"The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land."
-Abraham Lincoln

The Year in Review

It's time to say goodbye to 2009.  It was a whirlwind year not only for the nation as a whole but for my little family as well.   We experienced new adventures like starting the first day of school, losing our first teeth, potty training, chasing cows, and making self sufficient strides.   We had some sad times. We had some hard times.  We had a lot of happy times. 
Let's take a look at some of the many highlights of this year in pictures...

This year:

We welcomed new arrivals.

We enjoyed lazy summer days.

We reaped the fruits of our labors.

We said goodbye to our two front teeth.

We created.

We tried new things.

We celebrated.

We had fun.
Goodbye 2009

My First Attempt at Knitting in the Round

This was my very first attempt at knitting in the round.

As I've mentioned on here before, I'm new to the knitting scene.
Since I've taken up this new passion about 4 months ago, I've knitted one hat for oldest, one for youngest (that didn't fit) and now this one for me, myself and I.
I still have to knock out one for middle.  I have my eye set on one that I think will be really cute for him but I wanted to try knitting a larger one in the round first.  I figured that it would be easier to go larger.  I don't remember the logic behind that thinking at the moment...

It fits pretty nicely and definately keeps my head toasty warm.
It took about 3 days and that's with almost constant interruption (as in...sit down, knit 5, "MOM!", get back up, sit down, knit 6 ,"MOMMY!", you get the idea)

*Thank you to Fremont Frog for modeling for me, I'm a wee bit camera shy*

Aside from a rocky start (I could NOT for the life of me figure out how to eliminate that giant gap in between the first and last stitches when I joined the round.  SO, I googled it.  There's almost no problem google can't solve.  Turns out, you just pull the the first knit stitch you make when joining the round extra tightly.  Who knew?) I think it went pretty smoothly. 
I used leftover worsted weight variegated yarn.
A size 8 16in. circular needle
4 size 7 DPNs.
1 tapestry needle
stitch marker

The hat is done in a basic pattern.
Using the circular needle, cast on 70.
K1 P1 for about 2 inches.
Then knit in stockinette (knit each stitch) for about 6 inches.
K8 K2tog for 1 row
Knit the next row
(You'll want to switch to the DPNs about now)
K7 K2tog for 1 row
Knit the next row
K6 K2tog for the next row
Keep going like that until you K2tog across the row and/or you have about 6 sts remaining.
Cut thread leaving about a 4 inch tail.
Thread tail through tapestry needle and then carefully weave through remaining sts, pull tightly.
Weave in your ends, making sure to finish with a little bit of your tail left over on the wrong side of you hat.
And that's it. FIN.

Going "home" for the first time in years...

The family and I decided that this year we would travel north to my old hometown in SE Michigan to visit family around Christmas time.  I haven't been back to that town since 2003 and that was the last of only a handful of visits since I had left when I was 19.  
I can honestly say that going back again wasn't what I expected.   I knew Detroit has been hit hard by the faltering auto industry and I suppose I should've expected to see the same thing in my hometown since it's only about 20 minutes south of Detroit.  I didn't expect it though.  I had a picture in my mind of what it had looked like back in 2003 and what it had looked like throughout my childhood.   And the picture in my mind was nothing like this...

I remember walking down the street in my old neighborhood as a kid and there would be people outside talking, laughing, kids playing.  The houses weren't fancy, not by a long shot, but the people took pride in them anyways.  The yards were mowed, the houses were painted, there were even neatly manicured little flower beds.  
I walked the old neighborhood during this last visit and it looked like a totally different world.   For Sale signs every where.  An empty lot were the corner store had been.   Cars rotting in the yards.  Smashed windows.  Chipped paint.   It was kind of sad.  
The library where I had spent so much of my childhood was empty.  The parks where I had played were rusting and falling down.  
My friends and I used to run the length of the beach, picking up shells, throwing rocks, swimming every chance we had.  We spent nearly every day of the summer right next to the water.  Now, the beaches were littered with trash and no one seemed to care anymore.  
I guess it didn't dawn on me at first how much of life in Michigan was entrenched in the auto industry.  Looking back now I see how depenedent the South East corner of the state was on that one industry.   If you didn't work at the auto headquarters in Detroit then you likely worked in one of the many plants spreading across the state.   If you didn't work in a plant than you probably still worked at a job that was somehow connected to the auto industry be it tires, parts, or car sales.   My father worked as an over the road truck driver (delivering auto parts from the Michigan plants to the rest of the country).   My grandfather had worked at the tool and dye (making machinery for the auto plants).
It was a real wake up call.  I'm not sure the town will ever get back to the way that I remember it.   I guess the old addage "Never put all your eggs in one basket" holds true. 

Christmas Blessings

"And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. (10) And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Doggie Duds version 2.0

My neighbor and dear friend enjoyed the sweater that I made for my mini doxie so much that she requested I make one for her chihuahua Nina.   Well, Lord knows I can't turn down a project so I complied to her request.  I pulled out some left over pink yarn from my daughter's afghan project and went to work.

My neighbor LOVED the sweater.  She's almost as much of a pink freak as my daughter.

Unfortunately I don't have Nina to model for me, although she seems to be much better at it than Cookie ;)  And none of my daughter's stuffed dogs wore it right.
Soooo, we'll just have to settle for these pictures for now.

Christmas Poem

The merry family gatherings –

The old, the very young;
The strangely lovely way they
Harmonize in carols sung.
For Christmas is tradition time
Traditions that recall
The precious memories down the years,
The sameness of them all.
-Helen Lowrie Marshall

First Snow of the Season

It's finally starting to feel like Christmas.  We awoke this morning to a changed world.   When I went to bed last night the great outdoors looked bleak, muddy, brown, just generally kind of gross.   When I woke up this morning it looked like this...

Except of course, everything was in color.   I just happen to really love the way wintery
pictures look in black and white.

I'm still a little behind in terms of my chores.  I've finished several of the gifts I intended to make but I still have several more to get done.  I've rounded up a bunch of Reminisce and Good Old Days magazines (courtesy of my Grandmother) to donate to our local nursing home and those should be going out on Monday.  Right at this moment I should be cleaning but instead I'm "blogging" but if it counts for anything I do have a load of laundry in the washer.   It may not be much but at least it's something.

In the spirit of the season I have a new charity organization to spotlight: Heartmade Blessings.  "Heartmade Blessings is a world-wide group of volunteers dedicated to providing hand-crafted items to those people suffering a loss, tragedy, or going through a rough time that need to be reminded of the simple fact that people care."  Check them out!

More Christmas Cookies

We've finished another batch of Christmas cookies.
By the time we are done we should be able to feed Santa and an entire army of elves.
The kids had a blast decorating these cookies and they are pretty tasty too.

'Tis the season for sharing so here's the recipe for these cookies and the frosting.

Sugar Cookies:


1 stick of butter softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

Step 1.  In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar.  Slowly add in the eggs and vanilla extract until well blended.  

Step. 2.  In a medium bowl sift together flour and baking powder. 

Step 3. Slowly stir the dry ingredients from the medium bowl into the large bowl and mix until dough forms and pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Step 4.  Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Step 5.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  

Step 6. Divide the dough in half into 2 balls.

Step 7. On a lightly floured surface, roll one ball to about 1/4 inch thick

Step 8. Cut out shapes and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 7-9 minutes.  Let cool before adding icing.

*This is not my recipe.  I found this recipe online and liked it even better than my own.


2 sticks butter, room temperature

2 cups Crisco shortening

1 teaspoon butter flavoring (Wilton’s makes the best flavored version)

1 taspoon pure vanilla extract (I use Wilton’s Clear Vanilla)

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 pounds powdered (confectioners) cane sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon meringue powder (optional but the texture will be smoother)*

Water as necessary (I usually add about 2 tablespoons but you may need more or less depending on the humidity in your neighborhood)


Step 1. In the mixer, mix butter, Crisco shortening, and salt together to incorporate, about 5 minutes on low.

Step 2. Add almond, butter and vanilla extracts. Mix together well. Add about 1 pound of powdered sugar and the meringue powder and mix.

Step 3. Add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar at a time and mix until you get the consistency you want.

Step 4. Add a little milk, a teaspoon at a time, if necessary to thin the frosting. Blend well on low for several minutes.

Use immediately or cover and refrigerate. NOTE: Buttercream Icing will last for weeks as long as it is well sealed.

Doggie Duds

This is my first attempt at crocheting a dog sweater.
No, I don't dress my dogs up and no they don't have huge wardrobes of clothes.
This is more function than form, mini dachshunds and below freezing temperatures with bitter wind chills don't tend to mix well.

The whole thing took me about 4 days to crochet which really is much longer than it should've taken but life gets in the way of creativity sometimes.

She's not much of a model.  She seems to view having her picture taken as some sort of punishment.

I guess she's not destined for a life in the spotlight.

This is the best shot I could get out of her.
The sweater is pretty cute I think and it serves it's purpose.
She went outside just after I took these pictures and was able to stay out for more than 5 seconds.  She was even able to explore her favorite holes and nooks and crannies.


In the spirit of the season, we've been baking.   I'm trying to get one batch of a different kind of cookie done every other day or so right up until Christmas.   We'll just have to wait and see if that pans out in reality ;)

For our first batch, we went with the uber-traditional, ultra Christmas-y, fun loving little gingerbread cookies.

We combined our ingredients for homemade gingerbread cookies.
Find the recipe we used here.

The kids cut out various Christmas type shapes.
Then we baked.

The kids spent ALOT of time intricately decorating each cookie
with the royal icing we had made.

The finished result was pretty...pretty delicious at least.
The kids had a BLAST and we even have a couple hanging on our tree.
The rest are in our bellies. 

Oh Christmas Tree....

I think I'm a bit of a procrastinator.   What's worse is I think I've married someone who is also a bit of a procrastinator.  Well, we're procrastinators when it comes to holiday decorations at least.  I can look out my window at this very moment and if I squint through the night sky and the drifting snow towards the barn light I will see 3 very handsome pumpkins sitting in a little frozen huddle around the light post.  Alongside them there are cornstalks, hay bales, and a few "cobwebs" with one very large, scary, plastic spider.   That's right...I have yet to fully take down the Halloween decorations.   Oh, I've taken down some, but many still remain.  
I also have a few hand drawn turkeys sitting on my mantle above the fireplace and some small ornamental gourds in a nice harvest bowl on my counter.  
It seems as though all of my neighbors and friends had their Halloween decorations taken down not 2 days after the festivities of the holiday.  I swear they all stayed up late to put their Christmas decorations up right after Thanksgiving dinner.

Us?  Well we just finished putting up our tree yesterday.

This is the American Gothic Pigs decoration that our good friend got us as a gift.
I think he was trying to make a funny :)

Up close and personal with the pigs.

Just a random decoration to dress things up around this blog.

Well at least that's one job done.  I still have a ton of work to do.  I'm still making doll clothes for Oldest although I've gotten several of those finished. 
I'm also working on some crochet and sewn baby toys for Youngest and some crochet stuff for Middle.  I have hats to make for each family member.  A couple sweaters to make (those don't have to be finished by Christmas though, thank goodness)
and I have to bake cookies for gingerbread houses and gingerbread people and make fudge for our church bazaar.  I'm feeling the time crunch.  I think I'll be enlisting help. :P

Funny Stuff...

Those who know me would tell you that I love to laugh.   I search out anything funny, witty, comical, etc.  Frequently when I'm online I'm searching for things that are humorous.  And occasionally I like to share some of what I find on here.   So, if you're in the mood for a good laugh, please feel free to sit back, relax and enjoy the following exhibits of "humor".  

Redneck Balcony.   Please notice the crutch sitting next to him.
Bad leg be damned, nothing was stopping him from getting onto that roof.

Maybe their relationship is closer than we originally thought. lol.

Insert Monica Lewinsky joke here.

I don't even know what to say about this one...


Points for cuteness.

This one's just plain silly.

The look on his face...pricesless.

Santa's Little Elf

I am once again playing the role of Santa's Elf this year by making many of the gifts I'll be giving this year.   First on the list, my daughter.  On her list she asked for some clothes for her baby dolls.  SO....Santa's little helper here has been busy busy busy crocheting away some little super chic baby doll outfits.  Check out the first of several...

This is, as I've mentioned, the first of several doll outfits I'm making for Oldest.
Thank you to Baby Alive for modeling this year's newest line ;) ...

The outfit is a shirt and skirt combo.
I found the shirt pattern here and modified the size for a correct fit.

The little ruffle skirt is my own design.
Once again, being the flake that I can be sometimes, I didn't write down the pattern as I made this.  I'll try to work on that as I go along here.
BUT...I'm pretty sure I have it pretty well all in my wee little brain so I'll give you the pattern as I remember it.  For those of you that may try this pattern please be sure to give feedback, suggestions, or let me know of any problem areas you find.
Legal Beagle stuff: This and all other patterns of my own design on this site are copyrighted.  Meaning please don't sell the pattern itself.  If you have a blog or website you may post the pattern for free but please give credit where credit is due and link back to this site.  You may, of course, sell items made from this pattern.


Using a size H hook and baby weight yarn:

Row. 1: Ch. 40 then joined with a slip st. into the first ch. to form a ring.
Row 2: Ch. 1 then single crochet in each ch. around.
Join with a slip stitch into the first sc. 
Row 3: Ch. 3 turn. DC in each sc around. Join with a slip stitch into first DC.
Row 4-6:  Ch. 3 turn. DC in each DC around.  Join with a slip stitch into first DC.
Row 7: Ch. 3 turn. DC in same stitch. *DC in the next DC, 2 DC in next DC, DC in next stitch* repeat from * around. Join with slip stitch in first DC.  It doesn't matter at this point if your increases match up exactly.  Just add 1 DC if you find yourself at the end of the round and it doesn't match up exactly.
Row 8: Ch. 3 turn. DC in same stitch.  *DC in next 2 DC sts, 2DC in next st, DC in next 2 DC sts* Repeat from * around. Join with slip stitch in first DC. Finish off.


Happy Thanksgiving!

We're gearing up for Thanksgiving in my little corner of the planet.   I just finished baking the last of the pies.  We're having Dutch Apple pie, Traditional Apple Pie, Sweet Potatoe Pie, and 2 pumpkin pies.   Needless to say it took all day to bake them.  We also went to Grandpa's this morning to assist in the ugly deed of dispatching a nice plump Tom turkey.  

The menu plan for tomorrow includes turkey (of course), stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes with the little marshmellows (yummy), cranberry jelly, cornbread, sweet rolls, green bean casserole, a vegetable platter, homemade bread which I finished baking yesterday, mustard greens, the pies, coffee, Apple Cider (spiced for the adults, non spiced for the kiddies).

Thanksgiving is a pretty much a giant feeding frenzy at our house which culminates in the women sitting for several hours at the dining room table talking, playing gin rummy and drinking coffee or cider while the men plop in front of the television to watch football and discuss politics before almost half of them drop off to sleep.  The children will likely be playing some board game like clue or junior monopoly and the younger set will be in their rooms playing with their various toys. If you looked into our window on Thanksgiving you'd swear you were looking at a Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover.  Ultra Traditional.  

Unfortunately for me this ultra traditional feast of sorts leaves an ultra large mess.  So this year, I'm thankful for my wonderful family and friends, especially my husband, my best friend, her husband and my Aunt who have all offered to help me clean up.   They are the bees knees (I'm rocking the retro throw back catchphrases).

I sincerely hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.