Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Hello...just like Spring, I thought it was time for a new beginning.  Do you like the new orange colors?  It is my most favorite color and the sunflower, which is my most favorite flower, is actually a pen that my boy BFF found for me!! ( I'd like to be more computer savvy and resize photos and customize make this space my very own but I don't quite know how . . . yet.)
Right now, I am staring at this:

But my daffodils persevere.

I am very done with winter and snow and icy roads and hats and gloves and mittens and heavy coats and wooly socks and yes! Even hot chocolate.
I am ready for Spring. Summer. Swimming pools. Flip flops. Swishy Skirts.
In hopes of warmth, I sewed my favorite skirt from Anna Marie Horner. I have sewn 7 or 8 of these skirts, both for me and for the lovely young ladies in my home.  Even my Diva has sewn one for herself.  The skirts are swishy, flowy and best of all twirly!  The elastic is a bit tedious but I think it has a wonderfully slimming effect (and I need all the help I can get)! I have stayed with the voile for myself but for the little ones, I have used cotton.  Both fabrics are easy to work with and still look great after a day of playing outside (the little lovelies and me!!).

I have also sewn a table runner and napkins from fabric I found here.  I went on an enormously fun outing with my girl BFF and I found this fabric.  I opened up the fabric on the bolt and half of it was decorated and the other half was polka dot!  Wheeeeee!!  I bought 2 yards, cut it in half lengthwise, used the decorated half for the table runner and made 6 napkins with the polka dots!  Loverly.
(sidenote:  I'm not so great at paying attention to who manufactured fabric, what this line is called, etc. . . the fabric picked me and I took it home!)

(I love my butter lady!)

I am currently knitting these.  They are the flame thrower socks from Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn.  I have to have them done by Friday night.  A birthday gift.  Yeah . . . . not gonna happen.  But I will have one sock finished!  And the birthday boy is my neighbor.  A 17 year old that I consider to be my own.  He understands the second sock will come . . . . . later ;-)
(sidenote:  see above sidenote.  Again with the yarn.  Not so good at providing information about what type of yarn I am using . . . . this particular sock was given to me for finishing (as in:  "I hate this.  Take them.  Finish them!") a few years ago with yarn already picked and wound and labels off! So sorry!)

. . . . . and that is my little life in a small nutshell.  What have you been up to?  How have you been surviving the cold and snow?
Right now, I have a male and a female cardinal resting on the widow ledge 3 feet from me.  They are eating out of the front window feeder.  It makes me happy to see them taking turns.  Eating.  Keeping each other warm.  Chatting with each other. Like the cardinals, we need to keep each other warm. We need to surround ourselves with loved ones.  And we must show care. Like the daffodils, we persevere through our winter storms, even when cold storms may seem endlesssssssss.
Happy-ness is one day closer to warmth and sunshine while we are doing things we love:  sewing, knitting, baking, snuggling, kissing our babies.
Enjoy your day!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Oh! Hello!

Since my last post . . . .

(crummy iPhone photosssss!)

It was the first time in my entire little life that I wasn't able to go "home" for Thanksgiving.  I worked at the Bux serving coffee and making the best of the day with my co-workers.  The weather was warm and sunshiney and most of the customers seemed truly thankful.  Later in the evening, we went to my most favorite friend (EVER.) and neighbor and enjoyed a farm fresh turkey, all the fixings and enough dessert to feed a King and all of the people in his castle!!  We played Monopoly (did you know the new-fangled Monopoly uses credit cards?!) and we played Apples to Apples and we watched movies until the wee hours of the morning, when we roused ourselves out of our tryptophan slumber and walked back home under a starry sky.

Four pairs of knitted socks.

They were knitted Christmas gifts and I am quite certain I did not take photos of all of them.  After 8 socks, I was dreaming of running barefoot on a beach in very hot weather.

The Christmas Season.


My BFF and I stomped around Indianapolis on a cold day in early January.  We started very early at Waffle House, stopped at a heavenly store called Handspun and arrived at a fabulous new little quilting and fabric store called Crimson Tate where we bought some loverly fabric and met David, the best door holder in the world!!!  (I maybe . . . . maybe . . . .  went a bit goofy on the sidewalk at just the mere sight of Crimson Tate so he came out to greet us and to tell us to hurry up already! and come inside!) We also ate cupcakes at The Flying Cupcake, pizza at Bazbeaux and finished our happy-ness at a very playful toy store.
And then:
Strep throat x 4.
7 boxes of tissues.
2 bottles of Nyquil.
Prescriptions for strep-blasting medicine.
9 swim meets, all attended in various stages of recovery.
851 spam e-mails.
127 friendly e-mails.
3 novels read ("Night Circus", "Gone Girl" and "The Paris Wife") while in various stages of fever or sleep.
I have also been knitting a scarf and I did sew a table runner and napkins, which I will share very soon. . . . .

How were YOUR holidays and your New Year?  I do so hope you are staying healthy.
I write this in the midst of another snow storm and I am happy.  I am finally healthy; my home is finally healthy.  My sweet loverly dog, Keeper, has never left my side.  In one lucid moment, I woke up to find her watching me.  With clear, sweet, loving concerned eyes she was checking on her mama.  I so wish our world and the people living in our world could have the same love for others that one small dog has for me.  Life and the things that compose life would be so much simpler.  Easier.  Nicer.  More kind.  More caring.
. . . I shall share more of my knitting and my sewing and my silly thoughts with you sooner. Happy snowy winter day!!!
Happy-ness is health!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wow! Napkins and Placements!

I had a WOW! Happy! week last week.
My favorite sewing and fabric store, Sewn Studio, offered a class last week called, "Improv Sewing . . . 101 fast, fun and fearless projects" which included a book titled, surprisingly (!) Improv Sewing . . .  101 fast, fun and fearless projects!  The class also included all the materials and 3 hours of sewing time.  Sewn Studio taught the napkins/placemats pattern from the book and so that is what I made.

Darling linen napkins and placemats!!

The class wasn't difficult and it wasn't anything I couldn't have done at home by myself.  But I did learn something new, something I've never thought of doing before.  My top thread and my bobbin thread were different colors of thread so what is on top of the fabric is not the color on the bottom of the fabric.  Coooool!!!!!  ALSO, and this may be the best part for me, my sewing lines weren't straight.  Purposefully NOT straight!!!  WOW!!

It took me 3 hours to cut and sew four napkins and placemats.  The fabric and all the thread (I used 3 different colors) were less than $20.  I used a natural colored linen but wouldn't a black linen be fabulous too?!  I think that everyone on my Christmas list will be getting napkins and placemats this year . . . . if I can part with them!!!
Happy-ness is sewing . . . and then being able to gift my handmade-with-love (and excitement and Wow!) to friends and loved ones!!  A bonus Happy-ness!!
Give yourself the gift of Wow!  Treat yourself to an afternoon of picking fabric, threads and then sewing napkins and placemats (or even just the napkins!) and gift your home sewn happy-ness too!!  Don't forget to share your happy with me!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Peace

I have begun knitting again.
Without too much drama and detail, once upon a time ago, my need for knitting was voracious.  I went everywhere with my knitting.  I knit socks while waiting to check out at the grocery store.  I knit sweater sleeves while in carpool lines.  I knit while walking through my neighborhood.  I worked in a small yarn store and still shopped at many other yarn stores for yet more yarn and more projects.
And then one day, I stopped.
It was as if, upon waking up one morning, I decided I don't like knitting anymore.
My yarn store closed and with it, all other yarn stores.
But recently, the yarn spoke to me.  Gently poking me awake.  Nudging me. Reassuring me that I can be at peace with knitting.
No person is putting upon me deadlines.
No customer/yarn student/shop owner is picking out projects and yarn for me.
No one is competing with me; making me feel compelled to knit this sweater with this yarn for this person by this time.  No one is inferior or superior to my knitting.
I can knit for friends.  Or even friends of friends.  I can knit for me.  I can knit for you.
I can see a beautiful skein of sock yarn and knit . . . . well . . . . socks.  I don't have to go above and beyond and turn that beautiful skein of sock yarn into an impossible shawl.  My beautiful may be another person's NOT beautiful.
And I'm okay with that.
I am sooooooo okay with that.
I am so okay with yarn that is whispering softly to me.
I am so okay with spending a quiet afternoon knitting in the sun.  Just alone.  With my own dreams and thoughts and wants and wishes.
And so, a few weeks ago, I listened to the yarn and began knitting again. And while I am not a fast knitter and it takes me weeks and weeks to finish just one sock, I'm okay with that, too.  
But still, socks. For a friend of a friend. A mother of a toddler.  A woman, who, like me, can't quite give up her flip flops in the winter.

A perfect sock to wear all winter long with flip flops!!

 The beautiful wood double points and the messy ball of yarn simply add to the comfort.  I have found an old friend again!

Happy-ness is coming to peace with my knitting.  Yes.  A solace with yarn and double point needles and each stitch formed to make a sock.
Happy-ness in the hope that my peace will bring a frazzled mother of a toddler a few more weeks in her flip flops.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Apple Pies in Jars

Fall is my most favorite time of year!  Cold crisp nights; sunny warm days; the color of the changing leaves; Halloween; baking and looking forward to the upcoming holidays.
One of my favorite gifts to give to friends, neighbors, teachers and family is Apple Pie in a Jar.  A friend gave me this recipe when we lived in Indiana and I have used it every year for many, many years. It's another stupid simple recipe with major yums and a bit of impressed ooooohs and ahhhhhhhhs.
A day trip to the apple orchard (I always, always, always find myself in Indiana in the fall so I make a big to-do about going to Stuckey's Farm, where I have taken the kids since they were crawling in the pumpkin patch!), a few bushels of apples (I use Jonagold since they are great for baking AND eating!) and you have yourself several quarts of Apple Pie in a Jar.  Two bushels of apples gets me 14 pies.  Make sure to spend several hours finding the biggest best pumpkin while you are at Stuckey's or your orchard trip is definitely not complete.

Apple Pie in a Jar
7 qts. peeled, sliced apples
Syrup: 4 1/2 cups sugar
10 cups water
1 cup cornstarch
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
Combine above syrup ingredients and cook until thick.  Add 3 Tbsp. lemon juice.  Fill hot jars with peeled, sliced apples.  Leave 1" space.  Pour syrup over apples.  Leave 1/2" space.  Process for 20 minutes.  Yields 7 quarts.

You can decorate your pie jar with a label or a ribbon.  Attach a note or label that says: "To make pie, pour 1 jar into pie shell.  Top with crumb topping or crust.")

Enjoy the process, from picking apples out of the orchard or from your local grocery store to labeling your jars and giving a favorite friend your apple pie in a jar.  If you're extra lucky, your friend will bake the pie for YOU!!!
Spend today loving each other.  Smiling.  Laughing.
Happy-ness is warm apple pie.  Fall weather.  Handmade gifts to special friends.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Great Basement Clean-Up

Okay.  Wow.  In showing you these next few photos, I am making myself completely vulnerable to you.  I am allowing you into an area of my life in which I can't stand.  I am overwhelmed, feel helpless, hopeless and defeated by this area.  This is a huge area of the basement which I avoid.
When we moved into this house 10 years ago, we made a "kids' side" and an "our side".  "Kids' side" is fun and has a chalkboard wall, a comfy couch, bookshelf full of books to cozy up with, a puppet stage, paints and papers, paper dolls and scissors, a cubbyhole under the stairs with a beanbag chair and several journals, flashlights and other various but much-needed "things".  The "kids' side" does NOT have a t.v., a gaming system, a telephone or anything electronic.  It is a quiet area for reading, thinking, doing, being.  It's messy at times but never out of control.
. . . . . . . Out of control is the "our side".  Before I reveal these photos, please know that I'm showing you these photos because this is my huge, overwhelming fall project.  I'm going to address every box, every stack and pile.  I'm going to wheedle through papers, make new file folders.  I'm going to purge.  I'm going to clean.  I'm going to post photos when I'm finished.  And then . . . . . I'll take a nap.
Deep breath.  And . . . . . you may look.

Ahem.  I'm really not even going to speak anymore about this.
Happy-ness is a new adventure, if that's what you want to call an overwhelming, almost hopeless, great basement clean-up project!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Most Delicious Breakfast

Madeleines are a shell-shaped sponge cake originating in France and have a reputation for being a light dessert served with berries or as a treat with a cup of tea.
In my house, they are breakfast!  Warm madeleines before school?!  Who would want anything else?
I use the recipe straight from Martha Stewart's Cookies and it has never failed me.

Lemon Madeleines

1 1/2 cups sifted cake-flour (NOT self-rising)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. coarse salt
3 large eggs AND 2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup unsalted butter, plus more for pan
Confectioners' sugar for dusting (a MUST!)

1.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.  Set aside.
2.  Put eggs, egg yolks, granulated sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium-high until pale and thickened, about 5 minutes (the longer you mix and the lighter in color and thicker the batter, the lighter your madeleine will be---melt in your mouth!)  Using a spatula, fold flour mixture into egg mixture.  Let batter rest 30 minutes (but I never do!)
3.  Preheat oven to 350 and butter your madeleine pan (but I usually do this first as I never wait my 30 minutes.)
4.  Pour batter into prepared pan, filling the molds 3/4 full.  Bake cookies, rotating pan halfway through, until edges are crisp and golden, 7-8 minutes.  Let cookies cool slightly in pan on wire rack.  Invert and unmold.  Dust with confectioners' sugar.  Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 day.
. . . . but instead of storing them, they are BEST SHARED!  Warm with the children; warm with best friends over a cup of coffee and good conversation.
I was hesitant to buy the molded pan because I wasn't sure how often I would make the madeleines.  I am sooooooo glad I bought the pan---I make them all the time.
Happy-ness is warm madeleines!!  Come over and we shall bake some together!!!!  :-)