Monday, August 26, 2013

Denim rug project

The entry to our townhouse has a slightly awkward shape to it. Because of this we have never found just the right rug for the hardwood floor. The current rug is a cheap one that has served us well beyond what we anticipated when we bought it five years ago.

I love all crafts using old denim. It seems like the perfect union of utility, thrift,  and beauty. So naturally I am always collecting old jeans. I dream of making quilts and sofa covers out of them. However, my dreams are a bit ahead of my sewing skills, so naturally I decided to cut up the jeans i have into denim yarn balls and crochet myself an entry rug.

It is an easy project with almost no sewing. Incidentally, I actually really want to sew but my projects are limited to things that can be easily started and stopped for the time being, like knitting or crochet or cross stitch.

First I cut the seams out of the jeans.

Second I pick off the pockets. The perfect job for my favorite 8 years old helper.

Third i cut the pant leg into one inch ish strips of yarn and roll that yarn into a ball.

Fourth I start single crocheting an oval shaped rug. I am not following a pattern and i am not super worried about added and missed stitches. If it starts to curl I add a stitch or two. If it starts to get wavy I combine a stitch or two. Afterall it is just going to be walked on. :)

When I get to the end of one denim yarn ball as I am crocheting I can sew a new yarn ball to the ends of the denim yarn together. Or I cut a narrow slit in both ends and run them through each other.  I like the look of many shades of blue so i am  alternating the colors.

That is it. Easy!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Spice mixes

I have been thinking about spice mixes the last few days. (Don't we all ;)).

The other day I made keish and pulled out my bottle of herbs de Provence with lavender. As I have mentioned previously, I like to use up a whole assortment of leftovers in my keish and herbs de Provence just pulls the flavors together beautifully every time.

While making the keish, I also made apple pockets using the other half of the pie crust that the recipe makes.

I mixed a couple apples with cinnamon but that seemed a bit dull so I added some nutmeg, cardamom, and clove.  It was great. We had about 3/4 cup of the apple mixture left after the apple pockets so I added it to our Scottish oats the next morning. Audrey loved it and commented on them several times.  She said the spices were better (I usually "just" do apples and cinnamon).  So I decided to make my own little Cinnamon spice mixture in one of my beautiful little portmerion spice containers.  It has already come in super handy for banana bread and of course - oatmeal.

Sweet Spice Mixture:
4 Tablespoons Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Nutmeg
1 Tablespoon Cardamom
1/2 Tablespoon Cloves

Monday, August 12, 2013


We have been a library going family this summer and it is a good thing with the way Audrey is plowing through books.  She finished the last of the Roald Dahl books - he is her favorite author.  She also read all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and is now on the Thea Stilton series.  She has read 14 chapter books so far and counting!!

Meredith *loves* books.  It is like she has just discovered them.  I swear I read Spooky Old Tree, Knuffle Bunny, and Goodnight Moon at least 4 times a day - each.  Plus she will throw in a random assortment of other books as she finds them - though she doesn't seem to appreciate the library books that I manage to grab for her very often.  We read the same books so often, that she has them memorized and often reads the books with me, which is super cute.

I was happy to find that the knitting mystery series that I like by Maggie Sefton had another volume out.  So I borrowed and finished Close Knit Killer pretty quick.  I *love* the library's ordering system, by the way.  It is awesome, especially since Meredith thinks that the library is meant for laps.  She literally runs, or walks at a very fast toddler pace, through the stacks of books in search of fish tanks.  Every time she finds the only fish tank in the library, in the kids sections, she yells, MAMA! LOOK! FISHIEES! Awesome enthusiasm. :)  Back to the point, it is difficult to actually search for a book while trying to keep an eye on her, so I love the ordering system and always hope that the books I want are already checked out so that I can just order them.

I am slowly making my way through Down to Earth.  After wanting to read Rhonda's book for over a year, I devoured it in parts when I first got it about a month ago.  It followed me throughout the house for weeks, just in case I had a few minutes to peruse or read.  Then I settled into it and decided to just read it slowly and deliberately from the beginning and savor it.  It is truly a beautiful and delightful book - a breath of fresh air that is worth savoring.  It is only published in Australia, and I ordered it through FishPond for the free international shipping.  Even so, the book was about $40, which is much more than I normally spend on a book.  But I *love* it.

I also have been thinking about getting back to some of my old favorites.  This winter, I want to watch my Jane Austen movies again.  I find it is always better to watch them after reading the books afresh.  This time I am going to read the Jane Austen books in the order she wrote them.  I think it will be interesting to see if I notice a change in her style over the years.  So I am starting with Lady Susan - anyone else want to join me...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Party time - under the sea style

The view as you enter the front door - where's Nina?
Top Picture is Audrey (and Nina) in front of the water wall.
Huge Ariel plastic panel in the living room.
An under the sea plastic wall film - these things are great.

Pool noodle Seahorse - one of the party favors

Audrey's favorite blanket - hung over some sports stuff

Stairway Art Gallery - each child colored an Ariel picture for the gallery

Top of the stairs, transition to up on the shore

A couple of pink plastic grass skirts dress up the dining room light.

Ocean View plastic panel in the living room
For Audrey's birthday party this year, I wanted to do something that was not strictly princesses, but that still let her go a bit princessy.  Audrey was so excited with the "under the sea" birthday party theme because she could incorporate elements of her favorite princess - Ariel. I thought that doing a party at our house would be much cheaper than some of her other ideas.  I came up with a few decorating ideas but then somehow things got crazy...

Under the sea became a first floor theme. Up on the shore became the upstairs theme.

My original idea was based on some pinterest boards.  The twisted crepe paper in varying shades of blue were perfect for creating a cheap and easy water wall.  We added some fish in the background - to add to the under water feel.  Audrey wanted to hang her Ariel blanket on one wall.  Then I wanted to do an art gallery up the stairway - where each of the kids brought a picture that they had colored that Audrey had given to them with the invitation.  That was the extent of the original decorating.  Plus we picked up the big pool noodle animals at Walmart - at a super discount - as favors for the kids, so we hung those from the ceiling.

I invited my MIL over to help us decorate (and/or hang out with Meredith so that Audrey and I could decorate) and she brought over some decorations she had - all of the up on the shore stuff and a couple cool plastic panels.  Then Audrey bent her ear about how she really wanted more Ariel stuff - so Grandma found a great big plastic Ariel wall panel for the living room and some more little fish to hang up.  Seriously, the house looked as awesome as it ever has for a party.

The party started with water games for the kids in the backyard.  After the kids changed, we had dinner for everyone, fish and veggie sticks with marshmallow fruit salad for the kids, kalua pork and pineapple fried rice (served in a pineapple ) for the adults.  The adult food turned out awesome.  I was worried because both of the recipes were new to me, but they turned out great - especially the pork!

After dinner it was cake and present time.  Audrey wanted a pink sparkley ice cream cake. Plain ice cream cakes were expensive and I didn't even want to imagine how much the extra food coloring and sparkle would cost us, so I decided to make Audrey's cake myself.  It turned out very pink, very sparkley, and very delicious.  The other kids at the party said it was the best  icecream cake they ever had - high praise indeed.  After presents and play time, the kids watched a movie (Hook, Audrey's choice) and had mermaid's munch (snacks).

The party was great.  Audrey loved it, but I tell you, I was one tired mama by the end of it. :)

Friday, August 09, 2013

Technical difficulties

Summer 2013 - Meredith and Audrey playing with water in the backyard.
I have been having technical difficulties, between the new operating system (Windows 8 - which I really do *NOT* like), a new computer, and a new phone, and no real time to sit down to figure them all out, I find myself cussing at my technology fairly regularly (which leads to less blog posts...). I am slowly figuring everything out, so I should be back to more regular posting soon.  It is definitely a PEBKAC (problem exists between keyboard and chair) error, which just makes it all the more frustrating.