Category Archives: WordLily

A very dot-ty party

The birthday I’d been looking forward to and planning for months has come and gone! My little boy is 1. I planned his birthday party around the idea of Damien Hirst’s spot paintings, although it probably just looked like it was polka-dot themed.

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The invitations: Hand-drawn and hand-cut (with details printed inside), each one unique.

The decorations: We got a huge pack of scrapbook paper (but 8.5×11, since we’re cutting it all), in all the colors of the rainbow, and a circle cutter. I started with the curtain. A had seen strings of circles sparkling as they swung and twirled on the air currents in one of our rare trips to the mall, and he’d been mesmerized. We cut 2-inch circles then spaced them about 1 or 1-1/2″ (I just eyeballed it) apart, applied rubber cement, placed sewing thread on the first circle, and pressed a matching circle into place, sandwiching the string between, then continuing up the thread.

Eleven circles got me about 3 feet in length. My strings are all between 3 and 4 feet long. When I finished constructing each thread of circles, I cut the end, leaving a tail of maybe 18 inches, which I used to tie it on to the curtain rod. It’s not the sturdiest decoration, but it worked for the party. 🙂 All you sewists (is that the term we’re going with these days?) could also make it by stitching through a single circle, leaving space, then the next, etc.

Then we also cut circles of various sizes and used them to create both the birthday banner and various spots (heh) of interest throughout the house, including a “table runner” (tablecloths and 1 year olds don’t mix) and something on the front door to draw guests in.

The cake: Three layers of gluten-free chocolate cake (from the best cake mix ever), plus cupcakes. Frosted with 7-minute frosting. (I got pasteurized egg whites so I didn’t have to worry since this recipe doesn’t require the hand-held mixer over the double boiler bit, so the eggs are never on the stove. So much easier this way!)

And then the dots. Instead of starting with melted sugar syrup on the stove (or Instamelt, which I discovered too late since I can’t get it locally), I was inspired by stained-glass cookies to try just melting candy in the oven — stained-glass cookies without the cookie, essentially. I bought a mixed bag of Jolly Ranchers and one of LifeSavers. Between the two, I had a good range of colors (just no yellow). After some experimentation, I ended up melting the LifeSavers in my mini-muffin pan and the somewhat larger Jolly Ranchers in regular-sized silicone muffin cups.

With the oven at 350°, making sure each piece of candy was centered in its place, I let them melt and puddle. I started at 5-7 minutes, and then I was watching them very closely. If they go too long, they start bubbling and that’s kind of a mess to deal with. If you need to tip the tray a bit to get complete circles, do that as you remove them from the oven. Let them cool and them pop them out onto parchment, then apply to cake. The ones in silicone were a cinch to remove, compared to the ones in just the nonstick pan, but I couldn’t find silicone mini-muffin cups, so hey. [They get sticky relatively quickly, especially in high humidity. And they don’t last forever.]

The fruit: I made a fruit salad to match the circular theme, using the melon baller on watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and papaya, and added pineapple chunks and halved grapes.

The event: He had a great time pulling on curly ribbons and letting them spring back. He liked unwrapping presents, until the pile of paper and tissue became more interesting than unwrapping for the moment. He quite enjoyed his first taste of refined sugar — he took teeny tiny pinches of frosting until he’d eaten nearly all of it — but he didn’t really care for the cake (I don’t think he even tried it, even when I placed a small bit in his mouth).

Happy birthday, baby!

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We announced the shortlists for the 2013 INSPY Awards on Monday, in case you missed it. The lists have some really great books on them again this year, check ’em out!

I spent the remainder of Monday writing lists of all the books I could read and all the things I could knit, now that I wasn’t reading from a set list. Not that I didn’t enjoy the INSPYs reading, but, you know. There’s still freedom in not being constrained. My lists were shockingly mundane. I couldn’t even bring my brain to brainstorm effectively, since I’d been seriously cramming for so very long. (All this before Boston (or even Pulitzer) news. Another day of tragedy. I have no words.)

And then, Tuesday, I had ideas. I even managed to get them jotted down before I forgot them, and I even more shockingly got one of them fleshed out!

Besides those two, I’ve started two other pieces. One is now finished and scheduled to publish. Another is still in progress, but I made significant headway.

And yes, I did pick up a book. I’m reading So Cold the River by Michael Koryta. Don’t expect me to push myself to finish it in a day or two, though. I like room to let my reads breathe.

11 months

My baby is 11 months old. Not a baby much longer. His nose has changed a bit, it’s no longer the baby nose. We’re planning a birthday party. (Need to get those invitations done!)

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He claps, he waves, he climbs stairs unaided. He’s very interested in being walked around (hanging on to your fingers). He dances (happy tummy dance, to music, to the music in his head). He initiates games (peek-a-boo, row your boat, a bouncing game). He’s started trying to play tug with Maisie (she’s still a bit strong for him).

He signed his first word yesterday: More. He says Mama and Dada, and a couple other words we haven’t figured out the meaning of yet. His babbling is starting to sound more and more like real words and even short sentences. He’s starting to communicate — to be understood, even, and that’s thrilling to me.

He has eight teeth and is very close to having two more.

He has a lot of hair. It’s not long, but it has definite volume.

He’s starting to transition (or maybe already has and I’m just still in denial) to only one nap each day. He often needs more, but sleep is hard for him.

He’s very adventurous, but he likes to know Mama is near, especially in new social situations. He only just started to cry when I leave him.

Note: I wrote the following two paragraphs when he was just over 8 months, intending to add to it, polish it, and post it at 9 months. Oops.

He’s always pushing the boundaries. I’m not talking about obedience. Before he could really stand, he was trying to pivot. Before he could solidly support himself, he was attempting to crouch down and pick something up off the floor, while standing. Before he could stand unsupported, he was placing one of his hands on a door knob and opening, closing, opening, while still trying to balance, with only support from the other hand.

And while it’s exasperating and sometimes scary to watch, at least for this parent, it’s also inspiring and thrilling. He’s constantly growing and pushing himself. Reaching new heights (literally and figuratively). Learning new skills and tackling challenging feats.

Swap hat received!

I talked previously about the hat swap I participated in with my due date group on Ravelry.

Well, the hat for A arrived this week, all the way from Germany! 😀

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I love it, it’s perfect. It’s soooo soft, the color is perfect, the buttons add the very best touch of whimsy. She (karulin on Rav) used the Woolly Wormhead Bubbles pattern.

Wanna see it modeled? Well, OK. If you insist.

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Oh, and the chocolate? Perfectly dark, with the greatest taste of orange. (And I don’t even usually like fruit in my chocolate.) I loved doing this swap.

I can haz books?

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Yes, the little guy is in full pull-books-off-the-shelves mode, and I’m at a loss as to what to do! I’d cleared the bottom shelf, but now he can reach the next one (and not just on this bookcase). This seems like an unsustainable precedent.

Side note: I haven’t reviewed any of those books, although I’ve read them, so if you’ve been pining to hear me talk about something in particular? Ask, and I’ll see what I can do. 🙂

Lightning blogging

I saw the ladies at Mason-Dixon Knitting start the year with 15-minute-limited blog posts. I thought that I might actually be able to scrape together 15 minutes, and mused that even small posts of this sort might be an improvement over the not-posting I’ve been accomplishing lately, so here goes.

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It’s the last day to nominate a book (one per category) for the INSPYs! Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. If you’re not aware, the @INSPYs are book awards that seek to award novels of great quality that have something to say about or that explore the Christian faith (whether from Christian publishers or not).

On the reading front, I’m gearing up for all my reading all the time to be INSPYs nominations for quite awhile. But in the meantime, I’ve just finished my 3rd book of the year (need to update the list here on the blog). Said list is at least as far up-to-date as through the end of last year: Books Read list.

On the knitting front, I’ve finished a couple quick-ish pieces (need to get them in the mail!) and have cast on for one major simple-knitting long-term piece. I’m thinking I might need to find something a little more challenging (not rocket science, but not miles of stockinette) as well.

I’m still thinking about my birthday (party), but I haven’t found a satisfying solution for the early days of February. The weather is too cold and unpredictable, there are potential scheduling conflicts out the wazoo, and the party wouldn’t be any fun without the right people there. Hrm. I’ve always loved February, mostly because it’s my birthday month, but I’m really stuck on this at this point. Anyone got ideas for me?

At some point I hope to get around to catching you all up with what I’ve been reading and what I’ve been making. I’ve got notes jotted and drafts started and photos saved (including an update on the babe). One substantive, overdue post actually started. Actual reviews might be a pipe dream, though.

And, apparently, 15 minutes is plenty of time for me to craft a blog post of this nature, at least when my brain is so completely full of random topics to toss out there. What say you of the 15-minute blogging? So far, I’m cautiously optimistic that the constraint will allow me to actually post instead of just think about posting. The real test will be when it comes to actual meaty(er) content, though, not silliness like this.

I’ve also wanted to post a goal-list of some sort, for the new year, but I haven’t even started thinking about that yet. I could, potentially, look back at my goals for 2012 and see how I did, though?

Time’s up!

Advent Tour: Christmas trees and me

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[This is my first time participating in the Advent Tour, which is a little embarrassing. Why haven’t I participated in something so right up my alley before, I ask you?]

DSC_0048Growing up, we always went to cut down our Christmas tree. It was a big outing, complete on the best years with hot (burning hot!) cocoa and the scent of pines and firs. We always went the day after Thanksgiving. Finding the perfect tree was no easy task, but I was up for the challenge (as were my siblings).

For me, the perfect tree has always been almost perfectly conical. No holes for me, please! And also gigantic. If there was room between the tree and the ceiling — especially after the tree topper’s been added — there must be some mistake.

We had a tree when we could in college (me and my roommates). When I had my own apartment, I went and cut (not by myself) a tree. After getting married and seemingly always traveling over Christmas, we sometimes had smaller trees for practical reasons, but it has always been hard on me when we’ve gone that route. There’s just no substitute for a good tree! One year we didn’t have a tree at all, because our house was on the market and the realtor strongly recommended against it.

Three years ago we had 12-foot ceilings and we made the most of them with a gorgeous fir that nearly grazed the proverbial rafters.

Our Christmas tree in 2009. (Click to enlarge)

Our Christmas tree in 2009. (Click to enlarge)

I. Loved. It.

I was enraptured.

Since then, we moved to much smaller space, with more normal 8-foot ceilings.

This year, we have a 5-foot tree, a fir again, as has become our custom. It’s sitting on a box so as to be out of the little one’s reach. I’m pleased with our tree for probably the first year since that big one. Which might not seem like that long, but trust me, it is a long time when one’s tree sets the tone for the whole holiday season like it does for me.

It’s certainly not the perfect tree, and we didn’t go cut it ourselves (because no Christmas tree farms have fir trees within more than an hour of here), but it’s fitting.

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Our tree this year, framed by one of the bookshelves.

What kind of tree do you have? What’s the most important aspect of your decorating when it comes to getting you in the Christmas spirit?

We have a mix of handmade (by us and by others) and not-handmade ornaments, a touch of a theme, but also many individual, personal ornaments. I’m not sure it tells a straightforward story, it does reflect who we are, I think.

Asa loves to just look at it, although he’ll gladly play with the ornaments too (all non-breakable).

Merry Christmas!

Right Now (7 Months)

The little-one-who’s-not-so-little turned 7 months old yesterday. A whole month more than half a year. It’s mind boggling.

Right now, he is still super smiley and he laughs a lot.

He has five teeth; I think a sixth is probably close.

He army crawls and is pretty proficient at it, although he hasn’t yet seemed to grasp that he could move himself to Mama (or whoever) when he suddenly decides he wants to be held, instead of lying there crying.

He has a pretty firmly developed (although relatively new) pincer grip. He can pick up and feed himself puffs (and he’s gotten to where he can also crush them between his fingers, if he wants, too), and dead leaves, and dust bunnies …

He has learned that Mama can walk away and leave him. Even if he’s playing contentedly, either by himself or with Daddy, when I walk by, he cries.

He *loves* to watch and chase and pull her hair pet the dog.

He enjoys being read to, when he can sit still long enough (which isn’t all that rare, actually).

He doesn’t really have a favorite toy.

He doesn’t like long car rides.

He likes eating food (pretty much everything he’s tried he’s gobbled down), but he clearly doesn’t think of it as sustenance yet.

He takes two naps a day, which hopefully total three hours or more. He goes to bed at 6:30 or 7 and wakes up at 6:30 or 7, sometimes (but not always) waking once or twice in the night. Sometimes when it’s time for sleep, he rejects any soothing efforts and reaches for his crib, crying until we put him down. It’s got a I’ll do it myself! feel to it.

He loves to bounce and jump, whether with his hands being held by someone, in the exersaucer, or in the Johnny Jump Up. Moving vertically is very fun.

He likes motorboat sounds and tickles. Buttons are fun, as is being outside. And windows. Mostly everything goes in the mouth. He likes playing peek-a-boo, and is sometimes the initiator.