Monday, March 28, 2011

Unanticipated Motivation and Inspiration

A few weeks ago, I ordered a new chair and ottoman for the craft room. It was a beautiful oversized chair in a warm neutral color with a big squishy ottoman that had a storage compartment. When it arrived, the color looked great in the room but it was waaaay too big. We moved the cabinets to different locations to try and make the chair fit, we tried different angles, but it was just no use. So a call was made and back to the store went the chair and ottoman.

The craft room looked much better without the giant chair taking up so much room, but the craft room was also a mild disaster since the large cabinet had to be emptied in order to move it. It had contained a significant mess behind those closed doors - books and patterns and yarn, plus some other crafty items, in unorganized stacks and piles. That mess was strewn about the room for over a week as I tried to find the motivation to tackle it. That motivation kicked in on Sunday.

I went through everything, putting like items together, like all the sock yarns in one place. It was great to go through everything, reminding myself of the beautiful yarns I've purchased these past few years and that I still have not done a darn thing with them. Then I got to the many remnants of yarn I had. Mainly acrylics from baby blankets made years ago as well as a substantial amount of Homespun for which the labels were gone and I couldn't even begin to guess at the color's name. There was also some really cheap yarn I had bought for a dollar, hoping to make a blanket for charity.

Looking at all this yarn, I said to myself - even if you made more baby blankets with this same kind and color of yarn, it's so old, would the dye lot even be the same when you bought more? And when are you going to make all this charity stuff? You've got a project list long enough for the next few years with some fantastic yarns already in your stash.

Well, when I'm right, I'm right.

I filled up a sizeable bag of yarn for donation. There is no sense keeping good, quality yarn in my stash for some future charity work when I'm sure there is some group locally or nationally that would love to get this yarn for their projects. So once I find a group that will take this bag of yarn, it will be sent on its way.

The craft room clean up is not completely done - the 3 ring binders of patterns and magazines as well as all my pattern books need to be organized and put back inside. That was the part I least wanted to do - so when I came upon some extra curtain material and the wonderful Mr. Burns, I immediately pulled out the sewing machine and got to work.

Small sewing project - hospital gown for Mr. Burns

No pattern, no pinning, no ironing. I just folded the fabric, took out the scissors, then sewed it up where it needed sewing. It's not pretty close up - the sleeves are really wonky and the seams are sloppy - but it's supposed to be a hospital gown, which I think it resembles. This also counts toward my Year of Lovely Things as my small sewing project.

What inspired you this weekend?

Thursday, March 24, 2011


They're sprouting! All of them! Except one little pot of basil. I am super excited!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Hermits are People, Too

It was a glorious weekend full of beautiful weather and blue skies but my hermit tendancies were in full expression. It was just as nice for me to enjoy the days with my husband and dog in the comfort of home than out and about with the masses. The sun was warm on the balcony and proved to be a most excellent spot at which to sip my coffee and absorb some much needed vitamin D. This wasn't on my list of lovely things, but it was lovely just the same.

How did you make the weekend lovely for you?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Fever

Building upon my experiences from last year's foray into container gardening, I spent Sunday's sunny afternoon planting seeds. My DH was a wonderful help as I was trying to wield the Costco sized bag of potting soil.

These plants will stay inside until they appear hearty enough to go outside. Lessons learned from last year - I started them all in their own containers to avoid any transplanting related stress and these containers are even bigger than last year's containers so each plant has enough soil.

Seedlings for 2011 Container Garden 2

I planted rosemary, thyme, basil, lavender, and parsley in the large pots. There are two pots of basil as I'm hoping to make a lot of pesto this summer as well as try to train/prune one of them into a basil tree. The little blue pots have basil and the little green pots have rosemary. I'm hoping these will be great gifts to give should the seeds succeed. My rosemary last year didn't make it past the seedling phase.

The container already outside will stay there. I added some Johnny-Jump Up seeds as well as some extra lavender and parsley seeds. It is going to be more of a survival of the fittest in that container. Who knows which plants will grow and win in the end. The lambs ear is clearly in the lead. I'm hoping the flowers and the parsley will attract some butterflies this year like they did last year.

Outside garden container

Did I ever even post about the butterflies last year? A search of the blog says no. Oops. Well, here's the story - during Labor Day weekend, a beautiful blue butterfly was intrigued with my parsley plant. Turns out, she was laying eggs! I found this out when I saw the leaves of my parsley plant disappearing and these little guys were there. Turns out black swallowtail butterflies love to lay their eggs on plants of the parsley family.

Caterpillars 3

But back to this year's garden... The little garden Goddess stake decoration I found at Joann Fabrics. I also found a wall hanging and a whirligig thingamabob. I wanted wind chimes but I figured the dog would go berserk every time they chimed in the wind.

Balcony Garden in Progress Garden Goddess Hanging Decoration Whirligig 1

The two planters on the railing need new liners before they can be filled with soil. The rest of the Johnny-Jump Up seeds will be planted in them and perhaps, if I find something fun, some other type of flower or vine will be planted there, too.

In the meantime, the waiting and the watering continues until little green sprouts appear.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Completed Project: Plaid Baby Blanket

I took a photo of this little blanket a couple days after I started it. I was meaning to have a post showcasing this new project and how quickly I had worked up a good part of it. But I didn't post it last weekend and then I went and completed it in just over a week. It is so good to have my crochet groove back!

Sock Monkey Blanket 01

As always, details on Ravelry.

Isn't this a cool technique to simulate the look of plaid? The free pattern is from Lion Brand. I did use a different yarn (Lion Brand Vanna's Choice in Cranberry and Vanna's Choice Baby in Lamb and Chocolate) and a different hook size (J as called for by the yarn label). The colors were selected for the recipient as he will have a sock-monkey themed room. I didn't want to go overboard with the monkey faces (which honestly, creep me out a bit) that adorn some blankets. Plus the parents-to-be are going with a subtle theme, not monkeys everywhere. I think this blanket will be a nice addition.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mother Nature Has A Sense of Humor

I had a friend look at the photo of the surprise plant that lived throughout the winter in the big planter. He has a theory of what it could be - I hope your find it as funny as I do.

It seems this little plant could be...

wait for it...

Lambs Ear.

Isn't that hysterical? Of all the plants that could wind up in this crafter's garden, it is one with a sheep inspired name! I didn't plant lambs ear last year so I'm assuming this was a seed either dropped from a visiting bird or carried upon the breeze. It's a hearty little plant usually used as ground cover. If it turns out it isn't lambs ear, I probably won't remove it from my container garden. This little gift from Mother Nature will be cherished as I plant my Johnny-Jump Ups next to it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Gardening Surprise

My container garden last year did pretty well given the multiple transplanting I had to do. While my herbs did great but unfortunately my flowers did not do as well. I had a few plants pop up, lots of green but only a few flowers. This was mainly due to the shallow planter that didn't give them enough room. There was also this crazy rain storm that may have contributed to it, too.

At the end of the summer, I moved the last few green items to a large planter on the balcony. They did rebound a little but with fall approaching and temperatures dropping, it was too late for a comeback. I left the container outside for the winter, hoping to reuse the soil in the spring. I didn't pay all that much attention to it until earlier this week when I suddenly had the urge to prepare the balcony for this year's garden.

I cleaned off the furniture, washed the windows and the doors, swept off the pine needles that had showered down from our neighbor's exterior holiday decorations, and I was about to dig up the soil when I saw someone had survived the winter.

Survivor 1

And there was even a little green sprout popping up next to it on the left.

Survivor 2

I went inside to check the seed packets from last year to see what exactly had survived the winter. As I searched the drawers in the craft room, I remembered - I threw out the old seed packets when I thought everything had died.


Then I remembered I had started a gardening journal last year - yay! That would have a list of the herbs and flowers I planted. I found the papers and saw just the first entry that listed all the herbs and just 2 of the flowers I planted.

Damn it.

Did I ever make a list of the flowers I planted on the blog? A search of past postings found this incomplete list.

Mother of pearl!

So what the heck is this little green plant that fought to live through the winter? It's got some fuzzy leaves so I'm thinking it might be the johnny jump-ups I planted as they are part of the violet family. Anyone have any ideas on what it is?

More gardening posts are on the way as I'll be planting this year's garden soon. I'll be sure to keep accurate and complete records this year so I know exactly what I planted.

I Love Surprises


Good surprises - always.

Bad surprise - not so much.

Surprised by the plot in a movie? That's a good time.

A surprise package in the mail from a dear friend? Always wonderful!

I was practically squealing with delight when I opened the package to see I was the lucky recipient of one of these:


It doesn't matter when a Valentine arrives, it is still a wonderful and thoughtful surprise.

And then I discovered the loveliest little crocheted brooch.


I absolutely adore this little brooch!

Thank you, my chosen sister, for brightening my week!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Completed Project: A Baby Blanket for Maebh

The love of rainbows for baby blankets continues...

Granny Rainbow 01

Granny Rainbow 05

I used the pattern from Lion Brand - but as my color progression is nothing like the pattern, this is really just a big granny square. The same colors as the other rainbow baby blanket, and just as sweet of end product. As always, full details on Ravelry.

The title of the post is not a typo - the little girl's name is Irish and is pronounced "Maeve" like 'save' with an 'm'. She's such a cutie, just like her big sister. I appreciate her patience in receiving the blanket since she was born in early January.

Now on to a baby blanket for a little guy to be born in April. It's nice to be ahead of the game again.