Monday, February 21, 2011

Winter Walks

Yesterday, T took me and Mr. S to what we call the Big Squirrel Park, not because it's full of big squirrels, but because it's Bayonne's biggest park and it's full of normal-sized squirrels. We bundled up in hats, coats and gloves, and S and I brought our cameras along.

There wasn't much to see. It's not as exciting as spring when everything's popping open and the songbirds have come back. But we did see some pretty things.

Frozen turtle pond:

Sea Gulls:

The Boardwalk and the ice around the bay:

We stayed in the park until the sun started to go down and our noses and cheeks were red and numb.

Then this morning, we woke up to a fresh blanket of snow; so S and I decided to take a little nature walk around our neighborhood.

We love snow-covered trees...

and puddle-filled alley ways:

and snow by the bay:

And we really love Bufflehead Ducks:

My next camera purchase will be a 400mm lens. Bayonne is a rich bird habitat. I've come upon so many herons, egrets, cormorants and ducks on my walks by the bay, and I can never quite get a good shot of them.

We're trying to enjoy these last few weeks of winter, but we're all really excited for spring.

Muffin Monday

Monday is baking day, the day I make muffins for NECA (T's workplace) and the day I make two batches of pizza dough, both of which go in the freezer to be used at the end of each week for Pizza Friday.

This morning's muffins are my all-time favorite: Crunchy-Sweet Apple Nut Muffins. I used a basic muffin recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and added applesauce and a mixture of melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, hazelnuts and pecans.

Thank goodness only two of these stay home with me and Mr. S, or we'd eat the whole batch.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yarn Along

I had so much fun joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along last week that I decided to do it again this week.

We've had so much snow this winter; I don't think I've ever been more ready for spring. I've been dreaming of sunshine, green things and flowers. So this week I started Miette, a cropped cotton cardigan that will be perfect for spring days and summer nights. I'm using Cascade Sierra, a worsted weight cotton/wool blend (with about 20% wool). The color is Very Cherry. I've purchased some vintage red Bakelite buttons, but now I'm thinking I'd like some sort of hand-painted floral button, porcelain or Czech glass maybe?

For reading this week I've fallen back on an old favorite that you can never go wrong with: Alice Munro. I started one of her newer collections of stories and as usual with her, I'm finding it hard to put down. Reading her (and Margaret Atwood) makes me want to move to Canada.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Mr. S and I made Valentine cookies yesterday. I learned from my mistakes last month when I made a practice batch, and this time I used pasteurized dried egg whites and mixed the royal icing up much thicker. It was a sticky mess, and S and I had frosting and red food coloring all over us, but the final result was lovely.

Not only do these cookies taste scrumptious, but they look pretty too. They'd look prettier if I had a steadier hand and was a little more practiced with the decorating bag and tips.

Unfortunately, Mr. S is sick today and can't enjoy any of them. Nor does he feel like eating the little box of chocolates we gave him this morning as a Valentine's gift. I also got him a tiny pot of daisies to plant. Maybe later in the day when his fever is down, we'll get around to them.

Also yesterday I finished up another hat. This bulky knit button hat will go down South to my Aunt Betty along with the World War II watch cap I made for my Uncle Steve.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine Cactus

I have a small collection of Christmas Cactus, two of which I keep at work. The small pink one I purchased two Christmases ago is just now a-bloom, and oh, boy is she a beauty!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yarn Along...

I've been reading the Small Things blog for awhile now and love looking at Ginny's photos and reading about her home life. Ginny is also a fabulous knitter and has been hosting weekly Yarn Alongs in which participants share what they're knitting and reading each week. This will be my first week participating.

Today I hope to finish up the World War II Watch Cap I started a couple of days ago. This will be a very belated Christmas gift for a favorite uncle.

I enjoyed knitting this hat so much for my husband back in October of last year and will probably knit it up again and again.

As far as reading goes I'm just about to finish Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture. This book is blowing my mind right now and giving me all sorts of ideas for how I want to live my life. If T and I could only figure out how to survive on one income, we'd be there. Mr. T will be reading this next.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Sorry I've not been here in awhile. I'm still super-busy at work. Two words: Administrative Review. And that's all I'm going to say about that. I've not had the energy for blogging lately, but I'm still knitting up a storm. This week I finished up more kids' hats. I'm knitting at a rate of about 3 1/2 hats per week and hope to have enough finished objects to stock our Etsy shop in a few months.

But I've put down my circular needles for awhile to work on something for me. Two somethings actually. I've just cast on the stitches for Miette, a cotton/wool cardigan that will be perfect for the coming spring and maybe the summer since my office is so cold. I've purchased the prettiest vintage bakelite buttons from Ebay and a vibrant cherry red yarn (Cascade Sierra).

After that I'm working on this super-cute little fox stole. The pattern is in French but if you scroll down the designer has translated it into English.

In between these two projects I must to find time to knit two simple Christmas projects for a couple of family members that I missed seeing over the holidays.

All this knitting keeps me sane.

My work is so taxing right now, but I'm still putting most of my energy into my home where I wish it could solely reside. The whole Gwyn family has been baking, knitting (yes--Mr. S now reaches for some spare needles and yarn whenever he sees me pull my knitting out) and growing things. We've planted pinto beans in our living room and basil in the kitchen and transplanted Snake plants, Violets and a Christmas Cactus in the living room as well.

I love the way plants make a space feel more like a home, and in an urban space like the one we live in, it's nice to see green leafy stuff on a daily basis. T and I daydream about being true homesteaders, and we're all wishing we had room for a garden in our backyard. We're anxious to move into a little house with enough of a yard for some raised beds. This has become a goal by the end of this year. I've already built up a great little Amazon Wish List of organic gardening books.

We've been finding time to play too! This week I've been Wonder Woman, a mama otter, Betty Boop, a Whale Shark, an Iguanadon and countless other animals--both prehistoric and modern; and Mr. S has been numerous super heroes, a baby otter, Betty Boop's puppy, a Killer Whale, and various meat-eating dinosaurs.

Sometimes we take a break from all that pretend play to learn things. T and I have gotten creative when it comes to Mr. S learning the alphabet. He's known how to sing his ABCs for awhile now, but learning to sight-read letters has not been very interesting to him, despite the fact that he LOVES to be read to and has taken to looking through books at bedtime under the covers with his night light on. I've started having "circle time" with him and his toys and stuffed animals on my days off. We have an easel with a chalk board and dry-erase board, and I play teacher while Mr. S plays student. We also go around the house with light sabers, swords and dart guns zapping the letters we encounter on the refrigerator, the mail, book spines. But T created the best game when he made Battle Droid alphabet cards using our computer and some card stock.

Mr. S loves to fight Battle Droids, and for this game each Battle Droid holds a letter, and Mr. S uses his dart gun to shoot the Battle Droid with the corresponding letter we call out.

I'm happy to say he knows all his letters by sight now and is well on his way to learning all their sounds.

We've strung kite string with clothes pins above his bookcase too, which we use to reinforce what he's learning in pre-school that week. I change out the letters and numbers each time he moves on to a new one in school, and I also hang up his art projects there. This is a good place to display holiday crafts. Right now we have Ground Hog's Day and Valentines Day up (Seamus been slowly hand-making Valentine cards for each kid in his class).

He loves to look at the stuff on this wall. Last week I had a picture of the Grand Canyon hanging there for the letter G, and he kept saying how he and his Grandie were going to go there this summer with our cat, Kiki. (He also wants to go fishing with Mammaw and fishing on the boat with Grandpa and Georgia--Mama and Papa are not invited to go on any of these trips.)

This week also brought a special delivery: a huge box full of the handsomest hand-me-down clothes from our dear old friends Alastair and Oliver. I loved the sweaters and robot pajamas they sent us, and Mr. S was very excited to receive the toys the boys packed inside. But perhaps the most fun thing in that box was a martial arts Gi in a size 5, the perfect fit for Seamus with a little growing room.

Thank you Alastair, Oliver and Ann!

Even though my work week is overwhelming right now, I've found a little time to write and to submit to journals. The past week and a half has brought three new publications for me (one of which actually pays). Look for more posts on this when the stories come out.

And now to enjoy two lovely, glorious days off!
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