new years eve morning

The last day of 2015.  Part of me can hardly believe it.  The other part is extremely excited for the new year.  A clean slate.  Is there anything better?
I've been over here this morning working on a last minute year end project.  The bella cowl.  It's been frogged because for some reason when I grabbed my yarn and my coffee I decided to grab two balls of yarn.  And hold them both together.  Say what?  By noon I had a thick cushy piece of material.  I just couldn't understand why... Until I dug out the pattern.  My pattern.  OY.
Oh well.  In with the new.
Enjoy the last day of 2015, friends!

festive sugar cookies

Happy Christmas Eve!
So, I'm pretty much completely finished with my Christmas prep.  
At the last minute we decided to not bake cookies.  Gasp!  I know!  I was a little bummed.  But then, after I accepted the decision... I felt great!
We have tons of chocolate.  And a friend gave us a cheesecake.  So it's not that a little sugar won't be consumed.  
Last week we made our favorite sugar cookie.  We rolled the log in red and green crystals to make them festive.
Sugar Cookies:

1 cup of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugars, add egg and vanilla.  Mix well.  Add dry ingredients until combined.  Place dough on wax paper and form into log.  Refrigerate for one hour.  Sprinkle colored sprinkles along edge and roll until covered.  Cut into 1/4 inch rounds.  Bake 10-12 minutes at 350°.

becoming 27

 Birthday cakes are my absolute favorite to make.   I usually ask the children what flavor cake they would like and what color frosting.  The cake differs, but the icing is always the same.
 Then I make a stencil by hand and place it on top of the cake.   Pressing down slightly to keep clean lines.
 Pour the sprinkles slowly and slightly press down.  I absolutely love these gold crystals I found in our local grocery store.
Carefully remove the stencil.  Personalize it with some icing that was saved before it was tinted.  Pop in a few candles and S I N G!

Tessa is Steve's oldest daughter.  I giggled when Libby said that Tessa's was so much prettier than hers.  I said I couldn't even remember what color hers was.  She reminded me... brown.  Ha!  She requested Chocolate frosting.  ;)

Our favorite Butter Cream Frosting:

1 cup salted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbls milk

Cream the butter until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar and continue creaming until well blended.  Add the vanilla and milk and blend on low speed for 2 minutes.  (Add additional milk if needed by the teaspoons.)  Beat at high speed until the frosting is fluffy.

*It's the only time I ever buy salted butter and I always double this recipe.  I usually have some left over, but I found there is nothing worse than trying to ice a cake with a minimal amount of frosting.  For a chocolate frosting add 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 2 tsp of milk.

chalk cloths


Okay, I have something fun for your Chalk Lots!  Chalk Cloths!  They add the handmade touch to the gift that makes life even sweeter!  And you can whip one up for your Chalk Lot recipient in no time!
And, I have a great idea!  One set of Chalk Lots can be divided up into four gifts.  (4/set) They really make a great hostess gift.  Or gift for a friend.  Or a neighbor.  Or teacher.  Or boss.  Throw in a chalk cloth and an easel and they have a menu/reminder/inspiration board!

 White for Graham Cracker.
Black for Licorice.  
The Chalk Cloth pattern is just a standard wash cloth pattern.  I like to use Sugar'n Cream yarn.  Super durable. 
Last day to order Chalk Lots for Christmas delivery is probably Thursday.  If there is a question, please feel free to shoot me an email.

a quick handmade gift

Okay, this is one of my favorite things I have ever received.
My sister made these last year.  One of our little get togethers where she makes us cry, cause her "party favor" is the most thoughtful, loving, beautiful.  Always.
A set of personalized coasters.  With some of my favorite moments.  
And these days, it's so much easier to grab your friends photos with Facebook and Instagram.  Just take screen shots, resize to the coaster size (4x4) and print!  It couldn't be easier!
I found a tutorial here.
Honestly, grab your materials this week and have a crafty couple of hours over the weekend. Still in plenty of time for Christmas.  I think moms could give them to dads, parents, lovers, friends, kids.   And vice versa on all!
I think its just the perfect little gift.

a few of my favorite things

I thought I would share a few things I have been loving in 2015.  Maybe you are still in need of a gift and maybe one of these will spark your interest!  
First off, I love anything wood in the kitchen. My wooden plates are used on an almost daily basis. Those, pictured above, are from Pampered Chef.  I'm in love.  The tray is used for crackers or cookies or to hold the little bowls for nuts or condiments or candy.  You name it.  A new favorite in my kitchen.  
I discovered this Pure Argan Oil sometime last spring.  And since then, I use it ALL of the time.  In my hair overnight for a deep conditioning.  On my excema.  As an all over moisturizer.  On my cuticles.  As a hand moisturizer at night.  On my feet.  Hair.  Skin. Hair.... you get the picture.  You can read all of the benefits and uses of Argan Oil here.  I think it is priced right for a gift that just keeps on giving.  
I love hot yoga and this little product is just about the coolest.  Hot yoga makes you sweat.  I'm talking, clothes that are completely drenched.  This yogi cozy hugs your car seat so you don't get sweat all over your seat.  The fabric is a turkish cotton... so nice to sit on.  Take it off and throw it in the machine with your yoga clothes and your car seat is completely fresh for your next outing.  I just love this thing.

I'll be back with a couple of quick handmade favorites.

last week

So, Libby and I staged a little photo shoot for the Chalk Lots website. (A work in progress.) And it involved a V E R Y yummy cookie.  Which was just perfect for the cookie of the week because we were out of butter.  (Say it isn't so!  I am rarely EVER out of butter.  In fact, I always have an excess. I'll never forget the time I heard a friend of Libby's say to another friend, "OMG, Mrs. Friend has NINE sticks of butter!")
 But, this particular day, it was true, I was out of butter.  And it was like the cookie Gods intersected and showed me Katie's post highlighting her favorite cookie. With every one of her family members loving these cookies.  And better yet, it involved vegetable oil instead of butter.  I usually steer away from recipes like this.  Or I use almond oil.  Or sunflower oil.  But this time I went for it and used the vegetable oil.
And guess what?  They are exactly what Katie said.  A pillowy brownie that is rolled in powdered sugar.  A chocolate lovers dream.

the winners

I'm over here trying to untangle and test the lights.  White this year.  And I'm so excited about it.  I have been alternating between color and white for years.  The white lights are my absolute favorite.

I had the random number generator choose numbers for the winners of Faerie Magazine.   Caroline was chosen for the one year subscription and Melissa and M Laley and for the current issue. Congrats!  Please email me at lesliemfriend at gmail dot com and I will be sure they land in your hands.  So much goodness in that magazine!

my to do list

Happy December!
I'm so excited this year. I'm even considering sending out cards! That's a pretty big deal considering I haven't done them for the last 5 years! And, we actually brought a tree home today. Already! I think this is the earliest we have EVER had a tree.
I sat down yesterday and came up with a short list of things I wanted to make.  Not a huge list, but big enough.
Would love to hear about your knit lists.  Do you have a favorite you love to knit.  Do you make many gifts?  What's on your list?  Do tell!  I'm sure we would all love to hear!


Hey Friends!  Hope you had the absolute happiest of days yesterday!  
As you may know, Chalk Lots is my little baby.  And I can't say enough about this little product.  We use them all of the time.  And over and over.  They come in Licorice (our beloved, classic black, or Graham Cracker, shown above) with 4 in a set, including a box of 12 ct. chalk.  They are thick and durable, have bull nosed edges, and engage family members while at the table.  We leave love notes, reminders, inspiration, play games, doodle, draw, create... use your imagination!
They make a great gift for the peeps on your holiday list or yourself!

As part of the happy weekend (black friday, small business saturday, cyber monday) we are offering 25% off your order. Enter code Happy at check out.

Thank you and have a Happy day!


faerie magazine giveaway

 Hey Friends!  Are you familiar with Faerie Magazine?  Well, it is A W E S O M E !
It's filled with a huge variety of lovely topics.  From travel, to poetry, to beauty tips, home decor, artist profiles, jewelry and on and on.
 And guess what?  They have recently added a knitting feature!  Cousins, Alice and Lisa Hoffman have joined amazing forces with Alice writing a fairy tale on Lisa's featured pattern.  The blue heron article in the fall issue is beautiful.   A fairy tale written around a knitting pattern in every issue?!  Magical!
 I absolutely loved the recipes featured in this issue.  As well as the article on bees, the poems, the makeup tips, the article on the golden gem, amber, the article on red mushrooms, the poison garden in  England, the enchanted kitchen and well, the entire thick paged mesmerizing magazine.  It really feels so good in my hands I don't want to put it down!
I have actually made both of these recipes and they were delicious.

The lovely peeps over at Faerie would love to giveaway a one year subscription of their lovely lifestyle magazine to one of my readers and a copy of this issue to two of my readers.  If interested, please leave a comment before Tuesday, December 1, 5pm EST and I will have the random number generator choose 3 names.

Also... I'm going to do my first Black Friday Sale on Chalk Lots.  I'll have the code here, on Facebook and over on Instagram.  Be sure to check back!

burton bear cowl

 This is one of those quick, inexpensive, cute and useful knits!
 It comes in every size.  From baby up to adult.  (If you need a baby, toddler gift... oh my!  The pattern has little ears.  So stinking cute!)
 I can see wearing this so much in that really cold weather this winter.  Just having something to pull up on your head quickly...pure coziness.
I just love how Trouble turns her head to fit through the fence.
 Anything for kisses.

Pattern:  Burton Bear Cowl
Yarn:  Wool-Ease Thick & Quick
Needle size:  US15
Size:  Adult

bella cowl on youtube

Remember the Bella Cowl?  Well, I receive quite a few emails about this pattern.  It is a 4 stitch, 4 row repeat that seems to play tricks on our minds.  
SO, my sister Shelly and I put together a little tutorial while we were away last month.   We had so much fun giggling and trying to keep my mom and other sister, Lisa, quiet.  I really hope I never forget my sister saying, "Quiet on the set!  A Friend to knit with, bella cowl, Take 52." I still giggle thinking about it as I do watching this video.  
It took us about 300 attemepts and then it took days of waiting for Andrew to help me put it all together.

The pattern is under the header in the "simple knitting patterns" tab.  And this will be over on youtube if you ever need a little help.  (Or a good laugh.)

thankful giveaway

Hey friends!  Just wanted to let you know that 5 boxes of Chalk Lots (4/box) are being given away over on Chalk Lots Instagram.  Graham Cracker OR Licorice!
 I really am so thankful to all of you.  And these really make life even sweeter.  AND, are tons of fun during this holiday season.
So, if interested head on over to enter!

{Last date to order to have for your Thanksgiving table is Wednesday, November 18th.}

sweet sixteen

 Sixteen years.
Some of it is such a blur.
 This boy of mine has added so much joy and so much depth to our lives.
 Chalk Lots to greet him.  Sixteen balloons.  Five friends for Pad Thai from his favorite Thai restaurant.
 And a chocolate cake with green frosting.  Just like last year.

A trip to the DMV tried to happen.  But we weren't prepared with our forms.
But soon, there will be a new driver on the roads. (Isn't he just a baby!)

Happy weekend, friends!

up next :: madge

I've had this yarn in my stash for quite some time.  I actually can't even remember how long it's been stashed.   But, I do remember,  my mom rolled all of the skeins into balls for me while visiting.  It sat there because I changed my mind about the project it was intended for.
A couple of weeks ago, I spotted Madge.  And, I quickly dug into the stash.  I sure hope it is going to work.  So far it seems a little heavy.  And maybe a little stiff.  However, I'm going to forge on and see what happens.


I have been documenting my children's birthdays here since I started my blog.  Nine years ago.  I love/hate looking back at the birthday posts.  I get all sentimental looking at them.  But, I love the record I have of that day. 
I'm not sure where the monkey is that I made her for her ninth birthday.  
 I've been hanging this same banner since her 10th Birthday.
I have been putting their ages on their cakes since I can remember.  Her favorite cake I made was for her eleventh birthday.
Six years goes by quickly.  This was her twelfth birthday, six years ago.
This year, Libby requested Flank Steak and Macaroni and Cheese for dinner.  So unlike her choice for her thirteenth birthday.   (And many of her birthdays.)
 We have been using Chalk Lots since her fourteenth birthday.  But that was the year I didn't record her birthday here.  I wish I would have.  But, I'm assuming Life was just a little overwhelming that year.  And that we were doing some healing.  We did celebrate the same way.  I guess I just wasn't as inspired to document it here.
 For her her fifteen birthday I was into my Instagram photos and affects.  Cause I didn't even use my camera.  Just my phone.
For her sixteenth birthday it was cold and rainy.  And on her seventeenth birthday my heart melted.  
For as long as I can remember,  I make them jump with their balloons.  I try to get a photo of them in the air like they are suspended by balloons. I received a smirk because she was wearing a dress.  :)

Next year she will be in college for her birthday.  Please bring me a tissue.

yoga shawl

I know, I pretty much feel this way about a lot of my knits.  But, this?  This is my new favorite.  
I just love the different ways it can be worn.  Truly the most versatile piece I have ever made.  (And, I didn't even photograph it while wearing it like a cowl and a couple of other ways!)
Each end has a chevron pattern that requires full attention.  With miles of stockinette in between.  That to me is a perfect combination.  
I ended up having to order another skein of yarn after I finished what the pattern calls for.  Not sure why.  I didn't get the same dye lot.  Thankfully you can't tell.  

Pattern:  Yoga Shawl
Yarn:  Brooklyn Tweed, Loft 7 skeins, Soot  (the pattern calls for 6)
Needle size:  US 5