Category Archives: crafts

Two weekends of acquisition

As much as my last two weekends have been filled with torturing Thirteen as I try to help him help himself on big social studies reports, blistered palms resulting from digging holes for perennial planting in our extraordinarily rocky soil, and singlehandedly (well, I did use the washer/dryer) washing almost EVERY SINGLE piece of clothing in the house in one weekend — well. LOOK, just LOOK at what I’ve gotten over the last couple of weekends:

A new project bike! Nighthawk 450, gifted so generously from Rick and Janice to commemorate the happy occasion of our marriage. Considering that Mike already has a project bike I am so commandeering this.

The next day we hoped in our little car and trailered this lovely pedestal cast iron tub home from Tarrytown NY. For only $60!

it’s SO nice on the inside:

and once again may I say: I love our small car lifestyle!

The occasion for the tub is not so happy. Suffice it to say (for now!) that there is an awkward and annoying leak that is persistent and getting much worse and necessitates the renovation of our upstairs bathroom about 2 years before we were ready to pay someone else to do so. Family Tip Grundzilla will be performing this engaging and fruitful activity next weekend. Theoretically Fruitfully. Wish us luck.

And then this weekend I went to Rheinbeck for the NY Sheep and Wool Festival and got ALL THE THINGS:
rheinbeck party

OK, I didn’t get the sheep and the llama. But I wanted to. Badly. Think Nine and Thirteen can be swayed off of horses in 4H and onto the fiber-bearing animals?

Geraniums may depress kittehs

Our temporary cat has been eating all out geraniums. He left them alone for months! But has recently discovered them.

He has also been moping around moreso than usual. Even more corners are say in and mewed at.

Thursday I checked Dr Internet and determined that geraniums are toxic to cats – and worse! – a symptom of ingestion is depression. So I called Mike right away and asked him to move all the plants that Book eats to the laundry room. Today he took things a step further: he put up the shelf we’ve had for years and cleaned the room. It’s amazing in there now! These plants will thrive.



I’m working on Mike’s xmas gift. (um, yes. Christmas 2011.) Normally I make Mike and the little dudes xmas hats, but this year I wanted to do something a little special for him, and asked him to pick out a mitten pattern from my ravelry favorites. Clearly, he made the best and most obvious choice and picked the Octopus Mittens.


Normally I’m a terribly slow and inconsistent knitter, but these mittens are so rewarding to knit. Between the variation of the orange yarn and the neat pattern, I can’t wait to work on them and see what happens next. This photo is from this morning, and I managed to finish knitting the hand and half of the thumb in the car on my way home from Pittsburgh (oh Mike is awesome for driving) – I can’t wait to cast off and see how it looks all put together. Of course, I will still have to knit Mitten #2, but I am hopeful that it will be almost as exciting as the first one was!

Now, I know some of my new blog/twitter friends are knitters – show yourselves!

I’m blogging a photo a day for the month of February. You should too! #29in29

A little valentines happy

I am not really a big valentines day person – I mean (avert your eyes!) EVERY DAY is valentines day with my sweet mister. But I think it should be a tiny bit special for the kiddles – and this year maybe I went a little v-day happy!


I made sugar cookies and learned a new icing technique (outline and flood), and then made Mike sit down with me to make valentines day cards for the boys. They’re at our house overnight tonight, so when they wake up tomorrow they’ll have some treats waiting for them.

I’m blogging a photo a day for the month of February. You should too! #29in29

This is my glamorous travel methodology

It turns out that when you’ve got a cool. 6 1/2 hours ahead of you and a TV in the seat in front if you, you can get a lot of knitting done.


All my yarning

I’ve been on a huge knitting kick lately. I love to use ravelry – it makes it so easy to keep track of your yarn and the patterns you’ve intended to use it for. People used to (and many still do!) make a copy of the pattern and put it in a bag with the yarn and store it neatly somewhere until they’re ready to begin work on it… but I have never been that organized, and I hate using a bunch of ziploc bags if I don’t strictly have to.

Here’s a terrible screen-shot of all the yarn in my stash:

I downloaded an excel spreadsheet and added up all the yarn I have – starting quantities and what I currently have, after knitting a bunch over the last year or so.

Beginning Quantity: 15.10 miles!

Current Quantity: 14.02 miles!

I’ve knit 1.08 miles of yarn! AMAZING!

Even though my queue has a list of 24 patterns in it that’s already matched with yarn, even though there’s a bunch of yarn not currently matched to ANYTHING, and even though I will roughly NEVER finish that list of “to-knits” up, this makes me feel accomplished and excited.

Youth Football


It’s been lovely weather at youth football games so far this year. Sunny, not too cold, and I’ve been able to sit and knit on things happily. This week I worked on a Monarch Lace Shawl (for a gift for xmas, so don’t spread it around!) and got 5 inches done. It was kind of a stressful game, so I was happy to have something else to focus on while Eight’s team tried to secure their place in the playoffs against an undefeated foe. (They did NOT, but they played very well and had a good time.)

Next weekend it will be colder, but still sunny. I think that will be Eight’s last game of the season. Not bad this year – we’ve had amazing weather for all of his games.

The knitting this fall has been awesome. I’ve finished two things already and feel like I’m in a great place for my holiday gifting (i.e., all the yarn is in hand and gift patterns are selected).

Old House New House

We’re getting new insulation today, and we’re on our first step to getting a bran’ new attic, so to speak!

Want a tour of the old attic?

Firstly, we have a real door and a real stairway up into the attic. I love that! and then when you reach the top of the stairs and you turn around, this is what you see (left of stairs and right of stairs):
attic - left of stairs
attic - right of stairs

and if you walk to the opposite end and look back towards the stairs, this is what you see:

it’s a really big attic, and this is my favorite part – on the far side away from the stairs there are two gabled nooks:
attic - next to stairs

the one on the left is our pretend future guest room – it’s adorable, nestled up against the ratty chimney:
attic - guest room

each nook has this pretty stained glass window in it:
guest room nook

stained glass

We plan to leave the floorplan open, but make this corner the guest room area with a nice rug and my old four poster bed, a nice bedside table and a chest or something to put your bag on (come visit us!). Of course we’ll need a pretty lamp.

The other nook has a bunch of old tables in them right now – the previous owner wanted to be a model train maven or something like that. you can see them in one of the first photos. I think that one is a little more open but a little smaller, and would make a really cute little sitting area.

On the right side of the stairs the floor is more open and the ceiling seems higher, because there’s a better floor-space to wall-proximity ratio (I am SURE that is a real interior decorating metric):
attic - looking towards stairs

attic - towards stairs

The left side of the stairs will probably be a good place to put in some shelving around the edge of the stairs for camping stuff so it’s easy to get to. I think there are secret dreams of putting a desk in here by the window, too:

We won’t be finishing the attic for a good long time – maybe a year, by my projection of saving/spending ability vs more critical work to do on the house – but when we are ready, we’ll be putting in drywall, fixing up the floors, insulating more under the floors, running outlets down to the walls, and making it just incredibly lovely. I really can’t wait, it’s going to be amazing. Stay tuned!

Flaky Pie Crusts

Flaky Pie Crusts

Originally uploaded by karinajean.

Apparently I have a knack with pie crusts. Pie crusts, biscuits, and roux. I can make a gravy so accidentally thick you’ll lose the ladle and have to send out for pizza. I can make a pie crust from scratch that will fluff up into gorgeous flaky layers of pastry. I’ve been told that these are highly advertisable skills on internet dating sites, but you know, I just thought they were pretty good knacks to have but nothing extraordinary.

I’m not a fancy chef, I never plate or sauce food neatly, but I do think I have a certain Americana knack about the kitchen that is kind of like my gramma, and also, kind of great.

I knew the house sounded extra creaky this morning.

We are refinancing our house, and the appraiser came today to take a look. This, understandably (yeah?) makes me nervous. We cleaned and swept and I said things to Mike like: I just don’t want her to think we’re dirty people. The house looks much better on the inside than it did a short 3 hours ago.

So she is walking around the house with me, and I notice something on the ground. It’s a piece of the siding that goes up by the roof. And it has blown off of the house and gone ENTIRELY AROUND THE ENTIRE STRUCTURE and ended up on the ground on the exact opposite corner from whence it came.
What do you do? I just ignored it. I thought:  maybe she won’t notice it if I don’t say anything. Our yard is pretty messy right now, and it is entirely conceivable that we could have a big chunk of something that looks like roofish siding lying in the weeds just ’cause. I didn’t say a word. I didn’t stare at it. I didn’t even try to kick it out of the way.


(confidential to Mike: let’s talk about you getting up there and hammering some stuff back onto the house, ‘kay?)

Crafternoon Detritus

We had a lovely time tissue crafternooning with Ron and Caroline. So fun! And they totally didn’t mind our crafting ADD: I cut out two skirts to sew later, but mostly wrestled with refreshments before sitting down to knit. Mike started with engraving, had to cut some wood blocks as supports, shelved the project and then moved to electronics.

The most difficult thing we made today was guacamole. I’d bought some avocados on tuesday and they were still impossibly hard today. Ok! I get that our house is cold! But we put these avocados in the kitchen aid stand mixers and they STILL didn’t mash up. Mike had to chop them into submission and it wasn’t guac we served, but more like a guac-inspired avocado salad.

And now we are enjoying Crazy Snack Dinner and listening to the spring peeper track from Neko Case’s album and it’s just a heavenly night. Aaah, last breath of relaxation before the nutty holidays. So perfect!

Craft night!

Last night was the inaugural local NJ craft night. We’ve been talking about this for, oh, at least 2 years (and probably closer to 3 b/c that’s when I moved to NJ). and FINALLY we got together at my place for some makin’stuff.

I’m really excited! I cast on for the Scoop Neck Vest – you can see another photo here. I am not using the fuzzy yarn because this is something I’d like to wear in the spring, and alpaca is hecka warm. I’m using a cotton-model blend from knitpicks in a very classic KarinaJean color: TURQUOISE. of course, knitpicks calls it “reef.” That’s a much more modern name than TURQUOISE.

I also treated myself when I bought the yarn and purchased the knitpicks interchangeable needles. they are SO SUPER. They’re nickel-plated, and very very fast. I’d picked up some addi turbos recently and fell in love with them, but they are SO EXPENSIVE. these knitpicks needles were super affordable, and they are so great to knit on! and when I say I treated myself, I mean it: I also got a few sets of the nickel-plated double pointed needles too. I’m planning to get rid of a bunch of my old needles. I don’t really need all the odds and ends I’ve picked up over the years.
any bets on how long it will take me to finish this project? Hint: the corn baby? still not complete. (I AM THE WORST FRIEND EVER.) anyway, is anyone on I’m on, as karinajean. obvs.

(crafty) retreat weekend

not last weekend, but the one before, some girlfriends and I went on one of our semi-regular crafty retreat weekends. It was super. I got to try exciting juices like apple mint, and spent lots of time outside in the sun in funny hats:

nice hat!

kayte has pointed out that we don’t do a lot of crafting on these things, and it’s true. I rarely get anything done. Ranger told me I ought to for this weekend, but it just didn’t happen. there was too much lying down:

digicam 064

cowboy sarah

too much hiking to fabulous view points:

pratt rock panoon top of bizarro monuments to an American Statesmen (and tanner):Pratt Rock

and too much of watching streams and dipping our toes into the snow-melt run off. (BRR!)

we all dipped our toes for 10 sec

it is so idyllic up there: just six of us making a home together for the weekend in the most friendly and helpful ways we can. just a bunch of girls getting outside of our real lives and living simply and happily through a sunny weekend. I have this thing where I need badly to build community in my life, and I’m so happy to have this one.
plus, on the way home? lorelei and I hit a barn sale jackpot. super!

oh, I’m that person

I hate to be the person who is asking for forgiveness and not permission. Let’s get it straight: I DID ask for permission to paint my apartment. I asked and called and never was able to speak to the landlord because the woman who answers the phone is very protective of him and didn’t ever put me through. Finally I asked HER for permission and she said that I could, as I was offering to paint the rooms back or to at least prime.


but my landlord inspected my apartment yesterday and he called me up and told me that I wasn’t supposed to have painted my apartment, and that there was no record in my file of having asked for or been granted permission.


I explained I was planning to prime before I moved and that having painted walls were very important to me as I generally stayed in one place for several years, and also, the walls were very dingy when I moved in – and he said that he couldn’t allow me to paint! that there were liability issues! and workers comp! and special materials! goodness. I’ve never thought of painting in those terms before.

digicam 078

So he’s going to hire people to do it after I leave, and I probably won’t get much of my security deposit back because I painted every room, and the dark colors! but let’s face it — it looks pretty darn good. and if they weren’t going to have let me after all, I’m glad I’m in the position of just asking for forgiveness.

apartment cleaning

I had some brilliant goals for this weekend. I mean, firstly, let me say that this was my first weekend at home where I didn’t have big sad plans for, oh, say 6 weeks. my apartment was a DISASTER SCENE. papers everywhere! hadn’t swept in months! at least my dishes were clean, but that’s just because washing dishes is about the easiest and most rewarding form of housecleaning you can do. hey presto, all of a sudden things are totally clean.

saturday I went to a Society of Women Engineers conference for work and manned the career fair booth. I told so may people how great MyCompany is as a place of employ. it is pretty good, I have to say. and then I went back home and had a fancy spa pedicure and watched tv on the internets until I passed out on the couch.

Sunday I woke up full of energy and drive. I spent FOUR HOURS cleaning the kitchen. FOUR HOURS! it wasn’t even THAT dirty! and it’s definately not that big! but I went through my cupboards and tossed open packages of grains and nuts and seeds and beans that were older than 2 years. I wiped off the counters and did the dishes and put things away and rearranged shelves and I even sorted through my plastic bags. that’s right. I sat on the floor and pulled out all of the plastic bags I’d saved from the grocery store and sorted them by size (tiny ones to my car for garbage bags, really big ones got their own container). And I cleaned out a spot under the sink to stick them.

[[side note No. 1: a friend of mine pledged this year to only accept 13 plastic bags from stores in 2007. I was like: oh, but I use mine for my garbage sacks, and she said she’d rather support recycled plastic bags by purchasing them than getting them from the shop. and that makes total sense to me. and THEN, when I sorted my bags, I realized that I’ve got about 10,000 plastic bags (give or take a hundred). I have so many! So I’m making it a huge No. 1 priority to not accept any more bags from the grocery until I use up all of my old ones.]]

So the exciting part about the cleaning of the kitchen is the part where I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the floor for, like, 2 hours. I hadn’t scrubbed it at all, not even when I moved in, and while I HAD mopped it, there’s something for getting out the wash rags and the sudsy water. And THEN, to really get the job done, after scrubbing with the soapy water I scrubbed with a “magic eraser” (from the japanese dollar store), and then I wiped it down with clean water. I had to change the water, by the way, like, 10BILLION times. maybe not so much of an exaggeration.

[[side note No. 2: these magic erasers? they are awfully amazing. I used one on my tub that was all stained black in the bottom when I moved in and which I couldn’t clean with normal mildly abrasive cleansers and elbow grease – I had reconsiled myself to a black tub and told myself that at least the DIRT was clean, after all the soap and scrubbing I’d given it. but with the magic eraser the tub came magically clean! amazing.]]

and now I’m trying to talk myself out of polishing my kitchen floor. it’s such old linoleum, you see, and it’s all matte finish and sad and dirty looking. maybe floor polish would rock it’s world? maybe it would be fabulous and incredible! but if I AM going to polish it, I need to do it right away, because I don’t want to have to scrub that floor again. (is it REALLY bad form to polish around the furniture?)

After I let my dishpan hands recover, I went to the living room and threw all of the papers in the whole house that were not put neatly away where they were supposed to go onto the floor. All of them. And then I sat there for hours and sorted and filed and recycled and tossed and made ready for the shredder. I got nearly every paper in the house sorted and put away! now all that are left on the floor are stacks of books, magazines I haven’t read yet, and a box of odds and ends that I might as well toss, because I don’t miss anything that’s in it and probably won’t in the future.

And THAT was my very busy, very productive sunday.

new skirt

yesterday I buckled down and sewed a new skirt. Maybe because I was watching TV at the same time, but it took about 5 hours. I would have listened to an audiobook, but the library didn’t have the book I’m up to in the amelia peabody series. I’d hope that if I weren’t eating nuts and talking on the phone and watching tv it would go a fair bit faster.
I used McCall Pattern M3341 which is a real workhorse – it’s an a-line skirt and I’ve used it to make my purple skirt and my fancy holiday party skirt. Also on the workhorse list is McCall M3830 – it’s a good pencilish skirt that I’ve used before as well.

Here is the fabric for the skirt:

I used some of the fabric bought from the fabric shop in belleville nj. I still have about 1 yard left of this stuff, and I’ve got two more pieces of fabric left from that shopping trip. I made sure to get matching zippers for the other fabric as well while I was out on sunday, so that’s all set up. now all I have to do is get down to it!

so, 2007 to date:

bought: pair of pretty wool gloves from target ($4.48) [[which I did sort of need, b/c I’ve lost one of each glove or mitten or wristers I have in the last 2 months, and also, it’s supposed to be getting cold this week, and also, I’m not allowed to knit for myself until I finish the corn baby.]]

made: one skirt, desperately needed b/c my other skirts are getting worn.

party afterthoughts

the first best thing about having a party is having so many lovely people in your home having a good time.

the second best thing is definately how nice and shiny clean your apartment is afterwards. It’s so nice. Every time I swear up and down that I will not let the clutter get the upper hand. maybe this time I’ll have a better chance of it, dear readers? only time will tell.

cocktail party!

the cocktail party was superfun. It was a great crowd of people who were interesting and loved talking with each other. a birdy told me that there were excited comments about the authenticity of the party spread and also about how fun it was. I hope that birdy was telling the truth!

here are some lovely photos of the amazing food we made. lorelei came over a couple hours before and slaved away in the kitchen making cheese straws and little puffy things. so wonderful. michelle was a super amazing person and spent like, an hour, making this hedgehog:


stacey showed up with a vegan cheese log! amazing! and in the corner are the little puffed rolls stuffed with a deviled ham filling.


of course, deviled eggs. they really are so very very good.

there was an exciting table of finger foods, including nuts, sweet crispy nuts, 4 kinds of olives, marinated mushrooms, salami, and the little cheese straws,


y’all thought I was kidding, but I really did pipe cheese onto these eggplant crackers:


kathleen was goodnatured enough to not only bring the ice, but to also gut these cherry tomatoes and stuff them with hummus. they are shown with some wee prochutto sandwiches.


and no, for those wondering: I did NOT finish the dress. I got up super early and cleaned, then got my hair cut, and went shopping for 3 hours, and then came home and cleaned, and then it was party time. it was very very fun! and I’ll just have to finish the dress for the holiday party at mariss and kelly’s house in 2 weeks…

not so much to-done

so, I got just about nothing done this week. I DID succeed in getting very very tired an not so healthy feeling. sigh. So this is the list from before with everything still left to do:

  • clean the kitchen, including the mopping of the floor. [[might not do. non priority.]]
  • donate clothes that are in my hall [[might have them live in my car for the weekend.]]
  • finish cleaning the living room. areas that are outstanding are small, but include: the stuff on one of my end tables and a bunch of magazines on the floor. also a box of crafty things that will go to the basement until I can find a place for them to live in my apartment.
  • clean my bedroom. this is bigger. will take some serious work.
  • hang things on the walls: old photo of my family, pressed metal stork, tin-can flower paintings, mountain dulcimer, ceramic horses head, gramma’s weaving.
  • laundry, including two new sheet sets.
  • sew cocktail dress. I have the fabric (repurposing some fabric we’d bought for curtains in pgh and never used) and the pattern (a butterick vintage reissue of a sheath dress with an interesting open neckline. [[am halfway done with this. was up until 3:30 last night! yuck!]]
  • shopping and making of horse doovers. [[will shop sat. morning and lorelei will come help me cook and test cocktails at around 3. YAY.]]
  • hairs cut. [[appt. for 10:30 am sat.]]

tonight is our office holiday party, but I have to not stay out too late, because 1. I’m pooped and 2. I have to get up early on sat. to clean my apartment. then is the hairscut, and then to the shops. Hopefully I’ll have enough time to finish sewing my dress. I hope! I’m getting totally worried that I will have to wear a bath towel to my own cocktail party. while I totally rock the bath towel look, it’s not what I was hoping for.

what I did on sunday

yesterday I took about 11 1/2 hours and reupholstered my couch. to be fair, it really took about 10 hours – there was some time spent on the phone with kathleen, or eating lunch, or lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling. but it was worth the pin sticks and the long toil, because here it is: my beautiful, reupholstered couch!

it took so very very long because the fabric that I bought was only 54″ wide, and my couch is, obviously, much longer than that. so I split the fabric and sewed it onto the ends of another piece to avoid a seam down the middle, and that was horrible excrutiating work, but it came out awfully nice.

the process was a bear because it involved a lot of draping and pinning and sewing and fitting and pinning and sewing and fitting. lots of back-and-forth between the couch and the sewing machine. I fitted everything together like this:


and sewed on the arms and then the fronts of the arms very last. I listened to the 3rd amelia peabody book downloaded from the library and boy howdy am I glad it’s done! I won’t make any brash assertions that I won’t do this again ever (like I did with the denim couch) but I won’t do it again for a good long time, that’s for sure.