Hand made at Christmas.

I’ve had a long tradition, since at least college, of aspiring to make as many of the gifts I hand out at Christmas as I possibly can. In years past, this has led to a furious whirlwind of making in the days leading up to the big holiday (like the year I learned to knit and then knit a scarf for everyone on the list in just over a month), but at some point, it dawned on me to start these endeavors earlier in the year. Actually, that may have been the realization that I could give away things I’d canned over the summer and have them be well received. At any rate, I now attempt to have ideas I can carry out well before the calendar turns to December so that I’m not a complete hot mess leading up to Christmas. Because as we all know, when you are a mom, Christmas is serious work, especially when you are a working mother and you stay put at Christmas, meaning it is all on you to pull that magic out of thin air and throwing the compulsion to hand make a slew of gifts into the mix, well, that’s just a recipe for disaster.

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Aunt Jenny had requested months ago I knit her a scarf, so after I finished Mollie’s birthday gift, I immediately started on this one for her.  Knit of a merino wool in the hourglass eyelet pattern, it has a nice feel and stretch to it. She sent me a photo of herself wearing it Christmas day, so I think she liked it.

For some time, I’ve been kicking around the idea of printing some of my pretty bug and flower pictures on canvases – what’s the point really in taking these images if I don’t do something with them? I took advantage of some online pre-holiday specials and got at least some of my photos printed to share as gifts.  I loved the way they turned out, but more importantly, I loved receiving this photo Christmas day of the gift I sent my Uncle Kevin:
20151225_222204_001My zinnia photo, already hung, right by the front door.  I hope all the flower prints I sent out were as well received.

Edie girl, who has come to expect the mama-made gifts, had a whole section on her wish list of handmade items she would like to see. While I managed to outsource some of it to local crafters (like my friend Jen who was totally down with home delivering her lovely bracelets, as well as stumbling upon the sweetest ceramic gnome ornament from Tasha McKelvey), in the days before Christmas, I managed to pull of a flurry of giftmaking that made my girl quite content.

A cozy for her handle-less teamug, knit up out of scrap yarn while watching a movie one evening (the pattern inspired by one linked to by Food in Jars recently). A beaded necklace inspired by a trip to the bead section at Michael’s one day (where I always seem to think I can do that particular craft, get too ambitious, spend too much money only to come home and realize I bought all the wrong things, but maybe, just maybe since I pulled this one off and my friend Joanne, who does this sort of thing for a living (and does it well!) was kind enough to share some more than helpful hints, I might actually attempt this again?) that we debated about for a few weeks before I sat down one night and just did it. And last, but certainly not least, Mr. & Mrs. Gnome, a Wee Wonderfuls pattern that whipped up quick and easy. I used fabrics and trims from the stash, including the old coverlet from her bed for their hair (last seen in a pillow for purple moose, although I’d forgotten how that fabric really doesn’t respond well to being reused, as it’s an extremely temperamental knit) and while I might not be overly wild about the end result (I skipped a few steps I probably shouldn’t have and definitely got a little too loosey goosey with things maybe I shouldn’t have…), she adores the end result, which is sort of the point, now isn’t it?

I realized the other night as I went to bed, I’ve finished all the books and craft projects I’ve had lined up for months, clearing the deck for me in more than a few ways. The so-called ‘happy corner’ got a little cleaning attention post-holiday,  so that I can jump in and hopefully spend more time making than I have in the last year or so. I’m not one for resolutions, but I’ve decided I’m going to try to and spend more time with my sewing machine this coming year than I have in the past few.

Egg nog and Festivus Miracles.

The subject of eggnog came up the other day when my friend Leni had dropped by – I’m a fan, but my better half is not. She suggested I seek out a recipe that doesn’t call for much sugar, because the premade stuff is loaded with sugar and in her opinion, not very good. So while I said I’d get right on that, I thought hmm, maybe another year, as I knew better than to tack anything else on my to do list for the week. So low and behold, when I woke up to find an email the very next morning from my dear college friend Will with an eggnog recipe attached, I felt like I had just witnessed a Festivus miracle. Continue reading

Making Merry.


This past weekend was devoted to that holiday activity of procuring and decorating the Christmas tree.  We have a small house, but refuse to limit ourselves to a small tree, so furniture gets moved and access to the kitchen from the living room becomes somewhat limited in the name of holiday cheer. Continue reading


It didn’t feel like I took 500 photos this past weekend, but when I got home and uploaded them from my camera, I discovered I had indeed taken very close to 500 photos.  They can pretty much be broken down by subject to…. Continue reading

Official Summer kick-off.

It’s officially summer here at the homestead, and not just because it’s been hot as all get out or because the calendar says so or because I’ve picked the first tomatoes and cucumbers in the garden.  Edie’s bff Soph is home from Guatemala for the summer and we had our first (of many) river days with the Smiley clan, which is our official measure of the summer season.

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Bawlmer, hon.

IMG_2587 (1024x683)Last week was Edie girl’s first week of summer break, upon which I realized I had failed to put together any semblance of a summer plan, which coincided with the realization that my better half was off to a conference for the week, leaving me to wing it alone, with no plan.  So I did what I always do in that situation – I packed up the car and hit the road to Aunt Jenny’s in Baltimore.  While most of our time up there was spent visiting with family, we did take advantage of being in the city for some fun adventures. Continue reading

And so it goes.

IMG_8489The first week of January always feels like such a let down after the crazy rush towards and then relative quiet of the holidays that make up the end of December. We had a mostly lazy last couple of weeks that involved watching many hours of Gilmore Girls – how had I never watched that until recently? – interspersed with catching up on movies while eating hands down the best chocolate cake I make all year.  Edie challenged me to an entire day of doing nothing, with an exemption for knitting, which made it doable. Because as anyone who knows me knows, it is pretty near impossible for me to sit still.  And to spend an entire day doing nothing?  Whoa.  Thank goodness for netflix. Continue reading