Thursday, July 31, 2008


My heart is fickle when it comes to crafts. I have too many interests and have never really mastered any of them. But my knitting - my lovely, warm, safe knitting - has recaptured me this week. I have two finished objects under my belt and am getting ready to undertake the first just-for-me project I've made. It has required quite a bit of Googling to understand a few techniques I haven't really grasped yet. Namely, that dang provisional cast-on. It's this lovely trick that lets you start wherever you want to in a knitting project because you undo the starting stitches later and reveal "live" stitches that you can just pick up and knit in the opposite direction. Very useful for symmetry, like in a shawl or something. Like in the Honeybee Stole or something. I've tried this one a couple of times and always run into trouble undoing the stitches. I really, really didn't want to invest myself in this project to the tune of four-or-so feet of lace and then find that I couldn't undo the stitches in the middle to start on the other half. Did I lose all of you non-knitters? Sorry.
But I found a video today of a lady who just crocheted the starting stitches (with waste yarn...again, sorry non-knitters) right onto the knitting needle! So, if you are a lurking knitter (who never leaves a comment, shame on you!) and would like to take this opportunity to holler, "Stop! Foolish novice! This is a really bad idea!" please do it now, before I have knitted myself into a project I can't get back out of. Please? And thank you.
I'm really excited, and anytime a new project requires new equipment, well, you won't hear me complain. I hadn't been able to get started on this becasue I don't have the right needles. But I knew I'd be able to get to the store today, this being Thursday. It is ballet night, and being the last Thursday of the month, it is actually stretch class night for all ballerinas and sometimes mommies can play too. I like to play stretch class because I get lots of compliments. And she really worked us today, that Miss Michelle. I was very warmed up and she suggested working on our splits, at which point I said I needed to split to go pick up a size of knitting needle I needed for this new project and she said that she'd just like to see me try it. Just once. Please, Kiki? And I can't say no when anybody calls me Kiki - not even when grownups do. So, I tried it. And guess what? The side splits that I thought I'd lost when I was 18 are actually still there. Albeit a little shaky. So I left the dancers to do their dancing things with my head held high and, well, my thighs a little bit like jell-o, and nipped into JoAnn's for some knitting needles. Size 5, 29" circular, and wooden, please. That should do the trick and be pleasurable at the same time, which is always my aim in any endeavor.
And now I sit with my quaking and offended legs my desk, having cast on, provisionally, 101 stitches in my waste yarn and remembering that I must fill you in on absolutely the most important event of the day. I got a package today. Well, Andrew and I did. From my dear Julianna, who has left me for regions unknown (some like to call it Chicago). And she sent birthday presents and made me promise Chris would take my picture as I opened it since she couldn't be here to see my face. And let me tell you, the pictures are pretty funny. Here's the most decent one (and please notice, Amy, how really bad my house is looking and you will feel so much better about your dust bunnies):

Do you people realize what that is? It's a book by the Yarn Harlot. But you see, Julianna got to see the Yarn Harlot in Chicago on her book tour. And, well, this book? Stephanie Pearl-McPhee signed it with her very own hands. She wrote my name in it. It's autographed. And I walked around the house for the next thirty minutes randomly spewing phrases like, "Honey. The Yarn Harlot signed my book," and "Honey. She wrote my own name with her very hands," and even the less coherent, "Honey. Yarn Harlot. Book."
I am not one to be starstruck, really. I mean, people are just people, regardless of the notoriety they achieve or earn or whatever. But for a newbie knitter like myself? That's a pretty big deal.

DAILY BLISS: my funny husband - he just makes me laugh when I'm not expecting it

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Date

My brother, the older of the two, called me and asked if he and his wife could take our kids for an evening this week.
Um, yes.
Yes, you can.
We don't go out very often and I'm not entirely sure we've been out together since our anniversary - in December. Which is really sad. But this offer coincided with the new Batman movie being out and so we decided to make a break for it and partake in this summer's big event. And it wasn't disappointing. I am, however, fuh-reaked out. Pretty bad.
I'm kind of wussy about that sort of stuff. I like little indie films and I don't even mind subtitles. I like good stories and big laughs in my movies. And I went through an action movie phase in my mid-twenties, but I got over it. But Chris has really been wanting to see this one and my other brother and his wife gave it rave reviews last weekend. So we went to see it.
I sat in my seat, hardly breathing, throughout most of the film. I squeezed my eyes shut and clawed into my husband's forearms with my newly-trimmed fingernails and uncomfortably switched my crossed legs from left to right and back again. And in the end, it was so good and I was so relieved that it was over that I almost cried. And all Chris has been able to say since we left the theatre was that it took the franchise to a "whole new level." I think he means he really liked it too. He's a man of few words (which is good, because I have so many words).
Scary movie and weeks of nightmares aside, it was so nice to go out to dinner together and talk about our days and I even wore my cute new shoes.
Oh, and the kids had a lot of fun too. More fun than they ever have during an evening at home, to be sure!

DAILY BLISS: Chick-fil-a unsweet iced tea, a big one, just when I needed it most


So - hey! This is my 300th post (on this blog). Lots of people do contests or polls or other special things for the 100s, but, so far I haven't. It just seemed that it'd be worth mentioning, I guess, even if I'm too lazy to really do something about it.
In very important news, the Honeybee Stole was unanimously approved and will be cast on very soon, maybe even tonight. I'd planned to cast it on last night, since it was Blackout Night, and discovered that I don't have the right size of circular needles, or anything quite long enough to accommodate all of its lovely stitches. Also, I'm not-so-good with the provisional cast-on and didn't feel like attempting it by candle light! So, perhaps today? We shall see.
Last night saw the return of Blackout Night, as I mentioned, and it was lovely. Andrew happened to be away at a friend's house, so we were operating with a skeleton crew. The kids are getting less and less enchanted with the idea of an entire evening sans light bulbs and Nintendo, but I really do plan to stick to my guns on this.
We had chips and salsa, some bean dip (which the DH heated just seconds before Lights Out because, well, cold beans? Gross.) and olives, finished off with lovely blackberries for dessert. As we finished dinner, we made our way to the living room, which was still bright enough to make out faces, but dimming quickly. There was some silence and general digesting-of-dinner, until a round of Go Fish was suggested by the wee one. After a couple of games, the rain started pouring down and we absolutely had to retire to the porch. It's not screened, though, so mosquitoes are a bit of a problem. I suddenly recalled a lone mosquito coil that was languishing somewhere on our grounds and it was happily employed for the next couple of hours.

As was Emma's imagination. Rain does that to some of us girls - it helps us to imagine.

I understand, baby girl. I really do.
When the rain was spent, we left Daddy on the porch with a book, sprawled out on the floor and took up Emma's latch hook rug for a bit. She's had it since last fall and hasn't done much, I have to say. It involves an awful lot of sitting still and focusing. And some of us just don't focus well. But we sat quietly in the flickering light, taking turns threading the yarn on the hook and listening to the gentle ticking of our clock and the contented beak-grinding of our birds and the drip-drip-drip of rain.
Once Emma headed to bed, we grown-ups read for what seemed to be a long time. It always feels so much later than it actually is when you're surrounded by silence. Which is a good thing when you are hoping to stretch out the peace of such an evening for as long as possible.

DAILY BLISS: a good hair day and a little bit of chocolate

Sunday, July 27, 2008

And We're Back

Life seems to be settling back in on us, which is a good thing. I still haven't managed to get a grocery list going, so we are still running to the grocery store every afternoon and scrambling to figure out dinner. But otherwise....routines are starting again and it feels mighty nice. My whole life was taken over with that trip for quite some time and before that, it was taken over with organizing this crazy summer that we've had. But now we have three weeks before school starts (really!? only three??) and absolutely no more camps. That should leave me time to prepare for the school year in a rather leisurely manner, right? Ha!
I have finished up a huge knitting thingy and it's waiting for blocking and I cast on the last gifty I'll be making before I start in on Christmas crafting. So....I'll be busy with that and I think that, three days before school starts, you'll hear from me as I'm running around like a mad woman wondering why I waited until that moment to start looking for uniform polo shirts and whatnot. That's just how I roll, yo.
I can't wait to show you all knitting pictures, but it will have to wait just a bit longer. I think it will be worth the wait.
Where was I? Oh yes. Routines. We had church this morning and a deep discussion about loss, which was so fulfilling. It was my morning to handle breakfast, which meant more of my weekend in the kitchen - not that I minded, but I do think my little baking binge is just about over. I don't have a dishwasher and the clean-up gets tiresome after a while. And we ran a few errands together, which is a nice change. And we watched a movie this afternoon with the kids and just sat around like sloths and it's been just what the doctor ordered. Oh! And I spent the rest of my birthday money. I ordered a couple of patterns to try with my alpaca yarn from my trip. So, if you feel like it and have a minute, click on 'em and tell me which one you like best. I cannot decide which one to make. The yarn is brown laceweight alpaca - a little fuzzy and extra-soft. I bought a shawl pattern called Obscuro , and I really like its name. It feels a little Harry Potter-ish, if you know what I mean. The other one is a stole called Honeybee and you all know how I feel about bees and honey. Also, it's really gorgeous and I think I'm leaning in its direction.
With the rest of my birthday money, I got these:

Aren't they absolutely the best? I have to confess that my friend Christina wore them to church this morning and the minute I saw them I was practically on the floor squealing right at them. I loved them that much. And she told me that she had just gotten them and they were on sale (!) for, like eleven dollars. And I had to, had to, had to go and get them right away! You know, sometimes cute shoes can really make you feel happy. At least, it works that way for me. And, do you know what a great friend she is? She didn't mind in the least that I was about to go and get the same pair of cute shoes that she has. Not at all. In fact, she even called me to offer her pair to me (we wear the same size) if I hadn't found one in my size because they didn't do for her what they did for me, you know? Well, if you're a Shoe Girl, you know. Seriously. She deserves a medal. Or maybe a cake. Cake is the best reward, probably.

DAILY BLISS: watching a mama squirrel sit on my fence, chomping away on a leaf

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Camps and Craziness

My kids have been so busy this summer! I don't even have the space and time to blog it all. I'm going to try and hit the highlights that have come about recently. Nana asked how Emma was doing in art camp...she had lots of fun, of course. It wasn't as instructional as I'd hoped, but several hours a day with unlimited access to art supplies is never a bad thing as far as my girl is concerned. I was out of town during the last half, so I didn't have a chance to chat up any of the teachers and see what they had to say about her skills. But I guess I don't really need any confirmation! She's an artist through and through. Here is the pile of loot that she brought home: They did talk a little bit about perspective: My personal favorite is this underwater scene in pencil - I just love the squiggly undersea fellows: And here's a rendering of the Tooth Fairy, who visited Emma while Andrew and I were in Massachusetts: She spent this week in Camp Invention, to which she won a scholarship by submitting a creative timeline of the evolution of eating utensils. I know, right? Pretty cool stuff. It was a little - well, not what I had expected. But we had just come out of that super engineering camp with Andrew, so it would be hard to live up to. Here she is on Crazy Outfit Day. I knew they'd be taking apart small appliances and I thought the "inventing" part was creating something with the parts. But they didn't actually invent things that worked. Here is one of the inventions. I'm sure I can't remember right now what it does... At the same time, though, these are awfully young kids for that kind of stuff and she really had a lot of fun. This was a very creative endeavor. Her invention was this little "finger massager." And here is the poster that advertises her product. Just in case you can't read it, it says "Ahhh....Madam Muazel You must try this!" I kid you not! Madam Muazel! Ha! Ingenious. I will be the first to buy one once Andrew rigs it up to actually massage fingers! Speaking of Andrew, it should be known that he spent his weekday mornings in guitar camp this past week. He's taken piano for a few years now and, though he really has enjoyed it, I don't think it's his instrument. I realize that not every kid has an instrument that is naturally theirs, but in this family, we kinda do. And so the search has begun to find Andrew's musical voice. He's got a naturally great sense of pitch and a decent sense for rhythm. All that is to say that he really enjoyed learning a bit about the guitar. He even practiced without being asked, which says a lot. He already knows almost enough chords to play a little worship music with me. It was definitely a good start.

DAILY BLISS: another apricot tart :) and an excellent morning cup of coffee

Friday, July 25, 2008

Quick Little Note

Tonight was my monthly knitting night, which always surprises me because I forget that it's coming. Then somebody reminds me and I panic and wonder what I'll make for refreshments and how in the world I'll manage to clean the house.
Then I remember that it's just my friends. They love me anyway. And somehow I manage to at least get a yummy treat on the table, even if the house is, um, real looking.
I saw this apricot tart on orangette and had, had, had to make it - as in right now! I even had to go buy a tart pan. I don't know what it is with my recent baking urgency, but it's serious, people. I'm not going to bother trying to get her image posted over here. It's late and I'm very full of apricot tart. Just trust me and click on it. Yum.
So, as always it was a fun evening of yakking and knitting and just being girls together. Very refreshing.
And now I absolutely must get into my bed. I don't even think I'll brush my teeth. Don't tell anybody, 'k?
I promise an art camp update tomorrow for Nana and a little bit about this week's guitar camp (Drew) and all things related to such wonders.

DAILY BLISS: Good Earth tea (the cinnamon one) and thunder

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Now That's a Knife!

Isn't that a line from Crocodile Dundee? Sheesh. Don't ask me why I remember that.
But this is not any ordinary knife. This is a knife that was handed to me at my birthday party by my daddy.

He sold it to his mom 30 years ago and he managed to bring it home this year. It's a piece of Chicago Cutlery, which means it's pretty nice, too. Now, Daddy, I know I'm not supposed to use it yet until I take care of oiling the handle, but I was making dinner tonight and could not resist it. It sat there on the counter and whimpered toward the peaches and I could not say no.
We had a fun dinner tonight. There was this peach confection on the front cover of the August Better Homes and Gardens and I was trying to decide what to make for supper and...well....I couldn't say no to it either. There's a lot of not saying no going around here today. Peaches and ice cream and little strips of sugared pastry? Um, yes please.
Skillet Peaches a la Mode and the new Coldplay album. Very nice for dinner on a rainy evening. I'm pretty much obsessed with Viva la Vida right now. There's this one cut, "42," that reminds me so much of "Imagine" that I'm quite sure I can't be the only one to have noticed....
So, with a smile on my face from yummy dinner and yummy songs, I headed for my porch and watched the rain fall for a while. The only way to improve on a night like this is to knit. And knit I will - very soon.

DAILY BLISS: soy ice cream that's really pretty good (especially if you haven't had real ice cream in a long time)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The World Has Been Set Back in Order

We are all back under one roof again and will spend the rest of tonight, well, resting. And then we will set about the business of managing all the changes that are heading our way with a new school year on the horizon.
But for now, we will simply be.
Thank you all for your kind birthday wishes over the last couple of days. It was a good one, and knowing you all were out there thinking of me made it even better!

DAILY BLISS: steak dinner out and a good-sport husband, who didn't mind making out with me until I figured out how to get the picture I wanted

Monday, July 21, 2008


I'm 32 today. And I'm tired.

DAILY BLISS: shopping with my Denise and girls' night in

Sunday, July 20, 2008


We made it. We got here.
Yesterday was interesting.
Friday night, I realized that Andrew's projects were way too big for me to get home in a suitcase and we'd need to ship them home. We called the UPS store and they were already closed and would not open in time for us to stop in before our flight home. So, the Post Office was our only option. They opened at 7:30 and we really needed to get out of town at 8:00. The big pink thing on the back of the car? That's the ranger station.

The crew there was so nice that I plan to send in a letter to their boss. And here's why:
There was not a box big enough to fit his "ranger station" so when I suggested that we needed to disassemble the projects to fit in a smaller box, and then we realized that the pieces were still too big, they suggested we keep the boxes flat and tape the ends shut. I understand that that may not make sense, but I hope it does. And here's my point - there were three employees boxing, taping, bubble wrapping and labeling and marveling at how calm I was, considering I was running on such a tight schedule. They were so wonderful that I couldn't say no to the special edition sheet of baseball stamps the woman offered to sell me. Three boxes (and more than $100) later, we were on our way out of town.
We got to the airport with time to spare and got to our gate faster than I expected because I did not realize that Manchester was such a small airport. We were feeling very confident until we noticed people lining up at the gate desk. I thought I'd better get in line too, considering the disastrous last few trips I've taken on airplanes (one of which was on my birthday last year) and sure enough, we had to spend the whole day in the little airport there.
So I bought Andrew his first real cup of Starbucks.

And we made it. Our connector was in Philly and I got into an, um, altercation with a jerk who was talking on his cell phone (after they said not to) and kept dropping loud f-bombs. He had ear buds on and I'd like to think he didn't know how loud he was. But that's just me being nice. So, I stood up and turned around and said something like, "Dude - you're surrounded by children! Could you ease up on the f-bombs?" To which he responded rudely and spent the rest of the flight pretending to almost swear and then loudly correcting himself. So I made some un-ladylike gestures through the back of the seat. Which I'm not proud of, but there you have it. But it'd been a really long day, even though I know that's not really a good excuse. It's not the actual swearing that I have the problem with, it's the manners and after being pushed enough, my manners flew out the window too. So there. But the guys that were stuck in the row with him enjoyed it thoroughly. I heard them say they were from Polk County and when they smiled at me for, um, gesturing, I said I was from there too. And they gave me shout-outs across the concourse after we de-planed. And I kind of liked that.
Anyhoo, tomorrow is my birthday and since Chris had to leave town today (yes I know - ships passing in the night, we are) we had my birthday party today. My whole family and my church (which are pretty much my family too) all had a special birthday brunch with us at my mom's house. I requested these little rhubarb hand pies I saw on the angry chicken blog because I have always loved rhubarb stuff and my sweet man made mimosas and served me coffee. Lovely!
I got some really cool presents because I love some really cool people but there was a really special one that made me cry a lot - and I mean ugly cry. It's my great grandma's (my mom's mom's mom) sewing table. And it's short and sweet and is still filled with the most wonderful vintage notions and little clues about her too. I'm the only great-grandbaby she ever held or knew. So, there is definitely a special connection there. It has beautiful detailing on the front:

And two drawers and a lift-up top full of thread


pins and needles and tiny crochet hooks

miles of bias tape

and even a hand-written crochet pattern for some unnamed project

I think that wraps up the whirlwind of days that have been this last week. And though we saw and did lots of interesting things, I am a country mouse. And this country mouse is glad to leave the city see the moon outside her window and to have room to breathe and grass between her toes, even if it is nasty old St. Augustine grass.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day Eight - Real Time Update

We are stuck in airport hell. We'd checked in too early to know at first that our flight out of Manchester was delayed. We found out just in time to get one of the last seats back to Tampa connecting in Philly. Ugh. We will be sitting in this airport for a total of about six hours and I hope, hope, hope this one doesn't have an issue.
I don't want to miss my birthday party tomorrow.....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Day Seven - The Reason We Came

Today was the last day of DesignCamp for Andrew. The camp puts on a show every year and the kids all bring their projects to a big room and set them up for display so all the proud parents can take lots of pictures and gloat about their genius children.

Mine certainly qualifies.
The kids all had pizza

The name of his camp was Electric Jungle and, as the name implies, they all built critters that have at least two electronic functions...or whatever you might call that. Here is our, um, cockatiel. He "blinks" and "walks." He also has no crest - that was a last-minute design change due to time constraint and the difficulty in achieving a crest that goes up and down as was originally planned.

I daresay, Andrew seemed to have more fun demonstrating the "ranger station" that he built early in the week. They had to build a survival station and include a few items they thought they would need. He carved a toilet out of foam. That's a definite necessity, I guess. But there are also several lights and lights of different colors to be used in signalling other rangers if danger arises.

It was super-hot in that auditorium. Today was somewhere around 93 degrees, which is fine at home because we are prepared for it and most buildings are air conditioned. But not so much here. They are much better prepared for cold weather, I think. I'd like to say that the heat and general slipperiness of sweaty hands contributed to the poor quality of these photos. I do apologize.
I did beg someone to take a shot of me and my boy. It's really the only one of the two of us that I didn't take at arm's length from this week. I am so proud of him. This is a big deal for him - it's his first shot at getting his feet wet with any sort of building and designing and wiring up something, and I think he did really well. Not to mention the fact that he was in a completely unfamiliar environment with nobody that he knew around him all day long. So - good job Andrew! I'm so honored to be your mom!

Day Seven - An Expotition

I visited a building today that was highly recommended by my Friend Who Understands. It's a ruin of a spot with smokestacks and it stands in the middle of several mill buildings that have been converted into apartments and offices.

It's such a sad building. All of its friends were repaired and shored up with heavy beams in their walkways, but for some reason, this poor guy wasn't. You can almost put your hands on the walls and feel it shudder and sigh.

Most of his first floor windows were boarded up and some of the doors and trim had long ago been painted green.

But some of the windows were only covered with wire and you could peek in.

Right in his belly, this once-proud and powerful brick structure has finally permitted the Earth to spread back into her space, if for no other reason than the need of those bricks for a bit of living company.

Just beyond the layers of fencing and doorways, there is a Secret Garden of sorts and it's green and beautiful and has spots of sunshine that beam through and invite the eye to search for its treasures.

My camera and my meager skills could hardly do this little spot justice, so, while you can see a bit of what I saw, I think its beauty will be mine to keep.

My ladybug and I would love to come in for a picnic. Could you ask the spider webs to stand aside, please? And would all of you people in the alley please stop looking at me like that? The Garden of Mysteries has invited me to visit. I have every right to be here.

Due to the presence of lots of people and cars, I decided it was best not to sneak through the hole in the fence. But it's too bad, really.

I did leave completely covered with spider webs (though I wasn't too worried - our Florida spiders are much more likely to be poisonous than Massachusetts spiders). I was sure that everyone on the street could tell I'd been poking around in places that I ought not to by the gossamer strands that were streaming behind me as I trotted back down Market Street. But I didn't care. I'd been on an Expotition.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day Six - This One's For the Boys

I took one final trip into Boston today. The Fourth of July Dress and I were feeling a little patriotic and decided it was our duty to visit the Most Patriotic Brewery of All.

Now, each and every person who found out I'd be in the Boston area this summer told me something I had to do while I was there. But my dear husband, my friend, my love, said, "You know, the Sam Adams brewery is there! You could go and take a tour and have samples!" So, in his honor, I did just that.

Upon arrival, I was informed that I could partake in a very special event - a taste test between two new brews that they are considering. I get to vote for my favorite and whichever one wins the most votes by a certain date will be produced sometime next year! So the guy at the gate, he told me that the choices were Coffee Stout and Blackberry Witbier. "Both are excellent morning beers," he said. Ha! Morning beers! These guys really mean business.

The tour was really informative and I got to taste the different grains they use, but not the hops. Hops is for smelling, not for tasting.
See all that lovely beer?

See the brewmaster (should that be capitalized out of respect? is it one word or two?) with the beard from their commercials?

We went on to the tasting room. Also fun and informative. Here's what's on tap today.

I did feel a little awkward on a tour that mostly consisted of couples, and one group of special needs men....that was interesting. One lady finally turned around and said hello to me. She asked if I was here all by myself. I said that I was. "Good for you!" she said. She and her husband are really into beer. I mean it. So anyway, I think she meant that in a good way and not in an "aww, honey" way.
The brewery was completely on the other side of Boston from me. It was a loooong haul, but definitely worth it. On the way back, I made a pit stop at the Old South Meeting House downtown for a nice, quiet look into a bit of Tea Party history and little souvenir shopping. By this time, I was schlepping around an awful lot of Sam Adams merch in a bag. I grabbed a quick bite to eat and sat outside by a fountain. Trying to blend in, I put on my iPod. It must have worked because somebody asked me directions to somewhere. I said I was a tourist, but thanked her for the compliment. I don't think she understood how hard I was trying to blend in.
So, my parcels, the dress and I were joined by an Iced Venti Passion Tea, no-sweet-please, and we conquered the way home.

I didn't even get lost once this time.
Good for you, honey! And not at all in a condescending way.