May 29, 2014

Bellies, Bobbles and Blankets

About two months ago, the Sailor and I escaped to the beach for a few days, where we soaked up sun, sand and seafood. 

I used the long car ride on the way home to work on some bobbles. I remember thinking that my belly looked HUGE in this photo. Suffice it to say, it is MUCH bigger now that I'm 30 weeks along! In fact, my lap has all but disappeared.

Forget my burgeoning belly at the moment though, and check out those crochet bobbles! I had an extra skein of yarn leftover from making this bag, and I wanted to make a little companion bag to stash inside of the big one. I didn't use a pattern, which is very unlike me, so it took several attempts until I figured out what I was actually doing. 

I'm still not sure what I did (I really should have written down my method) but in the end, it turned out kind of cute, I think.

I also had some leftover giraffe fabric from this blanket I was working on, so I lined the inside and added a zipper.

And then, when I got home, I finally finished the blanket, too. 

The blanket is super squishy and will be perfect for when the Peanut wants to roll around on the floor. If only I had the energy to make one in my size!

May 26, 2014

Excess, etc...

It may come as no surprise to you that America is a land of excess. 

Almost 20 years ago, when I returned home after an extended time in Ukraine, I remember gawking at a grocery store aisle full of butter. My friend and I counted 50 varieties. I'm pretty sure salted butter hadn't even made it's way to Ukraine that year, so suddenly having 49 other options proved more than overwhelming.

We walked out of the store without any butter, slightly dizzy. 

Grocery stores are not the only places that make me dizzy. I've mentioned before my need to declutter craft supplies.

This week, I dove into the scrapbook heap, determined to catch up on a backlog of ideas and photos. (A friend of mine referred to it as 'nesting'... yes... that must be it!) Whenever I had a spare moment, I'd sit on the floor and craft away.

I had quite a successful week. 

However, when it was all said and done, and I finally got around to cleaning up the mess (I desperately needed to vacuum), I went through the stuff that I had and got rid of a bunch of it. (No dear reader, I didn't throw out perfectly good craft stuff... I'll donate it to a thrift store.) 

While I was crafting I realized that having too much to choose from sometimes stumped my own creativity. Or I couldn't find what I was looking for, because frankly, the pile of paper was too BIG

The Sailor has a thing for excess. He never minds me shopping or buying things... as long as it's not in excess. You can imagine then that he occasionally found my craft stash overwhelming. Happily, I've decluttered a LOT of it, especially the yarn

I often hear stories about people stashing their yarn in closets, under the sofa, in between the sofa cushions -- you get the picture. While I admire their tenacity at storing the stuff, I sometimes wonder how can they remember what they have? And doesn't there come a point where they don't want to use any of what they have (because they have too many choices!) and they end up buying even more? 

A lot of this applies to every day life as well... buying too many clothes can mean you can't make a decision on what to wear because you have too many choices. Buying too much food at one time means that some of it eventually spoils before you can eat it. Even taking out too many library books at one time and then only reading half of one before they are all due is living in excess. (I'm totally guilty of that latter one!)

One of the most amazing pieces of art I've ever seen in my life was by a little girl from Belorussia. She created an incredible scene with a horse, using only twigs and bark and things found in nature. All the gel pens in the world couldn't have come up with something so neat. Seeing that picture made me reassess my own excess.

Did I finish EVERYTHING I wanted to scrapbook? Um, no. But the next time I pull out the supplies, you can bet that I'll have less to choose from... and I'm pretty sure I'll be more creative and efficient as a result. 

May 22, 2014

Clearly Pyrex

It goes without saying that spring cleaning and purging means more trips to the thrift store to drop off items than to actually shop... although I have managed to eek in a few trips inside to scope out potential prizes. 

I've come up pretty empty-handed. (I'm sure I can hear the Sailor cheer from across the globe...) In fact, in my clear-out, I've sold some miscellaneous Pyrex that I decided I no longer used or needed in my collection. (Again, that cheer... the cabinets are probably breathing a sigh of relief too.)

But a few weeks ago I managed to dawdle through an antique store and I found another Pyrex See 'N' Store Canister in Wildflower. 

It was a little pricier than I wanted to spend, but you know what... I got the rest of these at such a bargain that I decided I could spare a few bucks. Plus, I use these things ALL of the time -- especially when I'm baking!

I love being able to open the cupboard and actually see how much sugar and flour and oatmeal I have available. For some reason, packaging tends to make me a little crazy. Sometimes it's nice to not bring some other company's branding into my home.  I know it's one extra step when I bring home the groceries, but for my sanity, it's totally worth it.

Plus, when I have the stuff on the counter and I spill liquid... I don't ruin half a flour bag. I can just wipe off the canister. So much easier!  I have other Pyrex canisters storing granola bars and nuts, and I even keep cereal in clear containers (although they are from IKEA and not Pyrex. It will take a while until I find enough of these glass containers at affordable prices for everything.) 

How about you? Is your cupboard clearly see-through? 

May 19, 2014

The Porch Garden

While I'm waiting for my tomatoes to actually grow in our garden, I've been busy on the porch creating a little urban haven. 

I read something a long time ago that mentioned the need to get outside and to actually see green things grow (a photo doesn't count). There is something therapeutic and calming about sitting or strolling in a garden setting -- even an urban one.

While we have an amazing array of outdoor glory right at our fingertips, it doesn't escape me that I still live in an apartment complex. That's where porches make for great getaways -- even in the midst of other people living around you. 

In my early 20s, I lived and worked in England. The British are known for their gorgeous flower gardens. 

My backyard however, was a total disaster. I didn't have access to a lawn mower or any other equipment necessary to keep the area in British tip-top shape. Thankfully, a neighbor took it upon himself to mow the grass for me on occasion.

Once the grass looked presentable, I still didn't know how to keep the flowers in the ground alive, but I did know how to re-pot a plant. So, I ended up with a little potted garden near the back door, and every fine evening, I'd sit out on the steps with whatever beverage the day called for, along with my journal. I'd write while listening to the birds settle in for the night, pausing every now and again to admire my few flowers. 

Last night I had a little flashback to my 23-year-old self. The neighbors have certainly changed; so have I. But one thing is for sure, I still know how to re-pot a plant, I like a bit of green all around me, and I still write in my journal surrounded by that beauty. 

May 16, 2014

Baby-Sized Blue Jeans

At this point in my pregnancy, I'm pretty sure the Peanut has more stylish clothes than me... and the little one doesn't even need any at this point! And, when he or she decides it's time to enter the world and cover up the birthday suit, I'm quite positive these baby blue jeans may only fit for two weeks at the most. 

Nevertheless, I couldn't resist knitting them. 

In fact, I'd love a pair in my size. They look so squishy and stretchy and comfy. 

I nearly finished these way back in March, but I got hung up on the embroidery. They sat in the 'finishing' pile for weeks until I finally tackled them again a few days ago. And now that I've posted the backside photo, I realize I never put a little jeans label above the pocket. So I guess they're not quite done yet. I don't think the Peanut will notice if I leave it off though.