Monday, December 27, 2010

More. Bunting.

This time for the niece and the nephew for Christmas. (Nana already bought Brendan an apron, and Ani will just have to wait.)  The bunting spells out their names and adds a couple end flags for extra festive fun.

Red, blue, and yellow for the boy.

With stars.  (And buttons, beads, and embroidery.)

Pink, purple, and sage for the girl.

With flowers.

(And buttons, beads, and embroidery.)

I don't know that kids love wall hangings for Christmas (it probably ranks up there with socks), but hopefully they'll cut me a break.  I just assumed that they have all the plastic noise-making toys they could ever dream of.  And everyone needs a little decor now and then.

Merry Christmas you two. Your auntie loves you!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas presents, or how I made 11 aprons in two weeks

This year, 11 people close to my heart received an apron for Christmas.  I was so impressed with that one I made for Joe that I couldn't fathom not making more.  (I am officially over it now, though, so don't you worry.)

I picked out custom fabric for each recipient, right down to the coordinating pocket fabric.  That was maybe the most fun part--picture me and Joe in the fabric store, arms piled to eyeballs with bolts of fantastic patterned fabric, trying to keep them all straight for the woman unlucky enough to be working the cutting table at the time.  And then the hardware. And then the twill tape.

Once home, after pre-washing, of course, I measured, cut, ironed, pinned, and sewed until my fingers were raw and the dogs were covered in errant scraps of thread.

And then, because I love customization--the idea that something was made just for you--I embroidered a little swatch for each one bearing the initials (or nickname) of the recipient.

In keeping with the kitchen theme, Joe and I mixed up some amazing hot cocoa, made our own vanilla extract, and made more marshmallows for our gift list as well.  But more on that later.

Merry Christmas all.  And here's to peace and abundance in the new year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I'm obsessed

with bunting.  Ob. Sessed.

But it's just so jolly and cute.  (And, if you'll remember, it brings the party.)

This year for homemade ornaments (a yearly tradition I forcefully gift upon my family and friends), I have made tiny tree bunting in delicious holiday colors.

Simple as cutting up a heap load of triangles, sewing their sides, turning them right-side out, ironing flat, and stitching into skinny bias tape. This required much patience, as the entire project was very small.  This caused a lot of squinting and hunching over my sewing machine, and a few exasperated seam rips, but the end result is definitely worth it.

For fear that my gift receivers would have no idea what tiny bunting is for, I crafted these instructions:

And then, because I can't leave Christmas scraps in my possession, I made each bunting its own tiny draw string bag, fashioned from this expert tutorial from Skip to My Lou.  (Note: these bags are neither as easy or as fun to make as they might look.  They are, however, as CUTE as they look, so I persevered.)

Merry Christmas all!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Arizona Christmas

Christmas in Arizona is going to be a bit understated, since we're playing it low maintenance style.  And it's just us until late on the Day of the Tree, when Joe's folks will fly in for some super-fantastic family time.

Since there's never too much of a good thing, I crocheted a passel of snowflakes, using that same pattern for the packages, in a variety of festive colors, and chain stitched them together to make a garland.

In a fit of sweetness, Joe's folks bought a four-and-a-half foot scotch pine for our merry pleasure, and it was waiting for us to unpack when we arrived.  It's covered in real pine cones and pine cone-shaped lights, which is adorable (and which you can't see in the photo below. You'll have to trust me.).

Add a few boxes of shatterproof ornaments (important when you have the following deadly mixture: 1) stone floors, 2) no tree skirt, 3) two tall dogs with happy tails) and you've got instant festivity.

Here's hoping that your house is also festive but that the decorating didn't make you frantic.  I'm sort of in love with low maintenance Christmas.

And now I'm off to take my second walk of the day and hunt for quail, roadrunners, and rabbits.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Road trip

This year we're taking a much needed holiday away from Seattle. We have available to us a home in northeast Scottsdale, Arizona, and because it's not supposed to rain much there, we packed the dogs in our little red car and drove down.

Drove? Yes.

Roody and T show off their road trip skillz
The dogs turned out to be fabulous road trip companions.  We laid the back seat down, packed it with two dog beds, and the dogs were thrilled to enjoy the ride.

I bought the Roadside America app for my iPhone, and am currently trying to cross off as many "offbeat tourist attractions" as possible.  The first one: the sundial bridge in Redding, CA.

It rained through the bulk of our drive through northern California. (Except the tiny sun break we got on the second morning, above, where we raced to see the bridge.)

12 pm marker.  It should be noted that this sundial only works on June 21, the summer solstice.

But the rain didn't stop there.  It rained over our entire drive through state of California, through the Olive Capital of America and the Artichoke Capital of the Universe.

[It should be noted that if I never again have to drive through Las Angeles in the pouring rain, I will be forever grateful.]

Southern Californians don't actually know about driving in the rain at high speeds.  And the steering-wheel clutching, lip-biting, I-can't-see-the-road-from-all-the-spray driving didn't make the mood worthy of pulling over and photographing the offbeat.

And thus, we checked off only one item from Roadside America on our three day drive.

Oh well, there's always the drive home.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's a wrap

This year I went with wrapping paper in non-traditional reds and greens.

For each package, I crocheted a gorgeous snowflake (using the best step-by-step pattern on the internet; thanks Lucy!) using white yarn from my stash. (They're supposed to be blocked to get their full lacy goodness, but I went with a softer, lazier version.)

The packages are tied with 99-cent twine from IKEA, which comes in black and white.  I told Joe we were going to use the black twine on the Christmas presents and he was incredulous.  I convinced him that it would be okay.  And look--it is. Trust me.

For the tags, we used artist's shrink plastic. (Remember Shrinky Dinks? Go to your local art supply store and get your own adult version!)  (OR, a quick googling will teach you to make your own shrink film out of #6 plastics!)

Take out your decorative scissors (they make lovely edges), your hole punches (we used a circle and a star), and your permanent markers.  Draw trees and snowmen and snowflakes and swirls.

Bake. Let cool. Thread your twine through the hole, and have some more egg nog.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Anika turns one!

And, in a act of universe turning in just the right way, I got to see her smiling face for 19 hours this weekend.  She is newly mobile--walking, standing, falling, walking again. A really good sport about it all too.

In fact, this baby is the best sport I've met in a long time.  Exhausted from an early flight into Seattle, and working from something like four hours of sleep, this little girl smiled all day, even on Santa's lap. (Okay, for the first few photos...and then she was done. Very done.)

Because she received a knitted mobile from me on the occasion of her birth, she hadn't yet been the recipient of a knitted sweater (unlike her boisterous big brother, who received a sweater while still in utero, which I can't link to, because it was created before the inception of this blog!).

This one-year-old present should rectify that situation.

This is the knitted kimono sweater, from this pattern, which costs money but is definitely cute enough to spend the few dollars to have it for your very own.  Knitted in KnitPicks superwash merino, allowing it to be both warm and woolen and WASHable.  This is important when you're still learning how to walk, feed yourself, and generally keep your hands clean.

A fun little project to knit, including the adorable flowers.  I have had no idea how big a one-year old is was (and I know that this particular one-year old is a bit tall for her age), and I have no idea how big this sweater is, but it's the one-year-old size, since I started on the two-year-old size, but it looked big enough for a kindergartener half way through.  [But it was perfect, as you can see!]

(Just once I'd like to knit something just once. Not once and a half, not twice, not three times.  I've learned though: my propensity to start things before actually measuring the gauge coupled with my perfectionism means that I have to rip things out a lot.  To deal with this fact, I repeat this mantra in my head while I'm ripping: I will be infinitely patient with myself. Infinitely.)

But back to Anika. Happy first birthday sweet one!  Thanks for stopping by to smile at me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

For Joe

He cooks, and by cooks I mean crafts, a meal for us every night.  And because he's an elaborate chef, he gets his clothes dirty in the process of splashing homemade chicken stock here, and reducing with red wine there.

And so, with heartfelt love and a bit of humor (I mean just LOOK at the fabric!), I made Joe an apron to wear with pride and to protect his duds from grease and flying au jus (complete with embroidered initials, lest anyone wonder to whom it belongs).

So far it's working. He wears it nightly, and no longer complains of phantom greasy spots appearing on his shirts.  Also, he looks adorable in it.

And, as you can see above, even Roody approves.