December 26, 2009

Etsy Favorites

As I mentioned last week, my Etsy shop is now up and running and hubs smartly reminded me that I should put a permanent link to it here (look right. Well, "right" right now. Later, when I've written more posts and this one moves down the line, "right" will actually be "on the right side of the page just under the banner." So I guess you should just look under the banner). I thought I would highlight some of my favorite items that I really want someone to buy and love. But if no one does so, I'll just love them myself.

TIIIINY sweater. Made from rough sock wool, this is the kind of thing wardrobe dresses actors in whenever they make one of those charming big-city-folks-go-to-the-midwest-waistland-and-hilarity-ensues movies. SO WHAT IF WE SAY "oh, yah" SOMETIMES? You know what the worst irony is? That someone from MN simply can't say "Minnesota" without sounding irrefutably Minnesotan.

It's a strange thing; I almost never wear bracelets, but I really like making them. I think this one would look good on anyone.

I got this idea from someone at a recent craft show. So, yeah, I stole it. But mine look very different and mostly I just wanted to see if I could successfully felt a sweater and cut it up for pins. Turns out I can.

This is the most symmetrical dreamcatcher I've made and I really like the colors. Plus, I like that most of the beads on it are some sort of Brasilian seed. So maybe my dreamcatchers stray from tradition, but the modernist part of me likes meshing cultures because it's kind of symbolic and the postmodernist part of me just doesn't care.

I tell myself that every artist has to draw 100 really bad things for every one that turns out great and that we just don't know it because you only ever see the good stuff. My best stuff is by no means good in any technical way, but I like to think they are whimsical or cute or quirky or at least they don't make your eyes bleed.


December 22, 2009

All-Bernard Christmas Disco Extravaganza!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

I don't know what happened to Penny's mouth.

December 21, 2009

Cozy and Soft and Secret

Can't say what it is, or who it's for, but here's a sneak peak before the finally assembly....

Mmmmmmm, snuggly.

December 20, 2009

One of these days, Alice.....

I will win a giveaway contest. Someday. This one is from Her Sunday Dress. Fun stuff!

December 18, 2009

KABLOW! The etsy shop is ready!

There are 54 items for sale in my etsy shop! Beaded jewelry, minipics, felted flower pins, knitted ornaments........and I'm willing to bargain on some stuff - especially shipping if I know you or we can meet for a hand-off.

Here it is:
Egret Effects on Etsy!

Merry holiday shopping to all!

December 17, 2009

TWO FOR ONE: fails post

Waaa waaahhhhhh.

I know this doesn't really LOOK like a fail (except for the unreasonably short tassels, but I'll probably fix those so LEAVE ME ALONE!), but, as you may or may not recall, it's the item I've been planning to donate to the Red Scarf Project - the deadline for which was December 15th. Well, it's December 17th and the box is sitting in the car all ready to ship. It's not in Sterling, VA. where it should be so it can be dispersed yet somewhere else in the country to a college kid who has exited the foster system. So, um, I guess this will donated next year.

Also, you may or may not recall, I've been working on some boots for Penny because she is small and fragile and at the same time very energetic. After many hours of knitting, cutting, sewing, and assembling here's what I got:

Times four, of course. And actually, this isn't the finished product - the finished ones are lined with burgundy felt, have a velcro closure, and have a leather pad on the bottom. So yesterday we put them to the test! Me in my coat, cowl, hat, mittens, and boots and Penny in her sweater (which, by the way, matches my hat, thank you very much) and her brand new snow shoes! Sure, she was weirded out at first, but the excitement of a walk totally overrode the misgivings as soon as we stepped outside.

But they aren't long enough! They kept falling off, so I was forced to stuff them in my pocket and move along. Sure enough, three short blocks later Penny pretty much shut down and refused to walk, so then I was the loser carrying a dog.

December 15, 2009

ETSY shop to open soon!

Wow, been a while (pronounce the "h"!).


My sister and I did the Dodge Nature Preschool Bazaar for the second year early this month. It was fun (which is as far away from last year's experience as you can get, what with the nervous breakdown and all) - but we didn't sell very much. I think most of the sellers were hoping to make more than they did - except for maybe Samantha, the 11-year-old girl at the table next to me. She was an amazing saleswoman and this was her first craft show and she was so so excited. Plus, she had made all kinds of cute things that pandered to the preschool market. Bookmarks and gift tags - not so much. Who's got the communications degree??


Anyways, some people encouraged me to start an etsy shop so I'm doing it. You can look at it, but there aren't any items posted yet. STAY TUNED.

November 24, 2009

Red Scarf WIP

This is a project I'm working on so a college student who has aged out of the foster care system will get a care package next Valentine's Day. If you want to do it, your scarf has to be in by December 15th, so get crackin!

Sorry, I don't know what's wrong with the photo, but you can click here.

November 17, 2009

When I vacation, I go to St. Louis

Sigh. No beach or cabana boys or 85 degree days. But drinks! Oh my, there were drinks. Hubs and I drove to St. Louis, MO for a wedding on the 14th and decided to make a long weekend of it with our pals, John and John. They were both in the wedding along with yet another John. We are so Catholic.

The four of us spent nine hours in the car together - both ways. Wow. Since we got there two full days before the wedding, we spent some time wandering the same streets that Nelly might have traveled in his youth, touring the Cardinals' Busch Stadium, bowling, finding out what St. Louis-style pizza is, tasting beer at the Budweiser brewery, and of course...

going to the top of the Gateway to the West arch. Amazingly, there is a whole museum underground, where I'm pretty sure you could survive nuclear holocaust. Riding to the top was probably my favorite part of our non-wedding activities. Five people (me, hubs, John, John, and the groom) climb into a tiny pod which jiggles its way up the inside of the arch with nothing more outside the miniscule door windows than a dim view of the bunker-like walls and winding stairs. Imagine Dr. Evil and Mr. Bigglesworth escaping earth in their pod within the Big Boy statue and you know what I'm taking about.

Two things St. Louis (link to map of interest) has in common with Minneapolis: it sometimes smells when you're near the river and they have an ADM mill. Things that are different: they have a park bigger than Central Park, they have Hobby Lobby, they have less traffic, and they have more historical buildings. But we have more lakes, parks, trees, paths, and general awesomeness. Just saying.

There is a handy system of highways between St. Paul and St. Louis, aptly named "The Avenue of the Saints." But because it was the original name of St. Paul, I'm going to start referring to it as Pig's Eye. So St. Louis and Pig's Eye have one major thing in common: THE STREETS MAKE NO SENSE. In Pig's Eye, we like to joke, it's because the town was put together by drunk Irishmen. I have no explanation for St. Louis, but at least they do have some cool street names.

As you can imagine, I did a lot of knitting during our 18 hours of driving, but I can't share because they are gifts. I can share this lovely photo. It's the very last picture from our vacation and it was taken near Hannibal, Iowa, in the parking lot of the Country Kitchen we stopped at for lunch.

November 6, 2009

Wristy-cuff; half-fail

I had a wee bit of this Patons Kroy Socks Stripes yarn in mulberry (which I don't think they carry anymore) left after making some tiny sweater/stocking ornaments and Penny's doggie boots (more on those later). This was supposed to be a little scarf for Penny to match the boots, but I ran out of yarn so it morphed into a wristy-cuff with a double button.

October 21, 2009


Seriously, check out this website for some awesome, time-wasting awesomeness.

October 20, 2009

"Grrrrrrr," and other things that happened in my house last week

Penny's bestie, Gretzky, stayed with us last week because his people, my sister and brother-in-law, were on vacation.

There was a lot of barking at the window. Squirrels, bunnies, leaves, mailmen. Who knows. Well, I know one day it was a squirrel who had perched on the little table on the porch, just about two feet in front of the dogs, who were apoplectic.

There was also a lot of prodding of the dogs, since we were trying to get both of them to sleep on the floor. The first night, I woke up multiple times to shoo Gretzky off the bed. What I didn't know (hubs told me the next day) was that Penny was on the bed for some amount of time because she's sneaky and bad and didn't wake us up. Poor Gretzky just wanted to be included. I'm extremely disappointed that they didn't snuggle in Penny's bed. Gretzky would just approach it slowly when Penny was in there and then just back away. Pansy.

They did have snuggly moments when laps were involved. More often, they wrassled and growled, tried to hump one another, and were generally instigators of mayhem. Penny tried to sit on Gretzky's face, and he didn't know whether to kick her in the butt or bite her legs. Hilarious.

UPCOMING PROJECT: knitted doggie boots. Stay tuned.

October 11, 2009

Well. I guess it's Fall.

And apparently it's also National Coming Out Day. So that's cool.

Hubs and I took down the garden today, so I thought I would share some last bits of garden delight before the snow flies. OH THAT'S RIGHT - it already did. Are we heading for another infamous Halloween storm? The 1991 Halloween debacle holds the record for the most snowfall in one storm in the state's recorded history (28 inches in Minneapolis; 37 inches in Duluth). Luckily, I chose to be the grim reaper that year. Wearing a cloak, I wasn't so cold that I couldn't still go trick-or-treating.

Aaaaanywho. This, once again, was our garden post-grass-tearing-up and planting/transplanting. Something I learned at this stage: it is WORTH IT to rent the ridiculously heavy and hard to operate sod ripper. Also, do not start your pole beans indoors - they will grow too fast and wrap their tendrils around each other, making it impossible to transplant them. Don't start carrots or herbs indoors, either, because their roots won't be big enough to transplant and you'll be forced to extract the clump of them from their little pot and put the very same clump directly into the ground, lest you try to separate them and thereby turn them all upside-down.

The easiest part of the season is when your little seedlings are becoming more substantial and you're all excited and all the hard work is done, you just have to water. This is the part when you go out there twice a day to see if you can maybe see a little bit of progress or maybe even a bud and it's very exciting because sometimes you actually can see progress! A watched garden, it turns out, does grow.

After a month or so, your hovering and hand-wringing pays off and you have peas! Hubs doesn't like peas, but he liked these ones. Your other plants are now budding and flowering and showing you what's to come. Suddenly, you realize that you should've planted more peas and carrots but fewer broccoli and absolutely no corn. Something else learned at this stage: tomato cages as sold in stores are totally insufficient - they should be about three feet taller and have more rings.

By the time the peas are done and dried out, the garden in is full splendor and the plans for canning begin. We were reading up on blanching and freezing and I can't believe all the stuff we learned in our first year. I started tallying our yields and couldn't be happier with our results. Here are the estimates:

Basil: a couple handfuls and growing more.
Pole Beans: hundreds, perhaps thousands. One day yielded 71 beans. Next year we'll be more diligent about picking every day and freezing batches.
Broccoli: three small heads. Could've picked a few more but they flowered first.
Carrots: aside from the mutants, 11. Delicious.
Chives: a lot, but we never used them.
Cilantro: a few handfuls.
Sweet Corn: zero. Failure. The cobs never got more than 4" or so and then the birds ate them.
Lettuce Mix: one row. Could've planted more rows for another harvest.
Oregano: four or so handfuls that we dried to store.
Green Onions: 10ish. Never really used them, though.
Yellow Onions: a few, but they never got bigger than about 3/4" so they weren't really edible.
Italian Parsley: about 10 handfuls, which is a lot. That stuff is prolific.
Snow Peas: many dozen. We'll do more next year and hopefully freeze some.
Green Peppers: eight, plus I'm still trying to grow some indoors since I couldn't bare to let the poor tiny things just sit outside and die.
Jalapenos: 22, and I'm trying to grow a few more inside as well. The heat level has been really inconsistent, but still worth it.
Red Bell Peppers: seven.
Chili Peppers: seven. Not hot, but good.
Spinach: none. It was too shaded by the broccoli.
Thyme: three handfuls to dry and store.
Better Boy Tomatoes: about 50.
Roma Tomatoes: over 100. Delicious. We'll do a lot more tomatoes and canning next year.
Zucchini: about a dozen. With four plants, I thought we'd be overrun, but we weren't.

And now it's all cleared out, but we've got beans in the freezer and salsa in the pantry. When the kids were here, they really appreciated growing and picking vegetables, even though they wouldn't eat them, and that was fun to see. I'm already excited for next year.

September 28, 2009

My first decorated cake is literally a "wreck"

Yesterday we had a baby shower for our friend Kim; it was officially the first gathering at the house sans family. We had a great time talking about babies and birthing and whatnot.

I love hosting things because I can indulge my organizational chakra and play event planner without the crazy demands of a bride or other such paying party. This time I wanted to do a carrot-riding babies carrot cake, a la Cake Wrecks. I was delighted to find the exact baby figures at JoAnn, and had planned on picking up a carrot cake at the bakery. But the places I talked to either didn't have carrot cakes with the frosting carrots on top or they had just had a sale on carrot cakes and were out. Blerg! So I made my own:

A wonderful young woman at the Cub Foods bakery sold me a couple tubes of frosting that she colored and then showed me how to make the carrots. As it turns out, it's not that hard. Sure, my weak little hands made the carrots come out kind of squwiggly, but they look more authentic that way, right? The hardest part was sprinkling/throwing the chopped walnuts at the cake to get them to stick to the sides. Then I just had to add the babies:

September 27, 2009

ready for fall. and, apparently, winter.

Wait, no. I am not ready for winter. That is blasphemous.

But now that it is officially Fall and the trees have started becoming that dry, yellow/green combo, knitting feels more cozy and comfortable. In that spirit, I finished a cowl:

And it matches my hat!

This is what it looks like open:

No, I'm not angry. That's just my face at rest. This one is better:

The pattern is "Swirling Petals Cowl" by Casandra Roberts and it's available as a free Ravelry download. After looking at a gazillion cowl patterns, I decided to add the button and loop so I could sinch it tighter for the winter months of December, January, February, and March. Sigh.

I also decided to start a scarf for the Red Scarf Fund using this pattern and some nice, soft, inexpensive Paton's Chunky Shetland Tweed (in red), the same stuff I used for my green hat, Penny's ill-fitting sweater, and my hand warmers.

September 22, 2009

Knitting for charity is an easy decision

But deciding on which charity is not. If I had the time and money to make a metric ton of things to donate, I would gladly do so. These are the charities that I want to help out, but I'll probably have to narrow down the list a bit (or a lot).

Bundles of Love: Provides basic items for local infants in need.

Hats for the Homeless: Distributes warm clothing to homeless individuals nationally.

Mother Bear Project: This locally-based group sends knitted bears to kids in Africa affected my HIV/AIDS.

Red Scarf Fund (Orphan Foundation of America): Sends Valentine's care packages to young adults entering college who have no immediate family support.

Sheila's Shawls (Silent Witness National Initiative)
: Named for Sheila Wellstone, sends shawls to mothers and sisters of women who have died due to domestic abuse.

Snuggles Project (Hugs for Homeless Animals): Makes the enclosures for sheltered animals a little more cozy.

I don't know why this always enters my consciousness when I'm starting to think about the winter holidays, because most of these orgs, if not all, accept and need donations year-round.

September 21, 2009

I am a domestic goddess

And the hubs is a domestic god. Yesterday, we spent the day canning for the first time! Knowing we'd be two worn-out deities by the end of the process, we started the day by whipping up a batch of chili in the crock pot (meaning we opened a bunch of cans, because our domesticity can only stretch so far in one day). Then we took a trip over to that other city across the river
for their lovely farmer's market. We had several pounds of roma tomatoes from our garden but needed more supplies. All told, we spent just about $20 on more tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, and cilantro. We *may* have also expressed some enjoyment of that particular city across the river. Maybe we were just delirious with salsa cravings.

The hubs - wearing one of my old softball jerseys (reuse, recycle!) did most of the tomato chopping while I blanched them to get the skins off. Definitely the most tedious part, but NOT the most painful. We clearly bought the most potent onions to have ever existed.

Here they are, the little shits. It actually worked out to our favor that we don't own a pot big enough to mix everything in. But splitting everything between two smaller pots (8 quarts each), we could easily make a "mild" batch and a "medium" batch. We'll see how that works out. It's kind of fun that you don't really know until you try it.

All of the canning equipment was FREE, thanks to my grandma. This kettle is old old old, but is exactly like the ones you buy new. It took us about four hours of washing and chopping before it was finally put to use.

Annnnnd, here it is! So pretty. Even though the lids from my grandma have fruit on the top - I guess tomatoes are fruit. We got 13 pints. It took five to six hours. We have a crap-load of tomatoes left over, but we also had to buy lemon juice, so I'd say the total investment was still about $20. Only one jar did not seal, so we'll just use that up first!

Final notes:
1) Making salsa is easy but time and energy consuming.
2) We have new-found respect for the domestic arts. And specifically for those who do it a lot, or lived before modern conveniences like gas stoves and running water, or who endeavor to do it alone, or who endeavor to do it alone AND have children running around.
3) $1.54 for a jar of salsa is pretty awesome.

September 19, 2009

Arrr, get on board with the holiday or walk the plank!

International Talk Like a Pirate Day be today, the nineteenth of September in the year two-thousand and nine. Tis only the fourteenth annual celebration, but - shiver me timbers! - me thinks it'll last longer than a gold medallion in me pocket.

Gratitude be owed to the two chums from parts out west who saw fit to make a day of it. May the scurvy be spare and their booties be large!

September 18, 2009

Mischief Managed: Chicken wire does not deter dog

I don't know what's between the compost and the garage (crickets?), but Penny needs to get them.

She is not deterred by only having three or four inches of space in which to wriggle around trying to find that elusive but must-have something. Nor is she deterred by the marigolds blocking the entrance to said space. One of those marigolds is now crushed.

She doesn't get that something on the first venture into the crevice, so she backs out and tries again and again. It's a little like the part in Finding Nemo when Marlon and Nemo are getting ready for school and they're going in and out of the anemone. "First you go out, then go back in. Then you go back out, and then back in. Then go back in a third time, and then out. And if you want to do a fourth time...". I think here (above) she is on her way out, judging by how the fence is directing her doggy-mustache.

I don't know which way she's going now, but it's hilarious to watch her scale that chicken wire and make little grunts of effort.

September 15, 2009

The Replacement: pride bear

Geez, it's been a while...

In typical fashion, I started a new project before finishing any of the three I already had going. More on that later. Yesterday, I did manage to finish Laura's new bear, and I think it's cuter than the first one. As you can see, the rainbow arms and legs turned out pretty well - looking like she's ready to hit the gym in her fancy leg and arm warmers. Perhaps someday I'll make her a sweat band. Laura won't get it, but I'll think it's funny. I think she might need a sporty little white vest, too.

Of course, Laura still wanted her to have rainbow hair. She even helped me cut the strands one day while I was babysitting. Here is the bear before hair:

Relatively normal bear. But then Laura and I started the hair, and we only got so far before I had to leave, and she wanted to just be done with it and keep the bear, but this is how it looked:

That's pronounced moo-lay. We convinced her the bear would look better if I finished the hair. And it does:

I did knit a little rainbow for the belly in case she wanted her to have one, but it ended up as more of a triangle than an arc. Which really works with the pride-bear theme, but she was cute without it and Laura didn't mention anything today when I gave her the bear. She named it Bella, which is pretty much what she names everything.