Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

2013...what a year!

This was my first year blogging, and I can definitely say I've learned a lot from the experience! While I haven't been the most consistent blogger, I do it because I enjoy it. Sure, I want to share my projects and experiences, but what it really comes down to is that I want to write. This is a fun way for me to write about the things I love: design, home projects and crafts, cooking experiments, and my garden.

Beyond the blogging experience, 2013 has been a great year. Sean and I celebrated our first anniversary, and we are both so close to finishing our graduate degrees. We saw my sister graduate from UCSD and start her own graduate program. We celebrated engagements and weddings with friends; new babies in the family; kids' birthdays. We made progress on our condo, bringing it more and more in line with our design vision, and less of a hodge podge of young college student furniture. I can't wait to see what 2014 holds in store!

Back to the blog world, here are my five top viewed posts from 2013:

Living Design: Packed Lunches for Adults

Living Design: Packed Lunches for Adults Round 2

Living Design: We Have Compost! Worm Update

slow cooker freezer meals

Living Design: And Then We Made Applesauce

Enjoy this recap! Here's to much more blogging fun in the new year!

2013 Reading List

I've been keeping track of the books and plays I've read this past year. Only those that I read all the way through made this list, so anything skimmed or unfinished isn't here.
Now that it's almost 2014, here's what I read in 2013:

America's Garden by Michelle Obama
Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
Cooking Green: Reducing your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen by Kate Heyhoe
Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck
The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen

Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
The Serpent's Tale by Arianna Franklin

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
The Grapes of Wrath by Frank Galati, adapted from the novel by John Steinbeck
The School for Wives by Moliere (trans. Richard Wilbur)

Galileo by Bertolt Brecht
Sonia Flew by Melinda Lopez
The Unmentionables by Bruce Norris
Oresteia by Aeschylus
The Karl Marx Play by Rochelle Owens
Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss

Hoping to have an even longer list in 2014! I miss getting to read fiction just for fun, so hopefully that is something I'll be able to do once again after I finish grad school. But even all the plays I've read for work and school make up a list that isn't too shabby!

Happy new year, everyone!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Felt Fruit - Handmade Holiday Gifts

Sean's family has quite a few kids, and we always like to get each kid a small gift for Christmas. This year, in keeping with my goal of handmade gifts, I sewed a bunch of felt fruit for the two toddlers.

Living Design - Felt Fruit

I made up bananas, lemons, apples and watermelon slices (one for each kid). I also made a carry sack, which served as both a gift bag and as a place to put away their play food.

I used a pattern from McCall's (this one) so I can't take credit for the fruit design. I will say that, while the watermelon and banana were fairly simple, the lemon and apple didn't turn out quite how I hoped. The pattern talked about adding floral wire stems though, something I didn't want to do for toddlers, so maybe that's part of the problem. Oh well, I still think it was a success, and I do look forward to making more for the next little one in the family!


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Saturday, December 28, 2013

TARDIS Scarf - Handmade Holiday Gifts

I already shared the simple Sharks scarf that I made for Sean's sister Sarah. Today I want to show you the Doctor Who TARDIS scarf that I made for his sister Amber.

I wanted to do a classy tone-on-tone TARDIS pattern. I didn't find anything that was what I wanted online, so I used graph paper to figure out the pattern myself. Then I did a sample in some scrap yarn to make sure my pattern worked the way I wanted it to...

And then I finally started the actual scarf in some lovely blue yarn! I went back over the pattern after it was blocked and embroidered the outline and details in silver - just a bit of pop to make the design stand out.

Living Design TARDIS scarf knit pattern

Unfortunately, as this was my first try at blocking a scarf, it didn't turn out perfectly. So I took the scarf back after we opened gifts so that I can finish it up the way I want it to look! (Amber didn't mind, she knows I can be a perfectionist about my creations...plus she go so much other Doctor Who stuff that she won't miss the scarf for an extra week or so of fixing it up!)

If you want to make this great TARDIS scarf for yourself or another Whovian, here is the pattern I developed:

Cast on 35 stitches
Knit one row, purl one row; continue alternating knit and purl rows until you have the base you want (I did 10 rows)
K5, P25, K5
P5, K25, P5

{K7, P3, K7, P1, K7, P3, K7
P7, K3, P7, K1, P7, K3, P7
*K7, P3, K1, P5, K1, P1, K1, P5, K1, P3, K7
P7, K3, P1, K5, P1, K1, P1, K5, P1, K3, P7* repeat this set of two rows 2 more times}

go back to the beginning of the {__} and do the whole section three more times

K7, P3, K7, P1, K7, P3, K7
P7, K3, P7, K1, P7, K3, P7

K7, P21, K7
P7, K21, P7
K9, P17, K9

P10, K15, P10
K10, P15, K10

P16, K3, P16
K16, P3, K16
P16, K3, P16
K16, P3, K16

Purl one row
Knit one row

continue alternating knit and purl rows until the scarf is almost the length you want, then repeat the TARDIS directions in reverse

Does that make sense? This is the first pattern I've ever created so please let me know if anything about these directions is confusing!


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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sharks Scarf - Handmade Holiday Gifts

I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday! Now that all the gifts have been given, I want to share some of the homemade gifts I gave this year.

First, an awesome San Jose Sharks scarf I made for Sean's sister Sarah. Sean was kind enough to model it for me before Christmas!

This was inspired by the "team colors" yarn I saw at Joanne Fabrics. Sadly, the Sharks colors of teal, black and white were not one of the pre-made yarn options. Instead, I picked up a skein of teal and some skeins of black & grey, and knitted them together to make a multi-colored, extra thick scarf perfect for those freezing ice rinks.

Since I was knitting with two strands of yarn at once, I kept the pattern simple and just did the whole scarf in garter stitch (that means just knit-knit-knit, nothing fancy). Then I added some fun tassels at the ends. I had just enough teal -- I started to run out as I did the tassels! So the tassels alternate grey/black with teal, or just grey/black.

This was a fun, simple project. My favorite kind of project for de-stressing after a busy day!


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