Friday, August 31, 2012

Baby Mary-Janes

A friend of mine was interested in some of my booties for her daughter, and of course that inspired me to try to create something super cute and girly. I'm awfully pleased with these. The yarn is really thin and soft and I think mostly wool, really nice for baby booties. I love the flower/button strap! If it weren't yarn, I would just want to EAT it! These are $8.00.

Small: newborn-6months
Medium: 3months-9months
Large: 6months-12+months


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Refinishing a Vanity

I've never refinished or restored anything before. That is, until a couple days ago! Our Aunt and Uncle just moved and pulled this gorgeous old style vanity out of their storage unit. They had stripped it, so I was glad to not have to do that work. Still, there was plenty left to be done! These two end pieces have a large full length mirror standing between them with two side mirrors that swing out from the large one. Below is the middle piece that goes in between the two above (down near the legs) and as you can see, it's in pretty sad shape. The veneer top was peeling off, and the board was basically broken in two. I ended up going to Home Depot with the board and showing it to a guy there who said 1) that they don't make furniture like that anymore, (ever so helpful) b) I might be able to glue it back together, (slightly sketchy sounding) and c) if I didn't want to do that, I could get a plywood board the same size that could do the job just as well. (totallly lame)

 I ended up choosing sketchy over lame and impossible, so, last Saturday, I spent several hours working on this piece(s) of wood. I was able to pull off most of the rest of the veneer and then used a mud scraper to chisel off the rest. And then for the sanding. You might be able to see the horrible water/glue marks in the wood in the picture, and they definitely took a long time to get out. But what was even worse was that we naturally dinged the boards as we were scraping off the veneer strip, so I spent ever so long sanding those. I was clever and did it in the kitchen while it was raining outside, so
that the dust would get everywhere. Every time I think all the dust has settled, I look at the kitchen counters and see them speckled once again. However, all my hard work paid off because after all the sanding and gluing (which was actually the easiest part of the whole process) and coats of polyurethane, the board looks fantastic! (See pictures of it all put together beneath.)

The other thing that took forever was the cleaning of the brass handles and drawer pulls. They were really old fashioned and I knew I wouldn't be able to run down to Walmart and get some cheap replacements, so I looked up online how to clean brass. Lo and behold, vinegar was among the highly recommended home solutions! So I dumped them all in a bowl of vinegar and took a toothbrush (an old one) to them after a long soak. The difference was unbelievable! They went from being completely brown, tarnished, and rusty to this! ------>

Sorry about the flash circles in the bottom picture, but you can still see pretty well how it turned out. All in all, it was several long days of hard and tiring work, but SO worth it in the end! I think it is such a lovely, unique piece...which is especially fun to have in the midst of our "free/cheap stuff from craigslist" collection.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Story Set in DC: The People in Pineapple Place by Anne Lindbergh

I recently found this story at the local library, and found it to be completely charming. Of course, the fact that it's set only a few blocks away from where my husband and I spent our first month of marriage certainly adds to the charm. It's always fun to read a book that includes places that you are familiar with.

The People In Pineapple Place takes place in Georgetown, which is a beautiful, upscale neighborhood in NW D.C. The main character, August, is discouraged and angry because his parents got divorced and he had to move to DC from Vermont, and his mom is working all the time as a lawyer. And when she does actually talk to him, she does it in this weird lawyer-speak. So August ends up exploring on his own and discovers this very special alley--Pineapple Place. There, he meets several families that have lived in the same neighborhood together for at least 50 years. The crazy thing is that all of them are the same age they were 50 years ago!

So here's the kicker. It's a fun local story with a zany time warp twist thrown in. August makes all these wonderful new friends, but most of the time, no one can see any of them! But their invisibility is unreliable, which makes some of their adventures especially interesting! During one special magical afternoon, August gets to spend one day with his friends back during the 1950s, when there were trolley cars everywhere and the amusement park at Glen Echo was still in business. It's fun thinking about the same places in a completely different time period. And of course, since no one can see them, they need to subsist on their own among themselves. It certainly is an interesting community!

My curiosity is piqued by the fact that the book is dedicated to her son, "who found Pineapple Place". And though I haven't checked yet, I'm longing to go see if it's really there or not. (In the book, the street itself was invisible to most people.)

While it will never be on the classics shelf, this book is definitely a fun read for children (1-5 grade range) that live in the DC area. It has some fun adventures, is full of curiosity without having anything scary, and has a really great message about how to make friends and love your family.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Reversible Diamond Blanket

I just sent this off to one of my best friends for her coming baby. However, I've put it up on the website where I've been trying to sell my crafts because I'm happy to make more. In fact, if you want to order one off the site between now and Christmas, contact me, and I will give you a discount. (I can make coupons for specific people through the website.)

 If you're interested, you can find it here.

(By the way, the color in the middle picture is closer to the real thing.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Boots with Basket-weave cuff

Here's another pair of socks/booties for babies. They're basically a sock or "boot" with a cuff that you can leave up, but is meant to be rolls down. These are a little bigger than the booties without cuffs, so they would probably last past the first birthday, though children grow at such different rates, it's hard to predict. Only $8! I'm happy to make more in different colors per request.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: Lowthar's Blade Trilogy by R. L. LaFevers

The Lowthar's Blade trilogy by R. L. LaFevers (who authored the popular Beastologist series) has, I think, taken some unwarranted criticism. I've seen comments about how they are just a baby version of the Lord of the Rings, with simplified character and plot to the point of becoming dull and flat. And while I'm rather inclined to agree with the reviews on the point that these books are completely predictable, they are still excellent for children just beginning to read chapter books. Are you going to give your 9-year-old (who probably can't even spell "courageous") Tolkein's trilogy to read? I hope not... But definitely give them this. The chapters are short, there is lots of exciting action, and the plot and character development is very easy to follow.

In the first book, we are introduced to the world and the concept of a sword of power. We see the mysteriously helpful old man, the elves, the dwarfs, the men, the powerful bad guy threatening to take over the whole world who uses mindless beings he created as his minions, and at the end, we see the necessity of united the men, dwarfs, and elves against the evil mastermind. (This brings us into the second book, which is dedicated to getting the elves on board with the mission. Then the third book deals with the dwarfs and the making of a new blade.) Writing it like this makes it sound even more predictable than it is.

In truth, the characters are not flat. They are unique and face some very compelling and difficult decisions. Relationships change and evolve, and as with all these kinds of stories, there is the essential element of needing to decide who you trust and often having to trust those you do not know very well. At any rate, this is a great book for adventure loving children that are either too young or too unmotivated to read the longer more intricate works of fantasy. These stories may give them the background for the genre that will help them to read and appreciate Tolkein when their actually ready for him.

While Lowthar's Blade has nothing new, it is part of a great style of fantasy novels and contains all the "essential" elements. Again, this makes it perfect for a child who has never read fantasy before - it's a great introduction into a world of similar stories. In fact, most of the complaints I've read about these books are that they are too much like the other, greater works of the same genre. The grievance against them is that they are simplified. But, I believe this is one of their greatest attributes. So don't go out and buy this as a gift for your fantasy geek friend... get this for someone who hasn't explored fantasy, and even if they don't really like to read, I would almost guarantee that this will be one series that they will want to finish!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Plain Booties with Ribbon

I've been inspired by all the babies in my life to try my hand at some baby booties, and this is what I came up with over the past couple days. Available for purchase for $5.00.


The yarn is soft and stretchy, machine washable and dryer safe! I'm also happy to make more in different colors if anyone is interested.