Polka Dot Cottage | Making stuff and telling you all about it since 2005 - Part 2

Weekend Favorites

Posted February 13th, 2015 by

Oh, wow, it’s been almost a week since I’ve dropped in here, hasn’t it? It doesn’t make me happy to neglect this space like that, but sometimes I just get sucked into all manner of other things!

Not all of these things are blog-worthy, but hopefully there will be some time this weekend to post a little bit about anything that is!

For now, though, there are pretty images and a couple of links to share :-)


The mosaic below represents other people’s pictures that spoke to me this week on Flickr and Instagram. Click on the titles below the mosaic to get a better look at the images and see more from the photographers who made them.

(Follow me?Flickr | Instagram)

Weekend Favorites at Polka Dot Cottage

  1. today we learned about making dye wit… by lottajansdotter via Instagram
  2. I’m crowd sourcing this. Syracuse Chi… by sunshineandgrey via Instagram
  3. So much to do but I’m going to knit a… by lindamade via Instagram
  4. This place by alice_gao via Instagram
  5. Final one for today! Can’t do without… by fatquartershop via Instagram
  6. The current state of my workspace: cr… by thezenofmaking via Instagram
  7. Milking Day quilt, does a body good #… by fatquartershop via Instagram
  8. Knitting at the laundromat as one doe… by thishandmadelife via Instagram
  9. i arrived back in san francisco to fi… by sfgirlbybay via Instagram
  10. 3 by shiningegg via Instagram
  11. felt doll pincushion by Hillary Lang via Flickr
  12. I’ve been busy putting together some … by skeinyarn via Instagram
  13. Halfway there by sunshineandgrey via Instagram
  14. Putting away Annabel’s laundry…and … by soulemama via Instagram
  15. pillow refresh by house on hill road via Flickr
  16. Sailor Top made in my new hand dyed a… by stitchindye via Flickr


Here are a few interesting things from around the web that grabbed me this week:

  • Top 10 Awesome Features of Google Now – a list from Lifehacker. I don’t usually share anything ultra nerdy here, but I am finding myself falling in love with Google Now on my phone. One of my favorite features is the reminders, that can be based on time (like, Tomorrow Morning) or location (like, when I’m near Walgreens). It becomes even cooler when you use it with voice commands (like, Ok Google, remind me to buy aspirin at Walgreens). Fun.
  • Valentine Sweet Heart – a crochet tutorial from Attic24. Ok, so it’s a little last-minute. But if you need something to keep your hands busy over the next day or so, maybe this will do?
  • 50 crafty things to do before you’re 50 – a list from Mollie Makes. I’ve still got several years ahead of me before I hit 50, but even so, I am surprised by how many of these things I have not yet done! For someone who is supposedly pretty crafty, I think I may be falling down on the job ;-) How about you?
  • What’s That Little Line Thingy? – photography info from CaptureYour365. I will admit it: I have only recently started paying attention to that little line thingy, as they call it. Understanding it, however, is key to getting a proper exposure, particularly when you are using one of the camera’s more manual modes.

Have a great Friday! And stay warm if you’re anywhere like where I am. As I write, the temperature is hovering around 6 degrees. Brrrr!

TWiP: Little round things

Posted February 7th, 2015 by

This Week in Pictures

Bowls and mandalas seem to dominate the latter part of the week. Little round things. They make me happy.

This week started out with fruit crisps, visiting family and a snow day.

I’d say more, but it’s Friday night, my decaf coffee is getting cold, and I am really, really chomping at the bit to slip into my pajamas and settle in with a good mystery and some knitting. I haven’t worked on my sweater since Sunday afternoon – it’ll never be finished at this rate!

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some everyday-life snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


Instagram: Flipping through the latest Artful Blogging and I suddenly want to throw on an apron and bake a fruit crisp, thanks to @theclevercarrot. I also want it to be summer, but there’s not much I can do about that.

365: 2015 31/365 – Frozen blueberries and blackberries from last summer.


Instagram: Coffee with my sister☺ @donnazone

365: 2015 32/365 – Still knitting this sweater. Today, there’s a family Super Smash Bros tournament happening in the background.


365: 2015 33/365 – Snow Day! Or, more accurately, Icy Winter Mix Day!

Instagram: The color of my lips during the 1990s #decluttering


Instagram: The sweater I am knitting can wait. I suddenly need a crochet mandala for my night stand


365: 2015 34/365 – I decluttered my night stand, and then I thought it could use a crochet mandala. This is my first attempt. It’s a little bit smaller than I’d like (and the ends aren’t woven in yet).

Instagram: I finished last night’s mandala, but it was smaller than I’d like. So I made this one, which is a better size, but I’m not sure about one of the colors. I’m too picky, LOL!


Instagram: Oh, I really don’t think I am getting out of this store without one or two of these adorable little bowls (aka my kryptonite) in my cart.

365: 2015 35/365 – I resisted a lot of things at Target this morning, but little bowls and M&M’s were not among them.

Instagram: You probably guessed how the Lisa Finds Cute Bowls at Target story would end…


365: 2015 36/365 – Dear New Vacuum, You suck. Sincerely, Me. PS. I think I love you.

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

Weekend Favorites

Posted February 6th, 2015 by

I need to learn not to save my link-gathering for the last minute. Inevitably, I find one link that leads me down a fascinating rabbit hole of things that could really only appeal to me, and are therefore not really share-able. Before I know it, an hour and a half has passed, and I have one link to share. But, hey, I’ve learned all about the interesting things Google Now can do on my phone, so there’s that.

I did actually do a smidge better than that this week. I have a whole four links to share.

But it did still take me an hour and a half, and I did spend far too much of that time checking out ways to expand my use of Google Now.


The mosaic below represents other people’s pictures that spoke to me this week on Flickr and Instagram. Click on the titles below the mosaic to get a better look at the images and see more from the photographers who made them.

(Follow me?Flickr | Instagram)

Weekend Favorites at Polka Dot Cottage

  1. Cute washi journal cards in the makin… by mrslorichandler via Instagram
  2. Edaline by littlecottonrabbits via Flickr
  3. Fair Isle wristwarmers by littlecottonrabbits via Flickr
  4. { I love her } by elf_girl via Instagram
  5. My husband’s worst nightmare. by theclevercarrot via Instagram
  6. I feel like this is toooooo much colo… by lionessroar via Instagram
  7. 1824 banked barn at the VanNest-Hoff-… by thehistorygirlnj via Instagram
  8. Uptown view from 39th Street between … by stevenkass via Instagram
  9. It’s 2:26, and this is the 2:26 train… by stevenkass via Instagram
  10. Nourishing Soup by jmary124 via Flickr
  11. Winter roads by jmary124 via Flickr
  12. Another monster set was shipped this … by the.hook.nook via Instagram
  13. My 1st yarnbomb, 2.6 miles up the Col… by yarnbombs via Instagram
  14. Ripple ripple! by thatgirlwhocrochets via instagram
  15. My love for baking & photography came… by carolhartseattle via Instagram
  16. Here is a Valentine you can make for … by ohhappyday via Instagram
  17. Found these blooms in the garden :: B… by xantheb via Instagram
  18. Fresh from it’s first laundering, the… by pam garrison via Flickr


Here are a few interesting things from around the web that grabbed me this week:

  • Ways to Wear – videos for scarf-tying fromTheodora & Callum. I was looking for some alternate ways to tie one of my new scarves, and I came across this. There are several videos that show different ways to wear big billowy scarves.
  • Sophie’s Garden – a crochet block photo tutorial from Look at What I Made. Look at What I Made shares the instructions for this beautiful crochet square. It can be used in a blanket, but I think it would make a pretty mat for a small table.
  • Little Spring Mandala – a crochet pattern from Made in K-town. I love this pretty circular crochet motif! I made one this week, and then I made another, adding a few of my own rounds to make it bigger. The color possibilities with these are endless!
  • How to Get Kids Involved in the Community – ideas from GeekMom. I love the ideas here, especially those aimed at bridging the age gap (i.e. toddler play group at a nursing home).

Well, that’s it for me today. Have a great Friday, and try not to fall down too many rabbit holes!

Nineties lips

Posted February 5th, 2015 by

A few weeks ago, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and as much as I didn’t really want to be spurred into action, it did inspire me to go through my wardrobe and fill up four huge trash bags for donation. That, in turn, got the rest of the family going through their clothes and generating another four bags. Our closets have some breathing room now. It’s really nice.

[ I have to tell you, that’s an affiliate link up there, and a few are coming up below, too.]

I’m not committing to the KonMari method (from the book) in terms of decluttering the whole house in one big swoop. But I did use the method to get the ball rolling with my clothes. From there, I’ve just let the urge to declutter this spot or that spot occur organically.

Cleaned out my makeup drawer.

This means lipstick, people.

The top drawer in our bathroom cabinet was stuffed to the gills with make-up, perfumes, lotions, and jewelry, about 90% of which I haven’t used since I left my day job. 15 years ago. Eek.

Cleaned out my makeup drawer.

In those years, I have pared down my beauty routine considerably. I don’t wear much in the way of make-up, and what I do wear is either homemade or as natural as I can get. I threw everything away except for my current favorites, most notably Burts Bees Lip Shimmers. I have a small stockpile of the discontinued Papaya, which is my favorite one.

I don’t use lotions anymore. I have coconut oil for that. I threw most of the old ones away.

And my favorite perfumes these days are natural enough to be sold at Whole Foods. I’m told they have rigorous standards for what they will carry in their beauty aisles, so I feel ok buying something I see there. Lately my scent is Gin Blossom from Love and Toast.

I didn’t throw away my old perfumes. I stashed them under the sink. I don’t want to wear them every day, but sometimes a girl just needs a splash of her old signature honeysuckle scent, you know? Who cares what might be in it!

Cleaned out my makeup drawer.

I wish I had thought to take a before picture of the drawer. Trust me, it was filled to the top. I did think to photograph the lipstick, though.

Cleaned out my makeup drawer.

I was impressed that I still had so many tubes of stuff I haven’t worn in so long! I was also impressed that they were almost all the same color, give or take a pinch of brown or a pinch of pink here and there.

Cleaned out my makeup drawer.

I’m so happy with my new drawer. I was even able to move the powdered deodorant off of the counter top and into the drawer. I prefer it there. And who doesn’t like more counter space?


I’ve also decluttered my nightstand, and I’ve been working on the top of my dresser, too. My bedroom and bathroom have been horrifying for far too long. I’m so glad to see things changing! I took “before” pictures almost two years ago when I thought I couldn’t stand any more of the clutter. Turns out, I had two more years of ignoring it in me. Who knew?

I can’t wait to share those pictures with you. It’s insane. But first, I have just a few more little corners to take care of!

Summer in Winter

Posted January 31st, 2015 by

Making a Wineberry Crisp

I spent my Saturday morning as I often do: sipping a hot beverage and reading something interesting. Often it’s Awake tea and blogs, or some other kind of tea and a good book, but today it was coffee and Artful Blogging.

I love that magazine. I wouldn’t say that the articles are all that ground-breaking. In fact, I often think that if I read one more “How Blogging Changed My Life” or “We’re All Part of Such a Wonderful Community Where Everyone Shares and Cares” article I might scream (even if I do sometimes share those rosy feelings myself). For me, the beauty of Artful Blogging is in the photography. I do still read the articles, but it’s generally the author’s images that grab me first, and the words second.

So this weekend, I was flipping leisurely through the current issue, stopping now and then to follow somebody on Flickr or Instagram as they caught my eye, when I was stopped dead in my tracks by this:

This Artful Blogging made me want to bake.

I was suddenly struck by this intense need to bake a berry crisp.

Now, let me tell you how unusual this is. For one thing, Saturdays rarely see me dressed before Noon. For another thing, my cooking and baking mojo were last seen somewhere in 2011, I think, and these days my oven is primarily a vessel for curing polymer clay crochet hooks or heating up frozen french fries.

And yet, here I was, 9:30 in the morning, hopping in the shower, getting dressed, and throwing on an apron to bake something that I wasn’t required to bake. And I was doing it with enthusiasm, as opposed to resignation.

I put on some Innocence Mission, which for some reason I can’t explain, feels like baking music to me.

I took a bunch of pictures, because from the moment I found myself showering before lunch time on a weekend, I knew I was going to blog it.

Making a Wineberry Crisp

2015 31/365

Making a Wineberry Crisp

Making a Wineberry Crisp

You realize just how worth-the-effort it is to squirrel away a handful of Summer berries, when you are standing in your kitchen on the last day of January, holding a freezer container to your face, and breathing in the smell of the farmer’s market from seven months before. Oh, those strawberries – so fragrant!

Along with the strawberries, I had also saved a small bag of farm market blueberries and blackberries, and some wineberries from the yard. Six cups of luscious Summer fruit went into the bowl.

I returned what was left of the strawberries and the wineberries to the freezer, and got to work on my crisp, snapping pictures, and humming along to the music.

What a lovely morning. And at the end of it, I had a rare Winter treat that I didn’t have before.

I even cleaned up after myself promptly, before the dishes could get crusty with dried oats and sticky juices. That is something that happens somewhat less frequently than it should…

Making a Wineberry Crisp

Making a Wineberry Crisp

Making a Wineberry Crisp

New blue kettle

Do you spy my new kettle? When I asked for your tea kettle advice recently, I had not realized it would spark a week of such angst for me. I spent days upon days dithering over such questions as: electric or stovetop? glass or stainless steel? gooseneck or regular spout?

And then I pulled myself together, realized I was not trying to do anything more fancy than boil a damn pot of water, and ordered pretty much the same thing I had before. Which had always done a fine enough job for me.

New blue kettle

I bought a blue one. I consider the main color of my kitchen to be blue with pops of red accents. I’ve aquired so many red things over the years, though, that I think the kitchen was starting to look like it was red with pops of blue accents instead. This kettle is one step toward restoring the balance of color power around here. And it boils water pretty well, too, so there’s that.

Making a Wineberry Crisp

Making a Wineberry Crisp

As it happens, my kitchen inspiration this weekend came at a very good time. My parents were visiting in the afternoon, and I actually had a little something homemade to offer them, instead of my original plan: standing in front of the refrigerator saying “ummmmmmm?” until we all decide we weren’t really hungry anyway.


P.S. Just in case you have a stash of summer berries and have also had a sudden urge to bake, here’s my recipe (although I used strawberries instead of peaches this time – it’s very versatile – use what you have!).

P.P.S. The images that caught my eye in the magazine were from The Clever Carrot and it appears that they came from this blog post for buttermilk blueberry muffins.

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