Monday, December 28, 2009

New Inspiration Board

My mom gave me a new inspiration board for Christmas. We hung it over my work table, and I love it! (You can click on the image for a larger view.)

UPDATED: For those of you who are interested, I FINALLY found an online source for the bird cage memo board, Nell Hill's in Kansas City. And the price is better too!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Seasons greetings from my home to yours!

Now may the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you will abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sea Island Girl

I have been reminding myself lately that it is the "most wonderful time of the year." The busyness of the Christmas season is not my favorite part, and, thankfully, the busy part is almost over!

In between Christmas parties, online shopping, and running here and there, I have been helping my fabulous Aunt Chris set up her new blog, Sea Island Girl. Chris is one of the most talented and interesting people I know, so I encourage you to stop by her blog and to leave her a few words of encouragement as she embarks upon this new venture. Here's a peek at her blog banner, designed by moi. (Just letting you know that all creative endeavors have not ceased completely over here!)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My First Award

My friend Deborah, awarded me with my first ever blog award! Thank you, Deborah!

The way it works is that I answer the following questions in one word, and then pass the award on to five other bloggers.

Here are the questions:
1. Where is your cell phone? purse
2. Your hair? brown
3. Your mother? loving
4. Your father? forgetful
5. Your favorite food? Thai
6. Your dream last night? prophetic
7. Your favorite drink? tea
8. Your dream/goal? contentment
9. What room are you in? greatroom
10. Your hobby? crochet
11. Your fear? pain
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? present
13. Where were you last night? home
14. Something that you aren’t? quiet
15. Muffins? daily
16. Wish list item? books
17. Where did you grow up? Georgia
18. Last thing you did? Flickr
19. What are you wearing? pajamas
20. Your TV? off
21. Your Pets? dog
22. Friends? wise
23. Your life? blessed
24. Your mood? contented
25. Missing Someone? Brenda
26. Vehicle? Camry
27. Something you're not wearing? bra
28. Your favorite store? Barnes and Noble (Not one word, I know.)
29. Your favorite colour? Mauve
30. When was the last time you laughed? morning
31. Last time you cried? forgot
32. Your best friend? Brent
33. One place that I go to over and over? church
34. Facebook? no
35. Favorite place to eat? Moe's

And paying it forward...

Times Flies

Even I of erratic posting habits am amazed that more than two weeks have passed since my last post. Good things are happening around here, and I plan to share more about that with you later this week.

Good things that are not art and crafts, I'm afraid. But I do have a couple of projects to show you...

First, I went on a brief granny star making binge. I purchased Sarah London's patterns before I knew I could get free instructions here. I had visions of making a garland for Christmas, but I lost steam and got distracted with other interests. (Imagine that!) I've decided that I'm definitely more of a small project girl, and the timing of this realization is especially important. (I'm trying to build suspense... I AM NOT pregnant!)

I also finally got around to doing a little piece of artwork for my friend, Tracey. When she saw this journal page, she indicated she would like a version for herself. In true Kathryn Estelle fashion, I had all kinds of grandiose plans for a mixed media masterpiece, but I never got father than painting a honeycomb background. In a moment of inspiration, I decided that I would make it postcard size (4x6), and all of my design quandaries were over! The cute little bee stamp came from Michael's. I hope you like it, Tracey!

By the way, I want to mention that I haven't been doing the "Follow" thing because I wasn't exactly sure how it worked, and I never got around to taking the time to find out. I subscribe to tbe blogs I read in Bloglines. However, I am gradually "following" as I visit my friends, favorites, and others who are following me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WIP Wednesday: Rearranging and Organizing

Monday evening I was overcome with the urge to rearrange my living room, and that urge was brought to fruition yesterday afternoon. Of course, the cabinet that fit perfectly to the right of the windows HAD been storing some of my art supplies, so that lead to my needing to reorganize my creative space closet.

Thankfully, after all of this work, I am extremely pleased with how everything is turning out. I'm only showing you the part of the project that is done. My dining room table, guest bed, and kitchen island are covered with stuff that still needs to be put away!

Now I just need for my husband to make me one of these. I posted a photo on the fridge to help him remember. ;-)

In other news, the weaving-in of the ends on Brady's blanket is now in progress! An FO is imminent!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Autumn Welcome

We went to visit my parents this weekend, and this is the view that greeted us when we pulled up to the front door. The photo really doesn't do it justice. I took it in the morning as we were about to leave. The evening light would have been much better. My mother is quite the artist, isn't she?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

WIP Wednesday: Brady's Blanket

I had no intention of taking a fall break from blogging, but that's exactly what happened, isn't it? There hasn't been much crafting going on. Other good things that I hope to tell you about soon though.

The blanket that I planned to show you a month ago still isn't finished, but it is high on my list of priorities for the coming days. I'm pleased with how it is turning out, and I'm enjoying working on it, but there hasn't been as much DVD watching going on lately, which explains my lack of progress. Now that the days are cooler, I'm planning to sit down with a cup of tea and some music to get it done.

Thank you for all of the nice comments on my last post! I really enjoyed hearing from some new readers!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WIP Wednesday

Today begins the second new feature I'm planning to post regularly—WIP Wednesday. For those of you who are not crafters, WIP stands for work in progress.

This week's featured WIP is a knitted feather-and-fan scarf that I begin months ago with the intention of it being my travel knitting. It has traveled to North Carolina and to Montana and Wyoming as well as on shorter trips within my home state. Unfortunately, I finished traveling before I finished the project! I haven't picked it up in weeks as I have been occupied with other projects, but now that I know who I am knitting it for and for what occasion, I am more motivated to get it done. For now, at least.

This is the second feather-and-fan scarf I have knitted. This one is different from the first one in that it uses one skein of sock yarn rather than three balls of a heavier weight yarn—perfect for portability. It also includes a purl row within the pattern repeat. IF there is a next time, I will not purl that row!

I am using Tiennie's Old Shale Scarf pattern and Sweet Grass Wool Toe Jammies yarn. Isn't it pretty?

Update 7-21-11: Pretty or no, I finally frogged it. I am not a scarf knitter! :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Homemade Bath Salts

Last week, I made a lunch date via email with a friend that I haven't seen in months. Later that day, I realized I had missed her birthday earlier in the month. She is the type of person who can appreciate a handmade gift because she makes them herself, so I decided to make her something. Because I was short on time and resources, I decided on bath salts.

I Google'd, and there is an abundance of recipes. From looking at a number of them, this is what I came up with:

4 cups of Epsom Salt
10 drops of lavender essential oil (I got mine here.)
1/2 cup lavender buds, optional

Place Epsom Salts in a bowl, and add essential oil. Mix thoroughly. Add lavender buds, and mix again. That's it! This recipe makes enough for several gifts.

For packaging, I filled up a mason jar and wrapped it in lavender gingham. (To learn more about wrapping with fabric, see Sonia's post here.) I was very pleased with the result, and I hope my friend is too!

Added bonus: I'm still enjoying the scent of lavender in the kitchen!

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Good Weekend" Defined

It was a good weekend. For some people, a good weekend may consist of a great trip or some special adventure, maybe shopping and a movie; but for me, a good weekend is one wherein I am able to stay home, accomplish much, AND enjoy myself and my family. I had hoped to complete a crochet project that I have been working on for months, which would give me a much needed FO to share here, but it didn't happen.

A few things that DID happen:
(1) Lots of housework on Saturday, including dish washing! I must have exorcised some kind of dish washing demon with my confession on Friday because I washed dishes BY HAND three times on Saturday! This was prompted by my frustration with the dishwasher. Not only has it never worked really well, but I have never been able to master the flow of loading and unloading. There was a never-ending accumulation of dishes on the counter waiting to be loaded, and I rarely seemed to be able to run the dishwasher fewer than two times a day—definitely not green! I decided that to maintain the kitchen as I would like, some hand washing would be required, so I invested in a dish rack. It says a lot about how much I have cut back on my consumption when the purchase of a dish rack can bring so much pleasure! LOL

(2) We made homemade dog treats. Easy recipe. Four ingredients. Lots of fun for the girl. And the dog loves them. Highly recommended!

(3) We had a visitor. He was in the back yard when we came home from church on Sunday. His timing was perfect since his photo is needed for the reptile section of my son's animal notebook for school. Isn't he/she cute?

I hope your weekend was just a nice as ours!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cookin' from Scratch

My life has continued to revolve around food this week. I am taking charge of my health and striving to live more simply and frugally, and all of this requires a great deal more attention to food than I have been accustomed to for some time. Bascially, we are eliminating processed and convenience foods and trying to eat whole foods as much as possible. (I am also currently forgoing sugar, caffeine, and most starches.) Therefore, I have been thinking about food, shopping for food, cooking food, and cleaning up the kitchen much more than I am used to, and it has taken up a great deal of my time.

I generally enjoy cooking, and have had periods of intense interest in cookbooks and watching Food Network. But my passion subsided with the realization that the other three people in my home are very picky eaters and often do not appreciate the things I cook for them. This limited my motivation to cook, and we gradually began eating out more and relying on convenience foods.

Two other factors I am up against are my lack of enthusiasm for grocery shopping and for dish washing. If I lived somewhere with a farmer's market and a well-stocked grocery store, the shopping thing would not be so much of an issue, but I live in a rural area where tomato paste in a tube is unheard of, and I can count on one hand the organic vegetables that are available.

The dish washing aversion is most likely due to the fact the I had to wash dishes as a child. My mom had excema on her hands, so it was my job to wash the dishes every night after dinner. I do have a dishwasher now, but that doesn't seem to make much difference. For me it doesn't appear to be the time involved but the task itself. We all have these types of aversions, I suppose. (For the record, among home keeping tasks, I also dislike dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, and ironing.)

For inspiration and information, I have been reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in the evenings before bed. As I revisit the issues I originally familiarized myself with years ago by reading Wendell Berry's essays, I hope that the changes I am making are for good this time, and that I will not allow myself to fall back into the typical American mode of mindless consumption.

Top photo: Breakfast focaccia from No Need to Knead. (For my children!)
Bottom photo: Lentil stew based on the recipe from The All New Joy of Cooking (1997).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Puttin' Up Pears

Right now, there are pear preserves on the stove. Earlier this week, I made pear honey. And later today, I'm making peach jam.

I haven't done any canning for the past couple of years, but this year I was determined to take advantage of the abundance of Kieffer pears from my in-laws' trees. Kieffer pears are common in older Southern gardens. They are very firm and little bit gritty, so a long slow simmer is required to make good preserves. Recipes are hard to find, but I think I have the confidence now to experiment a little bit. If my efforts are successful, I will report on it here and provide a recipe.

My first canning lessons were more than eleven years ago with my friend, Debbie. She came over to my house and walked me through the process of making strawberry jam. Since that time, I've put up blueberries and peaches, in addition to pears.

Canning is one of those things that the thinking about is actually harder than the doing. Once you get the necessary equipment and practice needed to determine the setup that works for you, all it requires is time and the availability of good produce. To get started, get a copy of the Ball Blue Book. Follow the instructions, and you will be fine.

Do you do any canning? If so, what is your favorite thing to put up? Do you have any favorite books or other resources on canning and preserving?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Crochet & Aromatherapy

Yesterday during piano lessons I finished the little crochet project I started over the weekend. It is a tumbler cover from the book Vintage Crochet. This was my first project using beads and Paton's Grace, and I plan on working with both again.

Crocheting with beads is simple, as long as you count out the correct number of beads, which I did not do, and follow the pattern correctly, which I also did not do. This resulted in my having to make some adjustments towards the end, but it being a small project made it an easy task. Paton's Grace is a DK weight cotton yarn that is relatively soft, doesn't separate too easily, and provides nice stitch definition. I highly recommend it for projects like this one, especially for anyone like me who wants to do thread crochet type projects without actually working with thread!

Months ago, the lovely and very talented, Anna, sent me some lavender from her home in the South of France. I had intended to use it to make sachets, but since one of the issues I have been dealing with recently is sleeplessness, I thought that perhaps some lavender at my bedside would help.

I emptied the buds into a vintage Ball canning jar whose lid is no more, placed my little crocheted tumbler cover on top, and, voila! Aromatherapy! I don't know if it's helping me sleep, but it sure is pretty! Thanks again, Anna!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

For My Children

I was recently inspired to make these totes for my children's piano music. I purchased the bags more than a year ago for half price at Hobby Lobby. I made a template using clip art I found online, and the fabric for the notes was from my stash. I secured the notes with Heat n Bond Lite, and I embroidered around the edges using DMC size 5 perle cotton. I used a blanket stitch on my daughter's, but I was running out of time when I got to my son's so I used a straight stitch for his. I am pleased with the results, and my sweet little ones were delighted with their gifts—delivered just in time for their first piano lessons of the school year yesterday afternoon!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Artwork...

... was featured online at Blue Ridge Country magazine. I didn't realize it had already been published! Check it out here!

Some Knitting

I made some baby wash cloths for Laurel last week using Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton yarn. One skein made four wash cloths with about two yards left over. I used the Grandma's Favorite Dish Cloth pattern repeating row two until I had thirty stitches on the needle. Throw in some Burt's Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash, and you have a green baby gift! I hope you like it, Laurel!
Now I've got to go work on a little something I'm making for the kiddos. It includes some embroidery

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A New Era Begins

For the first time on Friday, BOTH of my children went to school. My mom was here, so I had a fun day with her.

We spent some time sewing, and I finally made a pillow for which I had done the embroidery months ago. I think my aversion to the sewing machine may be waning ... a little bit.

We went out to lunch, and then we went to one of our favorite shops. I picked up a few things including some vintage buttons.

With the potential for so much more crafting time, I've really been inspired in recent days, and I anticipate much more frequent blogging in the future!

Thank you, Mom, for all of your encouragement and inspiration! I love you!

Friday, May 15, 2009


I am forty years old today. It is surreal. I clearly remember my mom turning forty when I was in college. I will be forty when my youngest child goes to Kindergarten. I'm not the least bit depressed. I wouldn't go back to twenty for all of the money in the world!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rippling Along

Well, I finished another project I've been working on for months. As I was finishing it up in the car this weekend, my husband even said that he would be glad when it was done!

This is my first round ripple, which I made for my cousins baby...born in October! Thankfully, it's way too big for a newborn, and she should be able to use it for many years to come. I used Bernat Softee Chunky and a L hook. The pattern can be found here. Raveled here.

I am raring to go on my next ripple project, but it is somewhat hush hush as the recipient has been known to read this blog from time to time. ;-) I usually always have a crochet project going for watching videos and riding in the car, but I'm going to have to work on this next one at other times as well so that I can finish it in a more timely fashion!

Also, in crochet news, I'm in the midst of teaching a beginning crochet class. The class is small, and my students are doing very well. So far, over the past few years, I've taught more than twenty people to crochet. It's not a very lucrative gig, but I enjoy teaching and perpetuating the craft. I'll try to do a post on my classes...some time.

Edited to add: By the way, we did celebrate Valentine's Day this year! A few photos are here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Embroidered Art: Walk

This past weekend, I finally completed a project I have had in progress for several months, and since there has been some interest expressed in how I did it, I wanted to share the process here.

First of all, inspiration: The design was inspired by Isaiah 30:21—Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it, " whenever you turn to the right or to the left. There are also numerous other verses that encourage walking with God that come to mind, but this is the verse that prompted the project. I decided to make it as a belated birthday gift for some like-minded loved ones who I know will appreciate it.

Next, the drawing: While I am working on improving my drawing skills, I was not confident enough in my own abilities to draw the sandals without some help. I took a photo of my Birkenstocks, and I rendered the photo in my photo editing software to produce an outline. I then traced the outline onto tracing paper using a transfer pencil and ironed the design onto my chosen fabric. The word, "Walk," and my intials were written freehand with a water-soluable marker.

Materials: The fabric I used is a linen/cotton blend that I purchased at the local discount store. It was okay, but I'm still searching for my perfect linen or linen-blend fabric for embroidery. The stitching* was done in dark brown DMC size 5 perle cotton, my thread of choice. I like the thickness and texture as well as not having to separate threads as you do with stranded cotton.

Mounting/Framing: I purchased an inexpensive art canvas at the discount store for mounting the project. I sprayed the canvas with Elmer's Craft Bond following the instructions for a temporary bond, and then placed the embroidered fabric on top smoothing it as best I could. I flipped the canvas over and folded the excess fabric over, then glued, taped, and stapled it on the back of the wooden frame.

I am very pleased with the finished project, and I hope the recipeints will be too. I had considered making a pillow, but I'll do whatever I can to avoid the sewing machine!

* I used size 8 black perle cotton for my intials.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I was tagged by Doda, to post the fourth photo in the fourth folder on my PC. I told her I would have to fudge a bit due to the way I have my photos organized, so here's what I have to offer...

This little bird was made from a felted, thrifted sweater by my friend, Elizabeth, who owns a wonderful store, AND she is in the process of setting up her Etsy shop, Greenhill Handmade. I bought this bird for my cousin's new baby girl whose nursery is decorated in brown and pink. While I'm at it, here's another one of Elizabeth's birds...

This one was purchased for my son for Christmas. Aren't they wonderful?!

If you would like to play along, consider yourself tagged. Post the fourth photo in the fourth folder on you computer, and tag four friends, or take the easy way out like I did.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Welcome February!

I am so glad January is over! I had two colds and a sinus infection, and apart from the brief cleaning out frenzy that commenced as I was recovering from cold #1, the month was not very productive. Two bright spots last week were in the from of packages from France! I received these goodies from Sonia...

And this Etsy order from Anna arrived the same day!

Thank you, ladies, for brightening a dreary week!

I've been crocheting some, and I made a birthday gift for a friend from an embroidery project completed several months ago. I started a knitting project and promptly frogged it when I realized I was being too optimistic as to what I could accomplish feeling as I did. Last week, I picked up a book that I put aside a while back, and now I find it hard to put down. Finally, this is the season for Masterpiece Classic, so it wasn't a dreary month altogether. However, I am hoping for more crafting in February, which should mean more posting as well.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Gentle Arts

Last night, I finished reading The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket. It's been my bedtime reading for several weeks now, and I loved it. I feel like Jane is something of a more erudite and sophisticated English alter ego. She knits, crochets, quilts, does embroidery, and bakes.

The book is interesting and beautiful, and while I have read some reviews that accuse Jane of intellectual snobbery, I think she's being authentic. She is who she is, and all of her experiences have clearly shaped her domestic life and interests. I'm looking forward to trying most of the recipes, and I have already been inspired by Jane's love of tulips...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yes, I Still Knit...

... and the formula for easing back into it after recovering from a seemingly never ending project is:
My completed Dolores Park Cowl...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Handyman

My handyman helped fix my broken heart, AND he's handy with a pencil and rule!

by James Taylor

Hey girls, gather round
Listen to what I'm putting down
Hey baby, I'm your handy man

I'm not the kind to use a pencil or rule
I'm handy with love and I'm no fool
I fix broken hearts, I know that I truly can

If your broken heart should need repair
Then I am the man to see
I whisper sweet things, you tell all your friends
They'll come runnin to me

Here is the main thing that I want to say
I'm busy 24 hours a day
I fix broken hearts, I know that I truly can

Come, come, come, come, come
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Come, come, come, come, come
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Theyll come runnin to me

That's me
I'm your handy man

If you're not familiar with the song, you can listen here.