Cuddle With the Color of the Ocean

Oh, the virtues of a brandy new bag of yarn, delivered effortlessly to your door in winter!

AAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Plymouth Encore Light Blue Grey, welcome to the family!  You will become an afghan for my tired, cold Mommy bones and I will snuggle under you at the end of countless frigid days to come.

What do you think of the color, mateys?

I am in LOVE with blues and reds, which is no surprise, since these are the colors which create purple. 

Purple was my muse growing up.  I’ve since expanded my affections further into the rainbow…  But these have a special place in my heart. 

I can hardly wait to feel this project take shape in my fingers as I cuddle with the color of the ocean.

(p.s. Two Tuesdays from now I will post my February Centerpiece!  Working on yours yet?  Get on it!  Go out in your backyard and find something for your table!  Creativity is tested in winter, and you can do it.  Email me a picture or two and I’ll post yours alongside mine.  GO!)

Needles Gone Wild

Sunday morning I woke from a dream in which I was rescuing swimmers from sharp-toothed alligators.  No murky waters can stop ME!  Beware, dangerous creatures of the deep.

My life isn’t really THAT exciting.  I’ve only skinny dipped once.  Squirting Ready Whip directly into my mouth feels sinful and awesome.  And I’ve never rescued anyone from any dangerous animal, that I can remember.  Does squashing ants count?

I remember once, long ago, thinking, “Knitting is for wimps and little old ladies.”

I also remember thinking, “I’ll never like cooking.  And gardening’s right up there too.”

Ah, well…  I had some growing up to do.  I still do.  But now I at least give things a try before poo-pooing them.  Usually.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be Crocodile Dundee…but I am a knitter.

Funny.  I keep discovering things I once poo-pooed that are ENORMOUSLY fun!  There is a wide window for creativity with knitting, as I’m finding with a star pattern right now.

I made a Knit Star for my son Quinn to chew.  It’s a little more like a pillow than the Christmas ornament it was meant to be originally.  Heh heh.  Darn yarn weight…

I enjoyed working the pattern so much, I’m doing it again and making it into a wall hanging.  Each picture in this post is part of the process.  When I have a few free minutes, I sit with two double point needles, a pair of scissors and a crochet hook, and work a very light, thin yarn. 

One by one, star points come off my needles.  I’ve made so many now that I can start stitching them together into a radial design – sort of an expanding, exploding star.  I’ll update you as I go. 

My goal is to fill our home with beautiful handmade things that show my love for our family, and my absolute ADDICTION to creativity.

Just for the record, if I had to, I’d wrestle an alligator for anyone in my family.  I bet you would for yours, too.  And we’d give ’em a good poke in the eye with a needle, too.

Mick Dundee and the Pin Cushion.  Check your local movie theater listings.

January Centerpiece Challenge!

Here it is!  January’s centerpiece challenge, a dare to find anything creative and potentially attractive in the cold outdoors, is under way.

Kimberly from RI shared pictures of her center-masterpiece, focused around a log which her husband cut and drilled.  I love not only the main piece, but the bowls of red apple candles and pinecones on either end.  Ah, symmetry!  Love, love, love.

When I look at that picture, I can hear the chatter and giggles of my nieces and nephews!

See the scones in that shot?  Those are the Better-Than-Starbucks Scones.  Thanks for the recipe, Kimberly!

Here’s another angle, capturing her devotions in a cozy spot at the table:

I’ve decided that I may surprise her at breakfast one day – just show up with my napkin tucked in to my collarEverything she makes looks good! 

Kimberly did warn me that the log, which I believe is birch, burns very easily.  If you try this, keep an eye on the candles.  🙂

What a great idea, right?  So simple and really beautiful.  I visited her home while this was on the table, and it was inviting and gorgeous.  Nice work!

I’ll share mine with you also, although it looks a little bizarre for January.

Shells?  In January?

We live close enough to the New England coast that seagulls often fly over our backyard.  We used to have a tall clump of rabid lilac bushes which have been recently…er…put down.  Under the wreckage, we found LOTS of shells. 

The shells lived with golf balls, and old china, and metal pipes.  People are weird.

My January centerpiece contains items which transport me to summerland.  I need that now…

I kept the shells “moving” as they progress toward a wine bottle oil lamp.  There has to be light in there somewhere!

 

A hidden golf ball keeps people “behind” the piece involved, and no matter where you sit, you can see shells.

The wood was out in the yard, too.  Just showed up one day.  It smells like a campfire and makes me feel like we’re living in a lodge.  January?  SucCESS!  🙂

If you planned to submit your January pictures but missed the deadline, don’t worry!  There will be a February Challenge, too!  Get on it!

I Challenge You To a Duel

Reheated cup of coffee, steaming.  Open bag of chocolate chips (naughty, naughty).  Nikon D40 memory card.  Heating pad.  Time to blog.

Then I’m sprinting upstairs, taking the steps two at a time as quietly as I can.  My 6 month-old is screaming, less than 1/2 an hour into his nap.  I must try to get him resettled before he wakes my 21 month-old, who is sleeping peacefully across the hall.

And here I am again.  This will be a short post, and I thought you deserved to know why.

I got the big end of the stick on this one, folks.  Burying my face in the sweetly perfumed downy hair of my snoozing son, I remembered with delight: Blogging comes second to my offspring.  I love them so much. 

And my computer doesn’t giggle or smell nice.

Today’s post, therefore, is simply a challenge: Put me to shame!  It’s time for the January Centerpiece Challenge.  🙂

Go outside and find the fixin’s for an amazing winter centerpiece.  Mine is going to be pretty sweet.  However, I feel a little ashamed…  One of the key elements of my piece doesn’t seem like it should be outside during winter.

But it was.

Yours will be cooler – so please, send me an email with a photo of your creation!  I will post mine (and yours) next Tuesday, when you can kick me up and down the street with your creativity. 

If you missed the December Centerpiece Challenge, take a gander.  I had fun.  November wasn’t too shabby either.

I have now consumed an inordinate amount of chocolate chips and must go do housework to burn off the calories.  See you.

A Star To Chew

When we brought home a new ornament for Quinn’s first Christmas, I noticed something:

He’d rather chew it than watch it dangle somewhere above his head.  Surprise.

The store-bought, knit star had 3 glued-on wooden buttons.  Gorgeous touch.  Nice choking hazard.  Plan B.

I decided to knit a star for my little reindeer (here he is…)

…Dasher, Dancer, Prancer…and Cuteypie.

Anyway, I decided to knit a star for Cuteypie the Reindeer to chew to his heart’s content.  I found a very easy online pattern.  Here’s the link:

http://dutch-blue.blogspot.com/2008/02/knitted-star_07.html

If you’re a knitter, eat your heart out!  You can make this pattern any way you want, using any yarn weight and needle gauge to produce your desired size.  I made Quinn’s with left over worsted weight in three shades of blue:

The star tips and center are made with a mock bullion stitch, borrowed from crochet.  The stuffing is an old sweater, cut into small pieces.  If I make another one for a baby, I’ll use a lighter weight yarn.  But this one came out so beautiful, I have no regrets.

This, by the way, was made during our hurricane-inspired night-time reading sessions.  Yesterday’s post will tell you all about that if you missed it.

What could be better than a handmade gift?  But there’s no reason for putting away your crafting things just because Christmas is over…

The whole winter stretches out ahead of us, beckoning with hot chocolate fingers: make something new

I’ve already started making individual star pieces with fingering weight yarn, lace-like and delicate.  These will become a wall hanging for our bare, echo-ey dining room.  Something to warm it up and give it that homey, artsy touch I love so much.  I’m just making a bucket-full of them and seeing what comes out.

Do you have any interesting winter projects going on or coming up?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments! 

Have a wonderful, warm day.  🙂

December Centerpiece Challenge

Each cold month this year, I’m challenging myself (and YOU) to create a dining room table centerpiece using mainly natural objects from outside.  No cheating!  If it’s something you found outside in August, it doesn’t count.

Anything you find outside now can be used – from sticks to stones to pieces of yard waste!  This challenge is being issued because I am fighting with all my might against the grey, bleak, boring attitude I usually adopt toward winter.  It’s still a time of beauty, and I want to learn to recognize it.

Here is my December centerpiece:

My goal was to keep it Christmasy, thinking about Jesus as the Light of the World, but looking for something unlikely at the center. 

After all, a baby is an unlikely form for the Savior to come in, right?

I found dried echinacea blossoms right outside our window, still containing last season’s seeds.  Those will be getting scattered strategically outside later.  🙂 

The echinacea is tied with dried, wilted…something.  You know the papery green ornamental grasses that homeowners love to plant?  That stuff. 

There’s also some oak leaves in there (I LOVE rusty Fall colors).  And naturally, surrounding it all, is a big puff of white pine needles. 

These have been very carefully tucked in around the candles so that nothing ignites while we’re eating chicken.

The tea lights, looking very cool, are actually not the greatest idea I ever came up with.  Courting candles have this wood piece that you move up the spiral as the candles burn lower. 

That wood piece starts smoking when it gets too hot.  Oops.  The tea lights haven’t been lit in a while so that nothing ignites while we’re eating soup.

But there seemed to be plenty of light without those: The two long tapers which have been burning for meals all through the Christmas season; and three small candles in the middle, sitting in red and amber glass.

That’s it for me.  What can you find outside?  If you send me a picture, I’ll post it when I do my January Challenge.  Just watch out for flammable things if you’re using candles, so that nothing ignites while you’re eating oatmeal.

ps. I’ll include your name and city/state/country or any of those that you choose.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Stockings On a Stick

In the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, I’d wake with a start, and get a familiar warm feeling in my belly.  Sliding down a few inches under the covers, I searched until my toes hit something squishy.

*crinkle*

MY STOCKING!!!

The older I got, the bolder I got.  Sometimes I just sat up in bed and felt the wrapped packages for size, weight, shakeability, and sugar potential.  Sometimes I’d gingerly unwrap one or two before guilt consumed me and I’d flop back down on the pillow.

Ah, Christmas.

When we were done opening our stockings on Christmas morning, the sisters always made trips to each other’s rooms.  What did YOU get?  Look at THIS!!!

My older sister Kimberly had usually been up for a hour or so already, showered, made her bed, and had devotions.  I was still picking sleepies out of my eyes and trundling around in a bathrobe, mouth full of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups.  The bed could wait.

Nowadays, Kimberly still has it together.  She will laugh hysterically when she reads this, but it’s true.  I have the pictures to prove it!  If you’re looking for a creative way to display your stockings before Daddy Santa and Mommy Claus fill them, here you go:

What could be more graceful and simple than stockings on a stick?

These are attractively displayed over the wide downward staircase between her kitchen and living room.  The perfect spot: Every time the kiddos walk by it, they can do a little happy dance inside and count down the days again until Christmas.

Here’s another look:

Why all the commercial noise and confusion surrounding Christmas?  It’s meant to be a simple time of remembering Jesus and sharing our love with one another.  I felt drawn into the spirit of Christmas when I looked at the Family Stocking Stick.

I’m not sure they call it that.  But it seemed fitting.  Kimberly, you are so ridiculously creative, a wonderful Mom and a godly woman.  I’m inspired by you every time I come to your house.  Thanks for letting me share these photos.  You’re a good sport.  🙂

Merry Christmas, everyone!

November Centerpiece Challenge

Now and then on Studio Tuesdays, I like to delve into home decorating.  It is an art form in itself.  And though I am not Martha Stewart or whoever the next guru of “good things” is, I can manage to get a smart-looking table up if I need to.

A while back, I learned that my Mother took a flower arranging class in college.  One of their assignments was to create a winter bouquet, using only what they could find in the cold, bland outdoors.  I was intrigued. 

Winter tends to take some of the twinkle out of my eye, being colorless and long…  But it doesn’t need to!  There’s beauty everywhere and all year round.  I am challenging myself – and YOU – to make a monthly centerpiece this winter.  One for November, one for December, etc.  We might be surprised by what we’ll find.

The only limitation is this:  Keep the focus on the thing(s) from outside.  Sure, add a piece of ribbon, a candle, or a vase.  But using one leaf to adorn a completely indoor display doesn’t count.  🙂

For my November piece, I went about as simple as possible:

We have an errant trumpet vine that’s trying to eat our garage like a boa constrictor.  I lopped off a section of it (yard work at the same time – look at me go!) and twisted it into a loose wreath. 

To this I added a tiny bow made out of a gift wrap ribbon I’d saved.  I am a fanatical packrat, and it does come in handy.

Lately I’ve been keeping a ceramic pitcher full of water on the table 24/7.  It’s cold enough in the house now that the water stays nice and cool, and it reminds me to drink up!

(Incidentally, look at the photo below.  Do you see a face in the pitcher?  I noticed one on the upper left of the pour spout.  Looks like a charcoal cartoon of some Charles Dickens character.  It’s not my reflection.  I promise.)

The vines seemed like the perfect complement to something functional, and a great way to dress up the table without burdening my eyes.  I love simplicity, like the lines of the vine shadows – quietly stunning.

What can you come up with from the cold outdoors?

Even if it’s not cold where you live, take the challenge.  It will probably only require 10 minutes of your day to put together an inviting centerpiece – something that shows your family or friends that you thought ahead about sharing the table with them.

This is also a great opportunity for getting your kids involved with the homemaking arts.  Could they help you collect leaves, sticks, acorns, or ivy?  Kids have wild imaginations.  Let them loose!

If you’d like your creation displayed on The Full Vine, take a picture of it, and email it to me at thefullvine@yahoo.com.  I’ll include any photos I receive in the December Centerpiece Challenge post.

Have fun! 

This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it. 

Psalm 118:24

Free and Funky: Green Bean Wreath

Wreaths make me drool.  Especially the viney ones, all interwoven with ribbon and twine and looking like birds’ nests. 

The only problem is that they cost more than a visit to the dentist for a gold tooth.

So… PASS.

My older son, Riley, was cruisin’ the backyard the other day, and made me a special gift of one of my green bean vines.  Thank you, dear!  How lovely…

Then it hit me.  These really ARE cool looking, aren’t they?  They ARE vines, right?  And then, as he wandered from garden to hose to sandbox to bouncy ball to deck to picnic table, to plants, to puddles and mud pits, etc etc etc, I began cleaning out my garden and turning it into free, funky decorations.

Obzoiv.

A whole bunch of leafy, half-dead vines twisted together and tied with twine can become:

A perfectly good wreath for which I paid ZILCH.

Granted, I tied it with twine, but we had that on hand anyway.  Little by little I’m trimming off wilty leaves, like the ones on the bottom left.  Look at that.  Live sculpture.

So pretty…

…whimsical…

and free.

May my son’s boisterous enthusiasm for the outdoors inspire you to see the possibilities in your own backyard.

Inspired Shoestrings: Instruments, Etc

For those of us who don’t shop at Pier 1 or Crate Barrel with any sort of regularity, here is a series on decorating with imagination.  Shopping at Salvation Army (or better yet, shopping from your own basement) may not be incredibly glamorous – but it’s incredibly satisfying.

Inspired Shoestrings, Part 6: Instruments, Etc

Each post in this series has had one thing in common: decorating with things from your own home, showing your own personality and flair.  For Jon and I to do that, we must use music.

Bass, piano, guitar, bits of cello and percussion, and singing are often heard in our home.  Naturally, instruments are everywhere.  Our house has a good number of rooms, but they’re the small rooms of the typical old colonial. 

Hm.  Where to put all those instruments?

My super handy hubby nailed hooks to our living room wall, and….PRESTO!

Who needs framed art?  Playable art is more like it.  🙂

All you have to do is grab this sucker, sit on a speaker or something nearby, and croon.

Or play bass if you’re feeling just a little bit cooler.

It’s hard to hang a cello on the wall, though.  So that sits next to the coffee maker.

Maybe the caffeine will inspire my fingers to play well.  Or not.  It looks pretty though.

If you’re not into music, what else could you hang on your wall?  What couldn’t you? 

One of my favorite movies is The Interpreter, starring Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman.  Kidman’s character grew up in Africa and collected ceremonial masks.  These are hung in her apartment alongside photos of her homeland.  It’s one of the most beautiful and inviting sets I’ve seen – simple and unified, clearly showing her interests.

What are you into?  What’s lurking in your basement, unused and full of potential?  What’s growing in your yard?  It’s time to get creative!

Well, I hope this series has inspired you to try something new or repurpose something old around your house.  I never imagined how much fun it would be to have a place of my own to fill up, mess up, clean, and repeat. 

Hope you’re having fun out there too!  🙂