Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hitting the Trail

We're hitting the road for a few days to see friends and family and usher in a new year, but before I go I wanted to wish each and every one of you a year full of happiness, health, and possibility.  I'm so thankful for your comments, your friendship, and your inspiration.  You each make my world a brighter place.

Happy New Year!!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter Walking

After a busy holiday of frantic gift-opening, sugar-fueled kids, and running to and fro to various gatherings, I was only too happy to get a chance to escape to the woods today.  I left the honey in charge of the wee ones, grabbed my snowshoes, and went out to explore the 20" or so of new snow on the ground.

The patterns of the snow-covered branches snaking across the sky was almost dizzying. 

The palette of bark and snow was only occasionally broken by rust-colored leaves, a glimpse of blue sky, a clump of moss, and this surprising find...

...shocking red berries against the white.  I think this may be a Winterberry shrub, but I'm not sure. (UPDATE - it seems that these are viburnum trilobum or a highbush cranberry, which is edible.  Can you guess who will be making highbush cranberry jam next year?) 

I've made it a habit when I'm woods-walking to stop from time to time and look back.  Often I'm surprised by what I see that I had walked right past the first time. 

My boys call this the bridge tree and look for a troll everytime we walk past it.

It was really lovely to have a little quiet time, and the weather was just perfect for it too.  I'm so glad I took advantage of it.  I hope you've enjoyed our walk today, and find a little quiet time yourselves.

Happy Sunday! 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays To You

Our dream of a white Christmas is here.  We have 7" of new snow on the ground with the promise of more tonight.  We'll be cuddled in front the fire celebrating the baby's 1st birthday, and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the man in red.

Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season, however you choose to celebrate it, and lots of warmth, happiness, creativity, and joy for the coming year.

The very best wishes to you and yours.

xo Lisa

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Baking and Beans (but not baked beans)

The annual cookie-a-thon has begun in my house.  Each year I bake cookies as gifts so about a week before Christmas the house begins filling with the scent of spices and sugar.   I have a favorite that is really easy to make and delish, so I thought I'd share.  It's a standard oatmeal cookie recipe, but I like to add dried blueberries or cherries and pecans.  ( NO raisins.  blech!!)   Combined with a bit of cinnamon and vanilla, it's pure heaven when paired with a good cuppa coffee.

Here's the recipe:

Oatmeal cookies

2/3 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. softened butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3 cups oats
1 c. flour
1 c. dried blueberries, cherries, or cranberries
1 c. pecans

Mix all ingredients except oats, flour, fruit, and nuts in a bowl.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2" apart onto an ungreased (or parchment lined) baking sheet.  Bake at 375 for 9-11 minutes.  Remove immediately to a wire rack.

I have a couple of young helpers at home and while they do looove to help with the baking, sometimes I need a distraction so I can just crank out some dough.  Today I gave them a mixing bowl and dried beans to play with.  Are they going to make a mess?  Yes.  Do they love it?  Yes.  Hey, they're beans.  I can just sweep them up, no problem.

They inevitably moved from playing with the community bowl to other areas of the house.  Once they start making crop circles on the floor with the beans, I try to sweep them up lest we find beans throughout the house until New Years.

What to do once you sweep them up?  Craft!  We glued ours onto some egg gourds I had, added a ribbon, and dubbed them ornaments. 

So that's that.  All in all a good day of baking and beans.  What did you do today?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yes Deer

We had visitors today.  I was sitting in the living room with the kids, making a blanket fort when the mighty four year old said "Look mommy... deer."  Sure enough, there were two deer casually sauntering past our window.  The boys stayed quiet and still (I was so proud of them) while I dove for my camera. 

They carefully picked their way through the back yard, past the chicken coop, and to the trail that runs through the back woods and off into the county land.  

We commonly see their footprints in the driveway, but rarely see them out in the open during the day; and never this close to the house, so this was a real treat. 

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, December 14, 2009

Princes and Princesses

I did some holiday crafting this weekend and whipped up some presents for my nieces and nephews and my two youngest sons.  Last year I made them all superhero capes, but this year I decided they should get wool crowns.  I didn't have a pattern to work from, just a vague idea of what I wanted them to look like so I drew a template on a piece of paper, grabbed a pile of felted coat wool, and started winging it. 

I handsewed the details, but machine sewed the crown together.  Let me tell ya, me and the machine...we don't see eye to eye...  but I managed to get everything sewn together anyway.  I added a few different button holes so the crowns are adjustable.   Elastic would work perfectly, but I didn't have any on hand so I dove into my button stash instead.

My 3 year old requested a yellow bird on his, and I still have to make one for my 4 year old who has very stringent directions for me....ocean, blue, beach, 1 palm tree, a starfish, green fish only, and sparkles.  Alrighty... 

I'm hoping the kiddies like them as much as I do.   What handmade goodies are you giving this year?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Taking Time

I'm taking a little bit of time off from my Etsy shop in order to spend some quiet time with my family.  Last year at this time I had the honor of being Etsy's Featured Seller, was expecting my 4th child, and was feeling the pressure to get a lot of things done in a short period of time.  This year I decided that I would make different use of my time.  I have a number of projects that I'd love to finish for my family (some that have been in the works for *ahem* months), which I plan to do slowly, more baking and story time with the kids, more relaxation time, more heyjustslowdownaminuteandbreathe time.

While the shop will be empty, I'll still be popping in here with this and that, sharing new projects, recipes, and the like.  Hey, in fact, here's the start of a holiday gift for my little nephew.  I'll be sharing the rest of it soon.

  I hope you take some time to breathe during this busy season too.

See you soon!   

Monday, December 07, 2009

Pom Poms Please!

A few days ago I had seen the pom pom tutorial that Margie from Resurrection Fern had put together and thought it would be a fun project for me and the kids to work on.  I really liked her organic looking version and even though I'm not a pom pom person so much, I had to try it out. 

Little did I realize that I would have so much fun making them.  3 hours.  3 HOURS I made pom poms.  Who knew?  Who knew my husband would have to utter the words "put down the pom pom and come and eat dinner"?  The kids loved them too.  They became fuzzy nunchucks in their hands and they gleefully walloped each other with them.  Even the baby enjoyed spinning them around.  I plan to make more to adorn my nieces' and nephews' holiday gifts, a few for decorations, and of course more for the kids to play with. 

My favorite of all of them were the ones made of handspun yarn.  They look like furry anemones.  Like some little fish should back right in there and call it a home. 

I experimented with different shapes and sizes of pom pom template-thingies and made a gigantic one that is roughly the size of my son's head.  It is the most coveted pom pom of the lot, presumably because the boys can make a serious impact when whacking the other with it.  (I have since put this one up out of kidlets' reach)

If you have some spare yarn around, you should definitely try this out.

Happy Nunchucking!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Checking in on the Acorn Rainbow - December 2009

It's been a month since I last checked in on my acorn rainbow project.  As anticipated, there isn't much acorn activity to be seen now that the snow has started to fall, but the soft powder that covered the stump was incredibly sparkly and beautiful today.  The kind of snow in which you can see each individual snowflake... a visual treat for sure.

Some wee woodland creature scampered right across the stump and left his mark.  Perhaps he's the little bandit that's been running off with the acorns.  I hope he has them strung up like Christmas lights in his den somewhere.

I'll check back in on the acorn rainbow in the spring, and I'm already curious to know if any remain.

Until then...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Oh The Excitement!

The new Fa La La La Felt from Lark Books is now available!

The fish is out of the bag!  Lark Books has launched their new e-book Fa La La La Felt, and I was lucky enough to have a few projects included.  There are 45 super cool felty projects in this book, amongst them you'll find the wee fish you see above.  I've seen a few of the other projects and trust me, they're adorable.  Go buy your copy now and start making lovely things for the holidays right now!  Go!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope all of you celebrating today enjoy good company and good food and have a good nap with a full belly.  We're celebrating with family today and will be hosting our Thanksgiving dinner on Monday.  Drumstick up there has a few days reprieve, but he looked a little sweaty and nervous this morning.

I made a pumpkin and cream cheese jelly roll for today's meal and thought I'd share the recipe.  It has enough pumpkin flavor to be festive, but not so much that it's overwhelming.  I sprinkled on a little powdered sugar and made some marzipan acorns to top it off.

I hope you enjoy it.

1 c. all purp. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or allspice or nutmeg, etc.)
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs at room temp
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. canned pumpkin
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Cream cheese frosting:
12 ounces (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese at room temp
2/3 c. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. toasted pecans chopped

1.  Heat oven to 375.  Line a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 jelly-roll pan with waxed paper and coat with oil/shortening/spray.

2.  Combine flour, baking powder, spices, and salt in a small bowl.

3.  Beat eggs in a large bowl on medium speed for 2 minutes or until they thicken slightly.  Beat in sugar, a tablespoon at a time.  Continue beating until very thick and lemon-colored, about 5 to 7 minutes.  On lowest speed, beat in pumpkin until blended.  With a rubber spatula, foldin flour mixture in 2 batches and spread evenly in pan.

4.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.  Generously sieve powdered sugar over a clean kitchen towel.  When cake is done, loosen edges and invert onto towel.  Remove the waxed paper and sprinkle the cake with additional powdered sugar.  From a short end, roll up the cake in jelly roll fashion and cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

5.  Prepare filling;  beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl for 5 to 8 minutes or until creamy.  Stir in toasted pecans.

6.  Unroll cake.  Spread with filling.  Reroll without the towel.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy some cake.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday

Today's wordless Wednesday needs a little explanation.  See, while the photo isn't much to look at, you should see this in the dark. 

This morning as hubby was stoking the woodstove in the dark, he pulled a piece of bark off of this log and beneath the surface was a light show, given off by luminescent fungus, sometimes known as foxfire.  It was glowing like a little runway down the entire length of the log.  So cool!  It makes me want to pull the bark off of all the dead trees in our tree pile one night to see how many other have this under their skins. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Acorn Assortment

I had hoped to photograph all of the different acorns that felli in our forest this year, but life got busy and I didn't quite finish my goal. I had taken these early in the fall, which is why everything looks so lush and green, and after reading a fun comment from someone who entered last week's giveaway I was reminded that I had a few pics to share.  She had said that the European acorn didn't have such a nice head but that they were compensated because their squirrels have tufts on their ears.  :D  It made me giggle, and made me wish our squirrels had tufts on their ears.

I've often wondered how people picture acorns in their heads.  After making so many wool acorns, I realize I make acorns in a style that is familiar to me, but that may look disproportionate to others. 

So how do acorns look to you?  Does anyone have acorn pics they'd like to share with me?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Acorn Mushroom Ornament Tutorial

If you find this, or one of my other tutorials, helpful and would like to make a monetary contribution to help me keep wool in my basket and ideas flowing, I'd be so grateful.  By clicking the "Buy Now" button below you can choose your own price for the tutorial.  It's completely optional, but oh so appreciated.


Here's an earthy little ornament project for you to try.  The boys and I had fun making these and wanted to share them with you.

What you'll need:

  • acorn caps without stems
  • twigs cut into lengths of about an inch
  • glue (we used wood glue because that's what we had, but something like Tacky Glue would work better)
  • cotton balls
  • a toothpick or other pointy tool
  • hemp, twine, or ribbon (if you intend to make hanging ornaments)
  • drill or dremel tool (if you intend to make hanging ornaments)

Flip your acorn cap upside down and put a generous dollop of glue in it.  Let the glue set up for a few minutes until it starts to get a bit tacky.  This will help your twig stay upright a little better. 

We put our caps in an egg carton to keep them steady, and to contain glue spillage.  (after all, my helpers are a bit messy)

When your glue has set up a bit, insert a piece of twig into the acorn cap.

Unroll a bit of cotton from your cotton ball and using the toothpick, poke it around the stem into the glue.  The boys really liked this part because they thought they were needle-felting.

Allow your mushroom to dry, and voila!  An adorable little mushroom!

If you'd like to make a hanging ornament, drill a hole in the top of cap and thread through a piece of hemp, twine, ribbon, etc. and repeat the same process.

I think these will look great tied on a package or hanging in the Christmas tree this year.

The boys and I had a little fun hiding some of these in the woods.  You can see some of those pics here on my flickr page.



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