June 30, 2014

Simple Crochet Bag

Understandably, I have a ton on my mind at the moment. The Peanut is due in about five weeks... so in between my nesting compulsions, and reading 874 (slight exaggeration...) pregnancy, birth and baby books, I'm giving myself some down time in my comfy chair, in front of the TV to catch up on a few series.

That of course means I end up crocheting or knitting something at the same time. 

At the moment, I've been working on this super simple (read: occasionally boring to hook...) crochet handbag

I've had the free pattern for a while, and on a trip to the yarn store a while back, I decided to buy this cone of yarn on a whim so that I would have a simple crochet project to do on the evenings that my brain felt especially foggy. 

Like tonight. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to going to have a seat in that chair and work on this summer tote so that I can actually finish it before the end of the season. (And forget what I said about this being a boring bag to crochet... tonight's episode of 24 should bring enough excitement for the evening.) 

June 27, 2014

Non-Shower Baby Showers

I have never been much of a baby shower person. Have I been excited when my friends had babies? Absolutely. Was I ever as excited when I've received a baby shower invitation in the mail? Not so much. 

I could never understand someone cooing and oohing and aahing while opening gifts that they already picked out and placed on a registry. It's not like it was a surprise or anything.

And then there are the games: weird ones like melting chocolate bars, putting them into a diaper and having guests take a bite of the brown goop to guess the type of candy. 


Admittedly, as I've gotten older and so have my friends, the showers have become much more mature and tasteful... beautiful brunches, fun favors and let's face it, less goofy games. 

I'm happy to report that my friends both near and far know me well enough to throw me non-shower Baby Showers. These past few weeks have been busy with friends and family visiting from afar, with a few non-showers in between. 

My school chums from childhood threw me a Skype shower first; my local friends hosted a library shower next. I'll tell you more about the library shower in a later post, but first, let's talk about Skype. Skype is incredible. It's how the Sailor and I get to chat basically for free whenever he's near enough to an Internet connection overseas. We usually just voice Skype, since the video takes up too much bandwidth where he is.

I was a little skeptical when my friends offered to host me a Skype shower, though. What fun would that be, I thought? They all get to eat brunch together while I sit here on my own opening gifts in front of a screen, probably with a bowl of cereal for company? 

However, it was a total success! The gals sent their gifts ahead of time and even arranged to have cupcakes delivered right to my door in the middle of the shower, ensuring that even I had a tasty treat to indulge in. 
Giraffes were a prominent feature in the gifts!

They gathered around the laptop hooked up to a giant screen TV, while I opened gifts (and cooed and oohed and aahed...) and modeled my larger than life belly for them on the screen.

While of course it would have been fun to be in the same room together, Skype was a great alternative. 

Maybe you want to have your own Skype shower for a friend who is far away and expecting? Here are some tips: 

1. Test your Skype connection first! Luckily we did this a few weeks before the shower. My friend had a weird dancing cat on her video feed thanks to pre-installed software from her Dell laptop. (If you have iPhones or Macs, you can always use FaceTime instead of Skype and avoid the dancing cats all together.)

2. Mail your gifts to the recipient so she can open them during the shower. I knew not to open any gifts with my friends' return addresses on them until the shower; luckily another friend alerted me to incoming packages from Target. I had placed so many online orders from various places, I may have inadvertently opened her package early if she hadn't warned me. 

3. Send some food goodies to your friend! Seriously, those cupcakes made all of the difference. I love to eat and I especially enjoy eating with this particular gang of gals. I was actually feeling a little bummed that I didn't get to share a meal with them, until the cupcakes arrived!  

4. Give yourself plenty of time to mingle together before you arrange a time to Skype. I knew my friends would be late to the party (I know how long it takes us all to order our brunch when we haven't seen each other for months...) Plan to leave an extra few minutes buffer while everyone catches up, THEN make the Skype connection. 

5. Once the connection is established, make sure the recipient can actually see you! If you can't see yourself in the computer screen, there's a chance the person on the other end can't see you either. If it's a large group, then take turns chatting to the person, rather than having everyone talk at once. Sometimes conversation gets lost over a connection. In my case, there were only five gals on the other end, so it worked out to have everyone on at the same time. 

Another bonus of Skype showers? If you are not a tactile person... there's no chance anyone will touch your belly.

Later next week I'll share with you the local literary love I received at another non-shower, shower! 

June 24, 2014

Pyrex Not-So-Pretties

My vintage Pyrex collection has definitely taken a backseat to the amount of stuff we are acquiring for the Peanut. While I'm not storing baby clothes in the kitchen (yet), I have still been clearing out the cupboards to simply make some breathing room. I managed to sell a few pieces of Pyrex a while back, and there's a stack of dishes waiting at the door for their chance to make someone else happy. 

Understandably, I've limited my 'hunt' for more Pyrex. I have still searched for Pyrex whenever I'm out and about, but I haven't found many pieces worth writing about, let alone purchasing. However, a few weeks ago, I went to a thrift store and spied these three little pieces. 

They were (and still are) in rough shape. Someone either scrubbed them too hard or ran them through the dishwasher. And they cost a little more than I wanted to spend on not-so-pretty Pyrex. 

And yet I found myself at the checkout, with these three little less-than-perfect bowls in my hand. 

You see, I found a lonely little yellow bowl ages ago... just the right size for a small serving of fridge milk tart.

The bowl is also the right size for a small serving of M&Ms. (Because let's face it, if the bag is out, I'll eat them all...)

Later, I found the matching larger hostess bowl, along with the even larger hostess bowl and four square dessert cups. 

But the rest of the little yellow bowls still eluded me. In all of my thrifting and antiqueing adventures, I had yet to even see another tiny yellow bowl just like the one I had.

So you can understand then why I ended up paying $6 for three tiny bowls that weren't in great shape. 

After all, they are simply perfect for that tiny bit of ice-cream I like to indulge in fairly often. The Peanut seems to enjoy the ice cream too... although I'm pretty sure he or she doesn't care which bowl I eat it out of. But perhaps these less-than-perfect bowls will be perfect for when the Peanut is old enough to eat his or her own little bowl of ice cream. 

June 21, 2014

Fabulous Friday Flowers

These were last Friday's flowers... And they are still going strong, so I had to share. 

I know I haven't posted much this week... But I promise I have plenty of upcoming goodies to share soon including thrifted Pyrex pretties, seriously successful Skype baby showers, and a few new fun fiber projects. 

Stay tuned! 

June 17, 2014

Early Bean Bounty

Our humble little garden decided to sprout suddenly overnight. 

Last night's pickings... the first of the green beans! (In vintage Pyrex, of course.)

What's even more exciting than this? There are several other bean plants that got a late start and should be just as abundant as this one in the next few days. 

AND, I've seen multiple tomatoes and peppers peeking out from their respective plants. Last year at this time, we had just moved into our new location, and we only began planting the garden well into the summer. This year, I'm thrilled that we got such a head start.   

How's your garden growing?


June 13, 2014

Project Life Plunge

For years, my friend has been showing me her beautiful Project Life layouts. As intrigued as I was by so much fun paper in one package -- I remained reticent to splurge on such a purchase, especially when I had plenty of other stuff to keep me occupied. 

Project Life is pricey. Plus I really like my 8x8" scrapbook albums. 

But months ago I received a gift certificate to an online store and I finally took the plunge. I figured with the Peanut coming soon, I might need an easier incentive to capture the memories, rather than full-on scrapbooking. Besides, I used up the last of my 8x8" albums on this rampage

It worked out that I had just enough pages left to end off that last 8x8" scrapbook on our moving day.

I figured with our fresh start in a new location, it was time to start a new project. Project Life. So this week, I did just that. 

Oddly, I didn't find scrapbooking 'super easy' with Project Life. Don't get me wrong... everything is pretty much laid out for you -- all you do is insert photos and choose the cards to add into the other inserts. 

I just found it a little restrictive in the creativity department. I wanted to add embellishments, flowers, and pieces of string to my page. 

Instead, only having certain sized pieces of paper kind of put a damper in my 'layout' process. 

I ordered an assortment pack of the pages, and it seems like there were a LOT of pages that only had room for one or two photos and then the rest of the spaces were for the small journal cards. I printed a bunch of my photos wallet-sized and used the actual pictures in many places instead of the Project Life Cards.

That being said, it was pretty awesome to whip out nearly a year's worth of events into a book of memories in less than a week. I still have to journal some of the details... but for me that part goes super fast. 

Nevertheless, most of my favorite scrapbook pages have been born out of creative mistakes. I glue something too fast and it looks funny, but instead of ripping it off the page, I work with it. I add pieces here and there to finally make the page stand out, even if I don't have all of the right shapes and sizes to fit into the 'puzzle'. 

So maybe I need to rethink this whole Project Life deal... and get some creative ideas on Pinterest, despite my earlier post about not bothering with that site.

I'm secretly hoping a glue stick is involved somewhere. And in the meantime, I'm keeping an eye out for more 8x8" albums on sale.

June 10, 2014

A Winning Streak

I've had a lucky few weeks on a winning streak. No, I didn't bet on the Triple Crown... in fact, I'm not much of a betting person. But free raffles and giveaways? I'll take 'em! 

Several months ago a local hospital offered a 'mommy-to-bee' event (complete with baby shower bumblebee decor...) For a small fee, a bunch of us pregnant gals got lunch, a tour of the labor and delivery rooms, photos with our bumps, and a chance to chat with vendors selling all manner of baby goods (most of which I was blissfully unaware of before I discovered I'm having a baby... many of which I'll still stay blissfully away from.) 

Bees I knit for a friend's
baby shower a few years ago.
However, in the whole process of meeting and greeting and chatting with the vendors I was actually interested in, I managed to win myself a gift certificate to a local baby consignment sale, as well as two free weeks with a diaper service! 

That same week, I also won a digital copy of this neat 'Knit the Alphabet Book' through a giveaway on iMake's blog

(I hoped that my winning streak would continue with one of the Pioneer Woman's many Kitchen Aid mixer giveaways that she often offers on her site. Alas, I still haven't won one, perhaps proving that I need diapers more than a giant mixer at this point in my life in any case.

Nevertheless, the alphabet knit book got me a little excited about making something personalized for the Peanut. When I first learned to sew, I made myself bed cushions in a weird pink floral print that spelled my name. I loved those cushions. And I loved the fact that they were personalized because I got to sew my own name AND I got to pick the fabric (I only wish I could find the photo to show you how tacky the fabric was.

But since we're not sure yet if the Peanut is a boy or girl... I'll refrain from knitting any names. I may have to start on some ZZZs though, simply to put on my bed in the meantime to remind me to stock up on sleep while I can.


June 7, 2014

Scrap Stash Squishies

Scrap yarn can drive me a little bonkers. I'm not talking about half skeins of yarn that are actually useful... I mean the few yards you may have leftover from a project that aren't really worth much except for gift wrapping. 

Like this mess of leftover spaghetti.

However, I've recently made use of my mess of scrap yarn, by crocheting a bunch of small squishy balls. 

I basically used the same sphere pattern as I did for these meatballs, minus the eyes of course. Some of the balls had more or less rows than others, depending on the amount of yarn I had left. My color combos are all random since I was trying to use up scrap yarn. 

Not really the most exciting project, but I know that when the Peanut is old enough to start throwing things, these aren't going to knock over a lamp or break anything else.  

And of course, if you're using up your scrap yarn, these won't break the bank, either.

June 4, 2014

Thank You Notes

One of my favorite parts of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is his Friday 'thank you notes'. Those of you who don't stay up that late, or who miss it on demand or online the next day, Jimmy takes a few minutes during the episode to write out thank you notes. Of course they're usually a joke -- he pokes fun at current topics of the week. 

But Jimmy has class... because it doesn't matter that he's being sarcastic and hilarious (he is a comedian, after all) he still remembers every Friday to pen his thank you notes.

I've noticed a trend in years that often times people don't bother anymore with thank you notes, especially for gifts. I can't tell you how many times I've sent a gift and never heard back from the recipient until I email or call to say 'Did you get my gift?

I wrote a post a little over a month ago where I mentioned my desire to get back into more handwritten correspondence. (I'm also a fan of holiday greetings if you missed that post. If only the mailman would pay me commission.) 

This morning I sat down to write out some long overdue thank you notes to friends who've given us early gifts for the Peanut. Most of the people had received an email from me to say that their gift had arrived safely in the mail, but I still like to follow-up with a real note. 

You don't have to love to write to send a thank you note... it's simply common courtesy, I believe. As a child, if I received a gift from anyone, my mom sat me down and had me write a thank you note within the week. Or I had the option to telephone the person. I wasn't big on chatting over the phone (still not really a fan...) so I usually went for the writing bit. 

Over the years, I have attended countless weddings, and I have always given a gift. Yet I can only count on one hand the number of thank you notes I've received in return. Now I know that wedding gift etiquette is constantly changing, but I'm pretty sure thank you notes (or at least some form of acknowledgement) are still in vogue. 

Yet I'm also noticing that thank you notes for other non-gift events appear to be alive and well here in the South. Last year, I hosted a wine and cheese party for a friend -- soon afterwards a thank you note from the birthday girl showed up on my doorstep. I cooked a friend a meal after she had a baby and received a thank you postcard in the mail within a week... and soon after I hosted a vintage dinner, I got an email from one of the participants who gushed over how lovely the evening was. Every one of my friends who has visited from afar has also sent thank you notes soon after their departure.

Maybe thank you notes are making a comeback! Who doesn't like to be thanked, after all? 

Writing your own thank you notes shouldn't be feared. Here are some tips to get you started: 

1. Have a stack of cards on hand. They don't have to say 'Thank You' on the front or the inside! Blank cards work fine, or even postcards can work. (These also make great gifts for people, especially at a bridal or baby shower. One of my friends purchased a stack of handmade cards for her sister-in-law's baby shower, addressed them with the gift-givers addresses and then stamped all of them for her. It made the whole process of actually sending the thank you notes, easier and faster for her sister-in-law!)

2. Make a list of gifts you get at a birthday party, wedding, baby shower, etc, along with the people who gave them to you. That way you can easily see who gave what gifts. Put a check mark besides the cards you've written already.

3. Set aside a few minutes a day or a block of time to actually write out the notes. If you have a huge list, like from a wedding, just do a few cards every day at the same time. Eventually you'll work your way through the list without feeling overwhelmed.

4. Make the notes personal! The note doesn't have to be eloquent or long, just try to incorporate a way you're going to use the gift, or how much your kiddo loves the toy and takes it everywhere with her. An added bonus especially if the person handmade you a gift: take a photo with your child or yourself using or wearing the gift and send it along with the note! Years ago, I made fleece hats for a friend's twin girls. I purposely made them big, so the girls could grow into them. She sent a thank you note right away, and then later on, I received another card in the mail with a photo of the girls wearing the hats -- totally melted my heart and made my day. You don't even have to bother printing a photo -- snap a pic on your phone and send it via email or text.

5. Above all else: acknowledge the event, gift or act of kindness in some way. You can always place a phone call instead, or send an email, as long as it's sincere! Or, if you see the giver, thank them IN PERSON. 

Finally, if you want to take it up a notch: If you are visiting friends from a distance and staying in their home, pay attention to what they would like or need. Send them a small gift to say thanks for letting you stay in their home... at the very least send a card. I often travel with a small stack of cards and will leave a personalized one for the hostess to find after I depart, along with some posh soap and some handmade washcloths, or a bottle of wine. 

Thank you, dear reader, for clicking on this post today! May your own day be full of thanks. 

June 1, 2014

Pinterest Disinterest

I know that we are not quite halfway through 2014, but I always feel like June 1st marks the turning point when time starts to fly. Summer may not officially start for a few more weeks, but most people tend to mark the changing of the seasons right after Memorial Day. 

I feel like summer usually buzzes by in a heartbeat and then before I know it, it's fall and the holidays are around the corner. 


With the year nearly half over, it's time to assess where I am with my (ahem) 'goals' for the year. Remember when I talked about non-New Year's Resolutions here? I mentioned that I wanted to make better use of Pinterest

I signed up for this addictive website soon after it took off, and I spent way too long pinning stuff to my boards, and then drooling over my keyboard, with my head in the clouds. 

And then, in a moment of sheer frustration, I took every one of my pins and boards down, in defiance to Pinterest's sketchy copyright statement at the time. Then, once they fixed that, I didn't want to revisit the site because I wasn't okay with my stuff being public for anyone to see. I'm pretty sure they've made the whole site less complex now and you can actually make your stuff private, but the thing is, I've been okay with not going back there. 

You see, every time I think I have a spare moment to peruse the site and start pinning stuff again, I start to think about how addictive it can be. It's so easy to create your boards and lists and then later you wonder how and if you'll ever have time to cook those recipes, knit those slippers and shop for those clothes on your boards. 

And when I look at these perfect photos and sites, I start comparing myself to other bloggers and people in general... and I'm ashamed to say that sometimes the green-eyed monster comes for a visit. 

So, for now, I'm still going to avoid Pinterest. Frankly, I have enough craftiness and creativity spinning around my head right now, and enough of my own perhaps pin-able projects, that Pinterest is just going to get in my way.

Pinterest, I know you are amazing. But for now, I'm still going to avoid you... because let's face it, you're a total distraction.  
How about you? Are you on Pinterest? Is it useful, or do you just find yourself spending hours on there and then not getting anything done?