sewing 2009

After several years of wanting a sewing machine, this year I used some of our tax refund to purchase one. Little did I know how much I would enjoy using it! I’ve used it for practical purposes as well as making some fun crafts. It was packed away during the months when we put on the addition to our house and I’ve not had a lot of time lately to sew, but it’s calling me and I have a file folder full of projects to try in 2010! In the meantime, here are a few things I made this year:

Noah really likes it :-)

fabric easter eggs

clothes pin bag

clothes pin bag #2

baby bibs

scalloped baby blanket - front

baby legwarmers

knitting & crochet 2009

I didn’t get to most of the projects I’d wanted to do this year, but looking back, seems that I still got quite a bit done! This year I taught myself to crochet and sew and I’m looking forward to attempting some more challenging projects in the new year. But indulge me as I look back on my knitting and crochet projects.


WWII Watchcap, DW dishcloth, and handwarmers
weekend knitting


Easy Knit Handwarmers
easy knit handwarmers

Learning to crochet
learning to crochet

Crochet dishcloth with ruffle edging
crochet dishcloth with ruffle edging


Laura’s crochet baby sweater
crochet baby sweater


Lacy summer scarf (frogged)
summer scarf


Earthy ripple blanket
ripple afghan

Crochet tawashi flowers
crochet tawashi flowers


Crochet pumpkin hat (I made several of these)
crochet pumpkin hat

Attic24 bag
attic24 bag

I haven’t done much in the last couple months, but hopefully I’ll be able to start working crochet back into my schedule. Stay tuned for a sewing recap, next!

and so that was christmas

DSC_0224 If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yours was wonderful! And if you don’t, I hope you enjoyed a relaxing day with family and friends. Ours was good but… not exactly as I’d expected. Tuesday afternoon I got a call from the school nurse — Jake had been sick in his classroom. The poor boy was mortified. 🙁 And so began a 24-hour stomach virus that then hit me hard on Christmas Eve. Naturally, we canceled our plans to go to my husband’s mother’s house for dinner. Drew started feeling ill during the afternoon, but luckily never got the plague. (Though he’s still suffering with a bad cold.) Christmas morning Noah was sick (though not to the extent that I was). So no one came up to our house, either. (I can’t blame them!)

Nevertheless we managed to have a lovely, though low-key Christmas. Santa must have paid extra close attention to the boys’ lists because they both got quite a few items that they requested. Noah was awash in Trick Tracks and Jake got his zero-gravity car. They both got clothes and lots of books, too. But the biggest surprise came from Mommy & Daddy and not Santa. Noah got his own drum kit and Jake got an electric guitar with an amp! Jake’s been practicing on an acoustic, but the size of this electric is better for him. Drew and Noah will learn the drums together. Drew, of course, jumps at any chance to get another instrument in this house, LOL… Laura obviously didn’t get any of what was going on, but she seemed to think that her new stuffed pig was pretty tasty.

Santa was good to me, too. Last fall I read this NY Times article about the safety of ground beef and became concerned. Well I no longer have to worry because I got the meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid so I can grind my own fresh meats! I was really excited about that. I also got a beautiful mango wood bowl, a candle garden from the kids, lots of chocolate and coffee, a lovely bracelet, an Onion book, and a few other things.

Drew was very happy with his new charging station for his iPhone, iPod, and various other gadgets. (Honestly this was a gift for me, as well — having all that stuff cluttering up the counter was making me nuts.) The other big gift was a GPS.

We stayed in our PJs all day and played with toys and kept it all very low-fi. It was kind of a long day without our family here, but we made the best of it and the boys are looking forward to various visits from everyone during the next couple of weeks. So Christmas will get stretched out a bit.

Hopefully we’ll all feel better for New Year’s Day and can start 2010 on a much healthier note!

christmas prep

Just a few more days until Christmas — hard to believe! Today I finished up grocery shopping (except now I’m not sure I have everything for my cheesecake) and ordered the flowers for the table. Back in November I was tipped off about how to get a $40 gift certificate to I thought it would be nice to use it toward holiday flowers. Originally I wanted to order this centerpiece, but it wasn’t available for delivery here in the boonies:

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

I wasn’t in love with any of the other centerpiece options, so I finally decided on 30 stems of tulips in a red and white theme:

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

There was free shipping on this item, so all I paid was tax — $3.24! Not bad for a nice bouquet that will dress up the table. I’ll just put votives in clear glass holders around it.

After quite a bit of tweaking, I think our menu is finally set, as well. Last year I did beef tenderloin, but my MIL wanted to make that for Christmas Eve this year. I opted to do a brunch, which I’ve done several times in the past. Here’s my plan:


  • Cheese and crackers
  • Shrimp cocktail


  • Honey glazed spiral ham
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Blueberry pancakes with strawberry syrup and maple syrup
  • Hash browns
  • Citrus salad with pomegranate seeds



  • Bloody Mary/Bloody Dane
  • Mimosa
  • Coffee/tea/orange juice

Originally I’d planned to make a spinach-Gruyere strata that I’ve made in the past, but let’s face it: I’ve got three kids. I can take the easy way out and just scramble some eggs. The boys will eat those. They won’t eat the strata and I don’t want to be fighting over eating on Christmas day.

As for the Bloody Marys/Bloody Danes, if someone asks we’ll make them (or any other drink, naturally), but I think the Mimosas will go over with more people. Oh, and if you’re curious, a Bloody Dane is made with Acquavit instead of vodka. We’re going to taste-test during the week.

So this should be an easy meal to pull off. I’m going to make the pancakes ahead of time and heat them up in the oven. The ham is a no-brainer, and the eggs will only take a few minutes. My goal is for a no-stress, no-fuss relaxing day with my family 🙂

how to make flubber

It is bone-chilling cold out there this morning. I thought I was going to get frostbite on my ears while waiting for Jake’s bus! The weather report states that when you factor the wind chill into account, it feels about 9 degrees outside. I’d agree with that! With more cold days ahead, you might be looking for something different to do with your kids that will keep them occupied for a while. Have you ever tried making flubber? Some people call it “gak” or “goop” or even “slime.” But my boys prefer “flubber.” All it takes is a few things you probably already have around the house. Making it is simple and if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll play with it for at least 45 minutes afterwards! Here’s what you do.

Recipe for Flubber


2 bottles of white glue (4 oz. each)
2 cups of warm water, divided
food coloring
1 1/2 teaspoon Borax
bowls for mixing (I suggest glass)

Pour out the bottles of glue into a large glass bowl. Add one cup of warm water to the glue and stir until the glue has thinned out to an even consistency. If you want to add food coloring (and why wouldn’t you?) add a few drops now and stir, stir, stir until you achieve your desired color.

In a separate bowl add the Borax to the second cup of warm water and stir until the Borax has dissolved. Slowly pour this into the bowl of glue, stirring the glue constantly. (Enlist the help of a munchkin to pour while you stir — it makes it much easier.) Continue to stir until it forms a big slimy blob. You’ll see the chemical reaction taking place immediately.

At first the flubber might be a little bit watery, but be patient and give it a few minutes. It will all come together. Store the flubber in a tightly-sealed container. Also, be aware that it does not last forever and it can get moldy. Don’t ask me how I know, just trust me on that one.

The boys like to use cookie cutters with it, make big flubber balls and watch them flatten out, cover their hands, and just enjoy the squishy feeling. I have to admit that it does feel pretty neat! If you try it, let me know how it goes!

chilly hudson valley

chilly hudson valley

It’s another very cold, very late-autumn afternoon here in the Hudson Valley. Although it certainly looks like winter, we’re not there yet. I’ve finalized the shopping list for our party this weekend and we’re in good shape. I think we need a new filter for our refrigerator, though. I’m not sure if it’s a MWF filter or some other I kind (I need to check the manual, obviously), but that should get replaced soon (though doubtful before Saturday). The only thing left to do is a quick sweep and mop of the floors and boxing up some toys. Because I’m not sure when people will be arriving and there will be children of various ages, I’m not taking any chances with toys getting broken or eaten. (Or my Christmas tree getting taken down by a light saber!). So I’ve explained to the boys why some things will disappear for a day or two and they’re cool with it.

Drew’s set up an area in the basement where the kids can play. We’ll have Christmas movies, a selection of toys, and I’ll get some Christmas coloring sheets or some activity that’s easy to do. I’m realizing that it’s much easier to manage the little ones on the guest list when you can let them run around outside, LOL! It’ll be fine, though.

Otherwise things are just rolling along. Drew and I watched Angels & Demons the other night and I thought it was good. I read the book years ago and don’t remember much so I can’t really say how they compare. I’ve also made it through Chapter One of Julie & Julia. I tried to go at it with an open mind. Really, I did. But she doesn’t exactly come across as very likable so I’m having a hard time getting into the book. I mean, when someone writes (about supposedly being found curled up with a copy of the Atlantic Monthly at age five), “I think the point behind this was that I’d been singled out as an early entrant to the ranks of the intellectually superior,” it’s hard to take her seriously. I suppose she meant that tongue-in-cheek, but… really, I doubt it. I’ll force myself to read a bit more before I return it to the library. Just not really my cup of tea.

Speaking of tea (how’s that for a segue?)… I picked up some of Harney & Sons’ Hot Cinnamon Spice. Ooooh, it’s so good! I also have a small tin of their Christmas tea that I haven’t tried yet. Maybe tonight. I’m also on the lookout for a new knitting or crochet project. I really should make hats, you know, but… I think I also have to start a scarf or something that is a little more challenging. What’s on your needles at the moment?

menu plan monday

menu plan monday

Another week begins! Can you believe how close we are to Christmas? Saturday we’re hosting a holiday open house and a few of our friends will be dropping by for good food, good drinks, and a good time.  It will be nice to see everyone. I’m thinking of hosting a larger-scale BBQ in the summer and hopefully more people can come. With the holidays (and the rather short notice we gave everyone) a lot of people already had plans. At any rate, I’m trying to make room in our fridge and freezer so that we can prep food for the party this weekend and so that I’ll have room for food for Christmas brunch next weekend. So no big grocery trip for me this week or next week (aside from milk and produce, and naturally any food I need for our gatherings). We’ll be eating from the pantry to clear it all out!

Sunday: Leftover pizza for the boys, buffalo quesadillas for the grown-ups
Monday: Turkey burgers, tater tots, green salad
Tuesday: Tortellini soup (from the freezer)
Wednesday: Roast chicken, vegetables, pasta salad
Thursday: Sweet Italian sausage on a roll, pasta salad, vegetables
Friday:  Leftovers
Saturday: Party food!

For more menu ideas, visit Organizing Junkie.

a shopping story

Last week I was at a discount store just looking around, not particularly wanting to buy anything. This is one of those stores that sells overstocks of everything from shampoo to olives to fat burners. They have a little bit of everything. So there I am looking at the calendars when a woman walks over and starts flipping through the calendars as well. Out of nowhere she says, “I’m looking for a cat calendar.” I’d just seen one. It featured black and white photos of cats doing funny things. So I handed it to her.

She took one look at it, then looked back at me and said, “Oh no. It has to be cute.” I looked at her and kind of rolled my eyes. I continued flipping through the stack and saw another one. Stupid me, trying to be helpful, thought that the full-color cats calendar would be more appealing. I said, “How about this one?” and showed it to her.

She looked at it. She sighed. She said, “Maybe I should have said kittens.”

That’s when I decided to leave the calendar aisle. People are crazy. What can I say?


It’s so cold out there today! I went out and finished (yay!) the last tiny bit of Christmas shopping that I had to do. The stores and roads are crazy, though. I managed to smile through it all, but there are a lot of really nasty people out and about, unfortunately. On there other hand there were a few super nice people who went out of their way to hold open doors for me and the baby and offered to help with packages. So there’s a little bit of holiday spirit out there, at least. 🙂

We’re all doing better here. Laura has been having an awful time with teething this week, but today she seems a lot more herself. Lots of smiles and giggles, and less screaming and tears. Noah is starting to do better, too. The doctor thinks he might be asthmatic. It doesn’t really surprise me since I had asthma as a child and still have issues when I get a cold, but it’s still a bummer. She wanted to do an albuterol treatment at the office to see (they obviously have all kinds of medical equipment there). It did help so she gave us a prescription. I already had a nebulizer at home so at least I didn’t need to worry about that. We’re only doing the breathing treatments once or twice a day, but they are making a difference. He has a lot more energy today and his appetite is back to normal so it looks like he, too, is well on the road to recovery.

So I think we’ll just try to keep it relaxed this weekend. Except for Jake. Jake’s social calendar is filled, LOL. Last night he had a Cub Scout field trip to a water treatment facility. I know, it sounds a little weird but he loved it — he was totally fascinated. He is very interested in anything related to nature/science/the environment so this was right up his alley. Tonight is the pack meeting. The scouts are carolling at a local nursing home and then heading over to the elementary school for cocoa and cookies. And then tomorrow morning is one of the “special Saturday classes” required for First Holy Communion. So we’ll go to 9AM Mass and then… something afterwards. I’m not really sure what the topic is for this one; I think it’ll be about the sacrament of reconciliation. But hopefully Saturday afternoon will be lazy, as will Sunday afternoon.

If I’m lucky, maybe… just maybe I’ll get some crochet in!

jake & noah, cinematographers

One of the funniest parts of yesterday was watching the boys make up Lego movies. They do this a lot, you know. They drag out all the Legos, create characters (often abstract looking with crazy names inspired by things they’ve seen, like Hubberton Forge and Dr. Inferno) and make up scenery and create these little “movies.” We have a couple on video and they’re hysterical. Often long and drawn out (Jake is very detail-oriented), but funny nonetheless. They’re always talking about what happens in one of their “Skateboard Heroes” movies. I asked Noah how many movies there are. His reply: “Oh there’s six. I mean eleven. I mean… oh, I don’t know.”

Well, there are quite a few. That I know. Here’s a little interview with Noah:

Me: How did you come up with the idea for Skateboard Heroes?
Noah: It’s a secret.

Me: Who is your favorite character?
Noah: Me — Agent Booster. Don’t you know that?

What’s going to happen in the next one?
Noah: I didn’t even think about the part in the movies. Ughh. Mommy!

Well, he’s got the Hollywood attitude going. Artists. Sheesh.