Monday, December 27, 2010


As it's been some time, I might as well try to explain myself (aka make excuses) for my neglectful posting. I was preparing for the holidays which always seems to get me all flustered. Cleaning, shopping, mailing cards and making foods and gifts sure does take time!

First, there was the baking of cookies and the business of making candies. The cookies this year were scaled back a bit. I made some vegan sugar cookies, vegan chocolate chippers and these Vegan Caramel Pecan Bars which were very good and very sweet. One of these is enough to satisfy the biggest sweet tooth! They were also the easiest to make.

I tried my hand at some candies. First I made some yummy Rock Candy or Glass Candy.

It seems to go by both names. I used vegan granulated sugar and the only other ingredients are water, corn syrup, food coloring and flavoring oil. I made red cinnamon flavor and green spearmint flavor. I remember this candy fondly from my childhood; my grandmother always had it during the holidays. I thought she made it herself but my mom thinks she bought it from someone every year. Either way, it was relatively easy to make and yummy and I now have some very fresh breath.

The vegan gumdrops...not so happy an ending here. There was a recipe for gumdrops in a recent Better Homes and Gardens mag that seemed pretty close to vegan. I tried to make the coconut flavored gumdrops but my vegan fruit pectin I bought at Whole Foods came packaged a bit differently from the pectin the recipe was intended for and alas, I don't think I used enough pectin. It turned out like coconut flavored jam which really is sort of a weird thing. I ended up throwing it away but have lots of toasted coconut sugar on hand (which is what you roll the gumdrops in after they firm up and you cut them into little squares). I will let you know what I use it for...unless anyone out there has some suggestions? Seriously, I would love some.

There was some knitting. Three Interchangeable Hats (aka Poppy) for three lovely nieces.
Last year, I made one for one niece as I had her name in the big gift exchange we do for all the children in Nature Boy's family. Apparently, her sister has been stealing said hat and stretching it out. Since Nature Boy and I had the other two remaining nieces for the exchange, I went ahead and made three to cover all the nieces. Don't worry, they don't just get a knitted hat for the gift exchange, they get some cool presents too, these are just in addition to...

I also managed to knit up a sweater for a certain wee one who will be arriving in Hawaii close to the time Wee Too shows up here!
The pattern is the same as the sweater I made for Wee Too recently. I also knit up a Greenleaf hat to match.
After the baby shower, as I was driving home, it struck me a babe in Hawaii may not require sweaters and hats. I guess it's the thought, right?

Finally I made up some earrings and a ring out of some vintage buttons for my mom and one of my sisters. I also began another project but alas, it was not finished in time. I will detail more on this one another day.

Lastly, on my recent birthday, I think I got a strong message from the universe I am still trying to sort out. I was given a card with owls on it from Nature Boy in the morning. A package arrived from my sister with a birthday gift that was wrapped in owl paper she had made. At the night's end, as we were sitting on el coucho, Nature Boy tapped my hand and spoke softly to me that there was an owl outside on the pole. As I looked, I couldn't believe my eyes. There was a small Eastern Screech Owl sitting ON OUR PORCH!!! IN THE MIDDLE OF PITTSBURGH!!! Looking right in the window at us!
We watched the owl for an hour at least, then finally had to head to bed. The owl did not leave but when I awoke at 3AM as usual, I came down and looked and the owl was gone. I have heard owls outside as a girl but have never seen one outside in the wild. It was truly an amazing birthday, one I will never forget!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday (whatever you choose to call it or however you celebrate it). Peace, love and joy to everyone out there!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Holiday Cheer

So I finally finished my holiday project--

These were the rules (self-imposed, of course):

  • It had to be el cheapo. They turned out free, my favorite price.
  • It had to be something to hang in the dining room windows which are normally quite barren.
  • It had to be quick. Something one could finish during naptime.
So under those parameters, I think they turned out fairly well. I was looking for wreath ideas when I stumbled across this little cutie by Laurie Cinotto and decided I could use the idea to make some window hangings. I collected the larger branches for the frame, pine cones and pine needles while we were walking in the park; the smaller sticks were found around the estate grounds and on walks in the neighborhood (aka city streets and alleys). I used some scrap fabric to make the deer and birds and stuffed them with some stuffing I had on hand. I used some surplus ribbon from holidays past for the hangers, along with some thin wire. Thick floral wire was used to tie the larger pieces together for the frame, as in the inspiration piece.

I hand-sewed the deer and birds together using a blanket stitch and this took the longest of all. I'm thinking it would look just as cute to use deer and birds or other animlas cut out of pretty paper or even out of a photo (kind of like THIS, another source of inspiration). Now I almost wish I would have made a sasquatch for one of the hangings, how fantastically fun would that have been?

Maybe they aren't the most modern, most neat, most sparkly holiday decorations out there but I really do like their simplicity. It fits our home, our lives, our year.

I also made some trees from this tutorial from The Small Object with scrap fabrics and although they look a bit wind-blown (ahem, crooked) they were fun and easy to make. I'm not sure where they will end up in the estate, maybe the kitchen and bathroom which seem to feel a bit neglected right now.

So maybe now I will get back to knitting...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

December already?

Wow these last few months have really been going by quickly! With the first snow of the season today, it is really beginning to feel like the holidays are on their way. I've been working on a project to decorate the estate this week and will post some pics and information when they are finished. I need to let some sticks (that's right, sticks!) we found today on our walk dry out before adding them on to the project.

I started and frogged a sweater for Wee One, then refigured the pattern using my actual gauge as I did not use the same yarn as the pattern was written for and my fibre is much thinner. Keep your fingers crossed here! I've only cast on and knit about three rows. I've been slacking in this arena. How surprising, right?

I am still trying to figure out some gift ideas. One great resource has been the November blog entries over at Sew Mama Sew. Great links to tutorials for all sorts of gifts! Sewn gifts, that is. Go check it out if you need some inspiration.

Happy start of Hanukkah to those out there who celebrate this holiday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mama's Got a Brand New...

That's right, I was able to sew up this little number in a few days' time (which for me is quite the feat). I used some fabric I found on deep discount this summer at Ikea and at the time, thought I would make a purse or apron with it. If any of you out there know me, you know there really isn't much point in my wearing an apron when I cook or bake. This is due to two things:

  1. My clothes are already quite nicely stained, in general.
  2. I am very klutzy and this also accounts for point number 1. I imagine an apron would not fully prevent stains, unless it was made of some sort of silicone-treated fabric that formed a tent over my entire body.

So, purse it was. My current homemade bag had taken a beating of late, enough so that I finally managed to drag out the sewing machine, take a big gulp, and jump in (yeah, that's right, I am still a little afraid of my sewing machine. But don't tell her that). I used THIS TUTORIAL for most of the construction, but strayed in a few areas. First, I decided if this was to be my giant bag for everyday use, it would need pockets. I made a pocket for each side of the bag and instead of pleating the lining of the bag as the tute author had done, made the lining plain. I pleated the outer pieces first, then traced around them to cut the lining pieces. I also did not use interfacing. Lastly, I changed the straps. The author used leather straps which for me as a vegan was not something I was interested in doing. I thought about finding an old bag in my closet with fake leather straps or finding one at a thrift store to use but then I realized it would not do. I need a bag I can sling over my body, like a messenger bag. This gives me two free hands with which to knit or more likely these days, wrangle a feisty toddler away from certain mayhem. The straps would need to be much longer than regular purse straps I might find out there. So I made two uber-long straps for my bag with the outer and lining fabrics, which also meant no further cash was spent.

I finished it today and really liked it, until I put it on and looks just like a diaper bag. Oh my. Which I guess it will be, in part, anyhow. Most of the things that go in my bag are toddler-related sundries and soon, there will be baby-related sundries in there too. I also realized I don't like how most of my coats look with it, so now I really really want to find an nice thrift store non-wool gray coat to work it. Preferably one that can accomodate a rather large belly as well. Sounds like a nice challenge, eh?

I will say this; the tutorial was really easy to follow and well-written. This is the most well-constructed sewing project I have completed to date and it gives me hope that I am in fact improving in this area. Hooray for progress!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Real Life

Time is just flying by here for us all. I can't believe it's already mid-November. I suppose I should catch you up a bit...

Halloween was spent out of town with family but of course, Trick or Treating still carried on! Wee One was quite the little trooper and we made it to five homes before he simply needed to be freed from the pierogie costume.

The first sweater for Wee Two was started and finished. Well, almost finished. I'm still considering making and sewing on a toadstool applique on the side; we'll see.

I also began to sew a new handbag for myself and will show the results if and when it is completed. I have more sewing projects in line after this too and hope I can stay on track with it all.

That is some of what is going on. Today is sort of a restful break, we are all feeling a bit under the weather and just need some down time. We had a lovely week of beautiful warm fall weather, meaning lots of walks and trips to the park and time to explore the city outdoors. Perhaps we overextended ourselves but I would venture it was worth it.

Today we also got our first peek at Wee Two (ultrasound). Not sure how to put it into words, except to say how real things are. Life is very real today.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Big Reveal

Yes, it is finished...
...but not everyone is happy about it!

If you aren't sure what Wee One is, he is a pierogi! I had to make a few modifications to the costume today. First, this morning when we tried it on after breakfast, the bottom was too tight and would not quite fit over his shoulders. I ripped out the seam on the left side from below the arm to the leg, then hand-sewed some snaps (or pressers) on so it could be opened to ease over his body, then could be snapped shut. Alas, the snaps did not stay closed when we tried it on (he really, really is not happy about it). This afternoon, I removed the snaps with my trusty seam ripper and hand-sewed some very plain, thin off-white ribbon inside the pierogi layers to tie the front and back shut on the open left side. So far, these have held!

Designing it and making the pattern was the most difficult part; the assembly (aside from all the modifications today) went very well and did not take as long as I had thought it might. It also cost me nothing as I simply used the ton of leftover felt I had from making the little stuffed pierogi magnets this summer. I had to also restrain myself from hand embroidering "Lil' Dumplin'" across the butt.

I figure if we can get him in and keep him in the costume long enough to visit a few neighbors and snap a few pics, we will have been sucessful. I would like to walk in a festive Halloween parade with him but I don't know if he will have the strength. Nor I!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Proclamation Throughout the Land...


I finished Wee One's Halloween costume an hour or so ago but have to wait until the morrow to try it on him as alas, he is dreaming away at present. I just wanted to say I finished it! I also really, really hope it fits! I will surely let you know the verdict...

Also today, I:
-cut my hair myself (which I do at the full moon to keep it growing well)
-picked up my free 8 x 10 photo collage from Walgreen's
-went out to lunch with the Wee and Nature Boy, then grocery shopping
-found these super-cute Halloween ideas!

cute Halloween luminaries from Project Naptime (using used tissue paper, old jars, old lights you have lying about)

these skeleton cupcakes are so creeptacular, I might have to veganize them...

seriously, why have I NOT made these leaf garlands out of newspaper yet?!?!

So much inspiration out there, so little time!

Friday, October 22, 2010


Wanted to let you know about a free deal at Walgreens. Good until 10/24, you can get an 8x10 photo collage free!

How you ask? Enter the coupon code 8x10TREAT and make sure to select you will pick up the collage at a store (you can pick from locations)--otherwise you'll get stuck with shipping.

So far, I've gotten two free collages and a free photo magnet and we love them all! It's really easy, you upload photos from your computer and select from the options. They usually do this around holidays or change in seasons (summer, Mother's and Father's Day, Halloween). I can usually order them in the morning and they are ready in the afternoon, very fast!

CLICK HERE for more details and the link (thanks, Be Centsable!).

While you are in there, check out these other things you can score for free (provided you have the coupons).

Speaking of deals, I scored this cute little dress for $9.95 at last night!
I can't wait for it to get here so I can try it on. I think the bodice, being shirred, will work during pregnancy and nursing, then afterward when things, um, shrink back to normal size again. I'm tempted to try dyeing it so I can wear it spring, summer and fall. Any ideas on colors, methods, dyes to use? It is 100% cotton.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Finally, finally, I finished the Garter Stitch Kimono Sweater from Compassionate Craft Week!

I was doing well but some health issues sidelined me on the last two days of the week. Wee One and I both got some colds and there was a lot of discomfort at nighttime, meaning lots of sleep intertuptus. Once I missed the deadline I sort of got lazy about it and then just knit when I could between everything else, rather than put things on the back burner so I could knit.

All in all, it was a great experience and I will do it again next year. I hope to package up the sweater, booties and hat and mail them out to One Heart, One Mind tomorrow.

A new recipe was also tried! My Vegan Cookbook has some intriguing stuff on there but nothing made me as curious (and hungry) as the Smokey Cheddar Cheeze Ball. Made with firm tofu, cashews, almonds and spices, I was curious as to how it would compare to the memory of the dairy-heavy original. I also thought it might be the perfect fall snack in the evening with friends around the table, or even an appetizer for Thanksgiving or the holidays. So I finally whipped it up this past Sunday, during the triumphant return of Big Ben Roethlisberger to his Pittsburgh Steelers in a lovely grudge match with our neighbors, the Cleveland Browns. Ok, I mixed up everything that morning but you have to refrigerate it for at least 5 hours before it's firm enough to make it into a ball. At halftime, I managed to first run upstairs for a bathroom break, then we hit the "concession area" (aka kitchen) where I formed the cheeze ball and rolled it in the paprika and almonds. I admit, I was in a bit of a rush as to not miss any of the game so I did not have much luck getting the almonds to coat the cheeze ball as fully as you might like.

I then snapped a pic for you and posterity, and dug in. I am just going to say it: MAKE THIS. Make it now. You will not be disappointed, it is delicious! Nature Boy, a strict carnivore, tried it, then ate three more crackers spread with this stuff! Unheard of! Oh and the spread, the spread. It is so velvety and glides over your cracker, I was amazed. I did use hickory-flavored liquid smoke but that was the only substitution I made on this one. It does make a lot, which in my case was welcome, but I think the next time I make it will be when company calls. It will most likely grace whatever table I'm at for Thanksgiving.

We have been having so much fun, from RAD Days at the Pittsburgh Zoo... hitting the Punkin' Patch!
Now to get working on a Wee Halloween Costume...oh my...

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Progress Post

Another quick update on my Compassionate Craft Week Progress...

Monday: Booties finished and sewn up, sweater cast on and started!

Tuesday: Sweater continues to before buttonholes.

Wednesday: Sweater continues to before neckline decreases.

The sweater is this pattern here that I made for Wee One, the Garter Stitch Kimono sweater. It seems to take forever because it's garter stitch and you knit it in one piece from the bottom up so you are knitting back and front pieces at once. Plus, since it wraps around the Wee you are sweatering, you are knitting much more area for the right and left fronts than a normal sweater would require. I loved the end result of the one I made Wee, but this probably isn't the best choice for a sweater I now have only two days to finish. I am hopeful though and will be faithfully working on it until Friday at 12AM (or until I collapse into bed, whichever comes first).

So tune in folks to see how this one finishes up!!!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Weekend Update

So I know you are all out there wondering, how is Ms. Knitsburgh doing amidst Compassionate Craft Week? Is she triumphing over time and yarn? Is she sinking amongst a sea of unfinished chores and projects?

Here is my daily progress:

Day One (Friday): Owlie Hat knit to decrease rounds.

Day Two (Saturday): Owlie hat finished, bootie knit to double needle bind-off.

Day Three (Sunday): Baby Bootie #1 sewn together and some ends woven in; Baby Bootie #2 knit up to the decrease rounds for the sole; Owlie Hat ends woven in.

The Estate is not looking its best, but every night after Wee One goes to sleep I knit and knit and knit until I can take it no longer and go to bed. I am feeling good about what I've completed so far and am excited to start my next project later this evening, a sweater. I have to say I almost feel guilty if I have a moment to do something and I'm not knitting, so even blogging is making me feel bad right now. I took some time yesterday morning to update my Coupon Notebook and my coupon organizer and then felt guilty about that "wasted" hour or so. Making things for someone who needs them seems to really motivate you, which is fantastic.

I hope to finish a sweater and matching hat by week's end. If I finish before the 8th, I will try to make something else, maybe some more hats.

I am very sad to report we have run out of ink for the printer at the estate, which is making me lean towards a baby sweater pattern I already have on hand versus a new exciting pattern I've not yet knit. The likelihood of me securing more printer ink before this evening is not looking good, so once the "second string" pattern is selected, I'll let everyone know.

Last week before Compassionate Craft Week started I made two apple pies. I froze one before baking it so we have one ready for company; we ate the other with lots of vegan vanilla So Delicious ice cream on it, it was really yummy.

We also took in the RAD sponsored Hay Day this weekend (yes, another awesome free event) at a local park and had a blast!

Hope your weekend was fun too!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Dahlia Field

Green Man
Up late baking some yummy autumnal goodness so I thought I'd quickly post about our day. The Wee One and I went to Phipp's Conservatory for FREE!!! That's right, for FREE.

We had a great time and I wanted to let everyone in the Pittsburgh area know how many great things are scheduled to take place and they are all free! Go HERE for the calendar and information on the RAD program. One of the best things about living here, at least in my humble oppinion, is all of the great cultural, artistic and historic opportunities we have within our reach (oh, and also the Penguins and Steelers of course). This is a way to check out some really great things--the Carnegie museums, the National Aviary, Pittsburgh Filmmakers screenings, dance troupes, opera, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Andy Warhol Museum, to name just a few offerings. These totally free events run through October 24th so there is probably an event and date that would work for anyone. I'll see you out there in the city!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Out of the Woods...

We are fresh back from camping in our favorite place for Nature Boy's Annual Birthday Camptacular. What fun we had! A full orange giant harvest moon. A roaring campfire with vegan s'mores. A tiny Wee camper who roamed the camp site and even hiked a bit in the forest on his own two little legs.

I will now reveal, with much fanfare, the Worthy Cause my Compassionate Craft Week efforts will be going to....

Pathways to Spirit's One Heart One Mind Program! You can read about this project HERE.

I had originally looked at a local domestic violence shelter for my Worthy Cause but upon reading their information online, it appears they really prefer new clothing items and I was not sure how happy a woman or child would be to receive a handmade sweater, nor did I feel I could finish one quickly. I decided maybe I should look at other programs but still felt strongly I wanted to do something to somehow empower women.

I scoured the net looking for projects and One Heart One Mind just called to me. I used to live in Colorado and this program operates from there. I feel these young girls who live on a reservation need to know that someone cares and feels sorry for what our ancestors did to their ancestors. I emailed Pathways to Spirit about my interest and got a response right away, letting me know they appreciate any items for the mothers and children but they really are in need of items for the newborns. They thanked me for my interest and also said I could feel free to spread the word about this program, so I'm giving them a bit of a plug here.

I'm really excited to plan out my little projects and see how many of them I can accomplish in a week! Friday, October 1st is the official start date so I will post here and on Ravelry to update on my progress. Wish me luck!

Is anyone out there participating in Compassionate Craft Week? What items have you made for charity in the past? What groups have you made things for?