Friday, February 27, 2009

Tales From the Knitting Basket

The time has come to 'fess up.
See those projects on the side bar? The "Things I'm Working On" progress bars?
Well, Nana's Shawl has had a bit of bad luck.
Don't worry, Nana, there's a happy ending.
I cast on this shawl, using the Waves of Grain scarf pattern from Knitty as my guide. Basically, I doubled the width to turn it into a shawl. But it's mostly a chart and I'm not-so-good with charts, so I translated it to written instructions and I really don't know what happened from there. There was this mystery stitch that kept appearing at the end of the row. I'd do a quick fix, like knit two together to "hide" it, and {poof} it would re-appear in the row the next time around. So, this thing was riddled with mistakes. Some of the yarnovers (holes) weren't quite where they were supposed to be and I had fixed a lot of small errors and...

It's wonky. Horrendously crooked. I don't think any amount of blocking could fix this. To top it off, I wasn't loving it. Lace can be forgiving - the untrained eye doesn't always see the mistakes. Blocking can hide a lot of errors, too. But I think the reason I wasn't loving it was the constant parade of mistakes and repairs. I had just completely lost my mojo. This shawl that should have been finished a month ago was not even halfway completed, because I dreaded picking it back up to work on it.
I have been knitting gangbusters for two years now. My first lace project was only, like, two weeks after I learned how to knit and purl, and it looks fifty times nicer than this foul thing.

It's laughable, really.

Last Friday, I took measures into my own hands. On a whim, I looked at Chris, lumped the amorphous red tangle of wool into my lap and said, "I'm frogging this."
He blinked a couple of times, knowing what that meant. The countless hours and tinking back and re-knitting I've done on this have all been for naught. But I was desperate. I turned to Ravelry and started looking at all the patterns and immediately found one that I loved. Actually, I couldn't wait to cast it on. Apologies: I will have to look for the link when I get home later. But here's a little preview:

While my camera didn't like the red color in full sunlight, you can still tell that it's got the prettiest wavy lines and little sprinkles of beads throughout. A touch of glamour. Just like my Nana.
Anyway, I reasoned, who wants a gift that was knitted in strife? Isn't it better to have something stitched together with warm thoughts and joy? So, before you start thinking you will never get this shawl, my dear auntie (I know this is confusing...we call my aunt Nana), know that I have nearly caught up to the 40% mark already, which is where I left the last shawl to languish. And I'm having fun with this one, which means it'll be done faster. Well, that reason, and also because I got two hanks of laceweight cashmere in the mail last week for another project. I have promised myself not to cast it on until I've finished with Nana's shawl. And my fingers are just itching to get that cashmere working.
And just to keep it real, I'm moving that progress bar back a bit to honestly reflect where I am with this project.
Tonight is knitting night* and I expect to have a bit more of it done before I go to bed.

*Jessica? I don't know if you'll catch this in time, but since you live awfully close to me, I wanted to make sure you know you're welcome to come to knitting night and hang out - it's tonight and every last Friday of the month. Even if you don't knit. Honestly, some of the girls just come for the cookies. Or, if you want to learn, we love to teach the newbies. Post a comment with your phone number or something (I won't publish it) and I can give you directions if you want.

DAILY BLISS: a Marilyn Monroe moment - skirt in the wind - that (thankfully) nobody else saw

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kids' ATC

I signed Emma up for a kids' artist trading card (ATC) swap last month or so. It's a really cool concept and I first heard about it at House on Hill Road (the original post can be found here). The idea is that an artist will create original pieces of art on specifically-sized paper (2.5 x 3.5") and they swap cards with other artists. Some people are serious ATC collectors, even! Like Pokemon for grownups, I guess.
Anyway, this was an opportunity for kids to create and share with other kids around the world and I thought it would be right up Emma's alley. I would have passed the link on to you all, but by the time I found it, the deadline was almost up. Here's hoping there will be more swaps to come, though. I'll be sure to let you know if I hear of any more.
Lots of people are posting photos of their kids' work in a Flickr group, too, which is really fun to peruse.
I thought I'd post Emma's work here, though, in addition to the Flickr group. Cause, you know, a mom likes to show off now and again. These are all rather unusual, considering her personal style. She normally works a lot with pencil and draws elaborate, story-filled pictures. But these are really colorful and I really loved the titles she ascribed to each of them! They made me laugh, but I tried to keep that to myself.
"Sunset in Antarctica"

"Assorted Citrus"

"I've Got My Eye On You"

"Enchanted Fruit #1"

"Enchanted Fruit #2"

I love how she confidently puts whatever she wants on a piece of paper and tries new mediums fearlessly. I hope that stays with her forever.

DAILY BLISS: toasted coconut shortbread cookies in the oven <3

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blackout Night: Mostly

I've had an interesting couple of days. Yesterday, I ran into two of the most random people I know. Both of them were at the park (where I had not intended to go, but had let Emma talk me into) and neither of them knew each other. But they were talking to each other just the same. One of them is a guy that works for the city doing random stuff, so he was actually working at the park. He's a musician and a swim coach too. And informed me that he's now going by his middle name. I can't imagine why a person would change their name like that once you pass 30-or-so years old, but it honestly doesn't surprise me that he would.
And he kinda looks like Jesus.
I'm just sayin'.
The other guy was an old boyfriend of mine - my first real boyfriend. He's also a musician. And an artist. And nothing at all like Jesus. But we keep in touch and run into each other here and there. He was at the park searching out some inspiration and I suppose that's what I was doing too. Otherwise, I'd never have let my daughter talk me into it.
We three had the most interesting conversations and Boyfriend Guy took a picture of Jesus Guy, having found his face inexplicably inspirational and I walked away, shaking my head at my funny life.

We pressed on with Blackout Night tonight, even though I didn't really feel like it. I had too many things on my to-do list. But I laid the fate of the evening in my steadfast husband's hands and was, as I always usually sometimes am, grateful for his "ability" to stick to a course of action once he's decided on it. I say "ability" because I do not always view this trait in such a positive light.

But enough about me.
We went on our walk and swung on the swings at the park and the guys tossed the football around a bit. We came home, turned off the lights (mostly) and had a fantastic sandwich, inspired by a recipe from this month's Better Homes & Gardens. Roast beef, olive tapenade, fresh tomatoes and spinach. Oh, and a little Dijon mustard with mayonnaise. Only, it was vegan mayonnaise, dangit. I'm allergic to eggs.
We read almost an entire chapter in The Hobbit. That takes forever when you're reading it aloud. Try it once. You'll see. Oh, and you have to try it with British accents and gruffy dwarf voices. Then you'll really see.
Then we flipped the lights back on and went about the businesses that we all had on our agendas, and I find that I'm really glad we went ahead and carved out those couple of hours.

PS - guess what came in the mail today?

My dress! The one I've been saving up for! And it's every bit as gorgeous as I expected. It's been kind of a fiasco, though. I've not told you all about it because I wanted to save it for the big reveal, which will have to wait, because I have no pictures of me in it yet. That will be remedied soon enough by my sister-in-law and her new camera. But I wanted to go ahead and tell you that I got it. Suffice it to say that I went to the website to drool over it one day, before I'd finished saving up for it, and it was sold out! In the end, my lovely Anthropologie store in Tampa tracked one down for me and had it sent...all the way from Seattle! And I love it ever so much. I. Have. Never. bought myself something like that. So, there's a nice pinch of guilt stirred in with my pleasure.

DAILY BLISS: gorgeous weather and orange blossoms

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hello, there

Well, hi. I don't really know where I've been. I haven't said anything here for several days and that's rather surprising. There have been things I thought of writing and just didn't. There have been things I thought were interesting and it turned out that they weren't. Sometimes you just don't have much to say. And I don't really suppose that's changed much, but - here's the odd thing about blogging - I feel compelled to check in, say hi and give you the rundown of our weekend anyway.
Saturday's art show went well. It was a Family Fun Fair sponsored by the Lakeland Women's Club or something like that. They have art on display from students around town and little activities and crafts set up.
Emma's selected piece was a bit of torn paper work depicting an astronaut with a jaunty ponytail:

A couple of her friends also had pieces on display. It was very fun to run into them while they were all wearing their "Featured Artist" name badges and feeling important. Also, there was a juice-and-cookies reception. It does not get better than that.
Later on Saturday, I endured the pageant birthday party. They had a girl come in and do hair and makeup for the "contestants" and Emma got glittery green hair spray. She was awfully proud of that. Here she is in full regalia, makeup, an old Lapis slip dress (that I found ages ago at a thrift store for a steal) and full-on stilettos from Nana (whose grown-up feet are the same size as Em's 8-year-old ones, so the hand-me-downs are deliciously fun)

The scarf was an add-on of her own choosing. She also wanted a brooch and some costume jewelry. When I suggested that might be too many accessories, she replied, "You can never have too many accessories!" Of course. I should have known.
Here she is on the runway. She was Miss California - "Starr Golden."

She had a pretty good time, but I did not. I don't know that I've ever been in a room with more fake boobs. I don't mean to come off like some self-righteous hippie. I just mean, you know, it wasn't my crowd. Having my second grader shake her booty on-stage to a song called "Nasty Girl" isn't my idea of fun.
Sunday afternoon was spent with my bestie, a chick flick and a tasty bottle of wine, and no children. That did much to heal the party damage.
I am knitting furiously and will update one and all with an entertaining and shocking tale from my knitting basket soon. I just hope to have a few photos and a little more information before I bare my yarn-y soul to you.
I guess there was more to say than I thought!

DAILY BLISS: strawberry jam, made by my dear friend, eaten by the spoonful. no need for bread, thanks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Just Some Stuff

1) Having had a frank conversation with my brother (who's in real estate) about the current housing market and particularly the historic housing market, our selling-and-moving adventure is now over, faster than it began. We have been working on a few projects, getting the little place in tip top shape. And now, we get to enjoy the benefits of it. And honestly? I'm relieved. I really love my house. I just needed a good, solid reason to put in the work it will take to continue squeezing four people into it.

2) The adventure of committing, long-term, to squeezing four people into my beloved cottage is now at the front of my brain. We will seriously look at a small addition. But even construction loans are tough to come by these days. What we may need to do is just live a little smaller. But just between us, I'm hoping for the former. I really want enough living space to host a sleepover. And I really want a bedroom. Chris and I currently sleep in the converted back porch "bonus room" that doesn't even have a door.

3) This makes it easier to commit to a few gardening projects this year. That is one of the things I'd wanted to learn about a little bit in the coming year, so knowing that I'll definitely be here through the growing season helps out with that a bit. I will be reading about urban homesteading and square foot gardening. We'll see if I take to it. So far, I know that I kill green things.

4) I have both of our cockatiels on my shoulder right now. They're very happy to be out of their cages for the first time today and they're all puffy and chirpy.

5) There are deep thoughts about job stuff too. But I'm wishy washy enough, what with the whole "sell the house - no wait! don't sell the house!" stuff. I don't need to start in on a "quit the job - no wait! keep the job!" thing too. Suffice it to say that we all know I'm not cut out for the nine-to-five. And sometimes it really wears on me.

6) Emma is going to a beauty pageant birthday party tomorrow. It's also supposed to be a clue-style mystery party. I don't really know what I think about this, but she's also got a piece in student art show in the morning. So, that ought to shore up her independent thinker side a bit before I send her into the insipid, shallow world of pageantry. It's all about balance, people.

7) I'm really sleepy this week. It's totally weird, since I usually have a hard time sleeping. Maybe I'm just that relieved to know I'm staying in my house. Maybe my body's fighting off some of the myriad viruses going around. Maybe I'm just doing too much. But you know what? I think I'm going to roll with it. G'night.

DAILY BLISS: hanging out with family and looking at photos from my dad's trip to Israel

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blackout Night: Scattered

Yet another Wednesday passed and as I looked forward to the evening - to Blackout Night - I smiled smugly and decided I'd title my blog post "Routine" just as I'd planned to do last week when plans went awry. And yet another Blackout Night failed to be routine.
Oh well.
I should probably look into giving up my need to control my life.
It was a pleasant evening nonetheless.
Chris got home a little later than usual, but I had everyone dressed and ready for our walk. And as I was thinking about the salad I was going to make later, I thought about the fact that Publix has their rotisserie chickens on sale this week. And I thought how nice a bit of protein in the form of meat would be with that there salad. Meat protein has been a little sparse around here as we tighten up our financial belts a bit. And I asked Chris if he wanted to walk around the lake or the neighborhood, because if we drove to the lake for our walk, we'd be close to a Publix and after all...I know how much he, my big, strapping hero-of-a-man liked to have a little bit of roasted meat. And it wasn't like I was going to cook it or anything. That would break Blackout Night rules, I know. But Publix already cooked them. The energy was expended well before 6:00 PM.
Chris thought that it sounded good. He was impressed with my altruism.
Just kidding.
He said it would be convenient because we had to get my brother's truck back to his driveway tonight anyway. So we'd do that while we were out.
Then I looked at the clock and it was already 6:00. How would we drive to the lake, walk for 30 minutes, drop off the truck, get to the grocery store, drive home and make dinner before the kids' bedtime?
Eh. We skipped the walk.
It's okay, because we walked yesterday and I think we'll shoot for Friday too.
But the salad? It was great. You will all want to try it, I'm sure. So, it's not really original, but I'm going to post the recipe anyway. Besides, the strawberry vinaigrette was a big hit.

Strawberry Spinach Salad
1 bag baby spinach
1 quart strawberries
1 cup sugared pecans (remember these from Christmas? I made 'em yesterday in anticipation of this salad)
Gorgonzola cheese (only if you like. my body and dairy don't get along, so if Mama ain't gettin' cheese, ain't nobody gettin' cheese, so we didn't put any cheese in ours. i just thought you might like it.)

Of course, you know how to put together a salad. We cut up about four or five strawberries per person and this served the four of us amply, with a nice salad left over for my lunch tomorrow.

Top it off with:
Strawberry Vinaigrette
(I adapted my own based on this recipe for raspberry vinaigrette)
1/3 cup strawberry all-fruit jelly
1/4 cup light salad/vegetable oil (don't use EVOO - the taste will be too strong)
4 t. rice vinegar
4 t. cider vinegar
1-2 t. dijon mustard

Whisk together carefully - that oil will splash up at ya.

The kids were absolutely quiet as they ate. By candle light, of course. I asked them why and honestly, they both said they were too into the salad to talk right at the moment!
We continued on with reading The Hobbit. I am surprised by how much they are enjoying the book. Emma is following the story remarkably well, considering the unfamiliar (but beautiful) language usage and such. We read the chapter with Gollum in it the other day. My kids have been hissing out phrases like, "What's it got in its pocketses?" and "nasty hobbitses," day in and day out.
I love it.
We've left the candles lit and the kids are in their quiet time now. I'm hoping that the settling-in that finally occurred will stay with me for the rest of the night.

DAILY BLISS: smelling the orange blossoms on my very own tree!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Afternoon Hour

On Mondays, I have an hour alone with Andrew while Emma is in chess club. On Tuesdays, I have an hour alone with Emma while Andrew is at TSA (tech club). Sometimes we just run errands, but sometimes (with no small amount of effort) we manage to do something a little special.
After mulling over our options in the car, Emma and I decided to spend our hour at home today. We picked up some blackberries at the grocery store for our afternoon snack and she wanted to carry them to the back yard in her little picnic basket.

We wiled away our hour in the remnants of the warm sun, feasting on blackberries and a shared Honey tangerine.

We assumed pretend names and mysterious accents and discussed what fruits and vegetables we would be growing in our imaginary gardens. And I browsed my new yarn catalog from Knit Picks. Oh, so many things. So many things that I want to make.

Speaking of making, I got me a little bit of instant craftification this week. I made this super-cute little shirt for Emma.

I've had it in my mind to do a couple of really simple shirts for her summer wardrobe, and then to make up a sort of pattern, so I can make her several. This shirt started with a pillowcase dress tutorial and if I could find it again, I'd link you to it. As it is, I printed out the instructions and my dog threw up on them. I threw them away. So, if you want to make one, Google is your friend. Instructions are easy to find. Only, they're all dresses for little girls and I wanted to make a shirt for a big girl.

It took a little tweaking. Any others I make will have a nicer channel at the top for the tie. I made it too long in the arm hole at first, then I cut it down from the top and it was too short. But, you can't un-cut, you know, so I had to narrow the channel quite a bit and it's really too small for the fat, pretty bow.
But that's okay. It's easy peasy to make and it's perfect for summer activities. Like hanging around on the swings.

I promise I haven't given up on the satin robe. It's coming along slowly. I have to fix a couple things I screwed up, put on the hook-and-eyes around the waist and hem it. That's it.
And knitting progress is cold-molasses slow. It's going, but it's not going fast.
I really needed a quick project that only took an hour or two from start to finish. And I feel so much better now. I'm making one more shirt for her, a different one, and I already think I might make it differently next time. Pictures soon, I promise.

DAILY BLISS: Dudes. I found the secret to weekday-worthy steel cut oats! It's absolutely my favorite breakfast, and I found a natural foods store that sells steel cut oats in bulk - for a great price. The only thing is, it takes forever to cook. I found out last night, though, that you can bring the water to a boil the night before, stir in the oats, remove it from heat and let it sit overnight. It basically absorbs the water and you pretty much just re-heat it in the morning! Wahoo!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Honey, Please

We went back outside today to finish up our garden box. We planted some beets and a few lettuces. Chris and Drew moved on to other projects and Emma and I moved on to the swings. She swung higher and higher, making the swingset creak and moan.
Then I noticed another sound.
A humming, buzzy sound.
And lo, I saw, verily, rising over the top of our neighbor's fence, a great swarm of bees.
Em slowed down her swinging at my command and the two of us watched the cloud of bees and wondered what had caused it. I yelled for Chris and Andrew to come and see it. About the time Andrew rounded the corner into the back yard, though, I noticed that the swarm was moving toward the swings and, well, Emma and me.
So then I calmly told the kids to get in the house now.
By the time Chris came around to the back yard, the kids were in the house and I was up out of the swings and he and I looked at those bees moving closer to our swingset and wondered what was going on.
At first, I'd thought maybe our neighbor was harvesting some of their honey, but his family was at church. And the only thing I could think of that had made a stir in our yard was the creaking of the swings.
"How odd that they'd be angered by that noise," I thought.
And then, I spotted it.
In a dead branch, hanging right over the play set.
A dripping, humming, angry-looking swarm. Look closely. Do you see that black mass up in the dead branch? Yeah. I didn't either at first.

It was positively apocalyptic.
And I think our swinging disturbed it.
And we went inside.

This afternoon, when our neighbor came home, we asked him over to check out the swarm. He said it was definitely a swarm, not some kind of colony in the tree. That whole mass is just made up of bees!

It's a little early for them to be swarming like that, he said. But it's a sure sign that spring is here. Oh, we might see another cold snap or two, but generally, once the bees swarm, winter's done.

I guess he had split a couple of his hives, looking to increase their honey production a bit. He and his wife are looking to start supplementing their income by selling their honey. Which sounds fine to me. I'm happy to help them out there. I like to buy honey and I like to eat honey.

So, he brought over a bee box and his smoker, climbed up close to the branch and smoked all those bees out till they were happy and a little high (that's kind of what smoke does to bees), and he shook the branch with all his might. Once the queen landed in the box, the whole mess of bees started crawling right in through the opening. And he puffed a little extra smoke at them, just for good measure. To keep them happy.

It kind of reminded me of that awful scene in the Indiana Jones movie (The Crystal Skull one) with the giant ants. Shudder. If you haven't seen that one yet, just remember to close your eyes when you see giant ants. You won't be sorry.

I'm still not sure if our swinging noises angered a swarm that was already there, or if it was just coincidence that we happened to be right there when a swarm occurred. I didn't want to ask because my neighbor already thinks we're kinda funny city folks. Even though we live in the city, technically.
Regardless of the cause, though, it's something that you sure don't see every day. And it added a bit of excitement to our weekend.

DAILY BLISS: a round of mini golf to celebrate excellent report cards


Chris and I don't typically celebrate Valentine's Day the way most couples do. I mean, I make it a point to let him know I love him all the time, and the same goes for him. We don't need a special day, y'know? We usually focus on making it a fun day for the kids instead, and we do some nice little something for each other. Then we can buy the chocolate when it goes on sale on the 15th!
The last couple of years, I have been working and Valentine's Day has been on a week day. That's been hard for me. My head would be full of ideas and I had no time to execute them. Last year, the kids were both disappointed to wake up and find that there was no strawberry milk for breakfast and no candy on the table. I felt so awful!
This year, though, it fell happily on a Saturday. I had the whole Saturday to pretend I was a stay-at-home mommy and I cooked and celebrated to my heart's content.
It was good.
I have learned to make a few compromises, though. There are things that the kids don't mind and that make my job easier. For example, I used disposable dishes all day long. The table for breakfast was not elegant in my estimation, but all they see is candy and a candles. Oh, and robots full of candy. Aren't those so cute?
I made pink, heart-shaped waffles with homemade strawberry syrup.
Mr. Valentine Bot would like a bite, please.

Mrs. Bot has a little secret compartment on her chest. It shows you just how she feels.

The rest of the day's menu included artichokes (they have hearts, you know) and tomatoes (also known as the love apple) for lunch and heart-shaped pizza for dinner. I even ventured out into the territory of soy cheese and made a "special" pizza for myself. It was, uh, not quite the same. But it didn't give me a tummy ache. That counts for something. But my kids love my homemade pizza, so they were really excited. Oh - and we had "children's wine" to drink for dinner. That's sparkling grape juice, actually. But it sounds so much nicer when you call it children's wine and serve it in goblets.
We spent most of the day in our back yard working on the kids' Christmas present. I know that sounds weird, seeing as Christmas is long gone. But, we actually gave them a Home Depot gift card and a promise to build a garden box. Andrew has been a little interested in gardening and has brought a few things home from his school garden and dropped them into the dirt in our yard. They've actually done pretty well. So, I thought we'd do a little something to encourage that in both of our kids. Plus, I've been intereted in gardening too. I have a brown thumb and I'd like to do something about it.
Anyhoo, pest control is a real issue here in Florida. we don't have nice winters that kill lots of bugs and our ants are outta control - especially if you till up some nice, sandy squares to plant stuff. In an effort to control that a bit, I decided to start us off with a little elevated garden box.
After the. longest. ever. trip to Home Depot (I should have known that Chris would take the time to pick out the straightest, truest, most knot-free boards they had in stock), we ventured back and set to work.
Some of us set to play instead. And that's just fine.

Emma turned the space under their playground into the Tiki Hut, an ice cream & smoothie shop. She decorated it with leaves and flowers from around the yard. I ordered a blueberry smoothie. It was surprisingly light and airy.

Chia Shrek held our plans steady so they wouldn't blow away in the wind.

And my sweet valentine did the manly work. Oh-me-oh-my. I do love a man in action.

Drew got in on the power tool action.

And Emma, in all of her delicateness, tried her best to do a bit of hammering.

In the end, all of our hands touched the project in some way. It's not a huge bit of construction, but it's ours.

And here is the almost-finished box. We'll line it with landscaping fabric and fill it with dirt later today. There will hopefully be more pictures and stories coming from our garden efforts. I plan to try the whole upside-down tomatoes thing. I promise you'll know more about it than you ever thought you wanted to know.

And? To make the day even better, when I stopped at the fruit stand to buy tomatoes, I fell victim to the annual trap. A half-flat of strawberries at a great price. I do not know how we'll eat them all. But look at them.

Would you have been able to resist? They smelled so wonderful and looked so beautiful all jumbled in their box. I had to bring them home with me.

Hey. Wait a minute. There's a pint missing from this half-flat! Who in the world? What? Where did my berries go?

Did you know that a whole pint of strawberries can be consumed in 128.7 seconds? This is completely anecdotal, mind you.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Andrew participated in his first Solo & Ensemble Festival on Friday. For those of you who are not band geeks, this is an opportunity for band students to play a solo in front of a judge, who offers them constructive criticism and encouragement and gives them a rating. It's a pretty big deal. I still have all the medals I earned from this sort of thing. I think he signed up without having any clue what he was doing. He just likes to sign up for things. He was, in fact, quite surprised to learn after he'd completed his solo that there would be a rating. I had to explain the whole system to him. So, he was duly pleased to find that he had received a "superior." That's the best rating you can get. And I hear some of you already going, "Of course he got a superior. He's an amazing kid!" But know that it's not easy to earn that rating and he's only been playing his instrument since August. The judge was pleased with his performance. Then he asked how long Andrew had been playing. And he was floored. Flabberghasted. He kept trying to offer a little further instruction and draw a little more musicality out of this phrase or that, but several times he stopped mid-sentence, looked over at the "audience" (me, my mom, and his band director) and just saying, "August!" So I know he was pretty impressed. So, for those of you are interested, here's the solo:

DAILY BLISS: A lovely Valentine's Day which I will tell you all about tomorrow. I hope you had a lovely one as well

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blackout Night: Interrupted

I spent most of my afternoon yesterday composing a post in my head titled, "Blackout Night: Routine." And that's what it was going to be. Remember last week? I thought we'd hit on something of a magic formula of walk, salad, read. And I was really looking forward to that routine.
We hit all of our afternoon errands on time and stopped to grab some salad ingredients. We got home and practiced all instruments and did homework. I was getting the kids into some walkin' clothes when Chris called me. He'd received some gift cards for Chili's and wondered if we'd mind eating out. Heh. Mind? We could just walk after we eat out and still read and still call it Blackout Night, right? So, yeah. We ate out. We'll eat our salad tonight to make up for it.
But while we were at the restaurant, Andrew said he wasn't feeling well. I guess some kind of virus has been ravaging his school. Tons of kids are missing school. He actually did have a fever, so we decided to skip the walk. We could still read by candle light, right?
Well, we ended up sending Drew to bed when we got home and Emma and I worked on her class valentine goodies by candle light instead. Which was peaceful and sweet and calming, if not exactly what I'd had in mind.
But we hadn't worked for 20 minutes or so when we were interrupted.
My sister-in-law Mindy came over with her new baby.


Somebody get my mom a paper bag.
Mom? Just breathe slowly, OK?

Her new camera baby. She's been waiting and waiting for a real, grown-up DSLR for a long time and they got a great deal at Circuit City, since the company's closing up shop and everything's on sale. She got the 40D (I'm not sure which lens, but she got a lens too). I am so jealous! So, obviously, we couldn't play around with it in the dark. We turned on the lights and we both squealed a lot and talked about things like aperture priority, ISO and shutter speed and we took lots of funny pictures of Joe, my brother. Cause, you know, he's funny like that.
But the time came for them to leave and they had to take Canon with them, so we turned the lights back out and just sat in the quiet. We sent the kids on to their rooms and continued to sit in the quiet.
And the strangest thing happened.

I fell asleep on the sofa.

At, like, 8:30.

DAILY BLISS: my mom took me out for lunch! yay!

Monday, February 9, 2009


Spent roses in my bath.
Spent me in there too.
My head trying to anchor my heart in the present,
Telling it to be
My heart arguing
What if this isn't what
I('m) meant to be?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Crafty Gifties

It's getting to be about time for a crafty post around here, don't you think? It's been a long, dry month as far as creativity is concerned for me. Lest you think I've been making things all January long, you need to know that what I'm about to show you is partly Christmas craft. Mindy and her Christmas apron have been very hard to photograph. She prefers to be behind the camera, I think. I finally cornered her tonight at a family get-together (in celebration of her & my mom's birthdays). Unfortunately, it was already dark, we were inside, and my camera's aperture only opens up to 2.8. Sorry that these are not sharp and beautiful photos. Also, I had to resort to using the flash.
Apologies aside, here's the cute little apron. It's from the "A is for Aprons" book that I bought earlier this year. I wasn't completely in love with the pattern once I started making it. I'm something of a sewing novice and the instructions weren't as clear as I'd like them to have been. But I managed to muddle through and pull it together.

I saw this cute fabric in an online fabric store. It's a Japanese cotton print by Lecien. I love it. I saw those little squirrels and the red partridge and it just screamed "Mindy!" to me.

I love how it looks with the red and white polka dots so much, but when you trim it up with this sweet little green velvet ribbon? Oh, my. I can't take it.

So, Mindy's birthday is around the corner, too. But since it's so close to my mom's birthday, we usually celebrate them together. I knew she'd been wanting one of these slouchy berets - the Le Slouch by Wendy Bernard. I had the wrong weight of yarn, so I had to fudge the pattern a little bit. Heh. Is anybody out there surprised that I tinkered with the pattern? I didn't think so.

Anyway, I was doubtful as I knit it up. It seemed like it was too small. It didn't seem like it was going to slouch right. I re-started it no less than three times. but as soon as I started the decreases at the top of the hat, I was in love. I may even make one for myself!

Because I'm pretty sure Mindy's keeping this one.

DAILY BLISS: taking in a matinee

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's Berry, Berry Cold

I know I've said before that I love to see the strawberry fields in the morning when we've had a freeze. But I've been waiting for an opportunity to show you what it looks like. The farmers turn on their irrigation systems to coat the berries with icy insulation. It minimizes the damage, I guess, by preventing them from getting colder than 32 degrees. So you end up with the sun rising over fields of sprinkling water, rainbows, icicles and berries. So pretty.
I pulled over to the side of the road on my way to work this morning. I tried to find a corner of Fancy Farms where there weren't any news reporters or farmers monitoring close by. I didn't want them to feel like I was invading their privacy or hampering their work, you know. Protecting strawberries is business that I take seriously. I really, really like to eat strawberries. The safer they are in the cold, the more there are for me to eat later!

See the rainbow? It was a nice surprise.

Ice isn't much of a novelty in most parts of the country. But it is here to be sure. And I would suspect that you don't see green plants covered in ice just everywhere.

DAILY BLISS: earl gray tea and the feeling of my trench coat with wide-leg pants (I don't know why, but I love that swishy feeling when I walk)