November 30, 2023

Weekend Review

I feel compelled to post something, since I've been away from the blog for a few days. It's actually been nice, not worrying about a post or trying to write something interesting and timely. Our weekend was nice, especially having Mr. Geek home since Thursday. We went and got our Christmas tree on Saturday, since we were having such a leisurely weekend and didn't want to try to cram it in during one of the next few, in between parties, guests, and weekend chores.
Someone was not happy about having to go back in that carseat after getting to touch all the different kinds of evergreen needles.
This is a horrible photo of our tree, but I promise there will be better ones to come.
I took it last night after I had decorated it, and today was so gray and rainy that it was pretty dark inside.

Oh, and today, we woke up to GRAFFITI ON OUR HOUSE and garage. It's not like we're living in the inner city here in PA Dutch country. I thought there was an "unwritten rule" amongst taggers (graffiti artists) that you do not put graffiti on a house, unless of course it's abandoned. I assume I'm in the know about these things after teaching art to teenagers. It's only a little bit under the kitchen window, but of course the last residents of this house didn't leave any extra paint behind after they had painted the house. Once the rain and sleet stop tomorrow, Mr. Geek is going to try to scrub it off. If that doesn't work, we'll have to spray paint over it (it's too cold to cover it with latex). At least the garage can be painted over in white, and at least we are going to put siding on it next summer. So that kind of set the mood for the day--sleet and sloppy letters scrawled in gold spray paint. Ugh! Let's hope this week turns out better.

Tomorrow: SoJo and I begin our mommy and me swim class! Update on Monday.

November 27, 2023

Giving Thanks

Every night as I lie in bed, I count my blessings to fall asleep (thanks Diana Krall!). It's a wonderful way to end the day, and since I have so much to be thankful for, it always puts the difficulties of the day into perspective.

  • When I think of how active and exhausting my baby is, I feel blessed that he is so healthy and curious and full of life, and how lucky I am to have been gifted with this child.
  • When I think of how hard it is to make it through the day alone with a baby, I am thankful for my wonderful husband who supports me (emotionally and financially) and who shoulders a lot of the childcare responsibilities in the evenings and on the weekends.
  • When I think of the mess that is my house, I am grateful to even have a home to live in.
  • When I think of how many fewer things we can afford, I'm thankful that my husband's salary allows me to stay at home to raise our son.
  • When I think about how exhausted I am from tending to a crying child two or three times a night, I'm grateful to my network of family and friends who have stopped over to watch the baby while I take a nap.
  • When I think of how lonely I am for adult company during the day, I am thankful for the blogger friends that I have met this year. Our shared experiences and their words of kindness and advice have gotten me through some really tough days.

This list could go on and on, because I'm learning to cultivate a grateful heart. I could name 50 things that I am thankful for right off the top of my head, from the little things like a cup of tea prepared for me by my husband, to the big ones like a large, loving family. I'm grateful for too many blessings to name!
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2023

Just a Quick Note

Lily from Sorrelli Jewelry let me know that they are offering 20% off of all of their full-priced jewelry starting this Friday and ending on Monday, December 1st. So if you were coveting something sparkly that you saw during my Sorrelli giveaway, now's the chance to snatch it up!

Wordful Wednesday: The Family That Dries Together...

There was something poetical about this image that made me take this photo.
I never put our wool or wool-blend sweaters in the dryer, and since it was cold and damp yesterday I couldn't hang them outside. I put my favorite sage green cowl-neck sweaters and Mr. Geek's grey one on the radiator and then clipped SoJo's onto ours to dry. As I was sitting on the floor folding laundry, I glanced over and found the image quite poignant. I guess that's the sentimental poet in me.

Laundry Haiku
Three sweaters hang. Two
big, one small. Knitted family
soaking up steam heat.

{forgive the artistic license from the 5-7-5 syllable guideline}. I'm so thankful for my sweater family, and of course, the real one that fits inside the sweater one! In case you don't hear from me before Thursday, Happy Thanksgiving!

For more Wordful Wednesday, say hi to Angie over at

November 25, 2023

Handmade Holiday

Since I love all things handmade, I'm starting a new feature here for the weeks leading up to Christmas called "Handmade Holiday." It's going to be a mix of handmade finds that you can add to your wish list or shopping list, and also a few craft tutorials of items that I'm making as gifts this year. As much as I'd like to post all of the things I'm making, some of my friends and family read this blog, so I don't want to spoil their Christmas gifts!

On a related note, I just won a huge giveaway over at Real World Martha. The booty included many independent and handmade retailers, including bath salts from BoyFrog,

soap from The Golden Goat,
Dead Sea Goat's Milk Soap, $7

handmade play dough from Busy Little Elf, (only $10...Wow!)

a teething necklace from Smart Mom Jewelry, yummy cookies from Tates Bake Shop,
a book and a handmade pouch from The Simple Wife and a book from GenX writer Tricia Goyer. Wow, that's a lot to be thankful for this week!

So stay tuned for the scoop on some cool handmade stuff for the holidays. Look for my Handmade Holiday button!

November 21, 2023

Dear Pre-Motherhood Self

Dear Pre-Motherhood Self,

Simply put, I miss you. Those days of reading books {sigh,books} until 2am, sleeping in, and having long leisurely breakfasts and coffee are on my mind a lot. Now don't get me wrong, having SoJo in my life has been more fulfilling than I have imagined, but it's also really really hard! Harder than when you were a student teacher. Harder than the time you cooked a week of 5am breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for 15 men on a meditation retreat. Harder than enduring your bouts of existential depression.

But as the saying goes, we want what we can't have. Or you don't know what you got til it's gone. You get the picture, dear self. There was nothing in the world you wanted more than to have a baby, and now that I have one, well, I still don't want anything more than that baby (maybe another!), but honestly Kathleen, there are times when I wish that parenting wasn't a 24-hour-a-day job. Especially those hours on the tail end of a day. But dear self, I'm learning to accept that which cannot be changed, and not wish for things to be otherwise.

And you cannot imagine how much you will love this little boy. You'll want to cuddle and kiss him all the time, you'll worry about him when he's in his crib at night and you're under your covers in bed. You'll want him snuggled next to you, even when all he wants to do there is play and crawl around. You'll fret when he's teething and you'll carry him when making dinner because he won't let you put him down. You'll daydream about the expression he'll have when he lets go of your hand that first day of kindergarten, and you'll wonder where his future mate is at this moment (getting her--or his---diaper changed too?).

Dear self, I know you've made a promise to the universe that you'll be so grateful and complete if only you were given a baby...and guess what, I'm keeping that promise! Every day ends with gratitude for the blessings that have been sprinkled upon me.

One more thing: enjoy your sleep while you still can!

Kathleen (Soren's Mama)

For more Friday Fun Link ups, head over to The Secret is in the Sauce for more saucy letters!

November 19, 2023

Wordful Wednesday: The Holiday Card

I've been trying to take a decent photo for our Christmas card. After multiple attempts to dress up SoJo in Christmas-y clothes, this is all I get:
That resolution looks like something out of a "Tool" video. Could the boy just stop moving for 30 seconds?

How about this expression:
I call that "Marijuana Mellow." Not the best look for the Christmas card. And time is running out here, since I need to order them and get them in the mail, oh, sometime before New Year.

And finally, my little Oompa Loompa elf.
How do you all get the little one to sit still for the holiday photo? I'm thinking that we'll be doing a family photo this weekend so that one of us could at least hold him still. Now where is that darned tripod?

For More Wordful Wednesday. visit Angie at

November 16, 2023

From Hand to Home

With the seasonal buzz about taking the handmade pledge, a lot more people are going the handmade-gift route this year, myself included. Last Christmas I made gift baskets for everyone that contained homemade pancake mix, homemade spicy cocoa, knitted dishcloths, and felted postholders. I love knowing that objects that originate from my hands will add beauty and practicality to the homes and hearts of the recipients.

The current economic disaster has forced people to get creative when it comes to gift giving this year, and I am no exception. Fortunately for me, I am an artist, and am pretty used to making hand-made gifts. In fact, my entire existance beyond food and shelter seems to be about creating things out of raw materials. Whether it's knitting
Matinee Jacket and Cap for my goddaughter

Fuzzy Scarf

...Handmade Books...



Handfelted Ornament
(I gave these to everyone in my office and my husband's office one year)

...or dyeing silk scarves...

I sometimes feel like the MacGyver of crafts. Give me some wire, feathers, and a yard of burlap and I'll make you a hat worthy of Queen Elizabeth. Although my son is too young, I can't wait to make presents with him. I imaging cozy weekends in December collaging papers onto wooden boxes or gluing clothespins together to create ornaments or notepad holders.

When I was a girl, my mom always had our house stocked with art supplies. Growing up with 4 boys who all grew up to be scientists, I was the one who got excited over new packages of crayons, construction paper, and glitter. I remember one Christmas in particular when my mom taught me how to sew simple felt ornaments. I went nuts that year, and from then on we never had any decorating "holes" in our Christmas tree. I got a little obsessed, you could say.

The Parent Bloggers Network wants to know all about your handmade holidays, especially with your kids. Do you make the decorations? Cookies? The gifts? What kinds of things do you make? I'm dying to know too!

This post was written as part of the Parent Bloggers Network's blog blast sponsored by Klutz about handmade holidays--which truly seemed meant for me to participate in! If you're a bit shy when it comes to making things by hand, get yourself some Klutz books. I worked in a shop that sold these and I was amazed by the assortment of craft books they made, and all of them came with the materials to make the craft. If I would have had access to these as a girl, I'd probably still be parked at my parents' kitchen table, learning how to make just one more friendship bracelet design!

November 14, 2023

Tea for One

I hope you all enjoyed the tea party that my co-hosts and I worked so hard to bring to life. As a new mom, it's often hard to connect with other women in a "real" way--either my son is hungry or ready for a nap or it's raining and we only have one car. So it's hard to arrange to meet up with other moms, especially when my son is still a little too young for playdates.

As one of our guests so perfectly wrote, we sometimes need to devote time to ourselves to recharge, and also to reconnect with the selves that are often buried beneath the dirty diapers, mounds of laundry, and the endless cycle of dishes in the sink. This week I was able to spend some time writing about things of interest to me (rather than my son), doing a little crafting, and spending time visiting blogs and chatting with other bloggers. Blogging has been a way for me to lift my spirits each day between baby naps. I'd say the only downside is that it's a little obsessive!

So in the spirit of our tea party, take some time out every day just for you. Make a cup of tea for one, pull out your knitting or your laptop, and breathe deeply.

A special thank you goes out to my wonderful co-hosts, Mannequin of Fractured Toy, Angie of 7 Clown Circus, CanCan of Mom Most Traveled, and Naomi of superdumb supervillain, all of whom I feel I haven't really mentioned much throughout the week! You all are on my sidebars though, so forgive me. You girls have been so wonderful and you all did such fantastic posts this week. I was honored to be part of your tea party. Ok, so when's the next one? I guess we'll all be recovering from this one for a while, but anytime girls! My kettle's always hot!

November 13, 2023

Tea Party Craft: Felting--Part Deux

The moment all 5 of you have been waiting for! Tutorial Part Two: Dry or Needle Felting! I'm going to embellish the piece of felt I made yesterday in my sink. To refresh your memory, click HERE.

When you last tuned in, your hero (uh--me!) left you with something that looked like this:
Now I'm going to explain as best I can in words and images, the craft of needle felting.
First you need a felting needle.
What it is essentially is a pointy needle with tiny barbs on the end of it, poking out of the sides. You can buy them at AC Moore craft store in the knitting section, or here. They're fairly inexpensive, but you will need a few. Some have coarser barbs and others have smaller, closer together ones that are used for more detailed, tinier sections.

Here's my stash, stuck in a ball of felt inside an old silver punch cup.
Once you have a needle, you really should have a chunk of upholstery foam to lay the felt on while you're poking the needle into it.
I just hold the felt in my hands, but you're likely to poke yourself, which I often do. I just forget to pick one up when I'm at the fabric store.

Here's that felt again. I started molding it into the shape I wanted while it was damp.
When it dried in the morning, it kept its shape. One might call this "blocking" which is what knitters do to shape their knits. See my Entrelac Headband post.

To begin, you need some wool, roughly twice the size of the design you want to add to your piece of felt.
I want to make polka dots on the larger piece of felt, each about the size of a pea, so I took a chunk the size you see above.

Next, I twist it up and wrap it around itself into a circle for the polka dot.

Then lay it on the felt where I want it to go. With my coarser felting needle, I start punching into the wool, connecting it to the larger piece of felt behind it.
What's happening is that the barbs are connecting the fibers, bit by bit. You bring the needle in and out, pulling the fibers together. It's as if the fibers are being sewn together with the felting needle. When factories are making commercial-grade wool felt, they use large machines with hundreds of these type of needles to adhere the wool together.

Here's the felt with green dots. Each one took about 2-3 minutes.
I added more dots in blue and magenta, and then turned the felt back into that circular shape and needle-felted it together, forming a tube. The final result: a coffee or tea cozy for hot paper cups.
I'd like to add some embroidery when I get a chance. Sorry I didn't have a paper cup on hand to model this. I thought about cutting the edges down, but I like the raw, organic line that it creates. I did roll the top down a bit, since I just liked how it looked.

This is what the inside looks like. You can see the colored wool fibers poking though to the inside.
As you can imagine, the possibilities are endless. I've seen needle felted dolls, animals, ornaments, and embellishments of all time. Just do a search for it and you'll find tons of examples.

Hope this post made sense, and that maybe you'll try needle felting sometime!

November 12, 2023

Tea Party Craft: Felting--Part One

What a week! I've had a record number of visitors to K&K, and I'm thrilled to have found some new blogging pals. This post is one that I was really looking forward to writing, however it kind of got stuck on the back burner due to a lot of chaos around the house. But Mr. Geek took the baby out tonight and let me have some time to work. They went looking at chop saws, tools, and other manly things.

This is one of my primary crafts: FELTING! I take wool and turn it into objects like hats


and ornaments
I do a combo of wet felting (the Part One that I'll be sharing today) and needle felting which will be up tomorrow.

In wet felting, wool will felt when 3 things happen simultaneously. The wool must be wet, hot, and agitated, just like when you and your signficant other are.....wait, I won't go there! Seriously though, you need to have hot water and you need to be agitating the wool.

I start with wool that's already been cleaned, dyed, and carded (combed straight), because I just don't need to be dealing with poopy, dirty wool. Visit Lola to get the details on that.
I buy my wool from Halcyon Yarn, where you can get a big bag for $36. This is generally sold in long, combed "ropes" called roving, which is mostly used by yarn spinners. I like that you get 19 different colors. And by the way, I found this place WAY before Martha Stewart's show did.

I also use a washboard and a plastic felting mat, which looks like a sushi roller. It has plastic ridges on it, which agitate the wool. I've used things like bamboo beach mats and cut-up mesh laundry baskets, but these are easier, and they cost about $3.

I start by laying out the wool on the nubby side of the plastic mat. I pull of pieces of the combed wool, making sure that the fibers all run in the same direction and are parallel to each other.
You'll want to make the wool about 30-50% bigger than you want the final product, since it will shrink. You've probably experienced this when you've accidentally thrown a wool sweater in a hot dryer.

Next, add another layer of wool going perpendicular to the first layer. I chose purple.
Keep adding layers, making sure you have at least 4. My wool sandwich is below:

Now the felting will begin! You need a little dish soap or vinegar to keep the wool from sticking to the mat or your hands and pulling the layers apart. This is crucial for the first part of agitation. Once the wool starts to bind together, you don't have to worry about the layers coming apart.

I take it over to the sink and add a sprinkling of hot water. Then I roll up the mat.
I've rolled it up and will start rolling it between my hands.

Here's a peek at what's going on inside, after about a minute.

I keep adding hot water, and periodically turn the felt before rolling it up again. Now it's starting to felt more and more, and getting smaller and smaller.

I open up the roll every so often and flip the felt so that both sides and all the edges are worked equally.

Once the fibers stick together and I can't pull them off the top, I transfer the felt to my washboard, for some old-fashioned elbow grease.
I rub the felt on the board, turning it as I go to work all the sides. I flip it over too.

Finally! It's felted as much as I'd like, after about 10 minutes. You can't pull any of the fibers off and the felt feels thick and sturdy.
I like how the colors mingled together. It's always a surprise to see how it turns out.

The final step is called "fulling". I roll the felt in a towel
and roll it back and forth, pressing as I go. This removes excess water, and also tightens the fibers.

I flip the felt over, and give it a 90 degree turn and do it again.

And voila! A piece of handmade felt!
How does this relate to tea? Well, you'll just have to tune in tomorrow to see. I'll be demonstrating needle felting then. I'll give you a helps protect your hands from a hot beverage.
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