It begins...

A friend recently forwarded an email to me titled "The Invisible Mother," a short essay comparing the tireless and often thankless job of a mother to the builders of Europe's great cathedrals. Both give their whole lives for a work they will never see finished, both make sacrifices and expect no credit, and both are fueled in their passion by the faith that the eyes of God see every detail. The writer of the essay was inspired by the thought that our endless efforts in motherhood, invisible as they may seem, are worth it and can make an enriching life.

For many of us, the way we choose to hold our invisibility at bay is by creating something tangible. For me, my days often end with knitting - my love of fiber and the need to do something relaxing end up producing something I can hold and look at. Nobody will know how many times I swept under the high chair that day, or how many toys I picked up, or how many times I tried to coax a "please" or "more" or "sorry" out of my 5 year old. But a darling, handmade infant hat? That you can see.

I start new projects every day, and my 10 year old does the same. In this process of creating (and yes, often not finishing our projects!) we connect with each other and a bigger picture of ourselves in the process. My plan for this blog is to share the projects that excite me and bring some accessible proof of my existence in this invisible world of mothering!

So, this blog is dedicated to the mothers out there whose days are filled with the minutia of tasks that build our children and our families. I often tell people that I haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up. But for now, I am the builder of a great cathedral. With every shoelace tied, lunch packed, and forehead kissed, I build.

And I can hardly wait to create something new...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekend Craftiness

It's been several weeks since I promised to post "after" pictures of my craft room (aka dining room) once Casey was put together, and Casey's babies were assembled. Hmmm. Why are there still piles all over the place? Casey is covered with wrapped baby gifts, tissue, and ribbon. The buffet is covered with unwrapped baby gifts, new knitting project, and knitting bag. The breakfast bar is covered with bags containing Girl Scout party favor bags, craft materials, game supplies, cookies I can't keep in the kitchen for fear I'll eat them, and a stack of diapers that Brynn has outgrown. Baby #1 is still covered with the file folder boxes that I have yet to use to get her organized, as well as tons of Girl Scout party candy and Rowan's recent Jump For Heart prizes. My table is relatively clean, but DANG, this room is a mess! Must deal with that. Casey has plenty of room to house most of this, but with the GS party the day after tomorrow it seems silly to tuck it all away just to pull it out again... Ah, the practical conundrums of the ever-organized. Gotta finish wrapping those baby gifts and get those puppies delivered!

We have been very busy crafting this weekend, Rowan and I. I finished the baby boy hat on Friday night, and have just finished wrapping it along with the random assortment of other gifties we purchased. Just need to box them and ship them off to Seattle...

Saturday Rowan got the urge to work on the fleece quilt we started ages ago. Yay! Once Brynn was napping we played a couple rounds of Monopoly Jr. and then cleared the table for quilting. 
We lay the white background down first, then used her drawn pattern to arrange and rearrange the pre-cut squares to her liking. Next, we placed the 2-sided adhesive on the backing and got to work ironing on the patches. (Love her utter concentration!)
The adhesive works relatively well, but the edges want to flap up and it will really need to be sewn to keep them in place. The adhesive is paper thin, but it added a level of stiffness to the quilt that we weren't expected. Once we get it stitched and washed, hopefully it will be cozy again. There are gaps here and there where the squares don't quite line up, but she doesn't mind. 
Here she is, after an hour of ironing, giving it a try!
I don't think she's remotely interested in stitching anything, so I will most likely tackle that project at some point. (Note on YOCL.)

The baby girl sweater is dry and blocked this afternoon, so I just took it off the pins and am ready to wrap it up! Awww! Hope they love it. :)
After all the auction knitting and baby projects, Rowan asked to be next in line with the cat pajama holder she found in my Knitted Toys pattern book. The photo is pretty cute - the cat is shown in a pale pink with darker pink spots.  I looked through my stash and didn't really have the right yarn for this project, so we looked through my Knit Picks catalog at their washable wools to see what might jump out at her. And, typical Rowan, she does not limit herself to the vision of what's in the pattern book. Heck no! Green with blue spots - that's the cat she wants. Why not! I'm actually rather glad to not be knitting with pink for awhile. She picked a parrot green and sky blue, and rather than wait for an order to arrive in the mail I stopped at Knit Wit yesterday morning and bought washable DK weight wool there - it's wonderful to work with (the same yarn I used to make the little Daisy Christmas stockings - oh wait, that was pre-blog...). In any case, intarsia is always a mess of yarn spaghetti and ends to weave in, but I'm enjoying it thus far and love the bright, summery colors! (The picture does not show the green in its true brightness - it's not this subtle!)
So what I really want to do now is go knit on the cat, but what I should do is wrap the rest of the baby gifts, clean up the wrapping mess, stash the Girl Scout stuff in a drawer, get the file drawers organized (still haven't built the second one!), and get my craft room in order.

Oh, and let's say some prayers for the Jayhawks this afternoon - we like a happy Daddy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

To Do List

It's one of those days where my "To Do" list is so random it makes me giggle. Here's a sample:

- Vacuum under couch cushions (so that we can flip the tearing cushion before the hole gets bigger!)
- Block baby sweater
- Make coffee filter butterfly
- Make tissue paper flowers
- Clean up cat barf (which, sadly, has been there since I was in Iowa!)
- Register Rowan for summer art camp and VBS
- Buy birthday present for teen-aged niece
- Start panicking about snagging dates to use the school for next year's Brownie meetings
- Return Melissa's cookies (how dare she leave them here after Knit Night!)

I won't take pictures of what's under the couch cushions, or of the cat barf, but here are the other things I can check off my list...

The two "craft stations" planned for the GS birthday party on Tuesday are butterflies and flowers. My Junior Scout helper came up with the butterfly craft and I gave it a try this afternoon.

The tissue paper flowers were my favorite to make - it's amazing how something so simple can be done so quickly and look so sweet!

And my friend had her baby girl! 2 weeks early!  As promised yesterday, blocking the sweater I made for her was top priority today. I got everything out and ready to go...right before lunch. So once again, yarn, pins, etc, was butting up against the makings of my delish salad. (Btw, favorite salad recipe: 1 Tyson breaded chicken tenderloin cooked for 25 minutes in the toaster oven, chopped and put on top of a bed of baby spinach, 1 T. honey roasted almond slices, 1/8 cup of feta cheese, and 6-7 cut strawberries. I use Balsamic Spritzer dressing, and it's YUM! For those in Weight Watchers, it's only 7 points!) But I digress.  Here is the blocked sweater and the matching hat, buttons sewn on and just needing a couple of days to dry before I can wrap it and give it away. The sweater looks darker because it's wet - the hat is the true color. Oh so cutie! Even though the hat looks GIANT for a 6-9 mos old. Seriously people, I just can't get hat sizes right! The sweater will probably fit baby a full year before the hat does. :P
And that's my craft portion of the day!  Now off to deal with nasty couch cushions and cat barf. Yay.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Break

I may have taken a hiatus from blogging over Spring Break, but not from crafting!  So much to share, I barely know where to start.  Let's begin with the finished auction items!  I finished piecing together the 3 mice before we left for Iowa, and also managed to finish the faces and ears on the sheep booties...only to discover a few days later that I did it on the wrong side. Doh! So, had to spend an hour on Mom's couch re-doing that little boo boo.  Here they are...

So, the auction items are all done, labeled with tags, and delivered as of this morning!
As it turned out, Rowan's St. Patrick's Day pinata was not dry enough to paint before we left, so the first morning we were at Grandma's house we got to work. Rowan had a very specific color combination in mind: yellow on one half, red on the other, with shamrocks. Because red and yellow just say "St. Patricks's Day," right? She started the red side first, which of course made its way in blotches to the other side and would not be covered by yellow, so she conceded to mix the yellow with red and make orange to hide the spills! (Check out her tongue on the first picture!)

The pinata was a hit with Rowan's cousins, and our ribbon idea actually worked pretty well!

While in Iowa, my dad was trying out a crafty project of his own.  He invited us over on Saturday morning to "bend wood." He had created a steam bath for slender pieces of wood he planned to bend, with a few extra for the grandkids to experiment with. And if you ever wondered where my organizational skills come from, look no further than my dad's wood shop! Seriously, people, this man has a gift!
Also whilst in Iowa, I finished knitting the girl baby sweater and got started on a hat to match! Blocking them and putting on the buttons is top of Ye Old Craft Log for tomorrow, then I can show you pictures. Hopefully they will be loved!

Upon arriving home, we found our crocus and daffodils in full bloom! LOVE them!
I hosted Knit Night last night, and finally started the baby boy sweater-turned-hat project.  The cotton/bamboo is luscious to work with, and I should be ready to ship that off in a day or two as well...

And if the knitting hasn't kept me busy enough, I was in full Girl Scout party-planning mode this afternoon.  Got 28 party favor bags stuffed, agenda organized, packing list made, and most of the craft and game supplies gathered and sorted. Created the party Kaper Chart, printed some fun clip art, and got my meeting board ready to go. Whew!
And now, I think I will just fall asleep. Ha!  Gotta go make dinner....

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mousy Bits and a Pinata

It's spring break! 1.5 days until we leave for Iowa, and I'm frantically knitting up auction items. I finished the duck feet booties...
...and have been cranking away at the mousy bits. I've got all the pieces knitted for each mouse, and now need to sew and stuff.
I got Brynn down for her nap, and was all ready to start sewing mouse seams when Rowan declared that she wanted to make a St. Patrick's Day pinata to take to Iowa!  I asked if she had ever done paper mache at school, and no, she had not. How can a 7 year old never have done that??  So, we found a balloon, whipped up some pasty batter, and got to work.
Oscar was quite enthralled with the gluey smell and came to investigate. Rowan and I got the balloon covered and now it's drying - hopefully in time for some painted decorations before Wednesday morning! Rowan has raided her candy box and found quite a stash to share with her cousins. Pretty cute.

Now, time to deal with the mousy bits!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Welcome Spring!

With a new front door mat, a new haircut, and renewed vigor I am welcoming spring today!  Well, I know we still have a few weeks left of winter, and we'll probably get 2 feet of snow next week in Iowa, but for today it feels like a new season!  Sunny, 60 degrees, Saturday - splendid!!

I just spent an hour and a half in the yard, clearing away all the old, dead garden debris and uncovering all the tiny little green (and yellow!) things that are sprouting.  The azaleas, clematis, hydrangea, lilies and roses have all been pruned (my knock out rose bush just about did me in - my forearms are a mass of scratches), the leaves and dead grass cleared away, the old annual foliage yanked and stuffed in in yard waste bags. 
Front Walk - green!
Miniature Crocus peeking through
South garden full of daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, and iris buds
And Brynn is still napping, so I can sit for a minute and feel satisfied with myself. (Plus, I had a good weigh-in at WW this morning, and am now only 6.5 lbs from my goal weight!)  I bought two new pairs of capri pants today, using my Christmas gift cards from Eddie Bauer, and could fit in a size 8.  DUDE!  Celebration time indeed!  Yay, me! Yay, spring!!

Now, off to change out of my gardening clothes so I can work on Duck Booty #2...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Humbled by Japan

It feels very odd to be going about our day, business as usual, knowing that millions of people in Japan have been devastated today. Very sobering. I will be on the lookout for anything a simple crafter can do to help ease their burden! I am very glad that the damage to Hawaii was nowhere near what they expected, and that the U.S. coast has not been hit hard. Still, when a disaster like this occurs, it is very humbling and makes you want to call all your family members!

In the meantime, I have been knitting up a frenzy. I had hoped to finish 6 auction items by the time I leave for Iowa on Wednesday, but with only 4 days left I'm not sure about that! The flower top hat and bear booties are done...
...and the first duck booty is underway...
...but I still have the sheep booties and the 3 little mice to do. Better get crackin'!

I bought hanging file folders this morning at Target, and as much as I'm itching to organize the Girl Scout stuff in them, it will have to take a back burner. Brad has worked from home several days this week, and has caught me knitting during the day (I normally don't!) so I had to explain the auction frenzy to justify the housework that isn't getting done. Which reminds me I have laundry to fold. Dang!

Rowan's class (talk about timing!) is having a Hawaiian themed party today, so she scooted off to school in a grass skirt, lei, and hair flowers. Super cute! She's still on a high from last night's 1st Grade Musical: 3 of a Kind. Here's a couple pictures of her and the 3 caballero's, as well as the darling poster she made for me to take to "cheer on" the kids last night!

I will be glad to tell her when she gets home that Hawaii is doing just fine. She sat with me watching news coverage this morning and was pretty worried. It's hard for a 7 year old to fathom something that major. Heck, it's hard for me to fathom. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Well, besides the turkey chili from Friday I have not been doing much actual cooking this week. (Sorry, Brad!) But the craftiness has been turned up a notch, and despite a cough and achy head, and two sick kiddos, YOCL is being satisfied! (It's a good thing my girls like to have couch snuggly time when they don't feel good - and they don't mind if I knit whilst snuggling. Score.)
My second hat is almost done for the school auction. I just need to make 5 more white petals and get those babies sewn in place. Oh so cutie!
And I'm inching ever closer to finishing the Bear Booties as well - dang, those dudes are time consuming! Getting the ears on correctly is tricky, and the face needs to be just so, and then there's a trillion ends to weave in because of all the color changes. But MAN are they cute!  I just need to finished sewing the seam of the second bootie, weave in a few ends, and tack down some ends that are sticking out.
Yesterday morning, once Brad's parents were gone I decided to tackle Casey's Baby #1. 
An hour into it, the floor was a maze of cabinet pieces (all with screws jutting out) that Brynn was having a lot of fun exploring. Oh so child safe. Between wiping her nose every 3 minutes, steering her away from sharp stuff, and constantly hiding my screwdriver I think it probably took me 3 times as long to build the dang thing. Oh, and the bottom board that goes right in front has a gouge out of it, dangit! There's just no way I would pack all that back up and deal with shipping/returning it for a scratch, but dang! Here's the new baby, flaws and all...
ooo, and I finally finished putting the comments in the family photo albums, and filled in the missing pictures Rowan had borrowed for her school project. Those puppies are caught up through Christmas! I'm going to say CHECK for now. (And I have now set a calendar reminder every three months to update the dang things so I don't find myself a year behind again.)
Last, but not least, I grabbed a wee bit of naptime yesterday to create some auction item "tags" as well as "business cards." I decided to not get all OCD with myself. I just wanted something simple, easy, and low-tech. I chose a decent graphic from my "yarn" search in the PowerPoint clip art files, found a font I liked, and threw them together. After a color suggestion change from my Dad (a graphic artist) I printed some out and can CHECK that off YOCL.
I don't have the energy today to tackle File Cabinet #2, but I think I might be able to finish those booties and the hat. Cross your fingers that Brynn takes a decent (and much needed) nap today. With the cloudy, rainy day I am tempted to nap myself...nah. Knitting is way more fun! Gotta keep on cookin'.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Turkey Chili

Just a quick post tonight - wanted to share a recipe, courtesy of my sister!  She gave it to me ages ago, and I finally got around to trying it Friday night when Brad's parents were visiting. SUPER YUMMY!  Here you go:

Ingredients (and seriously, you might want to double the recipe to have leftovers):
Green pepper
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
2 T. olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey sausage
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 can beans (I used kidney)

Saute chopped green pepper and oregano in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, chili powder, cloves, coriander, and cinnamon; simmer and let thicken.

Meanwhile, brown the turkey sausage.  Add browned turkey and can of beans to chili mixture - simmer a few more minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

YOCL in Overload

For those who have missed previous posts, YOCL refers to "Ye Olde Craft Log," which I created to keep track of my ever-growing list of crafty to-do's!  And because I am always full of impulsive, brainiac ideas, I have signed myself up for some YOCL overload.  Progress Report:

Baby Sweater Number 1: Have not gotten further than casting on for the first sleeve because I started Baby Sweater Number 2

Baby Sweater Number 2: Cast on with new cotton yarn that I thought I would love. Hmmm. Kinda rough feeling, and not so baby soft. Plus, an hour into the project I discovered a striping discrepancy with the pattern which means I need to rip back almost all of it to make it right (not loving Debbie Bliss right now!). The yarn is actually a difficult weave to work with as well, which slowed me way down and gave me hand cramps. And so now I am asking myself - is it worth it to spend countless hours on a baby gift I'm not sure about now, which may only get worn a couple of times. Pretty sure Baby Sweater Number 2 is going to get scrapped and then replaced by a nice, soft hat!

Building New File Cabinets and arranging Girl Scout stuff: Still packed in boxes and don't plan to drag that project out until our weekend company is gone.

Write Daisy Letters: My hopes have been dashed that we could get all 17 girls available on the same day for our outing - it kills me that a few of the girls will be voting on an outing they can't even attend. *sigh*

And this brings me to my impulsive, brain-child moment. Rowan's school newsletter came home a few days ago asking for donations for their silent auction, which is the biggest fundraiser of the year. I can't donate plane tickets or sports equipment, etc., but I say to myself, "Hey! Perhaps they would like some hand-knitted items? Baby hats, booties and such!" So I email the lady in charge, and yes, she would love any and all items I would like to donate and they would need them in 3 weeks. Oh, and it would be nice to put my business cards with them. So, I pulled out my stash of yarn, a bunch of pattern books, and whipped out YOCL:

Pumpkin baby hat
Flower top toddler hat
Matching infant bonnet/booties
Duck feet booties
Sheep booties
Bear booties
Stripey Toy Mice
And, Make Business Cards!

Naw, I won't be busy at all over the next 3 weeks. !!!! The orange Cashsoft yarn I had leftover from the last pumpkin hat called to me first, but as I cast on I became obsessively nervous that there would not be enough to make an entire hat. I made the smallest size, and pretty much tackled that puppy with my heart racing. By last night I was able to decrease the top and had just enough to finish it. Whew! I put on the stem and leaf, and that cutie is done. Not sure of the best way to display it at the auction, as hats are way cuter on something rather than laying flat. Any ideas?

Now of course, with the fun pattern books laying around accessible, Rowan got her hot little hands on one called "Knitted Toys" and came to me about 5 minutes ago (batting her long lashes) and showed me the picture of the cat pajama holder she would really really like me to make her. Add it to YOCL.