Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just Visiting - Part 1

Re-capping our visit with Chris' family will probably take several posts, and with Emma's birthday party coming up on Saturday, they will be sparse. I'm gonna try, though.
Our actual travel was uneventful, which is really a nice thing to be able to say. I've had some harrowing travel in the last couple of years. We flew into Nashville (Really wish I'd been able to coordinate some face time with my Tennessee peeps. Ah well. Maybe next time?), because that's as close as we could get to Evansville, Indiana without Chris' wallet having a heart attack. His mom and dad and brother and his wife and the baby all came to get us in their church's van and we headed north.
We were so happy to meet our little nephew, Gavin Christopher (that's right - a namesake for my hubby! They were returning the favor, you see). He was hilarious and wonderful. Just at the age where little ones realize that they can have an effect on their environment and other people, and as far as they're concerned, they ought to be in charge of all of it.
Before we got all the way to our destination, we stopped in Kentucky to visit Chris' mom's family. His Mamaw (that's Grandma to you Yankees) has lived in the same house for 65 years. I really love the house - it's just my type. Mamaw is getting to that time of life when it's uncertain how much longer she'll live there, and since visits are far between, I had to take some pictures of it in all its crumbling-paint, slanted-floored glory.
Here are the kids and Gavin:

And here are a few things I spotted around the place that made my heart sing. I know it's not for everyone, but crackling paint, wavy old glass and washed-out curtains are just wonderful to me.

Sitting there in the living room, though, I became sharply aware of how time has passed. I watched my little nephew playing on the floor, in the middle of his extended family and remembered the same scene taking place when Andrew was little.

It seems incomprehensible to me that so much time has passed by me. My mom, maybe. My grandma, definitely. But me? Certainly not yet. I am sure that odd sense is so keen to Mamaw, having watched now three generations play on her living room floor, and teasing a hug and a kiss right out of each of them.
We had dinner at a restaurant in the tiny town of Central City and finished our drive to the house where Chris grew up. It was a long day, but an oh-so-satisfying one.

Monday, September 29, 2008


We are back in town, sitting in Tampa International Airport and waiting on our ride home. The humidity is wonderful and my skin is soaking it up. Now, by next week, I'm sure I'll be complaining about it again, but for now, I'm happy.
There will be photos and stories galore coming up soon, but I packed the wrong stupid camera cable, so I have to wait until I'm actually at home and sitting down for a while before I piece everything together.
Thank you for all the lovely comments on the dresses and party! You all made my day, and I wish each of you could have worn a leaf crown at my house (well, except for the boys - that would just look silly) and celebrated with me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Handmade Finery

The in-laws do not have internet access, so I'm sneaking a quick fix at Panera. Hazelnut coffee - yum!
So, for our fall party, Emma and I adorned ourselves in seasonally-appropriate, handmade finery. She, a woodland fairy, donned a pumpkin dress and crown of leaves. Here she is flitting about in SideHouse Forest:

And I wore my Fall Frock.

It was excellent for twirling.

And now (fanfare) for the Honeybee Stole. I don’t think I have the ultimate picture of it yet. My poor husband is occasionally forced to click the camera’s shutter button and has no idea what the photos are that my head wants. He did a good job, though. Mindy? When I get back, will you help me?

Coming soon…..our travels and adventures in Indiana. I just need to sleep for a couple of days first.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Equinox Party

I suppose this is terribly late.
We had a lovely dinner party on Sunday, as is our tradition, in celebration of the first day of autumn. I do know that Sunday was not actually the first day of the season, but we were leaving town on Tuesday in the wee hours and I thought it best to move the date of the celebration.
As it was, I really should have moved it to Saturday or even Friday. Once again, I imagined myself as being super-human. I imagined that I could, in fact, do it all. Once again, I was wrong.
I write this from my in-laws’ living room, exhausted and a little stunned at all that has happened over the last couple of days. My body is refusing to continue forward and my brain doesn’t even really want to blog. But somewhere in the far reaches of my mind, a little voice tells me that if I do not, I will have entirely too much to catch up on later and I will have to gloss over details and I don’t like glossing over things.
So, on with the party.
Emma was a big help. Here she is eating the apple peels for me. We were making apple crisp.

Andrew helped too. Especially, he lit the candles.

My fat little birdies enjoyed the party lights and leaves.

I really loved how these lights glowed through the leaves against my perfectly butter-yellow walls.

The centerpieces were dessert, of course. The party favors? Giant ginger cookies in pretty parchment bags.

And our wonderful, amazing, fabulous friends did the dishes:

And Joe & Mindy helped us put our furniture back where it belonged and finish cleaning up. Remember a couple of days ago when I said I couldn’t have done it without help? We had help. Lots of wonderful help.
Finally, I must show you the quiet tribute that sat on our hutch. The Autumnal Equinox is very close to Emma’s birthday. One year, when she was very small, she was so excited for the big party. She helped me decorate and put out silverware and asked who would be coming. She asked about cake and was a little confused when I told her there wouldn’t be one. It wasn’t until people started arriving without presents that we all figured it out. She thought we were having, not an Autumnal Equinox party, but a Ton of Lincoln Logs birthday party for her.
Here is her Lincoln Log décor, complete a Fall Décor store and a dump for putting all the party trash in after the soiree. And an action figure that looks surprisingly like Geraldo Rivera.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Speaking of Soundtracks.....

I get by with a little help from my friends.
I absolutely could not have made it through the last two days without them. Oh, and my mother. Especially her.

Dinner party done.
Handmade finery worn and loved.
Going to collapse into bed.
Pictures tomorrow, on the actual Autumnal Equinox.

<3 Me

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Honeybee Stole is off the needles and awaiting its blocking! I absolutely had, had, had to finish it tonight.
And now, off to bed.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Most of my week has been spent in the car. The state of the floor in there is quite despicable. There are coffee mugs and water bottles and a few french fry boxes and mountains of pen-and-ink drawings by Emma containing stories that have been lost to the miles behind us.
It's just been that kind of week.
But the soundtrack of life hasn't let me down. You know how, sometimes, the music you come across just suits where you are? Maybe that only happens to me. Maybe I just have that special kind of magic that conjures up the right song at the right time.
I drive an old car and the tape player doesn't work. No, silly, I wouldn't listen to tapes, but I would use an adapter for my iPod. Those remote ones that tune to radio stations just don't work. And yes, I hear you, voice-from-far-away. You who constantly tell me I should just get satellite radio. But that seems extravagant in a big ol' green Cadillac that is only a set of gold rims away from crossing the Granny-to-Pimp line. And honestly, I'd rather spend that money on shoes.
Music is really important to me, though. I think if you were to look at my cells very closely, they are at least partly made of music. So, the soundtrack of my day seems like it would be too important to be left to chance. But I like surprises. Especially the kind where that song that you didn't even pick was just exactly how you felt that minute. So I listen to the radio.
Tuesday night, heading to the grocery store at nine something, after that awfully long day, I got my weary butt back into the car and heard:
Wait; I'm coming undone; Irate; I'm coming undone (Korn)
Yep. Pretty much. Didn't want to go anywhere else. Pretty angry about my day. Yep. End-of-the-rope.
Thursday night, I had been driving even more and heard my favorite Metallica song:
Anywhere I roam; Where I lay my head is home
Followed by a favorite Led Zeppelin song:
Many times I've gazed; Along the open road.
Yeah. I really have been driving too much.
Somewhere in between Target and my car, though, I took notice of the breeze. It's not often breezy here. Over on the coast, maybe, but not as much inland. And when it happens, I absolutely have to take notice. I stopped in the parking lot and closed my eyes. Probably weirded a few people out.
Got back in my car and heard "Viva la Vida" (Coldplay) and knew I could at least drive back home because that song always makes me want to drive. Preferably in a convertible.
Come to think of it, I may be able to reduce my stress level by tuning in exclusively to the local smooth jazz station.
But I got home and got my packages out of the trunk and stopped in my driveway and let the wind hit me, wishing all the while that I could just follow it some and wander wherever it took me.
Chris must have seen the headlights, because he stepped onto the porch after a while looking for me. And as soon as he saw me, he knew. He said, "What's it telling you, hon?"
'Cause he knows. He knows that I've always felt like if I listened hard enough, the wind might actually be saying something. And I always have to stop and listen to it, just to make sure.
I heard my theme song on the radio this week, too, and lots of happy songs like Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills & Nash). Seriously, how can you not smile and sing with all those doo doo doos (even though it's not exactly a happy song)? That's one of those songs where the harmonies are all so good, I never can pick one, and consequently don't even really know the melody. Oh - and I heard Ventura Highway (America) at least twice - talk about a great driving song!

I'm wishing you lots of happy songs this weekend. Even if you have to make most of them up by yourself. Those are some of the very best kinds of songs.

DAILY BLISS: shoe shopping with my baby girl

Thursday, September 18, 2008


It was pretty fortunate that we had already planned on Blackout Night last night. For reasons we never did decipher, our power flicked on and off several times throughout the evening. There's some road construction going on a couple of blocks up - that's my best guess. The only way we knew what was going on was that the silence was taken to a whole new level when the air filters (kids with allergies!) and air conditioners switched off all at the same time.
Oh, you think it's quiet with no lights and no TV and no computers, but just try turning off all the little fans and things that are "on" even when they're not. It was very quiet.
And very nice.
The kids have begged since the inception of Blackout Night for a snack tray dinner. I usually do this when we're setting up the Christmas tree. It's mainly a summer sausage (I know - particle meat, nitrates, yada yada - but it doesn't happen often), some cheeses, fancy crackers, olives and that kind of stuff. So I went ahead and did that last night and tossed a few slices of Neighbor Tomatoes in with the mix. It was very enjoyable and the kids were so excited for dinner that I had no personal space in the kitchen. They were pressed right up against me on all sides, it seemed, waiting for dinner to be ready. That doesn't happen often, because I force my children to eat things like homemade spaghetti sauce and brussels sprouts sauteed with lemon juice and butter. Oh, the humanity.
As fall is approaching, the sun is setting earlier. Couple that with an impending thunderstorm, and you had an earlier-than-usual need for candles. But the gorgeous soundtrack of celestial rumbling and the prolonged glow of the candles was so soothing.
Our friend Jacob loaned us a fun game to play called Pirate's Cove, with our Blackout Night in mind - thanks, Jacob! We should have looked at it a little earlier in the week, because we pulled out the instruction booklet and it was like a novel. There was no way we could figure it out in the time we'd allotted to gaming. So, we ended up playing a couple hands of rummy instead, once it became entirely too dark for me to knit. The kids were awfully disappointed because it looks like such a cool game. We will have to play it soon, though, or I'll be walkin' the plank, Matey.
Once the kids were tucked in bed, Chris and I played a couple more rounds (best two-of-three is usually how we do it) and I took a candle-lit bath with some peppermint essential oil.
Hopefully, I'll handle today just fine, having been so fortified with peace and silence.

DAILY BLISS: taking care of some nagging paperwork this morning - huge weight off my shoulders, and the hope that maybe, just maybe, I might finish the Honeybee Stole in time to wear it for my party on Sunday

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Yesterday turned out to be one of those days when I found myself dropping the ball.
Things have been going along swimmingly and children have been arriving where they need to be on time and I have picked them up on time. I even contributed to the snack cupboard for Emma's class.
And now Andrew wants to join the tech club at school, which we definitely wanted him to do. They meet on Tuesdays, and I got a flier telling me about a parent meeting on Tuesday (yesterday) at 4:30. So, when I dropped him off, I reminded him to go to technology club. My plan was to stay a few minutes late at work (I have a lot to do in order to be on vacation next week) and then get Emma, spend an hour knitting at my mom's house (where my dog stays during the day), then grab the dog, drop her off at my house, and go to the meeting when Andrew's club was over.
That was the plan, and it was a pretty good one. It required Thinking Ahead and Conserving Gas and Efficiency all those things that moms are supposed to think about.
Before I get into the fiasco, you need to know that, geographically speaking, Emma's school and my mom's house (a.k.a. doggie daycare) are within a few blocks of each other and Drew's school and my house are within a few blocks of each other, and both spots are about 15 minutes apart, give or take a few when you factor in the traffic. So, multiple trips between them really sucks up my car's gas.
And here comes the tale called How My Carbon Footprint Grew to a Size 14:
I picked up Emma and was practically drooling with anticipation over my hour of knitting. We were backing out of the parking space at her school when the phone rang. It was Drew's technology teacher. There actually was no club meeting today, just the parent meeting later. Andrew gets out of school at 2:45. It is now 3:00. My baby is stranded on the other side of town.
Looking like an Irresponsible Mother to all observers, I drive (or speed - whichever) to get Andrew. Because I was technically late picking him up, the dog will now have to wait. Once I got him, of course, I had to drive back to the other side of town to pick up my stupid dog. It is now later than it should be and I have a parent meeting at 4:30. I didn't pack an after-school snack, so we drive through for french fries. Don't tell healthy people that we did that, okay? Then we went home.
I've been letting the kids stay by themselves for short periods of time, and decided to do that rather than drag them to the meeting; I grabbed my keys and headed for my meeting and Andrew asked me what I was doing. He said the meeting was at 6:00. I pointed to the flier that said 4:30. He said the teacher told me 6:00 when she called me to remind me I had a son at school. I said I didn't get a piece of paper negating the first, and I was too panicked about getting him to know exactly what the teacher said on the phone. He rolled his eyes and said I shouldn't expect him to be surprised when I had to come straight home.
I met the vice principal in the office and she offered to walk me to the classroom. No teacher was there. She called the office to look for the teacher. And we waited. We made pleasant small talk for 10 minutes while I was either a brilliant or incredibly presumptuous conversationalist (we'll never know which) and it turned out that Andrew was right.
Oh well.
I didn't have supper in the fridge, so I swung by the grocery store. My fabulous neighbor had left us four fat, gorgeous, fresh tomatoes on the porch. BLTs were definitely on the menu.

I got home at around 5:15. This meeting was supposed to start at 6:00. So I started making those sandwiches.
It became apparent that I'd forgotten to buy the "L."
So, we had BTs for supper instead.
The meeting went fine and I found myself on yet another committee. It's not just a school-wide tech club, it's actually a TSA (Technology Student Association) club with competitions and stuff. It should be fun.
And lots of work.
And I still had to get to the grocery store last night, which left me no choice but the super center. Yuck.
When I finally stumbled in my front door last night, I was pretty beat. I hadn't accomplished much for all the running around and driving I had done. But I fell asleep fast and that was good.
Because our alarm didn't go off this morning.
I am having a quiet visit with Earl Grey right now and am looking forward to this evening's Blackout. Oh, how I need it - even if I don't have time for it.

DAILY BLISS: soy yogurt (can I call it soygurt?) and chocolate-covered cherries

Monday, September 15, 2008


Why is this post called Ketchup?
Because ketchup covers anything and everything, and I plan to cover a lot today. Hopefully, with a fewer-than-expected number of words.
I haven't checked in since Thursday because by Friday, I was pretty sick. Which really made me angry because I was really sick just a few weeks ago. And I just don't "do" sick. I don't like to be weak and needy.
So, I was sick and I had already arranged for each of my kids to have a friend over. I am not good at arranging for friends to come over, so I decided I wouldn't cancel and I'd pretend I wasn't sick in front of their mothers. I hope it worked, but one look at myself told me it probably didn't. My eyes were red-rimmed and glassy and my skin looked pretty clammy and...well, y'know? It just wasn't good. But I soldiered through. Andrew had his buddy overnight and it was really good for him to be with a friend for a while. They went to their first youth group meeting together (youth group! I'm so not ready for this!) and had a really good time, then stayed up all night long playing XBox. Emma's little friend came over and they dressed up and watched Hello Kitty DVDs and giggled and all that good girly stuff. It was pretty cute.
And I crashed at 9:00. That's pretty crazy, if you know me. I have a hard time getting to sleep at night and an especially hard time if it's before 10:30. And in what seemed to be the blink of an eye, it was time to wake up and make waffles for a couple of hungry boys, who had slept just enough to be able to wake up and play more video games.
Then I got to take Emma to a birthday party and pretend not to be sick again. Which was fun. But little girl birthday parties are so sweet - the girls all sit around the table chatting and nobody punches each other. I understand the punching may start around age 15, but for now, that's the case. The party was at a paint-your-own-pottery place with a tea shop attached to it.
(Opera-style singing voice) Heaven! The little tea man in there picked just the right thing for me. I told him I wanted something herbal, with a strong flavor and preferably fruity. Hello cranberry spice tea. It was worth the whole pretending-to-feel-good stuff.
We managed to get home pretty early and I gathered up the fam to head to my brother's new house. Remember the demolition night we had last week? This was just a continuation of that, in a very serious way. I peeled wallpaper, Andrew took up carpet tack strips and Chris chipped tile and lots of it. Emma...well, she meandered around the empty rooms with a fresh notebook, designing and planning. Sarah (sister-in-law) scraped nasty popcorn off the ceiling and Jon (brother) ripped up carpet and threw it out the second-story window. It was a productive day.

Sunday, I woke up feeling a bit better and we celebrated my other brother's birthday with delicious food and lots of laughing. That's pretty much how most things are celebrated around here. Honey-lime-garlic chicken (on the grill), fresh green beans and a new cake recipe. Blackberry Jam Cake, people. Blackberry Jam Cake.

Oh my.
It. Was. Good.
Cloves, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and blackberry jam sounds pretty weird, but you will have to trust me on this. I got this adorable cake book for Christmas one year and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes cakes. Lots of versatility and inspiration in that one. So, I tried making some hypo-allergenic substitutions for the first time instead of looking for a specifically egg-free, dairy-free recipe and it came out pretty tasty. Baking success!
When you put my whole family in one room, it gets a little nutty. I must confess that I laughed so hard last night my eyes were just streaming tears and my cheeks were sore this morning from the workout.

And that brings us to my Making Monday. I am afraid they are endangered. Skipping a day of work puts a dent in my paycheck that is just too much to handle. I aim to squeeze a few more Mondays out before I ditch them in order to check some things off my mental to-make list, though.
And, as usual, my list today was over-ambitious and I only finished one thing. But it was quite a glorious one thing. I made Emma a dress for the Equinox party (next weekend! Aaa!) and it turned out so cute. I found this little download-able, versatile pattern on The Handmade Dress and it was so easy to make. It's the "Miss Madeline" and even I did a decent job with it, which pretty much means that anybody could do this. See?

My, my, what a gorgeous little girl that is.

I pity the foolish boy that wants to date this one in a couple of years.

Have you seen the men he has to go through to get to her?


DAILY BLISS: kitchen helpers (potato washers) and Christmas secrets that are piling up in my head

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Oh My

We seem to be settling into our school year routines pretty well, here. Life is hectic and as our kids get older, it seems to be more and more so, which is never something you consider when they're small. You tend to think of the round-the-clock feedings and sleepless nights as being the ultimate expenditure of your energy, that things will get easier as they get older. And while that's true in some ways, the running around and generally scattered nature of parenting pre-teens (and, I presume, parenting teenagers) just replaces it. I think it's less an expenditure of energy now as it is one of time.
It is really easy to state what you will and won't be as a family when your dear ones are little. It's another thing entirely to live it out. And setting aside face-time, time to really connect with your kids, becomes a real challenge. Not one that you read about in parenting magazines. A real-life, true-for-you-too challenge.
That said, we really enjoyed our Blackout Night yesterday. Once again, we faced down a series of compromises and settled for what we could. Pork chops being the only food in the house and needing to be cooked before they rotted meant that dinner did require electricity, but we ate at the table in the candle light, chips crunching away and mingling with my homemade lime and cilantro salsa. Jokes and conversation abounded and the quiet house made it easier to really see each other in spite of the dim light.
We headed over to my brother's new house after dinner. Jon and Sarah bought a humongous new place that will need a little bit of work but was a great deal. Jon is great at finding deals - always has been. He's a shifty one, that Jon. Some of the work is voluntary. They are knocking out a few walls to open up a really great-big great room. So, the boys all taught my man cub how to wield a rubber mallet and smash things really, really hard. The swells of testosterone could be detected for a five-block radius. There were wall-kicking techniques passed on (the heel - not the toe) and 2x4s to split (hit it at the bottom, Drew), countertops to rip out (I believe my husband handled that single-handedly) and wires to be cautious of (let's take the face plate off before you smash over there, Drew). All of this in the space of an hour.
And that is not to diminish the high-quality work of estrogen surveying the empty rooms. Emma's fingers were snapping as fast as her plans were popping for where to put rugs and where she'd sleep when she got to spend the night at Uncle Jon's house and which room the Guest Room really ought to be, no matter what Aunt Sarah may have in mind.
Then we returned home in silence, salvaging what we could of our Blackout policies. No Nintendos in the car; no radio either. Just bickering children, high on the adrenaline of an hour well spent.
We put them to bed and lit our candles at home. I worked on invitations for my Autumnal Equinox party in the dark. I sent them out (mostly) today and sincerely hope they actually look nice in the light.

I have no idea how this party will turn out. It has been a rousing success in the past (examples here and here), but this year I have virtually no budget and had to move the date to the day before the Equinox due to our flight out to visit Chris' family the day after the Equinox. No way was I throwing a dinner party for 20 and then getting up at 4 AM to catch an airplane. No way, no how.
I am just this evening grasping the reality of what the next two weeks hold for me. It's daunting. And I'm hiding out by ignoring it and making things unrelated to the tasks at hand and sometimes watching Doo-Wop specials on PBS. I do love me some old music.
But there is the Equinox party to be thrown for 20-ish folks, a one-week trip to pack and plan for (and a little something to make for my nephew who I haven't even met yet), two sleepovers this weekend, at least one birthday party to attend every weekend for the next three weekends, and Emma's birthday party plans to have in place. Her birthday will be less than a week after our return home from the trip.
I do so dislike letting people down, but I am quite sure that now, if ever, will the time I step into utter failure as a friend/mom/mom-of-a-friend/wife/daughter/employee/pastor/anything else.
But this is Terrible Thursday. So I haven't time to think of it all. I'm afraid if I do, I will curl up into a ball and not make it to ballet tonight for my Emma. That would be Failure #1, and I'm not quite ready for that. I will save Failure #1 for a more obvious, more vexing moment. Yes. That's just what I'll do.

DAILY BLISS: An Excellent Watermelon.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Didn't

I suppose Tuesday can only be a let-down after a Monday like I just had. Actually, Tuesday is always a little tough because it's my Monday, really - my first day back to work for the week and my desk is piled high and I have to actually get dressed.
And this Tuesday, as I mulled it over, has offered me no stories. No little happenings to turn into a blog-a-riffic tale. I just didn't do anything interesting.
So, maybe I'll think of some things that I didn't do today.

I didn't spill any coffee on myself this morning. That happens pretty frequently, so, it's a good thing. A thing to celebrate.

I didn't forget my lunch. That happens a lot too.

I didn't laugh out loud when the Pastor I work for prayed in our staff meeting. He sounds like William Shatner. "GraciousGod...we..thankyou..for...your. many. blessings to us."

I didn't get to the bottom of the papers on my desk today. I hate that feeling.

I didn't throw out my arms and tightly hug a dear parishioner today, one who I love much, even though I found out he has Alzheimer's'. It's still a secret and I had to pretend I didn't know.

I didn't get into a car accident today. By all accounts, I should have. I was a sleepy and distracted driver. I apologize.

I didn't lick the bottom of the after-school popcorn bowl. Air popped, lots of butter as a treat today (it's usually olive oil and sea salt). For the record, I really wanted to. I am very fond of licking out bowls. I get that from my mom.

I didn't properly supervise homework time today. I'm not entirely sure if Emma actually did all the stuff listed in her agenda. I signed it anyway.

I didn't wait until bedtime to write this. I am absolutely planning on crashing on the nearest piece of furniture and listening to indie folk music. As soon as I hit "Publish."

DAILY BLISS: cooking barefoot, in my ladybug apron (very cheery) and the smell of chocolate chip cookies

Monday, September 8, 2008

Making Monday - Adventures in Sewing

Hello. Kiki the Maker here. I like to make all kinds of things and Monday is my favorite day to do it. Why? Because I don't have to go to work on Monday and my kids still have to go to school on Monday. So I get to make stuff all day long.
And so we shall commence with the show and tell.
I made that nightie that's been in my head for a while. I took a shirt pattern that had the basic shape I wanted (Simplicity 4589) and just made it longer and, let's be honest, a little wider around the hinie too. I had in mind originally the Canterbury nightie that Victoria's Secret used to make. If you know the nightie of which I speak, you are also old just like me. It was long and had a ruffle at the bottom and lace at the top - a square neck and no sleeves. Perfect. They still make it, but it's knit and short and just not the same.
Anyway, this didn't turn out at all like that. It's a little more clean and modern-shaped and even though I'd planned to do the long ruffle at the bottom (using my new ruffler foot for my sewing machine), I just couldn't do it to my nice, clean-lined nightie. So, there you have it. Done. Nightie photos? Eh...probably not appropriate. I'd take a picture of it all on its lonesome if I were not already wearing it. Maybe some other time. But here it is on the machine:

What else did I make today? Well, I finished a party frock. You all know that the Autumnal Equinox is coming soon (Monday the 22nd) and I could not let this opportunity for a themed dress pass me by. I went with Vintage Vogue 2903 and it sure tested my skilz, which are pretty much not skilz yet anyway. For starters, I know this line of patterns doesn't run true to size - like, if you measure and pick the size on the envelope? It will be wrong. So I went down a size and still had to re-adjust a lot. Plus I had to make the petite adjustments because I am very short. And there's this yoke in the neckline that the sleeves attach to? Yikes. Because I had to shorten the straps even more, the yoke was all wonky, and I tried to shorten the yoke's straps, but it was worse, so I just took it out. No sleeves, no yoke. I have been actually working on this dress for a couple of days - I don't want any of you to get the impression that I am magic and can make two garments in one day. And I want you to know that I spent my entire morning making the sleeves and attaching them to the yoke. They were beautiful sleeves that didn't get used. Oh well.
Off-the-shoulder straps and princess seams with big pleats down the front? Nice. My first successful zipper? Even nicer. Make that one invisible zipper, right in the middle of the back. Yessss. There will be decent photos of this one, once I'm wearing my leaf crown and (hopefully) my Honeybee Stole for the party. And my bow-toed black slingbacks, of course. For now, here's a sneak peek at the shoulder (there are still threads to be snipped that you can see):

Oh - and? Honeybee Stole and I worked down about 18 rows today. About thirty-six more rows will mean the end of the middle section. For good. The rest of it should go faster if my memory serves me correctly....and I think I can squeeze in five or six more rows before I get to bed to make this a Very Accomplishing sort of day.

DAILY BLISS: Sleeves! I made sleeves! And they were beautiful! The birds looked at me a little bit funny from their cages, they didn't know what in the world I was making high-pitched squealing noises about.

PS: I'm going to order some lotion ingredients this week. Just putting all interested parties on alert.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hair Day

I got me a haircut today. That's always nice. I sat in Jimi's chair and told him I couldn't decide if I wanted to be a 40s Glamour Girl or a Dangerous Rock Star. And he said, "MMMMMMMaybe a little bit of both?"
And that's why I love him.
And that's also why he says he loves to cut my hair. 'Cause I never want it the same and I always let him do whatever he thinks up.

The weird thing is, I know I've told you all that my hair is almost black, but it just doesn't look like it in the pictures. I swear. It's pretty dark. And I like it in a Dangerous Glamour Girl kind of way.

DAILY BLISS: pumpkin spice candles and cute shoes

Friday, September 5, 2008


Yeah. I definitely need Blackout Night on Wednesday to prepare me for Thursday. Sorry to put you through that yesterday.
I work really hard not to step into the frenetic pace that moms and kids keep these days. I don't think it should be a badge of honor to be so busy that you can't brush your hair and you have to drive the fam through takeout windows for supper four nights a week. Bearing that in mind, I have to say that having only one day a week that's crazy is pretty good. It's hard to say no to stuff, though, when we want our kids to have a little bit of everything in their lives - sports, music, art, friends, culture - it all adds up. And I just won't do it.
Do I feel guity? Oh yes. Lots. Guilty for not trying to find a way to squeeze tennis lessons into our schedule this year. Guilty that I haven't already found a new piano teacher for Emma. Guilty that we don't take family bike rides four times a week for thirty minutes (or however long it is you're supposed to exercise). And guilty that we haven't bought into the modern myth that soccer is essential for every child's development.
But not guilty enough to force myself into the Confines of Normalcy. No. You're talking to a girl who spent a good portion of her junior high hears wearing a giant, hot pink sombrero in public places. I don't mind bucking the system a little bit.
But we do lots of fun stuff and I hope my kids will turn out to be unique and will feel quite comfortable wearing giant sombreros if they want to.
Like dancing in the car. We did a lot of that this evening as we went about our merry business.
I can't go anywhere without music, and even if there's not music playing for all to hear, there most certainly is a sound track in my head. I wake up in the morning with random songs on my mind and I suspect they may have something to do with my dreams. And the only thing that gets my morning song out of my head is what comes on the radio once I have dropped the kids off at school. That's when I turn it up and boogie all the way to work (this is because I am afraid that I may fall asleep if I don't keep moving). Seriously - if you ever spy me on my morning commute, you might just want to look the other way. I don't claim to be a good dancer, but I'm having fun and staying awake.
I think that the music in my head has a lot to do with the way I handle what comes my way. Some mornings, I am stuck with only Neil Diamond or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which are both bad omens in my world. Some mornings, I will catch my theme song on the radio and that bodes well for the rest of the day.
This morning was a good morning. I heard a song that takes me back to my childhood. My memory of childhood is always a bit fuzzy, but I think I remember my brother being captivated by it, having heard it on TV - maybe it was the Grammys. We only had one TV. It was tiny and was, for some reason, located in my parents' bedroom that year. And we were supposed to go to bed. And Jon was riveted and I really wanted to be, but knew I shouldn't because it was secular music (you have to hiss when you say that "s" - and no, I'm not bitter. I had a perfectly happy childhood filled with perfectly good music ). But Jon was always bolder than I. He was a dangerous one.
Even from far away, and even at maybe eight years old, I knew that it contained the awesomest keyboard solo ever. I was a pianist already and I knew things like that.
A-ha's "Take On Me" - I heard it twice today on the radio.
That song always makes me smile. My sound track today was a happy one. And I danced through most of the day.

DAILY BLISS: simply the knowledge that it is Friday

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Okay, Now, Concentrate

This morning, Responsibility dug her cold, unforgiving fingers into my arms and yanked me out of bed when the rest of my body didn't want to and I had to hit the ground running because it's Thursday which is the busiest day of the week for me and involves thorough planning and packing before I even leave the house in the morning and I sat a little bit too long over my coffee because I was still fighting with Thursday about whether I would do it or not and that made my hour-long car time a little stressful because, as everybody knows, if you leave one minute late in the morning, you will catch traffic that causes you to be twenty minutes late to everything else in the world and by the time I got to work, I thought I wanted to sit at my desk and knit because I have a rather mindless job and I am usually so on top of things, but instead I found my desk piled high with meaningless tasks and paperwork that forced my body to frantically spend the day copying and sorting and mailing and publishing while my brain was quite free to wander and be stressed out about the to-do list it was holding for me, knowing full well that nothing could be done about it at work anyway, even though most of it is self-imposed (I find that I am able to put more pressure on myself than I would ever allow anyone else to do) and I found that I had to rush out the door and leave the Pile-That-Has-No-Bottom on my desk to wait until I come back tomorrow and I picked up both of the kids, managing to work a little bit of Honeybee Stole knitting in (that thing has totally been kicking my butt) while I sat in the car lines and I scooted into my mom's house to grab the guitar that's been sitting there (because I remembered to drop it off this morning) instead of in my trunk so it wouldn't overheat and then we headed for the music studio for Andrew's guitar lesson where I was anticipating his first baritone lesson as well (which means we actually have to remember two instruments) and I made Emma bring her homework in and I told Andrew that he could switch out instruments and grab his homework to do in the half-hour between guitar and baritone lessons and we headed in to the studio and found out that there wasn't a slot yet for baritone so we had to regroup, but I managed to knit a little bit on that stole while Andrew quizzed Emma for her tests tomorrow (I'm really glad I didn't have to do that) and when we left I caught the slightest bit of nice breeze out and realized that it was pleasant and not at all humid, even though it's awfully hot, and I really didn't want to do any of what I had left to do, but I had to so we headed to my mom's for a finish-the-homework pit stop and headed to Chick-fil-a for supper because I don't have time to cook between Drew's lessons and ballet, and my husband really cracked me up across the table at dinner, which was nice because I had to spend the rest of my evening feeling greasy and smelling like french fries, so at least that was something, and at dinner I found out that I missed the first Open House of the school year because I neglected to write it in my paper brain and his stupid school doesn't send any paper communication so I forgot all about it and now I look like a sucky mom and have no recourse by which to contact his teachers and find out how he's doing because I feel so out-of-touch and we dropped back by our house to change for ballet and I made a few phone calls and left Andrew at home to wait for Dad, who was following closely behind us in his work car, and we made it to ballet on time, which is great because I didn't think we would and they danced to the Pas de Deux from the Nutcracker, which is my favorite because it always-always-always breaks my heart in the very best of ways and I started back in on that Honeybee Stole, because I had nothing else to do, and found that I was actually kicking its butt this time and upon that discovery found myself thinking things like, "take that you silly bits of string!" and "who's in charge now, you big wuss?" and realized that I was totally taking my aggression out on this thing of absolute beauty (honestly - I can't wait to finish so you can all see it!) and felt a little bit bad, but not as bad as I felt about missing the Open House at Andrew's school (insert feelings of utter failure and doom), only to be redeemed when one of Chopin's Etudes started playing and I saw Emma doing her rond de jambes and I started feeling a little bit better and made a few more necessary phone calls on the way home and realized I was just having one of those days that feels like an enormously long run-on sentence.

DAILY BLISS: a wildly animated (because it had to be super-short, and how else are you going to pack a catching-up into three minutes) conversation with a friend-I-bumped-into in the Chick-fil-a parking lot

Blackout Night Returns

With all of the mess going on around here (hurricanes, Dear Husband gone, school starting up, etc.), Blackout Night has kind of slipped into oblivion for the last few weeks. Oh, we've had a couple hours here and there with the lights off, but not a real Blackout Night.
I do not intend to let that happen often.
We are going to try out Wednesdays as our new night, since our schedule has definitely changed with the start of the school year and new activities all 'round. So, last night, just as we were getting ready to turn off all the lights, I heard the shattering noise of glass falling onto my bedroom's cement floor. Ohdearme. It could have been worse, I must say. It was only a bottle of fragrance oil that I use for making lotions and stuff.
But it was a big one.
It was the Emma's Garden oil and it had probably 12 ounces of concentrated fragrance oil in it, which was now all over my painted floor, floating tiny shards of brown glass in it. So, it was going to be a strong-smelling Blackout Night, which required the lights to be on a bit longer while we tried to get it all cleaned up before the oil took the paint up off my floor.
Some things are just going to be difficult in life, aren't they? I'd had a whole day of getting almost-somewhere and then not quite making it.
Anyway, I stuck my husband on Cleanup Detail while I put together our dinner - salad with raspberries, sunflower seeds and goat cheese with raspberry vinaigrette. I know. My kids eat and actually like weird stuff. I absolutely love that they proclaimed things in the gray-ish, fading light like, "Wow, Mom! This is a really good, creamy goat cheese! You picked a good one this time!" as they shoveled fork-fulls of salad to their mouths.
It makes up for the other weird stuff kids do.
Once fragrance oils and dinner were cleaned up, we gathered back in the living room for a game of Scattergories, which is becoming a family favorite as the kids are more and more able to think of words to fill out their lists.
And here's my observation about last night - Blackout night is usually this quiet, peaceful time of being unplugged, but I think a couple of weeks without doing it has really thrown us out of practice. It was really hard this time not to turn on the TV and not to check my email. Maybe it's because I was pretty tired and just wanted to zone out. I don't know. But this time around, we had lots of loud laughing and shouting and forcing each other to look up words that were on our lists because some of us make up words (not me this time!) and are quite sure they're real.
This time, it was anything but quiet and peaceful.
But it was still just as refreshing and deeply connecting and it still narrowed our focus down to just each other. Which is the whole point.
And once the kids were in bed, I went to my sanctuary, my bathroom, which was already lit with candles and drew myself a quiet, peaceful bath.
A bath without any Emma's Garden fragrance oil in it at all. Because, thanks to the oil spill, the whole house already smelled like peonies, raspberries and lilacs.

DAILY BLISS: Chatting in the car with Andrew - I love the time between carlines, when it's just Drew and me in the car. I know he won't "talk" to me forever, so I'm eating it up while I can.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor(less) Day

We made good use of our annual passes on Monday and took the kids to Sea World. We've gone several times this year, but only once all together, so it was a treat. The sting ray petting pool is one of my favorite spots. I always head straight for these guys at aquariums and such. I don't know why. I just like 'em a lot and they seem to have more personality than you'd expect. These guys wondered where I'd been. They poked their cow-ish noses out of the water and greeted me, then swam by slowly, just in reach, flicking me with their fins. I guess they're called fins. I don't feel like looking it up.

We enjoyed the aquarium at the end of the Journey to Atlantis ride. Not that we all rode it. I made the grave mistake of taking the kids on it earlier this year and they kinda freaked out. This time, just Chris went on it and then we all enjoyed the fishies.

Mostly. The eels whispered evil hisses at Emma. They know a noble and good princess when they see one and they don't like her.

And the pretty jellyfish...I really love them.

We let the kids pick out an oyster to get their own pearl. They've wanted to do this all year and we finally decided to let them. You know, it's a little pricey for one stinkin' pearl, but sometimes the experience is worth it.

And then the little man in the store, the one who cleans and measures the pearls, offered to have them set in jewelry. I'd done this before, but was really not expecting the hefty price tag he foisted on me for a measley little setting - without even a chain. It was, like, $80 or something. Drew, of course, didn't want his set, but we decided that Emma would have to just keep hers in the little bag they give you.
And do you know what happened? That man in the store was very ugly about us not buying the gold setting. He got all huffy and in the end, he threw the receipt at Chris! We will never, never, never be buying anything in there again.
But the whale and dolphin show redeemed it. That one's my favorite show - even more than Shamu. Really. Those dolphins really have fun when they're out there and it's obvious.

And the whales enjoy it too.

DAILY BLISS: cookin' out with the fam and laughing at my brothers