Saturday, December 8, 2012

Advent tree + pattern

I finally finished the Advent tree! It's over a week into December, so we are starting late. But I am *so* happy with how it came out. The picture doesn't really do it justice (bad lighting, sorry!) and I'm going to hopefully get another picture tomorrow. It stands about 39" tall. I sewed 25 buttons on (one for the star) and we can now hang an ornament on for each day.

This was my first time doing a "foundation half-double crochet." But once I watched  YouTube video (linked) and tried it out - it wasn't hard at all!

Now to start putting our Advent ornaments up :) Need some? Remember Snappy-Tots had a crochet-along with lots of great patterns!

The pattern is just a quick write-up, I'll hopefully have it tested for accuracy and make it look better soon, but I figured I will get it up now for any others still thinking or working on their Advent trees :)

1.5 skeins Red Heart "Dark Hunter."
1.5 skeins Caron Simply Soft Dark Teal Heather
(or whichever colors you'd prefer)

Some scraps of 3 different brown colors  (mine had lost their sleeves so I'm not sure their specific color names, but they were Caron Pound, Caron Simply Soft, and a Sugar n Cream cotton)

N hook

Yarn is held TRIPLE throughout the pattern.  
I held two strands Red heart, one strand Simply Soft.
Gauge is not important.

ch. 56
Row 1. hdc in 3rd ch from hook and in each across, turn
Row 2 - 9. ch 2, hdctog, hdc across to last two, hdctog in last two sts, turn
Row 10. ch6, hdc in 3rd ch from hook, hdc across, after last stitch of the row do 4 foundation hdc’s 
(for information how to do a foundation half-double crochet, see here:  You will be working in the bottom left “loop” of the previous stitch for each foundation half-double crochet), turn
Row 11 - 20. ch2, hdctog, hdc across to last two, hdctog in last two sts, turn
Row 21. ch6, hdc in 3rd ch from hook, hdc across, after last stitch of the row do 4 foundation hdc’s, turn
Row 22 - 29. ch2, hdctog, hdc across to last two, hdctog in last two sts, turn
Row 30. ch6, hdc in 3rd ch from hook, hdc across, after last stitch of the row  do 4 foundation hdc’s, turn
Row 31-38. ch2, hdctog, hdc across to last two, hdctog in last two sts, turn
Row 39. ch6, hdc in 3rd ch from hook, hdc across, after last stitch of the row  do 4 foundation hdc’s, turn
Row 40+. ch2, hdctog, hdc across to last two, hdctog in last two sts, turn

When only one stitch remains, fasten off, weave in ends.

turn tree over so it is upside down
starting at base of tree, count 21 stitches over from the right and attach yarn in 22nd, ch2
Row1. 11 hdc, turn
Row 2-5. ch 2, hdc across
Fasten off, weave in ends.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Midnight elves

I was watching a movie last night where the mom wakes up in the middle of the night and decorates the house so that the kids go to bed with the house "normal" but wake up to it all fancy/holiday-fied.

I thought... how awesome.

But, we also enjoy decorating with the girls and don't want to give that up.

Who says we can't have both though?

Tonight, we brought in our little fake tree and set it up on Blue's nightstand. When she wakes up, she'll have a little bit of Christmas just appear in her room. Next year, perhaps we'll do more and make it fancier - garland and whatnot. But for this year, this small bit of magic is awesome enough :)

Room when Blue went to bed:

Room when Blue wakes up:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rice and ice

We had a nice December afternoon. I worked at the coffeehouse this morning then Mr. River walked over with Blue and Baby Bear, and we all continued to the mall (about a 5-10 minute walk from our house).

Our mall has an indoor ice rink for hockey and ice skating - and it's in the foodcourt. So you can literally sit over the ice rink and watch them skate/play. We picked up some Japanese food - Mr. River got sushi - and woodfired sandwiches and watched some people practice ice skating

Photo: Lunch over the ice skaters

If you can't tell by the picture, daddy got the girls ready.... the good thing was that he remembered the diaper bag. The bad part was that it was empty except one diaper LOL

After lunch, we picked up a gift for Mr. River's work gift exchange, and then we had the girls say hi to Santa - who had no line. They were able to stand in the room with him and chat for a bit. Well, Blue stared at him all wide-eyed and quiet, and Baby Bear petted Blue's hair.

We're hopeful that this "introduction" will make it easier when they get pictures next week.

Then we looked at the time, and raced home so naps could be had and Mr. River could get to work!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Is Christmas Here?

The day started in the wee hours of the morning as I finished sewing a hat onto a snowman:

Then, at a far more decent hour, we finally took down our fall season wall so that we can start our Winter and holiday crafts. I have a pretty grand idea for our "tree" but I need to get to work on it. Hopefully I will have it up in a few days :)

Beyond the tree, though, we have lots of winter crafts planned, plus our ornament advent calendar.

Today, we started some snowflakes and a Christmas countdown chain. 

For our snowflakes, I got the idea off pinterest to use coffee filters. These work ok, though they're a bit too flimsy for young children. We'll probably do other ones with normal paper. Blue's scissors are missing, and her purple spring-loaded ones are not nearly as "preschooler-friendly" as they claim. So I let her use my scissors, under our sharp (pun intended) eye. She did good, but enjoyed hanging the snowflakes up the most. We put them up on the windows of the girls' room. Between those and the Christmas lights, it's looking quite nice!

While Blue and daddy worked on the snowflakes, Baby Bear did some coloring. She bored of that quickly, though, and moved onto tasting the crayons. So, we switched her to playing with the fall leaves we had taken down.

I worked on the Christmas countdown chain, with Blue helping me count. Blue is "getting" that Christmas "is coming." But is having a harder time realizing that we'll be waiting a few weeks... not hours. I think the chain will help with that, as well as making our wall even more festive :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012 Christmas!!

In my family, we always started our Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving. No Black Friday shopping for us, we were busy decorating our (fake) tree, hanging up wreaths, and sorting through ornaments while we listened to Christmas music.

Mr. River doesn't seem as enthused about doing all the Christmas decorating on the day after Thanksgiving, and this year Thanksgiving fell so early that I was still in November-fall-fun mood and not feeling Christmasy quite yet.

But, with Thanksgiving and my birthday behind us, I am now feeling ready to deck the halls! Or at least, our apartment.

And so, today we started with the lights!

Blue helped daddy hang up the lights while Baby Bear stared up in awe. Blue helped me pick out some icicle lights at Target the other day to go with our standard Christmas decorating lights.  Of course, they were even more appealing since they are blue :) We put those out on our balcony.

Out front. Mr River and Blue hung up our multicolored lights, and then we even decorated the tree out front! I hope the complex doesn't mind lol. They're doing inspections next week so we'll see!

Blue decided to add some Christmas spirit  to our sidewalk :)

We discovered some awesome mushrooms at the base of the tree!

Blue admires the balcony

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Of hats and Etsy

So as the month is coming to a close, we're about to begin decorating for Christmas and start up our winter crafts. We've already started a few, and pictures will probably be up in a few days :)

But, in the meantime, I have to share my excitement at finally starting an Etsy shop! People have told me for years to start one, so we'll see how it goes :)

The starting batch included a new style that I really loved doing, became a bit addicted to, and made three of LOL. My goal is to list 2-4 hats each week and fine tune it as I figure out what people are interested in buying. I need to set up a parallel Facebook shop to keep up the social side, so stay tuned for that. Hopefully I can do that in the next few days, but some IRB stuff on the research side has me a busy bee this week.

The first batch of hats!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


So a second post because this one will be a big pic bomb :)

Yesterday, we spent an hour outside playing with the girls. It started with Blue riding her Strider (balance bike) and showing us how good she's getting at it. She's preferred her tricycle for most things, but the last few times we've taken her to ride something she's requested the Strider. And now that she's getting better at it, she's really preferring it! Baby Bear sat with me and played with textured balls while we watched Blue.

But as the sun started going down, we spotted the leaf pile on one of the lawns. San Diego doesn't really get a colorful fall, but our complex was awesome in planning the feel of the community and planted many trees that would still give us a feeling of fall. We get a few weeks (or maybe even over a month) of leaves falling. And if it's been awhile since the lawnmowers went over the grass, we can actually scoop them up into piles. We watched neighbor kids do this the other day, using a frisbee as their "rake," and their leaf pile was still there.

So how could we resist letting our San Diego girls have some true fall fun of rolling in leaves?

Tricycling the bay, Gator Golf at the mall, and Gymbo!

The past few weeks have been pretty chaotic in the non-kid areas of life.  The whole house was very sick, I presented at a conference, had standard work write-ups, and I also put in a few hats to sell at the local consignment store. Busy busy!

This week, though, is very nice and relaxed :) So time to catch up on what's been going on!

First, we've been trying to do weekly playdates with another family from Blue's school. The first week, we met up at Mission Bay. The girls played on the play structures and then rode on the bikepath for awhile with their tricycle and scooter. Mission Bay is such a great place to spend the afternoon with the kids - numerous open grass areas, playgrounds, and of course the actual bay. It's also great for kite-flying. But, the bay is windy and cool. With the time change and falling temperatures, it was just too chilly and dark to resume the playdates there in the late afternoon. So our weekly play-dates moved to the friend's house, where the girls played while the moms crocheted. :)

We've also been doing more walking to the mall. It's only a city block away from us, and there is a nice walkway that avoids all the main streets.  The weather has been cooler at night (low to mid 60s in the evening) which makes the walk so much more pleasant than the heat we had been experiencing. Jackets, cool air, and getting to watch the leaves fall - it's nice! We even stopped at Starbucks the one evening and picked up a cakepop for Blue - who has only had them a few times. She took one bite and declared she was done lol

The mall has also been renovated this year and has a new playground as well as putting greens! So it's nice to walk down there just to windowshop and enjoy some of those amenities. We even brought our Gator Golf clubs the last time we went :) 

Finally, we enrolled Baby Bear in Gymboree! Blue started Gymboree when she was about 10 months old and just loved it. Aside from all the developmental benefits and small things like taking turns, transitioning activities, and sharing - it is just a great one-on-one thing to do with them. Our Gymboree offers "Open Gym" (free play) six days a week, which really maximize the value you get for the cost.

Baby Bear LOVES Gymboree! And we are so very glad we enrolled her. It's nice to have something to do with just us and her while Blue is at school. We do gymnastics with Blue and now Gymboree with Baby Bear. I think it's nice to have that dedicated time with each, though of course we could do it in other ways as well.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tis almost the season

The holiday attire crafting has begun! If I'm to not go insane during December, I need to also start the various gifts I'm making. Hoping to do that soon, as soon as I finish the other list that's a mile long :P

These baby-legs/leggings are from a pattern I was testing for an author. They turned out super cute, though Baby Bear's chubby thighs didn't let me pull them up any further haha.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween and Thankfulness

Happy Halloween 2012 from Blue and Baby Bear!

Blue had us worried she might be getting sick, and we weren't sure if trick or treating and other standard Halloween events would be going on this year. I had a full day/evening of "HouseAWeening" all planned - essentially our crafting and other activities all jammed together. But, Blue was fine and was able to go to her school parade, to her friend's Halloween party, and trick or treating! Mr. River even got the evening off early and joined us!

What a great way to end October!

We started November off with some family arts and crafts to think about, talk about, and celebrate being "thankful." It's a rare thing that we're all involved in the crafts, as we usually do them while Mr. River is at work. So we were thankful for that alone :)

Appropriately, we painted and assembled some turkeys to go up on out fall wall! Blue and I talked about what thankful means, and we both thought of things that we are thankful for - to put on her turkey. Baby Bear also had her turkey filled up - by Blue and Mr. River - of all the things she loves and is thankful for.

I think they turned out pretty cute :)

First we did the turkey bodies. Baby Bear tried to first color them, but then we turned to painting

Then we made the feathers. I first tried to cut feathers out, but they were too small to easily paint. So instead, we painted a paper first, then cut leaves from it :)


Blue helped glue the finished feathers onto the turkeys

And then handprint turkeys!

Tada! I finished their small details and then we talked about things we are thankful for.

I think they turned out great :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Autumn and hope

So my laptop's trackpad is broken and the laptop is getting fixed.

Until it's done, Mr. River and I are sharing the PC, which means all work no play :)

Well, a little bit of play, while Mr. River sleeps!

It does mean a lot of crochet time after I get my work done though! And I finally finished two scarves for my aunt :) An autumn scarf and a breast-cancer ribbon scarf

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wall pumpkins

Lots of posts today!

I posted about the autumn tree we made,our apple picking, and the falling leaves art we did.  We've also been coloring and painting things related to fall.

Today, we painted pumpkins to create a pumpkin patch next to our tree. One thing I really liked with how our art happened today was that I did an art project with each girl while the other rested or napped.

So while Blue rested, Baby Bear and I painted some pumpkins :) We tried to do diaper print pumpkins, but those didn't turn out so great haha! So we just stuck with fingerpainting and ballpainting the pumpkins.

I used a ball from Baby Bear's activity garden since it is easily washable. Baby Bear rolled it through all of the paint, turned it around to see all the colors, and eventually tried to taste it.

After Baby Bear was done painting, into the tub she went. Then it was her naptime. Blue's rest time was up, so then I got some one-on-one time with Blue. She watercolor painted her pumpkins. Then I printed out several coloring pages of pumpkins and Halloween fun and we spent some time coloring those with crayons.

oh and did I mention the delicious pumpkin spice muffins we had for snack?

What a great day - art, fun, and one-on-one time with each!