On a Knitting Roll

I’ve been really getting into knitting lately after taking a break from it for a while. I made myself a pair of fingerless gloves (link to pattern) in a beautiful teal color (Caron Simply Soft in Pagoda)! It took some time because, after almost completing the first glove, I realized they were huge and restarted. Here is the enormous first attempt:

 

I have rather slim hands though, so I do not fault the pattern. I started over and cast on 36 stitches instead of 44. I reduced the pattern by 4 stitches at the beginning and end of each round. I might have even been able to reduce it by another 4 stitches, but I am happy with my results.

I was on such a roll knitting in the round that I started another pair right away in a different green yarn (Red Heart in Medium Thyme). I used the same basic pattern but switched out the cable for a moss stitch pattern on the backs of the gloves. This pair came out slightly bigger than the previous pair, perhaps due to both the yarn and the moss stitch pattern.

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Now I am ready to start another knitting project. I had become used to knitting at the end of the day once the toddler had gone to bed. I bought some yarn yesterday to start a pair of socks, but alas I don’t have the right size needles. That will be remedied soon! Until then, I have plenty of other projects (and a 2 year old) to occupy my time.

 

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Adventure Story Illustrations

I thought I would take a moment on this snowy day during nap time to share my progress on my illustrations. I have mentioned before here that I wrote a short adventure story for my son Jack in which he is the hero. I previously posted a few sketches to go along with the story. I have been adding color and ink to them and below are the finished illustrations. I will be doing at least two more.

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Excuse the lighting. My best chance to work on them is at night after the little man is in bed. Some of my other art can be found on my portfolio site Artist CBenoit. Prints are for sale on Etsy ArtsyAro.

Sentimental Gifts

First of all, Merry Christmas! We had a busy day visiting with family today. Jack was able (and more than willing) to unwrap presents this year. Last year, he pretty much slept through the holidays. He was excited to get a slide, a robot blanket, cars, a tricycle, and a wooden toy box made by my parents. My husband and I only got him a couple small things knowing he would be spoiled by everyone else. He’s become attached to a stuffed bear dressed as batman that my husband picked out. He enjoys chewing the bear’s snout. I think it helps relieve some of his teething (and boy are we teething!).

The present I have been working on for the past few months is a short adventure story in which he is the hero. I am currently finished writing the story, but I have been busy working on some illustrations to go along with it. The idea for the story came to me just after Jack was born. When I would sit in my gliding chair nursing him for hours, I would brainstorm little stories where he was the main character. I jotted down a brief outline, wrote a couple pages, then promptly forgot about the whole thing. It wasn’t until October that I picked it back up.

One of the ideas behind the story is that Jack becomes acquainted with people he will not be able to know in real life. Three of the characters that he befriends are based on three special people: my grandfather, my husband’s grandfather, and our dog Dusty. Both grandfathers had passed away the year before Jack was born. We had to put down our old yellow Labrador Dusty earlier this year before Jack was even crawling. I wish Jack could have known Dusty when he grew up. I imagine them playing fetch together and being best friends. In my story, Jack is six years old and has his dog Dusty by his side. On their adventure together, they meet many new friends, two of which are named after our grandfathers. Even though they are in animal form in the story, I tried to capture their personalities. I wish Jack had been able to meet them. By writing this story for Jack, he will get to know them in the book and become familiar with them in a way that he could not before.

During this time of year, when families gather to laugh, sing, and exchange sentimental memories, I give to my son the gift of a bigger family that he did not meet, but still can know. Merry Christmas everyone!

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Hello Again!

Well, apparently I subconsciously decided to take a year off from my site. Sorry for the hiatus. It has been a very crazy but happy year.

On October 8, 2014, my husband and I welcomed our baby boy Jack to the world. For those of you who need stats, he was born at 6:38 am, weighed 6 lbs 13 oz, and was 20 inches in length.

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Since his arrival, I have been lucky enough to enjoy being a stay at home mom. We spent the winter hibernating, cuddling together with blankets in my rocking chair, and generally just getting to know each other. Spring consisted of building and planting my raised vegetable garden and Jack’s realization that tummy time is not actually evil and can be quite fun once you learn how to roll over. Summer was all about crawling around, learning how to interact with everything, taking walks together, and (on those sweltering hot days) staying indoors with the ac on while baby wiggles around in only a diaper. Fall is now here. We continue going on walks, but our big project is Jack’s first birthday party! Our little man is growing so fast!

Throughout this year, my craftiness has not abated. I will share with you all some of the things that I have been working on. One new thing for me is the Etsy shop that I have opened. If you have seen some of my paintings on previous posts, I am now selling prints, so feel free to check it out here: ArtsyAro.

And of course, I cannot end this post without sharing a picture of my little big boy Jack!11753700_10102532020272929_8311412558419177986_n

Kamakura, My Favorite Spot in Japan

We got back on Sunday from our trip to Japan. We had stayed seven nights in Yokosuka. It was our one big trip for just the two of us before our baby boy arrives in October. It was an amazing experience, especially for someone like me who has never left the country or even been on an airplane before. I had my husband hang up these two wind chimes that I had bought as souvenirs.

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We bought them both in Kamakura, the first in a little shop across from Hokokuji Temple where there is an impressive bamboo garden.

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The second wind chime was bought on Komachi-dori Street, which is full of little shops and food booths. The man who owns the shop made the wind chimes himself using glass bottles.

I have to say that Kamakura was my favorite place to visit in Japan. It is a short train ride from Yokosuka. We actually visited it three times. I love Komachi-dori Street because it is full of so many cute shops, many of them with homemade items. There is also a store dedicated to Studio Ghibli products (Studio Ghibli produces popular Japanese animation films such as My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle). On two of our visits, I stopped at a stand that makes steamed buns filled with a red bean paste. I’m not sure what they are called, but I am determined to find out and see if I can make them myself because they are so yummy.

Komachi-dori Street is very popular because it is near an even more popular tourist spot: Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

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The walk from the train station to the shrine is also very nice. There is a tree and flower lined street that you walk down to get to the shrine. Wakamiya-oji Street is very beautiful despite the fact that we were about a month late to see the cherry blossoms in bloom.

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We were stopped several times by school children also visiting the shrine.

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The Japanese school children wear matching hats! We were stopped by five groups of them. Most of the Japanese people there know at least a little English, and the children were doing a school assignment to practice. It was very cute. They would start out by saying hello and asking us if they can talk with us. Of course we always said yes. They would each say, “My name is __. It is nice to meet you,” and each would shake our hand. They would ask us for our names and ask that we write it in their work book. They would show us a map and ask us to point to where we are from. They would also ask us a couple of other questions like: “do you like sushi?” or “Do you like anime?” or “Do you like Daibutsu?” which is the Great Buddha that we visited. Then they would ask to take a picture with us, and lastly they would thank us by giving us a gift. We now have a little collection of hand made bookmarks and origami from the children we talked to.

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Although we visited many places in Japan, Kamakura will remain my favorite.

Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie

I decided to bring a dessert to my sister’s house for tomorrow for Easter. I asked my husband what he might like me to make, so he picked cherry pie seeing it is his favorite. I have never made it before, so I will admit to cheating and buying the canned filling, but I have to say that I am pretty proud of myself for attempting to do my first lattice top crust. It looks so yummy, and I have to keep telling my husband that he can’t have any until tomorrow. If it tastes as good as it looks, next time I might try making the filling from scratch when I have more time.
Unfortunately, I spent part of the day going to three stores looking for a vacuum part. The belt on my vacuum cleaner broke. The three stores I went to did not have the right size. I’ll try again some other time, but for now I will just have to live with my furry rugs. Anyone else with three pets can understand how fast the animal hair builds up. I will survive it though. I hope everyone enjoys their Easter celebrations tomorrow and eat plenty of yummy things!

A Productive Day

I know I have not posted in a while. I apologize. First, I will share some news: I am pregnant, and we will be expecting our baby in October! I am about 12 weeks along now. We are very excited because this is something we have been trying for. It was something that had to be planned because my essential tremor medication causes birth defects so I had to gradually stop it before we could even start trying. We can’t wait, but there is plenty of things that need to be done before October.

I seem to be past all the nauseau and throwing up. I finally have some energy back, so I have been trying to put it to good use. Just this morning, I swept the floors and did some dishes. Then I went outside to check out the yard. There are still some patches of snow, but I can see most of the yard. We have a lot of water sitting in our back yard. We are lucky that we have a sump pump, and we have been hearing it turning on a lot these past few days. Although the basement is dry, I would still like to fill in some areas in the back yard and try to make the water flow into the ditch that leads to the drain along the road in front of the house. I started the first step today by putting up stakes and twine to show where the water is filling up. When the yard is finally dry, we will need to find some dirt to fill in those areas and hopefully slope it slightly to go down to the ditch. Here is my progress:

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I basically spent the morning wading around in my rain boots. While I was at it, I grabbed a trash bag to pick up around the yard. My husband had hit one of our trash cans with his truck in the wee hours of one morning when he left to go to work. There were little pieces of shattered blue plastic all over our driveway. Now it looks a lot better. When it gets a little drier out and all the snow is gone, we will have to rake. We also didn’t finish burying the sump pump pipe last fall, so I would like to get that in the ground. Also I plan on building a raise vegetable garden on that side of the house seeing that area gets the most sun throughout the day.

It was nice to finally have a nice day to be outside. After I got some fresh air, I baked some Oatmeal Raisin Cookies:

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My parents also stopped by seeing they were in the area. We fired up the grill for some burgers and hot dogs. We also had salad and potato chips. I’m ready for summer foods! Yesterday, we turned on the grill for the first time this year. There is nothing like grilled food to bring on the good weather. My parents were happy with it too because they said that their grill is still buried under 18 inches of snow. I guess that is what we get for living in New England.

Anyway, I feel like I accomplished a lot today. Next weekend I hope to get out the shovel and try to help the water drain easier to the ditch along the road. Maybe I will also dig up some of the giant weeds we had last year before they start to get big again. I would really like to have a nicer yard this year. Not that we don’t have enough things on our to-do list for when the baby gets here. My second appointment with the doctor is on Friday, so we are looking forward to it. At my first appointment, we were able to hear the heart beat of our baby. It’s very exciting!