Tuesday, December 27, 2011


We had a quiet, but happy Christmas. Although we were feeling very festive, we only put up a couple of strings of lights and a jingle bell wreath on the door. I was sure if we did the usual amount of decorating, the baby would come early and there would be a new baby and decorations to take down all at the same time. I didn't want to risk having decorations up until March or something!

Jeff and I didn't do surprise gifts for each other, but I did get him a new video game (Uncharted 3) to play during his vacation and we had a few surprise presents to open from family. I got some Cascade Pacific yarn for baby knits from my mother. There were a few more things for the baby too, like a touch and feel farm animals book.

Christmas afternoon, I cast on with the new yarn for the newborn sized Easy Baby Cardigan and knit most of the body portion. Yesterday evening and today, I was able to finish up the body, complete the sleeves, seam the hood and weave in the ends. I may make ties to hold the front together as shown in the original, but first I am going to check some stores for other kinds of closures. I keep thinking snaps might be nice. It is such a good pattern that I might make the 12 month old size as well. I have plenty of the same yarn for that too. I might add buttonholes for that or possibly sew in a zipper.

Front view of the Easy Baby Cardigan.

Back view showing the cute, pointy hood.

I haven't gone out shopping the day after Christmas in years, but planned on it this year. I had a $20 coupon to spend at Williams Sonoma (from spending $100 on presents there before Christmas), so I was excited to pick something out for the kitchen. I got a fun cake pan in the shape of a tree stump. It is a different take on the yule log. It is quite adorable decorated for Christmas with meringue or marzipan mushrooms, mice or other woodland things. I think it could be fun other times of year too! At Easter, I could decorate it with chocolate bunnies and a chocolate/coconut bird's nest and jelly bean or Cadbury eggs. For kids, I could make it with some gummy worms or bugs, LOL! We also got some hot chocolate which I may wait to open until February/Valentine's Day. I can make it up in the Breville Milk Cafe I got last year. And, we got a box of Peppermint Bark. That may not make it past New Year's as it is so moreish. Everything was at least half price before the coupon was even rung in! If only one could always do that much shopping for under $20 at Williams Sonoma!

We saw lots of good sales, but the only other shopping we did was at Baby Gap and Carter's. We found 3 of the cutest onesies at Gap marked down to $2.99!! We got 9 outfits at Carter's where everything we picked was between 40 and 70% off and then we were surprised with an additional 20% taken off at the checkout.

We topped off the day with lunch out at Chipotle and later had lattes too! I think I might be back into the habit of shopping on the 26th ;)

Well, next year should be our most exciting Christmas ever, the first with our son. I can't wait to start celebrating holidays with him!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Today Was Bigger Than Christmas!

As nice as it is to have some presents to open in a few days, nothing beats seeing my baby boy in an ultrasound today! It was hard waiting for the appointment day to finally arrive. It wasn't as easy to get a good picture of his face this time as he was chewing on his hands! The left one was in his mouth here and the right at the ready. He is in the head down position which is great, but can still change at this point. And, I was very relieved to hear that he is average weight, probably even a little toward the smaller end of the average range.

We've been out shopping for baby things in the midst of the Christmas rush. I don't care for the traffic, but I don't mind all the bustle of people shopping in varying states of desperation depending on how much shopping they have left to do. It can be amusing to people watch as you shop! I feel even more ready for his arrival now that we have the first diapers in the nursery and some other necessary items like that.

I am thinking we might be able to focus next on getting a few more of the big items. Maybe they will even be on sale after xmas. I am thinking about getting a Chicco play yard with the bassinet and changing table on top, video baby monitor and an HD video camera is a must!

Speaking of sales after xmas, it has occurred to me that as long as this baby arrives near his due date, birthday shopping will always be a breeze in the after xmas sales!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Little Boy Blue Hat

The ribbing should make this hat work for a lot of head sizes. I'm hoping it will fit from newborn to 3 months or so. The pattern is available free: here. I used up some Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran I had left from knitting Marmalade. The color is called "frost" which seems appropriate for my January baby!

I altered the pattern slightly as I got to the top decreases. I decreased more rapidly as I wanted a rounded shape and it seemed like it was going to get rather pointy if I continued to follow the pattern. But either way would be cute. I think a pom pom could be nice on top, but it's doubtful that I have enough yarn left for it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

1 Month to Go!

We have finished our classes and have a certificate to show for it, so technically we must be ready! (Though I may sign up for one more first aid class.) We've chosen a pediatrician and had a meet and greet with him. There are still things to do and things to buy, but I am excited to get to the end of this pregnancy, or more specifically, through the end of this pregnancy and be home with our new baby! I actually do feel ready. Those sound like famous last words, don't they! Maybe I should clarify by adding that I feel as ready as I'll ever be...

You might be amused to know that in the childbirth class, they demonstrated with a knitted uterus! The funniest thing we learned was that they don't allow TV remotes in the labor rooms. Apparently, they have been used as weapons!

Pregnancy is getting a bit tiresome now that I am more short of breath when I try to do things. I even let Jeff tie my shoes sometimes! On the other hand, it is endlessly fascinating to feel the baby moving around or hiccuping. He seems to react to voices and touch. Fortunately, my discomforts are minimal and I still feel well. I do continue to look forward to the day I can lay on my stomach again. And, I can't believe how far away sink faucets have gotten--and that's not just an excuse to get out of dishes! It is tiring to reach and if I accidentally lean on a counter the slightest bit, the baby kicks immediately to let me know that's no fun for him.

Although my weight was up 15 pounds a month ago, I am now only up a total of 10 pounds even though I am eating 6 meals and snacks a day and always feel so full! The doctor still says it is normal and my stomach is growing right on schedule. It seems huge to me! I have to be careful not to bump into things--I don't know where I begin or end anymore.

I'm really wondering what the use of maternity clothes is. Am I just weird?! They have not worked out for me. The pants will not stay up and the shirts I've tried have such unflattering and rather low necklines. There is not much time left for me to suddenly be able to use the five pairs of maternity jeans I bought for the third trimester! Luckily they were sale priced, but still I wish I hadn't bothered with them. I am happy in my yoga pants and basic non maternity tees though very bored with them too. It's going to be a great day when I can pull on jeans again and find old favorite tops in the closet or shop for some new ones!

I am really looking forward to an ultrasound right before Christmas. I haven't seen him since week 20 and that seems like a long time ago. They will estimate his size as well as doing other checks. A few new ultrasound pictures will be the best Christmas present!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baby Mittens FO

I didn't have a pattern that was quite right for my yarn or gave overall dimensions for different ages, so yesterday, I improvised to make these. I hope they will fit from birth in January through April. I can fold up the cuff to shorten them a bit as long as the width is ok. I didn't make thumbs as there isn't any point in them for this age range. I think they complete the set quite nicely!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Striped Baby Hat FO

This pattern, like the socks I posted about yesterday, is from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Baby 2. I used up leftover yarn from the socks (and bunny, an FO from earlier this year) and altered the stripe pattern so I wouldn't run out of the brown color. I just made the stripes as I went, so maybe I would have made the first white stripe narrower if I could have anticipated exactly how it would look, but I think it's ok. The brim rolls up over it anyway.

It was a quick knit--I started and finished it yesterday! It looks cute with the socks and this outfit my parents sent.

I wonder if I can find a pattern for little tiny mittens to complete the set? I have some more of the white yarn I could use and a little of the brown I could use on the cast on edge of the cuffs...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Knitting Content!

I know, it's been awhile since I've had a knitting post, but pregnancy hasn't involved nearly as much sitting and knitting as I thought it would!

These baby socks are a pattern from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Baby 2, a very sweet book. (I really love the little argyle vest pattern in it.) I made two identical pairs to try to outsmart the universal tendency for socks to separate from their mates.

These were easy to make and I carried the yarn so there weren't too many ends to weave in. They are seamed up the foot/back.

I never quite know whether to slip the first stitches in the heel purlwise or knitwise. I ended up getting crossed over stitches on one side as you can see pictured to the right (if you open the picture in a new tab to see it full sized). The pictures in the books never seem to show that side! And, when I paid for a sock class once to ask that very question I was told "either way"! Arrrgh! My toe shaping stitches are crossed over too and that part is blurred in the picture accompanying the pattern. I guess it looks ok like this and the socks are tightly constructed with no gaps anywhere, which is the important thing. However, I'm curious, what do you do???

Saturday, December 03, 2011


No, that's Jeff on the roof filling in gaps around the chimney to prevent leaks. The chimney bricks need pointing too, but that will have to wait for another day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mini Quiches

I love these mini quiches for any meal. There are a number of recipes out there, but you really can just improvise with these and add any fillings you like. I butter a non stick muffin pan just to be sure they will be easy to remove. I spoon some fillings into each cup, in this case, sauteed turkey sausage, cooked broccoli, sauteed onion and grated cheddar cheese. Then, I ladle over the egg mixture. I find that 8 eggs beaten with 3/4 of a cup of skim milk works about right. They bake at 325 F for 35 minutes.

I enjoy mine with a few dots of Cholula hot sauce on top.

They keep well overnight in the fridge if you make them for dinner and want to reheat the leftovers for breakfast. Otherwise, you can freeze them.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fun in the Nursery and Test Fitting a Door

I keep finding the dog in different positions when I look into the nursery!

He is quite a character!

Jeff is caught up with assembling baby things...for the moment. He recently put together the stroller and the bouncer.

Yay! Looks like the picture!

Here is the first look at the new closet door cut down to size and being test fit. It is just primed, so it needs paint. I guess we have to get a new set of hinges for it as the modern door is narrower than the original one. The door frame isn't quite square, of course!, so the door will have to be planed to fit.

I need to figure out what kind of knob and/or latch to get for it.

I'm still really happy with the look of the nursery as I see it throughout the day in different lighting. Here it is mid morning with natural light filtering through shades and curtains. It will be bright when needed, but also conducive to napping too.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Follow up

Just thought I'd post a picture of the garden completely tilled to follow up yesterday's post.

I love the new hoop house. Even though the main garden is put to bed for the winter, there is a little bubble of summer.

It's doing well even though I don't have the core strength or flexibility to weed and really take care of it at the moment. The camera lens fogged over in the warmth and humidity in there, but you can see some parsley, kale and dill. I think it is time to make some minestrone soup with the kale!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are using the holiday weekend to work on things that need doing around here. Today, we did the remaining garden cleanup which consisted of cutting eggplant and pepper plants and carrying them to the burn pile, pulling up stakes, picking up bricks and removing plastic mulch. Then, Jeff tilled the entire garden. I love seeing it all neatened up for winter and waiting for the spring planting!

The light is getting very slanted and wintry looking.

There were lots of chickadees flitting about the trees near us and V's of geese honking overhead.

It was quite a beautiful day for being outside. I hope we get a couple more good days for outside work. There are some leaves to rake, though not like other years, and I need to neaten up the patio area. Then, the burn pile needs to be torched.

Tomorrow, Jeff will work on the nursery doors and maybe that bit of trim for over the cubbies. I'll work on house projects too.

I'm just eating little meals that are healthy and full of protein, so I didn't do the Big Feast this year. We ate pretty much normally and I made some mini quiches in a muffin tin for dinner filled with turkey sausage, broccoli, onion and cheese. They were delicious. If you ever want to not overeat during the holidays, just time a pregnancy so you are in your last trimester then! I've actually lost a few pounds lately and the doctor says that often happens as you have less and less room.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year! You can imagine I am especially thankful that the nursery is finally functional!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Creating a Nursery

Home Improvement projects have a way of snowballing in a 1920's house..."painting a nursery" evolves into a multi-week, epic job! Everything gets so much worse before it gets better and in the middle, it seems like the chaos and mess will never end.

It feels like I have been living in an episode of the "This Old House" show. That due date countdown in the corner was starting to get nerve-wracking! Just a little pressure to get things done!

I'm so glad we waited until I was pregnant (not!) to undertake this. Doesn't every pregnant woman dream of assisting with some general contracting? I stayed clear of any dust or fumes, but helped with fetching and lugging, within reason. I also had to work on the planning, shopping for tools and supplies and troubleshooting. My favorite parts were carrying sheets of drywall upstairs at 26 weeks and helping hang ceiling drywall at 27 weeks! Good thing I've had an easy pregnancy and felt fit and able to do stuff.

First, it was a job in itself to empty out the room (not to mention the adjacent closet!) intended for the nursery. We had to take down a queen sized canopy bed and an antique, slightly larger than twin, bed and move 3 bureaus, an armoire, a desk, several other pieces of furniture, rugs and lots of decorative items. There were heaps of stuff to deal with all over the house. We were tired out before we'd even begun!

Only then, could the real work actually be started...

-Wallpaper Striping: There was one layer of dingy cream/yellow striped 1920's wallpaper to remove and expose the rough, gray, horsehair plaster walls underneath.

Here is a corner showing the old plaster and some chemical stripper working on the trim, though Jeff later decided to use the heat gun or just muscle on the rest. I just "love" the way all the hardware is painted over...

-Paint Striping: Paint on top of varnish with no proper primer had to be removed from all the trim and doors. Lots of the woodwork was removed for this. Also, we bought new quarter round to replace the old, rather than trying to scrape and reuse it. We opted to put new framing around the door inside the closet, so we could use the vintage trim on some window trim that needs repair in another room (at some point!). We also replaced the closet baseboard.

The room was vented and Jeff wore a respirator. Are you my mummy? A reference to a favorite Dr. Who episode ;)

-Drywalling: We had hoped to drywall over the plaster and lath ceiling, but for a number of reasons had to resort to demolition of the plaster and lathes, then put up dry wall on most of the existing furring strips. Did you think the first pictures showed the "gets worse before it gets better" part? Nooo...here's that picture!

Yes, the entire floor looked like this! It took four hours to make this mess and about an hour to clean up.

Fortunately, things slowly got better...

And it was time to hang the drywall...

--Attic Access: Since the rafters were totally exposed, why not frame a better/larger access hole to the attic for drop down stairs. We'll need the extra storage even more with a baby...

-Closet Prep: There are some horrendous, but thankfully *not* lead, paints used in this house. In the closet, was some of the worst sort. It chips off on its own in big pieces, but then other parts adhere like they will never come off. But, try painting over it and suddenly it is crackling and coming off all over! Jeff finally used a long handled razor scraper from an auto parts store on this paint and removed it like pieces of eggshell. Very stubborn eggshell. Hooks and ugly old shelves needed to be removed as well. Eventually, we decided it needed a skim coat of plaster before painting.

-Varnish Striping: The trim needed to be washed with a solution to remove all the varnish to enable new paint to stick.
-Final treatments of the surfaces: Everything needed filling/spackling, sanding and washing and tackclothing.
-Priming: One kind of primer for the trim and plaster (oil) and another for the drywall (latex)!
-Painting: Finally, at long last!!!

--Still TO DO: We are not quite done yet...We have to trim down and hang a louvered bifold door for the closet. I'm replacing the original door because I think this one will be space saving and allow the closet to have some ventilation. The entry door is outside and needs final touches on the striping, then priming and painting. We need to cut and paint a piece of trim to go over the built in cubbies. We need a cover for some wires that are spilling out from under the changing table (phone and ethernet). The attic access still needs to be completed, but we might wait to do that when I'm able to help install the drop down ladder. The door will be framed and everything painted to match the rest of the ceiling.

Choosing paint colors was almost as hard as choosing a baby name! There are so many that I would like to try, making it hard to narrow down the choices. Also, the east facing room goes through so many light changes during a single day that constantly change the look of the paint. We wanted blue, but not too babyish a color blue. We also hoped for a somewhat Scandinavian feel to it. Hopefully, combined with changing the cloth furnishings, the color can be suitable for a long time. I was hoping to go with a card with names like 'sleepy blue', 'languid blue' and particularly 'meditative blue' for a calming influence, but the names on the shade card we finally picked from seem suggestive of northern sea voyages! We opted for a blue-gray shade called 'windy blue' for the walls in satin finish and a very, very pale blue shade called 'icicle' for the ceiling (matte) and closet (satin).
ceiling and closet


For the trim, we tied the room in with the downstairs of the house using our usual 'luminous white' in semi-gloss finish.

We built open cubbies under a slope of the ceiling quite a few years ago and they were painted 'crewel tan' with 'luminous white' trim, so we had to make sure our new color choices went well with it.

All paint colors are by Sherwin Williams.

We are using some of my grandmother's vintage, maple finished dressers and a nightstand. Eventually a matching twin sized bed will go with them. The set was made in Bennington, VT, by H. T. Cushman Manufacturing Co. They are marked as "Cushman Colonial Creations" which were launched in the spring of 1933. They are an earlier version of 'shabby chic' as the edges were distressed to look like worn antiques!

For the first few years we will have a crib and changing table. Since there is no way to match the old furniture shade with modern nursery furniture, we are going for contrast with bright white.

Jeff working to assemble the crib.

All together!

I took both flash and non flash pictures to try to give a sense of the room. The flash ones portray the colors more accurately.

The off white shades were some we already had in those windows from Country Curtains, but we changed the curtains to some navy sailcloth ones we found at Target. I just need to find or improvise some tie backs for them.

I am considering getting a glider and ottoman, but if we get that it will go in the living room. We got a cute little upholstered chair from Ikea with a washable cover for the nursery. Now, I just need to sort out an ottoman for it.

The new louvered closet door will hopefully be hung soon! I will need lots of quick access to the closet though, so it will probably be open a lot with the door folded into the corner.

I like the two, blue rolly bins I got at Ikea. You can just see one on the closet floor. I may have to get a couple more!

The nightstand will be used next to the armchair for now. I think it will be handy and the shelf can hold books to read to the baby!

The color of the cubbies is not accurate in this picture.

The changing table was pretty easy to assemble.

The color of the cubbies looks right here.

The built in cubbies are good for clothes I need quick access to as well as toys and books. Ignore the books on the floor. We were using them to press down the rolled up edge of the rug. The mirror now leaning on the end of the bureau will eventually be centered on the bureau.

We got a cute Ikea ceiling light with clouds on it. It's actually white, the camera just had trouble capturing it.

We were going to use an off white rug we had in the attic, but then we found this navy one at Ikea and bought it on a whim. It may be harder to keep clean, but I think it looks a lot cuter! I would like to get a colorful playmat for the floor by the cubbies such as this one.

I would like to get a rocking horse...it's one of those things that's more for me than the baby!! Having a baby let's one indulge in buying toys you sometimes still wish you could have.

Of course, there are all the necessary helpers to fit in. We've gotten the Diaper Pail, a wastebasket, a Wipe Container/Warmer, organizational containers...so far.

It has been fun to start arranging clothes, swaddling cloths, burp cloths, etc, as well as the little toiletries.

We need to figure out what to put on the walls for some decoration. I've been thinking about navy blue letters that spell out his name and maybe some ABC or number cards or posters.

There is still some to be done, but I'm so happy with how far it's come!!!

We are really enjoying the space and I hope our boy will love it!