Knitting from the Soule

I took a well-deserved day off on Friday, which just happened to be an unseasonably warm day full of blue skies and cool breezes.  Calculated?  You bet.

I dropped my sewing machine off for it's (eh-hem, overdue) annual tune-up.  And what I found is that crossing over the threshold of the sewing shop is similar to stepping into a confessional.  I admitted that my machine is chocked-full of lint from fleece, felt, felted sweaters, and terry cloth towels.  "Father forgive me for I have sewn."  LOL.  An employee at the store was trying to sell me on the concept that I really should purchase a second machine so that I don't experience separation anxiety.  Seriously?  If I purchase a second machine = spend a few thousand dollars = Ben will be purchase a second motorcycle = spend a few more thousands of dollars. Thank you, but NO thank you.

Once I left Tomorrow's Treasures, I ventured over to Michaels to pick out some yarn, and later that night, I searched Soule Mama looking for both a pattern and a handful of Amanda's mad knitting energy. I found the perfect pattern on Ravelry*. It's called the Hurricane.  Check out the motion within this hat.   
And I was so inspired by the pattern, that I captured some of that mad energy and finished the hat off in no time.  It's perfect for a Salty Dog or two. 

*If you don't know what Raverly is and you knit, you must check it out.  It is the most amazing site to store and to share patterns with others!


More than Music

Back on February 1st, Dig posted a request on Facebook, looking for creative ideals to keep her 2 kids entertained on a freaking cold day. 

Six below today. Taking ideas for creative indoor activity with two energetic kids. Go.
February 1 at 10:54am ·  · 

Many of us responded, but one comment in particular caught my attention.  "Spread a tablecloth on the floor, dump some dried beans out, and give them spoons, bowls, funnels, etc."  Me likey. It is simple, organic, and open-ended.  AND no batteries required (double-fist pump).

I added beans to my shopping list and spent a whopping $3 on a variety of bags, and dumped them into Alex's sunken table with a variety of spoons, cups, & funnels.  Seriously, it was toddler crack.  
Alex stood in the same spot intensely playing, scooping and pouring for 90 minutes.  

Unfortunately for a small bladder in training, I forced a well-deserved potty break on her.  Yes, there was a fit of separation anxiety, so a funnel made the trip to the potty with us.

Now my husband hates the beans because of the mess factor.  His solution: the vacuum.
My solution: purchase more dried beans. And to make it perfectly clear, I will win this battle of the wills. Subtlety of course.

The activity is still captivating Alex's attention over a week later.  And we've progressed from measuring and pouring to "make believe" eating and even bathing Elmo and her stuffed horse in beans. 
Beans are proving in our household to be much more than a musical fruit, but no less entertaining.



I. Heart. This.

Oh Valentines Day. It comes and goes like blood rushing through a heart. It's one of those holidays that I grappled to understand for years: a singular day to express one's appreciation and affection. Seriously? Why not make everyday an opportunity to show one's admiration instead of one stinking day? Ben & I used to joke about February 14th being the ultimate Hallmark Holiday, and coined it "Volunteer's Day" - you need a volunteer to have a Valentine. Right? Right.

But when you have a child and that little soul makes you fall in love even deeper with the one you originally loved, well...I get it. I changed. I am changing. And as love gushes in and out again and again, so does the glitter and the colored paper and the cookie dough and the red hots.

The crafting has been constant for the past few weeks, but it's a good distraction from the saturating grey of winter.

Alex spent hours fiddling with (kid) scissors, glue, glitter, and glitter glue pens.

And I was inspired by my dear friend Cindy to create crayon hearts for our friends. What a terrific project for kids under 10 years old. Alex and I enjoyed both the process of destroying crayons and watching new ones evolve. 

And I took an evening to revamp a hooded towel for a Salty Dog who has a healthy-sized noggin.

And speaking of that D-O-double G, he is so cute at 13 months and signing his little head off. Warning to all, when Nate asks for more food, give it to him! Don't question the ingested volume; just hand it over and step aside.

What I enjoyed not doing this holiday? Making breakfast. I love watching Alex and her Dad make pancakes together. They make a great team. And oh, how he loves her.

What I did enjoy? Cooking. And my seasonal favorite is roasted Brussel Sprouts. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Clean. Cut in half. Toss sprouts in olive and season with kosher salt & pepper. Roast on a sheet for 35-40 minutes. Eat. Ben swears they are as good as candy.

I also enjoyed bouquets beaming with tones of chartreuse & white. Flowers give me inspiration and force me to think about spring and designing garden beds and educating myself about vegetable gardening.
Here's wishing all of you happiness and inspiration this week from the small details of your life. - J


Fantastic. Forty. Friends.

When you're happy like a fool

let it take you over.

When everything is out

you've got to take it in.

- Good Life by One Republic

Last weekend, I was washed away when my close friends threw a belated celebration for my 40th birthday. The theme of "Happiness is.."was woven into the event in a way that leaves me overflowing with emotions of gratitude, pride, love, and joy. And all of the moments were captured by my incredibly talented friend Jana Bannan.

Oh the details..seriously where to I start. The handmade decor ranged from personalized wine glass markers to place mats & napkin rings to embroidered aprons. And Shannon & Christina masterfully threaded color and theme through out the event. The party was a perfect melange of Anne-Taintor-takes-on-the-Barefoot-Contessa - a unique combination of humor, beautiful details, and flavorful dishes.

First of all, check out our personalized aprons. There was even one child-sized apron for Alex. Of course I realize that I’m wearing hers when my friends say, “Jen we know that you’re tall, but that’s ridiculous!” Yes, It looked like a micro mini.

Directed by Chef Steph, we all prepared the brunch of Porcini-Chestnut Soup, Spinach & Goat Cheese Frittata, Prosciutto-Wrapped Romaine Hearts, & Dulche de Leche Cheesecake Bars. The hostess Christina was thoughtful to incorporate my love of cooking into the day.

Making the Cheesecake bars proved to be the hardest task, seeing that most of us desired to eat the 8 cups of carmel instead of use it as an ingredient. I did notice that a few teaspoons happened to randomly fall into coffee mugs. But when those bars were served with a sprinkling of salt, oh baby, it was worth the wait!

The party flowed into the afternoon filled with portraits, Mimosa, and a degree of lounging.

This celebration was not about me, but about us, about the value of friendship. I am blessed. I am graced. And J’adore these strong, artistic, intelligent, funny, loving women (including those who were missing). They are my pillar & pillow when I'm raw & broken with loss. They are my inspiration. And they are an extension of the rapture & joy of my everyday life. My tribe.

"To love and to be loved is to feel the sun from both sides." - David Viscott

For now I bask in the warmth. Thank you Christina, Shannon, & Jana for blowing me away. I love you bunches.