Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Sleepy Trio & Hat & Mitten Set

Is this a tired bunch or what? Big Brother, Corey, and two of his favorite little sisters, Kierra and Caressa, sneaking in some cuddle time.

A hat and mitten set all set for wrapping for Cassidy. I used the same basic pattern as the previous hat but without the ear flaps and ties. The blue, textured yarn is a beautiful hand-dyed, handspun creation gifted to me from my friend in CA. The mitten pattern is the same as the mittens I made for Kierra. I'm making good progress at Christmas gifts but have several more to go...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I'm Thankful For...

My hubbie and kiddoes! Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bumble Bee Bagz Shop Open!

My blogging buddie, Christina, has just opened her new shop of beautiful hand-made bags. She had a give-away recently and guess who WON! That's right, yours truly! The hardest part was to decide which bag with matching wallet and key fob I wanted. Decisions, decisions. Hop on over and take a peek at her creativeness! Click my side bar at Bumble Bee Bagz, grab a cup of coffee/tea and enjoy her new shop!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A New Coat for Caressa

I thought a new coat for Caressa was in order so my last trip to Joann's my arms were cuddling some nice soft fleece and flannel. Seeing that the coat only uses two pieces I thought it would be a piece of cake. Well, it was fairly easy, but a bit confusing with the turning and layout. But it's O.K., as the jacket looks real cute on her and it came out really good. I still have to sew the bunny buttons on tonight as I watch Mrs. Minniver! The pattern can be bought at It's called the Wonder Jacket.

And the model herself. She said, "Mommy did you make me a jacket because you love me?" I said, "Yup, but if I didn't know how to sew you'd just have to be happy with all the kisses instead". Then I got rewarded with lots of giggles.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gifts, Soap Recipe & Meter Reading Results!

Gee, here in the photo, the hat looks kind of weird, but in person it doesn't, honest! The blue triangle you see is one of the ear flaps. It has one on the other side, too, just can't see it. You probably already knew that though :)
I've been busy knitting and making Christmas gifts for awhile now. Above is a hat and mittens I made for Kierra. I got her a light blue jacket this year for Christmas, too, and I thought this would look cute with it. The pattern for the hat is Morning Glories by Woodsmoke Woolworks. I changed it up just a bit as when I started it there were too many color carry-overs for me. The yarn kept tangling and it got me irritated (which is NOT a good thing!) so I undid it and did only two colors for the patchwork. I'm happy with the way it came out and plan on making two more hats using the same basic pattern but switching it up a bit. The flowers on it are just adorable!
The mittens are from a free pattern I got on-line. You can find them here: A very basic, easy mitten pattern and they came out nice, too.

I made each of my nephews, 26 and 21 a set of three washcloths and home-made soap.
I made two different kinds: lavendar and rose. I used crushed lavendar from my friend's garden, and crushed roses from my garden. I also used essential oils to scent them. They are wonderful. I used Lionbrand Organic Cotton for the washcloths and they are unbelievably soft. I think they'll like them.

We have been using the same soap recipe now for hmmm... about 10 years. Wow, where does time go? Anyway, you can make it with or without molds. I just bought these molds but for the past ten years have been using a wooden box my hubby made and then I usually just cut the bars.

Soap Recipe - Two Pound Batch
9.6 oz. coconut oil
9.6 oz. olive oil (or vegetable oil)
15.2 oz. palm oil (or Crisco)
12.8 oz. water
4.8 oz. red devil lye (this is only pure lye)
Optional: 3 oz. of butter (shea, mango, cocoa)
2 oz. of grain such as blenderized oatmeal or 1 oz. clay)
2 - 3 oz. of fragrance or essential oil
Mix oils (not essential oil) into a pan (stainless steel to be used for soap only) and heat slowly 'til just melted. Remove from heat. Put water in a glass Mason jar and add lye to the jar. DO IN THIS ORDER! MUST BE DONE OUTSIDE IN A WELL-VENTED AREA! Mix with a metal or stainless steel spoon. It will heat up on its own. Wait until it cools until it reaches 110 degrees (about a half hour). At this point the oil should be about the same temperature. Use a hand-held stick mixer and blend the lye solution into the oils and keep mixing. Once it starts to gel up a bit, then add in your essential oils. Mixture should be thickend up and pour into mold and leave for three days. Then remove from molds and let dry out. Cut if necessary. Let soap dry for about three weeks.
Lye is very hard to get now. You can purchase it on-line from Bramble Berry, but be forewarned.. you pay twice the amount for shipping as for the product!

Meter Reading Results
Well, this was interesting (and still is) as I plan on continueing this little adventure for a while. We spend about $5.00, more or less, a day on electricity. I'm trying to lower that. We did lower it a bit yesterday as I walked around half the day turning off lights. I also unplugged a few things, like the iron, treadmill and sewing machine. I only use those items once a day, so I guess it won't kill me to plug and unplug them. I'm also hanging my laundry down the cellar instead of outside as the weather is just too cold for the laundry to dry out there. I still don't mind, though, as I find that hanging laundry is very relaxing to me. It kind of reminds me of when I was little... my mom always hung out her laundry (and still does) and I used to hand her the clothes. When I got older I would hang and take down the clothes too, as even then, I enjoyed the task. So, I'll keep trying to find ways to cut my electric bill. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments section as I will give nearly anything a try at least once!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Read the Meter

Rhonda, over at Down---to---Earth blog (see sidebar) has a challenge going to lower our usage and utility costs. I've decided to join her in an effort to lower our electricity usage and costs. If you pay for water, then you can do that, too. We have a well, so we won't be doing that portion. Anyway... we've read the meter for three mornings in a row and average about 40kwh, which comes to about $4.90/day. Now we are going to try to conserve. (Hear that, kiddoes, CONSERVE! which means to TURN OFF THE LIGHTS and SHUT DOWN THE COMPUTERS!) For some reason, my kiddoes, and yes, all of them, seem to know how to turn on the lights, but by golly, no one knows how to turn them off! And computers, YIKES! we've got four going all day and night. Three of us shut ours down before bed, but Kyle... leaves his on all the time even when he's gone for his 12 hour shifts! Anyway, we're going to conserve over here at Berkshire Cottage. I'll keep you posted as to how it goes. If you decide to join in, visit Rhonda's wonderful blog and leave her a comment. She'll be happy you joined!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

He Always Did Like Things That Fly in the Sky...

and he still does. A pic of my son, Kyle, doing some clinical time on Life Star. He's on the roof of Yale New Haven Hospital after a patient transport.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Day at the Park & a Bunting, Too!

Lots of play going on here today. First the park, then the sewing machine!

Ta-Daaaa... it's finished. A cute-as-can-be bunting for my friend's soon-to-be-born grandson. Ultrasounds are great for craftiness, aren't they? Can you guess what team his mom and dad are fans of?

Kierra was doing some climbing before she knew I had a camera in my hand!

Caressa having some slide-time fun!

Cassidy and Kaleigh on the see-saw. What happened to the real see-saws where half the fun was jumping off so your partner hit the pavement REALLY hard? Remember how funny that was, as long as you weren't the one hitting the pavement?


O.K., sometimes I like to play at the park, too! Just need to remember to watch my head in those tight spots, ya know?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Convertible Mittens

You can't see it too closely but this is a shot of the front and back of the mitten. If you click the pic to enlarge, then maybe you can see the ribbing on the right one (underside) and how the other mitten (top)is like a regular mitten.

Convertible Mittens... have you ever seen these? They're quite ingenious. At least I thought so until I showed them to my hubby and he said, "oh, yea, hunting gloves". Huh? Hmm... just coincidence. Then as I was showing them to my mom, my dad peered over and said, "oh, those are like hunting gloves". So, I guess they're like hunting gloves. O.K., maybe in design, but these are much cuter. And softer.
I made these for a Christmas gift out of Three Irish Girls hand-painted yarn. Everyone raved about this yarn and I got in on a co-op buy for it. It took several months to get it but, yup, it's worth the wait and the $$$. Very nice yarn! The pattern I got free from the net at The real name is called Women's Open Palm Mittens. Wonderful pattern, very well written and easy to understand. And the price... free... can't beat that!

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm Still Here...Kinda

Caressa found great joy in running in circles, laughing all the while...

I'm still here, although haven't posted lately. I've been busy with the kiddoes schoolwork, house projects, an organization routine and Christmas gifts. I am making some headway, although a lot still needs to get done. Just the dialy day-to-day work is at times, overwhelming.
At any rate, we've had a rainy, balmy week and the kids are still recuperating from their cold virus. It's been a long three weeks! It literally went through the house, except for me, Gary and Kyle.
As you can see, the littlies are tired of being stuck inside and have decided to rake up some wet leaves. I hope some sunshine comes our way soon. I need a day of sunshine, myself!
I have a crockpot full of baked beans that I started last night. Oh, they are goood! I'll make some fresh bread this afternoon and yogurt, too. It seems I'm running low on the necessities.
I've been working on a Household Binder that should help with my home running just a bit more smoothly. I'll share that project with you very soon... maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Easy Fleece Blankets

Count 'em; five blankets! One afternoon I was beginning to panic as I have a list of Christmas gifts I want to make and time is slipping by too quickly. I looked at the pile of fleece sitting in the corner of my room and thought I'd better get going. So I did one of the pink blankets myself, then Kaleigh asked if I wanted some help. Are you kidding? Of course I wanted help~! We finished the second pink blanket just before it was time to get supper going. After we finished dinner and clean-up we headed back to my room. No time for a walk that evening. We did the next three blankets in between a consultation, picking up Casey from work, and baths for the littlies. We finished about 10:30, but hey, they're done and ready to be wrapped. I did a few of those blankets two years ago and the receivers really liked them as they're soft and warm. So between the ones I did then and the ones this year, all my kiddoes will have their own 'blankee' to cuddle with while reading a good book or watching a good movie.