Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nesting - The Knitting of "YOUR" nest

If I were a bird, I'd sing a song
and fly about the whole day long~~~

And when night comes, I'd go to rest
up in my cozy little nest.

Spring is here and all around us, little birds are setting about the task of building their nests. They gather sticks, and moss, and grasses and~~~ yarn.

Birds build nests, secret and deep
in holes in old trees,
and banks that are steep.
(Yvonne Winer)

As promised - the nest building (knitting) has begun! All the little birdies who placed orders will soon be rewarded with a cozy little nest.

Nests will soon be delivered to the states of
Virginia, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, Arizona,
Oregon, Kansas, North Carolina,
New York, and Georgia.

Nests will also be delivered
to the countries of
Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada,
Denmark, and Israel.

If you placed an order for a little bird nest
and your state or country was not listed above,
please contact me via email!
My email address is listed at the top
of my sidebar.

More than 60 yarns have been gathered from my stash
for the making of these bird nests.
Browns, and tans and blues, and greens.
Eyelash, furry, angora, mohair,
tangled, knotted,

Each little nest will contain between 25-30
different yarns in a variety of
styles and colors.

My goal (cross your fingers!)
is to have all the nests
delivered by
late May.

Can you keep a little secret?
(5 little nests will soon be delivered
to their new homes!)

What about little fall and winter birdies?
Don't they need little nests?
Of course they do!

Anyone who is interested
in ordering a little knitted nest
may contact me via email.

The next little round of "bird nest knitting"
will begin in August.
This little birdie
will knit for about 6 weeks
to fill those orders.

(No yarns were harmed
in the making of these
photographs! )

How About a Little Spring Give Away?
This sweet little Vera Bradley EMMA bag
in the beautiful spring design called
"Sittin in a Tree"
will be given away
on April 30.
Here is how you can win--
Just leave a comment on this posting
anytime between now and April 30.
You can enter as often as you want!
(Really - you can!)
Every time you enter,
I will put your name in a basket.
If you are a follower, please tell me so
the first time that you comment.
Followers will receive an extra entry.
If you wish to post about this give away
on your blog
please do so and leave me a comment about that also.
You will earn 2 extra entries for that favor!
All of my followers who leave comments,
will also be entered in a
special contest to win this
little clutch purse!
(the contests are open to everyone
no matter where you live)
Let's Celebrate Spring!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Picture Stories

For those of you who know me and visit me from time to time, you have probably noticed that my blog has had a little makeover~~~

I would like to thank my new and dear friend Karen for her patient and dedicated assistance in the making of this new blog design for me. Karen was so wonderful to work with, she listened to my desires and she worked so very hard to make this the blog of my dreams. Thank you dearest Karen for all that you have done for me.
In the making of my new header, I needed to choose 10 pictures. ONLY 10 - how could I choose? I spent hours and hours and hours going through my picture files, because I wanted the pictures in the header to represent the person that I am; my love for travel, my creations, my passions, and the things that mean the most to me.
Now that the decisions have been made (whew - that was so hard!) - I wanted to share with you the stories behind the pictures that I choose. In doing so, perhaps you will get to know me a little better~~~~

This photo was taken in Venice, Italy on what was one of the most memorable trips of my life. My husband and I are standing in front of the famous Bridge of Sighs. Venice is the most favorite city of my travels. Our days there were filled with the most picturesque discoveries.
Here is an excerpt from my travel journal dated September 21, 2007
" Venice fills your senses with all that it has to offer - the canals, the people, the churches, there is so much history here. St. Marks square with the bell tower and the cathedral--- and the pigeons! With a single startle or cough, literally thousands of pigeons will take flight - it is an amazing sight.
The sounds of Venice, the bells, I will remember their chimes forever. They resonate throughout the city and there are hundreds of church bells that we hear every day. The streets, really just narrow alleyways - all lead to a canal eventually.
We have been lost in Venice now for many days and we have treasured every minute of this journey. This I know to be so true - when you leave Venice, you take a part of it with you forever - because it fills your soul."

Well, you all recognize this little picture I am sure. The beginnings of the little cabled blanket that I toiled over for such a long time. My journey through the creation of this little treasure was made even more special because so many of you helped me to make a choice as to how to decorate it for "little baby no name." This little baby blanket will always be one of my most treasured creations.

Here we have the "Sacred Yarn Room". This is the place of my creations and sometimes - my naps. Often this room is a holy mess, but it is still my very special place. Even though it may appear disorganized - rest assured that I know where every skein of yarn, every bit of lace, every little button and every little applique is safely tucked away. This room is mine - all mine!

This picture was taken on the beach in Cape May, New Jersey two summers ago. Here I am sitting on the beach showing off the "Cape May diamonds" that I have just found. Really, just an ordinary picture, I know - but it represents such a very special time and travels that we spent with our dearest friends, Bob and Jan.
Cape May was a beautiful little place - we visited in the fall and all the lovely homes were decorated with colorful fall flowers. We spend so much time just strolling around and just genuinely enjoying the time that we spent with our friends.
I think that he will allow me to share this - our dear friend Bob is a cancer survivor. He has been through Hell and back in his journey for survival. Through his experiences, (and my own in just being his dear, dear friend), I have come to realize that it is the little things in life that are the most precious. Like time spent with friends. This trip was a memorable and treasured time in my life.

Just a bowl of flea market junk - right? Oh no!!! This is the beginnings of what will be my next storybook blanket. Carefully chosen on last years visit to the Springfield flea market with my dear flea market buddies, Hubert and Kim. We LOVE to go junkin' - we think about it and talk about it all the time (at work). The countdown has already begun for our much anticipated trip this May.
This picture represents the part of me that loves all things old, and used and tarnished and worn. Oh -the stories that my flea market treasures could tell. These are the source of my inspirations and my creations. This passion was past on to me from my Mother - my parents home was a virtual flea market! Believe me, I know - because after they both passed away, my sisters and I spent 2 years cleaning their home out! We found treasures that had not seen the light of day for years!

Cinque Terre, Italy. Just seeing this picture again, and remembering my being there - makes me emotional.
For many years, there was a picture of the Cinque Terre region of Italy, hanging over the computer in my Sacred Yarn Room. The picture had been torn out of a travel magazine, and I had sort of always said -"You know, I would really love to go there."
The magazine picture was actually taken from the vantage point where I am standing in the above picture. Seeing that picture torn from the magazine, I was mesmerized by the colorful houses and by that fact that they were set into the cliffs beside the sea. I really did want to go there. I longed to go there - so much, that for me it became a dream that I was afraid could not be fulfilled.
When we traveled to the Mediterranean on a cruise in 2007, one of our stops was in Livorno, Italy. From this port, most people travel to the beautiful city of Florence - but we didn't. We had prearranged for a private driver to take us to Cinque Terre, about a 3 hour drive from our port of call. Here is an excerpt from my travel journal dated October 5, 2007---
"this picturesque Cinque Terre region is made up of 5 very small villages that are built into the steep cliffs that lie along the mountainous coastal area of Italy. This entire region is a Unesco World Heritage protected site and is one of the most beautiful areas in all the world. There are no cars in this little place, as there are no roads. To traverse between the villages you must either travel by train or by foot. The trains travel through tunnels built into the mountains and the foot paths lie along the coast line and are only for those who are adventurous - of course we choose to walk!
Our journey began in the town of Riomaggiore which is like a watercolor painting that has come to life. The sun washed colors of the houses, in their shades of pinks, and blues, and yellows and greens - they typify the character and flavor of this entire region. The coral colored tiled roofs, terraced among the cliffs, this area has remained unchanged for centuries. The people here lead a simple life - they make their living from the land or the sea. Evidence that this was a fishing village was all around us - the brightly colored boats and white washed fishing nets - these were as much a part of the beautiful scenery as were the palette of colorful houses.
And we journeyed on through the five villages---
Just a short distance from Mannarola, I turned and looked back upon that little village as it lay nestled between the cliffs. When I realized that this was the picture that I had been keeping close to my heart for such a long time, I had a minor little melt down - (ok - a major melt down!) Dan took that picture again - the one in my dreams - with one little difference - this time I am in the picture.
My tears were for many reasons, but mainly because I realized how lucky that I am to have the opportunity to be able to live out my dreams, and to see this long cherished dream come true. This was a special moment for me - the best in the entire trip - and I will never, ever forget how I felt in that moment of time. Sometimes, dreams really do come true.
post script - that's me in the picture after my really, really big cry!

This picture of beautiful straw flowers is special to me because the flowers are housed in a pot that is nestled into an antique chair that belonged to my mother. This chair sat outside at their winter Florida home - it is rusty and worn - and to me it is priceless. Every summer I plant flowers and sit the pot inside this rusty chair. Always, always, I am rewarded with beautiful flowers and memories.

These little knitted birds nests have become a special part of me. (In fact I am going to be knitting these for the next SEVERAL weeks!) I cannot even say for sure how they came to be - I do not have a pattern, did not even see one that I tried to recreate - I just thought one day- I would like to try to knit a birds nest. The rest, as they say, is history---

These buttons belonged to my Mother. Because of her passion for collecting buttons, I now have more buttons than any one person could ever use in 12 lifetimes~~~ and I love them all. They are used in my creations, and in displays throughout the Sacred Yarn Room. They are beautiful and precious.

And this is my Maddy girl - I love her more than my breath~~~
There is one more picture to describe - that of the pretty pink sweet peas at the top of this posting. That picture did not make the cut of the elite 10 for the header. No particular reason other than - I could only pick 10. I love this picture of my Mother's sweet peas.
My Mother always nurtured a huge patch of these in her flower bed - their blooms every spring were magnificent. She always told me that her plants came from the garden of her grandmother and that those plants came from her grandmother's mother. Sweet pea lineage. Before my Mother passed away she told me, "be sure to take the sweet peas before you sell this house." And I did - and they bloom every spring in my flower bed at the back of my house. The tradition continues.
So now you know the reasons behind my picture choices and the stories that they tell about me. But isn't that what pictures do?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jalapeno Potato Soup

This potato soup totally rocks! We enjoyed this delightful soup while we were on our 2 week Caribbean cruise. This was hands down one of our most favorite meals on the cruise ship and this recipe is straight from the Chef~~~

2 1/2 lbs Potatoes (about 5 potatoes) peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp Margarine
1/2 cup Chopped Onion
4 cups Chicken Broth (99% fat free)
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
2 Tbsp Chopped Jalapeno Peppers
2 cups Evaporated Milk (nonfat)
1 1/2 Tbsp Salt
2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
pinch of Baking Soda

Melt the margarine in large pot and saute chopped onions on medium heat. Once the onions have turned clear, add the potatoes, chicken broth, and cumin. Stir and bring to a boil. Then cover, reduce heat to medium, and allow the potatoes to cook until they soften enough to eat (about 20 minutes). After the potatoes have cooked, remove the pot from the heat and add the chopped jalapenos, a pinch of baking soda, and the evaporated milk.

Mash the potatoes with a potato masher (or a large fork if you don't have a potato masher) while they're still in the pot.
Stir thoroughly and add the salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often.
2 Tbsp of canned jalapenos is spicy, so adjust more or less to your taste. I preferred to use fresh jalapenos and ended up adding 2 small peppers. Obviously, it will depend upon how spicy hot the peppers are - so add a little and increase as needed until you get it to suit your taste. The soup should have just a little bite to it.
After adding the jalapenos and simmering for a few minutes, I placed a small amount of the soup in a blender and pureed it, then added it back to the soup. This seemed to produce a nice creamy but thick soup - very similar to what we had on the cruise ship.
Add some fresh crusty bread (I made some in my bread machine) - and you are all set! If you make this soup, please come back here and leave a comment. I would love to know your thoughts on what we all thought was a fabulous soup!

Some updates from me~~~~
I am working on the baby shower pictures and can't wait to show them to you - (but I know you don't want to see them all!) - so soon I will be ready to share those with you.
After that I will be sharing our Caribbean vacation pictures with you - am still working on those also.
Coming up VERY soon - pictures of that little blue cabled baby blanket - wait till you see what I did with that (thanks to all the wonderful suggestions from my new friends!)
AND be sure to be here on April 1 for a fun little posting (hint - think beautiful spring flowers and LOTS and LOTS of yarn!)
AND because SPRING is finally here - we will be celebrating with a lovely little give away - something very "springlike" from Vera Bradley! So be sure to stop by here on April 1!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Knitted Storybook Blanket

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in a garden where a magical flower tree grew~~~

Every time a new flower bloomed it would play a little melody, filling the air with songs and beautiful music.

Even the little birds joined in so that the little girl could listen to a beautiful chorus.

The woodland creatures all came to listen and the little bunnies sat so very, very still beneath the tree - they were listening to the beautiful songs.

Whenever the little girl would leave the garden, she carried with her a little song in her heart. This always made her very happy and she knew that she was loved. The End.

Finally, I am able to show you the little Storybook Blanket that I made for "Little Baby No Name." I knitted on this blanket for 3 months - it seemed to take forever to finish knitting this project. The knitting was not hard, but the entire blanket was knitted in rib stitch (K1P1) and that takes twice as long to knit as regular stockinette! I seemed to be going nowhere - fast!

The blanket is comprised of 5 panels, sewn together after they are knitted. Each panel consists of 6 blocks that are knitted into the panel. (This is a big blanket!) The yarns that I used were a combination of several variegated cotton sock yarns (Yes - sock yarns!) mixed with a solid color cotton yarn. There were 5 solid colors that were mixed and matched. I also used an acrylic carrier thread that I mixed with the sock yarns and cotton yarns - so that actually I used 3 strands at one time all through the blanket. I mixed and matched the variety of combinations constantly to give this blanket a marled effect.

After the blanket was sewn together, I began to create the story. Honestly, I did not have a definite plan - it just began to evolve as I was working on this~~~

The little flowers are made from vintage fabric yo-yos that I purchased at the flea market. Using these little creations, that some little lady had painstakingly made by hand, (such tiny little stitches!) was such a joy for me. On top of each yo-yo flower, I attached a pink ribbon rose.

The leaves are crochet from two different colors of green cotton. (I purchased the leaves and little animal adornments for the blanket.) The butterflies, the dragonfly, and the little turtle (gotta have a turtle!) are also crochet.

The bunnies and birds are little felt appliques. When I sewed everything to the blanket, I gently padded each and every leaf, bird, animal, and flower with a tiny bit of scrap yarn - just enough to give it a little extra definition.

The vine is made of a variegated ribbon yarn. When I started unrolling the ribbon yarn so that I could lay it on the blanket, within minutes it seemed to get into a HUGE wad! That took me about 2 hours to untangle! (How does this happen!!!)

The yo-yos were also already attached somewhat together, and I had to gently (very gently!) take them apart from their blocks so that I could use them. (Oh yea, this was time consuming also!)

Maddy girl, LOVED the blanket! She made the cutest little oohs and ahhs when I showed it to her. She had to touch all the little flowers and birds - it was priceless.

The vine was created at random, just however the yarn wanted to lay. After I sewed the vine on, I also tied little tiny strips of the ribbon yarn to the vine at intervals - so that it would look like it had more leaves. I just left these little bits to dangle however they fell.

This was not a lap project! I had to lay it all out on a table in the Sacred Yarn Room and stand the entire time that I sewed everything on the blanket.

The little doll was knitted also (!!!) and I made her little pouch from a baby sweater that I found at the flea market (for a quarter!). I felted the sweater and then cut the side of the sweater to use as the pouch. I love that I left the little buttons, and the neck edging on the sweater when I attached it to the blanket. There are some little lambs on the bottom of the sweater edge - my favorite part!

Total sewing on time - about 18 hours! Three very long nights!

(and lots of Motrin---). My fingers had little permanent indentions in them from all the sewing. I hate thimbles - but maybe I should have rethought that one!

The little story just came into my mind as I was sewing the decorations on the blanket. I wrote the story on a little note and pinned it to the blanket when it was displayed at the baby shower.

"Little Baby No Name" will hear lots of stories from her gb - but I am hoping that this will be her favorite.