Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Shaun of the Dead, Puppy, Scarecrow and Princess

Nothing like the last minute

This morning was filled with a flurry of Halloween costume assembly. In years past, the kiddos have changed their minds up until the last minute. This year, they each remained strong about their costume ideas. We had the supplies for each costume, but some assembly was still required.

I pulled out a sewing machine (yes, I own more than one and love each of them). Benton and I worked on his design. He is a puppy this year. Some of you may remember when he was a dog a few years ago.
Halloween 2008 
This year we used black sweats coupled with a black knit hat. I added brown spots and ears. Benton showed me where to put his belly and decided his legs didn't need spots. I found the cat/dog tail in our dress-up bin and attached it to the ensemble. The whole assembly process took under 30 minutes.

The result:

Eamon's costume was a little trickier. He needed a scarecrow head. Burlap was his fabric of choice, but he decided felt was more practical when he felt the burlap on his face. He helped me fashion the hood. Paint was added and the whole outfit is rather macabre. We worked a bit more on it after he posed in the background for this shot.

Aine didn't need any help with her costume today. While the others were involved in a creative fashion, she pulled out the felt scraps to make a crown. She decorated it with paint, ribbon and buttons.
More photos later when we embark on our Halloween 2011 adventures.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Great Date

Yesterday I spent several hours with an amazing young man. We ran a few errands, ate lunch together, explored our town, visited a museum and had a fantastic time. I am lucky enough to have a date with this person every other month. Occasionally we have a few extra dates sprinkled sporadically, but I know I can count on at least this one time every other month.

My date was with my oldest son, Eamon. We were a few days late this month as we usually try to go out on the 25th (his birth date). I talked to him about my frustration with my last few dates with him and his siblings. It seemed like they were just excuses to spend money and not really time with one another. I didn't want to see a movie or visit the local indoor playhouse. Both are not really conducive to interactive play with your mom! We brainstormed what we could do together. Finally, I just asked him what he wanted to do if money was not an issue and a cranky mom wasn't saying, "no!" He quickly replied that he wanted to go to the park. Seriously??!?! Well, that is easy!

We started our day with a few errands talking all the time.  It was amazing to us both how quickly we accomplished the few things we had to do. Once the errands were out of the way, I took Eamon to the local sporting goods store. His soft football had been destroyed a few months ago, and if we were headed to the park together he needed a new one. With two new balls in hand, we ate a quick meal at Chipotle. Eamon selected the restaurant as his favorite. The meal meandered as we talked at length about all sorts of things. I think the favorite topic was Minecraft. With nowhere to be and no one else to worry about, we sat for a long time just chatting. (Admittedly I did knit a bit while we talked).

The yarn store was our next stop as it was on the way to the park. I wanted to find out what colors Eamon loves. I am making each of the kiddos a sweater for the holidays. He doesn't know about the sweater, so I couldn't be totally forthright with my plan. Since he is color-blind, I wasn't sure how accurate my interpretation of his color likes/dislikes would be. We walked around the store and he showed me his favorite red (it is a true red with a hint of orange - Cascade 220 Persimmon is his absolute favorite). He also pointed out his preferred black which outscores red by a smidge as favorite color. We left the yarn store and headed to the park.

Tempe Town Lake was out final destination. We parked near the art center and decided to check out the art museum inside and adjacent sculpture gallery. The current exhibit is entitled, Mixing it Up: Building an Identity.  We both really enjoyed it and talked a lot about the different mediums as well as subject matter. Once outside again, the new pedestrian bridge called to us. The bridge was finished recently and Eamon was eager to be the first in his family to walk across it. As we walked we spotted birds, fish, airplanes, and clouds. We paused a few times, when we heard nearby fireworks, to cheer on ASU. When we arrived on the north side of the bridge, we looked for an area to throw the football. As we looked, Eamon found a colony of rabbits. I was very touched when his initial reaction was a desire to show his brother and sister. He just knew they would love them! I think he was right. There were at least 20 rabbits hanging out by the buses on the grass.

We decided to walk back to the museum side of the lake to play catch. We tossed the ball for quite a long time. Eamon kicked it to me and I had to play quarterback returning the ball for a score. We laughed and ran around until dusk. Finally Eamon decided he was done. He said he missed his brother and sister and wanted to share this evening with them. He was having so much fun. Per Eamon it was the best date day ever! I had to agree, we had such a wonderful day. I am so glad I have these times together to really enjoy the person each of my children is becoming.

(Sorry, no pictures of our day. I left the camera at home and just lived the moments.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Aine, Benton and I took some empty glass containers and a bit of tissue paper and transformed it all into Halloween lanterns. 

First we cut green, orange and black tissue paper into squares and rectangles. Aine and I tried to make them 1-2 inches square for easier application. While Aine finished cutting, I mixed some glue for us to use. I combined equal parts water and glue to make a modge-podge type adhesive.

We each selected our glass jar and set to work. Aine made a witch. I made a pumpkin. Benton freestyled decorating the inside and outside of his jar.
(Eamon's room in the background - he paid me $5 the next day to clean it!)

We had to wash hands a few times as the glue concoction was sticky!
We even decorated the lids.

The containers sat outside overnight to dry. The pumpkin did well with a lighted candle, but the shape of the other containers required battery operated candle-lights. They are sitting in our window sending spooky images out to all who pass.

Happy Halloweeen!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making Do

While waiting for the yarn to arrive for Aine's stocking this week, I cast-on a few other projects. The main one was a scarf from some stash yarn. After making a couple pairs of baby socks a couple years ago, I still had approximately 350 yards of yarn. It made a nice sized shawl, which is going to be a gift this holiday season. The knitting went really quickly due to my current obsession. I haven't been reading much this week. I have been watching streaming television. I have been watching Friday Night Lights. Although I don't watch television, I have spent my evenings watching the old seasons on my laptop and knitting. I am seriously hooked. It is embarrassing. Hopefully next week, I will be back to the books and have a stocking to show everyone who visits for Ginny's Yarn Along.

"I am Making a Nest"

Monday, October 24, 2011

Yet Another Reason

why I love Ravelry...
This is Aine's stocking. It is the same pattern I used a few years ago when I made one for Benton. Notice the unfinished foot and toe area. I ran out of white yarn. Unfortunately Knitpicks is also out of the white yarn. It is on backorder until 12/31/11. 

Desperate for yarn to finish, I posted on about my dilemma and my search for the white bulky yarn. I had several replies within moments offering me skeins of the yarn. I bought more yarn from a fellow knitter, and it should arrive by the end of the week. With any luck, Aine's stocking will be done by the end of October. Woo Hooo! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Been Busy

* Knitting
* Baking
* Cooking
* Missing Dave while he travels
* Jumping on trampolines
* Enjoying the season
* Decorating
* Crafting
* And more knitting...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Empty Promises

I know I said I would talk buttons today, but I don't have any good pictures of my now finished (complete with buttons) February Lady Sweater. I will try to have Dave take a few photos this week. Today the most I can give is a little tease. A photo of the sweater right after I sewed the buttons on this week.
Knitting and Finishing as part of Ginny's Yarn Along
My knitting has been a bit crazy this week. Besides sewing buttons onto the sweater, I finished the birthday gift for my niece as I mentioned a few days ago. I also have been working on Aine's stocking. It is going fairly well, since it is a bulkier yarn. However, since it is colorwork, I need to pay a bit more attention to the charts. This doesn't make for good park day knitting or even good child rearing knitting.

I needed some plain knitting for these occasions, so I made Eamon a set of fingerless mitts and matching hat per his request. He loved the mitts so much he donned the first one as soon as it came off the needles.  He wore it so much that day he had felted the palm a bit when he returned it for sizing of the second. Fortunately he now has two. I made the hat on a whim since I still had more of the stash yarn. He selected a fuschia trim for his Thorpe hat and couldn't be more pleased.
Eamon's Mitt's and Tiny E's Earflap Hat as well as his new fox
While knitting, I have been listening to The Passage by Justin Cronin. I am almost finished. I am really enjoying the story although science fiction apocalyptic stories are not my usual read. The book moves along rather quickly, but could be a bit shorter (over 700 pages). I fear that the ending will not satisfy me as I read online that there are two more books in the works. Sometimes I wish every book weren't a trilogy. My print reading (since audiobooks don't count for some people) has mainly been children's books. I am reading part of the Penderwick series to my kiddos. They really enjoy the sisters' adventures with their friend, Jeffrey. Eamon likes it so much, he named his fox, in the above photo, Jane.

Sunday, October 09, 2011


A few projects have occupied my time this past week. The one that occupied the most mental space was a baby doll I started in April 2008. The doll has been completely knit for quite some time. Most recently I pulled her out to sew the limbs into place. This was back in February 2010. I also finished the dress and hair at this time. Unfortunately she was stuffed back into the closet unfinished. The problem? I hated her hair.

When I recently pledged to complete all my "works in progress," I pulled out the doll. The intended recipient was no longer the right age. I decided to give it to her younger sister who had a birthday coming soon. I asked a few friends what they thought. They gave me a few ideas, but I still wasn't sure what I would do. I began looking at what others had done on ravelry. I found hair I liked, so I knit it this past week. The new 'do looked so much better to me (Aine still thinks the other hair is superior). With new hair, my interest in the project was renewed. Today I embroidered eyes onto the face, sewed the hair to the head and then affixed the head to the body. The doll I started three and a half years ago is complete.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Plumb Worn Out

Benton fell asleep reading on his floor after a fun day out and about town.

Friday, October 07, 2011

I thought it was good

Potato and Spinach Hash Everyday Food 10/2011
Benton did too. The other two did not. In his defense, Dave had to work late. He did eat some of the leftovers. Oh well. There are always other recipes to try.

Thursday, October 06, 2011


After our planting foray, we have talked a bit about seeds. Aine wants to grow some seeds in paper to see what happens. Benton wants to plant more and more seeds everyday. I thought pictures from seeds would be neat.

We had done seed mosaics several years ago. No one remembered, so we did them again. I pulled out different types of seeds and a big container of glue. The kiddos set to work. Each created a unique masterpiece. I even joined in the fun with a jack-o-lantern (Apparently I am a one trick mosaic pony, since I did a pumpkin last time too).

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Our waiting has paid off. We have a few little sprouts in our garden.

The kiddos and I check the garden several times each day to make sure our crop is doing well. Benton still yearns to dig in the dirt, but has resisted this urge. He tries to remain content with a small watering can. We hope they continue to do well, so we will have a nice little bounty of spinach, chard and kale.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Just Shy of 6...years

Harvest Time Shawl 10/3/11 
I have had the Malabrigo yarn used in this shawl, since Aine was a wee one. It was purchased in October of 2005. I wanted to make a few pairs of longies for her, but I never did. I am not sure what other plans I had. In the past 6 years, I used some of the orange to make a hat and pair of mittens for Benton. I used the red for a hat for me. Some of the brown was used as well as scraps of the other colors to make a gift for my nephew. The rest I was waiting to use on the right project. I didn't have enough for anything large, but did not want to waste it on something too small.

Finally the right project came. While working on my single skein projects, I came across the Textured Shawl. I noticed that quite a few people had knit it in Malabrigo. It was perfect. The pattern could be customized to my amount of partial yarn skeins(approx 420yds). I also thought the simplicity of it would showcase the yarn well. The yarn is so very soft. If you have never used Malabrigo, you should. It will pill when used in some projects, but it is so deliciously soft.

The shawl came together very fast. I wasn't sure of the color combination, but I am so pleased. It seems perfect for cooler weather. The shawl was quite wonky when I finished due to the difference in the two stitch patterns. It definitely needed blocking. I soaked it today and set it out on the top bunkbed. It blocked beautifully. The lines are fantastic and it is still super soft on my skin. It was a success!

My next project is a stocking for Aine. It will be similar to the one I made for Benton two years ago. It is colorwork, so it requires a bit more of my attention. Since it won't work for park day knitting, I have cast-on another couple easy projects. I am working on a birthday gift as well as fingerless mitts for Eamon (thanks, Ginny and her Yarn Along, for the idea).

While knitting this shawl, I have been listening to The Passage by Justin Cronin. I am about halfway through the book. It is not my typical read, but I find it quite engaging and frightening. I finished Ellis Island, but have yet to get engrossed in a new "real" book. I started The Elegance of the Hedgehog last night, but fell asleep before I made it very far. Too much knitting and not enough reading here!

Next week, I promise to show you Eamon's Pokemon button as well as my February Lady Sweater complete with buttons. Did I mention that I hate button shopping? Buttons can change the entire look of the sweater or finished item. It seems like such a big commitment. How do you decide what buttons complete your projects?

His First Pie and an Impromptu Picnic

Eamon loves to cook. He will often offer to make his own food. Some evenings when presented with my dinner plan, he will suggest that he make the meal. His version is often met with bigger smiles than mine.

This weekend, he decided that he would make a peach pie. Undeterred with only nectarines in the cupboard, he forged ahead with plans for an apple pie. He eagerly pulled out a jar of apple pie filling that I had canned last fall. We agreed that it was a good idea. He opened the jar and tested it to ensure quality (he loves the apple pie filling and would eat it by itself most days).

I am not a pie maker, so I suggested he consult one of my cookbooks. The Joy of Cooking was his pick. He flipped to the pie section and quickly began reading and collecting ingredients.

He poured, measured and mixed. I showed him how to cut in the butter and add ice water. He did it all with finesse. I am sure his great grandmothers would be proud. Once he had the dough prepared, he was ready to build his pie. He was a bit disheartened to learn that the dough needed to chill, but was consoled with some time outside at the park.

When the time came to roll out the dough, Eamon was busy. Several attempts to entice his help were ignored, so I rolled out the bottom crust. He slowly meandered into the kitchen amazed at what I had done. With the rolling pin procured at a yard sale by my father, he set to work on the top crust. We decided on a leaf motif on the top created with a few cookie cutters. It is fall now even in Arizona.

We filled the shell with the jar of pie filling and carefully set the leaves on top. Eamon sprinkled a bit of sugar and cinnamon on the leaves as well. I showed Eamon what to do with the leftover pieces of dough. As I explained the process, I let him know that this is the part I remember best about my mom making pies. She would let us slather the leftover pieces with butter and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar. He made the leftovers into a few hearts to share with his brother and sister.

Eamon watched the baking of that pie like a proud parent. He chastised me a bit about burning the leaves. I explained that it was just the cinnamon and it should not affect the flavor. We let the pie cool and decided to wait to eat it later in the day. (It looks much browner in this picture than in reality).

On a whim, I decided to take the kiddos to the park with our pie and dinner. With our blanket spread out we enjoyed a bit of pork, applesauce and Eamon's pie. It was a glorious evening of cool weather and wonderful food. Everyone gave Eamon's pie a thumbs up. He was so very pleased.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

She loves playing mancala and will challenge whoever wants to play. Sometimes she breaks for a bit to work on "math" in a nearby notebook.