Sunday, September 29, 2013


Today I went to my friend Chris' house to have some coffee (Happy National Coffee Day, by the way) and to teach her daughter, one of Daphne's best friends, to knit.  So much fun.  I love it when the light goes on and they get the hang of it.  Anyway, while I was there, I got to see some baby quilts that Chris had made, and I got all inspired to work on Daphne's baby clothes project.  I can't start it until I finish MY quilt, but I did go into the garage to drag out the baby clothes box.  Daphne and I had a blast digging through it, and while we were doing so, we found this little pink hat, which is the first complete project I ever knitted.  Daphne has decided it still fits.

Here it is, many years ago, when it was first finished.  Not perfect - I see some little holes on the rolled brim - but cute anyway.  Even cuter after I added the green button.  (Not as cute as the baby wearing it, though).  I never would have believed I could make the Owl sweater back then.

I have made Daphne and her friend Ruby promise that someday, they will teach someone else to knit.  I hope they keep their promise. As Chris said, Knit it Forward!

This afternoon, we met my family for a late lunch to celebrate my mom's birthday, and then we had some play time with the good puppies.  Look how tall Chief is getting!

Yesterday, Daphne went to a birthday party, so Kev and I hung out and had a little band practice.  It was fun, and I got to play the guitar, plus some Tom Petty and Neil Young harmonica parts.  I can still rock!  Even though I make quilts and knit things!

Just in time for the series to end, Kev and I started watching Breaking Bad.  We have seen three episodes so far, and I am hooked.  Please don't tell me what happens during the next five years worth of episodes. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

There's No Basement at the Alamo...

...but last night, there was free candy.

We loaded Daphne in the car, but didn't tell her where we were going.  When she finally figured it out, she actually squealed with glee.  It was awesome.  I love surprising that kid.

At each seat in the theater, there was a bag with candy and things to be used to make the movie more "interactive."  There were bubbles to blow during the Fizzy Lifting Drink scene (it was so cool - the theater was filled with bubbles!), yellow streamers to wave when Veruca pulls the yellow cellophane during her song, bubble gum for the Violet scenes, and party poppers to explode when the Wonka-vator goes through the roof.  And there were gobstoppers, of course.

There were special desserts - we got a Chocolate River Pizza and a Violet Beauregard Blueberry Shake.

At the end, Veruca and Mike Teevee answered questions from the audience and posed for pictures.  Daphne asked Veruca how many Veruca dresses she had (two).

It was a great night out.  This morning. Daphne was sad because it was over.  Then she went outside and blew some leftover bubbles, and I think she feels better now.

The Alamo is awesome.  I think they are going to have a special screening sometime soon for knitters, where the lights are left up enough to see your yarn and needles.  If they had barbecue chicken wraps and sweet potato fries, I wouldn't miss the Studio Movie Grill anymore at all.

Friday, September 27, 2013


Yesterday, I went to school for our first Brownie meeting, and saw this hanging in the 2nd grade hall.  I love it!  And I think Daphne drew a very good taco!

Brownies was really really fun.  Those girls are awesome.  Lots of exciting things coming up this year including DOG SLEDDING!  Fifteen more days!

I was exhausted by the time I went to my quilt class, but I managed to put all 35 blocks together into something resembling a quilt top!  It isn't perfect, but it doesn't matter,  I love it anyway.  I love the colors.  I love the pattern.  It makes me happy.

I picked out fabric for the backing and binding, and now I just have to go buy batting.  Next week, we sandwich the whole thing together and start quilting. 

When it's done, I am going to put on my owl sweater and some housepants, and curl up on the couch under my quilt with some coffee, yarn, and perhaps a little Van Morrison or Iron and Wine.  Maybe I should skip the coffee.  Good grief.  What if I spilled coffee all over my owl sweater and my new quilt?!  OK, no coffee.

Looking forward to the weekend.  Tonight is the big Willie Wonka movie surprise.  I have had the hardest time keeping it a secret from Daphne.  Tomorrow, she is going to a birthday party, so I get to hang out with Kev for a while.  And Sunday, we're all going to lunch to celebrate my mom's birthday.  There will hopefully be some knitting time.  But not sewing.  Because I am FINISHED sewing until the sandwiching class next week.  Yay!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mark the Time

This morning at 11:06am, I finished the 35th (and last) block of my 1st (but not last) quilt.  The next time you see these blocks, they will (hopefully) all be sewn together into a beautiful quilt top.

Halfway up Quilt Mountain!


First Day of Daisies  - 2011

First Day of Brownies - 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Here is what I'm thinking:  If I make 11 more blocks, this thing will be big enough for a 5x7 block "throw."  I can get those done before my class tomorrow, and start learning how to put the thing together!  Then, I can use all my new skills on Daphne's baby clothes project.  I don't really need to make this one a twin size quilt, do I?  We don't even have a twin size bed!

I'm stopping at 35.  Don't try to talk me out of it.

I can use the left-over fabric to make a matching pillow!  

Soup Season!

I must be getting my groove back, because last night I tried a new recipe for the first time in a LONG time.  Daphne and I chose a soup from the latest issue of Southern Living and made it for dinner to celebrate Fall.

This is a lemon, meatball, and orzo soup, and the recipe is here.  Daphne helped by peeling the carrots, zesting and squeezing the lemons, and adding things to the pot.  She had a blast, and LOVED the soup.  She loved it so much that she wanted to take it to lunch today and finally try out her new Star Wars thermos.  I hope she doesn't spill it because it's picture day.  Probably not the best day to take soup to lunch.

Anyway, I liked it a lot, too, and it was really easy.  Next time, I may cut back on the lemon juice a little.  It was pretty lemony, which is a little weird in soup.  I really liked the chicken meatballs!  I used fresh bread crumbs that I made in my food processor, and had to use a lot more than the recipe called for.  I think I used 3 slices of bread with the crusts cut off.

I love soup!  Fall is awesome!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Quilting is the New Owl Sweater

Fourteen blocks done.  That means I still need to make 49 more.  Good grief.  When I get done, I am going to put on my Owl Sweater and cover up with my quilt and stay that way forever.  Maybe I'll put on the quilt like a queen's robe thingy, and walk all around town.  Quilting is HARD!  And it takes a really REALLY long time. It's like climbing a mountain.  I just want to get to the top, man.

Rome wasn't built in a day.

But it was probably built faster than this quilt.

The weekend was good.  Yesterday was the first day of Fall, so we rode our bikes to the winery and had a picnic.  So much fun.  And Daphne was so proud of herself! 

I love Fall.  Fall means sweaters and soup. SOUP!  Yay!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ups and Downs

Yesterday, I was feeling pretty down about things.  My dress has wings and my quilt blocks are wonky.  Not the end of the world, right?  But still.  I worked hard on that dress, and I tried really really hard to do a good job on those blocks, so I was frustrated.

But today is a new day.  Above is Daphne's latest knitting project.  She is making a blanket for her friend Anne's tiny stuffed turtle. I was watching her knit this morning before school, and she's getting pretty good at it!  She has picked up speed and found a rhythm.  It makes me happy.

After she got on the bus, I took a walk around town.  This is my favorite time of year.  It was nice and chilly this morning.  When I got back, I was inspired to finally try to make a dent in the playroom situation.  It took me all morning, but I made some progress:

Far from complete, but Rome wasn't built in a day!  If you look at the picture a few posts ago and compare, it looks about a million times better.  It feels good to have some success.

Tonight I have my quilt class.  My mom is letting me borrow a special quilting presser foot for my machine that should make things easier and better.  And I ordered fabric to try again on the dress.  And tonight is Project Runway night!  Yay!  Things are looking up!

At least there are no lions.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


...I'm starting to think that quilting may not be the craft for me.  I decided to do some blocks today, so I made three, and now I have four complete.  I need SIXTY-THREE!.  This took me over an hour!  And these ones might not even be usable because they are very wonky. 

I think quilting might only be for people who are really into things like "precision" and "perfection,"  and are able to "sew in a straight line." least my colors all match! 

Well, I won't give up.  I will take these to my class tomorrow and see what my teacher thinks.  But I'm not making any more today.  I'm going outside instead.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

So, I Made a Dress

The dress is done.  Here it is.  I give it an A- for construction, but a C+ for fit.  It's a little big on top, and the fluttery sleeves look like wings because the fabric isn't quite heavy enough to drape nicely.  Still, I will wear it.  Probably.  I am definitely going to make another one, knowing what I know now.  I learned a lot.  And it has French Seams!  So, in spite of the imperfect fit, I have seen worse on Project Runway so I'm not gonna sweat it.  Hooray for the Finch, and hooray for me!  Bring on the next challenge!

Photo by Daphne.  She likes to get the fancy angles.

Coffe Shop Take-Over

People who walked into Shoes last night were probably surprised to see about 20 people sitting there with sewing machines, working busily away on Infinity Scarves.  Nicole from the Finch (the sewing place downtown) and Lori from Shoes (a coffee shop downtown) teamed up to host a night of sewing.  It was really really fun.  I'm not sure I am an Infinity Scarf person, but we'll see.  It was fun to make, easy, and would make a great gift for people who ARE Infinity Scarf people.

These are both places within walking distance of my house.  I swear if they turn Safeway into a Trader Joe's, I'll almost never have to use my car again.

I have been thinking about our beer, sitting there in its giant plastic container in Maryland, getting all happy.  Beer-making is not for people who like instant gratification.  (Those people should make Infinity Scarves!).  Three weeks is a long time to wait to see how the beer is doing, and then we just bottle it.  It will probably need another month or so after that before it's really ready to drink.  Maybe we'll give it out for Halloween!  Come to our house for the best treats!  Beers and Infinity Scarves for all!

We need a name for our beer.  I was thinking "Mind Palace Leffe," which is in reference to a really funny line from the Masterpiece "Sherlock" series, which is genius and everyone should watch it as soon as possible. Other possibilities, "Christmas in September Leffe," "Catoctin Leffe,"  "LRHS Leffe," "Infinity Leffe," (just kidding)...please feel free to submit a suggestion.  I think I'm sticking with Mind Palace, though.

Speaking of Halloween and Sherlock, I think Daphne has settled on being a detective this year.  I have to admit I am a little disappointed that she didn't choose Veruca Salt, but the good news is I don't have to sew anything costume-y.  This one is easy, and we already have all the stuff.  Sherlock Holt!

OK...things to do and dresses to finish.  National Sewing Month rules!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Taking Shape

I am always sort of amazed when balls of yarn suddenly start to look like an actual piece of clothing.

I'm enjoying this pattern.  It's going much faster than the owl sweater.  It's easy, but interesting enough to not be boring.  I've had to youTube a couple of things along the way, so I'm learning new skills.  I like it.

Daphne asked me to show her how to purl before school this morning.  I love watching Daphne knit.  She has no fear, and isn't worried about messing up.  She just goes for it.  It's awesome.  When the bus came, she ran down to the bus stop yelling to her friend, "Anne!  I was busy knitting!"  Yay!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Very Good Weekend

I am excited to tell you that I can now add "making beer" to my list of Things I Have Done.  Kev and I took our field trip to Frederick on Saturday to brew at the Flying Barrel, which was really really fun.  Look at those awesome kettles!  It was like Wonka's factory in there!

Here I am, stirring in the malt extract:

And here is Kev when the beer was finished boiling:

In three weeks, we go back to bottle it.  I can't wait to see how it turns out.

It was really nice to spend the whole day hanging out with Kevin, and while we were gone, Daphne had a great time with Grandma, playing Puppyopoly and raking leaves and who knows what else.  Glad they had a nice time together.

Today, I taught Daphne to knit.

She picked it up right away.  She's a natural!  Her first little sample had a couple accidental holes, so we channeled Tim Gunn and made it work.  Voila, the Quincy Mask!

Daphne liked the idea of holes, and asked me how to make one on purpose.  Then, she planned a whole design for Quincy's new "Tail Scarf," and executed it beautifully.  This time there was only one hole, and it was MEANT to be there.  She was so proud.

Now, she wants to purl.  Sniff sniff.  Best Day Ever.

Quincy is happy too.  His bottom will never be cold again, and he's totally set for Halloween.

Friday, September 13, 2013

One Down, Sixty-Two to Go...

Last night, I made my first ever quilt block.  I sustained a minor quilting injury when I nicked myself with the rotary cutter, but I got a cool Miss Piggy band-aid and it was all good.  Quilting is fun!  But it's hard.  And there is a lot of math.  I think it will be a good skill to have.  I have a stack of Daphne's baby clothes and some big plans brewing.

Speaking of brewing, tomorrow, Kev and I are going to Frederick to make beer.  I am looking forward to it.  I get to be the sous-brewer, and the people at the brewing place have to clean up all the mess.  When Kev makes beer at home, the kitchen always gets really sticky, and it smells like hops for a few days.  This will be MORE fun and LESS messy.  Plus, I think there will be delicious tapas for lunch.  I am a fan of Frederick.

I just found out that September is National Sewing Month.  How perfect!  I've been celebrating the whole time, and I didn't even know it.

New Skills I have learned during National Sewing Month:

Plus, the quilting skills.  I'd say that's pretty good.  I'm celebrating HARD!

By the way, there is nothing magical or difficult about a French Seam.  It's easy.  I don't know why they make such a big deal out of it on Project Runway.

Also this month, I learned a new knitting stitch that I've never had to use before - purling through the back loop.  So, IF on top of all that my house was clean, I'd be really proud of myself. Alas, it's not.  But it's getting there!

On that note, laundry calls.  Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Now We're Talkin'

And the yarn even matches the pillow.  Serenity now!

Making my Happy Place a Happy Place

My house is the ultimate UFO.  I feel like it will never be "finished."  But I am trying to get in a groove that will result in a house that at the very least doesn't stress me out the moment I walk in.  Most people do the whole Fresh Start thing in January, but I usually start in the fall, when Daphne goes back to school.  I have to say corny things to myself like "Slow and steady wins the race!" and "Rome wasn't built in a day!" to justify that it is probably going to take me until Christmas to get things in shape.

Yesterday, I pulled a bunch of too-small clothes out of Daphne's closet and backed up my computer. 

Today, I tidied the guest room, and then decided to start on my little knitting space.  There has been exactly ZERO knitting going on in that room for months because of stuff piled on the chair and magazines piled on the floor and so much passive chaos that it caused me to stay away.

Today, I cleaned off the chair and took the pile of magazines downstairs to either give away or recycle.
Much better, huh?!

So, now I can sit there and knit, or read, or whatever, and not get all stressed out.  I may get all sneeze-y though.  I haven't dusted yet, and it really needs to be dusted.  And I think I could do something better with that book shelf.  It's kind of a mess.  But it's a start!  Rome wasn't built in a day, you know!

Baby steps.

Now I an going to go tackle the kitchen table.  And then, I'm going to sit in my chair and knit!  Woo hoo!


This is just one room.  Her toys spill over into the whole downstairs, plus the attic.  Ugh.  A job for another day.

By the way, my dress-making class was good, but I am not so sure about the fabric choice and the fit.  I'll finish it up next Tuesday and tell you how it turns out.  Tonight, I start my quilt class.  And I have cast on for my new Lobster Cove sweater.  A very crafty September so far!  I like it!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Fun with Felting - a UFO

Way LAST August, I had a dilemma - you may remember.  Today, in the spirit of finishing things, I decided that "To Felt" was the answer, and so, I did.  And I'm glad.  It's hard to tell from the photo, but felting really tightened up the stitches and made this a much sturdier bag.  Now, to find handles, and perhaps lining fabric.  More dilemmas, but getting closer to FO status.

In other news, doubts are beginning to creep in about my dress fabric.  Since I washed it, it seems like it might be too stiff for nice draping.  Where is Tim Gunn when I need him?

Easing into the School Year: FOs, Fabric, and Friends

School is off to a good start for Daphne.  She likes her teacher, she likes her classmates, and she isn't complaining about anything - not even getting up early.

I sort of took last week off.  I didn't do much while Daphne was at school.  A couple pilates classes, a few errands, minimal cooking, and no meetings unless you count breakfast with friends during which some Brownie Troop items were discussed.  One afternoon, I got all Mom-from-the-Fifties, and walked downtown to do errands.  I stopped in the sewing shop to buy dress-making fabric, went to the hobby shop for Girl Scout supplies, stopped for a sandwich, and went by the jeweler's to pick up my ring, which needed a minor repair.  During this outing, I decided that downtown Leesburg needs a Malt Shop, or Soda Fountain, or some sort of retro ice creamy place with a counter with swivel stools and teenagers who look like Wally Cleaver with little soda jerk hats.  That, and a gourmet cheese shop.  And a butcher.  And maybe a donut shop.  Let's make it happen!

I don't really have to complain about not having a yarn shop anymore, because the sewing place is getting its first shipment of yarn this week.  Malabrigo!  Oh my.  I can't wait.  I will be walking distance from some REALLY nice yarn.

The weekend was good.  I went to brunch with some good friends (above).  There were grits! It was fun but sad because one of them is moving to California.  I don't like it when people move away.

We went to Manassas to visit the people and puppies there, and eat delicious brisket cooked on a Big Green Egg by Uncle Jeff.  This picture makes me sadder than you can possibly imagine, but happy at the same time.  Look at their hair!  It's exactly the same.

And, I got to go see a movie with Kev at the Alamo.  A really weird funny movie about beer and alien robots.

And, since we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator over the summer, Kev, Daphne, and I watched Willie Wonka on Saturday night.  The REAL one, not the Johnny Depp one.  Such greatness.

Daphne doesn't know this, but we are taking her to the Alamo in a couple weeks for a special screening of Willie Wonka, with bubbles and candy and special appearances by the real Veruca Salt and Mike Teevee.  She is going to flip out.  Don't tell her!  It's a surprise!

This week is all about sewing.  Below is the fabric I bought last week.  It is going to be a dress (I hope) after I take a class downtown.  And Thursday night, I start a beginner quilting class.  Quilt fabric is still undecided.

Today, I decided to finally finish a project I started last year - a knitted and felted pouch.  I made a felted i-cord strap for it, and sewed a cool button on the front:

I love it, but it's really itchy, so we'll see how much use it gets.  It's a perfect size for just my phone, keys, sunglasses, and money.  Good for downtown errand running!  It gives me a sense of accomplishment to have an FO (finished object) to show you.  I still have a couple more UFOs hanging out in my project stash.  It would be nice to have a clean slate.  By the way,

Every day that goes by is one day closer to a day that is cold enough for me to wear my owl sweater!!!!!!!!!

Discussions have begun regarding this year's Daphne Halloween Costume.  The ideas being thrown around at the moment are Veruca Salt, Daphne from Scooby Doo, a detective, and a cowgirl.  As they don't involve making wings or tentacles, I am happy with any of the above.

That's all I have for now.  Stay tuned for dress-making triumphs or disasters, and quilt success or catastrophe.  And feel free to submit costume ideas.  I should probably go clean something...

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Grade Two

Annual picture by the green door.

All ready with gear, lunch, and supplies.

Very owl-y!

Getting on the bus.
Where's Waldo?

And, she's home.  That face is a sign of a good day.  
Grandma and Grandpa and a batch of brownies were here to celebrate.
Second grade is off to a good start.

Monday, September 02, 2013

What We Did on our Summer Vacation (in Pictures)

On the last day of Girl Scout camp, it rained.  All day.  And where there's rain, there's mud.  And where there's mud, there's Daphne.  She came home covered in mud and very happy.  Another successful year of Camp Tag-Along is in the books.

We spent the next day doing laundry and cleaning and preparing for our annual last-week-before-school-starts trip to the lake.  We stopped near Gettysburg for lunch...great roadside barbeque and milkshakes.

Daphne and I were shirt buddies.  These are the tie-dyes we made at camp.

We reached our destination later in the afternoon:

Nothing much changes at the lake.  Same house, same hill:

Same smurfy chairs:

Same morning boat rides:

Daph had a little trouble with the jacket:

Kev and Daphne did a lot of this:

Meanwhile, I did a lot of this:

I never really go in much anyway.  I don't like to swim.  The lake has seaweed and fish and snapping turtles, so it kind of freaks me out a little. And this time, I saw muskrats in there.  No thank you.  And if that's not enough, I found out that leeches were discovered lurking in the seaweed.  And one of Kev's sisters claimed to have recently seen something she kept referring to as a sea serpent.  Um, nope.  I'm good in the smurfy chairs with my needles and yarn.

Or in the boats.  I love the boats.

There were picnics:

And lots of fish-feeding:

And friends and cousins came to swim:

Uncle Pat had a photo bomb opportunity:

There was a field trip where we did some spelunking:

and some mining for gems:

We went to Cooperstown to the Ommegang Brewery:

Where we tasted tiny beers:

We made it to the Hall of Fame but only had time for the gift shop this time:

Meanwhile, back at the lake, there were board games (I am the Clue champion!):

And music:

And Texas-style Uno with cousins and Aunt Kimmie:

(I missed the Uno game.  I had no idea there were hats for everyone!)

There were also morning bike rides.  It was very unnerving riding behind my wobbly two-wheeler novice 7 year old, flying down hills on wet roads, but she was having the time of her life so I had to just let it go. She did great.

We got to go to lots of restaurants, and we looked for rocks down by the railroad tracks on the river.

 All that relaxing wore us out.  See you next year, lake place!