Sunday, December 11, 2011

Recent projects

For several days last week I actually made stuff!  And thought I was going to be starting a new trend of finishing a project a night.  And then the sickness hit…

Tree pillow

A long-overdue wedding gift.  Which is my wont.  Inspired by Jessica of Insanely Crafty/Created Blissfully and her Family Tree.

Drawstring Bag

And a drawstring bag.  Just because.  The tulip fabric is from Holland when we went to the tulip festival.  The fabric store there had every tulip fabric ever printed, I think.  Anyway, I convinced my mom to get this for me.  The ties are leftover binding from these reindeer quilts, and the green is fro my scrap bag.  I think I initially bought it intending to make some sort of landscape quilt of Weeks footbridge.  That didn’t pan out so well.  The pattern is a modification of this tutorial from In Color Order, I just moved the outer contrast from top to bottom because I thought having the tulips grow out of the green was more appropriate!

Off to minister to the sick.  Here’s my inspiration.  Just need to get some trays.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy St. Nicholas Day!


The stockings were hung

This is my first year doing stockings on St. Nicholas Day.  Well, it’s my first day celebrating St. Nicholas Day at all, as far as I can remember.  We’ll be out of town for Christmas, so this seemed like a great alternative (this, and traditional presents on the feast of Epiphany—way to spread the joy as long as possible, right?).  Plus, we have this great book by a relative of a friend of my sister.  Well, we have the book, but that doesn’t mean the little one wanted to sit still to actually hear it.  So, I educated myself, and counted it good.

What is it?

May your Advent season be filled with anticipation,


and joy,


and a feeling of generosity.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why I was hoping we would have a snowy Halloween

When I found out I was having a boy I went hunting for suggestions about where all the patterns for boys’ clothes were hiding.  The consensus seemed to be:  Ottobre Magazine.  And then my parents were awesome enough to get me a subscription for Christmas.  And I’ve actually made a number of things from my magazines, I’ve just been bad about recording them (which I need to rectify).


But here’s one fresh off the machine—the Pingu snowsuit.  I wanted to make it as soon as I saw someone’s completed version on the Ottobre English Yahoo group.  And since I was planning to make my child look ridiculous all winter, I should probably make double use out of it for Halloween too, right?

The recommended fabrics are velour for the outer, knit jersey for the lining, and a layer of batting as interlining.  Since Peter is old enough to be actually exploring the snow on his own this year (rather than just looking at it from his stroller), I decided that a waterproof outer layer was in order.  I cut out just one layer of polar fleece to use for the interlining, but decided that was inadequate.  So now it’s a real thick, real heavy sucker.  All the better to force waddling, I suppose.  This is the largest size, size 80.  I lengthened the torso by one inch and shortened the sleeves and legs by one inch each.  They still have plenty of growing room (the rib cuffs are completely turned backwards in the picture above).  Kid has a long torso like his mother.

Non-matching lining

I thought I had carefully lined up the lining fabric before cutting it out.  Obviously I wasn’t successful.

Excited to be a penguin

It might turn out that this is a little bit too cumbersome for my just-barely walking son.  But I do recommend the pattern for those with less mobile children!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hooray for Saturday

Office explorations

Some of the pots and pans we bought right after we got married are getting worse for the wear.  I had seen a restaurant supply store down the street, so we all set off on a little adventure this afternoon.

There was actually not one, but two restaurant stores less than half a mile from home.  But one was closed, and one didn’t have what we needed.  So we headed home, via the park.  Peter fell asleep, and A. and I stopped to do an obstacle course and attempt to play tetherball until he woke up.

It’s amazing how visiting a playground can make you feel young and old at the very same time.  Memories of learning to sit on the parallel bars, one of the highlights of my early elementary school life, and of playing tetherball at park campgrounds filled my mind.  But sitting up on those bars today felt more uncomfortable than cool, and my tetherball skills were more than a little rusty.  My taste for feats of derring-do just seems to have lessened.  But though I couldn’t cross the monkey bars or acrobatically dismount from the highest bars, I returned home quite happy with our little walk.  Sun, warmth, and my family.  Good stuff.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Gustatory pleasures

Discovering a new food

And a few words—We’re back!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Festive Fourth


I promised details about Washington, DC were next.  But I forgot that I have some fourth of July pictures that needed to be shared.  But it’s still a travel story, so there is that.

As of one week before the fourth of July, I fully thought we were going to be staying home by ourselves.  No grilling, maybe some fireworks downtown if we got our act together.  Then one of A.’s college roommates said he was coming to Chicago and wondered if he could drive up.

Bubbles and Badminton

Then a day or two later, the parents of one of the boys’ other roommates called to ask whether we wanted to come over.  Before we knew it, we were signed up for just the kind of laid-back, family-and-friends kind of fourth of our dreams.

And it was lovely.  Despite A.’s short memory when it came to transmitting some messages from our hosts, we all got to go swimming, I got some emergency strawberry shortcake supplies out, and a good time was had by all.

Until the fireworks.  The night of the third, our across the street neighbors were setting off some ground-based fireworks.  Peter and I went over to watch, and he was intrigued by the light and sound.  Our hosts for the fourth had a box of bottle rockets.  We were only able to launch two before the sheer terror exhibited by Peter overtook the pyrophiles’ fun.  Maybe next year.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

California on my mind

I’m going to play a quick catch up.  Peter and I have been on the road, having lots of adventures, and I want to get some of the memories down before they spill out of my mind.  First up, a Father’s Day visit to Father’s family in CA.

I think I’ve mentioned before our unfortunate life-planning in having a baby (the first grandchild on either side) immediately after moving far away from both of our families.  And while Peter has not lacked in the familial love department, it was high time to get ourselves out to visit A.’s side of the family in sunny southern California.

Baby on a Plane

The first set of plane trips were made without too much ordeal.  Peter, like his mother, loved the Biscoff cookies that Delta served.  But there was more excellent food to come!

My little Cuban boy

Cuban black beans, pork, and yucca!

Snoozing through his first beach trip

First trip to the beach.  My sweet mother-in-law found a cute lightweight stroller on Craigslist.  As you see, Peter is not riding in it.  We got to the beach and put him in the stroller, heading for a restaurant for some food.  He screamed.  We walked for several blocks like that, me assuring the family that he would settle in.  He did not.  Maybe he was just hungry.  Nope, did the same thing on the way out of the restaurant toward the beach.  Maybe he was just tired.  Nope, later in the week we tried during morning happy time.  No go.  I still have no idea why.

I suppose it’s another lesson about the best laid plans.  I was all set to at least take a dip in the water—I even asked the lifeguard who taught our Parent-Child swim class whether there was anything special we needed to know for ocean swimming.  And then he slept almost the whole time we were there (after the stroller fiasco, that is).  But it was still lovely and breezy, and Peter did wake up for long enough to watch the ocean for several minutes.

Our Morning outing

Morning happy time in California.  Probably around 5:30 or 6, which is not normally *my* morning happy time.  But we decided that it was easier to just stay on Eastern time rather than switching.  Peter was happy to oblige.  Until the last two days, when he switched to Pacific Time in one fell swoop.  Notice the super-stylish shorts, high socks, and sweater combination.

Other highlights/firsts?  Meeting his paternal great-grandparents.  Meeting the giant dog (my in-laws have an English Mastiff).  Meeting the tortoise (likewise, they also have a tortoise).  Spending quality time with grandparents and aunt/godmother.

Next up, Washington, DC!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Leaping before looking

We went into his bedroom this evening to find him sitting in the corner of his crib with his legs hanging out between the slats.  This seems to be a theme of his growing:  he is able to get himself into situations before he can get himself out of them.  Babies can sit before they’re able to move from sitting to laying down except by falling over.  They scale things before they figure out how to get back down.

Why, I wonder, is this?  To give adults practice running around rescuing children from their own newfound skills?  Or is leaping before looking one of those childlike traits that we are supposed to be learning as we “become as little children” on our way to the Kingdom of God?

When is radical trust, “stepping out in faith,” the highest good, and when is the shrewd manager the one to be emulated?

Monday, June 13, 2011

All kinds of firsts

Funny Faces

Today I walked into Peter’s room to find him sitting up in his crib.  He’s been practicing this sitting up maneuver for a while (most notably while I’m attempting to change his diaper), but this is, I think, his first real success.

As you can see from the photo above, he also has his two top teeth (the bottom two have been in for a little while).  After a couple of weeks looking snaggle-toothed, with only one top tooth (top left), the other came through a week and a half ago (the people at swim lessons noticed it for me).  It’s been catching up.

Peter’s had a runny nose for about a week now.  Nothing that seems to really bother him, except when he’s going to sleep at night.  Then he can’t fall asleep until we use the snot sucker, which wakes him right up.

Whether related to the congestion, the teeth, or neither, he’s also gotten really into making funny faces and sound effects.  Panting, nose scrunching, and tooth clicking are all in his repertoire.

He’s also getting ready to crawl.  I feel like I’ve been saying this for ages now, but I really think it’ll happen sooner rather than later.  With visits to or from both sets of grandparents and aunts in the near future, here’s hoping that we get to share this milestone.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Do you know how happy this makes me?

When you move it takes you a while to warm up to a place, at least in my experience.  Just ask my parents.  I spent longer than I care to admit claiming not to have any friends just to make them feel guilty about making me move to Tennessee right before I started high school.

But things like this help.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tiptoe through the tulips

Remove wooden shoes

Last summer we went to Europe with some friends and their daughter, my birthday buddy.  She was seven months old at the time.  In honor of her, for Peter Potamus’s seven month birthday, we took my mom to Holland.

Holland, Michigan, that is.  The Tulip Time Festival.  Etched in our imaginations from childhood readings of The Bobbsey Twins in Tulipland, Mom and I have been making plans ever since we learned that A. and I were moving to Michigan.  So, despite the fact that she’s barely been home, between tax season, heading to Florida immediately afterward, she came this past week to see the tulips, and as a tiny little bonus, get grandson snuggle time.

Mom and I went on Wednesday, toured Windmill Island with all of the retired people on bus tours, went to the quilt show, and found a spot on the sidewalk next to the bucket filling station for the Volksparade.  You see, before the official parade, there’s the streetcleaning.  Families who apparently have been the streetcleaners for generations walk down the street in costume with buckets of water and brooms, ostensibly sweeping the street clean.  The bucket filling station was a center of action.  We got a little wet from overenthusiastic bucket fillers, but it was hot, so we didn’t mind too much.  All the excitement got to Peter, and by the time we got back to the car, he looked like this:Tuckered out 

A. didn’t want to miss out on the fun, so we headed back on Saturday.  Unfortunately, the weather was not nearly so nice, so we got wet again, but this time it wasn’t so exciting.  But we did get to see the Dutch Dancers.  And another parade.

Watching the dancing

Now, just because this post would be incomplete without them, some tulips.

Not sure what I think of the black tulips

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I’m joining a knitalong

It’s really startling to me to count back and realize that I learned to knit 7 or 8 years ago.  Really?  Crazy.  And despite being aware of knitting blogs and knitalongs all this time, I’ve never joined one.

When I talked about my plan to no longer attempt to keep this as a craft blog, my friend pointed out that this was the reason we have slashes— a mom / craft / geeky / etc. blog is pretty fun.  And she’s right.  I like it when other people’s blogs cross those lines in the sand.

Case in point, this Baby Surprise Jacket knitalong.  Administered by Elizabeth Foss, an inspiring Mom/family/faith/homeschooling blogger if ever there was one, and who has just learned to knit in the last couple months.  And I love seeing her dive into it with her daughters.  So I’m diving in too.

I need to pick up the book from the library and swatch, but hopefully Peter Potamus will come out of it with his first knit-by-mommy sweater.  Yay!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

This is what I do for fun

Starry Dodecahedron

But really, the finished product (or, actually, draft), is nothing if not accompanied by this.

Math for fun

I was attempting to make the biggest pentagon possible on my tracing paper.  In the middle of the night.  While my child was crying.  Yes, this was the distraction/relaxation I chose when Peter Potamus was going through a rough sleeping patch and I sent his father in so I could take a little break.

Eleven tracing paper pentagons, some wire, fishing line, and complicated glue stick maneuvering, and we have a starry dodecahedron lantern.  It doesn’t light up because I haven’t found my paper lantern cord, and I think a second draft is probably in order.  But I’m still pretty happy.  Especially because I got to whip out SOH-CAH-TOA.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Unintentional bedtime catechesis

On Holy Thursday, the procession from the sanctuary to the “garden” (apparently properly called the altar of repose) was accompanied by a meditative chant.  It was a beautiful procession, and as short melodic phrases accompanying sentimental moments are wont to do, it wormed its way into my mind.

Since that time it has become part of Peter Potamus’s bedtime routine.  Soothing, calming, repetitive.  Good, right?

It wasn’t until last night that I actually thought about it and realized that maybe using the words “Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray, watch and pray” to lull my son to sleep wasn’t exactly the best message.  Oops.

Friday, April 29, 2011

First picture of the first teeth

Not a very good picture, granted, but you can see them!


By the way, this is what many of my attempted close-up pictures look like.  The boy is super interested in the camera at the moment.

Perhaps overly introspective

I just stumbled upon a really interesting conversation about what people don't say, mostly in-regards to quilting or blogs, or quilting and crafting blogs.  And it got me thinking about what I like in blogs, and what I want this space to be.  I read a fair number of blogs.  Perhaps Likely, too many.  They fall into a few main categories:  craft blogs, mom blogs (primarily Catholic mom blogs), blogs from people I know in person, and geeky blogs.

I think I started this blog thinking I had to be only one of those things, with perhaps a smattering of other topics.  My day-to-day life was not all that interesting, I thought, and I wanted to keep a log of my crafty projects, and a blog seemed the perfect forum.  Craft blog it is.

But I’m not so good at taking pictures.  And while I don’t mind blog posts without pictures, craft progress posts are, let’s face it, pretty boring.  And I have this fabulous baby, and he’s pretty interesting.  So I started (sometimes) participating in Wordless Wednesday, including pictures of the boy for his adoring fans.

And now I realize, I want to share more of that side of life.  So, I thought about starting another blog for family-life stuff.  But I don’t want to.  I guess for me it’s deciding that I’m not going to make decisions about what I put on the blog based on what I think other people would like to hear about or see.  I’m going to put things on the blog based on what I want to remember.  I want to remember the things I make.  I also want to remember the way the boy rolled back and forth last night while we were talking to my family on Skype.  Not going anywhere, just going back to front, then front to back ad nauseum.

At the same time, I haven’t figured out my personal boundaries.  About the only thing I’ve decided is that the boy will continue to use his secret identity, Peter Potamus.  And I’ll attempt to not post things that will be super-embarassing when he’s old enough to have a say for himself.

11F Peter Potamus11B Peter Potamus

But more links that I think are interesting?  More in-progress photos of craft projects?  More things that are totally out of order, because sometimes it takes me a long time to get pictures loaded and processed?  More cute pictures of the boy?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

trading card images: Fred Seibert

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is not here; for he is risen!

Easter joy

Isn’t he something?  Plus there’s a hat.  More on the outfit and gifts later.  Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wordless Thursday: Baby helps with laundry, again

Baby helps with laundry v. 2

Day late and a dollar short on this one.  Should be back soon with some more posts (Easter pants)!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mutual entertainment

Last weekend A. and I sorted through our closets, pulling out some of our spring clothes, and winnowing clothes that no longer fit, or just weren’t going to be worn.  Now we have a nice healthy pile of clothes to go to Goodwill or wherever, but I couldn’t help sorting through it first and pulling out some things for future projects.

Today I tore some pants into strips for a future picnic/outdoor quilt.  Luckily, my crafting companion seemed to think that the sound of fabric tearing was the. most. hilarious. thing. ever.

Fun with Fabric

I love how he startles at the beginning,  almost like this baby, who has been enjoying 15 minutes of fame lately.  Apparently his enjoyment of ripping sounds is not unique.  There are several YouTube videos (this one is my favorite—her dad rips up a job rejection letter), but they’re all ripping paper.  I actually tried ripping paper for him a week or so ago after I saw the videos, but no dice.

In the end, I ended up with a little higher stack of fabric, and the boy apparently ended up with a comedy show.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Boring, but useful

Wetbags and splat mat

My latest projects—two drawstring bags to hold the boy’s diapers (we’re a most-of-the-time cloth family).  Only I didn’t put drawstrings in them, as I figured it wasn’t necessary for our current set up, and that just ends up making their numerous trips through the washing machine more difficult.  Plus I used the laminated side as the right side (normal treatment is to use it as the wrong side).  Better to have as few nooks and crannies for poop to hide as possible, I say.

And there in the background, the simplest project of my life.  Oilcloth cut in a square, with some rounded corners for good measure to go under the boy’s high chair as we continue easing our way into solids.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Even grown ups need elf shoes sometimes

After I made some cousins tiny little elf shoes, I knew I would need some for myself someday.  And when we moved to Michigan, to a house with hardwood floors, I knew the time was nigh.  Yes, I’ve been slipperless for most of the time we’ve been here.  Yes, winter is ending.  Yes, I’ve managed quite nicely with a couple of pairs of wool socks.  But one of them was starting to wear through at the heels, and I’ve had these near my knitting needles for a while.  So.  Elf shoes.

Elf slippers v. 3

Elf shoes pattern.  Worked without the additional triangles around the top.  Pink mystery yarn from Woolcott’s.

After looking up my old post, I am now learning about the distinctions between “elven,” “elfin,” “elvish,” etc.  Oh, the joys of English!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Watching our country grow

At a U.S. naturalization ceremony watching Dad sing.


Email subscription

I finally looked into how to set up email subscriptions.  So, if you don’t subscribe to this blog using a feed reader, and you’d like to be notified when I post something, there’s now a widget on the sidebar over to the right.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Our birthday celebration

When I was growing up, you got to choose your birthday meal.  And you didn’t have to help set the table or do the dishes (oh, the luxury).  Well, not only did I choose A.’s birthday dinner, I made him help cook.

In my defense, he got to choose our breakfast (we went to a wonderful breakfast place in Grand Rapids, Wolfgang's), and I agreed beforehand to be in charge of cleanup.  Because, you see, I had grand visions for this dinner.  You see, A. is a displaced Californian.  And like many such specimens, he misses his fast food burger joint of choice, In-n-Out.  And since they don’t have any stores further than a one-day drive from their distribution center in California, they aren’t going to be opening a store in Michigan any time soon.  Earlier last week I saw an article about a guy ordering everything on the menu (they have a relatively simple menu, plus some “secret” options).  And, even better, there was a link to his previous In-n-Out experiment—making his own!

So, we caramelized onions

Caramelizing Onions

Ground our own beef (thanks Uncle Eric)!

Freshly ground beef

And together with American cheese from the deli, freshly made “spread,” and some lettuce and tomato, we feasted.

Our In-n-Out Experience

Of course, it was a bit of effort getting it all together, so we couldn’t eat just one.  But after two?  I sat down with the baby for a bedtime story and was looking through his basket of books, and saw The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  And so we read that one.  If only my overeating would ultimately result in my becoming a beautiful butterfly!  Or, at the very least, be relieved by eating some greens the next day.

Instead, the next day was reserved for the final part of the birthday feast:  the cake!

Carrot Cake

And here are my boys.  Peter Potamus dressed in a flannel-and-jeans tribute outfit just for his dad’s birthday.  A. doesn’t wear flannel all the time, so I smiled extra when he got up on his birthday and pulled out a flannel shirt.

A flannel birthday tribute

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why did no one tell me it was Daylight Savings Time?

I just got back from church, and am feeling rather silly.  Some times, I think, reminders are all over.  This time?  I heard nothing.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A very special day

I just wanted to wish my husband and sister a very happy birthday.

A., thanks so much for letting me celebrate your last “mid-twenties” birthday with you.  Thanks for working hard all day and still coming home wanting to play with Peter Potamus and me.  I’m so glad we’re a family.

C., I hope you had fun at the amusement park!  I miss you, and I’m proud of the work you’re doing.  I’m glad you’re my sister.

Details on our celebration (and why I felt like the very hungry caterpillar) later.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wordless Friday: Preparations

Um, I missed Wednesday.  Oops.


Monday, March 7, 2011

A failure of imagination

I’m normally pretty good at envisioning what my crafty projects will look like when they’re through.  Perhaps that’s why I have so many going at once—I get a glimpse in my head, and I have to start working on making it a reality at once.  But some projects require a bit more vision than others.  Because this:


while pretty, is way less cute than this:


And, to make it about 1,000 times cuter, add the little recipient:


Yarn is from alfabette zoope, a superwash wool in the colorway “Voyage.”  Pattern is the Stella Pixie.  The boy is all mine.

Thursday, February 24, 2011



Peter Potamous has a lot of cute clothes.  But he only wears probably a third of them.  Part of this is because, like everyone, I have my favorites, and I tend to pick them out over and over.  But part of it is because some of his clothes, while adorable, are just functionally not as great.  Short sleeves?  Require me to put on two onesies—one for the sleeves, one for the cute.  I’ll do it, I just won’t do it all that often. 

And t-shirts?  Also require an underlayer, but still ride up and just loose some of their cuteness when they’re hanging up around the boy’s armpits.  So, armed with some of the cuter t-shirts, and a supply of onesies that I bought for 50 cents each at the thrift store, I went about turning the t-shirts into onesies.

I cut off the crotch of the onesies about three inches above the leg holes.  Then I turned it wrong-side out, and slipped it into the t-shirt.  I zig-zagged them together, wrong sides together, the cut edge of the onesie underneath the hem of the t-shirt.  Then I pulled it out and zig-zagged again so the hem would lay flat.

There are lots of different ways you could attach the two pieces, but this way the raw edge is hidden by the seam of the t-shirt, and if it gets warmer and he’s running around with no pants, it completely obvious that he’s wearing a cobbled together onesie.  It looks intentional, I think.  I did the zig-zag in the hem of the t-shirt so it looks like decorative stitching for the same reason."Decorative" stitching

Now I need to figure out two things—what to do with the new cropped t-shirts that I have left over, and what to do about shirts with no snaps or buttons or anything to help getting them on over giant baby heads…