Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beverly Hills, 90211

I was given the exciting opportunity to travel to Beverly Hills on business recently. Although most of my day and evening was spent working in doors, I did take a brief moment one evening to get some site seeing in.

I decided to head over to west Hollywood to see Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the night life surrounding it. There was quite the crowd for a Tuesday evening.

On the sidewalks surrounding the theatre, you'll find the walk of fame; actors/actresses, comedians, musicians, etc.

You'll also find a number of street performers taking pictures with sight-seers. That night, I saw The Joker (from the Dark Knight), Marilyn Monroe, Yoda, and our friendly neighborhood Spider Man.

Finally, at the theatre, you get to see where all of the movie stars put their hand and foot prints in the cement. Stars such as Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, George Clooney, Harrison Ford, and Darth Vader.

Right next to the theater, you'd find the Kodak Theatre. Peering inside, you'd see columns, from floor to ceiling, that were illuminating the names of the movie titles that won 'Best Picture' at the Academy Awards. It was rather neat to read some of the older movie names. Walking up the stairs to the theatre, the columns included future years for the upcoming best pictures.

At the top of the stairs and taking a short walk right around the corner, you find yourself in the middle of the Hollywood and Highland Centre (i.e. Kodak Theatre mall). Plenty of shops and food to choose from. Across the street, you can see where they film Jimmy Kimmel Live. Unfortunately, my time was limited, so I briefly caught a bite to eat at Johnny Rocket's and headed back to my hotel.

It was fun to get out and see some of these touristy things. After a few days in Beverly Hills, I was ready to head back home to a more quiet place.


Thursday, November 19, 2009


I have done my fair share of nesting this past week. Is 7 months too early to be nesting? I justify it by telling myself that these last 2 months are bound to go quickly with all the holidays coming up. I also wanted to get an idea of what, if anything, we need to get for the new baby. It began with me hauling up bins of Noah's baby clothes from the basement (something I probably shouldn't be doing with my sore back...but, oh well!). I discovered that spit-up stains get worse over time. Sigh. Everything got a soak and wash before finding a place in our closet, nestled between my books and Curtis's dress shirts. This, folks, is baby's 'nursery'. Well, this plus eventually a co-sleeper beside our bed that he/she will hopefully like better than Noah did.

The hauling up of baby clothes lead to an impromptu sewing project to relieve the backache: A reusable hot pack. It is simply a muslin bag with a removable cotton cover, filled with rice, flax seed, and a couple pinches of lavender and chamomile flowers that make it smell wonderful when heated up in the microwave for a minute or two. This is bound to come in handy over the next months for various aches and pains.

Finally, the washing of the woollies. I actually forgot how many little longies (wool pants) I had knit for Noah until I began sorting through the bin where all the diapers and woollies were stored. Into a warm lanolin soap wash they went before being rinsed with cool water, lanolized and laid out to dry.

The lanolin restores the wool's natural lanolin and helps keeps the woollies water-proof when used over cloth diapers instead of a traditional diaper cover. There are also a couple a sweaters hiding in the back there on blocking mats, one of which I don't think Noah ever wore. Maybe this baby will get some use out of it.

I think I got the nesting out of my system for a little while. Now it is back to my regularly scheduled holiday knitting!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bouncy Seat Cover

When Noah was a baby, one of our neighbors, a lovely lady with four kiddos of her own, commented that I never seemed to put him down. That was very true, whether it was by choice or him pretty much demanding it. Well, one day this well-meaning lady left a used bouncy seat on our doorstep. Noah, being quite a bit bigger than her babies were at his age was too big for it, but we took it anyway so as not to hurt her feelings and stowed it away in the basement. Fast forward to now and preparing for our next baby. While this baby will also spend most of his/her time in arms, I am guessing there will be times I will need a safe place to put him/her while attending to Noah's needs. So I dug out that old bouncy seat, which was, um...well used.

After much planning and measuring, I removed the straps and sewed a new padded cover with fabric left over from the mei tai project. This was another learning project. Sewing bias tape around the crotch strap? Not good. But in the end...ta da! Re-purposed bouncy seat!

Here's hoping this baby will actually let me use it for a minute or two...


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Embroidered Baby Slippers

I warned you I would be making more baby shoes. So these are very girly, I admit. But I just could not resist! They are made out of a vintage embroidered linen table runner that just happened to have a nice crocheted border as well. I will have a girl baby eventually right? If not, they are pretty just to look at...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Elven Baby Shoes

Ever since I saw the pattern for these cloth baby shoes I have wanted to make some. Last night I discovered that I finally had some fabric that would work perfectly. These Elvish-looking baby shoes are made from brown linen, lined with flannel and trimmed with vintage ribbon.

They would be very quick to make if only I could figure out what my sewing machine has against sewing through flannel and a couple other layers of fabric (what is up with that!). Let's just say that Grandma's seam ripper once again got quite the workout. Despite those problems, I think I will be making more of these cuties!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Marvelous Weekend

It was a busy, yet fun filled, weekend. My apologies for the delay in my posting. Here's a brief recap of what has gone on:

It's musical time again! This fall, the VACT is performing "Something's Afoot"; a murder mystery musical that spoofs Agatha Christie's 'Ten Little Indians'. One of the opening numbers is an appropriate title for this blog post. For this show, the orchestra is on stage and behind the scenery. It makes for some interesting acoustics, but it's fun to see and engage with the actors/actresses in between scenes. The first weekend's performances went very well. Next Thursday through Saturday are the final performances. If you're interested in seeing it, ticket information can be found here. For those who have already seen the show, thanks for coming and I hope you've enjoyed it.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa Ted! We hope you had a special day. Since it falls on Halloween, how better to celebrate it than with a 'Happy Birthday Pumpkin'?

Now, when Noah hears the rumblings of a little engine whiz past our house, he'll look at us straight in the eye and in all seriousness mention 'melmeln'. We finally caught on that he was trying to tell us that this was the 'mail man' driving by. Sometimes, during the middle of dinner he'll think he heard the 'melmeln' again and inform us, just in case we wanted to check. We think he uses this term for other meanings as well that we're still trying to figure out. If you recall one of our earlier posts, you'd most likely understand.

As you've seen in her recent post, Jen has been knitting up a storm. I'm not sure if I've seen her without knitting needles and yarn in her hands for some time now. I can't even keep up with everything she's done. She's like a machine: she knit me a hat, she knit herself a hat, she knit a friend a baby hat, and now she's working on some mittens. She's just so gosh darn talented.

Daylight savings time happened. It's getting close to the time where I'll go to work when it's dark and then return home when it's dark. If I'm in my office for most of the day, there may be a good chance that I won't see the sun. It's definitely a sign that 'ol man winter is on his way. I will mention, however, that I did enjoy that extra hour of sleep--very rejuvenating. With all that has been going on, that one additional hour made all of the difference.

Finally, it was the weekend of Halloween, one of my favorite times of the year. Maybe it's because it's one of the more creative holidays. I really enjoy seeing the kids dress up in their ingenious costumes as well as turning pumpkins into my own artwork. For those of you that aren't aware, I go a little crazy with pumpkin carving. We go and pick out the pumpkins at a local farm and then I use basic carving tools to sculpt a design. It's a tedious, delicate process, but I love the challenge involved. I always like to carve things that the kids can relate to as they visit our home for trick-or-treating. It's also fun to make the parents of the trick-or-treaters think about how the carvings could be done. In previous years, I've commonly done a number of movie characters, including action heroes (Batman, Spiderman) and cartoon (Shrek, Nemo). This year, I thought I'd go with a theme to help celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Movie The Wizard of Oz and the 100th Anniversary of Frank L. Baum's book Wizard of Oz.

It was a full two day process to complete the designs, empty out, and then carve the pumpkins. Noah was a good supervisor to make sure I was staying on track.

Following the storyline of the film, Dorothy Gale, who lives on a Kansas farm, dreams of a better place "somewhere over the rainbow." After a tornado strikes her unconscious, Dorothy dreams that she, her dog Toto and the farmhouse are transported to the magical Land of Oz.

There, Dorothy is told by the Good Witch of the North, Glinda, to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City and meet the Wizard of Oz, who can help her return to her home back in Kansas. Along the way, she meets a Scarecrow who would feel much happier if he only had a brain.

Later on, they meet a Tin Man, who wishes he could have a heart.

Further on down the road, they come across a Cowardly Lion, hoping to ask the wizard for courage. This one was the most challenging carving, partially due to the pumpkin's size. The Cowardly Lion took 2.5 hours to complete.

Throughout their journey to the Emerald City, they try to avoid the Wicked Witch of the West and her attempt to retrieve her sister's ruby slippers from Dorothy.

I was pretty pleased as to how everything turned out. Usually, when carving such intricate designs, the pumpkins only last for about a day and a half to two days. Despite the short lifespan of these carvings, I still think it's worth it. I found that my witch shrivels up rather than melts.

We thought that it might be fun this year to dress Noah up for Halloween again. We were coming down to the wire without fully deciding what he should wear. As we strolled through the local Target's Halloween clearance section, Noah smiled, pointed, and said, "DUCK!" The decision was made.

He wasn't too thrilled to walk around outside. He was having more fun watching the trick-or-treaters from the windows and then helping me hand out candy. After he understood that kids came to the door with every doorbell ring, he started signing to me 'more, please', as if I had some control as to when the trick-or-treaters came to the door. He tolerated the costume for just under two hours. It was pretty funny watching him waddle around as a duck.

Maybe next weekend will be a little more laid back. : )

Finished Projects

This is going to be a very picture heavy post of all the things that have been keeping me busy on these rainy fall days. Some have been completed for quite a while and their pictures have been hanging out on our Flickr page, so sorry if this is repetitious. I have been doing more creating than blogging obviously...
First up, a diaper wrap in a soft organic merino wool, left over from another project gone bad.
As the cold weather set in early, I got to work on a new hat for Noah. It came out a tad small, but he doesn't seem to mind.

I also made him some matching mittens using a pattern from the Winter 2009 issue of Living Crafts magazine. These were my first felted project, meaning I knit them big and sent them through two wash cycles in the washing machine to shrink and felt them so they are nice and thick and warm. I added some ribbed cuffs and the ever important string to keep them together.

Whenever I get sick of my other larger projects, I take a few hours and knit a baby sock. They are easy and instant gratification. These newborn size socks are knit from Knitpicks fine merino wool. I also made a handy little baby sock blocker out of an old plastic lid.

Probably my biggest baby project, started way back in May before we even knew we were expecting another baby is this blanket made for a special little great niece that will be arriving around Winter Solstice/Christmas. After knitting a blanket for Noah, I vowed to never knit another blanket because they take soooo long to finish, but my want to make something special for this baby must have overcome that vow somehow. I made up the pattern as I went along but it is inspired by a baby blanket I saw on another blog last year that was also knit for a Solstice baby. My version is knit from Knit Picks Swish, a washable merino wool in a color aptly called 'Sunshine' (which also happens to be the color of this baby's Mama's blankie when she was a little girl). Knit from the center out, I started with snowflake lace, then moved on to the falling stars, more snowflakes and finished it off with feather and fan for a nice ripple boarder.

Up next, some more baby hats. This newborn size hat is knit from super soft Manos del Uruguay merino wool and silk blend.

I had enough yarn left for some matching cabled newborn socks. I still need to make the other one...someday when I am sick of whatever else I am working on.

This hat was made for one of Curtis's coworker's baby girl, Aurelia. I added a crocheted flower to this one for some extra girly-ness. It was fun knitting for a girl for a change!

Finally, my biggest sewing project so far was a Mai Tei carrier. We didn't really need another carrier to add to our collection of wraps and slings, but another blogging mama was kind enough to share her pattern/tutorial so I just had to try it. The main fabric is from Amy Butler's Midwest Modern collection. It was a great learning opportunity, and I made friends with my Grandmother's old seam ripper due to my sewing machine's refusal to sew through many layers of padding and fabric without getting jammed up every inch or so.

This particular pattern features a hood that can be worn up to support a sleeping baby's head or folded down as a neck rest.

Daddy and Noah were kind enough to put it on for a quick demo.

As I near the end of my 'To Make for Baby" list, I am working on a hat, mittens, and sweater for myself (!), as well as a lacy scarf for my wonderful midwife. Oh, and then I will be starting in on Noah's Christmas present. I guess the lists never end!

Back to work now...