New Knitting Pattern … How Cute is That?

September 7, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Posted in art, baby, country life, faith, family, gifts, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, marriage, shopping, socks, travel, Vintage, women, yarn | 3 Comments
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Remember I told you all that my son made a custom Subway Roll Sign style print for me for my birthday back in early August? And, I was going to take a photo of it to share with you all, but I had second thoughts about posting that particular one on the Internet. It has some personally identifying landmarks from my life on it, and I don’t feel comfortable broadcasting that out to the universe. Please forgive me, it is not anything personal.

However, I did want to share this photo with you of a custom sign he did, because I think his custom signs are such a unique gift idea. They are totally cool looking, very unique … and a wonderful way to commemorate all kinds of things: weddings, anniversaries, births, birthdays, retirement, graduation, concerts you’ve attended, places you’ve traveled to, neighborhoods where you’ve lived, milestones in your life.

The one he did for me has my childhood neighborhood, the places I was living when he and his sister were born, our favorite home we lived in back in California (the three of us together), and now my new home on the farm in New York. It tells a story about some of the most important moments and times of my life and because of that, I love looking at it hanging on the wall in our dining room, loving the fact that it conjures up those moments of pleasure and happiness. He printed it on watercolor paper, and in the bottom right hand corner there is a little tiny line stating the print is “1 of 1” … I love that he thought of that finishing touch!

This photo here is a sign he made for some dear friends of theirs as a gift on their wedding day. I love it, it is so thoughtful and must be a delight to them. I also love how he added “Est. May 27th, 2011” near the bottom — what a great way to mention the date of their marriage.  Check out his full line of prints (he has some awesome new stuff) and contact him via his blog here:  Flying Junction.

Now, for my knitting pattern. I have finally finished my granddaughter’s slouchy socks. Not only are the socks don, I have actually managed to write and publish the pattern on Etsy, my website, Ravelry … and I made a version of it for Kindle. Phew, there are many steps to complete when one sets out to be an online publisher of knitting patterns.

And, I have to be honest with you here … I don’t know which is cuter … the socks I made for my granddaughter, or the photograph I shot of her wearing them. Is it just me, or is that a totally cute photograph? I can hardly stand it, it’s so cute to me.

Now I have started making her an adorable little knitted shirt using eyelash yarn — it was a whim of an idea, and now that she is no longer ripping my knitting needles out of projects, I am on a little bit of a roll. Hopefully I can maintain it!

Well, now my back is sore from being on my laptop all day. I am going to take a great, and hope you have a great week!

~firefly

And here, I confess

July 20, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Posted in art, country life, faith, family, flowers, food, gardening, gifts, health, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, marriage, photography, recipes, relationships, shopping, socks, summer, travel, weight loss, yarn | 14 Comments
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I had determined not to talk about this, but I changed my mind because telling you what I am about to tell you might help someone who reads my blog.  So, here goes.

I am doing Weight Watchers, the online program.  I am not particularly into diets, and favor instead lifestyle changes as being the only really viable means of addressing weight and health related issues.   I was nice and trim when we got married five years ago, but each year since I have put on an average of five pounds which usually happens over the winter months (big surprise).  Don’t want to talk about it, but I’m doing so out of consideration for any of my readers who may be experiencing something similar and who, like me, might want to turn that boat around.

In the spring of 2010, dissatisfied with my new weight at that time,  I somewhat confronted the issue and started eating better and I cut off about six pounds by the beginning of summer.  It wasn’t great weight loss, but it felt good.  Unfortunately, I was a little to happy with the results and did not lose anything else.  This winter the six pounds I lost in the spring returned and brought a few of their friends with them.  About a month ago I knew I needed to return to something that had, in the past, yielded better and long lasting results so, I typed in “www.weightwatchers.com” into my browser address bar.

I am very happy I did so, because their latest version of their program is very easy to follow and easy to live with.  It is also structured in a way to promotes workable lifestyle changes rather than anything drastically different.  The only issue I have with their program is that I disagree with limiting people to two servings of protein per day.  From my own personal experience, two servings of protein a day does not promote healthy metabolism.  The cool thing, however, is that with the way their program works now if you want to eat more protein you can do so and still stay within their point system — you just have to figure things out correctly and try to use less “expensive” carbohydrates in your meal and snack planning to make room for the points that protein selections will take up.

Back in 2003, while still living in Los Angeles, I did Weight Watchers online and it worked pretty well.  I lost about two pounds per week steadily until I had lost twenty pounds total.  Then I stalled, and I had trouble feeling motivated to go further.  A month or two after my stall, my daugther asked me to do the Zone diet with her.  She needed to do it for her metabolism, not to lose weight.  I decided to do it to be supportive of her and I was really happy I did.  That’s when I found out how much better I felt if I had protein with each and every meal and snack, and I learned to have three medium sized meals and two snack sized meals per day to help keep my metabolism on an even keel.   Doing the Zone diet and going on walks with my mother in the evenings, I lost another 24.5 pounds and I also felt wonderful.  I stopped eating dairy products and all refined grains and sugars and I increased my protein intake (which had always been a challenge before, as I am vegetarian) by using some of the great new (at the time) soy-based products that had become available.

Until I moved to Upstate New York, to the farm, I kept that weight off.  However, being in a colder climate, writing a blog that includes sharing recipes and photos of baked goods (I love to bake), and attending a church where people do love their pot-luck dinners and coffee hours all added up to my weight going back up again.

I’m not having it anymore, I’ll tell you that right now.  Enough is enough, and 25 pounds is too much.

I am enjoying doing Weight Watcher’s online, and have lost eight pounds so far.  My husband and I have started taking walks together, which is a wonderful bonus.  I am already feeling much, much better physically and emotionally.  My spirits are lifted, and I believe I can get this new lifestyle on a farm in upstate New York under control to where I no longer have those winters of gaining a few pounds in cuddly comfort.

And, I will share my weight loss wins with you here in case anyone out there wants to do something similar and would like the moral support.  We are, all of us, beautiful and divine creatures and our physical form can be reflective of that fact.  I will also continue to share recipes and photos of pretty foods but they are likely to be more on the healthy side and designed to inspire others to celebrate good health more than they celebrate beautiful foods.

Something delicious I discovered a few days ago was that I could cover my Cuisinart Griddler with sliced mushrooms, close the cover, and in a few minutes have grilled mushrooms that are very flavorful and beautiful to behold — but lack the olive oil (and calories) I would have used to saute them previously.  I toss them on a salad along with chunks of grilled extra-firm tofu I marinated in soy sauce and rubbed lightly with olive oil.  The mushrooms and tofu add a delicious layer of flavor as well as protein to make a filling, healthy meal that sets me up for a nice energetic walk a little later.

I hope my honesty and willingness to share on this subject is helpful to you, my friends.

As for knitting, I completed one of the slouchy toddler socks I designed for Sweet Pea, and am on my way knitting the second one.  I will be writing up the pattern for publishing within the next week or so.  These look so cute on her, because the legs are made a little wide so that they are chunky and do a little bit of slouching.  They’ll be great for the fall and winter, keeping her feet and legs warm when cold drafts are in the air.  I am making these from yarn left over from her Christmas stocking, which I made … wow, almost two years ago.  This is FootNotes sock yarn from my favorite yarn artist, Kimber Baldwin of Fiber Optic Yarns.  She does these low-contrast colorways in hues that I just tend to love, love, love.  The sock pattern will be available soon as its done in my knitting-related Etsy store or directly from my website.

By the way, in the sock photo, there is a little bear I needle felted some time ago.  Some years ago while sketching I created some pretty little characters — teddy bears with little costumes, wings, and then a little beaded headband that was supposed to serve as a halo of sorts.  I called them Wish Bears at the time, and later called them Moon Bears so as not to intrude on the Care Bear trademark (there is a Wish Bear in the Care Bear series of characters).  Recently my grand daughter saw some little cards I had made with a variety of my characters printed on them and she fell in love with the little bears.  She dubbed them “Princess Fairy Bears”, and it revitalized my interest in doing something with them some time.

It will be fun, when she is older, to create a cast of the characters as needle felted sculptures, much like the one photographed here.  She is too young for them now, because at two and half years old, she handles them a little too roughly and they can’t hold up to that kind of play.  What fun it will be though to create some more drawings and paintings of the little sweet characters, write more stories featuring them, and do the needle felted sculptures for her as well.  I don’t have any of the images of the drawings and paintings on my current computer, but at some point I will find some of those images and share them so you all can see how much the needle felted sculpture favors the actual drawing of one of the bears.

Such fun.

News of what is happening with my son’s Etsy store, Flying Junction He is featured for the next few weeks in the very cool, very stylish online curated handmade market, Poppy Talk Handmade.  The theme of this exhibit is “On The Road”; his vintage-inspired NYC (and other cities) subway roll signs and bus scroll prints were chosen because they represent the places people travel to and through while on the road.  His custom signs are also a beautiful and classy way to commemorate life’s markers — places where special events took place, landmarks that create a particular feeling of nostalgia, and neighborhoods you  grew up in, worked in, visited or dreamed of visiting.  The custom signs are made using his unique, careful reproductions of hand lettering from original NYC subway roll signs and include the wonderful distressed-look finishing touch that is a trademark of his beautiful work.

And now on to my “garden”.  Two or three years ago a friend of my husband’s from work gave him three unknown plants she bought at a plant sale.  He brought them home and planted them out along the west wall of our old garage foundation, which seems to be the chosen spot for orphaned and adopted random plants and trees people give us.  The following year, one of the mystery plants turned out to be a lily of some kind and gave us one or two pretty blossoms.  The next year, we got a few more blossoms.  Well, this year we have two four-foot tall lily plants that were loaded with buds.  They finally blossomed recently and the blossoms were so healthy and beautiful it caught my breath when my husband cut one to bring in the house for little Sweet Pea.  She danced with joy, and I gasped in delight.  A day or so later I got out there with my camera on a somewhat overcast day and did some photography that I was very pleased with.  I have posted prints of one of the best photos for sale in my fine art Etsy store, and will add a couple more shortly.

I suppose this will conclude today’s blog post.  If you didn’t read the post from earlier this week, it is brief and you will find it directly under this post.

A perfect little piece of sunshine

June 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Posted in 4th of July, country life, gardening, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, photography, socks, summer, travel, yarn | 1 Comment
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Every year, right about the 4th of July, our wild raspberries start turning from pale red to deep, almost black purple.  At first you just see one here or there, then the next day another three or four.  And it builds that way until suddenly there are shiny purple wild raspberries in such abundance that you can’t pick them fast enough to eat, preserve, bake and so forth.  Our started turning a little bit early this year, but they are turning slowly day by day.

Our baby grand-daughter got her first opportunity to stand in front of the berry canes and pick, eat, pick, eat, pick, eat with her chubby little hands in that rapid fire way the little kids do.  Oh, how that took me back to my childhood.

I remember standing at the edge of the woods, just inside (on the wooded side) a fence at the edge of our neighbor’s yard where concord grapes were growing.  There I was doing that rapid fire pick, eat, pick, eat, pick, eat.  Only, I was being naughty because those were our neighbor’s grapes and I was picking and eating them secretly; perhaps they tasted sweeter because of my misbehavior, I don’t know.

My husband noted these early raspberries of ours taste flat, and that he hopes for some sunshine to warm and nourish them enough to create more sugar over the next few days so they will be sweet and flavorful.  We have made so much more rain and overcast days this spring and into summer that it will be interesting to see how it affects the various berries and fruits coming in over the course of the summer. We are blessed to live on this beautiful farm, and to have a super abundance of wild raspberries that show up of their own accord, volunteering to berry us abundantly each July.

My son is in Los Angeles at this time, so he will miss out on the plentiful berries this July 4th, but hopefully will be able to get back in time for peaches in August. Either way, he will receive some jars of my homemade wild raspberry preserves from this year’s crop.

The last two days have been quite cool with a pushy, chilly breeze blowing most of the time.  Today the breeze has slowed down, but the air is still surprisingly cool for a summer morning. I stepped out to see if I could find a spot where I could photograph a new sock I am design-knitting for my grand-daughter (more on that in a moment) and thought I would try the spot where we  found the early ripe raspberries.  Rounding a corner, I saw this one little clump of not-ripe raspberries with the most perfect little piece of sunshine illuminating it.  I bent down quickly to grab a photograph before the light changed, and the moment I landed on my knee I heard the tiniest little flutter.  I looked and there was a chubby little baby bird sitting on the raspberries canes right behind that little clump of berries.  Startled, I gasped as my eyes widened and I’m pretty sure he did the same thing.  We stared right at each other for a split second and then he hopped off, landed on the ground where his little brother was waiting for him and then they both flitted away before I could do anything other than notice what had just happened.

Of course, it all happened far too rapidly for me to be able to capture any of it with my camera.  I was able to capture the perfect little piece of sunshine embracing the clump up of berries — and you see that shot at the very top of today’s blog.

Thank you world, universe, and God for aligning all of the ingredients for that perfect moment and affording me the opportunity to witness it.

Magic.

As for the sock knitting, or knitting at all, here is the story. For the past several months it has been somewhat impossible to knit because of a certain little munchkin who seems to be all fingers whenever I settle down to relax and have a knit. The grabbing, the pulling, the wrestling … it all makes for very fitfull, not relaxed knitting that almost happens and then has to be abandoned fairly rapidly. I had to abandon my own Summer in the Country Cotton Blanket knit along, sadly, because it was just too large and when the munchkin (aka Sweetpea) would grab it, I felt too much stress worrying that my needles would get pulled out of 241 stitches that would be very difficult to get back ahold of. So, I set it aside until she is a bit older.

I am longing, however, to knit some socks — for the munchkin, and for myself. So, last weekend I purchased a pair of Kollage square dpns in size U.S. 1 from a seller on eBay — they arrived in Monday’s mail, which was awesome — and I got started on a pair of socks for Sweetpea. I’m using left over yarn from the Little Violet Who Christmas Stocking I design-knitted for her first Christmas from Kimber Baldwin Designs (Fiber Optic Yarns). Her hanks of yarn are so generous that I was able to knit that over-sized Christmas Stocking and still have plenty of yarn left over. The socks I am making are designed to have a slouch with some body, and feature a stripe pattern similar to Little Violet Who, but knit on these much tinier needles the fabric looks quite different. I also added a little ridge detail at the bottom of each stripe for a bit more visual interest and body.

Miracle of miracles, although she did grab at my knitting pretty much the moment I got started, she is now leaving me along and I am actually able to accomplish something. It is such a relief to be able to relax in this way again, and I appreciate her cooperation so very much. I love the fact that she is interested in the yarn and the needles; I gave her a partial skein of some yarn I knew I wasn’t going to use for anything and a large crochet hook so she could do her own “needlework” and that helped satisfy her desire to grab my project.

I might have enough yarn left to make a matching hat, or I might make some little wrist warmers — it depends on what I have left over.

Well, summer is out there calling my name through each of our forty windows, in the singing of the birds, and with the ripening of the berries. I need to pay attention to what it is telling me … what is summer saying to you today?

~firefly

P.S. If you didn’t get a chance to read last week’s post, check it out for information about the loveliest summer art trail … Artists of The Oak in Orleans County … coming up this August 27th right in our own backyard! (Literally.)

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