Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sugar Daddy Scrub

My sister Anna is notoriously difficult to shop for.  She has a birthday and nameday during late December, so all of us scramble to come up with three gift ideas.  She has one big addiction--Lush Cosmetics.  They make these luxurious bath bombs that I would love to attempt to knock off one day, but it seemed a little ambitious at this point.  (For those of you interested, try this recipe.)

I decided to start smaller and make a sugar scrub.  I found two different recipes ( this very simple one and this one, complete with clip art) from Martha Stewart, which gave me a good idea of the ingredients I'd need.  When it came to actually making it, I got a little creative and used what I had on hand.  Adding glitter was an impulsive choice.  It makes my sugar scrub more reminiscent of Lush products, which are often laced with unusual additions like pop rocks, biodegradable confetti, gold dust, and dried flowers.

You'll need:

a small glass container with a tight-fitting lid
enough brown sugar to fill the container
a small bottle (1 fl. oz) of scented bath oil (I used a travel-sized bottle of Burt's Bees body oil)
a few splashes of olive oil
loose body glitter (I used Wet n Wild)

Simply combine the sugar and some oil in a small bowl.  Cream them together, adding splashes of the oils until the mixture resembles wet sand at the edge of the ocean.  Add in a copious amount of glitter.  Scrape into small glass container.  Done!

Don't forget to wrap it fabulously.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yarn Along!

Years ago, my friend Suzie gave me a copy of her favorite book, Green Dolphin Street, which is now out of print.  She scours used book shops for it and rescues any volumes she finds.  I've finally delved into it, and only wish I had done so sooner.

I've been working on two projects simultaneously--the Puerperium Cardigan and some baby booties for Juliana of A Stamp A Day.  I carry the booties in my purse and knit them exclusively while at work, but the cardigan for my baby is my dessert knitting.  I usually wind up knitting it in bed after we've washed the dishes, folded the laundry, and generally done our duty.
Every stitch is a total joy because of this gorgeous yarn:
[Photo curtesy of]
This particular skein is from a different era in my life--back when I would impulsively spend twenty dollars on a single skein of yarn without even an inkling of what it might become.  It was enough to take it home and dream of the possibilities.  Now that I live in the middle of nowhere, a trip to a yarn store is a rare pleasure, and that same twenty dollars is harder to come by.  My stash full of beautiful yarn is all the more precious to me now.  I am so glad I stocked up for leaner times.  (My sister Emily did the same thing before her babies came, only it was a Coach handbag in her case.)

Join our Yarn Along at small things!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Take me home tonight

I cast on for the Puerperium Cardigan (a free pattern by Kelly Brooker) right before the guys got here for movie night, then knit throughout Rat Race.  It calls for one skein of madelinetosh tosh dk, which I happened to have in a gorgeous shade called bloomsbury.  Depending on the buttons I find, it would work beautifully for a boy or a girl.
The thought of bringing my baby home in this sweater made me instantly start belting out "Take Me Home Tonight," by Eddie Money.  I just ignore the intended meaning of the song and imagine it's about Stormy:

Take me home tonight
I don't want to let you go til you see the light
Take me home tonight
Listen, honey, just like Ronnie sang:
Be my little baby

PS I strongly urge you to watch this video, keeping a sharp eye out for when he uses a saxophone as an air guitar, then rips off his shirt and...well, you'll have to see it to believe.  It's so worth it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Meet STORMAGEDDON.  We got our first glimpse today.  Alas, Stormy's legs were closed, so we don't know much more now.  I think s/he looks like a turtle.
Why STORMAGEDDON?  I'm glad you asked.  We consulted the Doctor, who speaks fluent baby.
He told us that our baby has already picked out a name:  STORMAGEDDON, DARK LORD OF ALL.  Stormy for short.
I think we have a little nerdling on our hands.
I made a second pair of maternity trousers from the same tutorial I used last time.  These turned out even better, as the stretchy ribbed jersey matches these French walnut corduroys almost exactly.  I can't wait to buy more wide elastic so I can try this technique out on a sad pair of black pants and some old skirts!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011


My kitchen table has been strewn with bright woolen felt, brassy glass beads, and scads of stuffing for days.  I'm obsessed with making these star ornaments from the Purl Bee:
I keep intending to branch out, but they're so addictive.  I think I'll make them until I run out of golden felt.  That should get me about 25 stars.  I'm halfway there.
But somewhere in there, I managed to lay the stars aside long enough to make a prototype of the little bird ornament from Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson.  

Though the instructions call for template plastic, I decided to make do with a scrap of swedish tracing paper and a postcard.
I sewed it by hand from a little muslin.  I love the idea, but I need to work on the execution quite a bit.  The poor thing looks like it's taking a nose dive when I hang it from the ribbon.
Here's a list of other ornament tutorials I'm hoping to try at some point:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Today is my nameday, so I woke up early and went to Liturgy at the monastery with Pete.  In the past, I've only been able to receive communion when it falls on a Sunday.  Living next door to monks comes in handy sometimes...
Pete gave me this little booklet last night as an early present.  I want to read the whole thing today.  It begins with her life, which by now I'm quite familiar with, but I always seem to find something new to focus on whenever I read it again. 
I also dug out this beautiful children's book I have about her life.  I bought it at the Saint Herman's Conference years ago.  I remember agonizing over whether or not I should spend the money, as I was an impoverished college senior and buying children's books was not exactly a priority.  I just had to have it though.  
It was written by a husband and wife, Dionysios and Egle-Ekaterine Potamitis.  Egle-Ekaterine illustrated it in a beautiful iconographic style that's unlike any other I've seen.  Yet while the illustrations are stunning throughout, I was also really impressed with the rich and detailed text.  It includes every facet of Saint Katharine's life.  Apparently they've done a number of other books, including the life of St. Christopher, the life of St. Dionysios, and a prayer book.  They all come in either English or Greek.   
And in honor of the Wednesday yarn along, here is my current knitting--a baby bootie.  Just a few more days until I'm a full 5 months along!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An Orange for Frankie

While subbing for an elementary school librarian, I came across this treasure of a book by Patricia Polacco.  Like many of her stories, An Orange for Frankie is a tale from her own family history.  
She begins by painting a picture of a large family that reminds me of my own--big and loving, yet poor.  In spite of that, they find ways to share what they do have with others.  
One of my favorite moments in the story was when Frankie secretly gives his Christmas sweater (which his sister knitted for him) to a shivering hobo.

As Christmas draws closer, the whole family worries for the father, who has gone off in search of Christmas oranges.  Though I want to go on, I think it would be best if I just say that this book is lovely.  I hope you can find it at a nearby library.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Under the Greenwood Tree

At Muiche's recommendation, I put Under the Greenwood Tree on our netflix queue.  It was absolutely charming.  Give the first 10 minutes a try:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Movie Night!

Though I'm not sure what we're going to watch this week, I know what we'll be eating!
Vegan chocolate chip cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar!  The good news is that the recipe is available online.  The one unusual ingredient is tapioca flour, which I happened to have, but if you don't, the website says cornstarch is a great substitute.
They are

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


After a few depressing excursions to buy maternity pants, I decided to try my hand at a DIY version.  Thanks to Modest Maven's Converted Maternity Pants Tutorial, I am now the proud owner of some stylish, comfortable, LONG ENOUGH maternity corduroy trousers!  I began with some dark mahogany Lands' End slim leg cords.  I love them so much that I own several pairs.
[Photo courtesy of]

They were my teaching uniform, and thanks to a belly band I bought at Target, I prolonged their use.  The problem was that the belly band made my pockets inaccessible, and it would slip and slide throughout the day.  I constantly needed to hike it up or down--not really a classroom-friendly endeavor.  I needed a permanent solution.  

I went on a pilgrimage to Joann's with PB right before Thanksgiving, where I found the necessary wide elastic and cotton/lycra fabric.  Bonus: it's ribbed just like the corduroy!  Then out came the seam ripper and off came the waistband.  Because I only have a basic sewing machine, I had to read up on how to sew knits without a serger.  The zigzag stitch seemed to do just fine.  Plus, the tutorial mentions how to reinforce the new stretchy waistband if you want it to be extra strong.
Now to do it all over again with a pair of my french walnut boot cut corduroys...

Monday, November 28, 2011

What's black and white and red all over?

I just finished off the dotty little penguin blanket with red binding, thanks to my sister Anna's advice.  She told me babies respond best to high contrast things because it helps their little eyes develop.  Take that, sickly pink and powder blue!  This color combination is so classic that it'll work for both boys and girls.  
And yet I love it so much that I just might keep it for myself...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

twist collective: winter 2011

The new Twist Collective came out!  While this issue is full of gorgeous knitting patterns, as always, I fell in love with the dramatic, luminous, jewel-toned skirts featured in the first few pages.

Just when I thought they couldn't get more gorgeous, this photo reveals the brilliant tulle beneath.  It's so...juicy.

[All photos were stolen shamelessly from the winter 2011 issue of Twist Collective.  They were all taken by Jane Heller and can be found in the original here.]

Friday, November 18, 2011


I've been spinning up the 4 oz. of lovely deep blue merino roving I bought at A Verb for Keeping Warm on our trip to California.  The colorway is called "Baltic."
I knit it right off the drop spindle, which I'm pretty sure is a no-no.
It was supposed to be a cowl, which I figured was the perfect way to use up every single bit of yarn.
But then I plopped it on my head and now I think it might be a hat.
Help me decide!  And then I can spin up that bump of pink and make the opposite.