Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Day at the Arburrito

"Let's go to the Arboretum today, Liz," I said to my lovely daughter, who is 11 going on 25.

"The Arburrito?" she asked.  "What's that?"

We had a good laugh over that quip and it got me thinking: Wouldn't it be cool if a tree could produce burritos with the push of a button (or a knot, as the case may be)?  I think we would have a very successful ├írbol for sure!


But we did make it to our local Arboretum, where we I think I got some really good photos.

The Overland Park Arboretum has an exquisite garden modeled after Claude Monet's jardin de Giverny.

Je te tiens, tu me tiens par la barbichette, le premier qui rira aura une tapette...

Did you know that Claude Monet developed cataracts and had poor vision toward the end of his life?  He kept on painting, however.  Here, he is helped along by a good Samaritan who had just moments before attempted to slap him after pulling on his beard!  Liz is not amused!  ;)

Lily pads:

 Father and daughter having a quick rest and a scintillating conversation, probably about Arburritos.  ;)

 Mon nouvel ami:

Maman et sa fillette:

 We saw a mama deer eating leaves and enjoying herself in a quiet corner of the woods.

Papa et sa fillette.  I think it's adorable how they are holding hands:

A hummingbird moth:

One last glance at the lake and some gorgeous zinnias:

And some more favorite photos of the day:

These make me happy.  

I hope you're having a bright, sunshiny day!  

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately..."--Thoreau

Monday, July 28, 2014

New crocheted item--soap savers! Plus, a few project updates.

Yes, I am still working on my green and white king sized afghan:
and my red, white, and blue afghan:
but those are long-term projects that I work on little by little.  However, when I want to work on something and finish it rather quickly, I choose a smaller project.  Having finished my amigurumi cat Limey:
and begun working on a polar bear for Lizzie:

I decided to try to make a project I've been wanting to make for quite some time:  a soap saver.  What exactly is a soap saver?  Well, do you ever have tiny pieces of soap that are just too small to use effectively but too big to throw away?  I know I do!  And making my own handmade soaps makes me want to conserve my handiwork as much I can.

We hved several small pieces of soap in that category:

I made this fun soap saver using a pattern by Lion Brand. It is a simple design using mostly single crochet.  I used Sugar'nCream yarn by Lily in Moondance.  It is really pretty .  I love how the colors changed as I crocheted.  Of course, I was watching McLeod's Daughters as I worked.  Yes, I am still watching it.  I just watched the pivotal episode 26 in season 4.  Those of you who are fans know which one I am talking about, but I won't spoil anything for those of you who haven't seen it.  :)

After I was finished, I posted a picture on Instagram, which then went to my Facebook page.
My cousin Janet rightly asked me what a soap saver is.  I explained exactly what I said above and then I told her I would use it and let her know how it works. So this morning, I put the leftover soap in the soap saver,
 I tied it tightly with the drawstring,
 and then I took my shower.  I realized you need to get it thoroughly soaked before it will be effective.  After that, I used it like I would a washcloth, but this time with soap built into it.  It lathered up nicely and smelled great.  Plus, I loved using up soaps that I wasn't quite ready to say good-bye to.
I hung the soap saver by the drawstring to my shower caddy to dry out.  I love my new soap saver!

After finishing the Moondance soap saver, I realized I had already started on one many months ago, but I had never finished it.  {The story of many of my projects.}  So I found the one I had been working on and finished it off.  This one was made with Fiesta by Peaches & Creme.  I can't seem to find this particular color of yarn for sale anywhere, so my guess is this color has been discontinued.  I just listed this item for sale on Etsy. Here are some pics:

This is my last full week of summer break.  I hope to make the most of it.  Have a bright, sunshiny day!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Where has all the time gone?

Today was enrollment day in my kids' school district.  I am bewildered to think of where all the time has gone with these two.  My oldest will be a sophomore in high school and my youngest will be in middle school for the first time!

I took a goofy selfie at Panda Express, our usual rendez-vous spot after various enrollments and parent-teacher conferences.  I gaze at this photo and simply cannot fathom how these two children could have grown up so quickly while I wasn't paying attention.

{By the way, my son's miffed demeanor is totally put-on; I noticed he broke into a huge grin AFTER I snapped the photo!  Cheeky boy!}

The whole family in 2014:

And here are my precious kiddos a mere 3 years ago in 2011:

Je vous adore, ma petite famille!  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My little amigurumi kitten named Limey

More crochet fun today!

I have completed my first amigurumi animal in quite some time.  If you are unfamiliar with amigurumi, it is a Japanese word loosely translated as crocheted or knitted stuffed toy.  In years past, I have made three octopuses (or octopi, if you prefer) for my husband, a little lion cub for my son, and a colorful unicorn for my daughter.

I have several amigurumi books by Ana Paula Rimoli, such as Amigurumi Toy Box and Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet.   I have downloaded several patterns from different Etsy shops such as Lilleliis and Luvly Gurumi.  I have also enrolled in a Craftsy class where I can learn to design my own amigurmi monster by Stacey Trock

But just because I have these books and patterns and classes doesn't mean I actually accomplish the making of these adorable stuffed toys.  There is a lot of concentration and counting involved, something that is somewhat hard to do while watching McLeod's Daughters!  [I just finished season 3 and I am so sad because a couple of characters have left the show!]

Yet, here is my latest amigurumi project, a little kitten whom I like to call Limey.  I call her that not because she is lacking Vitamin C, but because I happened to be taking pictures of my Lime Handmade Soap when I had her outside taking photos of her too.  This is from a pattern by Lilleliis.  Here is a link to her shop where you could buy it.

I used Vanna's Choice yarn from Lion Brand.  The colors are eggplant, white, and fern.

Let me know what you think of her.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Crocheted kitchen rug is done, thanks to McLeod's Daughters

Yes, it's true.  I actually finished a crochet project!  My kitchen rug has been placed in front of the kitchen sink and now I can finally do the dishes and cook!  Just kidding.  Now I will have an absorbent cotton handmade rug to soak up all the stray drops of water that may find their way to the floor.

I used Sugar'n Cream cotton yarn made by Lily.  I originally used the stash I had but I did have to go pick up a couple more balls at Michael's.  I love bright colors and I am happy with the way the rug turned out.  I will need some non-slip backing for the rug before I will feel confident that it won't move around on us, but I have worked long and hard on this rug and I wanted to get it down as quickly as I could.  The colors are hot blue, hot green, yellow, hot purple, hot orange, and hot pink.

I started out by crocheting five rows of each of the colors but decided I wanted it just a little wonkier and not so rigid.  I just decided to crochet one color until I felt like adding another one.   I think the rug looks pretty nice and the colors make me smile.

So what enabled me to crochet so quickly when I normally take many weeks to do a project of similar scope?  Well, McLeod's Daughters of course.  "What is that?" you ask.  It is an Australian television show that aired from 2001-2009.  I was looking for a show to watch while I crocheted and this one fit the bill.  It is the story of Claire and Tess McLeod who are reunited after their father dies and run the family ranch, Drovers Run, in South Australia.  Being a prospective farm owner myself (some day I would like to be a lavender farmer), I was interested in the premise of this story.  You get to see sheep being sheared, bulls courting cows, a foal being born, and much more!

The cast is rounded out by characters who help keep up the place,  mostly female.  It is pretty cool to see a farm run by women.  Of course, there are the gorgeous hunky neighbors, Nick and Alex Ryan.  They make the show much nicer to watch as well.  I am currently in season 3.  If you're interested in watching it, check it out on Netflix.

One word of warning, if you watch multiple episodes of this show, you may start singing the theme song out of the blue.  You may need to watch McLeod's Daughters with closed captioning on and with an Australian slang dictionary at the ready.  And lastly, you may also randomly start speaking with an Aussie accent.

Well, I reckon I'd better go fix the fence on the chook paddock, mate.  G'day!

Friday, July 11, 2014

I foresee scrapbooking and stamping in my near future...

I am a polycrafter.  That is the term I am using what can be described as my love of pretty much anything crafty.  Yes, I am still working on my crochet projects but look what arrived via Fed Ex today:

Yes, I have ordered once again from Close To My Heart and I am once again excited to work on my papercrafting skills this weekend.  CTMH will release its new catalog to customers on August 1, but as a consultant I get to see it and order from it early.  Here is a sneak peek of some of the new products:

Too cool!    Here is the cover of the huge Annual Inspirations book: 

Hopefully I'll get a few things made to show you this weekend.  Happy crafting!  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Yarn crafting projects in the works

I am lucky enough to be off most of the summer because of my chosen profession.  This down time is indeed soothing for my poor, tired soul.  However, I try not to idle too much because now I have much time to enjoy my hobbies, mostly undisturbed.

One of my most colorful hobbies is yarn crafting, especially crochet. I currently have three crochet projects on which I am working.  You may find it strange that I don't finish one project before beginning another.  But if you could see inside my brain at how my mind works, you would understand.  :)  

I love to crochet because I can turn a plain ball of yarn into a different creature entirely, but I get bored doing the same stitches over and over and over.  So I put one project down and start another, just to keep things interesting.  

My first project is a long-term one, a large afghan.  I have already made two of these types of afghans before, but this time I am making it big enough to fit on our king size bed.  I am using kelly green and white in Vanna's Choice yarn.  Two strands are held together and crocheted with a size N hook.  Using such a large hook enables the project to stitch up quickly.  Unfortunately, since I am making such a large afghan, it will also use many skeins of yarn.  I have already used 14 skeins and I have run out for the time being.  I usually get my yarn at Michael's or Jo-Ann but Vanna's Choice hasn't been on sale for a while so I am waiting until I can buy more.  It retails for $3.99 but many times it is on sale for $2.79 or even $2.50, and they give a 15% teacher discount, which leaves me paying around $2.37 or $2.12, respectively.  If I needed just a few skeins, that wouldn't be such a big deal, but I estimate I have at least three to five times more yarn that I've already used.  This is going to be one expensive and labor intensive blanket!  Here's a sneak peek of what it looks like so far:

My second project is called Americana Afghan.  I downloaded the pattern off the Lion Brand website.  It is absolutely gorgeous and made with a gorgeous yarn called Heartland.  Here is what the project looks like on their site:
This yarn in made in the U.S.A. and the different colors are named for various national parks in the United States.  The ivory shade is called Acadia, the blue is Olympic, and the red is Redwood.  It is super soft, 100% acrylic, and machine washable.  I currently have three out of the 20 panels done.  I had never made stars before and I am enamored by them.

For some bizarre reason, I thought I would have this done by this Fourth of July (I started it around June 29).  Yes, I realize I was off my rocker.  (Remember my brain is   But my friend Amy suggested I give myself another end date of Labor Day.  I think I can make that deadline, as long as I don't start too many other projects in the meantime.  

Speaking of which, the last project I have started was begun today out of necessity.  I was on kitchen duty this morning and I got lots of water on my wood floor. We haven't replaced the kitchen rug we got rid of a while back and so I mentally made a note of doing that.  But then my crochet-obsessed brain started thinking  "maybe I could crochet one".  I looked up a few online and decided that instead of buying more yarn (which I most definitely do not need), I should use what I have.  I went down in the basement and raided my yarn stash.  Here are the cotton yarns I have in my possession:  
I am going to just use a simple half double crochet stitch and make rows of colors  to form a 2' x 3' rug for my kitchen.  I think I will use the solids for sure but I'm not sure I'll used the variegated colors at this time. 

 Luckily, Michael's has these Lily's Sugar'n Cream yarns on sale this week.  Yes, I know I said I don't need more yarn, but I do need more yarn.  There is no blue and I can't make a rug without blue!  ;)  Here is my progress so far: 

So now that I have posted that I have started all these projects, I hope I will feel obligated to finish these projects in a timely manner so my readers can see them.  If you do see me in the coming weeks, please ask me about my progress on these projects, OK?  I am trying to motivate myself to finish them and that just might do the trick!  Thanks!  

(and get your projects done too!)