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...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Projects, Projects Everywhere

Literally. Everywhere. This is the week before we leave for Iowa, in which a long, long list of projects need to be completed and planned so that I can hit the ground running when we get back on the 15th. First and foremost - Teacher Appreciation Gifts! Rowan has finished her darling pictures/cards for all her teachers, and I have just finished the knitting of her teacher's bag. Here's the unfelted bag and icord handle:
 The bitty flower scraps start like this...
and transform to this (which is the true color)...
and will be felted along with the bag. I plan to have a cluster of three flowers on the front of the bag, and still need to stitch the last two flowers together, weave in a few ends, and then I can get that hot water wash going and felt everything this afternoon.  It will take several days to dry, but should be done in plenty of time to give away next week.

I have also been trying (for months) to decide on a gift to make and give my Girl Scouts at our final meeting on May 16. I've settled on crocheted "book worm" bookmarks. Pretty sure I had one as a kid, and loved it! I bought the yarn and googly eyes, and plan to tackle that project in Iowa while I'm there, under the expert tutelage of my mom.
I also bought yarn last week to make a hooded sweater for Rowan's American Girl doll - once I've finished the bag, the worms, and the 2 bags I'm making for myself I can start that! I told you, projects everywhere!
I can't wait to see how the bag and flowers felt up. I might have to post again today with the results!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Petit Au Pain Chocolat

Here's the recipe I mentioned yesterday - enjoy!
Petit Pains Au Chocolat

2 sheets frozen puff pastry (one 17.3-ounce package), thawed, each sheet cut into 12 squares
1 large egg beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon water (for glaze)
4 3.5-ounce bars imported bittersweet or milk chocolate, each cut into six 2x3/4-inch pieces
1.     Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.     Brush top of each puff pastry square with egg glaze.
3.     Place 1 chocolate piece on edge of 1 pastry square. Roll up dough tightly, enclosing chocolate. Repeat with remaining pastry and chocolate.
4.     Place pastry rolls on baking sheet, seam side down. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover pastries with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Cover and refrigerate remaining egg glaze.)
5.     Preheat oven to 400°F.
6.     Brush tops of pastry rolls with remaining egg glaze. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake until pastries are golden brown, about 15 minutes.
7.     Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 24.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where Has April Gone?

Good gravy! How can it be April 27th already?? May is so packed with parties, fun, and travel I might not survive it. Ha!

The saga continues with the lace sweater. I bought new pins, as promised, and blocked the little edging along the front and neck. Yep, it rusted. DUDE. I can't even begin to explain it. But, you can't see the little rust marks unless you're really looking, and the sweater fits Rowan perfectly. She wore it all day on Easter!
We had tons of Easter fun - hunting eggs, dying eggs, and eating lots of chocolate. My plan to not eat Easter candy? Yeah, out the window. :P
We also made some yummy treats called "Petit Au Pain Chocolat." Oh yes, they were awesome. I can post the recipe if anyone is interested. Rowan could pretty much make them on her own - super easy! (They are basically puffed pastry dough wrapped around chocolate, then glazed with egg and sugar.)

Rowan received some Easter candy at school that she can't eat (darn braces!), so she decided to return it to the Easter Bunny. She created a little bag (note that each little whisker, etc, was colored and cut out separately to place on the bag!) with a darling little note explaining herself. I stashed the note away, emptied the candy, and wrote her a note back (from "E. Bunny") to say thank you, and that she should keep her darling bag. You should have seen the look on her face when she came downstairs on Easter morning! I was waiting, camera-ready, hoping for a big giant smile of happiness, but when she saw the little bag still on the table I thought she was going to KILL someone. Daggers practically shot from her eyes - she was SO upset thinking the bunny hadn't seen her bag and note. Of course once she saw the return note and the candy gone she was ecstatic, but her fury was so dramatic I almost laughed out loud.
Now that we've made it past the holiday, the craftiness has begun anew.  I hosted Knit Night last night, and needed a new project to start! While Brynn was at school, I leisurely browsed at Knit Wit and came home with yarn to make myself two new felted bags - I've been wanted to make one for ages and too many other projects got in the way. At first I thought I was going to choose bright, summery colors, but I just kept wanting to gravitate towards the neutrals. I'm so boring! I ended up with some soft spring colors (GAP would approve) for the first bag, and some deeper colors for the second. All are Cascade 220 - here they are:
And then this morning, I had a "DOH!" moment. (I have a lot of those.) Here I am, starting a bag for myself, when next week is Teacher Appreciation week!  I know (er, hope!) Rowan's teacher would love a felted bag, so Brynn and I dashed to Knit Wit again this morning to pick out yarn for a 3rd bag. Her teacher's favorite colors are "bright ones" according to her, so here's what I chose. I cast on and finished the bottom in between loads of laundry this afternoon.
I am toying with the idea of felting a chunky flower on the front of her bag as well - it depends on how much yarn I have to spare.

I will continue to post my progress with the bags - can't wait to sport something new and different over my shoulder (I'm way, way overdue.)  Cheers!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eggs N Stuff

'Twas the day before Easter and all through the house - craziness and mayhem!  No, it's not all that bad actually. :) I faced the music at WW (not a pretty song) and then Rowan and I got our haircuts, had lunch, and ran a couple of errands.

With new blocking pins and pearl buttons in hand, I carefully whetted and pinned the front edges and neckline of the lace sweater and am hoping for NO RUST. By morning I can sew on the 2 little buttons, and Rowan can wear her new Easter sweater for Easter. (She wore it a bit this morning too, bless her heart, even without the buttons. "I'm cold, Mommy! This sweater has too many holes!" "It's lace, honey, it's a fashion statement and not meant to be practical." )

While Rowan got her hair cut, I finished knitting the "block" I started - most likely as a dish rag for my Dad. I got it blocked this afternoon as well, and the pattern is now much more obvious. Being wet, the light picks up all the little wrinkles in the picture, but it will be pretty cool when it dries.
In preparation for our little Easter gathering tomorrow, Rowan and I started some "sample" eggs we plan to make with our friends. These "Dye-ving Dudes" can be found on the Family Fun website and I fell in love with them! Ours won't look nearly as perfect as the sample picture, but it will be fun to try them out. I've been saving water bottle caps for a month! So cute!
And although the weather between here and St. Louis didn't allow my brother to fly in for the weekend, we haven't seen any rain yet and are still hoping for a dry, albeit cool, Easter.  I managed to get the 3 Phlox plants in the ground - to add to our ever expanding ground cover near our front walk under the Burning Bush. The soil is pretty rocky and root-laden under there, which about did me in. :P Oh, but my azalea's are bursting with bloom this weekend!
Here's to a Happy Easter, everyone. May the bunny bring you sunshine, good times with family and friends, and plenty of chocolate (so that I won't be the only one pigging out.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

One of Those Days

I rolled over on this dreary morning when I heard Rowan talking to her Dad in another room. "Hmmm," I thought, "she's up early. Then I looked at the clock and sprang out of bed - doh! Overslept! And I've been playing catchup ever since. I have no idea how long Brynn had been in her bed chattering away, but we rushed downstairs to get breakfast going before school. I poured a big cup of milk for Brynn, and in the 5 seconds it took me to turn and get her antibiotic, she had grabbed the lid-less cup and dumped it all over herself and the floor. Awesome. Splashy milk puddles are so fun when you're 2, after the initial shock of being covered with cold milk dissipates. We managed to get clean, get a new cup of milk, get Rowan ready for school and out the door in 15 minutes, but I was still in my jammies and bra-less. Brynn and I had to drive straight from school to Firestone to pick up Brad after he dropped off my car for new tires, and I hoped no one would notice my bedhead and general state of droopy lateness.

Back at home, Brynn gravitated into the craft room and discovered the blocked sweater - aka, sharp pins that are fun to pull out. YIKES! So, I quick put on Elmo and started pulling pins out of the dry sweater to make the room safe again. That's when I noticed that several of the pins had RUSTED overnight and left brown marks on the lace sweater. WHAT the WHAT? These particular pins are especially made so as NOT to rust, and are the recommended brand used by most knitters. It must have been a bum batch, and because I have no idea which pins are from the new batch and which are from my good batch, they will all have to be pitched. I called the store where they were purchased, and they are sending me a new set of $3 pins. Because that makes up for it, apparently. I tried dish soap and water (as suggested) to remove the rust spots - no luck. So I sprayed them with Oxy spot remover and crossed my fingers.

After a quick shower, Brynn and I rushed off to Gymboree and then the grocery store. Rainy, icky, wet. I put the groceries away, then returned a call to Brynn's Speech Therapist, who sadly informed me that she has given notice and won't be working with us after next week. Sniff, sniff!! (We love you, Becky!) And that has been my morning.

Sadly, the Oxy made no dent on the rusty spots, which did not get hidden quite as well as I'd hoped as I sewed the sweater's seams this afternoon. I added the edging along the front and neckline, but the little edging scallop won't be noticeable until it is blocked again, and I'm afraid to use any of my pins! So, tomorrow I'll buy new pins and buttons and Rowan will be able to wear her new sweater for Easter, rusty stains and all. *sigh*

On a happier note, I picked up the cotton I had originally purchased for the baby-sweater-that-did-not-happen and started a washrag with it. Mom gave me an awesome book called "Knitting Block by Block" by Nicky Epstein and I have been wanting to try some of the patterns! This one is a simple square divided into 4 sections that twist out from the middle. You can't see the pattern really emerging yet, but it will get there. :)

OH! And the squirrels and birds have officially found our new bird feeder! The birds didn't stay long enough for a picture, but Mr. Bushy Tail did...
Now, I realize I need to weigh in tomorrow morning. And usually on Friday I am super good about food choices and drink tons of water, etc. But today, all I want is chocolate. It is a really, really good thing that all the Easter candy is locked away in plastic eggs at this point. When I feel tempted to break one open, I tell myself that that would be stealing from children!  We'll see if that little mantra gets me through the evening. :P

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Approacheth

Will she get the sweater done in time for Easter?  The race is on, people! I finished knitting the second sleeve last night, and used my new blocking mats (thanks, Mom!) this afternoon to get the pieces stretched to size. Once they're dry - hopefully by tomorrow - I can sew the seams and add the front edging with button holes. Doh! I need to buy buttons! Just added a "Go to Hobby Lobby" reminder in my calendar for tomorrow. The matching sweater for Brynn has not been started...and I'm contemplating not doing it at all. Truth be told, I'm ready to be done with lace for awhile! Maybe I'll make it for her next spring.
I also managed to finishing knitting the prayer shawl I've had in the works for 6 months. Woo hoo! Wove the last ends in last night, and here's the finished shawl. I'll take it to Iowa next month for Mom's church.
This afternoon I pored over the list of donation items that our Service Unit needs for Day Camp. I pilfered my yarn stash, and filled an entire bag of scraps, fun fur, cheap acrylics, ugly cottons, and horrid wools. YAY! Hopefully they can be used for all kinds of campy craftiness. And oh, what to fill the space with!! No, must NOT go yarn shopping. :( I also founds all sorts of other random things on the list and have filled the trunk of my car so that we can drop it off after school today. CHECK.  Brynn woke up a tad early, so I didn't quite get to my hall closet sorting project (time to carry winter stuff to the basement.) Or the Phlox planted. Or the new house address numbers affixed (the hail storm wrecked our "3"). Or the eggs boiled for Sunday (although I did get 150 plastic eggs stuffed yesterday!) Or the flowers crocheted for a friend (more on that soon!) And now it's time to leave for school pickup. Onward and upward!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

Another year has passed, amazingly. I'm a year older, hopefully a year wiser, almost 50 pounds lighter, and have had another year filled with learning, crafting, love, heartbreak, and joy. Ah, life! I'm very, very, thankful to be me!

Rowan was my event planner this year, and a wonderful one at that. We invited Dad to come for the weekend, and Rowan helped me ready the house on her day off from school Friday, as well as helped me make my birthday cake. To celebrate Earth Day on Saturday and my big day on Sunday, we made a Compost Cake. (Worms and all!)
It was quite chocolaty and delish, and I'm not worrying about how many calories it was!
We celebrated Earth Day in Lee's Summit, at the KC Kite Festival. It was awesome, and the weather cooperated perfectly. If only I'd remembered the camera. :P (Dad took pictures, so I'll have to snag some from him later.) Sunday, I awoke to a pile of presents ready to be opened. Rowan was SO excited, that I opened the ones from her first. (She kept disappearing into her room all week to "wrap" - I ended up with several items from her room that she felt she could part with.) She also made me a "Memory Journal and a "Family Journal" that are too cute for words.
She also got busy after breakfast creating a game for my 'party' called "Pin the Ocean on the Earth." CUTE.
We each got our own piece of ocean, and took turns trying to get them in the right spot whilst blindfolded. Here's Rowan having her turn:
I opened a fabulous gift from my Dad (remember when he showed us how he bent wood?) He made me a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind bird feeder for our back yard - something that had been on my wish list for awhile! Sunday after our picnic lunch and walk at the Overland Park Arboretum, we attached it to the post and got it anchored in the ground. Love it! It sits in full view of the windows at our kitchen table - I haven't seen any birds on it yet, but I'm sure they'll find it soon.
I had hoped my white azalea's would burst into bloom by my birthday, but they're holding out. Loaded with buds - any day now we'll get the full show!
I've got our Daisy meeting after school today, so between birthday prep and meeting prep, I haven't had time to do much crafting outside of the lace sweater. I have completed the body and one sleeve, and am a few inches into the second sleeve.  Maybe, maybe, I'll have it done for Rowan to wear on Easter. We'll see how the week goes!
Time to sign off and tackle a few more things around the house (oh, with all the coming and going and picnics and walks and presents - the house is a GIANT MESS) before Brynn's sitter arrives. And I might have to eat one more piece of cake...

Sunday, April 10, 2011


The pajama cat is done!  I managed to get the final seams sewn in time to have her waiting for Rowan on Thursday after school.  We've needed lots of extra things to cheer Rowan up over the past 4 days - the braces "honeymoon" was over after about 5 hours! Rowan loved the cat, and has named her Blueberry due to her blue spots. Blueberry has been carried around all weekend, and has a prime spot on Rowan's bed, so clearly she's going to be well loved! I thought I had taken a picture of Blueberry when I finished her, but apparently not - and now she's asleep with Rowan. Here's a fairly representative photo of Rowan holding her tonight.
The lace knitting is in full swing. I've finished the left and right sides of Rowan's sweater, and am about an inch from finishing the back.  Then I'll work on the sleeves and be able to sew them into the armholes and put on the finishing touches. At this point, I've memorized the lace pattern, which makes it go much faster.  I didn't do a gauge swatch first, so let's hope it fits her!!
With the gorgeous weather today, the girls and I spent some time gardening and playing in the back yard.  We  pulled all the sandbox toys out for a good hosing, and Brynn got right to work getting grubby!  She took a giant handful of sand and shoved it in her mouth right as I was going to take a picture. Yummy!

Brynn also attended her first-ever birthday party on Saturday for another 2 year old. SO CUTE! Everything about the party was just darling - Martha Stewart would have approved!  It was a "Puppy Adoption" theme.  Each kiddo got to walk into a "pen" filled with stuffed puppies and choose the one they wanted to adopt. Brynn went straight to the one she wanted and was grinning ear to ear the rest of the party. We got to fill out adoption papers, and each child received an information sheet about the kind of dog they chose.  Then the puppies were taken to the "vet" for a checkup and the "spa" for a bath and brushing. They played a Doggy Trainer game (similar to Simon Says) and then each child got to design a Shrinky Dink dog tag to tie with a ribbon around their puppy's neck.  The treats were delish - homemade cupcakes with doggy paw print decor. And each kiddo received a doggy bag of Scooby snacks, as well a bag of puppy chow (coco puffs cereal). The party favor bags were darling as well, and the pink balloon we got to take home is a big hit.  So fun! Every station at the party had a darling sign - all brown and pink themed with paw prints. They truly outdid themselves!

And that was our weekend! I'm going to see if I can finish the back of the lace sweater before my eyes get too tired.  Catch you later!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Knitting Lace

Well, we have replaced barf with snot at our house, which meant that Brynn and I stayed close to home yesterday. What to do, what to, time to start a new project! But, I made myself tackle laundry as my first priority (done!), and bring up the spring decorations which I had been promising Rowan we would get out since April 1st. There really aren't many places to "decorate" that aren't within Brynn's reach, so we're keeping it simple this year. Rowan created a little Easter shrine on the tall bookcase, and I created a little family shrine (with our new portraits!) on the mantle.
During nap time, I blocked the tail of the Pajama Cat (which I almost forgot to knit!) and then started my new project (can you feel the giddiness?) I had stopped into Knit Wit on Tuesday to pick up something I had ordered, with the thought that I might browse (childless) and pick a new spring project. A friend of mine was working on a lace scarf at my last Knit Night, and I've been kinda itching to do something lacy. I walked into Knit Wit and WHAMMY! There it was, hanging right by the sock yarn: Shi Bui's "Wednesday Sweater".
It's a simple lace pattern, and absolutely darling.  I couldn't wait to start it! The Shi Bui yarn was practically gone, so I ended up choosing a frosty pale green sock yarn from Jitterbug. Green is Rowan's favorite color, and I plan to make a sweater for each of my girls - thankfully the pattern spans 6 mos - 8 years! I cast on and got a few rows done before Brynn woke up, then worked on it until almost 11pm last night, whilst catching up on Glee episodes. Again, my camera does not like greens! This looks way frostier than it actually is...
Today, I was itching to get to work on the sweater again (I'm making Rowan's first), but my first crafting priority is piecing together the Pajama Cat.  As I was reading the "Finishing" directions this morning, it started talking about button and button holes. What the what??  Oh no. I did not make buttonholes!  I had made a copy of the chart pattern to work from and the teeny little pink lines that indicated button holes didn't show up on the copy, so I was oblivious. Oops. Kitty might gape just a little on her backside!  I got her body sewn up, the tail sewn, and the face pieces together but realized I hadn't asked Rowan was color stitching she wanted for the cat's face.  She's very particular about that kind of thing, and I didn't want to guess wrong. I picked her up from school at 10:30 this morning for her orthodontist appointment (yes, the braces are on and she did great!) and confirmed that she wants blue stitching to match the cat's blue spots. So, if nap time is good to Mommy today, I will get the face on, stuff the tail and head, and get that kitty finished!
Pajama Cat - backside
And then I get to knit more lace.  Whee!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spoke Too Soon

Just when I thought the flu was behind us...Brynn starting fussing about 20 minutes after I'd put her to bed last night, and no amount of rocking or singing was helping. I stood up to walk her around and she proceeded to throw up all over her book case, floor, self, and toys. DUDE.  Brad heard the might Yack over the monitor and came flying up the stairs to my aid. Oh man, did her room REEK. What the WHAT? *sigh* Baking soda and vinegar have been my companions again today. The carpet still looks ick, but at least it doesn't smell anymore. And a few of the books and toys just went straight to the trash.

But she's been fine since (on only fluids again) and is taking a really good nap. So...I have been cranking out the chores. I finally pulled out the pieces to the second file cabinet and put it all together.  Which means I could put away all the Girl Scout craft stuff from our meeting and clear the surfaces of my craft room! Ta da!
And since my poor little "Barf Vader" commandeered the evening, I didn't get to weave in the pajama cat ends until just now. Kitty is blocked and air drying!
I also spent some time today preparing for our April Daisy meeting (how soon they approach!) and am in good shape there. We have guest Brownies coming to lead the girls in earning a badge, so I don't have a lot to prepare ahead of time. I can start focusing on our final meeting in May and our "Bridging Ceremony." We're going to make a big deal out of our little Daisies "bridging" to Brownies next month. We're going to walk down the bike path to Arrowhead Park where there is a nice bridge crossing over Indian Creek.  I plan to give each girl a Daisy flower on one side of the bridge. She will get to walk over the bridge, toss her flower into the water and let it go (or keep it if she's too attached!) and then cross to the far side where she will receive a brownie (ha!) to eat. Should be cute. Once all the girls have bridged, we'll go play at the park and party hardy at our final gathering of the year. Then it'll be time to start planning Day Camp activities - woo hoo!

Oh, and can I just say, HOLY HAIL last night, Batman! As Brad and I were cleaning up vomit, it sounded like someone was throwing baseballs at the front of the house. We checked all the windows this morning and none were broken, but all the screens on the west side of the house are shredded and full of giant, gaping holes. Very attractive. There goes more of our tax refund...

I will leave you with a prudent photo of Brynn - it was taken over a year ago, but here you have it. :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ackackack. Ack.

There isn't much that can keep us from crafting at our house.  Unless we come face to face with the dreaded...stomach flu!  Ackackack!  Ack. Ack!  Brynn was hit Monday night (and waited until she was in my bed to barf.) and then Brad and I both went down Wednesday night. Why do these things always happen in the middle of the night? Why can't I be visiting the bathroom from 11-5pm instead of 11-5am? Ack! Not sure I'm going to be able to eat grape leaves for a few weeks. TMI? Sorry, folks.

But we have made it through, and I finally regained enough strength to pick up my knitting needles again. The house was a wreck by Friday, so many of my lovely nap-tastic crafting hours were spent dealing with the ugly cleanup that happens after the flu.

Yesterday, I spent 6 hours sitting in a church working on a photo project and knitting whilst Rowan earned 3 Brownie badges. She had a blast, and dang, I got a lot done!  The cat pajama holder is now knitted!  I need to weave in ends, block, and sew, but it's good to have the pieces done. It's looking a bit small, but we'll see how it goes once it's blocked. And this picture makes the green look pretty gross. It's not!
After an hour at home on Saturday, we turned around and spent the evening at the Scarborough Carnival. I couldn't wait to see how my silent auction items did! Yeah, apparently knitted items are not a big hit at auctions. Only one item was bid on. The 3 mice sold to the first bidder - hopefully some kid is really happy! All the booties were snatched up last minute at the 7:15pm "sudden death" auction when the starting bid was dropped to half price. But the hats I brought home. I will just hang on to them until someone I know is having a baby. And now I know for next year - no hand knits for the auction. I can save myself the stress!

Today was so lovely we decided to spend it at the Kansas City Zoo (and no crafting got done.) The polar bear was our favorite - he was AWESOME, and performed constantly for us! He swims right past the windows, then uses the last panel to launch himself up and into a back dive into the water again. Totally spectacular!

So fun. :)

Tonight I'm going to weave ends, knit on the almost finished prayer shawl, and kick my tired dogs up. Happy April, everyone!