Monthly Archives: March 2012

A cupcake birthday

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My first baby turned six today! We’ve been celebrating for a week. We’d never before hosted a “friend” birthday party but we did this year. Such fun! I cut a cupcake shape from a cardboard box and Dorothy painted it. We staged this photo, then I used Photoshop to add words to the cupcake for her invitation. They looked sweet printed on metallic paper from Mpix and I made postcards from the same print with only the words “thank you” on the cupcake.

Dorothy chose a Michael Miller print with cupcakes for her birthday dress fabric and insisted that I use the same pattern (Simplicity 5704) I’d used for cousin Lila’s pony dress. I really was into the idea of making her birthday dress but I had computer problems two  weeks ago that prevented me from doing anything crafty since I basically spent all my free time for a week trying to buy a new hard drive, back up files, and act like I knew what I was doing. When the week of her birthday party arrived I hadn’t yet made her dress or the cupcake pajamas she also insisted she needed, given that the friend celebration was to occur in pajamas. I stayed up very late one night sewing the dress, was pleased with the result, then stayed up the next night making her pajamas based on a pair of pajama pants I took out of her drawer as I was tucking her in. The next morning she woke up and said, “oh mom, I forgot to tell you last night, but those pajama pants you took downstairs last night are way too big.” Oy. And the homemade pants were too, but I altered them a bit and they were still cute, if a bit bunchy.

The dress was darling on her but Dorothy may have been the most pleased with the new shoes her grandparents bought her. She fell in love with them on their birthday shopping trip and insisted that six was old enough to wear “high heels.” I’ll never tell her that I don’t really consider these girly little sandals to be high heels. She’s been clomping around the house in them like six-year-old royalty.

I purchased cupcake-themed goodies from Oriental Trading Company and the kids had a great time dividing the little rubber stamps, temporary tattoos and other cupcake ephemera into pink cellophane bags for the party. We invited nineteen children and all of them showed up. Dorothy declared herself a “party animal.” Indeed.

After surviving the adorable mob of small cupcake-eating girls in pastel pajamas on Friday night we hosted a more staid fete for our close family the next afternoon. Nana, at Dorothy’s request, made a sheet cake with a cupcake on it.

Many of our small party guests brought handmade cards. I hung some string on our mantel so we could display all her special birthday cards for a few days to fully appreciate them.

With all the parties over we’re getting back to our routine. Soon it will be time to make decisions about schooling for next year. Our homeschool routine is so cozy and laid back I think it might be hard to make a choice for “away” school (Dorothy’s term), no matter how fond we are of the options we’ve applied to. She’s begging to stay home, probably because she hates setting the alarm. (She gets that from me.) We’ll see. In the meantime my kindergartener is getting in plenty of relaxed time with our little cast of characters at home in the mornings and many great experiences in our afternoon activities out and about. She does Girl Scouts, soccer, gymnastics, Sunday School, ballet, and church choir. I always giggle a little inside when people express concern about homeschoolers getting enough socialization.

On a different subject, I made more new accent pillows for the sofa. I just can’t stop. I’m keeping all the old ones, of course, but changing them seasonally really seems to give great impact for little effort. This green and white Ikat print makes the whole room feel springy. Like cupcakes, you know, but without all that sugar.

Some knooking and crochet projects

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I knitted (knooked) a coffee cozy to keep in my purse so I don’t have to feel guilty when the baristas at my frequent coffee spot act like they aren’t really supposed to be giving out paper sleeves anymore. What’s up with that anyway? But now that I’ve got my sweet woolen one I’d never go back. The coffee heats up the wool and it feels so cozy and nice in my hands; it definitely enhances an afternoon coffee-on-the-run experience. I used this pattern and wool left over from my Bonita hat. I followed the pattern and had the correct gauge but I think I could have gotten away with skipping the last set of rows. I usually order smalls and this fits mediums or larges a bit better. This is one of those frivolous projects that you don’t really need but can really make you feel pampered when you use it. It would make a great gift for someone, especially paired with a special bag of coffee beans or a reusable mug. Every time I’ve pulled it out and slipped it over my coffee someone has smiled at it or told me how pretty it is. Why not have nice little things that elevate small moments in a typical day?

I don’t even know how many times I’ve made this pattern but I continue to love it. These booties are my go-to baby gift. I don’t usually photograph them but I felt like it had been a while since I’ve blogged about them. (They’ve probably appeared here a few times since Worth wore a pair home from the hospital–I’ve even made them bigger and felted them.) Sometimes I change the look of the booties a bit by crocheting in the backs of rows the pattern says to crochet into the front of, and sometimes I do the ankle bands differently. I think doing a nice high ankle with some ribbing helps them stay on. I usually embellish them with buttons or bows or something to make them unique. They really help little baby socks stay on. This pair is for a friend whose baby is due any day now. Homemade baby gifts are so nice for being able to take a little time to think about the new little person who will wear them. I hope the wee girl getting these little booties feels snug in her community of family and friends as well as her warm feet.

I can’t seem to get one great photo of this wolf hat so I’m trying to make up for it in quantity. Worth is so fond of the hat that for a couple days he even wore it at breakfast. (Aside: Every time I see Worth in this hat inside the house I have to think: “The night that Worth wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another…”) I got inspired by this hat in Crochet Today but decided I liked the shape of this knitted one a bit better. For some reason I was never able to just sit and work on this project for a long stretch so it seemed to take forever in starts and stops for me to actually finish it (and I knitted one row that should have been purled–don’t look too close). I went back to the original crocheted pattern to make the ears but then the hat looked so cute and Worth was already so fond of it that I just stopped. I can’t remember exactly which yarn I used but I think it was a bulky washable merino from Knitpicks. It’s very soft and warm and should fit him next year too–good, since winter seems to have exited early and I finished the hat rather late.

St. Patrick’s Day and some organization

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The first year that Rob and I were married I collected holiday decorations a little obsessively. It was some combination of nesting in our first home, having two incomes and no kids, and a love affair with eBay that made me do it. Now some years I have not had the time or energy to put out useless tchotchkes for minor holidays. This year, with two kids big enough to avoid catastrophe while I bring a box up from downstairs and a house that is no longer such a project on its own, I have really enjoyed putting out all manner of holiday decorations. The kids take total delight in “decorating” and making a celebration out of days big and small.  These green and gold fishing floats were my newlywed eBay purchases–a pot of gold for St. Patrick’s Day. My mother bought the Leprechaun when Dorothy was a baby and this year the girl loved seeing him keep watch over his treasure on our entryway table.

Green candles in my candelabra, more fishing floats, vintage glass goblets that belonged to Rob’s grandfather, and some felt clover from the dollar store made us feel lucky and maybe even a bit Irish in the dining room.

And my very favorite, a set of vintage-inspired plates from that newlywed eBay spree. I didn’t know then how much our children would enjoy them in 2012! We ate off of them for a couple weeks prior to March 17. We rounded out our celebration of the Irish within us (Dad assures me it’s there, and my current red hair situation would lead you to believe it if you weren’t aware that all hints of the hue came from a bottle) by eating this delicious apple and cabbage soup and fried patties of mashed potato, garlic and cheese–probably not authentic, but reminiscent of a favorite Irish pub food in my college town.

On another topic, I’ve been prettying up the insides of closets and things that don’t always show. I spent the first year at this house taking care of big-impact things, but in this second year I get to move on to some crafty projects that might not be noticed when you walk in the front door but definitely improve my quality of life. I was so pleased with the new rag bag of a few weeks ago that I made a similar bag with an inserted hanger to hold plastic bags. While I do use cloth bags frequently at the grocery, I also like to hang on to those good, sturdy Target bags and the bags the newspaper comes in to reuse. I’ve seen patterns for small bag-holders, but we also save paper shopping bags so I felt like I needed something larger. This one is working out very nicely and looks pretty good too. The tote bag in the stairwell holds old batteries until I can drop them off at the recycling center.

This little bag turns an unused bar on the inside of my kitchen under-sink cabinet into a sweet little spot for reusable mop heads and dusters. I don’t think the buttons show very well in the picture but they are very pert make the bag look a little sassy–just what I need to make me feel better about some chores that are not my favorites.

A birthday boy

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I’m behind in blogging! Worth tuned two at the end of February. He celebrated in mama-made pants featuring rescue vehicles and a fire truck t-shirt (iron-on transfer paper on an undershirt). I didn’t use a pattern for the pants, just traced around a pair that already fit him well and sliced it in two to make the red contrasting panel on top.

I made a banner out of more fire truck fabric and ironed felt letters on the front to spell the birthday boy’s name. After the party I hung the banner in his bedroom window as a personalized year-round decoration. I used a bright outdoor stripe print on the back of the pennants, picked up as a big bargain at a thrift store. Unfortunately the fabric didn’t seem like so much of a bargain after I ironed it and the whole house started to smell like cigarette smoke. Gross! I’d washed it too, but that smell is so persistent. It doesn’t seem to be giving off smells just hanging there, though. Shew. Fabric thrifting gone wrong! Mildly funny that the firetruck banner smells like smoke though.

My mom made Worth’s birthday cake in the shape of a fire truck, which he identifies by the sound it makes, “awoooooooo!” I made little gift bags for the cousins out of things I thought firemen might need–lip balm, band-aids and kisses. They didn’t get the connection but I felt clever.  I think my little aspiring rescue worker had a good birthday.