Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

The happiest of wishes from me to you and yours on Christmas. May you be filled with the spirit and joy of the season!

nearly present o'clock

(And I hope you got something you wished for ;) ).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

dark nights, bright days

While it may seem that I've disappeared, I'm well and around. Just not in London.

Last week I hopped on a plane and flew for the best part of a day to end up (delays, drama, and a near-miss on the 2nd flight later) in New Orleans. Where I got to meet Miss Cecilia. I totally fell in love.

cecilia ann

She is perfect. And so tiny. But with the most monkey-like little toes and the most Gerber Baby mouth I've ever seen.

I spent a couple days with my sister (and my mom, who spent a few weeks there helping out the new mother). We baked cookies and had fun decorating them:


We went to see beautiful Christmas lights:

a mom, a baby, an aunt.

Then Mom and I drove the long drive from New Orleans to Wisconsin. We were a bit silly and did a very short day followed by a verrrrry long day. (On the way I got my US crap food kicks with stops at Sonic and such). But it was worth it to be home. My flat in London with The Scot is *our* home, but it's still not the same as *coming home.*

My brother is home too. And that's always great as I see so very little of him. There has been shopping, tree-trimming, and movie-watching (go see The Muppets if you've not yet been. It's grand!). Cups of hot apple cider, fun with a nutcracker, popcorn and general relaxation have been had.

Tonight, some of my favorite family members joined us for dinner and my 2 little cousins, E and S, helped to build a gingerbread house and decorate gingerbread cookies. My mom's gingerbread is delicious, and her home baked houses are always a joy to put together. Having 2 little ones (7 and 3) around to help out made it all the more fun.

cookies and cousins
(really, when was the last time you were so excited about decorating a cookie that you began clapping?)

So even though these days are dark, and the light in the sky only gives us little peeks, my days feel absolutely bright with the spirit of the season. I can't wait to get a nice photo of the absolutely astonishing tree my dad picked out that I had the fun job of helping to decorate earlier in the week. Family, traditions, little festive joys - to me, they make everything a little better. I'll very likely be a bit quiet while I'm here in Wisconsin (I return to London in a week), but wherever you are, whoever you're spending your Christmas with, I hope it's a merry one.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How-to: Cloved Orange Pomander

cloved orange pomander (1)

This week I've found myself stuck at home. Even though I'll be away from our flat for much of the Christmas season, I do like making it feel as festive as it can be. So yesterday I grabbed some oranges, some seasonal-ish yarn (I was lacking green or red ribbon), and a big pack of cloves and got to work on making some lovely cloved orange pomanders to hang in our doorways.

I haven't made one of these in a long time, but once I got going it was a cinch. If you've never made one, the steps are quite simple:

cloved orange pomander (2)

1 - Tie your ribbon (or, in my case, yarn) around your orange. Top to bottom, then bottom to top. Make sure to secure it at the top with a tight knot so that the orange doesn't slip out of the strings when you hang it later.

2 - With a sharp object (a darning needle or a pushpin would work), begin to poke some holes and push in your whole cloves. I chose to start with a small circle at top, securing around the yarn and then moved alongside each of the strings. This not only helps to give a design, but also secures things. Do be careful as the cloves can be quite sharp. (I've read some people like using thimbles, but I just took my time with the cloves).

cloved orange pomander (3)

3 - After you've pushed the cloves in around the 4 "straps" continue as you like with the cloves in between. I chose to go with simple stripes on this one but went for swirls on my 2nd pomander. Or, if you want a bit less scent and aren't planning on keeping your pomander very long, you could leave it at that.

4 - Hang it and love the smell!

cloved orange pomander (4)

The cloves help to dry cure the orange, so if done well your pomander will last far past the Christmas season and could stick around sharing its spicy scent for a year or more! (I plan to keep mine up til January or so - but we'll see if I change my mind). Hang your pomander where it will get a nice bit of air flow to help it spread its delicious scent throughout your home. You could also make more simple designs without any ribbons and fill a bowl on your coffee table, etc. These can also be made with apples or other fruit. The sky's the limit as to combinations and designs. Have fun with it!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Of Beer, Baking, and Beards

Tonight I'm making beer cupcakes. I bought some of the super sexistly marketed Animée beer last week because it was on sale. And mild lemon beer seemed like it might be ok. It's that. Ok. Generally, I don't really like beer. So I adapted a beer cupcake recipe I'd been holding onto and used a bottle. They're good. More citrus-y than beer-y, but they smell quite like the pub. Still cooling and waiting for "froth" frosting. Pics later.

Before I made cupcakes with beer, I cooked a gammon ham in Coke and orange juice this evening. It was awesome. I recommend. I'll probably do it again, take photos, and share the recipe (as usual, it was a mish-mash of a few I'd found). We ate dinner while watching The Two Towers. We watched The Fellowship of the Ring last night. All of the boy's Skyrim playing made me yearn for some Middle Earth adventures.

In other news, The Scot had a beard for the latter bit of October through November. Just because he felt like trying it out. I liked the look. But when he decided to shave it off the other day, it had to be documented. So, as the debeardification progressed I took photos. And later we came up with titles. I hope you enjoy:


Oh, and we also put our tree up. I don't generally like fake trees. I'm all about real trees, with the real smell, the real sap, and the real needles. But it's not very feasible here. So our tree is about as fake as it gets. And I love it! (But it's needs a skirt).

I decked the halls

The Christmas spirit is really starting to fill our little flat. Even though we'll be spending the holiday apart (me in Wisconsin and he in Scotland), we'll be back together for New Year's and that's just splendid.

Happy Sunday all!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Gathering of (Dolly) Friends

Today, I was lucky enough to attend another London Blythe meet. We met up at the Victoria and Albert museum and enjoyed tea and cakes and fun. We even had a visit from 2 people working on a new BJD prototype.

dolly ring!
a ring of delightful dollies

georgia's girls
georgia's girls

she really wanted to come home with me
shelley's lovely

Enormous festive globes!
(photo via danielle)

Blythe London meet
makie labs prototypes
(photo via claudia)

I always enjoy meeting up with doll friends old and new. Can't wait til the next one!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On being an aunt

I cannot wait to meet this little bundle of joy. Christmas is soon and I have so many ideas of what to get for her that I'm frazzled (she'll be just 1 month old - it's not like she's toy age yet, so my frazzledness is silly). My mom drove from WI to New Orleans to help out while my sister is mostly on bedrest. And to be Grandma.

This child shall be a loved child.
Cecilia Ann

I totally got her that star onesie (a whole pack in fact) right here in London and brought them to the US in the summer. She's chic and dressing in European fashion from the get-go! (Hah!)

It's times like this that I get bummed about living so far from my family. But near or far, I'll love her all the same.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful (day 5)

via: rifle paper co.

So it's the day after Thanksgiving. But I have one more bit of thankfullness to share. It's a simple one. But a great one.

oh, hi

I am so incredibly thankful for my wonderful boyfriend. He is my partner in crime. My shoulder to cry on. My rock. Here in London, I don't have much in the way of a social circle. But still I have The Scot to come home to. As I spent a good chunk of 2011 very underemployed (essentially unemployed), I have been more and more thankful that I have this marvelous person in my life who kept the roof over our head, food in our fridge and always offered his arms when I needed them. It really just gets better and better every day.

a boy in the grass

I love this one. And I am ever so thankful that he came into my life.

Thankful (day 4)

via: rifle paper co.

Today is Thanksgiving. (Well, it's a bit past midnight here in London. But in the US it's still fully Thanksgiving day, so just go with it).

I am so very thankful for my small social group here in London. As a person, I don't make friends easily. Many acquaintances, few good friends. Many of the people I feel closest to in the UK are dolly friends. But I've come to be a part of the circle that's largely based on The Scot's friends from uni. Tonight, 8 of us gathered here in our flat and feasted.

I forgot to take photos during the festivities. :(

However, I snapped this one just before all arrived.

And this after:
...and after

I took the day off from working. And spent the day cooking instead. Our meal of thanks included:
- roast turkey with gravy
- mashed potatoes
- brioche stuffing
- cranberry sauce
- green beans
- sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top
- roast carrots
- dinner rolls with butter (from this recipe - so yummy and SIMPLE!)
- pumpkin pie
- blackberry pie
- (with whipped cream)

Lots of pie was made on purpose, as I love it (and the boy can take a spare pumpkin one to work to share). But I did really well as estimating portions and we finished nearly everything. Which is great, since last year I ended up throwing out uneaten leftovers the week after as we'd had as much as we could. I think it also helped that this year the Brits had a better idea of what to expect (it was mostly a repeat audience).

mmmm. pie

A lovely evening. Not the same as a loud house full of family and making the meal together, but still a good time. We ate, we drank, we laughed, we played games, and now we'll all sleep well. (Sadly we have to work tomorrow, but it's the boy's birthday weekend so fun times are ahead!).

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful (day 3)

via: rifle paper co.

Today I am thankful for my newfound aunthood. And my gorgeous new niece.

Lovely little Cecelia Ann was born today. Early this morning. 8lbs 15oz. 20.5 inches long. And her mother (my sister) was in labor for 43 hours. FORTY-THREE HOURS.

I cannot wait to meet the little sweetheart (probably at New Year's). And I fully plan to spoil her to the best of my ability. Largely with knitwear.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful (day 2)

via: rifle paper co.

Of all the things I am thankful for, I know that I so many of them would not be possible in my life without my education. My education is absolutely due to 2 amazing people: my parents. They gave me so much as I grew up and continue to support me in so many ways as an adult.

the parents!

I am incredibly lucky for the parents I have. They're still together, which isn't something that a lot of my generation can say. As any couple who have been together for nearly 4 decades, they have their ups and downs. But they raised me to see what its like to have a partner in crime (in the best sense!). They don't always understand me, but they always are there for me. When I'm sad, when I'm happy, when my visa is up and I'll be heartbrokenly leaving my love on a different continent for a while, they'll be there. They've raised 3 fairly well-adjusted adults. As teachers they've influenced the lives of thousands of young people (both retired this year after teaching {Mom} and teaching/being a principal {Dad} since the mid-1960s). I love them. And I am so incredibly thankful to have them.

Thankful (day 1)

via: rifle paper co.

(This was supposed to post Monday night. But it didn't go through. So we'll just have 2 for Tuesday!)

I am thankful for my health. While my health since moving to London hasn't been the best (with my asthma being the worst in nearly 20 years), I still give thanks for my overall well-being. I'm neither crippled nor troubled in any other major way. Currently, I live in a country with free basic health care. While many days I laugh at the NHS's general inability to deal with some things in a reasonable way (ie: "Hi, I think I broke my toe and want to make an appointment to have it examined." "We can fit you in one week from now.") I am still glad for it. It covers my basic needs.

So many in the world are suffering. Or can't afford access to simple, basic services. I am grateful that I am well and looked after.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Give Thanks

It's been 2 weeks since I've posted here. While I hope you noticed my absence, I'm sure you've all gotten on just fine. The late stages of Autumn are upon us here in London and the lack of sun and the chill in the air seem to have sucked away my blogging mojo.

This week, though, I am hoping to be able to share news that I'll be an aunt. My sister's bebe is due any day now. I've been crafting lots of little things for the munchkin (photos when things are finished!). And, of course, Thursday is Thanksgiving.

via: rifle paper co.

As I did last year, I'm hosting a Thanksgiving dinner again. And this year I won't be the lone American (there will be one other). A small gathering (6-8), but one that will have our flat full-to-bursting. I'm really looking forward to it. AND I might just be able to find a source for buying lefse in London (because I don't have a griddle or a wood stove to make my own). Growing up in a family with Norwegian heritage, lefse is a must-have for holiday meals. And I haven't had it much in the past 3 1/2 years.

What are you thankful for? This week I'll be sharing a few things that make me grateful every day. Check back throughout the week and do share your own. :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Autumnal Edinburgh

While I keep promising to get a bit more up here on {she's crafty}, I've found that I'm rather busy and a bit tired these recent weeks. I am, quite thankfully, working more regularly again. (Hooray!) The work takes me quite a while to get to and from, however. So too many hours of the day are spent on trains and buses!

Last weekend, though, The Scot and I took a train up to Scotland for a long weekend visiting his family. On Saturday we took off to Edinburgh for the afternoon. Lovely wandering up an down the hills, visiting yarn shops and artist shops and generally having a good time.


I brought Minerva along. Since her eyeshadow mysteriously chipped a while back, I've been so hesitant to take her anywhere. But she needed an outing. And I'm so glad that I did. She glowed among the Fall leaves.

minerva on the hill

Scotland always makes me feel a little more at ease. Relaxed. Happy. Every time I leave I can't wait to go back. Hopefully it will be soon.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A New Adventure

I've mentioned a little about this project here and there, so it may not be news to all my readers, but for those who didn't know, I've been working on opening a new Etsy shop. Not one to replace my mostly Blythe shop, but one with a different focus.

When I visited my family this summer, I brought my sister a few pairs of baby booties that I'd knit for her upcoming bambino. She took them to work. Work people loved them. There were requests for other sizes, colors, styles, etc. I didn't have the resources with me or the time during my trip, but in talking to my sister about it we both thought that it would be at least something to try.

And so I have. I opened up my little shop earlier this evening with 8 pairs of rather sweet little booties.
Some are knit in really luxurious merino wool (which I wish I could've purchased a bit more of at the Knitting and Stitching Show, but no such luck), some are made from wool/nylon blends, and I've done one pair from my favorite Noro Silk Garden.

Colors for all! And I didn't even hint at any sort of boy/girl-ness about any of them. Because gender-specific baby thing annoy the living hell out of me. Babies are babies are babies. Just put some clothes on them! Let them be cute.

Anyhow, I've really been enjoying knitting up booties over the past month-and-a-bit here and there. And I hope if you've got a little bunny in your life, you'll stop by BebeBunny on Etsy! I hope it'll be a fun outlet for small (but not dolly tiny) knitting.