Monday, November 30, 2015

Life Lessons

These past two Mondays have put me through the wringer in the way only a Monday can. Both of them have echoed the same theme - I messed up, I'm sorry, please help me fix it!

When I was in college I worked at a rubber stamp shop (I know, right) and it was such an amazing place. It was about this time of year and I had some alone time in the shop so I decided to create custom stamped gift tags for my Christmas gifts. The studio was filled to overflowing with ribbons, beads, stamps, inks, papers and the like. Being a rubber stamping novice, I was completely in over my head. I was using a 12 days of Christmas stamp set and stamping red first, letting it dry, then gold on top. Squish! Right into the gold ink pad went the rubber stamp I had just used to ink the red design. I had forgotten to wipe the stamp and now I had partridge-in-a-pear-tree'd the gold ink pad with red, rendering it useless to any true stamping connoisseur. What did I do? I panicked. And I cleaned it all up, slapped the top back on the ink pad and put it back where I'd found it. Two days later, when the owner asked me what had happened to the ink pad, I lied. "Who knows?" Ugh, Amanda. What were you thinking? Who else would have done it? (The elf on the shelf wasn't even a thing yet.)

Last Monday I handed the lady at the paint counter the wrong chip. She mixed it for me and 8 hours later when I was ready to paint the dining room, I had a complete panic. I had erroneously had her mix Sherwin Williams Peach Preserves when what I wanted was Valspar Peach Preserves. "I messed up, I'm sorry, please help me fix it!" Against Lowes' policy, the manager took my bad paint back and mixed me new.

Last night at 8pm, after procrastinating a MONTH on a quilting swap project, I realized all the blocks I'd made for the project were half an inch short in both directions and could not be fixed and mailed by today's deadline. "I messed up, I'm sorry, please help me fix it!" I got approval from the swap moderator to stitch any kind of block that I could make work with my messed up blocks and already cut fabric. Even still, everything I touched seemed to go wrong because I was rushing things. I stayed up until 3am working on it and worked from 7am to 4pm today, in my PJs, with nary a break for food nor drink. Julian was very gracious to me, as was the swap moderator (and even the sweet lady at the post office) and I got my blocks sent off in the knick of time.

If I could say anything to my 18-year-old self, it would be that by refusing to admit that you are wrong, you are stealing opportunities other people have to show you grace and help you make things right. People are so much more willing to offer forgiveness to a person who can say "this is all my fault, and I'm sorry, and I can't make it right without you."

Life lessons. They take it right out of me. I need a meal and a bath.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

More of the same


It still feels so very November-y but down come the harvest wreath and up goes the tinsel. Today we planted real trees and erected artificial ones. We were outside in our short sleeves and inside eating mitten shaped cookies. Tis the season, I suppose. How was your holiday weekend?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Yarning Right Along

hello, clementine :: knitting yellow through yellow stained glass
the works in progress :: last week's best sunset :: the new dining room

I wanted to do a podcast video tonight {Tuesday, 1:48am} while Julian was in the shower - you know, in between rolling up the cheese ball and getting the last coat of paint on the dining room. Julian thought maybe tonight just wasn't the night for a podcast. Smart man. Besides, if you're in the US, you'd have to hide in the bathroom and watch it on your phone anyhow.

So I'm knitting a zillion things. After all that thinking I did putting together last week's post, the ideas just kept coming out of nowhere and now I have - let me count - five projects on the needles and the bandana cowl is finished and sitting in the to-be-blocked pile. Its a pile now, the blocking I have to do.

Reading? The only reading here is of recipes and paint cans. How about yourself?
Join up at

Monday, November 23, 2015

Everything Bagel Toast

Garlic bread, schmarlic bread. 'Round here, it's 'everything bagel' toast.  I bought my 'everything bagel' spice from The Spice & Tea Exchange in Williamsburg, Va. Alternatively, if you have a well stocked spice cupboard, you can whip up the blend yourself.

'Everything Bagel' Spice

1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 Tbsp dried garlic
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
2 tsp nice coarse salt
1 tsp fennel seeds

Making the toast is as simple as ... making toast! Use unsalted butter since the blend already has plenty. Also, you need to use a toaster oven because butter in a pop-up toaster is a fire hazard!

We get sliced bread with no preservatives, so if I start to get nervous that we aren't using it quickly enough for it to keep, or if it goes stale, I pre-make my toast but pop it into the freezer pre-toasting.

Everything Bagel Toast (for the freezer)

1 Tbsp pre-mixed 'Everything Bagel' Spice
1 stk softened unsalted butter
sliced bread of your choice

Mix the butter and spice well, trying not to waste it because it will stick to everything. Slather a good bit onto each slice of bread. Flash freeze individual pieces laid out on a cookie sheet, then toss them into a zip-top bag for long term keeping, though they won't really last long anyway!

Friday, November 20, 2015

pincushion upcycle + art history lesson

In our new house, I have a new nest. A spot. A space. It is were I have most of what I need to get me through the day: my checklist, my coaster, my chargers of all kinds, my laptop, etc. Also within reach of my spot are always many useful things such as scissors, tape, and a needle and thread. My spot looks like this.

In our old house, I kept a pincushion on my ironing board and another on my bedside table. It didn't take me long to realize that my nest was sorely lacking in this department. After a wee bit of pin-spiration, I remembered a picture my Grandmother gave me for no particular reason other than to be rid of it. At least if there is a special story about it, she didn't tell me! And then bam - the idea was there and the timing was right.

And there you have it. A peachy perfect pincushion. That fabric doesn't match one single thing in this room but it makes me happy - c'est la vie.

And now for the art history lesson.

I was kind of amused to dismantle the picture frame to find that the original framed work was a little print of The Herring Net by Winslow Homer, a self-taught American painter whose works I rather enjoy. What a treat. I think I'll keep it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

mindful making

everything bagel toast :: mini-calzones :: roast pumpkin :: cranberry scones :: pumpkin butter

I have come to loathe pasta. Too many dinners in the last six months have fallen back on the last resort. So much so that now, instead of enjoying a lovely pasta in red meat sauce with toasty brown garlic bread on the side and a crisp green salad, when I sling a bowl of heaped up buttered noodles across the table at Julian and call it dinner, the pasta looks back at me and says, "you fail."

A few weeks back, I was reading some Dottie Angel and she said she planned on devoting her Sunday afternoons to mindful making in the kitchen. That hit a chord with me - mindful making - and now I have been trying to do the same.

I've been making things on Sundays in big batches, then stowing them away in the freezer in portions that we can use easily. Here is a list of what I still have fresh in my mind:

- 5 lbs crock pot pulled pork {recipe}
- everything bagel toast - we will talk more about this soon
- mini calzones, baked and unbaked (we've already eaten them!)
- 3 quarts pumpkin puree
- 2 quarts pumpkin butter
- 8 quarts applesauce
- 2 loaves whole wheat bread, sliced
- cranberry lemon scones {recipe}
- waffles
- lasagna (we've already eaten it!)
- 40lbs Zaycon fresh chicken (20 pounds uncooked, 10lbs cooked as "taco chicken," and 10lbs cooked in the crockpot)- we will talk more about this soon

Long story short, I think it is working. I still have to do the other half of that HUGE pumpkin today, so I think I will toss in some red lentils, coconut milk and curry spice and make some soup for the freezer. I feel a bit like Strega Nona with my giant pumpkin!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

YA Podcast 01

UPDATED! Thanks for letting me know the video was set to private. All better now.
First ever attempt at a podcast! Let me know what you think.

Picking up the brown on the left side there.

Featured Yarns

Featured Patterns

Featured Folks
Ginny @ Small Things
Tracy @ Clover
Amanda @ Sweet Potato Claire

Featured Books
The Bean Trees by Barabara Kingsolver
Clementine in the Kitchen by Samuel Chamberlain

Featured Shops
          Little Things Studio - I just found out that all proceeds 
         for THIS Thursday and Friday in the shop will go to support
 World Relief's work with the refugee crisis.

** Praise the Lord that I can sit in my warm home and talk about knitting and reading
while so much of this world is in disarray. This reality is not lost on me.  **

"What the wicked dreads will come upon him,
but the desire of the righteous will be granted.
When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more,
but the righteous is established forever."
Proverbs 10:24-25

Monday, November 16, 2015


Among many other things around here, this is happening. Thanks to my untiring mother-in-law, we have painted everything under the chair rail in the living room and removed all the wallpaper. My word. That wallpaper.

The top layer is easy to rip off. It leaves the papery glue part behind. Then there is a system of spray, wait, steam, peel that gets us down to the gross nastiness that is the adhesive residue. That gets steamed again and scraped with a biscuit cutter. Yes, a biscuit cutter. Desperate times.

I've patched all my scrapes, dings, and holes with wall compound and I have a wee bit more to sand before applying the primer and paint. Having a million additional things to do on my list today, I will be satisfied if I can get the primer on but I'd be tickled pink to get the paint on, too. At this point, the one yellow wall (Sherwin Williams Anjou Pear) is more of a distraction than an encouragement. In order to paint the other walls, I will have to stop staring at this one!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

An un-post

^ what life feels like right now ^

I'm just popping on to say that I am knitting and I am reading but haven't the opportunity to write and photograph. So here is a random stock photo of my life.

I've totally fallen in love with Kate's podcasts for Yarn Along over at bluestocking. What do you think - should I podcast all my knitting and reading? Some days it is very boring but other days (and the more irons I have in the fire with gift knitting for Christmas) the more interesting it will be.


TTFN (< My nephew taught me to say that in place of Ta-Ta-For-Now and it always makes me giggle.)

Monday, November 9, 2015


american beauty berry :: buck rub :: waning asparagus 
swiss chard :: paperwhites :: japanese maple

Tis the season for those scented pinecones, you know the ones that sit in bins outside store entrances. I can smell them as soon as I open my car door in the parking lot and I hold my breath to get inside the way you do to avoid the rude smoker. I long to incinerate them with the fury of a thousand flaming suns. 

Tis also the season of having so much to notice. Trees that never have caught my eye are glorious now, unassuming bushes heavy laden with fruit. Julian alerted me to the new-sprouting paperwhites I planted exactly according to the directions. "In fall, when soil temps are 60F or lower," the book said. But the book didn't say anything about having two weeks of damp, hot misery at the beginning of November, when the leaves blanketed the darling bulbs with cozy, coaxing goodness. Daffodils for Thanksgiving. We'll see how this goes. 

Julian also noticed this evidence of the local rut on our adolescent pecan tree. The property line between us and our neighbors creates a natural avenue through which all our deer traffic travels, and the poor little tree can't do much about where it stands. We're probably going to lose that whole branch, a third of our tree. 

This got me thinking...

My current deer/critter repellant is nothing more than weather-proof granules saturated with cinnamon and clove oil. Hmmm. If I hate those pinecones as much as I do, how much more so might an animal with an even more sensitive schnoz hate them? 

I want those pinecones. I need those pinecones. But how will I get them home without contaminating my car? 

I will ship them parcel post. I will order them via carrier pigeon. I will walk the two miles to the nearest offending vendor and kick the bag of the nefarious things all the way home. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Come now.

downy woodpecker :: white breasted nuthatch :: nuthatch on tree :: chickadee in the redbud 
 chatty chickadee :: birdbath reflections :: wind in water

Sweet, contemplative moments have been few and far between. What with me being sick for the better part of the last month and Julian's workload, it's all we can do most weeks to eat, sleep and do it all over again. Our walks have come to a halt - first because of weather, secondly sickness, and lastly the time change.  

This past Saturday, we had a really lovely morning sitting on our deck, wandering the yard, bundled in coats, taking slow sips from our mugs like long draws from a grandpa's pipe. And playing. 

We got a new camera specifically for taking pictures of birds. We skitter through the house from one porch to the other, and back to the window again, like kids on Christmas morning with a new toy. The user's manual is so huge it came on a CD, so we really have no idea what we are doing and are essentially learning by trial and error. Who has time for reading instructions when you could just mash all the buttons? Come now.