Saturday, March 30, 2013



We are freshly returned from our holiday, first in Houston to see friends and then in Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca, Mexico.  In Puerto Escondido, we met this little guy and about four dozen of his brothers and sisters when we visited a conservation group on the beach.  These baby green sea turtles had just hatched that morning and the group waited until sundown for their release to help protect them from bird predators.  It was just about the cutest thing ever...until you noticed the massive, crushing surf pounding the shore.  These guys don't have it easy, even when they have help.

  into the surf

The trip was fantastic.  Playing at the beach was great fun and such as welcome change from Pittsburgh's endless winter, and the handicrafts and vibrant colours of Oaxaca were good for my artist's soul.  I am working to get my head around being back in the cold and getting back to routine at home, but for now, I'm still revelling in the days of sun and warm weather we enjoyed.

Happy Easter to you and yours!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Baked mini donuts

Stephanie is having a pajama day at school, and I volunteered to supply doughnuts for snack time.  I'm sure the teachers intended for me to buy them, because only crazy people make their own donuts, right? I just so happen to be that flavour of crazy.  I am a proud owner of one (sadly under-used) mini donut pan.  Unless I am handed a piping hot, fresh Krispy Kreme donut, I will choose cake donuts over fried every time.

mini donuts with chocolate glaze

If you look up mini donut recipes online, you'll find countless recipes, but most of them are essentially the same.  The one I use is this:

Baked mini donuts

1 cup flour
5 - 6 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt*

1/2 - 1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 Tbsp melted butter
6 Tbsp buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F and grease donut pan (I use cooking spray).
Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
Add wet to dry and mix thoroughly.
You can spoon the batter into each space (about 2 Tbsp) or you can put all the batter in a piping bag and squeeze it into the pan.
Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.
Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then cool completely on rack.

*use less salt if you don't plan on glazing or sugaring these; otherwise, they might taste too salty.

little fingers scoop the glaze drips

To make cinnamon sugar donuts, toss cooled donut in melted butter and then toss it in cinnamon-sugar.
For a basic glaze, mix one cup of confectioners sugar and a bit of liquid (water, milk, buttermilk).
For a nice chocolate coating, you can melt milk chocolate in a double boiler and dip the donuts into the melted chocolate.  It will harden as it cools.  Or you could just add cocoa powder to the confectioners sugar glaze.  That works too.

I also baked chocolate donuts with white glaze for variety.  That recipe was found here.

  chocolate mini donuts with glaze

Friday, March 8, 2013

Toxic me

hooray for sugar!

I had a first visit with a new chiropractor today.  In the patient paperwork was a health form, and one line item was a toxicity indicator.  It listed five toxins, and I had to indicate which I regularly consume.  The items were:

  • coffee
  • tea
  • alcohol
  • cigarettes
  • white sugar

4 out of 5.
Oh dear.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Newborn "puerperium" cardigan

Hi friends!

It seems the post when I shared the Hitchhiker scarf I knit for my daughter's teacher has been my most popular post ever.  Who knew?  Thank you!  Shall I share a bit more knitting?

Last month, three wee babes were welcomed into three different friends' lives.  It was a busy month!  When we learned the first one was a preemie, I jumped at the idea of knitting a teeny tiny cardi for her.  Then, me being me, that didn't happen.  Still drawn to a baby cardigan, I changed gears to a very popular free pattern on ravelry, the Puerperium Cardigan.  I love that it fits like a pullover without actually requiring a pull over baby's head.  Just lay baby down, fit those sweet arms in the sleeves and button up the front.  Simple, practical, but not available in shops.  Exactly the kind of thing I like to knit.

finally sewed on buttons

baby cardi with buttons

My notes on ravelry are here.  The yarn is Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK, which I absolutely love.  It is warm natural fiber, so soft and sweet, available in the most gorgeous colours, and is superwash (machine washable) for those moms who are too sleep-deprived and hormone-addled to remember to gently handwash out the spit-up.  In other words, it might be the most perfect baby yarn I've found yet.

Again, me being me, I finished the knitting but somehow neglected to sew on the buttons for 3 more weeks.  Now it is finally done, but it is small and babies grow awfully fast.
Lucky I also love giving books...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sailor baby play mat

Day 4, and I can report my March challenge is going along swimmingly!  An unexpected bonus to the challenge has been the motivation I have to finish up long-standing projects and get them in the mail (hey, it counts!).  This weekend, I finished another baby play mat, my favorite homemade baby gift.  I just select two fabrics with large patterns I like, one for each side, and a coordinating fabric for the binding (or you could use bias binding instead).

sailor baby play mat

This time, I used Out to Sea by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller fabrics for the front and back.  The binding is made from Honey Honey by Kate Spain for Moda.  In the past, I have used a heavier-weight fabric (such as the Kokka linen blends) to great success.  I don't love the way this one bunches and wrinkles after a run through the washing machine, but this gift is not about perfection*.  It's about practicality, function, and thinking enough of someone to make a gift for their wee babe.

sailor baby play mat

To make the play mat, you will need enough fabric to make a large square.  This fabric was 45 inches wide, so that is the length I had cut.  Prewash the fabrics.  Then, lay out a quilt sandwich with a double layer of cotton wadding for the middle to make it extra soft and cushion-y.  Pin the sandwich together and sew a big X straight from corner to corner.  Don't worry if it isn't exact (you can see in the first picture that mine certainly isn't).  Attach your binding.  If you want to be fancy, you can sew loops of ribbon at random intervals along the edge for a tactile element or a practical way to attach baby toys with rings.  Wash again and dry to check your sewing holds, and TAH-DAH!  Homemade baby gift complete!

sailor baby play mat

This gift was inspired by my observation that most babies end up on the floor for play.  Mamas often want to put something beneath their babes, but basic blankets are rarely sufficient and there isn't much else available that is easy to tote around and wash.  Please let me know if you make one and what you think.

*If you think the recipient will notice and think poorly of any errors, I strongly recommend gifting something from a store and keeping your hand-mades for someone else.  Stress goes against the whole point of making something with love.

Wishing you a happy start to your week!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sewing feats of late

There hasn't been much sewing around here since the KCWC, but I have finally-at-last-holy-moly completed a flannel-lined pair of corduroy pants for my big girl and a corduroy dress for my wee one.  Ya know, it's always a good idea to complete winter sewing before the winter is actually over...(ahem).

The pants are again the pattern o from Happy Handmade Vol 2.  The corduroy is a cheap cord from Joann's with a lovely Anna Maria Horner flannel lining.  I know it's crazy to have such a gorgeous flannel as a liner, but I wanted it to be used and loved, and my girl love-love-loves the way it feels inside those plain pants.  I finished the edges so she can (and currently must) roll the cuffs to expose the flannel.

  flannel lined cord pants

The pants didn't fit as she likes (way low beneath her belly button), so I had to add a waistband to lengthen the rise.  The added waistband is the flannel too.  Alas, since that isn't part of the original pattern, the fit is a bit off now...but oh well.  It fits somewhere between design and her preference, so it's ok.

flannel-lined cords

Stephanie's birthday dress is Citronille's Albertine.  This one is not yet available in English, which is perhaps to my detriment as a relatively new and self-taught sewist.  The front piece (and corresponding back piece) were way too wide.  I had to reduce each by over 2 inches to fit my girl better.  I had already completed the dress when I realized this, so I simply folded each piece over and sewed it down.  On the front, I sewed on 2 buttons so it would look intentional (like a button band without actual buttonholes).

  faux button band

Now it fits just fine.  I have read other reviews of this pattern advocating shortening the pattern's elastic length in the shoulders by 2 cm on each side.  I'd agree with this (but didn't do it).  As a result, this dress is a bit of a super-soft-and-sweet corduroy sack, but she doesn't care so neither do I.  It looks particularly cute and intentional when she pairs it with the corduroy pants I sewed for her this fall, so we will go with that.

   Albertine in corduroy

This fabric is Get Together pinwhale corduroy, and it is the softest, sweetest corduroy I've ever had my hands on.  I had purchased Anna Maria Horner's velveteen for this dress, but Stephanie chose this corduroy from my stash instead.  I don't blame her.  It's so lovely to touch and the squirrels and acorns pattern is very cute.

Friday, March 1, 2013

On skates

This afternoon, Ellie went to a birthday party at the Neville Rollerdrome.  She had never been on rollerskates before, but she had a great time.  The place was kind of retro-awesome.  It looked like it hadn't been renovated since 1984, probably the last time I was on roller-skates...well, except for this time:

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

March challenge begins

I had thought to go through all my photos with the idea of a photo from each day now next to a photo of the same calendar day some year past.  Oh my goodness, what an emotional rollercoaster.  We have been some amazing places and have enjoyed some incredible experiences...but there have been quite a lot of hard things in recent years too.  Perhaps due to being such a visual person, looking back through my photos brought up such a tremendous wave of emotion (elating and tough) that I know a different challenge is in order.  The idea was to commit to a simple, small, consistent thing, one day per month.  The commitment is the challenge, not the project itself.  Given that we will traveling again in this month, a blog challenge may not be wisest anyway.

I did, however, find some rather lovely images to share, just for fun.

Balinese rice paddy cleaning crew


the radiance

Belgian chocolates

I've decided March will be a writing challenge, at least one short note to a friend every day this month.  Some days might yield lengthy letters, others perhaps a postcard.  Every day, something is going into the mail.  Care to join me?