Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grateful

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Right now I'm parked on the couch and the smell of turkey is floating in the air. We got a late start today and probably still have a couple hours to go before it's turkey-time. I started my day with my buddy Allison and a trip to the local Value Village where they were having a 1/2 off sale. Wahoo! Normally, I'm anti-shopping on holidays, but they promised that the people working volunteered, so I made an exception. (We zipped past Starbucks on the way and I really, really, wanted a delicious latte, but I remembered my friend Cat telling me about when she worked there and cried all the way to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas because she was forced to work. That stinks.)

Value Village is always a good time and Allison and I have much fun doing nothing at all. We perused the aisles, inspecting all the knick-nacks and vintage dishes. She scored a sweet set of vintage dishes and I practiced trying not to buy kitchen stuff. My kitchen is approximately the size of a small closet and I have an, unfortunate, deep and abiding love for all gadgets and appliances. I need to find my inner minimalist -- so far no luck. After gadgets we visited all the sad and lonely abandoned afghans and quilts. Ever since I started crocheting and realized how much time something like that actually takes, I can't help but want to buy every orphaned blanket I see. I was sincerely tempted by several well-worn blankies, but my fear of bed bugs won out. Every time I touch the bed linens in the thrift store I get the heebie jeebies. I've watched too many damned 20/20 exposes. In addition to my fear of sports, there is the fear of creepy crawlies. Oddly, this phobia does not extend itself to clothing which is also fabric, but somehow different. What can I say, I'm an odd duck. Both Allison and I picked up a few new goodies for our closets. I got a scrumptious green cardigan and a couple long sleeve t-shirts for hiking. Nothing beats a soft t-shirt and a cozy sweater. I was briefly tempted by a velour sweater because it reminded me of the footie pajamas I used to have as a kid, but I figured that probably wasn't the best reason to make a purchase.  All in all, I spent a whole 6.50. I'm grateful for low prices that aren't the result of someone being exploited. Yay! I'm grateful for good friends, who make every day a little more delightful.

After shopping, I came home and hung out with my girl for a while. I am suddenly acutely aware that it won't be very long at all before she's off to college. Less than a year. The thought terrifies me and I hope she doesn't forget to call her mama every day. She might be getting grown up, but she's always going to be my baby! I'm so grateful to be her mama. She's a really awesome person and is so much fun to be with. I'm especially grateful for days like today when I get to soak up her laughter while she chats with her friends. She has always had the best laugh - hearty, full, and bubbly; it's completely contagious. I am so grateful that I have had the gift of being this awesome girl's mom.



The rest of the day has been business as usual, a little cleaning and a little reading. My trusty doggy bff has been by my side all day and my special-needs kitty, Mr. Wobbles, has been in my arms as much as possible. Right now, he's laying on the cushion behind me, with his paws on my shoulder. I swear he tries to spoon me like I'm his lady friend. Sometimes when I wake in the morning, he's next to me, with one arm stretched across my chest. Swear. I've got a few more fuzzballs in the house, but these two are my besties. Oh, and my chicken Rontaco, but she lives outside. She's a snuggler. I'm grateful for my pets today, who unceassingly give me love and affection and so much entertainment.

My mom has been working hard on the turkey, cornbread stuffing, and next on the hit list are the carbolicious mashed potatoes. I did a little chopping and dicing, but she did all the scary stuff (like take the neck and giblet pack out of the turkey) while I hid my eyes in the other room. Really, I'd rather not get too close to the bird either. Nice white slices on a plate, please so I can maintain my thinly-veiled delusion that all meat comes from a magical place having nothing to do with animals. I am grateful for my mother who has put up with my ridiculous ass for more than thirty eight years and is always such a sweet and thoughtful person.

Have a great holiday everybody, I hope that the turkey (or tofurkey) is perfect and you have a wonderful weekend where you don't have to get out of your pj's unless you want to.

XO,
Holly

P.S. I'm really grateful for Jeremy at the New Balance shoe store who helped me pick out new hiking boots and insoles so my feet won't hurt so dang bad when I hike. Apparently, I have been buying my shoes a whole size too small!








Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Clumsy, Happy Trails


You would think since I'm sort of a clumsy chic, that I would avoid activities where the likelihood of injury is high, but as soon as the weather got cooler, all I could think about was hiking. What's even more strange about that is, historically speaking, I'm hardly athletic. I was ALWAYS picked last in gym class and I'm not even an iota resentful about it; I wouldn't have picked me either. I'm terrified of the ball and I hate running so much I hold my breath. Plus, all my brain seems to do in situations where I'm supposed to perform athletically is freak out and panic. I have the coordination of a drunken monkey and no depth perception. Don't get me wrong, I love the outdoors and do enjoy a leisurely hike, but lately my desire has been for something on the physically challenging end of the spectrum. 

I considered just going solo and taking my trusty companion, Mackie the Wonder Dog, to keep me company. Then I wouldn't have to worry about people laughing and pointing, "look at chubby go!", and I could set the pace. However, since I am a klutz and the only thing he does on command is shake, I figured that plan would net me a night alone in the wilderness huddled with my dog, a broken ankle, and a lot of whimpering - me and him. Besides his lack of opposable thumbs and knowledge of first aid, he's a wuss. Frankly, so am I. Anyway, my fantasies of braving the wilderness with my favorite pooch were quickly dashed, so I did the slightly more sane thing and found a group of strangers on the internet to go with. 

The destination was Mina Sauk Falls at Taum Sauk mountain. I've been there a couple times before and hiked the trail once several years ago. I remembered it being pretty rocky and a somewhat challenging hike, but nothing super hard. The thing is, apparently, my memory isn't the greatest. I read the description of the hike and when I stumbled across the part that said it was strenuous and challenging I assumed they were being a little overly dramatic. You know, liability and such. 

I'm sure it's not a stretch to believe that I was wrong . Like, really wrong. Not only did I over-estimate my level of fitness, what I did not remember is that somehow the trail manages to be mostly uphill. I mean, at first, we went downhill. Kinda fast, really. I was trying to keep up with someone who was significantly taller (and longer legged) than me, which proved to be a mistake. I expended most of my energy early, so for the last 1/2 mile of the hike the only thing propelling me forward was pride. I briefly considered throwing myself on the path for a nice winded-hissy fit, but then I got scared that if I laid down, I might not be able to get back up. Cue the laughing and pointing. Then came the visions of being dragged out by my hair by tired and cranky hikers who hate me with the fire of a thousand suns. So, I hiked on. In fact, I not only kept going, I didn't die, and nobody had to carry me out!



Pardon the crappy cell phone pics, but this will give you an idea of the terrain. Note: It's uphill.















I'm not saying I emerged fresh-faced and glowing by any means. By the time I got off the trail, I had sweat through my t-shirt and my sweatshirt and my hair looked like rats had been galavanting around on top of my head all afternoon. Both my big toes are bruised from getting jammed inside my boots, I'm pretty sure one of my nails is going to fall off, and my right knee is pretty unhappy with me right now, but it's okay. I'll be right as rain in a day or two. This is going to sound kinda odd, but I actually had fun. There's something really satisfying about meeting a challenge, even if it's done without even an ounce of grace. Plus, the people were super nice and nobody laughed at me once. I liked it so much, I'm going again this Friday to a different trail.



In the summer, there's water in this part. Some of the hikers climbed down the rocks to explore. 
This is me taking a break. I made this my FB profile pic briefly, but everyone kept telling me I looked angry.  I wasn't angry, just a wee bit pooped!







Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spectacular September

This is my favorite time of year for so many reasons. I love hot weather. But even I grow weary of sweating and roasting in my own juices like a rotisserie chicken. It's always exciting when the temperature mercifully drops and things like apple picking and fall festivals are on the calendar. We turned off the a/c and flung the windows open and have been enjoying the breeze around here. Last weekend I took my daughter and her best friend to the cutest darn orchard I've ever seen, Mills Apple Orchard in Marine, Illinois. 

We picked 18 lbs of scrumptious apples, half of which are now jarred up and living their newest life as spoon-licking-good applesauce. The recipe actually said apple butter, but since I'm eating it straight out of the jar, we're going to go with sauce. What really is the difference anyway? 

The next couple weekends are going to be super duper busy. Saturday and Sunday I'll be vending at the Green Tree Festival in Kirkwood. This show has oodles and oodles of fun stuff for the whole family. It will be my first year there and I'm pretty darned excited. The following weekend, I'll be at the Strange Folk festival in O'Fallon, IL. This indie-style festival is tons of fun and has all sorts of things to do in addition to crafts, snacks, and live music. Check out the website for the full list of goodies. I hope to see you there!



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Field Trip with Jane

Today was a totally fabulous and fantastic day. For the first time in a very long time, I dusted off my camera and met up with my pal Jane to take some pictures. Jane is an amazing photographer and it was really fun to see her work. She's not even a little bit afraid to get dirty. I heart her. Oh and note how comfortably she goes all bendy - that's years of yoga, people. It's impressive stuff.


We met in Soulard and headed over near the brewery to take some photos. One of my favorite things about being a shutter bug is that a camera provides a reason to connect with people I wouldn't otherwise. Within five minutes of popping off our lens caps, we had made a new friend. Meet Rockabilly Johnny. He drives this totally bitchin' vintage car, plays the stand up bass, and restores old cars for fun. He was kind enough to move his car to a more desirable location, model, and give us a tour of his shop. Viva la Johnny!

Johnny and his babies.
Baby got back.
After a quick tour of the shop, Jane and I meandered around the corner and met Larry, who was walking his three adorable pooches -- Dingo, Lulu, and their big beautiful black lab buddy. We made fast friends with this talented artist and he agreed to let us see his totally awesome studio. A short creepy elevator ride later (sorry Jane!) and we were 4 floors up. Larry has some kick ass stuff in his crib, including a mini circus tent!

Tiny Circus

Fantastic GIANT painting

Beautiful stairs that nearly caused a panic attack. SOOO STEEP!

What a fantastic photo adventure! We made two new friends and got some great shots.  Hanging with Jane is so much fun. I can't wait to go play with her again. :)



Monday, July 11, 2011

Pintrest = Buffallo Chicken Pizza

I have a confession. I'm totally addicted to Pintrest. If you haven't gotten yourself hooked yet, careful, be prepared to abandon sleep. Pintrest is a website that allows you to visually catalog things you see around the web, share your "pins" with others, as well as view and pin from others' boards. Besides the completely drool-worthy DIY pins, there is the never-ending food porn. OH.MY.GAWD. the fabulous recipes and impressive lick-the-screen photos are unbelievable. One I knew I had to make was the buffalo chicken pizza. I love hot wings, but eating chicken on the bone gives me the willies, so this is a great way to get the spicy chicken without the wing mess and the psychological freak out. 

Spicy chicken and ooey gooey cheese -- mmmm. I had to do a little improvising though since I didn't have all the ingredients listed in the original recipe on hand. For instance, when I checked the expiration date on our ranch dressing we were past the recommended "use by" date by six months. Whoops. So, I used Caesar and a small packet of ranch from some fast food joint that was stuffed in the butter compartment. I'm not sure what the original is supposed to taste like, but ours turned out great.



Buffalo Chicken:
In a saute pan, cook 2 chicken breasts in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Cool. Shred. Toss with buffalo sauce.

Buffalo Chicken Sauce:
3 TBSP Frank's Hot Sauce
2 TBSP butter

Melt butter in the microwave with the hot sauce for one minute. Stir. 

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Pizza Ingredients:

1 thin crust prepared pizza shell
1/4 cup Caesar/ranch/blue cheese dressing
6 oz. Provel cheese
12 oz. buffalo chicken shredded
1/4 onion sliced
1/4 Parmesan cheese

Assemble the pizza in the following order: dressing spread evenly over crust, 1/2 provel cheese, buffalo chicken, sliced onions, remaining provel cheese, sprinkle with parmesan.

Next time I think I'm going to toss on some black olives and maybe some mushrooms. Let me know if you try it out or have your own version.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bring the Heat!

Nothing makes me happier than the feeling of the sun warming my skin and the smell of freshly cut grass. I love summer! One of my favorite parts of summer is all the outdoor shows and there are some awesome ones coming up this month. I hope to see you there.

Let Them Eat Art
Maplewood
Manchester between Sutton and Bellevue
Friday, July 8
6 p.m. - 11 p.m.
This super-fun festival combines all the greatest in local music, art, and street performance.
Bonus -- there's also a costume contest!


Soulard Market Park Arts and Crafts Fair
9th/Lafayette at Soulard Market Park
Saturday, July 9
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

More than 50 artists join forces for this fabulous outdoor fair. Grab some veg at the market and get your crafty shopping done in one trip!


Eco Bloom
Tower Grove Park - Sons of Rest Pavilion near the Grand entrance
Saturday, July 16
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
40 green-minded indie crafters unite for a green-a-palooza in Tower Grove Park.



Tower Grove Farmer's Market and Bazaar
Saturday, July 23
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
http://www.tgmarket.org/
This weekly market is pooch-friendly and features artisan and heirloom eats in addition to handmade crafts. Oh, and there's yoga at 9 for free.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Craft-O-Matic craft show in The Loop!

Oh yeah, baby. It's almost time! Pinch your pennies and block out your calendar for Saturday, June 4 from 11 to 11. This is where the fun will be had.


Here's a little merchandise preview!





See you there!




Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Time Flies!

Wowzers, time sure does fly. It's been three weeks since the last post! Since our last visit things have been a little nutty around here.

The chickens are growing like weeds!
Lupe's big girl feathers are coming in nicely!


















The coop is nearly finished and painted a lovely barn red. The girls are going to love it. The ladies have been taking regular field trips to the yard and are loving getting to scratch in the dirt and eat bugs by the belly full. Their personalities are really starting to show and it's been a hoot watching them grow. Gram Pam has really developed a deep affection for our girls and talks to them all day long, then "puts them to bed" in their brooder box when it gets dark. "Okay ladies, it's time for bed! Everybody in the box!" Then she chases them around the outside pen trying to corral them. It's quite a sight. :)


This jerk right here has been getting 100% of my time lately.
My nemisis: Campylobacter













I spent five days and four nights at the hospital getting pumped full of antibiotics and fluids. Colitis caused by campylobacter, a gnarly bacteria that you don't want to tangle with, which totally kicked my butt. I'm home now and feeling much better, but I'm on day 11 of recovery and still not 100%. I had a check up today at the doc and she said it might be 2-3 more weeks before I'm back to normal with the help of lots of probiotics. *le sigh* Other than just feeling generally crappy, I've developed a blood clot at one of the IV sites, which is kind of a bummer and a little scary. Hopefully, if I am diligent and follow doctor's orders it will clear up ASAP. Cross your fingers for me!

In exciting news, Indie Craft Revolution is right around the corner -- April 30 & May 1. It's hard to believe that craft show season is about to launch and it's going to be a busy one. Since I've been house-bound I have found a little time in between naps to get my craft on. I've been working really hard on streamlining my product line and I'm excited to show it off. Maps are king! I've also decided to split off my pet stuff into its own line, called Mack & Wobbles (in honor of my favorite doggy and cat). I'm working on the logo now and doing a little product development. Look for new offerings at Craft-O-Matic in June.

The kids are eager for the school year to be over. The boy has 5 days left to graduation and the girl has 19. I'm really excited for them, it is going to be a fun summer. The girl got her first job at a local ice cream shop and has been enjoying making money and mixing chocolately goodness. The boy is job hunting, but has some exciting prospects of his own having just been accepted to play soccer for a local university. I am super proud of them both, they're awesome people and can't believe I'm old enough to have kids that drive cars and have jobs. Crazy.  To add insult to injury a buddy of mine from high school told me today that our TWENTY YEAR reunion is coming. That cannot be possible, can it? I'm a whole 37! That's barely a grown up, right? Time really does fly.

Oh! Also, we had a squirrel visitor briefly.
Isn't he the cutest?















His name is Beemer and the kids rescued him from getting squashed in traffic like his mommy. He hung out with us and got fattened up on nuts for a couple weeks. He charmed our pants off, that little critter was so sweet and soft like a kitten. It was hard to let him go, but alas, it was time. Last Sunday, Beemer had his independence day. He hugged the boy, barked at the girl, chirped, and ran two stories up a big maple tree. We released him in the park near where the boy plays soccer, so hopefully, they will meet again.

Welp, it's time for this girl to get some shut-eye. I hope to see you all very soon. Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Employees and Craft Shows


The chicks are here! I picked up the girls on Saturday from Duda-Lang Farms in House Springs from the lovely Sue Lang. I got three little cheepers and have been playing mother hen ever since. Temporarily, the little rascals are living indoors. I have their brooder box in the bathroom -- we like to keep it classy at the Schroeder Urban Farm. It's a necessity though, the weather has been cold and chilly lately. In fact, it was snowing like crazy on our way back from picking up the chicks. (Attn: Mother Nature -- It's SPRING! Please get with the program.) In a couple weeks, it will be warm enough to move the brooder box and the babies to the garage with their heat lamp. It should be interesting, they have already figured out how to fly, so keeping them in the brooder might be somewhat challenging! The coop is about halfway finished and if the weather will give me a break, I think I can finish it up in a day or two.

Hugs and peeps from the babies to my buddy, Janelle, who is the best baby chicken holder, ever. She was kind enough to accompany me to pick up the little stinkers and give them lots of love on their journey home. 

Meet the latest additions to the family aka The Employees:

Rontaco 

Maria

Lupe

The girls won't be doing much but being cute to earn their keep until the end of the summer, but by then they will begin to lay eggs. The word is that fresh eggs are tons better than store-bought and I'm looking forward to finding out. The employees should lay roughly 1 egg a day, so that's 21 eggs a week! This is excellent since we go through a metric ton of eggs every couple weeks. 

In other news, the craft show schedule has been hammered out and there's lots of exciting stuff going on. First, I've spent the winter doing some planning and working on improving my brand. Expect to see a lot more maps this year! 

Here's what I have planned so far:

Friday, April 29, 5-8:30

This is a Craft Mafia show and will be held at the St. Louis Artists' Guild
Saturday, April 30, 10-5
Sunday, April 31, 10-4

Saturday, May 21, 8:30-12:30
Saturday, June 18, 8:30-12:30
Saturday, July 23, 8:30-12:30
Saturday, August 20, 8:30-12:30
Saturday, October 22, 8:30-12:30

This is an exciting new show hosted by the St. Louis Craft Mafia and is also a fundraiser for 10th Life Cats. It will be held at the Regional Arts Commission in the Delmar Loop
Saturday, June 4, 11-11

Saturday, May 14, 9-3
Saturday, June 11, 9-3
Saturday, July 9, 9-3
Saturday, August 13, 9-3
 





Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Farmer Holly and Thrifty Finds

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last blogged. Let's catch up a little bit...

My other adventure Drop. Swap. Grow. consumed quite a bit of my crafty time recently, but of course my love of all things sticky, messy, and colorful runs deep -- fear not lovers of craft, I was merely on a brief hiatus. Drop. Swap. Grow.'s mission is to share seeds and knowledge and encourage sustainable practices. We had our first event, a spring seed swap and the turnout was fantastic. I'm so lucky to have wonderful friends who helped me pull it off! We got more than 200 kinds of veg seeds and dozens of other types of fruit, herbs, and flowers. About fifty people attended, which meant we had plenty of leftovers seed. The bulk of the leftovers were sent to become a new vegetable and herb garden installed by HopeBUILD a nonprofit in St. Louis that builds gardens in underserved areas. The excess flowers seeds are going to be distributed to anyone who asks for some and also to promote future swaps. Spreading the love around! The next swap will be to celebrate the bounty of our gardens and will be a fall harvest swap. Stay tuned!

I'm working hard on developing my yard into a little urban farm and this past weekend I got a bunch of seeds in dirt and logged all of my upcoming gardening duties. Today, while I was waiting for dinner to cook (more on that in a moment) I checked all my little seedling sweeties and gave them a spritz of water. We have over 100 varieties of plants going in the ground this year and almost half of them are being started in seed trays. It's chilly today, it actually SNOWED which is total b.s. if you ask me, but we've got a warming trend headed our way and I'm happy for me and my seeds that need heat to germinate. 
When I got to work today my desk plant had sprouted a couple little babies over the weekend -- I love to watch things grow. 

Chickens are moving in! Construction on the chicken coop begins this Thursday. The supplies are purchased and the builder has been bribed with the naming rights to one chicken and free eggs in the future. There will be three in total: Alice, Flo, and Rontaco. Alice and Flo of Mel's Diner of course. Rontaco is a long story that I'm not sure I totally understand, but hey, the lady builds, the lady gets to name a chicken!We may call her Ronnie for short when the lady isn't listening.  The 2nd runners up for hen names are Laverne and Shirley. If Alice and Flo don't "feel" right for the chicks, then I'll go to plan B. They have breed names I can neither pronounce or spell, but colors I can - 1 black, 1 red, 1 black and white. To say we're excited about the upcoming chickens is an understatement. We can't wait!

Over the weekend we did some thrift shopping as a family. The whole lot of us hopped in to my Civic (Debbie Dawn) and headed across the river to Illinois to hit the shops in Belleville, which are wonderful and plentiful. I got a few new cute things, but my most impressive finds by include a vintage balance scale made in England with disc shaped weights (so cute), a giant water bath canner (only 8.99!), and a pressure cooker for (17.99). I've been wanting to give a pressure cooker a whirl since my friend Nupur told me she uses one. She's an amazing cook, go read her blog and drool. She's got an extensive archive and I can personally vouch for the cocoa brownie recipe -- when we had our charity knitting event, she brought some and I ate them until I was a little dizzy from my sugar high. Anyway, as excited as I am about the new gadget, I have to admit, the "pressure" part scares me a bit and I spent the first half of the cooking time debating whether or not I should get my safety goggles from the garage, just in case and the other half a little fearful of going in the kitchen at all. 

It's all shiny and pretty, eh? The bobbly part on top is the scary part, that's
the valve that makes crazy noises and spits steam.
I decided that corned beef was a good test recipe, would be a tribute to all 1/10th of my Irish heritage and holiday appropriate with St. Pat's around the corner. Plus, it was on sale hella cheap, 2.99/lb!

I tossed it in to the cooker with 2 1/2 cups of water, 3 whole garlic cloves, and the seasoning packet it came with. I put it on the stove without the lid and got it started on high heat, once the water started to boil, I put the lid on and locked it. Within a couple minutes it started making hissing noises and shooting steam out. I let it make a racket for a few minutes, then lowered the heat a bit so it would still boil, but not completely burn off all the liquid. The instructions said that the bobbly thing would wobble, I can't say it ever did, but it did make a bunch of crazy noises. After about an hour, I turned it off and used a wooden spoon (per my pal Cat's suggestion) to tip the valve and release all the steam from the pot and eliminate the pressure. I was terrified I was going to screw it up and end up with a face full of steam, but I didn't even get injured a little bit! Yay! 
I took the meat out with tongs and put it on a platter to rest while I cooked chunks of red potato, onion, and baby carrots in the pressure cooker. Instead of water, I used the drippings from the meat and about 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock (no beef in the pantry) to season the veg. Start to finish it was only about 10 minutes to heat up and cook. After that round, I rinsed the pan and tossed a couple ears of corn and a cup of water in the pan. It took less than ten minutes for that also. Everything turned out moisty, juicy and delicious! 
The picture doesn't do it justice, the meat is fork-tender and lean.
SOOO yummy. The black spot is a browned bit of meat or potato skin. Nothing scary! 
The dinner was a huge success, everyone ate it and liked it. I'll be using my scary pressure cooker more often in the future. Next up, beef roast. MMMM. Oh, and bonus, it only took an hour to cook a 4lb. corned beef versus 4+ hours in the oven. Neato! 

Toodles for now. Next up crafty chat. I have my list of upcoming shows compiled and am sorting out some last-minute details, then I'll post. 

Stay Crafty,
Holly



Saturday, February 5, 2011

T-Shirt Rug Mini Tutorial and Canine Adventures

Winter always inspires an extra helping of crafting. A couple weeks ago I saw a project in a book I checked out from the library, AlternaCrafts by Jessica Vitkus, that had a great little project for upcycled rug make from t-shirts. My friend Janelle came over for dinner last night and she was just the sucker girl I needed to help me get it started. The original project used burlap and a yarn needle, but I was afraid that I'd end up with a 1,987,999 stab marks, because I can't be trusted with sharp objects. So, I bought some no-slip stuff at the fabric store to use as a base (remember latch hook rugs?). Then I cut t-shirt scraps into 1" x 6" strips, yanked on them a bit to get them to curl and tied them on starting on the outside working my way in to the center. There's still a lot more to do, but we got a great start. (I'll have to invite Janelle over again soon!) When it's done it will be a colorful, floppy, soft texture and perfect for my cold toes early in the morning.



The studio has been crammed full of people and animals for days since the threat of the snowpocalypse. The kids had three snow days and I had two. I don't know about the rest of the people that live here, but me and the dog have been up to our eyeballs with cabin fever.  So, today with a fresh blanket of snow on the ground and the sun shining bright, me and my favorite canine companion decided to take a stroll down the street to the big vacant lot where Mackie likes play.


video

Stay Crafty and Run Like the Wind!

P.S. I started a little seed swap project, Drop. Swap. Grow. if you're interested in swapping, visit the site for more info. www.dropswapgrow.com





Monday, January 24, 2011

Crafting with Purpose: Needles for Newborns

Extra! Extra!

South City Studio and Paste are teaming up for the fourth installment of Needles for Newborns to benefit Children's hospital. The goodies we make keep little preemie babies toasty at Children's hospital. Mark your calendar, right now! February 19th, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.



FAQ

It's a noble cause and all, but why should I waste a precious Saturday when my life is already so busy?

  • Babies. Teeny tiny babies who get chilly easily.
  • Crafting with purpose feels really good! 
  • It's a super-duper fun time. We are a diverse bunch of really interesting people!
  • If you're rusty or just beginning, this is a great opportunity to pick up some skills. Sit near an experienced stitcher and watch 'em go. We're a generous bunch, you can ask questions, too.

Do I have to stay the whole time? Can I come late?
You don't have to stay the whole time by any means, drop in when it's convenient and stay for however long you'd like. Warning: You'll have such a good time, you won't want to go.

What should I bring?
A chair (just in case), a friend (if you can), a snack to share (we'll provide some snacks), and yarn/needles/hook.

Do I have to bring my own yarn? Can I buy yarn at Paste?
Most people bring their own or buy on arrival. We'll have some donated yarn up for grabs and there is a fantastic selection of really pretty yarn at very reasonable prices.

Can I donate yarn/supplies/food to the event? 
Heck, yes! We love that and thanks in advance for being such a generous soul. Snuggles from the babies.

What kind of yarn is best for babies?
Babies have really sensitive skin, cotton or acrylic is best. No wool.                                                    

I can't come, can I drop of things I make on my own? 
Of course! The babies don't mind one bit.

What are we going to make?
Hats, booties, and blankets.

Will you have patterns?
Yep, we'll have some. Please feel free to bring your favorite. There are scads for free on the internet if you don't have a favorite yet, just Google it -- free pattern knit crochet preemie baby. BAM! Zillions.

How big should a preemie hat be?
A very wise NICU worker told me think plum, tennis ball, orange. Yes, THAT tiny! Some of the preemie babies only weigh a couple pounds, so they're gosh darn tiny.

Is this a kid-friendly event? 
It breaks my heart to say this because we love the little people, but not really. A) A bunch of ladies cackling and stitching is pretty boring for the kiddos. B) The conversation tends to lean PG-13 and some of the adults like to consume adult-beverages. As a rule of thumb, I'd say it's probably too "educational" for anyone younger than 14.

I'm a dude, can I come?
Yes, please join us! Disclaimer: If you're planning to shop the crowd for single ladies, may I suggest match.com?
                                                  
Do I need to RSVP?
Probably not. If you are planning to bring a bus load of people, then, yes please, let's talk. Otherwise, no worries, just show up. Early and late tend to be the least busy times, mid-afternoon is the busiest.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow Day

If you're here in the Lou, I don't have to tell you that it's brrrrrr chilly and everything in sight is covered in fluffy white stuff. In my part of town, we got somewhere between six and eight inches depending on where you measure.


After checking in on a bit of work stuff, I spent the rest of the day sewing and knitting. I'm working on a new cowl right now using a pattern I found on Cornflower Blue's blog. She has great patterns that are in plain English; there's nothing worse than loving a project but being totally unable to understand the cryptic instruction. I'm doing a bright turquoise bulky yarn and only 30 stitches instead of 40. It's really coming along nicely. I can't wait to get it finished.

In between craft projects I took a short break to get bundled up and take a peek on the happenings in my backyard. Normally, the yard is bursting at the seams with all sorts of greenery, even in the winter months. Today, it was piled high with a thick blanket of snow. Mackie the Wonder Dog was pretty excited that I was going to hang out with him in his backyard and did a happy dance when he saw me slip on my yellow rubber boots. He really, really, likes to run around in circles and practice his herding skills when he has a visitor to corral. I love it when his nose is sprinkled with snow. So cute.


2011 is going to be awesome! LOTS of exciting things are going in the craftyverse. I can't spill the beans just yet, but I promise, I will -- soon.

Until then, be safe, stay warm, and keep it crafty.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Winter Stitching and OMG, Heyyyy from the Ranch

Cold weather makes me want to stay in my flannel jammies all day and knit, which is exactly what I've been doing, too -- every chance I get. Right now, I've got quite a few projects in the works:

I just started a crocheted baby blanket for my friend's new baby. This project gave me an excuse to learn the bobble stitch. Thanks, Blackwood Cottage for the easy-to-read instructions and cute pattern.




This afternoon I finished this cute little knitted hat with a crocheted embellishment for the same friend.




The boy is getting this waffle stitch scarf in his favorite color. It's made with Cascade 220 wool yarn and should keep him nice and toasty.



The girl is getting this lavender scarf in yummy alpaca yarn. SUPER soft and cozy. If you have wool allergies, I highly recommend alpaca, it's just as warm as wool, but it's hypoallergenic and won't make you all itchy scratchy.


Lastly, for myself, I just started to knit a hat in this scrumptious grey heathered alpaca. Being the big-headed gal that I am, hats are always hard to find that don't make me feel like my skull is being smashed, so a custom hat is my saving grace. Thank goodness for my pal, Janelle, who helped me get going with circular needles.


What sort of projects do you have in the works? Do you have a favorite yarn? I get all my yarn at Paste in Soulard. Paste has a really nice selection of good quality yarn at reasonable prices. It's my favorite supply shop and I teach classes there. :) If you're in the neighborhood or looking for an excuse for a field trip, scoot over to Paste, pet the alpaca yarn and ooh and ahhh over all the nifty handmade goodies in the shop! 

Just in case you haven't seen a picture of a cute animal today, let me help you out. These pretty mini-horses were resting at the ranch when I did my ranch girl volunteer gig this weekend. Don't they have fun hair? I bet when no one is around, they chatter in valley girl voices and do lots of hair flips. 
Like OMG, heyyyyy from the ranch!








Saturday, January 1, 2011

Twenty-Eleven

Like everybody else, the new year provides a time to reflect on the year past and a time to look forward to the year ahead. Instead of doing a list of resolutions, I decided that this year, I would take a business approach and do some strategic planning instead. I don't know why, but that sounds more palatable to me for some reason. Perhaps, the bad taste in my mouth for "resolutions" is the result of a lifetime of abandoned ones that make me leery. I like to plan. Planning, I can do.

First, a review. I've thought long and hard about the previous twelve months and I think the greatest area for improvement is in time management. I don't have much of it to spare, so I need to be sure I invest wisely. Work, school, and family take up a considerable chunk, but I must also make time to relax and recharge my batteries, too. I spent entirely too much time exhausted in 2010.

This year, I plan to take better care of myself -- mind, body, and spirit. A little bit of advance planning will go a long way in all these categories. I don't need any drastic revisions, but a few hours invested here and there in meal planning, exercise, and a little more sleep will make improve things significantly. It certainly can't hurt to try.

The past couple years have been an incredible learning experience with my little business. I have learned a ton. In the past couple months, I have been doing some research, product development, tests and trials and I have some exciting ideas that I will share as they develop over the coming year. Expect to see a lot more maps. :) I also plan to put more effort in to my Etsy shop this year. It's been sparsely stocked for months and it's high time I filled it up. Thank you so much to all of you who have supported me, I'm pretty sure I have the best customers, ever!

I hope your first day of the new year has been a exactly what you hoped for and more. Blessings and good wishes to you all in 2011!