Friday, December 31, 2010

At Our House...

The decorations are down and tucked away for next year. The snow is mostly melted away and we're having warmer days, around 50-60. I spent this New Years Eve alone, and it was wonderful. I napped!! and went to lunch with my parents. Now my three little girls are all asleep and tucked into their beds. Tomorrow is a new year, a new beginning, of sorts. I have yet to take the time to slow down and write out new year goal, resolutions. I suppose perhaps I should. Always nice to have a visual reminder to keep you on track with goals.
So what would they be? I'm sure there would be parenting goals, be patient, take more time to just enjoy my children, be present and mindful. The last would nice to spread around more in all areas of my life.
There would be business goals, work on new stationary and be better stocked with shipping and crafting supplies. Work up inventory needed for the busy times during the slow times.
Personal goals, loose weight, get more sleep,... that one really could go on and on. Perhaps tomorrow I will sit down and focus on these goals and resolutions more properly. But tonight, I'm going to put this year to bed quietly with a movie and pumpkin cake (must get it in before tomorrow, right?).

Happy New Year to you!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kaiya's Doll

As promised, some photos of the doll I made for Kaiya for Christmas. I was so nervous that I'd completely muck it up but I must say, I'm pretty happy with the results. It certainly did help that my mom helped me. She cut the pattern and did the face and, as my hands were pretty battered by the end of my month of crazed knitting, She did the hand sewing. I think we make a pretty good team. We're going to keep practicing, now knowing what we would change.
The proportion is off. My fault, as she was drawing it out I felt that the body was just way too scrawny, now I know, and so she's kind of chunky. I also was not totally thrilled with downward slope of the eye line, but since I have made another doll head for a dolly I will making for River's first birthday next month, and I'm super happy with it. Practice makes perfect.
I used the dimensions found here (she is about 18 inches long) and followed this wonderful tutorial. The same doll maker who did the tutorial on Flickr also has one for wigs. And like I said, I was up quite late on Christmas Eve making her so more clothes are coming... soon.
The hat was one I made for River (this pattern) when she was just a wee babe, but not wee enough and so really only wore it once or twice. I'm happy to see it being used finally.
Socks also some that River has outgrown.
In the end, all that really matters is Kaiya is very in love with her. I asked her last night what she had named her. Kaiya, she said. Their hair is the same color so they should have the same name.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice and Christmas... in a Nutshell

I had been meaning to post all of last week, even had a handful of pictures uploaded. But that, quite obviously, didn't happen. So here are our Solstice and Christmas festivities in pictures.
Lots of crafting. The girls really enjoyed decorating the front of these canvas bags. Love these fabric crayons from Pentel. I'm sure we'll find lots of uses for them for gifts and such in the future.
Truth be told, we haven't finished handing them all out as we are still not finished baking goodies for the inside. That's OK, though. Everyone appreciates a little extra something after the holidays.

(Treats for our animal friends, made on Solstice.)

(Winter fairy, an extra gift from Erin. The Holly fairy in the back is from Rjabinnik.)
Most of our gifts were opened on Solstice but here are the last few, tucked under the tree on Christmas Eve night. I'll share pictures of the doll I stayed up late making in a day or so. It was my first attempt at a Waldorf style doll and I'm so pleased with how it turned out.

(Duck prints.)
We enjoyed our first white Christmas that I think any of us has ever had. How magical and unexpected to wake up Christmas morning to snow falling. After opening gifts we went to my brother's for breakfast. By then we had a good coverage and the girls trooped out into the snow, running and making snow angels.

And now we begin to put away the holiday things and clean up the mess from our festivities. I truly enjoy this quite, introspective time between Christmas and New Year. Time to do some decluttering and reevaluating, both in our homes and our personal lives. There is a slow, and comfortable pace as we pull out the year past and look it over. Here I can see what should be kept and worked upon, what didn't work for us and should be let go. A time for new ideas and new goals, resolutions and making peace with the year's failures and frustrations.
The snow is casting a lovely light that is not normally seen in this dim house. I see these cold and frosty days as a wonderful way to start a new, sparkling year, a fresh clean start.
I hope you all enjoy this quite time before the new year. May it bring you peace and light.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Day of Giving

Here are the sweet little deer that I had told you about from my seasonal swap with Erin from Tiny Twist Creative. We added them to our table yesterday as we lit the third light of advent, the light of beasts.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts.
Animals of farm, field, forest, air and sea.
All await the birth in greatest and in least.

Today is Saint Lucia day and our first time celebrating. Well, I have apparently lost all ability to make yeast breads at all. Just like the past half dozen of so (different types) I've attempted, our Lucia buns refused to rise and were hard and dense. I've tried different flours, yeasts... I am thinking perhaps I've just become a little heavy handed with the flour and am adding too much. It's been quite some time since I've made any yeast breads and I guess I have just lost the touch. I have not given up but the buns were a bust. Though, all was not lost. I decided to celebrate the day, as we did on St. Nicholas day, doing as she had done and gathering up and donating food to the local Christian Crisis Center. It's so important to me that we find the relevance in our celebrations and not just focus on the pageantry and gifts and glittering lights. A life worth celebrating is a life worth emulating.
I leave you with this beautiful version of Sankta Lucia. The song and the video are breathtaking!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Trimming the Tree

The tree has been trimmed, the halls have been decked.
The littlest one among us was quite enchanted.
Christmas picture take one;
Take two;
Oh, forget it!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Needle Felting and Giveaways

I haven't shared any giveaways with you recently, so I thought I would check in with a Saturday post and a few good ones. But first, I am finally getting around to showing off my Grandmother Winter figure I made for a seasonal swap. I have yet to get around to taking pics of what my partner sent me (very sweet!) but here's mine anyway. I'll try to get some of her's tomorrow. (And do forgive the repeat if we happen to be Facebook friends.)
My second attempt at needle felting a figure like this. I'm so pleased with how she turned out and was super bummed to be sending her off, though, it was definitely worth it.

Tomorrow will be full of festivities. We will be putting up the tree and celebrating the 3rd Sunday of Advent. And I will attempt to crank out a knitted star for the top of the tree. Fat chance, I'm thinking, but perhaps I can squeeze that in between raising three kids and running a handmade business.

And onto the list;

Set of Wooden Unicorns

Bella Luna Toys

Yarn from Bugsnugger

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yarn Along

I am yarning along again with Ginny this week. On the needles, knitting up the last heart for another pair of Hearted Fingerless Gloves for an order in my shop. I'm still staying so very busy and have had to remove all of the made-to-order items from my shop til the holiday rush is over.
I've had no time for any personal reading but, as always, my little book worms are clamoring for me to read book after book to them. Our (my) new favorite is this wonderful book by Phyllis Root, Grandmother Winter. It tells the story of Grandmother Winter, living all alone with her flock of snow white geese. In the spring and summer she cares for the geese and collects their feathers when they flap a "storm of feathers" and stuffs them into a beautiful quilt. But when she shakes her quilt, that's when the real magic happens.

The story is just magical and Beth Krommes illustrations are so enchanting. I think it's the perfect story to read before tucking your children into their beds on a cold, wintry night.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Celebrating Saint Nicholas

We celebrated our first St. Nicholas Day today. Yesterday we read stories and I waited til just before bedtime to tell them about putting their shoes out to be filled with a special treat. Oh, you should have seen their eyes light up! Kaiya wanted to know who would fill the shoes and I kind of danced around the subject. I'm not one for out right fabrication of characters and honestly I would prefer they look on this holiday as an observance of this wonderful man, a celebration of his life and a call to emulate him in our own lives. But, far be it from me to spoil any magic they may conjure up themselves. By morning, though, she had already decided it was mama that had filled their shoes, not that this diminished it for them one bit.
We decided to celebrate by playing St. Nick ourselves and spent the day in the kitchen making up lots of goodies for our family that lives nearby. We baked cinnamon sugar cookies and banana nut bread in mini loaves. And we made bird seed hearts using the wonderful tutorial from The Magic Onions blog.
We placed the food goodies, along with with some candy canes in pretty tin buckets and wrapped up the bird seed cakes along with a paper star lantern and some of these sweet little ornaments in tissue paper.

By the time we were finished it was getting dark (though, not nearly as dark as this picture would have you believe) so we bundled up and went out to make our deliveries. My grandmother lives just up the hill so we set the packages down on her step, rang the bell and ran like mad. Next stop my brother who wasn't home but left the door unlocked so we dropped them inside. Lastly my sister and her family who live next door. My nephew had caught us in the middle of our baking frenzy so he let us know when the coast was clear and we dropped the gifts off on the porch, threw something at the door and off we ran! The girls just loved this sneaky giving and at least Kaiya got that we were giving in secret as St. Nicholas had done.
It was a lovely day and I think this little day of celebration may be a new favorite. I hope yours was just as magical.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Giveaway

Just dropping in in the middle of a very busy evening to let you all know about a giveaway that is being hosted by the sweet Nicole over on her blog, Garden Mama. I'm giving away a wand and crown set just in time for your holiday celebrations! So run on over there and enter!
It ends Sunday, December 5th.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Yarn Along

Well, first I've just gotta say I really can't believe it's December already. My mama did always say the years fly faster the older you get but, man! This one flew past. I am glad to have it here, though, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.
This week I'm working... well, LOTS! Currently, though, another crown. I never thought I'd be so glad to knit one of these, I've been drowning in a sea of caterpillars and teething dolls so this is a welcome change for the moment. And my book for the week is a one we received in the mail yesterday. It's a sweet little book that shows what all the different kinds of animals do in the winter and at the end it talks about different things you can make to feed the animals. The girls really loved that part so we're going to be making some of those tomorrow.
Check out what everyone else is knitting here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Finding the Sacred in New Traditions

I began this post yesterday, but put it aside for further contemplation, because, like her, I don't want to offend anyone. One's spiritual leanings can be a bit of a touchy subject. But here we all are together, a myriad of beliefs and ideals. There is room for us all, isn't there?
I was raised Baptist Christian, my mother moved us to a non-denominational church when I came into my teens and I left the church all together when I was about 16/17. Regardless of faith or lack thereof I have always followed my family's traditional holiday celebrations, which were pretty standard, I think. The first Saturday after Thanksgiving we would put up our tree and from then we would shop and decorate and bake and enjoy the usual merry makings of the season. Advent was never a part of this, solstice never observed nor the saint's days. And certain members of my family have always been pretty adamant that we follow our traditions, never deviating. Tradition is tradition, I suppose. And for some I can see how knowing what to expect year after year can seem comforting.
But, in recent years I had begun to feel a certain flatness, hard to put my finger on but I just wasn't feeling as fulfilled with our celebrations as usual. Tradition had come to feel restraining and stagnant and I begun to feel that my spirit wasn't being nourished by our festivities. But how does one without a set spiritual path bring spirit and a sense of the sacred into celebrations based on religion? For me, the Christmas season has always been about family and togetherness. About celebrating just for the sake of celebrating, shouldn't life be celebrated? But suddenly, that just did not feel like it was enough for me, though, I don't think I could have put this empty feeling, this yearning for a more sacred and spiritual holiday into words. I did know that the coming of the Christ child held little meaning for me (though, completely respecting that it does for so many) and so did the hustle and bustle of scurrying of gift giving and receiving.
I began to learn about Waldorf education about two years ago and have admired (from a distance) the beauty of all the festivals celebrated. But while admiring them I was hesitant to incorporate them into my family's traditions, after all, most are religion based and I have none. Could these spirit filled festivities be embraced by someone with no spiritual leanings? After much pondering and introspection I believe the answer is simply 'yes'. As we light our first advent candle we look toward, not the coming of Christ but the coming of a different Sun and count down the days til Winter Solstice is upon us and the sun returns. Our garden grew this year and our time spent out of doors increased. We welcomed several new animal friends into our lives and in all of this my connection to this great Earth increased and with it I have a deeper understanding of how our lives here are supported by the sun. This is something that holds meaning for me. This is something I could wholeheartedly pass on to my girls and celebrate with them. We will also be adopting a couple of the saint's days, as well. St. Nicholas and St. Lucia. I do not have to be Christian to admire the selflessness and generosity of spirit that St. Nicholas represents and St. Lucia reminds all of us to be a shining light in the world. This is what I want to pass on to my girls.
So, this year the decorations will not be as many and are coming out more slowly. There is still much celebration to be had here, but the focus will be not on the material or the frenzy that builds over the season. Over the years I had amassed quite a collection of Christmas decorations and over the summer I gave most of them away, opting instead to make by hand most of what we put up and involve my children in this as much as possible. Too often children become spectators of these occasions and are only involved when something is to be received. Instead our aim will be the moment received, not the end result.
The gifts will be fewer. Not very many handmade this year (by me anyway), unfortunately. I will have to prepare for this Christmas rush in my shop sooner next year and work on gifts early in the year while I can. And the girls will be encouraged to work on their own gifts so that they can also feel that joy of giving. Giving of one's self will also be placed in special emphasis and will be included in our Advent calender.
The winter holiday season brings a sense of wonder, magic and the sacred into our lives whether we go to church or practice a religion in our own way, or not. How do you celebrate this season in your family?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Best Thing About Autumn (when you are a sheep)

Or a duck or a chicken, for that matter.
Leaves as snacks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yarn Along

I've been staying so super busy in my Etsy shop. I haven't knitted anything for me or mine in some time and have been thinking how in the world will I get anything made for Christmas? I am being realistic, admitting that I will have to buy most of the gifts this year. But I really do want to have at least one handmade (by me) for each of my girls this year. Which brings me to this week's Yarn Along. Yes, I have orders in the wait a mile long, but, I think I will take the girls' projects just one row at a time, fitting in the extra knitting where ever and when ever I can. Seriously, I knit knit the first few rows of this during our walk this morning.
So, the book is Seven Times the Sun. The pattern, Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap. And the yarn is from Cherry Tree Hill.

What are you knitting and reading this week?