Hello! And welcome back after what I hope was a lovely holiday season.
We had a very nice Christmas. This year, we splurged on an artificial tree. Here’s Pepper at Home Depot, assessing the selection.
I was set on getting one of the cheaper models, but then this tree caught our eye, and when CPT A (via text) gave it his vote as well, we went ahead and made the plunge.
I’m so glad we did. It’s my favorite tree to date. The glittery “snow” makes it very pretty – even in the sunlight. And, it was nice not having to water a tree or vacuum up needles. Also, I didn’t have to be concerned about the tree drying up in the sun. The biggest challenge was getting it back into the box…and, we never did get the entire thing to fit. So, now we’ll need to get some sort of a storage bag. But, overall, I’m very glad we made the purchase.
The past few weeks brought a couple of fun travel opportunities for our family. Pepper went to New York with her drama club in December to see Phantom of the Opera.
She had such a great time, she asked to go back a few weeks later for her birthday. This time, Ginger and I tagged along.
We took a bus into the city and had enough time for a bit of shopping and a matinee performance of Aladdin.
It was wonderful! Unlike the girls, I’m not a huge fan of music theater, but even I was amazed by the costumes, the sets, and the special effects – not to mention the singing and dancing.
Now, let’s see, what has been going on around the house….
Now, two of our hens are laying – surprising, considering the lower levels of daylight, but very welcome, I assure you.
And, the geraniums we brought in at the end of summer continue to bloom.
It’s always nice to have something flowering in winter.
Toward the beginning of December, we had lots of snow and ice. All of the shoveling I did gave me plenty of opportunities to try out one of my recent knitting projects – a “dickey.” Are you old enough to remember when these were sold in stores?
You wouldn’t think it would deliver much warmth – but it does! And, it’s wonderfully convenient, because, unlike a scarf, there aren’t any ends dangling and getting in the way. On extra cold days, I wear it around the house – especially if I’m wearing my hair up. It keeps the back of my neck from getting cold.
Other snow gear I finished in December – these mittens for Ginger.
I did not have as much luck with a sweater vest I was attempting to finish in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Here you see it at its start…
And now it is all unraveled and sitting in a pile in the closet. I tried several different patterns with the yarn and nothing seemed to work the way I wanted it to. I do like the yarn, though, so maybe I’ll use it for something simpler…perhaps a scarf.
As a sort of palate cleanser, I’m currently knitting a selection of colorful yarns from Lion Brand’s Ferris Wheel line into an afghan.
Here are the first two squares:
I’m basing my afghan on the Noro “To The Point” blanket. The yarn I’m using is a little thinner than what the pattern calls for, though, so I’m having to improvise. I think my afghan will have 42 squares.
So, that brings you up to date. I hope your New Year is off to a great start, and that you’re settling into cozy, relaxing days after all of the holiday fuss. I plan to drink lots of tea and do lots of knitting and reading in the coming weeks. I hope you have similarly pleasant plans. From the dining room table, getting ready to knit yet another afghan square,
October greetings to everyone! Isn’t this a fun picture of the girls? We stopped in at Yankee Candle in Deerfield last week and couldn’t resist a shot in front of these pumpkins. Yankee Candle always does a great job with their fall decorating.
I haven’t written in a while – I hope to remedy that and get back into a more regular groove. In the meantime, here’s a post to bring you up-to-date with what we’ve been up to these past few weeks.
In late September, we finally made it to the beach! This is one of Ginger’s favorite things to do – and one of CPT A’s least favorite things to to do. He’s not a fan of the sun, so we usually time our visits for early fall so the heat and glare aren’t so intense.
This year, we chose to go to Hammonasset Beach State Park in Connecticut. Our day was nearly perfect – still warm enough to swim, but cool enough to be comfortable.
Ginger got in the water right away and stayed in for almost the entire visit. She’s such a little fish!
We definitely recommend this beach. It’s lovely, clean, and there were some nice walking trails that I’d love to explore further on a future visit.
On the crafting front, Ginger’s been busy making more crocheted creatures. Here you see her putting the finishing touches on a Hippocampus. This is another pattern she purchased from Crafty Intentions – one of her favorite places to go for patterns.
I love how the tail turned out.
A more recent creation was this koi which was donated to a silent auction that benefited Justice For Our Neighbors, a charity that pairs immigrants with legal and social services. The koi went for $100 – Ginger was very pleased.
Ginger has also been learning to sew and finished her first quilt about two weeks ago.
And what have I been doing? Not nearly as much as Ginger! I have been crocheting Christmas ornaments, though. Here’s one of the army of snowmen I’ve made this fall.
These go together in about an hour and are a lot of fun to make. If you’re interested, you can find the pattern HERE.
In garden news, things are definitely winding down, though we have yet to have a good, hard freeze. Last week, the front flower bed looked like this:
The bees seem to have all vanished (I imagine the bumblebee queens are sleeping in the leaf litter). Before it got too cold, though, we had a good run of late-season bumblebees. They particularly enjoyed the straw flowers.
Apparently, straw flowers have lot of pollen.
And, before that, we had a “flock” of monarchs who hung around for a couple of weeks. I counted eight in the garden on several occasions.
They were so beautiful. I would be outside and think I was seeing a falling leaf, then I would look up and realize it was a monarch. Just lovely.
The local oak trees produced a bumper crop of acorns this year. I love acorns.
When I walked the dogs, I would collect a handful from the road. Then, I’d toss them out into the garden. They were always gone the next day, though I never saw who took them. I suspect it was the chipmunks.
And, we got eight pumpkins, total, from the garden this year. I have them set up on the mini-wall out front.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a picture I took at Hampton Ponds State Park last week. I had a free hour while waiting for one of the kids’ activities to finish and so stopped at the beach (which was deserted) for a bit of knitting in the sun. The water was littered with leaves and pine needles and lapping the shore with a lovely, gentle rhythm. Such a nice way to spend an hour.
So, now October is over and we’re into November – CPT A’s favorite month, and one of mine, too. Our days have gotten shorter, our trees much barer, and our first snow is likely just around the corner. In the meantime, it’s a blustery Halloween night – seventy degrees, with rain and high winds. So weird.
From the dining room table, enjoying the warmer temperatures while they last…,
Summer is gone, and now we are within the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” (as Keats would say). I think he sums it up rather nicely, don’t you? That is exactly how things have been around here of late – misty mornings and mellow fruitfulness. Enough fruit, in fact, to make a couple of apple pies from our first round of homegrown apples.
We might have had more, but CPT A was concerned about the limbs of our little apple tree being able to handle them all, and so culled a portion of the apples early on.
The apples – and the resulting pies – were delicious. Such a treat! It still seems magical to be able to grow things on our own trees and actually eat them.
Elsewhere in the yard, the pollinator garden is thriving. Here is how it looked at the beginning of the month:
And, it’s still going strong, though at this point, it’s looking decidedly less fresh. We’ve had a wonderful “crop” of butterflies and bees this year. Definitely more than last year. Here you see some visitors to the verbena.
And we’ve had more monarchs than ever before. I counted eight, total, one day. I think the population has risen in accordance with the increased milkweed in our yard.
In the backyard, a vigorous crop of jewelweed is meeting the needs of bees that don’t bother to come all the way up to the front.
On the vegetable front, we enjoyed a good crop of cucumbers this year, and now the pumpkins are almost ready to be taken off the vine.
The chickens have been poking around in the pumpkin patch, though, and have gone after some of the pumpkins, so the crop is somewhat scarred and battered.
In early summer, I grew lettuce and enjoyed being able to just gather my dinner salad each evening. I’m trying to recapture some of that fun, so I started another round of lettuce, this time in a container.
I really hope this works.
The weather is still nice enough to spend time crafting outside in the afternoons when I have a bit of time before starting dinner. The chickens and turkey (and guinea hen!) usually keep me company.
I’m working on a variety of projects right now, one of which is another blanket scarf (or “blarf”). This time, I’m using yarn remnants that fit into the “autumn” palette of the Color Me Beautiful book.
It’s a great project to work on while watching TV or a movie…or a great podcast, like the one put out by Fruity Knitting. If you’re a knitter, I highly recommend it.
I did start looking into Christmas gift crafting and thought maybe I’d put together some little mitten ornaments using a pattern I’d seen in a crafting magazine. I sat down one Sunday afternoon and got to work. Here is the result:
Isn’t it wee? It’s like a mitten for a squirrel.
As cute as it is, I’m not going to make another. It was very “fiddly” work and not at all relaxing or enjoyable. So, if you know of a squirrel who needs a single, navy blue mitten, let me know. I have one he can have.
From the dining room table, wondering if human-sized mittens might not make good Christmas gifts instead,
The craft project photos have been piling up, and I thought it would be fun to devote an entire post to the things Ginger and I have been making these past few months. I’ll save Ginger’s items for last, as they’re the most spectacular. Here’s what I’ve been working on:
First, a set of crochet fruits and vegetables that I used as props/toys in the preschool Vacation Bible Camp class I taught in early August.
Aren’t they cute? These were a lot of fun to make and also helped use up lots of odds and ends of yarn I had lying around.
I made progress on my knitted sweater vest. You may remember this project from earlier posts.
I cut the steeks, made an alteration to the length, and sewed up the shoulder seams. Now I just have the ribbing around the arm and neck openings to do. I’m dragging my feet a bit, as that will take a good amount of time, but the weather is cooling down, and I’m sure my enthusiasm will return at some point. At least that’s what I’m hoping.
In the meantime, I’ve been trying to use up other oddments of yarn from my stash. Scarves seemed like worthy projects for the task. Here’s one I made with a skein of Lion Brand “Scarfie”. I used the Back To School #Scarfie pattern.
Both of these were simple and pleasant to work up – a welcome change from that vest!
Alison has been even busier than I have, cranking out toys and even doing some sewing. Here are some House Elves she crocheted at the start of the summer.
If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series, you may recognize these and the colors she’s chosen to dress them in. Ginger sent a copy of this photo to J.K. Rowling.
Another early summer project – these slippers:
Ginger is looking forward to wearing these once the weather cools.
Ginger took a short break from crochet to squeeze in some sewing. Here she is at work on a quilt. Mr. Wa thought he was helping.
He was not.
But the real star projects this summer have been Ginger’s fantasy creatures, all made from patterns created by Megan Lapp of Crafty Intentions.
First, this “Pony Alicorn”:
Then a pair of dragons.
These are definitely the most challenging things Ginger has crocheted to date. The patterns, though, were very detailed and had lots of photos and help for each step. Ginger found them very clear and easy to follow, so if you’re interested in making something similar, Ginger definitely recommends these patterns.
From the dining room table, enjoying much cooler weather with the windows wide open and the cicadas singing,