jelly bean

I love this little jacket!  My Jelly Bean is based on the free Coffee Bean pattern, but modified (by accident--I wasn't paying attention) and made larger to fit a two year old.  This was made for no one in particular, but will go in my baby sweater stash which was down very low, as in down to none, so with this addition it's up to one.  I feel so much better when I have a few baby sweaters in the stash so I'll be knitting up a few more.  See the circs in in the last picture?  I've collected most sizes of these 16" circulars which I find perfect for knitting sleeves in the round.  Yarn links (Tosh DK and Rowan Superwash Merino), free pattern link (Coffee Bean), and all other details are on my Ravelry project page.

I helped my son man a garage sale last weekend, so I knit this sweater while sitting in the garage.  It turned out not to be a great weekend for us to hold a garage sale, but the date was chosen months ago and that steam-roller of  a pre-planned event seemed unstoppable.  I think I told you that this year I've been methodically going though each cupboard and closet.  Along the way I've been showing the largess to the kids and asking (pleading), "Do you want any of this?"  They took a few things here and there, but the rest was to go to charity until I had the brilliant idea of holding a garage sale, and if my son would man it, he could keep the money made. We both felt we were getting a good deal.  Now that it's over, and I'm SO glad it is over, I think I felt my house heave a sigh.  Houses like to feel clean and un-stuffed, I'm sure of it.

While going through the house I was determined to be unsentimental and practical.  One thing I sold was my hundreds of record albums from the late 60s and early 70s collected when I was a music loving teen.  I lived in Los Angeles and always had some kind of after school job for the sole reason that with the money I earned, I could buy records and have money to go to rock concerts.  The LA music scene was awesome in the 60s.  We had so many great small clubs and big concert halls.  I could zip though one of the canyon roads, usually Topanga or Coldwater, and be in Hollywood in no time.  I'll never forget seeing Led Zeppelin three weekends in a row at the Shrine when they were cutting their second album, even though their first album hadn't been released yet in the states.  They were unknown, and on Monday I'd come back to school and my friends would say, "Led who?"  They loved LA and were there often and when they were in town, I saw them.  I often went to the Whisky and saw The Doors and Buffalo Springfield many times before they became famous.  So this weekend I said goodbye to the Beatles and Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Velvet Underground, Cream, The Who and, and,--but stop me, I could go on forever.  I thought it would kill me, but guess what?  It did not kill me.  Letting go made me realize that it wasn't the things I cherished, it was the memories, and they are still with me. Just ask my husband! When we have the oldies station on in the car I amaze (annoy) him by knowing every single word to every single song and to prove it, I sing along!  Fifty years later and I still know every word to Subterranean Homesick Blues.  How can that be?  Oh how I wish I would have used those teen brain cells to learn a language or two!  (Just in case you are wondering, my son checked each album and a few were worth a little money and went to private collectors before the garage sale, but most had average value.  Even though some were rare and/or first pressing, we found out that condition is important, and my albums were MUCH loved -- if you know what I mean.)  But the thing that made me smile was that the collectors were mostly young people in their 20s and 30s.  They absolutely loved going through my collection, and there I was knitting my baby sweater.  The irony.

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Top Ten FREE baby sweater patterns

I adore knitting for baby and collect baby patterns like one might collect seashells.  While writing this top ten list, I went way over my budget and gathered twenty free patterns instead of ten.  Pattern links, yarn weights, and sizes available are in the captions below each picture. All yarn weights are featured in the patterns below: fingering, sport, DK, worsted, aran and bulky weights.  If you have some stash, you can quickly scan down to find the right pattern.  Use these patterns as a springboard for your imagination; make a dear baby sweater in a solid color or add stripes, intarsia, fair isle, or stitch texture; let whimsy be your guide!  Which one will you make first?

knit in worsted weight in three sizes:  3, 6, and 12 mos.

Fingering weight in three sizes:  newborn, 3 mos., and 6 mos.

Knit in worsted weight in one size:  6 mos.

Knit in aran weight in two sizes: 3 mos. and 12 mos.

knit in worsted weight in one size:  1 yr.
 (change to DK weight for 6 mos.)

Knit in bulky weight in two sizes:  4-8 mos. and 8-12 mos.
Stacked Stag-Horn Pullover by Stacey Cilia
Knit in DK weight in two sizes:  6 mos. and 12 mos

Jill by Martin Storey of Rowan
Knit in DK weight in four sizes:  3, 6, 12, and 18 mos.

Knit in DK weight in three sizes:  3, 6, and 12 mos.

Knit in worsted weight in one size:  6 mos.

Knit in fingering weight yarn in one size:  18-24 mos.

Knit in sport weight in one size:  6-12 mos.

Knit in bulky weight in four sizes from 3-6 mos. to 24 mos.

fingering weight yarn in one size:  18" chest
Knit n sport weight in six sizes:  3 mos. to 2 yrs.

knit in worsted weight yarn in 4 sizes, 6 mos. to 2 yrs.
Knit in worsted weight in four sizes:  6 mos., 1, 2, and 3 yrs.

DK weight in three sizes:  3, 6, and 12 mos.
Knit in DK weight in two sizes:  3 mos. and 6 mos.

Knit in DK weight in one size: 9-12 mos.

Knit in worsted weight in four sizes:  6 mos. and 1, 2, and 3 yrs.

 And now for some baby things that don't fall in the sweater category:

Best Baby Booties:  Saartje's Booties

Best Baby Poncho:  Hooded Baby Poncho from Lion Brand 

Totally Free/Totally Adorable has been a popular post this last year and has some good tips.

A word about yarn--please do mother a favor and knit your baby and children's garments in machine washable wool or cotton.  A mere whisper of hand wash only and your precious sweater will quickly land in the bottom of the dresser drawer.  Think soft--baby will let you know if he's uncomfortable.  I am a Rowan fan and can recommend these wool and cotton yarns:  Pure Wool Superwash DK and Worsted, Summerlite DK and 4-ply, Softyak, Baby Merino Silk and all the Super Fine Merinos.  Quince and Co. makes some great machine washables as does Cascade.  The Cashmerino line by Debbie Bliss is also machine washable.  Not all superwash yarns can go in the dryer so if it's a gift, give a little "care tag".  If you are knitting stripes from stash, like the first one below, make sure your yarns are all the same weight and require the same care.  When gifting, I almost always knit the 12 mos. size and here's why: at one year, babies are standing up and smiling, clapping and causing commotions, and generally craving attention wherever they go.  Everyone looks at them, and therefore, everyone will look at your sweater too!

xo, Kristen

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we've got a winner!

First, thank you to all who entered my last giveaway.
I have 5 winners for a week of Blue Apron meals.

Congratulations to nswern, Venice1093, sklinn, debatdartmouth and dawn.

I have contacted you and cannot wait until you try your first Blue Apron!

The pictures above are from a dinner party we hosted last Saturday night for the summer installment of our Gourmet Group.  I love it when my turn lands in summer and we can eat outside.  We are 6 couples that meet four times a year; the hostess chooses the theme, plans the menu, and sends out the recipes.  This group has been going on for close to 40 years and we have consumed some of the most delicious food and had a lot of fun while doing it.   

My husband and I visited Jamaica in February and brought back two bottles of rum and several jars of various blends of jerk spice with the intention of having a Jamaican party.  I'm happy that my theme was so easily chosen as that is the most difficult part to me.  All the recipes were found on the internet and every single solitary one was a winner.  If you are looking for a themed dinner party menu, look no further!  Recipes links:


Rum and Coke
Shrimp with Chutney 

My midsummer garden is mainly sunflowers, hydrangeas and sedum--see my table arrangements above.  The sedum will bloom in autumn but I love to pick them as green buds.   The daisies and roses are still faithfully blooming, bless them.  The last half of summer always hits me by surprise--somehow I think summer will last forever.  But no, the days are getting shorter, the garden is beginning to poop out and the hydrangeas are starting to fade.  In another month I'll start to notice real signs of autumn; I just can't believe it.

I never failed to walk by this huge sunflower without seeing at least two bees having a feast!

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my week with Blue Apron and a giveaway

For about a year now, my husband and I have subscribed to Blue Apron, a subscription meal delivery service that takes the stress out of that dreaded question:  "What's for dinner tonight?"  We subscribe about two weeks a month for three nights a week.  We are devoted to Blue Apron and here's why:  The food is fresh and seasonal, the recipes are restaurant quality, and there is no planning or shopping required--my least favorite part of meal prep.  If you enjoy cooking and eating, but hate the planning and shopping, you will appreciate Blue Apron.  The subscription is flexible and you can cancel or pause your service at any time.  I have a giveaway at the end of this post.  But first read on to see if Blue Apron is right for you.

Delivery day is terribly exciting around here!  As we empty the box we oh and aw over the pretty food.  To keep things simple on cooking day, everything goes into the bottom drawer of my refrigerator.  I pretty much know what nights we'll be home to eat during the week, and since we are almost always home on the evening of the Tuesday delivery day, around 5:00 my husband will pour us each a glass of wine and we'll sit on the patio and I'll read the recipes aloud and we'll plan our week of dinners.

Everything you need, every ingredient, including something as small as a pat of butter or a teaspoon of red pepper flakes comes in the refrigerated box in recyclable containers. The only thing you have to have on hand is salt, pepper and olive oil. Each dinner takes about 30 minutes to prep and cook.  There's always plenty and most often we'll have leftovers.  (I have to share that because people who know us know my husband has a very hearty appetite.)  The food is always fresh and seasonal but because of our big summer garden I tend to use Blue Apron less in the summer.  Take at a look at a week from last fall:

Chicken Meatballs and Creamy Polenta with Tomato Sugo and Lacinato Kale
Cod and Potato Brandade with Watermelon Radish Salad
Roast Pork with Sauteed Spinach and Olive Smashed Potatoes

Tuesday:  When the refrigerated box arrives (first picture), I unpack it and put in the refrigerator.  We decided to have the Chicken Meatballs and Creamy Polenta with Tomato Sugo and Lacinato Kale that night (second picture).  It was scrumptious and we both rated it a 5 out of 5.  I have a smaller appetite than my husband so he gets about 2/3 of the dinner; that just works for us.  The plated dinner is a picture of my smaller serving, but I couldn't finish it as it was very filling; but no problem, my husband happily ate my extra meatballs.  Leftovers? Yes, some polenta which I fried the next morning and served with eggs and salsa.  We loved it.  By the way, I'm gluten free and always keep gf breadcrumbs and bread in the freezer.  It's easy to switch out and I just tossed their breadcrumbs away or give it to my neighbor's chickens.

Three dinners for two are in the box. The little brown paper bags have the individual "knick-knacks" to use for each dinner.

The knick knacks for the chicken meatball dinner were butter, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and meatball spice blend.

Hmmm, I not so great at taking food pics, but you get the idea.  This is my small serving, my husband's was much bigger.

Leftover polenta served as a base for an egg and salsa for next morning's breakfast.

Wednesday:  My husband played poker that night and had dinner at his club.  I met my girlfriends downtown for dinner, so no Blue Apron for us this night. 

Thursday:  I go to choir practice on Thursday evenings so I like Thursday night's dinner to be as easy as possible.  We decide on the Cod and Potato Brandade with Watermelon Radish Salad and happily it turned out to be one of the faster recipes to make this particular week. Since I was in a hurry that night there's no prep pictures to share.  We gave this meal another 5--we both loved the crunchy topping on the casserole and the simple salad.  Again, that's my small portion below--my husband's portion was much larger.  I am gluten free so I switched the Panko breadcrumbs for my own gf breadcrumbs and asked my husband if he wanted the garlic toast.  He said no, so the loaf went to my neighbor's chickens.  Leftovers:  Nope.

The knick knacks for the fish dinner were butter, red wine vinegar, shallot and breadcrumbs.  Besides that, there's also a head of garlic and fresh thyme for the brandade and watermelon radishes for the salad.

My plate with a smaller serving.  We gave it a 5 out of 5.

Friday and Saturday:  We went out both nights so on Thursday night I popped the remaining pork roast into the freezer just to be on the safe side.  The vegetables will be fine in the fridge.

Sunday:  Roast Pork with Sauteed Spinach and Olive Smashed Potatoes was our third and last dinner of the week.  We both love spinach and it had such a bright taste with the addition of lemon zest.  The potatoes were fantastic with the surprising addition of lemon juice and olives.  This dinner showcases one of the reasons why I love Blue Apron:  The recipe requires only 2 tbsp. of sour cream and that's all you get.  No need to purchase a pint and throw away the spoiled, unused leftover two weeks later! My husband rated this a 5 as he loves anything with meat and potatoes.  I gave it a 4 because I would have loved to see a simple sauce for the pork.  Leftovers:  None--my husband would never leave meat and potatoes behind.

Knick knacks in tonight's pork roast were Castelvetrano olives and sour cream.

Lemon zest flavors the spinach.

Lemon juice, sour cream and chopped Castelvetrano olives and garlic chives will go into the smashed potatoes.  They were fantastic.

The recipes are easy step-by-steps tutorial with pictures.

A shot of my smaller portion.
Hungry yet?  That was our delicious week of Blue Apron.  Of course, you can order more if you have a bigger family and you can opt out of fish or beef or anything else you don't care for.  We opted out of vegetarian meals as my husband is just that kind of guy who opts out of anything that doesn't include some kind of meat.  I think this service is for anyone who likes to cook but doesn't care for the planning or the shopping (that's me) or for busy people who enjoy cooking together but need some incentive!  The latter is not us as my husband leaves the cooking to me, but he is a great guy to cook for because he really appreciates a home-cooked meal and lets me know, plus he has been known to wash a dish or two. 

I have tried other subscription meal services and prefer Blue Apron for their food and restaurant quality recipes, and by they way, Blue Apron doesn't know me from Adam.  Over the past year they have given me close to a dozen free weeks to give away to introduce my friends to BA.  I have saved 3 weeks for 3 lucky winners!   

(edited 8/1, this giveaway is closed and winners have been chosen) Giveaway:  I have 3 free weeks of dinners to give away.  Each winner will receive one delivery of  3 meals for two people (6 free meals total).  If you would like to enter, please leave me a comment and include YOUR CONTACT information which is either your email address or your Ravelry ID.  This giveaway is for US residents only.  Click here to make a comment.  Good luck!  I'll come back early next week and announce the 3 winners.

 The links:

You can find the individual recipes here:

My bowls and plates are from Arte Italica.

Rowan Pure Wool Superwash DK can be purchased at your local Rowan stockist or online at
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