A simple baby blanket

When I was pregnant for the first time, I didn’t know much about knitting. They tried to teach me in elementary school, but I hated it. The teacher told me I wouldn’t be able to knit properly because I was left-handed, the same reason she gave for refusing to teach me crochet. I wasn’t really interested anyway. I didn’t like what we had to make and I was very annoyed that the boys of my class got carpentry lessons (that would be so much more fun, I thought). Anyway, my mom wasn’t too much interested in knitting either (I remember a project lying in the bottom of our giant oak closet for years and years), but she helped me to finish the school assignments and that was it for a decade.

My in-laws though, they were much more into knitting. My mother-in-law was raised with knitting socks (no playing or reading before knitting a few rows each day) and though she was never really exited about a project, she always had something on the needles. I watched my sister-in-law knit a cute little sweater for her baby and I loved the idea of making things like that. So when I found out I was pregnant, I decided to knit too.

I photocopied (we’re talking 1991, so no internet) a pattern from a library book and bought a set of needles and some cheap acrylic yarn My plan was to make the babies matching, but not identical, sweaters and trousers. I’m not sure how I managed to read the pattern (nobody taught me) and get started, but I did. Sadly, a few weeks after I cast on, I was rushed off to the hospital for possible early labor and for the rest of my pregnancy I was on medication that helped stop the labor, but also caused very sweaty hands (I was told that was common). That was too much for my newish knitting skills. I also may have reached the harder part of the pattern, I don’t remember. But I do know I deserted my knitting, even though I did bring it with me to the hospital..

Anyway, short story long, I always wonder what would have happened if I had found inspiration on the internet those days. Reading knitting blogs and forums has taught me so much. Why didn’t anyone point out to me that knitting baby blankets would have been a wonderful project for a beginner and why didn’t anyone suggest that thicker needles and better yarn would have been much easier on my sweaty hands? If only someone had cared enough to help me with that, I imagine myself happily knitting myself through four weeks (total) in the hospital and another four (or maybe six? it’s a blur) weeks of not being allowed to do much at home. And oh, those first weeks after the girls were born, when they were still in the hospital and I wasn’t allowed to be with them all day (again: this was 1991). Knitting would have taken the edge off feeling so useless and empty.

Oh well, what’s done is done. You gotta put your behind in your past, as Pumba says in the Lion King (a favorite in our house ever since it came out – we still quote from it).
And right now, here I am, knitting a little blanket for my grandson. It brings back a lot of memories and there are some difficulties knitting it, but I’m trying to focus on visions of a happy, healthy little boy that will be wrapped in it, play on it and sleep under it in just a few months.

And yes, if my daughter (or any mom-to-be) decides she wants to knit something for him I will tell her to start with a simple baby blanket.


I’ve been going back and forth between ignoring and posting about “all that happened” last week, but I think I’m not going to write about it. It’s not that interesting and there’s really no need to dwell on the negative. Let’s just focus on the happy little things instead, that’s always the better choice.

When we talked about my kitchen Deb mentioned that my snake plant looked so healthy. It did, and I’m kind of proud of that, but I have a confession to make. I ever so cleverly took a photograph that didn’t show my spider plant (it was behind the snake plant on the table). Because what was in that pot wasn’t looking so well (top right). And neither did the other four pots of snake plants I had..

Once upon a time (i.e. six months ago) these pots (and two more) were full of healthy, leafy spider plants, but this is what’s left of them. I think the roots rotted away because of the overwatering I did before we left. So I took out the ones that still had more or less healthy roots and repotted them.
I really, really want them to survive. They are descendants of my daughter’s spider plant, and hers was a descendant of the one I had to leave behind when we moved here. It may sound weird, but I’m kind of attached to them.

So much better!


“Magic exists. Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live.”

— Nora Roberts

Wishing you all a great week!

Very sophisticated

I’m sorry that I haven’t been answering your sweet comments, nor reading and commenting on your blogs this week. I had these last few posts prepared, so I decided to go ahead and publish them, but this week has been a rough one. No big stuff, don’t worry, just a bit of sickness and a lot of annoying little things that left me exhausted and burnt out. I hope things will be back to (somewhat) normal next week.

Another one of the patterns on my if-I-ever-get-a-baby-to-knit-for-list was the Baby Sophisticate. And oh my goodness, it’s so, so cute!

I had to adapt the pattern a little bit, but it turned out really well. I had thinner yarn (and thus thinner needles) than the pattern calls for, so I used the amount of stitches to cast on for the bigger size, but kept the length you have to knit at the smaller size. I also added a few stitches (3 at each side) for the underarms, to make the body just a little bit wider.

And then I had to find the right buttons. Oh my. I have so many buttons, but it was really hard to find some for this one.

Still, it ended up just right, I think. Very sophisticated indeed.

(I’m tempted to try and find a pin stripe fabric and make him some very sophisticated trousers to go with this)

Just right

I’m slowly going through my restored archives, trying to add the missing pictures back in (if I have them, some of them are lost forever). Last week I found this post about my blue cotton sweater.
It’s so funny to look back at that post. At that time, I just thought I was making a summer sweater, may be to wear in the Netherlands, maybe for the cooler moments right here. But this sweater may be one that I will cherish for a long, long time, since it was part of my outfit as “Mother-Of-The-Bride” when E. got married last September. (Oh, that’s exactly one year ago this Sunday. Time flies!)

I remember thinking I needed to knit myself a shawl or a sweater for the wedding since September weather can be very tricky in the Netherlands and most of the wedding was going to be outside. But then I bought a beautiful dress and I realized this sweater was actually the right color and the right design to cover it. So I hurried and finished it just in time.

Well, it turned out to be a beautiful day. The couple got married outside under a giant old oak tree, we had diner inside, but partied outside till late that night (or early in the morning, actually). I wore my sweater until it turned dark and then I changed into jeans and a warm sweater dress, but that’s beside the point. That simple blue sweater turned into something very special and I smile every time I see it.

I thought I had good pictures of me wearing it during the wedding, but I don’t. Apparently, it was even warm enough for me to take it off when we did family and group photo’s. So here it is, on a hanger with the dress and on the bed because I really don’t feel up to modelling it right now (I tried, really, but I’m a mess and even a beautiful sweater can’t remedy that).

In my kitchen

Lately in my kitchen I have…

:: experimented with my new slow cooker. I never had one before, but I’m hooked. So convenient to fill it up in the morning and have diner ready in the evening.

:: made my favorite soup (chorizo, sweet potato, leek, onion, red pepper, corn). So good!

:: made several soups from leftovers. I started doing that a while ago and it’s such a great way to use every little bit of food

:: baked (fried?) potatoes. I always considered this a labor intensive meal, until I learned that leaving the skins on is actually quite tasty. So now it’s one of my go-to easy meals

:: snacked on frozen food.Fruit sugars are also not the best choice for my body, but sometimes you got to indulge, don’t you think? (at least it is much healthier than chocolate ice cream)

:: been simplifying my life and my pantry by admitting that I’m not a baker (I have nobody to bake for – can’t eat it myself and T. is gluten sensitive and not into cakes and cookies that much anyway). I’m also slowly accepting that I’m not a fancy cook either, so I don’t need every spice available in the shop, just the stuff I use most often. My pantry is starting to look so organized now!

:: been thinking about above simplifying and us going out for diner at least once a week and how I’m only cooking for the two of us now. Does that make my kitchen a less important space in my home than the kitchen in my Dutch home where we lived with three teenagers?
I think not. It’s still where we start our days (making coffee) and sit down to eat every single day. It’s where the cats ask (loudly) for their diner. It’s where I make my teas, where I dry and store my herbs and it’s where I prepare my medicinal oils and tinctures. It’s where I often sit down to make phone calls, where I take a lot of blog pictures (I like how my knitting looks on my kitchen table) and where I intend to set up my sewing corner soon. It’s where I try to find a bit of peace and calm when my racing mind keeps me awake at night (chamomile tea and reading children’s books usually help) and where I start working from when I feel overwhelmed by all I have (want) to do in a day.

There’s no doubt about it. It’s still the heart of my home!


When we decided to stay in The Netherlands for so long, I knew my house/porch plants would suffer. It was an offer I was willing to make, but with a bit of pain in my heart. I overwatered them as much as I dared (rotting roots are even worse than no water at all), moved most of them inside, in the shadow, and hoped for the best.

So when we came home, I was surprised and relieved to see how many actually survived. Just a few were beyond saving, but most of them were doing okay, or at least not too bad.
These three though… They looked like they weren’t going to make it, but I was not ready to give up on them yet. So I gave them some love, water and time.

And look at them now (three weeks after we arrived home): new leaves!

I know, so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But small victories need to be celebrated too, don’t you think?

Progress report :: a whole new kitchen

I thought I would do an “in my kitchen” post today, but I realized that I never even showed you my new kitchen. When I last posted about my kitchen, it looked like this:

I was actually quite happy with it. But last year, in June, T. decided it was time for something better. We went to Building Depot to look what they had and I fell in love with a conveniently cheap solution almost right away (after talking myself out of a beautiful kitchen that would empty out our bank accounts completely).

But first we had to demolish the old kitchen. That sounds easier than it was. It was build with concrete blocks, so we definitely needed that sledge hammer.

And then it was quite easy to install the new closets. It’s metal, so easy to clean and durable (particle board would swell up within a year or two in this climate, wood is only available custom made, so incredibly expensive). I love that it looks vintage and I am thrilled with the amount of storage. They even sold a pantry solution, so my open shelving (remember the old shelves on concrete blocks?) is gone now.

I’m so, so happy with it!

In the (messy) back ground of the last picture, you may notice that the iron gate is gone (as seen in the last picture in this post). The month before we did the kitchen, T. built a little hallway, connecting the kitchen to the main building. That was such a game changer! Before we had to open two gates (that we locked with padlocks) to get from the house to the kitchen (getting a cold drink or a snack at night was really hard and made a lot of noise). Now you can just walk through! We chose to use a big glass folding door, so the kitchen still feels as open as it did before.

And now that I’m looking at those pictures: we also finally found chairs that match our table. The plastic ones were breaking up (as everything not wood, concrete or iron seems to do in this climate), but these (solid mango wood – we found them at a secondhand shop) will be just fine.

So that’s another (triple) house update. Trying to get the blog up to speed with our house makes me realize we actually did make some big changes over the last year, even though it feels like we didn’t accomplish that much.

So fun to see!

A to-do list (sort of)

Let’s just about forget the groceries, the cleaning, the weeding and all those other chores for a while, okay?

Here’s what the fun to-do list in my head looks like:

:: find buttons for newest baby knit (and weave in ends).

:: organize craft stuff (so much more fun than organizing paper clutter, isn’t it?

:: make a dress. Or five. (aka: stop hoarding fabric for dresses and start making them)

:: cast on for baby blanket

Now, where to start?