Friday, January 25, 2008

a little colour for dull days

For me, the downside of January is that the days feel so dark and short. By the time I get to work, the sun is barely shining, and when I leave it's already setting. With no window anywhere near my desk, this makes for a pretty dreary day. I've been looking for a little colour to liven things up and thought these might help...
They are sitting atop the prettiest fabric ever, which I just received today along with 2 others. I've been eyeing these fabrics by Joel Dewberry and Amy Butler for some time and can hardly wait to make something with them. The pale pink is going to be a simple summer top using this Simplicity pattern by Built by Wendy. I'm not too sure what I'm doing with the other two just yet, but something will come up, I am sure.
I also got one of the best presents ever the other day from my sweetie. I have never tried hand embroidery, but this stitch it kit by Jenny Hart is awesome. It includes everything I need to start embroidery and the price is insanely reasonable. I may be getting a little ahead of myself here, but I feel like Spring is just around the corner.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Knitting love

I think some people are naturally born with the talent to knit. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people, but I so want to be a knitter. I dream about picking up needles and yarn and effortlessly whipping up beautiful sweaters for my little guys. Oh, to be able to sit and knit without even thinking while watching a movie sounds like the epitome of multitasking to me.

I have had a basket of knitting 'stuff' for over a decade now, yet so few projects have seen completion. I've been taught the basics by my Mom and filled in the blanks with how-to books. I also took a knitting course before having my first baby, when the urge to knit hit me full force. I managed to finish one adorable little cap in time for his arrival, but other than that my knitting dreams lie in bundles in a colourful basket tote tucked in a closet. Every so often when I pull it out, I have to refer to my instructional books to remind me how to cast on, increase or decrease stitches. These things just don't stick with me naturally. Yet, I persist because it really is my idea of the perfect hobby.

Knitting is calming. There is something almost meditative about it. It is totally portable and can go anywhere with you. You can pick it up and put it down in between playing with the kids and making dinner. As you can see below, even a few minutes waiting for Glen at the train station is put to good use. And best of all, you end up with something handmade for yourself or a loved one.
Instead of picking up one of my old projects, I've found new inspiration and am rereading my how -to's. It really has been a slow start (which included a start, rip apart, and restart twice), but I'm hoping this time some hidden inner talent will finally shine through and my newest project will be ready before the weather changes too much. Not much need for a neck warmer / cowl in summer.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Betsy-Tacy and Tib

I've already spent a good part of the year decluttering and organizing. Most of the work has been on the abundance of toys in our home which is really scary. I thought we bought very little for the kids this year, but I still feel like there is just too much. While practically buried in the basement sorting out toys to keep, donate to charity, or just toss in the bin, I found some of my childhood books. Among them was one of my old favorites Betsy-Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace.

This book was always close by my bedside as a little girl. The yellow cover and illustrations alone made me smile. I could not remember all of the story details, it had been so long since I read it. So I started reading it again and was instantly filled with comfort. It's about Betsy, Tacy & Tib, 3 young girls who live on or near Hill Street and spend their days telling stories, playing games and occasionally getting into trouble (if you call ripping up their dresses, unravelling their hair and getting dirty trouble, that is). It's a simple, sweet and heart warming story about best friends enjoying childhood.

It just seemed fitting that I stumbled upon this old book that focuses on innocent adventures in a simpler time. I often wonder why balancing 2 young children with a full time career and life in general can get so complicated. It's been done since the beginning of time, and women used to have a lot more than 2 children. I think it's all in my approach and my own expectations, really. It's about realizing what is important, what is realistic, what is worth stressing over. At the end of the day, the boys just want love and attention. They don't care much if the laundry is piling up, or if the crumbs under the kitchen table could feed an army of mice. Their needs are simple, and that feels nice.
My goal for the new year is to keep things simple and enjoy the sweet moments with my family. This book reminded me of that.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Starting the New Year Right

Every January 1st, we all gather at my parent's house for New Year's Day Dinner. The little ones run wild and barely eat because they are so excited to play. But the adults completely enjoy a delicious dinner prepared by Mama Lucy.
We feasted on a lasagna, roast loin of pork, ribs, mashed potatoes and various vegetables. For dessert, Mama Lucy's fun side came out with these adorable cupcakes from a recent What's Cooking magazine (from Kraft Kitchens). Jello is poured over the cupcakes, then they are topped with cool whip and sprinkles.
Some of us so-called grown ups seemed more interested than the kids. We also had no-bake cheesecake which is one of my absolute favorite desserts ever!

My sister brought over a traditional sweet bread from her Greek mother in law that was prepared especially for our family. The lower half of the large loaf has 2008 on it, while the upper half has a strip of dough signifying each one of my parents, my siblings and myself, our husbands, and all of our children. Inside is a coin and whoever receives the coin is pegged to have a year of good fortune. I was hoping to get the coin myself this year, but my husband got it instead, and I hope the good fortune will trickle over to me as well. The bread is so good, slightly sweet with sesame seeds and flaked almonds on the top.

At the end of the meal, we were helping to clean up in the kitchen when the roasted potatoes and carrots were discovered, or more accurately forgotten, in the oven! Lucy was not happy, but she sent quite a generous portion home with each of us.

We spent our first dinner of the year enjoying great food & family. We're off to a fantastic start.