Friday, November 27, 2015


Remember those Springbok circular jigsaw puzzles I mentioned from my post about visiting my grandparents at Lake George? Well, I'm a little obsessed. There's so much I love about them: the vintage look, the variety of artwork, the unique circular boxes, and all of the wonderful memories of working on these with my family while on vacation. These circular box designs were only produced from around 1964-1975, though Springbok continues to produce puzzles today.

cozy birdhouse | springbok circular puzzles

I was thrilled to discover a thriving market for these puzzles on eBay. They sell for around $20-$40, depending on condition and whether they are missing any pieces. I found a website that catalogues all the circular puzzles (almost 100 different designs) and kept an eye on eBay for my favorites. The first one I bought was Familiar Birds (of course), which I purchased using my iPhone while sitting on my grandparents' couch. Since then, I've bought 4 others. I was especially excited to find "Silver Blaze" which depicts scenes from the Sherlock Holmes story of the same name. I have already assembled both of these plus "Garden Flowers" and "Treasure Hunt" (always a favorite at Lake George because of it's bright colors). I am currently working on "Famous London Scenes," which actually came sealed in its original cellophane!

cozy birdhouse | springbok circular puzzles

When I finish, I'll leave it on the table for a while to be admired and then pack it away in the box. I'm looking forward to more hours of puzzling some upcoming wintry weekend!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

cozy birdhouses

Here is a perfect little "cozy birdhouse" project: decorative birdhouses! I first made one of these as a cake topper for a baby shower a few years ago, and finally made some for myself last year. I'm sharing photos now that they've found a permanent place in our home, decorating the top of our kitchen cabinets.

cozy birdhouse | decoupaged wooden birdhouses

These wooden birdhouses come in lots of styles and usually cost around $1 at a craft supply store. Each of my five houses has a slightly different design. I started each with a light sanding and two coats of craft paint. Then I painstakingly measured and cut coordinating pieces of scrapbook paper to fit each surface. This was the time-consuming part and involved a lot of measuring, calculating, sketching, and even a bit of trigonometry. Square shapes were easy but the hexagons and cones were particularly challenging. (This could just as easily be accomplished by cutting pieces a bit large and trimming for a good fit, but I'm a math-loving perfectionist.) I attached the paper pieces to the painted house with a coat of matte finish Mod Podge (a decoupage medium) and then sealed everything with another coat.

cozy birdhouse | decoupaged wooden birdhouses

I'd love to make a set of these as seasonal decorations... little haunted Halloween birdhouses or a little village of Christmas birdhouses. They'd also make a neat hanging mobile, maybe combined with some handcrafted birds. Add it to my ever-growing list of project ideas!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

glass anniversary

Note: One of my pet peeves is "before and after" photos (for anything: makeovers, weight loss, home improvement, etc) where the before photo is poorly lit, grainy, and taken from an unflattering angle. Of course the "after" photo looks better when the "before" looks terrible! If you also experience this pet peeve, be warned: I am about to do exactly that.

Dan and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary back in September. The traditional gift for 3 years is either glass or leather. We could have exchanged vases and wallets, but I was looking for something a little more creative. So, we put in a stained glass window!

Most of the homes in our area (including ours) are Craftsman style, built in the early 1900s. Many of these homes feature beautiful stained glass windows which add so much personality and character. I've been a little jealous, so for our "glass anniversary" we thought, "Hey... Let's put one in!" We even had the perfect spot, a wide window high on the wall in our front room. The window itself was old, damaged, dirty, and full of bugs and leaves. Here's the crummy "before" photo.

cozy birdhouse | replacing an ugly old window

We started by contacting a local stained glass shop to get an estimate and discuss design options. I was pleasantly surprised by our amount of involvement in the process. I expected to provide some styles or examples and receive a sketch or two back to choose, but I was actually able to sketch the design myself! I based the design on early 20th century prairie style. It's at least period-appropriate for our house, even if it doesn't perfectly match our architecture.

cozy birdhouse | my design for our custom prairie-style stained glass window

I liked this style for its geometric designs and earthy tones. Dan and I picked out the glass colors from a box of samples at the glass studio. We chose a relatively neutral color palette of gold and light greens, which were fitting for this design and will look okay if we (or a future owner of our home) decide to redecorate. Finally, here is my "after" photo:

cozy birdhouse | our custom prairie-style stained glass window

I still have to do a little touch-up painting on the window moulding, but I absolutely love the finished window. The colors change depending on the lighting, looking paler in bright sun and more saturated on cloudy days or in the evenings. It's a beautiful focal point for this room, and one of the first things I notice every day when I walk through the front door. It's also a great reminder of our three wonderful years of marriage!

cozy birdhouse | our custom prairie-style stained glass window

Sunday, November 1, 2015

a sweater in one week

Last week I shared photos of a sweater that took me a little over six months to knit. Now I have one to share that I finished in just seven days! I received an invitation for my cousin's baby "sprinkle" (like a baby shower, but a bit lower key for a second or third child usually) a few weeks ago. I knew I wanted to knit something, but the date came up on me a bit faster than I expected and I knew I wouldn't have time for anything elaborate. This pattern, the Baby Tea Leaves cardigan looked simple enough and only required one skein of yarn. Perfect!

cozy birdhouse | hand knit baby tea leaves cardigan

I researched/procrastinated buying the yarn until it was too late for timely shipment of an online purchase, so I swung by my local yarn shop last Thursday. I was looking for madelinetosh pashmina as specified by the pattern but instead found this lovely Wonderland Mad Hatter yarn in a pretty colorway called Tea Tray. The gray should be a good neutral to pair with all her new little pink outfits! I knit the 6-12 month size, but if she takes after her older brother, it will be too small already!

cozy birdhouse | hand knit baby tea leaves cardigan

Here's what knitting a baby cardigan in a week looks like:

Thursday: Yarn purchased. Lady at the store offered to wind it. Yes! Time is of the essence... this saves having to dig out the winder and swift from the closet at home! Cast on and knit a few rows.
Friday: Yoke finished (that's the part from the neck to the arm holes).
Saturday: Took a break to visit with family. Spent 5 hours at IKEA and stuffed a U-Haul completely full of furniture for my brother's new house! Then stuffed ourselves full of pretzels and spätzle at Hofbrauhaus.
Sunday: Ah, so rejuvenated from my break... Body, button bands, and one sleeve completed!
Monday: Finished the second sleeve... knitting complete! Hand washed and laid out flat to dry.
Tuesday: Buttons purchased. Could have attached them too but feeling a little lazy. Watched an Australian mystery show and fell asleep on the couch instead.
Wednesday: Buttons securely attached, sweater photographed. DONE! Sweater in 7 days.

More details are available on My Ravelry page.