfect! I loved the idea of using large stripes of the fabrics so he could enjoy the prints (because, as I've found, toddlers know no moderation), and using an applique'd number to denote his age would be the perfect finishing touch for his birthday quilt. In the end, this quilt ended up looking less like Five than I'd planned, but so much more like a little boy's treasured toybox.

And so, "A Two-Year-Old's Toybox" was born. I've never named my quilts, but as I pieced it, I could only smile thinking how much the fabrics resembled the contents of the Monkey's toybox. The prints are bolder and brighter than I would choose for myself, but so perfect for a little boy. I added strips of colored fabrics as dividers between the novelty prints, making a sort of rainbow, and enclosed it all in a navy polka-dot box and a white outer border. It was so colorful, it just felt like it needed to be reigned it a bit.

I machine applique'd a big 2 (which, in hindsight, should have probably been a brighter color to pop out a bit more) for our little guy who loves numbers and as a design motif that would also one day remind us of the special occasion for which this quilt was made.

The back is probably my favorite part of it all. I used this fun and colorful polka dot fabric (the Monkey calls them "balls") and inserted a pieced strip. I love it. Still bright and colorful, but much more subdued than the front.

I initially wanted to do all over swirls and loops for the quilting, but was quickly veto'd by the Monkey, who found the loops over his trucks distressing. So straight lines it was, and I'm less than thrilled with the results, but he seems to love it. Who am I to argue?


A bit of a blur

The last month has been a bit of a blur. We've been busy with all sorts of things, mostly pleasant and exciting.

For one, we put in our garden (for a second time...) with the help of some out of town friends. A month ago, when this picture was taken, the arugula and mixed greens were just barely coming in.

We finally transferred our tomatoes to the ground, only to have a long month of wet and cloudy weather. We were worried that our tomatoes wouldn't grow, but now that summer weather has finally arrived in the Pacific NW, they seem to be doing just fine.

We celebrated this little guy's birthday with a small backyard gathering, and realized that he had known almost all our guests since he was only a few weeks (or days!) old. His birthday was made all the more special with a visit from his grandmother.

With the little bits of sunshine we got in June, our garden started to flourish and we started enjoying garden fresh salads and lots of dishes with arugula.

And radishes. Lots of radishes. I was never a fan of radishes, but they taste so much better when they come out of your own backyard.

And now that summer weather has arrived and seems to be sticking, we've been spending lots of time outdoors, enjoying all this season has to offer. One favorite stop with the Monkey is the petting area of the zoo, especially with the old school tractor.

With all this, I've only found some time here and there to craft, and so June's project didn't happen. I've got high hopes for July, though, and will be back to share some new projects in the next few days. For now, enjoy the sunshine!