Thursday, December 31, 2015

a look back on 2015

Happy New Year! Here's a look back at some of our most notable moments from 2015.

cozy birdhouse | a look back on 2015

Top Row (left to right): A sad goodbye to our baby boy Nolan; our first trip to the state of Texas for Katherine and Dave's wedding; Joe and Roshni's Hindu/Catholic wedding extravaganza in Orlando; and a visit to Universal Studios with Dan's family

Middle Row: A week in Wales for work; my first (and probably only) half marathon; a relaxing time at Lake George with my grandparents; and a late-summer vacation to the beach with Dan's family

Bottom Row: A visit to Colorado and the Rocky Mountains for Paul and Colleen's wedding; our three year anniversary gift; our annual visit to the symphony's Christmas show; and our baby girl!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

knit gifts

I love giving (and receiving!) handmade gifts. At first I was a little disappointed that I only managed to make two presents this Christmas, but then I realized that even two was a major accomplishment on top of everything else we've been doing: traveling, preparing for Christmas, and even working on home improvement projects. (Why did I attempt a big project in December?? Never again!)

First I made this knit pillow for my friend Kathy, who develops a computer program at work which is affectionately nicknamed "The Pink Icon" for its distinctive bright color. Since she is also an avid knitter, I knew she'd enjoy this knit replica of the pink icon. We are such nerds. Project details are available on my Ravelry page.

cozy birdhouse | knit pink icon pillow

Side note: Isn't this little knit bird she made as part of my Christmas gift adorable??

cozy birdhouse | knit bird ornament

Although I finished the pillow back in November, I didn't even start the second gift (for Dan's cousin Sean) until the week of Christmas! These are the "Trigger Gloves" from a set of patterns published by the National Defense Program under the title "Knit for Defense" in 1941. I made a few small modifications which I listed on my Ravelry page. Also, thanks to Dan for being my hand model!

cozy birdhouse | fingerless trigger gloves

I was a little worried about finishing these gloves with only a few days left until Christmas. But, after two cancelled flights on the 23rd, we gave up on air travel and decided to drive to visit Dan's family instead. Instead of 90 minutes on a plane, I had 9 hours in a car to knit! The gloves were finished, blocked, and dry with plenty of time left before the big family Christmas party!

cozy birdhouse | family photo 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

tidings of comfort and joy!

Merry Christmas! Let's play a fun little game for the holiday. Can you count the number of people in our family Christmas photo below? Just a warning... it might be a little trickier than you think!

cozy birdhouse | family christmas photo 2015

Okay, did you guess eight? Try again.
Nine?? Nope!
Ten??? Yes!!

Need help finding those last two? Take a closer look at both me and Emily... and you might need the help of an ultrasound machine. That's right! Dan and I will be welcoming a baby girl into our family in mid-May, and Emily and Christopher are expecting a baby in mid-June! Little cousins just a month apart.

I am officially 20 weeks along as of today. I've been feeling well, and I'm definitely starting to show! Here's an ultrasound photo of our little girl from earlier this week.

cozy birdhouse | our baby girl!

Just wanted to share our exciting news with everyone! Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

gingerbread droids

Don't worry, this post is spoiler-free!

The Star Wars hype in our house peaked Thursday when Dan and I went to see the new movie ("The Force Awakens"). The excitement had been mounting since early November when we purchased our tickets for opening night. The event was a perfect excuse to break out my Star Wars cookie cutter set, which Dan bought me as a Christmas gift a few years ago. Instead of making traditional cut-out cookies with elaborate decorative icing like the box suggests, I decided to make gingerbread cookies. Less complicated and very appropriate for the holiday season!

cozy birdhouse | gingerbread droids

May the force be with you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

hermione hat

This little project combines two of my favorite things: knitting and Harry Potter. The pattern is Hermione Hearts Ron and is based on the hat worn by Hermione Granger in "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince." I included a photo from the movie promos below, just in case you were having trouble telling me apart from Emma Watson.

cozy birdhouse | hermione's cable and eyelet hat

 hermione's cable and eyelet hat

The yarn is Knit Picks Andean Treasure in colorway Fog Heather, which is super soft and drapey ("drapey" is totally a word in knitting jargon). This is my first time ordering from Knit Picks after drooling over the catalogues for many months. They have a full-color, two-page centerfold spread... of just yarn! It's wonderful. More project details are available on my Ravelry page.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now, but I am a creature of habit: knit something once too big, undo and reknit on smaller needles for a perfect fit. Happens (almost) every time! Fortunately, reknitting a hat only takes a few days. I completed this one just in time for our annual Girls' Weekend in Chicago. We celebrated with all our favorite traditions: lunch at the Walnut Room in Macy's, dinner at Grand Lux, lots of shopping, and a sleep over at my cousin Courtney's condo. I even bought a few gifts! Now it really feels like the Christmas season.

cozy birdhouse | chicago girls weekend

Friday, December 11, 2015

guernsey blanket

Note: I wrote this post after finishing this blanket over a year ago in November 2014, but didn't edit it until now. This blanket is getting plenty of use on the couch and still looks great!

I think I got a little over-ambitious after finishing my Sweatshirt Sweater. I mean, it IS quite an accomplishment to knit a whole sweater (even if it did take two attempts to get the fit right), but that pattern is not terribly difficult. It's mostly just plain knitting with an occasional fancy stitch. I guess I started to think, "If I can knit A sweater, I can knit ANY sweater." False. For my next project, I had chosen the Monte Rosa cardigan. It's just so pretty with its cables and lace and accent color! It turns out, I am just not cut out for projects where each row has multiple cable charts involved. It took me SO LONG to work one row because I had to keep looking between the project and multiple pattern pages. It felt like a chore every time I picked it up... that's not how hobbies are supposed to make you feel! Finally, weeks into the project but only half way through my first skein, I cut my losses (literally) and decided to use the yarn for a different project.

Enter the Guernsey Blanket. I modified the design for the gorgeous Guernsey Wrap to make a throw-sized blanket. This project was everything I needed after struggling through that cardigan for way too long. The pattern changes every few rows to keep it interesting, but it was simple enough that I could watch TV or chat while working on it. I finished the whole blanket in just a month, even though it's the biggest project (most yardage) I've ever worked!

cozy birdhouse | guernsey blanket

cozy birdhouse | guernsey blanket

It's perfect for staying cozy on the couch during chilly evenings, and it's so pretty! Additional details on my Ravelry page.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

simply charming

Of my many little collections (I promise I'm not a hoarder), my favorite is my silver bracelet charms. I started collecting these in 1999 when my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by taking our whole family on a Caribbean cruise. I bought a charm at each island and one from our ship's gift shop. When we returned home, I had them attached to an inexpensive silver bracelet. I slowly added to the bracelet, buying a charm whenever we traveled to a new place. Eventually the bracelet became quite heavy and jangly, and I was too afraid of losing it to ever wear it. Instead of keeping my little souvenirs tucked away in a jewelry case, I removed the charms from the bracelet and gave each its own hook and label in a display box which hangs on the wall in our bedroom. Since then, I've added charms from Europe, Canada, and all over the United States (California to Maine!).

If you hold your mouse pointer over each of the photos below (or click if you're on a smartphone), you can view one of my photos from that trip! Some of the boxes don't have a specific year listed, if it's somewhere we traveled frequently and I couldn't remember during which specific trip I purchased the charm.

Silver charms used to be ubiquitous in gift shops, but now they're a bit harder to find (and more expensive). I have the best luck with small jewelry stores and huge souvenir shops, so I usually try to scope out a few possibilities before I travel somewhere. On our trips, I always breathe a small sigh of relief when I find a charm and can stop the search. I have room for 5 more charms in this display box, so I'll have to plan a few more vacations soon!