Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vivian, the dork

Vivian, the dork
Originally uploaded by Handy Crafts

Picture taken at Ruby's in Cabazon. The kids menu had a 3-D section, complete with glasses. However, the glasses did not have earpieces-you just had to hold them up to your eyes. Vivian did not like this at all, and insisted that I make the glasses stay up.

This was my solution. I pulled the rubber band out of my hair, and pulled her bangs into a small ponytail. I then attached the clip for my work ID badge onto the rubber band and the glasses.

It worked, and she was happy, but she looks like a giant dork. But a happy one, and that's what counts when you're a parent who is just trying to have a nice, quiet meal in a restaurant.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not a One-Craft Girl

Sometimes I wonder exactly why I never seem to finish as many projects as some of my friends. My list on Ravelry of completed projects hasn't been added to in months, and my cheerfully optimistic idea to start on Christmas presents early is still not acted on.

Why can't I get more done?

Gee, it couldn't be due to the sheer number of crafts I try to undertake at one time, could it? Let's see: knitting, crocheting, quilting, sewing clothes, cooking and now canning. Oh, and learning a musical instrument.

I'm working on a knitted gift that I will hopefully be able to post about next month (and which actually may be done before the birthday of the person I'm making it for! Shocking, I know). I'm working on a doll quilt for an internet swap (due to be sent out tomorrow-ha!), as well as two virtual quilting bees (it's my month in one of them, so I actually only have one block due this month). And Halloween is quickly approaching, and I just bought fabric and a pattern for Viv's costume. Add that to the fact that I want to make some fall clothes for me & Vivian, and I feel like I am a mess!

I have finally completed something that I can show off, though: Vivian's big girl bed quilt. I started on this several months ago, before she moved out of her crib and into the toddler bed. I finally finished over the weekend, and can make a big check mark next to this item on my to-do list!

Viv loves her new quilt! I love making things for her because she's so appreciative. "My mommy made it for me!" I know this state my not last forever, so I'm taking advantage of it while I can.

I've also been making good strides with canning. I made plum jam with cinnamon -- 6 lbs. resulted in 6 pints of yummy jam. So tasty and easy. I really love doing this, taking advantage of the fact that here in California, we are overwhelmed with an abundance of quality produce.

I just have to come to terms with the fact that I am not a one-craft girl. What's that saying? "Jack of all trades, master of none?" Oh well. I do love mixing up my crafts. I never get bored! So I will continue to work on 18 different projects at one time, but I guess, ultimately, I'm ok with that. It is an awful lot of fun!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Yes I Can!

Reading the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is rather intimidating. They (rightly so) hammer home the importance of sterility and proper techniques, so you know, you avoid botulism and other nasty contaminations. But I'll be honest, the book frankly scared me out of canning for more than a year. It just made it seem like canning was something I just wasn't cut out to do.

But two weekends a go, I went to a canning demonstration at Surfas, put on by the people behind the Saving the Season blog. And despite almost going postal on a woman who got on my case because Vivian was crying, it was very helpful, if only because it showed me that canning is not, in fact, rocket science.

Fast forward to this last weekend. We went up to Kingsburg to visit the family, and while there, we took a side trip to the Fresno State Farmers Market. While there, I picked up 8 lbs of fresh peaches to can. Monday night, I finally decided it was time. I followed the rustic peach jam recipe on StS, and added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of ginger. And after much tribulation and swearing (the darn skins would not slip off the peaches!), here is what I ended up with:

No, not the cans of PBR. Six pints of jam! I didn't add pectin, and frankly some websites scared me about cooking the jam past the jell point, so it's rather loose. More like chunks of peaches in a thick syrup. But I think it tastes divine!

Hearing the jar lids pop to signal that they are properly sealed was like music to my ears!

Now I just have to think about what I want to put up next. Hmm, plums are in season...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Feeding the Ducks

Originally uploaded by Handy Crafts

Vivian's method for feeding the ducks and geese at Echo Park Lake = one for them, one for me, one for them, two for me, one for them, three for me...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Yum. That's it. Yum.

On Saturday, Viv & I went to lunch at Spring Street Smokehouse. OMG, I don't have words. My mouth is watering as I write this. I had the pulled pork and Viv really enjoyed the red beans & rice (and my french fries).

If you are in the L.A. area, go.

Go now.

I'll wait.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Today, I am 33 years, 9 months and 12 days old. Not exactly a milestone age, but I feel like I am at a key time in my life. I am happy and settled in my personal relationships, comfortable in my roles as wife and mother. I am intellectually challenged at my job, and yet remarkably at ease. And even my financial situation is looking up, at least from where we had been the last eight months, as Richard has a new job.

And so, I feel like it's a good time to start thinking about what I want for the next stage of my life. It's time to start thinking about what I want to be when I grow up, or at least when I grow older.

Today, I am starting a new project: 40x40. An ongoing list of the 40 top things I want to have done by the time I turn 40. Some of the things on the list will be big, some will be little. But it's time I started taking control of the course of my life.

Drumroll, please...

Top 40 Things I'd Like to Do by the Time I'm 40
  1. Have the 9-course tasting meal at the French Laundry. It’s $240 per person and takes a year or so to get a reservation, but I think well worth the money and the wait.
  2. Dye my hair bright pink. I had promised myself I would do it when on maternity leave with Vivian, but somehow I never got around to it.
  3. Learn to play a musical instrument.
I've already started making progress on #3. Richard has a plethora of musical instruments lying around the house, some of which he plays regularly, but many he doesn't. The acoustic guitar and bass are used often, but he also has an electric guitar, keyboard, mandolin and steel guitar. Rich has tried to teach me guitar and bass before, but I could never get comfortable with the instruments. They felt big and bulky and I couldn't wrap my hands easily around the necks.

This time, I've decided to learn to play the mandolin. I've only been working on this for a few days, but I'm really enjoying it so far. The scale of the instrument feels more natural. Right now, I'm just trying to get comfortable with plucking and strumming, working on scales and one song. Richard found the mandolin tabs for "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," which is a very simple song. It also helps that it's a song I know and actually like (I'm more eager to practice it than say, Three Blind Mice).

By the way, it's amazing how many free resources there are online to learn how to play a musical instrument! YouTube has lots of tutorials on how to play the mandolin. Rich is getting me started with the basics, and then I can go to the internet for more specific steps. If I really decide to stick with it, I'll then see about getting actual lessons.

I've only listed my first three, but will update with more of the 40 goals in the future. I'm going to try to document my progress on these 40 goals here on the blog. It's time to take charge of what is happening in my life!

Is there anything you've wanted to do, but haven't? Isn't it time to start?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's alive!

Yes, I'm alive. I haven't been blogging much because when I went on vacation, I just got out of the habit. And everyday, I'd think about blogging, but wouldn't know where or when to begin, so then I would just put it off entirely.

But I'm back, so, moving on...

I haven't been writing, but I have been crafting. While up in Tahoe, i think I caught a bug. The sock bug.

For years, i just didn't understand the sock knitting thing. People are obsessed with knitting socks. The patterns seem to dominate some knitting magazines, and I didn't get it. I live in sunny Southern California, where I only need to wear socks maybe 2 months out of the year. And I had an aversion to small needles. I liked fast and funky projects that were very wearable. Who wears wool socks in Los Angeles?

But then a friend made me a beautiful pair of knit socks in a gorgeous pumpkin orange and brown yarn. And then another friend gave me a pair that she had knit but didn't fit her. And those wool socks were... comfortable. And warm when I wanted them to be warm, and yet airy and breathable when I was hot.

So I understood the desire to have hand knitted socks, but I wasn't sure I wanted to put the time into making them. It seemed tedious. I tried crocheting socks, to see if that would make the project go faster, but I got 3/4 of the way done with the first sock and then got distracted. It wasn't until I was packing for Tahoe and grabbed the neglected project bag "just in case" I finished the sweater I was working on.

Here's a newsflash: a big project bag with a half-finished wool sweater is not what you want to be taking to the beach. Or pulling out to work on in the car. Or shoving into your purse before heading over to a friend's house.

The sweater is still half-finished. But the socks? I managed to finish those on the drive home.

I've already started on my first pair of knitted socks. They are fun and very portable -- the project bag, including the magazine with the pattern, fits into my purse no problem. While I wouldn't say I'm obsessed yet, I think I definitely understand the attraction to sock knitting.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Birthday Roundup

I am happy to report that Vivian thoroughly enjoyed her birthday activities. On Sunday, we took her to Griffith Park to ride the train. When the train pulled into the station, she got so excited, I thought she would burst!

After the train ride, we took her over to the ponies. I wasn't sure she was big enough, but there were plenty of kids smaller, so we couldn't refuse her. She was in heaven.

There was a larger pony track where the ponies walk around untethered, and Viv was so excited that, once again, we couldn't say no.

She looks so big, I almost cried. Well, then she DID cry when the ride was over. A lot. Cried.

At least until we bought her a pinwheel. Simple tastes.

On Monday, her actual birthday, we gave her two of her presents (her big present is saved until her party this Sunday). The first was a toddler-sized broom, which she promptly used to sweep up the living room (not really, but wouldn't that be awesome?). The second, was Dino.

I made Dino for Viv and am happy to say that she loves him. She takes him to bed every night and is intrigued by his nose and belly button. I'm so happy that she actually likes something I made for her -- it's kind of a rare feeling!

We're leaving for Lake Tahoe tomorrow morning and will be up there for nine days. I can't wait to smell the pine trees and relax on a beach.

Happy Fourth of July!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Birthday Girl

The most incredible girl in the world is turning 2 today! I can't believe it's been two years since she made her entrance into the world (6 weeks early). It has been such an amazing time and I feel so incredibly blessed to be her mom.

Happy Birthday Vivian!

Vivian at her daycare celebration for her birthday. If you couldn't guess by watching, she likes frosting!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An Open Letter to a Helicopter

To the Helicopter that Buzzed My Apartment 5 Times at 1:30 a.m. This Morning,

I don't normally address letters to modes of transportation, but today I feel compelled. I'm sure you have a busy job, what with the taking off, circling in the air and landing. However, was it absolutely necessary to fly low and long over my apartment multiple times at 1:30 a.m.?

I had been asleep for about two hours, and I really needed it. But the loud hovering not only woke me up, but it also woke up and scared my daughter. My lovely husband then got up and brought her into our bed in an effort to calm her down. However, by this time, she was wide awake and proceeded to roll around for 1 1/2 hours. By the time she finally fell asleep around 3 a.m., I was wide awake. I think I was finally able to get back to sleep around 3:30.

I really hope you were following a violent criminal and making sure he/she didn't get away to terrorize more people. If you were just following Lindsay Lohan on her latest coke-fueled jaunt around Los Angeles, I would be really mad.

Thank you for your attention. You can now return to monitoring gridlock over the 405.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday -- The Knitting Lesson

From the George Eastman House Collection
McCall's Magazine, 1940

I wonder whether Vivian will inherit any of my crafty inclinations. Many of my friends who had moms who sewed/knitted/etc. had no desire to learn themselves. They didn't have to—if they wanted something made for them, their mom did it. I hope she is crafty, as I would love for us to have a common interest as she gets older. I also find think there are so many benefits: a creative outlet, a calming influence, a social activity.

She does try to play with my yarn when I'm knitting or crocheting. And she likes to watch me sew, and sometimes picks out a fabric she likes from my stash and running around the apartment with it (her current fav is a cat print that I bought to make her an outfit, but haven't got around to it yet).

Maybe there is hope for her yet.

More of Vintage Photo Friday at Paper Dolls for Boys.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Live Piecefully - June

Sometimes I am too ambitious. Sometimes I have grand ideas that will never translate to reality. Sometimes, I just bite off more than I can chew.

But sometimes, sometimes it actually works.

When I joined the Live Piecefully virtual quilting bee a few months ago, my goal was to push my sewing and quilting skills and creativity further. Instead of having to sew and piece and entire quilt of squares at once (and in the same fabric, over and over), the bee gives me the freedom to experiment with new techniques and designs (and fabrics), a little bit at a time.

June is the first month of the bee, and Kat, the bee's organizer, was the first "queen bee" who sent out her chosen fabric to us "worker bees." She chose Tina Given's Treetop Fancy line in a raspberry colorway. It is beautiful fabric, but I was worried that, given the large scale of the print, it would be difficult to piece in an aesthetically pleasing way. I was also worried by the fact that there were no solids to contrast with the beautiful prints.

Kat's choice for her quilt fabric

When I received the fabric, I started playing around with the design. I had volunteered to make two blocks, so had a bit more fabric to play with. I sketched out eight different designs before I picked two that I wanted to focus on.

When I quilt, I really don't work from patterns. I just seem to work best in an improvisational way. But given that this wasn't MY fabric, and there was a finite amount, I really had to be careful! So for my first design -- a modified sunburst-esque look -- I actually sketched my designs out in muslin and cut out the pieces and numbered them so that all the different strips would actually fit together and in the right order.

When it came to finally cutting out my fabric, I was convinced that I had done it wrong and was just making a huge mess. I've never quilted curves, and of course, I had a cut-out circle making up one of the corners. Gah!

But like I stated at the top, sometimes it all just works out.

I'm really happy with how everything turned out. They aren't perfect (the solid pink border on the sunburst square was added because after trimming wonky edges, the quilt square was 3/4" too small), but I think they really show off the beauty of the fabric. The squares are each 12.5" and will eventually be pieced together by Kat with squares made by the other members of the bee. I can't wait to see the finished project!

I now just need to send these blocks off to Kat and wait until the July "queen bee," Shorty, sends off our next fabric. I think I'm hooked.

To see more of the Live Piecefully quilt blocks made so far, visit our Flickr page.

Friday, May 29, 2009


From the George Eastman House Collection.

We are dealing with some serious June gloom this week. I know that when it's 94 degrees in September, I will miss this misty morning stuff, but right now, I just want some summer!

Sorry for the break in posting, but I just can't get motivated to blog lately. I've been pretty crafty, though, and will hopefully post some progress over the weekend.

More of Vintage Photo Friday at Paper Dolls for Boys.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday -- Prom Night

Oh, prom night. So many expectations that are so often dashed on the jagged rocks of reality.

But not mine. I got exactly what I came for.

A fun night with friends, a chance to dress up, and a slumber party. Can you get much better than that?

I went with my friend Peter (also known as "Tweety," a nickname that he hates to this day). Yes, he's wearing shorts. It was the early 90's. And to be fair, he told me in advance that he would wear shorts, and all I asked was that he bring the pants to wear in our "couple" photos (don't know what happened to those...)

My friends in high school were known as the White Mafia -- a name given to us by our chemistry teacher. My dad ordered a limo for us, and we headed out for an Italian dinner before heading to the big dance. After the prom, we headed over to Emily's (seated on the left) house where we had a slumber party and watched Fantasia.

I loved my dress. It was a black velvet Morticia-style gown that fit like a glove. I was hot, if I do say so myself. End of high school beginning of college was probably my best time, appearance-wise. Good thing I met Richard then!

Speaking of Richard, despite the fact that we met in college, we actually got to go to his high school prom together. He had gone to college a year early, so our freshman year of college was also technically his senior year of high school. We started dating in December 1993, our freshman year, so when prom night came around in May 1994, he decided to go back to his high school prom.

I felt so grown up, being a college girl going back to a high school prom. But we were so young!

I found my dress on sale at Ann Taylor and thought I was so sophisticated. The evening was a lot of fun, and at least this one did have the fairy tale ending, as 8 years later, we were married!

More Prom Night photos can be found at Woolanthropy. Thanks to Natalie for organizing this particular trip down memory lane!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Riding the wave

I have been on quite the sewing kick lately. My crafty tendencies seem to come in waves -- I'll do nothing but knit for weeks, and then, all of a sudden I have the uncontrollable urge to do something... else. I've got two sweaters under way that I have almost no desire to work on. In the last three weeks, the only knitting I've done is at my weekly SnB.

But sewing is another matter. In the last few weeks, I have been churning out projects right and left. I made the pink hat featured in my Hat Trick post, and last night made a blue version for Viv, complete with a red band and white/red flower (pics to come later).

Here's a top that I made Vivian a couple of days ago, using leftover fabrics from the quilt I'm making for when she graduates to a toddler bed.

A side note about how awesome my daughter is. She seems to understand what it means when I say I'm making something for her. Lately, she comes into my sewing room/closet when I am working and giggles, saying "loud!" She even dragged me to my sewing machine, saying "more loud? I like loud." It makes me feel warm & fuzzy inside when she really seems to enjoy the things I make her (like this top, which she refused to take off, even though I only put it on her to make sure it fit). OK, done with cheesy parent pride.

I'm also doing more quilting, and trying to put more care and precision into my work. Since I really don't work from patterns and instead just improvise, I'm not always careful with the little things that can make a big difference in the appearance of the quilt. These would be tasks like remeasuring all blocks after assembly to make sure they are all the same size (just because they were the same before final piecing doesn't mean they still are), trimming wonky edges, etc.

Here's my latest quilt/blanket that I improvised for Vivian. I originally bought the shaggy minky backing fabric to line Viv's winter coat, but it never gets cold enough to warrant a lined coat here. The fabric was languishing in a bag in my closet until Viv pulled it out. She loved the soft feeling so much she started dragging it around the house. That's when I knew I had to finally make something with it. The quilt does not have a true quilt "sandwich," there is no batting. It's just a pieced quilt top with the minky back. Because of the nap of the minky, I tied the quilt, rather than sewing. I took extra care to make sure the squares lined up and everything fit just so. I'm really happy with how it turned out!

She likes it! She really likes it!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vintage Photo Monday - Happy (late) Mother's Day

My mom, Susan, circa 1982

Dear Mom,

Thank you.

Thank you for your patience. Thank you for not laughing at me (too much) when I insisted on buying hideous clothes or getting awful hair cuts. Thank you for attending the many dance recitals, speech competitions and school plays with nary a complaint. Most of all, thank you for being my mom, in good times and bad. It's only because of you that I'm able to be the mom that I am to Vivian.

Thank you.


More of Vintage Photo Friday at Paper Dolls for Boys.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Live Piecefully

Live Piecefully
Originally uploaded by Ripping Out Seams

I have joined my very first virtual quilting bee, Live Piecefully, organized by Kat from Ripping Out Seams. I'm very excited about this, as I always seem to find out about these things after sign ups have closed. I hope this will help me advance my piecing skills and push my creativity. I'm sure I'll be posting about my progress in the bee here over the next year.

Kat is looking for people to fill out Live Piecefully 2, so if you're interested, visit her blog:

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hat Trick

Originally uploaded by Handy Crafts

The trick being that
1) Vivian actually loves something that I made for her, and
2) The something is a hat, which is something she used to refuse to wear ever.

She never wants to take this off. Which is a good thing, given that we live in Southern California, where it is sunny about 300 days a year, and she has very fair skin. Anything I can do to help prevent sunburns is a good thing!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday—Grandpa

I have been MIA here at the blog for the last couple of weeks, but I wanted to get back on the horse today with a Vintage Photo Friday post.

At Disneyland, circa 1980. That's me sitting on my Grandpa Reeve's shoulder, and my mom with the floppy hat. My overriding memory of him was of his great laugh—a little high and nasally, but joyous. My Grandpa's name was Bliss, which I never thought was odd until I was a teenager and realized it was a word and not exactly a common name. Vivian's middle name is Bliss, in his honor.

I'm not sure where the name Bliss came from. My grandfather's siblings had very normal names like Ruth and Laura. My great-grandfather was a very religious preacher, so maybe there was a heavenly connotation?

In the last few years of his life, he moved in with my dad. Because my grandpa was in the Navy fighting in the Pacific when my dad was born, he didn't see my dad until he was a year old. I always got the feeling that with six younger brothers, my dad never got the attention from his parents that he probably wanted as a kid. But the last couple of years that my dad had with my grandpa seemed to almost make up for that early lack.

More of Vintage Photo Friday at Paper Dolls for Boys.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday—Water Baby

Sara & Dad, circa 1976. Hanging out with Dad in the pool.

With Vivian's curly hair, people always say that she looks like Richard. No one can ever see me in her.

Vivian at the beach, 2008

But I can see me in her.

More of Vintage Photo Friday at Paper Dolls for Boys.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Viv & Robert

Viv &Robert

One of the coolest things about having kids is watching them develop relationships with the people around them.

This photo was taken on Sunday, after Vivian finished looking for Easter eggs in her granny's back yard. She's sitting on the swing with her uncle Robert.

As is completely obvious in this photo, she has him wrapped around her little finger, and thoroughly enjoys it. He doesn't seem to mind, either.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Vintage Photo (Object) Friday—The Mission Book

The majority of my photos are buried in my garage, so this week, I'm doing another Vintage Object post for Vintage Photo Friday. As today is Good Friday, I thought that it was a good time to highlight my great-great-great-grandmother's Catholic Mission Book (published in 1878).

Let me first say that I am not religious at all, but this book has been passed down to the oldest child (more or less) since it belonged to Hannah Cook, who was born in Ireland in 1849.

There is something almost overwhelming about seeing your name as part of this unbroken line. And it's even more powerful seeing my daughter's name as part of that line.

I don't think the book has actively been used as anything other than a family memento since my grandmother Patricia was a girl. The book has several colorful cards with a religious theme.

I think this card was given to my great-grandmother, Jeanette Hutley (sp?) Fahlbusch. (Dad, does that sound right to you?) While the religious nature of the book doesn't hold much significance for me, the fact that this book was passed down from mother to son, father to daughter, and from my dad to me, and from me to my daughter, makes it a treasure.

More of Vintage Photo Friday at Paper Dolls for Boys.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Too much work to do, and of course, I'm stalling by writing here. Well, not really writing, just posting photos...

I got a haircut! I went to the Aveda Institute in Westwood, and paid only $19 (and a $5 tip that went to charity). And, ok, the cut took almost THREE HOURS, which is patently ridiculous for a simple bob and bangs (even if it did include a wash, dry, style, neck rub and mini-facial), but the student-stylist was super paranoid about cutting it too short. You pay for what you get, either in cash or time, and right now I have more time than I do cash.

The bangs are too long, but it was like pulling teeth to get the stylist (and her instructor) to get them to cut them this short. I guess they think everyone wants bangs that hang in their eyes like an Olsen twin or something. Sorry, I'm not a celebutante—I'm a 33-year-old mom of a toddler who doesn't want to spend all her time sweeping her bangs out of her eyes.

I have been working on my Easter-related crafts. If the weather is nice on Sunday, Viv will wear this little sweater over an adorable navy blue (with white & green daisies) sundress.

And this is what happens when Viv get a hold of the peanut butter jar:

I tried to give Viv crackers with a bit of peanut butter spread on them. She outsmarted me and just licked the peanut butter off, handing the crackers back to me and saying, "More?"

And here is a shot showing many of the things that Viv loves: her pony, her bike helmet, and wearing mommy's shoes.

And here is one of the Easter crafts I've finished: fabric flower brooches for Viv. I have several vintage metal flower brooches that Vivian loves. I wanted to make one for her that was a bit more toddler-safe. But how do you create a safe brooch? Annika came to the rescue with the idea to use diaper pins, which have a locking mechanism, so Vivian can't accidentally poke herself. Hurray! These flowers were made based on this tutorial:

I've finished a couple more Easter crafts for Vivian's basket, but haven't photographed them yet. I'll probably get some photos of them this weekend.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday—Olan Mills

The Manfredi kids, 1984. From left, Robert, JoAnn, Linda & Richard.

I guess 25 years makes a photo vintage, right? I love this photo because it is such a time capsule of suburban life in the early eighties. The glasses so big they look like they might sprout wings and fly away. The Olan Mills bayou plantation background, complete with random wagon wheel prop. JoAnn's Little House on the Prairie-style dress. Linda's girl mullet. Richard's velour polo. Bob's yellow & pink stripes.

I can't make too much fun of this photo because they are my in-laws (and husband, but he was adorably cute, even in the eighties). Plus, there are plenty of bad hair cuts and questionable outfit choices in my past, especially from the eighties. But that's something for another Vintage Photo Friday.

So for now, I can laugh. And hope that, in 25 years, I'm not looking at our current family portraits and wondering, "what was I thinking?"

More of Vintage Photo Friday at Paper Dolls for Boys.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Little Bunny Fou-Fou: Easter memories

This is the first year that Viv will be able to appreciate Easter in all its non-religious glory -- baskets, bonnets, chocolate eggs and, of course, that Bunny. When I was a kid, Easter had a very specific ritual:

7:00 a.m. Wake up and pounce on the basket that the Easter Bunny had left at the foot of my bed.

7:15 a.m. Start bouncing off the walls as the sugar from the various chocolate and marshmallow candies kicks in.

8:00 a.m. Fall asleep on a bed of plastic Easter grass as the sugar high crashes down.

8:30 a.m. Have Mom start taking out the pink foam hair rollers.

9:00 a.m. Put on fluffy Easter dress and take picture with sisters on the lawn (along with whatever our "big" toy from the Easter baskets were that year -- I remember Cabbage Patch dolls figuring significantly in those photos)

9:15 a.m. Drive with the family to my grandmother's country club.

10:00 a.m. Jump up and down on the Easter Bunny's lap (who was actually probably a poor teenager who was conned into this sorry job).

10:30 a.m. Try not to get run over by the older boys during the Easter egg hunt on the country club lawn (those kids were vicious, and probably ended up as second-string linemen for the San Jose Saber Cats)

11:00 a.m. Get in line for the brunch buffet. Skip the poached salmon in gloppy hollandaise and head straight for the dessert bar.

2:00 p.m. Finally leave the country club. Race to take off the tights and uncomfortable shoes.

This year, we're heading up to Kingsburg to celebrate Easter with the extended Manfredi clan. One or another of Richard's aunts and uncles always have big family holiday celebrations, but we never seem to attend because they just never seem to match up with our travel schedule. But this time, we're determined to do it.

I've had these grandiose ideas about all the crafty projects I'm going to do for Vivian for Easter, and then, last night, I realized that Easter is NEXT WEEKEND. Crap.

So here are the projects I want to do. We'll see how many of them actually get done by next Sunday.

Bunny Hat & Paw Mittens
Soft Easter Basket
Recycled Cashmere Bunnies (I have a tattered pink pashmina somewhere that would be perfect for this)
Chibi Rabbit
Fabric Easter Eggs
Wintertime Teddy (with long ears to turn it into a bunny)
Amigurumi Birdies

If I actually get two or three of these done in the next week, I will be thoroughly pleased with myself. I'll probably focus on those that I already have the materials for, i.e., the basket, the cahmere bunnies, the chibi rabbit and maybe the bunny hat. I have actually finished an adorable little crocheted sweater for Viv to wear on Easter, but I haven't uploaded the photos yet.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fun in the sun

No matter what some people say, sometimes it's good to be in California.
At Mother's Beach, Marina del Rey, March 28, 2009.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Vintage Photo (Object) Friday—The Notebook

I wasn't able to locate the box of photos I wanted to scan for today, so I'm posting a photo of a vintage object, rather than a vintage photo.

In October, my grandmother passed away. In January, my mom and aunt went up to my grandmother's house to go through all her possessions to decide what to sell at an estate sale, what to hang on to and what to distribute to the grandkids.

I was lucky enough to receive several items, such as my grandmother's collection of hats and gloves, one of my great-grandmother's fancy dresses, and one of my grandmother's framed needlepoint pictures.

As the only knitter in my family (both of my sisters crochet, but neither of them knit), I was given my grandmother's knitting basket. And inside the basket, along with some vintage knitting magazines and an unfinished pair of socks, was this notebook.

It's filled with knitting patterns and notes, all in my grandmother's handwriting.

I don't remember my grandmother knitting when I was a child. When I was young, she was more focused on needlepoint, with some sewing thrown in. But I do have one fisherman's style sweater that she knitted.

This notebook feels so personal to me. I alone, out of all my family can decipher the symbols and shorthand of knitting (well, Jenny could probably understand it, but she doesn't do it). It just feels like this notebook is a special talisman from my grandma meant just for me.

In a practical sense, this little notepad isn't worth anything. But emotionally, it's priceless to me.

More of Vintage Photo Friday at Paper Dolls for Boys.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring Awakening

To me, nothing says spring food like asparagus (well, and Cadbury Mini Eggs, but that's for another post). When I saw asparagus at the Larchmont Farmer's Market on Sunday, I had to buy a couple of bunches. I didn't know what I was going to do with them until I saw this post over at The Kitchn about asparagus tarts.

Tonight, I decided to attempt the Bon Appetit recipe for Asparagus-Ricotta Tart with Comte Cheese. And oh. my. god. This was amazing.

I subbed in 8 oz. of Neiman Ranch ham steak for the salami, to make the tart more substantial. The tart has asparagus in every bite because you puree the bottom half of the stalks with the cheese and egg. Trader Joe's carries both frozen puff pastry and comte cheese. So yummy!

What says springtime food to you?

Walking after midnight in a new skirt

If I try really hard, I can actually finish a crafty project or two. It doesn't happen every day, but sometimes I just need to hunker down and finish something.

Drumroll, please...

I give you the Walking After Midnight crocheted skirt!

The pattern is from Doris Chan's book, "Amazing Crochet Lace." I am attempting to make a serious dent in my stash of yarn this year, so I decided to use this rayon chenille yarn by Blue Heron that I picked up at Stitches West last year. It was a really simple pattern, and I'm very happy with how it turned out.

The yarn is beautiful and plush. Just about every knitter & crocheter understands the chenille quandary—the yarn is silky and oh so soft, but it worms!

What is worming? According to Jimmy Beans Wool,
"Worming occurs when a loop of yarn pulls away from the knitted [crocheted] fabric and coils back on itself...Chenille yarns are constructed of short tufts of fibers anchored into a central coiled core yarn, and it's precisely this coiled nature of the core yarn that gives rise to worming. It's like when you hold both ends of a length of string and then twist and twist and twist... eventually, if there is any slack in the string, it will coil up on itself. Chenille starts with some twist built into it, and the more twist you introduce when knitting it, the greater the likelihood that you'll get some worming."
The worming in my skirt is pretty active, but I did my best to steam the heck out of it to get more of the coils to straighten out. The fact that the yarn is variegated helps hide the worming, too. I don't know that I would buy more of this yarn, simply because of the worm factor, but is fantastic to touch.

So another project finally completed. Honestly, I think I only finished this skirt because I told myself I couldn't cast on for Wendy Bernard's Ingenue sweater until I was done. On to the next project!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday—The Juliet Cap

The year was 1971, and my mother was 19 years old. She was getting married to my dad, 27, whom she had been dating for about 6 months or so. When I was little, this just seemed normal. But then I got to be 19, and I realized that this seemed a bit crazy. I didn't know what I wanted to major in, much less who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

While my mom's dress is not exactly my style, I do love its simplicity. No over-the-top beading or pouffy lace. Just a simple empire waist dress, with a high neck and delicate lace daisies. This was the era of Taming of the Shrew, Camelot, Romeo & Juliet, and Anne of the Thousand Days, don't forget. My mom's veil is attached to a beaded Juliet cap, and falls to her feet.

More of Vintage Photo Friday at Paper Dolls for Boys.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday - Leaving the Wedding in Go-Go Boots

This is my mom and dad leaving their wedding in 1971. Yes, my mother is actually wearing hot pants and white plastic go-go boots. According to her, she hated this outfit. Apparently my dad picked it out because he thought it was "hot."

Yeah, they're divorced.

More of Vintage Photo Friday at Paper Dolls for Boys.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's Not a Habit...It's Cool, I Feel Alive

The new issue of Knitty came out today.

Dear god.

There are some absolutely beautiful patterns that I want to knit right now.

Decimal, a light and lacy cardigan that was designed to—gasp!—look beautiful on women of almost any size. The designer even knit a plus-sized sample, modeled by a beautiful lady not afraid to show off her ample assets.

And then there are
Topaz (a perfect baby dress for a little girl scheduled to join the family shortly), and Steggie (which Vivian, who loves her DINOS!, would enjoy). Oh, and Pioneer (which I would totally knit if I could overcome my fear of needles smaller than size 8s), and Santeney (which I may knit, but shorten to waist length, instead of tunic length, so as not to emphasize the baby tummy), and Andy (a really nice men's sweater that I can't even talk about knitting since I still haven't finished Richard's Baseball sweater from 2+years ago).

And then there are some beautiful lace and sock patterns that I will never knit (lace because I never have enough uninterrupted time to concentrate on complicated charts, and socks because of that fear of small needles), but I will love to see how other people knit them.

I am really fighting to not cast on for any new projects right now. I'm working on Doris Chan's Walking After Midnight crocheted skirt, which is coming out beautifully, and which I could probably finish in a week if I could concentrate on it. I'm also working on a modified pinwheel pattern quilt for Vivian.

If I finish crocheting the skirt, I'll give myself permission to cast on for something new—the pride in actually finishing a project will be worth more than the transient rush of casting on something new.

a sneak peek of the Walking After Midnight skirt.

And because I haven't posted it here yet, here is the baby quilt I made for Teresa & Morgen's Baby T., due next month.
I love how the top turned out, but I also love the fabric I used for the backing—a vintage Waverly print that I bought years ago on eBay. I've been saving it for the right project, and I think it works here.
There are so many crafty projects that I want to tackle. I feel like a junkie in need of a fix. Do they have a 12-step program for this?