I have been told before by people that they don’t have time to garden. Let me tell you, when it comes to the actual gardening part of my garden, I am quite lazy about the whole thing. I am blessed with good soil and vegetables that like to be called minions. (Yes. I call my vegetables minions. Look at my results. They obviously like being my minions. And someday, me and my giant tomatoes will take over the world…) Now, as I said, I don’t spend all that much time on the actual gardening. What I did spend time on? Getting my yard to the point where I could garden.  And that took a hell of a lot of time. And hard work. And manual labor. And a new title of Rock Slinger. Today, when I went out to my garden to see what was ripe, this is what I found.

Obviously, lazy gardener here. Those zucchinis should have been harvested at least a day ago. The tomatoes though? Deliciously sweet and juicy and I am unsure I will be sharing them with my family. What is not pictured here are the pickling cucumbers I found later that will have to be pickled soon. Now that? I don’ t have time for right now. I was ill prepared to start pickling in July and so will have to wait on those. At least the chili peppers I picked today have a home tonight in chocolate sauce for sundaes and the rest can go in the pickles. Spicy garlic dills are my favorite pickle ever.

When last I blogged, I promised an update on the yard work. So here is the yard in its current state.

As you can see, I have a prehistoric zucchini plant growing in the back along with tomato trees, a pineapple sage bush and tons of hot peppers.

I have a patio that I built.

There is no longer a sand pit or a foot deep pile of rock around the perimeter.(Lazy gardener tip: Just leave the hose out. It makes it so much easier to water the garden the next time.)

All of the overgrown weeds have been pulled and herbs and flowers planted instead. These pictures were taken about a week ago. There are already a ton more flowers in bloom and my cucumber vines now cover the trellis attached to the fence.  When I go out on my balcony and look around the yard, I enjoy the view immensely.  Although there is still a lot of work to go, I have done a tremendous job in a short period of time. My husband likes to tell me I am two years ahead of schedule on the yard. But all the work was well worth it. I get to go sit out in my yard and relax and enjoy the day when I have a  moment (work on my knitting, read a book, or write in the mornings before my kids get up)  instead of fretting over what I need to do next. And my lazy approach to gardening seems to work. I turn on the sprinkler during watering hours and let it go (sometimes for longer than I should. Sometimes busy life means forgetting to turn off the water). I weed sporadically, pulling weeds as I harvest. As long as I get the weeds before the seed pods pop up, I am happy. I snip off dead roses and stop my herbs from flowering during phone conversations. I keep meaning to set up a compost bin, but in the meantime, I let the veggies that fall or get attacked by bugs stay on the ground, breaking them up a bit as I go, and I toss all the crabapples over in the garden too. As of right now, there isn’t a smell problem and I do try to break it all up and mix it in under the mulch. It takes me about 10 minutes every week to do that, plus the randoming weeding watering and harvesting. All in all, I maybe spend an hour every week working on the garden. I spend more time walking around it and staring at it in a week than I spend working on it. See? Lazy gardener. And yet, I have a gorgeous garden and a yard I can enjoy. And all in all, I found out that I kind of rock. And not just in the slinger kind of way, but in the awesome I-can-do-way-more-than-I-thought-I-could kind of way.

~The Elder


Happy 4th of July!  (a day late…)

Oops, oh well.  Summer in Chicago has been hot and humid so far, and I’ve been hard pressed to do anything but lie spread-eagled on my bed with baby Logan, A/C going full blast and a fan whirling above us.

Today, our A/C broke.  Stupid window unit.  The other A/Cs in the house are working fine, but ours is now spewing out slightly cooler-than-the-air-but-still-warm breaths.  It’s a good thing Logan’s carpet is comfy.  I may take my afternoon nap on his floor.

Chris had time for breakfast this morning (my Chris, not Jessica’s Chris.  Oh, did you know my sister and I chose men with the same name?  Sometimes we think too much alike.) and I’ve been busy busy busy with all those grown-up things like cleaning the house, working, looking for a new house, and planning a wedding…  So I opted for one of my favorite breakfast choices from my childhood.

You’ve heard of Toad-in-a-Hole, haven’t you?  Or perhaps “Egg-in-a-basket” or some other such term coined for the delicious combination of egg and toast, cooked together with butter in a fry-pan.  You know, the one were you take a cup and cut out the middle of a piece of toast and drop the egg in the hole?  Well, I made a delicious, slightly more grown up version of the classic Toad-in-a-Hole…

Grown-Up Toad in a Hole

Egg and toast, with fried tomato slices, sage, and a side of bacon. All topped off with a cold iced coffee– YUM!

It’s really simple to make.  First get your bacon started- it’ll take longer.  Then, you cut a hole in the middle of the bread by turning over a glass and pressing down.  Drop a pat of butter in a heated skillet, plop your toast into the pan, then drop an egg into the hole in the toast. (Don’t forget to toast up your cut-out, too!  It’s one of the best things about toad-in-a-hole) Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Cook a bit, then flip.  You know how you like your eggs, so the cook time will differ.  I like mine with a slightly runny yolk.  While you’re doing that, fry up two thick slices of tomato.  Drop a few leaves of sage into the pan.  Flip the tomatoes. Then after the sage turns a dark green, set the leaves on top of the tomatoes while they cook.

Serve the tomatoes on top of the toad-in-a-hole, or on the side with the bacon. It’ll all take about 10 minutes, with a 5 minute prep time.  Quick, easy, and delicious!

Logan is finally down for his nap, so time to refill the coffee cup and relax for a few minutes.

~Becki, The Younger

This post was originally published on my other blog, Hobgoblins, Mukluks & Other Such Nonesuch, my writing blog, but then I realized it should be here on my Tales of Hearth and Home instead. As this post was originally published almost a month ago, there have been many changes to the yard in that time so be prepared for an updated post on this some time soon! But now you know why patterns are on sale as I have recently discovered that changing a yard this size costs a lot of money.  I have also been knitting and a new pattern is in the test stages. Pictures and post to come on that project shortly…

Lately, the busyness of owning a house has taken over; particularly the yard. I haven’t really blogged about the foray into home ownership at all here, but back on the eve of the new year, we found a house that we just immediately fell in love with. By that time in the process, we had become very jaded. We had spent 6 months in a short sale that ultimately fell apart and when we walked into this house, it was like a breath of fresh air (only, it wasn’t very fresh air as the woman who lived in this house had 8 ferrets, a couple guinea pigs, a couple cats, a dog, some fish and turtles living in the bathtub). But the house was in decent condition for all this and even though it is tremendously outdated, it also has lots and lots of quirky charm that we love.

So anyway, we officially acquired ownership of our humble abode at the beginning of March (actually, the end of February, but she had 2 weeks to get all of her stuff together and a new place to live so I say March) and after an insane week and a half of ripping off paneling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors and tearing off faux brick, we moved in.

But we still had this to deal with.

The yard. So much stuff and pretty much all of it trash. It was really ridiculous. And this picture does not do it justice. Someday, I will print up the yard pictures into a big I-Spy poster for the kids. That is how bad it was. We rented a dumpster and had at it, emptying the yard of all of its trashy glory, getting rid of the pool and the deck and generally beginning the process of making it ours.

Now that the weather has turned to Spring though, it was time to really get into the yard. I tore down the pond. I rebuilt it as an herb planter. I found out that the little hill next to the pond-turned-planter was not a hill at all, but a lot of buried rock. So I dug it out. The back garden was all raspberries. I have nothing against raspberries. I think they are rather tasty, but I desired a tasty vegetable garden instead. As it turned out that was probably a good idea as her idea of composting was to take the mess from the ferret cages and just dump it on top of years of leaves that had never been raked up. There was also a lot of buried trash in that back garden as well. I still have a lot of work to do back there as I preemptively bought tomato plants that then needed to get in the ground. So half of it is cleared out and planted, the other half still needs some lovin’.

As of now, my yard looks like this.

See that pile of stone over there? That is the area where there was ratty old outdoor carpeting that we pulled up which left us with a nice patch of dirt that will someday become a patio with all of the stone that we have lying around the yard. It used to look like this:

And in the middle where the pool used to be? That needs dirt ordered so that we can actually plant grass there instead of having a sand pit.

I love this house, I really do. I love my yard. I love that it is big and that eventually we can move the fence line up on the side of the house to make the yard and patio area even bigger. But right now, it seems as if I have no time to write or look for jobs so that I can actually make some money for our lovely money pit. And that is my current dilemma. Discovering the balance of time in order to get everything done and still be able to do all of the things that I have to do and love to do. We have been in this house just shy of 2 months. That is not a lot of time. And what we have accomplished has been awesome. But some days I need to just sit in front of my computer and work. And write. And remember that my work is very important to our future.

And that way, I can ignore the basement.

From now until the end of May, the following patterns are on sale for only $2.00 each:

Aeseling Sweater


Aeseling Sweater

Cerridwen Hoodie

Cerridwen Hoodie

Cloche Hat and Handwarmers Our most popular pattern perfect for Spring!

Cloche Hat and Handwarmers

Earthen Hemp Skirt

Forest Meadow Sweater

Forest Meadow Sweater

The Girl Who Waited Sweater The Newest Pattern here at Brigid’s Hearth!

Take advantage of the sale and buy the patterns you were holding off on getting! We would also love to see finished pictures of any knits you make from one of our patterns so feel free to leave a link in the comments if you post pictures on your blog or on Ravelry.

Happy knitting!


Lanyards for Logan



I made this.  *squee!* I’ve decided that I craft far too much to keep all this stuff, so why not share it?  Give my gift to the world!  Well, sell it.  I can’t afford to make stuff and give it away for free. Anymore. Erm, to people I don’t know and love.  That’s not to say that I don’t love my buyers, but not in the way that I — Oh dear, Saturday morning babbling strikes again. 

This weekend has barely even started and I’m already knee-deep in the Things-I’m-Supposed-To-Finish-But-Don’t-Have-A-Chance-In-Hell list.

On top is the Tangy Sweet Meatballs I’m making for the two parties we have tonight.  Jessica’s Hearth Warming Party, and Don & Katie’s “Swibesfest ’12” (birthday party for the siblings.)  It’s delicious appetizer, and has always been a hit whenever I make it, but I’m barely going to have enough time to turn the crock pot on today. 

If I get to it, the sauce recipe is:

1-12 oz. jar of seedless blackberry preserves
1 c. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger root.
A palmful (1 tbsp.) crushed red pepper
A few dashes (1 1/2 tsp.) chili powder
A pinch (1/8 tsp.) salt

Heat all ingredients over low flame, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth and liquidy. (Yes, liquidy is the technical term.)  About 2 hours before your event, pour over prepared meatballs in a crockpot and heat on low, stirring occasionally to coat.  Serve with colorful sword toothpicks so your guests can have miniature sword fights while savoring these tasty little appetizers.

I usually make my own meatballs- they taste sooo good- but in the interest of time, I went with the frozen fully cooked kind.  Not as good, but still delicious!

Next project will be the Better Homes and Gardens Pink Lemonade cake- the cheap, quick & easy way.  Forget the half-mile long ingredients list.  I went to the grocery store fully prepared to spend the better part of an hour pulling fresh, unusual ingredients off shelves and tossing them into my cart.  When I left (20 minutes later) I had a box of Betty Crocker lemon cake mix, and a container of Pink Lemonade frosting.  This is what happens when you bring a 4 mo. old boy shopping.  He’ll be sitting in his car seat, happy as a clam, smiling at you and everyone you pass, when he gets that look.  Those of you with kids know that look- a look of steady concentration, a slight frown perhaps, a far-off look in their eye closely followed by the scrunch-necked grunt of effort and that inevitable whiff of– you guessed it– POOP.  Logan hates sitting in a soiled diaper, so I knew that I had a small window of about 25 minutes before he was going to become a siren wailing in Aisle 4. 

The cake needs a final layer of frosting.  Someday I’ll actually gather the ingredients to make that cake from scratch.

Lastly, Logan’s baptism is tomorrow and my sister Rachael (the youngest) asked me what I was going to wear.  At that moment, I realized that since Logan’s birth, I have not lost as much weight as I would have liked, and am nowhere near fitting into any of the clothes that I wore before the pregnancy.  So. Do I wear the torn jeans that I have mended again and again? Or the sweatpants that are best for cleaning house and lounging?  Or perhaps my pink and white zebra striped pajama pants that make my butt look fabulous, but show whatever undergarments I choose to wear?  Um, no.  So between noon and 4:00pm today, after I get off work and run home and nurse Logan and toss the meatballs in the crockpot and frost a cake, I’ll be meeting with my sister to go shopping.  For clothes. Which sucks when you see a walrus every time you look in the mirror, no matter how often you tell yourself “You are gorgeous, honey, don’t let that mirror fool you!”

Here I go, to tackle my You’re-Never-Gunna-Do-It-All Day.

Sharing this blog with my darling sister Jessica means that she gets some spoilers before everyone else.  For instance, this darling little D.I.Y. wedding must have…

My bridesmaids have wonderfully to agreed to help Chris and I execute our DIY Wedding, but it’s been a bit of a hassle to keep track of people’s plans, and remember our DIY dates.  So, as a little gift, I hit the dollar store with Mom and we found these nifty little 2012 Student Planners.  Really nothing to look at, aesthetically, but functionally were perfect for what I had in mind.

Using scrapbook paper in various patterns, I “reupholstered” the covers, and now have a personalized DIY Wedding Date Book for my girls to keep track of planning days and crafting sessions.

What you’ll need:

What you'll need...

  • day planner
  • glue stick
  • scissors
  • scrapbook paper (thin, card stock is too thick)
  • mini hole punch
  • leaf scrapbook punch (or any shaped punch)
  • (2) 12″ lengths of yarn/twine/ribbon
  • Felt-tipped pen

STEP 1-4: Prep the Paper

Line up your planner with the scrapbook paper. (You can use a ruler to measure instead, but I couldn't find mine.)

Mark where you'll be cutting.

Cut. I was lucky and had a lined pattern to follow, but you may want to pencil a straight line using your ruler on the backside.

Glue the backside of the scrapbook paper.

STEPS 5-11 : Adorn your Planner

Press the planner onto the glued scrapbook paper, folding over the edges.

(Back view)










Using the small hole puncher, punch one hole in both the front and back cover, just about at the middle of the page.

Punch out your fun shape- our wedding is a forest theme, so I used an oak leaf punch.

Save the leaf scrap for a later project!










Using your felt-tipped pen, write the date of your wedding on the leaf.

Using your small hole punch, punch a hole at the base of the leaf.

Cut your yarn to at least 12". (You'll be tying it later, so don't make it too short!)

Fold your yarn piece in half and thread through the hole on the leaf and through the hole on the front cover of the planner. (Make sure your date is on top!)

Pull the tail end of the yarn through to secure the leaf to the cover.











Repeat those two steps with the back cover (minus the leaf).

The Finished Product

Tie the yarn into a bow. Personalize the front cover with your bridesmaids' names, or write a note. Voila! A simple D.I.Y. gift from you to your girls!

Welcome, baby Logan!

Wow.  I’m almost stunned to silence at how quickly the months have passed.  It seems just a moment ago  I still feel like it was just yesterday that I was waddling myself into the hospital.  Minus, of course, about 30 pounds and the need to dress only in stretch-waist pants and a bathrobe.  Now, Chris and I are well into our wedding plans, are house hunting, and least of all our son, Logan Christopher, is already a month and half old!

I’ll tell you, craft projects are highly difficult to do one handed.  However, I’ve still managed to knock out a few pairs of booties, a cardigan, and a couple of hats for my little Smoosh Monster.  Motherhood is… well, it’s an adventure, and I’m just starting out.  Glossing over the umpteen diaper changes, breastfeeding without privacy, sleep-all-day/up-all-night schedule, and occassional inconsolable crying… there is an overwhelming surge of emotion that bubbles to the surface when I get lost in those dark blue eyes of his, something I’ve never felt before- Mommyhood!

And here he is! Logan Christopher, our little Smoosh Monster!  (Thus named for the unmistakable “smooshy face” he makes while sleeping.  It is a fleeting look, however, and has yet to be photographed.)

I couldn’t resist adding the pompom!

Yes, the hat is hand-knit.  As are these…

My sweet babu

Hand-knit hat and booties

I love the owl cables!

I just bought the zipper for his cardigan, and Auntie Jessica knit him an adorable little sweater with the Mario mushroom on the back, and little green turtle buttons- so cute!

I love knitting for my baby, and I can’t wait to show off more of his hand-knit wardrobe!