Saturday, January 31, 2009

save handmade update

Looks like CPSIA has a year to be revised. It's good news and bad. Here's a link from craftsanity. Check out her link to overlawyered. And for you podcast lovers, she has a great podcast. I'm a faithful subscriber :)

Friday, January 30, 2009

marshmallow update and more

I know some of you have been wondering..."Where are the pictures of the new room?" and "Is james really starting school this month?" or "Has becca seen any new birds lately?" and "Did she dare try the marshmallows yet with her fancy machine?" OK maybe not all of you have been clamoring for this info but the questions have been asked.

New room status: still in progress. The floors and walls are done and are beautiful. Stuff is moved in. Unfortunately due to the enormity of my art and crafting supplies the beauty is hard to see. So until I get some shelves hung I don't think pictures are worth it. Good news though--my james will be hanging them this weekend. He's such a super guy.

Speaking of my wonderful james, he starts school Monday. Due to the economic situation around here and our goal to be debt free, we were debating whether he should start now or wait another year. But he really needs a new challenge and we will make it work.

No new bird sightings. Although the eagle and hawk were spotted again this week. Oh wait, I did get a beautiful watercolor painting of a blue bird sitting in his nest from our friend Lance. It's now hanging in my office at work. It's cute because the bird looks a bit grumpy and you don't often see that portrayed in pictures of fat, little birds.

And last but not least...I give you the glorious MARSHMALLOWS!

Yes I did it! Cross it off the list! They were divine! It took two attempts and two recipes to get it right, but I have conquered! I had a few taste testers (kids and adults) and they all agreed --way better than store bought. The request for the recipe was confirmation. I would now like to experiment with color and flavor. Can you imagine deep pink ones flavored with a bit of cinnamon and cut out in heart shapes for Valentine's Day?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

crafty/arty/sewy/creativity room/studio

As I type this, my james is working on my new crafty/arty/sewy/creativity/ room/studio whatever you wanna call it--it's my space dedicated to creating and making! It's a birthday gift from my parents and james. I actually just wanted some basic shelving and the clutter moved out of that room (we were using it as a closet/storage area-- it's only a 8'x12' room). But with the help of birthday money from my folks and some cash I've stashed away, we were able to buy some fabulous laminate flooring on which my chair will glide effortlessly. (As of an hour ago the flooring was this awful 12"x12" tile with like 1/2" grout that my rolling chair always got stuck on, which therefore resulted in many foul words spewing from my mouth. Very frustrating.) The flooring was way on sale or it would have been low end cheap-o carpet, which was fine but the laminate is more practical for the purpose. We were also able to get some paint in a light shade of green. I wanted to go bold and colorful, but decided since there is very little natural light (only about a 10"x20" north facing window) in our basement, I didn't want to feel like I was creating in a cave. I'll make some color pops with furniture and other items. My mom and I found a great little shelf and a quilt rack in a turquoise blue at a vintage shop a few days ago that will look fabulous against the green. I think a little red or orange-y or dark brown curtain will look great, too. I'll for sure post some pictures when it's finished!

We'll be sluffing church to paint--hey it's my birthday tomororw, no need to judge :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

i've got sunshine, on a cloudy...uh, smoggy day

Here in the Salt Lake valley we have a terrible inversion going on. Ew. Most of the snow has melted and what's left is just grimy, dirty, sooty snow. Ew. The news man on the tube last night said if you're out it in for any significant amount of time it's equivalent to smoking 2 packs of cigarettes. Ew. So I've been trying my darnedest to stay positive and not breathe too deeply.
This morning I got up early with Aida and made some muffins. Nothing like a good cup of coffee and a fresh muffin in the morning to chase away the smoggy morning blues.

(Someday I will clean the outside of that window...someday.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

on the needles

It's been forever since I've been bloggy about fiber. If you've been wondering, yes indeed I have been knitting. Current projects:

1. A pencil case for HELPSudan. (still need to add the drawstring closure)

Which inspired the following conversation, last night...

James: Whatcha knitting now?

Me: A pencil case.

James: For?

Me: Sudan.

(Insert brief pause.)

James: Like Africa Sudan?

Me: Yup.

James: Oh.

(Insert brief pause.)

James: What's for dinner?

As you can see, he's curiosity only goes so far when it comes to my knitting.

Anyway, I've decided to use a different pattern than the one I originally thought I was going to use. The original one calls for 2 circular needles and I didn't want to have to go buy them. So, I'm using Pencil Case for Darfur by Kieran Foley. I think it's only available via Ravelry. If you're a member click here for the pattern.

2. More monkeys!

I'm using Koigu superwash wool. Superwash is wonderful. It still holds the warmth of wool but you can actually wash it in the machine. (on the gentle setting of course). I believe they treat the wool with chemicals for it to have this great quality. Although I'm not entirely sure and don't want to do the research because I'm willing to bet I'll discover it's harmful for the environment and guilty knitting is just not something I want to deal with. Being an SUV owner and all.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

more rare bird sightings

As I was driving home yesterday, I saw this on the side of the road...

A huge bird in the fields. I pulled over because I'm a sucker for all things birds. He flew to the top of a power pole.

It was then I realized what kind of bird he was...

That's right!! A Bald Eagle!!! I was so so excited! I've never seen one out in the "wild" before. I inched closer and closer to him; my camera happily snapping away. I think this is my favorite shot though...

He was looking at me as if to say, "Crazy girl. Do you know how silly you are?"
I looked at him thinking, "Beautiful eagle. Do you know how breathtaking you are?" as we were driving home from church we saw this big guy...

I think he was some sort of a hawk. But for some reason he only wanted to let the camera see his underbelly. A gorgeous underbelly to be flashing about though.

I told james I think that when I'm old, I'll be a bird lady rather than a cat lady (Just to clarify, I never really wanted to be a cat lady--but if I had to choose one of the two...). I'll have a big picture window looking out into a yard filled with lots of bird feeders. A good rocking chair and some nice knitting by my side. For outings I'll go feed the ducks or visit the feathered creatures at the aviary.
Actually when I really think about this, my great grandma on my dad's side was a bird lady. She had a menagerie of birds. They converted part of their garage into a huge bird cage. She had finches mostly. And she was always nursing sick or hurt birds others would find around the neighborhood.
And then my grandma, my dad's mom, used to breed cockatiels. She gave me one when I was little. I named him Feathers of course.
I've had a lot of birds growing up. Feathers, a bright yellow canary named Peep (oh he had the most beautiful songs!!), a few parakeets, and another cockatiel named Kramer.
Hmmm maybe birding really is in my blood...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

aida's first test

Actually it wasn't really a test because I just made simple cinnamon oatmeal cranberry cookies. A breeze for her. I swear I could hear her yawn.

Here's the final product:
They were yummy! I say "were" not because we devoured them all (my james does not like oatmeal cookies), but because I already gave most of them away due to our weight loss goal. I think with Aida around I'll be on the treadmill a lot more than I planned. Sigh...such is life right?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

marshmallow dreams do come true

Aaahh I'm ecstatic! I feel so favored and delighted and sheepish all at the same time! Two posts back in my "hopes for 2009" I briefly mentioned my lofty desire to master the art of marshmallow making but that I don't have the right equipment to even attempt it. I have had my eyes on a Kitchenaid mixer for years, since the days of my cake decorating classes. I hoped that someday one would appear on my front porch. Stranger things have happened to me. Well a dear friend and fellow blogger, Rebecca, sent me a little email last week saying she was SENDING ME ONE, just to bless me! I actually stood up in my office at work and said out loud, "Nooo waaaayy..." Then read the email a second time and had to sit down. Then did a little dance in my chair. Then was so excited I had a hard time focusing for the rest of the day. Seriously! How awesome is that?? I mean really??

Well the gift arrived yesterday. On my front porch none the less.

I'm pleased to introduce to you the new addition to our humble abode. Meet Aida. (Yes, it's a girl.)

A beauty isn't she?? I'm thinking I shall do a once a week post about my adventures with Aida.

I really still can't believe it. Rebecca you are truly generous. And I'm overwhelmingly thankful.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

a good song i don't mind being stuck in my head

This song has been residing in my being since we sang it at church on Sunday...

"Give me your hand and we'll walk, walk down together.

Lift up your hands and we'll sing, sing here together.

How good it is to know you God, how lovely is your Bride.

How blessed we are to have each other.

You hold us all close by your side.

Come with me now and we'll dance, dance here together.

Lift up your heart and we'll dream, dream here together.

There's none too poor, too dirty, too broken, too naked,

too stupid, too drunken, to be thrown outside His love."

I just can't get it out of my head and I love it! It's by Aaron Strumpel written from the Psalm 133 & 134. I love the last two lines when everyone is singin' it at the top of their lungs. Just beautiful. Thanks Halen for initiating it :)

Friday, January 9, 2009


I have been meaning to post something about this for days, but just have not done it. Thanks for the reminder Marnie. Some of you may know about this but for those who don't...

Congress has passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act which means that small businesses, Etsy sellers, crafters and artisans, even large retailers, anyone making and selling products for children (including clothing, toys, games, furniture...etc.) will be required to invest tens of thousands of dollars to have their products tested and labeled by a third-party for any dangerous chemicals. This will put crafters and sellers out of business. Example: If I wanted to sell some knitted baby items on Etsy, I would have to send samples to a lab and pay to have them test it for harmful chemical. (Even if I used all natural products--like 100% cotton!) Which would mean I would have to sell my items for $1000's of dollars just to break even!! This is ridiculous and government should not have that much control. I'm all for safe products for children, but seriously this is just too much.

We can make a difference and there is proof that some people already have! Cool Mom Picks has put together an excellent overview of the issue and has created a list of links directing you specific sites where your voice can be heard. Click on the Save Handmade button to the right or click here for more information. SAVE HANDMADE!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

a new hat for a new year II

Happy second week of the new year! We've been busy with planning out some financial and health goals around here so I've been trying to take a break from the computer to stay focus on that. But I'm back!

Last year I knit myself a new hat for the new year. I decided to continue the tradition and finished off this fashionable hat last week. I tried to give it away because I didn't like it on my noggin', but no takers. So I tried my head once more and I actually do like it now. (I apologize for such a crappy pict, but I wanted to get this posted. I'll try to get some better shots later.) The free pattern is here from knitandtonic.

I've also finished the hat to go with the mittens for Sophie. She pulled it right off her head when I originally gave it to her so I've added ear flaps and ties. This is actually my own pattern folks! Yep, I designed it myself--something quite rare around here. So here's what we've been busy with the last few weeks. Our hopes for the new year...
  1. To pound out debt! We've set out to really work on this this year and can do it if we stay focused. We don't have much debt compared to the national average, but enough to prevent us from getting ahead. And with James starting school this month it's a must. After a recent generous gift, we've already paid off one MAJOR one. We've also taken some small steps to continue to help us get ahead. Like... cancelled the cable (yes sadly this means no more Martha, Catherine Tate or dvr-ing the beloved Office--I'm sure we'll survive), drained and unplugged the electricity eating hot tub, put a smaller heater in the pond, completely stopped using credit cards (we rarely use them, but totally committed to stop using them after our Chicago trip), hand made most of our Christmas and birthday gifts for friends (jam, aprons, soap, knitted items, framed pictures for family Lisa took of us...etc.) , been very, very frugal on our grocery, clothing, and entertainment without feeding into a spirit of poverty (hard to do!) and if I can find a second job worth the gas and time, I'll be doing that too. So hopefully by O-10 (I've decided to dub 2010 that), I'll be reporting some fantastic news.

  2. James and I are also committing to really work on our health this year. We're both pretty healthy, but miserably overweight. We have a trip with L & L planned to Lake Powell in May and want to be able to keep up with them and of course for all the pictures that come along with vacationing, since you live in your swimming suit on the lake! (I'm so, so excited! Seriously Powell is my favorite vacation spot--ever! But more on that later...) The whole health thing came about after a year of just feeling, well... fat and outta shape and recent pictures have horribly proven the point. We've both struggled with weight all our lives and tried several times to get in shape, but never at the same time and with so much determination, so I'm hoping we'll be successful this time round. I'll keep you posted...hopefully this blog will also keep me accountable so be warned, I'll probably talking about it a lot.

  3. As I said my James will be going back to school beginning this month studying Business Administration. Yea! I'm so proud of him. He loves to learn and I believe this will really be good for him. He's excited too.

  4. I also hope to start a good garden in the spring. I'd like to do a ton of canning this Summer, but would like to can some of my own produce. Pickling cucks, tomatoes, and beans are at the top of the list. The jam was a hit this year for Christmas gifts and I'd like to be able to get a good storage of canned goods going.

  5. I'd like to master the art of marshmallow making. Yes, marshmallows people. I set out to try around Christmas but didn't have a whisk attachment to my second-hand mixer. I'll have to either borrow one or maybe the coveted Kitchenaid will mysteriously arrive on my doorstep. Hey, it's possible. Stranger things have happened around here.

  6. I'd like to do more charity knitting this year starting with HELPSudan. They are looking for knitted pencil cases. You can read more here on Wendyknits (a great blog if you are a knitter and a cat fan).

  7. I hope to blog more and take better pictures. My little camera is limited so it's a good challenge. A used Nikon D70, 80 or 90 is on my wish list...right under the Kitchenaid of course. Oh and lessons on how to use wanted camera.

  8. More creativity is on the list too. I'd like to make some pieces (embroidered, painted, collage, paper cuttings, etc.) for some of our bare walls. I'm really desiring art pieces that say "us". Which I think I can start on because we've been "us" for a few years now and I'm hoping to capture it.

That's it! Be prepared to hear more about my adventures. Oh and here's a fat little blackbird I saw at Costco yesterday. He begged for me to take his picture.

To all of you, may 2009 be your best year thus far and may God be big in all your lives!