Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Top Ten Tuesday: Specimen Box edition

It's Top Ten Tuesday and I've been avoiding my blog because I was totally uninspired as to what to write about in this week's Top Ten Tuesday. Then I read one of my favorite blogs, Dogged, and got sent to another new blog, Wise Craft, where I saw a lovely specimen box with paper butterflies in it. Ashley of Dogged made a lovely specimen box with yarn in it (Scroll down in linked post to see a picture of Ashley's specimen box). So, thus inspired, this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Top Ten Things I Wish I Could Preserve in a Specimen Box

10. Chocolate (so I always have an emergency stash)

9. My childhood nature collections (so I can remember how amazing the world really is)

8. Little Man's newborn feet (so I can always remember the awe I felt when I realized how amazingly tiny they were)

7. My "good job" moments from past jobs (so I can remember that even though I choose to be a stay-at-home mom I am a smart and successful person)

6. Patience (so I can pull it out next time my stranded project becomes a mass of tangled yarn or Little Man dumps his box of dominoes right after I finished cleaning them up for the upteenth time)

5. Myself, pregnant or nursing (so I can remember that once, very briefly, I had some nice curves)

4. My knitting firsts: first scarf, first sweater, first blanket, first softie, first stranded work (so I can see how much I've grown)

3. My "good mommy" moments (so I can pull them out when Little Man and I are having a rough and grumpy day)

2. My husband's love letters (so I can always remember the passion and naivety of our dating years)

1. Little Man's laughter (because it never fails to make me happy)

Edit: I forgot the sound of the ocean, a nice summer breeze, a night in during a great thunderstorm. There are so many wonderful things I would love to be able to preserve in a specimen box so I could have them whenever I needed them.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

My Battle with Intarsia

Intarsia. No, it's not a disease, an eating disorder or a small Eastern European country, it's the lovely colorwork technique which involves using different little "spools" of yarn for each patch of color. I've done some stranded work before which I really enjoy, but have just this week started my first piece that involves intarsia. Let's just say that intarsia was not originally my friend. In fact, first impressions were not very good at all.

The piece is a little giraffe pillow for my newest neighbor, our good friends' first baby. I altered the pattern slightly so I could put his name on it. Anyway, after multiple tries with the first stupid letter (I think I frogged those 9 rows at least 5 times), I had gotten this far:

Unfortunately, due to lack of sleep and the fact I was watching the horribly long, yet surprisingly uneventful, 2nd movie of the Pirates of the Caribbean threesome, I thought that I was doing a good job. But as you can see from the picture, I was NOT.

So I frogged back until all intarsia was removed and started yet again. With much better results.

So happy I took the time to redo. Intarsia and I might be friends yet.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

FREE PATTERN FRIDAY: Bathtime (?) Blanket Buddy v.1 Bessie

After being inspired by this photo on Flickr that was created from this free pattern, I decided to design my own blanket buddy. I decided to make my blanket buddy out of Sugar N' Cream cotton because it washes easily and I had some in my stash. Since I used the cotton (which is often used for dishcloths), I think this Blanket Buddy could also be a fun Bathtime Buddy.

Just a thought. I still need to test her out with Little Man in the tub. I'll let you know how that goes. I've done a garter stitch baby blanket that is knit from the corner and decided that would be an easy way to start this blanket buddy. It ends up that the free pattern maker had the same idea. I basically followed the original pattern (with a few minor changes) for the blanket portion, but started changing it when I got to the neck and head. I really wanted a seamless blanket buddy so I picked up stitches and started knitting in the round for the head. I also wanted a little more shaping so I tried some short rows on the face, but am not thrilled with the results. I was not originally aiming to make this buddy a cow, but that's just what she looked like with this particular head pattern. I wanted to pick up stitches for the ears and knit them directly on the head, but it wasn't working so I knit them separately and then attached them. I'm not 100% satisfied with this Blanket Buddy so there will probably be another version in the future when I need a break from sweaters and other larger WIP. Anyway, if you like how Bessie turned out, please feel free to use this free pattern. Let me know how it turns out or if you have any questions. Thanks!

Bathtime Blanket Buddy v. 1 Bessie

Yarn: Less than one skein of Sugar N' Cream Cotton or any worsted weight of your choice
Small amounts of other yarn for face details
Needles: Size 8 straight or circular, Size 6 double point
Tapestry needle
Small amount of stuffing for head

st = stitch
K = knit
P = purl
yo= yarn over
k2tog = knit 2 together
k3tog = knit 3 together
SSK = slip 1 as to knit, slip 1 as to purl, slip both stitches to left needle, knit together in back
SKPO = slip 1 as to knit, K1, pass slipped stitch over knitted stitch
WT = wrap and turn

wrap and turn directions (from Alexandra Virgiel's Pasha the Penguin pattern)
On a knit row: slip the next stitch purlwise, bring the yarn to the front of the work, and replace the slipped stitch back onto the left needle without twisting it. Turn the work around to begin working back in the other direction.

On a purl row: slip the next stitch purlwise, bring the yarn to the back of the work, and replace the slipped stitch back onto the left needle without twisting it. Turn the work around to begin working back in the other direction.

Pattern (Starting with the bottom of the blanket)
With larger needles, cast on 1 st.

Rows 1-6: Knit into the front and back of first st, knit to end of row. (7 sts at the end of row 6)

Rows 7-41: K3, yo , knit to end of row. (42 sts at end of row 41)

Rows 43-44: Cast on 12 sts for Paws, knit to end of row. (66 sts at end of row 44)

Rows 44-47: Knit

Row 48-49: Bind off 12 sts, knit to end of row. (42 sts at end of row 49)

Rows 50-63: K2, k2tog, yo, k2tog, knit to end of row. (28 sts at end of row 63)

Rows 64-65: K2, k2tog, yo, k3tog, knit to end of row. (24 sts at end of row 65)

Row 66: Switch to smaller needles, k3tog across row. (8 sts)

Row 67: Knit


*Pick up 8 stitches across the k3tog row using a second doublepoint needle (you will be able to see the tripled loops).

You will now have 8 stitches on your first doublepoint needle and 8 stitches on a second doublepoint needle. Begin knitting in the round.

Round 1: *K1, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, K4, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, K1* repeat. (20 sts)

Round 2: Knit

Round 3: *K1, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, K6, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, K1* repeat. (24 sts)

Round 4: Knit

Round 5: *K1, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, K8, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, K1* repeat. (28 sts)

Round 6: Knit

Round 7: *K1, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, K10, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, K1* repeat. (32 sts)

Round 8: K27, (begin short rows using wrap and turn method described at the bottom of the pattern), P6, WT, K6, WT, P6, WT, K6, WT, P6, WT, K6, WT, K5.

Rounds 9-12: Knit

Round 13: *K1, SSK, K26, k2tog, K1* repeat. (28 sts)

Rounds 14-15: Knit

Round 16: *K2, k2 tog* repeat across round. (21 sts)

Round 17: Knit

Round 18: *K1, k2tog* repeat across round. (14 sts)

Round 19: k2tog across round. (7 sts)

Cut yarn leaving a 6"tail. Using a tapestry needle, weave yarn through remaining 7 sts.

Add any desired embroidery for face. Fill head with stuffing. Pull yarn tight to close up 7 sts and weave yarn tail in.

Tie "paws" into knots.

Ear (Make 2)

Cast on 5 st.

Row 1: Knit

Row 2: K1, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, K1, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, K1 (7 sts)

Rows 3-10: Knit

Row 11: K1, SKPO, K1, k2tog, k1 (5 sts)

Row 12: Knit

Row 13: SKPO, K!, k2tog (3 sts)

Bind off.

Shape ears by folding in half and sew onto head where desired.

Hope someone enjoys making their own Bessie Blanket Buddy. Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback on this pattern. It would be much appreciated!

A Knitterly Confession

Although I have made three Wonderful Wallabies, a dozen Cable Raglan Cardigans, the Boogie Vest, ten or so baby blankets, and tons of hats and scarves, I have never blocked a thing. Well, I did use my iron on a steam setting to lightly "block" the baby cardigans, but that's it. There we go. My confession. Does this mean I'm not a "real" knitter?

My two on-the-needles WIP

Monday, July 23, 2007

Top Ten Tuesday: Naptime Edition

It's Top Ten Tuesday, again! As many of you know, I'm working from home these days. I feel like I'm off to a decent start, but I'm spending every moment of naptime (aka my free time) working on it. I'm also fitting in a little cooking and cleaning, but not as much as I should. I'm definitely not hitting Super Haley status just yet. I don't mind the work (It's kind of fun thinking up sentences like this: Jane will bake a cake in the shape of a plane), but there are so many other things I'd rather be doing. Thus, this week's topic:

Top Ten Things I'd Rather Be Doing During Naptime

10. Blogging. Love sharing my ideas and projects and everyone's comments are great for my ego. I love reading all the other great blogs out there. I love Julie and her great attitude toward knitting, motherhood, and life in general. I love Jared's amazing knits. I am amazed by his talent and creativity. Even his photographs are gorgeous! I love Erin and her funky, creative side that comes through in her posts. I love Maritza's eye for fabric and her humility. I loved Ashley first for her dog, but now love to read her blog and gaze lustfully at her sewn and knitted goodies. I love reading about the lives of other mom's too, like Lydee, Nova and Anny. I love all the blogs I've discovered like this one and this one and this one. Oh, and don't forget this one--she thinks she's a part of Days of Our Lives. Oh, just look at my list of "Where I Get My Fix." I can't possibly list them all.

9. Getting lost in Flickr and all the crazy things it has to offer. Where else can you find this and this and this for free and all in one spot?

8. Taking pictures. I really enjoy playing with my camera and taking lots of pictures. I love digital because I can take as many pictures as I want and not feel guilty about wasting films on ones that don't turn out. And I do take TONS of pictures. I took over 300 pictures during our one week beach trip--and those are just the ones I kept. Crazy, huh?
7. Reorganizing something in my house. Although you might never know it by looking at my house right now, I actually enjoy organizing my stuff and decluttering my home. It's been quite a while since I've slowed down long enough to do either. It's starting to drive me crazy. MUST GET RID OF SOME STUFF!
6. Talking with my sister. Well, I'd really rather be hanging out with my sister (my twin), but she lives in Virginia and I live in Ohio so that's not going to happen today. But I could be talking to her on the phone. It's hard to do sometimes between her two children and my one, but it's still lovely when we do get some good chat time. She'll always be my best friend. If only, I could convince her to knit then she'd be perfect.

5. Watching a good movie. I can honestly say that I like some of them almost as much as a good book. I'm not afraid to admit that I like chic flicks and I will rewatch a movie I like over and over. It's comforting to me. Although, despite my love of movies, I own very few. A little strange. One I do own and have watched dozens of times--French Kiss. Love it!

4. Reading. I'm actually a book-aholic. I love to read, but don't do it as much as I would like. The problem--time. And right now, the quest for a good book. I'm a slightly recovered book-aholic and now check them out of the library instead of feeling the need to own them all (although still if I read a really good book, I sometimes go out and buy it because I feel the need to own it.) Unfortunately, my method of simply walking through the library and grabbing random books off the shelf is not serving me well these days. No really good books recently. Any suggestions?
3. Hanging out with my boys at the park. Or the beach. Or pretty much any place I can have my husband, my sweet little man and some sun.

2. Eating chocolate or ice cream or better yet chocolate ice cream. My favorite pre-mommyhood treat--eating ice cream while taking a bubble bath. If you have some free time, I highly recommend it!

1. Knitting. Duh! I'd love working on a new pattern or an old favorite. There are so many fun patterns I want to try. There's never enough time in the day to knit everything I want to knit.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Day at the Park

Brian, Little Man and I spent the morning at the park.

We had a blast.

Although the swings (not pictured, it's hard to take a good swing picture) are still Little Man's favorite, he's starting to venture out more.

He even went through one of the tunnels for the first time today.

Happy Little Man mini-milestone!

A summer morning at the park with my honey and my little man. What could be better?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Finished! And a New Beginning...


"Finished what?" you ask. The new Harry Potter? Nope, no plans to buy it just yet, but I had to mention it as it's EVERYWHERE right now. Well, I finished my first phonics workbook so that's exciting. (Just to clarify, I just finished writing my first phonics workbook. I'm not a 30 year-old woman who sits around doing phonics workbooks. Actually, I'm not a 30 year-old woman at all, I'm 31, but that's besides the point.) I'm hoping the next one will go a little faster, but not bad for my first week working from home. I was worried that I wouldn't even get one done with Little Man's new one-nap schedule, but with a little extra time put in after he went to bed I managed to get it done. I even had a little fun doing it and managed to come up with one major idea to improve on the initial template my boss had designed. Go me! But let's not get too excited, I have lots more to go. Oh forget that attitude--go me!

And, even with all that work being done, I still managed to finish this:

My niece's Wonderful Wallaby. She's only two, but I went ahead and made the size 4. She's somewhat tall, but kind of thin. It's going to be big at first, but it should last her a little longer. Hopefully, it won't be too overwhelming on her.

This is my third Wonderful Wallaby and I really like the pattern (the actual pattern, not so much the way it is written--does that make sense?). Anyway, I did this one pretty much the same as the other two, but made a few minor changes. First, following the tricks that I learned by reading the Placket-Neck Pullover pattern from LMKG, I went ahead and connected the sleeves to the body as I finished them. This way I could skip the "transfer to holder" step. It's minor, but saved a little time. I also decided to do the three needle bindoff for the armpits. I've had issues with the armpits on my first two Wallabies. The holes on either side of the Kitchener keep opening up on Little Man's so I tried to do them extra tight on my nephew's--so his just ended up looking kind of wonky. I like how the three needle bindoff worked on this one. However, I still did the kitchener on the hood.

Doesn't it look nice? Love the kitchener! I'm not sure how to do the kitchener in seed stitch (the knit-with-waste-yarn-and-follow-the-path method just doesn't work for me) so I did garter stitch kitchener for the hood edging and then stockinette for the rest.

So long and short of this finished project:

Pattern: Wonderful Wallaby by Cottage Creations (Size 4)

Modifications: seed stitch for all edgings

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in Soft Blue

Needles: Size 6 and 8, doublepoint and 24" circular

Begun: July 7, 2007

Finished: July 19, 2007

Now I've begun working on this:

It's going to be a blanket buddy inspired by this photo I saw on Flickr that was made from this free pattern. I'm not sure what kind of animal mine is going to be yet, but probably not a rabbit. We will see. I have lots of ideas, but have no idea how they will turn out. More to come on this soon.

Happy Weekend, Everyone! Did I mention I'm finished!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My newest addictions

All my bloggers are on Etsy (sing to the tune of All My Exes Live in Texas)--and I'm addicted to both. Well, so they're not ALL on Etsy...but it seems like more and more of the fun people whose blogs I love are also selling beautiful things on etsy. Ashley at Dogged is selling her lovely wristlets and bags. Cheryl from yarnbee is selling yummy soaps, bath salts and cards. Maritza from Soto Softies is selling her adorably unique little softies. Megan from Knitting Philistine is selling her delicious soaps. And Nicki doesn't have a blog, but I know her from Flickr and she sells gorgeous yarn on Etsy. There are so many wonderful finds on Etsy. I LOVE it.

Etsy could so be an addiction for me that I have to limit how much I look on it. The more I look, the more beautiful things I find. For now I simply mark things as Favorites, but now that I'm working again maybe I'll treat myself to a few things. Hmmm...

I've been good so far. I've only bought from Etsy three times. And I LOVE everything I've gotten. I bought some great softie patterns from fuzzymitten. I haven't tried them all (I bought two and got one free), but this is the first softie I made. Isn't it adorable? The pattern was really well written and came very quickly in convenient pdf form. Love it!

My next purchase was the adorable wristlet from Ashley at Dogged. I love it! The finishing touches really make it even more perfect. Look at that great red lining and sweet tag.

My final purchase (for now) are these two adorable prints from The Black Apple. I just love them. Nikki had gotten "The Little Knitter" and I decided I had to have it. Then I saw the "A Good Egg is Hard to Find" print and just couldn't resist. One of my grandmother's favorite phrases was "You're a good egg." As I've come to expect from Etsy, the prints came with several adorable little extras including a great postcard and a business card.

The business card told me that Emily of The Black Apple also has a blog...but I'm resisting so far.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Top Ten Lessons Learned on Vacation

It's Top Ten Tuesday again. I've decided to do a vacation-inspired version of Top Ten Lessons Learned. I was pondering the idea on the ride home from the beach and decided to definitely do it after reading this post on Fricknits. Julie is forever inspiring me! Sophanne at BeckyKnitsToo suggested "Top Ten Ways To Entertain Little Man on a Long Car Ride." See Number 2 to see why I didn't end up doing that topic. So here we go, Top Ten Lessons Learned on Vacation...

Grandmother's Friends

10. If you work on your blog ideas in the car, your husband will want to help.
Honey, hope you like how I incorporated your ideas.

Little Man with my honey, Brian

9. Part A. Children do all kinds of weird things in their sleep.

We shared a room with Little Man for the week and it is amazing the things he does in his sleep. One night he sat straight up in bed without waking up. Little Man also does all kind of crazy yoga-like leg stretches when he is starting to wake up.

My two year-old neice

9. Part B. Just because you and your husband slept in the same room does not mean you got the same night's sleep.

Somehow my husband slept through all of Little Man's crazy night-time antics. He didn't even wake up when he cried out in his sleep or stood up crying.

My two year-old nephew

9. Part C. If you're staying in a hotel room with a one year-old, you'll be in bed by 8:ooPM. He'll still be awake.

Little Man clinging to me as he checks out all his crazy relatives on the first day of the beach trip.

8. What you say, your child will repeat.

Apparently, I say "uh huh" a lot and Brian says "oomph." Guess what Little Man said over and over the whole week we were on vacation?

My oldest nephew (almost 4)

7. Swim diapers are only good for holding sand.
Need I be gross enough to explain? Luckily, this year was an improvement over last year. This year it was just wet (and warm).

Little Man with his first shell

6. Just because his cousins are eating it, does not mean your child will eat it. However, if it's the last one and you really want it, he will decide to eat it.

As many of you know, Little Man is a very picky eater. He did not try any new foods even though his cool, older cousins were all eating them (e.g., Spaghetti-Os, ravioli, lima beans). He did however decide to try my McDonald's hashbrown on the way home and preceded to eat the whole thing. I was excited he tried it, but sad to lose my favorite part of my breakfast.

Our attempt to get a picture of all four children in the matching suits their Mooma bought them.

5. Part A. It's hard to knit on the beach.

Think wind, sand and splintery wood. Seems kind of stupid, but I still tried it.

Starting to gather for the family reunion photo in our matching hats.

5. Part B. Check your gauge before leaving on vacation.

I wanted to make the Placket-Neck Pullover from LMKG for Little Man out of Blue Sky Alpaca Cotton. I happily took my pattern, printed corrections (link to pdf), yarn and needles on vacation. I decided to check gauge. It was way off. I did not have my Stitch N' Bitch Nation to walk me through the conversion process. No Placket-Neck Pullover knitting for me. This will be a project for a future time and future blog.

Brian and Little Man in the ocean

4. You drink a lot less on vacation when you have a small child.

We used to go through cases of beer during our week at the beach. The former downing of beer has slowed to a trickle. It's hard to drink a beer while chasing a small child. It's hard to drink a beer when trying to stop a four year-old from crushing your child in a bear hug while in a baby pool. It's hard to drink a beer while fighting off loads of seaweed as you try to make sure your child isn't scared of the ocean. However, it is very nice to drink a beer at the end of the night when all little ones are in bed.

Little Man being silly in his new hat

3. No matter how many toys you pack, they will not be as exciting as non-toys.

Little Man spent a lot of time playing with an empty milk jug, a can coolie, and his monitor (he discovered that it lights up).

Little Man, me, my twin sister and her children

2. As anti-intuitive as it seems, when driving on a long car ride with a small child, it is often best to ignore him to keep him happy.

Little Man is so much happier (quieter) in the car when he is ignored. I packed all kinds of toys and books, but every time I gave him one he would play for a few minutes then throw it down and fuss. The more I tried to make him happy, the fussier he got. If, however, I just ignored him, he happily entertained himself for hours. He did fun things like stare out the window and play with his toes. The upside to this theory, I discovered Little Man travels better when I knit. Wonderful, huh?

Little Man playing with a piece of plastic in the car. This fascinated him for at least 45 minutes.

1. "Family Vacation" is an oxymoron.

There is nothing relaxing about a vacation with young children. It's exhausting, but it still lots of fun and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Little Man in the sand

Hope this installment of Top Ten Tuesday has been as fun and informative as my vacation. Please feel free to leave comments with your own vacation lessons or suggestions/requests for future Top Ten Tuesday topics.

Monday, July 16, 2007

And Life Goes On...

Just wanted to give a quick life update.

Little Man

My little guy has moved to one nap a day, but seems to be doing okay with it. I miss morning naptime to do things, but enjoy the longer afternoon nap. Will see how this affects my ability to get everything done.

Swimsuits my mom bought for all of her grandchildren.


I got my contract the day before I left for the beach. I start officially today. I will be trying to make as many of phonics workbooks that I can by August 27th. I know the first one will be the hardest and take the most time. My goal is to get it done this week. Wish my luck.


I got most of a my neice's size 4 Wonderful Wallaby knitted at the beach and on the drive home. (Sorry, no pictures yet.) I would have finished it if it wasn't for the time wasted on the Placket-Neck Pullover (see this week's Top Ten Tuesday for more info.) My goal is to finish the Wallaby this week, but with work I won't have much knitting time. Also, I felt guilty that I was making Wallabies for my sister's children and not my brother's son, so now I'm making him one, too. Luckily, my sister-in-law liked the color I was using for my neice's and I have extra left over. Very nice!

My sister-in-law (24 weeks pregnant with triplets) and my nephew (and my neice)


I'm enjoying it, but am afraid posts may become more scarce with work starting. We will see. Thanks for those of you who read this and thanks even more to those who comment. It's encouraging to get those nice comments.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

There's No Place Like Home

I'm home. I'm exhausted, but I'm home. My two weeks away were fun, but it's great to be home. It was weird walking into my house after being gone for so long. I can't remember the last time I was away for over a week. The house seemed different. Odd. As somehow it had changed without me. I don't know. It was a strange feeling.

Partly, it was different. My wonderful husband had cleaned! The tub was scrubbed. The floors were vacuumed. It was a lovely surprise.

Partly, it was weird because my girls (the dogs) were still at "camp" (aka my in-laws house) where they had spent the last week. I'm so used to being greeted by their two smiling faces and wagging tails. Zoe always brings a toy to the door--not because she wants to play, she drops the toy as soon as you acknowledge it--but because she doesn't want to greet you empty-handed. It was really funny as a puppy, she would panic if there wasn't a toy nearby and would just grab whatever was handy (usually a sock or shoe). Pauli doesn't always greet you at the door, but will find you soon to give you a big wet kiss.

I had a great trip to Virginia to see my family. It was a good transition week for Little Man. He got to visit with all his cousins without the craziness of staying in the same house with them all. I think he had more fun at the beach because he got reacquainted with everyone in Virginia first. Besides a not-so-fun trip to the beach with my sister and our children (15 months, 2 years, and almost 4 years--with only mine taking any nap during the 7 hour drive), we had a great time. Little Man loved trying to keep up with the big kids and didn't mind the sand and surf. I didn't get nearly as much sand time or knitting time in as I wanted, but I still had fun. Will blog more about the trip this week.

Anyway, the girls are home now and in their usual spots curled up asleep. Little Man is safely in his bed sleeping soundly. My husband is probably napping on the couch. I'm off to do a little knitting on the couch. It's so great to be home!

Friday, July 6, 2007

I'm Leaving Virginia...On to the Beach

It's been a fun week in Virginia. Little Man has had tons of fun with his cousins including a 4th of July trip to the James River.

My mom with my nephews and niece and my sister-in-law (pregnant with triplets)

I've had fun knitting during naptime and after Little Man heads to bed at night. No cooking and cleaning is great! My contract just arrived a few minutes ago so no work yet. Oh darn.

Little Man on the boat

I "finished" my nephew's Wallaby, but when he tried it on I decided that the hood is a little too short. So I un-kitchenered it and am going to add another inch or two. I'm kind of excited because I wasn't thrilled with my original kitchener on the seed stitch border. Hopefully, the second time will go better.

My nephew in his Wallaby

I also finished another ribbons hat to give as a baby gift.

I leave Virginia tomorrow and head to the beach for a weeklong family reunion/beach vacation. I will be staying in a cottage on Oak Island, NC with my husband & Little Man, my parents, my sister & her almost 4 year-old son & her 2 year-old daughter, and my brother, his wife & their 2 year-old son. I can't wait. Also within walking distance of our cottage will be 3 of my uncles, 3 of my aunts, 6 of my cousins and their spouses, and 10 children (Little Man's generation) ranging in age from 5 years-old to 18 years-old. We've been doing this for the last 7 years. It's always a little bit crazy, but always a lot of fun.

Family reunion photo from 4 years ago

I've actually been going to this beach since I was three years-old. My grandmother loved the beach. She loved everything about it--the sand, the water, the fish, the shells, the birds. She would rent a cottage for a month each summer and each week different parts of the family would come and stay with her. Our family and at least one or two sets of aunts and uncles with their children were always there the week of 4th of July.

My grandmother

Everything about the beach reminds me of my grandmother. She would get up early in the morning and go for long walks collecting shells. She taught me to pay attention to the different kinds of shells and how to know if you found an especially good one. For example, my favorite shell is the scallop shell. I love the pink and red ones, but the orange ones are the most rare. My grandmother's favorite shell was the olive shell. She had quite a collection of them ranging from teeny-tiny to several inches long. She only kept the ones that were whole and unchipped. She'd been collecting for years, she could be as picky as she wanted. My grandmother taught us to appreciate these intricate products of mother nature.

My grandmother with my brother (1975)

My grandmother also loved pelicans and she would count the groups of them as they flew overhead. To this day, my family members call pelicans "Grandmother's friends."

My grandmother with me (1996)

My grandmother passed away 7 years ago, but we all think about her all the time--but especially when we get ready to head to the beach each summer. We know that part of her is there waiting for us. We know that our love of the beach is somehow tied to our love of Grandmother. And we feel so thankful that we have had such a powerful, loving influence in our lives.

Hope you all have a lovely week next week. I will be computer free and enjoying the simple life of a family beach vacation. Can't wait to catch up when I get back. Happy Summer!